Tuesday, August 20, 2013


One of the most difficult parts of the first couple weeks of Kindergarten is assessing the students to see what they know. I am way more into arts and crafts, storytime, manipulatives, music, and, you know, TEACHING. But, no.....I must test. I do appreciate knowing what my students students know. And I am always glad I did it when I'm done.
     I test on the basics during the first and second week of school.
1. Writing Names
2. Numbers
3. Colors
4. Shapes
5. Letters
6. Sounds

Besides the information above, I use a running record testing letters and sounds. 
The way this spreadsheet works is like this: The date goes at the top of the column. If a child knows the letter name I put a diagonal line. If the child knows the letter name and its sound I cross the diagonal line to form an "x". As you can see in this picture this student knows almost all of his letter names, but needs to work on letter sounds. The next time I test I will use the next column and be able to chart their progress as they learn. I usually give this test once a month. This is my formal letters and sounds test. I will informally assess them with flashcards weekly. Grab a copy of this test HERE.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The First Day of Kindergarten!

I did it! We did it! We survived the first day of Kindergarten! Hurray!!!!!!!!
Let me just say that my class is awesome. I had kids come in my room ready to learn. Hardly any crying and LOTS of smiles. :) So.....what do you do on the first day of Kindergarten? Good question, and it differs for everybody. I like to begin with a big goodbye to moms and dads. We do a special clap that I teach them in line while the parents watch. (Just use any clapping rhythm you can come up with...hahaha.) Then we turn to the parents, wave, and yell bye!!!! The kids are all hyped up by the clapping they don't even think twice about saying goodbye. Then the big the walk into the classroom.
     Once we have made it inside I give them a coloring page to work on while I take the roll, make sure we are all in the right spot, and handle any scared kiddos. Then we sit on the carpet. I tell them about myself. We sing some songs. We take a tour of the school. We go to the bathroom (one big group trip down the hall to the bathroom....it takes FOREVER.) Then we have lunch. By the time we get in from lunch, get a drink, go to the bathroom again, we are exhausted and ready to go home. I will then start the Kissing Hand.
     If you don't know the Kissing Hand you had better get to know it. Go out right now and BUY it! It is one of the best books in the world for helping kids deal with separation issues. The story is about a raccoon getting ready for his first "night" at school. And for his first time away from mommy raccoon. He cries. He begs. He wants to stay home. But, mommy raccoon shows his how to do the kissing hand. We act it out in class on our own hands so that we can show our moms how to do it when we get home. (Kiss the center of your palm. The kiss runs up your arm and straight into your heart <3.) When Chester Raccoon is ready to go to school he gives his mommy a kissing hand too. We talk about how even mommies and daddies are sad when kids go to school. Even moms need to feel better. Then we make them a card.
The card has a little poem about how to do a kissing hand and they get to make the hand with the heart in the middle. I cut out the pieces for them because we are not ready for that yet and I don't have time to spend cutting on the first day. The kids glue it all together and place the heart sticker on the hand. After they are done we do a coloring page of Chester. Here is a copy of the Kissing Hand projectThe kids put this into their backpacks, get ready to go home, and we have an even better day tomorrow.
First Day Completed!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Meet the Teacher

It has begun! We had "Meet the Teacher" day today. I met a lot of my Kinders that will start on Monday. I like this day because it gives me a face with the name, lets me actually talk with the parents, and (most importantly) lets the little ones see where and what Kindergarten really is. I do not allow parents in the classroom on the first day of school. I like my students to know that we are here to learn and that mommy and daddy will be there when our day is done. There are 1,001 things to do to get ready for the first day. I want to make sure that our day runs as smoothly as it can (for the first day of Kindergarten, haha). I have the parents fill out a "First Day Information" form for me on Meet the Teacher day to make the first day of school a little smoother. Here is what the form looks like: First Day Information. I did not create this form. Another awesome teacher in my district did and it as helped so much!
We are starting on Monday! Yay!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sorry Everybody!

Sorry for the mix up on downloading the PDFs! The settings on my Google Drive were set to private. (A lot of good that does!) Anyway, I fixed the problem and anyone can download anything. Thanks for your patience!

Classroom Design

You know it's true. Designing your classroom is an art. For some it is a time to start completely from scratch. (Especially if you have to change classrooms! Yikes!) I like to change my classroom every year. I get bored with the same furniture design, decor, etc. And I always find new ways to display material. My classroom is just about ready for the school year. We start August 12. (Really??!) So, here is a little tour of what my room looks like so far.
This is my birthday board. I will put candles on the cupcakes as soon as I get some kiddos. I got this cute idea from Pinterest.

Below are some pictures of my walls/bulletin boards.

 My rolling carts service as my Word Wall. I put up the words as we learn them. I like the kids to work with the Word Wall and don't want to overwhelm them with all the words at once. We learn between 3 and 5 words a week.

Entry Way/Cubby Area
This has their cubbies (you knew that), jobs board, manners reminder, classroom rules (the crayons by the door), and the big yellow board is where the ABC Kings and Queens pictures go. Once a child has learned all of their letters and sounds I will crown them a King or Queen. They will get a paper crown, their picture taken, and a book to take home. It is always a big honor for the students. Everyone claps and congratulates each other. It's awesome.
 My Focus Wall. 
On the left is a focus board. We practice reading the letters as fast as we can in the morning for fluency. I change the board every week. I have spaces for our Phonics Reader book words, new sight words of the week, our calendar, our color poem and our Alphafriends chart. On the bottom is a big Elkonin box to practice sounds. It is dry erase so that I can write letters on it once the Kinders are ready.
 On the left is my Popcorn Words board. It doesn't have words quite yet. I will post more pics once we have learned a few. (Remember, it's only the beginning of the year!) I also have my Chicka Chicka Tree. No K classroom is complete without one! I will leave it up for a couple weeks, until we begin our color unit.
Sight Word Stars Board
This board keeps track of how many words each student knows. It's kind of hard to see, but each star has numbers on it counting by 10s. (10, 20, 30.....got it?) Once a student learns 10 words they get a sticker. The star goes all the way to 100. I have benchmarks throughout the year and if students meet their goal they will get a surprise. (Don't tell, but it's going to be an ice cream party.)

Of course, I have more pictures! But, my classroom is still not quite completely presentable. I will be posting pictures soon of my tables, windows/cabinets, fish tank, mailboxes, and maybe (if your lucky) my desk.
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