Sunday, January 27, 2013

Groundhog Day

This is just a quick post to say I finished my newest easy reader, Groundhog Day!  I'm estimating that it is a Level D (Fountas and Pinnell) but it does have some tricky words like "predicting" and "burrowing."  I tried to balance keeping it easy to read and giving information related to the subject.  Here's a preview of some of the included pages:

Like my other books, it includes different versions for varying word work.  This week, some of my students will be working on the ending "ing," while others are practicing the sight word "am," and a few will be searching for letters they are still learning.

Since it's so close to Groundhog Day, I have the book on sale now through Tuesday night.  Click the picture above to check it out! 

Have a great Monday!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five for Friday


I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!   Here are 5 random things from today:

1. Winter has finally come to North Carolina.  But the weather here is so crazy.  Look what we can expect on Tuesday!  I'm not going to complain though...I'll take 70 degree weather anytime.  
2. Because of the forecast today, our school planned to let out at 11.  But when the snow came sooner than expected, they had us dismiss bus riders at 10:40.  My four car riders were hanging out watching TumbleBooks while we waited for dismissal.  They looked so cute like this, I had to snap a picture!
3. We finally finished all our MLK activities, including this wreath.  The kids loved this project.
4. We are starting to implement The Leader in Me at our school.  It's a program focused on teaching Stephen Covey's 7 habits of highly effective people to students and developing their leadership skills.  We started this week by writing our class mission statement.  Do any of you teach the 7 habits?  I'd love to hear your suggestions for teaching them in the primary grades!

5. Got this sweet picture of my niece Morgan Grace today.  Isn't she gorgeous?

I hope you all have a great weekend!  If you're snowed in like me and looking for something to do, link up with Doodle Bugs!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Valentine Preparations

So after complaining about the rain, I did get blessed with our first snow day of the year!  So, my weekend is four days long.  I'm trying to soak up every minute.  I've used some of my free time to finish up some Valentine's Day projects.  February is such a busy month with the 100th day, too, so I'm trying to get ahead of the game.

Here is my new Valentine's Day book (click on the pictures to check it out).


This shows the same page in each of the 4 versions.  The pack also has a black/white option.

I always use these books during word study time, because they can target different skills (letter ID, sight words, phonetic spelling, etc.)  and the kids are excited to read it since it's holiday-themed.  This is basically a Level C if you use Fountas and Pinnell levels.  If you need an easier book, I've also made a Level A Valentine's book.  It is similar to the above book and targets "big" and "see."
Here are some pictures from the Level A (click the pictures to go to my TPT store).

And I made a book for one of our new February word families.  We'll be studying the -ug family, so I made a book called "The Love Bug," complete with matching picture and word cards.  Here's a sample of what you get with that book.

Now that I feel like I've accomplished something this weekend, I can go back to relaxing, ha!  I hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Rain Rain Go Away

Oh my goodness...this week seems to be moving in slow motion.  We have had tons of rain all week, which means no recess.  My students are quickly deteriorating (and I'm right there with them).  Add to that the fact that we have a class-wide incentive system to earn extra recess and they earned their extra recess yesterday morning.  They keep on asking when we'll have our extra recess and I point to the windows and say "hello?  Remember the rain?"  "Maybe tomorrow the rain will stop."  We can only hope.  Meanwhile, we've been doing our best to keep moving in the classroom.  Here are some videos from youtube we LOVE for rainy days...or any time we need a movement break.

These songs are also great for practicing left and right, especially the Cha Cha Slide, because it actually shows the kids the right direction to move.  I hope your weather is better than ours right now!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Since Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up next week, I wanted to share some of the activities I did last year.  I plan to do generally the same activities this year with my kindergarten students, but I wanted to share sooner than later in case you wanted to use any of these ideas in your room.

My very favorite activity I do each year is make this wreath:
We spend a few days talking about Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement.  We talk about how people were treated differently depending on their skin color.  Then, we talk about how no one's skin is really white or black.  I have white students come up and hold their arm next to a piece of white paper.   We all agree it's not the same.  Black students compare their skin to a black piece of paper, and again we all agree it's different.  Then, we think of other ways to describe our skin - peach, tan, brown, caramel, etc.  

Then, we all find our unique skin color by mixing paint.  We use peach, black, white, and brown acrylic paint, plus some different acrylic skin tones I pick up at Michaels.  The students have to mix until they find a color that matches their skin color and then paint it on an outline of their hand.  When everyone's hands dries, we glue them together into a wreath, to show that we're all united even though no one's exactly the same.  Then, we talk about judging people based on how they act rather than how they look, what language they speak, or where they come from.  The wreath is a good reminder that hangs in the room for the rest of the year.

Some of my favorite books to read for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day are Martin's Big Words and Freedom Summer.

Martin's Big Words by Doreen Rappaport

Martin's Big Words has beautiful illustrations and tells about Dr. King's message in a simple way, using some of his famous words.

Freedom Summer by Deborah Wiles

 Freedom Summer is a book I stumbled across last year and it made a big impact on my class.  In this book, a black boy and a white boy are friends, but are sad because they can never swim together in the Whites Only pool.  A new law is made and the town is forced to open the pool to everyone.  But on the day it's supposed to open, when the boys go to swim, the pool is being filled in with asphalt.  My students were so sad with this ending and really felt the injustice of what had happened.  It seemed to make that time really come alive for them.  Look it up - it is so much better than I can explain it.

We talked about how to be leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr, and how we could fight for what we believed in.  For a writing activity, we wrote what Dr. King's dream was and then wrote our own dreams for the world.    I loved reading my first graders' sweet dreams.

MLK dreamed about white and black kids and grown ups
can get along.  No fighting. Peace and love. My dream for the
world is no littering.
MLK dreamed about people working together.
He dreamed of black and white people getting along.
People going to the store together.  My dream for the world is
people believe in other people. People being friends.
Martin Luther King believed in people but they don't.
MLK dreamed about everyone sharing.  He wanted peace.
He believed in love.  He believed in God and he loves everyone.
My dream for the world is to stop the wars. 
MLK dreamed about: Don't let white people take your seat.
My dream for the world is: No littering.
 We also learn a song and sign language which we share on our school news show.  It's "Martin Luther King" by Brian Kinder.  You can find it on iTunes.  I really wish I could show my students' performing the song, because they're much cuter than I am :)  But...if you want to teach your kids the sign language for the song, you can learn it in this video. (Can you tell how uncomfortable I am on camera, ha!)

I hope this helps some of you plan for Martin Luther King, Jr. day!  What special things do you do to teach about this day?

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Among all of our assessing this week, we've sneaked in some fun snowmen activities.  We read The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler.
Then, we wrote "How to Build a Snowman."  This was harder than I had expected since usually we've had a little snow by this time of year.  The kids were having trouble drawing on their own experiences to think about building a snowman.  But, we referred back to the book and got our writing done.  Then, we glued the How To's to construction paper and decorated the other side to make our very own snow people.  I love the way they turned out!

Make a little ball.  Make a medium snowball.  Make a big snowball.  Add: eyes, nose, mouth.


We also worked on our "The Snowman" books.  (This also helped give the kids How To ideas.)  Most of the class worked on a new sight word "has":

Some students worked on stretching out words....

And two of my sweeties reviewed the word "the"

Now if only we could get some real snow!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Star of the Week

I've been finding myself wanting to blog, but feeling uninspired by my current classroom activities...we are assessing and assessing and assessing.  Our quarter ends the 18th and I'm working my way through state tests and county tests and school/grade level requirements.

We are sneaking in a few fun activities I'll hopefully post later this week, but for now, I decided to share what we do for Star of the Week.  I know many of you do Student/Star of the Week, too, and I would love to hear your ideas.  Here's what we do in my room...

Each Thursday, a child goes home with the special star of the week letter and a poster board.  On Monday, they return the poster *hopefully* filled with pictures of their family and their life. That day, they share their poster and have an interview with the class.

Here is the result of our interview with our star today:
The Star calls on each student and answers their question.  They can ask any question they want.  At the beginning of the year, we practice asking questions.  (In the beginning, some just want to ask yes/no questions.  Do you like pizza?  Do you like recess? etc.)  But they always catch on quickly and are so motivated to come up with interesting questions.

We hang the Star's poster and interview writing outside our door.  So many people stop by and look at it, which I think is so cool.  It helps everyone in the school connect with our sweet little kindergartners.

All week, the Star gets to line up right behind the line leader (I don't find this that exciting, but for some reason my kinders really really do.)  And the Star gets to sit in this special chair:
And each day, they do something special.  On Tuesday, they get a special pencil and sticker. Wednesday, they bring in their favorite toy for show and tell.  At the beginning of the week, they take home our class mascot - a little eagle, and a journal.  On Thursday, they return the eagle and share their journal of what they did together.  And on Friday, they wear a crown and get a certificate.  The crown seems to be the most important thing.  Sometimes stars will ask me every day when they'll get to wear their crown.

A lot of times, the Star's family will also come in for a special activity (usually reading their favorite story and sharing a snack).  It's a really special week for the kid and the family!

If you're looking for some different Star of the Week ideas, I did a few new things when I looped to first last year.  Instead of sending home a blank poster board, I sent an "All About Me" poster where they had to write in things about themselves to go with their pictures.

Rather than doing another interview, we did a making words activity using the name of the Star.  We put all the words we made into a wordle that I printed and posted in the hall.  Here's an example (using my name).
And for a spin on Show and Tell, we did a Mystery Box.  The Star took home our empty Mystery Box and returned it with an object and three clues.  The class guessed the object based on the clues. 

Do you do Star of the Week or something similar?  What's your favorite activity to do?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January Freebies!

Happy New Year everyone!  Time for another post for Fabulicious Freebies on the First!

Here is a graph I made to graph my students' growth with their letters and sounds.  (It's available for classes with between 16 and 25 students.)  We hung it outside our door to showcase our growth.  Hope you can use it!  Just click the picture to get your copy!

Also, in case you missed it the other day, here's a really simple writing template we're going to use for "How to Build a Snowman."  We're cutting out the circles and gluing them to the back of a snowmen we make.  

Check out more freebies at Freebielicious! Good luck to everyone starting back to school tomorrow!  I'm with you!

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