Sunday, May 9, 2021

COME TO ME!

On this Mother’s Day, it doesn’t matter if you are a male or female or a biological parent or not. If you are an early childhood educator, you are a caregiver and in many situations as vital as the actual parent. We enter our profession not because of the money or dreams of high test scores. We become teachers of young children out of LOVE. You can take all your technology programs and assessments and performance standards – but, at the end of the day, it’s all about the relationship you create with each child.

Many years ago there was an older woman in one of my workshops. She had been working with children for over 50 years and I asked her if she had any advice for me. She gingerly got down on her knees, opened her arms, and said with a smile, “Come to me.” That was the inspiration for the thought I share with each of you on this special day.

COME TO ME
by Dr. Jean

Whether you are large or small, rich or poor –
Come to me.

Whether your skin is brown or beige, gold or tan –
Come to me.

I’ll embrace you and love you and cherish you –
Come to me.

I’ll play with you and make you laugh –
Come to me.

I’ll kiss your hurts and keep you safe –
Come to me.

I’ll give you happy memories and dreams for tomorrow -
Come to me.

I’ll share the wonder of learning and the joy of each day –
Come to me.

I’ll take time to listen to you and try to understand you –
Come to me.

I’ll cheer you, encourage you, and believe in you –
Come to me.

I’ll never give up. I’ll try and try. I’m an early childhood teacher.
Come to me!


This is dedicated to my mother Frances McCracken Rosenberg. She never went to college, but she was the BEST early childhood educator I've ever know. 

Right before I started my first teaching job in 1969 I told my mother how scared I was.  She just smiled and said, "Honey, all you've got to do is be nice to them and love them."  After all these years and all the books I've read and courses I've taken her advice is still the most powerful!

Thanks, Mom!! I hope you feel how much I love you and appreciate you and miss you!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

REWARD STICKS AND GIFT CARDS

Need a few incentives and rewards to keep those kids motivated the last few weeks of school?Rather than stickers or treats, here are reward sticks that you can use to reinforce a special accomplishment or good behavior.


Choose activities that you think would work best for your students from the list below. Write these on jumbo craft sticks with a Sharpie. Place them in a cup and pretend like children are “winning” something when they choose a stick.

Choose a song and lead the class.

Eat lunch with your teacher or a special friend.

Be excused from a homework assignment.

Choose an indoor game to play.

Select the book for story time.

Sit by a favorite person all day.

15 minutes of free time.

Help the teacher do a special job.

Decorate the bulletin board or door.

Sit at the teacher’s desk.

Take off your shoes.

Listen to an IPod or headset while you work.

Take a class game or book home for the night.

Chew sugar free gum.

Be first in line for lunch

Use the teacher’s stamps, pens, or markers.

Choose a board game and play it with a friend.

Hand out supplies.

Be leader of a class game.

Be excused from a written assignment.

Play games on the computer for 10 minutes.

Visit another class in the school.

Work with a friend.

Be a helper in the office, lunchroom, or in another classroom.

Read a story to the principal or another class.

Have the teacher call your parents to tell them what a great kid you are!

Take a note to the principal about what a great kid you are.

Make something at the art center.

Have your work displayed in the hall or on the classroom door.

One special wish!


Note! Let your students suggest activities that they would like for rewards.




Gift Cards
Cut cardboard into 2" x 3 1/2" rectangles and write the non-tangible rewards on these. Let children choose a "gift card" from a bag.

                                                

Friday, May 7, 2021

COUNT DOWN CHAIN

Are you scratching your head trying to figure out where the school year went? Some of you only have a few more days, but many of you have several weeks to go. Many teachers have told me that it's been their toughest year.  Might as well end with a song and a smile because next year has got to get better!!!

End of Year Cadence (The children repeat each line.)
School is coming to an end. (Stand, march, and slap thighs.)
School is coming to an end.
Say so long to all our friends.
Say so long to all our friends.

We’ve learned to read and write and spell.
We’ve learned to read and write and spell.
We know our shapes and numbers well.
We know our shapes and numbers well.

We’ve learned to follow classroom rules.
We’ve learned to follow classroom rules.
Getting along is really cool.
Getting along is really cool.

Science, music, art, PE.
Science, music, art, PE.
School’s been great for you and me.
School’s been great for you and me.

Summer’s time for outdoor fun.
Summer’s time for outdoor fun.
Read every day and play in the sun.
Read every day and play in the sun.

And when school begins again.
And when school begins again.
We’ll be happy to see our friends.
We’ll be happy to see our friends.


Days Left in the Year Song
(Tune: “100 Bottles of Pop on the Wall.”)
(Number of days) left in the school year.
(Number of days) left, that’s so.
We’ve had fun, we’re almost done.
(Number of days) to go.


Count Down Chain

Let each child make a paper chain with the number of days left in the school year. Each day they can remove one strip.

*Make a bulletin board with balloons for the number of school days left. Pop one balloon each day. (These could be real balloons or paper balloons.)


School Is Over
(Tune: Frere Jacques)
School is over.
School is over. (Children repeat each line.)
Time to go.
Time to go.
We’ve had fun learning.
We’ve had fun learning.
Love you so.
Love you so.



Thursday, May 6, 2021

PARTY TIME

Make the last few days “sweet” ones to remember with lots of special days. You might want to celebrate “Wonderful Wednesdays” the last month of the school year or plan a little celebration every day the last week of school. What many adults forget is that children are happy with “plain vanilla.” Wearing a silly hat or a shirt from a favorite sports team can be as much fun as a fancy ball!


Sports Day – Enjoy the warm weather with a “Sports Day.” Children can wear t-shirts and hats from their favorite teams. Let them bring sports equipment to share with friends on the playground.



Book Party
– Encourage children to dress up like their favorite book character. Play “Guess Who I Am?” or have children describe why they like a particular character. Let them bring favorite reading material (books, magazines) from home and sit or lay wherever they want for independent reading.

Talent Show - One of my favorite memories is of a Talent Show we had at the end of the school year. I just invited all the children to think of a “talent” (song, dance, story, gymnastic stunt) they could do. We sat in a circle and they all got up and performed! We clapped and laughed and cheered!

Board Game Day
– Let children bring board games from home. Set aside the last hour in the day to share games and play with friends.

Pajama Party – Have children wear pajamas and bring pillows and stuffed animals to class. Read books, watch a movie, and eat popcorn.

Career Day – Children come dressed for the career they’d like when they grow up. After sharing with friends, have each child draw a picture (or take a photograph) and make a class book.

Unbirthday Party – How about a birthday party when it’s everyone’s “unbirthday”? Play party games, sing, and decorate cupcakes. (This is also a great way to celebrate all those summer birthdays.)

Beach Party – Bring beach towels and wear sunglasses, shorts, and bathing suits. Set up sprinklers or other water activities on the playground. Play beach ball games, beach music, and have a “cool” snack like popsicles.

Teddy Bear Parade – Children bring in a teddy bear or stuffed animal and parade around the classroom. Have them write stories and draw pictures of what they like to do with their bear. Have a “tea party” with your bears.

Hat Day – Ask children to wear their favorite hat to school, or challenge them to design a hat from a paper plate and art scraps.

Luau – Make grass skirts from draw string garbage bags. Cut straws in 1” pieces and alternate stringing with paper flowers on dental floss to create a lei. Hula, surf, and eat pineapple fruit kabobs for snack.

Toy Day – Children bring a favorite toy from home and share with their friends.
                                          

Wash Day – Wear old clothes and bring sponges, pails, and squirt bottles. Let children wash tables, desks, toys, etc. (You could tie this in with a water play day.)

Sock Hop – Children get to wear silly socks to school and have a dance at the end of the day.
*Teach the children the “Twist,” “Charleston,” “Jitterbug,” “Swim,” “Pony,” or other dances from your past.

Teacher of the Day – Assign one child each day the last month of school to be “Teacher of the Day.” That child gets to sit in your desk and be in charge of circle time. They can choose a book to read to the class, a song to sing, game to play, and so forth.

                            Note! "Teacher of the Day" is my favorite!!!!



Wednesday, May 5, 2021

SUMMER READING JOURNAL

You will need a pocket folder for each child for this summer writing activity. Remind the children what wonderful writers they have become and how important it is for them to keep writing over the summer. Explain that many famous writers started keeping diaries and journals just like them when they were young. Motivate them to make their own “Summer Fun Journal” so they can record all the special things they will be doing over the summer. 


Provide the children with markers, crayons, construction paper, and other art media to decorate the front of their pocket folders. (You might suggest they title it “Summer Fun.”) Run off copies with the attached writing prompts or create your own based on the interests of your students. You might even want to ask your class to brainstorm topics for these journals.

Hint! Be sure and include some blank paper at the end.

*Encourage students to add photos, brochures, or other special keepsakes.

*Add a line for the date on each page.

*Tell your students you’d love to see their journals when the come back for the new school year.

Note!  For younger children encourage parents to have their children illustrate the topic and then dictate sentences for their parents to write.


Here are some summer writing prompts.

I like summer because

My favorite book is

This is one of my chores

My family is going

This is what I like to do outside

These are my favorite summer foods

My goal for this summer is

These are my friends

I wish

When it’s hot I

These are games I like to play

This is what I like to wear in the summer

This is my favorite place to play

These are my favorite toys

My worst day ever

My best day ever

I can’t wait for school to start because


FREE  Summer Journal

You can also download this free summer journal that Carolyn Kisloski created. 




                                                

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

FRIENDSHIP SOUVENIRS

These projects will give children a tangible way to remember their friends.

Memory Shirt
Have children bring in an old t-shirt from home. (White works best.) Provide them with fabric pens and let them have friends write their names and draw pictures on their shirts.
Hint! Plan several days for this project. It’s “no fun” if you have to do it all at once.



Sweet Dreams Pillowcase

Let children bring in a pillowcase and have their friends decorate them with their names and pictures. They will have “sweet dreams” all summer!


Friendship Necklace
You will need construction paper, yarn, markers, and hole punches for this project. Cut the construction paper into 2 ½” squares, circles or other simple shapes. Each child will need as many pieces as there are students in your room. Have them write their name and draw pictures on their shapes. Punch holes. Now comes the fun part! Children get to go around the room and give a shape to each of their friends. Encourage them to say something kind they remember about their friend as they pass them out. Finally, children string the shapes on yarn and knot the ends to make a necklace.



Time Capsule
Create a memento of the year with a time capsule. Ask each child to bring in Pringle’s can. Have them draw a picture of themselves and put it in the can. Let them write or dictate what they want to be when they grow up and illustrate it. Challenge them to collect a wrapper from their favorite food, something their favorite color, friends’ signatures, and other small, meaningful objects to add to their bottles. After gluing on the lid and decorating the outside, send the time capsules home with a note to the parents asking them to save them until their child graduates from high school.
                     


My Teacher LOVES Me!
Take a photo of yourself with each child. Fill their name in the poem below and
glue it to a card with the photo. Present it to them the last day with an air hug!

You’re a very special person
And (name), you should know
How I loved to be your teacher.
How fast the year did go!
Please come back to visit me
As through the grades you grow.
Try hard to learn all that you can.
There is so much to know!
The one thing I tried to teach you
To last your whole life through,
Is to know that you are special
Just because YOU ARE YOU!
 

Monday, May 3, 2021

MEMORY MAKERS

Here are some activities that will give your children positive memories of their school year.  You might need to adapt them to your particular teaching situation, but they will put a special feeling in your students' hearts.


Memory Book
Run off copies of a memory book for each child to color and fill in the missing information. Here are some suggestions:
1st page – “My Memory Book” with teacher’s name, school, year.
2nd page – “This is me.” (Child draws self –portrait.)
3rd page – “This is my teacher.” (Child draws teacher’s picture.)
4th page – “Here are my friends.” (Child draws friends.)
5th page – “My favorite thing at school is...” (Draws favorite activities.)
6th page – “Something I’ve learned this year…” (Draws accomplishment.)
7th page – “When I grow up I want to be…” (Draws future self.)
8th page – “This is my handprint.” (Trace around child’s hand.)
You could also have children draw their favorite sport, color, book, song, food, etc.
*If you do an end of year conference with parents this would be a good thing to share.


Autograph Book
Cut paper in fourths. (I like to use colored paper.) Have children count out 10 pieces. Hole punch and tie with a ribbon. Children walk around the room and get their friends’ autographs.




Time Line
Give each child a long strip of paper. Draw a line down the middle. Have children draw what they looked like when they started the school year on the left and what they look like now on the right. They can fill in the middle of the time line with special memories. (You might need to brainstorm or show photos to spark their memories.)


Now I Can!
Brainstorm all the things your students have learned during the school year. Give each child a sheet of paper and have them draw something they couldn’t do at the beginning of the year that they can do now. Complete this sentence: “I couldn’t _______, but now I can _______.” Make a cover that says “Now I Can!” and bind to make a book.


Class Yearbook
A teacher in New York shared this idea with me years ago. It’s going to take a little work, but it will be something children will treasure the rest of their lives! You will need to assemble photographs of the children, as well as pictures you’ve taken throughout the school year. Take 26 sheets of paper and write a letter on each page. Glue pictures of the children on the page their name begins with. Next, sort through the pictures and glue them on appropriate pages. (I’ve given you some suggestions for each letter below.) Label the pictures and run off a copy for each child. Use cardstock for the front and back cover and bind.

A- apple tasting, art, alphabet, “Alligator”
B- “Bear Hunt,” blocks, birthdays, books, bus
C- computers, caterpillars, counting, cooking, CLIFFORD
D- dinosaurs, dancing, drawing, “Days of the Week”
E- easel, exercise, eating, exploring
F- friends, fall, first day of school, “Five Little Monkeys”
G- GINGERBREAD MAN, games, graphs, gym
H- Hundred Day, Halloween, holidays, handprint
I- ice and snow, insects, “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “I can___”
J- jack o’ lanterns, journals, jump rope
K- KISSING HAND, kites, kindness, “Katalina”
L- letters, library, “Lettercise,” lunch, LEO
M-“Macarena Months,” music, math, magnets
N- nests, nursery rhymes, names, numbers
O- oceans, outside, “Over in the Meadow”
P- pizza parlor, P.E., puzzles, painting, “Peanut Butter”
Q- quiet time, quilts
R- reading, rainy days, running, rabbits, “Rime Time”
S- singing, spring, shapes, senses, science
T- “Tooty Ta,” turkeys, teeth, tests, TACKY THE PENGUIN
U- upside down, under, umbrellas (April showers)
V- Valentine’s Day, VERY BUSY SPIDER
W- word wall, writing, winter, “Wally Acha,” weather
X- “X” marks the spot (treasure hunt), X with body
Z- zoo field trip, zigzag art, “Z” end of the year
*Use the name of the school, teacher’s name, etc.


Here’s a poem for the cover:
We’ve learned and played in many ways,
But now the year must end.
Here’s a book to remember special days,
And all your kindergarten (first grade) friends!
Hint! If you don’t have photographs, have your children draw pictures for your book.

*Make a video of your students singing, working in centers, and doing other things they like best at school.