Friday, September 15, 2017

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Centers

Our first full week of kindergarten is in the books and we had SO much fun. We have been launching Daily Five, began math centers/ math workshop, and read one of my favorite books... Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! We read the story during our "inquiry" science/social studies blocks. By the end of the week, my friends were able to read the story with me!

After the story each day, my class split up into their inquiry groups and went to a center. By the end of the week, they had visited all four centers (we started on Tuesday)!

My small friends had a great time with their centers and learned a lot too! In addition to practicing letter recognition and letter sounds, they also worked on their independence. We do centers pretty much all day so this is really important in my room.

Here is a look at our Chicka Chicka Boom Boom centers!

At the Play Doh alphabet center, students worked with the play doh mats to form each letter. I use play doh a lot in my room, so I wanted to get them working with it right away. They did wonderfully! When we were learning our math centers, I had taught all of my friends to roll their play doh "into a snake" first. They all did it on their own at this center! The play doh mats are awesome and they are from Lakeshore. If you don't have them, you can grab another set that is included in my Chicka Chicka resource.

Bingo Center
Here is our bingo center! I had both upper/lowercase letter cards and beginning word pictures so that my friends could do something appropriate for their level. This isn't just a great center for letter recognition and beginning sounds-- it is also great for working in a group and learning about winning and losing.

Sensory Letter Center
At the sensory letter bin center, students chose letters out of the bin and found the matching letter on their mat. I included more mats then were needed at the center in case they finished early. If they were done with ALL of them, I let them practice making each others names with the letters. I was so proud of how well they worked independently.

Art Center
I love crafts. Any way I can incorporate them into centers, I do! At this center, the kids cut apart their names and glued it to their papers. They wrote their name and counted how many letters are in it. Then we made the top of the palm tree using green paint and handprints! I had taken pictures of them earlier in the week so we glued it on. At the end, they had their very own Chicka Chicka palm tree.

Chicka Chicka BOOM Cards!

In addition to our centers, we did the some Boom Cards! Boom Cards are digital, interactive, self-checking task cards. My kids will be using Boom Cards throughout the year during math centers (math through technology center), Daily Five, and inquiry centers. I have been introducing the cards and how they work this week on the ActivBoard as a whole group. We completed these sets of cards throughout the week and it was so much fun! I can't wait for my friends to start doing them on their own. Here is a video preview of the Chicka cards:

If you are looking to do Chicka Chicka Boom Boom centers with your own class, you can hop on over to my store and check out my resource by clicking the picture below. It includes all of the activities above and more!

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Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Classroom Reveal

My classroom is *almost* ready for my new kindergarten friends! I say almost because for the next few days, i'm sure i'll come up with something else that needs to get done. To be honest with you, when I walked into my classroom last week for the first time since June, there really wasn't a LOT that needed to be done. We are lucky enough to be allowed to leave bulletin boards up, so I could have just organized and called it a day. But for some reason I feel like it's not really a new year if I don't change some things around in my room. So--I created way more work for myself then was ever needed, but at the end it was totally worth it and I love how it turned out.

Here is our guided reading and math table. Our crate seats got a makeover with bright pink polka dot fabric!
These crate seats are a life saver. They created so much extra storage for me! I have six crate seats at my reading table and another six as computer chairs. I store everything from folders to puzzles in them!
Our classroom library is ready to go!
My library is labeled by genre-- not level. I'm not a big believer in sorting books by level. I'd much rather my kids pick out what they're interested in reading. We start launching the Daily Five on the very first day of school, so I have preselected 3-4 books and put them in each child's book box.
This is my second guided reading/math table and the home to our yoga balls :) They are kept in place by pool noodles!
It's hard to tell from the picture... but in addition to names, children have a picture of a fruit tapes on their cubbies. I split my kids up into three groups: pineapples, watermelons, and apples. This is how we will pack up this year-- i'll call one fruit group at a time! :) They are scattered so that the kids aren't on top of one another while they pack up.
You can't tell from the picture, but the scrapbook paper is glitter!

Here is our break corner! :)
Clutter really bothers me-- behind the curtain are shelves where the construction paper and math manipulatives live. The kids will be able to access it, they'll just have to slide the curtain. :) 
Our word wall and kitchen/ play area.
When it's time to play, the kids can just slide the curtains out of the way. Everything is labeled! Woo!
A big goal of mine was creating an organized space where everything has a spot. I also wanted to minimize distractions. I have LOTS of toys in my room, but the shelves are open and it looked cluttered. I grabbed about 3 yards of polka dot fabric and a tension rod and made some curtains!

I also wanted my friends to feel like this classroom is theirs. I created a "you are loved" picture wall by hot gluing clothes pins onto small scrapbook paper. I am so excited to get pictures hung up!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Back to School with Oriental Trading

Is it really August already? Summer is flying by WAY too fast. Luckily for me, we don't officially go back to school until the first week in September so there are still plenty of beach days left. August is my "prep" month-- I try my best to get things done for my classroom here and there, that way i'm not stuck doing it all at once the week before the kiddos come in.

What's new for this year? Well, I got some pretty awesome stuff from Oriental Trading that is going to make this year even better. By the way, Oriental Trading has a new section of their website called Learn 365-- it's a one stop teacher shop and it is AWESOME! Here's what I grabbed from their store:

Magnetic Ten Frame Answer Boards: Ohhhhh when I saw them I HAD to have them. How perfect are these for math workshop!? There are so many things I can do with them-- numbers 1-20, addition, subtraction, etc. They come in a pack of four, which is the size that my math workshop groups usually are. They also include the double sided counters. I'm really excited to get going with these! I can't wait to share the different activities I am going to do with them. Grab them HERE!

All About Numbers Pocket Chart: Keeping with the math theme, I also grabbed the numbers pocket chart! We always have a "number of the day" that we discuss doing morning meeting and this chart has everything I could ever want. What a great way to teach your kids to see the same number in different ways! I will definitely be relying on this for the first half few months when we learn about the numbers 1-20! Grab it HERE!

Sensory Numbers: Learning to write the numbers 0-20 is something that we focus on throughout the year. As teachers, we know that students learn in all different ways. If we acknowledge this and give them a variety of tools to learn, they can be successful. These textured cards are perfect to help my little ones remember each number. I am planning on using these during math workshop, RTI, and may even put them out at my centers! Grab them HERE!

Sensory Letters: Well, if I was getting the numbers I HAD to get the letters too! Again, these textured letter cards are a great way for students to use their sense of touch to learn. I plan to use these cards during guided reading, RTI, and I will put them out at the word work station for addition practice. Grab them HERE!

Patchwork Owl Bulletin Board Cutouts: Each kindergarten at my school is named after a different animal. We are........ the owls! There are 4 dozen owls and I use them for LOTS of things-- my birthday wall, my classroom door, and labeling. They are so cute! Grab them HERE!

Oriental Trading truly has everything you need to make it a great school year! Head on over to Learn 365 to check it out!

Disclaimer: This post may contain sponsored content, affiliate links or review products. Regardless of this these are 100% my own opinion. 

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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Google Classroom for Kindergarten

We've seen lot's of really cool digital resources for Google Classroom and Microsoft One Drive for the big kids. With so many school districts rolling out GAFE (google apps for education) or Microsoft for Classroom, teachers of the littlest learners have a great opportunity to start using it in their own classroom.

When we think "paperless, digital resources" it can be a bit scary. Lets be honest... littles are NOT the greatest typers out there! BUT There are so many awesome resources that aren't formatted for typing!. Your little ones can do "drag and drop" activities where they manipulate objects on the screen. Here's a video example of one of the ones I created for my own students:
If you want that resource, you can grab it HERE
  • Create (or have an IT person at your school create) a shortcut on the computer or iPad to take kids directly to the Google Classroom sign in page.
  • Laminate & give students a "Secret Code" badge with their username and password for Google Classroom. Grab it free at the end of this post :) 
  • Train a few "tech kids" in your room to help anyone having a problem, that way you won't be running over to a computer or iPad when you are working with other students.
  • KNOW your kids CAN do it!
  • Don't let your little ones get left out of Google Classroom or Microsoft One Drive! Encourage admins to make accounts for your kids!

Grab your free "secret code" editable badge's by clicking the picture below!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Oriental Trading and Valentines Day

Is it just me or is this school year totally flying by!? I can't believe we are already almost in February! The time after winter break went in the blink of an eye! Those of you who teach the littlest ones KNOW that prep for Valentine's Day starts super early. There are so many cute activities to do with the kiddo's for this holiday!

I am all about centers in my classroom-- it takes up the majority of our day. My little ones are used to working independently by this point in the year, and all I have to do is quickly explain and activity and send them off!

So... what am I doing for my Valentine's Day centers? I stopped by the Oriental Trading Valentine's Day page to grab some adorable crafts and games to leave at each center. I am loving everything Oriental Trading this year... the crafts and games are so cute and so easy for my Kinders to do on their own!

1.) Love Bug Headband Craft Kit (11.99) Okay so there was NO WAY I wasn't getting this. This is quite possibly the cutest thing I ever could have imagined for a headband craft! My kid's LOVE crowns-- we make them for lots of different things throughout the year, but this one is extra adorable and special! The headbands are easy to assemble and come with self-adhesive foam. I always love when Oriental Trading craft kits come pre-packaged-- SO much easier than having to sort out the pieces and leave a kit for each kid.

I wanted to do more than just have the kids make headbands at this center so I quickly made a "love bug" writing activity! We have been focusing a lot on being kind this year-- and I wanted my kids to write about how they can "spread the love" by being a "love bug!" We are going to brainstorm ideas and i'll make an anchor chart to leave at the center to help them write independently. You can grab a free copy of the "love bug"  writing page by clicking the image below!

2.) Owl You Need is Love Sign Kit (8.99)  This was another "must have" for me! All of our Kindergarten classes are named after an animal. We are... of course... the owls! I wanted the kids to be able to take home a cute gift for their parents, and this was just perfect. The kits include self-adhesive foam and are individually packaged which makes life a whole lot easier! I have gotten such great feedback this year from parents about the take-home gifts we've made from Oriental Trading-- so I figured this was a winner!

3.) Color Your Own Fuzzy Valentines Day Wreaths (7.49) If your class loves to color as much as mine does, than this is perfect! This activity is totally independent and oh-so-adorable. I wanted my kids to be able to take their wreaths home to decorate or give it as a gift. I know this one will be a big hit!

4.) Heart Ring Toss Game (15.99): Who doesn't love a good game!? This ring toss game is great for practicing gross motor skills and I also turned mine into a math game! Each time they get the ring around the heart, they earn one point! I am having them keep track with tally marks. The winner at the end of the center round gets a sticker!

Disclaimer: This post may contain sponsored content, affiliate links or review products. Regardless of this these are 100% my own opinion. 

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Oriental Trading and the Holiday Season

WOW has time flown by! It seems like just yesterday my little bunch of Kindergartners walked through the classroom door for the first time. Now we are in full on holiday mode which is SUPER exciting.

I teach in a public school, so we cover all of the holiday celebrations. We are about to start our "holiday's around the world" passport project-- which is a favorite of mine. The kids always LOVE it and they learn so much!

We also have a very special friend watching over us throughout December! When we came back from Thanksgiving break, he was waiting for us on the ActivBoard! He even brought us the Elf on the Shelf book to read! After we read the book, we colored small pictures of an elf and voted on a name. It was a close call, but Sparkles was the winning name!

Each morning when they come into class, the kids find Sparkles in his new spot and write about it in their Elf journal. He usually leaves us a special message for the day. Sometimes, he brings us SURPRISES!

What has Sparkles left us?? This brings me to... Oriental Trading! I absolutely love EVERYTHING about this company... they have such great holiday products for very reasonable prices! You can check out their Christmas landing page  to find lots of neat stuff. I especially love all of their crafts! You can check them out directly by clicking here!

Here are some of the holiday treats that I grabbed for my little ones!

Prancing Reindeer Ornament Craft (4.99): I love to teach with themes ALL year, but I especially love them in December.

This little craft was perfect for our Reindeer week! During that week, we read all about Reindeer and then do a nonfiction report on Reindeer. This little ornament is a great craft to end our Reindeer week with! I also figured it would make a cute parent gift!

It is super easy to put together-- each of the pieces is self-adhesive and they come in little packages that are so easy to hand out! If you are looking for an easy craft, this is a must!

Gingerbread Doorknob Hanger Kit (7.99): The Elf is going to be dropping off these little kits at the end of our gingerbread week. We will be reading The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone. The kids will do their gingerbread writing activity and do gingerbread themed math and reading centers. The week will end with this adorable little craft! It is super easy for the kids to put together-- they come out so cute!

Snowman Ornament Craft (5.99) I LOVE all of the December holiday themes that I have built around read aloud books, but reading Snowmen at Night is my favorite! We spent this week reading the book and writing all about what we would do if we were a snowman at night! I wanted to end the week with a take home craft, since these snowman writing activities are going to be hung up until winter break! Oriental trading had a perfect, simple, and ADORABLE snowman craft stick activity for us to use! Of course, Sprinkles will deliver the craft! The kits include everything you need for the craft-- it is super easy to pass everything out! I can't wait for the kids to make them and bring them home!

Goldtone Jingle Bell Necklaces: (5.99)  The day before winter break, we have our Polar Express party! The kids wear their PJs to school, get their golden tickets, and we read the Polar Express book, then watch the movie! It is such a fun and memorable day for my little Kinders that I wanted to do something extra special this year. These necklaces will be given out with a "believe" tag as a take home keepsake for them! I saw the idea on Pinterest last year but it was too last minute to get it together! I am ready to go for this year! I will post pictures as soon as they are made. :)

Mini Holly Jolly Prisms (5.99): These cute little prizes were given out by our Elf when the kids had an extra great day. My little ones were so surprised when they came into the classroom to find them on their desks! I let them look through them to find their sight words when they choose the "write the room" activity at the word work center! So much fun!

Color Your Own Santa's Workshop (24.99): I saw this and I KNEW I HAD to have it. It is being delivered by our Elf and I am busting it out next week during our Gingerbread week! I am planning to have the kids decorate it with water color paint when they get to that center. When it is all done, the workshop will stay in our classroom library for kids to read in until winter break! I am so excited to see their faces when the open this box!

Disclaimer: This post may contain sponsored content, affiliate links or review products. Regardless of this these are 100% my own opinion. 

Saturday, October 1, 2016

STEM and Mindware

September is over-- and WOW it flew by! My little Kinders have been busy learning classroom routines, exploring, and getting into the swing of things! My school has an AMAZING STEM program, and we will be starting that up soon. I started doing some STEM activities in my own classroom and they are just eating it up! It is so exciting to see how engaged they are and see the amazing things they come up with!

Speaking of STEM... have you guys heard of Mindware!? It is an amazing company that has lots of "brainy" toys for kids that are a perfect tie into STEM and so much more!! Even more than that, they have lesson plans that align to different toys and games! 

I am using some Mindware toys and games with my kiddos and they have been having a blast! I wanted to share them with you all, and hopefully you can try them in your own classrooms!

1.) KEVA Brain Builders Junior (15.95)  Oh my goodness these are SO COOL and they are a huge hit in my room. The bag came with 20 KEVA planks which was the perfect amount for my kids. The set included awesome puzzle cards, which I hole punched and put onto a binder ring. The cards are fun and challenging... it was so exciting for me to watch the kids problem-solve and build different structures! I used the KEVA blocks during my STEM centers and the kids are also requesting to use them during play time! They have been following the cards, but I anticipate that they will start building structures without the cards too! 

In addition to STEM and play time, I used the KEVA blocks at my math centers for number recognition. As mentioned, Mindware has some great lesson plans that tie in with their products. I followed their number recognition lesson plan. I also had the kids MAKE each number out of the KEVA planks. So much fun! The possibilities are truly endless. 

You can grab the KEVA set that I have here  or take a look at some of the larger sets that they have by clicking here! I am so in love with these building blocks that I am planning on asking the PTA to buy even more for my classroom! 

Here are some pictures of the KEVA blocks in action!

2.) Pattern Play (29.95): This was another HUGE hit that I used at my STEM centers, math centers, and I am also putting out at play time due to popular request! This activity really encourages problem solving skills, mathematical thinking, anddddd since I had kids in groups... teamwork! It was interesting to see all of the kids interact and work through challenges. It really taught me A LOT about them as learners... which was invaluable at the beginning of the year.

Mindware had a fantastic lesson plan for color and shape recognition. This really helped me assess what students knew/ didn't know, which is super important in September. I called out a color/ shape, and students had to identify it! You can check out the lesson plan here

I plan on using Pattern Play all year long! Like the KEVA plans, the pattern play set comes with a set of numbered cards for kids to follow. The cards range in difficulty and really get kids to put their thinking caps on! You can grab the pattern play set by clicking here

Take a look at the pattern play game in action: 

3.) Qwirkle (24.95): This is a really, really, super fun group game that encourages strategic thinking, color/shape recognition, and higher level thinking! The game is a combo of dominos and scrabble, but with shapes and colors!

I introduced this game to my students one small group at a time. I wanted to teach all of them how to play, so that they could play without me throughout the year! We had a rainy day and the kids stayed inside for recess. When I came back, one of the kids told me that they took out the game to play! How awesome! 

Unfortunately, I didn't get time to snap any pictures because I was busy playing too! It is amazing how quickly 5 and 6 year olds can think! For those of you using the growth mindset, this is a MUST HAVE! It really encourages forward thinking. I plan on putting it out again this upcoming week and will get some photos of the game in action. Anyway, it is SO addicting that I actually brought it home to play with my family! Grab it here!

So...teachers and parents, head on over to Mindware and take a look at these products. They are totally worth it, and will really get your kids thinking!

This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provided the sample free of charge by Mindware to provide my honest review. No other type of compensation was received. All ideas and opinions are my own. 

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