Sunday, October 26, 2014

Happy Birthday Amanda!

I'm joining fellow bloggers with a Birthday Bash $1.00 Sale!  Amanda from The Primary Gal is hosting a sale to celebrate her birthday & we get the goodies!  Click the link at the bottom of this post to see all the things you can get for only $1.00.

Here's what you can get from my store at the Birthday Bash Bargain price:

My Pumpkin Patch Literacy Activities will be great for your fall literacy centers.  (They aren't Halloween ~ just pumpkins, so you can use them all next month, too.)  Click HERE to purchase.

Serving Up CVC Words ~ Aligned to the CCSS

Serving Up CVC Words is a fun food themed activity set.  Click HERE to purchase.

Last up are my two Thanksgiving themed sets ~ one for math & one for literacy.  Purchase now to give yourself lots of time to get your centers ready for November!

Thanksgiving Themed Literacy Centers - aligned to the CCSS

Click HERE to purchase.

Thanksgiving Themed Math Stations aligned with the CCSS

Click HERE to purchase.

Please leave feedback ~ I love comments & you get TpT credit.  And, while you're in my store, please take a look around and check out my other products.  

Here's the link to more savings:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Indiana Bloggers Scare & Share Blog Hop

It's Blog Hop time!  I'm excited to be a part of this fun Scare & Share blog hop presented by some fellow Indiana teacher bloggers.  Hop along and find some great ideas, freebies, and a link to some fabulous dollar products!

First up ~ a freebie for you!  My Kinders have been working on composing numbers using a variety of math manipulatives.  I like to incorporate a craft into math whenever possible, so I created this fun Apple Basket Number Sense Craftivity.  

Get it for free HERE!

The freebie includes patterns for the basket & apples. The apple strip is something from a work in progress ~ but you can get it HERE.  You can always use a ten frame if you want to make a basket with more apples.

Once you download your freebie, please look around my TpT store and check out my Dollar Deals & Sale.  Please be sure to leave feedback. 

Here's what you can get for $1.00:

All About Pumpkins Science & Literacy SetClick HERE to purchase.

Halloween Skip Counting by 2s, 5s & 10s
Click HERE to purchase.

Pumpkin Patch Literacy Centers - aligned with CCSS
Click HERE to purchase.

Book Study Anchor Charts ~ aligned to the CCSS
Click HERE to purchase.

Now hop over to Kooky Kinders for more spooky fun!

Here is the link to even more savings:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Writers' Workshop

I have to admit that teaching Kinders to write has never been one of my favorite things to do.  We didn't have a dedicated writing curriculum so instruction felt as if it was scattered.  I did attend several workshops presented by Kristina Smekens, and was very familiar with the 6+1 traits of writing, but I still never felt totally comfortable with writing instruction.  (My past Kinders did learn to write with a good level of proficiency ~ check out some of my past posts on writing ~ I just felt that something was missing.)

Last year I decided that I wanted to revamp my writing instruction, so I did a little TpT research and came upon the fabulous Writing Through the Year units by DeeDee Wills & Deanna Jump.  This was just what I was looking for to take my little kiddos' writing up a notch.!  These talented ladies created an entire year's worth of Writers' Workshop lessons that take Kinders from telling stories with pictures to writing sentences.  And, as it turned out our corporation adopted a writing series that also has a workshop format.  Now that I am armed with lots of great resources I feel confident with writing instruction!  This is already proving to be an exciting year of writing in room A161!

Getting started
Before beginning our Writers' Workshop I made sure there were ample supplies.  Each student has a yellow workshop folder that is kept in a tub (each table has a color-coded tub.)  There are little wire baskets with Target pails filled with an assortment of writing supplies all around the classroom.

So many places to write!  
Each workshop session begins with a mini lesson.  After the 5 - 10 minute lesson the students are dismissed to their tables to get their folders.  They are free to choose where to sit while writing.  When we first started Writers' Workshop the students stayed at their assigned tables.  A few mini lessons on choosing appropriate places to work helped them to find comfortable places where they can be successful.  Of course, being that most of my Kinders are five we have to revisit that lesson now and then. :-)  Here are some pictures of the many places the kids can work.

Writing & Sharing
My little students have really gotten good at staying on task and writing for a good 15 minute stretch!  During that time I check in with as many students as possible, asking questions about their writing, listening to their stories, and helping them to think about what they can add or change.  I like to ask, "What are you working on today?"  This way the students can explain their stories to me.  We are still at the pictorial writing stage, so I ask them things like "What can you add to your picture to let your reader know that this is outside?"  "What color hair does your mom have?  What color crayon could you use to show blond hair?"  For those students who are ready to be pushed a little further I might ask them to try to spell their dog's name, or help them to find a word in the classroom to include in their writing.  I set the timer on my phone for 15 minutes.  They know to finish up their current thoughts and to gather on the carpet for sharing.  At first some of the kids got upset because they weren't completely finished with their piece.  But, the beauty of Writers' Workshop is that they can go back to finish their writing on another day.  (This really does happen!  At first I didn't think that Kinders could do it, but they can!)    Two students are selected to share with the class (I have a check list of students who share & jot down notes about their writing.)  Those selected to share with the class get a "Share Pass" and get to pick a special magnet for holding their work on the easel.  A special "Sharing Pointer" rounds out the special experience.  Everyone gets a turn to share with the class ~ I have 17 students, so no one has to wait very long for their turn to come up again.  Once the students have shared with the class everyone gets to share with their partner.  So, even if it's not your turn to share in front of the class, you get to share every day.

Working at their levels
Another aspect of Writers' Workshop I like is the fact that each student gets to work at his/her own level.  They get to choose what they work on ~ they usually are not working on a specific prompt.  They are working on specific skills, but the topic is up to them.  I think that being given the choice of what to work on is a great incentive.  I have kids asking me when we are having  Writers' Workshop.  If something comes up and we can't fit it into our day, the kids are actually disappointed.  Imagine ~ kids getting sad because they don't get to write!  Here are some samples of the different levels of writing in my class.  Everything is celebrated for what it is!  No one feels that their work is not as is being compared to their classmates' work, so they want to write.  I haven't had anyone say that they didn't like writing yet.  Yippie Skippie!  Now, I like writing in kindergarten, too!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Better Late Than Never Classroom Reveal

Today was day number 15 and I am just now getting around to posting pictures of my classroom!  I don't know why I've been such a slacker.  But, I figure late is better than never.  Drum roll...

Classroom library.  I left it in the same spot as it has been for a while.  New this year are comfy pillows and a cozy chair.  I covered the backs of the cabinets with purple cloth to round out the cozy feel.  The white tubs that hold picture books are now on a wire shelf.  

To the left of the library is our Magnet Center and a little desk.  It is a popular place for independent work.  I think the Kinders like the idea of a desk - it feels grown-up!  :-)

Here's a better look at the blue chair.  I was a little skeptical about bringing it to school; I thought it might cause some struggles and falls.  But, happily it works!

A work area behind the library.  I really had to scrounge to find this ~ there are not too many rectangle tables not being used.  (This is actually a computer table that one of our fabulous firsties didn't need it in her room anymore, so it found its way to my room!

The back of the library is made up in part by this wonderful cabinet.  Other teachers who have one of these use it for student mailboxes.  I thought I'd give it a try & am happy with the results.  My traditional mailbox system I'd always used was not the best for Kinders ~ it got crowded when we were packing up for the day.  Now, my kids can grab their mailboxes & load up at their tables. I have seventeen students so I still have plenty of bin for Work Work activities!  (Those pretty baskets on top are also Word Work containers.)

Our new and improved Word Work Station.  This is right across from the cabinet pictured above.  We are shifting to Daily 5 for our entire literacy block, so I needed more space for materials and the kids to work.  I got the white shelves at Aldi ~ they are actually for closets, but they make perfect space savers for this area.  I found the colorful little crates at Walmart for a dollar.  

This is the view to the right as you enter my room.  The table backed up to the library is another great work space.  The shelves in my library are still those unfortunate ones formerly held together with duct tape.  Last year my husband steadied them with a sturdy backboard.  But, they were still pretty ugly, so I covered them with some bright floral fabric.  The tubs in the cabinet hold math manipulatives.  The blue and yellow baskets are overflow Word Work containers.  Two computers and a listening station are on the right.  My table & the focus wall are in the background.

The table I use when working with small groups.  The inserts show a little more detail of what is on either side of this area.  I added a couple more crates & a pink lamp this year.

The focus wall.  This year I put the shelves that were under the white board last year in front of the focus wall and covered it with a plastic table cloth.  The little brown table and chairs are a popular Read to Self area.  

Here's a shot of the back of the room.  I have four student table groups.  As you might have noticed, I went a little bucket crazy at Target this summer!  I got all of those wire baskets at the Free Teacher Store last spring.  They hold four little buckets full of shared materials.  The little white boxes  (actually Q-Tip containers without lids from the Free Teacher Store) hold each student's crayons.  I decided to keep their crayons separate because the crayon-breakers tended to break all of the crayons.  This way the crayon breakers have their own set of crayon pieces & everyone else has nice crayons.

More student tables and my desk.  (Confession ~ I didn't even take pictures before the kids came.  I really was a slacker!)  The table in front of my desk used to hold personal CD players, but now it is another work area.  I put the three remaining players into tubs in the library.

Hey ~ there's another work area!  I really wanted to create a space that was really usable for my students.  Like all the other areas this one has a wire basket with buckets of tools.  It backs up to a wire shelf that holds our Math Baskets & Math Tubs.

We are going to implement Math Daily 3 this year ~ Math on My Own, Math with a Partner, and Math Writing.  The baskets hold Math on My Own activities, and the tubs are for partner work.

More math baskets & a tub on some hand-me-down furniture.  Not too pretty, but it works.  The colorful drawers are a bargain find at Aldi & will hold our Math Writing activities.

I combined our Dramatic Play & Manipulative Centers.  I wasn't sure if it would work (I was kind of afraid of a big mess...), but so far, so good!  I have since added another wire basket with buckets to this area to create yet another work area.  The tools sit on the counter until needed.

Our Writing Station.  We haven't started using everything in this area yet.  The pink tubs on the right hold the kids' Writing Workshop folders.  The kiddos love to sit around the table during our after lunch quiet time to color.

I turned the puppet show around so I could store Writing Station tools on the shelves.  Our famous blue mushroom tubs are neatly stored on the bottom shelf ~ ready & waiting to hold little things!  The shelf on the left holds our Morning Work & Notes baskets.

Last, but not least, the little white table someone gave my daughter when she was moving into her college apartment several years ago.  She didn't want it, but knew I would.  My husband shortened the legs to Kinder size.  I think I should give it a fresh coat of paint.  Next year...

Well, that's my classroom in a nutshell.  I hope you enjoyed looking around.  I'd love to hear what you think.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back to School BBQ

It's hard to believe that summer is coming to an end.  I had a fun, busy summer, and am sort of, kind of, a little... ready to start thinking about school.  It's always hard to give up lazy days spent relaxing on my front porch, and getting to spend lots of time with my darling granddaughters.  But, the calendar tells me that it's time to get back into school mode ~ ready or not!

But, here's a fun Blog Hop that will make the transition a little easier. 

In this blog hop you will find resources and recipes!  I can't wait to see what everyone has to offer.  It is just like a big picnic.

My first offering is a link to my newest product ~ Serving Up CVC Words.  Kinders & Firsties can always use lots of practice with CVC words, so in the spirit of this hop I created a fun food themed set of activities.  There are four different activities, each with differentiated worksheets for additional practice.  Want to try it for FREE?  Click HERE for a sample.


And, now for the food!  We try to eat yummy, healthy foods (we eat lots of fruit, veggies & salad), and I like to find new items to add to our list of yumminess.  I found this recipe for Quinoa & Rice Bites on Pinterest & we LOVE it!  I've actually made it twice in the past ten days.  (See pin HERE.)  The first time I made them I used a regular size muffin pan.  When I made them this week I used a mini muffin pan.  I liked them better small because they were crispier.  These would make a great alternative to tator tots.  Quinoa is has lots of protein & is very filling.  Little tots lovers would have fun dunking them into ketchup or their favorite dip.  I think leftovers would be good in my lunchbox with hummus.  YUM!

My delicious dinner ~ Free Range chicken (raised by next door neighbor 4-H member), roasted eggplant, zucchini, and candy onions from the farmers' market, blueberries picked at a local farm, and
Quinoa & Rice Bites.  I was soooo excited to eat this meal!  (Yes, it was delicious!)

Fresh veggies from the Farmers' Market & fresh basil from my herb garden.


  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup black rice (I used a mix of rice)
  • Cooking spray, for the muffin pan
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup finely chopped Vidalia onions
  • 1 cup dairy-free shredded mozzarella cheese (I used real cheese)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped finely
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 chives, chopped finely, for garnish
  • 2 cups homemade tomato sauce, for serving* (We ate ours without sauce)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Cook the quinoa and rice according to package directions. Coat a muffin pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine the cooked quinoa and rice with the remaining ingredients, except the chives and pasta sauce, and mix well to combine. Transfer the quinoa and rice mixture to the muffin pan. Using a tablespoon, fill each muffin cup to the top, then using a spatula, press down on the mixture to create a flat surface.
Bake until golden brown, for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Using a teaspoon, gently remove the rice and quinoa snacks from the muffin cups. Transfer to a serving platter, garnish with the chives, and serve with the tomato sauce on the side.
Now, hop over to Kelly and Kim's Kindergarten Kreations to see what's cooking!