July 17, 2015

10 FREE Apps for Kindergarten that Students Love

I love incorporating technology into my whole group lessons and center time. One way I let students work with technology is by having an iPad center for my literacy centers and my math centers. I only have 1 iPad with 3 kids at a center, so they have to learn how to share. Here's a list of 10 FREE apps I used in the classroom and tips of how to organize them on an iPad.

To help younger students navigate to the correct games, I divide the games into 2 folders: reading & math. This way your students know which folder to open up, depending on what center time it is.  I didn't add them to the folder until we had learned that skill. We also play the game a few times whole group (projected on my Apple TV) so students know how to find the app, skip over the ads, and navigate the app.  Most of these apps have a paid version if you don't want to mess with the ads or you want the extra levels.
Literacy Apps
At the beginning of Kindergarten, learning the alphabet and forming letters is crucial! This app Phonics Island helps students learn how to trace letters correctly and it gives them "green light" and "red light" hints of where to start and stop. If they don't trace it exactly, it makes them start over. After they trace the letter, it makes the letter sound and says the name of the animal that starts with that sound. 
My students actually really enjoyed this Beginning Phonics app. It simply has them match the picture to the correct beginning sound. It tells them the name of the picture as well, in case they can't figure it out. I like that this app uses real life images. I think they like watching the fun animation go across the screen when they get one right. :)
How cute is this penguin? This Spelling with Cimo Sound Out app helps students build words. It has the letters mixed up at the bottom of the screen and students have to move each letter in the correct order, so the penguin can walk across the ice. The app has 6 levels of play with more difficult sounds such as bossy r, long vowels, irregular vowels, etc. We stick to level 1 until we are ready to move up. Here are more apps by this same developer (PlaySmart Kids). They have quite a few FREE apps that look really great!!
Futaba is by far one of their favorite games. WARNING: it has annoying music in the background :) (teach them how to turn the volume down). Students simply look at the picture in the middle, then try to be the first person to find the word. The free version is for 2 players, the paid version, allows up to 4.
When we are working on sentence building, I use the app Sentence Maker. This app can be customized so that you can provide picture, word, and sentence clues. As your students get better at sentences, you can hide those gray boxes so they have to build the sentence all by themselves. You can also set how many words you want in a sentence.
Math Apps
Just like learning letters is so important, learning numbers is another beginning of the year skill that we work on A LOT! This Number Quiz app is very similar to the letter app where students work on tracing the numbers.  This app also has students work on 1-1 correspondence and find the correct numbers. 
Learning Gems- Colors N Shapes helps students work on colors and shapes at the very beginning of school. Not all students have preschool, so some students do not come to Kindergarten knowing their colors and shapes. This app tell them the color and shape to find, and they have to click on it. It starts off with just a few shapes, then gradually gets harder adding more shapes and colors for them to choose from.
For beginning addition and subtraction, I like the app Addition and Subtraction For Kids. It provides a visual as well as the number sentence to help students add and subtract. Only level 1 is unlocked on this FREE app. 
Another really fun app is Teaching Number Lines. It works on a variety of math skills such as number lines, addition, subtraction, skip counting, and sequencing. The students enjoy making the frog hop along the number line. When I use this whole group, my students use a teddy bear and number line at their seat, while once person gets to do it on the iPad that is projected onto my Apple TV.
This app, Number Pieces Basic, can be used when learning about base 10 blocks and place value. Students drag over the base 10 blocks and then use the marker/pen tool to write down the number. I like how the blocks are different colors to distinguish between hundreds, tens, and ones. They can then "trash" it and do another number. I let students work together in pairs to give each other numbers because they love trying to come up with a HARD number their friend may not know.; )

There are many apps out there that are engaging and educational for little learners, but I hope you found a few that might be useful to you. What are your favorite apps?

July 13, 2015

Viva Las Vegas ~ TPT Conference 2015

I'm so excited to share all about my amazing experience at the TPT Conference this year! As you know, I have been to Vegas many times before, but it's never as fun as when you are with 1,100 teachers who have the same passions that you do! As Amy from TPT said "it's like adult summer camp". She was spot on because it was a few days of pure fun with some of your best friends.

Sadly, the first night I had a bad migraine and only attended the TPT Blogger Meet-up for about 20 minutes. I hated to miss out on meeting everyone, but if you get migraines, you know you just want a dark, quiet room! Luckily, TPT hosted a Networking Opportunity the following morning. We were divided by grade levels and I was so happy to meet many of the Kindergarten teachers that I follow. 
Top picture: Some girls from our Elementary Entourage blog! (Keri, Alex, Melissa, Jessica, Lisa, me, Amy) 
Bottom left: me & Alex (The Kindergarten Connection)
Middle: me & Hadar (Miss Kindergarten) - this girl has been so helpful this past year helping me with blogging and advice. I was thrilled to finally meet her!!
Bottom right: me & my bloggy bestie Melissa (Mrs. Dailey's Classroom
We knew that this conference was going to be jammed pack with sessions and meet-ups, but some of us wanted to make sure we had a bit of down time. Thursday night we went to the MJ Live show as the Stratosphere. Since we had so many girls, we took a party bus there and back. Woohoo!
Bottom left: me & Kristen (Easy Teaching Tools)
Bottom right: me & Carol (The Super Sparkly Teacher)
Do you see the lady in gold in the bottom picture? She wanted to join in our MJ picture after the show. We had to wait about 20 minutes on him, so she just hung out with us the whole time, occasionally yelling "where my girls at?"and shouting "MICHAEL, MICHAEL, GET OUT HERE!" She was so excited to meet MJ that when he finally came out she started screaming and gave him a huge hug. He told her she could get an autograph later, which made her fall to the floor crying. ( I think she thought he was the real MJ) It was a very memorable moment of the night!
Here are pictures of some of my bloggy buddies that I had so much fun meeting in person and hanging out with many of them throughout the conference. 
Top picture: More Elementary Entourage girls (Diana, me, Laura, Jessica, Alex, Melissa, Keri)
Middle left: me & Vera (The Tutu Teacher) enjoying the TPT Happy Hour
Middle right: me & Melissa hanging by the pool for the Make a Splash Teacher Bash
Bottom left: me & Beth (A Kindergarten Life for Me) ready for the Keynote 
Bottom right: me & Keri (Enchanted Kindergarten) enjoying the SDE exhibits
The last night in Vegas, some of us got together for dinner by the canal in the Venetian. We then had another meet-up hosted by the Primary Pack. 
Bottom left: Beth, me, and Jessica at dinner
Middle: Peggy, Keri, Jessica, me, Elyse at the meet up
Bottom right: with my bloggy besties Jessica, Melissa at the meet up
I really enjoyed the sessions that I attended and I learned a lot of useful information. My favorite part of the conference was getting to meet everyone. The meet ups were the best part because you had a chance to really talk and get to know each other a bit more in a relaxed atmosphere. Teachers are such sweet and caring people and are very supportive of each other. I'm so thankful to TPT for this amazing opportunity to be a part of this community of teachers that are inspiring and uplifting.  It really is a special group of people!

July 5, 2015

Monthly Activities to Prepare for mClass Math Tests

I originally posted this on one of my collaborative blogs "Who's Who and Who's New" last Winter, but I wanted to share it here in case you don't follow that blog yet. At our school we do the DIBELs assessment for reading and the mClass Math assessments for math. Read on to see how I created some worksheets for my students to get practice all year for these assessments. 

So what are mClass math assessments? They are standardized tests given at the beginning, middle, and end of the year. It helps us decide what level students are on, and who may need to be put into math RTI. It is similar to DIBELS which is used to test literacy skills. In Kindergarten, the skills tested are counting, quantity discrimination, missing numbers, and number identification. The students have one minute to complete each activity with includes numbers 1-100. 

For many Kindergarteners, just learning the format of the tests and what is being asked of them, is just as important as actually taking the tests. I created a set of worksheets to help my students practice these skills throughout the year, so when assessment time rolls around, they'll be ready to go! 
For each month, I have colored versions and black/white versions of the worksheets. Since my school counts our copies, I put the colored version into sheet protectors and use in my math centers or RTI Math small group. Students LOVE to use dry-erase markers and this makes them easy to clean and re-use. 
I put these worksheets front and back in the sheet protectors. One side includes numbers 1-10 and the other side is 11-20. 
I use this worksheet (below) and a sand timer to work on number recognition to 100. The students work in pairs with this game. One student is in charge of watching the sand timer, while the other student tries to say as many numbers as they can in 1 minute. My competitive students have so much fun with this, and have no idea it's helping them become more fluent in their numbers! :)
You can find all of these activities in my "A Year of mClass Math" bundle. You'll get 10 months worth of worksheets including color & b/w versions!
If you want to try this before you buy it, grab a FREE sample of the product here!

Another fun way to review missing numbers is with my Missing Numbers Fluency & Fitness game!  I've mentioned this game before, but for you new followers, here's how to play. You simply project one of the slideshows onto a big screen and flip through the slides as fast or slow as you think your students can do the skill. When they see an exercise slide, they have to do that exercise until you click to the next screen. I like to tease my students and stay on the exercise screen for a while. ;) I have Fluency & Fitness available for many reading and math skills.