Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Long Awaited FREEBIE!

Happy holiday weekend to you!  I hope you are enjoying the extended weekend, as I am.  :)  My sweet hubby is taking me down to Illinois tomorrow (for my upcoming birthday) to see my favorite band - Collective Soul!

I love me some Dean Roland!
Anyway, back on track.  Way back when (I am talking 2011), I wrote about how I use "Stretchy the Word Snake" in the classroom.  Click HERE if you want to go back and re-read that post.  I started off by creating cards for Short A, then
s - l - o - w - l - y
over time, I created cards for Short E, I, and O.  Then came along my switch from Kindergarten to ESL and I no longer had an immediate need to make the Short U cards.
However... since then, many teachers (maybe YOU) - even until this day - have asked, "Where are the Short U cards?"  Well, my friends, I finally got around to making them for you!  Yippee!  Soooo... if you are interested in grabbing this FREEBIE, please visit my TPT store and you will find them there!
We go back to school again (we technically started in July) on Tuesday, but things will be slightly different now because I have a student teacher joining me for the first time.  I am pretty excited about it!
Thanks for stopping by!  :)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Awesome Book for Pre-K - 2nd Grade Teachers and a FREEBIE!

Hello!  I just wanted to stop by quick in order to tell you about a new and AWESOME professional development book that I highly recommend you put on your To-Read List.  It is written by Cindy Middendorf and it is called Early Reading Instruction and Intervention: A Source Book for Pre-K - 2.
While I am still on summer break, my 14-month old son makes it challenging to read.  So...I have been plugging away, little by little each night after he goes to bed.  As always, Cindy has reignited my teaching fire!  Seriously - if you read any of her books, you will be so motivated to become the best primary teacher you can be!  AND...she always gives awesome examples and strategies that you can implement easily in your own classroom.
I have been a huge fan of Cindy Middendorf for a few years now.  If you want to read a previous blog post about Cindy and her other books, click HERE!  I was oh-so-excited the day that Cindy Middendorf wrote a comment on my little 'ole blog!  I asked her if she could sign my book and she kindly obliged.

Chapter 1 of this book is all about physical readiness being the prerequisite for intellectual success.  (Isn't awesome to have educational leaders out there back up, with brain-based research, what we primary teachers already know instinctively?  Thank goodness for them!)  Anyway, I got to thinking about ways I can easily incorporate important physical interventions that improve core strength, balance, etc.  Then, I thought about this DVD my son and I checked out at the library recently...the kids do exercises for each letter of the alphabet.  I like most of the exercises on the DVD, but some of them were kind of lame or "B" for "bounce" and "J" for jump.  Eh.  So I decided to make up my own list.
Here is how I intend to use this list:
1 - Show large letter cards, starting with "A," once at a time.  Ask the students to identify the letter.
2 - State the corresponding exercise.  Then, model the proper way to do the exercise and encourage the students to do the same.
3 - Ask the students what letter comes next, then repeat!  Easy-peasy, lemon squeezey!
So anywho...if you are interested in doing Alphabet Exercises with your little ones in order to get the jitters out AND build core strength, please click HERE to visit my TPT store and grab it for FREE!
Alrighty, I am off for now!  I intend on working on my first author study unit.  We will see how that goes!  Enjoy your day and thanks for stopping by!  :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Monday Made-It (Late, Of Course)

Good morning to you!  Is it wrong of me to look forward to my son's nap time, so I can blog?  Someone please amuse me and tell me I am not the only one!

Really quick before I get into my Monday Made Its - Check out my NEW and improved and totally awesome social icon buttons!!  I am super excited about them.  The one-and-only and totally amazing Erin at Creating and Designing updated them for me.  If any of you out there are interested in giving your blog a facelift, I would recommend Erin in a heartbeat!  She is great to work with (I e-mailed her about adding new social icon buttons and not only did she get to it in like a day or two, she took it upon herself to make them even cuter than before)!  Thanks, Erin!  I so appreciate it!

So that leads me to my next point...Bloglovin'...yes!  I am lovin' me some Bloglovin'.  I was at first hesitant to try something new, but I am so glad I did.  Bloglovin' makes it so much easier to follow and quickly read the blogs that you love the most.  So if you love my little blog, pretty please follow me!!  (My Bloglovin' button is to the right.)  Thanks!

Ah - one more thing... I (finally) created an account on Instagram.  I would love if you followed me on there!  (Just click on the Instagram button to the right.)  I only have one picture on there now, but there will be more.  I intend on using Instagram as a quick way to show what I am doing in my classroom, particularly when I do not have the time to write a long post about it.

Now on to the show!
So yeah - I am late on my Monday Made It... no shocker there.  I was just going to wait until next Monday, but then I read that Tara is not hosting her weekly linky party again until next summer (she will continue to host once a month though).  I am too impatient to wait until next month, so here we go!
I found this ADORABLE teacher gift on Pinterest last year and I knew I wanted to make it for a teacher friend one day.  Then come along these two new, sweet teachers at my school and I knew exactly how to welcome them!

Here are the items I included:
glue stick
Post-It notes
fun paper clips
Starburst candy
binder clips
small roll of tape
By the way, the FREE cutesie wootsie printable comes from Jena over at First Grade with Miss Snowden, so be sure to hop over there to snag your own copy.  Thank you for sharing, Jena!
This was a very small, simple project.  Originally I was thinking I was going to paint or iron my name on to my pink tote somehow, but... I am not all that creative and I did not trust my lack of artistic ability, so I went with a key chain instead, LOL.  I just created something on the computer, printed and cut it out, then wrapped it up with some clear tape.  Maybe one day I will grow the courage to put my name directly ON the day...maybe.
That is it for projects, for now!  I have the supplies for a "Homework Club" sign waiting for me in my loft, but I just have not gotten around to making it yet.  Soon...I hope.  In the meantime, be sure to hop over to Tara's linky party to check out other amazing projects that other awesome teachers have been working on!
Random Not-Teaching-Related Thought:
Three years ago today, I married the man of my dreams.  He is everything I ever hoped for in a husband...truly.  I love him SO much and I am very proud to call him my hubby, so I just had to throw that out there!
(This picture was taken on our wedding day.)
(And here Mr. Unger is again, being sillly!)
Thank you for stopping by!  :)


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back to School Activities and Lots of Photos!

Happy summer to you!  I am going to start with a refresher on my current teaching position:  This is my second year of teaching ESL (4K through 5th grade) at a year-round school.  Our 2013-2014 school year began on July 10th, so I wanted to share a few activities that we did last month.
I happened to be in one of our 5K classrooms when I heard the homeroom teacher talking about lunchroom behavior.  A light bulb went off in my head, as I remembered that I have the perfect book for teaching little ones about proper lunchroom etiquette:
"Manners in the Lunchroom" by Amanda Doering Tourville.  There are a bunch of awesome books in this series ("Manners with a Library Book," "Manners on the School Bus," etc.), so be sure to check them out!
We read aloud and discussed the book, then we created these cutie patootie lunchboxes.  This craftivity idea originally came from Kindergarten...Kindergarten..., where Kathryn shares more books and activities that go well with this lesson.  She also provides us with a PDF version and a Word document (so you can edit the good and bad choices, so they align with the lunchroom rules of your cafeteria), so you can make them with your own students.  Thank you, Kathryn!
(This is not my belongs to Kathryn.  I need to get back into the habit of taking pictures!)
In order to informally assess what the students learned about lunchroom behavior, I broke out these Hands-Up Answer Boards from Smilemakers.
(I borrowed this image from Smilemakers.)
I read aloud some of the good and bad choices from our lunchbox craftivity.  If the students heard a good choice, they showed me the blue hand.  If the students heard a bad choice, they showed me the red hand.  Easy peezey, lemon squeezey and it worked well for an informal assessment!
THANK YOU to Smilemakers for generously donating these great boards!  The kiddos can also write on them with dry erase markers, so I know I will continually use these boards throughout the years to come.

I do have two suggestions for Smilemakers:
1 - If the boards were thicker, the kiddos would be able to use them anywhere.  Instead, we had to make sure we laid the boards on the floor, in order to have a hard surface to write on.
2 - The red on one side is perfect (kids think "No!" or "Stop!" when they see red).  I would suggest green - instead of blue - for the other side though (kids think "Yes!" or "Go!" when they see green).
So as you can see from the pictures above, I "push in" to whole group settings (4K, 5K, and 1st grade), but I also pull small groups (2nd through 5th grade).  With these small groups, we created this Pinterest-inspired "I am (a)..." writing activity
Just in case the pictures are not clear enough, I suppose I should explain what this is:  The kids created a huge letter "I" and wrote the words "am (a)..." on the side.  I decided to put (a) in parenthesis because some sentences did not need the word "a."  For example, "I am organized" does not need the word "a," where as "I am a student" does need the word "a."  I know...I am picky.
So then the students wrote adjectives and nouns that described themselves.  This actually took quite a bit of guidance, as the kiddos were having a hard time coming up with description words.  So I would come up with an idea, model how to write it, then they would compare that idea to themselves (Am I like that, too?  If not, is there a similar word that I could write?)  For example, when I wrote, "mommy," they would write "son" or "daughter" instead.

I really liked doing this because it allowed me to 1) get to know the kids, especially most of them were new to me and 2) see where they were at with their writing
Oh, and best of all, it was easy to implement.  As long as your have some markers, pencils, and loose leaf paper laying around, you are good to go!  Ah, yes...and I forgot to mention...the kids liked this activity!

Tip:  Play some music while the kids write!  I use Pandora a lot, specifically the Kidz Bop channel and the Disney Radio Stars channel.
We also utilized this FREE and AWESOME resource from Christina Bainbridge called "Getting to the CORE of our Classroom."  (She has a super cute blog called Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge that is totally worth checking out!)
Each student had a pencil, clipboard, and the recording sheet that Christina includes in her freebie.  They walked around my (very small) classroom and hunted for the apple cards.  Once they found a card, they wrote the secret letter that is found inside the apple.  (I especially loved this activity because the kids were able to get out of their chairs and move around!)
I attached the apple cards to the CORE or most important areas in our classroom:  1) the garbage can, 2) the seasonal word wall, 3) the traditional word wall, 4) the drawers with school supplies, 5) learning charts and posters, 6) the Kleenex box, and 7) hmmm...I cannot remember #7, haha!

After each student found all 7 core areas, we joined back at the table and discussed their findings.  Then, I asked them to look at the secret letters and read the secret message.  It was "WELCOME!"

My small groups also helped me with a project that turned out to be FAR more time-consuming than I had originally anticipated.  We tied plastic grocery store bags together and weaved this plastic "rope" through our fence outside in order to spell the words "ENROLL NOW!" (in English and Spanish).  (As mentioned earlier, we are a year-round school and parents often forget that we are an option that starts in July, so enrollment can be iffy until September.)

Two of my kiddos insisted I take a picture of them wearing our plastic "rope," haha!  I have no clue why, but it actually turned out to be a cute picture...if only you could see their adorable face!
Phew!  Two hours later and I am finally done writing this post.  (Does it take all of you that long when you write on your blogs!?)  It is 12:30pm here, so I supposed I should hop in the shower and get my day started, hehe.  Thanks for stopping by!