Friday, March 30, 2012

Thank Yous & A Reminder

I can't believe I haven't posted since Monday... I just don't know where time went!  I really, honestly, don't know how it's Friday already!  It's getting close to my April break, so expect to see some new things after Easter!  But of course, this weekend I have to work on our fourth report card, so I'll likely do some procrastinating and post on the blog instead!

In the meantime, some thank yous are in order!  First off, I want to thank Victoria at "The Best of Teachers Pay Teachers" for featuring my Egged Game on her blog!  Click the picture to see the game!

Ironically, I actually made a slight change to this game this morning, adding a "Super Egg" card at the request of my students... they truly are the best!  I just updated the game on TPT, so head on over there to re-download it!

Also, thank you to Tammy at 1, 2, 3, Teach With Me... I won her big 100 follower giveaway!  So exciting!  Click the picture below to visit her blog!

For everyone who is following my blog: thank you as well!  I love getting your comments, so keep them coming!

Also, a reminder: I'll be picking the winner for the Sight Words Uno Game tomorrow around noon!  If you haven't done so already, download the Dolch Pre-Primer words for free, and enter the giveaway for your chance to win the Primer, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, and 3rd Grade words!  Click the picture below to take you to the post!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Poly Spot Sight Words/Spelling Game

Do you know those ideas that evolve from a passing thought? This is one of them!

My principal got us us poly spots to do some exercise and movement in the classroom, and I used them occasionally, but not too often. One day at a staff meeting, my principal asked how we could use poly spots to teach across the curriculum.

This picture links you to Amazon if you want to buy some poly spots or read more about them... they're $15 for 6 of them (yikes)!

Off the top of my head, I could think of a few ideas for math but ELA?!  It took a bit of thinking but here's what I came up with!

I print our current sight words on index cards in all different colors, and I print enough so that each child has five cards.  It ends up for a lot of cards!  I only print one set for each month so I'm not printing them too often!

When I do the lesson, I give each student a poly spot and five cards (the cards are stored with 5 cards together of the same color together for time/organization purposes).  I make sure that each student has five cards in a different color than their partner.

I have the students hide their five cards under their poly spot and put some music on the smartboard in Smart Notebook.  I link each speaker with a different upbeat, kid-friendly song and let the kids pick which song they want to play.  The kids love the bright speakers!

Click this picture to download the template for the Poly Spot Words Game!  I can't include the music because of copyright obviously, but I provided step by step directions on how you can link the speakers to your own songs!

Anyway, back to the game.  Each child has their five cards under their poly spots and when the music starts, the kids dance around!  When the music stops, they have to stop dancing and pull a word out from under their poly spot.  I play two different variations of this game:

1. Reading - Show your partner the word you picked and have them read it.
2. Spelling - Read your card to your partner and have them spell it for you.

Once the partners read/spell the words, they trade cards with their partner and put them at the bottom of their pile.  (This is where it is helpful to have the two different colors... I used to give each pair the same color but they some students kept picking the same two words!  The different colors help students find a new word quicker and helps keep some variation with the words!)

At the end of the game, I collect the cards in groups of five to store for next time.  The kids absolutely love playing this game and ask to play it all the time!

My favorite part of this game (aside from the music, dancing, and excitement!) is its versatility.  A 3rd grade teacher at my school had the kids write their own word problems on index cards and answer their partner's word problems.  You can literally use this for any sort of review... my kids even asked me if we could do this for number order before our math test! 

Come check out some other great sight words ideas at the linky party hosted by April over at Wolfelicious:

Also, be sure to visit the sight word/spelling ideas visit the linky party going on at The Lesson Plan Diva!

Let me know how you could adapt this idea to use with your kids!  Or let me know any other fun ways you use poly spots in your classroom!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Sight Words Freebie... and a Surprise Giveaway!

The day has arrived: 25 followers!

As promised, I have an exciting freebie for you: a Dolch Pre-Primer Sight Word Uno game!  It is amazing where good ideas stem from... I was having a parent-teacher conference and I told one of the parents to incorporate sight words at home in whatever way she can.  She mentioned that her son loved Uno, and the idea was born!  I've been playing this with my kids for a week and they love it!

The game has a full color version, and a version that uses less color ink!  Click any of the pictures to take you to my TPT store to download it.

I also created other versions with the Primer Dolch Words, and the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade Dolch words, also available at my TPT store for $2 each... but I'm going to host a little giveaway for those versions as well!  You will be awarded three entries:
1. Follow my blog!
2. Give a rating to the Pre-Primer freebie!
3. Follow my TPT store!

Comment on this post with separate comments to enter the contest!  I'll use a random number generator on March 31 to announce the winner!  You can check out the products that you could win below!

Check out some other giveaways going on in March at the linkies by the 3AM Teacher, Teacher Blog Addict, and Teaching First!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Rainy Day Freebie

I put together this quick freebie as a three step writing piece for my class!  Tomorrow we'll be using it to write about a rainy day that we experienced.  Feel free to use it with your class for any rainy writing piece!  Click the picture below to download it at my TPT store for free!

St. Patrick's Day Recap & My First Award!

Yesterday's St. Patrick's Day festivities were AMAZING!  The look on the kids faces was absolutely priceless!  They walked inside to find the classroom a complete mess!

They wanted to clean up the room before they even unpacked!  They had the mess cleaned up in two minutes flat.  It was awesome!

While they were cleaning one of them noticed green glitter all over/around their traps.  And of course, all of their traps were triggered.  They immediately reset all of the traps to try to catch the sneaky leprechaun!

Then, they saw their first clue.  They had a blast following the clues all around the building (you can get the clues I made for free in my previous post here).  When the last clue said the pot of gold was on my chair they all said "How didn't you notice that there was a pot of gold on your chair all morning? Were you sitting on it?"  Amazing!

When they got back to the classroom, there was a rainbow on our ceiling and a pot of gold on my chair!  How exciting is that!?

I have never seen my kids so excited about something!  It was awesome!

And after the excitement of my day, I had even more excitement at night: I got my first blog award!

A big thanks to Mrs. Cook at First Grade Smart Cookies for the Lovely Blog Award!

The rules for this award are:
1. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other bloggers.
3. Follow the person who sent it to you.

So now it's time to pay it forward!  My 15 favorite blogs (which is so difficult because there are so many great ones!) are:
Kindergarten Korner
Wild About Teaching
Growing Kinders
Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives
Of Primary Importance
Heather's Heart
Doodle Bugs Teaching
I Heart Teaching
Ms. Preppy
Fabulously First!
Fun 2B in First
Kindergarten Works
The Resource(ful) Room
What the Teacher Wants
Can Do Kinders

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Craziness! (and Another Freebie!)

I have never been one to go all out for St. Patrick's Day, but the other week our smartboard stopped working (temporarily, thank goodness), and I mentioned, "It must be a leprechaun!"  Based on the reactions of the kids, I had to get into it this year!

I sent home a letter to parents asking them to have their children design a trap to catch a leprechaun.  Here's what they came up with:

Have your students make leprechaun traps and try to "catch" a leprechaun this St. Patrick's Day!  Tons of fun!!!

Aren't they amazing?!

Well... tomorrow is the big day.  We left our traps set up over the weekend and we'll get to see if we caught anything!  Tomorrow morning, I'm going to go in and mess up the classroom (turn the calendar backwards, mix up the days of the week, turn chairs and tables on their sides, move furniture around, etc.)

I'm also going to have the kids go on a "Leprechaun Hunt!"  We're going to go around the building following the clues to try to catch the leprechaun!  While we're out of out classroom, someone will be going to our room to place a pot of gold on my chair!

Want to go on your own leprechaun hunt? Grab these free clues!

Go on a leprechaun hunt with your students this St. Patrick's Day!  Use these free, editable clues to follow the leprechaun to a pot of gold!

If you're looking for other fun St. Patrick's Day activities, I also have this cute digraphs game up on TPT. Check it out by clicking the picture below!

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Freebie to Celebrate!

Since I finally figured out how to add the button to follow me and I have my first four followers, I figured I'd celebrate a bit by posting a free game!  Click any of the pictures to take you to my TPT store to download it!

egged!  a FREE easter-themed cvc word game, perfect for centers!

cute cards from a free easter-themed cvc word game, perfect for centers!

To my new followers - thank you for following my new blog!   Enjoy the freebie!  Let me know if you like it!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spelling Success

I started something this year which has made a MAJOR difference in my classroom... word crowns.  I use these crowns in two ways... for new words that we're adding to the word wall and to review words for the spelling test.

First, let me talk about the new words.  New words get a fancy crown... like this gold crown below (from the dollar store of course!), or a crown with bunny ears, or a crown made from bulletin board trim.

Every crown has re-adjustable velcro in the back of it (you can kind of see it on the right half of the photo above).  This lets me store the crowns easily and easily adjust them for different students from day to day.

There also a small piece of velcro on the front of each crown that I attach the word to... I figured this was easier than storing 100 crowns throughout the year (each with their own word) and it allows me to easily put a picture with the new word.

Once we introduce a new word, the student gets to wear it all day on their new crown  The picture on the crown matching the one on the word wall and on the smartboard activity that we use to introduce the new word.  This helps a lot with my ELLs!

In addition to the "Word of the Day" crown, we also have spelling crowns. 

We have a weekly spelling test on Friday, so each Monday we announce the new words.  I pick a student to be in charge of each word for the week.  They then wear the spelling crown all week.  We have a special bin to keep the crowns in when you're not wearing them so that they don't make the room a mess when we're not wearing them.

I have a second set of words in the same color on the easel to help with the students' memory.  I know the words below are from a different week, but leave it to my children to take a picture of the easel when they're the technology helper!

In using these crowns, I no longer have a child tell me, "I didn't know that word was going to be on the test!" (despite it being sent home earlier in the week) and I have had amazing success on the spelling tests.  The words above (too, by, with, but, take, was, this, some) are our sight words from last week and the lowest score on the test was a 98% (7/8 correct, plus 2 bonus words for spiral review).  I think that's pretty incredible success on such difficult words in Kindergarten!

Update 8/5/12... I have finally made sets of these crowns available for sale with matching word wall sets!  Check them out at TPT by clicking the pictures below!

What spelling tricks do you use with your students?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Do You Want Cheap Books For Your Classroom?

How would you like to have totes (yes, totes!) full of books for your classroom without breaking the bank!?  Yes, I know it sounds like a gimmick, but I promise you it's not!

In addition to having a fully stocked classroom library, I have 11 totes full of books in my basement! And not just any totes, they're huge totes that hold 100-200 books each!

how to get books for the classroom for dirt cheap! you can sometimes get 300 books (of your choice!) for 10$

Obviously, the cost of books can add up quick, especially when there are so many great books out there (and so many topics that we want to teach about!). But, there is a way to get books for your classroom for dirt cheap... library books sales!!! These are probably the best way to build a classroom library!  You can sometimes get a whole bag of books for $5!!!

The best way I've found library books sales is through this website:

Note: I'm not getting paid to promote the website, I'm posting it because it honestly is the best!!

Browse through the site to find sales near you. Usually the ones that state "Big Sale!" are pretty good, but only trial and error will really work. You can sign up for a weekly email alerts so you're always aware of the sales in your area (without having to remember to check the website!)

Now, any given day at a library sale is a steal for books... but do you want books for your classroom that are basically free?  Of course you do!!!!

So you need to go to the book sales on the best day... bag day! Most large library sales have this the last day of their sale. Fill up a whole bag full of books for $5!

A lot of places let you even bring your own bag... I get a kick out of people with giant beach bags full of books (ok, so I'm usually one of those people but it is funny to watch)!

Not only do I use bag day to stock up on new books for the classroom, but I also use it to fill my treasure chest! The kids just love to bring home books as a prize for their good behavior! I started off this year with two totes full of books for the treasure chest (easily 300 books that I paid a total of $10 for) and all of these books were gone by December! They were the most popular prize as well as the least expensive!