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Thursday, December 27, 2012

New Year's Resolution - Technology

I am linking up with Kathleen at Growing Kinders to share our New Year's resolutions.  Today we are talking about technology.  I LOVE technology! The downside is how much time it takes to find the best technology, figure out how to use it effectively, and teaching the kids how to use it.

The thing that I am using right now that I LOVE: - This website allows me to input my kiddos and then assign them books to read at their level on the computer.  They can have the book read to them, then they can read it themselves and then there are comprehension questions that they answer about what they have read.  I can then get a report about which questions they answered correctly and which they got wrong.  You can also have them read the book into a microphone and it will take a running record of them reading!  You do have to purchase a subscription to the website but I LOVE it!

My Resolution:
   Incorporate the iPads we have into math centers and use the iPads more deliberately.  I have 3 iPads in my room and access to 10 more.  So there really is no excuse for me not to be using them more.  I do use the 3 that are in my room for literacy centers everyday.  My kiddos also use them for free choice centers in the afternoon. They love to explore all of the apps!  I just need to put the time in to find the best math apps we have loaded and then put them into my math center rotations.  I guess I know what I will be doing when I get back to school.

I'm off to add that to my To Do list!  Be sure to go to Growing Kinders and check out all the great ideas and enter Kathleen's giveaways!  I know I did!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Snow Day Snowflakes

So it is a snow day here in Wisconsin, no school for me today!  Although my own kids school didn't get as much snow so they have school today.  It is weird being home alone today.  It of course makes me think about all of those who won't have their kids home at all.  Like so many others I have found it hard to break the silence of the weekend and get back to blogging about the day to day stuff of the classroom.  My thoughts and prayers continue to be with all of those effected.

So I thought I would get back into the grove by telling you about a project that we worked on this week for Sandy Hook.

I was reading Charity's Facebook post at The Organized Classroom about the PTA in Sandy Hook asking for snowflakes to decorate the new building the students of Sandy Hook will be moving to after the holidays.  I thought this was a great idea and something my kiddos could do (and not even know why, as many of them have no idea what went on).  So yesterday we embarked on learning how to make snowflakes!  A project that would usually make me stressed out with all of the little paper scraps and glitter was SO much FUN!  The kids loved cutting and were AMAZED when they opened up their papers at the designs they had created!  I pre cut 9"x9" squares of paper and then folded them into smallish triangles. So all they had to do was cut.  Those that had trouble cutting through the thickness of the paper just unfolded it a little and then cut.  I even had two sweeties who went around and helped clean up all of the scraps without being asked to!!!  Then we broke out the runny glue and glitter.  They loved that I let them put on the glue and glitter! It was such a fun time, and I was able to relax and really appreciate the joy  and excitement that this brought them and me! I am excited to put them in the mail when we get back to school tomorrow.

They are accepting snowflakes until January 12, 2013.  They can be sent  to: Connecticut PTSA, 60 Connolly Parkway, Building 12, Suite 103, Hamden, CT 06514. Click here to find the Connecticut PTSA website with more information.

Friday, December 14, 2012

What to Say????

I can't even imagine going through what has happened in Connecticut. My heart goes out to all of the families, loved ones and everyone touched by this  awful event. Praying is the only thing I can think to do, besides hug my own kiddos tonight and students on Monday. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reindeer and No Voice

Soooo......has anyone every tried teaching a room full of (talkative) I mean curious kinders without a voice?  Yes you guessed it that is what I did today!  It was interesting to say the least.  Thank goodness for classroom amplification sound systems!!! I don't know how I would have made it through the day without it.

I started the day with the good old guilt know....."I need you to be on your very best behavior today and help  your teacher out because it is hard for me to talk.  I know you will all be great listeners and not make me say things over will do them the first time I ask so I don't have to use my voice as much".  So that worked for ohhh about 10 minutes.  But overall it was quieter in my classroom than usual for most of the day....I may have to try whispering more often!

I hope my voice is better tomorrow.  You know it is bad when your secretary asks if she can get you a sub for tomorrow!  But it has to be better by Friday because we have a field trip!  Oh and did I mention it is an outdoor field trip and I live in WISCONSIN!

Oh well!  Since I wasn't able to talk much we did lots of projects today.  I did attempt to read them the story Who'll Pull Santa's Sleigh Tonight? (because the reindeer are sick just like me). I think the kids heard me whisper read it to them.  The hot chocolate made the reindeer better so we will see if I get hot chocolate tomorrow! Then we made this adorable Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer hat.  The kids loved it and they looked so cute!  Sorry no pics of my kids wearing them of course, just a picture of the hat itself. And that may or may not be my hubby modeling the hat for you...and I may or may not have told him I was taking it to put on the blog. I can't take credit for the idea own kinder daughter came home wearing it last naturally I had to borrow the idea to use with my kiddos!

I made a template of the antlers in case you wanted to make it.Just click here to get it. You can print it on card stock and have the kids or a parent helper trace them or you can copy it right onto brown construction paper.  The piece of construction paper that the nose is attached to was about 3 inches.  On the ones I made with the kids we added glitter to the noses (so they would glow of course and what project isn't better with glitter!) Hope you enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

December Currently and a Freebie

This is my first time doing the Currently but I just love reading everyone's so I thought I would give it a try!

I spent my summer reading both the Daily 5 and CAFE books, so I am TRYING to implement them in my classroom this year.  I am doing OK.  I am not really doing all 5 activities and I am still doing some literacy centers.  But my kiddos are doing the Read to Self, Read to Someone, and Listen to Reading.  I was having trouble figuring out a quick and easy way for them to make their choices. So what I came up with is in the picture below.  When my kiddos come in, in the morning they grab their clothespin from the table and put it on the chart by their choice for the day.  If they are reading to someone, the person who is clipped on the same number is their partner.  My original plan was to have 2 or three of these charts and they would clip for each session that we would do, but are only doing one session so.....I only have one chart.  Click on the picture if you would like to download the chart for yourself for free!  I would love to hear from you if you download it!

Be sure to head over to Farley's blog and catch everyone's December Currently!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gingerbread Sight Word Book Freebie

Ooooh! I am so excited to link up with the wonderful bloggers at Freebielicious for Fabulicious Freebies on the First!!!  My freebie this month is for a sight word book that I made for my class. It is for my favorite unit of the year (or at least this time of the year) GINGERBREAD!  I love love love reading and comparing all of the different gingerbread stories, in fact I have so many we do the unit for 2 weeks! (I think I could probably do it for 3 or 4 weeks) 

Anywho... my kiddos loved working on The Gingerbread Man Ran sight word book this week and everyone (ok almost everyone) can read the word "and" now!  Just click on the picture below and it will take you to the download for this freebie!  I hope you like it!  I would love any feedback you have! Now I am off to check out all of the other freebies in this linky party!! Enjoy!

        Click this button to take you to more Freebies!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Liebster Award Wow

What a great surprise when I checked in with my blog and found that two different bloggers had nominated me for the Liebster Award!  I am still trying to get the hang of this blogging thing and hope that the things I am posting some people find useful.  I get so excited when I get a new follower....I know my hubby thinks I am crazy!!  So here goes!

First I was nominated by Nicki at Mrs. Thigpen's Kindergarten....I love her blog! Then I was nominated by Khrys from Keepin' It Kool in Kinderland.  I am so glad she found me I love her blog! The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers with less than 200 followers.  It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs. Thanks for the opportunity Nicki and Khrys.  I will answer both sets of questions below! And then below that are the questions for the people I nominated to answer.

The rules:
  • You must post 11 random things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions the nominator set for you.
  • Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
  • Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
  • No tag back (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can  learn more about you)!

11 Random Things About Me:

1. I LOVE teaching kindergarten! I have also taught 1st and 2nd grade.
2. I am also a wife and a mom to 2 great kids who are 9 and 5!
3. I love to read but I don't really get to do it much during the school year.  In the summer I go through LOTS of books!
4. We are trying to sell our house so we can move to the town and school district where my kids go to school.
5. I love to watch reality tv!  It is my guilty makes my hubby crazy!
6. I am an only child but have a wonderful cousin and a best friend that I consider my sisters.
7. I used to scrapbook and would like to again some day when I have time.
8. We go to Florida at least once a year to visit my cousin.  I love being able to go to the beach and Disney World.
9. I said I would never drive a mini van but I do now (and I love it)!
10. I love trying new things in my classroom especially technology.
11. I love to organize things!

11 Questions Asked by Nicki at Mrs. Thigpen's Kindergarten
1. How long have you been teaching?
This is my 14th year teaching.  I have been teaching kindergarten for the last 11 years (but in 3 different places).
2. What is you favorite holiday?
Christmas....who doesn't love decorating, baking, present wrapping, and family!  
3. Do you have any siblings?
No I am an only child.  
4. If you weren't teaching, what would you do instead?
I would either open my own bakery or do professional organizing or maybe be an interior designer.
5. Do you have a favorite sport to watch or play?
I love watching my kids play soccer. Does that make me a soccer mom??
6. What do you do in your spare time?
Is there such a thing as spare time????  I sneak in as much blog stalking..I mean reading as I can!
7. What is the farthest place you have traveled?
I went to France with my 8th grade french class....I know I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have at the time.
8. What is your favorite movie?
Hmmm...that is a tough one.  Ok another guilty pleasure...right now the Twilight series movies.
9.  How long have you been blogging?
Since August of this year. 
10.What made you begin blogging?
I just love reading everyone's blogs and getting great ideas and everyone seemed like they made friends and I wanted to join in on the fun!
11. Favorite food?
Anything sweet!

11 Questions asked by Khrys at Keepin' It Kool In Kinderland
1.  What is your favorite thing about teaching?
Getting to work with my kinder kiddos and seeing them get excited about everything and my the other fabulous teachers I work with!
2. If you won $2 million, what would be your first purchase?
A new house!
3. What was your favorite movie/tv show as a kid?
The Smurfs
4. If you were a crayon, what color would you be and why?
Purple, I love Harold and the Purple Crayon.
5. What is the last book you read? Did you like it?
The CAFE book. Yes I loved it!
6.  Do you have a special talent (other than teaching of course!)?
Organizing - I love it!
7.What did you want to grow up to be when you were little?
A teacher, I used to bring home my workbooks and then line up my dolls and stuffed animals and teach them.  I even had smelly markers!
8. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
Blue Moon
9. What is your guilty pleasure?
Reality TV.
10. If you were stranded on a desert island, what one thing would you take and why?
My blog stalk of course!
11. What is the kindest thing anyone has ever done for you or that you have done for someone else?
It is hard to pick just one....but I think everyone who has made me feel welcomed in all of the new places I have been in my school and teaching career.

Questions I am asking my nominees:

1. What is your favorite theme or subject to teach?
2. How long have you been teaching?
3. What is your favorite read aloud book?
4. How long have you been blogging?
5. Do you have any hobbies?
6. What is your favorite place to visit?
7. What is your favorite thing about teaching?
8. Would you still teach if you won the lottery?
9. What is your favorite food?
10. Do you like to read for fun?  What is your favorite book?
11. How many blogs do you currently follow?

Blogs I am nominating:

Well I think this is officially my longest post yet but I found some really great new blogs to follow! I am looking forward to learning more about everyone. Don't forget to leave me a comment with a link back to your post so I can learn more about you and find even more new bloggers to follow!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I LoveTeaching Writing

OK I never thought I would ever utter or write those words! Teaching writing has never been something that I have ever loved - disliked OK loathed probably would be a better way to describe my feelings about teaching writing to kindergartners until now. So what has changed??? I discovered the blogging world and some wonderful kindergarten teachers! I am in love love love with the writing units from Deedee Wills and Deanna Jump!  Did I mention I love them!  My kinders are doing sooooooo well with their writing.  It has taken some time to get up and running and some tweaking in my schedule but I think we are finally on the right track. They are sooooo excited to finish our first writing unit and have our first publishing party tomorrow.  What is even better is that they are super excited to start our next unit! Here are some examples of what they have been doing during this first unit.
 This one says "I see a house on fire.  My cousin was in there."  Can I tell you this freaked me out a little!! But when I asked about it he laughed and said "I just made it up!" But don't you love the fire and smoke coming out of the windows and the big black hair!
 This one says "I see the sun go up." Don't you love the arrow pointing up from the sun and the arrow going down from the moon!
This one says "I like to play on the swings down and up." We were talking about making detailed settings, I love the big flower!
 This one was made on the day I finally had to say no more drawing rainbows and writing I see a rainbow.  So this little guy figured out a way around it!  He wrote "I have a rainbow tent."!
This one started by saying "I saw a castle." When I asked her if she could tell me more she wrote "A dragon lives there." I just love the dragon sticking out of the side of the castle!

Hope you enjoyed a peek into our writing unit!  I will try and get some pictures of our publishing party tomorrow.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Common Core Math Freebie!

I know it has been awhile since I blogged anything, I feel like I have been running a race to keep up lately!! But a rainy Saturday here is a great excuse to get caught up on some blogging!

So I will admit I am feeling a little (OK a lot) overwhelmed with the Common Core transition but I am lucky to have a great team that works together to make things easier!  Our district is starting with math, so we are working on developing math activities and curriculum that is aligned to the Common Core.   I am loving all of the new activities we are finding and trying out....but not having a text book makes me a little nervous. Not that I have ever found a text book that I thought was perfect.  What we really need now are good assessments to go along with our activities so I can make sure all my kiddos are "getting it".  I love good data!

We are focusing on numbers 0-10 right now so I thought I would share one of the activities I made for my math centers this week. The students will get 10 two color counters (the ones that are red on one side and yellow on the other).  They will place all 10 in a cup and then shake and spill them onto their table.  They will then fill in the 10 frame with the number of counters that were red and yellow.  They will record their numbers in the boxes underneath.  If you would like a copy of the sheet I am going to use click on the picture below to grab it for free!  Hope you like it!  If you have any great assessments that you use or if you like the freebie I'd love for you to comment!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Classroom Management

I really debated this year between doing my current behavior system or switching to one of the cute clip charts that are all over.  In the end I decided to stick with what I had but I can't wait to catch up on all of my blog reading with this linky party and see if I find any other cool ideas (of course I will)!

I use a variation of the red, yellow, green system but I also have a "sparkly" for those kids who go above and beyond, or are the only ones who are following directions. Below is my whole tree. Since our theme this year is owls I am using a tree in past years I have used different colored lily pads and the kids names were on frogs.

 Here is a close up of the green branch of the tree.  Everyones name starts here each day.
 This is the "sparkly" branch.  I love using this branch!  These kiddos are on the "sparkly" branch because they were the only ones who were sitting quietly when I asked them to.  All I have to do is start moving names to the "sparkly"branch and it suddenly becomes very quiet! I also use it to reinforce behaviors I want them to become in the habit of exhibiting. So at the beginning of the year you might get on the "sparkly" branch for picking up paper from the floor, or standing in line quietly.
 Here is my yellow branch.  When your name is here you miss some of your free choice play so we can talk about how to make better choices.
 Here is my red branch. If your name is here you miss all of your free choice play and we discuss making better choices.  Parents also get a note home in the communication folder about what happened during the day.
This is just a picture of the agreements we came up with at the beginning of the year that hang next to our tree.

This system really does seem to work for me, when I am good about using the "sparkly" branch to reinforce good behavior! Hope you found this helpful!

Check out all of the other great ideas at What the Teacher Wants by clicking on the picture below.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Daily 5 and a CAFE Freebie

Soooo....I am dabbling into the world of Daily 5 this year in my classroom.  After looking over the Common Core Standards for kindergarten I knew that my kids needed to spend more time with books in their hands than they did last year. Daily 5 seemed to make sense to accomplish this. I am starting with 3 of the Daily 5 componets, read to self, read with someone, and listen to reading because I am still going to do literacy centers. 

As I was reading everyone's blogs this summer I also discovered the CAFE book by the sisters so I read that one as well! It all just seems to make so much sense! So I am also going to try and incorporate the CAFE strategies during my Daily 3 time in addition to doing my regular guided reading group. Am I crazy??? The jury is still out I think, only time will tell but I will keep you updated on our progress!

So far we are up to 8 minutes of read to self time! Way to go kinders!!

Click on the picture to get my owl themed set of CAFE signs I made for my room!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Blog Design and Classroom Pictures

I am so excited about my new super cute blog design! It is done by the wonderful and talented ladies at Honey Bunch Blog Design. They are fabulous to work with! I would highly recommend you check them out!

I am also excited to finally post some pics of my new classroom (OK so it was new last year) but it is much cuter this year. I have gotten so many wonderful ideas from my blog stalking hopping and I love looking at classroom set ups so here is mine.

This is my calendar board. It is right next to my SMART board, which we use all the time!
 This is the view as you walk in the door. We got those flower tables last year and I LOVE them!
 If you look to the right as you walk in this is the view.  That is my word wall in the distance. The reading corner, dramatic play area and computer area are lined up along this side of the room.
 This is our behavior tree.  Everyone starts the day with their owl on the green leaf branch.  During the day your owl can move to the yellow or red leaf branch if you are having difficulty remembering the rules or your owl can move to the "Sparkly" (glitter) leaf branch if you did something extra special.
 My CAFE board that I can't wait to use for the first time this year!
  Each week a new student is featured on this board. This week it is me.
 This is the view of my reading corner and next to that is our dramatic play area and then the computer area.
  This is the writing center.  It is finally organized with cute baskets and labels!!
 These are my book bins for our Daily 3 reading time.  I covered old cardboard magazine files with that cool new duct tape in designs and colors.  I LOVE them!
 This is the construction area.  The board in the back is my Focus wall.  I got the idea from the fabulous Shannon at Kinder Hoppenings. Click here to see her super cute version!
 This is where we do all of our class meetings and circle time.  Behind that is my teacher desk (that I can never seem to keep clean!).
 This is the table where I do small group reading and math instruction and all of my wonderful storage!!

Hope you enjoyed the pics of where I spend my days and nights.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Classroom Baskets

I started at a new school last year in a new classroom, so there were lots of things that I wanted to do that just didn't get done!  One of those things was labeling the baskets where we keep supplies in the writing center.  I was totally inspired by the amazing things that I saw while I was blog hopping!!  I loved quite a few sets that I saw especially the ones at Ladybug's Teacher Files.  My only problem is that kindergarteners are very literal and if the label has scissors, markers, and crayons on it they will put all of those things in the same basket regardless of what they label says. (Maybe that is because at the beginning of the year many of them can't read, but that is beside the point!)  So I used the labels that I saw as inspiration and created my own.  Since I don't have a TpT or Teacher's Notebook store yet you can click on the picture below to see them and download them for free.  I hope you enjoy them!  If you do please consider becoming one of my first followers!