Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So Exciting!!

Wow!  I can't believe the school year is actually over!  This year seemed to go by especially fast, even with all of our snow and tornado days.  I took a much longer break from the blog than I wanted and was pleasantly surprised when I checked on it this morning. 

The California Teaching Credential named not only my blog but my great friend, Suzan's blog as two of the top 50 Kindergarten blogs!  Click here to see their website and find the other amazing 48 blogs that made this list.  I've got to admit, this news made my day!

OK, the end of the year went exceptionally well even with a week taken out due to the storms.  There were several small units that I did not get to Matter Matters unit, one of my favorites had to go by the wayside.  Boy, I hated that but we did have a lot of fun with our end of the year Fairytale unit!  I don't guess the kids knew the difference!

We started our unit with discussing the elements of a fairytale (see previous post) and learned some vocabulary words often found in most fairytales.  I think I will add woodsman or woodcutter..he seems to pop up a lot.

I made this set last year and just used google images for the clipart.
I really like the James Marshall versions of fairytales-he has a funny sense of humor
and the kids get a kick out of it!  I began the unit with Hansel and Gretel.  We looked out for our vocabulary words and the different elements of a fairytale.  Next year, I will chart all of the elements and their examples in the fairytales that we read.  Michele Potts made a great chart and I wish I had taken a photo of it-loved it! 

You can't go wrong with Little Golden Books and the kids recognize them from our 50's unit-a nice tie-in.
For Hansel and Gretel, I used this map that Lana Holzer shared so that we could reinforce map skills.  I just love that they know what a compass rose is and how to use it!  (Next year I will have a mini Pirate unit incorporating this skill since we are the Providence Pirates.)
The children color this map and we practice using the compass
rose to answer questions about Fairytale Land.

This is the artwork for Hansel and Gretel.  Since I did a compare/contrast
for each of the other fairytales, next year I will read a different version of this story.

I read both of these versions of Little Red Riding Hood and then the children had to choose which one they liked better and explain what they liked about it. 

We followed the same format for each two versions, compared and
contrasted and then wrote about one of the versions.  For The Three Little Pigs, the children
were able to choose which pig's house they wanted to make.

Maisha Booker came up with the cute Frog Prince art-the kids loved it!
 The day of our Fairytale Ball, everyone dressed as their favorite fairytale character! 

 I love how clever some of their costumes were!

 Did I have some princesses or what?!  So sweet...
We start off the Ball with a Parade through the school.  We have 150 Kindergarteners and our school is K-8 so this is a lot of fun to travel all over the school.  The middle schoolers were so sweet- clapping and cheering for the little ones.  It was touching.  Then we made our way to the cafeteria where we had three centers set up.  I wish I had taken more photos to show you!
 Lana Holzer (aka Snow White) taught the children some of her fairytale songs that
she has written at one of the centers.  The children got to dance with Ms. Holzer too!

Another center was our Crown Making station.  We ordered kits from
Oriental Trading Company and the children were able to decorate their own crown.

 At the next center the children have their photo taken in front of our backdrops (Party City) and enjoy a cupcake and punch.  We also have a coloring sheet and crayons for those that finish their cupcake early.

 Look at those faces!
And here is the Dream and tired but happy at the end of the Ball!
Ms. Fowler, Mrs. Graham, Ms. Potts, Ms. Booker, Mrs. Hicks, Ms. Holzer

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Thankful, Thankful, Thankful!

Well, it is good to feel back in civilization again.  We just got power back this afternoon after a full week, wow!  I am NOT complaining, though, so many people lost so much from the tornadoes and please continue to pray for the families who lost their homes and for those who lost family members.  It is heartbreaking and very sobering.  We live in Harvest, Alabama and the last tornado that went through our area was the F5...we were extremely blessed that it skirted our neighborhood, extremely blessed.  

We barely made it out of school and I don't mind saying, we've had our share of duck and cover but last Wednesday was unbelievable.  We had a delayed start of two hours but as I pulled into the parking lot, the sirens were going off.  We went straight into duck and cover and other than a time of about 45 minutes, we remained in duck and cover for over four hours.  Our babies did so well.  No one cried, no one complained.  My class was in the boy's bathroom (I know... but it did feel very safe) with newspaper on the floor to put their little heads down.  It was funny, during the brief moments we were able to let them sit up, they just sat thumbing through the paper looking as if they were waiting for their second cup of coffee at Waffle House.  :)   Precious.

At one point, though, it was serious enough that the teachers were told to duck and cover as well.  I've never had that happen before. I'm thankful there aren't pictures of that...  That was the only time, I truly felt some fear.  It passed though and a peace came knowing that the Lord was in control and we would be alright in a few moments one way or another.  He kept us safe and I am so very thankful.  We were finally able to dismiss between the tornadoes-we had to wait for a window of time long enough to get the buses out.  We have app. 1100 students so dismissal takes awhile on a normal day.  Bless our parents, though, they hustled to pick up their children and we were all out of there before 2:00.  It was already flooding and trees and power lines were down all the way home before the next series of storms hit.  I was glad to get home.  My husband and youngest daughter were already home and we spent the better part of the rest of the day in a very small guest bathroom with our two dogs.  Do you know that I had not charged my cell the night before and it barely had any power but that it held through until the very last tornado passed through so that we could maintain contact with my oldest daughter (away at school) until it was all over?  Thank you, Lord!  

I learned a few things this CAN live a week without electricity (email, internet, blogging, etc!) that having water truly makes all the difference.  You can live with cold showers, you can log an unbelievable amount of time reading, you can sure put those girl scout skills to work with cooking outdoors, that Lean Cuisines don't taste all that great cooked over a campstove (blech!) and that your family really are some pretty cool people to spend time with.  No experience is ever a waste of time, effort or energy.  There is value in every single moment of every single day. It is a gift from God.

We went to a hard hit neighborhood to try and help on Saturday.  I would like to say we actually contributed a great deal but the truth is, we just felt like gawkers.  We wanted to help but most people looked so stunned as if they didn't know where to even begin. We tried to help people collect belongings from the rubble but the truth is there really wasn't much left where we went.  It was very humbling. 

I think the best way anyone can help right now is to donate to the red cross and to give blood.  I think Tide Loads of Hope is a good idea, as well. 

Thank you for letting me have this time, I feel as if I just needed to talk.  I hope this finds you all well and it will be good to get back to the classroom tomorrow.