Monday, October 27, 2014

Sawyer Update and Word Family Fun! (HUGE freebie!)

Sorry for the long absence, friends.  As many of you know, my daughter (now 3 months old) was diagnosed in-utero with a rare heart defect.  We had her first open heart surgery at 7 days old and have recently returned to the hospital (2.5 months later) for severe complications.  My little girl went into cardiac arrest, received 27 minutes of chest compressions, and was placed on emergency ECMO.  She is off ECMO now and recovering.  She also has endocarditis (an infection on the heart) that we are treating with antibiotics. My family so appreciates any thoughts and prayers you would be willing to offer.

The hospital is not the most happening place, so I've had lots of time to work on classroom goodies.  I love teaching word families so I thought that would be a nice, big project to tackle!  Check out some of the goodies I made for teaching whole group, small group, and independent practice! 

Everything I ever teach, I introduce whole group.  Teaching word families is no different!  We have a song that we sing for each word family using the word/picture cards.  We also make a flipchart for making word family words with onset/rime.  My kids LOVE shared writing, so I made some sight word sentences where kiddos can fill in the blanks with word family words! 

After we've gone over everything whole group, kids are ready to work with these words in stations and with you during guided reading!  Stations include Write the Room and Onset/Rime Puzzles.  There is a Word Family Slider Craftivity for kids to practice making and reading word family words.  I like to play the Grab It/Dab It game during Guided Reading.  Students reach into a bag and pull out a picture or word card.  If they pull a picture, the whole group uses bingo dabbers to dab that word on their sheet.  If they pull a word, they dab the corresponding picture.  SO FUN! 

I like using printables to reinforce concepts either as morning work or homework.  These printables are no-prep so they are teacher-friendly but they also provide great practice for your kiddos.  I also included an emergent reader.  My kids L-O-V-E these... honestly.  We read the word family readers together, then I pass out highlighters.  The kids go back through the story and highlight all the word family words.  Then they write them on the lines on the last page.  I have no idea why they love this so much, but there is something about highlighters -- They are great motivators! 

There ya have it!  So far I've done the Short A families - Ag, Ad, An, Am, At, and Ap.  You can grab all 43 pages of the AT pack for FREEEEEEEEE! The rest of them are set up the same way.

Check out the whole bundle for a discount by clicking below! :) 

Word Family Sets and Bundles for all the other vowels coming SOON! :) 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

We Heart Writing!!! AND Freebies!

I'm an elementary school teacher.  I chose elementary education vs. secondary education for a number of reasons, one of them being that I love teaching all subjects.  I never wanted to limit myself to just one subject like secondary education majors do.  But if I had to choose a favorite subject to teach, it would be writing.  

I love trying to make sense of the invented spelling of a sweet Kindergartner. 

I love that their creativity has no bounds and they can express that through their storytelling. 

I love the pride on their tiny faces when they write a book -- an actual book!!!!! 

My kids enjoy writing.  They enjoy the freedom of it.  They like that they can take a story wherever they want and they can show it through words and pictures.  Last year, our writers workshop time just wasn't enough! We wrote in journals upon returning from lunch and we had a dedicated writing station in their weekly rotations.  In an attempt to get more organized with my writing station, I put together this bundle! 

It's full of fun ways to get kiddos writing and most of it is low-prep for ease of planning.  

The first step for writing in Mrs. Kelly's Klass is oral storytelling.  We spend a nice chunk of time telling stories around the carpet.  **Ohhhh, I think next year, we'll tell stories around the "Campfire".. I'm picturing butcher paper fire and S'MORES!"** Someone remind me when next September rolls around.  Anyway... kids practice telling stories out loud, whether whole group, or to a partner.  

Then, we take that story they just told, and we turn it into a picture.  Students learn to draw their stories to make them come to life. 

And finally they are ready to add labels.  Cue the *We <3 Writing: Labels* part of this pack. 

I like to start with simple labeling sheets to teach kids HOW to label parts, then we move into more complex "scenes" like those that they will draw when they are drawing their stories. Here is an example:

Another great way to get kids putting words on paper is by writing lists

I admit,  I'm probably creating a bunch of little monsters by teaching them to write lists - they'll all turn out like me with a list for everything!  :)  BUT, it is a fun and RELEVANT way to practice writing.  The kids LOVE coming up with words that fit a topic.  I like to give them a little help to get started by providing what I call an "idea chart"... It just gives them a few ideas of things that might belong in that particular list.  Check it out! 

After kiddos have practiced telling stories, drawing stories, and putting words on paper... I slowly introduce the idea of writing sentences.  

I am constantly preaching to "write how you talk" ... I encourage my kiddos to say what they want to write out loud first, then write it, then read it to make sure it sounds right!  We practice getting ready to be sentence writers a couple different ways. 

I like to laminate these and use them as a write and wipe station.  The two in this picture have sentence starters for students to trace then complete the sentence. 

The two in this picture do not have sentence starters.  The kids just look at the picture, verbalize a sentence, then write and check it! 

Mind you, in the midst of all this, we're already writing books!  

We've been "writing" books since the first few weeks of school!  Their books start as pictures on pages... then we add labels... now we've added sentences!  I L-O-V-E watching their books progress over the course of the year! I love allowing them to write the same kind of book multiple times over the course of the year.  An "I can" book goes from pictures only in September, to spectacular picture/label/sentence filled literary masterpieces ;) 

I like to include an "idea chart" to get kids thinking about what kinds of things would fit in with that topic.  

And, I'd be doing you and your kiddos a disservice if I didn't give you this one tiny piece of advice when it comes to writing.  Let your kids read their writing to you.  Let them come to your desk and read you their "story".  Their eyes come to life, they read through a grin, and they can't wait for you to ask to see their picture.  Every day at the end of stations, it's a RULE that the 4 or 5 kids who were at writing station absolutely MUST share their book with me before taking it home to share with their family.  
Couldn't show you all this writing goodness without sharing a bit of it! Here's a little "sampler" ... a page or two from each of the packs included in the bundle.  Grab it for free by clicking the picture below! 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Counting in Kinder

Counting is one of those skills that seems so simple, but it's so incredibly important! It's truly foundational in nature because our kids need to know how to count in order to learn to add/subtract and eventually multiply/divide!  In my normal grown up life,  I count every day.  I'm also guilty of counting too fast and having to count the same thing 3 or 4 times.  Many of our kids come to us with the ability to rote count... maybe to 10... maybe to 100.  But even those amazing rote counters can have some difficulty with one-to-one correspondence.  So we practice.  A LOT.  The biggest problem my kiddos encounter when learning to count one-to-one is that they go too quickly or forget which items/pictures they've already counted.  I like to teach them different ways to keep track. 

I can count like I read. 
 Since our counting unit hits at the beginning of the year while we're teaching print concepts, this is an easy way to help  kids understand how to count in an organized way.  I tell them to count left to right, top to bottom.  I tell them to touch the objects/pictures they are counting just like we touch the words we are reading. 

I can cross things out.
If we are working on a paper or they are counting something written, I tell them they can keep track of what they have already counted by crossing an item off for every number they count.  As they count 1, they will cross out an item, 2... cross out another... and so on. 

I can move things over.
When we are counting something tangible, I teach them to move the items over.  For example, on the chart above, we practice with post-it notes.  I put some post-its in the first box, and we practice counting while moving them to the next box.  We practice this with unifix cubes, counting bears, and even candy or goldfish crackers!  They know that once they've moved all items over, they have reached their total. 

We practice counting with lots of different activities.  I have put a few of our favorite stations together in a mini-unit that you can check out on TPT!  Click the picture below to get a closer look. 

The kids LOVE this station and you can put all sorts of little trinkets in the bags to be counted.  They can practice the move it over strategy while counting. 

 These sorting mats are for numbers 1-5 and allow students to practice touching while counting. 
 Love these cute little puzzles.  Kiddos can practice counting the shapes like they read. 
 Count and clip is a big favorite in my classroom.  Put a smiley face on the back behind the correct answer to make it self-checking. 
 My kids love getting up and around the room.  In this station they search for the ten frame kids and count like the read to answer How Many. 

We practice counting all year long but really hit it hard in the first semester of school.  It's so important and never goes away, so having these strategies in their back pocket is a huge help and you can refer to them all year long!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pumpkins Pumpkins Pumpkins

It's October. The leaves are changing and falling.  The air is cool and crisp.  But most importantly... Pumpkins.  Kids love pumpkins.  And you can have a lot of fun with pumpkins in your classroom. 

Here are some great read alouds for your pumpkin week! 

 Awesome, awesome book to talk about counting and estimating.  Then, OF COURSE, having the kids count the seeds in a pumpkin! 

 This witch grows a HUGE pumpkin but nobody can seem to figure out how to move it! 

 Oh, Splat is hilarious!  Your kids will love this funny book about trying to get the perfect pumpkin home! 

 Excellent for learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin. 

What do you do with a yard full of pumpkins -- especially when you hate them?  Read to find out!

Check out these videos! LOVE using music in the classroom, especially when it fits around our theme!

And here are some fun activities for Math and Literacy time.  They can all be found in my pumpkin pack.  Click the image below to check it out! 

Read and teach this poem whole group then kids can work on it during stations! 

Students put together the puzzle pieces by finding the rhyming words! 

 Students use magnetic letters or letter tiles to build CVC words or work on beginning/middle/ending sounds. 

Students work together to unscramble the sight word sentence.  Then, they record it on their sheet and color the pumpkin to match. 

 I-Spy.  Students use magnifying glasses to find the tiny CVC pictures and record the CVC word or the beginning sound. 

Roll a Jack-O-Lantern.  Students roll the dice, and color in the matching shape on their jack-o-lantern.  There is a version with a blank pumpkin where students draw in their own shapes, or the one shown below where they trace. 
 Teen Frame Matching. 
 Rainbow Pumpkin Graphing.  Students use a pencil and paperclip to spin a colored pumpkin, then color it in on their graph until one reaches the top. There are questions to answer about the graph afterward. 

Here's a little freebie from the pumpkin pack! 

Be sure to check out the whole pack in my store by clicking below. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Motivating Reluctant Readers

It's mid September and schools around here are finally getting out of their beginning of the year craziness and settling into a routine.  You may be noticing who your high fliers are and who needs a little kick out of the nest.  When it comes to reading, it's a mixed bag.  Every year you get some kids who absolutely love reading and some kids who require bribery a little motivation. There are tons of ways to get these kids excited about reading -- book clubs, reading incentives, sticker charts, I'm sure you've tried countless ways.  Today, let's talk about the goodies. 

So many little goodies that I like to use to trick the kids into reading get kids excited about reading!  I rotate these in and out of my Read to Self station! 

Use toy cards to have kids track while they're reading. 

 Let them choose  a stuffed animal for a reading buddy.  They will practice fluency by reading to their friend! 

 I got these amazing googly eyes at Michaels.  They are great for tracking and keeping their "eyes" on each word! 

You're going to need a plethora of pointers.  As you can see, I'm quite partial to star shaped pointers.  My kids also loved using silly straws and flyswatters to point to words and pictures as they read!

Magnifying glasses are fun for reluctant readers.  You could challenge them to find certain letters or words using their magnifying glasses!

 SO FUN!  Love these little witchy fingers.  Throw in some fluency practice by telling your kiddos to read with their best witch voice!

Give them something to read into like a fake microphone or phonics phones!

Tell the kids to put on their "reading glasses" and give them some goofy cartoon glasses or giant sunglasses to wear. 

Motivate them by giving them a special place to read like a reading chair, reading rug, or... *GASP* your TEACHER CHAIR!

What kind of goodies do you use in your classroom to get those reluctant readers excited about reading time?