Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding ways for movement in time intensive kindergarten

I got to to thinking after reading some of your thoughts on the lack of Play in kindergarten that there must be ways to get kids moving and having fun that still fit within the constraints of "curriculum centered, time intensive" kindergarten. Our day is jam packed with curriculum (read: reading, reading, math, science and more reading that is all scripted) that I think I had forgot about what it means to have fun.

You see, even specials have been cut for us 1/2 day kinders. No recess, playtime, pe, music or computer time. Art lit once a month, library once a week (during eld!). That is our fun. The rest is time stamped and pretty closely monitored. where does that leave time for a fun lesson? silly time? anything???

Well, this week I decided that any moment that I found, no matter how short it was, I was going to do something fun! So far it has been through short Mark D. Pencil songs that get the kids doing silly things while following directions and incorporating movement and exercise. The kids have LOVED this time so far and I am actually finding that it is an awesome positive behavior support for my lessons! I told the kids about my goal and that whenever we finished our lessons and had extra time we would do something fun!

I am shocked that I just figured this out...but I am loving it!! I think I had become so focused on trying to get everything in that I forgot what it felt like to be a kindergartner. They need this time!

 I'd love to have you join me in the challenge of "doing something fun!" and hear your feedback of what you try!

(This post was written in response to the Five Star Blogger Challenge posted on the Organized Classroom Blog. I <3 Charity Preston!)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

multi-administrator observations

Have you ever heard of instructional rounds? Well, we just had them at our school today!

A group of principals and district administrators visit each of the schools for a day and spend 20 minutes observing each classroom looking for one specific "problem area" that the principal addresses ahead of time.

Sounds scary, right? Well, I thought we were exempt because we were originally told that kinder would not be participating. I was surprised to find out (when I opened the schedule last week!) that not only were we in fact a part of the rounds, but we were first up AND the superintendent was going to be in my room!


I have been a ball of nerves for the past couple of days. 3 principals and the superintendent were going to watch my class during 20 minutes of a reading lesson.

Would my kids behave? Would they feel my nerves and act crazy?
Would the kids get the "first grade sound" that I was teaching?? (we have moved on to blends and today was /ar/) Or would I just get blank looks and zero engagement??

Well, I am happy to report that it went well!! The super didn't end up being able to make it, but the other principals and district admin looked happy and my kids were awesome!

I'm interested to see if we ever hear about what the feedback was...

phew! now it's time for a nap! ;)

Thursday, April 5, 2012


My principal emailed me asking me for my schedule a couple of days ago. At first I was scared that it was because I was doing something wrong (I won't get into that) but it turns out it was because another principal really liked what she had been telling him about my 1/2 day program and he was interested in how we did things.

I got a chance to talk to her a little bit more about that today and apparently the other school is having problems with fitting everything in, (aka they still have playtime daily). Their scores are reflecting that fact.

 This made me really conflicted and sad.

On the one hand, I am SUPER proud of the accomplishments of our 1/2 day kinders at our school and would LOVE to share how we do things at our school. We do some things that other schools in our district do not (i'm sure they have wonderful things we don't do, too) but it saddened me to think that what we are doing might take away playtime from another school.

I told this to my principal and we talked about how I feel that play is seriously lacking in our program, but given the standards we are working towards it is simply the only way to get it all in. We try as best as we can to get "fun" in while teaching to the standards, but it doesn't come close to free play. I SO wish it did. but it doesn't. Our playtime is limited to once a week on fridays as a positive behavior support incentive.

I am so torn.

Do you have time to play in your 1/2 day program?
Bee's Kinder: once a week

 How long is your day? 
Bee's Kinder: 2 hr 20 minutes

How long do you play?
Not long enough (about 15-20 minutes)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Growing Grass

Today when my students came into class they were VERY interested in what I was doing. Our mornings are normally very routine. Me at the door saying hello and checking in with the kids while they do their morning work. this morning, all was the same except for one thing....Mrs. Bee was at a table with dirt and cups.


Cue children who were SO confused!

You see, it's time for us to plant our own grass! If you know me personally, you know that I LOVE to work in my garden. Spring is so fun for me because I get to watch my yard turn from a dormant yucky winter mess to a beautiful green , ok kind of greenish yellow (work in progress) with lots of flowers blooming.

In our classroom we get to see the same thing. We each get a cup of dirt and grass seed and by caring for it each day we get to watch it grow and eventually take it home. We write about the changes we are seeing and get to learn about how each seed grows at a different rate, even when they come from the same mixture.

It is a great reminder to the class myself that we are all growing still and some faster than others. Planting seeds and watching them grow is just what I needed right now!

Now all we need is a little bit of sunshine to speed up the process! ;) C'mon, dreary Oregon weather!