Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quick & Dirty... and T.G.F.Y!

Reasons for being M.I.A from Blogger-land...
  • Illness.
  • Being a baby's godmother.
  • Attending a fabulous wedding.
  • Ahhhh, all of the above!
Okay, the good things were going to the faboo wedding, see picture below...

And, becoming godmother for the third time... see picture below...

Icky things include my never-ending cold from hell!  Aaaaaand, some other odds and ends, but I'm plugging along... taking it a day moment at a time, and hoping for the best!

Anyways, sight word review is always a challenge.  How can I give my kiddos something fun, quick, and to the point when reviewing sight words?  We learn one word a week in our reading series, so we've learned the words "a" and "the."  To review, I threw together this little ole game to play at their tables...

I sloppily, haphazardly, fabulously stuck some labels on my wooden cubes and plan on having my little darlings play this tomorrow. 

I hope they like it, and I hope it helps them see those tricky sight words one more time and read, read, read!

Did I mention... T.G.F.Y?  That stands for Thank God For Yoga!  I am a newly found yogi, and I have passed my appreciation on to my kindergarten students!  Today was Picture Day.  (Ugh!)  It was extremely disorganized and we were shoved into the stage area of our gym.  I had rowdy little ones finished with pictures (I still needed to get mine taken!  Yikes!) and I had the whole rest of my class.  All it took was a little "Balloon Breathing" and Butterfly pose to get them calmed, focused, and back with me while the rest of my crew and myself had our pictures taken.  I highly recommend yoga to help with transitions and to help create mindful students!  Great resources for yoga in the classroom include...
http://www.childlightyoga.comhttp://www.yoga4classrooms.comhttp://yogainmyschool.com, and http://www.abcyogaforkids.com!

What have you been up to?!  

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Constitution Day! Free SMART Board resource...

SMART Notebook resource, created by lil, old me!

Take this freebie and enjoy teaching your students about Constitution Day!

It's hard to teach about the Constitution to K kiddos, but I thought this summed it up in a early childhood friendly manner.

I supplemented it with a Constitutuon Day coloring page that they could take home and discuss with their families.

Quick and dirty... but hopefully effective in understanding the basic idea of our Constitution!


Workin' it in work stations!

I love, love, love introducing work stations and allowing my students to begin exploring the materials we have to use in our classroom.  It always amazes me at how they engage in different areas of the room.  Obviously, blocks are always popular, but everyone wanted to be in Pocket Chart Work Station this week!  Who doesn't love pretending it's their birthday?!

It's amazing what you can do with sentence strips, name cards, and Carson Dellosa star crowns!

My students were also exploring the materials in the Writing Work Station... I love seeing their beginning of the year writing and comparing it to the end of the year.  It always amazes me at their progress!

Hooray!  Early letter formation... we're on our way to writing words!

We have a teacher in-service day tomorrow... so my little lovelies get a day off.  I have to be at the elementary building at an ungodly, irritating, unreasonable, earlier than normal time!  Thus, Starbucks will be calling my name before I sit and listen to training on numeracy development.  Hopefully, I'll have some super fun things to share with you tomorrow!  Woo hoo!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Very versatile!

Thank you, thank you, thank you... to Andi over at Pencils, Glue, & Tying Shoes!  She gave me, drum roll please...
The Versatile Blogger Award!

This is my 1st blog award, and I'm thrilled to have been selected! 

Here are the rules of the award:

*Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.
*Share 7 things about yourself.
*Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs. 
7 Things About Me
  1. I'm a newly found yogi and love passing on practicing yoga with my kindergarten kiddos.
  2. I absolutely adore cooking... especially with my crock pot.  Favorites include chili, shredded chicken, navy bean soup, and chicken taco chili.
  3. I'm Italian.  You probably can't tell by the blue eyes and blonde hair, but I'm a paisan.  My Great Aunt has a killer meatball recipe, and I've finally mastered it.  Hooray!
  4. My husband and I LOVE to travel.  We frequent Chicago like it's our job and traveled across the country during the summer of 2010.  It was the most amazing trip I've ever taken!
  5. Napping should be considered one of my hobbies.  Ha!  I am a notorious napper, as my hubby says, and can sleep anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours and be ready for the afternoon/evening. 
  6. I love Ann Taylor LOFT!  Anyone else love their clothes?
  7. I only wear flip-flops when it's warm.  Shoes stifle my feet, and I dread November when I have to wear *gasp* shoes again!
Here are my top 15 blogs that I've recently stumbled upon...

A Teeny Tiny Teacher

Mrs. Huff

Little Miss Kindergarten

Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade Tidbits

The Moffatt Girls


And I continue to find more and more daily!  These lovely 15 are some of my favs, and I'm always able to find super resources on their pages.  Their inspiration helped me start my school year on a great note when I was rather reluctant to go back to school from summer vacation. 

So, show some love... explore these blogs and lets share about our passion! 

Friday, September 9, 2011

Taking things for GRANTed...

It has been an exciting week in my kindergarten classroom!  Not only was it our first week with all 22 little darling together, but it was also "Christmas Day!" 

Last school year I completed a Donors Choose project for children's yoga materials in my classroom.  The project was fully funded during the summer, and my box chock full o' yoga goodies arrived at school this week.  Hooray!

Can you say om? :)

When that project was funded, I decided, on a lark, to set up another project for Take Home Learning Packs from Lakeshore.  Little did I know, a nice couple from NYC would adopt my project, as well as many others, in hopes of raising $50,000 towards family based education activities for their 50th birthdays!  My project was funded in one week thanks to the generosity of their family and friends. 

Guess what arrived the day after my yoga materials?! 

16 awesome take home learning packs to help aid parents with that home-school connection!

I am so excited to start sending these home!  They have quality children's literature in each bag, as well as integrated activities to go across the curriculum.  I might be obsessed and spent an hour unpacking all of them, reviewing what each had inside, and getting it ready for my K families! :)

And, on this fabulous Friday... I received a letter from our local McDonald's franchise owner stating that I had been accepted for a hands-on science grant!  Mickey D's does a fabulous job of taking care of the educators and students in the area, and I appreciate everything they do.  (Plus, lets be real, I probably get their coffee 3 out of 5 mornings for my jump start!) :)

Very soon, in the next month, when I find the catalog with the materials I wanted... I will order my inquiry based science lesson kits for my K kids!  (Seriously, how many catalogs do I get each day?!)   I'm excited to scaffold them in scientific inquiry and reasoning! :)

So, do you take things for GRANTed?  I remember when I was starting out, I bought everything myself.  9 years in, I've learned there are LOTS of people who value education and want to help out.  How do you get what you need/want for your class?  What successes have you had with grant writing and Donors Choose?  I sure wish I had known what I know now 9 years ago!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tasty Tuesday!

I noticed a new link party starting next week with "Time Out Tuesdays!"  Before I take my time out, I want to share a tasty Tuesday with you! :)

Once school begins, even though it's just me an my hubby, the time after work is the witching hour.  It's either crazy busy with classes, meetings, etc. or I'm just too darn tired to cook.  Thus, especially with the cooler temps, I'm busting out the crock pot.  I L-O-V-E my crock pots.  (Yes, plural!)

In addition to loving my crock pot, I am obsessed with pinning on Pinterest!  (Check out my pins/boards through my link to the left!)  I've found quite a few delicious recipes... including this one I tried today.  It was yummy and all ready for me when I got home from school.  Hooray!

Check it out!  Crockpot salsa chicken!

Are there any recipes you'd like to share on this Tasty Tuesday?  I'm always trying to accumulate a variety of recipes to use during the school year... especially easy and delicious ones! :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Lesson Planning Party!

Oh goodness!  Is it bad that I have to teach all 22 of my lovelies tomorrow, and I'm still working on lesson plans?!  One of the most difficult things I find is tying my philosophy of literacy instruction with what I'm required to teach in my district.  Does anyone else have a hard time doing that?  I'm trying to be super conscious of what I'm teaching, why I'm teaching it, and how it relates to the new common core... overwhelming... YES!

Anyway, we use the Macmillian/McGraw-Hill reading series and focus on nursery rhymes the first 2 weeks.  Now, I LOVE nursery rhymes, I just like to focus on NAMES first.  Thus, here's me tying the two together... thanks to inspiration from Phonics: Lessons, Letters, Words & How They Work Grade K by Gay Su Pinnell. 

Students work in shared reading identifying the title of "Mary Wore Her Red Dress."  We also discuss what the title does for a piece of literature.  Students then create their own version of the poem putting their name in for Mary's.  (Side note: Boys wear a red shirt in their poem!)  Not only do they practice working with their name, they identify and discuss concepts about print with the title, and illustrate their poem so it matches the text.  Wham!  Bam!  Thank you, ma'am!  That's a whole lot of literacy in one piece of paper! :)

Pick up my poems for use in your classroom here... Mary Wore Her Red Dress Fill-In

I'm excited to start with my full class tomorrow.  Wish me luck as all 22 little people come together... hopefully to create classroom harmony!  Hope you had a great long weekend! :)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pop on over!

I just found a fabulous blog for all you 21st century teachers!  Head over to...

I found a free SMART Board ice breaker that I'm going to do with my kiddos on Tuesday.  (Yes, I'm already changing my lesson plans!  Ha!)

You can find the "Balloon Pop Ice Breaker" here... http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Balloon-Pop-Ice-Breaker-for-Smart-Board

Thanks to Gena at The Techy Teacher! :)  I will be perusing to find more useful and fun resources to use in my K room! :)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Smooth as silk...

Well, I just can't believe it!  I seriously have NEVER had such a smooth start to my school year!  In our district to start the year... we have 2 teacher work days, a day of kindergarten orientation, and then 3 staggered entry days for our little ones.  We split the kindergarten students into three groups to allow us time to complete assessments and let the little ones find 6 or 7 little ones they'll be able to recognize when we come together after the Labor Day weekend.  It's a phenomenal way to start the year, and I think this year is even better thanks to you blogger pals!  Without your ideas and resources, I don't think I would have found my flow this year!  So thanks! :)

This is what we've been up to...
  • Writing names and drawing self-portraits while I teach the kiddos how to unpack book bags, folders, and ordering lunch.
  • Quick calendar on the SMART Board with some help from Starfall and a morning message telling about all the fun we'll be having today.
  • Reading...  
Then, discussing class rules, behavior management, and making the fabulous David puppet to take home.  You can get the puppet from here... http://crisscrossapplesauce.typepad.com/files/no_david.pdf
  • Kindergarten free-choice while I administered state mandated assessments.  (Always fun, ha!)
  • Reading...
And talking about how even though we're all different, we still have so many things that are the same about each other.  It's so fun to see little friendships budding and light bulbs going off as they explore Find a Friend!  Thanks to First Grade Best for posting the document!
  • SMART Board rules while answering the question of the day!
  • Snack (always important!)
  • Dismissal and bus rules!
Everything has been wonderful, and I'm looking forward to seeing my last group of kindergartners tomorrow, and then we'll all be coming together on the Tuesday after Labor Day!  Hooray for K! 

Thanks for all your fabulous ideas blog friends!  Without you, it would be the same old thing!  How are your beginnings of the year going?  Lets dish! :)