Thursday, August 30, 2012

Classroom Allergies - Free Posters

Hello there! So yesterday was my "official" first day back in the classroom. I have actually been into school a lot before yesterday, like many of you! The children do not start until next week, so yesterday was a day for all of us to prepare our classrooms. After talking to our school nurse, I found out that I have a child this year with a tree nut allergy. It seems like every year these allergies increase.

I decided to make some new posters to hang outside my classroom door. Although I only have a tree nut allergy, I also made a poster for peanut allergies. The clip art is from Scrappin Doodles and My Cute Graphics and the font is from Miss Tiina. Let me know if you would like one for dairy and I can try my best to make one asap!


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Monday, August 27, 2012

Developmental Learning Centers - Art Center

One of my favorite times of my kindergarten day is center time. Although in the past few years, it seems as though this time is getting shorter or no longer valued as much as it used to be. My center time is different than my literacy stations.

During center time, the children have the opportunity to choose from a variety of developmental learning centers such as blocks, housekeeping/kitchen, play dough, sand and water table, art, etc.
Even though we have so many new standards/mandates, I still think it is crucial to set this special time aside every day for our kindergarten students. This is where they work on important skills such as: sharing, communication, creative expression, and the list goes on and on.

One of the more popular centers is the art center. The children love to go to the easel and paint a picture to bring home or to hang in the room. They also love to be able to draw! Last year, I tried placing a limit though on the number of pages they could use. Some of my kiddos would use reams of paper every day if I let them! In order to be "conservative" I decided to borrow an idea from my wonderful friend (and first grade teacher). I made a special sheet for the drawing bin. The children can pick one sheet each center time.  I hope you can use it, too. It is fairly simple, enjoy!

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Sunday, August 26, 2012

Great Music Video for back to school!

Hi everyone. I am sure a lot of you have already watched this great video from Sesame Street. I found it on Pinterest and I am now singing it all day!! It features Will. i. Am (who I love) and it gives children a really positive and powerful message. I am definitely going to sing it with my kindergarten students. For those of you who don't know this video - enjoy!!

One last thing...does anyone know if there is some way for me to download this song? I looked on i tunes but couldn't find it.

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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Super Hero of the Week Poster - Freebie

Hi everyone! Looks like I am a little late for Freebie Friday, so how about Super Hero Saturday??? I changed my star of the week this year to Super Hero of the Week. Look back here for information about this special student activity.

When the child is Super Hero of the Week, they bring home a poster to complete with a mom or dad over the weekend and then share it with the class on Monday (the first day of their special week). I used to order posters from a teacher supply store, but I decided to make my own.

Here is my question for all of you... does anyone know a store that will copy a document into a larger size, preferably poster size, at a reasonable price? If so, please leave me a comment. 

If I can't enlarge it, then I will just send it home in it's original size. Here it is for all of you!

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Healthy Snack Parent Letter

Hi there! Every year, I send home an introductory letter on the first day of school. I include basic information like special subjects schedules, our lunch time, contact numbers, email, etc. I also discuss one of the most favorite times of the day for my kiddos...snack time!

I decided this year to send a separate letter home regarding snack. I have noticed in the past few years that children are bringing in a lot of "junk food" and even candy. Now, don't get me wrong, I love chips and cookies just like everybody else, but I really think the children need a good nutritious snack to keep those smart brains sharp and ready to learn!

I have tried to encourage healthy snacks over the years, but I decided that I needed to specifically address it in a letter to parents. I did not include any information regarding food allergies because this changes year to year and we typically get a letter from our school nurse regarding classroom allergies.

Here is a copy for all of you!

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Weekly Reading Folders in Kindergarten

Hi everyone! I am in full "get ready to go back to school" mode and I am still checking things off of my very long list. One of the things I needed to make was a weekly update for my reading folders.

My students bring home reading folders once a week. I typically send them home on Monday. The parents take out the activities in the folder and the student returns the folder the next day. The folder contains a list of our kindergarten sight words (this sheet stays in all year),  an emergent reader or book we read in class (either whole group or guided reading group) and a poem or small game that reviews key concepts (rhyming, sight words, alphabet recognition, etc.) The parents really enjoy the folders because it gives them something specific to review with their child.

I decided to make a weekly update form to place in the folder. I realized that although I was sending these activities home every week and parents were looking through the folders with their children, they may appreciate some tips about how to review the sight words, readers, etc.

The clip art is from Scrappin Doodles. You can find these forms as well as labels on my TPT store.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Sight Word Parking Lot

About ten years ago I went to a district workshop about phonemic awareness. At the workshop, we also discussed sight word vocabulary and the presenter showed us a really clever game to review sight word vocabulary. It is called Sight Word Parking Lot and it is a great game to use for small group work or during your literacy stations, daily five work work, etc.

You can easily make one with a piece of paper and a marker. You make parking spaces on the sheet and write a different sight word in each parking spot. Then, you give each child in the small group a matchbox car. On each turn, you say a sight word and they drive their car into that parking space. Easy and fun!

Here is a picture of the board with a car:

I made five boards with ten words on each board. I used fifty of the most common sight words for kindergarten. You can make your own, too. I suggest laminating the boards.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back From Vacation With A Freebie!

Hi everyone! I am back from a wonderful week in Myrtle Beach. We go every summer and I absolutely love it!!!  Everyone is so friendly in South Carolina and the beach is so great. I spent most of my summers as a teenager vacationing there with my family and thank goodness, so did my husband. So, we both knew that is where we would want to bring our own children. The only hard part is coming home because it always signals...back to school!!!!!

After a long trip to Target this morning and a full cart of school supplies for my children (yes, stuff for me too), I decided to make a list of what I still need to accomplish. Oh boy! So, my theme this year is super heroes. If you have not checked out my super hero freebies yet, please do! I also posted some fun super hero stuff to my TPT store.

One of the things I needed to do for my tables was to create table number labels. I just use number labels because, quite frankly, it is easier for me to remember numbers rather than cute little names. I usually just use clear contact paper to attach them to the end of each table.

I have four tables in my room for the students, but I made six just in case some of you have more than me. I hope you enjoy them! to do vacation laundry...ugh.

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Friday, August 10, 2012

Vacation Sale!!!

Wahoo - a few weeks still left for my summer vacation!! To celebrate, everything in my store will be 20% off this weekend, starting August 11th! I will not be posting for a while - taking some much needed R&R! I will leave all of you wonderful blog friends with a favorite song from my teen years!!!

Don't forget to shop at my sale!!

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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Establishing Routines - Part 2 - Busy Beaver Bin

In my last post, I discussed the importance of establishing routines in the primary classroom. Another transition that can be "hectic" in the kindergarten classroom is when you complete an "academic" activity and move onto the next one.

I don't actually do a ton of "worksheets" in my classroom but we do complete some paper and pencil/crayon tasks. Instead of handing them into me directly, I have two bins in my room. The first bin is called the "Busy Beaver Bin." This is where they place work that is completely done. The second bin is called the "Taking My Time Tray." Some students require a little more time with certain assignments and we need to move onto the next activity. So, if a child needs more time to finish something, they simply place it in the Taking My Time Tray.

The children are able to finish the activities from the Taking My Time Tray during free or choice time (if they choose) or they can finish them as a "morning job" the next day.  I never really liked the idea of a work bin being labeled "incomplete, especially in kindergarten. So many of them are still getting used to time management and the skill levels are so varied.

It takes some time for the children to get used to the routine, but after a while, it really works well.
I just use plastic paper trays and hang a sign above each one to label the bins. The clip art is from Scrappin Doodles and My Cute Graphics.

Here they are for all of you:

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Establishing Routines - Classroom Poster

If you ask any kindergarten teacher, what is the most important thing you teach in the beginning of the year, it will most likely be - classroom routines. These little ones enter kindergarten with their beautiful eyes wide open, often not knowing what to expect or how to behave. It is up to us to teach, and teach, and then reteach our routines and daily expectations. A friend of mine who teaches in the upper grades once laughed when I told her how long it takes me to teach them how to hang things up in their cubbies and how to get their supplies. "You have to teach them that???" she asked.  Oh yes, I do and not just once!

One of the biggest transitions in our school day happens right when they enter the classroom. That time when they all stagger into the room. Some are putting away coats, others are asking for the bathroom, a few have weepy eyes missing mommies, and a few others are wondering why I won't just put their things away for them! I decided to make a poster to hang up in the front of the room. I am going to refer to it every day and point to each part so they remember the steps they need to take to get ready to start our school day.

I know some of your routines may be different, but I will still share it in case you want one to refer to our use as a model. The clip art is from DJ Inkers and Scrappin Doodles. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Great New Picture Book and Writing Activity

Have you ever found a new book and just had to share it??? Well, yesterday my children and I decided to pop into our local bookstore.  It is a small store right in the center of our town and it has the most amazing picture books. As my children were looking through the store, I went straight to my favorite shelf. There, quietly tucked away at the very bottom was a book called "You Are My Wonders" written by Maryann Cusimano Love and Satomi Ichikawa.  Perhaps you already know it, but it was new to me.  It is beautifully written and illustrated and it is perfect for the first day or week of school.

The first two pages read, "I am your teacher, you are my school child. I am your welcome, you are my running wild..."  The book continues in this pattern. It's a wonderful story to use to introduce one another and to discuss our characteristics.

 In the first few weeks of school we are all learning about one another and what makes us all special and unique. Rather than just describing themselves or viewing themselves as students, it would be fun to have them tell us something else about themselves. For example, in our classroom we have soccer players, ballerinas, scientists, sidewalk chalk artists, etc. The sheet below can be used to create a class book after you read this book. On the line, they can write a word to describe themselves.  This may be tricky in the beginning of the year, so you may need to brainstorm some ideas as a whole class before you send them off to write. Our little one are often timid to write in the beginning, so any encouragement is fantastic!

Although I found this book in my local book store, it is also available online and in most large book stores. Enjoy!

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Using First Names During Writing Workshop

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
First, wahoo!!!!  I made it to 300+ followers. Thank you so much dear blog friends! I will be hosting a giveaway soon to celebrate this awesome milestone. So make sure you check back!!!

Now onto the blog post...

As I have discussed in previous posts, our first names can be really useful learning tools in every subject area. They are especially great to use in the beginning of the year. I went to a workshop years ago, and the presenter told us how to make an alphabet name chart for our students. I thought that this was a great idea and I make one every year.

You basically make a grid, one square per letter. Then, you type in the first names of all of your students in the proper letter square on the chart (first letter of first name).  I give each student an alphabet chart to keep in their writing folders and they stay in the folders for the entire year. We use first names to write letters to our friends,  include them in the stories we write, make lists, to label illustrations, etc. My first grade colleagues place the students' first names on the word wall, too. There are so many possibilities!

I made a few versions of the grid. The first grid is a blank pdf version (you would have to write in the names), the second is my model with names already in it, and the third is a word doc that you can alter. Enjoy!

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Friday, August 3, 2012

September At-Home Project and Take Home Bag

September is such an exciting month - that's when we go back to school here in NY.  We not only meet our new students, but their families also!

My first at-home project is a family album or scrapbook. I send home a letter to the parents describing the project and a sheet for the families to use to create their special page. I usually send the project home the first week of school and I give them about a week to complete it. Then, each child shares his or her page with the whole class. Once all of the children have shared, I compile the pages into a binder.  I use a binder with a clear insert on the front and slide in the cover page. I also put a directions page in it so the parents understand what they should do with their child. Finally, I place a few "comments' pages in the back.

Every child has a chance to bring the family album home and the families can look through the album together. I ask them to see if they can find things they may have in common with the other families. Then, they can add a short comment in the back of the album. I place the album in a canvas bag along with some books about families. Once all of the families have had a turn to look through our album, I place it in our classroom library.

One more thing...make sure you make a page for yourself. The teacher's family page is usually the most popular part of the album. The children love to see our families, pets, hobbies, etc. We are actually real people who live outside of the school!

This can now be found in my new packet on TPT!

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

I Can Follow The Rules! New Emergent Reader

I just finished my latest emergent reader! This book is called, "I Will Follow The Rules!" It reviews basic classroom rules, like raising your hand, listening, sharing, etc. The clip art is by My Cute Graphics. Please stop by my TPT store to take a look!

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Magnet Board Freebie

Hi everyone! I just created a beginning of the year activity for my classroom magnet board and thought I would share it with all of you! It reviews beginning sounds for different school supplies. If you do not have a magnet board in your classroom, you can use cookie sheets as fun, portable magnet boards!

I actually turned the back of two filing cabinets into my magnet board. I put some colorful contact paper on them and it is now a very colorful magnet board!

Have a great day! Be sure to check back soon, I am working on a daily five anchor chart freebie for all of you!

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