Saturday, July 28, 2012

Literacy Centers: Smartboard

One of the students' favorite centers is the smartboard center!!  They cannot wait to get their hands on the smartboard!  I have found so many great games on Smart Notebook software and on the internet.  Right now I have a lump in my throat saying that because on Thursday I turned on my school laptop and everything I have ever made or saved was gone (including every document and every smartboard lesson I have ever made)!  I have contacted our tech team at the district and they have told me that they can fix it but I am still in a panic because even my Favorites on Internet Explorer are gone and I had over 100 sites saved!  I am hoping and praying that on Monday when I go back to summer school it is fixed!

Anyway, I will try to put that our of my mind and talk about the smartboard center.   I have two or three children in each group during center time.  When they come to the smartboard they stand in a line and take turns.  I either have a lesson that I have created or downloaded to Smart Notebook or I have the children play a game from the internet. 

Here is an example of a game that I found on Learning Planet.  It is called ABC Order.  There are a couple other games that I use from this website and you can go to the home page and click on different grade levels to find more challenging games or easier games depending on the level of the group of students. Here is a small list of websites that I use for this center:

Here is a game that I created using a template in the Smart Notebook Lesson Gallery.  You can use the templates that are already in there and tailor it to the needs of your class.  I programmed this game with the sight words that we had learned so far.  In this game the word is shown on the board and then the students have to find each letter in the grid to make the word.

If you have a smartboard you can go to Smart Exchange and find lessons that other teachers have already created and you can download them to your computer.

I have found that this center really needs a lot of modeling!  the children have a hard time understanding that only one person can touch the board at a time (as you can see in the picture).  They also need to know what to do if they touch something and it closes the game.  I have explained to my students that if this happens they all sit on the floor and raise their hands and I will be there as soon as I can.  Some students think that they can fix it and it usually ends up worse so sitting on the floor helps them to not touch anything else.

Do you have a smartboard in your classroom?
If so do you use it during centers and what kinds of activities/websites do you use?
Saturday, July 21, 2012

Literacy Centers: Sand Table??

I know what your thinking, that the sand table is not really a literacy center.  Well, I have turned it into one.  At my school we all have sand tables in our rooms.  When I first started teaching I used it mostly for science during my centers.  Then when we went to full day and had time for a separate science time I started using the top of the sand table (with the lid on) as another area to add a literacy game or activity.  It is a great place to do play doh because kids like to stand while they are kneading the dough.  Here is an example of one of the play doh activities that we do:

These boys are rolling the play doh to make the names of the animals from Mrs. Wishy-Washy and then they are using the cookie cutters to make the animal to go into the tub.  I found these mats at Making Learning Fun.  I do a lot of play doh activities here such as; play doh names, and play doh letter trays.

When you take the lid off the inside is filled with beans.  I use these beans to hide letters or objects.  In this picture the girls have styrofoam trays that have sight words written on them and they have to search through the beans to find the letters they need to make the word that they have.

Sometimes I have cups with letters written on them and the students have to find objects in the beans that start with the letter they have written on their cup. 

I have so many literacy games that I do not always have time to put them at another center so they end up at the sand table.  Here is another game that the children love to play called "Guess the Letter".  You can find out more about this in a previous post HERE.

Do you have a sand table in your room?
What kind of activities do you do with your sand table?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Smartboard Number Id. Freebie

I have posted a new smartboard lesson at my Tpt store.  I created this because one of the math concepts that we work on right away in kindergarten is number identification 0-5.  Since our first theme is bears I used teddy bears to work on this concept.  If you have downloaded any of my other smartboard lessons it is just like "Find The Candy Corn" game except it has honey pots and the bears are hidden behind one.  The honey pots have numbers on them and the student that you call on has to say the numberr, touch it and see if they found the teddy  bear.  On each slide the teddy bear is hidden behind a differnent number so you can play the game over and over.   CLICK HERE TO GO TO TPT and download for free!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Count The Days!

I originally posted this in January but I accidentally deleted this post when I was trying to edit it...I tried to undo it but the steps involved were way over my head so I thought it would be easier to just redo the post.  So if you already saw this don't think that I forgot I posted it, I am redoing it.  Who knows I might even say something better this time:)

This year I decided to change the way I keep track of how many days we have been in school.  I got this idea from Debbie Diller.  Each day we added one post-it to the wall.  Obviously, as we started a new row we changed the color to make it easier to see the different groups of ten.  When we got to one hundred I stopped adding post-its and used the straws in the cups to help us count on.  When we had completed our hundred chart I was able to play a game that the children loved.  Before the kids came in I would take off a few numbers and when they arrived they would have to tell me which numbers were missing and how they figured it out.  They loved this!  

Here is a picture of what the whole calendar area looked like.  There is a little more on the whiteboard next to the calendar board.  I have some calendar numbers mixed up on there and come coins that we were reviewing.

Our main focus during calendar time is math (not days of the week, months, birthdays,etc.) so we not only use the post-its to count the days we also use the straws in the cups for place value and this year I started using ten frames with bingo dabbers.

This was the 100th day of school so all of the straws are in the hundreds cup.  I have a blank ten frame up for the next day and the ten frames that have been filled in are on a ring so each day we can count by tens and then add the ones to see how many days we have been in school.  I also have a monthly cut out (you can see it in the second picture it is the large snowflake next to the hundred chart of post-its) where we make tally marks for each day.  There are so many different ways to count the days and I want my students to understand that you can use different methods to get the same answer.  I think certain kids click with certain methods too. 

Last year our district moved away from the typical calendar time because they felt that many of the things that we did during that time were not in the new common core standards.  At first this was hard for me because I am so used to doing calendar time.  I decided that I was not going to get rid of it entirely.  I did take out some of the things that I did before like, singing the days of the week, months, birthdays, the pattern on the calendar and yesterday, today, tomorrow.  I do think that the children learn a lot from calendar time but I understand their concerns so I changed it a little.  The students love this time of the day!
Saturday, July 14, 2012

Literacy Centers: Big Book Center (and Magic Windows)

I really like the Big Book Center!  In this picture the children are pointing to the letters and words as they sing the alphabet in a big book.  After they point and sing they are supposed to take letters written on small post-its and match them to the letters in the book.  As you can see the boy is looking at the chair that is close by this is where they put the board that had all of the post-its.  When they are done they will take all of the post-its off and put them back on the board for the next group to use.  I have many different kinds of pointers that the kids can choose from (changing them periodically helps to liven up the center).

All of the big books that I use in this center are books that we have read in whole group the week before.  We also practice the activity that they will do so that they know exactly how to do it on their own.  Here are some of the activities that we do in the Big Book Center:

  • Read the book together (at the same time) while one person points and then do it again and the other person points
  •  Share reading, one child points to and reads one page and another child points to and reads the next page
  • Find the word - I put post-its at the end of the book with words from the text and they have to go back and find them, put the post-it on top of the word and read the sentence
  • Use highlighter tape to highlight sight words we are working on
  • I model this activity from Shari Sloane for a while before I have the students do it independently
  • With a highly predictable book the students can add a sentence to go with the book
  • Sentence builder - I have 2 or 3 sentences from the book cut up and the students have to put it back together and find the matching page in the book
I have many different kinds of pointers but the ones that I use most are so easy to make on your own and you can change them for each theme or season.  First, I buy wooden dowels from Michaels (don't forget to use your 15% teacher discount).  They have them in different sizes and it was so long ago when I bought mine (they hold up forever) that I cannot quite remember.  Then you buy erasers (the kind that fit on the end of a pencil) in whatever shape or design that you want.  You may want to buy the erasers first so that you can take them with you to see which dowel they fit on the best.  I don't glue the erasers on because I like to change them with each theme.  I wish I had a picture to show you but I cannot get into my classroom right now.  

Magic Windows:

Another thing that the students use in the Big Book Center are "Magic Windows".  I just take a junk mail envelope that has the clear little plastic window over your address and cut it into a little wand with a handle.

When a child holds this up to their eye and tries to look through it everything is all blurry but when you put it right up against a word you can see it clearly so that is why we call it the "Magic Window".  I didn't think these would last very long since they are only made out of thin paper but I have had mine for several years.  A very cheap tool to help the students find words and read them!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Literacy Centers: Star Center and Freebie

As school is fast approaching (only one more week and I start summer school, yikes) I have been reviewing my literacy centers and trying to decide how to condense things into my new half day schedule.  I decided to share with you each literacy center that I will be keeping this year.  The first center is my "Star" center.  I call it that because it is a center that focuses only on sight words, which I call star words in my class.  It really does not take up a lot of room, I use the back of a book shelf for this center.  I use velcro to post the star word that we will focus on each week.  the materials vary so I just put put the materials needed for each week's activity.  In this picture the boys are playing star word tic-tac-toe.  It is played just like the original game, they have to get three of their words in order.  I gave each boy 6 pumpkins, one boy's pumpkins all said 'go' and the other boy's pumpkins all said 'like'.   The light was shining off the letter 'g' in this picture but the star word is 'go'.

Some other activities we do here are:
  • Mix and Fix - use magnetic letters to make the word, mix up the letters and then fix the word and read it (they do this 5 times) 
  • Practice writing the word on a whiteboard
  • Practice on magna doodles
  • Roll and color star word papers
  • Make star word hats and necklaces from Fran Kramer's product: Sight Words to Rock Your Room (on Tpt) This packet has so many great activities!!
  • Make words using wikki stix
  • Write words in salt trays and gel bags
  • I also use some of the activities from Shari Sloane's site Kidscount1234  (look under Literacy Centers, my students love the Telephone Game and the Word Tower!).

If you want to play the tic-tac-toe game click HERE to download some stars with star words on them ( I put on the first four words introduced in Reading Street).  It is a Word document so you can change the words to whatever works for you.  In the picture I just used store bought cut outs of pumpkins.  To play tic-tac-toe you only need two different words (of course, just like X and O) but you will need 6 of each word.

Do you have a similar center in your room?
If so, what kind of activities do you do there?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Shout Out!

I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by two great bloggers!  The first one is Kinderdi.


And the second one is Cindy from Blog Stalker.  It was so nice of them to nominate me!!  But since I have received this award before I thought I would just give a shout out to them!  Thanks ladies!!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Videos of Great Ideas!

I have visited the website, Child Care Land, before but I didn't realize that they have so many teacher tip videos!  I found them on youtube one day but now I realized that they also have all of the videos on the website too!  If you visit the site make sure you check out all of the free printables! There are so many videos so I thought I would just pick a few to show you.

I don't know about you but sometimes seeing someone demonstrate an idea helps me to understand it so much better!

I found another one I love, I could post these all day!  You have got to check out these ideas!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Keep those Envelopes!


Do you get lots of junk mail everyday asking you to open a credit card or something?  Well I do and I throw out (or shred) most of it but I do keep the return envelopes that are inside.  I use these in my writing center and the kids love them!!  When we start talking about writing letters to friends or family the students go through these like they are water!  Good thing I have several people on the collecting job now.  My mom collects them for me, former parents collect them and every year I get at least one or two parents who will consistently send them in.  The students think that they are really mailing something when they put them in an "official" envelope.  I tell them that they have to have a note or letter inside (not just one scribble on a piece of paper) and they have to write the name of the person they are giving it to on the outside.  During our community helper unit I put out a mailbox (the old kind that we used to have in our yards) and they love it! Then one child gets to be the letter carrier at the end of the day and deliver the mail.  It is so cute!
Monday, July 2, 2012

Half-Day Schedule...yikes!

The last 5 years I have taught full day kindergarten so this was a challenge to think about!  Before I taught full day I taught half day for a while but for some reason my brain refuses to remember how I fit it all in.  Actually, the demands on kindergarten have increased and the expectations are higher, but I know that it can be done and done well because I know many teachers who do it.  I am determined to help my students achieve just as much as full day students!! Here is what we have come up with for our half-day schedule this year.

8:45-8:50 - Sign-in, announcements, question of the day
8:50-9:10 - Whole group math lesson
9:10-9:35 - Math Stations
9:35-9:45 - Phonemic Awareness/Phonics Focus
9:45-10:05 - Writing Workshop (modeled write to and independent writing)
10:05-10:20 - Read Aloud/Literature Focus
10:20-11:00 - Literacy Centers
11:00-11:15 - Predictable Chart/ Big Book
11:15-11:30 - Songs/Closure

Obviously this will be the same as above but we start at 12:45 and dismiss at 3:30.

I know what you are thinking, how in the world can you do sign-in, announcements and question of the day in 5 minutes!  I probably cannot but, we plan on lining up a few minutes early in the morning and when they do come in the announcements are usually going (kinders have such a hard time understanding what they are talking about) while we are signing in and then as soon as they are finished signing their name they can go to the pocketchart and answer the question of the day on their own.  I know that at first this will take longer than 5 minutes but hopefully they will get better at it and become quicker.

The whole group math lesson usually consists of a book that helps to support the math concept, number talks and/or a whole group game.  I think that I will read a math book Mon. and Wed. and do number talks Tues. and Thurs..  Fridays are different because I generally do not do literacy centers on that day so I can use them to cover a math topic that we need more work on or allow the kids some choice time (art, blocks, games) that they usually do not get to do.

On top of changing to half-day this year we are also starting a new reading program (Scott Foresman Reading Street) so I am also trying to fit in the most important components.  I think that during the read aloud time I will introduce the focus wall for the week with the amazing words (new vocabulary) and sight words for the week.  Hopefully, this will take the longest on Mondays and the rest of the week we can just review the focus wall so I have time to introduce story elements too.

I will pull small groups during literacy centers (once the are established) and I am going to try to fit 3 rotations in.  I don't have an exact amount of time that I have the students stay at each center I usually play it by ear but most of the time they are between 10 and 15 minutes.

I really like to use predictable charts and big books to reinforce sight words and reading strategies.  I do a predictable chart one week and the next week I read one big book for the whole week.  I follow the routine laid out in:

This is a great resource and I used to keep it very close, until I had it memorized!  There is also a book just for the predictable charts:
Basically, I dictate a sentence from each student (it contains the word(s) we are working on) and the child signs his/her name at the end of the sentence.  After we are done with the chart and the activities that go along with it we cut the sentences apart and glue them to a paper so that each child can illustrate his/her page and then we compile all of the pages and make a class book.  The first two words introduced in our reading series are I and am so our first predictable chart will be  "I am _____________."  Each child will complete the sentence by adding his/her name.  Very simple but perfect for the first week of school!  I set aside 15 minutes for this each day which is perfect because you break it down into segments so the kids do not become too antsy!

We have our lunch and prep back to back from 11:30-12:45.  We have never had specials (not even when we were full day) and I am not sure when we can fit in a recess.  The morning students are allowed on campus 15 minutes before school starts so they will get to go on the playground before school but, the afternoon students do not get that so I really need to figure out how to get them outside for a little bit.  I think that recess time is really important!  Maybe as time goes I will discover how to sneak it in.

If you can think of something that I have left out please let me know!  Whew!!  I am tired just thinking about this:)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Activities for Glass Gems

I bought some gems (glass marbles with flat bottoms) at the Dollar Tree the other day and I was looking for something I could do with them besides just counting or sorting.  I found some one-to-one activities at Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She has so many great ideas and there are a lot of freebies too!  I will be using these to help my students at the beginning of the year match the objects to the correct number.  It will be a perfect beginning of the year math station!  Just click on the link to Erica's blog and it will take you to the page that has these (and other) great resources.

I also found a sight word activity using gems at Mrs. Bremer's K.  This is a really cute idea!!

I found more one-to-one ideas at Pre-K and K Sharing.
I like the idea of using the tongs to move the gems.  Not only are they working on a math skill but they are also working on fine motor skills.  The paper with the flower came from a free packet on Our Little Monkeys.

More pages similar to that one can be found on  Making Learning Fun Magnet Pages.  They are designed to be used with flat, round magnets but I think that the glass gems would work well too!  I found one for every letter of the alphabet and the numbers 1-10.  I also found pages for Brown Bear, Brown Bear What So You See by Eric Carle. Just click on the link below the picture to go to that page.  I love the website Making Learning Fun!!

Now I want to go to a dollar store and buy more gems in all different colors to match the pictures!!
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