Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fab 5 for Writing...New Additions!

Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingOne of my favorite tools for strengthening writing is my Fab 5 for Writing Checklist.  I love how my kiddos take responsibility for what they put on paper.  By holding themselves accountable for stretching out words, adding capital letters and punctuation, using finger space and re-reading their work, they have truly grown as writers.  Their honesty in their self-evaluation always amazes me!

I use the checklist often with journal writing so I shrank it down to a quarter-size so that it fits nicely in a notebook.  I added the 4-per-page into the file so you have that option now too!

Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing

I had a request to include the posters in a Powerpoint for easy teaching and referral.  I'm not sure why I didn't think to do that originally...sorry!  The slides are there for you to download now!

If you already own it then just go re-download for the new additions.  :)
 If you are interested in the posters, Powerpoint and rubric you can get them (HERE).  
Here are some images for you to see what's included.  :)

Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing
Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing
Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing
Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing

Happy writing! :)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Buggin' Out on Insects!

Spring weather is finally here and we have been taking advantage of it for sure!  With warmer weather comes the perfect time for all things buggy.  We have had a blast observing insects and learning about several different types.  This year we focused mainly on bees, ants, ladybugs, praying mantises, and butterflies.  I wish there was time to cover them all!

Here are a few pictures to sum up our fun.

A photo posted by Mary Lirette (@marylirette) on

I just free styled a bee hive pattern for this and asked my kids to make their own bees to go with it.  We used wax paper for the wings and orange paint daubers to dress up the hives.  The handout came from Lyndsey Kuster's Nonfiction Pack {LOVE!}.

This anchor chart was modeled off of Cara Carroll's here.  Though hers is much better than my quick attempt, this chart definitely had my kids excited about recording ant facts.  :)  You can't learn about ants without reading Hey, Little Ant by Phillip M. Hoose!  I snapped a picture of each kid holding the book and we added it to our opinion writing using the question posed at the end of the book.  My kiddos wanted to add their Fab 5 rubric to it as well since we are working so hard on becoming fabulous writers!

Last Friday we released our butterflies and our ladybugs.  It's amazing how attached we become to our little insects as we watch them go through their life cycles.  We are still waiting on our praying mantis egg case to "hatch" so we can observe the tiny insects before letting them go.

We have been practicing substituting sounds to make new words.  I have had these Word Ladder Caterpillar Cards in one of my morning work drawers and they have been a big hit!  Students use the pictures to change either the beginning, middle or ending sound to make the new word.  There are 40 cards that are color coded by short vowel.  There are mixed vowel cards too that make for great review.  I let my kids put the cards inside of the small dry-erase sleeves but there is a reproducible included for those that need them.

My class really enjoyed learning all about insects from our non-fiction and fiction texts, Let's Find Out Scholastic News magazines, Magic School Bus videos and more.  We wrapped up our unit by making these adorable entomologists from Caitlin at Kindergarten Smiles.  I think they turned out super cute!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Video: Sentence Building in Action with Letters Alive!

Today's sentence building practice is brought to you by... Letters Alive!  There are so many ways you can use this kit and I am still discovering them!  We have been working on capitalization and punctuation as well as sentence order so I thought I would spice up our lesson a little by adding in a some Augmented Reality.  Here's a 2 minute video of part of my lesson.

I love how my kids realized that the sentence could be a telling sentence OR an asking sentence.  I totally meant to do that.  ;)

This is the Fab 5 we use to check our work with (mentioned in the above video):
Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing
Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for WritingStudent Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing
Student Friendly Writing Checklist Fab 5 for Writing
If you are interested in the posters and rubric you can get them {HERE}. can check out a previous post where one of my students takes on sentence building with the Letters Alive kit {HERE}.
Also, here's a video from the beginning of the year that explains a little more about the kit.  By the way, these kits are available through a Donors Choose project now too!

I love having this available to enhance my lessons.  Last week I had a few visitors stop by for a tour and I happened to be using my kit when they walked in.  They were amazed by the Augmented Reality and how well my kids responded to it!

There are many more videos of Letters Alive in action that you can view {here} on the Alive Studios website.  Make sure to explore their site for more information!

    Sunday, April 3, 2016

    Got Eggs? Let's Skip Count!

    I realize that Easter is over but we are still using plastic eggs in my room! There are just too many ways to utilize them in the classroom!  Last Thursday we conducted a small-scaled egg hunt inside the class during math time.  Common Core asks that our kindergartners be able to fluently count by ones and tens so I wanted to give my students a fun way to skip count (and sequence!). I revised the "Find Those Eggs!" freebie to include a skip counting by 10 checklist.  It still has the even/odd pages for those that can use it!  I asked for donations of leftover eggs and received exactly 200 eggs!  Perfect for 20 sets of 10-100!  I spent about 30 minutes numbering the eggs and then scattered them around the room.  No baskets this year....I just gave my students a Ziploc bag and the checklist and had them search for each one of the numbers 10, 20, 30....100.  It's amazing how quiet they are as they concentrate to find those specific eggs! 
    Once they collected all 10 of their eggs I asked them to sequence the numbers in order.  This little fellow asked if he could arrange his eggs in a circle instead of a line.  LOVE it! Another Common Core skill that took this activity to a new level.  Thanks to him my future kinders will be sequencing their eggs for me in more than one way! :)

    Download the checklists for FREE by clicking {here} or the image below.

    Wednesday, March 30, 2016

    Base 10! Finding Hidden Partners

    We have been busy, busy with base 10!  For any number 1-9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number.  (Sound familiar?  CCSS K.OA.4)  We have needed a good deal of practice on this skill so I have tried to incorporate activities that are a little more fun.

    Here is a snapshot of 2 of my kiddos playing "Hidden Partners."  One person breaks their stick of 10 in half and hides one part behind his/her back.  The other student looks at the given part and tries to guess the hidden part so that they equal 10 when put together.  I have really encouraged "Math Talk" with this because I want to hear my students verbalizing their part-part-whole as well as the number sentence.  This helps us with addition too! :)
    {Click to play a 10 second video clip.}
    A video posted by Mary Lirette (@marylirette) on

    "Rainbow Bonds" have also been a huge hit with our morning work drawers this month.  The station activity is part of my Clovers, Rainbows and Leprechauns! Oh My! ELA and Math pack.

    Here are some great websites for free practice on the computer:
    Combine balls to make 10
    Enter the number that is empty to build 10
    Find number pairs that equal 10 (must be touching!)
    I hope these ideas help you with base 10 practice in your classroom! :)

    Monday, March 28, 2016

    A Glipse into Our Class Seesaw! {FREE APP!}

    Have you heard of Seesaw?  It is amazing and FREE!  It has taken "student-led learning" to a new level in my classroom this year.  My kiddos are encouraged to grab one of our class iPads and document their learning (or a friend's learning!) throughout the day.  This has really pushed my students to use their words to explain and describe their learning process.  We still have a ways to go but they have made tremendous progress!
    Here is a video one of my students made about his morning work station activity:
    I love it when my learners decide to document another student's work like in the video below:
    (She's working on creating real and nonsense words from my Clovers, Rainbows & Leprechauns! Oh My! EL and Math pack!)

    As you know it's nearly impossible to see everyone's work as it is happening.  That's another reason why I love this app! I can sit on my couch in the evening and look through the day's feed to see the end products of some of those activities I missed earlier in the day.  I just ask my students to snap a pic for me on Seesaw and then I can look over it at my convenience.  I do this often with fluency practice!  Kids record their voices reading and I can listen to it later.  Here's an example of CVC word building that one of my girls did last week.

    It takes only a few minutes to set up your class on the app.  You can choose to approve items before they are published which I recommend!  You invite parents to sign up for their child's account as well and they can receive notifications when their child has posted a new picture, video, audio file, etc.  A fantastic way to improve your parent communication! I LOVE having a digital portfolio for each student!  There is so much to explore with this app and it is easy to get started.  You can visit the Seesaw website {here} for more information and to get started.  I can't wait to use this in new ways in my room and share it with you soon! :)

    Wednesday, March 23, 2016

    Hippity Hoppity Spring! {3 FREEBIES!}

    Spring has sprung!  I'm out on Spring Break this week so I am saving a few of my favorite activities for when we return next week.  Even though Easter will have already happened, I will still be focusing next week on oviparous animals.  There will be several bunny-themed stations as well! :)

    Have you ever had a class egg hunt?  They are loads of fun!  Because we are on break leading up to Easter, I plan to do this on a much smaller scale this year.  That's one thing I love about a class egg hunt- you can modify it easily!
     Here is what I have done in the past:

    I usually ask each of my students to bring in 1 dozen plastic eggs.  I like them pre-filled and taped shut (less work for me!).  I encourage my kiddos to fill the eggs with small, cheap trinkets, coins, etc.  It does not necessarily have to be candy! As I receive the eggs from each student I number them and collect them in a big bucket.  Number them?  Yes I do!  At this point in the year we are learning to skip count by 2's.  So...I usually number everyone's eggs, skip counting from 0-20.  This only uses 11 eggs so I set aside the 12th egg in case I have students who do not bring any in.  Everyone's extras will give me at least one complete extra set.  I number the eggs myself so that they are all legible and written correctly.  It is important to note that all of these eggs are combined together so the likelihood of a child finding any/all of those 12 eggs that they originally brought in is slim.  Everyone will get 11 eggs...just a mod-podge of eggs from different classmates.  You could differentiate this activity by asking some students to find the odd numbered eggs.  This also works well if you have kids with allergies and you want to make sure you are in control of which eggs they are finding!

    Once all of the eggs have been collecting and numbered, we get 5th grade student ambassadors to "hide" them in our field by the playground.  Then armed with their clipboard (optional), pencil, basket or bucket from home and their checklist (download below) we set out to find those eggs!

    Here's my favorite part.  This is not your typical mad dash for eggs!  Everyone is specifically looking for one of each number to add to their basket and check off on their handout.  That means this event does not end up being a mad grab and dash like some traditional egg hunts.  Actually, I'm always quite amazed at how hard the kids concentrate to find their eggs!  Once they have checked off each of their numbers, I ask my students to find a spot to sit down and put those eggs in number order.  More math! :)  Here is a video from last year:
    A video posted by Mary Lirette (@marylirette) on
    This turns out to be a big hit each year!  I'm happy because I'm able to incorporate academics into a seasonal activity and the kids are happy because they have a blast!

    Download the checklists for FREE by clicking {here} or the image below.

    We will be working on these stations throughout the week as well!

    You can grab all 7 of these stations {here}.  Make sure to download this activity for FREE by clicking the picture below or {here}.  I hope you like it!, we will be incorporating this month's Roll and Cover games to go along with the Old Lady book series!  Download all 3 versions of the game {here}: rolling 1 die, finding the sum of 2 dice, finding the sum of 3 dice.  My kiddos love playing these games independently or with a partner.  We usually use two-sided counters for partner play.  However, it's Spring so my kiddos will have the option of using adorable seasonal erasers from Target's Dollar Spot.  Love those little chicks, bunnies and carrots!
     If you are looking for the book make sure and visit the link below:

    I have Roll and Cover games for most all of the books in this series.  Make sure and check out the "Free Roll and Cover Game" section of my Tpt store!

    Hoppy Spring! :)