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!  


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Who Doesn’t Like a Sale?!!!

Now that the Christmas rush is over, sit back, relax, and enjoy your break!  It’s also a great time to take advantage of all the after-Christmas sales at the stores and KinderLit is joining in the fun.

All our products will be 20% off from Monday, Dec. 26 - Wednesday, Dec. 28.  No code necessary!  Shop around at our store in your PJs and slippers - no need to go out in the cold!  

Stock up on KinderLit items for second semester or check off items from your wish list.  Fill up your shopping bag and save!
Updated Product
If you have purchased our Leo Lionni KinderLit Book - His Stories and Messages, in the past, you can go to your Purchases page and upload the newest version which includes a page now for Tillie and the Wall.  

We love to do graphic organizers with our students while doing author or literature studies.  Here’s what we do for Leo Lionni.

We use a graphic organizer to help children gain a better understanding of each Leo Lionni book.  On large chart paper create the outline with enough rows for the number of books you will be studying.
Fill in the spaces for each book as you read the selection to the class.  We draw appropriate pictures for each space or copy some of the illustrations from the books.  We laminate the copies so we can use them year after year.  

For example, after reading Swimmy your chart may say:
Setting:  the sea
Characters:  Swimmy and a school of fish
Problem:  Swimmy may be eaten by the big fish.
Message:  Work together!
Have your children decide what needs to be in each space. There are no right or wrong answers and your children may surprise you with their interpretations!
January Link Up!
If you are a seller on TpT, link up three of your favorite January products below, paid or free!  January is more than New Year’s, Martin Luther King, Jr Day, and winter.  Did you know that Jan. 8 is Bubble Bath Day, the 15th is National Hat Day, and the 19th is National Popcorn Day!  Link up today!

We wish you a very Happy New Year!  
See you in 2017! 

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Gift Time In Kindergarten

Easy-to-Make Snowmen
Linda:  I recently came across a site called The Frugal Navy Wife and discovered her page of Christmas crafts.  Even though I’m not in the classroom anymore, I’m always looking for projects to do with my grandchildren ages 6 &4.  So we decided to make these adorable tongue depressor snowmen for gifts to their parents.  Click on the photo to go to her page of Christmas crafts: 

I spray-painted the tongue depressors and precut the felt scarves and hats but my grandkids did the rest.  We didn’t have enough buttons but I did have plenty of sequins for our snowmen.  At first we used goggly eyes but my granddaughter wanted to draw the eyes so she could put eyelashes on hers!  Here are two of our finished products which may look like a Pinterest Failure but not so!  We had so much fun working together and they are so proud of their snowmen!  

If I were still in the classroom, I would definitely make these for parent gifts!
Lisa:  It’s been many, many years since we have had a door decorating contest at my school but this year our principal agreed to holding one!  
Each student created a snowman using a photo of themselves for the face.  I had precut white squares for them to create the snowball bodies by trimming off the corners.  They used our scrap box for all the details and put an orange “carrot” nose on their faces!  No two snowmen look the same - each has his or her own personality!  That’s another reason why we don’t give out tracers when making the collage illustrations for our KinderLit books - unique characters!  

Here are the photos.  On the two closeup pictures, you can see the thumbprint snowflakes!   

Will we win?  What do you think?  

ESGI is in the year-round business of giving teachers time through the use of their one-on-one assessment software. However, during this season of giving, they'd like to give more! ESGI will donate $25 to the charity of our choice for each new user who purchases by January 15, 2017 OR starts a trial by January 15, 2017 and purchases within 60 days using our code.  Click on this icon to begin:

Pre-Kindergarten - 1st Grade Classroom Tools
We’re thankful that ESGI invited us to give you this opportunity. Our charity is the St. Vincent de Paul Conference at St. George Catholic Church in Newnan, GA.  This ministry helps those in need in our community by paying utility bills, rent, or even food.  All funds donated to our ministry are used to help those in need so that they will have a roof over their heads, food to eat, and heat to keep them warm.  
Please consider checking out ESGI by clicking above to help yourself with assessments while helping those who are not as fortunate.  
If you'd like for ESGI to donate $25 to St. Vincent de Paul, click HERE to purchase your first-year license with our promo code. You'll also save $40 off the subscription price by using our code.
ESGI and KinderLit wish you the happiest of holiday seasons! Thank you.