Saturday, July 23, 2016

Number Sense and Rekenrek Clarification

One of the most important concepts that we can teach in Kindergarten is Number Sense. It is a very, very important building block for children's math skills int he future. Because of this I built a class set of rekenreks last year:

I have also seen them created with just card stock or poster board.

This was an idea that I found on Pinterest from Kathy Griffin:

I've been asked the drill bit I used and the measurements. So, as an update I took some pictures! (I'm a total visual learner!) The drill bit that I used was 1/4" drill bit to create the hole. Here's the picture help:

They are about a thumb width apart... don't worry- an actual ruler measurement is in the next picture ;)

They are about a centimeter apart.

And about 16 centimeters apart..

Do you need more math ideas? Check out these daily math questions for interactive notebooks!

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Fitness Friday: Stick with your goals!

Earlier this month I blogged about my goals. So.. sticking with my goals, here are some amazing resources that I found to help us on our 'Fitness Friday'.

All of these (and more) can be found on my Fitness Pinterest page.

I found this just this past week and am in L-O-V-E with this idea of motivating yourself each day with a reward.

(Click on the image to be taken to the original pin to make it a bit easier to see.)

This is my motivational quote for this school year:

Every year has stress.. the trick is to find a productive outlet that is NOT eating chocolate (talking to myself on that one)!

Don't forget to check out our Fitness for Teachers page on Facebook. It is a NO AD group. You can get motivation, support, and ideas without being hit up to buy products or join programs--promise!

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Thursday, July 7, 2016

School Year Goals: What are yours?

Every school year, to me, is like New Year's. So I love to set goals each year! I thought it would be even more fun to see everyone's up on Instagram and across blogs. Check out mine and feel free to share your own!

#1- My summer book study is all about Making the Most of Small Groups with Debbie Diller. I am loving it and can NOT wait to implement all that I have learned in her book! It's my goal to really make sure to use my small groups to their full potential this year!

#2- A blogger friend of mine, Lauren, and I have started a facebook group specifically for teachers to get fit. If you'd love to join check it out here: Fitness for Teachers. It's just teachers- NO ADVERTISING allowed! It's a great place for encouragement and advice from others who really get how hard the schedule and obstacles are!

#3- Oh, man, balancing. This is the toughest one. Over the years of teaching, making my family come first has gotten easier- even with sports, dance, and gymnastics thrown in. School will always be there and you get what you can done each day. But this year, for the first time in 9 years, I'm throwing in college to get my Specialist. I can do it :) But it will be a balance!

#4- Keep sharing! I have gotten back into blogging this summer as I have really, really missed it! Now that I'm settled at my new school and back in Kindergarten, I feel like I really have more to share and feel confident in doing that. I can't wait to be able to show you all that I have planned for this year!

Now, your turn!

Right click to save/download. Add your text in any program of your choosing, save, and share! I can't wait to see what your goals are too!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Making the Most of Small Groups- Chapter 3 & 4: Grouping and Comprehension

Welcome to week 2 of Making the Most of Small Groups!

This week we are looking at Chapters 3 & 4: Grouping and Comprehension

Let's look at chapter 3 first. When I want to group my students for small groups, how do I start?

That dreaded word.... assessment. Now, some times assessments do give us useful information for our students... it's when they duplicate the assessments and give them a new name. but I digress.... At the beginning of the year I usually do a DRA on my students to find out how my students need to be grouped. You can also group by subject/focus. 

But with Kinder-babies I start off with their DRA levels. Your first freebie is how I track these levels through out the year. Click below:

What are the students doing while I assess? 

Well, you really have 2 options.

Option #1- Give them something new to do.
- A writing and drawing activity.
-Play dough letters or sight words
-Creating art
- Independent reading

Option #2- IF you have support or your students are well trained, have them do their normal routine. I like to assess during centers because the other students don't normally focus in on what the child at my table is doing.

How do I keep up with my groupings?

There are tons of ideas out there! I have a lot of them pinned on my Guided Reading Board. One way is to have a flexible grouping sheet. I've created a pretty one for you to have all ready to go at the beginning of the school year! Just click below:

Chapter 4: Comprehension

I have to say that I L-O-V-E the chapters that Debbie Diller has on the actual focus of lessons. BUT I'd feel like a huge copy cat if I shared lots and lots of her ideas. So instead, I want to show you the most meaningful part that I got out of this chapter:

"Comprehension is understanding."


"are we teaching decoding or reading?"

Decoding = a student can sound it out or read it

Reading = a student can answer questions about the text that they just read

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Easy Prep to Save Headaches in the New Year

One of the things I have struggled with each year of my 9 years of teaching: name plates.

I have tried lots of different options:

name plates as they come
hot gluing them down
taping them down
using adhesive pockets
self adhesive name plates
laminating them and then taping them down
laminating them and then hot gluing them down
no name plates
writing names on the table/desk with sharpie
names on the chairs and not the table

So far, this is the VERY best way I have found. Now, I know that not everybody is the same... but sometimes it helps to go with a tried and proved method. Here's what I had last year:

I laminated them at school and then put them on... HOW I put them on is a BIG TIP! But first let me show you what I'm changing this year.

My name plates lasted until almost mid-May by laminating them at school. So, this year I decided to switch it up and laminate them at home.

If you don't have a laminator at home, I highly suggest it! This is only $30 and has saved me so much time over the past few years! The laminating pouches make everything nice and thick so they are very sturdy and hold up really well! The only things I have laminated at school now are larger posters.

Once I have them laminated and cut out, I will use my secret weapon. Ready to find out what it is? Voila!

Yes! Velcro dots! These are the best things E-V-E-R!


Well, what you do is place the same velcro dot on the back of your name tags like so....

And then on your tables you place the other side. This is the magic because we all know that we will have to move our kids seats eventually during the year. This way all the name plates will be able to be moved to all spots and will line up with the velcro dots there!

Here's how I make sure to get each of the dots perfectly aligned:

I put the other side of the velcro on before flipping it over and sticking it to the table.

I promise, if you try this- you will be thanking me!!

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

It's a work in progress!

I went into school for a little bit yesterday to try and get some things done. Man it always seems to take forever! And it ALWAYS seems to get worse before it gets better! But here's a peek at what we got done for now:

This picture makes my heart so stinking happy! My book boxes were not on this book case last year but they fit P.E.R.F.E.C.T.L.Y. on it today. I couldn't believe it!

This will be my small group table for this year. I moved it down from where it was last year. I tried out having 2 meeting areas but I really only used 1 over the other. So to make sure that I can actually use my tiny white board this year, I put my table in front of it and will use it during small groups.

I tucked my computer back behind my easel so I can use it when I need it but otherwise it's out of the way. I love my old-school wooden chairs :) I am going to look for a small rug to put on the floor for my students to read on with their book boxes. This is normally one of my literacy centers and it will have it's very own spot this year :)

Near my sink I am going to put a table for small groups. This table was my writing table last year but it really wasn't put to the best use. I'm hoping this will be better this year!

One project I wanted to get done during post planning was to reorganize and label my math manipulatives. I did and it looks fabulous! Of course... it's underneath the red paper at the moment. Look for them during my classroom reveal later in July!

Have you worked in your classroom at all yet?

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

How do you PLAN and ORGANIZE for your small groups?

Welcome to week 1 of my book study on Debbie Diller's 'Making the Most of Small Groups: Differentiation for All'. I've read through chapters 1 and 2 to be able to share some great information AND (not 1, not 2..) several freebies!

Without further ado, Chapter 1! Debbie began her book talking about what we know is one of the most common hurdles for teachers: TIME. It's definitely a 4 letter word ;)

Some of the most important tid-bits that I got from the brilliant Debbie are these:

** There is no such thing as a perfect schedule**

We all have something about our schedules we might not like. But we always make it work. So, keeping that in mind, think about what you need to fit in AND what does your county require. My county wants me to do a core reading time and a supplemental reading time. On paper, that's what it is. In real life, it's all one big block where my core reading consists of a mini-lesson and literacy stations that turn into the supplemental time. While my students do stations, I pull for groups.

** Consider your kids and then the curriculum**

We are required to teach the curriculum and get it all covered. We always do BUT keep your kids in mind when scheduling. If you know that they can't handle assessments in the afternoon, rearrange and do them in the morning. If they need extra settle-down time before a lesson can begin, build in a review game that's calming or a read aloud.

**Make sure to break it down**

Your lessons should be broken down into: whole group, small group, and one-on-one. It's SUPER important to meet with every student 1:1 at least once a week if not more often. 

To help with thinking about how to do that, here's your first freebie:

Chapter 2: Organizing

**Make sure that everything is within reach! In the picture above I had my guided reading books, pointers, lesson plans, and more all right in reach!

**Slowly introduce small groups. It helps that in Kindergarten we start out the year teaching the letters. Since I do a condensed alphabet bootcamp,  I also introduce a new center each day. 
For example, day 1 half the students do a handwriting/coloring sheet and the other half does play dough letters.
Day 2, 1/3 does handwriting, 1/3 does play dough, 1/3 does letter sort.
Day 3, 1/4 does handwriting, 1/4 does play dough, 1/4 does letter sort, 1/4 meets with me for a letter activity.

We keep up this routine until we have done all the letters. By then we have made sure to instill our expectations about small groups, centers, and how to behave during both.

**Make sure to always have a plan!** 

I have used my planning pages for years now and they help keep track of SO much!

Look! Another freebie! This is one of the most important things you can have at your small group table: a notification to your students that they need to stay back because you have a group going on. In Debbie's book, she had teachers who used a certain stuffed animal that held a sign. I've also had a stop sign that was attached to a standing up pocket chart like this one:

Here's your very own sign for your table top! There are several to choose from:

Don't forget! Next Wednesday I'll share about Chapter 3: Grouping and Chapter 4: Comprehension. Make sure to come back!

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Top 5 Teacher Ideas Ever

After blogging for awhile, I love to go back and look at all the ideas I've collected over the years (10 this year! Eek!) These are the top 5 most amazing blog posts and ideas from my blog. Maybe you could use one this year?

When I taught 5th grade, I made sure to incorporate STEM as much as possible in my science class. This was definitely my student's favorite!

When I went to Kindergarten (my favorite!) I needed a rug... but they don't grow on trees and neither does money. I eventually got one from a project on Donor's Choose. But before that I needed something to help. I found these from a company called Sit Spots. They are fabulous!

Have you heard of Laura Candler? She has amazing resources in her store and on her website. This product was one that I had an amazing time using in my kinder classroom. It helped to really hit the DOK on all levels with my students. She has them for all grade levels!

Once upon a time, I had an amazing guest poster who share the idea about Magic Back to School Playdough.... and my back to school has never been the same since! Seriously, your students will think that you are THE BEST!

A parent favorite is this little gem that I have used for all 4 years that I have taught Kindergarten. The sweet little hand prints are to die for!

So many great ideas are being added all the time on Pinterest that it's hard to keep up. BUT sometimes it's even better to look back and see what you've done before and might have forgotten.

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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Interactive Letter Ipad Center

Last year I found these amazing letters:

They interact with a free ipad app. So you buy the letters and get the app as a bonus. They also have them as numbers now too! 

I had several gift cards from students and finally ordered some off of Amazon earlier this week. They came in the mail yesterday and I opened them right then!

Check these out:

The app took maybe a minute to download and I started playing with it. My 6 year old came over and wanted to know what I was doing... so I let her try it out too!

She loved it! She definitely would have kept playing except that ipad battery died. I haven't charged it this summer and it was on 5% when I started. Oops!  I can't wait to use these this year. I even have a Donor's Choose page set up to hopefully get some more!

For now, they'll hang out in the cute pouch that comes with them!

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Saturday, June 25, 2016


I L.O.V.E. when it's an awesome mail day! Today was one of those days!

I had 2 amazing students give me Amazon gift cards at the end of year and since I stink at buying for myself I used the to buy things for this upcoming year. Check it out:

Paw prints for names in the hallway

Paw prints for names where they hang their backpacks

Velcro to put their name plates on their desks- 
I have found that if I laminate the name plates and then put them on the table with velcro, they last ALL year! I tried it last year and it actually worked!

Play dough is a must so I ordered 2! For some reason green is the cheapest on Amazon but that's fine with me because it's my favorite!

These will be perfect for my back to school treats I give the children at open house. I always put pencils and what not in them. The one consistent item I ALWAYS put in is an 8 pack of crayons. SO many children don't have crayons these days!

Name plates for their tables. We are the Cougars... hence all the paw prints! Plus we also do a phonics program that wants the children to point to letters and such. I'm hoping these will help save time so we don't have to pass out the alphabet strips every time we need them.

This is my favorite purchase! I have a post dedicated to this coming tomorrow. I'll make sure to link to it once it's up. I have been wanting these for a while and finally bit the bullet and did it!

What are your must have purchases?

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