March 30, 2015

Engaging Centers and Crafts Just in Time for Easter

To make our room festive for Easter, we create these small bunny baskets and I give students the chance to bring in something small for their classmates, similar to what I do with their stockings at Christmas. These Easter baskets are super easy to make: you just need a few plates, construction paper, and Easter grass! My students get to choose what colors they want to use for their grass and bunny ears/nose. 

Another easy craft are these "peek-a-boo" bunnies, and they are always a hit in my class! I give my students 2 ovals and have them decorate one any way they want to, and then they make a bunny face on the second oval. Make sure your students color the top egg first before cutting it in half. I go around and assemble them with metal brads as they are working on their bunny face. 
I finally got around to updating my Easter bundle and ended up adding 3 new games to it! It now includes 6 math and 5 literacy activities for your students to get lots of egg-stra practice! ;) 
We've been working on place value, so this Place Value Peeps game gives my students a lot of reinforcement during center time. They just clip the clothespin on the correct number, then flip it over to see if they got the right answer (I put a black dot behind the correct number).
This is a simple worksheet where students break up the number into tens and ones.
My students love doing these graphs with the dry erase markers and the dice, so I have a set of 2 graphs for each month in my A Year of Graphing Bundle! I do hold them accountable by making them fill out the response sheet about their graph after they finish. 
You can also just use it as a worksheet too instead of putting it in a page protector. 
This Number Chicks game helps students work on their number, number words, and 1-1 correspondence. 
Syllables always seem to be a hard skill for Kindergarteners to get, so this Easter Syllables game gives them a bit more practice clapping out the syllables in each picture.
This is a new game in my bundle and it is helping my students work on the middle sound they hear in the word. They simply had to cut out the pictures on the bottom and glue it into the correct cup that matches the middle sound in the word. I made 5 different versions so they can get a lot of practice on short vowels.
We are needing more practice on word families, so I use this Egg-celent Word Families game in my literacy centers. My high students use the cards with 3 letter word families, while my lowers students are still using the 2 letter word family cards.
I hope you have an EGG-CELENT Easter!!!

March 28, 2015

Spring Teacher Blogger Meetup 2015

A few weekends ago, I attended the Spring Teacher Blogger Meet Up in French Lick, IN. Holly and Brittany arranged the WHOLE thing and it was an AWESOME weekend!!! You may have already seen a little bit about our meet-up and what I received at the Teacher Tool Swap party if you read my previous post. Being from Indiana, I have been to the French Lick hotel and casino a few times. If you live in the area, you should definitely check it out! The hotel is gorgeous and the staff was very friendly, considering we had over 100 chatty teachers there all weekend! I wasn't able to attend last year, so I was super pumped to go this year and meet everyone.  

Jessica from Mrs. Plemons Kindergarten, Melissa from Mrs. Dailey's Classroom, and Megan from Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade and I all roomed together over the weekend. I know Jessica and Melissa from our collaborative blog The Elementary Entourage. It's funny how much we talk online and seem to know so much about each other, even though we've never met.  It was great to finally meet them in person and give them a hug! 
Jessica was our mom during the trip! She brought all of us a little gift bag of goodies and she packed a whole bag of snacks for our drive and weekend! What a sweetheart!! Can you tell we all like pink?
We each got 5 raffle tickets when we got to the meet up room and we could pick 5 things that we wanted to win and I won one!! Dana gave away a bundle of the Younique mascara, eyeliner, and lip gloss that she sells. I LOVE playing around with makeup, so this was perfect for me to win. I have seen people selling this Younique mascara on Facebook, and I always wondered if it was worth the hype.  I have to say that I do really like it!! I don't have very long eyelashes, and even my husband noticed they were fuller and longer when I use this. (she seriously did not pay me to say that, I was just really impressed) She also makes these super cute shirts with any design you want. I had asked her to make me one with my blog name, and look what she came up with. LOVE IT!!
Besides winning that, check out all of the swag we got!! Thanks so much to Lakeshore, Very Bradley, Scentos, Teachers Pay Teachers, Go NoodleErin Condren, Creative Teaching Press, Brenda from Origami Owl and Cierra from Scentsy for your donations. You should have seen how excited the teachers were to go down the line and get their FREEBIES! 
Wanna win all this swag? We're having a giveaway and 3 people get to win all this stuff we got at our meet up, just enter below!!!

We also had time to go to different sessions to learn more about blogging, social media, TPT, etc. I learned about fitting it all in from Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasboard, the business side of TPT from Christina at Miss Decarbo, Pinterest/Facebook from Brenda at Primary Inspired and Amanda at The Primary Gal. It was nice to get suggestions and ideas from people that have already been doing this for awhile. 

Saturday night we had a PJ PARTY!!! Yes, even grown ups like to have PJ parties and stay up chatting/partying with all of their friends! We had snacks, a pillow decorating station, Go Noodle dance party, and a photo booth. THANK YOU SO MUCH to Go Noodle and Teachers Pay Teachers for sponsoring this fun night!!!! 
Earlier in the day we each decorated a letter to spell out a mystery word, which was INSPIRATION. Our table thought we had a lowercase i to decorate...come to find out it was the exclamation point .LOL! This weekend and all these fabulous teachers were a HUGE inspiration! I can't wait to see these new friends again in Vegas! 

I finally met Greg this weekend from Kindergarten Smorgasboard this weekend. He's got such a fun personality and is SO nice to everyone! I had met Mel D from Seusstastic at the Vegas meet up when I went to her Pinterest session, but it was really great to see her again. Mel's super nice and I love her laid back personality! Sarah from A Rocky Top Teacher and I had also met in Vegas, but I was really happy to catch up with her again also. She's getting married soon, woohoo!! Find her in Vegas if you go, b/c she's a sweetheart and has a really cute accent.  
Here are my girls Maja, Melissa, Kelsey, and Jessica from our collaborative blog The Elementary Entourage!! We snagged Holly to get in our picture too! It was so much fun getting to meet these ladies in person finally! 
Another picture with my Elementary Entourage peeps! This time we got Amanda in it!! We all got to bring our business cards to share so we can keep in touch. Check out all those cute designs! I had so much fun on our car ride and this weekend with Melissa, Casey, and Jessica. We just had to snap one more picture before we all went our separate ways! 
It was so much fun being around other people that love the same things that I do! It was a great opportunity to share ideas and build friendships. Thanks again Holly and Brittany for all of your planning and hard work! 
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March 25, 2015

Alphabet Activities and Letter Recognition Practice for Kindergarten Students

Even though it's March, I'm sure you still have some students that are STILL struggling with their letters. Maybe they just moved into your district, maybe they didn't have preschool, but whatever the reason, they need some extra practice! We've all been there and it's hard to get that kid caught up, when the rest of the class is already reading. I've made 5 different sets of activities that work on writing, naming, and recognizing, uppercase and lowercase letters. For students that aren't grasping their alphabet easily, REPETITION is key! 

This activity below can be put together as an ABC book or used in journals as an interactive notebook. I chose to make it an ABC book, so we could refer to it often and "hunt" for letters. 
Once you staple the book, students will work on coloring, tracing, writing, and finding letters. We do a few pages a day. Once finished, I'll say "find me the letter ___" this helps me see if they know their letters AND it helps them start to learn the order of the alphabet. Your more advanced kids will start at the back of the book if they are looking for V because they know it's at the end of the alphabet. 
To make this an interactive notebook: Students will cut on the black lines to make "flaps", then glue the page into their books. They can lift up their flap and draw a picture that begins with that sound or practice writing the letter some more. 
For more practice recognizing and writing letters, use this Letter Ladders game. Students roll the dice, name the letter, then write that letter on one of the rungs of the ladder. To make this more difficult, give students the uppercase dice, and have them find the lowercase letter to write. 
 Who does't love spinner games? In Letter Lollipops, students simple spin a letter, name the letter, find that letter, then color it.
It is important for students to not only recognize their letters, but recognize them in different fonts. Words in books, signs, TV, computers, etc. won't always be written in Zaner Bloser or D'Nealian font, so they need to be able to recognize that letter even if it's "fancy" as my students like to say. 
If you have students that are still struggling mastering their letters after the first few months, you may needs to start some regular fluency practice. One thing that I find extremely helpful to work on recognizing and naming letters fluently are my Letter Naming Fluency assessments. These are in a similar format to the DIBELS assessment the students takes 3 times a year. Show students the “master copy” of the assessments, and you refer to the ”student packets”. Students will try to name as many letters as possible within one minute. Students just need to say the letter name, not “uppercase A, lowercase d”. They love trying to see how many they can name before the timer runs out. I love it because they are becoming more fluent! I typically don't show students the timer so they don't get distracted by it, but I wanted to include it in this picture to show you how I assess them.

Here is the teacher copy of the assessment. I make "student packets" by stapling all of the assessments together and put their results sheet on top. I like having all of their assessments in one spot in case I need it for report card time, parent-teacher conference, RTI meeting, etc. When a student says a letter incorrectly, you put a slash through it on that assessment page. If after 3 seconds they don’t say the letter correctly, count it wrong, and prompt them to move on. I also put a bracket where they stopped. Count and tally how many letters they missed. Record it at the bottom of the page, then graph how they did on your “results” page. I pull students once a week to give this assessment and see how they are progressing.
I use this graphing sheet to keep track of my students progress along the way. This helps me see if they are making progress or hitting a plateau. I let my students graph their results, so they are aware of their progress as well. 
You can find all of these activities in my RTI Printables Letter Bundle. Hopefully this repeated practice of letters will help your students recognize and name letters more fluently! Use this with your RTI kiddos or snatch is up for the beginning of the year!

If you're looking for a way to teach the alphabet and include movement, learn about my Physical Phonics Alphabet here

March 22, 2015

Teacher Tool Gift Exchange Linky

This past weekend, I joined over 100 teachers for the Spring Blogger Meet Up at the French Lick Resort in French Lick, IN. It was AMAZING!!! During the meet up, we all brought our favorite teaching tool and did a swap with other teachers in our grade level. My teacher tool gift came from Emily who blogs at A Neighborhood Kindergarten. This weekend was my first time meeting Emily and she is SOOOO sweet and I love her little accent!! Go check out her blog, because she has some great ideas and her classroom looks like it's a ball!
At the teacher tool swap, I received some Frixion markers, Cadbury Creme Eggs, and a TPT gift certificate to her store
Have you seen these Pilot Frixion Colors Erasable MarkersThe Frixion markers are not only colorful, but erasable!! Emily says she uses them a lot with anchor charts, so if you mess up, it's no big deal! This reminded a lot of us of the erasable pens that we used to use in grade school. I LOVE these markers and will be using them ALL the time!! 
“Tickled Pink in Primary is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
They really do erase!! How cool is that?!?! My new favorite thing!! 
I just had to use them one more time!!
Emily had asked her students for suggestions about what to bring as her teacher tool swap gift. A little girl named Gigi really thought hard about this and came in the next day telling her about these really cool chocolate eggs she saw that she thought a teacher would really like. How cute is that!
I also got $5 to spend in Emily's store, so I think I'm going to get her Beginning Sound QR codes. I love that it integrates technology into literacy and my students already know how to use a QR code reader. This will be great extra practice for a few of mine that are still mastering beginning sounds. 
Check back soon, because we'll be doing another link up where you can see all the fun we had in French Lick!

March 17, 2015

5 Activities for Working on Word Families

We've been working on word families as we are trying to become more fluent with our reading. Word families help students start to recognize word patterns. To begin teaching word families, I use these word family mats. I got these write & wipe word family mats from Lakeshore a long time ago, and sadly when I looked at their website, it says these are discontinued. When introducing word families, I use these mats in our whole group lesson. It's a great way to show students that they just switch the beginning sound to create a new word. I love how these mats give students a clue of the word family by having the mats in a giant shape of a word in that family. 
After we work on these mats in whole group, I can then use them for small group or center work. My students really enjoy these mats, and they seem to catch on to the idea of word families quickly. My students love to show me when they use a blend or digraph to make a bigger word. Word families are an easy way to help build student confidence in reading!
During my small group, we used these mini cups to work on word families. I gave students a cup with a red word family on it. They then had a stack of blue letters, and put one letter in front of the word family to make a new word. Next, they could stack another blue letter on top of the other cup to make a new word. The word family cup (red) doesn't move until they've built 5 words. They can then get a new word family and start making new words. Eventually, I'll add harder word families and blend/digraphs instead of just 1 letter on the cups. 
I made some super easy word family dice. I grabbed some blocks from our math manipulatives and added beginning sounds and word families. Students roll a word then write it on their wipe off board. Students can also say if it's a real or nonsense word that they rolled. I put a few dice in this center so they can make a variety of words. 
I have some of the Lakeshore Instant Centers that I got with a grant a few years back. This game works on word families and has students match words to the correct family. I couldn't find this game on the Lakeshore website either! I hate that they've discontinued some of my favorite activities.
If you want your students to work on word families AND get the wiggles out, this Word Families Fluency & Fitness bundle will be perfect! Your class won't even realize they are learning!
If you are looking for more word family activities, check out the ones I have in my TPT store.

March 15, 2015

Teacher's Pets Linky Party

I'm linking up with some of my friends to tell you all about our pets! I have 2 puggles (pug/beagle mix), but they are not brother and sister. We got Barkley back when we graduated from college and moved into our first apartment. After about a year, we felt that he needed a friend, so we got Zoey. Barkley is 9 years old and Zoey is almost 7. They LOVE each other and snuggle ALL the time!!
Barkley has more pug in him and he LOVES to eat! He's a little husky, but I swear you'd think we never fed the guy. He can't wait for breakfast and dinner and then scarfs down his food, then gives us a look like "is that all?". Barkley is also very attached to us. He likes to sit with us on the couch, follow us around the house, and even stand in between me and the cabinets when I cook. 

Zoey has more of the Beagle side in her and she loves to chase things. She is also a mama's girl and love to snuggle with me. She is much more laid back than Barkley and enjoys just sitting in the sun, enjoying the weather. 
I only have a few products that could go along with a pet theme you have in your classroom. Dog Gone Good Number Games works on number words, counting 1-10, and 1-1 correspondence. 
Sometimes the people that have a pet fish get left out as being pet owners, so here's a game for them! My students LOVE to play Go Fish during their free play, so I decided to make a sight word version to throw in literacy centers. They are really enjoying it and all I have to do is switch out the cards every so often. 
When we moved into our house, we had these 4 built in cubbies in the entry way. We decided to make the other 2 cubbies for Barkley and Zoey! 

We got these nameplates made at Things Remembered with all of our names on them. :) I also love shopping at HomeGoods and found this cute frame and treat jar there!

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