Friday, December 30, 2011

It's Friday...

It's Friday and this is usually the day I LIVE for but not so much today...why? Well silly willy it's the last Friday of vacation! ;) We don't head back until Tuesday (which will knock me off and we will likely miss specials etc) but I'm sad to think that my days of sleeping in and staying up late are almost over!! Oh and grad school starts back next week too...hello stress level- can't say that I've missed ya much ;)

So in my time off... I've finished up my shape unit and uploaded it to both TPT and Teacher's Notebook. Oh I guess that I should say that I've FINALLY opened a Teacher's Notebook store. I've finished our first unit that we will teach next week. I'm thinking that I might post it too... not sure though. It's HEAVILY tied to Benchmark Phonics Start up program. Does your school use Benchmark Phonics?

It comes in this big kit, but we don't have all the pieces or we don't use all the pieces. For example, I don't use this ABC chart. We use the UALR literacy support Alphabet chart that is part of the Arkansas ELLA project. There are as many charts out there as there are teachers ;) and really any chart will do. But what I like about our chart is that a photo copy of it can be found in Shaping Literate Minds by Dr. Dorn (literacy guru around these here parts ;) and professor at UALR) Our district gets them through ARCH FORD co op (http://www.archford.org/login.asp). You have to have your schools LEA number and the phone number used to get in but they have word wall cards, large color posters and student posters too. I use the word wall cards as flash cards. And every student book box has a copy in it. I also photocopied the one in the Shaping Literate Minds book and put it on construction paper with a 100 chart on the back. Oh and I've reduced the size and have one in EVERY literacy and MATH center! Why? because most of my centers have you writing something and the kids learn very early that Mrs. Day is going to send you to the ABC chart rather than answer your question straight out. I wish I had a picture here to show you what the color ones look like... you might see it in the back ground of some of my classroom shots, but here is the one out of the book.

So back to Benchmark Phonics... our letter next week is short Uu, and I will be teaching New Years traditions all week, as well as Chinese New Years (I know it's not until Jan. 23). So everything in the unit is party themed. ;) I've also been thinking (stressing) about our upcoming DIBLES and DRA testing. I HATE IT! The DIBLES isn't so bad, well yeh it is...my schedule just isn't big enough for all this assessment and teaching. I know, I know... you have to assess to know where the kids are. And I do that every day... but this is assessment for assessment sake. And I just don't have time for that! Anyway... I'm working on some "race" games for my kids to play in centers and I wanted to know what kind of games/ activities do you use to practice fluency?

If you got this far...YEA! I hope that you comment with an answer to:
1. Do you use Benchmark Phonics in your room/ school?
2. What activities/games do you use in centers to practice fluency (letter naming, nonsense words etc)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Teachers Notebook

I finally got my act together and put up a teachers notebook shop. I am working to get all my files listed there too. You can check it out here   I'm working on several things that I hope to have posted by the time my sale starts at TPT. I've got a cute Penguin Unit that I am polishing up, along with what I am teaching about New Years traditions. I usually do a "Hats and Mittens" unit in January too. I haven't had a chance to map out with my teaching partner what we will be doing yet, but as soon as I know I'll have items posted to match. OH and I won't forget the freebies either! I know how frustrating it gets to have to buy everything. 

After a rainy Monday it's clear and cold here!! I'll be curled up by the computer most of the day thinking and getting ready for school to start back next week.      

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas! ...

I hope that everyone has enjoyed a WONDERFUL day with family or friends or both. I have been fighting a cold and it's officially made me sick. I do not do sick well. So yea me... I got in an extra nap today. Thank you hubby for making that happen. While I napped, I  dreaming of the themes I want to teach in January. I am really looking forward to Penguins... and I jotted down some ideas that I need to create. I also decided that I need to have a TPT sale.

So there are some wonderful things coming, once I get my feet back under me ;) Oh and the weather man says that we might get snow tomorrow night.... saying a BIG prayer that we do get snow. I want some SO very badly!!

Merry Christmas to all...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope that each of you have a wonderful day with your family and friends. And if you are dreaming of a white Christmas, like I am, go to google and type in "let it snow". And watch the snow build up on your computer!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Short a and u sort freebie

Since google docs and I are not playing nicely, I added the short a and u sort to TPT.
You can get your copy by clicking here

Hope you like it!

Shapes activity pack is listed!

Morning all!! I just finished listing my shapes activity and centers pack at TPT. I really hope you like it!



I've been awarded the Liebster award

Morning all!
I woke to find that I have been awarded the Liebster award.

To accept this award I would like to thank Teaching Fun in the Sun andLittle Lilly Polka Dot Bedtime Blog for giving me this award. The award is given to up and coming blogs with fewer than 200 followers. Now to pass on the award...please check out these great blogs! It was hard to narrow my choices to 5 but here they are:
Busy in Kindergarten
Joy Of Kindergarten
Loving & Learning in Pre K
Herding Kats in Kindergarten
Carried Away Kindergarten

Have a GREAT day!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A gift for you...

I love breaks from school. These are the times that I get re-energized and that I get to create. The last few weeks I've feel that desire to create growing (and growing and growing). I started a list... and kept adding to it almost daily. Well today I FINALLY crossed off several items. First... my shapes activity unit is done!! I'm so excited, and hope to have it over to TPT tomorrow. I can't wait for the kids to see this one. It has several of their favorite activities in it.

I've also been working on my stations for Daily 5. I found at Target, while I was Christmas shopping, the cute paper baskets that I passed up at back to school!! I had no idea that they had them and was about to buy some for WAY more than the Target dollar spot. So in honor of the great gift of the baskets, I am sharing this with you.
For some reason google docs changed the font, and I honestly don't know how to fix that. This will go into our word work station. The idea is to match the picture to the word. Then I go a step farther by having lined paper in the center and the kids pick 5 words to write 3 times.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I've been working on....

Some how I've managed to get the song "I've been working on the railroad" STUCK in my little ol' head. So what's a girl to do but get to work. I'm really excited about this next little project and even MORE excited that KPM Doodles had the PERFECT clip art to go with it!!
When we return to school in January, we will studying shapes, again. I know silly common core isn't lining up with reality (again). So I've been coming up with all new activities and stations for my kids to work with. I'm really worried that if I pull out the old stuff that they will be board to tears, and our Math specialist challenged us to go deeper and really grab hold of K.G.1 describe objects in the environment using the names of shapes. There's more to the standard but she really challenged us to think about showing the children how the world is made up of shapes and pushing them into thinking about shapes as they would find them at the store or in a restaurant (think pizza slices as triangles). So I've been working on some ideas to go along with that...

I'll let you know when it's all done!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Can you help me?

Hey teachers I need your help. I am working on something that I might list at TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers). I've used some of these items in my room but I didn't know if other teacher might like them. The deal is that I created them kind of open ended and defiantly differentiated. My kids are still struggling with the tricky teens so right before the break I made this worksheet. The point of the sheet id for the child to write the number several times ( I tell my kiddo's how many times to write it- usually 5). Then they cut and paste the small pictures on to the large page. For this page, I had them gluing paint brushes on the paint bottle. I've also had them glue them beside the paint bottle- another quick look at those positional words. Since some of my kids have no problem discarding extra pieces, I made this sheet with 20 paint brushes at the bottom. The second sheet only has 11. This is the one that I use with the kids who still struggle to stop when they reach their number.  This is that group of kids that can count orally and can count a set number (if you are looking for how many) but they struggle to stop counting when they reach the desired number.

So here is where I need your help... can you download the pages below and critique them? I know there are not any directions on the actual pages, and that might be something that a teacher would want to have. If this becomes something that I sell on TPT there would be a "how to use these pages" at the beginning of the download.

Tricky Teens page

Saturday, December 17, 2011

OMG.... light blub moment here!!

So I've been playing on pinterest and looking at blogs and I came across a little gem that has ROCKED my world tonight and I just HAD to share. So I came across this blog post and it was AMAZING! I don't know about you but teaching children to write has never "clicked" for me. That is until tonight. Megan's blog flipped a switch in my thinking about interactive writing.
Megan said that for her interactive writing is like teaching children to read... you would never write a standard that says "Today the learner will learn to read" but it might say "Today the learn will learn how to blend sounds". So STOP and think about writing... yea I know it's break but stop and think.... I did.

And the LIGHT went off!! So if you went over to Megan's blog you saw how her interactive writing happened. Well I figured out pretty quickly that each child needed a white board and marker to copy what we were doing. And I new that we needed to spell things correctly... but why was my interactive writing a DISASTER!! Well... I was writing my standards as "today the learner will participate in interactive writing"... well I never put that on paper but it was what my mind was saying. Now my interactive writing sessions will be TOTALLY different as I target skills needed to write, rather than forcing children to take a pen and do something they were not ready for...

As soon as we are back in school, I plan to start over with interactive writing and have the children help with writing the beginning sounds or some of the sight words. I am so jazzed and I hope that you can share in this light blub moment! Oh and head over to Megan's blog... it's AWESOME! (click the picture below to see it)

Common Core Journaling Prompts

I have been working on a new set of journaling prompts. I still have a few students who struggle with counting. I created these to help them. My plan was to create a set of prompts that I could use in a small group while the whole class was working on their journals. What I found was that the children who understood counting also enjoyed working with these. I very quickly was able to give the direction to count and write the number to the whole class but each child had their own number to work on! It's differentiation at it's best... I'll be making more and more of these as the year rolls on, but here is the first set! And they are aligned to the common core standards.
Click on the picture above to see the whole package in my TPT store. And I'm posting a  free page so that everyone can try it. This is my first document to put up at google docs, so please please let me know if there are any problems with the page!! The graphics in the free page are from the WONDERFUL KPM Doodles!! LOVE them...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ho Ho Ho... Christmas Parties and a visit from Santa

What a wonderful end to the week we have had. Yesterday was our classroom Christmas Parties. Yes yes the world calls them Holiday Parties but they will always be Christmas parties to me. We start off by watching the Grinch who stole Christmas. Then we make sugar cone Christmas Trees. I stuck sugar cones to a plate with a little green frosting while the kids were watching the Grinch. Then we gathered around tables and iced our tree with a good coat of icing. We used Snoopy fruit snacks as our ornaments.
I have to say that the kids LOVED this!! We followed it up by eating pizza and drinking blueberry flavored water from Crayola! These were AWESOME!! I hadn't ever tried them but our book keeper at school said that she loved to use them with her little one. And they were super cheep. A 6 pack of child sized bottles was only $1.50 at Wal-Mart.
Then today was our behavior field trip. The kids were given the challenge to be on their best behavior in November and December and those who did got to go skating this morning. It was HYSTERICAL! I felt like I was watching new born baby animals learning to stand for the first time. Again the kids LOVED today! After lunch back at school we watched the Polar Express... and just as the toy bag was falling into place on Santa's sleigh, guess who knocked on our door??? SANTA!!




Each child told Santa what they wanted for Christmas and he gave them a candy cane. Santa then stopped by each class and said Merry christmas!! IT WAS AWESOME!!! Finally I feel like I am in the Christmas spirit!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Word Work station

Happy Saturday Ya'll!! Only one week of school left... and it's a biggie for me. I'm working on my masters and I have to wrap up an action research project enough to write a final paper, however it's a project that we are still working on at my school. Yikes! And this week is behavior reward party, class Christmas parties and the Polar Express!!

This year my kinders are very young and many of the things I wanted to do this fall just haven't worked for them. It took a break down moment this week to finally get some help from the instructional coaches. I think they didn't believe that I really need help since they both have been in my room a number of times. Here is what they learned (I already knew it)... my kinders have NO independence what so ever! I've been begging for them to come and see what I was working with... and understand why I keep saying "um we can't do that". Now don't hear that as we can't do lots of things, we can... and each day we are adding new skills! It's that some of our "district" goals just are unrealistic with this group of kinders. For example, the district wants us to know 100 sight words by the end of kindergarten. We have been teaching them in our district 2 words a week this fall and jumping to 4 or 5 in the spring. This isn't going to happen with these little ones. So now we are backing up the truck. Not exactly sure what that is going to look at but some of the things I tried this week ROCKED!!

First I took the sight words that we have been working on the longest and made them into a word work station. Here is what I did... I used the clip art from the WONDERFUL kpmdoodles to print large black and white images on colored paper.





Then I printed the sight words on white paper and cut the squares and glued them to the cut outs. And of course I laminated them ;) Then they look like this...

The kids get them in a word work station and practice writing each word 5 times. I am thinking about having the kids write on white boards some days and on paper other days. I am still working out our station rotation. Right now we are doing one station then a mini lesson, then a station, then a mini lesson. I am really hoping to get to a place where we can have 2 stations and then a mini lesson. I want to have 5 rotations a day were every child reads to self or someone, works with words, visits the writing station, works on critical thinking or fine motor skills and the computer. Not to mention I pull them for work too. Like I said we are getting there!! I hope to post some of the sight word files by the end of the weekend so everyone can use them!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

It snowed! yep that's right.... it snowed

Woke up this morning to snow. It was BEAUTIFUL fluffy white snow that was great for making snowballs. My drive to work was horrible! But the main roads were clear, just the bridges and over passes were slick. I'll let the pictures show you...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Finally a few Winter theme pictures

I didn't get as many pictrures as I wanted of this theme, but the kids LOVED the unit!! We focused on Winter last week, with two guiding questions: What is Winter? and Where do animals go in winter? This is the anchor chart that we made to define winter...
The children came up with the words around the tree. They loved balling up paper to make the snow.

This chart we made to record our thinking about the question "Where do animals go in winter?"
We have had a lot of rain in the last 24 hours, so much so that our playground is totally flooded. Here is a picture of our playground and all the water. We refer to it as lake Harris El. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Poetry Folders and ABC Chants

I am in need of some new resources for our poetry folders. We have 2 SUPER cute ABC chants that we use; one is a teddy bear one and the other is about school. Here are the words to the school ABC chant:




A B C D E
School is where I want to be.
F G H I J
Learning to read and write each day.
K L M N O
Boys and girls I want to know.
P Q R S T
Sharing books with you and me.
U V W X Y
Now it's time to say goodbye.
Z Z Z Z Z
School is where I want to be.
 My kids LOVE this chant! So I thought I would do a little google search and find TONS more for them to start learning...WRONG! I can't find any more... so either I am calling them something other than what they are, or I need the help of the teaching community! If you have one of these chants, could you share it on your blog? or maybe leave a comment on where you found it! I've already spent way to much time not being successful... help!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

ugh... I forgot to take pictures!!

man, I don't get how I can forget to take pictures!! But I did. Our winter tree is AWESOME!!! The kids are loving thinking about winter and snow! On Thursday we are going to talk about what happens to the animals in winter. I have a hands on science experiment that we are going to do. I take a zip lock and fill it with crisco. We then place another zip lock inside the first to make a "mitten". The we put a hand in the mitten and put the mitten in ice water. The kids see how animals put on fat to keep them warm during the cold winter months. I can't wait!! It's such a fun afternoon.

Today was day 2 of Daily 5 learning read to self. WOW... that is all I can think to say... WOW. I had hoped to have us ready to go with all 5 stations before Christmas but I'm rethinking that goal. Yesterday we were only able to "read" for about 45 seconds. It was HORRIBLE! Truly I felt like running from my room screaming... so try 1 was a bust, but it gave us LOTS to talk about. We tried 2 more practice sessions yesterday and only got up to a minute. We also made our I Chart. Today we reviewed the I chart, I modeled how to retell a story we already knew, three little pigs. Then I had several children model : how read to self should look, how to retell, the different ways to "sit" and what the voice should be. We have a school wide voice level. I decided that read to self would need to be a 0 voice because so many of the children struggle with a whisper voice.

And then we practiced! Try 1- EPIC FAILURE!! Just under a minute, with LOTS of loud voices. So back to the carpet we went... more models- this time including more children modeling voice... and by practice 3 we had gotten up to a minute and half!! I feel like we have conquered a MAJOR beast! LOL... My biggest problem is having enough just right books. But I am working on that, thanks to reading A -Z and several sight word readers I am working to finish. We will work on these in a mini lesson and add them to their book boxes. I feel like it is a chicken and egg type problem. Since Kinders are just learning to read they don't have many choices in books or I don't have enough copies of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Brown Bear for the children to each have one in their book box, they don't have much ability to read for 3 minutes on day 1. And then the flip side... the kinders need to READ READ READ!!

There it is a re cap of my epic failure and the hope I have in building the materials that the children will need to be able to sustain reading to self ;)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Walking in a Winter Wonderland!! Yep that's us...

This week we are learning about winter. It turned off COLD here over the weekend and it's a bit to early to talk about Christmas around the world, so I am SUPER excited that my teammate came up with this idea (she saved the day!!). And with all the Black Friday online, and Cyber Monday sales out there... I snatched up some of the cutest ideas for us to use!! I will try to update through out the week with what we are doing, I hope the kids get just as excited as I am about this unit!!

So far I printed winter pattern block mats from www.prekinders.com Here is a picture:
I didn't print them in color. There is a black and white version and I used that... and light blue paper. ;)

I also found some other winter things that I am going to add to my work stations. Like I said we are starting Daily 5, so stations will be within one of the 5 choices: read to self, read to someone, listen to reading, writing and word work.

I also bought several units over at teacherspayteachers.com from Deanna Jump, Fran and Kim Adsit. I can't wait to use them. And I made a few things as well.

I hope that you have had a wonderful Monday back in the classroom!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Where did she go???

I know I should take a trip to the thinking desk and think about why I have been such a bad blogger. But honestly, I know all the reasons why. The biggest reason is that I want this blog to helpful and positive and those are two words that have been SUPER far away from my vocabulary lately. See this year has been the MOST challenging yet. I am working with a WONDERFUL teammate across the hall and we are doing some of the most wonderful things but positive and helpful have been hard adjectives to be this year.

I have been using the following things for too long as reason why we can even attempt certain things, so for the last time EVER here are my excuses:

  1. Of 20 children 11 of them turned 5 in May, June and July. 
  2. They are so desperately behind!! Only a handful came to school being able to pick out their name, and of that handful only a few can WRITE their name
  3. I have 3 MAJOR behavior problems- read children who are violently attacking others, themselves and are a major disturbance to the class
  4. I am OVERWHELMED!!
Did you see that last one? Ever been that adjective? Well I still am overwhelmed but I spent some time over hte break to see how far we have come... and it's been a long way baby!!  I can't do anything about when birthday's fall or the behavior of a child when they enter school but I do know how to get them moving forward, even if it seems like we are stuck in park! So while I am feeling better about where we have come from I am still overwhelmed and could use some help... so I am appealing to the blogging world to offer your best advice!!


I am preparing to start the Daily 5 with my kids. We are going to work over the next 3-4 weeks (until Christmas break) on read to self. It might sound long, but these kids are going to need this baby steps and when they blow me away, we will add read to someone ;) Now we have been working on whisper voice and what that looks like while I pull one or two back to my table. With the young age has some a lot of squabbles that I am not used to having so we have been working on "school manners". Think how you listen, how you ask for something, how you sit next to someone with out disturbing them, etc. So we are starting to get a quite voice (#1 whisper voice- we have a school wide system). So here is what I need help with... I need advice on what materials to have in the kids book boxes, they know only a handful of letters and maybe 3-4 sight words. I don't have a TON of extra time on my hands because I am working on my masters. Suggestions... battle scars you want to share... or how about things you learned while starting Daily 5??

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

reflection...

When I was working on my undergrad I was told that "reflection reveals the soul". I don't know if I understood that until I was in my own classroom. I mentioned in yesterdays post that I had gotten my test sores and those scores have me thinking. What am I thinking about, you ask? Well truthfully, that I need to spend more time in reflection as the year goes on. I feel like I do a good job of looking at my lessons and how or what to do next. What I am wondering is what kind of reflection do you? Do you keep a space in your lesson plan book to reflect daily, or do you reflect in a journal?

feeling hot hot hot...

This afternoon I made a quick trip to my classroom and to see my IOWA scores. I promise NOT to rant about my feelings on this test but I do want to mention that I was impressed with the scores. We have always given a SAT something and this year... whammo! We changed. Kinder's have LOTS of anxieties about coming to school and I like to think that I do a good job at easing some of those fears. I was not sure that any of my babies did well AT ALL. I am happy to report that they did better than I expected! Yea us...

On to why I went to my room. I have really been frustrated that I don't have any pictures to share. So I went to fix that. I now have pictures!! YEA... and boo... my pictures aren't the best and they are packed up summer program in my room pictures. I didn't have to cover everything because the teacher in my room is WONDERFUL! and she was given access to everything!!

So here is my room:
This is the wall that you look at when you walk in. It's the only wall painted in the whole room. It's where I have my ABC's (they go above the windows). It's roughly 30 feet across.
This is the back wall of my classroom. The blue frame is for student work. I am going to take out the middle sections this year. The computers stay against the wall and my teacher table is right beside it. The left side of this wall has built in cabinets. The door you see if for HVAC... not a bathroom (I've wished it was MANY times!!) The stuff on the counter goes else where but has to be up for when they wax the floors. 

This is the wall where the door is. At the end of the year I had them move my coat rack. I really hated where it was (blue wall where the white board is, the white board was were the coat rack is now). Any sweet kinder who came in late would dance across the room to put away their belongings. Everyone else would watch... now it's by the door and not as big of a production. ;) 


This is the front of my room. It's about 30 feet across... so I teach in a box! LOL... I've never really loved square rooms, I find them difficult to arrange. Anyway, I was not at this school when they put in the smartboard or I wouldn't have let them put a computer at the front of the room like that!! What on earth were they thinking! Honestly, I probably would have switched the smart board and the white board so the computer could be in the corner... but if wishes were fishes the sea would be full. So we deal with what we have. This year I am putting the computer on a cart so that my elmo can fit beside it. I know the tech people are going to FREAK but they will have to get over it or honor my request to have drops moved. This is PRIME wall space they are blocking. I plan to have some of my calendar math on the white board and under it on the wall space below. Then I am going to use the wall to the left of the TV as my focus wall (I think that is what is going to happen.) This is where the word wall was last year, but I have some shelves going in on the little short wall that sticks out (the brown cubbies and book cases are in front of where the shelf will go). Last years room was not "right", it never felt good. I don't know about you but sometimes things can look great but they just don't feel right. This is one of those cases. So I am going to change it up! 

Friday, July 8, 2011

Winner winner what's for dinner!! (and an appology)

Hey guys!! It's Friday and we have a winner.
Kim Balek COME ON DOWN!!! If you would please email me at keday56@gmail.com before Monday night. When you email please include your mailing address and what name you want on your bag. (mine says Mrs. Day).

Wow this is has been one heck of a week!! BIG ups and downs. No excuses... but I do ask forgiveness in not sticking to my schedule. I do have lots to share... CGI math training stuff, work station stuff, TPT stuff, and freebie stuff ;)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Word work station....

This is a station that I struggle with. It's one where my kids loose motivation easily and a majority of the behavior problems start here. I wish I could wave a magic wand and fix all the problems that happen here. This is the reason that I started this week with the word work station. I am hopeful that as we share ideas that I will gain some incite into making this station successful. Here are the activities that I place into this station (not necessarly at the same time):

Word sorts (Words their way)- this stays in this center from the time we start with sorts. Our first sorts are concept sorts, sound only sorts (beginning sounds) and letter sorts.

Letter charaistic sorts- tall letters, short letters, tail letters

Sight word- matching, making sentences

Puzzles- build a word puzzles, self correcting picture to word puzzles

and that is all I've got... Help bloggers what do you do to spice up your word work station

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July! and a little blog calendar of events

Happy 4th of July. It's days like today that really make me grateful to the men and women in the military who  keep us the land of the free and the home of the brave! I am also grateful to their families who put up with their loved ones being taken out of their lives to protect all of us!

Alrighty then... this week I am going to explore my centers or work stations. I wish that I had pictures of my actual room, but I can't get in there right now. I would like your thoughts and ideas on what I am doing and share with me what you are doing. So in hopes of everyone getting in on the action, I put together this little calendar of blog topics. The cute kid graphic is from Thistle Girl Designs. 

Have a great day and stay safe!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Do you craft in your classroom?

This week I am thinking about my morning work stations. Not all of them are closely tied to literacy, but they usually have some kind of tie in- even if it's just a log to record thoughts and pictures into. My personal favorite stations is the Creative Station. This is what you might call an "art" center, but more. The children in this center choose from several different activities that go along with our overall theme.

My favorite part of this station is scribble art (see info below about K Crew). The children use handwriting motions to make pictures. This increases their control and handwriting and the best part is that they think they are playing!! This picture is an example. I teach how to read the directions. We don't label each step and end up with the finished picture. These are laminated front and back with a small smiley face in the upper left corner of the finished side.

They can make a scribble art entry into their "dictionary", there is usually some sort of step by step art project with cutting and gluing, there are stencils, markers, rubbing plates (homemade I might add) and stamps. Sometime during the second nine weeks they start asking if they can add their art to their writing journals. I LOVE this idea and let them go for it, with a few sessions of modeling what is expected of course.


This station, along with a few others, are stocked with ideas from the ladies over at K Crew!
The have wonderful books on just about everything! I have used their Buzz Book for years and then started adding more and more! They have the coolest deal going on this summer. It's $5 fridays where one of their books is on sale for just $5!! You have to be on their email or facebook to get the code but it is SO worth it!!

I also wanted to pass this bit of information on... I was at Michaels yesterday getting the bag that I am painting with the winners name when I came across this sign atop and empty display... I KNEW the blogging teachers out there needed this info! The sign says in fine print that the 15% off all purchases runs 7/1-9/9/2011. We have two Michaels here and I had a buddy check out the one closer to her... guess what no sign. Good thing I had texted it to her. The manager at that store said that they had not planned to put that up until the mailer with that info in it came out (sometime later this summer) and he was surprised that she expected the discount.

I'd love to hear about your creation (art) station and what kind of things you have there.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

WE DID IT!! (aka the give away has arrived!)

Ok really all you guys did it!! I stepped away to get things ready for my give away and BAM... we hit 31!! YAHOO... now the fun part

Since this is my first blog give away I don't want to mess things up. So I am going to try to do this super easy... there are 3 ways to enter...

1. follow my blog and post in the comments that you are a follower
2. post about this give away on your blog and post in the comments that you blogged about the give away
here is a blinkie if you want to use it in your post
3. go over to my TPT store and follow me there, then post here telling me that you follow me there too

Three easy ways to win:
* a customized apple teacher bag- canvas tote bag with your name on it
* gift cards to two of my MOST favorite places (Target and Sonic- route 44 drinks baby) in the amount of $10 each

Good Luck... and pass the word! Fingers crossed that this will not be a dud 

Friday, July 1, 2011

MWS: Beginning number concepts

math game
math game
Earlier I shared some of the games that I had made to go along with beginning number concepts. This is probably where I get the most excited about going to Common Core standards. Under our state frameworks we covered SO many learning objectives that I never felt that we spent adequate time developing number concepts. Under Common Core (CC), the majority of our time in kindergarten deals with number concepts. Think about it this way... if a kid gets that 5 apples is five apples but it is also two groups of apples (addition problem here) and one of those groups will always be bigger and the other will be smaller (comparing numbers). I am so excited!!

I don't like the math workbook pages that come with out textbooks. I just don't like workbooks. I LOVE theme or concept books. What's the difference? A work book is mass produced aiming for the middle of the road learner. A theme or concept book is teacher created for a group of students, it's differentiation at it's best! Since I make them, I can put what ever I need into the book. Something that I find important here is that ALL the covers look the same- same art, same color etc. Why? well it goes back to my childhood. I was diagnosed with ADD in 1978. At that time no one really got what ADD was, and they didn't understand how good intentioned ideas really cut to the bone. Not to get off on a tangent, but in 2nd grade I was assigned to a first grade reader because I struggled to read. It was HUMILIATING!! The same thing happened to a couple of kids who were reading above grade level... different colored reader! Long story short... it didn't matter if you were above or below, you were different and that caused teasing. So now I make all my theme or concept books look the same on the outside.

Here is a learning about numbers book. The illustration shows that the kiddos trace the number and the word, then they draw a set, and they fill in the ten frame. I usually use stickers or bingo markers for the 10 frame. We also rainbow trace the words and numbers. See how easy it is to differentiate this concept book?

Get your copy here

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hi ho hi ho it's off to work we go...

I did a quick count today and there are 38 days left until I return to school. It seems like I just got out!! Next week I have CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) that I am mostly looking forward too. It's a three year commitment and I hope that it closely aligns itself to Debbie Diller. :)  


There is a summer class in my classroom so I can't get in there to work until after the class is over but the teacher in there is AWESOME! I actually left everything where she could use it if she need too. So since I can't work there, I'm working at home. 


Chant sticks!
I love reading other teachers blogs for inspiration. I have found SO many wonderful ideas a downloadable items from these ladies. I have been working on getting everything printed out and ready to laminate. I can't wait to use these ideas with my incoming kinders!! Here is one that was shared by Kathleen at Growing Kinders. It's spelling chant sticks. I LOVE that she had so many different ways to practice spelling words. Some of them would even work with the ABC chart. I plan on using these starting the first day!! I love the swim one and will probably start with it. here is how I plan to use it. We are going to swim as we say each letter on the abc chart. Then we will hold our noses and "sink" at the end. I already do big poppa and sweet momma voices and I think these will give us more options. BUT I want to mention that the best part of this idea is how Kathleen had them on jumbo craft sticks!! I love that they can be added to a cup as we learn them and then we can draw one out to practice the ABC chart or spelling words!! THANK YOU KATHLEEN!! 
fire theme game

So I got those finished and the kids helped me cut and label a BUNCH of matching games that I use at the beginning of the year as I introduce stations. We also put together more copies of things that I already had so that I could create 2 stations with the same items in it. I found this past year that several children seemed to like certain games better than others, and i never seemed to have enough of that type of game. One of our favorites was a math game that I use for one to one correspondence. The child draws a number card and puts that many pompoms on a work mat. I have some ten frame games that they do this with too. I added two more games, one with a fire theme (community helpers tie in) and the other are apply baskets (apples and pumpkins tie in). 

Sight word books
Then I started to work on my sight word books. This is an idea from my bestie! I love it too! The book is a marble comp book that is cut in half at Office Depot. Then I put a label on the front. Each week we will add our sight words to this book by making rainbow words. A rainbow word is one where the child uses all the colors of the rainbow to write the word. I am so excited about these. They will go into a station with a couple of ideas from Growing Kinders blog after a few weeks of us working on them as a whole group! You can see my book in the picture along with the label sheet that I ran through the printer backwards. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Free-bee... center signs...

I've been working with my teaching partner on an idea for Discovery Centers. These are TOTALLY different than work stations and their main goal is exploration, oral language development and social skills.  I created the center signs today and wanted to share them. The clip art came from a link at jmeacham.com.

We both have at least one blue wall... ok I have one blue wall and all of hers are pale sea green (she has an ocean theme going on). We want the signs to look the same in both rooms so that when children switch for discovery time that they know what they are looking for. She has half the centers in her room and I have the other half. It's twice the rewards and 1/2 the work ;) We have 9 centers between us (well 10 if you count that we use all 8 computers- 4 in her room and 4 in mine). We use a contract to keep up with who has been to what center. Each child must go to all centers before he/she can repeat one. Each center has 4-5 children in it at a time. Head over to my TPT to grab your set! 

Dearest Target...

My dearest Target,

all these wonderful ladies in teacher blog land are finding great surprises in your dollar spot. Why am I not? I am ready for you to have bins full of wonderful and inspiring items, not the one or twos that I have dug through and found. Please take the time to think of me and fill your bins!

Thank you,
Karen


No my target isn't full to the gills with teacher stuff in the dollar spot and I'm not happy about that!! I did find a few things when I was there last.  Here is what I did find:
* photo cards that have traffic signs on them- environmental print and then on a ring in construction when we talk about transportation.
* number set puzzles and upper lower puzzles.
* the cutest community helper cards EVER!
* foam shapes (left them out of the picture but they will be in math centers)
* and green egss and ham- how is it that I have all his other movies and not this one? Problem solved.

I've also been printing, cutting and getting ready all the wonderful shares I've been seeing!! The kids are done with helping ;)
Oh, I ran by Knowledge tree just to see what was new and I found a super cute set of monkeys by creative teaching press and a chicka chicka tree by carson dellosa... ok it's not really a chicka chicka tree but it's going to be my chicka tree!! (Don't have the money to build the one of my dreams so this one will have to do).

I also got in my buckets from Really Good Stuff. I am going to use them for my classroom library. Since one wall in my room is painted a bright sea blue (aqua?) I got pink and green buckets. I am so excited about them getting here!! This is what I ordered:  the large pink and green ones. The blue of my wall looks like the blue in the photo. I am going to make labels for them this week. I am thinking about re- labeling all my library books. (don't tell my daughter- she will scream!) I can't wait to get the labels done. I'll share them here incase anyone else is interested in them.

I have a blog give away planned if I can get to 25 followers I'll give the details on how you can win. (hints: dollar spot, route 44) I've also got some more Math station ideas to share... just need a better way to get pictures on the internet.

Give away at Erica's Elementary Excitement

I just ran across this give away and thought to share it. And I agree with Erica... who doesn't love lakeshore learning and target!! Head on over for your chance to win!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

math journal prompts

Yesterday I shared about my counting collection love affair and math journals. I thought that I would share with you a little sample of how I do math journals. Remember that I use those black and white comp books as the base and I add some kind of label to the top. Last year I used premade note pads like the ones you get from Carson Dellosa.This year I am using Avery Labels that I printed. ;) 



Once you grab the file and open it, you will see that there are 5 rectangles per page. The idea is to reproduce enough for your whole class. Since my state won't allow more than 20 kinders in a room or 25 firsties, I laid out the page in multiples of 5. These are ACTUAL prompts that I have used with my kiddo's. They are handed their journal and a prompt and know to go to their table and glue to prompt into the book. We use a date stamp at the beginning of the year to date them, and later we write the date. I have the full version for sale over at Teachers pay teachers. The full version has over 50 prompts in it. And knowing how much I LOVE math journals, I wouldn't be surprised if more of these pop up. We are changing to Common Core this year and I will be reworking some of these  this summer.

I am scheduled to take CGI (a math workshop offered by the Dept of Ed in my state). It's a 3 year commitment to learning math instruction. I am super excited about the training and I am hoping that it fits into the ideas that Debbie Diller has. Keep checking back to see more about my journey through math work stations and for some of my ideas...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Chapter 3 MWS...

This chapter is all about getting started with stations. The ideas here center around setting up and teaching stations. Think procedures! I am most excited about the I can lists and math talk charts. One of my downfalls in stations or centers is that children feel that they have a choice not to work or are easily off task. The idea in math stations is that children have a list of things they can do... and this list can be differentiated!! Heck the whole station can!! I think that excites me the most... each child can and will get what they need ;) Another thing that excites me is actually an idea that I saw on another blog about having a child be the "center patrol".

I don't do classroom jobs. A long time ago I decided that we would all be responsible for our room and that having only certain children doing "jobs" meant that someone was off the hook of being responsible. Now I have "experts". These are children who have demonstrated that they understand or can handle extra responsibility. This past year I had a  computer experts,  materials expert and a line expert. And no they didn't change weekly or daily. An expert was an expert. This year I am going to add a station patrol expert. 

I am madly trying to create things as I am inspired by them. The next chapter in Math Work stations is on beginning number concepts and I have some thing to share!! I make LOTS of bound books for the kids. I really don't like pre-fab work books. I would rather gather my own materials and "make a book". Sometimes I comb bind them and other times I staple them. This share is one of many things I do to help with number concepts. This is a counting book. At the beginning of the year they are 1-10. They change and become what is needed to make these numbers concrete. Like I said this is just one type of counting book. After the first few they become a center activity. Some children like to finish it in one sitting others get board and only do a page or two. And they can be differentiated!! What is inside can be different from what is on the cover... making it appear that everyone has the same skills. 

Grab it here this book was an end of the year review for some of my children who were still struggling with the "teens". The books match our theme and that is why it's ocean. They have word wall cards to identify the different animals in the counting book.

Math Journals and Counting Collections

Three springs ago I was given a copy of an article from Teaching Children Mathematics. It was called "Counting Collections" (March 2007). (google counting collections to find the article- I would post it but I am not sure about copy rite)I was very excited and yet worried about introducing counting collections to my class. I mean, would 5 year olds sit still long enough to count to 100? How would I handle all those little pieces to count... and out of fear I set the article aside. How many times have teachers loved an idea but feared the actual "doing" part... I would guess thousands.

Even though I didn't do counting collections that school year, I passed out the idea to every teacher who would listen... and I waited. I waited to hear how they liked it or if it had worked for them. What I heard back was how successful it was. One 5 grade teacher told me that her children immediately started grouping their items into multiplication groups... that very few would sit and count. I was still perplexed at how this would work in Kindergarten...those old thoughts of millions of little pieces all over the floor gripped me with fear. But I started to notice something with this years group of children. When given legos or counting bears or any manipulative they would sort into groups, but they weren't counting the groups. Just sorting them... and it hit me (kind of like a ton of bricks actually) these babies have to GROW into counting to 100!!!

Yea, I know. You had that figured at the beginning of this post ;) I've often said I might be late but I always get to the party! So here is what I did....Counting Collections became a math journal activity. I took all kinds of things, erasers, pasta, beans, foam squares, and foam shapes I cut from the Cricut and grouped them into zip lock baggies.On each baggie I put a 2x4 label that said " Today I counted (what ever was in the baggie). I have ______ (what ever was in the baggie)". The children copied that label into their math journal and then they would count using what ever method worked for them... making a line, grouping etc. Then the children would fill in the blank with the number. Now came the fun part... recording how they counted. The children drew what they did to count. For example, if the children made a LONG line of beans then this is what they would draw and label (with the number), if a child grouped into groups of 10 then they might draw a 10 frame with dots to represent the item and label what they drew.

Just how this all worked: 
I must mention that before the children were EVER asked to work on their own we did a lot of these together! I have an elmo in my room and I LOVE it for this type of project. I can work each step with the whole class. Then we can all get out our journals and work the steps together. I start math journals VERY early in the school year. We write our numbers, number sets or answer journaling prompts. The prompts are written in word, 5 to a page, and cut apart. The kids glue them into their journals. We use a date stamp early in the year to date our pages and then move to writing the date later on. When I first introduced the counting collections I tell the kids that being able to count quickly is a skill that grown ups use all the time. We quickly count to see if everyone is finished in the bathroom or lined up from recess. We quickly count to see if we have enough bottles of water for the family when we go on a picnic. This is something that they will use forever. The baggies are limited to 10 or less at first. I found that they quickly went to 20 (and that I could model much higher numbers). The children would take their baggie and empty it onto their journal, this year we will be working on math mats thanks to Mrs. Diller!!

In over coming my personal fears, I lowered the numbers to "reasonable" to deal with. Starting out no more than 10. By the end of the year, I didn't have to give baggies. The children could take a jar of manipulative off the shelf and count as far as they could in the time allowed. The mess that I was worried about was non existent because we worked on our journals, this year it will be math mats of foam from the craft store. This set boundaries for the children. They knew to watch for "falling" pieces and how to handle picking up their pieces.  

About the journal:
On the kindergarten supply list are 2 black marble comp books. I take one to use for a math journal and the other is cut in half to be used as a word journal (more about that one later).   In the past I have used premade note pads to label the journals, but this year I am going to Avery labels to label each book. (see below)

I have fallen in love with counting collections. They are a little bit of work to set up, if you set them up in baggies with labels. But they are SO worth the time!!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Do you love Miss Bindergarten??

One of my favorite children's book is a series of Miss Bindergarten. The kiddo's LOVE her!! This is a great first day of school book... and guess what I found on the internet? The wonderful Laura over at Kinder Kraziness is giving away a unit to go with this book. Isn't she amazing!

I bet you are wondering how to I get my copy? Well head over to her blog to find out how... Kinder Kraziness Blog

Teachers pay Teachers... jumping in with both feet

I love printables!! I love making things that my classroom needs and that fit my teaching style. I have been drooling over the teachers pay teachers site... I mean who doesn't know better what a teacher needs for their classroom than another teacher! I have bought several things over there that I love, but I can't ever shake the feeling of "i can make this". And off I go creating more wonderful things for my room.

There is a joke around my building about not giving me too much time off or I'll have a whole new room. I love to create!! And this week I have had lots of time off... no students, no grad school and no Anna Claire or Jackson (thank you grandparents!!) I dusted off my already made items, and I've tweaked them to public use. This is a "game" that my kids loved to play. It's called "follow that pattern". Each student gets an equal number of strips. Then the small cards go into a stack. The kids take turns drawing from the stack. If the card completes their pattern then they keep the card and move that strip over because it's complete. If the card can not complete their strips then the card goes back to the bottom of the stack. The first one to complete all their strips wins.
 

I will be uploading more of these games and other resources to my TPT site. More to come this week on Math Stations!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

finally.... the iPhone

For years I have wanted an iPhone, but our cell plan didn't offer them. So for the last year I have had a HTC erois. Nice little phone but not my iPhone. And recently it's been force closing on me... such a pain! But when I'm teaching it's not that big of a deal. Then I had added to my life a wonderful teaching assistant, Mrs. Adams, who had an iPhone... and guess what- she used it to work with her small group!! I was amazed by what she found and used with the kids. The engagement of her little group was AMAZING!! Mind you these are kids who are below basic in Kindergarten. She found games on ABC's and letter sounds, games on number recognition!! OH MY GOODNESS I loved watching her work with the kids, and I know the kids loved "playing" on the phone ;) So yesterday I decided that I had reached a critical point in my masters program (BA+24 hrs) which gives me a pay raise and only a year left in the program, not to mention that I passed the hardest class I ever remember taking (School Law)!! So I did it!!

I got the iPhone 4 and a pink otterbox... really you had to know that I would make the phone pink somehow! Of course I am still trying to figure this beast out. But I am so excited to have it!!