Monday, September 26, 2016

Class Meetings in Kindergarten

Let me start by saying that I love class meetings.  In my opinion, they are absolutely essential in any classroom environment.  Kids NEED a place to share, talk about problems, and CELEBRATE their excellent work and behavior.  

So, what is a class meeting?  Every morning we gather together in a circle.  

Some years I've done this toward the end of the day, but this year it works best to start the day off with a class meeting.  We start by singing Make New Friends, and we are learning this in sign language as well.  I usually have the kids begin sharing some compliments.  We learn what a compliment is and how to express thanks to someone for their work or behavior.  Right now, many kids are saying things like, "I'd like to compliment Joe for taking care of me when I fell down.  He came running over and asked me if I was ok and then walked me to the recess teacher."  Some kids are simply not comfortable sharing something like this in front of the group, so I never require everyone to share.  At this time, it's completely optional.  If we have a group with soft voices, we use a microphone so everyone can hear.  

Talking Bear (pictured below) helps us to know when it's our turn to speak and when it's our turn to listen.  We pass him around and the person who is holding him should be the only person speaking.

We have 3 rules at Cascade View.
1. Take care of yourself.
2.  Take care of others.
3.  Take care of our school and community.

We use visuals to help us remember these rules and we PRACTICE them in some way during our class meetings.  Puppets are a favorite way for us to practice, but we also do lots of role play and even have some short videos to help us remember.  (For other teachers who may read this blog, I purchased some great posters and small cards from TPT that we use during class meetings.)

In addition, class meetings are a place to discuss problems.  We work on presenting problems without talking about other kids by name.  For example, we practice saying, "SOMEONE took my spot at Center Time and then I didn't have anywhere to work."  Then, kids will help that person come up with ways they could have solved the problem.  

I could go on about class meetings forever!  They are such a powerful tool for kids in the classroom.  Even in a class as young as kindergarten!

Happy learning!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dot Day

It was Dot Day in Kindergarten today!

If you aren't familiar with books by Peter J. Reynolds, please be sure to check them out at the library.  I'm a huge fan of his work and the mission he has to help children. Here is a great video with Peter that we watched in class, which also helped inspire our Dot Day work.  Here is the You Tube video of the book. 

And now, onto our Dot Day work...

This was our first experience with tempera paints in the classroom.

Peter Reynolds talks about mixing his colors, so we practiced mixing our colors as well.

For many kids, this might be a first experience with BIG messy projects like this.  The kids did a GREAT job!

I loved the different interpretations of what great "dot art" might be and we really focused on the way Peter Reynolds encouraged us and showed us that even a little dot can make beautiful art work.  All we have to do is give it a try!

The kids loved experimenting with paints and this was a great opportunity for me to introduce this art material in the class.  It also set the foundation that we all have unique types of art and one piece isn't better than another.

Here is the Dot Day song, if you are interested.  The official Dot Day is on September 15th, but Peter Reynolds says it's on September 15th-ish.  You'll just have to read his book called Ish to find out all about that idea!

Happy reading and painting!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Math Exploration

With week number 1 under our belts, the kids and I are feeling good about our accomplishments so far!  We spent the week exploring some of our different math materials and figuring out how some of the pieces fit together.  It's important for us to start slowly and make sure we understand the expectations with our materials.
There was a lot of creating and there was also counting.

Kids figured out how to build with materials they may not have used before.

There was sorting, counting, and even a bit of dramatic play.

We made lots of different creations and learned that Mrs. Ross prefers that we not build weapons with link cubes.

Our Bridges math lessons will begin on Monday, but we will continue to provide these math materials in our Math Work Places. After our whole class lesson, kids will go to self-selected Work Places to build and create.  As the year progresses, we will have specific tasks that kids will be doing at the Work Places.  

Happy learning!

Play Based Centers

Our play-based centers were a HUGE hit with the kindergarten students this week!  The goal of these centers is to provide kids the opportunity to self-select projects to work on, based on their own interest.  As you can imagine, getting 22 five year olds to work on projects together for a sustained period of time is a remarkable challenge.  We begin this work by introducing areas of play which are familiar to kids.  These are things they may already be familiar with and probably know how to work with appropriately.  Adding friends to the mix, learning to share materials, and learning to interact with one another is our next step.  This week, our focus was just on learning to love and take care of ourselves, our classroom, and our community.

We opened up the bean/sensory table and added scoops for measuring.

The Lego table was open for building and lots of imaginative play.

The ponies are an absolute favorite!  I've loved watching the kids have their ponies take on the roll of certain characters.

The kids love the barn too. I picked this up for my daughter at a garage sale, many years ago.  She loved telling stories with her horses too and I would take pictures of each scene for her to make a book out of later.

The Home Center can be messy at times, but it has already been turned into a kitchen inside of a home, a restaurant, and a coffee shop.

Dora's dollhouse is another one of those activities that builds the language kids need for story telling.  I often hear kids saying things like, "Maybe we should have Dora be walking to her grandma's house and then Swiper can come up and find her."  Just like that, they are identifying characters and coming up with a problem for the story.

The cars and our rug mat have become a place of counting and dividing.  The kids love to line up all of the cars and then make sure everyone has an even number.  

Playdough has to be my personal favorite center.  I make playdough for each new month and put different toys out for kids to explore.  Playdough is great for developing fine motor skills, as it builds the muscles in our hands and fingers.

As I mentioned, the play-based centers will become more play/project based as the year goes on.  Right now, I want these kids to LOVE coming to school each day.  I want them to learn to take care of themselves, take care of each other, and take care of our classroom.  They are wonderful children with beautiful hearts and this is an amazing time for them!

Happy playing!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

About Mrs. Ross

Hello everyone!  Welcome to Kindergarten at Cascade View.  I don't know about you, but I really want to know about the people who teach my kids.  I want to know where they live, about their families, and what they enjoy doing when they are not working.  I wanted to share a bit about myself in this post.  Most of the time, you will see post about what is going on in the classroom.  Today, I'm just letting you "meet" me.  It's a long post, so I won't have my feelings hurt if you just skim or skip it altogether! 

Happy reading...
Hello Friends!  I'm Becca.  I'm a wife,  mom, and kindergarten teacher.  I'm passionate about all things home and family.  I love being home with my kids, hubby, and pets.  
I married my high school sweetheart.  (Awwww.)  We live in Snohomish, just up the hill from Cascade View.

We love our pets.  I'd have more, if I could convince my better half that it was a good idea. I think I'd get chickens. Cookie is our Holland Lop.  She's our most recent addition.  She's a snuggler, loves to run around the house, and makes me laugh when she kicks up her heels and does a 360. She's pretty cute too, but I guess there's no such thing as an ugly bunny.
Ah, Cooper.  This is Cooper as a puppy.  He was going to be our small dog.  Our yellow lab, Riley, died when he was 11.  Riley was my husband's first pet EVER.  As much as he loved Riley, when it was time to find a new dog, he asked if we could find a smaller breed.  We decided on a Laboradoodle.  The breeder estimated that Cooper would be about 50 pounds when he was full grown.  Well, Cooper weighed 50 pounds at about 4 months old and then went straight to 100! I swear, he's the size of a small horse.  So much for getting a small dog!  He's a sweetheart and he's full of personality.
Our kids are our whole lives, as I'm sure is the case with most parents. My oldest is all about sports, which thrills my hubby to no end.  He is the sweetest boy you will ever meet.  He's caring and considerate, which I love!  He is a sophomore at Glacier Peak this year and growing up way too fast!
This little monkey is full of spunk.  She has been that way since the day she was born.  She spent her first 2 weeks of her life, at Children's Hospital, fighting for every breath.  She suffered from seizures and we were told that she had probably had a stroke.  The hospital staff prepared us to "care for her" since they expected she would be developmentally delayed from the lack of oxygen and her stroke.  Day by day, year by year, we realized that all of that "worst case scenario stuff" was a scenario we would not know as our reality.  We're glad she's a fighter and wouldn't change her spunk or personality for anything.  She's a perfectly healthy (except for the cyst in her brain), normally developing, little girl.  She loves gymnastics and soccer, loves listening to stories, and is absolutely giddy with delight when she sees a wedding scene on a movie.  She is a 6th grader at Totem Falls this year.
I learned a love of gardening from my mom.  She always had a vegetable garden, tons of raspberries, and apple trees in our yard. I have good memories of weeding and working in the yard together, picking veggies from the garden, the smell of freshly canned fruit when I came home from school, and blowing bugs off the berries as I picked them.  My mom would always end up with a huge pan of berries, at the end of berry picking, and I would only have a handful.  I preferred to eat as I picked, and still do.
My home and garden are my happy places.  I love sitting on the deck, on a warm summer day, watching my kids and their friends play in the yard.  First and foremost, my yard is kid and dog friendly.  If I end up with a few flowers at the end of a football game, I consider it a bonus.  My kids and I garden together.  My hubby loves to be in the yard with us on the weekends.  My son has always been a really strong kid.  He lifts heavy bags of dirt and hauls them all over the yard.  He spreads wood chips in the spring, and loves watching landscaping shows with me.  He loves to be outside and will happily help on just about any project.
My daughter loves to wander the yard, but she's in it for the pretty stuff and doesn't like to work.  One of my passions is creating meaningful experiences for my kids.  We always have a project in the works.  My daughter loved collecting flowers from the yard, this summer, and creating art projects from the flower petals.
It came as no surprise to my family, when I went off to college, that I majored in Family and Consumer Science (formerly known as Home Ec.), and earned my teaching certificate.  I have endorsements in Family and Consumer Science, Early Childhood, Reading, and K-8 Education. Family and Consumer Science is a true passion of mine.  I love to cook, bake, sew, and basically do anything that seems to be a "traditional" female role.
FCS isn't just about cooking, baking, and being a homemaker. Family and Consumer Science provides individuals and families with knowledge that helps people make informed decisions about their well being, relationships, and resources to achieve a high quality of life. The field represents many areas, including human development, family finance, housing and interior design, food science, nutrition, wellness, textiles, apparel, family relations and dynamics, and consumer issues.  I'm a member of the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS), as well as a member of the Washington chapter (WAFCS).
Family and Consumer Science is all about improving the quality of your life.  In my opinion, we can improve the quality of our lives through home arts.  Creating a healthy, happy, and comfortable home gives us a soft place to land at the end of the day.  I want my kids to have good memories of their time at home.  I want them to remember the smell of warm cookies coming out of the oven, the taste of homemade bread with butter and jam, and remember all of the projects and experiences we had as a family.

As much as I love my home life, I have a passion for EDUCATION! I teach little people to love learning and especially love literacy.  I absolutely love children's books, and teaching reading and writing, using children's literature. I earned my Master's degree in reading and literacy, in 2000.  It was a game changer for me.  I had always been very interested in math and science, as a teacher.  I didn't feel as well equipped to teach reading and writing.  I didn't like to read as a child and I was FAR from being a writer, as an adult.  I was trying to teach my kids to become life long readers and writers, but hated doing those things myself.  After spending two years, doing intense research and writing papers on reading and writing, I had a much better understanding of the way young children learned.  I had a clear picture of where I wanted to go with my teaching. I became very interested in Guided Reading, teaching with a balanced reading model, and especially Writer's Workshop.

In 2004, just after my daughter was born, my school district started our Collaborative Literacy Project. It started as a group of teachers, dedicated to literacy, involved in extensive training, who would become literacy leaders in our school district.  I was thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved in the program.  I've been able to observe amazing teachers, discuss best practices, receive training and resources, and eventually become a demonstration classroom, hosting teachers from within my school district as well as neighboring school districts.  I don't claim to be an expert in literacy, but it's truly a passion of mine, and I'm thrilled to share my beliefs about literacy with others.
I have thousands of books in my collection and can't seem to stop adding to it. I'm always finding new mentor texts to use with my young readers and writers.  I love to teach units of study, where we can dive into a specific author or genre.  I'm always shocked at the amazing conversations we have, even in kindergarten, around the books we are using in our units of study.  Kids can be such brilliant thinkers!
We all have our passions in life.  My passions are home, family, family and consumer science, early childhood, and literacy.  My blogs try to encompass all of these areas.  The mission of the AAFCS is to help people improve the quality of their lives.  My blogs are about helping people make literacy and qualilty home life priorities, thus improving the quality of life.  Isn't that what it's all about?  At the end of the day, it's all about home and family.
Thanks for joining me on this journey.  I write from my heart and hopefully you'll find a few pretty pictures too.

You can also find me at:
or (my early childhood literacy blog)