Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Snowy Penguins and Vowels

Happy New Year! Hopefully, I can get back onto a blogging schedule! Like many of you, I have had to do revamping and added to my workload with the new Common Core Standards. I am finally feeling like I can breathe. Our district added some new things this year and I was trying hard to get a feel for them and become confident in using them.

My Christmas was wonderful and I am enjoying that I have some extra time now to create some new things and that I am able to work on some things in my classroom. Today I created a Penguin vowel sort for a center activity that my students can do first thing in the morning (bell work) or that can be used during Guided Reading. Click the orange words Snow vowel Sort next to the image below to find this activity in my my TPT store. Thank you and I hope you enjoy!
I will be adding this center to my TPT store. For a limited time I will be offering this item for 1.00. Then the center activity will be 3.00. I hope that you will leave feedback for me at my TPT store if you like the activity! This is a 28 page packet and has several words for each vowel. I like that this packet uses some of the usual CVC words but also has some  4 and 5 letter words that have blends in them or belong to a word family.
I have made the cute little penguins the sorting mats for the vowel word sort. I created this activity to help my kids sort but also help with blending and reading words. My class can always use extra help in this area. I really dislike worksheets and I find that activities like this are a great way for my students to work together and work on valuable social skills at the same time!
The words are written big enough to read and using a font that is easy for the students to read. You can cut the snowflakes out as squares or if you are like me I will be cutting around the actual snowflake because I like the look better.
I have included a recording sheet if you decide to use this in Guided Reading. I like to laminate them and let the students use my Vis a Vis markers to write the words. It makes it more fun and is a great way to work on fine motor skill.s.

Here is to 2013 and being able to blog again! Oh, how I have missed being in touch with the blog world!


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Maps, Geography, a Project Based Learning Project

We have started our Project Based Learning Project for the year! I have broken my reading curriculum into the 7 continents. We will be exploring what a map is, what a globe is, where we live: city, state, country and planet. This project will be student led by their interests in the topics. This week we introduced the terms map and cartographer! We explored maps and discussed what maps do, what kind of information can be shown on a map, who uses maps and why would you use a map? I gave my students opportunities to use higher order thinking skills and deduction skills while they explored maps in small groups.
We read part of the book "Me on the Map" by Joan Sweeney. Then we asked I wonder questions and did comparing and contrasting when exploring the pages of the bedroom of the little girl and the map of the little girl's room. I had my students share ideas with their partners and then let their partners share ideas with them. This activity is a great way to help children acquire language and learn to express themselves clearly when making connections to their world.
Students collaborated and shared ideas about what a map was for and why a map would be important.
We used our Reading Strategies (Good Readers make a movie in their minds and ask questions.) These students were asked to think of their favorite area in the classroom and how they would tell a new student where that area is found in the classroom.
I am really looking forward to doing this project all year and the great discussions we will have together! I expect that my students and I will be learning and growing together through this project!
Have any of you done Project Based Learning project with Kindergarten? If so, could you give me some pointers and tips that would help us to get the most from learning this way?

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Review of a Sharpener that Sharpens Like No Other

First, I want to apologize for not blogging during the summer. I decided I needed to be with the family and travel. We had a good summer and now it is back to business. We started back to school August 16th. My class is wonderful and can I say what a difference it makes in having two extra set of adult eyes in the room at the beginning of the year! I have a student teacher and a para in the room. I can't believe how much faster learning procedures has been with the extra eyes to watch what is happening. Makes me wish for smaller classroom sizes or more help! I have my student teacher until October 4th and I will be so sad to see her go! Now onto business, I received the opportunity to try out a new sharpener I saw on Pinterest. I was super excited to try the sharpener from Classroom Friendly because of the reviews I saw on Pinterest. Now, as you know I teach kindergarten and I was sad to say that I was disappointed with the sharpener and its performance in my kindergarten classroom for my little guys. In all fairness it was not the sharpener's fault. The sharpener is just not made with little people in mind. I tried to sharpen their pencils for them but it was difficult because the pencil hole was not really made for the size pencil we use. We choose to use Ticonderoga Laddie Pencils. I think if the pencil sharpener could be adjusted to a bigger size and be suctioned cup down instead of the C-clamp style it would be more suited to my students. I do have to say that for my own personal use I love how quiet the sharpener is. I do not like the clamp and prefer to hold the sharpener myself while sharpening. I LOVED how sharp the pencil got and was super impressed that it did not break like I expected it to the minute I started writing! In fact, it never did break and I applied a fair amount of pressure to it! The pencils I sharpened for my kinders did not break either! http://classroomfriendlysupplies.com/
I felt bad, I don't want to write a review like that so I sent the sharpener down to the second graders to try because I felt they would be able to maneuver the sharpener better. I am sad to say that the teacher and students were frustrated with the sharpener too. Once again, it turns out the same suggestions I had for making it work with Kinders seems to be the same issues the second graders had. I still did not want to leave a review on that note! My husband teaches high school. I decided to send the sharpener with him. My husband teaches 9-12 grades. He brought the sharpener to school and had his classes try it out. He had his 5th hour class write reveiws after sharpening their pencil with the sharpener. I am happy to say the older students LOVED the sharpener! Here are some of their review: It is easy to use and it makes your pencils sharp! It is smooth and sharpens fast. It was really cool and AWESOME! I like the pencil sharpener, I would buy it! I LOVE this pencil sharpener! So pointy and doesn't break. It's a miracle!! Fascinating! The pencil sharpener is one of the best I have used. It sharpens so quickly and you hardly have to turn it and because it sharpens quickly thre is less shreddings. It gets the pencil very sharp! It is cool and something I have never seen! It was easy to use and worked really good! It's really easy to use and it leaves the pencil sharpened. I LOVE this pencil sharpener!!:D And it is a fun sharpener to use! It is a really good sharpener to me and it is an easy sharpener and fun sharpener!!! =) It's very nice, I love the point. This pencip sharpener is amazing. 10 out of 10!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Classroom Tour

TBA's Ultimate Linky Party
I am participating in the Ultimate Teacher's Linky Party! You should check it out. There are so many great blogs and bloggers sharing a plethora of information. Click the link above to check it out. Now onto my classroom tour! I have been busy organizing the classroom and getting things ready for August! The pictures below show my classroom. Keep in mind it is a work in progress :)

Looking toward the entry of the classroom and cabinets.

Carpet area looking towards cabinets.

From the entryway looking back towards the word wall.

My favorite place to hang out...the diner of course!

Entryway looking towards carpet and calendar area. I put a lot of resources up under the board and on the cabinets as visual reminders to help students to remember to use their resources when they may not know the answer or need a reminder.

My Pinterest inspiration was to make a rubric for my kinders. I put the rubric with the anchor charts about background details. We will be using this a lot from November on. Probably not as much in the first three months. Although, I am thinking about making a rubric for coloring and handwriting to give my students more visual cues.

I have decided to use ClutterFreeClassroom's hand signals this year. I am hoping this will help with some of the disruption during the day.

I decided to add the ordinal positions to the days of the week to incorporate it with the calendar time.

I also decided to try the Bingo class management in order to praise students when they have learned a procedure and done it properly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Mother's Day Tea Invitations

I was thrilled to find this free teapot template and teacup with poem on www.teacherspayteachers.com ! I like this template much better than the one I used in previous years because it is bigger and easier for the students to color and add their personality to it for their mommas. It was also more fun to add a slit and slip a bag of tea into the invitation. I used Vanilla Carmel tea bags mmm mmm yummy!
If you do a Mother's Day tea, you should check out the free Mother's Day items on www.teacherspayteachers.com !

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Main Characters, Setting and Character Analysis Whose Garden Is It?

These are from Deanna Jump's Reading Graphic Organizers! I just love them! We have been working on the story "Whose Garden Is It?" from the Scott Foresman Reading Street Curriculum. This week we discussed where the story took place, who were the main characters and who were the other characters in the story. We also did a character analysis of Mrs. Magee. I just love their illustrations! Aren't they precious?

Friday, January 20, 2012

As a group we used a graphic organizer to organize what we have learned about penguins.
After we used the branch chart and discussed what a penguin has, can, and likes the students colored a penguin template and wrote a sentence about one thing they learned about penguins.

After doing the writing project, I added lines to the penguin template to use next year. We all learn as we go. I learned that it would have been easier to have the lines. I also think next time I will have them make an illustration under the writing on the belly of the penguin.

This student has great problem solving skills look how ingenious he is! He used the word that was already on the template and wrote his sentence after. I only had 2 students who did this!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Little Panda Literacy and Writing

To go with our reading story "Little Panda" we have been learning about Panda Bears which was a good addition to our Bears and Hibernation unit. The kids love Panda Bears. This week we started out learning about Pandas and Panda Kindergarten. The students were definetly intrigued with Panda Kindergarten. Go figure....you know it might be that connection to self thing working ;) Who knew?

After reading "Little Panda" I had the students write their favorite part of the story. Before writing they had to close their eyes and think about their favorite part of the story. I had them visualize in their minds their favorite part and why it was their favorite part. After about 30 seconds, I told them to turn to their neighbor and whisper what their favorite part is. Then students swapped. Whoever told now became the listener and whoever listened became the teller.

I have made the decision to accept ALL forms of writing. When kids are ready they naturally will write like the above sample with no help. As long as a student can tell me what they wrote I will accept it. The key is you have to tell me what it is you wrote. I tell them if they can't read it to me, then how am I supposed to read it. Out of 22 kids and over 1/2 are ELL or Non I have children in all stages of writing.

I am fortunate this year to have some very talented illustrators this year too! The students loved writing while I played soothing instrumental Christmas music in the background. The students were very intent. I have modeled writing since day 1 in our classroom. We will be doing more and more free writing throughout the rest of the year.

I have Netflix and they have some great Panda documentaries and one is about the Panda Kindergarten. We watched it last year and the students LOVED it. I have to admit those little guys are pretty darn addictive! I am hoping the movie will be here in time for us to watch it nex Monday!

After panda bears we will begin looking at the North and South Pole. We will be learning about Polar Bears, reindeer, penguins and more Oh MY! Lots of great activities and fun things to do in store.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Goldilocks and the Three Bears

Shhh...the bears are hibernating in Kindergarten! Each year for our Hibernation Unit myself and the other Kindergarten teacher in my building decorate our doors like bear caves. We put large eyes for the bear and small eyes for the critters. After we start getting snow, we spray fake snow around the caves! The kids love it. I posted a poem on my door called Big Old Bear. It talks about hibernation.

This week we read many versions of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It was interesting hearing my kinders reason and make connections. My class decided that Goldilocks was a very rude little girl. When I asked them why they thought she might be rude. I got back some surprising answers, some of the kinders felt Goldilocks did not have anyone to take care of her and teach her manners. At the end of the story, I asked my students what they thought happened to Goldilocks some thought she went home and the bears went to talk to her parents. Some thought that the Bears found Goldilocks and took her in to live with them. I thought it interesting that the students who suggested the Bears take Goldilocks into their family were the same students who live with other families. Great connections were made! Below are just two versions of the story we read. I think we read four different versions all together.

We learned a cute poem called Three Brown Bears to the tune of Three Blind Mice.

 We also read class books made from the previous years.

We read our Teddybear Teddybear Emergent Readers. We brought bears to school and then drew and described our bears. We practiced reading our color words with a color word emergent reader called Brown Bear Brown Bear. After reading the book we highlighted the sight words in the reader.

We made puppets so that we could retell the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

We sorted and graphed gummy bears and then ate the gummy bears YUMMY! We discovered what porridge is and taste tested porridge with a delicious choice of toppings. We answered the question "Do you like porridge?" and will be analyzing our data on Monday and compiling a graph.

We had an exciting week continuing our unit on Bears and Hibernation. Next week we will be reading Little Panda and learning more about Panda Bears.