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Do you ever feel like a meeting should have just been an email? You're not alone! On this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple, we're joined by Katie Crichton, a team lead and kindergarten teacher in Guelph, Ontario. Whether you're a team lead or not, Katie's tips will help you communicate more effectively with your direct teaching team and become a leader in your school community. Katie shares her top tips on how to run an effective team meeting, from having a plan and knowing your audience to being mindful of time and staying on track.Katie's Tips on How to Run an Effective Team Meeting:Have a plan and co-create the meeting's agenda with your team.Know your audience and focus on mentorship or streamlining tasks accordingly.Be mindful of time and offer to talk to team members one-on-one after the meeting.Tune in to this episode to learn more about running an effective team meeting with Katie!Want to learn more from Katie? Join her at Camp Kinder this summer to learn how to rock your teacher performance appraisal! Her session will cover how to achieve each competency, what to do with your next steps identified, and how to pre-teach and prepare your students for your evaluation.Learn more about Camp Kinder and get on the waitlist for early bird pricing here: campkinder.caConnect with Katie here: Insta:
Effective communication with parents and guardians can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be! Jasmine from First Grade Frenchies joins us on this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple to debunk some of the myths and misconceptions about effective communication with parents and guardians. Jasmine is an Ontario educator who takes pride in establishing strong and respectful relationships with the guardians of her students.Jasmine's Three Myths About Effective Guardian Communication:Myth 1: Guardian communication needs to be constant and highly involvedOversharing every detail of the day-to-day activities can be overwhelming and difficult to sustain over time. Instead, share important updates and highlight standout activities in your classroom. As the professional, trust your own judgment and don't feel the need to seek validation or feedback from parents and guardians constantly.Myth 2: No news is good newsDon't limit your communication with parents and guardians to only moments of crisis or concern. Sharing positive updates, such as a little note to let parents know their child is working hard and succeeding at school, can go a long way in establishing positive and open relationships. This also helps ensure that the lines of communication are already open if any concerns do arise in the future.Myth 3: Guardians are constantly criticizing our methodsIt's natural to feel insecure about one's teaching methods, but it's important to remember that guardians are ultimately on your team. Most parents simply want to know that their child is safe, learning, and well-cared for.Join Jasmine at Camp Kinder this summer to learn more about creating strong relationships with the guardians of your students. Her session will cover:Feasible ways to establish strong relationshipsSteps to achieve strong and open relationships with parents and guardiansHow to address concerns with guardians and avoid conflictCommon FAQs related to guardian relationshipsLearn more about Camp Kinder and get on the waitlist for early bird pricing here: campkinder.caConnect with Jasmine here: Instagram: Blog: TpT: 
As educators, we know how important it is to create dynamic and engaging learning opportunities for our students. And when it comes to outdoor learning, using a wonder wagon can be a game-changer! In this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple, we talk with Kat from Je Me Demande about her experience using a wonder wagon in her outdoor learning program and why it's so important to keep things simple.Kat, one of the first educators to truly embrace outdoor learning and the use of a wonder wagon, shares her number one tip based on years of experience. Whether you go out daily or once a week, using a wonder wagon can make your life so much easier! It's perfect for last-minute inspiration, keeping track of materials, and helping students become more independent in their learning.So, what's the most important thing to remember for your wonder wagon? According to Kat, it's all about simplicity. By removing hurdles and obstacles to our planning, we're significantly more likely to actually follow through. Kat's must-have staple wonder wagon items include clipboards, writing utensils, bug catches, magnifying glasses, and math measurement materials.Listen in on this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple to hear more about how to effortlessly incorporate outdoor learning with a wonder wagon.Learn more about Camp Kinder and get on the waitlist for early bird pricing here: campkinder.caConnect with Kat here: Instagram: TpT: 
As educators, we all want to create an inclusive and welcoming classroom environment for our students. But what does it mean to truly embrace inclusion and cultural responsiveness? In this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple, we talk with Zara, a kindergarten teacher in York region, about her experience growing up Muslim in the Canadian school system and how this has shaped her approach to teaching.Zara remembers feeling like she never quite fit in or felt comfortable sharing her own experiences and preferences with her peers and teachers. She was often embarrassed and wanted to hide aspects of her life, such as her music taste, diet, and clothing. Zara also faced blatant racism from some teachers, who put her on the spot and asked her to explain why 9/11 happened in front of the class.Now, as an educator, Zara is committed to creating a safe and inclusive space for her students, where they can feel affirmed and celebrated for who they are. She consciously plans her program in kindergarten with this goal in mind and uses her experiences as a guide to inform her teaching.Catch Zara at Camp Kinder this summer, where she'll be leading a session on culturally responsive pedagogy in kindergarten. She'll share her insights on how to deconstruct the Eurocentric curriculum, affirm the identities of students in your class, and implement strategies and anecdotes that work from her own classroom.Catch Zara at Camp Kinder this summer for her session about culturally responsive pedagogy in kindergarten. Her session can’t be missed! Tune in to her workshop to learn about: >> Deconstructing the Eurocentric curriculum >> Affirming the identities of students in your class>> Strategies and anecdotes that work from her own classroomLearn more about Camp Kinder and get on the waitlist for early bird pricing here: campkinder.caConnect with Zara on instagram here
Teaching dance and movement can be intimidating for many educators, but it doesn't have to be! In fact, incorporating rhythm, dance, and movement into your daily routine can be fun, engaging, and extremely beneficial for your students. In this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple, we talk with Nicole, an Ottawa kindergarten teacher and founder of Harmony Dance Company, about her top tips for bringing movement and dance into your classroom.Nicole's philosophy is all about creating a safe and inclusive space for students to explore their bodies and express themselves through movement. From freeze dance to teaching socio-emotional skills through movement, Nicole shares her insights on how to make dance a fun and accessible part of your classroom routine.Nicole's Top Tips to Incorporate More Movement into the Classroom:Play freeze dance to teach body awareness and safety, and introduce new vocabulary.Use dance to teach socio-emotional skills and promote self-expression.Model dance and movement yourself, and encourage your students to follow along.By incorporating movement and dance into your classroom, you can build confidence, promote self-expression, and create a positive and energizing environment for your students. Nicole recommends adding movement to your schedule every single day in kindergarten, and even starting your day with a few minutes of dance to wake everyone up and create a strong, positive start to the day.Want to learn more about incorporating movement and dance into your classroom? Join Nicole at Camp Kinder this summer, where she'll share even more ideas and strategies for bringing rhythm, movement, and dance to your students.Learn more about Camp Kinder and get on the waitlist for early bird pricing here: campkinder.caConnect with Nicole: Dance with Harmony Dance Company hereHarmony Dance Company on IG
The classroom environment is one of the most important, but often overlooked, factors that can drastically change the way your classroom runs. But this doesn’t mean that we need to be spending 100s of dollars on baskets and mood lighting and picture perfect centres to establish a more effective classroom environment. It’s all about figuring out what works for your students, your routine and YOU as an educator. Today we are joined by Amanda from Creative Kindergarten who is sharing her top 3 ways to create a more effective classroom environment! With just a few small changes to how you see your role and your priorities, you can change up how you use the vertical and horizontal spaces in your room to truly create a more effective classroom environment easily and quickly! Amanda’s Tips for a More Effective Classroom Environment:>> Use your bulletin boards to display student work. Students love to see themselves represented in their own space! Hang up their art or photos of their creations and watch how they actively engage with and refer to the space rather than having the display fade into the background and be ignored. >> Display photos of your students at work. They will be drawn in and use the opportunity to reflect, consolidate and re-engage with the topics and work shown in the photos! This is a rich opportunity to increase their sense of belonging and investment in their own learning. >> Have as many materials accessible to students as possible. Scissors, markers, pencils, math manipulatives, loose parts- everything your students need can be at their fingertips to encourage them to be autonomous and independent! Start small with this and be very explicit in your instruction and in your expectations. Learn more in this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple with special guest Amanda! Want to learn more about creating an effective classroom environment? You’re in luck! Amanda will be joining us for the second time at Camp Kinder in July 2023. Her session will focus on: > What resources to have available to students> How to re-think the classroom environment so it truly works for you and your students> Creating an environment that is accessible and welcomingLearn more about Camp Kinder and get on the waitlist for early bird pricing here: campkinder.caConnect with Amanda here:Insta:
Looking to integrate more play and creativity into your classroom? If so, you might want to check out story workshop using loose parts! It's a fantastic way to encourage your students to explore their imagination and express their ideas in fun and meaningful ways, regardless of their age or skill level.To help you get started, we invited Marissa, a passionate French Immersion teacher and loose parts expert, to share her story workshop cart and tips for building a successful loose parts program in your school.With over 70 bins of loose parts and a variety of backgrounds, Marissa's story workshop cart has become a popular and practical resource for her students and colleagues. By using clear stackable bins and a sign-up system, Marissa ensures that her students have easy access to the materials they need and are responsible for cleaning up after themselves.To create your own story workshop cart using loose parts, Marissa suggests starting small and building your collection over time. You can also pilot the project in your own classroom first and use your success stories to persuade your school, district, or parent council to invest in more loose parts for your students.According to Marissa, "Everything is a loose part. It's anything small that can be manipulated and can be explored." So, whether you're using shells, buttons, sticks, or legos, you can encourage your students to think creatively and engage with the world around them in a new and exciting way.To learn more about story workshop using loose parts and Marissa's tips on using loose parts on a budget, check out this episode of Kindergarten Simple. Plus, don't miss the chance to join Marissa at Camp Kinder this summer and attend her masterclass on loose parts. You'll learn all about storage, where to buy loose parts, how to get started, and other creative ways to use loose parts in your classroomLearn more about Camp Kinder and get on the waitlist for early bird pricing here: campkinder.caConnect with Marissa: Blog: Instagram:
I think we can all pretty much agree it's easy to get outside with our kindergarten students when it's 18 degrees, blue skies and sunny. Everyone loves a beautiful day spent outside! But the truth is the value of outdoor learning remains the same year-round… regardless of the temperature or the colour of the skies.And while bundling up in wet snow pants and covering your face with a scarf so tightly that your best friend wouldn't even recognize you isn't something I especially look forward to, I do have tips to transform from a grumpy snowman to a winter play enthusiast!Need a refresher (or need to remind your parents why playing outside in the winter still happens even when its -10)? Here are a few of my go-to talking points:  >> Outdoor learning gives us an appreciation for ALL seasons and develops our resilience for when conditions aren't picture perfect>> We need space to move, jump, run, yell and explore all our gross motor skills>> We can breathe more deeply and energize our bodies when we are outside>> Taking a break from our learning space helps us focus and turn our minds on when we return>> Developing our curiosity for the natural world is an important part of our development as global citizens and scientists I know it's easier said than done when the sky is grey, the winds are howling and a big part of you wants to just stay inside and extend playtime. So, here are some of my tips to transform from a grumpy snowman to a winter play enthusiast:>>> Dress warmly (duh?). You'd be surprised HOW much of a difference it makes when you yourself are appropriately dressed for the outdoors. Kindergarten is not a fashion show. Put on your thickest socks, warmest boots, snow pants, sweater, scarf, coat- everything. This models to our littles that we need to protect our bodies and will help you actually enjoy being outside. >>> Spice up your play area. Do you have access to the field at your school? The side lawn? Play in new areas to help keep everyone moving and exploring. You might even find some areas have better shelter from the wind!>>> Have some “go-to” ideas for your friends who will approach you and say they are cold. Bring some magnifying glasses, scavenger hunt cards or toy animals outside with you for impromptu activities. Often “I am cold” really means “I am bored”. >>> Speaking of being cold! Remind your families you'll be going outside. Remind them again. Ask for too small mittens and hats to be sent in as extras for other students if they have any lying around and use the lost and found to add extra layers to your students who aren't prepared for the weather if need be.Alright. You in? Well, I have 15 winter play ideas for you! Stay warm, engaged and inspired with this set of Winter Play Ideas that will have you suiting up and heading outside with your class faster than you can say "pass the hot chocolate".This resource contains 15 play ideas that require minimal supplies and little to no planning. Simply pick the idea you want for the day and away you go. No more wondering "what are we going to do today" before your outdoor learning block or dreading another day standing around in the cold of your yard.Your littles are sure to love these Winter Play Ideas. Click here to grab it and let's get outside!!Love this episode? You'll also love:-Getting Admin on board with Outdoor Learning-Outdoor Learning Made Easy: How To Create
I know it's not the most… fun… topic, but I have to say something because it's that time. Communication of Learning time. And as much as I would like to pretend this time of year doesn't exist, it does. So I am coming to you with report card writing tips for stress-free kindergarten COLs. Not an Ontario educator? COL stands for Communication of Learning and it's essentially up to 4 pages of written commentary per student in your class divided into the four frames of the Ontario FDK program.They are asset based, observation driven and supposed to include quotes and anecdotes for each frame. If this sounds like a lot to you, that's because IT IS! And this is exactly why I wanted to share my report card writing tips for stress-free kindergarten COLs. To start things off, I want you to remember that writing 100% unique and brand new comments for every single student in your class is not the goal, nor is it reasonable or a good use of your capacity.And with that I bring you:MARIAH'S REPORT CARD WRITING TIPS FOR STRESS-FREE KINDERGARTEN COLs!>> Use skeleton comments BUT have very specific examples and anecdotes for every single student so you can ensure they are accurate and personal>> Make this ^ easier by having an idea for the comment you want to write, and then sitting down for an entire play-block (or two) and collecting evidence to fill in that blank. You'll be surprised how many solid examples you can find when you have a specific focus and are actively looking.>> Go through your documentation at least a week before you sit to write your reports. Notice which students you are lacking data from and focus on collecting some that week. >> Don't reinvent the wheel for each student. Pick a way of phrasing the expectations you are focusing on for that frame and use it over and over. You will personalize using concrete examples, not changing your verbiage for the expectation and introduction for no reason.>> Have your students describe themselves to you. You can make this a circle activity! I love using this for belonging and contributing. You can then use their own words in their comment, and add your own. Simply change up the adjectives and you have a lovely, warm personal note for every student in your class. Seriously, these tips changed the game for me when I realized I didn't want to spend 40+ hours writing reports every term. Tune in to this episode to learn more about how I sped up my report card writing process so significantly and stopped using MULTIPLE weekends to write my reports each term.And I can help you even more! My comment builder is my best selling product on TpT and educators LOVE using it to help make their report writing significantly easier and faster. This product was created to help you start a solid framework for your reports in no-time at all. You will get:A non-editable PDF of 50 pages containing skeleton comment builders for Ontario Kindergarten Report Card Comments!You will notice that there are blanks in this document where you will fill in specific examples that further support your comments for each student.Thorough and thoughtful COL comments include specific anecdotal evidence, so, the best practice would be to include at least one concrete example in each frame.It also contains advice and information on how to document throughout the year in order to prep for and support report writing. Let's get your reports done and off your list!
How do you feel about planning for math for your kindergarten class? I'll level with you: math phobia is REAL and a lot of adults have insecurities when it comes to teaching math to our littles. But it doesn't have to be this way! Let's shift our mindset so we can create little learners who love math and are ready to take on all the challenges that come hand in hand with more advanced math concepts over the years by using quick and easy math talks with kinders.New to math talks? It can sound a little daunting and hard to plan for, especially if you have a little math anxiety, but they were actually my favourite kind of circle to lead in kindergarten! Quick and easy math talks with kinders are essentially any time you let your littles take the lead after introducing a new concept or idea. You let them think it out, reflect and share their thoughts. I like to record these ideas on a chart paper with some sort of visual symbol to help us remember what we've talked about. Math talks can be as simple or as complicated as you'd like and the best part is they do not require prep. Sure, you might have to grab a few random items, but really that's all there is to it. Here are some ideas for my favourite and super simple math talks:🔣 Use the website “which one doesn't belong” and pick a picture to show your class. Project it onto the screen as talk about which of the 4 choices is different than the others and why! 🔣 Put a group of objects (rubber ducks were always my go to- easy to see, easy to grab) in the middle of the carpet and count them out. Have everyone close their eyes and then change the number by removing or adding ducks. Count them out together and model how to write number sentences. 🔣 Place a group of objects closer and farther apart, then compare different groups of objects with the same quantity. Notice that they are the same even if one group takes up more space. 🔣 Pick a number and have it be the focus of the day. Practice representing it using symbols, words, fingers, drawings etc.  Listen in to this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple for all the details on how I run my quick and easy math talks for kinders so that you are ready to jump in and try it for yourself!Love this but want even more detail and even less work for you? You're in luck! I planned your math talks for you.Inside my flagship program Kinder Planned ✔️ there are weekly math lessons written out for you AND they come with consolidation student work for your littles to complete after your talk. This is key for making sure everyone learned something, and to help with your assessment. Kinder Planned ✔️ includes a different lesson for whole group instruction, in the way of daily workshops, for each day of the month. It's based on this schedule:Monday - WritingTuesday - MathWednesday - STEMThursday - Gross or Fine MotorFriday - ArtI'd love to welcome you into the program and take planning for math (and everything else) OFF YOUR PLATE for the rest of the year. Click here to join Kinder Planned ✔️. Want to try it out first? I got you! Click here for two weeks of sample plans so you can see for yourself just how amazing this program is first hand.Ps. You can learn all about using weekly workshops to consistently support students in this episode of Kindergarten Kept SimpleHave a question about Kinder Planned, Math Talks or just about anything else? Let's chat! Send me an email at 
Want to learn the one thing that single handedly changed the way I taught kindergarten? This was a game changing shift for me that stopped my whirlwind weekends of planning and prepping immediately. It's all about using weekly workshops to consistently support students. WHY: Cyclical planning helps our littles know what to expect and creates strong routines, boundaries and expectations. It also makes our planning SO much easier and is a great way to directly monitor week after week progress (and to stress way less when it comes to your planning when you are away)HOW: Assign each day of the week to have a particular subject of workshop and develop a routine that you are consistent with every single time. Eventually it will become second nature and your littles will thrive with the feeling of safety and knowing what to expect. Keeping a consistent flow from day to day is key! I recommend: Circle (whole group introduction)Independent practice... no matter what subject you are working on that day!WHAT: Here is the schedule that I found most for using weekly workshops to consistently support students:Monday: Writer’s WorkshopTuesday: Math WorkshopWednesday: STEM WorkshopThursday: Fine or Gross Motor WorkshopFriday: Art WorkshopTune into this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple to hear the details of what each of those workshops looks like! Psst... I have amazing news. I did ALL your planning for you. When you join my flagship program Kinder Planned ✔️ you get daily lesson plans and all the needed printables for each of these workshops- for the entire year!!! There's so many things in life that only you can do- planning doesn't need to be one of them. I am so excited to invite you to join us so you can check planning off your list and spend your time on the things you love and with the people you love. Click here for more information on Kinder Planned ✔️Want to try it out first? Click here for 2 weeks of planning FOR FREE!Don't forget:-Click here for my guide to Quiet, Independent Play-Click here to follow me on instagram
When it comes to teaching kindergarten the days are BUSY and it's easy to get swept up spending every second of your weekend planning and prepping for the week ahead.  I'm letting you in on a little secret that with time and practice will decrease your workload AND increase student engagement - a total win win. The secret is that your greatest planning partner is right under your nose and keen to jump in!All you have to do decrease your workload and increase student engagement is embrace co-creating and co-planning with your littles. So... what does that mean?? This is all centred around my motto: Never do something a student could doCo-creating is whatever you want it to be. This might mean: Working with an individual, a small group or your entire class to decide what learning is going on in the roomCAN be but not necessarily part of an inquiryCan be a one off of interest and a completely random activity You can planning for what goes on the tables (materials, focus, intention), what whole group lessons are happening and how to decorate the classroom etc.But why is co-creating such an effective way to decrease your workload and increase student engagement?Increases engagement (they had a clear idea and excitement built up while prepping it)Increases investment and ownership of their own learning Helps keep the classroom clean and the materials properly cared for (it becomes THEIR space not yours that they are using)Creates community and builds relationshipsMakes a major buzz around learningCreates a sense of accomplishment and pride for our students (ex: parent interviews with co-created books)Honestly: way less work for you and uses up a significant portion of the day to execute (sometimes this is a huge win)Listen to this episode of Kindergarten Kept Simple to hear more about all this PLUS when to fit co-creating into your day and how to make this process as successful as possible so you can truly decrease your workload and increase student engagement at the same time. Love this episode? You'll also love: Stop Over-Planning Your Kindergarten Lessons!Outdoor Learning Made Easy: How To Create Learning Activities That Interest KidsSystems and Routines to Decrease BurnoutCheck in with me on instagram @aplayfulpurpose or send me an email so we can chat! 
Alright level with me here. Does your prep fly by in the blink of an eye and before you know it you have gotten zero checked off your to-do list but somehow been busy the entire time? In today's episode we are talking about 3 tips for a more effective prep and it is going to change the game for your productivity and effectiveness at school. The reality is, we all have very limited time both during the work day and beyond. Learning how to best manage this means we can leave as much work as possible at school and save our home time for the things we love and that recharge us. Today I am joined by Lauren from Parfaitement Bilingue: an expert in helping teachers save time and stress by creating effective systems and routines that truly work for them. Listen in while Lauren and I talk about 3 Tips for a More Effective Prep:1) Don't set out to simply do something  during your prep. Instead, have a specific and realistic goal in place that you can actually quantify.2) Plan for your prep. As uncomfortable as they may be at first, set aside a few minutes at the beginning of the week and map out everything you need to get done. Then, hold yourself accountable to this plan. Trust your past self!3) Involve your students. The motto "never do something a student can do" comes into play here. Save yourself valuable minutes by enlisting the help of your littles to set yourself up for success. Hit the play button for more details about why each of these tips are so effective, and how to implement them for yourself! Want to connect with Lauren?Click here for her FREE guide to helping you manage your prep time using her strategy "The Intentional 10"Click here to follow Lauren on IG!Don't forget to check out: -Episode on co-creating next week on the podcast!Loving this episode? Tag me in your stories about your favourite take away and I will re-share! Find me on instagram @aplayfulpurpose
Today I want to help you bring a little more calm into the classroom. To do that I will tell you exactly how to introduce mindfulness in kindergarten.In addition to being an Ontario Certified and Nova Scotia Certified teacher and a Kindergarten Specialist, did you know I am also a certified children's yoga teacher? I am! I took a certification program with a friend of mine back in 2019 to learn more about how to teach breathing, mindfulness and postures to our littles because I was finding so much success with the yoga inspired lessons I had already been trying in my class. And now I am sharing that knowledge with you!  When introducing mindfulness to your littles you want to keep the experiences short, sweet and positive. My motto with mindfulness in k is always, “quit while you're ahead”. What I mean by that is we don't want to keep the exercises going to the point where our students get antsy and start to break their focus. We want to end them while everyone (or at least the vast majority) are succeeding and on task. That way we end on a positive with everyone remembering the expectations, and the feeling of calm associated with this time of day. Slowly, you will be able to extend the time frame, but in the beginning your mindfulness sessions could be as short as 5 minutes long. Their stamina and understanding of the expectations will build, and before you know it you'll be sitting in meditative silence with your 30 kinders for 15 minutes of bliss and your admin will walk in and be amazed and join in and you'll feel like an absolute magician. ^Based on a true story. We can't just jump into that 15-minute silent circle (obviously). Here's the order I find most successful with kinders- you might stick with one for a day, a week or even a month before trying the next thing on the list. There's no right or wrong time commitment here.  Today's episode will walk you through these steps:>>> Breathing>>> Mindful Moments>>> Guided Meditation>>> Asanas (yoga posturesThere are no rules on how long you should be spending on each step and I promise the slow burn is totally worth it when your solid mindfulness practice is in place!>> LINK TO THE LION FREEBIENEED MORE INFO ON STARTING UP A MINDFULNESS PRACTICE? Guide to guided meditation (French & English)Guide to teaching yoga (French & English)E-WorkshopI AM HERE TO HELP! Chat with me on instagram @aplayfulpurpose or send me an email
Let's talk about a super underused strategy in kindergarten that majorly decreases your workload and burnout. Repetition.  And I'm not talking about repeating instructions and expectations (although… let's be honest that is inevitable and super helpful too in kinder land), I'm talking about repeating activities throughout the year and repeating lesson plans by recyling and re-using your planning in kindergarten.Since the dawn of time, or at least the dawn of social media teachergram and pinterest, educators have been putting this pressure on themselves to constantly be thinking “new new new” and starting from scratch every single week. Brand new centres, brand new circles, brand new small groups. There is this fear of being boring or being seen as lazy.  But who is putting this on us? If we are super honest with ourselves this pressure is internal. In truth, there is actually a lot of benefit to repeating and recycling in kindergarten. For example: >>>  Using the same lesson format week after week creates familiarity which allows our students to become more and more independent >>> Presenting the same centre a few weeks later invites our students to look at it in a new perspective and demonstrate growth in their learning>>> Evaluating similar pages month after month shows direct growth and progression >>> Using the same materials in new ways (or letting our littles decide how to use them) pushes our creative thinking, problem solving and innovationI could go on and on but really the number one thing I have noticed is that using predictable, cyclical and highly routine based planning in kindergarten drastically decreased chaos and negative behaviour which of course, drastically reduced my stress. So..... what does this mean? Well. It means I am giving you WRITTEN permission (lol) to use the same centres this week as you did 5 weeks ago. Did you have foam letters in your water table with bubbles? Pull it out again. Played search and find during outdoor learning? Use the same sheet today. Read a book yesterday they loved? Read it again today with a new focus. Have flowers on a table as your art invitation? Rock it again.  It's been weeks since your littles last did these activity which is truly a lifetime in kindergarten. You won't need to give the same lengthy instructions, you'll get to see their growth AND you don't need to spend your precious time planning. Speaking of your precious time. Did you know that this highly routined and cyclical method that truly changed my life is the basis for my flagship program Kinder Planned ✔️? It's based on using “workshop style teaching" which is my way of wording focused whole-group instruction. Each day of the week features it's own workshop and the structure, expectations and schedule repeats week after week. The beauty of this is you know exactly what you are doing and when, which makes having a supply teacher sooo easy, and your littles know exactly what to expect as well.  Here's the workshop schedule that I send you monthly lesson plans for: > Monday - Writing> Tuesday - Math> Wednesday - STEM> Thursday - Gross or Fine Motor> Friday - ArtIn Kinder Planned ✔️ I send you the plans for these daily workshops, plus printable centres for math and literacy PLUS extra learning ideas directly to your inbox. The packages are all over 65+ pages and all the ideas have been tested and loved in kinder classes. Ps. you can use the code podcastbff for 15% off your registration in the program! Click here to check it out. LOOKING FOR MORE? Check out these episo
Often the biggest hurdles in outdoor learning are other adults. From the members of your teaching team, to the families to your admin, there's a lot of people with a lot of opinions on outdoor time- particularly in less than perfect weather conditions. Sometimes it is as easy as listing the benefits to outdoor learning:>  Learning outside helps us develop a respect and appreciation of the environment and the natural world> Playing outside in all types of weather builds resilience >  We need space to move our gross motor muscles beyond the expectations and confines of the walls of the classroom> Breathing in the fresh air acts as a reset and gives us energy to last the long learning dayEtc, etc. I could go on and on.But…. sometimes this isn't enough. Sometimes we need to use other strategies and rely on more than just our philosophy of education to get these other adults on board. Today we are talking about the big one. The one that involves bravery and maybe more time in the office than you are comfortable with. It all started because of this submission to my question box on IG:"I don't have an outdoor program because my admin is against it"I have definitely experienced this first hand and am proud to say that by the end of the year we were living in outdoor bliss for 2 hours a day. Here are my top 3 tips to make it happen:>> Tip 1: Find specific examples in your curriculum document to support your outdoor learning program. Open the documents online and use CTRL + F for terms like: outdoor, outside, environment, natural world, schoolyard>> Tip 2: Although not impossible, going from zero to 100 in your outdoor program will be hard. Having smaller goals, like extending recess for 20 minutes for a group activity, is easier to sell. As comfort and education about why it’s working grows, so can your time outside.>> Tip 3: There is likely a past experience creating this resistance. Did parents complain? Did someone get injured? Ask to sit down and express why you want to prioritize learning outside and listen to address their concerns.Getting admin, your direct team and the families of your students on board is truly the first step toward achieving the outdoor ed program of your dreams. That's why it's actually the first part of my virtual workshop all about building your program!Looking for more support? Check out my virtual workshop all about building your own outdoor education program. This 26-minute long video and a workbook is designed to help you work through a variety of prompts that will help prepare you to implement or improve your outdoor education program in kindergarten. It covers connections to the Ontario Kindergarten Program including research that supports outdoor learning, getting your admin and team on board, overcoming roadblocks like a concrete yard, scheduling outdoor play into your day and planning activities. I have included a big bank of ideas organized by weather type to get you going!Here's what a few educators had to say about it:"If you are new to Outdoor Education then you need to watch this!! It will put your mind at ease and make you wonder why you waited so long to incorporate Outdoor Education into your life. Mariah's outdoor education resources are the absolute best. Go get them now!!""This resource gave me much more confidence teaching Outdoor Education to my Kindergarten students.""I love this resource! The videos were so good and Mariah always has the best advice for reflecting and planning! Merci!"Click here to check it out!
I'm talking about a sensitive subject today,  so buckle up and take a breath. I'm bringing up a majorly divisive topic in the early years world: worksheets in kindergarten (and why it's actually okay to use them). And I'm going to just come out and say it. I use them.GASP SHUDDER SHUT THE DOORS DRAW THE BLINDS. The thing is, I would never lie to you, or quite frankly, waste your time by only sharing information about teaching practices and strategies that work in ideal classrooms with amazingly low ratios and naturally inquisitive and focused students.I don't know about you, but I have never taught in one of those unicorn classes. My classes have always been busy. My classes have always had daily evacuations. My classes have always had a minimum of 27 students. I am not suggesting you use 5 worksheets a day and spend your time saying “sit down and write your name” over and over all day.  I am talking about 10 minutes between play and inquiry and outdoor learning once or twice a day that you use worksheets in kindergarten with guided instructions to support learning in your classroom.It's okay if you disagree with me, we can still be besties, but this episode will tell you more about why I learned to embrace worksheets, and why you might want to too. Psst feel free to copy and paste this list of WHY it's okay to use worksheets: > Well explained paper and pencil activities create situations where your students can work completely independently > It is easy to scaffold paper activities to various levels so you can meet your students where they are and help them grow> Worksheets give students the opportunity to practice world skills like filling in forms, completing assignments in older grades and reinforce their fine motor skills> Using fill in the blank style pages boosts student confidence with quick wins > They are a great tool for reinforcing new skills and vocabulary and offer a snapshot into learning that guides your next steps>When everyone is engaged in one activity, you are free to move around and work 1:1 with students - a rare opportunity in kinder> The truth is, some of our students LOVE worksheets and “playing school” and participating in activities like they see their siblings do or see on TV. Worksheets support a specific type of learning style just like play and gross motor activities support another.I like to use worksheets at very specific times of the day. I try to follow the same format daily: >> Come in from outdoor learning>> Quick morning meeting>> Whole group instruction with explicit modeling of the task>> Independent work time (yes, worksheets in kindergarten)>> Move into playLove this structure? I welcome you to join me inside Kinder Planned ✔️ which opens on October 15th, 2022. I have planned lessons for you for every single day of the month and provide you with the printables to go with them. There's also extra learning ideas and bonus tabletop centres as well! This is my flagship program and based on the workshop style teaching model I love so dearly. Every week you'll get plans for writing, math, STEM, fine / gross motor and art. Learn more about this amazing and stress saving program here! Pssst. use the code podcastbff for 15% off your program membershipLOOKING FOR MORE? >>> Check out this episode on writing in kindergarten>>> Download my free guide to writing in kindergarten here
As I sit here on the cusp of my first year of motherhood, I realize that all the annoying clichés about raising children are surprisingly accurate.  As a new parent, I’ve been learning that there is nothing quite like the love and bond created between a mother and her child. There’s nothing like seeing your child thrive and grow, watching them change right before your eyes. It’s hard to remember life without them, to go back to what you were doing that doesn’t include them.So (almost) a year into motherhood, I decided to reflect on how my little one has made my life more meaningful and how the journey bringing him up has been so far.As people say, the days are long, but the years are short… your children grow up in the blink of an eye. Savor the time while you’re in it.Andrew is turning one year old soon. Seeing him grow brings in mixed emotions, and as I look back on the journey through the pregnancy and birth, I acknowledge it hasn’t been easy; it was indeed scary sometimes. But no matter the challenges, the journey got me him, and I wouldn’t have my life travel another way. But let me get to two other things I’d like to specifically talk to you about today:>> One, PPA or Postpartum Anxiety. It’s that voice in your head that worries you about your kid always – whenever and wherever – even when cooking dinner or taking a shower. It’s like you’re consumed in thoughts about them.I’ve been working on my PPA for a while now and am glad it’s come down. I’m under control. As someone who used to track my baby’s sleep every single day, the anxiety has reduced to the point where I don’t have to do it anymore. I have started to acknowledge that some things are beyond my control. And it’s honestly, TRULY liberating.>> Second, Keeping in touch with people. At a certain point, I felt maxed out between my immediate family, extended family, daily life, business, and motherhood… and I lost touch with a few people who were also dear to me. So, if you’re someone who’s there too, know that you aren’t alone. Listen to this episode for an honest account of my first year as a mother. I hope this conversation helps you in your journey- I am an open book and always here to talk if you need it.KW: POSTPARTUM anxiety, motherhood, becoming a mother, life’s purpose, extended family, daily life, immediate family
Overwhelming. Exciting. Yet truly Cringy. Your first year as a teacher is a disproportionate mix of different emotions… mine was too. Investing time on things that didn’t matter, feeling burned out, and controlling everything in the classroom, from the bulletin boards to the posters, I pressured myself to perfect everything that needn’t be.If you’re a first-time teacher, it will help you know how typically messy the time was for me. Even in my latest year of teaching I felt kind of new again! As a first-time Nova Scotia teacher, I didn’t have my own room and I was teaching English and Math, and French in a completely French environment which felt so out of place for me. But over time, the little challenges, discomforts, or changes either faded away or became less intimidating. But whatever the case, today, I cannot help but acknowledge how far I’d come in my career. Have you ever given it a thought too?Amid the hustle and bustle, we all deserve to spare a moment to appreciate the journey, how much we’ve changed, and how the toughest of tasks have become easy for us now. Launching Camp Kinder, I realized I had to take a second to be proud of myself. Not for the marketing or organization or the numbers, but for my mindset that was in control and ready always. In today’s episode, I’m talking to you about just that. Appreciate yourself for your little wins… it doesn’t have to be extravagant, it just has to be a moment you feel good in.As an exercise, how about you take a few mins to appreciate your up-and-down journey in life so far? Even the lows… because they also taught you how to make your way out of them, didn’t they?“The point of a low is that we realize we can get out of it. And there's a high after.”Listen to this short episode for more on this subject. AND.. feel free to send me an email at about your growth journey. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, I’d love to hear even just a short sentence about your little wins.KW:  up and down journey, little wins, professional growth, first year, growth journey, appreciate yourself
Real Talk. How long does it take for you to plan your kindergarten lessons?How do you make sure your planning is textbook perfect so that your littles are always actively learning something as they engage in play?Fun fact… I don’t.My systems and routines – contrary to popular ways – are simple and have always been so, meaning I don’t micromanage my classes or stop the play to direct my children to an “important lesson” whenever they’re trying things out.What I do instead is to allow my littles to play and learn in their own way. Am I too easy going? Some may think so, but it works for me, just like it works for other teachers in this kinder world who are willing to walk their talk.All this has been possible because we have a strong teaching-learning routine. We have a weekly rotation of workshops, like our Writer’s Workshop, and a lot of fun and ease in our classrooms which allows students to learn as they engage in playful activities.Now, you might wonder why I don’t feel the urge to micromanage, or, “do something” to contribute or accelerate their learning. It took me a while to answer that question for myself and overcome the (unnecessary) guilt of doing less. But when I did:>> I learned that more than YOU guiding your littles, it helped when you allowed your littles to guide you.>> I learned that it's okay for us to take the backseat while your children drive their learning forward, so that they could continue to push through the boundaries, and rely on me to guide them whenever they needed. >> I learned that my work as a kindergarten teacher often didn’t end after my work hours – I was documenting, creating my plans, offering one-on-one help, and doing a lot of undocumented tasks after classes… but I didn’t have to do that.....And I learned that I had to overcome the guilt of doing less – because, for one, I wasn’t doing that, and two, it was in the best interests of my kids.You don’t have to bear the pressure of being the knowledge keeper, the planner, the leader, or the micromanager. You’re not here to entertain children or make them feel like you’re a figure to be respected. You’re not here to perform or be the center of attention; you’re here to be a guide to your children, so they face no barriers to learning and growing. You *facilitate* their learning and act as the guide who has their backs through thick and thin.So, if ever you overthink taking a short break “because you must go running behind your children all the time”, know that you don’t have to. You deserve some time to breathe, or get all the other tasks you need to do, as long as you know your children are having fun, and are learning and growing in the process!Listen to this episode as I talk to you about this in detail.And before you go, Click here to get my slide deck and massive freebie from my Scholar’s Choice Webinar that would teach you how to keep your systems and routine simple!PS. Camp Kinder registration is OPEN! Grab your ticket to the hottest event of the summer hereKW: kindergarten lessons, kindergarten teacher, barriers to learning, doing less, teaching-learning, writing program for kids, learning and growing
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