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August 29, 2017

Getting to Know Your Students and Building Caring Communities

By Shari Carter
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    ME in a Bag!

    In our classroom, we have ME in a Bag which is kind of like “show and tell”, and my kids LOVE it. Show and tell has been happening in kindergarten for as long as I can remember. I can even recall how thrilled I was when it was my turn to take the bag home! With the rigorous curriculum that students and their teachers are faced with, it’s no wonder why many teachers are omitting show and tell from their daily routines. Here are three characteristics that my children build each time we do “ME in a Bag”:

    Self Esteem: Kids love to be the center of attention and share time can be a big boost to a child’s self-esteem. When children bring their prize possessions from home, they exert a certain level of confidence in sharing the things they love.

    Social Skills: Your students will be able to connect with other children who enjoy interests similar to their own. We learn so much more about our students when we give them the opportunity to do the talking. . . and boy, do they have a lot to say! When children connect through similar interests, there are stronger ties that are built that can lead to stronger friendships at school.

    Speaking and Listening: Sharing is a valuable activity and is a perfect way to meet the common core speaking and listening standards. When students engage in “show and tell,” they are working towards these ELA standards:

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.1

    Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.1.A
    Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.1.B
    Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.3
    Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.

    Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.4
    Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.6
    Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

    I am the first to take home “ME in a Bag”...yes, I still love to share! Students need to get to know one another, but it’s also very important they get to know their teacher too. Being the first to share provides the opportunity to model how to share the items that are important to us. After sharing, the student is given the opportunity to call on three of their classmates to ask a question or make a comment. The questions and comments they come up with are absolutely adorable and when a compliment is given, we always work on our manners by thanking the person who gave it.

    Missing Loved Ones

    Many kindergartners struggle with missing their loved ones at home. It’s so hard to come to a brand-new place and feel comfortable right away. The Kissing Hand is the perfect book to help ease the separation anxiety that many students may be feeling at the beginning of the school year. It is a beautiful story about a young raccoon named, Chester who is nervous about going to school. His mother kisses the center of his palm and tells him that "whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, 'Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you.'" The kissing hand comforts Chester, and helps him on his journey into school.

    After reading the story we talk about the feelings we have on the first day of school. Some of my kids share with me that their parents were the ones who were actually struggling with the separation. We discuss how the kissing hand can come from the parent to the child, but that they can also be the one to do the kissing hand if their parents are the ones who are sad when they are away at school. It is so sweet and believe me, the kissing hand really works wonders!

    Kissing Hand cookies are the perfect first day of school snack! I prebake hand-shaped sugar cookies the night before the first day and then make sure to have some frosting and a kiss (Hershey’s, of course!) to put in the hand when they are done frosting it. The kids always seem to love the activity and I have even witnessed firsthand, some of my little kinders doing the kissing hand before coming into my class.

    Wrinkled Hearts

    In kindergarten, we talk a lot about thinking before speaking and being careful with our words. I love to read aloud Chrysanthemum to my class at the beginning of the year! But before we begin reading, I pass out red paper hearts to each of my students. I tell them that as I am reading the story, I want them to crumple their hearts up each time someone says or does something that hurts Chrysanthemum’s feelings. As the story goes on and the teasing (about Chrysanthemum’s name) continues, the children’s hearts get quite wrinkled. After discussing how it feels to have a wrinkled heart, I ask my kids to try and smooth out the heart, when someone tries to comfort Chrysanthemum. At the end, the kids notice that no matter how hard they try, they can’t completely smooth out their hearts. We then read the poem and once again talk about being careful about our words. Even though we can apologize, it never completely takes the “wrinkles” away.

    My kids take home their little wrinkled hearts to share with their families, and I like to hang up our big wrinkled heart as a gentle reminder to be careful with your words.

    I hope you have as much fun as I am as you get to know your new students, and what makes each one of them special. The most important element in creating a caring community is YOU! I hope you can use some of these activities and that you remember that it is your love, compassion and care that will truly create a classroom where your little students will LOVE to come to each and every day!

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my blog, and here’s to a wonderful year!

    xo-Shari 

    ME in a Bag!

    In our classroom, we have ME in a Bag which is kind of like “show and tell”, and my kids LOVE it. Show and tell has been happening in kindergarten for as long as I can remember. I can even recall how thrilled I was when it was my turn to take the bag home! With the rigorous curriculum that students and their teachers are faced with, it’s no wonder why many teachers are omitting show and tell from their daily routines. Here are three characteristics that my children build each time we do “ME in a Bag”:

    Self Esteem: Kids love to be the center of attention and share time can be a big boost to a child’s self-esteem. When children bring their prize possessions from home, they exert a certain level of confidence in sharing the things they love.

    Social Skills: Your students will be able to connect with other children who enjoy interests similar to their own. We learn so much more about our students when we give them the opportunity to do the talking. . . and boy, do they have a lot to say! When children connect through similar interests, there are stronger ties that are built that can lead to stronger friendships at school.

    Speaking and Listening: Sharing is a valuable activity and is a perfect way to meet the common core speaking and listening standards. When students engage in “show and tell,” they are working towards these ELA standards:

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.1

    Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.1.A
    Follow agreed-upon rules for discussions (e.g., listening to others and taking turns speaking about the topics and texts under discussion).

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.1.B
    Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.3
    Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.

    Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.4
    Describe familiar people, places, things, and events and, with prompting and support, provide additional detail.

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.K.6
    Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.

    I am the first to take home “ME in a Bag”...yes, I still love to share! Students need to get to know one another, but it’s also very important they get to know their teacher too. Being the first to share provides the opportunity to model how to share the items that are important to us. After sharing, the student is given the opportunity to call on three of their classmates to ask a question or make a comment. The questions and comments they come up with are absolutely adorable and when a compliment is given, we always work on our manners by thanking the person who gave it.

    Missing Loved Ones

    Many kindergartners struggle with missing their loved ones at home. It’s so hard to come to a brand-new place and feel comfortable right away. The Kissing Hand is the perfect book to help ease the separation anxiety that many students may be feeling at the beginning of the school year. It is a beautiful story about a young raccoon named, Chester who is nervous about going to school. His mother kisses the center of his palm and tells him that "whenever you feel lonely and need a little loving from home, just press your hand to your cheek and think, 'Mommy loves you. Mommy loves you.'" The kissing hand comforts Chester, and helps him on his journey into school.

    After reading the story we talk about the feelings we have on the first day of school. Some of my kids share with me that their parents were the ones who were actually struggling with the separation. We discuss how the kissing hand can come from the parent to the child, but that they can also be the one to do the kissing hand if their parents are the ones who are sad when they are away at school. It is so sweet and believe me, the kissing hand really works wonders!

    Kissing Hand cookies are the perfect first day of school snack! I prebake hand-shaped sugar cookies the night before the first day and then make sure to have some frosting and a kiss (Hershey’s, of course!) to put in the hand when they are done frosting it. The kids always seem to love the activity and I have even witnessed firsthand, some of my little kinders doing the kissing hand before coming into my class.

    Wrinkled Hearts

    In kindergarten, we talk a lot about thinking before speaking and being careful with our words. I love to read aloud Chrysanthemum to my class at the beginning of the year! But before we begin reading, I pass out red paper hearts to each of my students. I tell them that as I am reading the story, I want them to crumple their hearts up each time someone says or does something that hurts Chrysanthemum’s feelings. As the story goes on and the teasing (about Chrysanthemum’s name) continues, the children’s hearts get quite wrinkled. After discussing how it feels to have a wrinkled heart, I ask my kids to try and smooth out the heart, when someone tries to comfort Chrysanthemum. At the end, the kids notice that no matter how hard they try, they can’t completely smooth out their hearts. We then read the poem and once again talk about being careful about our words. Even though we can apologize, it never completely takes the “wrinkles” away.

    My kids take home their little wrinkled hearts to share with their families, and I like to hang up our big wrinkled heart as a gentle reminder to be careful with your words.

    I hope you have as much fun as I am as you get to know your new students, and what makes each one of them special. The most important element in creating a caring community is YOU! I hope you can use some of these activities and that you remember that it is your love, compassion and care that will truly create a classroom where your little students will LOVE to come to each and every day!

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for following my blog, and here’s to a wonderful year!

    xo-Shari 

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