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Guided Reading Made Simple

I love anything that will help make my life easier and I stumbled upon two great ideas last school year that have helped make my Guided Reading groups run so much more smoothly!

2 ideas to simplify your Guided Reading time!Kristen's Kindergarten

Just changing up these two simple routines has bought me back 3-4 minutes of time and gives my students repeated alphabet practice along with a simple routine they can follow.  When my students see their material baskets out and ready by their whiteboards, they know which routine we will be practicing first and have everything they need ready to go!

In the same way, I used to spend 20 minutes or so every Friday afternoon getting magnetic letters ready for my students so we could make words, but after discovering this idea, my students do all the work and practice locating letters too!

Click here to read more about these tips that will buy you back precious Guided Reading minutes!

 

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Learning to Write Numbers

In Kindergarten, it’s important to have students practice writing and recognizing numbers as soon as you can.  There are so many other things that students will need to do in the first few weeks of school that involve reading, writing, and recognizing numbers!  With a few simple activities, your students (and mine) will be writing and recognizing numbers in no time!

I’m a big fan of anything that creates a tactile learning experience for my students because its another way to cement the learning in their brain.  In an age where so many things are learned through digital media, it is sometimes nice to just have your fingers interact with another surface. 🙂

I’ve got three super easy activities that your students can use to help them read, write, and recognize numbers.  You can start with the numbers 0-10 and add in 11-20 as you find your students mastering the first group of numbers.

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My students LOVE using each of these activities and its already given me great insight into who knows which numbers.  I sit with my students as they use these materials and am quickly able to find out which numbers they know and which ones they are still working on (check off those number id standards!).

You can read more here and get everything you’ll need to get these easy, fun, and tactile number making experiences going in your classroom!

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Back to School Literacy Centers

This year, somehow, I had the foresight to plan out my beginning of year literacy centers BEFORE I left for summer break.  I have no idea where I got that idea or when that idea popped into my head, but it was the best idea. Ever.

Imagine walking back into your room after summer break, and you have one less thing to do! #winning. Seriously.  I walked into my classroom and my literacy centers were ready to go.  Everything I needed to help my beginning of year Kinders learn the routines and procedures associated with learning the alphabet was there in a tub, ready to go.

I came up with 8 easy literacy centers that would help my students get into the grove of literacy centers on the fourth day of school.  Yes, the fourth day of school! That was another brilliant idea! Starting literacy centers as soon as I could.  Getting students in a routine as soon as we can gets them started on the road to independence (and frees you up to meet with small groups sooner!).  Anyway…

8 great literacy center ideas that take so little prep on your part, you will be amazed (and maybe even a little impressed with yourself!).

 

My students have been loving these activities this week (and half of them have asked when we are going to start “learning”)!! Find out all the details here and then get your literacy centers going!

These literacy center ideas are PERFECT for pulling back out later in the year to work with ELL students or other students who haven’t quite mastered all their letter names yet.  They are appropriate, fun, and help those learners who need a bit of an extra boost!

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Dr. Seuss Reading Stations

Anytime of year is a great time to learn about Dr. Seuss!  My Kindergarten students love hearing Dr. Seuss’ stories from day one, but it takes them a little bit to engage with rhyming, opposites, and writing on their own.  Once they are ready for that, I have 7 great stations that you can easily set up for a fun Dr. Seuss day or for small group or large group review!

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Each one of these stations took me less than 5 minutes to set up and create.  I rolled out some Red & White striped tablecloth just to set the scene and we had 7 activities ready to go!  Read all about them here!

 

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Cool Camouflage!!

You know I love all things Science (well almost all things!!) and helping my students explore the world around them is right up there!

I wanted to share this super simple idea that allows students to explore the idea of camouflage and helps them to understand why camouflage is so important to animals, insects, and sea creatures.  With some nature themed fabrics and some super cute critters, my students were able to explore why animals are camouflaged.

Cool Camouflage Pinterest

We spent about an hour exploring all the ways we could best camouflage all of these animals and insects.  It was very interesting to hear my students thinking about why they placed some of the animals and insects where they did to help hide them.  We had fun after this taking those same animals and insects outside to try to camouflage them there!

Click here to read more about our fun adventures in camouflage and to get everything you’ll need!

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Phenomenal Phonics

I don’t know about you, but I always seem to run out of fun activities to do during my small guided reading groups to keep my students engaged and learning! I’ve got 4 activities to share with you today that will keep your students engaged and LEARNING! These activities are great because they can be used in a small group and then introduced as part of an independent practice time.  I also love that more than one student can participate at a time!

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Each of these activities requires little to no prep work and can be used many times as your students skills grow and change.  Click here to check out these Phenomenal Phonics ideas!

 

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Community Helper Bags

I am SO excited to share these Community Helper Bags with you!! I’ve wanted to create them for awhile, but was just waiting for the ideas to come together in my mind so I could make them happen! I created 6 different bags and inside each one of them, I added items that would help my students experience a small part of that community helpers job.  Easy to Make Community Helper Bags

My students have had so much fun using these each day!  They ask for a different bag each time and I love that they are interacting with each other as they explore.

 

A few days ago, some of my students found out how the Chef depends on the Grocer to get the food they need to prepare it!  What a great connection.  Its fun to watch the student who chooses the Mail Carrier bag go on their delivery rounds each day around the classroom! Photo Apr 04, 9 24 19 AM2

This is a closer look at each item that’s in each of the Community Helper Bags!34Photo Apr 04, 2 47 04 PM5

In this photo, you can see one of my students borrowed the fish from the Grocer bag so he could feed it to the kitten! 🙂Photo Apr 09, 3 08 10 PM6Photo Apr 04, 2 52 02 PMPhoto Apr 04, 2 51 42 PM

My students are THRILLED to be able to use these easy to make Community Helper Bags!  You can read more about how I made them here! What other Community Helpers would you include?

 

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Forces & Motion

For those of you who visit often, you know how much I LOVE Science!  When I was asked to help write the new standards for science in Indiana, I knew right away that I wanted some Force & Motion standards in Kindergarten because there are lots of fun toys out there to help students understand how Force & Motion work.

Using a few very simple toys, I was able to help my students understand how they can affect Force and Motion. We used pinwheels, tops, spinning wheels, and several ramp kits.  While working with these materials, my students not only had fun, but they learned about Force & Motion.  We talked about how we can move the pinwheels with our breath, push the tops and spinning wheels in different directions, and help cars move more quickly or slowly down ramps by changing out the texture of the ramps!

Check out the fun we had here!

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Painting Like Eric Carle

One of my favorite things to do is to tie in an art project with a literacy study.  As we studied Eric Carle’s books, my students were interested to know more about how he created his art.  I did some research online and found a few videos that gave us some ideas to help us create art like Eric!

The art we created was AMAZING!!! From start to finish, this has to be one of my favorite projects we’ve ever done and it was EASY! Can you believe we had 25 Kindergarten students all creating their art at the same time and there were no spills, accidents, or mishaps? Check out all the supplies we used and some details about making our art come to life here!

Cool Coding ideas!

I am lucky enough to have 2 Sphero SPRK robots in my classroom.  Recently, we got them out to participate in the Hour of Code.  My students had two opportunities to try Sphero out and test their coding skills. Using the robots is fun enough on its own, but I decided to step it up a little bit and add in some extra details! We also practiced retelling one of our favorite stories with a bit of a coding twist!

What you’ll need:

The first thing we did was create a grid on one of our classroom rugs with Colorful Masking Tape.  We were working on retelling stories and so I challenged my students to use paper arrows to help get the Gingerbread Man through the grid and to stay away from the fox! I placed the characters from the story into different boxes on the grid and then let my students work their way through as they placed the arrows.  They then took the Gingerbread Man and tested out their path to determine if it worked or not.  We used Sphero (posing as the Gingerbread Man) later to follow the path and I forgot to get a picture of that!! 😦  The best thing about this grid is that its still stuck on our rug! My students begged that I leave it on the rug so they could use it again and even with all of us walking on it each day, its still there!

Next, we used some more Colorful Masking Tape to create a bowling alley! I taped off a section of the floor with red tape and then added in some white tape to show where the pins should go (and to create an “x” for my students to stand on).  My students set up the pins from the Small Bowling set on the white lines and started bowling! They loved trying to see how many pins they could knock down.  We played just like real bowling, they got two chances to knock down the pins, but we did not keep score.  Eventually, we will add the number of pins knocked down in each turn together as we work on adding to ten, but for now, we are just exploring!  We also left our bowling alley taped to the floor and we cover it with the rug (from above) when we are not using it.  So far, the Colorful Masking Tape has not left any residue on the carpet, so our housekeepers will be happy!

Finally, to make things a little more challenging, I set up an obstacle course with Colorful Traffic Cones for my students to maneuver the Sphero through.  To begin, we set up a simple in and out weaving pattern.  Later, we added in a turn to the in and out pattern and that made it a little more difficult, so we will be practicing that for a little longer!

These ideas could be used with any robot that you might have or if you don’t have any “bots”, you can always have your students “program” each other through the challenges!

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