Sunday, October 28, 2012

Reading Centers

We OFFICIALLY started our reading centers this week.  My kiddo's had been doing reading centers but at  their tables with a group of 4.  Now that we are officially on our way to reading (I have taught all single letter phonograms and majority of my kiddo's are onto cvc words) we also had to be on our way to independent reading centers.  

I broke my kiddo's up into groups of 2 or 3 that involved partners of different reading levels (one high, one low and one medium if need be).  I then have a SmartBoard screen (sorry I forgot to take a shot of it on our school computers since my home computer does not have Smart-Notebook) that has the kiddo's names/grouping and a picture of the two centers they will be going to (each lasting about 8-12 minutes). That way they know where they are going to go 1st and 2nd.  They go to all the stations before we rotate through them again.  Right now there are 8 different centers.  

I put a lot of my centers in cute bags:
That way my kiddo's just grab their bag and find a spot in the classroom to do the activity. It makes for easy clean up and the ability for me to switch out centers easily.  
(I found all the bags in the dollar section of Target last spring.)

Here are the centers my kiddo's are working on currently:

Magnet Board
At this center the kiddo's make the sight words we have been working on.  When they make the sight words with their magnet letters they have to say the word to their partner.  

Letter Matching/ Phonogram Sounds
At this center the kiddo's have to match the capitals on the clothes pins to the lower case on the sentence strips.  When they find a match they have to say the phonogram(s) sound to their partner.

At this center they can read together or independently books we have previously read during story time.  (My kiddo's LOVE to re-read stories I have read to them.)

Sight Words
At this center the kiddo's each get their own "sight word quilt" and with markers they can write any of the sight words from the sight word wall.  Once they have filled out their whole sheet they can go back with crayons and color the words as they read them.

At this center they keep the "worms" in the the bag.  The kiddo's take turns pulling out a worm and saying the phonogram sound.  If they say it correctly they keep the worm and if not they put it back in the bag.  If they get a worm that says "Book Worm!" they have to put all their worms back in. 

CVC Words
At this center the kiddo's can read CVC words together or independently.  The beginning sound can be changed to make a new word or the blue books have the ability to change any of the 3 sounds (I tell them how some words are nonsense and we just blend the phonograms to see if the word is real or not).

Listening Center
The kiddo's listen to a book on tape (as simple as it comes!).

At this center the kiddos turn the dinosaurs onto their white sides.  Then they take turns flipping 2 dinosaurs over and reading the sight words that are on them.  If they match they keep them and if not they turn them back over for the other player.

As you can see my kiddos are really focusing on the skills of phonogram sounds, sight words, cvc words, and reading familiar stories. 

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gumball Math

My kiddos and I have been decomposing numbers 1-10 for a while now as well as finding two amounts that put together make 10.  
(K.OA.3-decompose numbers less tan or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way AND K.OA.4-for any number from 1 to 9, find the number that makes 10 when added to the given number)  
We have not been using equations with with + and = signs but we have been using the formula 
____ red  and ____ yellow make 10 (or whatever the said amount is).  

My kiddo's had been working on this standard for about a week so I decided to find a way to make it a little more creative.  Plus we needed to revamp our hallway board.  

Here is what we made:

Gumball Math!
**this activity did take a little over 30 minutes... plan accordingly!**

First my kiddos found five different ways to make 10.  
Then they chose the one way they wanted to show in the gumball machine.
Once decided we put that to the side and made our gumball machine.

Here the site I got it from:
scroll down and click on the "gumball machine pattern"
Mrs. T used this as a way to show equations of 10 but since we were not ready for that yet I modified.

I printed one master copy of the pattern and then traced the top and bottom onto red construction paper before copying enough to make for the whole class.  I also traced the square onto brown paper and the main circle as well as the gumballs onto white construction paper.  This way my kiddo's would only have to color their gumballs and not the rest *time saved I promise!!
They cut the pieces out and glued the gumball machine together before doing the gumball part.  
(I modeled how to put the pieces together correctly before they got started.)

Once they had the gumball machine ready we went back to our chosen way to make 10 and colored the amount of each gumballs accordingly.

They glued their gumballs onto their machine as well as their number sentence.

Here is their adorable work!

And here is how our outside board tuned out!!
Kinder-Math be Poppin'!
*just in time for parent-teacher conferences*

As you can see we also put up our other work on how we have been making 10.

Happy Teaching!!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Stamina Reading

I LOVE stamina reading!!! 
My first year teaching I went to an all day class through our district and one of the topics they discussed was stamina reading.  What it was, why it is important for kiddos to do, how it works differently in grade levels and classrooms.  One new teacher raised her hand and told of her struggle with implementing it in her classroom.  She said she taught kinder and her kiddos could not even make it for 1 minute!! I do not know why that has stuck with me, even to this day, but from that moment on I knew I would not only be immediately implementing it into my classroom but that my kiddos would succeed in doing it for WAY more than 1 minute!!

Here is how I use stamina reading in my classroom:

I use stamina reading to not only give my kiddos a chance to re-read familiar books but to also gain stamina (get it, stamina reading!!) in reading independently for a good chunk of time.  
Here is how I build up my kiddos stamina.  
I made an anchor chart my 2nd year of teaching and have been successfully using it since.
(Sorry its a little hard to read and there are no cute pictures but hey it works.)
 It says:
Stamina Reading:
You must: read the whole time & not move places & not be distracting & be quiet
You can: whisper read & read the pictures

The numbers 1-20 are a count up to their final goal of actively participating in stamina reading for 20 minutes.  
20 MINUTES you say!!! 
It is true!!
Kindergarten kiddos can read for 20 minutes independently!!
Every class I have taught has made this goal!!

When I first start stamina reading I go over expectations very thoroughly! I model what I mean by reading pictures (especially since I did not have a single reader at the beginning of this school year) and how if I get through all of my books I can go back and read them again..  I discuss with them their goal of being able to read 20 minutes independently by the end of the school year. We also discuss how when we reach certain minutes that are circled in blue we get rewards.  

For minutes 1-3 my kiddos have to stay in their seats and read books from their book baskets that are on their tables.  (They each pick 3 books prior to the time starting so there is no fighting over books during stamina reading.)  When everyone (I make a big deal how we are a team and everyone has to be successful for that certain amount of time during stamina reading before we can move on to more time) has successfully done their part of being an independent reader during our allotted time I color in that number with a red marker and we move on to the next minute goal.  When the kiddos have successfully read for 3 minutes they get to move out of their seats and sit anywhere in our classroom (hitting our first goal that is circled).  

When they move around the room we go over a couple more expectations.  Those expectations being they have to be arms length away from everyone else, only one person under each table, and they cannot be moving around once they have found their spot.  
The kiddos LOVE being able to move and read around the classroom.  
I give each of them a large ziploc bag of about 6-7 books.  We use Hartcourt Reading material at our school so I put their pre-decodable and decodable books in their ziploc bags plus some other small books I inherited when I moved classrooms.  We currently read one pre-decodable Hartcourt book per week that we practice over and over.  By the time they get their ziploc bag of books there should be at least 1 book that they can read the words independently.  (Once I start doing guided reading with my kiddos I will make them personalized bags so they can practice all the books they have been reading at school during class and guided reading.)

My kiddos just got to 7 minutes so they have earned their whisper phones.
We once again discuss expectations of using a whisper phone and not "playing" with our whisper phone!
(I love whisper phones because the kids can really hear themselves reading!!)
 Look at her using her whisper phone and her reading finger!!!

My kiddos are currently working on getting to 10 minutes so we can have a day where we go outside to do stamina reading!

I haven't yet decided what they are going to be earning at 13 minutes (I try to change it up every year).  At 16 minutes they will be earning popcorn to eat during stamina reading and at 20 minutes a pizza party!!
I always tell them about their final goal when starting stamina reading in our classroom that way they can be excited to not only read that long but get such an awesome prize!!

What I do while they are reading:
I monitor till about 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes I start pulling a small skill group or individual kids who need a couple minutes of one on one attention in a certain area. I also monitor students individual reading levels by sitting next to them and having them read me a book.  They LOVE when I do this!

Things to remember:
I also discuss with my kiddos how I am not available for them during this time.  They cannot get up and try to talk to me at all.  I also remind them that it is not time to go to the bathroom/get a drink (of course you have those emergencies but for the most part the rule is followed very well in my classroom).  

Stamina reading not only allows your kiddos to get more practice reading previously taught text but it also teaches them to love reading and enjoy have time to get into books.  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Story Map... a Kinder kind :)

So about 2 weeks ago I decided I NEEDED to make a story map anchor chart.  Look at what I was working with...
(Knuffle Bunny is an adorable book and my kiddos LOVED when the baby "talks"! They thought it was hilarious and definitely a story they could relate to (lost toys)).
So I made a REAL anchor chart...
As you can see it is much improved.  My kiddos love to verbally fill it out and know the objective for reading a narrative text.  
Now that I have an appropriate and useful anchor chart I wanted to get my kiddos even more involved.  They are not ready to independently write but they can draw!! I first started out with just the title and the characters.
 We read The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!.  It is a hilarious story and only has two characters and dialog, nothing else to distract the kiddos.  After we filled out the Story Map chart we passed out our own papers and got to work drawing the characters.
The kiddos did a really great job drawing the characters and we even talked about labeling them with their names!
The next day we moved onto focusing on setting.
We read The Napping House (where everyone is sleeping until something wakes them up). This is a great book to focus on setting because it stays the same till the very last page.  
The kiddos told me what the setting was and what I should draw to show it.  
Here is how some of the kiddos turned out:

Since my kiddos did such a great job on both characters and setting when we focused on them individually, I decided it was time to combined them and do both.  
We read the story Caramba (about a cat who should fly like the other cats but cannot).  We filled out the Story Map anchor chart and then we moved on to our own.
We drew the characters together on the SmartBoard.  Then we talked about the setting in the story again (outside in grass, the shore, or the ocean).  The kiddos could choose what they wanted to draw to represent the setting for the story.  Here is how one turned out:
 (I thought I took more pictures of some of the other kiddo's work but I cannot find them.  I will take more this week as we continue to work on setting and characters of each story we read.)

Happy Teaching!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012


I got my act together and here is a couple ideas of what I use almost daily on my SmartBoard notebook.  

The first thing my kiddos and I do in the morning (after bellwork) is phonograms (Sequential Processing).  At my school we have been discussing and working on making objectives kids friendly so they know what they are going to do and why.  My co-worker/friend Kristen and I made one on our SmartBoard for our phonograms.  (Check out her blog:  
We start each morning with the question, "Why do we learn phonograms?" with the choral response "So we can read and write!".  Then I go over everything we are going to do and we begin.  As we complete each part we check them off.
My kiddos LOVE it!  They know what to expect and can make the connection of why they are learning phonograms.  

Here is the screen we use when learning how to write a new phonograms.
I write on the top 2 lines, explicitly describing how I am writing the capital and lower case of each phonograms while the kiddos practice in the air with their finger.  Then I pick kiddos to come up and practice capital/lower case of the phonogram while the rest of us write it in the air with our "magic finger"!
Having the black, red, and blue lines is very helpful so when I am describing how to write it or asking a kiddo to fix their work I can use the colors as a helpful visual.  (Ex: Start at the top black line, go diagonally down to the bottom blue line, diagonally back up to the top black line... etc).  They LOVE getting to come up and practice on the SmartBoard.  

After we get done with Sequential Processing I read an Expository Text on the SmartBoard based off the phonogram of the day.
Expository Text
The kiddos and I discuss what expository text is, what the topic for the days expository text is (pointing out that it is a word that begins with the same phonogram as the one we learned for the day), what we already know about the topic, answer questions while we read it, and what we learned from it when we are finished reading it.  It's an easy way to introduce expository text at the beginning of the school year without overwhelming them.  Once we get through all of the single phonograms (26) we go back and re-learn each one putting lots more emphasis on words that begin with that phonogram and independently writing it perfectly.  We also revisit each one of the expository texts but this time at the end they have to write 1 sentence using the topic and a fact they learned.  Last year my kiddos liked reading the expository text better the second time around because they were familiar with it and excited to pick and write their favorite fact from each text.  

Sight Words
My kiddos love to play games on the SmartBoard.  One game I found last year was a "button" sight word game.  I found it on SmartBoard Exchange (  It is a totally FREE!!!! site that lets teachers exchange what they have made of the SmartBoard.  You can pick by grade level and/or topic.  If you have never gone to this site GO!!!!  
Anyways, I changed this one to the words my kiddos are currently working on.  
 I start the game by pressing a button.  Everyone thinks in their head what the word is.  Then I pick a student to say the word.  If they get the word correct everyone says the word together and that kiddo gets to press the orange button that takes you back to the button page and then press a different button (if they get it wrong everyone says the word together, they repeat it after, and then get to choose the next word).  

As I come across more SmartBoard resources I am using and loving I will blog about them too!!

Happy Teaching!