Category Archives: Language Arts/Writing

Letter Vests!

Were you able to guess what I couldn’t wait to show you last week??

Remember this picture?

Alpha Vests

Well, today I get to show you what it is! 🙂

The nice folks at Constructive Playthings sent me a box of these Letter Vests to try out with my kiddos.


We’ve had so much fun the last two days trying these out!  I’ve got lots more ideas on how we are going to use them, but I thought I would get you started with these…


First, I love these vests because they are made of durable, thick, coated paper.  I can tell they are going to stand up to the wear and tear of my Kindergarten classroom.  They also have a nifty slot about 2 1/2 inches long right through the top of the letter to help the kiddos take them on and off easily and without ripping the paper!Lettervests2

Second, in the box there are ideas on how to use the vests and an entire list of all the word families you could ever want to make using these vests!Lettervests3

Also, I don’t know if you noticed or not, but on each vest, one side displays the lowercase letter and the uppercase is printed on the other side!!  I also love how the vowels are a different color from the consonants!  In addition, there are several extra letters (for a total of 32) so you can spell those words that have double consonants or vowels in them!!  They’ve thought of everything!! 🙂


I immediately thought of our blending and segmenting that we have been working on during our phonemic awareness portion of our day.  I thought the kiddos might be more excited about the words if they actually got to BE the words!


First, about 1/2 of my class donned their letters.  I purposely mixed all the letters up so that the kiddos weren’t dependent on alphabetical order to help them make words. getting ready2


Here are some fine letters after they helped us make the word “lap”.

reading the word1

We then had a student point to each letter and we made the sound that the letters made and then we read the sounds together.


Again, here we are saying each sound and then reading the word as a whole.

To segment the words, I had a different set of kiddos come up with different letter vests and we again made some words.  After we made the word, and before reading it aloud, I asked the letters in that word to take one step away from each other, so they were separated a bit.  I then asked the kiddos to tell me what sounds they heard in that word.  For several of my kiddos who were struggling with segmenting, having the letters visually together and then separate, helped to cement in their minds what segmenting means.

*********************making make

I also know my kiddos love to read, but that we needed to add a new sight words game to the arsenal so they wouldn’t get totally bored learning them! I called one student to the front to be the pointer.  Her job was to point to the word that she wanted the kiddos to make.  The letters were supposed to come to the front and stand.  I didn’t tell the kiddos anything about putting themselves into the correct order, some groups did right away, and others (as you will see) left themselves scrambled.

reading make

Making the word “make” led us to a terrific review of the “silent e”.  What really helped the kiddos to see that there was a silent e, was the fact that the vowels were a different color than the consonants.  Even the child who was pointing to the words noticed it when she was pointing for us.  She pointed to the “m”, “a”, “k”, and then the “e”.  I noticed that she hesitated a second on the “e”, as she noticed that it wasn’t making a sound that fit with the rest of the letters!  One of my student suggested that there we a third color of letter “e” in the box, so that it could be used to represent the silent e.  Powerful learning moment!!

How easy would it be to also practice a few word family words this way too??  Just change out the beginning sound…

Or how about nonsense words?  Just call a few random kiddos up and have them stand in a mixed up order…how fun!!


Next, she pointed to the word “play”.


Here are the letters coming to the front…

silly letters

These letters aren’t quite in the right order…


One of my students noticed that as we were reading “play” aloud slowly, that it was difficult for her to separate the “p” away from the “l”, so we had a little mini review about letter blends.  How they are two letters that are more hooked together than other letters.  I no sooner had said those words than the moment below happened.


The little boy who was wearing the letter “l”, moved right next to the boy who was wearing the letter “p” and put his arm around his shoulders…to help signify that when we read these letters aloud, they should be read together. 🙂  WOW!!

switchingplacesOf course…there was lots of this taking place as we all tried to figure out where we belonged in our “new” sight words!!

One of the last things we did before putting the letters up, was to have everyone wear a letter and then I asked the kiddos to put themselves into alphabetical order so that it would be easier for me to find the letters next time we use them.

Thank you so much to Constructive Playthings for sending these my way and letting me try them out with my kiddos!!  We definitely have a fun new game to play to help us learn all our sight words!

Also, the folks at Constructive Playthings shared that they are doing an April Showers Giveaway.
Throughout the month of April, Constructive Playthings will be showering gifts on their friends and fans. To qualify, like their Facebook page and sign up with your email address. They will be choosing winners randomly two times per week. Click here to enter.

Make sure you “Like” them on Facebook for your chance to enter to be “showered” with gifts. 🙂 How easy is that??

Click above to enter the giveaway and then click any of the pictures or links above to go get some of these AWESOME letter vests of your own!!

What are some other ways you can think of to use these Letter Vests in your classroom??  I can’t wait to hear all your ideas! 🙂

Leave me a comment below and I’ll pick a winner in a few days to send a few of my Tpt products to. 🙂

Kristen 🙂

Tpt is having a sale!!

That’s right friends!!  Tpt is having a sale to celebrate 3 Million Teachers using Tpt in some way!!

The sale doesn’t start until Thursday, February 28th, but go start filling up your cart right away!

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I’ve made some new products to share with you and they will ALL (along with the rest of my store) be on sale for 20% off!  Keep watching for the special code to type in at checkout so you can get up to 28% off!

First, I created a new set of Rainbow Pom-Pom Games!  This set helps your students practice the 88 sight words in the Journeys reading series.  Its played the same way the Rainbow Pom-Pom Toss game is, except with sight words!

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If you don’t have the original game and really want it along with the new one, you’re in luck!!  I’ve bundled the two together so you can have your students practice a variety of skills!  Shapes, Numbers, Letters, Die Recognition, Sight Words and more!  33 different mats are included to help you reach a wide range of students and their abilities!Screen Shot 2014-02-23 at 6.54.59 PM

Finally, if you missed it last week, I created these “Ways to Make” practice sheets.  My kiddos LOVE these!  All you need is some mini-erasers, sheet protector, and some dry erase markers and you are go to go!  This activity is great for practicing composing and decomposing numbers!

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So there you have it!!  Some new products that will be on sale beginning on Thursday!!

Kristen 🙂

Literacy Schedule

We are required to teach a 90 minute literacy block each day.  I’ve been asked if I would share what my time looks like within that 90 minutes so here is what it looks like right now:

8:35-8:50 Morning Message (usually something on the Promethean Board tied to our big book)

8:50-9:10 Big Book (we usually echo read, choral read, and really dig into the text of our book for the week)

9:10-9:40 Literacy Work Station (12-15 stations, 2 students at each)

Drama Work Station, Science Work Station, ABC/Word Work Station, Big Book Work Station, Promethean     Board Work Station, Listening Work Station, Library Work Station, Computer Work Station, Writing Work Station, Pocket Chart Work Station, Magnet Work Station, Sound Work Station, Puzzles & Games Work Station, and 2 Work with the Teacher Work Stations–we will add Buddy Reading Station 2nd semester

9:40-10:00 Imagine It!/Open Court (just the Phonemic Awareness portion)

10:00-10:15 Predictable Chart

10:15-10:50 Writer’s Workshop (mini lesson for 5-10 minutes at the beginning of this time, then I conference with 4 children per day as the rest write on their own)

Let me know if you have any questions. 🙂

Kristen 🙂

Meaningful morning messages

I’ve decided that this is the year I want to work on making my morning messages more meaningful each day. I’ve been working different skills into my morning messages so that it helps me and the children focus in on what our target skill will be for that day/week. This week, we have been focusing on rhyming words.


The children love coming up with words that rhyme with our sight words and try to guess what the word will be that I pick to rhyme with on that day.

Kristen 🙂

Anchor charts

One thing I have promised myself that I would do more of this year is to create anchor charts. I’ve been creating them for our reading, writing, and literacy work station times/areas. Here are some examples


I’ve found that not only do these charts help the students remember what to do, they cut down on lots of behavior problems because the children know exactly what they are supposed to be doing because they suggested the ideas on the chart.
We create these charts together after lots of modeling from the children and myself. Writers workshop has been great so far because the children can tell you exactly what they should be doing and how they should be doing it.

How do you store your anchor charts?

Kristen 🙂

Interactive Writing

Just curious to know how many of you out there have read Interactive Writing by McCarrier, Pinnell and Fountas.

I’ve started reading it now that grad classes are over for 3 weeks.  What are your favorite ideas that you use from it in your kindergarten classroom?  I can’t wait to try the names chart–that’s a better approach to a name word wall I think!  Do you use this name chart in conjunction with a name word wall or just use the chart?  I think it would be double duty if you had both.

What are some other great AHA things from this book that you use?  I’m on chapter 2 and my goal is to finish tomorrow (Monday) or Tuesday.

Check out my calendar that I made:

I’m going to be holding a class to teach others how to make it soon!  (Sorry the lighting isn’t the best!).  🙂  We go back on the 15th!

Kristen 🙂

September’s Limbo!

Okay, so we really haven’t been doing the limbo in my class room in September, but it sure feels like it to me!  I was able to teach my kids for the first 2 1/2 weeks of school, and ever since then, my student teacher has been teaching full time, so I feel like I’m in limbo!!  She’s all done teaching next week and then I’ll ease my way back in, although, one could get used to just observing…you hear the most interesting things that way!

I thought I’d better get my blog updated and after some urging from a few friends of mine (Hi Ellen and Vicky!!), I knew that I REALLY needed to!!  So here’s what we’ve been up to so far during September (what I can remember anyway! 🙂  )

Last week was all about Apples.  My student teacher read the Big Book called Apples (it’s from Scholastic and has a book about pumpkins on the back side of it, so it’s really 2 books in one!).  The children learned a song all about the life cycle of the apple tree (she got the song from the September Scholastic News) and then they cut out some pictures to help sequence it on paper. She also used another Big Book called “The Apple Pie Tree” and the children learned about what the apple tree looks like in various seasons.  The children brought in apples and participated in several activities with them.  On Wednesday, they each were given an apple and asked to observe it.  They then put them back into a large group and tried to pick out their apple from that group.  Friday, they had a tasting party, and had to decide which apple food was their favorite:  apple juice, apple, cider, applesauce, apples.  They then graphed their results.

This week, they are doing something with The 5 senses.

It’s so different updating for you when I am not the one teaching it! 🙂  I am aware of what is going on, being taught, and all that, but it’s different describing someone else’s teaching to you…especially since it’s not mine! 🙂  It’s very interesting watching a different style than I am used to…not as much Inquiry as I am accustomed to, and math in a different order, and no writer’s workshop yet.  I need to teach something to someone before I go crazy!! I finally am teaching some in small groups during our Decodable book time and during math, but I’m also getting caught up on some things, and ahead on others.  I’m going to try to post my October lesson plans for you soon…my to-do list is dwindling down to nothing, so that will give me something to do.

If anyone has any questions, requests, etc. now is the time to get them in…before I get busy again!

Not much of an update for you…but I promise to get going again here soon!

P.S. We’re on Magic Tree House Book #3 for those of you keeping track at home! 🙂  Oh, and we also started Name Work Station and Word Work Station today as well.

Kristen 🙂

Classroom Photos 2009-2010, Long Post! :)

I charged my batteries in the camera and took some pictures.  I’ll take you on a tour and you can also check out my photos from last year here to see the differences.

Everything is mostly in the same place, but a few things were changed.  First, I’ll start with some general views:


This is a look at my new computer area; last year the table was perpendicular to where it is now and there was a tall white cabinet in front of the back half of the blue bulletin board you see there.


Looking at my Listening Center Work Station (it’s on the backside of my writing station)


Library Work Station–I moved the book cases around and added my light up palm tree for some fun


Calendar area, bench where I sit, my Big Book teaching cart


The back of my big book cart, this is where Drama Work Station will go–tentatively, I may move it


A view of the mess that is my room! 🙂  The house, loft, my desk and a few tables


My desk, this year I stacked my filing cabinets and moved a table next to my desk.


We moved my son’s train table from home to school and it’s up in the loft now.


Here’s a view of the rest of the loft


My pocket chart stand my hubby built last year–I’ve come up with some new ideas how to use it! 🙂


I use this pencil pouch to store what ever the children are working on at Pocket Chart Work Station


Here’s the new part:  I’m using the back of the chart for Magnetic Work Station during LWS.  Below is an explanation…


Here’s an upclose view.  I just hung it on the 2nd rung down with some of those metal binding rings.


I put magnetic letters in these pencil pouches and velcro-ed  them to the stand…


Here’s the velcro


Sometimes, the children will not be using the board with the spaces I’ve defined.  Instead, they will use these sheets I made last year.


I put magnetic strips on the back to hold them on.


Here’s the desk where my student teacher will sit–do you think she has enough prizes from me?!?!


Binders–waiting for my classlist to arrive so I can write names on them and put their sheet inside for practicing their name


I signed my classroom up through TerraCycle so we can recycle our snack and Capri Sun containers.  These are some I purchased from Target to show my children.


After our first round of Getting to Know you, we will put beads into plastic water bottles with sand so the children can find the letters in their name.


This is how I’ve organized them.


Some birthday certificates I got from the Target dollar spot to recognize birthdays.


A game called Whiz Kids from Discovery Toys I will use with my kids this year.  You pick a letter and a category and then get the number of points on the letter card if you can name something starting with that letter in that category.


This shelf sits next to my bench and will be home to several Literacy Work Stations.


My small group area, parent volunteer area, and where the wonderful, amazing Pam will work!! 🙂


Listening Work Station


The tape recorder sits on top of the cart and the tapes and head phones are stored in the drawers


My basket of things for Pam (yeah!! Pam!!) to copy and pass out to the kids for me.

There it is…I’m going back tomorrow to clean up some more and work on pulling things out for my Math Work Stations and figuring out where they will go! 🙂

Kristen 🙂

LWS Check Sheet

Hi Everyone!

Only 4 1/2 more days of school left! 🙂  I’ll actually be really sad when the last day arrives, but it feels nice to say it now, being on this side of it! 🙂

I’ve been working on planning my workshop this summer.  We’ve decided to call it, “The Farmer’s Market; Inquiry Based Science through Literacy Work Stations”.  Catchy, huh?

I was asked today to present it (okay, more like told that I was going to be!) presenting at the ISRA (Indiana State Reading Association) Conference in March 2010! 🙂  What an honor!

Okay, on to the reason for this post…

I made several sheets to help me get organized so I thought I would share them with you and see what you think.  Now, you can only have them if you promise to leave me a comment! 🙂  Honor system here! I want to know if you would use them, if they are user friendly, and if they make sense!

Here they are in no particular order:

LiteracyWorkStationsPlanningSheet (this one I posted a few days ago…but here it is in the same post with all the others!)

MonarchplanningsheetLWS (this one is the sheet that is posted above, however I filled this one in-at the workshop, this will be given; along with several others to the teachers to help them plan/get started planning and it will also show them the activites they will complete during the workshop)

sciencethemegrid (I created this sheet to show when I teach particular science themes throughout the year, some overlap from month to month)

LWS Check Sheet (This little beauty I created about 5 minutes ago–I wanted to have a sheet that would not only  help me make sure that I had materials for every station this summer during our workshop, but also throughout the school year as well.  It makes the planning sheet above seem a little redundant, but think of this one more of a quick check sheet that you could use when getting materials out/storing them away.  I envision myself putting this sheet into a large Ziploc with the materials that are checked so that they are ready for next year and I know what stations can be open/closed during that theme)

Anyway…there you go!  Remember HONOR SYSTEM–I want comments here people!!! 🙂  If you leave me a comment, I might be persuaded to send 4-5 people a copy of all the handouts given out at my workshop–and I know from the daily hit counter that there are more than just 12 of you out there!  SO LEAVE ME A COMMENT, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???!! 🙂

Kristen 🙂


Hi Everyone!

I’ve been too busy to post regularly, what with the end of the school year and the start of the summer of learning for me! 🙂  Here’s what June looks like for me (already–and it’s not even here yet!!)  June 1-5 and 10-12 Science Academy (I’m returning for a 3rd year) June 8th is open and June 9th, I’m learning about Open Court and the possibility of using it in our schools next year for Interventions.  June 15th, I’m presenting a workshop, June 16th, another one-day workshop offered by our district and then June 17th-19th and June 22nd-26th, I’m taking a General Economics Workshop for 3 credits.  Oh, and on May 29th and 30th, I’m taking International Bacculeraute (sp?) training so that I can incorporate it into my classroom (we’re going k-12).

In the meantime, this week, we’ve been reading 5  Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed–why did I choose this book??  Because we’re all so excited about the end of the school year, we’ve been acting like a bunch of Monkeys! 🙂

Monday, we took a picture walk and then read the story, we also started a Predictable Chart titled…Monkeys…

Tuesday, we listened to the book on tape and played some games and sung some songs that were on the reverse side of the tape.  We also started a KWL chart about Monkeys.  The children knew a little bit about Monkeys, and ended up with some great questions that they “Wondered” about.

Wednesday, we were supposed to go on a field trip to our local park, but it got rained out, so instead we watched A Bugs Life! 🙂  It was a fun time!

Thursday, we read another book about Monkeys, filled in some of the “l’s” on our KWL chart and then we read a book about Lemurs…which led to Madagascar…which led to me agreeing to watch it tomorrow afternoon! 🙂  In the morning we are having our Kindy Olympics.

We have 7 different stations set up and the children (with the help of LOTS of parents) will play their way through the events–just for fun, no competition!   We will have a parachute, trikes, relay races, bean bag tossing, jump ropes, obstacle course, and kickball.  We’ve never done it this way before–we usually have the Kindy 500 (since we’re here in Indiana!), but we wanted to change things up a bit for us and them this year!

Kristen 🙂

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