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

Thursday, June 30, 2011
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. 


Free-bee... center signs...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011
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,

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!

math journal prompts

Tuesday, June 28, 2011
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...

Chapter 3 MWS...

Monday, June 27, 2011
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!!


Do you love Miss Bindergarten??

Sunday, June 26, 2011
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!!

finally.... the iPhone

Saturday, June 25, 2011
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!!

Smashing good day!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011
I had a chance today to work with my teaching partner about our plans for the first semester!! I am SOO stinking excited. This past year was her first year teaching and her first time working with themes. I'm old school whole literacy thematic teaching queen! To say the least I am excited that she is falling in love with themes. We are going to start off the year with Camp Kindergarten. I am SOO excited about this theme because the whole idea is to get the kids acclimated to the school and learn what the expectations are.

Then we move into my second favorite theme... Chicka Boom Room!! All based on the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin  and John Archambailt. This will be our theme for 2 weeks as we cover the letters and sounds of the alphabet. I make some of my MOST favorite classbooks during this time. I love listening to the kids read our classbooks over and over. This year I want to add a chicka tree to my room. I just need to figure out the technical part... and then BAM I'll have my tree.

The other thing that made today a WONDERFUL day is that I attended a teacher training that made me happy. It was given by some of our state parks. We went to an agriculture museum and to the Toltec Mounds. I learned so much and couldn't stop thinking about how to use these places in my classroom. I want to see about having the gals from the Toltec Mounds come to school and talk about Native Americans.

I have lots of ideas floating around in my head that I need to get down on paper or get started on. So later gator!!

MWS Chapter 2 reflection...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011
As if chapter one didn't get me excited... Chapter two has me empowered! I know I can do this!! I really haven't de- cluttered yet, summer school is in my room. But I got really excited thinking about what I have, what I have to teach with and what materials are going into these station tubs!! Oh and I have where the station tubs are going all figured out! I am super excited. I highlighted so much in this chapter. There were more light bulb moments for me... things I knew but well didn't have the faith in myself to do. Now I believe and I will be working these ideas!!

First, math mats! HELLO... how do you keep the noise low? PADDING!! LOL... my kids loved the pattern blocks this year. They would make all kind of creations with them, but my pet peeve was the clanking of them. I wish I had foam ones but I have plastic blocks enough for 5 classrooms!! I did give some to a third grade teacher and I am going to see if the first grade teachers need some too... heaven only knows why I have 5 major tubs full of them! I am looking at how I want to organize the time for math and stations. I am not sure this is really the place for it, but I was thinking it so I will write it.

I am HORRIBLE about giving enough modeling before something becomes independent, especially in the first weeks of school. I feel like we have SO much to cover that I don't want to miss anything because I am teaching procedure. However this chapter really got me to thinking about how to teach the manipulative... not just the math skill but how to use the tools!! What a light bulb moment for me!

I mentioned yesterday that I was thinking about changing my classroom theme to jungle. I did this math journal cover yesterday. I am not sure I like it... maybe I've spent too much time being a kinderbee ;)

Math Journal Cover

I hope to post chapter 3 later today. It's AWESOME!! and there are a couple of blogs that I want to link to my post. The resources that these teachers made to go along with this chapter are amazing!!

Some things are just better off not said...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I have been struggling with wanting to blog some thoughts on life in my school district. Some are happy thoughts, some are frustrations but I just need to record them for me... so that I can see what God is doing. I don't journal anymore, and I am not the best at blogging either. But this upcoming school year I want to get into the habit of reflecting everyday!! IT's something I did when I first started teaching. I used note cards to jot down 3 things that went well each day. It was a survival technique given to me by my principal at the time. I loved looking back and seeing how far things had come. I learned a lot from them. I want to figure a way to get them into my lesson plans. 

There are so many questions right now about our district... pointing of fingers, blaming others. It's not pretty and it's far from over. But amid it all are sweet little faces of the future, they are the reason I teach. And the reason that I get into so many arguments with Thomas. I know he doesn't get the passion I have but I know it's the same passion that makes me the person he loves. This would be another reason for wanting to reflect. I want to be able to put the days to bed as I leave school... not drag them home. Ok I'm a realist... they will always come home with me. We've been out of school 13 days now and my heart aches for those little faces. 

I love that we have summer tutoring in our building... it allows me time in my room. At first I was not happy... the people in the rooms across the hall I didn't know and I knew that I wouldn't be able to work in my room. But I got the lucky straw and drew one of my teacher besties as the one in my room. I basically opened up all that I have to her. ;) I gave her the keys to everything... not something that I would have done for just anyone.

I've been thinking alot about next year... I guess the drama in the district has me thinking. There are some boundaries that I need to draw, and I'm not good at that stuff. The happy side is that I have TONS of ideas!! Almost too many...but I am starting with the way I schedule my day. I am going to work stations and discovery time. I will have work station time during our literacy block and again during our Math time. Then at the very end of the day I will have discovery time. I'm really excited!! I think that I want to start off school with camp Kindergarten! I've loved the idea ever since I first heard Dr Jean talk about it. Now to see if it will work. Then right after camp kindergarten, which will get us used to the school and the rules, I want to Chicka Boom Room where the abc's explode around my room!! I want to build a palm tree and make big letters to go on it! This is where my cricut gets a work out!!

And I think that after upteen years of being kinderbees, that I am ready for a change. UGH... did I really say that? My classroom is #9 so it's not the easiest to come up with a rhyme, and my last name is Day...again not the best. I am thinking jungle theme...maybe? I bought this super cute digital art set to use, if I go in that direction. Here it is:

The are from Graphics by Woofy World at Mygrafico I think they are SOOO cute!! I was going to use them on take home folders, classroom labels, desk tags.. you name it and it's getting an animal. Now here's the question... do they look to baby for Kindergarten?

I am a little scared that they are too young. But they are SOO cute!! I was thinking I would use the monkey, giraffe, lion, elephant and zebra for daily stuff. The pig would be cute during farm and mrs wishy- washy stuff.  Or maybe I should just stick with the bees. 

On the note of things not said... I'm in DESPERATE help with this blog. I need FREE to extremely cheep help. What I want done shouldn't take long but I just can't make it work. I don't know enough code, I'm self taught and know just enough to get VERY frustrated! Good think the kids are out of town... they would have heard their momma say things she never says!! ;) I think I am going to make up some labels just to see how I like them... maybe Math journals labels. I'll post them when I get them done.


Math Work Stations (MWS) chapter 1

General Reflections:
WOW... this book is going to get me moving in math. I love how Debbie talks about "centers" vs. "work stations". I want to go with work stations for this school year. I plan on having teacher work stations in the morning and math work stations in the afternoon. But the really cool thing I want to do is to continue discovery time at the end of the day. I LOVED what I learned about the children during discovery time. This is more of an old school center idea, and it's not mine- my friend April shared it with me. Here is how discover is going to help my work stations. Discover is about free play and exploration. It's a time where I can focus on interpersonal skills and oral language (for those going to common core this is how I am going to link K.SL.6- speak audibly and express thoughts, feelings, and ideas clearly.)

 Chapter 1 questions
* If you are already using literacy work stations, what parallels did you see between literacy and math work stations?

I am not using work stations. I have teacher directed centers where each student is assigned a center to work in. Many of my centers mirror the literacy work stations. One thing that I found to parallel between the two types of stations is that all materials need to be familiar to the child. They need to have been molded. 

*how will what you teach in whole group impact the work students do at math stations?

I use the I do, we do, you do model and I think that my whole group lessons are going to become even more critical! The more an items is modeled the more independent the child's learning will become. 


In my never ending quest...

It seems that the summer is slipping away. With grad school, I really only get one week off and that is this week. I am lucky that it's also the same week that Grannie has taken the kids to Jellystone RV park! So lists in hand I have started marching down the path of the 2011-2012 school year. And am I ever excited about the changes I am planning. I am currently reading Debbie Diller's book "Math Work Stations". It's SO inspiring and empowering!! I also found a blog hop that is discussing the book. Of course I am a couple of weeks behind the hop but the materials these teachers are sharing are AMAZING!! Over the next few days I am going to be posting my reflections on the chapters and hopefully post some of the things that I have made to go along with what I am doing.  I also hope to share some of the Cricut things I made to use in my room. I have fallen in love with the Simply Sweet font... wish I knew what it's font match was- maybe someone can help me out with that ;)

So in the never ending quest... I am off to catch up on this blog, set some themes with the kindergarten team and get started creating!! Remember I said that this is my one  totally free week and I plan to make the best of all of it!!
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