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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Book Study Party Literacy Beginnings Chapter 1

Pre-K Pages

I hope you are following the Book Study Blog Party on Vanessa Levin's Pre-K Pages ! If not, hop over and hop right back. :) 
The book we are studying is Literacy Beginnings: A Prekindergarten Handbook by Gay Su Pinnell and Irene C Fountas.
Do these names sound familiar? If you're a teacher, they should! According to OpenEducation.net: "When it comes to early literacy and the teaching of reading, Irene C. Fountas and Gay Su Pinnell may well be the two most recognized experts in America." They forged the way for reading instruction as we know it today with their book released over a decade ago “Guided Reading, Good First Teaching for All Children”- the number one selling professional teacher resource in the US.

Now, Fountas and Pinnell have released a book that focuses solely on the Pre-K Literacy Experience titled Literacy Beginnings. Chapter 1: Living and Learning in the Pre-K Classroom starts out with a powerful statement truth: "Strong, literacy-rich prekindergartens are joyful, busy places...".
The first section of the chapter follows two children through a typical day in Pre-K. One a three- year- old boy and the other a four- year- old girl.

Here are some thoughts I had while reading this section (there are a lot):
  • I'm doing OK! (Phew!)
  • The Pre-K programs observed were 3 hour (1/2 day) programs. Eeek! How can you get it all done?
  • I read a comment from Karen at  PreKinders that many programs have a limit to the number of hours you can teach. Otherwise, the program is considered "Daycare". Doesn't that seem a little backwards?!?!
  • The class sizes were 12 and 14 students. Hmmmm... I wish!
  • The classrooms are gorgeous, well-ordered, and HUGE! This is not to say that everything was store-bought and matchy-matchy. They were filled with student-made materials!
  • Literacy is subtly built in throughout the entire day as shown here:
Routines: there are names on the cubbies and the students are responsible for placing their name on the attendance chart.

Arrival Activities: all activities have a literacy component- magnetic letters, book baskets, crayons and paper and are open-ended with quick clean-up.

Project Based Learning Centers: All options have a literacy component- scientific findings are recorded, math activities are tallied,etc.

Share Time: A) it exists! B) this is a time to connect and cement learning through encouraging the children's use of language and meaningful discussion.

Class-made Projects: are carried over and used in other areas of the classroom. (Ex.: a poster collage of foods was posted in the Dramatic Play area for reference).

Clean-Up time: Materials are labeled to match the spaces where they belong. Clean-up is easy and independent.

Snack: table spots can be marked by place mats with the students' name. This adds yet another subtle literacy element into the day as well as planning for any potential conflicts that may arise with certain student pairings since they are still learning appropriate behavior choices and self-control. 

Soft Transitions: early finishers take a bathroom break and look at books. They see themselves as readers and that reading looks different at different levels of literacy development. This is also an early version of D.E.A.R time.

Centers: Although the teacher chooses which activities and areas are available, he/she makes sure there is a variety to meet all learning styles. Students independently choose the activity or area out of what is "open". I personally like this style because A) I'm a control freak and B) I want to be sure that the learning opportunities I provide encourage immersion in the topic of study and C) the students still experience independent choice.

Clean-Up time: is a group effort. WE are responsible for OUR room.

Reading Time: principles of Building Blocks/Four Blocks with Interactive and Shared Reading. This keeps children interested and involved in learning and listening to stories. A little of this, a little of that works when you have so many unique "little" individuals. :)

Literacy Learning Block: there is a specific, concentrated time during the day to focus on literacy rather than being mixed with other/developmental or just for fun centers. This helps to scaffold learning into higher grades by providing a DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE early version introduction to work stations.

In addition, there are different options at each station/center that reminds me of the "I Can" signs from Debbie Diller's Work Stations books. This makes differentiated learning automatically built in!

End of the Day: Both classes have a time at the end of the day to come together as a class community and bond by singing. This also helps children transition from school to home by providing a tangible "goodbye" on a positive note.  Some great Hello and Goodbye songs can be found here: Mrs. Jones

Some Quotes that Struck a Chord

"Language and play are the child's major tools for learning everything about the world. Language and play are also the most important tools for early literacy learning."

"During these years, children do not distinguish between playing, reading, and writing. It all involves curiosity, learning, discovery, and excitement." (Amen!)

Okay, so that was only the first section of the first chapter. I got a little long-winded. :P I do hope that this will convince you that Literacy Beginnings is a book well worth reading!

Happy Book Studying!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Pumpkin Themed Counting Game!

I guess I'm feelin' the pompoms lately! Here's another game you can use with orange pompoms.
For the smaller number range, the regular size pompoms would be fine.
However, for larger number ranges, I suggest using the mini pompoms so they fit comfortably on the vine. :)
OR you could go up another level and have them skip count the pumpkins!
I've also included cute little pumpkin math talk cards!
As always, feel free to use or improve and leave me a comment if you like it!

Happy Counting!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Free Game for you!

For this game you will need red pompoms in large and small sizes. A little berry basket to hold the pompoms would be cute as well, but those are becoming scarce.

You can include all of the pattern cards or differentiate the center by making different sets of pattern cards. 
You can also add a fine motor component by using berry picker tongs (I got mine from Discount School Supply)for the students to use in picking up and placing the pompoms strawberries on the pattern strips.

I used a font from www.KevinandAmanda.com and clipart from Microsoft.
As always, feel free to use or improve!

If you like this game, please leave a comment to let me know. :)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Question: Animal Homes and Habitats- Specific theme or integrated?

I'm struggling with deciding whether to teach Animal Homes and Habitats as a stand alone theme or integrate it throughout the year. In the past I have enjoyed covering Nocturnal Animals in Fall, Pond in Spring, Oceans in summer, etc. but I want to be sure that I don't miss anything.

With that in mind, what is the required teaching in your neck of the woods regarding Animal Homes and Habitats?

What works for you?

What are your favorite resources for this topic?

Thanks for your help incredible Educators!

Happy Sharing!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Gift or Fundraising Idea

Have you checked out KevinandAmanda.com??? They have the most adorable fonts and doodles for FREE! Even better, they WANT you to use their fonts on your blog and projects you make. You can even sell these projects using thier fonts! A GREAT website.

Anyway, I was on KevinandAmanda.com looking at drooling over their FREE fonts when I had a thought: wouldn't this be a great parent gift?

So I searched their page to find out just how you submit your handwriting to make your own font and found out that, unfortunately, they are so blessedly busy, they cannot guarantee that fonts will be made by a certain time, and there is no guarantee that your font will be chosen to be made. *sigh* They did, however, offer an alternative site, www.yourfonts.com.
This one will make a font in minutes! BUT, you have to pay for it: about $10 bucks, currently. Let's see, $10 X 30 students = way to rich for my blood! Still, it's a nice idea for a fundraiser or at least give parents the option to make their child's handwriting a font they can use and keep forever. :)

Happy Font Making!

Measuring Shapes | Worksheets | Education.com

Another great resource from http://www.education.com/!
Check out: Measuring Shapes Worksheets Education.com
They have lots of these- shapes, letters, numbers...

These would make a fantastic Math Workstation activity. Just pre-cut the rulers, laminate the sheets and rulers.

You could add task cards that depict nonstandard measurement items to use in addition to the rulers.

The students could record the measurements with a dry erase marker, magnetic numbers, number tiles...

You could even add a response sheet to compare the different measurements students get using standard/nonstandard measurement items.

Differentiate by using only nonstandard measurement, rulers for inches, centimeters...

I'm excited! My first math workstation idea! :)

Happy Measuring!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Primary Graffiti: Personal Focus Wall

I love this blog!
For those of you who use Mini Offices, you're going to be inspired. Hop over and check out Mrs. S's fantastic idea for her Focus Walls.
Primary Graffiti: Personal Focus Wall: "My county adopted Houghton Mifflin Reading many years ago. I've used the focus wall located in my pages above and love that the kids would ..."

Happy "Focus"ing!

It is H-O-T, Hot!

Phew! I find myself wishing for Fall.
I made a measurement page (super simple, nothing fancy) for Non-standard units of length. It's called Pumpkin Measurement.
I used DJ Inkers clipart and the font DJ Chunky Monkey. I love that font. :)
It is designed for use in a work station with dry erase markers. Of course, use or improve. I will probably develop this so that it is more differentiated and include a page with Standard forms of measurement and perhaps a Non-standard/Standard Forms Comparison page. hmmm...
Anyway, enjoy!
Happy Non-standard Measuring!


Mrs. I's Class: Phone Secret Code (freebie)

Don't you just looooove techno savvy teachers?!?! I used to do a secret code during Calendar Time (idea from the book The Calendar and Beyond by Kimberly Jordano). This is a fantastic book with TONS of ideas. Go get it, then come back. :)
The Calendar and Beyond: Using Daily Calendar Time to Help Students Learn and Review Key Skills

I like this version of the activity because you get more bang for your buck!

Mrs. I's Class: Phone Secret Code (freebie): "Here is another word work activity that I put together. I used the keypad (found in the printable) and glued it to construction paper. The..."

Happy Secret-Coding!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Test Your Volcano Knowledge | Worksheets | Education.com

Check out www.education.com for tons of activities and worksheets listed by grade level, topic, and sub-topic! The activities look like a great learning-at-home connection resource. Many of the worksheets can be tweaked into hands-on activities. I love how clear and child-friendly the pictures are on the worksheets. It can be time-consuming looking around for the perfect picture that is cute AND accurately depicts the concept you want to teach!

I especially like the Kindergarten Science sheets that are designed to label the parts of animal, insects, plants, etc. I'm thinking of enlarging and using these as a document camera center, themed word wall resource, velcro/felt board center, or making a scramble and fix activity for whole group/partners. Check out this one: Test Your Volcano Knowledge Worksheets Education.com. Great for a Hawaiiana or Dinosaurs theme!

Another feature I really like is the ability to rate each item. You can see the average rating and how many people have rated the item. You can also share directly to Facebook, Blogger, etc!

Lastly, each sheet has the option to leave a comment or read comments others have made. For me, the Alphabet maze sheets had a few confusing letter sounds (soft G, long U sound picture icons) so I left a comment. Hopefully, these will be changed or another sheet can be designed to offer one for each sound.
Hint, hint! :D

Happy Saving and Tweaking!


Mrs. I's Class: Rainbow Writing Sight Word Sheets (freebie)

This is a very nice FREE template for Rainbow writing Sight Words as well as finding the words in simple sentences, forming your own sentence, and writing practice.
I love that the word is gray instead of dotted. I may tweak this so my kiddos write 3 times instead of 5 and put the HWT lines instead of the dotted practice lines.  Thank again... maybe not. :)

This is a fabulous station activity that can be easily differentiated.

Mrs. I's Class: Rainbow Writing Sight Word Sheets (freebie): "So it turns out my kids hate to color in letters. They get zero letter formation from it because they just scribble through the letter outl..."

Happy Rainbow Writing!


Under the Alphabet Tree: Reading and Writing Workshop

Under the Alphabet Tree: Reading and Writing Workshop

Predictable Chart Center

This is a fantastic idea for a Literacy Workstation. I have used predictable charts a la the Building Blocks format for a while and found myself struggling to fit those activities in while doing Workstations.

Thanks to Under the Alphabet Tree: Problem solved!

Happy Predictable Charting!


Under the Alphabet Tree: Math book printables

Under the Alphabet Tree: Math book printables

These are great! Vocabulary, identification, reading and math together!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Math I Can Posters for VA Kindergarten Standards of Learning

Wow! I can't believe I have 10 FANTASTIC followers! I want to take this chance to sincerely thank you for supporting me, encouraging me, and being so nice. The kindness you have shown me shines through and illuminates the incredibly high quality of character you have not only as an educator, but as a person, too. Thank you very, very much!

I am including some Math "I Can" posters I have made that correspond with the VA Standards of Learning for Kindergarten.

The incredible creations you all have made, especially during our Math Stations book study, inspired me to to think "I Can" make these. :P

If you would like an editable version, (Word document), I will be happy to email it to you. If not, feel free to use or improve for your own classroom!

Happy "I Can"ing!


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Welcome to Kinderglynn: A Giveaway Galore (are you sure you have room for ...

Hurry! Go enter! I'll wait...
Welcome to Kinderglynn: A Giveaway Galore (are you sure you have room for ...: "Ok, are you sure you have enough room on your computer for all these fantastic things? Anna from Crazy for First Grade , Melissa from Mrs. F..."

Happy Giveaway!


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Field Trip Recording Form- Writing Across the Curriculum!

Check out this fantastic blog. She has great ideas for work stations, organization, etc. Her stuff is C-U-T-E!
It's a first grade blog, but a lot of things could be used either for EOY Kindergarten or modified so easily- like this Field Trip Recording Form. Of course, FFGF's is way cuter, but I needed picture prompts for mine.

Happy Field Tripping!


Just a little pick-me-up. :) Enjoy!

Happy Getting Stronger!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Math Vocabulary Cards- with pictures!

This site has a great collection of Math Vocabulary cards to feature during your Math Workshop time. I'm planning to place mine on a ring and hang near my large group area for review (if I don't see it, I don't remember it!). Also, I have a grand vision of a Math Vocabulary Word Wall in a pocket chart.
Sigh... I heart pocket charts.
Anyway, check it out and save it to your math files! They have cards for K-5th grade. 

Happy Math Talk!


Friday, June 10, 2011

For those of us who like visually calming rooms...

http://kindergartenworks.blogspot.com/2011/06/its-here-and-its-huge.html has made a huge treat for us.

This was some seriously involved and hard work! I am in awe.

You can find it on her TPT store OR...
you can enter her raffle contest and win it!

Hop on over and check it out!


Happy Raffle-ing!


Field Trip Recording Form- Writing Across the Curriculum!

Check out this fantastic blog! http://funkyfirstgradefun.blogspot.com/
She has lots of cool and C-U-T-E stuff. It's a first grade blog, but her resources could be used for EOY Kindergarten or easily adjusted.
Like this Field Trip Recording Form
Of course, hers is WAY cuter, but I needed to add picture prompts for my Emergent Readers.
I used a font from DJ Inkers called Chunky Monkey. I love the font AND the name. Plus, it was super affordable. :D

Happy Field Tripping!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Digital Word Walls-Wow!

This is seriously cool. You can add YOUR word wall words to this powerpoint format and save it to your files. Then you can upload it onto your classroom blog. What a great way to bridge learning from school to home!

Happy Digital Word Wall-ing!


Electronic Portfolios- Giving Potential Employers Something Snazzy!

Electronic Portfolios can be an impressive way to present yourself to potential employers. Using a file hosting website, you can send and share large files via Facebook, Twitter, Instant Messenger, Email, Blogs, and Websites. Many sites offer basic packages for free, free trial offers, or low-cost packages that have special features such as added security or multiple uploads per month. Each company offers something different so do your research and choose what works best for you.
Some places to start (by no means am I endorsing these companies- they just came up in a search):
Mediafire.com, FileSavr.com, Filedropper, FileDen... there are tons of them out there!

Here is a sample of my portfolio. I have placed smiley faces on the kids to protect their identities. :)


Happy Large File Sharing!


Sunday, June 5, 2011

I'm reorganizing... again

One thing I've learned about being a teacher: you are constantly organizing, re-organizing, and tweaking your program. It truly is a process, not a product. When I first began teaching, I thought, "I'm going to get this in order and then I will be done!" Ha! Hahahahahahaha!
If you think you can create a static system and go home at 3pm just after the pick-up and bus lots empty- you are in the wrong profession. We are in the business of kids- growing, changing, little learning sponges. How in the world could that not rub off on us?!? We are a reflection of our students- they keep us young by forcing us to keep up with them by growing, changing, and being learning sponges ourselves.
That's what I love about it! I'm never done and I'm certainly never bored.

Happy Growing!


Looking for an easy way to track, record, and communicate?

Check out http://www.preschoolbuddy.com/. This is a comprehensive web-based system that allows you to keep track of student info., attendance, progress reports, fundraising, plan and share lesson plans, etc.
It also allows parents to be "plugged in" to the classroom by sharing lesson plan info., pictures that are relevant to their family, newsletters, calendars, tuition, and much more. What a breeze for a home preschool or director! Imagine not having to send home all those notes that end up on the sidewalk, bus floor, or back of the minivan! The basic package is $19/month and the Pro package is $39/month.
Kinda pricey, but when you think about all the time, effort, and the cost for an accountant- worth it! :D

Happy Eco-Friendly, Less Time Spent Doing Admin Stuff, Teaching!