Saturday, March 30, 2013

Young and Lively Kindergarten

One of the best things about having a blog is meeting your teacher sisters from all over the world. This morning I was surprised to see that my friend Kelly, from Young and Lively Kindergarten, posted about my new blog. Do we have a mutual admiration society? Well yes, we do. Because I love all of her calendar products. Here is the link for her store and the April Kindergarten calendar for Promethean boards:

And here is the link for her blog!

Young and Lively Kindergarten

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Common Core Video from Teaching Channel

Teacher nerd alert...Yes, I'm on spring break. What am I watching with my morning coffee? Teaching Channel. Before you say, "Girl, get a life," check it out. I was excited to see the emphasis on problem solving in the early-childhood math classroom. Watch the video if you have time. Then check out my "Think, Show, SOLVE!" series. I hope it helps you feel more comfortable using problem solving with your kinders. Also, be sure to share your thoughts about the clip.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Very Hungry Caterpillar Day

Happy Caterpillar Day! My class is chewing their way through an Eric Carle unit. As for my young writers...when they came to Kindergarten they were just hungry little caterpillars. Look how their writing has changed. Now they are butterfly writers ready to take flight!

Here are some reasons that they think you should read this book.
"You should read this book because there is a butterfly. It is so colorful. It is so pretty you might not take your eyes off of it!"
"It teaches you how to learn about caterpillars and cocoons and butterflies.  This is a great book." I love how she spelled great like she says it..."Gu-rate!"

"You should read this book because it tells you sciences."

And then there's this kinder who came to school not knowing one letter or sound...She has definately made her way out of the random-letter cocoon. She is starting to sound out her words.This one makes my heart flutter.

It helps you learn your colors.  It helps you learn education." 
If you want your own copy of this writing page, you'll find it in my free pack of prompts that supports the Georgia Common Core teaching units for Kindergarten. Here's the link to the Georgia units...
And here's the link for the free writing prompts.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Mercy Watson in Motion

You've got them. I've got them. Smart teachers always have them...I'm talking about books you bought at workshops that you couldn't wait to read. Books that you know will inspire you and give you new ideas about teaching. Books that went into the stack of other things "I'll look at this summer when I get my life back." Well, I decided to dig out one of my "to do" books. 

I saw In Pictures and in Words by Katie Wood Ray when I heard the author speak at a workshop. Then it was a book study on a series of blogs I follow. Finally, I'm reading it. Here's what the publisher says about the book:

"Katie Wood Ray begins with a strong, classroom-based research foundation for this powerful, intuitive idea. She fills in In Pictures and in Words with sample student work that documents how children's thinking deepens as they explore illustrations. Then she suggests 50 ways you might use illustrations to help students internalize key aspects of craft through their love of picture books." 

So what does this have to do with the popular, beginning chapter-book series from Kate DiCamillo? Well, we have been reading the Mercy Watson books aloud and the other day one my smarties says, "What is that blue glow around Eugenia?" My brain went..ding, ding,'s a chance to use what you've been reading, silly! From that page on, my kids were fascinated with the techniques the illustrator, Chris Van Dusen, used to show motion. Look at the cover above. See the motion lines around Mercy's behind? Look at the pages below. See the yellow lines all around Eugenia's and Baby's heads? My kids said, "Yikes! What if it really looked like that when you get angry or surprised?"

Later, my kinders wrote in their journals about their favorite Mercy Watson story. Check out the motion lines in their illustrations. 
"My favorite in the Mercy Watson books is the hot buttered toast and the characters." (See the motion lines around the pig?)
"I like when she bumps her head. I like Mercy Watson books." (See the motion lines from the falling character and the stars around her head?)
"My favorite part is when Mercy eats the pansies. That was funny. I love Mercy Watson." (See the motion lines behind the pig?)
"My favorite thing was the animal control bumped her head on the table." (See the stars again?)
Now it's your turn to share. Have you read aloud this series to your class? Or have you used the ideas described in Katie Wood Ray's book? I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Dino-riffic" Combinations of Five...and Freebie Link

Your every day, ordinary word problems are sooo prehistoric. We're living in the Common Core era now, so it's time to make sure our little thinkers can solve AND show, prove, explain, and extend. They have to leave big tracks of their thinking, right? Here's a sample word problem my smart kids worked on this week:

First we circled the numbers and put a box around the question. Next we used dinosaur manipulatives to act out the problem. 

Next we made a class chart that looked like this.

My students had some amazing math thinking to share. Here are some of their comments.

"The pattern goes 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 4, 3, 2, 1."
"It looks like a box."
"It looks like a staircase."
"Every time there is a 1, there is a 4. Every time there is a 2, there is a 3."
"When there are more purple dinosaurs, there are less green dinosaurs."
"When a purple dino comes in, a green one has to go out."

The next day, the students made their own charts. On the front of the page, they wrote something about the chart. On the back, they glued their manipulatives. 

Finally, we worked together to make our tables.

If you'd like to see more problems like this one, you can check out my "Think, Show, SOLVE!" series on TPT or TN.

Here is a freebie just for you!

Got SMART Kids?

So here's the scene...I've posted my kinders' work all over my assigned parking space in the hall outside of my classroom. I've even bravely stretched out to put their work on a nearby hall that was empty. (No one was using it after all and it seemed like space for rent....) Anyone that happens to walk in my room for any reason (you know, like to drop off toilet paper or the lunch envelopes) gets "Did you know how smart my kids are?" and "Have you seen this chart they made?" or "Here! Just read this journal entry!" Sometimes we make visitors sit down and we tie them up with lacing beads strings so they can't escape. I've even been known to pick up the phone and call a teacher from the upper grades..."Hey! When you get a break, come down here and see this!" (Like she would use her 5 minutes with us instead of going to bathroom. Really.) Soo....

I'm trying a healthier, less desperate approach. I created a sister blog for my "ABCs of Reading" blog. I wanted a place to celebrate my special Ks super smart work. Welcome to Smart Kids! I hope you'll click follow. Click the Facebook link. Click the Pinterest button. I'm glad you are here.