It's Friday...

Friday, December 30, 2011
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 ( 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 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)


Teachers Notebook

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
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.      

Merry Christmas! ...

Sunday, December 25, 2011
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...

Merry Christmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011
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!

Short a and u sort freebie

Thursday, December 22, 2011
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!

A gift for you...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
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.

I've been working on....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011
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!


Can you help me?

Monday, December 19, 2011
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

OMG.... light blub moment here!!

Saturday, December 17, 2011
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...

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

Friday, December 16, 2011
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!

Word Work station

Saturday, December 10, 2011
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!


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

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
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...


Finally a few Winter theme pictures

Monday, December 5, 2011
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. 


Poetry Folders and ABC Chants

Sunday, December 4, 2011
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:

School is where I want to be.
Learning to read and write each day.
Boys and girls I want to know.
Sharing books with you and me.
Now it's time to say goodbye.
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!
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