Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Treats for Our Sweets


Who's that trick or treating at my front door?  My favorite sweetest Freebielicious Followers? Love you guys!  Of course I have a treat for you.  I hope it's something you find as useful as I do.

I'm always looking for ways to appeal to my kinesthetic learners. . .  those little honeys who need to move and can't place their bottom on a seat if it were ducked taped there.  Yep, those are the kids I'm looking to appeal to and why I use necklace-type letter placards when working with 'making words.'  Specifically, I love to use them when I introduce a new word family which I do every week.



Now, I had some ugly old black and white, yarn hung ones, but they were looking weak and sad.  They were tattered and the laminate was pealing and the yarn was fraying.  So I gave them a proper burial and created these bright fun ones that are much sturdier and, with the use of a lanyard, are proving to be easier to handle.

Just get them printed out and laminated.  Hole-punch them.  (This is one of my new hole punchers from my Office Max make a better day loot.  I LOVE it!!!)



Then loop your lanyard onto it.  Of course, you can use any kind of cording that you want but I love that these lanyards swivel around and they don't tangle.  And they're pretty cheap.


I store them on a Target Bargin Bin over the door coat hook on my closet. 



So go ahead and grab your copy by clicking on the picture below (It's a google doc so click file, download and then print once it's loaded) And enjoy your Halloween Sweets from me.



Next house on the block? That would be Lyndsey from A Year of Many First's. 
Click on her button below to ring her door bell. (I hear she has the extra large sized Snickers Bars-My favorite!)  And watch out for ghosts and witches.




Monday, October 29, 2012

And the Hear All winner is . . .

Thanks to everyone that took the time to enter my Hear All giveaway.  I wish I could give one to every single one of you, but there can only be one.

And here it is. . .


Congratulations Sheri. 
I'll be sending you this dandy little device just as soon as I can get your address.

Remember if you didn't win this time, you can always pick up one of these lovely little assessment honeys at Learning Resources.  They have all kinds of great stuff you just have to get.  I know, I have a very long wish list of my own from there.

Friday, October 26, 2012

My week, balancing life as mom and teacher and a look ahead past Halloween

Unless you're been a teaching mom, you probably don't truly understand the 'balancing' act that we preform everyday.  On one had we work tirelessly to create activities that instruct, educate and entertain the 26 little ones we are responsible for at school.  I mean here is just a taste of what went on this week . . .



You can click on this pic to find out more about these activities.


and then at the end of the day, we go home to the little ones that depend on us there.  Whew!





I, like all us teacher-moms, struggle with being exhausted at the end of the week and yet feeling like I need to be super mom for my three little men.  I'm the first to say, most days, I'm quite a bit less than 'super' but I've learn to become more 'creative' and to not sweat the small stuff.  It's ok if they don't get 7 course meals, if they are a bit behind on haircuts (they're sporting some serious curly dos these days) or if their shirts are a little bit wrinkled . . .  So tonight when the thought of dinner (man I HATE when one of them asks 'what's for dinner') came about, I opted for a simple boy favorite 'muffin tin breakfast for dinner.' 



Yep, I've been doing muffin tin meals for about four years now . . .  Here's a picture of one of the first time we had a muffin tin meal. 



And now, I could honestly put ANYTHING in a muffin tin and my boys think that I'm . . . dare I say it  . . . 'SUPER MOM!!!'  This week . . . Halloween themed muffin tins.  (I have them for every season)
 Slap a little breakfast in them with a Halloween themed glass to go with and it's a guaranteed crowd please.  Tonight's menu yogurt, waffles, cheesy eggs, apple sauce, tater tots and syrup.  Sometimes we do a theme: colors, numbers, letter sounds. . .  but tonight it's just breakfast themed . . .


I'm guilt free again and ready to tackle the mess of Thanksgiving STUFF piled on my table.  I love Halloween but, yes, I'm already looking ahead to Thanksgiving.  I'm trying to figure out what I will use again, what I still need and planning our kindergarten family Thanksgiving Feast.  Take a look at this picture from another year's feast . . .


75 kindergartners line our hall and dine together.  Definitely one of my favorite teaching days of the year definitely.  You would think that with the years I have taught kindergarten I would have everything I could possibly need for this month as far as teaching materials go, but with the introduction of Common Core Standards, the number of kiddos in my class this year, and the vast differences in readiness . . . I still have some things I have to get together for my stations over the next week or so. 

I was able to get one thing done already.  Since I STILL have kinders working on letters and letter sounds, I went ahead and made a new I-Spy for Letter Sounds.  I included the option for black and white recording sheets for this one.  Click on the picture below to check it out. 


Boys are in bed and I need to go rest-up for the Corn Maze adventure we have planned for tomorrow and get some planning done before I head to bed myself. 


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cloning Myself and a Hear All Giveaway!

When you teach in a classroom of 26 kindergarteners, you look for any and every way possible to clone yourself somehow . . . someway.  I think I found one great way that I have been able to accomplish just that.

A couple of weeks ago I received a package from the wonderful people at Learning Resources.  For us teachers, Learning Resources is the FAO Schwartz of teaching resources.  They have center activities, manipulatives and all the GREATEST and LATEST techno gadgets to make the lives of teachers easier.  I know I have a Christmas list with pages of their catalog dog eared with the items I'm hoping Santa will put under my Christmas tree.  So you can imagine how excited I was to open up that box and find this little tiny handheld device that is essentially my little clone. . . a mini assessment ME.  It's real name . . . the Hear All Assessment Recorder.
This little device is not only a fabulous little recorder .  . . it has saved me a ton of time and it has a ton a great uses. 

You know how motivated my kinders are to pass those ball words, with this little device, I discovered that if I place a little green finger nail polish (yes it really comes in that color) on the first word I want them to read and a red bit of polish on the last word, I can get through every and any kiddo that wants to recite their words during my short rest time.


They sit down, say their name and away they go.  Afterwords I can play it back and know who has passed and can move onto the next set of ball words.

It's also great for my high fliers that are reading reading reading . . . I can set up a station just for the HEAR ALL and students can read their selected text and I play it back for them, talk about fluency and intonation and I can even  save it as part of a digital record or assessment piece to share with parents.  It hooks right up to your computer and downloads easy peasy. 

When students are 'reading to someone' as part of Daily 5, I can eaves drop in to make sure they are checking for understanding and 'coaching' each other appropriately.

I even have used it for those kinders who are struggling with counting to 100 and wanting desperately to join the "100s Club" in my class.   Let's face it, it takes along time to listen to 26 kids count to 100, but if I set up the Hear All, every student who wants to count to 100 gets a chance. They can count into the HEAR ALL and then follow along with the 100s chart after to see where they missed a number. 

What? You don't have a 100s Club in your kindergarten class?  You have to get one.  Mine is just a simple little poster that I make every year and they get their name on it when they count to 100.



Of course, they get a very official 100s Club Certificate of Recognition to go with that honor.  I'm sure you can make your own poster but if you need a certificate click below to get an editable one.


OK, so here's the greatest thing about the Learning Resources Hear All . . . I get to give one away to one of you.  Yep, it's all true.  That's a $99 value by the way.  I know, I know . . . 'get out' right? Nope it's true.  So here's how it works.  There some different ways you can enter.  So check out the rafflecopter entry below and make sure you take advantage of all the ways to enter.  I'll be announcing a winner next Tuesday so go ahead and enter.  Everyone needs a little mini-me to help with assessing.  This one could be yours!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Finding Success With Ball Word Champs and Top Bananas

I always have said, if it's not fun for me, then it's not fun for my kinders.  That was the whole reason I started using "Ball Words" to teach my kinders sight words years ago.  That particular year I had a slew of boys and 4 girls.  Sight words were boring and since my class was pretty high energy and even the girls were into games and sports, I slapped the first level of Dolch words on a picture of a baseball and told them that they were baseball words.  If they could master all 20 words, they would be a 'Baseball Champ,' receive a certificate of recognition and get their name on the Baseball Word Champ poster.

I really didn't think it would go much farther than that, but it did.  They zipped through baseball words and wanted more . . . next was soccer . . . they mastered those . . . and then one  more which was basketball.  All of a sudden, instead of "resting" during rest time . . . they were snagging my ball words and practicing. I wasn't getting ANY work done during their rest time  because those darn kids had me too busy listening to ball words everyday.




Last year's ball word posters.

It was fun and exciting and let me tell you the best part . . . they started encouraging and helping each other to pass ball levels. When one of their friends passed a level, they would ALL cheer.

Everyone loved the activities ( there are several games, an I-Spy, I-Spy Word bottles and more in each level) and everyone was working on their own level of readiness and finding success. 

I could hear them even when they were working on writing refer to a word as a baseball word or a basketball word, so I started putting them up on the wall where they could refer to their spelling.


I knew I was on to something.   I put a challenge down.  If every single student could pass baseball (the first 20 Dolch words) I would throw a baseball party.  It was a bit nerve wracking but they worked with each other and did it and the next level and the next and the next.  That year, everyone in my class mastered at least 100 Dolch words but many went on to master all 220 and it's been that way ever since. 

I always assumed they would get passed a couple of levels and just poop out, but they never do.  They keep plugging away through . . .


Baseball - Soccer - Football - Volleyball - Golf - Tennis - Bowling - Ping Pong - Hockey - Beach Ball  11 levels of Sports Balls. One for each level of Dolch Words.

(You can click on each individual word to see each packet above.  They are also available at a discounted price bundled in Groups.  Group 1: Top Bananas, Baseball, Soccer  Group 2: Basketball, Football and Volleyball, Group 3 Golf, Tennis and Bowling, Group 4 Ping Pong, Hockey and Beach Balls

Since then, I've been able to develop some fun activities to go along with each level

Ball word and Top Bananas I-Spy


Ball Words In a Bottle


and I even started a Pre-Ball Word System for Letter Recognition called Top Bananas.  I'm seeing my kinders moving right along.  I have 17 Top Bananas to date.  And just crowned my first two Baseball Champs. 

I'm dying to get those last Top Bananas finished up (9 more to go) so we can have our Banana Split Celebration, but until then I'm scrambling to keep up with 26 kids that are wanting to practice.  The good news is I have really great data on all them and can really see growth daily.

Oh don't worry, I have a system for keeping those words fresh after mastering them too . . . Speedster Readers is all about fluency sentences.  (Got to keep them on their toes ya know.) But I'll save that one for another day.  For now it's all about the ball words.  Yes, it's alot of work, but my results have been great and more importantly, my kids love learning this way so it's all worth it. 

How do you make learning sight words fun?  I'd love to hear how. Until then, I'm off print off some certificates for my new Top Bananas from Friday.  Have a great weekend.








Friday, October 19, 2012

Daily 5 Update and a Few Successes.

So you know I'm working at moving my class towards Daily 5 right?  I mean, in the past I did literacy stations and they were successful and everything, but I never felt like I got enough extended time with my students.  It always seemed so rushed.  I differentiated those literacy stations but still, I wanted more time.  So Daily 5 seemed to be like something that fit the ticket.

Right away, I knew that I would need to do some tweaking for kindergarten.  First of all I had 26 kinders!!!!!! Yep that's what I said.  And I have a S-M- ALL . . . SMALL room.  So I didn't want to many kiddos at any one group.  Instead of Daily 5. I'm doing Daily 6.  (Although we are only doing three of the six on a given day.)  The stations will be Read to Self, Listen To Reading, Read To Someone, Teacher Station, Work on Writing, Word Work. 

So we've been in school thirty plus of few days and here's where I am in the process of implementation.  The first station introduced was Read to Self.   Our goal was to get to two days in a row of 15 minutes of uninterrupted, quiet, on-task reading.

Last week we did it!!

So this week we celebrated.  A pajama-fort-read in the dark plus treats-party.

How can you not LOVE reading when your room is turned into one big fort.

 I always say, if it's not fun for me, then it won't be fun for them. This was reading made FUN.

They loved it.  


Next in the implementation of Daily 6 I introduced Listen To Reading. I used to have one of those 5-7 person listening centers, but I was determined this year to have my kids more independent, spread out and really working during this time with individual cd players.  Yes, it took some demonstrating.  (When you have 26 to model for you sometimes you have to climb on a table.)



They've caught on quickly and really LOVE this station.


I'm so lucky that my kindergarten teacher neighbor, Kerri's, MIL made me these gorgeous bags for me listening center. 


Do you love them?  I do. 

Big enough for a clipboard, cd player book and there's a pocket for crayons and a pencil.  If you missed out on my free response sheets you can get them by clicking below.



I also have Listen To Reading posters and cards that can go right on your bags


 to help your students remember expectations and HOW-To.



The tags are free in three different colors to choose from with coordinating posters.  Click on the pictures to get them.


Now Working on Writing is something they have been doing since day one.  Only I have been having my aide man that station.  She has been introducing different writing activities and expectations for these first
couple of weeks so that when it comes time to be independent, they are ready go. 

This is kind of the same for Word Work except I have been gradually weaning my time away from Word Work activities to meet with groups.  Because the activities are somewhat similar and familiar they are on the cusp of being independent. We are so close.

So the last one to introduce . . . the one that scares me the most . . . is Read to Someone.  I have to admit, I'm a bit afraid they aren't going to be able to handle it. But I'm hopeful.  So I'll check in with you in a couple of weeks and let you know how it goes. Until then, we're making progress and gains so as Pete the Cat says 'It's All Good.'

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Differentiated Math Can Be SPOOKY FUN!

It's no secret I love to teach kinders math.  Maybe it's because I feel like I can actually see kids loving math or maybe it's because it's just so darn fun.  I love providing activities that can appeal to all the different intelligences in my classroom.  It's a challenge and, admittably, I am not always successful . . . but when I am, I know it my the smiles, enthusiasm and laughter that is deafening (remember I have 26 kinders--it can get loud) during stations. 

While I don't hit them all out of the park . . . here are a couple of fun ones that I got 'thumbs ups' for this week.


Spider Bite!!!! This is actually game that my 8 year old created with his two little brothers (4 and 6).  When I first started following blogs, Heidi Samuelson, of Swamp Frog First Grade was one of the first I discovered and loved.  On her blog, she introduced me to a great little game called Poison Dart Frogs.  I immediately introduced it to my then 7 year old and 3 and 5 year old.  They LOVED it and still play it often.  The gist of it is that you have these frogs and on your turn you can choose 3, 2 or 1 frog, but you do not want to be the person that ends up having to take the LAST frog as that is the poison one and as a result . . . you lose.

So my son says, what if we take spiders instead and write numbers on their back.  The rules are basically the same.  You can 3, 2 or 1 but you have to be able to say the number or you can keep it and have to put it back.  The person stuck with the last spider gets the spider bite (they don't need to identify the last spider as it's already bitten them) and then everyone else counts up their spiders to see who has the most. I threw out a number line for those who needed a little scaffolding which allowed even my most struggling kinders to be successful.  My kinders LOVE it.   So much I created an alphabet/Dolch List 1 freebie version (Poison Spiders) to go with it.  This one is a printable version you can get over at Freebielicious. 



Other favorites this week . . .
Spooky Ten Frames Building Fun. 



I found these purple skull mini-ice cube trays and mini orange pumpkin ones which inspired this activity.  If you don't have the ice trays, I made a mat that will work just as well alone but if you have them, my kinders find is fun to place it right on top of the mat.  I have mats for counting on 1-10, counting on 0-20 and for making 10.  I use mini erasers for building the numbers, but if you don't have them you can use the little manipulative included to print and cut out.  I love this kind of hands on practice for my kinesthetic learners, and by including the 'making 10' component, it appeals to even my most advanced kinders.



Ten Frame Write the Room Fun.   . . What's not to love? They get to play hide and seek with playing cards.  They get to move around.  They get to use CLIPBOARDS (every kinder loves a clipboard...it makes them feel so important). 



This one will last me all the way 'til Halloween.  It's differentiated and covers a bunch of skills.  Counting, counting on, comparing numbers and making 10.  When they complete one activity, I can give them another answer sheet to complete a different skill. 



Ok, so you need to run out and get yourself some plastic spiders and get yourself a game of Spider Bite going.  I'm telling you, your kinders (or any grade really-just expand the numbers or skill) will love you for it.





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