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Welcome to The Crazy Pre-K Classroom! Please enjoy your stay, explore my posts and join for more to come! Blessings, Christine

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About Me

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Round Rock, Texas, United States
I am a wife, a mother, and a Christian Pre-K Teacher. Besides spending time with my family, I enjoy creating new lessons for TpT, scrapbooking and quilting. Feel free to contact me with questions or requests at: thecrazyprekclassroom@gmail.com

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Why teach Pre-K?

Because, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phillipians 4:13

Because, I love it and am called to it!

For my children and my husband!

Because I am me!

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Monday, July 21, 2014

Diving into new territory...Kindergarten!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Well it is official I am moving up to Kindergarten! Now don't worry I will keep my blog name and TpT store the same, I will not ask you to follow me elsewhere. I am thankful for each of you and will continue to provide posts with resources for both Pre-K and Kindergarten. I am truly excited to have the chance to experience where my kiddos go after they leave me. I am curious about the dreaded "summer slide" and how far Kindergarten progresses them. I am also nervous, not in my abilities to teach and learn but in the unknown of where the curriculum goes and what the expectations are for these little darlings that were just my precious 4 year olds. I won't be getting the same students as last year so I won't have to worry about looking at them like they are still 4 but with a new set of kiddos I am interested to see the difference between those who attended Pre-k and those who have not been in school before. Which brings me to another subject...room change, oh the horror of changing from a nice room with lots of storage and windows to a tiny, windowless room with no storage. Have any of you been in this situation before? How was it going up a year? Were you surprised by anything? I would love to hear your thoughts. I have already completely changed my theme from a jungle to The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I am dying to get into my room and start decorating so I can show you all of the cute stuff I made for my theme, but that will have to wait till August 6th. I hope you are all having a wonderful summer! Till next time, Christine

Friday, June 20, 2014

The importance of building language skills in Early Childhood

As a Mom to two boys 11 and 6 and as a Pre-Kindergarten teacher I have seen first hand the successes and failures that children experience based on their early childhood experiences with language. My oldest son was diagnosed at 4 with receptive and expressive language disorders, he spent over a year 3x per week in language therapy to build his language skills. Receptive language disorder is the inability to keep words that you have heard and expressive language disorder is the inability to retrieve and say those words. You can see where we had a big problem on our hands. Not only could Conner not retain words but he also could not find them in his brain to say them. If you think of the brain like a filing cabinet it is as if his words were filed in the wrong drawer and were lost when needed. There was no specific language in our home, objects were described as "things" and this often lead to frustration for Conner when he could not describe what he was trying to say. His lack of language skills made it difficult for him to learn how to read and he struggled in all areas of school. We had to expose him to as much specific language as possible through therapy, reading, and naming every object we used throughout the day. There was an intentional attempt to expose him to as much language as possible every day. I am happy to say that because of all of the intentional work we put into Conner's language development he is now a successful student with excellent grades who loves learning. These types of disorders and a general lack of language development especially for our ELL students is missed so often in children. We as educators see the frustration, lack of progress and dislike of reading and school. This translates into my classroom as a deliberate strategy to make sure that each child obtains and expresses specific language. This means that words like "thing" and "that" are not allowed and children must use their words and not hand gestures or pointing to tell me what they need or want. My Pre-Kindergarten department has adopted the Handwriting Without Tears Language and Literacy Curriculum as well as their Word Time Curriculum. I absolutely love the word skills, knowledge and vocabulary that is built through both of these curriculums. Through reading and conversation young children need to be exposed to as many words as possible, this also means that they need to understand what these words mean to help them make connections in the brain. The more interested they are in learning new vocabulary the higher success they will show in reading, math and socialization. Children need to be given the tools to communicate from the time they are infants and the exposure to new language should not diminish as they grow older. Being read to, reading on their own and literature rich environments create many opportunities for children to obtain and use new language. Rhymes, riddles, fingerplays and poems are also excellent and engaging ways to build language skills. Matching, categorizing, sorting and naming common objects as well as new objects can also stimulate language development and vocabulary skills. Making your home or classroom literacy rich is essential to grow life long learners. Having exposure to books several times a day, labeling common objects and toy bins and writing words as you use them will all pay off with a strong language base. I intentionally expose my children to language in my classroom everyday through our word of the day calendar, our picture word wall, reading storybooks, going through the Daily 5, listening skills worksheets and encouraging each child to use specific words through conversation. This also means our children need to be "unplugged" from all of the "silent" electronic devices we let them play with. This is why Baby Einstein ended up impacting children's speech and language so detrimentally, because there was no language! The pictures and music were captivating but if you don't know what the object being shown is called what else would you call it besides "thing" or use your finger to point to it. As children grow older with a lack of language skills they are unable to write proficiently and translate math problems from words to numbers. This can severely impact school success and can certainly be responsible for failing grades and an overall lack of progression in learning. So, as teacher to teacher or as teacher to parent I would strongly advise you to make an intentional effort to expose your children to an abundance of language everyday, the impact on their development will show throughout their entire lives. From birth all the way through their schooling language aquisition is the most important skill they will need for success.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Well, I'm back!

Hello Everyone, I have finally returned to my blogging world after a long break. It has been a hard year and while I have wanted to sit and blog often there just wasn't the time or energy. So here is the jist of it, I started off the school year 30lbs lighter thanks to an ugly strain of cyclospora (so my body was weak going into the year). September seemed uneventful as I happily awaited my brothers wedding which was going to send me from Texas to New Jersey and 3 days off of school but then my husbands grandmother passed and a 2nd trip to New Jersey was planned, putting me 2 more days in the hole. 5 days gone by mid October and then the big stuff started, are you ready?....Appendicitis with emergency surgery over thanksgiving break, tried to go back to work early and didn't even make it 3 hours! Another 5 days down the tubes. Then the next week the flu, of course setting me back another 2 days. Are you keeping track that is 10 days before Christmas! We only have PTO for 7! I slept through my Christmas break to try to go back strong and January went well, even February was uneventful but then March hit....Emergency gallbladder surgery, out 2 full weeks, if you are seeing the issue that is 20 days! Who misses 20 days of school? Well, apparently I do but I have to say that once returning from spring break I was able to finish the year without a hitch. My Administration, fellow teachers and families were awesome. I am thankful to every single one of them. They are the only reason I am able to come out smiling on the other side! So what is the point to my sharing this with you? To let you know that God is good all the time, He will surround you with everything you need in your situation. To encourage you that even tough years can have happy endings and to let you know that no matter what we think we are not superman or superwoman and that was my lesson learned! When I pushed too hard God took me down and I am forever grateful that He loves me enough to see me through anything. So what is next for The Crazy Pre-K Classroom? My plan is to enjoy this summer with my two boys, work on Teachers pay Teachers Units and to self publish my first book through Amazon. AND SLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!! Oh, and did I mention we also had a huge, horrific, terrible, anxiety provoking case of lice from November to February!!! Till next time, Christine

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Individual Guided Reading Binders: How to Kick start your reading groups!

For quite a while now I have been looking for a Guided Reading system that worked for my classroom. I needed something that the class would get excited about, kept the parents informed of progress and was easy for me to maintain. After looking through various blogs, products and polling other teachers I realized I had to create my own system. There just wasn't anything that met enough of my needs out there that I could find. So for several months now I have been piecing together what may be the best thing I have ever made for my classroom. INDIVIDUAL GUIDED READING BINDERS!!!!! Here is a view of one of the front cover choices:
I had always used simple folders with a reading log and the weeks books. There was no space to send home more literacy building resources that the children could work on. When I would send home extra resources in the kiddos backpacks I would either never get them back or they would get lost in the child's home for a while. I also wanted everything for each group in one place, making our limited meeting time more efficient. I am no longer hunting for supplies, everything is inside the binder. It is also easy to switch out resources, communicate with parents, complete assessments and conduct smooth reading groups. These guided reading binders fix so many of the problems I was having. Here are views of the binder spine inserts, inside and back cover choices:
Sure, this took some time and money to put together. I used some Amazon Gift Cards I had been given by my students parents and some Amazon gift cards I had earned through swagbucks (to find out about earning through swagbucks use this link: Swagbucks). In the INDIVIDUAL GUIDED READING BINDERS FILE I have outlined and given pictures of each item I am using in my binders. I purchased most of the items on Amazon and a few at my local dollar store. These binders have turned out to be well worth the original time and money. My kiddos love them, my parents are excited to work with their children and I am one happy teacher! Here is how they work:
I purchased everything I needed and gathered it on my kitchen table. You can get as simple or detailed as you want with these binders. Several things I bought were used in more than one binder making things a bit more economical. I outline all of this in my unit on TpT. I assembled the binders, printed out the covers and introduced them to my students. I sent an email to my parents preparing them for this binder, there is also a section within the binder that explains it's contents and provides activity ideas for at home. Each binder has a pocket for manipulatives, a dry erase surface, reading log, lesson plans, parent resources, learning posters, extra support books and assessments. I also created a master binder for myself with copies of everything included in the student binder plus pages that I use during guided reading. Here is my binder:
These are just a few of the pages in my binder. Most can also be used as worksheets or copied off and laminated for repeated use at the guided reading table. Here are some views of the inside of the student binders:
So now that we all have our binders how do we use them? Simple, each morning the children unload their binder into a bucket in the hall which I later bring into the classroom. Then when it is time each child brings their binder to the table when called. We start by reviewing this weeks sight words, vocabulary words and learning posters. Once we have done that we go through a few of my teaching pages, reviewing syllables, rhymes, decoding etc. Then we get down to reading our book. While the group talks about comprehension I write their homework in their log and record anything necessary in their assessment section. I go over sight word assessments on Fridays making my groups 3-5 minutes longer than my other three days. Download the full INDIVIDUAL GUIDED READING BINDER UNIT which includes full instructions, pictures and editable files. Here we are enjoying our binders, I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!
WHEW! That was a long one! Thanks for sticking with it!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Organizing your teacher resources- CVC Teacher Resources and Centers Unit Organization

Hello Everyone, I hope you have all been well. I am home this week recovering from gallbladder surgery which has given me some much needed catch up time for assessments, lesson planning and TpT unit prep and organization. I have been working on a series of teacher resources for introducing and teaching vowels sound and blends/digraphs. I posted about my Digraph/Initial Blend unit last week and have now listed a short vowel unit. I will hopefully have the long vowel unit finished up here in the next few days. Each of these units take some prep and if you are like me card stock and laminating are an obsession. However, this prep pays of with colorful, engaging resources that children can use for years. Each of these resources is color coded and have cohesive posters and resources that the children find easy to follow. Since these are large units with lots of color you will want to make sure to protect your investment by organizing them in a way that keeps everything together and right at your fingertips. So, here is my suggestion: first I purchased a set of 50 poly envelopes form amazon.com for a few dollars. I had these left over from some organization projects I had done last year in my classroom and they are perfect because they come in a variety of colors that can be matched to the set you are organizing. Here is a picture:
So, once I printed, laminated and trimmed all of my resources I made a pile of each color/vowel resource. I have used the "u" set to show you what is included for each letter. There was no yellow poly envelope so I used a white one which you can see through so there is no question as to what is inside.
Each envelope has 2 pockets: one open and one with a snap. I placed all of the posters and center boards in the open pocket. Then I took the ABC pieces, binder ring resources, picture/words cards, sentence strips and pocket chart header inside the large snap pocket for safe keeping. This way I can easily grab one of the posters without disturbing the smaller loose pieces. I also placed the task cards you see on the tongue depressors into the blue "A" envelope since that is the first envelope I will be using. I will keep the task cards out from the start to the end of this unit and pull them at random to challenge the class to think about using the sounds and identifying them. The envelope then slips easily into my filing cabinet for easy finding when needed. You can find all of these resources in my CVC Short Vowel Teacher Resource and Center Unit and my Digraph/Initial Blend Teacher Resources and Centers Unit. Till next time!