Monday, April 20, 2015

Sharin' a Little Sunshine {for Spring}!

Happy Monday, everyone! As happy as a Monday can be, anyways, right? Okay, so the truth is, we all dread Monday mornings, but I've got something to share with you that will hopefully brighten your day with a few ideas and freebies for Earth Day this week!

I'm linking up with my Arizona blogger friends over at our new collaborative blog, Hello Sunshine, for our brand spankin' new "Sharin' a Little Sunshine" linky!

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This linky will occur once a month, each with a specific theme! This month we will be sharing ideas and resources with a Spring theme. If you join us, each month you will find a frame like this...

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Click on the image above to open a Google Doc where you can click on the two links at the bottom!

...Where you can fill it in with book suggestions, activities, ideas, products, freebies... ANYTHING that fits with the Hello Sunshine linky theme!

Here's the scoop on all of my Earth Day themed activities pictured above:

To kick off our Earth Day activities, I choose one of the books pictured above and read it to my students to provide a little bit of background knowledge. Then we create a web of ideas on how we can help the Earth.

Once we finish brainstorming, my students can refer to our web to complete their Earth Day writing craftivity and choose 1-2 ways they would help the Earth. After completing the writing portion, we create the Earth! First, the students draw a big circle on blue paper, cut it out, and glue it at the top of a piece of big construction paper. Then they'll trace their handprint, cut it out, and glue it in the middle of their world. Then, they cut their own random pieces out of green to make it complete!

You can grab the writing prompt freebie by clicking on the image in the "Links" section of the Sharin' a Little Sunshine frame at the top of this post! It will take you to a PDF in Google Docs where you can download it for free!

In keeping with the Earth Day theme, I love when I can integrate multiple subjects into one activity... I am always trying to come up with various ways for my students to practice their sight words, and one activity my kids absolutely LOVE doing is Sight Word Sentence Builders. They complete this in small groups during literacy center time and they have gotten so good at building the mixed-up sentences in order! In each set, there are 3-4 different sentence cards provided. Each sentence has a different colored border so they know which words go in each sentence - that way there is no confusion. The students build the sentences together in a pocket chart and then read them all together using pointers to see if they make sense - this also helps them practice reading fluency and sentence structure along with mastering their sight words!

Once they build each sentence correctly, students have a recording sheet to write all of their sentences in blank boxes as a check for understanding. This allows me to see if the group built the sentences correctly as well as if they were able to write the sight words correctly.

These Earth Day sentence building activities - and MUCH more - can be found in my "Hoppin' Into April {Sentence Building Activities} pack in my TPT store. You'll also find themed sentence builders for baseball, spring, and plants in this pack! You can click on the picture in the linky frame in the "Links" box at the bottom to check it out!

Are you interested in linking up with us for our Sharin' a Little Sunshine linky over at Hello Sunshine? Click on the button below to grab the empty frame and link up with us to share your ideas and activities for Spring! We'd love to have you!

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Introducing Hello Sunshine with a Blog Hop & a BIG Giveaway!

I am so thrilled and excited to reveal that I have joined together with a group of amazing Arizona bloggers to bring you a new collaborative blog... Hello Sunshine!

This new blog will be packed full of weekly ideas, resources, and inspirations for brightening teachers' days! We are kicking off our exciting new venture with a HUGE Blog Hop and Giveaway.

Over at Hello Sunshine, there is a grand prize giveaway of a $100 TPT gift card! But that's not all! All of us Arizona bloggers each have individual giveaways going on where you can win a gift card and product from our TPT stores. But you can only enter them all if you hop around to every one of the participating blogs, so make sure you keep clicking till you get through the entire hop!

For my part, I'm giving away a $10 gift card to Lakeshore Learning and $10 to spend in my TPT Store!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To hop to the next blog, head on over to Ashley's blog at Adventures in a First Grade Jungle by clicking on the button below!

Adventures in a First Grade Jungle

Thursday, April 9, 2015

March Madness Blogger Match-Up Winners!

Hello, friends!

I finally found a quick moment - between being a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding, having loads of family in town, creating 2 1/2 days worth of sub plans, going to the Grand Canyon, attending 3 more family events, and going to Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day - to announce the winners of my March Madness Blogger Match-Up giveaway! This contest didn't end up having many entries, so your chances were pretty high! Congrats to the winners below... I'll be e-mailing you your winning product this week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Speaking of giveaways...if you love having the opportunity to win BIG prizes from some amazing bloggers... you are REALLY going to want to come back to my blog tomorrow morning for an exciting announcement! Some of my closest blogging friends and I have been keeping a big secret, and it is going to be revealed to the world tomorrow! Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

March Madness Blogger Match-Up!

Happy March Madness, everyone! Am I the only one who absolutely LOVES watching March Madness every year? There is just no sporting event like it when it comes to upsets, excitement, and amazing moments. My spring break just so happens to line up directly with the games this week, so I know starting this morning I'll be planted on the couch watching as many games as I can!

To make March Madness even more exciting, I've teamed up with 63 other teacher bloggers for an amazing challenge - the March Blogger Match-Up! Each of us has been randomly paired with a team in the NCAA tournament that we will be rooting on to get to the championship game to win some fabulous prizes! Here's the deal: Each blogger is matched up against another with their respective college basketball team. If your team loses, you have to give the winning blogger (team) one product from your TPT store. We can keep collecting amazing products all the way to the championship game!
My team, Arizona State, didn't make the tournament this year. So it's nice to have a team to root for... I was paired with Notre Dame! So for now, until they lose, I will be rooting big time for the Fighting Irish to win it all! Here's the bracket so you can see where some of your favorite bloggers are competing... and root them on!

You can find me in the top left-hand bracket... (Caitlin O. next to Notre Dame!). Our game is one of the first ones of the day, so I know I'll be watching with excitement!

It's gonna be a blast watching this competition unfold with so many amazing bloggers... and guess what? You can be a part of the winning action, too! My TPT product that's up for grabs is CVC Sentence Snapshots:

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This camera-themed unit is packed full of fun activities to help your students learn to read and write CVC words and sentences in exciting and different ways! You'll find printables and literacy center activities such as:

{Sentence Snapshots}: CVC Sentence Read and Match the Picture, {PHOTOFinish}: Print-and-go activity containing 4 different printable sets for students to read a sentence and draw a picture to match, {Develop the Sentence!}: 3 different print-and-go activity sheets where students will write a CVC/sight word sentence to match the pictures shown, {Flash! Families}: Short vowel activities for A,E,I,O,U with these resources for each letter:

-Camera/photo read and match literacy station
-Short vowel "I Spy" Read the Sentence Color Code printable
-CVC Sentence/picture match cut and glue response sheet
-CVC Picture match

-Word Family Photo Craftivity
-Includes both a boy and a girl version
-Craftivity includes a word family camera flip book where the students will create and illustrate their own CVC sentence for the following word families: -at, -an, -en, -et -ig, -it, -ot, -og, -ug, -ut

{Resources}: 10 color word family posters for student reference

If Notre Dame loses today, I'll be giving this pack to Amy B. over at Blossoms in Blue: Life in Grade 2! Good luck, Amy!

Blossoms of Blue

Want to win one for yourself? I'm giving away 2 copies here on my blog for free! All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below. The contest will go through the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament (Thursday 3/19-Sunday 3/22).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Currently February 2015

So, can anyone tell me if January even existed? It went by SO fast... I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for the February "Currently"!

{Listening}: "Devil's Backbone" by The Civil Wars. One of my favorite bands, ever, who didn't last long enough. They were so incredible!

{Loving}: I'm loving reading the book "The Essential 55" by Ron Clark. Some not so fun things have been happening with budget cuts and teachers' jobs lost for next year, and I was just feeling really broken down about teaching. I needed something to re-ignite my passion and remind me of the reason I teach, and so I started reading this book by Ron Clark along with "Crash Course" by Kim Bearden, who runs the Academy with him. These books were so wonderful and really helped lift my spirits about the teaching profession, regardless of what was happening all around me. It's all about the students. Period, the end.

{Thinking}: I am going to a Super Bowl party this afternoon and I have been scouring Pinterest for one more recipe to make for an appetizer to bring. I'm already bringing buffalo chicken dip (a necessity) but I feel like making one other thing... the question is, what!!!!?

{Wanting}: I so want to get a new purse.. don't look too closely at mine... it's gotten scraggly throughout the years! The zipper is broken and there are some raggedy parts on the fabric. Surprising, since it's a Fossil purse. I need to head down to the Fossil outlet and find a new one!

{Needing}: I have these Kindergarten Journeys Interactive Notebook Activities for Leveled Readers in my TPT shop, and I NEED to get moving on finishing the pack for Unit 5 - I always feel bad when people ask me if the next pack is ready because I hate that I am making them wait to use it! I am going to get on it during the Super Bowl this evening! I can't wait till I am done with the last 2 units... they are a lot of work!

{Pageant Title}: Miss Sporty 2015 -- anyone who knows me knows I am a huge sports fan. I love hockey, baseball, football, you name it. I am a huge fan of my local sports teams! I love attending games, watching on TV, and cheering them on any way I can!

I hope you'll click on the link at the top of my post to join in and learn a ton about different teacher bloggers everywhere! It's awesome to read everyone's "Currently" posts. Happy Sunday!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sight Words Galore! Navigating Our Way Through a Lengthy List

My blog has been a bit dusty and cobwebby since the beginning of December, hasn't it? Life during the holidays always gets crazy and my poor blog has been neglected... till now!

The start of December brought some new challenges for my students trying to master all of their sight words. This is when our reading curriculum begins introducing 6 new sight words a week. They were doing wonderfully with their sight word fluency when there were only 1-2 words per week; as we could really dive in and do a lot of different activities focusing on those couple of words. But I have to say, 6 sight words a week is a lot for kindergarten students to master all at once - especially when many of the words are some of the more difficult sight words to read. By the time we finish introducing the six new words, finding time to only dive in with specific activities for a couple of the words before week's end, there is a whole new group of words to introduce and teach the following Monday. It's easy for past words to get lost in the shuffle when you are busy trying to learn all new ones.

To help combat the massive sight word list, my kindergarten team began sending sight word flash cards home - a new set every Monday - with the hopes that parents would help supplement and support their reading at home. I'm happy to say, the majority of families seem to have jumped on board. To help with accountability, we added a box to our daily responsibility sheet for the parents to check off if they practiced their sight words at home each night.

We have noticed such a big difference in sight word reading fluency from this year to last just by implementing this simple change. The great thing is, the kids love showing their families all the words they know how to read, so it doesn't feel like extra work to them at all!

Whether or not you have to teach your kids 1, 2, or 10 sight words a week, there are a lot of quick and easy ways to provide engaging instruction to help your little learners practice and learn these words. One thing I absolutely love to get my students involved with is shared writing. It is SUCH an important strategy for beginning readers and writers. By "sharing the pen", it gives your students practice in writing, spelling, sentence building concepts such as spaces and punctuation, and more. I've also noticed that it gives them tons of confidence! While doing a shared writing activity with my students earlier in the week, I had just introduced their 6 new words for the week and asked them to come up with sentences using our new words. The picture below shows our very first day of creating sentences using our brand new words, and they totally blew me away! They came up with sentences that made sense and used the words correctly. I wrote all of our new words at the top of my board as a sort of word bank. Then, each time we used one of the words in a sentence, we crossed it out to remind us that we had already used it. If a word the student used was a sight word we had learned during the year, I simply wrote a blank line. If I came to a word that was not a sight word, I wrote it out myself (kind, train, going, etc.). I then pulled popsicle sticks with students' names on them and they came up to the board and filled in the blanks with the sight words. This activity took us all of 10 minutes during carpet time, with no prep involved whatsoever!

I love using whiteboards for sight word activities. It keeps the students engaged and requires every student to participate in reading and writing the words. Sometimes I'll call the entire class up for a chance to write on my "big white board" (which they freak out about, by the way):

But my favorite go to resource during whole group instruction is individual whiteboards. The possibilities are endless as to ways you can have your students practice writing their words or using them in a sentence. Here are a few quick and fun activities that you can implement in your classroom:

1. Window Notes

Your students can create their own graphic organizers to practice multiple sight words at once. Have them draw two crossed lines to create four windows. Then, call out one word at a time for your students to write. They write the word in the first window note, then practice spelling and reading the word aloud. Then, have them turn to a neighbor and read the word to them. Continue with 3 more new words until the window notes have been filled.

2. "Your Turn, My Turn"

I created the game "Your Turn, My Turn" off the top of my head one day when I needed something more engaging for my class to do on a particularly wiggly day for them. On a side note, do you ever notice that some of the best lesson plans and teaching moments come totally on the fly? I know it can't just be me! Sometimes the best laid plans just don't work out and you need to switch it up a bit. I'm grateful for that happening on this day, because my students absolutely loved playing it so much that they didn't even realize they were doing some great learning!

Here's how to play: Have students get into groups of two, each one with an individual whiteboard. Give each student a different sight word and have them write it on their board. Assign each student in the groups to be either partner #1 or partner #2. Partner #1 will hold up their whiteboard to their partner, then each partner will take turns saying a letter from the word. Example: For the word "many", Partner #1 says "m", then Partner #2 says "a", then Partner #1 says "n", then Partner #2 says "y". This is where the "Your Turn, My Turn" title comes into it! After a partner has said the last letter in the word, then they both read the entire word together. "Many!" They continued this game back and forth with various sight words we had learned.

After we played a few partner rounds, I had every student stand with their word board around the carpet; then took turns having each student hold their board in the air. Whichever word was in the air, that's the one they had to read out loud. 

3. Create-a-Sentence

Give your students a sight word and have them write it in the corner of their whiteboard. Then, have them create or copy a sentence using the word, making sure to emphasize using capital letters, finger spaces, and a period at the end. Challenge them to underline the sight word they used to make sure they didn't forget it. After they write it, students can use pointers to track print and read their sentence aloud to practice fluency.

Besides whiteboards, there are other fun ways to get your kids to practice reading and writing their words all throughout the year. You can use interactive notebook activities, such as these super simple print-and-go words:

Or make a fun monthly themed center activity, like a Sight Word Pumpkin Patch (my teammate's marvelous idea):

Or use wearable sight words, such as these Sight Word Watches from The Moffatt Girls!

We also started having our students do "High Five Sight Words" before they are allowed to enter or exit our classrooms. They have to high five the handprint and read the word aloud or they have to go back to the end of the line and try again! This has helped them so much! We change out the words every week!

My good friend and kinder teammate, Talia, has an entire set pre-made in her TPT store! Just print, slap up outside your door, and boom! Easy sight word assessment/practice for your little guys. Check it out in her TPT store by clicking on the picture below; and give her a follow while you're there to support her new shop!

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With the introduction of a new reading curriculum, HM Journeys, last year was the first year we had to teach so many sight words to our students. I was struggling to find any resources that went with the words we needed, so I decided to create my own. Thus, my Sight Word Sentence Builders monthly packs were born! Using the packs, my students got meaningful independent practice with building mixed-up sentences:

This set can be found in my Spooky Sentence Building FREEBIE - try it out here!

Each mixed-up sentence set comes with a recording sheet for your students to write the sentences they create, such as these:

Each pack comes with 3-4 different sets of mixed-up sentences to build - perfect for using during an entire month! There are also sets of predictable sentence activities:

As well as a Read It! Write It! Build It! Draw It! activity page for EVERY sentence used in the monthly pack! This has over 20 different versions in every set!

These activities have helped my kiddos SO much with sight words, tracking print, building sentences, sentence structure, and reading fluency. They love completing these activities during centers! They always cheer when I tell them we are doing another set for a center - that's always a good sign! Haha! Underneath each picture, I included a link to my TPT store to go directly to each product, if you think these are activities that will work well in your classroom. If you like what you see, you might want to think about grabbing the entire year long BUNDLE! It's an $8.00 savings over buying each pack separately - it's like getting an entire pack for free... plus 2 bonus dollars! Can't beat that! Click on the picture below to check it out - you'll find links to each separate monthly pack on this page as well to see all of the previews in greater detail!

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I hope you were able to take away some easy, fun, engaging ideas that you can implement in your classrooms right away!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Currently December

Good morning! I cannot believe it is December already. I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month's "Currently" party!

{Listening}: There is no band that I miss more than The Civil Wars. Amazing vocals, music, performances, everything... they ended too soon. :(

{Loving}: Okay, so I never watched Gilmore Girls when it was actually on TV, but I always kept hearing people rave and rave about how much they loved it. When I saw they added it to Netflix, I decided to try it... and LOVE! It's all I've been watching on the iPad before bed. It's great!

{Thinking}: My formal observation is this Friday. In December. Always risky business when kindergarteners began to get just a little too crazy excited about Christmas coming. Hopefully it all goes well!

{Wanting}: I've managed to find some deals on most of the Christmas gifts I've bought this year (and even a few goodies for myself), but I still have a lot of shopping to do... hopefully some of the gifts I've been eyeing for people will go even more on sale (I'm looking at you, Amazon).

{Needing}: I think I have about 10% space left on my DVR... I've got to sit down and watch, but who has time?! However, past episodes of Once Upon a Time, Sleepy Hollow, Revenge, and Gotham are calling my name...

{Giving}: I never actually posted about my two new holiday freebies on my blog... only on Instagram! I was watching a marathon of Hallmark holiday movies (you know you love them, too) and it inspired me to make a couple of new freebies in my TPT store: Do You Want to Build a Snowman {Writing Prompt Activity} and Sprinkles and Sight Words {Matching Game}! You can click here and here to download them!

I hope you'll link up and join in the fun! It's a great way to meet some new bloggers and learn a bit more about them!

In other news... there's still one more day to go in the huge TPT Cyber Sale! You can save 28% on all products in my store by using the code TPTCYBER! You'll find HM Journeys resources, sight word sentence builders, common core math packs, and more! I'm sure I will be adding a few last minute things to my cart before I check out... click on the picture below to go to my store!

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