Friday, August 8, 2014

Five for Friday- August 8, 2014

Happy Friday All!  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching today to share with you five things from my week. 
Click the button to look at what other teacher bloggers have been up to!
First up is a snapshot of my ever growing pile of welcome letters that are getting printed and sorted to hand out at our K4/K5 orientation next week.  I'm looking forward to meeting all my new little owls and starting this new journey of K4/PreK/TK.
I had to make a run to Party City last night to pick up a few tablecloths for bulletin board backgrounds.  Seriously if you have not tried using vinyl tablecloths for your bulletin boards, I strongly suggest giving it a try this year!  I LOVE IT!  Anywho, whenever I go to a store I tend to wander the aisles aimlessly looking at what I could use for the classroom.  These little guys caught my eye.  The possibilities are ENDLESS!  They are Superhero finger puppets!
Continuing with color activities, I put together this very basic roll and cover page.  In years past, roll and cover activities have been a huge hit, so I'm planning on keeping them as a year long thing.
Here is the action shot...
If you would like a copy of the above pages, just click on either of the pictures and download! 
Unfortunately, I do not have a picture for this one, but I will tell you to keep your eyes peeled for the big classroom reveal in the upcoming weeks.  I was able to get into my room today and WOW! did that room need some serious TLC!
Completely not school related, I am trying really hard to use as much of these last days of summer as possible to spend time with the family.  We took the little man to his first Brewers games yesterday.  He thought it was AWESOME!
Sorry for the picture of a picture.  My phone was being all sorts of stubborn and didn't want to let me send it via an email.  :(

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

More Colorful Ideas and a FREEBIE

Happy Wednesday!  For those of you who have been reading and keeping up with my recent posts, I'm guessing you have noticed a common theme of COLORS.  We have decided as a grade level to focus on colors for the entire month of September!

When we decided this, I will admit, I panicked a bit.  I knew I wanted lots of hands on activities but at that time, I didn't have many ideas.  What did I do, you may be asking...Well, I went to craft stores and hobby stores in the area and walked up and down every aisle just looking for color.  As I would spot something, I would grab it and think about how to use it in a meaningful way.

Here is an example of one of those grab and think...
Those little colored clothespins were a find at Michaels.  I was in the aisle with all the wooden craft sticks and these happened to catch my eye.  I loved the bright colors and that they would offer some additional fine motor practice.  The paint swatches I grabbed from Home Depot and put them with the clothespins to make a super simple, inexpensive, and yet engaging activity.

Here is visual of how it would look being used (little man was my helper again!)  I had him tell me the colors on the paint swatches first, he grabbed a clothespin, told me the color, and then matched it to a paint swatch.  I encouraged him to try "pinching" it onto the paint swatch, but if that was difficult he was given the choice to just lay it on top.  * The fine motor practice of placing the clothespin on the paint swatch is ideal but I am not going to force my kids to do it.  I want to keep frustration levels to a low, so I will encourage it/offer the idea, but will not require them to do it.*
Another idea came from a set of dice I picked up while at the I Teach K! conference in Vegas this summer...
For this I used the colors on the die to make the color dot strip.  The strip was then attached to a piece of scrapbook paper to make it a bit more sturdy.  The bottle caps are used to cover the colors as they are rolled.
I used my pocket cubes to make a few more sets of color dots, so I would be able to have more kids working with these colors at the same time.  How to play is simple...roll the die, name the color, find the color on the strip, and cover it up.  After all colors are covered, REPEAT!
This could easily be adapted to a partner activity where each child gets a different colored/shaped object to cover the colors with.  I would have the kids tell each other the color before covering it!
If you would like the color dot strips and color dot card inserts, click on the picture above to download it for FREE!  All I ask is that you leave a comment if you do!  Comments are encouragement and fuel for future freebies!


Monday, August 4, 2014

More Colorful Ideas and a TPT Sale

Good morning!  I spent some time this past weekend putting together some simple color activities that will go into work stations for the little ones to have some additional practice with color identification.

Color Stick Sorting
I had these metal cans and sticks from last year.  They were originally used for my classroom behavior system but I am changing that around this year to make it more PreK friendly.  More on that another day.
How to use-  I will be introducing this to the whole group through a mini lesson.  We will talk about what it means to sort and I will get a sense of who knows what the word is or not.  I will uncover the word "color" on our sorting anchor chart to offer another visual.  Then I will model how to sort the sticks into the correct cans.  While I model, I always think out loud so the kids can hear what my mind is doing.  After I have sorted a few sticks, I will have the kids come up and try.
It will look something like this while sorting happens.
Color Button Sort
Now that I have introduced sorting by color and the kids have had some practice, this button sorting activity will go into a work station to do with me for more guided practice.  This will allow me to take notes and assess. 
Here is an action shot of sorting buttons by color.
Color Monsters Floor Puzzle
I picked up this great puzzle at a Half Price Books store near my house.  It was only $4.99.  SCORE!
Since it is the start of the year, I will be introducing putting puzzles together to the whole group first.  Sorting the pieces by edges and no edges is easier for me, so I will introduce this as a strategy for them to try when putting together a puzzle.  I will sort a few pieces and then have the kids help me sort the rest.
I will start the puzzle and model how to use the picture on the box as a guide.  Also how to look closely at the colors and pictures on the pieces to find pieces that match.  We will work together to put the puzzle together.  This puzzle, along with a few other color themed ones, will be put in a work station for small group practice.
I hope that one or all of these activities were helpful.  How do you practice colors with your students?  What are some of your favorite activities?
Don't forget TPT's Back to School Sale is in full swing.  Click on the picture below to snag some great packs at 20% off.  When checking out, don't forget to put in the code BTS14 for additional savings!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Super Heroes...A Sure Fire Way to Get Your Boys Engaged

Good morning everyone!  I'm back again with a fun way to get those little ones in your classroom engaged in learning while having some fun. 

A few weeks ago, I spent a good portion of a day just looking through all the "stuff" that my little man has gotten over the years.  Side note-it is amazing how many toys this little man has!!!!  I'm thinking we might own half of Toys R' Us at this point.  :)  Anywho, while I was looking through his toys, his awesome set of Hulk hands caught my eyes.  I know how much those things have been played with and how much the little man never seems to get bored with them.  There is always a "new" way to play with them in his world.

When I saw those big green hands, I knew I needed to come up with a way to bring them into the classroom and to use them in our learning.  After a bit of brainstorming, the idea of using them for a "Splat" like game was created.  The kid(s) would wear a Hulk hand and search as quickly as possible for the information that the teacher asked for (letters, numbers, colors....)  When the item was found, the kid(s) would "Smash" it.  I don't know about you, but this screams boy engagement to me.

Here are some pictures for you to get an idea of what is needed and what it looks like in action.
This picture shows the selected cards/skill scattered about the floor, face up.  The Hulk hands are displayed in the middle for picture purposes.  If you don't have a set of these bad boys at home, a pair of green gloves would do the trick.
I called out a color and the little man had to find it.  He then got to "smash" it.  Let me tell you how elaborate that "smash" got over the course of a few colors.  He went from walking up to the card and putting his fist on it, to leaping at it and letting out growls.  It was fun for me to watch and he got a kick out of the fact that I was letting him "be a boy" while learning.

The cards you see in the pictures above are part of my newest pack on TPT called Smash.  This pack comes with upper and lower case letter cards, numbers 1 to 100, five frames, ten frames, teen frames, dice, dominoes, color dots, color words in actual color, color words in black, 2D shapes, and 3D shapes.  The cards are with colored backgrounds, like shown above, or in white backgrounds to make it more printer friendly.

Click on either picture to take a look at it.  It will be on sale today and through the TPT Back to School sale.

I will be giving away this Hulk-tastic pack today!  Simply leave a comment on how you might use this pack in your classroom and your email address.  I will pick a winner or two at the end of the day!


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back to School and Numbers

Happy Saturday!  I'm stopping by to tell you about a fun number pack I created for Back to School!  In this pack I focused on working with numbers 1 to 10 in a variety of different to one correspondence, number identification, five frame, ten frame, dot plates, dice, and dominoes.  Here are some pictures to help you get a "feel" for the pack.
These are the "dot plates" included in the pack.  I printed the circles for numbers 1 to 6 and taped them onto paper plates from Target.  The mini erasers are also from Target (more about those in a second.)
How to use the "dot plates"
I asked my little man/helper to first point and count the pencils.

Next, I had him use the mini erasers to cover the pencils and count again.  (This is another way to practice that one to one correspondence.)
Since I know his math ability already, I had him tell me how many after he had covered and counted.  That's the cardinality piece some kids need additional support/practice with.
These numeral cards and mini erasers could be used to work more on that one to one correspondence.  Pull a card and count out the number of apples.
These cards are a friendly and fun way to introduce the five frame.
Pull a card, figure out the number represented, and then mirror the number on own five frame with the mini erasers.
After a comfort level is reached with the five frame, these are great for introducing the ten frame.  They will offer that challenge for your fast learners as well.
They work the same way as the five frame. 
Pull a card, identify the number on the ten frame, and mirror the number with the mini erasers.
You can click on any of the pictures to pick this pack up in my store.  It will be on sale for the big TPT Back to School sale.  Like past TPT site wide sales, don't forget to enter the code before checking out for additional savings.
Don't forget to like my Facebook page.  There will be a surprise on there today, but you will have to like the page to be part of it.  :)


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Colors and Cars....Yes, Please....

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I am moving down to K4 this upcoming school year.  Pinterest has always been a go-to for ideas and inspiration, but lately it has consumed morning, noon, and night.  I know that I will spend the majority of  September focusing on color identification and color words.  Keeping this in mind, I turned to good ol' Pinterest and found some amazing ideas that would provide some hands on learning with a focus on color.  The bonus was that it used materials that I could find in my house already!  SCORE!

After seeing the next two pictures, I knew that I HAD to do something like this!
Click on either picture to go to the original sources!
When putting this activity together I changed it a bit to make it work for me and to use materials that I had around the house to be a bit more cost efficient.  This is what I came up with...

A simple piece of foam board in black, some yellow and white washi tape, and color swatches from Wal-Mart.  I think this took me 10 minutes tops to whip up.  (I was being picky about lines being straight and evenly spaced.)

I may or may not have had my little man sort out some of his cars for this.  Don't tell him, but these cars will probably end up falling into a container on its way to school.  :)  You could easily pick up some cars at the Dollar Store if you don't have a little one to borrow from.
The little man was all about testing out mommy's new activity so here is an action shot.  He picked a car from the pile on the side, drove it down the road to the matching color, and parked it on the color.  Easy and FUN way to practice color identification!
This is what the color road looked like after he had driven and parked all of the cars. 
Once the kids get a good hold on this, I will introduce more cars and more color variations to extend the learning and to offer more challenge.
What would you do with an activity like this?  How would you extend their learning?

Monday, July 28, 2014


Good evening all of you wonderful people out their in the blogging world.  I'm just stopping in really quick to let you know that I am still ALIVE and have not forgotten about you!  :)

This past school year was a bit on the whirlwind side and I just needed some time away from additional projects/responsibilities.  I focused on getting through the school year and spending time with my family to help maintain my sanity and to limit the amounts of stress that were piled on at points.

I have some MAJOR news for you all!  I am moving to a new grade level this coming Fall!  I will be teaching K4 for the first time EVER!  We call it K4 here in Milwaukee, but I know it is called PreK or Transitional K in other states/areas.  In all honesty, I was a bit nervous and did not really know what I had gotten myself into.  Now that I have had the Summer to wrap my head around this, I'm super, duper excited. 

With this grade level change, I have been looking at the very basics and have created some new materials.  My focuses for this year will be keeping things very constant to allow for ample amounts of practice and lots of hands on.  I have also been creating things that cater more towards the interests of boys.  I want to "hook" them right away so school is something that they LOVE!

Please, be patient with me while I get back into the swing of things!  I promise you that big things are coming...lots of ideas, creations, and FREEBIES!

If you are on Facebook, make sure to stop by and like my page.  I plan on posting things on there often as well.  (HINT...HINT)


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Learning From My Mistakes- Writing Edition

I will be extremely honest with all of you, I am not a perfect teacher.  I do not have all the answers or solutions, I do not have the perfect lesson plans, and I do not stick to my time schedule.  I am, instead, a human being who gets frustrated, stressed out, and makes plenty of mistakes.  After 8 years of teaching and my fair share of mistakes, I have learned to embrace those mistakes.  I often go home the day of the mistake and process what went wrong and what I needed to change.

Here is a perfect example of learning from my mistakes....

When lesson planning for this week, I figured I would make the most of my writing block and incorporate health.  This being relatively easy to do because February is Dental Health Month.  I laid out the plan and the steps I wanted to see my little owls take in writing and understanding more about their teeth.  We watched a few videos, discussed vocabulary, brainstormed, but then the reluctant writing piece came along.  :(

My owls have really been moving along with writing and I have been challenging them with some more specific writing pieces these days.  For some unknown, I blame this terrible winter, reason, my little owls just forgot what writing was.  Kind of hard to get them to write about brushing their teeth and using graphic organizers when writing a word was foreign to them.

This is now not my proudest teaching moment, but I will share to help you not make my same mistake.  I knew right away on Monday when I started our lesson, this was not a writing kind of week.  Instead of addressing this and taking the needed steps backwards, I pushed us forward.  Insert Tuesday's teacher meltdown moment!!!!  I put on the video I had planned, we talked about the steps that we take to brush our teeth, wrote them in a brainstorming column on our papers, and then all bets were off.  I modeled and talked about how to take those steps, put them in order, and then to make them into complete sentences.  The blank stares at this point should have told me to turn around and run, but it was in my lesson plans and it had to be done.  From this moment forward, I spent plenty of time saying, "Hold on," "We went over that," and "Didn't you pay attention?"

After I reached the point of utter frustration, I collected their work and tried to breath.  I knew that I needed to approach this lesson differently, but how????  I went home that night and thought about what needed to be done (what was important) and what just wasn't working.  I knew the videos were hooking the little owls, so I found a new one on youtube.  I watched it a couples of times and realized I needed concrete objects for the owls to see and touch to help them put their steps in order for writing.  I put together this bag....

Inside were all of the things I would need to brush my teeth properly.  I had the owls help me recall what objects were used based on the video and in what order.
(The water bottle was used to symbolize the water that needed be used to wet the toothbrush.  Then there is a toothbrush, toothpaste, cup for rinsing our mouths, and a single use floss.)
As the owls helped me with object order, I added the sequential words like first, next, then, and last.  After we repeated the order several times in complete sentences using sequential words, we moved to the Smartboard.
Here I projected the writing paper they were going to use and modeled how to write on the lines what we had just said together and to illustrate the sentences in the boxes.  I had the owls provide me with parts of the sentences to allow for more ownership, which is something that the previous day's lesson lacked.  I handed out their papers and allowed them to go for it.  I am pleased to say that their writing was much better today and it was due to my ability to address my own mistakes and to correct what I could.
Sorry to have written a novel of a blog post, but I wanted to show how teachers make mistakes and that it is perfectly fine.  I do not view myself as a poor teacher because my lesson didn't go well, but I know that once it was reviewed and retaught, my owls got a whole lot more out of it and their writing really showed it.
Don't forget that TPT is also having a huge sale Thursday and Friday to celebrate the huge milestone of being 3 million teachers strong!  My whole store will be 20% during those two days. 


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Time for a little February Currently and a Freebie!

At this time, I am having some mixed emotions about it already being February.  On one hand, I'm super glad it is because winter can go take a hike right now.  I'm over it!  On the other hand, I still have a lot of learning to get done with my little owls.

Anyways, I will embrace the truth that it is now February and will link up with Farley for her monthly Currently.  Click the button below to read other blogger's Currentlys and to find some new blogs to follow.  :)

Oh' boy fourth grade
Here we go....
Shall we have a little explanation for these answers???
Listening- We are currently getting more snow up in WI, so I'm listening to the snow plows making their trips up and down our street in a tired attempt at keeping the roads clear.
Loving- Due to our two cold days last week, I got myself hooked on the Netflix show, Hemlock Grove.  I'm not quite sure what it is about the show that hooked me, but I have been trying like crazy to finish it so I know what happens. 
Thinking- This one is pretty straight forward.  My house could use a bit of cleaning right now.  I mean, it isn't terrible by any means, but some dusting would be nice.  Anyone want to come and do it? 
Wanting- I really am over winter.  It has been long and cold and I'm just done with it.  At this time I think it is safe to say that winter and I are not friends.  :)
Needing- Don't get me wrong on this one, I love my family with all my heart, but a weekend getaway where I can pamper myself and relax sounds heavenly.
The two truths are the first two- I was a gymnast for over ten years.  My mom had enrolled me in gymnastics classes because I was really shy and she was hoping it would help me open up.  I ended up just loving everything about the sport.  After a couple of years of just recreational classes, I started competing.  I was then in the gym 4 days a week for up to 3 hours at a time. 
I have always wanted to be a teacher, in particular a Kindergarten teacher.  My Kindergarten teacher was the reason for this.  She was the sweetest woman in the whole world and she had this way of just connecting with all of her students.  I knew that was exactly what I wanted to be as a teacher.
The fib- My son is refusing to take a nap.  I so cherish nap time in our house.  It is either my own nap time or just quiet time.  :)
Finally, we are focusing on shapes this next week and I put together a little shape identification and counting activity to go in their math stations to reinforce our learning.  Please feel free to click on the picture and download!
Thanks for reading my ramblings today and have a wonderful weekend!


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winners, Winners, Chicken Dinners and a Freebie!

Hi all!  Thank you so much for the comments on yesterday's post.  They were so much fun to read.  I cannot believe this crazy winter that we are having. 

Congrats ladies!  You are my lucky winners!  Check your email to find your goodies! 
Please remember that the three winter packs will be on sale for 20% off until this Friday in my TPT store!
I was home again today but not for the cold or for snow, but instead with a sick little man.  It broke my heart all day seeing him so uncomfortable and unhappy.  I did, however, love every second of the snuggle time.  :)
When I finally was able to get him to take a nap, I really quick put together a little rhyming activity.  For some unknown reason, my little owls still struggle with rhyming identification.  We have worked and worked and worked on it, but it still gets them every time.
I decided to use words, instead of pictures, for this activity.  My thought was that if the owls could see the words then they could start to wrap their heads around the "whole same end sounds" part of rhyming. 
Click on the picture to download this freebie!