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 . . .