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 you...you 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 what...you'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...https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/QR-Scan-Learn-Initial-Sounds-1886970
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

Monday, July 27, 2015

#25DaysOfColor-It's Good To Be GREEN

If you know me, you know I LOVE color. I am not afraid to wear it, decorate with it, or fill my world with it. I am thrilled to team up with the amazing company Astrobrights Papers this summer.  They are working hard to give teachers some amazing tips and ideas for bringing color into their classrooms. Color paper can add creativity to everything we do in our classroom.  

For 25 days, Astrobrights Papers will feature a project using a different color of Astrobrights Papers, providing ideas and inspiration on how to #ColorizeYourClassroom. “For more ideas on how to Colorize Your Classroom, be sure to follow #25DayysofColor, Astrobrights Papers social feeds and visit ColorizeYourClassroom.com. 

It's Good To Be Green!

In this post, I am using Terra Green paper to create my Student Information forms.  Each year, I print these on Astrobrights Papers card stock and have parents fill them out at Meet the Teacher. I alphabetize them by first name. I then punch a hole in the corner and put them on a ring that hangs right next to my classroom phone.  This way, if I need to call a parent, I do not need to pull up the information on the computer. I just grab my ring and the information is right there.  It has come in handy for discipline phone calls, sick students, or even on field trip days when someone has forgotten their lunch. I don't have time to scramble, look up or heaven forbid the internet be down again. This bright, beautiful color makes the cards easy to see and keep organized.  

You can grab these cards and print them out too by clicking here. Print them front and back. 

I used my cameo to cut the cards since I am working from home and didn't have a paper cutter handy. 

 Parents fill out the front information. I do call at semester and make sure all of the information is still current. 

On the back side, there is a communication log. I can check the box to state if the communication was via phone call, parent conference or email. I also have a place for notes. 

After all cards are filled out, they will go on a ring by my phone. Easy peasy and saves me so much time!

Since I was already working with my Astrobrights Papers, I went ahead and printed out my birthday certificates for the year too. I always print these in different colors of Astrobrights Papers and fill them out before school starts. I keep these in my birthday box so when there is a celebration, everything is already in the box and I just need to grab it. I try and prep as much as I can before school starts. 

“Post your own project using Astrobrights Papers with the hashtags #25DaysofColor and #ColorizeYourClassroom for a chance to be featured as the Colorize Your Classroom project of the week.”

If you'd like to see the links to the other #25DaysofColor posts that have run so far, they are below!

Kinder Craze:

A Modern Teacher:

Fun in First Grade:

First Grade, Blue Skies:

A Cupcake for the Teacher:

Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits:

 Terrestrial Teal

I'll be posting more fun ideas this week on my Instagram and Facebook. Stay tuned and best of luck Colorizing Your Classrooms!