Monday, April 30, 2012

Join the Club

     Panicked. I'm absolutely panicked. Only 37 days of school left to squeeze in everything I can to get my kids ready for first grade and it's just not enough time!  Hence the panic. With the push to meet really monumental objectives like getting even my struggling readers to an F&P level D (yikes!) I find myself scrambling to fit in things like practicing sight words. Luckily, the kids only need to know 25 words, which I think is a really reasonable number. I just read on one teacher's blog that her kids need to know 75!  I'm curious to know - how many do you focus on?
     Looking for a little help with this task, I came up with a plan.  Our Pete the Cat's Shoe Tying Club has been so successful this year (I haven't tied a shoe since November!)  because the kids pestered nicely asked their parents to practice at home so they could make it into the club.  It totally worked and so far, 14 out of my 16 kids are in the club. Hey - I'm not above a little "Please Mom, please Mom, pleeeease Mom" pressure! Seeing how well this club has worked out, I thought I would start a Popcorn Words Club too.
     Like the shoe tying club, the kids are practicing at home and when they're ready, they try to read me all of their words.  If they know them all, they become an official member of the Popcorn Words Club.  Woohoo! They get an official membership badge, a certificate with their name gets added to the display on the wall, and their favorite part - they get a bag of microwave popcorn to share with their family to thank them for their help. 
     I'm totally psyched at how well it's going.  I did a baseline assessment before we started and only 2 kids knew all of the words.  Two weeks later, 10 kids are in the club.  The remaining kids are working really hard and the kids in the club are even helping them practice during free time which is just awesome.  They all cheer for each other when they get into the club and say things like, "That's OK, you're doing great - keep trying!" when someone doesn't quite make it.  It's really pretty adorable.
     If you'd like to start a club in your classroom, you can download all of the materials by clicking the link under the picture.  Included in the packet are a parent letter explaining the club, membership badges, a poster and certificates to hang on the wall and labels to put on the bags of microwave popcorn (I use the mini 100 calorie bags).

I'd love a comment if you download the kit and you're going to give it a try. I'd also love to hear how many sight words other kindergarten teachers are tackling this year.  Have a great night!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mother's Day Freebie and Giveaway Winners

     Just a quick post to announce the winners of my giveaway and to share a Mother's Day freebie I thought you might like.  The winners of the Mother's Day Breakfast in Bed craft, the Father's Day "World's Best Pop" craft and the Kindergarten Memory book are Andrea, Kelly B and Joni.  Congrats ladies - be sure to check your email in the morning!
     In honor of all the moms out there, I'm offering my newest Emergent Reader pack as a freebie so we can spread the love to as many moms as possible.  Like the others I've made this year, it has a large 8-page, full-color book for shared reading and two matching b&w student versions - one for  independent reading and one with missing text for students to fill in.  Repetitive text allows for even the most beginning readers to be successful.  Pocket chart cards and follow-up worksheets are included.  I'm planning on having my kids make the "fill-in" version for their moms as one of the gifts we'll be making.  (And if my own mom is reading this, I love you more than baby wildebeests love their moms. Family joke...)
     Click under the pic if you'd like a copy. I hope you'll leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Giveaway and Earth Day Freebie

   The countdown to the end of the year has begun for most of us and it's interesting to hear how different everyone's school year calendar is.  In parts of the country, it sounds like some of you are but a few weeks away from summer break.  Here in Connecticut, most of us go through the end of June.  In any case, it's safe to say that most of us are counting down to a little R&R.  I'm always sad to say goodbye to my kiddos, but I love that I can watch them grow over their remaining years in elementary school.  Reason number 632 why being a kindergarten teacher is so great!
   In honor of the final sprint, I'm having an end of the year giveaway that should add a little fun to your remaining days.  I'll pick three winners at random to each win 3 of my most popular TPT end of the year products.  Listed below, there's a Mother's Day craft, a Father's Day craft and my bestselling kindergarten memory book.  You can check them out by clicking the links in the right sidebar, and if you'd like a chance to win, just leave your email in a comment.  (If you blog about my giveaway you can enter a second comment!)  You can enter through Friday, April 27th at 8:00 p.m.
Giveaway Prizes
( I love having my class make end of the year books but most of the versions I've tried have pages with lots of questions and small lines. These were just too frustrating for my emergent readers and writers to do independently, so I created this easy to use version. Each page has only one topic, such as "My favorite field trip was" or "One thing I wonder about next year is" and a wide, ruled writing line. Each page also has picture support for even beginning readers to understand and the kids always do a great job! )

Now for the Freebie...
     Today is Earth Day and we've been learning all about taking care of the Earth.  We're going to wrap up the unit with a sorting and graphing activity tomorrow.  If you'd like a copy, click below the picture to download.  Happy Earth Day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Yummy Earth Day Treat

     We've been busy plugging away this week learning all about Earth Day and different ways that we can help our planet.  We're going to have a little celebration on Friday and we're going to make a snack that's cute, delicious and healthy.  You just need some rice cakes, some cream cheese and some food coloring. 
     The only prep you'll need to do is to mix some green food coloring into one bowl of cream cheese and some blue food coloring into another.  I discovered that it works best if you spread blue over the whole rice cake to make the water first, then add the green on top of that to make the land.  Tada!  You have a yummy, healthy Earth Day treat!
     I'm going to try having the kids make their snack at a station (yikes!) so I made a picture recipe card for them to follow.  If you'd like a copy of the recipe card to try it with your class, you can click below the pic.  I'd love to hear how your little chefs make out!
Happy Earth Day everyone!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Recycled Earth Day Craft

     Tomorrow's my last day of Spring Break and I've been busy getting ready for the week.  Like most of you, I'm planning on doing a lot of Earth Day activities.  We made a really cute art project last year that looked great hanging in the classroom windows and was made with things that were all either recycled or reused.  I'm going to do it again this year and I thought some of you might like to give it a try.  If you imagine it hanging in the window, the sun shines through the earth and looks really cool.

     The things we used - wax paper, foil, paper plates and cellophane were all left over from previous activities or saved from other uses.

There's some teacher prep involved and since there are a lot of steps, I spread the project out over a few days.  The kids loved this project and were excited to see something so beautiful come from a pile of leftover junk.  If you want to give it a go, you can download the detailed directions and templates by clicking the link.

Have a great night!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Little Lakeside Learning

     Well, I'm back from the lake and I'm refreshed and ready to hit the ground running for the last 10 weeks of school.  I've been thinking about the many, many things I need to get covered in such a short time to get my kiddos ready for first grade and my head is spinning.  I'm really going to focus on literacy to strengthen the skills the kids will need to meet the end of year benchmarks.  A F&P Level D is going to be tough for some of the little ones who started kindergarten with no letter ID - yikes!  I have a group that seems to be stuck at Level B, so I'm going to do some major strategy work to get them over the hump into a Level C.
     If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I've been making a lot of my own emergent readers this year.  It's so hard to find leveled books that have exactly what you're looking for sometimes so I've been creating my own to meet the individual needs of my kids.
     Inspired by my trip to the lake with my dog, Sally, I wrote an emergent reader about it. To support my Level B group, the book has clear picture clues and has a basic text pattern that changes slightly as the book goes on.  It introduces some new sight words (she, went, made) and I think the kids will love reading about Sally ('cause you can bet that they hear about Sally and her antics all the time). 
     I also plan on using the book during Writers' Workshop to model how to stretch your story by including lots of events.  My kids can be a little quick to get to the end when writing and I think this will be a good example of how to paint a better picture for the reader.
     I know your kids won't have the same personal connection to this book that mine have (I put a picture down below if you want to show them the real Sally at the lake.) but I thought you still might be able to use it. There's a large, full-color shared reading version and a smaller, b&w student version. Click on the link below the pictures if you want to download a copy to give it a read.  Have a great night!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Wishes

   Three days into Spring Break and I already feel like a new person.  At the last minute I found a cute little lakehouse to rent for a few days and boy is it wonderful.  Beautiful sunrises, peaceful water, and the wind through the trees have totally worked their magic and reinvigorated my soul.  I've been pretty much unplugged all weekend, which is a nice change of pace, but I wanted to hop online tonight to wish everyone a Happy Easter.  I hope the Easter Bunny brings you whatever you need to soothe your soul and bring you peace. 
  You know I have to end this post with a picture of Sally in a ridiculous cute holiday costume, right?  Did you think for a minute that I walked past the doggie bunny ears at Target without buying them?  Poor, poor Sally...
Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Here a Chicka, There a Chick

     Just four more days of school until Spring Break -woohoo!  I have some big plans involving my new jammies, my Kindle and my screen porch.  Ahhh...  To get through the week with a bunch of spring fver afflicted kindergartners, I plan to keep things pretty much business as usual, with a little extra sprinkling of glitter, glue and giggles. Boy, that sounds a little Mary Poppins-ish, doesn't it?
     If you read my last post, you'll know that while we don't teach or celebrate Easter at my school, I have a weakness for the all of the bunny and chick cuteness floating around.  I have another chick station I thought I would share with you, just don't say the "E" word...
     My kids love the "Bump" games that seem to be popular these days and a variety of cute themed games that I've found an various blogs are a big hit in our Addition Math Station.  To add a little twist, I picked up a few 97 cent chick shaped egg trays at Walmart and used them to make a Chick Bump game.  I wrote the numbers in the egg cups, and because they're written on the edge, they'll be easy to read when the game markers are in the cups. (I'm actually contemplating letting the kids use jelly beans as little eggs to play with - is that insane??)  I made a matching recording sheet to go with it, and the kids have to write down the numbers on the two dice they rolled to make up the number.
     If you'd like to try it with your kids, click below the picture to download a copy.  I also included a paper version of the game that you can use if you don't have the chick trays.  Happy bumping!