Tuesday, May 31, 2011

SmartBoard Linky Party!!

Ok.  I am psyched!!  After sadly walking the 3-5 hallway all year, passing room after room of unused SmartBoards, the K-2 teams finally received ours today!  Ok, so we spent the day buddied up across the hall with a first grade classroom while they installed it.  Admittedly, we didn't get done nearly as many of our circus activities as planned.  Yes, we spent the entire afternoon Googling, YouTubing and playing around.  Regrettably, we even missed the afternoon announcements because we were so engrossed in exploring...we are JUST! SO! EXCITED!

{please don't look at the mess of our front wall.  the workers accidentally knocked a bunch of things down when installing and I was too excited to wait until I hung it all back up!}  ;)

Only...now what?

I can write, erase and search for topics in the SmartNotebook software and I can use the internet to pull up videos.  I even figured out how to hook up my SmartSlate and convince my kinders that it's my magic powers which allow the mouse to mysteriously do whatever I say.  But I KNOW there is so much more than that.  So I'm hosting my first ever Linky Party in the hope that we can learn and share from each other and put this technology to even better use.  I would like to know the following {and then some}:

*What is your favorite SmartBoard activity?
*Where is the best place to download new lessons?
*What is the coolest trick you've learned?
*How do you create new interactive centers?
*Anything else you want to share!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Ready2Read awesomeness.

I just discovered Annie at The Moffat Girls.  Besides being an amazing mother of two {precious} little girls, she has somehow found the time to create HER OWN reading program.  And y'all...it is ridiculous.


Her toddlers are working on these activities so they'll be easy enough for my kindergarteners next fall but they're also repetitive and skill based so the spelling and word recognition will stick.  Check her out, grab her first two units and leave her some love.

Annie, major props to you.  Color me impressed!

EOY student gifts.

There are lots of ideas out there for gifts to give to your students at the end of the school year and I've done many of them.  {photo with teacher.  favorite book.  hand-printed class t-shirts.  baggie with eraser, kiss, ruler, etc.}  But I never really loved any of them until last year and now I think I've found "my thing."

Writing Journals!
{click the pic to see up close}

I mean, we're constantly reminding, reminding, reminding our kids to read and write over the summer to not lose all that they've learned so I figure this kills two birds with one stone!  And it is 2 of our favorite things: cheap. & easy.  ;)

1. buy spiral notebooks at Target for 94 cents each.
2. cover them with each child's favorite color of construction paper {rubber cement seems to work better than glue sticks}.
3. use your favorite Crayola makers to write your kids' names in funky letters.

4. add random scrapbook stickers.  If you need some, I highly recommend Hobby Lobby for stickers OR get this paper pack at Target & just cut and glue.

5. write a little note {varied based on what I want the kids to work on} in the front cover.
6. add a few starters & some more stickers.

7. the end.  give to your students and watch them get excited about their new writing adventures!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

No more Guided Reading headaches!

Thanks to Funky First Grade Fun I have learned about Scholastic Book Wizard.  And it is BLOWING my mind.

*Have you ever selected a book because it has the right skill set you're teaching and wonder why your kids can't read it?
*Have you ever put out "leveled" books and wonder why your kids aren't even correctly reading the sight words?
*Have you ever pulled out a challenging book for your high flyers just to listen to them fly right through?

{If you haven't, just pretend for my sake because I am guilty of all 3!!}

Scholastic Book Wizard is here to save the day!

Start by choosing the Reading System you want to use: 
I chose DRA because those are the levels we use in vertical planning with 1st grade.  They know if we send our kinders to them at a 4 that they will be prepared when they move up in the fall.
If you type the title in Quick Search:

You will be given this information about the book:
No wonder my lower kids struggled.  I felt Biscuit was a lower read but it was way too much for my level 2 group!

OR...even better...type the title instead into BookAlike:

And you will get all of this information:
An easy way to plan guided reading lessons without standing in the book closet for hours!!
I know we're all at wrapping-it-up time, but hopefully this will make life easier for you in the fall.  I'm already breathing a sigh of relief for next year thanks to this handy little gadget!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Arrrrrgh matey.

One of this week's May Day themes was pirates!  I hope you arrrrrrrrgh ready for some fun!  ;)

Crayola.com is rocking my world on the Smart Board.  They have a selection of coloring pages that you can color online {ie, now in EXTRA LARGE size} but my favorite part about it is that you can click "New Page" and a big, beautiful, blank canvas pops up.  I bookmarked it blank and have used it pretty much every day since my discovery.  In this picture, I drew the outline of the ship and we made a cooperative drawing.  One child drew the flag, the next made some windows, the next added water, etc until we had one pirate picture with everyone's contributions.

For the second go-round I made a starting point {the star} and we came up with a very tricky treasure map that included all kinds of traps!  {For management purposes, students went up and did this one at a time while they were all working on different activities.  I'm not sure it would've gone over as well if they'd sat and waited for their turn, but since they were already otherwise occupied, it was perfect.}

Another thing I've discovered is Discovery Education.  I'm not a fan of showing movies for the sake of showing movies but there are great educational clips on there.  {Magic School bus, Reading Rainbow, children's books being read aloud, etc}  I found a Between the Lions episode all about pirates and the short i sound so we created ships to carry our short i words.  Instead of gluing the pictures down, I helped my kids glue the boat to pop out and they stuck their i things in like a pocket!

For some free exploration time {still no specials or breaks with lots of testing going on!} we stretched our creativity to make pirate ships from various materials like dominoes, wood blocks and pop cubes.  I love how different all of the ships are, especially with the blocks, and they all had very definitive sections like a plank, a slide or an on-deck pool.  :)

Of course, to really BE a pirate, you have to dress the part.  I cut these hats from black construction paper {just a pattern I made} and we glued shred glitter around the outside.  It's not regular glitter or flakes, but large chunks of different metallic papers.  I wouldn't put it past our amazing art teacher to actually make it herself.  The kids loved it because they thought it looked like jewels.  Then they each got to choose one large jewel to add to the middle.  Staple to a sentence strip {which I can not live without} and add a Dollar Tree eye patch and voila!  Captains of their ship.
Missing 4 of our pirate friends who took long Memorial Day vacations!

We painted empty kleenex boxes then used construction paper and glue to add decorations.  I thought that they would just do the outsides but upon closer inspection I saw that they added diamonds, pearls, golds and other gems inside, too!  {glued down for extra security}

Then we colored a treasure box coloring page and added a flap for writing.  On the outside it says "In my treasure box, I keep..." and they drew and wrote about their special treasures on the inside.  {Another example of changing worksheets to make them better!}  Most of them understood to write things that have real meaning to them like favorite stuffed animals, baby blankets or their superheroes.
I'm currently working on a full pirate unit to put on TpT in the near future but until then, here's a freebie that I hope you can use!  Graphics by Jessica Weible, my fave.  {link to the right}  Seriously, how adorable are these?!  You could use this as a poster in a writing center or cut them apart and have students randomly draw a card to write with.  You could staple a bunch of half sheets together or {for a little more zazziness} create a ship book where the hull lifts up and the pages are underneath.  Add one sentence to each page to demonstrate vocab understanding.

{click the pic to download}

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Whoa...50 best?!

So...apparently I've received my first blog award?!

Gladys at Teaching in High Heels was the first to let me know.  And I'm so oblivious that I thought she was just being cute and telling me that she loved the blog.  Then I saw it again from Kinderglynn {whoa...one of the best!} and figured I better check this out.  Totally legit.  And I am blown away.
As I read down the list of some of my all-time favorite blogging buddies I kept thinking, "Oh of course!" or "I love her!" because you ladies are like celebrities in my silly blog world!  Then I did see my name and, as anyone who truly knows me will not be surprised to hear, got teary eyed.  This is what it said:

Little Miss Glamour Goes to KindergartenIn her "About Me," Mrs. Young says she's "known for teaching kindergarten in my stilettos but also love glitter, stickers and making my students laugh." She's girly (in the most complimentary way), funny, and supremely animated. Her class hatches chicks, decorates clocks out of crayons, and dresses up as farmers. What could be more fun than that?

I've had a rough couple of days feeling lost in that end of year tired haze so this came at such at great time.  I am truly humbled {not to mention a little bit in shock!} at being honored after such a short time of blogging.  But I genuinely thank whoever was involved in pouring over the multitude of kindergarten blogs and finding something special about mine.  I look forward to creating for, sharing with and stealing more from all of you.  ;)

For the rest of you, please check out the other ladies I am honored to be grouped with: California Teaching Credential.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

tattle tales.

I was on K is for Kindergarten the other day reading about Lisa's tattle jar.  I was cracking up reading her last comment {won't spoil it...you'll have to check her out!} and decided today that I needed to start one because my kids are out. of. their. minds. with the tattling.  And it's sending me over the edge.  I didn't have a jar so I improvised and made a tattle basket, literally walking to the printer paper, ripping a stack into fourths and saying "Here.  THIS is where your tattles go."

I read them this afternoon and {lesson learned} will never read them in front of the kids again.  Because there were legit tattles such as "_______ was throwing woodchips on the playground." or "______ is being a bully to me."

Then there were random ones like this that made me laugh out loud:
______ said shake your butt. 

And the star of today's show:
I did tattle on ______.
Hilarious!  If you know tattling is wrong but you're going to do it anyway, I guess the only real option is to tattle on yourself!  Enjoy it friends.  It's almost time to release the ridiculousness to the ears of their parents...  ;)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

TpT Button & awesome Ms. M

So, have y'all met Melissa yet??  Because if you haven't...you should.  She ran a little contest the other day for 4 new buttons she created.  Because we battle for the most stylish K teacher {lol} Hadar beat me to the fashionista one.  I jokingly made a comment about that and the next thing I know...there's a button in my inbox:

How cute is that?  For real.  I was so honored that Melissa did that for me!  {for real again.}

She's a good little button maker but what she really loves to do is make custom made lesson plan templates which are also, of course, darn cute.  Check them out at A Teacher's Plan.  She has a few freebies as well as some samples of templates she already sells but she's willing to create a new one to meet your specific needs.  So good.

Her Ms. M. blog is full of kinder & 1st ideas with more good freebies, too.  Check out her Alphabet Strips while you're there...first thing I'm printing when I refill my cartridges.  {why is there never enough color ink?!}

Thanks again, Melissa.  You made my day!

P.S. Hadar, maybe we should just be blogging BFFs instead?!  ;)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

fairy tales & the kindergarten ball.

We always spend 2 days in May learning about fairy tales and reviewing manners.  Ok, so maybe I take it over the top pretending the kids are proper ladies and gentlemen and telling them to say things like "You look dashing, darling!" in a little British accent, but I've discovered they're much more likely to use their manners if they think it's covered by a joke.  ;)

I feel like a broken record saying "Because of 3-5 EOY testing, we didn't get as many activities done as planned..." but when you have 3 additional kinders because their teacher was pulled to proctor and 3 additional 3rd graders {with no materials} staying with you while they wait for their one-on-one modifications, you just practice that thing we teachers love most: f-l-e-x-i-b-i-l-i-t-y.

Instead of having the kids decorate a pre-cut crown, I let them watercolor all over a piece of white construction paper and took it to the die-cut machine when dry.  I got 2 large & 2 small pieces out of each picture which was waaaaaaay more than enough once the ends were stapled together.  The kids loved coming in and seeing their artwork made new!

After discussing magic and putting spells on people, we created our own magic wands!  I just googled for a star outline, let the kids color and cut them out and used my handy-dandy hot glue gun to add some tinsel and a popsicle stick.  Then they sequined to their little hearts' content.
My kids love our puppet theatre so we practiced with The 3 Little Pigs before I turned them loose to reenact other favorites or make up their own stories.  Yes, I know there is no lion in The 3 Little Pigs, but we couldn't find a wolf.  And who am I to remind the kids of that fact when it was their suggestion to use our old pal, Leo.  That's problem solving, I say!

Does anyone else think that their best ideas are the ones you come up with ON THE SPOT?!  That's where these houses came from.  I went next door to let my neighbor borrow The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs and saw these cute little houses on her table.  She was doing something different with them but I thought...Ta-da!  Little Pig Houses!!  They drew bricks, used yarn for straw and we went on a nature walk to collect actual sticks.  Next year I plan to use actual hay but for an impromptu lesson, it worked!

The writing is a P.O.V. activity that we did after reading the true story.  The kids said whether they believe the pigs or the wolf and explained why.
I believe the wolf because he was getting
sugar for his grandma's birthday cake.
I believe the pigs because the wolf was
just trying to not get in trouble.

We also completed activities from my Peter Pan & Beauty and the Beast units on TpT.  Both *free* because I'm new at creating units.  I just ask that if you use them you leave me feedback, share my blog with others and think about helping me out by rating my products on TpT.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

strawberry day.

It was strawberry day in K-Town this week and the most important part of the day was...
...brand new rain boots from Target.

It was sloshy, muddy and puddly at the farm after a crazy rain the night before but it stayed dry in the sky while we were picking berries so I have to say it was a success!

We read The little mouse, the red ripe strawberry & the big hungry bear by Audrey Wood then created our own red ripe strawberries.  Did you know that using strawberry Jello-O on your glue dots not only makes realistic looking seeds but that they'll SMELL like real strawberries too?!

Of course I had to put some writing behind it.  :)  The first page tells a way the mouse tried to be selfish with the strawberry.  The second page tells what the kids would do with their red, ripe strawberry.  {much sharing ensued, of course....ahh, kindergarten!}
And what's a strawberry day without Strawberry Shortcake?!

 It was a berry fun day!

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