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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Look Who Joined Our Staff!

After twelve years of watching teachers receive "pink slips" and leave our district we finally had the opportunity to welcome two new, male teachers to our staff. They have changed the climate of our school and bring so much passion and enthusiasm to their job. Both are upper grade teachers who cannot wait to get started on this wild and crazy ride known as teaching. 

Aaron was hired before school started so he joined me for the Common Core trainings. He participated in all the activities and the staff loves having him on board.
Why is this such a big deal?
Both of this young men were born and raised in this community. One even attended this elementary school and was dearly loved by this staff. They watched him grow and mature and now he is joining the ranks as a teacher. Talk about successes. It brings tears to my eyes. The second grade teacher brought him lunch for the first day and I watched his family help him set up his room. They feel so much pride in his achievements.
Mike was hired a few days later and I set up his room so he wouldn't walk into a mess. I cleaned it, set up the desks, loaded his book cases with the right materials and put up a few boards, just the basics. He came in with two friends and within hours the room looked beautiful and you could sense his excitement about starting the year. He is a product of our school district and loves the idea of making a difference in his community. Listening to him, sensing his passion, makes me feel so much hope for the future. 
How lucky is my school and my district to have these men? Both of them bring so much to the classroom. When I stand in the doorway and watch them teach I get a lump in my throat. They move around the room constantly, teach with passion, and talk to students using quiet voices, always validating who they are. They understand.
What changes has your school had?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Washi Tape Wonderful

So that was super easy and "cutified" a plain tin container. Realize that a white container gives you the best results since the tapes are slightly transparent. I love that I can match any colors that I want and now all I need is a label on the front for the final touch. How about you? Do you like washi tape and have you tried it? I would love to see what you have done. Have a great week at school.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Do You Love To Shop? Come and Visit My TpT Store

We all love to shop for materials to help us in our classroom. I have not purchased anything in a retail teaching store for years because of  Teachers Pay Teachers. Today and tomorrow they are running their big Back to School sale and I put together a fantastic bundle for you to purchase of some of my new back-to-school packets. Here are all the packets I created to help you start the year off:
These packets will be easy to put together and are all aligned to the Common Core. I am selling them as a set for just $21.60 and that is a steal at 20% off. I spent the entire summer making them and I think you will love the content. There are lots of cut and paste activities to build fine motor skills, students have an opportunity to practice numbers and letter skills and all of these can be made into books to send home on use as part of a portfolio. 
When I created these packets I really tried to minimize the prep time since this is such a busy time of the year.So grab this "bundle of joy" by clicking on the Back to School sign my friend Traci made for us to celebrate going back to school. You can get this bundle on TpT by clicking any of the images you see!  Remember that TpT is offering their own Promo Code BTS13.

If you already bought some of these packets or you don't need all five, you can also get each one for $5-6: Silly Sound Circles: Simple Cut, Paste, and Trace Fun, Counting in Circles: Building Number Sense, Putting the Pieces Together: Matching Upper and Lowercase Letters, Putting the Pieces Together: Letters and Sounds, Putting the Pieces Together: Number Sense Work.  They'll help you make a great start to the year.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

B2S: Self Portraits Should Be Created By Your Students: FREEBIE FUN

Every kindergarten teacher has their students draw a self portrait during the first few days of school. It is so much fun to look at these and see where your students are developmentally. Often this is the first board I post in my room. My friends next door do an additional activity that is precious. They use small paper plates and have the kids cut out their own features, using construction paper as they guide them through the process. Each child picks a skin tone they like and even paint their plate before gluing on their eyes, nose, and mouth. Adding yarn hair is the final step! 

I decided to take this up a notch and have them draw their teacher too. This can be done on a separate day and you can talk about hair color, clothing, and other details but do not guide them through the process. This is their "benchmark"
I really believe in guided drawing and teach this throughout the year. I start with white boards, markers and erasers and teach my children the procedures I want them to use to gather their materials and come and sit on the carpet to get ready to work on this. They love doing this and build confidence over time. Often this contributes greatly to their ability to write since they learn how to focus on details and work carefully. I move from people to animals, teaching character and setting this way. Do you do guided drawing? If not try it this year and you will be amazed by the growth your students make. It is my favorite whole group activity. 
I am offering you this freebie so that you have one less item on your "To Do" list as you start your year off. Be sure to save your first set of papers and do this activity at the end of the year. Students love seeing their own growth and this will be such a great visual to show them! Grab it here and please leave me a comment. Are you following me on Bloglovin'. I hope you will.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Stop Running Around In Circles: Make It Easy to Teach Common Core Math

It takes real courage to put scissors in the hands of a five year old. However, often our children have had limited experience with this crucial fine motor skill. So you want  to look for activities that allow for this.

This packet helps students to look at numbers in a variety of ways, including the number word itself. They have an opportunity to discuss them, use manipulatives to build number sense, and place them in the circle at the top, bottom, left, or right. In addition, a bit of number writing is included. These truly bundles your standards and allows yo to hit many of them at the same time which builds their understandings. I recommend buying this with the thought of  using it over several moments as your children develop number sense. You should visit these pages more than once to build their confidence.

How would you implement a packet of this type?
1. You might want to draw these circles on large chart paper as you work on each number. If you do it systematically, students will be able to build their knowledge and understandings. You want them to see patterns and relationships. 
2. These sheets can be introduced during small group instruction and worked on under supervision using manipulatives to help the children work on these skills.
3. This packet can be made into a student book to be saved as part of a portfolio.
4. Use these sheets once you have introduced  all the numbers through 20 and use as an assessment. Test them on what has been taught! This makes it valid.
5. They can also be used as a part of your math work stations.
6. These are authentic pages to send home for homework, once it has been modeled and taught.

Be sure to look at the pizza pan activity I show in a previous post and realize that you can do the same type of activity with numbers versus letters and sounds. I will post a sample of this if I can. Awards are provided once your students have mastered these numbers.
What do you like to do to build these important skills? 
This packet requires very little preparation and will keep your students engaged.
It can be found here in my TpT store or click on the picture. It is also available at Teachers Notebook here too.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Do Not Be Puzzled By This Packet

Wow. I have had such a busy summer. 
1. I attended the I Teach K conference in Vegas with the fabulous blogger meet-up.
2. I attended the Common Core Academy in Chicago
3. I read a ton of books including Teach Like A Pirate and Academic Conversations.
4. I met kindergarten teacher bloggers from all over this country who inspired me to be the very best teacher I can be.
5. I went to Colorado with my husband for an amazing vacation...

and finally I worked on some products to use in kindergarten classrooms this year. What makes these products different? I tried to create packets that would be simple to put together and would be developmentally appropriate. Added into the mix was the need to align them to the Common Core. A tall order but I think this meets my criteria.

This is only $5.00 and will not take much effort to put together. It can be used in both large and small group settings and is flexible in design. I love the simplicity of this packet, not too demanding for young children. You can grab it here or click on the picture. Have a great start to your year.

Dear New Kindergarten Teacher, Please Read This

Dear New Kindergarten Teacher,
It is now August and school is just around the corner. Do not feel terrified. Don't. I am here to help you. If you are new to this grade level I have some suggestions for you that might make your first few weeks go a little easier. How do I know that? I am a well seasoned teacher who has been at this grade level for over 25 years. Follow along with me as I show you the way. 
 Click on each picture to go to my store to purchase the item.
First: Have a plan for the first few weeks. Even if the plan does not work have one. Over plan since it can never hurt. The first thing you need are name tags. If you are like me with 31 students this is not an option. Students might not have a clue what their last name is. You need to know and keep a current list. I have a great product for this:

These packets are only five dollars each and can be customized with your student's name. They will provide you with name badges, cubby labels photo tags, desk tags, journal labels, award tags, awards, etc. This is a lot of bang for your buck and each one has an icon that goes with your student's name. If they can't read their name they will recognize the icon. Trust me these work!

Kindergarten kids love, love, love to help their teacher and this will show you how to implement a management system for this without wanting to shoot yourself. I am a big fan of classroom jobs and this packet will do all the work for you. Wowsa. You pick the jobs you want to start out with (just a few of them) and build on to this as the year goes by and the kids mature. There are 21 choices for you and badges for the helpers to wear. They adore badges and feeling important. Trust me.

You are going to want to set aside one bulletin board in your room for just writing. I use fancy clothespin and keep all their writing stacked together with the current one on top. 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. One features an image of a boy or girl and the other has that famous blue cat. Let's move on.


You will be introducing the alphabet using your reading program but your students will need lots of opportunities to see those letters and manipulate them in centers. 
This is the perfect alphabet book for you to buy. Students trace each letter, color in a picture that begins with the sound of that letter, and cut and paste various fonts using that letter into a chart. Finally, it can be made into a student book or class books can be created. Take a deep breath... We have to give them scissors-right? 

Here are some other possibilities for you to use: You will want to do letter sorts during small group instruction and this version is ideal for young children. It is simple with nice, clean graphics. Students get further exposure to upper and lowercase letters. This is one of my favorites.

Are you still reading? Take a break and a few deep breaths. You can do this I promise.

These packets will guide you through teaching sight words to young children. The first packet will be full of manipulatives to use such as headbands and necklaces. It will not overwhelm you with a million words. The second packet is full of activities for your students to do such as tracing the word, cutting and pasting the letters, etc. Students have to find and color the words in simple word searches, etc. These are my top sellers and I have used all of these activities forever. They work.
Have you discovered the Target Dollar Spot? If you have you will know about the mini pocket charts that are available. This is a packet filled with activities for students to do in literacy stations with those charts. It's all provided for you and will make life so much easier for you while you figure this job out. Right? There is alphabet work, sounds, color matching, patterning and even some simple sentence building work. Grab it for $5.00 and you won't be sorry. The kids will love this product and I even give you labels for keeping it super organized. Organization has become your middle name.

Can you tolerate just a little more? I am assuming your have grabbed coffee and you have calmed down just a bit. Stay with me on this ride since I am almost done.

This is the first in an entire series of readers that provide you with support when teaching your students how to read.  They are perfect for additional sources to use during guided reading. This is what my district loves the most that I create for them. I put dots under individual words for the children to touch. In addition, you get the text for your pocket chart to practice with the kids over and over again to build their confidence. 

What about teaching the sounds of letters? You can start with this very simple packet and do these letters in the order that is provided in your reading program.

Here is another simple packet of cut and paste work for your students to do when practicing the sounds of the letters. In addition, they trace the upper and lowercase letter. Simple, clean, and easy.
These all align to the Common Core. In math for the first few weeks they need to explore the manipulatives you have in your tubs. Remember to click on the picture if you want to purchase something. If not, you can use the materials you have and integrate your own things.
I have tons of freebies on this blog. Follow me on Bloglovin' and my stores so you know when they become available. Everyone loves free!
Advice: Read to them often. Have snacks for the first few days. Do not let the parents in the room... you will have trouble getting them out. I am just being real with you! Hehe.
Keep in touch. You can do this. Get help from your grade level and read teacher blogs at this grade level. You can learn so much from them.
Who has other suggestions? 
So I am ending here and I am sending you a virtual hug for teaching our youngest learners. Your work is important and I hope you love it as much as I do. It continues to be the best grade in the world to teach. Be extraordinary. 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

A Teachers's Love for Washi... Where can I find it?

Many people have asked me where to find this paper tape that is so user friendly and can be repositioned so easily. I realize you can buy it on line but I need to look at colors and designs closely. Colors can be deceiving. Have you ever bought a scarf on line, received it, and hated the shade of green it turned out to be? I hate dislike returning anything.

This is a display at our local Walmart. If you do not have a display like this, I would march over to the manager and show him this. Two days after this went up it was half empty. Get with it Walmart! Go check your store out and see if you can find it.

Then I moved on to my trusty Target (we teachers {heart} this store) in search of washi tape. This was a little trickier since they have Duct tape in designs too. This cannot be repositioned and you will want to throw yourself against a wall if you make a mistake. If you have guts of steel... go for it sista. I found these cute tapes, some in the scrapbooking section which has been shrinking over time (sob) made by Smash. Soe of these are really cute. Be careful of the new plastic tapes like this purple and turquoise design. Those are more for wrapping packages and jazzing them up. I sent my daughter's birthday gift this way to her law office. I'm not so sure she loved that all that much. Oh well.
Michael's has just started to carry these but they nail you by making you purchase them in sets of 2. That ups the price so get that app so you always have a coupon. Don't get caught without one!

Finally: We have this gorgeous store in California filled with all kinds of gorgeous papers, punches, and cards. They did not have a huge selection but plenty of dots and chevron. I bit the bullet and treated myself.
Have you been able to find washi tape locally? Add to our list in the comments if you have! I am working on desk accessories for a teacher so look out for that post. Have a Washi Wonderful Day! I wonder if Mrs. Wishy-Washy loves washi tape!
Look a few posts below this for a washi tape DIY project that is super simple... promise.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Have You Hired Help for the Classroom?

This is my latest packet for primary students. It is a great way to build community in your Common Core classroom. Our young students need to learn how to be responsible and solve their own problems. This is a huge part of 21st century learning.
What makes this chart unique?
I created 20 different job cards which gives you a huge variety to pick from.
You pick the ones you want and follow directions for customizing it for your classroom.
Jobs can be added on as your students mature.

Here is what the big cards look like. I love to run them on photo paper (I use Kirkland from Costco) since this makes them glossy and gorgeous. Once I decide which jobs I want to start the year off with, I print them and laminate them. Directions for putting this together is in the packet. I {heart} the final product. Super cute, right? Just play along.
Use clothespins for your student names. What an authentic way for your class to learn how to read each other's names. Love that.
Then I created student badges that the kids can wear when assigned a specific job. Yup, I love those badges and here is another use for them! So cute and if you put it in the right place on their collar, they can't even chew it. You know exactly what I am talking about.

Now this is where my brain was smokin'. I made a little reader that matches all the jobs that I have provided. Once again, you can customize it by only using the pages of your choice. The pictures match the badges and class chart so students can easily recognize the academic language. I hope you love this packet as much as I do. When I bring it to school for my kindergarten teachers I am hoping to feel the love! Do you have classroom jobs?

I am offering this packet for a special price right now. Are you interested? Okay. Now go enjoy your summer before it's over...