Sunday, September 28, 2014

Busy Little Life

I know, I know! I haven't blogged or posted in a while (I think I'm going on 2 weeks now??) A lot has happened: I had a surprise trip to NV for a "Celebration of Life" for my husband's aunt, formal observations from my principal, and my dad gets married next Saturday-I found out Wednesday that I needed to make the table overlays and center pieces for the wedding. I've been a very busy bee! Lol.

But I am back! Table cloths are made, centerpieces are crafted and I'm halfway through my new alphabet tracer packet that I'm going to be posting here.

For the past couple of weeks I have been focusing on a number a week, my "Magic Number" and the kids have been loving it. I created a Magic Number poster that hangs on my learning wall and we fill it in each day (it's the same answers all week so the kids get repeated exposure to the facts all week.)
I got the idea for each section from talking to my kinder team and finding out what they would like the kids to know when they get to kindergarten. They really wanted the kids to know one less than, one more than, tally marks and ten frames. I threw in odd and even and the number word, just because. 

I was also asked to work on penmanship. Not just recognizing the letters and knowing their sounds, but also how to PROPERLY form the letter. We were working on Aa the same week as the number 1 so I took some pictures of student work. As we get further into the alphabet the students will be expected to write the letters on their own. For now, I'm writing it in highlighter and the kids are tracing them.

I did a super fun lesson with the kids about coloring and following our "coloring rules" so our pictures come out really pretty for everything we do. I wrote the rules down and then drew three of the same pictures. I colored them in three different ways, progressively getting better, and I let the kids rank them and tell me which kind of face to put underneath it. Before every lesson we remind ourselves that "We are working for big smiles!" This poster is put up on the wall and they can look at it any time they want. So far it's been really helpful.

I have many more fun lessons I've done, and I can't wait to share them with you!

Your TK teacher

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fun Number Posters

So I have officially started curriculum in my classroom! Unfortunately, a lot of my students don't recognize ANY of their numbers at all. I wasn't really expecting anyone to come in knowing their numbers at all, if I'm being honest, but it made jumping into our math curriculum REALLY difficult. And when I say REALLY difficult, I mean...I had to completely scrap the original lesson 10 minutes in and start over with basic number recognition. 

We've only covered 0 and 1 but I plan to focus on a number a week, and have the kids get used to writing the number in multiple ways. I want them writing the actual number, the number word, tallies, ten frames, and I want them to be able to explain what number is one MORE and one LESS than the number we are working on. (I have a "Magic Number" poster that kind of covers all of this during our calendar and tactile learning wall time.)

To help with number formation I taught them some cute little number poems I found on the internet. I created some posters that can be printed out, mounted on a piece of construction paper and laminated. They are super fun and I know my kids LOVED learning the little poems that go along with each number (at least for 0 and 1 so far.)

I hope these help some of  you, like they've helped me.


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Homework set-up

Welcome back! So I'm a total of 8 days into class and boy has it been interesting. Trying to get all the curriculum taken care of, homework packets planned, long term planning and trainings and seminars. It's been busy. But I'm proud to announce I have finished my homework folders with homework helper and front cover. I'm super excited about them!

A good friend of mine, Lauren from A Teachable Teacher, gave me her homework helper files to play around with. You can find them at A Teachable Teacher. She is super sweet because they were a big help! I want to specify and clarify that I tweaked her homework folder front page. I added 10 frames and colors (since she is teaching first grade those weren't really necessary for her) and I have to say...I LOVE THEM!

This is my front cover. The background and clipart children are courtesy of Lauren and the ten frames and colors I put there myself. (I had to  make each ten frame myself piece by piece. Talk about time consuming.)

 The back of the homework helper. This is also courtesy of Lauren (THANKS LAUREN!!) I loved everything on here. Some of it I wont be able to use, but it's there just in case we get to go over it at the end of the year. (Dream big right?)

I had to print these out and glue these babies down to each side of the folder...and  yes, I slaved away on this for about an hour because I'm a perfectionist and each one HAD to be centered! (And I didn't notice until after I'd laminated that the numbers got cut off at the bottom. I just about cried when I saw that!)

Anyway, once I'd glued everything down I laminated the whole folder and split the pockets open using a razor blade. I can feel some of you staring at me with a glazed over look, but I promise! It works! The pockets are still usable as you'll see in coming photos. After I laminated everything I stapled our monthly behavior chart to the inside of the folder and put the behavior policy in one of the pockets. I missed back to school night since I started my year late, but I still wanted to give all my parents all the information I could.

 This was a full sized document that I just shrunk on our school copier to be a half sheet. I did two months on one page. Each day gets a color based on their color on our clip chart. I replace the chart each month and hold on to the log so I can see the students over all conduct and use it to figure out their conduct grade.
 Once I stuffed with the behavior policy I started on our first homework packet. Next week we are focusing exclusively on the letter Aa. I included my weekly newsletter (Peek at the Week), a memorization poem/song from Alphafriends that will help them with the short "a" sound, an Aa homework page, an Aa tracer page and some math pages provided through our math program's at-home workbook. It works out to about a page a night.

I've actually got all these files done and ready to be printed/copied for all 26 letters AND the four H brothers digraphs. Yay go me! I don't have to worry about homework for most of the year. I'll add and subtract from the packet as themes and ideas are covered in class or based on the season and/or holidays that are happening at any given time.

Welp now that all the prep for next week's homework is done, I'm off to search through my files for fun Aa crafts and writings for next week.

Hope to see you back!
Your TK teacher,

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Classroom Setup and Prep

Welp, it's a new year with a new classroom and a new set of expectations. With two years of kindergarten experience, the task of setting up a classroom and designing lessons for a TK (that's transitional kindergarten) class seems a bit daunting. TK, for those that aren't that familiar with the concept, is the first year of a two year kindergarten program that has been adopted and implemented here  in CA. There aren't really any standards and there is only a VAGUE idea of what should be covered since my kids will be going through a second year of kindergarten. Figuring  out what is developmentally appropriate for my kids, since they will be four, is a bit of a trick. 

I always start with a theme for my classroom, and this year I decided to play off the theme that the front office has going. They did a big bulletin board with the yellow brick road, emerald city, and complete with little Dorothy, Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow. A glittery red lettering reads: "There's no place like Preston."  Naturally, my little mind floated straight to my favorite song from that movie "Somewhere Over the Rainbow..." and BOOM...a theme was born.

"Our TK Place Over the Rainbow."

The design of my room was a bit tricky since I have so many cabinets built in (not complaining about that in the slightest!) but when I sat down and really thought about it, the layout and design happened fairly quickly. 

 The resource teacher was moving out of my room when I first showed up.
 The computer area, I call that my technology corner.
 ALL THE PAPER!!! Bulletin board wall pt 1
 Bulletin board wall pt 2
Front board

Having all the extra stuff in the room was a little disorienting but the RSP teacher was really sweet and was quick to get everything out as fast as possible. First thing first I needed to rip down all the paper. And there was A LOT of paper. 4 layers of paper. Three trashcans of paper...did I mention all the paper? Anywho...starting with a clean slate was the first step so I cleaned everything off the walls and took down everything hanging from the ceiling (I don't know if you can tell but there were some area labels hanging from the ceiling at random spaces in the classroom.)

Rainbows became a big thing for me. I figure the kids have to learn the colors anyway, why not have them ALL OVER THE ROOM! The boards were the first thing to go up. I made my word wall, and then started with my "teacher corner" and moved on to math, writing, art, science, sequencing and shapes.  

I found the CUTEST borders ever at CM school supply to accent all the colors going on in my room.
(I think it's adorable...but it's really plain to most people)

It took me 4 straight days of hanging paper, cutting paper, hanging borders and fiddling with everything before I liked JUST THE WALLS! Not to mention the desks and library area. I had a week to prep and set up my class and I'm pretty proud of how it came out. 
 Full classroom shot.
 Word wall and technology corner.
 Bulletin boards pt 1
 Bulletin boards pt 2 and library/calendar area
Classroom entrance.

I'm still missing some things that the district has on order  (like my kidney table and rug) but all in all I love the way it came out. Can't wait for my kiddos to come in and start learning. 

Off for another adventure,
Your TK Teacher
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