Sunday, December 07, 2014

Christmas Giveaway

Ha!  I was so on my game this time...I hopped over to Farley's and started working on my Currently on December 1st!  And here it is a week later and I'm just now posting it.  :)  I mean, listen, babies are only babies for so long, am I right?

I would love nothing more than to give my Polar Express unit & Elf on the Shelf units away to some of you.  At least one person will win each unit.  If I'm watching a Christmas movie next weekend when I choose the winner while I'm full of Christmas spirit, maybe I'll give away more than one.  :)

The giveaway has now ended.  Units are available for purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Click the pictures below to pin the units or click on the unit names to see my original posts with student work and other sample pages.

{Christmas Train to the North Pole}

{Being Santa's Helper}

Happy Holidays, friends!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Urban vs. Rural in the fall

Whew!  The 1st quarter was busy.  We just wrapped up a ginormous unit on urban and rural communities in the fall.  It was a lot of work getting everything coordinated but I am so so happy to be back to teaching in integrated units.  It just makes more sense to the kids when there's an overriding theme that everything is connected to - as opposed to remembering one thing for writing, then abruptly moving to math, then moving to another disconnected topic for science, etc.

As we learned about urban and rural communities, we studied plants and animals in science.  We focused mainly on life cycles and plant & animal needs.

How cute are these farm animal projects that the kindergarten teachers did?!

In social studies we talked about why we need farms and how things from the farms are harvested to be made ready to go to the grocery store and eventually our houses.  We also touched a little on wants and needs and how they're different in each community.
Venn Diagram from Mrs. Russell's room
Flip book: what we get from animals (ex: milk from a cow)
We wrote about exploring fall through our five senses and the life cycle of pumpkins.  We also went to the farm and wrote about what we did and saw there.

I feel chilly.
I taste nachos as the football game.
I hear cutting the pumpkin.

We ended our unit with group research projects.  The kids chose farm animals they wanted to learn about and we watched video clips and read non-fiction books to make notes in our notebooks.  Then they chose their favorite fact to write a sentence and illustrate.  I took videos of their presentations and hooked them up to Aurasma - our parents are going to flip out at Open House next week when they see our work come to life!!  :)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Ladies: for your eyes only.

Ok friends.  I've written you the perfect post for pinning, emailing to your guy or leaving open in a browser on your shared computer.  If you've ever hoped for an Erin Condren planner {and who hasn't} then you. are. welcome.  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

But don't pin this post - it's just our little secret message so you know to bookmark the post below.  After all, we don't want HIM to see this message, now, do we?  It'll be our little secret.  ;)

Listen up fellas. This is what she wants.

Listen up boyfriends, husbands and parents searching for a gift for your favorite teacher.  I have done the grunt work {ie. I am a wife, mother & teacher myself} and this is THE gift on her wish list.  Before anyone accuses me of not understanding the meaning of Christmas, I completely believe in sharing love and giving to others, especially during the holiday season and I know it isn't all about gifts and getting.  But raise your hand if you aren't expecting or hoping to get one single thing for the holidays.  Anyone?  Bueller?  Ok then, let's go on.

In true teacher fashion, let's start with a pre-test.  If you are entertaining the idea of any of the following, please stay tuned.  This post is for you.

coffee cups.
no.  our cabinets already look like this.

school supplies.
yes.  that is adorable.  but no, we don't want school supplies for the holidays or our birthdays.  think about it - do you want a stapler, legal pad or another tie in your stocking?  right.  neither do we want glue sticks, pens or even books.  that's why we invented teacher appreciation week.

personalized teacher gifts.
now husbands and boyfriends, I am talking to you.  leave these classic teacher items for students to buy.  they are cute and have a place in the classroom but unless you want your home to be overrun by other peoples' Pinterest projects, leave all school-related items to her school family.

Let me introduce you to Erin Condren.  The master organizer.  The queen of coordination.  The maker of all happiness.

Okay, so maybe this isn't the end-all be-all of life.  But you know how happy the lady in your life is when everything falls in to place.  {and how stressed out she can be when things are unorganized, scattered and - gasp! - boring looking.}

These planners have made life SO easy.  There is a lesson planning book available but I actually recommend the life planner instead.  Each month has it's own 2 page spread.  Each week has large boxes to write in daily must-do's as well as additional space around the sides and bottom to jot notes, reminders or doodles in staff meetings.

Fellas, let me ask you  - wouldn't it be nice if she always remembered when your boys were playing in Monday Night Football?  There's a space for that.  What if she set aside time every week for a date night with you?  There are color coordinated stickers to help her make you a priority.

I'm sure that you are thinking "there are much cheaper calendars than this that would do the same thing."  But you are wrong.  These are personalized, filled with positive and inspiring quotes and will help your favorite lady feel relaxed, organized and in control.

If you're just dating or need something on a smaller budget, it's okay.  There are desk calendars, iPad covers, notepads and stickers.

So what are you waiting on?  No need to thank me.  Just place your order and get ready to watch her face light up when she sees that you've read her mind.  Get that one thing that she's always wanted but couldn't justify spending the money on.  Those are the best gifts to get.  Ever.

And while you're at it, go ahead and spend that extra $5 to add an additional 6 months to her planner.  Isn't it worth it to extend her happiness into the future?  ;)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Calendar Confessions {making it work}

I have a confession.  It's really bad.  Especially as a kindergarten teacher.

I am awful at calendar.  And because I'm awful at calendar, my students' number sense was lacking.  Ugh.  Major confession.  Don't tell anyone.

There just never seemed to be time to do calendar first thing in the morning {last year we went immediately into workshop and this year we have specials right away} so I always have to fit it into math.  And I forget.  Last year I was lucky to even get the date changed so one of my personal goals this year was to make my calendar better.  I use this set that I put on magnets to keep on the dry erase board.  You could also use these pieces with velcro dots on a bulletin board or in a pocket chart.

So we do it in a routine...the same way every day.  It's the only way to remember.  We figure out the date and say it all together.  We sing our Addam's Family Days of the Week song.  We sing our Macarena Months of the Year song.

We look at yesterday's "___th day of school" number in the pocket chart and figure out what comes next.  We check to see if it follows the patterns {starts the same as the other numbers in the row & ends the same as the other numbers in the column}.

Then we use our number of the day to count by 5 with tallies.  We whisper count until we get to the fifth slash number and we say those loud.  Then we add sticks to the pocket chart and talk about place value.  We add a dot to our ten frames and practice counting by 10s.

Then we figure out yesterday, today and tomorrow while the meteorologist checks the weather.  We color in our weather graph {by Cara Carroll}, hang our weather photo and sing the weather song.

Whew!  Then it's time for lunch!!!  :)

I'm feeling fairly confident that we're going to know our two-digit numbers this year!!  Woo-hoo!  :)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

fun {and meaningful} number sense activities.

You've probably seen those number anchor charts on Pinterest.  I LOVE them.  I thought there was no way under the starry heavens that my kids would actually be able to make them.  Yes, I have half 1st graders this year which makes a big difference but I also have half ESL students.  And it's still basically the beginning of the year.  {I feel like this until Valentine's Day.}

But I tried it.  On a day when the Superintendent was visiting.  And was supposed to specifically visit my classroom.  Ha!  Sometimes I even amaze myself with my crazy antics.

After lots of modeling, though, it worked beautifully!  My kids worked cooperatively.  They counted accurately.  The superintendent never made it to my room - remember, my luck is that I'm only visited while on Pinterest ;) - but these anchor charts are lovely and I encourage you to make them for your own classroom!  I have them hanging in my room because my kids still refer back to them.

In my hunt for number sense activities I also found this packet by Vickie Plant.  {I love her.}  These number mats are just part of the awesome packet.  I used them as a scavenger hunt.  I passed out all of the representation cards {tallies, fingers, ten frames, shapes, number words, dice, dominoes} and put the number mats on different tables in the room.  The kids had to figure out their amount then find the number mat it belonged in.

Check out the whole packet and Vickie's blog, Primary Press.  She has the best ideas.  You're welcome.  ;)

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Apple Math {limited time only FREEBIE}

I love fall.  And not just because of pumpkin spice lattes.  Because I've only had two.  I love apples, leaves, pumpkins, cake, Thanksgiving, the smells of it, the weather...everything.  {I'm not sure how cake ended up in there but hey, let's go with it.}

My K-1 teammate and I are doing an entire integrated unit of all things fall as we compare urban and rural communities.  Starting with every content area.  That's right!  All. the. subjects.

I found these awesome apple workmats from Life Over C's.  We used them a few days, just practicing making number sentences and adding numbers together with "apples" {pom poms} on the workmats. They recorded their number sentences which helped me know who was getting it and who wasn't.

After practicing, I gave them a number sentence to glue down.  They had to tell me the answer before finding the basket with the answer on it.  Then they finger painted apples to show the amounts.  For the kinders who struggled with adding {the few that haven't mastered number ID or rote counting} I gave them a mat without the number sentence.  I just chose two numbers that I knew they needed to work on and they practiced counting the amount on individual trees.

I also used 10 Apples Up on Top for our math mentor text.  Since one of the 1st grade Common Core objectives is to order 3 numbers or amounts from least to greatest, we used this cute math activity from Kindergarten at Heart but added two more friends to help balance the apples.  We gave the students 3 number cards {primary number cards from the Investigations curriculum} for the kids to order.  Then they made fingerprint apples to represent the amounts.

For a non-math idea, I've started poetry notebooks this year and am so excited about it!  Like I an apple poem.  Obvi.  I got this one for free from What's the Buzz in First.  I'm going to make these much more interactive as we go on but for now, we're keeping it simple.  Read the poem {maybe add some hand motions if it's long or complicated}, highlight sight words {or letters, depending on ability}, illustrate it, practice reading it in all kinds of voices and then do something fun with the content.  Our fun project this week was the apple finger painting.  We'll also be sampling some apple products next week.

You're almost to the freebie.  First let's check in with Farley.  ;)

For a limited time only my brand new, literally just finished, haven't even used it yet Apple & Pumpkin tasting sheet is your treat.  I wanted to punch it up this year and do more than just graphing our favorite flavors.  Download, try it out and let me know what you think.  I'd love some great feedback on the TpT posting in return for your treaty treat.

Now I want a big ole mug of apple cider.  And a dress made of neoprene...thanks, Project Runway.  Happy October!

Monday, September 29, 2014

I see new ideas looking at me.

You knew which book I'd be referencing before you even clicked on this link, right?  You good teacher, you.  ;)

I've always thought of Brown Bear as a pre-K or early kindergarten story because of it's simplicity.  But I used it with my K-1 class this year and the simplicity and repetition lead to some awesome skill mastery and understanding.

I see {sequencing} looking at me.

One of my goals this year is to work in more fine motor activities using scissors and glue...which will in turn work in creativity & art!  So for our retell activity, my students colored pictures, cut them out & glued them in order to sequence the story.  If they finished early, they labeled the different animals.  Of course, I forgot to take a picture of any of my dolls wearing their crowns but this is how they looked.

I don't know where our pictures came from - I've had them for years - but you can get an ever cuter coloring page from 2care2teach4kids:

I see {writing} looking at me.

I. love. these. books!  Teacher to the Core must've created these just for me because there's a kindergarten version and a 1st grade version!  My 1st graders created their own circle stories, writing their name on the first page then continuing the story by carrying over whatever they saw to the next page.  The number of pages depended on fast they worked but each student started with 3 and added from there.

My kindergarteners created a group book together.  We used the kindergartener page each time to minimize the sounding out frustration and only asking them to sound out one word per page.

He saw a coconut tree.  Hmmm...can you guess which book we used last week?!  ;)

I see {math} looking at me.

I chose this math activity because it takes the typical graphing activity to the next level.  I gave my students M&Ms to represent the colors of six of the animals.  {The white horse & black sheep are missing but no one seemed to mind since they were working with candy.}  The students sorted their M&Ms by color and graphed.

But then Happy Teacher, Happy Kids extended the math practice with this addition sheet that was amaze balls!

{can I say amazeballs??  I hope so because I just did...twice.}

This activity is actually 4 pages in total with a sorting page, graphing page, recording page and the addition page.  Best news: it's a free download.  Actually, everything in this post is a free download! Just click the pictures or linked text to go to the original store or blog to grab your copy.

Don't stay away too long...I see apples looking at me next!!  ;)
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