Friday, September 20, 2013

Five for Friday {September 20th edition!}

Happy Friday everyone! This has been such a busy week... why is September almost over already? We start math benchmark testing next week, so to avoid thinking about those, I'm participating in Doodle Bugs Teaching Five for Friday linky this week!

1. We've been learning about 3D shapes this week -- my kids are all about them! I'm so surprised on how fast they picked up names and attributes about each one. I guess it's because each shape looks so different! I love using my big inflatable 3D shapes for activities.. and the kids do, too! Here we sorted shapes in the environment cards in front of each one.

2. Now that we finally have learned a decent amount of sight words, I introduced this little magnet letters sight word center. The kids loved it! I'm definitely going to make this a regular in the rotation as we introduce more and more words. Sorry about the crappy picture quality... and is it just me or did one of my kids use the letter X sideways as a T in the word "the"? I just noticed that! Haha!

3. As kids finish their math activity for the day, one of their options is to get out shape buckets. This student made a very detailed picture of Target... see the bullseye? A boy after my own heart! Haha! I thought it was pretty creative!

4. Next week we are going to be learning about Johnny Appleseed, so I took some time to create this schema chart and I'm pretty proud of how it turned out! Sometimes even I surprise myself with my drawing skills! (Trust me, they are NOT always pretty. I had a 5-year old laughing at my attempt at drawing a motorcycle....)

 schema chart idea from deanna jump!

5. Last, but certainly not least... have you seen the huge giveaway/linky over at Table Talk with C and C? You have the chance to win up to 16 best-selling TPT reading units... including my Easy as ABC {Alphabet Activity Pack}! And you can link up with YOUR best selling reading pack as well! Click on the picture below to go enter the giveaway... and hurry, because there's only one day left to enter! Good luck!!

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Constitution Day fun and a HUGE GIVEAWAY!!!

Happy Constitution Day! My kids were so excited to learn about America and the Constitution today. We didn't do tons, just a few short activities to get the students familiar with the concepts.  To start the day, I got out a globe and showed the kids where England and America were as I gave a brief history on how America was founded. Then we watched the "Rights and Responsibilities" video on Brainpop Jr. (love that site!) and related their rules and laws to the ones we have in our classroom. I asked them why it was important to have rules and their answers were so earnest and adorable! After watching the video I read the "C is for Constitution" page in this book:

And then we made the adorable Constitution Day hats that Kindercraze so graciously offered as a freebie over at her blog! I did a slightly different spin on hers, but all the credit goes to Maria. Thanks, Maria!! The kids loved them!

While we were making our hats, I got a little chuckle from one student's hat - she forgot to finish writing the word "Constitution", so it said "Happy Cons Day"... haha! Wait! What are we celebrating again? Not cons, I hope! ;) Apologies, I am easily amused...

That's just a little peek into our Constitution Day fun! Now onto the exciting news... A GIVEAWAY!

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Caitlin and Carrie from Table Talk with C&C are hosting a very exciting *TpT Best Seller Linky Party and Giveaway* this week.  I am very excited to be donating my best selling reading activity for this linky and giveaway!  They wanted to have a linky and giveaway that showcases all of your hard work and dedication to making your products meaningful and engaging for your students.  We all know how passionate we are about blogging and TpT product making, that we wanted to also celebrate all your hard work and accomplishments as a TpT seller.  The countless hours of creativity you put into these beautifully and thoughtfully made products deserve a little bit more love!  Why not celebrate them right here, right now?!?! Who's with us?  

The best part is that we connected with 14 TpT Sellers who have donated their best *reading activity* seller item and we want you enter to win them!!!  Enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win ALL of our donator’s Top Selling *reading activity* TpT Product! Yes, you heard me correctly all 14 items FREE!!   

You will have a chance to share your best reading activity seller through the linky AND enter the rafflecopter to win all of these amazing products!
Here's how it's going to work.   
1. Take a look through your TpT Store and sort your products by "Best Sellers."   
2. Find the product that is your best selling "reading " related product.
4. Enter the giveaway for a chance to win a *FREE* best selling reading activity!
5. Spread the word about the linky and giveaway through all your social media!!

The *best selling reading activity* linky will be up for one week and then we will share the winner from the rafflecopter!  The schedule for the linkys are below!   
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My best selling reading product that you can win in this giveaway is Easy as ABC! {Alphabet Activity Pack} It's great for introducing alphabet concepts at the beginning of the year and has activity sheets, mini-books, classroom decor, and more! Below, you can find one of the activity sheets in action:

Click on the cover page below to find out more!
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We hope you will all join us and we celebrate the hard work, creativity, and countless hours that we have put into making teaching and learning more fun and engaging!! :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Making Our Way Through Kindergarten Journeys Curriculum.. with a FREEBIE included!

Good evening to my bloggy buddies! The beginning of this school year has been such a whirlwind that I have not had ANY time to take out for blogging. The good news is, I have been taking lots of pictures so that when I finally did have time to update my neglected blog, you'd forgive me because I'd have lots to share! Right....?

My kinder team and I have been painstakingly making our way through our first year using the HM Kindergarten Journeys curriculum. The teacher's guide contains a LOT of information, and we are just trying to figure it all out. Tough when we knew the last reading curriculum like the back of our hands -- I barely even had to look at the teacher's guide anymore because I knew it so well. We figured it would take awhile to get into the groove, but we have found it darn near impossible to fit every activity into our reading block, so we just pick and choose the most important parts. One thing I love about my amazing kinder team is that for years and years we've been making our own resources to go along with what we needed to teach. In fact, when I first arrived at my school 5 years ago, I thought I made good stuff until I saw what kinds of activities 2 veteran teachers on my team were making! I guess you could say they inspired me to start making more of my own stuff, which let to me opening a TPT store. We had SO many resources that we had made over the years to go with the old curriculum... and now it's totally obsolete!

I don't know about you, but the activity sheets/centers/etc. that came with Journeys leave a bit to be desired in that they are SO easy that it would literally take the kids about 2-5 minutes to complete... and that just won't cut it! So we've been slowly but surely supplementing the curriculum and creating projects and activities to go along with the different stories and themes. There's a lot of great stuff that came with Journeys... but it just needs a little boost to meet my students' needs! Here are a few of the activities we have done with various stories from the Kindergarten Journeys curriculum.

The first theme in Unit 1 is Families, and the main read aloud is What Makes a Family? A teammate and I brainstormed and came up with this cute little craftivity. She made the response sheet where the students had to draw a picture of their family. Then they used our family words poster to write and label each family member. My kids completed the labeling part surprisingly well for the 3rd week of school! Then they created themselves holding the paper. Didn't they turn out adorable? I love the mohawk in the second picture! Haha!

Here's a closer view of one of my student's labeling pages.

The next theme in Unit 1 is School, where the main read aloud is a story I love -- How Do Dinosaurs Go To School? We used the giant flip book page with the retelling pictures to choose a main event from the story and illustrate.

I gave each student a sentence strip to cut up and build that had the question, "How do dinosaurs go to school?" They cut it up and put it back together (with finger spaces)! Then I gave them a printout of a dinosaur (thanks to Little Red's Schoolhouse) and, for whatever scene they chose, had to color their dinosaur the same color as it had in one of the retelling photos. Then they drew the setting for their main event.

This week, our theme was Jobs/Community Helpers. One of the little fairy tales included in this lesson is The Elves and the Shoemaker. They were so fascinated with this story. While we were building background, I asked them what they knew about fairy tales and their responses were so fantastic! I think that conversation helped set the stage for them to be totally into the short story. After the read aloud, we had a great retelling discussion about how each character helped each other. As a story response, I gave my students a little questioning strip to glue into their interactive notebooks that asked the think aloud question, "Who helped the Shoemaker with his work?" Then they had to draw the characters and show what they did. I absolutely LOVE how their illustrations turned out! So cute! This friend below even drew their "tattered" clothing. :)

If you'd like even more story response strips to use with the Journeys series, check out my Journeys Comprehension Story Strips in my TPT store! There are multiple story response strips included for all of the stories in Kindergarten Journeys Unit 1. Click on the picture to check it out!

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The first main read aloud in Unit 4 was a story called Pizza at Sally's. My kids really enjoyed this story - probably because it had to do with food! Ha! After we read the story, I created this little "How to Make a Pizza" craftivity to retell the story and do a little functional writing!

Here's the steps we took:

1. Copy/Print the sauce template on red and the crust template on brown paper.

2. Cut out the pieces and glue the "sauce" on top of the "crust".

3. Give students a strip of yellow construction paper and have them cut it into little pieces to make "cheese".

4. Do the writing piece and then put it all together!

Interested in doing this little "How To" activity with your students? I'm offering it as a freebie here on my blog just for you! Click on the picture below to download. Enjoy!! And feel free to post a comment below on how you are using Journeys in your classroom! I'd love to hear!

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Currently September!!

I am loving this Labor Day off of school... it's the perfect time to catch your breath after a few weeks of school. I'm joining up with Farley's super great Currently linky for September!

{Listening}: I have had The Civil Wars new album on repeat ever since it came out. Amazing album, and the songs are incredible. I am so bummed they are currently on hiatus... "Same Old, Same Old" is one of my favorite songs on the album.

{Loving}: The Pioneer Woman. I totally love her!! Her blog is absolutely hilarious and all her recipes are seriously YUM. And her book "Black Heels to Tractor Wheels" is a must read, it's the story of how she met and married her husband (AKA, Marlboro Man). So cute and funny. Her show is awesome, too!

{Thinking}: Has anyone else started the new HM Journeys reading series this year? It's so different from the old one and has SO much information. My kinder team are treading through it and trying to figure it out as best we can! We've been making a ton of stuff to go along with the read alouds (cause let's face it, the response sheets that come with the reading series are pretty.... shall we same, lame? And would take them about 2 seconds to complete? Haha). I'm planning a post soon about some of the things we've done with this new series!

{Wanting}: I've been contemplating upgrading my satellite receiver to a DVR one. I didn't get it cause I wanted to save money, but now if I miss a show I have to try and watch it on my computer and it is a pain if they delete episodes before I watch them, and it's not as comfortable. As I'm typing this it seems like the dumbest thing in the world to complain about... HA! But yes! DVR would make my TV watching life easier. ;)

{Needing}: I need to finish my lesson plans for the week... I've only finished the first 2 days! But who wants to do that on their day off? Sigh. Putting it off until later today. :D

{<3}: The first goal I've set for myself is to organize my stations and center games. Right now I've got them all in a plastic bin inside manila envelopes, but I think I'm going to forgo the envelopes and transfer them to ziploc gallon bags, then file them in a hanging file box and put sticky tabs on the side to tell me what activity it is. I'm hoping that will make them more accessible so I remember all the great stuff I have to use!

Second, I really want to start doing something special for my kinder teammates every month. I'm the team lead this year, so I really want to just do something simple for them every so often that lets them know I appreciate them! First on the list... found adorable chevron notebooks on clearance at Target and I'm going to pair them with some baked goods and a cute label! Not sure what I want it to say yet!

Third, eating healthier. Really. My pants have gotten tight enough. Haha! I want to start with making healthy lunches to bring to school and trickling that down into dinners... I just gotta stay committed!

Head on over to Oh Boy 4th Grade and join in the fun!! Happy day off!