Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Super Savings For Super Hero Teachers from TpT and Differ Kinder

You are all heroes, and your power is greater than you know.  So what better way to celebrate the Super Hero in all teachers than with a SUPER SALE from TpT?

TpT is doing it again.  They are teaming up with sellers to give you the greatest savings of the season.  And let me tell you, with all the cold weather and snow I've been seeing in the last 3 weeks, I could use a little TpT Super Retail Therapy.  

So here is how is works . . .

everything in my store will be reduced 20% and by using TpT's HEROES secret savings code, you can get an additional 10% off your purchases for a total savings of 28%.  (Whatever you do, don't forget to use that code for that additional savings! I can't even tell you how many times I've forgotten.)

Where you will find the greatest savings, is on items that are already discounted by being bundled.  So, for instance, check out some of these savings on my most popular items that I have bundled.  Just click on any of the pictures in the post to get more information on any of these products or the ones I have in my shopping cart.

For independent learning . . .

For Sensory Table Fun All Year Long  . . .  (This growing bundle currently has months Aug/Sept - March with three more months to be added.)

. . . or Math Spinner Fun All Year Long (Aug/Sept - March included and April - June pending)  . . .

For Word Families Galore (22 Weeks of Word Work Study) . . .

. . . or for Digraphs . . .

. . . or CVCe work . . .

. . .or Sight Word Mastery . . .

and everything else in my store . . . Math Stations Galore . . . Word Work Stations Galore . . . I-Spys . . . Write the Rooms . . . You name it!  It's all on sale.

As for me . . . I'm heading over to Jennifer White's First Grade Blue Skies to nab me THE BEST craftivities eva . . . .

Then on to Kristin's A Day In First Grade for some science goodies . . . Her stuff is REALLY good folks.

Some substitute stuff from Cheryl at Primary Graffiti . . .

Some Journal prompts for independent writing stations from Annie at The Moffatt Girls . . .

Some iPad goodies from Mary at Sharing Kindergarten . . .

And finally to Maria over at Kinder-Craze for her Number Mazes

because I already own both of her Big Bundle of Books.

And, of course, I will be purchasing an obscene amount of clipart.  Some women collect shoes, I collect clipart.  Ok, who am I kidding, I collect both.  

So tell me quick so I don't miss out on any wonderful goodies I may be missing, what's in your shopping cart?

Thanks to my blogging pal Jodi over at Fun in First Grade for this cutie patootie sale banner.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Freebie Plus Organizing and Differentiating Independent Self-Correcting Work

You’ve seen my self-correcting cards here before, but I’ve been receiving a ton of questions asking how I organize these cards in my classroom to keep them easily accessible and differentiated with kinder kids in mind.   So, with that in mind,  I thought I would give everyone a quick peek at some of the ways I have found to keep things together and organized in my own class.

First of all, if you aren’t familiar with ‘self-correcting cards,’ these are the unique cards that you can find in most of my Math and Word Work Stations Galore packs, Word Family Galore packs, Bead-It and all of my ‘I Can Do It Myself’ packs.  I might be a little obsessed with them.

They are a simple but effective design that I created and have used for years to allow my students the ability to work independently with all kinds of various math and reading skills.

In reading, the cards (I use them for CVC, CVCC, consonant blends, CVCe and digraphs) can be used to help produce a word by giving students the opportunity to build the word 

and then write it. 

Then they simply open to card to see if they did it correctly.
You can see that happen in the video below.


Or with practice reading, the student simply reads the word

 and opens the card to see if their answer is correct. 

Add a few nonsense words into the mix for a different skill set.
Read the cards to determine if it's real 

. . . or if it's nonsense.

This video illustrates how students can practice reading CVC and nonsense words at the same time.  


In math we used these cards to practice counting, ten frames production . . .

. . . place value and, currently, some of my students are working on addition and others are working on subtraction while still others work on both skills at the same time.  

But organizing all these cards and materials and finding ways to differentiate them without mixing cards together is a challenge if you don't have the experience of using these in the class like I have had.  It took a little trial and error, and it wasn't pretty in the beginning, but I now have a system and, surprisingly, it's not difficult for my students to understand.   And if I don't have to keep it organized, all the better.  It means these materials can be used  even more independently!  

To start with, even though these activities are independent, they are not 'one size fits all' by any means.  Which is exactly why each of these packs are differentiated. I generally have different colored borders for different tiers which helps organize me.

I love that I can have one student working on CVC words while a student next to them can be working on CVCC words, or blends or digraphs.  They are all happy to be working independently on whichever skill fits them.  But how do you organize that differentiating and have it make sense to your students?

Here's an example of what I do in math.  In math stations students each have their own color coded name tag (these are laminated so that colors change, and I seldom keep all one group of one color  together).  So one student may have a green or blue tag and another has an orange name tag.  It means nothing to them and everything to me.  This is how I tier my activities and students for math, depending upon whatever skill we are working on this week.

The name tag color corresponds to the activities.  Sometimes the playing mats are differentiated as these are.  So, I place the differentiated mats (some are for addition or subtraction and then some for both) in color coded poly vinyls.  Students with an orange name tag know they need whatever mat is in the orange labeled envelope.

But sometimes the mats are all the same and the cards are different.  So everyone could be working on addition for instance, but some would be working on addition to 5 or addition to 10 or more.  Then I would place the cards in a cheap dollar store plastic shoe box with the label (Don't you love those big dots?  They can't miss them can they?) 

 The cards fit easily and can be carried anywhere in the room.  

I know you're loving my dots, but you don't even have to use something as large and obvious as that.  Sometimes I just use washi tape to label the different tiers.  My students are in a habit of looking for and following their color for that activity.

Sometimes, I really get ambitious and I code my differentiated tiers with colored clothes pins.  

I know, I know . . . you probably think I'm crazy.  But I may just have a thing for clothes pins. 

 I dye them and decorate them and paint them . . . I may need an intervention. 

But the good news it . . . you don't have to use color coded clothes pins.  The plain ones work just fine.

And you don't have to use the plastic shoe containers either.  Sometimes, I grab a festive, fun container.  When my students are 'constructing numbers' I get a little hard hat from the dollar store and use that as my card holder.  Of course I have extras for them to wear while their working, too.  

If you want to hook your students, it doesn't hurt to go a little bit above and beyond to make it fun and engaging.  And speaking of fun and engaging, you shouldn't feel like you have to use just magnetic letters for building words either.  Mix it up a little.  Let them use letter beads, plastics letter caps, rocks with letters, puzzle magnets . . . whatever it is that interest them.  When we do segmenting self-correcting, I use everything from buttons, to cars, to festive thematic erasers.

One of my most coveted activities with these cards is the stations where we use cars to practice initial sounds and build words.

Hey, I have 19 boys and 6 girls.  I needed something to get their motors running.  Both boys and girls love it. 

Now just incase you've never had the opportunity to try these self-correcting cards out, I didn't want you to leave empty-handed.  So I put together a little FREEBIE that you can use to get your own class started.  Just click on the picture below.

Of course, if you're interested in any of the activities in this post, simply click on the pictures for the links or click HERE to find them in my store.  

I hope this helps you get yourself organized and started differentiating self-correcting activities.  I can't wait to hear what you think.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A New Spin On Morning Work and a Freebie to Get You Organized.

A Differentiated Kindergarten

Morning Work! Yuck!  Seriously  . . . yuck!  We feel like we need to have something for our kiddos to do while they file into our room haphazardly in the morning.  Most of them are on time, but many are 5, 10 or 15 minutes or more late for class.

I hate starting a new lesson without all of them there, so I have been forced to have SOMETHING for them to do for those first 20 minutes or so of the day.  Morning Work! Blah! 

While I have no opposition to a daily activity sheet now and then in the morning, if it's done everyday it’s boring for them and even more boring for me.  Did I tell you I hate paperwork?  I understand the necessity of paperwork for demonstrating understanding or for accountability from time to time, but I also believe in the  benefits of meaningful and engaging practice. 

So I changed my morning work.

kindergarten stations

Every kindergarten class has their own personality, likes and dislikes, motivators and favorite activities.  This year’s class is all about spinners and sensory tables and by changing the way I do morning work, I can give them that.

Here’s how I set it up. 


I have twelve drawers with various, differentiated activities inside.  (These drawers are by Steralite and you can get more information about them HERE.)  Most are spinner games which they beg for, but, because my students are also loving sensory anything, I also included a sensory activity as well.  But really, you could put anything in there.  These are just things that are currently on my students' most 'want to play activities' list and my most 'want them to practice' skills list.

spinners in kindergarten

Next to the drawers, I have a pocket chart with corresponding numbers and student names.  The number next to the student names is the drawer that they work out of that day.  This is very similar to how I set up my math stations.  

Students are partnered up with other students who they work well with or who I think can challenge each other.  The different colored name tags indicate different tiers of instruction.  However, this does not limit who they may be partnered with.  I am just as likely to put two same tiered students together as I am differently tiered students.  And . . . just because you are orange one day doesn't mean you will be orange everyday.  I often am moving students to different colors based on their ability level for a specific task, recent assessments or observations.  That's why my name tags are never ever printed.  I want to be able to change their tier quickly and simply.  I do that by laminating the tags and using a dry erase marker.

flexible grouping

At the end of the day, the numbers all move down so that students work out of a different drawer the next day. With 12 drawers, that's more than two weeks of morning work if you only go through the drawers one time.  However, I often have students travel to each drawer twice (They always want to go back to familiar drawers and never get bored believe it or not.) and that can make the drawers extend for an entire month.  
station organizaiton

I know from experience that in order for any 'station' type system to work, it is necessary for students to be responsible for it---themselves!!!  I don't want to be pulling out drawers and walking around setting up activities.  So I showed each and everyone of them the way to pull out the drawers and put them back in squeezing the sides in when the drawer stopped to release the 'brake' system.  

morning work

So they match their number up with the drawer number, grab their drawer and away they go.  

Inside their drawer it might look like this.  (You're going to notice that I attached my transparent spinners to my cd cases this time with washi tape, because I always get so many emails asking how I get them on there.  No drilling . . . it's just a transparent spinner taped to the outside of cd case.)

independent morning work

In this drawer, everyone uses the same laminated response sheet but has differentiated spinners.  So the spinner case is empty when they get their drawer.
kindergarten stations

Like using the drawers, I have also trained my kinders how to load their spinner cards into cd cases as well.  So they take out their leveled spinner, place it in the case . . .

 . . . close the case up . . . 

. . . and they're ready to get started.  

By the way, I really like these spinners from Learning Advantage.  Click on either of the pictures above to get more information on them.

Independence also means giving them the tools to take care of problems that might arise as well.  So I always have a bucket of extra spinners at their disposal along with other necessary items.

morning work

With 12 drawers you are probably wondering where everyone's working.  As you can see, I let them choose.  I only have one rule for where to work:  Bingo dotters have to be used at a table. 

My other expectation is that everything goes neatly back into the drawer.  It takes practice, but they do get it. 


One of the ways that these activities stay independent, is by including the activity card in each drawer.  This gives students a visual of what they need to do with the materials and refreshes their memory of the activity.  It also has the Common Core Standard on it so that if my principal ever wants to know what skill the activity addresses, it's right there.

Because these activities are familiar, even when I change themes each month, students easily adjust to the skill or difficulty level, because they know the activity or game.  That allows me a few precious minutes to finish attendance and walk around to see if everyone is completing tasks as they should be.

sensory bins for morning work

By using a small portable tote, I can also include sensory activities into this morning work rotation.  

Students search through the sensory goodies for sight work I-spy cards.  

kindergarten I-spy sight words

Using a magnifying glass, they find their sight word and record it on the recording sheet.  It's differentiated, of course, so everyone is challenged at their own level of ability.

I love hearing their conversations and watching them interact with the materials and their partners. 

It's a good time for letting them problem solve and help each other out.  This little one below was an incredible teacher to another student in my class.  I sat back and watched her give him instructions without giving him the answer.  They loved morning work that day so much, they asked if they could do this drawer during 'rest time.' Ummm . . . YES please!  

Using dry erase markers and laminating the response sheets cut down on my paperwork immensely, and I still feel like I can get a good assessment of their understanding and skills by making a quick walk through. 

I'm not going to tell you that my classroom is quiet during this time nor will I tell you that everyone is seated neatly at a desk and chair (I don't even have desks for goodness sakes!), but I will say they are engaged and working.

And when they're done, they pack it all up and slip the drawers back in where they belong.

That's it!  I'm sure this morning work system would work no matter what you put in the drawers as long as your students were being challenged at their own level of readiness, engaged in an activity that was interesting and the work is meaningful.   Pick those activities that your students beg for more of everyday . . . smelly markers, play-doh, paper punches . . .  And if you're needing numbers for your drawers and pocket chart name labels, I've put together a super quick, nothing fancy, simple file with some that will fit HERE.  Just click and you can download it to use yourself. 

And if you'd like more information about any of the activities you have seen in this post, just click on the pictures above or the packets below to find out more.

So, what's your morning work routine?


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