Summer Intention

I’m beginning to feel like it’s finally summer.  School has been out for a few weeks and I feel myself beginning to lose some of the stress from the year.

This summer I plan on taking a few classes and get my daughter ready for college.  I will also take my dog for a walk, make many visits to Dairy Queen and enjoy some family time on the lake.

The beginning of the new school year will be here soon enough and I will need this time to recharge and take on a different perspective if I want to be of any value to my students and families in the fall.

Hope you are enjoying the beginning of summer and can carve out a little time to relax, too.

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Last Day and Tough Decision

I said good-bye to my class last Thursday.  It was a great day filled with fun, memories and a bit of sadness.  For the past 5 years, it’s been tradition to have an autograph signing party.  Each child wears an old t-shirt and the children use Sharpies to sign their name on the back of each other’s shirts.  It’s so much fun and the class loves the activity.  I also allow them to sign my arm which they think is the greatest thing ever.

At the end of the day, the parents were all excited to tell me how much they loved the class and how their child has blossomed throughout the year. I have to agree with this statement as all the children are more than ready to move up to the next level.  I teach the highest grade at the preschool and all children will move on to private or public Kindergarten next year.

I have to admit, though, this year was the worst I have ever experienced in all my years as a preschool teacher.  We have a very small group of teachers and administrative staff.  I felt there was very little support,  and most times, I had to handle problems in my own way.  For this, some may say, I acted in a way that was not like my natural personality but more like a wacked-out crack-head.  If I have to be honest, I say most outbursts were due to frustration and the knowledge that our school has lost some of its “essence.”  The educational quality is still there but the environment has changed dramatically.

Some tough decision will have to be made this summer.  Do I suck it up and stay the course or do I make a break?  I know I will be disappointing several families who have waited a long time to have me as their child’s teacher but is that enough to stay?  I’m good in the classroom and my attitude does not reflect in how I teach or act toward the class and parents.  However, there is always a bit of an edge and a I find it difficult to separate what is happening in my room to what I see going on around me.

No one is indispensable and someone else may have more wind in their sails to carry on next year.

 

 

 

Happy Birthday – chirp, chirp

Today is the birthday for this little guy.  He really struggled to break free of his shell and he was exhausted afterward.  The other chicks kept pecking at him to hurry up so they could play.

chick

All the baby chicks will visit our room next week so the class can watch them play and communicate with each other….hopefully some of my students will pick up a few pointers on teamwork…..end of the year goofiness is in full swing.

 

Mom’s Day Lunch

You know the school year is nearing the end when our class hosts our annual Mom’s lunch.  Our school has an open door policy and friends and family can visit and spend time in the classroom any time they like but our special Mom’s lunch is the one they look forward to the most.

For about two week before the big day, the class is busy preparing special items for their Mom’s.  The highlight of the goodies comes in the form of a Mom’s portrait, a Mom’s dolls and keepsake box.

You can tell the children are interested and engaged in these projects because of the on topic chatter and the attention to detail in their Mom’s portaits.  The Mom’s dolls were also amazing.  The dolls are actually quite complicated and use multi-step directions from cutting out the doll form, to adding clothing, drawing appropriate facial features, gluing down hair and adding a monogramed necklace.  Each one is an original piece of art.  The last project entails making a keepsake box to hold special treasures.

Our school is lucky enough to have involved parents and each child had a Mom take the time from their day to come to class.  The children were out of control with excitment but eventually we made our way to the tables were everyone enjoyed eating together.

Our children are so lucky to have parents that care about them and you can feel the love.  It was a great day!

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Classroom Pets – a love story

I am lucky enough to work in a preschool that allows and encourages all types of classroom pets.

The best pet story I can recall is when my gerbil escaped from his cage overnight and I found him behind the file cabinet 3 weeks later.  Yea, that was a good one – but the better story comes from the time when I had two gerbils sharing a cage.  The pet store clerk said, go ahead, get two gerbils, they like the company and I’m like, OK, that’s cute, the class will love it.  They are both girls, right?

The class did love it until the day I came into the room, flipped on the light and discovered six tiny, wrinkled, pink, hairless baby gerbils in the cage.  Let me tell you that baby gerbils are not cute no matter how hard you try to convince yourself.  I turned my attention to the culprits and railed into them…Dude, really, you couldn’t keep it in your fur?  Are you that weak-minded?  Weren’t you packing little gerbil protection?

And you, Missy, with your innocent sultry eyes.  Did you seduce him with a paper towel roll and a romp on the wheel?  Did you seal the deal after you rubbed all against him with your soft ears and long whiskers? And now look at you, a young mother with six babies and a baby daddy that sleeps all day and goes for wild wheel rides at night.  Obviously, you are both young and foolish and did not think this through and you are both NOT girls!

When I think of baby animals, I think cute, furry and doe-eyed but that was not what was waiting for me in the cage that morning.

Has all necessary features....cute, furry, doe-eyed.

Has all necessary features….cute, furry, doe-eyed.

I was thankfully made aware that the babies need to leave as soon as they are able because the male gerbil has the tendency to eat their young and that is the kind of science experiment I’m not willing to engage in with a bunch of 5 year olds. I did as I was told and donated the dad and the six little ones to the Humane Society as soon as I could.

I like classroom pets but I don’t have a ton of luck with them.  Although, I’ve had my one fish for over 2 months so I think I’m getting better at it.

Over the years, I’ve housed several gerbils, a rabbit, and a parrot. I am also a foster parent to crickets, ants and worms which all find their way into my room from the outside.

stink bugs

My new challenge is surviving my stinkbug invasion. At this point, I’m getting the idea they think my classroom is going condo and in this market, even stinkbugs know a good deal when they see it.

 

 

 

 

 

Whose dream is it anyway?

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Yesterday I received a text from one of my very dear friends and she wanted to know if I had a picture of our two daughters when they took ballet together when they were around 5 years old.  When she asked my first response was, “I doubt it” since I did not record a lot of childhood memories as the iPhone wasn’t invented yet and my camera abilities were zero to none.  But, I told her I’d look.

I pulled out my version of a photo album.  It is basically a 3 ring binder that houses a big loose pile of pictures in between two covers.  There I sat looking through some of the old good times our family had together.  There were a few pictures of a much younger me, my husband and our beloved Border Collie, Jake, along with a pretty good progression of the early years of my children.

After more rummaging, I saw a glimpse of pink.  I pulled the picture from the pile and lo and behold, there it was.  A dark photo of my daughter and her friend in pink leotards. It was nostalgic, for sure.

After one session of ballet, my daughter was completely over it.  It wasn’t in her nature to be pink and frilly and she did not want to do anything that even remotely resembled being lithe and graceful. Eventually, she exchanged her tutu for a soccer ball.

Not in the cards for this girl!

Not in the cards for this girl!

In the early years, it is important to expose children to many different types of activities and I can confidently say I’m an expert in this area.  Within the past 5 years, my son participated in football, skateboarding, basketball, soccer, wakeboarding, and 2 more visits to soccer and basketball and in that process, he opted to break 8 bones.  Not an ideal situation, but those experiences are now a part of his make-up and he loves to tell his war stories.

My point is, let children explore all avenues of extracurricular activities.  See what they like and what they excel in.  During my days on the soccer field there was persistent chatter from parents bragging about how fabulous a player their child was and how they will only play for a Div. 1 school.  That is all fine and dandy if that is what your child wants not you.

A good rule of thumb is to check-in with reality and your child once in a while to re-evaluate whose dream it is to become the next prima ballerina or World Cup soccer star.

Children have the gift of time to test their likes and dislikes in extracurricular activities.  Why not let them be the star of their own show.

Woodworking

A few years ago, a generous parent gifted our class a woodworking bench. I love this bench. It is beautiful, well made, has a large work area and two people can comfortably be creating at the bench at the same time.

It is my opinion that at 5 years old, most children are old enough to understand the concept of using a hammer and nails when given proper instruction and know how to handle these tools safely. I am, however, opposed to using a saw since it can easily slip and slice a finger and that is something I’m not willing to experience in my room.

When it’s time to introduce the woodworking bench, I emphasize creativity and building of structures. At first, of course, everyone wants to be at the bench but once the newness subsides, that is when you get the most amazing creations.

Here is an example of what two 5 year-old minds can come up with.

woodworking

There were times when one child worked on the structure alone and at other times, they worked together at the bench but each working on their own part. They chose various sized wood pieces and decorative accents. When ready, they glued the two sections together. The wood was painted and it’s patiently waiting for whatever else they may want to add.

A Note from Helen Keller

In celebration of President’s Day, our class went to visit the home of Benjamin Harrison prior to him becoming President of the United States. I know, it sound’s like a snoozer, but our guide has worked with young children for a long time and he is very good at moving the tour along and pointing out interesting artifacts.

I have been on this field trip 15 times so, yeah, I tend to wander a bit and this time I found a most amazing pieces of history…..an original letter sent to Mrs. Harrison from Helen Keller dated 1892.

helen keller note

The letter was in a protective sleeve and can only be handled while wearing a special lint free glove.  What a treasure!!  Our guide said the letter Helen sent  was in sympathy of a relative’s death.  Amazing, no?

If you have a historical home in your area, it’s worth spending a bit of time touring it.  The Harrison Home is filled with original costumes and hand fans plus so much more.  Even if you are not a history buff, it’s just an interesting experience all around.

 

100 days of school and all sugared up

More days off due to weather and our 100th day of school was 2 days overdue. When the day finally came, the class was beyond excited to get started.

I assume that when you do a project for over 15 years in one classroom it becomes a tradition and this year we, once again, took on the challenge of making a 100 piece candy snack. Each child brought in a special treat such as skittles, M&M’s, mini marshmallows, jelly bellies, mini-oreo’s, etc.  All in all, we had 15 bowls of snack.

100's snack

The next step was for each child to choose only 10 of the bowls and count out 10 pieces of the treat for a total of 100 pieces of snack.  I sat with each child to make sure they stayed on track with their counting.

1,2,3,4,5….  Some of the children were able to complete this task quickly while others kept getting off the counting track even though I was helping them.

This activity continued past our regular calendar/snack time and it was closer to midmorning before everyone had a bag.  Eventually, everyone made it to their seats and enjoyed their 100 piece snack treat.

As if 100 pieces of candy wasn’t enough, we also enjoyed a home-baked cake from one of our talented Mom’s.

100 cake

It was a great day and now we are on the downward slide of closing out the year in May.  Time really does fly when you are having fun!

I Like You Too

Got this cute little ditty from one of my faves…

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p.s. I love being your teacher too ~ xox

I’m a great conversationalist and would love to read your comment.