Sunday, July 15, 2012

building relationships and proud momma

My Momma always told me that you can get more with honey than vinegar.  Ain't it so true!  I've always believed what my Momma told me and I've taken most of her little adages with me to the classroom.  With the beginning of school getting closer (I know some are starting in a couple of weeks! gasp!!) I've already started to think about what the first two weeks are going to look like.  Those are such special times for me as a teacher.  I might be a little different, but those two weeks (sometimes longer) are devoted entirely to building relationships with my students...I meant it.  Across the board in basically every subject.  Reading/LA and SS is pretty easy but for math we do graphing and comparing and in science we are looking at properties and classifications (of themselves of course!) I firmly believe that if you don't have a relationship with your kiddos that the rest of your year is not gonna go according to your 'GRAND PLAN'.  We all have them...plans that is.  If there is at least one thing I've learned its that sometimes you are the best thing a kid has got going for them.  And if you have their heart, you'll have their head too.  Yes, we are a Capturing Kids Hearts school butI really do believe it in.  I've always taught in a Title 1 school and lots of those kids come from really tough situations.  So it is very important to me to let them know that I am here for them, I'm not going to give up on them, and they can trust in me and the safe environment that we (our class and me) are going to build.  I'm going to try to pass on what I believe are important ways to build relationships with your kiddos so you'll all be off to a successful start!

The following come straight from CKH (Capturing Kids Hearts):

  • From day 1 and every single day I stand by my door and welcome each kid with a handshake and an eyeball hello (just looking into their eyes when saying hello).  You wouldn't believe how many kids can't do this.  They just don't look into adults eyes and hold it while they are talking.  Not even for the 3 seconds it takes to say hello.  Good thing is it doesn't take long to learn! It is also something I require them to do from then on...the eye contact thing.  It shows "I have interest in what you are saying to me" 
  • Morning Meeting - we have morning meeting for lots of reasons like discussing the day before, drawing attention to important events/agenda, etc.  but also for getting to know you activities like warm fuzzy time (which is a compliment/put up time) and tell us time (which is a telling about activity)
  • We build a class contract at the end of the first week.  This is not discipline and rules...this is how we want to treat each other in the classroom for the safest and best learning environment.  BUT if the contract is followed is really curbs unacceptable behavior during the year.  It is made up of 4 questions that the kids answer.  Make an anchor chart and write their responses on it.  It stays up all year and gets referred to often, even when things are going great!  the questions are 1) How do you want ME to treat YOU?  2)  How do you want to treat EACH OTHER? 3)  How do I want YOU to treat ME? and 4) How will we handle conflict in our room?  Make sure to be specific with words.  For instance...We want you to treat us good.  Well, kids need to know what "good" looks like in the room, so you'll want to talk about the words they choose.
The rest of the activities for the week(s) include lots of relation building activities for whole class as well as partners so the kids can spend time learning how to interact appropriately with other kids.  And I'm sure most of you do these very activities or ones that are very similar.  I mean...isnt' that part of the teaching 10 commandments...thou shall beg, borrow and steal and make it your own?
  • Get to know you bracelets - These were all over pro-teacher last year (or year before?).  Children build a bracelet and each bead tells something about the kiddo.  They LOVE this.  I've created a Roving Reporter element to lots of the things we do in the classroom and this is the first one.  Each kid picks a partner and asks questions about their bracelet.  I have a form already made with questions and they record the answers on the paper.  The partner does the same in return.  Then they "report" (using a play microphone and everything) to the class.  This is the first of the "roving reporter" activities.  When I tell them that they'll be roving for X activity boy do they get happy, happy, happy (any Duck Dynasty fans out there...holla Phil and Si).
  • the Me bag - this is much like the bracelet but they are bringing in items from home that represent themselves.  They decorate their "brag bag" which is a lunch sack and bring 5 items  from home THAT FIT IN THE BAG.  If something they want to use is too large for the bag they can bring in a picture (magazine or drawn).  We share about 2 or 3 during morning meeting.
  • M-E-N-G-O - this is a get to know you activity in the form of a bingo game.  Lots of versions out there like this.  It has squares like "went to the beach over the summer" and "has brothers or sisters".  Mine has the kids write the name of the kiddo that fulfills that square.  when a row, column or diagonal has been completed they shout "me"ngo!   
  • Name Glyph - I got this from a T book years ago just tweaked it a bit and made it fit for my group of kids.  Kids artistically design their names in bubble letters.  Yes, they "can't do that" at first.  We have our first mini art lesson, then they "CAN do it".  Each letter of their name answers a specific question.  EX.  first letter:  How do you get to school?  bus=polka dots, car=happy faces, walk=stars.  They decorate the letter with the picture that answers the question.  You can make up the questions to get any information they want to learn about.  We usually brainstorm ideas as a class on topics that we would like to learn more about.  So we are coming up with the glyph together!  SS lesson on how to work together to solve a problem! Actually there are tons of name activities we do from all the Chrysanthemum counting/graphing names activities to finding out where our names come from.  
  • Daily graphs - each morning when they come to meeting there is a question in the form of a graph.  They use stickies to answer.  We look at the information the graph gives us and then form statements about the graph.  Things like "I can see by the bar graph we made that more people prefer going to the ball park than going to the park".  This also used as a tie in to math journals.  When we start those, I tie this into it by saying the famous "think back to" line.  so...think back to the beginning of the year when we learned so much information using graphs...well, today we are going to write down and draw pictures about a graph.  Just like we did at the beginning of the year".  Lots of fun stuff to learn during math.
  • Special Students - this is a week long activity where the kids build themselves with each body part being a different getting to know you activity.  At the end of the week the kids have a large representation of themselves covered with information about themselves.  The head is an art activity of self portrait using different mediums for creating a "true to self" portrait.  The upper body is a shirt cutout that has a list of "my favorite things/close to the heart".  The shorts/pants/skirt is "one thing I did this summer" have a discussion with a partner about this.  They "interview" each other with the 5 Ws.  This is usually their first encounter with the 5 Ws so we do a mini lesson on who, what, when, where, why and how to answer those questions.  Students take notes about this on themselves, not their partner.  The partner share is just to get kids thinking and thinking about answering in correct form.  Then they write a small paragraph answering the 5 W questions.  It gets glued to the pants.  They add arms and legs, shoes etc.  These go out in the hall and they just get the biggest kick out of looking at each other all month long!
  • I also make a book about myself that introduces me, my family, my favorite things etc.  and we have one for all the staff members that the kids will come in contact with...Librarian, custodians, office staff.  Each person has their own page with their name, where they are in the building and something special about them.
These are the main things I do.  there are lots of other little things too.  As you can see, the kids really do learn alot about themselves and each other.  They find that they can instantly relate to others in the room and they don't feel so lonely or scared.  Also that they have things in common with others and therefore can build friendships.  Also, you hit all areas of the curriculum using these.  Math, reading, social studies, science,'s all there.  AND the activities are fun so the kids will do them AND they help you to lay down practical procedures of how you like things done in your room.  What I mean is you can use these to teach all the ways you like things done; like putting your name on papers, where to turn things in, art (glue...helloooo...just a dot, not alot), turn and talk to your neighbor...those kinds of things.  I hope this has helped to shed a little light on why building relationships are important and do deserve some time at the beginning of the year.  What do you do to build relationships?  I'd love to hear and to add some new activities to my stash!!

BTW...I don't know how to insert documents if you are interested in any of the documents I have just leave your email and I'll send them to you!  AND...if anyone wants to enlighten me on how to do it I'd be ever so happy.  Then I'd be able to give away more freebies!!!  Thanks!

And you know I can't get away without talking a bit about my kiddos...this time its my oldest daughter.  She is about to turn 16.  Her life is the theater and she LOVES to sing.  I which I could insert a video here but I don't know how to do that yet because she really rocked it this time!  I am so incredibly proud of her.  She even got her name in our local paper in a small write up and review of the show.  A very nice paragraph about her and her lovely voice...someone to be on the look out for.  one happy momma = ME!!!  She was Tuptim in The King and I.  She has very blond hair...we've been spraying it black every weekend.  I'm so happy that next weekend is the last.

Not that she doesn't look great with dark pocketbook is taking a huge hit and I need that money for the "88 cent isle" at Walmart!!!!!!  Look at these cool things I found today!!!!!  I can't wait to make a sentence center with these cool magnets.  Some of the words aren't for second grade but lots of them are...oooohhh yea!!!!

Have a serene Sunday everyone!
Keep Coming Back!

"I don't need no money, fortune or fame...I got all the riches one gal can claim.  I guess you'd say "What can make her feel this way"?  My Girl!!!!"


  1. You can use google docs for your freebies (that is what I do). You just upload the document into google docs, and then click share (you have to set the share setting for anyone who has the link can view the file).

    you can email me if you have any questions!


  2. You are awesome!! thanks so much for the help. I am going to try this right now! I don't have much luck with computer things though so I might email you! :D