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!

January Blog Challenge Day 18

I’m in love with TECHNOLOGY right now.  I use to be afraid of it, but now I’m embracing it.  I use to make excuses to avoid using it, but now I grab my own devices and figure things out instead of waiting for somebody else to do things for me.

Here’s what. I’ve learned from being brave enough to try.

  1. The kids don’t know when you don’t know how to do something.  In fact, they can help figure things out because they are inhibited.
  2. Parents are excited to see their children learning new things like how to use Twitter and Kid Blog.
  3. Oral language actually increases due to the instant access technology provides.
  4. Kid Blog provides  an opportunity to showcase student work.
  5. Twitter and Kid Blog allows the class to connect to a world bigger than our classroom and school.
  6. I can find other amazing educators #Kinderchat who support, encourage, and inspire.
  7. I am never too old to learn new things!


#Kinderchat January Blog Challenge Day 19


If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?  

Winter in Wisconsin is making me think it would be anywhere with a beach and plenty of sunshine.  I LOVE THE BEACH!

Truth be told, I would miss something about each and every season, snowflakes, tulips, strawberries and fresh fall leaves.   I love the activities that each different season brings with it, ice skating, biking, swimming, and football.

It’s not really about location for me anyway, it’s more about being close to the people I love.  I’m pretty much all for staying close to home.  I’d love to travel, but any of those adventures would always bring me back to where I belong, home.


January #Kinderchat Blog Challenge day 17

TGIF: If I ran a school…


Every time it snowed, I send an urgent email “Everyone must take an extra recess today!” Every time it rained the same announcement would be made.  We’d grab rubber boots and umbrellas and head outside to sing and dance in the rain.  On sunny days we’d work in our garden or find a shade tree to read under.  Crisp fall days would find us searching for leaves in our Nature Area.  On windy days we would build kites and go outside to try them out.  (I originally used the words test them out, but I’m a little sour on the word test these days.)  In fact, I ran a school, we would critically evaluate whether all these tests are really necessary at all in Kindergarten.

There’s so much to learn from the great outdoors in any kind of weather.  We enjoyed working together to make this snowman today.



Whether the weather be fine,
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold,
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

 Author: unknown


#Kinderchat January Blog Challenge Day 16


Progress  report : How is your resolution going?

On  January 2nd I posted a New Year’s resolution to write more.  How is it going? Well, it’s day 16 and I’m still in this #Kinderchat challenge.  Granted, some days are easier than others.  Wordless Wednesdays!  Thank goodness for Wednesdays!  And Monday Lists.

When January is a distant memory and the daily prompts are gone,  I will know if my resolution to continue writing will prevail.  Will I find time for the writer inside to carry on?  YES!  I’m over the mountain of worry that my writing won’t measure up against great amazing bloggers I follow.  I’m writing again!  It  has allowed me the opportunity to reflect on what I love about working with young children instead of focusing on the frustrations.  Therapy!  Thanks #kinderchat for a happier, healthier me in 2014.