KinderGals: June 2015

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Building a Reading and Writing Classroom and a FREE Game

Conferences are so much more than PD. It's a great way to connect to our fellow teachers while getting that motivation to teach another day! I love presenting to teachers. Here are a few ideas from some of the sessions I present. Be sure and read all the way to the bottom where I have added a FREE file to get you motivated!
Encouraging Little Ones to Write: Center Projects that Motivate and Inspire
In this session I share lots of fun crafty type projects that will get your kids writing. I also share some easy no prep writing centers. I love this idea we did when we were doing the book “I Know an Old Lady”. After making the cute craft Old Lady, the children pick a sticker or clip art picture of an insect. Then, we glued it inside her mouth. Now, the children write clues to see if you can guess which insect is in her mouth. Writing clues is a great way to work on descriptive language.
Reader’s Workshop: A Celebration of Independence
Getting things started are often the hardest part. Like what do you do when they first come to school in the fall?  At the beginning of the year I want to set the kids up for success!  I want all of our kids to see themselves as readers. this anchor chart teachers our kids that we can read in different ways.   This anchor chart is used over 3 different lessons!
Wacky Wonderful World of Words Mini Lessons
When do you start teaching the reading strategies? What order should they be taught? Well, those are just a few of the questions we ask ourselves. For one thing, we start early with just a few strategies. Practice them for a few months, and add in a few more. In the spring, we add the most challenging strategies while maintaining the others. This is the first anchor chart we use to teach strategies. Very simple and easy to practice!
Start off on the Right Foot: The First 30 Days
Develop a home-school connection with this simple idea. Take pictures of all of your kids with their family at Open House or Meet and Greet. Then, get cheap frames from the Dollar Store. Display the photos on a shelf for everyone to see! Parents love it! They feel like a part of the class, and they are very impressed!
Number Line Mystery Free File
And here is the freebee for today. This is a great way to develop number sense and where numbers are in relation to each other. 
Want more ideas for this game? Here is a blog post just about this game!

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Games, Songs, and Charts AND a FREE Game!

Conferences are a great way to get that "shot in the arm"! At conferences, it isn't always about learning something new. It could be a time of rejuvenation. Or, it could be a time of validation.  Whatever the reason, conferences are a great way to connect to our fellow teachers.  Here is a glimpse into some of the sessions that I present. Be sure and read all the way to the bottom of this post where you will find a free file just for you!
Games and More
 We all love to play games. BUT….sometimes we spend more time teaching the game instead of practicing the standard. In this session I am sharing some simple games! PLUS these games are easily adapted just by changing the clip art! That way, the kids know how to play the game, just a new set of clip art! After reading Marcia Tate’s Worksheets Don’t Grow Dendrites, it affirmed what a feel about games---they make the kids SMARTER! Be sure and read all the way to the bottom to grab a FREE syllable sorting game.
If you want to know more about the different types of games, here is a blog post about literacy games. It has a FREE file, too!
And here is a blog post about math games. AND another FREE file in this blog post!
Phonemic Fun
 In this session I share many ideas of how to develop phonemically aware kids! One of the best ways….music! Again, I can go back to Marcia’s book. Another way she says children develop brain power is through music. You can read more about that in this blog post. Two of my favorite musicians….Shari Sloane and Jack Hartmann.
You can find Shari's Vowel Bat song on iTunes. You can grab the book here. My dear husband made me these great bat capes for the kids to wear as we sing the song! BIG HIT!
How exciting to have a teacher send me this picture of her class all dressed up for Halloween! I loved it!
vowel bat
Informational Writing
You know how kids always have something they want to tell you? Have you ever said, “Why don’t you go write about that?” But, they really don’t seem interested? Maybe it’s because they really just want to talk to you! So, let them talk. Here’s how you can remember that good topic for when they are READY to write about it. 
  • When they tell you a great story, write the topic under their name.
  • Then, when you hear the dreaded words, “I don’t know what to write about.”
  • You can refer to the chart for an idea they shared with you earlier.
This idea is from my friend Michele. I have such smart friends!
Fitting it All In
 Here is a great way to teach questioning, features of non-fiction text, and science or social studies standards.
  • Take a big book that is related to the science or social studies standards you are teaching.
  • Cover the text with pieces of copy paper using sticky putty.
  • Now, show the page to your kids and say, “In non-fiction text authors are trying to answer our questions. Let’s look at the photographs and think about what the author is going to teach us on this page.”
  • After a discussion, help the kids form a question.
  • Write the question on the piece of paper.
  • On another day, read the question again to the kids. Now remove it from the book and read the text. Say, “Does the author answer our question? Did he answer other questions?”
And now for the Freebee….Here is a fun game for working on syllables.  Invite the children to sort the pictures onto the tables for 1 or 2 syllables.  If they are ready, they can also stretch the words as they write them on the recording page.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

3 GOOD Reasons Why I Haven’t Blogged In a Month…

Do you ever wonder how some people do it all? How is it that they can have the best blog, be a fabulous teacher, their house looks like something out of a magazine, their kids are involved in every activity under the sun, they are always well dressed and “put together” and….all of them at the same time?  I am in awe of them! I can be pretty good at most of those things…but not all at the same time. So…. The number one reason that I didn’t blog in May….I was trying to concentrate on the “Home Front.”

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So look who turned one! Can you believe it? Megan, Ginny and I had a great time planning the party! Brody had a Camping Themed party. Tyler made the tent from a sheet and pvc pipe. It was a great place for the kids to have their photographs taken!


Tyler also made this “Watering Hole” stand from an old pallet. He left room to add other beverages at the bottom! Winking smile


Brody and his “smash” cake!


We set up a trail mix bar using old pieces from canteens. We put baggies so that people could make their own mix.


Tyler and Ginny had a cookout, but here are some of the themed food items.


At night, we had a campfire and made s’mores. The branches in the watering can held pictures from Brody’s first year!


And the kids just played….It was mostly a grown up party with only cousins along for the fun!


Now that was Saturday, but then the next day, Sunday, we went “down on the farm” for Matthew’s second birthday! Yep….their birthdays are only 3 days apart! I spray painted this sheet for a classroom activity many years ago. We were role playing Old MacDonald. I had a door cut out and the kids came from the barn as we sang. But, for the party it made a great backdrop for photos.


Here are some of the themed food that we had. The chicken feed was a chex mix that Megan made! It was delicious!


To say Matthew had a “cake” is an understatement! His other grandmother, Nick’s mom, made it! It was a piece of art!


We set up a few activities for Matthew’s cousins and friends from church. We put some hay in his wagon for hayrides.


We did some apple bobbing!


We had wheelbarrow races. We took some vegetable clip art pictures and taped them to a skewer. Then, we stuck the skewers down in the bale of hay. Two kids raced at a time. They would push their carts to the hay, pick 5 vegetable and race back! This was the most fun….and so simple!


And for the last activity we actually had an egg hunt! Yep, that’s right, an egg hunt.  They loved it!


Spring is my favorite time of the year. If I’m not with the babies, you can find me in the yard. This spring I redid my back porch.  Now….I did have help! I couldn’t do this by myself. But, I did clean up, power wash, spray paint, clean up flower bed, plant flowers…..

So….these are the number one reason I didn’t blog! I just didn’t! Sometimes we have to decide what we want to make time for! Too often I find that teachers are their own worst critic! We beat ourselves up! We expect perfection! We don’t want to disappoint! But, I think you will agree that first birthday parties and “spring fever” are more important than any blog post! See you tomorrow…that’s right….tomorrow, for the number 2 reason I haven’t blogged in a month!

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