Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bright Idea: Parent Communication Center

Being a kindergarten teacher, I am often a parents first school experience.  This means they don't always understand that they need to check backpacks and folders for all of the notes and such from the school, the PTA and me.  A few years ago I created a parent information center that sits outside my door.  It originally was a rolling big book stand.  I added some foam core board covered in fabric and voila the parent board was created.
parent information board, classroom news
Every morning before school, I roll it out of my hallway.  Occasionally I remind parents in the morning or after school to read the board.  This has been a great way for me to get parents to sign-up for conferences, volunteer in the classroom or to sign-up for items on special days.  On the day before book orders are due, I post a sign that reads Book Orders Due Tomorrow.  Then the following day the sign reads Book Orders Due Today.  I always leave a few extra order forms attached to the board.  This almost always gets me a few extra orders.
parent information board, classroom news
Do you have things that you need help with?  Why not try this idea.  Anytime I have something that a parent can do for me at home, like cutting out laminated item or stapling books together, i place them in a manila envelope outside my door in this box.  Parent know to take the envelopes home and turn thyme the following day.  I always place a sample inside with directions and provide the necessary tools such as scissors or a stapler.  In 20 years, I have never had any issues with parents not returning items.  This is a great way to have those working parents who really want to help- really help.  
parent volunteers, volunteer box, parent helper box
parent volunteers, volunteer box, parent helper box

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For more bright ideas, be sure to read below.  More than 100 bloggers have shared their Bright Ideas this month

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Settling In and More Apron Cards

We are settling in, we have learned routines and boy is it nice.  Today my kindlers came in, turned in their homework, loaded their binder with their new homework and all the notes that go home, put their binders in their backpacks then met me on the carpet with their calendar notebooks.  Today we did it all in under 7 minutes.  I was so proud of these guys for already knowing how to follow the morning procedures.  For the few friends who had a little trouble, their table mates were there to assist them.   I blogged about my morning routines last year.  You can read all about it here in my Managing Homework and Book Bags post.

I shared my apron last week, well the kids are loving it.  I was running around this morning and forgot to greet them with it on.  The first thing they asked was "where's the apron"
I am wearing it in the mornings as I introduce our letter of the day.
show and tell apron, phonics cards

After sharing my apron last week, I had a few email requests for some phonics cards.  So, here they are.   
show and tell apron, phonics cards
Enjoy the rest of your week- be sure to check back Saturday for the latest Bright Ideas Blog Hop.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Starting the Year With Interactive Calendar Notebooks

Although we've only been in school 18 days, we have already started our Interactive Calendar Notebooks. So far, it has been great.  I was a little nervous when my principal popped in during our second day, there I was crawling about the carpet making sure each kid was on the right page. Although it was only day 2, my kids were focussed and following directions.

So how do I start off the year.  BABY STEPS!.  I start with the calendar.  In the beginning we are just learning how to bring our notebooks to the carpet and opening to our calendar page.  Together, we review the days of the week, the month and the date.

Next (usually day 3) I add the wether graph.  I have an enlarged copy of the graph on our wall so model how to color the daily weather.

Usually about day 4, I introduce the dry erase markers and the2D shapes page along with the upper case alphabet.  After going over rules and marker usage, I tell students to trace the shape or the letter that I say.  I then trace the shape or letter with my marker, using my Elmo projector.   For those students who don't know what the letter B looks like, they can trace it after seeing it projected on the screen.  I usually do about 5 letters in the beginning, and only use letters that we have already reviewed.  As time goes on I introduce the lower case letters and the numbers.

Then comes the ten frames pages followed by the tally mark pages.  The key is to go slow.  It is easy to want to do all the pages immediately, but you are setting yourself up for failure if you do so.  In the beginning you are building your procedures and your students stamina to be able to sit and focus during this time.

I snapped these photos on Friday. By the way I  LOVE these markers from Kleen Slate.  I buy mine at Office Depot.  They have built in erasers and last all year long.
interactive calendar notebooks, calendar time
interactive calendar notebooks, calendar time
interactive calendar notebooks, calendar time
interactive calendar notebooks, calendar time
It's not too late to start Interactive Calendar Notebooks.  I buy my binders at Costco. I'm using the ones I bought last year.  They held up remarkably considering they were used daily.  I buy my sheet protectors from Costco too. 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Show and Tell: Apron Style

show and tell apron, subitize
Last year (2013) when  I was at the ITeachK conference in Las Vegas, I met Sandy.  She's a fellow kindergarten teacher who had come up with a brilliant idea.  Over the past year we had emailed a few times about her innovative product.  This past summer, we met up again at the conference. She was there this time selling her fabulous aprons.  Me being the I need things to match kind of girl, I asked her if she'd make one that went with the theme of my classroom.  I was not disappointed when my custom apron arrived.  I am the hit of the playground- walking around quizzing all the little kindergartners.

What I love even more is that it has two pockets at the bottom, I keep my reading glasses in one pocket and keys in the other.  They were really meant to carry extra cards, but for now they are holding my most needed accessories.

Today we were learning all about the number 5- notice that the last pocket is empty.  I took the 5 card out so the kids would have to count or in a perfect world conceptually subitize.

You can get your own Apron from Sandy's Store kinder-gardening over on TpT.

P.S. ignore the terrible photo of myself.  It was just one of those days- where I needed to give myself a time-out.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Play-Doh Fun for Everyone

Who doesn't love play-doh?  My favorite is the homemade kind.  I have the best recipe ever.  I actually think the recipe came from my mom.  When my youngest brother was in Kindergarten the parents took turns making play-doh for the classroom.  This recipe ROCK!  It is super easy to make and the texture is nice and smooth.  It lasts forever, as long as it is stored in a container.  I just use  Ziplock bags, or old frosting containers.

If you follow me on instagram, you may have seen me making my latest batch of play-doh.
kindergarten play-doh, play-doughm play-do, playdoh
Well, I wanted a dark blue play-doh.  the problem was, I didn't have enough blue food coloring, so I added just a touch of black, thinking that would turn my light blue a little darker.
play-doh recipe, kindergarten play-doh, play-doughm play-do, playdohplay-dough recipe kindergarten play-doh, play-doughm play-do, playdoh
As I kneaded the play-doh, it started turning dark, then darker, then black.  It was late and I just didn't feel like staying up to make another batch.  
play-doh recipe, homemade play-doughhome made play dough
 I thought for sure my kids would be grossed out by it, but NO, they thought it was really cool.
play-doh mats, play-dough mats for math
play-doh mats, play-dough mats for math
play-doh mats, play-dough mats for math
play-doh mats, play-dough mats for math
The mats are from my Play Dough Number Mats
I printed them on red card stock.  They can be printed on any color of paper you'd like.
play-doh mats, play-dough mats for math
Now for the recipe
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • Food coloring

1. Mix the flour, salt, and cream of tartar in a large pot.
2. Mix water, a few drops of food coloring, and oil together in a bowl, then add to the dry ingredients. 
3. Cook the mixture for 3–5 minutes on low/medium heat while stirring constantly. Make sure you scrape the sides and bottom of the pot as you stir. Add more food coloring if needed.
4. The dough will start to pull away from the sides of the pot and form a ball.
5. Take it out of the pot when it begins to have a VERY faint brown skin. Place it on a counter or cutting board.  
6. Knead the dough until it becomes soft and smooth. 
7. When the dough is cool, store it in an airtight bag or container. I like to use frosting containers with color-coded labels.

Need some labels for your containers? 
These are free in my TpT store.
play-doh labels, play-dough labels FREE
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alphabet play-doh mats
alphabet play-doh matssight word play-doh mats

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Learning Our Letters

Although it is a short week, it still feels long.  We have been in school for 11 days.  Routines are starting to take shape.  I'm loving my 19 little new friends.

 Each day we focus on a new letter.  So far we have worked on A-K.  We start each morning with a circle map, then we work on a finding that letter in a letter hunt page. We end the day with a letter craft.

I've also made a few Power-points with the letters we have learned, each day I add a new letter.  Each morning I go into the slide sorter and mix up the slides.  Just in case they have memorized the letter order.
alphabet power points.
The group I have this year needs LOTS of practice.  I just finished DIBELS and most of my kids don't know any letters.

Here are a few of our morning circle maps.  I use the black and white pictures from my Beginning Sounds Sorting Pack.
We add any classmates names to the list if their name begins with that letter.  They love looking at each others name tags to see if their friends name belong on our chart.  We are slowly learning the difference between if our name begins with the letter or if the letter is in our name.

Next we head to our table to search for the letters.  The kids are working on letter recognition and basic coloring skills.  Little by little they are getting better at coloring within the lines.  

I always mix in some letter videos that I have saved to my YouTube channel.  We've watched several Alphabet ones, but these are our favorites so far.

Do You Know The Alphabet?
By Mr. Harry

What Do the Letters Say?
By HAve Fun Teaching

I like to end our day with some sort of letter craft.  I've created a few and have used some from Simply Kinders Alphabet hats and Rowdy n Room 300 Alphabet Craftivity Mega Pack. Both packs give me a variety of fun, crafty letters activities.  
alphabet hats, letter craft hats
alphabet craftivity
letter e craft, elephant craft.
Her is our letter G craft that I created.
alphabet craft, letter G craft, g is for gumball
Click the picture to download the templates.
G is for gum ball, alphabet craft, letter G craft

I'll be back with more in a few days.  Make sure you follow my youtube channel to see all the videos we will be using this year.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Apps for Teachers

I love apps that make my life easier.  Recently I found a few apps that make using my laptop with PPT presentations even easier.  I used to stand at my projector cart to scroll though my presentations.  I finally gave in and bought a remote that would synch with my macbook so I could stand up front and talk to my kids while showing them my presentation slides.  Well, good thing I didn't open that box.  No need for a $20 remote.  I have my iPhone and I now have an app that syncs with my macbook.  I tested it out at Back to School night and it worked perfectly.
Here are a few images of my PPT slides.
teacher apps, PPT presenter, Power Point remote
teacher apps, PPT presenter, Power Point remote
teacher apps, PPT presenter, Power Point remote
The app is called My Point Power Point Remote and it is FREE
teacher apps, PPT presenter, Power Point remote
There are a few others.  It is Free if you only have 15 slides or less.  For the extended version it is $9.99
teacher apps, PPT presenter, Power Point remote
This last App I haven't used, but I have seen my colleague use it. Rowmote is .99 and the Pro version is $4.99
teacher apps, PPT presenter, Power Point remote

Need to dictate something or too tired to type, why not try Dragon Dictation
dragon speak, teacher apps
Use it to connect with your parents.  Send reminders for special school events, reminders about book orders and so much more.
remind101 teacher apps.
Last- it isn't an app, but it is my latest creation.  
class management cards, free choice, kindergarten centers
Hppy Teaching.  Hope you enjoy the extra long weekend.

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