Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Day 4 of the 2014 NAEYC Convention

The bad part was setting my alarm clock for a Saturday morning...
The great part was going back to the NAEYC Convention for some more great inspiration...
I loved a presentation by Judy Ross on extending read-alouds through scientific inquiry and math explorations.  I will definitely be having my students create aluminum foil boats to see if their gingerbread man cookies can float on water.  We will also be counting how many coffee filter "caps" a student can wear....
I collected lots of great ideas from this presentation.

So, in celebration of having 998 Likes on Facebook....
And having picked up lots of great freebies at the NAEYC Convention....
I am going to give a way a bag of goodies to one person who comments on this post.

The winner will receive
3 items (of your choice) from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store
A T-shirt from Follet:  Red: A Crayon's Story by Michael Hall (XL)
The Book:  You, Me, and the ABCs by Michael J. Rosen
The Book:  Their Name is Today Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World by Johann Christoph Arnold.
2015 Classroom Craft Calendar by Discount School Supply
Samples of Scholastic's My Big World (Nov-Dec) and Instructor magazine
Samples of Highlight's High Five Celebrating Early Childhood
Assorted posters, coupons, and hand outs
In a bag from Highlights.

Please comment here with your favorite November or December classroom activity.  I will choose my favorite. The winner will be chosen on Monday, November 17th and must be a resident of the U.S.  

Good Luck!

Have you signed up for the Gingerbread Exchange yet?


Saturday, November 8, 2014

Day 3 of the 2014 NAEYC Conference

On Friday morning, I saw Michael J. Rosen present on his book, You, Me, and the ABCs.  He shared many wonderful multi-sensory ideas for caregivers to use in introducing letters to children.  My new favorite is having the kids (sitting in a chair) "write" letter with the toe of one foot.  I will be using this for sight words too!  We were each given a copy of the book in both English and Spanish.  They are available in bulk for as low as $2 a copy by contacting youmeabcs@icloud.com if your school might like to order them for parents.

I also loved a presentation by Peter Nosalik on Learning math without knowing it: Fun ways to integrate early numeracy into all subject areas.  

He shared great ideas for combining numeracy, art, and science.  One of the items he shared were these Straws and Connectors.  I am already a HUGE fan of these.  I purchased them in
August to improve the choices in the block center.
My students love to build large structures with them at center time.  We have also used them to create cubes, rectangular prisms, etc.  They are QUIET.  I store them in a clear shoebox so they do not require a lot of shelf space.  I find that girls are just as drawn to them as boys.
Peter pointed out that they could be used to show how long a whale or dinosaur would be.  I can't wait to try that!  (This is an Amazon affiliate link, but the views I am sharing are my own.)

Check back in the next few days.  I have picked up so many great freebies from all the vendors here, that I have decided to bundle some of them as a giveaway!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Day 2 of the 2014 NAEYC Conference

Today was another amazing experience!  There is no way that I can fit it all in one blog post....
It started with a great presentation called Scientific inquiry: Independent activities for science centers in early childhood classrooms by Robbie Polan.  One of my favorite ideas from this session was to send home a Scientist of the week kit (including lab coat) for each child in the class to do an experiment with their family.  We got to see and explore Robbie's wonderful assortment of science trays.  The great news is that she shared her Wiki which includes photos of each science center and all the information you need to put them together.  The Wiki is completely free. (Disregard the request for access- everything is available to anyone.)   Gotta love such a generous teacher! Here's the link: earlychildhoodscience.pbworks.com. Enjoy!

I'll be sharing more that I discovered today in future posts.  For now, I just want to share a photo that was taken of me with Vanessa Levin of Pre-K Pages at a blogger get-together this evening.

I got to meet the most amazing group of bloggers and take home some really sweet goodies.  And I get to go back to the convention again tomorrow!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 1 of the 2014 NAEYC Conference

Lucky me- the NAEYC is holding their annual conference in Dallas this week, and I get to go to it!  It was about a 40 minute drive for me, but I sat next to teachers from as far away as Costa Rica!

This morning,  I attended a wonderful presentation on Conscious Discipline called Discipline for the Most Demanding: From Chaos to Calm by Dr. Becky Bailey & Kim Jackson.  They were a lot of fun to listen to and they really GET the real issues we all deal with.  Yes, we did get up and do all the motions. There are many, many, many free resources at: ConciousDiscipline.com.  

In the afternoon, I attended Kindergarten and the Common Core It's as easy as ABC! presented by Kathy Brown and Sarah Martino.  Wow- they are two inspiring teachers!  Sarah student taught in Kathy's classroom many years ago and they really made a connection.  They have a TeachersPayTeachers Store called Can You Read It? Yes We Can!
I collected lots of ideas from them.  My students will love their  songs for Character, Setting, Plot, and Reading for Information.  I am also looking forward to using their idea of having each student in the class write a letter to another classmate (and the classmate reads it) to break up the routine of writing in journals every day.  They gave away many door prizes.  I won their Patriotic Math and Literacy Bundle.  I will be busy printing before Veteran's Day!  
If you want to see Kathy and Sarah yourself, here are links to two free webinars:

Yes, it was worth the hours of planning it took to get ready for a sub for THREE DAYS!  I can't wait to go back tomorrow morning for more great classroom inspiration.  


Friday, October 31, 2014

2014 Gingerbread Exchange

The annual Pre-K/Kindergarten Gingerbread Man Exchange is back by popular demand.

Veronica sent me this photo of her map from last year.  I love it!

I am pretty swamped with kindergarten and other projects at the moment, so I have come up with a more self-serve style of swap this year.  If you want to participate, you can go to either of two Sign-up Genius links.  You will add your mailing address to a list and mail ONE paper gingerbread man to each class on your list by December 3rd, 2014.  You should receive one gingerbread man back from each of the other classes on your list.

Please, please, please....
look at the other addresses on the list you are signing up on.  If your state already appears more than once, please go down to another list.  Most participants want to send and receive gingerbread men from classes all over the country. (Likewise, if there are two classes from your school participating, please sign up on different lists.)

When mailing your paper gingerbread men, please keep these things in mind:

Please do not include any candy or food items.  The gingerbread men can be decorated with ribbon, lace, stickers, paint, markers, etc.
Please include a short note telling a little about your class, school, or hometown.
The kids love to see a picture of your class if you are able to include one.
Please be sure to mail your gingerbread men by December 3rd.  Last year we had lots of weather delays.  I am hoping this earlier deadline will ensure that all the gingerbread men arrive before Christmas holidays begin.

Here's the link if you want to mail 12 Gingerbread men:

Here's the link if you want to mail 20 Gingerbread men:

If you realize that you want to change the list you are signed up on, you can add and/or delete yourself. You can also fix errors in your address, etc.
Please do not make any more changes after Nov. 30th, since people will be addressing envelopes by then.

If you have a question that hasn't been covered here, please email me at growinginprek@gmail.com. Again, I am really hoping that this will kind of take care of itself this year :).

I would love to post pictures of your bulletin boards if you email them to me.

The GrowinginPreK Facebook Page is just 15 away from 1000 likes.  Please make my day and help me reach 4 digits!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Literacy Stations - Beginning of the Year

Here's a peek at some of the literacy stations we have been doing during the first weeks of kindergarten:

I purchased these foam alphabet puzzles at the Dollar Tree.  I already had the box from a Lakeshore activity.  The kids take turns reaching in and pulling out a letter.  If they need it for their puzzle frame, they keep it.  If they already have that letter, they return it to the box and the next player chooses.

I love these Color the Letter Pages from Teaching Special Thinkers.  They are part of the letter A set which is free to download.  I also purchased the letter G set because they are great practice for recognizing the different versions of "g" and "a."  I save paper by using dry erase pockets and washable dry erase markers.  I put a capital and lowercase page in each pocket since both layers are clear.

I laminated these Play doh mats using my Scotch Thermal Laminator.  I put the capital letter on one side and the lowercase letter on the other side.  They are available from Miss Kindergarten's TPT shop.  I actually purchased mine as part of a fundraiser called Raise the Parr K-1 ELA Bundle.

My kids love these Alphabet Activities: How to Draw by Pam Hyer.  There are two pages per sheet, so they are economical to print.

These Rhyme puzzles were 4.99 recently at TJMaxx and give the kids a fun and easy way to work on rhyming words.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Classroom Tour

I intended to post photos of my classroom last week, but life got in the way...

Now my daughter is settled in college,
Back to School night has come and gone,
and I finally have a chance to catch up!
I wish I had taken photos before school started when everything was "just so," but here's how it really looks after nine days of school....  Note:  there will be no photos of my desk :)

I am very happy with my new student book boxes (on the top of the library shelf).  I got the idea from PreKPages.  They were plastic ice containers (about two dollars a piece) at Walmart. The clipchart is from Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten.

The photo doesn't really show my interlocking foam squares from Five Below:

They do tend to "scoot around" on the carpet during center time, but I am still happy with them.  Today a student had a nosebleed and I was able to quickly remove the individual square for cleaning.  

I borrowed the book cover banner idea from KinderCraze.  

I recovered my two crates and added two more.  Lowe's cuts the lumber to size for free with purchase of the lumber. They serve as student seats for the guided reading table and puppet storage.

The upper cubbies are too high for the kids to use, so I put these cloth drawers from Target in them.  I use them to store all the school supplies. (The number posters are from Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten.)

I LOVE the new tables in my room.  I splurged on the chair pockets from Really Good Stuff.  The kids keep their consumable reading texts and math notebooks in them.  They have two pencils and a pink eraser in the green zipper bag (which is attached with Velcro). There is also a slot for student name plates.  We also have table caddies that match the colors around the tables (for crayons, glue, scissors, etc.).

Here's my alphabet banner upclose again.  It makes me happy.

This is our prayer table.  The Jesus Loves You bulletin board is left over from last year.  Each child cut out a heart and wrote his/her name on it.  The laminated tissue paper cross is my example of the ones we made last Easter.  


Thursday, August 7, 2014

Classroom 2014-15

All my classroom "Pinning" is starting to become a reality....

I made this alphabet banner by cutting card stock into triangles with a paper cutter, gluing on letters, and then laminating.  I used a two hole punch before stringing the pendants.  These pictures don't really show how much this banner cheered up my plain windows.

I used the 4 inch Sorbet Letters

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And these are the numbers that I cut out by tracing around an old set of numbers...Literally "Old School," but kind of fun to create.

Stay tuned for a complete tour of my classroom next week.


Monday, August 4, 2014

Back to School Sale at TPT and My New Portfolio

120 × 125

I am participating in the Back to School Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers today and tomorrow.  Be sure to stop by my shop for 20 percent off of everything during these two days!

I have just added a new file of Portfolio printables and it is included in the two day sale!  Click on any of the pictures to take you to my shop.
There are covers for Pre-K, preschool, and kindergarten.  The pages cover handprints, self-portraits, family pictures, letter recognition, sight words, and more!  Just print the pages you wish to use.
I like to use bingo daubers with these pages.  You could also have students color the circles of the letters they know.
 Most of the pages have both color and black and white versions, you can choose which to use depending on your ink and printing situation.

There are lists for Pre-primer and Primer sight words.

You can choose to do pages once or several different times during the year to track progress. I like to place the pages in a binder, so I can also add other student treasures.

I love to read your comments.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday: I'm a Little Teapot

Today, I want to share a "magical" book in my classroom read aloud collection.  I'm a Little Teapot by Iza Traponi has an amazing ability to draw in and calm down every child.  I use it at the beginning of the year to help the children transition and focus for carpet time.  Later in the year it is one of those class favorites that everyone wants me to read.

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 I sing the words on the pages along to the familiar tune for this wonderfully imaginative book.  The children always love "traveling" to China, Mexico, and even space along with the characters.  They never tire of "finding" the tea pot in the jungle towards the end of the story.

Here is a link to Iza Trapani's page for some classroom activities and printables.


A Happy Find for my Classroom Floor

I'm linking up my back to school find with Kickin' it in Kindergarten's Teachers Be Shoppin' Linky.

I found these 23 inch interlocking foam floor squares for 3 dollars each at Five Below.  Five Below is kind of like a dollar store.  Everything they carry is either 1,2,3,4, or 5 dollars.  It is pretty new to me, but I thought it might have something for my classroom.  Did it ever?!!!  I bought 25 (they are sold individually), so I can either set them up in a 5x5 square or a 4x6 rectangle.

I had similar foam squares in a previous classroom but they were in primary colors.  (They came in sets and were a little better because they came with strips to make the outsides straight.)  I love having a square for each student to sit in at carpet time.  Plus, these will cover a lot of the ugly fraying seam in the carpet of my classroom. And, these squares are in the colors that I am using in my classroom this year!  Happy Teacher.

If you are interested in seeing my Target and Walmart back to school finds from last week, check HERE and HERE.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Free Printable Tally Race to 30

I was inspired to make this printable by a Roll and Tally to 100 that I saw on Tales from a K Classroom. Sara offers a treasure trove of free printables on her blog!  I was unable to print her "50" version, so I decided to create one for tallying to 30.  I will have two students take turns rolling a die or number cube.  Each player will draw the appropriate number of tally marks on his/her recording sheet after rolling the die.  The winner will be the first person to reach 30 (or more).  I will be laminating this for use over and over with dry erase markers.  I love simple math games.

Click HERE to print my free printable.

If you print this, please leave a comment.  Hope you are enjoying the rest of your summer!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Free Printable Nonsense Words to Throw in the Trash

Walmart has these cute little trash cans in their Back to School section.  They are intended to be pencil holders and cost a dollar each.

I couldn't resist making some Real and Nonsense Words to use with them.  Just click the link if you would like the free printable words.  I printed mine on colored card stock. The kids will put the "real" cvc words in the pocket chart and the "nonsense" words in the trash can.

The Pocket Chart is from Target's Dollar Spot.

If you find this helpful, I'd love for you to comment here!  Facebook likes are also appreciated!

And. . . . Dr. Jean's Free Webinar is today.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Math Take Home Bag Activities

I am putting together some simple and inexpensive math bags for my students to take home early in the school year.  So many parents think that their kids know their numbers if they can rote count.  I wanted to include simple games and activities for number sense  that my students can share easily with their families (regardless of ability to speak or read English). We will play these games in the classroom before the children start taking turns taking them home.  I have made these activities out of easy to find materials so that I can replace any missing pieces easily.

The first is a game where two players share a set of six (1-6) or eleven (2-12) numbered colored sticks and a die or number cube (two if playing 2-12).  I like to send home the over-sized foam ones from the Dollar Tree so I don't have to worry about a younger sibling putting a small object in his/her mouth.  This picture only shows the number sticks since I can't get to the large dice in my classroom over the summer. I drew dots to support students who do not yet recognize the numbers (especially 6 and 9).  Even putting the sticks in order before play is an opportunity to practice number order.  Another option is to scatter the number sticks, so players have to look them all over when determining if the number is there to be picked up. Later in the year, my students will play the same game with tally marks instead of numbers and dots on the sticks.

Players take turns rolling either one or two dice, depending whether playing the 1-6 version or the 2-12 version.  If the number the player rolls is available, the player picks up that stick.  If the number the player rolls has already been picked up, the player's turn is over.  Play continues until all the sticks have been picked up.  The winner is the player with the most sticks.  Of course, it is possible to tie (3-3).

The next game is a matching game.  I cut "cookies" out of a sheet of tan foam.  I added the chocolate chips with a brown Sharpie. There  must be two (or another even number) of cookies with the same number of chocolate chips on them.  The chips can be spread around in different arrangements to help the children learn that the same number of dots can be shown in different configurations.  As with all matching games, all the cookies are turned face down. Players take turns turning over two cookies.  If the two cookies have the same number of chips, the player keeps them.  If not, the cookies are turned back over and the next player tries.  Of course this game can be accessorized with a spatula, cookie sheet, cookie tin,  plastic cookie jar, etc.

On a completely different subject...

Catherine, A wonderful kindergarten teacher friend shared this link with me: http://kindergarten.colgatebsbf.com/.
I used it to sign up for free toothbrushes and toothpaste and dental education materials for my class. The offer is open to grades K-1.  I am a little hesitant to post the information, since some teachers on Facebook reported that they signed up last year and never received anything.  However, since it is completely free, and all you need to provide is an email address and your school's mailing address,  I decided to share the information here.


Adding this to Fourth Grade Frolics- Monday Made It

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Book Talk Tuesday - Wonderful Worms

I am joining Mrs. Jump's Book Talk Linky today.

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Wonderful Worms by Linda Glaser is an excellent non-fiction book for read aloud in a Pre-K or kindergarten classroom.  The illustrations are lovely and really give young learners a close up view of a worm's habitat.  There are just one or two sentences on each page.  Each provides simple facts about worms.

"And they need food, just like I do.
But they eat dirt and rotting leaves."

The text lends itself easily to shared writing about worms. As a follow up activity, each child could write a fact about worms and illustrate a page for a class book.  Worms are easy to draw!!
Most children can make real world connections with worms, having discovered them in their own yards. Some may not, so I like to bring in some actual worms in a plastic tub of dirt when we read this story.  This makes a very inexpensive item to observe in the science center for a day or two.

Wonderful Worms fits in nicely with a plant unit or Earth Day lesson.  We also talk about words that start with "w" in the book:  worms, wonderful, and wiggly.