Friday, September 30, 2011

First Field Trip!

Yesterday was our first field trip. We are lucky enough to be right down the road from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and we have an incredible partnership with the park. Each grade level gets to go on 3 field trips as parks as a classroom. The trips incorporate both science and social studies units and are aligned with our standards. In kindergarten, we do two trips in the Fall and one in the Spring. Our first one was to the headquarters to learn about the different community helper jobs the park rangers have. Here are a  couple of books I like to read with my kids to get them ready for the National Park. I also like the book Troublesome Cub but couldn't get an image of it.
We start out by talking about how the National Park is not like an amusement park or playground. We also spend a lot of time talking about Leave No Trace ethics. It is an important part of our partnership to instill stewardship and a love for the park from an early age. 
The students got to hear from a Tennessee Wildlife Resource agent about bears. They sorted some different foods as to what is healthy for a bear and what is not. Then they talked about what to do if you see a bear. Where we live, it is a good chance you could come across a bear. Then they got to touch a "bear carpet" as one of the kids called it.

The next part of the trip, they got to hear about the law enforcement and paramedic part of the park. They were shown what happens if someone gets hurt on a trail and how they get them out. They also got to try on handcuffs and hear the sirens. All in all, it was a fun morning. I was so proud of how well they behaved and it was a good first field trip. Our next one is next week and we learn about our 5 senses with a talking chimney. What kind of field trips do you go on with your class?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday!

I can't believe it's wednesday already. My plan was to post all the positives in my life on Wednesdays and it just snuck up on me. Oh well. I'm feeling pretty blessed these days so I'll share.
  • The first six weeks ends tomorrow and we finally seem to be getting in a rhythm. I scared to say the worst of the beginning of kindergarten is behind me but I think it is. We seem to be getting in the groove of school. Still have a few kids melting down every once in a while but it's ok.
  • One of my good friends I use to teach with is coming to visit me this weekend. We started teaching together and I miss working with her and her friendship so much. I'm super excited to see her this weekend. Especially since my boyfriend will be out of town.
  • I don't feel like I could go to sleep every afternoon when I leave school and I can carry on conversations again. There for a while I was feeling like I didn't want to talk to anyone after school because I was so tired.
  • I got to be a guest blogger on TBA this weekend. It was so cool and I feel a little dorky for being so excited about it but oh well. Leslie from Kindergartenworks was wonderful to work with and so helpful and nice. Plus they gave me a cool button to put on my blog.
  • I love the school I work at. We had a fundraiser 5k over the weekend and it was a lot fun. I actually ran the whole thing. I run but I hadn't been running since school started but I just decided to try it anyway. We are so lucky to have such a wonderful PTA that organizes things like this and great families who partcipated.
  • One of my students who I've had a lot of trouble with had a wonderful day yesterday. He didn't just end the day on ready to learn but ended up on showing pride. I was so proud.
I'm sure I have a lot more positives and things to be thankful for but that's a good start. What is wonderful about your Wednesday? Link up with your wonderfulness and join the positive party.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Favorite Science Books

I'm a little late to the science party. I did post yesterday about a science activity and I mean to post my favorite science books but you know how it is.
My favorite science books are Magic School Bus. I know the concepts are sometimes a little over my kids' heads but they are presented in such a fun way.The plants seeds in one of my favorites. We have a subscription to Discovery education and United Streaming at my school so we watch a lot of Magic School Bus videos. Every year I think about dressing up as Ms. Frizzle for book character day. To me she's the ultimate teacher.
I'm also a big fan of the Let's Read and Find out Science series. I have several of these books about different topics. This one works great for a solids, liquids and gas unit we do in first grade.
My favorite book to talk about the environment is I can Save the Earth by Allison Inches. It is a great way to introduce little ones to taking care of the environment.
I also am a big fan of Gail Gibbons and her books. I think she presents things in an informative way that is still interesting.
Those are just a few of my favorite books. I'm looking forward to checking out all the other favorite science books in the linky party at TBA.

Science Week

Monday, September 26, 2011

Apple Science Activities

I know science week is this week and I am excited to see what everyone posts. I'm not sure that I have a lot of stuff to add to the party. But Friday we had our first science lesson. It was all about apples to finish up our apple week. I have been inspired by all the other blogs and their apple activities. I had seen a chart I really liked at Eberhart's Explores. (Click here to see here post about apples.) So I made a green apple, yellow apple and a red apple out of butcher paper but I wasn't quite sure what I was going to do with. I originally thought I would do like I had seen on the blog, but I was going to print off their names using word art so they could color it to match their names. I was going to have them graph their favorite by putting their name on the right color apple.
But I woke up at 1:30 am on Friday morning and didn't go back to sleep until around 4:30 am. I do my best thinking at these times, which could be why I'm not able to go back to sleep. I got this idea that we could do science with our apples. And if I had a lab coat I could pretend to be a scientist when the kids came in. Luckily my boyfriend is a vet and has lab coats. He was happy to bring me one to school. When the students came in I had a lab coat and goggles on and told them I was a scientist. We talked about what scientist do and how they use their five senses.
I turned my apples into a kind of KWL chart. Only mine said, we know, we learned and we observed. We started by listing anything we knew about apples. Then I read them the book Apples by Gail Gibbons. I love this book. It has so much good information about apples. We then added information to our we learned chart. I then gave partners an apple and magnifying glass. They were suppose to be looking at their apple with it. We used our five senses to write on our we observe chart. I thought I had told the kids not to eat their apple because they were going to get apple slices in a few minutes. But apparently I hadn't and one little girl took not one bite out of her apple but several bites. Her partner told me I should have told them first. So maybe they were both eating off the apple. They got to try red, yellow and green apples and then color their name to match and put on the chart. After we finished our science we had some artsy fun and did apple prints. I'm not sure I took any pictures of how messy they got but it was messy. I'm not sure why some of the kids thought it was a good idea to wipe their hands on their clothes but I'm glad I had washable paint. Their prints didn't turn out as well as I had hoped but I'm thinking they'll get better with painting the more we do it. So check out our pictures of all our apple fun. I can't wait to see all the science week posts.
The apple chart

Apple Print making

I thought I had some pictures that didn't have the kid's faces in them of them examining their apples but I didn't and I'm a little unclear as to how to get blur their faces. We had a lot of fun with this and were so busy no one had time to get in trouble which is always good. Check out Science week!
Science Week

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Centers verses Workstations

With my introduction to the world of teacher blogging, I've discovered a lot of new authors and books that I want to read. I'm currently reading Debbie Diller's Literacy Work Stations book.( and Ron Clark's The End of Molasses Classes) I am only a few chapters in and I already see things I need to change and work on. I would like to move more to workstations as opposed to centers. I love the idea of the workstation. While I've done some of the things Debbie Diller talked about. I'm trying to teach with the materials and then put them in the center but I realize I hadn't given enough instruction with my expectations. We had worked with play doh and the stamps before and they are doing well with those centers. They had also already sorted with the materials I had in the math exploration center so that one went well. But this week with adding a reading center, I had every intention of really talking about what they needed to do. I had books we've already read there and big books we had been using. I also had some wands and this is where I really messed up. I didn't give enough instruction with these wands or use them in instruction. But after reading this book, I'm starting to see the error of my ways and we'll do some mini lessons like Debbie Diller suggests.
I changed my promethean center this week too. I gave them the charts we had already used in class to work on. While some of them did well with it, there were some things they need some more instruction on. I didn't even think about how they didn't know how to move from one page of the chart to the next. So another mini lesson is coming their way. I'm always looking for ways to improve my teaching and make things run more smoothly in my class. Workstations are my goal but it will probably take us all year to get exactly where I want to be. This week we're continuing on with the same activities we had last week. But I have these mini lessons planned.
Monday - Reading center expectations. We're going to make an anchor chart and have some students model the behavior.
Tuesday - Promethean board expectations and mechanics of how to move from one page to another
Wednesday - Play doh center expectations and routines
We have a field trip on Thursday and Friday is our fun center days. Hopefully these plans will help me move more towards work stations. Check back later this week to see how it went. Do you do centers or workstations? Or have you even thought about the difference?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Favorite websites to use in the class

I am really enjoying being a part of the teaching blogging community. I am so inspired by the things I see other teachers doing in their classroom. I needed this. I was feeling tired when it came to teaching. I love the kids but dealing with everything else was getting to me. I had lost my spark. Discovering all these blogs has helped me to find my spark again. I feel like I'm teaching like I was when I first started teaching. I dressed like a scientist yesterday for our first science lesson with apples. (Although I did get this idea sometime in the middle of the night when I was laying in bed not sleeping) I say all this to say, I was thinking about needing some new websites to use in my classroom. I use starfall a lot and while my kids love it I'm wanting a little variety. So I thought I would appeal to my blogging friends for some new websites to use and have a linky party.
Here are the guidelines:

Blog about your favorite website resources to use with your students in the primary grades (pre k - 3).  Link up to the party by including your direct link to that post and not your general blog.
My favorite websites to use the classroom are:
  •  (I haven't actually tried this one out much. I'm still exploring but it looks pretty good.)
These are some of my favorites. What are yours? Link up and join the party!
As people link up, I'm going to compile a list of the website resources provided and hopefully publish it to my blog at a later time.

TBA's Ultimate Linky Party

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What's in my school bag ?

Abby at the Inspired Apple is having a linky party about what's in your school bag. I love love love bags! I think it's part of our dna as teachers. I wasn't going to join the party but it's just so much fun I couldn't resist.
I've been looking for a new teacher bag and after reading all the posts on the party, I'm leaning towards a 31 bag I was thinking about anyway. My boyfriend's sister just started selling 31 so I'm sure I'll be invited to another party soon. Currently my bag is a Vera Bradly bag. I love vera! I think the name of it is the Vera and it's in the nantucket red pattern. I've had it for the past 5 years I think. My mom got it for me one Christmas. It is a great bag. It has tons of pockets and holds a lot. I didn't notice the handles were getting a little frayed.

I pulled all the contents of my bag out and took a picture. I have my Vera Bradley mini cooler I use for a lunch box. I just ordered a 31 one that I can't wait to start using. My coffee cup, a slip I was wearing today and had to take off at the end of the day, a brush, my camera cord, some Bic Mark it pins, frebreeze (I had no idea that was in there), an icing container I meant to leave at school today to store games in, jumbo craft sticks, a folder with stuff to cut out and put on scrapbook paper, head phones and a lock (for when this bag double as a gym bag), my latest read Debbie Diller's Literacy Work Stations, a devotional book (Jesus Calling), an old jump drive, and an old cd with some pictures of my great grandparents on it. Some days there are shoes and other books. I realized this week that I've become quite the bag lady. I had my teacher bag, purse, computer bag, bags from Dollar tree, and then this bag below. This is another 31 favorite I love this bag. It fits workout clothes in it perfectly or stuff for the lake or pool. I used it on a couple of field trip as well.
Check out the linky party. It's fun to see everyone's bags.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wonderful Wednesday!

I am inspired by Jennifer at Rowdy in First Grade and her spread a little sunshine linky party. I love the idea of finding the positives in life. Wednesday seems like a good day to do it since it's the middle of the week. So I'm going to try to devote Wednesdays to all things wonderful and positive.
 Here's my list:
  • Gifts from students. I have gotten some sweet little presents this year from my little ones. I love pictures and notes the best. I have this sweet little boy whose family is from Honduras and they were in Myrtle Beach last week. They brought me this sweet present and his mom told me that he talked about me the whole time and kept saying how beautiful I was. It made my day. I also got a really sweet note from a parent who said she was blown away by her son's progress. I hung it on my bulletin board above my desk to read when I hear the negatives from parents.
  • The blogging world. I love this community. I love the inspiration that I get from others and the help. I am so encouraged by the comments I've gotten from people and the friends I'm making. I love how helpful other bloggers are. I bought the Apple Literacy and Math Centers from Kreative in Kinder and asked her about a sending me something without the artwork. I heard back from her that day. It encourages me so much. 
  • Dollar Tree - I went there Saturday and got all kinds of fun things. They had clipboards for a $1.00 and I decorated them. I'm so happy with them. I also got a brain to grow in a jar. We've been talking about how you get smarter and what it does to your brain. I see a potential science lesson.
  • My clip chart - I love that I can have kids that are doing well clip up and be rewarded. I think it is having an impact on my students who don't get to clip up and gives those that mess up the opportunity to correct their behavior. 
  • That fall is in the air. I love that it is cooler at night and the leaves are starting to change. 
  • That I got paid last week and was able to go get my hair cut and colored for the first time since June. It was looking rough.
  • This weekend I get to take my niece to Ripley's aquarium with my parents.
  • This one is a little mushy. But my boyfriend is the best guy in the world. He listens to me go on and on about school stuff and tries to help me with projects and teaching ideas. He is also coming next week to talk to the kindergarten about being a vet since we're doing community helpers. 
What is wonderful in your world this Wednesday? Link up and share. Be sure to link up to your post and not just your blog. Thanks.

Common Core and Patterns

This year Tennessee like a lot of other states have adopted common core in Kindergarten and first grade. We also adopted a new math series and a new teacher evaluation system. It is definitely the year of change. I'm trying to keep an open mind about our math series. I'm not sure what I think about it and probably won't know for sure until I've taught it a year. (Although next year I'll be teaching First grade so it could be two years.) The next unit we're on is patterns. I was sitting down to work on my plans and started looking though the common core standards to get my I can statement. Patterns is no where to be found in the common core. I double checked on the pacing guide from the county and they don't have this chapter listed anywhere in it. I'm a little torn. I know that I'm responsible for the common core and I want to give my students all the skills they need for the next school year. Patterns are an important building block for math. I think if kids can see patterns they can do so much with math. In first grade, we work a lot of number patterns and patterns in adding and subtracting. I'm not sure they're going to get this foundation if I skip patterns all together. I know that calendar skills are no longer part of the standards I'm expected to teach and I haven't given up calendar because that's a life skill. I'm a little perplexed about what to do.
I would love to hear about what others are doing or any suggestions/

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flipcharts for the Letter A

I'm loving making these flipcharts that follow along with our reading series and practice the skills needed. This week I'm having the students complete a flipchart during their center time as well. I'm pretty excited and I hope it works out well. Up until now, they've just been using a website during center time. But I took our sorting pages we've already completed and added them into a flipchart. Here a couple of tips for making charts like this for yourself:
  • I use microsoft word to find my pictures. You can use the shared resources/my resources as part of the promethean software. But I've found it difficult to search when I'm looking for something specific. I can search better using word. So then I just copy from that document and past into my flipchart. The reading series we use has picture cards that go with it. So I use their ideas for pictures to sort and just search for them. 
  • You can use the camera tool to capture any picture you want on the internet. I've found that copying to the clipboard works best for copying and pasting into the flipchart. The camera tool is found under tools.
  • You can insert any media you want into a flipchart. Go under insert and then media. I've put a lot of the music we use and the cds that came with the reading series into my music files. I just have to insert the clip and it is already in the flipchart. 
  • To insert pages from a flipchart you've already created into a new flipchart is very easy. Open the new flipchart and the flipchart that you want to copy from. Go under view and choose show browsers. The first icon on this tool is the one that shows all the pages in your flipchart. You click on the page you want and drag it to the title of the other flipchart on the top of the page. This will put that page into your new flipchart. 
I hope these tips and charts are helpful. If you download my charts or use my tips, I would love some feedback. It means a lot to me that someone else can use what I've created.
Click on title of chart to download.
Letter A flipchart                          Flipchart sorting for centers

Side note: I finally have a blog button. Thanks to Ms. M at

I used her post on TBA but couldn't get the html right. I commented on her post and she got right back to me. I emailed her my code and she fixed it for me. So a big thank you to Ms. M!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Literacy Centers and the Letter A

Next week we're going to be working on the letter A. While we have already gone over all the sounds and go over them everyday, our reading series (Treasures) is designed to focus on one letter a week. Last week was our first attempt at literacy centers and they went well. We also had a special rotation on Friday of centers related to the letter M and monsters. I would like to do a letter celebration every Friday. So this week is A and apples.
Here are our centers for during the week:

1. Play dough - Using the alphabet cards from Kindergals, my kids have been making their letters with play dough and then I'm going to add some sight words from Fran at Kindergarten Crayons and her sigh word packet. I'm adding a recording sheet this week. They have to highlight the letters they make. You can get that here.
2. Stamping Center - Inspired by  Work Smarter Not Harder, I made a name stamping sheet that some of them are still working on. You can get that at  an earlier post. I also added one I made with our sight words from this unit. You can get that here. 
3. Math Exploration - They are going to be exploring with unifix cubes. I've made some number cards that they can match with quantities of the cubes. We haven't done much counting with our math series and I feel like we need a lot of practice with those skills. So far in the math series, we've working on sorting and now position words.
4. Math Game - I bought Kreative in Kinder's dice unit on her Teacher's notebook. If you haven't checked out her stuff you should. She's great. The kids are going to play a monster themed one this week. Then on Friday for apple day we're going to play an apple themed one from her Apples unit.
5. Computer center
6. Promethean Board - a picture sorting flipchart. They will sort pictures of things that start with m and things that start with a. This will be a change from their starfall they have been doing.(I'll be posting my A flipcharts later this week so check back)
7. Reading center - This is the first time they are going to this center. So for now they're just going to read quietly on the carpet. We're going to talk about the behavior for the reading center and make an anchor chart to hang there to show them what to do. I'm hoping to incorporate the 3 ways to read a book I have been seeing all over blog world.
I've been trying to introduce a new center every rotation and make sure we practice the activities so the centers will go more smoothly. So this week we're going to get ready to start the listening center on the next rotation. I want to go over the procedures like turning the pages and pushing the buttons. I also want them to complete a listening sheet as a class first. 

Most of the apple centers we're going to do come from Kreative in Kinder's apple literacy and math centers. We're going to use her dice game, her alphabet matching game, and hopefully her apple poem for an art project. Be sure to check back at the end of the week for pictures of our activities.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Random Post!

I don't have much going on this weekend which is actually kind of nice. I think I need a little bit of time to just veg out at home. I need to finish a baby blanket for our P.E. teacher and his wife. They just had their first child a few weeks ago. I started it this summer but just couldn't seem to get it finished once I started getting ready for school. So hopefully I'll finish it this weekend.
I have some school things to work on too. I plan to post some literacy centers for the letter A and my flipchart for my promethean board for the letter A.  I was doing my usual Saturday morning blog stalking and saw a how to on how to make a sign with the student's names. It was on Peace, Love and Learning. So I played around with that this morning. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it but I thought it turned out well. It was pretty easy to do. I did mine on publisher but Donna used power point. 
Check back tomorrow for my A activities and flipchart.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Literacy Center Update

I'm participating in the linky party over at Clutter-free Classroom. Click back to check out the other peeks into their classroom. 

We started literacy and math center this week and it went really well. Of course it probably helps that 6 of my 17 students are out of the room at this time. I was worried because we've only had free choice centers up to this week and I wasn't sure how they would take being told what center to go to. On the second day of centers, one student told me he loved doing these activities. Which made me really happy. Now that I'm into them I see some changes that I'm going to have to make. My center work board is not very user friendly and some of my signs need to be redone. I have some centers in baskets and the signs were too big for the baskets. So with my favorite thing, scrapbook paper, I redid the signs and used the kids' pictures to show where they needed to go. (see my post to see what they looked like.)This summer when I was originally planned some of these centers I wanted to have 8 centers that I traded out the activities done in the centers. I was going to have an alphabet center, sight word center, writing, math exploration, math game, promethean board, reading (this would include listening and big books) and computer. But I've rethought this a bit. This is what I'm thinking now:
  • Stamping center - practice sight words
  • Play doh center - currently we're working on letters. But we could do numbers and words.
  • Writing
  • math exploration
  • Math game
  • Reading
  • Promethean
  • Computer
  • Listening
  • Art
I also like the sensory tubs and fine motor centers I've been seeing so I might include those too. I'm working on teaching them the centers and will add one new one a week. This week we've been working on stamping, play doh, math exploration, computer and promethean board.  I would like eventually for them to do 2 a day but we just can't make that work right now.
I had decided this summer I wanted to have letter parties each week for our letter of the week. In reality, I think it's going to be fun center activities on Fridays. So, we're had some monster m centers this Friday. One center was a matching game found on someone's blog that I can't currently locate. They made their own monsters out of construction paper. They turned out really cute. An m book that I made. They had to use our circle graph from the week to complete the book. The last one was covering a M in marshmallows. They had a lot of fun. I'll be posting my A activities hopefully next Monday with a flipchart and apple/Aa centers. So check back.
Hers are some of their activities. They turned out cute. 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Starfall on the Promethean Board

One of the other ways I use my promethean board a lot is with other websites. It's so nice to have access to different websites for the whole class to use. One of my favorites is If you haven't visited starfall and you teach kindergarten or first grade you need to visit. They have a ton of good games and activities for students this age. I've been reading a lot of blogs about starting writing with kindergartners and starting with labeling. This was part of my lesson plans this week was to work on a picture of animal families and have the students label the picture. Well, we haven't talked about labels at all. When I had my students in the computer lab yesterday, they were playing on starfall. A couple of the boys were using labels on one of the activities. So today as introduction to labels we did this activity together. This link should take you to the labels It is under the It's fun to read and then the about me tab from there. The kids enjoyed this. We'll see if it stuck in their heads about what a label is tomorrow when we finish the lesson. After using this website, they drew a picture of their family and tomorrow they're going to label it. You can get that page here. When we get finished, we'll make a class book out of it. I try to do a class book a week.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I'm so excited!

Over at Rowdy in First Grade, Jennifer has challenged bloggers to post something positive today. This is my effort at meeting that challenge.
I have had a hard time staying positive so far this year. It feels like we go a step forward and then 2 steps back. But I'm determined to keep a good attitude. So here are some things I'm excited about:

  • I'm really excited about scrapbook paper. It can make anything look prettier. I've redone my center chart using scrapbook paper and the kids pictures. I also took boring old coffee cans and turned them into pretty containers for markers.
  • Today we used m and m's for math.The kids sorted them, counted them, and then ate a couple. 
  • Blogging. I love reading everyone's blogs and getting great new ideas. I feel like I'm a much better teacher already just by using the ideas and inspiration found on other blogs.
  • Pete the Cat and Pete the Cat Rocking His School Shoes. I introduced my class to Pete the cat last week and they loved him. When we had open house, one little girl had to show her grandmother the book. She gave me the money to get the new Pete the Cat book. We're loving them both in Ms. Kerri's class.
  • Fall is coming soon. I love Fall and Halloween and Thanksgiving. I look forward to all the fun activities going on and beautiful leaves and decorations.
  • Nieces. I have the cutest niece in the world. Sophie. Yesterday she was blowing me kisses when we left. Plus she really loves the Dr. Jean song "Banana Dance." We do the ketchup one all the time. My boyfriend also has the sweetest niece Kaley who is getting to be a lot of fun. She's almost 4 months old and she's so smiley.
  • Dr. Jean songs
  • That I'm finally starting to get in a routine at school. We've been through half a week of centers and it's going well.
I don't know why my pictures are so wonky. But those are some positives in my life. What's going well in yours? Join the linky party.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Using Flipcharts for reading

The next way I use flipcharts a lot is with my reading series. I worked this summer and created some flipcharts to go with each week of the series. We use the treasure series. It has 3 weeks of a smart start to get them ready. I started with those charts to see what worked and what didn't. I really liked it and now I've got to get to making more flipcharts.
Treasures comes with a lot of charts and resource books and you can find the same things on the cd-rom that comes with it. I've downloaded all these charts and resources. Last year I would just pull it up on the board but sometimes it was hard to find the workbook page I am looking for. So using the camera tool on the promethean board, I'm able to copy and paste the pages into my flipchart.
This is how you do that:
1. Open the document you want to put in your flipchart.
2. From your promethean software chose the desktop annotate option. This will allow you to use the promethean tools on the desktop.
3. From the tools menu chose the camera tool and then chose fit the area.
4. Use the arrows to fit around the document you want to use.
5. I think the copy to clipboard or my resources are the best options to use. If it something you'll use more than once, I'd copy it to resources rather than just the clipboard.
6. Go back to the flipchart that you're working on and then paste the document into the flipchart.

I use this for the teaching chart that comes with our reading series a lot. It is easier to me to write directly on these charts using the flipchart rather than the desktop annotate. It saves me time from searching for the charts needed. I just look the first time when making the flipchart. I also use this for the worksheets. Treasures has the whole workbook as a pdf file. Especially at the beginning of kindergarten, this is great for the kids to learn how to do the workbook pages.

I also include in my flipcharts, interactive writing charts. I've done these in the past using chart paper. The thing I like about using my board, is that I can turn it into a pdf and then print the sheet needed for the students. They can practice reading their sentences at home. Eventually, I'm going to print the sentences and cut them apart for the students to put together again. The writing charts usually have our sight words in them or they are connected to the theme we're working on.
We do our handwriting as part of learning our letter of the week. I thought the board would be a fun way to practice writing the letters. So I included a page that had some handwriting lines on it. Using the dual user function, I was able to have two kids practicing writing their letters at the same time. This was the first time I used that function and it was pretty cool. The kids were so surprised that 2 of them could do it at the same time.
You can get my chart for M week on this post and hopefully I'll get ahead of making the charts soon.
Check back later this week for a how-to post on including media in your flipcharts.
M Flipchart
If you would like to see some of my other flipcharts just leave me a comment. Please leave me a comment if you read this and found it useful. I love getting feedback and I just don't get much.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Morning Meeting Promethean Style

This week I'm going to share some of what I do with my promethean board in my class. I've had some people want to see my flipcharts and I think I've figured out how to share them. 

I love love love my morning meeting and calendar time with the kids. I think I love it so much because I use a flipchart that I'm really proud of. It is a combination of different ideas and trial and error and searching promethean planet for things that work for my kids. I love it because I can adapt to fit whatever my kids need. All I have to do is add another page.
When I first started teaching kindergarten, I wrote my morning message on a small white board and did my calendar time on a bulletin board. I had a good routine with them. I keep my students for two years. I have them in kindergarten and then first grade and by half way through first grade I was tired of my morning message and my kids didn't seem to need it. But by using my board, I don't get bored or tired of it. I love it!
Here's my morning meeting routine:
When they first come in they see a chart that has their routine for the morning. I use pictures of what they are suppose to do and the words. I saw this idea on Mrs. Wills blog and just adapted it to fit my needs (At lease I think that's where I saw it. I can't find it now). The students can see what they need to do. As they are working on their morning work at their table, they answer a question on the board. I started this year with their favorite color. They moved their name underneath a square of their favorite color. I started these graphs to help them recognize their names. The next one they do is if they are boys or girls. This starts to get them used to the yes/no format we use the rest of the year and they can "read" it themselves. Then they have a yes/no question they answer everyday. I use their popcorn words and different themes and concepts we're working on. I also use a lot of graphing and math concepts with this chart.
When morning meeting starts, we start with a Dr. Jean song I've embedded in my chart. Then we go over our rules which I got from The Polka Dot Patch.
Here's a list of the next slides:
  • Morning message (I enjoy playing around with the backgrounds depending on the season and holdiays)
  • Calendar
  • Days of the week (Dr. Jean song embedded)
  • Days we've been in school hundreds chart
  • Months of the year (Dr. Jean song embedded)
  • Weather (Dr. Jean song embedded)
  • Season
  • Temperature
  • Patterns with shapes
  • Number patterns
  • Schedule
 Then there are a variety of pages that I'll add eventually and that I use in first grade. If you download my chart, I put notes in each slide to let you know what I do there. I love doing my morning meeting this way because we practice so many skills in math and in reading and writing. I try to include questions in my morning message and my question of the day that review our science and social studies themes.
If I could figure out how to show an image of it I would. Hopefully soon I can figure that one out.
Here's my flipchart for download in google docs. It took a long time to upload, so let me know if you were successful in downloading it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11th

I've gone back and forth about posting anything about September 11th. It still feels so fresh to me. I can't watch footage of the events without getting teary. I can remember the day so clearly like I'm sure many of us can. I can't imagine being in the classroom that day and holding it together. It was my junior year in college and I had just turned the tv over to the today show when the second tower was hit. A friend of mine was in the Navy reserves and no one could find him during this time. It was just a scary time. It's the most vivid memories I have about college. I feel like that time just after September 11th kind of stood still. About 13 months later to the day, I found myself at ground zero. It was my first trip to New York so I don't know what it was like with the towers. But it was so unsettling seeing the damage. I still feel a twinge of sadness when I see the towers in old episodes of Friends or other shows shot in New York. I can't be the only one that feels this way.
Every year on September 11th our principal on the morning announcements discusses the events of that day. I teach at a k-8 school so the older kids understand more of what he's talking about. I've never really talked about it with my class. It still seems so raw and fresh to me even ten years later. I have no idea how to even talk about it with my little ones. Do you discuss this with your class? How do you talk about those terrible events? I'm not sure I could without tearing up a bit and I don't know how I feel about that. I would love to hear about how you talk to your students and how you feel about those events even ten year later. Please share! I would have a linky party if I had any idea how to do that.
Side note if you happen to have the National Geographic channel you should check out the interview with George W. Bush. It was really interesting to see the events of the day through the former president's eyes. It has no commentary just his story. This is a link to more information and some videos. 9/11 interveiw

Friday, September 9, 2011

Classroom Update

So my big grand idea of starting centers this week didn't work out so well. But I think I've gotten them all introduced and we'll be ready to start them on Monday. That will probably be better for them to start them Monday and do the full five day rotation. The only kids I haven't had a chance to introduce stamping to yet are my ELL students. They have their pull out ELL time during center time. In fact, they miss a whole hour of literacy learning. I have to live with it. I hate that I won't really have them for any small group time.
The gear bags are working out pretty well. We've only used them once and it was a little chaotic but I think it will get better as we use them. It was way better than passing out all the materials one at a time. I finally finished my birthday display. It's from looking at lot of different displays.
Last night was Open House so I wanted to get as much finished as possible. . I'm loving my scrapbook paper bought at JoAnn's Monday. I've been using it for everything. I made the Hiss game on Kindergals. But instead of using the snakes as the backs of the cards, I used scrapbook paper.  I have a limited supply of ink and copies so the scrapbook paper worked pretty well. I tried to keep with an animal theme. Check her game out. It was free and my kids have really enjoyed. I realized after playing it with my afternoon games that I taught it totally different than Kim Adsit had created it. But it worked anyway. It is helping me see which kids have ideas about letters and which don't.
I introduced the kids to Pete the Cat this week. They loved the story but I was so disappointed that I could show them the video. It was blocked and when I tried to use the trick I saw on a blog that was blocked too. I'm going to try downloaded the video at home on my laptop and bringing it in. I have bought Fran's Pete the Cat unit and DeAnna Jump's unit. I love the ideas in both and plan on doing a little Pete the Cat each week for a while.
Overall my week was good. Most of frustration is subsiding and the kids are really doing a great job. They make me laugh and smile so much. Next week we jump into the meat of our reading series. The first three weeks of the Treasure series is slow paced and introductory. Next week it starts to move a little quicker. The series teaches a letter a week. I've already introduced all the sounds and I plan of reviewing them everyday but just focusing on the one letter. Check back Sunday or Monday. I plan to have some M resources. I'm debating about making my first unit to sell on TPT. I can't quite decide but I will definitely have some freebies.
Hope you have a happy happy Friday! We get out at 2 pm because of traffic from a car show so I plan on it being a great day!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blogging Project Update

I seriously have the best, most wonderful boyfriend in the world. Monday after I posted my blog about the blogging projects I wanted to work on, he took me to the Dollar Tree, Dollar General and JoAnn's to find some materials for the projects I wanted to tackle. I was looking for some bags to use for the carpet bags (which I'm going to call Gear Bags because every time I say carpet bags I think of carpetbaggers.) I couldn't find anything at Dollar Tree that weren't too girly and my class is almost all boys. I did find some silly straws for the birthday balloons. So he suggested that we go look somewhere else and we went to Dollar General. I couldn't find exactly what I wanted but this is what I found for $ .75 each so I got them.

But not before looking all over the store and obsessing about candy to put in my treat jar I had found. He didn't rush me, he just offered an opinion. I also  bought a photo album to put another idea I had seen into place. This can be found at A Garden of Children. I think I'm going to do their pictures and then their I am sentences they wrote week before last week.
Then he took me to JoAnn's where they had their huge packs of scrapbook paper on sale for $9.99. He helped me pick out some that weren't too girly and even paid for them. So I'm set on scrapbook paper for a long while.
I used the scrapbook paper and the straws to make this birthday surprise for my kids. I'm excited I got it done early. My first birthday in the class is Thursday.
I also finished my gear bags. I first had to decorate them a bit. I only got 10 so the kids are going to have to share because my space and budget are limited. I put a whiteboard, marker and sock for each student in the bag. There is also the basic red, blue, green, yellow crayons for each student and a pencil.
Here's a peek at what's inside them. 
Eventually I'll put their calendar folders when we tackle that project in the bags. I also plan on putting baggies with the math manipulatives that they need. Passing stuff out takes just way too long. So hopefully this will help.
Here's what they looked like when completed and stored.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Literacy Centers

One of the things I've been seeing a lot in the blogging world is literacy centers. This is something I have never been good at it. But I really wanted to try this year and with all the support in the blogging world I think I can do it. We've just been having play centers the past 2 weeks. I have been a little discouraged about starting some literacy and math centers because my kids seem so young and like they can't be independent. But after getting some inspiration from a variety of blogs, I think I'm going to try to introduce some learning centers this week. I need to work with some of the kids in a small group. My ELL students need some extra help with sorting in math and some of the students need some practice with holding their pencils and writing their names. I would also like to do some assessing at some point. So trying literacy centers will hopefully help that.
We need to do some work with our names and I love the idea of a stamping center where I  can just change out the words to stamp. So the first center I'm going to introduce to them is a word work stamping center. I've made a sheet to practice writing their names and then stamping them. (click here to get it) I was inspired by the stamping sheets on work smart not hard teaching kindergarten. Click her button to get some more stamping sheets. I plan to introduce it whole group and show them what to do and then pull them with groups to let them practice it while the rest of the class is having their center time. We'll talk about how to take care of the stamps and what to do with their work when they are finished. I'll introduce this one Tuesday and Wednesday.

The next center I'm going to introduce is a math game center. We're working on sorting and classifying and the vocabulary same and different. The math series provides some centers for the kids to use. I'm not crazy about all of them but the first one is a memory matching game. The kids have to find the matches that are the same. Again I'll introduce this game whole group and then we'll take the time to play the game with partners. 
 The third center I would like to introduce this week is some kind of alphabet center. I've already introduced them to the idea of using play doh to make letters. Last week we made the word can out of playdoh as a class. I got the letters from Kindergals (Click here to see their post). I've glued them to card stock and laminated them. We'll do a whole group lesson again to review and hopefully they'll be ready. The plan is to be doing these learning centers and some of the play ones on Thursday and Friday after spending Tuesday and Wednesday introducing them.
Wish me luck! If you have any hints or tips for starting literacy centers, be sure to let me know. I've been doing some research on the blogs. I'll update with pictures hopefully later this week to let you know how it's going.
Writing this post helped me to sort it out in my head what I wanted to do and gives me a little accountability to actually do it.. Another perk of teacher blogging.

Monday, September 5, 2011

My favorite blogging projects

I follow over 50 blogs on my google reader and then I have some that I have bookmarked. I love love love looking at what other people are doing in their classrooms. It has helped me be more excited about teaching and it gives me an outlet for my own creativity. But I have a horrible habit of trying to do too much. I have so many ideas swimming around in my head from other blogs, it is becoming a little overwhelming. There are so many things I want to try and make that I can't quite keep up with them all. So instead of awarding my top 10 blogs because I don't think I could choose just 10, I'm going to post some of my favorite lessons and projects that I want to try.
The biggest change I wanted to make in my class this year that I have been inspired from blogging is to work harder with my literacy and math centers and small group work. I have a post about how I'm doing that coming up this week. That's an ongoing major change that I'm making.
I'm a list person. It helps me to make a list of the things I need to do or want to do to actually get them done. So I'm attempting to make a list now of all the projects and lessons  I would like to try and then blog about each one. I'm learning that blogging is giving me a different accountability.
So here's my list in no particular order:
  • Carpet bags from Kindergals - I think this will really help organize the kids materials and hopefully make transitions smoother which help my mental state during math time. With the new evaluations that we're going through this year, that is something that is evaluated and right now I stink big time with it.
  • Whose in the Club? book from Kindergarten Rocks! I've seen this idea on a variety of blogs. This was just the one I found most recently. I like the idea of having a book for the students to sign when they complete something. I also like the idea of posters around the room but I'm not sure where I'd put them. I'm still mulling over what categories I would have but it's something I need to get on. We still do a Brigance assessment at the end of the year where they need to know their birthday, address and phone number so I can see this helping with that.
  • Calendar notebooks - I've seen these all over the blogging world too. I downloaded the freebies at Growing Kinders and have Kim Adsit's packet on TPT on my wish list. I love this idea but I'm a little scared to try it. Right now my kiddos are just not ready. I'm hoping by October they will be and if not then I look at starting this in January. I like the idea of them being more active during calendar time and this is similar to something my mentoring teacher did when I was student teaching. 
  • Writing Center - I have seen so many good writing centers and I have all kinds of ideas of what I want to do in my head. I just can't seem to get on it. Some of the sources I want to use are the posters from Chalk Talk and then some word cards with different pictures depending on the unit or theme we're studying. I found some back to school ones  and sentence frames from Teacher Bits and Bobs
  • Birthday balloons - This is another idea I've seen in various places in the blogging world. I liked this one from Kindergarten Rocks. Using silly straws with a balloon for a present for the kids. I have my first birthday this week so I need to get on this one. 
Here are some lessons I want to do in my class or have already attempted.
  • Lunchroom Expectations - I loved this idea at Kindergarten Kindergarten about working on cafeteria expectations. We started this project but haven't finished it yet so I'll post some pictures when we finish. The lesson went really well. They were good at coming up with the good and bad choices. Check this lesson out.
  • Germs lesson- Over at Little Miss Kindergarten she has a great lesson about germs. I need to do this lesson this week. I've already got kids coughing all over each other and not covering their mouths. I think this will be a great visual to help the kids remember not to spread germs.
  • Tattling Lessons - There are some great tattling lessons out there in the blogging world. Tattling drives me crazy but I have to remember that the kids don't know what it is until I teach them about it. I'm going to start with this lesson from What the Teacher Wants. I also love the idea over at Kindergals for discouraging tattling.
  • Kind words lesson - I saw this great lesson on someone's blog which I cannot find right now where they had kids say unkind things to a paper child and crinkle the paper. Then they said nice things and uncrinkled the paper showing how it still hurts the kid. Hopefully I can find where I saw it and give them credit. I love this idea.
So there's my list of my favorite projects and lessons that I can't wait to try out.  Have you done any of these activities or projects? How did they turn out?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Frustration, soapbox, and help needed!

This past week was really difficult. I know that the beginning of the year is tough in Kindergarten. I'm not expecting things to run smoothly until the first six weeks is over. The kids are doing pretty well. They've picked up on the morning routine pretty well and they can use my promethean board on their own pretty well. What is frustrating me are things that I have no real control over. The sink and bathroom area in my pod are going through a makeover to accommodate students with special needs. I completely understand that this needs to be done and am excited at how nice it will be when it's complete. But the men doing the makeover were not using their looking eyes or safety while completing it. They brought up large pieces of wood in the middle of 2 kindergarten classes and left a lot of power tools laying around unattended. This made me so angry which is kind of ridiculous on my part I know. I just hate being interrupted and the part of the day from lunch to getting to specials is my most difficult part of the day as it is.
Then the second thing that is frustrating me is our new math series. I can't get a handle on how it works and I only have part of my teaching resources and materials. I was really hopeful about the new series and I am still trying to hang on to that optimism. It's the Envision math series created by Scott Foresman. I think part of my problem is how I'm setting up the lessons. I have always taught my math whole group on the carpet to introduce the concepts. But my carpet area is not working. The kids don't seem to have a concept of what is their space and what's their friend's space. So I think I'll try at their tables for part of the lesson. If anyone is using this series and has some advice, I would appreciate it. I'm just having trouble getting a handle on it. Of course it doesn't help that I seem to run out of time before I can get a lesson done. That's another frustration. Only having 3 hours (minus bathroom breaks, snack and transition time) to teach everything I need to teach. It seems like something suffers each day. I read DeeDee Wills' post about transitions and time saving yesterday so hopefully I can put some of that into play and do better managing my time. I'm also considering trying the carpet bags that I saw on KinderGal's blog.  So if anyone has any suggestions or experience with trying these ideas, I would love to hear them. I've got to figure out some ways to make these things run more smoothly before I have an evaluation. I know these are things that I will be marked down for. (Another thing stressing me out)
Here's my soapbox for the week. Kids spend too much time playing video games and watching tv. I have several kids in my class who have no experience with pencils, crayons, scissors, glue or interacting with real life kids. My boyfriend is always saying he's not going to have cable and I just about die. I don't know what I'd do without my trashy tv but after these few weeks in school I might have changed my mind. It isn't that my kids aren't capable of using those materials they just need someone to show them how.
Ok my soapbox is over with and so is my venting. I'm so thankful to have this blogging world to get those things out and to look for resources to help me. I would appreciate any comments with suggestions that you have.
I've been trying to list the positives and things the kids are doing well with. So here they are:
  • I love my kids! They have great personalities and are so excited to be at school. I'm enjoying getting to know them a little better each day. 
  • Morning Routine- putting their backpacks up and notebooks in their cubbies
  • Lunch time - They've improved in going through the line and they also do a great job of being quiet and eating their lunches.
  • Being creative in the house center and the block center
  • Getting books to read after they finish their work. 
  • They "read" their brown bear, brown bear book they made.
  • Dismissal routines
  • walking in the line - I gave them numbers and a line order and that seems to be helping a lot with the kids who couldn't stay in one spot in line and liked to skip ahead. 
  • Crying - I didn't have any tears Friday when they were coming in or when I was taking them to specials. 
What are some of your positives for the year?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Color Week Activities

For the past 2 weeks, we've been celebrating the colors. I'm kind of glad it is coming to an end but we've done a lot of really cool activities that I thought I would share.
Red day - We read Clifford goes to school. The plan was to make a Clifford mask from But we didn't actually have time for this activity since it was the first day with all the kids.
Blue day - This is one of my favorite days. We read Blueberries for Sal. They then completed this sheet and cut out blueberries to put in a pail and practiced writing their names.I cut construction paper in blue in half and drew 8 blueberries on the sheet. They could choose how many they wanted to put on the sheet. This group needs some practice writing their names. This was our first cutting and gluing activity. It was a little scary.
Blueberries for Sal Document 
Green day - We read Five Green and Speckled Frogs and made frog puppets. More practice with cutting and it went a little better. I sent these home that day so I don't have any pictures of them.
Yellow day - We read I'm your Bus.This was a really cute book. It talked about riding the bus the first time and had repetitive text in it. Then we made buses to go with it. I was inspired by the buses I saw on Deanna Jump's Fun with Literacy and Names packet. I cut yellow construction paper in half and then gave them 2 black squares to cut the corners off for the wheels.
Purple Day - We were going to read Harold and the Purple Crayon but I couldn't find my copy of the book. So we watched it on United Streaming and the kids loved it. Then they completed a sheet that said __________ loves his/her purple crayon and drew a picture to go with it. I then made a class book out of their sheets. 

Orange Day - My boyfriend found this story Axle the Freeway Cat on this website This was a story he liked when he was a kid. It's a good story with good vocabulary and an orange cat for orange day. We read the story and then made cats. I had traced a circle and 2 triangles on orange construction paper. (I couldn't copy it onto the paper because we have a new copier and I didn't want to be the one to jam the machine.) They cut out the shapes and then added the face. I gave them some black rectangles for whiskers. They turned out pretty cute but I only have a picture on my example.
Brown Day - We read Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See? and completed the little book from Kinderpond. This actually went really well. I was worried because it involves a lot of coloring and cutting.But the kids did really well. We had a little lesson on how we color and we don't color. I was proud of how well the did and that most of them could put the pages in order with a little prompting so we got some sequencing done as well. Here's a picture of one of the completed books. 
Overall color week went pretty well and I learned a lot about my students and their abilities. Hope you can find something useful in this post. Please leave me a comment if you use something from here. I could use the encouragement.