Saturday, January 31, 2015

Bye, Bye, Basal!

I think 90% of teachers would agree that using a Basal reading curriculum is really just "eh". First, I understand that most school districts choose curriculum to put the school on the same page... I also understand that some teachers like to have a guide to go by. However, I really am not a fan. I think the Basal system lacks a lot of important elements that we need in the classroom. Anyway, when returning to school from winter break I was really eager to change things up for 2015. First of all, quick side note, I started selling on TPT to create resources for my school's Basal reading system to make it more meaningful and to add more activities for the units. When I was lesson planning over the break I was really uninterested in the current unit I was in, mainly because it was all about seeds, plants and spring like stories/vocabulary. It's January for goodness sake. So I started browsing TPT and came across Deanna Jumps new Guiding Readers units. It's exactly what I've been craving for my Shared Reading time with my Kinders. Not only is more rigor, but it's meaningful! From the writing, language arts, and phonics it's all on key. And the stories are selected specifically for a certain month. That way you are reading stories that are meaningful to the time of the year. I thought I'd show you a little bit of what we read and learned in January using her January Guiding Readers unit. Needless to say I will be purchasing all of them and will hopefully (with permission from my admin of course) replace my current Basal with these units instead.  Note: I had the flu the first week back from break so one of the stories was not covered.

Here are the resources you will need for this unit. Click on the image below for a direct link to Deanna's product. It's on sale this weekend too :) She has February available too!
Books you will need for the lessons....
click on the book images to be directed to Amazon. :)
I'm just going to briefly do a run-through of what you can expect from these new unit from Deanna.
This stories come with writing prompts, retelling, phonics practice, and word work. Below is a picture of a retelling activity that came with The Snowy Day.
It even comes with a student version of retelling cards for them to cut out and color, to take home and retell to mom and dad!


Students using the word wall for their opinion writing.

CVC words in the "snow"

Noticing details!
This unit even includes an adorable craft!!!
Also! With the Tacky the Penguin week, I also purchased Deanna's Penguin Chit-Chat! Awesome way to include non-fiction and science..

Oh and hey! want to know an easy penguin snack? One of my students parents found some penguin "goldfish" type crackers... I mixed the penguins with some marshmallows to have penguins and snowballs while we watched March of the Penguins Friday. Lots of fun!
Didn't get a lot of pics from the 100th day! But I just love this simple craft I found on Pinterest! Just thought I'd share the cuteness!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Worksheet-Free Wednesday

Last week was my first time to try Worksheet-free Wednesday. It was just a trial-run at first. I got the idea after reading Elizabeth Hall's blog post about it on! It really went well last week so I decided to keep it around. I think it's a great way to think outside of the box and really make your lessons more interesting and hands-on. I never give "busy work", all of my worksheets that I give out are always meaningful to whatever we are learning about. However, sometimes you just need a break from the worksheets. I think Wednesday being the middle of the week is a great way to do something different. We still covered all of the skills we would've covered if we had worksheets, we just got a little creative. This week we have been reading fiction and non-fiction stories about penguins. Penguins are so much fun to learn about.  The kids are having so much fun with this unit. Here are some pics of what we did today during Worksheet-free Wednesday!

We actually did this craft yesterday. It is Tacky the Penguin. We are currently reading Tacky the Penguin and the kids think it is absolutely hilarious. I don't have a pic, but we did a Venn Diagram about Tacky and his penguin companions on the Smart Board together.

This is our Daily-Fix it for Language Arts that I made for my Reading Street units in TPT. We look for errors in the sentence and then fix it! Instead of them doing the worksheet, I put it on the Smart Board and put butcher paper on their desks. I also let them pick their favorite marker to use too. Butcher paper is fun!

Since the weather has been beautiful this week, we've been taking advantage of getting to go outside. I took the kiddos outside and gave them chalk, I would say a word like "cat" and they would have to draw a picture or write the word of something that would rhyme with cat. After we did about four words I let them draw pictures for a little bit. Everyone needs a good dose of sunshine!

For some extra word work I gave the kids all a marker board and marker and would say a word and they would have to spell it. They love using the dry-erase boards!
We've been studying measurement in Math and today we worked on capacity. We practiced filling different sized containers of sand to see which containers would hold more/less. They are always wanting to play in my sand box, so this was a great way to let them play with the sand but also learn about capacity.

My kiddos are obsessed with shaving cream... So for a quick addition lesson I busted out the shaving cream. I would put a math problem on the Smart Board and they would have to draw their answer in the shaving cream. It gives the room a nice smell for a minute too.

Here are our science experiments for the day. How does a penguin keep warm in the icy cold water? Well their feathers and oil of course. I simply gave the kids a mitten to wear as their feathers and put a latex-free glove over it for the oil. They got to dip their bare hand and their covered hand in ice water to see the difference.

Our last little experience was seeing how a penguin waddles. I had the kids put a ball between their ankles and walk back and forth without dropping it. It was fun!

That's all I have today! Worksheet-Free Wednesday is so much fun!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

All About Coins

I teach in Oklahoma and we were a Common Core state for a minute and this year we went back to our old ways (bummer)... Anyways, I still teach Common Core but I make sure I am covering Oklahoma's standards as well. I use Deanna Jump's math curriculum and I have been making two units to implement with hers so I match up with Oklahoma's standards. The first mini-unit I've made to implement in my math curriculum is money. We are required to teach our Kindergarteners about coins. So I made this unit that is perfect practice for Kindergarten and First Grade. I think it's great for the little ones to  start learning about money. The next unit I'll be making is going to be about time. Telling time to the hour. Here's a peek at what my coin mini-unit includes. It has worksheet practice, a game, and two anchor charts. I included anchor chart pieces that you can cut out like I did in the pictures below, or you anchor charts you can pull up on your Smart Board. Check it out in my TPT store!

             Note: I also included regular print practice, our school uses D'nealian. I always include both versions in all of my TPT products. :)