ABC and 123 FREEBIES

Tuesday, September 23, 2014
I've been busy making some fun centers for my Kinders.  We are busy learning our ABCs and 123s at this time in the year.  I have made a couple of fun puzzles that you can put in math or literacy centers.  They are free on my TpT site- just link to the photo and it will take you right there.

The first fun activity is a number puzzle that goes from zero to ten.  Students put the pieces in order.  They use the dots to help them count and the rainbow colors stair step up to help kids see that each number increases the amount of dots by one.  It looks easy, but it is quite challenging for many kids.



The second activity is for your literacy center.   It is a simple alphabet puzzle, but the letters are lower case, and if your classroom is like mine, kids recognize upper case more easily than lower case, so the practice putting this puzzle together helps them with lower case letters identification.  The puzzle uses super cute Wild Things and is so much fun.  I like to print a copy that I don't cut apart so my kids who need extra scaffolding can use that to help them.  My more advanced learners like to put it together without looking at the completed puzzle.



Both of the activities are super easy to prep and you can have them in a learning center in no time.
If you find them useful in your classroom, please leave feedback.
Thanks!

I hope your kids love these as much as mine do.

Letter to the Future Me

Saturday, September 20, 2014
I'm linking up with Crystal at Kreative in Kinder for a fun Linky Party.



We all know how tough the beginning of the year is.  I have been teaching elementary school for over 20 years and I love the start of the new school year.  It is filled with so many possibilities.  I love meeting my new kiddos and their families and I have so much fun (yes, really) setting up my room each year.

I started my teaching career in 4th grade and slowly worked my way down to kindergarten.  Starting the year in 1st through 5th is NOTHING like starting a kindergarten year (I speak from experience).  Many kindergartners are coming to a classroom setting for the very first time.  Even those who attended preschool are worn out by the rigors of a kindergarten day.  Parents tell me that their kids fall asleep in the car on the ride home from school the first month or so of the year.  That always makes me feel better because I leave each day absolutely EXHAUSTED too.

Crystal has come up with the idea of writing a letter to the future me reminding myself how the beginning of the school year really is, because don't we all ask ourselves, "Was last year like this???" The answer is yes, but somehow our brain forgets that (probably like it forgets the pain of childbirth) and we question both our sanity and stamina at the beginning of each new year.

So friends, here is my letter to my future self.  I'm putting a copy in my plan book and plan to reflect on it both at the end of this year and the beginning of next year.




I encourage you to write a letter to your future self, because let's face it, we all forget how the beginning of the year REALLY  is.

Managing Math and Literacy Centers

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Well, it's the third week of school and we are just now starting afternoon rotations.  Each afternoon the kids rotate through 4 areas; they spend 15 minutes with me, 15 minutes with a parent, 15 minutes at a center, and 15 minutes working independently at their desk.  The groups are small (6 kids) and the kids rotate with their group.  

My little Kinders are wiped out in the afternoons.  We spend our mornings on math, reading and writing and after lunch my 5 and 6 year olds need a lot of movement and a lot of fun. That is why I do rotations. The parent will usually do an art, science, or math activity while I will work with the kids on writing, math or literature.  Having parents in helping really allows me to do those messy projects that require small groups of kids. (Thank you parents for taking on the mess!)  I, on the other hand, can do some RTI and reteaching or I can introduce new content to the small groups.

The key to having successful and productive afternoon rotations are the center activities.  Yes, that's right, the centers are the key!  The kids need to work quietly and independently at their center.

letter identification

Making sure that centers run properly and that kids stay on task takes two things- engaging activities and training.  Here I set up an I SPY Letters center where I trained the kids on the expectations of the center.  We did it in a group of 6 but the next time they see it, it will be an individual center activity.  

I often introduce a brand new center in different ways.  Some centers are so intuitive that they just take a quick intro and the kids are off and running.  Other centers need more practice before the kids are ready to work on them independently.  The I SPY sheets are very intuitive, but I wanted to stress how we take care of the markers, how we clean up when the "clean up signal" rings, etc.  It was more about the procedures than the activity- it is the 3rd week of school after all.  Later in the year when I put in the Word Family I SPY sheets the kids don't need to be trained.  

I set my literacy and math centers up so that the kids can choose which activity they want to work on during their center time.  This helps them stay engaged and on task.  I have differentiated activities so kids can choose to challenge themselves or just have fun and gain confidence doing something that comes easily to them.  It has been my experience that kids don't choose activities that will bore them by being too easy.

I also include a developmental rotation each week, so the kids can have the time "playing" that we all know is so very valuable and necessary.  I have blocks, legos, puzzles, a doll house, a housekeeping center, Zoobs, Wedgits, Lincoln Logs, lacing, felt boards, and other fun and developmentally appropriate activities.  

Our afternoons are action packed and filled with fun.  We get so many different things done during our afternoon rotations- all thanks to our center activities (and our wonderful parent volunteers).

Five For Friday- First Week of School 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Well everyone, happy Friday!  TGIF!  I survived the first week of school, but I am EXHAUSTED!  If it is any consolation, my kids are just as tired- so that makes me feel better.  They are 5 years old after all and I’m... well, let’s just say that I’m older, so I feel MUCH better that I’m so tired. 


I’m linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly Five for Friday party.  Yea!  Happy Friday!! 




 I have a great group of kids this 
year.  Here they are.  Pretty cute, huh?





I invite the parents to attend the first day and I have them complete the very first project with their child.  I take a photo of them with their child and I use that for my Memory Book and I also put it in my sub binder so that a substitute teacher can make sure that each child goes home with his/her parent at the end of the day.  The parents LOVE this idea.  They feel so much better knowing that the substitutes have a photo ID of them.



I'm not sure if I like my room arrangement this year.  It is very kid centered (because they all can see the docucam screen) but it is NOT teacher centered (because I can't fit through the tables).  I really like that all the kids can see the screen, but I need to walk around and help kids and the arrangement leaves a lot to be desired on that score.  I have bruises on my legs that are exactly the table height  and that isn't acceptable (and no, I'm not posting a picture of the bruises-you are welcome!).  What to do???  As soon as the dust settles and I find out how many kids I will have, I might be able to eliminate on of the tables.  Time will tell.  Stay tuned.


I LOVE my calendar wall.  It has so many skills/standards included and we cover them each and every day.  Some of the things are from my Calendar Companion unit.  I have a "calendar helper" whose job it is to help me with the calendar each morning.  




Here is a random thing...  my daughter's dog Cooper.  He is a corgi, a fluffy corgi to be exact. He is the most awesome dog ever!  He lets Paige dress him up and he seems to like it.  He's really pretty, really cuddly, really sweet, really people oriented, and did I say really pretty?  He's not very smart, as far as corgis go- they are very smart dogs.  Our other corgis were/are SUPER smart.  Cooper is well... Cooper is pretty.  I have had 5 corgis and he is by far my favorite lap dog. Pretty and sweet- not so smart, but we love him anyway.  Isn't he pretty?







My last random thing for this week is that I am so very thankful for is my sister.  She is my best friend, by kid's best friend, and my go-to person.  She came in to help me in my classroom this week.
SHE ROCKS!  I wish everyone could have a sister like mine.  She's holding our friend's corgi puppy BTW.  We do love our corgis!

Currently September 2014

Monday, September 1, 2014
I'm linking up with Farley for her Currently post.  It's fun to see where everyone is at this point in the year.  We are all just starting school and have the full year ahead of us.  So, here is where I am currently...





Listening: I'm currently listening to my 16 year old's favorite band. (We just went to their concert last week.)   Luckily I really like their music.

Loving: I love my coworkers!  I work with an amazing group of people. I teach at an all kindergarten school and there is a lot of collaboration between all of the teachers.  We all like and respect each other so you can imagine the amazing things that everyone brings to the table.  And the support staff at my school are wonderful too!  I can't think of a better place to work at.

Thinking: School starts tomorrow so I'm wondering what my kiddos will be like this year.  I always get a bit nervous on the first day. I'm looking forward to meeting my kinders and their parents as we start the school year together.  I invite the parents to join us for a fun first day project.

Wanting: I really, really, really want to get rid of all of the carpet in my house and put in hardwood flooring.  I have pets- enough said.

Needing: Now that school is starting, I could use a cook and a maid.  (Couldn't we all?)

3 Trips: None of those trips are in my near future, but a girl can dream.

Thanks for stopping by!  I'm off to blog hop before getting a good night's sleep. (hopefully)

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