Sunday, December 30, 2012

I Went to My Room Today.....

Well.....I went to my room today. After a week long flu-like virus watering my plants was about all I had the energy for! I was glad though that I made the trip in. I spent quite a while there after school on our last day before break and I think I have everything in order for our short week back.

I did set up my new calendar activities for when we return....

I do like to ease into things slowly after a longer break so I'm not going to introduce too many new things until our first full week back. We just have two regular days together next week.  =)

On the calendar wall you can see some examples of our new math stations that will be introduced.  Again I'm keeping mine simple upon our return, but I did visit with Mrs. B today and she has some really CUTE ones that I'll be posting about next.

In the meantime here is what we'll be up to for a few days during our math station time.......

In one of our stations my kiddos will complete a small picture of themselves participating in their favorite winter time activity. They will be able to attach this to our class survey. Later we will discuss the results together during our calendar time. Since this is usually an early finisher activity I locate this station near our calendar wall. The kids can use pointers to practice counting to 100 or use our "ways to make 5-6-7-8-9-10" addition chart. (Click here to see more on this activity.)

I LOVE using "stickies" for math stories! During second semester I almost always have a math station devoted to stickie math.  This is new for this class though. =)  I'll be introducing this station with my example but they will be expected to come up with their own of course. Their are so many possibilities with the various stickies so I can't wait to see what they create!

Soon we will be embarking on our study of 3D shapes. They have been introduced to the kids of  course but I plan on diving deeper into this topic in January. For now a review of basic 2D shapes is in order.  For this station we will be reviewing our 2D shapes during calendar time. The kids will be asked to create a winter scene using basic 2D shapes that they can cut out on their own free-handed or they can use the stencils provided.

One last thing...

On our last day before break two of my adorable and amazing former students stopped by my class with a present for us! It is one of the most wonderful gifts a teacher can ask for from a former student.....a book they have written!!

This one is a winter counting book they wrote for us to keep in our math center. I just love it!

The girls brought this to us right before leaving on break so we didn't have very long to discuss this as a class. I'm really hoping it inspires some of my current kids to attempt to make their own counting books!  The girls did a great job of reading it to the class and telling them about who did the writing and who did the illustrating. A great representation of team work for my little ones!

I hope that everyone enjoys their last few days of their winter breaks! I'm looking forward to a few more days off and a chance to rest up before starting some exciting new things with my class.

Have a wonderful New Years!
                                                                                                 Mrs. M

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ooh la la! Christmas Boutique Shopping with Kindergartners!

I was so looking forward to seeing my students' sweet little faces this morning! They were full of their normal hugs and smiles first thing as they bounded through the door. Started my day off on a positive note for sure!  It was surprising (but yet I was relieved) that not one of them talked about Friday's horrific tragedy.   This made it so much easier to get our day started and enjoy all of the excitement in store for us!

Today was our SHOPPING DAY! with 22 five and six year old kiddos.

Have I lost my mind? was our school's "Christmas Boutique" day!

I love this tradition that was started years ago at our building.  Parents and local businesses donate small items for the children to purchase as gifts to give to their parents or family members.  The cost is only a $2 donation to the PTO for each child and if the child does not bring in money they are still allowed to shop.

Before we went shopping I had the kids think about who they would like to shop for.They are allowed to shop for 2 gifts.    Most of my kids want to shop for mom and dad but I had a few that wanted to shop for their grandparents.

I also filled them in on what types of items are usually at the boutique although it does vary from year to year.  Usually it is smaller items like bubble bath and candles for the moms and work gloves and  small tool kits for the dads.  However, some years some wonderful gifts have been donated!!! One year my daughter "purchased" a spa gift certificate for me!! Last year my son missed out on a Dooney & Bourke purse as a gift for me. He said he walked right by it and thought I wouldn't like it but then quickly changed his mind. His friend had snatched it up the second he turned around. I was teasing him this year to scope out the good stuff since it's his last year for the Christmas Boutique (they can shop through the 6th grade in our district.)  He laughed but seemed pretty pleased with himself when he returned home with his gift for me to put under the tree. So sweet. =)

In order to prepare for our shopping day we decided to make SHOPPING LISTS!!  I asked them to think about what they would like to buy for mom, dad or another family member.  I also asked them to draw a picture to go with their writing so they could easily remember what they were shopping for on the big day.  Here are a few of our lists.....

I love this next one! She really wanted to shop for mom and grandma.  When we went to the boutique she shopped for mom first.  The parent volunteers were then trying to direct her to the "dad's" table (see below) to get a gift for her dad. She was insistent that she had to stay at the mom's table to find perfume for her grandma because that's what she wrote on her list. Thank goodness we found some perfume at the "mom's" table for her to give grandma!!

Once we enter the "Boutique" (A.K.A. the gym) the kids are directed to the "mom's" table and the "dad's" table.  Of course they can buy for grandparents or other special relatives but it is just how we always seem to refer to these tables.  They are allowed to purchase two gifts.

A few items on the "mom's" table.

The "dad's" table!

After shopping the kids then move to the wrapping station.  For larger items we have parent volunteers that actually wrap the gifts. For the smaller gifts the kids decorated bags and then could make their own gift tags.

Now every shopper works up an appetite! After a busy morning of shopping, waiting in line and wrapping the kids can then move to the COOKIE STATION!! The weary shoppers could get their cookies and sit and watch the Polar Express on a big screen t.v.  

What an eventful morning! Now tomorrow is ANOTHER big day for's Dress Up/Manners Day! I'll be posting more on this one, but yes we are all fancy pants around here this week.  

For those still in school this week I hope you are enjoying your students as much as I am mine! Soon we will have some very much needed family time and down time.  In the meantime have fun with the kiddos!
                                                                                                 Mrs. M

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cookie Math!

Okay....My class may have a slight obsession with this song from Mr. Harry's Kindergarten Page

I love it too but boy does it get STUCK in your head      All. Day. Long.

Since we seem to really love the little gingerbread guy we are going to have some of our math stations this week focusing on cookies. =)

Here is a song chart that coordinates with the gingerbread song.  They loved reading this in our math center today!

We have just begun learning about subtraction recently.  So this little chart is quiet helpful with learning -1!  Below you can also see the activity sheet that goes along with our chart.  I've asked the kids to be creative and draw their gingerbread man on a tray while one is running away.  We just started this today but so far they are turning out really cute!

Since we are still working on addition of course we also have a gingerbread man addition station. For this one we are adding sums up to 5.   Once again I'm asking the kids to use their imaginations while creating the background or the scene for the gingerbread.  The only rule is that they can take no more than five gingerbread men.  I can't wait to see these after we've had a few rounds of math stations this week!

In our writing center this week we are writing about our favorite types of cookies! I'm also asking the kids to think about this cookie while working with the following math station:

This example is adding the chocolate chips on each cookie, However, I told them they could add m&m's, sprinkles or whatever else is on their favorite cookie.  This time we are working on addition with sums up to 10 so I told them they could have no more than 5 items on each cookie.

Our last cookie math station is a counting book from Creative Teaching Press.  Very simple but they loved it!

It's unbelievable that we only have nine school days left until our holiday break! We have so much to do! For right now though I think I need to have a cookie. =)

                                                                                          Have a great week!
                                                                                          Mrs. M

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Drago the Dragon

We had a visitor yesterday! This is Drago the Bearded Dragon. He belongs to Mrs. G one of our sped teachers.  Recently one of my little shining stars was able to work with our Kindergarten para on some writing activities. During her visits upstairs she became friends with Drago.   You can click here to see what we did with Drago's shed skin that she brought back to the room.  So recently my little cutie decided to write an AMAZING book about Drago.  The rest of the class had a heads up that there was a real live DRAGON in the building but they had no idea of what he really looked like. They were so excited when they found out their friend was going to share her story about him.  They were even more excited when they found out that he was going to visit as she read her book to them.  I just love the fact that he smiled at me as I took his picture!!

Below is this wonderful story about Drago. This shining star was able to work on her book individually with our para. She did do all of the kindergarten spelling on her own but was able to stay organized an on track with her work with the help of the para. She worked on this story for approximately one week.  Of course not all of my kiddos are writing at this level....but more on that in a bit. =)

"Two people found Drago in a big prickly tree."

"They thought he was stuck in the tree. So they got a ladder to get him out of the tree."

"After they got him out of the tree they took him home.  Drago stayed with them and became their pet!"

We were able to use her story for so many class discussions! We created a story map of characters, setting and the "problem" of the story that was solved.  We are also working on the reading goal of "expanding vocabulary."  We have been discussing two strategies....."tune in to interesting words" and "use new and interesting words in our writing."  Everyone was quick to point out the author's use of the words "prickly and bumpy."  After discussing the meaning of these words they were able to feel Drago's skin for themselves just to see how bumpy it actually is. 

Drago was so calm the entire time my class was petting him!!

Now, we all know that most Kindergartners are not writing at this level at this point in the school year. However, by sharing her work with the rest of the class I saw an AMAZING improvement in regards to effort from the rest of my class today during writer's workshop!  Many began writing their own plans for a Drago story in their journals.  

In this example below you can see one of my student's plans for her drago story in her journal. This was started yesterday after visiting with Drago.  Today she began working on her short story about him.  I'm curious to see the direction her story will take tomorrow once she has more time to work on it!

As an incentive to work as hard as possible to create wonderful Drago stories....Drago himself has volunteered to visit our classroom once again. The next time he wants to hear all of their stories about him!! He loves the spotlight apparently!! 

One last Drago pic before I go..........

Drago loved his lettuce snack!
Poor Drago was so tired after all of the visiting, petting, posing for the camera and snacking that he promptly went back upstairs and took a nap!

                      Enjoy the rest of your week!
                                Mrs. M

Monday, December 3, 2012

Monday Math....Easy Set Up Christmas Math Stations

Happy Monday!!!

This time of year can be crazy! In my area we happen to be experiencing temperatures in the 70's which is very unusual! We're usually very chilly by now. Alright....usually down right COLD!  So this means that on top of the usual buzz around this time of year my kiddos have a bit of Spring fever on top of it! =) 

I'm really trying to keep things exciting around here while still experiencing a sense of calmness in our room...wish me luck! One thing that I'm doing a bit differently this year is introducing my Christmas centers (literacy and math) in stages instead of all at once. It may mean that we are not working with each of the activities for as long but it is helping with keeping the chaos down to a minimum!

Just a bit.

 Also my kids are looking forward each week to see what new things things they are going to be working on .  I'm also attempting to keep my stations and centers as simple as possible. This is a plus for me of course in regards to planning but also for the kiddos who are just a little overwhelmed during this time of the year!

Last week I introduced Race to the North Pole Game

The kids are doing great with this one and it's still a favorite after one week. 

We have three new Christmas related math baskets for this week.  I hope you find something that inspires you!

Station 1.....Ornament Addition to 10

This is one of my favorites. I love the combinations of items they use to make their trees.  In this station  I put out baggies of small art materials. I ask them to pick TWO to decorate their Christmas tree with. They can take no more than FIVE from each of the two bags. 

After they decorate their tree with their chosen items they finish their number sentence to go along with it.

Station 2 .....Adding On

Our second new activity comes from Mrs. B down the hall from me!

This one is great! At first I was confused when she showed it to me. I thought it was color coded, but actually it doesn't matter what color markers they use.  They roll the first dice with the numeral on it. Then they roll the second dice with the dots. That is what they are adding on to their first number. In the example above it would be 6 + 2=8. So they could pick one of the number 8 sections to color on the sheet.

Station 3....Ornament Patterns
The last station is super simple however it can be modified for higher level thinking very easily. 

As you can see here my little friend did a nice A-B pattern for his ornaments.  I know patterning is not a CAS anymore but it's still a skill I find important to include activities on in my classroom. 

Some of my little smarties practiced making more challenging patterns on each one of their ornaments. There are many possibilities.  I've also used various other art supplies with this activity other than just coloring the ornaments. =)

Well there you have it....some easy math stations to add to your week! =)

On another note....I've gotten some emails from some readers about pictures in some of the posts on this blog not displaying. I'm aware of the situation and am slowly working to re-link photos that were deleted on the blog.  It had something to do with my picasa album being deleted on accident. =(  I appreciate everyone who reads this blog and will be fixing this in my spare time as quickly as possible.  I think I'll be busy over my Christmas break!
                                                                                           Have a great week!
                                                                                                             Mrs. M

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Favorite Things....Dragon Skins, Zippy the Elf and Worms

Such a busy time of year!! There are lots of fun things going on in our's a peek at some of our favorites for last week!

Above and below you can see the skin shed from one of our resource teacher's dragon lizard! Two of my kiddos who were visiting who room brought this back to share in our science center. Everyone was soooooo excited!

The same day that the dragon skin arrived my Hibiscus began dropping some blooms. My class began performing experiments on them in the science center. 

Our post office center is up and running. The kids are LOVING it!  You can check out how I implement phase one of this center here.

Zippy is here!!! We began our first writing project focused on our favorite little elf!

"The elf is getting clips. He's thinking of eating chocolate."  I told the kids that Zippy checks our behavior clips each day. I also told them about how last year Zippy got into my personal chocolate stash and made a real mess of things. =)  I loved how she added a thought bubble for zippy and details from our room like the alphabet chart. 

"The elf might get in Mrs. Meyer's chocolate.  The kids did not know that the elf is going (to do that.)"  

"Zippy is being good."  This little guy told me he didn't think Zippy would get into my chocolate again this year. 

"The elf is climbing a tree to spy in it."  As you can see in the picture above Zippy's first hiding spot in our room was in one of our trees!

Lastly, my kids had a real treat this week when one of my former students came to our class and read us this book....

My kids absolutely loved this story!!  I think I laughed as much as they did. It's a must for my next book order! 

This upcoming week we will be diving into our Christmas activities! I can't wait to get started! Have a great week.....
                                                                                    Mrs. M

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Daily 5 Choices

Oh we go!! This year is my second go around with implementing Daily 5 and Cafe from  the Two Sisters.  The first time I tried it (two years ago) it was going rather smoothly and then just fell apart on me. =(

I attribute this to two things. First, I had an extremely challenging class in regards to behavior and academic struggles.  This was just not the year to implement a  new idea for me. I needed to stick with what I knew which happened to be Debbie Diller based literacy centers.

Secondly, I think I was trying to implement each aspect of Daily 5 and Cafe just as the sisters described them in their books and videos. I was also trying to push everything too soon early in the year.  

It took me a while to realize that this was a framework I could tweak and make my own to fit my needs.   So fast forward two years later and my second attempt at implementing my version of this incredible approach.

I decided before school even began that I would be introducing each aspect of Daily 5 / Cafe very S-L-O-W-L-Y.  I started at the beginning of the year with introducing our daily 5 choices (we still call them ABC centers in our room.)  While my students have been working on two rounds of choices I've been working with students on testing and RTI activities.  I've worked with some small guided reading groups but have kept the kids grouped within the same levels and really haven't approached them as "strategy groups" just yet as the Sisters recommend.  Just this week we began discussing our reading "goals" and strategies to help us achieve these goals.

Now I realize that my easel approach pictured above to introducing the goals is just not as attractive as what the Sisters show on their videos on their website.

I even hesitated about posting it. I think we all try to put our best work on our blogs, but I do have a strategy of my own for introducing them in such a manner.

Once all of the goals are discussed and worked with for a while I do plan on creating a Cafe board just as the Sisters describe.  For now we are working with this portable version that I can take off the easel and carry with me as I move  around the room working with students during individual conferences.  I'm finding if I have my folders right in front of them as we read/conference together it helps them to focus and remember the strategies we discussed during our whole group lessons.

You can see that we are just now in the very early stages of beginning Cafe.  For now I'm tweaking my approach each day.  I'll be posting more as we dive deeper into this approach.

We do happen to be enjoying our Daily 5 choices a lot though!! This part of the program is working out very well for me!! I try to add a new activity or material to most of the choice areas each week but I'm not finding it to be as time consuming as planning traditional literacy centers.  I usually leave out previous materials/activities for early finishers and many of the kids enjoy being able to revisit their favorite activities once more.  In my room we actually have 6 Daily choices. I combined and transformed some of my traditional literacy centers to meet the needs of my version of Daily 5.  For now we average two rotations of "ABC Centers" (Daily 5-6 choices.)  Here are our current choices:
Word Work  and Name Work

ABC work


Read to Self

Read to Someone ( I use my old big book-chart center for this choice)

Listen to Reading (listening center/computer reading activities)

Take a peek below at some of our new activities available this week:

For our ABC work choice this week we've began using our cookie letters! This week the kids are working on an ABC order activity.

For word work this week we actually have a few choices available.  The above paper can be used with letter stamps or the students can just write the words.

We are also working with letter magnets and Nn picture vocabulary cards.  I asked the kids to attempt to spell the names of the pictures with our letter magnets.

You can see that one of my little friends spelled "nine" incorrectly.  Another student working with this choice caught the mistake and reminded him to check the back of the card for the correct spelling.

Viola! We now have a winner!!

As part of our word work choices I also include working with names.  They work on these choices in our post office center. However, during ABC centers they only work on the name activities and are not writing mail (we save that for traditional centers.)

For working with names the students can use various materials as a reference for spelling the names correctly.  We have name cards, a name tree and our newest address book that we are using for our message writing in the post office.

For the read to someone choice this week my kids can choose from any of our previously read big books and a pocket chart activity using more of our Nn word cards and popcorn word cards.  

I'm not quite ready to begin working with strategy groups....but it's getting closer!! For now when I'm not assessing I've been working with students who need extra help with letters, sounds and popcorn word fluency.  

My groups this week have loved our letter flip C/V/C word maker.  We reviewed letter sounds first and then focused on words with /n/ in the beginning and ending position.

One of my groups that needs to improve their fluency with popcorn words absolutely LOVED getting to write the popcorn words I dictated on my filing cabinet with dry erase markers! They looked at me like I was crazy and then jumped "write" in! I've done this for years and as long as you erase fairly soon it doesn't stain the cabinet. 

Now as I'm getting closer to working my with strategy groups we are really spending lots of time reviewing our procedures.  For those barometer kids that just have a hard time working calmly or quietly I'm attempting an idea I saw on Pinterest recently.

I believe I'm going to have to work on my version of this but it did word fairly well with a couple of my challenges today.  I had them watch until the majority of the glitter settled to the bottom of the jar and then they could go back to their work.  It really did seem to have a calming effect on them!

So.....I'd love to hear about how implementing Daily 5/Cafe is going for you in your Kindergarten room! Please share!
                                                                                       Mrs. M 
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