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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Let's get Cross-Curricular! {freebie!}

It's Tuesday and I'm back with another Time-Saving, Fit it all in, Get everything done a little easier Tip for you!



We all have a million things to plan and pack into our each and every day.  Shared reading, guided reading, independent reading, whole group math, small group math, math stations, literacy stations, pull out, push in, science, social studies, community building, word work, vocabulary development ... THE LIST NEVER ENDS.  You can, however, make that list feel shorter by combining different content areas.  My students and I absolutely LOVE combining math and reading teaching and one of our favorite ways is by reading about math concepts.  Keep reading to see how I use picture books and my *NEW* Interactive Math Readers to teach math concepts in a cross-curricular way. 


There are TONS of picture books for introducing and practicing math concepts.  If you aren't reading to your kiddos about math -- you are missing a great opportunity.  Not only are many of these stories loaded with FUN pictures and rhyme/rhythm, but they show kids how these math concepts are used in the world. 

I like to take this cross-curricular love a little further in my classroom.  Not only do I like to have the kids listening to books about math -- I like to get their hands ON some of their own books!  Books that they can take home and share with their families! Books they can use to teach their little brothers and sisters these math concepts.  We use Interactive Math Readers in my classroom and, y'all, the kids love them.  Not going to lie -- I love them, too!  Not only are we using math conceptually, but we're working on print concepts, sight words, tracking, and comprehension strategies all the while.  YES, PLEASE!  I spent all year creating little interactive readers as new concepts were introduced and I just bundled them all together into one nice little package.  Check out a few examples below. 




Do yourself a favor this school year.  Save a little time by combining some reading and math.  We read these books whole group, sitting around the edge of the rug so I can watch as students track the words and see everyone's little mouths moving.  Then, we typically move to seats for the interactive math portion, and as they finish up, they read the book again with a partner or independently.  Their favorite part?!  They get to take this little book home!!!  They love reading these books to their family members and building an at home "library".  I have bundled 17 of these little readers together into a pack that will span you for the whole year.  If there's a concept that's not included that you would like to see -- let me know! 


As you prepare for back to school, try this simple FREE Interactive Reader with your kiddos.  It is included in the bundle and focuses on counting and writing the numbers 0-5 using a model.  Click the image below to download! 

Writing Numbers 0-5 Interactive Reader

If you haven't gotten a chance yet, be sure to stop by my store and check out the fundraising bundles available for only til August 10.  I set these up to help raise funds for our daughter, who will be born THIS WEEK (!!!!) with a rare congenital heart defect called HLHS.  My husband and I will also be donating half of the funds raised to The Children's Heart Foundation to support research toward a better future for these babies!

These are GIGANTIC savings... I'm talking like 85% savings on some fabulous resources K-2.  Read All About them Here. And click them images below to check them out on TPT.





Saturday, July 26, 2014

Helping Hearts Fundraising Bundle for CHD

I blogged a bit about my journey into mommy-hood.  I shared that my daughter's entrance into the world would not be easy.  You can read more about our journey here. Meet my little warrior. 


 I'm here asking for your help, for your support, and for your love.  My husband and I have been tirelessly attempting to raise money -- not only to support our upcoming hospital stays, but more importantly, to donate to Congenital Heart research.  There are COUNTLESS kids born each year with some form of CHD, and WE can help! 


When I set out to create these fundraising bundles, I had no idea what they'd turn into.  Seriously... some AMAZING bloggers and sellers have donated items toward this cause.  I'm FOREVER grateful to them!  I've bundled these items together into three separate bundles... Two for Kindergarten and one for 1st/2nd grade.  Prepare to be amazed you guys! 

These beautiful Kindergarten bloggers have donated some of their BEST units to help you out this school year!  


Click this link or either of the Kinder Bundle 1 images to get a closer look on TPT!
This Bundle is a $65 value that you can pick up for just $12!! That's an 82% savings and you pay less than $1 per resource. 



 Here's another awesome bundle for you Kindergarten teachers!
This Bundle is a $72 value that you can pick up for just $12!! That's a $60 and you only pay $1 per resource.


For my first and second grade friends, find your bundle below!
Click the image or this link to get a better look on TPT! 

 These beautiful bloggers have donated some of their BEST units to help you out this school year! 



Everything below is included in the 1/2 bundle.  It all adds up to be a $117 value that YOU can get for nearly 83% off.  Just $20 for all of this.  1 in 100 children is born with a CHD.  1 in 4,344 is born with HLHS.  These families need your help.  My family needs your help. 





Thank you so much for considering purchasing a bundle and even sharing this post with teachers you know.  The bundles will run for 2 weeks, ending August 10.  CHD research is grossly underfunded and every little bit counts.  You can play a part in helping so many children and their families as they navigate through the murky waters of this scary world.  My family has been so touched by the kindness of others as we received our diagnosis and prepared our home and our hearts to raise a very special baby.  We love her so much already. 

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. 

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Work-Choice-285007    http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Work-Spelling-Choice-2-Use-with-ANY-words-600170

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! :)