Saturday, October 25, 2014

Halloween Fun!

Before I begin this blog post, I have a very important announcement:

Can I get an amen?!

Seriously though, the week of Halloween is always full of fun, October themed learning activities, but kids cannot even contain their excitement the day of Halloween. And this year, they can be at home during their post-candyfest the following day! Woohoo!

Last year, my students participated in tons of fun Halloween/October themed math and literacy centers. The great part is, it didn't matter if it was an activity we had previously done - if it was revamped with a little pumpkin or spider clipart, they jumped for joy at getting to use these activities! I love creating fun, themed activities for my students to participate in. It makes it fun for me as a teacher, too!

Here are just a few of the math stations we'll be doing this week:

Ghostly Tens {Composing Numbers to 10}
This station has ten frame puzzles for students to complete and show which number combinations can be created to make 10.

Trick-or-Treat Candy Count
Students count and match candy cards to the trick-or-treat bag with the corresponding number.

A Pumpkin Patch of Shapes {2D/3D Shape Sort}
Students sort picture cards by 2D/3D shape and complete the recording sheet to show their learning.

Spiderweb Roll and Dab

Creepy Counting On
Students practice counting on from a given number in a sequence. (This little friend had her cards switched up on the mat, but wrote them correctly on her paper!)

All of these math stations - plus two more not pictured here! - can be found in my TPT shop in my Trick-or-Treat! Math is Sweet! pack. Printables are included for every single activity! You can click on the picture below to go straight to the math stations in my store.

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We kicked off our bat unit on Thursday with this adorable graph courtesy of The First Grade Parade! We asked ourselves, "Do you think bats are creepy or cute?" Last year, our opinions were completely split down the middle:

This year, "cute" won by a huge margin! I was so surprised! I, for one, am of the thought that bats are creepy, even though I think they are amazing animals. After that, we began making a schema chart of all the things we think we know about bats. I'll share more about that as we continue to fill it out with facts during the week.

Once my students start their literacy centers on Tuesday, I'll share more ideas for Halloween-themed reading activities you can implement in your own classroom: Sight Word Pumpkin Patch, Spooky Sentence Building, and some of my favorite games from some of my fellow amazing bloggers!

I'm supposed to have jury duty this week; and ain't nobody got time for that! Pray that I don't have to go when I call in the night before! Happy Sunday, everyone!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Revisiting Kindergarten Journeys with TONS of freebies!

Excuse me while I dust the cobwebs off of my little corner of the internet... I haven't updated my poor, neglected blog in so long! I can't remember a year where I've been busier, so my blog kept moving further down the "to-do" list!

I've had a few readers e-mail me recently asking if I had any new resources to go with the Kindergarten HM Journeys curriculum, and the answer is YES! There are also a few freebies to download, so keep reading all the way till the end!

The first activity comes from Unit 1, Lesson 2 - and I've actually blogged about this before, when I first got the reading series a year ago. However, I never shared the freebie... better late than never! We read the story, How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? As we were reading, we of course were SHOCKED at how these dinosaurs were behaving at school... and promptly decided that we would never be like them! After reading the story, I displayed the four retelling pictures from the big flip book that comes with the series.


We talked about identifying main events in a story and talked about the four events in the pictures shown. Then the kids used the sentence strip to present the question we asked to help us retell - How do dinosaurs go to school? The students then had to identify and retell one of the main events from the story by drawing the setting and gluing the character into the picture to show one of the things it did at school.

The thing that I love about this activity is that it combines so many different skills: sentence structure, questioning, identifying main events, identifying main characters, setting, and using details.

Click on the picture below to download the FREEBIE of this activity!
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The next activity comes from one of the stories in Unit 1, Lesson 4: The Elves and the Shoemaker. In this short fable, the Elves secretly help the kind Shoemaker at night by making shoes for him. Since it's a pretty short story, I wanted to come up with a quick, low-prep activity that the students could complete fairly independently. We use interactive notebooks in my classroom, so a quick journal prompt was the perfect way to go. I came up with these sentence strips for the kids to glue in their notebooks so that they could respond to the comprehension question by illustrating. I absolutely LOVE the way their illustrations turned out! How cute are the two shoemakers peeking around the corner in the first picture?! We used our "special crayon box" (AKA: a big kid skinny 24-pack) so they really took their time adding in tons of details.

Now we've reached Freebie Number 2! Click on the picture below to download!
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The last story activity comes from a book in Unit 2: Amelia's Show and Tell Fiesta. My students had such a successful time with the previous journal prompt entry that I wanted to create one to use with this story as well. With this story, we focused on the main character and identifying character traits. However, I didn't feel like my group of kiddos had a very good grasp on what a character was, so the day before I read the book, I taught a little character mini-lesson using some of our very favorite book characters: David, Pigeon, Froggy, and Clifford!

I chose these four books because they are all characters that my students know and love and I knew it would be easy for them to identify things about each of them. I gave each student a whiteboard and we drew lines so that it would create four window notes on the board. I held up each book and asked them to identify each main character; then they drew a picture of each one in the four different windows.


After we identified all of the main characters, we went through each one one at a time and I asked the kids to describe things about each one. For example they said, "David is naughty" and "Clifford is big and red" and "Froggy likes to plop...plop...plop". Super easy, quick, and fun mini-lesson on characters!

The next day, we read Amelia's Show and Tell Fiesta. As we were reading, we discussed the main character (Amelia) and how she changed from the beginning of the story to the end. We used our interactive notebooks again to create two window notes for each question.


Freebie Number Three! Yes! Click below to download the Amelia's Show and Tell Fiesta prompts.
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If you enjoy using these story prompt strips, check out my bundle for Units 1-6 of Kindergarten Journeys! There are multiple story response strips for every read aloud story in the reading series! Just click on the picture below to check it out!

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Switching gears a bit here.. are you still with me? Good! When my kinder team and I looked over the new reading series last year, one of the things our eyes bugged out about was the sheer amount of sight words our students were required to learn. Of course, learning more sight words is never a bad thing, but later on in Journeys it introduces SIX sight words a week to our little guys! That's a lot to learn in a week and it's tough for all of them to stick without being able to dive in deep with word work activities for each one. I wanted to come up with an activity that would help them read, write, and build sentences using their sight words so that they could continue to see and review previously learned words and keep them fresh in their minds. Enter... my monthly sentence building packs! These packs include tons of themed sight word sentence building activities that fit exactly with the Journeys sight word list for each Unit! In each pack, you'll find build-a-sentence literacy stations, predictable sentence activities, differentiated printables, and read/write/build/draw printables for every sentence used in each set. Here are some of the activities in action... my students absolutely love them:

You can find every monthly pack in a discounted bundle in my TPT shop by clicking on the picture below:

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You can also find each individual pack sold in my TPT store if you're not sure you want to commit to a whole bundle before trying it!

However.... I have more good news... a fourth freebie! And it's a Halloween-themed set of my sentence building activities to give you a sneak peek! You can download Spooky Sentence Building {Freebie} for FREE by clicking on the picture below. It has an entire set of mixed-up sentences + a printable!

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If you find it works well for your students, you can grab the full October pack here, which is 68 pages chock full of sight word sentence fun:

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Phew! If you are still reading all of this, go get yourself a cookie. Or a dessert. Or whatever floats your boat. A sticker, perhaps? You win.