Monthly Archives: October 2013

Conner Prairie Workshop (lots of pictures)

Last week, I had the honor of attending a workshop at Conner Prairie, our living history museum in central Indiana.  Tobey was our presenter for the day and had some awesome ideas for helping children to love nature, play in nature, and respect nature.  We also learned about outdoor learning spaces.  Tobey is from the Heritage Museum and Gardens in Sandwich, MA.  Heritage Museum is the sister museum of Conner Prairie.

Here are some pictures from our day. 🙂

IMG_1129 IMG_1130 IMG_1131 IMG_1132 IMG_1133 IMG_1134 IMG_1135      IMG_1141 IMG_1142 IMG_1143 IMG_1144 IMG_1145 IMG_1146 IMG_1147 IMG_1148 IMG_1149 IMG_1150 IMG_1151 IMG_1152 IMG_1153 IMG_1154 IMG_1155 IMG_1156 IMG_1157 IMG_1158 IMG_1159 IMG_1160 IMG_1161 IMG_1162   IMG_1165 IMG_1166 IMG_1167 IMG_1168 IMG_1169 IMG_1170 IMG_1171 IMG_1172 IMG_1173 IMG_1174 IMG_1175 IMG_1176  IMG_1178 IMG_1179 IMG_1181 IMG_1182 IMG_1184 IMG_1185 IMG_1186 IMG_1187 IMG_1188 IMG_1190  IMG_1192I learned SO many new things from Tobey!  I cannot wait to use many of these ideas in my classroom. 🙂

Kristen 🙂

An Alternative to Morning Work

I got an interesting idea in my inbox this week from my blogging friend Kathleen at Growing Kinders.  She had the idea that she wanted to get rid of paper morning work and try something new . She decided that morning baskets were something she wanted to try and gave some examples in her blog post here.  I liked her idea almost immediately and started making a list of materials I could include in mine.  I really like the morning work I’ve been using–there’s not a thing wrong with it, but I also wanted my kiddos to have experiences reviewing ideas and concepts that we have learned about before–plus it saves paper!!  I pitched this idea to my student teacher and we jumped up, yelled “Go Team!” and began raiding the closets.


Here is what we came up with:

Basket #1 contains an ABC puzzle, roll a shape game, books, and an iSpy bag.


Basket #2 contains Brown Bear color cards and letter tiles, books, iSpy bag, and some fun candy corn playing cards


Basket #3 contains an iSpy bag, I can spell three letter words flip book, shape matching game, and booksphoto

Basket #4 contains number memory, books, a Chicka Chicka magnet board, and an iSpy bag with lettersphoto

Basket #5 contains a rhyming game, books, an iSpy bag, and some fall themed patterning cardsphoto

Basket #6 contains an addition game, books, Halloween themed pattern cards, and an iSpy bag with

We collected everything from my math and literacy cabinets.  I got the pattern cards from Scholastic book orders several years ago, the books are some of our old leveled readers, most of the boxed games came from Marshall’s department store (T.J. Maxx/Home Goods), and I made the iSpy bags last summer.  I plan on making more of them soon. 🙂

We tried to put at least one math and one literacy activity in each basket along with some books and an activity that required partner work.  Each table of 4 children will share one basket and the baskets will rotate daily.

I told my children that we would try them out to see how it works but that I needed their help to show me that they could be responsible in taking care of the materials.  I also mentioned that the children who eat breakfast would need to wait until they were done with breakfast to use the materials so they would not get milk and juice or syrup spilled on them.

What do you think of this idea and what are some other activities you would include?  Thanks to Kathleen for this wonderful idea!  I was tossing it around in my brain but couldn’t come up with anything, so thanks for bringing this to fruition!  I’ll let you know how it goes! 🙂

Kristen 🙂

More about my planner

So many of you asked about my Erin Condren planner that I wanted to share these links with you:

Erin Condren

Referral Program

I will work on taking some pictures for you so you can see the inside, but if you visit the link on top, you can see the video about all the parts of Erin’s planners.

If you are interested in buying your own planner, you can click the second link “referral program” and sign up for e-mails about sales and such from Erin’s website.  When you sign up, you will get a $10 off coupon that is good for 30 days.  That paid for the shipping on my planner plus the pen holder!  You usually get a $10 coupon each time you order a planner from her site.

Erin also has teacher lesson plan books that are new this year.  They are just like her planners, but bigger in size for all the information you need to include!

Kristen 🙂

My new Erin Condren Planner!!

I LOVE my current Erin Condren planner and was sad to see that it only had two more months in it before I needed a new one…

IMG_1115I just love opening the box that my new planner comes in–they always look so beautiful!




My new planner!! 🙂IMG_1120

This time I also go the bands to help keep it closed and a pen holder.  IMG_1119



What is your favorite planner?

My Literacy Schedule

One of the things I’ve been most frustrated with since I started using Literacy Work Stations (about 6 or 7 years ago) was my small group time.  I’ve always felt like I could meet with more than one group a day and ideally, I would like to be able to see all my kiddos everyday in small groups.  I cannot do this alone, so I will use my assistant to work with some of the groups as well.

This will work really well as long as I have  an assistant (or a student teacher!!!).  After that, my assistant or I will see at least 4 out of the 5 groups a day.

I was telling my student teacher that sometimes you just have to work with small groups like this and then suddenly, the perfect plan will happen!  It finally did–6 years later! 🙂

When I speak of small groups I am speaking of Guided Reading Groups. 🙂

Here’s how it will look:

8:40-8:55 Morning Message/Opening Routine (Journeys)

8:55-9:15 Shared Reading

9:15-9:30 Literacy Work Stations/Small Group with me/Small Group with my student teacher/10 students to Waterford Literacy

9:30-9:45 Phonemic Awareness game/mini-lesson

9:45-10:00 Literacy Work Stations/Small Group with me/Small Group with my student teacher/Small Group with my assistant

10:00-10:20 Clean up/Writing mini-lesson

10:20-10:50 Writer’s Workshop

10:50-10:55 Clean up for Lunch

So during the first round of work stations I will meet with group 1, my student teacher will meet with group 3 and my assistant will meet with 10 students (5 will use Waterford Literacy and 5 will have their guided reading lesson).  During the second round of work stations, I will meet with group 2, my student teacher will meet with group 4 and my assistant will meet with group 5 (or the other 1/2 of the students who did not get their guided reading group because they were using Waterford).  The children who attended the guided reading group in round 1 (who were not on the computer) will go back to the computer lab during our math work stations to get their Waterford time.

Confused?? So was I, but I think I can make it all work! 🙂

I really, really, REALLY like Literacy Work Stations, but this will help me create fewer activities for them so I can pick the best activities that will help my students learn the most.  I will still have at least 10 activities out, but it will take the students a bit longer to get through all of them, so it will increase their “staying power” and I will drive myself less crazy trying to change the activities out once a month. 🙂

Most of my activities stay for a month right now, but having said that, I will say that I do change them out frequently to allow for learning new sight words, new skills, new letters, etc.  Same activities, but we can practice new skills with them.

I’ll let you know how this works!  I’m glad I have my timer from IKEA (see Monday’s post) to keep me on track! 😉

Kristen 🙂

Monarch Butterflies

I do a big study about Monarch Butterflies with my kiddos each year.  I want them to get caught up in the mystery of the Monarch and learn how they can be citizen scientists and help other scientists around the US in protecting the Monarch Butterfly.

One of the activities we complete are Monarch life cycle bracelets.  The kiddos make one and then take them home to tell their families the life cycle of a Monarch.

I set up the containers of beads this way and the sticky flags tell the kids how many of each color they need.  They grab their pipe cleaner and string their beads on as they move through the tubs.


We then make our own symbolic Monarch Butterflies that will travel with the real migrating Monarchs down to the schools in Mexico.  Our Monarchs will over winter in the schools in Mexico while the real Monarchs over winter in the pine trees in the mountains of Mexico.  We also participate in Monarch tracking.  We go outside for set periods of time (10-15 minutes) and watch for Monarch Butterflies to fly by.  We count how many we see and then we record our observations on Journey North’s website.  They track the migration of the Monarch butterflies to Mexico and you can help them track!

There are also other animals that can be tracked to show signs of Spring returning or other migrations that you can track to show where animals go in the winter.

I’ll post pictures of our symbolic Monarchs soon.

Kristen 🙂

Applesauce Pies

After Johnny Appleseed’s Birthday, we made Applesauce Pies.


The kids really enjoy making them and love that they can read a recipe!  IMG_1085

Kristen 🙂

Lesson Plans

I’ve decided to try and do my lesson plans on my computer rather than by writing them out by hand each time.  I can type much faster than I can write.  I usually do not make my plans this detailed, but I’m helping my student teacher out. 🙂

Each lesson is 2 pages long. 🙂  It’s the front and back to each day.


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TuesdayScreen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.16.30 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.16.38 PM

Wednesday Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.16.51 PMScreen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.17.01 PM

ThursdayScreen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.17.12 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.17.25 PM

FridayScreen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.17.36 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-12 at 8.17.46 PM

We use Journeys for our reading curriculum and we have a pacing guide for both our Literacy and Math, so that is what you see if you see “Unit ___”.


5 Frames used 2 ways

We have started learning simple addition, so I came up with a simple game my kiddos could use on their own to help them develop the idea of putting 2 groups together.

We first used the 5 frames and dice.  The kiddos would roll a die and place that many of one colored cube on their 5 frame.  They would then fill in the rest of the spaces with their second color.  They then turned to their partner and would say “2 blue and 3 green make 5.” Then it would be the other kiddos turn. I numbered the die from 0-5 so that they could not roll more than 5.  IMG_1106

We then played again, but instead of dice, we used spinners!  Same game, just a way to change it up a bit so it would seem new to them! 🙂  IMG_1107

We spent a day playing each of the ways mentioned above and then another two days playing the same games but with a recording sheet.  I got the recording sheets from my Math Their Way blackline masters.  It is a 1/2 page with 5 cubes linked together.  The children had to color their recording sheet to represent the cubes on their 5 frame.

The 2nd way we will be using our 5 frames is during our Literacy time next week.  Part of what we are doing to develop literacy skills is counting the number of words in sentences.  The children will each get a 5 frame and a stack of 5 cubes (none of the sentences will have more than 5 words in them).  As I say the words in the sentence, the children will place a cube on their 5 frame for each word they hear.  You could also use these to count sounds heard in words.


Two fun ways to use 5 frames! 🙂

Kristen 🙂

I’m Baaaackkk!

I feel like I’ve fallen off the blogging/Tpt earth!  I’ve been so busy with assessing my kiddos for report cards and then Fall Break happened, so I decided to take some time off (oh and enter data for those report cards!).

We took a trip to IKEA and Jungle Jim’s (a grocery store destination in Cincinnati, OH that’s over 200,000 square feet of shopping space!!).

I got some new goodies at IKEA (a lots of food at Jungle Jim’s) and I wanted to share them with you:


I got this timer for $1.99 to help keep me on track during my small groups (I have this tendency to just keep talking!!), so this timer will help keep me on track!


I got 3 more packs of these bowls.  We use these for all kinds of things (sorting, observing critters, setting out materials for projects, individual supply bowls, etc.).  They are $1.99 for 6 of them and we’ve had our sets at home for 9 years now and they are not showing their age at all!  I like them because they are reusable and I can get enough for my entire class very cheaply.


I also got this spaghetti strainer last time I went and decided I needed another one for school.  This one fits perfectly in my classroom sink and we can drain things in it (paintbrushes!!) so they are not just sitting in the sink getting wet over and over again!IMG_1103

Lots of people have asked where I got my supply baskets and I got them at IKEA during my summer trek there.  They were $4.99 each I think and they are holding up very well.  The only change we made to the baskets was that we put the scissors and glue into the ziploc containers and put the crayons into the cups (that I also got from IKEA–I got 3 more sets of these cups this time, they are so handy!).


What are your favorite purchases from IKEA?

Kristen 🙂

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