Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Sight Word Stations for ANY WORDS and a freebie to try!

So, in my classroom, Stations are a big favorite.  I love them because my kids love them.  There is no time in our day where they are more engaged and just seriously engrossed in learning.  I try very hard to make stations as hands-on and exciting as possible because my littles really value that time.  If it feels like they are playing -- they are ALL ABOUT IT!  

But, let's be honest, stations can be really REALLY tedious to plan.  In my room, we do 10 stations a week... two rotations a day!  Some of them don't require planning -- like reading in our book nook, but for the most part... I spend a nice chunk of time planning stations.  Last year, I was constantly looking for sight word stations that would be fun and engaging for my kids -- but I found that most pre-created activities were for specific words... ones that we may or may not have learned yet.   So I set out to make life EASIER.

Introducing... Sight Word Station Fun. 

A set of 12, hands-on, FUN stations that can be used with ANY words.  Yes... ANY words.  Check out some of the activities below.  For the most part, they are no-prep.  All you need is the visual task card, the recording sheet, and perhaps a set of supplies that you already have in your room (letter tiles/cards, dry erase markers, magnetic letters, etc.)

You could approach these a number of ways.  You could print off a list of words that your kiddos are working on that week.  You could write some focus words on index cards.  Or, my personal favorite, you can just give them the activity and let them use your ever-expanding word wall.  As you are adding words to the wall, they are are working with them in their activities.  Because new words are constantly being added, you can use these 12 stations ALL YEAR LONG.  If you use just 1 of these sight word stations a week, it will take 3 months to get through them.  By then, your kids will be excited for them to come back around. 

Here's an activity to try for free.  This one is a *bonus*. It is not included in the pack and it doesn't require a recording sheet. Click the image below to pick it up!

 Excitement = Engagement = Learning = Happy Teacher!

Oh and by the way... I'm giving away 1 copy of my Sight Word Fun pack.  Be sure to enter the AWESOME giveaway happening over at Kindergarten Squared!

Oh, Hey!  First and Second Grade Teachers ... Don't feel left out.  I have a couple sets with a similar theme (use with any words... sight words, spelling list, etc.!) for you, too! Check them out below.

And when you're leaving school with the buses on Friday afternoons because you didn't need an extra hour to plan and gather station materials... well, you're welcome ;) 

What's your Number? {freebie}

I'm back again with another time-saving tip for smooth sailing this school year!  This one is tried and true, but I thought I'd take a moment to let you know the plethora of ways I use it in my classroom.  Save yourself time setting up your classroom each year AND during transitions by assigning classroom numbers. 

I can't believe I'm saying this already, but it's nearly time to get back into the classroom and start setting up for the year.  We all  know how long and grueling this process can be.  This process can be made easier by labeling things with classroom numbers instead of names.  Cubbies, mailboxes, assigned seats, center rotation cards, you name it.  Anything that will be assigned to a person, can be labeled with a number instead of a name.  This way, you don't have to change these items out year to year.  

How do I assign numbers?  I typically put my class list in alphabetical order and number them from top to bottom.  As people move in/out, I either give them someone's old-no-longer-being-used number or add them to the end of the list. Because I work in a very transient population, by the end of the year, my number order isn't quite alphabetical, but it's established and it's easy.

So, I know I'm not sharing anything too creative here.  Classroom numbers... not a novel idea, but it is a huge time saver and will definitely help you to get organized in your classroom.  Here are some ideas for different places and ways you can use classroom numbers. 

Go ahead and get started labeling and numbering away!  Click below to pick up a little freebie!  These are the numbers I use on my classroom cubbies.  I am including two versions, one with bright colors, and one in just black and white! Click either image below to download.

Check back next week for another time and sanity saving tip! 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Leave it to the TABLE LEADERS!

As I sit on my couch enjoying a little summertime relaxation, I can't help but to hear that little voice in the back of my head.  You know the one -- the teacher voice -- the one that never shuts off.  As teachers we are CONSTANTLY thinking about our students and our teaching, and let's be honest ... there just isn't enough time in the day.  

I decided to dedicate Tuesdays to blogging about ways to take advantage of every second of your day. As you prepare your classrooms for students, I'd love to share some ideas for using time wisely and working smarter, not harder.  Today, let's chat about letting your kids do the work. 

Last year was my first year teaching Kindergarten and I have to admit, I spent the first 6 weeks doing WAY too much for my kids.  As Kindergarten teachers, it's our job to ease them into school and responsibilities but it is also our job to make our kiddos independent!  One way you can do this is by letting the kids handle the supplies/paper pass out/collection of materials.  Cue: Table leaders.  

I have 5 tables in my classroom.  They are labeled with the vowels: a, e, i, o, and u.  Starting very early in the year, I assign table leaders to each of these tables.  Each student at the table will get an opportunity to be table leader for a week at a time, and seriously y'all, they L-O-V-E it.  You would think you've invited them on an all-expense paid trip to Disney.  Below is my ugly Table Leaders chart from last year.  Ugly but functional... definitely will be updating! 

The table leader's number 1 responsibility is to retrieve supplies.  I CAN NOT tell you enough how much time this will save you in the course of your day/week/month/YEAR.  Do not waste another second passing out supplies individually or by table.  In my classroom, we use community supplies.  After explaining an activity, I will tell students what supplies they will need to complete the activity and then, this is the magical part you guys, I don't touch a single supply!!  I simply say "Table leaders, please go get the supplies for your table!" 

They go here.  Our center shelves house the caddies for each table.  You can see that they are labeled a,e,i,o, and u to correspond with each of the tables.  The table leader may only take supplies from their table's caddy.

They see this.  Depending on the activity, they might just grab the cup of pencils.  They might grab pencils and crayons.  There are times when they will pick up the whole caddy and take it to their tables. 

In a matter of 10 seconds, all the supplies are at the table and ready to be used.  I haven't moved from the whole group setting and I'm ready to dismiss the rest of the students to begin.  

 Having table leaders and relying on them for distribution, collection, and even answering their peers' questions frees me up to do what I should be doing: teaching!  I'm no longer the distributor or collector... I'm the teacher!  The kids love the responsibility and the *high honor* of being the table leader. 

Be sure to check back next Tuesday for another time and sanity saving tip! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Next Year Changes

I feel like I start TOO many blog posts apologizing for my long absence.  I have a really good excuse this time, I promise. 

My husband and I found out in November that we are expecting!  Our first child is due August 6th and we're thrilled.  

Like many first time parents, we were SO excited and our heads were swimming with the possibilities.  At our 20 week anatomy scan, so excited to find out the gender, we were met with some devastating news.  Our child (girl!!!!) would be born with a severe and rare Congenital Heart Defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.  Since finding out, I have started a personal blog to chronicle our journey and to help our friends and family understand what we've been going through and what's to come.  Our daughter will have to undergo 3 Open Heart Surgeries within the first few years of life, starting in her first week.  These surgeries will reroute the valves in her heart to make the right side do ALL the work, as her left side will not function properly.  I invite you all to learn more at my personal blog by clicking the image below. 

Chances are, you know someone who has been directly affected by a Congenital Heart Defect.  1 in 100 children are born with some sort of CHD.  If you're interested in helping our little family as well as raising awareness for CHD's and HLHS (perhaps the most severe CHD of all) check out this fundraiser my family is running through the end of this week.  These t-shirts are a cute and EASY way to help raise awareness! 

SO, all this news brings me to next year's plans. Because we're looking at 2 major open heart surgeries in the next year, as well as lots of doctors appointments and medicines... I have decide to step away from the classroom for a year.  I'm taking the next year to focus on my most important job yet: being a mommy to a very special little heart warrior!  I will TRULY miss being in the classroom, but am also looking forward to the opportunity to create resources for when I return!  I will be following my Kinder team closely throughout the year to see what kinds of resources I can create to help other teachers out while I'm away from the classroom! I still plan to blog and am excited to have more time to dedicate to this! 

My husband and I so appreciate your kind words, positive thoughts, and prayers as we continue through this journey.  As we grow closer to our due date, we are nervous yet hopeful.  Please follow on my personal blog for updates on our journey and continue to check back here for some fun teaching ideas, resources, and freebies! :) 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Quick Little [I've been so productive] Giveaway

Oh Spring Break... I LOVE YOU!!!!!  Though I admit I haven't left my couch all that much, I've been SO productive from this cushy little spot.  My favorite little project has been updating one of my best sellers and favorite products.  It's so funny how trends change and how a product I made in 2012 was starting to make me cringe.  I had TOO much fun updating the clipart and fonts.  And once I got started, I couldn't stop... I added TONS of activities to this pack to make it work even better in your (and my!) classrooms! So, with no further ado, I bring to you -- My new and fresh Short Vowels CVC bundle!

This bundle is JAM PACKED with CVC activities for each of the 5 vowels.
Here's what you get for each Vowel!
I'd like to give two of these away... SUPER EASY to enter.  All you have to do is pin the Freebie associated with this bundle.  My SHORT I pack that is included in this bundle is a forever freebie.  Pin it and leave me the link to your pin to enter!  Also include your email (for if you are the lucky winner!) Click the image below to get the link and start pinning! :) I will choose 2 winners on Thursday!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Spring Cleaning doesn't HAVE to be awful!

I do hope the end of March has brought you lovely Spring weather.  Indiana is still cold and dreary.  And though we're stuck in this longest-winter-ever-when-will-it-ever-end funk, the calendar says IT'S SPRING! So I'm ready to celebrate my favorite season ever.  I've got plenty of spring cleaning to do around the house, but this type of Spring Cleaning seems WAY more fun! I'm cleaning out my TPT wish list... you can too!
My store will be on sale Friday through Sunday.  No need for a coupon code, just head on over and shop away!  I'm so excited to stock up on some end of the year goodies... AND start prepping for next year! With nearly a year of kinder under my belt, I have a better idea of what I'll be needing for next year and can't wait to stock up! :) Click the image below to head on over to my store!
Some other fabulous bloggers will have their stores on sale as well... Check them out below and ENJOY YOUR SPRING CLEANING! :)

Monday, March 24, 2014

EGGciting Things to do With Plastic Easter Eggs!

Friends -- Easter is coming! Okay, I know it's a little ways off but I LOVE Easter... it's one of my very favorite holidays so I look forward to some egg, chick, rabbit FUN in Kinder!  We all know how awesome those cheap-o plastic easter eggs are for the classroom.  Thought I'd show you some of the ways I plan on using them in my classroom.  I made a little freebie that I'm so excited to share! For each of these Easter Egg ideas, I made a recording sheet.  Click the image below to grab this freebie and start planning your Easter Egg Stations! :)
And here's a peek at the activities I plan on using and sharing with you all! :)
I hope you are able to use these activities and enjoy the freebie!