Sunday, July 31, 2011

I'm Back!

Whew, my trip to California with my mom was so much fun, but catching up in blogland is a lot of work! A big HELLO to my new followers, postdating some entries while I was gone really worked!

As always, how can you go on a vacation without thinking about the classroom... even just a little? In my souvenir shopping I found some really neat things:

I am SUPER excited about the 2 decks of mini playing cards I bought at the San Diego Zoo for under $6. Every face has a different zoo animal on it... I'm thinking math stations... matching to dominos, ten frames, whathaveyou, greater/less than, memory games... the possibilities are endless!

My mom also found me this great book the Muir Woods giftshop and was sweet enough to buy it for me:

I absolutely love it!

You'll also notice the "Great Work!" stickers on the upper left... yes, I dragged my mom to Target. I don't know what I was hoping for- it carried all the same stuff as the ones in Texas. We learned a new rule traveling, "never pass a bathroom." Well, the teacher's rule should be, "never pass a Target!"

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tech Tip

Hello new friends! I have a technology tip for you today that might be helpful.

When you leave a comment on a friend's blog you may want to include a hyperlink to your page. A hyperlink is a link that you can immediately follow by clicking on it like this. I can easily use the "link" tool when I'm posting on my own blog but what about comments on another blog?

You can create your own hyperlink using this recipe:

<a href="THE URL OF THE SITE">The text you want to see as the link</a>

So I can leave a link to my page in a comment like this:

<a href="">The Kinder Kid</a>

I love doing this because I can leave a little "tag" wherever I comment so that others can find me!

Give it a try and comment here so that others can find you!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Musical Monday: Just... so... CATCHY!

I love the idea of using a day of the week for a specific topic on your blog. Music is kind of my thing, so I present to you: Musical Mondays!

There are some songs that I've come across this summer that I can't wait to use in the classroom!

They're just so CATCHY! How can you not crack a smile and hum the tune?
The Penguin Dance is a fun song on Jack Hartmann's Transition Train
Remember that training I paid for myself and went by myself? Well, I wasn't really alone. The keynote speaker that day was Jack Hartmann and he had us doing the Penguin Dance from his latest album in no time, much like these teachers!
It's hilarious when you get to the end! I showed it to my 5 year-old cousin (she's my guinea pig for a lot of things lately) and she loved it! We sang and dance in the grocery store that night!

It seems that behind every teacher is a partner that not only puts up with all of our teacher-talk but gets into it a little, too! I was up far too late one night eating up old They Might Be Giants podcast episodes when my boyfriend leaves his computer in the other room to find out what on earth I'm doing. We watched a few and fell in love with this song. We regularly sing it on Mondays... and Tuesdays... except not Thursdays, 'cause that's a holiday!

If you like this one be sure to check out E Eats Everything, Seven, and Letter Shapes!

I used videos like these as (gasp) a reward some days. On others it was worked into my lesson plans as a quick little brain break! I don't have the YouTube problem on my campus, but I did have one when the internet was down!

One solution is to type "save" after the "www." and it will take you to where you can download it in a couple of minutes. Or you could go there and copy/paste the YouTube url as shown:

I chose to download it as a .mp4 file because it's pretty versatile between PC and Mac (I have a Mac and have to be aware of these things). The .FLV format is fine, too. Don't pay attention to the ads that come up about other downloaders, unless you want them, of course. I don't think they work on Mac computers so I don't click on 'em.

What songs do you find yourself humming all day?

Can't... stop... blogging...

Oh man am I addicted to blogging now! It's Day 2 of my California vacation and I woke up thinking about ya'll!

I have made some new friends and started following new blogs but it is so hard to do on my blackberry! My manners aren't showing through because I can't thank you and comment on your pages as much as I'd like to.

Just know that I'm thinking about you! Let's see if I can go a few more hours without opening Google Reader...

(Oh and I knew I would have this problem so I have some posts coming up that I wrote last week!)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New (School) Year Resolutions

Clutter Free Classroom is at it again with another great linky party! She makes these prompts so open-ended that anyone can be a part of it. Come on over and link up!
Clutter-Free Classroom
She explains:
I don't make the typical resolutions in January. Instead, my New Year resolutions come with the start of a new school year. What are your resolutions for the upcoming school year?

I have been talking about this all summer! I was wondering how I was going to blog about it but this is the perfect prompt.

My summer has involved quite a few trainings that had me reflecting on my first year, redefining myself as a professional educator, and inspiring me to challenge myself next year. Let me lay out the (now) seven trainings I have attended or will attend:
A retreat model that fosters relationships between group members (class, team, school)
Examples of guided reading groups and writer's workshop ideas
Data driven team planning and the school community
4. Texas Kindergarten Conference presented by SDE
Jack Hartmann, writer's and reader's workshop, interactive writing, and more!
Teaching with the young child's brain in mind, classroom routines and structures to foster self-control
Coming up! I will hear presenters talk about implementing our district's curriculum system.
7. 30 Hour G/T Training
Coming up!

So it may be easiest for me to identify at least one commitment I want to make after each of these trainings. I'll go down in order, like above. 

1. (I stated this at the training the last day) I will learn to share myself with others so that I can become the leader I was meant to be. I will also greet my students in the morning with a handshake and use a launch routine to send them home each day.
2. I will start guided reading groups earlier in the year and plan them according to reading comprehension skills. I downloaded KindergartenWorks' guided reading packet to help me meet this commitment. I will also have writer's workshop everyday. 
3. I will support my team by affirming them in person and with thank you notes. Create a team binder to help with documentation of team meetings, interventions, and student data. 
4. I will sing, move, and have fun with learning more. I will not buy prefabricated posters but create them using the interactive writing method instead. I will make an interactive name chart to help the children learn each other's names, and it make take several weeks to complete it (and that's OK!) I will use my Daily 5 stamina building as a reader's workshop and model one comprehension strategy at a time during shared reading in the beginning of the year. 
5. I will breathe before I react to a challenging situation and use positive self-talk. I will create a safe place in my room and have a school family ritual every day. I will model how to be calm and in control of my inner state. 

WOW! That's a lot of resolutions! I guess that's to be expected when you go to seven trainings in one summer. I am so thankful I was allowed the opportunity to learn so much in such a short amount of time. 

I do have a couple more I need to add:
-COMMUNICATE with parents and family members more. Use a student binder to assist with this but call parents, don't just assume your note is read, and make a point to invite them to the classroom.
-GO HOME at the end of the day. Nothing good happens after 4 pm. 
-Work out at least 2 nights a week. 

I feel so empowered! Let's do this! 

Classroom Layouts

I have cite a dear source for this idea: my mom. For the big Moving Out into my first apartment in Austin she had the clever idea of using grid paper to decide where the larger pieces of furniture will go before moving day. It was genius, although I probably failed to tell her so at the time. I still have the layout in my ever growing Put in a Scrapbook pile.

Our campus moved from an older, critter-ridden building to a few blocks away at a renovated middle school. The small amount of grief that I would never be in my first classroom again was nothing compared to the mixed feelings about packing, moving, and setting up the classroom again. The first day I saw my new room I counted the floor tiles. It was smaller, with way less storage, and didn't have bathrooms. It was also CLEAN, bright, and presented an opportunity brainstorm and create, things I like doing!

So, in using my mom's idea, I plotted out my room with the electrical outlets, boards, and built-in cabinets noted. Then I drew my furniture to scale and colored them to remind me what they are.

I used fun new product Debbie Diller told me about at a training I went to in June. Repositionable glue is like the sticky part of sticky notes! She used it in a guided reading/writing activity where her students wrote new text for a boring leveled reader and actually pasted the new text inside! Wow! I found this at Michael's: 
I put the glue all over the grid paper rather than my little cutouts to save time. I arranged the pieces and voilĂ !

There are several unknowns that will cause me to move furniture around, but at least it's a start. I won't be able to go to the room for two more weeks (California, here I come!) and this soothes my rather premature back to school worries. 

How do you plan your classroom layout? 

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Blog I Admire

Yay! But also, boo. It's the last day of Clutter Free Classroom's linky party. Today's prompt is to write a letter to the owner of a blog you admire. Well, I think responding to this post is just... peachy! Hehe!

Keen On Kindergarten

One of my favorite blogs is Meredith's Keen on Kindergarten. As always, I'm never really sure how I find ya'll, but somehow I made it to her page in June. Right away I fell in love with her blog template. It is fun, simple, and neat! When I was working on my own template I was striving for the same feel. I use Google Reader and whenever I see Keen on Kindergarten pop up as an unread item I often will leave Reader just so I can look at her blog again.

Let's begin!

Dear Meredith,
If you peek at the above, I admire your blog very much. I appreciate that you share yourself with the blogging world and enjoy reading your posts. So imagine my great joy when you became one of MY followers yesterday- and I just started on Monday! Thank you for taking the time to visit my page.

The thing I like most about your posts is your well-organized writing, clever ideas, and fun freebies. I have to admit that when I was in Target and bought 4 packs of those magnetic numbers, I turned to the person next to me, exclaiming, "now I can use Keen on Kindergarten's cute little mat!" She had no idea what I was talking about.

Your generosity and positive attitude are truly appreciated.

Cheerfully yours,

PS- What's your favorite Henkes' mouse book? :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Need Book Labels?

Time to share the love! I have always wanted a place to share freebies, and here's my first one! Now lets see if can do this right...

Ok, I did it! Now here's an explanation, because I think this deserves one:

I so enjoy getting ideas and materials from other teachers but one of my disappointments is that I can't fiddle with the document because they're saved in pdf.

Some of these labels won't work for you at all, and that's as it should be! My book collection is about 90% school books and only 10% my own so I'm kinda stuck with what I have for now. I also wanted to make sure the text was readable for the young child and the pictures communicated meaning, too. I'm pretty picky! If you need different labels because you have a completely different classroom library or like using a different font then you will be able to fiddle with this freebie!

When you download this file it's a Power Point and then you can change it however you want. There are some misplaced pictures in the viewer but I downloaded it myself and it came out OK. Please let me know if it does weird things so I can fix it.

I hope you like these! They're nothing fancy but maybe it will make your back-to-school setup a little easier.

Pancakes for Breakfast

Today's prompt is to share a recipe that you make during the school year. Well, unfortunately I don't have a crock pot, so there goes those bonus points. BUT I get bonus points for being a Really Nice Teacher! Everyone loves...
Chocolate Chip Pancakes!

We had a week or so on "How To" writing last year and the other classes chose vegetable soup or the like. One of my FAVORITE wordless picture books is:
So we made pancakes! In the morning we read this book and put together the ingredients. There is a recipe inside that I wish I could show you, but I can't find an image. I believe it uses baking powder, which does give the pancake a little lift, but no baking soda so it doesn't get the bubbles going before then. The pancake is definitely not the best-tasting and comes out a little flat, but it was really important to me to follow the recipe with the children EXACTLY. To compensate, I shared how my mom used to make me chocolate chip pancakes and we agreed to add some. The mini-chips, please! That's how mom used to make 'em. :)

When the children when to Enrichment (Specials, Block, what have you) I cooked up the pancakes and served them for snack! Only ONE kiddo decided he didn't want one, and that was pretty typical of him.

Mmm... pancakes sound good today!

Target Gift Card Giveaway!

Uh, oh... it's happening. I'm using my blog to enter a giveaway! It's official now! You have until Saturday, July 23rd to enter for the first prize!  A $20 TARGET GIFT CARD! 

Teaching Heart ( ) is hosting their annual back to school party on July 24th till July 30th.  Each Day a new prize!  Gift cards, Books, Teaching Heart Products, and more!!!  Plus a free printable will be posted during the week.  You need to visit the blog at daily to check out the prizes each day and enter for the ones you want to win!!!

And I have 7 followers now! I so appreciate you! I would LOVE to have a give away of my own someday... :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Favorite Children's Author

Ooo! I figured out how to link to the party through the picture!
Alright! Thanks again to Clutter Free Classroom for starting this up! I made my first 3 followers from this linky party! Be sure to check out my new friends pages!
Todays prompt is: Who is your favorite children's author? Mine is:

(Pronounced HEN-KUS)
I took a graduate class on picture books and wrote a paper about his works. Too bad I can't find it for this response! Just as well, I found a wonderful video where he talks about how he wrote his latest book:

I do remember loving how he firmly believes the text and the illustrations should work together to convey a message. With that method it's no wonder he won the Caldecott medal for Kitten's First Full Moon.

OF COURSE I haven't forgotten about his mouse books (my favorite is Julius, Baby of the World), but it's his latest work for the youngest reader that reveal his gift for writing. He pays careful attention to how a book sounds when read aloud- a quality we certainly look for in kinder!

Now, onto the video clip. Thanks again for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash

Howdy! It's time for Day 2 of Clutter Free Classroom's easy-peasy-lemon-sqeezy linky party

My favorite picture book based on the illustrations alone is Trinky Hakes Noble's The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash. Steven Kellogg is one of my favorite illustrators and you'll see why!

I feel I could've approached this in one of two ways: a book that I've used in the classroom or a book that I loved as a kid myself and continue to love. I went with the latter today!

What I love about Steven Kellogg is his attention to detail. Every crease in clothing is there, every book title, every shadow, every untied shoe, feather, hair, pattern, it goes on! And he balances it all with plenty of white space. I don't get overstimulated looking at his books because of this balance. 

This story, if you don't know already, is hilarious! Jimmy and his classmates are on a field trip to the farm with a rather overbearing teacher (there will be a quiz when we return to class). How he manages to smuggle his pet boa constrictor in his schoolbag is beyond the reader.


The story works backwards as another child tells her mother about the day in speech bubbles. I LOVE speech bubbles in picture books! It connects the story to the illustrations in such an authentic way. As the reader becomes more engulfed in the child's story the speech bubbles and frames disappear. They return as she and Jimmy (with a new pet pig) set out for an after school ride. My favorite illustration is on the last page when the farmer's wife is knitting a long sock for their new pet boa! 

I found this short book talk that walks you through the calamity of a sweet boa constrictor on a farm. Thanks for visiting! 

Monday, July 18, 2011

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation!

Ok! So many thanks to Clutter Free Classroom for starting up an easy week-long linky party, not to mention for giving me the ooomf to launch The Kinder Kid! What a welcoming way to enter the blogging world!

I have yet to introduce myself elsewhere, so hello! I'm Nicole from Texas and I'm eagerly awaiting my second year teaching kindergarten. This time last year I was shakin' in my boots but now I can hardly wait for my new batch! I've been following quite a few blogs all summer and I can't get enough of the latest Target Dollar Spot steals, details from conferences, and newly minted activities to start the year. 

So let's talk summer! I'll work backwards:

5. Target!
I finally made it to Target! Part of my summer has been spending time with my cousins (ages 5 and 9) and when my aunt said she needed to go to Target for belts I was ALL OVER IT. I found all the great items you bloggers have been talking about and I even had helpful little hands to find the buried treasures! SO HAPPY!

My favorite scores are the alphabet and number stamps, the number magnets, and the "Great Work!" stickers. 

4. Conscious Discipline
A large part of my summer was dedicated to reading this book and writhing in regret as well as bursting with enthusiasm to implement the strategies within. Don't worry, one of the commitments I made in the early chapters was to forgive myself! Reading Conscious Discipline was truly a reflective experience and getting to go to a training in my district with her consultant Jill Molli was ten times better! She is an entertaining presenter and includes such poignant examples of Dr. Bailey's work in action from her own life. I am so excited that my principal wants my team to be leaders for this program for our campus. My favorite part of the training was learning about the brain states. I could go on and on about this piece but I'll save that for another time. 

3. Texas Kinder Conference
A few people gave me crazy looks when I announced I would be going to this conference by myself with my own money. All I can say is that it was TOTALLY worth it. I got to see Jack Hartman! I also learned about interactive writing, reader's workshop, math stations and more!

Luckily, I didn't have to pay for these trainings, and I am incredibly thankful my principal thought of me when she registered our teachers to go! These opportunities launched my reflection and growth this summer in June. Again, so much to say, but this is only my first blog entry! :)

1. Family and Friends
I've been all around Texas since June for the above trainings and to visit the people I love. I have family in Round Rock, friends in San Marcos and Austin, teacher friends in Victoria, and my family and boyfriend in San Antonio, to boot! Wherever I go I receive hugs, news, and food! It's worth all the driving!

So that brings me up to the present! I have relaxing poolside, a trip to California with my mom, and some more blog reading to do before my last training (have you been keeping track?... 6 all together!). Not to mention setting up my classroom... and we moved our campus to a new building... eesh! 

So, again, thanks to Clutter Free Classroom and...

hello, blogging world! :)

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