Sunday, March 19, 2017

Writing Can Teach Reading, Part 3

More on Writing in Kindergarten
Class Name Photos
Here’s a fun chart for your students!  Our students love to write each other’s names but since the names aren’t always phonetically spelled, they have to copy the names.  During our writing time, we found that the students were interrupting each other for the correct spelling or were walking all around to find a copy of the name they needed.  

To cut down on all this commotion, created a class name photo sheet.  Here’s a sample with clip art children: 

Each year our students have their photos taken on Picture Day and we receive a small strip of 4 head shots for each child.  We make photocopies of the strips and file them away for different projects.  These are the photos we glue onto the class name photo template.  We hand-write their names under the photos, copy them onto card stock if available, and laminate one for each student to keep in their writing folders.  If card stock isn’t available, we glue the templates onto construction paper and then laminate.  
Click on this blank sample and get yours free! 
Notice there are spaces for 20 students so you may need to make the sheets two-sided and use the construction paper to make the laminated copies.  


Linda and Lisa

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Writing Can Teach Reading, Part 2

Word Writing
In our previous blog, we told you how we introduce writing with whole group activities.  Our next step is to introduce writing words with our students.  Most of our students have not had pre-k and come into our program very inexperienced.  Since their names are the most important words in their lives, we begin with teaching them how to print them. 
One of our work stations or a job on our Morning Job Board is to trace their name cards.  We purchase bakery paper and the children take their laminated name cards, one sheet of the paper, and a Vis-รก-Vis pen for tracing their name 4 times on one sheet. 

These can be purchased at Sam’s Club or Costco.
To help the children form the letters correctly, we print their name cards using purple and green markers for each letter.  The purple portion is written first and then the green portion finishes each letter. The starting spot is marked with a black dot.  
We send homework for name writing during the year too.  The top of the page in the beginning of the year says: 

Name Writing Homework
  1. Please have your child trace the letters on the first line and then write the name again on the next lines.  
  2. Help your child name the letters of his/her name.  This is an important first step in learning the alphabet. 
We change the name papers to lined paper as the year progresses. 

Write The Room
Our classrooms are full of print!  One of the students’ favorite activities is to use a clipboard and move around the room, copying the words off the Word Wall, bulletin boards, and charts.  This is a literacy station activity so only 5 - 6 children are walking around the room at any given time. 

Create A Sentence - FREEBIE!
Here’s another idea for a literacy station prior to journal writing.  The children take one sentence paper, draw a picture to complete the top sentence, and then copy the sentence on the lines below.  The picture they draw to complete the second is different than the first to create a new sentence.  Then they “read” their sentences to a friend or a teacher.  

Illinois ASCD PreK-K Conference
Schaumburg, Il, extended its hospitality to another great PreK-K Teacher Conference sponsored by Illinois ASCD last week.  We flew in on Wednesday and set up our booth to begin exhibiting on Thursday and Friday.  It’s always so much fun to meet other sellers and teachers!  Here are a few other booths: 

Katie&Co.  Fantastic flannelboard sets that are heavy-duty with songs or chants for letter identification, counting, social studies, science, and much more!  Click here to check out their website.  

Our “next-door neighbors” at Schaumburg
The Kindergarten Smorgasboard: We spent time visiting at The Kindergarten Smorgasboard booth.  Click on the photo to visit their blog. Did you know that Mr. Greg travels to other cities to do workshops?  He’s coming to Chattanooga June 10 for a one-day conference and make-and-take session.  Click here for more info!
Hope to see you in Tennessee!

ESGI:  It’s always good to visit with our friends from ESGI!  Every time we meet up, we learn something more that their assessment program can do.  What a great time-saver!  If you haven’t checked them out yet, click on the photo and be prepared to save time with your one-on-one assessments.  You can use their preloaded assessment (over 200!) or create your own.  Now the program will create groups based on the assessment results for you!  Get a free 60-day trial when you click on this photo: 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Writing Can Teach Reading!

Linda: Many, many years (maybe centuries!) ago I began my teaching career in Westboro, MA, as part of a kindergarten team.  There was a teacher on the first grade team who was using student writing to reinforce her reading program.  OMG, everyone thought she was crazy! Comments included:  How could children write if they can’t read???  They won't know how to spell the words if they couldn’t read.  Writing would just be a waste of time - concentrate on reading and eventually they will write.  

Lisa:  So glad that attitude has changed!  Now, about 40 years later we begin writing in kindergarten during the first week of school.  There are many ways we incorporate writing into our program and we’ll be discussing what we do in the next few blog posts so be sure to follow us for notifications of future posts! And be sure to follow our store, KinderLit, on Teachers Pay Teachers!
How We Start 
We begin by giving meaning to the writing process with class stories.  Before the children arrive, we have a story of just one or two sentences on large paper clipped to our writing easel.  Newsprint paper comes in 24” by 36” sheets - perfect for these stories!  Several letters are missing with the lines for placeholders.  
The children help us determine what letters are needed for the word to make sense and we let a child use a marker to write a missing letter.

Here are two tips to keep all the students involved and keep their attention on the writing: 
  1. The child who writes the letter gets to push our Easy Button that we purchased at Staples.  The voice says, “That was easy!”  and the students love hearing him!
  2. When there is a word with a double letter, the children can shout “Jackpot!”  We then circle the double letters and they need to name the letters before the circle is completed.  The children love watching for those words! 
The stories progress from just one missing letter to missing sight words, ending letters, and blends.  We talk about how many stories, sentences, and words are on each paper.  All the basic concepts of print are reinforced with these stories including punctuation.  
Here's a sample from a few weeks' later: 

Here is a great resource for teaching about writing in kindergarten.  In the back of the book there are specific directions for building your own easel which is large enough for the 24” by 36” paper.  
Click on the cover to read more about this book!
Linky Party!
If you are a seller on TpT, link any of your writing products below!  Be sure to click on the other links to see what’s available for you!  If you are a buyer, check out these great products! 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Volunteering in Kindergarten!

Fun in Kindergarten

Linda:  I’m so lucky!  Not only did I get to spend 35 years as a teacher in kindergarten but now I get to spend time volunteering in my granddaughter’s kindergarten classroom!  I started out the year just assessing the children one-on-one for letter recognition but now I monitor a literacy station during their Center time.  

Check out these photos from Lindsay’s school!
Lindsay’s teacher was able to sign up for ESGI so here’s Lindsay being assessed on beginning sounds on an iPad.  Love ESGI!  Have you tried it yet?  Save 400 hours during the school year with Click! Click! Done! 

Last week the school sponsored a Book Fair.  This pocket chart was outside the fair and each teacher filled out a request for books for the classroom. 

One of the stations I supervised was shaving cream spelling!  The weekly phonics sound was /sh/ so what could be better than writing the words in shaving cream!

When I taught in Phoenix, we have fire drills every month.  But here in Georgia the schools have “bad weather” drills!

Love this sign! 

My time at Lindsay’s school makes me realize how much I miss the children and all the classroom activities.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Color Mixing STEM Activity and Freebie!

Color Mixing STEM Activity and Freebie! 
By this time of the year our students can name all their colors.  So now we are working on reading color words.  One of our stations is this fun activity for mixing colors to create new colors!  

Steve Spangler Science has these packets of color tablets which easily mix in water and the mixing trays.  Click on the photos to go to his store.  We use the 16-oz. water bottles to create red, blue, and yellow water and have the children try to create as many different colors as they can. 

Some children will figure out that if they count the number of drops they add to their trays, they can create many more colors!  Others just like to freely experiment! 

Notice that the students work on old cookie trays (check out yard sales for cheap ones!) and that the full bottles of colored water are kept in a large tub in the center of the table.  Only the teacher can pour from them!  
Once the children are finished, they pour their work into our classroom sink.  For classrooms with no sinks, provide a large container for the children to pour their water into.

This station is the most popular one of the entire school year!  The children use this worksheet at their next station to write about their “experiments” with color.  We put out a stack of these worksheets since many children will complete 3 or 4 at the station! 

Spreading a Little Love Around! 
We are joining in the Teachers Pay Teachers sale this Tuesday and Wednesday, Feb. 7 & 8.  At checkout use the code LOVETpT and receive 28% off everything in our store!  

Be sure to check out our newest products and all the products on your Wish List!  
Another Update!

Have you purchased our KinderLit book, Off I Go, Wheels and All in the past?  If so, be sure to go back to your Purchases page and upload the latest version.  We have added a no-prep journal with three different versions for beginner writers and more experienced writers.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Backup Your Computer!

Linda:  We have been “missing in action” since December when my computer decided to slow down to almost a stand-still.  And then I couldn’t get on the internet because Safari just showed error messages about my computer could crash at any moment - just spam.  After an extended stay at the local authorized Apple store, my computer is fixed and I’m back!  

So I was thinking that perhaps some of you out there aren’t backing up your computers.  I learned the hard way many years ago that backing up can save you hours of frustration and stress.  Here’s what can happen if your computer crashes or is stolen (both of which have happened to me). Even if your computer is brand new and you’re figuring it will never crash, it can be stolen or destroyed in a natural disaster.

If you are a TpT seller, you can lose all your working files.  You can recover your product file/pdf from your store but none of the working files.  If you are a buyer, you can recover your purchases from your account but I purchased items years ago before they had a My Purchases page and would not be able to retrieve those if my computer weren’t backed up.

Personal files can disappear in a flash - all your photos, your contacts, your budgets, your passwords.  I have a doc
that is password-protected that lists all my passwords.  I’d be lost without that!  
Backup Suggestions 
You can use an online service for backing up your files. I researched some this morning and found these: 
The cost for unlimited cloud storage is $60 a year with free support and the ability to access your files remotely.  You can pay $100 a year for an external hard drive backup and a mirror image backup but that’s for Windows only.  Try it for free for 15 days. 

This, too, is a paid service for plans starting at $110 per year for 10GB of space.  The price increases as you need more room.  I had Mozy about 7 years ago but had difficulty restoring files on a new computer after my old one had crashed. But now they offer tech support so this might work for you but I couldn’t find a free trial offer. 

With this plan, you can back up to their cloud for $60 a year, back up to a local drive (maybe an external one?) or even another computer.  It’s free to back up to other computers or external drives but you pay for backing up to their cloud.

According to their website, you pay only for the space you use and there are no set up fees or contracts.  You’ll be charged $4 a month for 10GB with an increase after that. 

This, too, is a cloud storage service which is my pick!  I had the free version which lasted over a year until I ran out of space.  I now pay $10 a month for 1 TB - that’s 1,000 GB!  I’ll never run out!  I used to save only the final pdf of my products but now can add all my working files to it also.  I have the Dropbox app on my phone so I can access everything wherever I go.  I can sign into my account from any computer and access my files, something you probably can do with the others listed above.  

External Hard Drives  
As much as I love DropBox, I’m a little compulsive about backing up so I also have an external hard drive!   About once a week I plug it in and it backs up my entire computer.  I work on a Mac and use Time Machine with my external hard drive.  Here's a tip:  Do NOT store your external hard drive close to your computer.  If your house is broken into and your computer is stolen, your external hard drive will be stolen too!  

Thumb Drives
These little devices are very convenient for traveling butthey are limited in the amount of files you can put on one.  There are new ones now that hold 128GB but due to their size, they are easy to lose.  Now, how do I know that????

I recently used a CD to back up just my KinderLit files and ended up using 8!!!  They don’t hold much and now the latest computers are coming out with NO CD hard drives.  So, I don’t see this as a viable backup choice.  

Here’s a good article to get you started in thinking of backing up, if you don’t already:  How To Back Up Your Computer

I’m sure there are many other wonderful ways to back up your system and your files.  Please leave a comment below with additional methods so we can all benefit! 

Zoo Animals Update!
Lisa:  We recently updated our product, Zoo Animals - a Riddle Book.  It now includes a writing journal as well as our KinderLit collage book, Guess Who?  If you have purchased this product in the past, go to My Purchases in your account and upload the newest version for free.  A great resource for a field trip to the zoo!  
February Already?
January is almost gone - time for February.  Below is a linky party for your groundhog and Valentine products!  Add up to 3 paid and/or freebies!