Monday, November 21, 2011

"I'm thankful!"...for this linky party!

The lovely ladies over at the fabulous blog What the Teacher Wants are hosting a Thankful linky party! Such a perfect idea for connecting with others with Thanksgiving only 3 days away (um...what?!).

1. What are you thankful for in your classroom?
I am super thankful for my amazing, wonderful kinder team. We have so much fun and work so well together that it makes this job much easier! I don't know what I'd have done without them my first few years of teaching; they are wonderful. As far as actually IN the classroom, I am so thankful for my projector and my document camera. I don't know HOW I ever taught kindergarten without a document camera with all the modeling that is required. It's my lifesaver. My projector allows me to use technology with my kiddos to my little heart's content! I am also so thankful for my students. They can drive me crazy at times, but I love 'em to bits.

2. What person are you most thankful for?
I'm going to cheat and change person to <b>people</b>, because I am so blessed to have the most amazing family in the world. My mom, dad, brother and I love spending time together and we laugh about all our little inside jokes we have about everything. God has definitely blessed me with my great family and I'm so thankful that we are so close with one another.

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?
I am definitely thankful for Deanna Jump's blog. Hers was the first teaching blog I ever came across and I was so amazed by her incredible activities and lessons she did with her students. It opened me up to a whole new world of ideas and things to do with my kinder kiddos and I thank her greatly for sharing with us!

I'm also thankful for Cara's blog at The First Grade Parade. Her creations are really second to none. I'm so grateful that she has shared so many wonderful things with us for free and I REALLY wish she taught kindergarten because I totally love all of her ideas but can't use them all in kindergarten! ;) She inspires me to make fabulous supplemental materials for my class and I love seeing what new activity/craftivity she comes up with next. Love, love her ideas.

I'm also thankful for Fran over at Kindergarten Crayons. How she finds time to teach AND make fabulous resources is beyond me! I'm so thankful that she is so generous with her wonderful creations and allows us to download them all. And the thing is... every single thing she creates is FANTASTIC!

I love so many other great blogs, so this is just a little highlight of the best of the best. Thanks to everyone out there in teaching blogland for sharing, talking, and laughing!

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?
I must say, I am a girl who is a sucker for sports. HUGE Diamondbacks and Coyotes fan. My family has Cardinals season tickets. I live for March Madness. I watch NHL on the Fly and MLB Tonight for fun. If I am at home and one of my beloved teams is playing on TV, I'll be the first one turning it to that channel. Sports are such an amazing thing to be a part of; and I love both watching and attending the games. I love it and am so thankful for it! And another one that is even more of a guilty pleasure, but I'm not sure I'm thankful for it... BRAVO reality TV shows. Seriously every single one. Real Housewives? Sucked in. Flipped Out? Gotta watch. Top Chef... don't even get me started, love love it.

5. What are you most thankful for? 
I'm most thankful for my God who blesses me beyond measure and loves me. I'm thankful for my family, friends, my job, co-workers, and every single student that has ever walked through my classroom door.

Go join the linky party over at What the Teacher Wants! Super fun! Happy Thanksgiving. :)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fun With Color Words!

My class just wrapped up their "colors" theme last week and we have done so many activities with color words and color-themed stories.

My district uses the Houghton Mifflin reading program, so all of our kinder themes last 3 weeks. I'll do the stories from the reading program for the first 2 weeks, and then the third week provides me with a little more freedom to use my own themed books that I love. During that week we read stories like Harold and the Purple Crayon, Pinkalicious, Caps for Sale, Go Away Big Green Monster, & The Crayon Box That Talked.

For the latter book, I created a center where my kids had to write the color word on the game pieces, match it to the same color on the game board, and then, when they were done, use it to fill out and color the recording sheet.

I posted it in my last entry, but I'll put it here again for your free downloading pleasure if you missed it! Click on the link below to download the center from Google Docs.

To help the kids learn to read and write their color words, my kinder team and I have them sing color word songs. I noticed such a difference between my first year class, when I didn't have the songs, and my second year class, who did, with how quickly they remembered and were able to read all the words. I swear, there is a song for everything! But it's more fun that way!

Another book we read for this theme was A Color of His Own by Leo Leonni. After we read the story, I have my kids write their own sentence stem to tell what color their chameleon turned and what object made it do so. I give them the sentence stem, "My chameleon turned ________________ when it sat on a _____________." They make their own chameleon (I just found a template online), glue it to the writing sheet, and then draw the object that it stood on to make it change colors. I got some cute and creative ones this year! One kid said a tiger, so he drew orange and black stripes on his chameleon. Other kids chose rainbows, leaves, cherries, and strawberries. I love how excited they get for this activity! Unfortunately I don't have my writing sheet available to download, but you can feel free to use this idea and make it your own. I'll try to take some pictures of the finished writing... I don't know how anyone takes pictures in their class, kindergarten is too exhausting for that! Haha!

Even though we have moved on from our colors reading theme, I don't stop integrating those activities with the color words. We're onto a families theme - what stories or activities do you guys like to do with colors and/or families? I've seen some great ideas out there in blogland already. Till next time!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Back in action... finally!

Phew! So I finally hunkered down and set up/installed the internet at my new place. I've been about a month and a half without... hence the sparse updates. But I've been taking loads of pictures at school in hopes that I would one day be able to share them with you... and I have some freebies for you to make up for lost time!

This year's class is exhausting, but I love 'em. I love getting into this part of the year where I don't have to dwell as much on teaching them every single routine and I can start on a lot more fun projects for them to do now that they're "used" to going to school.

Here's a little update on what's been going on. Sorry for the poor quality; all I've had is my phone to take pics!:

So when school started a little over a month ago, my room began like this.....

And then slowly added these next pieces to finally all come together...


 And a sweet parent brought me these cake pops at meet the teacher night! Aren't they cute? And they were SO yummy... I was so surprised, I've never gotten a gift right off the bat before! So thoughtful!

I love how every year, my kids just adore center time. It's the most fun for me, too! They get so into the little stations each week. Last week I set up the "Mixed Up Alphabet" center. I had a big basket of magnetic letters that they had to put in order on a magnetic shelf. Once they ordered it, they filled out the recording sheet with the missing letters. Click the picture of the worksheet below to download! (Graphics courtesy of Scrappin' Doodles)

And here are my kids actually completing the center... they loved using the big letters. :)

Finally, we just started our Colors unit in reading, so I made a color word center to go along with it. Click here to go to Google Docs and download!

Next time I'll share a little bit more about some of the activities I've been doing in my classroom. I can't believe it's already the end of September! Where have these first 2 months gone??

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Free For All Friday!...

...Even though it's really Saturday. :) Internet access is a no-go at my new place as of yet, so I have to update whenever I have wi-fi access at the moment. Besides, isn't it always a good day for free stuff?

I made these after school pick-up signs to put on my door... feel free to download! And if there's another program/pick-up you'd like me to make one for, just shoot me a comment and I'd be happy to oblige! Click the picture to go to the Google Doc, there are 3 more pages to view. :)

I also made this color & sort shapes activity sheet that I'm having my kids use next week. Have your students color each shape with the corresponding color word; then cut out and sort into the table above. One of my teammates used it with her class already and said they were so into it! (Again, click the picture to go to the Google Doc!)

This one's made to be printed on legal size paper, but I'm sure you could finagle it to be printed on regular sized paper if you don't have any available!

I've just finished up my 3rd week of school, and things are rockin' and rollin' with my kinders. They are a CHATTY group this year! And I think 6 of them have megaphones permanently attached to their vocal chords... love 'em, though. It's gonna be a fun year!

Hop on over to Blog Hoppin' to join in on the fun! Teacher Week is over, but you can still link to your posts for another couple of days. :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Teacher Week 2011: Meet the Teacher Monday

So the fabulous gals over at Blog Hoppin' started Teacher Week 2011 and here is my post for Meet the Teacher Monday! So excited to be a part of it! So here goes... more about me:
Tell us a little something about you...

I'm Caitlin, and I am currently blogging while watching my beloved Arizona Diamondbacks play. I am a sports fanatic, I LOVE baseball and hockey and go to all the Cardinals games with my family! I love spending time with my amazing friends and family. I enjoy playing pickleball - a little known sport that's a cross between tennis, badmintion, and ping pong. It's FUN! I also love trying to cook/bake new recipes and I sing in my church worship band.

How long have you been teaching?

This is my third year teaching; all in kindergarten. I never thought kindergarten would be my first choice for teaching, but it's what was available at the time, and I ended up LOVING it! I work with an amazing, amazing team of kinder teachers and we just have a blast together at work. I love seeing how much my kinder babies grow in a year's time! Though I will admit, I can't wait till this first month is over so they'll finally be more settled into the school routine. ;) 

You might not know...

I got a scholarship to play college basketball in Nebraska, I've been on The Eric Byrnes Show in Arizona, and Mark Grace CIRCLED ME WITH THE TELESTRATOR DURING A D-BACKS BROADCAST AND IT WAS AMAZING.

What are you looking most forward to this school year?

I'm looking forward to trying new things with my kinders this year and possibly revamping some old activities to make them more exciting. Part of the thing I love most about the teaching blogosphere is all the fabulous ideas I get from you all. I've tried some of them in my class and they have all been a hit! I'm also looking forward to just growing in my teaching abilities to continue to better myself. :)

What do you need to improve?

I seriously need to get organized. I normally give myself a few weeks before school starts to get in my classroom, get everything out, and organize it to my liking. However, they finished cleaning our classrooms VERY late into July and I didn't get the opportunity to do all the organizing I wanted to. I have a tendency to keep my desk/table cluttered and I really need to stop! I also really want to put more of a focus on teaching math and doing more math centers in the afternoons.

What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

I love sharpies, flair pens, and post-it notes. I also love getting as many books as possible to have more of a variety to read to my kids. And I love using my document camera and projector - I wonder now how I ever taught without those things! And my kiddos personally love using their individual white boards.

* * * * *
Glad to be a part of the Teacher Week linky party! Can't wait to get connected with more of you!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Back in action...

PHEW! I haven't come around these parts in awhile, partly due to the fact that in the same week I moved into my own apartment AND started the first week of school! It was total craziness! I moved in on Sunday and I started school the next day. I couldn't find anything! I've taken a bunch of pictures of my classroom to share with you all, but I've gotta wait till I get my computer set up to get the pictures on here. I'm liking how I have it re-arranged; it's more of an open space than I had last year.

This first week of school only added to the craziness -- on the 3rd day of school, we found out that we had to lose one of our kinder teachers due to low class sizes. Of course, we all personally thought that 18 kids in a class was perfect, but, wishful thinking, ya know. ;) So we had to split up that class and we all added about 3 more kids apiece to sort of throw a wrench into the week.

The first week of kindergarten is EXHAUSTING! Any other kinder teachers agree? You have to repeat yourself a million times, teach them how to use everything from a glue stick to book baskets, and be as patient as possible with the sweet little friends. My kiddos this year love to talk... in the loudest voices possible... "inside voice" is going to be the key phrase for the year, I think.

I'll be back soon to share some of my beginning of the year activities!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pinterest Linky Party!

Michelle over at Michelle's Math in the Middle is having a Pinterest linky party! Like many of you, I LOVE Pinterest! I have gotten so many fun decorating, baking, DIY, and classroom ideas that I am dying to try! It is so fun to search through all the fabulous ideas on there. Here's a link to mine if you want to check it out; and of course if you would like an invite, I'd be glad to send you one! Just leave your e-mail in the comments section. I got my invite from Lindsey over at her wonderful blog The Teacher Wife -- check her site out, too!

My Pinterest page (click the picture below):
Follow Me on Pinterest

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Teacher Discount Days

Hey friends! I happened to be perusing Office Max today when I noticed a sign for their Teacher Day 2011, and it got me wondering if any other stores happened to be doing the same thing! I did a bit of research and was only able to find information for a few places, but if y'all know of any other stores that are doing the same thing, let me know and I'll add it to the list! Here goes, and remember, the dates vary for different states - the dates/times I'm listing are strictly for Arizona but you can at least (hopefully) use the info to find out when yours is happening!

Teacher Days 2011 & Info
1. Office Max (AZ: 7/31, 8/1) -- Free gift for the first 150 teachers, but every teacher will get a tote bag where everything you can fit inside will be 20% off!

2. Staples (AZ: 8/6, 9am-12pm) -- Free gift bag for the first 100 teachers; plus extra coupons. It didn't say anything about certain discounts off, however - they didn't last year, either. But still yay!

3. Big Lots (AZ: 8/13) -- Didn't say ANY info for what teachers can get, but just had the information for the day it was occurring! Have any of you been to the Big Lots teacher day in the past that can give us all some inside info? ;)

4. Lakeshore Learning -- Lakeshore is having a 20% off sale for most of their store until September 1st!

Okay, now this next thing has nothing to do with a teacher day, and it isn't even a store! But I saw a link about it on the Deals Plus website and HAD to share! is offering all teachers a FREE Premium Club membership - it's normally worth $39.99! I checked it out and it is AWESOME. You can create photo slideshows, creative parent newsletters, overviews of your teaching units to share with parents at home so they can reinforce learning with their kids (LOVE this), scrapbooks, awards, yearbooks, and more. You just have to fill out a little application thing that proves you're actually a teacher and then they send you an invite. I can't wait to try it out!

That was all I was able to come up with to save money we all inevitably spend on our own classrooms every year... let me know if there are any others you know about so we can spread the word! :) I can't believe I even have to think about getting school stuff again! I go back officially in less than 2 weeks, where has the summer gone?!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Target dollar section... hurts so good!

Attention, everyone: the Target dollar section is pure evil. It calls to you and pulls you in... and resistance is futile. Seriously, have you guys seen the new stuff they have already put in there? A couple of years ago, I loved it when they started including teaching resources in the dollar spot. But hello, they have kept improving their quality of materials every year! They have a bunch of caddies, baskets, buckets, and organizers -- super cheap compared to the ones they have at the teaching stores. I also grabbed a few pointers there since my kiddos are obsessed with using them every year -- are your kids the same way? They LOVE using pointers around the room and beg me to let them use them, even during free choice time! Here are some of the cute ones they had:

I was surprised they actually had school stuff in there already... I didn't think they'd start getting any of that in until July. I've been finding myself thinking a lot about school already - I even had the "first day of school" dream already! I'm like, it's too early for that!! A teacher's work is never done, I suppose. I'm hoping to work on getting some more stuff in my TPT store as well as give out some free downloads here, so keep an eye out!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Join in the linky party....

So the fabulous blog Clutter Free Classroom is hosting a blog-stalking linky party, which I love, because now I can find even more amazing blogs to follow and snag awesome ideas from! You can check out the whole list at the link above. I haven't had my blog for very long, but hope to really get it going once school starts again this August and hopefully share as much with y'all as everyone else has done for me!

Happy Summer, everyone!!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Monster Match Game!

I've created my first product on TeachersPayTeachers, and the best news is, it's FREE! Woohoo! I've created a monster-themed uppercase and lowercase letter match game. It's a great activity for the beginning of Kindergarten, which we all know will be upon us before we know it! It includes 10 uppercase/lowercase letter combinations on colored cards, a recording sheet, and full directions. Check out my TPT store HERE!

Check out a sneak peek!

Thanks for checking it out! :)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

School's out for summer...

My last day of school was Thursday. Woohoo! I'm sad to see my kinder babies go, but am welcoming this break with open arms! Tuesday we had our Kindergarten Luau Promotion, and it was so stinkin' cute. My kiddos sang and danced to 6 songs and received their promotion certificate along with a lei. All of us teachers got a little lump in our throats when they ended the show with "Aloha Oe"; a Hawaiian farewell song. They've come so far in a year! I think that's one of the things I love most about teaching kinder. They come to you crying, having potty accidents, rolling around on the carpet, not knowing how to go to school... and then they leave you as little responsible students who can read and write like crazy. Love seeing how much growth they make! The hardest part is knowing you have to go back to square one in August with a new batch! Haha!

This summer I hope to start making a lot of my own supplemental activities and units to go along with what we have, especially since we have to implement common core standards (anyone else with me on that??) next year. They totally changed up our math standards so we need to get crackin' making our own materials since our math curriculum is terrible! If any of you guys have ideas you want to share that you will be doing with common core, I'd love to hear them!

Happy summer!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Animal Fun

My kids just wrapped up their unit on animals and they could not even get over finding all the facts they could about each one we studied. I used a few fabulous ideas from Ms. Deanna Jump's Zoo Unit from TPT and the kids loved every activity, especially the Alligator Pie poem activities. Every time kids finished with their work early, they BEGGED me to let them get pointers and read the poem aloud to each other. Before we actually made and ate the alligator pie, the kids added the poem to their interactive notebooks, rewrote it, and circled sight words they could read in the poem. Then, they had to draw a picture of what they thought the alligator pie was going to look like. Some of their ideas cracked me up!

We also learned about elephants by creating a schema chart. I love this idea because it really gets the kids thinking about facts and non-fiction concepts. They love to find out if their idea was true or not!

We also did a rhyming word sort activity right before reading The Three Little Pigs. Each student had a card with a word that they had to find around the room, read, and sort into the correct part of the chart:

We finished up the unit with a field trip to the zoo! So fun to see my kinder babies all excited to see everything. I can't believe we are winding down the end of the year so soon.. is it just me, or does every year fly by?

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Wind Blew

Last week was my final week using the reading theme "Spring is Here" with my kiddos. Usually during the 3rd week of the unit theme, my team and I create our own reading activities/stories to do that go along with the theme simply because we get tired of reading the same stories over and over again!

We read the story The Wind Blew by Pat Hutchins (classic!) and focused on the rhyming words in the story, so I came up with a Rhyming Word Kite for my kids to make and record all the rhyming words we heard in the story. They loved making the kites and were so getting into all the rhyming words they found!

Here are the templates for your downloading happiness :D -- The Wind Blew rhyming kites (Google Doc)

This week we launch head on into our World of Animals theme. Should be fun! We take our first field trip to the zoo on Friday...

Hello, blogland.

Hello, everyone! I've been inspired by some of you fantastic teaching bloggers such as Mrs. Jump and The First Grade Parade to start my own blog to share ideas, gather ideas, and give a glimpse into the wonderful (and sometimes not so wonderful!) world of Kindergarten! I admire you all who give up your time to share ideas for teachers everywhere, so hopefully I can at least be a small part of that, too.

This is my second year teaching Kindergarten and I love love LOVE it! There is never a dull moment with those 5-year olds! It is challenging, to be sure, but there is nothing better than seeing their excitement over learning and their extreme love for their teacher and their school at such a young age! The team of teachers I work with is amazing and I feel so lucky to be a part of it.

Got any questions for me, new readers? Feel free to shoot 'em over and I'll answer as best I can. :)

--Miss O.