Wednesday, July 27, 2016

6 Fave Books for August

Hey guys and dolls, how's it going?

We all have our favorite read aloud books

that we love to share with our students every month. 

Today, I want to share with you 6 of my favorite books

to read during the month of August!6 great books to read for the month of August. These books cover everything from colors and sight words to character education, classroom management and comprehension!


Alright, let's jump right in!


The Night Before Kindergarten

6 great books to read for the month of August. These books cover everything from colors and sight words to character education, classroom management and comprehension!

The Night Before Kindergarten by Natasha Wing is at the top of 

my fave books for August, especially the first day of school!

Not only does this book rhyme (bonus!), it is extremely

descriptive about preparing for the first day of school. 

It's also a great conversation starter, and gets your kids

talking about what they did to prepare for school.

We also begin to practice speaking and listening skills,

and taking turns!


Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
6 great books to read for the month of August. These books cover everything from colors and sight words to character education, classroom management and comprehension!

I must admit, when the Pete the Cat craze started to overtake

all primary classrooms, I had no idea what everyone was talking about!

This was the first book that I bought in that series, and I was hooked

every since! I love to read this book the second week of school,

because it is a great introduction to a lot of colors and color words,

and our first sight words are the words 'red' and 'blue',

so it's a win-win situation for me!


If You Take A Mouse To School
6 great books to read for the month of August. These books cover everything from colors and sight words to character education, classroom management and comprehension!


We all know what happens if we take a mouse to school!

My students love to see the antics that the mouse gets into when 

he hitches a ride to school. We read through the book,

it's a great way to slide in a discussion about reality and fantasy,

and we also try to think about what the mouse will do next!

Extraordinary Jane
6 great books to read for the month of August. These books cover everything from colors and sight words to character education, classroom management and comprehension!

Now, this book just may be my absolute fave book to read in August.

I chose this book, because I wanted a great circus themed book

to match my classroom theme. 

Once I actually read it, I fell in love with it!

Jane and her family and friends are in the circus.

She thinks that she's just extra ordinary, 

meanwhile, her family is extraordinary!

Throughout the book, she realizes that she's just Jane,

and that there is nothing wrong with that!

I also love this book, because there aren't a lot of words,

so you can focus more on the pictures. 

This is the first book that we take a picture walk through!


Have You Filled A Bucket Today?
6 great books to read for the month of August. These books cover everything from colors and sight words to character education, classroom management and comprehension!

My school is a Leader in Me school, and a bucket-filling school,

because they go hand in hand. 

It's amazing that after years and years of trying to explain

how important it is to treat others like we want to be treated,

along comes a book, and I thought it was a long book,

but amazingly, they get it!

They truly get what it means to dip from someone's bucket,

and to pour into someone's bucket. 


Lacey Walker Nonstop Talker
6 great books to read for the month of August. These books cover everything from colors and sight words to character education, classroom management and comprehension!

Whew!! Talkers!!! If you see them, point them out!!!

No, don't, I'm just kidding!

This is a great book to read when you notice who your 

Chatty Kathy's are, especially when they're influencing some other students!

Lacey ends up talking so much in this story, that she misses some

very important things!

A great lesson for littles on there being a time to talk,

and a time to listen!




These are only 6 of my fave read aloud for August, 

I have several more that I read, but you would be reading for days!

What are your favorite read aloud for the month of August?




6 great books to read for the month of August. These books cover everything from colors and sight words to character education, classroom management and comprehension!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Integrating Sensory Tables into your Kindergarten Classroom


Great ideas for integrating DIY sensory tables into a kindergarten classroom! This is great for teaching all learners through their senses, helping them to define their physical, social & emotional, cognitive, language & creative development.



Hey everyone, how's it going?

I finally went up to my classroom to get it together

for the upcoming year, and I came across 

all of my sensory table materials. 

So I decided that I wanted have a chat about how I 

integrated sensory tables into my center rotations. 


If you missed the post on how I begin centers in general,

you can check it out here!

Before we talk about how to integrate them into your center rotations,

I want to talk about why. 

Why sensory tables?

Sensory tables are something that I have wanted to do

for several years now, and it took me a while to do some 

research, and to think about how it would go in my classroom. 


I wanted to be armed with research, because I wanted to know the 'why'

behind what we were gong to do, and I wanted to be able to explain it

if someone higher up wanted to ask me about it.

Sensory play is anything that engages the five senses,

touch, taste, seeing, hearing, and feeling. 

Children learn best when more of their senses are engaged,

and this is enhanced if these experiences are hands-on. 

Sensory tables reach students who are tactile learners, as well as

those who are visual learners. 

They also remember more of what they learn with their senses. 

Great ideas for integrating DIY sensory tables into a kindergarten classroom! This is great for teaching all learners through their senses, helping them to define their physical, social & emotional, cognitive, language & creative development.

While your students are exploring and having fun,

they are also learning in many different ways. 

Let's take a look at some of them!


Creative Development

First and foremost, there is room for creative development. Sometimes the

curriculum that we follow seems to not provide an opportunity for this.

As primary teachers, we know that this is extremely important!

At this age, children learn through play!! Yes!!

I know, you already know this, we just need to keep telling everyone else!


Language Development

Each time a student comes to the sensory table, they will use

all of the materials there in a different way. 

If students in a group don't have a shared background story,

it gives them some common ground to stand on. 

I was amazed at the conversations that I would overhear

from the sensory table!

Great ideas for integrating DIY sensory tables into a kindergarten classroom! This is great for teaching all learners through their senses, helping them to define their physical, social & emotional, cognitive, language & creative development.

Physical Development

Sensory tables are a great center in which students can

manipulate the materials and practice their fine motor skills!

They learn control over their motor skills, which is so 

important for zipping zippers, tying shoes, handwriting, etc.


Social & Emotional Development

This is another piece of early childhood that current

curriculum trends tend to ignore. 

They learn to cooperate with their peers and they learn to

listen to someone else's point of view, even if they don't agree with it.

It is during this type of learning that self-discovery occurs. 

They become able to express themselves, 

and share what they have learned. 


Cognitive Development

Last, but certainly not least, is cognitive development. 

Students are able to make decisions, and feel good about them.

They are able to problem solve, and begin to analyze different things. 


Great ideas for integrating DIY sensory tables into a kindergarten classroom! This is great for teaching all learners through their senses, helping them to define their physical, social & emotional, cognitive, language & creative development.

So, you've said yes to a sensory table! Congratulations!

Now how do you go about integrating it into your center rotation?

It's definitely not a decision to be taken lightly, because if it's 

implemented quickly or haphazardly, then disaster is coming!


I definitely do not begin with teaching this center.

I begin by teaching the basic centers first. 

When I feel that they're ready, then I move towards this center. 

I decided for our first foray into sensory tables, I wanted to begin 

with something that would be super easy to clean up. 

So that means no rice. Let me repeat myself......

Do NOT begin sensory tables with rice!

It will get everywhere, and it will encourage you to abandon

sensory tables altogether. Don't do it!


I like to begin with noodles! They're pretty big, and they're

super easy to clean up. And we stick with the noodles during what 

I like to call the training phase. 

Just as you have to be extremely diligent when teaching center

routines and procedures, you have to do the same thing,

even more so, when you're teaching this center. 


We talk about how the materials don't belong in our mouths,

even though some of it is real food, we can't eat it!

We talk about how the sensory materials are pretty,

but they also do not belong in our pockets, we cannot

take them home, as much as we want to!

Great ideas for integrating DIY sensory tables into a kindergarten classroom! This is great for teaching all learners through their senses, helping them to define their physical, social & emotional, cognitive, language & creative development.

 Once we have the routines and procedures down, and we're past the

stage of wanting to them in our mouths, and we're picking

up material from the floor, then I begin switching out materials. 

Now, don't worry if you don't have enough sensory materials

for the entire year. Neither did I. Whenever I didn't have themed

sensory materials, I pulled the noodles back out. 

My goal this year is to fill in what I didn't have the year before. 
Great ideas for integrating DIY sensory tables into a kindergarten classroom! This is great for teaching all learners through their senses, helping them to define their physical, social & emotional, cognitive, language & creative development.

What I also love about sensory tables in Kindergarten, is that you

can use center materials that you were already using!

No reinventing the wheel!

My fave things to use in this center is anything that is a mat

from my friend Vickie Plant

This includes her phonics mats, and her ABC Visual Discrimination Mats!! 

Great ideas for integrating DIY sensory tables into a kindergarten classroom! This is great for teaching all learners through their senses, helping them to define their physical, social & emotional, cognitive, language & creative development.

I also have blog posts about dyeing sensory materials,


I hope that your endeavor into sensory tables turn out great!




Monday, July 11, 2016

Beginning Centers in Kindergarten

Hey guys and dolls, how's it going?

Summer is chugging along at an alarmingly fast 

pace now that the calendar says July! Sigh.



Ugh....moving on.....



One of the things that I am known for at my school,

in my love for centers. I love, love, love centers 

and small group time. I often have teachers coming into my room 

to learn about how I do centers, mainly how do I get them

started, and once they are started, how I keep them running 

smoothly throughout the year.

So today, I want to share with you what I have learned over the years!

Tips for Beginning Centers in Kindergarten

I begin center routines and procedures the first full week of school.

Now, they don't realize that this is what we're doing, 

they just think that they get to play. 

At my school, a lot of my students have not really had an 

opportunity to participate in structured play. 

So before we start moving around the room, we do some 

tabletop work at our desks, which are in groups of 4. 

This includes a lot of math manipulative and play centers,

like play-doh, legos, etc. 

During this time, we talk about appropriate voice levels, 

working with our friends and sharing and using materials properly.  
Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

What am I doing? 

I am walking around, monitoring, modeling, and problem-solving.

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

So, we do this for anywhere from a week to a week and a half,

or two weeks. It all depends on the group, how much I 

have to correct. The great thing is...nothing is set in stone,

and you can adjust it all to meet the needs of your students. 

When things begin to move like clockwork, then it's

time to move on to level 2.


In level 2, I move the "fun" otherwise known as the age-appropriate 

centers (but I digress), out, and I exchange them for centers that 

are academic. Still tabletop centers, but this gives me the 

opportunity to have a discussion with them about working 

in the center that they have. 


Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!


We talk about how this is a part of our job in coming to school 

each day, and that when we go to centers, we must work 

the entire time. Because when they're doing fun centers, 

no one has to tell them to work the entire time! 

Now, I'll be honest......level 2 can take up to 2 weeks.

It takes a lot of practice, modeling, and correction!!

We build our stamina day by day, week by week!

It is not for the faint of heart!!!

But don't give up!

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

Once we have success with level 2, then it's time for,

you guessed it, level 3. 

This is when we start moving around the classroom, 

which has its own set of challenges. 

At this point, I'm still reviewing appropriate voice levels, 

working with our friends, sharing and using materials properly,

and working in our center the entire time!



I know, I know.....at this point, you're chomping at the bit,

ready for them to rotate around, and be independent,

so that you can begin small group.....

.....don't do it!!! It's so easy to think that you can 

move forward, but I promise you, it will fall apart later on. 

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

I usually pick what I call the big four to start with.

This includes the magnet, pocket chart, library, and big book centers. 

I introduce one per day.....so on Monday, we'll continue with 

the tabletop centers, and then I'll introduce the magnet center.

On Tuesday, I'll introduce the pocket chart center, 

review the magnet center, and so forth. 

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

This way, we only begin with one group out of their seat,

and then two, and so on. It's also a great time to talk about

the fact that sometimes, there will be some students who are 

out of their seats, and some students will be at different

groups during center time. 

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

And of course there's still a lot of modeling and correction going on,

but not as much as before!

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

Model, model, model!

Practice, practice, practice!

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

And then I introduce the sensory table.

Yup, you guessed it, a lot of modeling and practice!

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!


The writing center is one of the last centers that I introduce.

This gives me a chance to introduce labeling, and why writers write.

I can then transfer what we've been learning about in writer's workshop

over to their center time. 

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

At this point, we are anywhere between week 4 to week 6,

depending on where my class is, and how quickly they get it.

And now it's time for the scary part!

Rotating centers!!!!!!!!! AAAAGGGGGHHHHHH!!!!!!

It's not as scary as it looks, I promise!!!



This if what my center rotation chart looks like.

It's just an old calendar, and I cut off the

days of the week labels. 

I like this version, instead of the cutesy

calendars, because they are perfect squares.

This is what I use, but anyway that you choose to 

rotate your students around will be fine,

as long as it works for you!


The pictures match a larger version of pictures that I have

posted by each center. So they are already familiar with these.

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

I start by assigning each student to a color group,

and I only place one center next to their group.

We are not rotating at this point, only getting used to 

what the pictures look like, and walking up

to read the center rotation chart. 

Then they have to find their center. 


We do that for a few days, and then I add the next line. 

This is where we practice rotating to another center.

This is where we (you) must have a lot of patience!


Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

I use a regular bell for a signal.

The first ring means clean up.

When I think everyone is finished, I'll say, 

"All Set!" and if a group's center is cleaned up, they say, "You Bet!".

If they need a little extra time, they say "Not yet!".

When I ring the second bell, it is the signal to rotate to their next center. 



This also takes practice, because we have to talk about

walking to the center rotation chart, taking turns looking at the chart,

and again, walking and not running. 

Over time, you will see that they have memorized their rotations

for the day, and won't need to refer to the chart but once.

Often, it becomes part of their morning routine, 

they come in and look to see what centers they will be

going to for the day. 

And then another line is added.

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

When it's time to move on, I don't add another line,

but I add myself, because I am a part of their center rotations.

When they see my picture, they know to come to my table.

Great post about setting up centers in kindergarten!

At this point, I have a loose version of small group.

We do a little bit, and then I'm still up walking around,

and monitoring the progress of the other groups 

around the classroom. 

While I am doing this, I have an activity for the 

group at my table to complete. 

Great post about beginning centers in kindergarten!

Great post about beginning centers in kindergarten!
Some of the centers shown above are mine, and some are not.
You can find the centers in the following stores...


Now, let's talk about technology centers for a bit.

We do have a lot of technology in our classroom,

but I like to hold out on that. 

I feel like this generation depends too much

on being entertained by it, and I learned the hard

way a few years ago, when that was all my students wanted to do.


They didn't have any interest in traditional centers,

and I think it was because I started off with technology.

I have three student computers, and interactive whiteboard,

several iPod's and iPads, and I wait to introduce them in October. 


I did this last year, and it just made everything run more smoothly.

I really talked it up, saying that we were going to add new

centers to the rotation chart, because they had been doing 

such a great job!

This way, technology is just easily integrated into

our center routine, and they don't give it a second thought!


I have several different types of centers, 

and they can change throughout the year. 

What is appropriate at the beginning of the school year,

may not be appropriate for the middle 

or end of the school year. 


So, this is how I begin centers every year. 

Yes, it is a lot of work, but I promise, it pays

off in the end. 

When I think about beginning centers, I think about the following:

You can do it right, or you can do it all year.

Ain't that the truth!

If you have any questions, please let me know!









Sunday, June 26, 2016

I Started Data Notebooks, Now What...

Summer. 97 degree weather. Sleeping late (yeah).

Going potty whenever I feel like it. Eating whenever, wherever (hey).

Swimming. Air conditioner goes out. Wait, what?

Yup, you heard me right, my air conditioner decided to go on

to glory one evening on the hottest Monday ever,

or maybe it just felt that way to me!


After the technician came out and pronounced

the unit DOA, I had to replace the entire she-bang,

from the compressor outside, to the thingamajig

in the attic. I was sad, I even cried a tear or two (or 73).

There goes my summer fun...



I've felt this way before, and I can trace it all back

to when I've tried to implement data notebooks in

my kindergarten classroom.  There's a lot of sadness,

and a tear or two are shed, on both sides!


Great post about the next step after you've started data notebooks!


Ok, so you've started data notebooks, now what do you do?

If you haven't started data notebooks, go back and

read the first blog post in this series here.

Let's dig in!


I do not like to rush getting the rest of the data notebook

up and running, because in my experience, that is when

it all seems to fall apart. 

So I take my time, and just let it all flow naturally. 


Once students have gotten into the habit of using their CIRCUS binders,

coloring their behavior chart daily, taking whatever work we have

completed home, bringing back important things like homework,

or whatever needs to be signed, then it's time to move to the next phase.


Normally by October, they are pretty much doing a great job of coloring

their behavior chart on their own, and yes I still do have to correct

a few, and some still color the wrong square and number.

Just breathe, it is ok!

Great post about the next step after you've started data notebooks!

At this point, I like to introduce them to the tabs that I put

behind their agenda and take home folder.

Now, these tabs were decided upon by the Lighthouse Team,

and it is what we use school-wide.

They are not written in stone!

For some reason, in this pic, the tabs are out of order, so ignore that!

Great post about the next step after you've started data notebooks!

My Goals - Behind this tab, is everything that they are working on, 

whether it be academic goals, social goals, or personal goals. 

My Data - This tab contains the papers that display the progress that they 

are making towards their goals. These are the sheets that the

students color in as they master a skill. 

My Victories - When students reach their goals, they color in their ribbons.


We talk about the tabs, we discuss how they are not to take

them out of their binder, and I also send a letter home to the 

parents to let them know about the tabs, and that over the

next few weeks, papers will be added. 

I let them know that they are free to view the papers,

discuss them with their child, but I do ask

that they not color in things, because it will happen!


So. Behavior and attendance are being tracked. Check.

Tabs are in. Check.

Now, it's time to get to the heart of the notebook.

To begin, I like to start with the same sheet. 

Everybody starts with the same thing, just 

because it's easier for me, and it's something that for

the most part, we are all either working on 

mastering, or have just about mastered it all. 

I have capital and lowercase letters copied back to back,

and if I have a student who have mastered those, 

then they will have that sheet and one for letter sounds.

Great post about the next step after you've started data notebooks!

I also try to add a math sheet, for counting.

Great post about the next step after you've started data notebooks!

Depending on how many spots they have to color, I use a highlighter

to mark what they need to color, or where they need to stop coloring. 

Great post about the next step after you've started data notebooks!


These sheets go behind the My Data tab. We also pick a new goal, 

or two or three, and we place that goal sheet behind My Goals.


So, after implementing everything that I know about

about data notebooks (i.e. since I've screwed it up so many times before),

I realized that I didn't have any effective ways for the students

to set goals. I've seen the ways that some teachers do it,

where students write down their goals, but then those 

teachers don't teach Kindergarten, do they?

And of course I discovered some other things that I would 

like to include for next year. 

So, I made some major updates to my data notebook pack


I added cut and paste goal pages,

so that you can help the students to pick which goals

they should work on next. 

There are a variety of layouts for the goal pages because some students

may only need to work on a few goals,

but you may also have students who can handle working

on several goals at once. 

Great post about the next step after you've started data notebooks!

If you need to display data walls, or are looking for a simpler way

to do so, I've also included some pages that you can laminate,

and hang on your doors or walls. 

Great post about the next step after you've started data notebooks!

I've also included some crowns, because, I mean,

who doesn't love to wear a crown showing 

everyone what they've learned.

Shoot. I think I want a crown now!

Great post about the next step after you've started data notebooks!

For more information about the data notebook pack,

click here or on any pictures in this post. 


So, how do I keep it going, once I've gotten it going?

I'm so glad that you asked!!

That will be covered in the 3rd post in this series!

Talk to you later!









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