Thursday, August 23, 2012

Alphabet Crafts!

I LOVE teaching the alphabet at the beginning of the year.  The kiddos get a little crazy with the new knowledge and fun activities, but they love crafting!

Every time we learn a new phonogram, we make a craft and read an informative book with a title/topic that begins with the new phonogram.  ~I made a set of corresponding alphabet crafts a few years back~  This week, one of our new phonograms was /o/ - all three sounds.

We read an informative book about octopus AND made an octopus craft.  I was able to mix a little science and informative recall with our alphabet activities.  Genius!

When we first started crafting our alphabet, we made a chart that had the order of our directions.  The kiddos love referring to it when they need a little reminder in the middle of a craft

Since each craft follows the same basic steps, they came up with these four simple directions/reminders.

1. Trace.

2. Cut

3. Glue

4. Color/Decorate

So much fun!  We hang them on our alphabet wall and refer back to them all year long when talking about beginning sounds.

Since our class has already been DIBELS tested, we have been working on identifying capital and lowercase letters.  We do different alphabet exercises all day long to incorporate this skill, but the kiddos really seem to LOVE the ice-cream letters we have been using in small group.  I call out a letter and they find the capital and lowercase letters to make an ice-cream cone.  Fun stuff!
This pack also includes some word building activities with common two-letter phonograms for later in the year.

Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives is having a giveaway.

If you love to use music in your classroom and are interested in a 'Transition Music' giveaway, you should hop on over and check it out!  I am heading there now!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

You Know It's...

I joined a linky party at Kindergarten Lifestyle and want to share with you! How do you know it is back to school time?

I know that I have a serious shopping problem. I want to buy everything I see. I cannot go into a store around this time of year without walking down each aisle in hopes that i can find something my classroom or my kiddos will NEED!

So, here is goes...

Seriously, it is a problem.  How can I be sure there isn't something I need down 'that' aisle?   The worst part is that I have all these great ideas for items I find and buy but sadly, only a few if my brilliant ideas ever see the light of day.  It is thought that counts, right?!

How do you know it is back to school time?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Behavior Freebie!

The first week of school is over - we made it!  We all survived.  No one got lost, everyone got lunch, we laughed, we cried, we hugged and we learned a little about each other.  I learned a bit about the behaviors of the kiddos in my class.
The first week is never easy, but I think we did a pretty good job!  By the end of the week, the kiddos were really starting to understand that I mean business and learning how our new behavior system works.   As a grade level, we decided to use the Class Dojo *FREE* internet system.

I LOVE it!  It is wonderful.  It is 100% free and totally easy to use.  I know people have differing opinions about the card system, so when my friend Jill suggested Dojo, I was thrilled!

Dojo is easy to understand and a cinch to set up.  It provides a site tutorial when you log in for the first few times.  It even gives you a demo class to mess around with.

Ha!  Did you notice the names?!

All you have to do is click on a kiddos' name, choose a positive or negative behavior and.... Voila!  A point is assigned.  The system even allows for you to change the behaviors listed.

Parent communication.  <--- I think this may be the part I love the most about this system.  At any moment, you can click on a kiddos' name and it will give you a graph with a break-down of their choices.  Wait, it gets better!  With the click of your mouse, you can email it directly to parents.  LOVE it!

It is that simple.  This is a great way to track behavior and reward positive choices as well.  Parents love this!

I have decided to email my parents at the end of each week.

I think it would be great to let the points accumulate for one month.  I think that this is a great way for my kiddos to earn some really fun things with their great choices.  Here is a copy of the 'menu' I have created for my kiddos.

My kiddos have the opportunity to earn all sorts of fun things that won't cost me too much money.  I have placed a copy of this menu in every cubby.  Each time they achieve a point goal, they bring me the menu, I sign it, date it and give them their reward.  FUN!
At the end of the month, I will send it home so that parents can check it all out!

I made a couple different menus if you would like a copy or if you just wanna check them out for your little one!

I am linking this post to the What the Teacher Wants Linky Party!  Check it out for more great ideas!


Freebie Fridays

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Made Me Laugh...

Do it!

Seriously, this makes me giggle!  Even in kinder we should be working at home.  Here are some things you can do with your kinder babes:

Show him/her school matters - praise your childs efforts. Show him/her how wonderful his/her schoolwork is by posting artwork and school papers on the refrigerator for everyone to see. Communicate the idea, in both words and actions, that school is important.

Read it and experience it.  Connect what your child reads with what happens in life. If you have read a book about animals, relate it to your last trip to the zoo.

Trace and say letters.  Have your child use a finger to trace a letter while saying the letter's sound. Do this on paper, in sand, or on a plate of sugar or jello - kids love to get messy!

Write it down.  Have paper and pencils available for your kiddo to use for writing. Working together, write a sentence or two about something special. Encourage him/her to use the letters and sounds he/she's learning about in school.

Play sound games.  Practice blending sounds into words. Ask "Can you guess what this word is? m - o - p." Hold each sound longer than you normally would and have your child put the word back together.

Read it again and again.  Go ahead and read your child's favorite book for the 100th time!  As you read, pause and ask your child about what is going on in the book, about the characters and about what he/she thinks will happen next.

Talk about letters and sounds.  Help your child learn the names of the letters and the sounds the letters make. Turn it into a game! "I'm thinking of a letter and it makes the sound mmmmmm."  "I'm thinking of the letter ____, what sound does it make?" (**Remember, some of our phonograms have more than one sound**)

Find it at home.  This can be an extension of the activities above.  After your kiddo sames the letter or sound, ask him/her to find something around the house that has that letter/sound in it.  You can also show him/her a magazine and have him/her circle all the letters that make that sound.

Count it out.  Have your kiddos count objects around the house.

Talk with your kiddo about school. When he/she comes home from school, ask specific questions. Instead of saying, "How was your day?" ask, "What was the best thing that happened today at school?" or "Tell me one new thing that you learned today in kindergarten."

These are just a FEW of the activities families can do to connect school and home.  Get creative and have fun - they are only this little for a while!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

First Day... Eek!

Oh my goodness, I cannot believe the day has arrived.  Tomorrow is the first day of school.  I have been so busy this summer that I did not even get a chance to get a back to school outfit. *sigh*

Doesn't matter anyway because I just found out they added seven kiddos to my list.  That's right, SEVEN!  I am dying over here because that means I will have 27 kindergarteners.  I should be dressing for comfort tomorrow and nothing else.  Do not be surprised if you see me in my yoga pants and sneakers - it's about to get crazy.   Eek!  Hopefully I have a great group of parents who have talked with their kiddos about behavior and school expectations.

Seriously, I am having a panic attack.

In other news...  My classroom is pretty much set to go.  I will most likely need to stay late a few days this weeks, but it WILL get done!
I am in LURVE with my new anchor chart wall.

I have a very odd shaped room and have had this wall taunting me for a couple of years.  Nothing seemed right in the space, I think this will be just perfect!  Since it will be a 'working' wall, I did not want to put paper behind that would just be destroyed by staples in and staples out.  You know?!

Here is my word wall all set to go! (Paper looks weird because it has been so humid.  It will settle soon.)  I just bought a pack of ocean cutouts and wrote the letters on them.  I made all the vowels the starfish.    Below the word wall is the writing station.  Fun fun!
This is where all my little kinders will be writing related sentences about how wonderful I am and expressing their appreciation for my magnificent teaching!  True story.
Our district put us on chair rations so I am only allotted 1chair/student.  So, I went and bought some cute ones from Ikea.  In this corner of the room, we have all things writing - writing ideas, writing accountability sheets, lined paper, blank paper, markers, pens, crayons, write-on/wipe-off, letter practice, letter posters and more!


Then I have my teaching cabinet behind my desk.  Hmmm, I guess I don't really have a desk, just a table I sit at with kiddos for extra help and practice.  Sometimes we just sit and chat!

This is the cabinet where I hide all the bad kids.  :/  Uh, I mean supplies.  Isn't it funny what kids believe from books?!  I like to highlight kids' work and showcase them as examples on our, "Reel Great Work" wall!

On the other side I crafted this little file folder pocket chart. *Thank you Pinterest!  So far I have just been filling it with the papers I use all the time:
*parent notes
*behavior charts
*Dojo rewards menu
*lined paper
*parent contact list

I will post pictures of how I organize my stations later on!  I still have some cleaning to do!

For Meet the Teacher night, I posted a bulletin board outside my room with some thought-bubbles, pens and the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
The answers were hilarious!

If I had asked you this question of your first day of kindergarten, what would you have said?

Friday, August 10, 2012


Wow, that is a lot of acronyms followed by my favorite word, SALE!

This weekend, everything in my TpT store will be on sale!  Make sure to enter the code, BTS12 at checkout!
Click the link below to see my store!

Enjoy your weekend, enjoy some sale shopping on TpT and I will see you on the first day of school!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sight Word Game!

I have been thinking more and more about sight words as I prepare myself for next week and my new bunch of kiddos.  As I plan and think about what I want to my students to learn, I am reminded of all the areas in reading I wanna hit hard this year.  After my 'come to Jesus' moment epiphany last year with sight words, I want to stay on that train and keep some focus there.  After all, sight words help students become better and more confident readers, so why not?!

In my wise *old* age I have also learned that direct instruction in sight words and frequent reading practice with appropriate texts promote the development of automaticity (the ability to recognize words quickly, effortlessly, and accurately).  This means, my fluent readers do not have to devote energy to decoding words, so they can focus their attention on what the text means. 

Yay!  This is what we REALLY want kids to do, right?  We want our kiddos to comprehend.  Why else do we work so hard all year teaching those pre-reading/reading skills?  :)

Hmmm, I might be on to something.  Too bad I am a few years late, right?!

So I have been thinking of different, fun ways to engage my kiddos in sight word activities.  One review activity I LOVE and the kiddos find super interesting is... (drum roll) highlighting!  So simple, so smart and they love it!
I give my kiddos a highlighter, a newspaper or magazine page and pick a word or two to focus on.  Not only does it have them searching and using those identification skills, but it also illustrates how important and how frequently we use these words.  At the end of the activity, they are always surprised how much they have highlighted.
I sometimes use this activity with my whole group, in a small group or as a workstation.  So simple, right?!

I also created a sight word graphing game with dice using the Dolch words from the Pre-Primer and Primer lists. 
I made this game in the middle of last year, so I just mixed the word lists together for my kiddos and didn't really do it by skill level.  I wanted to use it this year right away, so I gave it a little face-lift and used the Dolch lists.

The words with the blue table are the words from the Pre-Primer list.  The words with the green tables are Primer words.

I think that having the colors will make it much easier to differentiate the game for my kiddos.

You can check out the Roll a Word here!

Isn't the game adorable?!   I got some of the graphics from The 3am Teacher.  You should check her out - so cute!  Something for all your classroom needs!



Hope you get a chance to check it out!

Monday, August 6, 2012

It's the Most -------- Time of the Year...

I know what the Staples commercials say, but I am not sure my tune sounds the same. Today was our first day back and I missed my little man like CRAZY. 

I hated dropping him off. 
I hated that someone else got to see his cute sleepy face after a nap. 
I hated that I was going to miss whatever new thing he decided to marvel the world with today. 
I hated it. 

I was sad all day. I found myself flipping through the picture gallery on my phone - thank goodness for camera phones!

Come on working moms, tell me I will hate this less as time goes on. 

My morning was filled with meetings (as most BTS weeks are) and then MORE meetings in the afternoon. I need to get some real time in my room so I can organize and get things rolling. Ahhh! The next time I will be able to work in my room is Thursday, the night of 'Meet the Teacher'. Stress factor = HIGH! 
I was able to get a few things done between meetings and missing my little man. My name tags are all set to go and most furniture is back where it belongs. 

And this...?
Well, with an unpaid work day last week and a few good minutes today...
I have a ton of little things to do and millions of BTS copies to make, but they will all have to wait until Thursday. :(  Until then, I will be in meetings and professional developments stressing about all that still needs to be done.  Ahh!

How is your BTS week going?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Numbers Numbers!

Since our district adopted the Common Core last year, I have been thinking a lot about math and how I will change the way I teach. The new Core standards are realistic (and wonderful) but rigorous. I think that I spent too much unnecessary time with the numbers 0-20. I know that this year I need to do a better job at teaching the numbers 0-20 at a much faster pace. I still want to provide the kiddos with opportunities to explore, compare, build and experiment with these numbers, but I understand how keeping a rigorous pace can help us get deeper into math sooner. It's important that young learners have a conceptual understanding of these numbers. If we don't teach it in kinder, they may be lost in math for a LONG time.
This coming school year, we will be using the GoMath! program. It looks great and I am very excited. Do you have any experience with GoMath! Tips to share?

I wanted to create some supplemental activities involving the numbers 0-20. I plan to use these activities during extra independent practice, in math stations and for homework practice.

I created activities that sequence from basic to complex so that it will move with my kiddos' progression. The pages begin with a focus on the numbers 0-5 and progress to number work with 0-20.

I incorporated many of the Common Core standards and included a variety activities with each group of numbers. This pack will give my kiddos a chance to:
*identify numbers
*write numbers
*match numbers
*tally numbers
*identify equalities/inequalities
*answer questions about how many
*practice number conservation skills

I am very excited to teach math this year! Looking forward to watching these kiddos grow into Mathematicians!

Please click the link if you are interested in this Animal Math Pack!

When I was creating this for my class, I got to thinking about my favorite thing to teach in math. I LOVE teaching the kiddos place value. It is so neat to watch those little brains at work and begin to understand large numbers and what they mean. What is your favorite part of your math curriculum?