Sunday, September 28, 2014

Brown Bear, Brown Bear and a Freebie

Who doesn't love the classic story Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?  It is always a favorite amongst my students.  The receptive language and the whimsical animals make it a must read at the beginning of the school year.

I introduced this book to my class last week. Although some of my students were familiar with the book, the majority had never  seen it before.  They immediately caught on to the receptive language and were able to recite the story as I read.  This story offers so many different teaching moments; retelling, sequencing, sight words, animal names and color identification, to name a few.

After reading the story a few times whole class than with partners, we worked on sequencing and retelling.  Using some picture cards for the pocket chart that I had made, we retold the story.  My focus was on sequencing, but also description.  I wanted my students to say not only the animal name, the color of the animal.  We talked about how the author use color words to describe the animal.

I also made my own student version of Brown Bear, so they could keep it in their reading Book Boxes.  During our quiet reading time, they read the books we have made.  Being that this book is easy to recite, the students feel successful as readers.  Keep reading to grab your own copy of this book.
Friday, we made a story retelling bag.  As students had completed the project, they sat on the carpet retelling the story.  A few students grabbed a copy of the book, so they could remember the character order.
Brown Bear Brown Bear, Bill Martin Jr, kindergarten books
Brown Bear Brown Bear, Bill Martin Jr, kindergarten books
Brown Bear Brown Bear, Bill Martin Jr, kindergarten books
Brown Bear Brown Bear, Bill Martin Jr, kindergarten books

You can find the bag project and pocket chart retelling cards in my TpT store.
Brown Bear Brown Bear, Bill Martin Jr, kindergarten books

Our three sight words this coming week will be I, see, and a.  This was a great way to introduce those three words.  Now for your Freebie.
brown bear freebie
Lastly, I'll leave you with this video that is fun to sing along with.

Have great week!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Parent Teacher Conferences

You might be reading this and say- How on earth can you be having these already!!!  We just finished our 25th day of school and I have now completed all my parent teacher conferences.  The rest of our school waits until November, but as a kindergarten teacher, I feel November is much too late.  We are the foundation.  we need to start strong and build up.  I don't want to wait 3 months to tell a parent that their child started kindergarten and is already behind.  So many of students did not go to pre-school or Head-Start.  The majority of my students enter kindergarten knowing less than 5 letters and many can't even write their name or count to 10.

Having these early conferences helps us to inform the parents of what their child knows and what they are expected to know by the end of the first grading period.  For many parents, this is their first realization that they need to spend time interacting with their child, reading stories, practicing counting and talking about letters and shapes.

Do these parent teacher conference guarantee a parent will all of a sudden take an academic interest in their child? No, not always.  For others however, this may be their first child and they weren't aware of the increased academics in kindergarten.  It is my job to educated the parents on ways they can help their child be successful and encourage them to become involved in the classroom and the school.

I take a quick assessment a day or two before the parent conference so that I have current data to refer to.  I've included my assessment page below just click to download a copy.
kindergarten assessment, parent teacher conferences
Our conferences our quick- we have 20 minutes, which isn't really enough time to tell the parents what their child already knows and what they will be expected to know by the end of the school year.  I then show them strategies to use at home with their child.  I always make sure to say a few positive remarks about their child, discuss any concerns I may have and leave time for parents to ask questions.  The majority of their questions revolve around homework, school lunch and wanting to know how their child behaves at school.  I also make sure to have any school forms they might still need, like lunch applications and Remind101 information.

Hope this helps, and good luck to you when you hold your conferences.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Apple Time

It's fall which means harvest time where I live.  Our county used to be known for its many apple orchards.
Sebastopol apple orchards
Now most of those orchards have been taken over by vineyards- either way it is still beautiful scenery.
Sebastopol vineyards
We have started learning about the seasons and apples in general.  We have been focussing on the life cycle of an apple and the different products apples can be used for.  
apples week, kindergarten apple unit, apple life cycle

My co-worker has an uncle who owns local apple orchard, so we were fortunate enough to get a few boxes of apples to use for are unit.  
apples week, kindergarten apple unit, crockpot applesauce
Today we made apple sauce and apple paint prints.apples week, kindergarten apple unit, crockpot applesauce
I bought one of those apple, paler, clicker, corers and Bed Bath and Beyond.  It was $19.99- then $5.00 off with a coupon.  
apples week, kindergarten apple unit, crockpot applesauce
I was a little skeptical, but that thing worked great.  The handle was easy for the kids to turn and they loved seeing the giant spaghetti like peel.
apples week, kindergarten apple unit, crockpot applesauce
 The kids cut the apples up on paper plates, then added them to the crock-pot
apples week, kindergarten apple unit, crockpot applesauce
 I added a few teaspoons of sugar and cinnamon and about 1 cup of water.  We cooked it on high for about 4 hours, then lowered it to simmer.  It is in our refrigerator for the night and we will enjoy it tomorrow.  I of course sampled some before I left today, and it is sooo good.  I think I just might make some for home, now that I know ow easy it really is.
apples week, kindergarten apple unit, crockpot applesauce
We are learning the poems and creating the life cycle book from my All About Apples Pack.
apples week, kindergarten apple unit, apple life cycleapples week, kindergarten apple unit, apple life cycle
apples week, kindergarten apple unit, apple life cycleapples week, kindergarten apple unit, apple life cycle  
 The apple prints were, fun, but MESSY!!!
apple prints, kindergarten apples, apple unit
apple prints, kindergarten apples, apple unit
apple prints, kindergarten apples, apple unit
apple prints, kindergarten apples
I hope to share some more pictures later in the week.  I also started parent/teacher conferences today.  I love getting to meet the parents and learning more about each of my students and their families.  I learn a lot of important information at these early conferences and the parents learn all about the "NEW" kindergarten- which is really just the "OLD" first grade.

Have a great week!!!

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

If you enjoyed these Bright Ideas.  Be sure to follow me on BloglovinFacebook, and Instagram.
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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

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