Monday, December 5, 2011

Make Your Mistakes Count

I say it often... "It you're going to make a mistake.... at least make it count."

Today we put that into action.

Let me tell you the story.....

In an effort to save money and create AWESOME experiences for the kids... I decided to use the City Bus as a way to get around town for a few of our field trips.  Now I know that it's not smart to take a city bus to the pumpkin patch out of town or to the opposite end of the city.  But you'd think that a trip downtown to the public library should be pretty simple.  I assured our parents that it would be fun and they'd learn a lot.  I got the transit route map... we phoned to tell them that we were coming... we confirmed our times and our routes... I typed out a detailed (to the minute) itinerary for us... we went to the stop early and froze our butts off.

The kids had a wonderful time at the Public Library... John the Storytelling guy is so incredibly perfect for that job.  He has a gift, there's no doubt.

We met a few interesting characters on the bus.  Who knew that you could fit an entire social studies curriculum into one city bus ride?  One guy had a plastic bag of empties to take back to the recycle depot... maybe he works there too... I'm not sure.  The bag was leaking mystery liquids onto the bus floor.  The guy was practicing his stand-up comedy routine on us.  And telling me how he hopes none of the kids are his... ha ha ha... I assured him that they were all accounted for.  :)  When he stood up, the smells from his bag wafted the area... yucky rotten beer smell.  My little buddy B got SUPER excited and yelled out, "I SMELL BACON!!" Hahahahahahaahahaahahaah...  I think I peed my pants laughing... although nobody noticed because of all of the other liquids on the floor.

In the morning it worked perfectly.  Exactly as planned.

We have 2 classes.  22 morning kids.  16 afternoon kids.

The afternoon... well,  that's another story:

We went to the bus stop early (as indicated by the itinerary).  We stood outside, kindergarten popsicles.  We waited.... and waited... and waited.  Finally I called the Transit line.  My call was important to them. And they were experiencing a high volume of calls.  I hung up after 6 minutes.  I don't think my call was all that important to them.  I saw another bus on the other side of the road.... and I gave him the "what the heck?" signal.  He stopped and told me I just missed the bus.  I tell him that isn't possible... we had been standing out there for twenty minutes.  He says, "NO! you have not." I assure him that we had been and had the cold noses to prove it.  He says, "I tell you, flat out, NO, it is not possible."  I had all sorts of things I wanted to tell that man.... but out of respect for my school and the lovely children entrusted to me... I refrained.

We got onto his bus.  Going in the wrong direction.  But to a terminal that would take us downtown.

Well... Mr. slowpoke rude pants didn't tell me it would take us a whole hour to get downtown.

What do you think happened next?

I bet you're just dying to know.... or you're just dying for the Reader's Digest version.  Either way, you're still here.

We got to the mall.  Instead of transferring to another bus... we decided to make a field trip at the mall.  I called the Library and told John we couldn't join him.  :(  I called the school secretary to tell her that we weren't where we said we would be (that was responsible of me).

We had exactly 8 minutes to get to Santa's Workshop before he left for his afternoon nap.  We HUSTLED to see Santa.  Santa was THRILLED to see us!! We got into the line right before another school group... phew!  Mrs. Clause sang carols with the kids that were waiting.  1 kid sat on Santa's lap and said, "I have to go peeeeee."

It was awesome.  We were rolling with the punches.  We were going with the flow.  We were making lemonade when life handed us lemons.

Then... yes... there's more.... THE POWER WENT OUT AT THE MALL!! SERIOUSLY?!?!?!  It's like the whole day was some kind of joke.

Santa kept seeing kids.  Mrs. Clause kept singing.  The skylights provided just enough light to get the pictures.  Somehow, Mrs. S found a flashlight to take the "I have to go peeeee kids" (there were 3 of them by now) to the bathroom in the dark.

Again, we were rolling with the punches.

When it was all over we left.  Surprise, surprise.. Mr. Polite bus driver was the one taking us back to school.  We met more interesting bus friends.  It all worked out.

The moral of the story:  Do more fundraising.  Book less trips.  Whatever you do... don't take the city bus with a group of kindergarteners on a time limit.

The end.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A New Spin on an Old Favourite

Quick share:

We've been playing an old game a new way in gym.  We call it "What letter is it Mr. Wolf?" (although I'm sure there is a more witty name out there).  The kids really like it.

Just like "what time is it Mr. Wolf?", the kids ask what letter and take one step for each letter.  It forces them to say and move to the alphabet in a rhythmic pattern.... not just following the beat of the ABC's song.  They are starting to realize that elemeno isn't one letter.... and they are learning where letters are placed in the alphabet by seeing how far they go once a certain letter is called and having to choose a letter that is appropriate for the distance (ie.. if they're close, you can't pick 't').  We haven't quite figured out what to say when it's "LUNCHTIME..." for now we say "ALPHABET SOUP!!"

We also change it up by doing crab walks, bear walks, bunny hops or crawling instead of taking giant steps.  Anything to get those little guys sweaty.  ;)

It's not up for game of the year or anything... just wanted to share it with you.

Happy Albhabetting.  :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rushy McRusherson

This morning I was driving to work and noticed a guy... a fence-building kind of guy.  He was walking along freshly placed fence posts (a project that started about a week ago).  He carefully took the time to wiggle each post... making sure it was secure.  Then he checked to make sure that each post was level.  Whatever happened next is unknown to me... I kept driving.  I guess I'll see the progress when I drive by again tomorrow.

I started thinking that if I was ever having a fence built, I would hope that the "builder guy" (as Jake calls them) would have that same attention to detail.  I would be upset if they just rushed through the job and my fence blew over in 3 years.

Then, it struck me.... the "AH HA MOMENT!"

In the workforce we want employees that ensure a job is done PROPERLY.  That people are paying attention to those little details.  That things are not rushed through just to get it done quickly.

But in our classrooms, well, mine anyway.... we tend to rush through everything.  GO... pray, GO.... snack, HURRY.... late for Music, QUICK... to the bathroom, No time for a story at the end of the day.... etc, etc, etc.  We even have a fast version of our goodbye song (for when the parents are already there and we aren't quite done).

YIKES!!! How am I training these little TIKES?

What kind of workers will they be?

Will they be rushing the day away task by task, feeling like they haven't really done a decent job of anything.

Is life a series of checkmarks on a to-do list?

For me, it seems to be (lately anyway).  And it's the kids that are missing out.

WERE missing out.

I'm going to change my outlook.  I'm going to focus on slowing down and REALLY experiencing things.  We'll take our time getting to music (the kids can't tell time anyway.... they don't know we're late).  I'll let them glue on that last piece of ribbon, even if I already called for clean-up time.  

If we don't get to everything.... I'm going to be OK with it.  If an idea exists... and it doesn't happen... the kids won't know.  They won't care either.  And at the end of the day I'd rather them have one hundred QUALITY experiences than 62 Bajillion rushed experiences.

Enjoy taking time with the short people in your life.  They deserve it.... so do you.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Plan C

"Plan C" will forever be known as "Plan Carolyn."

This lady is amazing.... and, well, that is a gross understatement.  Carolyn is "the speech lady," but as anyone who knows her knows, she is sooooooo much more.  Carolyn brings excitement and learning to EVERYTHING.  

Let me tell you about how she saved the pumpkin patch day..............

Our initial Pumpkin Patch farm visit had to be cancelled because of a school scheduling conflict.  We begged a local pumpkin farmer (can't name the farm because I'm sure they wouldn't appreciate every Kindergarten teacher in the city calling them for tours and free pumpkins).  The date was set... I couldn't go (meetings)... so "Mrs. F" (the sub) was up for the challenge. 

Everything was set up.  Nametags out.  Bus booked.  Reminder bracelets sent home.  Gardening scissors ready.  Camera battery charged.

And then... it rained.... and rained... and rained.  

I sent the Plan B plans and moved on.... knowing that this just wasn't our year for pumpkins.  :(

And then, CAROLYN GOT AN IDEA (I love when that happens).


Send 2 moms out to pick up the pumpkins from the farm.
Move the tables out of the middle of the room.
Lay down a giant tarp.
Skipping ropes for vines.
Everyone cut out a paper leaf to attach to the vine.
Read "It's Pumpkin Time."
Kids take a pumpkin and attach it to their leaf.
Smile for a picture.
Read another pumpkin story.
Everyone takes their pumpkin home.


Thanks Mrs. Carolyn.  I am so blessed to have you on our team.  

Thankful is an understatement.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Look at these leaves... same plant, same vine, same climate, same hours of sunlight per day, same amount of precipitation...... but VERY different otherwise.

I've been admiring the changing leaves a lot this fall.  But over and over again, I find myself pondering why certain leaves and trees change sooner than others.  I'm sure that a Horticulturalist could explain the process to me using fancy terms like photosynthesis and chlorophyll.... but I prefer to use this 'phenomenon' as an analogy (I kind of have a thing for analogies... maybe you've noticed).

The group of trees represent different cities.  Each Tree represents one school.  Each branch represents a classroom in that school.  Each leaf is a student in that classroom.

By now you're either thinking that I'm nuts or you're intrigued.  Either way, you're still reading... that's positive  ;)

It's amazing how closely nature represents humans in this scenario.

2 leaves.
Side by side.
Both getting EXACTLY the same thing.
Both facing the same "elements."
But both reacting TOTALLY differently to their environment.

Same goes for students in a classroom, classrooms in a school, and schools in a city.

It is POSSIBLE to give each student EXACTLY the same programming (not smart... just possible).  But even when doing so, each child will respond differently to the teaching style, the physical environment and the social situation.

So, instead, I challenge you to treat every leaf on your trees as beautiful and unique.  Give each one of them exactly what they NEED... not exactly what everyone else is getting.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

One Down.... 178ish to Go!

Well.... the moment we've all been waiting for... THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!

Last week was "Staggered Entry" where the kids came in small groups for 30 minutes each.

But today was the REAL DEAL!


I'd be lying if I said it was smooth sailing.  Or if I said I wasn't stressed.  Or if I said everything went as planned.

But according to the short people... all of them would agree that it was awesome.

I just LOVE the looks on their faces on the first day of school.  It's comparable to the faces you'd see at Mickey's House in Disneyland.  They are fascinated.  Everything is so magical.  They don't notice that the teacher feels frazzled.  They don't notice that their moms are leaving with tears in their eyes.  Those things don't matter when you've just found a little chair at a little table with YOUR NAME ON IT!

My reality: I only have 3 hours a day with these little ones... I need to make the most of it.  Which, to clarify, DOES NOT mean that we are doing flash cards and worksheets all day. Actually, it's the opposite.  I want to create QUALITY experiences that will teach much more than any worksheet ever could.  It became obvious IMMEDIATELY that we have some issues with scissoring and hand dominance... and maybe a few "my way or the highway" attitudes.  ;)   The typical things... and more will pop up as we go.  But overall it was fun... It was great... and we dove right in.

I'm looking forward to the rest of the school year.

Let the games begin!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Inclusion... beyond the classroom

I've been thinking about the topic of "INCLUSION" a lot lately... and I just wanted to get some of my thoughts out there. 

As a teacher, Inclusion means that everyone belongs and everyone will have their needs met while they are in my care.

As a parent, Inclusion means that my children are all different and I need to treat them as such.  

As a Christian, Inclusion means that I need to see people as Jesus sees them... PERFECT in every aspect.

As a member of society, Inclusion means that we must respect the human RIGHTS of others and enable EVERYONE to be a part of the world we share.

What does "INCLUSION" mean to you?

So many people think of this buzz word "inclusion," as a school thing.  But, stop to think about it... no, REALLY THINK about it... INCLUSION is actually a HUMAN thing. 

Wheel chair accessible parks and trails, Handicapped parking stalls, Welfare programs, our Canadian medicare system, drug rehabilitation centres, various occupations requiring various levels of education, TTY phone systems, Gluten free menus, etc, etc, etc, etc... the list goes on and on.  Little accommodations to make the world (or our country anyway) accessible to all.

Just as ALL people have a right to exist and have their needs met in society, so too do ALL children have a right to an education.  It might not look the same as the student sitting in the desk next to them... but FAIR does not mean that everyone gets the SAME treatment.  FAIR means that everyone gets what they NEED. 

I leave you with this wonderful poem.  If you have ever loved anyone with a disability, hidden or not, you will be touched by these words:

The Misunderstood Child
A poem about children with hidden disabilities
by Kathy Winters
I am the child that looks healthy and fine.
I was born with ten fingers and toes.
But something is different, somewhere in my mind,
And what it is, nobody knows.
I am the child that struggles in school,
Though they say that I'm perfectly smart.
They tell me I'm lazy -- can learn if I try --
But I don't seem to know where to start.
I am the child that won't wear the clothes
Which hurt me or bother my feet.
I dread sudden noises, can't handle most smells,
And tastes -- there are few foods I'll eat.
I am the child that can't catch the ball
And runs with an awkward gait.
I am the one chosen last on the team
And I cringe as I stand there and wait.
I am the child with whom no one will play --
The one that gets bullied and teased.
I try to fit in and I want to be liked,
But nothing I do seems to please.
I am the child that tantrums and freaks
Over things that seem petty and trite.
You'll never know how I panic inside,
When I'm lost in my anger and fright.
I am the child that fidgets and squirms
Though I'm told to sit still and be good.
Do you think that I choose to be out of control?
Don't you know that I would if I could?
I am the child with the broken heart
Though I act like I don't really care.
Perhaps there's a reason God made me this way --
Some message he sent me to share.
For I am the child that needs to be loved
And accepted and valued too.
I am the child that is misunderstood.
I am different - but look just like you.

[Kathy Winters is a part-time writer and full-time mother of three. She has a 14-year-old son with Asperger Syndrome and an 11-year-old son with ADHD/Tourettes Syndrome. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Custodian..... My HERO!

90% of School Staff don't know the custodian's name (I made that statistic up just now).... but seriously, does anyone have ANY idea how hard these people work??

The custodian at my school is "Irena," "Mrs. G." and "MY HERO!"

NOBODY on our staff works as hard as she does.... NOBODY.  While the school sits empty over the summer, while many of us are on holidays, sipping margaritas, hanging out at the lake, getting a tan..... and NOT working....... Irena is busting her butt (literally) to get the school in tip-top shape for the fall.

She is at the school at 6:30 every morning.

She carries a sweat towel... she needs it.

She moves the furniture in EVERY room... from one side of the room to the other... cleans, strips, waxes, shampoos.... and then moves EVERY piece of furniture to the other side of the room.... cleans, strips, waxes, shampoos... and then puts everything back into place as if she was never there.... she also dusts everything and washes the handprints from the previous year off of EVERYTHING!

She does the same thing in the hallways...

She also does the same thing in the gym.

Gyms are not small..... not sure if you have noticed.

Today she did the gym floors while the Air Conditioning was off in the school.  It was 31 degrees outside... and about 400 degrees inside (slight exaggeration).

WOW... I'm sweaty just thinking about that.

The bottom line:  The people that get the least recognition, the least respect and the least appreciation... deserve it the most.

Tomorrow... I'm going to take Irena a slurpee... and a timbit (well, maybe I'll think of a treat that is less geared to my three-year-old) and give her a big hug and the most sincere thank you she has ever received.  She deserves it. Speaking of things she deserves... how about an assistant?  I'll put in a good word for her.  ;)


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

An Apology to the Earth

Dear Mother Earth, 

You have been so good to me.

I have been so bad to you.

I'm sorry.

Love Melanie

Although I'm skeptical about this whole recycling thing (not that it's a good idea... but that it will make enough of an impact despite our selfishness), I know one thing FOR SURE... I have been a crappy earth daughter.  

This was me today......

I have been cleaning out my teaching resources.... and I am embarrassed to say that I took 2 rubbermaid bins FULL of paper to the recycle depot tonight.  There was more yesterday and more to come tomorrow. 

I have also taken 5 bins of donation items to the Post (the second hand store that I prefer to support).  I think that half of the books, toys, games, puppets, etc came from there in the first place.  Why did I ever think that I needed so much stuff?  Maybe I just have an addiction to Rubbermaid tubs... and I needed things to fill them with.  ;)

I know one thing for sure, that once I stop buying rubbermaid tubs, "Rubbermaid" will have to lay off AT LEAST one employee.  ;)  

Side Note about Rubbermaid:  A friend once had water in her basement and anything that was NOT in a Rubbermaid Brand bucket was ruined.  Another friend said the same thing about her things after a house fire.... everything that was in Rubbermaid brand buckets was safe from the smoke damage.  So, invest the extra money and store without worry.

My hands are dirty (well, not anymore), my feet are sore and my guilt-o-meter is going off.  I know what you're thinking.... "blah, blah, blah, get to the point"

THE POINT:  Teachers are OFTEN (I'm tempted to say always or usually) "collectors" of things... or, not-so-nicely-put: hoarders.  And not only does this cause problems in our classrooms and storage rooms, but it also poses a HUGE problem for the Environment.  We all think that we're doing the planet a favour by recycling.  But so many of us seem to forget the FIRST "R".... REDUCE.  If I had been less of a collector, I would not have all of that extra "stuff" that I am now getting rid of.  It's so wasteful.  And I'm disgusted with it.  


Let's be nicer to our planet... it's the only one we've got. ;)

* Disclaimer:  ALL of the images in today's post are "borrowed" from Google Images.... just incase the copyright police are lurking.  ;)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Separation Anxiety??

Quick thought...

I know, you're thinking, "she's not capable of a QUICK thought."  BUT I AM!!!

I've always known that teachers get super attached to the shorties they hang with (the students... in case I lost you).... but this year, I got to be on the OTHER END of the attachment disorder (not that I actually consider it a disorder).  When moms used to walk away from the last day of school with tears in their eyes, I must admit that I usually had a thought of; "oh come on, give me a break, don't cry just because you have no idea how you're going to entertain them all summer."  ;)

But THIS TIME... I was the mom... I was walking away... so thankful for all of the wonderful experiences that my jakey had at "peesooah" this year.... and realizing that I have become really attached to the teachers there.

So now I "get" why moms cry.

It's normal.... I'm normal.... right?

Jakester and "his" Marcia... :)
Last day of Preschool

Monday, June 20, 2011

929 Is a Lot of Anything!

So, today I did something UNTHINKABLE... we went on a field trip... and I didn't. take. any. pictures.  Crazy, I know.  Well, actually I took ONE... of a grandma and her sweetie with HER iPhone... but that doesn't count.  I was itching, but fought the urge.

Today marks the exact 3 month anniversary of my preschool job.  In that time I have taken 929 pictures!!!! Well, I have taken many more than that.... 929 is the number that is left after I deleted the junk photos.  And this weekend I was busy finalizing and burning the (18 minute) memory DVD that I am giving to the staff and students as a parting gift AND the giant envelope of pictures that I printed off for them.  So, as of today, I declared that I was not taking another picture.  GASP..... the staff in the room doesn't think I can do it.  I'll show them!!

So... more about the "field trip."  We went on a CITY BUS RIDE.  That's it... no destination, no time frame, no clue where the bus was even going.  We walked outside, saw a bus, RAN for the stop, got on and rode.  Once we got to the big bus terminal (which was the highlight) we asked which bus would take us back and we boarded that one.  WOW... WHAT A RUSH!!  The looks on the kids' faces said it all.  They were in AWE.  The pully string to let the driver know you want to stop, the bumps at the back of the bus, "whoa, look, a tire shop," "hey, dat my dad work," and "WOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWWW look at dat big riber (river)"... it was a creek.  And, of course, we saw "DONALD'S" (McDonald's).

It seemed silly to have no destination.. .but the kids loved it.


It's killing me to post this without a picture.

But I shall resist the urge.

Killliiiinnnngggg mmeeeeeeeeeee.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Burn The Worksheets

Lately I have been seeing a lot of "Preschool Workbooks" in the stores.  It makes my skin crawl.  Sometimes I even say swear words... I know, hard to believe that I would say a bad word... lol.  I know that many parents think that they need to get their kids "ready" for school.  WHICH ISN'T TRUE!!  But even if it was... THESE BOOKS JUST AREN'T GOING TO DO IT!!!!!!!!!!  

There are many things that you can do to get your child "ready for school."  Start with these ideas:

  • Spend time together... radical idea, I know.
  • Play with Play-Doh
  • Give them opportunities to play with other kids... preferably annoying, whiney ones... those ones will teach them the most about patience, forgiveness and graciousness.  
  • Give them "school" supplies and let them go to town with them.  Creative exploration will take them further in life than all of the letter recognition in the world. 
  • TALK to your child.... another crazy idea.
  • LISTEN to them too... now THIS is getting out of hand
  • READ, READ, READ... and then read some more!!!
  • Ok... this one is going to ruffle some feathers... PUT YOUR CELL PHONE AWAY (and other distractions) for most of the time.  So often I see parents (I am guilty of this too) that could be interacting with their kids, but instead they are being a text-a-saurus while their kids are being "shushed."  Put the electronics away, turn the TV off and TUNE IN TO YOUR CHILD.  Even if it's only 30 minutes per day... they deserve it.
  • Let them spend time AWAY from you... it's healthy for both of you... and gives them a new perspective.
  • Playgrounds, rocks, back alleys... OUTDOOR ADVENTURES.  Slather on the sunscreen, squirt on some bug spray and head outside.
  • STOP doing "Kill and Drill" activities (like worksheets, flash cards and "learning" digital games)... even if it were important for your child to know their letters, sounds, numbers, opposites, shapes, etc, etc, etc before Kindergarten... WHICH IT IS NOT.... there is a better way to teach these concepts.  Let learning be fun!  And I don't care how many stickers and colorful pictures you put into those workbooks... they will NEVER be FUN!

OK... rant over.  Try setting up some activities like those shown below for you and your child to explore together.  The learning is disguised as FUN... PLAY IS LEARNING... PLAY IS FUN!!

Enjoy your kids.  Enjoy learning.  If it feels like "work," just stop it.  Kids weren't meant to "work," they were meant to PLAY!!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Returning to my ROOTS

YIPPIE and YAHOOOOOOOO... I am heading back to Kindergarten.  I am so excited.

Just last week I was given the green light... and I have had my Kindergarten Thinking Cap on since.  I have been stopping by the spare garage to look at the boxes and boxes of resources that are waiting to come out of hibernation.  I had a chat with my puppets... "Hey guys, guess what?  You're off of Pogey!!! You're GOING BACK!!!"  I swear I could see the excitement in their eyes.  ;)  What?  I know what you're thinking... "what a nut... she talks to puppets."  But nobody makes fun of people that talk to their plants.... so I'd say that talking to a puppet is totally acceptable.... after all, they have mouths.  :)

This is "Stylin' Stewie."  He's been my colleague and friend since University.  He is most excited to get back in the game.

Bailey Bear is really excited too.  Poor Luke thinks that Bailey is HIS bear.  I guess he'll figure it out.   This is a picture of Bailey before his first day of Kindergarten....  we have BOTH changed a lot since this picture... yikes!

I think that Teaching Kindergarten is just like riding a bike... you never forget how... and when you start back up, you remember why you loved it so much in the first place.  :)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Seriously... can you believe that they PAY us to play?  Best. Gig. Ever.

The last couple of days have been rainy... and the next few are SUPER busy... so we took advantage of the slump and had a little sensory party.

It all started with a Mentos and Diet Coke EXPLOSION.  We have done this before.... but this time we used "Steve Spangler's Geyser Tube."  The package doesn't lie when it promises a 25 foot spray into the air.  Check out the video.  I bought the "geyser tube" at Michael's... with my coupon it was less than $6.  And I paid less than $2 for the bottle of diet coke.  And that my friends, is the most fun you can have for under $8.... guaranteed!!!

Here are the Nylon Splats... watch THIS VIDEO for a "how to" video from The OOEY GOOEY LADY.

And some Salad Spinner Art... easy peasy..... always different... always SOOO FUN to make.  I "borrowed" this idea from a blog... that I can't find now.  So I shall say "source unknown" to avoid any law suits.

On the muddiest day yet, we read "Mrs. Wishy-Washy" and made a class book that went with the story.. using REAL mud... from the REAL outdoors.  I know... it's crazy... but so are we.  Thank you to Mrs. Carolyn for coming up with this awesome idea.  Who knew mud could be so "educational."

Last, but not least.... the CLEAN MUD... another idea from Lisa Murphy, the "Ooey Gooey Lady."

This is SUPER EASY to make.  It's just bars of Ivory soap (put through a cheese grater), toilet paper and warm water.... awesome... and CLEAN!