Christmas vacation is finally here! YAY! Last week was lots of fun, but it felt sooooo long! We did lots of crafts and had fun going around the world to learn about how Christmas and other holidays are celebrated using Caitlin Clabby's fun Holidays Around the World. The week ended with Polar Express Day ~ we watched the movie, wore PJs, and had a fun Christmas party. Boy, was I ready for a break by the end of the week!
Every class decorated their bulletin board like a different Christmas carol. We did "Oh, Christmas Tree!" We made the little trees and snowflakes in class. The ornaments on the big tree were made at home. I like to have the kids do an at-home family project ~ it's fun to see what they make!
We made frame-worthy art work for our parent gifts. I like to have the kids make something from scratch (not a kit) whenever possible. These pretty winter scenes took a few days to make. First, they painted the background using a mix of blue & white paint. Next, they traced and cut out trees. Once the trees were in place, they used Q-tips to paint snowflakes. Finally, silver glitter was glued in swirls to create frosty winter winds.
Chippy the Elf watched over the class all December. Here, he is sitting in a little sleigh that one of my students made for me. The kids were amazed that the sleigh was in a different place that day!
Craft Day with our third grade book buddies! The Kinders had so much fun creating these cute reindeer with the big kids. And, the big kids liked being able to help their little buddies.
Not exactly Christmas ~ but, getting six new tablets for our classroom certainly felt like Christmas! Every kindergarten class in our district got six HP tablets for use in our classrooms!
I don't know about you, but I have never gone shopping on Black Friday! That's the day we put up our Christmas tree & start decorating. But, with Thanksgiving being so late this year, we started decorating this weekend. Our main tree isn't up yet, and only my kitchen bird tree is decorated. With a good head start on my whole-house Christmas decor, I may just hit a store or two. But, if I do decide to stay at home, I can still get some great deals ~ and so can you! I'm joining a group of TpT sellers for a $1.00 Black Friday Sale. (It goes live on Friday.)
I'm sure that you are very familiar with The Daily 5 for teaching literacy. Last year I began using the framework in my literacy block and was very happy with the results. I used a blended version of the Daily 5 and my traditional literacy stations. (Read about it HERE.) This year my literacy block consists of mini lessons and 1 - 3 rounds of D5. We have four out of five choices up and running (Read to Someone is currently on the back burner.) My little cuties are pretty good at staying on task and working quietly. I try to meet with at least one group of 2 - 4 students to work on a specific skill each day. Additionally, I meet with individual students for quick checks or individual practice. The Daily 5 is a very good way to give students many opportunities to practice literacy skills.
This past summer I read the second edition of The Daily 5. In addition to updated thoughts on D5 as a literacy tool, it included a chapter on Math Daily 3. The Math Daily 3 are ~ Math on my Own, Math with a Partner, and Math Writing. I was so excited to read this chapter! It gives great ideas on how to incorporate the framework of Literacy D5 into your math block. Our corporation uses a Singapore approach to teaching math, and my Kinder teammates and I use many of the lessons and materials from the Guiding Kinders math sets by Deanna Jump & Deedee Wills. The Singapore approach to teaching math includes lots of hands-on practice with manipulatives before doing worksheets. Mrs. Jump & Mrs. Wills did a great job creating activities that follow the logical sequence of "I do, We do, You do." My Kinders are really progressing in their understanding of math skills, and are eager for something more. In comes Math Daily 3!
To create a place for math materials, I gathered my baskets from the free teacher store, dish tubs from Target, and a rainbow drawer unit from Aldi along with an assortment of shelves. It may not be pretty, but it does the job. (I do need to cover that messy refrigerator back ~ I wasn't happy when someone scribbled on it last year...) The Math Baskets are for Math on My Own. The Math Drawers contain worksheets (sometimes materials to use with the worksheets) for Math Writing, and the Math Tubs contain games and other manipulatives for Math with a Partner. We just call them Math Drawers, Baskets, and Tubs.
I guess I didn't take as many pictures of this as I had thought. (And the picture in the upper left corner is actually a Math Basket.) But, you can see from these few pictures that Math Drawers contain pages for the kiddos to practice writing numbers, etc.
Math Baskets contain a variety of materials for practicing skills independently.
Math Tubs contain activities that are meant to be done with a partner. Because there is partner work going on, Math Daily 3 isn't as quiet as Literacy Daily 5.
My Kinders really enjoy using the materials in our Math Daily 3 center. I have found that I don't really need to change out the materials that often ~ I trade out things every 3 weeks or so. Sometimes I simply add more to a tub or basket, leaving older things in a little while longer. (It really depends upon student interest & need.)
If you are interested in using Math Daily 3 activities, you may be interested in my new Candy Corn Measuring (not just for Halloween) set. Click HERE to purchase. I used the measuring activity with the whole class & put the cards into a Math Drawer for extra practice.
It has been AGES since I last participated in the fun Five for Friday linky! In fact, my little ole blog has been neglected. So, with that, here are my five ~ that have nothing to do with school!
1. I recently visited a dear friend who lives in Illinois in a very old house. Her kitchen is the original house that was built in the 1800s. Over the years it was additions were built. The balcony below was added to the 1930 portion of the house. It was originally on a hotel that was a stop on Abraham Lincoln's campaign tour. It can only be accessed by climbing through a window... Yes, I climbed through a window. (I'm on the left.)
2. Little readers. The teacher in me loves the fact that my darling granddaughters love books. Olivia & Isabella are looking at magazines in the waiting area of our favorite salon. Amelia picks out books from her personal library.
3. Our downtown hosts a wonderful Trick-or-Treat event. It was chilly, but fun. My talented daughters sewed costumes for their little sweeties. My mother always sewed my costumes, I sewed costumes for my daughters, and I'm happy to see the tradition of hand-made costumes has been passed down through the generations!
4. A couple weekends ago we went to Fair Oaks Farms with Sarah & her family. It's an interesting & educational place rural Indiana where dairy cows are raised. Olivia & Isabella sat with me on the bus to see the new pig farm. In addition to learning about cows & pigs, we sampled wonderful cheese and ate the best grilled cheese sandwiches ever.
5. Last week was my sister Debbie's big birthday. She lives in Chicago, which is close-by, but far enough away that she doesn't get a lot of Indiana family visiting. It took some planning, but we surprised her with a fun family dinner in Chicago! I told her that my husband & I were coming to town to take her out for lunch. She was very surprised when we walked into the restaurant & found a large group of family waiting. After a very filling dinner we had a fun evening together!
From left to right: Gabrielle, me, and Debbie. Gabrielle & me. Me & Sarah (that sounds like terrible English...) Front ~ hubby & me.
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 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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.