Saturday, March 18, 2017

The Water Cycle

We've started learning The Water Cycle song in our class, and as usual- it's a favorite! Every year, without fail, it's a favorite.  Dr. Jean and I made a packet all about The Water Cycle, Water, and Clouds!

Here is the Prezi that is included with the packet. This Prezi includes The Water Cycle song by Steve Songs.  We also love singing  Dr. Jean's The Water Cycle song, (the download is included in the packet)- and WOW- do my kids know all about the water cycle!

Here is my class singing the song after only one week!

I taught my kids The Water Cycle song in sign language a couple years ago. They did a fabulous job!  
No, I don't know sign language.  BUT- that didn't stop me.  Signing Savvy became my best friend because I figured out the individual words to the song, and put them all together.

We  practiced in line before we left the classroom. I would say, "Show me 'water.'  Show me 'cloud.' Show me 'hurricane.'" (It's  a great way to have them quiet down, too!)

Here are some of the signs that I taught them that we use in the song:  water, water cycle, around, cloud, puddle, rain, up/down, sky, ocean, ground, river, glass, horse, Oh no, forgot, person, well deep down, blanket, fog, warm/cold, trouble, storm, bad, see, look out, get out, grab, son, daughter, crash, boom, uncle, hurricane, hiding, garbage can.   Now, for words like "Some clouds look like cauliflower- that's cumulous."  I just had the children make a "c" in sign language for both, because I wasn't going to have them start spelling words like that!  For the most part, it was so easy and made sense to the children.  They loved it.  I did teach them to spell "Dan" in sign language because there is a silly part they love with Uncle Dan.  

Here are some great books to go with this unit:

In our packet, we have included our favorite activities.
After we learn the songs and read stories about the water cycle, we make an interactive writing poster including the different parts of the water cycle.  We break the words down into syllables, clap the syllables, and then hear the sounds in each to write the words.  The children are always amazed that they can actually WRITE these grown up, long words.  I always quickly explain "tion" to the kids- and show them how that is at the end of each of our four words.  I don't expect them to know that, or even remember it, but it's amazing how some of the children pick that up and will try it in their own writing.                        

Then, each child writes the words on his/her own paper!

We do experiments for each part of the water cycle.  The experiments are also included in the packet.


Another favorite part of the unit is our cloud study.  We learn all about the different types and names of clouds, and then the children make their own to take home.
(Sometimes I like to use wax paper for the stratus clouds. This is gray paper.)

We talk about how important water is in our lives and different ways we use it everyday.
 We "jrink" it... :)  

Later, just to tie in the water theme, I do a  quick whole group math assessment using raindrops for my word problems.  When I do a quick assessment, whole group or small group, it is really easy to have the children prepare their papers themselves.  I have them fold a "hotdog" fold ( the long way):

Then a "hamburger" fold (the short way):

Then, they each have a sheet ready with 4 sections on front and back so that we can do 8 quick questions.

We do the first addition and subtraction problem together as I model it.  I want them to get very used to showing their work and then writing the number sentence.

My question was, "Two raindrops fell on my umbrella.  Then, three more fell on it.  How many raindrops fell all together? "  We review how hearing "more" and "all together" tell us we will be adding.
"Four raindrops were playing in a cloud. One raindrop fell out of the cloud.  How many were left in the cloud?"  We talk about how when one goes away and we have how many left, we will subtract.

I usually ask the children two more questions like that to complete without my help.  On the back I may have them practice writing their numbers to 20, draw shapes I tell them to draw, write what number comes before or after a number I say...or maybe I will have one side be math questions and the other be writing sight words or answering a question in a complete sentence. It is a great way to do a quick assessment for the day.

It is great to use raindrops for word problems, because the children can draw them easily.  I try to always use something that can be quickly drawn as a circle, stick, or rectangle.  We do lots of problems about balls, cookies, pencils, crayons, presents, bricks...  If I use something like, "Two birds were on a branch. Three birds landed on the branch with them.  How many birds are there altogether?" I will have some children drawing one bird for five minutes no matter how many times I say, "Just draw quickly!" So I stick with basic shapes for my word problems. 

I have so many glass stones, that I can also let the children use them as counters for math problems, which is always fun.  They work great for ten frames.

This paper I use for a morning work activity to quickly assess writing numbers to 20.

By the way, I had to look up altogether vs. all together. That always gets me.  Here is what I found, just fyi for a bonus:

altogether = in total

all together = every one gathered in one place

You probably never have that problem. And I probably still will have that problem, even though I just looked it up.  Hmmm.  

I hope you love this packet as much as we loved putting it together. It's perfect for spring and Earth Day!
Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, March 17, 2017

We Are Growing!

I wanted to share this book I just got at our book fair!  It's called We Are Growing, by Laurie Keller, and...  I cannot wait to use it.  I am sharing it with you before I even do anything with it, in case you want to get your own and have fun with it.  Maybe you already know about it, and I've been missing out.  Anyway- here it is!

Image result for we are growing book

I was so sad when the Piggie and Elephant series ended.  So sad... but I knew something else wonderful would be coming along, and it has!

In this story, Walt and his blades of grass friends are all excited to be growing.  As they grow, they each have their own personality and brag about why they are the most special.  "I am the CURLIEST!" I am the SILLIEST!"  Every blade is the something-est... except Walt.  He isn't the tallest, the curliest, or the silliest.  Along comes a BIG surprise that knocks everybody down (in more ways than one) and Walt discovers something special-est about himself that is all his own.

Here is a video reading of the story so you can see what it's all about:
Every year I have the children grow their grass hair people.  We haven't started ours yet because we just finished growing our beanstalks, but these are coming soon...

This was one from a few years ago.  I buy tiny ponytail holders and little plastic barrettes.  The kids love putting them in the hair- and... giving haircuts!

How perfect will this new book be to introduce this activity?

It's a great character education story, too. Everyone has special qualities.  We can talk about how everyone has LOTS of special gifts, and just because one person is good at something, that doesn't mean someone else can't be good at that, too!  We don't have the be the -est of anything!  We can have fun learning and doing lots of different things.

Once their Hairy Person grows, I'm going to have the children think of something they think they do the BEST.   Maybe they are the fastEST or the bravEST of the happiEST or the cleanEST or the friendliEST or the nicEST or the neatEST or the funniEST.  I am going to have them write a story all about them as the Hairy Person, and what they are the best at and WHY.   "I am the neatEST, because  I always help clean up my room before I go to bed."  "I am the funniEST, because  I can always make my baby sister laugh when I spin around and fall down."  This is another way to use that special word 'because,' too!

That's my plan for writing.

THEN-  for a quick math break, we'll go outside and collect dandelions.  The  children love to pick dandelions, so we turn it into class contest to see how many we can pick, working together.  When each child gets a group of ten, they put it down on the ground in one group.  We keep picking and making groups of ten.  At the end of a set time (I usually say 5 minutes because it's amazing how many we get in a short time!) we count by tens to see  how many we pick.

Here is one tip to consider... One year, I did this on Spring Picture Day.  One of my boys was wearing a white shirt, that turned out to be more of a "dandelion yellow" in his picture... oops.  Don't do this on picture day.

I hope you have fun with this new book!  I can't wait...

Thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Get Lucky with ESGI!

Are you feeling lucky? Because it's your lucky day!

I've written many times about the benefits of and my love for ESGI as an assessment tool that I use in my classroom.  Not only is it such a time saver and easy-to-use assessment tool that gives me TONS of information at my fingertips, graphed any way I could want, and easy to use and access wherever I am- WITHOUT fumbling through paper after paper-  but it also provides me with so many extras that just plain help me out in my daily teaching.  It's obvious that this program was created by a teacher who GETS IT. (Thank you, Greg Gorman!)  ESGI has really changed my life in the classroom. I posted ALL about the benefits, bells and whistles, and some examples of what ESGI offers HERE.

So many assessment tools were created by software engineers who understand software.  ESGI was created by a TEACHER who understands both software AND what educators want.  There is no comparison to any other assessment program.

If you are a teacher who does not yet use ESGI for our one on one assessments, ESGI is offering some exiting big deals from now until April 10th!

First,  if you sign up for a 60 day trial before April 10, ESGI will extend the trial so you have 5 months free instead of only the usual 60 days.  The trial will go through through August 31! Just use this special code to enter:

Also, you will be entered to win the Pot of Gold MYSTERY Prize which will be announced on April 11th!  None of us know what the mystery prize will be, but... knowing ESGI, it will be something awesome!

This special promo code also lets you take $40 off the price for the first year, so in the fall after this free promo, you will be paying $159 a year for the subscription.  If your district purchases the program for you, they can also receive the discount if they use the code!  If your team doesn't use ESGI yet, it's a great time for all of you to try it and see what you think.  The great part about an entire grade level using ESGI is that you can easily compare data for all students!  This is perfect for helping to determine RTI and AIS groups, and SO many other things- and it's impressive to show administrators all this organized, easy to read data.

This time of year, my favorite parts of ESGI are our sight word assessment and the ability to create flash cards for each student to reinforce the words they miss.  I keep a set of flashcards at school to use for RTI, and I send home a packet of words each week for students to practice at home.   It's so easy for me, because I just have to hit "print" and the professional looking flashcards are printed (with each child's name on top- so they don't even get mixed up!)
I can also print out a parent letter for each student which explains exactly what each child needs to work on at home.  

Our school doesn't send homework in kindergarten.  We send books to read each night, but not paper/pencil  homework.   I send the flashcards on Friday along with some games or ideas to do with the flashcards so it's fun for families.  For example, set a timer and see how many words the child can get in a set time.  Time the child to see how quickly he can read the cards, then, do this again and try to beat that time!  (They love contests!),  Keep piles of "yes" and "no" words.  See if the child can get all the words in the "yes" pile!  Hide the cards around the house and have the child find each card, then read them to you (or write them ) as she finds them.   Put one word on each stair and have the child read each stair as they climb to the top.   There are so many fun ways to play with flashcards!

My other favorite this time of  year is the name tag generator. The students are now working on first and last names, so I make several sets of names for practice. I use them for seating, but also for the children to make rainbow names, find sight words or chunks in their names, and as a matching game with pictures. 
(This is a sample of the first names on Table Name Plates.)

There are SO MANY other benefits EGSI offers.  We all need to show more and more data, it seems, and ESGI makes it so easy to do!  Not only easy- but useful!  Sometimes it seems we collect data for the sake of collecting data- but the information I collect on ESGI is what I use to guide my instruction with each individual student each day.

ESGI has a great explanatory video with all the details.  This Intro Webinar (17 minutes) is a very thorough explanation of the program.  

So now is the PERFECT time to give ESGI a try!  Don't wait another minute.  You'll have your class list set up in no time and be so anxious to start assessing.  I'm so excited for you to give it a try.  Here is that promo code again to enter you for the prizes and to get your discounts:

A quick review-  I asked some reliable teacher dogs to help me out with their opinions and here you go...

Go ahead... give it a try!  I know you'll love it.

Since we're on a lucky streak, each year I have my children tell me why they are lucky, so I can put their pictures over their lockers during March. They never fail to make me smile.

In my next life, I want to come back with his confidence:

Thank you for stopping by!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Five for Friday March 10th

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. Thank you for hosting, Kacey!

Hi! I hope you all had a wonderful week.  Quick question- Where is this "spring" I've heard about? Actually, this winter hasn't been as cold as some I remember, but I'm ready for it to be over.  It doesn't look like that's happening, at least this week.  We are actually already hoping for our last snow day on Tuesday if the forecast is right.  That's a teacher's way of turning lemons into lemonade... Our saying should be "If winter gives you snow, turn it into a snow day."  Anyway, this is my spring bulletin board for the hall., which I thought was timed better!

Our next writing unit is our Persuasive Writing.  Jillian Jiggs is a great mentor text to use to introduce a ... messy room.   The kids love to see that somebody else has a room that looks like it was lived in by pigs! 
Here is the video if you aren't familiar with the story.

After we read the story, I like to have the children turn and talk to share why it is important to keep their bedroom clean (so toys don't break, so mom is happy, so you don't lose things, so you don't trip and fall on things) and then transition to why it is important to keep our classroom clean (pretty much the same reasons except you can just substitute in 'so the teacher is happy!').  After this discussion, I write a mentor text with the children to show how we can persuade (or convince or encourage) others to keep the classroom clean using important reasons. (I wasn't even going to share this mentor text I made with the class because of the 'illustrations'  but then I thought you might get a kick out of those ridiculous lips and teeth in the last picture...)    

My kids LOVE to use an ellipsis any chance they get.  Probably because I do, too...  
Writing this persuasive story together gives the children a good idea about how to write to convince someone to do something using reasons- very simply.  This is a good introduction story.  You can always add to and elaborate on the reasons as time goes by.  You could add speech bubbles, extra tips, anything fun like that to give the kids other ideas.  

You can have the children make a book after you model one, or they can make a poster for the classroom and write their favorite reason on the poster. 

Jillian Jiggs  is fun to use throughout the year in different ways.  In the beginning of the year after we read, we draw and label a map of our own bedroom.   First, I have the children write a sentence focusing on using neat printing, spaces, and hearing all the sounds.   I model "My   room    is   _________."   "My" and "is"  are sight words.  We hear the "r" then the two "oo's" (like they've heard in BOO all last month!) and "m" at the end of the word.  They can choose anything to write at the end- the color of their room, if it's clean or messy, big or small... 

                                                     "My room is clean." (beginning of the year)
This time of the year, I have the children draw and label a map of their bedroom, and then write about their bedroom and why it is special to them:

Another fun thing we do for Persuasive and Opinion Writing is to learn how to spell 'because.'  That's a big word, and the kids are so proud to know it!  We sing a little song:
(BINGO tune)
I know a class who writes opinions,
'Because' tells the reasons-
'Because' tells the reasons.

It's silly- and simple. But it works. You just have to spell BECAUSE a little faster than BINGO to make it fit. I literally make every word fit the BINGO song because that's the tune I can remember.  

Here is our vowel song just in case you don't believe me:

I know a class who knows some letters
Vowels are their name-O
and sometimes even Y, Y, Y.

In the beginning of the year if some children just can't remember how to spell their name, I can make almost every name fit that song, too.

I know a girl with long, brown hair, 
And Mary is her name-O
and Mary is her name-O!

I'm a one-trick pony.  
This time of year the children are really starting to take off with reading. They're using their reading strategies and growing each day!  I want to be sure they continue to grow as much as they can at home as well as at school. We don't send homework home with children (thank goodness), but we do send  books home with them to practice reading at home. I wanted to send home some ideas to help parents while they read at home with their children. Reading at home with children is such a huge benefit and important part of a child's reading success, but sometimes we forget that parents don't always know what we're focusing on or looking for as they read with their child. I made this parent note to help with ideas.  I labeled the praise points, "Wonderful," and the questions for parents to ask, "Wondering."

These ideas help parents remember to praise, praise, praise and encourage their child as they read together at home, as well as provide questions to help parents take their child deeper into the text and beyond the text. 

I thought you might like to use it with your students' parents, too.  Just click the picture below if you would like a copy!  Enjoy!

Here are some good graphics you could share with families, as well, to show the benefits of reading with their child each night at home.  This graphic is from Makayla Schenkelberg

This is from Perry Public Schools:

One of my former students, now in 4th grade, who I just love to pieces, stopped by my room like she does every morning.  She dug through her bag because she had something for me, and pulled out this scratched plastic ornament.  I told her how much I loved it, and gave her a hug. When I asked where she got it, and she just shrugged, I sort of knew right then and there it was probably a hot item she'd stolen from some other "World's Best Teacher." I know I should go right down to her teacher who is a friend of mine, and see if she may be missing an ornament- but for tonight, I'm just loving her sweet heart and hoping I'm wrong.

Thank you for stopping by.  Have a wonderful weekend!

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