Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kindergarten Screening freebie, Back 2 School Bloghop/Giveaway and a TPT Sale!

I don't know about anyone else, but I am so not about getting up at 6AM everyday. This trying to get used to getting up early again SUCKS! 

But for today, it was for a good reason. We have kindergarten screening today! All (hopefully all) of the kindergartners for this fall come in for an hour session to get screened socially/emotionally, academically, and for gross/fine motor skills. 

It is amazing! It is so good to meet the kiddos and spend an extended period of time with them to get a glimpse of what we can expect during the school year.

After screening, we use all of the information we received to make balanced classes. It is SUCH an awesome system! This way certain behaviors, social differences, friendships, high/low academics can all be addressed!

I attached our academic portion of the screening for free here!

Next, remember the Back 2 School Bloghop/Giveaway is coming up soon!

Check back in on Friday for the fun!!

Last, the Blast Off Back to School Sale on TPT is happening August 4th-5th! 

Everything in my store will be 20% off, and using TPT's code, you will get a total of 28% off of all my store items! YAY! I know I have a ton of stuff on my wishlist :)

Bye for now!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back to School Mode!

Hey all! Hope you are enjoying the last few days of summer. It's down to days now! AHH! I am trying to soak up as much sun as I can, and spend lots of time with this foster pup! 

Isn't she the cutest? How the heck does she lay like this?? Hopefully girlfriend will get adopted soon!

But unfortunately school is calling me back. Its actually screaming at me to come back. The chaos that is my classroom right now is making my skin crawl. Look at this mess!!

I'm hyperventilating a little....I moved classrooms this year, just right across the hall. But apparently moving 10 feet is a bigger deal than I realized :(

However, I knew where I wanted most of my stuff before I moved it! I don't know if you all have read Debbie Diller's book, Spaces and Places: Designing Classrooms for Literacy, but it is AMAZING.

I learned so much about how classroom organization and management of spaces can affect your classroom environment! Debbie suggests that you make your classroom plan before you touch your furniture. 

I think we know that as teachers who want the perfectly functioning classroom, we tend to *ahem* change our minds fairly often. She says to use sticky notes to create a topographical map of your classroom, that way you can move everything without straining your muscles (or without redrawing a map of your classroom 200 times)!

I have done this in the past, but have now found something even better! It's a website that you can use for free called floorplanner.com. It gives you any classroom furniture you could use/need, and also gives you a 3D view of what it looks like! So awesome!

I'll keep updating you as my classroom gets more and more put together :)

For the exciting news, make sure that you come check back in August 1st! Myself and tons of other bloggers have gotten together to create a bloghop/giveaway that is going to be AMAZING!

I've seen some of the products in the giveaway and they are fantastic. You do NOT want to miss this!!

Have a great Sunday!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Back To School Linky: Behavior Management

I was perusing Pinterest the other day and found this fun linky for Back School ideas. Mrs. D's Corner and Miss V's Busy Bees are hosting a Back to School Weekly Linky and it looks super fun!

So week 1 is all about behavior management! This is something that I am ALL ABOUT people. As a now 4th year teacher, there is a TON that I still have to learn about being a teacher, but my classroom management is something that I often get compliments on from parents, other teachers, and administrators.

I set HIGH expectations for my kiddos from the very first day of school. I find that it is much better to be stern and stick to the rules from the beginning to have a well behaved class all year long!

Hallway Management
I feel like hallway management is a huge part of behavior management. I make a HUGE deal out of the hallway being the pathway to the "learning zone" and we will not be distracting other students while they are learning. There are a few ways that I make this happen with my kinder babies!

Line-up Songs
I love line up songs! They are such a fun way to get your kiddos ready and quiet to enter the hallway. I change them up all the time so that they never get bored with what we are singing. These are a few of my favorites:

Get them for free here!!

Line Order
I am a big believer in having a line order. Butting in line, shoving to be first, crying about being last....I'm having none of that. My kindergartners start with line order the first day of school and they CAN do it. They need a lot of help in the beginning, with numbers/names on the floor to show them where to stand, but they catch on quick! 

(These are my feet from last year. They worked fine, but I'll definitely change to something smaller this year as these fell off pretty quickly!)

When I taught 1st/2nd grade, I would send the line leader to the end of the line each week. This gave everyone the chance to be first. But with my kinders, we just choose a new line leader each month and the rest of the line stays the same. These little guys don't know any different and they honestly DON'T CARE. Having the same spot all year keeps my behavior problems and talking in the hall to almost zero!

Mystery Walker
Mystery walkers are such a great way to encourage good hallway behavior! I have a box with each kiddos name on a stick in it that I carry with me. At the door, I choose a stick and cover it with my hand. If the kiddo shows good hallway behavior, they get a point (Class Dojo, I'll explain below). If not, I don't acknowledge them at all, and they go back in the box. I want to reward good behavior, not make a child feel bad!

I just make it a habit to carry the box wherever I go! As a special treat, I include a stick that says "whole class" and obviously, if the whole class has good behavior, we all get a point! This is the only time that I let them know if they did not earn it.

Behavior Management
These are the actual tools I use as behavior management in the classroom. I use a multitude of different things, all working together to create a wonderful, well behaved class. Obviously, not every management tool is going to work for every student, but there are what work best for me!

Class Dojo
I love love love Class Dojo! If you have never heard of it, Class Dojo is an online behavior management tool and it's FREE! You just have to sign up for an account, set up your class, and then you are good to go!!

 This is the set-up for my class for last year with no points. It displays the child's first name, their dojo and their points. This next screen shows the kiddos with some points. 

Students can get points for WHATEVER you want them to!  They are customizable! I made them according to school rules, character traits, or something I wanted the kiddos to work on (like superstar pictures)!

You can also make different awards worth different amounts. For example, kindness is a BIG deal to me. So if I catch a kiddo being kind, in addition to putting a ribbon on the kindness wreath, they also get 2 points! The possibilities are endless. There is also an option to add negative points, but I choose not to do this. I find this is much more successful when I keep it positive!

This website is also phenomenal because you can track your kiddos behavior!! This is a much more beneficial aspect of the website if you are using both positive and negative, but I like to reward my kiddos who are being extra kind or extra responsible.

The last wonderful part of this website is the ability to communicate with parents. You can send home reports daily, weekly, monthly, etc. They can see what behaviors their child was awarded what day and at what time.  It's a great tool for conferences! 

They way that I use Class Dojo in my classroom is for the students to reach a goal of 50 points. When they get 50 points, they get a reward (prize box, coupon, etc.). Then I reset their Dojo points to zero, and they start all over again. This way, NO ONE KNOWS if a certain special friend takes much longer to get to their reward than others. They just get super excited for whoever reaches their goal, whenever they reach it!

As you can tell, I'm a HUGE fan! I've used clip charts in the past and they have worked just fine for me. I just feel that this is a better fit for me as a teacher!

Kindness Wreath
Out of all of the traits that I instill in my kiddos throughout the year, kindness is the most important to me! I really praise my students when they are being kind! I use this kindness wreath as a symbol of each kind act a student has performed. We start with an empty wreath at the beginning of the year, and by the end, it is full of ribbons!! I make a HUGE deal out of getting to put a ribbon on the wreath, meaning maybe only once or twice a day. Thanks to Debbie Clement for the idea!

photo of: ARK Wreath: Acts of Random Kindness, Teaching Kindness to Children

In addition to having an individualized behavior management system, I also have a whole-class management system. Using turn-a-letter, my kiddos are working together as a class to earn a party. Each time they receive a compliment, or are super-well behaved as a whole class, they get to turn a letter. In the end, the letters all spell out what type of party we have!

This year we had: ice cream party, popcorn party, movie party, glow in the dark party, Frozen party, popsicle party, no shoes party, etc. I'm so frustrated I don't have a picture to show it to you in action. I'll find one soon!!

Character Education
I am so into character education it's not even funny. I integrate character ed. into pretty much any teaching situation. That's how important I think it is! I teach it all year long because I feel that it is  a pivotal part of behavior management.

I'm working on a character education pack that will hopefully be finished by the school year! Depends on how much of my pool time I want to squander :)

(Coming SOON!!!!!)

Happy summer! I don't know about you all, but as much as I love talking about school, I still value my precious summertime.

Link up for next week!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday! Want your kids to be kind at recess? (with a FREEBIE!)

Blogging two days in a row? WHAT? I'm definitely going to try to blog more often and since I'm on a roll, I'm going to share one of my favorite books with you for Book Talk Tuesday!! I thought for the next couple of weeks, I would share some of my favorite character education books with you!

These are my favorite books to use when teaching students to be kind. I teach kindness hand in hand with teaching about friendship. The books below are just a few of the books I read to my kinders each year. These books are ESPECIALLY helpful when teaching kindness at recess, which at least for my kiddos, was a really difficult task!

I'm sure that this is not a new find for many of you, but one of my FAVORITE books to read to teach about kindness/friendship is The Recess Queen!

What better kindergarten experience could there be for kiddos to relate to than RECESS? Through this story, Mean Jean, the Recess Queen, learns to be a kind friend when someone asks her to play. The other kiddos realize that she is only mean because she is lonely and wanted a friend.  

It gives them tons of examples of what not to do at recess, especially being physical (which I strongly stress is VERY WRONG while reading). I often read this on the first day of school, right before we go out to our first recess. It is a great way to introduce your recess rules and the importance of being a kind friend! 

Through this book I also make sure that I give my kiddos the language they need to ask someone to play. Some of them are so shy/non-verbal in the beginning of the school year, they use inappropriate language/actions because they don't know how else to ask someone to play!

Another favorite of mine is Chrysanthemum. Poor Chrysanthemum gets made fun of because her name is so different from anyone else's. We see throughout the story how horrible it makes Chrysanthemum feel. In the end, a teacher makes her feel good about herself and proud of her name.

This is also a perfect book to read when teaching kindness at recess, because recess is often a time where kiddos think they can get away with being unkind since they are out of earshot of the teacher. Since in the story, the students never actually apologize to Chrysanthemum for making fun of her, this book is when I introduce our special strategy. You can get get a copy of the language I use with my kiddos for FREE here :)

The students "act out" the apology of the other kiddos to Chrysanthemum and practice our apology strategy this way. Practicing as another "person" gives them the language and tools to use in a non-threatening way.

I also often read Hey Little Ant! This is also a perfect book to read to teach kindness at recess. I cannot tell you how many times I see my little ones ripping branches off of trees or stomping on spiders. They just don't understand that they are hurting another living thing. Hey Little Ant lets kids hear the perspective of the little ant and I find that many of them "see the light."

I often use the motto "Keep nature in nature" when we are out at recess and encourage the kiddos to not only be kind to one another, but kind to nature as well. 

These ideas, read-alouds, and resources are just a smidgen of what is included in my Because I'm Happy! Character Education pack. It's a YEARS worth of read-alouds, posters, activities, emergent readers, craftivities, and more to help teach your primary kiddos the importance of having good character.

It's not done yet, but my goal is to have it finished by summer! We'll see how that goes :)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Missing Person Found!! Monday Made-It (And some FREEBIES)

So I am here to tell you that I am not a missing person. Although, not blogging for 6 MONTHS would almost make me one. I'm so sorry for my long absence. I had a special friend in my class this year, and it was really all I could do to actually make it in the door each morning, much less think about this little blog. But I'm back, and I'm definitely going to be better about blogging more often :)

I've been teaching summer school, and taking the opportunity to get some stuff ready for next year! I FINALLY get to teach the same grade level two years in a row. Kindergarten again next year and I couldn't be more excited! These are some of the things I've been getting ready for next year! (Don't worry, I only stay for an extra 30 minutes each day!! I'm not wasting my precious summer!)

Poetry Station and Shared Reading Complete Set-CC aligned

Being new to kindergarten this year, I bought her poetry pack for August/September with every intention of continuing on throughout the year as my students LOVED it! I just couldn't get it together to have them all set and ready. So, I'm doing it this summer!!

This is just some of my progress. I've managed to cut out/laminate all of the little pieces, and am working on the actual poems on sentence strips right now. I'm about 1/3 the way done! That's pretty good right?

I also convinced my K team that we had to have DeeDee Wills and Deanna Jump's math and writing complete sets! I mean come on, these ladies are amazing! And if you get just one unit, you know you're going to love and it and will be mad at yourself for wasting your money on one when you want the whole pack :) 

Guiding Kinders: Math Units COMPLETE BUNDLE Units 1-10

I didn't want to overwhelm myself, but had a little time for pool reading, so I've completely read through Units 1-5 on DW and DJ's Guided Kinder's: Math Units.

These units are AMAZING. I'm not kidding, I cannot wait to see how much more and how much faster my kiddos grow in their mathematical abilities because of this amazing resource. Not only does it give you detailed lesson plans, but it also organizes and builds on itself in a way that is easy for kids to understand, easy to differentiate, and easy for teachers to prepare. I LOVE IT!

I think I have all of the materials ready for the first 4 units, which should hopefully last me until December(ish). I am just beyond excited to start this in August!

We also purchased DJ and DW's Writer's Workshop: Writing Through the Year pack too! I am also super excited to use this wonderful resource. 

Writers Workshop :Writing Through the Year Bundle Complete

So far, I have managed to get through the first three units. Once again, I am just amazed at how wonderful these ladies are at making fluid lessons that push students, in addition to building off of the unit before. Writing was my biggest struggle as a kindergarten teacher because I felt as if I was modeling too much of what my students were not ready for. These lessons are very developmentally appropriate!

So, now onto my Monday Made-It! I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics to show you some projects I've been working on!

This project is something that I've wanted to make for a LONG time. A new prize box! I'd been waiting and waiting for the wooden treasure chests at Hobby Lobby or Michaels to go on sale, but the more I thought about my little kinder babies, I think if that got dropped it would shatter. So, on to plan B!

Michael's was having a sale on their containers, so I got this guy! It is perfect for a prize box because it is big enough to hold everything, and has a snap lid. My only concern was that it was clear. With a little sparkly scrapbook paper, problem solved! 

This was honestly one of the easiest projects I've done. I just attached the scrapbook paper with scotch tape! My kiddos are not going to be in this that often, and when they are, they won't be ripping at the sides (hopefully haha!). And since the box will be full and you won't see it anyway, I put the tape on the inside. 

This is what the box looks like with a few new prizes in it! Since the box is not totally square, the paper did not go all the way to the edges, but I think it still looks good!

Then I just needed to finish the lid! I put some extra sparkle paper on it and made a little prize box label. You can download it for free here (thanks Creative Clips for the border and Kevin and Amanda for the font!)! 

I feel like it turned out really nice! I'm happy and I'm sure my kiddos will be too with all the lovely prizes they'll earn :) Total cost of this project: $15. ($10 for the box, $5 for the scrapbook paper)

After having students the last few years that struggled with emotional regulation, I knew that for next year, I wanted more resources available in my room to help my students calm themselves down. I had seen this idea of a calming jar on Pinterest before, and had failed at making it! 

The Mind Jar is a meditation tool to use when you are stressed.  When you shake the jar the glitter (your thoughts) are all over the place.  Watch them slowly settle while you calm down.  From blog, "Here We Are Together".

But I finally found an easy way to make this calming jar that I didn't mess up, from Juggling with Kids. It was so easy! All you need is food coloring, some kind of jar/bottle, glitter glue, and warm water! 

I ended up using Gatorade bottles. (Glass in a K classroom? I think not!) For each bottle I added 3 cups of warm water (it needs to be warm/hot to melt the glue), half the bottle of glitter glue (I used Elmer's), and 3-4 drops of food coloring. Just shake/stir to mix. Then I added just a tad more water at the end, but don't make it totally full or the kids can't shake and mix the glitter!

I think they turned out great! These pictures were taken about 1 minute after shaking, and it takes about 5 minutes for the glitter to settle completely. Total cost for this project: $7. ($3 for the glitter glue and $4 for the food coloring)

So I have been reading The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader. I bought it last summer and briefly read through it, but I really wanted to delve more into it! 

After reading the chapter about emergent readers, and learning that the fastest way for students to pick up letters and letter sounds is for them to: a) trace the letter everyday and b) see the same pictures for sounds on everything (wall letters, ABC charts, tracing books, etc.). Since I couldn't find one on TPT that I liked, I made my own!

Now I Know My ABC's is a little 83 page pack I made that includes large ABC posters to hang on your wall, ABC tracing books in color and black and white, and an ABC chart for student reference! 
It is on sale on TPT for 1/2 off today and tomorrow only! And the ABC chart is included as a freebie in the preview file :)

Have a great Monday! I'm so jealous of those of  you in VEGAS!
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