Sunday, September 30, 2012

File... save!

Oh my goodness, I had a fight with my homework newsletter tonight- and it totally won.  I purchased a super-cute clipart set from DJ Inkers called October Doodlers...and got a little carried away.  Word just unexpectedly closed (the way it does when inserting too much clipart) sigh!  Anyway I did NOT save over my existing template and had to start all.  over.  again.

If you are interested in purchasing some fall or Halloween clipart, head on over to DJ Inkers...  but I'm warning you!  You might be "browsing" for awhile!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Give me 5!

I made up this practice page this morning to go along with yesterday's post.  If you are out of copies, you can practice the same concept using stickers or stamps.

You can also show the children how to find sets of 5 by using a different color for each set.  This will help them see the sets more clearly.

If you use stickers or stamps, caution the children to put spaces in between them, so it is easier to count-  or you can just let them go for it, then lead them through the problem solving process when it's time to count sets of 5.  It's interesting to see each child do this activity, they each approach it differently.  You will see some children circle each individual circle or sticker instead of circling the total set.  If you see children doing this, show them how to draw a BIG circle around the 5 objects.  They might not understand the concept of a set.  Some children might count while they are putting objects on the paper.  You will see them either loose their spot, or not know what number comes next.  Talk to them about counting 5, circling 5 then starting again.  You can help them count the BIG number when they are done!

The bubble clipart is from Lettering Delights.  When you set up an account you get a few sets of clip-art and fonts for free.  It is called Banner Day Fun.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday's Must Have... music and books for the number 5!

Counting doesn't come easy for some children.  It takes a lot of repetition, practice and hands-on activities and games.  I like to use music and videos to help little learners remember the counting sequence and to connect abstract numbers and counting to something real.

YouTube is a great place to find lots and lots of counting songs and videos...

YouTube also has a TON of super quick Sesame Street video segments.  It doesn't take too much time to incorporate these videos into your math instruction.  Sesame Street has video podcasts available on iTunes.  I used these a lot last year.  They are a bit longer (about 6-7 minutes) and are organized by numbers all the way up to 20 AND its totally free!

These two books are class favorites.  The children easily memorize the songs, which makes them easy to "read".  Song books are always a big hit in any kindergarten classroom.  A song book basket is a great addition to your classroom library too!

I like to use these guided readers in lessons too.  The text is very simple and its an easy way for teachers to get out math manips to practice counting and showing the number.  The kids love following along with the book and "matching the number".  

Finally, five frames are a great visual for our little learners.  Donna at Math Coach's Corner has a little summary of how to address the Common Core Standards using five frames and dot cards.  Here are some five frame freebies from Multi-Grade Matters.  Thanks Deborah for sharing!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Next week's Homework!

I will be sharing my weekly homework newsletter and activities.  You are welcome to use them.  The letters and sight words come from the MacMillan-McGraw Hill Kindergarten Treasures series.  If you would like more resources that go along with Treasures, please be sure to check out my Curriculum Connection page.  You will find some wonderful activities to support your Treasures reading instruction.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Guided Reading Linky

Today I'm linking up with Jen R. at The Teacher's Cauldron to talk about the BEST thing ever....  guided reading!

Here is a newsletter from soooo long ago...  it's a nice summary of guided reading for primary grade teachers.

What I love about guided reading is the time teachers get to have with smaller groups of children. Teachers form very special "reading partnerships" with their students during this time.  Our job is to not just teach them the skills and strategies of reading and comprehension- but- increase confidence, motivation and building independent strategic readers with strategic teacher talk!

Here is an excellent guide for building your teacher talk during guided reading.  This document gives teachers sentence starters and phrases to reinforce good reading work and allow for the reader to explain their thinking.  

Page 1    Page 2

Here are a few examples of lesson plan templates I have used in the past.  I was a reading recovery teacher, so I take crazy, crazy notes to document progress and plan for future lessons.  
That is why you see all those empty boxes!

Guided Reading template by Alicia at Keeping it True in K-1-2
Alicia from Keeping it True in K-1-2  has made a wonderful guided reading template that is so much more structured than my examples.  She is such a smarty, she even included a place to indicate what Common Core Standards were addressed!  You can find it on her Teacher Pay Teacher site.  Make sure you stop by her blog too...  she has wonderful examples of teacher planning binders.  Thanks Alicia for sharing!

My guided reading must have...  awesome leveled readers!  The absolute BEST guided readers come from Rigby and PM Readers (published by Houghton Mifflin-Harcourt).  Why are they so great?  Well, the language that is used in the books is so similar to the language children naturally use.  The books are rich in sight words and the leveling is beyond brilliant.  You can see a child progress so beautifully from level 2 all the way up to level 12.  The authors are so thoughtful about the sight words and sentence complexity used at each level.  The authors also use common inflected endings once you reach a level 3/4 book.  The illustrations and photographs are engaging and become class favorites very quickly.  The little books also have series within each level (books about the same family, characters or towns).  Take a quick look at this on-line sample.  I know you will be impressed!  

Finally, here are some excellent resources to have at your fingertips when working through your guided reading groups...

It's really hard to share all the things I love about guided reading in one post.  Oh my, I could go on and on.  Guided reading builds better readers AND better reading teachers!  Each guided reading lesson gives you the opportunity to build your repertoire of skills as a reading teacher.  It is such a "give and get" process.  The children give you their best reading- and the teacher gives them back purposeful feedback.  The teacher gets the most valuable information about the child's reading abilities and progress- and the little learners get a very unique form of individualized teaching based on teacher talk and reinforcement.  All this from a 10-15 minute guided reading lesson!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More ABC books and pockets!

I dug out my Dinah Zike book, Foldables and VKV's for Phonics, Spelling and Vocabulary---AND--- oh my goodness, there are a TON of super cute and fancy foldables to incorporate into your teaching.

Here are two of my favorites...

Accordion fold pockets made of poster board-  embellished with cute 
duct tape (yes, I spelled it duck tape the first time, I'm sure I will hear it from my principal tomorrow)!

I can't wait to use this ABC book!  Once complete, I plan on sending it home with my little-learners so they can show off all they have learned! 

Our first activity to go along with this book is putting children's     
                                                           pictures in the pocket that goes along with the first letter of their name.

Do you start teaching the alphabet with the first letter of a child's name?  Have you ever wondered why we teach the letters in a certain order?  Here is a very informative and super short article about learning the alphabet.  Thanks Reading Rockets for your insights!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday's Must Have... an ABC File!

I like to create alphabet books with my little learners who are struggling with learning their letter names.   To save copies (not because I'm going green, I'm just totally out for the month) I decided to make some DIY alphabet files!

I used legal sized paper donated from last year.  We have a ton of this stuff lying around! 

I folded 8 sheets of paper in half.

Staple, staple, staple...

Add a cute cover.  It's not lined up perfectly, but the file folders are a bit difficult to work with.  They are leftovers from our beginning of the year FLKRS assessment.

Stamp, stamp, stamp!  I used my favorite sound stampers from Really Good Stuff.   NOT for sounds but for a place to write the upper case and lower case letters.  I got the idea for this from Pinterest.  I thought the stamps looked much neater than just drawing boxes.  You can find the original here.

The children will also be using Alphabet Picture Stickers from Lakeshore to add a picture for letter- sound correspondence.  I love these stickers!  A bit pricey, but a good investment for each school year.  I also want to add a pocket in the front for either a pointer or to store their letter stickers.  

If I have succes with this ABC File, I plan on making a Sound-Box File for phonemic awareness and phonics interventions.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sight word homework!

This week, we practiced reading and writing the sight words "I can".  I was digging through my PDF of  the teacher resource books and had some fun using screen shots.  I made some cut up sentences and a little book.

They both are perfect for homework.  We used the same pictures in small group when we were learning "I can".  I hope the kids and families have fun using these materials.

Please feel free to use them with your little learners too!

Thursday, September 13, 2012


Click to download!

... in your name- or- of your name? It's been driving me crazy ALL day! Don't worry, I changed it!

I know there are some special "Lilly" fans, so I typed it in two fonts!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Working with letters

I kind of stole this idea from Ms. Hunter (ok, so she does this with environmental print).  The students I work with are learning the letters in their names along with all the other letters of the alphabet.  I am using this chart to encourage children to connect the letters they are learning about in school are the same letters they use to write their names.  Take a look!

Once they have mastered the letters in their names, I might make some adjustments to the chart.  Maybe keep it as a visual of what letter each student is working on for the week OR a letter they have mastered.  Do you have an idea for this chart?  Let me know!

Here are some more ideas I've been collecting on Pinterest to help the children learn their letters.  I want the activities to be meaningful and enable the children to connect their learning in class with the work they do with me.  My hope is that they will start making connections soon that they carry back to class with them.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Here is a sight word reader I created this summer.  I  know the directions page is super long, but I wanted to be sure to include any information that would be helpful to a teacher who had no experience with guided reading in kindergarten.  The book will print nicely if you select "print booklet" once the PDF is downloaded.  Hope you enjoy it!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monday's Must Have... some inspiration

This will be my first FULL 5 day week since the first week of school.  Thanks to a hurricane day and a holiday we've had it easy with Mondays off.

Here is some inspiration to get you through the "extra" day this week!

... he is the man behind this poem too!

What a sweet teacher...  she talks about this man just like we talk about our little learners!  So precious!

This is a wonderful movie...  every teacher needs to watch it!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Sorting time!

I'm hyper-controlling about the websites and games my students play in school.  While there is time for free choice on the computer, I really want the children playing purposeful games that fit in with our curriculum.

Here are some great games that go along with classifying and sorting.
Zoe's Pet Shelter
Clifford Sort-it-out

Sorting Box

Oscar's Trash Collection
Trash-Stash more thing!  Here is a label I gave a few students after working on sorting.  I used it as more of a vocabulary practice, but it would be a great summarizing strategy!  Put the labels in their math journals to draw a picture of how they can sort.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Wise Owl Readers

I'm attaching a brochure I made to introduce kindergarten parents to reading in kindergarten.  We sent it home with our families at open house.

I love to share, but I'm still learning how to upload documents that can be changed and edited...   if you would like me to send you the word doc just let me know!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Just in time for open house!

Today I'm sharing a wonderful idea from Reading Rockets...  Literacy Pledge Cards!  What a fun way of presenting the challenge parents and teachers share in supporting the literacy development of our little learners.

Click here to view the literacy pledge card.  

Reading Rockets is an amazing resource for teachers and families.  I subscribe to their monthly newsletters by email.  The contributing authors offer wonderful ideas and resources!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday's Teacher Talk

Today is the very first Tuesday Teacher-Talk!  Once a month, I'll be sharing a special teacher-friend with the blog world!  September's featured-teacher will be Ms. Angel Smith.

What is your teaching background?
Well I stepped into a 5th grade science teaching position the day after I graduated.  From there I went down to Kindergarten and have been teaching K, K-1, or First grade for 10 years (wow I feel old now).  I have taught in diverse schools and school system; everything from migrant title one to affluent/low free and reduced lunch. 

Where do you get your best ideas for teaching and learning?
I get my best ideas by “borrowing” from people around me.  I am not afraid to ask my teammates where they got something cool and if I can use it.  I always try to share my ideas also; just by copying something for a fellow teacher you can open the door for great collaboration.  My biggest rule of thumb is to ask this very simple question “Would this be a fun way for me to learn?”  If I don’t enjoy it then how can I teach it effectively?   Choose wisely my friends. . . students can see right through you!

What are some of your favorite organization strategies?
OHHH Do I have to pick just one?  I have really started to incorporate pictures in all my centers/charts and schedules around the room.  I not only place a picture and title on the outsides of containers but I have begun to put a picture of me holding what belongs inside that container or drawer.  I just snap a quick black and white photo on the computer and print it out.  (You can also have the students hold the items)  I tape this inside of the bucket or drawer that way the students see the picture while everything is open as they are cleaning up. My next step will be to place of pictures on the shelf the container belongs in.  I strive for a class that can take things out and put things away by themselves.  My room might be a little messier than most but my students are actively learning and are responsible for their classroom.

What do you do in your time away from school?
I have two boys who keep me busy swimming in the pool and hunting for frogs or lizards.  I try to enjoy nature as much as possible and watch mind numbing A&E shows late at night!

What are the must-haves in your classroom?
*Legos-With the mini figures 
(You can do so much learning/teaching with Legos)
*Packing tape
**Free Journal (A plain composition notebook that has no rules. It is their space to draw, write, keep busy, let out frustrations, or just be silly)  (I never grade it and only point out the positive things)  

~Want to learn more about using Legos in a kindergarten classroom?~  
Take a look at the links below for some ideas!

A simple, but easily extended activity from Lego Education.  

Check out what April from Chalk Talk has to share!

Chalk Talk

Thank you Ms. Smith for taking the time to share!  

Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday's Must Have... Awesome Anchor Charts!

Anchor charts for reader's workshop in first grade

The picture above shows my first attempt at anchor charts...  I first learned of anchor charts after reading the Debbie Miller book, Reading with Meaning.  The purpose of anchor charts go well beyond creating a print rich environment,   "(making) our thinking permanent and visible..."(Miller 57).  Charts also "serve as a reminder for students...  to be referred to during later mini-lessons" (Avery 374).  Carol Avery goes on to say that "charts...  will be meaningful".  Teachers create charts with clear goals in mind.  As a visual, reminder and a reference for future learning activities.  

Avery, Carol.  1993.  ... And With a Light Touch.  NH:  Heinemann.

Miller, Debbie.  2002.  Reading with Meaning.  Maine:  Stenhouse.

Here are some ideas for anchor charts you can create to support the little learners in your classroom!    

Mrs. Armstrong's writing center
Mrs. Kiefer's writing center
From Ms. Hunter's classroom!

This blog is great for creating anchor charts...  go see it now!
For b/d reversals... I really like this!  Thanks for sharing Ms. Hunter!