Thursday, October 31, 2013

One year later...

It's here, it's here!  I started on my blogging adventure about 1 year ago!!  I have loved being a part of the blogging community.  I have gained so many new friends I wouldn't have met otherwise.  Plus, I've enjoyed hearing from followers like you!

 To celebrate I am throwing a HUGE giveaway! 

It is so big that I had to divide it into four separate giveaways!

All 4 winners will get a $10 TPT gift card from me as well as some awesome prizes!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

A HUGE thank you to all my bloggy buddies who donated to my giveaway!  Also, thanks to Dancing Crayons for the cute numbers and to The Enlightened Elephant for the frame.

Also, my TPT store is on sale until the end of the weekend!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Guided Reading: Part 1

A few short years ago I would typically start guided reading in the spring (March or maybe April).  No judging please!!  I really didn't think I could do much in terms of reading groups until then.  I cringe at that now :( 

Last year our school said that kinders needed to start guided reading in January.  We also got  a guided reading room so at least I had some resources to work with.  I was amazed at how much progress my kiddos made! 

This year I am proud to say that my guided reading groups have been in full swing for a few weeks now!!  Why did I start even earlier? 

Fountas and Pinnell (our school's guided reading guide) has said that kinders should be at a level D by the end of the year.  

My first thought was:  D?????? 

You MUST be crazy!!
 After a week or so of whining I figured I better get going!  I helped facilitate a book club in August where we dived into the Next Step in Guided Reading and got everything ready.  Here are some tips that have helped me. 

 I am using Jan's lesson planning sheets and her letters/sounds checklist (can you see it in the first bin on the left??).  I record the letters and sounds known for each group member on one side and then put the lesson plan in the other side of the sleeve.  I can quickly glance at these charts to figure out what letters I should focus on with each group.  The book can slide right in which makes lesson planning at home very easy to do.

  Jan does talks a lot about ways of working with letters and sounds.  After some brainstorming we came up with these trays.  I took a cookie sheet, put in the alphabet chart (I got mine from Lori Rosenberg's Learning Letter Sounds Pack) on top and then covered it with contact paper.  

I got my packs of magnet letters here.   I love that the vowels and consonants are different colors.

Anyway, when we want to "mix and fix" they bring up the letters they need and go to work.

My last tip has been a MAJOR time saver.  If you are familiar with Jan's book, you know that almost every lesson includes picture sorts.  The thought of trying to organize all those pictures made my head spin.  I bought some cheap baseball card organizers and put my pictures in there.  I admit that at first my cards slid right out.  I thought it was a big fail but then my love affair with washi tape paid off.  A little strip of tape at the top of each slot prevented the cards from coming out until I need them.

I also finally found a use for my little pocket chart.  I put all the cards I'll need for the day (I meet with 3 groups a day) on the top of the chart until I need them.

How do you organize guided reading?  I'd love to hear!!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Creepy Carrots...again!

Last spring I fell in love with the book Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds.  Part of the reason was this video...

It is PERFECT for talking about all things illustrations related!  I blogged about this book before here.  I used it during my planting unit last year BUT since we don't celebrate Halloween in my school, I wanted to use it now since it is so creepy!

For only $2 my pack includes the craftivity, writing prompt and a fun CVC game my kids LOVE!  To snag it, click here!

Also, thank you to everyone who volunteered to help my celebrate my 1 year blogiversary!  I'm overwhelmed by the response and soooo grateful!  Stayed tuned for my BIG giveaway!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Road trip and a Blogiversary

 Guess who I met this weekend?  Give up?  The one and only Deanna Jump!  I heard from my bloggy friends Amber and LuAnn from

Kindergarten Rocks

that Deanna was headed to Neenah, WI for the Wisconsin Kindergarten Association fall conference. 
Then, I checked with my bloggy friend Erin from It's Owl Good in Kindergarten and found out that she was going too.

Road Trip!

Here we are!  One of the best parts is that Deanna sat at my table for lunch.  She is so sweet and smart.
After coming home I saw she is coming to the Minnesota Kindergarten Association spring conference this year along with Eric Litwin of Pete the Cat fame.  Sounds like a date to me!

In other news, I completely missed my One Year Blogiversary!  I decided it was better late than never so I'm planning a big celebration!  If you would like to be a part of it, please fill out the form.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Science, Pigeons and Hot Dogs...Oh My!

Today was one of my favorite days of the entire year!  It was our third annual HOT DOG PARTY today!  We have spent the last 3 weeks reading books by my favorite author Mo Willems.  For our big finale we all make these adorable pigeon hats and head down to our cafeteria.  We eat hot dogs and watch 

This year was the best party yet because I have a parent who owns REAL pigeons!  They brought them in to show the kids.  It was pretty cool!

Last, but not least, Mo's new book came out today.  It was delivered to my house today and since my sweet husband was working from home, he drove the book to my school.  I was so excited to read it to my kiddos!  

In other news, I heard from a couple people they were interested in seeing what I do for
 Mad Science Mondays.  I put it all together for my newest product...
This pack includes directions for an entire year of Mad Science Monday experiments that are themed.  The themes are: 
September-School Rules & Tools
October-Apples, Fire, Pumpkins, Monsters
November-Five Senses
December-Gingerbread & Holidays
January-Winter & Space
February-Earth & Valentines' Day
March-Farms, St. Patrick's Day & Weather
April-Plants & Weather
May-Sun & Summer

The sheet can be simply used as directions for you OR you can send home the sheet at the end of each month so that families can have fun playing scientist at home.  The pack also includes a recording sheet that takes kids through the steps of the scientific method. 

As a bonus, the experiments match our science targets for kindergarten.  These are Minnesota's targets:

I can describe and compare with others the weather around me.
I can sort objects by human made and those found in nature.
I can sort objects by color, size, shape and texture and explain why.
I can record the weather and notice the changes.
I can identify the sun as a source of heat and light.
I can observe and compare plants and animals.
I can identify the parts of plants and animals including humans.
I can sort living and nonliving things.
I can name and describe living and nonliving things in it’s natural environment.
You can check it out on TPT here.

Still reading?  Leave a comment with favorite Mo Willems book or favorite science experiment to do with kids and I'll give away A Year of Mad Science tomorrow night.  Don't forget to leave your e-mail address, too!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Mondays, Fridays and a Writing Freebie

I am loving Mondays this year!  Weird, I know but for good reason.  This year I implemented Mad Science Mondays!  Each Monday we do a science experiment that matches our theme.  The kids LOVE it!  Then I saw an idea on First Grade in Foxwell Forest for making our own lab coats out of white T-shirts.  So much fun!  We made them the other day by cutting down the front (from next to waist).  Then they wrote their name and the word Scientist on the back.
Aren't they cute?!  My kids can't wait to wear them each Monday! 

I am also loving Fridays!  We have a cart of iPads in our school loaded with good apps.  I check it out each Friday for an hour.  
Here are some of our favorite apps...


We have rocked the Daily Five this year!  It took only 3 days to reach our stamina goal of 10 minutes.  Then, we mastered Word Work in 3 days.  Listen to Reading was a breeze.  I most recently introduced Work on Writing.  I am trying something new this year and am really liking it.
I have 6 bins for Work on Writing.  Kids can use their writing notebooks to write what they want.  I used clear packing tape to attach their name card to the inside.  I ask them to write their name using the model on the top of the page they are working on.  I used clear packing tape to attach the card so they can flip the name card to the right page. 
 Then they are ready to write.
Each bin has the fabulously FREE cards from Kindergarten Smiles

I also made this card for my kids.

I haven't offered a freebie for awhile so you can get your own card for FREE by clicking on the picture.  It is also editable so you can enter the names of your kiddos in the box "our class."  I printed 6 of them on card stock and put them in a page protector.  Kids can write these words in their notebooks.

I wanted something else for the bins so I am also using the Deedee's Writing Word Stations.

So far I've just introduced lists and labeling, but my kids love it!  What do you put in your Work On Writing tubs?  I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Currently-October Edition!

Yay!  It's that time again!

Time to link up with Farley again!

Listening:  I know Tosh.O is for immature teenage boys BUT I can't help it.  I like to watch while working on school stuff.  Anyone else?

Loving:  Today was day 20 and I can finally look around and REALLY love them!  They get what school is all about now.  We had our trip to the apple orchard today and I was looking at them on the wagon ride thinking, "They are a great group!"  This is going to be a fun year!

Thinking:  That being said, I am looking forward to a couple of days off.  Minnesota has a teacher convention that schools give us time off to go to.  I don't go and instead spend some time with my girls.  After being with them all day/every day this summer, I miss them!

Wanting:  I've told you how much I love JT (Justin Timberlake).  I want his new CD but haven't made it to the store yet.  I saw him on Ellen though and I could really dance to his new songs.

Needing:  I have to have a sub on Friday afternoon for a parent meeting.  I am bummed because I'll miss our homecoming pep fest but it makes for some easy plans.  Anyone want to write them for me though?

Trick!  I have started using Evernote for my writing conferencing.  It is a FREE app that allows you to make a note for each kid on anything you want.  I love that I can snap a photo of their writing and add my comments while talking to them.  Plus, I can access my notes from my computer, phone and iPad. 

 Your turn!  Link up with your Currently!