Sunday, November 16, 2014

Together We Are Better

Our district has a Thanksgiving Unit of Study that kindergarten teachers implement during this time of year. It is the story of the Pilgrims and Wampanoag working together to reach common goals. We open up the unit with collaborative activities in groups of four but I will talk about that in another post. Here is the pictorial I made to help the children retell the story. If you are not familiar with this GLAD strategy I recommend learning more about it. It is great for ELL's. Each title and picture has velcro so that I can hand out the pieces and make the learning more interactive!
The Mayflower is on a stick so a student can show the journey the pilgrims took. All of this helps to build oral language.

To help support this unit I made a few extra activities I thought my students might really enjoy. There is a lot of new content vocabulary they need to know so I made a separate set of cards just for this unit. We can refer to it as we travel through the unit and it will help support their writing. I attached all the cards and it is a mobile that can be moved around the classroom. What do you think?
We are continuing to work on syllables and I thought they would love to do this in a pocket chart as drum beats. I better look for those musical instruments that I packed away. I thought it would be fun to stay with the Native American theme here.

Here is another version of our pocket chart sight word game but this time I am hiding a wetu behind one of the Wampanoags. I better think of a good chant for this before tomorrow!

This is just a simple math game 0-10 showing a variety of ways to express a number. I thought it would be fun to do this on the sails of the Mayflower and add Pilgrims and Wampanoags to the pictures. 

There is so much more I could add but I have too much to teach in just five days so I think I better stick to just these few but I also have a packet that I use during this time with great little emergent readers: I made this last year but I love many of these ideas

Both of these are available in my store if you might need a little extra for your math and literacy stations. Click on each picture to find them. What Thanksgiving activities do you love to do? 
Have a great week of learning!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Adding Just A Little Pumpkin Spice to your math and literacy stations...

I hope I am not too late to the Pumpkin Party. I just had a Pumpkin Activity Day and made about a "zillion" pumpkin centers to review all the concepts we have been working on in our classroom. We do not celebrate Halloween and yes I want all students to be able to attend school, regardless of their religious beliefs. Okay, now that we have that out of the way I want to share some of the fun we had...
For those students who still need letter naming practice this is an activity the children greet with great eenthusiasm They have a recording sheet and work with a partner rolling the soft  die and coloring in the number. I can put letters they are struggling with in these clear pockets and differentiate, based on individual needs
This is a popular, non competitive game in my classroom and provides another means for reviewing sight words that we have introduced. I had a chant that went with this and children love getting a turn and picking a card they can be successful with. A picture of pumpkin seeds are hiding behind a word. If a child pulls the right card and can identify the word, they become the winner and the game begins again. I use this whole group but the children love doing this during workshop time! Activities can be so simple.
My students loved doing these ten frames and we had great "math talk" about how you don't always need to count each candy corn. We learned if the frame is filled then we know there are 10, one row means there are 5, etc. Students who are still struggling used counters and placed them on top of these images and counted before finding the numerical match. The loved filling in the response sheet that went with this on the following day.
Who doesn't like a great game of BINGO? When the parent volunteer brought out candy corn to mark the answers I thought the students were going to lose their minds from enthusiasm! It was too cute. However, I told them they would be able to take 5 pieces home in a baggie and get permission from Mom and Dad. Yup, let them decide if they can eat them. 

This was the most popular activity of the day. A parent ran this center and did such a great job. All the supplies need to be well organized and this year I got smart and made large posters for them to follow. They also had a matching little book to take home to retell the story and explain the color of each bead. This was a  a huge hit. The moms really did a great job monitoring this station.
This is an outdoor activity but well worth the time. Many of our students have never seen the inside of a pumpkin and felt how slimy it is. They got a chance to see the strands close up and touch the pulp and seeds. They helped me add the soil and water and now we are going to see if anything magical happens! The following morning a child swore he saw a sprout coming up and I loved his conviction.
We were not ending the day without sharing a couple of pumpkin pies and deciding if we liked it or not. We even put a little whipped cream on top. All our parents who came to help shared this treat and helped make this day so special. 
These are just a few highlights from the day. We made headbands and did some fabulous pumpkin investigations. The children were shocked that pumpkins float in water and it was so much fun to drop a huge one in a large tub of water.
It was a great day of learning and the children took all their special projects home in a folder. We even squeezed in a simple art project and tasted pumpkin seeds. 

Do you have use for these materials? If you do you can purchase all 159 pages in my TpT store. Click right here to get there.

Now I better start working on assessments for report cards.
Happy Sunday!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Cutting Paper Not Hair Or Clothing!

Do you have those students in your classroom that I refer to as "scissor happy"? I do. They love to cut anything in sight and I need to pay attention or disaster is right around the corner. When my students get tired of cutting out pictures, they start making confetti. That means they are not on the lines I have for them to follow and they just want to get the project over with! Who is on my page? So when I decided to make them a Letters and Sounds book I really tried to keep it simple but effective. Here is what I can up with:
 This is quick and easy but I think it will still be effective. We have been using Open Court for about 12 years and I am amazed that this never dawned on me before. I want to keep this in the classroom as a resource that kids can use when writing or doing other related activities. That is what Common Core is suggesting we do and it makes sense to me!
When we are working on letters and sounds I can pick and choose which pages I want to do. I am running these off 2 at a time and will save so much paper this way. I think this might be more fun for a little kinder person that writing and gluing a whole page. I will let you know if it is effective or not.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Passion for Pumpkins

Our school does not celebrate Halloween. We are a fundamental school that has many students who do not celebrate this holiday. So I always need to come up with activities that are still lots of fun challenge them academically, but no witches and goblins can come into our rooms. I also want them to reflect the Common Core. That can be a tall order at this time of the year! 

I worked on a variety of activities today and have not moved away from my computer. I really had to think about what to use to build letter naming fluency and would not be "more of the same thing" for my struggling readers. Yup, you read that right. We are already talking about progress monitoring this little ones but that is a whole, other post. 

Students just roll the cube with a partner (collaborative model) and fill in this little recording sheet after telling their partner the name of the letter. I am giving them crayons that are fall colors to spice it up and make it more fun. I can have them focus on the letters they need to work on since I am the boss of the cards! Easy and fun.

If you have been following my blog you know all about this game. Now I made it with a pumpkin graphic. These are the words I want my kids to know fluently so I have repeated them several times. One card has pumpkin seeds hidden behind it and when the student pulls the card and finds this they win this round. Here is what we like to chant once a student has been picked... "Pumpkin, pumpkin on a vine, we love your seeds. They taste so fine."
This is a very simple ten frame activity that I am introducing during guided math. I want students to understand that when a 10 frame is filled you don't even need need to count the candy! For students with a limited understanding of this I will give them easier cards and have them put counters right on top of the candy corn to make these concepts more concrete.
Here is a simple cut and paste activity that I will provide for students who are ready for more abstract learning. I will use it for my top students. It might make a great homework activity, once students clearly understand these concepts. 
Students need lots of practice counting and this is just another activity using pumpkins and seeds.
I'm going to make a recording sheet that allows students to draw their own seeds. They will love doing that. I like the idea of showing 10 on one pumpkin and putting more seeds on another to count all the seeds together. Here is where subitizing work will really pay off. Your higher students will not always need to count each and every seed!

I love this little activity the best! What do you think?
My students have been having a blast will all the fishing games I have mad but seriously you don't fish for a pumpkin! So I had this big, clear spoon in my kitchen that I glued a magnet to. I covered the inside with a pumpkin. So students will play with a partner and dig for pumpkins. Each card has a magnet on the back.Once they identify the letter, the partner will place them on the vine with lowercase letters on the bottom and uppercase letters on top. I hope my little farmers like this activity. 

These gorgeous graphics all belong to Whimsy Workshop. I recommend purchasing them if you want to make some of your own centers. Aren't they adorable? Please check out her products. I love all of them! Her blog is right here.

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.