The Old Kid On the Block

Whoa.  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I’m not going to apologize for the lack of blog posts.  Or not posting on Instagram.  Or even not making TpT products.  I took some time off.  A LONG time off.  I needed a social media break.  This whole blogging thing just got to be too much for me.  But, I want to rewind a bit – way back to 2010 when I first started this blogging gig.  I thought I might give you a little background as to how this all got started.

So, step into your time machine – here goes.  In 2010, I was teaching Kindergarten and working on my master’s degree.  My advisor wanted me to start thinking of what I wanted to do for my final project.  I had the brilliant (I thought) idea of starting a literacy blog.  My plan was to blog about my literacy teaching (since I was getting my master’s in Reading Education) and reflecting along the way.  I thought it was a great idea! My advisor did not. 

Well, by this time, I had already made quite a few blog posts, and had gained a pretty large following.  I was enjoying what I was doing – sharing with other teachers – so I kept going.  Pretty soon, I had thousands of hits a day.  I was amazed that teachers actually wanted to peek into my classroom.  I mean, I’m just an ordinary Kindergarten teacher from North Dakota – I was doing what everyone else was doing, right?

I started to make connections with other bloggers.  There weren’t very many of us out there at the time, so we all became pretty close.  Then this thing called Teachers Pay Teachers popped up on my radar.  So, I decided to give it a go.  Holy smokes.  People wanted to BUY what I was making? 

But, it got to be too much.   I had to take a step back.  I was spending too much time on my computer, and not enough time with my family.  In the time that I’ve been “gone”, I’ve changed schools twice, opened a brand new, beautiful school, and changed grade levels.  I’ve focused on my family (my girls are 15 and 10 now!) and the students that I have every day.

Now I’m back.  Ready to start again.  But,  this whole blogging world, and TpT has changed.  BIG TIME.  All of a sudden, we need to have “pin worthy” photographs, videos, Facebook Lives, Instagram Stories.  Hold up.  That’s NOT me. I completely respect and even envy the people that can do that, my life is too jam packed.  I don’t have hours in the day to spend doing those things – I work a full time job, and I have a full time family.  This is a side-gig!

I’m not sure if I’m doing anything in the classroom that you want to see, but I’m going to do my best to start showing you again.  I won’t have videos or pin-worthy photos.  Just simple, plain ideas.  So, if you want that, stick around – if you like what you’re reading, tell a friend!  That’s how this whole thing got started anyways – not Pinterest, not Instagram, not even Facebook! 

Thank you readers, for your support and kindness over the past 7 years.  I appreciate every kind word and message you have ever sent.  I will do my best to give you a peek into my classroom, and maybe make a few things along the way! 

Have You Heard About This EPIC Tool?

If you haven’t signed up for an EPIC account, you need to do it NOW!  We have been using EPIC in our first grade classroom all year this year, and the children are OBSESSED! 

EPIC is subscription based, however, it is FREE to educators! Yes, you heard that right – FREE! I have the app downloaded on our class ipads (I have 6) and the children use it for listening to reading or read to self time.

You simply create a profile for each student, and when the student logs in for the first time, they can pick the types of books they like to read to add to their bookshelves.

 

My kiddos LOVE to customize their avatar and earn badges and rewards as they read.

The LOVE it!

So, what are you waiting for? Go sign up for your account!

It’s the Little Things

Sometimes getting kids to do the little things is the hardest, right?  They manage to tackle difficult math problems, write amazing stories, and bust out STEM creations like it’s nobody’s business.  But, neat writing and punctuation? Man, that’s hard!

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I wanted to share with you a few things that I use to help my kiddos work on these skills.

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When I taught Kindergarten I taught handwriting as I introduced and tuaght the alphabet.  We continued to practice handwritng throughout the year in various ways.

I used various textures, like writing in salt:

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Using these “bumpy” taxtile cards:

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We loved using these highway cards from Dr. Jean

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Plain old alphabet stamps and smelly markers:

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We used many different tools to practice forming the letters in many authentic ways.

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When it was time for some more paper and pencil practice, we used these:

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They are super simple, yet super effective! I don’t believe that children should write the same letter over and over a billion times on a page – we all know that they more they write, the messier it gets!  I developed these handwriting pages to just have a few opportunities to practice.  I usually have them circle their best attempt too. 

There are sentences on each page – they don’t necessarily have the focus letter, but are intended to practice all letters in a meaningful way.  There is also a small box for an illustration – great way to check comprehension on the sentences :).

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This one is tricky, and takes a LOT of practice and reminders!  I really love to use Kelley Dolling’s Punctuation has Personality pack to reinforce the importance of punctuation.

To continue to practice punctuation and sentence structure, we use scrambled sentences during our Daily 5 Work on Writing Time. 

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Fix It! Read It! Write It! January Sentence ScramblesFix It! Read It! Write It! October Sentence ScramblesFix It! Read It! Write It! Back to School Sentence ScramblesFix It! Read It! Write It! December Sentence ScramblesFix It! Read It! Write It! November Sentence Scrambles

I currently have packets out through January – I hope to get February and March done ASAP!

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Another super fun way we practice handwriting and punctuation (other than during our Writers’ Workshop time, of course!!) it using Fix Its. 

Of course, we all know the best way to practice these skills IS through authentic writing, but sometimes kiddos just need that little bit of extra practice to even start noticing errors.  I have used these fix it pages for years BOTH in Kindergarten and First Grade, and the children LOVE THEM!

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I created these WAY back in 2011 and have used them consistently ever since.  A few years back, I gave these guys an update, so if you already own them, make sure you re-download!

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I hang this anchor chart in my room once we have introduced the fix-its.  The children refer to it during Daily 5 and Writers’ Workshop as well.

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This pack worked really well for me towards the mid-to-end part of Kindergarten and all through first grade.  I wanted something to support kiddos a little earlier in Kindergarten, so I made this pack as well:

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What are your tips and tricks for teaching “the little things?”

Favorite March Activities!

Since moving up to first grade, I have been absolutely horrible at taking pictures of the day to day action in my classroom!  I know I have also neglected this old blog too.  So sorry!  I wanted to share with you some of my favorite math and literacy centers from when I taught Kindergarten.   Some of these could also be used for small group RTI (or MTSS as we now call it in our district).  I structure my 1st grade math and literacy block much differently than when I taught Kindergarten and I will blog about that soon!
So here, are a few quick snaps of my faves from Kindergarten:
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I’ve also used gems, coins, and my IWB for this activity.  You can use whatever is easiest for you – this is a super simple center to put together.
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All of the above activities come from this unit:
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This was an activity that I had at my listening center.  The children kept a listening center journal with just plain white paper.  I would have a response prompt on a sticky label and they would write to that prompt. Easy and effective.
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Here is a super simple, directed drawing art project that we did.  We drew with black crayons or oil pastels and then watercolored.
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Some years we drew a little leprechaun to add to our pots of gold – I took a screen shot of my IWB page and you’ll get the gist of how that little green guy is drawn.
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One project that I started working on while I taught Kindergarten were these monthly word work packs.  My children LOVED working on these fun, colorful activities, and they all corresponded perfectly to what we were learning.  My ultimate goal is to finish these for each month, but man, life gets in the way! I have an almost 14 year old now, and a 9 year old and they sure are busy!
March Word Work
Here are some peeks of what is in the packet:




 
 
 

We also celebrated Reading Month and Dr. Seuss’ birthday.  We have done lots of fun activities, like wacky Wednesday, crazy sock day, green egg and ham day and so on!
    
    


Here are a couple of other resources that I always used in March!
Problem Solving Fun! March Edition  I Can Learn Can You!?  Whimsical Math and Literacy Centers
I hope you have a great March! Can’t believe how this year has flown by! 
If you are interested in a certain topic that I can blog about, leave a comment below.  I would love to share with you how things work in my classroom :)