Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Hey friends! I know it is back to school time for many of you. I still have another week and am enjoying my last few days at home. One of my favorite first week activities always includes the story Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. 
It's a great introduction to letters and the students love the parts of the story with predictable text. After reading the book, I usually do a coconut science experiment. I have students predict whether they think the coconut will sink or float and we graph our results. I try to do this on our staggered enrollment days, so it's more manageable and I can really focus on my students who need help. 
At the beginning of each year, I make a bajillion labels. I print an entire page of labels for each student and any time I need to label something (a folder, school supplies, notebook, etc.) I just grab the students' label sheet, peel off, and viola! I also use the labels for graphing, too. Like - shown above! ;-) It's very helpful and students just stick their label under their correct prediction. 
After we make our prediction, we conduct our experiment! I always pass around the coconut, first, and let students touch it, smell it, shake it, etc. Most of them have never held a coconut! They are amazed. 
Once we figure out the coconut will float, we graph and analyze our results. A prediction sheet and graphing sheet are included in my Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Close Read (co authored by Jennifer Horner and myself)!
We, then, spend lots of time diving into the book and reading closely. Students work together to figure out vocabulary, answer questions, talk with partners, retell the story, etc. All of this (of course) is very basic and introductory because it's at the beginning of the year.
The close reads Jennifer and I have laid out are fool proof. They follow an EASY 5 day lesson plan format and each day really builds upon the next. If you are struggling to get your students to stop, slow down, and read - our close reads are for you! All of our activities have students dive into the text and dig deeper. And, what a better way to introduce those strategies than in the beginning of the year. If you start the year out teaching these concepts, students will quickly get the hang of it and you'll build a classroom of reading investigators. If you like what you see - for a limited time - I am offering this unit at HALF off!!! Grab it here, while you can. 
One of my other favorite activities that accompanies this book, is included in my classroom book unit. It's a Chicka Chicka page! Students write their name, glue a picture of themselves, and add the letters of their name going up the coconut tree. I bind all of the pages into a book and place it in our classroom library for all to enjoy. You can check that unit out here. What books do you enjoy reading to your students at the beginning of the year? Please share. Happy hump day!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

TpT Back to School SALE and some of my Favorite Resources/Freebies!

Happy Sunday!! It's the most exciting time of the year!! It's time for Teachers Pay Teachers annual Back to School Sale. The sale will be up and running tomorrow and last through Tuesday. Everything in my store is 20% off and when you enter the code BESTYEAR at checkout, you'll save an extra 8%. 
You can visit my store by clicking here. Before I run and fill up my shopping cart, I wanted to share with you a few of my favorite Back to School Resources! These products are sure to get your year off on the right foot and have been teacher tested and student approved. 
You can check out my Back to School Resources here. These have all been successful in my classroom and I use them every year. You can read more about The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School here and my Monthly Family Projects here - - two of my best sellers!!
You can check out all of my co authored Close Reads here. If you are struggling to get your students to slow down and reflect as they read, these Close Reading units are for YOU! They are the perfect book companion and follow a 5 day lesson plan where everything is laid out, step - by - step. Super easy to follow along with and very creative!! This can serve as your whole group reading lesson or can be paired with a reading series you currently use. Jennifer Horner and I are certain these Close Reads will make your students become better readers and dig deeper in the text. 
And...just because I love my are a few Back to School Freebies for you. All of these products have been updated for the 2016-2017 school year and can be found under my Freebies tab, above. Check them out and Happy Shopping!!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School

Well, I'm back at it with a product update and just in time for Back to School! This unit is one of my absolute FAVORITES and has been a best seller for me. 
Each year, I start off by reading The Gingerbread Man Loose in the School, by Laura Murray. This book puts a twist on the traditional Gingerbread Man and is a great introductory to school. When a class leaves for recess, their just-baked Gingerbread Man is left behind. But he's a smart cookie and heads out to find them. He'll run, slide, skip, and (after a mishap with a soccer ball) limp as fast as he can because: "I can catch them! I'm their Gingerbread Man! With help from the gym teacher, the nurse, the art teacher and even the principal, a deliciously sweet ending is served up for both the Gingerbread Man and the children who made him. It's a must read! Anyways - when I finish, I tell my class that the gingerbread man is loose in the school and we must find him. I leave clues around the school that take my new students on a "tour."
They meet the librarian...
The art teacher....and most of the faculty/staff. When the "tour" is finished, my students have learned all about their new school and really have gotten acquainted with where everything is. The last clue leads them back to the classroom for a treat. Students are left a coloring page and a gingerbread cookie of their own to enjoy! This resource is packed full of coloring pages, scissor practice, graphing, retelling bag and pieces, a Gingerbread Man glyph, classroom book, vocabulary, and MORE. 
This is such a wonderful way to start the year off and it always helps my students get acquainted with their new school! You can pick all of these activities up and MORE in my Gingerbread Man unit
Run, run, as fast as you can to my TpT store and grab it up in time for Back to School. Do you have a sweet way of starting off the year? If so, please share. I'd love to hear!!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Monthly Family Projects

Hey you guys! I am back and really wanting to get in a routine <again> of blogging regularly. I've missed it so much, but time just hasn't allowed. I've worked all summer to update a ton of my TpT products. Some were super embarrassing and were created in 2012 and just, desperately, needed a facelift. One of my favorite products (and one of my best sellers) was redone a couple weeks ago. It's my Monthly Family Projects, co authored by Katie Mense and I. I'm sure most of you know Katie...she is a blogger at Little Kinder Warriors. 
Monthly Family Projects are a great way to make that home connection. I send the projects home at the beginning of each month and display them in my classroom or hallway. In the picture above, you can see a glimpse at October, December, February, and March's projects. I always have a GREAT response each month and allow my students to share. 
In case you were wondering what some other months looked is August. August's project is an All About Me page. Students create a page that tells about THEM and we place it in a classroom book for all to enjoy. My classroom books are always put in my classroom library and students check out, take home, and share with family. This one is a FAVORITE!! You can check out my classroom book units here.
Here is a glimpse at November. I usually do a pretty embarrassing hallway displays each month or season, so I try to incorporate some of my family projects into the decor. While the hallways display is time consuming, the students and faculty/staff enjoy it! November is called "Shake your Tail Feather" and students decorate a turkey feather to add to our naked turkey. I send home a posterboard turkey feather, along with instructions (included in unit) and students decorate their feather however they wish! I have had students use feathers, glitter, noodles, stickers, pipe cleaners, pictures of things they are thankful for, etc. Every feather is unique - just like my students - and they add so much to our turkeys and hallway display. 
Here's a sneak peek of all that's included. 11 months, 60+ pages, created by 2 Kindergarten teachers with different curriculum, and lots of variation!! For a limited time only, this updated product is 20% off. Grab it before your school year starts. Happy Monday!