Saturday, April 2, 2016

Kindergarten Round Up!

This past week was a crazy one. I had to stay after school for something everyday. Tuesday we stayed for our Kindergarten Round Up. 
I don't know the origin of the "Round-Up" idea, but this was our first year calling it "round-up" our new kiddos for next year.

Since our registration is all done online, this was mainly to meet the kids and parents and get their email information. Sweet and Simple. We will have a Kindergarten Camp during the first week of summer to really work with our kiddos and help them transition into their new role as students.

So here are some tips for keeping it sweet and simple!

1. Have a plan - Duh, right?  Our plan: We had one entrance and exit. At the entrance, they met our admin who checked proofs and made copies of proofs and gave them their cumulative folder. Then they came down the hall and had other information copied (birth certificate, social, etc). We had only two of our rooms open. One for parents to fill out their info and ask us questions. The other for the children to make a craft. 

2. Have your information together - What do you want your parents to know? What do you want them see? What is the most important?
Other teachers are your friends, there is information out there that is nicely shared by others. Use it!

The first brochure I found was from Leslie at KindergartenWorks. It is an editable powerpoint that I easily made my own. Her information that is already included is amazing and it's free as long as you share her awesome talent. You can find her brochure here:

The other piece we had was this flier from Tara West. This gives a quick list of what they need to know with Personal, Social and Intellectual skills. And again, it's free. Just click the pic:

The last was a brochure I made about our Cub Camp. We will be spending four days with students that are able to come. This will be my first time with this endeavor and I'm looking forward to it. 

3. Be ready to answer any and ALL questions - Those of us who have taught kindergarten know that parents come in with all different types of fears concerns. I had some who came in, filled out their information, grabbed their papers and left, but that was rare. There were parents who had just a few questions because it was their 2nd or 3rd child going through. They wanted to know what had changed, what was the same, when would they know who their teacher was etc. Then there were the first time parents. They had never had a child in school before. Be prepared to have to be asked every question that can possibly thought of, including my favorite from the other night, "kindergartners do get to eat lunch, right?" Yep, that happened =)

4. Have an easy activity prepped and ready for your new kiddos - Our mascot is a bear so I found a cute bear activity from Krazy for Kindyland. We cut out the pieces ahead of time and glued the pencil together. We let them do the rest and if they could, write their name on the back. 

It's hard to believe that it's time to start thinking about next year's students when we still have 2 months with our current class, but it's always fun to see what next year holds. We had a good turn out of 35 (we are a small school, only 4 on our team, so we'll be looking for about 35 more). The rest, we hope, will come over the next few weeks. 

Do you have a Round-Up for the next year? I'd love to hear your plans and what you do or expect.

Monday, March 21, 2016

My New Crazy Life

Since my last post in August of last year, my life has been a big whirlwind of crazy. It's been a good kind of crazy, an expensive kind of crazy, a crazy kind of crazy.

Middle of August, my husband and I were asked a huge question. I knew the answer right away, but we discussed it first. This question led to us acquiring a lawyer (<----Expensive Crazy) and heading to juvenile court several times. Hopefully our last time will be this June. 

Short Story: We were asked to help a friend of mine with his 5 grandchildren (<---- Good Crazy). It is a long and sad story of what these children have gone through and the drama continues with every continuation of court. We are trying to gain full custody of the 2 younger children. Big L (a boy) is 3 and Little L (a girl) is almost 2. Along with our Mason, that's THREE toddlers (<---- Crazy Crazy). 

We have been working with the grandparents, who have been AMAZING, and currently have visitation every weekend. 

It has been a learning experience, to say the least. The boys act like brothers. They get along for about 2 minutes then argue for five. Sis is a whole new world for me. I've been a boy mom for 3 years, never expected to have a girl and don't always know how to deal with her diva attitude...yes at 1 she has diva attitude.

So, I've been focusing on keeping things running smoothly at home and smoothly at work. I've been trying to keep my work at work and my home at home. 

It's been hard to find the down time I used to have to blog and tell everyone what's going on in my room and that has been a lot. I've not been able to share new ideas or ideas that I use from others and giving them some praise for their awesomeness. It's just been hard.

I'm hoping to get back to normal...whatever normal is now...and blog again. In the mean time, if you are the praying kind, please pray for us. Pray for the judge who has a big decision to make in a couple of months. Pray that the kids involved get what is best for them and what they deserve. 

If you want to know more, we have a GoFundMe Account set up. I'm not asking for donations, I just have more info here. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Making Sense of Math: Reasoning Strategies

I am hosting again for our Making Sense of Math Series and this weeks topic is 

Reasoning Strategies

This one can definitely be a tough one for our kindergarten students. Many are still just learning the concept of numbers and grasping the basic understanding of what comes next. So how do we teach them strategies that will help them with problems?

First of all

Build a DEEP understanding of Number Sense
Marilyn Burns says,
"Number sense essentially refers to a student's "fluidity and flexibility with numbers."" (Gersten & Chard, 2001)
Students with a strong number sense can "think and reason flexibly with numbers, use numbers to solve problems, spot unreasonable answers, understand how numbers can be taken apart and put together in different ways, see connections among operations, figure mentally and make reasonable estimates." (Burns)

Sounds like a lot doesn't it!

Here is a video I found that shows how great it is for students to learn about numbers in a variety of ways. 

This is just a simple glance at what we can do to show our students different ways to learn.

This video is one that I can't WAIT to try this year. What a great way to make number sense fun!

Again, these are just simple ways to help develop number sense.

As number sense grows, you will see students vocabulary and discussions about numbers improve. I love Number Talks and they are so much more meaningful when the students are providing the answers and guiding the discussion. But we have to be there with logical questioning to keep things moving and to get their mind to think about other things.

Guess what they do when they have to switch gears like that - REASON!

I love to model my reasoning for students from day one and eventually give it to them to explain their reasoning for their answers.

It all starts in kindergarten and remember reasoning can be as simple as something inductive like what number does not belong? what number does not make sense?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Making Sense of Math: Estimation

Last week, I completely bombed in the blogging world. That last Sunday, we threw my mom a surprise Retirement Party! She was completely shocked. After that, my niece and nephew stayed with my parents and we had fun filled days every day! It was a great week. 

Now, back on track....

This week, the focus of our discussion is Estimation.  Why is estimation important for number sense? 
Estimation is a higher level skill that makes students conceptualize and mentally manipulate numbers.

This is HARD for these little ones to understand.
Kids (not just in kindergarten) are so accustomed to finding the CORRECT answer, that they have a hard time letting go of the factual and rearranging their thoughts to the conceptual.

I will even admit that I cringe a little when working on estimation. 
At one point, I used to incorporate it daily into my calendar time like this:

This kids would have to estimate how many and give their answer. In the beginning this was good, but soon they caught on and started counting instead of guessing. So I switched methods.

We still do it as a part of calendar time, but instead, I have a jar like this (click pic for link to Post-It idea):

Our week goes like this:
 Monday - pass the jar around to have a look. What do you see? Is the jar a little full or a lot? Think about how many might be in there.

Tuesday - show the jar again and count out a small amount (if you have 20 only count 3 or 4, if you have 50 count out about 10....just so they get an idea of what a small amount looks like)

Wednesday - students write their guess on our estimation chart. I've done this two ways and I like the 2nd the best. My chart is laminated so I had them write on their jar with a dry erase marker. This was good, but you would have some who liked to copy what they saw from others. So I got the small Post It notes and had them write their answer at their seat, then go put it on their jar.

* I label their jar by number but you can also write their name on their jar. 

Thursday - we count out a few more and I ask if anyone wants to change their answer. Some might and some will keep their answer.

Friday - we reveal the answer and see who is the closest. This is a great time to talk about more and less, we use the 100's chart to see how far off their guess was. 

We do this WEEKLY and it really helps build their skills. 

You will still have yours who always guess 100, but sooner or later they get the idea. 

Estimation is not a tested skill for our district. However, this is such an important skill to help with number sense that I feel it needs to be taught in kindergarten. Tying it in to calendar time makes it simple and easy and less cringe worthy.

What are your ideas for estimation? Come see others at 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Product Review: Conectaballs

I was recently given the opportunity to play with a new "toy". And I must say I LOVE it. The possibilities are endless!

It is a wooden puzzle toy that has a stretchy string. There are 8 wooden balls on each string and they can be twisted and connected in many different ways. 

This toy is in kick starter mode and only has 5 days left! I plan on backing it because I want MORE for my math center and possibly even a literacy station! I'll share my ideas in a moment. Here is their Kickstarter video.

So what do you think?

They come in this cute burlap bag.

Inside is an introductory pamphlet and 6 rods. They are either color or natural wood. I love the primary colors. 

Here are some shapes that I made. There is a 2d square and a 3d pyramid. 

Here is the pyramid up close.

I will admit that I had a hard time with the pyramid. I had to watch a youtube video about 5 times before I got it. But once I got it, I thought, well that was too easy. My brain just couldn't wrap around the idea. 
Here is the tutorial to different shapes:

My ideas for this awesome toy:
Math centers - making shapes or just creating. Even adding could be done..I don't know how yet, but I'm working on it.

Literacy centers - Making letters, sight words. It can be done! 

So please, click HERE and pledge to back this product. There are even rewards for the amount that you give.  I've already done it and can't wait to get the rest of mine for my classroom.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Making Sense of Math Series: Mental Math

It's week three of our Math Series and this week I am your hostess with the mostest. =)
My topic this week is Mental Math. 
And no, this is not the "mental" that some of us teachers become when working with our kids on math.
Mental Math is almost like fluency. It's recognizing numbers, patterns, how many and eventually computations quickly without really having to think about it. Then when they understand the meaning behind it, fluency takes place.

On the Kindergarten Common Core Math Wiki Page, they give these ideas for having successful and effective practices of Mental Math.

"In order to be effective Mental Math sessions should:
  • occur on a daily basis (5-10 minutes per day)
  • encourage ‘having a go’ on the part of all students
  • emphasize how answers were arrived at rather than only whether they are correct
  • Promote oral discussion
  • allow students to see that there are many ways to arrive at a correct answer rather than one correct way
  • build up a dense web of connections between numbers and number facts
  • emphasize active understanding and use of place value"

With the occurring on a daily basis, I would set aside time to actually do Mental Math. Possibly after Calendar Time. In the beginning focus on number recognition. Show cards with numbers written in different fonts. Like these cute ones from Lettering Delights.

You can start with just 0 - 10 and then gradually move into the teens up to 20.

Even when doing something so simple as recognizing a number, you can talk about it. 
"What told you that was 4?"
"Is there another way to write a 4?"
"Could you count on from the number 7?"

You could eventually start taking two numbers like 4 and 7 and put them together to see what students would say. Start talking about place value or adding them together. So many possibilities.

Work on counting forward from a number other than one. You can do this with small numbers like four and seven or go even higher. They need to be able to count to 100 right?

Another favorite thing that I love to do with my kiddos in SUBITIZING!!
You've heard me say it before and to me it's a big key in Mental Math.

This summer, my former TNCore Coach, Jennifer, made some great cards that I will be printing off to use with the kiddos this year. She has not published this that I know of which is why I marked it with my website. 

She has different dots on 10 frames, dot patterns, dice patterns, animals and different ways to subitize one number. 

My favorite game to play with subitizing cards is Snapshot. 
I prep the students by telling them I am going to hold up a card with dots on it (or animals, or ten frame etc). I am only going to hold it up for 5 seconds (then later to 3 and even 1). Look really hard at the dots and think about how many you see. When you have an answer, give me a thumbs up under your chin. 
Then I hold up a card for 5 seconds, I count in my head so I don't mess up their counting. Then I put the card down. I look to see who has their thumb up and then ask what does everyone see. 

Here is a video from the Teaching Channel that shows the game.

Now, with this game, yes some are using their fingers and counting and not seeing the number right away, but that's okay. To me, Mental Math is a learning process and the more we practice, the better it will be. 

After working with number recognition and quantity with subitizing, I like to move in to 1 more and 1 less. This is great with the 100's chart. 

I use something similar to this, but in the beginning I have the 10 more and less closed. Then when I feel they are getting the hang of it, I introduce them. It's so great when they can see the patterns in the 100's chart to figure out number relationships!

So there are a few Mental Math ideas for you. I'd love to hear your comments and ideas so please link up as well and follow the other teachers who are helping out with the series.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Follow Frenzy

At the end of last week, we were asked to share our new friends that we have followed. 
I would love it if you would follow them as well.

1. Brigid from Bits of First Grade
3. Diana from My Day in K
4. Chrissy from First Grade Found Me

1. Antoinette from Shoelaces and Sugar Cookies
2. Sam from Fun with Firsties
4. Emily from Elementary Times

I really enjoyed the #tptsellerchallenge
I started following some new faces and got some new follows in return. 

Thanks for hosting from these four:

Sparkling in Second
Peppy Zesty Teacherista