Sunday, September 20, 2015

Still Alive & Kickin'

Greetings friends. Yes, I am still alive. I don't know about you, but man the beginning of the year is killer. We just wrapped up week four. Four weeks sounds like a long time but it really has went by fast with minimal sleep for sure. I have wholeheartedly thrown myself into the success of building my class family. I firmly believe that if you spend the first month of school earning trust, building relationships, and instilling structure..the rest of the year should be a piece of cake. 

This year I have 14 boys and 8 girls. Y'all, that's a lot of boys and they are 100% boys. They want to chase each other and kick under the table. They are always  looking for a party and I keep telling them that the party is on the playground. Ha! They are all good kids though. We are just experiencing a few growing pains. One day last week I wrote in 14 folders. Yes, you read that correctly, 14. I gave warnings and then they had to immediately bring me their notebooks. I won't hesitate to stop what I am doing and call a parent either. It's super important that they understand that I mean business. There is a time to work and a time to play. The next day (after writing in 14 notebooks) I invited everyone who hadn't gotten a note on their calendar to have lunch with me in our room too. I think it's important to reward those great choices immediately.  Children don't have a great concept of time and need immediate feedback to make connections. Needless to say, things were much better for the remainder of the week. I don't share this because I want anyone to think I am a hard butt (because I am totally NOT) but because I don't want you to feel guilty about standing your ground. It is way easier to soften than to try and all of the sudden become strict when you lose control. My students know that I love them and want what's best for them. We have loads of fun but nothing can be accomplished if we can't maintain control and focus. 

This year my parents are AH-MAZING!! I think we have enough donated snacks and Star Jar treasures to last a few months. Y'all, that never happens. I don't know what to do with myself. AND, our book order was big enough for me to get enough points to get each student THREE in they get to take them home and keep them forever and ever. My teammate (who I want to be like when I grow up) does that. She tries to give each student a book each month. I didn't think it was possible but it totally is.  

So much has transpired in the last month and I have tons to share, but too much for one post. I wanted to share a few pictures though. 

On the 10th day, we celebrated with Zero the Hero. My kids LOVED him. I forgot to take a picture but he brought five circle puzzles and five straight whistles. Together they made the shape of the number ten. We will celebrate the 20th day tomorrow. 

Here are some of our first sets of centers. I always start with NAME and FINE MOTOR activities. To me, it's a great way for me to assess their fine motor skills while focusing on minimal academics to limit stress as they learn to participate in centers.  Just because they are not completely academic, doesn't mean they  aren't meaningful. It takes lots of practice for students to learn how to work with partners, share, communicate their needs, help one another, take out and clean up their work, etc.  All of that takes time. If they can learn these things now before I add an academic expectation, future centers will work so much smoother. 

In this picture, she is using pipe cleaners to thread buttons. 

In this picture, the student is trying to stack the mini dice with plastic tweezers. It's much harder than it looks. It takes great balance and concentration. 

Here the student is working with nuts and bolts. These are made out of eraser material but you can buy real ones from a hardware store too. They love this work. 

In this work, students are using these special tweezers to pick up and transfer one bug at a time. Patience grasshopper!

Name centers are always a great starter and students enjoy them. In one center, students are putting small stickers on their name. Essentially they are tracing their names with stickers. Fun, right? The other center is using colored glue to trace their name. I took three bottles of glue and food coloring. Each bottle was a different color (red, blue, green). Students picked the colors they wanted to use to trace their name. 

In this center, students use watercolors to paint their name as many times as they can. Easy, purposeful and fun. 

In this center, students are playing the Backyard Phonics Adventure app. It's pretty awesome. You should totally check it out!

My kids love using our TAG READERS.  This is great for non-readers because the TAG reads the book to them and it helps build one-to-one. It's great for Listen to Reading too. 

This last fine motor center allows students to put toothpicks in a salt shaker. 

That's all I will share for today. Lots of good things to come this year and I am excited. 

Oh, before I go..I have to share. My son was voted Freshman Prince for homecoming this year. We are so excited. Here is a picture of him and the Freshman Princess. They have been friends since they were four years old and he cares a lot about her. I was so happy to get to make this sweet girl a mum.

I had to make two garters and a mum but I've had lots of practice. I can't believe this will be my girl's last homecoming. I. Can't. Even. (This cabinet is new so that's why it's empty. Ha!)

Oh, one more thing...I think this will be the last thing. Maybe. 

Have you checked out my shirt shop lately? I added several spirit shirts to get us all football ready. If you use the code 2SHIP, you FREE shipping through Sept 22nd. The glitter is so pretty! Click the pictures to take you to the store! 


That's all I have for now...for reals. I promise to be back soon! 

Love and virtual hugs!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back To School

Y'all, I can't believe we are already here. This summer was the fastest summer in the history of summers. Ever. Seriously, I feel like I blinked and now I am back in my room trying to find the bottom of a dozen crap piles. I do have all of my furniture set where I *think* it will go this year. I'm praying my class won't bust at the seems but I'm not holding my breath on that one. 

Back to school. What does that mean to you? Right now it = stress. I am on a serious mission to get my classroom completely ready along with Meet The Teacher stuff by Monday when I have to start back on contract (which means being paid for work, ha). When Monday comes, there are meetings after meetings and one day to work in my room. Let's be honest, that is never enough, hence my master plan. 

Back to school on August 24th will = excitement though. I really will be super excited to meet my newest class family. I'm already praying for those sweet babies. Even the not so sweet babies, I'm praying for myself that I will be able to give unconditional love and figure out what support they need from me. 

Last year, when I was knee deep in sheep (and had stress a mile long), I created a linky called Dear Future Me. Here is what I posted. You can check out that post here

Man, 2014 me was kinda smart. Ha! I really loved reading this today.  It gives me great prospective as I mentally prepare for what lies ahead. 

So, let's talk first week of school. Oh, good night nurse. Cue expectations for tears (and not just yours, ha), potty accidents, unplanned naps (again, not wish), sweet littles who just can't understand why they have to come back EVERY DAY. Yes, this is the transition of a life time my friends.

What can you do? Don't plan too much. Seriously, my plans look pathetic and EVERY year I never get everything done that I planned.  

Each day I start with a simple coloring sheet. This is a simple activity that will buy me some time while I am comforting my criers.  Then we will have our morning meeting. The first day I introduce myself and allow them to introduce themselves to the class too. We read the Kissing Hand (tomorrow we will make our first day feelings chart). We go to the cafeteria and practice getting a tray and going to our table.  Of course we are also talking about how we stand in the hall and walk quietly (and we will do this for the next 180 days, ha). We then learn how to use the restroom in our classroom. Next, we have a short recess.  We have to talk about the playground rules first and sometimes learn a little song to help us remember. During the first two weeks of school, we let the kids have two recess times. It really helps break up the long periods of time and let's them unwind.  They carry a ton of stress when starting school too. We will also do a few GoNoodles in between when we can. 

We go to lunch = oy, fiasco. I don't expect to eat that day. Ha! After lunch we will have another short recess.  Bless their hearts. By now they NEED a nap but unfortunately, that doesn't happen in kinder anymore. When we get back to our room, we will meet on the carpet and read No David. We will decide what we want our class rules to be and I will write them on a chart. Day two, we will add No David drawings to our chart and put in on our wall. 

Then, I will introduce the class to different areas in the classroom (home living, library, blocks, legos, etc.).  They will be allowed a little bit of free time in one of these areas. This is a great way for them to learn to share, get along in a small group and allow for me to walk around and give extra instructions for those who need "personalized instructions." Most kinders can 't wait to come to school to "play" with everything in the classroom. Often we as teachers torture them with so many rules and procedures (which are clearly necessary) but never let them play. I try to squeeze in a free play time every day the first week of school.  The second week that "play" time will transition to fine motor centers. I like to start centers immediately but for children to learn the rules, it is really important to structure centers that are manageable and also give you insight as to their needs. You can read more about my fine motor centers here. We will wrap up with reading Pete The Cat School Shoes and making this adorable hat made by my friend Tammy. You can find it here. If there is time, I will teach them how to play with playdough. Each student will have a mini tub (you can get a 15 pack in the party section). My kids always have playdough in their supply boxes. It's a great buffer if I need a minute.  It doesn't have to always be free play either. You can have them make their name or a certain letter or number. They love that! 

So, first day will a wrap. See, simple plans and honestly we may not get half of it finished. It's really like herding cats people. You know. Mixing with a blender with no lid. It's no joke. Be realistic when planning. Remember that they are four our five years old. You are their new everything. They will spend more waking hours with you than anyone else.  Earn their trust and you will have their dedication to making good choices.  Remember to laugh, play, sing, dance and have FUN. You may be the first person in their educational career and are setting the tone for their love for learning. 

Back to school: the good, bad, and ugly. No matter've got this!

Make sure you check out my friends' posts on back to school. Click the pictures to take you there. Happy planning and preparing. It's going to be a great year!! 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

I Have Who Has Back To School Game!

Have you ever played this game with your students? If you haven't,  you totally should because they LOVE IT 
And so do the girls of Freebielicious!

Some my friends and I thought it would be so fun to  play a Back to School Edition: I HAVE, WHO HAS.  Be sure to play from the beginning of the game by clicking on the image above.

Did you see Mrs. Hoffer's clue here?  Well, it's no secret that I love me some Writer's Workshop AND my sweet daughter, Grace, thinks she is a mermaid. She actually dyes her hair red (and yes I let her) so she can look more like Ariel. Ha!

 You can read my about my Writer's Workshop here. It really is my favorite thing to teach and my kids are writing machines. Don't let writing in kindergarten intimidate you. Kids are totally capable of not only writing, but writing three part stories. You just need to provide them with the steps. 

You can check out this product by clicking any picture below. 

This and ALL of my products are on sale 
28% OFF Monday and Tuesday for the 
Teachers Pay Teachers 
Back to School Site-wide Sale!
Don't forget to use the promo code: BTS15

Click the image below to shop!

Are you ready for your next clue in our game?
Don't forget to guess which FREEBIELICIOUS author the clue is about, THEN click on the image below to find the answer.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Teaching With QR Codes

I'm super excited to have my friend Mary from Sharing Kindergarten guest blog for me today. I saw Mary's amazing presentation on QR CODES in Vegas at I Teach K and couldn't wait to share her mad ninja skillz with you!

I am so excited to share with you guys the first item off my summer "to-do" list! I have been working on this throughout the school year and I am glad to say they are now... 
Let me introduce you to the newest QR Scan & Learn item, 

This is a fun way to use technology to learn.
This pack contains 26 initial sound sheet, 
covering each letter of the alphabet on its own sheet. Essentially... this is print and go! 
No prep needed.

You also get a set of directions, shown here,
detailing what you need, 
how to use, 
and a little more about QR Codes.

And before you ask...
You can use these sheets in your classroom without the codes. Because they all follow the same pattern of activities, your little learners can quickly pick up on the purpose and task of the activity.

But, let me detail how the QR Code aspect works.
Print out the desired sheets for your students.
Your students will also need a smart device, with a camera and wi-fi.

Next, upload FREE QR Scanners onto your device. Here is my favorite techie trick... 
I always upload a few different one, although I-nigma is my favorite one.
{It is free and very FAST with scanning codes.}
Why do I put more than one scanner?
Sometimes certain ones don't work.
So the rule is... scan THREE before me.
If you scan the code with all three scanners and it still isn't working, then you can come see me.
Then, I put the apps on the bottom of my devices, called the dashboardThis makes these apps show up on each page.  The apps are easy to find and therefore easy to use.

Next, open up the scanner and scan the code...
 Once it scans, you will hear and AUDIO FILE 
and your students will hear me READING the sheet and directions to them!
They can pause, rewind, and repeat the directions as needed...
and you aren't the one who has to keep saying it over and over again!

Each file is between 3 and 4 minutes long.
They are easy to follow along with and they help guide learning.

Is it hard for some of your learners to complete?
YES. Those that struggle following directions will have trouble here too,  but what a GREAT WAY TO WORK ON THIS SKILL.
Since this is print and go, you don;t have any prep work for this activity.

 In fact, you can easy collect data on independence of listening and following directions skills 
using these sheets.

Others will have no issues. 
My highest students love these so much that they often listen to the audio file
 a few times because they enjoy it. 
{Remember I have been making and using these activity sheets 
throughout the whole school year.}

These sheets focus on the short vowels sounds.
There are not sheets for the long vowels in this pack.  Another question you might ask is about those letters that can make more than one sound...
So the letter G sheet focuses on the /g/ sound in grapes, 
letter Y sound is for /y/ yarn, 
and X is the /ks/ sound IN THE WORD
{X is the only letter that doesn't use the initial sound, 
but I know must of us do the same in our classrooms.}

You can pick up your copy of the QR Scan & Learn~ Initial Sound here..

Stop by my blog and see me. Feel free to email me with any questions too! ~Mary

Sharing Kindergarten