Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Indoor Snowball Fight!

Oh. my! 

The indoor snowball fight was such a huge success!  We didn't get around to it yesterday (the kids had been out of school for 5 days and we ALL needed some time to ease back into things!), but I made sure to make time for it this morning because I knew that my littles would love it!  It turned out to be a great day for it because it was rainy (yes, warm enough for rain....crazy weather!) and the kids were inside all day.  This was a super fun way to get some energy out and some awesome math review in!

I pretty much only had to say the words "snowball fight" and every boy in my class 1)was completely engaged and 2)thought I was the coolest teacher ever.  

I modeled how we'd be using the unifix cubes to build our addition sentences once our snowball fight was complete, then set the ground rules for throwing snowballs.  No throwing at faces, no running, no screaming (please, pleeeeease no screaming!). Basically, be as responsible and respectful as 5 or 6 year olds can be while you hurl wads of paper at each other!

No doubt I was the most enticing target during the snowball fight.  One student got me, and then they all ganged up on me!  It was actually super, super fun!

After the snowball fight, each student grabbed a snowball and brought it back to their seat.  We opened them and began building our cube towers at the same time!  I have never seen the entire class so excited about addition!  It was awesome!

We grabbed clipboards and headed to the carpet to fill out our recording sheet.  Every student had a chance to share their addition sentence and the cube tower they built.  We worked as a group to figure out the answers for those few who didn't quite get it.  It was an awesome formative assessment!

 I posted this page as a freebie a couple of days ago.  Head over here to grab it.

Bless this sweet little guy.  His pages are filled in upside down 99% of the time.  BUT...his addition sentences look perfect!

And, oh.....isn't there always that one sweet child that you think is keeping up and then you finish and realize that his page looks like this???  

Keeps us humble as teachers!!!  Ha!

A successful snowball fight  (only indoor snowball fights allowed at school, kindies!!!) to keep our day exciting and learning fun!

You totally should try it!

Monday, January 28, 2013

I crossed my fingers!!

Well, I crossed my fingers that the 100th Day of School wouldn't fall on Valentine's Day worked!  We are home on yet ANOTHER snow day today!  I guess today would actually be considered an ICE day.  We had freezing rain last night which led to a messy, dangerous morning commute.

I actually told my hubby (he's off today too) that I am beginning to miss teaching with all these days at home, but I won't complain about them even for a second because they mean extra snuggle time with my own babies!

ANYWAY....I'm spreading a little love again today!  

I'm sure you've read about the super fun idea of indoor learning-style snowball fights on several teaching blogs this winter.  I read about it on Nicole's blog, and she got the idea from Kristin at "A Teeny Tiny Teacher". 

I have it in my plans for tomorrow since we just finished up our addition chapter last week.  Before we dive into subtraction, I thought that my students would LOVE this activity!  I plan to have addition sentences inside the snowballs (ex. 3+5=___).  We'll toss the snowballs, then each grab one off the floor.  Each student will build their equation using unifix cubes to figure out the answers, and then everyone will share their equation with the class.  We'll record them on this recording page (copied back to back).


I included 24 spaces because I have 24 students.  Hopefully that will work for you too, if you're interested!  Click here to grab a copy for yourself if you'd like!

Happy Monday!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

100th Day pack.....finally!

Whew!  I know I'm a tad late with this (some people are already posting about their 100th day fun!!), but my 100th day pack is finally finished, so I posted it to TPT yesterday.  

The pack includes writing prompts, math activities and games, signs for a 100th day scavenger hunt, and a 100th day glyph with analysis sheets and display headings.

Click over to TPT here to check it out for yourself if you are still looking for some things to add to your 100th day fun!

Because of our snow days last week, our 100th day is on Valentine's Day!  BAD timing!  Needless to say, we won't be celebrating both on the same day, so if we don't have any snow days between now and then, we'll push back our 100th day festivities until after Valentine's Day.  It's waaaaay more fun, though, to be able to celebrate on the ACTUAL 100th day, so I have one more reason to cross my fingers for another big snowstorm!

One of my favorite activities to do on the 100th day of school is to make a class book using this page.

The kiddos think it is the FUNNIEST thing to think about what they might look like at 100 years old - white or gray hair, big bellies, facial hair or bald heads for the boys, walkers or canes, wrinkles....cracks them up!  One year I had a little guy draw a headstone with his name on it and R.I.P.  Ha!  I saved it and had it posted behind my desk for years because it just made me SMILE!

I always laminate the pages and make them into a class book when they are finished.  Then, every student gets a chance to take it home for a night to share with their families.  These things are way too adorable to keep all to myself!  They LOVE showing off their work!!

It's included in my 100th day pack, but if you'd like it, you can snag it here for free!

Has your 100th day already come and gone?  Does it fall on Valentine's Day like mine?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Five for Friday link-up!

I'm linking up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for her fun "Five for Friday" link-up to share five randoms from my week!

1. I got this great idea from my blogging buddy Nicole last weekend.  Since we had school on MLKJ day on Monday, I made time for it.  I'm so thankful that I did, because the finished products turned out great and were an awesome way to discuss the beauty of ALL skin colors with my Kindies!

 I am the color of vanilla ice cream.

 I am the color of sand.

I am the color of butterscotch.


2. My almost-four-year-old is very into writing words lately.  She asks me for the sounds of words all the time!  While I was making dinner the other night, she wrote this list of farm animals...and a few of her own words too.


3. So HAPPY that a new season of one of my favorites started this week (although I was SAD to see the all-star season end last week).  LOVE Project Runway and Thursday nights!


4. Two snow days this week means that this is the view from our back windows.


5. THIS is what I'll be doing this weekend.  My son counted -- 102 things to cut out to prepare for literacy stations next week.  If you need me, I'll be up to my ears in laminating film!!

Happy weekend!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Snow Day Freebie!

I'm enjoying another snow day today.  This one was completely unexpected (but still equally appreciated!).  The hubs wasn't quite as lucky today -- his district still had school, which meant that my son was off to school for the day as well.  

I enjoyed a fun mommy-daughter morning at (where else???) my classroom!  I wasn't prepared for this snow day and there were a few things that I wanted to grab.  You know how it goes, though, when you have time in your classroom without your students....the list is a mile long!  Fortunately, Rowan looooves playing in my classroom, so she enjoyed a few hours there with me.  We both loved it.  BUT....girlfriend can make a MESS in no time.

Ta-da!  "Mom!  I made a picnic!" 

What??!?  We have to clean it up????  Ha!

After we left my school, I dropped her off at pre-school so that I could meet up with my son for lunch.  What a treat to get to hang out with him and his Kindergarten friends for a while as they ate today!

Anyway...I did a fun snowflake addition craftivity with my students last week that I have been meaning to post about.  We are working hard on addition, and I wanted to see if the students could apply what we've been learning to create and write out their own number sentences.

In an effort to spread a little snow day love, click here to grab this activity for yourself!
I included "___and___is___." OR "___+___=___" for those of you who would rather have your students fill in the addition sentence.

I hope that you can use this sometime in the next few weeks!

Happy {almost} Friday!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snow Day!

I got the best call this morning at a little after closed due to "inclement weather".  Music to a teacher's ears!  I love my kindies, but with the windchill down near -20 (!) today, I was happy to stay inside!  My hubby's district (which is where my son attends school too) was also closed, so we got an unexpected family day.  I loved every second!

One of the best things about having my hubby home on snow days???  He'll take the kids outside so that I can stay in and bake cookies!  Ha!  It was COLD outside, but that didn't stop my kids from wanting to play in the first real snow of the year.  They didn't last long, but they loved it!

I snuck some quick photos from the deck, then back inside I went!

Between laundry, cleaning, games, books, and a movie with the kids this afternoon, I finally had time today to get my Valentine's Day write the room activity posted to TPT.

I'm also allllllllmost finished with a fun 100th Day pack.  Hopefully I'll be able to post about that in the next couple of days!  Our 100th day isn't until the week of Valentine's Day, but I know lots of schools have it before that.  When is your 100th day?

I'd love to give away this new write the room activity!  Leave a comment and I'll choose one winner tomorrow (Wednesday) evening!

Literacy and Math Stations - to answer your questions! :)

 Since I posted about literacy and math work stations last week, I have had a few people ask questions regarding what my exact set-up looks like.  I shared that I have based my stations around Debbie Diller's model for literacy work stations, and then I tweaked it a bit more to make it work for math. (I recommend her books, Literacy Work Stations and Math Work Stations, highly!)

Of course, when it comes to how I set up my day, I do what every teacher does....try something, tweak it, try something new.  Over and over and over.  I'll probably tweak my literacy stations next year too, but for now, I'm loving it more than any other approach I've taken for lit stations in my 10 years of teaching.  So, who knows?  It might stick around for a while!

This is my lit station board.  Each day, I rotate the letters to match the activity each group will complete.  My activities are located in tubs labeled with the same letters, and the letters are also placed around the classroom, so that each activity has it's own space.  By this point in the year, the students are awesome about knowing exactly where to find everything they need for lit stations.
The highlighted names represent the "team leader" for each group.  This person is in charge of getting the tub, answering whatever questions their team members have during the activity (the team leaders know that if they don't know the answer, they should come ask me for help), and cleaning up the station when all group members are finished.

My groups have remained very fluid this year.  They are set for two weeks at a time, but I think I have changed groups almost every single rotation this year.  It helps to freshen it up for the students, and allows me to arrange personalities and ability levels in ways that I feel will promote the best learning.

I try to have the station activities differentiated whenever I can.  If the students with a red dot on their name see a "red dot page" in a tub, they know to complete that page.  They are just slight variations on the exact same activity.  That way, the students can all work together on the activity, but can also still be challenged in different ways.

Here is an example of a "red dot" page versus a page with no red dot.

There are eight total activities in our literacy station rotation.  We do lit stations for 30 minutes a day, four days a week (Tuesday-Friday).  The students complete one activity each day.  When they finish, they spend some one-on-one time with me while I check their work.  We talk about their work and review any sight words or other literacy skills that were practiced (rhyming, word families, beginning/middle/ending sounds, etc).  I enjoy this time of being able to connect with each student individually.

If they finish early, the remainder of the time is filled with their choice of reading books from our reading corner or playing games from a designated basket of literacy activities.

Math Stations are set up similarly, except the groups are larger because we only do them two days a week.  Instead of eight activities, there are four.  There are six students in each group, instead of three.  Again, math stations fill a 30-minute block, and there is a specific "early finisher" activity for each group.  
I have a para-pro in the room with me during math stations, which makes the larger groups manageable.  I'm not sure it would run as smoothy without that extra support.  

Hopefully this helps give you a better picture of how my literacy and math stations are organized.  I know that I always love hearing about how things are done in other classrooms.  My literacy station block has become one of my favorite parts of my day!

Do you run your stations similarly?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Winter math stations

We run the same two-week schedule for math stations as we do for literacy stations in my room.  They aren't quite the same, though.  Lit stations take place four days a week, but math stations only take place two days a week.  So, I only plan four math activities instead of the eight literacy activities every two weeks.

Our math stations for this week and next are full of cute, winter fun!

"Before and After Numbers"
Students pick a polar bear, match it to their recording page, and write the numbers that come before and after.

(Found in my Snowy Stations pack)

"Snowman Addition"
Students choose a snowman card, copy the groups onto their page, and write the addition sentence.

"Snowman Number Match"
Students match the white number snowmen to the colored ten-frame snowmen, and record the numbers and ten-frames on their recording page.

(Snowy Stations pack) 

"Frosty Flakes"
Students read the number and the color word, then build snowflake groups on their page.

(This activity comes from Julie Lee's Frosty Fun pack.)

We end our day with math stations on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  I'm working on a post that describes our literacy and math stations in more detail in case you're curious about exactly how I structure it.  It seems like I change little things every year to make it work better.  This year was a BIG change because my district made the switch to full-day Kindergarten.  It's been fun figuring it all out, and I feel like I am able to fit in so many things that I was never able to before.  Love, love, LOVE!

Happy {almost} Friday!!  A doctor appointment for my son tomorrow means that my weekend started a day early.  Boo for making sub plans, but YAY for three-day weekends!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter literacy stations

I love literacy work station time in my classroom.  To see my students so engaged in meaningful activities, working together and being warms my heart!  This year, I implemented Debbie Diller's style of literacy work stations and I was completely sold in the first few weeks.  I LOVE this approach!  My students work in groups of 3.  I have 24 students so that gives me 8 total groups.  Each group has a designated "team leader".  This person is in charge of the materials, as well as answering the questions of his or her team members.  If someone in a "team" has a question, they first ask the team leader.  If the leader doesn't know the answer, they come to ask me.  Because the groups are so small, I can arrange them in a way that minimizes distractions for everyone.  That is a big LOVE!!  Debbie Diller's vision includes the teacher pulling small groups while the rest of the students work.  I haven't implemented that this year -- instead, I make myself available to answer questions, and spend some quality time with each student as they bring their completed work to get checked by me.
You can check out the book for yourself by clicking here. are the stations that my students will be working through for the next two weeks.

"Mitten Rhymes"

See how this little guy has "boat" and "rope" as rhyming words?  We took care of that once I noticed it. :)
(This rhyme supply activity can be found in my Snowy Stations pack.)

"Sight Word Stamp and Write"

"Snowman Word Stretchers"

(Sounding out and writing CVC words - Snowy Stations)

"Word Build and Write"

(focus on this week's sight words)

"My Little Penguin"

(Sight words and color words - Snowy Stations)

"What Sound is at the End?"

(Ending sounds - Snowy Stations)

"Winter Write the Room"

(This activity can be found here.)

"Pencil, Marker, Glue - sight word practice"

We also began new math stations this week that I'll post about later.  You can grab my Snowy Stations pack for $5.00 until the end of the week!

Have you heard of Debbie Diller or do you use her approach for your literacy or math work stations?