My Teachers Pay Teachers Grand Opening

I am so SO so SO so excited to announce that I have officially become a teacherpreneur! My Teachers Pay Teachers store is up and running with just a couple basic FREE documents. Yay! This has been a goal of mine for so very long and I am very excited to be making it happen.

Follow me. (My store that is, so you don't miss new freebies)

Rate me. (So I can stop seeing that sad little "0 ratings" under my store name)

Here's a run down of the beginning items you'll find in my store. You can click the pictures to take you to the download.

The first product is a basic pack of student information sheets, parent information sheets, and reminder bracelets for back to school. They are all black line so they can be copied however you'd like.

The second product is all about making connections after reading. This is something I've noticed my students struggling with during DRAs. They weren't quite able to verbalize their connections to me, but I knew they could make them. Just because they can't articulate it, doesn't mean that they can't do it. I realized that I was skipping a step. When students write, we consider drawing an essential pre-writing strategy in kindergarten, so maybe reading comprehension requires the same strategy. I thought I would try adding this step, providing students with the visual representation of a thought bubble to illustrate their connection.

I found that it helped students that were not ready to articulate their connection, giving them an outlet to express it, and showing me that they could do it.

It helped the students that were ready to articulate connections by allowing them to take their connection a step further and think of connections to other texts and the world as well.

Sound Sort Organization

Ok so this is a spur of the moment post, but I just had to share how well this project came together.

I used to store my sound sort cards in a box. How boring. SO clearly this area of my life needed to be revamped.

Thanks to my incredible reading interventionist (who has just retired this year, sad face) for this oh-so-perfect organizer. She had been using it for magnetic letters-also a great idea. It was love at first sight and I knew I could turn this into the sound sort organization tool of my dreams.

With just a little spray paint, card stock, and letters. Ta-da!

The best part is that it fits perfectly with this amazing guided reading pack I got from Mrs. Lee's TPT store.

I just printed multiple sheets per page to make them a little smaller. This helped me save on ink, card stock, and most importantly they fit into the organizer of my dreams. It was meant to be!

Classroom Tips and Tricks

First of all I just want to thank every single person that has taken the time to stop by and look at and/or read my blog. Those of you that have sent sweet messages my way, thank you! You really make it all worth it. I love hearing from people that tell me they can use even just one of these ideas. Thank you!

As I've stated in a previous post, I set my classroom up with student independence in mind. Some of the tips and tricks you'll see here were thought of with exactly that in mind. Others might just be cute things I feel are share-worthy.

I apologize in advance that I don't have ideal pictures for everything in this post, I clearly was not thinking with this blog in mind.

1. Turn-In Bins
If you look at the smart board in my classroom, you'll see two purple baskets below it. I attach those with command hooks so that they hang in place. Last year I used these as baskets for students to turn in their recording sheets after workstations.

This year I plan to use two different colors. One will still be the turn-in bin, the other will hold write the room activities and materials. I've moved some furniture around this year so this seems like the best way to keep traffic evenly moving throughout the room in all directions.

2. Invisible Light
I use this light when I'm testing students or teaching guided reading. Students know that when my light is on, they cannot interrupt unless it's a true emergency.

3. Extra Recording Sheet Organization
One of the most frequent interruptions I would get while teaching guided reading was students asking for more recording sheets to use at their workstation. Then I would have to stop teaching and either explain where they were, or get them for them.

Last year I decided to use an organizer to store all extra workstation sheets and label each section with the workstation picture. You can see them on the right side of the picture below. The one thing I will change this year is to relocate them so that they do not disrupt students in the library area.

4. Guided Reading Anchor Chart Stand

I made this cute little stand last summer while I was on my PVC project and spray paint binge. I use it at my guided reading table  to display small group objectives and anchor charts.

5. Missing Pieces Buckets
These buckets helped keep our tiny workstation pieces and headless glue sticks from getting lost or thrown in the trash.

6. Speech Bubbles
I was looking for a way to display student work in the hallway, but to also incorporate the student's description of their work in their own words. I added these speech bubbles and their photos above their work. I would write a quote from each student in dry erase marker.

7. Listening Station
I love having a listening station in my classroom, but I never really love the way any books on CD or cassette are read. So I decided to make my own!

I used a cassette tape to record myself reading a group of books. I would begin by having them locate things we were focusing on at that point. For example, before reading I would have them locate the parts of the book, give them time to take a picture walk, find punctuation, make predictions, look for sight words, etc. You can do so many things before the reading even begins. This also allowed me to give directions about rewinding the tape and locating the next book

The best part was that doing it this way made it very easy to DIFFERENTIATE. I could have two or three levels of books on different cassettes. I just labeled each cassette with a color and placed a list of students under each color. They knew that when they went to the listening station they found their name and located that color cassette.

8. Objective Display
These give me a dry erase area to write my daily objectives on, while also providing a visual cue for students.

9. Handsignals
These hand signals were a great way to allow students to communicate with me nonverbally. I knew exactly what they needed without the lesson even stopping.

You can find an assortment of these on TPT, but these are the signals I use.

10. Quiet Chicks
These are our pet chicks. They come out when it's very quiet and only stay if it's very quiet. I bring these out during writing occasionally and they just adore these little guys.

11. Dismissal Chart
I use clothes pins to attach each student's name to how they get home.

12. Word-a-pillar
As we learn dolch words I add them to our word-a-pillar around the door. This gives us something to practice while we are in line and also serves as another source for students to look at during writing.

100 Charts the K Way

When I get a new group of kindergarteners in September, most of them are still working to understand the difference between a letter and a number. So imagine their faces when I hand them a 100 chart for the first time. 100 charts can be very overwhelming for five-year-olds unless they're exposed to them consistently. I love using 100 charts to teach an assortment of objectives like patterns and money in addition to numeracy.

I like to introduce my students to 100 charts early in the year. It obviously helps with with number recognition and counting, but what I love most is that it also gives them a visual of the relationship numbers have.

1. I start with 100 chart puzzles. To create these I print a 100 chart on colored card stock, laminate, and cut. I cut different patterns based on the color of the card stock. That makes it easy to keep the correct pieces together. Some are in predictable horizontal and vertical patterns, some are just cray.

They don't even realize how much they are learning with these. As they get more used to them they notice more things about the numbers as they put the puzzles together. These are easy to make and are a great activity to use for early finishers.

2. This is my favorite interactive 100 chart to use on the smart board.  I use this for a lot of lessons, but especially when we learn how to count by fives and tens. It attaches a visual to the numbers they are counting and helps them notice the patterns.

3. I got this 100 mat for the floor last year.

We love this thing! The possibilities with this are endless, but here are some of our favorites:

Roll the dice, find the number (I would change out the numbers on the dice with paper)
Roll the dice, add, and find the number
Use their bodies or a game piece to move through the mat. Roll the dice and move that many spaces. Say and write the number you land on.
Roll a number, go to the number, say what is one more and one less than your number.

4. I make this blank 100 chart on the floor, give students number cards, and let them go to town. At first I don't give them any rules to follow for placement of numbers, I just observe their work. Then we'll start with 1-10, then 1-20, etc. We work up to being able to place the cards from 1-100 in the grid and by the end of the year we are even timing it to see how fast we can get! Very fun!

5. For the first time this year, I also used 100 charts to teach money. Yes, money!
Here we go...

Simply attaching each coin to their value on the chart.

THEN we used it to count mixed sets of coins. They know that a nickel is 5 cents so it goes on the 5. Since pennies are each 1 cent, they will each go on top of one number and they count as they go.

Loved, loved, loved this, and so did they!

Getting to Know Miss Matson

In an effort to begin building a sense of community in my classroom as well as a rapport with my students early in the school year, I decided to create a big book to introduce myself to my new batch of kinders. I pulled out some old photos that I'm sure they will enjoy. I'll hold the plastic sleeves together with silver rings and keep it in the classroom library when we're finished reading it.

I included a few different topics:
Miss Matson as a baby
Miss Matson as a child
First day of kindergarten
Miss Matson the beach lover
Elementary school
Dance days
Cheerleading days
Miss Matson the college graduate
Fun facts

Here is a sneak peak at a few pages in the book:

Getting Creative With the Individualized Behavior Plan

As I start writing this post I can't help but think about all the teachers I work with and imagine them laughing at this post because, well...they know.

Every classroom has some sort of behavior plan in place, sometimes more than one. You can have the most perfectly thought out behavior plan, and there will always be students that just don't give a rat's tail about that behavior plan. Then enters the individualized behavior plan. Individualized behavior plans should be just that...individualized. Pinterest is a great starting point for ideas, but I urge you to personalize it to your students. Anyway, here are some things I tried to get EXTRA creative this year.

First I tried this picture behavior sort that I got from the amazing, Mrs. Ricca.

 1. We sorted good choices and poor choices as a class. We never mind another chance to practice this in kindergarten, and it helped prevent the student from feeling singled out. 
2. We sorted good choices and poor choices one-on-one. This allowed me to engage in a conversation with the student about what these choices look like to them.
3. We used a large mailing envelope to keep the pictures. When transitioning to resource, lunch, recess, or dismissal, we talked about what good choices and poor choices would look like when we went there.
4. I encouraged the student to talk about their good choices and bad choices with the other children.

This worked...sometimes. Depended on the day. For a little while. Anyway, I was quickly racking my brain for more ideas.

I started to think more about the student and what the specific behaviors were that I wanted to minimize. The biggest was personal space and keeping hands and feet away from other students. So I found a cute little stuffed bunny that looked a little like this, but not really. 

So we learned about Little Bunny Foo Foo and practiced GENTLY bopping the bunny on the head when we felt like we had a little extra BOP we had to get out. My thoughts were that maybe the student needed another outlet for the hand movements. I also tried play-doh and stress balls with this goal in mind. This worked for one day. One.

THENNNN I made this:

Yes that's a pill box. I broke down our school day and labeled each opening. I had observed that the student was motivated by computer time and a little free time to play with his cars or the sensory bin. Every time the student kept their hands to themselves during a portion of the day, they got to open the box and see what the reward was.

While using that, I also tried a daily behavior log similar to this one from Mrs. Willis Kindergarten. I changed it to reflect our schedule. This was absolutely the resource that worked the best. It was so much better than giving one color for the entire day. This allowed the student to feel that success was much more within their reach.

It's also important to note that I did change things in our classroom environment as well. For example, our rug. I switched classroom rugs with another room because it had lines on it. I felt that a rug with lines would attach a visual to personal space. This had a big impact.

Here are just a few tid-bits that I would suggest to keep in mind when creating an IBP.

1. Get to know the student! 
2. Observe them to find out what motivates them.
3. Observe them for what times of day behaviors are occurring. Do this for two weeks and look for trends. Is it after lunch when they've been exposed to loud noises? Is it before resource (specials) when they're making a transition? You get the drift.
4. Take notes and document. This allows you to look for triggers. Maybe it's something in the environment that is setting them off. It's important to think about what things AROUND them might be impacting them.
5. Most importantly...let them feel successful. Start with small goals and build your way up. The feeling of success is essential to the motivation of the student.

Creating a "Math Rich" Environment

I know I may be one of the only kindergarten teachers to ever say this, but I LOVE math! Of course I couldn't be a K teacher if I didn't love reading too, but I am just a math person by nature. Now every teacher knows the importance of having a "print rich" classroom, but what about a "math rich" classroom? Have you ever thought about how much math is in your classroom environment? I'm sure you already have things in your room that promote a math rich environment, but I think this needs to be something we are being purposeful about when planning the setup of a classroom.

I'm here to share some ways that I tried to create a math rich environment in my kindergarten class last year.

1. Having AN ASSORTMENT of number lines hanging.
I plan to do a post on how I incorporate number lines and hundred charts in the next couple of days so I won't go too much into detail yet. However, it's important to me that I have numbers displayed in numerous arrangements around the room. Guess what? That horizontal line of numbers hanging on the wall isn't going to magically make every student understand numbers, just because it hangs there all year. 

Here's our vertical number line. We made this together and it shows quantities with each number.

Here is our horizontal number line. These numbers show tally marks with each number, since that's a state standard here in VA.
In this photo please do two more things:
* Ignore the fact that my alphabet is falling off the wall. Any time the building gets humid the starts melting away like butter.
 *Also look at my math vocabulary board. This is ESSENTIAL to my math rich classroom. The VA Dept. of Education created these vocabulary cards to include all of our vocabulary as well as a picture to illustrate it. As you can see I did the same with my other subjects as well. I couldn't have one board with fabulous illustrations, and the others without. My OCD hates that there are a few hanging over the border, but trust that I will find a way to fix that this year!

Here is a close up of that vocabulary board.

I also have this engaging number line from my math specialist.
Let me say,  in my kinder-centric mind, the best math specialists are those that understand kinder, and boy does she! 
It can be extended anywhere by tens anywhere from 0-10 to 0-100. My favorite part it that it comes with an assortment of cards for differentiation.
We have this number line that easily becomes a workstation.

2. Line-up Spots
I made these numbered line up spots to help my students learn how to stand in a line at the beginning of the year AND to prevent all of the racing to be first and "SHE CUTTTTTTTTTT!!" meltdowns. You can organize this in a lot of different ways. I gave students a number that changed often, they got into that spot in line. This also ensures meticulous student placement. They loved choosing their own number as a reward. Some teachers prefer to give students a permanent number though. Whatever works best for you!
Sadly those were stuck on with tape as you can see. They held up very nicely through a portion of the year, but this year I am definitely hoping to invest in sit spots for this purpose.

This was a great way to practice an assortment of numeracy skills.

3. Number Rhymes
I keep my number rhymes hanging because number formation is something we work on ALL YEAR LONG. You can find tons of these anchor charts if you search for number rhymes on Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers.

4. Piggy Banks
We use these for behavior management. Tables earn coins for a number of positive behaviors. This allows us to practice one of our most difficult standards everyday in a meaningful way. 

5. Clocks
Please excuse the terrible picture, but i had to crop another photo since I don't have any pictures of these. I hang three clocks showing the times for resource (special), lunch and recess. The students were very curious about the clocks from the beginning, which had them asking to learn how to tell time all year. They also came in handy for many teachable moments! I loved doing it this year, but next year I will look for clocks that are not divided into quarters. It just makes them more difficult to see when they are hanging. 

(You'll also see our ordinal numbers below the clocks.)

I found another picture!

6. Daily Schedule
I keep a daily schedule posted that shows both analog and digital times for each part of our day. I found that here and I absolutely love it. I put magnets on the back so that the pieces can be easily moved around and laminated them so I can use a dry erase marker to write the times, as they do change a few times early in the year. This allows students to begin connecting events with time, understanding that time relates to an order of events, and gives them a visual of what time looks like early in the year.

Here is our daily schedule and our calendar area, which of course is a big addition to our math rich environment.

Of course with all of these things, I make sure that I use them and I expose my kinders to them explicitly. You can have these things hanging in your classroom, but if you don't USE them to enhance learning and teach the students to use them and even just to be aware that they are in the room, or how they relate to their world, they will serve very little purpose.

I challenge you to reflect on your classroom environment last year, and how you would compare the "math richness" to the "print richness." Ignore the fact that I'm making up words, remember, I'm a math person. :)