Tuesday, December 25, 2012


I thank you for this day. I thank you for this time. This is how we start many prayers at The Neighborhood School, students and faculty alike. I'm not sure when or who it started with. It's just an unsaid thing that we do and rightfully so. Time. Not everyone has it, at least not earthly time. Today my prayers are with the family and friends of the dear little ones who lost their lives at Sandy Hook. I cannot imagine the grief. I pray that you are comforted by The Lord, who sent his little son that he might die for us. While I do not know your pain, I know that He does. Let us all thank God this Christmas for the time we do have with our loved ones and most of all for the gift of Jesus. Merry Christmas from my family to yours!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sparkle and Shine

Does anyone else feel slammed this week? We take Think Link on Thursday followed by our class party Thursday afternoon  and we have a Christmas program on Friday. Did I mention my kiddos think its Christmas break already? Good thing I got to take a break from work and just enjoy my babies yesterday afternoon! Here's a little tip I just discovered that will hopefully help cut back on your classroom chaos. GLITTER. Yes, glitter. I used to fear it, now its not so bad!
Step 1: Pour glitter on paper plate.
Step 2: Apply STICK glue.
Step 3: Lay paper face down in glitter.
Step 4: Rub. 
And voila! All done! Less mess glitter tactics!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Great Commission in the Classroom

Matthew 28:19-20: "Go therefor and make DISCIPLES of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of  the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Last week we had a professional development meeting after work. Here is what we talked about:
Did I mention how much I LOVE where I work? Investing in our students, making disciples in our classrooms, this is what we are working on at TNS. I was reminded of David Platt's Radical as we discussed the differences between the American church today and the example Jesus set for us in the Bible. Jesus was focused on close personal relationships, on discipleship. So how do we create disciples in our classrooms? We take the risk and spend time with a few of our students OUTSIDE of school in hopes that what we do with a few will create a domino effect in our classroom and our world. According to our speaker, if Christians discipled one person a year, and those disciples in turn discipled one person a year... it would take only 35 years to reach the world for Christ. WOW!
I felt so convicted by this message. Last year I spent significantly more time investing in my students lives, taking them to church, doing zoo trips on the weekend, etc. We had some great times.

I'll never forget loading these babies into my car and opening a discussion on church rules... only to be reassured, "Miss Peden, don't worry, I already know how to act at church. You can't say no curse words, you can't say 'I'm gonna cut you with a knife,' and you cant cut nobody wit a knife either! And don't say the f word, or the b word, or even the d word!" Needless to say, I hadn't planned on covering any of the above in our discussion! Thankfully we survived just fine and had time for peanut butter sandwiches in the car before I took them home! :)

Since I have been lacking in this area this semester, I got a head start on my New Year's resolution to spend more time focusing on and investing in my students.
So this afternoon I had ice cream with one of my kinders.

Tonight, I went out to the Visible Community Music School to hear this adorable kinder play the piano...

and hear our Middle School students perform Mighty to Save.

As always, I am certain that spending time with them did my heart as much, if not more good than theirs. Isn't it funny how it always seems to go this way?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sw a in Sweater! Sale and a Freebie!

Today it was all about Christmas sweaters in kindergarten, where we are learning the consonant blend sw. I introduced the blend using The Christmas Sweater: A Picture Book by Glenn Beck. The Christmas Sweater is a heartwarming tale of a little boy named Eddie who realizes that what his heart wants most for Christmas is a Christmas sweater, knit with love from his mom. Even though this is a longer story, my kids were absolutely mesmerized and wanted to hear it over and over. We took time after reading to create an anchor chart for the story, identifying characters, setting, and the main events in the story. (Forgot to snag this pic today, but I'll have it up soon!)

We made connections with the text in "share circle" by discussing  our own Christmas memories, not memories of gifts we received, but memories of time spent with our family and friends. After our share circle, we drew pictures of our Christmas memories and created these adorable snow globe crafts! Too cute!

After completing this craft, I turned my students attention to phonics where we began to focus on the consonant blend sw. I displayed a sw as in sweater sign and we located the sw blend in the title of the book. Students received paper sweaters with "sw" words on them. Students cut out the sweaters, colored them, read the word for the class, and hung them on our classroom clothes line! Students also received sw as in sweater badges to wear home to remind them to tell their parents what they learned about at school today! 

Learning continued in math where students completed leveled journal prompts involving sweaters and other sw words. Students first searched the prompt for the sw blends. They circled the blends and then used a combo of writing and drawing to respond to the math prompts.

Click here for my Sw as in Sweater math and literacy mini-unit, which is on sale for just $3.75 for a limited time! Did I mention this unit also includes my Christmas playdoh mats? Because it does! :D Click here for a Christmas sweater freebie! 

In The Christmas Sweater, Eddie thought a sweater was what his heart needed most for Christmas. Although I did not include this in my sw as in sweater pack, I clarified with my students that what our hearts need most is indeed a Christmas gift, but it is NOT a sweater. What our hearts need most is the gift of Christ Jesus, God's own Son, "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Col. 1:14)." 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Liebster Award

I was so blessed to be nominated by Adrienne from A Day in the Life of a Kindergartener for the Liebster Award. This is just a way for new bloggers with less than 200 followers to help find other new blogs with less than 200 followers! I enjoy seeing new blogs so I definitely wanted to participate! 
Here are the rules:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot "tag back" the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

Here are 11 random things about me:
1. My ultimate goal as a teacher is to glorify God by helping students know, love, obey and exalt Jesus Christ. 
2. I am "Auntie Em" to the two cutest, smartest, and best boys on the planet. 
3. I have a daughter named Deeohgee Spike Peden... She is a YORKIE and the LOVE of my life! 
4. I eat at BWWs at least once a week and I order the same thing every time.  
6. I am addicted to One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, Hart of Dixie, and Parenthood! 
7. I'm a Lord of the Rings nerd. 
8.  Love, love, love playing games! Dutch Blitz and Agricola are currently my favorites. 
9. I have an older sister and three little brothers. They are my best friends in the whole wide world. 
10. I was born in South Carolina but I grew up in Alabama. 
11. I moved to Memphis because I wanted to teach at The Neighborhood School! 

Here are the 11 questions from A Day in the Life of a Kindergartener: 

1. What state do you teach in? Tennessee 
2. How many years have you been teaching? 2 years
3. Which holiday is your favorite? Why? Christmas, its the incarnation celebration! 
4. Do you sing with your students? If so, what song is your favorite? I sing ALOT and it does NOT sound good at all! Right now I am loving Heidi Songs... all of them! We also sing the Frog Street Press songs, but my absolute favorite is hearing my little ones singing I am a Promise at Kindergarten Graduation! 
5.  Coffee or tea? coffee
6. Chocolate or vanilla? chocolate! 
7. What is your favorite book to read to your students?  What Was I Scared Of? by Dr. Seuss 
8. Tell me about your favorite vacation. Disney World with my family. Enough said.  
9. What do you like to do in your free time? Play with Deeohgee and bake! 
10. What is your favorite Apple product? my macbook 
11. What is your favorite snack? cheese dip

Here are the 11 questions for the blogs that I am nominating:

1. Why did you start blogging?
2. Teachers, how many years have you been teaching?
3. Do you have a favorite Bible verse? If so, what is it? 
4. What is the cutest kids craft you have seen?
5. What is your favorite children's book? 
6. Chinese of mexican food?
7. Walmart of target? 
8. Who inspires you? 
9.  What is your favorite tv show? 
10. What is your favorite snack? 
11. Do you have any pet? Tell me about them. 
Here are the 11 blogs I'm Nominating:

1. The Kindergarten Pod
2. The Kinder Wife
3. Dizzy for Kindergarten 
4. Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten
5. Miss Hookom's Kindergarten
6. The Crazy Pre-K Classroom 
7. Krazy About Kindy 
8. Special Teacher for Special Kids
9. My Colorful Classroom
10. Faith Made Scents
11. Chairein: Joy to You!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas Centers

    Ok... so I haven't been as great at keeping my posts up to date as I had originally planned. Oops. I'm blaming it on the lack of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I never feel like I have enough class time to fit everything in before the break. That being said... I'm already gearing up my Christmas centers and I thought I would let you take a look at what my kinders have been up to this week!

Listening Center

Big Books Center (with jumbo Christmas pencils as pointers)

       And now for my math stations.... I'm really focusing on math right now because I always feel like my babies are behind in this area. I think most of my frustration comes from being stuck with the Abeka curriculum while my students are being assessed with the common core standards.  When I need to be teaching subtraction my curriculum has me teaching time to the half hour, numbers to 100, etc. Bridging the gap is especially difficult since I only get a couple hundred copies a year. These usually go toward the required weekly homework assignment sheets and behavior reports, not leaving much room, if any, for copies that incorporate the common core practice my babies need.
Right now, I have created a few centers to help my students master these standards: CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.4 For any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record the answer with a drawing or equation.
CCSS.Math.Content.K.NBT.A.1 Compose and decompose numbers from 11 to 19 into ten ones and some further ones, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each composition or decomposition by a drawing or equation (such as 18 = 10 + 8); understand that these numbers are composed of ten ones and one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, or nine ones.

These centers have been a hit and are definitely good for mastery! Click the titles for a link to the product on TPT!

How Many More to Make Ten? (I've actually revamped this one with some clipart on tpt!)

Well, thats all I've got for you so far, but here is a sneak peek at my SW as in Sweater mini-unit! No, I haven't seen anything cuter! ;)

Thursday, November 22, 2012


    Check out this assessment freebie in my TPT store! I use it to assess my kinders at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year! :) Hopefully you will find it just as helpful!

     As time allows, I call individual students to my desk and assess them on one of the skills in this pack. I highlight all that the student knows and make it as positive as possible. (The students are really excited to see how much more they know now that we are half way into the school year!) When I am finished assessing each skill,  I make a copy for the parents and sometimes attach ideas for hands on practice or practice pages. I sent several home just before Thanksgiving break and plan on sending some more home before Christmas break. Just click here to get this 2 page assessment freebie! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Greater Things

   Its 2:00 in the afternoon and I'm starting Social Studies. I'm tired, my babies are tired, if you teach K you already know what I mean. We're listening to a "Social Studies mix tape" and sitting in a rectangle around the mat when "God of This City" by Chris Tomlin comes on, a song we've never listened to before. Suddenly no one is pushing, no one is arguing, no one is being silly, no one is too tired to participate. My students all throw their arms around one another and sway back and forth. I can't hear the music anymore, just their voices joyfully proclaiming, "there is no one like our God." I wish I could show you what that looks like, I wish you could be there to feel that, the Holy Spirit moving in a room full of five year olds. This is why I teach. This is why I do what I do. To fully understand you have to recognize that I don't teach at your typical private school. These students parents aren't paying their  full tuition. My babies are predominately African refugees and all of them are living in a low income area of Memphis. Several of my students are from Muslim families. Guess who sings the loudest? When the song is over one of my girls says, "I like that song, but its sad." Richard corrects her, "Its not sad, its about God being King because he created everything."
   This morning we are going around the room saying one thing that we are thankful for. "My teacher," "my mom," "my friends," until we get to Lewis who says, "I'm thankful that Jesus died on the cross and paid for my sins," then Johnell, "I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit," then Akuel, "I'm thankful for God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit." It's things like this that fill me with hope for the future. It has nothing to do with who is elected or what bill passes. Today I am thankful that God has given me sixteen reasons for hope, sixteen reasons to believe that greater things are still to be done in this city.

Read more about my school at www.tnsmemphis.org. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pterodactyls aren't dinosaurs... who knew?

     I learn knew things everyday in K, but thanks to a traveling suite case from the Pink Palace Museum, my knowledge of dinos has expanded vastly. When I reserved the suitcase this summer I had no idea what I was getting myself into... a 2 ton suit case filled with more dino stuff than I could ever handle... including REAL fossils. I couldn't carry it up my apartment stairs so the weekend I got it, I sat in the trunk of my car going through the awesome materials. If you teach around Memphis it is definitely worth it to reserve one of these suite cases... and the best part is... its totally FREE! I combined the suite case with some of the ideas from Deanna Jump's and Babbling Abby's dino units and my little ones had a blast!

Here is a glimpse at what we did....

      I started off with this awesome idea from Deanna Jump. I created a paper mache egg and then had the students make inferences regarding what the egg contained. The kids got really into this. My favorite inference of all is a tie between caterpillar and walrus. The day before the egg hatched Jordan was just convinced that it was going to be a baby walrus! When the egg finally hatched I decorated our entire classroom with items provided by the Pink Palace Museum and a few odds and ends that I had myself. 

      I do both work stations and "play" centers in my classroom. For this unit all of my play centers had a dino theme. My regular blocks center became a dinosaur puzzle center...

    Home living was converted to an area for toy dinos and a few dino books...

 Dino rubbing plates were placed in the art center...

       Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of my other centers :( Students played a dinosaur bingo game to practice shapes and colors in games center, listened to How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? in listening center, explored dinosaur themed fiction and nonfiction books in reading center, and watched Dino Dan shows in computer center. 


     The suite case I received included models of over 50 kinds of prehistoric animals, with fact cards for each. Each day we learned facts about a different dinosaur and we also learned how to distinguish a dinosaur from another prehistoric animals.  Later, students participated in sorting activity, seperating dinos and nondinos.  NEWS FLASH... dinosaurs DO NOT fly or swim! I had no idea! We wrapped our unit up with the adorable marshmallow bar idea from Babbling Abby. I had a parent donate the marshmallows... Did you know they even make Marshmallow confetti!?!?! The confetti worked really well for this project, so I definitely recommend buying some if you plan to do this activity in your classroom! 


Welcome Aboard!

      Deanna Jump has been my inspiration for the past few years. As embarassing as it is to admit, I actually started drinking Sonic Coke because I convinced myself that there was something in it that would make me a better teacher! LOL... Now that I'm a bit more established as a teacher, and unfortunately I can't thank Sonic Coke for that, I decided it was about time for me to start my own blog. I absolutely adore classroom pictures so I figured I would start by showing my before and after pics! 

Here is my classroom on my first day at TNS....

And here is my classroom before my very first day of school at TNS... 

Thanks to Anne Whitney and Seaborn for this awesome pirate hat and tons of other toys they donated to my class. Did you see those yucky ones earlier?!?!? EWWWW... Thanks to these kids, my babies had CLEAN toys on the first day of school! 

Huge thanks to my amazing big sister, brother in law, and nephew who drove all the way from Knoxville to make this happen! Could have never done it without them! What could you do in life without a big sister?