Kinder Bites: Quick Mini Lessons for December

This week will be a quick share of some quick mini lessons for December! 
Do you ever struggle with integrating the fun books you want to use for the holidays while meeting your comprehension needs with a reading series? And how long can your kids sit still? 3 minutes? 5 minutes? Here are some QUICK (that's the theme for this post!) mini lessons to use in between your regularly scheduled programming! :) 

I wrote up a few of my favorite books and some fun ways to integrate comprehension with them in this Kinder Bite activity. Here is a sneak peak...
 6 quick and easy little mini lessons for the month. I am going to keep putting these together for my favorite books so stayed tuned for more! 

Happy December! 

Jack & the Beanstalk Activities and a FREEBIE

We are in our final week of our How the World Works unit and this week our story from Reading Street is Jack & the Beanstalk. It's such a fun week to explore plants, wrap up our investigations on life cycles, and explore some make-believe fiction! 

Sprouting a Lima bean: 
It seems like a strange time of the year to be doing this but who could resist sprouting a bean stalk while reading Jack & the Beanstalk? And they are so easy to do! Here is a quick overview: 

1. Soak your lima beans overnight the night before you want to use them. 
2. Have students wet a paper towel and place the bean on the paper towel. 
3. Place the paper towel in a plastic bag. 
4. Hang in the window. 

You can add these cute Jack & the Beanstalk castles to display them in the window. This is available in this Jack & the Beanstalk unit.  To prepare the beans is pretty easy so this adds a little to the lesson by having them color the castle, cut out the door, and add it to the bag. 

Another great resource I found is this YouTube video of a bean sprouting. It's really cool! 

Parts of a Plant: 
To finish up our life cycle unit we are giving a summative assessment this week about the parts of a plant. I will use this to add to their portfolio. I am still searching for a great summative that would include more choice on the student's part. This will close out the unit nicely though. 
This is the freebie file! Download it HERE.

If sprouting Lima beans wasn't enough for science we are starting our FOSS kit "Trees". This will involve some nature "hikes" to the playground this week to check out the changing trees in our area and make some observations about what happens to trees in the winter. We have some nice pine trees right outside our playground fence that will make a good topic for discussion and a little compare/contrast with the trees out front that are in the middle of losing their leaves. (yes...our trees still have leaves on them!) 

Literacy Centers: 
We have so many options this week for centers!  

The letter of the week this week in this Reading Street unit is the letter Ii (for the second week). We will continue to work on not only the initial sound /i/ but also the medial sound /i/. 

Here are a few of the options in the unit. 
Upper/lowercase sort
Upper/lowercase Letter Sort

Letter Search and Color
Upper/lowercase letter search. 

Word Search Middle /i/ words
This is new this week and will be their first
time with a word search.

Write the Room
Write the room includes a spot to draw a picture of yourself
with one of the words on the wall. This week focus on middle /i/ words.

Rhyme Time
Rhyme Time includes a rhyming sheet. Students use bingo chips to match up rhyming words then they complete the cut and glue.  
We also have a fun listening station available with a response sheet about reality vs. make-believe. And of course all of our small groups happening this week with a full rotation finally in place. These centers keep them engaged for about 15 minutes while I make my way through groups. We are 12 weeks into school and I can finally say it's working just the way I want it to! Perfection takes time (wink, wink).

Jack & the Beanstalk is one of my favorite weeks with Reading Street so I am looking forward to all of the activities we have planned. Do you have any special activities you do with this book? I'd love to hear from you! 

Pin for later! 

September Means Apple Time! FREEBIE included

Those first 3 weeks of school FLEW by and here we are in September. That means APPLES! I spent a little time in my classroom today getting my math tubs ready and they are so beautiful and organized. I had to take pictures (that's what an empty nester does, take pictures of their math activities....sigh) 

So far our math tubs have been just a mix of materials to get to know the procedures. We now know how to use them and follow these simple rules: 

1. Get one math tub and keep the same one the whole time. 

2. Use a rug to keep all of your materials in one place. (I get my rugs from carpet stores. They will usually give you their old samples)

3. If all the tubs are taken, go join a partner (ask nicely to be their partner). 

4. Work quietly. 

5. Clean up quickly. 

That seems pretty simple right? It takes a little bit to get the procedure down but we are ready now! 

Here is a picture of the tubs. They are the red dishpans from Walmart. I bought them a little bit at a time so the $2 bucks a piece didn't sting as much as it had to. I have about 25 of these in my classroom and use them for all sorts of things. I like that they are large and any type of material will fit in them. I change out the numbers on them every year to keep them fresh and new. (I used Mod Podge to stick them on). 

A simple game of compare turned hands on fun by adding blocks. 

This tub has two purposes: Putting the numbers in order and writing the numerals. 

I put these write the room cards on a ring instead of hanging them around the room. 

Count and Clip: September Math Centers
Count and Clip. My students love the clothes pin activities this year! 

Number Puzzles: September Math Centers
This one is my favorite. Number Puzzles! 

Great fine motor and counting work!
This was inspired by an activity I saw my daughter doing at her preschool 18 years ago. I changed it up and added pom poms to pick up with tweezers after I took this picture. Great fine motor and counting work! 
Simple 10 frames with pony beads to build fine motor skills.
Simple 10 frames with pony beads. Again, fine motor and counting practice. 

Each activity appears once or twice to fill the 12 math tubs that I have available. I have 24 students so it makes for perfect pairs when math tub time comes. Usually they go to these activities after we have completed math journals. It's a short 5-10 minute activity time at the end of our math block (and always in my back pocket in case we have extra time!)

Save yourself time tip......
Yes I took these pictures so I could blog about this today but I REALLY took the pictures for my kiddos. I will print out each one of these pictures and put them in the matching bin. Instead of spending 10 minutes explaining each activity I can give them a quick run down and then they can follow the directions by looking at the picture. If they aren't using materials correctly (yes...that happens) they have to go sit down. The pictures give a clear expectation of what the activity should look like when they are done. 

Here is a link to all of the activities (and even more). See it in my TPT store by clicking HERE. There are quite a few activities that I haven't set up and a really fun 100's chart included too. I turned that into a FREEBIE if you want to try it out. 

Classroom Water Bottles

This has been an issue for me. I NEED my kiddos to be hydrated but the bottles from home can be a struggle. Some are too big, some are too drippy, some are too small and break easily (sounds like the three little one is ever happy!). So this year I decided I would take control and handle the water bottle situation so #1 everyone had one and #2 everyone had one that was the appropriate size. I thought this would be so easy but let me tell's been a journey.

I started the first 3 weeks with the little sized disposable bottles. I just replaced them every week. Well....last week I decided enough was enough. I needed a permanent solution.

Enter Dollar Store...

My fears? They will break, they will spill, they will be hard to handle. I've been reassured from all of the blogs I have read that this works so I'm giving it a go. We won't know until we try! Here are the bottles I purchased and put name tags on today.

Aren't they cute? I had to mix up the colors because I couldn't get all of them the same color (bummer). The mix is kind of fun though! Pink and purple for the girls and green and blue for the boys.  The nametags are simple clear shipping labels from Avery. Here is my affiliate link to the ones I used.

Thanks for stopping in! I will let you know how this goes! 

What Are You Teaching? August 27

Just spent 6 hours in my classroom.....

Don't feel prepared.....

Welcome to the beginning of kindergarten!

Actually I do feel prepared, I just know there are a million things I would LIKE to do but we are not READY to do yet. It's hard to set your pace slow in order to get all of those procedures in place so we can FLY later. Patience is a virtue...patience is a virtue...

Here is what IS in the plans this week: 
Our word work this week is still focused on our letter of the week and new sight words.
Reading: This week we are adding in Read to Someone. I didn't really put that on the visual plans but we will use our group decodables and Reading Street Skills Buddy to introduce that routine. 

Centers: I am using centers from this Alphabet Centers unit I created last year when I had a few students who really struggled with alphabet recognition. They are still class favorites! 

Reading Street: Our RS unit this week is Plaidypus Lost. We have a really fun platypus to make at the end of the week that I am excited about. I am incorporating centers form this unit (click HERE) and using the book and Vocabulary Talks I created to introduce the Amazing Words. 

Writer's Workshop: This week we are talking all about tools! Here are the books we are reading to talk about how to use our crayons correctly, when to use a pencil, and how to care for materials. (these are affiliate links) 

Math: We are continuing on our Math in Focus journey. I am really enjoying this curriculum. It feels a little slow right now but thank heavens for that! We hardly have time to make it through our day so I am ok with a little slow routine building. A lot of talk about same/different and a whole lot of discovery with the numbers 1-5. I like that solid foundation. It has a fantastic calendar component as well and I am starting to get a good handle on that. Phew!  

Unit of Study: Alphabet  Our unit of study will become our social studies/science time once we are all done introducing the alphabet. For now every afternoon we use these activities to help us #1 introduce the alphabet and #2 introduce activities like cutting, gluing, listening to directions, coloring (properly) and writing. 
This week we are completing the letter H and I. That's all I could fit in! We will step it up with a couple more pages next week! 

That is our week. No eclipse this week, no days off to take my baby to college (I left that part out....this was me on Thursday)
We are smiling but we were both super nervous and ready to cry on the inside. She is doing great and starts classes tomorrow. I am so excited for her! 

So that being said....I am excited for a regular week! Have a good one!  

Fine Motor Success

Do you ever read a blog post and then just think.....oh man, I need to do that!

Yeah, me too.

All the time! 

I am an avid blog hopper and today's success is all thanks to Marsha at A Differentiated Kindergarten. You can read her post that inspired me HERE. It's all about fine motor morning work. 

I read her post some time last year and thought to myself I should put those together because they would be great. forward a year later and I finally got around to it! I am kicking myself because they are so awesome!  I followed her directions almost exactly to set up my fine motor drawers. Right down to the drawers I purchased at Walmart. I had most of what I needed from scrapbooking, craft time, and just random things I have saved over the years. I went to the Dollar Store and bought about $13.00 worth of materials to get started and I bought the bins at Walmart for about $56.00. That was the priciest part of the project. 

The idea of fine motor morning work is to get kiddos working with their hands to build those muscles. This was success and totally worth the money.  
Small beads and tweezers to build letters. 

Straws and scissors. Building those skills! 

Hole punches from my scrap booking days. 

$1 playdough set from the Dollar Tree. Win! 

We are working these in after our initial morning work every morning. As soon as they finish they are able to go to their bin and get to work. It is making our morning routine a super productive time!

Here is an example of the morning work we use each day. You can see it in my store HERE
Right now they are all about introducing the alphabet and building routines. Later we introduce sight words, grammar skills, and sentence writing. 

Thanks for stopping in today! Again, check out A Differentiated Kindergarten for more great ideas for fine motor bins! 

What are you teaching? August 21

It's here! Eclipse week! Are you ready? Are you in school? We are and we are doing all kinds of fun stuff but we aren't allowed to go outside unless we have approved glasses (I couldn't get my hands on any). So we will be live streaming from the classroom and doing a lot of activities. I'm excited! I hope it's not too overcast tomorrow! 

Here are our visual plans for the week: 
Lots of fun stuff this week! Here is a QUICK run down (it's my bedtime!) 

Morning Work: Unit 1, Week 2. We are building routines! After morning work this week they will go to a fine motor bin with a partner. This is my first time using these so I will let you know how that goes! 

Read to Self: We will be using our curriculum pieces during our Read to Self time this week as we build stamina. We are up to about 5 minutes of undisturbed reading time. That's amazing!!  Our story of the week is We Are So Proud. 

I am also using a new product I created this summer to introduce our amazing words and vocabulary for the week. They are VOCABULARY TALK CARDS that get the students talking about the vocabulary by looking at pictures. I did these last week with our story and I LOVED the conversations I heard during this lesson. Here is a little peek: 
They pointed and talked about the pictures and then we got together and introduced the words each picture showed. I always struggle with new ways to introduce vocabulary to little ones, rather than just telling them. This was perfect! 

Writer's Workshop: In WW this week we will be introducing our notebooks. Students will get a bright shiny new notebook on Tuesday and we will talk about taking care of it all week. We are reading a lot of my favorite stories this week! 

Math: Math is going great with Math in Focus. I am very excited about this new curriculum. It has been easy to implement and provides a lot of opportunity for rich math conversation in the classroom. 

Alphabet Book: This week we will complete the E (elephant), F (fish), G (gumball), and H (Hippo) pages. 

Thanks for stopping in today! Have fun where ever you are tomorrow watching the eclipse...or not...sorry if you are out of the viewing area :( 

What Are You Teaching? August 14

It feels like FOREVER since I've done a What Are You Teaching? post. It feels good to be back in school! Here we go for week 1 of a brand new school year!

I made a quick visual lesson plan so you can see all of the activities and books I am reading this week to introduce Daily 5 and Writer's Workshop this week. I'll follow with links and ideas.

Morning Work: 
After our morning meeting students go to their seat and complete this morning work.

This is the 5 minutes a day I check their home/school folders, take attendance, and put out fires (aka help fix bad moods). I also use these to introduce the alphabet the first six weeks of school. We introduce the page and then students can work for a few minutes independently (baby steps!). When they are done they raise their hand (great procedure to get in place day 1) and I come by to check their work (include a little praise) and then they get to go to a fine motor station until every is done. I'm going to blog about my fine motor stations later this week, I'm still setting those up!

Read to Self:
This week we are introducing Read to Self by reading wordless books together. This week my job is to convince them that they are already readers! I think our first couple of days last week gave them a good start but I really want to hit it home this week. Here are some affiliate links to the books we will be reading this week. I blogged about how I use these HERE. This is truly one of my favorite lessons to teach in Kindergarten!  

Daily 5 Word Work Station:
We will introduce the simplest of centers this week to get our routine down. I add pictures to our center boxes so students can see exactly what they need to do in the center. I also include a white board and a dry erase marker so they can write the alphabet if they finish early. Here are a couple of examples of the pictures. All of our centers are just gobs and gobs of letter practice. 
 You can get this center HERE along with  some other great letter recognition activities. 

Reading Street: 
Our first story is The Little School Bus. I'm excited about our centers because I spent most of June revamping them. I made new activities to go with each story and some crafts too. We start pretty simply with some letter naming activities for A,B,C,D, and E, a little rhyming activity and a comprehension page to introduce character. Later in the week we will do the school bus activity shown here: 
You can see this unit in my TPT shop HERE.

Writer's Workshop: 
This week we will be introducing the very beginning steps of Writer's Workshop. I will read Look! Look! Look! to get them looking at ME while we are at the rug. It's a great book for that! The next couple of days we read Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa Partners to talk about how we sit with our partner and share our story before we go back to our seats. I also read Too Much Noise, one of my all time favorites because it is really good for group participation. 

I am really excited to start our new curriculum Math in Focus. I help pilot it last year and our district just adopted it. It's really nice to get a fresh new box of learning materials and this one is especially good because it's not super overwhelming! 2 Teacher manuals, 2 big books, and some work books. It's very hands on and incorporates a lot of collaborative learning. I can't wait to see where it takes us! 

With any math curriculum you still need that handwriting practice in kindergarten. We will be using Daily Math Review as our warm up (or cool down) in between activities. It includes a lot of writing instruction for the numbers 0-5 in the beginning and then moves on to 6-10 and beyond. It also gives students a chance to count and solve problems in an easy 5 question format. 

Phew.....almost done! 

Unit of Study: Alphabet
Our unit of study will become our social studies/science time once we are all done introducing the alphabet. For now every afternoon we use these activities to help us #1 introduce the alphabet and #2 introduce activities like cutting, gluing, listening to directions, coloring (properly) and writing. 
This week we are completing the pages for C,D,E, and F. 

That is our week! We had 2 1/2 days last week that were mainly just a mix of trying to sit at the rug and taking bathroom breaks. If we can get more than that done this week we will be winning!