Thursday, September 25, 2014

Going Fishing... Gonna Catch A Freebie

My students need to learn to identify letters, sounds, numbers, and even colors. Flash cards do not keep them engaged but going fishing holds their attention for a long period of time. I introduce and model this for several days with the entire group and eventually will put it in my literacy and math stations for additional practice. GO FISH!

Remember when we use to take a dowel rod and add a piece of string with a magnet? Okay this is not one of your memories but older teachers are on board with me. Lakeshore has these fishing poles which can be used for a bazillion activities in your classroom. If you are not able to create your own cards stick with me and I will help you make this happen.

Walmart carries self adhesive magnetic buttons that make this activity so simple to create. I created the cards and added the Open Court letter-sound cards right on top. Easy and effective. Naturally I
laminated the cards before adding the magnetic buttons.

Here are what the cards look like before cutting them apart. My head is spinning with other cards I can make. What would you want? I was even thinking of making cards with student names and pictures since they still point to each other and can't always tell me each other's name.

Once I have modeled this enough (not sure how long that will take) I am releasing it to be used in a literacy station with partners working together. Each child will fish for a card, say the sound of the card and the name of the letter. This is then colored in on a chart! This will keep them actively engaged and accountable.

We had so much fun playing this game as a class and we chanted "Going fishing... we're going to catch a fish" which made it even more fun. The chant was what you would use for going on a bear hunt....
I have a free download for these cards on my Facebook page if you are interested. Just "like" my page at the top and hit the fan freebie button on the left side and the file will open up. If this scares you to death grab a cute, young teacher and she will have no problem getting this for you. That's why I love young teachers. Click on this Like button to get to my Kindergarten Crayons FB page and leave a comment just because you are so wonderful!

What other cards would make you so happy? Remember to keep it simple. They just started school!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Homework Folders Make Me A Little Crazy

So now we are implementing the Common Core and I have to face the fact that my homework folder no longer "cuts it" since it does not reflect the standards I am now using. Oh dear! I have to reformat them AGAIN! Here we go... What do I want to include on these? I finally decided to change a few things but the basic stuff remains the same! First, I buy a set of legal size folders in bright colors (okay it was $30). They look like this:

Now I had to decide what matters the most on these folders because space is limited. First I put my name on the top on a long strip so if a student drops it (not uncommon) someone will return it to me!
I also put my start and end time since parents ask this throughout the year. My hw theme was Pete which should not surprise a soul! Lovin' it! On the left are my sight words, color coded by trimester. and the OCR letter/sound cards are on the right. Got it? On the bottom I write their name with proper formation as a model for when they are working at home. Good idea, right?
Here is the back of the folder and notice that a few things have changed. Our kids need to know 2D and 3D shapes so I have them here, labeled. They also need to be able to count to 100 and count by 10's so I included that. I want them to know their colors and how to read them so they can do many of the stations I have created and these are important words to anchor them when working independently. The sticker is to remind parents to send in a note when their child is absent since this becomes a huge issue at my school.
Finally when all the pieces are cut out and glued on the folder with a label at the top (student name) I am ready to laminate the folder. I open up the folder and slide the entire thing through the laminator, cut it out, staple each side and cover it with colored duct tape. Generally these last an entire year but they are a huge amount of work! I also make extra ones to have on hand.

Do you have an easier system that you use. I like the legal size because I make many things on 81/2 by 14" paper and want it to fit in here. I also have them take home a literacy bag with their little books. I would love new ideas for this. What do you put on your folder? Do you have a better system?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I Need to Come Up for Air

Those first few weeks of school can kill those who lack stamina and enthusiasm. As I look around the room I am just beginning to appreciate all the hard work my partner and I have put into our "Pete" environment. The entire room has been done in blue, red, yellow and a hit of green. It is starting to shape up. Let me know what you think...
Here are the cards for my October calendar because I am trying to stay ahead of the curve. I love how they turned out. Each month I will make the cards and add more components to this as I get a chance.
It is definitely improving and I will have more pictures as I get a chance to take some.
Our students are learning about colors and we had so much fun coloring in our teacher avatars so parents could remember our names. This was a big hit with our students! 

I created retelling cards that went with the first Pete the Cat story and the children did well with this activity. The next day we worked on prediction and talked about Pete walking through a big pile of grapes, peas, oranges, and even pudding. I asked them to "predict" what color his shoes would turn. 
This was fun and challenged our English language learners. Then during small group instruction the children had to color in Pete's shoes, reading the color words. They are really not ready for this so I put a tiny clue next to each color word. It was a win-win situation and helped to build their confidence. They must believe in themselves!
I finally finished my sight word circles and they are all hanging in my Reading Corner within the reach of the children. It will encourage them to practice these with a partner. I also added the color words. I can move these around the room easily when I need to refer to them.
Right now I am building my PowerPoint for Back to School and working on the design for my homework folder... no relaxing for me! What touches are you adding to your room to make it special? Please share.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Behind Closed Doors...

I am officially back in a kindergarten classroom. I have a new partner and a new room. This room is much smaller so I need to really think about how to set it up effectively. I have minimal space so many of the things I created are smaller and take up less room.
My theme this year is Pete the Cat so my room is covered in blue paper with pops of color in red, yellow, and green. My partner Dawn put up most of the paper and did an amazing job of tolerating my fussiness.
She rocks.

Here is an example of how I am displaying my sight words in chunks of ten. They will hang where the children can touch them easily. I am color coding them and I have little numbers at the top for reference. I made circles and taped them to a wide polka dotted ribbon. This took very little time and was easy to do. I love how it turned out!

These are the number cards I made but they are half a page in size and take up much less space. I made them 1-10 but will move on when I have the time and energy. You know how that is. If you want them I will give them to you as a gift. Just go to my FB page and "like" me at the top and hit fan freebie and they will show up easy, peasy. You are welcome.

I love these color word posters because Pete is holding a pencil in each color and is wearing matching shoes. It is too cute for words and turned out beautifully. I hope the kids like it as much as I do. I am making an extra set for them to use at centers. Cute, right?

I am a big fan of classroom rules and I don't ask the kids to come up with them. They are five and I am not interested in  "no kicking, no screaming, no hitting...." This are more aligned to PBIS and are numbered for reference. We will chant them each day. The little book provides another way to visit the rules but my real goal is to send it home for parents to see so they know what my expectations are. I have done a lot of reading about this and most educators believe that we are the teacher and should set our expectations. They do not feel students "buy in" more if they develop the rules themselves. Okay, I am not sure where I stand on this but I will have a discussion and see how it rolls. People have strong beliefs about this but I am willing to update and try something new. This is hard for me.

I have blogged about my tag system and I am here to tell you it really works. It came out of my little head and I have never looked back. Each child has their own icon and it shows up on all their things so they will recognized it immediately. For students who are not fluent in English this is a really awesome solution. You can purchase a version of this in my TpT store for just a few dollars. I could not live without these. I changed the icons up because I get tired of my own stuff.

My wonderful friend Susanna from Whimsy Workshop made me an avatar that really looks like me. I decided to use it when the kids need time to relax and just color because I have slammed so much information at them. I have one for my partner too. She loves this! Then we can send it home for our parents so they remember our names... genius, right? They can post it on the refrigerator for reference.

If you know me you know that I obsess on Pete the Cat and headbands so we are making a headband the first day that says we are rocking in our kindergarten shoes. I did not use this kind of paper for the strip but just wanted to show you a picture of what it might look like. I cut strips of construction paper. My partner and I cut our the white template and stapled one side to the strip so that the will go quickly. The kids have trouble with sitting for too long and I am hoping they all walk out the first day with this headband on. 

There is still much to do but it is shaping up slowly and I will share as the weeks go by. Meet Dawn. She is my new partner and I know how lucky I am to have her in my life. Here is our frame and ready or not... LOOK OUT KINDERGARTEN, HERE I COME!

Have you made any changes?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Clap, Tap, Stomp, and Snap!

I don't know about you people but I pound on syllables throughout the year. Some kids get it right away and don't need a lot of practice and other kids have no clue what they are listening for. They just plain don't hear it. It drives me nuts so I realize I need to do this many ways, throughout the day. Here are some of the ways I practice this skill.
1. We clap it but some kids think we are applauding so keep a watchful eye on that little doodle.
2. We touch our head, tummy, and toes depending on the number of parts.
3. We shake a canister that is filled with rice ( yes the top is hot glued down- I am not that dumb!)
4. We stretch it with mini slinkies. (Party City has them in packs)
5. We stomp it with our feet and yes the boys get into this a bit too much but lay down some rules.
6. We lay down teddy bears for the right number of parts.

What do my students like the best?
When we do their names. This means something to them and then I might physically sort them in groups by how many parts are in their name. This gets them up and moving. 
Can you feel my pain? 
I just created this packet so students can practice this during workshop time and you can pull them into small groups and do it as a part of their work work. I created 2 mini books for each month of the year which is nice for reinforcing material you are addressing anyway. Here is the kicker. Once you have introduced them with the teacher posters, guided them through the foldable, let them do another one (same month) using a bingo dauber. They will love this. What is it about a dauber that thrills them so much? These are cheap at the Dollar Tree so grab a bunch.

If you don't want to use a dauber students can color in or highlight the correct answer. These can also be part of your homework pack for the week.

 Are you on board? I am definitely giving this a try. Buy them while TpT is having their sale and my entire store is 20% off. Don't forget to type in BOOST before you purchase for a bigger savings! DON'T FORGET! Click on this picture to get to this packet.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

What... Another Back to School Sale?

Can you believe this? TpT is having another sale because so many of us were not ready to buy yet. We were still soaking up sunshine, sipping on delicious drinks, and eating amazing food. Reality has hit home. I can't put it off for another day. I AM GOING BACK TO SCHOOL. Yup, time to take out the cleaning tools and hit my little space and make it special. My car is packed with everything Pete and I have all my cleaning products in the back seat. I will be working all week hanging paper, border, and anything else to make it look welcoming. How about you?
Now that I have dragged my head out of the clouds I can start thinking about those first few days and how to keep the tears to a minimum. More about that later...

Teachers often ask me what I start the year out with and the truth is I have a few simple products that I like to use and I read lots of Pete the Cat stories. We play the music and sings Eric Litwin's songs. I try to keep it light and simple the first few days so that I don't overwhelm them with my BIG personality.Products that I love can be found in my Tpt store so click here and make life easy. They are all on sale (hug me later) for 20% off because you have already spent a million dollars decorating the room (don't lie to me I know you).
Here is what I am opening up with:

1. Classroom Jobs to Build Community: has a little book that is adorable
2. A Cut and Paste Alphabet Book: love this and easy to use
3. I Can Cut, Paste, Sort, and Write the Alphabet : cheap and easy to use
4. Sparkle Readers: My kids adore these books and the work is done for you
5. Tag You're It! Best product ever (buy both and you will want to hug me) editable name tag system
6. Sight Words to Rock Your Room 1/2 : You will use this all year long
7. All the mini books (alphabet, numbers, and syllables) kids love all things mini

Okay now that I have spent all your money DO NOT FORGET TO USE THE CODE BOOST at the end right before making your purchase or you will want to jump off a cliff. Happy shopping my friends and thank you for all the support you provide me with!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Pete the Cat Comes To Kindergarten... It's All Good

I finally did it. I finally bought a giant Pete the Cat for my classroom. It is adorable. I purchased it on Amazon and justified it in my head with a gift certificate. Once it showed up... no regrets.
I decided to do a Pete the Cat theme in my classroom this year so I have been painting, cutting, using Modge Podge, etcf. to transform my teaching tools to jazz them up in Pete colors. I am happy with the results but thank goodness you can't see my house (let's just say that my husband is tripping over drawers, canisters, fadeless paper, and all things Petified (not petrified) that I have been creating.
Here is a peek at some of what I have purchased or created so far. What do you think?

I showed these to you before but I bought more of these for signs I might need on activity days. This is a great management tool and students will know where to go. These are so adorable and were just a dollar in Ikea.
Yup, you guessed it... Target Dollar Spot but they are $3 each. However I am hoping they hold up fine. I just added the labels and included Pete on each. A*D*O*R*A*B*L*E. I only included a few of these but there are eight of them. Each one will hold all the books I read for each unit of study in Open Court. 
Dollar Tree had these canisters and I knew they would be perfect in my classroom. They are plastic so that no one ends up bleeding. I put labels on them and filled them with tons of supplies that will be easy to access for me and my students. I wish I had gotten more of these!
These letters were on sale in Walmart and I just grabbed a few little bottles of acrylic paint and some sponge brushes to make them a little cuter. This will be perfect for my reading corner and will brighten up the room. I love the sneakers at the bottom of each letter! I modge podged the letters once they dried to add some shine.
Here is one of my favorite projects. These are 2 sets of drawers stacked on top of each other. I found beautiful primary colored scrapbooking papers and used them to make these bright and cheerful. I just cut simple strips and modge podged them on each side of the drawer. I love the rainbow look of these and I want to store all the materials for each day in the individual drawers. Pete's pencil and sneakers match the color of each drawer. I am so happy with this!
Here is a smaller version of these drawers for my Guided Reading groups. I can store their little books in here and any word work they need to finish.
Dollar Tree had these containers and I bought them without a plan. I admit that they came in the right colors which forced my purchase. Then it hit me. They would make perfect trash cans to put on their tables for trash. This will be a great management tool. Hopefully students won't try to get up every 2 seconds to throw something away. Is this something you have to deal with too or is it just me?
Last but not least is a little notebook I wanted to keep for informal observations or just a "to do" list. I hole punched the upper right side and just tied a little perky bow in it.
That's it for now but there will be more to come... What do you think? Any suggestions? Things are shaping up but the work... lets just say, "oh my..."
Enjoy your Sunday. It's all good.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My First You Tube Video! Am I hip or what!?!

All of us at Primary Chalkboard wanted to do something BIG for back to school for you. We want to help with those first few months of school. I wish we could give you: more sleep, more money, and more time ….
But since we can’t, we are throwing you a party!!!!!!!!!!
Who doesn't LOVE a party? This isn't just any party. Get ready for this....
It’s a YOU TUBE party!

Yep. That's right. It's a YouTube party!
Woo-hoo! We are so excited for you all to party with us. We've all made videos to share some of our favorite back to school tips and tricks.

Click My Picture Below!!!!

There are so many tips already in our party and 5 more coming to you every day! Tips for -- organizational, DIY, helpful ideas-- lots of things you can do RIGHT NOW to make your back to school a little easier!  Take a break from reading blogs and see our tips come alive in our videos.
Additionally you can win: 

$100 Amazon Gift Card
$100 TeachersPayTeachers Gift Card
A fabulous Michael Kors bag (you know, the one you want but can't justify spending the money for)?

There will be three winners!!!!!
Now you're excited, right?
You can gain EXTRA entries in the giveaway by watching our videos and entering our SECRET WORDS into the Rafflecopter (but I know you were going to do that anyway, so... 2 birds, 1 stone).

We will be linking up 5 new videos every day this week...
so you can come back, watch, and
enter every day.

Where do you start?  Click on the links below to watch the first five videos. Don't forget to come back each time and enter the secret words into our rafflecopter. Good luck!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dear New Kindergarten Teachers... I have a message for you

Dear New Kindergarten Teachers,
This is my annual letter that I like to write as school approaches. It is now August and soon you will be decorating a classroom for the first time or returning to a room full of boxes and dust. It all feels overwhelming but take a deep breath because I am going to guide you through some first steps in this process. Why me? I have taught this grade for over 25 years. I guess you would call me a veteran teacher. Sit back, grab a cup of Joe and read on.

1. Create a room environment that you love: Do not try to do everything at once. Clean up the room and be sure all boxes are put away. Put up fadeless paper or use fabric on your bulletin boards. This will save you so much effort in the long run. Stick to colors that are calm and pleasing to the eye. I am a big fan of black with colorful borders. 
2. Do not fill up your bulletin boards with "stuff." You can put up titles if you can't bear the empty walls but keep in mind that you want to fill the room with beautiful student work! Does that make sense?

You are going to want to set aside one bulletin board in your room just for writing. I use fancy clothespins and keep all their writing stacked together with the current one on top. You can dye these clothespins to make them colorful. I use medium size clothespins (smaller than standard ones) from Walmart. Check out this simple process and wear rubber gloves to do this.

Here is the perfect packet for that: This will provide you with a systematic monthly writing form for each month of the year. Click on the picture to take you there. My teachers love this product. At the end of the year you can collect all the pages, take a picture of each student for the cover and use this for Open House. 
Click on the picture to grab each item in my store! 

You will need to focus on letters and sounds this year and these are known as Foundational Skills when looking at the Common Core. Students will need opportunities to do lots of word work to build their skills. This is the work of teaching them how to read. You will need pocket charts (at least 5-6), a carpet with colorful squares that accommodates your whole class and places for small group instruction and independent work. Stay with me. What kind of word work should you do: Here are some possibilities:


Hot off the press:

Here is my latest alphabet packet that I love. It is simple and engaging since kids are using dot markers to identify letters of the alphabet. You can make a simple alphabet book from this and parents can review the letters with their student. I cannot wait to use this.

  I also created a bundle of beginning of the year materials that I think make life much easier
These are just simple little foldables that are a single page and require little prep. I send them home with parents to fold and many of them appreciate being able to help.

Throughout the year students need practice with letters and their sounds, as well as numbers. I use these in my classroom and love them. Why? I am a fan of cut and paste practice that students can do independently once it has been modeled. These are Common Core aligned and require some critical thinking since it has examples and non example.They are very simple and will support any reading program.
I am required to use the Open Court Reading program in my classroom but I found that the readers did not build enough fluency and did not give my ELL's enough support so I designed Sparkle Readers to help fill in the gaps. I have carefully aligned them to the Common Core and have both fiction and non fiction text. My kids adore these! I have 7 different sets. 

What makes these unique? I am so glad you asked me. I have dots under the text to help your young learners with tracking and I have also provided strips with the same text to use in a pocket chart so that you can practice the text with your students before you even hand them a book. You will love these and I keep promising to make more. I will make that happen.

What about those sight words. Principals want you to collect data and want students to be able to recognize these with great ease. These are words that appear in most emergent readers. This is my top seller because it works:
As the year progresses our students need to learn how to blend sounds to make words. How in the world do you teach that? These packets spell out the process and work well with young students. You will see a variety of them.

Some frosting on the cake:

Kindergarten students love to help in the classroom so I finally decided to make a job chart  to build community in my classroom. It changed the climate entirely. I spent time explaining the importance of each job and students looked forward to being assigned important responsibilities. It is the best behavior management tool on the planet! Mine is flexible and I show you how to "build" it for your specific classroom needs. How did I survive without this? Included in this packet is a book to run off for your students a
bout building community with jobs . It 's a "must have."
In kindergarten is is important to label everything in sight or kids use whatever is close by. Trust me I have learned the hard way. Backpacks need labels, cubbies, tables, and and journals. These are editable so that makes them well worth having! You just type in your student names. WOOHOO. I gained a lot of popularity with this little item... I am not even kidding.

Are you exhausted from this post? Stay with me just a little longer. Common Core is all about using a collaborative model and I created a few things to build this at the kindergarten level. I have tried this products and had so much success. If you give children a bingo dauber they will engage in learning. This is a trade secret that few teachers know about. Here are my collaborative packets that you can whip out when you are being observed:
Check out the rest but I have tried to hit some of the hot spots for learning. Remind yourself to take one day at a time. Forgive yourself when things go south. It happens to all of us. Don't forget to go outside and play. Love your students. Remember to hug them and listen to their stories. 
I am having a huge sale in my TpT store so join the shopping frenzy Monday and Tuesday. Now is the time to buy these products that will get you organized and on your way to a successful year.
My entire store will be 20% off and you will get an additional 10% off from TpT using the code BTS14. Wowza. Now you can afford more! Have a wonderful year in the best grade there is. I love kindergarten.

Click on this picture to get to my store and happy shopping friends.