Monday, October 26, 2015

Popular Purple Pencil Sharpener

Wow, it has been a crazy first quarter of school!  I hope everyone's years are off to the best start.  Today, I'm excited to review Classroom Friendly Supplies' new "Popular Purple" sharpener.

These are the best sharpeners ever!  Super easy to use, and you can teach your kids to use it in just a few minutes.

Just pull the silver part out...

Pinch the black pieces together and insert the pencil.

 Crank a few times...

And your pencil will come out perfectly sharpened!

In less than a minute, go from this... this!

This sharpener works with any quality of pencil...even Dixons!  And my kindergartners are able to use it independently.  They will beg to use the sharpener.  I have another one from this company and it is still working perfectly after two years.  It's quiet, and quick, and great quality.  If you are looking for a sharpener, I highly recommend this one!  Check them out here!

*In order to do this review, I was given a free pencil sharpener, but all opinions are my own!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Five for Sunday

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share about my week!  I actually got my wisdom teeth out this past week, so I wasn't that exciting.  So I'm also sharing some stuff from the week before!

1. We got our class lists last week and I was so excited to start labeling everything.  I got these water bottles at Michael's this summer and added their names with my Silhouette for an Open House gift.

2. I also made some gifts for my team.  I found these in the $1/$3 spot at Target.  I love having a Silhouette so I can personalize stuff like this!

3. Before I got my wisdom teeth pulled, I worked on my hallway bulletin board.  I saw so many cute ideas on Pinterest using Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, so they were my inspiration.  The hallway was still dark when I took this picture...but you get the idea. 
The letters have the students' names written on them.  After school starts, they are going to decorate a lowercase letter with tissue paper squares, like this board.

4. The week before last was our last week of summer school, and I loved this idea my teammate did for science.  We were talking about coral reefs and we created mini coral reefs by mixing colored baking soda and vinegar.  The kids loved mixing the colors and seeing the reaction of the baking soda and vinegar.

After we took these pictures, we added more to show the different colors and layers in the coral.

5. In summer school, we also made these little turtles.  I gave each student a plate with yellow and blue paint.  They mixed it, sponge painted their shell, and the next day we added the rest of the body.  The mixed paint was cool because each shell turned out a little different.

Now, this week, it's time to start back to work!  I have tomorrow off and then workdays the rest of the week.  The kids come Friday night for Open House and Monday morning for their first day!!  I feel super prepared, so hopefully that should translate to a smooth beginning of the year, right?  Good luck to all of you who are starting back this week!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What Worked Well Wednesday: Writing

I'm linking up with Kinder Tribe for What Worked Well Wednesday!  I'm excited to share how I structured writing during summer school these past four weeks.

My students are rising first graders who struggled with literacy during kindergarten.  I had originally intended to do a typical writing workshop, but realized after working with them for a few days that they needed shorter term projects where they could quickly and easily find success.

Since we were studying ocean animals, we used a lot of graphic organizers to show what we had learned.  After we studied an animal, the kids and I brainstormed ways to complete the organizer.  Then, they completed their own and used their graphic organizer to write sentences.  You can grab these for free in my TpT store!

The other really fun thing we did was write using prompts from my new Kinder Doodles pack!  These give a simple prompt and a picture to complete.  

My rising firsties LOVED these! I had a student who at the beginning of summer school was a super reluctant writer, and the other day he asked me if he could do some extra Kinder Doodles.  I'm amazed to see how engaged they are with these!

Here are some examples of their work.

I've found that giving them that little bit of the picture (like the wheels in the picture above) help them with scale, making it easier for them to add detail and take up the whole page with their picture.  So, I think these will be really great to try with my new kindergartners.  I love easy differentiation, so I included 3 types of writing paper for each prompt.

That is what worked well for me the past few weeks!  Can't wait to read your posts, too.  Head over to the Kinder Tribe blog to link up!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bohemian Feather Classroom

I'm so excited to share my new classroom theme set with you.  I was inspired by new feather clip art from Mandy Art Market.  I love the colors and thought they'd look great in a classroom.  Check the products out below or get the whole bundle here and save 35 percent!

Word Wall Headers

Calendar and Weather Set

Number Posters

The last three products don't have feathers, but they have the same backgrounds and color themes as the others...

Alphabet Posters

Word Family Posters

Blends and Digraphs Posters

These will all be on sale Monday and Tuesday for the big TpT sale!  Hope you like them!

Friday, July 31, 2015

AlphaBOOM: Learning the Alphabet Through Names

Hey guys! I'm linking up with Babbling Abby today to share my favorite alphabet activities.  My favorite way to teach the alphabet is by starting with the children's names.  They are so excited and motivated to read and write their name and the names of their new friends! Here are a few things we do during our name unit the first couple weeks of school.

The first day, we always read The Kissing Hand and make this predictable chart.  I love for my kids to see their names over and over those first days - great letter practice and it makes the classroom feel like theirs!

We also make "Star Names."  These are great fine motor and letter practice.

To make them, write your students names large, with ample space between each letter.  Get these star stickers.  You can find them at any office supply place.

I cut the stickers into strips so each child can only use one color.  The names come out much easier to read that way.  Then, I explain how to follow the lines and place the stickers closely together to make their name.  Most kids are able to do this independently, but this is also a great small group activity!  After we finish the names, I post them right by our carpet area, so we can refer to them throughout the year.

We make these fun BIG letters of the first letter in our name.  I draw the letter and add random lines.  I tell the kids to color each section a different color.

Once they are done coloring, we cut out the letter and I take their picture with it.  We use the pictures to make a class book that the kids LOVE.

These letters look really cool taped to the ceiling around the room (as long as your fire marshal allows it).  And it gives the kids something to look at during rest time.

Once we have learned the letters in our names and our friends' names, we also do a lot of letter sound sorting activities.  This is one of my kids' favorites - and it incorporates graphing, too!

Beginning Consonant Spin and Graph...the kids spin the spinner, identify the beginning sound, and write that letter on their graph.  This is a simple way to practice first sound segmentation and letter writing.  It usually starts as a small group activity, and then moves into a center after the kids become independent.  I have this game in my TpT store and it includes all the consonants except for X.

One other thing I like about this game is that a letter "wins" when it reaches the top, but none of the students lose.  They love predicting what letter will win and get excited to see it reach the top!

Thanks for reading through all these fun activities today.  I'm looking forward to reading everybody's alphabet ideas!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Welcome Letters and Kindergarten Assessments {Freebies}

As August quickly approaches, it seems like everyone's preparing for back to school!  We don't start school until late August but I am definitely in back-to-school mode.  I have a few freebies I wanted to share that will hopefully be useful to some of you!

My principal asked us to put together a welcome letter for our class to go with the back-to-school packets she sends out.  Here's mine...

When I was putting this together, I thought some other teachers might find it useful, so I have this blank template.  Just save it as a picture and insert it into a PowerPoint file to edit.  Insert text boxes and images to make it work for you.

I also wanted to share how my team does kindergarten assessments.  We pick a few afternoons in August and invite the students in for their assessment.  It only takes 10 minutes or so per student, and we set out books and coloring materials for the kids who are waiting.  We've also done this in the spring, during our registration.  The big advantage to that is not having to come in over the summer.  However, the information is not as useful because it's outdated by the time we start school.  It's worth it to me to give up a few afternoons so I can start my year off knowing where my students are and where I should focus.

This year, I put together a new assessment and I wanted to share it with you!  We do a very basic academic assessment to give us an idea of the students' current level and their most pressing needs.  It includes alphabet recognition, name writing, counting, and concepts of print.  All you need to complete it is a pencil, 10 counters, and a simple guided reading book that includes two lines of text per page.

If you think you might be able to use this with your students, click here for a free download.
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