Monday, July 29, 2013

What's In A Name? - Name Game Rounds 1 & 2

     In my room, our year is split up into four marking periods.  During each marking period we are given a topic of study, and we spend the entire marking period on that topic.  Our first marking period is called 'Great Beginnings' and we spend time learning about the rules and routines of the classroom and the school.  We also spend a lot of time learning about each other.  One of my favorite things to talk about is our name.  We do so many fun activities learning about our name, as well as the name's of our classmates and our teachers.  During the first few weeks of school last year I chose a name of a student and that student came up to the front of the room, we chanted their name, looked at it, an counted the letters.  My littles seemed to enjoy working with their names, but I felt like I wasn't doing enough to help them learn the spelling of their names.  Since I knew I wanted to change up how I completed those beginning of the year name activities, I decided to do some research to see what ideas my fellow educators had to say about this.  I found some wonderful ideas, so bear with me!! 
      While flying along through the amazing world of blogs out there, I stumbled across a link to an amazing little gem, the Meacham Name Game.  I am sure there are quite a few people out there who already know (and use!) Mrs. Meacham's awesome name activities, and I would love to hear how you use name games/student of the day/etc. activities!!  I'd like to share with you my thoughts for using this awesome activity!  I'm definitely starting with Rounds 1 and 2, and will be making sure to post about how this works in my classroom!  Here's my plan:
  Round 1: I will start with having a small bucket with each student's name on a stick.  The fist stick I pull (on the day before, I will secretly choose who I want to be the Dragon of the Day so that I can get their portrait papers ready) will be the first person to participate in the Name Game, also known as Dragon of the Day.  This student will be asked to come to the front of the room while I write his or her name on a sentence strip, then cut the name apart by letter, placing each letter in the correct order into a pocket chart.  We will chant each letter of the name as if we were at a Raven's game: (for 'Gary') "Give me a G" and they would chant back 'G!' When we chanted the last letter, I would ask them, 'What's that spell?' and they would shout back 'Gary!'  I don't know about y'all, but my littles LOVE to be allowed to shout in the classroom.  I would then introduce the best part, that they are going to get to draw a portrait of their Dragon of the Day.  First, I will model for them how to draw the portrait using shapes and the colors to match what the Dragon of the Day is wearing.  This helps me to show them how they should use shapes to draw a person.  For the first round the name of the Dragon of the Day will be printed on the bottom of the paper (which is why I need to secretly choose the Dragon of the Day before the grand ceremony of the stick-pulling) with lines so the students can attempt to copy the Dragon of the Day's name.  Even if they can only trace over the letters of their friend's name, that's fine.  I would model this during Whole Group Time so that they could complete their portrait's during the beginning of their Independent Group Time. 
   Round 2:  This round will require some prep-work.  Each student will need a small pocket envelope with their picture on each and their cut-apart name inside.  We will also need to create a large class graph with a photo of each student and the numbers 1-10 across the top (though probably less since I don't think I'll have anyone in my room with 10 or more letters in their name, but ya never know!!)  This round starts the same as the first round, choosing a stick, then putting the letters of that student's name in a pocket chart and chanting.  We will add introducing the name puzzles and then place those at one of the ELA (English Language Arts) Centers.  Next, we'll count the letters of the Dragon of the Day's name and then place a dragon picture under the correct number for the amount of letters in that student's name.  As we complete this round, we'll compare the letters in our names to see who has more/less/same.  Please stay with me through the first few weeks of school so you can see how this looks in my classroom!!

  Outside my classroom, I spent Friday at the County Fair with my nephew.  He is old enough, and tall enough, to get on all of the rides by himself now.  He was determined to ride every ride there, and he did a pretty good job of conquering each ride!  I think the only one he didn't do was the Loop-the-Loop roller coaster, but everything else he ROCKED!!  His mom and I weren't thrilled with how HIGH up he went on some of the rides, but he did AWESOME!!  Hope you're enjoying your summer with the ones you love!!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Star of the Week

   Happy Friday everyone!!  Does anyone else have trouble keeping track of what day it is during the summer??  There are times during the summer where I have to stop what I'm doing and literally think about what day it is!!  Since today is Friday, I thought I'd talk about something I do every Friday in my classroom.  Every Monday, I tell my littles that I will be looking for a student who does a super awesome job of showing the Bainbridge BEs.  Those are our PBIS expectations.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the PBIS program, it stands for Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support.  It is a discipline program focused on positive reinforcement of desired behaviors.  If you Google PBIS, you will get TONS of links to different sites.  While the foundations of the program are the same no matter where it is used, schools tend to tweak it to meet their needs.  At my school we focus on three key behaviors: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Safe.  All of our rules and routines are based around this three principals.  My school does many things to help our students stay engaged with this program, and I will talk in depth about our PBIS program at a later date.
    In my room, one of the ways we utilize PBIS is to encourage a Star of the Week.  This is something that one of my team mates had going in her room, and I liked the idea.  Our school mascot is a train ('Engineering Great Futures') so last year I purchased a set of train-themed posters from Really Good Stuff.
Click on the picture if you're interested in the posters!
   I sent one of these posters home with my chosen student on Friday, and they had the entire weekend to work on filling it out.  They could decorate it any way they chose, and use any pictures that would help tell their story.  My team mate had her students create their own posters, using whatever materials they chose.  This year I am going to try it her way.  I like the idea of the students being able to be as creative as they want with their posters, and I know that they will love to share them with their classmates.  I plan on sending home a letter with the chosen student which will explain the project to their families.  Also in the letter will be the information that the student should display on their poster.  Their name (first, middle, last), birthday, family, pets, favorite holiday, what they want to be when they grow up their favorite food, color, and thing to do.  Families will, of course, be able to add anything else to the poster that they wish to share with the class.  When the student brings the finished poster back on Monday, we will spend some time at the end of the day having the student share their poster.  Then it will hang on it's own special bulletin board for the entire week, so that everyone in the class will have a chance to study it.  I am in the process of making a sample poster that will tell my littles all about me, and when I get it finished I will post a picture of it.  For now, I'd like to share with you the letter that I plan on sending home with my Star of the Week.  Feel free to use it in your classroom (I made several different versions), and leave me a comment to tell me what you think!!  You can get this freebie one of two ways.  I'm trying Google Docs for the first time, so to download it via Google Docs click here.  In order to get this freebie through Teachers Pay Teachers, click on the picture!!  <I've never used Google Docs before, so please let me know if it works!!>

Finally, I'd like to share with you what's going on OUTSIDE my classroom.  Some of you may remember that my furbaby Isis had her second birthday on Monday.  I shared with you pictures of the presents I got for her.  Well, yesterday she ripped into her birthday bear.  I was hoping it would last a little longer, but she just HAD to get that squeaker out!  There was some stuffing she scattered around the living room floor (and I had bought the bear 'cause it was advertised NOT to have any stuffing) and she pulled out the knotted ropes that made up the toy's structure.  It looked disturbingly like she ripped out the poor guy's intestines!!  For those of you that have furbabies at home, are they 'moderate chewers' or 'strong chewers'?  I buy the toys labeled 'For strong chewers' but they don't seem to last very long around Isis.  I know that, as a pit bull, she has incredible jaw strength.  However, there HAS to be a toy out there that will last for at least a week.  Any suggestions from you puppy parents who have 'strong/powerful chewers'??  I need all the help I can get!!
The stuffing I thought this bear DIDN'T have!!

The ropes she pulled out of his belly look too much like she disemboweled the poor guy!!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Dragon of the Day

   Hope you're all having an amazing week!!  I got to do something totally awesome with my nephew yesterday, and I talk about that at the end of this post!! 
   How many of you have a Student of the Day/Star of the Day in your classroom?  In the past, I have had a Star of the Week.  This would be a student who had a really good week following our PBIS goals of Be Responsible, Be Respectful, and Be Safe.  I would choose them on a Friday and tell them that they would be able to make a poster over the weekend that shows all of their favorite things, and the things that make them special.  This past year I had them take home a pre-made poster that I purchased from Really Good Stuff, but this year I think I'm going to let them come up with their own creations.  I'll give them some guidelines and then the rest is up to them!!  I'll talk more about my ideas for Star of the Week tomorrow.  This year, in addition to the Star of the Week, I'd like to have a Dragon of the Day.  This would involve a few different things.  I would choose the Dragon of the Day by pulling a name from a bucket.  That student would be the one whose name we would focus on for the day, in order to complete the Name Game.  That student would also get to be my 'helper' for the day.  He or she would help pass things out, gather materials, or run things to another classroom if needed.  They would have their own special spot in line when walking to and from specials and the cafeteria.  I found a cute song posted by Laurie Patsalides, nice and easy to learn and set to the tune of 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'.  Don't your littles just LOVE singing songs??  Just click on the star and it will take you over there! Since I have yet to try having a Student of the Day, I would love to hear from you all on how you use this in your classroom, including on how you keep your littles enthusiastic!! <star graphic from Ashley Hughes at The School Supply Addict>

   On a non-school-related note, today I had an amazing time with my nephew Mason.  We took kayaking lessons!!  I cannot tell you how SUPER FUN it was!!  Mason did such an amazing job, and the instructors told us we were naturals!! I'm slightly more pink than I was when we started out this morning, but it was so totally worth it! We learned the correct technique for paddling forwards and backwards, as well as how to stop, turn, and rotate.  After practicing in a small lagoon, we then headed out onto the lake.  We glided past several egrets and blue herons, close enough that we could see its eyes.  Our paddles sent fish jumping and turtles sliding into the water.  We even watched a water snake cruising along.  That last part made me glad that I wasn't swimming in the water!!  While we floated peacefully near the reeds, my nephew spotted an egret stalking a fish.  As we watched, the sunlight sparkled across the water like diamonds.  After the egret speared his catch (which my nephew thought was AWESOME) he flew off right in front of us, carrying his catch away.  I was thinking how incredibly peaceful it was at that moment, and was looking for a way to express how I was feeling about being so completely surrounded by nature.  My nephew nailed it when he turned to me and said, 'Ennie, have you ever felt more alive?'  I smiled and said, 'No, I sure haven't.'  These are the moments that make life special, sometimes small but always treasured.  I am so incredibly glad that I was able to have this experience with my nephew.  We spent an hour kayaking and then an hour paddle boating.  Needless to say, I skipped the gym today!! We are both looking forward to the next time we can get out there on the water, and I look forward to the next adventure with my nephew!  What fun things have you done so far this summer?  Anything you would recommend??

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Independent Group Time

  HUMP DAY!!  Seriously, how much do you LOVE that GEICO commercial??  Just for giggles, I had to share!!

As the beginning of my school year gets closer and closer (less than a month away now...) I have been thinking more and more of how I want my year to look like.  One of the biggest challenges I'm facing is Independent Group Time.  In my district, there are no longer paraeducators in kindergarten classrooms.  During our Reading Block and our Math Block, we have small group rotations.  There is a group meeting with me, a group at centers, and an independent group.  During their independent group time, they are working on a task to help reinforce a skill.  Sometimes they are actually completing the task on their own, and sometimes they work with another member of their group.  However, there is no direct supervision while they are at that table.  I am not very far away, but I am trying to run a group and can't always rush over to assist them.  For me, this is a scary thought challenge that I need to address this year. I found some amazing ideas from Jessica Meacham over at Mrs. Meacham's Classroom Snapshots, and I will most definitely be trying out her Name Game (will post more about this next week).   I like the idea of having them complete a portrait of the Dragon of the Day (otherwise known as Student of the Day), and I think that this would be a good time for them to do so.  As my students become more proficient at this task, I will limit the time to the first ten minutes of the group.  As the year progresses I will have them label their portraits as well as create sentences using words that describe the Dragon of the Day.  I got this idea from Jody over at Camp Kindergarten, you should go check it out!!  To start the year, I'm going to have them try to write the name of the Dragon of the Day, even if they cannot correctly copy the student's name.  For the rest of the independent time, I'd like the students to work on reinforcing a skill we have previously discussed.  I will talk more about these activities as soon as I figure out what they are going to be!!  :-)  Do you have any independent group time in your classroom?  What sorts of activities do you have your littles do?  I would very much love to hear what you do!!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Daily 5 - Chapters 1-3 and a FREEBIE!!

   Evening Happy Readers!!  This post is a long one, make sure to stick with me until the end and grab your FREEBIE!!!
    I have spent the last few days reading the first three chapters of The Daily 5 book by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser.  I downloaded it to my NOOK last summer, but never got around to actually reading it let alone implementing it.  I had good intentions, of course, but there were two brand new initiatives that started last year at our school.  The first was the Common Core, and we had to completely revamp everything we had done before.  I am a big fan of the Common Core, but I will be the first to admit that it takes a lot of work to implement it.  My school was one of the pilot schools for our district, so we were lucky enough to get a bit of a head start.  The second initiative we did last year was having our early childhood program be validated through the State Department of Education.  Both initiatives are continuing into this coming school year, but I feel a little better with one year under my belt!  In just a few weeks, I will be attending a state conference on the validation program, and I will be sure to share more as it gets closer!  For now, back to the Daily 5!
Click the picture to take you to, where you can purchase a copy of your own!

   I know that there are many, many educators out there have already established using the Daily 5 in their classrooms, but if you haven't heard of it yet I strongly suggest reading the book.  I started it with the hopes of finding a way to effectively manage small independent groups in my classroom.  I have heard that this is a great method to help establish an environment to foster independent learning.  Today while enjoying breakfast at my local diner, I finished the third chapter of the book.  I've been taking notes as I'm reading, and when I got home I went back through them.  The authors of this book have spent a lot of time researching what makes good readers, and how to foster a lifelong love of reading.  The first topic in my notes was the importance of finding 'good-fit' books.  The authors state that choosing good-fit books is one of the most important things to do in order to become a better reader.  They also state that a good-fit book is a book that students can read with 99% accuracy, and it is our job to help them choose books that are a good fit for them.  We need to help them determine their purpose for reading, their interest in the topic, their ability to comprehend, as well as their ability to read most of the words.  They created an acronym to help students remember the steps to choose a good-fit book, I PICK.  It stands for 'I choose a good book', 'Purpose - WHY do I want to read it?', 'Interest - Does it interest me?', 'Comprehend - Am I understanding what I am reading?', and 'Know - Do I know most of the words?'  This acronym should be used every time a student choose a book, whether they're at the school library or a bookstore.  (I fully intend on including our Media Specialist in this process, so that my students can use this when choosing their weekly library book.  I just haven't TOLD my Media Specialist this yet!!)  The authors of the book stress the importance of having an anchor chart that is posted in the room and stays up all year long, which should show the I PICK acronym.  They also have a really cute lesson idea for introducing the acronym, involving shoes.  I fully intend to try my own version of that lesson when school starts, and I will share how it goes!!  I spent the rest of today working on an anchor chart that I could post in my classroom for my littles to refer to all year long.  I came up with an idea that is 'some assembly required', so when I get back to school I'll have to put it together.  Once I do that I'll post pictures of my finished product.  I created a set of posters, and each letter of the acronym is represented on one page.  My goal is to connect each page with a set of metal binder rings, so that the poster hangs vertically on my wall.  I will be able to refer to this chart throughout the year.  I also intend to teach my little a kinesthetic movement to match each letter of the acronym.  I learned from reading the Daily 5 that a memory stored in the kinesthetic system of the brain evokes the longest memory.  So I'm gonna teach them how to use their bodies to form each letter, YMCA-style!  Since we'll be using this all year long, I also have plans to teach them the sign language letters and how to work together to lie on the rug and form the letters.  I'll post some pics of my kiddos doing this kinesthetic activity.
    SHEW!!!  That was definitely my longest post yet!  If you stayed with me through my rambling, you deserve a FREEBIE!!!  I would love to share with you the set of posters I created for the I PICK acronym.  I hope that you can use them in your classroom, and if you do please let me know what you think of them!!
Click on the picture to head over to my TPT store and grab your freebie!!

Monday, July 22, 2013

My Furbaby's Birthday

Happy Monday everyone!! I hope that you had a superfantabulous weekend!  I sure did...even though it seems like the summer is just flying right by!!  Does anybody else feel that way??  Yesterday was my furbaby's second birthday, so of course I spent the entire day spoiling her!  Do you have a furbaby (or more) that you totally spoil rotten??  I've honestly thought about throwing her a birthday party...would that be going overboard?  She got a special lunch of cheeseburgers and then went shopping for her birthday present.  By the time we got done shopping at her favorite pet store, she was pretty tired!  Now I need to spend the day doing all the laundry and cleaning that I skipped yesterday!!  This week I will be posting about the first few chapters in my book study of the Daily 5, as well as some new materials for my TPT store.  Make sure you keep checking back so you can see everything I've done!  School shopping is just around the corner, and I will make sure to share what I purchase and what I plan on doing with it this year.  Where is your favorite spot for back to school shopping?  Target, the Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart, Staples???  I'm ALWAYS looking for the best deals, so if you find something amazing on your shopping excursions please make sure to share in the comments!!  I'd love to share your finds!!  :-)
She is one pooped pit bull!!
Isis with her newest stuffy...wonder how long it'll take her to get that squeaker out!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Holy Blogging!!

HOLY BLOGGING!!!  I have been learning SO MUCH about creating a blog today!!  I have been up since 10:00 this morning (not really all that early, I know) working on improving my little blog.  I followed the recommendation of Mai Huynh over at and went to visit Jessica Stanford over at  Jessica has AMAZING video tutorials for how to improve/create your blog, and I can't thank her enough for providing such awesome tools!  Using many of Jessica's tips, I have added and updated my blog.  It's beginning to look like a real blog!  I know that I still have a lot to learn and a lot of improvements to make, but I am starting to feel a lot better about how my blog looks.  I am so grateful for such wonderful people such as Mai and Jessica, as well as Jennie Johnson over at  It is so wonderful that there are teachers out there willing to share their knowledge and experience to help newbies like me!  I hope you become one of my newest followers, and please let me know what you think!!  I am always wiling to learn new things!!  My newest blog friend Mai introduced me to the blog Covered in Glitter and Glue ( and when I hopped over there I joined up with a Back To School exchange she organized.  I'm super excited to be a part of it, and can't wait until I get to find out who my Secret Teacher Pal will be!!  I'm definitely getting my feet wet in this world of blogging!!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Introducing...the Kindergarten Dragons!!!

   Happy Friday, and welcome to my brand new blog!!  I have NEVER EVER EVER tried to make and keep a blog before, so please bear with me through this learning process!  I am hoping to document and share my year in kindergarten, including various activities that I complete with my kiddos.  I have a TPT store that contains some of the activities that I have already made, and I will be continually adding to it.  Since I am so very, very new at this whole process I am very willing to listen to any and all suggestions that can help me create a more effective blog (be patient, I'm still learning!).  Please leave any and all helpful comments!!
   I am getting ready to start my own book study on the Daily 5.  I know that many teachers have already implemented this awesome system, but this will be my first year in doing so.  I am going to share with you my trials and triumphs with it this year, and I would love to hear your thoughts on how to use the Daily 5 in a primary classroom!  I hope that we can learn and grow together, and that you will find my blog entertaining and useful!  To celebrate my very first blog, I am throwing a sale in my TPT store.  Everything will be 20% off, and there are MANY $1.00 items that will be even cheaper for a few days!  Please visit and stock up on different activities!!
                                                     Just click <here> to go right to my store!