April 2013 - Mrs. Jones's Kindergarten

Literacy Center Freebie!

Going on a bear hunt?


We are goin' on a....
Here is a fun new literacy center to get them up and movin around!  The kids pick a stick, and then search the room and word wall for words that contain that letter.
Teachers, all you need to do is:
1. Take some popsicle sticks and write letters on the bottom (I did all letters except the weird ones like x and z)
2. Copy this recording sheet.
3. Put in center with clipboards and some fun pencils.
4. That's it! The directions are on the recording sheet too.

Let me know if you try it! :)

Five for Friday.... a REALLY important one!

Hey! I am such a blog slacker lately, so I decided to go the extra mile for my link up with Doodle Bugs for their Five for Friday Linky Party. Five randoms for the week? YES! But I am treating you to some pretty sweet, important things this week. But I will leave the most important, exciting one to the end. (Don't peek! It will ruin the surprise.)

1. Let's begin with our new science unit and a little schema activation...
We talk about how our schema is not right or wrong, but how some of our schema may be a misconception-- something we thought was true, but really isn't. We got right down to business by talking about that last post-it on the bottom left (in case you can't read it, is says that seeds will only grow in a garden with dirt) and took a vote-- 14 kids agreed. So, we began our experiment. 
Sunflower seeds + wet paper towel + sunlight:
We are making observations daily. Day 3 was today and....wait for it....
We have life! After only 3 days, just about all the kids's seeds are sprouted. 
Teachers, you can find my Primarily Plants unit, with all of my science, math and literacy activities here

2. Okay, next random. Our math program, Math Expressions, has us practicing writing our numbers... a LOT. I will say that I have noticed a big difference not only in their number formation, compared to my previous class (who did not use Math Expressions), but in their number ID as well. So it does work. But, it's kind of boring just sitting and writing numbers day in and day out... right? Wrong. Not in my class. Not when you bring out the old online stopwatch
Now, before you get in a tizzy and tell me how kids this young shouldn't be timed... let me tell you they were not being timed against anything. It was just the fact that I said I was starting the timer and I wanted to see how many minutes it would take them to write 1-50, and something in that sentence made them all get down to business. Not a peep to be heard, they all worked like little machines writing their little numbers. And when they were done, they raised their hand and I wrote the time on their paper. You would have thought they won the lottery. 
The next day, we did the back of the paper (because we can't be writing numbers all day, you know). And on went the timer (actually they begged for it) and then we wrote down their new time. Would you believe some wrote a whole minute faster than the previous day? Success!

3. And now, for my teacher friends and parents looking for a fun little game to practice math facts, I give you  the SNAP game. I love this game. I was a math teacher for many years before trekking down to kinderland, and this was a game I played with the kids all the time. Honestly, I don't know where it came from, or if I made it up in my own mind-- but its easy to play and fun. 
All you do is take 5 connecting cubes or unifix cubes or 5 pennies if you will-- we are practicing facts 0-5, so that's what we use. 
Partners sit across from each other. Partner 1 takes the cube train and puts it behind their back. They say "1--2--3--SNAP!" and (still behind their back) break the cube train into 2 pieces. They scoop one hand around and show their partner. The partner says the math fact to tell the "hiding" number behind their partner's back. The sweetie above would say 
"1 + 4 = 5"
 to tell his partner that he knows there are four behind her back. Voila! The partner uncovers her hiding cubes and they switch roles. The point is for the facts to eventually become automatic, and they won't have to use their cube train to figure out the answer. Simple and fun! Teachers, let me know if you try this game in your classroom. :)

4. Now that something super important is happening (I will get to that for #5, just hang on a second), I am determined to get super organized with my teaching materials. I took a baby step the other day and decided the ziplock baggie with all my word wall words was just annoying to rifle through every week when I go to put the new words up. Easy fix-- a coupon organizer from the dollar store! Ugh, this will save me at least 3 minutes a week. :)

5. Okay, if you got this far, I love you. And as promised, I have some really important news to share. No, I did not win the lottery or make it onto American Idol (does anyone even watch that anymore?). I know many of you who know me in real life or through the teacher blogging world, know that I was really, REALLY certain I was going to be laid off this year-- after 10 years in my district. They have cut and cut and cut over the past 3 years and I was certain this year was it. So yeah, I am laid off. Just kidding! Would you believe I am SAFE! I am going to still be in kindergarten doing what I love in a school that I love for at least another year. I am STOKED beyond belief! Don't get me wrong, I made it l.i.t.e.r.a.l.l.y. by the skin of my teeth. I'm not looking long term anymore (which is sad) but I am just taking every day as it comes. Thank you to everyone that has been pulling for me. :) 

And that, is my mega post. Happy weekend everyone. :)

HELLO Spring!

Well, it looks like our lovely spring break is coming to an end. And you know how we didn't break- oh, say... 38 degrees all week here in lovely western New York?  Well whaddya know, Monday is supposed to be 65 and sunny! Darn you, mother nature with your cruel tricks!  Anyway, we did manage to get out a bit, and visit the otters,

and Brady was happy because he got to "take a picture of the elephant's butt" at the zoo. Oh my. Yes, that's super sweetheart. 

But yes... back to school on Monday! I do miss all of my little sweeties at school and am looking forward to entering the homestretch!  Now that we've finished our vowel study, we have a week of vowel review centers from my Spring Common Core pack, then on to blends and digraphs. My Building CVC Words magnetic letter center was such a hit in my classroom, that I decided to kick it up a notch for our next unit. 
This time, we are building the word, checking it, and then writing it. (Yes, see the title? Build, Check, & Write!)  Teacher friends-- you can try out a sample here on google docs.  You can find my Magnetic Letter Blend Pack here and my Literacy center Blends Unit (L, R, and S Blends) here

One more thing... be sure to stop by my fabulous friend Nicole Rios's Huge Giveaway she is hosting on her blog. My CVC word pack is in the Kindergarten goodies that are up for grabs! Definitely go enter... This one is CUHRAZAY big!

Happy Spring everyone!
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