Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Shout Out To Oceans of First Grade Fun and . . . a FREEBIE!!



Easter Monsters Love To Race


Last summer when the Debbie Diller book study was the place to be, Oceans of First Grade Fun's, Yoland made this great game for working with 10s and 1s called Race to 50.  I loved the game, but knew that it would be a bit difficult for my kindergarten students starting out. 



So I contacted Yolanda to see if she might be willing to allow me to revamp her game and offer it up to all of you as a freebie for your own students as she so graciously did last summer. I have to tell you, she is sooooo nice and, of course she said yes!  (Thanks Yolanda!)

So here it is. I altered it to meet my students level of readiness where they are now rather than trying to give them something that would be too frustrating and difficult. 

It is tiered to meet my students just beginning to work with 10s and 1s (Race to 30) and there are two other levels (Race to 50 and Race to 100) for students who need more of a challenge.  I do hope that if you find it useful you will give me a shout out.

You can grab this freebie by heading over to my TpT store or by clicking here or on the game's picture above. 

While you're at my store, check out my new items for Easter I just listed. I'm a little nervous.  These are the first two products I've actually put out there for people to purchase.  Of course, they are tiered to meet the readiness levels of all your learners. 


The first product is a differentiated nonsense word/cvc/ccvc/cvcc activity.


And the other is an activity to get your kinesthetic learners up and moving while they write the room with this subtraction activity.



I sure would love to hear any of your feedback on them.



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Look What I Got!!!

Seriously? An award for me?  You can imagine how shocked I am to open my comments and find that I have been nominated by both 3teacherchicks





and kinderzoo
for the Liebster Award!

Thanks Ladies. You made my day!


What it's all about...
The Liebster Award is awarded to blogs with less than 200 followers.  The award is passed along from blogger to blogger and highlights up and coming blogs.  Liebe is the word for love in Germany, which is where the award originated.  


Guidelines to accepting the award:
Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.  Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.  Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.  Present the Liebster Blog Award to blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed.  Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.
So here they are. MY Liebster Blog pick!


 
Pam is a 3rd Grade Teacher in SWITZERLAND!  You've got to check her out! 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

What's in your sand table and . . .A FREEBIE!




I often wonder if I'm the only kindergarten classroom left that still has a housekeeping/dramatic play center AND a sand table.  The Early Childhood teacher in me just knows that my students still need that sense of play and fun.  So, of course, I spent the better part of yesterday dying rice in prepartion for a favorite game of 'Searching for Leprechaun's Gold.'

First of all, I assume you all know how to dye rice and macaroni but in case you don't, let me just tell you, it IS the easiest thing ever and make HUGE brownie points with the kids.

What do you need? A good ziploc bag, a 1/4-1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, rice (or noodles) and several drops of food coloring.  That's it!



Pour your bag about 2/3 full of rice or noodles, dump in the alcohol and then the dye. Close up the bag good and tight.  Mush it around (this is my 4 year old's job).  And then I like to let it set for 1/2 hour or so to really get the rice covered with dye.  Lay out some tin foil and dump it all on there to dry.  And that is it!  Most of you probably already know this technique but for those of you that don't, you won't believe how easy it is.



Searching for nonsense and real gold!

Of course, your sensory driven little ones LOVE to feel it, to play in it, to mix it around.  And they'll also love playing math or literacy games in it too.

One of favorite games, 'Searching for Leprechaun's Gold' is a nonsense/cvc game (I also have a 4 lettered/ccvc/cvcc game for those kids who are working beyond 3 letters).  I was given a big bag of old gold takens a couple of years ago and on the backs of them I wrote cvc and nonsense words.  I hide about 50-60 of those in my sand table.  Then, using only tweezers (I am SO mean), they search for the gold and decide whether it's real of nonsense and record their answer on a recording sheet. 

It's all quite fun and theirs lots of giggles and laughing but also tons of work being done sounding out words and recording answers.

So I was thinking about how I could make this game available to EVERYONE that falls upon my little website and here is what I came up with:


Instead of a sand table, you can use a pot, bucket or whatever you have handy. And instead of gold tokens, you can use these cute little shamrocks I've made up for you.

Of course I have tiered this activity to meet the needs of various learners' readiness.  There are 3 lettered cvc and nonsense word cards and a set of 4 lettered nonsense/cvcc/ccvc cards.  You can click on the picture above or HERE to download a copy.

If you enjoy this activity, I hope you'll drop me a line, follow me or tell a friend. 

By the way, next on my list is a PERMISSION TO PIN button, but until then, feel free to pin anything on my blog. 


Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lucky CVC/CVCC/CCVC Freebie


Everyone's a little Irish around St. Patrick's Day.  So everyone should share in the luck o' the Irish.  Here's a lucky freebie for you.  My little kinder leprechauns LOVE to write the room.  I'm not sure whether it's the walking around, the writing or the process of seeking for these little shamrocks.  In anycase, it's a favorite activity in my classroom.

Of course, I've tiered it for all of you.  The first recording sheet is for Shamrock's 1-8 which cover CVC words for those students still working on segmenting.  Then there is a mid-tier 9-16 which includes CVC and CCVC/CVCC words.  And finally, the recording sheet for 17-24 is for those students who are a bit more skilled.  It only has CVCC/CCVC words.  Want it?  Click HERE to grab it.

I hope that if you enjoy it, you'll consider dropping me a note or following me.




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How to make a floor sized number line and a freebie!!!


When we teachers think of differentiating, quite often we automatically think of tiering by readiness. My own struggles with differentiating are always remembering that we differentiate in response to a learners mutliple intelligence and interests as well. In kindergarten, that usually means lots kinesthetic activities.  A floor sized number line has been one of my best tools for meeting the needs of students who need to MOVE.  I use it for playing number squeeze (I'm not sure who came up with that game but let me know if you know, my kids LOVE it), for demonstrating and performing simple addition and subtraction problems, for demonstrating directionality when adding and subtracting, for skip counting, and just about any other activity you can think of that involves a number line.  The other great thing about MY number line is, besides costing very little to make, it can also be transformed into a 100s chart.  Most often I just use a couple of the strips that I need at one time. They are made in strips of 10. So 1-10 is one strip, 11-20 is another and so on.  I can lay the strips end to end in my room or more commonly in our hall (Remember, I have the world's smallest kindergarten room. So yes, I use our hallway.) differentiating by using lesser or greater numbers as needed, or I can lay the strips next to each other to make a 100s chart. 

Want the instructions and printables for making one of these? Of course I'll set you up. Just click HERE to get what you need.  If you come up with any other great games or activities for a floor sized number line, please drop me a comment.  I'd love to come up with some new ideas. 

Need more ideas for getting your kids moving . . . click here and find oodles.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

How flexible are you . . .

How Flexible Are You . . .

Flexible groupings are probably one of the easiest ways to begin intiating differentiated instructional strategies in a classroom.  The question is, what does it look like, how do you organize it and how does it work.  I don't think it looks the same in any two classrooms.  As with anything, it has to work for you.

In my class, there are pocket charts (I love, love, love those little $1.00 Target pocket charts), laminated magnetic cards and even MORE pocket charts to indicate different cooperative groupings. 


Literacy Groups Based on Readiness, Learning Profiles and Cooperation
I divide my literacy groups by learning profiles and readiness by using animal groups.  Because they are on magnets, I can move students around from group to group as often as I want depending the skills we will be addressing or as a result of ongoing assessing.  My students are very good about looking up at the board to see what animal they are on any given day because it changes quite often.



Math Stations Grouped by Readiness and Learning Profiles

Math Stations are separated by color and groups of four.  Within those groups they work as pairs.  I have the WORLDS SMALLEST kindergarten classroom.  It was clear 12 math stations for 24 students just wasn't going to happen for me, so this system works out well.  These groups change about every three weeks and they are based on readiness and learning profiles as well.  The cards are coded by color to indicate different activities that students utlize from their station based on their readiness.  So orange students may have different activites than a green student and so on.  These cards are laminated to that I can move students around and change their color based on pre and on-going assessment of skills.



Calendar Partners Grouped By Interest and Cooperative Learning Profiles

Calendar partners are changed every month.  We utlize calendar books and I found that by having students work in partners, they are able to help eachother out rather than walking around myself and checking every child for understanding.  Partners are determined based on interest and cooperative learning profiles.



Learning Center Groups Based on Multiple Intelligences and Learning Profiles

Learning Centers have students in groups of three.  These groups change about every two weeks and are based on learning profiles, interests and multiple intelligences.  Although about half of these stations are tiered, the groupings for these stations are NOT based on readiness.

The goal of flexible grouping is to provide lots of different kinds of opportunites for students to work in meaningful ways with other students who are not necessarily like themselves. I, myself, can't imagine my groupings working any other way, but I would love to hear what other teachers do.  I'm always looking for new ways to organize and streamline my groups. Drop me a comment to let me know if you're 'flexible.'

Saturday, February 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Differentiated Math Freebie


In the spirit of collaboration and sharing, I am delighted to provide the first of what I hope is many activities that I am offering FREE to enhance your differentiated math instruction.  I LOVE St. Patrick's Day.  With a name like McGuire and three little boys with Irish names of their own, the green holiday of Ireland ranks second in my favorite holidays only to Valentine's Day  because my oldest son was born on February 14th.

This activity is tiered to address the different levels of readiness of your students.  It focuses on the Kindergarten Common Core Math Standard:  K.OA.5 Fluently add and subtract within 5, but with the three different tiers, it would be useful in first and second grade as well. 


I have some kindergarten honeys that are fluently adding to 10, so this activity allows me to challenge those students that are ready to move on and also addresses those students that have yet to master the basic standard.  I address thier learning profile and multiple intelligences by giving them some choices as to what they would like to use to solve the problems.  Some of my students are still more comfortable using manipulatives and for them I have gold nuggets (spray painted garbonzo beans) and for others, they prefer a number line. 

If you'd like it, click HERE and grab it for FREE from my TpT store and leave me some feedback.  I'd love to know what your think of it and how it can be changed or improved.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Taking the plunge !!!

Ok, it has come to this. I'm taking the plunge in to blogdom.  I have sat on the sidelines thinking, "when I have more time . . ." But face it, who ever has time. So, here I go. I'm not sure if I know what I'm doing in regards to the whole techie blogging stuff, but because I am committed to the subject, I am willing to learn as I go along.


It's my goal and my sincere hope that I am able to share some of the trials and triumphs I have experienced in my journey towards creating a differentiated kindergarten classroom.  While I am by no means an expert in the area differentiated instruction,  I value all it offers, I have seen its' benefits to my own students and I am committed to seeing it used successfully in early childhood classrooms. 


Because I am always changing and growing, I value constructive collaboration and hope that others will share their comments and ideas regarding this HOT topic. 

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