Thursday, September 26, 2013

Fun, no prep, Johnny Appleseed Craft!

Did you ever see a great idea on someone's blog and you knew right away that you HAVE to do it in your own classroom? Well, as soon as I saw this adorable Johnny Appleseed craft here, it was love at first sight. I knew my students would enjoy making these and I was right. They were so engaged, you could have heard a pin drop in my classroom. 

First, I showed my students step-by-step how to draw Johnny. Kerri includes these directions on her blog. Everyone's came out different and we all enjoyed watching Johnny appear on our papers, little by little.

My favorite part about this whole activity, was there were no tracers. The children drew their own Johnnys and cut out their own trees, grass, and suns. 

Thank you so much, Kerri, for this fabulous idea!

Here are some other apple related activities my students will be doing at stations next week...

These activities are all in my Work on Writing Activity box. My students can select any activity that interests them. These apple related activities are part of my Writing Right Through August and September pack. Soon, I'll exchange them with my Writing Right Through October and November activities. And so on, and so on... I love knowing that my Work on Writing Station is planned for the whole school year! Sorry I don't have any completed activities to show off you yet.

In other news, my kindergarten students have really been enjoying the story Please, Puppy, Please, written by Spike Lee and his wife. It's about two little kids who have some fun with a naughty little pup. It's a great story to use when discussing story structure. Here's a fun activity they completed.
After teaching my students about characters, setting, and details, the children folded a piece of paper in fourths, and drew a picture of each in the four squares. This was a fun, interactive way, to reinforce story structure, and challenge them to be creative. We were all thoroughly happy with our final product. Even me! Yes, I made one too!

Just click the image above to get a copy of the words.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sharing My Station Board and a Word Building Activity

I am frequently asked how I run my reading block, using Journeys and work stations. I'm going to try my best to explain it.

This is my station board. My students do stations Tuesday through Friday. Monday is mostly a whole group lesson, which I try to make as interactive as possible.

My students do 4 rotations a day. During the first 3, I pull individuals or small groups. The 4th rotation is for RTI and/or writer's workshop. If I am meeting with an RTI group, the rest of the children are working in their writer's notebooks. If I'm not meeting with a group, then I am leading a whole group writing lesson. 

These are my stations...
Word Work (Sight Words)
Phonics (Spelling Words)
Work on Writing
Read to Self

  Meet With the Teacher is not included on my station board. Since I like a mixture of all abilities in my station groups, I just pull individuals or small groups from whatever station they are in.

My students visit each station twice a week. They have a must do activity and several options for after they have completed the must do. No one is allowed to say, "I'm done! What can I do now!"

This is what my rotation chart looks like...
My schedule is based on one I got from my bud Marsha, from A Differentiated Kindergarten. I have 6 groups of 3 students. (One group has 4 students because I have 19 first graders.) The rotation schedule is the same Tuesday/Thursday and Wednesday/Friday. And the way I set it up, Groups 1-3 and Groups 4-6 just flip flop their rotations from Tuesday/Thursday to Wednesday/Friday. Does that make sense? If not, just look at the schedule. You'll see that Groups 4-6 visit the same stations, in the same order, as Groups 1-3, but on opposite days. That way, I know that all 6 groups visit all of the stations twice a week. And I don't even have to change any rotation cards ever! I actually have a double set of rotation cards and under the chart on the right, is another chart, with all the rotation cards already set up. One chart is for Tuesday/Thursday and the other is for Wednesday/Friday. Each day, I just move the top chart on the right to the bottom. The names stay the same until I change my station groups.

Station time is my favorite time of the day. My students know that they must get started right away and they must use a 6 inch voice. They are very mindful of how important it is to work quietly, especially when I am meeting with small groups. They clean up their station and move to the next one without much direction from me. I always give them a minute or two to ask me questions when each rotation begins, before I call my next group. They know they cannot disturb me once my group is in session. It's all about respect!

On Friday's, after our weekly assessments and the third rotation, anyone who finished all their station work can enjoy some free time. Anyone who did not, must catch up. We call it ketchup and mustard day!

And that is how I run my station time in first grade. Eventually, my kindergarteners will be following the same schedule. They're still not ready yet!

Before I sign off, I just wanted to show you something I just finished for my phonics station. I LOVE word building activities and we do a lot of them whole group. Now, my students can enjoy building words independently.

Let's Build Words includes 13 different activity sheets. Each one has 16 opportunities to build words, following different spelling patterns. Here are the patterns included:
All of these are included in Journeys, so I am set for the year. Here is an example of how the students complete each page...

They cut out the letters they need for each page, which is included, (or you can just use letter tiles or letter beads) and they build the words in the top box. When they are done, they write a sentence in the box, using a word that follows that spelling pattern.

Each lesson includes an answer key, to make it self checking.

The letter tiles are printed two to a page to save paper.

If you want to check it out for yourself, just click here!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Lakeshore Review and Giveaway!

I love Lakeshore!
This week, I received a whole bunch of awesome learning station activities from Lakeshore, which were funded by Donors Choose. Did you know that Lakeshore is now partnering with Donors Choose? You can read all about it here! This makes me very happy! And my students too!

Speaking of Lakeshore, I was recently contacted by them and asked if I would like to review a product from there new line of educational toys for the home. I said YES! Of course! You can find these products at any Lakeshore store and online here.

I chose this:
It is loaded with tons and tons of creative craft supplies, like pom-poms, wiggle eyes, ribbon, foam pieces, popsicle sticks, beads, glue, markers, and more. Everything is held in little drawers in a very attractive and durable bright blue organizer. It's perfect for home and the classroom. It really came in handy this week, because we had lots of rainy days and were stuck inside. Once I whipped out this baby, 19 frowns turned upside down!

Check out these excited faces! (I took these pictures on 9/11, so my students are looking patriotic in their reds, whites, and blues!)

First, they tried out the glitter!

Then, they made the cutest popsicle stick puppets.

And bracelets too!

They tried everything! And the next day, more kids enjoyed all this art center has to offer. And, every day since then, my students have been eagerly waiting for free time, so they can create all kinds of fun stuff.

I love this art organizer for many reasons. But, above all, I love that it is very easy to set up. My students take care of everything! They put on the table cloth, put the organizer on the table, and have at it. I don't have to do anything. Except, that is, watch how excited they are to explore what's in the drawers and ooh and ahh at their masterpieces.

I highly recommend the Arts and Crafts Supply Center for every classroom and home. If you click on this link, you'll find a 20% off coupon, good at any Lakshore store or online. It expires on 10/31/13.

And, here's more good news! The kind and generous folks at Lakeshore are allowing me to give away one Arts and Crafts Supply Center to a VERY lucky follower. Just enter as many times as you want on the rafflecopter below. Good luck!
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Monday, September 9, 2013

Kindergarten and First Grade Stations

I have been getting a lot of emails from teachers, asking me how I run my reading block and what my children do during my small group time. My routines are not set in stone yet, and I haven't started small groups yet, but I wanted to share some of the stations my students are doing this week. I absolutely love station time because it gives my students a chance to practice the skills I teach them during our whole group lessons. I love to see how they perform without me! Here's a peek into my week...


Listening Station
Students listen to a book on tape or CD and then talk about it with each other. 

Read to Self
Students continue to work on building their stamina. They are learning to choose good fit books and how to use our classroom library.

Phonics Station
This student is working on an activity from A Differentiated Kindergarten's Back to School Word Work Galore pack. Students choose a letter from the basket and write it in the star, then they need to write the next 3 letters that follow it. They loved it!

Word Work Station
Here is one of my Journeys Sentence Puzzles. We practiced these last week, so the children were able to complete it independently. I am a HUGE fan of sentence puzzles, which is why I have created these for just about every season and every reason!

Grammar Station
For the next several weeks, kindergarten will be learning about nouns. This week, we are focusing on nouns for people. This cutie is using one of the cards from my Fun With Parts of Speech pack, and a recording sheet from my Writing Right Through...pack. She's writing different nouns that name people and illustrating each one.

Here's another picture of the same station.

Word Work
At this station, children are practicing writing their names on white boards and magna doodles, referring to their name cards, if necessary.

The only two stations missing are Meet With the Teacher and Writer's Notebook. I am not ready to meet with small groups yet, so I am circulating the room and assisting where necessary. Next week, I'll introduce our Writer's Notebook as a station. Students can write whatever they want in their notebook.

First Grade

Listening Station
Students listen to a story and then write a book review. This book review comes from my Writing Activities for Young Learners Part 2 pack. But I have different ones in my Writing Right Through...packs, that are specific to seasons, holidays, and themes.

Grammar Station
This week, first graders are learning about nouns. Students are sorting nouns from my Fun With Parts of Speech pack and then filling out a recording sheet. 

I love how he is practicing his finger spaces!

Word Work Station
This station is all about sight words. Students are reading the task card, which I have at all stations, and figuring out what to do. First, they read the sight word cards and sentences to each other. Then, they think of their own sentences and write them in their Station Notebook. When they are done, they can complete Read it, Make it, Write it. In this activity, they read each sight word, make them with letter beads, and practice writing them a few times.

Phonics Station
Here, students are playing Roll, Say, Keep. They LOVE this game. They are practicing words with short a. That is our spelling skill for this week. Each game contains 40 words that follow specific spelling patterns. Plus some message cards that make the game a ton of fun! Students can also choose to play Go Fish this week!

Work on Writing Station
This week's reading skill is main idea. At this station, I combined main idea with some writing. Since we are talking about pals, the center of the web is the main idea, "I love my pal..." and in each box, the children write a detail about why they love their pal. When they are done, they will copy their web onto nice stationary, and have a story to give their pal. 

The only stations missing are Read to Self (I didn't take any pictures), Meet With the Teacher (no small groups today), and Writer's Notebook. This station was closed today.

Once I have my routines set in stone, I'll share my station board and how my students rotate. I got a lot of ideas from Marsha! She has wonderful ideas for rotating and I stole was inspired by them. LOL!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Fun Stations!

This was my third week of school. Since it was only a three day week, we spent it building our stamina (first grade made it to 16 minutes and kindergarten made it to 5 minutes) and practicing how we go to stations and what we'll do at the stations. I need to make sure that the children understand completely that they cannot approach me when I have small groups at my teacher table. And, I think they got the message! First grade is 100% ready to start stations and small groups next week. Kindergarten, however, needs one more week of practice.

I snapped some pictures of first grade practicing some of the activities they'll be doing at stations.

This is Roll, Say, Keep.
I made this game using all of the first grade Journeys spelling words, plus, tons of other words that follow the same spelling rule. I love how I won't have to explain what is at my Phonics Station, because the game will always be a choice there, but the words will change each week. My students played this game for the first time today and they had so much fun. Not only are there word cards, but there are also message cards that made the game even more interesting.

Here is the always fun Go Fish! This game is made up of just CVC words with short a. I also have Go Fish games that use the Journeys spelling and HFW for each lesson. Go Fish will always be an option at my Phonics Station (using the spelling words version) and my Word Work Station (using the HFW version.) Again, I won't need to explain what is at those stations each week. My students are experts at playing Go Fish, because they played with me in kindergarten.

My students will also be using my Fun With Parts of Speech activities, at the Grammar Station, as they learn about nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Next week, they'll sort the different types of nouns. Kindergarten is also learning about nouns. They'll write some nouns that name people and draw pictures to match.

Another fun activity we practiced this week is from the incredibly talented Annie Moffat! I adore everything she creates and consider her one of my closest blogging buddies. 
This amazing activity is from her CVC Word Family Word Work pack. It contains many different word families and this will also be an option at my Phonics Station. Each sheet has 3 fun activities for the children to complete. They loved all 3!

 As you can see, I tend to give my students many options at each station. I do this so they will never get bored at the stations, and so they'll always have something challenging to work on and I won't have to hear, "I'm finished! What can I do now?" This is something I do not like to hear. It's right up there with, "my lunchbox is leaking" and "I think I'm going to throw up!" Since my students visit each station twice a week, they can choose different activities during each visit.

Kindergarten learned how to complete Sentence Puzzles. This one is from my Pre-Primer and Primer pack. Next week, they'll start using the sentence puzzles from my Journeys pack. We did this one together and they really did a great job. We talked about the difference between words and sentences and how sentences start with a capital letter and end with a period. The children tried hard to write the sentence using finger spaces and neat handwriting. We also talked about small and tall letters.

I am so excited for next week! I can't wait to begin our new reading series and for "real" school to begin!

Before I sign off, I just want to remind you all that I am having a giveaway for a FREE classroom carpet. You don't want to miss out on this incredible opportunity to enter to win a carpet worth up to $150.00. Just click on my pretty carpet to enter!

Hurry! There's only 1 day left to enter!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Cozy up Your Reading Space Giveaway

I am so in love with my new classroom carpet. 
My students are thoroughly enjoying it too.

It is from Mohawk Home.

I was given an opportunity to choose one of their carpets for my classroom and I had an incredibly hard time deciding which to choose. I finally decided on this one because I love bright colors. It looks beautiful in my classroom and is plush and cozy.

I am so excited to tell you all that Mohawk Home is allowing me to give away a carpet of your choosing to a very lucky blog follower. Isn't that super sweet of them? Not only that, a few of my best blogging buddies are also giving away a carpet to one of their lucky blog followers. You actually have 4 chances to win a carpet, if you enter at each of our blogs. The carpet I am giving away can be up to $149.99! Wow!

Mohawk Home is such a wonderful, caring, and dedicated company. Click here to watch a video they made!

If you want to enter, just use the rafflecopter below. I gave you lots of opportunities to enter. Not all of them are mandatory, but the more you click enter (making sure you actually do what is being asked) the greater your odds are of winning. The very lucky winner will be announced on Sunday. Good luck!

Be sure to visit these blogs too!
(Looks like my buddies may not have published their posts yet. Stay tuned...)

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