January #Kinderchat Blog Challenge Day 29

Wordless Wednesday: Kindergarten Coat area – Before, During, After





#Kinderchat January Blog Challenge Day 27

Monday List: your top 5 favorite children’s books.

Front Cover

Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by Nancy Carlson is a great book for the beginning of the year and lends itself to more stories of Henry throughout the year to study multiple books by one author.  Students are able to relate to Henry’s character.

“The first day of kindergarten is finally here, and Henry can’t wait to paint pictures, sing songs, and practice counting. When he gets to school, though, he’s not so sure he’s ready for kindergarten. But before long Henry discovers that the only thing he’s not ready for is how much fun he’s going to have at school! This gently humorous, encouraging story will give children about to enter kindergarten an extra boost of confidence.” ~Good Reads

After  getting to know each other and adjusting to a new class, teacher, school , we go from making text to self connections  in Look Out Kindergarten, Here I Come! by reading Henry’s Show & Tell  by Nancy Carlson.  This book leads us right into text to text connections and character study.  The most fun we have is adding our own speech bubbles to the characters as we imagine what they might be saying, shouting, or screaming when Henry’s pet lizard gets loose.  By Christmastime, students are quite familiar with Nancy Carlson as an author and can fully appreciate the humor in George & Harriet’s Christmas Treat.  

Front Cover

This year, for some reason, my students have connected to Cookie’s Week by Cindy Ward this year.  Every time we make a mess in our classroom (and we do make many of them) the kids chant, “There was _______ everywhere!”  The mess was glitter during a Christmas project, a spilled button box during math, corn kernels during an art project,  Goldfish crackers during snack, and our mittens, hats, and snow pants once winter clothing arrived on the scene.  Yes!  We make many messes, so the phrase continues to pop up.  Everyone knows what the word mischief means after getting to know Cookie.

It’s a great text to use for introducing for learning to retell a story without being able to read the words.  It’s my go-to  big book, along with The Very Hungry Caterpillar for modeling the retelling  procedure when teaching Three Ways to Read a Book for Daily Five.  Later on, I revisit it to work with days of the week.  By then, many students are reading the words and not just the pictures to retell the story.  This books elevates confidence in my early readers.



I chose to show the first edition cover of Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary because this is the book that I remember reading as a young child the summer going into third grade.  Once I discovered Ramona and Beezus and Henry and Ribsy, I couldn’t ride my bike back and forth to the public library fast enough to devour the next book by Beverly Cleary.  That in and of itself was monumental, because I was terrified of the librarian!  She wore wool skirt sets and sensible shoes.  The library was never quite quiet enough for her.  Come to think of it, she reminds me a bit of Miss Nelson.  And the children’s section of the library was in the basement.  That made it even more terrifying.  Lucky for me, my older sister was an avid reader too and  she never had a problem taking me down there.

Beverly Cleary wrote about kids like me and kids that lived in my neighborhood.  I connected with Ramona Quimby like no other  storybook character that summer.

Years later, Ramona popped back into my life while I was teaching Kindergarten and I wondered if my students would also enjoy the book.  Actually, I worried if they could even handle a chapter book.  It  was the first chapter book I ever tried reading with kindergarteners and I knew that if the book was good enough, even five and six-year-olds would sit still for a story that didn’t have pictures.  Ramona worked her magic and the kids begged me to read longer each day.

If I clump my next two together, let’s just call that one out of my five favorites.  That way I can finish up my five with my all time favorite picture book.

The Mitten and Snowballs are two of my favorite winter books to read with kindergarteners.  I’m sure they are in every kindergarten classroom.   Wintertime is a glorious time for children.  It’s “Snow Much Fun.”  See here for the fun activities my class had with Snowballs earlier this month.


My fifth and final favorite picture book is All the Places to Love by Patricia MacLachlan.


Within the sanctuary of a loving family, baby Eli is born and, as he grows, “learns to cherish the people and places around him, eventually passing on what he has discovered to his new baby sister, Sylvie: ‘All the places to love are here . . . no matter where you may live.’ This loving book will be something to treasure.”‘BL.”The quiet narrative is so intensely felt it commands attention. . . . a lyrical celebration.”‘K. ~Good Reads

The first time I ever heard this book read I got choked up.  Not only are the illustrations exceptionally beautiful, the simple message makes you stop, take a breath, and think about your home and family and why we are  so attached to the place we call home.

#Kinderchat January Blog Challenge Day 28

This week I want to get back to work with my students!

20140128-080834.jpgYes!  That reads -16  F with wind chill temperatures below -35 F.

Enough already!  I think this graphic might sum up how I’m feeling right about now.

I’m tired of the bitter cold winter days keeping us trapped inside. This is an exciting time of the year in kindergarten when  students have reached new levels of independence and stamina.  With a terrific week of lessons planned, I’m anxious to get back into the classroom to compare different versions of The Mitten along with a number of other fun activities.


I like each one of The Mitten stories for different reasons.  Tresselt’s version allows children to see how illustrations in children’s books have changed over the years and has children giggling to see  how all those animals will fit inside the mitten.  Aylesworth’s rollicking rhyming refrains and McClintock’s delightfully expressive characters draw the students in.  Jan Brett has created a dramatic and beautiful picture book in her distinctive style. She brings the animals to life with warmth and humor, and her illustrations are full of visual delights and details faithful to the Ukrainian tradition, from which the story comes.

#Kinderchat January Blog Challenge Day 26

Describe something (or a few things) that you are VERY good at.

Okay, I’ve been agonizing over this one and I really want to get onto the next challenge, favorite children’s books.  Now that will be a breeze.  The only problem will be limiting it too five books.  Like that will happen!

I don’t ever think of myself as VERY good at anything, and if I do, there’s always a “but”…  tacked on at the end.  Yeah, it drives my husband crazy.  So, I threw the question out there to my family just to get their thoughts. “What is something I’m really good at?” I asked.   And I continued to agonize and avoid.  Like it or not, here’s what they came up with.

According to my son, age 12, I’m really good at

  • Going to Starbucks
  • stealing his slippers
  • making pickles
  •  saying “no” when he wants to buy something, and
  • making chicken nachos

I’m really trying hard to understand twelve-year-old boys.  I miss my daughter!

I texted my daughter, away at college, the same question. And waited.  And waited.  Actually, I’m still waiting.  She’s a lot like me, so I assume she needs to mull it over a while in hopes of providing the response that would make me happy and compensate for her younger brother.

Organizing things and making amazing meals from whatever produce is in season are the highlights from my husband.  Thank you, Oakridge Farms for my CSA share to help make that possible.  Really?  Is that all you got?

Feeling a bit dissatisfied with all of their heartfelt comments, I was beginning to think I might just have to pass on this challenge.  That is, until I came across a project from a class I took six years ago while completing my Master’s degree called Teacher as a Person and a Professional (ED715).  For this class I the requirement was to write  a strategic plan for myself complete with beliefs, values, mission, and vision.  I remember struggling then like I’m struggling now.  After reading it over, it’s amazing  how true I’ve stayed to my beliefs, values, and mission.  And I’ve even managed to reach a few of the goals I had for myself.

Of course my vision statement would have come a little closer to reality had I won the lottery.  The family room isn’t remodeled, but…it’s still our family gathering place of comfort.  We didn’t get back to Jamaica for our 25th wedding anniversary, but…my summer job experience at a local farm reignited my passion for cooking AND lowered my cholesterol 69 points.  My daughter isn’t in medical school, but…is one year away from becoming a high school English teacher.  Her decision to change majors came from a true respect for teachers  and education along with her love of literature and writing.  It’s quite satisfying when your 19-year-old comes home from college and tells you how proud she is of her parents and expresses gratitude for instilling all the right things.  That girl is out to change the world!  And she will.

I’m proud to say I set many goals and  and actions in that strategic plan and have accomplished many of them. That’s what I do.  There it is.  That’s what I’m VERY good at.  I stay true to who I am and my beliefs.  Simply put, I know how to get things done!

And just to get back to the original question I asked earlier of my husband, he  elaborated a bit more seriously this time and came up with  INDEPENDENCE, INTELLIGENCE, and DRIVE, precisely why I could not pass on this challenge.

January Blog Challenge Day 25

Pet peeves:  Let them all out!

pet peeve


: something that annoys or bothers a person very much.

I think I'm going to make this into a card for all of the high school graduates I know this year!

( I’m limiting myself to five or it will end up to be 500 once I get going.)
1. Late people.  I’m not naming names here, but you know who you are.
2. Empty toilet paper.  Again, I’m not naming names children!
3. People who chew loud.
4. Mean people.
5. People who talk loud on cellphones.  WE DON’T CARE!!!!!
BONUS:  Indoor recess!

January Blog Challenge Day 21

This week, I want to CELEBRATE the Grand Opening of The Very Hungry Kindergarten Restaurant with my class.  I’m a little late with this post because I knew something big was going to happen when…

…we voted to change the dramatic play area from housekeeping to a restaurant.   I didn’t worry about which of the CCSS it connected to.  To be honest, if I had worried about the standards and had  thought about neatly typing them up into a perfect lesson plan, submitted them electonically to sit in a shared folder for no one, I wouldn’t have bothered.

With the below zero temperatures forcing us to stay inside day after day, it seemed like the right move.  Change things up a bit.  Have some fun!  Here is the blog post I shared on our Kid Blog for parents to read about and see all the fun we have while learning together in our class.  http://kidblog.org/MrsNaultsKindergarten/8a511a02-9a4d-430d-b4f7-a380dfdaefc1/welcome-to-our-restaurant/

 The kids had fun.  I had fun.  And for fun’s sake, I went to my Common Core App just to see which of the standards   applied to this intentionally designed play area in our classroom.  Here’s what I came up with:

  • 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.1a 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.1b Continue a conversation through multiple exchanges.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.2 Confirm understanding of a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media by asking and answering questions about key details and requesting clarification if something is not understood.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.3 Ask and answer questions in order to seek help, get information, or clarify something that is not understood.
  • 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.5 Add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions as desired to provide additional detail.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.K.6 Speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1a Print many upper- and lowercase letters.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1b Use frequently occurring nouns and verbs.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1c Form regular plural nouns orally by adding /s/ or /es/ (e.g., dog, dogs; wish, wishes).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1d Understand and use question words (interrogatives) (e.g., who, what, where, when, why, how).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1e Use the most frequently occurring prepositions (e.g., to, from, in, out, on, off, for, of, by, with).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1f Produce and expand complete sentences in shared language activities.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2 Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2a Capitalize the first word in a sentence and the pronoun I
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2b Recognize and name end punctuation.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2c Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel sounds (phonemes).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2d Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases based on kindergarten reading and content.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.4a Identify new meanings for familiar words and apply them accurately (e.g., knowing duck is a bird and learning the verb to duck).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.4b Use the most frequently occurring inflections and affixes (e.g., -ed, -s, re-, un-, pre-, -ful, -less) as a clue to the meaning of an unknown word.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5 With guidance and support from adults, explore word relationships and nuances in word meanings.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5a Sort common objects into categories (e.g., shapes, foods) to gain a sense of the concepts the categories represent.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5b Demonstrate understanding of frequently occurring verbs and adjectives by relating them to their opposites (antonyms).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5c Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., note places at school that are colorful).
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.5d Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g., walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.6 Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.

That’s only the ELA standards.  I haven’t even gotten to the Math Standards.  But do I really need to?  I know you skimmed right over the ELA ones.  The point is… children can learn and have fun through well planned and thought out play centers.  I don’t want to spend my time writing it all down for others.  I want to spend my time planning, organizing, collecting, gathering, counting, writing, reading, speaking, listening, sharing, pretending, inviting, questioning, greeting, and celebrating with my students.



January Blog Challenge Day 24

TGIF (Part 1): My favorite colleague  and why I love working with her.


I met my favorite colleague, Janna,  during a job interview three years ago.  She was interviewing to replace our building principal and I had been invited to sit on the interview committee.  At the conclusion of the interview my immediate reaction was, “She’s the one!”  and she’s been my principal and friend since then.

Why do I love working with her?  Janna is the ultimate professional and all about kids.    She pushes her staff to always be the best they can be and trusts in them as professionals to make the right decisions for students.  She regularly celebrates our individual and collective accomplishments.  She values the work we do.  She is a champion for our youngest learners when they are often considered to be “just Kindergarten” by so many.  She juggles the demands of a K-4 building of over 750 students always with a smile.

Janna is more than my  principal.  I  consider her a friend.  We are Book Buddies and enjoy discussing our latest reads.  In fact,  during her interview she shared titles that influenced her leadership, I went right out and bought two of the titles right away,  Strengths Finder  by Tom Rath and The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.   Since then we’ve debated all of Malcolm Galdwell’s books, compared stories of youth basketball, football and the likenesses of our sons, swapped gardening tips, and navigated our way through learning how to use Twitter.  We do like to read for fun too, but the “thinking” books lend themselves to our great conversations.  I like to think we respectfully challenge each other on occasion.  She pops in to our classroom,often  during most chaotic times of the day, and doesn’t even seem to notice the noise level and “enthusiasm for learning” taking place.

TGIF(Part 2): My favorite colleagues  and why I like working with them.

I’m breaking the rules today.  When I posted this photo of my Kindergarten team it was Wordless Wednesday and there’s too much I have to say about my team.

20140124-195614.jpgFirst and foremost, they aren’t just my grade level team. They are my friends.

Trina – has a huge heart!  She’s  witty at just the right times,  quite useful with her Pinterest addiction, and the social event organizer of the team. Sharing stuff  and helping is the way Trina rolls.

Alyssa – the young one!  Young, but wise beyond her years. Challenging classes will do that.   She brings a touch of fresh, pure innocence to the team, which of course makes us crack up.

Kelli – the organized one!  When no one else can find it, Kelli can, or  she whips up a brand new one.  She has the ability to stay calm under any conditions such as kicking, screaming, and other assorted hostile behaviors. She too, can locate valuable items in the Pinterest world and You Tube and is always willing to share.

Beth –  the comic relief!  She helps keeps things light.  She is the official  time keeper as well as keeper of the binders, and amazing at completing charts.  Got a science question?  Ask Beth.

Becky –  the  numbers gal!  She knows everyone’s birthdate, age, spouses and children’s birthdates and ages, anniversaries and the school calendar even when it changes every year.  She’s the  Excel expert and data collector of the team. She hosts an awesome Pumpkin carving event each Halloween for us all.

I enjoyed taking time to reflect for this challenge.  Actually, I’ve been reflecting on my colleagues for quite some time.  You see, the principal will be leaving to open a new school in our district and our team will ultimately be split up to accommodate the two buildings.  I’m treasuring each day we have left together.

January Blog Challenge Day 23

Share your easy-peasy, default favourite dinner recipe.


That’s an easy-peasy one for sure!  Simply throw a chuck roast (even if it’s frozen) into the Slow Cooker and sprinkle a package of Lipton Onion Soup mix over the meat.  Add carrots, potatoes, and a cup of water.  Set the heat at low for 8 hours and go to work.  When you come home, the house smells like someone’s been in the kitchen cooking all day.  The aroma  meets you at the back door.

This recipe is great for staff meeting nights when you want to have something ready once you get home.  It’s also great for the nights when the window of opportunity for eating between school and an evening event is limited.  I fix this meal once a week  at our house because everyone likes it and it feels like I’m providing a home-cooked, hot family dinner.  Try it!

January Blog Challenge Day 22

A photo of your work area.

I created this work space in our extra bedroom while on a run one summer day down Jacobsen Road. I normally enjoy looking at all the beautiful trees, gardens, homes, and scenery along the way. I make it a rule to say “hi” to any runners, bikers, and walkers I come upon during my runs.  However, on this one particular morning, garbage day, I spotted a long rectangular utility table on the side of the road waiting to be picked up and hauled away. It’s not the nice, new collapsible lightweight plastic type, but rather the old type made of pressed particle board and laminate top that weighs a ton.

At first I ran right past it, but for the next mile I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  I thought about how that table would look pretty good all cleaned up and how perfect it’d be for scrapbooking. I was almost  sure it was the perfect length to fit right inside an alcove in our extra bedroom. Well, then I had to pick up the pace and run a little faster to get home so I could go pick it up on the back of my husbands truck.  I didn’t want anyone else to scoop it up before me.

It only took a minute of convincing and my husband, who knows me well enough to know that I’d go get it myself if I had to,  to help load it up.  I quickly measure the alcove and headed and jumped into the truck to see if the table was destined to be mine.  Seventy-eight inches!  Please let it be less than 78 inches.  Measured in at 72 inches.  Mine!

I’m proud of my discovery and even happier with  the idea of wrapping scrapbook paper around the four paint cans  and  two boards I found in the basement to create shelves.  It’s not fancy and trust me, it’s never quite as clean as it looks above, but it’s mine!    My work space is a  “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” story connection each year when we read Junk Day on Juniper Street by Lilian Moore.

January Blog Challenge Day 20


Monday List: 5 things you drink or eat every ( or nearly every) day.

Coffee -with French vanilla creamer

Smoothie – juice, Greek yogurt, spinach, kale, banana, strawberries, blueberries, flaxseed, and protein powder

Oatmeal or Soup – either one as long as I can use my white mug

Carrots and a Cutie – or two!

Tea – peppermint please!