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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 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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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Apple Fraction Lesson and other apple happenings in room 2116!

This week has been a whirlwind of fun apple activities. I think my favorite new apple activity is the apple fraction stamping we did on Tuesday. I sat everyone down at the table and showed them whole, half, fourths and eigths. They were amazed that you could cut and apple like that and put it back together. After each cut I had the children stamp that section on a piece of construction paper where I had written the different fractions. I was amazed at the amount of critical thinking this activity produced. My four year olds had the best questions like, "So if you cut it again what do you get?" and "Why does the apple have a stem and 5 points on the bottom?" Our last stamp was the 5 points at the bottom because it looks cool and reinforces the 5 section "star" in the middle of the apple that holds the seeds. One little one asked me, "Mrs. O'Donnell if the seeds are stuck inside the apple how do we get more apples?" So then we had a talk about planting seeds and how the seeds can grow in the ground even if they are still in the apple. This was a great lesson, here is a picture of the finished stampings. I couldn't take pictures and teach the lesson at the same time so sorry no live action shots this time. I hope you get a chance to try this in your room, it was great learning fun! We also took some time out of our week to make apple donuts, apple pie, have an apple tasting with graphing and drink apple juice. I'm exausted but this is still one of my favorite weeks of the school year! And to end the week with a bang we will make crock pot applesauce for the entire department tomorrow, YUMMY!!! Check out some fun pictures of our week below! Till next time, Christine

Friday, September 13, 2013

Giveaway on Teachers Notebook: Scissor Skills Unit

Hello All, I am holding a short giveaway (9/14-9/16) for my newest unit: Scissor Skills: teacher book, cutting practice+. Please visit the giveaway section at www.teachersnotebook.com to enter and while you are there please check out all of the new items in my store! Check out the following pictures to see a sampling of what is in my Scissor Skills Unit Thank you for being loyal followers, good luck! Christine

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tips and techniques for implementing The Daily 5 for reading groups in a pre-k classroom

So, you want to use the Daily 5 with your 4 year olds but you are not quite sure how you are going to get them ready or if they can even do it. I can tell you after implementing the Daily 5 in my Pre-K classroom for the past 3 years I am confident that not only can you teach it but they can accomplish it! Not sure what the Daily 5 is? You will want to get your hands on the book "The Daily 5" by: Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. My school used this book and accompanying videos as a professional development study three years ago and my classroom has never been the same. Tailored to elementary students who can already read I had to tweak it to meet my classrooms needs. I wait until the class is acclimated to school before even thinking of teaching the 5 areas of the Daily Five. Each day the children are supposed to: Read to self, Word Work, Read to someone, Listen to reading and Meet with the teacher. I always start with teaching read to self. I have the whole class bring one book to the carpet and explain the procedure (no talking, eyes in your book, stay in your area etc.). I time them for 3 minutes on the first try correcting them as needed. We practice each day for 2 weeks adding a minute each time until they can easily read to self for 10 minutes. Honestly, ten minutes in about the max I have been able to get out of my 4 year olds in this station so after 10 minutes I ring a certain bell that allows them to choose a quiet toy from a special bucket (puzzle, pop beads, links etc.) I also begin teaching word work stations at this point. I set up enough stations for the whole class and teach the children to work quietly, stay where they are and not interrupt the teacher. I make sure these are centers that they are familiar with so there are not many "how to" questions. I time them for 5-7 minutes and then show them how to rotate to the next station. We build up to 15 minutes of word work. Once I have completed my Daily 5 instruction there will only be 3 stations per day. All of this instruction is getting them ready to be completly independent so my Meet with the Teacher times will be successful and uninterrupted. I also do not limit my word work to letters/sounds, I also add basi skills practice and numbers practice, most of the time with a manipulative of some sort. See the pictures below to seean example of what this looks like. I made one of our play centers this week the listening center and each day I am teaching 4 students how to use change cd's, volume etc. This takes care of the first 4 of 5 stations they are supposed to do each day. This leaves Read to someone which was the one I had to tweak the most since my kiddos are not truly reading yet. The first year I just skipped this and added word work but then I thought if they can't "read" they could certainly practice their letter/sound recognition and number recognition. So I bought a product on TpT that layed this all out in a binder and it works great. It is called Kindergarten RTI by Babbling Abby (no I don't know her and I have not been asked to promote this item)Click on the name to be directed to her product page. I set up my binder and put 2 children together, one strong and one who needs some help. This way if they get stuck on a letter or number they can help each other. I give them each a pointer to help them track across the page and allow them to work on this on our carpet laying or sitting on beanbags, whatever is comfortable for them. There are so many resources out there for word work, I have created a few items that are working great in my classroom and there are many teahcer authors that I have bought products from that are awesome. It would benefit you to take some time searching TpT to find some great word work before you even get started teaching this system. I just love this system for my reading groups, everyone is learning and happy, my reading groups are smooth with little interruption and everyone knows what is expected of them. I can't say enough about how much this system has improved the reading instruction in my classroom and how smoothly my day goes once the students are comfortable with the stations. I would highly recommend trying this with your pre-k students and getting your hands on the book if you have not already read it. Below are a few pictures of my students learning the word work stations today:
Please feel free to ask any questions in the comments section, I would love to have a discussion about the Daily 5 for Pre-K here on thecrazy pre-k classroom. Till next time, Christine

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Extending worksheets into meaningful lessons

Have you ever encountered a parent or teacher who thought thast worksheets were just a teachers lazy way of keeping children busy? I have had my share of people refer to worksheets as "busy work" or "time wasters." I wish they knew how valuable worksheets can be for learning and assessment; especially when they are used in conjunction with a full lesson. Often times worksheets are given after a lesson is taught to help solidify learning and assess understanding. This week I had the opportunity to start with my worksheet and bring it to a lesson. We completed this shape worksheet together at the table, copyright goes to Teachers Helper.
This is my copy, trust me my 4 year olds don't color this well yet but they are working on it! Anyway, after completing this worksheet we all brought our own copy to the carpet and proceeded in making a graph to compare the number of shapes there were on the page. I also took the opportunity to reinforce shapes and colors during this activity, you can see our graph is very simple, hand drawn but gets the point across. We discussed more/less, same/different and equal. This 20 minute lesson turned into a 40 minute fully engaged discussion on math concepts. It had a mind of its own!
These types of engaged learning lessons can come few and far between especially on a Friday afternoon so I took advantage of every minute of it, moving my next lesson to Monday to accomodate the time schedule. I believe lessons like these are essential for every childs education. Not only do our typical learners get a challenge from lessons like these but our right brained thinkers get the visuals they need, our kinesthetic learners get the movement they need (making shapes with their bodies and hands), and our auditory learners get the reinforcement from the teacher. In my book this is a win win situation for everyone. Whenever we as teahcers can take a piece of something and turn it into a lesson that connects different subjects and boundaries we are getting higher order thinking in the children and answers that come from critical thinking skills that need to be developed early in life. This lesson crossed math, reading, language and listening skills to make a well rounded lesson that every student could learn from. These teachable moments are why I do what I do and are the highlight of my precious time spent with my class. Feel free to copy my graph but please remember that the actual worksheet is copyrighted but you could probably get a copy from www.teachershelper.com archives. Till next time, Christine

Monday, September 2, 2013

Tablet time, word families and a new freebie!

So, we all know little ones these days love technology but we can't afford to put an ipad in each childs hand for school. As much as I wish we could it is just not feasable for most schools. While a classroom might have 1 or 2 tablets that is just not enough for a class of 20+, so I have decided to fake it! For my four year olds this year we will be studying our word families on "tablets" printed on cardstock. I have used a tablet graphic copyrighted by scrappindoodles.com to create word family posters, worksheets and word work centers. I have also used this graphic to create a beginning sounds unit, multi-sensory ABC mats, and am currently working on EIOU word families and numbers. I have printed the first set of "tablets" and my 5 year old has not stopped playing with them. He even used a blank sheet that I have provided and made his own word family tablet:
It is a litle hard to see that he has written the name of each picture in pencil on the page as well. I can see that after my instruction with the original "tablet" and after playing with the word work "tablet" he is retaining and able to write some of the words for the -og word family. I can't wait to see what my class does with these this week! I have listed the -ack family as a freebie for you to try these "tablets" out for yourself and the rest of the units are listed and ready to go in my TPT store. -ACK WORD FAMILY TABLET FREEBIE LINK TPT STORE LINK Enjoy your first few weeks back to school, heres to a great year, Enjoy! Christine