Friday, October 31, 2014

Five for Friday ~ Finally!

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.

Now, hop over to Doodle Bugs Teaching and add your own Five!

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!

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