Sunday, March 22, 2015

Egg-actly What We Need Now That Assessments Are Over!

Have you seen plastic eggs just about everywhere you look and wondered what you can do with them in the classroom. I posted about this last year but I thought it was worth repeating because my kinderkids loved them so much. What is it about things that are "mini" in size? These activities reflect the skills I am pounding on right now! Yes, they are CCSS aligned. What are you working on that I missed? Leave me some suggestions!

I am bringing these in on Monday as a surprise for my students and I hope they love them as much as I do. I made response sheets for the activities and I will have students work with a partner.
Where can you buy the eggs? I got them last year in Dollar Tree and Walmart and I have more than enough to make these and about 2 million more (hoarder issues). The smart thing to do is buy them after Easter so that they cost pennies! These are in my tpt store if you click on each picture.  I have an additional set entitled Scrambled Eggs that you can find here. I hope they make your day EGGCITING!

Monday, February 23, 2015

What's Your Opinion Minion?

What? What are you talking about? Is it really true? Is it really happening? Where did you hear that?
Yup, TpT is honoring teachers by having a special sale in recognition of  their super powers both in and out of the classroom. Are you feeling the love? This puts a lump in my throat and brings tears to my eyes. This this a wonderful way of acknowledging the important work we do each day with children. I am sending a huge, global thank you to each teacher out there for loving and caring for our students. You make such a difference and I feel gratitude everyday for the hard work and long hours you put in. You all rate as super heroes with super powers. Remember that and carry it in your heart. Many of us do not hear that enough!

10 Reasons Why You Should Love A Teacher:

1. Teachers manage to love all of their students, even the challenging ones who drive you crazy. 
2. Teachers can get their point across to any parent, on any painful topic and put a positive spin on it. They are communication rock stars. They learn to be experts by practicing on report cards when leaving comments. We speak in our own code!  
3. Teachers are generous to a fault. They create beautiful classrooms for their students that are often nicer than their homes. They offer their peers support, ideas, and curriculum at a moment's notice.
4. Teachers are organizers: They can take all kinds of junk and organize it in a purposeful way. The can create order from total chaos. They have systems for everything imaginable and can find  anything in their files! Warning: Do not mess with a teacher's files or paperwork.
5. Teachers are flexible and never let unexpected announcements, fire drills, lock- downs or vomit impact on their ability to roll out a lesson. They never let you see them sweat!
6. Teachers wear a million hats all day long. They are mom to an entire classroom, therapist, nurse,  drama queen, and decision maker. 
7. Teachers are feisty! They will scream and yell to protect the students in their room. They will challenge administrators and beg, borrow, and steal to help students to be successful.
8. Teachers are so sentimental. They love to hug their students, give a high five for a successful moment, and have been known to cry over a child's homemade card or gift.
9.  Teachers are loyal and never stop talking about their profession with their fellow teaching friends.This is tough on spouses and a teacher's own children but they learn to endure. My husband can verify this. He warns those that are meeting me for the first time.
10. Teachers are the best friends to have. I know this to be true. I am a teacher and proud to be one.

Fill your cart with amazing materials. I have a few things that I have worked hard on but my favorite is my opinion writing. I hope you will take a look at it. It is some of my best work.
I am using this in my own classroom.  Have you tried doing opinion writing in your classroom with 5 year olds?  They love it because they ALL HAVE OPINIONS ON EVERY TOPIC IMAGINABLE. My students love taking surveys, graphing the results, and writing their opinion on a variety of kid friendly topics. You can see it right here.
Happy Shopping.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lincoln is so Stinkin' Cute

My students have loved reading these 2 emergent readers about Lincoln and Washington. They are right at their level and they feel so proud and successful. I have them in my TpT store for just a couple of dollars... no big deal. We read many different stories and compared and contrasted him to Martin Luther King. Their understandings were amazing.
We guided them through these drawings, first on a white board and talked about Lincoln's tall hat and how he stored important papers in it. They were fascinated by his ability to teach himself how to read and we also talked about how he persevered (our unit of study) and set goals for himself. Whew, that's a lot for a 5 year old to take in but they really loved hearing all the non fiction stories. I swear a 5 year old can make a connection to almost anything you throw at them! 
How adorable are these. We hung these in our window and it looks precious from the outside. Both classes are there and I love watching our students proudly show their parents which one they did. My administrator laughed so hard she almost choked! Try this with your kids.

So naturally our sight word practice was using Abraham Lincoln and this time we hid a penny behind one of the cards. My kids do not get tired of this activity and thought the penny was so much fun to find. This is a great way to build sight word fluency with young children. We chanted, "Abraham Lincoln was his name. He wanted men to be the same." Okay, don't judge. This was not my best...
The Ikea frames come in red, white and blue so I took advantage of this and did the teen numbers in ten frames for my students to practice and do with a partner. They adored this activity and it really keeps them engaged. They picked up the frame, brought it to their seat and each student counted and recorded their response after they both agreed on the answer. I love these frames and use them all the time! 

Where did that 4 day weekend go? I am preparing for a conference and trying to finish up my PowerPoint. I will tell you more about that later. Come back to find out who I am presenting with. She is such a superstar in the blogging world!
Have a great week friends.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Hurry and check this out if you use The Open Court Reading Program

Do you have the Winter Blues right now? I am offering a little freebie for all my Open Court buddies. It looks like this. I use this game with my class all the time and they love it. I gave you all the directions. You can hug me later. Yup we are still hammering teaching beginning sounds to a few of my strugglers but the others just enjoy the activity. You can have students do it with a partner or just work on it independently. You are the boss and get to decide!
Open Court is a reading program that has been around for a long time. Our district continues to use it and based on my Facebook fans many of them are also using it. I create many things to scaffold this program for my English language learners and I decided to post a collaborative activity (yes you need to be using this model if you are implementing Common Core). So long story short I posted a super freebie that you will want to grab if you can use it...
How do I get the freebie?
Click on the icon for Kindergarten Crayons and it will take you right to my FB page. Easy, right? Even I can figure this out!
Are you there? Okay now "like" my page at the top. Got it? Awesome. Stay with me here. One more step so don't wimp out on me. See the button on the left side that says Fan Freebie? Hit it and download this 24 page file. Yup leave a comment so I know you got it. Thanks. Now you are my FB friend and you will see other cool stuff along the way.

Monday, February 2, 2015

We Are All Over Those Mean Teens

We have worked on those "mean teens" all week and the kids loved this Sparkle Reader so much. They actually stamped into a ten frame using the back of a new pencil and a red stamp pad. This was so exciting to them and they really did a great job. Stamping can put my teeth on edge if I am really being honest. I am not a big fan of red ink all over your hands, clothes, and mouth... yuck.

The big conversation was about filling the first frame completely and then moving on to the second one for the additional ones. The text in the book supported their learning and they got to trace each number, as well as "rainbow write" it. THEY LOVED THIS ACTIVITY! I think the repetition of this activity and the use of manipulatives to get them ready for this book made a huge difference. They get it. If you want this reader it comes in a set of 4. You can go to my TpT store and it is very well priced. Pick that little number up right here.  They are so proud of these books and I love making readers for math concepts.

I love these frames so much and they are only a dollar each at Ikea. For weeks I have tried to come up with an activity for using the bigillion extra ones I purchased but nothing came to my brain until WHAM... it hit me. I can do write the room activities and move them around the room where ever I want because they stand up on their own. I love that you can use the front and back of the frame too! Because we are learning about weather...yup those little cuties are all dressed in different clothing. Awesome, right?

The kids were in love with this activity and I was in love with their engagement. It was SILENT when they were recording. Scary silent. I love scary silent. My more capable kids worked on this independently and the kids who find this kind of word work challenging did it with a partner. I am making these for math, word work, and sight words. Any other brilliant ideas? Who is on board with this idea?

Have a great start to the month of February and come back to visit soon!

Monday, January 19, 2015

What Will the Weather Be? Ask Our Meteorologist!

So we made a cloud in our classroom and the children loved putting this together. They learned how to fan fold paper which they loved doing. The results were so cute and now they are hanging in the window of our classroom.
My teaching partner Dawn made this adorable visor for the "meteorologist of the day" who gives us the daily weather report. They love it and it took her very little time to make. The visor came from Michaels and cost a dollar. It looks hilarious on our kids and they love it! Score. The weather journals are simple and another big favorite with our students. I do a guided drawing and a simple sentence under a document camera. We use twistables (crayons) which make them look so nice. The book on the right is an emergent reader that we are working on this week. It is simple but effective. I love easy stuff! 
I have been working hard on teaching my students how to work collaboratively and have been building activities for them to practice these skills. It has been challenging but the pay off has been huge and they are really doing a great job. We practice these skills frequently and they are making so much progress.
At this time of the year my students are working on counting, writing, and identifying teen numbers. I have been busy making games to keep them engaged and interested in practicing these skills. This is challenging but they are coming along... I love talking about those "mean teens" that are so hard to deal with.

This is another "write the room" activity back by popular demand to help my students build their academic vocabulary. They love taking their clipboard and searching for our wacky weather words. Enough for now. I hope you had a good break from school and now I am off to bed.
Have a great week of teaching and let's stay connected! What weather activities do you love to do?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

"Weather" You Want to Read This Or Not!

It was a busy week in my room as we opened up a unit on weather and started reviewing the seasons and weather. Try talking about the seasons when you live in southern California! We were laughing ourselves sick over this but we grounded in with lots of photographs from the internet and some great books. The biggest hit was making a child the meteorologist of the day! The kids loved this so much and we used this little number to record their thinking when they stuck their heads out the door: 

 I asked them how hot or cold it felt outside and what the sky looked like. They were so invested in answering me! We review this chart so the children have the academic vocabulary to do this. I posted these cards on a magnetic board within their reach so they can use bright round magnets to show their response!

Once our meteorologist has determined the weather we record it in our little book. I model how to draw the weather under the document camera and we write a simple sentence together. This provides an opportunity to talk about the conventions of writing. The students love this simple, little journal.
We had some much fun reading about snow and polar bears this week and the best part of the week was doing a blubber experiment where students put on a glove (filled with Crisco) and stick both hands in ice water. Oh my goodness this was hilarious and so much fun for them. We told them the polar bear is able to live in such a cold climate because of his blubber which keeps him warm. Let's not go there with my blubber. No wonder I am always hot.
My students cannot get enough of "Write the Room" activities and ask me for these all the time. I taught them how to do this during small group instruction where I could guide them. I let them use clipboards but I could see what they needed more help with. Now my head is spinning with ideas to keep their enthusiasm going!
We are still plugging away on beginning sounds but many of my students can do this independently so we are moving on to ending sounds and those CVC words. I have so many packets to support their learning that I can't wait to show them.
Have a great week of teaching... teach like your hair is on fire!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Open My Door... Come In To Explore

Happy New Year to all my teacher friends. I have many resolutions, including blogging more often but I swear life just rolls along at top speed for me. Here are a few things I have created that have kept me busy.

Wow, are you having trouble getting back into the swing of things? Two weeks and getting out of my pj's and putting on real clothes feels cruel and unfair to me. When that alarm went off Monday morning I felt tortured but was excited to be back with my students. Talk about mixed emotions.
I sent a winter packet home with my students during this holiday break and was anxious to see who would come back with it. I designed it to review many of the concepts that they need to move forward in the new year. Guess what? Most of them did the packet and did it well. We went over it on our first day back (or why bother) and it was well worth the time. It was a great teaching tool to review concepts and let them share their work. I recommend doing this if you are concerned that your students might lose ground over the break. My FB fans had mixed feelings about me doing this and I loved reading their reasons!

Here are some of the things I made to return to work to get started with a new trimester and new skills. I now build my own homework week by week so it is customized to the needs of my own students. This has made a huge difference! We go over it every Friday and it really gives me a huge sense of what my students can do independently! Wooza! It also lets me know if parents are supporting their learning! Talk about an old dog learning new tricks!
We are moving on to a new set of sight words now so I sent home the list for parents to keep and use with their child. Finally, I wrote a new emergent reader about snow using the sight words big and small. We are just starting a new unit on seasons and weather so this was a nice way to introduce snow and arctic animals. They loved this little book.
In top of all this blending sounds to make words is a skill that my students need to start working on. This can be so challenging for an English language learner and I have to pull out all the bells and whistles to teach this.

Don't I look organized... not so much. However this is set up for the kids to work on collaboratively in small groups of 4 once I have worked on it during guided reading. These are Open Court letter sound cards that I group to make simple cvc words. Students work on a mat to lay down the letter that makes the sound on the card, blend them together to figure out the word. We call this "riddle me" and my students will love this. When students help each other many of them acquire skills faster and it feels less threatening. Each team has their own set of cards and a recording sheet. Once they finish their set they will rotate to a new set of cards. Could be a disaster or the most fun in the world! I will let you know... pinky promise. Now off  to start my Tuesday! What are you doing in your room? Open your door and let me see...
Oh I almost forget... look what I got over the holiday break from my husband! It was the best surprise ever but I will let you in on a secret. Come a little closer. I think he was dying to own this but worried that I would not be too enthusiastic. The man loves me but he loves cars (a little more), just sayin'.

Have a great day of teaching!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Getting to the Core of the Gingerbread Man and a Freebie... Run As Fast As You Can!

Our kindergarten classroom has been so busy with gingerbread learning and making our parent gifts. On top of that, we have report card conferences this week too. The children have been working on making their frames using pasta I dyed myself and added glitter to. It was a giant hit with my students. They took their gift making project seriously and did a beautiful job. We hole punched the top and tied a matching pipe cleaner across both sides so it could be hung up! They turned out so beautifully! The kids are thrilled.

Now what is going in the frame? Hold on to your hat. Remember I live in Southern California. My partner and I dressed each child in a hat and scarf and put a snow scene into Power Point and made it a background. The pictures are fabulous and my students look like they are standing in the snow. I LOVE HOW THESE TURNED OUT BUT IT TOOK FOREVER TO DO. I have twins and took their picture individually and together... They look precious all bundled up.

This was my version of  a "write the room" activity I taught students in small group. I wanted to be sure they could do this effectively. For the students who needed more support, I modeled how to make each letter for the beginning sound and they were much more successful. My top group did this more independently and I just put all the cards on another table for them to walk over and get. They loved it. At the bottom of the page I had them draw their favorite character, in a setting. It keep the early finishers engaged and they had so much fun doing it. 
We have been reading stories and comparing and contrasting them (yup I am on my Common Core game) and the kids cannot get enough of that bad guy... "the fox". So I made some games to reinforce the concepts we are working on but I used all GBM images. They loved me for this! I also had them do a ton of collaborative and partner work, practicing oral language and academic vocabulary. They did such a great job with this.

Students had a great time with this sight word game and helped each other with them. They placed them into a graph to record their work. This provides some accountability. Each child used a different colored marker and you could feel the enthusiasm around the room. They were so engaged in their work and I actually let them talk to each other! Woohoo!

This is an emergent reader I made several years ago that has the children practice writing numbers and reading some simple repetitive text. They had to draw the buttons on each gingerbread man that matched the number and it was a great way to access their number sense. If you want a copy of this you can grab this right here. Leave a comment and let me know if you liked it! 
The gingerbread play dough was a giant hit this year. I let them use this with ten frame mats I made and it was a great independent center. Try it and I bet your students will love it too! I'm going to add gingerbread cookie cutters this week.
Here students worked together to do a syllable sort using gingerbread pictures. We went over these pictures before I released them and they felt so successful doing this with their teams. The team captain (strong academic student) helped to guide them and those that needed more support got it from others in their group. I love the idea of students teaching each other.
We do a lot of guided drawing in my room so I loved using this Jan Brett video where she shows children how she draws the gingerbread baby. My students were so enthralled with this. It was great fun.
Our students love doing projects with their families and this time we sent home... you guessed it- the gingerbread man. They brought them back on Friday and were so proud of their work. They are so adorable and one family added music and lights to this! Oh my!
This is a flow map I created for my pocket chart. It is to retell the story and is a great performance based assessment to use in kindergarten. It connects directly to my little retelling reader that they use when making their bracelet. The focus is on the gingerbread man being the main character. 
Spinner games have been a big hit in my room this week so I created a variety of them so they can review important math and literacy skills. Students did these with a partner and I differentiated them depending on their needs. 
I would come back and share my activities for our special Gingerbread Activity Day but this is a good peek at the fun we are having. What are you doing in your room before winter break? I am trying to keep them busy and engaged in learning fun!