Sunday, September 7, 2014

Brain Games & Giveaways!

I’m so excited to be teaming up with my favorite freebie- friends for a BIG giveaway to help get you going this school year! Over at the Freebielicious blog, we’re giving away a BIG, GRAND PRIZE (scroll down to the bottom of this post to read all about it!) and right here on my little blog, I’m giving away $25.00 to my favorite store to go school shopping: Lakeshore!

I LOVE LAKESHORE!  I do.  I really, really do!  When I first started teaching and before I had kids I would get Lakeshore games under the Christmas tree and often go pick up one game here and there with my own money.  Lakeshore is truly a wonderland for early childhood teachers!

I was lucky enough to get to go with a friend a few weeks back to do some back to school shopping.  She knew I so many of the items already in my class so she wanted to make sure she got the most bang for her buck!  (And who I am to turn down that shopping rush with someone else's money right?!)   Here's a peek inside her cart and I personally recommend all of them for your kindergarten classrooms!

But I have to be honest.... my favorite new part of Lakeshore is one that we teachers don't typically shop in!  It's the brain game section!
We as teachers we tend to stick to the "reading, writing, and math" sections but I really want to encourage you all to start considering these games for your students!  These brain games are so important for struggling readers!

The other day when working with my 2 year old's OT who visits our house twice a month, she said to me "how can we expect kids to search and find in text if we have never expected them to search and find in play."  I was like... YES!!!  Every kid is different and so we must acknowledge as teachers that every child has a different level of necessity when doing tasks like this.  My girlfriends kids don't need puzzle pieces put in rice to have them be high interest for her kids... but mine sure does!

Stay with me...  LOL.. sometimes tangents come that are related.

So for kids like my son Braedon who are struggling to read in school... we have to accept that kids also have different levels of using their their brains and strategizing.  A child who can't follow directions, a child who can't understand the things you are teaching them, or a child who is just not picking up things that others in your class are getting with regular explicit instruction may need help in strengthening brain strategies!  

I am not making this up.. it's what we were told at the developmental pediatrician and I can tell you it's working!  The way it was explained... is your brain is like a muscle... and so some people need to exercise (or even prime) that muscle before they are ready to use it.  We left the developmental pediatrician office ... headed to Lakeshore ... and loaded up on these games to use with Braedon!  And actually I noticed some of these very games in the speech and resource room being used with him during his special ed services so I was excited to be helping at home.  Got me thinking... why don't we use these games with our struggling readers in our own classrooms??  Why aren't we helping them to get those little brain connections firing differently so they are able to learn?   We just keep shoving concepts down their throats... but are they really ready for them?  Fact is... some need this and although it's not "reading, writing, and math" it sure is going to get their little brains ready to receive my core instruction so it is academic and it is important!    

So I know cannot walk into a Lakeshore without walking out with another one of these great strategy games.  Yesterday we went for the Craft Saturday class and walked out with this little gem... creating a laser beam path to win!  

So I am giving away $25 to Lakeshore so you can stock up on whatever you are passionate about for your students... because they literally have everything you could ever need there!

Please enter using the Rafflecopter below. I’ll choose a winner a week from today.
But, wait! That’s not ALL!
The Freebielicious ladies know how much of your own hard- earned money goes into buying supplies, tissues, books, and classroom d├ęcor to get your classroom “kid-ready,” and we want to be able to put some of that money right back in your pocket. Over at the Freebielicious blog, we are giving away a $300 Visa gift card! YES...YOU READ THAT RIGHT! $300!!!

To enter the BIG GIVEAWAY, click HERE or on the button below!

Also, while you are there, be sure to check out what the other Freebie-ladies are giving away. Be prepared for some AMAZING prizes. Take a peek at some of them below!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Back To School Read Alouds

Stopping by with a peek inside my back to school read aloud list!  

Who does not love Pete The Cat?  It's just like the song... students will love and easy to add movements!

Monsters who go to school for the first time!  Super funny and a great book about making good choices at school!

A fun book to read to talk about what they did to get ready for school and talking about all the things students will learn in kindergarten!  Reinforces days of the week too!

LOVE these books!  Just like the traditional book but all about starting school!  Great for rhyming!

Another classic!  We just love reading these stories in kindergarten because it's almost exactly how minders think themselves!

Another great book to talk about what we do in kindergarten.  Also to talk about the feelings people had (or are still having) about coming to school!)

I like this book because it explores some of the thematic topics and holidays we will learn about in school!  

All kids love Ninjas!!!  It's the start of school through the point of view of the ninja boy!  Super cute and funny to think about back to school from a ninja's perspective!

This determined little pig is so determined to go to school!  But pigs don't go to school.. or do they?  Kids will learn about compassion and accepting others who are different in this book!  

A super fun poem book celebrating things that happen in school!  This one you will keep out and read a little bit all year!
More Pete the Cat (and my model who is my son).  This is his favorite book in my B2S library!  It's repetitive and singsongy so it's easy for him to remember!  
This one is my favorite!  Simple one word pages that the kids will read again and again!
Another classic about getting ready for kindergarten (even the teacher!)

OK - I admit... I am not a fan of some of the traditional back to school books.  I won't name names, but I like my books (especially this time of year) to be repetitious, bright, colorful, and not extremely long!  

What books do you love for Back To School?  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Calendar Movements

Movement makes everything more meaningful for kids so I am constantly looking for places to add movement!  One way I have adapted my calendar is by adding movements to the days of the week.  

I used the left over blank calendar pieces from the MANY calendar sets I have and created my own little movements for them.  Check them out below!

So pull out some of those blank pieces, create a little signal to match that picture, and label them with the days of the week.  Kids will appreciate the visual and the movement!

If you like this tip, please follow Simply Kinder along for more!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

TpT Back to School Sale... How I Shop!

It's Back to School time on TeachesPayTeachers

I wanted to share with everyone how I shop on TeachersPayTeachers - because IMO - it can be hard to find exactly what you are looking for sometimes!  

First... I check my wish list!  Whenever I see stuff I like I always wish list it because I will remember something but not quite be able to put my finger on what the name was or who made it!  Love this feature of TpT!

The next way I shop is by my favorite sellers!  I will visit their stores and see what they have recently posted.  As sellers create more and more, their style changes and so I like to see what exactly have they been recently working on because most likely those will be items that we need right now.  

Next I will do some keyword searches for things I want.  Did you know when you are searching for items on TpT you can have it set to be thumbnails instead of the small images and descriptions?  I love this because I am a very visual person and I can sift through more faster to see exactly what I want!  
And one last way I shop has some payoff for you as well... I will go back and check what stores I made recent purchases from and see what those people have recently made.  (And I of course leave feedback because I am horrible at leaving feedback as I go.)

The big Back to School Blastoff Sale is August 4th and 5th which is tomorrow!  So tonight I will be loading up my shopping cart so tomorrow I can just check out quickly (and then probably go shop for more!)  

All of Simply Kinder is on sale for 28% off!  Take a peek and then head on over to load up!  Do you have a shopping tip you would like to share?  Please comment below!  

Happy Back to School everyone!  

Saturday, August 2, 2014

First Day Chalboard Bulletin Board Set - How It Works

I get lots of questions about how my Back To School Bulletin Boards work so I thought I would do a quick post about them to explain!

The above it a Jennifer from First Grade Blue Skies welcome board using this set.  It's interactive in that the students stand in front of the bubble in the middle!

I try to make things easy for you... so it's literally just print at home (or at school and use their ink.)  

I trimmed the black as much as I could on most pages so you don't waste ink.

I did not laminate but you surely can so it lasts year after year!

Next you cut them out.  Most of the items I trimmed the black so it saves on ink for you.  

 And then you have your significant other staple on.  =)  Add border and voila (is that how you spell that really!)  

I have seen them on Instagram as long, wide, square, rectangle boards.  I have also seen them dressed up with colored bunting and the look AMAZING!!!!  Possibilities are really endless!

So you can pick up my First Day Chalkboard Bulletin Board set on TpT!

I have them for most grade levels and not just kinder.  Click here to see!  

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Letter Formation Poems Giveaway!

I am SO excited about this post! There is 2 things I love about being a teacher blogger and that's making things to share with the world and making your lives easier and that's what this post is ultimately going to do for one lucky winner!

So let's start by sharing my Reading Wall.  
It includes all the elements of the lesson we are working on.  

We start with the alphabet.  The green slips of paper you see are claps!  They are strategically placed to break up the alphabet in areas where kids commonly blend multiple letters into one.  

So L-M-N-Clap!  

I separate my green words (decodable words) and red words (sight words) with color coding all the time.  Green means go ahead and sound out and red means stop and think!  You will hear me say this all the time and I even color code my decodable books until about 3/4 of the way throughout the year just as extra support for the kids!  

The area to the right of the this I change out with the lessons I am doing.  We do anchor charts on large construction paper often because it just fits there.  Anchor charts too can take over your room if you do one for everything.  Sorry I don't have a better picture... the poster there is one I do for the beginning of the year just as a reminder what good listeners do but they get a lot more academic throughout the year!  
And then below that is my Letter Writing Poems.  I looked long and hard to find a system that taught kids how to make the letters correctly that was fun, engaging, and affordable.  Long story short - I created my own!  

 These poems help your students learn to form the letters correctly with a fun little poem.  "Around the apple and down the worm - be very careful he may squirm."

I also made some practice pages so your students get practice with the images as a cue.  

And this is where the fun giveaway is!  Since I love sharing and making your lives easier... I thought it would be fun to give away a set of laminated poems & a classroom set of copies ready for you to use!  How cool is that!

That's right... those could be yours... mailed directly to you ready to use!  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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