Saturday, January 28, 2012

fun {and easy} way to use technology.

I found {cookie} this morning and have to admit I've spent the last half hour playing games!  This is a fantastic website that I'm going to start using on Monday!  They all have audio directions in case you want your kids to work independently and when one game ends, another one pops up to play it doesn't require your attention every 5 minutes.  ;)  Most of them also have timers at the bottom so you can encourage a little competition in a group center.

Here are a few that I found, er, played this morning and love for kindergarten.

Alphabet Writing: green arrows and red Xs force the children form letters correctly in order to move on.
The Blank: practice using sight words to complete sentences.  Good grammar practice!
What Letter Missing: practice ABC order.  The chipmunks cry at a wrong answer or clap for the right choice.
Simple Sentences: click the bubbles to write a complete sentence.  Punctuation included!
Sight Words: Sight word memory.  Choose preschool - 3rd grade ability level.

Color Addition: each color choice has a number, which represents the sum of the equation.
Color Subtraction: same game, reverse skill!
Learn Shape: students match shapes to their shadows.  Then a short video pops up telling the shape name,  how many sides it has and showing real life objects of the same shape.
Graph and Tally: a video walks students through counting and recording amounts of animals then shows them how to make a tally chart.  A skill practice game comes next.  The same process is also there for teaching and practicing venn diagrams, picture graphs, pictographs and bar graphs.

The Five Senses: a video explains all five senses then students categorize items by which sense they would use to explore it.
Grow Plant: after a video explanation of how to care for a plant, students match the vocabulary to correct picture for a review of each part's purpose.
Body Parts: students label major body parts then move into smaller parts of the face, arms and legs.  They match body parts to their function and end by finding the parts on an animal.

Yes, the voice is a touch robotic, but the graphics, movement and skill practice are amazing.  There are also worksheets to print for additional practice {or data keeping} that go along with the skill of each game.  Happy Playing!  :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012're it!

I was tagged by Chrissy over at Everyday with the Jays and think this is one of the most fun posts to go around.  There are rules of course {don't get crazy!} but after posting 12 things about yourself, the tagger then also gets to make up her own questions to the new tagees!  So fun!

So....{part 1} 12 things about me, that I haven't already shared:

*I am a little OCD.  Volumes need to be on evens.  I only write with really inky black pens.  When eating something smooth like peanut butter or Nutella, I scrape from the top and can't stop eating until I've left a smooth surface.  I had to write one more sentence to balance it out.  {pah!}
*I've started the process of growing my hair back out.  My stacked bob is so fun and so much easier, but way long hair is just part of who I am.
*I've seriously begun entertaining my next project.  {hint hint}
*I cried when I realized I was too old to be Miss America.  Unfortunately, this is not false.
*I have an office full of half-done projects.
*I love love love kids but can't make up my mind about when I want to have my own.  Yesterday?  In 3 years?  Tomorrow?  Is anyone ever really ready?!
*I love Zac Efron.  Yes...from High School Musical.
*I am a daddy's girl.  Straight up.
*I wish I was better at consistently reading my Bible.
*I have a really super great husband.
*Miss Mary in our cafeteria calls me Tyra Mail.  {Every day: "Hey Tyra Mail!"}
*I love love love love my school and the people I work with.

{part 2} to Chrissy's questions:

Most favorite day every and why: Thanksgiving.  It means family and togetherness.  Also playing games and watching home videos for us!

Do you go to church anywhere?  Yes!  I helped start Mosaic and have been attending and serving ever since.  Our pastor was born in Kuwait and raised Muslim.  This is not your average church.  :)

Dresses or pants: Dresses are cuter and comfier but I wear dress pants to work a lot because it's easier to get down on the floor.

What state do you want visit the most?  California!  Hollywood baby.  I've never been out west!

What country do you want to visit?  Greece.  Take me to those blue and white villas on the crystal sea.  With kalmata olives.  I would go tomorrow!

Coffee?  What do you like?  I can't wake up without it.  I drink it with just half and half in the mornings but do like a cappuccino at Starbucks for a treat.  {1/2 syrup, with Peter has changed my tastebuds and now a full flavor is too sweet!}

Least favorite house chore: Laundry.  So thankful you can't see my closet floor...

Favorite movie of all time: So hard!  The Holiday.  Willy Wonka.  Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.  Elf.  Depending on my moods, one of those will do it!

Do you sew?  No.  Or cook.  And I barely clean.  My poor husband.  I would've never made it in the 50s!!

What's your favorite hobby? Right now...blogging and pinterest!  And making things I take from them.

Do you like to travel by car, train, plane or ship?  Well, a ship would imply a cruise which would be awesome...but I have to say plane because that means I'm going somewhere pretty fun.

Goal for blogging?  To share my ideas, make me a better teacher and provide kids everywhere with a better education experience!

{part 3}'re it:

First Grade Blue Skies - Jennifer is always the first to comment and leave me feedback!
Teaching with Sight - Sharon is legally blind and the way she teaches is incredible.
Coloring Books & Funny Looks - Kristina is a new blogger with long posts {like yours truly!} that are chock full of ideas.
Kinderland - Katie is another new K blogger.  Show her some love!
Kindergarten Lesson Plans - Kayla's blog is full of all things kindergarten.  And if you don't see what you're looking for, she'll help you find it!
Be a Nut with Mrs. McNutt - If the title doesn't grab you, Steph's cute personality will.
Apples and Papers - Jessica is a new teacher and already tackling a blog...with cute stuff at that!
Wood's Kindergarten Class - Mrs. Wood may not have freebies ready to print out but her pictures and amazing photographic detail tells you everything you need to know to recreate her activities.
Oopsey Daisy - Alison's blog is all kinds of cuteness but she has a separate section for what she calls Mommy School, ie free themed packets.  She's great!
Dilly Dabbles - A K-2 blog with a giveaway coming soon!!!  :)
Mrs. Lee's Kindergarten - Julie has so so so many pictures for so so so many ideas.
Busy Teacher's Cafe - strategies, printables, themes, resources...FREE.

{part 4} ok ladies, your questions are as follows:

1. How do you relax after a stressful day/week?
2. What's your guilty pleasure TV show?
3. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
4. What is your favorite place to buy school supplies?
5. What is your favorite board/pin on Pinterest?  (or your favorite recent idea if you aren't on)
6. What is a super easy meal you like to make for dinner?
7. What frustrates you about blogging?
8. If you found the perfect unit on a blog, the topic/skill would be ______?
9. What is your favorite thing to teach?
10. What is one of the funniest kid moments you've had at school?
11. The most played song on your iPod is _______?
12. Who inspired you to become a teacher?

Looking forward to reading their answers!  And I hope the rest of you will head on over to find 12 new blogging friends!  :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

{100} schedule picture cards.

100!  100!  This is my 100th post!!!!  :)  Surely no one would've noticed if I hadn't brought it to your attention, but as 100 is a major number in kindergarten...I'm celebrating!!

I fully expected my 100th post to be about the 100th day of school, but I'm not quite ready for that yet.  So then I expected it to fall on my 1st blogiversary, but I've been posting more lately and didn't want to wait another full month to post just to have those coincide.  I wanted it to be something huge, even if I'm the only one who cares if it's extra significant, and I finally decided what to share...thanks to your emails!

In my last post I linked up to walk you through a standard day in my classroom.  I posted a picture of my schedule and many of you have emailed to ask me about it.  I've always hand-written my schedule on chart paper and hung it at the front of the room but this year I have EC kids for the first time and learned very early on that even my schedule needed differentiation!  For one of my kids, getting through the whole day was so overwhelming he had a hard time focusing on what we were doing at the time.  This calendar allowed for me to take down the subject once we completed it.  The pictures also helped him to know what was coming up next and how many more things we had to do before it was time to go home.  {Bonus: it also helped the rest of my students to know what was coming up and stopped the "When's lunch?  When's recess?  Is it time to go home?" questions all day long!}

Some of the graphics are full color and others are outlines to be colored in by you.  I had to change a couple of the pictures from my original set so the graphics would all be from the same place {Lettering Delights} and not from any random Google image sources.  {I know...shame on me!}
I hang them with magnets on the back so I can pull them off the board when I'm finished.  I keep them in a pocket chart that hangs on the other side of my board for easy switching.  Since we're required to post our daily objectives for each subject as well, I write them underneath each card.

If you have any questions or I seemed to miss something please let me know!  Until next time, voting is still open for the Fascination Awards!  I've decided that if I win the gift certificate I'll give part of it away to one of you.  If not for my readers, there's no point in my posting, right?!  ;)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A day in my {tall} shoes.

When I linked up with {Oh Boy 4th Grade} I admitted my bias of only reading other bloggers whose kids are the same age as mine.  Then a 4th grade teacher in my school told me she had started a blog and I realized that I didn't have any great blogging buddies to pass along to her.  Then I found {The Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher} and her linky party.  What better place to find other great blogs than a linky party geared toward the upper grades?!  Hopefully this will help Wendy {You Won't Believe What Happened at School Today} find some new blog buddies of her own.  Go on over and introduce yourself!  :)

And while I'm at it, I may as well link up.  I hope she doesn't mind that I altered her image a little bit...I just don't wear sneakers in my classroom!  Ok, I don't exactly wear Louboutins either, but a girl has to have a dream!
6am: Wake up.  Well, my day is supposed to start at 6 when my alarm goes off, but this week it's been closer to 4:30 as Huxtable has decided it's the new time to wake up.  We'll call 4:30-6 the trying to soothe the dog back to sleep start of the day.  And before you call PETA on me, I'm not keeping him from going to the bathroom.  He doesn't even need to go when I take him out, he just wants to play....not happening.

6-7am: Getting ready {in the hall bathroom so we don't wake up my husband} while drinking coffee, keeping the puppy from chewing the cabinet and listening to the Ace & TJ Show.  So funny.  I couldn't wake up without them.

7am: Getting out the door to beat traffic.  We now live half an hour away from my school, which includes a drive through downtown.  I could look for something closer, but I really just love where I work!

7:30-8am: Classroom time, which mostly includes printing out new recording sheets I downloaded from blogs or pinterest the night before.  :)  And switching out my schedule picture cards and objectives.
8:15-8:45am: Kids come in.  This is a quiet time in my classroom as I see it as a chance to set the tone of the day.  I have classical music playing on Pandora, they unpack quietly and sit down to some form of morning work {either a skill review activity or morning work journals to write & draw about whatever they want}.

8:45-9am: Morning Meeting!  This is their chance to share fun news or tell those "Guess what?" stories.  We always incorporate some type of song.  Dr. Jean has great Good Morning songs for the kids to walk around and greet each other.  I also really enjoy Wally Acha and Boom Chica Boom as "Getting our voices ready" songs to prepare them for participation.

9-9:45am: Workshop.  {Guided Reading, Daily 5, whatever you want to call it.}  I have 4 groups and do two rotations of 20ish minutes each.  This is the only 45 minutes of the day that I have an assistant so while I'm working with one group, she's working with another group.  Because I'm teaching inclusion this year, our EC teacher is also present for Workshop and she works with a third group.  The fourth group is split into literacy centers...listening, writing, sight words, reading, alphabet...they change depending on the skills we're practicing and not all kids participate in every center.  Half way through, we switch so each teacher sees a different group and another set of kids is in centers.  I only see the kids  every other day, but if they're not with me, they're working with one of the other teachers.  {Confused yet?!}  This week I taught this nonsense word game from Extra Special Teaching.
9:45am: ABC Dance Break & snack.  While I clean up centers the kids dance to one or two songs that practice letter sounds, rhyming words, sight word spelling or some other literacy skill.  Any song I use during this time has a specific dance or routine that I teach at the beginning of the year so it's very controlled.  If they lose control, they sit out...and they don't like to sit out!  After we finish a quick snack, its on to...

9:45-10:30am: Literacy.  We use the Open Court curriculum so I go through that day's lesson.  With whatever time I have remaining I'll read another book related to the unit, teach a new literacy center to use in workshop or get a head start on writing.

10:30-11am: Writing.  This week we used the five senses to write about snow.  Since we don't have any down here in the south, we make our own!  :)
11-11:45am: Math.  I teach the lesson in our Investigations curriculum and pull in other games that either relate to the skill or allow my students to practice areas they haven't yet mastered.  This week we used this addition game from First Grade Fanatics.  Instead of coloring in the squares, I laminated a few copies and the students used valentine M&Ms to cover their squares.
I'm also loving both of these songs from Harry Kindergarten.  My kids love them, too!  They're perfect for transitioning into or out of math.

11:45-12pm: Calendar.  Days of the week, months of the year, your standard questions.  We've also been looking at the weather channel online to predict and check the temperature to see if we need just coats or hats, mittens and scarves when we go outside.

12:00-12:30pm: Recess.  Whew!  Finally, a break.  And my daily dose of Vitamin D.

12:30-1:00pm: Lunch.  Sometimes spent in the classroom getting ready for the afternoon, sometimes with my team in the teacher's lounge.  Really just depends on the day.

1:00-1:30pm: Reading Renaissance.  This is our chance to read the books they checked out from the library or other books that aren't necessarily related to a concept.  I like to use voices and read books here that make the kids laugh.

1:30-2:15pm: Specials.  {sigh!}  Music, Media, PE, Computer Lab or Art.  On Tuesdays & Thursdays I have team planning.  Monday, Wednesday & Friday I'm checking my email, changing out student work, trying to pick up the classroom, call parents...whatever has popped up that day!

2:15-3:00pm: Science or Social Studies.  We're getting ready to make these cute little people from Pencils, Glue & Tying Shoes as begin a unit on the 5 senses next week.
3:00-3:45pm: Explore & Discover.  Sometimes I use this time to continue our science or social studies lesson, especially if we're doing an experiment or big project.  More regularly, since this is also the time struggling readers get pulled out for Intensive Reading Model {leaving me with only 8 students} it's time for Legos, K'nex, Blocks, Housekeeping, Puppets and/or SmartBoard to be opened for free choice.  The kids naturally take our concepts from that day into their centers.  If we read a book they like, they'll act it out in the puppet theatre or housekeeping.  They've made menorahs from K'nex, built 3D Lego models of the classroom and used blocks to make dens for polar bears.  They really like Highlights' hidden pictures or using the Digi-Color at Crayola on the SmartBoard.
3:45pm: Dismissal.  Then setting up for the next day before leaving around 4:30.

5:00pm: Home.  Time to play hide-and-seek with Huxtable, my de-stressor.  :)  I'm either pinning or blogstalking while I wait for my husband to get home.  We eat dinner together, usually while watching something from the DVR {introducing him to LOST right now}.

Whew!  That was a loooooooong post.  No wonder I fall asleep this side of 10pm every night!

I have a workday tomorrow for more Common Core training.  Hopefully I'll be able to chip away at my to-do list when the training's over.  Have a great week ladies!!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Leo Lionni prediction craft.

Every now and then I have to step back and remember that we don't all teach at the same place.  I mean, obviously, but I only think to share my really special or brand new ideas.  If it doesn't involve cute graphics, a new font or a colored ink cartridge, it doesn't enter the blogisphere of my mind.  But, hello...I still made it up at some point and it may be a great new idea to you!

We read Tillie & the Wall by Leo Lionni as part of our {Stick to It} unit on perseverance every year.  Will Tillie ever see what's on the other side?  What she will find there?  Why won't she give up since the other mice don't even seem to notice that wall is there?  My kids love the colorful illustration of her imagination.

As we read the story I stop before the ending to have the kids predict what she will find.  The prep for making the writing prompt couldn't be easier.  Cut a yellow piece of 8 1/2 x 11 {regular size} printer paper in half and give to each kid for the wall.  You could also use construction paper but you have to do more cutting.  I like this size for the wall because it allows plenty of writing space at the top.  Glue only half of the wall to another plain piece of printer paper.

The kids write "I predict Tillie will see _______." and draw a picture of Tillie standing next to the wall.  When you lift the flap of the wall, the child's drawing appears on the other side!  :)  In this one, Tillie sees the grocery store.  Sometimes she finds cheese, flowers, a water fountain or a McDonald's!

There's no printable or file to download, it's just a simple writing project that we use to practice predicting.  The kids love it, it's fun to hear their creative ideas and they look really good hanging up!  Then again, I love anything that doesn't just lay flat on the wall.  And a DIY lift-the-flap book certainly isn't a standard picture.

Another teacher on my team used to have her kids act out the story.  They would make mice ears to wear {sentence strip!} and crawl through one of those indoor play tunnels to represent digging underneath to the other side.  Then when the mice crawled back to Tillie's original side and had a party, they pulled out paper banners and threw confetti!  I'm sure this was one of the custodian's favorite days...especially since they'd come around to the other kindergarten classes to perform their play!

Tillie and the Wall isn't online, but there is another story about a little mouse and big wall by Leo Lionni that is.  Show this cute little video of his story "Fredrick" then compare the stories of these 2 cute little mice!

Off to celebrate my husband's birthday!  :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

who knew mammals would make you giggle?

Really quick story since I actually came upstairs to go to bed but snuck into the office!  ;)

We were wrapping up our {extremely long} unit on animals today so I was having the kids tell me all they knew about the various types, writing one most important fact in their science journals and drawing a picture example.  fish?  good.  birds?  good.  mammals?  good.  Until we really got into the nitty gritty.  They knew so many details from their time in our science lab that surely they'd know the most obvious characteristic of mammals...

{I can hear you groaning...oh yes.}

So I very delicately said "And mammals are the only animals that drink milk from their mothers."  A few kids gave their neighbor funny looks so I skipped right past it and started listing examples of mammals.  Then that one kid raised her hand.  You know, the one who may as well just keep it by her side because she talks regardless of arm placement?


Aaaaaaaaand the whole class was silent.  What do you say to that?  What would YOU say to that?!  I saw her red face and realized that she'd realized what she'd said.  And on to amphibians!  Bless her heart.  Way to make a connection!!  :)

{side note}

I got another email today from the blog nomination guy and while he laughed at my {nomination post}, he totally understood my skepticism AND made it clear that this is for real.  So thanks for reading and sharing your ideas with me!!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Ok.  So...I got this email today telling me that my blog has been nominated to be {2011's Most Fascinating Teaching Blog.}

Is it horrible that I'm skeptical of these things?  While part of me is like...whoa...what?!  Another part of me {maybe the part that is my mother} is saying...they send those things to everyone...they're just out to get's some type of scam.

I mean, honestly, I know that sounds I checked it out.  And it actually looks legit!  All the legal mubo jumbo is there in the {rules} and I would be OH SO flattered for this to be real.  There are zillions of teaching blogs out there and so many of you are better at posting consistently, creating new material and giving things away to your readers.  There are a good few of you that I'd give an award to, but way before myself!

For now, having looked at the criteria, I'm going to be proud of myself:

In order to be fascinating, content can’t just be useful, valuable, entertaining, educational, or interesting. These are all great traits to have but fascinating content is a mixture of these things and much more.
Fascinating content is best quantified by the physical and emotional reaction that it instills in its audience rather than particular traits of the content. Put simply, fascinating content:
  • *Inspires its audience.
  • *Creates conversation around the topic.
  • *Creates a strong emotional reaction (positive or negative)
  • *Gets shared both online and off.
Someone out there thinks my blog is inspiring, encouraging and contains genuinely fascinating content.  I mean, really, who am I to argue with that?!  ;)  Even if I can inspire one person a day or help share ideas as I get them, that's really what this blog is all about!  I've said that since my post on day one!

It's readers choice so I suppose that'll determine it in the end.  If ya'll would like to reward me with a $200 restaurant gift certificate...I won't turn it down!!

And I guess, come back on Saturday to vote for me!  No contest, no giveaway to enter if you do.  If you think my blog meets those criteria, I'd love to have your vote.  But if you think someone else who's been nominated is more deserving, that's ok, too.  That's what readers choice is all about, right?!  
choice.  ;)

Monday, January 16, 2012


Ok, I have to admit that I have a bias.  A pretty bad one, too.  I only follow K-2 bloggers.  Really, even more honestly...kindergarten, first or pre-K.  I know, I know!!  There are so many of you out there who are fabulous teachers...some of your stuff just doesn't apply to my five year olds!!!

Well, then I kept seeing Farley's {currently} posts popping up all over the place.  And I had to go check out what it was all about.  She is adorable with funny posts and I had to break my rule.  Not only would it be sa-weet to win that silent pencil sharpener, but even more...her linky just looked fun.  :)
And as for what I'll be listening to/watching's a hint for anyone who was as obsessed as I.

"We have to go back!!!!"

Luckily, I am, because my husband was out of the country at the time and missed out the first time around.  Loving it ALL over again!!!  :)

Martin Luther King Jr.

Yay!  It's Monday and I'm not at school...I'm blogging!!!!  :)

Last year my class created an awesome collage to celebrate diversity and show how we can all be friends with people who are different.  I just had to laminate it and save it to hang up again.  Instead of sharing the same "I have a dream writing" again I thought I'd post something I can actually share!

We made these cute peace doves as a symbol of bringing peace into our classroom family.  They're so so easy.  Cut a paper plate in half and use one half for the body.  Fold the other half in half {ha!} and glue it down for the wings.  Trace something round for a construction paper head.  Add a beak and eyes and you're done!

Then my kids wrote a sentence {of course} to tell how they would bring peace into our classroom.  I tried to encourage them to explain their thinking from "I will be friends" to "I will be friends with everyone" or "I will be friends with people who are new"...that kind of thing.

If you'd like to see the writing that I can't share {dang copyrights!} it's here.  It's from an old Mailbox magazine so if anyone finds it already online, let me know!!  :)

Enjoy your day!!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

peguins & polar bears.

Reading The Mitten last week and incorporating {ideas} on staying warm paired perfectly with our science unit, learning about penguins and polar bears!  To help the kids understand how blubber works to keep both animals warm, we do this experiment.  I've seen fancier blubber gloves out there but 2 ziplock bags filled with Crisco works just as well!  The boys always think they'll be tough...but that ice is cold and they pull their hands out fast!

After the way this penguin project started {funny story here} I wasn't sure we were ever going to get it finished!  But finally...we did.  :)  We took those white circle maps and turned them into these cute little penguins to display our research!
Some students pulled a word from their circle map to write a penguin fact sentence.  It may be a little hard to see on the cream wall but it's glued to the feet.

The cute little snowmen in the middle of the penguins is an old, old estimation activity that I've had in my file for years.  There's a picture of a snowman on the paper and the kids have to estimate how many snowballs {cotton balls} it will take to fill it up.  After they estimate, they count and glue them down.

Here's a free {updated!} copy for ya:

We also used a {can/have/are} organizer to write down bear facts as we read various non-fiction texts.

Then the kids chose words from their lists to write their own bear facts.  Strong writers were challenged to write additional facts not found with the starter, such as "Black bears are smaller than polar bears" or "If a polar bear stood up in your house, he would hit his head on the ceiling."

I made the bear heads by tracing the bottom of my globe :) and the kids added their own faces and cut ears from the scrap bucket.  Glue the words underneath and voila!  Lift the flap bear books!

And just think...this isn't even the end of our weekend!!  Come back tomorrow {in your pajamas!} for some Martin Luther King Jr. ideas.  :)
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