Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wish List for Kindergarten

Hey there! 
I had a sweet friend text me the other day to tell me she is going to be teaching at a Pre-K program this fall. She asked me what my wish list would be for my students coming into Kindergarten. What would I want them to know or how could they best be prepared? 
First off, I wanted to hug her and kiss her feet! How many of us Kinder teachers wish someone would say, "How can I help you prepare your students before they get here!?" A teacher's dream come true right? 
So I put together a list of a few things that every Kindergarten teacher wishes their little babies knew or had already experienced when they walked through the door. 
Number one on my teacher wish list would be fine motor skills to prepare little fingers for writing. Building fine motor skills can be done through Play Dough, tweezer activities, sensory tubs, and opportunities to hold crayons, safe scissors, and pencils. 
Head over to my TPT store to pick up my play dough letter building mats for FREE. 
You can also follow me on Pinterest and check out my Fine Motor Building board for tons of fun activities to build those little muscles.

Second on my teacher wish list would be name recognition and writing. Wouldn't it be a dream if every Kindergarten student came into the classroom knowing how to write their name?! What a dream world. 
Tear art, highlighter writing, and play dough are all great ways to practice identifying and writing their names. I love this activity below from Munchkins and Moms using a paint stick and clothespins! 

Number three on my teacher wish list would be colors and shapes. Puzzles, sorting lessons, and books can help students with identifying colors and shapes. Head to my TPT store to pick up this free Color Hunt Nature Walk where students take a walk through nature and race to check off the colors they find in the great outdoors! There is a color and black and white version for more of a challenge.
Point out shapes in books, street signs, and around the house to help students identify shapes in every day objects. I have lots of shape activities pinned on my Kinder board on Pinterest. I love this activity of color coding craft sticks and having students build shapes! Very hands on and great for those fine motor skills we talked about earlier. 

Number 4 is the obvious one. Exposure to letters and numbers before Kindergarten is a must! We no longer take naps, play in the kitchen center, and dance our socks off all day long (well we sometimes dance our socks off). We start the first week of school introducing letters and sounds, and students are expected to be reading and writing by the time they leave us! When students come into kinder it is ideal for them to have some schema or background knowledge/experiences with letter and number identification. There are so many hands on activities, puzzles, games, and books to help students with letter and number identification. Here are a few of my letter and number favorites, and some fun Pinterest finds. 
Letter tracing with a Q-tip and paint is fun and tactile.
Sensory gel writing. Fill a snap-lock bag with a bit of hair gel and some food coloring and mix together. Such a fun way to get your kiddos to write!
Letter and number tracing with some hair gel and food coloring in a ziploc bag makes for a fun sensory activity. 
I love the book LMNO Peas by Keith Baker. The illustrations are beautiful, and students in my class tend to return to this book over and over again. It is great for letter ID.
Baby Flash Cards - Game for Learning Alphabet, Numbers, Shapes, Colors, and More  • The app includes over 500 gorgeous flashcards  • The flashcards are grouped into six unique categories to help babies and toddlers learn their abc, numbers, shapes, colors, animals, and first words.  • The app includes multiple examples for each of the letters, numbers, and colors to reinforce learning and keep kids engaged.  • Over 100 beautiful flashcards can be experienced for free.
This learning app is called Baby Flash Cards and is a free i-pad app. The app has over 500 colorful flashcards covering letters, numbers, shapes, colors, animals and more.What kid doesn't love using the i-pad!?
I love the idea of re-purposing household items like baby wipes containers and bottle caps. The bottle caps can be labeled with letters or numbers and students identify the letters or numbers before feeding it to the alphabet/number monster. Click on the picture above to see the entire post about this hands on game. 
The last and final item on my teacher wish list for my students coming into Kindergarten would be character and manners. We spend the first six weeks of school teaching students how to share, how to say please and thank you, how to ask politely, how to play appropriately, etc. etc. etc....you get the idea. When students come into my classroom and have been properly socialized, they know how to interact with peers in a kind manner and can play appropriately without adult assistance. Teaching kids character and manners can be as simple as reading books and taking moments throughout the day as teachable moments. 
I love How Full is Your Bucket by Rath, Ruckmeyer, and Manning. My students all year long will say things like, "Thanks for being a bucket filler" or, "You are really dipping my bucket". I love the language that this book uses and teaches students to communicate to their peers. Character and manners is so important when students enter the Kindergarten classroom!

I hope you enjoyed my Teacher's Wish List for my Kinder students, and I would love to hear from you what's on your wishlist for students coming into your classroom!

Monday, June 29, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge

Hey there! 
Y'al it is the end of June....I cannot believe it is the end of June already! I had so much printing, laminating, and cutting that I wanted to get done this summer and I have done none of it. Grad school consumes my life these days so I guess I have an excuse right?!
I have joined up with the ladies below for the amazing TPT Seller Challenge going on this summer. 
 This challenge has been great and has kept me motivated to really work on building my store this summer! The second challenge was Dare to Dream and although I am a little late in posting, I figure better late than never right!? 
So here it is! 
My husband and I are going on year two in an apartment and I just now started getting the itch to get our own place! I would love for TPT to help us save more towards our first home! 
We also love to travel and have been blessed to take several trips since we got married, but never out of the country. The mister has been to several places in Europe, but I have never been and I am dying to go. I would love for TPT to cover the cost of an amazing trip like that. A girl can dream right? 
Lastly, I am a huge giver and my parents raised me to give to those in need. I would love to host an amazing give back campaign through TPT to help a school or family in need!
I love that TPT has the potential to be so much for so many people, and although right now as a newbie these dreams seem out of reach I know if I continue to put in the hard work it will pay off in the end! 
Stay tuned for the third part of this amazing challenge! 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Five for Fraturday

Hey there! 
I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday post on Saturday, so I am calling it Five for Fraturday. Makes sense right? 

When I first started blogging, I loved linking up with this link up because it gave me a structure for writing my blog posts. I also get more views on these posts than any other posts because SO many people join this link up! If you are new to blogging like I am, then join the party and meet some new friends by clicking on the picture above. 
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The last two years I spent my summers relaxing, reading fiction books, and hanging out by the pool. I told myself I really wanted to focus this summer on developing as a teacher and doing some professional reading to stay fresh! I think we as teachers can suffer from the summer slide just like the kids can.. am I right?! Because I am in grad school I have about four text books that I am not reading at all totally enjoying....(cough cough). So I wanted some easy reads with practical strategies I can implement and not books full of statistics and numbers! 

Now I know what you are thinking, and no I have NEVER read The End of Molasses Classes by Ron Clark! I know....total loser over here. I have had the book sitting on my shelf for over a year and never read it. I am loving every moment of it and my favorite part so far has been, "Not every kid gets a cookie!" I love that phrase because in today's world it is so important to teach our students that you must work for the reward and those that put in the hard work get the cookie!

For my Improvement of Instruction class, I am reading How the Brain Learns by David Sousa. I actually really like this book because it talks about the way we store memory and different strategies we can use to ensure retention in our students. Who knew that lessons that use all of your senses guarantee students will retain the information?! For example when you use food in a lesson you are engaging multiple senses which guarantees students will store the information you are teaching them into memory. So cool.  I am actually loving this book.

If I ever finish my textbooks and have spare time this summer, I hope to read The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson. Guided Reading is an area in which I feel that I could never be trained enough because it is an area that you have to actually see to understand. We need strong Guided Reading techniques to ensure our students leave our classroom as strong independent readers! 

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For number two, I had to promote Gabby over at Gabby's classrooms. I entered a giveaway she did awhile back and won a free blog design! She was amazing to work with, and I have had so many compliments on the final product. I can't take any of the credit because she was the master mind and  I absolutely love what she came up with. If you have been wanting a new design, head over to her blog and enter this amazing giveaway! You won't regret it!

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I have been working on some new products, but my favorite right now is my classroom management plan for next year called "No More Clip Chart!" Yes...you heard me. I am getting rid of the clip chart. Kicking it to the curb. No more going home on red or yellow or green, or parents saying "I don't want my child sitting next to Johnny because he goes home on red". If you are thinking "she has lost her mind", just wait and I will be posting soon about my logic behind it and my plan for this next year! 

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 So yesterday this happened! I was sitting there on the couch with my long hair in a nappy bun on top of my head thinking how awfully hot it was outside and just decided to chop it. Not by myself of course. 6 inches later and this was the end product! Texas heat makes you do crazy things, but I don't hate it!

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Sticker Chart Freebie
And last but not least, how about a freebie! Click on the picture above and download this sticker chart freebie in my store! These are great for putting on the front of student lockers or folders for positive reinforcement. If you download, please leave feedback and rate the product and I will forever be your best friend... (Ok maybe that is stretching it but you get the idea). 
Thanks for reading and come back soon!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Sweet Summer Time

Hey there! 
I have not been to this little blog of mine in awhile because I was in that teacher recovery coma that we go into when school gets out. I don't know about you, but I could have comad (not a word) for a week if I didn't have adult obligations. Ok by adult obligations I mean an amazing trip to the beach for my anniversary...... :)
Our trip has been INCREDIBLE, but it had a hilarious rocky start that I just have to share because who doesn't love a good story.
The husband and I got to the airport early and were all checked in waiting at our gate when we realized they moved our gate. We took off running, bags in tow, and when we arrived at the correct gate we sat for about 45 minutes waiting to board. Something about the plane was late or something or another. When we finally board the plane, husband and I take our seats and I notice a sweet little toddler coming down the aisle with his family. "Oh how cute look how sweet" I say to myself......then the toddler and his father climb into the seats in the row next to mine. I told myself it was fine, the kid has an I-pad with Frozen playing what could go wrong....dum dum dum.
About an hour later we are still sitting in the plane because we needed fuel and nobody had come to fuel us up. The toddler to my right started getting agitated about 30 minutes in and started screaming "get me off this HAIRPLANE!" The child screamed the entire 3 hour plane ride things like, "GET ME OUT OF HERE" "I don't like the hairplane!" and I had this ever growing migraine that started to furrow my brows. The child even threw up at one point because he was so agitated and I think his father got a good nap.  And just as I was about to loose my ever living mind,  my sweet husband passes me a note that says "I promise our trip will get better!" and that is why I love him folks. He is ALWAYS finding the good in the situation. 
Here are a few highlights from the trip! I left my good camera at home so these are I-phone pics.

Needless to say, it has been an incredible trip. I have not done much creating at all since I have been relaxing on the beach, but I did join in with the ladies for the TPT Seller Challenge! I am so excited to meet new sellers, build my store, and challenge myself this summer. The challenge started with Makeover Madness where you makeover one of your products. 

I will be making over several of my products because I am so new to the TPT world that my first few products I made need some love. I have learned so much since starting so I will be making over lots of things this week! Here is my first makeover. 

I updated the cover and fonts of my UPSC Problem Solving Posters. UPSC was a method I learned in my old school district and it teaches students to stop when they get to a problem and Understand, Plan, Solve, and Check. These posters serve as a reminder on what to do for each step!
Like I said I will be doing lots of making over this week so stay tuned. To see the rest of the link ups, head over to Teach Create Motivate or the rest of the ladies who put on this fabulous challenge. 

Thanks for reading! 
 The first person to comment on this post will receive my problem solving posters for free!

Friday, June 5, 2015

June Currently

Hey Y'all! 
Before I start writing, I have to tell you that I am writing somewhat foggy tonight. Today was the last day of school, and I have been packing up my classroom all week with 19 students in my room. Not only that, but I started three grad courses this week and was in class till 8:00 last night and stayed up late doing homework.
Needless to say I need a caffeine IV drip...literally my caffeine intake is absurd. 
So with all that said, I am linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for her monthly Currently link up! I am probably the last one to join the party but what else is knew.

I am listening to Pearl Harbor because the mister is gone tonight and I love watching chick flicks. I am loving that today was the last day of school! It was somewhat bitter sweet because I am leaving my current school to start in a new district. I will miss the many friendships and family relationships that I made while I was there, but I am so excited about my new adventure in a new district! I am thinking about all the new products I want to create this summer for TPT. I feel like my store has huge potential, but I definitely need to build build build. I have tons of ideas, but struggle with just getting started! I am wanting my little fur baby Winston to stop chewing everything in sight. As we speak the little stinker is chewing the boxes that hold all my classroom belongings, my wedding album, and the couch pillows. I get up every five minutes to take something from him or move it to a spot that he can't reach. Does this puppy phase ever end?! Someone tell me there is hope in sight! 
I am needing a swimsuit for our beach trip next week. Yes I know...procrastination at its finest. I have no time to order something so I am hoping to go look one day next week after the last day of school coma wears off. 
Last but not least, for Summer Lovin I am going to love my beach trip with my hubby, sleeping in as long as the fur baby will let me (which is usually not very late), and shopping days with girl friends! 

I don't have a ton of fun things to share because I spent all week packing my classroom, but I will leave you with this video of my team and myself dancing our way in to summer break. Enjoy!