The Magic of Tidying Up - Classroom Style!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

     I have a teacher friend who often says, "My room looks like kindergarten threw up!" This is what goes through my mind as I look around my classroom and realize it's time to pack it all in! The space does not look as it did in September - children have lived here, children have worked and played here. I'm reminded that this is what it should look like if I've been doing my job!
    My first inclination is to go center by center (inch by inch, life is a cinch!).  Then I remember Marie Kondo and her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  While Marie is very good at cleaning up, I am very good at making messes!  So having her "principles" in my back pocket can be a very good thing when dealing with a year's worth of "vomit!"  If she were here, she would suggest that I not "tidy up" by center (oh no!), but rather grab all of one type of item, such as books and begin there.  My brain likes this way of thinking!  So I gather all the books and bring them to the floor. 


end of year kindergarten

 She suggests you do this so you can see how much you really have (uh oh!).  She would tell me I have too many! I would not tell her that I have more at home! Instead of tackling the books right away (avoidance tactic!), I continue to bring like things together. I create groups of paper, writing utensils, charts, science stuff, math stuff, reading stuff, art materials, storage containers, storytelling props and a miscellaneous pile.  


end of year kindergarten



At this point, my room is looking more like a full blow case of the flu rather than a 24-hour bug, but I'm in too deep to turn back now.  Once everything is sorted, I tackle the easiest pile first - paper.  Not sure what clutter experts would say about this, but it works for me. I need to feel some success!  


end of year kindergarten


Paper goes quickly as most of it is just recycled.  I find forms I was supposed to hand in (oops)!  

end of year  kindergarten

     Next, I move on to writing utensils. I'm actually starting to enjoy the process.  I check markers to see if they are dried out.  I sharpen pretty pencils and think how these might be my "underwriting" tools for next year.  I admire colored pens I received as a gift and decide that these will be used for drawing stars on math papers.  I begin to create my supply order and add pencils, erasers, Sharpies, and dry erase markers to the list. I'm starting to see how focusing on one type of item brings clarity!  My typical approach to clean up would have been more of a  dart here, dart there pattern, which means more Fitbit steps, but less efficiency.
     So I continue to tackle each category until all I'm left with is the books.  It is then that I'm reminded of another one of Marie's principles and that is to hold each and every item and ask, "Does it  spark joy?"  Worn out copies of No, David! with the "naked page" ripped out do not spark joy for me!  They go in the recycling bin.  Stacks of I Can Read books that consume precious closet real estate are given away to a colleague.

End of Year - kindergarten

     The remaining books are sorted into categories such as fairy tales, song books, favorite authors, concepts, etc. and I reminisce about joyful moments with last year's class.  I see Ashlynn trying hard to read Tikki Tikki Tembo's full name and hear the kids saying Tsz Tsz Tsz like the monkeys in Caps for Sale. I realize I'm feeling grateful for these books which is what Marie calls, "thanking your belongings for their service."  When the very last copy of The Napping House was finally "put to bed," I felt the great satisfaction of a job well done.


End of Year Kindergarten

     While I didn't "dress for the event" as Marie suggests, and at times had music playing (she prefers you give it your full attention), her principles were super helpful in doing a thorough job and making a dreaded task somewhat pleasurable!  Maybe this summer, she can help me "tidy" my basement! (Note: Never before have I used the words "tidy" and "basement" in one sentence!) 

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Animal Research Projects

Thursday, 9 June 2016

 


     In February, we began watching the Decorah Eagle webcam  and the children had lots of questions about the eggs, eaglets, and the habits of the eagles. We used this source, along with books, artifacts, and websites to do research about the bald eagle. 

webcam viewing

models of eagle feathers, skull, and talons



     We then worked together to write a nonfiction book that included facts about the eagle’s body, habitat, diet, and life cycle.  

understanding wingspan

    measuring wingspan

     We shared our books with our first grade friends who were also writing nonfiction and brought their books to share. 





     To culminate the project, we broke into small groups and were given specific challenges to apply our learning. 


build an eagle habitat

make eggs that are "actual size"

fill an eagle's "lunchbox" with favorite foods

measure/draw an eagle's wingspan to actual size

      We then shared theses projects with another kindergarten class to teach them what we had learned.       
   With that experience under our belt, it was then time for the children to write their own nonfiction books based on an animal of their choosing. They recorded their top three choices on a post-it note and animal research groups were formed based on these interests.  



     All children were given the option of working within a group, but a few preferred to work alone. They gathered their facts, mostly using the illustrations, and recorded them on note paper.

note paper from Sarah's First Grade Snippets
 
 They then used these facts to write All About books.


pandas
snakes

sharks

butterflies

dinosaurs
dolphins

     Once they finished, they took turns sharing their books with the class.



     Their interest in animal studies continues in the classroom beyond writing workshop as children are building habitats and zoos in the construction area and using the animal books in the science center to do further research.


     We continue to check in with the eagles to observe the growth of the eaglets and anticipate their flight from the nest.  My kindergartners too will be leaving  soon, and the work they've done with these animal research projects shows me they are more than ready to go!  

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