The first week back after the break always feels like crunch time. Generally I have a pile of adminstrative tasks - bus requests, updating RtI spreadsheets, etc. - that I figured could wait until January. After all these years, I know this is a bad idea but somehow I can't resist. Anyway, those things end up getting done the second week back, when things tend to calm down.
The kids come back from break raring to go, I find. They get how the classroom is supposed to work (although they need proactive reinforcement on procedures) and since Kindergarten is fun they're happy to be back. So it's a good time to start new things; I usually begin centers the first week back (they've been doing various small group structures all year, but not centers). I also made some schedule changes, moved the furniture around, and brought in the chickens (who are spending their first weekend at school right now - inside, of course).
The chickens are extremely popular; the kids have gotten to pet them and feed them and will get to hold them next week. Hutch cleaning is not quite the nightmare I imagined since it ends up all the science I do pays off long-term. I cleaned the hutch with the assistance of some second graders I had in Kindergarten; they were not fazed by the reality that this meant seeing chicken poop (I do the hardcore scrubbing myself while they protect the chickens from predators in the garden but they do help me pull out the tray and scrub the feeder and waterer).
WOULD YOU LIKE TO LEARN ABOUT SNAIL DIGESTION? THEN KEEP READING!
I attribute this to Kindergarten science because of the snails. All the Kindergarten science animals lead to discussions about excretion, but snails are particularly fascinating (to five year olds) in this regard. For the most part, they eat greens and chalk or eggshells (for calcium). You can tell exactly what a given snail has been eating most recently by the color of its waste products. This is a subject of repulsive fascination to five year olds. Snails are prodigious producers of waste, too, so there's plenty of reason for five year olds to discuss snail digestion all the time.
Anyway, over the course of six weeks or so of snail care, the kids tend to become nonchalant about the issue. "It's just lettuce and chalk," they chide disgusted observers. "And it's natural. Part of life." So when the kids made similar comments to shocked onlookers, I thought to myself, "Oh yeah. Lifelong learning right there."
Not that I think snail excretion should be a Common Core standard or anything, but I do think that part of Kindergarten should be learning that disgusting things can be interesting (did you know pond snails can travel vertically through the water on their mucus trails?). It's also confidence-building; it is really fun to see the child who would not look at the isopods picking up the ones that wander into the building and depositing them under leaf litter to save their lives. If you can conquer your fear of the fourteen-legged, you can also try to read a new word. And so on.
Anyway, what with all that it was a crunch time week and I'm looking forward to my Resident teacher soloing a couple of days so I can finish all the paperwork stuff and do the next F&P assessment run.