Sunday, June 26, 2016

Guided Reading Toolbox



Small group is soooooooo important in Kindergarten. Some would say it's important in every grade and I agree. It really gives you time to work the with children and find out where their strengths and weaknesses are. I have decided to really step up my small group game this coming year. Last year, I was so disorganized with it that it didn't get done like it should have. However, I learn from my mistakes and will make sure that I plan and organize this year so that doesn't become an issue. I started by making this guided reading toolbox to help. Toolboxes are fun and help keep you organized which I feel like is really going to improve my small group instruction time. Here's how I put it together. 


I got a storage container at Hobby Lobby. It was price at $8.99 but I used the 40% coupon so it wasn't that much. It was about $5.40 but its very deep and holds quite a bit which is why I got it. It also has movable trays on the inside so you can put the dividers where you need them based on what you are storing in there. It was very convenient. 
 I found some of these at Target. They were in the party section and some of these were at Hobby Lobby also in the party section.  All of the packages were 1.99-2.99 so it wasn't very expensive. I don't have witchy fingers but will be getting some when Halloween rolls around this year. :)

So how will I be using each of the items?

Cars- Letter Formation and Blending
Frogs- Segmenting and Sight Words (plan on flipping them into bowls with each correct answer)
Googly Finger Eyes- Reading and Pointing to words
Wands- Reading and as Pointers
Finger Lights- Pointing to Words
Finger Squishy Monsters- Reading and Retelling
Slinkys- Blending and Segmenting





I also have purchased a photo organizer to help me manage my small group which will have exit tickets and assessment task cards. 

You can find that post -----HERE------


Saturday, June 25, 2016

9 Ways to Use Your Photo Organizer




So I jumped on the bandwagon and decided to buy one of these rainbow colored photo organizers. It was so pretty and marked down from 39.99 to 23.99 at Michael's. How could I say no to that? Well I had a few things in mind on how to use them and I may actually buy another set because these containers are such a great size. I love that it is so compact and feels like a briefcase. Plus, let's face it... it's just so preeeetty! You can easily pull this out and only get which box you need for your activity. Here's a list of ways to use them in your classroom:


1.   Task cards- These are the perfect size to fit task cards and the color coded containers makes it easy to separate them by skill. 

2.   Craft supplies- These are perfect for washi tape, glue sticks, googly eyes, etc.

3.   Math Manipulatives - I use a ton of dollar spot mini erasers for my math manipulatives. The kids LOVE THEM. This would be the perfect way to store them.

4.   Exit tickets- 1/4 sheet size exit tickets will fit perfectly in here. Again the color coding makes it so easy to organizer.

5.   Guided Reading Tools- finger lights, mini slinky's, witches pointer fingers, etc. These are a great size for guided reading tools. 

6.   Anecdotal Notes- If you use sticky notes to take tons of anecdotal notes, these would be perfect for storing them. You could use to colors to organize by small groups or buy a couple of organizers and keep a box for each individual student.

7.   Organize Stickers- These are great for organizing your stickers! If you are a Kindergarten teacher like me then you can never find that pack of valentine stickers you bought a year ago and now it's Valentine's Day again! This would be a great way to keep them organized.

8.   Storing Classroom Labels- This would be great to store you smaller labels at the end of the year. Pieces of your focus wall, calendar, weather chart, bulletin board cutouts, even your letters that go on your bulletin boards would fit neatly into this organizer. 


9.   Center Storage- If most of your centers are printed and laminated like mine then this would be a great place to store them. You could put centers in each color and let your students get their box with the center inside to work on. Card matching games, handwriting practice, sorting, etc. 


So what am I personally going to use them for? I plan on using these for small group. I will be storing my task card assessments and exit tickets in here. We are changing over to 9 weeks so I haven't decided how I will break it down just yet but it will probably be by unit/skill.  Alphabet recognition, sound recognition, blending, sight words, addition, subtraction, composing and decomposing, graphing, coins are some examples of what I would use them for.  The reason that I may get a 2nd one is so that I have one for math and one for literacy. 

If you can think of other ways to use this organizer then I'd love to know. Leave me a comment below!


Thursday, June 16, 2016

How to Run an Effective Library Center



It may seem that the library center is a place that kids go to play in Kindergarten. Here's how my library center used to go:

Student spends 5 minutes going through books.
Student gets reading buddy.
Student finds a place to sit.
Student flips through book.
Student plays with reading buddy and whoever is in center with them.
Student goes to get another book.
Starts all over again.

Now, this isn't very effective and the students aren't really reading. What I decided to do was implement some accountability into this centers. I am a big proponent of recording sheets. All my centers have some type of accountability with them now. My tubs that are full of clip cards, puzzles, and matching games have recording sheets at the beginning of the year. Later in the year, I just use blank paper and show them how to record properly. Some teachers use journals and that is good too. My suggestion is to use a guided sheet for the library center. My answer is a book report.



They students must turn in this sheet before they get their next book. I also do the same thing with the listening center although, they are truly engaged during that center.


As far as the talking goes, that is bane of every teachers life but I have found that if I let the responsible kids read to each other, it motivates the rest of the class to ditch their "stuffed animal" reading buddy and upgrade to "read to a friend." So this is an incentive to do well in the library center and has worked well so far!

I also mentioned that students would spend 5 minutes picking out a book and leave a huge mess on my bookshelf when putting the books back. I decided to change up my library from a bookshelf to something much more kindergarten friendly. 

First, I bought these magazine holders from Ikea.

They were fairly cheap considering the colored ones from teacher stores cost me 14.99 for a pack of like 6! RIDICULOUS. These were on sale at the time for like 4.99 a pack. I bought a ton!

Next I labeled my holders with these labels and also labeled every single book in my library. This probably took the longest of everything. Partially because I didn't realize I need to print the book labels on avery labels. I cut them out and taped them on. It took FOREVER. Lesson learned. GET AVERY LABELS if you plan on labeling your books.


I looked on the seller's TpT site and it doesn't look like these are for sale anymore. Not sure why because I've enjoyed them thoroughly! I may change it up in the future just so I have a different and  more modern theme but not for a whiiiile because this takes a HOT MINUTE!!!

The seller is Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten so if you are interested in these you may be able to contact her. Here they are in action:

I also saved space by putting these on top of my math center storage. Perfect for making the most out of my space. 

I used to dread when students went to this center and now it's wonderful. My class chooses this center often. I will be doing a post on how I manage centers in the future. My room is modeled after Greg Smedley of The Kindergarten Smorgasbord. I 100% believe in giving students choice in their centers as the primary means of engagement. 


So there it is... how to keep students accountable and your library organized. This combination makes for an effective libary center.

Any tips that you may have for keeping your library center running effectively, please comment below!

Trampolines in the Classroom



I was inspired by Greg Smedley of The Kindergarten Smorgasbord to get a trampoline for my classroom. I wasn't sure that it would be approved because... Well come on.... It's a TRAMPOLINE for Pete’s sake. 

But, there has been a very big push for Kindergarten this year and "thinking outside the box" styles of learning so I asked and well.....

Ask and you shall receive! Not only did it get approved but our whole grade level got them and I didn't have to purchase it myself.

Because we got the so late in the year, the main use for them was behavior management. We use a clip chart at our school (I know the ooooole dreaded clip chart.) Well, I rewarded my silver and gold students with 20 jumps for silver and 100 jumps for gold! It was great because all the kids would count together and watch. It was extremely positive motivation.

I would also give students 10 jumps if I just caught them doing something extra special. If they were nice, or being perfect in the all when others were pressuring them to do the wrong thing, then I would say, “Great job on staying quiet when your neighbors where trying to talk to you. You can have 10 jumps when we get back to class.”  It was a great way to give a reward to a student that may not have been a "silver" that day but certainly had moments deserving of a reward. It was fantastic!

I can't wait to think of other uses for the trampoline next year when I have more time with it.

I didn’t have very many students trying to mess with it or catapult off of it. I was a little worried that may happen but my kids were definitely more mature at the end of the year so this wasn’t an issue.

The beginning of year may be different. I will probably not take out the trampoline until we have our routines and procedures down for moving around the room so that this doesn’t become an issue.

Do you have a trampoline in your classroom? Any ideas on how to use it or how you implement it from the beginning?  I'd love to know!


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Top 5 Tips For New Teachers

My top 5 tips for new teachers.

Mostly this is my advice from mistakes that I have made.

Structure and Routine- Kindergarten students need structure and routine. In fact, all students of every age need structure and routine. Find something and that is researched based and stick with it. Don't change it up every 2 weeks because you think it isn't work. Research shows that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. It's even LONGER with children in my opinion.

Don't stay until 9 pm every night! I did this for months during my first year. It didn't make that big of a difference. It doesn't matter how much you plan, most of the day will be spent winging it because the kiddos are masterminds when it comes to throwing your perfectly laid out lesson plans off track.

Get and stay organized. I planned so much time decorating and getting my "room ready" that I didn't think about how to organize for small groups, guided reading, parent contact... etc. Organize what you will be using daily. What you really need to think about is how can your organize with something that will make teaching easier. I didn't do this and I really wish that I would have. The triple border bulletin boards with hand painted apples can wait.

-Breaking the rules is okay. Saaaay Whaaaa? Are you tryin to get me fired? No no. What I mean when I say this is... don't panic if you are supposed to be teaching math but you need to let the kids outside to play for a little 10 minute break. If you and your kids are loosing your minds, put on some GoNoodle and dance it out with KooKoo Kangaroo (my fav.)  It is okay to not be perfect. I had it in my head that I would make sure everything was perfect. IT WILL NEVER BE PERFECT! But if you change your mindset, you will find that everyday can still be great! Even if you didn't get to everything on the lesson plan.

-Build relationships with parents. This can be intimidating for a first year teacher. I know that I didn't feel very confident and I thought that the more I talked to parents or asked for help, they would think I couldn't handle things and they would surely know that this was my first year and then they'd lose faith in me and it would be the end of the world as I knew it. So what happened? I ending up having to do all the parties myself, buy all the candy, plan EVERYTHING. It was truly a pain and had I just build some relationships and let the parents know from day one that I would need them to help make the year successful, it would have made my life so much easier.

So there it is! My top 5 tips for New Teachers.

Just breath and know that you will make it through this. Every year after this will be easier!