Friday, September 6, 2013

First Weeks of School

 We've had a busy first three weeks of school!  Here is a look at some of the fun we've had...

Name Mosaics
I wrote the students' names on black paper, and they glued small construction paper "mosaic squares" on top.  It was a great way to practice our newly acquired "dot dot not a lot" skills ;).

The Wheels on the Bus 

My Name is Alice

Chicka, Chicka Boom Boom Alphabet Trees

Monday, September 2, 2013

Name Practice

I survived the first two weeks of school!  I absolutely adore my new crop of kids.  I have 28 students this year, and they are so sweet, fun, eager.  And energetic...very energetic ;).
We have really been focusing on classroom rules over the past ten days of school, and our rules will continue to be emphasized the next few weeks.  Another very important part of the first days of kindergarten is name practice.  We have been working hard on practicing the proper way to write as well as recognize our names. 

I always make each student a tracing page with their own name, and include a couple of blank lines at the end.  I put them in a page protector.  Students practice tracing their name with a dry erase marker for the first days of school.  Once they are done, I let them draw on the back.  After the first two weeks are up, I send them home and ask parents to continue using them at home.

Rainbow writing is always a favorite

Name puzzles.  Students glued the letters of their name in order on construction paper.

Highlight of our name fun:  Crayon resist/watercolor names.  These were a huge hit.  MAJOR tip- do not make these far ahead of when you plan to use them!  I made these two weeks in advance, and I had a few that didn't turn out!  Fortunately, I had a white crayon handy and made those students new ones on the spot.

Most of my students are able to write their names, but many struggle with using only one capital letter.  I will be using this anchor chart (copied from one I found on Pinterest) to teach students about uppercase/lowercase and tall/short letters.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ready or Not, Here They Come!

I'm ready, I promise!
At least I better starts tomorrow!
After meeting many of my adorable new students at a really wonderful "Meet the Teacher" on Friday, it was time to get ready for the first day.  Setting up my room was tougher than usual this year, since I moved from a much larger classroom where I taught Transitional Kindergarten last year.  It was an adjustment, but I was able to fit all the spaces in that I wanted in a functional way.  Here are some snapshots of my room:

The front door, student computers, and literacy center rotation charts

The Writing and Art Center.  ALSO where parents will be picking up nametags on the first day of school :).

Our rug and calendar area

 Teeny, tiny classroom library.  Because the space is so small, I will be rotating the books frequently.

Student work area

My excited to be reunited with a document camera!  I don't know how I lived without one last year.

The Home Center and Birthday Board

This is outside our front door.  The red duck tape is to help train the kiddos to stand in a line.  

And of course, the magic play dough is ready to go...with some help from the husband!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Oriental Trading Finds and Essentials!

I just received my first order of the school year from Oriental Trading Company.  Oriental Trading is usually my automatic "go to" for fun teaching necessities.  Here are some of my purchases and how I plan on incorporating them into my kindergarten classroom.

1.  Star Dry Erase Clings (set of 3)
My plan is to put these up in highly visible locations in my classroom with the sight word(s) of the week written on each one.  One spot will be on our main classroom door, so I can quiz kids on the "passcode" as they enter/exit.  I also put one on the white board.  Third location...TBD.

2.  Dry Erase Sleeves
I am really excited about these.  They come in a set of 12.  I am envisioning a lot of use out of these in my writing center.  Great way to cut down on copies!

3.  "WOW" Stickers
For the first time this year I am giving students an opportunity to move "up" from green on the behavior chart. Purple is the next step up, at the very top of the chart.  Students can move to purple on the behavior chart by demonstrating "WOW" behavior, which I will explain as going above and beyond to help someone else.  When a student ends the day on purple, they will be allowed to visit the "WOW" box at dismissal.  Inside the "WOW" box they will find these fancy wiggly-eyed animal stickers.  I am going to be very selective about asking students to move up from green.  I always emphasize that being on green means you are being a wonderful student, which is something to be very proud of.  Purple will be reserved for displays of wonderful citizenship.


3.  "Everyday" Stickers
These stickers are my "everyday" (not to be confused with WOW ;)) stickers.  The kids love them!  I use these to reinforce general good behavior.  For example, if the group is slow to come to the rug after I ring the bell, I might ask Jack and Jill to go get a sticker from the sticker basket for already being on the rug.  This not only reinforces their good behavior, but more importantly, gets the attention of the rest of the group to follow in their lead.  The key is to always use your loud teacher voice when offering up stickers- you want everyone in the room to know what you're rewarding!

4.  Googly eyes
I can never have enough!  I incorporate these into projects any chance I get :).

5.  Play Dough...just to have on hand!

5.  Bubbles
I am using these as a second "Meet the Teacher" gift. 
I got this idea/found these labels on Pinterest via First Grade with a Cherry on Top

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Preparing for "Meet the Teacher" FUN

"Meet the Teacher" (or, "Sneak Peak", as it's called at our school) is a chance for the incoming kindergarten kiddos to find out who their new teacher will be, meet their new teacher, and explore their new classroom with their parents by their side.  This relieves some first day anxiety for the students, parents...and teacher, too :).
I've been preparing for my upcoming "Meet the Teacher" event, and wanted to share some of the ways I'm hoping to make it a fun experience for my new crop of kinders.  Our "Meet the Teacher" is an hour long and super informal for the most part.  Parents and students are encouraged to walk around at their leisure to explore, participate in the activities I planned for them, and introduce themselves. I do, however, give a very short 5 minute speech to the parents so they know what to expect on the first day of school.  I also encourage parents to talk to me about any concerns they have. Many families also drop off  their beginning of the school year supplies on this day, too.

Photo Booth and Props:
For the first time this year, I'm having a photo booth for my new students.  I am going to have my classroom camera out and ask parents to please take pictures with my camera in addition to the ones they snap on their phones.  The backdrop (aka the backside of a bookshelf) is where I am going to display classroom pictures as the year progresses.  As for the props...I found the "Hello My Name Is" board in the Target Dollar Spot.  Everything else was crafted with simple materials from Michaels (wooden pieces, black paint, a white paint marker, and a glue gun).  To see how I made my "K" , click on the link: K is for Kindergarten.
I got my inspiration for my photo booth from Mrs. Patton's Patch.  Check out her photo booth and props- so cute!

The Giving Tree:
 Also new this year...parents who would like to donate "wish list" items to our classroom can take an apple.  Each apple is labeled with a different item.  I have fun supplies on the apples like alphabet stickers, watercolor paper, googly eyes, etc.  Parents will be in and out of the classroom a lot during the first weeks of school, so its inside location will be perfect.

Scavenger Hunt and Prizes:
I started doing this a few years ago, and it's always such a hit.  When students enter the classroom they pick up a clipboard and scavenger hunt list.  Their job is to find the following items in their new classroom:  Clifford stuffed animal, calendar, desks, classroom rug, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree, home center, Alphafriends poster, and the bathrooms (which are actually outside our classroom).  At the bottom it says that when they are done, they are to see me for a prize.

Their Prize:
The first picture is of the front label, the second picture is of the back.  Special thanks to my mom for helping me put these together!!  You can find the labels I used on Sliding into First!


Last but not least, I found these super cute nametags at Lakeshore.  They will be at the sign-in table at my "Meet the Teacher".

Does your school have a "Meet the Teacher"?

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kindergarten Entry Assessment Freebie

At my school, we assess our incoming kindergarteners a few weeks before the start of the school year to get a general sense of where they stand.  Although you can't get anywhere close to a full picture of a child's strengths and weaknesses in a 15 minute time slot, it is well worth the time and effort.  It certainly gives us kindergarten teachers much more information than we would have without these asessments...which would only be a glance at their name on their enrollment forms.  Assessing students allows us to begin our differentiation strategizing before the kiddos have their first day in kindergarten.   
I created the following assessment, which was used by the kindergarten team at my school, to assess our incoming kindergarteners.  The skills assessed include letter recognition, letter sounds, blending skills, sight word recognition, shape recognition, number recognition, and counting skills.  It includes both the teachers recording documents, as well as the students reference sheets.  If your school does not test students over the summer, this would also be a great tool to use to assess your students in the first week of school.  You can download it for free below these samples.

Click on the picture or link below to download your free copy. 

Does your school give incoming kindergarteners an entry assessment?