Kissing Hand FREEBIE!

Hi there friends!  I know you are all busy bees getting ready for school to start.  So this is just a little freebie for you to make life easier if you are starting school next week.  This is a little response page for the story The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn that I made for my class.  Kiddos will write about how they felt on the first day of school.  I usually do this activity on day two.   Students will write their name and then a word or words for how they were feeling.  With my kindergarten students, most can write their name, so they do that independently.  I help with the feeling word by writing it in highlighter and the students trace on the letters to write it.  For the illustration, you can have the kiddos draw themselves on the first day.  You can also have them trace their hands and then sponge paint a heart in the center of the hand.  They come out very sweet and I have found this activity is just right for little kinder students.  For first graders the entire thing could be done independently.  Anyhow, hope you enjoy!  There are two different borders because I couldn't decide which one I liked better.  Just click on either image to get both of them!

This is what the other border looks like:

I can tell school is about to start because I am waking up before my alarm with the Aaahhhh!!!  I need to do that... feeling.  I placed a last minute order for playground balls this morning before I started my other activities.  I already had a weird back to school dream in July, so maybe I won't have any others this year.  For some reason, it seems hard to believe school is already here.  Summer went by extra fast this year.  But, sharing my days with those sweet little students will fill my heart and I will not be wishing for the lazy days of summer.  OK, I am off to hit the plan book!

Best wishes for a smooth beginning of the school year to teachers, parents and students!
Happy Teaching!

Ask for what you want!

This post is about asking for help in your classroom.  I have learned over the years that most parents want to help out.  If they can they will.  If they can't they won't.  But if you don't ask, they will not know you need anything.  So, ask for what you want!   Here are two ways I ask for help in my classroom throughout the year:

Sorry this photo isn't great.   This is one way I ask for classroom supplies as needs come up during the school year.  I call the folks helping out "classroom supply fairies".  This note explains that if they see a sticky note and can donate that item, take the sticky and return the item to school.  I post mine in the front door window of the classroom so they are easy to see.   If you are asking for something for a planned project be sure to put a due date on the sticky note.  Here is one for you if you want to do this in your classroom:

It is simple, but it gets the message across.  And, this system works.  Just click on the image above to go get yours.  Graphics for the classroom supply fairies poster provided by Scrappin Doodles lic#116345.

I also ask for volunteers to help out in my kindergarten classroom.  Parent volunteers are an important part of my center time.  It makes my curriculum much more enriching for students and most parents enjoy being a part of their child's school experience.  I updated my volunteer sign up sheets this year.  So, if you want to use them here are some for you, just click on any of the images below to get all three pages:

These are mine outside my classroom just waiting for eager volunteers.  Some years I don't get all my special jobs filled, but it is OK.   We always do just fine.  The pink sticky notes are just a little job description so people know what the job entails. Sorry the photo isn't great.  But you get the idea.

I am so incredibly grateful for the AMAZING parent support at my school.  It is a part of our school culture.  Parents know they are valued in the classroom because I keep them busy with prep projects and teaching students!  If you don't have a culture of parent support at your school, give it a try.  If you ask, you just might get some help.  One volunteer is better than none.  Best of luck!

Lastly, a little shout out to Krista Wallden for the adorable chalkboard clip art I used in the collage at the top of the post.  It was FREE on TPT.  Go check out her store, she has great stuff at great prices! Krista Wallden on TPT

Happy teaching!

Word Wall

 This post is really about my word wall, but most of my classroom still looks like this:

 Does your classroom have a huge explosion each year before you start and then it gets put back together?  Seems like that happens a lot to me.  This year it especially needed to happen.  I have the luxury of working in a classroom that is not used during the summer, so I can leave my bulletin boards up each year.  Boy, I feel so lucky about that.  But is was sure time for a re-model!

I am pretty happy with how my new word wall came out.   It is on a small standing divider next to the table where sight word instruction, word wall games,  and most writing happens in the classroom. 

I cut and glued these at home one night while watching one of my guilty pleasure shows, What Not to Wear.  I have to say I am so sad that this is the last season.

This is for a kindergarten classroom, so there are not as many words as for a first grade class.  Thankfully it all works in my room like this.    Ii doesn't quite have enough space, but it still works.  Oh well!  I like the colors and the black background.

This is the part I like best about my word wall.  It is at student height and the words are attached using velcro, so it is interactive for the kiddos. If a child needs to go get a word off the wall when writing, he/she can grab it and bring it back to his/her seat.  I also have printed versions of the word wall at the table for students to use when writing.  That is a super helpful tool!

Where did I get my sight word cards?  I made a big comprehensive sight word set filled with two sets of cards and lots of fun games and activities for word work.  This set really helps my students with sight word fluency.  You can check it out in my TpT shop right here: Sight Word Super Set #1  You can also click on the image below.

I managed to get a few other things done last week as well.  This is my daily calendar set up and a peek at my new alphabet.  I am in love with the Boho Birds borders and other coordinating items I got for my room this year.  Too cute, right?  Birds for Mrs. Byrd's class:)  My calendar  is very simple, but I often add little mini lessons in math to go along with it, like the equations of the day.  You can see that on this post: Mrs Byrd's Learning Tree: Math Fluency  I really like how the numbers also have a transparent color and shape pattern each month that I can design with a variety of choices.

OK, I am off to get a few more things done.
Happy teaching!

Back to School Sale!

Hey there, just wanted to let you know that there is a BIG sale going on at Teacher's Notebook.  I have everything in my store on sale for 20% off.  Most teacher stores are having sales, so it is a great time to shop for a few things to make your life easier this year.

TN is also doing something new, Bundles!  They have lots of great products bundled together at HUGE discounts.  I feel so lucky to have a couple of my products included!  (My products are in bundle #5)  So, click on the Teachers Notebook image below to go find some great deals.

Happy shopping and happy teaching!

Bonny Doon Art Show

Better late than never!  I feel awful that I took some time off from blogging without doing this cool post about the Bonny Doon Art Show.  I needed some serious rest and relaxation this summer!  So, please accept my heartfelt apology for such a huge gap between posts and no notice about time off.  I freshened up the blog a bit and am now getting ready to hit the ground running for the school year! 

These are some photos from a spectacular art show at Bony Doon School.  The staff planned a theme for each month of the year (landscapes, abstract, still life, etc.) and each classroom did art projects related to the theme.  Each student then chose his or her personal best items to include in the show.  It was like walking through an incredible gallery and these photos do not fully capture how wonderful it all was.  Kudos to all the teachers and staff who worked so hard to make it possible!  It sure was a proud moment for the school.

These are just a few of the art pieces that grabbed my eye before my camera ran out of batteries.....

I tried to focus on art that was made by younger students.  Isn't it inspiring?  Perfect to fuel our creative juices for the new school year. 

Just one little comment about art:  As we all make room for new things with the Common Core State Standards, don't forget that we want kids to be creative thinkers and problem solvers.  Art is a fantastic way to give students practice with both!  Art gives students an opportunity to explore materials, as well as new forms of communication and expression.  It also gives students opportunities to persevere, often when frustrated or stuck!  So, please remember that art will continue to be important for students to help prepare them for a successful future.  Ok, maybe that was more than one little comment.  I'll stop now.

Hope you all had a beautiful summer.
Happy teaching!

Miss C's Class

I went to visit my friend Kristie today.  She is a Kindergarten teacher at Bonny Doon Elementary school.  It is one of my "sister" schools in the county.   It is a small single school AND district,  just like mine.  Because I don't have a group of fellow kindergarten teachers at my school, it is very important for teachers at our small schools to reach out and connect.  So, I am very grateful that my administrator gave me a day to go observe Kristie and learn from all her wonderful ideas. Yea!
I was so impressed by the many great things going on in her class!  I just had to share some of them on the blog and also process what I saw so I can incorporate it all into my own teaching.

There were some great, things in the room environment that I just loved!  The first thing I noticed was this COOL tree in the middle of the room.  I think it is such a fun idea! 

I also loved her cutie patootie number line.  A big theme for the year is the butterfly life cycle.  It is a metaphor for the kids and the changes through the year in the classroom.  She calls her kiddos caterpillars.  They will soon turn into butterflies at the end of the year. 

And this sun on the back wall.  Yes, shine, little caterpillars.  Shine bright every day at school!  (and you too, Miss C!)

And, you just have to love this built in bench in a nook perfect for gathering the group.  She has books, anchor charts, and other goodies posted around the space.  It is the heart of the classroom.
LOVE it!

I was so glad I got to see Kristie's morning centers in action.  They had three activities and then another special activity for the TK kiddos.  (for those of you reading not from California, TK stands for transitional kindergarten.  These are pre-kinder kids that are just not quite old enough for kinder, or those needing more time to mature, that are receiving a pre-school curriculum in a kindergarten class.  Yes, you heard right.  She is teaching a double grade with pre-school and kinder students!)

I love her anchor chart on behavior expectations for centers...

and her centers chart, too.  She changes the top three cards when it is time to switch centers.  Then the little caterpillars come look to see where they each need to go. 

They had a sight word job with the instructional aide,  a writing activity with Miss C, and Life lab.  For those of you not familiar with the life lab program, it is a garden based environmental education curriculum that was developed at UC Santa Cruz.  If you want to know more, you can check it out here:  Kristie's school had a life lab teacher to do the center outside with the kids. Each center lasted for about 30 minutes.   These are some shots of the sweet learning garden at Bonny Doon:

At the sight word table, they were doing a trash or treasure word sort with sight words(treasure) and nonsense words(trash).  Kids had to read the word on the paper and decide which it was, and record it correctly on their paper.  If it was trash it went into a little trash bin.  FUN!  I saw this idea on Pinterest.  I bet Kristie did too.  TK kids had another sight word activity:  building words with linker cubes.  I think the kinder kids got to do this too, when they were done with the sorting.

The TK kiddos also had another task to do after building the words- a letter/sound match activity.

The two boys that I worked with for a bit, both seemed like they had some knowledge of the sight words AND knew lots of sounds.  They are ready for Kindergarten next year!

Kristie's writing center was great!  The kids have been studying South America, and the rain forest.  Today they were writing about the sloth:

They developed the sentences as a group.  Miss C modeled the correct writing on the board. Then, students wrote them in the book they were making.  Next,  Miss C took the kiddos through a step by step drawing of a cool sloth (or they could draw their own version if they liked).   TK kids had a different book, and just copied the word sloth under the picture space.  I liked this because the group had a good discussion about the main idea, with a fact, and added more detail.  It is explicit instruction to help expand their thinking and writing.  And, for those of you who use Step Up to Writing in your school, you will notice the colors are aligned. Great!

She also had a great writers anchor chart with a similar idea on expanding sentences.

For math, later in the day, the little caterpillars did some Marcy Cook tile boards.  I helped out, so I didn't take pictures.  If you don't use Marcy Cook math materials in your classroom, you really should check them out.  If you ever get a chance to go to a training with her, GO!  You can check out the materials here:

As I was wandering around Kristie's HUGE classroom, I also noticed so many signs of creative activities happening.

And other evidence of powerful teaching and learning!

The thing that I think Kristie has done an exceptional job with is social-emotional development and behavior expectations for students at school.  I saw so many signs that respect, kindness, and good manners are the norm.   Reminders for all these are woven throughout the day and the year.  She was ever vigilant, modeling perfect behavior, gently reminding, and holding expectations high for appropriate behavior at all times from students.  What a lovely community of young learners I saw today!  They were polite, respectful, and on, what I would consider, best behavior ALL day.  This is no doubt due to Kristie's incredible work all year long.  At this time of year, when most classrooms are getting loud and bouncy, the kids in Miss C's class were doing business as usual and it was BEAUTIFUL!

Some examples of the great things I saw:

And a voice meter (that's what I call the one in my classroom):

And this is something that I really liked a lot.  These tally marks are a record of all the times the little caterpillars give Miss C "goosebumps" for their good behavior - kindness, great transitions, whatever.  But this is the best part- there is NO REWARD!!!!!!  They are just doing it to feel good about themselves, and receive the intrinsic motivation they should for behaving well.   (And learn days of the week, tally marks, and practice counting by 5s as well.)  This is genius!  Kudos, Kristie!

What a wonderful day of learning for teachers (me!) and students at Bonny Doon!  This has become a huge post, so I will stop here.   But, be on the lookout for my next post about the student art show I got to see later in the day.  It was spectacular!  I will do that post soon.  There are many more photos to edit...

Thank you to my friend, Kristie Carruthers, and Stephanie Siddens, principal of Bonny Doon School!  You made me feel so welcome and I appreciate your time with me today.  You must be very proud of the wonderful school community you have.

Happy Teaching!