Saturday, September 7, 2013

Classroom Management - Lunch Orders

I am blessed to work in a private school that still offers a full hot lunch program.  Each morning, the students have to let me know what it is they will be doing for lunch.  Are they going home or staying at school for lunch?  Are they leaving after lunch or staying all day?  Did they bring a lunch box?  Do they need to order a hot lunch?  WHEW - are you confused yet?  Well, you can only imagine how difficult this can be at the beginning of the year for my sweet little kinders.

I love that my school offers parents a choice of half or full-day kindergarten.  Some of the little guys just aren't quite ready for a full day.  But, for our half-day students, we throw one more amazing twist in there...they can stay for recess and lunch at no additional charge {I teach at a private, tuition-based school}.  Do keep things straight, I developed this system:  Red Apples, Yellow Apples, Green Apples.  Let's explain...

Red apples - These are my half-day students that leave at the 12:00 dismissal.
Yellow apples - These are my half-day students that choose to stay for recess and lunch, but leave right after lunch.
Green apples - These are my full-day students that stay until the end of the regular school day.

In order to help the students with this, they each color a set of apples on the first day of school.  They are given three apples, and color one red, one yellow, and one green.  Before I give them the apples, I've added a text box and put their name on it.  I left them blank so that you can add names via the computer or by hand...whatever makes your heart sing!

After they are colored, I laminate them, cut them out, and add a small piece of magnet on the back.  Now here comes the fun part.

Each morning, students have their apples on the board.  I use only the colors that I feel they are the most...that way I don't have a million apples all over the board.  All extras are in the jar on the board.  When they come in, they put their apple on the correct choice.  Then, after it is time to start the day, I simply ask the students what they would like for lunch.  We have a main hot lunch choice that changes each day.  Or, there are three other choices that are the same every day.  The chart is just a simple pizza cooking sheet from the Dollar Store.  I glued some magnets on the back.

In the beginning, it takes just a few minutes.  But by the third week of school, we are pros.  So proud of them!

Now, if you teach in a school that ONLY offers full-day or half-day Kindergarten...COUNT YOURSELF LUCKY.  Ha!  You can just have them color an apple and call it a day.

Enjoy getting a little more organized with lunch!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Rainforest Rewards Classroom Behavior Management System

Okay, so let's talk about the little sweeties in our room.  They are adorable.  They are amazing.  Some of them love to do everything that the teachers asks them to do.  And well...some of them do not.  Such is life.  We are all human, after all.  I feel that the *KEY* to a great classroom behavior management system - other than consistency and love - is communication with the parents.  This can often be the most difficult to do because of the time that we have to devote to it.  I have been using this type of classroom management for several years, and I have not had one single complaint about it.  It is easy for me to do.  It is cute and kid-friendly.  It is easy for the parents to understand.  I could go on and on about the benefits of a system like this, but let's just jump right in.

I have made this system in several different themes.  This year, since my classroom is all fancied up in a Rainforest theme, I am using the "Rainforest Rewards."

As you can see from the above picture, it is super cute and very kid-friendly.  There is also a "tracking" sheet that I used to give the parents a daily report for their child's day.  It is very easy to do, and a great form of communication.  

{click on the picture to purchase and download the packet}

All of the details and instructions can be found in my packet.  It really is a great system.  I hope you enjoy it!  

Monday, September 2, 2013

Classroom Tour - the beginning stages

We are getting ready to start our third week of school, and I'm finally getting around to taking some pictures of my room.  It is still quite a work in progress, as some areas evolve throughout the year.  Here is a start:

We use the Popcorn Words set by Deanna Jump.  Last year was our first year to try it, and we loved it! Each time I introduce a new word, I write it on the corresponding popcorn kernel.  It is a great resource for the students to use when they need to be reminded how to spell a word.

This is our small group area for my differentiated groups - math and literacy.  The shelves will hold a lot of the supplies that I use during the groups.  The pocket chart on the wall labels one of my "areas," patterned after Kim Adsit's model here.  My four areas are labeled as "Forest Floor, Understory, Canopy, and Emergent" to coordinate with our Rainforest classroom theme.  The family groups are the "Alligators, Boas, Elephants, and Macaws."  

Shelves from Ikea will soon house journals and center supplies for them to use when they are done with their "have to" station.

This is my birthday wall/graph.  Each child has a balloon taped to a curly straw.  It is labeled with their name and birthdate, then put in the correct bag.  We will use this to see who has a special day coming up, as well as to graph birth dates during our calendar time.

Computer station, calendar station, another area, and a window treatment inspired by Pinterest

I love all of my Ikea shelves for supplies.  The cubbies on the bottom of the left shelving unit are used for each table's supplies.  Their crayon bags and coloring books go in the baskets.  Their MOOSE books stand up on the side.  I have a leader at each table that helps to get the supplies whenever they are needed.

Thanks for peeking into my room.  I will blog more when we change/adapt our room to better meet our needs.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Ball Chairs for the Classroom - Really???

Yep - you read that correctly!  I have Ball Chairs for my Kindergarten classroom, and I love it.  I first read about them on Jessica Stanford's blog here.  As I did more research, I was very intrigued.  I am so blessed to work in a school where the Administration is willing to "think outside the box" and try something just a tad bit different.  Ball Chairs definitely fit the bill there!

So, we order the balls and the covers.  The covers are a MUST HAVE!  They have a base on the bottom to help keep the balls from rolling around.  They also are made of durable thick rubber-type fabric, so it gives the students a little grip to sit on.

While I'm only two weeks in to the school year, I'm really glad that we were able to pilot these chairs.  Here are a couple of things that I have learned so far:

  • The students will LOVE the chairs.  
  • It is important to teach the children that they are CHAIRS, not balls or toys.
  • While they should not bounce on the chairs - they are chairs, not balls after all - it is a good idea to give them special "Bounce Moment" times.  They love the impromptu bouncing!
  • You will get lots of questions about the ball chairs.
  • Your students may think they are hot air balloons.
  • You will probably want some regular chairs set aside somewhere in your room for meeting with parents or those times that you need to hang something on the wall.  Don't ask how I figured that one out!
  • Even the students with shorter legs love the Ball Chairs.
If you would like to read more about other schools that have tried the Ball Chairs, there are articles here, here, and here.  I'm sure there are lots more out there, too.  But these were enough to get my Principal to approve the purchase.  Success!!