Friday, October 17, 2014

Revisiting Kindergarten Journeys with TONS of freebies!

Excuse me while I dust the cobwebs off of my little corner of the internet... I haven't updated my poor, neglected blog in so long! I can't remember a year where I've been busier, so my blog kept moving further down the "to-do" list!

I've had a few readers e-mail me recently asking if I had any new resources to go with the Kindergarten HM Journeys curriculum, and the answer is YES! There are also a few freebies to download, so keep reading all the way till the end!

The first activity comes from Unit 1, Lesson 2 - and I've actually blogged about this before, when I first got the reading series a year ago. However, I never shared the freebie... better late than never! We read the story, How Do Dinosaurs Go to School? As we were reading, we of course were SHOCKED at how these dinosaurs were behaving at school... and promptly decided that we would never be like them! After reading the story, I displayed the four retelling pictures from the big flip book that comes with the series.


We talked about identifying main events in a story and talked about the four events in the pictures shown. Then the kids used the sentence strip to present the question we asked to help us retell - How do dinosaurs go to school? The students then had to identify and retell one of the main events from the story by drawing the setting and gluing the character into the picture to show one of the things it did at school.

The thing that I love about this activity is that it combines so many different skills: sentence structure, questioning, identifying main events, identifying main characters, setting, and using details.

Click on the picture below to download the FREEBIE of this activity!
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The next activity comes from one of the stories in Unit 1, Lesson 4: The Elves and the Shoemaker. In this short fable, the Elves secretly help the kind Shoemaker at night by making shoes for him. Since it's a pretty short story, I wanted to come up with a quick, low-prep activity that the students could complete fairly independently. We use interactive notebooks in my classroom, so a quick journal prompt was the perfect way to go. I came up with these sentence strips for the kids to glue in their notebooks so that they could respond to the comprehension question by illustrating. I absolutely LOVE the way their illustrations turned out! How cute are the two shoemakers peeking around the corner in the first picture?! We used our "special crayon box" (AKA: a big kid skinny 24-pack) so they really took their time adding in tons of details.

Now we've reached Freebie Number 2! Click on the picture below to download!
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The last story activity comes from a book in Unit 2: Amelia's Show and Tell Fiesta. My students had such a successful time with the previous journal prompt entry that I wanted to create one to use with this story as well. With this story, we focused on the main character and identifying character traits. However, I didn't feel like my group of kiddos had a very good grasp on what a character was, so the day before I read the book, I taught a little character mini-lesson using some of our very favorite book characters: David, Pigeon, Froggy, and Clifford!

I chose these four books because they are all characters that my students know and love and I knew it would be easy for them to identify things about each of them. I gave each student a whiteboard and we drew lines so that it would create four window notes on the board. I held up each book and asked them to identify each main character; then they drew a picture of each one in the four different windows.


After we identified all of the main characters, we went through each one one at a time and I asked the kids to describe things about each one. For example they said, "David is naughty" and "Clifford is big and red" and "Froggy likes to plop...plop...plop". Super easy, quick, and fun mini-lesson on characters!

The next day, we read Amelia's Show and Tell Fiesta. As we were reading, we discussed the main character (Amelia) and how she changed from the beginning of the story to the end. We used our interactive notebooks again to create two window notes for each question.


Freebie Number Three! Yes! Click below to download the Amelia's Show and Tell Fiesta prompts.
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Switching gears a bit here.. are you still with me? Good! When my kinder team and I looked over the new reading series last year, one of the things our eyes bugged out about was the sheer amount of sight words our students were required to learn. Of course, learning more sight words is never a bad thing, but later on in Journeys it introduces SIX sight words a week to our little guys! That's a lot to learn in a week and it's tough for all of them to stick without being able to dive in deep with word work activities for each one. I wanted to come up with an activity that would help them read, write, and build sentences using their sight words so that they could continue to see and review previously learned words and keep them fresh in their minds. Enter... my monthly sentence building packs! These packs include tons of themed sight word sentence building activities that fit exactly with the Journeys sight word list for each Unit! In each pack, you'll find build-a-sentence literacy stations, predictable sentence activities, differentiated printables, and read/write/build/draw printables for every sentence used in each set. Here are some of the activities in action... my students absolutely love them:

You can find every monthly pack in a discounted bundle in my TPT shop by clicking on the picture below (November will be added shortly!):

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You can also find each individual pack sold in my TPT store if you're not sure you want to commit to a whole bundle before trying it!

However.... I have more good news... a fourth freebie! And it's a Halloween-themed set of my sentence building activities to give you a sneak peek! You can download Spooky Sentence Building {Freebie} for FREE by clicking on the picture below. It has an entire set of mixed-up sentences + a printable!

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If you find it works well for your students, you can grab the full October pack here, which is 68 pages chock full of sight word sentence fun:

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Phew! If you are still reading all of this, go get yourself a cookie. Or a dessert. Or whatever floats your boat. A sticker, perhaps? You win.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Dollar Tree Finds!

If there's one thing we all know about teachers, it's that we love finding classroom resources for super cheap prices! One of the best places to do this at is Dollar Tree (can I get an amen?)! Before school began, I took a trip there in search of baskets, but came out with much more. Teacher problems, right? Haha. 

Tonight I'm sharing photos of everything I bought along with a few ideas for how I'll use each item in my classroom.

{Cheerleader Batons}

These are cheerleader batons! You know, the kind that get thrown, twirled in the air, and caught again? I bought these to be used as super fancy pointers! I haven't shown them to the kids yet, but they are going to be so excited when I bring them out. Since they are fancy and full of glitter, I'm planning on only using them for special occasions: behavior motivation, student of the day privileges, leading the class in reading and tracking print, and things like that.

{Mini Sentence Strips}

I absolutely love these little word strips. I use them for our word wall words! You can usually write a couple of words on each strip, so even one little package lasts a long time. They have tons of fun designs available - I went for the polka dots this time.

{Magnifying Glass & Kitchen Dramatic Play Center toys}

On the fifth day of kindergarten, my team and I were going to be videotaped teaching lessons to each of our classes. My subject area was science and my students were going to be using their own magnifying glasses to observe seeds, so I grabbed this giant magnifying glass to use for modeling! It was big enough to magnify the seed to my entire class sitting on the carpet - perfect! As for the kitchen center toys, my students don't get to play at it very often, but I knew my "cooking utensils" left something to be desired so I picked up these 2 sets. When I brought them out for Fun Friday the first week of school, they were so excited! It doesn't take much to make kindergarteners happy.

{Baskets Galore}

And finally, the real reason I went to Dollar Tree... to stock up on baskets! There is no better place to get a variety of plastic buckets for this great of a deal. They have added much cuter and brighter colors to their collection as well! You can't see them in this photo, but I picked up multiple colors of the blue basket with white handles (front left of the photo) and filled them with goodies to give my team on the first day of school. It made the perfect gift basket and I knew my teammates would appreciate having a new one to use in their classrooms. My favorite Dollar Tree baskets are the big long ones in the front. They are big and wide enough to fit papers, clipboards, construction paper booklets, and center activities. They are surprisingly durable, too! I got the blue basket in the back (with the holes and 2 handles) for my kids to pick up book projects and put them in the basket themselves. The long handles make it easy for one kid to carry the bucket without dropping it while another student fills it with our book projects to store away after the glue dries.

What great items have you found at Dollar Tree (or any dollar store)? I'd love to hear about your ideas!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week: WHO!

Hi, everyone! Try not to be too overcome with shock... this is my second blog post of the day! I'm linking up with the ladies at Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week 2014. Today's topic... all about me!

I don't usually share too much about my personal life on here, but I've shared glimpses here and there. Here are 10 things you might not know about me!

Thanks to Amy from Step into Second Grade for the great graphic!

It was hard to come up with the 10 things I wanted to share! Hopefully this gives you more of a glimpse into my life. It's been fun reading about all of the other bloggers who have linked up... you see the great things they have going on in their classrooms, but it's awesome to see what kind of people they are outside of school as well!

Click on the banner below to link up with Blog Hoppin' and share more about YOU!

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GoNoodle Brain Break Blitz!

Have you ever been entrenched in the middle of a teaching day only to find yourself struggling to keep your students' attention or keep them in their seats? Have you exhausted all of your usual "attention getters"? (I'm looking at you, clap-clap-clap clap clap and "1,2,3 Eyes on Me"). Sometimes kids just need a little brain break to get refocused on their learning - that's where GoNoodle comes in! GoNoodle is a website that offers free brain break videos that help channel classroom energy for good. You'll find 2-5 minute video brain breaks for three different main categories: calm, energize, and focus. It's super easy to sign up - you just fill out a small information form, choose a class champ, and voila! You're on your way to GoNoodle brain break fun.

I started using GoNoodle in my classroom last year after taking a district PD class on brain breaks in the classroom. The second I introduced it to my students, they were hooked, and so was I!

This month I'm connecting with the fine folks at GoNoodle and am linking up with the GoNoodle Blog for their August Brain Break Blitz!

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Click on the picture to go to the Brain Break Blitz and link up!
Here are three brain break questions to get the inside scoop on why I started using GoNoodle in my classroom....
1. Why are brain breaks so important for today's kids?
I believe kids learn best by DOING. I've been teaching kindergarten for six years now; and every group is the same. They cannot sit for long periods of time and you only have a short window to capture their attention on what you are teaching, especially at the beginning of the year. Keeping students engaged and involved in their learning is so important! Sometimes kids just need a little extra boost to get refocused and ready for the next task at hand. This is where brain breaks come in! It's a way to get the wiggles and fidgets out after doing a long activity; or a way to calm down and get ready for the rest of the day when they come in from an energetic, active recess outside. It really makes a difference when my kiddos can take a brain break, get their bodies moving, and then are ready for focused learning once more!
2. If you were stranded on an elementary classroom island and could only bring 3 brain breaks, what would they be?
That's an easy one. A class favorite is the "Let it Go" music video from Frozen! I also love the Dinosaur Stomp from KooKoo Kangaroo. For calming brain breaks, I love the Safe and Calm video. I tried that video after my kids were particularly wiggly after coming in from recess and it did wonders for them! They were ready to go for the rest of the day.
3. GoNoodle can be a great motivator! Share a tactic or idea for using brain breaks to engage the classroom.
GoNoodle has been an amazing behavior motivator for my students! I tell them that they can earn GoNoodle time every time they follow directions as a group, and it is amazing to see how quickly they shape up! This morning I had to give my poor kiddos a big pre-test and they were going to have to be in their seats, and quiet, no less, for a long period of time. I told them if they tried their best, they'd earn GoNoodle time, and they did SO well... hard for little kinder babies to do at this time of year! I actually let them have two brain breaks in a row and they couldn't contain their excitement as we watched our GoNoodle meter inch closer to the end! After completing the two brain breaks, my kids were able to get all their energy out and were calm and ready for our next lesson of the day. Without those brain breaks, it would have been tough to keep them totally engaged!
Do you use GoNoodle? Link up with their blog for the August Brain Break Blitz and share ideas for how YOU use brain breaks in the classroom! Click on the Brain Break Blitz photo at the top of my post; or you can click here to join in!

Monday, August 4, 2014

TPT Back to School Sale! It's Finally Here!

Big news, if you haven't heard (or have been living under a rock)... the TPT Back to School Sale 2014 is ON! My entire TPT shop is on sale for 20% off and you can get an even bigger discount by using the promo code BTS14!
 Thanks to Krista Wallden for the great graphic!
I recently put 3 brand spankin' new products in my little shop...
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Here's a closer look at the CVC Sentence Snapshots pack... I just uploaded this product today! Click on the picture to take you straight to the product page in my TPT store.

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You'll also find my top 3 best selling products on sale! Just click the picture to go to my little TPT shop.
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Looking ahead to prep for the entire year? My students love using my monthly sentence building activities... it makes them feel like "big kids" to build and read sight word sentences on their own!

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PS: The price will go up when the October and November packs are added!
If you need a few ideas for back to school, look no further than these!
Counting Tools for Back to School {A Counting & Cardinality Activity Pack}
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Easy as ABC! {Alphabet Activity Pack} 
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Now, I'm off to clear a little space off of my little ol' wishlist! I have a feeling I am going to end up with a lot of new clip art sets and other fun activity packs to start my kinder kiddos' year off great! What are some products you've been eyeballing and waiting for the sale to arrive? Share them in the comments... I always love to hear about more great teaching tools!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Double Linky Duty! Five for Friday and Currently August

Phew! This week has been so busy in preparation for the first day of school! It is coming up fast (Wednesday for me). That's why I've been MIA for awhile... but today I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

For the past couple of weeks, I've been hard at work getting my classroom ready for my new batch of kinder kiddos. Is it just me, or does it always seem like you have all the time in the world, and then you look up and Meet the Teacher Night is staring you in the face? Well, that's my world right now. Here's what my classroom looked like when I first came back from summer break. I'll be doing a classroom reveal in a later blog post, so stay tuned!

I went to Lakeshore the other day (LOVE!) and, after two separate trips, this is the haul I came out of there with! Half chart paper, velcro squares, alphabet stickers, nametags, birthday pencils, 2 sets of alphabet stamps, labels, decorative cutouts for my students' cubbies, and (this was a splurge) magnetic display trays! I also picked up a couple of games I thought my students would love. How fun does the Launch and Learn Rhyming Words game look? The kids push a button and a disc comes flying out at them. Then they have to match it to the rhyming word on their game board. I can't wait to try it with them!

I decided my word wall needed a little revamping so I took to TPT in search of some printable letters and found these adorable chevron ones from a fellow Arizona blogger, I Heart My Kinder Kids! They are FREE in her TPT store! It made my word wall look much prettier. Confession: My letters before had Comic Sans font. Gasp.

If you're wondering what this is, it's a little SNEAK PEEK at a craftivity from my newest pack coming out on TPT... I am SO excited to share it with you! I have seriously worked all summer on this unit... I'll have it up this weekend for sure, so keep an eye out!

The blog world has had its mind blown today because two amazing things happened on the same day... Friday AND August 1st... which means I'm also linking up with Farley for her monthly currently fun! Ha!

{Listening}: This is one of my favorite songs ever. I think this was the first Florence and the Machine song I'd ever heard and I was hooked after hearing it!

{Loving}: Okay. Let me tell you about my favorite book series in the entire world: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. If you haven't read these books, please go RUN and get them!!! They are amazing. Myself and others I know who are great fans of the series are so excited because they are making it into a TV show - what an amazing thing to get to see your favorite book come to life! And every clip/trailer I've seen looks amazing. I can't wait to watch!

{Thinking}: I thought I was all ahead of myself cause I've been going in and out of my classroom for the past two weeks... but then an unexpected all day training the day of Meet the Teacher night derailed my plans somewhat! So now I have to go in on Saturday to finish up some stuff just so I won't stress about it the day of. It's actually kind of nice to go on the weekend every once in awhile because there are no other teachers around to chat with and distract me... you know how we are!!!

{Wanting}: Chocolate. I've been living at the gym all summer and watching what I eat with the My Fitness Pal app... but now that the first week of school is approaching I think I deserve a little chocolate to get me through it all. ;)

The rest of the stuff is all pretty self-explanatory! I hope you'll link up with both Kacey and Farley for both of their linky fun! Have a great weekend!