Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Spring Reflection

Warning!  The next two paragraphs are a bit long and I am galloping on my high horse but... if you stick with me I promise some cute and very fun uplifting photos to follow!

Did anyone read Deanna Jump's post yesterday Butterflies and Vocabulary?  If you haven't it is worth joining the discussion.  To summarize she received a negative comment on her TPT store claiming the vocabulary in her units are not kindergarten appropriate.  Ridiculous!  This topic really hit home for me.  Recently, I was questioned when I introduced the word biologist to my kinder cuties.  I was kicking off the plants and animals unit and wanted students to get in to the biologist mindset.  My students were thrilled!  They practiced letter sounds by helping sound out the word for our classroom Dictionary board.  I overheard students saying, "WE are BIOLOGISTS!?!?!"  "Ms. Chako I love plants and animals I want to be a biologist when I grow up."  At recess students would go on 'biologist walks' studying the playground for interesting plants and looking for animal tracks and clues.  Introducing this word was a success.  My kids were hooked, wanted to learn more, proud that they knew a scientific word, and eager to be the best biologist they could be.  This word and vocabulary introduction technique came straight from a 6 day G.L.A.D training I attended.  The message of the training was expose expose expose!  Expose students to vocabulary!  They are at the perfect age for new language acquisition and language retention.  G.L.A.D is all about EXPOSE EXPOSE EXPOSE!  Students will rise to the occasion when presented with a higher level vocabulary words.  Vocabulary words can teach children about parts of speech.  When a child see's -ist at the end of the word they know it is a suffix, and that the word is a noun etc.  When a student learns how to find clues within a tough word they will use the strategies for other difficult words.  This vocabulary problem solving carries with them from grade level to grade level and increases standardized testing scores.  By the time a student reaches college they are not intimidated by text books but instead see that daunting black and white text and tackle it head on.  I could go on and on about the benefits of exposing children to rich vocabulary and the learning benefits, but I digress.  The point is when I used the word biologist someone questioned me.  They metaphorically stomped their feet and made a bit of a ruckus.  How could I?  This word was not appropriate for kindergarten?  At first I let the incident get under my skin.  With support and encouragement from fellow educators I held fast to my G.L.A.D. techniques and vocabulary strategies.  Hello!?!?!?!  These strategies have the Stanford and UCI stamp of approval!  They have been researched, analyzed, studied and field tested!  You go Deanna Jump!  And hey while I am at it, Go Me!!!  AND GO all teachers who believe in what is educationally sound for students and persevere!

Sticking with the Deanna Jump post from last night I would like to quickly discuss comments on TPT.  This morning I woke up and checked my email.. Hurray I made a sale on TPT!!!  Next email I checked said I had a TPT Comment.  Hurray my first comment since opening my store a little bit ago!!!  The comment read, "Thanks."  Hurray, I thought, this is a good comment!!!  I logged in to my TPT store and was shocked.  The person that bought my product, and left me the ambiguous one word "thanks," gave me 3 out of 4 stars?!?!  Booooooo!  Because I am a new TPT store and this was my FIRST review and comment not only was my product rated three but my ENTIRE TPT profile said 3!   3 is not bad I know, but I feel the rating system is a bit skewed when one comment appears to define you.  And yes, I am a bit of perfectionist, and people pleaser by nature.  Aren't all teachers???? So I took this 3 rating to heart.  If only the comment giver had left me a helpful tip, or a reason for the three rating, or a way I could improve I would happily take the feedback to make the product even better.  Unfortunately, I was not given this chance.  At least I take solace that the guru herself, Mrs. Deanna Jump struggles with comments and TPT stuff as well.  There is comfort in that.  Anyone have any TPT tips?  Ways to get feedback on your store?  Way to brush off the negatives?  Stories?  I would love to hear from you!

Now on to the juicy stuff!

Fun spring classroom mural that always brightens my day in my classroom!

In the concrete jungle that can sometimes be outside a kinder classroom I embrace potted plants.  I use the bright chalk paint from Home Depot and decorate the bins.  I have had the same rose plant since my first year of teaching years ago!  Such a treasure!

Fun way I spice up science journals.

Farm Quilt!  Inspired by the AMAZING Kinder By Kim!

During the Farm Unit students brainstorm and bring in items that come from pigs for homework...

And cows.... See the Mochi?  Yum!!!  Thank you cows!

To go along with the kinder science and Foss my students make snail races!  These are a big hit that I put out for open house.  Students drag their very apprehensive parents to the racing table and compete to see which snail can make it from the center bullseye to one of the outside enticing destinations.  Watch out for the bee and lady bug!  I LOVE the encouraging cheers written to the snails! 

During the spring study of plants it is always fun to have dirt cupcakes!  

I like to call this Sight Words Chalk Talk.  Students decorate the outside of our classroom with all the sight words learned this year.  I also did  'Book Graffiti' today.  Students draw pictures of characters, write key words and phrases from some of the favorite stories read throughout the year.

Mother's Day workshop is well under way in our class. I figure a little bit each day with the kinders and we will make some adorable and amazing gifts for our special mothers! 

All the rage on Pinterest and the web seems to be Rainbow Cakes!!!

Thus the idea for our Mother's Day Cards were born.  Students LOVED making these cards and were very proud of their hard work.  I overheard one student say, "My mom is going to go gaga for this!"  Gaga is his new favorite word and I love it!  As we draw closer to the end of the year I am trying to give students more and more tasks where they have to listen to multiple step directions and then work independently.  They must rely on peers to help solve problems that arise and they must have peers check their work.  This card was perfect for students to practice these skills!  

The front of our yummy cake cards!

Yum!  Don't these slices look absolutely delicious?

Inside students wrote mom special sentences or words describing why they love her!  I can't wait for our moms to get their hands on these!  

 This cute rainbow card craft and other fun Mother's day activities can be found by clicking the picture below!

You must watch this video!  ***Love*** ***Swoon*** ***Adore***  ***Tear*** Amaze-balls!


Cheers to you teaching friends!



  1. I just LOVE your blog! I m so glad that I started following you. You have such meaningful, age appropriate activities! Kudos to you!!

    Jen's Kinder Kids

  2. If these parents knew how poorly the US scores in science, they'd be happy that you teach kids words like "biologist."

  3. In my experience the teachers that question things like that don't need to be in the classroom. If we set the bar high the kids will strive to meet it! I have high expectations for my kids and for the most part my parents are always pleased by that. Hang in there- you rock!
    Rowdy in First Grade

  4. Go Sheila! You are right on! I am sorry someone questioned your teaching. Boo to them! Last week I taught my students the word paleontologist as we began our study of dinosaurs. I, too, pointed out to my students that -ist at the end of a word means a person who studies something. Yep, it is all about exposure. By the way, it is my students who are teaching me how to say those really hard dinosaur names!!! Maybe if I had had a teacher like you I would know all of these words!

    Please know that you are amazing and incredible and I am so glad that we are at the same school!
    An Open Door

  5. I love your blog! Thanks for sharing all of your ideas!

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  6. I love reading your great ideas and now follow your wonderful blog. Please stop by and visit me =) Thanks for sharing!

  7. Found your blog today... LOVE IT!! Just was wondering about the snail game?? How is it played?? Do you have real snails?? I know this post is from a while ago and you may not have alerts when you get a comment, but I will be taking on my own TK class in the fall and this sounds fun for open house night :)
    Michelle @


Sheila Chako
Sprinkle Teaching Magic