Wednesday, June 29, 2011

You Win Again Dollar Tree!

I just went in for tissue paper, that's all. But you know how sneaky The Dollar Tree is. They manage to get at least $10.00 out of me every time I walk in. So here's what I got for school.

My classrom is mostly black, white, and aqua, so I was very happy to see those storage bins in aqua.

When we study magnets I like to give plenty of "exploration" time (which they view as play time) and these little guys will be a fun addition to our magnetic materials.

And finally, they must have just stocked the shelves because there was a huge bin full of these bingo card markers. Fran at Kindergarten Crayons has had so many math freebies that use these markers and I didn't have any. Well now I have purple, black, green, and red!

If you've found any great new stuff for your classroom this summer share it with us all! And then link up with Kristen at Ladybug Teacher Files.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Math Work Stations Chapter 6

I haven't actually read this chapter yet. Somehow I got a little behind, perhaps because I started summer school last week for upcoming kinders and they are wearing me out! But I've been reading so many posts about place value and I wanted to share an "I Have, Who Has" place value game I made last year. Just click the picture to dowload. I hope to catch up on reading this evening and post more later this week.
Also- Kinder teachers, you deserve some kind of medal! How do you do it those first weeks?! I only have kids from 8 to noon and I feel like I've run a marathon each day! (hmmm...maybe I'll lose a few pounds)

Head over to Oceans of First Grade Fun for more about this chapter on place value- and lots of free printable games too!

Friday, June 24, 2011

ABC and Blends Charts

Earlier this month I posted some math mats that I plan to use as warm ups to start guided math lessons and I mentioned that I use ABC and blends charts the same way to start guided reading groups. I had a few questions about the charts and I found some examples to share. These are not the charts I use, but they are very similar. The ones I use were given to me by another teacher and I don't know where she got them.
(Click the images to download.)

ABC chart from
Blends chart from
I pass these out quickly, as soon as the kids sit down, and we chant the chart like this: /a/, /a/, apple; /b/, /b/, bell, etc. I usually do the whole ABC chart with my lower groups, but with my higher groups (or whenever a group is ready to move to blends) we usually just do one row each day. Or I might say "find the picture that sounds like /spr/" and we'll start there and finish the chart. It just depends on how much time you have I guess. You don't want this to take very long.

I hope that clears up any questions!

I plan to use my math mats the same way, just chanting some numbers together to practice counting or saying coin names. When you repeat things everyday it gets to where the kids can do it with their eyes closed (and it would be great if they could memorize some of our math info)!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I love boys...

in a teacherly way of course!

I don't know if it's just me or does anyone else has always have more boys than girls in their classes? In eight years of teaching I may have had one year with an equal number of boys and girls, but never more girls. So when I see books with suggestions for teaching boys I take note!

(click image to preview at
Pam Allyn's Best Books for Boys: How to Engage Boys in Reading in Ways That Will Change Their Lives
This summer I've had the pleasure of reading Pam Allyn's book Best Books for Boys and it's been a great reminder of ways to get boys more interested and motivated to read. In first grade I don't think I have as much of a problem with excitement for reading as upper grades may, but I do like to be careful with the books I choose for read alouds, reading groups, and for individual book "bags". I try to be sure to introduce my students to a plethora of genres, characters, authors, etc. And at this age (first grade) it always seems that if I'm really excited about a book the kids will be too.

It seems that many of us are using the Daily 5 or some version of it and I love that it gives my kids time to pick their own books and read independently and with friends for an extended amount of time. When we're doing our reading stations my kids will often ask if they can just do "read to self" or "buddy read" the whole time instead of going to other stations. I always let them as long as they are really reading and not just playing with buddies (we al know that happens though!). One of Pam's suggestions for promoting a love of reading in boys is to provide more actual reading time and worry less about having reading activities for them to complete and that goes right along with the Daily 5, woohoo I'm already on track. 

Last year my wonderful school bought these bags for all the first grade classes and we use them to store familiar rereads (from guided reading), decodable texts, and student selected books (after we've practiced how to choose a just right book).
Store More® Medium Clearview Book Pouches - Primary Colors
I've been so focused on math lately but I wanted to share this in case anyone is in need of a resource to reach those boys that may be reluctant to read. Pam also gives a very extensive list of books by genre that boys have expressed interest in (and lots of story summaries and possible topics for conversations after reading). I also noticed that Kimberly over at Funky First Grade Fun also posted about this great book,  check it out! Summer's always a good time(yard sale season) to search for new books for your classroom that will spark an interest and lead to a love of reading.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Thank You Followers!!

I could not believe it this morning when I went to play on the internet participate in online professional development (that is what we're doing you know!) and I saw that I had hit 300 followers. Wow! I'm so appreciative of everyone who reads anything I write=) I'm certainly not a fantastic writer, but I love sharing what I'm doing. Even more than that, I love to see what everyone else is doing in their classroom!

As a thank you I've uploaded some "math mats" that I plan to use during guided math groups next year. I always start guided reading lessons with a quick warm up using an alphabet chart or blends chart. It's just something to get the kids focused and it becomes a routine that we always chant the chart to warm up. So this is the same thing but with math. If you have any ideas of how to make these charts better or suggestions for more charts to make just let me know. Thanks for reading!!

(click the picture to find the free download in my TPT store)

I'm linking this post up with Fran Kramer's (amazing) blog, Kindergarten Crayons. She's posted absolutely fantastic ideas and tons of freebies to go with Chapter 4 of Math Work Stations. The topic is number sense and I thought these math mats would fit right in.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Math Work Stations Book Study (Chapter 3)

I can't get my mind off math now that I'm reading this book, I even dreamed about setting up stations last night! It's way too early in the summer to start having school dreams!! Mrs. Parker is facilitating discussions on Chapter 3 of Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations - all about setting up stations and getting started.

I've used Daily 5 for literacy stations for the past two or three years so I plan on using that format to introduce, model, model, model, create anchor charts, allow for practice, then reflect with the kids on what went well and what we need to work on. I also want to have some kids demonstrate the "wrong" way to work in stations. Here's an achor chart format I made (click to download). This is pretty much what I use for my literacy stations too (minus the stamina graph). Just list (or have the kids give suggestions) for what students are expected to do and what the teacher is expected to do.

I've also been thinking about how to map out my math time. I get 60 minutes for math but I think I'll be able to steal another 15 minutes. So I'm planning 30 minutes for whole group that would include calendar, routines, and a lesson. The next 45 minutes would be math stations and small groups. I'd love to pull 3 small groups for 15 minutes each (ideally I can have only three groups, this may mean as many as 7 kids in a group though) and have my kids go to my group plus two 15 minute stations. Here's the rotation I made. I wrote that every child would go to a "Fact Practice" station each day. We have really been trying to focus on building fact fluency so this would be an addition or subtraction station based on their needs.

And finally, I think I've shared my blank lesson plan page for math workshop before but I made a few small changes.

Click Mrs. Parker's button to read her post and link up with your ideas. I love all the sharing going on!
 Learning With Mrs. Parker

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Word Wall Printable Cards

If you want to download the high frequency words that go with Harcourt Storytown here they are! I printed mine on colored cardstock, laminted them, wrote the week they are introduced in the back, and then put strips of magnetic tape on the back since I post them on my whiteboard. (Click here to go back to my word wall post to see pictures.)

I'm adding the colors I used, not that you have to follow my color code (there's no rhyme or reason to it).

I printed these Kindergarten review words on red.
Words from book 1 (on orange paper).
 Book 2 (on yellow paper)
Book 3 (on green paper)
Book 4 (on blue paper)
Book 5 (on purple paper)
If any of these links don't work let me know!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Math Station Organization

For the next few weeks I'll be anxiously awaiting Debbie Diller's newset book, Math Work Stations. Until I get the book in my hands I'm closely following a group of bloggers who are reading and blogging about this book. Mrs. Wills has read and reviewed the first 2 chapters and I'm linking up to share my organization of materials. Click over to her blog to link up or check out others who have.
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten

I've tried a few different ways of storing math games for stations. At first I stored games in a file box and put them out in these drawers as I introduced them.
Each drawer is labeled with the skill that is addressed. Unfortunately, these drawers are too hard for the kids to put back in correctly and they always end up off track and I have to help with clean up everyday (which is not what I want to be doing!). So this year I just stored the games in these drawers and as I introduced them I took them out of the drawer and put them out in white dish pans on a shelf for the kids to choose from.
I also keep other manipulatives such as geoblocks, linking cubes(I have about 3 different kids), counting chips, and pattern blocks in the drawers below, some were empty in this picture since they were in use in a dish tub at the time. And yes, there is one drawer of plain blocks that are only used on indoor recess days (and are always the most popular indoor activity).

Next year I am excited to be focusing on math and science. I'll be trading classes with another teacher who will teach reading to both of our classes reading while I teach math and science to both. I really want to get all things math super organized and set up over this summer so I can be a complete math guru next year! I'm looking forward to reorganizing my games and activities and getting more ideas from all of you!