Thursday, June 28, 2012

Getting myself together for first project

For some reason since we came back from our mini vacation my allergies are having a hard time adjusting, even with a daily allergy pill.  I was only out of state for 4 days, and 2 of them were spent driving.  We were not that far, only about 300 miles, so I don't get the big deal.  I have indoor allergies, and pet allergies; could my body have purged the guinea pig in just that short amount of time?  Have not done a lot of cleaning cause of the sneezing, but am getting other things done instead.  One of those things is deciding my first project to offer up here as My First Freebie!!

I decided I was going to make a cute fly freebie to offer to my followers/visitors and a full set to start up the TpT seller account.  The fly graphic goes with the "Swat the Numbers" post last month.  I want to make a few different flies, so they can be used not only for numbers, but for sight words too.  And maybe even word families?  Got lots of ideas running through my head.

My first hurdle is to find out what software people use to do this.  Being in the preschool world for so long has left me slightly technologically challenged.  Sure, I can navigate the social media with the best of them, can still type about 90-100 wpm if I want to type a paper into a word processor...but this graphic stuff is all new to me!

So here is my question for those of you already out there: what software package do you use to create your products, and what PDF creator do you use to save them? I have had bad experiences downloading Words or Works files from TpT; they never seem to look right.

So I would love to hear from my followers/visitors...what should I use?  I am so excited that I am getting a lot more page views each day - would love to hear from some of you stopping by!!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Busy Busy Busy

Been a busy last few days.  Last day of work. Not as tough as I thought it would be. Going to miss some really great ladies.  We left the next day for a quick trip to Lake George NY and am now home and ready to relax. After I do all the laundry, clean my house, plan my son's birthday party, clean up the mess of the last week of my own kid's school...oy.  I am planning on starting my summer "work" next week.  Gotta get my house in order first, so I can get to the rest.

Hope you are all enjoying summer!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Sniff sniff...

Tomorrow is my last day!  I was not sad at all, until one of my little buddies said something that just made me want to cry!

He is a new 4 yr old...or almost 4.  Not sure exactly when his birthday is.   He is VERY emotional in general, and still has tantrums and teary outbursts when he is upset.  So today was my last day with his class.  I told them all that when they came into my classroom next time, with their new classes, I would not be there.  I explained to them that I was "retiring," which means I am not going to be a teacher anymore.  I told them who their new teacher was going to be, how when then went to visit her class there would be someone else in her chair cause she would be sitting in mine. 

Well this little buddy, his name is Ramsey, quickly raised his hand and said "I am very sad you will not be my teacher anymore.  But when I get home I am going to cry, cause I know I am not supposed to cry at school.  But when I get home I am going to cry a lot.  Cause I am going to miss you."  Through the tears he was working so hard to hold back.

Oh my gosh I thought my heart was going to break!!!  I am getting teary just retyping it now.  He is a very sweet little boy, but honestly he is one of the kids that is so over the top in behaviors that should have been outgrown by now (it's more than the tantrums and crying I mentioned above) that makes me question my career choice. Kids like him who make me not want to do this anymore, yet how he can touch my heart so much! 

So that's it.  Last day of school tomorrow; we stay in our homerooms all day for parties and movies and fun.  Some teachers are moving to new rooms as of camp on Monday, so there will be a lot of room swapping to get a head start.  Teacher in service for them to finish...then Monday they start camp for the summer.

And I start thinking about if I want a new career.  Or do I just want to work with older kids?  Oh boy.  After I clean up and sort out the huge pile in the basement from seven years of teaching.  Maybe I'll take a before and after picture for you all! 

Write the Room!

For some fun our last week of school, I had my 3 oldest classes, 2 pre-K and the other Kindergarten (whom I guess are officially first graders since they graduated last week) "Write the Room."  The Kindergarten class completed an activity by Pam at Can Do Kinders called "Counting On Write the Room."  Very cute beach-themed write the room.

The Pre-K classes used Pocket Full of Kinders Counting Jars which can be found here: Counting Jars Freebie

Here are some of the kids in action.

All I can say is they had SOOOOOO much fun with this!!  Those of you who use these types of activities sure were right.  They really impressed me with their teamwork and kindness in helping each other.  I am so glad I ended their year with this activity.

Two more days left for me...and Happy First Day of Summer everyone!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Day for Me!

Can I just say I am so excited???!!!  I noticed one day that I had 31 page views. 31??  Oh My Gosh! I was jumping for joy that my little blog was being (hopefully) enjoyed by others.

I wondered where all of a sudden the traffic came from, and today I think I found out!  I had submitted an idea to the Math Carnival at Let's Play Math! and I got a link back!!  My first one...that I know of.

So head on over folks and join in the fun!

Let's Play Math!  

Math Carnival Links


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Kindergarten workstations

Crazy busy at work today and again tomorrow.  We have two school-wide concerts each year; one in December and one in June, along with our Kindergarten graduation.  I'd love to post a couple pictures but since I do not have permission to post any of the kids' pictures online I don't think I should.  I try very carefully to make sure the students are not identifiable in the pictures I do pose.  Let me just they are freaking adorable all dressed up!!

So earlier this week the Kindergarteners finished up their review workstations.  Here is what we did:

After completing our "Think Math" brain warm-up, our choices were

Domino Parking Lot

The kids loved trying to find the "domino bus" that fit in each spot.  They were so excited when they pulled out one they needed and disappointed when it had to "go back" if they filled that slot or if it was "too many" (I have dominos up to 9 in the box.)

This free activity came from Mrs. Williamson at
Welcome to Room 36

Since we worked hard twice coming up with a number story for our last two Think Math sessions, I gave them blank writing paper and asked them to come up with a number story of their own.  They asked another student for the "answer" then they created the question.  This class LOVES to draw.  So any opportunity I have to let them get creative, I do.

We got a little calculator practice in as well.  The CCSS are for the Kindergarteners to be fluent in their facts up to 5, and even though my district has not been required to implement them fully yet I wanted these students to head into first grade knowing them anyway...just in case they will be expected to meet the first grade expectations next year. I do not know exactly when the public schools will start their new math, but I would expect it to have to be soon!

So what the students had waiting for them here was a tray of calculators, pencils, and a web with the numeral 5 in the center.  They had to think of a fact that they think adds (or subtracts, I added that to make it more interesting) to 5.  They had to check their work on the calculator and if they were correct, they wrote it anywhere on the web.  I had some real creative thinkers...some of the kids were using 2 digit numbers!  They used their counting by 5s knowledge to subtract bigger numbers.  I was so proud of them! Not the original intent of the activity, but they get points for creativity. This workstation was meant to be individual, but I noticed some worked together when they got stumped.

A "May Do" was practicing making patterns on the pocket chart with some cute pictures I printed out from
This is a pay for membership site but luckily me school has paid for one!  It has some great activities for the preschool/pre-K ages.  I use some of the support materials, like these adorable cats and dogs with my Kindergarten classes.

So that's it for today.  The other time with this class we played BINGO where they each got a prize and a little "good luck" present from me.  I'll still see them for 2 more hours before my last day but they will just play and have fun those days.

Now for that well-earned glass of wine after the craziness of concert day #1.  Cheers!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bye bye Kindergarteners!

May 30th I posted about my Kindergarteners workstations.  My Kindergarteners graduate this week; so our last few classes have been spent in review workstations.

This is what our "work chart" looks like: 

By this point in the year, most of my supplies are gone, so if I have sentence strips left I would have remade the title to read "What are we reviewing today?"

We start by warming up our brain. This chart says "Race to 100."  We have been working on writing numerals to 100. Each month we get 1 minute to go as far as we can, racing against ourselves to do better than the month before.  This was the last race of the year.  This fabulous (and free!) activity came from: Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business via TpT. 

Race to 100 Booklet  I'm sorry I do not have a picture of the kids completing it. :(

Other brain warm ups include doing the "Macarena Math" song, Exercise Counitng by 1s, or one of the other songs my kids love.  One of their new favorites is "Think Math" from Mrs. Jump at Mrs. Jump's Class.  If you scroll down almost half way you'll see her original idea.  Sorry my pictures did not come out too good!  My markers were not as dark as I thought.  The students are provided with the "answer" and then THEY have to come up with the questions!  How fun is that? They LOVED this as much as Mrs. Jump's class did. 

We worked together to write the number story on the bottom. The picture on the right I had to guide them a little bit more than I was hoping. If you can read it you can tell at the point I intervened. :)

Next we move onto our MUST DO group.  The students MUST visit the workstations listed during the time period.  The colors refer to the trays the work is in, and if there is a maximum number of students allowed in a workstation the number is there.  I usually have 3 activities; one that challenges, one that is "fun" and one that is creative.  Sometimes there is a picture of a teacher and that means they come visit me.

There is a section of MAY DOs, choices they have if they finish the MUST DOs or if there is no room at one of those stations.  It try very hard not to have too many stations with number restrictions; I only have the students for a small amount of time and I want to make sure they get to everything I want them to. 

Of course there is ALWAYS the one student who gets through everything quickly, so to avoid the "now what?" there is a line on the chart for that too.  This way they do not need to interrupt me for any reason. 

Here is another chart:

This one does not have the mini-lesson line, since there was nothing for us to do but review what each station was about.

During the a lesson day, there will also be a "Recap Meeting" line.  We get back together at the end of the class to review the concept, answer any questions the students may have, discuss homework, and talk about what is coming up next.

Next time I will post some pictures of the students in their small groups.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Swat those numbers!

This week I spent a lot of time cleaning out my classroom laptop.  I wanted to make sure the new teacher would be able to make sense of the massive amounts of information, worksheets, photos, and other assorted stuff I have gathered over the years.  I had so much fun going through the pictures, looking at all the great activities I did in previous years that somehow I forgot about this year!  I found myself wishing I had a couple more weeks so I could do them one more time.  Oh well; maybe the new teacher will see them and continue on.

Here is one of my favorite activities: number swatting!

Now it's hard to see in the pictures because it is white, but the students are holding a flyswatter.  I started with a red one, but after all the swatting it broke after 2 days, and this was the only replacement I could find. 

In the top picture, the student is swatting on my large number posters.  I use these for the younger students and at the beginning of the year when we are starting to learn to recognize numerals.  The "All About" posters are pretty old; if I was staying another year I would have remade them, including ten frames.

In this picture, the student is swatting a fly with a numeral written on it's belly.  These are used for the older classes, and later in the year.  The younger students don't have the eye-hand coordination to hit the fly they are aiming for.  This is a four year old and it's the first time we are using the flies, so I only have a few on the wall.  This class could recognize their teens also, so the next time I did the activity I added the teens.  Then I would let the students have the flyswatter every now and then as a choice during free exploration time.

I do not know where I originally found the pattern, I am guessing the pattern came from a Mailbox Magazine somewhere.  I have been frantically looking through my curriculum books and files for the original "fly" to leave for my replacement.  A toddler class came a-visiting a few weeks ago, and one of the little darlings decided to rip the #8 fly off the wall, which ended up tearing it where the staples were.  So the new teacher is missing a fly. :(  Hopefully I will find it soon.

My young students love every opportunity to get some of their physical energies out.  It helps my kinesthetic learners as well as my visual learners.  The All About posters give the students clues to the students struggling with their numeral recognition, since they offer many different ways of figuring out what number the poster is about.  Some of the pictures refer to books we read about the number, there are hands with "that many" fingers, there is a fish tank where they can count the fish, along with other clues.  I also have them color coded for even and odd.  The activity can be whole group, small group, or even partners.  Great for classrooms that do not have a lot of room for games.

Update: my first freebie will be a cute little fly for you to make your own number flies!!  Coming soon for purchase on TpT, is a full set of colored flies in numbers, letters, and word families. Keep watching for the release!!!

Updated update: Products are now available!  Visit my TpT store here for your freebie & for purchase flies!   My Store!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

10 Days Left of School!

10 more days left of school! I can't believe it!!  I started counting down at 93...our Kindergarten & pre-K classes counted up to the 100th day of school, so I thought it would be fun to count how many days were left.  Since we are a full day school, we go year-round.  No spring breaks, etc, so our school year is longer than in the public schools.  Not sure how many we had total, but when I decided to do this there was 93 left.  It was a fun experience for the Kindergarten class to count backwards from such a high number.  Really helped their understanding of "one less" and the number pattern.

Here is my "counting" area of the wall.  I obviously did not take the picture today, but 10 days ago.  I like having all my counting related concepts near each other on the wall.  Not sure if you can see it well in the picture but I stuck a little "left" in the Day of School banner.  I know it should say "days" of school, but it's all about the fun of counting.  The literacy room can be perfect. :)

If you are wondering what is above the number grid, those are caterpillar body parts.  My classroom is a homeroom to a pre-K class.  Their caregiver has a caterpillar growing around the room.  Each body part is something nice that a student in her class was caught doing.  The kids love this!!  There will be a beautiful butterfly once the students make it to the last wall.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Literature-Based Activity

I love using literature to teach both math & science.  When I get to posting science lessons this summer you will see that.  I have an entire preschool science curriculum based on the Magic School Bus.  I can't wait to put all that together for you!

But in the meantime, this week my preschool classes are doing an activity based off of this book:

This story is so cute I can't even tell you.  "Dog" is a white puppy with a black spot on his left ear.  As he goes throughout his day he has some mishaps which, by the end of the day, looks like this:

We start by reading the story as part of circle time.  We talked about how poor Dog gets so messy, mostly not of his own fault, and how that happens to us too some times.  The afternoon classes were able to show me "spots" they had on their clothes from earlier activities.

Afterwards, we go to the tables where each child gets a copy of Dog (I traced from book and enlarged) and some spots.  I have a circle punch that I use to make the spots.  We then re-read the story and attach Dog's spots.  The youngest kids can all apply their own glue and love looking for the right color.  I am fortunate that we have enough help that I have an adult with every 6 kids for the 2 yr olds so they can each monitor a table to offer help where needed.

Here is a group of 4 year olds working on their Dogs:

As you can see, I have the spots lumped in a tray they can dig through.  The younger classes are given a little more assistance with the spots.

When reviewing the picture at the end of the project, we count the spots to practice one-to-one correspondence and rational counting, but also ordinal numbers as we count which spot he got first, second, third, etc.

I am looking forward to remaking this page and offering it up as a freebie...when I learn how to. :(