Monday, July 30, 2012

Kindergarten Newsletter

Back To School

It's almost that time...time to start thinking about back to school. If you're anything like me - you're crawling out of bed as late as possible (with having a 2 year old that might mean you get to sleep in until 7:30) and postponing shower-time because you keep finding things on Pinterest that you have to pin for later. I decided to dig my newsletter out of the archives and have it ready for sprucing up. 

I've included a snapshot of the newsletter that I send home to my families on the first day of school. There are 4 pages total that you can download and edit in PowerPoint. To print them, just make your changes and save it as a PDF instead of a PowerPoint. Then you can print it.

The fonts I used in this are newsletter are from Hello Literacy (Jen Jones) called Hello Basic. In the past I used DJ Doodlers and Doodle Tipsy. You will have to install the fonts before opening powerpoint to get them to work. Sometimes you have to restart your whole computer so the new font menu will load. These fonts can be found for free here.

Click here for the Kindergarten News freebie.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Teach K!

Well, I'm starting to think about going back to school. I actually feel pretty lucky given that I have a whole month left before I have to go back. Other teachers in the bloggy world are already back in school - sheesh!

I'd like to share some of my favorite ideas that I learned from the I Teach K! conference in Las Vegas, NV. I will credit the presenter as the source, and share how I could use the idea in Kindergarten.

Helping English Learners

Source: Vanessa Levin

I got so much information from Vanessa's presentation I was super excited! Her presentation was my favorite of all the ones I attended. First, she stresses that when interacting with ELLs you need to make sure your body language is appropriate (expressions match what you're saying, eye contact is culturally appropriate, your are friendly, you speak clearly not too slow, and you avoid using slang). 

I am certainly going to play one of her games that works on positional words. It is played like this. In a pocket chart put several different pictures (whatever you want). Hide a picture of a cat behind one of the other pictures and ask students, "Where is the cat?" They will say something like: "Is it behind the bird?" Then you'll prompt them to be more specific - and they'll have to say something like, "Is it behind the blue bird next to the scissors?" The game goes on and on until the students find the cat. They can work on positional words (above, near, next to, below, behind, etc) playing this fun game. 

Word of the Day: Print a vocabulary card with a picture and attach it to the board. Discuss it in the morning each day. If kids can use it correctly throughout the day - they can ring the teacher bell.

Interactive Writing

Source: Kim Adsit

Interactive writing is when the teacher and student share the pen to write lists, sentences, or whatever they want. Here is an example of interactive writing done by Kim Jordano's class (this is a different Kim). Swing by Kim's class - check out her blog. Basically you brainstorm words with the class that are on a topic and use the lesson to focus on phonics patterns, sounding out words (alphabetic principle). 

Kim Adsit shared many tricks for interactive writing. One that stuck with me is to use a large chart pad. Fold the top-most piece of paper up in half and clip it up. Kids will only be writing on the bottom 1/2 of a paper. On the folded piece of paper the teacher can model letter formation and any examples necessary to complete the lesson. Also, make a hollowed-out frame using something like a piece of cardboard. Wherever you want students to write, hold the frame in place and students will write inside the box. This helps with letter sizing so there are no gigantic letters that stretch up and down the whole page. 

Have a plan! Here are some of Kim Adsit's suggestions for what to do for interactive writing: 
List word families (think of rhyming words: cat, rat, hat, bat)
List favorite read aloud vocabulary words (characters, setting, etc.), 
Make labels to identify things in stories like the Gingerbread Man.
Write "how-to" steps (make a snowflake, make a card, etc.)

Vocabulary Word Walls 

Source: Rick DuVall, Ph.D. -  for a free printable click here.

To increase student vocabulary create a large poster that is sectioned off into ABC parts. Read a story more than one time. Then the teacher & students find interesting high-level vocabulary words from the story and write them on the chart. You could do this in 2 ways - just do it as a class on an over-sized poster, or have students record words on their own worksheet. Make time every day to work on vocabulary learning - it tends to take a back-seat to phonics, but make it important again.

Math Music & Movement

Source: Jack Hartmann 

Fun filled songs abound on Jack Hartmann's math cd called: Every 1 Counts . Click on the link under the pic to go to his website. My favorite songs are the Rock n' Roll Birthday Song and the Country Line Count. He encourages kids to move and dance while learning numbers, and calendar math (days of the week, etc.) He also teams up with HarryKindergarten to make videos of his songs. Check out him on YouTube.

Reading Activities

Source: Patricia Pavelka

One idea I got from Patricia was retelling stories. She recommends having Kindergarteners use an empty paper grocery sack to have students design "story scene." She encourages having kids draw the setting from a story on the blank side of the grocery bag. To help struggling students, supply them with one "prop" such as a pre-made bridge to glue onto the setting scene for the Three Billy Goats Gruff, pre-made houses for the 3 Pigs, etc. Then, students draw the story characters on their own and use them to retell the story with a friend. The props can be stored inside of the bag along with the book that is being retold.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What Happens in Vegas...(the non-educational part)

First, I want to say sorry Top Teachers - I was dancing the night away in the Bourbon Room and didn't make it to the blogger meet-up. If you're a 30-something like me, you'd probably love this dance floor. I think the highlight of my Vegas trip (after hours of course) was dancing to an old-school New Kids on the Block song while watching the video on that big screen. And yes, that man is wearing a wolf hat and tight zebra pants. He was the club DJ and totally called us out as we walked by..."HEY TEACHERS...COME ON IN!" How did he know? Oh, and I forgot to mention that we bumped into someone famous. I'm 99% sure it was Rod Stewart. Cool, huh?!

 Here is my Kindergarten team. I'm in the middle. The I Teach K! conference was a super way for us to bond.

Out and about I found this gorilla in Paris and I just had to mimic it. Why do people do that? It's like there's an urge to do it. I sat by and did some people-watching and it was so funny seeing everyone pose.

Ok, I did more than just have fun with my friends in Vegas. I just don't want to dig through my suitcase to find my SDE conference notes. I'll do that later. Anyhow, happy weekend!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Printable Class Jobs Polka Dots

I created these job cards (by making template on powerpoint) for my sister who teachers 3rd grade. She wanted something more grown up than the kind with clipart. If you like the polka dot job cards, grab the instant download freebie HERE. This is a power point document so you just add the text box over the white area, type, change the font and size to what you like. Then print it. :) You'll need to make sure you have the DJ Doodlers font installed, otherwise the font won't show up right. If you don't have that font you can grab it for free here. Open the download using PowerPoint, and click in the text box to edit the job titles that you want. To resize them, you can easily drag and stretch the corners of the jobs to make them the size you want. 

On a side note, I just organized my blog and tagged a bunch of my posts that involve freebies. If you are interested in checking out some of my goodies, look at my Freebie section on the left of my blog. 

Also, see you in Vegas at the I Teach K! conference! I'm sure I'll be inspired and have more to blog about after I come back home!here.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Loving Wisdom

Hi friends, it's time to join Fabulously First's linky party. Deb is collecting advice for new teachers. To link up, copy the template into powerpoint, add a text box in the area you want to write, and save it as a jpg to insert into your blog. I can't wait to hear what you have to say.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Donor's Choose Project

I thought I'd share my latest Donor's Choose project, Apples for the Children, here just in case anybody wants to donate to a good cause. I saw Jessica Sanford's great idea for an iPod nano listening center and I had to follow suit! Basically you load audio books from cds onto iTunes, and then download the stories onto nanos. Then students can scroll through the nano to hear the story of their choosing and engage with a book. 

I wrote up a grant request for 6 iPod nanos and I really hope the grant gets funded. If you want to know how it works, I'll direct you to Jessica's blog because she did a great job of explaining it. I already have the same set of audio books and a large Clifford collection of books on cd. I hope my students will be blessed with this present this year!

Happy Summer friends!