Thursday, January 31, 2013

Arctic Animals - Graphic Organizers

Well I finally remembered to bring my camera home today (yay me!)   I wanted to post some pics of my students completely graphic organizers on chart paper.  This was a follow-up to our "brainstorming" activity.  Since they've never done anything like this, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. 

I split the class into three groups....the Seals, the Polar Bears, and the Penguins.  They each "researched" their animals and taught the rest of the group what they learned.  I think they turned out absolutely adorable!  They were so proud of their work.  I especially love the kids who wrote upside down because they laid that way on the carpet :)

 We also did some writing / drawing about our animals.  This was the beginning stage before they added all the details.  I will update with more "finished" pictures.

Tomorrow we are scheduled to wrap up our two-week unit by finishing our K-W-L charts and some coloring / painting.  What could be more fun than 25 kids with paint?!?!?!

All of the activities I've done for our Arctic Animals Unit can be found HERE.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Tips.....Organization!

It's time for my weekly edition of Tuesday Tips.......BUT, I left my camera in school today :(  Sooooo, I've been searching pinterest since I got home (I swear I'm going to start dinner soon) looking for ideas to share with you. 

If you haven't read any of my previous posts I'm HUGE on organization.  Nothing makes me quite as happy as an organized classroom.  As part of my jobs, I always have table cleaners, floor cleaners, shelf organizers, table bin organizers.  It's quite funny but my kids really love to help keep us organized even though their parents disagree.  So most of my Tuesday Tips this week are going to be focused on organization.

The first Tuesday Tip is from a cute lil blog I found called "Kindergarten, Kindergarten."  Let me just say I would KILL to have that many books in my library for my kiddies to read!  Here are some pics she shared of her classroom:


All of the Math and Reading bins are color-coded!

(I think I just found a new wood-working project for the future hubs!)


Although she hangs charts on here, I was thinking this is a super
EASY and CHEAP way to hang my Big Books!  PVC pipe is
really easy to use and very inexpensive :)

Here is the link to the full post if you want to check it out: 

The next Tuesday Tip comes from The Very Busy Kindergarten.  She has great ideas for organizing the classroom but what REALLY caught my eye is this:

Well let me tell you, you will DEFINITELY
see this in my classroom ASAP! 

Sorry, I know that really wasn't a tip but c'mon, that is soooo stinkin cute!  Alright, I'm focusing!  The next tip is one I have NOT tried so please don't leave me mean comments :)  I do, however, plan on trying it tomorrow!  If you have permanent marker on a dry erase board, just cover all of the writing with a DRY ERASE marker (yep, right over top) then erase all of it with a dry eraser and it should ALL come off.  Here is the link and the pics.  I will let you know how my "test" goes.

Permanent marker
Cover all of the writing with a dry erase marker
Erase with an eraser and......
And I leave you with MY TIP for the day.  I really wish I brought my camera home to show you this!!!  I really hate dislike when the kids use the white boards and don't completely erase it.  They leave it for days and the boards get all black and yucky.  Well, did you know that Magic Erasers will make your boards look brand spankin' new????   Yep it does!  And since I'm cheap too, I buy the knock-off erasers at the dollar store.  You can get two large erasers (which I cut in half) for just a dollar!  C'mon, that's cool!
I will still be on the hunt tonight for more cool ideas and tips. If I find more I will definitely post so don't forget to check back. Hope you found something you can use in your classroom tomorrow.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tuesday Tips!

Today is my first posting of TUESDAY TIPS!  One of my goals with my blog is to bring you practical ideas for your classroom that are free or very little in cost.  I will bring you things from my own classroom or things I found on other blogs.  Make sure you stop by each Tuesday for new ideas :)

The first idea came from a professional development I attended last year.  The coordinator was one of those rare fabulous people who came with TONS of practical ideas for us to take right into our classroom.....don't ya just love those pd's?

Anyways, this is a simple, inexpensive yet effective way to allow for hands-on practice of beginning addition for Kinder's.  Just take a piece of white or light-colored pipe cleaner and tie off one end.  Add 10 beads (same color) to the pipe cleaner.  Use a sharpie to make a black line down the middle and voila, students can practice any addition problem to 10!  You can also add more beads to accommodate addition problems up to any number that will fit.  SUPER simple!  I have each student make their own (great fine motor activity and great for hands-on learning!)

The next Tuesday Tip is also for adding but you can adapt it to a number of other activities.  All you need to make this activity are bottle caps (send a note home to parents and before you know it you'll have hundreds!)  I purchased plain, colored sticker labels from the dollar store.  Write the numbers 0 through 5 (or higher) and place them on the inside part of the cap.  Students place them face down, choose two caps and add the numbers together......instant Math Center!  The students can even use the pipe cleaners above to figure out the problem!

You can also use these caps for number recognition, playing Hi/Lo, building two-digit numbers, or even number ordering.  Skies the limit! It's such an inexpensive activity that you could make multiple games and store them separately.

The last tip is for learning coin  identification and their value.  I bought wood cubes at my local craft store ($3 for a 12 pack.)  My grade partner has coin image stamps but I also found coin stickers at my teacher store.  The sectioned-dish I found for $1 at the dollar store.  The whole activity cost me less than $5.00 to make.  Place plastic coins in the center of the dish.  Students roll the cube and identify the coin and the coin's value. Then they have to find that coin in the center dish and sort it in the correct section.  It's really a simple activity but my kids love to play it and it really helps with coin recognition!

Click HERE for recording sheets.
Well I hope you found something you can use in your classroom!  A lot of these activities can be adapted for 1st or even 2nd grade.  Use your creativity and things you have laying around in your room.  Good luck!!!


Arctic Animals Unit - Day 1

Well today was quite a blissful day in my classroom!  There were 7 kids absent today.  Although I never want my lil guys to be sick, let me tell you what a difference it is having only 18 kids!  I can't get over how QUIET it was.  The downside was we started our Arctic Unit today so I was really bummed that a lot of the kids weren't there.  I will have to pull them to a small group tomorrow to get them caught up.

Today we began the unit by brainstorming.  For Kindergartener's, this is a brand new concept so it took a little longer than normal.  It is also the first time we've used a KWL chart.  I'm really surprised at how WELL they did.  I am so proud of them!  Each group came up with all the things they know about their animal (polar bears, seals or penguins.)  Here are the pics of the finish products (all THEIR words!)

Tomorrow we are going to read a few books about Arctic Animals, including the original story I wrote to go with this unit, to learn more about them.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this unit!!!!  To preview it, click HERE.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Writing Conference Forms

Happy Monday!  I had visions of spending this extra day off relaxing, sipping my coffee, checking out my favorite blogs and just relaxing.  Instead, I had a hectic day running around trying to transfer a car to my daughter from my future in-laws.  All I can saw is GEEZE, what a day!

Anyways, as I was gearing up for tomorrow I went through some of my notes from last week.  If you read some of my earlier posts, my kiddies are a VERY smart group this year but they had zero very limited writing skills.  I definitely had my work cut out for me.  We use the "Being A Writer" program which I really do love but it leaves little free time to work on how to actually build sentences.  We do get "open weeks" in this program which definitely helps.  Last week was an open week so I was able to conference with each student.  We looked through their journal and together decided what they were doing well and what goal we would set for them.  The goals ranged from writing "2 thumbs up" sentences (start with an uppercase, end with a period) to actually writing words in their journal.  A few of my darlings get so caught up in the illustrations they forget to do any writing!  Guess I know who my spatial kiddies are :)

Click picture to download

I wanted to share with you what I use to keep track of writing conferences.  It's a SUPER SIMPLE form that anyone can make.  I figured if I already have it done I might as well share it with you.  And I couldn't just share ONE form so I added two more.  I hope one of them will suit your needs.  Enjoy :)


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

MLK Activities

In the land of Kindergarten, we have been discussing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as our theme for the week.  On Monday, we read "A Boy Named Martin" from my MLK Bundle product.  It is an age-appropriate way to explain the beliefs of MLK to 5/6 year olds.  They really seemed to get the message!  This was the first year I focused on this early reader instead of the MLK biography we normally read.  I found that by making a book about a child their age (Martin) they would be able to relate better.  On Tuesday, they colored the images in the book.

Today was the best day yet!  Today, we started by recalling what we learned about MLK.  I showed the kids 2 eggs, 1 brown and 1 white.  We discussed all the ways the eggs were different.  Then, I cracked the eggs open to show the kids they were exactly the same on the inside.  This seemed to be very powerful to them.  I saw so many "lightbulbs" going off ~ it was great!

Finally, we discuss and signed our Peace Pledge (also in my MLK Bundle.)  We promised to use kind words and treat others as we wanted to be treated.  While everyone signed the pledge, I gave the kids the bracelets I made.  They LOVED them!  Here are some pics.

Funny side note:  I allowed the kids to decorate their bracelets however they liked.  One of my lil cuties colored his the same colors as the Philadelphia Eagles football team.  As he showed me he said, "I colored mine like the Eagles.  I really like them but my dad said they suck."  Trust me, it was almost impossible to keep a straight face!!!!   

Hope you are having a great week!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Hope your week is off to a good start!

Head on over to Mrs. McLaren's Little Super Hero's for a one-year anniversary giveaway.  There are TONS of products to win.  I've included my Winter Roll and Record product for one lucky winner!  Definitely worth checking out.  Head over and sign up today!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday Fun!

I know I'm a little crazy obsessed unique but isn't that a good thing?  One of my favorite things about being a teacher is coming up with new, fun ideas to teach the content to my little ones.  My absolute favorite part of the weekend (other than sleep) is waking up on a Saturday morning to make new games and projects.  Strange, I know :)

One of my goals for this year is to bring you more pictures of how the products I create are used.  The problem with that is I always forget to take the pictures, lol.  Kindergarten is a very busy place, especially with 25 little ones.  Please know it is on my to-do list to take more action shots of the kids playing my games and products.  I do have a few to share, as well as some pictures of things I made and use in my classroom.

This first picture is a VITAL part of my classroom.  I teach this in the beginning of the year and reinforce it regularly.  All teachers now-a-days are required to do soooo much testing!  With older students, they can generally understand when to NOT interrupt.  The little ones however have no concept of this.  I can't tell you how many times I was assessing a student counting to 100 and had to start over because we were interrupted.  Can you say FRUSTRATING?!?!?!  Well, here is my simple solution and it works GREAT!

I simply printed and laminated a Stop Sign. I found the paperclip stand at the Dollar Store.  The kids know when they see the stop sign I am not available unless it's an emergency (bleeding or throwing up.)  Otherwise they need to wait.  Once I've introduced it and practiced it I've had no trouble with interruptions. It works great during my Guided Reading group time as well!

One of my favorite centers in my room is my Writing Center.  My former classrooms have never had enough space to have a "designated" area so I was thrilled when this room did!  It was the first center I set up.  You can't see from the picture but off to the right is a shelf with Writing Center Supplies.  Hanging on the wall are my Number and Color Word reference cards.  Click here for Number Cards (free) and here for Color Cards (free.)  My students go to the Writing Center 3 times during a 6-day rotation.  On the first day, they Rainbow write their new sight words and write a sentence using one of the words.  On the second day, they can finish their work from day 1 if needed or they move on to the second activity (varies.)  I keep lots of scrapbooking papers, markers, and other crafty-type things so on the third day they can write a card to their parents.  It's a great way to show parents how much progress they are making throughout the year!

I also keep a writing binder for our monthly writing journals.  This is our first year doing this and so far so good.  Each month, I put the kids writing journals in their binder.  It's a great resource to show parents during conferences and also to show the students how much progress they've made during writing conferences.  At the end of the year, I send the binder home as a keepsake for the parents.

Here is a cute picture of my kids playing Winter Roll and Record.  They absolutely LOVE this game!  This game comes ready to laminate and go!  The students roll two dice, add the numbers together and place a pom-pom over the number on the mat.  It helps with addition facts up to 12 and it's definitely helped my struggling students with number identification!  To download this game click here.  I am also working on another version so stay tuned.

The last thing I want to share with you is a game called Hot Chocolate.  This game is played the same as Crazy Candy Canes (which is pictured below.)  You place the cards in the center of the table. Player 1 takes a card and reads the sight word. If they read it correctly, they keep the card. If not it gets returned to the pile. Player 2 repeats the same steps.  Play continues until someone picks up a Hot Chocolate card.  That player loses all their cards!  The player with the most cards at the end wins.  Such a simple game but my students beg to play it, and c'mon....they don't even realize they're learning!!!!  To download Hot Chocolate click here.  I also have Hot Chocolate for 1st and 2nd Grade. They are grade-level sight words taken from the Dolch list.

Well, that's all for now.  I promise to get my camera charged up and bring you more photos soon!  Thanks for stopping and have a GREAT weekend!!!!



Tuesday, January 8, 2013

RTI, Catching up and a Suprise Ending!

Whoa, today was a crazy day!  My kiddies were a little out of whack today.  The flu has been racing through my classroom.  I had 7 students absent yesterday and 4 today.  I have been coughing like a crazy lady as well. 

I want to try to catch everyone up on a few new products in my story.  I've been working like crazy since the holiday break and don't intend to slow down any time soon!  I have sooooo many product ideas in my head so the sooner I get them out, the better for my sanity :)  So here we goooooo......

I just uploaded my new RTI for Kindergarten.  I love, love, love the "January Jump" but unfortunately not all kids ride that wave.  So I came up with this activity to help those students who are still struggling with letter identification and sound.

This product is 87 pages in total.  Each alphabet letter has 3 different pages:  One page for students to practice creating / forming the letter, one page to practice writing the upper and lowercase letter and a third page for letter discrimination.  The packet also includes three different lesson plan formats, two assessment pages and an alphabet chart with graphics.  I am SO excited about this product so check it out if you have a minute.  Click here to check it out.

I also just finished a FREEBIE!!!!  It's a cute lil literacy activity for your kiddies to enjoy.  Depending on the grade level, I would definitely recommend some modeling prior to completing this activity.  Here is the link to check it out .  I hope you enjoy it!

And finally, for all of my fellow bloggers and TpT'ers.......One of my New Year's goals was to become more organized.  I wanted to put together a binder for all of my blog and TpT "stuff" so I created a TpT/Blog Organizer.  Well, let me just say, I started using it at the beginning of the year and wow, what a difference it has made.  I now have a place to keep my sales records, my goals, my pinterest info....everything!  All in one spot.  I'm in love with this if I do say so myself!  Check it out HERE.

Okay, now for the surprise ending...........
     I got engaged over the weekend!!!!  I know, crazy huh!  I have truly met my soulmate. The one I am supposed to grow old with and be with forever!  He is the kindest, sweetest, most thoughtful man!  I always SWORE I would never marry again.  Well, I've definitely learned to never say never again!

The Soon-to-be,
  Mrs. Dorman

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Great Resource!

I want to share a GREAT resource with all of you.  I love, love, love this site.  It's called Classroom Freebies. I find some really great resources for my classroom on there.  And the best's FREE :)  Who doesn't like that price, huh?

Go check it out........visit Classroom Freebies for their latest post on Word Family Sliders.  I know I will be making these for my kiddies.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

FREE Winter Word Challenge

If you're like me, panic is starting to set in.  I return to school tomorrow.  I don't quite know how the past week and a half FLEW BY so quickly.  I had such high hopes for all of the planning I was going to do and all the cute lil projects I was going to make.  Well, that didn't quite happen.

So if you are like me, spending your afternoon trying to come up with all those center ideas, etc., this is for you.  You can download the free product below, print it out and you're ready to go!

This activity will provide you with 3 printable activities for your Literacy or Writing Center.  Students must make as many words as they can from the word given (i.e. SNOWMAN.)  This will help those Emergent / Early Readers practice their word building skills and you can check one thing off your to-do list!  I hope your kiddies enjoy :)

Just click the picture to download.

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