Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Groundhogs Day

Just a quick little blog about Groundhog's Day.  I was excited that he didn't see his shadow... after 3 feet of snow, an early spring sounds delightful.... although I will miss the possibility of snow days and delays.  Today we had a 2 hour delay because of ice so I was only with my kiddos for 2 hours... 30 minutes of which they were in library!  I had time to read my favorite Groundhog read aloud and do a quick craftivity!

What is your favorite Groundhog Read Aloud?  Mine is Go To Sleep Groundhog.  It is about a Groundhog that just can't get to sleep so he wakes up in October, November and December.... seeing things he's never seen before (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas).  I love it and the kids enjoyed it too!

After we read the book, we created these pop up groundhogs.  I have seen it just so the pop up, but I decided (on my way to school this morning) to do one side as if he saw his shadow and one side if he didn't.  The kids enjoyed pretending to be the groundhog popping up.  They loved their puppets and it helped them remember which one meant 6 more weeks of winter or early spring.  I normally watch the groundhog on the weather channel with the kids... but we ran out of time!  I may show them tomorrow!

Happy Early Spring!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Differentiated Morning Work

I've taken a vacation... or rather it was gifted to me.  Here in Northern Virginia we just had a second winter break thanks to Snowzilla.  Today was my first day back (on a 2 hour delay) since Thursday, January 21st.  It was great to spend some time at home with my little lady and husband and watch the beautiful three feet of snow fall.  It was also nice to get back into the swing of things today.

Today I started differentiated morning work for the first time.  I found that some of my higher kids were flying through their morning work, while some others were struggling to finish each morning.  I created three different morning work packs and the kids did a GREAT job with it today... especially considering they've been out of school for 10 days!

For my higher readers, I challenged them with what basically was my morning work when I taught first grade.  They will have a daily writing prompt.  They did a really nice job with it... and loved being "challenged."

For most of my kids, I stuck to the basic morning work.  In January, they worked on identifying the days and filling in a closed sentence.  This month, I added some decoding and math.  I was very impressed that they were all able to sound out pig... when I know if they came across it in a book, they wouldn't try.  I hope daily decoding practice of CVC words will help in their general reading.  Following the directions in the last part about coloring 17 red circles was the hardest.  Most of them did a great job using their classroom resources to figure out the word "red" and "circle."

Finally, for some of my kiddos I gave them the same work, but filled in some of the days to help them get started independently.  For a few of them, they still struggle with the days and have lost confidence by needing my help everyday.  I am happy to say they did it all by themselves today and I hope to build on that independence with their March morning work... one step at a time..

I hadn't put any of my kindergarten morning work in my TPT store because I feel like there are so many wonderful choices out there, but this one is in there because of the leveled options!  I hope you can use it in your classroom!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Illiterate happy kindergarteners in Finland

Well so much for my New Year's Resolution to blog every day... but a few times a week is better than nothing I suppose!  Before I do my review of the day, I just wanted to mention a lot of my inspiration for the week.  Over the weekend, I read an article titled... the Joyful Illiterate Kindergarteners of Finland.  It is about how kindergarteners have fun and learn to play and academics are not pushed as much.  It made me really reflect on my classroom.  I only teach half day kindergarten so they are only with me for 3 hours and there is a lot of stuff I NEED to cram into the day... and not much time for things I WANT to do.  I tried adding a few things this week to try to add more fun into the day!  Here is my review of today... er I guess week.

3 Things I liked about today:

* In an attempt to create more time for creativity and exploration, I opened up the Creation Station yesterday.  Its now an extra on my Daily Five rotation and as of now, students can visit it once a week (I choose the day to make sure they get everything else in).  The kids LOVED it.  I actually had a student in tears this morning because she wasn't assigned to go to until next Tuesday :(  I simply put a bunch of craft supplies over there and told them the only rule was to clean it up when they were done.  They have created so many different things... you can see the kiddo today made his house out of popsicle sticks :)  I think this is going to be a keeper for the rest of the year!
* Another way to increase fun in the classroom is I am finally implementing Go Noodle.  I had seen so many bloggers/instagrammers talk about it in the past, but never actually looked it up.  We are using it for transitions.  I was tired of timers and countdowns so when it's time to transition to the carpet, I put up a 2-3 minutes video and the kids get cleaned up and to the carpet FAST!  Its also nice for me to get a little more exercise in during the day :)  Will keep you posted if the novelty wears off... but I doubt it!

* Yesterday I asked my kids what they knew about Dr. King.... crickets.  I'm use to teaching first grade and they come in know something about him.  This was honestly my first opportunity to teach them something that no one had a clue about or any prior knowledge.  Its hard to get all of the facts across to five year olds, but we focused on Dr. King wanting to make the world a better place and one of the ways he did so was by giving a speech to encourage people to be fair and nice to each other.  The kiddos drew a picture of their "dream" for the world and then I took a picture of them "thinking" to put at the bottom.  I'll post a picture tomorrow of the final product!  They really want a world where people are nice to each other!

2 Things I am looking forward to tomorrow

* Last week, I mentioned our Skittles Science experiment and how the students used their science minds to question what would happen if we did the same thing to M&Ms.  I took it a step further and bought a few different types of candy at the store today to put in water to see what happens to the color.  Tomorrow we will test sweet tarts, M&Ms and gobstoppers (I'm very curious about these!)  I'll post pics of our results!
* We've been working really hard on letter writing, but its been a slooooow process as I only have time for Writers' Workshop 3 times a week... for 20 minutes.  Tomorrow we will finish our first "guided" letter and then after that they will be able to write more letters at their own pace.  I am excited for them to "mail" their first letter to a classroom friend tomorrow!

1 Thing a student did to make me smile

I am in the middle of mid-year DRA testing.  When I asked a student his favorite book today he told me The Bible.  He then told me about why he likes it and that he knows God loves us and will one day give us a mansion.  Adorable and so heartwarming that he chose this book!

My goal is to do a Five for Friday tomorrow!  Happy Almost 3-Day Weekend!
Article about Finland: http://taughtbyfinland.com/the-joyful-illiterate-kindergartners-of-finland/

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Five for Friday - Sunday Edition

Well, I didn't blog on Thursday... or Friday... or Saturday (but technically that wasn't part of my goal) so here I am on Sunday trying to get in on the Five for Friday action.   Thanks for letting me link up Doodle Bugs Teaching!  Here are 5 things from my week,

1. New Year's Wall
I wanted to do something for New Years, but with everything else I wanted to do and us only being half day, I had to do something quick.  This only took about 10 minutes.  They decorated their hat and then I glued it on their head.  It makes for some cute decor in our room and they love seeing themselves up on the wall.

2. Daily Five
I was so worried that after break my kids would come back and not remember our routines.  After some refresher conversation, I told them I was going to try to catch them doing what they are suppose to do and if I saw a great example, I would snap their picture for our Daily Five wall.  This kiddo was really enjoying a new January book in our Listen to Reading center and was thrilled to be a "good example." for our wall!  Easy peasy.

3. Weekly Science Experiment: Skittles!
We dissolved candy canes before break so bringing out the skittles for our weekly experiment was fun.  A lot of them thought the skittles would disappear.  Maybe if we had left them longer they would have?  We did enjoy watching how quickly their color disappeared.  They enjoyed mixing the water too with the different colors.  This was a very easy experiment to do, but I head a LOT of scientific talk.  My kids noticed that the primary color when all the colors blended was orange.  We got to talk about the orange skittle, but also how the red and yellow skittle made the orange color.  They also created my follow up science experiment for next week.  They were curious what would happen with M&Ms.  I'm a bit curious now too since they have chocolate in the middle.  Next Friday I plan on bringing in a bunch of different colored candies to try... maybe gobstoppers, skittles again M&Ms, jellybeans... any other ideas?  I'll tell you how it goes!  

Science experiments have been so easy this year because I spent the summer prepping for the year with my TPT product.. A Year of Science Experiments.  Every week, there is a question, materials, procedure, hypothesis page, etc. already done to follow along with.  It has made my life super easy!  There are printables to go along with each experiment as well, but that would be a lot for my kiddos right now in the time table I have to get experiments done.  Doing weekly experiments has been great as far as teaching vocabulary since they are exposed to it all year long!

4. No Folders
Since this is my first year in kindergarten, I am getting use to not having desks.  I didn't want them to have an unfinished work folder that they always forgot about so I just have them put anything that is unfinished right here where they can see it.  It's also a quick way for me to see who hasn't done specific assignments.

5. Rainbow Words
I blogged about rainbow words earlier this week!  You can check that out.  Here is where I keep track of who knows what lists.  Three out of 18 of my kids already know how to read all 18 lists of words.  One student already knows how to write them all too!  Wow!  This is great to motivate them to learn those sight words at their own pace!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Day 3

I honestly cannot believe I am here blogging for the third day in a row.  I think I have a nice system set up.  I am always close to my 10,000 step goal at the end of the day so from now on, I take my laptop and sit it on the treadmill and walk those last few steps as I blog.... two resolutions done!  Here's my hump day!

1. My kids always impress me with their ability to take things to the next level.  My first graders did this last year, but I was so surprised to see my kinders do it this year.  Every morning we draw tens and ones for how many days we have been in school.  Some kids have gone back and written the numbers in their drawings.  We call it "stretching the brain."
2. During reading groups, I try to encourage the students to use our strategies.  I always ask at the end, which word did they have to use a strategy to figure out.  They never remember!  I took out some highlighter tape today and  gave them each a piece to put on the word when they figured it out.  That helped them remember which strategy to share at the end.  Right now, we are just working on Lips the Fish and Eagle Eye for most of my reading groups.

3. We started our telling time centers today!  The kids loved the centers I had for the day.  For this rotation, they get to spend one center on the computer, one center playing Memory, one center playing Bazinga, one center with Time Bingo, one center playing a Board game and one center with me where they work on a true/false activity.  I pulled all of these games from my first grade unit on telling time and just took out the quarter hours!  We had a good time!  Bazinga is my favorite (an ode to The Big Bang Theory).  This is where they pull out a card and have to read the time.  If they can read it, they keep the card and the first kid who has 10 cards wins.  If they pull out a card that says BAZINGA, they have to put all of their cards back in... womp, womp, womp.  Here is a link to my TPT unit... 2 weeks or mini lessons, games and an assessment.  Make sure you use a Promethean Board though because it is Active Inspire!

1. Tomorrow I have Guidance... which means I have a thirty minute planning block.  I don't get much planning, so I am excited about this!  I want to re-vamp some centers.
2. Tomorrow we will draw things we need vs. things we want.  I think they have a handle on it, but sometimes its interesting what kids think they "need."

1. A student gave me a picture of a Christmas Tree... so "I could celebrate a little longer."

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Day 2... and here I am blogging again.  Unfortunately, I forgot to snap the pictures I wanted to take today before I left my classroom.  Maybe tomorrow my entry will be more visually stimulating!  Here is my day in 3... 2... 1

1. During our Morning Meeting time, I play the Fifty Nifty United States son (which I learned in first grade).  We've only been doing it since December 1st, but some of my girls can sing all of the states!  I credit my first grade teacher, Mrs. Conroy, for knowing all of my states and it infuriates me when people can't name all 50 states.... have you seen that Friends episode?  So, you're welcome students, future adults, for teaching you your 50 states.

2. We did a spur of the moment math project today because our hallway bulletin board looked a bit bare.  We made hot chocolate mugs and put "marshmallows" in.  They created two sets of them and then added them together.  It ended up very cute and they followed directions really well.  (pics posted tomorrow!)

1. Over break, I encouraged the students to practice their sight word packets.  Some of them are rocking it.  They are almost through them all and have their names on every color of the rainbow.  I love this system.  I give each of my kiddos a sight word pack called "Rainbow Words."  There are 18 separate lists of sight words.  Each list has 6 words.  Once they have mastered a list, they get a sticker.  Once they've mastered three lists for each color, they can put their name on that color of the rainbow!  Once they finish the rainbow, I put their name in a cloud to be displayed around the rainbow.  If they need the extra challenge, I have them go back and write the words.  I had one student already be able to write all of the words!  Her name is in a sun!  Here is a link to the product on TPT:

1. Tomorrow we start our letter writing unit!  I know the kids are going to love writing letters to each other and putting it in the mailbox for Friday deliveries!  Since I am use to teaching first grade... I am going to slow down the teaching part of letter writing.  We are going to learn about the date and greeting tomorrow.

2. I hope all of my kiddos are back tomorrow.  Two were out yesterday and two again today!  I hope all 18 are there tomorrow because I honestly miss them.

 1. I told one of my kids that I liked her fluffy hat today... I was corrected multiple times that it was a PUFFY hat... not a fluffy hat.  It's the little things :)

Monday, January 4, 2016

I'm Back?

Well here I am, back on my blog.  It is my New Year's Resolution to blog every day.  I think I have created a simple enough idea that will make it manageable to give you a sneak peek into my classroom on a daily basis... but first a little catch up.

I am no longer teaching first grade.  I had a beautiful baby girl, Julianna, in May and was offered a part time kindergarten position at a school less than a mile from my house!  To get into this school, I decided to give kindergarten a try and go part-time for the year.  I LOVE kindergarten and am enjoying every day!  I do miss first grade though... so if ever presented with the opportunity to choose between the two, it would be tough.

Even though I am part time, my afternoons are spent playing with Julianna.  I had fully intended to make TPT products and blog, but that just wasn't happening.  I am still going to work hard to add some products to my store, but for now, I'll blog.  Every day I am going to share my 3, 2, 1.  You will get:
3 things that went well that day.
2 things I am looking forward to tomorrow.
1 thing a kid did to make me smile.
So here you go:

First Day Back From Break in 3... 2... 1...

1. My kids were much more awake than I anticipated this morning and super excited to be back at school.

2. I changed the morning work and made it more challenging, where they had to write the days for yesterday, today and tomorrow... they rose to the challenge.

3. All of the hugs and welcome back smiles were a nice way to get back into things after two weeks of break!

1. Tomorrow we are starting out math centers for telling time.  I love teaching telling time and I hope they enjoy some of the fun games I have made.  I will post a picture of them playing the games tomorrow and provide a link to where you can buy it online!

2. Tomorrow, we are going to start comparing needs and wants.  We briefly discussed it today with a fabulous book: Flakey the Naked Snowman.  It is about a snowman who doesn't have any clothes because he gave the all to people who needed it more!  If you haven't read it, I suggest giving it a go!

 1. Two of my kids came into today, who I have been working hard with on their handwriting... and were rocking the handwriting!  They were writing so small and neatly and were so proud of themselves!  It was a great start to the new year!

What was your day like in 3... 2... 1...?

Until tomorrow!  I hope I can keep this New Year's Resolution going!!