Monday, July 29, 2013

I'm back...with a {few} pictures...

I never seem to remember to link up with Sunday Smorgasbord (I hope I spelled that right...never can seem to quite get it). So I figured I would just share all sorts of randomness today instead.

As some of you know (from all of the guest bloggers last week) that I was gone. Every summer a team from my church heads to Lynch, Kentucky to do mission work. My hubs and I went the first time in 2011 and have gone each summer since (hubs missed last year due to work but he was determined not to miss this year) and a small group of us went in the fall one year as well.

It's amazing. I give all the glory to God for such an amazing trip each time and allowing us to be blessed while we are there. Yes, we bless others, but mostly we are the ones who leave changed.

Here are some pics of what we did.....I can't tell ya everything b/c this post would never end....but maybe the pics will show enough.

Oh did I mention---I saw 9 bears!! Real, live black bears....and cubs! Amazing!

 Me and the hubs the first night there.

 The crew my hubs was on...they put on a new roof on the old coal miner bath house.
 After church Wednesday night.

 Shekinah Village---this is where we had our Youth Camp for the week and saw all of the bears. Gorgeous isn't it?


Mama bear

 Mama bear and 1 cub. She had 3 more but they were still in the dumpster!

I caught a fish the last day there!

 The other cubs!

There were so many more jobs that were completed: new roof on the bath house (this is where the coal miner's would go once they came out of the mines to take baths before heading home!), chimney's tore down/hole fixed in roof, new flooring/sub flooring in a house. New bathroom and water put in for a home that has a child with a heart/lung condition who is on oxygen. He is a doll....his grandparents brought him over to meet everyone one night!

Food was distributed to those in need during their monthly distribution and our kids from youth camp were able to mingle and just talk to those in need.

All in all...great time! 

I hope you all enjoyed the guest posts that were up during the week. If not, be sure to go back and check them out! All of the ladies had some wonderful ideas. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

HELLO, My Name Is.....

I'm so excited to meet you!  I'll be guest-blogging for Nicki today while she is on her mission trip.  I'm a former first grade teacher turned reading specialist. You may know me from the blog, Read With Me ABC.

If you're anything like me, then you've been thinking a lot about 'Back to School'.  Those first few days of school are so important for setting the climate of the classroom, learning student names, and helping students develop peer relationships.  

Along those lines, I'd like to share with you a few of my favorite "Getting to Know You" activities to use during the first few days of school. 

Read Aloud

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi
Book Introduction
Ask students, "If you could choose any name of yourself, what would it be?"  This is the question Unhei faces in the story.

After Unhei moves from Korea to the United States, her new classmates help her decide what her American name should be. Students place their name suggestions in a jar.  Unhei reveals her 'new' name.

Follow-Up Discussion
Ask students, "Why do you think Unhei finally decides to keep her own Korean name?  If you were Unhei, what would you have kept or changed your name?  Why?"

Extension Books
Here are some other books about names you may want to read, too:  

  • Chysanthemum by Kevin Henkes
  • My Name is Yoon byHelen Recorvits

HELLO! Bingo 

This activity is great for students in kindergarten through third grade. You will need a class list, bingo chips, and bingo cards. 

Directions for Play 
The game is played like regular bingo.  The bingo cards have a student's name (or photo) in each square.  The bingo caller announces name of a student; if the name appears on the bingo card, it is covered with a bingo chip.  

The twist in this version of the game is that when a student hears their own name called out, they must stand and say, "Hello!" Play continues until a child has covered a complete row on the bingo card and shouts, "Hello Bingo!"

Preparing the Cards  
There are many options for preparing the cards.  Choose the one that is developmentally appropriate for your students.

Kindergarten:  Provide students a sheet of photos of their classmates to cut out and paste randomly on a blank bingo card.
You can make the cards with pre-printed names on them by using an online bingo card generator.

Grade One:  Provide a sheet of names for students to trace, cut out, and paste randomly in the squares. 

Grades Two and Three:  Provide a class list for students to use. They will write the names of their classmates in the squares of a blank bingo board like the one pictured.  Click on the bingo card image to download this freebie.  :)
Graphic provided by Creative Clips

Name Trace (Write & Wipe)

This center activity is great to use with students in kindergarten and first grade during the first few weeks of school.  

Laminate a sentence strip with each child's name and picture on it.  

Directions for Use 
Students use the sentence strips to trace the names of their peers with wipe-off markers.  In doing so, they learn to identify the printed name with the photo on the strip.  

Classmates Match (Pocket Chart Activity)

This center activity is great to use with students in kindergarten and first grade during the first few weeks of school. 

Reuse the laminated name strips (from wipe and write activity).   Cut the pictures and names apart.  Shuffle the pieces and store them in a basket.

Directions for Use 
Students match the pictures with the corresponding names, then display them in a large pocket chart.

Use the sentence strip pieces to play a memory matching game.

Other "Getting to Know You" Activities

  • I have...Who has? - Use class names and photos to play.
  • Build a Name - Spell classmates names with letter tiles, block, dough, wax sticks, stamps, or other fun manipulatives.
  • Name Comparison - Partners use a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the letters in their names.
How do you help students learn their classmates names during the first few days of school?  Leave a comment.  Nicki and I would love to hear from you!

I've had so much fun filling in for Nicki and visiting with all of you today.  Let's be friends!  Here's how we can keep in touch...

Friday, July 26, 2013

Guest Blogger-Polka Dot Kinders!

Hello!  I am SO excited to be hanging out with you today!  Please allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Sara and I’ll be starting my 14th year of teaching kindergarten in the Land of 10,000 Lakes:  Minnesota! 

If you are like me, you are already thinking about the start of the school year and how to start the year off right.  One thing that I love to do is to send home a postcard to students and a letter to parents.  I’ve done this for several years and have received a lot of positive feedback about it.

Before I had kids of my own, I would handwrite my postcards. That was back when I taught AM & PM so I would write about 45 postcards!  It took F-O-R-E-V-E-R!  Don’t get me wrong, it was totally worth it BUT then I found Vistaprint!

If you haven’t heard of it, you’ll love it!  For the rest of you, please allow me to refresh your memory.   Vistaprint has just about any product you would want for your classroom.  Personalized magnets?  Yep!  Stickers!  For sure!  Mugs and T-shirts?  Yes and yes!  It is a great site and easy to use.  There are even some tutorials floating around on Pinterest to help you out.  One of my favorites is by Maria from Kinder-Craze.   You can make a self-inking stamp!

Custom Vistaprint stamps inspired by Maria at Kinder-Craze!

They are always having a sale and I was lucky enough to get a Groupon for even better deals.  Anyway, I was after their postcards.  The cool thing is that you get 100 of them so for me that is enough for 4 years!   There are lots of designs to choose from or you can import your own clipart of pictures.  Here is a peek at mine!



I love that I can add my picture so my students will have an idea of what I look like ahead of time.  My theme of my classroom (and of course, my blog) is polka dots so it also sets the tone for my theme.

I don’t want parents to feel left out, so I also send a letter home to them!  Our school is trying something new this fall.  Each family comes in individually for a short meeting.  Then, the parents go in the hall and I give a quick assessment.   The purpose of my letter is to be sure they come to the meeting prepared with supplies and any questions!  The letter also outlines my “homework” for the beginning of the year.    Here is what my letter looks like:



Hopefully I’ve inspired you to try sending home a letter to your families this fall!  It really starts the year off on a good note which is always a good thing!

A big thank you Nicki for letting me guest blog while she is on her mission trip!  It is my first time guest blogging and she was so helpful!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Guest Blogger---Preschool Wonders & a Freebie

Hi! It’s Lola from Preschool Wonders.  I am so excited to be a guest blogger for Nicki today.  I teach Early Childhood Special Education/Title 1. 

My morning class is comprised of 3 and 4 year olds.  My afternoon class is made up of 4 and 5 year olds who will be going to kindergarten the following year.  I try to get my little learners as ready as I can for kindergarten.  I refer to CCSS for kindergarten often so I can at least try to expose my learners to what they will be expected to know the next year. 

As you can imagine (and probably not any different than a regular ed. class) my sweeties are all over the map with skill level.  I have one favorite activity that I do on the first day of school.  It’s pretty simple, and depending on what you want to add it can be useful for the remainder of the school year.  I have my students decorate placemats that are pulled out during snack time.  If you don’t have a snack time, you could pull it out just as a learning/personal reference sheet.   

I do this first thing, since my kids don't get to school at the same time on the first day (buses run late, etc). I have my little ones decorate them while we are waiting for everyone to arrive. I give them a piece of construction paper with their name and birthday on it and lots of fun stuff to glue on (like tissue paper squares, construction paper pieces. shape stickers, number stickers, etc). I laminate them and use them at snack time throughout the year. 

While they are eating snack I can do a quick assessment of one or two kids a day on shape, color, letters in name, etc. I encourage them to trace their names with their fingers while they are waiting for their snack or while they are waiting for their friends to finish.  This year I am going to add little dots and arrows to help them know where to start the letter and what direction to go while tracing. They love the art activity on the first day of school and it keeps them busy while I am helping late arrivers get settled in. I then can use them the rest of the year.  :)

Here is a picture of one I just put together as an example.  I like to have my sweeties tear the tissue/construction paper to add a fine motor element, as well {not an easy feat for most!}


I made some items that you can give your learners to decorate their learning/placemats.  


Head over to my blog to download them, if you are interested!