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Monday, October 19, 2015

Pastel Pumpkins!

This week we decided to take a break from all the painting and do a pumpkin drawing lesson.
We started off by practicing on dry erase boards. This is a great way to teach the kids drawing skills, with low stress. We use a "my turn" "your turn" approach. This helps to ensure that most of the kids are watching you as you show them what to do. 
Here are the steps:

1. Draw two dots. One near the bottom and one near the top of the board. The two dots should be about the height of the pumpkin you want to draw.
2. Connect the two dots with a curved line on either side (you will end up with a pointy oval).
3. Continue to make your pumpkin "grow" by drawing larger curved lines on either side, starting with the dot on the top and connecting with the dot on the bottom (these are the segments of the pumpkin).
4. Draw a curved stem.
5. Draw leaves (they look like fingers).
5. Draw a curly vine.

Once the kids are able to do this you can move on with pastels and paper.
1. Using a light colored pastel (we used peach) draw your two dots and connecting lines (segments).
2. Color in each segment with an orange pastel either coloring in with the tip or side of the pastel.
3. Use the yellow pastel to add "highlight" to the pumpkin segments for added dimension
4. Using light green, draw a curved stem, leaves & vines.
5. Color in the stem and leaves using the green pastel.
6. Use a green pastel to shade in below the pumpkin to show that it's sitting on the ground and not floating.

Dry erase boards & markers (or paper and pencil)
Pastels: peach, orange, yellow, light green, dark green
Black paper cut 9" x 12"

Monday, October 12, 2015

Word Family Puzzles

A while ago we purchased this great set of CVC Puzzles from One Sharp Bunch. 

This week we are focusing on the -an family, so the kids will be working with them during guided reading. We printed, laminated and cut apart 6 sets of -an puzzles from the set but needed an easy way to pass them out and store. 

Look what we found at the Dollar King!

They are index card holders. 
Fun colors, easy to open, perfect size for the puzzles and . . .

There's even a spot to put in a label!

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mixing Colors to Create Kandinsky Concentric Circles

This week we combined the last two art lessons on primary colors and secondary colors to create our own art! First, we reviewed our lesson from last week on secondary colors using the same Primary and Secondary Notebook Lesson for Smart Board (free at TPT). 

Then, we watched this video about colors.

We introduced our art inspiration for the art project: Kandinsky's Squares with Concentric Circles

Large paper plate palettes
Tempera Paint (red, yellow, blue)
Paper towels
White construction paper squares folded into fourths 8" x 8"

1. Students start by painting a small circle in the center of a square. 
2. Students then mix colors to paint different colors and make their circle "grow".
3. When their circles are almost as big as the square, they start a new one and repeat (4 circles total)

1. Be sure to tell students not to "scrub" with their q-tips back and forth but rather paint in a circle.
2. Have plenty of q-tips for mixing colors, we went through A LOT!
3. Give each student a baby wipe for easy clean up of hands and tables.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Mixing Colors to Make Secondary Colors

This week we taught the kids how to mix primary colors to make secondary colors. We started off with a review of the primary colors using our Smart Board Notebook presentation from last week. 

To to TPT to download this Notebook Lesson for free!

Then read the book White Rabbit's Color Book by Alan Baker. This is a great introduction to mixing colors. The kids really loved listening to this story and were trying to predict what color the rabbit would make next.

The next slide reviewed what happened in the story: how two primary colors mixed together make other colors called secondary colors. 

This video was another fun way to demonstrate mixing colors:

Finally, the kids got to mix some colors of their own!

Small paper plate palettes
Tempera paints (red, yellow, and blue)
(We wanted to focus on mixing colors without the additional mess when using brushes and water)
Paper towels
Color mixing sheets from Lilliput Station (freebie)
*We added the letters to help the kids start with the correct primary colors.

1. Students use q-tips to fill in each square with the correct primary color. 
2. For the last box in each row, fill in the box with the first primary color and then layer on top with the second color, mixing the two in the box.

1. Have plenty of q-tips.
2. Make sure kids refer to the letters so they know what color to paint in each box.
3. A little blue goes a looooong way when mixing to make green and purple.

This was a great lesson! 
Stayed tuned to see how we use what we learned to create our own works of art next week!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Language Arts Block

Group time has been very challenging this year. We have two blocks of language arts differentiated by ability. The "lower" group is much more quiet during this time, seem to get along better with each other and handle "centers" after they are finished with their independent work well.

The "higher" group is noisier, interrupt me during guided reading often, argue with each other during "centers" . . . I can barely get through my guided reading groups.

Time for a new plan!

I researched and found that many teachers use a Daily 5 format . . . I was not familiar with the term but am very familiar with the format of it. I decided this was what my "higher" group needed, challenging, structured, quiet activities. Tried it out this week and it was much better!

Here's what the choices were (I have a Daily 6):

Read to Self: Library books or books from the chair pockets (that are leveled).
Read to a Friend: Same books as above. Friends take turns reading each page in their books.
Pocket Chart with Pointers: Build sentences and reading with pointers.
Word Work: Sight word coloring sheet & play-doh sight words.
Write the Room: Recording sheet on clip boards. Students search the room for "school words" that are posted to write down.    
Working on Writing: Making lists. Students use fun notepads to write on in the writing center.

I found some great resources! Here are the links:

Daily 5 Classroom Management System has pre-made and editable signs to post in the classroom. (free)

Write the Room Back to School is good for introducing Write the Room for the 1st time. ($1)

Sentence Building Set is great for the pocket chart. It comes with sight words as well as pictures by season. ($3.75)

Sight Word Coloring Sheet is what we used for Word Work to review the sight words we have learned in class. (free from us) 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Number Art

This week for our integrated art lesson our inspiration was Robert Indiana. 
He is probably most well known for his LOVE sculpture and painting.

Our art focus was positive and negative space. The letters in red are the positive spaces and the blue and green background are negative.

We also showed the kids Robert Indiana's NUMBER sculptures and paintings focusing on the use of positive and negative space.

Who knew letters and numbers could become art?

The kids were told to do the following:
1. Write their names on the back of the 7" x 7" cardboard.
2. Choose 4 different colors of construction paper for the negative space.
3. Write 4 different numbers in the spaces as large as they can with a pencil.
4. Glue different materials to create the numbers: seeds, pom poms, beads, yarn, straws . . . anything we have available at the time. 
(we use tacky glue to make sure everything stays on).

Here are the results!

Stay tuned for our art lesson next week!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Kindergarten Schedule for 3rd Week of School and Groups!

By the 3rd week of school we have completed a basic assessment of the kids (alphabet, letter-sounds, sight words, counting and number recognition) to place them into groups.
The 3rd week is all about getting the kids to remember their team colors and rotating from table to table during groups.

To help the kids remember their team colors we bought colored hair bands for them to wear on their wrists.

Here are the plans for week 3 of school!
You will notice that some of my plans are typed out, and the rest I will hand-write in.
Also, you will only see what's happening in my room during the language arts block. While I am teaching the language arts small group block Suzanne is teaching whole group math in her room. We do this for an hour and then switch and do it all over again! The two groups are differentiated. We do this Monday, Wednesday & Friday. On Thursday instead of guided reading, I teach writing instead.

Later in the day you will see "FLIP FLOP".
This is another differentiated block. I teach science and social studies. While in the other room Suzanne teaches shared reading and reading comprehension. We have each group for 1/2 hour and then switch.

I know complicated right? It took a lot of work to figure out, and there is no down time at all but it's great to be able to differentiate our lessons to meet the needs of our students.

Friday we had no school.

Coming soon a post on how I manage my language small group block!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Back to School Sale!

It's that time again!

We are having a BACK TO SCHOOL SALE to help you get ready for the new school year!

August 31st - September 2nd

20% Off Everything in our TPT Store!

You can also check out our newest product:

 Addition & Subtraction Word Problems Set for Numbers 0 - 5

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Whew! Time for Back to School Night!

Whew! We made it through our first week of school as teachers and parents! Between Suzanne and I we have a 7th grader, two 4th graders, a 2nd grader and a pre-schooler . . . it's been a very busy week!

We had some criers, no runners and no potty accidents this week so all in all I think we did okay.

Now we are gearing up for our Back to School Night. Even though we each have our own class of students, we do everything together . . . planning, prepping, recess duty, teaching small groups and differentiated whole group activities. So it makes sense that we have our Back to School Night together as well . . . makes it much more enjoyable!

This year we are using Prezi to help us with our presentation . . . it looks very professional and helps keep to things running smoothly.

Here is what it looks like when you are in the process of creating your presentation. You can choose from a variety of templates. I chose the one that looks like a bulletin board. Don't you love it? During presentation mode, it will glide from one section to the next going clockwise and end in the center with "Questions".

Here is a close-up of one of the sections of our presentation:

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Intelligence vs. Effort

Have you ever had that parent in your class who tells you that their child is smart?  Or the parent who approaches you at the beginning of the year and thinks their child knows everything they need to know in kindergarten so their child should just be your helper or be accelerated?  Or the student who tells you that their parents tell them how smart they are?  Sometimes you might even catch yourself telling your students how smart they are.  "Great job, you are such a smartie pants!"

Well, we all mean well.  We are praising kids for a job well done.  Praise is really important especially in kindergarten.  However, what we need to pay attention to is the kind of praise we are giving to kids.

We never really gave much thought to this until a couple of years ago when we had a student who just didn't seem to put much effort into his work.  It wasn't that he wasn't smart.  The ability was there.  He just didn't want to do any more than was required.  As all the other students started showing growth this child just flatlined.  How was this possible?  What was happening with this child that caused him to be the only one to not show progress?  These questions all lead us to the research of Carol Dweck,  a psychology professor at Stanford University.  And it all suddenly became clear to us.  Our student had what Dweck calls a "fixed" mindset.  He was less interested in learning than the rest of the class and was a bit afraid to make mistakes.  When all the other students just went for it, this child held back.  This child also told us how his parents said he was a nerd.  We were so taken back by this we asked him what a nerd was and he said "it means I am very smart."  Carol Dweck believes that when you tell a child how smart they are you are sending them the message that they can just rely on their intelligence to get them through and they don't have to put forth extra effort because it will just come naturally.    

The challenge was to get this child to have what Dweck calls a "growth" mindset.  You learn through hard work and making mistakes.  Perseverance became one of the most important vocabulary words in our classroom.  Slowly this child did start to make improvements, but we all had to make sure we were all on the same page.  This meant also educating the parents to use deliberate words to express how important effort is and making comments of what you observe instead of judging them.   

Instead of ....

You got a good grade on that.  You are so smart.

I knew you were smart that is why you did it.

You are really a smart girl.


I really like the way you practiced and put so much effort into your work.

Wow, you worked really hard on that.

You found a creative way to solve that, great job.

The lesson here is that the key to any child's success is not to tell them how smart they are but helping them to understand how important it is to put effort into their work. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Getting Ready . . .

Every year we like to try something new to improve our teaching, organization, etc.

This year we are going to make GLUE SPONGES!

It always seems that a few months into the school year, the glue bottles start clogging, the glue sticks are falling apart . . .

Our students collage almost everyday. LOTS of cutting and gluing. Their independent work while we are in groups is book making. We work on a page a day and the books support what we are learning in class. 
Here is an example of our All About Me Book:

So you know why having glue that works is so important to us! This can also be used to glue copy paper for those cut and glue worksheets so it eliminates the need to use glue sticks . . . hooray!


Snap Lid Containers (We found them at The Dollar Tree/1 container per 2 students)
Sponges (Ocelo sponges are the perfect size)
1 School Size Bottle of Glue per container


Watch this video by The Kindergarten Smorgasboard

Who else wants to try?

Monday, July 27, 2015

Don't Use Power Point . . . use PREZI!

It seems that more and more classrooms are integrating the use of technology to present lessons and teach students. At our school we have been using interactive "smart" boards, document cameras and laptops for a while now. We love that there are so many resources right at our fingertips and we are able to incorporate videos, music, visuals, interactive websites, apps, etc. into our lessons.  

PREZI is a presentation software that is similar to Power Point but much easier to use and visually more "fun" and pleasing to work with.  We use PREZI to help us deliver our lessons seamlessly with all of our music, visuals, videos imbedded. 

Here are some screen shots of a lesson on globes we created with PREZI.  

To find out more about PREZI watch this video and then go to
Educators get a free account with 4GB of storage.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Texting Parents Using Remind

A couple years ago we took our students on a field trip to the farm. It was about an hour away, our bus was full so we asked parent volunteers to meet us there. On the way, not only did the bus driver get lost but the off-ramp was closed and she had to take a detour. We knew we were going to be really late and didn't want all those parents waiting at the farm to be worried. So we proceeded to call all the parents up one by one on our cell phones. This was time-consuming and now all those parents had our personal cell phone numbers, which we usually do not give out.

This last year we discovered Remind!
When you sign up (free), you are able to text/chat with your entire class using your cell phone. All you have to do is download the instructions and hand them to the parents in your class. We added the instructions to our Back to School Night packets at the beginning of the school year. The instructions give parents a code they text to join and receive texts from the teacher.

Here is what the parent instructions look like:

We have used this as a means to send a friendly reminder of upcoming events and activities. It can be used on field trips, and be used during emergencies. You can text a person or the entire class at once.

Here is what the Remind site looks like when accessed on the computer:

What a great resource for teachers!
We hope you check it out!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Teacher Planning Calendar Blank Template

We have used this calendar to help us with our long range lesson planning. It has enough space to write what themes are going to be taught, important dates/meeting to remember, birthdays, etc. We keep it in the very front of our lesson planning binders. The best part is, it is free from Kindergarten Works and you can download it from her Kindergarten Works TPT store.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Cute Fonts for the New School Year!

Just found this site with super cute free fonts!
These will be great for sprucing up your newsletters, lesson plans, worksheets, etc.

Here are some examples of the fonts you can find at