Saturday, November 26, 2011

Mars Science Laboratory Launch Successful!

Phew! I am so glad it launched on the weekend and not during the week!  I didn't want to have to worry about putting our "safety plan" into place in the event the launch wasn't successful.  (Basically it just involved getting indoors, making sure all doors and windows were closed and shutting off the AC.)

I wasn't able to see the launch from my backyard because of the clouds, but I did hear it.  To see a great video of the lunch, see below.

NASA Video of the launch:
Whoo hoo!  Imagine my surprise today when I checked my blog (I've been neglecting it!) and saw that that Ms. Helms at Work Smart, Not Hard Teaching Kindergarten had given me the Sunshine Award!  Thank you!!

Here are the rules for accepting this award:
1. Thank the person who gave this award and write a post about it.
2. Answer the questions below.
3. Pass the award to 10~12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs and let them know you awarded them.

My answers to the questions:
  • Favorite color?      One color...can't do that....I love EARTH TONES.
  • Favorite animal?    Kitty cats, large and small 
  • Favorite number?   6 (the size of my immediate family)
  • Favorite drink?      Non-alcoholic: Coffee; Alcoholic: Gluhwein
  • Facebook or Twitter?  Facebook ...haven't figured out don't want to figure out Twitter (I don't need another addiction); Actually, my favorite is FLICKR...
  • Your passion?   Besides my family....During the school year I dive completely and totally into teaching Kindergarten; On vacations and summertime my passion is photography
  • Giving or getting presents?    Giving.  (But I will be completely honest...I love getting, when it's photography equipment or technology.  Selfish....but they are things I can use to share with the world.)
  • Favorite day?     When I can sleep in!  Or TRAVEL DAY!
  • Favorite flower?  That would probably have to be the sunflower for its symmetry, its strength, its tendency to follow the sun, and it reminds me of Europe)
  • Here are the blogs I am giving the Sunshine Award to.(Oh, this is SOOO hard...I follow HUNDREDS of incredible teachers!!1)
  1. Mrs. Jump's Class - she's the one that got me started on classroom blogging.
  2. KinderGals - I saw Kim at a Kindergarten conference in Orlando and she was great!
  3. Work Smart, Not Hard Teaching Kindergarten - gave me the Sunshine Award AND has some great Ten Frames activities (among MANY others!)
  4. Chalk Talk - Slews of great activities
  5. Kindergarten Crayons - Where do I begin....
  6. A Place Called Kindergarten - Have you seen her Totem Poles? Next year....
  7. Kinderglynn - so creative!
  8. Kleinspiration - such a great resource on educational technology, blogs, all things related to teaching.
  9. Learning With Mrs. Parker - I learn so much from her!
  10. Teaching Blog Addict - I don't know if this characterizes as a blog that I can award, but it is a blog....even if it is a compilation of great blogs!
  11. Peace, Love, and Kindergarten - as a child of the sixties, you gotta love a blog with this title!  Seriously, great ideas on this blog!
  12. Pocket Full of Kinders - love watching her metamorphosis

Sunday, November 13, 2011

If It's Broken, Fix It!

My class website, which I've had for years, finally "broke".  I don't know if it's that I am using FrontPage 2002, and it doesn't work with my updated OS or what happened.  But I am tired of trying to figure it out.  So, I opted to make a class blog instead.  I don't feel I have the freedom to be as creative with it, but I do like features of a blog that you don't have with a regular website such as RSS feeds, widgets, etc.  Now, I know that if I do a search, I could find software that makes a more modern day website which would allow for the best of both worlds, but until then, here's my class blog:  Mission Kindergarten! 

I decided NOT to make the URL have the name in it just in case I want to change the name of the blog.  I can keep the URL ( and change the design as much as my little heart desires!  (Note:  Our district uses Edline, and that's the link for my webpage off the district site....but I have a link to my blog from there and tell my parents that's where they'll find the information for my class. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Anyone see 60 Minutes two weeks ago?

If so, then you saw the new app that was shown which has opened doors for autistic children/adults.  It is called Proloquo2go.  It's amazing!

How Many Days Have We Been in School: Ten frames page for binder

It seemed like the first two months of school went by very slowly and all of a sudden....WHOOSH!!! The weeks are flying by.  What I am NOT experiencing this year that I did last year after about six weeks is that feeling of "settling in" and feeling like the frenzy has settled down.  I feel as frenzied now as I did at the beginning!  :-)  Anyone else feeling that way?  Some of us in our district feel it's because of the added pressure of the new teacher evaluation program.  I think it's a couple of things: the recession, starting the year out with an over-crowded classroom, AND the new performance appraisal system which has required a lot of effort at the time of year when our energies needed to be expended elsewhere...catch my drift?!

Today I spent all day in the School Board Meeting Room, attending the Primary Math Contact meeting.  We learned today that we will start implementing the CCSS next year in kindergarten and first grade, probably.  But, in comparing the CCSS to our Sunshine State Standards, it doesn't look like it's going to be a huge leap.  Phew!  I am about 'leaped' out!

One thing I FINALLY did tonight that I should've done at least a month ago was to create a page for our calendar binder for the children to count the days we've been in school using ten frames.  Here it is:
How Many Days Have We Been in School?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Brief Respite

My youngest child is a freshman at the University of Florida and plays for their Club Soccer team. This weekend they were in Rock Hill, South Carolina, for Regional Finals. My husband and I decided to take a short break and travel to see her play. It took about 8 1/2 hours from our home in Florida.
I told my husband it was JUST the break I had been needing! We arrived just in time for the changing of the leaves, some cold weather, and some unplanned surprises! Today we went for lunch in Old Town - downtown, and decided to eat at a small restaurant "bistro". Much to our amazement, we discovered we were eating in the old McCrory's that became famous in 1961 when nine African Americans/protesters went in and sat down at the lunch counter which was for whites only. They were arrested, there was a trial, and rather than pay bail which they felt subsidized segregation in their town, the nine chose to go "Jail, not Bail".

The original counter is still there, as are the stools. The stools now have engraved plaques with the Friendship Nine's names. One of the ladies in the restaurant took the time to tell us the history and said that some of those original nine still come in to the "bistro" for lunch!

What's amazing to me is that this year is the 50th anniversary of that protest. That's hard to believe! That wasn't that long ago! (I will post photos when I get home. I can't figure out how to do it from my iPhone.)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Fabulous Fifties!

Yesterday was the fiftieth day of school for us, and in some respects it felt like it was too early for it to be the fiftieth, and in other respects, when I look back to the turbulent beginning, it felt like it should've been the 100th.  All in all we had a wonderful day, but I'm plum tuckered out, physically and mentally!  It's time for a break, I think. 

We've also had an unusual fall so far, in that illness hit us early, even before any changes in the weather.  Our class has been battling strep, the flu, and pneumonia for a month!  One of my little cutie-patooties missed the 50th day and wearing her "toodle" skirt because she was diagnosed with bronchitis and pneumonia on Thursday evening!  That's our third case in two weeks.  A friend of mine who teaches at another school said pneumonia is making the rounds in her school as well! 

All this illness hit before we had our first "cool weather" which arrived Thursday night.  We are having temperatures in the low 50's at night and 70's in the day.  It is invigorating and inspiring!  However, I know that in another day or two we will be back in the 90's.  <Big sigh>  NOW we are getting into the kind of weather that usually brings us all the illnesses.  My poor babies! 

Ah, well....back to the fifties!  Last  year was our first year celebrating the 50th day of school.  This year, I gave all the plans to my room mom and asked her if she would coordinate with all the other room moms.  They did a bang-up job!  Here's a shout-out to Amy Brandes!!!!  Our activities in the cafeteria included:
  • Coke or root beer floats with optional chocolate syrup and cherries
  • Bubble-gum blowing contest/patterned bracelet making
  • Hula hoop to 50's music, bubbles and all
  • Photography stations with a professional photographer/mom
  • Dance station to 50's music
In the classroom, we:
  • Made checkerboard headbands in by making an AB pattern forward and AB pattern in reverse (or just start with the opposite color)
  • Made a modified Venn Diagram with hula hoops to compare inventions from "Then", "Now", and "Both"
  • Used math mats to count out our collections of 50 things by 2's, 5's, and 10's (or at least to give the kids the idea of different ways of counting and to practice counting from 1-10)
  • Used five and ten frames to build concept of number

My Peggy Sues and Elvises

A Ducktail

Hula Hoop and Bubble Station

Bubble gum bubble blowing/AB patterned bracelet station
(Note:  On Thursday afternoon, our kindergarten team received a box of paints that we had ordered, and instead of "bubble wrap", the company had used this "bubble wrap" - a looooong streamer that had a bubble gum logo on it!  We couldn't believe the humor of the company nor our luck!  What a great decoration for our tables!
I went off to school Friday morning, leaving my packed camera bag on the kitchen table!  I was running late and knew I couldn't go back home.  But it occurred to me when I was in my classroom that I had the new Apple iPhone 4S with a great camera and all my new photo apps!  Woo hoo!  This one was taken with the "Hipstamatic" app - it gives it an old instamatic (50's?) feel!  Notice the "bubble wrap"?!
Another Hipstamatic photo - she thinks she's blowing a bubble!  But hey, who am I to burst her bubble?  :-)
One of the many decorations our room moms made by hand!
What I am trying to show you in this photo because I haven't received the photos from the professional photographer yet, is a tiny little peek at our photography stations.  Directly behind the girl in the black-colored shirt is a door hanging that has a cut-out for faces - a boy's and a girl's.  The children stood behind, and stuck their faces through the holes.  They look like fifties dancers.  When I get the photos back, I will post them.  They were adorable last  year, so should be this year, too.  The moms added a second station.  They paid for a huge black and pink balloon arch and hung sparkly streamers in the middle.  Then the children stood in the middle for a photo.  I can't wait to see those!  I am still amazed at one the moms planned and set up for the kiddos!  (You might be wondering what the kids are doing in this photo...Well, the photographer/mom's toddler is in the stroller and was getting quite fussy, so the kids waiting for their photo to be taken were trying to entertain her!)

Modified Venn Diagram - "Then", "Both", "Now" with photos from the Internet
We weren't quite finished at this point.  We hadn't added the iPhone, iPad, Smart Car, etc.
Math Mat - Counting by 10's
One of our moms works at Steak n' Shake and gave us the diner hats!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Popcorn Words

I saw a great Home/School Connection idea over at Growing Kinders for practicing sight words at home.  I made my own sheet to send home to my parents with a few changes to match our "terminology" and included some ideas for parents on how to practice with their child.  (Hope that's okay, GrowingKinders!  Mine is free and yours is also free, so I hope it's not a problem.)  Click on the picture to download the page for free. (Our students learn the D'Nealian alphabet, so the title is in D'Nealian.)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Chicka Chicka Photo Album

In keeping with our "Chicka Chicka" theme, I took photos of all my students and put them into a photo album.  I'm going to put it in our class library so the children can start learning each other's names.  I put a little monkey on each shoulder for fun!  They haven't seen the album yet because I just finished it.  I expect a lot of giggling!  (I do similar things with other class photos by putting Gingerbread men or other 'cartoon-type' characters in the photo and the children and their families LOVE it!).  If you'd like a copy of the album, please visit my Tpt store!

Ahhhh, it's so nice to have a weekend for some R&R....Twenty four little ones is a bit much for me!  Florida's class size amendment says we aren't supposed to have over 18.  After Labor Day we will get a new teacher and I will go down to 18! (And that will make it our fourth week of school!)  Whoo hoo!!!  When I started teaching in 1978, I taught kindergarten with 27 little ones in a portable and no assistant.  BUT, we weren't teaching them how to read and write, and little ones back then didn't seem to come with so many issues as they do today.  So 18 today is plenty, plenty for me!  I'm just curious, how many students do the rest of you have?  Are you full day or half day kindergarten?  Do you have an assistant? 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cole's Pups has a GREAT crayon posters giveaway!

Cole's Little Pups has some really cute bulletin board ideas.  I especially like the one she has with the crayons and the posters that go along with the book "The Crayon that Talked".  Next week will be our color week and we'll be wearing a different color activity each day and doing some science activities with color.  As soon as I finish my lesson plans for the week, I'll share what we are doing.  But for now, head on over to Cole's Little Pups!

Monday, August 8, 2011

I am so excited!!!  I just received my "Gingerbread Man Loose in the School" book today and am trying to think of how/when to use it in my classroom. We do the gingerbread hunt all over school to introduce the kindergarteners to all the places they might go in the school, but this book is a different take...The gingerbread man thinks the children have left HIM and he goes all over the school looking for him. I could do a Venn Diagram contrasting places we go/he goes in the he feels/how we feel when he gets lost.....Any ideas all you super-bloggers out there? I am certainly feeling my age today and I'm too tired to think. The kiddos start back to school on Wednesday!  BTW, this book was seven dollars more through the local bookstore.  Since I had (just expired this week) Prime shipping with Amazon, I bought it!  I'll add to my collection of Gingerbread Man stories.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Melanie, over at the Blog Pond is having a $100 giveaway from her eBay shop! Take a look around at her blog and shop!

Monday, July 11, 2011

is having a giveaway. But hurry, it ends today!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Swarm of Buzzing Kids is giving away a Birthday Pack

Swarm of Buzzing Kids is giving away a birthday pack for free.  Just write about her blog and then email her/comment and she will give you the pack.  I know that I would love to have it because I don't feel like I've done enough to make my little kinders feel special on their birthdays.




CPALMS - Resources for the teacher to teach the standards

FCRR - Florida Center for Reading Research:  Activities for Reading Centers


Math Videos for Teachers

Suzanne over at Guided Math Study Group posted a great link!  I am reposting here.  The Annenberg Foundation has professional development videos showing how children learn math:  or click here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Castles and Crayons is having a Giveaway!

Castles and Crayons is having a Giveaway - a $15 Target gift card! Who couldn't use a gift card to spend in Target's Dollar Bin?!!!

Castles and Crayons

Monday, July 4, 2011

Navigating Blogs for Blogaphobes!

<Chuckle>  I wrote this for some teachers that I was with at a writing workshop recently.  I briefly showed them blogs and how to use them, but knew that if it were ME, I would go home and say, "HUH?".  So, I put this together so that not only could I share it with them as well as my colleagues at my school, but so that I could better understand them.  I am also new to TEACHER blogs.  I have stalked hundreds of blogs throughout the year and have been in awe of what you have on your blogs. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, all of you out there who've influenced my classroom greatly, without your even knowing!

Click on the picture to take you to my new TpT store to download this freebie.  If the link doesn't work, you can click on the TpT logo at the right. 

P.S.  I was limited on space, so I couldn't include the oodles and oodles of blogs that I follow and love!  Forgive me! 

Miss Liberty and Miss America!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Life's Daily Miracles

Some of you might've read an earlier post of mine that had a slideshow of some "parsley worm" caterpillars I discovered in my garden.  Out of nine, I managed to save three of the caterpillars.  They spun their chrysalids, and TODAY the first one emerged.  A swallowtail!  I will have to do more research on the exact name.  But I felt so blessed to be an observant of this miracle that happens on a daily basis all over the world, but is just so incredible!  Like the quote on our kindergarten website says: "There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."  That's why I feel my kindergarteners start out like little caterpillars, and emerge as butterflies!



I just discovered this great website, somewhat like Tumble Books, but not just books. There are songs, poems, etc. You can subscribe for the full website, or just take advantage of the free files!


Friday, July 1, 2011

Monkey-Themed Nametag

 I start off the year with a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom unit, so I created these nametags for my students' desks.  I decided this year not to buy the fancy desk nametags that have all the other information on them because they always turn out to be nothing but desk decorations.  Instead, I put that same information in an "Office" (file folder) so the students can bring it closer to their eyes, carry it with them to another work area...
Click on picture to download.

As Junie B. Jones would say, "Wowwie, wow, wow!"  I was so excited when I opened up my email and saw that Lettering Delights was having such a huge sale!  They are offering many of their cute alphabets and backgrounds that you see above, on some of my freebies, and on MANY of the downloads you have found on the other blogs or units through Teachers Pay Teachers.  When I found this site, I felt like I had found the MOTHERLODE!  Seriously, you need to click right on over there now and get these fonts/alphabets/graphics while they are such a 'steal'! 

Free Product