June 30, 2012

Blog Swap and Hop with Freebies!

 Hi all!! It's Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles! I am so excited to be participating in the Blog Swap and Hop and to be posting over here at Sharing Kindergarten!! Mary is definitely one of my favorite bloggers :)
Every year on the first day of school I read the cutest little monster story to my kindergartners to introduce them to school rules. This year I have decided to take that story and turn it into a whole unit for the first week! I am super excited about it because I think the children will really understand the concept.
I am even thinking of using these little guys as my first bulletin board to show the school all of 'Miss Clabby's Mon-STARS!!' 
These can be found in my Back to School Monster Unit
I know a lot of others are planning to do a Monster Unit with their Kinders, so if this is the case then I have a great little freebie for you!!
These monster patterns will be perfect for your math centers at the beginning of the year! Just click below to grab your copy :)
And guess what else!? 
Mary also has a wonderful Monster freebie for you! 
Just hop on over to her guest post today at Fabulously First!

with Deb!

Enjoy hopping around!!
Here is my newest FREEBIE... These Little Monster Reader!

June 28, 2012

Sight Word Celebrations

 I do several sight Word Celebrations through the school year to encourage students to read sight words.

Once I see how slow or quickly my students are reading their words, I step up the encouragements. This is to keep things exciting and fun. I believe that hard work should be modeled, taught, and rewarded. I choose to do this by hosting Sight Word Celebrations.

My first party is in January or February, again it just depends on my students abilities.
The sight word party is Popcorn. I rarely allow my class to just "watch" a movie, but on this day they get to. We make popcorn, watch a movie, and take some time to off to celebrate our hard work.

Our next party is Ice Cream. We do this in March or April. We make ice cream sundaes and celebrate our hard work again.

The last party is the big one... PIZZA! We usually do this one the last week of school.

Okay... now that you know which parties I host, let me tell you how we decide who comes (we say who is invited.)I look at their past data collection (see this post to see how I gather sight word data) and see how fast or slow they are learning new words. THEN I sit with my student to set a new goal. Some students may need to go from 50 words to 75, while another may need to go from 3 words to 6. Some students I push harder, some I encourage to keep up with the pace they are currently on.I keep a paper with each students goal with me and (I send a quick letter home to parents as well)

The note goes home about 3-4 weeks before the party. As that students works on their words, I refer back to our agreement. I send reminders home about the party a week before as well. Once a student is invited to the party, I send a note home to let the moms and dads know.

Since each goal is a personal goal, each student does get invited. I have NEVER had a student NOT come... they all have worked VERY hard and earned their way to the party. This is hard for my parents to "get" at first, but once they talk with me about it and see how excited their students are to get to their goal... they are on board. The second and third party are much smoother for the students and esp the parents. Again... this is just a fun way to encourage hard work and good reading.

How do you keep students motivated to read sight words?

June 27, 2012

Choice Board Questions Answered

What is a choice board?
A choice board is a classroom management system to allow your students to make choices about where they do to learn. It is like controlling centers or small groups, but you are allowing your students to choose their location.

Where do you put it?
I put mine in the front of the classroom on my white board so each student and every adult can easily see it and use it. Put yours in a central location and in good viewing space for you and your students.

When do you use it?
I use this board for D5, literacy stations, and small groups.
I use this board only when my students are ready for it. I have to build up stamina in several areas before I can expect or allow students to choose their area and work correctly in that area. I am guessing we will start this board in October.

How do you use it?
I set mine up for each topic to be on its own sheet. That may you can change it based on your classroom needs and where your students are building stamina.  For my picture example, I can have just working with words, reading to self, and reading to others as choices. I can add listening to reading when my students are ready, or take it away if they can't handle it. I also created a spot for working with a teacher and an aid/adult.
 Each student must have a name piece. I use my labels I made to match (of course!) You put up the choice board option that are open and are best for your room. For example under read to others, you can add the arrows I provided to show who is going to be reading with who. Under listen to reading, I added my specific reading stations.(White iPad, Black iPad, CD Player, Tape Player.)

Students move their name to their choice and go to that location. They may be called to work with a teacher or they may want to switch locations when a listening station becomes open. As long as they change where they are on the board, they are fine.

Why do I need one?
I can't promise that you need one, but I did. I created this for my room and the needs of little ones. I modified, added to the pack, and changed things to work with K students. for example, my students NEEDED a choice for working with their teacher because it blew their minds that they wouldn't have a place on the choice board when they were working with me. 
Here is my pack if you are interested.
What other questions do you have that I need to add to this post? 

June 26, 2012

Kindergarten Daily 5 Book Study

1. Establish a gathering place for brain and body breaks.
My gathering space this past year was my carpet that I use for calendar. I found it the easiest place to "meet up" with everyone. I love the wind chime idea The Sister mentioned in their book, but I kept meaning to bring it to school, but never did. I hope I remember to do it this year.
I sing a little song to my students (and I can't sing well at all)

Come on down to the carpet (clap)
Come on down to the floor (clap clap)
Come on down to the carpet...(clap)
so we can learn some more. (clap clap)

You can change the claps to snaps, stomps, or even giggles. I usually do a different sound or such for each letter we are learning.
I also keep music on my iphone and a docked speaker in my room to play transition music like Dr. Jean (LOVE her). Just an idea I am working on...

2. Developing the concept of "good fit" books 
I like to work with the media specialist on this idea because I want my class to pick books from the library and my class library the same.
Ironically, I don't think my kids have to know how to pick only "Good Fit" books right away because they will LOVE the pictures in so many books before they can read. I want them to learn to pick books that interest them first, then we can work on if they can read them or not. (I hope this makes sense.)
3. Create anchor charts with students.
I didn't create charts with my class... I have to be honest. I created them and we talked about them together. This worked well for me. My students had no clue what they were suppose to be doing when reading nor what I was suppose to do when they were reading. I made charts, referred to them daily if not more often. I also posted matching charts above the choice board and made bookmarks with the rules as visual reminders. I love the idea of projecting them digitally as well!
I also place I PICK signs close to my classroom library as well.

I leave my D5 signs up... we talk about them so much, there really isn't any time to put them away. I don't have a lot of space, so I just made small signs.
4. Short, repeated intervals of independent practice and setting up book boxes
How are you going to keep track of stamina? I have seen a TON of great stamina charts free on pinterest. (I put them into our collaborative board for the book study already.)
I didn't use these in the past because, well, when my class did this for the first week... they did 20 minutes easy and enjoyable. (We started in March.) My students were upset when they had to stop reading.
Now a K kid in March is WAY WAY WAY different than a K kid in August, so I am planning on using some charts. I want to do read to self and word work the first week of school for sure... but independent from each other. I heard others say they didn't start a choice board until students had 20 minutes of stamina in each area.
What will you use for book boxes? 
I am using tubs from Really Good Stuff... here is a picture of the bins with temporary labels they give you. I was not about to waste labels on the end of the year, so I put up construction paper for mine.
I have the same tubs for my classroom library as I do for my student bins. (Our class sizes were going up this year, so I had to get an extra set of them.)
What are you going to put in those book boxes on the 1st day of school?
I am NOT going to do the D5 on the first day of school... too much going on
On day 1 I worry about keeping them safe, feeding them lunch, and getting them home.
I will start D5 on day 3 I think... I have copies of Chicka Chicka for each child. I also have class books we read to share. I make TONS of printable easy reader books, so I will be sure to put them in there too. I will also make a Brown Bear class book for the each to learn names and faces with.

5. Calm Signals and check in procedures (Do you already have a signal? How will you handle check ins?)
I do not have a signal for my class... usually I give them a cleanup warning so they know to wrap things up, then I call them to the carpet. I will be using a windchime to do this.
We do the thumbs up and thumbs to the side liek the sisters recomment. I like it, but rarely do those "should ahve been thumb to the side" studetns put their thumb to the side.

6. Using the correct model/incorrect model approach for demonstrating appropriate behaviors.
I keep track of behaviors, but only after I know that I have taught my students the correct ones. As soon as students show behaviors I do not approve of while doing D5- we will stop and regather. BUT... if I have the same student who simply can not remaing in an activity for 20 minutes (because we KNOW this is going to happen!) I will do my best to set them up for success as well.
1. Call them to work with an adult or strong peer role role quicker than I would normally.
2. Leave student alone when they are showing correc tbehaviors, but praise them later!
3. Keep them away from students who are not positve role models for them.
4. Reteach correct behaviors often.
5. Remember their age- they are only 5!!!
6. Wiggle often and for every minilesson. If you don't get the wiggles out together, they will wiggle on their own.

One thing the questions didn't cover was a class library. Let's face it... if your students are going to be reading a lot (and they will be!) you are going to need a system for selecting and returning books often. I have a shelf of random books for students to look through, but I needed a system for putting out MY books from MY unit tubs after I use them for instruction. These are always the most popular student choices. I took the same tubs as my student book baskets, but labeled each one differently with a word and a picture. All the books of mine that cover those areas go in that tub. My students did really well with this... really well. Plus when I needed to put those book back in the tubs, I could let my class know at the end of the D5 time to return that "theme" book. I could easy file those books back and I would change that label out for the next unit.

Here are my labels I made to match all my D5 and Literacy Work Station "stuff." I am going to print them out, write on student names. I also use these for my choice board names and will use it for my class library labels as well. 
If you are interested, head here to get them.
I am going to post tomorrow about my CHOICE BOARD since so many people want to know about this.

What do you love and/or hate about your class library?

June 25, 2012

Freebie Start of the Year Reading Notes Home

I wrote a post about a book idea for Meet the Teacher each start of the school year.

I find the cheapo Scholastic books and order a class set.
I send them home with each new friend at Meet the Teacher,
the day before school starts.
Their homework is to read the book with their parents.
I am glad to share my ideas with you do get literature into the hands and homes of our students.
Someone asked me for the note home I am sending...
but I didn't have it made.
So I got busy.

This way, I hopefully have your book covered.
It also allows you to use books from your library, school library,
or elsewhere since you can mix and match.
I also added the Amazon links in case you need to grab them from there. 

I went through the list you guys gave me before on books you use at the start of the year....
did I miss any I should add to the pack?

June 23, 2012

A Few New Finds

I have not worked very hard this weekend on my blog and such... but I have been reading.
I am still trying to find another book as good as 50 Shades of Grey... the search continues!

I found a few new books I bought today... for school of course.!
My K team does the gingerbread man hunt the first week of school every year! We read the story, then make the cookies. But when we go to get the cookies for snack... they have escaped! We have to hunt for them all over the school as we see and meet everyone... the librarian, front office, nurse, etc.
 I am going to be reading this book for the hunt this year. (I am so excited about this find!)

I also found this book... perfect for Veteran's Day

I have not seen a lot of good books for Veteran's Day and thought this might make sense to my kids more
than the others.

(If you click the pictures above, you should be able to go to Amazon to buy these titles for cheap... I paid much more at Barnes and Nobles today. Thank goodness I had a gift card.)

Do you have any great new books to share?
What is the title and author and what lesson do you teach with it?

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves

I finished my newest unit this week and I have a freebie to share with you...
Here is a peak at the unit... There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves
and then I am going to show you my ideas for the D5 with it. 
(Yes, I plan this far ahead!)

For Word Work- Use the first section (They are actually puzzles) to have students make words.
For Read to Self and/or Read to Someone- I made a reproducible reader for each student.
Work on Writing- I made 3 leveled writing activities. If you use these with the sequencing cards are a word wall, your students should be able to be successful here, even in the beginning of the year.

I can't do too much help with Listening, but I did create an Color the Answer and Listening and Follow Direction activity you can add to this station by taping yourself reading it or you can use this in small group with students who struggle with listening skills. (I have this book on tape from Scholastic.)

Myself or my assistant can use the game for reading comprehension practice. I think it is fun to give my students the book when needed as well.
 For a mini lesson teaching reading strategies (CAFE) I think sequencing events and ordering can easily be done... I have the (bottom) sequencing cards and freebie below for additional practice.

 I also made these units for this book... if you want a peak.

Math Unit Here

Grab it here... another Word Work Option

Does this post help you grasp a how easy it is to use the D5 and CAFE?

June 22, 2012

Guest Post for Freebie Friday

If you are a Teach It With Class follower, I am glad to have the chance to share my idea with you today! I hope you decide to browse for a while, pick up some great free items, AND follow my blog.
If you are a Sharing Kindergarten reader, 
 As promised, here is your freebie with all the shapes you need to create your own pattern practice classroom. I hope you are able to do this easily in your classroom as well.
What other pattern ideas are a hit with your students?

Freebie Fridays

June 21, 2012


While out in the world during the day (still not use to that!), I found these on clearance at Target! 
These are Scribble & Write and Count & Draw sets from Leapfrog.
 They were $11.44 each. I have a Target Credit Card, so I got an addition 5% off... so I *think* I got them for around $10.87 each. My school gave us a $20 gift card for teacher appreciation, so I got two of these for free! (I insist on using school gift cards on school items.)

I got two set of each for school and a set for my daughter at home. 
I think these will make perfect writing centers in the beginning of the year and with those low babies who need a lot of practice. 
(The bad part with Leapfrog is... when something like this goes on clearance it means they prob have something better and updated coming out soon.)

What other ideas can you think of for these items?

June 20, 2012

Reading Strategies

I know so many teachers out there who are using and loving Daily 5 (D5). I am on board as well!
I started this framework this past year, but I am working hard to make sure everything is set to go for this coming year. 
  I have seen people change this sign to FACE and say "This is the FACE of a Reader." I LOVE it and will prob do the same when I get back to my classroom. 
 I created a starter set for myself (yes, I have it available for you as well) and prepped it. This set is for any type of Literacy Stations and include a teacher and aid station.

I had a vision for my menu board for CAFE, but it didn't work. I had to modify. Here is a picture of my CAFE menu. I used my headers I created and added ribbon to them. I glued the ribbon on the top and bottom, and just a few dabs in the middle to stay down. I am going to use clothes pins with student names on the ribbon. There is also plenty of room for my CAFE Strategies (yes, I made them too! see below)
This is the back of a set cubbies. I painted it with magnetic paint and then chalk board paint.

Here are FREE CAFE signs for K and 1.
Grab them here for free.

If you have not done CAFE or D5 yet, you might not understand why you need these signs and a board. I didn't either until I started doing it.
-You need anchor charts to refer to every single day as a reminder to students of what they are to be doing in each station. (Remember the key is to model and model and model.)
-You also need the CAFE type board because you teach independent reading strategies to your students in mini-lessons daily or more often. (Some strategies cover Comprehension, other Accuracy, or Fluency, or Expanding Vocabulary). When they are reading to themselves, other, listening to reading, or reading with you... they are practicing these strategies.  (After all, no K student is going to get better at reading by just reading... they need strategies to teach them how to read correctly.)
-You display the strategies under the CAFE header it goes with AS YOU TEACH IT. You refer to the strategy often and so do they. Each student will put their name on what strategy they are working on. You know where they are, they know where they are... that is the purpose. (It is also a way to differentiate.)

My struggle was how do I explain these hard reading strategies to little ones? Esp in August when I am hoping they can write their name! Even before I thought about CAFE... I needed a visual way to represent what strategy I wanted my students to be working on. Are they going to backup and reread? Did the chuck the sounds for words they didn't know? (Or am I just going to keep telling them the answers and not let them think for themselves... guilty here!!!)

I got to work and created Reading Strategy cards with TONS of pictures and clues for reading strategies. I am not planning on using these with just Daily 5... that is only an option. I believe these strategies can be and should be used with every young reader out there. I think anyone using Literacy Work Stations and teaching reading needs these cards!!!

Here is an example of three strategies.
ALL the K strategies are included in this pack, so you don't have to buy both.
Here is my newest strategy cards covering the Kindergarten Common Core for English/Language Arts. This one is different than the others because it covers the wording and skills on the Common Core. It is different than the Reading Strategies for Young Readers.
Grab it here.
 I have gotten a lot of questions concerning my choice board and how that works... so I will answer that one next week. I hope this explains some of the CAFE system for you, but PLEASE get the book... it is way better detailed and has such great resources.

 I hope you know NOW why you need this book as well.  What CAFE questions do you have?

June 19, 2012

Kindergarten Daily 5 Book Study Part 2

Day 2 of the book study is being hosted by Caitlyn of Kindergarten Smiles
 1. Do you trust your students? How do you build this trust? Are you able to trust them and allow them to be independent throughout all aspects of your day? Are you going to be able to stay out of their way?
I will be honest. I trust SOME of my students; most of them. I do not trust all of them. I work to build trust, but some students are not trust worthy all the time. I like to find what I can trust them with and work with that!
I am going to trust my students with this framework because I am going to teach them and give them baby steps and reward their successes along the way. (baby steps... tiny baby steps for some.)
Staying out of their way is tough... I want to be with them, leaning them, guide them, CORRECTING them. It is tough to hear them read something wrong and not correct them.
2. How much choice do you give your students throughout the day? (would love for you to share some examples!) Do you go over your daily schedule with your students or is it just 'posted' in the room?
 This is a great question. I give my students as much of a choice as they can handle correctly but not too much that they are overwhelmed. I have to monitor and observe to see when students are ready for more AND when I need to take something away. 
For example, when I begin the Daily 5 choice board, I will only give them Read to Self, Read to others, and work with a teacher. We will work towards Listen to Reading and Word Work. (Another K teacher told me they don't even get into the choices until around October, just to give you an idea of when this happens.)

I don't go over my schedule nor do I post it, but we talk about it and stick to it every day. We talk about it more when something like a field trip changes our routine.

3. How are you going to create that sense of community where students will hold each other accountable?

I feel like the teachers set this example for the class. I treat my student how I expect them to treat each other. I hold them accountable to each other because their actions can positively and negatively affect each other.  I feel I create this in my classrooms by first getting to know each student and building that relationship with them. 

I have to work hard with my class on hold each other accountable. They don't always (usually) know how to problem solve nicely and that is really what accountability requires. I think I also work hard to hold each student accountable for themselves FIRST.

4. Student ownership in learning? How do you instill this in every child?

I find this to be true... some children want to learn, some children don't. I make learning as fun and exciting as I can. I can not make a child do something they don't want to do. I give more attention to good choices and such, therefore... any typical 5 year old wants attention and will make the good choice. I have seen past students who didn't take any ownership into their learning. I try and try and try... but honestly, sometimes for some students...
school is their soft place to fall. They know they will get a bathroom, food, and their basic needs met. Sometimes that is what I have to give them before ownership of learning can occur. And sometimes I have student who are not ready for ownership. They need to do Kindergarten for the second time to mature a little. I never give up, but I know this is something THEY have to do.

5. Stamina! How are you going to build stamina with reading? independent work? Will you use a timer? Will you set goals? ...

When I read this book, I was like... nope... not doing this. Not using the word, nor the timer... not.

 Yeah, I was wrong. They like the word "stamina" and can apply it to other things like running a race and working hard. I plan to build stamina in each area THEN going to a choice board. I will start with reading to self and word work. Then I will add Reading to others and Listening to Reading. I will use my choice board for any time when they can chose where they are going. I want them to feel comfortable with the choice board at each step. One thing I like about my choice board is that I can add or take away choices as needed.
My choice board elements are found here.
 I am not sure if I will be making a goal for each area. To be honest, I have to see what my students need and how they react to goals. Sometimes goals work great, but other times they overwhelm my class. I want the goal to be doing the structures and learning, not just reading for 15 minutes straight. (And let's face it, some 5 year olds are not ready to read for 15 in August.)

On another note, I (without knowing) violated copyright by making products for sale with the terms CAFE and/or Daily 5 in them. I have removed those titles from my activities and personally apologized to The Sisters who created the Daily 5. They were extremely understanding and kind. I can give away items with those terms on it, but not sell items.

Here are the links to my free Daily 5/CAFE items... 
(The CAFE signs are a new addition.)
Grab them here
Grab them here.
On a side note, I didn't KNOW this before I read both books, but while your students are so busy reading to self, others, listening, word working, etc... they should be practicing using the reading strategies you are teaching them in mini lessons. That is how CAFE ties into the Daily 5. Hope that clears up some things for you guys.