Monday, October 22, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Things

It's conference week in kindergarten and it's one of my favorite weeks of the year!  I absolutely LOVE talking to parents.  A lot of teachers dread this week because it's a lot of sitting, a lot of talking, and they really miss the time with the kids.  As much as I love teaching, I love talking to families just as much.

One question that I'm asked every year is, "What can I be doing with my child at home?"  Well, that's a loaded question, and I could talk for hours on this subject.  While many of my suggestions don't include things you can simply go to the store and buy, there are a few products I TRULY could not live without. 

Here are a few of my favorite things!
(Now you have that song running through your head, don't you?)

First up is ANYTHING made by Leap Frog.  I especially love the DVD's.  The Letter Factory helped my own kids learn letters and sounds when they were in preschool.  The DVD is available though Redbox, at the public library, on Netflix, and on iTunes.  There are DVD's for letters, sounds, blending words, sentences, writing stories, and even math concepts. They are fabulous and strongly encourage you to at least find them at your public library.

The Playful Learning Ecademy is a fabulous tool for parents.


I've taken 2 of Mariah's e-courses and LOVE them.

 I recommend them to all of the parents in my class (as well as Mariah's Playful Learning book). Playful Learning Spaces was my favorite course. As a teacher, I know what types of activities I should be doing at home with my kids.  You might be wondering why a kindergarten teacher would need to take this class. I can't even begin to tell you how inspired I was! Mariah gives you terrific background knowledge about what your kids need to know, what they should be doing at home, and many ideas on how to set up spaces in your home which encourage playful learning.   If I could convince every parent in my classroom to sign up for this course, I would be the happiest teacher alive.  It's that inspiring!
You can click on the link (picture) above to register.

If you're not up for taking an online class about creating playful spaces, then this book is a good option!  Mariah wrote a book on playful learning as well.  It's available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  $13 well spent.... enough said on that.

While you're book shopping, The Ready, Set, Go series (levels 1-3) are perfect for kindergarten.  I purchased these for my own children when they were in kindergarten.  They are the IDEAL books for young readers.

Ready, Set, Go!: Level 1

Ok, enough about things you can buy.  (But, I really hope you'll consider a few of these products.) I'll be posting about free activities you can do with your kids to encourage playful learning this week.

Happy conference week!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Watercolor in Kindergarten

I'll never forget my first year teaching kindergarten.  I decided to do a fall watercolor painting activity to help students learn the rules about painting, using watercolors, and clean up.  Any time you get the paints out, in kindergarten, the classroom automatically softens to a whisper.  (I think it must be the magic we put in the paints!)  Well, during this first painting experience one of my sweet little girls whispered to her friend, "I've never done this before!" 

From that day on, I vowed to do as much painting as I could possibly fit in.  Today was our first painting experience of the year.  There's something special about brand new watercolors.

We started with a lesson on how to use watercolor paints.  Then we looked at fall pictures.  We noticed the colors we saw in the fall leaves and the trees.  The kids were given three squares of watercolor paper.

Their goal was to use fall colors to fill the square.  For their first painting experience in kindergarten, I wanted to make sure everyone was successful.  We didn't focus on painting a picture, just color.

The squares always turn out to be beautiful!  There is no such thing as a mistake in this project.

The kids had the chance to learn how to use paints, observe fall colors, and experience the way watercolor paints mix together.

I can't wait to show you what we turn these into!

Happy painting!