KinderGals: July 2016

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Sunday, July 31, 2016

Organize Your Group Time with Carpet Bags

That Back To School rush can be very overwhelming. Too much to do and too little time to get it done. If I don't get it done before the kids showed up, sometimes it never gets done at all.  I am a super, organized person and can drive my family, and even some of my friends...absolutely crazy! I like things put away in the right place...I like things to be cleaned up as soon as you are done…you get the point. Now, I have tried to lighten up a little, but I still think the ability to organize maximizes teaching time. The Carpet Bag helps me organize my circle time!
So what can you do now that will make the most difference when you start back? Get that carpet bag done!
Here are the items in the carpet bag...
*word families book
* unit vocabulary notebooks
* alphabet charts and yes/no sticks
* Book of Lists
* Nursery Rhyme Books
* traveling word walls
* working mats
* literature journal
* student calendar notebook

Carpet Bags

You can find the actual carpet bag in lots of stores! These are some that I saw at the Dollar Tree. You can also use the recyclable grocery bags and just tape the three sides so they don't open all the way.


Carpet Bag Storage 

The bags are stored in these three baskets. In the morning, the children get out their bag and place it on their spot in the large group area. We leave them there all day! At the end of the day, we return the bags to the baskets.
Carpet Bag Contents
We keep a small bag of supplies in each of the bags. In addition to the items mentioned below, the children also keep a small plastic container with 10 of the 2 sided counters. No more passing out supplies. Passing out supplies is a major time sucker!

Yes/No Response Stick

A yes/no response stick is as great way to get children to show their understanding of the concept. Again, no passing out. Just say, "Get out your yes/no stick." and they are ready to go!

Student Calendar Notebook

As I am doing the calendar, the kids follow right along. This is a perfect way to develop number sense. It also holds the children accountable for their learning!
Here are some of the pages from the student calendar notebook unit. 
Traveling Word Wall
As I add  new words to the word wall on Monday, the kids add them to their traveling word wall. The real purpose of the traveling word wall is to teach how the word wall is organized. Some kids will be able to read all the words on the word wall and others will not. The important part is, do they know how it is organized and how to use it!

Word Family Book and Book of Lists

We add a new word family to our Word Family books each week.  This is a great way to introduce spelling patterns, chunks, short and long vowels.
We also add a new list to our book of lists each week. This is a great way to practice stretching words while reviewing concepts taught in science, social studies, and math.
The Literature Journal
Since we do most of our comprehension work together, I have my kids keep their literature journals in their carpet bag as well. Again, no passing out. Just invite the children to pull their journal out of their carpet bag!

Working Mats

The newest addition to our carpet bags is the working mats! Boy have they saved us some time. We took all of our math tools and our graphic organizers and bound them together into one notebook. Now the kids can easily get that out of their carpet bag. The problem...finding the right page. We added a tiny animal clip art in the corner of each page. Now we can just invite the children to turn to the page with the "bee"!
 What is the purpose of the Carpet Bag?
  1. To optimize teaching time! No more having to collect and pass things out.
  2. Assessment: We do all of our large group teaching with the kids on the carpet. This makes it easy for us to see who is catching the concepts and who will need to pull for small group. 
  3. Takes advantage of that "teachable moment."
  4. Makes students more independent. Each child is responsible for the contents of their bag.
Here are the resources to make your carpet bag.
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Friday, July 22, 2016

Making the Most of Math Centers and Science Experiments

Trying to figure out how to organize your math centers? Then, this is the post for you. This post will give you tips to easily organize and manage your centers.

Science Blasters

Science is something that is often put on the back burner in kindergarten, right? We are so busy teaching the literacy and math standards it often leaves very little time for science. However, as a country we lag behind in science.  So what is important about science? We need to build excitement, teach the scientific process, and show the connection to reading, writing and math!
This darling little book is about a duck family going to the grandparents for Sunday breakfast. Baby duck is miserable in the rain and the parents don't understand why the baby doesn't like the rain.
BEFORE, reading this book to your kids, you will want to read a nonfiction selection on ducks and their feathers. This will allow your children to understand why baby duck shouldn't worry about the rain.
We follow up with the fun little science experiment! Super simple and easy, BUT it teaches the scientific process and has the children work through each step!

Math Centers

We really don't need to hear ANOTHER math idea! If you are looking for ideas, go to Pinterest, facebook, Instagram or teachers pay teachers! They are loaded with ideas! So, why then, do some teachers struggle with centers?  MANAGEMENT!
One thing I did was to set up just 5 center areas. Each area contains a "have to" activity and then some "can do" activities for early finishers.
Each day they rotate to a different area. This means by Friday, they have been to all 5 areas.
Establish centers that are independent. Ones that the kids know how to play and have mastered the standard. Centers are to maintain learning! New learning occurs in your small group.
Here are some things to think of when pulling small groups. Instead of calling a whole center area to your table, go to each center area and pull the kids with a common need based on your assessments.
Trying to meet with every child every day can be stressful not just for you but also for the kids! Do not call your intervention group to your table first.  Instead start with the kids you are pretty sure will get it! That way you can practice your delivery!
Also, this allows the intervention children to have peer support in the centers.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Conference Ideas From Vegas: Science, Math and Games

This blog post contains a collection of ideas from the National I Teach Conference in Vegas.

Simply Science

Science is something that is often put on the back burner in kindergarten, right? We are so busy teaching the literacy and math standards it often leaves very little time for science. However, as a country we lag behind in science.  So what is important about science? We need to build excitement, teach the scientific process, and show the connection to reading, writing and math!
The first thing is to build excitement. Here is a picture of Megan, dressed and ready to be the made scientist. Each week we have a science box that contains our experiment of the week.
On Fridays, the kids wear their scientist jackets, nametags, and goggles as we open the science box to see what's inside.
The first time we opened the box we had this experiment. Over the course of the week, we worked through the scientific process, learning each step, as we conducted our experiment.
As we were learning the scientific process, we used our nonfiction readers to help us learn more. This is a great way to connect nonfiction text features to scientific information. By doing this, we are able to teach our children how to read scientific materials and use the features to help them.  When I wrote this Science Tools reader, I wanted all my kids to be able to apply what they know. I made 3 levels of text (level 3 is great for the teacher). All 3 levels have the same pictures and the same nonfiction features. The only difference--the level of text!
During this session we also learned how to develop a science workshop. We start with a mini lesson that lasts about 10 minutes. This is where we teach the new concepts that slowly build over the week. Then the kids move to centers for 20 minutes. The centers are on a rotational system where they visit one center area each day. By the end of the week, they have been to all 5 centers.

Games Galore

Teachers love to play games! Here's my best isn't important to have a million games. If you teach the kids a few basic games, you can simply change the standard and change the clip art and they think it is a new game. This means that more time is spent learning the standard than how to play a new game.
One game we play a lot for sight words is hangman. BUT, it doesn't have to be the traditional game. You can build anything...make a snowman, make Mr. Potato Head, etc!
Here are a few things I think of when I am playing:
  • Children need to have a visual of the words you are choosing from. Place them in front of the word wall, give them a printed copy of the spelling words, etc.
  • Each child needs a dry erase board to record their guess.
  • Tell the children how many letters are in the word.
  • Invite them to draw that many lines on their board.
  • Read through the list of words with the children identifying the ones that have 3 letters.
  • Children record their guess.
  • Invite a child to guess a letter.
  • Once the letter is recorded, or not recorded, the children must look at their word to determine if it still fits.
  • Read through the list of words again. Identify the 3 letter words, with or without, the guessed letter.
  • This means that more time is spent actually reading the words and looking at the features than at just random guessing!

Group, Partner, Team: Small Groups for Math Success

We all want to make the most of our small group time during math!
We can use this structure to establish an effective math time: Mini Lesson, Work Time, and Share.
For example, this shape sorting activity is an easy mini lesson.
Then, the children move to centers. I set me room up with 5 centers. They visit one center each day, by Friday they have been to all five centers.  Each center has a "have-to" activity like this button graph. To make the graph the rolled a dice and counted buttons. After making the graph, they wrote their analysis.
Then, the children can select from a few "can do" activities that are located in their center area. Manipulative and card games are great for the can do centers. In this card game, the children draw 4 cards and put them in order. You might be wondering why the numerals are cut off of the cards. I want the kids to focus on the configuration for the number, not the numeral! So, I just cut the numerals off!
While children are working in centers, I pull small groups using a schedule like the one above. These groups are very flexible from week to week depending on what standard I am teaching. Each group has a common need.
This is an example of a game I play with my kids when we are learning to count! Super easy. The kids just toss a pom pom onto the game board. Then, they count up to the numeral where the pom pom landed.
One thing we don't want to do...plan a million activities. So it is super easy to adjust the game. Just use a different board with higher target numerals, or instead of playing the game as a small group, invite the children to play the game with partners.
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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Favorite Conference Ideas & a FREE Game!

Going to conferences is amazing! Not only do we learn new ideas and feel validated, but we also get that shot in the arm that inspires us to do better. This post includes some of my favorite ideas that I share during conferences. Be sure and read all the way to the bottom to grab a free game you can share with  your kids!

DI: Easy as Pie

DI: Easy as Pie is always a popular session. In this session we look at  formative assessments. We have all found ourselves behind the 8 ball when it comes to putting grades on report cards! When we find ourselves in this situation, we turn on youtube, or some other video, and proceed to call children over, one at a time, to assess.  While this gets the job done, it's not our finest moment of teaching. We want to find ways to include formative assessments as part of our teaching. Here is one way to do that.
Each week we have a different "club". During our morning meeting children may join the club by "doing" whatever the standard is.  Each day I allow 4-5 children to have a chance. By the end of the week, everyone has attempted. For those kids who don't volunteer, I call them over privately! Be sure you have established a climate where it is brave to answer when you are not sure! In this environment, children are applauded for attempts! Now you can pull a small group to support any children who need extra support in mastering the standard.
Make an instructional focus checklist for each week. This means, pick a few math and a few literacy standards you are going to look for mastery. Provide centers, small group, and large group activities where children will have the opportunity to demonstrate mastery. Make notes on the recording sheet. Now, use this sheet to plan your small groups for next week. You can grab some of my favorite DI forms for FREE in this blog post.
Having a hard time keeping up with note taking? Use a camera! When you see children demonstrating mastery of a standard, simply snap a photo! This is a great way to show parents what you are looking for!


Interventions is another hot topic at conferences.  Do you have a hard time figuring out how to manage your intervention time? In this session, teachers learned how to do just that! I showed several interventions that can be used with the whole class!
One way this is easily accomplished is playing math games with a dice.  Here's how to play this game:
  • Get a game board, a more and less board, a dice and 2 colors of unifix cubes.
  • Invite the first child to roll the dice and count out that many unifix cubes. (using only one color of cubes)
  • Place the cubes on any image on the game board.
  • Now, the second child has his turn. (using the other color of cubes)
  • Continue taking turns until all the images on the board are covered with a unifix cube. 
  • Each child collect their color of unifix cubes, arranges them on tens frames, and determines how many cubes they have.
  • Invite the children to put a cube on the more or less card depending on the results.
  • The child with less, spins the spinner. If it lands on less, he wins. If it lands on more, his partner wins!
This game is easy to differentiate! Here are a few ways:
  • Increase or decrease the number of squares with images resulting in higher or lower numbers to compare.
  • Provide the children with two dice. Roll, add the two dice together, count that many cubes.
  • Roll 2 dice, subtract, count that many cubes.
  • Provide the children with a regular dice and then a wooden cube with +1 or -1 written on each side. Invite the children to roll both dice. Then, they add or subtract one from the regular dice. Count out that many cubes.
Want to grab more of these Roll, Count, Compare games? You can find them here!
There is a FREE Roll, Count, Compare game at the bottom of this blog post. Scroll all the way to the bottom to find it!

Organize Your Thinking

My last session for today was Organize Your Thinking! In this session, teachers were give a plethora of ideas on ways to use graphic organizers. Marica Tayte tells us that graphic organizers are one of the 20 strategies that make children smarter!
We used these circle maps to create wheels for our school bus! For each circle map, we sorted a set of clip art pictures to identify the things in our room. This is a great activity for the beginning of the year.  As I show the children each picture, we must locate that item in our room.  This allows the children to become familiar with where things are located in your room!
Another idea was this bat Venn diagram.  After reading Stelleluna, we read each fact. The children were invited to determine if the fact was true of bats, birds, or both!
Another idea was this Friends Tree Map. We started by having a discussion about things friends like to do. Then, each child was given a strip of paper to record how they would complete the sentence "Friends like to..." We repeated this for all 3 columns. Don't feel that you have to do all 3 columns in one sitting. This is easily completed over the course of 3 days!

ESGI and DI for the Little Guy

I also had the chance to hang out in the ESGI booth today and share some ideas! If you aren't familiar with will change your world! In their booth, I did a quick presentation about making the most of your small group through differentiation. I took the standard number combinations and demonstrated how to get the most out of instructional time.
Here's a quick overview:
First, assess each child. Here is a quick video that shows you how. Click here.
Make each child a necklace and punch out the number combinations that he has already mastered.
You can also easily use ESGI on your ipad or computer to do the assessment.
Now, ESGI will show you a bar graph for the assessments. This allows you to click in the green to see who has mastered the standard or click in the gray to see those who have not.
Now, how do we use that data?
First....large group.  Let's say you are in large group and you are using two different colors of unifix cubes to show combinations for a given number. For example, if the given number was 5 the children might have 1 red and 4 whites, 2 reds and 3 whites, etc. BUT, now instead of everyone having to do combinations for 5, they simply look at their necklace and find the first number NOT punched out. That is the number they use!  All of the children are using unifix cubes and making number combinations, but some are on 5, some are on 6, some are on 3, etc.
How about small group? As teachers we look at the bar graph to make our groups. We can pull all of the children working on 5 together, etc.
I love ESGI and what's even better is they love teachers.  You can try ESGI for FREE! Simply go here and get started. Be sure and use code "ADSIT" to get two months free and to SAVE if you decide to purchase!

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