Monday, August 3, 2015

My Parent Letter Welcoming Them to Sneak Peek


Every year before school begins, parents bring their children to class for Sneak Peek to meet with the teacher. Also at this time, they ask about routines, lunch, supplies, etc. Below is the letter I use every year. You're welcome to cut and paste to use it. Also note that everything emboldened means you'll need to insert your own information to make it relevant to your needs.


Dear Parents, 

Welcome to Sneak Peek!

This is going to be a year of discovery for both you and your child. And you're going to get to watch your child grow and learn, and be surprised by how much they accomplish as the year progresses.

Because we Kindergarten teachers push our students to exceed, we are asking for a few extra supplies from each student, in addition to what the school district already suggests. As soon as possible, please send the following with your child:

2 spiral theme books
1 bag of uncooked rice or beans

My conference period is from 9:00 - 9:45 if you ever need to contact me. And our lunch period is from 10:40 - 11:10 if you want to come to school and have lunch with us.

You are welcome to come to school at any time, but for safety's sake you must check in at the office first.

If you need to pick up your child after school, we dismiss at 3:30 and take them to the front of the school. You may pick your child up there, as parents are not allowed inside the school building during dismissal.

The first day of school, you may bring your child directly to the classroom. But after that day, leave your child in the cafeteria. Kinder teachers pick up their classes from the cafeteria at 7:45 each morning. So if you get to school after that time, take your child to the front office where they will be escorted to class.

Sometimes separating child from parent can be traumatic. If your child begins to cry and doesn't want you to leave, take your child to the office and leave immediately. Please do not stay or linger. I promise that once your child is in the classroom setting, it won't be long before your child will become involved in what the rest of his friends are doing.

If your child has a medical condition, or takes medication, or is under a doctor's care, please let me or the office know.

Yes, your child may bring a small pillow and/or light blanket for nap time, but those objects must be able to fit in the backpack. This is a health measure, and those items cannot be left at school.

We have snack time every day at 1:00. Please send a healthy snack with your child. There is no fridge or microwave for you child to heat something up or keep something cool. We have a water fountain. But if you wish to include a drink, have it in a thermos or other container. No sodas are allowed.

Your child will have homework. As our reading progresses, he will have reading homework Monday through Thursday. Please do not do your child's work for him. I need to see his progress, even if it doesn't look "perfect". And help your child to get into the routine of Homework First Before Play. 

If your child is absent, he will have to make up lost work. Any work not done will be completed during center or play time.

Have your child get into the habit of putting his backpack in the same place every day. And once their homework is done, to put it in the backpack. That way they'll always know where it is during that morning rush for school. My advice on where to put it? On their bedroom doorknob.

Thank you for entrusting your child's education to me. It's going to be an exciting year. And by June, your child will be ready for the challenging world of First Grade.

Sincerely yours,

Friday, July 31, 2015

"Row Your Alpha-boat" Song


"Row Your Alpha-boat" Song
(Tune: "Row Your Boat")

A, A, this is A
/a/-/a//a/- /a//a/
B, B, this is B
/b/-/b//b/-/b//b/
(continue until you reach z)

Monday, July 27, 2015

Gifted Students Do Not Always Excel in School


One of the benchmarks the majority of school districts use to determine whether or not a child is gifted is their grades. Is the student good at math? Is s/he consistently on or above their reading level?

Unfortunately, this does not always works. I've seen too many students turned down for the GT program because they don't "fit" in those categories. And I've argued against it.

But I do agree that the gifted student is very creative. S/he loves to create things, be it in their writings, artwork, or in other ways.

Gifted students don't have to have large vocabularies. Very often, they're the quiet ones who tend to go off by themselves to read a book. They may have a larger vocabulary, but they don't tend to get into long discussions to prove it.

Gifted students aren't always your most vocal students, and they don't always question everything. Sometimes they silently make up elaborate stories to explain things they wonder about. If they do have questions, they may wait until the teacher is alone before approaching her to ask, rather than blurt out their question during class.

Gifted students don't always fit a "profile". As a teacher, use your gut and expertise to single out and encourage that child who otherwise may fall to the wayside because "guidelines" say differently. Your decision may change that child's educational, and later on professional, life. 
Don't forget, Albert Einstein flunked math in elementary school.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Using Pinterest Pictures in the Classroom - Fruit Peelings Rainbow


1. What does this look like to you?

2. What do you think this is made of?

3. Can you name the different fruits making up this rainbow?
(Answer from bottom to top: lime, lemon, orange, pomegranate, grapefruit)

4. Is this rainbow like the rainbows we see after it rains? Why or why not? How is it different?

5. Which colors are the same as a real rainbow? Which ones are missing?

6. How many sections do you see? How many sections are in a real rainbow? Which one has more/less?

7. Why do you think someone made this fruit rainbow?

8. This rainbow is 3 dimensional. What do you think that means?

9. If you could make your own 3D rainbow, what could you use?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Spell-a-Word Game


Here's a game you can make using sets of those Dollar Store magnetic letters!

Make a set of index cards with 3-letter words such as CAT, DOG, RUN, HOP, GET, etc.

1. Children pick one card to "fill".
2. Children toss a penny. Heads = get a letter, Tails = lose a letter.
3. When a child gets a Head, they pick a matching letter from the bucket to put on their card. If they get Tails, they have to put a letter back.
4. First child to fill up their card Wins!
Later on, switch the group of cards they can choose from to 4-letter words, then on to 5-letter words near the end of the year when their reading skills have improved!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies at Trader Joe's


If you have a Trader Joe's nearby,
check out the letter-shaped cookies!

"They're Elementary, My Dear Joe."

Friday, July 17, 2015