One Sunflower

This school is your school, this school is my school….

Our performance at the assembly was a success – but not because my students all got on stage without crying, or that most of them actually chanted and sang.  It was a success because I witnessed my students realizing they were a part of, and appreciating, community.

They paid attention to the student announcers.  They clapped for their peers and called out when their cousins names were called up to receive certificates.  They tried to sing along with the school song – a song they’ve only heard once before. 

 But most of all, they looked at themselves as belonging to something and took pride in what they themselves had to offer the community of students around them.  

(Of course the rest of the day wasn’t all that great, but I’ll savor this snippet for awhile.)

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show time!

It can be shamelessly fun to put on a preschool production.

When my preschool joined the elementary school 4 years ago I wasn’t sure how much we would be a “part” of the school.  As it has turned out, it has been a bit of a smorgasbord experience.  There are some things we can’t take part in – because they are not on the preschool menu – such as library, music, art, formal PE instruction.  But there are other typical school experiences that we do enjoy – riding school buses, eating in the cafeteria, using the playshed when it is raining, sharing bathrooms and hallways with older students.  (As a teacher who was used to working in a church basement by myself, I have enjoyed what I consider luxuries:  a workroom, copier, laminator, school supplies, cooks and custodial help, a nurse, secretarial staff, a principal and colleagues.) 

One unexpected opportunity has been the invitation to go to all-school assemblies.  The school had to adjust a bit to accomodate us – we’re only in school in the morning.  So, twice a year the school has a morning assembly – once in November after my students have become comfortable in the school setting – and then in the spring.  At the spring assembly our classroom get a turn to take the stage!

Tomorrow is the day.  I am not a “big show” type of teacher.  I try to choose activities that my students have been doing already and just enhance them.  The first year we made monkey masks and I read Caps for Sale while a friend mimed the peddler character and the kids were themselves – with monkey masks on.  One year we sang Apples and Bananas, another year we did Itsy Bitsy Spider. 

I sort of forgot that the assembly was coming up until about 2 weeks ago.  I decided to do something with Slippery Fish by Charlotte Diamond because it has been a hands-down favorite this year. When I remembered that we were going to have a 5-day week because of making up a snow-day, I decided to use each day to make a picture of the sea life in the song. Some coloring sheets came from the internet but I tried to include some sensory art experiences.  I ended up with a daily schedule and activities that paced the project over the week and gave us opportunities to briefly look at sea life.

I copied and cut out the fish for Monday morning’s check in work.  The kids have done crayon and paint washes before so they knew the crayon would resist the paint.  At our small group time I read through a sea life book with the kids to talk about  fish characteristics in general before we did our blue wash.

On Tuesday, we read Gail Gibbons book How to Hide an Octopus and then made our hand over hand handprints.  We decorated them with tentacles at Wednesday morning’s check-in.  Wednesday’s small group book was all about big and little animal life – including sea life.  Then we did tissue and foil collage on paper.  (I’d intended to use it for our “flashing tunas” but it didn’t work. The kids had nice, messy fun – but I ended up creating their tunas for them yesterday morning so they’d be ready for our books.)

Thursday was shark day.  We talked through a picture book all about sharks and big fish and then I showed the kids how to cut triangle teeth and put their shark heads together.  We had practiced angry eyebrows in the beginning of the year so many of them added that feature to their lurking sharks. My afternoon story tell was about seeing an Orca whale when I was boating in the Hood Canal one year.  That story was a prep for Friday’s activity.


Friday was a repeat of Monday in that the students colored their Orcas for check in work and then created a story for their whales at group time – their stories were a lot like mine of course.

Maestra and I worked on Monday to glue pages back to back, laminate and bind each book.  Today we asked everyone to choose their favorite page they want to hold up when we sing the song on stage tomorrow. Most of them are choosing to hold up tunas and sharks.  They hadn’t seen the tunas until today so I think that is why it is a favorite – they have glitter – preschool heaven!


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injust spring…

student portrait of me

I almost went to school without my tooth today.  I was 2 miles down the road and had to turn around and fetch my “flipper” – (retainer) – with the false front tooth attached.  I dread the day I get 10 miles down the road without my tooth! 

It’s that time of year when my brain is maxed out, I feel like my abilities have been tapped out and I wonder how I’m supposed to keep doing this job.

Spring vacation is next week and I’m sure that will improve my frame of mind.   But with assessments due in 4 weeks, program evaluations ramping into high gear, and district budgeting beginning its interminable process, the end of the year is a stressful time.

I enjoy the units we do in the spring – our caterpillars will arrive after break, we’ll go on a field trip to a farm with a pond and we’ll begin planting flowers and vegetables.  The weeks will fly by, I will put together student portfolios and be amazed at the progress the kids have made.  All too soon we will be eating hamburgers at our end-of-the-year family picnic and I’ll be scrubbing tables and somehow packing everything into cabinets. 

But right now I feel a bit mired in the mud of it all.

It’s April.