Sunday, March 16, 2014

Lucky Charms Meets the Common Core (Freebie)

With the new common core standards in math, I decided that the classic Lucky Charms graph that I've been using for years needed a bit of a makeover. So, I incorporated ten frames and addition to touch upon both Counting & Cardinality and Operations & Algebraic Thinking.  I think the kids will have a blast with it while unknowingly stretching their brains a little.

If you're up for a wee bit o' fun, just grab a copy below, stop at the store for a box of Lucky Charms and have a great St. Patrick's Day!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

P is for Love??? (Freebie)

    This post is a bit of a personal story, but if you read through to the end, I promise there's a really cute freebie for you!

    Some women become friends when they meet at the gym, or when they discover a shared passion for coffee, or when they find a like mind at a book club meeting. My friend Susan and I however, bonded over something a little less cultured - we bonded over a couple of weenies (figuratively, not literally). After college, we were dating two creeps young men who were friends and the four of us often did things together. When those silly boys showed their true colors as complete weenies, we left them behind and have been BFFs ever since. Over the years, we’ve been through a lot together. We’ve celebrated things like new houses, new jobs, happy biopsy results and milestone birthdays. (Although our 30th birthday extravaganza in Scotland is still a little fuzzy because we met our goal of 30 pubs in the week we were there!)  We’ve also cried together through things like broken engagements, health scares, and the loss of loved ones. Susan (whom I annoyingly call QZ) is like a sister to me, and my parents even consider her their fourth daughter.  I know that she unwaveringly has my back, and likewise, there is nothing I wouldn’t do for her.
     QZ has five dogs. Five big dogs. Five really, really big dogs. Great Danes and Mastiffs and mutts, oh my!  (Some people say that she is one dog away from being The Crazy Dog Lady, I tend to think she's already there.) Their names all start with the letter P (Pumpkin, Petunia, Phoebe, Peroguey and Phawn), and they are her joy. They are her heart. She loves them with the fierceness that you would expect of any mother. She’s happy when they’re happy, she dances when they dance (and they do dance), and she hurts when they hurt.  She would give anything she has to keep her “P”s happy and healthy.
The 5 Ps and their pile o' love.

     A few weeks ago, QZ found out that Peroguey has cancer and needs chemotherapy. Peroguey has recently started her treatment and is being a real trooper. She's getting a lot of love from the other Ps and my fingers are crossed that she'll come through it all with her tail wagging.
Named Rogue when she was adopted, she became Peroguey so she could be a "P.".

     Imagining the worry and stress that this is causing QZ, along with some family issues she's dealing with right now, not to mention the insane expense of it all had me wondering what I could do to help QZ and the sweet, sweet Ps.  Well, I came up with a plan. It's not much, but I hope that it helps a little.

     First, because I've been thinking of her a lot, I  made a set of Peroguey-inspired pattern block cards. My class has been obsessed with pattern blocks lately, so I think they'll love them. (You can grab a free set by clicking on the picture down below.)  The next part of the plan is to donate all of the proceeds from my pattern block sets to Peroguey's treatments. They've been pretty popular on TPT so I'm hoping to help make a little dent in the ridiculous vet bill. If you grab the dog set and like it, I'm hoping you'll check out some of the other ones, too.

P is for puppy. P is for Peroguey. P is for love . . .

Other sets that you might like:


Have a great week!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Research in Kindergarten?

You betcha!

     I love when someone who doesn't spend a lot of time in kindergarten walks into my room and when they see what the kids are doing, their jaw drops open and they say something like, "I can't believe that kindergartners are subtracting/writing poetry/doing research." We do so much more in kindergarten than we did even a few years ago, and visitors are often surprised at how much we challenge our little guys. It sure ain't your Grandma's kindergarten anymore!

     This happened to me a couple of weeks ago when we were in the middle of our nonfiction unit. One of the upper grade teachers in my school popped in and was amazed to see that the kids were doing independent research projects. I told her we were tackling the process in a "kindergarten friendly" way, which involves a few steps that I've tweaked over the past few years so that all of the kids can be successful. I thought I would share in case anyone is looking for a way to get started. This is what we did . . .

Step 1: Prep
           I decided that we would just focus on animals, so I came up with three facts that I thought would be both interesting and easy to research. The kids were responsible for finding out what their animal looks like, what it eats and where it lives. I gathered a whole bunch of nonfiction animal books for the kids to choose from. (This took a little bit of time because I wanted to make sure that the books I picked had clear illustrations because many had text that was just not accessible to most of my beginning readers.) Then, I got the materials ready for the first day of research. I put three small stickies with icons for each fact on a sentence strip for each student. We were ready to go
Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning

Step 2: Research
     For each of the first three days, I focused my Readers' Workshop mini-lesson on looking for one of the chosen facts. Modeling with a big book, I showed the class how to find the information I was looking for and how to mark it with the matching sticky note. When I sent them off to get to work, they were so excited to find what they were looking for - we were official researchers!
Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning

Step 3: Note Taking
     On each of the days that we did our research in Step 2, we carried over our project into our Writers' Workshop time. I gave the kids a tri-fold graphic organizer to write down the information they had collected that day. (I enlarged onto 12x18 construction paper so they had a big space to write in.) We discussed making illustrations true to life and the kids were encouraged to add details.
Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning
 I love how this little researcher spelled "koalas" and "trees."

Step 4: Publishing
     Once all of the research was done, we took all of the facts we'd learned and wrote nonfiction books about our animals. I simply provided a cover sheet and blank pages and the kids went to town. They did such a great job! Even my reluctant writers were excited to share their new knowledge. The kids were so proud of their finished books that we visited our 5th Grade Reading Buddies to show them off.
Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning

Our first Reading and Writing nonfiction units of study were a big success and the kids really have a firm grasp on how to read and write nonfiction books. If you'd like to give it a try, you can download the materials I used by clicking on the picture below.  Happy Researching!
 Kindergarten Research - Peace Love and Learning

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My Favorite Things Freebie

     We had a full afternoon of Parent Teacher conferences today and boy, am I tired of hearing myself talk!  On the ride home I decided that I was going to get home, relax and not say another word all night. That was before I realized that the remake of The Sound of Music was on. Now I'm sitting here, an old nostalgic fool, singing along with Maria and the children at the top of my lungs. (I'm not taking it personally that my dog is next to me howling . . .) My poor voice will no doubt pay the price tomorrow, but I consider that a small price to pay for bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens! The Sound of Music just makes me happy. (And I have to say, Carrie Underwood had some big shoes to fill and I think she's doing a great job!)
     As Maria belted out, "A Few of My Favorite Things," it made me think of a book I just used with my class during our Early Print Strategies unit.  One of the strategies we worked on was "Getting you mouth ready to say the word." To reinforce and strengthen this skill, I made an emergent reader that really requires the kids to attend to the first letter of the word, because after looking at the picture for clues, the unfamiliar word is not always the obvious choice. Is that a dog or a puppy? A computer or a laptop? A coat or a jacket? There are a couple of different versions of the book, so you can keep the kids on their toes!  You can grab a copy by clicking on the picture if you'd like to try it with your kids.
Have a great night and try to sing out loud at least once tomorrow!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Shopping in My Long-Johns

Even though I have been known to partake in the past, I made an effort to stay away from the Black Friday craziness this weekend. It was just too cold to go out at 5 am to get a good deal. I'm holding out for Cyber Monday instead.  I plan to come right home from school tomorrow, build a fire in the fireplace, fire up my laptop and do my Christmas Shopping online. My family has become very skilled at adding to their Amazon wishlists throughout the year, so I have a great place to start. My challenge is going to be to not play the "one present for them, one for me" game which I love to play.

I'm sure you've heard about the big Teachers Pays Teachers Cyber-Monday sale. It's definitely on my "shop in my long-johns" list of places to visit tomorrow. I spent a couple of hours filling up my wish list today so I can just check out and stock up for the winter. (I sound like a squirrel - LOL!) I'm also offering an additional 20% off all the items in my store for the next two days, so you can get a total of 28% off by using the code "CYBER."

I have a few new items listed for you to take a peek at. (As usual, I'll send the first three comments their choice of the goodies below . . .)

My favorite is the Holiday Pattern Block Cards I made for my Math Stations. My kids LOVE to make pictures with pattern blocks and I came up with a set of Christmas and Hanukkah cards that I think they're really going to love. Click on the picture to get a better look.

Keeping the kids engaged during December is always tricky because they're so excited for the holidays. You know what they say - if you can't beat them, join them!  With this in mind, I made a set of holiday themed math sheets to reinforce counting, addition, graphing and using ten frames.

The last new item is based on my favorite Christmas carol, The 12 Days of Christmas. This cute booklet will give the kids practice writing numbers and number words, using ten frames and representing quantities up to 12.  I also made an alternative version, The 12 Days of Friendship for the kids in my class who don't celebrate Christmas.

I wish you happy cyber-shopping tomorrow. I hope you get tons of good deals and find presents for both yourself and your loved ones!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Turkey Week Freebie

   While blog-hopping today I noticed that some of you have the whole week off for Thanksgiving - you lucky turkeys! I hope that you enjoy a nice, long break with your families.
My Classroom Door - Gobble! Gobble!
     Around here, we go to school for full days on Monday and Tuesday and then have an early release on Wednesday. As you can imagine, the kids are pretty riled up by Wednesday and it's a little tricky to contain their energy. So, I have a bunch of cute Thanksgiving activities planned that will keep them learning but add a little dash of fun. If you're looking for a few new things for your plans, be sure to enter the Thanksgiving Giveaway. You still have a few hours to enter and you could win some goodies to get you through the week. (Friday and Saturday's daily winners are Miranda and Rose - ladies, email me to let me know which of the prizes you'd like!)

     For those of you teaching through Wednesday, I have a great Freebie for you to show how thankful I am that you take the time to visit my blog.
     As a little Thanksgiving Present, I've got the day before your break covered. You can grab this Thanksgiving packet filled with fun yet purposeful activities. You'll find reading, writing, math and word study activities - enough for the whole day. Just click on the picture. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Giveaway

     During this season of giving thanks and counting blessings, I am reminded that one thing that I'm especially thankful for is the terrific group of people I work with. We have such a giving, supportive and compassionate bunch of teachers and staff that I consider myself very lucky to a part of the gang. So . . . to share a little of the love, two of my colleagues (Sandra is on the kindergarten team with me and Cortney teaches first grade) and I are teaming up to host a little Thanksgiving Giveaway to say thanks for letting us share our ideas and thoughts with you.

     We picked some of our favorite Thanksgiving activities and have created a Prize Pack that could add a little fun to your classroom next week before the holiday break. Here are the goodies (click on the pics for more details):
Adorable Thanksgiving Past & Present Craftivity

Funny Thanksgiving Emergent Reader that is great to use with your "Disguise a Turkey" project.

     We'll pick one Grand prize winner on Sunday night (using Rafflecopter) who will win all of the prizes listed above.  You can follow Sandra's TPT store and Cortney's new blog Spicy Peaches and TPT store as well as this blog and my TPT store to earn up to 5 entries a day. We'll also randomly pick 1 winner a day (from the comments below) to receive winner's choice of any 1 prize from the list, so be sure to leave your email address for an extra chance to win.
Have a great weekend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway