Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's time to link up with Farley
for her monthly Currently linky party.
I look forward to seeing what everyone is up to!

Happy new year!  
I wish all my blog readers all the best in 2015!  Thanks for joining me on my blog journey! 

Change is coming!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

I've been spending my winter break reading a lot of things for my classroom.  I've been scouring blogs, watching YouTube videos, reading books and generally thinking about how my classroom runs.  I work at a unique place, it's an all kindergarten school.  You heard me right, all kindergarten!  All the kids in my district come to my school for kindergarten then they go to their neighborhood school for 1-5 grades.  It's super unique and extremely awesome! All the kids in our district get to know each other in kindergarten so when they see each other on the sports fields or around town, the community is united.  It's really wonderful and I love working in my district.  The kids and parents build lasting friendships with families that don't live in their immediate neighborhood.

Since we are an all kindergarten school (8 kindergarten classrooms and 2 EAK classrooms) we have the unique opportunity to do many innovative things.  For instance, we have a school wide program where the kids go to a small group every day for reading (20 minutes), then to a Phonemic Awareness room (20 minutes), then to 2 of the following places (20 minutes each), depending on the day of the week- Music keyboarding, Spatial-Temporal Math on the computers, SPARKS PE, or Word Work.  We call this program "Pathways Plus" and we all love it.

Because we are an all kindergarten school and because we collaborate weekly with each other, we can do many unique things like Pathways Plus.  We have a school wide behavior system that we teach at the beginning of the year.  Everyone on campus is aware of the rules and expectations for behavior at each of the different locations around the school.  We teach the kids the playground rules, the bathroom rules, the library rules, etc. etc.  One thing that we are doing is to switch from individual behavior systems in our own classrooms is to move to a more standardized system that is school wide.  We think this will help the kids with consistency from room to room (since they move around so much).

Every teacher has her own behavior system set up in her classroom.  Mine was a chart where kids started on green and moved up or down the behavior ladder depending on their behavior.  They took a ticket home each day.  When they save 10 good tickets then they got a chance to choose treasure from  my treasure box.  This system has worked well for me for over 10 years.  Well, now it's time to change that (YIKES) and move toward the Whole Brain Teaching model.  Now you see what types of videos I've been watching and understand what types of things I've been reading.  I've been busy because we will be switching over to this new system in January (mid year- YIKES!)

I'm both excited and apprehensive about the switch.  It's hard to change from something that has been working for you to something new and different.  I know that it is a good thing for the kids, but it means a steep learning curve for me.  I will keep you posted on how it's going.  I'm sure I'll have many funny stories to tell.
manage your classroom resources

In the mean time, I'm not throwing the baby out with the bath water!  I still plan to use my songs and chants to help my transitions run smoothly.  I've updated my file and added some new things.  If you own it, make sure to go back to TpT to get the updated file.  If you don't own it yet,  I highly recommend it.  It is full of songs and posters that cover topics like cleaning up, lining up, writing your name on your paper, not using too much glue, etc.  I have a sub binder with all of these in it, and I have them posted around my room so that I remember to use them.  The kids LOVE them and it makes transitioning super easy and fun.

call and respond chants
Just a dot- Not a lot

New Year Freebie!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Letter and Sound Recognition Game

Hi Everyone!

It's almost the new year and I'm sending this small gift to all my blog readers.

I've made a fun little Freebie to help your struggling kids learn letters and sounds.  It's almost January and by now most of my Kinders have learned the majority of their letters and sounds, but there is always one or two kiddos that still struggle, even at this point in the year.

This is a fun (and easy to prep) game that will help those little guys practice in a fun way.  Click on the picture to grab the file from my TpT store.  Don't forget to leave feedback and check out my other Free stuff (because don't we all need FREE stuff at this point in the year).

Happy New Year to everyone.  Wishing you all a wonderful 2015!


14 Things about 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Be more present.
For 2015 I want to practice mindfulness.  
I need to be present in the situations that happen and enjoy the small moments that make up life.

My grandmother was passed away this year.  She lived 98 wonderful years.  She traveled to every state in the United States in her motorhome.  She and my Pappy made sure to visit each state capital and send us grandkids a postcard from each place.  
She loved to laugh and she enjoyed life to the fullest.  Here she is pictured at Easter with her two sons.  As you can tell, they love to laugh as well and couldn't resist goofing around.  
Thanks for all the wonderful memories Gram, you are missed.

Here is my daughter Paige after she got the MVP award for field hockey.  
Paige is a great kid, with a solid work ethic and fun-loving personality.  
We are so proud of the smart, funny, kind, athletic person that she is and are grateful that her coaches and teammates recognized her in this way.

The products in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
I work very hard at creating great and useful products.  They usually stem from filling some need that I have.  It feels good to share them with other teachers.
(Of course I LOVE shopping on TpT as well)

I primarily use this blog to blog about my classroom.  But occasionally I will blog about personal stuff.  My favorite post is the one about avoiding chores.  I spent a fun afternoon with my sister painting pictures of our dogs.  We each have our own style, and the day was so fun, and the projects turned out so cute, that it is one of my favorite blog posts.

You can choose to live in the front row or the third row.

I got an Origami Owl lanyard.  I love it because I personalized the charms with ones that are meaningful to me.  I wear it every day at school and get so many compliments on it.  Click on the photo above to go to the Origami Owl website.  If you haven't heard about Origami Owl, read about how it started.  It's a very inspirational story.

Skinny jeans- they are a must with boots.


I love the Animal Fries and I get my Double Double protein style.  YUM!

Modern Family.  

I always go back to my favorite movie of all time...

It has so many funny parts and I can relate to the main character because don't we all have days where nothing seems to go the way that it should?
It reminds me that life is ever changing and you have to laugh at the not so great parts and embrace the changes.  It's all good.


I'm all about cute boots this season.  They dress up any outfit and are super comfy.
I'm hoarding boots (I currently have 4 pairs and probably will buy more).
Now I need some cute boot cuffs to accessorize.

Thanks for taking the time to read my Fourteen in 14!  I look forward to stopping by your blog as well.  Don't forget to leave a comment and I'll do the same!

Cheryl Irick

Gingerbread Man Operetta

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Giving kids time on a stage to perform is so important.  I do at least two programs every year.  This year my class will do three!  Our first program of the year is The Gingerbread Man.  We spend the month of December doing all things gingerbread related.  I scoured TpT for resources and every center was gingerbread related.  We read many different versions of the classic tale of the Gingerbread Man as well as some non-traditional versions.  My kids LOVED comparing and contrasting all the different stories.

Of course, one of the activities we did was to make our own gingerbread cookies.  And wouldn't you know it, someone opened the oven to soon and they ran away.  We had to chase them all over the school!

The crowning jewel in our gingerbread unit is our play.   The we had our dress rehearsal today and our performance is Friday.  After that, we will return to the classroom to build gingerbread houses with our families.  The kids are really looking forward to Friday.

Developing Fine Motor Skills

Friday, December 12, 2014
strengthen pencil gripFine motor skills are so important for little ones.  They need strong hand muscles for their pencil grip.

I try to give my kiddos lots of cutting activities to help strengthen their hand muscles.  I also try to sneak in activities that build fine motor muscles whenever I can.

Here is one of my favorite muscle strengthening activities...  CLEAN UP TOOLS.

fine motor strengthening activity

I have a basket of clothespins and tennis balls with a slit cut along one side and those are my "Clean Up Tools".   When we are working on a cutting project I will sometimes tell my kids to put all the scraps on the floor.  This makes for a REALLY messy room, but I know it's just a short time thing, because as the kids finish the project I have them get one of the "Clean Up Tools"  and they scour the room looking for the smallest scraps to pick up and put in the recycle bin.  All of that clothes pin pinching and tennis ball squeezing really gets those hand muscles working- not to mention the cutting that occurred during the project.  I also prefer to use good 'ole white glue instead of glue sticks because I like the kids having to squeeze the glue bottle.  I guess I'm old school.  Remembering to close the glue is another layer of responsibility that is good for the kids.

Another way I sneak in hand strengthening activities is during center time.
I try to have AT LEAST one center that incorporates fine motor skills along with whatever academic task I want them to learn.  I use play dough to make letters and numbers, clothespins to clip answers, chenille sticks to poke answers through a small hole, markers to write answers, a hole punch to punch answers... you get the picture.  The variety of my center activities keeps the kids engaged and on task allowing me to focus on small group instruction with minimal interruptions (in theory at least).

Here is one of my current literacy centers.  It focuses on beginning sounds.  It is self-checking and self-teaching and it uses clothes pins!  Kids say the picture listening for the beginning sound.  They clip the 3 pictures that begin with that sounds and then flip the card over.  The stars show them is they got it right or not.  If not, they move the clips to the stars and flip the card over again and practice saying the pictures over and over until they hear the sound.  Super fun.  My kids love it!
You can click on the picture to get the activity.

phonemic awareness beginning sounds activity

I bet if you look around at the activities in your classroom you'll be surprised at how many opportunities you are giving your students to work on their fine motor skills, but I think it's worth thinking about every now and again how we can sneak in more ways to help our little one grow and develop their fine motor skills.

Just a thought.
Thanks for stopping by!

A Holiday Organization Tip- Gift Wrap

Saturday, December 6, 2014
Here's a quick tip to help keep your gift wrapping area neat and organized this holiday season...and it won't cost you a cent!  You might have already seen this on Pinterest, but if you haven't tried it yet, you've got to do it!

It's super simple.  Too keep your rolls of wrapping paper from unrolling and getting wrinkled, simply take the core from an empty roll of toilet paper or paper towels and slice it down the middle lengthwise.  Now you can use it to wrap around your roll of gift wrap paper.  Simple, free, and ever so handy!  No more runaway paper.  No more creased and wrinkled paper.  Happy. Happy. Happy.

Happy holidays and happy wrapping!

Five for Friday

Friday, November 28, 2014

Hello there,
After a fun, food-filled, fantastic Thanksgiving Day spent with family and friends, I thought I would connect with all my blog buddies out there to share Thanksgiving good wishes with everyone.
I'm connecting with Doodle Bugs Teaching for another fun Five for Friday linky.

My guilty pleasure- Starbucks.  I usually like hot coffee, but it's been so hot here in Southern California that I needed a cold drink this week.  Poor me.. I know.  I'm always thankful for the great weather in San Diego- I've never had to shovel snow just to get to work- I'm super lucky!

Here's my tip to you as you begin to wrap your holiday presents...
Save the toilet paper or paper towel rolls and use them to keep your gift wrap from unrolling when you don't want it to.  Just cut a strip down the side and wrap the tube around the wrapping paper.  Works like a charm and costs nothing!

Super proud of my youngest daughter.  She was a captain on her JV field hockey team and she was awarded MVP for the season.  So proud of her efforts.  She is the first one the field and the last one off.  She has a great work ethic, a positive attitude and the skill and athleticism to make an all around great player.  BTW-This award was voted on by her teammates.  

Just got done framing and hanging a collection of birds that my family painted.  It was fun working together to create art for our home.  The pictures are hanging over our TV and they make me smile every time I glance up.  The best part is we have room for more.

The final thing I am thankful for this week was the opportunity to share in a major life event with my husband's family.  His uncle and cousins were in town for a half marathon.  While they were here, one of them got engaged!  Everyone was in on the secret except for Kaitlyn.  The proposal took place on the beach in front of the Hotel Del Coronado.  This photo was snapped by some strangers on the beach who realized what was happening and wanted to capture the moment for the happy couple.  What a magical moment!  Congratulations Kyle and Kaitlyn!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

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