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Saturday, December 22, 2012

It Was A Crazy Day...

Have you ever seen this project? I taught this to fourth and fifth grade students at my school and they worked in collaborative groups to complete these flowers. They had a blast but some students struggled with making the pedals and were able to get help from the children at their table. They had to listen, follow directions, use a stencil to create their own template, and then put it together. Once we got through this part we decided to add some glitter to the leaves which made them gorgeous. These students could not wait to take these home to their families. I would have done some kind of writing with this if there had been time.Next year I'll be a little smarter and plan ahead.  Common Core has brought art back into the classroom and our students really "blossom" when given these creative opportunities. The Legend of the Poinsettia is a nice book to read before starting this activity. What projects do you like to do?

This is a great card to do across all grade levels and the kids loved making it. In kindergarten I cut the strips out ahead of time in shades of green. The base is a rectangle and the star is a square that they cut on the diagonal. I love teaching longest to shortest with these strips. For some children this can be a real challenge and they might need more practice with this important math concept. My fifth grade classes are in the middle of a Common Core unit on Fractions so their teachers had them measure long strips of paper and cut them specific sizes, using their knowledge of fractional parts. The directions were placed under the ELMO and they had to work independently to construct this. The results were fantastic and they were so proud of their work! This project could be done in shades of blue and purple for a gorgeous winter scene and snow could be added with paint on your finger! Does this reflect common core- you bet! Do you have any other January favorites?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Jingle Bell Rock!

The kids are so excited today! They are finally going to make a jingle bracelet with me in kindergarten. This takes a bit of prep but is well worth the trouble to do. The directions can be found in my elf packet that has , math magic.   I love this project because we can practice counting by 2's together, do a bit of patterning which actually is embedded in common core, and add a little bell for some bling. I have elf cards that go along with this project for some additional skip counting practice. The students love that they are elf feet since "Magic" has been hiding all over the classroom this week. He really likes to learn but never cleans up his mess! So if you need some elf jewelry you can grab it in this packet. I cannot wait to see how they do with this. The little book is perfect to take home and share with their families. 

Friday, December 14, 2012

My Heart Is Broken

Who am I?
I am mom to two daughters I love with all my heart.
I am a wife to a man I have loved for 38 years.
I am a kindergarten teacher.
 There is no other grade for me. 
I am passionate about kindergarten.
I never want to work in any other grade.
This is the work I was meant to do.
They are my school family.
Their achievements are my achievements.
Today was a nightmare.
An entire kindergarten class died. The teacher and principal died also.
My heart is broken.
I cannot make sense of this at all. 
Hug your family and be thankful for all that you have.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Perfect Attendance Because of An Elf...

Since when do fifth graders rip through the door to get into their classroom? They do if there's an elf waiting for them in the classroom to spread Christmas magic. These students cannot wait to find him and see what he is up to. My friend Christina spends a lot of time trying to make this interesting and she is having a blast with her elf. The fishing picture put me over the top and the kids went nuts when they saw him. The students never know what to expect when they come through the door. Sometimes the elf is in plain sight doing something hilarious that they write about in their journal, with a picture. Other times he is hiding and they have to work to solve a riddle to get a clue from their teacher. They never know what to expect and it made school more than slightly interesting for them. Attendance has been at 100 per cent. Who knew that an elf would get them to school and become the center of their world. Tomorrow I left  "love notes" from the elf with little candies attached for those who are on task, treating their friends kindly, and listening. The bookmark is something I created for their CCSS unit on division but naturally I signed it from the elf! It sure makes life interesting during those weeks before vacation! What is your elf doing to make life interesting in your classroom? I love all the energy we are putting into this!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Gifts From the Elf

Have you made a bubble map with your elf yet? This is the perfect opportunity to have your students describe your classroom elf students but be sure to use  adjectives. Make a large map first on chart paper and be sure to put your elf's name right under his or her picture. Have students come up with describing words that require using their senses. How does it look? How does it feel? What does he do? Those are the kinds of questions you can ask. You can even come up with character traits. When I make my big bubble map I often color the bubbles so the children know which one I am referring to (another scaffold). I just use scrapbooking chalk and lightly rub in some color with a cotton ball. This is really helpful for those children who are really not reading yet. So what are some of the words the children might be led to come up with? The elf is red and white, silly, naughty,small, magical, kind, smart, clever, etc. I only use a few bubbles at this time of the year but you can always add on more if your children are capable. Since this map is one that they will fill in I made it very simple.
1. Have students come up to your big map and read a bubble that they like. Here is a perfect opportunity to use the name of your elf or practice the pronoun "he" or "she."
You can even use a pointer with a star and some bells on it! Make it magical.
2. After this I put the language of the map on a pocket chart so it can be practices.
3. Once the children can read the pocket chart I put the words in a second chart next to the first, have them read the map, build their sentences themselves and practice reading them.
4. This makes a fantastic literacy station that they will enjoy.

This is another way to continue to build their fluency based on the map they have created.   This one is to reinforce the language of their bubble map and allows them an opportunity to practice these sentences in a different way. Have them work collaboratively using a list of adjectives they came up with on their class bubble map. With their maps to guide them they should be able to fill this in (cross your fingers).
This is a perfect opportunity for studentsE
 to read to a partner. Students love these little foldables and can take them home to share with their families. I love when all the children feel successful! I will post this after my workout today... pinky promise. Would you like a copy? Please become a follower and leave a comment if you can... Pick up your elf gifts right here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Elf Is Loose At Our School!

In kindergarten letters are the upper and lowercase kind. This is that time of year when assessments come rolling in and you need to see if your little ones can match and make upper and lowercase letters. At one time I would have made this an independent activity over several days but now I realize that it is a perfect performance based assessment to reflect foundational skills for the Common Core. Who said the Common Core can't be fun? The elf is still running around our school getting into all kinds of mischief. Yesterday he left snowflakes all over the table in 5th grade and hid in a drawer with a scissor in his hand to give his poor behavior away. Yup, he forgot to clean up his mess which is something this teacher has to remind her students about all the time. Fifth graders got into teams, had to solve a math problem, and finally she gave the winners a clue that led them to Toby, their elf. They had a blast with this and practically jumped on me when I came in the room to see all the havoc the elf had caused in room 14. OMG what can I come up with in January to keep this going? Help! I am lovin' the power of this magical elf.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Elves At Work Creating A New Culture

Students can't wait to get into their classrooms. You can hear a hush in the room as they frantically look around for their class elf. Where is he? Do you see him? Does he have love notes? Are there treats? Can you find him? That's what I hear as I walk around the school in the morning...Bless the elf on the shelf.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Magical Morning Work...Free From the Elf

I always love providing an opportunity for students to write for an authentic purpose. This is quick and simple and can be used throughout the grades. For kinder I would eliminate the last page or do it together. For the older kids it allows them to write a persuasive paragraph which is encouraged with the new CCSS .
This might be a magical elf but the writing is purposeful. Even older students need an opportunity to draw their thinking and we might bust out the colored pencils for this little activity. Character, setting, and event can be revisited while the kids are having some fun! Now where should he be hidden tomorrow? Any suggestions? The 5th grade teacher put him high on a shelf next to a book, holding a roll of toilet paper that she dropped and wrapped her cabinet in. OMG her class is lovin' this! Christina told me her kids are asking each other if they still believe in Santa and with their elf in the room they are not quite so sure of this... If you want this journal our elf is offering it up right here.
Run off as many pages as you need collated and staple them on the left corner before you cut them apart. This is a freebie for your classroom only! Thanks.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Putting the Magic Back Into the Classroom...

Today I had so much fun at school. I wrapped up the famous "elf on the shelf" and stuck him in the freezer to chill him out. I asked the principal (who was super busy) if he would deliver the elf to a fifth grade classroom in the most dramatic way possible. He was outstanding and really belongs on Broadway. Yup, he took the package down to this classroom with ice chips all over the top of it! The kids were shocked that he was insisting that they stop working because he had received a special delivery from the North Pole. He brushed off all the ice and insisted that students feel this strange package that just appeared on his desk. The kids were so freaked out by this. 
The teacher is my friend Christina and she was loving all the drama. She unwrapped the package slowly and pretended to be amazed by the contents. The kids were practically falling out of their seats. She put the note she found from Santa under her ELMO so the kids could read it. They were dying from excitement. It was precious.The note reminded them that they needed to treat each other kindly because the elf was WATCHING them and reporting back. I think I will have him holding my cell phone one day, texting Santa.  So you are probably wondering why I am writing this about a 5th grade classroom. I realized today that we forget that fifth graders are just overgrown kindergarten kids and need some magic in their lives too! Right? Their joy was so touching and wonderful to witness...
We had them work collaboratively and decide what to name their elf by voting and using tally marks. Hey, this is still a Common Core School Zone. Now we are writing CC riddles for them to solve in teams to find the elf each day. I cannot wait to see how they react to our silly hiding spots each day. Do you have an elf spreading some magic in your room? I hope so.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Sales and Kindergarten Tales

Wow, the sales on TpT were  crazy last week. I could not believe how much people purchased. They took advantage of all the packets bloggers had created. I appreciate every one of you and the items that you bought. But, with that being said, you also went to the trouble of leaving such kind and thoughtful comments and I promise you that I read every single one of them. It was such fun for me and made me realize what a wonderful community has been created by all of us who spend hours creating these units in the hopes that it will make learning so much more interesting and valuable for our kids.There is so much talent out on the internet that I would not dream of purchasing anything from a store. No way. Bloggers are so much better at creating interactive and creative materials. I just told my upper grade teachers about  TpT and most of them have never even looked for stuff... That is about to change. Okay, so they will hate me for spending all their money for them. What can I say?
If you never made it to the sale these are still available in TpT and Teachers Notebook. I think you will enjoy using them with your students.
One of my 5th grade teachers has a son in kindergarten. She told me she purchased the Winter Warm-Ups to Make Your Room Cozy packet, ran it off, is laminating it and putting it in a beautiful basket for her son's teacher. That is a fabulous gift. Where was she when I was teaching kindergarten? I would have adored an entire unit ready to go! Keep that in mind if your kids' teachers would like such a thoughtful gift! Find your favorite blogger and buy something she will love using or might need...
Did you make any awesome purchases?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Do You Need An Elf Sitting On A Shelf Spreading Magic?

I am finally finished and ready to rock out my second packet with my elf buddy.  I love how it turned out and I am running it off right now for my teachers at school (I can feel the love). I have Part 2 completed with a focus on mathematics. Does it reflect the core? For sure! My favorite part of the packet is my "Jingle Bracelet" with a matching booklet. I think my little friends will think this is full of magic. The bell bling will probably drive their teachers nuts!  I have my book The Elf On the Shelf  in my teaching bag and I cannot wait to read this precious story to my kinder kids.. Maybe I should read this to the staff at the next meeting.
Sounds like a plan. If you are interested in this packet it is available on Teachers Notebook and TpT

Spreading Magic With A New Packet

Put away those turkeys, fall leaves and pumpkins since winter is just around the corner! 
I have been as busy as a little elf creating packets this week to bring back to my teachers to add some holiday magic to their classroom. What's more fun than having a magical character in your room? This ended up being much bigger than I expected so I broke it into literacy and math activities. I tried to make it unique and fun for teachers to use while still implementing common core standards. An elf is provided in this packet who is there to watch over the classroom, being sure students are following classroom rules and working hard on important foundational skills. Many of these activities can be done in a large group or during small group instruction. Eventually students can do this activities as independent literacy stations.It can serve as the perfect tool for intervention, with older students too. 
With many of these activities students can work with a partner which is an important part of the collaborative model being encouraged with the CCSS. If you are interested in having this packet it is in my Tpt store right here. A little bit of fun for everyone!
A math packet with an emergent reader is coming shortly too.
Have a happy Sunday.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Turkey Fun On the Run

My students loved this game and it is a great way to continue to review those kindergarten sight words that they still need to practice. When they go on break they often come back with very little memory of these crucial words. I should send a version home for parents to play and keep!
More and less is a challenging concept that is clear as mud to little ones. I made this very concrete version for students which they loved to play! Just slam a turkey or Pilgrim on a card and they are convinced it has to be fun!
The concept of more and less shows up in our math program right around this time of year and our kids struggled with this so much. So I tried to make it more concrete for them and using Thanksgiving graphics to convince them it was so much fun. This is perfect to do in collaborative groups to meet CCSS standards so I am showing this to my kinder teachers.

My BFF teachers next door to me last year showed me this idea last year and it is such a keeper. I adored it since I make headbands for everything possible. This is the best trick I have ever seen and you need to remember it! It's a real keeper!

These are my Thanksgiving retelling cards that I use in a pocket chart to build a flow map of the story. I practice it with the kids for several days and then move on to the bracelet activity that Dr. Jean taught me, right before they leave for vacation. Click here for my cards.

Please try this pumpkin activity if you have never done this. 
1. Scoop out the pumpkin but leave the seeds in the bottom.
2. Add soil to the pumpkin, filling it to the top.
3. Water it and leave it in the sun.
4. It will grow very quickly and your students can use a science journal to record 
    the results. It was a huge hit in my room. 
This is not my idea. I found it on another blog called Growing In Pre- K. You can see her fabulous version here. Can you think of a better way to teach the life cycle of a pumpkin? My teaching friends did this for the first time this year and adored this project. 

I have used the retelling bracelet that Dr. Jean created for many years now. However, I found that my English Language learners needed more support because the language of the story is so demanding. Finally, about six years ago I simplified the language a bit, created the flow map cards to practice the story whole group, and came up with a little strip book to support their learning. You can find it here.Why was this such a big hit? My kids could go home and tell the story to their parents at their own Thanksgiving table and feel so successful. A big shout out goes to my friend Dr. Jean who understands young children and their developmental needs better than anyone I know! Visit her blog if you are a kindergarten teacher and you will truly learn from her.
She has a more difficult version for first grade or for students who can handle more complex language.

Finally, these are packets I have created to support their learning at this time of the year. In Turkey Leftovers I have included an emergent reader that is a poem that you can also sing and is precious. Sparkle Readers #5 have a turkey reader about the food we eat at our Thanksgiving meal and focuses on beginning sounds. These are all at my TpT store and at Teachers Notebook. They can be used after vacation too as you get ready for your winter curriculum. Click here for T is for Turkey.
This is a card I created this year for students to make. They pick out the pictures that reflect what they are grateful for. I love the great conversations you can have around this! I think it is so important that we stop and remind each other of how grateful we are for all that we are blessed with. I have posted this before but if you still want to grab it you can find it here.
I love teaching about this holiday, making the costumes, cooking cranberries, creating pasta necklaces and all the other projects. What are some of your favorite activities to do? 

I got this idea off of Pinterest and completed the whole thing in just a couple of hours. I sent the Hubs out to find Bugles and Runts and he finally had to look on the internet for them. Wal-mart has these but ran out so he went to Walgreen's and hit it big. The man was my hero and they were so cute. I brought them to school on Friday and was super popular that day! Hint: bring treats to work to feel the love. Here is a set of these labels so you can be everyone's favorite teacher. Click here.
Leave a comment and share!
Have a wonderful holiday with your family. It is so well deserved.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Add Some Sparkle to Your November: You Need It

Add some sparkle to your November

These are back by popular demand and I think they will be great for kindergarten teachers and intervention specialists.. I worked hard on these to make them "just right" for this time of the year and then I tested them out in a variety of classrooms to make sure they were a good fit. The kids loved the topics and gave me a thumbs up! I love praise from five year olds. So here is the November set and remember that each book comes with its own sentence builders for your pocket chart. Build them and use sticky dots under the text.
All 80 pages are available in my TpT store for you to grab if this will make the crazy month of November a little easier. Gobble, Gobble  this here.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Little Books Filled With Gratitude

At this time of the year it is important for our students to reflect on all that they should be thankful for. I decided to update a little book that I have used for years in my kindergarten and to offer it as a freebie. I changed it up a bit by differentiated it to allow for a student who is more independent and can write a sight word with ease. It is just a simple cut and paste foldable that provides repetitive text  and is a little cut and staple activitiy. On one set of pictures the word my is provided but on the other the student is asked to write it under each picture. Students get to select the pictures that represent what they are grateful for and this makes a nice book to send home with all your Thanksgiving activities.Grab this freebie here.

Thank you for all the amazing email I got about blog stealing. It just makes me sick that people see no wrong in this. I appreciate the kind comments, those that clearly understand how wrong this is, and followers who see the problem all over the internet. Much of this is often pointed out to me and it makes me feel so bad. Link back to a blog, ask permission to grab a photo and take care of each other. When in doubt... ask.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Blog Stealing Is Back In Full Swing

This has been a rough week for me and other bloggers. Many bloggers had their materials posted on a school website and given away. Really? This teacher had no problem offering up freebies and packets she had purchased from others.  Maybe we need to remind other teachers of the hard work involved in creating materials. Is this so complicated? This teacher sells materials on TpT  too.  I am not as forgiving as other teachers and want to make it clear that this is really not okay. In my world this is stealing and  not what I would expect from other educators. Respect the efforts of others and come up with your own content. 
Always ask permission to post someone else's idea or a document and link back to their blog to give them credit. If it's not your idea do not use it.
Just because you use other graphics does not make it okay to take someone's idea and make it your own.
If someone has an idea on their blog and you have the same idea, let it go or the other blogger will think less of you. They posted it first. 
I know many of you have experienced this and feel so badly about it. I think we need to expect more from our peers. I hope this has not happened to you.
The email I received was so ridiculous that my husband laughed hysterically.  I did not find it  that funny. After assuring me of how much she loved all that I had created on my blog she wanted to copy some ideas and wanted a recommendation for where to sell them. Then she wanted to question the validity of my copyright. My attorney daughters loved this. What is her agenda? Really?  Is this what teachers are about now? She wants help stealing my work? This is more than I can take. Am I losing my mind?
Another blogger found something of mine on pinterest, copied it and gave it away. I sell it as a packet. She was fine with this. I was horrified and disgusted. 
I want to know how you feel and what norms we need to remind teachers to follow?
Okay, now I am trying to be over this and move on. Thanks for letting me vent. I am probably the oldest of all of you and I got really mad... I want to protect you from this unprofessional behavior. You are sweeter about these things than I am.  I am really struggling with these issues and feel miserable. I need a thicker skin. Maybe I need to retire... Look out for each other.
Love you,

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sounds Like A Plan

Do your kinderkids know all their sounds? If not this packet might help you to address these important foundational skills. These activities have been carefully aligned to the Common Core and allow children to
engage in meaningful activities. It can also be used to provide intervention for those children ( I have had a few) who need more support identifying letters and sounds. A cut and paste strip book has also been provided that students can do during small group time or independently. These activities have been differentiated to meet the needs of a wide range of students.

It can be purchased at my TpT store if you click here on this picture: 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Common Core is not just about standards...

As I am learning about CCSS I have discovered that it is no longer just about addressing the new standards. It is also important that students work using a collaborative model and no longer are we expecting quiet classrooms where just the teacher is talking and one student is responding. This is a huge shift for many teachers and will be difficult for them to alter. We want students talking to each other, using academic language and being purposeful, helping each other.  We know that this is how we all learn best. Why not promote this in our classrooms? In my new role I often collaborate with other teachers and find that I am at my best when I have the privilege to discuss new learning with others. It has made me much more effective and I find myself doing a lot me listening now. All of us need an opportunity to work with others at our grade level and reflect on our teaching practices even if it means laughing at how an activity "tanked" and you had to rethink your lesson! I have been there more times than I care to admit!
What does this have to do with this packet?
First, I had to be sure that the activities were purposeful and differentiated for all  kinds of learners. I also made sure that students had opportunities to work collaboratively, often with a partner. I had  to provide an opportunity for students to show me their learning with a performance based assessment.
All of these activities can be used during guided instruction for intervention purposes too. Hopefully, these will be highly engaging and fun for students to use. I hope I pulled this off. This packet addresses crucial foundational skills our kids must have to learn how to read and I find myself always looking for new ways to visit letters and sounds. I will post this in my TpT store and TN after the hubs edits it! 
What do you think? Are you on board with this?
Stay safe. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

GLAD to see a Common Core Strategy Return

How many of you are familiar with GLAD strategies?  GLAD stands for Guided Language Acquisition Design in case you have never heard of this. These are being used again in our district as part of of our lesson designs when building Common Core units. Why is this such a big deal. It works!
Teachers often put these pictorials on large sheets of white butcher paper and use a projector to lightly trace the image with a pencil. This is then put up in the classroom and created in front of the students using markers while you are talking about what is being created. This might be the only time my students are quiet. This process fascinates them. Now to make this more dramatic I use scrapbooking chalk to add the color quickly and easily but I am asking them for their input..."Hummm I need to make this an ocean  so what color should I use?"  The first day might just be the map but as I teach them about the journey the Pilgrims took on the Mayflower I am adding labels. This can be done right on the paper but I have mine color coded and on velcro so it can be more interactive. Notice that the Mayflower is on a separate stick that the children can move across the ocean to show the path they took.  I have have students come up and add pieces as they become more familiar with the story. Make them think. When the Pilgrims got to America what do you thing they made their houses out of? There were lots of trees in the forest. Who wants to put some of these on my pictorial? Where did they find food? Do careful questioning based on the story you have read and you are using a non fiction piece of text to build their understanding and they are putting evidence on this picture to support their comprehension. Our curriculum specialist came up with this idea and I loved it! The labels help to build academic vocabulary. Clap out the syllables and pay attention to beginning sounds. Students can add their own pictures to this unit as you move forward and it stays up while you are teaching about an important American holiday. What do you think about this?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hey, What's The Big Idea?

So I have been busy for the last few weeks getting ready to roll out some CC units for our second and third grade teachers. Not an easy task for an old kindergarten teacher. The big buzz is learning how to backward plan when doing your unit lesson designs. Teachers need a true understanding of some new terms. The Big Idea is a statement that crosses disciplines and allows students to have a deeper understanding of the content being taught. They need to be able to apply this to their own lives. Wow! That changes the game big time and will be far more demanding for teachers to develop. Essential questions lead students to the Big Idea as they learn the content of the unit of study. Teachers will help students to formulate answers to essential questions as they read both fiction and non fiction and hold collaborative discussions. That was a mouthful. How will this look in kindergarten? I am moving on to that next. We need to keep Big Idea and Essential questions in kid friendly language. Collaboration is a huge piece of  Common Core and our kids will need practice with this over time. 
I made this Big Idea statement on 81/2" X 14" paper and gave them essential questions with nice backgrounds to make this a bit more exciting. It will be fun to create these for each unit so teachers can put them up in their room and refer back to them as needed...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Fall Sparkle Has Arrived

So my life is all about Common Core and I have created four little emergent readers for this time of the year that your students should enjoy. No matter what, I am sure they will all like the Halloween one the best since our students love to dress up in costumes.  I have some non fiction readers that are science based and a fire safety reader has also been included. Anything missing? I hope not. Need some sparkle after all the testing and progress reports? Doesn't that seems to rear its ugly head five seconds after school has started? If you are interested they will be available in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers and I will try to get them up soon at Teachers Notebook. Have a great week of teaching!
Who is doing backward planning and is using Big Ideas and Essential Questions? I have some great ideas for that spinning  around in my head. We are hitting that hard right now!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Reading Closely... What is that?

So one of the jobs I have  this year is modeling lessons in other classrooms. When I started prepping for this I was lucky enough to obtain this adorable clip art from Nikki at Melonheadz. She is a wonderful graphic artist who makes fabulous graphics for our students. If you don't know her stuff check out her store at Teachers Notebook here. Make her a favorite. She is certainly one of mine!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Take Home Bags To Promote Reading

Literacy bags can make a real difference. Our children need lots of opportunities to practice  reading high frequency words in context. How do you provide addition practice with this? You can have your students work with a parent volunteer,  work with a partner, or read to you. However, I still recommend that you send these little readers home so parents can celebrate their child's accomplishments and provide more practice for these young readers! Students are so proud of their new skills and it helps build their confidence.
Convince them and they will believe!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Give Them Books And They Will READ! FREEBIE!

My students use emergent readers that are part of our reading program but I create many other ones for various purposes. Sometimes they need more practice with a sight word and it is important to contextualize it. So I create a reader and try to make them reflect what my students are interested in. If I feel they need more practice with scissors, often it will have a cut and paste component or a place where they practice writing a sight word to build their fine motor skills. Once I have met with the children and worked on these readers in a small group setting, they go in a ziploc bag and into their homework folder. I want them to share these readers with their families and practice as much as possible. I include a note to parents and ask that they take the time to do this to build up each student's fluency and confidence. Kindergarten is all about believing in yourself -right?  I make this very simple but here is the kicker: At the end of the week I want all the books back to practice in the meeting spot for about 20 minutes right after my opening. Sometimes we read them as a group and there are times I call on specific learners. Boy, do you get a window into who is working with their child (or not!) Anyhow I L*O*V*E this system and the kids love having these books to use throughout the semester. You can grab these labels right here.

 If these readers will help add some "sparkle" to your program they can be found at my TpT store and at Teachers Notebook.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Spreading Sparkle (Set #3)

Here is my third set of  Sparkle Readers that align to the Common Core. Four emergent readers have been included. These are perfect for young learners who need lots of practice with repetitive text. When implementing CCSS many teachers think that you need to buy lots of additional materials but once you understand the alignment process you will find much of what you already have will work well with these standards. I love the focus on non fiction and many of us will celebrate bringing back all the Science and Social Studies materials we never felt we had enough time to focus on. These little readers reflect this shift and use the repetitive text: Here is the... I tried to create readers that would be interesting to beginning readers and interactive. There are cut and paste activities, color word practice, and number writing. I have also included some practice tracing simple labels. This packet has 73 pages and is selling for just $7.00. If Common Core feels a little scary, here  is a good place to start!  Baby steps...
What activities do you like for building fluency with your kinders?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Add More Sparkle to Your Life

Thank you for all the positive comments you have written about these emergent readers. The teachers in my district have loved having these little sparklers to add into their tool kit. I like the idea of using them in class, along with the pocket chart strips to build their fluency. Wait a minute... what fluency? Okay, eventually. I like when you work on concepts of print on a daily basis and a student on day 60 starts from the right, builds it in the chart and reads it all going in the wrong direction, touching each word. The best is when they turn around to look at you with a huge smile. It is too funny. So what does a teacher do? She models until she turns blue! 
These readers focus on the sight word "a" and are on the following topics: birthday, family, pets, and autumn. I have infused academic language, tracing letters, cut and paste, and guided drawing in these books.
They also align to the common core and reflect the 50-50 shift to non fiction that is being implemented. You want to remind children to look at the details in a picture to help them unlock the text  and try to give them "think time". By the way I am usually biting my lip for the ones who need this. Click here if you might be interested in adding these into your mix. Have a great week of teaching! I am doing a presentation on backward planning with 
Big Ideas and Essential Questions. Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kindergarten Common Core... A Great Resource

Have you seen this resource? It looks like something I might have great use for as I help teachers in my district align to the Common Core State Standards. I have not seen anything quite like this and it might simplify our understandings. This book is filled with activities, worksheets, and even posters to help you wrap your head around these new standards. If your are curious about this you can check out this link and see a sample of the book to see if it meets your needs too. Click on Kindergarten Common Core and see what you think. Leave a comment because I want your thoughts.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Freebie From Fran for Fun

My life has really changed and I am crazy busy trying to support Transitional Kindergarten teachers and rolling out the Common Core to our classroom teachers. My head is swimming from all the information I am trying to make sense of. So I took a break and made a freebie for all my friends out there in the real world who need a perk! If you take the freebie please follow me and follow my store cause it will make my day brighter. These number cards are Common Core aligned because that's how we roll now... Have a wonderful Sunday. Click on the picture to download the goodies from my TpT store. You might want to check out the other packets I have for the beginning of the year.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Do You Need Some Sparkle In Your Life?

So I started to think about what has been missing from my core reading program that would make teaching our youngest learners more effectively. With that in mind I also wanted it to align to the new CCSS so it can be used in the future. Our program marches through the sight words like a ball of fire so I decided to change that up a little. I  created four different readers using the sight word "the". In addition to this, I wanted students to practice coloring, tracing, cutting and pasting to build their fine motor skills.  It is also important to build academic language and address the needs of English language learners. In this packet I included sentence strips so that students can practice the language of these emergent readers in a pocket chart to build their confidence and print awareness. Sticky dots can be used under each word so they can track the text. These four readers cross a variety of content areas too. I think this is a great tool for a kindergarten teacher who does not want to race through her program and would like to build capacity while aligning to the CC. Whew! This was way too cognitive. I need to take a nap!
Do you need this? I think this is ideal for Transitional Kindergarten. I better print some of these for my TK buddies. Click on this picture to get to my TpT store. Have a fantastic Sunday.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Are your reading Pete to kick off the year?

My kindergarten friends asked me to make a headband for students to wear home on the first day of school. It has to be Pete the Cat! Picture your students hearing this fabulous book, singing the song, and going home with a positive message about school. Another year... make it your best ever. This is just a quick little freebie that your students can color ( Have everyone hold their blue crayon in the air before it hits their paper- just sayin'.)
You can put this on a sentence strip if you want quick and easy and see who can actually write their name. Okay now run around the room like a nut putting names on most of them.) Who said teaching wasn't a workout? Grab your Pete right here.
I want to know who has the guts to let them cut this out on the first day of school. It might be a good idea to wait a bit before you release the scissors to five year old people.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Common Core Collaboration With A Freebie

So I have been really busy this week preparing for my Common Core training.There was so much to learn and understand. Remember, I am OLD.  I am working at a new school where the teachers function as one big family and support each other really effectively. The training went very well (thank goodness) and the administrator participated right along with his teachers. WOW! It was impressive to watch him make important connections with his staff, reminding them of the work they have already done. He validated their thinking through the entire session. I wrapped up these mini apples and used a tag to make the room look a little more inviting and they loved it! At the end of the day I had a slide about the importance of reflection and they wrote me beautiful notes with their personal ones in relation to their own Common Core journey. I am blessed to be at this school. If you want these apple tags grab them right here. Everyone loves a little gift to sweeten their day!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bringing An Apple to Common Core Training

I have been in Common Core training for several weeks now and we are rolling it out to our district teachers this week. Yup, like they don't have enough going on in their classrooms. Anyhow I really wanted to make it a little extra fun so I talked to the other trainers and naturally my friend Karen thought of giving everyone an apple. Cute- right? So I decided to make a label for the apple, tie it up in a clear baggie with curling ribbon and add a plastic knife. At least the teachers can have a snack while I present my Power Point. I also added some funny e-cards and freebies. What teacher doesn't love free stuff? I am giving you these labels for free if you think your school might like using them when doing a training... I will upload them after the giant sale on TpT.