Monday, April 20, 2015

Nonsense Word Play for a Rainy Day

"The sun would not shine.  It was too wet to play.  So we sat in our class on that cold wet wet day . . ." Or not!

I feel your pain Dr. S, and that's why we were hopping flowers and puddles down the kindergarten hall today.

If you teach kindergarten, you know that a rainy day and inside recess can mean a slow painful day where little bodies need to move.  Mine certainly did today, so we headed to the hall.

This is by far the cheapest, easiest and fastest nonsense word you can make.

Head to your favorite dollar store and grab a packet of whichever thematic pack of foams you'd like to use, write a bunch of nonsense words on them with a Sharpie, and set them down your hall.

It was puddles and flowers today for my class.  The best part of this activity is that is gives me a quick assessment of their nonsense word fluency and THEY love to see if they can better their own best hop in 1 minute.  I always remind them that the goal is to do a little better each time, not to do better than someone else.  

There still quite a few days of April Showers left in the forecast, so I suggest you rush right out and get yourself some extra foamies just to get you through.  By the way, just in case anyone asks why on Earth are you in the hall hopping around with your kinders, just tell them you're differentiating your instruction to meet the needs of your kinesthetic learners.  No one needs to know that they're actually having fun.  That will be our little secret.

Monday, April 13, 2015

A Dolphin Visits Kindergarten

It am truly so fortunate to have wonderful people who the love children in my class and who are willing to come and read and spend some time with them.

Grandma Main is a blessing to us.  Right before Spring Break (and I mean like hours before Spring Break started --note the state of my room in the pictures as evidence), she decided to come back to our class and do an encore reading performance for us.  In December she visited as a Snowman.  This time she came as a dolphin.  

She may have been inspired by her recent visit to Florida.  She even brought each child back a little souvenir bag of sea shells and stickers. (It was like Christmas in April I tell ya.) 

For many of my little ones who seldom have the opportunity to travel out of Northern Michigan let alone the state, having their own bag of sea shells is a rare treat.  I mean, is she not the greatest grandma or what?!!! 

Of course, she brings a plethora of great reads and is always sure to have non-fiction as well as fiction selections.  My adore having her visit.

As a teacher, I think we sometimes don't always reach out to families and community members that are interested in visiting our classes, because, quite often, we have very little time in our schedule, we worry about what they will think of our class or we just don't like there to be a disruption in our routine.  But there are so many people, like this wonderful lady, who are ready and willing to make a day a little brighter for our kiddos.  

Trust me, even when your room is a disaster, let them come!  You won't regret it. 

I know we'll be seeing more of Grandma Main before the end of the year.  I asked her to find a dinosaur outfit for the month a May.  I don't know where she finds these get ups, but I kind of love it . . . a lot!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Giving away the # BESTDAYEVER with Chevrolet and A Differentiated Kindergarten

What if you could give away the #BestDayEver? 

You know, it really IS better to give than it is to receive.  I really do believe that.  That feeling of paying it forward or awarding someone with a random act of kindness, more often than not, gives us a feeling that is as gratifying if not more than being the recipient.  So when Chevrolet told me about their #BestDayEver day of happiness, I knew I had to get in on the action.

If you could give someone the best day ever, what would you do?  Today, April 1st, Chevrolet is giving people all over the country the #BestDayEver, and they've invited me along for the fun.  While they're surprising folks all over the country in unique and fun ways, I get to find some deserving folks in our own teaching community to surprise with a #BestDayEver too.

So here's the question, if you could give someone in our community . . . a teacher  . . . administrator  . . . recess aide . . .  or school worker . . . whoever we see working with kids, the best day ever, who would you give it to and what would you give them?

So often, we never think about the people who we work with everyday as 'needing' anything, but, quite often, these are the folks who are so deserving of being recognized. 

For some great ideas about we could give the teachers to assure them the #BestDayEver, I went to the experts.  That's right, the McGuire boys had some great ideas about what they would do for their own teachers.

It's all about paying it forward and giving someone else the #BestDayEver.  Have a massage therapist come to school and give back rubs during during lunch, treat your classroom aide who loves theatre to a night out, fund another teacher's Donors Chose project, reserve a prime parking space right next to the door for someone who always has a ton of supplies to carry in each day, give a bouquet of gift cards to a teacher who consistently is digging into their own pockets for school supplies, give a teacher a substitute for a day so they can copy, laminate and prep for their class, have lunch delivered to your office staff, remodel a classroom or just have a nice hot cup of coffee delivered to a favorite co-worker. Get creative, think about what it would mean to someone else, nominate anyone who works with kids, and tell me what you would do to give them their own #BestDayEver.  

So how can you give someone the #BestDayEver?  Tell me who you would give the #BestDayEver and what you would give them in my comments below.  

I will be picking a couple of winners today, so don't wait.  Leave me your nomination right away and remember to use #BestDayEver in your entry. 

And in the meantime, stop over and check out all the incredible ways that Chevrolet is making today the #BestDayEver for people all over the country by visiting by clicking HERE  or the button below.

I can't wait to hear how you would make the #BestDayEver for someone you know. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” Chevrolet compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spring Cleaning Sale 20% Off Everything.

They tell me it's Spring.  You could have fooled me when I looked at a whooping 4 degrees on the thermometer this morning. (I'm not kidding.  It really did!)  But regardless, it's time to get rid of those wintery blues and start thinking butterflies, flowers and HEAT.

And to get you in the mood, I'm throwing a little sale of my own.  20% off everything and anything in my store.

That means that even my greatest and latest, I CAN DO IT MYSELF-Addition and Subtraction are on sale.  

I love having an activity that is completely independent and self-correcting, 

but more importantly, my kinders love these activities for math and literacy as well.

To see these and all my products, just head over to my store by clicking HERE.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Game Play, Freebies and Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites Chapter 4

I’m a bit late but back to hook up to the Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites Book Study and Strategy 4 is all about games.
I love that research supports what parents and teachers have known for so long.  

Game play builds cooperative relationships, allows students to practice without pressure and teaches them how to follow rules and social norms, problem solving, develop strategies and  . . . Let’s face it . . . It’s just FUN.

I know when my students are motivated and engaged, learning is enhanced dramatically.

In my own house, the boys always have a deck of cards or board game out. 

While I love that Eric Jensen (Brain Research guru) confirms the importance of game play in brain development, my boys are the real experts that confirm for me that kids are engaged and learning during game play.

 So why wouldn’t I want those same things for my students.

Sometimes, games are just for the sake of playing games.  And other times they have a  objective this being addressed.

Here's just a few examples of how I use them in my own class, and I've added links to quite a few freebies that I have to try a few versions of these games in your own class.  

This is a game that was actually inspired my by boys.  The concept is the same whether you are using it to solve equations . . .

 . . . or practicing word work  . . .

 . . . or basic number recognition.  A card is turned, a problem is solved, word read or number identified, and then students search the mat to find the answer.  When they find it, they point to it and say YATTA!  If they are the first to identify the answer and say 'YATTA,' then they win the card.  

If you'd like to try a version of this game in your own class, just click HERE!!!

I couple of years ago I found these miniature sized Jenga block games at a store for $1.50 each.  I bought every one they had.  This particular one has nonsense words written on them, but I have them for letters, cvc words, addition and subtraction.  Basically if there is a skill to be practiced, I have a Jenga game for it.  

Hide and Seek Card Games
A simple concept of having one student hide a card (or cards) behind a picture, problem, number or word depending on the skill being practiced and having the other students guess where that card is located. 

Students make their guess by identifying, in the picture here, two rhyming words, the student that hides the cards, removes the cards guessed to reveal whether or not the guess is correct.

I use this game for number recognition, tens and ones identification, sight word practice or whatever skill they need to practice.

I seldom have a word work or math station this game isn't being used to practice one skill or another.  You can try this game out with an Easter freebie HERE from a couple of years ago called Bashful Bunnies.

Spinner Games
If you know anything about my class, you know we use spinner games.  While many people only think of 'Bump' as a game played with dice, if you add a spinner, you can give a total ELA twist.

Or add some equations and make 'Bump' a bit more challenging.

Spinner games that are played like the traditional 'War' game are another favorite for building math skills.

You can even play a 'Four In A Row' game with dotters and spinners for identifying tens and ones.  (Who doesn't love spinners AND dotters?  They don't even care who loses or wins!) If you'd like to try on a differentiated spinner game for size, just click HERE  and HERE for a couple of freebies to wet your whistle.

Games With Fun Manipulatives
You can take any normal game up a notch and make it that much more engaging just by adding different and interesting manipulatives.

This isn't your average BUMP game!!!! (Get the egg trays at Walmart and free playing cards to go with HERE!)

The picture is horrible, but the game is FUN!!!! Want to play a little Spider Bite?  (There's a free card version HERE!)

How about some place value practice?  Easter Monsters Love to Race is differentiated so your students race to 30, 50 or 100 using tens and ones manipulatives and it's FREE so click HERE

Students love it, because it's fun.  I like it because it's so darn versatile.  Practice words, shapes, numbers . . . or several skills all at one time.  

And those are just a few fun way, I use games in my own class. The one question I always get about games is if students get bored having the same kinds of games.  I can't speak for everyone, but, especially in kindergarten, students like games that are familiar, fun and at ones they can be successful.  Just by changing the skills from time to time or creating a new theme or using an interesting thematic manipulative, you can give a familiar game a brand new life.  And the best part about using games that are familiar is that your students become very independent when they play them.  They don't need an adult to supervise or manage it.  They can do it!

I hope you'll take advantage of some of the free games I have included links for above.  I can't wait to read all the other posts about this great strategy.  Remember to head over to Katie's blog Queen Of The First Grade Jungle to see all the other great posts about this strategy.


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