Friday, September 20, 2013

A Friday Afternoon of Painting Zombies and Rainbows....

You know, I remember being in preschool and kindergarten and it seemed like we painted almost every day.  I don't remember seeing any looks of stress on my teachers' faces when they brought the paint out.  I don't remember going home with any splotches of paint on my clothes or in my hair.  I just remember painting -- I remember the smell of tempura paint -- the real stuff, not the watered down washable kind they manufacture now.  I remember the big, huge paint brushes that were put into our little hands and it was as if someone had just handed us a magical scepter.  Painting was just something we did, and everyone smiled and everyone took home beautiful art. 

Fast forward to today.

I brought out the paint so we could do a project being that it is Friday and everyone is tired and hot.  I purchased pizza boxes to be used (Pinterest project!) as containers for all of the First Grade activities that parents want to save through the year -- they will now have a nice storage box for all of it.  The pictures on Pinterest were of course these beautiful pieces of art -- each child with a perfectly placed hand print on the box and their name written in beautiful script.  I saw the picture of the end product -- each little student holding a box that was awesome.  After today I went back and looked at that picture again and realized there are a lot of adults in that picture, too.  Evidently those beautiful boxes were not entirely the work of kindergarten students.  Well, there was only one adult in our room today and I thought I would give the students a bit more freedom -- "Paint some kind of nice picture on it or a pattern of some sort and we'll add hand prints," I told them sweetly.

Getting the paint out was fine and explaining how to carry it and not spill it went well.  For the most part, they did pretty good.  No huge messes -- although we found out we do have one little butter fingers in our class who dropped the paint six times!  As I circulated around the room I saw students painting outside scenes, pretty trees, houses, people, rainbows....and then I came across the zombies.  "What are you painting on your box?"  I asked.  "Zombies," answered the little Firstie.  "Ah, I see...," I said.  "And does your mom like zombies?"  I asked.  "No, she hates them," answered the little fella as he continued to paint. 

So, although the meaning behind the boxes may have been lost on some of my students, they did enjoy the painting and a break from the work.  The boxes are all spread out across the room, drying.  Except for that zombie one.  That one is roaming around aimlessly.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Busy Bees and Happy Campers!

As first graders we are always busy!  This week we have been learning more about our friends, practicing and reviewing our numbers, enjoying an art activity drawing Mrs. Polaski's favorite animal, and building words using Play-Doh -- getting ready for our Daily Four.  I'm so proud of these new firsties -- they are building stamina in the classroom and working hard!  That's a big change for them this year and they are handling it like champions.


We are on week two of our new year in First Grade and it is going great!  The students are enjoying their new classroom, getting comfortable with their new settings and learning how this classroom functions.  It's a lot to take in for a little first grader, but they always do better than expected with all of the new information.  Here are a few pictures of our new classroom!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Full Circle

It sure is quiet in here.  I have Pandora music playing quietly and I'm sipping on an actual cup of hot coffee that hasn't been warmed up over and over.  I'm enjoying the silence.  The books are collected, the desks and lockers are cleaned out, and the mailboxes are packed with the last of the last.  It's 3:59 and I'm looking at some empty desks and oddly enough, even though we still have two half days left and even though my 27 students have at times truly tested my patience, I almost miss them a little.  Today was a day of true excitement...the day of cleaning.  Everyone knows that day in school -- we used to have lug buckets and rags to school in order to scrub the 9 months of filth out of our desks.  Cleaning day is always that day when you KNOW summer is coming and school is ending and ALLELUIA! Let's Celebrate!  Today was that day in first grade.  My kids were giddy and smiling, giggling and goofy.  There were some that were sad, but then quickly remembered that summer means they can sleep in and watch cartoons and play games and not come to school and oh homework!  The sadness doesn't last long.  Teachers get excited, too.  The end of one year always means a brief intermission and then the beginning of the next.  It's the life cycle of school -- everything comes full circle on the last few days of school.  It was a good year, kiddos.  I hope you enjoyed it, I hope you learned something and I hope that some day when you look back on your first grade year, you remember that teacher...what was her name again?  She was funny.  She liked to read.  She drank a lot of coffee.  She loved us.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


We are ready for our last week of school.  I have mixed emotions, as usual.  I love summer and I love knowing I have some time with my daughter, but I'll also miss the everyday adventures of first grade.  This year we have a Hawaiian Beach theme to our last week, so it is all decked out and ready for students to arrive!  We will kick off Monday with a Read-In.  Students can hang out in the pools, bring their own beach towels and chairs to lounge in and enjoy some good summer reading!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Finding Perfection...

Finding a quiet spot to write....

I love this picture of my sweet Scarlett....sitting and writing.

 Today as my students worked on Daily Five, I couldn't help but want to take pictures.  It was a room buzzing with conversation and students moving this way and that, but when you looked closer, you realized they were all on task, working on writing, spelling, reading and listening.  I loved it!  It was my favorite moment of the day, and I wanted to share it!  This is perfection!   

Thursday, February 21, 2013

We Are 100 Days Smarter!

Izabelle concentrates....
Connor flips....
After several snow days threw a wrench in our calendar, we were finally able to celebrate our 100th Day of School!  In elementary school, that's a pretty big deal and we usually have quite the celebration and this year it was no different.  We enjoyed many 100 Day Activities, such as Flipping a Coin 100 times and graphing our results.
 All Flip a Coin 100 Times worksheets can be found on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT), which is where I do all my shopping!  I'm not sure what the students liked more -- the thrill of having to go "all the way to 100" or learning how to flip a coin "the real way."  Either way, each student enjoyed the activity and learned more about how the number 100 can be broken apart into two different numbers.  Look how they concentrate! It's amazing!!  ----------->>>
Cora and Cameron work, work, work!

Freddie counts....
Autumn writes....
 After a quick snack, we enjoyed making 100 Words I Know booklets.  The kids had a blast walking around the room and seeing if they could reach 100 words.  Every 100 words earned them a pack of Smarties (since they are so SMART, get it?).  I don't yet have pictures of our next activity, but they will come soon.  We worked on creating a list of things we would be when we were 100 years old.  Some examples were that we would have hairy noses and ears, we would be called Granny, and our teeth would fall out.  We then created some really awesome "self portraits" of ourselves at 100 years old.  Pictures will be posted soon of some finished products.

Kaysen finds 100 words...
Lastly, we ended our awesome 100th Day with a sweet treat and challenge.  I told my kids that I would happily give them each a Blow Pop sucker, but there was a catch:  they had to lick it 100 times before they could crunch into it!  It was fun listening to them attempt to lick the suckers and count to 100, and although I know I heard some early crunching, some of them were quite serious about making that challenge!  Overall, we had a great day and we all left school feeling pretty happy-go-lucky and ready for 100 more!

My Wild and Crazy Bunch of First Graders!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Heart-to-Heart....

I love the time leading up to Valentine's Day.  There is something about the ooey-gooey-ness of love that makes our hearts pitter-pat.  I remember the fun of making Valentines -- getting out the red and pink construction paper, hearing that sound as my safety scissors would slice through -- you know the sound.  I loved ever-so-gently dabbing on small pools of Elmer's glue, sticking on little puff balls of reds, whites and pinks, and finally having a use for those white paper doilies.  I remember sitting with my mom on snowy afternoons and cutting out decorations to hang on our windows at home.  It was always such a nice, quiet time -- she always paired it with hot chocolate and music playing in the background.  Knowing her, it was either the Beatles, Fleetwood Mac or Linda Rondstant.  I loved those afternoons.  We would cut out paper hearts and have our own little heart-to-heart talks.  I knew in those quiet moments with my mom that she truly loved me.  I think sometimes those are the quiet moments  that some kids are missing out on today.  It's a busy, busy world and it's practically impossible to have a family without having to work.  Add in all of the sports and extra curricular activities and pretty soon we hardly have time to say good morning and good night.  Now that I'm a mother I have promised myself to make paper hearts with my daughter.  I can't wait to sit at the table on a snowy afternoon and watch as she cuts through construction paper and signs her name with several X's and O's. 

And so to the parents of my students I have a little "homework" for you.  Try not to look at it as "yet something else that we don't have time for."  Look at it as a moment for creativity and expression and heart-to-heart conversations.  It's that time of year to make our Valentine's Day boxes!  Get out the red and pink papers, break out the glitter glues and ribbons -- it's time to think of something fun together.  I've added some example photos I found online to get your creative juices flowing -- but a shoebox, some paper hearts and and glue will do the trick, too.  Whatever you choose -- choose to have fun and to truly enjoy the moment with your child.  Valentine's Day is February 14!!