Saturday, October 6, 2012

Oh, The Places You'll Go...

     I've had a lot of things going on in my life recently and for some reason or another it's caused me to become very nostalgic. One of my fondest memories of my last two years at TLC was the most recent Preschool Moving Up Day. It was a day that I stressed about constantly, but it ended up being possibly the best day I've had at my job in these past two years. Just because I started this blog months after Moving Up Day happened doesn't mean I can't talk write about it right?

     Maddie, my old assistant teacher ( and I had just finished a theme on Dr. Suess in our classroom when it hit me that "Oh, The Places You'll Go" would be a great theme for Moving Up Day. Many students of all ages are given this book when they graduate and I thought that it would be a very fun theme for the ceremony. I had done one Moving Up Day on my own before this one, and was part of many of the Moving Up Days prior to that one when I worked at TLC during college and high school but I felt like I really wanted to go all out for this one. The ceremony that I had planned the year before was nice, but in my opinion there was nothing too special about it. I knew that Maddie, being the artistic person that she is, would be all for making this a memorable and special day. We started brainstorming right away.
     Some people might say that we took on more than we could handle and I'd be lying if I said we did EVERYTHING that we wanted to do but we did do an incredible amount of work. We got to work a couple of months before Moving Up Day by planning the date, how we wanted to decorate, what songs the kids would sing, what gifts we would give them and finally what color caps and gowns we would have the kids in. We settled on June 22nd and decided that we were going to go with a rainbow color scheme. We checked out Pintrest for decoration ideas (I'm still not sure if that helped us or hurt us; tooooo many ideas, not enough time!) and picked three songs for the kids to sing. We decided on "We're All In This Together" from High School Musical (that was by far their favorite song!), "You'll Be In My Heart" by Phil Collins and my favorite, "Forever Young" by Rod Stewart.

 Now that all the planning was done we just needed to execute everything. About a month out we made a checklist and decided what exactly we needed to get done in that last month and what we were just going to decided not to do. We had the "graduates" do life size self portraits and we did a quote board filled with HILARIOUS things that the kids had said over the past year. We also did two Superlative boards with things like best hair, class couple, best laugh and many others. Maddie and I wanted to give the kids something they could hold on to as a gift so we decided to get each of the graduates a copy of "Oh, The Places You'll Go" and we signed each of them as well as the director, Val, who had been with the kids every step of the way and two of the other teachers that the children had had at TLC. They were a great keepsake in my opinion. The last two things we chose to add to the ceremony was a slide show with tons of pictures of the children and a "candy bar" that the kids could enjoy at the luncheon after the ceremony. We would have been stupid to not include a slide show in the ceremony since Maddie is such an incredible photographer and had taken so many beautiful pictures of the children ( and Everything was falling into place and the children were getting more and more excited!

     The day before Moving Up Day had arrived and it felt like we had a million things to do! Maddie hadn't been feeling well, I was losing my voice (which always seems to happen when I stress out about big events) and we were both worn out from all the prep we had done for this day. We both worked our normal 8 hour shifts that day and then I went back to meet Maddie after the center closed at 5:30 and we started to get all the decorations ready. Maddie's friend and her husband came to help which was a godsend. We knew that since the ceremony was taking place in the church and they were having their regular Thursday night service we wouldn't be able to get in to decorate until at least 8 so we did as much prep as we could in the classroom. We blew up tons of balloons, we strung the flag signs, we set up the entire candy bar and we chatted and gossiped too. Oh, and of course we watched Marcel The Shell a couple times just for a good laugh. Sadly by the end of the night I sounded like him. We started getting ready for the ceremony at 5:30 that night and we didn't end up leaving until all the decorations and tables were set up at 10:00pm. Oh, and we were coming back at 6:15 the next morning to finish. It was all worth it though...

Finally the big day had arrive. All the kids were coming in dressed in their nice outfits and they knew that it was going to be a special day. Maddie and I took turns running back and forth between the classroom and the church to put the finishing touches on everything. We put a movie on for the kids so we could get their caps and gowns on and sent them all to the bathroom (we knew that at least one of them would say they had to go "potty" in the middle of the ceremony if we didn't). This is when my nerves started to kick in, and when my voice continued to give out. I hoped that everyone would love what we did and were proud of the kids for how much they had done to prepare for this day. All of the songs went really well, the kids seemed to be enjoying themselves. Val gave a nice speech at the beginning and Maddie and I read from "Oh, The Places You'll Go." Then came time for the slide show. I'm not sure if it was the fact that I was relieved things had gone so well, or that I was heart broken that I only had a couple more months with some of my kids or that Val started crying almost the second the slide show started (I almost ALWAYS cry when she cries; she's like my big sister) or if it was just a combination of all three things but I was an emotional mess during the slide show. I saw some of the parents and grandparents crying as well. I'm sure it didn't help that we picked some tear jerker songs to play in the background- ha!

     After the ceremony was over we had a huge luncheon in the church. All of them parents were telling me and Maddie how much they enjoyed the ceremony and how proud of their children and us they were. It felt great to hear those things. We had worked so hard and we had put so much time and effort into making it a day they would remember so it felt great to hear that the parents and children enjoyed it. All the kids went crazy over the candy bar, especially the rainbow cupcakes I had made for the occasion. After everything had settled and the clean-up had ended I had this overwhelming feeling like "that's it?" We had put so much into the day and it felt like it flew by. I also felt like I didn't know what I was going to spend my free time doing now that all the prep work for the day was done. I will admit though, it was nice to have some free time after it was over! I honestly don't know if I could, or will ever top that Moving Up Day. I was so proud of everything the children had done, everything that Maddie and I had done and we honestly wouldn't have been able to get it all done with out Val and Bri. This years Moving Up Day will be much harder for me to get through. The group that will the "graduating" this coming June is the first group that I've had in my room since their first day in the Preschool room. I can't believe I'm going to have to say goodbye to all of them in less than a year. I better starting planning an epic Moving Up Day for them right now... ;)


All of the LARGE pictures were taken by Maddie! Thanks for letting me use them Maddie :) All the small square ones were taken with my iPhone.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Brain, Kidneys & Ribs

It's been a few days since I've written a new post. Clearly I need to get in the habit of writing daily. You'll probably be a little thrown off by the title of this post but it's very straight forward. It's all about brains, kidneys and ribs.

Yesterday was a pretty small day in our classroom. For the bulk of the day we only had 9 kids in the room. When we were out on the playground one of the kids fell and hurt their hand. He came over to me, crying as if the world was coming to an end. I picked him up and asked him what happened. He told me he hurt his fingers and even the bones hurt. This is how the subject of brains, kidneys and ribs was started. So I asked him if he knew what the bones in his fingers were called, to which he replied, "white things." I told him that he was right and they were white but they were called phalanges. You would have thought I told him the funniest joke that anyone has ever told. Apparently he thought the word phalanges was funny. This got me thinking; kids know all their basic body parts but do they know some of the more obscure ones.
There was a group of girls next to me and I asked one of them if they knew where their brain was (I know this isn't an obscure part of your body but I was just curious). One of the little girls, Peyton, looked up and me with a huge grin on her face. Now if you knew Peyton you would know that pretty much everything that comes out of her mouth is hilarious so I should have been prepared for the following conversation...

Me: "Where is your brain?"
Peyton: "I don't know."
Me: "You don't know?"
Peyton: "I lost it."
Me: "YOU LOST IT? Where!?"
Peyton: "Back there..." (she point over her shoulder behind her.)

I could not stop laughing. She asked me what was so funny and I just hold her she was. I asked a few more kids where their brain is and I got a few more "I don't know" answers and one kid even pointed to his elbow. That's as good a place as any for your brain right? One of the boys came over and taught all the kids where their brain was. He said "guys, it's right here under your skull" and he pointed right to his forehead. Maybe he knows this because his mom is a doctor. I think he's just super smart :) Next the girl I was working with that day asked a few of the kids where their kidneys where. She got a lot of confused looks when she asked that.
Next I moved onto the ribs. I asked a few of them where their ribs where and when they told me they didn't known I would show them one at a time. I told them to run two fingers down their side and feel the bumps. I told them those were their ribs. This turned into a full on laugh-fest because I guess when you run your fingers down your side it tickles a lot. I'll take their word for it, I'm not a huge fan do being tickled.

Finally I asked them all where their heart was. Every single one of them knew the answer to that question. At least they know where the important part of their bodies are! I'm thinking of doing a little unit on the bones in your body around Halloween. After all it is an acceptable time to have a skeleton hanging up!

Kid Quote of the Day - "Miss Kelsey, we don't have regular tv anymore, we just have Nepflix!" I'm assuming he meant Netflix...

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Thinking Chair

     I posted on Facebook that I had started my blog and one of my friends, Todd, joked that I should talk about all the lifetime benefits of the "thinking chair." I laughed because Todd has picked on me quite a bit about the fact that I use a thinking chair at all but I thought it would be a good topic for my next post! 

    Todd and I have had many discussions revolving around the thinking chair that is in my classroom. These conversations usually consist of me telling him how one of my kids was sent to the thinking chair and it did no good to which he'll respond with some witty comment that sounds very much like "I told you so." I quickly shut my mouth because I know he's right.

     I don't like the idea of time out or a thinking chair but when you're dealing with 14 or more kids a day there are times when it is needed. I do my best to only send a child to the thinking chair when he or she becomes physical and becomes a danger to the other kids. The key phrase in that last sentence was, "I do my best". This obviously isn't the case.  I've sent kids there for not listening, for teasing their friends or talking back to the teachers in the classroom. Ive sent them there for lying or taking toys from another child. Maybe those all aren't good reasons for a child to have to sit in the thinking chair but at the time I thought they were. 

     I've had kids that throw the thinking chair, kids that have flipped it over and stood on it, kids that have purposely slid out of it and scratched their backs so they can get out of the chair. The thinking chair sits against our shelf of art supplies so I've also had kids sit in it and reach around to grab crayons, markers, scissors and other items and throw them across the room or at teachers and other kids. Clearly the thinking chair sometimes does more harm than good...

     Recently I created an area in the room called the "Think Tank." This is a small section of the room that has a fluffy purple carpet and comfy reading pillow. It's also the home to our class fish whose name is Bubbles. I made this little section of the room so I could send kids there to "cool down" when I could see they needed it. Maybe they have to share a toy they don't want to or a friend knocks over a building that they have spent the last 20 minutes building. If I see that child getting frustrated, angry or upset I have them go cool down in the Think Tank with Bubbles so a fight doesn't break out in the middle of the room. Trust me, the last thing I need is the next Fight Club breaking out in the middle of the preschool room. I have way too many kids that would like to jump in and get some of their pent up frustration out!

                                                         "THINK TANK"
     I guess the whole point of this post is to ask the question, does the thinking chair really work? I'd like to say yes but I'm pretty sure I'd be lying if I did. I don't think that kids learn their lesson from sitting in a chair for three minutes, I think they learn their lesson when you take the time to sit when them and calmly explain why what they did was unacceptable. Children thrive off of positive reinforcement, not negative. I guess instead of calling out the kid who  hit the other kid with a  wooden block I should praise the kid who walked over to the hurt child and asked of they are okay. 

     So Todd, if you stuck in there and read this whole post, I have to admit now that you are right. You always are aren't you? And parents who are reading this, don't be surprised if you walk into our room in the next week or so and see that the infamous thinking chair is gone. I'm sure i'll have a classroom full of excited children when that day comes!

Kid Quote of the Day - "My mommy says I'm naughty all the time. That's why she sends me to school."  Ohhhhh, fantastic :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Just the beginning...

     I'm a daughter, a sister, a friend, a part time wedding planner but more importantly a preschool teacher. 

     I've worked at the same daycare since I was 14 years old. I started part time while I was in high school and through my first two years in college. I still remember the day I left TLC so I could attend Oneonta to finish my bachelors degree. I remember feeling like that place was my second home and I was leaving my second family. I cried so hard when I walked out the door on my last day (or what I thought was going to be my last day). 

     Once I finished at Oneonta, with a degree that I'll probably never use, I realized that it was time to get a full time job. I could have gone into the music field since I went to school for Music Industry but all I wanted to do was to get back into childcare. I applied and interviewed at quite a few places and was offered jobs at all of them but none of them felt like TLC did when I was growing up.

     So, I contacted Val, who has worked at TLC for as long as I can remember (she even worked with my mom when she was there for a couple years) and I told her I'd be interested in a job. Luckily there was an assistant teacher job available and I took it right away! It was a crazy first few months but soon after I got back the head teacher in my classroom decided to leave and I stepped into the head teacher position. That was a year and 8 months ago...

     It's been a crazy 20 months and I'd be lying to you if I said there weren't a few times that I wanted to walk away. It's been stressful but when I walk into my classroom and I get a hug or an "I love you Miss Kelsey" from one of those kids I know that I'm right where I belong. I love each of the kids in my class like they were my own. I watch them laugh and play, cry and scream. Throw fits that make you want to rip your hair out but as soon as you see them smile it melts your heart.

     I want to use this blog to talk about the best and the worst parts about being a preschool teacher. I want to share my ideas and funny things that happen in my classroom; trust me there are a lot of funny things that happen on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy this's just the beginning :)

Kid Quote of the Day: "I have a tendency to get grumpy." I could not believe one of my 4 year olds said that today. What 4 year old uses the word tendency?