Saturday, June 30, 2012

Today's the Day! Blog Swap and Hop!

Kindergarten KornerHi everyone!  Today is the day!  Thanks for stopping by.  :)
You can find me at Mrs. Shelton's Kindergarten Korner for today's Swap and Hop!  Make sure and visit me (and grab your freebie!) right after you read sweet Holly's post below!
Thanks, Holly, for swapping spots with me today! 

Hey Everybody! It's Holly from Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade! If you could see me now, you'd see just how excited {and out of shape, and in need of highlights, and how ugly my toes, why didn't I get that pedi before I wrote this?!?} I am to be blog swapping with Mary here at Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives!!

 Mary hasn't put one iota of pressure on me to be creative or perfect or funny or witty or anything - she's been such a gracious hostess so I hope I do her proud!!! I've been out of school for about two weeks and I'm already thinking about starting next school year off with a bang. I know I'm not the only one!  What is it about us teachers?  You just can't turn off our thinking caps.  Sure, we know how to catch some rays and read a good book {or two, or three...because this is when we catch up on our reading} but you just can't turn off, even for the summer, our "inner teacher"! If you're like me you find yourself reflecting on the school year that just flew by.  For some of us it was wonderful - for others.... <wink, wink>...  No matter what kind of year you had, you like to start the next one off by educating your parent population on what their children will learn that year through some sort of parent event; maybe an open house or a curriculum night.  Sharing what you'll be teaching their little ones is important - but so is building a rapport with those super important members of your village {Mom, Dad or Other}.  At my school we host a Curriculum Night.  It's at this time that we try to cram a years worth of content into an hour event.  I create a packet for my parents that includes a brief overview of what their children will learn, classroom procedural stuff, and of course - what teacher would overlook the "cute factor"?!? Starting off the year on the right {preferrably pedicured} foot - making that solid first impression {or living up to whatever reputation you might already have!} is mighty important.  My husband, who is also a teacher, just doesn't get the need for cuteness....he's a middle school teacher + guy so maybe that's why.  He's always rolling his eyes at my number of visits to the Target Dollar Spot or sighing at the amount of printer ink I go through! I just know you all get it...cuteness is in our very our teacher-blood!!  Am I right? Let me hear an "Oh Yeah!" Cuteness aside, {for just a moment} it's also crucial to get that important information out there to your parents/guardians in a streamlined fashion.  You want to get the most bang for your buck in terms of what you consider to be most important, while you have that captive audience sitting in those little desks {does that not make you chuckle to see a dad sitting in a little kid chair?!?!}. I have a packet at my TpT store that will help organize yourself and know just what information to share.

Click the picture to check it out on TpT!
Here's a freebie from that packet!  I hope you find it useful!!!!
Click on the picture to get your own!
Clipart: Scrappin' Doodles Border: From The Pond

I mount this on construction or butcher paper and then laminate.  Write down several wish list items on smaller sticky notes and place them on and all around the tree.  If there's an item on The Giving Tree that a parent would like to donate to your class, they simply take the sticky note home with them.  You may want to type up a list of the items you put on the sticky notes just in case a parent takes a sticky but forgets to send in the item.  That way you can remember what you wished for!!! 
Thank you so very, very much for the warm welcome!!!!  I hope you continue to have a great go back to that lemonade of yours! {Right after you check out all the other blogs that have swapped! Hee hee!}

Looking for Mrs. Lirette?  You can find her posting {HERE} today!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sensory, Swap and Hop, and Skippyjon!

Hi! I've got 3 quick things to share with you tonight.

First of all, I guest blogged today for Jeannie at Kindergarten Lifestyle. It's all about sensory activities. And you know I don't travel without offering a freebie.... :) I hope you will stop by her blog and check it out.  Comments are always welcome!

Secondly, I'm taking part in a pretty huge blog swapping party on Saturday. It's going to be so much fun!  I can't tell you just yet who will be taking over my blog...or where I will be...because it is a surprise!  I can tell you that I would highly recommend blocking out some time on Saturday to "hop" from blog to blog.  I'm sure there will be LOADS of good information and free downloads! {wink wink}

One last thing.  Kohl's is offering Skippyjon Jones books and plush characters as part of their Kohl's Cares Program.  I LOVE Skippyjon!!  Check out your local Kohl's Store or shop online.  I'm sure these will go super quick!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Pictures and In Words: Ch.1-6 Reflections

Deedee at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten is hosting a fabulous book study on Katie Wood Ray's In Pictures and in Words.  It just started at the end of last week so it's not too late to join in with us.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading the first section of this book (ch. 1-6). Here are a few of my thoughts as I reflect back on what I've read:

Ch. 1: Why Illustration Study Matters to the Development of Young Writers
  • The act of making picture books can be considered as developmentally appropriate play!  
    • I love how the author brings in the NAEYC's statement about the importance of play in regards to promoting language, social, and cognitive development. (p.10)
  •  How many times have I asked a child to read me his sentence and he has no idea what it says?  Katie reminds us that detailed pictures serve as cues for written text. (p.13) 
  • Book making results in "a process of constant decision making." (p. 14) 
  • It is important to understand how "both writing and drawing are acts of meaning making- they are simply generated with different composition tools." (p. 15) 
  • Using pictures supports multiliteracy learning which is necessary for the 21st century. (p. 17) 
    • (I really loved how Katie related this to multimodal learning because that is exactly what my grad school classes have been focusing on for the last 2 semesters!)
Ch. 2: Building Stamina for Writing by Supporting Children's Work as Illustrators
  • Stamina.  There's that word again.  Do you remember reading about it in Daily 5 last week too?  Obviously building stamina is really important.
  • I absolutely loved reading about the cover page of Thomas' Bakugan book. (p. 31) It is so easy to get frustrated when a child takes for.e.ver on one the point where the rest of the class has moved on and little Johnny is still working on the first part.  Sound familiar?  
  •   Invite your students to "make" books rather than "write" books. (p. 33)
Ch. 3: Writing and Illustrating as Parallel Composing Processes
  • Teachers do not need to begin by teaching "the writing process" because "these aren't steps writers follow, they're just names for kinds of things (sometimes lots of kinds of things) that happen along the way when writers write." (p. 39)
    • Note to self- I will be re-doing my writing process bulletin board to reflect that a writer can bounce back and forth between the stages and does not have to follow the steps in order. 
  •  Make the process deeper by showing students new ways "they might decide to do things." (p. 42)
    • Offer new possibilities while still fostering the child's decision making process.
  • Color plays a huge role in the decision making process. Love the dress example! (p. 45)
Ch. 4: Teaching an Essential Habit of Mind
  • It is important to refer to an illustrator by name. (p. 63)
    • This brings attention to the decision-making process of the illustrator.
  • Find a picture of the author and illustrator to display during the study so that these people become more than just names.  Build a connection! (p. 65) 
  • Think aloud about the illustrations "to show children how everything they notice about illustrations can easily become something they might imagine doing themselves." (p. 65)
Ch. 5: Learning Qualities of Good Writing From Illustration Techniques
  • I love the idea of comparing the tone in illustration of different books.  Especially books by the same author like the ones Katie mentions in this chapter by Nicola Davies. (p. 67, 70)
  • Talk about your higher-order thinking skills!  What a great idea to play around with revising text to drive the point home about the tone in illustrations.  There's a great example of this using those same books by Nicola Davies on p. 71.
Ch. 6: The Writing Workshop
  • An illustration study is a must!  It "almost immediately raises the level of thinking and decision making children engage in as they make books." (p. 78)
  • Students must be "active cocreators" in a unit of study. (p. 79)
    • Gather a collection of books for an illustration study and let the students find examples of illustrating techniques to explore.
    • Chart your findings!
I can't wait to get into section 2 of Katie's book so I can really get a basis of different illustration techniques.  She has offered a lot of great examples of books to use in the first few chapters.  Here's one she talks about in which she focuses on the illustrator's choice of "zooming in" for close-ups. (p. 63)
Here's one that I think is a great example of telling a story primarily through pictures.
This book is the first one that came to mind (probably because it's a favorite of my 3 year old.)

I'm going to be on the lookout for more books to use for illustration studies.  Anyone already doing illustration studies in their class?  Any favorite books come to mind for showcasing illustration techniques?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Drum-Roll Please!!

I want to thank EVERYONE who entered my giveaway this past weekend for the Programmable Literacy Maps & Posters for Workstations! Because I had such a huge response, I'd like to say thank you by making it 25% off for the next 36 hours!  Click an image below to grab your own discounted copy through noon on Tuesday!

Drum-roll please....Congrats to the following 3 winners!
a Rafflecopter giveawayI e-mailed you ladies the packet earlier this morning to the address you provided on the rafflecopter.  Let me know if you didn't get it for some reason!

In other news, we had a fabulous FB Party last night!  I hope you were able to make it to the fantastic blogs that participated!  In case you missed it, you can still grab my latest freebie.  Click the pic to download.
Also, I forgot to tell you that I guest blogged for my friend Kerri on Saturday.  My post was about one of my very favorite resources for teaching letter recognition, sounds, and formation.  Make sure to check it out!
Ms. Kerri and Her Krazy Kindergarten

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Facebook Posting Party {FREEBIE!}

Make sure you stop by my facebook page {HERE} to see the list of wonderful blogs to check out!

If you are currently on the blog hop and are seeing my page for the first time...WELCOME!  This blog is all about sharing ideas for the K-2 classroom.  I hope you will take a look around and choose to become a follower of my blog and facebook page if you like what you see!  Make sure to download my brand new Rhyme Time Robots for free while you are here!  Just click on the picture below!

You can pick up a few more freebies of mine on the Fabulous Freebies page of my blog {HERE.}

Also, you are just in time for my giveaway!  I'm giving away 3 copies of my Programmable Literacy Maps & Posters for Workstations.  The giveaway ends tonight at midnight!!  Get the details and enter {HERE.}

Thanks so much for stopping by! :)

Friday, June 22, 2012

New Things, a Giveaway, & Guest Post Freebies!

This week has been super busy!  Aside from a couple of outings, I've mostly just been hanging around the house.  Let me tell can get loads of things done in your pajamas! Don't you just love summer time?  Most importantly...I managed to get my house clean! Floors vacuumed, laundry done, toys organized, the works.  {insert applause} Here's what else I've been up to:

Remember that whole copyright scare with Scrappin Doodle's adorable Seuss graphics?  Well I finally redid my Seusstacular Roll and Cover {Free} and my It's Time for You Know Who telling time activity.  I swapped out the old graphics for the new acceptable ones.

I also completed a new Rock, Paper, Scissors game.  I received a request for a telling time version a few weeks ago and just now was able to get around to making it.
With all of the Daily 5 buzz this summer I got to thinking about my literacy stations.  I organize the movement of my students with what I call "literacy maps."  What I love about these maps is that it allows my literacy stations to be grouped heterogeneously while keeping my guided groups homogeneous.  You can have up to 6 guided groups or as little as you choose.   I usually have 4 guided groups while leaving 2 of the rotations open for reader's and writer's workshop mini-conferences.  I do not use the official Daily 5 workstation names.  I've renamed them a bit.  I wanted to be able to share my literacy maps and the signs that go with them with you but I realized that other people may not want to call their stations the same names as me. Sooo.....I managed to create editable pdfs so that you can label them as you please!  The packet contains my version and the editable ones!

I've decided to give away 3 copies of my Programmable Literacy Maps & Posters for Workstations.  You can enter with the Rafflecopter below.  This giveaway will end on Sunday at midnight and I'll announce the winners on Monday.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway One last thing.  Make sure to stop by Mrs. Stanford's Class today for my guest post.  You can pick up my latest Roll and Cover game while you are there!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Spelling City!

Hi Friends, 

Denise here from Sunny Days. Thanks so much to my blog buddy Mrs. Lirette for allowing me to guest post today. I've been working closely with Spelling City over the last few months to explore the wealth of resources available to teachers and students. I've been so impressed with everything I've found and I'm thrilled to be able to share some with you today!

Let's focus on ways that you can use Spelling City, even with your littlest learners.
Here's a little picture tutorial that will guide you through the free content available to you!

Be sure to check out all of the other great content waiting for you at Spelling City and if you ever have any questions, I'd be happy to help the best I can. Enjoy, my friends!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Daily 5- Ch. 2 Reflections

Thanks to my sweet friend Caitlin at Kindergarten Smiles for hosting ch. 2 of the Daily 5 Book Study for Kindergarten!  
She posted some great reflection questions. 
 Here are my thoughts:
1. Do you trust your students? How do you build this trust? Are you able to trust them and allow them to be independent throughout all aspects of your day? Are you going to be able to stay out of their way?
When it comes to stations (literacy and math)- yes!  I have learned that you have to trust your kiddos if you ever plan on accomplishing anything in small group or conferences!  It's a hard thing to get used to...especially if you are all about control like me.  I remember my very first year teaching when I was so afraid to take my eyes off of my students who were at various stations around the room.  Looking back on it now, I'm sure the kids at the table with me thought I was nuts because I was listening and talking to them but I was constantly scanning the rest of the room at the same time.  I'm sure I looked ultra paranoid.  :)  Yep, there is a picture of me and my "wandering eyes" during a guided reading lesson....
Luckily, I've learned to relax a little and trust my students to stay engaged, on-task, and productive.  Am I able to stay out of their way?  Definitely.  Station time is the only time of the day when I am not on my feet.  I feel super lazy during out literacy block because I plop myself in my rolling chair at my guided table and literally do not get up until the block is over.  They do their work and I get to meet with all of my kiddos during small group daily.  How do you build this trust?  I think it goes right back to modeling and practicing.  Plus, trust and respect go hand in hand.  We treat each other as family in my room and these things usually just come naturally.  That's not always the case for every child-of course!  You always have those kiddos that require a little extra relationship-building time.  I reply heavily on the other students in the room the keep those special friends on task!

2. How much choice do you give your students throughout the day? Do you go over your daily schedule with your students or is it just 'posted' in the room?
My daily schedule is posted in the room and we go over it pretty often at the beginning of the year. Usually the kids get the hang of it pretty quick and are able to read it on their own using the pictures for help.  At this point, I keep our schedule posted but most of my kids have internalized our daily routine and we do not need to go over it as a class anymore.  In my classroom, I have found that it is best if we all move together from station to station during our literacy block.  Every child has a "literacy map" that they use to help them know when to go where.  They all visit every station daily, as well as guided small group with me, in the order that appears on their literacy map.  My students are provided with many choices of activities at each station and have the option to work independently or collaboratively with their station members. I know that the the Sisters encourage letting students choose their own station order but this way has worked well for me thus far.

This is how I manage my literacy block in my classroom:
3. How are you going to create that sense of community where students will hold each other accountable?
As I said in my ch. 1 reflection, I am all about anchor charts!  I love creating charts together with my kids about becoming a classroom family. (Sorry I don't have any pics of our charts to post for you...I'll take some this year for sure!)  I use a lot of team building strategies and analogies too.  I compare us to a train a know, the part about how the cars are all connected.  If one car falls off the track it will pull the other ones down we have to all work together to keep everyone on the track!  Believe me, no one wants to be the train car that falls off the track!  And if that happens, thank heavens for the other "cars" that will pull that person right back up again.  :)
4. Student ownership in learning? How do you instill this in every child?
I agree with the Sisters that students need to be given explanations on why they are being asked to complete certain things.  I think it is very important for children to understand the importance in even small tasks.  I try my best to shy away from "busy work" so my kids learn quick that if I ask them to do something, there is a meaningful purpose behind it. I want them to take this approach in everything they do as well.  If they are going to take the time to do something- whether it be a creative writing piece or a word work activity- they need to think about what they are gaining from the experience and put forth their best effort.  This is one reason why I love having "I Can' statements in my station areas.  They serve as reminders of learning goals and help keep my kids on track.
5. Stamina! How are you going to build stamina with reading? independent work? Will you use a timer? Will you set goals?
Ok.  Confession.  I really never think about stamina when it comes to my kid's reading or work!  I just kind of do what feels right if that makes sense.  Obviously, we start out with a smaller chunk of time for each station in the beginning and build up as the weeks go by.  I can't really pin it down to an exact amount of time or framework...I just go with the flow.  I do not use a timer but do try and keep an eye on my classroom clock so I don't lose track of time.  Having my guided groups really helps me because when we finish our activity it is usually about time for the class to rotate.  I always meet with my lowest level of learners first.  I tend to work a little longer with them because I am usually trying to do some remediation and introduce new skills at the same time.  It usually works out, though, because the rest of the kiddos seem to enjoy a little extra time to get themselves going in their first station.  (We start literacy stations first thing and I promise you some of my littles aren't even awake yet!  The extra minutes help them get their brains going...that's my theory and I'm stickin' to it!)

Next week we are heading back to Tammy's blog for ch. 3!
Don't forget to check out the Pinterest board for great ideas:
Also, stop by and see what wonderful ideas are being shared at the Primary Daily 5 book studies HERE and HERE.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Giveaway and Some Guest Blogging Freebies

Congrats to my friend Erin at Eberhart's Explorers! She has reached 1,000 followers on her blog and is having a super fabulous giveaway!  She's offering 11 prizes (including a little something from yours truly!) Click on the picture below to head on over and's easy! :)

In other news you can find me guest blogging about math tubs at Kreative in Kinder today.  Crystal is on vacation and asked that I share some Math Center 101 info with you.

Make sure to grab your "Star Friends" freebies while you are there.

I'm off to attempt some Pinterest-inspired crafts today.  I'll share some pics with you soon. :)