Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Look Back

My "little" girl turned 6 today.  Of course, it was a fun filled birthday weekend!

It's hard to believe she started out like this...
2 months early and terrifying us for 2 weeks while having to be in the NICU.

In honor of my beautiful baby girl, I'm going to share one of her favorite things I ever made up for her during "Mommy school" when we was little.  In my first blogging adventure that did not last long : )  

It was the simplest color matching game ever that I made.  It was a classic moment of looking at something and realizing what I could do with it.  In the years since I've seen them pop up on blogs and Pinterest and it makes me smile to remember my little cutie that tested it out soooo long ago.

Feel free to hop over and see the simple idea and my then tiny tot  : )

*Thanks for indulging my family side : )

Monday, September 9, 2013

Focus on Alphabet Centers Part 2

I wanted to highlight some other alphabet centers that my kiddos have been using.  Please click over to the original idea to check out their tips!

from Golden Gang Kindergarten

Pattern Block Alphabet
from Confessions of  a Homeschooler

Tactile Letters that I picked up at a random little outlet/thrift store

Sandy Letters Game I made up
Put letters (could use foam, magnet, tiles, whatever) in a sand pail.  The students scoop, say the letters they get, and then color them in on their recording sheet.  Unfortunately I can't post the recording sheet due to the fonts terms of use.   : (  But you can easily make your own!

Now on to a cute story that is still alphabet center related.  I wanted to make a set of alphabet mats that have circles on them to change out easily.  Like using cheerios, little cookies, daubers and more.  I put one circle on the top of the A and had to go do something else.  I came back to this.
My almost 6 year old did the A (notice the little "v"s in the outline from using command v incorrectly). My 3 year old did the a (using the command v a little too well).  I think my daughter will be ready to help me in a few years!

Hope you found some ideas you can use and please so the original posts so love!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

TpT 2 Day Sale

Just wanted to make sure everyone knows that TpT is having a big sale today and tomorrow.  Make sure you enter the code BTS13 at the end to get the additional amount off.  Most stores are participating so happy shopping!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Focus on Alphabet Centers Part 1

This year we are going to start our day in Literacy Centers.  At the beginning of the year that will consist of alphabet centers.  I thought I would share what mine are looking like for now and show you where to find some of them.  Please excuse the pictures; I took them quickly to give you the idea while I was filling them!

from Growing in PreK

Animated Literacy Uppercase/Lowercase Memory Game
from me (sorry I can't share because of the graphics)

from Making Learning Fun

from Making Learning Fun

I used these little cars from Dollar Tree because they are so little they require the kids to use their fine motor more than normal sized cars.

Please visit the sites linked to check out the activities.  They have some other great ideas too!

I will show some more of my alphabet centers next time!

Hope you find something you can use!!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Cutest Computer Tables EVER!

So normally the only faces you see on my blog are of my own little ones.  Have I got a treat for you!  My hubby is making his blog debut today!  

I don't know about you but I can never have enough space in my little room.  The one thing that has driven me crazy from last year was my computer table.  I had this big table for three laptops.  It stuck out too far.  It was old and well plain ugly.

After some sweet talking (actually less than I thought it would take), hubby agreed to make me some little tables for my laptops.  I wanted them to sit on pillows on the floor to use them and wanted to be able to move the tables anywhere around the room if needed.  I was thinking something very simple but he had a whole other plan.  Boy am I glad he did.  His were much cuter!!

Lots of sawing....


drilling and screwing...


and sanding (hey even the kids "helped")

I ended up with this!

And here they are in all of their glory!  I put some shelf liner on top of them to keep the computers from sliding.

Now I do have to admit.  I thought I still had black paint from my great paint in but alas was out so we settled with this gray color left over from my daughters room.  Eventually these will be getting repainted black.

What can I say...I am the luckiest girl ever!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Carson Dellosa Thinking Mats (Review and Giveaway)

Carson Dellosa sent a set of Thinking Mats geared toward Common Core for me to try out.  I don't know about you but I don't get to order very much through school.  And I am beyond picky when it comes to what I spend my money on.

I was pleasantly surprised when these arrived.  The kit consists of 15 different mats and the cards to go with them.  They are all made of a thick, glossy cardstock type paper (no need for laminating!).  The cards are perforated so no cutting involved.  The mats and cards are all conveniently color coded so clean up is easy!

For Counting and Cardinality, the mats work on recognizing numerals, writing numerals, one to one correspondence counting and greater than/less than.  (K.CC.A3, K.CC.B4, K.CC.B5, K.CC.C6)

For Operations and Algebraic Thinking, the mats work on addition, ways to make a number, and subtraction. (K.OA.A1, K.OA.A2, K.OA.A3, K.OA.A5)

For Number and Operations in Base Ten, the mats work on building in ten frames and having extra ones. (K.NBT.A1)

For Measurement and Data, the mats work on measuring with nonstandard units and sorting/classifying. (K.MD.A1, K.MD.B3)

For Geometry, the mats work on positions, sorting by attributes, and 2D/3D shapes.  (K.G.A1, K.G.A2, K.G.B4)

Honestly, my own kids were with me when we came home and found it on the porch.  They were so excited!  Now they ask to "do math" every night.  Trust me that is weird coming out a 3 year olds mouth!

I seriously can't wait to get these into my room with my new kiddos.  They are going to love them!

You can check this kit out over at Carson Dellosa here and watch a video about them here.

Some awesome news...Carson Dellosa is giving one of my reader a set of Thinking Mats!  You can choose the grade level.  This giveaway is only open to US Residents and obviously the winner will need to provide their mailing address.

Good luck!!

*I was given the product in return for an honest review.  The ideas expressed are my own!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Card Storage Update

So after being dissapointed I couldn't find more of the little storage containers, I checked out Dollar Tree's website.  SCORE!  You can order a case (36 sets of 2 containers) and shipping is free to a Dollar Tree store near you!  My teaching buddy and I are splitting a case and wondering if that will be enough!  : )

Click the picture to order them from Dollar Tree.

*Disclaimer - I get absolutely nothing for telling you about them.  I just am so thrilled with them I have to share!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Card Storage

While I was at Dollar Tree the other day I saw these little containers.  They were really sturdy and colorful.   And 2 for $1 is not too shabby.

I thought they would be perfect for storing my Primary Number Cards from our Investigations series.  I currently have them in ziploc baggies that the kids always poke holes in every year.

They fit perfectly!  I may or may not have bought extras to use with all the other card sets I end up with for different games.

So what have you found lately to use in your classroom?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Thinking, Drawing, Writing - Chapter 9

Chapter 9 - One Teacher, One Classroom

This chapter took a look at how a teacher would teach the same topic in different ways on multiple days.

My big takeaway from this is to be sure to use the same terms on all of the days.  You can present it in different ways but have that common language to tie it all together.

I know...not much...but it was the main thing I got from that chapter!

Hope you enjoyed hearing about the book.  It was a great read!

Hop over to Teaching with Grace to hear what everyone else has to say!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thinking, Drawing, Writing Book Study - Chapter 8

Chapter 8 - Moving Writers Forward

This chapter provides examples of lessons that usually occur but not the only ones you will include:

*Making Sure the Story Makes Sense (Consistency in Clothing, Setting, Characters from Book to Book, and Physical Features)

*Writing About What's Important (can tell a whole story about something that happens in just a little bit of time; pick most exciting part to detail out; include only important parts of illustrations that really emphasize what is being said on the page)

*Time and Place (Revealing Daytime - doesn't have to be blue sky and sun; Showing Nighttime - lights on, darkened sky, etc.)

*Being Specific (Actions of Characters, Feelings, Thoughts)

*Revision (it is reseeing; not whether not it is right) (Adding page to include more parts, taking out blank pages, taking out pages that you no longer want in, moving pages to help it make sense) (Using Caret to Insert a Missing Word)

*Topics (it needs to be something that matters to them, something they know) (Use a page to jot down ideas for topics so we don't forget them) (Teach them to pay attention to ideas that come from things they tell others, books they read, and others stories)

*Proofreading (start with checking for procedural things such as name, title, and date so they can learn what proofreading is) (use a student example to practice this and talk about what to do if missing something)

*Conventions (spaces, capitalizing I, punctuation, lowercase letters, capitals at beginning) 

*Beginnings, Endings, and Titles (different kinds of endings - one really important piece or information, a good feeling, a surprise)

*Making Characters Come Alive (Using Exact Words People Say, Speech Bubbles, Dialogue between Two People)

I love that the authors really use student work to show how to do things or how the students did things rather than their own work most of the time.  They also mention that you need to present the same mini-lesson topic in different ways on multiple ways to help it stick!

Be sure to head over and link up at Teaching with Grace!

Next up Chapter 9!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thinking, Drawing, Writing Book Study - Chapter 7

Chapter 7 - Introducing Booklets

*Booklets are used when you have a lot to say about something!

*Booklets have at least 5 pages (3 says beginning, middle, end and doesn't encourage enough middle)

*Can introduce using booklets to the whole class using a students work that needed more space, individual students as they are ready for it, or using your teacher journal to show needing more space

*Mini-lesson on asking what happens next to keep the story focus and getting all the details

*Remember to encourage students to use whichever medium is best for their story

*Model, model, model procedures when introducing new materials

Check out others comments over at Teaching with Grace!

Next up: Chapter 8 - Moving Writers Forward

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Alphabet Letter Exchange

I just wanted to pop in and share this with you!  I participated in this awesome exchange last year.  Everyone makes one letter of the alphabet and sends it to everyone else that is participating.  In the end you get one letter from different places.  My kids loved learning about where the letters came from and who made them.  If you want to join in, click the button above and join us!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Talking, Drawing, Writing Book Study - Chapter 6

Chapter 6 - Assessment

This chapter spent some time providing samples of student work to use to discuss how to look at what they are already doing and where they need more guidance.

*Find time to really look at your students work outside of student conference time

*Look at what they can do in the domain of the craft of writing, not just mechanics

*Know what the student already does and pick one or two goals for them to work on

*Decide the best time to work on those goals (mini-lessons, interactive writing, conference, read aloud, conversation, morning meeting, word study)

*Like the recording sheets they use for both individual and whole group tracking 

*Use a group to study each week as a snapshot of what lessons the students need

Head over to Teaching with Grace to check others comments on Chapter 6!

Next up:  Chapter 7 - Introducing Booklets

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Talking, Drawing, Writing Book Study - Chapter 5

Chapter 5 - Writing Words

With a million things on my to do list and not much time before school starts, these are going to be very concise notes on the chapter!!

* Includes lessons on Listening for Sounds in Words, Writing a Whole Sentence, Looking at the Illustration When You Can't Read the Text, Going Back and Touching, Valuing Differences in How We Write Words, Some Words You Don't Have to Sounds Out, and Writing Big Words We Use in Telling Our Stories

*Sequence of writing:
- Think of what you want to say
- Say the word slowly
- Listen to the sounds in the word
- Think about what letters makes those sounds
- Think about how to make those letters
- Write the letters for the sounds you hear

*If you can say the word, you can write it!

*Awesome lesson on what to do when the kids forget how to stay focused an work quietly; model how to do writing like a kid only with thinking aloud; when they start to shout out ideas and letters to use, talk about how noisy it is and move to another spot; work for a while and they should get the idea  and get quiet; then move back to finish; lesson=we need to be able to focus on our own work

Check over at Teaching with Grace to see other bloggers notes!

Up next, Chapter 6 - Assessment

Thursday, June 27, 2013

It's My Birthday!

Yep, I am officially a year older today.  To celebrate, I am going to give each person one item from my store for today only.  I don't have a lot but I love to share!  So leave me a comment below and be sure to include your email address and what product you would like!  Be sure you are following me in something other than Google Reader while you are at it! : )

Remember this is for today only!

*I will send them out as soon as I am able but please be patient since it is free!*

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Following my Blog

As many of you may already know, Google Reader is going to no longer work as of July 1st.  That means if you were like me you need to get on finding a new way to read your blogs.  There are a few options that I have found:

G+ - Google's social networking tool (this is probably what I will go to eventually but have to figure it all out first!)

Feedly - what I chose to use for now; very similar to Reader

Bloglovin - what a lot of blogger I know are using
Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Blogger Dashboard

There are others as well but these seem to be the most popular ways.  Pick what you prefer and switch over before Reader goes away and it will be a lot easier!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Summer Bucket List Writing Activity (freebie)

2 more days of summer school!  It's been tough with no break between regular school and summer school this year due to snow days.  The end is in sight however!

For our summer school program we have to have some products to show on our last day for our Learning Expo.  I made up a simple writing project to use as one of my products.  And I'm sharing it with you!

It is very basic.  Have the kids think of 8 things they want to do this summer and draw them on their plan sheet.

Then have them decorate their front and back covers and cut them out.

Finally have them write each thing they want to do on a separate piece of paper.  Assemble them and staple.  

See...super easy.  If you would like this activity, you can click on any of the pictures above to grab it for free!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Talking, Drawing, Writing Book Study - Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - The Craft of Drawing

This chapter included a lot of lessons to teach different aspects of drawing.  It included lessons for drawing people in different ways and angles, clothing, hairstyles, skin, eyes, etc.  There is a lesson about how to go about planning what you will draw.  

I had two general things to note:

*the connection between their sketches (during their drawing lessons) and their writing pieces needs to be made for them; it needs to be explicitly shown for them to generalize from one place to the other

*drawing is not about filling the whole space; it is being specific in what you include so it helps provide meaning to the readers

Don't forget to check out the linky party over at Teaching with Grace.

Next up Chapter 5 - Writing Words

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Talking, Drawing, Writing Book Study - Chapter 3

Chapter 3 - Drawing

The title of this chapter says it all!  : )  There was a good chunk devoted to walking you through a sketching session.  I was glad they included examples of what the kids work actually looked like because as I read it I was afraid they were going to have all these perfect pictures.  I know this would not be the case as I always have a lot that have not really ever held pencils before.

My notes from this chapter:
*Take time to show what it is to really observe and draw realistically rather than symbolically

*Look for shapes in things to help aid in drawing them

*When doing sketch times, rather than just saying "I think it looks great" when a child is not happy with their drawing, try things like "What is it you are not sure about" to help them know you are there to listen and help

*Create a drawing center/learning station (include different pencils, sketchbooks/paper, objects to sketch - loved the ideas of finding the things students are already interested in like their favorite toys, etc.)

Favorite quote:
"Drawing itself is a part of learning: learning to use one's eyes to see more intensely."

Don't forget to stop over to Teaching with Grace to see what others thought.

Next up: Chapter 4 - The Craft of Drawing

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Talking, Drawing, Writing Book Study - Chapter 2

Chapter 2 is the Drawing and Writing Book.  This chapter introduces the children to using the journal style books the authors use and all the writing materials.  I am not able to use the journal style books based on the model we are using but I was still able to glean some ideas from this chapter.

*One thing I really liked was saying what I notice.  Using " I notice how" or "I see you are remembering" instead of just "Thank you for putting that back."

*Really focus on visualizing what the drawings need to tell the story.  Details, details, details!

I'm too late to link up but be sure to check out the others that did over at Teaching with Grace.

Next up Chapter 3 - Drawing

Friday, June 14, 2013

Talking, Drawing, Writing Book Study - Chapter 1

So it's been a while but that seems to happen for me.  I have come to the realization that this blog is something for me to do to share with others.  It is not my job or an obligation.  If I feel I have something to share, then I will.  If not, I don't think you want a dull post just because.


I was excited to get my hands on this book!  I heard about it last summer and never got to it.  Jennifer over at Teaching with Grace has a book study linky party to go along with it.  I'm in no way saying I will have something to say about every chapter but thought it would be fun to follow along regardless.

My district went to a writers workshop model this year.  I like many aspects of it.  But I felt like we dove in to them going out to "write" too quickly.  I realized even at the end of the year that a lot of my kids can't even put together a story orally.  How could I expect them to do it in writing??

This first chapter, Storytelling, helped me see what to do next year.  I am going to devote time time to talking....okay, storytelling : )  I'll still read the mentor texts.   I'll model how to do it using my own every day type stories.  But then I will make sure they get a chance to share.

A few notes:
*really give that wait time for students to try to figure out their words; then guide them with open ended questions (don't take over their story)
*have other students repeat what they understand from the story or ask clarifying questions
*jot down oral stories in conferring notes

Now I am ready to go make a share can to keep track who is ready to share a story with us every day!  

Anxious for Chapter 2 - The Drawing and Writing Book!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Lesson in Appreciation

I got to be part of an awesome lesson in appreciation.  One of my former students has to think about someone she is appreciative each month.  She, with the help of her mother, sends some token to the person she chooses.  This month she picked me!  I haven't had this child in many years.  They got me the sweetest card...

and brought cupcakes for my whole class!

I loved that I got to teach my class about why we got cupcakes!  

This is an idea that I am now going to use with my own daughter.  I might even try it within our school next year.  There are a lot of people we can thank!