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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Writing and Custodian

Our custodian at our elementary school has been very sick recently.  All teachers know how important a custodian is to a school.  I try to encourage my students to write notes and cards for others.  So, we wrote cards for him.  I wanted them to use Simple Six strategies when writing.  Simple Six is very similar to Six Traits.  Our kindergarten rubric has two parts.  In kindergarten, we grade the drawing and the writing.

I encouraged them to stick to the rubric.  Things were going very smooth until I broke out the markers!!  It is like they have never seen markers before!!  Whew!!
Below is a sample of a student's drawing.  She stuck to the topic.  It is recognizable.  The picture has details.  Therefore, this is a 3 on the drawing.  She completed her writing inside the construction paper.  I did not get a photo of it.
Below is a really good start to the writing.  He started with Mr. Mike, but it is supposed to read, "I love Mr. Mike."  When he was writing he put his name above instead of next to.  The next line reads, "I hope you get better."  He was still writing when I took the photo so his completed work was a 3 for the writing.  He stuck to the topic, had logical order and the story had details.  
Please remember as I am showing these pictures that this was a "spur of the moment", "teaching off the cuff" lesson.  A fellow teacher was visiting our custodian the following evening and I wanted to get these completed.  In a real prompt, our students would write with pencils.  I did not "grade" these; however, I reminded students of writing expectations.
This one cracks me up!!  This little girl just kept writing and when I saw it I said, "Christmas is over, but that's okay."  So, then I came back this is what the back said...
What do you use in your classroom to grade writing?  Do you use a rubric of any sort?  Again, this was "teaching off the cuff", but in any case, it put a smile on our custodian.
Endless Possibilities,

The frames above were purchased from
The fonts used in the text boxes are Stephany's Super Cute Fonts. 

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dental Health and a Freebie

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
February is right around the corner.  Did you know that February is Dental Health month?  I really enjoy teaching dental health in kindergarten because the kids really relate.  Some students have already lost a tooth and most have already been to the dentist for the first time.  I actually spend two weeks on dental health and have the nurse come in to talk to the students too.  They love getting their own free toothbrush.

I am really excited this year to try out this healthy snack found on Pinterest!!  Apple slices, mini-marshmallows, and peanut butter.....  What kinder wouldn't love this snack?  Click the photo below to link to Pinterest.

The Dental Health Unit that I mentioned is a 63 page unit filled with literacy ideas.  The illustration below includes a few samples from the unit.  Bare with me though, because I am offering a free download at the end of this post.
I also came across this YouTube video to show my students.

The tune of this song and video is perfect for my students.  It will get them moving and so excited about learning.

Another interesting site I found was at the Crest website.  They offer student kits and teacher resources to help teach students about dental health.  I even read that they will send a CD or DVD to help supplement your teaching.  I have been told that Colgate also offers kits to teachers.

I also think this Pinterest idea was super cute and so easy too.

Now for the freebie!!  I created a 63 page Dental Health Literacy Unit and have found it to be full of writing and integrating activities for my studentsI enjoy the 3 Facts and a Fib portion of the unit the best.  So, I am offering just that portion of the unit for free.

I also used Stephany's fonts in the text boxes above.  Click the photo below to check out her fonts.  I love them!!  I used "Little Kid" and "Doodle Trip".

February will be here before we know it.  If you blog about either the Super Cute Fonts or the Dental Health 63 page Literacy Unit before February 1st, I will send you the Dental Health Unit for free.  Just comment that you blogged about it, leave the link and your email too.

Endless Possibilities,

The frames above were purchased from

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five for Friday!


1.  This pretty sums up the week!  I think my classroom was the epicenter for the plaque.  I kind of likened myself to Kate Winslet in Contagion this week to make it seem a little more glamorous wiping down, disinfecting, taking temperatures.   We powered through and actually got quite a few things done... I am lucky to have a bunch of little troopers in my class!
2.  You know that moment when you are just about ready to throw your hands up in the air... you've heard your name about 500 times in the last hour, tied the same set of shoes 4 times, redirected, reassured, retied (again), retaught... and then you turn around and see someone has left this randomly on your counter and you laugh so hard you suddenly remember why you love teaching first grade.  Seriously the most repulsive and cutest sleeping reptile ever.  He even has a pillow!
3.  This.  I don't even have a cat but I can't help but laugh every time.
4.  In addition to being the center of the plaque, we were also trash pickers (hmmm, maybe there is a connection).  We were learning about reusing things to make new things and we saw a bunch of plastic lids in the recycling bin (we were collecting lids to make benches and these were extra).  We dug them out and made clocks out of them with foam and brads.  This is the halfway completed clock.  I will have to share the final results later.

5.  It's freezing here!  We had last minute ice this morning on the way to school but it was too late to call school.  My dogs have even started staring at me until I go get them a blanket to lay under.  It is pretty pathetic but still cute!
It's been a long week but through it all we learned a lot, powered through and made the most of it!  It's easy when you have a great group of kids!   Have a great weekend!


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Student Learning Objectives

The teachers in our school post learning objectives on the white board daily.  Most teachers use dry erase markers to write the learning goals in student-friendly language.  The following video is an excellent visual of how a teacher engages her students.  She uses the term "SWBAT" for "students will be able to".  This one minute video shows how students recite the targeted goal for each subject daily.

The first grade learning objectives posted in the picture above include objectives for reading, language and math.  Ms. Dillon used colors to easily indicate subject areas.  Dry erase sentence strips are my best friend. (wink wink) As you can tell, many of our teachers use them for their student learning objectives.  The picture below is of a teacher who has objectives for many grade levels.  Mrs. Berry teaches Title One reading and math to students from first through 5th grade.  She has daily learning objectives for each grade displayed on the side of her filing cabinet.
The sentence strips can be purchased at Really Good Stuff.  They come in colored or white.  This site even offers sentence strips that are magnetic.

The following learning targets are posted in my kindergarten classroom.  My classroom is in a camping theme.  I used s'mores to indicate different subject areas.  I also have my students pretend to have an arrow and aim it at the target.  I say, "Where do we aim?"  Students say, " the target."
If you are interested in printing off a colored target for your learning target click here.  The link will take you to a free Google Doc of the following learning target in a super hero theme.  If you are able to use it in your classroom, please comment and tell me how you plan on using it.  You can also click on the picture to download it for free.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

1. State the objective in student-friendly language.
2. Use dry erase sentence strips to save time.
3. Engage students in the objective by having students repeat or restate the goal.
4. Create a visual for students using a target, colored sentence strips, or titles for subject areas.

Endless Possibilities,

I want to thank Stephany Dillon!!  The fonts used in the text boxes above are from her Super Cute Font Pack!!  I also want to thank Mr. Magician for the glittery borders!! 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Literacy Stations and More

This post is mostly about literacy stations in a kindergarten classroom.  Today I took a few photos of my kindergarten class working at literacy stations.  The first two pictures are of students at the computer station.  My students usually go to  This site includes literacy activities for kindergarten and first grade students.

 Erica Bohrer has a free packet on TpT with directions for and other Computer Station games.  Click the image below to get it for free.
The next photo is of students working on "cut-a-sentences" and gluing them into an independent book.  I simply stapled small pieces of plain paper together as the pages of the book.  I call this station "create a sentence, create a book".
 I also came across a freebie by Christie from First Grade FeverThe freebie includes several sight word playdough mats.  They are super cute and print in black and white.  Below are a few photos of students working on sight words with playdough.

Students also participate in independent reading and partner reading during literacy stations.  Below is a picture of a student reading independently from her book box.  The boxes came from IKEAI took photos and glued them to the front for easy identification.
 What do you do for small groups?  We would love to hear how your stations are managed and what you have found to be successful.

I want to thank Stephany Dillon!!  The fonts used in the text boxes above are from her Super Cute Font Pack!!  I also want to thank Mr. Magician for the glittery borders!!

Endless Possibilities,

Monday, January 14, 2013

"It's the Little Things That Matter" Linky!!

Randi over at Teach it With Class is hosting a linky. 
I was so excited to hear she was hosting it.
If you have not visited here blog, you need to.

As teachers we play an important role in the lives of our students.  Elementary teachers seem to be one of the first role models that students never forget.  Do you still get those kids that come back year after year and say, "I remember when..."?

 My most memorable "treasure"...
A couple of years ago a student brought me a dead mouse in a Ziploc bag.  (Ewww...)  Even though it could have made a good science experiment, we buried it.
 Here are some of the things I have been given this school year.
  (above) "Happy Christmas Days!"  I think it is just too cute.
(below) She went home to practice writing the letter 'A'!!  Love it!!
 And one of my favorite...
  No matter how little the gift may be, to the student it means the world...  precious little treasures!!

I want to thank Stephany Dillon!!  The fonts used in the text boxes above are from her Super Cute Font Pack!!  I also want to thank Mr. Magician for the glittery borders!!

Endless Possibilities,

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Partner Work and a Freebie!

I am linking up with Classroom Freebies for Manic Monday!

Classroom freebies
Nothing satisfies me more as a teacher than seeing my students work together.  Something about them discussing what they are learning about and figuring things out together just seems to make my day!  My students work together in pairs and in groups quite a bit during our 90-minute reading block.  They sometimes work in small groups (5-6) during seat work and work in pairs while they are at their stations.  I have a larger group of students this year than last and quite a few personalities so I decided to tweak my rotation schedule so that they work with certain people each week (and never work with others :) ).  However, during whole group instruction time, I have them pair up and work on whatever skill we are focusing on that week.

 This is the time that I mix them up more and try those strong personalities together because I am able to "work the room" and play referee!  This has helped me realize that kids that I didn't think could work independently together actually work great together and
This week out skill was magic e and the long o sound as we read the story "Pelican Was Hungry".  We switched out our readers to the new book and got busy.  I had them go through the entire reader and find words that fit the patterns o_e, a_e, and i_e.

Here is the recording sheet we used for this activity.  This will work with tons of different books and readers so ENJOY!   Click HERE to get to the google doc!

Have a great week!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Product Swap #2- How I became a Pirate

I also linked up with Mrs. Stanford's Class for The Magical Product Swap!  I swapped with Mrs. I's Class.  I chose her "How I became a Pirate" take-home packet.
One thing that I wanted to try was to print all of it in black and white.  There has been a lot of discussion on the availablilty of ink cartridges.  In my school, we are encouraged to print in black and white.  So, I tried it.  As you can tell, this product looks fabulous printed in black and white and mounted in colored cardstock.

Almost all school districts are now using Common Core standards.  This product is Common Core aligned.  Mrs. I. has written the Common Core standards in an easy to read format for reference and instruction.  This is very useful when creating lesson plans. 
The standards included in this packet are:
*  K.CC.4. Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; connect counting to cardinality.
*  K.CC.5. Count to answer “how many?” questions about as many as 20 things arranged in a line, a rectangular array, or a circle, or as many as 10 things in a scattered configuration; given a number from 1–20, count out that many objects.
*  K.G.1. Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.
The take-home packets were easy to assemble and look fabulous when printed in black and white.  Mrs. I. included a cover page and a parent letter.  The activities for take-home include pirate sizing, treasure counting, treasure positions, where are the letters, treasure chest writing, and number memory.  Here is an example of treasure counting.

I think my favorite part of this fun-filled packet was the emergent reader text.  As you can tell, my 4 year old son also enjoyed it.  Even though he can not read yet, we ran to his bedroom to get his pirate hat and look through the pictures.
Thank you for providing such a great product to review.  If you would like to check out Mrs. I's other take-home packets, click here.

I also want to thank our own...  Stephany Dillon!!  The fonts used in the text boxes above are from her Super Cute Font Pack!!  I also want to thank Mr. Magician for the glittery borders!!

Endless Possibilities,


Product Swap: Think Spring...Plants & Flowers!

I am excited to link up over at Jessica Stanford's blog for the current product swap.

We have had some crazy weather here in Indiana in the last several weeks.  We went from warm to a blizzard and within one night the left over foot of snow melted off the ground and now it is 60 degrees and raining with flood warnings.  Monday it's supposed to be a high of 29 degrees!  They always say if you don't like the weather in Indiana wait an hour.  What's that have to do with the product swap?  Well, I got the opportunity to check out Rebecca Sutton's "Plant and Flower Activities"and it made me excited for spring when the weather just seems more consistent, the sun shines, the plants are growing, and you don't have to look at the mounds of dirty snow piles in parking lots anymore.  Click on the button below to head over to Rebecca's Blog.  Click HERE to head to TpT to check it out over there!

Let me say that this packet is AMAZING!  I love everything about it but mostly that it covers just the right amount of information for my first graders.  Pair it up with  growing your own plants and flowers in the classroom and it is even more amazing!

Here are some of my personal favorite parts of this 87 page unit.  First, "The Parts of A Plant Book" is just the right fit for explaining the parts of a plant to first graders.  It comes in a color version I printed full page for myself to read aloud and it also comes in black in white so that you can print off copies for your students!  Also there are Word Wall Word cards that you can display in your room.  I love having these up because I always direct my students to check the word wall for these words before they ask for help.

My next favorite part of this packet has to be the seed sorting mat.  There are so many possibilities here for math.  Students sort different kinds of seed onto mats.  Once they are done, they use the recording sheet to record how many of each seed they had.  I thought this would be a great way to teach or review tallying and graphing.  Rebecca included both a recording sheet and a graphing sheet to go along with the mat.

Also included in this packet is a really great sentence editing center.  Students choose a plant related sentence and edit it for mistakes.  These sentence editing centers are always a favorite because they hit on so many Common Core Language Standards.


Finally, there are tons of activities that involve observing and recording plants growing in your classroom.  These hands on activities really engage the kids and give them a sense of ownership and responsibility for growing their own plants.  There is so much in this packet that I could go on forever but I'll leave you to go head over and check it out at TpT.  Download the preview and check it out... it is totally worth it!  Also head over to the Product Swap Post and browse through the other product reviews.

Head on over to Rebecca's blog where she is highlighting my Ladybug unit