Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fire Dog Hats

Welcome to kindergarten, 2013! This is my first actual blog post of the school year, although I hope to go back and post-date blog about some of the things I've taken pictures about this year. The blogging isn't going quite like I expected because I have been dealing since May with sever tendinitis in both wrists, and it is difficult and painful to type. So, while I have composed lots of posts in my head this summer and fall, none of them have made it into electronic form! At least none until now...

October is Fire Safety month and our "Bomberos" unit is in full swing! We have been talking about what fire fighters wear and use, and what they do. Our fire department shares different goals for different grade levels regarding fire safety (I think this is a national program? Not sure), and for kinder the biggest thing is for kids to learn that fire fighters are safe and not scary. Every year children die in house fires because they hide from the "monsters" that try to come and get them in a fire. With their respirators on, fire fighters really do look scary! We have been learning about the special clothes and equipment they wear, and why they need them in Spanish and English.

I've used several resources throughout this unit which I will share below. One of my favorite new finds this year is a Sesame Street video on YouTube. It's a little less than 12 minutes long, and it is so clear and well-done that even my students with very little English were able to understand. Elmo and Maria are at Hooper's store when there is a fire, and they have to get out and call 911. Elmo gets scared of the fire fighters in the masks, so they show him all about their clothes, and invite him to the fire station. At the end of the video, he isn't scared anymore and eats dinner with them. My kids loved it and it hit all the right points!

Dot, el perro bombero
Dot, el perro bombero by Lisa Desimini

My sister, Miss Coco, is a volunteer firefighter and brought us her turnout gear to look at and play with. We used it as realia for our ELD lesson, and for the rest of the week the kids will get to play with it during free choice time. They were surprised by how heavy the clothes are, and super excited to get to touch them!

Another of our favorite stories is Dot, el perro bombero. Available in English and in Spanish, this sweet book again shows clear pictures of all the firefighters' clothes, and tells the story of a fire department Dalmatian who goes with her unit to a fire and saves a cat from a burning house. The kids love it! Then we made Fire Dog Hats. LOVE this project! Over the last several days, each student has had the chance (in a small group with my assistant at the back table) to paint a piece of white 9x12 construction paper and one white sentence strip with black bingo dotters (that we found at the Dollar Tree). Then today they each cut out a red hat and a yellow K-9 badge. Next, our 5th grade buddies came down and helped us trace their shoes on the big white paper (we folded it in half and just cut once to go faster). Finally, the buddies glued it all together and sized and stapled the sentence strips. Aren't they the cutest little fire dogs ever? =)

Lastly, I've created some fire-safety-related patterned texts at a variety of early reading levels. You can find them for sale in English and Spanish on TeachersPayTeachers!

Fire Safety Resources:
  1. Readers by Mrs. Doring
  2. Reader by Hubbard's Cupboard (in English, Spanish, French, and German!)
  3. Mailbox Magazine link to fire dog hat patterns
  4. Books on Amazon
Clifford, el perro bombero by Norman Bridwell
Dot, el perro bomberoby Lisa Desimini

Monday, August 19, 2013

~TpT BTS13~

In 29 minutes I will have finished my first ever sale on TeachersPayTeachers. Back to School 2013! Woo hoo! Not that I did much (any) work for it, but I did sell one product today. =) And I reached an exciting personal milestone: I have earned enough money from TpT and had it in my PayPal account to pay for Gingerbread Man centers I really wanted to buy for this fall! I still haven't earned enough to buy even a good lunch, but who needs to eat when you have cute centers?

If you missed out on the sale (and you read this), check out my still-low-priced (I think?) alphabet charts and number lines in English, Spanish, and both! More products to come this fall!

TpT Sale Back to School | search for: Mrs Doring

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Blogging from Paradise

My laptop's view of the ocean on Ka'anapali Beach
My laptop's view of the ocean on Ka'anapali Beach
I am blogging today from MAUI! We've been here a little over 24 hours but this is my first chance to just really sit down and put my feet up with my laptop. I saw yet another reminder on fb to migrate your Google Reader info to Feedly, so I finally took the time (30 seconds!) to do that. Which brought up all my fun blogs that I've been putting off (so many unread archived emails!) this week because I had a million things to do before we left. Tonight I actually read through several posts uninterrupted and even had time to comment on one or two. It was wonderful!

I'm really looking forward to some leisure time this summer to really join the conversations going on in the blogosphere and thoughtfully consider how that might impact and improve my classroom teaching. I'm also definitely going to order The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson to join up with the book study by the gals at Freebielicious. I've enjoyed the book so much already, and I haven't even read it yet! I just saw that the Kindle edition is cheaper than the paperback with no waiting for shipping... I don't have any room on my bookshelf in my shared classroom anyway, so maybe this will be an iPad read!
The view from our cabana if you actually stand up
The view from our cabana if you actually stand up

On that note, do you like reading on eReaders? I generally do, but sometimes I get lost without the physical book, if that makes sense. You know the feeling when you have 11 tabs and 3 programs open on your computer and you minimize one and then can't remember where you were going and what to do next? I don't get that from real books. But I do LOVE the search feature, and I'm not really a take-notes-in-the-margin-and-read-them-later person. I'm more of an underline-it-to-make-it-pretty-and-then-misquote-it-later kind of reader. "Well, Katy Wood Rays says that... Or it was something like... Well, I'm not really sure but I remember thinking that... Or maybe it was Reggie..."

I think I'll sleep on it and maybe buy it tomorrow! Maybe then I could actually be caught up by the time I get home. Off to bed in paradise!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Butterfly Math and MY NEW STORE!

Each year I tend to focus on growing as a professional and improving one area of my kindergarten curriculum. This year it's reading. Last year, math and writing. The year before, ELD. The trouble is, with only 3 hours a day with my kiddos (not to mention only 24 hours for myself) I've struggled this year to keep up with the improvements from previous years as I focus on reading this year.

Long story short, we're behind in math. Like a lot. So now it's April and I'm just now introducing addition (although if Monday's lesson was any indication, most of my students already have a pretty good idea of what they're doing without me!). We've been adding butterflies on the SMART board and using toys, so I created a cut-and-paste word problem activity for my substitute to do with my students today. It's not anything particularly unique or original (or even very challenging...) but it was faster for me to create my own than find the right one online, and it was a good introductory assessment to get started with. We'll see how they did when I get back on Monday! 

In addition to being a convenient sub activity, this worksheet was the perfect thing for my very first TeachersPayTeachers freebie! I got home early tonight and set up my TpT seller account and posted my first product! Hopefully this is the first of many. As a bilingual teacher I often feel like an island, working on my own and having to come up with almost everything we do from scratch (or at least taking everything my English kinder team has found or purchased and reproducing it in Spanish). I want to be a part of the growing community of bilingual teachers who are sharing quality, engaging, relevant materials online for other kinder teachers! 

So here it is--my very first freebie! Butterfly Addition Cut-and-Paste Word Problem in English AND Spanish! Click the image to go to my (new!) TpT store. If you download my product, please leave feedback so that I can build my rating. Thanks so much for your support!
Butterfly Addition Cut-and-Paste Word Problems

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

ELPA Update

Everyone DID show up last week and we were able to finish up our ELPA (English Language Proficiency Assessment) testing last Friday. Last year it took me 9 days, so it was exciting to finish up in only 7 with some help from my building ELD coordinator.

Tuesday we sat outside in the sunshine and ate ice cream to celebrate! We won't get our results until after school gets out in June, but I am proud of how hard my students worked and of how many of them did their very best--regardless of how their score turns out!

Wednesday we moved on to our Food unit:  I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly!

Caterpillar Update: Moving Day

In our PM class cup we now have 3 chrysalises and one small caterpillar that hasn't moved in at least a day. We saw some wiggles a couple days ago and were hoping he would make it, but now I'm pretty sure he's gone. Surprisingly, the kids weren't the least bit upset. They made the appropriate sad, pouty faces when I showed them the dead one in the cup, but then they moved right on to wanting to take the lid off and smell the poop. They're so silly! Every single child made outrageous "EEEEWWWW!" sounds when for most of them the cup wasn't possibly close enough to their little noses as I walked by to even smell what was in it!

Chrysalises in a Cup

Now our chrysalises have a new home in their basket above our cubbies where we can't reach them and knock them down!

Chrysalises in a Net

Thursday, April 11, 2013


Today is my 6th day of ELPA testing with my kinders. ELPA stands for "English Language Proficiency Assessment," which is our state-mandated computer-based test that our English Language Learners take each year to assess their growth in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It sounds great, and I really do believe in assessment and accountability, but the test is not even remotely developmentally appropriate! I would guess that the majority of our native English speakers in first grade would have a really difficult time with this test!

With kinders I test them two or three at a time in the computer lab with microphone headsets while my assistant has my class on her own. She's very capable and great with the kids, but she has been exhausted at the end of the day each day! There's a reason I don't do it on my own. =)

I'm so ready to be done and get back into our regular routine! Most of the kids have enjoyed the testing (mostly because I told them it was a game), but some have been really frustrated and felt bad because they realized that they didn't know what to do. =( We've been focusing on doing our best, and how your best is sometimes guessing!

If everyone shows up I should be done tomorrow! Hooray!

Caterpillar Update: We Have a Chrysalis!

We came to school this morning to find our very first chrysalis!

We Have a Chrysalis!

Then later that afternoon...

We Have a Chrysalis!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Caterpillar Update: Messy, Messy

Yuck! It's no wonder they're all at the top of the cup--I wouldn't want to be crawling around in that mess, either!
Messy Messy

They're about full-size now and almost ready to start transforming! We have one hanging as a J and holding still, the others are just sort of dancing and playing around (which is one of my favorite stages to put up on the doc cam because the kids think the caterpillars are dancing to our Jack Hartmann music! Count to 100 Everyday!).

Messy Messy

Friday, April 5, 2013

Caterpillar Update: Look at all that Poop!

They're eating and eating and eating and growing and growing and growing! Or as my kinders wrote in our book: "Se comió y comió y comió hasta que ¡se puso gordo!"

One of my more thoughtful kinders asked today: "But where do they go to the bathroom?" After which we discovered that all those tiny little balls were caterpillar POOP! EEEEEWWWW!

We also learned about molting and joked about wouldn't it be neat if when our clothes got too small we could take the off and grow new ones under them? =)

Caterpillar Poop

Thursday, April 4, 2013

La oruga muy hambrienta

La oruga muy hambrienta by Eric Carle
On Wednesday we read one of my favorite books of all time: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle. Of course, as always, the kids LOVED it! I'm lucky enough to teach next door to a first grade teacher who has the big book version in Spanish, so everyone could see. As we read each page, we turned and talked to our partners, retelling what had just happened, or making predictions about what would happen next. The most surprising thing for me was how many kids guessed that the caterpillar would eat a leaf after the oranges. They were disappointed for a minute, but then they were excited when I turned the next page. They LOVED the part where the cocoon transformed into a butterfly!

Hungry Caterpillar Accordian BooksLater that day (with my assistant because I was ELPA testing--more on that later), the kids cut out all the different parts of the story, and glued them on the cutest caterpillar retelling books ever! I saw these (or something similar) as an original pin on Pinterest. I cut green construction paper in half long-ways to make a 6x18 rectangle. These my assistant and I accordion-folded into sixths. We cut red die-cut circles (about 4 inch diameter?) for the heads. The kids glued the head on (make sure to model how to put glue on HALF the circle because it's too big) and drew on a caterpillar face. I realized after the fact that I should have told my assistant to give them black markers, because light colored crayons and pencils didn't show up very well. They should also write their name below their face.

Next the kids glued one picture from the story in each section of the folded caterpillar--four on each side--in the correct sequence. We left them open for the glue to dry, and the next day folded them up. Today we re-read the story, using their little caterpillar books! They had so much fun retelling the story in the pattern, and now they get to take them home!

(I found the printable on Pinterest. It's from DLTK-Teach--I can always count on them for sequencing printables!)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Phonics Fun

I love Monday afternoons in my kindergarten class! I hate Monday mornings because I'm usually sleepy, unprepared, and cranky! But Monday afternoons are some of my favorite time with my super kinders.

On Mondays we have early release for PLCs and get out at 1:35, but the PM kinders still come at 11:45 like usual. The other days are longer to make up for the missed time, but Monday afternoons are deliciously short. This means we don't have time for ELD or centers, so we it's the one day of the week where we get to do things we don't normally do, like smart board games, art, and science. Today I let the kids have free choice for longer than normal (probably longer than I should have!), then we worked on phonics.

All last week we were going through Lidia Barbosa's "Letter S and Syllables" packet that the kids have printed and bound in their blue center folders. They totally love her engaging and rigorous activities! Today I printed out the Level B reader she has in the packet 4-up (four on a page) to make mini-books. It was a color book, so we read it together on the board, which they did amazingly! I'm so impressed by how well my top girls are reading, even though we haven't done nearly enough practice with this this year! They know their sight words, and were chunking the other words into syllables. =)

After we finished, we noticed that the book didn't make sense. The pattern was, "La sirena es verde." But everything was actually white! So then we got out colored pencils (brand new ones!) and I passed out the student versions on clip boards. They sat at the carpet and colored their books according to the words while I colored mine on the doc cam. I heard so many great bucket-filling phrases like, "Wow, I like how you're coloring," and "You're not getting out of the lines at all!" What great friends! =)

Tomorrow, we are going to think of a few more things that start with S, and then each child has a blank page to fill in and write their own sentence on. After that, we'll cut apart our pages, stack them up, and staple them! My hope is that each child will be able to at least "magic memory" read their book so I can send them home tomorrow. For the other letter books, I'm sending them to the Print Shop to run on their booklet maker so they aren't quite so work intensive for us in class!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What are the seasons of the year?

"The seasons of the year are winter, spring, summer, and fall!"

"The Season Song"I love coming back to school in January and starting our seasons unit in ELD to go along with our January snow unit in reading & math. By now my kiddos have seen 3 seasons in recent memory, and occasionally it snows in January so they can identify with what we're reading! We have a song and a project to go along with each season, and two years ago I combined it with a unit on clothing, colors, and patterns so we sorted seasonally-appropriate clothing as well.

To begin our unit I introduced "The Season Song" I got from The Mailbox. It's sung to (one of) the tune(s) of "Head and Shoulders." (Try singing it--if it doesn't work, try the other version!) For some reason, this is one of my students' favorite songs that we've sung all year. It's nothing special, but they love it! Maybe because we shout, "We like them all!" Then we talk about and/or sketch each season. On this day I had kids color & cut out flash cards with various season-related clip art.

We started with winter since that's the season we're currently in (although we haven't had any snow yet this year to prove it!) and it's the first season in the calendar year. Our winter chant is "5 Little Snowflakes" which is fun addition practice as well! They really seem to like this one, too. For the project we cut snowflakes out of coffee filters and taped them on the windows.

"Umbrellas" Chant
For spring we talked about all the flowers that come out (more on that when they actually start blooming!) and the weather we can expect--LOTS of rain! Our chant is a super-adorable one again from The Mailbox. I like to use the Smart Board to search "umbrellas" on Google Image search (ALWAYS with Safe Search ON!), then click "Search Tools" toward the top which will pop up a toolbar. You can click the "All Colors" arrow, and then select just one color in the drop down box. This will filter the results so you get just one color of umbrella. We go through all the different colors in the drop down box, practicing color words and talking about what our favorite colors of umbrella are. Then we look for patterned umbrellas, and talk about stripes, polka-dots, plaid, etc. (This is a great place to jump into clothing colors and patterns.)

For our project, we color paper plates cut in half, and tape a pipe cleaner handle on the bottom to make umbrellas! These look cute hanging on our lights. In years past I have (with 4th grade buddies) had kids trace and cut 4 raindrops and hang them from the bottom of the umbrella with string or ribbon. These turn out SUPER cute, but they are a TON of punching and tying! To do them independently with kinders would require lots of cutting prep, and then lots of tape.

Flip Flop with StripesI don't have a good summer song (yet!) so if you have any good ideas, please let me know! On our summer day we talked about places we like to go in the summer, and then graphed our favorites. Surprisingly, going to the park beat going to the beach, but our favorite was going swimming!

Flip Flop with HeartsFor our project, we made.... Flip Flops! I passed out file folders from the file folder graveyard in the office work room (I tore them in half at the fold). This would also work with cardstock, but I don't think construction paper would be stiff enough. The kids helped each other trace their shoes onto the file folders, and cut them out. Next, they colored their footprints. When they were finished, they brought them to the carpet and used their closed scissors (the rounded-tip ones don't really work, but we had enough sharp-ish pairs that it wasn't an issue) to poke three holes in the footprint. Doing this on the carpet allowed them to poke their own holes without poking their fingers. Sharpened pencils or skewers would also work. Finally, I passed out pipe cleaners, and we folded them in half, stuck the middle in the first hole and folded it down about a cm on the back. Then we inserted each end of the pipe cleaner into the two remaining holes and folded a little bit down on the back again. Some students chose to tape theirs so they wouldn't fall out.

Of course, when they were finished, most students had to take their shoes off and try on their flip flops! =)

"It Is Fall" Song
I had a sub the last two days so I could work on our ADEPT English testing in the hallway (such a huge blessing! I was able two test all the kiddos who weren't absent without giving up any instructional time!). She introduced our fall song and project. The song is sung to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down." The projects turned out amazing--they're so striking! The first day she had them watercolor paint a white page, swirling red, yellow, and orange to cover the whole page. This made a mess on the tables, but the kids seemed to enjoy it, and they followed directions fairly well (only one child used a color other than red, yellow, or orange). The next day, she had them sketch a tree with branches (no leaves) with a pencil, and then passed out black tempera paint and thin paintbrushes. We didn't use the straw method as indicated on the website, because it sounded way too complicated and messy! I love the way the trees turned out, and the kids were really proud of them!
Fall Tree
Here is the example I found on Pinterest from  That Artist Woman

I'm really enjoying this unit, but it's about time to wrap it up. Bathroom Unit, here we come!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Students

You know, it's nice when they tell you that you have a new student coming BEFORE the kids show up for class. I mean, really, you knew yesterday. How hard is it to send me an email?

Also, I NEED to know how they're going home BEFORE the bell rings!

Today is one of those days where I wish I was organized enough to put together new student bags at the beginning of the year. I definitely thought of it!

Now to go discover every little nook and cranny where I write my kiddos' names...

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Joys of Bilingual Education

URG! I hate it when you have a great plan and lots of activities that all go with a particular book, and then you can't find that book in Spanish ANYWHERE! No library, no bookstore, no coworker, and Amazon is asking $44 plus shipping if you want it this week! ACK! #guessI'mtranslatingtonight