Wednesday, 29 January 2014

First day with kids!

Today was my first day with my new preppies. They were fantastic, and I had an awesome day! Here is the display we made today:

They were asked to draw themselves on their first day of school. I love seeing the different ways they draw, and I love seeing their understandings of what I have asked. One drew a rainbow, another had a page full of squiggles. Here are a couple of cuties up close:

It was a great first day, now for day 2!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

First day back!

Today was our first day back - for teachers only. We started with a two hour whole school meeting, followed by team meetings. Lots of info was shared because we have three new staff members this year. It was good to hear some of the info again, refresh my brain after five weeks of holidays.

I'm a prep teacher this year and there is only one prep class at my school for this year, so I'm a team of 1. This meant that during team meeting time today I got to do things that I needed to get done. I did a total clean out of my mobile whiteboard shelves, which now only has 'kid friendly' things on it (no more permanent textas near the whiteboard!!). I also set up my room ready for my new preppies to arrive tomorrow.

Super just a bit nervous about tomorrow. I love the first day of a new year and getting to meet and start to get to know my new kids. But it is also nerve wracking. On the agenda for tomorrow is playing with toys to help the kids settle (magnetic letters, lego, drawing, puppets, farm animals, books), then the good ol' whole class toilet break, followed by fruit snack, a read aloud, discussing school rules and a self portrait. Hopefully that'll take us up to recess, and after recess we will discuss and have a go at the mat rules (being 5 star listeners takes practice!) then they'll make a front cover for their Science Journal. My kiddos go home at 12.30pm the three days they're at school this week. I will be doing some last minute setting up (like table name tags) and organising the materials they bring in during the afternoons. It's a lovely way to get used to school routine.

The aim is to take some pics of my little cuties working (no faces...) and I'll do another post on the weekend to show you how our first week went!!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Storybook Sunday and Books You'll Love

What an awesome day for link-ups! Paula's Place has Storybook Sunday and A Kindergarten Smorgasbord has Books You'll Love. I'm going to post about my most favourite book which is one I will read this week to my new preps!

Here it is!! I like myself! by Karen Beaumont.

I absolutely love this book!! I will read it at least once a term throughout the year. It is all about a girl who likes herself no matter what she looks likes.

I like myself, I'm glad I'm me. There's no one else I'd rather be.

I love that as a concept to start teaching the kids from the minute they enter my room. I read it all the way through, then we discuss what it means. At different times through the year I will address it again, in more depth each time. I have also sent a passage of it home with my students as a poem to read with their family. I think it is so important to discuss all of the great things that we have going on, and how awesome we are! I get students to talk to each other about things they like about themselves, things they are good at, etc. Students draw and write about these things. We talk about what makes us special and unique. We talk about why it is important that we are all different, and we discuss how to respect other's differences. It is a great springboard for a huge range of discussion ideas!

And, the illustrations are just awesome!!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Five for Friday link-up

This is my first Five for Friday linky with Doodle Bugs Teaching!! Very exciting.

This is my last week of holidays (I start back at school on Tuesday for a teacher work day, then kids on Wednesday) so I have been making the most of it. A PJ day, catching up with friends for coffees and dinners, watching some awesome TV and going to the movies with my sister. What a busy, and fun, last week of Summer holidays.

In preparation for my new class this year I have been doing lots of planning. One of the big things has been figuring out my timetable for the new year. It has to fit all of the important things in, while still having time for some fun too! And this year I have a unique bunch of preppies who need to work on fine motor skills and following routines. This is what my timetable looks like:

PMP is Perceptual Motor Program, which is gross motor skills. FMS is Fine Motor Skills. P.D. is Personal Development for values and social skills. Buddies is the time the preps spend with their grade 5 buddies.

Part of my personal set of school-based goals this year is to keep everything accountable to our curriculum, AusVELS, and to be explicit in the classroom about what we are focusing on. I downloaded an awesome set by Miss N (TpT) which I have put up in my room do display the standards we are focusing on. It is going to be an awesome tool for me, any CRT (substitute teacher) or visitor to our room.

In a TV flashback, I just bought the complete set (8 seasons) of Will & Grace! Some of the clothes are still awesome, but some look pretty dated. The show as a whole holds up well 15 years from when it started. I have gotten through the first season and quarter of the second season - it's great fun!

I have designed my 2014 class newsletter. I love sending home a newsletter fortnightly to let parents/other important people know what is going on in the classroom.

That was fun linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for my first Five for Friday linky!!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

I'm ready for school!

I went in to school yesterday for my last 'holidays visit' before school officially goes back. I wanted to make sure that my room was set up and ready for my new preppies to walk in on the first day. I've still got a couple of little things to do, like put out their name tags, but otherwise I am all set for next Wednesday when they arrive! I'm very excited about my new class; I have 20 4.5-6 years old. It's going to be a fun year!

One of the things I did was put up this awesome number display from Principals Principles. I love that the numbers 1-10 have a tens frame and then three different ways to show the number. I plan on making small versions of these and using them as flash cards and for small groups to work with.

One of my favourite things to do is deck out my room and I have just added this clock to my classroom decor:

I love how clear, bright and colourful it is!!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

New product! PMP Activity Cards

I finished my new product! It is a set of 21 activity cards designed to be used with a Perceptual Motor Program or to support gross motor skill development.

The cards include activities that cover balance, hand-eye co-ordination and crossing the mid-line. They would be suitable for students up to about grade 2, unless there are specific kids who need to work on these skills above that grade level.

I am planning on using this is my classroom three days a week. We will have sessions where my preppies will work in groups of 4-5 at an activity for about 10min. Each activity will have an adult helper to support the kids. The cards will be posted at the station so that the helper knows what to do. But you could also use these for learning centres or withdrawal tasks. Some of them even work as whole group activities. 

You can have a look at my new product here.

A revamped product just uploaded!

I have just finished an overhaul of one of my products. It has new clip art (from Graphics From the Pond), a new border and a revised layout. It still has Victorian Modern Cursive though. Here is a before pic and an after pic - what a difference!!!

You can buy a copy here

I use these sheets when I teach a new letter, but you could use them as revision sheets as well. A buyer who got the 'before' version said that they have laminated a set and use whiteboard markers with them as part of a writing corner.

Today I have also been working on a new product. It's not quite finished, but it's nearly there. It's all about gross motor skills, which is something I will be working on with my preppies this year.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

My first linky

I have always loved reading all the interesting stuff that comes up as part of linkies. And now it is my turn to join in!

I have joined up with Where the Wild Things Learn to share my daily schedule.

At the moment I am still on summer holidays (being an Australian teacher) but this is the plan for the 2014 school year. I am lucky enough to have 4 hours of specialists each week. My students get an hour each of Indonesian, Music, Art and PE. Those specialists happen at different times during the day, so the schedule above is a generalisation of what a day might look like.

My school is working on becoming a 'science-focused' school. This year we have two teachers who are going to become Science Coaches. This means that we have scrapped 'theme learning time' and now integrate Science throughout our core areas (Reading, Writing and Maths) as much as it can be done. Each term has a focus topic taken from our Science curriculum. For term 1 my kids will be learning all about the things that humans, plants and animals needs to survive.

I will be doing Morning Meetings for the first time this year. I plan to do a read aloud to start the day, then complete a version of Calendar Maths. I have been working on a SMARTBoard version of it because I don't have a great deal of display space in my room.

In term 1 I will be doing either PMP (Perceptual Motor Program) or Fine Motor Skills everyday. We will work on things like balance, crossing the mid-line and hand-eye co-ordination in PMP. In FMS we will work on pencil grip, wrist and hand strength, and pinch grip, etc. This is the first time I have planned this way but I'm really excited about it!!

Writing will be focused on recounts and responding to texts to begin with. Even though we have a Science focus, I still do a bit of 'All About Me' to begin the year. We will draw and write about our families and some of our favourite things during term 1.

I teach 2 letters a week as part of phonics. I will also be using the CAFE strategies to support our Reading curriculum.

Last year my school focused on our maths curriculum. I have learnt so much about how to teach maths over the past 6 months, in particular. I have decided to have 2 week focus areas in maths and really explore the topic. Last year I would do a different area each week and sometimes I felt like I was skimming the surface. We had a maths coach at our school (the amazing Andrea Hillbrick) and one of her key points was to allow lessons to 'travel' (or continue over more than one lesson) if they are really working well. I never did that because I was too busy racing through the topics.

Other things that we do during the week are Show and Tell (a favourite for my students, I do all of my class all at once in one hour, and we have a learning goal for the session), library, Religious Education, assembly, values education (You Can Do It is our current values program and we are starting a FRIENDS program this year) and buddies. It's a busy week, but I love doing it!

My first post

Hello blog land. Welcome to my new blog. Eeek, that's a bit of pressure.

I have been thinking about starting a blog for a while. There are some amazing teacher bloggers whose blogs I read, and they are so inspiring! I decided maybe I could try my hand at it. I've got a few products up on TpT, have been obsessed with Pinterest for a while and have been putting photos up on Instagram, so this is the next step.

I am a Prep teacher in Victoria, Australia. I love my job! I love everything about it - yep, even meetings. I see myself as very lucky to have found a career I love and a job which is so enjoyable. I didn't always want to be a teacher. In fact, I studied photography straight out of high school. But it wasn't for me. I have found that photography is more suited as a hobby for me. I didn't know what to do after I left my photography degree, so I started working part time jobs and looking for 'a purpose'... A family friend is a primary teacher, she had a grade 1/2 class at that stage, so I asked to volunteer in her room for a bit (not really thinking that I'd like it - too many kids...). But I loved it!! I volunteered one day a week for three terms. Yep, it totally changed my life. Sounds a bit lame, but so true! I got back in to uni, studied my butt off, and got a job at a beautiful school. This is my third year teaching, and my third year at that school. Love it!

I'm looking forward to getting into the world of teacher blogging, getting better at making products to put on TpT that will suit my kids and maybe some other kids too, and learning from the amazing teachers out there. I'm a bit of nerd and just adore reading about other people's classrooms and teaching.