Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Kindergarten Smorgasboard of Centers!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Kindergarten Smorgasboard of Successful Teaching

Happy Hump Day!  It's all down hill from here!!  I hope everyone is having a great week!  If you're in the path or have been in the path of this severe weather, I hope you're safe!  We were awaken at 3 a.m. last night by the tornado sirens but all is well at the Kindergarten Smorgasboard!

This morning I was checking my Facebook and came across a post with an article about what makes a successful teacher different from other teachers.  I was skeptical at first, but as I read the article I was very impressed.  Today I want to share some of those ideas and how well I do or do not follow these successful teaching techniques.

1.  Successful teachers have clear objectives.  Every morning as part of our monring meeting, we go over our goals for the day.  These are in simple kid friendly terms.  I read the goal (objective) and the monsters respond, "YES!" which means, YES WE CAN DO THAT!  At the end of the day, we go back over the goals and if we met the goal, the monsters yell "YES, CHECK!"  

I love having them know what the goals are for the day because it gives them (and Mr. Greg) a sense of purpose and keeps me focused.  I once heard that sharing the objective with students can increase learning 80%!  (This was during some no clue about the source!)

6.  Successful teachers expect their students to succeed.  My monsters will tell you that Mr. Greg expects them to be the best.  Period.  End of discussion.  I accept nothing less than the best from every student.  I understand that each monster has their own personal best and that is what is expected.  If you set the bar high, they will grasp that bar!

8.  Successful teachers use praise smartly.  This is something I am working very hard to improve.  There is a lot of information about there about praise.  Keep it private.  Make it specific.  Don't use the words "I like."  It's so hard to not use "I like how...."  I try to use "I see 1 person doing this."  I will count how many people are doing what was asked until we reach the number of kids in the class.  And being specific is a challenge.  I am notorious for saying "Good job!"  I try to be aware of what I am praising for and let the monsters know.  "Thank you for that great bubble!"  It's a daily challenge.

9.  Successful teachers take risks.  I am always looking for new ideas, new strategies and new projects for my monsters.  If I find an idea I like, I do it.  If it bombs ( and boy have I had some nasty bombs) I tell the kids that Mr. Greg messed up and didn't do his work the best he could.  I learn from it and move on.  Risks are scary but also fun.  I tell the monsters you can't learn without making mistakes!  

23.  Successful teachers never stop learning.  This is why I blog.  This is why I surf Pinterest.  This is why I read, read, read.  I want to be the best teacher I can be.  I want to improve.  I want new ideas and I want to know all I can learn about my profession.   If I ever lose that desire to be better and that desire and thirst for knowledge, I will know it's time to move on.

24.  Successful teachers break out of the box.  Um, have you met me?!  I don't do anything normal.  Normal is boring.  My monsters deserve more than normal!  Take a risk.  Make a mistake and dare to be different!

I would love for you to read the article and share some of your thoughts.  

Now that I've been reflective, I want to share a funny from today!  We were using our Super Bowl centers and working on CVC words.  

If you want your students to have this fun center, check out my Super Bowl creation!

And get ready for February which is just TWO days away...can you believe that?!

And a groundhog freebie for you!!  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Kindergarten Smorgasboard of Football Fun!

Happy Tuesday!!  The weather man says we're going to have bad storms tonight, so I am predicting a day of teaching with no electricity.  It happens frequently at my school.  Two years ago, we had 9 (yes, NINE) days with no power through the course of the year!  And yes, we had school everyone of those days.  It's crazy to teach without electricity.  You think, "Oh I will do this.."  Um nope.  Electricity.  And try convincing monsters that the computers aren't going to work even if Mr. Greg turns them on!  No really, they still will not work.  I promise.    Batten down the hatches!!!

During our morning meeting, I always tell the monsters our daily schedule to get them excited about the day.  I also tell them if we have new centers in math and reading.  Today I told them we had new centers in math (reading will roll out tomorrow!) and they got excited!  Then I told them that the centers were FOOTBALL!  Hello excitement!  Even the girls were excited!  One of them yelled out, "OMG I LOVE FOOTBALL!"  And did they ever!  They were so engaged!

The monsters also went a little bonkers for the number puzzles I created!  I dunno why they loved them so much but they did!!  I heard some GREAT counting from the monsters working on this center!  I was so happy to hear them engaged and really working on those counting skills!  In fact, I've printed 3 more sets of these!! (I'm glad I have a grandmother who likes to cut stuff out!)  

We also had some craftivity fun today!!

It was a super bowl of common core learning today!!  I can't wait to see more of the monsters learning with these fun centers!!

All of these resources are available here!

And now a HUGE announcement!!!!  Get ready!

I want to make my blog a little more interactive and I want to have fun with my readers (um, I love you guys!!!  No...really...) so I have this crazy (what?!  Me?!  Crazy?!  Imagine that!)  
Ya'll know I have a love of silly hats.  Here's the challenge:  
You (or your class) design a silly hat.  I will make the hat and wear it.  And even use it in my classroom.  And now, here is the exciting part:  You can tell me somewhere in public to wear the hat.  That's right.  You get to make go into public with my silly hat!  You design the hat.  You pick the location.  I will do it.

(A few where dangerous.  Nothing offensive.  And I won't use every hat and location, but I'm pretty ya never know!  If you design the hat, you can email the pdf file and I can make it.  Or you can give me the idea and I'll do it!)  

So...GO!  Let's see what ya got!  Email me your desired hat and let's have a kindergarten smorgasboard good time!

My first challenge has been issued:  Wear a hat with T words while holding a turtle while standing on a toilet.  Thanks, Katie from Teacher To The Core!

And this is my current creation!!  I hope to have it ready by this weekend!!  OMG my kids will love writing with this!!

 And check out this HUGE give away at Growing Firsties!  The word on the street is that Growing Firsties has a crush!

Growing Firsties

Monday, January 28, 2013

A Kindergarten Smorgasboard of Greater Than And Less Than

Happy Monday!  Monday's are so hard.  I did not want to get out of bed this morning.  It was all warm and cozy.  But I did it!!  And it was a good day.  I must admit, that I love Monday because the monsters are dazed.  That means a calm and quiet and drama free day.  Of course, Mr. Greg still likes to get cray cray so we have fun.  And of course, tomorrow will be back to our normal drama filled days!  YAY!!!

Today we started learning about greater than and less than.  We have been doing this as part of our daily calendar for a while, so it was no surprise that the monsters mastered this on day one.  Let's face it, those monsters are amazing.  Brilliant little geniuses.  And they have a stellar teacher, so really, would you expect less?!

I always kick off my greater than and less than with a fun whole group activity that gives each student a chance to be "greater gator!"  I use an alligator mouth and groups of students.  Greater gator gets to eat the group that has more!

The kids love this!  It's engaging, interactive and their having fun!  WHAT?!  Having fun and learning?!  CRAY CRAY!

And the today my amazing teammate, Ms. D, had this amazing little object on her table during lunch (true story, we have evacuated the teachers lounge and eat in Ms. D's classroom...too much negativity in the lounge we have gone into seclusion!)  and I totally had to do it.  I even asked her if I could steal it and blog about prepared to be dazzled and wowed!

I know.  Right.  I will give you a minute to soak it in.  

OK!  Is that not great?!  It's so simple yet so powerful for teaching.  It's hands on, interactive and engaging!  Doesn't my team rock with their amazing ideas?!

To make this amazing device, simply cut a file folder in half.  Then cut it in half again so you have four strips.  Then you cut two small strips.  Poke a hole in the file folder and the two strips.  Use a brass brad to attach the strips to the folder.  And BAM!  You have a great teaching tool for greater than or less than!

These are perfect for centers and small group instruction.  You can use number cards or sets of objects on either side to show greater than and less than.

The students move the two pink strips to show greater than and less than. 

Totally revolutionary!!  

And of course, Monday means one thing.  The highlight of your day.  Your week.  It's what Monday is all about.

It's A Kindergarten Smorgasboard SILLY HAT MONDAY!

Are you ready for some football?!?!

Check out this common core aligned creation!  Tons of skills that are great for centers!  Differentiated!  

Click on the groundhog for a great groundhog day freebie!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Smorgasboard of Kindergarten Schedulin' Sunday!

It is a cloudy drizzly dreary Sunday here in Music City.  A great day to curl up on the couch and watch movies and eat junk.  Oh wait, I'm a teacher.  I have lesson plans to write and a week to plan.  And minds to mold and lives to change and five year old's to wow and impress!!  And I'm OK with that!  Actually, I'm a teaching dork and I love the planning and creating and putting together activities and strategies!   So Sunday's are a good day since I spend the day planning!  And now I get to share our week with you because it's time for SCHEDULIN' SUNDAY!

This week we are doing snow, the Super Bowl and Groundhog Day!  Another wild assortment of fun! Here are my plans for the week!  If you want a copy, just click the picture!  If you love the template, visit my friend Melissa at A Teacher's Plan to see all of her amazing templates!  And yes, this one is named THE GREG!  Yep.  My own.


We kick off our week with a perennial favorite  The Mitten.  Let me be brutally honest, I am not a fan of the author of this book.  It's just something about the illustrations that rub me the wrongs way.  I know...I dare I?  Please don't un-follow me and bash me...I don't like it but the monsters always seem to enjoy it and it's a great story for sequencing so I read it.  After reading the story the monsters will complete a flow map of the animals going into the mitten.  

(The picture takes you to Amazon!)

This week we are not learning the letter "u" so we will not make an umbrella hat!  Of course, silly hats!!

We will also be using The Mitten as our writing inspiration this week.  The monsters will brainstorm things that might go into their mitten!  

In math this week we are learning about greater than and less than.  We have been doing this concept during our calendar time for a while so this is a review skill for the monsters.  I always start this skill with a group activity.  I have a large alligator mouth created from poster-board   I have one person be the alligator and I pick students to form two groups.  The alligator "eats" the bigger group!  Everyone gets a turn to be the alligator!  The monsters always have fun doing this activity and it's a great way to introduce this skill!

To celebrate The Mitten, we will make mittens for our craftivity.  The monsters cut out two mittens (one purple and one blue) and they decorate the mittens with tissue paper squares.  They make a cuff of cotton balls on the bottom!  We might...MIGHT...even add glitter!  


Tuesday we will be reading The Hat.  After reading the hat, we will complete a flow map so the monsters can build their sequencing and re-telling skills.  We will also introduce compound words today.  Some of the monsters have been using a compound word puzzle in centers and are doing well with it so we will introduce it to the group today.  Let's see how it goes!  

We will do our predictable chart:  "A _______ went into my mitten!"  and we will work on our word study!  

In math, we will play a card game to build our greater than/less than skills.  Yep, it's an oldie but goody!  It used to be a favorite of mine back in the olden days (cuz I'm old!)!  I know there is probably a more politically correct name, but I know the game by one name and that's what we call it! We're going to play WAR!  I have sets of playing cards sorted out with the A to 10.  The A is the 1.  The monsters play war until there is a winner!  Be prepared for lots of laughter.  Wait, what?!  Laughter while learning?!  TRUE STORY!  Who says math isn't fun? (Uh yeah, me...hate math.  Math gets ANGRY ARMS!)

Today's craftivity has nothing to do with a hat, but it does wear a helmet!  We will be making a football player!  It is Super Bowl week after all so we have to have some football!  

The template is available in my new Super Bowl creation!  Check it out!


Happy hump day!  We made it to the halfway mark!!  

Today we review our stories The Mitten and The Hat and we will compare and contrast the stories.  We will complete a double bubble map.  After the whole group double bubble map, the monsters will do their own double bubble map as an assessment piece.  

The monsters will publish their mitten writing and illustrate their writing.

In math, we are continuing our greater than/less than skills with small group work.  The monsters who have mastered this skill will be completing some independent practice pages as assessment pieces.  Those who need more practice will be working with me using these hand print work mats.  Yes, those would be short, stubby fat fingers!  

I created a recording sheet for this activity.  You can get it on the freebies page.

We will kick off Groundhog fun with a toilet paper roll groundhog!  I know that some people have a revulsion to the tp rolls...for some obvious reasons, but, we still use them.  Nothing a little hanitizer won't fix.


Today we kick off our reading time by creating a KWL chart about groundhogs.  After we do the KW part of the KWL chart, we will read Groundhog Gets A Say.  After reading and discussing, we will add what we learned to our KWL chart.

The monsters will work on writing about groundhogs.  We will do a predictable chart about having a pet groundhog.  "If I had a pet groundhog..."  

In math, we will switch gears from greater than/less than to measurement.  We will be doing a wintry mix of measurement.  The monsters will use snowflakes to measure wintry pictures.  We will record our results on a class chart and the monsters will complete their own recording sheets.  

Our craftivity today is one of my favorites!  Um, aren't they all my favorites?!  Can ya tell I love the craftivities!  This is one is special.  I remember doing these when I was in kindergarten.  In fact, I still have mine!  True story.  It is hanging in my classroom.    What is this amazing project I speak of?!  

SILHOUETTES!  We talk about light and shadows.  And each monster has a silhouette made.  I use the old school overhead projector to create the shadow and trace around the monster's head.  Then I spend a few days cutting them out.  We display them on the bulletin board!  It's so much fun to see the parents try to figure out their child!  After a week I laminate them and send them home!

I will post a picture of my silhouette tomorrow!


YES!  We made it to Friday!  Today we will celebrate Groundhog Day!  IT'S GROUNDHOG DAY!    Does anyone remember that movie?!  ANNOYING!    Anyways, here's our big Groundhog Day celebration!

We will read Go To Sleep Groundhog.  After reading, we will complete a story map and add to our KWL chart!  The monsters will publish their sentence about their pet groundhog.  

The rest of the day will be spend with groundhogs.  The first thing we must do is make a hat.  It's a holiday so a hat is required.  It's my rule.  Follow it.

And guess what?!  You can have the template for the hat!  FREEBIE!  I expect to see lots of groundhog hat pictures!

We will also do a prediction chart about whether the groundhog will or will not see his shadow.

We will play a fun "heads or tails" game.  The monsters will slip a coin and record the results.  The "coin" has a shadow side and now shadow side!

We will play a spin and graph game and roll and color!  

It's an afternoon of groundhog learnin'!

Click the picture to get your groundhog day freebie pack!

And of course, it's Friday, so it's Foodie Fun Friday!  And it's a groundhog themed snack!

To make the snack you need:  pudding cups, Oreos, Vanilla Wafers and a little tube of black gel icing.  

The students crumble the Oreo on top of the pudding.  The student (or teacher) can add eyes and a nose to the vanilla wafer and stick in the dirt.  Super fun and yummy!

Of course, we will be doing our word study all week and working on our blending.  That is a big focus for us right now.  We will be doing a number chart to review numbers.   The chart is a laminated poster with the name of the number, tally marks, ten frame, the number before and after.  We will use this daily to 1-20 as our math review.  

This week our centers come from my new Super Bowl creation!  This creation includes addition, subtraction, ten frames, numbers, write the room, CVC words, beginning, middle and ending sounds, writing and art!  Are you ready for some football!??

And that is our kindergarten smorgasboard of common core learning week!  Shew!  Here we go!

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