Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Plants and Preparing for Earth Day

We are winding down to get ready for a 4 day weekend.  When we return next Tuesday, it will be Earth Day.  Our class will performing at our morning assembly.  We've been practicing this fabulous song from Intelli-tunes, "Every Day is Earth Day"  My kids love the song and they sound adorable when they sing it.  We finally finished our Promise to the Earth writing and pictures.  I really like our final product.
Earth Day Art project for kindergarten.

The direction and templates for these are in my TpT store as this months Freebie. If you download, please follow me on TpT and leave feedback.
kindergarten Earth Day, Free Earth Day activities
This week we have also been learning about plants.
We watched Sid the Seed.
We talked about the different aspects of plants and used these cards to make our Tree Map. I was really impressed my my students' prior knowledge.
Plants in kindergarten, What they have, need and give
We finished out the day with planting some green beens.  We poked the hole with a pencil, dropped in a seed then covered it up.  Each child was able to plant two seeds in our big class containers and then another seed in our sprout houses.   We will be comparing the different growing environments.  I bought those greenhouses about 10 years ago from Lakeshore.  They look so cute in the window of our staff room.  My classroom doesn't have windows, so I have to use the windows in the staff room and my front meeting area to display the kids work. 
kindergarten plants, bean plants
If you want the Plant cards, you can get them in my TpT
Plant vocabulary cards, anchor chart
Tomorrow we will be reading this book. from my From Seed to Bean pack.
When the bell rings at the end of the day, we will depart for the 4 day weekend.
We'll be back on Tuesday for some great Earth Day fun.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Math and Literacy Station Management From Start to Finish

bright ideas blog hop
It's time again for the Bright Ideas Blog hop.  I'm a self proclaimed storage container junkie.  I think my admin said it best when she told me "I think you have a serious problem with containers".  Yes, I do.  I get all happy inside every time I walk into a store and see new storage options.  Even the Dollar Tree storage section can make me giddy. Why do I love containers so much?  The answer is really simple, they are clean, uniformed in size/color, and they contain the chaos.  What's not to love? I am madly in love with the Sterilite Large Clip containers.  I order them online from Target, it is a lot cheeper and they come 6 to a carton.
math and literacy stations With storage containers comes the notion of organization.  However just because you have containers doesn't mean you are organized.  Some people just use them to hide the mess.  I use them to make my life simpler. I use containers for everything in my classroom.  The container I am most in LOVE with our my Literacy and Math Station containers.  I have one set that I use to store the stations that are not in rotation and two other sets for my literacy and math stations that are in use. here is why I LOVE them.
  • They hold everything I need for the station.  
  • The lids are easy for the kids to open and close.
  • They stack and fit perfectly on my shelf.
So, now that I have all those fancy containers how do I use them efficiently? First, I sorted all my stations into the months that I would be using them in.  For the thematic ones that was easy.  For some of the others it was a little trickier.  I had to predict when I thought I might be working on a specific skill.  There were some items that just couldn't be pinned down to a specific month; those items went into expanding file folders with a label attached.
center storage, math stations, literacy stations
center storage
To keep each station together I use rubber bands, binder clips or ziplock bags.  When I am ready to change out stations, I begin first putting away the stations I am finished with; I usually rotate every 3-4 weeks.  Before putting them away, I make sure the station is complete.   I have a Lost and Found basket I use for items we find that didn't get put away.  If a station is incomplete, I keep it out until I can remake the missing pieces.    Next I pick the new stations I want to use.  I gather the materials it may need, like dice, a spinner, or dry erase marker, then put it all together.  Once all stations are complete I'm done; Easy Peasey!

Then it is on to the center rotation board. I regroup the pairs of students who will be working together. Right now I have them paired with the same partners for Literacy and Math Stations.  The cards with the letters and the numbers tell them which container they will be working with.  When it is time for stations; letters for literacy and numbers for math.  When it's time for stations, I call out partner names and they quickly take their tub to the designated area and begin to work.
how to rotate centers
This is my 3rd year using Math and Literacy Tubs and I love it.  It is so easy to do, once you prep them all, you have them year after year. Changing them out every 3-4 weeks saves so much time.  If you use something like this, I'd love to hear about it.  Leave me a comment below. For more bright ideas look below at all the other great bloggers who are sharing their wisdom.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Hooray for Earth Day

Earth day will be here before you know it.  I put together a little freebie n my TpT store.  If you download please leave feedback.
Earth Day, Free, kindergarten, recycle
My class will soon be learning about plants.  We will be planting beans and practicing our reading with the emergent reader from my From Seed to Bean packet.
planting beans book, emergent reader, plants, kindergarten
Last year I made Sprout Houses for our bean plants. 
You can read all about them in the blog post I wrote for Scholastic last year and download your own copy to make your own Sprout House.
Sprout house
Here are a few of my favorite books and YouTube Videos.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Farfaria- Have you Tried It?

I had never heard of Farfaria until last month.  They asked me to review their app, use it in my classroom and write a review.  So, after looking at their website, I thought what do I have to lose.  I downloaded their app to my iPad.  Then I got started browsing through their website looking through the books and listening to a few of the stories.

This little gem came in handy this week, because it is RAINING!!!!

I tried out a few of the stories this week with my class.
I really liked Boomarang Boo- it is about bullying.  We had a great class discussion afterwards

Their app has over 600 stories and 5 new stories are added each week.  Want to try it out for Free

Two lucky blog readers will each win a 3-month subscription to Farfaria, just enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

More iPad Apps and Computer Center Fun

While researching something else, I stumbled upon Mr Nussbaum Learning Fun.  I'm always looking for new ideas and new ways to introduce concepts to my kids.  They love when I connect my laptop or iPad to the projector, especially if it means we are learning a new app.  I let the kids take turns coming up and selecting the answers.

Today I found some new apps that  I know my kids are going to love.  What is even better is that many of these are FREE.  I played many iPad apps on my iMac. Here are just a few.
iPad apps FREE
iPad apps FREE
iPad apps FREE
iPad apps FREE
There are a lot more games and for many different grade levels.  Take your time learning your way around the website and have some fun.

I now have my Donor's Choose project up.  I'd love to get 1 more iPad for my classroom.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Readers Are You Ready? The Race Is On!

This is my teams year to be evaluated by our administrator.  We have the option to work in a group or solo.  Being that we work well together, it seemed logical to do our evaluation together too.  We re focussing on some of the CCSS.  We each picked standards we wanted to address and then created visual displays to  motivate students to work towards mastery of specific standards.  My two partners decided to do a racing theme for our sight words.  As the students learn more words, the number on their race car changes an they move along the track towards the finish line.  For our grade level, our kids have 40 sight words.  I've come to realized that this isn't a lot compared to other kindergartens nation wide.  For us, it is an achievable goal.  For those who have already mastered the kindergarten words, they are then given the first grade list.
sight word race
sight word race
sight word race

To make my display, I grabbed some black butcher paper from the art closet and cut way strips, then stapled together.  I had some yellow tape that I used for the finish line and I used white correction tape for the lines.  I have no idea where the cars came from, my co-workers made them for me.  I just use a dry erase pen to change the numbers and a tac to hold it on the track.  I added the red number cards to the top to help gage where the students are.  My kids love this and anxiously wait their turn to see if they can move up the track.

Assess Quickly and Save a Tree
I assess several kids a day.  It only takes a few minutes for each kid.  I have several different versions of  our sight words inside plastic sleeves.  As they read down the list of words, I am putting a dot next to each word read correctly only matching plastic sleeve.  I use a dry erase marker.  After the student reads the words, I quickly count how many and record it on my master data sheet.  I then erase the dots and am ready for the student.  This eliminates lots of paper and I only have to worry about keeping track of my master data sheet.
assessing sight words quickly
This week we are progress monitoring and I will be doing some quick check-in assessments.  Hard to believe there are less than 45 days left in the school year.  The race is on to teach everything under the sun and hope it sticks during summer vacation!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning- two words that really shouldn't be together- I love Spring, but loath cleaning.  However, I am Spring Cleaning my TPT store.  I'm slashing prices and making room for new products.

I have a huge wishlist so I too will be taking advantage of the sale to stock up on clipart and end of the year activites.  You might want to check out my latest products
Here are some other great sellers who are having a sale too.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

iPads in The Classroom- Now What Do I do With Them?

A few days ago I ask my Facebook fans how they use iPads in their classroom.  I received a variety of responses  The comments that surprised me the most are the ones saying they had no idea on what to do with them.  So hopefully I can help shed a little light on the subject.

Last November I was fortunate enough to receive 2 iPads to use in our classroom.  I began researching some apps I wanted to try.  Being that I don't have little kids, I wasn't too familiar with apps for 5 year olds.  So I did the next best thing,  I asked a 5 year old what app they were using.  Teach Me was the first app I installed.  It is still my students' favorite app to use. It was well worth the $1.99. Another app I purchased right away, was the Wet Dry App it correlates to our Handwriting Without Tears program.
 Since then I have scoured Pinterest and Google reading all about iPads in the classroom and finding what others believe to be the best apps out there.  Here is what I learned, Most free apps are just that they are Free.  Although Free is always within budget, you do get what you pay for.  However the apps you buy don't necessarily have to cost you an arm and a leg.  There are so many out there that you can probably find what you are looking for, for only a few dollars.

Here are just a few of my favorites FREE Apps.

ipad apps for kindergartenipad apps for kindergartenipad apps for kindergartenipad apps for kindergartenipad apps for kindergartenipad apps for kindergartenipad apps for kindergartenipad apps for kindergarten
I've put together a Pinterst Board of articles and ideas on how to use technology, more specifically, iPads, in the classroom.  Follow my board, I'm always adding to it.
technology in the classroom, iPads, ipods, laptops, computers
What Do You Do With an iPad or Two?
  • Centers:  iPads are part of my morning reading center rotations along with my computers.  During morning center time students use the iPads and computers to access Lexia.
  • Math Work Stations: Students access one of the many math apps I have.
  • Literacy Work Stations: Students can choose to access Lexia or another Language Arts App
  • Choice Time: students can access any educational app.
Throughout the day when the iPads are not being used for centers or Work Stations, I have an iPad User List.  The clothespins move down the list as the iPads are being used. When it is time for a student to use the iPad, they set their timer for 20 minutes and then use the app of their choice or the app I have chosen for them.  Students can take the iPad to the class library, the listening center or the quiet work table so they aren't a distraction to the other students. When their time is up, they move the clothespin to the next student on the list and tell that student it is their turn.  The system works well and it is easy to monitor and maintain.
ipads in kindergarten
Caring for the iPads 
At the end of the day, the iPads are turned off and placed in a secure location.  If they need to be charged, I place them in my charging station area.  Basically it is a power strip located behind a plastic 3-drawer unit.  The charging cords are ran through the backside of the drawers. I place the iPads in the drawer after connecting them to the charging cords.
charging iPads, iPads in kindergarten, iPad charging station
I hope you have found a few new apps to use and perhaps have picked up a few new tricks along the way for managing your iPads.  Check back soon, as I will have a new app to tell you all about.
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