Monday, August 15, 2016

Name Activities Using Chrysanthemum


Hi, friends!  It's hard to believe that school is just around the corner!  With the beginning of the school year comes practicing our name in many forms and using it to complete a number of name activities.  Since our name is likely the first word we learn how to read and write, it is not surprising that research supports reinforcing letter and sound recognition through the context of our own name.  Let's think about that for a minute...  Kids learn best when they are able to relate and connect to the activity, experience, or material at hand.  Therefore, it seems only natural to begin learning about letters and sounds using a variety of name activities.


This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  Any purchases made through one of our links earns us a small commission, at no extra cost to you, which helps to support the blog so we can continue sharing content like this with you.  All views and opinions expressed are purely our own.

Each year, I like to kick off our name unit with the story Chrysanthemum.  The purpose of reading this story is twofold.  One, I like to draw on the length of Chrysanthemum's name; and two, I like to use the events in the story to help convey the importance of using kind words, as well as to discuss the significance of being "absolutely perfect" in our own unique way.  As you may know, Chrysanthemum is a delightful young lady who is very eager to go to school for the first time...only to find herself feeling "absolutely dreadful" each time her classmates make fun of her name.


Before reading the story, I show the students a large paper heart.  I tell them that this is Chrysanthemum's heart and she is so happy to go to school.  We build a little prior knowledge by discussing our feelings on the first day of school.  We talk about how some of us were excited, nervous, afraid, etc.  As I read the story, I crumple the heart each time one of Chrysanthemum's classmates says something unkind.  Eventually, the heart looks nothing like a heart at all.  Each time I crumple the heart more, the students shriek out with concern for Chrysanthemum.  They begin to see that these unkind words are hurting Chrysanthemum's feelings... her heart.

As the story continues to unfold and Mrs. Twinkle tells about her own long name, I begin to slowly uncrumple the heart.  By the end of the story, the heart is completely uncrumpled.  However, it is still wrinkled. These wrinkles show the scars that are left behind from all of the unkind words that were spoken to Chrysanthemum.  This simple activity really helps the students realize the lasting effects of the words we speak...  Even though we may forget what people have said to us, we will never forget how they made us feel!


On the second day of our name unit, we reread Chrysanthemum... this time to focus on her incredibly long name.  I write her name so that it takes up the entire board.  The students can hardly believe how long her name really is!  Of course someone always exclaims, "It scarcely fits on her name tag!"


To better compare our names to Chrysanthemum's, we make a name graph using each individual letter in our name.  I create the chart ahead of time so that the columns are spaced two inches apart.  Then, as a class we add Chrysanthemum's name to the top and count the letters in her name.  At this point, I pass out name strips to each student.  They choose their favorite color to trace each letter in their name.  I like to use Crayola Fine Line markers for tracing these.  Next, the students will cut apart their name strips into individual letters.  We glue these letters on to our chart, and discuss the lengths of each.  This graph provides a great visual reference for comparing our names.  Plus, we can easily count how many more or how many less letters than a particular name.


On the third day, we use linking cubes to create a "name train."  These trains are also a great visual representation of the length of our name.  We can easily compare name trains to see whose name is longer or shorter.


I like to start by creating a name train for Chrysanthemum.  The students help me count out the number of cubes.  Then, I write Chrysanthemum's name on the name train using a dry erase marker.  I write my name on a separate name train.   We compare the length of my name to Chrysanthemum's much longer name.

Then, the students get to work making their own name trains and comparing them to a friend's name.  These trains make it easy for the students to count how many more or how many less letters their name might have as compared to Chrysanthemum's or a friend's.


On the fourth day, we begin taking a look at the actual letters in our name.  We start by comparing them to the letters in Chrysanthemum's name.  Are there any letters the same?  If so, which ones?  I start by projecting a copy of the Venn diagram on the board.  Usually, I'll fill in the diagram using the letters from my own name first.  Any letters that are the same go in the middle.  Any letters that are just in my name go in the "My Name" circle.  Any letters that are just in Chrysanthemum's name go in her circle.

On the fifth day, we end our Chrysanthemum activities with this cute, little craftivity!  We discuss what makes us special, or unique... and then we get to work practicing our fine motor skills!


This does not conclude our name activities!  Stay tuned for the sequel post, or check them out below!


Plus, you can find more name activities on my "Name Activities" board on Pinterest.


Don't forget to enter the raffleocpter below for a chance to win any four books... you choose!



Now, hop on over to read about these great books!








Sunday, August 7, 2016

A Guided Reading Area That POPS

As many of you begin prepping your rooms for a new year, a few of my blogging friends decided to join together to share our favorite area of our classroom with you!  Plus, we'll be giving away our favorite must-haves that helped make this spot our favorite!


This post contains affiliate links for your shopping convenience.  Any purchases made through one of our links earns us a small commission, at no extra cost to you, which helps to support the blog so we can continue sharing content like this with you.  All views and opinions expressed are purely our own.

I'm sure it comes as no surprise that my favorite is our guided reading area.  I especially love all of the storage and having my guided reading supplies right at my fingertips.

Let's take a closer look at this area, as I break down all the details!

The Table




This is by far the area of my classroom that receives the most questions... mostly because of the shape and size of my table.  To be honest, it was actually an old hexagon shaped table that I believe was used as a computer station.  Our maintenance crew cut the table in half and added some rubber edging along the inside edge.  It really is the perfect size for my classroom, and it easily fits six seat crates.

The Seat Crates



I made these seat crates about four years ago as a way to add extra storage options in my particularly small space.  Since I already had the black file crates and plywood, my only expense was the seat foam and fabric.  These crates work well as an alternative seating option for my students, and are low enough to slide under the table.  I bet you are probably wondering what I keep inside them... Four of them hold all of my book sets on CD, while the other two house our students' goal and data folders.

The Storage Bins



I also receive a lot of questions about what I store inside all of the bins behind my guided reading table.  The big bins along the top of the shelf hold all of the materials for each day's lessons, as well as extra copies for morning work, emergent readers and center activities.  The big, pink tubs along the bottom hold all of my mentor texts and themed read alouds.  As an aside, I also have a large classroom library for my students.

Now, back to bins on these shelves!

I keep all of my teacher manuals, data binder, and larger guided reading supplies, such as touch lights, Slinkys, Playdoh, etc. in the lime green bins.  Each of the drawers contain alphabet, rhyming and segmenting activities and other guided reading supplies, as well as each group's guided reading books.  Our color coded phoneme segmentation and blending cards also fit easily inside.

Phoneme segmentation & blending made easy with these tips and tricks for small group instruction!  These are the perfect phonemic awareness activities for your guided reading lessons or literacy centers!  Check out this color coded trick for teaching directionality and segmenting with CVC words!

I do believe I will be eliminating two of the lime green tubs this year, and adding additional drawers for our guided math materials.  You can read a more detailed post about what's inside the guided reading drawers here.

The Wall Pops



One of my favorite parts of my guided reading area are the dry erase Wall Pops that I purchased from Amazon.  I just added these last year, and it was so nice not having to pass out student dry erase boards each time we met.  I simply handed the kiddos a marker, and we were all set for practicing letter formation, identifying beginning sounds, segmenting words, and so much more!  The Wall Pops come three to a pack and are peel and stick.  They were very easy to adhere to the table, and didn't leave any sticky residue on the table at the end of the year.  Plus, they added a nice "pop" of color to my small group area!




Here are a few ways I used the Wall Pops to practice and reinforce skills:

1.  Proper Number Formation 



2.  Number Sense



3.  Counting Backwards



4.  Dice Addition



5.  Turn Around Facts



6.  Fact Families



7.  Proper Letter Formation



8.  Properly Writing Names



9.  Identifying Beginning Sounds



10. Segmenting Words



11. Word Families



12. Segmenting Words and Recording Sounds



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If you've been wanting to give these dry erase Wall Pops a try, you're in luck!  I'm giving away a set of six!  The best part is... you get to pick the color!  Plus, you'll also win a pack of 12 black, fine tip dry erase markers!  AND that's not all!!!!  You'll also win all of the goodies featured in each of our posts!  Just enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win!



Don't forget to hop over to see the rest of our favorite areas!





Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Team Gifts for the Beginning of the Year and End of the Year


With summer almost half way over and back-to-school just around the corner, I thought I'd share my back-to-school team gift ideas, as well as end of the year gift ideas!  What better way to show my coworkers just how much I appreciate working with all of them than with a little gift?!

Get ready for back to school with these adorable team gifts!  Simply print the free gift tag, and you’re coworker gifts will be all set!  Here’s to a NOTEWORTHY school year that I’m sure your team will be thrilled to PIECES about!

Last year, I gave my teammates some personalized note cards I found on clearance at Michaels.  I paired them with a cute pen and a personalized apple cookie that was wrapped in a fun bag from the Target Dollar Spot.  I tied them all up with some binder twine, and then added a cute tag saying "Here's to a NOTEWORTHY school year!"  They absolutely loved them, and it was such an easy way to pump them up at the beginning of the year!

Get ready for back to school with these adorable team gifts!  Simply print the free gift tag, and you’re coworker gifts will be all set!  Here’s to a NOTEWORTHY school year that I’m sure your team will be thrilled to PIECES about!

At the end of the year, I wanted to give them each a little something for such an incredible year together... so I grabbed some Reese's Pieces and tied them up with the same binder twine I had from the beginning of the year.  This was a fairly inexpensive coworker gift idea, but a great way to show my appreciation to my teammates!

Get ready for back to school with these adorable team gifts!  Simply print the free gift tag, and you’re coworker gifts will be all set!  Here’s to a NOTEWORTHY school year that I’m sure your team will be thrilled to PIECES about!

If you'd like to give your team or coworkers a similar gift, you can grab the tags HERE!  I made sure to add tags for the beginning and end of the year for both the "NOTEWORTHY school year" and "thrilled to PIECES" tags.

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Get ready for back to school with these adorable team gifts!  Simply print the free gift tag, and you’re coworker gifts will be all set!  Here’s to a NOTEWORTHY school year that I’m sure your team will be thrilled to PIECES about!

Don't forget to check out my "Back to School Tips & Freebies" post!

Save your sanity with these 5 back to school tips! So many great ideas for classroom management and classroom organization! Do these now to help manage your time and make your first day of school stress free!

Plus, you can find more back-to-school ideas on my "Back to School" board on Pinterest.