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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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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Ring in the New Year with a Freebie and a Sale!

Hello Blogging friends, can you believe in just a few short hours we will be in 2015? Where has the time gone! I know I have not been as present online as usual so I put together a little freebie as a thank you for your following. I also have my entire store on sale (20% off everything!) from January 1st-January 4th, just in time to stock up on resources for the second half of the school year. Click the links below to go directly to the freebie and to my store. Thank you for a wonderful 2014!

Snowflake-Slap Freebie: Dolche Primer Sight Word Games
The-Crazy-Pre-k-Classroom TPT Store
Have a blessed 2015!
Christine

Sunday, December 28, 2014

2014 My year in Review

Well, my post really begins in August of 2013 at the start of school with 14 pre-kers and a new school year full of fun and uncertainty. The excitement of new friends and families to serve, the start of a new class of kiddos, so incredible! However, if I had known the whirlwind I was about to be on I may have curled up in a ball in the corner! That is not to say all was bad. The one thing that kept me sane was my kiddos at school and the wonderful staff I was surrounded with. My class was wonderful, my Teachers Pay Teachers store was growing and all was well with my family and I. August and September were wonderful but for some reason every year October seems to be the month something hits home. Without question the first week of October we got a shock, my husbands Grandmother had died suddenly, which meant a trip from Texas to New Jersey for the funeral, That would only be the first 2 days I was away from my kiddos. You see I was out more than a month in the 2013-2014 school year, between the funeral, emergency appendix surgery, the flu, strep, a newly found heart condition and emergency gall bladder surgery it was a hard year. Not one of my days was taken of my own choosing and I did not have a regular paycheck from December through May. (Which caused another set of problems but we won't go into that!) Even with all of this sickness my kiddos were so wonderful and their families as well. I was supported with dinners, gifts and prayers. My co-teachers were wonderful picking up my slack and helping where needed. I cannot tell you how much I was blessed by everyone around me. I was incredibly loved and cared for by my family, friends and even people I hardly knew. To feel such love strengthened my faith in the midst of these trials. So, I spent the summer trying to get my strength back, I willed my way through February to May but my stamina an strength were not the same. I was exhausted as if I was a brand new teacher, taking a nap everyday when I got home and unable to show my family the attention and support they needed. The Dr. told me that having that much surgery and sickness that it would take a year to fully recover and boy was he right, even now in December of 2014 I am still not the same person I was before last year. This 2014-2015 school year came with a wonderful surprise, I was moving to Kindergarten! After the year before I was happy with a contract but a contract with a significant pay raise and into Elementary was a dream come true. I won't lie it was hard to move from  my nice new classroom, with windows and plenty of storage to a small space with no windows, no storage and barely enough space for 10 kiddos. It has been such a blessing! I have the greatest group of kiddos, wonderful families and I have gotten used to my smaller space. It is actually quite nice to be in my own space, where I can fully concentrate on my kiddos. The start of the year was hectic with a slight learning curve but I am enjoying every moment of it. My only negative is not having time to keep up with my Teachers Pay Teachers store as much as I would like but I have a feeling all of the new material I am creating for my class this year will get refined and posted over the summer. For all of you reading this post I Thank You for being supportive, for not forgetting about me and for your continued following of my blog even though I have been more absent than I would like. All in All I would have to say I have a pretty darn good life and even through the struggles and stresses God continues to show me His goodness through those He has surrounded me with. Especially all of you! I hope you all had a Wonderful Christmas and that your New Year is filled with love, excitement and health!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

October is here! Milestone announcement, Pumpkins, Community Helpers and a FREEBIE!

WOW! This was about the fastest September in my immediate history! I can't believe that switching from Pre-K to Kinder has left me with no classroom reveal or new ideas for my blog! Thank you everyone for being so supportive and patient. I promise to catch up as much as possible over the next couple of weeks. So, my classroom, where do I begin? I went from a decent sized room with windows to a closet with none. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining it just poses certain storage and space issues that I had not needed to address in several years. How do you fit a full classroom of supplies into a tiny space, how do you organize it and how do you fit anything new that you will need for your new grade? Well, I started by clearing my entire classroom into my living room over the summer and doing a serious purge (which was very painful since I hoard all things school related!) then I went shopping! My Michaels' teacher discount, a coupon and other sales helped me to purchase quite a few space saving tools and bins. I will post a proper classroom reveal in a few days, I am so excited to share my Very Hungry caterpillar classroom with you all! So, here is a look at our first large unit of the year, APPLES! We spent 3 weeks exploring everything there is to know about apples. From science experiments, to word work, to making applesauce, we did it all! Here are a few images from my APPLES in SEPTEMBER Math and Literacy Unit. I was so proud of my class, they did an excellent job completing all of the work I put in front of them. One day we even missed recess because we were just having too much fun learning (and the teacher lost track of time, oops!) I am so amazed at how much one summer can change a class. I only have one of my former students but I have several others who were in my Pre-K department last year. I cannot believe how much they have grown and how much more they are capable of. I am used to teaching Scissor skills for a month and in Kinder I didn't even have to review the basics. The class is flying through concepts so fast that I can barely keep up. I am using a ton of resources from my cousin over at Kindergarten Smiles and find myself creating new units almost daily. Of course these units are not ready to be listed but I am making as I go here so I should have a nice round of products coming as soon as things slow down, whenever that is! Until then I have a Unit for October and a Community Helpers Pocket Chart Activity for You.
 
 These images are from my new PUMPKINS IN OCTOBER UNIT. Here is the link to my Community Helpers Pocket Chart Sentences and last for not least my BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!!!! I have just hit a huge milestone (my first big one) on TpT! As a thank you go to my store and grab my WHERE DOES IT GO? VOCABULARY BUILDING UNIT for FREE! It will be free this whole week so send your teacher freinds by my store to get their copy! I hope you have all enjoyed your first weeks back to school and are ready for the business of the holidays! Thank you all for being such a blessing and support! Till next time, Christine

Monday, August 4, 2014

FLASH FREEBIE!!!!!! If you give a teacher a classroom: Kindergarten teacher book for BTS

Grab your flash freebie while you can. My new Kindergarten BTS book, If you give a teacher a classroom! is free for the next few hours! Be sure to hop on over to TpT to take advantage of the 28% off sale! Use the code BTS14 at checkout for your discount! I'm headed over to fill my cart! Happy TpT product hunting! Use the link below to grab your freebie! Enjoy, Christine http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Kindergarten-Teacher-Book-If-you-give-a-teacher-a-classroom-1372500

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!