Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The best part of summer?

Besides hanging out with my family, kiddos, and vacations (because the family time is top!), I love being able to recharge and gather my ideas (while sharing) with all of my blogger friends. It's one of my favorite activities during the summer! Plus, you meet some really, really awesome people... like Greg at Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten! I got to meet him at our Georgia Blogger Meet-Up this summer. Click his button below to read about his AH-mazing adventures this summer!

Monday, July 29, 2013

What's goin' on here?

Happy LAST Monday of summer vacation! I have today and tomorrow before it's back to work! Here's what's going on over here...

Between lunches with friends (like the AH-mazing Anna of Crazy for First Grade and Valerie of Georgia Grown Kiddos), I've been creating up a storm for this year! Here's my newest creation:

You can grab them altogether for a discount or buy them individually below:

I'm loving how cute the mats are! I can't wait to break these babies out with letter dice and magnetic letters this year!

 See? Totally adorable!

So, I've also been busy getting things ready for the upcoming year. I brought this home with me last week:

This too... ugh! So much to do!

Yep, county copies... which we accidentally ordered DOUBLE of... yikes. I have two years worth of little books and other copies. Here's my job for today:

...seperating all of them into 1: This year and 2: Next year... not fun or glamorous but it has to be done. How are you getting ready for next year? What is on your to do list? I'd love to know I'm not alone!

Here's what I've managed to get done after 2 1/2 hours:

P.S.- Don't miss out on winning a Starbucks card or one of my New Packs!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chapter 9 Link Up: One Teacher, One Classroom

I sure hope that you have enjoyed our book study this summer! I hope that you have learned a lot along with us too! Make sure to check out the links below and leave some love on the blogs. AND if you leave a comment (with your email address) of something you learned this summer from our book study, I will select a person to win my new Beginning and Middle sounds packs for this upcoming year!

Talking, Drawing, Writing: The Last Chapter!

I am sad to see this post come. I have had a blast reading and learning along with everyone this summer as we have become better writing teachers together!

Chapter 9: One Teacher, One Classroom

What is the most important thing in your story? Even after teaching students the difference between a seed story and a watermelon story, they can still get into the habit of adding in items that are not necessary. I had a total flashback at the writing example that was given:

We are driving to Stop & Shop.
We parked the car.
We are going in Stop & Shop.

Sounds familiar, right? I can even visualize the particular student (or 2) that wrote like this NO MATTER what I did. I'm especially loving the lessons that were included in this chapter. I really think both lessons are important to do because if you teach the students HOW to add more details, you also have to teach them how to focus on ONE part. Some of the high achievers in your classroom could attempt to over describe everything in their writing. 

I am so excited about teaching writing this year! Are you? Be on a look out for a recap of all the awesome freebies that have been featured during this book study. Plus I have an awesome giveaway going on right now for 3 different $10 Starbucks cards as a Back to School treat! I hope you win!

Don't forget to link you your learning for the week too!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Don't miss out on this AWESOME (and easy) Back to School Giveaway!

Who loves Starbucks? *MEEEEE!!!!!!* As a Back to School gift to you wonderful, wonderful readers, I'm giving away 3 Starbucks gift cards to help ease you back into the school year.

Image courtesy of here

All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter below ANNNNND... you still have 7 days to fill it out! I can't wait to see who wins!

Along with the $10 gift card, the winners might just have an extra surprise in their box :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, July 26, 2013

Clifford is our friend! (Take Home Friend part 1)

Last year, in Pre-K, my son's teacher did the cutest activity with all of the students. Each weekend one student got to take home their class mascot for a visit. My son brought the mascot home in October so Corduroy got to go to a soccer game, church, the corn maze, a pony ride, and even play in the corn pit. Plus the story gets read at night to the child!

You take pictures and record your adventures in a class notebook that gets shared back at school. I'm going to try it this year and see how my students do with it. I'm not going to start sending home our friend until after Open House so I can explain it to parents.

Here's our mascot for the year:

It's Clifford! He's so wonderful! I love him and Emily Elizabeth... plus they teach morals and ethics on kid-friendly terms. Love that it is good beginning literature for my students.

Do you have a mascot? Who is it?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Work Station Wednesdays: Other Work Stations

I'm more than a tad bit sad that I'm almost done with this book. Chapter 9 was all about what else could be a work station. I love that this chapter told me several things that I was already doing! Yay for me! (I love that feeling of verification :) )

Computer Work Station- Kid Pix and Kidspiration are just the beginning for this. They can play games (Fun Brain), read along with stories (Book Flix), write a book review (our school media center has this set up for all the students), and research (Pebble Go!!). I love, love the computer work station!

Listening Work Station- This is one of the most popular work stations in my room. Maybe because of these:

My students love that they weren't all tangled up with each other while they read and listened. I made sure that there were never more than 3 at a station and at least 2 copies of each book.

Puzzles and Games- This was an AH-HA! moment for me. At the beginning of the year, I have my students play games of putting their ABC's in order.. but now I'm thinking- "Why do I stop?" I definitely need to work on some games for later on in the year!

Overhead- Does anyone have these anymore? I don't. I do know other teachers who do.. but most teachers at our school has long since gotten rid of these. I know the few who still have them in the primary classrooms let their students practice writing their letters or sight words. Fun!

Buddy Reading- This is again, one of my student's favorites! They like to hang out with a friend and get their reading on!

Click on the picture to grab your freebie!!

Handwriting, Block, Pocket Chart, and Science/Social Studies- These are also suggested.. I do have to say that I need to investigate them further! The handwriting especially!

One of my very first thoughts was DAILY 5! If you haven't heard of it yet, you need to check it out! Seriously though, you NEED to check out The 2 Sisters and their books:

I use their Read to Self, Read to Someone (buddy reading), Listen to Someone Read (listening center) too.

What work stations do you love the most?

**Don't forget to check out my on going giveaway for  Back to School Starbucks cards!**

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A little bit more...

How awesome is this shirt?

I ordered it the other day from Teacher T-shirts.. love this site!

This is a branch of one of my other favorite sites: Teach Junkie. (Promise I'm not getting paid to promote!) I love this shirt! It's great quality and WAY less than a certain other mega-screenwriting-website. I'm so excited to wear this shirt this year. It is one of those "makes me smile every time I look at it" deals.

What have you bought recently just for you (not your classroom) for the upcoming school year?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Chapter 8: Moving Writers Forward Link Up

Don't miss out on linking up for this week's chapter! Plus there is an exciting treat down at the bottom!

Plus, don't forget to enter to win one of three Starbuck's cards for a Back to School treat!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chapter 8: Moving Writers Forward

I'm so excited that we have done this wonderful book study together this summer! I even have a little treat for you at the end of this post so don't miss out!

Chapter 8: Moving Writers Forward

This chapter is absolutely full of wonderful ideas on improving your students' writing. The lessons on focusing on a seed story, adding details, and making it make sense. I wanted to share with you a program (of sorts) that our school has been using for the last 4 years. It's called Mentor Sentence and it's wonderful! It's a program that is based on the work of Jeff Anderson. He has written several amazing books. But Mentor Sentence is found in this book:

Each week you pick a sentence that is going to be found in a book that you will be reading that week (integration). It's really great if you are able to focus on a particular craft lesson for the week as well. 

For example:

Day 1: Show the sentence to the students and ask them what they notice. In Kindergarten, we focus on spaces, punctuation, upper case/lower case, and other fundamentals of print.

Make sure to use different colors for each type of noticing that the students do. It can get very, very confusing! I also make a list on the chart paper below the sentence.

Day 2: Have the students make the sentence better. Below I have some of the ideas that my students came up with last year. This is a great reason to have the sentence from your Science or Social Studies.. your kiddos will show you what they know!
Day 3: Students write their own sentence! Since we don't start Mentor Sentence until January this is totally age appropriate for most of the class. If you have some strugglers, differentiate by giving them a sentence starter that matches your sentence. " Mr. Washington was ________________."

In upper grades you can also include a Day 4 for testing genre practice. Definitely helps those ELA scores improve you do this every week!

I typically just have my students work along with me on the chart paper. But one or two more daring Kindergarten teachers have had their students post their sentence in a Mentor Sentence journal that they use so the students can follow along with them. I might just be adventurous to attempt that this year.. Not sure yet though. At least I have until January to decide!

Don't forget about the treat! Next week will be our very last week with our book study. I'm sad :( But I am so excited about writing this year! How about you? Well, to kick off the start to a great new year.... I'm offering up three Starbucks cards! Fill out the rafflecopter below to enter. You have until August 4th to enter! 


I hope you win!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sing a Song of Sixpence...

One of the best things about Kindergarten is the singing that we get to do! I used to be more than a tad terrified of singing in front of others but no matter how you sound, your kiddos love it when you sing! But I've always needed to hear someone else sing a new song first. (I'm really, really bad about putting new words to an old tune!)

I was given this website several years ago and it is PERFECT! This is the site that most children's librarians get their songs from. Here are some of my new favorites that I will be using next week for Kinder Kamp:

We are doing activities centered around lightening bugs, bears, fish, and reading. It's my first year teaching Kinder Kamp but I am so, so excited about it!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Georgia Blogger Meet Up!

Wow, oh, wow! I am so beyond excited! I just got home from our Georgia Blogger Meet Up in Atlanta today. It was so, so much fun! You definitely need to check out each person's page :)

(Don't you just love Nicole's cute picture of all of us!?!?!)

Nicole and Valerie were our organizers and they did such a great job! We met and ate at The Yard House at Atlantic Station. I also got to meet Jennifer Richards WhiteFaith WheelerAngela GriffithAileen Fernandez PruittDanielle KrogerHeather Crawford LeBlanc, and Kindergarten Smorgasboard.

Nicole even had adorable little goodie bags for us!

I gobbled up my goodies when I got home- Coke and peanuts plus peach gummies. Yummy!

Then we went to IKEA! Wow was that fun! We all found some awesome goodies like these:

STÄDJAN Laptop support IKEA Easy to keep clean since the fabric cover is removable and washable. Scratch resistent top.
A laptop support.. I'm using mine right now and l-o-v-i-n-g it!!

KALAS Bowl IKEA Great for parties and everyday meals. Made of durable plastic and safe to use in the dishwasher and microwave.
These sets of cute, cute bowls for sorting or what not!

And these adorable timers... except the check out lady dropped mine and I don't think the ringer works any more :( It still times though. So at least it's still useful!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Are you ready for a giveaway? It's really easy to enter!

I am so excited about this giveaway! Our Facebook page has had a LOT of new people find us lately. I'm so excited I just had to celebrate with a giveaway! Go check it out now by clicking on the picture of your potential prize: Your choice of either a Kindergarten or First Grade Daily Math Question pack!

I hope you win!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Work Station Wednesday: Poetry Work Station

Poetry is one of my very favorite things ever! I used to love teaching it in upper grades and looked forward to it every year. Kindergarten is most definitely a totally different horse as far as poetry goes (along with a lot of other things:) ).

Poetry differs in Kindergarten because you are mostly reading different poems, acting them out, and (towards the end of the year) writing/copying poems. Some of your children may be advanced enough to follow a patterned poem towards the end of the year.

The fabulous Debbie Diller has tons of suggestions in her book about how to have a poetry workstation that your students benefit from.

What does it look like?
A small space will do. Have a pocket chart on a stand or the back of a door. I had mine on the back of our door. It was the perfect spot because I could hang it at exactly the right height, have the students create the poem, and have a container of supplies right next to it!

What can they do?
Kindergarteners can do a lot! Check out this list:

-Letter or sight word hunt
-Read the poem
-Illustrate the poem
-Copy the poem to practice handwriting
-Have other favorite poetry books that students can copy their favorites from
-Practice changing rhyming words using sticky notes
-Retell poems
-Act out poems

Any other thoughts?

There are some incredibly AH-mazing teachers out there who have created packets for poetry. One of my favorites is the FABULOUS Deedee Wills. Check out these awesome packets!

These sets are AH-mazing and I promise I'm not being paid to say that! Deedee Wills happened to share a free Campfire set several weeks ago that I was lucky enough to grab. It's fantastic! All of her sets come with the pieces for the poem, the poem to illustrate, emergent readers, activities to last all week, and more. They are so stinkin' awesome!!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Getting ready for Back to School?

It's that time again! We're all getting ready for back to school (or at least trying not to grimace too hard). I'm actually super, super excited about this new year AND I just got my student list!!! Yay!!!

It also helps that because of my Work Station Wednesday's I have some awesome new ideas for next year. One of which I just put together. Grab it now!

Build-A-Word is all about the CVC words that we focus on in Kindergarten and other Primary Grades. Have your students use their choice of favorite word building manipulative to build the words. My kids l-o-v-e to use their magnetic letters to build sight words and their friend's names. There will be excitement all over when these come out!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Link up! Chapter 7: Introducing Booklets

Don't forget to link up your awesome learning from this week! I love learning from all of you!

Chapter 7: Introducing Booklets

My thoughts on this chapter are swirling madly through my head. Wowzers! There was so much in this chapter that I loved.

-Introducing booklets slowly. I usually introduce them as a whole class. When teaching my class, I typically show them a completed booklet but allow them the first page, then the second, and then the third. The next time we use booklets, I give them their whole booklet (usually three pages) and show them how to sketch out their story with a little bit on each page. There's usually lessons on B-M-E thrown in there as well.

-Love the lessons! It always helps me to see how someone else words/explains things to their students. The lesson ideas itself are spectacular as well.Breaking down how to make sure your characters have the same clothes through out the story, writing about one little bit (seed story vs watermelon story), and how to make your story make sense.

-The resource ideas! Couldn't tell you why I've never thought of adding a class list to my student's writing folder. It's kind of a 'duh' moment for me! I am happy to say that I do use an alphabet chart for my students. It's one of our first week activities that they get to come in and color it :) But, ours has gotten old and grainy from all the copying. So I created my own for this year and would love to share with y'all! Click the picture below to grab it!

Don't forget to link up here!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Back to School Book List

Every year I sit down and think about what it is that I need to buy and every year there are more books than anything else. I love to share great new books with my class and I thought it’d be really fun to share with you too! I’d love for y’all to link up below with your must have new favorites too!
(** If you are interested in grabbing any of these books, I’d be so appreciative if you would click on the pictures and order through the links, it goes towards supporting this blog and TPT store. Thank you!)

For new teachers there are always the favorites:

The Kissing Hand

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Mrs. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

I also found some great new books for study about our country and national symbols this year:

The House that George Built by Suzanne Slade

Big George by Anne Rockwell

America: The Making of a Nation by Charlie Samuels

The Journey of the One and Only Declaration of Independence by Judith St. George

And… I found a couple for counting and space. Always a popular subject in my classroom!

8 Spinning Planets

There’s No Place Like Space! All About Our Solar System
(I actually have already used this book for the last few years. I love it and the There’s a Map in My Lap too! The kids love the rhyming and funny pictures like any other Dr. Seuss book.)

Check out these other amazing Back to School Book Lists! My list is getting longer! Don't forget to grab the button and share with all your friends!


(Don't you just love that adorable post-it note clip art from Ashley Hughes!!!)

Work Station (Not) Wednesday: ABC/Word Work

Wow, wow, wow! I keep saying that about this book, but really. I mean it each time! I’m posting this workstation today because I’ve been traveling and did NOT have the time/energy to do so after walking the mall area of D.C. on Wednesday. Wowzers was I tired! But look at the awesome picture that my husband took of me! Love it (Even if it’s totally clichéd ;) )!

Anyways, back to the chapter at hand. I absolutely loved this whole chapter! One of my favorite work stations last year was this work station but I always seemed to put things that were waaaay to hard out (can you say magnetic Sitton Spelling letters in the 2nd 9 weeks). This chapter gave me a great sense of what is better (without the trial and error on my part) throughout the year. Here are some of the important things to keep in mind:

- Start basic. In the beginning of the year, upper and lowercase letters (for Kindergarten) is one of the best things. They get to see the letters and name them. Students can put them in order or match them with their partner. Check out this set here that I have and use:

- Differentiate. We always here this magical word, however, in this workstation it can be easy to manage. Give each child a color based on what group/skill/level/ they should be on. Think 4 groups. Post the colors with their names on it in your work station area and then color code your activities. Not as hard as it sounds, promise! I’m going to use the primary colors (plus green because it’s my favorite!) and purchase zipper pouches and plastic folders to use specifically for this.

-Change. Make sure you change out the activities throughout the year. Do not half kill yourself each week coming up with something new (my downfall)! You can add something to the work station every couple of weeks. Look at it this way:

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pssst...guess what??

Guess what! I have a secret! I'm going to share with you all because.. well.. you are awesome! I know some of you super duper awesome people found me because of Krystal's giveaway over at Good Enough Teacher. Guess what? She's doing another AH-mazing giveaway starting on Monday! You do NOT want to miss out on this!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Magic Playdough for Back to School

I'm Terri Izatt from KinderKapers and I am guest blogging with Jennifer today.  I am so excited to be here and share with you some of the things I do to get ready for the first day of school.

KinderKids are so excited to be in school and so scared all at the same time.  I do not start the first day with names on their tables (even in second and third grade I let them pick their spot that first day).  I have them put their stuff on a chair and then come join me on the carpet.  We sing, I take roll, I tell them how exciting this year is going to be.  I try to weave a little magic into those first few minutes and then I try to keep their hands busy while I finish with all that first day of school busy-ness that must get done.

What magical thing are their hands doing you may ask....playdough.  Color changing, SURPRISE!   Playdough.

My Favorite Recipe
* 1 cup flour
*1 cup water
*2 tsp cream of tarter
*1/3 cup salt
*1 Tbs vegetable oil
*food coloring

Mix together all the ingredients in a 2 quart saucepan.  Cook over low/medium heat, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring until mixture thickens and forms a ball.   Remove dough, finish kneading into a ball, and let cool.  Add the food coloring to a hole, hidden in the playdough.

Now for the story telling and magic.  I really "act" it up telling them how magical their year in Kindergarten is going to be.  How wonderfully exciting things will be and how they will never know what new surprises are waiting for them each morning.  Then I pass out the baggies of playdough.  I encourage them to squish it around (keeping it inside the bag).  Surprise!  It changes color right before their eyes.  I let them take it out of the baggie (when the color is pretty well mixed), and throw the messy baggie away.  The next few minutes are for me to finish morning stuff (I never seem to be able to get that done quickly), organize information I have gathered from moms as they dropped them off (like do they ride the bus because all Kinders think they ride the bus...unless they actually ride the bus, then they swear they are being picked up).  This year I am excited about adding something new to this creative activity.  I am going to have my kiddos make something with their playdough and share what they made before I have them put it back into a baggie.  That will give them a chance to get to know each other before a little bit before they have to put the playdough away.

Just a few tips:
*each batch makes about 4 good-sized balls of playdough
*doubling the recipe is fine, but it takes muscles to stir more than a double batch.
*I like adding the salt to the hot water, then the cream of tarter, the oil, and last the flour.  The salt dissolves into the water and the texture of the playdough is very smooth.
*gel food coloring seems to be less messy
*more drops, the deeper the color....the more impressed your kinders will be.

Now the only question I have left....do I let them take it home or have it waiting for them the next day.  It WILL go home.  I don't want it hanging around my classroom too long, I have other clay, playdough, and silly putty to use at work stations.