Saturday, August 18, 2012

Can you ever have too many books?

The answer this week was YES.
This is just a portion of the mess I faced.... stacks and stacks of books, some categorized but most not. There must be a million ways to sort books, but I kind of like to keep things simple so I make piles by month, then some by author, and the rest I throw in together and call "great stories." I got rid of about one third of the original stacks, then began to organize, label, etc. This took me half a day but the results were worth it:
As you can see I've got a THEME going on this year. First time I've tried this, but I like it! Yes of course it's Western. What else?! And now, to ride off into the sunset towards my last weekend before the little darlin's show up....

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sight Word Jewels

I made a very cool Sight Word game for March. I got the idea from Sally a really really long time ago. It always takes me forever to get around to making all the stuff I have been piling up on Pinterest... which is about as interesting as all the reasons it's taken me so long to post. *cough* *cough* FLU *cough* *cough*

Anyway, it is a very cool game and the kids LOVE it. So much that we are still playing!

I got bags of clear, flat "jewels" (like you put at the bottom of a fishbowl) from the Dollar Store. I printed out sight words, cut them out and Mod Podged them to the bottom of the jewels.

Then I found a pretty gold Star Box to put them in. Then I found some silk drawstring bags. Each player gets a bag. The game is simple: Take out a jewel, read it, put it in the bag. Repeat. Of course you could do variations: use the word in a sentence, write it down (we did it in rainbow letters for March), etc. etc.

These jewels were a hit with my class that likes to TOUCH things. They are heavy and smooth and clack together in a very satisfying way. They seem a little magical actually. The reading resource teacher actually snagged them to use with her first graders too! Try making these, you will love them.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Been trying to post for awhile, Blogger was being stubborn!

If you have a boring job to do... you know the kind... where you are thinking "for this I went to nine years of college?!" try letting the children help you out. For instance, I had a bajillion magnetic letters that I needed to sort so I could create sets and start making word games. Did I want to sort them? No. Did I trust the parent helpers to sort them? No. (More on this later in a post entitled "Bad Help Is Worse Than No Help At All".)

The obvious choice? The children. This gave them letter recognition practice and I have to say they LOVED it. I used empty strawberry baskets and propped a letter card in each one. Then I gave them a bowl of letters and let them sort away. The LOVED this. Like, more than I would have expected. And they did a pretty good job. It was fun to see what letters I had a lot of, what letters I needed more of. And be sure to provide a basket for "things that are not letters" because well, you know.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mr. Potato Head Does Room KE

I got this idea from Journey of a Substitute Teacher. I was very very excited to find Small Cowgirl's long forgotten Mr. Potato Head over Winter Break when I attacked her room. She had a fit when she saw me stuffing him in my backpack to take to school but I promised he would go unharmed. The children are NOT allowed to touch him but as a class reward I pull out one part at a time until he is complete. A quiet calendar time? Feet. A courteous sharing? Body. Lining up without me yelling to be quiet / hands to themselves / come out from under that table? Eyes. Etcetera.

I also pull parts off. Screaming at the top of their lungs? (Yes that did happen, and it was because they were excited, but REALLY.) I yanked off an arm and threw it back into the box. Ouch. We haven't made much progress this week.

They loved it... last week. We actually got him all put together in four days and the envelope on the back (labeled with a big question mark) revealed their popsicle party prize. Then, as is typical with this group, some lost interest and have been wrecking it for the rest. I find managing this class is like keeping deer out of my garden: I have to mix it up. One thing works for awhile (lights, sprinklers, mountain lion urine) and then bam, they are wreaking havoc again.

Sixty more days to go.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Journals In Kindergarten

When it comes to teaching writing in Kindergarten I find the journal process invaluable. I don't do a lot of fussing about it, just model the way I want them to write on a giant chart paper pad and then send them on their way. Of course I narrate my thought process, sounding things out in an exaggerated way, talking about capitals and lower case, periods and spaces. And of course most of them just hear "blah blah blah."

BUT when it comes to topics this class loves to come up with ideas. At the beginning of our journal journey they actually generated this map ON THEIR OWN. I think it pretty much covers most areas of interest for five year olds (and for me most days as well) BUT I still like to ask them each afternoon what they would like me to write about it. One of their favorite topics is "my best class", an imaginary class sometime in the distant past that was perfect in every way. I write about how wonderful that class was at listening and being quiet and all the incredible incentives they received for their amazing behavior. Inside I am dying but they take this topic very seriously. Other favorites include what I do in the morning before school and all about my horses and the farm. Then I throw a similar topic idea out to them and send them off to write.

Anyway if after ten minutes of guided instruction they STILL can't come up with a topic I am glad to have this map hanging up for the non-listeners to see.