Monday, September 24, 2012

Apple Thematic Unit

I have been reading books and doing activities about apples. I like to do themed activities at centers, writing and then during read-alouds. Check out these freebies that are a part of my apple unit.
If you would like to see my apple unit on tpt, just click here

We are working on number recognition and counting. I gave each student the following paper and a napkin with a small amount of red paint. Students used their pointer finger to make the correct amount of apples in each box. Click on the picture to download a FREE copy of the Counting Apples page.

I made a door graph with apples that I numbered. Start at the bottom of the door and go up. I went to 16 apples. The sign at the top says, "Look at how many apples tall I am!" Click on the picture below to download  the sign and the class book!
Here is what the class book looks like! I don't cut out the apple. I just leave it and staple it together on the side like a book.

I read the book, "10 Apples up on Top" by Dr. Seuss. Then, I have my students pick a number between 1-10. Each student writes his or her name on the first line and how many apples are on top of their head in the second line. Then, students glue their picture on the paper and put apples up on top!
Click on the picture to download a copy!

Do you do an apple theme in your classroom?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Free Character Unit Assessments

Hello darlings!  It has been FOREVER since I have posted. (Amy here)  Poor Shelley has had to keep the blog alive for the past few weeks as I was getting ready for my sister's wedding!  Thanks Shell!   Melanie's wedding was on Saturday and it was beautiful!  She was breathtaking!  Now, I had to swear I wouldn't put any wedding pics out into cyberspace until she did, so I am waiting for her to get back from her honeymoon. =)

I wanted to share some resources about reading workshop with you lovies.  My school is doing two book studies at the moment. The first is Teaching Reading in Small Groups by Jennifer Serravallo. The second is the Units of Study for Reading by Lucy Calkins.  I would HIGHLY recommend your school purchase these!


We started off the units with a resource that our Literature Coach gave us.  I found a copy on a website when I was searching for resources.  Click on the pic to download.

Here is an overview of the Units.

So....we just finished the first Unit: Building a Reading Life, which sets up the workshop and sets up reading partnerships.  We are now moving on to Unit 2: Following Characters into Meaning.  I am not going to summarize all that we will be doing since it is described in detail in the download you can find above.  I will give you a few FREE resources that we will be using to assess our kiddos.

To use: (Distribute the pretest before the start of the unit.) Choose a read aloud text to share with the whole class. I used Poppy by Avi and gave the test in the middle of the novel. After students complete the pretest, sort them into 1's (not getting it) to 5's (outstanding). Use this info to guide your minilessons, conferences, and small groups. 

Use the tally list during conferences to keep track of deficient skills.

At the end of the unit, complete the Post assessment the same way you did the pre assessment. You can use a different book.

I hope this can help someone out there in this big place called cyberspace!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Shape Book

I tried a new activity this year with shapes. My students have to know eight shapes for the report card. They are: circle, square, triangle, rectangle, star, heart, oval and diamond. I made a book out of the four basic shapes: circle, square, triangle, and rectangle. My students had a great time thinking of all the things they could make from these shapes. I did a different shape everyday and while they were gluing their shape onto paper and drawing, I was asking them what their shape was and typing it out. Then, I would cut out their sentence, put lines between each word so they could cut out each word and glue it onto their paper. This not only practiced shapes but also included directionality, one-to-one correspondence, reading, and following directions. Plus, they get a cute book to take home!

This is the cover of the book. Click below to download a copy!

This book was created by my sweet friend, Owen. 
The rectangle picture says, "Owen's rectangle is grass". He made a house and glued a piece of green construction paper in the shape of a rectangle and made grass.  

The square picture has five squares that he placed in the corners and in the middle of his drawing of a picture frame. His sentences says, "Owen's squares are a frame."
The circle picture is my personal favorite. This is a hairy man! The sentence says, "Owen's circle is a hairy man." 
We did triangle pictures today but have not finished adding the sentences.

This is my friend Valoria. Her circle picture says, "Valoria's circle is a flower."

 Her square picture says, "Valoria's squares are people."
Her rectangle picture says, "Valoria's rectangle is a curtain."

I love the creativity my students had with their pictures. It also applied shapes to objects they use and see everyday!

How do you teach shapes?


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rules....Keeping It Simple

The best advice I ever received was in teaching rules. I like to let my students "come up" with the rules so they have ownership. Now, I say they come up with them but, little do they know, that I steer them toward the three rules I want for my classroom. My rules used to be: Be Neat, Be Safe, Be Kind. My school is doing PBS (positive behavior support) and we have school wide rules. Everyday, during announcements, we are reminded of these rules: Green Tree Gators are Safe, Respectful and Responsible Learners. That is a mouthful to say for kindergarteners. I missed my old rules at first but realized that with a little teaching my kiddos will understand what being respectful and responsible mean. I always start with a list asking my kids what they want their classroom to be like. After the list we narrow it down. There is usually a list of don't hit, don't punch, don't bite, don't run, don't be sloppy blah, blah, blah. I like to redo the list the next day making it more positive. If we aren't hitting, punching biting our friends then what are we doing? Once we are done with the list that is more positive, I take each sentence and put it under safe, respectful or responsible behavior. The following pictures show my  rule board so we can always go back to it.

This is my board that reminds us how to make smart choices. I like to take pictures of my students following these rules and hang them on the board as a visual.

I love this book, "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" If you haven't read it, go get it NOW! I hear my students talking about being bucket fillers instead of dippers! It is so sweet!

If you have a special book you use to teach rules, please share!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Center Labels

I have tried centers about a million different ways until I found which way worked for me! Trust me, it sounds like a lot of centers but it saves me so much time. I do twelve centers. Each student goes to one  center a day. That means by the end of two weeks and two days, every student has been to every center. This works so well because it take a long time for a center to become boring! I change center activities maybe once every 2 months! Don't you just LOVE that! You know this means that I don't spend my afternoons trying to come up with new center activities for the next week. Also, I never have to change the library or computer center! 

This is how I organize my center chart. I cut out caterpillars from the die cut machine and assigned partners. I like no more than three per center. To change centers for the next day, I take the bottom two tags and move all the rest down one row and stick the bottom two on top. See the top two center tags with the small apple sticker? Once the tags have rotated once and the apple stickers are back on top, then I switch the two tags around. So the computer center would be on the right and library would be on the left. Super easy:)
Click on the writing tag to download a FREE copy of all the center tags. I use the small tags for my apple chart. I use the big tags and hang them up so students know where they are located in the room.
Here is my writing center tag hanging right above where my students sit for the writing center. I made two copies of the writing label and glued them together. Then, I laminated them.

I would love to hear what you think! How do you do centers in your room? Do you switch activities every week?

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Word Wallets and Handwriting!

I am not quite ready to teach more than one sight word a week at this time of year. I do begin teaching one a week and when I'm done teaching all of the letters I REALLY teach sight words. I wanted to give my students a way to keep their sight words in a spot and practice in class. So, we are making Word Wallets. I am going to do this with letters too. Here is a picture of the wallet closed. You can also use an envelope and put a label on the front. Then, students can decorate their wallet. I thought the wallet was super cute, though so I wanted to make it.

When you open the wallet, there is a yes and no side. Students put the sight words they know on the YES side and the ones they do not know on the NO side. To make these cute wallets, take a half sheet of construction paper and hold it so the long side is horizontal. Take the bottom and fold it to the top. Then, staple each side and fold in half! That's all, can you believe it? Super easy, right?

This is a sample of what the sight word dollar looks like. Click on the picture below to download a FREE copy of the money template. I made some extra blank templates for you to add other sight words.


Does anyone else hate teaching handwriting? It is just one thing that I don't love to teach. It is hard to correct a student that is already used to holding a pencil a certain way. Also, it is equally hard getting students to stop writing letters from bottom up or other incorrect ways they have gotten used to writing. I have a lot of young kiddos this year. Most of my students' birthdays are in July! Needless to say I have a class of kids that just turned five! I created road letters to help my students practice writing their letters correctly. Only instead of writing the letters, students will "drive" their letters correctly! So, each kiddo gets a set of letters or you can give one out at a time, which is what I will do. I want to watch my students "drive" the same letter so I can watch. Students also get a car. I have clipart cars with boys and girls in the driver seat. You can put the cars on popsicle sticks, pencils, fingers or just laminate them and leave them alone! The picture below shows the cars and a few letters as examples. Click on any of the pictures to go to my TPT store to get the road letters and cars. 

How do you teach handwriting in your classroom?

Thanks for stopping by!    

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Math Rotations and Centers Explained

Hello again darlings!  I hope your year is off to a great start and you haven't felt the need to strangle discipline any of your little young'ns yet!  My kiddos are super sweet this year, but they are also super low... What to do..what to do.  Well, instead of pulling my hair out, I am putting my Math Rotations to good use.  I have been teaching math this way a couple years now, ever since my district adopted the Singapore Math Program.  It works great!

Grouping Students does it work you ask?  I pre-asses my students at the beginning of each unit.  Make it easy on yourself and just give them a five question multiple choice sheet that covers the topics of the unit.  That way you can QUICKLY assess their strengths and weaknesses.  Next, I group them according to the results.  Ex. All 5 correct: West   (advanced)
       3-4   correct: East
       2 correct: South
       0-1 correct: North (low)

I usually play around a little bit with the East and South groups to even out the number of kiddos.  I also assign each student a partner who is in their group to play at the game station.

Once I have all my little honey buns in groups, I teach them about the rotations they will be making each day. Each rotation is "supposed" to last for 15 mins.  I have been "flexible" with my timing for each group, depending on their understanding of the lesson.  There are four rotations: Teacher, Desk, Game, Fast Facts.

Grab a free rotations sign by clicking on the pic.

Teacher:  this is when the kiddos come to me at the carpet for the actual lesson that is presented on their levels.

Desk: kiddos work on the practice assignment at their desks after the lesson (West groups starts here first since they are the advanced group.  They get an assignment before the lesson.)

Game:  I have a game for each skill.  I usually keep the same game for one week so that I only have to explain it once. Check back, as I will be adding some of my games.

Fast Facts: I am lucky enough to have two computers with Internet access. (If you don't, get inventive.  Maybe just have them take paper quizzes and have the partner grade it with an answer key right then.)  I use the SELF CORRECTING TIMED tests from!  They have quizzes for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. I teach two kiddos how to log on and they are our Computer Experts.  At the start of math, they pull up the page from our favorites bar and then the page is open the entire time.  Kiddos click on the quiz they need.  They type in their name and press START.  Once they press start, the computer keeps track of the time.  Kiddos type in the answer to each problem and press enter.  I tell them to skip it and press ENTER if they have to think about it at all. When they finish, they press FINISHED (I know! Weird huh?)  Now it will show them all the problems they missed and how much time it took to complete.  To pass and be able to move on to a new test the next day, they can only miss ONE and their time must be 3 minutes of less.  Now I tell them if it is a couple of secs over that is ok.  When they finish  they print the test and go grab it. (My kiddos have to hustle to the library.)  Next, they make flashcards  for any of them that they missed.  While kiddos are waiting for the computer, they are practicing their flashcards from the previous day.

Accessing Quizzes:  Put it on your favorite's bar.
Go to
In case you ever get lost, it is under Resources-Online test and quizzes.  Addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are found on this page.

Here is where we keep our Fast Fact Folders that contain our flashcards and our previous quizzes.  I always have kiddos start with the pretest so that at the end of the quarter, they can take the posttest and we can measure the growth. The bucket contains pens and index cards.  No more running to go grab a writing utensil.

Sorry, I couldn't rotate the pic.

Here are the rules the kiddos came up with.

Does this help?  Do you have another way?

5-Star Blogger