Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Teachable Moments

The boys were begging for a trip to Five Guys and Tommy Gun's today. So we went... Just the three of us. 

They love the peanuts at Five Guys. They can scoop them by themselves and throw the shells on the floor. What more could a guy ask for. 

Jake was sure that all of the bags under the peanuts were MORE peanuts. You know, because "people love the peanuts so much so they need lots of extra ones." I told him that they were actually potatoes. 

"Why do dey need all of dose potatoes??" 

When I told him they use the potatoes to make fries you would have thought I just told him that Mickey Mouse was in the house! His eyes got huge and he exclaimed, "whoa!!! I never knew I loved potatoes so much!!" He had a million questions and theories about how it all worked. How did the farmer pick them? How did they get to the store? How do they turn them into fries? Etc. 

It was a long shot... but my mom taught me that the worst anyone can ever say is no... So I went to the counter and asked if the boys could see the potato slicer. 

She said "YES"!!!!!! 

What happened next was totally awesome. The manager went I to great detail about how to put the machine together, which parts are sharp and why there are parts that are greasy. She took them to the bags of potatoes and let them each pick one out. She let them each cut their potato in the machine. She encouraged them to try a bite of the raw potato. She showed them how to clean up after their job. 

I had no idea that my little question could spark a mini- field trip for the kids. 

Next time you're out and your little ones have big things that they're wondering about I hope you'll take the time to help them get the answers they're looking for. "Experts" are all around us... We just need to ask. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Note to My Son's Teacher

Happy first day of school. It's such an exciting time of year... for the kids, the teachers and the parents.

I want you to know that my son has all of the required items from the list in his backpack... The pencils are sharpened, each item has his name on it (yes, each crayon, eraser and pencil crayon) and I put fancy laces in his shoes because he can't tie them himself yet. I went to three stores to get the right glue sticks. I got him to bed on time last night. 

He. Is. Ready. 

Or is he? 

You see, he has a lot of great skills.... But letters and printing and sitting quietly aren't on the list. I can't imagine him sitting through a spelling test. Maybe he will luck out and not get one this year. :) 

He is unique and quirky and will amaze you often. He loves to play and imagine and create. 

I ask that you please take the time to get to know him... To REALLY get to know him. Find something to connect with him. And I ask that you just love him. For who he is. Focus on his strengths rather than his weaknesses. I hope that you reserve a special place in your heart just for him. I hope he's "that kid" that you wonder about years later. 

Be good to my boy. He's precious beyond words. 

I know you understand, because you're a mom too. And you were probably up late worrying about your kids just like I was. 

And know that I understand. Because I'm a teacher too. And as much as I'm excited to meet my new students tomorrow.... My mind will be with my little boy.

I hope you're ready for him. 

Have a wonderful year. Thank you for taking him under your wing and teaching him to fly. 

- Sincerely, J's mommy

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Keep it Simple

2 more sleeps... I'm so essited!!!

I've been working in my classroom all weekend and am so pumped for the little ones to arrive.  I was looking around and it's pretty neutral and empty..... and that's INTENTIONAL.

I was thinking about what the parents will think when they come into the room.  I can hear their thoughts already. "It's so bare!" "Where's all the colour?" "Did she forget to decorate the bulletin boards?" "Turn the lights on."

But you know what?  All of that stuff is on purpose.

I used to get out my rolly cart of laminated teacher stuff and "DO" the bulletin boards.  Hmmm, what background colour?  What border will I use? What catchy phrase will I plaster on the hallway board with each child's name neatly written on a little icon.  Pinterest is full of ideas... they can help. I need to get my carpet seating plan arranged.

I'm not doing that this year.

I've changed.

And I'm excited about that.

Here's how it looks now:

Clean, crisp and ready to be filled with THEIR stuff.. not mine.

Last year I was talking to someone very wise and she said, "When you walk into a space you should know who lives there."  And I've never thought about that quite so much.  It's true.  I'm leaving the canvas blank and letting the kids take part in filling it up.  With things that reflect THEM and things that THEY have created... not me.  And THEY don't "live" there yet... so it's pretty bare.

The classrooms below are a few things... but ready to take on the personality of those that take up the space they are not!

Happy DECORating.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Lil' Workin' Man

This little guy is so lucky to have parents that will let him have experiences like this.

Maybe some of you are thinking, "it's too dangerous," "what if he screws through his arm?" or "He should have plastic tools."

But the truth is... He has been shown how to use these tools and he is given permission to be brave. He has adequate supervision and parents that trust him to know what to do.

It's magical to watch. He makes a hole in the pallet, puts the drill in reverse to remove the bit. Then he gets a screw and screwdriver and screws it into the wood. Repeat this process till bedtime and you've got one happy kid.

Moments like these make my heart do a happy dance. Not only is he strengthening his fine motor skills... He's asserting his independence. He's "working" and his work is REAL... Much more real than if he were using a plastic toy hammer. He's being creative and thoughtful. It's awesome.

Kudos to his parents.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Second Annual SPA DAY!!

What started as a random thought last year, has turned into an annual tradition.  I think that I will have a Spa Day EVERY YEAR... no matter what grade I'm teaching.  Even grade 12 kids would love a spa day (not that I have ANY aspirations of ever teaching grade 12, but you never know).  I encourage you to set up a similar experience for the short people in your life.

They L.O.V.E.D. it.  Even the macho boys that said they didn't want to come to school because "Spas are for girls" were right into it.  One of those boys even went on record saying, "I love Spa day, this is the best day ever!!"

Here are some photos.

See.... not just for girls. :)

Certain stations were really popular... so we needed an appointment book.

Even the dinosaurs were getting massages.  Yes, that's a BBQ brush, but it feels nice on your skin.

Yoga Station

We were blessed to have a real hairdresser come in... she came up with some very cool styles.

Mrs. C is getting the royal treatment.  
Mrs. MJ mixing up the (virgin) margaritas.  

Sunday, May 6, 2012

May The 4th Be With You!

I am not a Star Wars fan.  At all.  In fact, I have never even seen a single minute of a single movie (gasp... I know!).  But I am a fan of creating special Kindergarten memories.  And when the calendar say "May the 4th Be With You," you can bet we're going to celebrate.

The boys in the class were soooooooooooo excited.  The girls were too.. just not as much.  But when the day came, the girls were just as much into it as the boys were (or perhaps a little more).

So the downfall of this whole plan was that it didn't enter into my mind until May 1..... not leaving me a heck of a lot of time to plan.  Fear not... Pinterest to the rescue.  Add that to some borrowed toys from our dayhome, a talking Darth Vader mask from a friend, a creative volunteer mom and a basket of toys from one student... and we were GOOD.  TO.  GO!

We had 2 toy stations and 2 craft stations that the kids rotated through.  They all had a blast.  We mixed in a lot of time for light saber duels too.  I think that the learning assistants might recover eventually.  I honestly feel bad for all of the things I ask them to endure in the name of awesome.  But it's not about us... it's about the kids.  Right?  I'm already disappointed that May 4th is a Saturday next year (but I'm sure I'll work something out).

Here are more pictures.  Again, the really good ones have kids' faces, so I'm unable to post them.  :(

Friday, February 24, 2012

TOP TEN: Teacher's Convention

Top Ten Things I learned at Teacher's Convention this year:

10.  A session on iPad apps will always be bad if the wifi connection isn't working.  That poor presenter.... what do you do when your WHOLE session is web based?  :(

9.  I still don't know what a MOODLE is... but I probably should... so I didn't put my hand up and ask.

8.  The wraps in the cafeteria are just as awesome as they were in the olden days, you know, when I was in college.  They are more expensive now.... but worth every penny.  I also found out that Betty retired.  She made the best wraps.

7.  "The success of the education system can be measured by whether or not our kids move back into our basements after college."  Profound words from a wonderful session with Yong Zhao (

6.  It's not as hard to find a parking spot when you show up 20 minutes early.  Who knew?  I wish I would have known that when I was a student at MHC.

5.  "We are all born leaders.  But the ones that stand out are those who can be leaders day after day, even when nobody is watching."  Thank you Cassie Campbell for your brilliant keynote address.  And thank you for bringing back such strong memories and making my eyeballs sweaty with THIS Olympic montage.

4.  "The professional code of conduct applies 24/7... there is no "on your own time" when you chose teaching.  When you are a teacher you are a role model... of you don't want to be a role model.. don't be a teacher."  Great learning in the E-Liability session.

3.  It's always great when a huge group of teachers come together to learn and share.  It's nice to catch up with old classmates and colleagues... and to see the new faces as well.

2.  I will never get tired of looking at the art displays.  It's a great place to steal ideas be inspired to come up with new and better projects to highlight student abilities.  

And the number ONE thing I learned at Teacher's Convention is....

Recess and lunch are still my favourite subjects (much like my students).  It makes me sad to think that schools put so little emphasis on these lovely SOCIAL times for our kiddos.  

Thank you to all of the people that made the SEATCA 2012 Convention so awesome.  You're the BEST!