Sunday, September 11, 2016

First Week of Kindergarten

Well-- it's a wrap! The first week of Kindergarten is officially over. I'm not going to lie-- it was totally exhausting. I am not used to waking up that early just yet! Despite that, I think that it was an awesome first week!

I would be lying to you if I told you that we already made tons of cute crafts and did lots and lots of activities. To be completely honest-- I spent the first four days (we started on a Tuesday) teaching and practicing the routines that we will use for the rest of the year. I think this is WAY more important than getting lots of stuff hung up on bulletin boards. I am going to share the procedures we have established the first week, as well as some of the activities we did!

Starting Morning Work!
1.) Morning Routine: My Kinders come in between 8:15-8:30. Drop offs usually arrive first, then bus students and morning care kids. When they come in, they unpack their backpacks, put any notes in the basket, put their lunch box in the bin, backpack in their cubby, binder in their mailbox, get their morning folder, choose their seat (flexible seating), and start their morning work! This is A LOT for little ones to remember! I spent all four days at the front table asking questions like "OK, show me where your lunch box goes... what's next?" I also walked around during morning work to make sure that they were writing their names on their paper and corrected pencil grips! By Friday, most of my little ones were able to do everything on their own! Monday will take some reminding, but they are getting it down!
2.) Morning Meeting: I play a morning song to signal that it is time to cleanup and come to the rug. When "Spread a Little Sunshine" by Jack Hartmann comes on, they are expected to put their unfinished work on the owl side (or finished work on the star side) of their folders, put their folders in their group bins, and come stand on a sit spot in front of the ActivBoard. Our class sizes are bigger than normal, so I am waiting on more sit spots! Kids without one just sit on the button rug.

 During Morning Meeting we: 
  • Say the Pledge of Allegiance
  • Greet everyone (responsive classroom)-- right now we are just saying "good morning ___ "(child's name) but I will teach more greetings as the year goes on.
  • Read the morning message which includes the letter of the day and sight word we are learning about. 
  • Talk about the month and sing the "Month's of the year song"
  • Talk about the day of the week and sing the "days of the week" song.
  • Yesterday, today, tomorrow routine.
  • Count the days of the month so far.
  • Ten Frame # of days in school.
  • Active board days in school (place value and coins)
  • Weather reporters
  • Jack Harmann Alphabet letter sound song 
  • Sight word song (Heidi Songs DVD)
  • I have also been reviewing attention getters during morning meeting so that we can practice, practice, practice!
I have the kids run morning meeting throughout the year, but they are still learning the routine. I am modeling it for them with helpers so that they can eventually do it on their own!

Grab the math centers here!
3.) Math Centers: OK-- I use a math workshop model. That means that I teach a 10 minute mini lesson to the whole class, then pull out small groups during centers. This week (and probably for the beginning of next week) I just had the kids practice rotating and working quietly with their groups. We have 7 centers and the rotation does not change throughout the year-- so I wanted to establish the routine so that students could work independently. How did I start?
Click the picture to grab these!
  • I had kids sit with their math groups and do a "getting to know you" activity. My groups will change soon, but I wanted them to get to know who was IN their group for now so that they could help each other rotate.
  • I bought rubber wristbands from amazon so that I know WHO is in what group in case they lose their group. I have 22 kids-- so it is easy to do!
  • We practiced JUST ROTATING FIRST (every day). 
  • For the first two days, I put out ONLY manipulatives for the kids to get used to. I did have kids go on the computers to play a paint game on ABCYA to work on their mouse skills. I also had "counting fish" (ABCYA) on the ActivBoard for them to practice taking turns and using the pens.
  • Thursday-Friday I introduced the actual math centers they will be doing for the first unit.

4.) Launching the Daily Five! I LOVE THE DAILY FIVE! I think it is the best way to set up literacy instruction so that the kids work independently and I can take small groups. It is extra important to follow the launch plan that the sisters suggest so that you can get to the point where kids work quietly and independently without interrupting you. This week we launched Read to Self. We created our Independence Chart (sorry! I should have taken pictures!) We also graphed our stamina! I really hit hard on the "don't come up to me unless it is an emergency!" point. I have a little light from the Dollar Tree that I have on my table that serves as a "do not disturb!" It's hard-- but you have to really ignore the kids so that they get used to being on their own. By Friday, we had read for 5 minutes! 
5.) Yoga! I don't do a "normal" rest time in my class. I give the kids the option of participating in Cosmic Kids Story Time Yoga. It is AWESOME! My first year, I found that rest time tends to be where behavior problems arise and that most of the kids don't want to just lay there. If they do, they certainly have the option to just listen to the story (I put the yoga video volume on low and the kids do not talk!) To my surprise, almost everyone participated in Yoga and earned brag tags for trying it out! They loved it! 
5.) Following directions and learning names: We spent a lot of time learning names this week. We talked about what letters are in our names, how many letters are in our names, clapped out our names, and played name games. I read Chrysanthemum to the kids and we talked about how our names are all special. I prepped the name craft by having their names written in black sharpie on oak tag. I put paper out on the table and modeled how to tear the paper into little pieces and glue it to form each letter of their name. I was so proud of them-- they really followed the directions and I LOVE how it came out! Before I hung them up, they shared their project and something special about themselves.I leave these up for the whole year!
7.) Friday Awards: EVERY Friday of the year, I have a little awards ceremony at the very end of the day to celebrate special accomplishments. Before this, we discussed how not EVERYONE was going to get an award and that just because you don't, doesn't mean you didn't do a good job. I only give out 6-7 awards per Friday, but I make sure everyone gets a few throughout the year. I expected some tears from kids who didn't get an award, but I was so pleasantly surprised that everyone clapped and celebrated those who did. No tears!
Grab a copy by clicking on the picture!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Getting Ready for Halloween

Summer is by far my favorite season. I love going to the beach, relaxing, and spending time doing things that are otherwise overlooked during the school year.  However, summer is winding down and I am coming to terms with it. I have to admit, now that school is starting on Tuesday and I have purchased my pumpkin pie spice creamer from Shop Rite... I am getting pretty excited for fall to roll around.

I am definitely someone who likes to plan ahead-- so here I am, thinking about my Halloween party! If you teach elementary school like I do, then you KNOW how big of a deal the classroom Halloween party is! It can be a stressful time for teachers, especially if you don't have any room parents. Whether you have room parents or not though, Oriental Trading is WHERE IT'S AT for AMAZING halloween prizes, decorations, games, and costumes! 

What am I getting from Oriental Trading for my party? Check it out!

1.) Candy Corn Owl Magnet Craft Kit: 12 for 5.99: I always do several crafts for fall/Halloween with my kindergartners and this one was just so cute and simple that I couldn't resist! The nice thing is that no glue is involved-- the pieces are self-adhesive which makes for no sticky fingers! This is a perfect little project for the kids to take home and parents to hold on to. I am SO excited to do this with my students! I am planning to use it as a station during our class party since it is so easy to do! I am going to make one myself and leave it as a model. Click HERE to take you to this adorable product!
2.  Color Your Own Halloween Masks 12 for 5.25-  This is another PERFECT and simple Halloween activity that I plan to use as a station during the party! You can have students color in their masks with markers, or choose to use water color paint like I am going to do! After the masks are completed, I wanted to have a monster mash dance party! I love that this is another activity that my kindergartners will be able to do independently. Click  HERE to take you to the masks!

3. Fall Bowling Set- 9.99 I couldn't resist this adorable candy corn bowling set. It is something that I can keep for years to come and I KNOW it will be a big hit! This will be another station at the classroom party and it is something that the kids will be able to self-monitor (or I can have a parent volunteer stationed there!) I also want to tie it into math by having the kids count how many candy corn pins they knocked down! Click HERE to go to the bowling set!

4. Ghost Dartboard- 7.99 This is another super cute station game that I am so excited about! It comes with orange and black balls to throw-- it will be a ton of fun to use! The dartboard comes totally put together and is really great quality. I am planning on using this for years to come. I am going to make little numbers to stick on the board for the kids to earn points towards a prize! Click HERE to take you to the ghost dartboard.
5. Jack-O'-Lantern Beanbag Toss- 14.99 Another AMAZING Halloween station! It comes with the  beanbag toss board and adorable little candy corn beanbags that are perfect for my kids to throw! I love that it has points on the board in order to make it a game and I plan on having kids earn a prize at this station! This game, like everything else, really great quality and something you can keep for a long time! Click HERE to take you to the beanbag toss game!
6. Monster Beanbag Toss Game- 11.99 This is my final station and a game that I totally couldn't resist getting! The monster theme is adorable and it comes with beanbags too-- I know it will be another huge hit. I'm sure I will be using this for years to come! Click HERE to take you to the monster beanbag toss game!

7. "Boo Boo Bunch" Mini Halloween Yo-Yos 2.75/dozen: I have some Halloween prizes left over from last year, but I knew that I would need more. Yo-Yos were a big hit with last years Kindergartners and I am sure that this year they will love them too! If you aren't giving out "prizes" for games, you can also include them in Halloween/ fall treat bags or hand them out as a little gift from you! Click HERE to take you to the yo-yos!
8. Construction Worker Vest 4.25- This last item on my list serves two purposes. The first is as an extra Halloween costume. I have a tool belt in my classroom and some boots that we use for dress up already, so this went perfectly. I always worry that someone will come in without a costume so to avoid tears I keep a few extra on hand. When we are done with Halloween it is going to go right into my dress up bin for the kids to use during play time! Click HERE to take you to the vest!

1.) Head over to Oriental Trading and check out their AWESOME Halloween costumes, decorations, and prizes. Add lots of stuff to your wish list! Post your list on your class website or include the link in the newsletter you send home! I know that parents of my students are always asking what I need for class parties, and this is really easy and convenient for everyone! If you need some inspiration, check out my wish list!

2.) Keep an extra costume on hand, especially if you teach little ones! Sometimes parents get busy and forget, or simply cannot afford to buy a costume for their child. Regardless, every child should have the chance to wear a Halloween costume-- especially if your school has a Halloween Parade like mine! Oriental Trading has lots of different options at lots of price points. 

3.) Keep kids busy by using "stations" instead of whole class activities. Halloween is SUCH an exciting day for kids and teachers want their parties to run as smoothly as possible. I have found that having kids rotate through stations keeps them engaged and having a great time! 

4.) If you are like me and cannot give out any food, head to Oriental Trading to check out some really adorable and super affordable food alternatives. 

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

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Kindergarten Classroom Setup

I can't believe I am actually saying it, but I am finally done setting up my classroom... it felt like I would never be finished! I'll be honest with you-- Pinterest was definitely not my friend this month. Every time I thought I had everything ready, I found another really cute idea that I just had to make happen!

Just an FYI, we are doing a flexible seating set up this year. That means that I have provided lots of different options for my Kinders and they will get to choose their own seats throughout the day. We have: yoga mats, clip boards, scoop chairs, bean bags, and "sitting" table, pillows, comfy chairs, yoga balls, regular seats, and crate seats! I am hoping to add more options as the year continues.

So, as per your requests, here is a tour of my classroom!

I am so excited to meet my new Kinders-- I can't wait for them to see their classroom and for them to try all of the different seating choices!

If you are doing flexible seating in your classroom, check out my flexible seating launch kit for everything you need to get started! Click the picture below to take you directly to the product.