Thursday, August 29, 2013

FREE Awesome App for Research on Endangered Animals

With a greater emphasis on informational text and the Common Core, I wanted to share one of my favorite apps that I use with students for research.  And best of all it is FREE. It is by the World Wildlife Fund or WWF.  Here is a YouTube video of what it is like.

First of all, it has beautiful beautiful photographs. One of my favorite aspects of the app is your students can touch one of the places on the globe, and it brings up the endangered animal and how many miles it is from where the students live. It also has great video clips of the animals too.  Plus your students can research how they can help protect endangered animals.  Love, love, love this app!
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Come back again soon.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Quotes for Teachers

It's Back to School time!  How many have already had your first day of school? How many will soon be starting?  I've visited by text, phone, and online with teachers from all over the United States this past week.  And guess what?  Teaching is a HARD job.  Let me rephrase that:  Teaching is an exhausting job!  How soon we forget all of the procedures it took to get our students from the first day of school to the last day of school.  If you have already started, you are feeling it to the core of your being.  If you are getting ready to start, you just think you remember:-)

So I wrote you some words of wisdom and encouragement to get your through the first month of school.  Print up your favorite color, and place it where you can see it every day.  Then in October, reflect on how far they have come. Think of all of the learning that has taken place.  In fact, make a note to reflect on this in December, March, and May.  But one thing is for sure.  You DO make a difference in the lives of your students every day.  You DO matter.  You ARE the reason that they are making progress.  Remember to build a community of learners and get those procedures in place.  And one more very important thing:  Take care of yourself too!  Have a great school year.
If you made it through your first day, congratulations!
Breathe, work on procedures, and get to know your students.  Plus drink tons of water:)
CLICK HERE to download your FREE posters.  There are many colors to choose from.

Chevron Frame Clip Art by:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

BAM! POW! WOW! Get Your Students WRITING!

Do you need a motivating way to get your students to write?  Let them become Superhero Writers!    I use BAM, POW, WOW to help young students connect to writing.  BAM is for adding details.  POW is for using powerful words.  WOW is for checking their stories for correct capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.  For young children, most of their time needs to be spent writing their stories and adding details. If we want our students to value writing and be motivated to write more, we need to encourage them to write about topics they choose instead of having them write to a prompt.  I add a kinesthetic and visual movement with this as seen in the pictures below.
These are the motions we do as we talk about our writing.
Use the BAM! POW! WOW! chart to help students evaluate their own writing.
This is one of the cheers that that we do to celebrate our writing. The students who share their writing at the end of Writer's Workshop get to lead the class in the cheer.  You can also substitute the student's name and say "The name of the student" is a Super Writer Now!
I created these multimedia files to use with the Superhero Theme and writing.  You can view these on my Teachers Pay Teachers store for more information.  I've included a small video clip from each file.  The link will be in the comment after the video file.
IDEA SUPERHEROES Click HERE to read more about this multimedia file.  Teach your students where writers get their ideas for writing.
LETTER SUPERHEROES Click HERE to read more about this multimedia file.  Teach your students when to use a capital letter.

SPELLING SUPERHEROES Click HERE to read more about this multimedia file.  Teach your students when to use a capital letter.

The Super Hero to the Writing Rescue Multimedia files also include songs for teaching:

NARRATIVE SUPERHEROES - Teach your students the steps for writing a personal narrative. Click HERE.
OPINION SUPERHEROES - Teach your students the steps for opinion writing. Click HERE.
PUNCTUATION SUPERHEROES - Teach your students when to use a period, question mark, or exclamation point at the end of a sentence. Click HERE.

I combined them all into a SUPERHERO BUNDLE SET.  Click HERE for more information.  

And what's even better is they are on sale Sunday, August 18, 2013 & Monday, August 19, 2013.  Everything in my store is 28% off.  Use the discount code BTS13 when you check out.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have fun teaching your students about BAM! POW! WOW!

”Letter Superheroes,” “Punctuation Superheroes,” “Spelling Superheroes,” “Idea Superheroes,” “Opinion Superheroes,” and “Narrative Superheroes” are part of the Super Heroes to the Writing Rescue multimedia series by Kathy Griffin. Music performed, recorded, and produced by Lane A. Lollar and Maury Tindle at Studio Two Recording, Tulsa, OK. Words by Kathy Griffin and music by Lane Lollar © Copyright 2013. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Please Don't Take My Pretend Center Away

I'm often asked by many teachers and administrators if our kindergarten children still have time to "play."  My answer is, "YES!"  Play is children's work.  That is how they learn.  The pretend center seems to be a controversial area right now as we move towards the Common Core.  I am a fan of the Common Core, and I believe that the pretend center is the perfect place to work on those standards.  Math occurs in the pretend center. Language occurs in the pretend center.  Reading occurs in the pretend center. And writing can definitely enhance the pretend center.  When I set up my kindergarten classroom, I put my writing center close to my pretend center.  The reason is they complement each other.  What better way to get your students writing, than to let them have ownership of where they play.   Let them plan and design their centers.  Use rich vocabulary when designing them.  Use real world experiences to create your centers.  How many of you have a doctor office or a vet clinic in your pretend center?  Your housekeeping center can easily transform into many wonderful learning adventures for your students.  Below are examples of my students' writing that occurred from me turning it over to them. Look carefully at their samples and see what kindergarten students can do when you encourage them to write for meaning.  Then look below the pictures for a few Common Core standards that are being met by doing this.
How many words can you read?  You know you're an early childhood
teacher when you can read these words quickly:-)
Some use pictures, some use inventive spelling, and some use both.  
Sure it is easy to place an order verbally.  But encourage them to write their orders while in the writing center and then place in a basket for others to fill the orders.  FUN!  Looks like we need some hamburgers, cheeseburgers, breakfast bagels, chicken nuggets, and some apple dippers.
Now think of all the math that can occur when counting out orders. 
Cardinality comes from authentic practice too.
Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.1a Print many upper and lowercase letters.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K. Form regular plural nouns orally by adding /s/ or /es/

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2c Write a letter or letters for most consonant and short-vowel sounds.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.K.2d Spell simple words phonetically, drawing on knowledge of sound-letter relationships.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.1b Recognize that spoken words are represented in written language by specific sequences of letters.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K1d Recognize and name all upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K2d Isolate and pronounce the initial, medial vowel, and finals sounds in three-phoneme words.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3a Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.3b Associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings for the five major vowels.

Stretching words apart into their individual sounds when writing is like a child decomposing a number with manipulatives in math.  Writing letters for sounds becomes a manipulative opportunity for our emergent writers.

The child advocate in me is saying, "YES! They need to play.  YES! They need to read and write.  And YES!  They can do all of that in the pretend center.  The motivation to read and write comes from the desire to make their play environment the best that it can be.  If we want our young students to write opinion and narrative writing, then we need to give them many, many opportunities to experiment with words.

I always say that teaching kindergarten is a hard balance these days.  Our children deserve the best environment to learn.  Let's do our best to keep the pretend center in our classrooms.

Thanks for stopping by.  I would love for you to leave your comments below on your favorite pretend center that you have in your classroom.  Let's get the ideas flowing.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Superheroes Group Time Listening Procedures

Do you need a visual poster or cards to help establish group time listening procedures?  I just loaded my new Superheroes Listening Packet to TpT.  These are the procedures I have used in my class for many years.  I just changed to a Superhero Theme for writing, so this worked well.  It's only $1.00 at my store.

Click HERE to view this on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Throwback Thursday

I'm linking up with First Grade Parade for Cara's Throwback Thursday.  With school starting again, I thought I would bring back a post about beginning of the year procedures.  I've added in a couple of new pictures to illustrate my previous post.

Originally Posted August 21, 2012

Back to School Procedures

I spent today with a friend on her first day of school teaching first grade.  She has been out of the classroom for a few years and use to teach 5th grade. So I spent last week helping her get her room ready for today - the first day of school.

And what did we do all day long?  Procedures, procedures, procedures.  It was fun for me to be able to tag team with her, and it made me realize that I am very much a procedure chanting teacher.  You see, I strongly believe, that young children need lots of repetition involving movement activities, along with visual, and auditory connections.  So today I thought I would share the "Griffin's Top 4 Tips" for making your classroom run more smoothly.

#1  Provide movement activities for your students as soon they enter.  Music and movement can engage children and set a positive climate for learning.   What songs do I use?  Jack Hartmann'sCJ,  and MINE :)  It's been really fun to use my songs and movement activities over the last few years with my students.  But it was even more fun to work alongside another teacher and show how much music can help them settle into the new year's routines.  Here is my multimedia file Verbs Show Action.  You can check it out on Teachers Pay Teachers HERE.

#2 My favorite teaching quote from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss:  "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how."  This is my "mantra" for teaching all parts of our day.  We talk about in order to do fun things during the school day, we have to first learn the procedures for doing those fun activities.  I make it a chant

Teacher:  It's fun to have fun . . .
Students:  But you have to know how!

We practiced this all day today, when transitioning or learning a new part of our day.  I can't wait to show you the activity/bulletin board we are creating to reinforce this concept.  Check back or follow my blog so you don't miss it. (UPDATED PIC BELOW)

Of course you have to throw in some fun activities to reinforce it.  Check out this post for one of the listening activities we did today using our grabbers.  Right now we are just doing 2-3 step directions to learn the procedures.  When we can do this successfully, we will start adding academics to the games.  Sometimes we speed along too fast and don't take time to teach children how to follow directions.

Updated Picture from my friends bulletin board that we created to reinforce my favorite teaching quote. 
We added Superhero Capes to the Cat in the Hat and to the children's artwork too.
#3 Another quote that just slips right out while I am teaching procedures:

Teacher:  Whose job is it to keep you safe?
Students:  You and me (They point to the teacher and then to themselves).

How does this help?  It makes you a collaborative team in following the rules.  Rules are not just some arbitrary random judgement calls that infringe on their FUN!  They have to know the "why" behind the rule. For example:  We keep our legs criss-crossed in group time because if you stretch your legs out and someone walks by, they might trip over your legs and fall on you.  Is that keeping you safe?  And of course they say, NO!  Have them share the responsibility of keeping them safe.

#4 Listening Strategies

Here is a anchor chart that I made with my students.  It's been pinned many, many times.  Give it a try this year!  It works:-)

I recently wrote a post about these strategies and how they help my students get rid of their "wiggles."  I just released my new "Listening Strategies" packet on Teacher Pay Teachers and it is getting great feedback from others.  If I had to ask my friend Stacee what helped her the most today, she would say "The Listening Strategies."  We used the big cards from the pack and put them up on a magnetic dry erase bulletin board.  This peaked the students curiosity in what movement activity we did for each strategy.  It became a visual, kinesthetic, and auditory way of learning strategies to become better listeners.   Stacee would call on different students throughout the day during each group time to choose another large card off the bulletin board.  They were able to bring it to group time as we learned the strategy.  Then throughout the day, we did "listening strategies" quick checks to see if they could remember the different ones.  It's amazing how some children were already figuring out which one works for them.  Here is an important key concept that is written in the directions in the packet and one that I say when presenting at conferences.

"A strategy is only a strategy if it helps you.  If it disturbs your friends, it is not a strategy."

Yes, I am a chanting teacher.  Chants, rhythms, and repeat - echo games help keep your students engaged.  Click HERE to take you to my Listening Strategies for the Early Childhood Classroom which includes 4 new songs.  We did the Wiggle Line Up March today.
 Don't forget to stop by The First Grade Parade to check out other great posts from other bloggers.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives and Pete the Cat

With school returning, I wanted to share some anchor charts that I use for my students to highlight Pete the Cat books.  After all, who isn't a Pete the Cat fan?  If you haven't heard of Pete the Cat before, there will be a link at the bottom on this blog.  It is a must have for PreK-2nd grade.  In fact, our 4th grade reading buddies loved the blue cat with the great attitude.

We play I Spy "Pete's Nouns." The children name all of the nouns that we find in Rocking in My School Shoes.    They use the chart to locate the nouns in the book as a literacy center.  Younger students can just name the pictures or draw the nouns.  Older students can illustrate and write the words.
I love Rocking in My School Shoes because I always take my students on a walking field trip around the school the first two days.  This book is full of "verbs" that we do every day at school.  Make a list and then act out the verbs by playing "Pete's Charades."  Call on a student to acting out a verb from the story.  Have the other students guess the verb.  Take is a step further and brainstorm  a list of other verbs that you "do" at school. Are there different places you visit at your school that is not in the book?
And it all started here with I Love My White Shoes.  It doesn't get any better than this.  I think this is my "ALL TIME" favorite book with the easy predictable text and the wonderful moral at the end.  "It's all good" is my teaching motto.  When all of those crazy things happen on those first days of school, just look at your colleagues and end it with a smile and "It's all good."  And just for fun think of all the ways Pete and your students can "move" in their new school shoes.  After reading through the story and acting it all out, discuss ways to describe Pete's shoes.  Introduce those words as adjectives - describing words.  Then make a list of adjectives to describe their own shoes.  I'm sure their will be some shiny, glittery, colorful, blinking lights shoes in your classroom the first week.

Want another "I Spy" game.  Guess how many Common Core Language Standards were addressed in this blog? Many!  "It's ALL good!"

Here is a link to Pete the Cat books on Amazon.  Look towards the bottom of the page for all of the Pete the Cat books.
Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, August 2, 2013

DIY Literacy Road

Keeping young students engaged while learning the alphabet can be challenging sometimes.  When we provide our students with tactile and kinesthic experiences to practice emergent literacy skills, it is a win-win for both students and teachers. Here is a DIY center to keep your students driving down the road to alphabet recognition success.  And it is easy to differentiate, so your students can also work on letter sounds, phonemic awareness, substitution of sounds, and word families.

Here is a quick, inexpensive way to build a road for your students.  Buy 3 long sheets of black craft foam paper.  Using a sentence strip as a guide, cut strips through your craft foam.  Glue a "speed bump" (yellow craft foam) on top of one end of the road strip.  You will need to put a magnet strip on the underneath side of the speed bump part of the road.  Also place a magnet strip on top of the opposite end of the road.  I make a road strip for each letter of the alphabet.

Add a "start" sign on the "a" road.  Notice that I placed a magnetic strip underneath the speed bump "a."  I  also write the vowels in red.  Students know when they go over the vowel speed bump, it doesn't change the word.  

Students can build the road in ABC order.  I always use lowercase letters because those are the ones they will encounter the most when reading.

Use your extra Hot Wheel cars and put a foam strip word family on several cars.  I usually put 2-4 different word families in the tub.  When the student drives the car over the bump, it changes to a different word (except the vowels).  Students can say whether it makes a real word or a "pretend" word.  If you have 1st grade students, they can record the words they make.  

I put magnets on a few side pieces of the road so it can can have turns instead of being a straight road. You can differentiate this for your students PreK-1st Grade.  They can drive the cars and say their ABC's (naming), their  sounds, or play the "Speed Bump" word family game.

My favorite part of the game is that it is quieter because it's made out of  foam.  YES - always an added bonus in a busy early childhood classroom:-)

Here are our whole group "Speed Bump" cars that they students hold during group time.   We take turns stepping on speed bumps around the room to change our words.

Want a fun song to play with the road game?  Take a sneak peak at my Five Word Families Multimedia file.

You can find it on Teachers Pay Teachers.  And it's on sale today.  Click HERE to see it on my store.

I also have a GAME ACTIVITY PACK and BOOK SET and the mp3 INDIVIDUAL SONG that goes with it too.  Have fun building Literacy Roads!

Thanks for stopping by!

Common Core Tunes to Teach Close Reading

Yes, I am a singing teacher.  If I can make up a song to teach a concept, that's what I do.  Here is FREEBIE on teaching young students about giving their opinion about a book that they have read or one that you have read to them.  We practice "talking the talk" before "walking the walk."  In other words, all students should have many opportunities to practice giving their opinion about a book, telling the class why, and citing specific examples from the book.  CLICK HERE to download this FREEBIE.

Use this page to display on an interactive whiteboard, Elmo, or digital projector.
The page can be printed to share in a whole group classroom discussion.
This is the student page that can go in a reading response journal.

This form is for 1st-2nd Grade students.  The students fill in the information, give their opinion, then list their reasons why citing specific examples from the text to support their opinion.

This form is for Kindergarten, 1st grade students, or students who have trouble writing their thoughts. Students can draw a pictorial representation, write words, or do both with this form. Students color in their opinion in the boxes provided.
 If you like the Opinion Reading Response FREEBIE,  check out my new packet for teaching other literature and informational text Common Core State Standards

All charts are designed to be mini-lessons to support the Literature and Informational Text Common Core State Standards.  The intent is for teachers to do a gradual release of learning.  Use these charts for whole group. 
Use these charts for whole group and small group practice.
Use these recording sheets as independent practice for your students to express their thoughts, ideas, connections,  details, and facts.
Click HERE to view the complete packet.  It's 54 pages and is $3.00.  But it is on sale for $2.40 through tomorrow August 2, 2013.