Poetry Friday: Hello, Spring!

Poetry Friday round-up is with Brenda at Friendly Fairy Tales.

Back in  February I wrote a #PoetryFriday post on a bitterly cold and snowy Friday. We had recently watched several inches of snow fall, which meant there was a whole lot of snow removal that needed to be done. Winter felt like it was never going to end. February can be a long month in Montana, with many days of very cold temperatures, and often our heaviest snowfalls.

Fast forward just three months, and winter is a long departed memory from everyone’s minds. It was a long winter season, and it almost felt like we slipped from winter to spring in only a few day’s time. I took my kindergartners for a spring observation walk only a couple of weeks ago, and the buds on the trees were still tightly closed, but it took only a week of warmer temperatures in the high 60s and low 70s to encourage those buds to open up and reveal their beauty within. In February what looked like dead, skeleton-like trees have now transformed into budding green trees of beauty.

For my February post, I took a picture on a quiet block here in my neighborhood. Despite the cold that day, it actually was quite picturesque. Today on my way to school, I drove to the same spot and took a picture. The side-by-side comparisons are something to behold. I can see beauty in both images, but somehow my spring photo brings a warmth to my heart and joy to my spirit.

Welcome, at long last, Spring!

Spiritual Journey Thursday: Special Days

Today our Spiritual Journey Thursday is hosted by Violet Nesdoly, and our topic is special days that are celebrated in our families. My first reaction to this topic was one of uncertainty that I had a special family tradition to share around a holiday event, birthday celebrations, or a unique special day our family celebrates.

After a little more thought, I realized that in fact we do have a very special tradition that I have made a priority as a mother of four daughters. I started the tradition with our oldest daughter, and it continued on through each girl.

We call it “Women’s Day” and it is a celebration just for my daughter and me on the day when she gets her first period. This transition from childhood is one that I wanted to mark as a celebration, and not have it be perceived by my girls as something to be embarrassed about.

Our tradition was simple, but special. We went to lunch together, and then shopping for a special gift. As I recall, each of the girls chose a simple piece of jewelry they could wear to remember our day together celebrating this milestone in their life.

We kept it simple and low-key, not announcing it to everyone – although the younger sisters were aware, and I’m sure a little envious of their older sibling’s special date with mom. This, I am quite certain, left them waiting with expectancy for the day when they too would get to be celebrated in the same way.

My girls are all nearly grown and gone now, so reflecting back on these celebratory days with them brings a smile to my face, and a hope in my heart that they too will keep this special tradition alive in their families, should they too be blessed raising daughters.

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SOL: May Day Memories of Mom

Today is May Day. I have always loved May Day. I remember once as a young girl, secretly leaving May baskets at the doorstep of friends I knew. Ringing the bell and then quickly running away was so much fun! I remember watching the look on the recipients’ faces when they opened their door to discover an unexpected surprise.

May 1 is also my mother’s birthday. I don’t have the same feeling of anticipation for May Day like I used to though, now that she is gone. She passed away a little over two years ago, and the arrival of May still stings. This year is especially hard, as we prepare to watch yet another daughter graduate from high school. I am sad she isn’t here anymore to share in the joy of these milestones.

Maybe I should renew the May Day basket ritual of my youth today. What if, In her memory, I brought joy into someone else’s day to celebrate the arrival of May? Instead of a birthday cake and presents in her honor, perhaps this could be another way to remember her and spread a little kindness and love along the way.

Happy May Day!

On Top of the Mountain!

Having taught grades 1, 2, and 3, entering the world of kindergarten this fall was daunting. I knew it would be different than teaching older grades. I knew there would be a lot of modeling, teaching, re-teaching, and more re-teaching. I knew they would need more…..but talk about ground Z-E-R-O. It wasn’t long (like by morning recess) before the reality set in; we had a long, long way to go.

I recalled many conversations with my colleagues during the three years prior when I was the instructional coach as they would share with me how unbelievable the growth of kindergartners is every year. They shared countless stories of students who arrived in September knowing little or no letter names and sounds, and yet by year’s end not only did they know all of them, but they were beginning to decode CVC words.

I could hear the stories, and I even believed them. But it didn’t become as impacting until it was my turn as the classroom teacher to sit next to more than one student in September who knew very few, if any letter names and sounds. I truly questioned my ability as their teacher to get them where they needed to be in 180 days.

Tomorrow we reach 140 days, and the growth in my students is truly remarkable. I am absolutely astonished at what I am seeing in my classroom. We are reading, writing, sharing, and playing the days away — and as the days have passed to weeks, and finally to months, they are leaps and bounds ahead of where they were in September. Their level of independence in reading and writing is thrilling to behold. We are currently writing poetry, and every day is a new adventure for all of us.

Graduation day is around the corner and I cannot wait to help each of them prepare something special to share with their families as a capstone of their kindergarten year. I am so excited to see their excitement and pride in their hard work, and bask in the joy of sharing it with the families of everyone in our class. We are a tight group, as we have had only one child leave our class early in the year, but have had no new students join us. We truly are a family, and the celebration we will share of this childhood milestone will be a day I know I will hold in my heart always, and one I hope my 19 students will as well.

Celebrate Poetry Friday: Kinders Meet Middle Graders!

For today’s #PoetryFriday, I am linking up with others with Tabatha Yeatts @ her blog, The Opposite of Indifference. Thank you for hosting our gathering today, Tabatha.

Today’s #PoetryFriday is hosted by Tabatha @ The Opposite of Indifference

I am also linking up with Ruth Ayres to #Celebrate a very exciting day of poetry writing in my class this week. Click here to read other celebration posts, or better yet, add your own. The more the merrier!

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

In my first year teaching kindergarten, I committed whole-heartedly to teaching my littles poetry during the month of April. We have read a lot of poetry over the months in anticipation for the time they would begin composing their own poems.

I am happy to report that we are making great progress! With the help of Regie Routman’s book, Kids Poems: Teaching Kindergartners to Love Poetry, I have found the process to be a great deal of fun. My kids arrive at the rug each day, eager to read poetry from other young writers, talk about what they notice, and then try it out for themselves. Most days before I send them off to write, I model writing a poem through a shared writing experience, and some days we write together.

This week our focus was food. I told them they were “foodie poets” for the day. I shared with them how much I love sweets, and that one of my favorite sweet treats is cupcake ice cream. We decided to interactively write a poem about this delicious treat together.

When we finished, we were so excited. In the moment, I suggested we share our piece with a teacher friend of mine (and maybe yours too..she’s pretty well-known in the #PoetryFriday world!) Margaret Simon. We practiced reading it several times, then I took a video of them as they read it aloud. I sent it off to her, hoping we would get her feedback before day’s end.

While my students were at lunch, I was thrilled to receive a response from not only Margaret, but two of her students. They had watched our video and decided they would write a poem in response to ours! They posted a picture of the poem along with a Voxer recording of them reading it aloud. I couldn’t wait to share this with my students!

Later that afternoon, we listened to their poem and celebrated the joy of poetry. I’m not sure they completely understood how amazing it was that technology made it possible for kids all the way across the country to see us read our poem and then send one right back to us. I tried sharing my When-I-was-in-kindergarten-we-didn’t-have-computers stories, but I’m not sure they really got it.

What I do know they got was joy in writing and sharing poetry! This experience fueled them for the next day of writing, and the next, and the next. They have yet to tire of coming back to the blank page each day and trying another poem. Sharing our pieces with each other spurs on more excitement, as our folders begin to bulge with growing anthologies. I am hoping each student will find one gem they want to take all the way to final publishing and reciting at graduation in June.

It’s right around the corner!

SOL: Don’t Get Too Close!

Now that spring has finally started its slow reveal, we are enjoying more frequent walks with our two dogs, Reece and Dug. Being cockapoos, they are naturally inquisitive and while a bit skittish as first, they can be quite social as well.

Saturday after dinner we set out down our block for an evening stroll. Just as we approached a neighbor’s fenced yard, their little dog ran to the fence, barking aggressively. Reece, in her inquisitive, hi-do-you-want-to-be-my-friend sort of way, put her snout up to the small gap between the gate and the fence for a sniff.

It was just enough room – but not for a shared sniffing each other out, but instead enough for the other dog to grab hold of Reeces lip with all the power he had – and he had a mighty grip. None of the adults saw this coming, so it was with great panic that we finally managed to break poor Reece free from his clamped down jaws.

Bloodied and a bit in shock, we walked a little further to allow her to gather her wits about her, but we could see the blood starting to drip from her beard, so we turned around and headed for home.

Upon a tentative peek inside her upper lip we could see a pretty good sized gash. The bleeding seemed manageable, but since all she wanted to do was rub her sore mouth on the rug, the couch, and anything else soft, we knew we needed to intervene. I was very worried about infection, and since it was Saturday night, (isn’t it always the weekends when these things happen?) we decided to make the trip to the emergency vet hospital.

She checked out ok, but the vet affirmed our decision to bring her in, and she prescribed an antibiotic and anti-inflammatories for the pain.

An emergency visit on a weekend comes with a cost, but we will do whatever it takes to keep our dogs healthy. This expense was manageable fortunately, and I am greatly relieved we had the option of having a place like this to take her.

And I think Reece is happy too – twice a day she gets cheese and bread wrapped around her pills, which is a total treat. And we can’t leave Dug out of the treat giving ritual – he joyfully accepts his cheese and bread right alongside Reece!

The Benefits of Being Prepared

As I was thinking about sitting down to write my slice for this week, I took a few minutes first to begin laying out my clothes for the morning. My eye caught my one-sentence journal next to the bed, so I pulled it out to see the quote for the day.

“Follow the ‘evening-tidy-up-rule’: take ten minutes before bed to do simple tidying. This calming nightly habit helps prepare you for sleep and makes mornings more serene and pleasant.”

Who knew?

I have always had a strict habit of having things ready for the next morning. I can’t handle making clothing decisions in the rush of my morning. It is so wonderful to just reach for the hangers that are all ready and waiting for me in the darkness of my bedroom in the morning as I make my way downstairs to the shower.

This “evening-tidy-up-rule” was a new one to me though. It makes a lot of sense, especially for me, a person who feels the calm when my surroundings are straightened out, piles are organized, unnecessary items are tossed, and chaos is subdued. I never considered how this might look or feel if I did it before bedtime, and that it might better prepare me for sleep.

This reminds me a little of how I try to leave my classroom each day before I go home. There are endless tidy-up routines I could spend far too long on, but the top priorities include leaving my small group table clear and ready for the morning, putting out student book boxes, and, on the best of days, the morning message is written and ready to go.

A few minutes, whether before bed, or before I leave my classroom are worth the calmer morning I gain. Do you have routines you live by at home and/or your classroom?