Sunday, October 30, 2011

Let's Trade Spots!

Well, what I mean is that I am starting a blog roll (for the first time ever since my blog was born in June!).  I am so excited because I find them very useful and I love the little pictures.  So, I would like to add PreK, Kindergarten and First Grade Blogs to my blog roll to help other blogs out AND to help out my followers.  Here is my deal:  you put me on your blog roll and I'll put you on mine!  How does that sound?  If I am already on your blog roll, let me know that, too!
What I need you to do is leave a comment telling me your blog address and letting me know that I am already on your blog roll.  Easy schmeasy, lemon squeezy!  See ya on the ROLL!

I'm Ready for Tomorrow and a Freebie for YOU!

I know it is kind of late for anyone to go running to a store to make these, BUT you can still pin it in your halloween file on Pinterest (or just on your hard drive for next year).  These were so simple to make and not very expensive either.  I made them for my kiddos teachers and my teacher "peeps".  They are supposed to have a tag that says something along this line:  Marshmallow Treats, Only for my Favorite Peeps.  BUT, I had to draw the line somewhere (it is a line that is often hard for me to draw). 

They are simply peeps on wooden skewers.  I got pretzel bags (any store that sells cake decorating/candy making stuff) and silver twist ties.  I am thinking these would make great craft fair fillers and stocking stuffers because we all know and love the yearround peeps!  Make sure you "pin" these for next year or for the next holiday season anyway!  I know that I was inspired somewhere, out there on the world wide web! 
We will be doing a Halloween Phonemic Awareness Activity.  I love these boards because they are so simple, yet the children really love them.  I always coordinate something fun with the particular board we are using (like tomorrow I will likely use either candy corn or candy pumpkins).  All you have to do is choose a phonemic skill (beginning, ending sounds, syllables, rhyming) you are working on.  I will use rhyming as the example for the board below:
So, you will think of words that rhyme with the pictures above and call them out.  Students have to decide which picture it rhymes with and put the "marker" (candy corn) in the correct box.  I start with focussing on just one skill, but then, as the children get better at this game, I amp it up and switch back and forth between skills.  This is a great listening activity for them to hear and compare the sounds and make up of words.  These skills are so important for beginning readers and often get overlooked with the ever rising standards in kindergarten.  These are the skills that, if solidified orally, will allow young students to flourish as readers and writers when the time comes.  Grab the google doc here so you can have a little bit of learning fun with your kiddos tomorrow!  I have a set of these boards at my TpT store and they all come with lists of words you can use for each category of rhyming, syllabication, beginning and ending sounds (so you don't even have to think, which I always appreciate!). 
We will also be doing my version of Witch's Brew (non edible)--check out this post for that freebie, as well as Rachelle's edible version of a Witch's Brew (from ).  We collected the ingredients from the parents and will "mix" it up in brand new HUGE witch cauldron that I found yesterday at Big Lots for $5.00. 
To wrap up the day, we will go to a kindergarten neighbor's movie room for a showing of Spookley the Square Pumpkin!  If you don't know of this book, it is a great social book that demonstrates the benefits of being different to children.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Come Get Your FREE Witch's Brew Magical Demonstration

This is an activity I do with my students EVERY year.  It is a poem (I did not write the poem, if anyone knows who did, I would love to give him/her credit.  I found it on years ago) that a witch (you) reads to your students in your best cackling voice.  As you read, you add "ingredients" to your brew that represent the items in the poem.  This demonstration is best done on an old-fashioned overhead projector in a clear dish so that the audience can see what happens to the brew as you add ingredients.  The end appears magical for the children and provides them with a halloween school memory that will be hard to forget!  Grab it here FREE!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fun Holly Bloggy Christmas Exchange

Kindergarten Korner and Ms. Preppy are hosting a really fun holiday gift exchange for bloggers!  You have to sign up by Monday, so click on the button above to do it quickly! 
There are lots of great  benefits (beyond just tons of fun) to being a Holly Bloggy Christmas participant, like 9 weeks worth of giveaways that ONLY participants can participate in and a virtual stocking from the sponsors of this fun project (I just might *possibly* be one of those participants!
Check it out!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Love Fall Days (and a cool new way to do Pokey Pins)

I love anything rainbow colored!
It was an absolutely gorgeous, fall day in Maine today.  My son brought me this huge leaf he found outside and then asked if he could do a Pokey Pin project.  I thought he meant on the leaf which I immediately thought was genius (he didn't- the two things were totally unrelated) but he agreed that it would be neat to give it a try.  Here are the results of his "I love fall" Pokey Pin project (hard to see because the sun was just going down when we took the picture and everyone knows you need bright lights for best results :) ):
Now this is a HUGE leaf.
Cayden thinks you can't see it very well because of the "leaf's veins".
I'm wondering if it would work better if I let the leaves dry out a little
before pinning them??
I was so excited because this was the first time my baby (well,
he IS 4) showed any interest in a Pokey Pin project.  Look how
great he did as his little hand muscles got strengthened AND he
practiced naming the letters in his name.

So, I did go out and help Mr. Miner with some raking, but, have no fear, my classroom and blogging was not far from my mind as I did so:
Can you believe that all of these leaves came
from the same exact bush?  It doesn't seem as
odd until you put them together like this!
I was excited to be able to gather 20 HUGE leaves like Cayden found so that I could do our regular Pokey Pin session on leaves instead of boring, old paper!  I think we will write "We Like Fall" to make sure we are practicing our popcorn words while we strengthen our little hand muscles.
I would be remiss if I didn't include the other things I was thinking about (and watching) as I raked leaves on this beautiful fall day! 
 I love fall!
Pokey Pin Kit+ABCs with correlating
pictures and words
Pokey Pin Kit: Popcorn Words with fancy borders

Pokey Pin the ABCs with pictures!

Go Away Big, Green Monster Activity and Freebie

Somewhere online (if anyone knows where, please do tell), my best kinder neighbor, Mrs. S, found this super fun activity for Ed Emberly's story Go Away Big, Green Monster.  The students just love the "magical" way that the monster goes away part by part as we read the story.  They try and try, but never seem to grasp how it really happens.

Prior to doing this activity you will need to go to KizClub (a great teacher resource for retelling stories) and get the following printable:

On the day before you are going to read the book, you need to have students make a green splot on a large piece of construction paper:
  • Pass out folded black paper and have students write their name on the fold in the middle of the paper.
  • Put a blob of paint in the middle of a the black paper.
  • Students refold the paper and rub to create a greeen monster face that will need to dry for the next day.
  • Teacher needs to cut around the monster face before the next step making a circular type shape.
Day Two:
  • The students will color, cut and glue the monster pieces on their monster face.
  • Students will write their name on the following template:
Finally, you will have some scary big, green monsters to display.  They all looked fantastic!

Also, if you don't have your plans completed for the week, you may want to consider taking a look at my Costume Party Halloween Kit at my TpT Store.  It includes a book innovation on Brown Bear, daily math problems for the whole week, a pokey pin monkey ghost and much more!  I have offerred to give away to anyone who purchases the kit the awesome flipchart for Promethean and Smart Boards that  my co-worker created to go along with it (check out this post for more info).  It is really fun, but includes plenty of learning as well!
Come check out my latest listing that I created for my classroom!

Anyone who purchases my Costume Party can get this companion flipchart (compatible for Promethean Boards and any other board that can read PB files) FREE by emailing me their TpT name and date of purchase.  This is also for people who have already purchased this kit previouly and are interested in having the flipchart as well!  Email me at .

Friday, October 21, 2011

Classroom Tested and Approved!

If you read my post about my friend Mrs. B, you will know that I was more than elated to 1)see my products being used in another kindergarten classroom but, more importantly 2) seeing them being used in ways I hadn't even thought of yet. That is what teaching is all about and that is why the educational blog world is so exciting (and addicting) to me!

I just wanted to share a couple of unique products I have found lately.  Both products are from fellow kindergarten, blogging teachers and products that I have used in my classroom (I like to call this "classroom-tested").  To me, a product is not worth the words that describe it until it has actually been put to use in a classroom by the age group it targets.

The first product is from Donna Glynn.  It is a jam packed Fall Pattern Unit.  Of course, it is absolutely adorable with all of the graphics she chose to use, but let me tell you a couple of other great points that I found with this kit.  I love that the pattern worksheets focus on ONE type of pattern.  These are fantastic to build that understanding of creating patterns with my "young" kinders.  My "older" kinders get patterns, no matter what fashion they are presented in and, in fact, benefit from completing varying patterns at the same time.  But, some of the children need this repetitive step in order to build a more solid foundation of what building patterns really means.  There are so many different complete the pattern sheets to choose from that it is very easy to differentiate and give students individual sheets according to their ability (which, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you all know I feel very strongly about differentiation and purposeful practices).
But, let me get to my absolute favorite section of Donna's Fall Unit:  The Write the Room Patterns.  I just started doing Write the Room centers specific to units or concepts I was teaching last year and they were a huge hit.  I also did do some Count the Room Activities, but I never thought of incorporating patterns into it!  It is such a fabulous idea and makes students name patterns (a typical kindergarten standard) and then record.  Ingenious! 

Since many of my students aren't quite ready to take the reigns and NAME patterns independently I used Empowering Little Learners awesome Four Corner game and incorporated Donna's pattern cards for a great review (and lots of information for me about my students' learning). 
This game is unlike any other I have in my repetoire of games to practice focus skills and/or concepts, yet it is very simple and quick to prepare.  The fact that the children are moving and learning is a huge bonus in my BUSY classroom.  (And, we all know that there is tons of brain research that tells us over and over the great correlation between higher learning and movement).  The students truly love this game and enjoy kindly requesting that their friends trade picture cards until the music stops. At this point, they have to go to the marked corner of the beginning sound they hear in the word.  We've played it several times and the children are really getting good at it and enjoy it. 

Like I mentioned, today I incorporated two of my latest favorite blog world findings into one!
I used Empowering Little Learner's structure of the 4 corners game with Donna's colorful pattern cards.  The students had to go to the corner of the room that "named" their pattern:  AB, ABC, AAB, or ABB.  Then, they were supposed to work together to make sure that everyone in their group had the same type of pattern.  This is the most difficult concept of our pattern unit (recognizing different patterns that represent the same type of pattern and comparing patterns), so this was great practice and getting them prepared for "Reading Patterns around the Room" next week and then, ultimately, Pattern Write the Room. 

I really enjoy "testing" new games, products, and ideas in my classroom:  most of all because it benefits my students, but also because I am always looking for ways to improve how I teach my kindergarten students!  You won't be disappointed by either one of the individual products I mentioned in this post, but you'll be super excited to incorporate the use of both items in your classroom.   

Thursday, October 20, 2011

My Latest Secret to a Calm Dismissal Time

My next door neighbor, Mrs. S, found this series of short Alphablocks videos (on YouTube) last year.  Our students loved them and always wanted to watch them.  This year, my students love them so much (sorry, I can't really explain why they love these videos so much) that I have made it an end of the day reward if they can beat the clock packing up and still have time before they are called for dismissal.  Well, most days it works. The first video is only 3 minutes long and it is really cute and, wait for it.....educational as well.  Each block represents a letter who does some sort of action to make the sound, but they don't actually state their name, so I have the students yell out the letter's name.   Let's do an experiment...try this with your students and see if they love it, too!  (You will think it is really fun, too).  Also, any other smooth dismissal tips?  I know this will wear off sooner than later! :)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Halloween Academics (is that an oxymoron??)

We've done a couple of monster activities (well, our reading series IS focusing on the letter M this unit) and read a couple of monster stories.  I already posted the following projects as freebies, but I wanted to share our projects with you:
Aren't they just adorable? One of my girls made Frank's spikes (not sure what else to call those "things" coming out of his head) rainbow colored.  Another friend made black flowers surrounding the picture.  And one friend colored his face all yellow!  The children LOVED the Frankenstein song and couldn't wait until we sang it together using their name instead of Frankensteins.  Photo projects are my favorite, as well as the childrens!  I had a hard time deciding whether to make a book or to display them in the hall, so I decided I would put it together as a book once Halloween season is O-V-E-R
because the children will still be loving it since it stars themselves.  Grab this project packet FREE from this blog post.
We also used the Draw a Rhyme poem to create these darling, little monsters.  I love how the students add their own flair to these types of projects.  Check these SCARY monsters out (although most of my children said they were creating "nice monsters":
I think it is so fun that they all come out so differently with the same directions.  This student added a baby monster with the momma saying "I see a monster." in the speech bubble.  You can find the link to this freebie here. 
Another fun activity we are doing next week is based on my Halloween Costume Party Math and Literacy Unit.  Have I mentioned how wonderful my co-teachers are?  One of my favorites took my kit and created an interactive flipchart for the activity.  She also printed off the kit to create pieces for various centers (something I never even considered for my kit!).  Nothing makes me more happy than seeing my work in other people's classrooms being put to use (especially when it is used in ways beyond what I even intended!).  I took some pictures of her efforts to share with all of you:
Mrs. B already has her book all laminated and binded!  This will
be a classroom favorite (even after the holiday) because it is repetitive
and based on Brown Bear, Brown Bear
I never even thought of this!  Mrs. B printed out the themed word
wall cards and is going to hang them around the room (like a write the
room center) for a read the room center.  After the children have
read them several times, she is creating a center to match up the words
(without the picture clue, of course!) to the monkeys based on their costume.
Reading books on the big screen give Big Books a whole new meaning!

The work together word problems were made much more
kindergarten friendly when Mrs. B added pics of the
characters to the flipchart!

This is my favorite activity in this kit.  It gives the children the
power to give out awards for the costume contest.  This is a
great way to practice ordinal numbers.  You can do it together
whole group, but then each child can make their own decisions
back at their seat with their own paper!

Come check out my latest listing that I created for my classroom!

Anyone who purchases my Costume Party can get this companion flipchart (compatible for Promethean Boards and any other board that can read PB files) FREE by emailing me their TpT name and date of purchase.  This is also for people who have already purchased this kit previouly and are interested in having the flipchart as well!  Email me at .

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Would You Vote For My Little Blog?

I am excited to let you know that my blog got nominated for Circle of Moms Top 25 Moms Who are Teacher Blogs.  I would love to become a Top 25 Circle of Moms Blog.  I hate to beg and make people add anything additional to their already hectic lives, BUT if you like my freebies and ideas that I share, would you please click on the pink circle above and look for my monkey? 
I would be ever so grateful!
You can vote once a day, so, if you think of it, it would be great for you to go back and vote again at some point!  I would love to get this honor because people really enjoy and get something out of my blog, not becaused I am constantly asking, but I don't know how else to do it! 
Thanks in advance for your participation!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Math Center Linky Party

One of the blogs that sucked me right into this new world of mine was Chalk Talk, so, of course, I still follow her diligently!  She is hosting a Math Work Station Linky Party, so I thought I'd link up with a center I have available FREE at my TpT Store.  It is a differentiated number sense center, perfect for grades PreK through 1st featuring MONKEYS (of course!). 

Chalk Talk
Click on April's cute little blog button to see the other entries in this linky party!

Do You Do Popcorn Words? Some Help and a Freebie

In case you are unsure, "popcorn words" are merely words that pop up all of the time and are also known as sight words or high frequency words.  The one thing I noticed being searched for EVERY SINGLE day is my popcorn template that I provided this summer.  I provided this for people to upload and create their own popcorn words for their classroom and make a display that could possibly look like this:
Go see The Teacher Wife if you are interested in the ABC Popcorn Boxes!
 My wall looks even better with several popcorn pieces that we have
already added this year!

I have done popcorn words for years, originally finding out about them from Building Blocks Literacy Framework for Kindergarten (same as 4 Blocks Literacy Framework).  It makes SO much sense to the children and is just tons more fun than saying, "Let's practice our sight words."  I do use the real words for these words interchangeably so they don't get in any arguments with their 1st grade teachers ("Well, Mrs. Miner said they were popcorn words, not high frequency words."). 
I have a couple of sets at TpT that could either help you build a new spelling program for kindergarten, restructure one you have, or follow along with a mandated spelling program (like Treasures, that I have to do).
I have added a new product that I think will be very helpful to many of my readers.  It is called
Building Popcorn Words and looks like this:

It includes weekly cut, build, and glue activities that follow along with my Monkey Popcorn Word Fun Unit.  Here are some of my students' completed pages for the first week. (The first week is very easy, it gets progressively more difficult for students as the weeks go on). 

Also included in the kit is a pocket chart header and pictures (if you want to make it a pocket chart center, this would come in particularly handy):

But, the most important piece of the kit are the following pieces.  The blank word cards are placed on the pocket chart and then the children "build" the words based on what they know about the words they are building (How many letters does the word have?  Does it start with a tall letter or a hang down letter?)  These boxes correlate with the boxes on the independent center sheets as well.

 These pictures are when I passed out the letter cards to the
children and we built them whole group.  Below, is how I
have the center set up.
The blank templates for the words are together, while the letter cards are
all separate.

I am posting my free popcorn word template once again because it has been so popular:

Tell me your sight word activities going on in your classroom!

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