Sunday, October 26, 2014

A little something old, and a little something new! Pumpkin Patch Week!

This week is going to be jam packed with lots to do! We will visit our local pumpkin patch, celebrate being drug-free and gear up for the last day of our week (Thursday for us).  We will carve our class jack-o-lantern, make a scarecrow man and more! Last year I created and shared a cute set of labeling activities that can be found in this previous blog post:

And for math, I have created a new recording sheet for "Roll and Daub".  Just give your student one die, have them to roll, record by daubing the ten frame, then write the number that tells how many.  When the sheet is full, students add all ten frames (count) to see who rolled the most! Several important skills can be practiced with this type of activity.  I hope you enjoy it!

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Another Bright Idea!! Use your phone's sound recorder for P-T Conferences!

  Are you familiar with this image? If so, you are onto something too!
(image borrowed from the site listed below)
Do your parent-teacher conferences seem to fly by too quickly? Do you often fail to get critical notes from your conference written down before the next parent arrives? Here is what I have found to be SO helpful! I use my sound recorder on my iPhone! Just remember to keep your phone charged, have it queued up and ready, and quickly "tell your phone" what you want to remember or do later.  For instance, I had a parent to request additional resources for sight words, so I told her I would be putting a slideshow on a private site where she can login for her child to practice at home.  I told "myself", "Upload slideshow to shutterfly."  That is just one of many notes I have on my recorder to sift through and act on before Monday.  Thank goodness for handhelds! This is how people recorded and docmented notes "in the beginning" lol. 
Yes, I have been around ALMOST that long! (my grands, my dad, and me in 1961)
 With sound recorders, you can listen and type later, and it is a whole lot easier than just a few years ago.  Remember these?
There really is no time to jot it down with only 15 minutes per conference, and those notes are such an insight into the lives of our students.  They are great for reflection as well as anecdotal, dated notes.  Recording your exact thoughts quickly imparts more information to yourself later.  
If you haven't tried this (and I am sure many of you may already use this), you should give it a try! I also used the recorder on my Android (pre-iPhone days).  Here is a great article on how to get started.
This article is part of the fabulous Bright Ideas Linky! 

Be sure to visit these other blogs with tons of bright ideas. 
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Have you Tweeted? Free #TeacherFriends Professional Development

It is so difficult to find time for travel to out of town professional development opportunities, not to mention asking for and receiving funds for doing so.  And, if you have been online at all in your search for ideas to help your students, you undoubtedly have seen the buzz word (acronym), "PLC". 
The late summer startup, #TeacherFriends fits the definition to a T of what an online PLC is:
 A professional learning community, or PLC, is a group of educators that meets regularly, shares expertise, and works collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students. The term is also applied to schools or teaching faculties that use small-group collaboration as a form of professional development. Shirley Hord, an expert on school leadership, came up with perhaps the most efficient description of the strategy: “The three words explain the concept: Professionals coming together in a group—a community—to learn.”

Tho we are not physically in the same room, we share, become educator-friends, and enjoy sharing and receiving information that makes us know we are abreast of the newest best practices in education.  All of this by just joining in with other educators once a week for one hour (or however long you decide to participate).  You can even be there in your jammies--a major selling point to joining in on the fun of an online community.
Refer to this post for some twitter tips:

We have several guests lined up for October-November! Check out our schedule:
 Each of these educators are amazing in their own right, and have so much to share.  
This week:
If you are interested in reading previous guest chats, here is a link to storify, the online log of all tweets from specific chats.  Lots of links and ideas!

I encourage you to try twitter for your professional community connections.  You will not be disappointed! Be sure to join our practice chat at 8:30 p.m., EST each Tuesday (right before our chat) to learn about how to participate.  My favorite tip:
Use #TeacherFriends when responding to ANY question or tweet.  Also, use to shorten links you share in your tweets.  Twitter is limited to 140 characters, so make your tweet count!  
Be sure to read this blog post for more twitter how-to info!
  Moderators to follow at #TeacherFriends:
@Kweezlequeen or @DebbieClement from (national presenter, songstress, and amazing artist)
@fuzzlady77 Kristen Poindexter, Shell's National Science Teacher of the Year 2014
@EducatorsSpin Kim Vij, former teacher, Pinterest guru, and twitter enthusiast
@maggieskinder Maggie Hufstedler, that's me! Kinder teacher, website developer/owner, teaching resources, blogger, and musician.

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Sunday, October 5, 2014

My 10-10 Strategy for Helping Friends Who STILL Do Not Know the Alphabet

Well this is embarrassing! School has taken over the past few weeks, so my blog posts have been few and far...f-a-r between.  I must do better! 
So, what has been happening in your classroom?
Probably the same thing that has been happening in my classroom!

 So many successes in letter and sound recognition, number recognition, learning about shapes, REAL writing during writer's workshop, and the list goes on and on.  I have enjoyed a very positive first quarter with a group of children who have mastered letters/sounds and are simply a joy to work with.  Life has been great! So happy to have had that experience.  Now, life is going to get REAL.  
I will be receiving half of the group of our struggling readers, so I have been getting my arsenal of tools ready for intense letters/sounds, names, and word study.  
Here is one successful strategy that works with 
wiggly, less attentive students who at times have little more focus than that of a flea :).  I call it my 10-10 strategy.  Research shows that most children will only focus for about ten minutes, but I find it is more like 7 or 8.  That small period of time must count because it accurately "frames" our real window of focus time (pun intended!).  
My 10-10 strategy goes something like this:
We always begin with our alphabet chant.  This is the set I made, but any large format alphabet chart will work.  My motive for making my own is so I could have small chartlets on table chart stands for practice during transition times.  My students are now pointing to random letters with partners to practice fluency.  This set can be found here.
I have an alphabet slideshow that loops continuously, so we do three rounds of the alphabet.  We end with a kinesthetic activity that gets kids moving.  To begin with, we clap Aa and stomp Bb, clap Cc, and stomp Dd, and so on.  (A-a, apple, B-b, balloon--we say the letter, the sound and the object for each letter).  After we finish the entire alphabet chant set, I start again and point at random letters telling students they should hop up if they know "this" letter (I do not say the letter name).  Students who hop up must state the letter and sound, then sit down.  We do this for about two minutes.  Then it is time to sit and play our next game.  I begin by introducing our focus letter or letters, then here comes round two of 10-10!
Round 2 (the next 10 minutes):
My little friends will not be ready for plickers yet, but when they are, we will do some individual assessment work and have fun with Mary's alphabet activities for use with Plickers.  Have you heard of If you haven't you'd better go read all about it! I love it, and my students love seeing their name with a green light by it when they answer correctly! Here is Mary's set:

Here is what I WILL begin with:  
Students love to catch a ball or a bean bag, so I use this to my advantage.  Up until last week, I had been holding up alphabet cards for students to identify, then threw the ball when they answered correctly.  This game really gets 100% involvement because throughout the game you remind students to watch each letter card so they will know the letter the next time it is their turn. 
Now, I know you will want to give every little friend a little gratification during the first game to get them invested in the activity, but after that, be "Supernanny" tough! Do not let them catch a ball unless they state the letter correctly.  By the time you get to them again, chances are they have been cramming for the test by looking at the class alphabet chart! Even the toughest customers will eventually come around because they do not want to miss out! 
 So, why the "up until last week" part (mentioned above)? I happened to mention to my neighbor that I was using this technique, and that nice girl was generous enough to let me borrow her bucket of alphabet balls! I love these things! They are definitely going on my wish list for next year.  Even if I have to make some! Lakeshore's site says they are discontinued. Sad, sad...

The Bonus Round (ten minutes)
And...if you are blessed enough to have a para or a tutor in your room, you can pull students to your reading table for intensive trace and chant support using Jan Richardson's method of teaching letters and sounds.  Students basically say the letter name as you help them trace the large letters.  Then they say the sound as you trace again.  Do this every day to see significant improvement.  
I always end my guided group time with name or word making activities.  The new group of students will need intensive support with names, so I am prepping this set that I use every day with my own struggling readers (only one or two).  
This is an editable set for sequentially working with names.  Grab it here.
What about centers? We will have controlled center choices because the new little friends need boundaries.  I will rotate them through letter stamping, letter matching, letter hunting, and more! Here are a few seasonal center ideas.
Letter puzzles...
for beginning sounds...
For fine motor...

Happy interventions!!!

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

FALL is coming! Let's Celebrate with a SALE!

I am offering a special 20% OFF Sale until Monday evening to celebrate the arrival of my favorite season! Have a wonderful FALL y'all!
From Fall Magic Writing to Autumn Alphabet Activities and More!  To take a look, click the button below!
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

It's another Bright Idea Linky! "Clapping, Stomping, Jumping Syllables!"

I am so honored to be part of the monthly Bright Ideas Linky! I hope you can take away an idea or two after reading my post this month!

Do you have a teaching/response technique that is your go-to plan for teaching a skill??? Here is mine! I do this every day during the first quarter of school. 
Each year we spend a great deal of time discussing how many syllables our names and other nouns have.  To make this concept stick, I have incorporated three movements into listening for syllables.  For instance, this morning's lesson began with a short review of alphabet letters and sounds, the initial consonant sound of five objects, our letter of the day (Uu), then our read-aloud entitled, "I Have a Pet".  After reading the selection, I set out to achieve two goals:
1.  Think outside the box:  What other animals
     could be considered pets? What are special
     considerations for their care? 
     Would it be more difficult or easier to care for 
      a turtle, frog, snake, etc.?
2.  Listen for the number of syllables in names
     of other animal groups (cats, dogs, fish, etc.,).
     To get full engagement--all eyes on me--I love
     to hold my arms in the air after a friend has 
     suggested a name.  I wait until all eyes are 
    watching (I love to try a few "false starts"--
    it really makes them stay focused), then help 
    them listen as we clap the name.  
    For instance, "alligator".  We 
    clap the syllables four times, stomp them four
    times, and finally jump and say the syllables 
    After trying this with every suggestion, you 
    can try taking the movement away and 
    challenge students to just hold up fingers
    for to show how many syllables.  
    Most important is the use of the correct term,
    SYLLABLE.  Kindergarten students can learn
    these terms, and should recognize words like
    nouns, verbs, adjectives, syllables and more.  
    This important skill has become a game in
    my classroom.  Students ask to play the syllable
    game.  That's a win-win in my book!

   For more Bright Ideas click through the linky
   below.  :) If you want to keep up with me 
   I encourage you to follow me on facebook and 
   other social media sites by clicking on the 
   buttons at the top of my blog.  Thank you for

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Monday, August 25, 2014

School is ON! The Room, the Plan AND the Tools!

  School is in session! I have the sweetest little class of one dozen little people.  Yes, I said one dozen, 2x6, twelve, as in one dozen eggs, etc.  It is so exciting to think about how far this little group can go during their kinder year.  I am so thankful.  
This year I decided to go with a sports theme for many of the things we use every day.  Our name tags, bus tags, journal covers, and outer hall reflect the T.E.A.M. spirit our class will be nurturing all year.  We have all seen the "Together Everyone Achieves More" T.E.A.M acronym over the years, and it is as important today as it has ever been.  
Here are a few photos from my classroom.  I will be displaying student work throughout the year in my classroom, so it is important to keep wall space available.  There are two primary areas for sharing work, while other wall space is dedicated to sight words/literacy/calendar.  
I am happy to highlight the BIC corporation who graciously sent writing products for us to try.  I am already seeing excitement over the variety of writing tools available.  Thank you BIC!
Also, do you see the cute foil stars and sports elements around the room? These are from Oriental Trading (the store EVERY teacher should get acquainted with--if you do not already shop there)! 
I also want to acknowledge Susanna of Whimsy Workshop.  She created the adorable sports figures around the room.  My students love their room!  
     Our library cushions are chevron covered sofa cushions that I repurposed earlier in the summer.
     The giant calendar is large enough to hold student photos, the date, birthdays and special days.
     Our whole brain rules posters and higher order thinking verb poster is on the right.

     Our writing and stamping centers are located just below our alphabet and sight word bulletin
     board.  This location was chosen for easy reference to letters, names, words and more!
    The table skirt is made from a blue vinyl flocked tablecloth cut to fit.  The buttons are
    assigned seating for small group instruction.  No more scramble to a certain seat!
    With a few scraps of pvc pipe from our house construction days, hubby made this chart stand.  I
     lawn furniture paint (for plastic) to make it a sunny yellow! LOVE!

My last entry is a picture of my new baseball scoreboard for our Whole Brain Teaching "whole class" behavior monitoring.  I love the scoreboard! check out for more information. 
And...if you made it this far, you may like the following freebie :)
Sports Themed Desk Plates and Bus Tags FREESports Themed Desk Plates and Bus Tags FREE
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Saturday, August 16, 2014

It's another Bright Ideas Linky! Whewww August!!! Tips

This month's Bright Idea is simple, but a real time saver if you want to make hanging projects with masking tape a cinch! Just pull out a long length of tape (we're talking about a 8-9 foot length), roll it inside-out with sticky side out, then cut in 1" lengths and stick to the top of your door facing! I have done this for many years (my team thinks it's inspired!lol), and it makes hanging class work really easy and really fast! 
Try it, you'll love it! 
Additional note:  I stick the end of the tape to my door facing and walk down the hall until I have unrolled a long length, then I cut the tape and begin to roll the inside-out tube.  People passing by may stare at you, but it's all good! 

Another thing I am doing this year is using my big wall calendar to highlight the student of the day (photos fit in the squares too!), the date, patterns, and much more! You can see my word for the week on the right hand side of the calendar.  This word is used by myself and the students all week during our morning meeting time or other times during the day.  The yellow tape on my calendar is actually masking tape with 12" ruler marks over and over! I love it! We will use it for measuring in our math unit on measurement later this year.  (note: the star had fallen down on the calendar--I didn't notice, lol)
If you like my ideas, wait until you see the others featured in this month's Bright Ideas Linky! Click below to see other great ideas to begin your year!

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Friday, August 1, 2014

THIS is IT!!! The BIG BTS Sale at TpT 28% OFF!

It's here! The huge Back To School Sale at Teachers Pay Teachers!  

During the sale that only lasts from August 4-5 (my store is extended through August 6!!) you can get up to 28% OFF all items if you use the special promo code BTS14.  All of my best selling products are on sale at signifigant savings with the code.  
To start the year off, students need consistent practice writing and manipulating letters in their names.  I have several products for working with names.  Here are a few! 
My Name Toolkit  


Also, check out my "Magic Writing" activies, and a brand new product:  Mirror Match (there is a Mirror Matching activity for Journeys 2014 words too!).  When you finish visiting my store, go to this great linky featuring all of my friends from my facebook group, Wallflowers!

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