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Monday, December 26, 2011

Ho! Ho! Ho! There's till no snow (part 2)

Well, I don't know about all of you, but the last week has been crazy!  We had full days of school through Dec. 22!  The excitement of Christmas, coupled with the flu, led to quite an eventful (and messy!) last day of school!  At least the temperature is in the MID-40's! making recess duty (and now cleaning my garage) not as unbearable as it could be!

Last time I shared some of my math related holiday activities. This time I will follow up with some literacy (and whatever I forgot before!) activities! Hope you enjoy (and get some ideas for next year!).

Literacy Centers
I called this "candy cane words".  The kids use paper candy cane pieces to spell names and sight words.  It's really interesting to see how they form some of the trickier letters out of the random pieces.  To make the pieces, I just printed red/white striped paper (pick up your copy HERE) and either cut different length strips for the "straight pieces" and then cut out several "o"'s using the die cut machine which I chopped into various portions to create curved pieces.

After the kids made a word, they had to record it on the recoding sheet.

At another center I the kids had a bag full of sight words, along with some Christmas Pictures (I think I got these from Victoria Smith at kinderkorner.com) and they had to use the words and pictures to make sentences.  My rule was that all the sentences could NOT follow the same pattern (I like, I like, etc.)

One of their favorite activities every year is going "shopping" for Christmas presents.  I print out small booklets that have a present with a letter in it on each page.  (Get yours HERE). I am lucky enough to have a copier that shrinks and creates booklets from regular sized sheets of paper!  If you don't, and don't want to print 26 sheets per kid, here is a condensed version.  Anyways, the kids look through toy catalogs and sale papers, and cut out "presents" and glue them on the correct page, based on what letter they start with.

I found a Christmas tree glyph from Shari Sloane's site that I modified and turned into an art center project.  We sponge painted the trees, and then used a scrap-booking circle punch to cut out the ornaments.  I was amazed at what a fine motor activity the hole punching turned into!

We made our own "Rudolph Rudolph" books (I got this idea from little giraffes) and the kids just loved how Rudolph's nose kept changing color, it rhymed, and had lots of sight words in it!  You can get your own copy here.  I imported mine into a Promethean board flip chart so we could ALL see and do word work together as well.  (Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE my promethean board??)

We also made TLC type reindeer, which focuses on turning squares and rectangles into "art" while incorporating LOTS of math vocabulary (horizontal,  diagonal, center, etc).  I just love how every year there is that 1 reindeer facing the wrong way!

We made elves, along with an "Elf to do list" from an idea I got from Deanna Jump's website.  I just laugh when I look at how stressed out the one elf looks!  Kind of reminds me of myself around the holidays! :)

 Each month we make a "quilt" from different TLC type art activities.  This month's features the TLC Santa, and the Little Giraffe's Tree.  So Cute!

 Not to forget about Hannukkah, in order to try to broaden the students culturally (I work in a very NON-diverse area) some of the things we did was watch an Elmo Hannukah clip  and learned how to play the dreidle game.  The kids LOVED it.  Want a copy of the game, click HERE.  Not sure where I originally got the dreidles from... my ex-husaband is Jewish!

And... just because I love when kids surprise you...  We had pretzels for snack one day, and 1 of my students decided to eat them in the shape of the alphabet!  I you look carefully, and use a little imagination, you can actually make out each letter!

Well, I hope to get some school stuff done over break (like lesson plans for next week!) but also want to find some time to relax as well. Hope your holidays are enjoyable, relaxing and refreshing! 

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ho! Ho! Ho! There's still no snow!

It's officially the middle December is Wisconsin, and we still have not had any snow (other than the 5 minutes during writing time last week that inspired many young writers and caused quite the commotion!)  Nevertheless, we are continuing on with our Christmas activities!  Maybe by January when we do the bulk of our Winter unit there will be some on the ground to reference!  Anyways, here are some of the fun thing in math we have been doing this week!

Math Station Activities
Ornament Color: students use 3 different colored unifix cubes and see if they can find all the different ways to line them up.  There are 6 ways total.  I am always amazed at how well the kids do with this activity!  I have them re-order their cubes and put it next to each ornament to see if it is the "same" or if they found a "new way".  For more of a challenge, I give kids 4 unifix cubes and see how many of the 24 ways they can find!  (I just put four of theses sheets on 1 piece of paper, and have them color the hook as the 4th spot on the ornament.)
You can pick up a copy of this HERE

Christmas Pattern Block Pictures: I originally had a pattern block present activity that I had gotten out of the Mailbox magazine years ago, but since I "misplaced" about half of my Christmas file, it is missing so this is what I had to create for a similar activity. Can you spot the errors in this student's work? 

HERE's a copy to save you the trouble of re-creating it should you misplace your file :)

Help Santa Grow his Beard: To practice the concepts of adding and subtracting, we play this fun Santa game.  Students roll the +/- dice and add/subtract that many cotton balls from Santa's beard.  To help work on sharing and playing fairly/correctly, I have each student use their own Santa board, but they are to share the die.

Santa's Sleigh Drop: I really like how this activity is worded, color coded, and the concept, and the kids did MUCH better than I thought they would!  They put presents in Santa's sleigh (which just happens to be a 10 frame) and then - oh no!- Santa's drops some and they have to figure out how many are left!  I used erasers as "presents" because they fit in the squares so nicely!  I can't take credit for this activity at all though - I got it HERE for FREE!

Tannenbaum tallies: I got this from Deanna Jumps' and Julie Lee's Winter Packet and the kids ROCKED the tally marks!  I was so impressed that they remember that "number 5 goes across them all" and to leave spaces between their groups of 5!  Yeah!

Present Patterns: For some reason my class LOVES to color this year, so I have been letting them color patterns.  I have a sheet like this for just about every season/month, and the patterns get harder as we go along.  Here we are coloring and labeling a pattern.  I always include a "make your own" pattern on the back to see who truly understands the concept of creating a pattern that repeats..."no.... red, blue, yellow, blue, green,  is not a pattern...."  :)

Finally, I stumbled upon a new blog http://livelaughlovek.blogspot.com/ and got a few new centers from there as well!  We will be doing those next week (yes, we have school until the 23rd!) so I will post those, along with some of our literacy centers next week.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Batch of GIngerbread!

WoW!  It seems like Gingerbread is the thing to do in kindergarten this time of year! Not only are the kids LOVING this unit - so am I!  It so great to see that so many people from all over are doing similar types things in kindergarten, it reaffirms that I am on the right track and "on par" with the latest, greatest and best in kindergarten!  While I have been seeing (and adding!) all the other great gingerbread men ideas from various blogs to my unit, here are a few of my own I thought I'd share to add to the batch!

In addition to reading and charting several versions of the story (this chart and corresponding activity are from/based off the Deanna Jump's gingerbread packet) we did a lot other fun things too!  I'll try not to repeat some of the more common ideas :)  oops... the flip chart is saved on my school PC!  So... the chart picture will be coming soon!

As a 6 Traits "word choice" activity we brainstormed other words instead of "popped" to describe how the gingerbread man got out of the oven.

At centers we worked on spelling our first and last names with only 1 capital letter.  To this day I don't understand why they are always throwing random capitals in!    Anyways, we are lucky enough to have a die cut machine for the gingerbread men :)  Last year I tried this having kids fold paper and cut them out to resemble paper dolls, and that was a DISASTER!  The kids used letter stencils I picked up through Oriental Trading Company a few years ago to spell their names.  We have also been having issues with appropriate glue usage, so I thought making them use  just a small dot on the hand/foot to attach them together would help their fine motor skills too.

The kids were so intrigued  about whose name was the longest, how many vowels, etc.  That next year I will be adding this sheet for them to fill out as well.  Grab it for FREE here!

Of course we had to do the "Which part of the gingerbread man did you bite first?" graph.  I just love making the kids cut out a gingerbread and then cut the part they bit off!  The data analysis sheets are from Deanna Jumps' gingerbread unit.

For our family project this week, the kids decorated a paper gingerbread man using food.  Of course we discussed what kind of food to use that wouldn't rot.  Somebody asked if they could use tomatoes!  Uh-- let's use things like cereal, uncooked pasta, candy, etc.  I am always so amazed at how great and creative these turn out!  (Ignore the hideous fabric background - it looked cute in the store, but not on my wall!  It's going to be changed very soon!)

 We practiced color words on the Promethean board with this idea I got from Julie Lee.  The kids have to write the color word in that color, and then they use the "spill the paint" bucket to color the frosting to match.  We made the book on the board, and then the kids made their own individual books as well.
You can download the Promethean Board activity HERE.

We labeled the parts of the gingerbread man and then wrote two sentences about him.  I'm impressed at how well our writing is coming along this year!  I also love how this student added lipstick to her gingerbread man!  Too cute!  This activity, and a few of the others, can be found in my "Stirring up some fun with the gingerbread man" packet.

Here is in area estimation and count activity we did.  Students estimate (im marker so they can't cahnge it later) how many --- they think will fit inside the gingerbread man.  Then they fill it up, and practice counting (and removing it as they count) to see if there estimate was close!  Of course, several guess "100" for whatever the object is, and then are shocked they weren't close! :P

Now it's off to have "visions of gingerbread dance in my head".  Enjoy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kitchen Makeover

My class LOVES to play in the dramatic play/"kitchen" area during free choice and inside recess.  So many great language opportunities, problem solving skills, and social functioning take place there that it makes me sad when I hear about how some kindergarten classroom are getting rid of these "playthings" because they need to focus more on "academics" and therefore miss out on all the wonderful things that go on here... Anyways, I had been getting really irritated that the kids were just shoving stuff everywhere to clean up - an then realized that the problem wasn't with the kids, but my lack of "organization" in this area.  Everything else in the room is labeled with it's own place, but somehow I overlooked all the dramatic play accessories.  So, I created some signs to put on my baskets, and now everything is neatly sorted.  (Not to mention it looks MUCH better!)  No more chaos!  Yeah! :)  If you have a better way to organize this area of your classroom, I'd love to hear from you!

If you'd like a copy of the signs/labels click HERE.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Class Dojo

I'm discovering that I am more of a tech geek than I realized... while this isn't really a surprise to anyone who knows me...  Anyways, one of my colleagues shared a new website for classroom management with me called Class Dojo (www.classdojo.com) . Basically, each student is given a monster avatar (which tied in beautifully after using Kathleen Pederson's Monster Behavior book!) where you give awards for positive behaviors, as well as take awards away for negative behaviors, and yes, you can customize the awards to fit your class and targeted behaviors.  

Below is a "demo" class, and you can see I have awarded (and taken away) awards from various students.  You can set it to only show students with a positive balance if you want as well.

Here are the "default" awards and how I have changed them to better fit my class.

You can also print out behavior reports to send home to parents, or to keep track of how students are doing.  I send one home at the end of each week, so there are no surprises when report cards go out! :)

If you have a smart phone, you can even use it to enter awards!  Since I am lucky enough to have a Promethean board, I just keep this minimized at the bottom, and use it throughout the day.  The kids LOVE it and once they hear the "ding" indicating someone got an award (or see me pull it up) everyone's behavior immediately improve as they hope they are getting a "good award".  I strive very hard to make sure everyone has a positive balance at the end of the day/each week.

Since this is BRAND NEW, there are still a few things that are being worked out, but in the month or so I have been using it, they have already made a lot of positive changes!

Here are 2 YouTube video that explains it further. http://www.youtube.com/user/classdojo#p/a/u/1/jxFTMmF0a6c and http://www.youtube.com/user/classdojo#p/a/f/0/b5uihmPlbvA
Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

October Promethean Calendar

It's done! It's done! It's done!  My October Calendar for the Promethean Board is done!  I know my kids are going to be super excited about the new songs, pages, and features!  For something that appears pretty simple, these things are very time intensive to create!  (If you are a perfectionist like me and have a board, you know what I mean - BUT they are definitely worth it!)  I don't know if it's just me, but that software is rather glitchy!  It never fails that as I go to click "save" the program freezes up and needs to be restarted... Ahhhh!   Despite my personal issues with the software I can't even begin to tell you how much I LOVE my Promethean Board.  I use it ALL the time and the kids are soooo engaged!  It has definitely changed the way I teach!  Everyone can FINALLY see, and it's so interactive the kids are always involved, and  "sharing the Pen" has additional meaning now - everyone gets a turn to do something - even when it is not a writing lesson! Check out my latest creation for yourself!
You can purchase it HERE

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chicka Chicka

OMG! Where does all the time go??? I have so much I want to add and share but don't have the time!  (Maybe that's just the beginning of the year in kindergarten for you... plus I coach middle school girls softball everyday after school and have one of those beginning of the year colds... again...)  Anyways, enough excuses.  I plan on updating this on a much more regular basis - which also means I can't spend as much time blog hopping :(   I don't know about you, but these blogs are ADDICTING!  BUT... they are definitely making me a MUCH better teacher, so THANK YOU to all of you out there!  If 1 idea I post on my site helps at least one person in some way, then it is worth the time!

OK, enough rambling for now...  We have spent the last week doing a big Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Unit.  One of my favorite parts of the unit was when we were exploring and opening a REAL coconut!  (After several discussions that coconuts don't grow in places that get cold in the winter, one of my little darlings asked if I found it on the street!  Ummm... we have very cold winters in Wisconsin, so remember, we don't have coconut trees here!)  Anyhow, their faces and excitement was priceless, but wouldn't ya know it - the battery in my camera died!  I must have left in on or something because I just charged it!  So, here is what I have to offer you instead.  About every week I send home a simple "Family Project" that the students are to complete and then bring to class the following week to share.  (Kind of like show and tell, but without the toys :) )  This week, they were to decorate a letter to place on the large "Chicka Tree" I have hanging in the classroom.  They all are so creative and they turned out great!  The kids keep waiting for the tree to tip over, just like it did in the book!  (I'm just waiting for the masking tape to give...)  If you want a copy of the letters, just below and they are all yours!  Enjoy!
Download the letters HERE

We make a "special snack" every week that relates to our theme.. of course we had to make "chicka trees"!  Look what a great job one of the kids did! It was WAY better then my example!

Each week we make one of these theme related "special snacks" which I have compiled into 2 cookbooks.  (Vol 2 is not quite done yet...)  Anyways, feel free to download the recipe card for this snack.  If you like what you see, feel free to purchase vol. 1!  Each recipe comes in 3 different levels.

Click HERE for the chicka recipe card!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Literacy Centers - Round 1

We began our first rotation of literacy centers this week, to actual cheers! (This is one of the many reasons why I love kindergarten!)  One of my centers is the pocket chart center.  The first few weeks I want the kids to focus on learning the routine, where to find the materials, how to choose a center and staying at it the entire time, etc.  Since these are my main goals, I purposely try and put fun/easier centers for the kids to do.  Typically, at the pocket chart center I have kids sort pictures by either shapes, or colors - but since the addition of 4K at our school, I decided I would make it a little more challenging and see how they do.  I planned on having them sort cards into letters, numbers, OR shapes, to see who knew the difference!  (Of course I kept my color and shape sorting nearby for those who needed it.)  I was pleasantly surprised to see how well everyone did with the activity!  Only a few kids needed the "easier version" (but isn't that what differentiation is all about?)  Anyways, you can download the pieces I used for free below and try it out for yourself!

Download it HERE

Monday, September 5, 2011

Landslide of Laminate!

I've been so busy blog hopping from one awesome blog to the next (and picking up a TON of new ideas in the process!) that I sort of forgot to add to my own blog! I had every intent of blogging away about the first day of school, complete with pictures, but when the mercury decided to rise to 95, and the heat index well above that (did I mention I am one of 6 rooms WITHOUT air conditioning) all I could do when I came home was change my soaked clothes and fall asleep on the couch! 

Now that the temperature is more manageable, I went into school (yes, on labor day) and printed out and laminated the TON of new ideas, centers, etc. that I will be using in the upcoming weeks.  I wish I would have taken a picture of the long trail of laminated papers I came home with...  Oh well, here I am halfway through cutting it all out - can you think of a better way to spend a Monday night? (Yes, I could have a parent do it for me, but I need a lot of them for this week - nothing like planning ahead!)  At least my cat was pleased with the piles!  For some unknown reason, she LOVES eating the plastic laminate scraps! (Did I mention that this is the same cat that will eat the bag the cat food comes in, but not the food inside?!) Anyways... have you ever noticed that no matter how hard you try to clean the floor afterwards, there are ALWAYS clear undetectable scraps lying around that you find for the next several days, or until you vacuum, even though you swore you picked them all up?

Here is is everything AFTER I finished cutting it out!  I can' believe how much less space it takes up!  That is a small bag, with 8.5X11 paper standing up in the back!  If only it was that easy to lug it all home to cut out!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tech In-Service

Today myself and a couple other staff members had the opportunity to go to a neighboring school to see a presentation about technology and using it in the classroom. I really didn't know if I would be the best person to go, seeing that I (only!) teach kindergarten and our school is 4K-8th grade, but since I am coming to realize that I am a tech geek in the making, I thought it'd be worth my while.  After all, 5 years olds are coming to school more computer savvy than I was in high school!  Well, the presenter, Kevin Honeycutt - was GREAT!  It's amazing to see how much teaching and learning is changing in this digital age!  Technology can do so much for us now a-days that it's kind of scary!  Will children even need to learn how to read in the future, or will computers and such read everything out loud?  Will people need to know how to write, or will we all just type - or dictate?  Will schools of the future even look like the schools of today?  Or will students be learning and collaborating via their digital devices from their living rooms and creating virtual projects in a virtual world, with "classmates" half way around the world!  The next 20 years will probably see more changes in how society interacts, functions, and handles everyday routines then the last 100!  As long as the premise of Idiocracy (one of my favorite satirical movies) doesn't come true, and we have people continually learning, creating, developing and sharing, I think (or at least hope!) I can handle it!  Anyways, I seem to have gotten off track here a bit...  I wanted to share with you some of the amazing resources that I found today!  There's so many you just need to go and check them out for yourself!  Click on the link and it will take you to Kevin Honeycutt's site.  Then, click on the picture of the toolbox and you will find a TON of links to various educational sites, resources, etc.  It's awesome!  Oh - and after watching the presentation, I REALLY want an i-pad for the classroom!  Sooooo many great educational apps!  Happy exploring! 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Promethean calendar

Mid way through the school year last year, I was lucky enough to get a Promethean Board (like a smart board) for my classroom.  I was (and still am) sooo excited to get one and all the cool things you can do on it!  Little did I realize how much work goes into creating quality, interactive flip-charts!  Soo.... I did what I could last year (which was really the basics - plus I had a lot of technical problems that needed fixing) with the plan to create a lot more over the summer.  Well, we go back to school in about a week and a half and I have created one, yes only one, new flip-chart- my September calendar.  (check it out below!) While I am really excited about it, I feel like I should have created at least 10 others along with it!  Maybe I will make that (and about 50 other things) my goal for the year.  Since my calendar routine builds and new things are added each month, this is one that I will definitely have to stay on top of!  I still can't believe it is almost time to go back!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Hi!  My name is Jenny Dziewior and I have been teaching full day kindergarten for the last 10 years.  I absolutely love that we (I) get to sing my favorite songs and read my favorite books over and over!  The kids don't even realize they are learning, and their brains are just like little sponges - ready to soak up anything and everything- and their eyes are always filled with wonder and amazement (that is of course when they aren't filled with tears and missing their moms, or upset that they someone said they "can't go to their birthday party" that's 7 months away!) I have so much fun on a daily basis and the kids just say the cutest things!  Plus, they are incredibly honest, not matter what the cost!

Anyways, I have become quite addicted to all the fabulous and inspiring teacher blogs out there (you know who you all are - yes, YOU!) that I have decided to (try!) and create my own blog in hopes of giving back to others for all the great ideas I have received, and share the joy and inspiration that the kindergarteners bring me.  So... welcome, thanks for stopping by, and I hope to see you often!