Southern California Kindergarten Conference Here I Come!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I'm headed to the Southern California Kindergarten Conference!  It' has been 6 years since I have had the opportunity to go to a teaching conference.  I am so looking forward to hearing about the latest and greatest things happening in education today.

Any other California kindergarten teachers headed there?  I'll be at the Blogger Bash Dinner on Friday night.  Can't wait to meet some of the bloggers that I follow!  LMK if you'll be there!

One More Day!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Thank goodness, because I wasn't finished browsing yet!

What's On Your Wishlist?

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hi friends,

TpT just announced their Teachers Are Heros sale- HOORAY!  Now I can get some of those items on my wish list!

Curious as to what those might be?  Well, here are a few of the things that I plan on purchasing...

Graphics- I always need graphics!

Blending Practice- These will be perfect for my burgeoning readers!

End of the year Activity!

Science Unit

If you would like to see what some of my friends have on their wish lists, just click on the links below.  Happy shopping!  I hope you find some great resources to use in your classroom.

Friends of Ten

Sunday, February 22, 2015
Knowing combinations of numbers to ten is a very important kindergarten concept.  (In fact it is CCSC K.OA.4- For any given number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number.)

We do a lot of activities in my classroom to understand this concept- the more practice the better, right?

One activity that my kids love is called Bears on the Bus.  

Friends of Ten

Kids can work in pairs or individually at a math center.  I introduce the game in partner pairs so that they can work cooperatively to make groups of tens.  This helps everyone understand the game (because no matter how long I explain it, model it, etc, there are always a handful of kids who still don't understand the directions)  and my partnering kids up for the first go-round, hopefully one of those partners understood and can explain it t" is to fill up the bus with bears.  Simple really.

Number concept 10

Each child needs 10 bears of one color.  The other child needs 10 bears of a different color.  One player spins a number and puts that many bears on the bus.  They then look at the empty seats in the ten frame to see how many bears of the other color are needed to make ten.  They fill up the bus with the second color and record their answers on the sheet.  Then player two spins and they repeat the process.

Another way to practice fact families of ten is to play Friends of Ten with a deck of cards.  I love using playing cards in the classroom!  They are sturdy, easy to replace, require no prep, AND the kids always consider any activity that we do with them a "game".   Their faces light up when I bring out the cards.
Making 10 with cards

Here's how I play "Friends of Ten."  I love it because it is a cooperative game with no winner.  We work together to find the "Friends of Ten."

All you need to play is an ordinary deck of cards.  Before beginning, take out the face cards (jacks, queens, and kings).  Aces will be used as ones.  To play, lay out seven cards face up.  Students are looking for pairs of numbers that make ten.  If they see one, they show me a silent thumb up to their chest.  I call on a student and they say the equation and take the cards.  The ten is used by itself, but the students must say 10 + 0 = 10.  We all echo the number sentence stated by the student.

Replace the cards that were taken with two more from the deck, always leaving seven cards facing up. Continue finding pairs, taking them off, and replacing them.  If there are no pairs for ten in the seven cards showing, lay down another seven cards on top of the others.  Now when students take off the pair of cards that equals ten, the cards underneath will be revealed, so you don't need to replace them with new cards.

I love this game because with the quiet thumb up to their chest, I can give everyone "think time" to find a match and I choose who to call upon so that I can make sure everyone gets matches.  All the kids feel successful at the end of the game.

Taking Time for Yourself

Friday, February 20, 2015
I think it's important to recharge one's batteries every so often.  I know that if you are like me, you do things for everyone else and put yourself last. (I think most of us do that.)  I find that every so often, I need to get away with a few close friends for a weekend to laugh, relax and be creative.

Usually my friends and I bring all of our scrapbook stuff and spend the weekend getting caught up on our family albums.  It's fun to relive the events as we scrapbook them and to talk about them with each other.  We also share scrapbooks doodads, papers and whatnots with each other, so it's like having a whole scrapbook store right at your fingertips. (And boy do we have a lot of stuff!)

Well, this trip I decided to leave my photos behind and bring along my paints instead.  It was fun having a new medium there for everyone to try out if they wanted to.  Here are a few of my paintings from the weekend.  I hope they inspire you to get creative and do something that recharges your batteries.

Big Sur, California

 Cabrillo Lighthouse, San Diego

Kiluaea Lighthouse, Kauai

March Activities Link Up

Friday, February 13, 2015

Hello everyone!  Here's your chance to post your favorite TpT products, activities and resources for the upcoming month.  Just download the "Teachable Moments for March" graphic and post it on your blog.  Then link up your favorite March resources below.

I'm looking forward to seeing all the great March activities out there!

Spaghetti and Meatball Spaces

Thursday, February 5, 2015
I teach kindergarten, therefore, I teach brand new writers.  We work on penmanship as well as writing the sounds that we hear.  Kids have to learn to read and write common sight words as well as all the conventions of writing.  When you think about it, there is a lot for them to remember as they are learning to write.

As I have guided children through the writing process over the years, one of the hardest things for them to remember is to add spaces between their words.  They are so focused on getting their thoughts on the paper, and figuring out what sounds they hear, and what letters they need to write, spaces are the last thing they are thinking about.

spacing when writing with kindergartners

I know we all have our tricks... "space men", "fingers", "thumb", but the one trick that seems to resonate with my kids is the good old "Spaghetti and Meatball" spaces.  We talk about spaghetti spaces being the small space between the letters in a word, and the meatballs being the big space between the words.  Works like a charm I tell you.

writing with young kids- spacing problem solved

To make the meatball space sticks, I just glued a brown pom pom on the end of a craft stick.  Kids can use the skinny side of the craft stick for the spaghetti space and the round meatball for the spacing between the words.  They love it!  Everyone used the meatball sticks at the beginning of the year, and now only my slower writers still ask for them.

Click on the picture below to get your own copy of Spaghetti and Meatball spaces.
Spaghetti and Meatball Spaces Poster

Happy writing!

New Blog is Hosting a Monthly Linkup

Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Hi Everyone,

Hop on over to the Teachable Moments blog and join the Monthly Resources Link Up.  The blog is just starting out, but it's aim is to be a valuable resource for K-5 teachers.  They will be hosting a monthly link up where we can all share our favorite lessons for the month.

They are linking up March activities right now so you can grab them and get them prepped in time to teach them.  What a great idea!  Hop on over and help get their new blog off the ground!

Force and Motion

Monday, February 2, 2015
The thing I love most about teaching science, is that it is so hands-on!  My class spent the month of January investigating force and motion.  We looked at gravity, push, pull, friction, and many other concepts as we conducted different investigations.

Some of the activities were quick ones, like using a straw to blow a cotton ball, and some were longer like when we investigated friction.  When the kids had the science concepts firmly under their belts, I posed some "impossible" questions.  Their first response was always, "we can't do that!" But I told them to just try to see if they could- they did!

Here is impossible question #1
Can you knock over a glue bottle using a tennis ball without touching the tennis ball?

Here was one solution:
Force and Motion Activities

All of the groups used some tool to hold the ball without touching it.  One group of girls thought to cradle it in a book to get the motion started.  All of the groups used the blocks to make ramps for the ball to travel on.

Then I asked them impossible question #2
Can you make a car go uphill without pushing it?

Here are two solutions:
Force and Motion Activities

Force and Motion Activities

In both of the "impossible" question scenarios, the kids worked in collaborative groups.  This wasn't easy for many of them, especially the first time, but on question #2, they had a much easier time working together to problem solve.  They really had a great time investigating force and motion.

If you are interested in conducting some of these same experiments with your kids (they can be older than kindergarten and still learn a lot from these questions) you can click here to get the unit from my TpT store.

Force and Motion Science Unit

Happy science investigations!

Currently in February

Sunday, February 1, 2015
Hi Everyone,

I'm linking up with the fabulous Farley for her fun Currently Linky Party.

Listening to my daughter's music.  She loves to listen to iTunes radio and to find new artists. She has great taste in new music and she finds great stuff for us to listen to.  If I named some of the bands she has discovered,  I'm sure that you wouldn't recognize any of them.  (Kids keep you young.)

Loving the mild Southern California winters.  We are in the middle of a drought, so I would love to have more rain (and snow in the mountains), but if it's not going to rain, I might as well enjoy the sunshine.  The best part about this great weather is that I get to wear my boots without getting wet.

Thinking about my upcoming birthday.  I'm turning 50 this year, and somehow that number is really hard for me to swallow.  30 was easy peasy...  40 was no big deal, but 50 is half of 100! I think I'll just have my birthday and try to not think about the number.  (Wink, wink- like that's possible.)

Wanting hardwood floors.  If you've read any of my past Currentlys then you have heard this before. I know that I sound like a broken record, but I desperately need to get rid of this yucky carpet.

Needing to exercise more.  It's not a New Year's Resolution, it's a cold plain fact.  I try to plan exercise into my day, but when I'm done teaching 23 energetic Kindergartners all day, then prepping and setting up my classroom for the next day, and then hopping in the car to drive home, I'm just plain BUSHED!  Some days I can rally and get my running shoes on, but some days I need to pick up my daughter from practice or stop by the grocery store.  After that- there is absolutely NO WAY that I will have enough energy left to do anything.  (That's what 50 feels like)

Pageant Title  Miss Workaholic 2014- I don't have enough energy to work out, but I still manage to do work on my computer all evening.  (Hmmm)

Thanks for stopping by!  Here's the link to head back to the party.

Brownie Points

I have a lot of ways to reward good behavior in my class.  We tally points, we earn blue tickets, we get bear tickets, etc.  Those, I hand out regularly, but for my class, earning a Brownie Point is a little more difficult.  In fact, my class worked from September to January to fill up this tray of brownies.

To make the Brownie Points bulletin board, I simply took an empty box of brownie mix,  photos of real brownies that I laminated and then glued a magnet on the back, and a real baking sheet and stuck them on the wall.    I store the brownie pieces in the box and reach in and get one out when we have earned a brownie point.  I found this cute header somewhere, but I have searched and searched and for the life of me, I can't find where it came from, so I can't include the link for you- sorry.

My district does not allow baked goods from home, so I stopped by the store and picked up some Brownie Bites.  These are just like they sound, a bite of brownie.  They are super small and just the right size for a little treat.

My class was so excited to have finally filled up the brownie pan, they all went home talking about it that night.  The next day, they were beside themselves with excitement to get brownies from the teacher.  I gave everyone a Brownie Bite and then we recapped all the things we remembered doing to earn our brownie treats.   The kids munched away happily as they recounted the good things we had done.

Some of the kids noticed that I had a few brownies left in the bowl and asked for seconds.  I told them that I didn't have enough in this bowl for everyone to have seconds, but I did have more brownies is my bag.  (Little did they know that I had a pun coming their way!)  I just love stretching those little minds.

fun April Fools idea
I reached into the bag and started handing out the brown E's.  Everyone looked perplexed. (I loved it!)

"Mrs. Irick, what are these?" started echoing around the room.

"They are brown E's," I said.

"No they're NOT!" exclaimed the most adamant of my kiddos.

"Of course they are," I answered.  "OK.  What color are they?" I asked.

"Brown," they answered.

"And... what letter are they?" I continued.

"E," they replied.  It was then that many of the kids had that lightbulb moment.  I saw small grins begin to form.  Little heads started nodding with understanding.

"Oh!  I get it!" said a few.  "They are brown and they are an E, so they are brown E's!"  Now I had the whole group giggling and asking if they could take the brown E's home to their parents.  "Of course!" I said.

Lots of fun- and hopefully a kindergarten moment they will remember.

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