Thursday, September 20, 2012

Oh how, oh how do you do....?

I always want to know how other people organize in their room. I think that's one of the things that I pay the most attention to when surfing the internet. Below is how I set up my centers rotation. I thought that you all might be interested in seeing how I organize all my new centers. I love how simply and easy this is plus it is easily changed as well.

The white index cards have the names of the students in each group. Below the cards are the picture/task cards for the centers that the students will be completing. They do two centers each day-- each lasting about 20 minutes. The kids are loving this. I'm hoping by next week I'll be able to have guided reading groups started while the kids do their centers. Some of them will definitely be sad to miss out on their favorite center one day but I'm hoping that encourages their attention to stay on me in hopes of finishing quickly :)

Keep on a look out for an upcoming giveaway! I'm so excited!!!

Monday, September 17, 2012

AH-mazing Literacy Stations

I had the best day today! No, strike that.. I had an AH-MAZING day! I changed up a couple of things in my room... like... my schedule, my room layout, and how I was teaching. Just one or two small, itsy, bitsy things!
Don't you love it?! One of the things that I've been struggling with this year is that my class is so different from last years (lots of fall/winter birthdays and this year is spring/summer birthdays). I thought that I would share my great literacy centers that I started today. BTW, these ideas are not super original but they are definitely worth repeating! I got all of these from my great co-workers (who have taught Kinder waaaaaay longer than me!)

To start with, we have the infamous listening station. I LOVE our new listening center!! Our Kindergarten don't usually ask for a whole heck of a lot, but since we are really, really pushing technology we asked for some new listening centers. Luckily, we even got to pick them out :D This is what we picked:

Why do they look so cool you ask? What is that box and holder under there you would like to know? Well, they are so very super cool because they are WIRELESS! My kids could sit ANYWHERE in our room and be able to listen to the story! How awesome is that?!?! No more fighting with cords or that they can't reach the book etc. It's awesome!

Our computer center was a very popular one! (Translation: several kids were in tears until they figured out they will get to do computer on another day) I have them all set up on Pebble Go right now. It's an awesome website that is all about non fiction. It also reads everything to the kids, has short movie clips to further understand, and even offers sound bites. The kids loved it!

Writing center this week has the students writing their friends' names. I simply wrote their names on sentence strips, my helper glued their pictures and laminated, and then we posted them on the board. The paper they write on came from a co-worker. It says 'My Friends' at the top and then has 8 lines below (big spaces). So easy. Not fancy. But it teaches that valuable skill of copying from environmental print. So very important for using a word wall during writing!

 Poetry center: This is such a great one! The kids had a great time putting the poem back together. This picture shows it all put together. I actually had 4 of the pieces taken away and the pictures at the bottom. I had the students put the poem together and place the pictures on top of the right words. Then they had pointers to practice reading the poem.

 Big Book center- This center was one that the kids were really excited about too. (Seriously, they were excited about all of it! lol) Several of my students have really, really wanted gotten into playing teacher during our developmental center time. So, for them to have my pointers and my "teacher" big books... it was pretty much heaven for them!
 Sight word/Word work center was pretty cool for them too. In my hardware organizer are lots and lots of magnets. There are drawers for each of the letters of the alphabet PLUS word family magnets too. The kids had a great time building their words (found in the little basket)... I think the only thing I will change will be to hang up our words in a pocket chart. It'll make it easier for the kids to read the words.

In addition to these centers, I also have Read to Self, Read with Someone,  switching out our classroom library books, and our word familiy center.

I'm going to keep improving my centers a little bit at a time. I love seeing everyone else's great ideas. I'd love it if you'd share: What is your favorite literacy center?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

B-I-G accomplishments!

I had a H-U-G-E accomplishment yesterday. We have finally started to wind down the explicit instruction of our letters. From here on out it will be more of a review and reinforcement for the kiddos. Since we are starting our literacy centers/ Daily Five, I really needed to teach the kids about their special green baskets.

You may remember this picture from my classroom walk through:

Each of my students have their own green 'Just Right Book' basket that they keep in their cubby (or on top since I am short on cubbies). I taught the students all about picking out their books. They get to fill their baskets from here:

I have my library organized just like an upper grades would: by level and by theme. I have the kids pick 2 of the leveled readers and 3 of the big books (just regular books). This works really well for them since they are going to be completing two other literacy centers and then doing their Read to Self.

The kids also have in their baskets books we have made as a class: Brown Bear emergent reader, My Colors emergent reader, and our word family books. We started our word families using the -at family today. The kids did so great!

Next up is introducing literacy centers. Last year I strictly did the Daily 5. Well... minus the listening station. This year I'm going to do what a fellow co-worker is doing and combine Daily 5 with literacy centers. I can't wait to see how it works out :)

How do you do reading in your classroom?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Letter Centers... with a GIANT freebie!!

Any one who works with kindergarteners can tell you that the beginning of the year and the end of the year are like night and day. In our classroom we have a pictionary that we use during writing. Buuuutttttt, I learned last year that it is very, very difficult to get the kids to write the words and draw pictures neatly at the beginning of the year. It's definitely more like an after January project. These are what the pages for that pictionary look like:

Each student has their own folder with a page for each letter.

This year, because we had such large classes, I needed to have one more center for each letter. In the past we have always done a handwriting page, play dough, and a letter book. In order to fill my need of a fourth center, I created this pictionary packet that already has the words we write on our letter word lists.

Letter word lists:

Please ignore the stuff stored on top :) This is my sink area. I have to put two letters on the side to have them all fit. But it definitely works well for the students to see their words up there! They have full access to words that they selected for writing.

Here is a glimpse as several of my students' work using this page:

It's easy enough for some but still teaching valuable skills: letter formation, independent letter writing, drawing a picture to match a word, etc.

The best thing though is that you can grab your own FREE copy at my Teachers Pay Teachers account. Please do me a favor though and spread the word and leave feedback. Click to get the who alphabet here:

Be quick to grab it though! On Monday (September 17) I will change it from free to $1.00. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Top 5 Posts

I love when I see on other blogs their top 5 posts. This usually means its their most awesome ideas ever! Now, I've seen some really awesome things out there because of those posts so I thought that maybe my kinda-cool-to-me ideas could help out someone else. So, here are my top 5 posts ever!

#1- How do you become a better reader?

#2- Washington or Lincoln?

How to Make an Easy George Washington Hat

#3- Substitute Binder... How do you prepare?

#4- I love when it's already done!

#5- I missed you!  (Actually has ideas about students self-evaluating their work :) )

I hope you enjoy taking a walk down memory lane. I love revisiting what I did last year and seeing things I can do again this year to help my kiddos!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

What do these things have in common?

I used to love mind stretching puzzles like this when I was a kid... and really, I haven't changed that much! Maybe y'all can help with this one (Even though I know the answer:) ) So, what do these things have in common?

Any guesses?
Any takers?
The answer is.....


This past week, my students got to sort, count, and graph their very yummy 3-D shapes. They had a blast with this activity! Besides, who doesn't love a good crunchy, cheesy snack?

This was great to see who had a ton of different skills: shape knowledge, counting 1:1, rote counting, sorting, and following directions (coloring in the graph)... just to name a few :)

If you would like a copy of the graph, pick it up by clicking below:

I hope you enjoy! Please feel free to pin away, share, or leave some love!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Doesn't it just make you smile...

Doesn't it just make you smile when you see this on your table?

I sure do love getting these boxes! I had a great first order for the year from my Kindergarten parents. I had 6 parents place orders and they were ALL online... goodies galore! Love earning points to spend on my wonderful class. I'm really excited to add several new books to my class library, especially these:

I'm especially excited about the last one to add into our math tubs when we start those next week!

I also got a little something for me:

and a little something for them:

I'm not quite sure who will be more excited!!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

You can do it! Daily 5 and Stamina

I'm really thinking about making shirts that say "I Heart Daily 5". Surely someone has them out there somewhere! I am so excited to be working on our Daily 5 introductions (one part at a time). After we are all done with our letter centers (next week!!!) we will be jumping in with both feet to our Daily 5. I am so excited!! Along with our Daily 5 comes our awesome and great reading groups (which I'm really, really excited about!!!).

But, before all the excitement can begin, we have to work on our reading stamina. I know I won't accomplish anything in our reading groups in my Read-to-Selfers can't read more than 1 minute at a time. On our very first day of practice (yesterday) we read for 1 minute and 31 seconds before we have to regroup. I'm really, really, reaaaaaally proud of my kiddos for doing that great too! They thought it was pretty cool to be able to read all by themselves. Especially since they know the 3 ways to read (pictures, words, retell)!

I can't wait to be able to fill in the entire thermometer ... I'm imagining a sprouting fountain from the top when they are done!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Big Sigh of Relief!

Wooosh!!! (That's my sigh of relief ;) ) We finally got our new teacher to help relieve are huge classes! It was a wonderful day today with only 20 students instead of 26! I'll typically have 22 but 2 of my students were absent today.

I know that you all understand the difference 6 little bodies can make in a room of students. It was lovely today to have a smaller group. That means they can sit closer, listen better, and learn more! Definitely a great day in our room! Here are some of the things that we did today:

We retold Chicka Chicka Boom Boom along with the awesome video version. My class loved singing it so much that we did it twice! Once during our learning time and once during snack :)

After the first time (during learning time) we did a following directions sheet. This friend did a fantastic job of following directions. It was so tempting to so many to "finish" the picture. But that's not what our directions were to do! :D

We were able to do Star Name even. This is one of their favorite things (since everyone deserves to be a star :) ) But it's so hard to find the time in the day to do it! See here to get more info about Star Name!
We were able to do TWO letters today! We will be done with letters next week and on to our awesome Daily 5! I'm so excited :) The kids are excited too! We  always, always do our handwriting sheet and our letter books. Sometimes we get to mix things up a bit (and practice our motor skills) by making playdough letters on the laminated construction sheets. I'm going to be introducing these into developmental centers next week so that we get a chance to do some great playdough work!

Our letters for today! These were super easy for handwriting but hard to come up with our words! I'm going back this afternoon to add pictures next to each of the words. Then they get to hang up on our cabinets for the kids to use during writing each day!

What great fun things did you and your classes do today? I can't wait to see!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Just dropped in to share...

During the midst of computer trouble (i.e.- my puppy chewing on power cords that now need to be fixed since my computer batteries are dead), I want to share this awesome idea I had at the end of the year last year. It has helped me find my own personal books that I use as mentor texts for lessons. Check out the pictures below!

This is a picture of my bottom bookcase that sits behind my desk. I use it to house all of my own personal read alouds. Last year I had them up near my class carpet area however they somehow would mysteriously rearrange themselves through out the week... hmm... ;) So this year, they are secure behind my desk.

Here is a close up of my shelf. From this angle you can tell that I've used white boards to seperate my books. I love having them all seperated and arranged by theme or genre! Plus I used my whiteboards (shower board technically) to seperate and label them. This way they are very, very easy to find and replace. I love, love having these for easy access during lesson planning at my desk. If I ever need to change a title, or change my mind about using a white board, I can simply wipe off my whiteboard! I love quick and easy organization ideas!

What do you guys think?