Monday, September 06, 2010

Bulletin Boards

It's the eve of back to school for another year, I'll soon be meeting a whole new crop of 4,5 & 6 year olds. This will be my 11th year in elementary school working with kids that need the extra assistance for whatever reason; ADD, ADHD,autism, behavior issues etc. Previously I spent 18 years in the corporate world and this is where I belong. I've worked 2 years in second grade, 5 years in fifth grade and now this will be my fourth year in kindergarten. I've enjoyed every grade I've been in but fifth grade was special. I worked with the same teacher and we could read each other's minds. The fifth grade team was wonderful to work with and we had fun every single day especially at lunch. I cherish those memories. But all good things must come to an end and after 5 years I was moved to kindergarten. I was devastated. What I didn't know was that was the beginning of the end for this particular team. Our leader of the pack retired the next year, two teachers moved to the middle school and our special ed teacher moved to another grade. What I discovered was while I missed fifth grade I loved kindergarten. I'd found my niche. People kept asking me the same two questions:

Q. What grade do you like better?
A. That's hard to answer because I like them both for different reasons. With fifth graders you can talk about more things with them, current events, boys, girls, television, home life etc. Plus they come to you with previous knowledge. I loved helping with the big state report, learning about Canada and Mexico, balloons and gases in science, having my own reading group and the dreaded health unit on human growth and development. But in fifth grade other things start happening, they become more interested in the opposite sex, the girls are starting to develop, the boys are starting the whole testosterone thing (less so than the girls). The girls start to get really clicky, catty and ruthless, the boys, not so much. You can have quite the range of emotional growth too. I see it mostly in the girls. Some are still at a third grade level, they still love puppies and kittens and seem more innocent. Others are wise beyond their years. You'd think they were 16 rather than 10 & 11. In about April each year they start to stink. I mean that litter ally. They return from P.E. or recess or even come to school that way and could use deodorant. Can't their parents smell them? Honestly we have to spray air freshener. They also aren't impressed with you anymore. If you're not there they hardly notice, well some do and they don't hug you so much either. Oh and they can tie their own shoes.
Now kindergartners , they love you, are so happy to see you every single morning even if I have to come down hard on them everyday. They hug you, tell you they love you, invite you to their birthday parties. One even told me that his mom could pick me up if I could come. They're so good for your ego. The hard part is they come to you with little or no previous knowledge. More students than not can't write their name, identify numbers or letters and their sounds and some don't even know how to interact with other children. Most are eager to learn and you can really see how much they grow throughout the year. The daily routine and whole organizational piece is hard for them plus winter time is tough with the boots, coats, hat, mittens. I always dread that. In the end my answer would be that if I had my choice between fifth grade and kindergarten the winner is kindergarten - hands down.
Q. Which grade is harder?
A. No thought required, the answer is kindergarten.

Some of my favorite things to do with the little ones are art projects. Often times I trace the objects and they cut them out and glue them together to make the final project. Then they either go home or on the bulletin boards.

These two I did on my own for the first day of school last year. Since I work between two classes, two boards well actually four, two AM and two PM.

The nice thing is that my niece and nephew come in just before school starts and helps me put the boards together. What's also nice is I get to use my creative powers and think these boards up.

Heavens, we can't have anything remotely Christmas,
no trees or Santa so we call this a winter bulletin board.

Now this project was hard, I don't know what I was thinking. I only ended up doing it for one teacher but 32 kids. I drew their silhouette (that was a trip getting them to sit still), cut them out, mounted them and asked them all the same three questions. I filled out the slip at the bottom and at an open house their parents had to identify them by the silhouette and the answers to the questions. I don't think I'm doing this one again.

Go Fly a Kite was somewhat hard for them. The triangles were cut out but they had to match them up to make the kite. Even I had a little trouble with this one :)

March comes in like a lion...

and goes out like a lamb.

April Showers...
This one I traced the umbrella, they painted it with water colors
then I cut it out because it was done on heavy paper.

Bring May flowers.
I traced, they cut.
There you have it, just a tiny glimpse of kindergarten. They also learn their letters and the sounds they make, numbers and addition, how to write sentence using correct punctuation, learn about animals and insects and learn how to read. You'd be surprised, Kindergarten ain't what it used to be.


Anonymous said...

This brought back a ton of memories of grade school and of Miss Harris -- my kindergarten teacher -- and Mrs. Cleveland -- my 3rd grade teacher -- who did amazing bulletin boards I still recall to this day.

I LOVE that silhouette exercise you did. Obviously a ton of work for you,! I hope the parents were suitably impressed.

Best wishes for a great year (and more awesome bulletin boards)!

Anonymous said...

Boy I wish I knew what the 'same three questions' were that you asked the students for the silhouette project!e