Friday, August 30, 2013

Five for Friday August 30th

Phew! I just finished up my 3rd week of school and I am exhausted. That's the reason I've been MIA around here for a week or two, but I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their weekly Five for Friday party! This hits all the highlights of things that went on this past week.

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1. First things first... please tell me I wasn't the only one who died with excitement over the *NSYNC reunion at the VMA's?! I was such a huge fan of theirs back in the day. But really, they sang for like 1 minute. WAY too short! I need more! {PS: I busted out my "No Strings Attached" album the next morning}

2. I introduced interactive notebooks to the kids this week and they could. not. even. get. over. it. They are so excited when I tell them to get out their "special notebooks" and I even gave them their very own box of 24-count "big kid" crayons to use when we solve our math journal prompts {from Deedee Wills}! Here's a sample of what we do for our shape of the day: on one side, the kids fill up the page with different sized shapes, then we brainstorm objects in the real world that are the same shape. While they go to specials, I print the picture map out, then we glue it with our shapes attributes page on the back.

3. I posted this picture on Instagram (follow me @thekindergarden) last night... I got this from Teacher T-Shirts and wore it to school today! I love it so much! It's the cute font and colors that get me. There are tons of super cute shirts on their website, visit it here:

4. We've really been diving into shapes concepts and one thing my kinder kids always seem to struggle with is identifying shapes that are turned a different direction or made into a larger or smaller size. We did a little activity with a rhombus where each student had their own, and we practiced turning it different ways and identifying the attributes of the shape to see if anything had changed. Once they realized it was the same every time, the little light bulb clicked on! Then we did this Create-a-Shape activity sheet to wrap it all up. You can find a whole set of these in my Shapes Galore for the Common Core! unit. :)

5. We've been learning our first few sight words (following the Kindergarten HM Journeys list) and one of my students' favorite things to make is our sight word watches from The Moffatt Girls. They love these things! I'll hear them ask their friend, "What time is it?" and they'll look at their watches and answer, "LIKE!" Love it!

Click on the Five for Friday photo at the beginning of my post to check out all the other posts... and maybe even join in yourself! So happy for the 3-day weekend!!! Enjoy, my friends!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

TPT Back to School Sale!! Get 28% off in my shop!

It's finally here! The long-awaited Back to School giant TPT sale. I've been adding things to my wishlist like crazy just waiting for the sale to come back around! I can't wait to stock up on some of the things I've been wanting to buy... and you can too! These sales don't come around too often, so you should definitely take advantage! Using the code, you will be able to get items for 28% off on August 18th and 19th. Click on the picture below to go straight to my store!

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Thanks so much to Kristen for the adorable promo!

Need some items for back to school? I've got you covered! You can get my newest unit, Counting Tools for Back to School {A Counting & Cardinality Unit}, which has tons of resources, stations, and activities for teaching common core math skills for the beginning of the year!

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In continuing my math theme, you can also find my best selling Shapes Galore for the Common Core unit! It's chock full of resources for teaching 2D and 3D shapes.

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Need something for teaching your kiddos alphabet concepts? Click on the picture below to check out my Easy as ABC {Alphabet Activity Pack}.

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Hope you'll find lots of great items during this sale! I'm hoping to grab a bunch of stuff I've had my eye on for months! Happy shopping!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taming the Wild: Teacher Week '13

Today is Taming the Wild Thursday on Teacher Week 2013 over at Blog Hoppin'! It's all about classroom management ideas for this post.

After attending a Whole Brain Teaching seminar my first year of teaching, I decided to try some of their management ideas and strategies in my own classroom. That year I attempted the rules and the scoreboard, and both were great for classroom management. Nowadays, the only part of Whole Brain Teaching I use on a consistent basis in my classroom is the 5 rules. I absolutely love them because the students take ownership of the rules themselves and they love reciting them while doing the motions! It's also a great way to redirect a friend who may not be making a "smart choice" by having the students remind them of the rule instead of it coming from me all the time. I downloaded these ADORABLE Whole Brain Teaching rule posters for free on TPT HERE!

In my classroom, I usually like to have 3 types of management reward opportunities: whole group, small group, and individual. For my whole group reward system, I do a marble jar. I put marbles in the jar for following directions, quiet/hard work, kindness, receiving compliments from other teachers, and "good thinking" responses. When the marble jar is completely filled up, they earn a marble jar party. Usually this involves some sort of special treat or snack that they don't normally get at school: popcorn, donuts, root beer floats, etc. I've been using the marble jar every year I've been teaching and it is very effective for student behavior! They love earning them every chance they can.

For small group rewards, I use a table points system. Each table can collect points for an entire week. Whichever table has the most points by the end of the week earns a trip to the prize box! I tell you, the prize box isn't filled with anything too exciting (stickers, pencils, erasers, bracelets, etc.) but to a kindergartener, my box may as well be filled with a million dollars! They love it!

As a grade level we also use the green, yellow, red behavior system. If they do have to change their card for whatever reason, we always give them an opportunity to earn back to green. We feel like this is a much better motivator for good behavior than if they were just stuck on a red or yellow forever. This gives them a chance to change it up and improve. If not, they stay. We mark what color the student got daily in their take home folders on their responsibility sheets.

For individual behavior rewards, I used to use incentive charts, but as I mentioned in my blog post on Tuesday, I was terrible at keeping up with them! So for this year, I've nixed them, but I may figure out a different type of individual reward for students who stay on green all week... perhaps putting their name into a drawing for an extra prize/activity. I'm still hashing that out, haha! But for now, this is what I'm using. My students are all in on each management system we have, which is half the battle! So far, so good on the behavior front... (knock on wood!)

Click on the picture below to see other great classroom management posts for Teacher Week '13!

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Teacher Week 2013: Now Teach! Organizing for Instruction (and a freebie!)

Today's teacher week topic is "Now Teach!". I'm gonna show you a little peek at how I organize for instruction.

This summer I made a promise to myself that I was going to get my classroom as organized as possible, so I went in a couple of weeks earlier than normal in July to get that accomplished! Needless to say, during the cleaning process things got worse before they got better (don't they always?), but now I'm more organized than ever and I am loving it! 

I got this organizational system from Lakeshore a few years back and it was one of the best purchases I ever made! I use it to organize my lesson plans and resources for the week. It's so handy because I keep it up front where I do most of my teaching, so everything is right there for me to grab and go throughout the day. As you can see from the picture... 2 days to go till the weekend!!!

On the same shelving unit is where my student's table buckets are stored. I like to keep them off of the kids' tables to provide for more space and... less distractions! I keep the basic essentials in here: glue bottles, scissors, and glue sticks. It's at their level, so it's easy for the kids to take care of their supplies on their own.

I keep most of my math manipulatives stored in this cubby shelf. I didn't make labels for these drawers like you'll see on some of my other tubs because I wanted the kids to be able to see what was inside without having to pull out the drawer. On top of the shelves are where my pencil cans are kept: one for sharp, one for dull. And can I just say that I absolutely love using the fat pencils at the beginning of the year simply because I don't have to sharpen them so often?!

See the cubby hole in the bottom right corner? That's the only part of this block of cubbies that doesn't hold some form of teaching curriculum. Why, you ask? This is where the kids keep their interactive notebooks. They can easily access it themselves and it keeps all the journals in one place so that one doesn't accidentally walk away to their house!

This shelf in the front of my classroom is where I store word wall resources, circle time games and activities, and miscellaneous calendar items -- anything used near the front of the room that I'll need easy access to. This is also where I store literacy station baskets for the week - those are the items on the bottom of the shelf. Later on in the year when we are no longer learning how to "do centers", this will be filled with a lot more baskets!

Last year, my class was very high academically and seemed to finish their work more quickly than classes I had had in the past. You know how students get when they are left to their own devices, so I decided to create this "fast finishers" crate. Each student has their own file filled with sight word readers, ABC books, roll and cover games, etc. Anytime they finished their work early, they could go to their folder on their own and choose which activity they wanted to do. They absolutely LOVED it, and I did too! It made things run so much more smoothly. It's not exactly a novel concept, but after I implemented it I wondered why I never had before!

Okay, back to my original statement at the beginning of this post -- remember how I mentioned that I had come in extra early over the summer in order to get myself organized? Well this is a big result of that organization! I cleaned out a couple of shelves in my office that had served no great purpose before and turned 2 of them into a math shelf and a reading shelf. The first picture shows you my reading resources shelf, where I keep items such as my sight word hands, magnetic letters, word work activities, and more!

This second shelf holds some of my math resources such as number stamps, spinner game whiteboards, dice, and games! It's so wonderful having everything all in one area.. no stopping to search for items because I forgot where they were!

I also organized a few of my bigger themes such as Fall, Christmas, and Valentine's Day into tubs. I bought these from Ikea last year for super cheap.

Interested in having the labels that you see in these pictures? They are available as a FREEBIE in my TPT store! Click on the picture below to download them... I am willing to update the product within reason with any other labels you need, so take a look!

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I've struggled with finding a good system to store my math and literacy centers. I had been creating these manila folders with a cover page for each game, but as I've collected more, I don't like how big and clunky they are.

I was fortunate enough to receive a Wal-Mart gift card from our wonderful school PTO and bought this hanging file folder box as a new way to store my games... and pieces from Deedee Wills' super awesome Poetry Station Bundle! As you can see, I haven't put it to good use yet, but I am very excited to put it all together!

We got a new reading series this year, HM Journeys, and I love how they came in these convenient skinny tubs! It did all the organization for me! Much nicer than the two huge clunky cardboard boxes the old series came in.

Here's another fruit of my summer organization labor. For my entire first four years of teaching, I had all of my extra school supplies in one giant tub. Uh, not exactly the most handy way to keep supplies, as I had to dig through everything to actually find what I wanted. I found this awesome HUGE 5-drawer tub at Wal-Mart and finally got all my supplies in order! It's so wonderful... and easy for me to send the kids over to get an item without me having to stop instruction.

The last photo is where I need your help... I bought this great organizer from Ikea over the summer, but now that I've hung it up, I can't decide what to actually keep in it! Do you have any ideas for me? 

Link up over at Blog Hoppin' to join in on the last 2 days of Teacher Week 2013!

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teacher Week '13: Classroom Digs

Good evening! I'm back with my second post of the day to participate in Teacher Week 2013 with Tuesday's Classroom Digs: Classroom Tour. I've been in school for a week now, which means my classroom has become slightly more disheveled, but that's the way it goes! Excuse the camera phone shots as well...

I'm fortunate to have a pretty big classroom, and a glorious shared office space to boot! Here's the shot of my main area of the classroom.

This tree is a new-ish part of my classroom this year. I say new-ish because I had the tree on my wall last year, but I used it to hold incentive charts. Maybe it's just me, but I always seem to fizzle out and following up with incentive charts throughout the whole year. The days get busy, and it's the last thing I think about, or I tell the student they've earned a sticker for their chart and then I forget to put it on! So this year, I decided... no more individual incentive charts! I just am awful at keeping up with them! So I made some clothespin leaves for a cuteness factor and made it into a student work showcase tree. I love how it turned out! I could never find a great place to display student work and this was the perfect solution. And no, I don't only have 12 students... these are just the ones that did the self-portrait at Meet the Teacher Night!

 Here's a close-up of one of the leaves! The clipart I used is from the fabulous Little Red Schoolhouse. :)

Zooming back out a bit further, here's what my book center looks like. There's no rhyme or reason to it (I need to increase my book collection!), but I just wanted to make it a little cozy corner.. the kids love sitting in there to look at books.

Right next to my book center, there's a little cove of cubbies that I use to hold some of my curriculum materials. Next to that is this open shelf, which I covered with a this D-backs banner that I won at a game a few years back. Amazingly it was the perfect width for this shelving unit! It wasn't very pretty without a curtain, and this way I got to represent my favorite baseball team.

And a sneak peek behind the curtain....

Continuing my tour around the room... here's my word wall! I love my paisley border, it's adorable. Right in front of that is my writing center. The kids haven't used it yet, but when it's in full swing, we'll add vocabulary posters to the area that go with our new reading series. The plastic drawers hold different kinds of paper and alphabet resources for the kids to use. In the little shelf next door, my Ikea baskets hold resources for circle time, the word wall, and calendar time. The bottom houses literacy station baskets!

Next up is my calendar area. My magnetic pockets hold all the calendar cards and extra pieces. I created the velcro ten frame last year and it was SO helpful with teaching my kids base 10 concepts.

This shelf houses my students' table buckets of supplies, extra activities, and my lesson plan tubs for the week.

Along this wall is where I store most of my math manipulatives. The empty pocket chart will house sight word cards as we learn new words each week. We started a predictable chart this week, that's what else is hanging on the board next to my "I can..." statements.

Next to the door are these cubbies, which I've turned into a bookshelf/storage.

I organized my books a few years back, nothing fancy, but since we got a new reading series (HM Journeys), I'm going to have to revamp my book organization! The ones you're looking at in this picture are sorted by theme from the old series. This shelf holds the books the kids don't get to touch for fear of destruction... anyone else have this problem, or is it just with kinder kids...? Ha.

This is the area right behind my horseshoe table. I'm not sure what I'll be using the bulletin board for yet, but the border has more of my Eric Carle theme like I had with my book center. The magazine file holders in the shelf are empty at the moment, but that's what I use to organize my small group activities and resources. And of course I have to represent the Phoenix Coyotes... is it hockey season yet?

Last but not least, here's a glimpse into the office I share with my best buddy who teaches next door! We LOVE having this extra space... see all the shelves lining the wall on the right? I didn't take too close of a picture for fear of you running away screaming at the sight of my cluttered desk...

Oh, and in case you were wondering about the John Travolta masterpiece in the background...

Three years ago, one of our other kinder teammates discovered this incredible 70s style poster of the one and only Travolta in a discarded pile of old teaching posters, so one night after we had gone home, she snuck into our rooms and hung it up. The mustache was added by a mysterious party a year later... and we are never taking it down!!! Needless to say, we get a lot of strange looks from people who come into our office for the first time. HA!

Phew! That was a mouthful. My classroom isn't necessarily all cutesie-fied or matchy like most of the other incredible classrooms I'm sure you'll see around the blogs, but it's home. As long as it's colorful, fun, and intentional, I'm happy!

Click on the picture below to link up at Blog Hoppin'!

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