Playdoh fun

The last few days before break I had a few fun surprises in store for the kids... one of which was this awesome playdoh recipe I found from nurturestore. It was really easy to do, and didn't require cooking on the stovetop (which many recipes do, if you've ever tried it at home). My own kids, and my kindergarteners, loved it!
Here is the recipe:

1 cup of salt (I doubled this recipe for 18 kids and still had a chunk left over)
2 tsp of cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 cups flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups boiling water  (I brought in my coffee maker from home, let it run through and used the hot water and it worked out fine)
2 tsp vanilla
Food coloring
Glitter (We did red w/red and green w/gold)

Combine the salt and spices. Add in flour, oil, cream of tartar, water, and vanilla. Mix to form a dough. Add food coloring and glitter (Use gloves at first and knead).


Voilia!  Fun, pretty, and it smells amazing!




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Clicking

Ahh, December. I think December and January are probably my two favorite months to be a kindergarten teacher. Why?  Because that is the time of year where letters and sounds and reading and writing really starts clicking. We are learning what writers do... and are getting really good at remembering our finger spaces and stretching out our words.  :)

 Yesterday in phonics one of my littles, totally by herself, stretched out and wrote the word "valintin" for Valentine!  I was so impressed!
One new literacy center that we will start this Friday will help us along with practicing beginning and ending sounds. I named it "First and Last" (after break we will be focusing on the "middle" :)  I integrated it into the magnetic words center, and the kids even can self-check their own work when they are done. 
              (Teacher friends, click here if this is something you would like to use in your classroom.)

Have a great rest of the week everyone!  I am home with a sick boy today...and am about to do some disinfecting-- wish me luck! :)
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Fun with Jan Brett!

At the library today one of the kids picked up a book from the display and proudly declared, "Look Mrs. Jones... JAN BRETT!!!" You would have thought she was a 10 year old talking about Justin Bieber. :) Needless to say, we just ended week 1 of our two week Author Study on Jan Brett... so Jan's books are a hot commodity. This week centered around The Mitten and The Three Snow Bears, with a few other titles sprinkled in. Next week is The Hat, The Wild Christmas Reindeer, and comparing/contrasting Snow Bears with Goldilocks. 

Story organizers

Story sequencing

Literacy centers like this Sight Word Sentence Mix Up
Choose your own story Flip Book

Sequencing activities


 If you would like to use this in your classroom, you can find it here at my TpT shop!

We will lead up to Christmas break having some fun with the Gingerbread stories, our first Field Trip to see Rudolph, and lots of holiday excitement. Here's our craft for next week, ripped paper wreaths. Doesn't everything look better with glitter?  Super easy to make!
Just cut the center out of a paper plate, grab some different shades of green construction paper, some glue, and some glitter. Kids rip paper by hand and glue to cover the plate. Add some dabs of glue and glitter for holly berries, and a bow if you'd like. (Although I think next year I will use a real bow, perhaps?)
Have fun!
12

Caps for Sale! And fun with shapes :)

Our new favorite story is most DEFINITELY the old favorite Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina.
The kids just cannot get enough of it... and its become the favorite interactive read aloud for a bunch of reasons.

1. The peddler's caps. Who doesn't love some strange guy that walks around with a tower of hats on his head?  Plus, they are only 50 cents, so its quite the bargain too.
2. Monkeys. Who doesn't love some mischievous monkeys?
3. Fun verse. I don't know which part is better, a hand shaking, foot stomping peddler yelling "You, monkeys you, you give me back my caps!"  or the taunting monkeys giving it right back to him with their "Tsz, tsz, tsz!"
4. Perfect reader's theater. The kids have been BEGGING to use our "free play hats" to act out the story during their free time. Yes, no blocks, no kitchen center, no playdoh, they want to act out this story. Ahh... how can you NOT love this! Although their voices DID get a little loud for the classroom with all the peddler bellowing and monkey screeching, could I quell the excitement of reading and interacting with a story? No way! Had to snap these pics...

The peddler (yellow hat) and the monkeys :)


This peddler taking a snooze against the tree :)


I'm working on a new literacy center that I think the kids will enjoy. I'm taking our favorite read aloud verses, and putting them in a word work center where the kids can piece together their favorite verse on the pocket chart and record it. I don't think we are quite ready for the Caps for Sale verse, but I think we will be soon.


As we finish our first unit in Math Expressions, we are getting really good at identifying shapes, drawing them, and reading and writing our numbers. Today we got interactive with our shapes, and a big piece of yarn tied together at the ends made the perfect tool. We talked about how our fingers were the vertices, and the number of sides = the number of vertices  Then we got creative and stretched and pulled our yarn with our partner to transform it into different shapes. Rectangles and triangles were easy to make.... but squares a little harder, and trapezoids even more. Either way, it was fun-- and we forgot it was math time :)



2

Turkey Time!

Okay, if you don't want a song stuck in your head... I'm warning you... STOP reading right now!
Still here? Good! If you are looking for little brain break in the month of November, a little "Turkey Time" may be just what the doctor ordered. First of all, I just have to say I <3 Harry Kindergarten. If you are a Kindergarten teacher, or a parent of a 4 or 5 year old and have never heard of him-- get to you tube or google him pronto!  He makes the most catchy, cute songs for kids. You will find your kiddos humming and groovin all.the.time! And I am humming and groovin too...you just CAN'T help it!

Here is our current fav. WARNING. Don't roll your eyes with the first verse. You have to listen and participate to make it fun. Then LOOKOUT!  The kids will be begging for Turkey Time! :)



Okay, and I had to post this action shot. We like to have our Turkey Time at the end of the day while waiting for dismissal. But any time of the day is a good time!


9

New center & recent happenings

Can you believe its already November!? You know that means Election Day, and Veterans Day, then Thanksgiving... and the following week is DECEMBER! Craziness!  (Okay, trying not to get ahead of myself.)
I threw a new twist into our magnetic letter center this week, and it is a HIT!  I made these mats to go along with the letters we are focusing on for the week. The kids read the word, make the word with our magnetic letters, and then write using a dry erase marker. Its easy, fun, and better yet-- reusable! (My teacher blogging friends-- you can find it here or click the picture).


Some pics of recent Kindergarten happenings:

With our fourth grade Reading Buddies outside on the front lawn

Listening to "Goodnight Goon" on Halloween, read to by Principal Muscarella

And my Pinterest-inspired "Diction-Fairy" costume! The idea came from Lillidale's blog post here.

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Literacy Centers

Some updates from our classroom.... last week we started our Literacy Center rotations, and the kids have been LOVING it!  I decided to do mini-groups of 3, and we do 2 rotations per day. I made these new labels for one of my pocket charts (teachers you can find the labels here) but then changed it up and transferred all of the files to my smart board. Love that even more! Now with a little finger, I can switch the centers around. Can you say easy peasy?  Here's the pocket chart way:
And the Smart board way. (*Update-- I've had some questions about sharing this Smart Notebook File. I jerry-rigged this setup on my smartboard for my classroom use, but I can't share it because I can't give away unsecured clipart. The labels are only available in the above format. Sorry!**)

 Magnetic words with the beginning sounds we were practicing last week:


And these are the "Magic Reading Wands" that we are using for our poetry center. 
They REALLY help us read our poems better. :)
Have a great week everyone!
5

We are writers & readers

We are learning about things that writers and illustrators do... and we are becoming them ourselves!  In Reader's Workshop, we have learned different ways to "read" our favorite read-aloud stories with our reading buddies, and are adding real things we can read to our book boxes every week. So far we have our poetry journal, class name chart, Brown Bear book, alphabet linking chart, a sight word book, and one of our letter books. We are beginning to learn "popcorn" (sight) words and are using them in our writing and reading now!

In Writer's Workshop, we are learning how to be just like our favorite authors. Here is our anchor chart for what we can do when we write.
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Triplet sandwich!

I am lucky to have 3 of the sweetest triplets I have ever met in my class this year!  We couldn't help the photo op today... as one of my lovely aides and myself made a little *triple decker* LES sandwich!


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Writer's workshop



Our writer's workshop is now in full swing.. and can I just say I <3 Kindergarten writing!  I love the stories the kids tell with their pictures and we are getting better and better at labeling. The kids are learning to strrrrrrrrrrretch their words out and write sounds that they hear.

This student wrote about going to church (TRC-- backwards :) and playing. LOVE the details in the illustrations and the labels for
"me" and plants!


Once we *really* get into writing, my kids love being "super star writers."  I made this poster to help us remember all the things great writers do.

Like?  Get it for free here. 






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Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!

One of my favorite books I love to use in September to get our little heads geared up for letters and learning.

Love how our bulletin board came out this year. I think the mini lesson on drawing faces went really well... these came out adorable!



3

Concentration!!!!


I just love this picture!  This is day 5 of kindergarten and they are FOCUSED!
It might have something to do with one of my favorite beginning of the year activities.... Dry Erase Names!
I LOVE this name writing practice activity!  Its super easy to do.
*Download a tracer font (I use Trace font from Font Space)
*Type each of your kiddos first names on one word document
*Type last name on separate page
*Copy so that they are back to back (first name on one side, then first/last on back)
*Put in your red "where to start" dots for each letter in their name (This is a must!)
*Laminate
*VOILA!!!

The kids LOVE practicing writing their name on these! I've found it really helpful to use the first few weeks of school when we are capital crazy and unsure of letter formation in our names.






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Love

Ain't it grand?  There's nothing like a mother's love for her baby on their first day of kindergarten. We made these "Kissing Hand" projects for the kids to take home the first day.... and to make their mamas feel better about sending their babies off to the "big world." There's also nothing like getting into some paint on the first day of school! Thank goodness for my wonderful aide who has no fear! :)

 







There is also a note on the back of the paper that reads:
Dear Parents,
On the first day of kindergarten, we read the book
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.  
It is a story about a little raccoon named Chester
who was anxious about leaving home and going to school.  
So his mother decided to share a "family secret" with him-
the "kissing hand".  
She gave him a kiss on his paw and told him
to press the kiss to his cheek whenever
he missed her.
We know that you, too, may be anxious
about your new Kindergartener going to
school for the first time.  So your child has
made a "kissing hand" for YOU.  
(Feel free to use as needed.)
3

First blog... I mean, day, jitters

Ready... Set... go! It's almost the start of another year. Another set of beginnings, first times, and brand new faces.   I'm sure all teachers wonder the same thing... who is more nervous, us or the kids?! My room is all ready, plans are all set... its time to go!

Play-doh waiting for little hands! :)

Greeting name chart (names on back side)

Some first week read alouds

Mailboxes and BEE folders ready!

Clips waiting for some glitter star stickers!



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