Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fruit Loop Patterns and Field Trips!

It's been a busy week in Lower El! We learned patterns with the kindergarteners and my first/second graders loved the activity so much they asked to join in. It's amazing what Fruit Loops can do!! Can you believe multiple students had never had Fruit Loops before?! Darn us healthy Californians with all natural diets and no artificial anything. I'm the terrible teacher corrupting them! Not sure I mind though... it was fun to see them so excited to learn as they stuffed their faces! Check out some of their pattern skills below. I made them create a pattern, then tell me what type it was before they could eat it (AB, AABB, ABC, etc.). They caught on to the letter pattern concept crazy quick. Oh the things food can do to help kids learn :)

This would be the first SET of patterns by my little genius boy.

We have not one but TWO field trips this week (in lieu of an overnight trip like the older grades at our school). Today we went to Happy Hollow Park and Zoo! The kids were so good today! I've discovered field trips have a tendency of being great, or a day of chaos. I sent a text to the mom of my super challenging little guy to tell her things were going well (I almost didn't let him come with us) and she was soooo sweet and asked how I  was doing. I have the most amazing parents this year. Totally realistic about how I have my hands full this year, and always willing to help make my life easier. Love them! Today was a great day!

Tomorrow we are going strawberry picking at the strawberry farm. The sweetest old couple run the family farm and were so patient with my little guys last year. I just had to come back with my new group this year. Plus they had the best strawberries!!

Upcoming: I'm working on the Treasures Unit 2 Vocabulary Matching activities for 2nd grade. Unit 1 had tons of downloads and I had a specific request for Unit 2. It's on the way and I'll post it to my TPT by this weekend. Perhaps Unit 3 also if I have enough time.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Top 3 Products and a Freebie Linky!

It's been a crazy day in Lower El, and not in a good way! I'm going to chose to focus on on the things that went really well! Our pattern unit is a huge success! The kids just love the noodles I dyed and have been making pattern necklaces. I was so excited by the fact the kids wanted to make their necklaces for other people instead of themselves. They wanted to make them for their moms. So sweet!

Tape one end to the table to keep them from falling off the other end
I wrapped tape on the end going through the noodle to keep it from fraying and make it easier to lace
The colors came out beautifully!!
My other shining moment happened when two of my boys with autism had two-way conversations successfully today without prompting! As in I said something about the strawberry farm we're going to on Friday, he said something back about another strawberry farm he's been to, then we talked about how they are different places but are both strawberry farms. I realize this is a very mundane conversation, but it's HUGE for this little sweetie pie. I've very excited about the fact that we have not one, but TWO field trips this week. I'll be posting funny stories and some pictures later this week. 

I'm joining up with Hopkins Hoppin' Happenings for the Top 3 Products and a Freebie Linky party!

My top selling products by far are my Common Core Records (Math available for K-3, Language Arts available for K-2). I'm know this is technically 7 products, but essentially they all serve the same purpose depending on what grade you teach. I happen to teach many grade levels! These pages are a easy way to check off which Common Core Skills your students have learned using "I can..." statements. Click the "Buy My Products" tab at the top to get the link for each grade. Here are the first grade links so you can take a peek. 

My #2 top seller is the special education student information sheet. This is an "at a glance" look at all the info you need for a special education student without having to dig through million page IEPs. 

My #3 best seller is my set of Social Skills Reminder Cards. These easy to use cards are great helpers for students who need extra reminders about how to behave in specific places/situations. I designed them for kids with autism/asperger's but they work great with any kid having social skills struggles. The set includes 30 cards that can be used individually or placed on a ring for students to flip through.

Last, but definitely not least... my most popular FREEBIE!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Pattern Unit FREEBIE

Happy Sunday! I feel like the weekends are never long enough to get everything done. This weekend I worked on my pattern unit. I made a matching game (well actually 2 in one file) and I'm currently dying some pasta for pattern necklaces. This is my first time with this little adventure, but it seems to be working. I placed pasta in a bag with rubbing alcohol and food coloring. Here's what it looks like while it's being dyed and while it's drying. I'll let it dry outside on my porch tonight and take the pasta to school tomorrow.

Ziploc Bags with 1 cup pasta, 1/3 c rubbing alcohol, dozen drops of dye

Drying in a box that used to be full of water bottles

Yesterday I got an email from a parent that said there is a shipment on the way to school from Oriental Trading!! How nice is that?! I knew she was a great choice for room mom! Apparently their is a mix of Halloween and Pirate themed goodies inside. I'm sooo excited! This is stemming from the fact that I've been giving her kid surprise rewards to help him do better and he loves Halloween stuff. She said she bought enough for me to keep a stash for him as the year goes on and it's no longer Halloween time, plus more to use with the rest of the class. She's awesome!!

This set of 2 balloon pattern matching activities is my latest freebie! Click Here for the free Google Doc. Click the image to download it from my TPT store.

I know it's Sunday Night, but by the time the rest of the time zones see this post it will be Monday. So I think this counts for Manic Monday :) My scheduled post settings don't seem to be working! :(
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Friday, September 21, 2012

Freebie Friday!

It's Friday!!! This day of the week couldn't come fast enough! It's been a busy week in the Lower El Cottage. Back to School Night Wednesday, picture day today and a whole bunch of other stuff in between.

I don't think I ever posted a picture of my Social Skills Reminder Cards once I got them all laminated, so here they are! I thought about putting them on a ring, but then decided I really just want to do one card at a time depending on the activity the child is doing, or the specific skill the student is focusing on that week.  Here is what they look like all cut out and laminated. The finished size per card is about 2 inches by 4.5 inches.

Sorry it's sideways! Once again my work computer doesn't like me!

My Fall Sight Word Matching for kindergarten has been pretty popular this week so I decided to link up with TBA so even more people can enjoy this cute little freebie. It is available in my TPT store for FREE or you can click this image to download directly from Google Docs

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Here are a couple more of my FREEBIES!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Back to School Night Success!

Last night was Back to School Night and it was a big success! I have such wonderful families this year! They all completely agreed with my teaching strategies and then asked if they could have more stuff to do at home. I just love active parents. Even better, my two most challenging bundles of energy seem to clash some days and their parents were talking and laughing about it! I am soooo happy about how realistic this group of parents is! I'm amazed the number of parents in special ed that think their kids can't do stuff just because they learn differently. These parents are all for pushing their kids and expecting the most of them. Sooo happy about that!

I was super tired today after getting home just before 9:00 last night then getting suck in a horrible traffic jam this morning. It took an hour and 40 minutes to get to work today! I walked in exactly 1 minute before school started. My kids were giggling and asking why I was running to class to beat them. Sorry, to pictures of today's projects. My little guys are getting better at their color words and I'm able to slowly step it up each day.

Based on ideas from parents last night, I think I'll be making quite a few things in the near future and posting them for you to share. I'm crazy tired from workouts 4 out of the last 5 days, so I'm off to bed soon. School picture day tomorrow! I still find it funny I'll be taking school pictures for the rest of my life :)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Reading, Letter Crafts and Graphing!

It's been such a busy week that I'm not even sure where to begin! I started doing CrossFit with another teacher this week and by the time I get home I'm ready to crawl in bed. My arms are crazy sore. I tried to pick up a kid to help him reach something and I about collapsed. I'm looking at the bright side and thinking about what great shape I'll be in this fall/winter! Right now I'm just really sore!

I had an amazing "ah ha!" moment this week! I have one little kindergarten boy who was HATING school and detests the idea that it involves working, not just playing. Trying to get him to do his Brown Bear, Brown Bear paper book this week was like torture for him on Monday! Then suddenly on Tuesday morning he did all of his work and then ASKED for Brown Bear, Brown Bear. I handed it to him and he proceeded to "read" the whole thing to a buddy! I was soooo excited! That kid had a total disaster of a day (and so did I) on Monday, to a positively perfect day yesterday and today.

This week our letter of the week was "A" so we made a letter craft. The kids really enjoyed it so I think we'll do it again next week for "M." I actually taught "M" last week, but I hadn't thought about the craft until it was too late to add it to the plans. Next week is a review week for our first 2 letters, so it works out well anyway. This week I also started singing Dr. Jean's "Lettercise" song and the kids love, love, love it!! I mean how often does the teacher tell kids to run and jump in class?! They just think it's the greatest thing ever. Sorry the pics are upside down. My work computer plots against me quite often! Today is one of those days...

This week we also started patterns and graphing. Today's activity was to sort beads by color, then graph them using a picture graph (drawing circles). This was a huge success, and it helped me see my little guys are much better at one-to-one counting and graphing than I expected! They hardly needed any help. A great way to start the year.

Tonight is Back to School Night, so I'll be here for another 4.5 hours... I'm so glad I have super sweet families this year. Crossing fingers tonight goes well. I need to clean up my mess of a classroom and sanitize the tables/chairs before the parents are forced to sit in them!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Fall Sight Word FREEBIE!

My kindergarten students are starting to learn to "read" predictable books. They are still getting used to the idea of sight words, so I wanted them to have lots of ways to practice. I made a new matching game to add to the literacy centers. All you need to do is print and cut it out. Then let the kids practice matching the words in a center or as a seat work activity.  The first 12 high frequency words are included (based on my Treasures curriculum, but they are pretty much the same for any program). If you click the images below you may download them as a Google Doc, or you can download it from my TPT store.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cheap Learning Games

Hello Friends! Happy Sunday! I just got done with a great game of soccer and now I'm all energized! This morning I got an email from Jennifer who thankfully caught a tiny typo on the 1st Grade Common Core Math Record. The word "fourth" in the geometry section was accidentally spelled "forth." Jennifer and I believe auto-correct was plotting against me that day :) Please click here to download the revised copy: Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook

Yesterday I went shopping at Ross with my mom when she wanted some cute socks for my baby niece and nephew. While we were wandering in the kids section, I found these wonderful games for crazy cheap! I've bought other versions of their games for around $12 and I had a dozen choices and they were only $4.99 each! I never would have thought to look at Ross for learning games, but there they were! I picked up these four: Upper & Lower Case Letters, Sequencing, Who Am I?, and Rhyme. Serious time savers for centers that I no longer have to make for my wiggly little ones!!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Getting into a Routine

My class seems to finally be "getting it." I'm seeing the things I teach them are totally sinking in! Yesterday I had one bouncing bunny of a student dump my latte onto my lesson plan book and a good chunk of the day's copies. Still not sure if it was really an accident or a curious monster that wanted to see what would happen... Anyway, that isn't my point. My favorite part was the reaction of my kids whose papers got messy! They said "it's okay, it doesn't have to be perfect. Just do your best with it!!" I just love them! After such a terribly scary Thursday, it was great way to end the week on Friday.

I have one kindergartner who has been hating school and the days just seem too long for him (8:30-3:15) and he was really struggling. He had a PERFECT day yesterday and got all of his points. I wasn't on duty at lunch time (Friday is the only day I'm not out there when the kids eat) and my little guy was looking everywhere for me because he missed me. Such a happy change from crying for his mom earlier in the week! I'll admit, I discovered Halloween was his favorite holiday, and I stocked up on secret surprises for him when I caught him being good. Thanks again Target dollar isle!! So far he's gotten a bat pencil and a monster stamper.

I spent my day at an art and wine festival with a fellow teacher today. Such a lovely 80 degree afternoon! I love the last bits of summer. I'll be doing my lesson planning tomorrow. I'll post any goodies I finish on here tomorrow, including the next story in my social skills curriculum. I think it will be "Whole Body Listening Larry."

Elmer's 1680 CrayonPro Electric Sharpener

Have you seen this?! It's a crayon sharpener that peals off the paper too! I sooo don't need to spend this much ($43), but I really want to! Any of you have one?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Scary Day on Campus

Today was a "Lock Down" day on campus, and it wasn't a drill. It was scary for me because I saw what was happening outside my window. Thankfully my guys are really little and I kept them distracted, so they had no idea anything was wrong. They heard the intercoms about keeping our doors locked, but I told them it's just a rule or a practice or something... I honestly don't know what I said, but either way they listened and weren't the least bit concerned. Such precious little ones!

I teach at a K-12 school, and a high school student had a meltdown... a very big student, was very, very agitated. I am close friends with the school counselor who I could see was trying to calm him down as I looked through my window. It wasn't working, then they were out of my sight. I was having a panic attack as I used my most chipper happy voice every for everything I said to my students to keep them calm and perky. The PE teacher was with me and read them a story and let them play inside since they were missing their PE time. I was so relieved when we got the "all clear." Everyone was safe, and no one was hurt. The student can be the sweetest teddy bear of a kid when he's in a normal state. We do not have violent students at our school, so this was a very unexpected occurrence. The student felt very bad when he calmed down and was very apologetic. I'm so glad it ended well, but I was still very shaken up as I pretended to be fine for the sake of my class. I'll be honest, now that I'm home I've already poured myself a big glass of wine!!

I somehow got through most of my plans, mainly for a hope that normalcy would make me feel normal again. Plus I gave the kids an extra recess and prizes for being so AWESOME today!! They rolled with every twist and turn I threw at them! No tantrums, except when a kid smashed his finger in a door, but that doesn't count! He's fine and didn't even remember it by the time mom picked him up. I'm off to decompress... I'll post actually teaching stuff this weekend...

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Carpet Squares & Wigglebottom Response Activities

My Teacher Likes to SayOne of my favorite books is My Teacher Likes to Say... by Denise Brennan-Nelson. It's all about idioms like "ants in your pants" and what they mean. My little guys, especially the ones with autism, struggle with non-literal language and this book is perfect for explaining those common phrases! Last week a boy literally twisted his tongue with his fingers when I said "tongue twister" in another story. This meant it was perfect time to read this story. I make the book fun by acting out the phrases. It makes them giggle! So little genius boy was being quite the clever one again! I was explaining that "two heads are better than one" doesn't mean you need to grow an extra head and we can't really have two heads. And of course Little Genius (very politely) corrected me and said "unless you are one of those babies who is born stuck together. Then you can have two heads because it's two people stuck together." I don't know if I mentioned how old he is, but he is barely five years old! 

Personal space is a struggle for 2 of my kiddos this year. I decided it was time for cart squares! I had a giant rug at my old school with a square for every student. My cottage doesn't have the space for such a thing, so I decided individual carpet squares would be a great idea to space my kids out and rearrange them based on which activity I'm doing and how many of my kids are participating. I tell this great idea to my friend the speech teacher who shares my cottage (she's upstairs). Turns out her husband found a bunch downstairs at his building this week and was complaining he had no idea what to do with them! She called him right away so he could bring them home from work and she brought them to school. I'll add the pics of them to this post when I get to school :)

Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to ListenLast but far from least... my newest edition to the social skills reading curriculum! The book for this one is Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen by Howard Binkow. This is about a very wiggly bunny who gets in trouble every time he doesn't listen. Great illustrations and a great lesson to learn! I have a few wigglebottoms in my class who will benefit from this! I developed this for kids who can read the book independently, but there are also 2 pages for a drawing responses. These meet common core standards for literacy.

  • Sequencing story events
  • Identify cause and effect relationships using a matching activity
  • Draw what it looks likes to listen/not listen, then draw what happens based on your choice

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Scholastic Dollar Deals!!

Do you know about the Scholastic Dollar Deals?! If not, you should!!! I love the resource books from Scholastic to help supplement my materials, create hands-on learning activities, and just plain spice up the curriculum!! While these are all great things, the cost of teacher resource books really adds up! I always stock up on them during the Dollar Deals! Today I spent a whopping $9 and got over $100 worth of materials!! What makes it even better, I was able to pay with PayPal with my Teacher's Notebook sale money and not even touch my bank account! Plus, since they are eBooks I can access them anywhere for planning, and I don't have to dig on a book shelf. I just print pages as needed. (No I'm in no way being paid or encouraged to write this by Scholastic. I just love it THIS MUCH!!

Tonight I also plan on working on my social skills reading curriculum. I'll post my latest story title and the response activities as soon as they are ready.

Here are a few of the Dollar Deals I got that I'm super excited about! Hurry if you want any, it only lasts 3 days.

The MEGA-BOOK of Instant Word-Building Mats
Perfect for centers or independent practice time!
Guess-Me Poems & Puzzles: Alphabet
Spice up my initial sounds practice with puzzles!
The Big Book of Pocket Chart Poems: ABCs & 123s
Great for my new pocket chart center

Monday, September 10, 2012

Easy sorting and matching activity!

Happy Monday! Oh Monday always seem to be a mess, but we all survived once again! I have to give my kids some credit, they are getting much better at doing exactly what they are supposed to when one of them is having a fit or doing something completely unexpected.

Later in the day one student had an accident for the second time since school started. Looks like I will need to start giving prompts and reminders for bathroom breaks. I forget the kinders really need those at the beginning of the year. I guess I just assume since the bathroom in 3 feet from their desk that they will see it and remember to go. Apparently learning and playing was too much fun to stop! I can't even be mad when the kid is already embarrassed and he'd already had a very rough start to the day. Another boy discovered he had a "bone in his pee pee" and I had to try with all my might not to laugh when he asked where it came from because "it wasn't there earlier." I chose not to answer!! I just shrugged. How do you answer these questions?!?!

Don't you wish you could be a fly on the wall in my crazy room? I kinda wish I was sometimes so I could just enjoy the show. Does anyone else have this crazy stuff happen? The previous teacher of my class now works in the office as a secretary. She made a comment today about how wonderfully organized and well behaved my class is compared to the constant chaos when she taught the class a few years ago. If this is calm, I don't think I could have stepped foot in her class without having a heart attack. I feel like I'm always running to keep up with these wiggly ones.  :)

Ok, on to some real teaching strategies... Do your kids get distracted by all the information on the page of a text book? My 1st and 2nd graders get engrossed in the pictures that they forget to read the words. Today used a sheet of paper to cover the opposite page so they wouldn't have so much visual stimulation. It worked quite well! They were much less distracted!

Kindergarten is learning sorting for math. First is "same and different" then we will "sort by one attribute" and then "sort by more than one attribute." Today I was trying to figure out what on earth to sort. I have ideas, but I wanted to save them for the "more than one attribute" lesson. Then I remembered a super, duper easy way to make matching games!!
  • Cut a 3x5 card in half (saves paper/cost/space, you can keep it whole)
  • Place identical stickers on 2 different cards
  • laminate
  • Viola! Instant matching game! 
I chose fruit characters. I used 2 identical large sheets of these stickers which I accidentally discovered are delicious smelly stickers! I liked them because one day we can sort by identical pictures, then the next day we can sort by what type of fruit since there are several different versions of the banana person, the apple people, etc.
Part of the sorting activity (about 20 in all). Still need to laminate them tonight.
Genius boy created 2 digit numbers out of counters (without prompting) Made a game of it!
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