Last Minute Valentine’s Day Ideas!

As a teacher, Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday. It’s true. I LOVE IT.

This year I had my Kindies cut out hearts (making the hearts from the heart shape in Word) and I asked them a simple question, “What is love?” I told them to write “Love is …” In the middle of their hearts and then color it. I tried very, very hard not to lead my students. We talked about the word love and the different kind of love you can feel. Love for your parents, your brother or sister, your classmates, your teacher, and so on and so forth. But I really didn’t want to give them examples because I wanted to see what they wrote.

Some of my favorites (though all of them were my favorites really):

“Love is my mom’s love.”

“Love is fish and cake.”

“Love is good.”

“Love is friends.”

“Love is hearts.”

And one student said, “Love is BCC [name of our school], KTX, and Frozen.” The KTX is our speed train here in Korea. You can go from Seoul down to Busan in three hours. I also think Love Is KTX. And another thing, Frozen is SO WILDLY POPULAR here in Korea. My students have seen it up to 6 times in the theater.

Here is a picture of our final board:

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Don’t make fun of the background and border of my bulletin board! You work with what you have when you don’t have a Teacher’s Center around the corner/around the nation.

Another idea I found that I am having the entire elementary class do this Valentine’s Day is a project called “Inchies” though I made my squares 2″ by 2″. I found the idea on That Artist Woman and I LOVE IT.  Check out the link.

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?

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a Wall of Art

Hello friends and fans of two apples a day. It is Jee Young’s long-lost blogging partner-in-crime, Melody! Working and living abroad can sometimes involve crazy visa and paperwork challenges. Here I am standing on the other side, and I can tell you, if you want to teach internationally— the paperwork and, at times, crazy stress, that goes with it— is totally worth it.

Jee Young’s last post explained one of her beginning of the year projects she did with her fifth graders. I chose to do the same thing I did last year— self-portrait drawings (and at the end of the year they will draw themselves again, it is amazing to see how much they grow in Kindergarten)— only I displayed it much more prominently in the room.

My grade teaching partner had this idea of an art wall in the classroom. I created frames and a few times throughout the year we will rotate the students art to hang on the wall. I went a little crazy decorating each frame differently, if the students were older I would have them make their own frame.

If you have space in your classroom, I highly recommend hanging up some frames (bought or handmade) and displaying some of your students work. They love to see their work on the walls of the classroom, and not just in the art room. You could rotate different students so that you don’t have to have 26 frames on the wall (though that is what I did, hehe).

I can’t wait to see what their self-portraits look like at the end of the year!

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More posts soon!

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Why do we write?

A simple question I asked my kindergarten students yesterday.

These were their responses (in order, and almost word for word):

  • We write to practice writing books, because God might tell us to be an author
  • We write to learn
  • We write so we don’t look at what other people write
  • So we can write what we are thinking
  • We write to learn our letters
  • If a person is sad, we can cheer them up by writing a funny story
  • So they can learn more and so that when we write we don’t try peaking (at what others write)
  • If we grow up  and we don’t know how to write we won’t know what to do (at this my youngest boy said, “Yes, that makes sense, I think!” It was so cute)
  • If we don’t know how to write the word we think with our head and write
  • Sometimes, if we want to write a letter to God and we don’t know how to write we can’t do that

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The kinders have spoken. What do you think? Why do we write?

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Favorite Reads Right Now

My students LOVE to read. I give them free time and they decide to grab a book instead of a toy. I fully believe that part of the reason is because I LOVE to read, and children are extremely perceptive… they pick up on everything! And since my kids are so young, they tend to love what I love 🙂 What? It’s true.

Since the beginning of the year my Kindergarten students have been dying to get their hands on any and all Froggy books. This is a series by author Jonathan London. The books are cute and funny, and every book has great illustrations. I encouraged the students to guess what was happening in the story by the pictures at the beginning of the year when they couldn’t read the words. Then I wouldn’t let them look at the books for a period of time. Is that mean? Ooooh, well. I told them they needed to learn how to read, before they “read” Froggy books. Once a week I would give them time to choose any book they wanted (you know, to keep their love for books going strong), and they always went for our Froggy series. Now, they are reading the stories on their own, it has been amazing to see them fight for the right to read their favorite books! A win-win situation for everyone.

My first graders (both girls) are huge fans of Junie B. Jones, and have recently started reading Rainbow Magic books by Daisy Meadows.

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What series or story types are your students interested in? Let us know!

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Guest Read Aloud in Melody’s Class!

While I was in Korea, I had the chance to visit Melody’s kindergarten/1st grade classroom. I was really excited to meet her students and read to them. I read aloud the story Peter’s Chair by Ezra Jack Keats. Afterwards, we filled out this fun story map that Melody had made. On post-its I wrote down what the students shared. We went through the title, characters, setting, problems, solutions and theme. It was a great way to get them discuss the different elements of the story. I was so impressed that they were able to answer all these including the theme!

Afterwards, we did a quick question and answer session with them. They asked me about Singapore and my students. We had some time left before lunch so we played with some super cold play dough as well. I’ve never taught such young kids before, so it was a lot of fun to be in their class. I always have a lot of respect for teachers that teach the younger kids!  I’m not sure I would have the energy and patience. Thank you Melody for letting me visit your classroom! You have an amazing class and I could tell that  you are making an impact in their lives. 🙂

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                                         Photo credit to Melody.     

Need a great Story Map? Look no further!

I recently found this amazing story map poster idea:

Pinterest brought me to this post on Growing Kinders, and Kathleen got this idea from Kim Adsit’s website. I just love sharing! The great, great thing about this poster is that you can use it again, and again— I love visuals. I love this! We read this book last week right before I did an art project with my little ones. If you have never read The Dot, I highly recommend it!

Any great poster ideas, or book recommendations? Share in the comments, we LOVE comments : )

Looking for a Lesson Plan Template?

Lesson planning is a key to a teacher’s success. No matter how much we hate to do it, it MUST BE DONE. I had to spend a lot of time at the beginning of this year editing and changing my template since I am now teaching Kindergarten and First Grade.

To give you a visual of what the first page of my template looks like here is a screen shot:

To download the template just click here: blank lesson plan!

To download a lesson plan designed for older grades, here is the template Jee Young used when she taught in Korea (Geared more towards readers and writers workshop style, with mini-lessons, also you will noticed science is missing from this lesson template. She would do a unit on Social Studies and then a unit on Science every quarter.)

I love that I can see the whole week on a page, to remind myself of what my students are learning in math all week, etc. Remember those crazy lesson plans you had to make for each separate lesson you did during your years as an undergrad? We all know how completely unrealistic it is to do that for every.single. lesson. you teach, but you need the meat of what you are teaching for the week laid out. The more planning the better, you know?

Something I really like to do as I plan is make a list of all the things I need to prep for the next week, and I keep a space for that at the end of my lesson plan, a “To Do” section as I call it. I always think of great ideas as I am planning, as well as “Oh, I have to make that handout/find it online.” And by the end of my frenzy planning time, I might forget all those ideas, or much-needed handouts. Writing it in my “To Do” list as I go is incredibly helpful.

Jee Young wrote a post on her personal blog once about how she likes to start all of her lesson planning on Tuesday or Wednesday and get them FINISHED by Friday so that she can enjoy her weekend. Well, depending on  your school, you may have to turn in your lesson plans two weeks ahead of time (like me!). I realize though, the better planned I am, the better teacher I am— because I am HAPPIER.

What are some things you do when you are planning to make yourself more prepared? Do you have your own fantastic lesson planning template you would be willing to share? Let us know in the comments!

 

p.s. I have already had a LOT of chocolate today :/