Refresh, Rejuvenate, Revise!

Sweet summertime is upon us and it is that wonderful time of year that I have time to sit down and revisit some of the resources I use in the classroom. I take a little time to myself to refresh first....that's important! Then I tackle a couple of resources. This summer I am working hard on all of the centers I have created to go along with Reading Street. 
When I started back in kindergarten 3 years ago I was greeted with boxes and boxes of Reading Street material. Can you say overwhelming?? Well for me it was and I had to really take my time through the curriculum to figure out what worked best for me. Here is one way that I organized the small group books. Instead of keeping the low, on level, and advanced selections in separate boxes I put them all together and labeled them with file tabs. 
It made it much easier to grab the whole group each week instead of searching in 3 different places. Plus it took up a lot less room in my closet! 
All 36 weeks fit in 3 of these Sterilite bins. You get them HERE. (Affiliate link)

In addition to storing all of those materials I needed something to organize their scope and sequence with my style of teaching and create a few things for a focus wall. I started creating weekly units and it was fun, they were helpful, and my kiddos loved them. I went ahead and finished all 36 weeks and that was that! I had all of the teacher created materials I needed for centers. I put them in binders and I was good to go! 
Click on the pic to get the binder labels FREE
 Well... fast forward 3 years and I've learned a lot more about these units and have incorporated new things each time I teach a new story. I am spending my summer revamping all of these centers with bright new posters (some are staying the same but some needed a do over!) and some printer friendly objective pages because I know not everyone has access to a color printer at school (and if you are like me you might just prefer the clean look of black and white!). I am also including a craft for each week so you can send home a fun reminder of the story.

This wasn't just a cosmetic change. I also changed up a lot of the centers that maybe needed a little more....direction. Don't get me wrong, I love what I made the first time but some of them need a more hands on approach to the learning. 
 I went back and made sure I had a little book included in every story. When I first wrote these units I didn't always include a little book but those are my kiddos favorites! I know I need to make a full set each week because every single kid will pick that center! Plus it gives them a little book to put in their browsing box  and practice their sight words throughout the week. Win win! 

This is how I will be spending my summer or at least the month of June. Check back for updates and if you want to pin this for later here ya go! 

Kindergarten Writing FREEBIE

It's the end of the year and amazing things are happening in kindergarten! This week we completed our animal research projects. These kiddos blew me away! 

I wrote a blog post all about writing animal research papers in kindergarten HERE if you would like to see how I get this started. Today I will share an update on how our research papers went this year and a little freebie at the end to get you started.

I used a class set of books we received from the Kiwanis earlier in the year. I believe these are from Scholastic but I could be wrong. Each book had lots of pictures of different kinds of animals so students had choices regardless of the book they picked.

Once students got their book they went to do a little reading on their own. They picked an animal from the book and started writing. I encouraged them to draw a picture first to really get to know their animal before they decided what facts they were going to share.

 I didn't expect them to jump "write in" and start writing but they did! The class was silent as they went to work writing about their animal. Some sat around the floor to find a quiet area for their research and some build little privacy areas around themselves so they wouldn't be bothered.

A little privacy with folders and her book so she can get to work!

A quiet spot on the floor was all this one needed to get focused. 

The thing that always amazes me about these research projects is that students that rarely write a full sentence suddenly are writing pages because they are writing about something that INTERESTS them! That's what we want right? Don't get me wrong, we always have choice in our classroom when it comes to writing but this project just really inspires students to do more.

I had to have this one read to me first but once she read it I got it! ANTS! This sweetie spoke very little English when she came to school and now she is writing her very own research papers on her own. What an accomplishment!
"Ants is bug are red"
 Remember what I said about kiddos that don't write very much. They write "I like..." and are done with it on a daily basis? Well this kiddo gives me that a lot but today was totally different. Notice the phonetic copying out of the book here! He did his research and wrote what he wanted to write about his creature. Check out those finger spaces too!
Ok, now for the FREEBIE! If you would like this ALL ABOUT page just click HERE.  It also includes an All About Beavers page that I use the week prior during our Reading Street Building Beavers unit. I blogged about that HERE. It's a great way to do a group research project first before sending your kiddos out on their own.

Thanks for stopping by today! It's been a little while since I have blogged about ANYTHING and it feels good to share a little fun we've had in the classroom! We only have a few weeks left....I don't know exactly and I refuse to countdown. (#takedownthecountdown) I am enjoying every last second with my kiddos!

Best Play Dough Ever!

I make my own play dough because #1...I am cheap....and #2 It is SO MUCH BETTER! I made some tonight to go with my March Math Centers that will get us through the rest of the month and I just had to share. Here is the recipe:

I have dubbed this the best play dough recipe EVER because it was the first one I used many moons ago that didn't dry out right away. Here are the oh so easy directions:

3 cups of flour, 1 1/2 cups salt, 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon Cream of Tarter and 3 cups of water in a sauce pan. I just dump it all in right on the stove:
The secret to this play dough is the Cream of Tarter. I've used other recipes without it (and tried to substitute) and it is just NOT the same!
Don't leave it out! 
Put on medium heat and start to stir. I added my food coloring right away this time. It worked out great! It will be pretty saucy at first...
I stir the whole time because the action happens fast...
It starts to form as dough and gets really hard to stir...
And there you go! It's ready to knead...(this is the best part!)

Need some sensory therapy? Kneading warm play dough is a great form of therapy!

It took me about 5 minutes start to finish. Ok...maybe 10. At one point my husband came through the kitchen all surprised because I was cooking but he was super disappointed when he saw my green concoction. In hind sight maybe I should cook for him more often :)

So this will last us for months...if we keep it that long. I actually throw it out after about a month just because of germs.

We are using this playdough to make 3D shapes this month. I realized the last time we went through testing that we are really needing some work with cylinders, spheres, cubes, and cones. Students will be using the play dough to make the shapes.

This activity is available in my March Math Centers and I included it in April's set too! Here is an image to pin for later or click on it to see the set in my store. :)

Thanks for stopping by today! You still have time to make some play dough for tomorrow! Get to it!