Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It-Retelling Cookie Sheet

It is official, back to school is upon us!  For some of you it may have already begun, while for others of us we are starting to get back in that groove of creating and planning. 

I will be linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics to share with you my first ever Monday Made It!


Since my two conferences, I have been sifting through notes and handouts full of ideas and really trying to determine what will enhance my owls' learning this school year.  Now, keep in mind, there are many things that I want to improve on, but I am just going to focus on what I feel is a "HUGE" one today. 

I really want to embrace retelling stories this year and I want to get it rolling right away.  In the past, I was one of those teachers that waited until the owls were comfortable with books and would slowing bring in this idea of retelling using whatever picture cards the curriculum provided.  B-O-R-I-N-G!  No wonder my owls looked at me with a blank stare and why I wanted to scream and rip my hair out.  With the help of the Common Core conference, my barely lit light bulb flashed on and quickly erupted into an explosion of sparks.  The word "novelty" was a big buzz word and really got me thinking, how can I hook my owls into retelling?

Right away, that loveable little cat, you know the blue one that has some pretty sweet shoes, popped into my head.  I mean what little owl doesn't love a book that you can read and sing?  Besides my little owls loving this book, my son ADORES the book as well.  He was singing this book all the time, so I decided to put a little learning fun into it for him.  With this in mind, developed the following project...


Polka Dot Background by Ashley Hughes
I am aware that the shoes are quite large compared to the cat, but the thought behind that is I will be using this early on in the school year and I know that moving laminated objects, especially small ones can be frustrating.  Once I see those fine motor skills improving, I will down size those shoes.
I hope that this helps you to get those retelling ideas started.  Please make sure to head over to 4th Grade Frolics to see what others have made.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Too Much to Process and a Freebie!

I think that I am finally getting back into the swing of being home and keeping up with my silly little man.  (Side note-I have been napping like nobody's business since I got home!)

To say that I Teach K! in Las Vegas was amazing would be a huge understatement.  I really do not think there is a word to describe how this conference was for me.  I learned so much that my mind is still spinning and met so many great people.  Here are a couple of my favorite pictures from the trip-

Picture was taken while we were walking the strip.  Keep in mind the emptiness of the street was a rare sight to see.  We took complete advantage of the calm during the day!

The beautiful view outside of the Mirage.

The sessions I attended were fantastic and allowed me to see that I am doing a lot of things correctly already, but did offer suggestions on how to improve those things.  I also gained a ton of new knowledge on the Common Core and interventions.

After I got home from Las Vegas, I turned around and headed down to Chicago for a 3 day workshop on the Common Core Standards.  Let me tell you, I have not even attempted to read through my notes from this.  I learned so much that I am slowly letting everything set in.  Here is my favorite picture from Chicago-
Heidi from Sugar Plum Kindegarten, myself, Kim from KinderGals (leader for the Kindergarten sessions,) and Fran from Kindergarten Crayons.  These ladies were awesome and helped me to feel more confident in my understanding of the Common Core.

I promise that I will have more to share as I get a better hold on everything that I learned.  Until then, please feel free to grab this back to school freebie!

Click on the picture to get your freebie!  Hint-I love comments!-Hint


Sunday, July 14, 2013

You are not going to want to miss this!

Hi all!  I wanted to stop by here real quick before I put the final items in my suitcase, had dinner with my family, and then headed out to Las Vegas.  I feel like a little kid!  I am so excited!

Unfortuantely, I will not be posting while I am away but I can assure you that I will have plenty to share when I return.  :)


Amanda over at Mrs. Pauley's Kindergarten is having a HUGE giveway for reaching 400 followers.  Please click on the button and take a look at all of the great things that are part of this giveaway.  I promise you will not regret it!



Thursday, July 11, 2013

I'm jumping for joy!

I cannot believe it!  Danielle from Carolina Teacher nominated little old me for the Liebster Award.  Thank you Danielle!  I am honored and super excited.  What a fun way to start the day.

Here are the rules that go along with the Liebster Award
- Link back to the blog that nominated you.
- Nominate 5 to 11 blogs that have less than 200 followers.
- Answer the questions posted to you from your nominator.
- Share 11 random facts about yourself.
- Create 11 questions for your nominees.
- Contact your nominees via a comment or an email.
Here we go!  These are the questions that Danielle had for me.
1. What is your favorite thing about blogging?
- I love being able to share my passion for teaching with others and learn from such amazing teachers at the same time.  Blogging has made such a positive impact on my teaching and has taken it to a whole new level for me.  :)
2. If you could meet one famous person, living or dead, who would it be?
- Wow, this is a great question!  I would love to meet Eric Carle.  He is by far one of my favorite authors. 
3. What is the best concert you've ever been to?
- My sister and I were huge concert goers prior to me having Asher.  We would go to a show once a week.  For best concert, I would have to say it is a tie between Minus the Bear, Lydia, and City and Colour.  All put on amazing live shows and the vocals sound just like they did on the cds.  I love when there is little to no change between the actual voice and the produced one.  Gives me goosebumps!
4. What grades have you taught? What is your favorite grade to teach?
- I have taught K5 and 1st grade.  They both are amazing grades to teach.  The kiddos are still so innocent and love everything that you do.  The sillier, the better.  If I had to pick a favorite it would be K5.  I have always wanted to teach Kindergarten, so it just makes sense.
5. What is the best holiday or celebration to have at school?
- To be honest, we don't do a whole lot of celebrating in my classroom.  It has been a very sticky area for the past couple of years, so I do not make it into a big deal.  We do small activities that revolve around the various holidays but no huge celebrations.
6. What is your favorite book for adults?
- I adore The Hunger Games.  It was the first series of books in a long time that I just couldn't put the books down.  Love that!
7. What is your favorite children's book?
- Oh geez, this list could go on forever.  I can't just have one!  My top three are Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
8. If you were not a teacher, what would you do?
- I most likely would still be coaching gymnastics.  Gymnastics was what I lived, dreamed, and breathed from age six and on.  It would only have been natural to stay involved if teaching wasn't an option.
9. What is your least favorite part of teaching?
- Is it safe to say the politics?!?  I want to teach because I want to help children learn and have an amazing future.  I do not want to teach to make large amounts of money or to be told what to teach and when.  I am a teacher because it is what I love, not because it is a job.  I could go on and on, as I'm sure most of us can.
10. What is the best teaching advice you've ever gotten?
- To have fun every day!  When teaching becomes a job, than it is time to find something else.  :)
11. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
- My kindergarten teacher was my absolute favorite and is the reason I became a teacher.  I was terrified of going to school.  I mean would run back out of school when my mom dropped me off, terrified!  My teacher, Mrs. Bradley, saw this and made me her special helper.  This simple act was all it took!  From that moment on, school was the best place ever for me and I wanted to help/be there all the time.  If she hadn't made that choice to include me like that, I don't know what school would have been like for me. 

Now onto my 11 random facts
1. I was a gymnast from ages 6 to 16.  I was a competitive gymnast from ages 10 to 16.  I spent 3 hours a day, 4 days a week in a gym practicing skills over and over.
2. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was 5 years old.  I have thought about doing something else only one time since then.
3. I played the viola for 3 years.
4. I am obsessed with music.  The genres most listened to are indie and hardcore/screamo.  :)  Not your typical kindergarten music. 
5.  I have to have my dvds in alphabetical order.  Same goes for my cds.
6.  When I eat colored candies, they have to be sorted by color.  I then eat them by the colors I like the least to the colors I like the most.
7. My owls get really use to seeing me with a coffee or a soda every day.  I could live off of Starbucks and Dr. Pepper.
8. My favorite color is purple.
9. My nickname as a child was "Air."  It was simply a quick way to say Erin.  ;)
10. I am an overly sarcastic person once you get to know me. 
11. When I meet someone for the first time, I am extremely shy.

My nominees for the Liebster Award are
Sarah from Clearly Kindergarten
Michelle from Miss King's Enchanted Kingdom
Kelly from You're So Sharp
Nikki from The Cozy Classroom
Amy from The Littlest Superheroes

My questions to these lovely bloggers are
1.  What made you decide to become a teacher?
2.  What is your favorite subject/skill to teach?
3.  If you could take a trip anywhere, where would you go?
4.  What is one school supply that you must have?
5.  What song(s) get you through the day?
6.  How would you describe a perfect teaching day?
7.  If you could teach any grade, what would it be and why?
8.  What is your favorite book?  (children's or adult)
9.  What is the one thing you wish you could change in education?
10.  How long have you been teaching?
11.  What made you decide to start a blog?

Thanks for reading this extremely long post!  Thanks again Danielle for the nomination.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Getting the family involved

I will admit that over the years family involvement has not been my strongest area.  I get better with communication each year, fewer knots in my stomach at the end of the day when I have to explain problems, but getting families into the classroom has proven to be my permanent bump in the road.  I started my career doing the traditional seasonal family craft projects and from there I branched out to after school workshops that gave tips for working with kids at home and a rock and roll concert in the classroom complete with VIP passes.  All were successful and made the owls smile from ear to ear, but I still felt like something was missing.  I could not put my finger on what was missing, so I stepped back from it for a couple of years and just did parent volunteers.  This was not the missing piece.  I was basically using the parents as lamination cutters and bulletin board managers, which was great but it was not promoting the message of how important learning was.

Finally, this summer the light bulb flicked on and I discovered my missing family involvment piece.  I was always coming up with one time deals and that just did not give families enough time to make the necessary arrangements with their schedules.  To help right this wrong, I came up with a year long family involvement piece that will get the owls and their families excited about learning.

I introduce...

In this family involvement pack you will get the following pieces
a letter to send home to the families that talks about the "Mystery Reader" project (I thought it would be fun to send the letter home in secret file folder to get the owls even more excited about it.)
a letter that states the date and time that the "Mystery Reader" will come to the classroom
calendar pages for scheduling (months included are August to June)
three different follow up pages
If you are interested in trying the "Mystery Reader" project out in your classroom, click on any of the pictures to grab it from my TpT store.  I am selling it for $3 but it will be on sale until Friday!  I hope that it is something that would come in handy in your classroom.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Letters and Environmental Print

I have had back to school on my mind for a couple of weeks now, however with school supplies being shelved at most stores the reality of back to school is starting to sink in.  :)  For the past couple of years, I have transformed the wall over my computer area into an environmental print board.  I ask families to send in boxes and wrappers that their child are familiar with and we make quite the collection.  I wanted to get a jump start on my environmental print, so I have been collecting boxes this summer.  Here is what I have gathered so far!

Along with getting a head start on enviromental print collecting, I wanted to make this more interactive in the classroom this year.  My owls in the past have talked about what they saw on the board, but I did not do much more than put it up and allow discussion.  With that in mind, I whipped this little page together to use these environmental print pieces and to work on letter identification.  If you download it, please leave a comment.  I love to hear what you all think!


I have also added a few new products to my TpT store.  Stop by and take a peek!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

4th of July Sale!

Good morning all!

This is going to be a super quick post to let you know about a great sale that many fantastic bloggers/TpT sellers are having.  I'm linking up with Flying into First Grade for a 4th of July 20% off sale.

Please stop by my TpT store and take advantage of this great sale.  Make sure you also take a look at all of the other wonderful sellers that are participating in this linky.  :)

Wishing everyone a happy and safe 4th of July!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Class Size Rekenrek

My little man is at daycare today, so I'm back to multitasking like nobody's business.  I have been doing laundry, cleaning the house, running errands, making appointments, and creating. 

If you have been keeping up with me this summer, you already know that I am reading Number Sense Routines, by Jessica Shumway.  This book has really got me thinking about how I approach number sense in my classroom and how much I really need to improve this in my classroom next year.  I have made a couple of resources already and have an idea of when they will be included in my daily instruction.  If you would like to see those resources, click here or here.  I still was lacking a way of including rekenreks into my number sense routine. 


It is not the prettiest of things but it will definitely serve its purpose.  The goal behind making this so large is that all my owls will be able to see and work with this during our whole group number sense routine.  I share a room with another teacher and space is an issue.  I didn't want to have the owls sitting in a squished circle trying to strain and see a small paper/counter version on the floor.

How did I make this you may be asking yourself?  I used the following supplies-a moveable garment rack (got it at Target,) yarn, 2 different colored pool noodles, and a knife for cutting the pool noodles.

1.  I measured out and marked 1 inch sections on the pool noodles.

2.  Cut sections apart with a sharp kitchen knife.

3. Measured out and cut enough yarn so it could be wrapped around the poles of the rack.

4.  Placed 5 of each color on each of the yarn pieces.

5.  Tied and Tada!

To use this rekenreck, you simply decide what numbers you want to show the owls and have them tell you what number of "doughnuts" they see and how did they know.

I looped the yarn around the poles to make it easier to tie and untie, so I could add and take away doughnuts quickly.

I am in the process of making a pack to go along with this as well.