The Last Day of Kindergarten

Thursday, 28 May 2020 No comments

As we all know, this school year can be described as anything but typical.  The last two months proved to be tough with everyone being thrown into distance learning, but we all survived!  After completing all that, the only thing left to do was find a way to end the school year appropriately.  I wanted to find the best way possible to give my students and myself some closure for our school year so that we could all enjoy our summer and then prepare for what’s next in the upcoming school year.

Typically, we have a cap and gown graduation ceremony for the kindergarten students.  It’s always the sweetest little program and each student gets an opportunity to shine by reciting a nursery rhyme into the microphone.  Sadly, we didn’t get to do that this year, but I wanted to find a way to to let them have their special moment and know that they are amazing.  So, I created a Virtual Graduation, which I hosted on Google Meet (Zoom decided not to work for me that day, so I had to move quick and switch to Google at the last minute!).

The Virtual Graduation is basically a Power Point Presentation.  Each student had a whole slide dedicated to him or her.  Their name was at the top and a picture of them was included on the slide.  I chose three accomplishments to share with everyone about that child, as well as something I will miss about them.  Each student was also given a special award, which was listed at the bottom of the slide.  I wasn’t sure that this was enough, but after we did the Virtual Graduation and got offline, I received amazing feedback from my student’s parents!  It made me feel so much better about it and I knew that it was all worth it.  Get the Virtual Graduation here!

Here is one of the actual slides from my Virtual Graduation.  This little cutie is my cousin's daughter, who was in my class this year, and makes the perfect model for me! 😊

After we completed the ceremony, I created a video to post for my class of me reading a story to them.  I read “The Last Day of Kindergarten” and it talks about a lot of the things you might typically do on the last day.  So it was a bit sad (I may have teared up a little), but it gave me an opportunity to discuss that most school years won’t end this way and what normally happens, and it concludes by letting them know they are now first graders!  Once I posted the video and the kids watched it, I received lots of positive feedback from the families, as well as some tears.  I really think it helped give us all some closure.  

Please don't mind this screenshot I took from the video of me reading to my class--mouth wide open and all. 😆
The next day was a Friday, and we were given permission for our students to stop and pick up their personal belongings and things that were in the classroom.  My kindergarten team took advantage of this and decided we would set up the classroom similar to something we normally do on graduation day. 

Paige was very proud to receive the Wonderful Writer award!
We usually do some personal gifts for the students and have graduation balloons to make things look festive.  We followed through with this and created a schedule for one student to come at a time to maintain proper social distancing.  On their desk we had a kindergarten diploma for them, a hat and certificate displaying their special award (you can get those here on TPT), a framed silhouette photo of them that a local photographer created (shoutout to PS Photography + Films for an amazing job!), the class face t-shirt they helped create, their graduation sign which we used for a photo prop that they could take home and display in their yard, their Lexia medal if they passed level 5 (a goal we work on all year), and a gift bag with a few treats, photo album with pictures of them throughout the year, and a festive balloon tied to the handle.

This is what they saw on their desk as they walked into the room.
The kids were so excited with all their goodies and it really gave them a sense that the year was officially over and they were moving on.  I had a graduation cap and gown on hand, and they each had an opportunity to take a graduation picture.  We talked a little about moving on to first grade, which made me sad that I didn’t get to ease them into the transition them like I usually do by visiting their future classroom and teacher, but I think it really helped us close out this school year.  They left knowing that they were loved, kindergarten was a blast (which is always evident when we flip through their photo albums), and now it’s time for first grade.

As I’ve been at school working these last few days, packing up my classroom and completing end of the year paperwork, I’ve had time to reflect on the past school year.  Now that everything is complete, I’m ready to enjoy summer and plan for next year.  We don’t know what the future will bring us with COVID-19, but I’m praying for the best beginning possible for next school year!

Hatching Baby Chicks!

Thursday, 14 May 2020 No comments

One of the chicks that hatched this year! 🐥
Spring in my classroom is one of my favorite times of year!  It’s a time of new beginnings in nature and I love teaching my class about that.  One of my favorite activities is learning about the life cycle of a chicken and incubating our very own chicken eggs!  Of course, due to COVID-19, this has really thrown a wrench in things.  But, I didn’t miss a beat and decided to bring the classroom into my home!
I have the cage all set up in my garage for the chicks when they hatch!
I have been incubating and hatching chicken eggs for over 10 years in my classroom.  The first time I ever did this was during my student teaching and we actually hatched duck eggs then.  To be able to continue the tradition, I incubated and hatched chickens at home and each day I recorded the kids daily video updates!  It was definitely a different experience than what I typically have in my classroom.  I had to find a safe place at home where I didn’t have to worry about the eggs being disturbed……so they ended up in my bedroom!  I never thought I’d have chickens in my bedroom, but here we are! Haha
I have the incubator set up and ready to go on my nightstand!
The process of hatching chicken eggs take about 21 days.  I love teaching about the life cycle with fun activities and videos.  Once we learn all the basics, we place the eggs in the incubator.  I try to let the kids be as involved as possible in the process, especially since this is likely their first (and only) time experiencing this miracle of life!  We start counting each day until we get to 21 (sometimes the chickens may surprise us and we will have some early or late hatchers). 

This year, since we weren’t at school, I didn’t get as many eggs from a local farmer.  Usually, I will get around 40 eggs, which is enough to fill the incubator.  All the eggs aren’t fertilized, so they won’t all have a chicken growing inside to hatch.  This year, I only got 12 eggs and we had chickens hatch from two of them.  The hatch rate can vary, although we “candle” the eggs throughout the process so we can see how many chicks to be expecting.

We had two chicks that hatched out of the 12 eggs!  They really surprised me this year and the first one hatched on day 20 and the second one on day 21!
Hatching chicks is definitely one of the most exciting times of year in our classroom!  I hate that the students weren’t there to experience it all first hand, but I’m glad I was able to do this for them at home and do mini-lessons and video updates.  This is definitely something you can do in your own classroom and is an amazing opportunity for your students to experience the miracle of life!  Let me know if you need any help getting this started in your classroom and I’d be happy to answer all your questions!

Virtual Graduation & Other Ideas

Thursday, 7 May 2020 No comments
"Peace Out Kindergarten."  Here's a throwback to the last day of school in 2019 when we were packing up our classrooms for summer cleaning.
We are all entering some unknown territory as our school year comes to an end and we won’t get the chance to go back and close out the year with our kinderbabies (or whatever grade you teach).  I have been working hard to pull together some end of the year gifts and come up with some ideas to celebrate our year.  To see some of the gift ideas I am currently working on for my students, go back to Monday’s post.

Each year, we always have a kindergarten graduation ceremony complete with caps and gowns.  I already know that we won’t be able to make this happen this year, so I have been working on something I can do online with my students and their families!  I have created a Power Point Presentation, which I plan to present to my families via Zoom. 

You can purchase this completely editable file from my TPT store if you are interested in doing this with your class.  There is a beginning slide with sound effects (which you can edit).  Next, there is a slide for each student in which you can list their accomplishments for the year, add a picture of them, list a class award, and tell something you will miss about them!  All of that is also completely editable and can be changed, reworded, or taken off.  At the end of the presentation, I created a slide to conclude the virtual graduation.  This is a great place to include a class picture or a Word Art image like I used—more about this in a moment. 

This virtual graduation is different than anything I’ve ever done.  I know it will be different for students and parents to be sitting at home watching on their computer screen, but I wanted something that would keep them engaged.  I didn’t want it to take too long to watch as I present it live to the families, yet something that will give the students a special moment of recognition they deserve.  And, of course, I still have plenty of time to tweak it and make changes before I schedule a date to present this to them.

At the end of the Power Point, you will see the Word Art I created to use in my classroom’s Virtual Graduation.  I created this at completely free (although there is an option to purchase a higher quality image) by entering Kindergarten on the first line, then each student’s name on the following lines.  You can choose the image shape (there are other options besides a graduation cap) and personalize it with any colors you want, including the classic black and white.  This is a really neat website and can be another great graduation gift (or Mother’s/Father’s Day) for your students!  It’s literally FREE and you can use their name and some words to describe them, purchase a frame from the Dollar Tree for $1, and have a nice framed gift for each of your students!  You can’t beat that price for such a beautiful keepsake gift!

I hope this has been helpful and given you more some ideas on how to conclude your year with your students.  I’d love to hear all the other things that you are doing with your class, so feel free to comment below or on our Facebook page!

End of Year Celebrations!

Monday, 4 May 2020 No comments
Here is a picture with my little brother before his graduation ceremony several years ago.
Happy Monday!  I can’t believe it’s already May and the school year is winding down for me.  I know several states have already closed for the year, but some of us (like in Kentucky) are still doing Distance Learning.  While this year isn’t ending ideally, I am still trying to find ways to help my kindergarteners celebrate the end of the year on a positive note.

Typically, we have a formal graduation ceremony for our kindergarteners.  It is during the school day, the students wear a cap and gown, they each say a nursery rhyme, sing a song as a class, and their parents watch all teary-eyed and gets lots of beautiful pictures of that special moment.  It really is a sweet, little program and a way to celebrate the end of their first year of school!  But, this year, things will be very different.

We are all in the middle of the Coronavirus Pandemic and there will not be any ceremonies.  Due to social distancing, we won’t be having any get-togethers.  It all feels so wrong to not be able to celebrate with our kids and let them have a special moment with their friends.  So, I decided to share a few things with you that I plan to do for my class to help end our amazing year together!

Every year, I always make a slideshow of pictures.  This slideshow will be pictures I have from the beginning of the year to the end.  I use iMovie to make this and include lots of fun, upbeat songs (and a few tear jerkers).  I like to post the video as a private video on YouTube, so only those I invite to watch it (parents) can see it.  This way I don’t have to worry about a CD getting broken or not working.  The video is always there, but it maintains privacy of my students.

Here is a list of some of my favorite songs to use in the slideshow.  I have linked them all to YouTube so that you can quickly preview the songs.  I do not always use them all and sometimes new songs get added to my list as I discover them.

We're Going to Be Friends by White Stripes
Count on Me by Bruno Mars
Better Together by Jack Johnson
True Friends by Hannah Montana
Butterfly Fly Away by Miley Cyrus
Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift
Jungle Gym by Jack Johnson
A Friend Like You by Andy Grammar
A Million Dream by Pink
Brave by Sara Bareilles
You've Got A Friend in Me by Randy Newman
Another little gift I have gotten for my students this year is a class t-shirt.  We typically order these shirts every year from a local shirt maker.  However, they are closed this year and we found another awesome option with  I mailed a template to each of my students for them to draw their face and write their name.   I mail all the templates back to the company and they put together a super cute shirt design for me!  If you want to check them out, they have an awesome deal this month for $8 per shirt using the promo code “COVID-19.”  This will be a great memory for my students and the shirts are always super cute!  Here is an example of a past shirt.  We usually wear these on our class field trips in the spring, but we won't be having any of those this year. 😢

One thing that I will be doing for my students this year is making them a yard sign.  I wanted a way for them to feel special and get some recognition for completing their kindergarten year.  I will laminate the sign and attach it to a stick (like a paint stick) to make them a cost effective gift!  You can purchase this from my TPT store by clicking here.  There is an editable version and two versions that are ready to print.

I still have several other things in the works for my class, but I hope this has given you some new ideas.  Please feel free to share some of the things you are planning to do with your class on the Facebook page!

Free For All Friday

Friday, 1 May 2020 No comments

It’s Fri-Yay people!  These days, saying that doesn’t feel as exciting as it used to, but we are still going to get pumped—even if we are working from home and miss our school babies like crazy! I’ve officially survived my first week as a blogger and feel like I’ve gotten to know some of you a little better!  It has been a great launch and I hope you have learned a little about me and I’ve shared some ideas that you will be able to use in your own classroom (and distance learning classrooms!).  It’s amazing to connect with other teachers and educators from all over and I’m excited about some collaboration projects I have in mind for the future!

But anyway, we all love a good deal and we definitely love a good FREEBIE!  So, today I am sharing some of my most favorite TPT freebies with you.  These are files that I have downloaded and continue to use from year to year.  Sometimes I add my own twist or change things up, but these all have some awesome content that I love using in my classroom! 

1)   Six Weeks Kindergarten Send Home Plans by The Kinder Life totally saved me on Distance Learning plans.  I was able to slap on some standards, add my own vocabulary words and numbers, and send it as work for them to do at home.  The kids have LOVED it!  Fun, engaging, and minimal work for me.
2)   2019-2021 Editable Calendar by Sarah Kirby—I use this calendar every year as she often updates it.  You can edit right in the document to do a snack calendar, events, monthly programs, or whatever your need may be.  The calendars are colorful and cutesy!  So easy to use!
3)   Name Activity Editable by Khrys Greco—This is great, especially for the beginning of the year.  It’s totally free and you just have to type in the student’s name.  It's an awesome resource!
4)   Free Editable Homework Folder Covers by Kinder Inspiration—I LOVE these and use them every year.  You can totally personalize this file, so I often change my fonts and wording.  I slide it in a plastic sheet protector and it is the first thing that goes on the prongs of their homework/reading folder that goes home daily.  It lasts all year, and if the folder gets lost, it makes it easy to be returned to my classroom.
5)   Crayon Hat by Crayola Queen—During the first few weeks of school, we do one color each week.  On Friday, we celebrate that color by wearing that color clothing and hat!  So, I use this printable and copy it onto the coordinating color cardstock I need for that week!  It makes an awesome hat and is also great to use with a costume, which I have done as well!

I hope these freebies are of some use to you in your classroom—whether it is now while we are all doing distance learning, or when we get back in the fall.  I did try to select freebies that weren’t holiday themed that you might want to download and start using right away.  If you think a download is awesome, please leave them a review!  I have just started loading some of my own things to TPT and it means more than you will ever know to get a positive review and some excellent feedback!