Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Techy" Authors

Our new farm book is published!  My kiddos did a great job researching their farm animals thanks to Bullfrog Books (read more about them here)!  I'm so proud of all their hard work.  They did their research, filled in a graphic organizer, typed their sentences and even found and edited their own photos.  Wow!  Proud to be their kindergarten teacher!

You can download our Farm Animals book from iTunes on iBooks.

Our insect book, which you can read more about here, is also available in the iTunes store.  Both books are free!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Kindergarten Appropriate Nonfiction

As we enter the fourth nine weeks of kindergarten, I feel like my students are in a great place in reading.  I'm so proud of their progress and can't wait to see all they accomplish in this last nine week grading period.

Now that my kiddos are reading, I've been looking for ways to make them more independent in many different areas.  One area I'd like them to be more independent is in their "research" skill as we do projects.  It is very difficult for me to find time to work with each partnership/group to read their books with them.  I've been on a search for great nonfiction books that are appropriate for my early readers.

I checked some farm books out at our local library a couple weeks ago, and I am IN LOVE!  The books are from Jump and are called Bullfrog Books.  They come in Guided Reading Levels C-F.

Here are a couple screenshots from the website:

My kiddos are so proud that they are able to read them generally independently.  These books make my teacher heart smile because they have awesome photographs, and I even learned some new information from these books!  They have good nonfiction text features, but are still appropriate for early readers.

The only downside (for my budget anyway) is that they only come in hardback.  If I could afford them, I'd own all 10 sets! Each set includes 4-12 books depending on the set.  Sets include: Community Helpers, My First Animal Library, Insect World, Colors in Nature, What Happens in Fall?, Watching the Seasons,  Nature Walk, Machines at Work, Life Under the Sea and Animals on the Farm.

I've asked our local library to purchase more of the sets in this series to help cover other topics we focus on in kindergarten.  Check out the books using the links above and let me know what you think.

Where do you find nonfiction for your young readers?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Gone Buggy for Writing

We studied spring (in the midst of cold and snow) with a focus on signs of spring and insects.  I worked with half of the class to create a book about insects using the app Book Creator.  You can download the free version to make 1 book, but if you want to make additional books, you have to purchase the paid version at $4.99.

Students were paired with a partner to choose an insect.  After choosing an insect, students completed a graphic organizer about their insect.  Students used some nonfiction books I found at the library and in my personal collection.

I then worked with each partnership to type their information into the book.  Students used the graphic organizer to guide their writing.  To illustrate the book, students used the iPad to take pictures of items in their books showing their learning.  We also found images on Google Images as necessary. Students used the screenshot feature to capture these images.  My only assistance in this process was suggesting what to search (when needed) and helping to crop the images.

You can download our book here from the iTunes store.  It is a free download.  They were able to take turns and support one another in typing their information into the book.  It was a great experience to watch and be a part of!  Stay tuned for the other half of the class and their book about farm animals.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


As I'm sure you could guess from the title, we have been studying farms.  Last week focused on plants; this week focuses on animals.  We planted beans, and fingers are crossed that we get some good results.  This girl doesn't have much luck in growing department when it comes to growing with the kiddos.  My personal garden hasn't necessarily been a disaster, but planting at school isn't the most successful thing I've ever tackled with my kiddos.  Part of it is that I don't have much natural light in my room so I put our seeds in our literacy coach's room where there is good light.  I {might} forget to water them every now and then (or for a week at a time) which could lead to their demise.  I also failed to take pictures of the planting adventure.

One of my favorite dramatic play props is my wooden barn that I got 90% off at the party store 7 or 8 years ago.  I love watching my kiddos play with it!

 All those plates off to the side (making a mess on the table) are the paper plate cows my kiddos are making.  My student teacher found them, I'm guessing on Pinterest, but I don't have the original link.  Below is a kiddo working on her cow.

Not necessarily related to the farm, but I love watching my kiddos grow as readers.  Everyone in my room is reading something at this point.  Many of my kiddos have taken off and surprise me daily.  I took the picture below when they were reading in centers one day.  It warms my teacher heart to see their excitement in learning to read!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

First Year Teacher {Wednesday WOW}

Long time, no blog.  I'm in the middle of some crazy testing, and I'm not teaching right now (I have a student teacher).  This combination has made for a lack of blogging.  I'm planning to be back this weekend with some new stuff!  Today I'm linking up with Curious Firsties to share a little WOW from my life.

I currently have student teacher in my room.  She is my "Wow".  She plans great lessons for my kiddos, she keeps them engaged and enjoys them as much as I do.  I'm very sad to see her go in about a month.  I'm hoping to share some of her ideas with you on here soon.  She also shares my love for TpT, Pinterest and finding a good deal.  We get along really well!

Today she asked me for my "must have" list of supplies/materials/"stuff" for a first year teacher.  Please leave a comment letting me know what a first year teacher can't live without.  It could be a supply, a classroom must have, a book that you love to share with your students, or any other first year teacher needs.  Thanks in advance for your help!  See you back here soon!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Writing About a Picture

I purchased Tara West's (Little Minds at Work) Early Finisher pack back in December.  I've used a few things here and there, but I today I was going through it again and saw these little story starter pictures.  I decided to throw one out this morning and see how it went.

I was pretty impressed for their first time.  I put this out for morning work.  Typically morning work is what students work on after they eat their breakfast (they eat breakfast in the classroom).  It is usually a worksheet to review a skill we've been working on.  I have been looking for more ways to get my kids writing throughout the day and this seemed like something my kiddos could try.

This week we've been learning about spring and the signs that spring is coming.

The bird laid eggs.  Then they hatched.  

A bird lays eggs.  Birds can fly.  The chick is in the egg.

I see a bird.  She was laying egg in her nest.  And they watch it. (She would also like everyone to know that she made the bird a robin and that she named it after my student teacher :) ). 
A couple kiddos went onto the back of the paper; one even started with "once upon a time..." and made up a story about the bird.  The pictures you see are some of my better writers.  As you can see, conventions are not necessarily their forte, but we are working on it.  Pretty proud of their work today!

How do you keep writing interesting in your room?  I'd love to hear some new ways to incorporate writing and keep it interesting in my room!

Monday, March 3, 2014

3-D Shape Community Project

I have a student teacher this spring (who is awesome) and one of the requirements she has is to teach a week-long unit.  We use Everyday Math, so our curriculum spirals, meaning that we never spend a full week on the same topic.  Our Language Arts curriculum is scripted, so not much wiggle room for creativity in her planning there.  We decided to choose a skill that we had not yet introduced in math and run with it.  I can always catch up with Everyday Math later.

Our Language Arts unit for the week was community and she decided to focus on 3-D shapes as her unit.  After teaching 3 lesson on 3-D shapes and having 8 days down in our community unit (our units are 10 days long), we began to build our 3-D shape community.  Students collected items such as boxes (rectangular prisms) and milk & juice cartons (cubes with pyramids on top) to make our community.  My student teacher covered the boxes for them using bulletin board paper. Students then made a list of places in our community and "went to town' (no pun intended) on the community.

They did a great job and 85% of them were able to name all the shapes we focused on in our community!  Families, staff and other classes were invited to see our community and learn from our learning.

They came up with the "standing" grass on their own.  I think this one needs to make a lawn mower!