Saturday, July 30, 2011


Came across a new blog by Mrs. Orr - Cardigans & Curriculum. She had a GREAT idea on managing unwanted blurts!

She made a Blurts poster with velcro dots and every time a student blurts out, they put a blurt next to their name on the poster. She makes a note of the students who have went all day/week without a blurt for an extra prize. I especially like it because it makes the students aware of their blurts (number of blurts) and it worked so well that Mrs. Orr said she didn't have to use it after the first 6-8 weeks. Click on the pictures below for more information from her blog!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Now is a really good time to buy from Really Good Stuff.

I finally bought these book baskets from Really Good Stuff, thanks to a 10% discount. Enter in the code "save3" when you checkout to receive the 10% off. I have no idea when this coupon code will expire but I just checked on their website and it's still good! Have fun back-to-school shopping!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beginning of Year Pre-Writing Practice

Before brilliant minds came up with Pinterest I used to save all the pictures of great ideas I found. I have been scouring the internet for where this idea came from but couldn't find anything (this was from a few years ago...) so if this is yours, please leave a comment so I can give the credit to you!

These pictures are the ones I had saved (not my own!) and I put this activity in my Work on Writing Station in the beginning of the year:

I made a set of pre-writing strips based on these pictures. I hope that this is ok for me to do. After what happened with Fran, I'm really paranoid that I'm breaking blogging etiquette so let me know if this is frowned upon...(still new to this whole blogging thing!). Anyhow wanted to pass this great idea along so click on the picture to download.

Update: Thank you Barbara for finding the source of this great idea! Shelley Lovett from Childcareland came up with this and you can find it by clicking on the link and scrolling to the bottom. 

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Behavior Plan Linky Party

The Lesson Plan Diva is having a Behavior Plan/Behavior Problems Linky party so I wanted to share what I made 2 years ago that helped some of my kiddos.

I have a lot of ELLs in my classroom (and I teach Kindergarten!) so visuals are usually a must for everything I create. This behavior contract worked really well because I had the behavior that I wanted to see modeled at the top and when it came time to give the child a smiley/frowny face, we looked at the pictures together to see if he followed his plan for that time period. He had to earn a certain amount of smiley faces for the day/week to visit with an administrator and show off his behavior plan, and also visit their treasure chest. The Behavior Plan is for a whole week and you can print them off 2 to a page.
Head on over to the linky party and share what you do in your classroom!

Beginning of Year Nametags

Our school likes for the Kindergarten kiddos to wear their nametags for the first few weeks of school. I have tried many different types of nametags (laminated ones, pinned on, wear around neck) and finally found one that lasts and is easy for the students to wear on their own!
I present to you....NAME CAPES! In the picture below you can see the kids wearing them.

We got this idea from some teachers at our district who also makes them. I love them, the kids love them, they are easy to make and even easier to maintain! I've had these for 2 years now (still in GREAT condition) and all I have to do is take their names off when we're done using them and throw them in the washing machine for next year's kiddos.

Let's get started!

Step one: Buy the polyester fabric and cut them into rectangles with your pinking shears. I sized mine for Kindergartners at 16in x 10in.

Step two: Fold the rectangle in half, draw a half circle along the creased edge and cut it out.

When you open it up, you should have a circle in the center that looks like this:

The circle has a diameter of 5 1/2in. It might look a little small but my kids had no problems fitting into them (esp. since the fabric is a little stretchy). 

 Step 3: Cut the colored duct tape to the size of your child's name, write the name and cover it with packaging tape. Covering it with packaging tape is ESSENTIAL if you do not want the name to rub off.
Finished product should look like this:

We used these for 2-3 months and their names never peeled or came off. They kept them in their cubbies and put it on as soon as they got in the room. Our Kindergarten teachers all made them (each a different color) so it was extremely easy to see a student and know which class he/she belonged to!

Have fun and let me know if you need more details or have any questions! :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Eric Carle lovers!

Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics is having a giveaway for a Dr. Seuss bracelet that is adorable so I went to browse the maker (Sophie)'s etsy store and found THIS:

I'm sure we all do an Eric Carle study. Do you do anything special during that study? We have our kiddos paint/illustrate a picture the same way Eric Carle does. They have small sheets of paper to paint different colors on, draw simple shapes on each, cut it out and put it together to form a picture. The kids loved it and they turned out super cute!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Scrapbook Notebooks

I just spent the day with a few teacher friends making notebooks for our team! These are for taking to meetings and they were super fun to make.

We all gathered together at our librarian's house where she set out all her materials.

Our not-yet-finished products!

Thanks again Pam! She is fabulous, has a room JUST for crafts (hopefully I will too someday) and I am constantly amazed by all the incredible things she makes. Check out her pinterest of ideas HERE!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Daily 5 Choice Cards

Update: Here is a more diverse set of daily 5 cards! Thanks for the idea, Emily!

I love reading everyone's comments! Someone suggested making those Daily 5 posters I blogged about here smaller so that each child gets a set to use as a way to choose their Daily 5 session on a pocket chart. Great idea, Cassie!

Update: Cassie, I LOVE the idea of having a teacher choice card! It was no problem at all to make. I made three different versions (different teacher clipart) so you have a choice! I hope you don't mind that I shortened "time with teacher" to "teacher time"!

UPDATE: Due to the size of this Teacher Time file, there is no preview available on Google Docs. When you click the "Download" button, it will bring you to a page where you will see the following. CLICK DOWNLOAD ANYWAY. Sorry for the confusion!! 

Daily 5 - Read to Self

Still waiting for these bad boys to go on sale...or maybe find a coupon to use on them but no luck so far. I know Target is selling them at the dollar spot for $2.50 but I've only found 4 red ones and I'm afraid I'll scrounge around all Summer only to have 14 by the beginning of the school year. And these have wing stabilizers attached to the bottom that you can slide out!
Last year I made my own by using a certain type of mailing box (that will remain nameless) that I cut diagonally in half. It seemed like a good enough plan since that certain type of mailing box was really thick and sturdy. I took the time to cut it and painted each one and naively thought that I could use it for at least 2 years. Yeeah...they barely made it to the end of the year so I decided to just invest in real plastic ones this time around.

So Read to Self sounds pretty self-explanatory. The students learn beforehand that there are 3 ways to read a book: Read the words, read the pictures, retell the story. I made a poster with simple illustrations next to it last year but LOVE this idea from Beg, Borrow, Steal:

I'd still put simple illustrations next to each one but I love this visual!

I let the students "shop for books" every Monday morning. I would have the students come in first thing and get started on their Morning Work. While they were working I'd call on a group of students at a time to put their books up, which was a very quick task for them to do since all the books were labeled (blogged about that here). When all the books had been put back, I called on groups of students to go shopping for books by getting 3 books from the Classroom library and 3 books from my special stack of books. These are the books that are simple and uses a lot of sight words they have learned. The students also put books in their book boxes from our Guided Reading time so they have a book in there to practice fluency. Those books are in their own special bag and gets traded out when they meet with me during the week.
Next step - I need to find cheap lights that I can have around the room to make it cozier and easier to read!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Daily 5 Schedule

It seems like more and more campuses are trying out Daily 5 so I wanted to share the schedule that our Kindergarten team came up with for last year. I'm going to talk about "breakout sessions" in the schedule and that's a time when students are able to choose where they want to go: read to self (R), work on writing (W), word work (WW), listen to reading (L), or read to someone (RS). I have a chart that I print out weekly and I go down the list of students' names asking which station they would like to be at. This sounds like a long process but it actually took less than 3 minutes (we timed ourselves!). I made an example chart below. Click here to download the blank template.

I change up the order I call on them (of course!) so that it is more fair, since I can only have a certain amount of students at certain stations. The T stands for Teacher station and those kiddos met with me during that breakout session. I like this chart because I can clearly see what session they have already been to and whether or not they have done the required Read to Self or Work on Writing for the day. This is where it gets a little confusing, but you can arrange this any way you like. To make it easier to understand I'm going to list out by days exactly which group I met with.

Day 1 (3 breakout sessions) - Met with Reading Group 1 (highest needs), Reading Group 2 and Reading Group 3. Only 3 breakout sessions so that I have time later on for whole group writing (journals).

Day 2 (3 breakout sessions) - Met with Reading Group 1 (highest needs), Reading Group 4 and Reading Group 5. Only 3 breakout sessions so that I have time later on for whole group writing (journals).

Day 3 (4 breakout sessions) - Met with one Writing Group per session.

Day 4 (4 breakout sessions) - Met with one Writing Group per session.

Day 5 (usually 3 or 4 breakout sessions, but this day is more flexible) - Progress monitored individual students.

Here is my morning schedule:
7:40 - 7:50 Morning Announcements/Jobs
7:50 - 8:30 Calendar, Morning Message
8:30 - 8:45 ELA lesson (ex: focus letter, sing letter song, read poem of the week)
8:45 - 9:00 Breakout Session #1
9:00 - 9:30 ELA lesson (ex: writing for focus letter - P is for ______, shared writing)
9:30 - 9:45 Breakout Session #2
9:45 - 10:00 ELA short lesson (ex: learn word wall word, maybe do a sight word journal page)
10:00 - 10:15 Breakout Session #3
10:15 - 10:45 Lunch --- yes, we had lunch this early.
10:45 - 11:15ish (we had restroom break on the way back to class) Breakout Session #4

Please don't get overwhelmed by this! My main concern last year was that I wouldn't stick to the schedule and if I'm a few minutes late here and a few minutes late there then it would throw off the whole schedule. I'm not going to lie, that did happen, but for the most part the students became familiar with the routine to know exactly what to expect and how to clean/move to the carpet efficiently. You have to remember that with Daily 5 a LOT of time is spent in the very beginning training them and retraining, modeling and remodeling (and modeling the incorrect behavior). 

The schedule above is only one of the days. On other days, you might show the students how to correctly write the focus letter during one of the ELA lessons, or maybe work on poetry folders during that time. It gets easier! That's the good news! The hardest part is the beginning so persevere! 

I'll stop here for today. I plan on posting different ideas you can do for each Daily 5 choice. Hope this has been helpful and let me know if you have any questions! 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Music in the Classroom

It is no surprise that my Kinder kiddos come into Kindergarten never having heard The Sound of Music before, but that doesn't stop me from teaching them this song! Towards the end of the year last year I started a new way of getting their attention through singing. I was tired of using the clapping and different chants we do so I decided to teach them the "Do Re Mi" song. We started slowly, learning a little bit at a time. So I would sing "Doe" and when they heard that, they immediately had to sing the next part "A deer, a female deer". Then I'd sing "Ray" and they had to sing "a drop of golden sun"... and so on. By the time "me" rolled around, I had everyone's attention. Sometimes I'd stop there, sometimes I'd go further (depending on time). If we were transitioning and cleaning up, we might do the whole song. It was a fun attention grabber and all I had to do was sing one note to get it all started! The great thing about it was that I could stop it wherever I wanted to (sometimes just after "doe).

How do you use songs in your classroom? Link up with Miss Kindergarten below!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

thanks for your support!

Hi friends,
Please bear with me as I try to remodel my blog. I had no idea how hard this is! But in the mean time, if you like what you see here (or just like my button design!) please grab my button. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Animal Arithmetic

For the sake of alliteration my students had to learn a new word - arithmetic! This is a fun activity where the students will have to "read it, draw it, solve it!" My kiddos had a lot of fun last year learning how to draw each animal and then solving the question. I had them number the animal parts to help with 1-1 correspondence. Just copy (make it 2 sided), fold in half and staple! Hope you enjoy this freebie!

The cute raccoon clipart was designed by my good friend Monica Chow.

Linked up at love2learn2day. Get some great math ideas!

Get organized! - cords


I have a mess of cords under my table that I try to forget about. Geniuses up at unplgged thought of an excellent way of organizing and all you need are bread tags! Can't wait to get started :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Classroom Library baskets and labels

I decided to completely reorganize my classroom library last year and I am so glad I did. The baskets were $1 at Target and they are selling them again right now. I labeled the inside of every book with the same label that is on the book basket so the students know EXACTLY where each book belongs. This was especially helpful because the students "shopped" for books every Monday to put in their individual book boxes for daily 5. These baskets are the perfect size for *most* picture books. The only books that didn't fit just right are Froggy books but they are only bent a tad and I didn't have any problems with them all year.  

I have uploaded the labels below as .pdf files. Be careful when printing directly from .pdf files to the label sheets though because the dimensions come out a little off.


Here are the word documents if you need to add/change anything. The fonts I used are Chinacat-thin and tweed. Click to download the free fonts!

Classroom Library Book Basket labels
Book labels

Happy organizing!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My book is ripped!!! It's the end of the world!!!

Or you can calmly remind the screaming child to put the book in the book hospital. I think this idea came from the Daily 5 book but I love it and made a label to put on a basket (Target is selling baskets for $1!).

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sight Word Bingo

Wow, I didn't know the Sight Word Journals would be such a big hit! Thanks for all the encouraging comments. To thank you guys for following my blog (I went from 5 followers to 52 in a day!) I'm sharing the Sight Word Bingo game I made. They are from the Kindergarten Fry List but I have blank templates in the back if you needed to make more words/boards. Thanks again everyone!

There are 24 boards + 1 template in back so 25 pages total.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sight Word Journal

I saw these journals at lakeshore and fell in love with them! Due to their limited amount of sight words I decided to create my own sight word journal with the high frequency words from our class. I've used them for the past 2 years and the students were very successful with them. The pictures are helpful and they are able to read it independently to themselves and a friend! I think most or all of these words are from the Dolch list. I have broken them down into 3 files because there are a lot of pages. Enjoy!

Sight words: can, get, good, look, like, out, our, play, will, want

Sight words: read, am, boy, big, do, did, friend, go, girl, has, had, if, love, me, my, not, nice,  see, we, little, here, help, now, your

Sight words: dad, mom, no, or, she, us, up, yes, said, come, went, but, into, make, because, saw, so, there, too, what, who, when, where, why

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Classroom Management Linky Party

Miss Kindergarten is hosting a classroom management linky party and at our school we also have something similar to the volume control she mentions, except ours go from levels 0-4. Our Kindergarten team got together to take pictures of ourselves modeling the voice level (kind of hard to do!) and made a little poster out of it. We hang it in our rooms and use a clothespin to clip it to the level we want the students to be using during that time/activity. The kids responded really well to it and they got used to the language really quickly ("Show me a voice level zero!")

The hardest one to model was voice level 1 whisper. A lot of students come to Kindergarten not really knowing what a whisper is so we do a simple experiment. They touch their throats while talking in a regular voice to feel the vibrations. Then I tell them to whisper while touching their throats. They'll know they are whispering correctly if they don't feel any vibrations at all. So in the Voice Level 1 picture we have a teacher "checking her throat" to make sure she is whispering.

Another classroom management tool I use is having pictures on popsicle sticks. All I have to do is hold up a picture and students need to follow exactly what it says. It's handy because I can pull it out and not even have to interrupt my lesson!