Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Snowy Day

The Snowy Day is my all time favorite book!  There is just something about it that reminds me of being a kid.  I didn't grow up in the snow.  In fact, I really only like the snow if I can be inside sitting by a cozy fire, drinking a mug of cocoa.  Its all pretty to look at, but this California girl prefers sand between her toes.  My dislike for the cold weather doesn't stop me from teaching about all thinks cold, polar and arctic though.  We started off the new year with The Snowy Day and followed it up with The Mitten.

We ran out of time last week for my kids to retell The Mitten story using their paper bag mitten and animals, so we will have to work on it this week.  We also made my favorite art project, the puff paint snow.  It is so easy to make, just mix white glue and shaving cream.  Paint on using a sponge brush and let it dry.  The more paint the better.  We did this on Friday so it could sit all weekend to dry.  We added Peter and they were complete.
The snowy Day, Winter, Ezra Jack Keats, snow paint
We've been working on rhyming so I added my rhyming mitten set to my Literacy Work Stations.
We've also been working on word families, so these are also in my Literacy Work Stations.
word families, the mitten, winter activities for kindergarten
For my little friends who are still working on alphabet recognition, they were working with these cards during Literacy Work Stations.
lowercase letters, the mitten, winter activities for kindergarten
All 3 activities above came from my 
This week we will continue our study of Penguins and begin to learn about Polar Bears.  I'll more to share in a few days.  Until then, hope your week is great!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Teaching Place Value in Kindergarten

When I first started teaching, kindergarten math was all about counting to twenty, number recognition to ten and maybe making patterns.  Times have changed,  CCSS has taken over and our kindergartners are becoming little mathematicians.  Growing up I hated math. I couldn't remember orders of operation, formulas and algebra might has well have been cave man writing.

At some point in my teaching career, I began to understand the foundations of math.  I began to enjoy teaching it and I learned to embrace it and love it.  Now as a kindergarten teacher, I know how important it truly is for my students to really understand number concepts.  It isn't just memorizing a bunch of facts.  They need to KNOW all about each number.

I truly love watching my students solve math problems, especially when I ask them to show me how they arrived at their answer.  Last week I had asked a student to explain how she arrived at her answer. We were working on numbers before and after "I used my brain and checked the number line" . Brilliant!!!.  I watched as she would say the number sequence ____, 14, 15  then count back to write the missing number, then check the number line just to make sure.

Lately, we've been working with ten frames, tally marks and are starting to move into the teen numbers using place value rods and cubes.  I started out just wanting a few work mats and some matching cards for my students to use during Math Work Stations.  Thus, a monster was created.  What was going to be a few simple pages turned into 200+ pages.  My students will have a ton of practice to master these concepts. I made each separate pack, then also created a bundle.  You can find each set by clicking my pictures below.
common core math in kindergarten, place value, tally marks, ten frames

ten frames, kindergarten math

tally marks, kindergarten math

place value, kindergarten math
If you have suggestions for other packs, please let me know.  Also I'd love to hear about your favorite ways to teach any of these concepts.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bright Idea: Use a Wireless Doorbell as an Attention Getter

Happy New Year Everyone.  Our Bright Idea Blog crew is back for another round of bright ideas.  To start the year off, I thought I'd share with you my favorite way to get my students attention. I know I've written about this and many other ways to grab the students' attention quickly before. HOWEVER, this is for me the BEST way and I thought perhaps there are readers who haven't seen this yet.

It starts with a wireless doorbell that can be purchased at the local hardware store or ordered on-line.  I ordered mine from Amazon.  There were a wide selection to choose from.  Some plug into an outlet, others run on batteries.  Most have a variety of tunes that they can play.
My doorbell  runs on batteries and came with two remotes.  Mine actually came with the batteries.  I keep one remote on my technology cart and the second remote next to my small group table.  I have also placed it in my pocket if I think I might need it and don't want to walk over to where it is normally located.
The doorbell part hangs on the wall using a push pin. It is about 4 inches tall.  Very small and inconspicuous, but loud enough for kids to hear.
Once I push the button, the tune begins to play and all my kids stop what they are doing. They place their hands on top of their head and look at me.  
The tune is long enough (but not too long) that by the time it ends everyone is looking at me silently.
Once you give it a try you will wonder how you ever managed without it.  

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For more bright ideas please be sure to read through all the ideas below shared by my fellow bloggin friends.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sensory Table and Sight Words

sensory table, sensory tub, kindergarten sensoryTowards the end of the summer I asked my husband to build me a few sensory tables.  I had found some directions and photos on Pinterest and together, we designed 2 tables that is perfect for my students.  I used it as a water table the first few weeks of school when it was really warm.  Then, it sat quietly in the corner of our kindergarten office.  It wasn't that I didn't want to use it, it was that I just wasn't sure how to make it academic enough.  Then it hit me, they can explore fun things while learning.

This week we are starting our Polar Animal Explorations and all things Winter.  I had found these large white pompoms in a box of craft items.  I have no idea where they came from, but the minute I saw them I immediately thought of snowballs.  Cotten balls would work too.

Next I created some sight word snowballs and a recording sheet.  Together they made fun sensory activity.
sensory table, sensory tub, kindergarten sensory
sensory table, sensory tub, kindergarten sensory
During Literacy Stations the kids explored through the tub finding the snowballs, reading the words then writing them on their recording sheet.  This is their favorite center so far.
sensory table, sensory tub, kindergarten sensory
Are you ready to create your own sensory tub?
You don't really need a table, just a container and an activity.
I have added my Snowball Sensory Tub activity to my TpT store.
You can use the words I am using or add your own words to this editable product.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

January Writing Center

I'm surviving my first week back.  The kids were really excited and some seem to have blossomed over the two week break.  Today I thought I'd share this month's writing center with you and the process I use to get my students to generate writing.  At a first glance you might think- that's not really all that impressive, but- if you knew what these little ones came in with in August, you would be as amazed as I am.
This is my writing center.  The white board in the background is for our sight words.  This picture was taken in August when the wall was empty.  The wall to the right  in the second photo, is where I place my monthly vocabulary words.
kindergarten writing, writing center, word wall, winter vocabulary
Monthly Vocabulary Words
kindergarten writing, writing center, word wall, winter vocabulary
Each week during ELA center time, I work with a small group of 4-5 students.  This week, we are going over winter clothing vocabulary.  Most of my students are second language learners, so they don't all have the vocabulary for many of the items.  This a two-way learning moment.  They tell me what it is in Spanish, then I tell them what it is in English.
winter vocabulary, ELD kindergarten, kindergarten writing, January Word Wall
After we went over the clothing vocabulary, I asked them to choose one of the times from the cards and that they own and describe it to me.  For my very limited students I offered them a sentence frame.
Once each student has had a chance to tell about their article of clothing, we begin the writing.  Depending on my students ability, I either have them write it on their own, or use the sentence frame.  Before they can begin their sentence, they must tell me again what they will be writing.  I encourage them to use the word wall of sight words that is behind me at our wiring center.  If they have difficulty spelling a word, We work together on finding it on the word wall.  If it isn't on the word wall or on the vocabulary wall, then we talk about how we can segment the words to hear the sounds and we practice that too.

My ELA groups are leveled by ability.  This works well for me during writing time, as the students who are more capable tend to want to write more and those who can't, don't feel self conscious about their abilities.

Once a student has finished their writing, they must read it back to me and then share it with the group. Together we look for positives such as "I like how you began your sentence with a capital letter", or  "You wrote neatly on the lines and used good spacing between your words".  Then we look for something that could be improved.  Perhaps they used a capital letter in the middle of a word, or forgot their ending punctuation.

Lastly, they get to illustrate their writing.  I try to impress upon them that just as it is important to pay close attention to their writing, it is equally important when it comes to illustrations.  Their illustrations need to match their words and should include details.

This student is a second language learner, her corrections were fixing a capital B in black and changing like to have.  This week I told them they couldn't use like in their sentence.
kindergarten writing, writing center, word wall, winter vocabulary
 This student I encourage to write more and be more descriptive.  He came in reading and actually attends a first grade reading group.  When writing, he asked me if the /ee/ in keep was two e's.  Apparently he has a REALLY big hat which is why it keeps him warm.  For him we are working on the details in our drawings.
kindergarten writing, writing center, word wall, winter vocabulary

 If you like my writing center cards, you can find them in my store 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

TIme to Think About School and a Freebie

Vacation is coming to a screeching halt and planning for the next few weeks has begun.  I met with my co-teaching partner early last week to get a handle on things, then left with a huge list of "Must Do's"  Slowly, I'm tackling them, but let's face it Monday morning is approaching FAST!  On my list were 3 things that I had to have completed by Monday.
So, in-between re-organizing my home and spending time with my family, I managed to get those three things finished.  It was not an easy task and a lot of coffee seemed to be involved.   I think I have an addiction to my new Keurig machine.

Here is what it all looks like
kindergarten morning work, kindergarten homework, kindergarten skills
writing center, kindergarten writing, word wall cards, January word wall
writing center, kindergarten writing, word wall cards, January word wall
This one is a Freebie for you  I plan to use it Monday as a welcome back activity.  Each student will receive either a number or the matching tally mark card.  Once all the cards have been passed out, their job is to find the student who has the card that matches their card.  
tally mark practice, tally mark cards
Lastly, I created some winter math skills pages because my kiddos need more practice. 
winter math, kindergarten math,
Enjoy your next few days off and Happy New Year!!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bring on the New Year

I love this time of year.  The holidays with family and friends are over.  I get that itch to reorganize and start the new year fresh and I have some down town to just relax and not think about school.  As a teacher we all know how hard it is to NOT think about school. My husband and I have been spending time together running errands, having dinner with friends, and doing some impromptu shopping.  We ran into Costco for 3 things- I came home with new wine glasses, a scale, a wooden tray and some food storage containers.  I'm thinking we need to stop running errands.

Today's agenda is to finish gathering all the items that we are donating to Goodwill and drop them off for that last tax deduction of the season.  I will also be doing a little shopping on TpT I need a few things for my high kids and of course I NEED some clip art.  At least all my purchases can go towards this years tax write off.  To help you out with a last minute write off- I've also put my store on sale.
and I finished my January writing centers so I will be printing, laminating and cutting those out tonight.
writing center, january word wallwriting center, january word wall
Thanks for helping me make 2014 a FABULOUS year. 
I can't wait for 2015

Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 Posts for 2014

With only a few days left in 2014, I am starting to look forward to the new year and all that it has in store of me.  However, I can't look forward without looking back first.  So many changes occurred in 2014 for me and what 2015 will bring still remains a mystery.  One thing that is for certain though is I do have some favorite posts from last year.  I had to stop I think I had more than 10.  I'm linking up with Sally from Elementary Matters.
So here they are in Chronological order

I stopped with July I know I have more favorites, but this is supposed to be a Top Ten.

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