Saturday, February 23, 2013

St. Patrick's Day Shenanigans!

Hello Friends!  I am SOOO excited to let you know that I have finished my latest TPT unit!  I have been working so hard it, for so long... I'm doing a "happy dance" that I have finally finished! 
You've gotta take a peek! 
It's PACKED full of fun and crazy activities, games, crafts and etc. for St. Patrick's Day. 
(You know me...I just LOVE crazy, fun!) 
It will give you everything you need to convince your kiddos that there has been a leprechaun invasion in your classroom!
(It's 50+ pages of magical mayhem!)

(Click HERE or on the above picture to check it out in more detail!)
Packet Contents:

Introduction to St. Patrick’s Day

  What is St. Patrick’s Day?  Class Book: An introduction to the holiday… and the idea of a leprechaun visit! (pages 3-10)

       ** Print out and bind or staple to make a book to share with the class  to prep the
               class for your “leprechaun” visit!

Classroom Shenanigans

       Letters from the Leprechaun (pages 11-13)

       “Search for Gold” Scavenger Hunt (pages 14-24 )

       St. Patrick’s Shenanigans & Classroom Chaos (pg. 25)

St. Patrick’s Day Science

         Hocus-Pocus Hats: Magically shrink your student-made leprechaun hats to leprechaun size! (pages 26-28 )

         Magical Mayhem: Make your classroom tap water flow green! (page 29)

         Rainbow Revelations: Color mixing exploration (page 30)


       Rainbow Windsocks (page 31)

       Sequence-by-Size Rainbows (page 32-44)

       Rainbow-N-Shamrock Necklace (page 45-46)

St. Patrick’s Snacks

       Golden Finger-Jello (page 47)

       Rainbow Fruit Kabobs (page 47)

       Rainbow Cupcakes (page 48)

       Rainbow Arch Cupcakes (page 49))

       Sherbet and Sprite Leprechaun Floats (page 49)

St. Patrick’s Day Games and Challenges

       The Golden Touch Leprechaun Challenge (page 50)

       Hide the Leprechaun Game (page 50-51)
The kids honestly had a BALL with these activities! They freaked out when the water in the faucet ran green! Here is a peek at another one of their favorite activities! 
Oh! And one more note....
I added a "Follow me by email" button on the side of my BLOG!   Type in your email and my posts will come to you directly!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"What I'm Loving..." Linky Party!


I'm linking up with one of my all-time FAVORITE bloggers, Kathleen at "Growing Kinders," to share some of my LOVES! 
I am loving....

1.) My family
My hubby (Troy)...  My Twins (Hunter & Alexa)...
& My "Baby" (Colton)

2.) Celebrating Presidents' Day!   Ok. Ok.  I'll be honest... I'm loving the opportunity to be goofy!  Gotta love a "costume opportunity!"  (If you want a good laugh... check out my Presidential RAP video in the below post! LOL)

3.) Starbucks.  (Enough said??)

4.) Pinterest.   There is no denying it.  I'm totally addicted!

5.) My blogging buddies!  Hmmm... I wonder if I'm really allowed to refer to them as "buddies"...considering I'm sure some of them don't know I'm alive.  However, they are like virtual super-friends.... the teachers who inspire me to be a better teacher every day.   Thank to my best-est blogging "buddies"....  (Even if you don't know I'm alive! Hee!)

Kathleen at Growing Kinders

6. Spending hours and hours this week on one of the BEST problems a girl could have......

Do I go to Las Vegas to see Dee at the SDE "I Teach K" National Conference....... ConfImage01
Do I go to Chicago and see Cara and Abby at the "Extraodinary Educators" National Conference???
ExtraOrdinary Logo
Anyone else out there going to one of these AWESOME conferences this summer?  I've been to Vegas for "I Teach K"... and it is INCREDIBLE!!!
**     **      **     **      **     **      **     **      **     **      **     **
Join us for this LOVING-LINKY PARTY!!!
Click here to go to Kathleen's page and "link up!"

Friday, February 15, 2013

Celebrating Presidents' Day!

If you haven't figured it out certainly will come to the realization after this post that sometimes things can get a bit crazy in our kinder-classroom!  Today's "Fun-Friday" theme was Presidents' what better way to "celebrate" (a.k.a. secretly TEACH) than to invite George Washington and Abe Lincoln themselves into the classroom!

(My educational "partner in crime," Mrs. Kidd, and I LOVE to dress up in character costumes to bring learning to life! Look at Abe's serious face!)  
 Presidents' Day
We began our "Fun Friday" afternoon activities by having our awesome Friday "Mom" volunteer read Celebrating Presidents' Day by Anne Rockwell.  After the reading, the students were suprised by a knock at the door....
And the entrance of George and Abe themselves!  After a bit of small talk, George and Abe broke into an awesome Presidents' Day rap song and dance! (Shout out to HarryKindergarten on YouTube for the great President's Day song and video!) 
Click below to see us in action!  It's good for a few laughs at the very least!!!
Next, George shared some facts about his life...his accomplishments, jobs, life stories (yes.. I included the "cherry tree incident")...and even threw in a "plug" for dental health month by sharing the secret fact that he didn't take care of his teeth as a child and how he ended up with hippopotamus false teeth!  (The kiddos will NEVER "forget" to brush their teeth again! Ha!)  George was sure to point out SEVERAL reasons why many people refer to him as the "greatest president ever!"

Next came Abe, serious and stoic... sharing facts of his life and the things he did as our president.   (I think the kids actually understood the Emancipation Proclamation by the time "he" was done!?) Abe argued why HE is often seen as the "greatest president ever!"
Finally... after a classroom debate, it was decided that BOTH George AND Abe were great presidents!
Next came George and Abe art! 
(I just created some basic shape templates for this project. Most pieces were pre-cut.  The project was a nice, basic follow-the-directions step-by-stepper!  If you would like the shape templates, post a comment and I will send them to you!)
Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire
Followed by a reading of Liar! Liar! Pants on Fire! by Diana DeGroat . 
We concluded the day with a "gift" from Abe ... a Presidents' Day book to add to students' familiar reading book boxes.  (Abe had shared his deep LOVE of reading with the kiddos earlier and that one of the "greatest gifts" one could receive is a book!)
Presidents' Day: An Emergent Reader About Washington and Lincoln    Presidents' Day: An Emergent Reader About Washington and Lincoln
(Click on the pics above to go to Lil' Country Kindergarten's TPT store and find the book!)
How do you celebrate Presidents' Day? 
Share with us!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Thanks a Latte" Freebie!

I needed a cute, but QUICK (and inexpensive) gift to give my wonderful classroom helpers and aides for Valentine's Day..... so I whipped up this printable card on PowerPoint.  All I have to do is make a trip through Starbucks' Drive-Thru and I'm golden! Hee!
Feel free to click on the link below to download  your edit-able version of this card!  Happy Valentine's Day!


"Pin It" to pass it on!  

Monday, February 11, 2013

Celebrating 100th Day!

If you are blog-surfer...I know you have already been "hit" by the 100 Day "wave".... so I will spare overwhelming you with a minute by minute replay of my celebration.  I will, however, share a few of my 100 Day highlights in pictures and captions!   If you have any questions, simply post a comment and I'll get back with you and share the details! 
My kinder-babies were welcomed to the classroom with this festive door decor!  (It's amazing how exciting a few strips of crepe paper can be for little ones!)
"Zero the Hero" made a special visit!  The kids were in AWE!   He brought us a 100 day treat.  (Yep!  There are 100 gummi-savers on top!)  Super Yummy!
"Zero the Hero" recited a little poem explaining his job and the importance of zero as a place holder.  Then, he accepted questions from the kiddos.  My favorite was, "Zero.  Do you know any other super heroes?"  Of course, Zero answered..."Oh Yes!   Superman and Batman are my best friends!"  The boys almost fainted!!!   One little dude just couldn't contain himself and shouted out, "Can you PLEASE bring Batman back with you next time you visit?"  Hee!   Gotta love Zero the Hero!   (BTW.... "Zero" was actually our school board president!   Does my school rock, or what??  Oh... and that's me with Zero!)
Below you will find a few examples of the awesome 100 day activities I used from the ultra-wonderful GROWINGKINDERS over on TPT!   Click HERE to check them out! 


Counting our brought-from-home bag of 100 items, by grouping them into 10 sets of 10!

Creating our "100 Day Snack" with 10 pieces of 10 different snack-a-rooniees!
What a great day!  We had a great time!  I heard at least five "littles" say, "Today was the best day of my life!"   It's days like this that reminds you why ALL the work is SO worth it! 
Teaching kindergarten is the BEST job in the world!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Assessment Ideas & Organization

Well... Last week was "report card" week for me.   So... naturally, the last several weeks have been an intense time for me!   Assessing, assessing, assessing.... recording, organizing, reporting!  Whew!  While "quarter ends" are absolutely EXHAUSTING for me.... they are so worthwhile! "Report card" time forces me to pull out all of my informal, formative assessments and compare them with my formal, summative assessments to determine where each of my kiddos is truly "AT."   As I move through this process, I am ALWAYS looking for new ways to make the assessment process more efficient...and ultra-organized!   So... I'm going to share some of the things I use to stay organized and on top of my standards.... and I hope you will share with me too!
Here are a few things I do:
1. My NUMBER ONE goal is to know EXACTLY what EACH and EVERY CHILD knows....specifically, down to every common core standard!   I assess every child, every quarter with a formal assessment on the specific standards that kinder-kiddos are "supposed" to know for that quarter! (I do have help from my awesome kinder-aides with this task.) How do I do this?    I use this GREAT tool from KINDERGARTEN WORKS.
This bundle includes a list for each quarter of the common core standards each child should know.  It also includes written assessments for each quarter on these same standards.  EVERYTHING is organized for you.  All the assessment questions and activites are right there...done for you! You literally grab a pencil...and sometimes a few common manipulatives...and you are ready!   When I'm finished administering the assessment each quarter, I have a clear look at EXACTLY which standards my kiddos have mastered...and which ones they still need help on.   I then take that information and highlight the quarterly standards that EACH kiddo has NOT mastered on the corresponding quarterly standard list (which is "edit-able" by the way!) and I send it home with my report card.  My parents know EXACTLY what skills their children need to work on.  Most importantly, I know exactly which skills my students need extra instruction on...and BOY! OH BOY! does it inform my teaching!    Sometimes I think I "hit" a standard well and everyone "seems" to know it... and then the assessments show BAM!   I was wrong!   For example, this quarter I was sure that my kiddos all knew what "setting" meant (in regard to stories)... and guess what?   Several kiddos just didn't know!  And many more could not verbally DEFINE it as the Common Core requires.    Guess who just did another mini-lesson on "setting" this week?  :)    

2.  To stay organized I create an individualized "Student Assessment Binder" for EACH student.   At the beginning of the year, I place inside any information that I received from the incoming students' preschools.    I also put all of my beginning of the year assessment paperwork inside.  (We use the new DIAL test at kindergarten registration for developmental screening... and then I invite each of my students into my classroom the week before school starts to visit the room.. AND I also give them a partial assessment of the 1st quarter CCSS KINDERGARTENWORKS assessment.)   This info really helps me plan for the beginning of the year, as it gives me a nice picture of what all my kiddos know.   As the year progresses, I stick various student work examples in the binders with little comments I write added on to them, as well as any anecdotal assessment notes.    Then, obviously I place each quarter's CCSS KINDERGARTENWORKS assessments along with each student's highlighted quarterly common core standard list.... which basically becomes that child's INDIVIDUAL LEARNING PLAN for the next quarter!  


I use 1 inch binders with slide-in covers!
You can see in the front left pocket I keep student behavior records (I use a "stoplight" system), home reading records, and copies of formal report cards and progress reports.  In the back pocket you may notice that I keep student work samples.  The page that you see IN the binder rings is the student's quarterly goal sheet.   This is a printed version of ALL of the state standards (broken into quarterly expectations) on which I highlight EACH student's common core standard performance.  I assess EVERY CCSS each quarter and any standard that each student has NOT mastered gets highlighted.  Those highlighted standards become THAT child's goals for the next quarter.

Above, you see more pages of the quarterly student learning objectives.
I do this for EVERY kiddo in my class EVERY quarter. 
How do I assess EVERY standard for each quarter?  Well, I'll be honest... It takes time.  But it is SOOO worth it!  I really feel like I know EXACTLY where each kiddo is in regard to our learning standards.   I use these comprehensive assessments created by KINDERGARTENWORKS on TPT.  They were designed by a very knowledgeable team of teachers from my former school system in Mishawaka, IN.  
Here you see the monthly homework packets I send home with my kinder-babies each month.  They are AWESOME!  They are specifically designed to cover the CCSS.  They are constructed so that students can do one activity a night (that may take 3 minutes or so)... or the activites can be done as parents have time.   I set "due dates" as the last day of each month.  They ROCK!  I love them not just  because they provide my kiddos with extra practice on the standard skills....but because they allow parents to  SEE and UNDERSTAND what we are working on in class!   (We all know how well parents tend to read our weekly newsletters! LOL)  If you are interested check out KIM SWOVELAND's store on TPT! 

3. At the end of the school year, I meet with the first grade teacher for the "passing of the binders."   At this time, I can literally SHOW her EXACTLY which skills/standards EACH child has mastered and which skills/standards she will need to provide extra support on.   Of course, it is my hope that the first grade teacher will continue this process....and 2nd, etc.    Can you imagine how AWESOME that would be?   Our kiddos would go into third grade and the teachers/parent would ALREADY know.... BEFORE "THE TEST".... EXACTLY how they will perform!   Ahhh... teaching perfection.   **<DREAM... DREAM...>**   Ok... I acknowledge that at least at my school we are NOT "there".... but I am doing my part to the best of my ability!   I am hoping others will see the value of truly knowing where EACH child "is" and then strive to achieve that.

Please share!  What do YOU do for assessments? 
 How do YOU track student progress?