June 5, 2017

End-of-the-Year Student Favors: Writing with a Purpose

The end-of-the-year ALWAYS sneaks up on me. Every year. I love doing little favors for the students as a small token of my appreciation for a great year. Usually with 2 classes I try to stay within budget. The past few years I've given small plastic beach pails, however I feel apprehensive about simply purchasing a gift for the sake of giving a gift. This year I wanted to find something more meaningful for my students. That's when I decided to do a fun pen pal activity. This way students are able to practice writing over the summer and get mail. Remember how exciting it was receiving mail as a kid, also known as a time before bills? Now it's important that you commit to actually writing back to your students. Other than that, this is a fairly inexpensive end-of-the-year favor. To make it more exciting for the students I am attaching fun pencils for them to use while writing their letters. I used these Branch & Twig pencils.

You can download the poem HERE:

March 14, 2017

Kindergarten Unicorn Math Centers: Guided Math Fun!

As most of you probably already know, my class loves unicorns! I wanted to share a fun math activity I use to teach about decomposing numbers using addition. 

Let me begin by explaining that I teach this in SMALL GROUP during my guided math time. After I teach it in small group I put this in my math choice area. My students LOVE doing this activity! 

Download HERE

Here what you'll need:

1. Make a rainbow abacus: 6 pony beads (in rainbow order) on a coffee straw. 

2. Print recording sheet. 

To Play:

1. Students push all the beads to one side leaving the purple bead closest to their thumb and the pink bead in the middle. Count all the beads. Discuss that you have 6 beads and you will be finding ways to make the number 6 using addition. 

2. Move the pink bead over to the other side. Count how many beads are on each side. Color the matching addition sentence the same color as the bead you move. For example, you moves the pink bead first, so you color the top rainbow that says '1 + 5 = 6' pink. 

3. Continue with each color until students have completed the rainbow. 

This activity is part of my Unicorn Math Packet. You can get it

February 27, 2017

Easy Breezy Reusable Math Centers: Guided Math Made FUN!

"I will not go to Lakeshore today... I will not...". This is the typical internal monologue I have with myself driving past the Lakeshore Learning store after work each day as I try to resist the temptation of purchasing yet another learning game or other materials. Few people truly understand the financial and personal sacrifices teachers make every day to ensure that their students have the materials they need to succeed. Even fewer understand the toll this can take on a educator. Because of this, I wanted to share some fun little activities I've made in my classroom from materials you can find in your classroom... for FREE!

I presented these games at the Atlantic City Kindergarten Convention (SDE) today and couldn't wait to share it with all of you! Enjoy!

This is one of my favorite math activities because it can be used for almost every standard. Simply glue 5 different shapes inside of a use cupcake tin, number the shapes, and throw in a pom pom. Students shake the tin and graph the shape or number the pom pom lands on. Students can also build a cube tower to represent the number they landed on. Possibilities are endless! (recording sheet pictured is in my Math Centers BUNDLE). 

You can purchase cupcake tins on Amazon, or reuse one from a classroom birthday!

Fact fluency is a big part of my math program. Thats why I like to ALWAYS have hands-on activities for my students to practice this skill. In this activity, I use coffee stirrers (try Wawa or any coffee shop), tape, and Pony beads. Simply make different sets of beads and place them in a bucket with recording sheets. Students move the beads across the straw to decompose numbers (Recording sheet pictured is in my Math Centers Bundle). 

Purchase straws HERE.
Purchase beads HERE.

This activity teachers numbers 1-100 and can also help familiarize students with a 100's chart. Simply decorate paper plates and have students spin the spinner twice to make numbers to 100. Students trace they number as the spin it (Recording sheet pictured is in my Math Centers Bundle)

February 6, 2017

Unicorn CVC Word Work!

Last week my class was completing opinion writing and writing about their favorite animals. Almost my entire class wrote about unicorns. I almost didn't have he heart to tell them that unicorns actually don't exist. Unicorn believer or not, I knew I hate to incorporate some fun unicorn activities to my word work. Since many of my students are working on blending CVC words, I made activities that reinforce that skill.

Students spin the spinner and try to create real CVC words by matching it with a beginning sound!

Students try to find the correct spelling for the word on the card. This activity focuses on differentiating between vowel sounds. 

Students differentiate between real and nonsense words!

Students build CVC words using any letter manipulative. 

January 31, 2017

Domino Run! Sight Word Game

Your students will LOVE practicing sight words with this fun game! Simply put alphabet stickers on blank dominos and print off the checklists! This includes 2 sight word lists depending on ability.

Students spell sight words by building domino tracks. Students check off sight words as they spell each word. Once they spell all of their words the push a domino down and watch them fall!

January 29, 2017

Manipulative Based Word Work in Kindergarten

Word Work is one of the most popular Daily 5 Choices my students visit each day. I often buy learning materials from Lakeshore and other retailers to use in Word Work. Although the activities are both fun and educational, I wanted to make sure this work was meaningful by holding students accountable for their learning.

This dilemma brings me to my next Word Work Bundle.... I decided to make recording sheets and other activities to go along with some of the games I've purchased over the years. These activities hold students accountable for their learning while in Word Work, while also providing me with quick and simple assessment opportunities. 

Puppy Spelling

Students snap together the puppies and spell the words then draw a picture representing the word. 

Stacking Sentences
Manipulative Pictured: Word Building Stackers

I love this activity because the shapes on the puzzles help lead students to the correct vowel sound. Students then draw 3 pictures, spell the words, and use the words in a sentence. Attach recording sheet to a clipboard and you have an easy activity your students can use over and over. 

Twist & Spell

This is a favorite of mine because it's so simple. Students try to create words they can read by twisting the letters around. They write the word and draw a picture to match. 

Building Words

Manipulative Pictured: Build-A-Word Houses

This is always a fun choice because it involves building and spelling. I also love that it self corrects on the back. Students draw the picture on the roof and spell the word in the house. 

Building Words

Manipulative Used: Learning Resources ABC Cookies

Students use bookies to spell CVC words on cookie sheets (color printables) and record results on the recording sheet. 

November 25, 2016

Kindergarten Guided Reading

I get a lot of questions about guided reading in my classroom. I wanted to provide a simple step-by-step outline of what I do and the materials I use in my classroom every day in hopes that this helps  to answer some of those questions. 

Here goes... 

Grouping and Timing

I begin small group instruction after my whole group lesson. I usually make 4 reading groups for 20 minutes each, but because I'm teaching as an inclusion team this year we have 5 groups. These groups are homogeneously grouped according to DRA results.  I list the groups using chalkboard markers because they are easy to change as the needs of my students change.  You may notice small dots next to names. These are pom poms I glue to magnets to represent the weekly team captains. They are responsible for keeping independent groups on-task. 

Guided Reading Groups

Leveled readers are essential in guided reading. Make sure to use students' instructional levels. Personally, I have trouble finding guided reading books. I borrow a lot of books from 1st grade teachers and I find others online. I made a few emergent readers that you can find HERE.

I focus on either a reading strategy or a phonics skill for each lesson. When teaching decoding strategies I use Beanie Baby Strategies that can be found HERE

When teaching fluency I use simple fluency passages. I made some that you can download HERE. They review letters, letter sounds. sight words, and CVC words for easy differentiation.  I practice these skills prior to reading a guided reading book. This way we practice the skill then students have the chance to apply this skill to their reading. 

Independent Work

This can sometimes be the most difficult in kindergarten mainly because kindergarteners aren't known for being too self-regulated. This is why it is so important to introduce these skills on the very first week of school. Set clear expectations about noise level and always provide a puzzle or other activity if they finish early. Here are a few ideas for activities. If you have an aide, he/she can always take an activity here or rotate between both groups to ensure they are on task. I also have team captains each week who give out stickers if students completed their work well. This allows students to assess their ow work and learn to self regulate. 

I use a Common Core Interactive Notebook for independent work every day. Here is a sample of a project from the bundle. 

With my aide I also try to make a game or craftivity that reflects our learning from the day or week. Here is an example of a word family project we did in November...

Classroom Management 

...without it, you cannot effectively teach guided reading so be sure to keep routines similar and let students know what is expected of them. Here is my life saver for managing groups... a timer with a warning signal. This not only gives students in independent work an idea of when to wrap it up, but it manages me as well. Here is the best-ever timer for guided reading. Seriously, buy it today. You'll thank me later...

I hope this post was helpful in providing new ideas and structure to your guided reading groups in your classrooms. Good luck & happy reading!

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