Sunday, August 18, 2013

Wet Toes, Winners and Pajamas

I just had a very serious conversation with my dog. It went like this:

Me: It's 4:00 in the morning - go back to sleep.
Sally: I want breakfast, I want breakfast, I want breakfast.
Me: There are only three days of vacation left, we're sleeping in - go back to sleep.
Sally: I want breakfast, I want breakfast, I want breakfast.
Me: I'm pulling the covers over my head and going back to sleep.
Sally: I want breakfast, I want breakfast, I want breakfast.
Me: I can't hear you . . .
Sally: Then I'll lick your toes until I get what I want.

Guess who won? Yup. It's 4:30 in the morning, Sally went back to bed after our trip to the kitchen and the back yard and I'm wide awake. At 4:30. On one of my last days of vacation!  She's lucky she's so stinkin' cute!

Since I'm up, I thought I would post the last daily winners from the Back to School Giveaway and announce the Grand Prize winner. Drum roll please . . .
     Congrats to Trinity, Amy, Jkey and Lorena! Your prizes are on the way. As for me? I plan to go back to sleep for a bit (do you hear that, Sally?) and then spend the day in my jammies doing a little shopping. If you haven't heard, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a HUGE sale today and tomorrow. With many sellers adding to TPT's 10% off, you can get some really great deals. I have 27 things on my wishlist so I think I'm going to have to whittle it down a bit. Maybe. Probably not. I'll likely get them all. Ahhh... shopping in my jammies . . .
     I'm offering an additional 20% off everything in my store, which you'll get on top of TPT's 10 % if you use the code BTS13. The sale runs today and tomorrow so slip on your coziest pajamas, fire up the computer and head straight to your wishlist! Click on the picture below to check out some of the cute things I have on sale. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

There's Still Time . . .

I just wanted to pop in to post yesterday's winners.  Congrats to Mrs. Frost, LeAnne and Alicia - your prizes are on the way!

The giveaway ends tonight at midnight so if you haven't entered there's still time.  Be sure to stop by in the morning to see if you're the Grand Prize winner!
Have a great night!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Flash Freebie and More Winners


     Congrats to Rachel, Sarah and Lslouka for being chosen as Thursday's Back to School Giveaway daily winners.  If you haven't entered yet, click on the picture to read about and enter the giveaway. You have two more chances to be a daily winner and then the grand prize winner will be picked Saturday night at midnight.

I have a Flash Freebie for you today that I think could be helpful in your classroom this year.

    Lots of teachers use hand signals in their classrooms so the kids can ask for what they need without interrupting instruction.   I wanted to give them a try, but I wanted a way to make them kinder-friendly so they would be meaningful and easy to use.  I love to anchor new concepts with a book, so I created a shared reader to introduce hand signals and explain the reason for using them.
Classroom Hand Signals Pack with poster, shared reader, emergent readers and cut & paste activity
To reinforce the signals, I made a cut and paste matching activity and an emergent reader for the kids to color and read.  These both will help support the kids in remembering the signals.
Classroom Hand Signals Pack with poster, shared reader, emergent readers and cut & paste activity
To have a consistent visual reminder for the kids, I made classroom posters with clear graphics that even my non-readers could “read.”
Classroom Hand Signals Pack with poster, shared reader, emergent readers and cut & paste activity
Yippee! No more interruptions during small groups, guided reading or conferring. If you want to give hand signals a try with your kinders, click the picture below to grab a copy of the packet. Remember to hurry, it's only free until midnight!
Classroom Hand Signals Pack with poster, shared reader, emergent readers and cut & paste activity

Have a great night!  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Shhh - Don't Call It An Assessment . . .(Freebie)

     I have a cute freebie for you tonight, but first, a little business. Thanks to everyone who has already entered the Back to School Giveaway and congrats to yesterday's daily winners (they are posted below). If you haven't entered yet, click the picture to read all about it.  You have three more days to enter and win. Check it out!

    My crazy dog, Sally, woke me up this morning at 5:00 this morning for no apparent reason and I just couldn't get back to sleep. So, I took a little nap this afternoon. On the screen porch. With the ceiling fan on. Such a summertime treat - it was lovely! Sally thought so, too!


     Now I'm wide awake and working on some school stuff.  It's so important to get a quick handle on the skills and abilities of your new kids right away, but who wants to spend the first few days of kindergarten doing assessment?  I came up with a cute way to quickly assess the kids’ cutting, gluing, coloring & name recognition skills on the first day of school without it feeling like assessment.  The kids need to cut out the mixed up letters in their names and paste them onto their paper in the right order. (There's an editable name template for you to type your kids' mixed up names into.) As they work, you can quickly fill out the skills checklist that’s included. Voila! A quick peek at what your new gang of kiddos can do. The adorable kid clip art is from Cara's Clips - so cute!

If you use this assessment activity, I'd love to hear know how it goes.  Do you have a bunch of budding Picasos, or are they all thumbs?
Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back To School Giveaway

    Sigh . . . I go back to school in exactly one week from today. Where did this summer go? We didn't get out until June 29th, so it was an unusually short vacation to begin with, and then, whooosh! It's over.  It was a good summer though, and I feel refreshed and reinvigorated and ready to go! It's been awhile since I've done a giveaway, so in celebration of a great summer, I'm having a big Back to School Giveaway.
Peace, Love and Learning Back to School Giveaway Aug 14-17
    Over the past couple of years, I've focused on really breaking down classroom expectations using emergent readers, clear visuals and follow up activities to support and reinforce exactly what I want the kids to do. I've really noticed a big difference in the amount of time it has taken for the kids to become total kindergarten rock stars!  So . . .

    I've put all of the things that have been so helpful to me into a giant prize pack. I also threw in a few of my favorite beginning of the year units. The Grand Prize Winner will win all of the items listed below, and three winners each day will each win 1 item of their choice.  Enter using Rafflecopter down below. Take a peek at all of the goodies:
You have until midnight on Saturday to enter. Good Luck! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

D.I.Y. 3-D Tens Frames and a Freebie

Sometimes I wonder which I love more - the Dollar Tree or the Target Dollar Spot. I honestly should just avoid them both, because I rarely spend less than 25 dollars when I visit either one, but we all know that won't happen.  Well, today I hit both stores and found that the real score is when you put them both together!  I picked up the makings for a bunch of projects for my classroom, and by combining some treasures from both stores, I have a ton of ideas!  I worked on one today and it came out just the way I pictured it when I was digging through the dollar bins for "just one more pack!"  I picked up some packs of tiny containers and some packs of colorful ping pong balls and got out my glue gun.
D.I.Y. 3-D Tens Frames from Peace, Love and Learning
 Voila! Now I have a set of 3D Tens Frames to put in a Math Station. Check them out - I LOVE them!
D.I.Y. 3-D Tens Frames from Peace, Love and Learning
    Through a little trial and error, I found the best way to construct the frame is to glue all of the lids together first, then add one container at a time, being sure to put glue along the sides and a dot on the bottom. We're going to have to have a serious lesson about ping pong ball etiquette, but I think they're going to be great for real hands-on, kinesthetic learning!

    Another project that I finished today was putting the final touches on the Alphabet Emergent Reader Library that I've been working on.  Finding books that kindergartners can read independently at the beginning of the year can be a little tricky, because emergent literacy skills such as text tracking, sight word recognition and letter/sound associations are just starting to blossom. I want my students’ first experiences with independent reading to be successful so they can think of themselves as readers from the get-go. With that in mind, I created a set of 26 Alphabet Emergent Readers. Each book focuses on one letter sound, has pointing fingers under the words to reinforce text tracking, and follows a 1, 2, or 3 word text pattern that uses only one of three basic sight words (a, the or my). All of these elements put together will allow even the most beginning readers to say, “I can read it myself!” These are great to use when establishing routines for independent reading during Readers' Workshop in the beginning of the year.  I'll send a free set to the first three comments and the whole set will be half price on TPT for the weekend. You can a grab a freebie book here. (The Letter A.)
Alphabet Emergent Reader Library - simple text and cute pictures make these great for beginning readers

Alphabet Emergent Reader Library - simple text and cute pictures make these great for beginning readers

Alphabet Emergent Reader Library - simple text and cute pictures make these great for beginning readers

Alphabet Emergent Reader Library - simple text and cute pictures make these great for beginning readers

Have a fantastic night!

Monday, August 5, 2013

New Reads & Freebies (Part 2)

     I was so happy to hear that so many people were headed to their local library or bookstore to check out some of the books I wrote about in my last post.  (Just don't blame me if you end up with a book store total like mine - yikes!)  Like I said, I still have a whole pile of others sitting here in front of me so I thought I'd share some more. Click on the pictures to grab any of the freebies that you think you can use.

     First up the The Story of Fish and Snail by Deborah Freedman. It's a sweet story about Fish and Snail, two friends who live in a book together.  Fish is adventurous and leaves the book to go visit other books, and comes home each day to Snail, who doesn't want to ever leave the safety of the book, and shares the stories. Both the friendship and Snail's courage are tested when Fish wants Snail to come with him and the two have an argument causing Fish to leave in a huff.  Will Snail work up the courage to leave the book and go after Fish? You'll have to read it to find out . . .
     This book so beautifully conveys the message that reading is the doorway to all kinds of adventures, that I plan to use it as my first Readers' Workshop mini-lesson to help answer the question, "Why do we read?"  I thought a cute follow up would be to have the kids write (draw) about the kind of book they think Fish and Snail should visit next. This is a book that can be read over and over again, and it lends itself nicely to lessons on friendship, courage and taking risks.

Cute Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

     This next book made me squeal. In the middle of the bookstore. Loudly. Written by Tad Hills, the author of How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story this new book, Rocket's Mighty Words completes a literary hat trick - big score! Kindergarten gold!  The book isn't a story exactly, but more a collection of words.  Each page is marvelously labeled - one page labels parts of Rocket (nose, tail), one page labels the things around him (cloud, flowers) and one page labels the things Rocket is doing (wag, dig).  This book totally screams, "Use me for a beginning of the year lesson on labeling!" So I will. Hence the loud squeal in the bookstore. Since a lot of the kids won't be ready to write their own labels yet, I made and cut-and-paste follow up activity.  The first letter of the word is on the handout for a clue to help the kids label the dog. (There is also a version with no clues for differentiation.)

Cute Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

     The last book on tap for tonight is Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten by Toni Buzzeo.  Annie, who wears her superhero cape to school the first day, struggles with her teacher's "Gold Star" rules. By the end of the day, Annie is making gold star choices and even saves the day! I thought this would be a great read aloud for the first week of school.

Cute Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

     I hope you enjoy this bunch of ideas! If there are any new books that you think I need to add to my pile, let me know!

     On another note, I'm looking for a little help. I just finished the Alphabet Emergent Reader Library that I've been working on. There's a large book, a student reader and pocket chart cards for each letter, so it's been quite a project.  Now that I'm done, I'm a little cross-eyed and would love 2 or 3 proofreaders who would be willing to look over the books before I post them on TPT. If you can help me out and would be able to get back to me with feedback by Wednesday, I'll send you a completed set for free when they're finished!

Have a great night!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

New Reads, Book Nuts & Freebies

This is long post but if you hang in, there are some great new reads and some cute freebies for you to check out . . .

     Have you ever heard a couple of sports nuts talking about their favorite players? When they find a fellow fan, they get all excited and animated and trip all over their words. Kindred spirits sharing a passion – they could go on & on . . .  It’s quite an experience. It usually goes something like this…

Dude 1: Did you see Joe Athlete play last night?
Dude 2: OMG! He scored 32 points while pulling down seven rebounds and dishing out four assists!
Dude 1: He’s a genius!  It’s such a rush to watch him play!
Dude 2: I know! I think he’s playing even better than he was last season!

     Well, I totally had the teacher’s version of such an experience this morning at Barnes and Noble. I had a $50 gift card burning a hole in my pocket so I headed straight to the children’s section to pick up a few new releases and titles from my wish list. I ran into another teacher looking at some of the same books that I was picking up and we started chatting. We pretty quickly morphed from two calm shoppers to two very boisterous ones. It went something like this…

Teacher 1: Have you seen the new Jon Klassen book?
Teacher 2: OMG! It’s hilarious and the illustrations are fantastic!
Teacher 1: He’s a genius! I love using his books during Readers’ Workshop!
Teacher 2: I know!  I think this book is even better than his first one!

     Like the sports nuts, we were kindred spirits sharing a passion – we went on and on… until the stern librarian-looking clerk shushed us. (The nerve!)  We recommended some titles to each other and both left with a giant pile of books (I completely exceeded the gift card…). It was terrific.  If the fellow book nut from the store is by chance reading this – it was great chatting with you!

     I get absolutely giddy about a pile of new books so I rushed home, reread them all and was inspired to create some activities to go with them. I thought I would share them with all you fellow book nuts out there. (Click on the pics to download the activities.)

     The first book I found was 123 versus ABC by Mike Boldt. It's an adorable story in which the numbers think they are the stars of the book and the numbers think they are the stars. Then, along comes 1 alligator, followed by 2 bears, 3 cars . . . you get the picture.   I'm planning on reading it during the first week of school and using the sorting activity below to assess who can differentiate between letters and numbers.
Cute Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

     Next up is The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. This book is absolutely inspired - I can't wait to use it in so many different ways!  It's about a little boy who finds letters from each of his crayons stating that they've had enough - they quit!  Blue is tired of always being used to color the water and orange and yellow are fighting over the real color of the sun. (You'll have to read it to find out what happens.) My first thought was that his book will be perfect for our Writers' Workshop launch unit when we talk about different kinds of writing. It could also be used for problem solving, teamwork, and color recognition.  I LOVE a book that you can read and reread for a bunch of different lessons.  Check this one out for sure!  I thought a cute writing activity would be for the kids to pick a crayon to write back to.  In the beginning of the year, writing skills are just starting to blossom, so I made a letter template with that in mind. I can't wait to see what the kids come up with!
Cute Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

     Last up tonight is Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite by Nick Bromley.  This book is hilarious! It starts out as a retelling of The Ugly Duckling, but then a crocodile appears and starts eating the letters right off of the page.  Then he starts eating words and sentences.  Something must be done to stop him because you can't have a book without letters and words!  So . . . the reader has to try to shake him out, rock the book from side to side, etc. to try to get him out.  I won't ruin the ending for you, but it's pretty funny!  I thought this book would lend itself perfectly for a lesson on the difference between letters and words.  This cute little activity will reinforce the concept and can be used for assessment as well. The kids will glue the letters into the crocodile's belly and put the words in the fridge for him to eat later.  I think they'll get a kick out of it!
Cute Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

     I hope you can use some of these freebies with your kids.  I'll share some more about some of the other books I picked up another time. Do you have any new books to recommend?  I'm sure I can talk myself into another trip to the bookstore . . .