Monday, October 29, 2012

at-home packets.

I spent my weekend writing sight word flash cards, highlighting activities that each kid needs to practice at home and making number cards.  Luckily, this was all work I could do while catching up on Bridezillas and watching reruns of The Cosby Show {for the ten zillionth time}.  Because today was...ta-da!...Parent-Teacher Conferences.

This is the packet I sent home at my conferences...a little varied based on each child's need.

{Reading A-Z books, sight word flash cards for 1st & 2nd quarter and number cards along with my Common Core checklist for parents - now available in Spanish too!}

I previously sent this packet within the first couple weeks of school for my few that were really struggling and not making appropriate growth.

 {tracing capital & lowercase letters and Handwriting Without Tears letter formation cues}

{I can Read It bag - letters or sight words mastered go inside to build confidence - and name from MyMoondrops}

 {cutting practice & Handwriting Without Tears number formation cues}

I also include a pencil, scissors, dry erase marker and crayons along with ABC flashcards {capital on the front & lowercase on the back}.  What do you send with your kids to have them practice at home??

Saturday, October 27, 2012

favorite October activities.

I've been Boo'd by Special Teacher for Special Kids!  Thank you!  I love a good shout-out.  What what!!  {haha...I'm such a nerd}

Here are my favorite October activities!

{pumpkin & jack-o-lantern exploration}
Weighing the pumpkin, estimating it's grooves, pulling out the seeds, voting on how to carve it, etc.  I love all things pumpkin & jack-o-lantern at school!

{farm unit}
My farm unit takes us from September into October so that still qualifies, right?!  ;)  I have lots and lots and lots of fun farm favorites but my newest love is these adorable handprint farm animals!  I saw them on Pinterest and adapted it for school by having my students add more to the picture and writing a sentence!

{costume writing}
My kids are going crazy for this labeling activity.  They can't wait to see which costume comes next...and since there are 16 costumes to choose from, I can pass out different sheets and eliminate the temptation to copy from a neighbor!!  ;)

{Shake Dem Bones}
You must read this book in a jazzy little book.  It is just too cute!  At the end of the year when we go back and read our favorite books this one always come up.  :)

{candy corn retell}
Another book I love is The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.  I use it each October to teach retell to my kindies.  Candy corn is the perfect template for teaching beginning, middle and end thanks to it's 3 parts and the way the story is written lends itself to retell so nicely.  We read most of the story up until "and what do you think she saw?" then stop to make our project.  They retell the beginning & middle of the story, then write their prediction in the bottom third.  After they share their predictions we read the rest of the story and find out what happens!
{I've updated it to get the colors in the right order but forgot to take a new picture!}
Here are the 5 bloggers I am scaring next.  Be sure to check out their tricks & treats!

Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas {for her handprint farm idea!}
Oh Boy 4th Grade {because Farley loves a Linky party}
Confessions of a Homeschooler {for her fab freebies}
Sailing Through 1st Grade {because I repin her pins all the time}
Snippets by Sarah {for her guided reading goodness}

{click the pic for the entire Linky Party of people who have already shared their ideas over at Tori's Teacher Tips!}

Friday, October 26, 2012

Common Core in parent-friendly language.

Our district has switched to online, narrative report cards this year.  I could write an entire post about that but will move right along to this little gem that it inspired.  ;)  I didn't plan on sharing this but thanks to a few of my Facebook friends {who like getting free stuff as a trade-off for their feedback} they've convinced me you'd want it as well!

The bonus of complicated & confusing report cards is that it forced me to create a fab handout for my parents to take away from our conference.  I basically translated the Common Core standards into activities and wording that any parent would be able to understand.  Now when parents say to you, what's phonological awareness?!  You can say, don't worry, that's just teacherese for letter sounds! and hand them this sheet with activities they can do at home.
{click the link - $2 at TpT}
I printed one for each of my kids & highlighted the areas they are struggling with.  I'm also sending home sight word flashcards, number cards, tracing paper and anything else that might help.  But you could send this on it's own as well!  {just depends on your kids & your available resources}

If you end up using it I'd love to hear the feedback you get from your parents.  Is it helpful?  Does it help them to better understand our teacher-talk of phoneme segmentation, high frequency words, tangrams and collaboration??

I think a lot of parents want to help their children at home, they just don't know how.  So why not teach them too!  ;)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Who is hiding this Halloween?

Another Halloween freebie.  Because it's just fun.  :)  {click on either picture for the free download}
Whatever you call adjectives in your classroom {descriptive words, sparkle words, detail words, adjectives...} your kids will love this activity.  Have your kids draw a picture of themselves in the middle of the bubbles.  {or for a super fun extension use a photo of them in a scary position!}  Then have them write six descriptive words {sparkle words, details, yadda yadda} to fill in the bubble map around them.
Once the writing is complete, give each student one ghost to cut out and glue over their picture.  Be sure they only glue the top part so it pops off the page like a lift the flap want people coming to read your writing to be able to check their predictions!  ;)

You could also challenge your smarties by having them describe a classmate, book character or a classic Halloween spook instead!  Words from the graphic organizer can always be used to then write a sentence {or more} as well.

Super cute, right?!  This idea was totally inspired by Ms. Smith and the craftivity she created for her 3rd graders.  Since my kinds aren't quite ready to write yet, I needed something with a little more structure to support their current level of independence.  But if you want a bigger {cuter!} craft to hang, be sure to go get her unit, complete with templates for the project.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

scarecrow glyph.

What are your thoughts on glyphs?  I go back & forth. Sometimes I think they're adorable and allow for fine motor practice {that less & less kids seem to be getting at home} but without much academic weight.  Other times I think they fit right in the curriculum.

I'm still deciding.  So I experimented again.
{click on the picture to download}
Deanna Jump has the cutest scarecrow I've ever seen in her Scarecrow unit.  But instead of using the booklet on the front, I used her template to try my hand at another glyph.  We read lots of non-fiction books from the library and gathered as much "research" as we could about farms, asking ourselves questions as we went.  After our brains were full of farm goodness, we created these glyphs to show our data.
After they were finally finished {I recommend 2 social studies blocks for this one} we brought them to the carpet during math to classify, sort & count our data.  {Common Core K.MD.3}
Since we pulled them back out in math to really look at their choices and talk about the differences, I think they understood that the scarecrows aren't just cute {although they're adorable!} but that they also tell us information.

You could also use this in literacy as a follow-up activity to a book.  In that case I would probably use Common Core K.SL.3 {ask and answer questions in order to seek information}.

You're welcome.  ;) glyph or not to glyph in kindergarten?  Are they successful and rigorous and differentiated {and all those other buzz words} enough to be quality instruction??  Thoughts on all sides welcome!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Halloween labeling fun.

Labeling is a fundamental building block for kids who are learning to write.  It is also one of those things that either you get right away, or you don't.  Am I right?

We started by drawing & labeling our families after learning the "How to draw a person" song.  Then we drew pictures of farms and labeled the animals.  I noticed that giving the kids a little push in the right direction made a difference.  I mean, the ones that can already write fill their papers with so many labels you can hardly see the background.  The confident ones label hed 15 times so their words orbit their picture like a halo.  But the ones who need a push seem to do much better with just a little being given the initial sound.

I created this labeling packet for all of your writers.  The first 8 posters have blank lines with a word bank at the bottom.  They can identify the correct word and write it {once!} on the line.  For even more of a challenge, chop off the bottom and let them sound it all out on their own.  For additional support, go through it together {on the SmartBoard or in a small group} and allow them to help you find the matching word.  "Hmmm...I wonder which of these could say cape?  What does cape start with...?"

The next 8 posters don't have a word bank but the initial sound is already written.  Yes, there are a few that might trip them up {shirt, shoes} but that's where the different levels of thinking come in!  An answer key is included for that set.  Whichever you choose {hopefully a combination of the two} there's a space in the title to write the type of costume {or character} to finish it up.

The best part about this is that while it's perfect for Halloween time, it doesn't say the words Halloween, costume or trick-or-treating anywhere on the paper.  So your non-celebrators can still complete the activity.  Or if your kids aren't quite ready for labeling yet, use it when they are and just pretend the characters were over in dramatic play putting on a show.  ;)

I'm even going to laminate a few and put them in my writing center to use year after year for my friends who could use even more practice!

You can get all 16 printables at my TeachersPayTeachers store but those of you who follow me on Facebook already got a bonus freebie last night!  :)  Don't miss out...I love surprising my Facebook fans!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

ABC recognition.

I saw this adorable idea on Pinterest for letter recognition.
{photo from}
But when I went to find the printable, it wasn't exactly what I was looking for.  She has letter path printables but I wanted multiple letters to show up on the same page so I created one!
{click to download}
I put letter cards {any kind will work} in my pumpkin bucket.  Students pulled one out then "dobbed" wherever they saw it on the paper.  When they switched to a new letter, they also switched to a new color for easier assessment on my part.  ;)

You can differentiate the activity by only putting a few letters in the bucket depending on what each student needs to work on.

If you don't have BINGO dobbers you can use highlighters, markers, whatever!

If you don't use this activity during the Halloween season, use a regular bowl or bucket.  Or use a black pot with the letters on gold for St. Patrick's day.  Or pull them from a stocking at Christmas.  Ooh!  Or a sand pail when it's almost summer!  A heart shaped box at Valentine's day!!  A bunny bag at Easter...

I like where this is going.  ;)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

how to organize guided reading?!

My guided reading {readers workshop} rotation is down pat.  It is the most reliable thing in my classroom.

I write the kids' names on the board so their name is in the same place every day, which eliminates a lot of "Where am I going?" when it's their center time.  The shapes next to their names are my 4 groups.  {I call them by shape but use the colors to match baskets or folders that differentiate the work at each center.}  The picture cards are the open centers which I rotate each afternoon.  {Some years I have used more than 5 centers so students don't necessarily get to them all in a given week but it also means I don't have to switch out activities as often!}  Easy.  Cheesy.

However {dun dun dun}, it is now the 6th week of school and my guided reading routine has changed 4 times.  No joke.  It is no wonder we're still trying to learn procedures...they change as soon as we get them down pat.  {these are out of my control changes, FYI, not just changes in groups due to data.  enter big smile here.}

I think hope have decided that we finally have the schedule set.  Unfortunately, it leaves me with the in the world am I ever going to remember who goes where on a which day?!  Thank you, Google.  Here are some ideas I've come across in case you're also looking for a way to display your reading groups.  Even if they don't work perfectly for my wacko rotation, they're still great ideas and they may work for you!

{Lesson Plan SOS} uses student pictures on a "Now Starring" board to remember who's in each group.

{What the Teacher Wants} uses a weekly calendar to help her remember when to meet with each group.
{Mrs. VanDyke} gives each group a number and rotates them each day for the students to remember where they go when.

{Leaping Into Third} uses the SmartBoard.  Easy to change and a big display for everyone to see!

{Down Under Teacher} uses a separate poster for each group to remember where to go.

So many options!  I'd like to keep something similar where the students names don't move {unless their ability group changes} but that also includes centers, my group, the TA group and the ESL on group, on days that she is with us.  Also, my OCD won't allow for a big grid hanging at the front of the room. In the meantime, I'm using this chart in my binder and just calling them out.  {not so efficient}

Any other ideas??  How do you organize and display your groups?!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

free pumpkin math.

It is no secret that I love fall.  And incorporating themes into content.  I saw this cute idea on Kinder by Kim and thought it would be great for math next week!
Counting?  check.  Cute?  check.  Fall fun?  che-eck!

Alas, she didn't have a printable.  So I made one.  Thank you Lettering Delights for your pumpkin graphic!  Click on either picture to download it for free.  There are 10 addition pumpkins with a simple number sentence as well as 10 numeral recognition pumpkins for students still working to identify and match the numbers 1 through 10.

That is Common Core K.CC.3 {counting & cardinality} or K.OA.1 {operations & algebra} by the way.  ;)

Please follow my blog or leave me a comment if you download.  It just makes me happy.  ;)

Sunday, October 07, 2012

do what you {already} do & help beat cancer.

As everyone knows, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  But did you know that you can use your superpower {teaching, obviously} to help support research at the same time?

Carson-Dellosa is joining the fight by donating $1 from every purchase made online during the month of October to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
And while you probably also recognize the Carson-Dellosa name, did you know that you can get products from other fabulous brands on their site as well?  Crayola, D.J. Inkers and Four Blocks are all represented on their website...just to name a few.

A few other great things about the Carson-Dellosa site {while you're there} is that they've listened to us and made some changes on their site.  Check-out is faster, there's a flat $5.95 shipping rate and the new keyword search makes it easier to find what you're looking for.  {no more sorting through middle school materials when you're looking for kindergarten materials!}  Added bonus, you can add items to a wishlist then share it with your families by emailing out a link or sharing it via Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or Twitter!  So easy.

So what are you waiting for?  You know you want to shop, just tell your husbands or boyfriends you had no choice.  It's all in the name of using your superpower to fight cancer.

And if you'd like to encourage your readers to do something this month to make a difference, feel free to snag this button I made and post it on your blog for the month of October.
Post this <a href=";current=tinycancer.png" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt="Photobucket"></a> as an html code on your sidebar or wherever you'd like it to show up.  We've all been effected and we can all fight side by side.
Blogging tips