Friday, July 31, 2015

My 10 Best Tips For Teaching T.K.

Have You Heard of TK?

If you teach Pre-K or K you will probably get a lot out of this post, so read on.

The sign says, "Welcome to The Kingdom"
See what I did there?
T.K. = The Kingdom
We have T.K., Transitional Kindergarten in CA. It all started a few years ago because children in CA didn't have to be 5 years old until Dec. 2. Think about that for a minute. That made about 25% of the K students in CA way younger than most K students in other states. That also meant that when 8th grade scores are compared across the country, no one ever considered that about 25% of the 8th grade students in CA were in a grade one year higher than most 8th graders in other states. So they moved our kindergarten entry date back to Sept 1. 

The state decided to provide Transitional Kindergarten for all of the students born between Sept. 1 and Dec. 1. Those students may attend T.K. for one year and then kindergarten for one year. Exceptions can be made if the parent and school both agree that a child can skip T.K., but they may not enter K until they are 5 years old.

That said, a new curriculum, standards, and assessments needed to be made. T.K. is not just kindergarten light. It focuses more on social development, language skills, and fine motor skills. Academic skills like letter names, sounds, sight words, numbers, and shapes are still taught, but with an emphasis on social and language skills.

My 10 Best Tips For Teaching T.K.:

1. Meet your class outside at least 5 minutes before school starts. 
Then they can tell you all about how their dog threw up last night or how they got to have pancakes that morning with 4 1/2 blueberries. This will save you tons of time when you are trying to take attendance and they just HAVE to share this important information with you.
One morning, I brought the ducks out that we had hatched.

2. Take it easy. 
Avoid rushing kids to finish within a time schedule. Schedules are great, but build in extra time so children won't feel rushed and you won't feel stressed. Does every project need to be completed? Maybe not. Don't worry about building bad habits. They still have next year to practice working faster. For now, plan short projects and build in play time so students are motivated to complete their tasks. And make sure that all students get that play time. Sometimes you just have to ask, "Would you like to finish that later?" Trust me. It will be fine.
Free choice activity to do when your work is done. 

3. You don't have to use a pencil for everything. 
Provide opportunities for students to use other tools such as paint brushes and water. Let students paint their name with water on the playground, use Wiki-sticks to create letters and numbers, or write in shaving cream on the tables. 
To clean up, wipe up with DRY paper towels first. When most of the soap is off the table,
use damp paper towels and then dry ones. 
4. Set up educational centers that promote investigation, exploration, and imagination. 
I love centers that don't have any directions. Just put out some magnets, a variety of objects, and two containers with a happy face on one and a sad face on the other. Students will quickly discover that some objects are attracted to the magnets and some are not and they will decide which container to place the objects in. Other centers might in include Sink & Float or just a variety of seasonal objects found in nature and a few magnifying glasses. 
Just put everything out. They will figure out what to do and they will be so excited
about their discoveries! 

5. Plan free time for you to circulate throughout the room. 
It's a perfect time to give praise, assist with fine motor skills, or just get to know your students better. I tried to schedule about 20 min. each morning when I was able to just sit and work with individual students. 
Making food in our home center.

6. Provide lots of models. 
Samples of their names written with a broad tip marker on on a lined name tag and glued to a piece of construction paper can be laminated and used as a personal workspace. Wiki-sticks will stick nicely to the letters and the laminated work mats keep glue from sticking to your tables. Mats can be easily washed and kept clean. 
You can barely see the blue name tag attached to the blue work mat on the left side of the table.

7. Provide brain breaks. 
Have you heard of Go Noodle. Lots of their site is FREE and your students will love moving and dancing along with their short videos. No Internet? A quick run outside goes a long way in terms of waking up their brains and rejuvenating them. Never keep kids in at recess. They need it and so do you.
Go with
8. Set up centers that encourage oral language. 
If you don't have a home center, hit some yard sales or make a pretend stove out of a cardboard carton. A puppet center can be created by setting puppets inside of single desk and using the desk top as the stage. You can always make stick puppets if you don't own any puppets. Set up a pretend store with plastic coins. Set out "partner puzzles" where two students work together to complete a puzzle. That will encourage language!
Our lemonade stand

Pretending to travel by bus. Just add luggage. 

Place silk flowers and plants at the garden shop.

Working together at the hair salon.

Partner Puzzles.


9. Bring music into your classroom. 
You can play soft music while students are working or playing. You can also bring in an electric keyboard for free exploration. I would take the extra step and add a set of headphones to this center. Provide time for your students to play rhythm instruments and create their own music. If you don't own rhythm instruments, you can make them by placing objects like rice, coins, or beans in sealed containers. And remember to sing about everything you do. Include Heidi's Songs when teaching the letter names, sounds, numbers, etc. Click HERE for her great teaching songs. 
An old keyboard and a set of headphones.

10. Say something wonderful to EVERY student EVERY day. 
Whether you are the only person who says something nice to them or not, it is important to them that they feel loved, liked, and important. Even if they are getting all of this at home, they still need it and want it from you. Of course, you need to be sincere and honest. Wouldn't you just LOVE going somewhere every day if you knew you were loved, liked, and important? They will fall in love with school and will feel at ease. 
Praise, praise, praise!

I hope you found some of these tips familiar as things you already do because you are awesome!
And I hope you found at least one little jewel you can take back to your classroom and try. 
Whether you teach Pre-K, T.K., or K, give these tips a try and let me know how they worked for you. 

Keep your T.K. homework simple too. Here is a set of homework that encourages oral language interaction with each child's parents:

Click the image to see the 34 week set.

Click on the image to grab your entire set.

Do you have a favorite tip? Please share in the comments. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

I've Never Been To Texas... for my birthday!

Deep In The Heart of Texas!

Click the image to learn more about this conference. 

I'm off to Gaylord Texas where I'll be presenting at the Frog Street Splash Early Childhood Conference. This will be my first time in Texas and my first time at Splash and I'm just a bit nervous. 
I'll be presenting a hands-on "make-&-take" session on Math and I'll be sharing tons of ideas to help students gain conceptual understanding of counting, cardinality, and algebraic operations in a totally FUN way!

I have heard so many great things about this conference. I'm looking forward to some really great presentations, a special dinner, and the Bloggers' Pajama Party! The best part is that I'll be celebrating my birthday there too! 

Texas is huge!
An even better part is that my #1 guy will be flying to Texas with me! He will be fly fishing while I'm attending and presenting at the conference, but we will have a little bit of time together for maybe a special dinner or a day exploring the Dallas area. 

So, I have two questions for your all:

#1. Who all is going to be in Texas for this amazing conference?

#2. If you had only one day in Texas (near Dallas), what would you do, where would you eat, and what would you buy? (I guess that was really 3 more questions.)

Thank you for your help! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Meet Who?

Meet Me!

Click the image to see the Linky Party.

Now that the new blog, Kinder Tribe, is up & running with some amazing give-aways, we want you to get to know us.  I'll start...

So that's just about all there is to know about me! But, just to clarify a few things...

~Yes, I've been teaching for 37 years (I think I was 2 when I started!) with the last 20 years in K.
~If you love coffee and you don't have a Nespresso machine, you are seriously missing out! I also can't live without my iPhone and MacBook. But I need my coffee first!
~Don't leave me alone in an office supply store with all of those cute, colorful paper clips! I might never leave!
~Ahh, The Napping House. I think my favorite part is how the illustrator, Don Wood, introduces light  and color into each illustration as the sun begins to rise. I also like finding the flea on each page.
~Dr. Jean! Who does't LOVE Dr. Jean? I have been a fan of hers for years.
~And last, but not least, Kindergarten! It's a magical place where kids learn faster than they do in most other grades. I wanted to be a kindergarten teacher from the time I was in kindergarten. I wrote my 8th grade career report on becoming a kindergarten teacher! Unfortunately, I had to wait 17 years before there was a K opening! The good news was that I gained experience teaching every other grade 1st-8th. My heart is in K. I LOVE everything about it. Just the word "kindergarten" makes me smile.

Want to meet more?

Now head on over to our collaborative blog and check out the other Teacher authors by clicking on "Meet The Teachers" at the top of the home page. And while you're there, enter all of our amazing give-aways!
Click the image to get yourself over to the Give-Away!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Have You Heard The News?

There's A New Collaborative Blog on the Block!

Click the image to see the new blog.

Today is the day! Kinder Tribe, originally a Facebook group that started to support and inspire K teachers, started a collaborative blog! There are 16 admins (I'm so excited to be one of them!) but there are tons of opportunities to link up for linkys or submit a blog post to be featured even if you are not on the admin team! 

Great Give-Aways!

Click on over and check out all of the amazing Give-Aways like:

$75 to spend at Teachers Pay Teachers
$10 Gift Certificate from Mel @ Graphics from the Pond
3 Colored Clipart Sets from Nikki @ Melonheadz Illustrating
School Schedule Kids Bundle from Sarah from EduClips and
Bus Stop Kids Clip Art Set from Emily @ Polka Dots Please!
1 year subscription to Showbie!
Plus, A KiNdEr TrIbE 16-piece Product Bundle!

Click the image to go to the Give-Aways.

And There's More:

Meet the authors at Kinder Tribe:
Click on the image below to see all of the amazing authors. Here is my intro:
Click the image to meet all of the Teacher Authors.

But That's Not All...

Every Friday we will be doing a Feature Friday where you are all invited to sign-up to send a blog post in that will appear on this blog! More information about Feature Friday and how to sign-up is coming shortly... so stay tuned on the Facebook page! The first one will be July 31st!

Here is a link to Kinder Tribe's FB Page:

No, That's Not All...

We will also be having a linky party every Wednesday called "What Went Well Wednesday!"  One of the admin's will be posting a successful lesson, activity etc. from their classroom and you are all invited to link up as well! 
The first one will be on July 29th!

And remember, when using social media, please use this hashtag:

What do you think about all of the cute graphics? Yukari Naka did an amazing job designing our new blog, FB, & all of the graphics. Hey, we even have a Pinterest page
Leave a comment here if you stopped by Kinder Tribe's new blog, FB, or Pinterest Page and let me know what you think.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

My Periscope Cooking Demo

Mouth-watering Breaded Chicken:

So easy and quick to make!

What Is Periscope, you ask?

My new toy is the FREE Periscope App on my iPhone. You can grab it from the Apple App Store or wherever Android users get their apps. (I admit it, I'm an iPhone snob. Please forgive me.)

I got to thinking that lots of teachers are just chilling' and enjoying some time off without having to think about school at all. They probably have some time on their hands to do things like, umm, cook dinner! 

I LOVE to cook, so I thought I would Periscope a quick little "how to" on what I was making for dinner.

What's Palma Cooking Tonight?

I only showed how to make the "mouth-watering chicken", but here is the entire menu:

Appetizer: Caprese bruschetta
Mouth-watering Chicken
lemon potatoes
green salad

We started with the appetizer:

Sliced mozzerella, tomatoes, and fresh basil.
Drizzle with olive oil & your favorite balsamic vinegar.
Drizzle olive oil on sliced sour dough bread and brown in a cast iron skillet.
So good!

Now, those who know me know that I'm a Pescatarian. 
But when I tell people that, they think it's a religion! 
Here is what it means:

  1. a person who does not eat meat but does eat fish.

    Chicken does not qualify as fish, so the chicken dinner was for my dear husband.
     I enjoyed eating all of the side dishes. 
    My chicken-less veggie dinner.

    Then, I made the sides:

    Lemon Potatoes: 
    Mix in a baking dish:
    3-4 Sliced & diced potatoes (leave the skin on)
    4 cloves of garlic
    Squeeze in the juice of 1/2 of a lemon
    drizzle with olive oil
    add 2/3 cup of water
    Bake @ 350 degrees for about an hour.
    As it bakes, it absorbs the water.

    So I set up all of my ingredients, logged onto Periscope, and recorded my own little cooking show! 

    Here is how to make the chicken:
    Wash 6 boneless chicken thighs in salt water & pat dry.
    In 1 bowl: squeeze the juice of 1/2 of a lemon into 1 cup of plain yogurt.
    In a 2nd bowl: combine 1 cup of breadcrumbs, 3 T of Parmesan cheese, 3 cloves of minced garlic.
    Coat the chicken with the yogurt and then the bread crumbs.
    Place the pieces in a baking dish & bake @ 350 degrees for 1 hour.

    It was so much fun and I got lots of cute comments and hearts. Even Clifford got in on the show. And, it was ALL ORGANIC!

    So, download the free app
    search for KFUNdamentals
    and look for "KFUNdamentals What's Palma Cooking Tonight?" 
    Then you can see the "live" video of my demo, 
    but just like Cinderella, it will be gone when the clock strikes 
    6:15 PM Pacific time on Saturday, July 18 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's Almost August! Time to Get ORGANIZED:

Celebrate a different color every Friday: 

Add caption

Organize your calendar to celebrate one color each week. Here are some great calendar cards for your calendar pocket chart.
Click the image above.
Use these calendar cards to mark your special "Color Celebration Days" on your class calendar.
Click the image above.

Copy them on white card stock, laminate them, and they will last for years.

Celebrate a color each week:

We celebrate a different color every Friday for 11 weeks. This is what we do:

Red Week: Wear red, taste strawberries, make a Clifford paper bag puppet.

Blue Week: Wear blue, taste blueberries, Listen to the story Blue On Blue, by Dianne White.

Click the book cover.

Yellow Week: Wear yellow, make lemonade with real lemons, make yellow crowns to wear home.
Each child got to squeeze 1/2 of a lemon, + water & a bit of sugar.

Green Week: Wear green, taste green grapes, make green paint with blue & yellow in a zipper bag, 
                      (Read Little Blue, Little Yellow.)
Squirt a bit of yellow & blue in the 2 bottom corners & seal. Let the kids do the mixing.

Orange Week: Wear orange, make orange juice from real oranges, paint 5 orange pumpkins on a  
Each child got to squeeze one orange and drink their own juice.
We sliced a pool noodle, dipped it in orange paint, & stamped 5 pumpkins on a fence.
When they dried, we added faces made from black construction paper scraps.

Purple week: Wear purple, make purple slime, make the mini book "The Tale of the Purple Mouse".
Click the image.

Click the image

Click the image.

Brown Week: Wear brown, make bear biscuits, bring your bear to school for a Teddy Bear Picnic.

Click the image to get the download for the directions to make these Cinnamon Bears.

Black Week: Wear black (we always look so elegant on that day), taste raisins, draw with charcoal 

White Week: Wear white, taste jicama, make white ghosts.

Pink Week: Wear something pink (even if it has just a dot of pink in it), taste pink watermelon, write our names with hot pink markers on all of our work on that day!

Here is a Freebie to culminate our unit:
Click the image to grab you FREEBIE.
So, What do you do when teaching about colors?
Let us know in the comments.

Now get back to the linky by clicking this image:

Click the image to get back to the linky.