Friday, July 29, 2011

Reader's Workshop Anchor Chart Ideas

I have been busy this week getting ready to do workshops at our county's New Teacher Orientation, so I've only gotten 4 chart ideas done. But I promise to get busy and finish my post on Reader's Workshop Part 2 and post more anchor chart ideas. While I make anchor charts with the children I can't resist adding small touches that brighten the charts and also gives those non readers and emergent readers some visual clues. Hope you'll find these helpful. Click on the title under the charts to download. I made them with Powerpoint.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Building a Reading Community in Kindergarten Part 1

I've given this post a great deal of thought. I began the transition to Reader's Workshop in kindergarten several years ago. But, it's taken me that long to realize how important building a classroom community is and where it can take the children. Last year, I decided that I would take at least two weeks to complete the process. As the two weeks came to a close, I rushed through lessons, skipped making anchor charts with the children and began to implement activities they weren't ready for. Nevertheless, this class achieved much more than my class the year before. With that thought in mind, I've decided to take a month or more, if needed, to truly have procedures in place.  Part 1 (The First 10 Lessons) is available for you to download along with book suggestions.  I will post the next 10 lessons very soon. I hope these lesson suggestions will be of help.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Arrival Actvities

I am always looking for independent engaging arrival activities that will keep my students active, engaged and learning. At the Target Dollar Spot I saw some individual white erase board strips. I decided to make strips with the children's names, numbers, letters, sight words, number words, color words, etc. I am going to make each child a set of strips, adding to their strips as needed. I also found some popcorn containers, I decided to make word cards and place a container at each table. The students will be challenged to help each other learn the words in the container each week. There is always a basket of books at each table, I will place word sheets in the baskets and challenge students to find words they know and words they want to learn. I am going to introduce activities one at a time until the students have several activities to choose from. If you have any ideas, please leave a comment and I'll put them in a later post. I am including the strips, popcorn words and a words list sheet; I create in powerpoint. It will be easy to change fonts, put your student's names on the strips. I used Print Bold Font from its a free download.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

My Favorite Author Linky Party

One of my favorite blogs Clutter Free Classroom is hosting a series of Linky Parties this week. When I saw this one I just had to participate. It is so hard to narrow down my favorite author. But, I have to say Kevin Henkes is one of my all time favorite authors and kindergarteners love his books. When we start talking about making text to self connections you can't find better characters to connect with than Chrysanthemum, Owen, Sheila Rae, Wimberly or Lily. Kevin Henkes is my first author study every year. The children just gravitate to his basket of books. Last year, after I had introduced Mr. Henkes and we had read and discussed his books, there was always a mad scramble to get to his basket. One day, one of my boys came over to me with a very serious look on his face. I asked him what was wrong. He told me that Owen had disappeared, I must have looked very puzzled. He then said, "Mrs. McCardle, Owen is a book by Kevin Henkes and it has disappeared. I looked in the baskets around him, but it's gone! You'll just have to get another one, I like to "read" it every day." We looked everywhere but couldn't find it. So, I bought another copy. A few weeks later I found the lost copy of Owen in the back of one of the book shelves in the classroom. I told the class that I had found the book and where I found it. The same little boy piped up and said, "That's where I hid it so I could read it every day!" Then he turned bright red. I told him it was okay, I was so glad that he loved Kevin Henkes books so much, because I did too.
P.S. I will be adding some text to self connections graphic organizers for Kevin Henkes books this week.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Labels for Math Manipulatives

I am working on getting all my math materials labeled. I've created several pages of labels using an Avery Template  2X4" (8163) I downloaded from their website. When you download the pages they will be in a Microsoft Word file, but will print on labels.  I can't wait to get back to school and get my shelves in place. I will be taking pictures soon.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Music Videos You Will Love!

I found the Let's Start Smart videos on You Tube last school year, my kindergarteners loved them! I ended up ordering their dvd,  the songs teach word families, blends and digraphs, vowels, etc.  I also use the Between the Lions video clips, they are a big hit as well. They love the Dixie Chimps. In a previous post about Harry Kindergarten I addressed the issue of getting around You Tube restrictions in most school districts. If you have any questions please leave a comment and I will email you.
I have enjoyed reading all the posts about music in our classrooms. When children are in a joyful music filled environment they are going to learn!

I Love Harry Kindergarten!

I am always searching for great videos to use with my kindergarteners. I found Harry Kindergarten a few weeks ago and I have been downloading all his great music videos ever since. I also subscribed to his You Tube site  and now I'm notified every time he puts up a new video!
 A Techy Tip
Because You Tube is blocked in our school district I have had to come up with a way to be able to show them in the classroom. There's a simple way to do this. Download Real Player, enable the download button in the program and then download videos you like. You can then burn them on a cd or copy them to your flashdrive. I use HP Simple Save. I noticed that Target had a 250 GB external harddrive for 29.00 yesterday. You'll have to have Real Player installed on your school computer. Short videos are easy to imbed into powerpoint or notebook files. Then the video you want to use it right at your fngertips.
I hope you will check Harry Kindergarten out, you will love him!

1,000 Followers Give Away

Click on Oceans of First Grade Fun to find out how to qualify for her 1,000 Followers Give Away. While you are there, look around it's a fabulous blog!!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I'm Getting a Smartboard!!!!!!!!

I am so excited! I am getting a smartboard for my classroom finally!!! I have used an infocus projector for several years, but it's not interactive. I put my calendar in ppt several years and have done calendar time with it since then. I have a small calendar board that I use for things that needed to be posted all the time. But, long story short I found out I could take all my powerpoints and convert them into a Notebook file! I will be putting up calendars starting with August in powerpoint as I update them. If you want the Notebook version, just email me ( or leave a comment and I'll send it to you. The songs Rules Rap, Days of the Week, and Macarena Months are by Dr. Jean. The font I used is Impress BT (click on the font to go to the download page).
Just click on the graphic to download the calendar.

The Rules Rap song is also a powerpoint and can be linked  to the August calendar powerpoint.
 Click on the graphic to download.

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's Almost Back to School Time

I had a meeting with our school design team yesterday. After we met I paid a visit to my room (I only meant to drop off some of my summer purchases), but found my self putting my math work station shelves back together, uncovering book bins and placing them back on their shelves. I started thinking about my class and wondering if they were reading every day and writing in their summer journals. Okay, I'm ready to get started on a new school year....

Thursday, July 14, 2011

More Bead Freebies

I didn't quite get finished with my bead activities yesterday, so here's a few more items to add to your math workstation collection. I made the bead graphics and put them in  powerpoint , you can just click on the graphic to copy. I am also working on teacher models for my workstations as well as  Math Talk cards. I made a set you can either copy for the whole class or use on a smartboard as well as a set for the box. I want the students to be as independent as possible, using anchors like the math talk cards and teacher models will help (I hope!) Hope you'll find these materials helpful.
Click on the pictures below to download activity sheets.

The pictures below are examples of patterns made with the Target beads. I found that chenille stems work really well with these beads, I cut each stem in half.

Those Target Beads

Last week I bought several packages of the beads in the Target Dollar bins. I liked them because they were smaller than the wooden stringing beads I've had for years and they were in primary colors. I've made I Can cards for beads and several different pattern cards. If you would like the bead graphics you can follow my blog and email me at Click on the pictures below for PDF files.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Buttons, Buttons

Buttons are valuable  manipulatives to have in the primary classroom. Buttons are great for counting, sorting by attributes, and making patterns. Children love buttons (and I must confess, I do too). Here's a few ideas for buttons to use at the beginning of the year or any time!

Read "The Lost Button" chapter from Frog and Toad are Friends. Have a small box of buttons with all the described buttons in the story. Pick them up as you read. After reading the story, make a list of attributes of the button that Toad was looking for. Then have students try and find the particular button Toad had lost. This activity is most effective when done with a small group. I use this activity in my math station time after introducing sorting.
Read Grandma's Button Box to class. Have students play a secret sort game by secretly selecting the attributes for a set of  buttons and then asking children in the group  to "guess the rule" by identifying the attributes.

Read A Button Muddle. Have students sort and count groups of buttons.

Read Corduroy.  Have  students brainstorm ideas about Corduroy's missing button.
Depending on the level of your class, students will choose an idea about Corduroy's button and write about it in their journals or the class can write a story together and illustrate.

Have students sort and graph small groups of buttons.

Ask students to bring in buttons to make button collages.

Staple 4 or 5 envelopes together. Give students buttons that have at least 4 or 5 different attributes. Instruct them to sort the buttons and draw or write an attribute of the button on each envelope and then place the buttons in the envelope that match that attribute. Its a great way to assess sorting skils.

This great homework activity was sent to me by my friend, Janna Smith, a kindergarten teacher from Texas.  Ask your students to select a button and write down 2 or 3 attributes of the button on an index card (parents can help with this task).  All students bring the button and the index card to school in a baggie.  Teacher gathers all buttons and reads each index card with the attributes listed.  Students use the attributes to identify the correct button. Janna says her students love this activity.  Thanks Janna!! 

Click on the picture for a set of Button Sorting Cards.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Maggie's Kinder Korner

Maggie is having her first giveaway, so go right now and visit her blog Maggie's Kinder Korner for a chance to win!

Top Ten Things To Know About Me

Mrs. Owens is having a Linky Party and at first I wasn't going to link up, but I've had so much fun reading about bloggers I follow that I've decided to participate.

1. I have the best job in the world teaching kindergarten. I've taught kindergarten for 25 years and have loved every minute of it!

2. I am a grandmother and two of my granddaughters start kindergarten this year! My other granddaughter will start preK and my grandson will be a junior in high school. (Did I mention I had three granddaughters born in a year?) All four are too precious for words!

3. My daughter is a kindergarten teacher! Two of my cousins are kindergarten teachers.

4. I have had a website Linda's Learning Links for 10 years and starting blogging a couple of years ago.

5. I love to read and usually I'm reading 3 to 4 books at one time.  I love mystery, historical fiction, educational books, biography, non fiction history (especially the Tudors, The Revolutionary War and the Civil War) and children's literature.

6. Though I love teaching, I also have a passion for history. I am currently working on a book based on letters my great great grandfather wrote during the Civil War.

7. If I could meet any historical figure I would like to meet Thomas Jefferson.

8. I love to sing, I record lots of songs for my kindergarten class using a Suzuki Q Chord and Audacity.

9. I love gingerbread men, I decorate my Christmas tree completely with gingerbread men, I collect gingerbread men and gingerbread men literature.

10. I mentor new teachers because I want their first experiences to be great ones!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Place Value Game

I found a great resource on You Tube: Teacher . Mr Smith makes lots of videos and I saw one about a game he had made for place value. It was a great idea, just not appropriate for kindergarteners. So, I decided to use his great idea and modify it for my students. In the meantime, Fran Kramer at Kindergarten Crayons had posted a great place value activity using bean sticks (I made smaller bean sticks using red beans and regular size popsicle sticks). So, using both of these great ideas I made the Tens and Ones Game. I purchased the three section tray from the Dollar Tree, made labels to put in the bottom and made dice especially for beginning place value instruction. I bought some Avery color coding labels (5472) and used the Avery template to make the labels for the wooden cubes you see in the picture. I only put 1, 2, 3 on the 10's label (twice) and 1-6 on the other cube. I went ahead and made labels 3-5 and 4-9 for later games. (It's also a great differentiation strategy). Students are to roll for 1's, then place the number of beans in the 1's section, along with the number card. They then roll for the 10's number and place the correct number of bean sticks along with the number card. They must record the number on the recording sheet. This game can be played alone or with a partner with students having to decide who has the largest number after each roll. They can draw a star by the number that's the highest with each roll and the winner will be the one with the most stars on their sheet. The instructions and recording sheets are below. If you have any questions please leave me a comment and I'll address it immediately.

Math Work Stations Chapter 7 Geometry

Here's a pattern blocks game that I made for my students last year.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Reading Rainbow

If your state subscribes to Discovery Education then you'll be as excited as I was when I saw that they now have the Reading Rainbow videos (new and old).  You have the option of downloading the whole program or segments. There are Reading Rainbow programs that had great books, but the other segments didn't relate to the unit were were involved in. I use Real Player to download my videos, it's so easy. Take a look!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A Freebie Linky Party

Lauren Morse  (Just Add Clipart) is having a Freebie Linky Party. One of the first units I do in my classroom is a nursery rhyme unit. Here are some gameboards and a ppt that I hope you'll be able to use. 

There are more ideas and downloads in my nursery rhymes unit on my website. Just click on little Miss Muffet to go to the unit.