June 29, 2015

6 Ways to Teach Nursery Rhymes in Kindergarten and Preschool

Nursery Rhymes are a great way to start off the year to help students learn patterns in text, build fluency, and increase confidence in reading. Even my shyest students will read along with the nursery rhymes because they are easy for young students to learn. We spend 1 week on each rhyme and practice it each day with a different activity. This really help students become fluent as well as learn some text features for their future reading skills. Here are a few of the activities I use in my classroom when introducing nursery rhymes.
1. Whole Group Poster - I put these small posters in sheet protectors on my wipe-off board. I introduce the poem the first day and have students repeat each sentence back and then we try reading it all together. Throughout the week, we will use the poem to hunt for sight words, capital letters, the letter/sound of the week, punctuation, rhyming words, etc. When introducing the poem, we go over any vocabulary words they may not know, and any history behind the poem. You can also start to introduce the concept of fiction/non-fiction. Soooo many possibilities!!
2. Vocabulary/Retelling Cards - I use these cards to introduce vocabulary words in each poem, but then we can also use them for retelling the story. During the week, I give the students some smaller vocabulary cards for them to color and take home. I add the poem and the cards to my library center for students to work on retelling more.
3. Sequencing Worksheets - We all know how important sequencing is to learn, so I incorporate it with my nursery rhyme lessons. We typically do this worksheet at the end of the week when the students are more familiar with the poem. 
4. Emergent Readers -For students to practice reading independently and to work on book concepts, each student gets a small book of each nursery rhyme. Once colored, we practice as a group pointing to the words as we read the rhyme. Even at the very beginning of Kindergarten, students can learn to use the pictures to help them know what is going on in the book and they can somewhat follow along with the text.  
I let them pick a partner and go practice reading it together. Students enjoy taking this home because they can show off their reading skills to their family. It's something to be proud of!!
5. Poem Folders/Books - I also give students a copy of the poem to put in their poem folders or you could make a small book like this. They get to illustrate the picture then circle the sight words. In case you don't have poem folders, I made an example of how you could make small nursery rhyme books with all 10 nursery rhymes.  
Please ignore the drawing skills---they're horrible! ;)
6. Comprehension Worksheet - Finally, at the end of the week, I give a short comprehension quiz. In Kindergarten, I don't take grades, but it's nice to see who is comprehending and paying attention to the details in the poems. I also like seeing their writing progress throughout the months on the open ended question at the bottom. 
We also discuss characters, settings, and do a lot of comparing/contrasting during our nursery rhyme lessons. If you like some of the ideas above, you're in luck! I have bundled 10 sets of nursery rhymes that include all the activities above and more! You can find this Nursery Rhyme bundle in my TPT store.
Here are the Nursery Rhymes that are included in this bundle. You can use this for 10 weeks of learning!!
-Mary Had a Little Lamb
-Hey Diddle Diddle
-Little Miss Muffet
-Row, Row, Row Your Boat
-Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
-Baa Baa Black Sheep
-Humpty Dumpty
-The Itsy Bitsy Spider
-Jack and Jill
-Hickory Dickory Dock

June 26, 2015

Summer Stock Up SALE- Classroom Decor & Technology Integration

I'm linking up with Amanda from The Primary Gal for her Summer Stock Up Hop. I am going to show you a few classroom decorations you can use to brighten up your room! I also have some tips of how to integrate technology into your day. Get ready to read, because this is a bit of a long post, but it's SO worth reading b/c you'll get TWO freebies by the end!!!

Classroom Decor
Here's a peek into my classroom! I use black as my base color and then brighten it up with polka dots and bright colors (pink, blue, lime green, purple). I love how the pom poms add some color to the ceiling. I use the pom poms to distinguish my table colors. I can quickly tell the "green table" to line up or the "purple table" can go to the rug.
Since I've shared pictures from my classroom before, I'm going to show you pictures from a few of my classroom theme packs. All of my theme packs are the same, I just switch the theme. Below are a bunch of examples of things included in my theme packs. Here is a number line from my Alligator Classroom MEGA Pack.
Here are the days of the week, months of the year, and color posters from that bundle as well.
I made this Jungle Safari Theme pack this summer and think it is SO cute! I love this clipart from Kristen (Creative Clips) Here are a few of the name tags included. I also have name tags without the alphabet and numbers. I like to use different colors for student's first and last names to help them differentiate the two.
This Penguin classroom theme pack was a request from last year, but I love the purple and lime green colors this teacher requested. I use the dismissal cards attached to ribbon as pictured below. I then use clothespins with student's names and put them on the ribbon for their dismissal. It's so easy to just move the clothespin to another ribbon if a student switches how they go home that day. All the numbers are the student's bus number. I post this next to my door, so I can check it right before we leave for the day. If I kid has a note about a different dismissal, I also clip it to their clothespin, so it catches my eye to remember the change.
I like to show my students our learning objectives for the week. I put them in sheet protectors so they are instantly wipe-off! The students start to look at these on Monday to see what we are learning and will tell me, I already know what letters and words we are learning! Students like to have a schedule and this gives them an idea of what the week will look like. These are in my Sports Theme bundle.
I just made this Racing Classroom theme pack this summer as a request for another teacher and I love it! Here's a sample of the behavior clip chart that is in the bundle. Clip charts are a great way to reward positive choices and not focus so much on the poor choices students make. If students get to the top of the chart, they get to decorate their clothespin with a jewel! Yes, even the boys get excited for this. 
Are you ready for your FREEBIE?? This welcome banner is included in my Polka Dot theme pack and I thought it was something simple many teachers could use. Hang it above your desk or your classroom door to add a pop of color! Get the whole Polka Dot theme pack on SALE this weekend only!
Click the picture below to grab this FREEBIE!!!
If you are still looking for a classroom theme, but don't see what you're looking for, click here to see what other themes I have!
Technology Integration
I love integrating technology into my classroom because students are much more engaged! I use QR code activities, iPad apps, websites, and a smart board. Last year I started creating my Fluency & Fitness bundles to integrate technology and brain breaks. Teachers simply project the file onto their big screen and students say what is on the screen. Occasionally, an exercise screen pops up for added fun! I have it so the teacher can control how fast or slow the slides go, therefore they can go slow at the beginning of the year, and fast at the end of the year. 

Below these students are using the CVC Words Fluency & Fitness and on the right, the students are doing one of the Number Sense Fluency & Fitness games. 
Here's a first grade class doing the Number Fluency & Fitness. They LOVE the push-ups and it's so funny to watch them do them!
My 4 year old nephew loves doing Fluency & Fitness, so the last time I visited him we did the Letter Fluency & Fitness bundle. He went through the mixed alphabet set like it was nothing! #proudaunt ;) 
Still not convinced your kiddos will love Fluency & Fitness? Try it out first by grabbing this FREE sample of my Letter Fluency and Fitness bundle. Then, grab the whole Letter Fluency & Fitness on SALE this weekend only!!
This last tip is actually something one of my co-workers did. She has a friend that is a fireman, so for fire safety week in October, they Skyped with him. He was showing them the fire station, his equipment, etc. Then, the coolest thing happened...the sirens went off! He asked if they wanted to keep Skyping and follow him on their ride in the fire truck! When it was too loud to talk on Skype, they typed him questions and he'd respond. What a cool experience!! 
Thanks for reading until the end! I hope you find these FREEBIES helpful. Don't forget to click below to find more Freebies!

June 22, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Dare to Dream

This week's challenge was to blog about your goals and dreams for your TPT business.

I have traveled quite a bit in my life, but can you ever get sick of traveling? We recently went to St. Thomas and St. John with my husband's business and finally Blake enjoyed the beach life! He never really wanted to go to a beach for vacation, but once I finally got him there, he loved it. If you saw my posts a few weeks back, you know Vegas is a bit more his style. :) I would love to have more time to travel and maybe one day go to Australia! 
Since it's just me and Blake, we do like giving back especially around the holidays. We filled our truck up with food for a local food bank around Thanksgiving and then for Christmas we donated a lot of clothes and toys to a local organization. TPT allows me to give back even more!
I would love to do some professional development for teachers and for future TPTers. I get a bit nervous talking in front of adults and sometimes think "what the heck do I know that they don't already". When I go to professional development, I always learn new things or get reminded of something I've heard before and never ended up implementing, so may I would have something to offer. My goal this year is to look for more opportunities to share my ideas with teachers whether it be just in my district or at a state conference. 

I am so grateful for Teachers Pay Teachers and blogging! It has opened so many doors for me and I've been able to make some really great friends. Check back next week for the 3rd challenge.

June 16, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Makeover Madness

I'm really excited to join so many other TPT bloggers in the TPT Seller Challenge! Each week we will have a challenge to complete to make our business better. I've slowly been updating my old products this year, but I hadn't gotten around to updating my Sight Word Rainbow Writing. It was one of the first products I uploaded when I started my store a few years ago. Look how ugly it was! UGH! Even my husband said "yeah, that is bad". LOL! 
Before: As you can tell, I hadn't yet discovered the world of cute fonts, clipart, and backgrounds. I was only using the free stuff I could find on TPT and the typical fonts found in Word (yes, I used to make products in Word---HORRIBLE!) Holy cow have I learned so much!! I only knew 1 person that did TPT and we didn't talk all that often, so I had no clue what I was doing. Thank goodness to the TPT forum and to my new Facebook and bloggy friends! How did people actually buy this product when it looked so boring? 

After: I've add page borders, cute fonts, my copyright :), and a whole new spunky cover! I also added 3 dice to this game so teachers can switch it out to keep making the game a bit different. 
This activity is editable, so you can put in your own sight words. I have the sight words from our reading series, but it's super easy to change them. I have my students use skinny markers when working on writing because it writes a lot like a pencil, but is much more fun! Fat markers are a bit harder, especially to fit a big word in a small space.
Students can use the smiley faces, happy stars, or cute colorful kids when rolling their dice. Whatever color they roll, is the color they use to write down a sight word. Click the picture below to find the *NEW* and improved Rainbow Writing and it's on SALE right now!!
As I was looking at my beginning stats of of my followers, I realized I never linked up my blog to my Blog Lovin' button at the top of my blog. Geez! Make sure you are following me everywhere to get the latest news of products, FREEBIES, giveaways, etc.

Thanks so much to these girls for putting together this TPT Seller Challenge! Visit their page to enter to win a $100 gift card! 

June 12, 2015

20 Dollar Tree Finds For All Teachers

Teachers LOVE a good deal and the Dollar Tree is one of my favorite places. Since we have to spend so much of our own money on our classroom, getting a good deal is important. My husband hates going in the store with me because he knows I'll just wander around wondering "what can I use this for?" :) When everything is so cheap, it's hard to determine what is junk and what is worth buying. Besides going down the teacher aisle and getting the obvious teacher supplies, I wanted to show you a few finds that I've used in my classroom that are worth purchasing. 

1. Clothespins - I use clothespins for many things in my classroom and these hold up just as good as if you bought them anywhere else. Clothespins are great for a clip chart, lunch count board, clip the sound, etc. 
2. Craft Supplies - Pipe cleaners, foam stickers, beads, glue sticks, foam, etc. are things that don't really matter the quality, so these are just fine for many of the crafts that I do. I don't buy their construction paper, crayons, or glue because those I don't think are that great.
3. Stickers - I use stickers in my writing center for "sticker stories" and I use them when grading student's papers. They are so much cheaper here than the teacher store, and honestly my students only get excited to get their sticker for about 5 seconds, so why waste money on them! 
4. Labels - Whether you are labeling folders or needing name tags, the Dollar Tree has a lot of labels. They typically have these cute labels during the back to school season. I stock up on them and use them for field trips.
5. Contact Paper - I use contact paper for a variety of things. To cover paper back books to make them sturdier, to cover my numbered circles on the floor for my line-up order, and patterned contact paper to re-cover filing cabinets.
6. Containers - I have SOOOO many containers from the Dollar Tree. Last year they had all the colors in my classroom so I really stocked up. I use them for book baskets, my small group table, art center, clipboards, etc. 
7. Sorting Trays - These are great to work on sorting in Math. You can also use these to organize craft supplies for each table or math manipulatives they'd need for an activity. 
8. Facial Scrubbers - I use these as mini erasers for our dry-erase boards. They come in 4 bright colors and they go perfect with my polka dot themed classroom!
9. Headphones - I went through a lot of headphones for my computer center and they would break or stop working. Now, I just grab these cheap ones because they work just as good.
10. Silly Glasses - The Dollar Tree has so many funny glasses that my students love wearing when they do "Read the Room". I don't have to worry if the break because they were only $1! 
11. Pointers - There are a variety of things you could use for pointers, but I think these wands are pretty sturdy. The colors also go with my bright colored classroom! My students use these and the silly glasses for their "Read the Room" activities.
12. Flyswatters - I use these to play "Splat". We play this in small group and whole group to work on sight words or any other skill. For sight words, I put words on flashcards and lay about 8 of them on the floor. Students have to smack the sight word that I say. 
13. Slinkies - Besides just being fun to play with, these mini slinkies are great to use in my reading group. I teach kids to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out words. They pull the slinky apart each time they say a sound in the word. SUPER FUN!
14. Push Lights - Dollar Tree has these lights in a few different shapes. I use these in my small group if we are playing a game and I have them "buzz" in. We also work on phoneme segmentation and put 3 down and click one light for each sound we hear in the CVC word.
15. Pocket charts - These small pocket charts are great for individual students to work on building words, matching games, sorting, etc. I also use them on my reading and math wall for vocabulary cards when I don't need a huge pocket chart.
16. Wipe Off Boards - I have used these individual wipe off boards to throw in center tubs. You can also find a standard size wipe off board too, which I use during reading groups. 
17.  Flashcards - If you need some cheap flashcards to throw in centers, send home with students, or give to a volunteer that works 1-1 with students, the Dollar Tree has a variety of flashcards. 
18. Playing Cards - I use playing cards in my math centers a lot. The cards are a bit more flimsy than some you'd get at Target or Walmart, but they are fine for classroom use. It's a lot cheaper to get them at the Dollar Tree when you are buying 10+ packs. 
19. Dice - you can get small dice there, but these jumbo dice are so much more fun to use! I throw these in math centers and the students love them!
20. Puzzles - I use puzzles at the beginning of the year to work on team building. Students can also use them during their "free play" time at the end of the day or during inside recess. The Dollar Tree always changes their puzzles, so you can get new ones all year long. If you lose a piece, you're only out $1 if you have to throw it away. Some of the boxes are sturdier than others. If they don't hold up, I just put the puzzle in a plastic art box and cut out the cover of the box so they can still see how to make the puzzle. 
I don't work for or get paid anything from the Dollar Tree for posting this (I wish!). I'm just trying to help another teacher out by saving you money and knowing what's worth buying for $1 and what's worth buying elsewhere. I also LOVE the Target dollar spot, but they change their selection ALL the time and it's not always the same everywhere around the country. The nice thing about the Dollar Tree, is that these items are available all year round and at every Dollar Tree I've been too.

Do you have any other suggestions of great finds you've seen at the Dollar Tree?