Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dear Future Me...

I'm linking up with Crystal over at Kreative in Kinder for a fun look into the future! So often we forget what the beginning of school is really like! Crystal's idea is to write your future self a note so you remember what back-to-school is really like! Here's mine:

Alright, now head over to Crystal's blog and link up with your own letter!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What's Working in Our Class!

Hi friends! Just a quick post today to share some things that are working in my classroom!

Centers: We can now clean up all of our centers and be back to carpet in less than 5 minutes! Seriously! We're only 3 weeks into the school year! We did have 1 time when some girls at Math Center continued to play at clean up time. But since recess is right after centers those girls learned quickly that staying inside to clean up while everyone else goes outside to play is no fun at all! Since then everyone is quick to tidy up ;)

GoNoodle! We are on our 2nd avatar! We LOVE our brain breaks and I am loving Koo Koo Kanga Roo videos! The dance moves are so easy to do that even my two left feet can manage, and the tunes are catchy too!

Counting! We have 1:1 correspondence down pat! (Did I mention its only the 3rd week?!) Check out this video of a little friend doing a crayon resist sheet:

We're also enjoying Roll & cover games - some of my friends are working on the basic 1-6 so they get 1 dice, but I have some friends who can handle two dice already!

Shapes! We're pretty good at identifying the basic 4, and now we're working on pentagon and trapezoid. Check out this Roll & Cover Brown Bear game, just a few times playing this and not only are they remembering the names of the shapes, they can pick them out from amid other shapes, even with differing sizes and orientations!

Reading! I bought this fabulous apron at I Teach K! in Vegas this summer and I LOVE it! (I love a lot of stuff lately - I'm having so much fun in pre-k!) I purchased the pack that goes with the apron on TpT, it has sight words, letters, numbers and pictures. This week we're doing Brown Bear, Brown Bear so I made character cards to fit in the apron as well. Every morning as the kids come in they read a sentence or two each, then throughout the day as we're in line for the bathroom, going to lunch, outside at recess etc I ask a child or two to read for me. It's helping them learn 1:1 correspondence with words in sentences, and most of them have the sight words "I", "see" and "a" down pat now!
Sorting! We are sorting fools now! We finished up our week with sorting M&Ms on our Brown Bear coloring mats and the kids did so well - after they sorted they even counted and named the color they had most and least!

I know we're good at sorting though, because I find evidence of it in other places too:

Another thing I'm loving? This shirt:
This little guy was doing a fabulous job on his hallway procedures on Friday so I complimented him. He immediately stepped out of line to let me know that it was his shirt that was doing the good job. "It's my tiger shirt Mrs. Knopf. It helps me be good and follow procedures!" Hmm can I get that shirt for the whole class?!

How's this for cuteness? These two friends were at our Felt Board Center, lining up all of the outer space felt pieces, making them "hold hands". I asked what they were doing and they said "There's a fire drill so they all have to hold hands to get out of the school and cross the street!" We've had 1 fire drill and one occasion where we thought there was an actual fire ( a Kinder friend pulled the alarm without his teacher seeing). That time was way scary for us because we were at the bathrooms and had to hurry to grab hands and get out of the building and across the street without all of the usual extra people who come down to help the primary classes during drills. There was a fire truck and police cars and we had to spend about 30 minutes in the church across the street waiting for the all clear to go back inside! I was glad to see that these friends were processing the experience with the felt pieces :)

Here's my favorite conversation of the week, which occurred at lunchtime on Friday:

J: My orange has a bean in it!
Me: That's a seed, oranges have seeds.
J: And animals have diseases!
Me: Did you say diseases??
J: Yes! Farm animals have diseases!
Me: Umm, yes I guess some farm animals have diseases....
J: And farmers! Farmers have diseases too!
Me: Umm ok, some farmers might have diseases, but I think...
J: And wolvesez! Wolvesez have diseases because they're wild animals! Wild animals have diseases!
Me: Ok! You should finish eating, lunchtime is almost over! (making mental note to ask parents about diseases as I quickly move to a different table)

We're still working on colors, shapes and numbers and we'll be integrating Brown Bear, Brown Bear
I made a pack of  Brown Bear Ten Frames for math that we'll be working with. It's on sale until midnight Sunday!

I think next up will be Mouse Shapes and Mouse Paint since I bought the cutest felt sets for those! Look for some freebies for those themes coming soon! Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Humpty Dumpty & More

Have you ever wondered if maybe a different career would be a better fit? I learned, in putting together our Humpty Dumpty display, that I would not be a good brick layer. At. All. First I thought I would just paint lines on a red piece of paper (don't ask what I would have painted them with, or how I would have gotten straight lines.) Fortunately, before I could get out the paint and create a mess, my husband suggested that since the board was already black that I could just cut out the bricks and space them out so it looked like there was mortar between them. Ha! That sounded way easier than it was! This darn brick wall took me over an hour to do, and it still doesn't really look like a brick wall, unless you're feeling sorry for the artistically challenged. But, darn don't our Humptys look fantastic??

I am proud to say that most of my kiddos completed this with just a modicum of help. And, in a happy accident, my assistant mistakenly grabbed textured scissors when cutting out the arms and legs and I think it made them even cuter!

We used the Humpty Dumpty poster from my Nursery Rhyme unit, and the kids completed the emergent reader as well but you know I didn't get pics before we sent them home lol! We sang Hip Hop Humpty from Jack Hartmann about a billion times too.

Then we read Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again and the kids loved it! In this version a doctor fixes Humpty up but warns him against climbing "You really must be careful. I mean, for Pete's sake, you're an egg!"
Thus Humpty spends his time watching tv in his underwear (cue uproarious laughter from kiddos) until the Spider scares him out of his house. He ends up back at the wall where he climbs again to rescue the king's favorite horse - and then he continues to climb - wearing safety equipment of course!
I'm linking this post up to Book Talk Tuesday over at Mrs. Jump's Class - check it out for some more great book recommendations!

Finally, I have to share a cool new toy I found at the Science Museum this weekend too! I brought it in for our Math Center today and it was an instant hit -kids were fighting over who got to go to Math Center! I took this video of one of my kiddos  playing with it to show you - I'm a big fan of magnets, so this thing is enthralling to me lol! Ignore how many times I say "Good job!" I was nervous with the camera on I guess!

The Kid O 0 to 9 Magnatab is available on Amazon (pretty much the same price I paid for it at the Museum!) and there's an uppercase alphabet one as well as lowercase too! Those are going on my wish list! In case you can't tell, each number has the formation strokes and arrows to help kids form the numbers properly. They use the magnetic stylus to bring the little balls up, then turn it around and "erase" them back down - thus giving them more practice!
 I might have played with it a dozen times myself! 

I'm off to make more Brown Bear stuff - my kids loved it today! Just a reminder that my new Brown Bear Math Pack is on sale for 50% off until midnight!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Schedule, Brown Bear & Crayon Resist Freebie!

Can I just say...I feel like an idiot for fretting over moving to a new room/new grade this summer! I am having a BALL in pre-k! And, sure, my room is still old and small, but we have filled it with so many neat materials and cute, precious personalities, that it is the most fun I've had in ages! I have not had a single day yet where I've gone home tired! Can you tell that teaching little people is my niche?!
Check out the adorable shirt one of my kiddos' mothers made for her!

Here's our schedule so far:
I have to admit, we break up our carpet times even more with Brain Breaks. We've started using and the kids are loving it. Our little avatar is named "McPufferson" and the kids are crazy about him! They've all gone home and told their parents about him and they get so excited to see his little growth bar fill up. We've gotten him to the 3rd level now and he now has 3 eyes - you have never heard excitement until you've grown a third eye on your avatar!

Last week we did Humpty Dumpty - and man is there a big gap in my class. I've got kiddos who are about to turn 5 who can recite Humpty while standing on their heads and twirling batons. Then I've got my kiddos who just turned 4 (our cutoff is 4 by Sept 1st) who still need tons of support to repeat the rhyme. We did a bunch of activities and the cutest craft and I meant to post about it this weekend but of course the building closed early on Friday so I wasn't able to get all my pictures! Don't you hate when that happens?! I'll grab pictures and post them tomorrow!

I had someone ask me in my TPT store for the sheet from this activity:
I made up a little pack of Crayon Resist Sheets and its free in my TpT store here.

This week we're hitting colors and numbers big time with Brown Bear, Brown Bear and I made a Brown Bear Math Pack that is adorable! Its 50% off for the first 24 hours!

I'm off to put Sullivan to sleep and get ready for my short week! Have a fun-filled 4 days!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Week Back! (Freebie)

Whew! My first full week is behind me! It was a BLAST! I cannot begin to tell you much fun it was!
 I have to admit that being able to get down on the floor and just play helps a lot with the stress! I've been caught in the midst of singing, dancing or playing with blocks more than once this week by other teachers, admin and parents. I'm not embarrassed at all, just loving having fun!

This first week we practiced procedures, a LOT. I mean, we went to centers, played for a bit, then cleaned up and came back to carpet to talk about it. Rinse and repeat. By the end of the week we were doing 20 minutes in a center and clean up is going well too! Except for block center. I'm still trying to figure out how to make cleaning up that center go well. The OCD teacher part of me wants all the blocks stacked by size and shape while the other part of me says forget it, that takes too much time, lets just dump them all in a bin. Which way do you store your blocks??

I have to say, we are aces at hallway procedure. Maybe because we are still haven't grasped walking and talking at the same time? I don't know, but goodness, my class is quieter in the hallway than any of the older kids! We are very proud of ourselves, and I know in time we'll also figure out how to walk on the correct side of the hallway - I'm thinking of going in this weekend and putting down masking tape. Do you have anything on your hallway floors to help keep a straight line?

One of our favorite activities this week was our "magic" water color name painting. We did this activity after reading Chrysanthemum and graphing how many letters were in each of our names. I had written everyone's name their paper with white crayon and they used the water color paint to reveal it. They needed a bit of help to really cover the page in color rather than just dab it here and there, but when they realized that letters were showing up they were amazed. I felt about 10 feet tall as they were gasping and giggling at each letter revealed!

We're also in love with our Pipe Builders from Lakeshore Learning.. Color me astonished, I had no idea that these little babies would be such a big hit. Some of my kids like to build straight up - building towers taller than they are, while some build convoluted mazes.

This week I received my gift from the Reddit Teacher 2014 Gift Event. I received a classpack of Crayola Crayons! I am so excited! How cool of a gift is this?!

Some other random bits of fun:

I loved listening to these girlies with their puppets. Right now we don't have our puppet theater out, and I only have our people puppets on display right now, so that the kids can ease into learning how to play at this center and tidy it up correctly. This proves the "less is more" theory - even with limited puppets, the kids have a blast and their conversations are priceless!

 Here are two of my sweet friends using magnifying glasses to examine the floor. Our custodian keeps it pristine, so they didn't find much, but I loved seeing them slither on their bellies as they talked about what they might find!

Here are two of my kiddos at Reading Center which only opened on Friday. I have to put the cds in and find the matching book, so I wanted to make sure the other centers were well established before opening one that would take some teacher help.

I now have proof that there is no germ like a pre-k germ! After 3 years of never getting sick, I have come down with a head cold! I'm talking fever, stuffy head, runny nose and general crappy feeling. And of course Sullivan caught it too! We're hoping its a quickly conquered bug!

Of course, this cold put the kibosh on my weekend plans of organizing my garage and getting things back in order after the BTS craziness. Not to mention I promised that we'd open our Sand & Water table center and I still haven't decided what to put in it first. I have all sorts of great ideas for it for throughout the year, don't get me wrong. I just haven't figured out a beginning-of-the-year-less-is-more-easy-clean-up idea for starting it up lol. What do you put in your Sand table first thing?

I'm hoping to be over this cold by tomorrow so I can share my plans for next week with you - I have a bunch of cool things I want to do, if I have the energy to get them sorted tomorrow!

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering about the ice cream game seen in one of the classroom setup photos I shared. It was a freebie I made a loooong time ago! I got the little bowls at the Dollar Tree, and had to make a game to match. 
Like many of my early freebies, I had it up on Scribd, but I just put it in Google Docs for convenience! You can grab it here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Classroom Set-Up Pictures!

Here it is - finally finished! My room makes me so happy every time I walk in my door! This is a picture-intensive post, so I'll try not to add too much text (but forgive me if I go on and on - I'm really proud of my room - everything in it is completely me!)

Here's the view from the front of the room. I tried to keep everything kid-height since I'm teaching pre-k this year.The caddies on the table match the colors on my carpet so the kids know which row to sit in (except orange is yellow - I couldn't find an orange caddy, but I love these so much I don't think I'll ever change!)

 When the kids came to our Meet The Teacher the night before our first day, they found their star on my door. That was their first hint that we had an outer space theme going! Each time we enter or leave the room the kids try to find their star, which is helping with name recognition!

Do you see the focal point of my room?! That gorgeous Solar System Space Canopy in my Reading Center! Everyone who comes in immediately comments on it, and the kids gravitated towards it first thing!

Here it is close up! I received the Space canopy, blue pillows and inflatable space shuttles from Oriental Trading Company!

The kids love it! The pillows are washable, so I don't have to worry about them harboring any "friends" and the canopy is just the right size for3-4 children to hang out and read together.I'm currently hanging it from my ceiling, but I have a plan in place to mount it from the wall kind in case the Fire Marshall objects.

Doesn't that corner look so inviting?!

Here's the view of the opposite corner - our Pet Center in the back right, our Listening Center along the back wall and our new Lego Table!

I have a lot of books on cd that have felt pieces, so I placed a felt board at Listening Center so the kids can follow along with the pieces as they listen. Those number posters are from my Outer Space Classroom Poster Pack!

Here's our Pet Center, with our hermit crabs! The kids are fascinated by them! I'll post more about them soon!
Notice the clothespin on the bottom of the sign? It helps me manage how many kiddos are at each center! I put 2-4 stickers on the bottom of each center sign depending on the maximum number of kiddos I wanted at each center. Each child places their clothespin on a star when they go to a center. If all the stars are covered, the center is full and they have to go to a different one! The signs all say what the child is learning at that center - great for parents and admin who may not know the benefits of "play"!
This is our far wall, with ancient blinds that no longer open. Perfect for hanging my alphabet line at a more child-friendly height!

I used clothespins to attach the Alphabet cards to the blinds - now I can remove them easily - in case I want to spotlight a letter during a lesson!

Here is the opposite side of the room - complete with my husband who gave up a Sunday afternoon to come put that horseshoe table together for me! Notice that our easel, sand & water table and art cart all have wheels? In order to maximize our tight space they're usually pushed against the cupboards, but are pulled out for center time!

We have our color posters by the sink.
Do you see where I spilled water on part of my clip chart and the ink bled? It was right before our Meet The Teacher event and I wanted it on the wall to explain to parents, so I laminated it and threw it up there anyways. Amazingly, it's not bothering me as much as I thought it would!

Here is our Block Center - the rug was $15 at Ikea! Right now they're only playing with the train, until we get used to doing Centers and I pull out more items for them to play with. The train was also an Ikea purchase! Just $14!
This is our Dramatic Play Center - right now it's a kitchen - with just a few dishes for the start of the year. I'll add food once we get our procedures down! Dolls will come out after that. The wooden table and chairs were also from Ikea - $20 for the set!
This is our Writing Center. Right now we/re just using dry erase markers and boards. Don't you love the rocket ship boards? I was so excited to get those since they matched my theme AND were on clearance at Learning Resources. Later on we'll pull out the paper, cards, pencils, smelly markers etc.

Our Science Center is just 2 shelves for now. I got some great magnet kits for later on. Right now the kids love looking at everything with the magnifying glasses! Those birds play actual recordings of real bird and I have a dried deer antler on the top shelf too.

This is our Math Center. This darling is making a pattern with mini erasers.
Also at Math Center at these adorable ice cream bowls and pom poms. We're practicing counting and color recognition with them. I have eaten about 100 pretend bowls of ice cream and its only day 4!

Right now we only have our easy puzzles out - and they're still hard for some of my younger kiddos. I do love that my two Shure brand puzzles each come with a book!

For the first few days we didn't have internet access, so these Jack Hartmann videos saved my sanity. Since I'm in a new room I have a new laptop so I have nothing downloaded on it yet - these videos were our brain breaks while doing the inevitable waiting as schedules changed and things like lunch ran late!

How cute is this?! This is my son Joshua, showing how I took my pre-k kiddos' picture on the first day. The background is an Outer Space tablecloth and he's wearing an Astronaut Helmet , also from Oriental Trading!

Whew! Lots of pictures, right? I tell you, I am so happy with my room, and my little pre-k kiddos are absolutely precious! It's only day 4 but I can already tell we're going to have a blast this year!

(Disclosure: I was provided products by Oriental Trading Company in return for my honest review. This review is based strictly on my opinion. Others may have a different opinion or experience with the products listed above. I was provided the samples free of charge by the company and I provided my honest opinion. No other type of compensation was received for this review.)
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