Digital Holiday Concert Planning for Busy Teachers


Do you ever forget what songs your students have performed at school concerts?

Ever changed schools and wondered what has been presented by classes in years prior to you being at the new school?

I've had this happen to me multiple times throughout my career. I will admit that although my teaching partners have been fabulous at keeping me in the loop, when switching new schools, sometimes it is handy just having all the information all in one place.

This led me to do some brainstorming and I came up with a digital product for Google Sheets. 


How Do We Collaborate?

One slide allows for all teachers to input their song or poem selection that they will be using. Teachers can easily and quickly input their ideas during a staff/planning meeting. You can also send this out to staff through an email and have them fill it in by a predetermined deadline. 

This allows everyone to instantly see if there are duplications for songs. Having all the songs in one place for everyone to see for years to come allows for greater collaboration and a wider understanding of the culture of the community you are teaching in!

I decided instead of everyone reinventing the wheel I'd share it with you already put together.

Additional Benefits:

Another slide is provided with 96 examples, at the time of this blog post but will be growing, of different songs and poems for primary grades. A variety of themes are included! 

This sheet is not limited to any grade. It could easily be adapted for older students and anyone in your staff can make additions to this as long as you ensure you share the file so that others can edit it! If you want to check it out, click on the image below. There are a variety of other "features" included in this file. Check it out if you want more details!


I hope that you find this to be as useful as I have found. It really has helped our team be more collaborative. We are definately planning more effectively, less energy and time put into organizing compared to previous years!
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Weekly Round-Up: November 26, 2017

It is truly hard to believe that we are in the last week of November!

This year has flown by. 

I hope that you are feeling like you are ready to tackle the last few months before the holiday break!

I was hoping to post this last week but was unable. As a result, this post is a quick reflection on last weeks learning centers in our classroom. 

1. Math

We have been focusing a lot on sorting this past week. I used to store the straws and connectors in the classroom in one large bin.

We decided that we wanted to encourage proper use of these materials and my ECE teaching partner had a wonderful idea to place them in separate containers.

To be honest, this idea was absolutely brilliant!

Students can easily find the connectors and automatically are sorting while cleaning up. We discuss that we are sorting as they work, "What is your sorting rule?" and all of the children can answer. These buckets also take half the space on our shelves to store so if storage space is limited this is an added bonus!




2. Writing

I posted this week our writing continuum. We will be referencing this throughout the school year for students to be able to self assess their own work and see throughout the year where their writing started and how it has progressed!

This week we searched for specific examples from children in our classroom for each of the writing goals. Most of them are posted but not all. Once they are we will discuss this together with the class and learn together how we learn how to write!

We recently changed the layout of our classroom and now we have a writing area of our classroom where we can display all of our writing tools permanently close to students individual writing bins. It has been easier for students to reference their personalized writing resources by doing this which we are grateful for.

If you want to see the labels that I used, you can check them out by clicking here or on the second image below this text. 



3. Writing

We reused the game boards from Rumikub to play Go Fish with simple sight words! A binder was placed between students to prevent cheating! The children loved playing this game and even the non-readers asked to play along!


4. Building

Building with Lincoln Logs isn't always the easiest for young children.

I am always amazed how students use materials differently when presented with additional objects to their play.

Here we added a few wood slices to the table with the Lincoln Logs. Many children ignored them but one student in particular found them to be a challenge! They created a "wall" all around the outside of the wood and then added a roof, using another wooden slice, to their building! At clean up time, he wondered how many of the small pieces needed to be removed for the wooden slice to fall down and collapse the building. We used long sticks to do this to prevent pinched fingers! It was a great inquiry!


5. Outdoor Learning

It is amazing how children are easily entertained by fake representations of what their parents use.

One of our team went to a local phone company and asked for their old, obsolete phones that they do not sell anymore. This is a great way to add to your outdoor learning collection without having to spend any money while making an addition to your dramatic play outdoors!


Check out my other Round-Ups here or  Follow me on Bloglovin' to see more ideas for learning activities in kindergarten!


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Great Canadian Cyber Monday Giveaway!



I am really excited to be participating in a gift card giveaway! Consider entering to win one of three $50 gift cards! This is just in time for the cyber sale Monday!

The Rafflecopter starts tonight at midnight and closes Sunday night at midnight. Click on the link below for a chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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Holiday Card Templates

 I love letting my students create their own unique art to share with others.

Sometimes though, I'm limited on time before the holiday break as life around the school is hectic, engaging and sometimes utterly exhausting.

I'm not complaining!

Just stating it as it can be.

I always encourage my students to think of others throughout the school year but especially during the holiday season as so many people struggle at this time of the year.

One way I have found to be helpful, during this busy season, is to have card templates out for students to create cards to their family or friends. I have used it as an art activity before but to be honest I usually just leave it out for early finishers or students who want to create something special for whomever they want.

The inside words I made for my primary students so I don't need to worry about them being concerned about the spelling. They can add any text that they want to the cards which they love to do. The cover of the cards are left completely up to their hearts desire!

I decided to make these templates available for you last year. If you ever use them feel free to post pictures of them on Instagram and tag me @teachingelementaryandbeyond ! FYI: They come in blackline and color!
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Holiday Movies for Primary Classes


Life is busy around the holidays.

I wanted to share with you some "go to" videos for this time of the year. Some of them are activities to get moving and others are classics to watch. 

Have fun watching!

Cosmic Kids Yoga Christmas Special

16:31

Silly Santa

3:25

Caillou's Holiday Movie

1:00:32


Christmas Cartoons For Children: Mickey Mouse & Donald Duck Christmas

35:52

Frosty The Snowman

26:11

I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas

2:38

If You're a Kid and you Know it

3:00

Cookie Boogie

1:12

Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer

51:42

Santa Clause is Coming to Town

50:43

The Little Drummer Boy

25:13

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Reflecting Children's Lives Book Review


Our Kindergarten team has studied a book each year in a book club.

It is a great way to develop common language, support each other in our learning and give each other ideas to use in our classroom.

We recently studied "Reflecting Children's Lives" by Deb Curtis and Margie Carter.

Overall, I found that it was a great book which for teachers who are just starting on their journey into emergent practice and a reflective book for teachers who are currently using this model.

Our team had a lot of "ah ha" moments where we acknowledged the growth from where we started years ago and could name how we are actively embracing this philosophy in our classrooms and as a team during outdoor learning.

My favourite chapter was the chapter 2 on Revitalizing the Environment.

The book highlights many principles to keep in mind to encourage an emergent environment but we noted in our group that some of the philosophies of the book are geared to a daycare toddler setting versus an actual Kindergarten classroom.

We had some great discussions about these differences and the importances of them.

These small reminders were great:

  • looking at the whole classroom from a Childs perspective
  • easily accessible learning materials
  • open-ended loose parts and materials
  • using diverse textures in materials, sensory and even lighting
  • ensuring a flexible classroom environment
  • reflect students lives
  • ensure to reflect multiple cultures in your room based upon the students in your class
  • be flexible
  • use natural materials

I would highly recommend reading it as a professional read to reflect upon your learning.

If you are interested in purchasing it I have a link to my Amazon affiliate where you can check it out  by clicking on the photo of the book above.
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Weekly Round-Up: November 16, 2017


Brrr!

This week has been a cold one!

We have been focusing a lot on routines lately in our classroom to prepare for the cold weather. I am a firm believer in setting children up for success. To get ready for winter and to develop independence we teach students to learn how to zip their zippers up using their fall coats and/or sweaters for months prior to the cold weather. We use silly sayings to help kids remember what they need to do.

This week this effort has proven to be a huge sucess. It is the first week below Zero degrees Celcius and all of our students are wearing their winter clothing. They all have been able to put their winter clothes independently and will seek help to make sure they are using the best strategies instead of whining, "I cannot do it!"

We are over the moon proud of these kids for all that they have learned!


1. Math

Representing numbers with manipulatives can be a challenge for some students. I love adding mats to allow students to show their understanding of numbers. One side has numbers 0-5 and the other has 0-10. Some students sort objects as they represent numbers and others even created patterns as they played!


2. Writing

Spin a sight word! This is the first group that I have taught in a while who has not erased the sight words prior to playing this game and while playing this game! The easel used has two sides which we can write on. One side has a spinner and the other side simply has sight words for students to write. 

Many kids came to play this and added new words to their boards as a challenge and exension to the activity!


3. Fine Motor & Dramatic Play

Learning how to buildusing lincoln logs can be challenging for many students. Being able to create the cross pattern to fit the logs into place to be able to build can be hard. Adding materials to them, such as leaves and grass, allows students to explore these materials with the ability to not be exclusively reliant on their building skills. 


4. Calming Corner

Our calming corner gained a new addition!

Although this photo distorts the images there are three foam chairs that I added to our classroom. Although they fit in a couch I prefer to seperate them so that one student does not monopolize the whole set. It also prevents students from playing on them with playground behavior.

I bought these from a local foam store. They had a multitude of colors to choose from but since our class has a grey theme I choose a dark charcoal as it is neutral and not stimulating for students.


5. Outdoor Learning

We have added blankets to our outdoor learning. Simple games such as, "Who can fit under the blanket?" "Who is under the blanket?" and "How many feet can we fit under the blanket?" were a hit! It is always amazing how simple, authentic games can be created with such minimal materials!


Check out my other Round-Ups here or  Follow me on Bloglovin' to see more ideas for learning activities in kindergarten!

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Number Sense: Conservation Principle

Developing Number Sense: Principles of Counting

All concepts of number sense need to be actively taught.

The conservation principle is one of the first few principles children learn when developing their understanding of number sense.

Conservation Principle.

This concept comes very easy for some students and not so much for others. It is the ability to count objects and not be concerned with their location relative to each other.

Five blocks touching each other are five.

Five blocks spread out on the playground are still five.

Practice

I usually play fun games with gems, cookies or random objects to explore conservation with students. Exploring with blocks during our learning block time or any other materials students are using will help them develop this skill

Small Group Instruction Example
With the gems, I will place some in my hands and pour them slowly together onto the table and have students count them. Then, I will have students pick them up and toss them into a bucket and count them. Practicing this in a variety of ways helps students develop this skill!

Want to see more blog posts on number sense principles or activities to support numbr sense development? Click here!
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A Great Read Aloud for Acceptance



I love teaching morals through picture books. "You're Different and That's Super" is a great picture book I just discovered for students to begin to explore acceptance. You can click on the image below to view the book on Amazon.

It does not matter what group of kids I have taught, there is always one student who points out how someone is different in the group.

Short vs tall.

Long hair vs short hair.

Creators vs builders.

Young children learn through discovering opposites. Up vs down. Night vs day. Gentle vs rough. Teaching children to understand that differences are okay and to be proud of their differences is necessary.

This book is about an orphan colt who lived on a farm. All the mares were unique. At first, the other animals made fun of this orphan for his unique whinny and called him Trumpet. He was fast so that didn't matter to the other animals.

On his first birthday, he began to grow a horn. He is bullied as a result of his growing horn and ends up hating the fact that he is different until there is an emergency in the barn. His uniqueness saves the animals and he eventually discovers that his differences are great and important!

I think this is a great message to all children. It might take a while to truly understand who we all are and how we are unique but we need to accept each other and in doing so we learn how great we all can be together!
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Weekly Round-Up: November 9, 2017

Happy November!

It is hard to believe that we are into our third month of school. Seven more school weeks until our break!  This week we handed in our progress reports (Communications of Learning where I teach) with feedback to get them ready to go home next week. 

Our first communication with parents is an observation of students. We used to have parents visit in our class and then have our interviews. This year we wrote COL's for the first time and will have interviews afterward. 

I'm excited that as a kindergarten team we were able to collaborate together to get our PM Benchmark Kit ready to be used. Amazing parents of another K teacher on our team came and stamped and sorted the books to get them ready to be used. 

Being at a brand new school is exciting but time-consuming.


1. Math: Number Sense

We created a new game this week which can be played individually or as a race against as a friend. It is a super simple game that was a huge hit with everyone in the class!

Many number sense concepts are covered in this simple activity. Subitizing skills, 1-1 correspondence, movement is magnitude, and representing numbers in a variety of ways are all a part of this game! I collected our rings from a second-hand store so they are not all the same size. So this activity also hits the abstraction principle! 

How to play? Simply, roll the dice and add that many rings to the paper towel holder! Count how many fit when you've reached the top!

Play a friend by taking turns rolling one die and adding the rings to the tower. Who can fill their paper towel holder to the top the fastest? 


2. Literacy

We painted the upper case alphabet using Q-Tips this week!  At first, it was open for small group instruction only but then we opened it up to the class once certain students had come.

This is great for fine motor development, letter formation and experimenting with mixing colors. One of us was monitoring this activity to ensure they knew how to handle the paint appropriately as well as to make sure students were starting at the top of letters!


 

3. Fine Motor

We were lucky to have a student from our class donate this fine motor activity.

The center simply includes beads and pipe cleaners. Stringing the beads through the pipe cleaner is often harder than one might think!



4. Building & Fine Motor

Many students love to play with Duplo.

At the beginning of the year, Duplo is a great provocation to place out since we have very young three-year-olds in our classroom who still put objects in their mouths.

This is an airport. The CN Tower is on display with multiple airplanes for you to see! I'm absolutely fascinated with how creative children can be!


5. Art


Our students interest in the Five Little Pumpkins has not finished! 

Students asked to paint the story and they created many amazing representations of their ideas of this poem!

Check out my other Round-Ups here or  Follow me on Bloglovin' to see more ideas for learning activities in kindergarten!
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Number Sense: Order Irrelevance Principle

Developing Number Sense: Principles of Counting

All concepts of number sense need to be actively taught. Stable order principle is one of the beginning concepts of counting that children learn! Although children are usually unaware of their learning of this concept it is an important skill to be taught. 

Teaching students explicitly about order irrelevance helps develop their fluency with numbers

Order Irrelevance Principle

This principle applies to counting a set of objects. It does not matter which object you start with when you begin to count and that the total remains the same.

For example:
If I have three toy animals (a bird, dog and cat) I can start counting with the dog the first time I count the set and the next time I can start with the cat and I will always end up with the same number of three!

This seems like a simple concept to understand but if you ask kids tell you how many objects there are in a set by counting in a different order often they have to count the objects over and over again. 

When children are developing this skill they will count each object each time they are asked how many are in the set. If they don't understand the concept they might count the same object several times without realizing it. This understanding is very closely tied to the concept of cardinality which I will discuss in another upcoming blog post.

Children will demonstrate their complete understanding of this concept when they automatically know the answer without counting. "I know it is three because I counted it before and it hasn't changed!"

Practice

Simply have children count objects in their every day environment in a variety of different ways that are meaningful the them. Constant exposure to counting helps develop this skill as well as making a game out of it by "mixing up" objects in a set to see if the numbers change.

I have also used the following activity to assess students understanding. It uses a fun situation of a frog hopping over a pond on lily pads. Students are asked if they can get the frog to "hop" across and then show a new way. Students who always repeat the same pattern have not developed the concept of order irrelevance yet.

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