Saturday, December 20, 2014

Do you like Gift Certificates? Me too! Win one!

Merry Christmas everyone! Can you believe we are in Christmas week? If you are like me, you love gift certificates, and what's even better is when you win one for yourself...especially if it can be used for items for your classroom! Win-win! Several of my blogging friends and I are having a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Certificate Giveaway.  Just enter my giveaway, then click away! Hop to as many blogs as you like and enter as many giveaways as you like! You will find wonderful resources to begin the new year in every store, and you may have a little extra to spend toward your purchase if you win.  Have fun!
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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Don't you just love winter journaling activities! There are so many topics for students to write about or respond to.  We have covered habitats, hibernation, food for deer, regions of the world in winter and more! When we go back to school on January 5, we'll be using lined storybook paper and these cute winter journals.  I already have mine printed and stapled! If you are in need of a cute little cover and ready to print journal pages, grab this freebie from my TpT store.  I hope each of you have a very Merry Christmas and a Healthy Happy New Year!

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Monday, Here we Come! Reindeer Labeling Activity FREE!

Tomorrow is the beginning of Christmas week at school, so let the learning fun begin! I love throwing in little activities that help support the lesson in our reading series, so this one helps to address habitat by getting kids thinking about where reindeer live.  If you like this freebie, you can find labeling activities for other themes through the year in the following product.  Have a great week! (click the pic to grab your freebie)
 This is a collection of labeling activities that hit on months and seasonal themes through the year.  Just print, add glue and scissors and your word work center is ready!
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Now, for the FUN!!! Love crafts, and this is my kind of ornament!

My sweet A+ tutor and I were enjoying our centers/guided groups time today, and we were discussing what would be fun for the students that would incorporate fine motor and some original takes on a Santa handprint ornament.  I have really wanted to break out the safety sewing needles for a long time, so I decided to try this easy burlap square ornament (like a sachet pillow without the sachet--can't do that with possible allergic reactions).  The one I made at home tonight turned out super cute, and I know my kiddos will love learning to stitch around their own burlap "pillow".  I have acrylic paints at school, so I will have red, white, and a mix of red/white/yellow for skin tone in paper plates.  I paint student hands to make sure we have good coverage for the first white print.  Then I will paint the outside of their fist with the skin tone and let them paint the face.  Last, they will paint red at the top and on the thumb for Santa's hat.  Then we will cotton swab paint the eyes and nose and mouth.  I didn't have everything at home, so I hope you can piece together what actually occurs during the paint process (there are tons of handprint ideas on Pinterest).  The handprint goes on diagonally so the ornament can hang from the corner.  To keep the little pillow from raveling any more, use fabric glue around all the edges along the stitches (not the raveled edges).  Here is the picture with directions! Pin if you like this as much as I do!
Oh! You will need red yarn too! :)
Before you seal the last side, stuff a plastic shopping bag inside, then have the student to sew the "pillow" shut.  
Here is another fun tradition that I have done in past years.  Another wonderful teacher mentioned this in a post, and I will credit her for it when I am more awake tomorrow!!! It is such a simple idea...
Each day, choose one student to unwrap a gift wrapped book for you to read to the class.  It will create a sense of anticipation and hopefully show students what a true gift the message/story in a book can be.  Try it! No kidding, it didn't take me fifteen minutes to wrap my books!
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Monday, December 1, 2014

It's December! It can be "The Most Magical Time of the Year" too!

Oh my goodness! WHERE did November go?
I can't believe we are only a couple of weeks from the first day of winter, and that means only a couple of weeks from assessing standards for the end of the quarter (at least it is in quarters in my district).  If you are a school that must use Dibels, I have a ppt slideshow for December that may help to prep your students for that important 2nd Benchmark. 
 And guess what? You can get it for up to 28% OFF today and tomorrow! Just click on the picture of the product!
 And...just in case your students need a refresher course in manners during the holiday season, here is the center for that!
 For math, we are using two resources.  The first is a "loosely" interpreted 12 Days of Christmas that incorporates counting and literacy in one set of activities.
12 Days of Christmas Count and Show Math Booklet
 The other set is also for math.  It asks students to color ten frames to show how many, and we can't get enough of that in my class!
Holiday Math Journal and Interactive Reader Aligned to the CCSS 
And the #1 center choice in my classroom (and the Magic as in the title of this post)...
December Magic Writing
December "Magic Writing" Activities Non-Holiday 
And to end this list of resources, here is a cute little book to broaden vocabulary!
 The Night Before Christmas Vocabulary Study Booklet
Don't forget! You can get everything for up to 28% OFF through Tuesday, December 2. 
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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Need a quick to prep treat for your Thanksgiving party? Grab this FREE Label!

I'm not gonna lie...this has been a busy and shall we say..."lively" week in Mrs. H's kinder class.  I have been flying by the seat of my pants trying to re-assess everyone before we are off for a whole week.  Today was the last chance to finish up.  
Needless to say, I really needed a quick to throw together snack for our party tomorrow.  
I have loved the little recipes for reindeer chow over the years, and this year I stumbled upon a great pin with Mayflower Chow (Munchies).  I stuck with the word chow for my label sheet.  If you need something fast, just throw 2 bags of m&ms, a bag of pretzle sticks (my store had twists), a box of raisins, and a box of your favorite kid cereal in a bowl.  Scoop it up with a one cup measure into ziplock sandwich bags, then cut the labels, fold over the closed end and staple on each side.  This leaves the zipper end handy for snacking.  This treat took less than 30 minutes to throw together! Score!
Grab this free label printable if you need it, and Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Need to "spruce" up your Christmas decor? Total side trip!

As a teacher-blogger, I usually stick with the game plan...everything school.  However, today I want to share a little tip that might save you some serious dough! We built a home about 8 years ago, and a year or two before we finished I began to buy Christmas decor.  One of our purchases was over 100 ft of garland.  Let's just say it was pretty pricey.  Over the years it has been twisted and contorted to the point it isn't pretty anymore.  
Here is where the fun begins.  

I have been looking for three or four years at all of the deco mesh projects here and there, on Pinterest, and in magazines.  I finally decided to take the plunge and buy four 30 ft rolls of 16" deco mesh at around 6.00 each.  For about $26 I have instant beautification! The store I purchased the mesh from also had some large round super sized glitter effect ornaments and some nice glittery red apples for $1 each.  I already had lights! There are tons of how-to videos on youtube, so after watching them I decided making deco poufs isn't rocket science! Here is the result of my effort.  Love how it looks.   
  Here is one video that has clear how-to instructions.  Just a little warning...this may or may not be my last Christmas-related post!

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

It's a Bright Ideas Wrap-up! Here is what you may have missed!

It has been a joy to be part of the Bright Ideas Link-up each month! I have learned so many wonderful tips and tricks to make learning more fun for my students.  If you haven't had an opportunity to visit participating blogs over the past months, winter is the perfect time to browse for new, and really brilliant ideas for your classroom.  
Here are a few highlights from my past posts.
In March I shared a great game to get littles moving and thinking about number bonds.  The game is called "Ready, Set, Split"! Click the pic to read about this game!
 May was all about efficient, easy chart storage and repurposing poms to make a really pretty color tree.  Click the pic! :)
 In June it was all about portable chart stands! Click the pic to view the post. 

July was really fun! I had some old sofa cushions that became cheery cushions for my reading corner! My students love them! Click the pic to find out how I did it!
 August came, and so did my plans for the new year (which really began at the end of the old year!).  Those plans included lots of wall prep with lots of tape, so I shared my handy dandy tape roll-up trick!
September came, and a fun post about teaching syllables to young children using kinesthetic learning.  Click this link to read about it.
October was all about using your device to record conference notes after meeting with parents. Click the link to read more.

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Whew! Happy cold weather y'all! Sentence Scramble FREEBIE for Journeys Lesson 11

We are heading in to what may be a really cold week! Where are you in your Journeys 2014 lesson plans? We will begin Lesson 11 next week, so I made a little graphics and subject card set to go along with the sentence strip mix-fix you may already do.  Thursday is my sentence puzzle day where we review new words and vocabulary from our leveled readers and our vocabulary reader for each week.  This set will be part of a much larger resource when those snow days come along to allow me to work on the set! Just click on the pic to download.  This sentence graphic and subject card set is meant to be used with the sentence strip you make for each student.  Directions included.  Sentence cards support the leveled readers for Below/On/Above level guided groups.  Happy weekend!

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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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