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Are You Considering SeeSaw for Documentation?


Are you considering SeeSaw for documentation in your classroom? 

I there are many great options about it as well as a few items to think about! I recently decided to use the program SeeSaw in my classroom to help with documentation of the learning.

I LOVED parent communication with it as you can send out notes and reminders through it. It is easy and efficient to use. My student’s parents absolutely loved looking up their student’s photos, work, and assessments which were shared with them. A few parents checked it regularly and raved about it. Other than that, to be honest, I didn't get any other feedback from the families in my classroom.


Assessment
There is a lot of AMAZING collaboration which can happen with this program! So many people have already created many assessment tools to share with others. These can easily be found in collaborative grade Facebook groups or with friends who you know who have created them. It helps teachers keep assessment simple and not having to worry about reinventing great assessments which have already been created.
Limited or slow internet?
Consider using a computer to search for assessment or add an assessment to SeeSaw. At first I was using my iPad but I eventually found that this was the most effective way to access all my stored information as my iPad ended up slowing down too much. With having two educators in the classroom I didn't always know what had been uploaded and the computer provided the fastest "check" for me to see so I wasn't making duplicates!


iPad problems
Our school had purchased a large allotment of iPads for teacher and student use which we have been very fortunate to be able to use. The unfortunate part of this is that in order to purchase many iPads, the purchasers sacrificed on storage space and our iPads came with the smallest amount of storage space available. Once our Board installed apps were added to them we had next to no storage space left! I found that SeeSaw is a memory hog as it is always trying to access what has been downloaded. As a result, the app crashed all the time


Not CASL approved
Our school board is very diligent in making sure that all our communication abides by the CASL designation and SeeSaw is not CASL approved.

Ultimately, this upcoming year I will not be using SeeSaw because of the CASL. This decision is totally out of my control. If I could, and I had access to better storage on an iPad I would LOVE to continue to use it!

What have your experiences been with SeeSaw? Please comment below to let me know!



Outdoor Learning: Exploring Paint

Playing and exploring outdoors is one of my favorite ways to extend learning with my students.

We love to add color to our water bottles and spray them onto a variety of materials. We have brought out mural paper, chart paper and even white sheets like what is shown in the images above. All of these we attach to our fence and let the kids explore with their creations. 

Materials we used:
dead washable markers - creates vibrant colors which are washable
food dye - be careful as it can stain so only add a few drops
paint - add a couple drops of a water based paint to water and shake to mix the colors up!

Weather Caution:
Be sure to make sure that you do this on a hot day so that the paint dries quickly. We have had staff leave students art outside after we go inside and it has gotten ruined or blown away creating litter on the school yard. I firmly believe in modeling respect for the earth and teaching children at a young age to take care of it!



Outdoor Learning: Dance Party Fun



One of my favorite activities to engage our students during our outside learning is to have a dance party. It doesn't matter what time of the year it is, the children all love to dance and have fun together!

I have found that some students simply like to join in by dancing on their own but most of our students enjoy exploring their creative expression using ribbons. They create their own routines together, often explore beat and rhythm or have fun exploring different ways that they can control the ribbons through various movements and the wind!


We pull out our stereo player and let the kids choose what music they want to listen to or sometimes we have a predetermined song list that we play from. In order to have the music have more of a stereo effect so that it will carry further, we put the music player inside a cheap styrofoam cooler from our local grocery store which we always keep in our outdoor storage shed throughout the year with the ribbons. Ribbons are stored in a bucket which is easily pulled out to set up for the activity. We always make sure at clean up time that all the ribbons face upwards so that they do not get knotted at the bottom of the pail.


When dancing with our ribbons we have 3 simple rules:
1. Make sure you don't hit a friend with the sticks (dowels).
2. Ribbons stay off of the ground (so we don't step on them).
3. We never play with them in the rain or in puddles as it makes the wood moldy and destroys the ribbon.

How to make the ribbon wands:
You will need:
1/2" diameter dowels
long ribbon strings - ensure there is no metal so that it won't rust.
dowel caps so the ribbons will not fall off

Instructions:
Cut the ribbon into long lengths all a variety of different sizes.
Tie them onto the end of the dowels as tight as you possibly can so that it shouldn't move around easily. I vary the lengths when I tie them so it is uneven.
Sometimes I'll mix up colors or I'll choose to stick with a color theme. Often times during our outdoor learning our students will change up which ones they use purely based upon the colors available!

How do you engage students in dancing activities during your outdoor learning time? I'd love to hear from you!



Recognizing Student Achievement




I love recognizing the student achievement in my classroom. From hard work, a great attitude, to the most improved in a subject student achievement is important to celebrate.

There are many different ways to recognize students. Here is a small listing of a few ways I have used over the years in my classroom:

Phone Call Home
Calling home to parents at the beginning of the year is a great way to establish a connection with the families in your classroom. Random calls throughout the school year are especially important for families who you do not see on a regular basis.

Positive praise points
A simple kind word of recognition goes a long way to build character and encourage students in their learning. This is often the most effective and personalized way to acknowledge student growth!

Brag Tags
Brag tags are a fun way to recognize student behavior and learning in the classroom. Students can collect their tags throughout the school year or take them home nightly to share with their family! My students love earning these on a regular basis and it is a great motivator for helping in the classroom.

  

Points
Students earn points through achieving learning goals or through positive behavior with classroom management programs like classroom dojo. Have students compete against themselves so that they see improvement and gains throughout the year!

Before or After School Chats with Parents
Children love it when they hear their teacher proudly share about all the great learning they are doing in the classroom. Parents know whether or not their child's teacher understands them and they love to hear about their child's growth. Instant feedback is a great way to do this!

End of the Year Awards
Student awards at the end of the year are one of my favorite ways of celebrating student achievement in a tangible way for kids to take home and share with their family the growth they have made throughout the year.

If you want to check out the end of the year awards I use to recognize my students click on the link below!

Kindergarten Fundraiser Ideas


We are always in need of a little extra cash for running our kindergarten program. Most of our fundraising goes towards our outdoor classroom. We are constantly finding new ways to make our learning environment more engaging and, to be honest, outdoor materials wear out a lot faster than our indoor materials.

1. Cupcake Sale
Make cupcakes as a class and sell them!

2. Art Gallery Fundraiser
Buy canvases of various sizes for students to paint at the Dollar store or local art store. Parents come to either purchase the paintings at a fixed price or auction them off. I've heard of action prices start at $20/piece. For a set price I have heard schools successfully sell the artwork for $25. At a fixed price, each parent can buy their own Childs art. Saying that there is more motivation to spend more at an auction.

3. Cookie & Lemonade Stand
Make some cookies with a favourite recipe or two! Make several drinks and sell them to the staff, school or parents at a special event.

4. Prepackaged Popcorn
Prepackaged popcorn is great for selling as there is no prep. Perfect for a nutrition break sale! You just need a place to store the boxes throughout the week.

5. Sell Popcorn to the School
Have a popcorn machine at your school? Put it to use!


6. Book Sale
Parents donate books they no longer need. Then, sell them to students and parents in the community. Students can learn lots by organizing the books!

7. Gift Cards
This can be done around the holidays or all year long. I've seen it successful at some schools and not work at all at other schools.
www.fundscript.com

8. Basket Raffles
One for each class (allow each student in each class to pick a theme)
Christmas Basket
Easter Basket
* Be aware of local gaming licensing


9. Spaghetti Lunch
Make a meal together and sell a limited number of tickets. Looking for a staff meal for a Friday? This might work!

10. Label Fundraiser
Students always need to label their school supplies!

11. Bulb Sale
Perfect for organizing from January to March to help families prepare for the spring weather.


12. Cake Raffle
Our school loved this! The kindergarten teachers organized it and gathered parent volunteers from our kindergarten parents to help facilitate with the organization. We charged $1.00 for five tickets.

13. Movie Night
Although you cannot charge for watching a movie where I live, we can charge a minimal amount for pizza or popcorn. Although this fundraiser will not earn a lot of money, students and parents alike enjoy coming to spend time together at the school and be with friends! An average of $200 per night would be considered great.


14. Pizza Kits
This works best if it is sold to the whole school. Companies such as Little Caesars sell kits to schools!

What other ideas have you found work great for your school?

Welcoming Families To Kindergarten




Including parents in their Childs education is extremely important. Children feel more comfortable sharing about their school day when they know that their family understands what they area talking about! Parents feel more involved with the school and it becomes a more welcoming place.

I wanted to make a list of activities to invite parents in on a regular basis. Having something fun or exciting makes the activity a bit more engaging for families to want to participate. Our first invitation was for Stone Soup and we did not invite siblings as we knew the participation was going to be huge. Our suspicion was correct and our classes were bursting at the seams! In the future I will consider inviting younger siblings to help ease their transition into kindergarten!

The following is a list of the ideas that I would like to use in my classroom. Several of them I have used in my classroom already. I hope you find this list to be useful. As I come across new ideas I will be adding them.

Play Invitation
Invite parents to learn along with you as a natural part of the day. Some teachers do this quarterly, monthly or weekly. I know colleagues who have invited parents for the last 45 minutes of the day. Others invite them for the last block and I have even heard of a "drop in" style where parents are invited any time of the day to stay for 30-60 minutes at a time. "Welcome Wednesdays" and "Family Fridays" are two coined phrases I have heard of over the years to help parents remember when the visit days are scheduled.

Stone Soup
This is the very first family visit that we had in our class. Students bring in a vegetable and we made a soup together. During the last learning block, families were invited to eat with us and learn with us as we shared our soup! Click here to read about our stone soup experiences!

Games Day
Who doesn't love playing a game? Children love to play and harnessing this energy makes learning fun! Most games have many math concepts which support the math curriculum. Plus, the extra bonus of social/emotional development. Have families bring their favourite to play and swap for the afternoon with other families to learn a new game!


Puzzle Day
Families bring their favourite puzzle to school and build it together with friends. Share/swap with other families for a new challenge.

Math Event
Provide a variety of math games for parents to participate and learn along with their children.

Reading Invitation
Provide a wide variety of books from the library and invite parents to come in to read with their child a wide variety of books!

Baking Fun
Students bake something that they all can enjoy (we have many allergies in my classroom) and share with their visiting family members!

Class Concert
Practice a song or two and put on a concert for your families! Children love to perform and what can be better than an intimate concert? If you've already presented for an assembly, perform the same activity for the families!

Class Play
If your students have created a play, shown an interest in puppetry or love nursery rhymes this is a perfect opportunity to put on a show!

Inquiry Celebration
After an inquiry, students can show off all they have learned to their families!

Multicultural Food Day
Have families bring in a special food from their culture to share with others. Make sure they bring an ingredients list if there are allergies.

Build a Community
If your students have an interest in community helpers, 3D figures, maps or even treasure hunts this might be a big hit in your classroom! Have students create a community and show it off to others. This can be done with Lego, recycled materials or even as a mural that they create together. The options are endless!


Gingerbread Traps
The gingerbread man is on the loose in the school! Challenge parents to make a trap with their child in order to help catch him. When parents come the children can share how they created the trap with each other.

St Patrick's Day Trap
St. Patrick's is on the loose in the classroom! Challenge parents to make a trap with their child in order to help catch him. When parents come the children can share how they created the trap with each other.

Teddy Bear Picnic
Invite parents to a teddy bear picnic with their child. Bring your own food or make it a special event to share food.

Create Gifts
Teaching others to reach out to the greater community is a valuable lesson to teach even young children. We have hosted parents coming in to make crafts that we have donated to local senior homes in our community. Parents and children love to be a part of this and the seniors love to decorate their residence with gifts from our class! In the past we have made wreathes with patterned paintings of our hands and door hang decorations for during the holiday seasons.






Planning for Outdoor Learning in Kindergarten



I love collaborating with my other team members in our Kindergarten team and love that we can plan together for our outdoor learning. We have a team of 14 staff members so this is a big collaborative effort!

Our Outdoor Learning Schedule:
40 minutes of outdoor learning first thing in the morning with staggered entry for small group instruction.
40 minutes of outdoor learning at the end of the day.

This schedule provides less transitions in our day for students. They only have to undress once during the day and get dressed to go outside at the end of the day. We do not go outside for a recess but have two 40 minute nutrition breaks where students eat and then often do gross motor activities to help keep them focused for the day.

During outside learning each teacher has a "role" where we sign up for specific learning centres to engage students and others are floaters who help with runners, behaviour management and any students who may need bathroom breaks etc. All classes have two teachers, so we usually ensure that one team member is at a centre and the other is floating.


As a team we collaborate on a learning template very similar to what we use in our classroom. We try our best to ensure we hit as many learning opportunities that we possibly can based upon the interests that we notice while we are outside learning together. The following freebie shows a basic template that we use in our classroom and what we try to purposefully uncover while we are learning together. Click on the image to see it!


Learning Centres on our Plan
Science & Discovery
Math
Language
Paint & Visual Art
Music
Gross Motor: Field vs. Tarmac
Fine Motor
Water
Sand
Blocks & Building Materials

At first, one team member took minutes and we documented what learning activities were being provided and which room was responsible for it. This member would print the page and post it in our shed as well as post it in our school conference for all the team members to print.  We found this very purposeful but often found that we ran out of time for deeper collaboration together.

Google Drive To the Rescue!
In response to this need, we found it valuable to create a shared google document and all team members bring an iPad to add their ideas during our planning. This has allowed all of us to input our contributions quickly and we can all glance at the activities quickly and then are more purposeful in our discussions. Our meetings have been able to be more focused and we are all happy that we can go home quicker at the end of the day!

How does your planning differ? I'd love to learn how other teams collaborate together!
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