September 26, 2014

Learning the Alphabet - Repetitive Practice!

It's still all about letter practice in Kindergarten! File folder games may seem a bit old school, but they are easy to make, easy to store, and interactive. These games below have students matching uppercase and lowercase letters. Another teacher gave me a few of these games when she switched grade levels, but I believe they came from Carson Dellosa. I personally like the file folder games that are already colored to help save time. :) 

Do you have any of the Lakeshore Instant Learning Centers? I LOVE them so much that I have some for reading, math, and science. They are a bit pricey, so I had to use grant money and PTO money to purchase them, but they are worth it!! I love that they have things colored coded so kids know to get out the purple bag with purple letters and the purple game mat. Most of their centers come with activities for 4 kids. These centers also come with picture directions to help students remember how to play. You just put the game in a center and you're done! No laminating, cutting, coloring, sorting, etc. No, I'm not an affiliate for them, I just like how easy they are!

I worked 1 on 1 with this kid on matching up letters. He doesn't know any of his letters and he really struggled even matching these up. We talked a lot about the shape of the letters; straight, curvy, round, etc. but I wasn't even ready to start working on naming the letters. I didn't want to push him too hard, and I wanted him to feel successful at this instead of sad he didn't know the letters.

Here's some good ol' letter writing practice. It may be boring, but wipe-off markers make everything a bit more fun! Tracing letters helps student learn letter formation, height of letters, and how to follow the lines. 

The students love playing "Pop" which I found at a teacher store, and is made by Learning Resources. Students pull out a letter, say what letter it is, and keep it if correct. If they draw a "pop" card, they have to put all of their letters back in the box. So simple, yet so fun! Differentiate this activity, by having your higher students do the letter and letter sound.

This ladybug letter game from Carson Dellosa can also be differentiated. Some students were working on matching up the letters, while some worked on matching the pictures and then had to say the beginning sound.  Puzzles are always an easy center because they are self-checking and they don't need a lot of explaining. Centers can be a headache, so make it easier on yourself and students by throwing in some activities with little prep and easy directions.

September 23, 2014

It's Fall Y'all - Math Centers for the Fall

It's officially Fall as of 10:29 last night! It's that time to enjoy some football, roast hot dogs, and carve pumpkins. It's my husband's favorite time of the year because he loves the crisp, cool air. I'm already complaining how cold it is and it's just started to get in the 60s; I much prefer to be warm and toasty :) Check out out this cute pullover with my logo on it that my husband got me. I'll definitely be wearing it this Fall. He snuck on my computer, got my logo, and surprised me with this! LOVE it!!

Anyway, as you know I still love teaching with some fun themed games that are still common core aligned. Since it's still early on, we are still learning about numbers and one to one correspondence. This game below can be played as a memory or matching game to work on those skills. Use just the number and picture cards or make it more advanced by adding in the number words. I show my students how to use our math focus wall to find the correct number word if they can't read them yet. 

My students love this game, even though it's so simple. They count the pumpkins, clip the clothespin on the correct number, then flip the card over to check if they got it right. I put a dot on the back of the card on the correct answer to make this a self-checking game. I think they just like using the clothespins. :)

The game below works on counting, 10 frames, numbers, and number words. I make this into a file folder game, but you could just have students match the cards up on the floor or play memory. My students like to turn everything into a memory game! You can find this game FREE in my TPT store.

Here's a super simple game made using the die cutting machine at my school. I just cut out the leaves, put some numbers and dots on, then cut them in half using different cutting techniques. This is yet another self-checking game that took no time to make.

You can find these games and more in my Fall packet which includes games for Science, Reading, and Math. 

September 17, 2014

How to Set Up Literacy Centers

Starting centers at the beginning of the year can always be a nightmare, especially in Kindergarten! We practice working in small groups with very simple activities for awhile, before I actually introduce my center rotation chart. I want students to be able to work together, learn how to stay in one spot, and use appropriate voice levels during center time, before I begin to really implement centers the way I want them to run. 

When it is time to officially start centers, I keep all of my reading center materials and chart in one spot. I have 2 focus walls in my classroom: reading & math. Reading is on one side of the room, and math is the opposite side. This makes it easy for students to know what we are learning, by which wall & side of the room we are facing. I keep my reading centers activities by the reading wall, and the math centers by the math wall. This makes it a lot easier for Kindergarteners.

Keep your center groups small!!! Doing this will help keep students be more focused and quieter. I try to keep groups to 3 students. Depending on my class size, some groups may have 4. I give each group a leader (first name on the center chart) to help answer questions about the center activities, keep noise level appropriate, and get/put away the center tub. Having a leader saves you from hearing all the arguing about who didn't clean up or who gets to go get the tub. 

In the picture above, I have my student names on the left and the 2 centers they go to that day next to their names. I use number cards instead of center names. On the front of my center tubs (pictured below) are the same numbers cards that are on the chart. I also color coordinate the tubs to the table they'll go to. K.I.S.S methon (Keep ISimple Stupid) :)  The number 1 is pink, so they go to the table with the big pink pom pom above it. For the places that don't have a table (library, wipe-off boards, technology) I take a picture of that area & put it onto the number card on the chart. It's hard to see but #8 as a computer in the bottom corner, #7 has a picture of my library. I used to have big open tubs for my activities and they were always so messy! Now everything the students need is in this tub and they stack nicely. I got these tubs at Wal-mart for around $3 I think. I use the same tubs and same center set-up for math. 

Getting centers ready can be very time consuming. I only change a few of the activities out after I feel like students have gotten enough practice with them. I also let my students choose 1 activity (if they want) from each container that they want to keep in there a bit longer. I have a few permanent centers that I never have to worry about: wipe off boards, library, & computers/iPad. I made these wipe-off boards from shower board at Lowes. They cut it down for me to 12x12 boards for FREE b/c I was a teacher! I then added duct tape to make it pretty and protect students from the possible sharp edges.

Here are a few center rotation cards that I have used in the past. The cards below come from my  Reading & Math Center bundle. These cards are editable so you can add your own text.
Theses Literacy Center cards are a bit more specific and include 24 different cards. You can edit these as well. 

September 11, 2014

Chicka Chicka 1-2-3

What book would I naturally use after teaching Chicka Chicka Boom Boom? Chicka Chicka 1-2-3 of course! I can tie this book into many of my match centers and use it during shared reading to introduce comparing/contrasting. It will also help me lead into our Apple unit which is just around the corner. 

Since we talked about dice and counting during the first 20 days of math, this game was a great way to practice those skills. Students rolled a dice, said the number they rolled, then added that many apples to their tree.
This next game was probably the students favorite activity during math centers. I put number cards 1-20 and some bumble bee cards into a cup. Students took turns pulling a card and saying the number. If they knew the number, they kept the card, if not, they put the card back. When they drew the bumblebee card, the bees scared their number cards away, and they had to put them all back in the cup. Whoever had the most number cards at the end of the center time won. We played a game similar to this in our literacy centers while working on letters. I couldn't find an apple container, so we just borrowed the coconut that we used the previous week from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. It did kind of drive me nuts that it wasn't an apple. :)
The game below is played just like my Chicka Chicka Alphabet game, but works on numbers instead. It can be played multiple ways for students to work on numbers 1-20.  
We played the version of the game that uses this game board below. Students picked a number, said the number, and if correct got to roll the dice and move around the board. They had to watch out for the tricky card that said "stung by a bee, lose a turn". You can find this game in my store.
The worksheet below is to help students work on writing numbers 1-10. Students were to color the apples the same color of apples that they like to eat. Next, they used a black crayon to write the numbers 1-10 on the apples. Students could add the number 100 to the top of the tree if they wanted to, just like in the book. Finally, they could color the tree and page border if time allows. 
Click the picture below to get this for FREE!!!
Grab the Chicka Chick 1-2-3 movie below for a fun way to finish your Chicka Chicka units or for some inside recess fun!

September 8, 2014

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

I've been out of the blogging world for a week because I was helping my baby sister with last minute wedding details before her wedding this past Saturday! Doesn't she look beautiful!!!
Now onto the blogging...Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is one of my favorite shared reading stories to do at the beginning of the year. The pattern in the book is easy for students to catch on to and it is great letter practice. There are SO many activities that can go along with this story!

I spend a week on this story and read it during our Shared Reading time. By the end of the week, the students are able to read most of the book themselves. I also include many Chicka themed activities in our literacy centers. 

In our library/listening center, I let students listen to the story on CD and use this Chicka Chicka tree to act out the stories. This is always a favorite center! You can find this tree from Lakeshore
Below are some activities I put in some of my "word work" tubs.  I've used these activities for years and don't remember where I got them. If you created these or know who did, please let me know so I can give them credit!
Students get to help the letters climb the tree.
This is a great way to practice names too. Students stamp their names up the coconut tree.
Students color the Chicka tree on the front, then trace the alphabet.
I created a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom themed game for students to work on uppercase and lowercase letters. Of course I forgot to take a picture of my own product in action. Geez!
A fun way to end our week of is to watch the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom movie. It's so cute to hear the kids sing along with the video and they love seeing the letters animated! They always ask to watch it a 2nd time. 

Below are 2 crafts I've made in the past during our Friday craft time. As you can see the 1st craft is a great way to get some more name practice in. To make this craft go a bit faster, in advance I get all the letters ready for each child's name. I then put all the kid's names that sit at the same table in one ziploc bag. This way the students still have to search through some letters to build their name, but they aren't having to dig through a whole box of foam letters. Can you still tell it's the beginning of the year? :)
The craft below uses alphabet cereal to make Chicka Chicka Boom Boom trees. After making the coconut tree, students can glue on some letters climbing up the tree or at the top of the tree. When we're finished, I give them each a handful of cereal to eat!

You can get a FREE template for the Chicka Trees by clicking here. 

September 1, 2014

Currently ~ September 2014

I'm excited to be linking up for the 1st time with Farley for her "Currently" monthly   party. I love seeing what everyone is up to each month, and now that I am finally a blogger, I get to participate! Yay! Let's see what I'm up to...

Listening: I'm catching up on some Real Housewives of Orange County on my DVR. It's the reunion episode which is typically just a bunch of yelling. I do however LOVE all of the Real Housewives show and DVR each series. Which series is your favorite?

Loving: I'm loving the flexibility of working from home! If you haven't been following me, I have left my Kindergarten position to help my husband with our business. When I get done with whatever is needed for the day, I have more time to TPT, volunteer at my old school, lay out, shop, whatever I feel like ;)

Thinking: I have gotten a lot of clipart lately with the TPT sale and Creative Clips big 15,000 follower extravaganza.  I have lots of ideas for new products, and can't wait to use all my new adorable clipart. 

Wanting: I've on my 2nd round of the 3 Weeks No Cheats and I've been trying to work out 3-4 times a week, eat healthier, and not eat candy. I LOVE candy and it's SO hard to go to a gas station and not grab some Dots, Laffy Taffy, Twizzlers, etc. I've been doing really good b/c I do know I need to get in shape for my trip to Hawaiii coming up. 

Needing: Since I've been working out more, my legs are sore!! I need a nice long massage to make me feel better. I think I could get a massage every day and never get sick of them. 

3 Trips: Hawaii, Australia, and Key West are 3 places I would love to visit. I'm actually going to Hawaii in just a few short months with some of our best friends. SUPER EXCITED!!! 2 of my sisters have been to Australia and said it was amazing, and they'd love to go back. Key West is beautiful and many friends have told me it's a fun party place! Hopefully someday I'll get to visit Australia and Key West.

Head on over to Farley's blog to link up and let everyone know what you are up to! I hope you all have a SUPER September!!