Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Easter egg hunt...

So today I did an Easter egg hunt with the Kindergarten class. I had it all prepared by stuffing the plastic eggs with "mini eggs" and stickers. We went outside for our gym time and I had the students sit on the log outside with their eyes closed while I hid 50 eggs on the playground. The excitement was apparent as they were not just sitting on the log they were bouncing up and down in anticipation for the hunt. When I finished "hiding" the eggs, or more specifically placing them in different areas of the playground, I gave them each a bag with their name on it and gave them three rules. Rule one: When you find an egg, put it in the bag, do not open them. Rule 3: find five eggs, each a different colour; blue, green, yellow, purple and pink. Rule 2: When you are finished finding all your eggs, come back and sit on the log until everyone is finished. Everything started off well as the children ran to find all their five eggs. It started to fall apart when I realized I made a mistake....yes, teachers make mistakes, too...I realized there were no PINK EGGS! I realized it after a couple students came to me saying they had four eggs and couldn't find the last egg, and the missing link? A pink one which I too couldn't seem to find. This is when I was thankful that children are quick to forgive and quick to make a change. I proceeded to say "OOPS Mrs. Barnes made a mistake, you can find five eggs...doesn't matter what colour. After that, things went smoothly, all the eggs were found and everyone was very excited to have a bag of plastic eggs. Lesson learned in Kindergarten today? Everyone makes mistakes and it's ok. Making mistakes simply means you are learning faster. ~Weston H. Agor It is a good thing I am in Kindergarten because apparently I am not too good with colours!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

contagious excitement

Yesterday at school I had one of the student's dad come in to talk about his job. We met him in the back parking lot and he proceeded to show us the big loader that he drives. The tires were bigger then the students! The student's dad then took them each for a ride around the parking lot as I took pictures. The children LOVED it , they had such a great time. I love the fact that this dad was so proud of his job and wanted to share it with his child's class. The children's energy was so full of excitement and awe, it was really contagious. It drew a little crowd around the doors of other people in the building (including the principal who was giving a tour of the school) from hearing all the excitement. And I have to admit, I really loved looking at the loader too, it WAS pretty cool!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I just finished up my last Parent-Teacher interviews for this school year and I have to say as nervous as I get before they happen is nothing compared to the energy I feel once they are complete. The energy isn't from me being finished them, the energy is from how awesome the parents are and how "for" the school they are. The school is a private Christian school and the parents pay tuition for their children to be taught by teachers like myself. I feel energized as the parents come one after another and inform me how much their children love school and love me as a teacher. They also tell me how they see such a change in their child from the beginning of the year to now and then they conclude it with "thank you". All I have to say is "thank YOU!". I thank the parents for sending their child to the school and allowing me the privilege of teaching them. They are handing me their treasure to take care of, to guide, to teach. That is a high calling and I do not take it lightly. It feels very empowering to know that parents trust me enough to drop off their child three days a week so I can impart Godly truths in a creative environment where they have no other choice but to learn and grow. I feel blessed in my purpose and I feel energized in the path I am walking in.
Every Monday afternoon I take the Senior Kindergartens to the school computer lab where they are able to each have their own computer and play educational games. At each computer there are headsets that they wear so as not to disturb the highschool French class going on at the same time. Well, I have realized that the headphones do very little to keep the room quiet. The students will call my name or go to talk to the classmate beside them, and their voice is always extremely loud, even shouting at times. AND they are oblivious to the fact that they are that loud. It made me wonder how often I do that in life. I, at times, say something out loud thinking I am saying it correctly and in the right tone when I am just making a lot of noise. When I am able to hear feedback from those around me and adjust my level I create a much quieter environment!
Another favourite part of being a Kindergarten teacher is when I get to decorate the classroom to go with the season or theme. I love the changes in the room and how it can look so different just by switching the pictures on the windows or bulletin boards. I have one bulletin board that has a large tree on it. As the seasons outside the classroom changes so does my tree inside the room. In the fall it is covered with colourful leaves and apples, winter time the leaves "fall off" (and I decorate it with candy canes and lights at Christmas), then snow goes on the ground at the bottom of the tree. In spring I put up blossoms and gradually add green leaves as the trees outside change. The students love the changes that happen in the classroom and I enjoy the looks of "awe" when something is different. Changing bulletin boards may not sound fun to a lot of people, but it has always been something I have looked forward to when being a Kindergarten teacher. Anything that makes a child smile, I enjoy doing...again, it's in my job description!

even Elmo!

It is coming up to Easter weekend and next week I will be doing a craft with the students that I have done every year in Kindergarten. I give them a paper and a cut out cross and at the top of the paper it says "Jesus died for...". I then give them a magazine and some scissors and tell them to cut out pictures of people. Before the craft I talk to them about how Easter is about remembering and celebrating the fact that Jesus died and rose again for everybody and how amazing His love is for us. I ask them "did Jesus die for people who do really bad things?" I go on to explain that Jesus dies for ALL people no matter who they are or what they have done. Every year, and I mean EVERY, there is always a few students who cut out pictures of toys, Disney characters and puppies. I explain to them that I asked them to cut out pictures of people because Jesus died for people. A couple years ago, when I approached one student and reminded her what she should be cutting out, she said "Jesus died for Elmo, too!" To children it is just that simple! Jesus died for all, even Elmo :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Every Friday afternoon in Kindergarten I have reading buddies. This is a time where the grade 3/4 class comes into our classroom and reads to the Kindergarten students. I find this such an important time for all of them. The grade 3/4s have an opportunity to be a reading role model as well as practice their reading skills and the kindergartens get the chance to be read to and by students that they look up to. It is a time that each one involved looks forward to. I love all programs where it brings older and younger students together. I have had grade 3/4 students come to me and say that they remember being read to in Kindergarten during reading buddies and now they think it is neat how they get to be the ones to read. One day these Kindergarten students will be the ones blessing the younger students with stories, that is pretty cool!

body language

One of my centres in the classroom is the listening centre. At the listening centre there are headphones and a CD/tape player and a book that goes with the story being played. This centre is my quietest centre. As the children put the headphones on, they are thoroughly engrossed in the story being played. I received these books recently from a parent that each came with a CD. They are so well done that the students want to hear them over and over again. As I was sitting at another centre helping out some students I looked over and one of the students was pointing at the story and the words, showing the other student where they were in the story. There were no words exchanged, just motion with the fingers, eye contact and facial expressions. It was so great to watch and it reminded me again of how powerful my body language is. There have been times during the school year where I cannot speak out loud to a child, for instance during our chapel. All the students have learned about me in the first few weeks of school was my body language. I will look over, snap my fingers, just look at them and then I end off with a wink and a reassuring smile that they made a good shift. Body language is extremely important in all areas of my teaching. It often communicates more than words do. It is just like the game Simon Says; children will often imitate what I DO not always what I SAY.

little skills I've learned

This morning in Kindergarten I was sitting at the front of the room and the students were in a semi circle in front of me. I was showing them a sheet that they would be working on and explaining it in detail. As I was explaining it I was holding it up for them to see and I was reading it from behind. When I asked if anyone had a question before we would go and sit at the tables, a student raised his hand. He asked "how are you reading that without looking at it?". I smiled and told him that I could see through the back and have learned to read things backwards. I then took a book off the shelf and showed them how teachers can also read upside down by holding a book and reading the words while looking over the top of the book. I explained I learned to do these things so that they could always see the pictures. It always amazes me the things that I do learn in Kindergarten. Little skills that I have trained myself to do over the years to allow the students to have the best experience possible in their first years of school.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


In a few weeks we will be having Grandparent's Day at our school. It is probably one of my favourite days that we do in the year. I love the aspect of honour as we have the grandparents come in and we sing songs and recite poems as a class. In my class we practice for weeks for this day to present the grandparents with something that they will cherish in their hearts. I also love the excitement of the students to show their school to their grandma, grandpa, nanna, pappa, oma, opa, and many other names for their cherished grandparents. My favourite part of Grandparent's Day happened last year. I had extra chairs brought into the classroom for the grandparents to sit on and observe their grandchildren in the classroom. Instead of sitting on those chairs, the majority of the grandparents sat on the carpet with their grandchild, or sat on the little white child chairs just to BE with their grandchild in their classroom. I saw the grandparents enjoying themselves and having FUN in Kindergarten again. I saw an environment that the children and I have created in that room of fun in learning. A non-stress place to just be themselves and enjoy life. It was quite a picture to see the joy and excitement in their they were kids again.

it's in my job description

One of the things I have learned in the years of being a Kindergarten teacher is I am required to be observant. Every afternoon as I dismiss the students I need to study them so as not to miss a change that has occurred before the next morning. If a child received a haircut, It is my duty to notice, if a child gets her nails done, it is my duty to notice, if a child has his hair spiked "specially" that morning, it is my duty to notice. The way I have mastered this is to do two things. One, look at the body language of the parents, because sometimes it is really important to them that I notice this change OR the child has been bouncing off the walls that morning because they could not WAIT to get to school to show Mrs. Barnes. And two, I observe the child. If the child (and this happens more often than you think) is bouncing up and down and is not focusing on getting their shoes on that morning, then I know there is something I need to comment on. If a child is avoiding eye contact but has a slight grin of embarrassment on their face, I know there is something that requires my attention. This was not something I learned in college, it is something I learned as I taught. It is an incredibly important and rewarding "skill". Children love to be noticed and I realized that when their teacher notices a little detail about them and makes an encouraging comment, it sets a mood...a positive space to allow them to continue to learn in a place that they know they are loved and appreciated.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Today in Kindergarten I asked at the beginning of the day "what is one exciting thing that happened during the March Break?" One student put up his hand and said that he lost a tooth. I asked him where it is now, thinking it was under his pillow, or the tooth fairy has it or something cute like that. He answered, "it's in my yard!" apparently he literally LOST his tooth and cannot find it. I thought this was a very cute story and it never ceases to amaze me how much these students make me smile. Every little story that they tell me or picture that they draw (added another one to my board this morning), makes my day brighter. Regardless of my circumstances or "feelings" this morning, it all seems to disappear when I teach and spend time with these children. I am realizing that is what happens when I walk in my purpose...

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Today is the first day of SPRING! I love spring. Spring is full of new life and new growth. I feel like I have been waiting for spring to come for a long time and yelling FINALLY! I was recently thinking of my favourite Bible verses:
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:

2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,

8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

There was a song I used to sing when I was little that said, "In His time, He makes all things beautiful in His time." Too often I want to rush into "spring" into the season that I will be "happy", but I am reminded that there is a time for all seasons and that God will make all things beautiful in HIS time. Therefore I choose to walk in patience and BE who God has called me to BE, and as I walk in that the seasons will change!

Happy spring!


So tomorrow I am back to school after a week off (March Break). I am looking forward to getting back into routine. I have also spoken to some parents who are looking forward to getting their children back into school as well. During the break as I was out with my boys I had someone say "are you enjoying the March Break or are you just surviving?" I thought this was an interesting question. I was thoroughly enjoying being with my boys for a full week, spending time with them as opposed to them being at school and me teaching. Some parents may have been just "surviving" during this break, but I believe it is choice. I could look at this past week as just a week off or I could look at it as an opportunity. An opportunity to become refreshed and also an opportunity to connect with my own children.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I love how children have such a heart to give! I had the children one time write a journal page to finish the sentence, "If I could give my mommy and daddy anything, I would give..." The answers varied from a cup of coffee, some flowers, and a green shirt. One student thought bigger and said a new house and another student said a red race car. At first thought I wondered why some of them only wrote a cup of coffee or some flowers, but each child WAS thinking big because they were thinking with their heart, it is the only way, I believe, that children know how to give. Makes me wonder how "big" my giving is to bless others. I believe it is not about the size of the gift, it is where the gift is coming from. When I give from the heart it feels big because it is given in the right way. "It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. " ~Kahlil Gibran
There are so many ideas online for Kindergarten that have been tried and true. I love reading through them and gleaning my own ideas from that to create a successful year. I enjoy trying new things each year with the children and obviously I love it when things work and they enjoy the activity or craft. I remember one sheet I found online that I thought would be alot of fun. It was a sheet of paper with a picture of two plates on it. The children were asked to draw a "yummy food" on one plate and a "yucky food" on the other plate. There was a recurring theme on the "yucky food side" with vegetables, particularly broccolli. On the "yummy food" side there were a lot of pizza, macaroni and cheese and cookies. It wasn't a surprise as that is the answer for most children. I asked one child if he has tried broccoli before and he said "no". It did lead into a conversation about how it is important to try all foods because you don't know if you like it or not until you try it. He drew broccoli because he had decided already that he didn't like it. I wonder how many times I have made a decision before I have even "tried it". I already have an opinion and therefore I will not move forward with it due to a preconceived idea that I will fail or it just won't work. Instead I can choose to "try it" or better yet just commit to it and take the steps to make my own opinion, not base it on someone else's.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Last year for one of the show and tell's in my class I asked the students to bring in something about what their dad does for a job. I always find it interesting to hear the different types of jobs that the dads are doing. One student brought in a picture and gave clues. The clues were something like, "It's fun and my dad does it for a job"...simple and we got the idea. The class had their time to guess and then came the reveal. She showed the picture and she said "My dad rides his motorcycle for a job." It turns out he drives his motorcycle TO his job, but I found that out later. A lot of Kindergarten children, if you were to ask them what their dad does at work, would probably answer "I don't know." However, if you asked a child what their dad really likes to do, they more often then not have a more immediate answer for that question. I believe it has to do with passion. I know if I am passionate about something, everyone knows about it. "Follow your passion, and success will follow you. ~Terri Guillemets" What are you passionate about?

positive possibilities!

At the beginning of last year's class I had the children sit down for an activity at the table involving cutting and gluing. As the children were getting settled in their seats, I looked over at this one student who looked about ready to cry. I knelt down beside her and asked what was wrong. She answered "I'm allergic to scissors!" Again, attempting not to laugh, I was able to talk to her and convince her that cutting paper can be fun and I would help her through it. I do not know why she thought she was allergic to scissors, but I do know that she did not have confidence in herself that she could do it. She had already decided that she couldn't. "Whether you think you can't, or think you can, you're right !(Henry Ford)" I find, for me, in the past it had become too easy to convince myself that I couldn't do something. Now, as my perception of myself has changed, I have begun to realize that it is just as easy (and FUN) to tell myself that I can...and I deserve it! When I change my thinking into positive possibilities, I can accomplish anything I put my heart into.

learning styles

Last week we had a visit from the Humane's Society to teach the students about animal safety, particularly around dogs. It was very well presented and the children were taught how to "stand like a tree" if a strange dog approached them, and to tuck like a rock if a dog knocked them over. They even got a chance to practice it. I found this to be an excellent source of information for them because children are extremely trusting, and if a dog "looks friendly or acts friendly" they automatically assume it IS friendly. The students have not forgotten the lesson because it was practical, well taught and practiced. I know that at times I have seen students in the classroom who stare at me blankly after I have taught them something and they just are not understanding. It is at those times I have shifted my lesson, retaught it in a different way that is more practical and related to them. In that I have continued to remember and practice that not every child learns the same way and so a lesson needs to be taught using different methods of learning...Visual, Auditory, and kinesthetic (hands-on). It is not always easy to figure out which learning style works for which child, but with time I figure it out based on results how they learn the best. It has challenged me to plan my lessons accordingly as I only want the best results from my students. When they learn something new and they understand it, it builds their confidence and trust in themselves that "YES THEY CAN!"

"honour" as my foundation

Every December in Kindergarten, right before Christmas, I have the children decorate mini gingerbread houses. In the first few years I would put the together the morning of and the children would decorate them, but some were often in tears because the house was not strong enough and they would push the candies on so hard the house would come tumbling down. I learned from that and started making them the day before to give the icing a chance to harden and therefore making the house stronger. It is so important in my classroom to set the children up to win in all areas. Preparation is key and also making sure I have a strong foundation. My foundation in the classroom is set in September when I teach the children the rules of the classroom and the school, and also my expectations on how they will need to behave. This school year the "foundation of the school" is on honour. Honouring God, those in authority, others and those entrusted to us. It is based on the Honour series by John Beveere. This has been an amazing foundation for me to build on in the classroom in everything that I do. When the children sit on the carpet I ask them to sit "honouring" me as the teacher or whoever is speaking at that time. It also comes up on the playground if an unkind word is said, I ask "Is that honouring the other person?" It has been an amazing concept that the children easily understand and can use in every area of their life. It is also something that I am constantly learning about as I teach and work along side my fellow teachers. I ask myself the same question, "Is that honouring the other person?" I choose to honour one another in love, in ALL areas of my life, and in that be a positive role model to the children who are watching me.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

my toolbox

It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you're not. ~Author Unknown

There have been many times in my 10 years of teaching that I have compared myself to other teachers and their methods of teaching. In comparing myself I sold myself short and told myself I wasn't good enough and I am not the best teacher for these children. I have even questioned if this was something I wanted to continue doing. I was constantly holding myself back from who God created me to be. I now believe He has called me to teaching and he has given me the tools to teach these children. I had, just for a time, kept that tool box closed in believing who I am not and it was getting very dusty. Now that the toolbox is now opened and in use, I have an infinite amount of tools and I am still discovering some of them everyday. Some of the tools in my toolbox are:
An adjustable wrench-for those times my attitude or viewpoint on a situation needs to be adjusted
A measuring tape-to measure my relationship with the students and the parents, and to look at myself; Am I measuring up to others?
A level-for helping me do things with precision, keeping things in line
What's in your toolbox?

view on change

One morning in Kindergarten I asked the children how their weekend was and what did they do. I like to do this every Monday, as it is a good exercise of memory for them. One little girl raised her hand and said, "I had an awful weekend!" I was concerned and asked her why and what happened. She replied "My brain stopped working!" Yes, I laughed! I didn't go into the details of how if her brain really did stop working it would be quite serious, I just asked how she was feeling now and she answered that she was fine now. It is these cute little stories that keep me going during times when I feel like MY brain isn't working properly. When I feel like I have no more creative juices anymore and I seem to be doing the same thing over and over again. I am thankful for a very creative God that I can go to for inspiration. I am amazed at times the thoughts and ideas that come at the perfect time, just when I need it to keep the class motivated. Believe it or not, not EVERYTHING that a Kindergarten teacher plans works out. A lot of times it needs to be tested and if it flops there needs to be a plan B. Each class is different, each child has their unique personalities and levels of learning. There is a quote I recently read that states "Wherever you go, go with all your heart." There are times when things won't work, but I have learned to never give up and to make a change and view the situation from a different view...and move forward with all my heart.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

a mom's job

I love show and Tell days in Kindergarten. Children love to share about their lives in fun and creative ways. The way I set up Show and Tell is I have the children bring in an item that goes with the theme I am teaching and then give clues as to what the item is. For instance, one week I had the students bring in their favourite vegetable. One child brought in corn and the clues were it is yummy, it is yellow and I eat it. The the other students get a chance to guess what it is. This is such a fun time as the items and clues that are shared during these times are generally thought up by the students themselves. One time I had the students bring in something to do with their mom's job. One student brought in something that was all covered up and the clues were; my mom does this everyday and it makes me happy. So, the clues were vague, but still we went on with guessing and there were many great ideas. The student then revealed a broom and dustpan and she said "my mommy sweeps". The student's mom was a stay at home mom and the student picked her favourite thing her mom does at home...sweeping! I remember the mom talking to me afterwards, laughing and saying, "I couldn't talk her out of it, she wanted to bring the broom." It made me think of how children really do appreciate even the little things their Mom's do and see it as important. In the Mom's eye's it was probably a silly thing to say sweeping, but in that child's eyes she saw it as something her Mom did that was important. I know what MY kids have taken for show and tell for "what my mom does for a job", and it always relates with my teaching. However, my full-time job is a mom and it is, to me, more important training up my own children. Being a mother is the greatest responsibility and I truly treasure it and would not trade it in for the world.

Monday, March 15, 2010

be sure!

So today is the beginning of March Break, a week off of teaching school. I slept in a little bit and then went and visited at one of my student's homes. Even on my break I like to be around my students! When I got there he gave me a note that he had hand written that said, "Dear Mrs. Barnes, when you come over can you play the wii with me love" and then he signed his name. These are the notes I cherish. I love the fact of them thinking of me and it doesn't take a lot for them to think of the idea to write a kind note or draw a picture. I also am not sure if they truly understand how much a note like that means to me either. It makes me wonder why I don't make it a priority to, when I think of someone, to sit down and write them a note, make a phone call, tell them I have been thinking of them or praying for them. I allow life to get in the way too often and focus on the thought of "it won't matter". Life matters, connections matter, people matter! Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered. "Yes, Piglet?" "Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw. "I just wanted to be sure of you." ~A.A. Milne I choose to be sure of the people around me :)
I love watching kids play games together. Games are an awesome tool to teach kids many skills. It not only teaches them the "skill" in the certain game they are playing, but it teaches them to take turns and that if and when they don't win, how to "not win" with a great attitude. I played a board game with the Kindergarten class this past week called "hop to 100". The object was , you guessed it, to hop to 100 completing certain tasks. Yes, there was going to be a winner and there was going to be a second place and a third place and so on. As we were playing the game the mood in the classroom started to change as they were getting closer to the end and were realizing who was getting behind and who was obviously going to be to the end first. I realized in the moment that I could change the mood in the classroom by creating a change in their thinking. So I started getting SO excited for EVERYONE at EVERY turn that they took. And with each task that was accomplished that led them closer to the end I started getting more and more excited. The mood became contagious. The students started getting excited for each other and soon enough they forgot about who was behind or ahead, they were just cheering everyone on. I know that this is not the only place this can happen. I know that my mood is contagious wherever I am. I can choose to cheer others on or focus on my "place" in life and start to get frustrated. When I choose to cheer others on in their life, my focus will become more on others and, before I know it, others will be cheering for me, too!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

even teachers get to learn!

Every year the teachers take a couple days and we go to a teacher's conference. During this time we get together with other teachers and hear ideas of lesson plans, activities we can incorporate into our classrooms, and rub shoulders with teachers who are going through the same things we are day to day. Whenever I tell my Kindergarten class about the conference and that I get to go to school too, I always get the same response? "Why do YOU need to go to school?" I like to let them know that teachers get to learn just like kids. I always tell them I am going to learn how to be a better teacher for them. I believe this is true for everyone in any profession that they do. There is a Chinese proverbs that states, "Learning is like rowing upstream: not to advance is to drop back." I may choose to learn at these teacher's conferences, but if I do not advance with that knowledge and use it to better my classroom and students, I will drop back. If I want to continue to grow as a teacher, a mother, a wife, a friend; I will choose to be in a state of learning...and move forward!

being kids

When I was in college learning how to be an effective Kindergarten teacher, I was always asked what my classes were about. I took a lot of child psychology courses and child development courses, but the main question I was asked was, "Are you learning how to play with sand and playdough or learning how to paint with primary colours?" At first I was defensive wondering if that is all people thought that Kindergarten teachers do. However, in learning those things I also learned that Kindergarten children learn by doing. They learn social skills as they play side by side with other children, they learn how to play fair, to make positive choices, to share feelings and stories in front of others which builds their confidence. The list could go on and on. Children learn by doing....and in my classroom children also learn by being. They learn to be who God made them to be and bring their own self to every aspect of the classroom. They get to be kids! They get to be loved! And they get to be real!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A couple years ago I added something to the classroom that has become a common place of comfort for the Kindergarten students. It was a couch. I put the couch in the room for a couple reasons; one was to give them a quiet place to read, the other was to have a place for them to go if they need a time to just be on their own for a moment. I remember having a place like that at my school, not only in Kindergarten, but in grade one and two as well. I remember having an old bathtub full of pillows in the back of one of our classrooms and when we were done our work we could go and read in there. I loved it, as it was a quiet place to be and a comfortable place to read a good book. I believe there needs to be places like that readily available at any age. Kids start out in Kindergarten with a love of learning to read. When they move to Grade one they continue to read and still have a passion for it. Unfortunately, in some kids, that passion seems to get lost and reading no longer is an enjoyment. It becomes homework, something that they HAVE to do. I found my love of reading again a few years ago and I really enjoy curling up with a good book. It was a passion I thought I had lost, but it still was inside me, I just rediscovered it. It makes me wonder what other childlike passions and dreams I have inside me that just need to be awakened?

reading to children

I am often encouraging parents in the importance of reading to their children. There are not only a ton of benefits to their ability to learn, but there are relational benefits to. I distinctly remember being read to as a child. I even remember a lot of the books. Some of my favourite titles that I can remember are: "Cat in the Hat" (classic Dr. Seus), "Hand Hand Finger Thumb", "But No Elephants", "Harry and the Lady Next Door", "Curious George", "Popcorn", "Where do Butterflies go when it Rains", and "Something Queer is Going On"...just to name a few! I remember my parents reading them to me and I also remember learning to read them myself. This past week in school, I was reading a book to the Kindergarten children during their rest time when I got a flashback to when I was little. I couldn't quite place it, but then I realized it was a book I had heard read to me when I was young. The book was on an audio tape and the story was word for word with the book. I realized then how thankful I am to my parents for taking the time to read to me. I also realized that it wasn't about what book they read, but about the time that was spent, and the love that came with stays in a child's heart forever, even 30 years later!

growing in independence...

One of the things that I keep getting reminded of around this time of the school year is how much kids can grow and change in their independence. In September when the students start, they seem quite young in the ways that they act and in the things they can, or rather cannot do. In March, my students have all the routines to memory, they know what to expect in regards to the schedule and the rules, and they have also become much more independent. I read this quote once that said "A kindergarten teacher is someone who loves children and hates zippers." During the winter it is a workout just to get the students all dressed helping them pull their snowpants on, tuck each pantleg over their boots, tuck mittens in sleeves, tie scarves and zipper coats. By the time the snow is gone and coats are not needed anymore, it seems to be the time the students finally learn how to zip their own zippers, tuck their own mittens and snowpants and do their own boots. It is all in the process of learning. I love how much they change from the start of the school year to when I say goodbye in June. Each "season" there is a time for learning. Whether it is learning the rules and routines in the first few months or whether it is learning how to dress themselves independently during the winter months. They may not think they are learning, but children learn by doing. The more they do it, the more they learn to be independent. So seeing the growth in the students at this time of year is great, it means I am doing my job!

Friday, March 12, 2010

skating through life

Today we went skating as a school as a sendoff for March Break. Most of the students went including 4 of the Kindergartens. One of my students was skating with his dad and kept falling. When I would skate beside him I was encouraging him with "you are fast" and he would answer "I know". When I said "you are doing a great job" he would answer with "I know". It didn't matter how many times he fell, he KNEW he was a great skater! I loved his tenacious attitude! As I kept watching him, he continued to fall and get back up and keep skating. At one point he fell and was down for a little bit longer than usual and his dad was looking at his skate. I skated over and asked if everything was alright. The dad looked at me with a grin and said "he told me to look at the blades because that MUST be the reason he keeps falling!" I couldn't hold it in I laughed, and yet when have I done that in my life? Telling people I know, yes I can, but when I keep falling I don't look at what the real problem is that is causing me to fall. If I take the time to stop what I am doing, look deep at what the root issue is that is allowing me to stumble, and create the choice to shift and move forward, then I can truly do that. Suffering IS optional and I would rather live life skating forward on my feet than constantly landing on my backside!

building strong kids!

I did an object lesson in my class in regards to the verse "Encourage one another and build each other up!" I took 10 building blocks (one for each student). As I put one down I said a kind word about one of the students, then I put another block on top of the first one as I stated another kind thing about the next student. I continued until all the blocks created a tower and each student had something kind said about them. I proceeded to then talk to the children how when we encourage one another like the verse says, we are building them up like a tower, making them feel empowered and strong. I then continued to show them that if a mean word was said, even just a little word, what would happen to the tower? I then lightly tapped the tower and, of course, it came tumbling down. I explained to the class that when a DIScouraging word or unkind thing is said that the person doesn't feel strong anymore, they feel knocked down. I encouraged them in the importance of our words how we need to "build" with positive words and not "knock down" with negative ones. Since then, I had a couple blocks at the front of the room to remind them. If an unkind word is spoken from one student to the other I refer to the wall and have them say a kind word to "rebuild". The wall is also a reminder to me to continue to encourage these students and build them up to be strong in the classroom, on the playground and at home.


Every morning while setting up the classroom to get ready to teach I love listening to the sound of the silence. It is in the silence that I hear potential. There is so much potential in the room before school starts. Potential; anything could happen today, someone WILL learn something today. I love the saying "you learn something new everyday". When I first heard it I doubted the fact that everyday I learn a new fact. I have since realized that the statement is true. I learn everyday the importance of smiling and seeing the joy in the small details of life. I learn that my students listen to every word that I say and therefore my words are powerful to bring life or death, so I choose to speak life! I also learn how to love as Jesus loves in a hug, a touch and a smile. We do have the potential to learn something new everyday, we just need to be open to that possibility. When I open my mind up to the idea that I CAN learn, I DO...even in Kindergarten!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

seasons of change

This past Monday as I was walking outside to do recess supervision, I was following a small group of Kindergartens to the playground. As I rounded the corner I was able to watch as one little girl went to slide on a piece of ice and instead fell straight into a puddle. The weather had become warm enough to melt that "ice patch" unbeknownst to this little girl. The look of shock and disbelief as she stood up was once again a time I had to bite my cheeks to keep from laughing. She had water dripping from her face and her mittens, and her snowpants and coat were completely wet. I asked her what happened and she said "um, I don't know, I thought I could slide." When I thought of this incident a bit later I wondered if I get excited about a "change" in the season of my life or if I stand there in shock wishing it was still the same. Change can be good. "Continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights. ~Pauline R. Kezer" I choose to enjoy the new seasons in my life, embrace the changes, and stretch and grow myself...and in stretching I can reach out and touch other people. Will you?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

oh be careful little hands...

There is a song I learned and still sing in Kindergarten called "Oh be careful little hands". It is a cute little song that talks about being careful what you do, for God is always watching with love. It has been a song that I taught the Kindergartens just recently because , unfortunately, there has been some hitting and pushing...not positive uses of their hands. I told them that our hands are for loving and giving and that is all part of honouring each other and ultimately honouring God. I have also challenged myself. Am what I doing in life "with my hands" loving, giving or honouring? Am I pushing people away, or hitting myself over the head with negative thoughts? I am choosing to use my hands for loving and giving; to my husband, my own children, my students, my family and anyone I come in contact with. "Honour is the reward of what we give", and like the song says, God is "looking down in love", He desires for me to be loving and giving to those He has placed in my life and in that I will be rewarded for honouring Him!

a princess for a lifetime!

I received a beautifully painted picture from one of my students. It was a picture of two Disney princesses and it was titled "Always dress for a happy ending"! When I read that I fell in love with the saying. What girl doesn't want to feel like a princess? Sometimes, though, I find myself basing that truth on what others think of me or how they treat me. Recently my thoughts have shifted to believing that I am a princess because I believe I am a princess! If I am not "dressing" myself in that "gown" of royalty and the knowledge that I am a child of the King, then even if people do happen to say it or treat me that way, I still won't believe them based on my own view on life. Kindergarten girls particularly are a perfect example of this as they love to dress up as princesses; and they play the part perfectly. They are not viewing the world from any other angle but that of "I am a princess, I am worthy, I am loved." They truly believe they are princesses! On the painting it also quotes "her gown should be as exciting as her wonderful princess life!" I am therefore constantly reminded to "put on my gown" and truly believe that I am a princess and live a wonderful princess life, because I deserve it...and so do you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

faith not fear...

Today I was outside supervising the school and one of my Kindergarten students walked up to me all excited carrying a white box with something in it. My heart jumped as I thought of all the possibilities that that student could be "showing me". Is it a snake, a frog, a bug, or something that DOESN'T move? To my relief it was a shoe string and they were just excited to give this piece of garbage to me as honouring our playground by keeping it tidy. It reminded me of the other times I have not wanted to look in the box in fear I might not like what I find. Too many assumptions are put on students, a pre-conceived way the students are bound to act based on their sibling before them or an experience someone has already had with them. I have learned to see the students who come into my classroom as clean slates, new experiences and unique dynamics to the classroom. Each have their own giftings and abilities that they get to bring to the classroom and they truly are blessings. Some may be presented to me in a way that I don't know what to expect (just like that box), but I desire to think of them as gifts of honour that I can teach and help create a school of honouring students, training them the way God has commanded me to, in faith not fear.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Smile! Pass it on! :)

I have the amazing privilege of connecting with my students on Sundays as well as during the week. Our school is affiliated with our church and therefore the majority of the students attend church with me as well. I love walking in the halls with my own boys and hearing in the background an excited "Hi, Mrs. Barnes!" I turn and smile, give a wave and ask how they are doing, if they've had a great weekend and if they are excited about school the next day. I know that in taking that 30 seconds to connect with that child is not only blessing them, but blessing their parents as well. I have had parents comment how their child was so excited that I saw them at church and took the time to say "hi" with a smile. Someone once said "if you smile at someone, they might smile back." I have the easiest job when it comes to smiling. Children seem to have an abundance of smiles inside of them. They often become the smiler and I am the recipient. It is a good reminder that I am able to set the pace of someone's day with just a simple smile. When I greet the Kindergartens each morning they are at school, or Sunday mornings in the hall, I have no idea what kind of impact or "seed" I am sowing in that child or even greater, their family that day. Like another person once said "Always remember to be happy because you never know who's falling in love with your smile." Pass it on! :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

a picture's worth a thousand words

I love how children enjoy every moment and take a lot of opportunities to share their love of life. They don't carry around the same stresses of life that most adults seem to carry. I have yet to see a child enter the class room in a huff because the car didn't start right or it snowed the night before or they just didn't get a long enough sleep. I do remember one day in early September when I held an open house for the Kindergarten class that would be starting that year. I had juice and cookies for them and allowed them the opportunity to explore the class room they would be spending a lot of time in. Near the end of the time when I was starting to say goodbye to most of the children and seeing the excited looks in their eyes for school to actually start the next day, I knelt down to ask one of the students how she was feeling and if she was looking forward to Kindergarten to start. She looked at me with her big beautiful eyes, took a deep breathe and said "I'll take it one day at a time!". I know often times in life and teaching I focus too much on the mountains looming in front of me and forget about the steps. I know I need to walk forward and in walking forward also remember to enjoy the scenery on the way up that mountain. In the scenery will be lessons and opportunities that I do not want to miss on my journey to the top. So just like that precious child said, I am going to take life one step at a time and enjoy the journey!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

everlasting smile

There are a lot of things I like to teach in Kindergarten, especially because at this age the children are like little sponges. My favourite unit or theme to teach is community helpers. During this theme I talk to the children about what job they want to do or the more important phrase "what they want to be when they grow up". I love their answers and it is usually the same each year; the boys want to be police officers or firefighters and the girls want to be mommies or dancers. Each time I teach this unit I allow them to draw a picture of what they want to be and then a sentence would be written on the bottom to explain the picture. This one particular year I had them all sit at the desks and start drawing and proceeded to go around and ask what their picture was and why they chose that. As I started going around I noticed a pattern in five of the girls' drawings; they all wanted to be Kindergarten teachers. When I was young , if anyone asked me what I wanted to be I would say a Kindergarten teacher and a Mom. The reason was, the influential people in my life including my Kindergarten teacher. I remember my Kindergarten classroom, some of the activities like sand table, painting and calendar; but what I really remember is the kindness and smile of my teacher. She was so friendly every morning I got there and she still smiled when I left each day. I thought my Kindergarten teacher knew ALL the answers. I even remember one time telling my mom she was wrong because that is NOT what my teacher said and my teacher is always right! Yes, I got in trouble for that and so now that I am in that teacher position and have my students wanting to be teachers just like me, it brings to light the possibility that my students may never forget their Kindergarten teacher or her smile. What an honour it is to impart these amazing memories into them and also the ability to constantly speak love and truth into their hearts so they truly grow up believing they are loved for who they are.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

teaching can be an aerobics class...

When I went to school to become a Kindergarten teacher, they never prepared me for the workout that was involved. Every day I teach I am constantly walking, bending over, sitting (squatting) in little tiny chairs and on my knees on their level. I find it especially noticeable during the winter months when it takes three times longer to get them ready for recess with all the snowpants, coats, boots, mittens etc. Some children love having their mittens tucked inside their coats, some love their scarf tied a certain way and my "favourite" is tucking their snowpants OVER their boots. With their little fingers it is a difficult task and therefore becomes my job:) I received an email from a parent that made me smile. It said,
"Hi, Just wanted to let you know that in "said child's" eyes you are the BEST snow pant boot coverer-uper! I (the mother) was helping him pull his snow pants over his boots before he went out to play and he said 'Do it like Mrs. Barnes, she's a teacher she is so good at it'! "
She proceeded to say how special I am in his eyes. I realized that even in the little tasks that I perform for these children to "serve" them and be the greatest teacher experience for them, I am truly making them feel loved, accepted and deserving of everything good...even having their snowpants pulled just right!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

when a child draws a smile

There are a lot of things I enjoy about teaching. One of the things that happen a lot to Kindergarten teachers is that we seem to receive a lot of pictures and little notes from our students. I love having my bulletin board on my wall beside my desk filled with colourful pictures and drawings. On most of the pictures there are cute little notes saying things like "I love you", "you are the best" and "thank you for being my teacher". One particular note brought me to tears. I received it partway through our school year from one of the little boys in my class. It was a pencil drawing of a stick figure and a picture of a sun and the words "I love you" written in kindergarten writing. I said thank you and how much I loved it. As I let him into the classroom, his mother pulled me aside and told me the significance of the drawing. This precious boy was adopted, which I was aware of. What I wasn't aware of was the fact that he has only said "I love you" to one other woman, his adopted mom. It brought me to tears and also the realization of the role that I play in these children's lives. For most of the students I am the first experience of what school is and what having another authority figure speaking into their lives is all about. It is a role I don't take lightly and it gives my the opportunity to connect with them on a great level. I have the ability to say how great they are, to laugh with them, to hug them or to wipe their tears. I am in awe of the way their eyes are glued to me as I am teaching them about patterns or shapes or how letters make sounds just like animals, I wouldn't trade that feeling for the world. The impact I make in their lives is rewarding in many ways...and I particularly see it up on the writing on my "wall".