Welcome!

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 to 2 boys, and a Christian Kindergarten Teacher. Besides spending time with my family, I enjoy sewing, scrapbooking, quilting and creating innovative, hands on lessons for my students.

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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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Blog Archive

Monday, April 30, 2012

Numbers, Sentence building and I Spy Sight Words!

We started our Numbers in the Ocean booklet today with great success. I was a little worried that there would be too many instructions to follow but my kiddos did great! Here you can see that my children were able to follow 10 directions with a sample hanging on the board that they could see from their seats.
1. Trace the number.
2. Trace the number word
3. Read the sentencs and circle the number word.
4. Write the number word
5. Write the number 5 times
6. Color the correct amount of boxes to represent the number.
7. Color the correct box on the number line
8. Tally the number.
9. Color the objects.
10. Using small movements, color the bubble border!
 
 This was so amazing to watch! They were so intent on doing each task and doing it neatly, I was so proud!

We also started our ocean themed sentence building booklet today. I used this as a literacy center during reading groups. The children were engaged and challenged. I gave them one sentence at a time and they had to show me their finished page before recieving the next sentence. I love how this little girl put hair and eyelashes on her crab, it is so cute!


This is one of my I spy sight word printables found in my Unit. The children had so much fun hunting those sight words and copying them to a sheet of paper that I simply divided into three sections. I labeled each printable with the numbers 1,2,3 so that the kiddos would not try to do the same sheet twice. I can't wait to make a set of these with letters and numbers for the start of next year.

Altogehter I am quite pleased with the work my 4-5 year olds are doing, I am most impressed with how independently they are completing this work. Each of these activities can be found in my TpT store by clicking on the link below each picture.
Enjoy!



Saturday, April 28, 2012

The importance of teaching decoding in early reading!

So yesturday I went with my 3rd grader to the Maybourn Museum on the Baylor University campus, this is a very nice museum and worth the trip if you live within a couple of hours of Waco TX. While going through our guided tour I came across this sign on the wall. I could read it without trouble but it got me thinking about a few things.

My first thought was "Is this what it looks like to try to read as a young child, just a bunch of letters with no meaning?"
My second thought was "Is this similar to what text looks like to children with dyslexia and dysgraphia and other learning disabilities?"

Granted I know that dyslexics reverse letters and dysgraphics flip their letters but I am just thinking of the confusion these issues would cause during the crucuial points in which we learn to read as children.

So, this is when I got to thinking about the importance of decoding words and letter/sound recognition. Without these two skills even reading this jumbled up sign would be impossible. Here are some strategies I use with my 4 year olds to build letter/sound recognition and decoding skills.

Letter/Sound Recognition:

1. Everytime I say the sound I point to the letter, not naming the letter until the sounds are solidified, separating the sound from the letter name gives them only one part to remember at a time. I also assign a movement to go with the sound for example when I say "a,a,a (sound) I use my fists under my eyes to act as if I am a crying baby."

2. During handwriting time I name the letter and leave out the sound, if someone says it I will reinforce but I want them to learn them separatly at first.

3. We play sound bingo, fly swatting the proper letter when the sound is given and literacy centers that focus on matching uppercase and lowercase letters.

Decoding:

1. I use small blocks to push together and pull apart words, these are blank and the word is given in sound not in text. Each child gets three blocks and a sheet of paper with three sections. As I give the word then ask the children to put a block in each section as I give that sound. I practice the sounds in order first then have the children remove the blocks and practice identifying the middle and ending sound. I ask several children to decode the word on their own and help as needed.

2. Once my first objective is solidified I start giving the children cards with the words on them to practice decoding different sets of words. These are only CVC words, no consonant blends or long vowels at this point.

3. Once they are fluent in decoding with the cards I label the cubes with the letters, consonants in blue and vowels in red. The children themn practice putting together their on words, pulling them apart and recording them.(I will post my recording sheet on the freebie page later this week since it is saved to my computer at school)

I hope you find these ideas helpful in your reading instruction, don't forget to follow me for a chance to win my 100th follower giveaway!

Till next time,


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

100th Member Giveaway!

Now that I am more than half way to 100 followers I figure it is about time to announce my giveaway! Now brace yourselves this is going to be HUGE!

Once I have 100 followers who leave their email address in a comment attached to this post I will email EVERYMEMBER a unit from my TpT store. As a default I will send my Insect Invasion unit, however if this is not a unit you could use or you already own it leave a note of which unit you would like.

If you are already a member please leave your email in a comment linked to this post!!!

So now you are wondering what the catch is (at least I would be at this point):
1. Leave your email, blog address and name in a comment on this post with your desired TpT Unit
2. Follow me here and on TPT
3. Download a free TpT file and leave a comment
3. Post on your blog about this giveaway, spread the word to coworkers, homeschoolers and Moms of Pre-K kiddos

That's it, this is my way of saying Thank You for being wonderful followers and educators!

Blessings till next time

Classroom Organization Challenge Continued!

In my previous post I told you a bit about my organizational struggles and my habit of storing school items at home. I know I'm not the only one! Here is my starting point, these cabinets have not been truly cleaned out since the beginning of school this year and they are starting to drive me crazy. Since we end school May 25th I am just starting to remove items that can go home, freeing up some space for supplies.

This is my largest cabinet that I spoke of in my last post. There is not much I can do about the bottom area except add a tension rod with theme bags. I have to be able to put the rolling carts in each week. I will however go through all of the filing drawers and tower buckets to see where the storage can improve. I am hoping that all of the buckets and supplies sitting on top of the towers will easily organize into the theme bags and make more space.
In the top section I need to find a better way to store file folder games, my science center supplies and my treasure box. Quite honestly I am thinking of nixing the treasure box all together and just storing a baggie of DumDum Lollipops on the tension rod?

Here is my problem cabinet! books, books, books! They are so hard to store and keep organized, I just end up shoving them into this bottom cabinet along with literacy games that are in huge boxes. The one saving grace with the books are the Ikea red and blue bins. I was able to separate most of my books by like subjects and label the bucket on the side. I separated the sections of books with a piece of notepad paper, this way it was easy for me to grab out my transportation books etc. The problem comes when the books are bigger than the buckets and there is no more room in the cabinet. I need a solution to this problem besides shoving them on top?
I think I will be investing in some streamlined plastic containers with lids so I can get rid of these huge  boxes. The top half of this cabinet needs a complete overhaul, I need to find a way to fit all of the little people houses in one section, they take up so much room but my kids love them. I have a hard time locating certain math and literacy games in this cabinet because they are deep and things get hidden behind one another. I think clear plastic containers that are labeled will help me here.

I would love to hear from you if you have any tips on organizing cabinets that see so much turnaround in supplies. I have just as much as is stored in these cabinets still at home, but I am determined to fit it all in!

Till next time,

Under the Sea: Ocean Themed Math and Literacy Unt

I was able to finish my Under the Sea:Ocean themed math and literacy unit last night, it is jam packed with hands on learning fun for the class. With a teacher big book and 2 student completed books the literacy aspect of this unit is great. My students especially enjoyed completing the "what lives in the ocean" student book where they were able to write the name of the animal and then spell the name in stickers. You could also use small letter die cuts, stamps, magazine cuttings, foam letters and other letter supplies you may already have.


I have/who has ABC, 1-50, 5's, 10's, 100's, sight words.

18 read the word pictures with 3 recording sheets.

Page from the teachers 16 page big book.

My ocean spelling book: write the word and use stickers, die cuts, stamps etc. to complete.

Starfish sight word worksheets.

Find the correct nubmer word cards. Can be done with clothespins or bingo markers.

 
Counting by 2's. 5's. 10's and 100's practice sheets.

Please click the link below to view the preview unit or to purchase this great unit. It is $7.50 on TpT!


Under-the-Sea-Ocean-Themed-Math-and-Literacy-Unit

Please consider following my blog and my TpT store, I would love to hear feedback from you!
Enjoy,
Christine

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Ocean Theme Read the Room Freebie!

I have just started putting together an Ocean themed unit and thought I would offer the first part as a freebie! This read the room download comes with 18 cards and 3 recording sheets. Look for my Under the Sea Math and Literacy Unit later this week on TpT and Teachers Notebook. Click this link to download for free from Teachers Pay Teachers: Under-The-Sea-Ocean-themed-read-the-room-freebie


Friday, April 20, 2012

Storage ideas for a small classroom!

If you are anything like me you have more in your classroom than you can store so you take the extra home and store it in the attic or garage. Well, my husband has not been so pleased with my school to home storage arrangement and has challenged me to a classroom storage redo before school ends! That's only 5 weeks to revamp my storage solutions and fit everything into my classroom! Yikes, this could be difficult for a person like me! This will require several posts since I started my cleanout today.

My classroom has a wall of cabinets, 1/2 mine and 1/2 for the church that uses to room on Sundays. Every Friday I pack up everything I use for the week to then pull it out again on Monday. It is imperative that I put everything back in it's place because if I get lazy I won't be able to find my supplies on Monday. Here are my top tips to start organizing and I will post my progress as I discover more ways to store my classroom supplies:

1. IKEA: I love the Ikea red and blue plastic bins, they are $1.99 each. These are especially helpful for sorting books, storing toys on shelves and I use them as cubbies in the hall for my kiddos this year since I have a child with severe food allergies. On this shelf I have one red bucket that holds all of the kiddos journals. These buckets also stack and nestle creating a tower or storing inside themselves.


2. TOWERS OF BUCKETS: On the left hand side of this picture you can see 2 rolling carts with 10 buckets each. I purchased these at Michaels when they were half off, I paid $34.99 each and it was well worth the price. They easily roll to store in a cabinet over the weekend and I am no longer trying to stuff boxes full of manipulatives we use daily back inot cabinets on Fridays.

3. STACKED FILING CABINETS: I have one large cabinet that is taller than me and just open space. I used to just shove stuff in there and half of the vertical space would be wasted. It was tall enough for two filing cabinets stacked on top of each other. This cabinet is just wide enough to contain these filing cabinets and my 2 rolling carts. This helps me to organize paperwork, store my Betty Luken flannel board set and one filing cabinet has 2 drawers where I can store my laptop over the weekend.
I also slide my bulletin board supplies alond the side between the filing cabinet and the wall which keeps them flat and ready to be pulled out whenever necessary.

4. SHEET AND BEDDING BAGS: Whenever I purchase sheets or bedding I always save the zipper bags. I used to use them at home but now I have found them useful to store anything from books, toys, manipulatives and little people playsets. The best thing about them is they are flexible allowing you to push them into spaces that would not accomodate a bin.

5. TENSION RODS AND BOOK BAGS: Possibly my very favorite trick is a tension rod hanging in a cabinet with book bags hooked to it. You could store just about anything that isn't too heavy. I particularly like to gather materials for theme units and weekly lesson plans in the bags and hang them with monthly dividers!

I can't wait to succeed with my husbands challenge! I will keep you posted! Enjoy,

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Congratulations to Christi Squires!

Hello Everyone,

     It is giveaway time again, this month's prize goes to Christi Squires. She has won my Bug-Jar-Math
Unit from TpT. She will enjoy 39 pages of bug themed counting activities including 1-10 bug jars for counting and one to one coorespondence, worksheets, sorting mats and more. Thank you all for being followers!


Next months giveaway is: Frog-Fun-Math-Centers (I changed it to a larger and more recent unit!)

Frog fun math centers contains nine printable centers and practice worksheets for your pre-k to 1st grade students. Included centers teach and review: time, number words to 50, patterns, addition, subtraction, greater than, less than and equal to,non-satndard measurement and more. You can view some of my students work from this unit here on my blog under the posts:
Tips for teaching number word recognition
Clothespin color matching, counting and addition center
Why teach non-standard measurement?
Teaching time and clock concepts in Pre-K
Teaching young children essential math skills

My next giveaway will be May 15th! Make sure to join this blog for a chance to win and check out my items on TpT!
Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tips for Teaching Number Word Recognition

We all know that teaching number words can be a challenge, not only do most of them require memorization but the connection between the word and number can be a challenge for young children. Here are some tips to making your instruction of number words more successful.

1. Display large number cards that have the number word on each. These were a free set from 1-30 I found on teacherspayteachers.com, they are perfect for my jungle theme. (8.5x11)
2. Use cards with the number word only and flash them as you count. Practice this every morning during your number word recognition unit.

3. Create or find a center that practices matching the number to its word. Here is the one i am using right now and the children just love it! They are having so much success using this unit and being able to check their answers against the large number cards i have hanging on the wall. You can find this center in my Insect Invasion Unit. Click this link to view: Bugs-Math-and-Literacy


4. Use a cut and paste activity to match the word to its number. My class worked for 20 minutes silently on this, the cutting and pasting was fun for them and they had to concentrate on placing the correct number owrd right next to the number. I was so proud of them! This is available in my Frog Fun Unit on TpT: Click this link to view: Frog-Fun-Math-Centers


5. Use a read the room activity to write the number words next to the correct number. Instruct the children to count the objects on the cards, then write the word on the recording sheet. My class especially enjoys read the room this year, I am using it in many different ways, this particular set of cards from 1-50 is available in my Frog Fun unit onTpT, click this link to view: Frog-Fun-Math-Centers

I hope these tips and resources are helpful to your instruction.
Till next time, 



Friday, April 13, 2012

MONTHLY GIVEAWAY ***Bug Jar Math**** 2 days left!

This months giveaway is my Bug-Jar-Math unit from TpT! Currently my best seller! Join my blog for a chance to win! Below are details of what is included in the great unit:

This is a set of Math Mats that help kids learn numbers, counting, one to one correspondence, patterning, sorting, colors, number recognition and order, visual discrimination, math vocabulary and various other math concepts. Use groups of bugs to teach skip counting. Use the sorting mats to assess sorting skills. Use the skills worksheets for extra practice. This set includes everything you need to do a unit on numbers 1-10 with insects/ bugs.

Included are:

10 jar mats with 1-10 bugs inside for counting and matching (one to one coorespondence)

10 jar mats with the number above for counting

3 pages of bugs for completing everything in the packet

1 page of extension ideas

5 sorting mats with 4 jars each with 1 bug in each jar

1 matching worksheet, cut and paste the correct bug

1 size order worksheet

1 how many legs do I have mat

1 sort by color mat

1 above or below mat

1 left or right mat

1 like me or not like me mat

To see more images and a preview file of this unit click on this link: Bug-Jar-Math
Should you win please follow up with me and post a comment on how you will use the unit and how your class enjoyed it, Thanks!

Next months giveaway: Welcome to the Jungle Pattern Unit

Good luck!


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Clothespin Color Matching, Counting and Addition Center

Clothespins come in handy at home for this or that but in my classroom they mean serious business. This week I am using my new clothespin center to reinforce color recognition, color words, counting and addition/subtraction concepts.
First I printed and laminated the color word cards on cardstock. I cut them out and used them for our read the room activity. I used wood clothespins and colored on them with markers, for white I used white tape that I had. I intentionally did not make any blue clothespins to practice adding/subtracting zero. This seems to be easy for some and hard for others.

We then matched all of the clothespins to the correct card and counted them.

We recorded how many clothespins were on each card.

After recording the numbers we moved onto adding 2 cards together and filling in the addition problems on the recording sheet. The students did so well, I was impressed by how much attention they paid to the counting and recording sheet. For my lower students I know this helped to solidify the addition concept and for my higher students it was good practice!

This center is available in my TpT store in my Pond and Frog Math Centers Unit, please click on the link below to see more of this unit.

Follow my blog and my TpT store for more learning units and teaching ideas!

Till next time,

Why teach non-standard measurement?

Non-standard measurement is using common objects to measure versus using a ruler or measuring tape. You can use just about anything, like legos, blocks, pencils. Using common objects and pictures make the introduction of measurement fun. I have found that using pictures of animals from the weekly/monthly theme to measure items in the classroom is fun and kinesthetic for my students. I have created several different worksheets that teach non-standard measurement:
On this worksheet the children were asked to cut out a set of each of the bugs shown. Each bug is a different size therefore requiring more or less bugs to measure. I instructed them to start at the bottom of the tree and work their way up to the top. They were then to count how many bugs it took to measure the tree and record that number next to the proper bug. Even though this student's 6 is backwards she ended up with all of the correct answers.

Once we were finished with the worksheet I had each child pick a pile of one type of bug, they were then allowed to measure items in our room. They measured legos, tables, window sills, the sink, my computer, blocks and much more, As they were doing this they would just shout out how long each item was. The next day I gave them the common room item worksheet to complete, which has several of these common items with a space for recording and 2 open spots for them to measure anything they want.

These worksheets and bug patterns are in my Bugs Mtah and Literacy Unit. Click the link below to see the details and more images.

Please join my blog and follow me on TpT for more teaching ideas!
Till next time,

Teaching Time and Clock concepts in Pre-K

I have found that teaching time in Pre-k can be a challenge but with the right appraoch children can learn to tell time. Standing in the way are the enourmous number of digital clocks that children see. So here is where I start:

1. The Clocks: I print each child a full sheet sized clock on cardstock and laminated. I code the hands by color with the hour hand being red and the minute hand being blue. I attach these with brads, hour hand on top. I make sure my clock hands are easily distinguished from each other in size so that children can manipulate them easily.

2. Initial Introduction: I start with time to the hour, i use a play clock to show them and also tell them the real time on our classroom clock. When I catch the clock close to a certain hour I try to get the children to look at the classroom clock and tell me what time it is. Generally they pick up time to the hour easily, it becomes more challenging as you break the hour up into minutes.

3. Experimenting Center: After initial instruction I place the clocks in a center. I allow the children to play with them. I give them a laminated sheet to check off each time as we practice it. (still time to the hour)

4. Practice: Once my students have completed the experimenting center I assess how they are learning the concept by giving them 2 worksheets to complete. Below are examples of them that my students completed.
 
This first sheet asks the students to write the hour and minute hand in blank clocks. This is one of my average students nad I was truly pleased with how well she did on this sheet.

This sheet requires the student to write the shown time in analog form. This is also one of my average students, she did get the answers correct even though some of her numbers still need work on formation. It does show me that she understands the concept of time to the ohur but needs reinforcment in number formation.

These 2 worksheets and full page clocks are available in my TpT store, click on the link below to see the details. Please follow my blog and TpT store for more great Early Childhood lessons.

Till next time,

Teaching young children essential math skills.

As a Pre-K teacher I approach math a bit differently than my Elementary Teacher Friends. While Elementary is mostly focused on numbers and operations the pre-k classroom is focused on concepts that will build math knowledge leading to the operations. Below I have posted some pictures of a math concept packet that my class has just completed.

Here my students completed a matching worksheet that builds visual discrimination skills, a key concept in math. Counting, grouping, matching and sorting are all essential skills used in lifelong learning.

Here my students have placed bugs in order from smallest to largest. Ordering by size, classification by detail and the concept of left to right are not only essential to math but reading as well.

Here my students are classifying by detail, this in particular is by number of legs. Visual discrimination, counting and grouping are all used here on one sheet.

Colors are also considered in early childhood math lessons. Patterns, matching, color words, color recognition, shapes and sizes are all considered essential concepts for early math development.

Distinguishing details is crucial for the type of math children will learn in elementary school. Here my students are completing a page that requies them to match on the left and find those that don't match on the right. This also works on spacial skills and following directions as some of them are not reading yet.

Reinforcing the left to right concept in everything is important because as the children grow math will turn into word problems and all math is also written left to right. The L to R concept is essential to learning in all facets of life so therefore try to reinforce it through all lessons.

Essential Math Skills for Early Childhood:
1. left to right
2. counting
3. grouping
4. sorting
5. patterning
6. classification by detail
7. size
8. position
9.words related to math
10. 1 to 1 correspondence

By introducing and working on the above skills in Pre-K you teach children how math works without truly teaching math in a traditional sense. I am always amazed that in the second half of the year my class is adding and subtracting with little or no traditional adding or subtracting instruction. It becomes natural for the children to take the next steps on their own and essentially teach themselves through the concepts introduced. Also many of these concepts overlap and can be easily combined to boost learning.

By placing all of these skills in one packet I can get a true sense of how my students are doing and any areas that need further development. All of these worksheets are available in my TpT unit, click on the link below to view. Visit my store for more math concept work and follow my blog for more math and literacy ideas to come.

Till next time,

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Activities and Ideas for Pond & Frog themed learning!

Studying the Pond Habitat and all about Frogs is one of my favorite units of the year. We are lucky enough to have a pond close enough to walk to and take our students on the Friday our unit is over. I cannot wait to go! In the meantime here are a few ideas you can plan in your classroom to help children understand ponds, frogs, ducks, fish and all of the wildlife that relies on the pond as their habitat.

1. Create a pond center (with water or waterless whatever your school allows) You can do this 2 ways, either in a small bucket on a table or in a small kiddy pool. If you choose to include water you will need to make sure you find items for the pond that are made of materials that can get wet without getting ruined (ex. rubber duckies instead of stuffed ducks). Start by lining your chosen bucket with sand, add water if you so choose, make sure the sand is deep enough to hold up the flowers and pond plants you want the children to decorate the pond with. Gather the following supplies (some you may already have, most available at the dollar store).

pond plants (like you would find for a fishbowl)
pond flowers
rubber fish and insects (place a magnet on each for "fishing")
aquarium skimmers or slotted spooons for collecting fish and bugs
variety of rubber or stuffed ducks, geese, rabbits, etc.
bug jars
fishing poles made from dowel sticks, yarn and a magnet for a hook

Optional but fun additions:
magnifying glasses
scientist coats
color mixing paddles
tweezers
jumping frogs (the ones you push down with a finger and they jump off the table)

You can use a dollar store shower curtain spread out below the center for easier cleanup. Turn this center into a literacy or number center/ lesson by mixing laminated letter and number cards into the sand and allowing the children to fish them out and identify what is on each card, classify between letters and numbers etc.

2.  Decorate your library with pond animal puppets, books, a blue sheet for water, lily pad cut outs and long grass pieces you can cut from board paper or buy at the dollar store or Michaels.

3. Make egg carton pond animals and create a pond in your room. Cut out a large piece of blue board paper to make water, cut green lily pads and place on top. Use 1 egg carton section and punch holes for 4 pipe cleaner eggs at the bottom. Paint green, glue on googly eyes, and curl up a red sheet of construction paper cut 1/2 inch by 4" and glue for the tongue. Place these in your pond. If you google egg carton animals you will find images of many more animals to make.

4. If you cannot visit the pond see if anyone in your class or school has a pet frog, turtle, fish. Anything real that can be brought in and talked about. include specific pond vocabulary and names of animals/insects common to ponds.

5. Play leapfrog, crawling turtles, catterpillar and bunny rabbit. Each time you dismiss from the carpet have your children act like an animal or insect from the pond.

6. Make turtle shells, gather the 3 dozen flat egg cartons, enough for 1 for each child. Snip the corners to make the "shell" round. Paint with green, yellow and brown on cotton balls. Attach yarn long enough to go from the top of the carton, around the arms and down to the bottom of the carton. The children will put them on like a backpack. You can create a snapping turtle mask by folding a paper plate in half, painting, snipping a triangle out where the mouth would be, eye holes and nose holes. Tie with yarn around the head.

I hope you enjoy these activities with your students, please follow my blog for more ideas!

Till next time,

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bubba Watson wins the Masters! Another ADD Success story!

O.K. so you may be wondering why in the world I would be putting a post about Golf on my Pre-K sight. Well, I hate golf it is boring and long, I have had no interest in it at all until today, Easter Sunday as Bubba Watson and a guy from South Africa went on a shooting match for the win. It wasn't the adrenaline that got my attention but my dad saying, " If Bubba Watson wins it will be a popular win, he's and ADD guy like you and your brother."

Just like my obsession with Michael Phelps at the summer olympics a few years ago I find enjoyment in seeing those who struggled in school find success. As my Dad stated before I myself am ADD and my brother is ADHD. I spent the last hour looking at interviews about Bubba Watson and not only found that he describes himself as a typical ADD kid but also that he is a Christian! I have to say I may be following his golf career from now on.

This is just to say WE CAN DO ANYTHING to those teachers and administrators who said we couldn't, to say that WE CAN LEARN if we are met where we are and understood for who God made us and that WE ARE SUCESSFUL PEOPLE who can use what some see as weaknesses and turn them into strengths!

You can probably tell that I have strong opinions for those who are diagnosed with learning disabilities and then thrown into a classroom where they are just passed on instead of taught. I do think the school system is doing better by kids like me in this century and hopefully the school system and teachers will continue to seek out best practices and teaching strategies that allow everyone to be successful in their own way.

Go Bubba Watson!

Happy Easter,
Christine

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Keeping the class occupied during reading groups.

So, I was asked the other day how I could possibly manage reading groups with 4 year olds? Isn't that impossible? So, with all this disbelief I though I would share some thoughts on 4 year olds, what they are capable of and how I manage my reading groups.

I start with my 3 C's:
      Connect
      Clarify
      Correct

1. Connect: I make sure in the beginning of the year to get to know the learning style of each of my students and meet them where they are, this is especially important with 4 year olds who may be experiencing school and learning for the first time. This is also imperative because there is so much development going on in this period of a child's life. When I started this year I had 3 students who were still 3, 9 students who were various degrees of 4 and 2 students who were already 5. I know what you are thinking, how can I bridge the gap in development: differentiated instruction is second nature to Pre-K teachers, you never have a whole class that is at the same place in development at the same time. We were doing it before it ever had a name!

2. Clarify: Four year olds are still at a stage in development where they want to please you. Make sure you are setting them up to succeed when you give them directions. Use specific words, only the words you need and don't expect them to follow more than 3 directions at a time.
For example:
Do not say: " Hey you go grab that toy and put it where it goes"
Instead: (make eye contact) "Conner please pick up the train and place it in it's basket" give the child a few seconds to respond then address them again, "Conner thank you now please get in line" Notice how I broke up the directions into 2 different statements and allowed the child time to process and complete the first task before giving him the next expectation.

3. Correct: When I see a child begin to display behavior that will eventually interfere with my group instruction I address it immediatly. I do not start reading groups untill January which gives me from September to December to solidify behavior, build working stamina and train students to sit quiety and work when required.

Once I start my reading groups in January I have already leveled my students to work with like learners and somewhat on the same level. I hold reading groups three days a week and use the other 2 days for whole group instruction. We practice the reading group transitions and procedures for several days before holding a true reading group. The children in the reading group area are reading quietly to themselves and others during these practice days.

I have 4 stations with 14 children, each group meets for 15 minutes with a 2 minute transition time between groups. During our practice days the children are also practicing independence in the classroom, they are not allowed to disturb me so they have to know what to do next. Once they have completed their must do work they have several options, they may:
1. Read a book at their seat.
2. Get a quiet center to play at their seat.
3. Draw or write.

Given these options the class is occupied even if they finish what I have assigned early. They know where each option is and can easily access them without help. They also know that they may use the bathroom, get a tissue or address any of their own needs without asking, the only rules are they cannot leave the room and they must go straight back to their seat once finished.

During transitions we stretch, talk, move, sing and get to our next station. Depending on the mood of my students on any given day I may give them up to 5 minutes in order for them to be successful in the next rotation.

Rotations:

1. Reading with teacher on the floor cushions. ( I am postioned where I can see everyone at all times)

2. Table 1: Worksheet trays: Each of my 4 groups has a paper tray with their worksheets stapled for the week, each group has a different set of worksheets to complete. I go over the directions during the transtion time between each group so the details are fresh in their minds. If they do not understand how to do something I tell them to go onto the next sheet and they can ask me during the next transition time. The tray travels with them to each station.

3. Table 2: Math Center: I place a math center with recording sheet for the students to complete, once done they place the recording sheet in their paper tray and choose a done early option.

4. Table 3: Literacy Center: Same as table 2 but with a literacy activity instead.

Now this is not always as perfect as it may sound in this post. There are days when the announcements come blarring over the loudspeaker right in the middle, days when one group needs 20 minutes of instruction and another group only needs 10 and days when the children just need a play break in between groups. It is o.k. to give 4 year olds what they need in the moment, they will learn what you are teaching as long as you are in tune with what they need. I try to just go with the flow and meet my students where they are. It is crucial that Pre-K teachers are flexible and willing to work with their students and not against them.

Hint: I also play classical music in the background and dim the lights over the tables when there is plenty of natural light coming through the windows. This helps with calming and noise interruptions.

I hope you find my procedure for reading groups helpful and this encourages you that reading groups can be done efficiently and effectively even with young children. I would love to hear how you manage your small groups and have a discussion about best practices for small groups in Early Childhood Classrooms.

Blessings,
Christine

New Freebie! Frog Color Word Read The Room!

Here is a free set of Read the Room cards which teach the color words. This free file also includes a recording sheet. These are from my new Pond & Frog Math Centers Unit on TpT and Teachers Notebook. Click the link below to download this freebie from TpT or the link to the right to go to my TpT store. I would love to know what you think of this, please leave feeback and comments.
Enjoy,
Christine
Pond-Frog-Color-Word-Read-the-Room-Freebie

So, I'm one of those romantic girls...

I just had to post something for my hubby today because I have been thinking about this since a wedding we attended a few weeks ago. I know this has nothing to do with education but I also want to remember on this blog that I am more than a teacher, I am a wife and Mom. I will be posting a few of these "encouragment" posts as often as I think of them. This is what I want my hubby to know:

When you say, "you look pretty tonight" I say "shutup" (blushing) this is what  I really mean:

"thank you, I love you, you totally made my night, you still think i'm pretty after 17 years?, I love you always, you're the best!"

For Ken with Love,
Christine

Friday, April 6, 2012

Pond & Frog Math Centers! Fun with numbers!

Hello All, I have just posted my latest unit to TpT titled Pond & Frog Math Centers! In this unit there are 9 centers, ready to print and use. Addition, Subtraction, Time to the hour, Greater than, Less than and Equal to, Number Word matching to 50 and much more! This unit is $7.00, there are so many uses for the pages in this unit. The possibilities are endless!

 Click this link to see the full description, preview file and to purchase. Frog-Fun-Math

This is for my Pond Theme Unit next week. I will also be creating a bulletin board pond to help learn about all of the different animals that live in the pond. I will also be making vocabulary cards for these animals as a read the room center. I plan on using some of the worksheets from this unit to assess the children's understanding of addition and subtraction, time and color words. I will use the large clocks for group instruction and the pattern mats for small group math time.

Enjoy!
Christine

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

New Design!

Welcome to my new design! The Cutest Blog on the block designed this great blog template and I just love it! This totally fits my personality! Please grab my new button, I am so excited to have this great way to share with others. Please let me know what you think!

Don't forget this months giveaway! Join my blog for a chance to win a free TpT unit on the 15th!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Math Practice Freebies!

I have just uploaded a set of 10 free math practice worksheets only available for free here on my blog. These worksheets are great for differentiated instruction because they can be used several different ways. Each sheet practices counting on dice to either add, subtract or multiply, asks you to draw the dots or write the number and then tally the answer. The last few sheets focus specifically on Greater than, less than and equal to using bugs, numbers and tally marks. Click on my freebies page to get all ten worksheets! I hope you enjoy them.

These sheets were created as part of my Bugs-Math-and-Literacy-unit-110-pages-of-centers-and-worksheets on TpT, check it out for more great printables, centers, activities and worksheets.


Enjoy!