KinderGals: 2014

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year Activities

Each year on our first day back to school, we have a day long Happy New Year’s Celebration! Here are a few of the things we do—Hooray for New Year’s Day!Slide12
I purchased these party horns at the Dollar Tree for each of the kids. Then, after we rang in the “New Year”, I cut off the blower part and we glued the rest of the horn to our New Year’s Day party face. In the speech bubble the kids wrote something they might say to ring in the New Year.
Another thing we did on our first day back after the holiday was to cook black eyed peas and cornbread (that’s how we do it in the south!). Then, the kids created this face. In the mouth, they drew what they wanted to eat: only peas, only cornbread, or both! Then, we used the faces to create this double bubble map.
We also created our own “ball” to drop! This is a great review of a sphere! On the circle map, we wrote words that we had learned that are associated with New Year’s Day/Eve. These ideas are from the resource: Hooray for New Year’s Day.
Here is another post with more pictures of our Happy New Year celebration.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tips and Ideas From Kim's Seminar

I’m sure as the New Year approaches we are all thinking of New Year’s Resolutions. I have made my share of resolutions---lose weight and exercise more seem to always top the list. As I think about resolutions for 2015, I wanted to think about resolutions that would save time! Yep, that precious thing that we never seem to have enough of--TIME.  How can I spend less time on work and more time on my family and friends, but still be the kind of teacher that I know I want to be? It isn’t in me to “settle” for anything but my best, so doing less has never really been an option.
That is what I love about this seminar…How can we “do it all”—have meaningful, engaging activities, develop higher order thinkers, provide authentic, research based lessons, and still be able to sleep!?!?!?
So what will we do on these two days? I can’t wait to share how using the workshop model of teaching puts the kids back in charge of their own learning! How you can provide quality lessons that target your standards while each child is able to “plug in” right at their own level!
Like…what do you do when some of your kids are writing text and others are still using drawings or scribbles? Or how do I move them from drawers to writers? This chart, along with others that I share, is one way I help my kids make that transition.
Ever try to get kids to really work together? I mean, not just work in the same area or on the same activity, but to be truly engage in meaningful conversations? If I want these conversations to occur, what do I need to do to make that happen? That is another of the many things we will talk about!
We will also visit the Eight Step Process. Ever heard of it? This is a great way to ensure that your teaching is reaching the kids it needs to reach. It makes sure that your fabulous lessons are targeted to the right group of kids and on the standards you need to cover!
Another thing that we can do to save tons of time is to really re-evaluate our center time. How much time are you spending creating centers that have a one shot answer, that take less than 10 minutes for the kids to do but hours for you to prep? Or, how do we move from simply going the “no prep” route and reproducing pages to keep them occupied to a more authentic form of teaching where children are engaged and developing understanding beyond what we thought possible???
How can we use centers as a way to revisit standards that we have already taught but want to maintain? How can we use centers as a way to keep kids busy while we pull small groups of children based on formative assessments to ensure that EVERY child is moving forward?
We will also talk about lots of fun math activities, many of which you can go back and do the very next day! BUT, how can we get the most from each activity—Questions!
The slides in this post are just a few of the many ideas you will see during the two day training!
I hope I will see lots of ya’ll this year while I am on the road in 2015! Each month I try to post where I am going to be, but you can always check the SDE website!
One thing I love about going to seminars myself is that not only do I learn new ideas, but I also realize that many other teachers are struggling with the same issues that I am! It is like a shot in the arm---new ideas, reminder of ideas I have done before but stopped doing, networking with other teachers, and spending a day laughing, learning and loving being a teacher!
Here are a few events from January you might want to check out! Just click on the picture and you can register for any of these events.
Happy Teaching! Living, Laughing, and Loving Teaching
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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Peek at My Week-Reindeer and Trains


This is going to be an incredibly short post! Shopping, decorating, wrapping, and parties are taking all my time…and I wouldn’t have it any other way! But, I wanted to give you a quick peek into what we are doing in Megan’s room this week! How exciting to be starting Unit 5 of Reader’s Workshop! This is when things get serious! We are really hitting those reading strategies and habits of good readers! How exciting that all of our kids are now in reading groups! In writing, we are finishing up our mini unit on making lists and writing patterns. Next week we will move on to opinion writing. We are using our train non fiction book as we are going to do the Polar Express this week! Yeah! And….we are also learning all about reindeer!Slide2

Here’s what we are doing in our literacy block and during science and social studies!


And…finally here are our math plans….Remember you can download these plans and save them for later! (here)

Like I said…short and sweet! Be sure and hop over to Deedee’s blog to see what others are doing!

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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Peek at My (our) Week-Christmas (trees), Freebees and More Travel

This post is just what you need to get ready for the Christmas Season! It has a week worth of lesson plans, 2 freebees, an interactive writing lesson, and the cutest gifts you will ever give your kids! Get ready....the fun, and craziness, of December is here!
Let the count down and craziness begin! Yep, 15 days of pure, no holding back, gotta love it….craziness!  I love working with teachers, but, this is the time of the year that I miss the classroom the most! No other profession allows you to spend an entire month watching the excitement build. To be quite honest, until Matthew was born last year, Christmas morning just hadn’t been the same since I left the classroom. The build up,the excitement that only children can bring…pure sweetness.
So, what is Megan doing in her room this week? It’s hard to believe that we are finishing up Unit 4 for Reader’s Workshop. We are now meeting with all the children for guided reading during the work time! Our kids are loving the nonfiction books that we made. My friend Bert put it best…my struggling readers feel so empowered! They have the same book as their “smartie” friends—the same pictures, the same features, only the level of text is different!
We are also finishing up our mini unit on list making and pattern writing. I love the pattern writing. Each child feel like a writer! It is a high success unit! Here is a sample of what pattern writing looks like.
workshops Jan 041
week 16 Christmas
We are mostly using ideas about Christmas Trees this week. See below for links to the freebees! We are going to talk about using our senses to figure out what is in a Christmas gift on Monday and Tuesday during Science. What does it feel like? and What does it sound like?
We started a new Math Attack Unit this week for the December/January theme.
You can download a copy of the lesson plans here to save for future reference!
Here is a picture from last year where we made the gingerbread houses. I bought 3 kits. Each child was able to decorate one part of the gingerbread house. Then, a parent volunteer helped to “glue” them together!
Scroll to the bottom of this post to snag this free file. There are more activities for this song in our Trees Unit.
Here is an interactive writing activity we did a few years back. You can read more about how to do it (here).
You might have started thinking about gifts for your kids. These are by far the best gifts we ever gave.
Here’s how:
  • We used a shower board from Home Depot and cut it into lap board sizes.
  • Then, we hot glued ribbon along the edges.
  • We used a paint pen and wrote their names.
  • Finally, we attached a dry erase marker with a velcro dot!
I remade the Christmas Math Game Pack this week. If you already own it, be sure and go to your “my purchases” section on tpt to get the updates.
I also remade the Christmas Literacy Game Pack.
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Do Your Kids Like Each Other?

Do the kids in your class like each other? Last year, I had a group that really needed some positive motivation to get along. I created these "good friend" badges to help highlight students who were being good friends! At the end of the academic segment, I would highlight that student and explain to the other boys and girls what the student did to earn the award. They got to wear the badge all day! At the end of the day, I would take off the badge and put the sticker on them. This made sure their parents knew that we were supporting positive friendships in our classroom.

I hope this helps you establish good friendships in your classroom!
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Monday, November 17, 2014

Student Lead Conferences

This year I have a new administrator. I just LOVE her. She has decided to implement student-led conferences on all grade levels. At first, I was very apprehensive! Now, my kids and I are SO excited.
Here is an excellent example of a primary grade student-led conference:

I have found that it has really made my kids excited about their learning. One of my sweeties said to me today, "Mrs. Merrell, I am going to put EVERYTHING I am good at in my conference folder."

I created a few things to make conference planning easier.
First, I sent these two notes home. The first note explains the idea of at student-led conference to the parents.
The second note was for the parents to sign up for a conference.

 Then, we got to work actually planning what the students would share during their conference. I created a binder to house all of there work.
Then, I created a divider for each child.
Next, behind each child's name, I put 4 different sheet protectors. In each sheet protector, the child will have their learning target and their work sample for that target. This is what they will actually share with their parents.
 Right now, I have only made target pages for math, reading, language arts, and writing. We plan on adding science and social studies in the spring! 
 I can't wait to see how these go. I will be sure to let you know! Be sure to let us know if you have ever had student-led conferences before. I'll take any advice and pointers I can get!!
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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Peek at My Week-Thanksgiving

Going to keep this short and sweet today…I’m kinda overwhelmed with life! Ever been there?
In reading we are still working on book patterns and in writing we are continuing our list writing unit. We are using nonfiction text for our guided reading groups.
Our centers and small groups are centered around Thanksgiving theme.
In Math we are starting our new unit on Number Combinations.  Sorry so short…but it’s the best I can do.  You can download these plans (here). Hop on over to Deedee’s blog to see what other bloggers are doing this week.
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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Peek at My Week Veterans Day—New Writing Unit

Here’s a little peek at what is happening in Megan’s room this week! Remember you can download this lesson plans (here) to save them for future reference!
During Reader’s Workshop we are starting to look at different types of patterns and how we can use those to help us retell stories.
So excited to start a new unit in Writer’s Workshop. We are starting our list making unit. I just love this unit because the kids feel so successful. This week we are just starting with “What are Lists?” and generating ideas of things we could make lists of.
Slide1Have you tired the Non-fiction guided reading units? Our kids are absolutely loving them…and so are we! This week we are using the “Veterans Day” and the “Where Does Wool Come From?” books. 
Slide2We are mostly using Veterans Day as our source of ideas this week. Can’t wait until Friday to make the wreath cookies and to do the gravity sort!
In Math small group we are finishing up Unit 3: Counting and Comparing. The games this week are a repeat from last week…except instead of comparing sets the children will compare numerals. Next week we are moving on to Unit 4: Combinations to 5
Be sure and hop over to Deedee’s blog to see what other teachers are doing this week, too!
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