Sandy Hook in our Hearts Today and Always

Sandy Hook is in our hearts today and always. I think of them often, 
but today my heart is so heavy. There is little to say, but much to do.
A little kindness can go a long way. 
Love, Remember and Honor them
with Random Acts of Kindness.

Sandy Hook Elementary
12 -14 -12


Close Reading: Holiday Edition!

This week we welcomed December with a Close Reading about Reindeer! They really loved it and did such a cute job with their annotations. As they get more comfortable with that process it is so fun to see what words and phrases they choose to make note of. One little guy of mine who is   s  l  o  w   to get going on his writing everyday was so motivated by the reindeer facts. I was so pleasantly surprised at how much time he took, and the words he remembered from the readings that he wanted to write about. So cute how proud he was of his work  :o)
We did a simple little art activity too, of course the glittered red noses went over big!
This is one of the Close Reading passages along with lots of writing response pages, vocabulary cards etc.  available in my Close Reading for Kindergarten & First Grade: The Holiday Edition!

Tomorrow I will share this quick 2 minute clip with real reindeer in action before we do our writing…
Here it is if you're interested!


The pig is hot!

A little reminder of why I love teaching 5 year olds…..
Today we were illustrating sentences and I wrote this sentence on the white board: "The pig is hot." I proceeded to illustrate it with a pig sweating bullets under a bright sun.
One of my littles said: " Oh thank goodness! I thought you were going to draw a very stylish pig, because there are two kinds of hot you know!! ". So of course we had to draw version two with the other meaning of the word hot…
They provide unlimited entertainment! I love my kids :o)


Teen Numbers and Beginning Place Value

Wow… seems like it gets earlier every year, but we are already teaching teen numbers! (not that they will all get it yet!!) I, like most of you I'm sure, talk about the teen numbers naturally when we do the calendar, how many days in school etc. The little high flyers are naturally grabbing on and curious, so they are really enjoying the "new" numbers being added to our number of the day routine. When I created the Number Sense Anchor Charts for Little Learners (0-10) I wanted a resource that was very crisp, clean and easy to read, so that's exactly what I created. I recently published Number Sense Anchor Charts for Little Learners (11-20). These were also created with the "clean and crisp" in mind, but I also wanted to add the component of beginning place value. Every number shows multiple representations of 10 and …. or 10 + ….  (ten frame, dice, tallies, hands, linking cubes, kids) as well as the numeral itself with directional arrows for writing, and the number name.
Number sense is such a challenge! For some kids it is so natural, and for many it requires a very deliberate approach to help them "see" the math, not just memorize the symbol.  I really try to teach my kids (starting with the calendar) to think of teen numbers as 10 + another number. When we are counting objects we always make a group of ten first, and then a group of whatever is left.

I discovered "Harry Kindergarten Music" songs that are great for supporting instruction too!
Here are a couple of his video songs that my kids are loving!

Thanksgiving Uncovered!

I love Thanksgiving. The story, the food, the time with family. THE PIE :o)
I had so much fun creating my Thanksgiving Uncovered resource! It is a culmination of MANY years of doing all of these different activities! The kids have so much fun with it and it is such a fantastic way to integrate so many skills!  I love giving kids the opportunity to use their blooming oral language skills to retell the story of Thanksgiving at the felt center (and with their story sticks to take home and practice on family!). I recently updated the unit to include a Close Reading activity with all of the response pages included! Here's my storytelling station all set up and ready to go, more pictures to come!

Close Reading Annotations:

Pie Making Directions:  :o) 


Pumpkins Close Read Annotations (Kindergarten)

SO sorry this is so late in getting posted! My "real" job has been kicking my booty lately!!
We did our Pumpkins Close Read a couple of weeks ago and the kids did a great job on the annotations. :o)  It is NOT about Halloween! It is a great passage for anytime of year.
We did the annotations on the second day after re-reading. It looked much like the annotations portion of the Bats close read. I annotated one thing at a time on the smartboard (sorry I didn't get a picture of this), and then kiddos went back to seats to do what I did.

•Discussion/modeling about the title and the word pumpkins - kiddos back to seats to circle title and highlight the word pumpkins then back to floor.
•Discussion/modeling about the sun/soil/water - kids back to seats to circle text and annotate with illustrations. After this they were interested in annotating other words or phrases that resonated with them. (Some drew seeds, flowers, etc.)
My role during this time is to support when they are looking for words within the text. It always amazes me the amount of words they remember from the readings that they are still interested in finding and annotating, or calling attention to in some way!

•This activity is included in my Pumpkin Life Cycle resource. It is not in the
Close Reading for Kindergarten & First Grade Quarter 2 Bundle. The Quarterly Bundles have
totally different passages (no repeats!) than what I include in my other resources (if someone purchases more than one of my resources I want them to have all new stuff!!)
•For "highlighting" we use  yellow and orange crayons!

Thanks for your patience!
More on Close Reading in Kindergarten coming soon!

Bits About Bats!

We had a little time in the last couple of days so we spent some time learning about Bats while practicing our close reading strategies too! I recently added a close reading activity with writing extensions to my Bits About Bats! mini unit. So fun! They really loved it, here are a few pictures of some of their annotations,  (Since people have been asking for examples... the top annotation is mine) The day we annotated we went from floor to table first just to circle the title. Back to the floor and we discussed nocturnal, I annotated (with the sun for daytime). We also talked about the phrase "upside down". After this they went back to their seats to annoated. I support during this time by helping them to find words or phrases in the text (if they have trouble) that they wish to make reference to by circling the word(s) and drawing an arrow to annotate/illustrate.  I'll add some more pictures this week!

I have a page of resources listed in unit, here is one of the videos from National Geographic kids! 
(Here is the link as well:  Wild Detectives: Bats By Night)
Can't use U-Tube at school? Me neither! Try! 
You can download at home and save to your flashdrive :o)


Parent Teacher Conference Bookmark FREEBIE!

Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.  
~Emilie Buchwald

It’s so true! Spread some love and inspiration with parents of your students at Parent Teacher Conferences with these sweet bookmarks to remind them of how important reading aloud is! 
Print - cut - tie a ribbon - done!

Parent Teacher Conference Bookmark FREEBIE

Student Engagement & Authentic Conversations

Nerd alert... I like research. The longer I teach the more I like it. More about that below.  :o)
We are, like everyone else this time of year, trying to get our kinder kids talking. They talk all day of course, but trying to get them talking in complete sentences, asking quesitons and engaging in meaningful academic conversations is....possible!
I like words. I like talking with inflection and expression. Let's face it, when I am in my classroom, alone with my little friends, I am an actress on stage with my captive audience. :o)
The more animated I talk, teach, read, sing... etc., the more engaged they are. The more engaged they are, the more purposeful and authentic their conversations are. Student engagement and student to student interaction are SO intermingled. It would seem to me that you really can't have one without the other. I am BIG on kids talking together. When I am teaching I probably pose a question to them at least 6 or 7 times during a lesson, sometimes more. "Turn and ask your partner what they noticed about the ......"(partners talk) "Who can raise your hand and tell me in a complete sentence what you and your partner discussed?"
(Model sentence frame... "My partner and I noticed that......") We do this so many times a day during every content area, it is just the normal. I walk around as they talk. I listen, encourage, but mostly listen.
I am not big on contrived conversations.... (peaunut butter/jelly's etc.). I've done it in the past, it's just not my preference. I just find that my kids are better at talking in a more natural way, meaning that I don't ask the person who is taller to talk first, or the jelly's, or the person with the longest hair. We just turn to our partners and take turns asking,talking, listening. Like normal people do. They really can do it, but it does take lots of modeling, prompting, support and practice.
At the beginning of the year I do lots of modeling with stuffed animals. This year it is Piglet and Kanga. They had problems being partners at first, but they are getting much better. Piglet is finally learning that he (he is a boy, right?) can't always talk first, and Kanga is learning that she has to be a good listener when her partner is talking. Thank goodness they are getting the hang of it so they can show the kids what to do! ;o)
 Now they are learning to give compliments to each other and to occasionally be asked to raise their hand and share something great their partner shared or behaved duringa conversation  (LOVE the look on the partner's face :o) when they do this.

Back to my nerdy love of research. I liked this article about engagement from Beyond the Journal and I thought you might like it too!
 (Using Engagement Strategies to Facilitate Children's Learning and Success by Judy Jablon and Michael Wilkinson, Young Children, NAEYC, March 2006). Here's the link:

Using Engagement Strategies to Facilitate Children's Learning and Success


Investigation! Pumpkins Uncovered!

The little detective / scientists have been busy investigating pumpkins this week! The Pumpkins Close Read has been going well, lots of somewhat familiar, but juicy words to talk about! Annotiations will be next.
Yesterday we did our investigation page for science. We measured the circumference with yarn, checked to see if it was heavy or light, and then we got messy! Cut it open to see if it had LOTS of pulp or only a little !
We counted the seeds and put them into piles of 10's so we could count them by 10's. It was a bit challenging to say the least with 30 and just little ol' me, but we got it done! We let the seeds dry out overnight so they could glue a few seeds to their Investigation page this morning. I love how thrilled they were with the whole experience, and the natural use of great language that happened as a result. I was thinking how it would be fun to let them do two investigations for two pumpkins so that they could compare :o) but then I came to my senses and remembered how pooped I was, so there will not be a second one! LOL!

    Pumpkin Life Cycle: Common Core Galore Literacy Activites and Learning Centers!

We have been practicing retelling the Life Cycle of the Pumpkin with the felt figures in centers (so awesome to hear re-tells with non-fiction!). On Thursday we made our individual story sticks and practiced re-telling with partners. They did so GREAT! It was one of those activities that made me glad that we invested the time and energy to go deeper into the content. The re-tells and the conversations that followed were so rich. Full of relevant vocabulary and questions. It is also amazing to think about the number of objectives crossing content areas that come into play in a culmination activity such as this. Science, Math, Social Studies, and Language Arts all rolled up in to one big orange ball!


Apple Close Reading and Fun!

We worked on "Apples Sweet" the last couple of days (Close Reading poetry passage).
We are in the middle of our fall unit, and have read several books about apples, so timing was good and
we had established lots of good background information. It was our first poetry close read, and it was really fun! They loved acting out the peeling, slicing, and biting vocabulary, and talking about the apple seeds. We worked on annotations the second day, and they did much better this time than the last at zoning in on words that they were interested in annotating. It is really interesting to watch them process the information and then create the pictorial representations to create connections to the text.
Just for fun... we taste tested (tied into our talk about the 5 senses last week) red, green, and yellow apples with peanut butter and caramel (just like in the poem!) Of course they loved it, and then they posted their vote for their favorite way to eat apples on our graph. ( I created the graph, laminated it for future use) and had them use sticky notes for their votes. We didn't have time for a full blown apple unit, but it tied in nicely to our fall unit, and sure was a fun way to bite :o)  into the content, while attacking reading, math and science objectives!
(Apples Sweet Close Reading activity with annotations page and writing prompts/Apple Tasting Graph
elements are all included in my  Close Reading for Kindergarten & First Grade Quarter 2 Bundle)


The Amazing Body!

We are having so much fun learning about the body. I always find it so interesting how much they don't know and how interested they are in everything we talk about. They really are little sponges! After talking about the digestive system today, they came back from lunch talking about how they could feel the cold milk going down their "food pipe". Too cute! I have been getting things ready for our Craftivity/Research project to do at the end of this week, I can't wait to see how excited they will be!
I have put together a resource to help teach little learners about the body. Lots of anchor charts (very child friendly) and lots of other goodies! (Writing prompts, vocabulary cards, Felt Figure Oral Language Center, Write Around the Room, and the fun Craftivity/Research Project).
I will update this post after the little researchers get their projects done!

Update! Oh boy, was that fun! They LOVED doing their very first reasearch project! I set up several
"writing stations" around the room with anchor charts, vocabulary cards, and books about the body.
I set up all of the materials on the table and we talked about what they could use to do their project.
The only thing I requested was that they write at least four or five journaling cards before they start.
I have never done a research project this early in the year, so I honestly wasn't sure what to expect, but I was actually really amazed! They REALLY loved going to the stations and writing, and their writing was SO much better than I expected. I was hoping for legible words and I got that, plus more from so many of them :o). Never did I hear "I can't", not once. They all did something, and they really
owned it. The range of finished projects was definitely wide as far as ability, but each was very proud and loved what they had produced. I tried to get around to as many as I could to elicit some conversation "Tell me about this organ?" They really soaked up the facts, great language and vocabulary being used, and pretty good sentences (we are working hard on using complete sentences).
My favorite was "This is the stomach, it makes my food digested-ed".
One of my take aways for doing this next year is to have many more copies of the vocabulary words, this was just a really accessible way for many of them to connect the text to the content.
Next week we will share our projects with a "museum walk", and then I will hang them in the hallway.
I'll update then, until then, thanks for checking in!

      Body Parts Anchor Charts for Little Learners & Craftivity/Research Project

I have now completed The Body Close Reading and Listening for Little Learners! It is available on its own and also as a Bundle together with the Anchor Charts resource! It is the perfect companion!