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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.