Sunday, January 19, 2014

Penguins, Penguins, and More Penguins!

We just finished our second week of learning all about penguins. We are focusing on penguins to meet a lot of our reading standards; however, we are learning about animals in general during science (how animals move, real/pretend, living/nonliving). 
This week I took tons of center pictures! Whenever I have the camera out my students automatically try their best because they want their picture taken! haha They don't even have any idea where the pictures go! 
One of our centers was a 'label it' center. I was watching to see which students remembered that chicks had 'down'. 
We need lots and lots of practice with addition and subtraction! This week we did some 'Sneaky Seal Addition'. 
I left unifix cubes at the center for students to use and they definitely helped!!
As always, we are working on sight words. Students had to 'feed the fish' by spelling the sight words on the penguins. 
We also need a lot of work still with rhyming (independently). Some of my kids are having a hard time with this. Rhyming will definitely be a center we continue!
This week we also worked on ABC order. 
My focus for this center was actually handwriting. I am really trying to get them to write their letters all the way from the top to the bottom. These two were very proud of their work!
My students worked together to complete their CVC words, listening for the medial vowel sound. They did an awesome job! We went over the words beforehand so they would know what all of the pictures were.
During writing I gave each student their own 'All About Penguins' book. They feel so special having their own book and they can't wait to take it home to share with their parents!
Their books have five pages inside and a table of contents. They are allowed to work on any page they want as long as they take their time!
This little one wrote what penguins eat. He used our KWL to help him spell his words.
Another student chose to write all about penguin chicks! I loved his bottom illustration which is hard to see in the picture. He drew a mom penguin swimming to get her baby chick food. So cute! :)
All of these activities can be found in either my Penguin Unit on TPT or in my January Word Work pack.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Jo-Ann Teacher Creativity Blog Hop

I love, love, love Jo-Ann Fabrics and Craft Store! I actually hadn't been in the store since August when I was setting up my room so when I went in last week, I was like a kid in a candy store! There was SO many things that I just had to have!
The first thing I did was grab a pack of washi tape! I have heard SO much about washi tape, but I've never used it! My pack came with three rolls and I loved all of the colors!
I was sitting at my desk on Monday and it came to me...cover my filing cabinet with the washi tape!! Washi tape is so great to work with and it peals off so easily.  
I covered this 2-drawer filing cabinet in a little over an hour! My kids loved it so much that one of the girls said to me, "It's like we just started school!" I said to her, "What do you mean?" and she said, "It's like we just got a new classroom with this beautiful cabinet!" <3
My second project was to organize my pens, sharpies, and other supplies. At Jo-Ann fabric I bought sticker labels, a six pack of blue mason jars, and ribbon. 
I hot glued the ribbon onto the jars and added the sticker labels to the front. The sticker labels are actually chalk labels, but my handwriting just didn't look good with the chalk so I ended up using a white paint pen. The jars came out beautifully!! I LOVE them! Another teacher from my school is already headed out to buy the same ones! :)
My third project was to decorate an awkward wall that I have in my room. It is a short wall and I just never knew what to put there! While I was walking around Jo-Ann fabric I saw AMAZING magnetic cork boards! I ended up buying 4 of them and hung them next to each other on the wall. I also bought some scrapbook paper, letter stickers, and tiny glitter clothes pins to make a title for our new board!
First, I cut the striped scrapbook paper into triangles. Then, I cut the blue scrapbook paper into slightly smaller triangles and glued them on top of the striped ones.
Using the tiny clothes pins, I hung the triangles onto a piece of string and spelled out 'Love Notes' with the letter stickers.
Look how cute!!! And I didn't even hang these cork boards with nails/ no worries, there are no holes in the wall! I hung them with double sided foam sticky tape!
My kids had a blast this week with out new board. Every morning I was receiving new pictures and 'love notes' to hang! 
This weekend you can receive 25% off your total purchase at Jo-Ann fabric and let me tell you....the store employees are so awesome with using coupons! While I was standing in line, I went on Jo-Ann website and found a 50% off one item coupon. So when I checked out I ended up using the 50% off one item coupon AND my teacher discount!! They will let you use as many coupons as you want! Click on the image below for your coupon :) 
Then, sign up for your teacher discount HERE or by clicking on the image below.
Make sure to visit some of my other bloggy friends to see what they made using materials from Jo-Ann fabric in the #teachcreativity blog hop! 
The ladies at Busy Bees
Lidia at Kinder Alphabet
The following review is part of a Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores® campaign. I received compensation for this review; however, this is my personal, honest option based on my experience.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Sight Words in Kindergarten [and a giveaway!]

How do you teach sight words? What sight words do you use?
I use the sight words from our reading series, Journeys. 
(You can find that list on Ms. Kerri's blog for free HERE)
I introduce the words on Mondays and we add them to an ongoing  list we have on our white board. These words we read daily during our calendar time. We also add the words to our word wall. But, this year, I found an amazing way for children to practice reading AND spelling their sight words. All year, I have been using Maria's Interactive Sight Word Books. Her bundle of books has included all of the Journeys sight words thus far.
When I first introduced these books in August, I had children complete them with me during reading groups. However, they quickly became pros at completing them on their own and now they are in their word work center each week.
First, my students color in the featured sight word on the cover. This really helps them pay attention to the spelling of the sight words. 
Then, the inside of the book contains predictable sentences using the featured sight word, which in this book is 'my'. Students have to cut out the letters provided in the pack, unscramble them, and paste the letters into the boxes on each page. 
When my students are finished making their book they read it over a couple of times. Then, they add it to their book bin.  Each student has their own book bin and they are FULL of Maria's sight word books.
All of my children feel so successful during daily 5. They absolutely love pulling out their book bins and sitting down to practice reading! I will even catch them reading their books to a stuffed animal, which I love to see!!  

Before Winter break I emptied all of the students' book bins, put their books in a zip-lock bag, attached a letter informing parents to continue practicing their sight words at home, and allowed the students to take their books homes. A couple hours after school was over, I received a few emails from parents who also fell in LOVE with these books! I am telling you...they are great! Not only do students feel successful, but they are reading AND spelling their sight words! Ah!!

Well, guess what?? I messaged Maria the other day to thank her for these AMAZING books and she was kind enough to donate one of her bundles for a giveaway!! You have the chance to receive Maria's Bundle of Books (part 1) for FREE!! That is a $50 value! (I am jealous!) All you need to do is enter below and I will choose a winner on Friday! Good luck!
Maria also just released a brand new pack last night, which you have to buy NOW!!! The new bundle is priced at $16 for 32 books--that is only 50 cents a book. And here is the thing--Maria will continuously add to this bundle. As she adds to the bundle, the price increases. BUT if you already purchased the bundle, you can download it again for FREE!!! So basically you will be saving TONS of money by purchasing it now! can probably tell how excited I am by reading this haha! I love these books!!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Starting our new unit: Penguins

The start of a new unit is always so exciting! The children are so eager to learn! I think they are also super excited to see all the new books I take out for the unit and the new centers too! ;)
We always start our units with a KWL. I spend the first day discussing previous knowledge. I write EVERYTHING the children say in the 'K' column, even if I know the information is incorrect. We constantly review these facts and we will 'check' them if we find them to be correct or cross them out if they are incorrect.  I also write down everything the children are wondering. I love listening to their questions!
The first day we also do a 'status check'. This is when I ask them where they are on our learning scale. You can see a piece of our learning scale in the top corner of the picture below. For this unit, I had 4 children think they were a '1' on the scale and 16 children feel as if they were a '2'.  You can find my learning scale HERE.  I keep track of where they are because we revisit the scale at the end of our unit.
 The first day of our penguin unit I also had the children write down something they knew about penguins and something they were wondering. This was done during our writing block.  Keep in mind, at this point I haven't read them any books on penguins yet. They actually did great with this and I think I will incorporate this into every unit now. 
The second day of our penguin unit we read our first informational text on penguins. I read very few pages each day. I actually only read 3 pages, but the children retain so much more information when I read in smaller chunks. 
After I read a few pages I clapped my hands twice and said 'teach'. The children then clapped their hands twice and said 'okay'.  They turned to their carpet buddies and discussed the new information they learned. My children are experts now at questioning each other. I can hear them asking, 'What did you learn? Are you confused about anything? Are you wondering anything new?'
When they are done talking, I call on different buddies to share what they discussed. I add this information onto our KWL. If we read information that confirms anything we have already written in our 'K' column, then we 'check' it off.
The rest of the week we continue the same procedure. My children have already learned so much about penguins--and they have constantly been comparing penguins to bats (one of our previous units). I may need to make a venn diagram for this! ;)
During our centers we have been working on reading sight words and following directions:
We just wrapped up our addition chapter in math, but we still need a lot of practice! The children loved this spin and add game:
 I know throughout our unit the children will be drawing a lot of penguins. So before we start our non-fiction 'All About Penguins' book, I wanted to make sure they all knew how to draw one! We used one of Mrs. Miner's Guided Drawing activities to teach us! On their activity sheet I had them draw a penguin, make a setting for the penguin, and copy the sentence.
 All of the penguins came our adorable and each and every one of my students felt successful! Love that!
 They were supposed to copy the sentence 'She is a penguin.' But it doesn't look like we could get that sentence right! haha 'See is a penguin.' is the same thing, right?!  ;)  
Some of the boys refused to write 'She is a penguin.' So they wrote, 'He is a penguin.' instead haha.
 And this cutie must have missed the sentence that was at the bottom of Mrs. Miner's guided drawing sheet. She wrote her own sentence, but did great!
Can't wait to continue penguins next week! I am loving it!
All of these activities, including the whole group KWL and other whole group activities, are included in my Penguin Unit.
You can find my framework for this 4 week unit HERE or by clicking on the image below :)
Units used in this framework:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Snowman Craft

I am exhausted! Anyone else? I flew back home from vacation Tuesday night and getting up Wednesday for work felt like torture! I am hoping that I adjust back to this time zone soon!
I know the first week back after a long break can be tiring, so I have the perfect Friday activity for you ;)
A snowman craft!
I gave my students the materials to make a snowman; however, I didn't give them any directions or show them an example. This way, all of our snowmen would turn out different and unique!
 They were very busy cutting out all of their pieces and glueing their snowman together!
 While they worked we listened to Kidz Bop on Pandora--so fun!
 Look how cute they turned out!!
 Some snowmen are short and fat while others are tall and skinny. Then we have some mittens resting on their belly and others sticking out! We even have some snowmen sitting down, some standing, and some with their shoes on the wrong feed! <3
 Too cute!!
I know many of you can't just complete a craft in class anymore, so I've included writing paper to create a story and other activities to go along with your snowman!
Have fun!! (It's almost the weekend!)