Friday, June 7, 2013

Pete the Cat Helps us Keep our Cool

Pete is one cool cat and it's a good thing, because in preschool it is so important that we all keep our cool isn't it!?!  In fact, Pete is one of the all time favorite characters in my preschool classroom.  The rhythm and predictability that the Pete books offer are just perfect for preschool!  We read several Pete books this year and the children requested them over and over again all year long!  Most of the preschoolers had these books memorized by the end of the year.  If you haven't met Pete I highly recommend you head on over the Harper Collins website and check him out!  There are several new books available as well as free audio downloads of his most popular books!


"Pete's Four Groovy Buttons"
We shared Pete and His Four Groovy Buttons toward the end of the school year this year.  A good friend of mine gave me this amazing Pete the Cat shirt!  She took an old button up shirt and added some large colorful buttons to the front.  She attached each button to a small piece of string and then added Velcro so that they could "fall off" as we read the story.  Of course, Pete was just fine when all his buttons fell off because he found the best button of all...his belly button!  You can only imagine the fun we had with that part of the story!  Kids love belly buttons! 
We spent almost a month celebrating the ending of the school year by bringing back out some of the favorite books, activities, and songs from throughout the year.  A lot happens over the course of nine months and it is fun to remember all the fun we've shared together as a school family.  Over the years I have learned that it is much more helpful to bring out the favorites at the end of the year than it is to plan lots of new activities and stress myself out.  The children really enjoy this remembering.  

Along with Pete the Cat, we pulled back out The Gingerbread Baby, Three Billy Goats Gruff, and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  We had fun remembering all the different versions of books we read and voting for our favorites.  We also acted them out again and enjoyed some related activities.  One of the all time favorite activities for the whole school year was when I brought in my air popper and made popcorn for them.  We love to take the top off and pretend that it is a volcano, tornado, or snow storm...whatever their imagination comes up with!  If you ever want to keep a group of children busy for hours, just bring in an air popper!  LOL! 
With all the paperwork to complete, case conferences to hold, assessments to give, boxes to pack, and planning to do I find it very challenging to keep my cool as the school year draws to a close. There is so much emotion and energy wrapped up in the last few weeks of school that I have to keep close tabs on my state as I know how much of an impact it has on the state of the children in my care.  Remembering and celebrating help us keep our energy focused on a happy ending and new beginnings while being conscious of what's happening within us!  Have you ever heard yourself saying "man these kids are wild" as the school year draws to a close?  Instead of just writing off all that emotion as "wild and crazy kids" let's recognize the emotion and be open to helping the students and ourselves manage it instead of letting it manage us!
Since this year was my last in the classroom, I wanted to do something helpful for the new teacher that would take my place.  I worked with the preschoolers to create this fun bulletin board to leave behind in the classroom to welcome the new teacher and her class.  My pre-k class helped me complete a list of things that the incoming preschoolers should know about being in preschool.  It looked something like this...
Each child had an opportunity to add a couple of ideas to the list.  Once the discussion was complete, the children returned to their seat and illustrated their tips that completed this sentence:  "Be a Cool Cat in Preschool by ____".
A giant Pete accompanied the papers on the bulletin board and of course Pete is keeping his cool by being a S.T.A.R. (Smile, Take a deep breath, And, Relax) just like we have practiced alllllllllll  year long!  When the world doesn't go Pete's way does Pete cry?  Goodness no, he keeps walking along and singing his song as one well regulated kitty.  Isn't that our goal as educators and parents?  We want to help our children to find a place within themselves where they can say, "It's all good."
Since Pete was such a hit in our classroom we wanted to give the children something to help them remember the school year.  We purchased Pete the Cat books (buy one get one free book fair) and added a little book mark to help the Shining Stars remember the school year.
It is our ritual to Wish Well friends and family members who are missing, sick, or hurting in some way.  On the side of the shoe we wrote "We wish shoe well!"  Our hope is that our Shining Stars will always remember the time we shared with one another know they have a special place in our hearts.  On the last day of school we participated in our Safekeeper Ritual one last time and then gave each child their special gift before going home. 
So, in the words of our friend Pete the Cat, "No matter what you step in, keep walking along and singing your song...because it's all good.  I love my red shoes, I love my red shoes, I love my red shoes..."