Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Reading Buddies

Today was our first time meeting with our third grade reading buddies. The Kinders were sooo excited! Our three third grade classes have been pairing up with one of our three kindergarten classes for the past few years to share books and fun. In addition to reading, we get together with our buddies to do crafts, share snacks, and enjoy each other's company.

It is a great way for the third graders to practice their fluency while they are serving as role models for the little ones. There is always a number of my former Kinders amongst our buddies. I love to see how much they have grown ~ it's especially exciting to hear some of my former struggling readers reading to my current students. And, as the year progresses it is so wonderful to see the excitement of my little kiddos as they read to their third grade buddies!

The Reading Buddies idea has caught on school-wide: first & fourth pair up, as do second & fifth. The kids love it! Here are a few pictures of our first Buddy Day.

Reading Buddy Time gives all levels of readers an opportunity to practice their reading & listening skills. I love to see the happy interactions between the big & little kids.

  A sweet big brother ~ little sister duo. 

Another sibling match-up. I had big brother and find myself calling my current little guy his brother's name. If they weren't different ages you would swear they were twins!

A couple more pictures of some cuties reading.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Classroom Reveal 2015

School started last Wednesday, so I'm a little bit late with my classroom reveal. But, I was So. Tired. last week. (You know ~ there is no tired like the first day of school tired!)

I made a few changes in my room, and am pretty happy with the results.

Meet the Teacher Night was last Monday. I had a great turnout ~ everyone showed up!

Pictures of my little cuties will hang from the little birds on our hallway bulletin board.

I have all round tables this year! Fifth grade took our clunky trapezoid tables. The rounds make my room seem bigger. (I did hang on to two trapezoids for centers.)

My Writing Station with bins lined up at the ready to collect supplies on Meet the Teacher Night.

Our desktop computers are gone ~ we are getting laptops. I kept the computer tables to create a bigger Word Work Station. The bottom picture looks across to my half circle table.

Looking across one of the trapezoids in the Math Station to our Focus Wall. We put card stock on our supply list. That table was COVERED with it Monday night! 

New additions: Check In Board & flower lanterns.

Also new is my fun Leader banner. It's hung from ribbon with tiny clothespins I found at Michaels. The leader changes daily ~ this person gets to do all of the classroom jobs for the day.

Trapezoid #2 is one of our Listening Stations. I am so excited to add two new iPod Touches to our Listening Library thanks to Donors Choose!

I stood in our Library to take this picture.

Looking at the Library from my half circle table. I love the roominess of the seating area with the round tables! There is even plenty of space on the floor in front of the white board for Go Noodle!

I need to remind myself how nice & neat my desk once was as the year goes by!

I made the read banner for the library with some of the same paper from the hallway banner (Leader banner, too).

So far no problems with the blue chair!

I love how bright & cheery my classroom turned out this year!

My little white table got a facelift from a can of teal spraypaint. 

I set out to find a table for $5.00 this summer & I did! I had originally thought that it would be a coffee table, but I lucked out when I stopped by a retired teacher's garage sale. I couldn't believe it when I spotted the tag on this table ~ $5.00! The pink pillow cost more than that at Dollar General!

There is plenty of space at the Magnet Center now that we have round desks. Clipboards under the little desk in the right pictures let the kids work in various places around the room. A friend gave me the alphabet rug for my Cubby Area. I had an old (I mean old) rug there before. It was in pretty bad shape, so I was very happy to get this new one for the space. The kids play with blocks in here, so a rug is a necessity. The colorful bins are their Book Bins for Read to Self. We will begin using them this week!  

Thanks for visiting. I hope you have a great school year!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back to School Sale

It's that time again ~ Back to School Sale Time! This summer has literally flown by.  Given the fact that Indiana experienced monsoon season during the month of June, my summer vacation really seemed shorter than usual.  

First up is my best selling Hibernation unit.  I had fun making this ~ and will have fun using it again this January when we talk about hibernating animals.  

Hibernation - mini unit expanded!

Click HERE to purchase.

Next up is my summer project ~ my (almost complete) Morning Work Bundle. It is only missing April & May/June ~ I promise that you will get those months! I will upload the remaining two months' sets as I finish them. I'm pretty excited about this new set because it progresses with the kids. I've made the monthly formats similar so the kids can work independently.  (Sunday, 8/2/15, ONLY this will be on sale for $12.00 until 9:00PM CDT)

Morning Work Bundle
Click HERE to purchase.

Happy shopping!  I hope you have a great school year.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Let's Play!

If you are a follower of my on Facebook, you might have read some of the articles I've shared about the importance of play in kindergarten.  It's a real shame that our littlest learners are being cheated out of valuable play time because someone decided that kindergarten needs to be rigorous.  We are hurting our students by not allowing them to play.  A recent trip to the wonderful Chicago Children's Museum helped to illustrate that fact that little kids NEED TO PLAY!  

The first stop on our visit was the room with the boats.  The girls loved it!  We spent about an hour in there while they captained a two level tug boat, and cooked a bunch of yummy Lake Michigan fish in the quarters below deck.  Isabella & Olivia sold bait at while Amelia waited for her speed boat to be refueled.  A real sailboat, fishing poles, nets, and life jackets added to the make believe fun.  My darling granddaughters were not only having fun, they were working hard!  The article cited below supports the importance of allowing Kinders to have free play everyday.

"Young children work hard at play. They invent scenes and stories, solve problems, and negotiate their way through social roadblocks. They know what they want to do and work diligently to do it. Because their motivation comes from within, they learn the powerful lesson of pursuing their own ideas to a successful conclusion. Research shows that children who engage in complex forms of socio-dramatic play have greater language skills than nonplayers, better social skills, more empathy, more imagination, and more of the subtle capacity to know what others mean. They are less aggressive and show more self-control and higher levels of thinking." Source

The sign posted on the wall of the water room offers a great explanation of why water play is so good for kids.  My own daughters loved to play with water, and so do their daughters!  This was little Amelia's favorite part of the museum ~ she was wet from head to toe.  But, hey, it was just water! It might not be possible to have water play in the classroom, but there are other sensory activities that can be included into the classroom.  

"We know that young children are oriented toward sensory experiences. From birth, children have learned about the world by touching, tasting, smelling, seeing, and hearing. Sensory play also contributes in crucial ways to brain development. Think of it as “food for the brain.” Stimulating the senses sends signals to children’s brains that help to strengthen neural pathways important for all types of learning." Source

Movement!  The museum offered so many opportunities for the kids to move around, jump, climb, slide, etc.  The girls were so tired at the end of the day!  Isabella & Olivia loved the fire pole in the fire station.  Amelia was too little to do it, but she love the slides. The sign says it all ~ kids need to move.

"Learning is a function of the whole nervous system.Children have difficulty learning if all of the sensory systems are not helping them to process what is on the page and in their environment. The more fine-tuned the sensory and motor systems – the more one can learn and the easier it is to learn." Source

"Kids simply need a supportive environment to tinker with an idea long enough to make it work, Stager said. They don’t need to be burdened by explaining which stage of the inquiry process they’re demonstrating. “We need to ask ourselves is there less we can do and more the kids can do?” Sager said." Source

When I asked five year old Isabella what she liked best at the museum she said the room where you can make stuff.  She really liked using the power drill!  Olivia (2 1/2) enjoyed using the hammer more, and Amelia (almost 2) liked playing with the wall of stuff to move around.  I know power drills aren't something you can have for Kinders, but you can have building blocks, Lego, Playdoh, and Lincoln Logs.

Check out the links to the sources for more information on the importance of play, so when you let your students have playtime you have proof that it is vital to the learning process!  

PS, here are some pictures of my wonderful family.  

Sarah is a kindergarten teacher, too! 

Emily is an author & her husband teaches third grade.

Gabrielle works in advertising.  

Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer Bucket List

By now I think most teachers are on summer break ~ I've been out since June 5th.  That was actually a little later than was originally scheduled. (Blame it on the snow...) So, whether you are just beginning your summer break, or have been out for a while, you probably have an overflowing Bucket List of things you want to do.  I know I do!  Here is a sampling of some of my Bucket List items. 

I have the best family in the world! Summer is gives us the chance to spend more time together. The picture on the right shows Hubby with his girls (daughters & granddaughters) on Father's Day.

Nothing is better than granddaughters!  I have so much fun with these little girls. (They LOVE to help Papa in the barn.)

The rain has kept us away from the beach so far this year, so I had to go online to get these shots of the Dunes.  Who would have thought that Northwest Indiana has white sandy beaches? 

Lucky for me I have a covered porch, so I can do lots of porch sitting! Porch Puppy, Macie, keeps me company.

 I just finished Julie & Julia today, and need to decide what to read next.  

I have August/September, October, November, and December done & uploaded to TpT.  Hopefully I'll get the rest of the year finished in July.

Nearly the entire teaching staff from my school got to attend the Smekens Literacy Retreat in Middlebury, IN (Amish country).  It was a combination of exciting learning and relaxing & shopping. My brain was a little bit on over-load when we left ~ so many great ideas!  I'll grab a glass of lemonade and sit on my front porch to review the materials & read the book I purchased.

Now it's YOUR TURN!  Tell me what's on your Bucket List for a chance to win my August/September Morning Work set!  I'll pick a winner using next week.

Morning Work for August & September


Friday, June 12, 2015

Fun Day in Kindergarten

Our PTO sets aside $5.00 per student for field trips.  We didn't use up all of our allowance so we were able to purchase some items for a day of Kindergarten fun!  With the help of a few parent (and great-grandparent) volunteers we set up a mini field day just outside our classroom doors.  The weather cooperated which contributed to a fantastic day!  Here are some pictures of the fun.

 Sight Words Beach Ball Toss

 Bozo Buckets & Corn Hole (Midwestern terms ~ what do you call these games?)

 Indoor Break for coloring & puzzles

 The kids really enjoyed puzzles!

 Back outside for some hula hoop fun

 The sidewalk was covered in chalk kid shaped outlines!

 Bubbles & jump ropes

And, finally ~ a pizza party!