A Halloween Scare in Indiana

If you saw my Instagram post last week, I was really excited when I came across this book A Halloween Scare in Indiana by Eric James at Barnes & Noble. I was looking at books for my upcoming vacation and I always check out the children's section too. I knew my Kindergarten friends would enjoy this book! I made up a quick writing activity to go with it too! 
I visited 2 Kindergarten classrooms earlier this week to read this book and do the writing activity with them. They LOVED seeing all of the Indiana connections and you could see their eyes get big when I mentioned a city name or place they recognized! I gave them time after the book to "turn & talk" to tell each other what they saw in the book from Indiana. What an easy way to teach text to world and text to self connections! This book has a ton of rhyming words and good vocabulary to teach too!!
I had the students write and illustrate their Halloween costume that would scare the monsters away. If they don't dress up for Halloween, then they just came up with a costume they think would scare the monsters. Here's what some of them came up with. 

Captain America
Spider Man
It was fun walking around and watching them write independently and I love seeing if I can read their words without them telling me.

There are MANY versions of this Halloween Book for many different states and countries. You can see all the different versions on Eric's website here. It was a lot of fun reading a book with personal connections for the students. 
Get these 2 worksheets for FREE here

Learning about Pumpkins

I love when I can incorporate some science into our reading and math block. In the Fall, we always did a pumpkin themed week and learned about the life cycle of pumpkins. I had the big book Pumpkin, Pumpkin and used it to teach about the life cycle of a pumpkin. I like this book because the text is simple and easy for students to pick up on. I also used the book Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie to show some real life images of the pumpkin life cycle. For our weekly poem, we used the Five Little Pumpkins book which the students LOVED reading!! It has very catchy words and you can do hand motion for each page for added fun. Finally, another favorite of my students was The Legend of Spookily the Square Pumpkin. This book is also great to teach about bullying. Some of the links above are affiliate links.
After learning all about pumpkins, we used this Pumpkin Life Cycle sequencing worksheet to show how a pumpkin grows! 
Students also used this emergent reader to read about the life cycle of a pumpkin as well as color the pictures appropriately. Students could then put these in their book baskets to practice reading later on.
Of course we had to have some pumpkin themed literacy and math centers! This Pumpkin Pie CVC Matching game helped my students practice reading CVC words and matching them to the correct picture. Some students simply matched the cards, while others turned it into a memory game.
You can also have students record the words that they found using this worksheet. 
Since they were learning about base 10 blocks and simple place value, I put this pumpkin place value game in my math centers for the week. It works on numbers 1-20. If you put a dot on the back of the card where the correct answer is, it can be self checking!! There's also another activity with this game where students can use real pumpkin seeds to match the number they see. 
After students played the game, they could use this worksheet to work on more place value. My higher students worked on numbers to 100, while most students worked on 1-20.
Some of these centers are included in my Fall Literacy & Math Bundle

At the end of the week, I brought in a pumpkin and let the students take turns getting out a handful of seeds. We used most of our 5 senses to describe the pumpkin. Sadly, we can't cook at our school or provide snacks for the kids, so I let the kids take the seeds home to cook them if they wanted. They loved getting to feel the inside of the pumpkin! 
After we removed the seeds, I let the kids vote on how we should carve the pumpkin. We graphed their votes, so we could easily see which way the class wanted to cut the eyes, nose, and mouth. This is the face they decided on!


Tricks and Treats Blog Hop

I'm excited to join this blog hop hosted by our collaborative blog The Elementary Entourage! This month, we are sharing our favorite teaching tips/tricks and then offering up some FREE treats for you as well!   
This is more a trick to use for the beginning of the year, but one of my favorite classroom tricks was using a number system. Before school started, I would take my class list and look up all their birthdays. I would then assign each student a number starting with the youngest student as 1. Of course I didn't refer to my students as 1, 2, 3, but this helped quickly compare how they were doing academically compared to their peers and their age. I also compared their maturity level as well. If student 2 seemed to be struggling or seems very immature, it would make more sense because they are one of the youngest in the class. Of course in Kindergarten, I would always take in consideration their previous schooling and family life, but putting students in order by their age was VERY helpful! 

I labeled many things in my classroom with the student numbers instead of names. This saved me time during Back to School because I don't have to re-label everything every year with student names. I labeled mailboxes, book bins, cubbies, lunch clips, supply boxes, etc.  At our Meet the Teacher night before school, I would tell parents their student's number and they would help them find all their things they'll be using for the year. Have students number the top corner of their papers and you can quickly put them in order and see who's missing an assignment. 
I even used numbers with my clip chart system so it was a bit more private what color each student was on.
I would have my students line up in number order as well. This saved all the fighting of who could line up quickest, who is the line leader, etc. It was also a quick way to see who is missing during fire drill!
When I taught Kindergarten, we would always do a poem a week and use a variety of activities to learn that poem. Closer to Halloween, I would also teach The Itsy Bitsy Spider.  I did a blog post awhile back about my Nursery Rhyme Bundle which includes 10 of the most popular Nursery Rhymes. You can read more about the activities included in that bundle here.

Here is a sample from the The Itsy Bitsy Spider bundle. Students can use this emergent reader to read along with the poem. I love using these emergent readers, because it builds student's confidence and they are so excited to take them home to read them to their family.

 Grab your FREE Itsy Bitsy Spider book by clicking the picture below. 

Visit the rest of these blogs for more tricks & treats!

Phoneme Segmentation for Kindergarten RTI Students - Learning How to Stretch Out Words

For students to be able to read and write, they need to learn how to break down words and listen for the sounds they hear. Phoneme segmentation is the process of stretching words into phonemes (sounds). By helping students learn how to stretch out the sounds in words, it builds confidence in their writing. I want students to focus on the process of writing and not making sure everything is spelled correctly. My students in the past that were focused on the spelling and not just writing, progressed much slower than those that just tried to write based on what they heard. Here are a few examples of how primary students would stretch out a word based on the sounds they hear, not necessarily the letters in the word. 
Turtle = trtl            Happy = hape           Whistle = wisl

Learning how to sound out words takes a lot of practice, so I created this Phoneme Segmentation RTI Printables Bundle. It includes 5 separate activities that can be differentiated to help students learn how to segment words. 
These flip books can be made into a book or used in your interactive notebook. It comes with 2 versions so students can circle the number of sounds they hear in the word, or use a BINGO dabber to dot the number of sounds. If you don't have BINGO dabbers, you could use stickers, crayons, stamps, etc. 
To use them in notebooks, have students cut on the line and write the word underneath the flap. 
This fun caterpillar themed game has students roll a dice, find that picture on the caterpillar, and mark how many sounds they hear in the word. 
Students spin the paperclip and find a picture with that many sounds in the word. The other version has students spin a picture and hunt for the number showing how many sounds they heard.
In "I Spy" students will circle the picture that has the correct number of sounds shown in the magnifying glass. There is another version where students circle the correct number of sounds in the picture shown.
The "Sort it Out" worksheets have students cut & past 3 letter and 4 letter words. 
Here's another way to practice counting out the sounds in a word.
Stretching out words is a vital skill when learning how to read and write. This bundle gives you a variety of activities to use in your RTI groups or to throw in literacy centers to work on phoneme segmentation.
Here's an example of student using phonetic spelling with my Interactive Reading Responses. You can see the words small, monkey, silly, and animals have all be sounded out. I am so proud that this student wrote all this by themselves! Ask any Kindergarten teacher and they'd be able to read this just fine :) Eventually, spelling rules come into play and students learn how to write words correctly, but in Kindergarten for now, this is great progress!