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

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Calling All Word Detectives

     Our first marking period ended yesterday and we're knee deep in assessment. If you've been teaching for awhile like I have, you might remember the days when our report cards had objectives like, "Enjoys books" and "Colors with control." Ahh . . . the good old days . . .

     Now that we're one trimester in, all of the routines, procedures and expectations are solid and we can step things up a notch.  We just started a new Word Study plan (which I'm in LOVE with and will write about soon) and literacy stations are moving along really well. I've re-worked a couple of my stations this year to make them a little more engaging, and I'm pretty happy with the changes.

     One station that got a face lift was the Writing the Room Station. I've done this station for years, and the kids traditionally write words that they find in the classroom. I've always encouraged the kids to only write words that they can read, but especially in the beginning of the year, this can be a little tricky for some of the kids. So . . . out with Writing the Room and in with the Detective Station. Rather than finding words that naturally occur in the classroom, my little word detectives have to hunt for picture cards that I've hidden around the room.
CVC Freebie from Peace Love & Learning
     In the beginning of the year, I used cards with pictures and words on them, and the kids had to simply copy the words. (They especially like the Case of the Missing Friends when they had to find pictures of all of the kids in the class and copy their names.) Now, we're moving on to the kids finding picture cards without words and writing the sounds they hear. One of the great things about doing it this way is that it is self-differentiating.  Some kids are just writing the initial sound they hear in each word, some are writing more.  Right now, I have simple CVC picture cards and the kids are doing a great job.

     If you want to give your little detectives a chance to solve the case, you can grab the kit by clicking on the picture.  Enjoy!
CVC Freebie from Peace Love & Learning

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Little Scientists, Big Ideas

We've been working on our science launch unit and I'm so happy with how well it's been going. I have to admit, science often gets the short straw in my classroom. With reading, writing, math, and word study pressures, when something's got to give, it's typically been science.  I've made a vow this year to try harder to give science it's due.  So far, so good!

We started by making an anchor chart of all of the things scientists do. We're using sticky notes so we can add ideas as we go. (One that did not make the list - one little boy said, "My Daddy said that one day, scientists will create a pill that will stop my mom from nagging him," LMAO!!!)

One thing that is new to us this year is the use of Science Notebooks. I haven't used then before so I spent a good bit of time figuring out how I wanted to set them up.  I decided that I wanted a science notebook that would give me some structure but would also allow me to add some things along the way. I found a really cute, simple template on TPT that is working perfectly for us. (It's by Sandra Menhart and you can find it here. I also picked up her Rainbow Numbers and my kids LOVE them!)

I copied the pages single-sided, added a copy of our Anchor Chart as the first page and bound them together with my binding machine.  They look so official, don't they?

We talked about all of the different kinds of scientists that there are and the different things that they study.  I found a great Powerpoint over at Kindergarten, Kindergarten about this and the kids loved learning words such as paleontologist and entomologist. One smarty pants even noticed that many of the names ended with -gist. We added this new learning to our notebooks. This is where the format of the journal came in handy - we glued something on the left hand side, and wrote on the right - perfect!

Our next lesson was: "Scientists make observations by looking closely at things".  We talked about the importance of drawing exactly what we see - no rainbow pumpkins, please! A cute little scientist craftivity added a little variety to our notebooks and gave us a chance to practice some fine motor skills at the same time.

When my sister brought  me the last three green tomatoes from her tomato plant last weekend so they wouldn't freeze on the plant, I knew they were perfect for my next lesson: "Scientists notice changes and record them." We observed and recorded what the tomatoes looked like on Day 1, then we will draw them again when they ripen (or when I concede that since it's been a week they're probably not going to ripen and perhaps it's time to sneak in the ripened tomatoes I got today at Shoprite).
The next couple of lessons will focus on wondering, posing questions and finding answers. This "launch" unit is new to me so I'd love some ideas about where to go next. If you have some tips, I'd love to hear them. Sandra Menhart has generously donated three copies of her cute Science Notebook to give away to my fantastic followers.  I'll send one to the first three who leave a notebook tip in a comment.

I hope you have a class full of eager scientists and a year full of wonder . . .

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Even Witches Love the Common Core

Halloween is still a few days away and the energy level in kindergarten is already skyrocketing! Forget visions of sugarplums - this time of year we're dealing with visions of M&Ms and Snickers! I've always loved Halloween so I'm enjoying all of the excitement.

We've been doing a lot of Halloween themed common core activities and I thought I'd share a couple of cute ones.

I found some great Zombie eyeballs at the Dollar Tree so I grabbed a few (okay -8) packs.
Halloween Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

I thought they would be great to use with the 3-D tens frames I made (see original post here) so I made a set of cards to match.  The kids can either pick a numeral card or an eyeball card and then use the eyeballs to make their frame show the same number.  Click on the picture to grab a free set of cards. (You can use them alone if you don't have the eyeballs. . .)

Halloween Freebie from Peace, Love and Learning

Another really cute project we did was a sweet little Math craftivity. We've been working on Counting and Cardinality focusing on numbers 0-10 so I revised an old Halloween favorite to reinforce 1 to 1 correspondence.

We used Avery dot labels and made some really funky socks for our witches, and then showed how many dots we used by practiced writing the number. You can pick up the template and directions in my TPT store. I'll send a freebie to the first 3 people who comment.

Have a great night!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

12 Days of Kindergarten

   Now that we've been in school for a few weeks, we're all settling in nicely.  The kids are doing a great job learning routines and expectations, and I'm doing a pretty good job of getting out of bed at 5 am. (Ugg!)

   We had our 12th day of kindergarten this week, and it made me think of the fantastic book, The Twelve Days of Kindergarten by Deborah Lee Rose. If you've read it before, you know that it's a super cute school version of the 12 Days of Christmas and the kids love it.  It's great to use when you're working on double digit numbers and it also has incredibly funny and detailed pictures that are great for teaching how to look for picture clues.

     The book inspired to me show you some of the things we've been up to, "12 Days" style. (You can click on some of the pictures for links or freebies.) On the 12th day of kindergarten my teacher gave to me . . .

12 Leveled Book Bins
I love these new baskets from the Dollar Tree - they match the stools at my reading table.

11 Hanging Portraits
We did this great freebie from Lauren Morse for Open House.

10 Marshmallow Toes
We read an emergent reader about Marshmallow Toes and made this cute craftivity.

9 Numbered Dots
I found this adorable rug for my math center at Ikea.

8 Word Wall Pictures

7 School Buses
The kids loved making these buses from Deanna Jump's Fun with Names unit.

6 Alphabet Emergent Readers
We've been using these easy to read letter books - they work great with our new Word Study program.

5 Classroom Rules
The kid friendly, relevant graphics on these posters are great visual reminders for the kids.

4 New Table Signs
Cute Table Signs from Peace, Love and Learning - Freebie
Grab a free set of these cute signs to put in these awesome $1.00 Ikea frames.

3 Open House Frames
The kids painted and decorated cute frames for their parents for Open House.

2 Ikea Leaves

1 Freebie from Me to You!
Cute number sequencing activity from Peace, Love and Learning
Click here for this cute sequencing activity.

I hope your year is off to a great start, too!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Kindergarten Trifecta

   Tears, Tantrums and Tinkle. They're what my friend Cindy calls the "Kindergarten Trifecta" and it's hard to have a first week without them. We just finished our first week and I had my fair share of all three! It's funny how much you block out from year to year, how much you don't remember. How exhausting the first day is, how much teaching and reteaching we need for routines and expectations, how hard it is to get the kids to "Not talk on top of my words . . . Please!"
   But let's not forget all the exciting, happy things that come rushing back, too. The smell of new pencils, a fresh, empty lesson plan book just waiting to be filled, labeling everything in the classroom (alphabetically and in color order of course), the joy of eager kindergartners and the trust of wistful parents handing their little ones over to you on the first day.  My friend Sandra summed it up perfectly after dismissal on the first day as she revised the song, "There's Nothing Like A Dame" and sang out in a Broadway-worthy voice, "There's Nothing Like the First Day in Kindergarten." So very true Ms, M! But I wouldn't trade it for the world. Even with the Trifecta.
     I know a lot of you are starting school tomorrow and are gearing up for your first week. Here's a little freebie that will hopefully make things a little easier. It's so nice to send home a little newsletter after the first week to let the parents know what you've been up to, but by the time you get to Friday you're bound to be exhausted. Here's a cute, little newsletter that you can use to share the basics of your week. (Why reinvent the wheel, right?)
     I hope you all have (or have had) a great first week.  I wish you very few tears, tantrums or tinkle. (Especially any of the three coming from you, 'cause that happens during the first week sometimes, too!)

First Week Newsletter Freebie from Peace, Love & Learning

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!