Sensory Activities for Kinder

Hi there!  It's Mary from Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives.  I am thrilled to be guest posting today for my BBB {Best Blogging Buddy} Jeannie!
     I want to tell you about a few of my favorite sensory activities that I use in my classroom.  First of all, why use sensory activities?  Sensory experiences provide learners with opportunities for exploratory play.  These experiences promote inquiry-based learning, language and cognitive development, and social interaction.  We all know how important play is in an early childhood classroom.  The problem is finding time for it.  The good news is you can combine sensory experiences with your curriculum to create meaningful activities that your students will love.

At the beginning of the year, I love to incorporate my home-made Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree into our literacy stations.  The tree itself is made from a 4-in PVC pipe, covered in burlap, that slides over a wood base (6-8-in long dowel rod, screwed into a piece of wood).  The top of the tree has fake palm tree leaves and coconuts that I picked up at a craft store.  The tree is covered in square Velcro dots and sits in a plastic storage tub.  The tub is filled with kid-friendly play sand that weighs down the base of the tree enough to keep it sturdy.  You can find several sets of Dollar Tree alphabet letters buried in the sand.  The letters have Velcro dots on their backs so that they can stick to the tree.  My students love to dig for the letters and retell Bill Martin Jr.'s story with the pieces.

What can this sensory activity reinforce?
  • retelling of the story
  • naming letters
  • alphabetically order
  • making words with the letters
You could also use numbers or shapes in place of the letters.  Of course, you do not have to have a tree for your students to take part in this activity.  Just a tub of sand with manipulatives would work just fine!

 Here is another favorite sensory tub I use in the spring.
I just fill the tub with organic dirt and throw in a few kid's gardening tools, plastic or biodegradable pots, and various sized seeds left over from our garden.  I also usually add in some of those plant marker cards and a few artificial flowers as well as some plastic insects.  If you wanted to, you could even add real worms to your tub!  My kids always have a blast digging in the dirt!  One year I put the top on the tub and left it sitting in the corner of my classroom over the weekend.  When we opened it up a few days later the kids were amazed to find the tub covered in green.  The moisture from the dirt and the heat from having the lid on had caused the seeds to sprout. Of course, everyone wanted to explore the tub again.  :)
     I like to make this graphic organizer available for my kids when they are exploring tubs like the one above.  Sometimes I run off a class set for my kids to fill out and glue into their journals.  Other times I just have a small group set available (laminated) and my kids use dry-erase markers to fill them out while at the station. Click on the picture to download.
     A few last sensory favorites for the classroom include the use of playdoh, cooked noodles, and shaving cream (the cheap kind works great).  These items are perfect for letter and number formation, spelling practice, visual representation of quantities, etc.  Playdoh is a staple in my word work station and my kids always squeal with excitement when they see a bowl of noodles or me pulling the shaving cream out of the cabinet.  :)
 I sure hope I have given you some ideas for incorporating sensory activities into your classroom.  I'd love for you to share your own experiences with sensory exploration.  Feel free to leave a comment below or stop by my blog and say hi.  Thanks to Jeannie for letting me share with you today! :)

 Mary Lirette loves to create and share ideas for the K-2 classroom. 

Fun Things from Dr. Jean

 Happy Summer from Teacher Mom of 3!  My name is Lauren and I am so honored and excited to be guest blogging for Jeannie!  I am new to blogging, but not to teaching.  I just finished my twenty-third year of teaching (oh, how can that be?!) reading and language arts.  I have taught every grade from preschool to grade 12 with the exception of grades nine and ten, in some capacity.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to attend a Dr. Jean (Feldman) workshop along with my principal and the preschool and kindergarten teachers from my school.  I had to get up VERY early to leave at 6:00 a.m.  YIKES!  I am a morning person, but still...  I was hoping that my time away from school (oh, all the running records I had to complete, the data reports, trying to squeeze in last minute learning with my intervention groups, etc) would be worth it. Don't get me wrong, I thrive on professional development, PLCs, reading journals, reading professional books, and of course blog hopping!

Click on the picture to visit Dr. Jean's blog!

Well, if you have ever been to a Dr. Jean workshop or conference, you know that it was well worth it and then some!  I entered the conference room very weary from lack of sleep and from the frenzy of the end of the year activities and assessments that I was smack in the middle of.  Dr. Jean had me at "You learn on your feet, not in your seat!"  And that is just what she had us do as soon as she started!  We were up on our feet singing, dancing, doing the "Tootie Ta", the Banana Dance, and more!  Dr. Jean is a best-selling author, educational consultant, and recording artist who makes learning so much fun!  

Her inspiring, practical, creative, and inexpensive ideas for motivating and teaching young minds is based on current reading and brain-based research.  Although she may be best known for her songs (I've been listening to her CD "Kiss Your Brain" all summer!), I wanted to share a few instructional "take-aways" I learned from my one day workshop. It was no easy task to select just three, as Dr. Jean has tons of ideas to make instruction delightful !  Even though her target audience is preschool and kindergarten, I found many of the ideas can be adapted to older grades as well.

Click on CD to go to Dr. Jean's Song Store

1. Letter WandDr. Jean suggested to use this to frame letters, but it can also be used to find and frame sight words during Read the Room, on the Smart Board, to find shapes, colors, and lots more!  My soon-to-be kinder son liked using the wand to frame his face as he sang a song and practiced his speech therapy homework!

Here's the wand I made!

 I made this wand by purchasing a butterfly net from the dollar store.  I cut out the net and added a colorful lei with flowers and sparklesI added some ribbons and streamers to make it even more colorful.  This one is a little "girly" so I will be making a more masculine one this summer!

My son demonstrating how to use the wand!

2. Story Bracelets- Have children make a bracelet to retell stories, practice sequencing, and work on small motor skills.  Each child could make one or you can make one with the children to share.  You could also place bracelets in a center/station to have students practice retelling a story to each other.  

Another idea I thought of is to have students create and design their own bracelet for a story they write. They select the colors for the important events and/or characters from their story.  A great synthesizing activity!

 This is so easy to make:  Take a pipe cleaner and add different colored beads to represent story events.  Here is one Dr. Jean shared for The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle:
  • white bead for the egg
  • green bead for the caterpillar
  • red bead for the apple
  • yellow bead for the pears
  • purple bead for the plums
  • pink bead for the strawberries
  • orange bead for the oranges
  • clear bead for children to name other foods he ate
  • black bead for the chrysalis
  • gold bead for the butterfly

Click on Dr. Jean's picture above to see more story bracelet ideas!

3. Snip Snap BookThese stapleless books have endless possibilities!  

  • Dr. Jean recommends taking two sheets of paper and folding them in half (hamburger/bathtub style).  Crease the fold.

  • Make tears/rips/tabs with your hands (or you can use scissors) about a thumbnail of the way down on the fold side. 

  • Alternate bending the tabs to bind the book.  

At the conference we used standard 8.5 x 11" inch paper.  At home, I used 8.5 x 14.25" paper to make a bigger book and used three pages.

Wow!  So simple, so practical and inexpensive, and it allows for such creativity ! 

Here are a few ideas of how Dr. Jean uses them:
  • Spelling and vocabulary books- write and draw
  • Use for retelling a story
  • Phonics- letter/vowel book
  • Rhyme/ word family books
  • Theme books to integrate curricula
  • Environmental print-  cut out pictures and glue in book
  • Writing original stories, journals, poems, note-taking 
  • Use for read and write the room
  • Nonfiction text structures and features
  • Place blank books in the writing center

Here is how I am using them at home this summer:  
My two young sons made a Snip Snap Book to record summer memories.  They will pick one or two favorites each week and place in the book.  I want them to work from a blank page to foster creativity so I'm not adding a template for them. However, since they are a rising kinder and a firstie, I will print out writing paper and they will glue in the book.  They will write book reviews, glue a photo in the book to write about, journal about vacation, draw, and more!  It's their book and they get to choose!  My youngest son likes to paint, so I'm suspecting that his book will be filled with his original art work. 

Here's the book I started today:

Front Cover
Inside Book

My day with Dr. Jean was memorable and inspirational, and I appreciate all the ideas she shared. The workshop was filled with songs, brain break ideas, literacy ideas, and just plain old fun!

If you want more, you can visit her website or check out her blog for even more!  

Now, kiss your brain, for making it through this rather long post!

Smiles to you!  Have a great rest of the summer!

In Pictures and In Words - Book Study Chapters 1-6

Hey ya'll - I'm not sure if you've ever heard of this book before, "In Pictures and In Words" by Katie Wood Ray. If you haven't, I gotta tell ya - it's a MUST read for all primary teachers....especially if you teach PK, K, or 1st!

I never heard of it before and then I heard Deedee from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten was doing a book study about writing and the importance of illustrations in writing - I knew I had to be a part of this! So, I'm linking up with her so I can learn more about tricks for Writer's Workshop!

 I have to admit that I've been one of those teachers that teaches "out of illustrations". I'm ashamed to say that after reading the first 6 chapters if this book. Well, I mean.....I don't totally teach "out of illustrations, but what I do is try to get the kids writing ASAP. Now I'm not sure this is as wise as I thought it was. Our district curriculum uses Lucy Calkins' Units of Study and I love them....but our district also wants to see kids incorporating word wall words and writing first sounds in words pretty quick (first month). I'm worried that in my quest to be a great writing teacher that I am sacrificing their "expression of meaning". 
The fact is illustrations are a form of communication just like writing and it should be valued as such. A kiddo that can successfully communicate via pictures is in a better place to be a great writer than a kiddo that can write sounds and word wall words yet cannot tell a coherent story.

Deedee was wonderful and provided some fantastic guiding questions to consider:

How might you explain to students that illustrating is composing?
Well, how is the best way to show kids that we value illustrating as much as writing? The best way to show we value illustrations is to draw attention to them, notice them in books, linger over illustrations that we see. I will make sure that we read a lot more wordless books (not just the few that I normally start the year off with).... I plan to develop conversations about how illustrators illustrate, what decisions they make, and why they drew things the way they did....

How might your attitude towards writing affect your students' willingness to write?
   WOW, that sure is a hit in the gut! Yes, absolutely my attitude towards writing affects my students' attitude towards writing. I mean, first of all kindergarteners ADORE their teachers.... We are the closest to GOD in their eyes and they want to be like us and they want us to be proud of them. So, of course they will learn from us. And so far I've taught my kids that illustrations are important, but only in addition to writing. I've definitely taught my kids that writing words are more important than illustrations. Well, I've done that until NOW. One of my biggest goals for Writer's Workshop this year is to NOT push them as much to bridge over to writing. I do intend to teach more "into the illustrations" and less "out of illustrations". The thinking that goes on while illustrating is indeed valuable and higher level!
    I also plan to focus a little more on illustrators this year while reading - not just on authors. I really like the idea that Katie talked about - showing a photo of the illustrator so that kids can make more of a personal connection to the illustrator and referring to him/her by name when you reference what was done in the illustrations of a book. Again, it's about valuing illustrations as meaning!
   What language might you use with your students to talk about reading like a writer, both as a writer of pictures and words?
I do lots of modeling using language such as," As a writer I can..." and "As a writer, you can...." We discuss what we'll write about and what readers we have in mind. 

Some lovely "wordless" texts - perfect for Writer's Workshop:

and oh goodness how did I forget this book:
I'm so glad Kathleen from Growing Kinders reminded us about it. I LOVE this book and posted about using it HERE!

I am OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD excited about reading this book and the possibilities it holds for my Writer's Workshop this year! I hope you join us....

Now....for my question for you-- Do you teach "into the illustrations" or "out of the illustrations"? Please leave a comment below telling us!

Classroom Design Ideas

Pinspiring Classroom Design by: Erin Klein

Thanks to Jeannie for allowing me to be a guest on her amazing blog today!  I'm the author of Kleinspiration, a technology resource sharing blog.  I teach second grade, but I often post ideas that appeal to grade levels K - 12 and teachers, too!  I invite you to follow me on my blog and social networking sites, too.  I love connecting with other teachers!

Getting Started with Classroom Design:

Prior to teaching, I studied Interior Design.  I'm a firm believer in creating aesthetically pleasing spaces that appeal to the developmental age of your learning community.  Of course, it's wonderful to have a beautiful space, but you must also consider the brain-friendly aspect of your design plan.

The book, Exceeding Expectations, truly helped me to understand the essentials of great classroom design and bran-friendly teaching.  You can click here to see the book on Amazon.  This resource was my 'go-to-guide' when I was initially setting up my classroom.  The sketches and easy to read format really helped me to understand how to lay out my space for my former first graders. I've used these tips in each space I've ever designed (even in my middle school classrooms).

Does color and layout really matter?

According to the research, yes.  Throughout the pages of Exceeding Expectations among several other brain research based books, you can read about the studies done on classroom environments.  Personally, I like to apply basic common sense...

Do you act differently when you eat out at a fast food restaurant versus a fine dining establishment?

Even walking into friend's homes, I can tell that my own children (ages 4 and 7) act more respectful when the living space is organized, clean, and aesthetically pleasing.  There is a natural habit of taking one's shoes off when you enter the home of a well-kept space.  This is the feeling I want my students to have when they enter my classroom (not necessarily taking one's shoes off - but rather the feeling of being careful, respectful, responsible, and having accountability). 

My Classroom 2010 - 2011

My Favorite Design Elements for Classroom Spaces:

  • Use picture frames to show off popular book covers or genres you're studying
  • Take advantage of interactive bulletin boards to spark engagement and usefulness
  • Bring a touch of your home into the classroom: add curtains around bulletin boards, use decorative scrapbook paper to feature items on your bulletin board, accessorize with trinkets (I love Hobby Lobby!)
  • Bring the outdoors inside - adding plants has an amazing effect
  • Stick with a consistent color scheme
  • De-Clutter!  You can read my article on Really Good Stuff by clicking here
  • Create open spaces for hands-on learning ie: centers, projects, collaboration, etc.
  • Keep anchor charts, design elements, etc. at your learner's eye level
  • Less is More  

Crave More Design Ideas?

I'm constantly collecting new and inspiring ideas on organization and design.  Feel free to follow me on Pinterest for my latest finds.  :)  I've become quite the Pin-o-holic lately, so you're sure to find some inspiration for your space.  If you have creative ideas, please share them in the comments below!

Follow Me on Pinterest

Thanks Jeannie for the opportunity to say hello to your amazing readers and connect with your Kinder audience.  I simply love your blog and the ideas you share.

Have a Great Summer,

Erin Klein


Daily 5 Organizing and Management

Hi friends! It's time to return to our Daily 5 book study. Chapter 2 is a pretty significant part of the Daily 5 program because Daily 5 cannot operate as intended if certain key elements are not found in our classrooms.

These key elements are:
*Sense of Urgency (importance)
*Stamina (getting stronger)

The thing that keeps popping up for me as MEGA important is the idea of providing direction. Our job is to lay the path and let them go down it. - not alone but with us AND their classmates by their side…. We have to trust that the kids are capable of doing what we teach, and then we have to let them do it!
Kids must have an opportunity to do exactly what we want them to do… If we say be independent yet we monitor over them the whole time – well actions speak louder than words. They will operate as though they need that monitoring……If we want them to be truly independent, we have to give them the opportunity to be independent.

Relationships are important – this is the vehicle through which teachers “tell” our kids whether we trust them to be independent or not. What am I  “saying” to my kids about my confidence in their ability to be independent learners?

Well, right now I currently use Debbie Diller-style literacy stations and I have a pocket chart in which kids rotate through the stations.  

I will tell you this system works great! I rotate the kids and they have opportunities to work with different kids. They learn quickly how to figure what station to go to and it's pretty regimented. However, how does doing this show the kids I trust them? I'm not sure it does..... A part of me wants to try having them choose their activity but a part of me is afraid of giving up that control - that "safety net". 

I've heard other teachers say, "I use Daily 5 but I choose which Daily 5 they go to and when." My thinking is.....Ok, but how do you reconcile that with what we learn by reading Chapter 2? How are you showing kids you trust them to independently operate during Daily 5 if you choose for them? I'm not criticizing by any means.....I'm asking some real questions I have.... 
Although my current system is "safe" and "routine", I worry that my unspoken statement to the kids is, "You can't do this yourself so I will choose for you."

Here's another question: What if a kid doesn't make wise choices? I've heard teachers say, "I choose for them. They have to go to Read to Self." Here is my problem with this solution... First of all, isn't that making Read to Self a "punishment"? It's like when we used to have to write sentences in grade school for not doing homework or something. It caused us to hate to write. I know that isn't what we want children to think. My other problem with this is -- "How are we guiding that child to make wise choices?" That is the end goal -- to help them make choices, not just solve it ourselves.
Just some things to think about......:0)

What am I doing right now that I could TRUST the kids to do?

For me I know this revolves around choosing their learning activities and the order they do them in. This is still a scary proposition for me to wrap my head around. I mean the thought of doing things another way when your current way works is difficult. What if I can't get my 5 year olds to do it??....or what if it doesn't work as well?? I cringe at the thought.

Kids  love structure and routine. Boy do they ever! Providing a schedule for them to refer to helps give them some control over their day. Using a schedule has always been a weak area for me.  I know I need to post a schedule and USE it. Now don't get me wrong - I do follow a schedule...but I'm talking about looking to a class schedule with the kids and moving on to the next thing. This seems hard for me because it seems like one more thing to do in an already tight schedule. I know it's important and I intend to make use of one this year. THERE! I've committed! :0)

Sense of Urgency – Why do I have to or why should I? We've all asked this at one time or another. Heck, I still ask this....Kids are no different. Kids need to know the answer to these questions – not because I say so…

Kids need to know AND deserve to know WHY we...
*Read to self
*Read to someone
*Listen to reading
*Work on writing
*Do word work?

They need to know WHY in order to be motivated. Let the kids know why we are learning these things. This helps them understand the true purpose for these activities and shows that you respect their need to know.

Whew! This chapter made me tired.... so many things to contemplate -- so many logistics.... I look forward to reading your ideas and thoughts.

In the comments below, please leave your thoughts and ideas about how you trust your students. :0)

Oh, and before you leave I want to let you know that I did a guest blog post over at Kleinspiration today about Little Bird Tales. Ever hear of Little Bird Tales? 

It's a fabulous website that allows you and your kiddos to make ditigal storybooks... It's super easy and quick - 5 year olds can do it! Please hop over and check it out and you can see the one I did with my kiddos this year......I'm so nervous about posting on the GREAT KLEINSPIRATION!! hehehehehe (fingers crossed for me :0) CLICK HERE TO GO!

Awards System

Hi everyone!
I'm Lusine from Enjoy Teaching English and I am so excited for the opportunity Jeannie gave me to guest blog.This is my first experience as a guest blogger so I was kind of at a loss what to write about.

Eventually I decided to share with you my Awarding System that I started implementing with my second and third graders this year and it worked quite well.
If you have a glance at my ABOUT ME page you will learn that I have a great number of students in class so I am constantly struggling with classroom management and adjusting all the great activities and ideas to my classroom.
And nothing works better in classroom management than encouragement,praise and awards.

So here is how my Awarding System worked.

List of Students-I made a list of my students (one per trimester) to keep track of their progress.

BTW the same list was also used to record the behaviour problems.Every time a student misbehaved or didn't follow the rules he would get a warning and I would put a point on my list.3 warnings would lead him to do extra work or something by teacher's choice.
This list helped me a lot also for the report cards as I had to fill in around 300 report cards and I just needed some information about the students in hand.

List Template

Daily Awards-I made Daily Awards for each month which students could earn at the end of the day for showing good discipline,participation,reading and handwriting.First I declared the names of the students and what they were awarded for and made notes on my list. Next day at the beginning of the lesson I distributed the awards and the students could color them in their free time or at home.

Star of the Month-At the end of the month I looked at my list and counted the awards of each student and wrote them down. The student with the most number of awards earned was chosen the Star of the Month.
The Star of the Month was given The Star of the Month printable to be filled in at home.Then it was brought to school and was displayed throughout all the month.My third graders also got ALL ABOUT ME mini book as a small gift.
STAR OF THE MONTH 1 (poster)

STAR OF THE MONTH (freebie booklet)
Academic Excellence Awards- Besides those awards my students could also get appreciated for showing excellence in their tests/exams and oral recitations.And these awards would also decorate the classroom.  

End of Year Awards- are given officially by the principal of the school and I used to have a hard time choosing the students who would get these awards as we are limited to 2 students per class.So this year I didn't have any problem selecting the students .I just had a look at my lists and  chose the student with the most daily and academic excellence awards.

Download my END OF YEAR awards here and here

Thank you again to Jeannie for this great opportunity.
I hope you will drop by and visit me at Enjoy Teaching English for more printables and worksheets.

Organization Tips

Hey Everyone! I’m Michele from Run! Miss Nelson’s Got the Camera! I am so glad to be guest blogging today over here at Kindergarten Lifestyle. Thank you Jeannie for having me! Let’s talk organization. Naturally, I’m not a super organized person but I learned quickly as a teacher you kinda need to be organized. Thanks to many years of teaching, I’ve found some simple organization tips that have really helped me through the years. Let’s start with some of my MUST have supplies- Binders, Page Protectors, and Packing Tape.

Binders- They are great for organizing teaching units, lesson plans, and more. This year I have filled 4 huge binders with all of my favorite tpt/blog worksheets. Before this system, I had papers stuffed in filing cabinets and folders. It was one huge mess!  I am such a visual person so this system has been wonderful for me. Binders are not only a great way for teachers to stay organized but my students love them too! Each student has their own BEE binder. It keeps them so organized. To check out more on how I organize my BEE binders, click here.

Packing Tape- Have you seen this cute pin? I use so much packing tape. The best tip is to use packing tape for your Books on CD. I use packing tape to store all of my CDs for the Listening Station. Instead of using ziplock bags, you can tape the CD cover directly inside of the book. I usually tape it where the slot is facing up to prevent the CD from sliding out.

Page Protectors-They work wonders. The possibilities are endless and did you know you can still make copies even if the originals are in page protectors? I love page protectors as little cheat sheet necklaces. Here is a cute alphabet one. They are great for wearable signs and posters. My students love to be "green" by using them in my word work station with dry erase markers. You can also cut them and make them any size!

Do you have any great organizing tips? I'd love to know. Stop by my blog and leave me a tip. I'll pick one lucky winner to win 3 packs from my TPT store. Jeannie- Thanks again for having me! 

2012 Really Good Education Blog Awards

Ok friends I received an email earlier today that nearly caused me to fall right out of my chair and spit out my Diet Coke all over the place!

I got an email that said my toddler blog was nominated for the 2012 Really Good Stuff Education Award! Yeah....I couldn't believe it either!!

What a nice feeling to be nominated and then I went to see who else was in the running....

Chalk Talk
Kindergarten Crayons
Mrs. Plant's Press
Miss Kindergarten.....

My first thought was oh CRAP!! I am totally small fries compared to these wonderful bloggers.....

but then I thought -- how amazing to be up there with them!! I love it and what a HUGE honor!!

I would LOVE LOVE LOVE for you to hop over and VOTE for my blog!! Voting starts TOMORROW (June 18th) and ends on Friday (June 22nd)......I sure could use your vote! CLICK HERE to vote!

Please wait until tomorrow to vote or the vote won't count ----=)

Writing Tools - Freebie

Hi all!! I am Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles and I am so excited that Jeannie has allowed me to guest post on her blog today!! 
Recently, I have heard so much information  on the Daily 5 and I am even participating in the Daily 5 book study this summer.  In my classroom I currently do literacy centers/workstations with my students while I am pulling reading groups, but I am interested in the idea of changing. Many centers that I am already doing with my students during this time, fit right in with Word Work and Work on Writing.  
Some ideas:
* Students can spell words with magnetic letters
* Students can spell words with pipe cleaners
* Students can rainbow write words (always a favorite in my class)
* Students can cut letters out of a magazine to spell words
* Students can stamp words
* Students can use bingo dabbers to spell words
* Students can form letters with play dough to spell words (or cut them out of play dough with letter cookie cutters)
That list can go on, and on, and can pretty much add anything you have to this center! I originally had my students using the word wall to spell words; however, somewhere in between their center and them looking at the word wall they lost focus!! I now have word cards on a binder ring that they use. I printed out 6 copies so multiple students can be working at once. My cards look like this:
I have kindergarten and first grade sight words on my rings, I think it is great for the students to see and spell both!
If you would like your own cards just click on the picture above! I added in a couple different versions in case you don't like my rainbows :) or in case you have a specific theme in your room. All you need to do is print them out, laminate them for durability, punch one hole in the bottom of every card, and add them onto a binder ring!
I also have some 'fun' cards at the back of the ring. They include color words, number words, and words with pictures for the kids to spell...
If you would like to grab a copy of these just head on over to my blog, Kindergarten Smiles and you can download them for FREE.
HUGE thank you again to Jeannie for allowing me to post today. I hope you all were able to get something new for your kids out of my post or you at least enjoyed reading it :)

Sweet Teacher Crafts

Hi everyone!!! This is Tammy from 123 Teach With Me!! I am so excited about this post because it's my first time being a "guest blogger". I'm thrilled to be over here at Kindergarten Lifestyle and so happy that Jeannie is allowing me to take over her blog for the day!! 

This is a special day for me!! It's my last day of school!!! Yippee for me!!! The kids have been out for almost a week but today was the first day off for teachers. We have been busy cleaning our rooms, taking things off the wall, and pushing all of our furniture to one side of the room so the school can get a "makeover" during the summer break.

 I'm going to let you all in on some news that I haven't even posted on my own blog yet....I have decided to become a stay at home mom!!! Yes, I am blessed with a wonderful husband that works really hard and has given me this opportunity to start graduate school (hopefully soon) while being at home with my daughter. My son will be in Pre-K so I'm really excited about spending this time with him during his early school years. So this means that I'm going to be busy teaching my little ones at home every chance I get!! More blogging for me!! YAY!!! I may not be in the school setting anymore but I have 10 years worth of experience to share when it comes to organization, teaching strategies, planning ideas, hands-on activities and so much more!!! I hope you stop over at my blog sometime and check me out!!

I did want to share some adorable gifts some of my fellow teachers received as end of the year presents from their students. 

Is this not the coolest thing!!! They took some crayons, glued them to some canvas, and used a hairdryer to heat up the crayons so it would drip down and create this affect!!! LOVE IT!!

Here the student just took come old crayons.....we all have those laying around.....and glued them to create the beginning letter of this teacher's last name and framed it!!! This is so cute to hang in your classroom!!!

One of my students had cards made with my name on it!! This is an awesome gift for teachers. We write thank you notes all the time.......(Would it be wrong to write a thank you note to the child who gave this to me using these cards)!!

Now this one is really special because this isn't a gift for the teacher, but for the teacher's sweet!!!! Not many parents think about our family at home and how we do juggle so many hats as teachers. So for this parent to think about that is awesome!! She made a "prayer pot". It's filled with sand and has Popsicle sticks in it that have things this teacher's daughter can pray about. There are also blank Popsicle sticks for other ideas to be added......this pot will get filled up quickly:)

And my ALL TIME favorite!!! I got this gift a couple of years ago from a student of mine. I have cherished it because....I love the beach, adored this student, and just thought it was pretty cool....especially that he would think of his teacher while on vacation. He wrote my name in the sand, put the year, framed the picture and decorated it!! This gift probably cost 2 bucks to make but the thoughtfulness of this gift and how it made me feel that day is priceless!!!

Thanks Jeannie for having me and I hope you'll stop and visit me!!! 



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Daily 5


I am joining Tammy from Live Love Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten in a Daily 5 book study SPECIFICALLY for KINDERGARTEN teachers..... Yes! I hear the applause and roar from the crowd!

Let's call it as we see, huh?? Kindergarten is a whole 'nuther animal and what works for the other grades (even primary) doesn't always work for our kinders. So, we are going to take this amazing book and have a deep, thoughtful conversation about how we, as kindergarten teachers, can take Daily 5 and make it run smoothly in our rooms.

I am so excited to start this new venture.....

I am not new to the Daily 5. I used it extensively when I taught 1st and 2nd grade. However, several years ago I moved to kindergarten in a new school district. I was so excited to teach kindergarten, but I recognized that I knew nothing about how to teach kindergarten. Would I know how? Would I even enjoy it? I didn't know...

I simply was not brave enough or sure enough of my own teaching abilities (in regard to kinder) to try Daily 5 in kinder. I was worried it would be too much. After all, these kids were coming to me and they couldn't read - How would I teach "Read to Self" to a bunch of 5 year olds??? So, I opted to return to Debbie Diller-style literacy workstations. And, I have operated for the last 3 years this way. All the while I felt that there had to be a better way. While my kids learn to read....and read quite well - I feel like something is amiss.

I mean.... I am teaching them how to read, but am I really teaching them to be readers?? 

Daily 5 is about teaching your students how to develop independent literacy behaviors to the point where they become habits....just second-nature. These are the kinds of habits we want our kiddos to pick up and hold on to.

The part of Chapter 1 that sticks with me .....sticks in my gut so-to-speak is a question -- the same question that the Sisters asked themselves.....

"What am I having the kids do that is creating readers and writers?"
"Is the goal to keep them busy or make a difference    in their literate lives?"

These are fundamental questions for teachers. The answer will depend a great deal on  your teaching point-of-view. Do you believe that a teacher's job is to relay information -- fill children's brains? Or, do you believe that a teacher's job is to guide children to develop literacy habits that will enable them to progress into competent readers and writers?

There have been many times that I felt like I couldn't teach because I was too busy making sure other kids' were working, not playing, not killing themselves or others...Geez -- don't we get tired of constantly putting out fires? Sometimes it feels like we are in a 3-ring circus and I'm the performer with the spinning plates! At some point, those plates are going to fall -- no matter how good you are....

This is where Daily 5 is an answer to our prayers... Let the kids help! Teach the kids how to do it and LET THEM! They are capable of so much more than we allow them to do. We cripple them by not allowing them to help control and manage their learning. Once we take that leap of faith and begin letting them help, our need for an external behavior management system lessens. D5 is a student-driven management system. That doesn't mean a "free-for-all". That means we are going to specifically teach the habits they need to have to be successful literacy learners - then LET THEM DO IT!

I am so excited to get started on this new adventure with all of you --some who have never used Daily 5 and some will be old pros... I embrace this learning experience and I am so grateful that I have YOU to discuss my thoughts, concerns, and questions with...
I hope you take this opportunity to learn with all of us. I look forward to seeing LOTS of conversations in the comments below. I will read each and every one!

Let's Get This Party Started!!