Saturday, August 20, 2016

Beginning the Year Word Work Ideas (With lots of Freebies and Resources)

It's the second week of school and we are working on word work! I introduce a letter everyday and we focus on capital and lowercase, vowels vs consonants, and handwriting (I really like Tara West's KinderPhonics program for this). We listen to our letter video everyday

and then practice writing that letter.

I love {THESE} handwriting sheet freebies!

 I'm personally a fan of the handwriting-house metaphor.

Tall letters start at the roof.
Small letters start at the window.
Fall letters go into the basement.
All letters touch the floor (so they don't float away!)

After the handwriting, kids break into 5 word work stations that rotate daily through the week.

Station 1-practicing letters and sounds with playdough

Station 2-making pattern blocks letters

Station 3-building lego letters

Station 4-using magnet letters to match letters

Station 5-letter puzzles (Dollar Tree, Target "Dollar" bins, etc)

These stations are easy for the kids to do independently and help them practice station rules like staying in their spot and working the whole time. Plus, they give me time to complete what seems like the many, many baseline assessments we have to give. I hope these ideas and freebies help you get your little ones start out their word work with a bang!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Guess who's unnaturally excited about math tubs?!?!

Ok...are you ready for a HUGE teacher nerd moment?? I have been SO excited about my math tubs this week! I mean, like really, super excited! Not quite Christmas excited, but dangerously close...

We're doing our counting unit, so I want to give my kids a lot of practice counting, making numbers, and sequencing numbers, so here are my differentiated math tubs:

Tub 1:
We're making numbers 11-20 with geo-boards and practicing putting the 1 first in these tricky teen numbers.
You can get these number geoboard cards for FREE {HERE}.

Need more help with this concept? Here's a catchy little video to watch ('ll be in your head all day...)

Tub 2:
It's probably not going to be the favorite station, but good ol' fashion handwriting is always a need.  . I love the worksheet below. It's free from a site where students can write to 10, 25, 50 or 99/100.

Get this freebie {HERE}

Tub 3:
My school is working on becoming a STEAM school, so my kiddos are working on this marble run activity at our STEAM station. Kids are practicing working together to build a structure that the marble will roll down as well as looking at the motions of the marble.

Tub 4:
This tub is good ol' fashioned counting. Students complete a differentiated counting sheet or a spinner sequencing game. Then they choose the "Count and Link" elephants from Lakeshore or a counting puzzle I think I got from Wal-Mart.

Tub 5:
More building numbers! Here the students are using unifix cubes to build numbers 1-10 and make sure they're going the right way. They have a model that shows how many cubes to use for each number, but boy was this station tough!! This little guy got it, though!

Get these mats for free {HERE}
Tub 6:
Computers!!! A crowd favorite. My kids went to Starfall and ABCya and chose math games to play.

So those are my 6 tubs. Not all of my math tubs are differentiated, but some are. For these tubs, I let kids know which activity to do with different shapes. Each child's name tag has a shape on it (written with a vis-a-vis marker so groups are easy to change). The bags at the differentiated stations also have shapes on them. Kids have to get their activity from the bag with the matching shape. Of course they need help with this at first, but I know they'll catch on quickly.

That's all, folks!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Color Words with LOTS of Freebies!

I've made it through my first month of school, and I finally feel like more of a teacher and less of a cat-herder! Happy dance time! One of my first learning goals for my kinder-kiddos is COLOR WORDS. We start by reading Pete the Cat and Brown Bear, Brown Bear.

By the way, this little joke just makes me smile!

Anyway, after reading the books, we color pictures that have color words. Students have to read the words and use the correct color. This is also a great time to practice neatness and fine motor skills. For extra help,  I give each student a color chart. They keep these in their crayon boxes so they are always handy.

Click {HERE} the get your own set...for FREE!

At stations, students...

1. Stamp color words in play dough and with ink stampers

Get this stamping freebie {HERE}. takes FOREVER for kids to finish. Plan accordingly  =)

2. Put together color word puzzles.
You can get these puzzles from my TPT pack...only $1.50!
What a steal!  =)

Higher students unscramble these color word sentences.
What's that? You want another freebie? Ok! {HERE} it is!

3. Play computer games with color words. 
PSA: Spelling City is a great site for this. Sign up for a free account and add a list of color words (or any other sight word). Students can play all sorts of fun games like unscrambling the letters, finding the missing letter, and a hangman-like cat and mouse game.

What are your favorite COLOR WORDS ideas??

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

What I changed to make my first week a success

Last week was probably the best first week of school I've ever had! My new friends are a sweet little group, and I think we're going to have a great year together!

I tweaked some things this year that helped me have first week success. I used to plan out every minute of the day with story time and coloring sheets and art projects and school tours. None of those things are bad, but I was constantly "on" and by the end of the day, I was exhausted! Plus, I had to endure these questions all day:

"Can I play with the playdough?"
"Can I play with the Legos?"
"Can I play on the computer?"

That's when I realized that all my kids really wanted to do was PLAY! So this year, I LET THEM!! I changed my lesson plans and let go of some of the cutesy activities (not all, but some). Instead, I put in a lot of free play. Each afternoon, I pulled out some super easy activities for my kids to do:
  • unifix cubes
  • links
  • pattern blocks
  • 3D blocks
  • Legos
  • playdough
  • art (markers and paper)
  • toys (old princesses and dinosaurs)
  • computers

Let me back up...Before we started stations each day, we practiced our 4 station rules:
     1. Stay in your spot
     2. Use an inside voice
     3. Share the toys
     4. Work the whole time.
These are the same rules we use for math stations and reading stations, so now the students are already familiar with them.

Then, I split the kids into 5 groups of 4-5 students, and they had about 10-15 minutes to play at each station before we rotated. This was FABULOUS!!!! It gave them time to explore the materials in the classroom, get to know their classmates, and practice their station behavior. Plus, this was a time when all eyes weren't on me. I could breathe. I could double check how everyone was going home. I could give baseline tests. I could sit at a table and just enjoy my students.

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to use many of these same stations, but I'll replace one or two each week with more academic activities (handwriting, letter puzzles, spelling color words, rolling dice and counting...that kind of thing). This gradual approach will hopefully set us up for station success this year!

By the way, here are some cute videos we used this week to introduce station rules:

Inside voice...


Whether or not you've started back yet, I hope some of these ideas help you with your first weeks of school!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Sunday Scoop! (8/16/15)

I believe this is my first time linking up with The Teaching Trio for the Sunday Scoop to share a little bit about my plans for the day. Here goes!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Five for Friday, June 26

Ahhh! This week has been the PERFECT combination of doing stuff and doing nothing!
I {HEART} summer break!!!!
Summer reading
I heard about these books on NPR and thought, "Asian billionaires...that sounds like a totally different world. Sure! Why not?" I never expected them to be so good! I'm talking, I have DEVOURED these books over the last week or so. 
Tip: Don't read the second book (China Rich Girlfriend) first. You won't be totally lost, but you'll wonder why the author doesn't stop to explain more of the characters. I may or may not know this from personal experiences (oops!)  =)
All people who live in or near Atlanta: YOU MUST GO TO THE HIGH MUSEUM!!!! They have a Mo Willems exhibit right now with all of his super lovable characters! I was in heaven.
My niece spent the night with me this week and we toiled at the pool. Obvious torture.
Look who's been married for 3 years?! My hubby and I celebrated at one of those super nice restaurant where you take a bite of food and have to resist the urge to close your eyes and moan because IT. IS. SO. GOOD!
 Next week is VBS week. We're going to Journey off the Map!
That's all for now. Hope you're all have a wonderful summer, too! Until next time!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Play in Kindergarten: We want our blocks back!!! (PLUS FREEBIES)

I have read a bunch of articles (like this one and this one) posted by wonderful kindergarten bloggers about the importance of bringing play back to kindergarten, and I want to say I whole-heartedly agree!

The funny thing about this whole controversy is I think everyone wants the same thing: kids who are independent problem solvers, persevering scholars, challenged and engaged learners, and kind human beings. Our jobs is to remind our lovely administrators and the powers-that-be that PLAY strengthens these characteristics, it doesn't diminish them.

So today, let's talk about blocks

Wooden blocks, Legos, pattern blocks...we have so many blocks in our classroom. How do blocks compliment rigor? do they not?!

  • Blocks help students learn spatial reasoning (Which block would be best to put in that spot? Why does it fit the best?) as well as hand-eye coordination.
  • Blocks bring out imaginative play where students tell their own stories using their block creations.
  • Blocks give students practice working together and sharing.
  • Blocks help students problem solve and figure out ways to make their creations bigger and better.
  • Blocks are fun! Students will be engaged and associate school with a place that they want to be.
Blocks also teach content. Here in Georgia we have scientific habits of mind as part of our science standards. Every one of these standards can be taught through the use of blocks:

And that's just science (and not even the content science)! How else can we use blocks in the classroom???

  • Building number sense (Show me 7 blocks. How many more do you need to get to 10?)
  • Composing simple shapes to form larger shapes (What happens if I put these two triangles together?)
  • Adding and subtracting (You have 4 blocks and I give you 3 more. How many do you have now?)
  • Not to mention the sorting and measuring already mentioned above!)

  • Building letters out of blocks (click {HERE} for printable lego letter cards)
  • Building a setting for a story (Where did this story take place? Let's build a model of it.)
  • Retelling a story or nursery rhyme (Let's build Humpty Dumpty's wall and reenact the story.)
  • Using vocabulary and oral language (Tell me about what you built.)
  • Writing about our block creations

SS/Science (content standard):
  • Building maps of towns and classrooms
  • Building places for community helpers to work
  • Showing gravity (Why does this block fall on the ground instead of floating to the ceiling? What will happen if we put this big block on top...why?)
  • Showing motion (What can I do so this car rolls faster down the block?)

Oh my goodness...I'm sure these ideas only scrape the iceberg of block ideas. With a little creativity, we can use blocks to teach almost anything! Here are some freebies from TPT to go in your block station.

Click {HERE}

Click {HERE}

Click {HERE}
Click {HERE}

I hope these help bring blocks back into your classroom!!
How do you use blocks in your class???