April 29, 2014

Butterfly Life Cycle

 Butterfly Life Cycle

Click here to get the bundle!

I love ending the school year teaching about butterflies. It's such a fun way to get children involved and exciting about learning! This year, we started by planting. One of the plants we grew was a milkweed plant. Our class discussed that butterflies often lay their eggs on the leaves of milkweed plants. We will be planting them outside as we prepare to learn about monarch butterflies in hopes that we can actually grow our ow monarch butterflies next year, as opposed to painted lady ones I order online. Another advantage of getting your butterflies from your own plant is that you can get the actual egg. Most online stores send you caterpillars, thus not allowing students to see the pull process.

To supplement this investigation, I made a butterfly life cycle bundle to share will all of you! It's straight forward and provides you with everything you need to begin your own butterfly investigation in your classroom, except the butterflies of course!

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Shape Up!

 Shape People Freebie!

My class has been reviewing two- and three-dimensional shapes. I like to give my students different projects and crafts to make math more fun.  My class made 'Shape People' who are now covering the entire kindergarten hallway in my school!

Here is my example of the circle person...

Click to download

Other shapes in this packet include:

To make this project easier for my students I cut out long strips of paper using a paper cutter. I also copied the shape templates on manilla file folders. This project took my students about 2 days to complete during math centers. They loved being able to dress their shape up and use fun colors! I hope your class enjoys this as much as mine did!

April 18, 2014

Wonderful Websites for All!

Fun (and educational) Websites for Kindergarten-1st Grade Students

Shhhh... don't tell the kids, but these websites are fantastic for reinforcing phonics and whole language skills you're teaching in class. In New Jersey, we are preparing our students for the PARCC tests, a computer-base standardized test where students must copy, paste, and type to successfully complete this test. Because it is so important that students have adequate typing and other computer skills, we are trying to find websites that will help prepare students for this test. I was a big fan of popular websites like abcmouse, starfall, and abcya, but I felt that it was beginning to get just a little redundant. A coworker found some really amazing websites that your students will love!

They always say that the best teachers are thieves so if you've come across any education websites to use in the classroom, please share them in the comments section! Thanks all! 

Little Bird Tales

Click picture to visit littlebirdtales
Little Bird Tales was created to help nurture children's creativity and imagination while simultaneously creating one of-a-kind digital stories that can easily be shared. This site strives to foster a love for reading, writing, self-expression and creative technology and to make the process easy and fun for students and teachers.
This is a safe web environment for children, free of advertising, merchandising and links to other sites and we are proud to support the environment by providing parents and teachers with "green" alternatives to how they collaborate, share and distribute stories and lessons.


Click on the picture to visit OWLIE BOO!

OWLIE BOO is a creative and fun website that helps teach students computer skills through simple games. This site has several levels to allow for growth. Once kids have mastered the first two series, kids can achieve some simple, fun goals. Skills inclide: moving a mouse, clicking, dragging, and much more! 

The Fungooms

Click on the picture to visit Fungooms!

I don't like to play favorites, but oh well, this game is definitely a class favorite! I even use it as a reward system for the class. Fungoooms games offer simple mini games or digital toys. which focus on a specific theme or task. Some games even have an ego theme like clearing a polluted pond to make it habitable or powering a row of houses by spinning the windmills! There are mini games for learning numbers, letters, shapes, colors, creative games where the children can make their own farmyard scene or make a big painty mess! 

They also offer android and apple apps! 

Teach your Monster to Read

Click the picture to visit Teach your Monster to Read! 

Teach your Monster to Read is a series of free games to practice the first stages of reading.

Combining top quality games with essential learning, the game is built on the principles of synthetic phonics and follows the teaching sequence of the Letters and Sounds program.

Students do need a username and password. I suggest keeping usernames simple (students' first names) and glueing them on index cards. 

April 12, 2014

The Ultimate Decoding Strategy Guide

Guided Reading

The focus on literacy has increased greatly in Kindergarten over the years. Guided reading is an integral part of my literacy block. I use reading strategy posters to teach different reading and decoding strategies. The strategies are associated to a familiar animals which helps students remember each strategy, plus it's more fun! They are just brilliant! 

Use guided reading strategy posters to give students picture clues and reminder to use their strategies! I also made guided reading strategy bookmarks that can be sent home, and guided reading strategy name plates! Anywhere they go, they can reference their strategies. 

Whether you work with just one guided reading group in one day, or if you have several groups that cycle through your classroom each day, this helpful packet will give you countless lessons and supplements to make guided reading a breeze! 

Here are some other guided reading tips I use in my classroom:

Managing Reading Groups
To manage my guided reading groups, I level my students using DRA (Developments Reading Assessment). Try not to have guided reading groups with more than 5 students, but I try to keep my groups around 4 students, especially my groups who need more scaffolding. I use a binder to section off each guided reading group and place running record sheets in each section for each student.

Selecting 'Just Right' Texts
I recommend picking your texts about a week ahead of time. This gives you time to be more reflective about the strategies and levels you choose. Pick several books at each groups' instructional level and place rubber bands around the group of texts. 

Managing Time In Guided Reading Groups
Managing your time during guided reading is essential to teaching an effective lesson. I always begin my guided reading lessons with picture walks. Remember, kindergarten-ages children think in pictures, so it is important to pay close attention to the pictures and give students the opportunity to discuss these pictures with their peers. Find a timer that gives you a warning before the guided reading session ends, in order to closure you lesson appropriately. 
My guided reading groups last about 20 minutes each. I break my lessons into small segments.
2-3 minutes: Mini-lesson. Set a purpose for reading.
2-3 minutes: Picture walk
4-5 minutes: Students read using phonics phones, choral reading etc.
4-5 minutes: Partner reading. Students take turns reading a page of the tezt. Partners follow along with their finger while their peer reads a text and vice versa. 
5 minutes: Closure and respond to reading. You can do this through reading, exit slips, think-pair-share, etc. 


April 10, 2014

Guided Reading Strategies FREEBIE

Guided Reading Strategies 

I'm in the process of making a guided reading bundle. I hoped to get it out this week, but fate didn't seem to want that to happen quite yet. This week has seemed to be one project after another. I did want to post my weekly freebie, which is a page form my guided reading bundle, for all of my followers. Hopefully I can post the entire bundle by this weekend.... we'll see. The warm weather has made me slightly less motivated.

In my school, we use these cartoons for reading strategies. Some people call these 'beanie baby strategies". I like to focus on one for an entire week at my guided reading table.

S-t-r-e-t-c-h the Snake - Stretch the word then bring it back together.
Skippy Frog - Skip a word then go back to it.
Flippy Dolphin - Flip the vowel sound.
Chunky Monkey - Look for familiar parts of a word.
Lips the Fish - Get your lips ready to say the word.
Tryin' Lion - Try to reread the sentence.
Helpful Kangaroo - When all else fails, ask the teacher!
Eagle Eyes - Look at the picture for clues.

You can use these for desk name tags, bag of books labels, guided reading folders, etc.


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