Saturday, May 20, 2017

Music Poetry

Last year I started using Deedee's music poems. My co-teacher was using them and I could always hear the song and the kids singing along, so I asked her about it. She said her kids really loved the songs so of course I investigated. I bought one month just to see how it would go, where could I fit in another activity, and to see if my class would enjoy them. I have to tell you, they were a HIT right off the bat. So then I got more and this year I started using them in September and I put them in a station. The kids were not very successful with the poetry station as I was hoping. They could not put the poem in order and had trouble reading the words. Now of course this is September of Kindergarten so I wasn't too surprised, but I wanted to know how Deedee did it with her class. So I investigated more and came across this post; Daily Poetry. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am, I saw what I was doing wrong and what I could do to improve and I did!
Now I have re-introduced the poetry station and the kids are much more successful. I put the poems in the week after we've done them, and I keep about 2-3 poems in there (just the last couple we have done). At first I just put them in big gallon bags to keep them, but then I had the thought of using 11x9 manila folders, laminate them like we do for the kids' weekly take home folder, and then they'll last (and the I can won't get lost so we know what goes in each folder). Everything that is on the "I Can" I have put in the folder. I put velcro dots on them to keep them closed, but they have not been working as well so I'm trying this week to just have the folders and I'm crossing my fingers all the poem parts stay in. (Deedee also does a great job of labeling the sorting pieces so if they get separated then it's easy to find their home)
The kids usually find the poem in our song book, or they just read it from the front. Then they work together with their partner to put the poem in order. Sometimes they each choose one to do on their own, which is fine as well. It's always funny to see them working on a poem that was a class favorite because they know it so well they sing it as they put it together and then go over and over it.
I have loved using these this year because it is something all of my kids can do, it helps them recognize words, punctuation, sight words, rhyming words, directionality, and much more. Most importantly, they LOVE them. I don't think I have come across a poem yet that we have done, that wasn't a favorite. When we have a few moments in the day of extra time, this is a great go to. I pick kids from my name sticks and they get to choose any poem (except for Loose Tooth right now because they sing it ALL the time 😊) and we sing it as a class. There are also videos that go along with the poems, so I usually pick those.
Here is a FREEBIE for a summer poem, so you can try it out. There is a 5-day plan that goes along with it, but no music. But if you are intrigued (which I hope you are), you can do what I did and just start off with a month and see what you think. But I promise you, that you will want the whole year and possibly even both Poetry 1 and 2, which I have and I love to pick and choose between them (which is sometimes very hard and then we just have 2 poems but I wouldn't recommend doing that because they don't learn the poems as well) and I pick ones that go with our themes.

I will try to get more pictures of the kids using the station so you can see what it looks like in my room.

Happy Teaching!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Days till First Grade and ABC Countdown

We are finally in the last 26 days of school! I'm not sure about anyone else, but this has been a really hard year; after 10 years of teaching this has been probably the most challenging. So I am excited to be starting our countdown. I am also starting a new part of it as well - a countdown of days till we are first graders! We have started with being "First Graders in Training" and so to go along with that I started the countdown till they are first graders. With this I am trying to help them get excited for what is coming next for them.

Each day as we do a craft to go along with our ABC countdown letter of the day, we will take a chain off.  I got this idea from Bright Concepts for Teachers and there are other grades on her site if you are in need. My hope in doing this, as I said before, is to get the kids excited about next year. 
For our ABC countdown, I took some ideas from Mr. Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasboard and his ABC Countdown and made it fit my class. You can click on the picture to download the Word Document to edit and use for your classroom if you would like. 
We are also going to be making an ABC book for each letter. So our craft may go into the book or if there is no craft, we'll just draw a picture of something that begins with each letter. 

So I hope you're having fun planning the end of your year activities and you have a few less days than I have. :)

Happy Teaching!!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Running My Stations (Math and Literacy Explained)

I've gotten a lot of questions on how I run my literacy stations; fantastic! Happy to explain. I should note that I'm the only kinder teacher at my school who does stations. First grade does them and that is where I first learned about them. When I pull small groups I use Deedee and Deanna's Guided Readers (LOVE!)
I run both my math and literacy with the Debbie Dillar model of two students working together and I assign each of them two stations. I used to do 3, which can work but with the amount of time that I have, I only have time for 2 (barely). We do each station for 15-18 minutes depending on when we start; I put my stations in before our first recess so I have 45 minutes to fit them in, which does work. I used to make my own cards and the entire time I used them (even though I would put the same card on the tub that the kids needed to use) the kids never got the hang of them. They were constantly asking me which one they were supposed to go to next, which one we were on, etc. etc. Then about 2 years ago I came across Deedee Wills' blog and discovered her station cards, Heaven sent I tell you. My kids pick up on the way things go so fast now, I can hardly believe it.
So here is my board:
 I have 6 groups. And there are 4 students in most of the groups, but 5 in my lowest and 2 in my highest. I started off the year with matching kiddos that were a little bit higher with ones that were a little bit lower but with my lowest group being pulled part way through their first station, it just made sense for me to group them all together and pull them to meet with me most. This way I also don't have a lot of kiddos constantly working by themselves when their partner leaves. I put our Voice Levels chart there mainly because I had a bunch of empty space and nowhere else to put them. On the left side out of the picture are the station expectations which we go over almost everyday as a reminder (these can both be found here in Let's Get Organized!) When the day ends, I simply move their stations down. If they were working with me or my EA, I usually put our cards over their station that is there, so then I just leave it and they get to do it the next day. I used to spend so much time planning out what each kiddos out do each week and it became such a hassle. Then I took a class from a fellow teacher on literacy stations, and she just moved them down and changed out a few when needed and the light bulb went off and I thought "Of course!".  So now that's what I do and it saves A TON of time.

I did write about how I do my Word Work Tubs, which you can read about here. The other stations I have are

  • Computers, which I load some web-based games on that I purchased from Pink Cat Studio as well as games like Starfall 
  •  Listening Station
  • Tiggly iPad Station
  • iPad Explore Station (I'm very lucky to have a set of 7 iPads minis in my room from our district)
  • Osmo Station
  • Stamping Station
  • Buddy Reading (which I use another set of iPads for and our leveled readers are on an app) Students pick out a pick and read the same one together taking turns. 
  • Writing Station
  •  Pocket Chart Station (which I use the Predictable Sentences)
  • LeapFrog Listening Station (which I really enjoy since there are games in many of the books) 
  • Puzzles Station
  • Games Station 
  • Fine Motor
  • Poetry Station

Phew!

(Here pictured is the Tiggly Station)
Yes I know that I have a lot, but no we do not do all of them every week. I like to have a lot so I can pick and choose what my students do. There may be a few weeks we go without anyone doing the Listening Station or the Computer Station. The Fine Motor station is great for the start of the year and for putting infrequently throughout the year. I like to have these, what I call "more fun stations" (only to myself not to the kids), so when I have an assessment day I can put these stations up on the board for students whom I usually work with in small group because they need it, but since I need to assess they need something they will be successful at and all the time, they are still learning!

My math stations are run the exact same way; the math stations have numbers 1-12. I have my Math Tubs assigned very closely to Elizabeth Hall's BUILD concept: Buddy games, Using manipulatives, Independent reading (which I usually but an interactive emergent reader in a tub and then use other games for a different tub), Learning about numbers, Doing math. so I have them assigned as this:

  • 1 & 7 - Buddy games. These have games such as Connect 3, Bump, and More or Less
  • 2 & 8 - Using manipulatives. I have these using different games, I may have Bump in 2 since it does use manipulatives, or some addition/subtraction games. In 8 I have our shapes to making shape pictures.
  • 3 & 9 - Independent Reading - At first I started putting Elizabeth Hall's Independent Reader books in 3 and some other fun math books in 9. But copies started to add up so now I have some math sentence games in these. These are ones with addition or subtraction cards and the kids have to write the correct equation for each card.
  • 4 & 10 - Learning about Numbers - this is another great way to incorporate any math games you want students to work on to help them "learn about numbers". Here I put things we are working on. Shapes, Tens and Ones, Clay Numbers, Counting cards (dice games of rolling a number an writing what is next), or whatever else you would like them to work on.
  • 5 & 11 - Doing Math. These tubs are great for differentiating addition and subtraction. We work on 1-5 the first part of the year and then later in the year we work on 1-10 so this is a great station for that. I keep 1-5 in tub 5 and then in tub 11 I can have 1-10 so it is easier to differentiate. 
  • 6 & 12 - Supplemental. Here is where I get to put in different things I want that might be either be too many for a certain tub (I do try to keep everything to 2-3 games) so I can put them in here. Tub 12 though is the Osmo numbers game that is a huge hit with my group (and has been since last year when I first introduced it). The thing I love about Osmo is that it is so easy to give each student what they need to work on and with the math it goes with their learning (so it is one less thing for me to do). :)

They have different partners for their math stations and here is where I can really utilize the stronger learners with the not so strong learners. Especially those that struggle with working independently and/or being successful with it. With math groups I do still pull pairs over with me and what I mainly do (since this is the first year I've actually pulled groups for math stations since we do not have a curriculum for small group math), I play math games with them; mainly Math Fluency Games, which my kids seriously LOVE! They have been so funny this year. We started these games in the winter with the winter theme and then when it became time for Spring, i changed the theme out and the first few groups of pairs I played with, they said to me, "This is just like the game we used to play with the igloo! I've played this before!" I would assure them, yes you have it's just a different theme. 😂 Awe love them.

I laminate almost EVERYTHING for stations. This way the kids can play the games more than one time and keep the learning going! (and I don't have to make tons of copies). The only things I don't make lamination copies is for the stamping station (tired it was terrible), writing stations, and listening. Pretty much everything else I laminate the response sheet or it does not need a response sheet. How do I keep track of what they are doing? They turn in the papers they work on their their table tubs and things that don't require a response sheet are either similar things I go over in small group or we do something whole group that I can check over to see if they are doing it correctly.

I do a lot of whole group teaching and projects. I've found it is hard to make sure I have sufficient parent support (I know life happens, I don't judge, it's ok!) so I have just found it easier for me to teach many things whole group and then I can see how my kids are thinking on their own (are they using their own brain or relying on those around them all the time? What happens when those kids are not always there? Can they do it on their own (yes they can, they just have to try)). We are also able to do all of our art projects whole group; which is tons of fun and we love Directed Drawings.

So that is how I run my stations. I hope it has answered any questions you might have had.  Please comment with questions and/or comments if you would like to know more.



Thursday, May 4, 2017

How I Organize My Word Work Stations

I posted a picture recently on a Kindergarten group I am part of on Facebook and had lots of questions. So here are some answers (it's a bit long so please stick with me and you can download these cards at the end of the post):
Last year I started using Deedee Wills' station cards (they're FREE) and once I started using them I was amazed at how quickly my students learned how to use our station board and move from station to station. They were even able to find the tubs MUCH easier than ever before. It was fantastic. This year I have been doing some tweaking. I use A LOT of Deedee's creations and they have been wonderful for myself and for my students but these may not be for you and that is totally ok, I just want to go over what I do just incase you find something you also like.
All of the links I'm sharing are to the products I use of hers since they are the main activities in my tubs. Even if you do not use any of Deedee's products, these tubs can still be filled with whatever you would like and they are great for differentiation.

I use her monthly Math and Literacy packets as well as some other Math and Literacy things. for these tubs. Since there are so many great things for the kids to work on, I wanted to pair it down and really make sure I have tubs where the kids can focus on what they need to work on and assign certain stations to certain pairs of kids and know they are getting what they need.

So what is in each tub? Well I started them from easy to more challenging. This way I can have certain groups of students work on certain tubs over and over and keep them in the beginning of the alphabet and for students that need more of a challenge, they can do the later letters. I do have many that I have do almost all of the tubs throughout a few weeks, but they usually always have a focus tub.

  • Word Study A - Play Doh letters and words (You can find those here). Who doesn't love some good play doh fun? We do a letter a week with our reading curriculum so I put that letter in and then will usually keep the past few letters in as well so students can continue to practice. I never keep more than 4-5 letters in the tub at a time.
  • Word Study B - Beginning Sound and Ending Sound. With this station I use a lot of different activities, which is a lot of fun. There are puzzles, and games from each month's literacy pack. These are very fun to switch out because each month there is a new theme and the kids are always excited to see what will be next (and also don't always notice they are always practicing the same skills). The other thing I keep in this tub pretty much all year and just change it is ABC lowercase/uppercase letter matching. I'll change it to matching beginning sounds once I notice all of my students are able to match the lowercase letters with their uppercase mate. 
  • Word Study C - Rhyming - This station has become one of my favorites. Mainly because I am able to put in an There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Rhyme game that I ordered from Scholastic and the kids think it's hilarious to feed the old lady her rhymes. I mainly use this game in small group, but once most everyone has played it, I put it in the tubs. I also use the rhyming games that come with the monthly math and literacy stations. Another favorite is in the later stations like April and May when there is a picture on the card and then the kids have to find the rhyming picture on the recording sheet. This is a fantastic challenge for most kiddos. I also like the rhyming in the right the room and monthly stations where there are two pictures and the kids have to decide if they rhyme or not with a thumbs up or thumbs down.  
  • Word Study D - Syllables and Word Families - This station has mainly started out with syllables but as the year goes on I've added word families as well because by this time students should have syllables down, but there are still those kiddos that need work on it. So this is a nice station to work on two things. I also like word families because it reinforces rhyming skills as well, so score!

  • Word Study E - Vowels and CVC - I like having these higher letter for later in the year or even for those kiddos that come in already reading and needing a bit of a challenge. With these, there are some great vowel games and changing CVC words in the monthly Math and Lit. My kids have really enjoyed the changing CVC words; they're like little detectives solving the mystery. 
  • Word Study F - Blends and Digraphs - Again this is a nice station to have as my students grow their skills and some need to move onto this skill while others may still need to work on beginning sounds or rhyming they have the opportunity to do so.  
  • Word Study G - Sentences - I REALLY like this station and it is a higher letter BUT  there are some very easy sentences in the Math and Lit early months that students can grow with. I have my students match the picture with the sentence and then write the sentence on the recording sheet (which I believe is what the I Can card says to do). So in the beginning of the year as students are learning sight words, they can read the simple sentences and match the picture to what they have read.  Now that I have made a place for these, I'm excited to see my students grow in their sentence writing even more. ( I should add that I have been using Deedee's Predictable Sentences (or Super Sentences when I purchased them) for our writing station and they are (of course) amazing. My kids really enjoy making sentences with them and these as well grow as the year goes on)
  • Word Study H - Sight Words - This station is wonderful. There are SO many possibilities that you could use to help your students practice their sight words. I have an old Candy Land set that I just write the words or print on labels and put on the color cards (I've done both and I think printing is best for me). The game is played the exact same as Candy Land and the kids just have to read the words to move to the right colors. I also use Roll Say Keep (which right now the other themes are in our game station so the kids can keep practicing and I put current themes with this tub and with me in small groups). My kids have LOVED Roll Say Keep all year and what I love about it is that I can edit it to match the sight words for our curriculum or that we are currently working on and just print multiple copies so there are multiple times to practice. Speaking of multiple times to practice, a math game that has been an all time favorite of my room for the past few years is Connect 3 (which is available in ANY of Deedee's math stations) and so in the Sequence Initial Sound and Sight Word packet, I can look at our assessments if sight words (which I use ESGI) and see which words most are struggling with and use those to put in the game. There are 5 words for kids to practice and one Free Space. I tell you, this game has been a HIT! We did it whole group first and then moved it to the station and I have seen a huge excitement in practicing sight words. 
Another very fun game for sight word practice is the Sight Word Spelling Games. This has been awesome. I used it most of the year and then I took a webinar put on by ESGI and Kim Adsit from KinderGals was the speaker. This woman was AMAZING! I have a new view on teaching sight words from this webinar. I now show the kids the word, have them read it, then turn it away from them for them to spell. I have seen such a difference in the way my kids spell the sight words from just using this small change when playing this game in small group. The brain is an amazing thing. Another good game is Just Roll With It which you can use pocket chart dice (which I purchased on Amazon) and you can edit the dice for the words your kids need and also edit the recording sheet for them to either trace the words or to write themselves.
The main thing I have learned from changing the way I do stations, is that putting games into learning is a HUGE game changer. Also having only two stations for a bit longer of a time and not seeing every single kiddo every day has also been awesome. I use the Debbie Dillar form of stations where the students work with a partner (if you have read any of Deedee's station posts, she does the same thing so having the two stations for a bit longer of a time is nice and the kids can and do become more independent)
I am very fortunate to have an EA (Educational Assistant) for my reading time. I have her pull the kiddos that I am not worried about with their progress. I provide her with everything she needs to run these groups and I assess each kiddos every week so I can keep track of how they are doing. She also updates me on how the kids are doing, so we can make changes as necessary.

So that is the bulk of my literacy stations. I also have the Writing Station (so much fun to read what my kiddos come up with), puzzles, listening station (I use some of the Listen Up! printables, but only when I can find them on Scholastic and use my points.), pocket chart with I use the predictable sentences, I also use LeapFrog pens and books for another listening station, and iPad minis (that my district provided for kinder) with Tiggly and Osmo (both systems I was able to get through a grant on Donors Choose but highly recommend if you are able to do so).

Happy Teaching!!

To download the cards, just click on the title or the picture.

Word Work A-H Station Cards

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Back to School Freebie

My school district still has about 28 days left till teachers need to report but I know lots of other teachers around the US are getting ready to head back if they have not already. It always amazes me when I go back to my classroom how much I always have to set up. There are the big things of course such as the furniture and figuring out where I want things to go, but I guess it's all the little things that we always have to do and usually forget something. I have no checklists that I can post since many of them I have gotten from other teachers and paid for, but one such was from Karen Jones. She did a free webinar on Kindergarten 101 (She has another one coming up so click here if you want to register). I found this webinar very helpful and got lots of ideas that I will hopefully be able to implement this coming year so if you are new or been teaching kindergarten for a while, I would recommend her webinar.
I'm hoping to head into my classroom sometime next week. I don't want to head in too early and end my summer but I also know that I will only have about a day to get everything done and ready for my little ones to come and learn. As we all know, there is just so little time to get everything ready so I found my editable first day (and beyond) transportation list for you to use if you would like. I have always found it much easier to have everything on one sheet of paper and separated by each way there is to get home. Please free to share as well. Click on the picture to download.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Conference, Store, and Blogging, Oh My!

Well I first just have to apologize for this very late post. I have just been enjoying my summer, which basically has consisted of walks, TV, and lots of delicious cider. I have also been trying to maintain (and find) the work-life balance. I was not very good at that this year, so I'm working on it; basically too much work and not enough life was happening. I love my job so it's really hard not to be excited about new ideas, so I'm trying to reign it in a bit and really focus on a few things. First two happened just this week; my FIRST teacher conference ever and I opened up a TPT store Mrs. Barton's Adventures in Teaching.
I went to the SDE conference in Las Vegas. I heard about it for the first time last year and wasn't able to go, so this year it was pretty exciting that I was able to go. I went for one day because I had to pay for it myself. I mainly went and listened to Deedee Wills because she has so many amazing ideas on writing and that is what we are supposed to focus on as a teaching goal this coming school year, so I figured why not go and listen to an expert and someone I admire A LOT. All I have to say is she was AMAZING! I skipped my final session just to go and hear her again. She is super sweet and so funny.
I also go to see Elizabeth Hall, (in her words) y'all it was awesome. She is so cute and I just love her ideas. She is super sweet and just as fun in person as I thought she would be. The first person I met was Mr. Greg and his wonderful husband Jason. OMG are they just the cutest, sweetest people! I was so overwhelmed and shaking with excitement, and both of them just helped calm me down, gave me hugs and lots of advice (and also made me feel really special). It was a great way to start things off. So much great information was shared and I'm really inspired to start my new year (I'm just hoping I can incorporate everything the way I want to).

So my store:
I'm kind of excited about this, but I know it is going to be a very slow process since there are SO many great teachers out there making amazing things and I just have two things (whether or not they are amazing is soon to be seen). If you click on the link above you'll be able to find my free product that was featured on Mrs. Deedee Wills' site about saving paper (which I also blogged about here). I love the concept about saving paper, not just cause I like trees, but because I have been on a mission this year (mainly due to the huge stress of last year) to not make a lot of copies. It's a long story, I don't want to drag you into it, but at my school we need to count copies and if we go over what we are given it comes out of our classroom budget. So I'm hoping to avoid that. :) These Exit Tickets are just one way I came up with to do that.
Another thing, or the only other thing so far, you will find in my new store is Firehouse Fact Families. I have been so inspired by Mrs. Elizabeth Hall and her two creations of Vowel Surgery and Punctuation Police, that I wanted to come up with a math version. So at the time my class was just starting to touch on fact families. We were adding and subtracting, so I liked to bring the fact families in as an additional resource. I have to tell you, they loved it. Yes most were a bit confused at first, but once we went over it and over it, they soon were able to understand it (again we learned that the more you practice, the better you get). So I was really wanted to bring in something like Vowel Surgery or Punctuation Police where the kids could act out being something, while still learning valuable concepts. As I was on a walk with my husband, it somehow just came to me, what community helper starts with F? Firefighters! And so Firehouse Fact Families came to be.
I did this with my students toward the end of the year, mainly because that's when I was able to get the project done. Here are some pictures of them. I spread it out around our school's courtyard so they were able to go to each house just as they would in write the room (another huge favorite of my kiddos).




I am telling you, they LOVED this! It was pretty warm outside so many of them were kind of done after more than 30 mins. So this can be done either a whole group lesson or put out as a write the room (or add and subtract the room I guess you would call it). If you would like to buy this product, click on the picture below to be taken to my store!

Thank you so much for stopping by! I'm hoping to be blogging more and posting more ideas!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Painting and Craft Supplies Made Easy

It's finally summer vacation! I have not posted lately mainly because I haven't had many ideas and I am also working on something pretty special that I'm really excited about. I tried it with my class and they did love it, but it's not perfect yet so I don't want to quite share it with everyone...yet.
I know many other teacher bloggers write about all of their dollar store finds and what they do with them and now I am going to be one of them. One of my favs, Mr. Greg, blogged about finding these flower plates and how he used them for math stations. I was thinking this was a good idea and went to my local dollar store to find them. When I did finally find them, I had another idea when I saw them; paints! So I have round tables, which have been good and bad (that I'll get into in another post). My idea for these little flower plates would be to put different paint colors in each "petal" and then put it in the center of the tables and then the kids each have access to all of the colors. One big container, less mess.
                       
Clean up was so easy with this project! Finger paints are the best, I just have to say that. I have also used these for art supplies. Put everything that is needed in each part of the flower and then the kids have access to everything they need and there is no need to prepare multiple sets of the same thing for either each pair or each student.
Thank you Dollar Store for all your crazy things that teachers find so useful.