Monthly Archives: March 2013

#ThrowbackThursday Teddy Bear Parade

I love #ThrowbDSC02897ackThursday! Here’s some floats from past years to get you in the spirit for The Sixth Annual Teddy Bear Float Parade! Though you probably don’t need any inspiration since I’m hearing many discussions during snack time about what the children are creating at home!

Beach Bears #TBParade2011

Beach Bears





REMEMBER, Ms. Purdin’s #1 rule is don’t make your mom or dad take you to the store – be creative and use what you have in your house! I bet you have more supplies than you think! Can’t wait to see all the floats next Thursday!


Dancing With the Bears

Race Car

Race Car

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60th Post and The Amazing Mrs. Niemi

My good friend Mindy, who I have referenced in this blog before, called me this week with “big news” from the other island community I taught in, Rockport. What could it be? After she told me what she thought was the big news, I said to her, “I thought you were going to tell me Sue Niemi was retiring!” There was a pause on the other end of the phone. “Well,” says Mindy, “That’s the other news.”

My classroom in Rockport

My classroom in Rockport

Sue Niemi, or Mrs. Niemi to her over 30 years worth of kindergartners, is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever seen in action and had the pleasure to know. I once had a professor who said in teaching all you have is your legacy and that is what Mrs. Niemi will leave behind when she retires. She took a young girl just excited to have her first real teaching job and made a good teacher. Since I was hired mid year, Sue took an entire school day to help me get organized and show me the ropes to RES. (Not sure still where her kids were.) She was never judgmental or made herself look superior, she just showed compassion and friendship to me the entire time we worked together.

Sue sees the good in every student, and her classroom was run like someone who was quietly stitching an intricate quilt. All I did for the year and a half I worked with her was learn all her “tricks” and take to heart everything she shared with me. Things I do in my classroom today I got from her – her love of poetry and how she put them on charts with skirt hangers, her plan board stations, her great home school connections with parents, the bear unit (though I came up with the Teddy Bear Float parade – in Rockport, we did a Teddy Bear picnic) and of course, we shared a love of good children’s literature.

Maybe I think fondly of my time in Rockport and working with Sue because it was a simpler time. I mean, I was a “baby teacher” back then and learning all things you needed to do run a good ship. Because of Sue’s incredible time she took with me, I was able to come in that summer of ’07 and give the interview of my life here at the Johnson School. She gave me the confidence to have this amazing job here that has defined my career. It worries me that with all the focus of Common Core standards and making every classroom be the same, we will not cultivate the next generation of Mrs. Niemi’s and Ms. Purdins who went into teaching to be creative and challenge themselves to always be better.

In closing, one of my favorite Mrs. Niemi-isms was, “Blythe, they [the children] will show you when something is right for them and when it is too much for them.” I saw that happen this week with our class. The children loved the 3-D shape museum lesson this week in math. They were totally engaged for the entire math lesson. It was so fun to see them go around the room and “discover” cubes, cones and cylinders. Last week, our new center routine was a little tricky for some, however, this week our centers ran much more smoothly and even better – the writing center was full of authentic kindergartner writers!

One of Sue’s little traditions was on St. Patrick’s Day she made shamrocks for all the teacher with their name on it – except it would say this: Ms. O’Purdin or Mrs. O’Clark. I just did this for all the teachers tonight before I left school so we could wear them tomorrow!

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Coming In Like A Lion

Good Morning!

March certainly is coming in like a lion! It’s a two hour delay this morning, which means for this girl, I’m already up and dressed and almost ready to go, so now I have a couple hours to get some things done. I have been meaning to blog for several days now, but my life keeps getting in the way. I am happy to have these few extra minutes to check in with you all and tell you what has been happening in our classroom.

Report cards go home today. It seems like Term 2 just flew by. I am happy to report on the whole I was pleased to see the progress many children are making. They have shown gains in both literacy and math, and many are well on their way to becoming early readers. March – May is when for many children “the light blub goes off” and they begin to really take ownership and understanding of their learning. It’s exciting to watch!

In honor of Read Across America Day last week, we had Mrs. Schena come in as our community reader. We also did a little mini unit on Dr. Seuss.

In Social Studies, we have been reading the Little House on the Prairie Books. (Not the chapter books, but the beautifully illustrated children’s books.) The class just loves them and we have been having some good discussions about what life was like long ago and the differences of today. I think the kids can connect with Laura because she is five years old in the books.

This week we did morning center time a different way. Children had to check off on a “learning plan” sheet each time they had finished a task at a center. I think the kids liked the independence this gave them because they had 8 choices, and could choose where they wanted to go each day. I think we will continue this next week.

We will be starting Junior Achievement very soon with Mrs. Heil as our class helper. Junior Achievement is a K-5 program that teaches children about money management and business skills. It is a five week program that I know children will enjoy.

In closing, people have already been asking, so please mark your calendars for our 6th Annual Teddy Bear Float Parade, which will be held this year on Thursday, March 28 at 1:30 p.m. Have no idea what I’m talking about? Don’t worry, I will be sending home information about this super fun Kindergarten tradition very soon!

See you at 10 a.m.!
Ms. Purdin 🙂


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