The Value of TK

Something has been weighing on my teacher heart lately.  You may or may not be aware, but I teach a combination class for transitional kindergarten and kindergarten students.  If you don’t know what Transitional Kindergarten is, it is a 2-year program designed for students who start public schooling at the age of four and will turn five during the fall.  Their birth dates must fall between September 2 and December  2.  Elizabeth from Kickin’ It In Kindergarten has a great blog post all about TK here.

the value of TK
A few weeks ago our school held their annual Kindergarten Orientation for incoming transitional kindergarten and kindergarten parents.  There were a handful of incoming transitional kindergarten parents (probably about five or so), that did not understand the need for their child to be in transitional kindergarten.  They expressed their concerns by stating that their child already knows many of the skills that would be taught during Transitional Kindergarten.  As a parent I could see being hesitant, this is your baby and I know you are worried about how they will adjust to being in school.  I understand, my own baby is going into TK in the fall.  However, let me assure you that the choice to enroll your child into a TK program is an excellent choice.  Let me tell you why.  Here are the five reasons why you should enroll your child into a transitional kindergarten class.

red #1Socialization.   I cannot stress the importance of this enough.  Your child will learn how to interact with their peers in a true classroom environment.  They will learn how to follow school and classroom rules, AND more importantly learn the structures and routines of a classroom.

red #2Your child will learn to read.  Over the course of the year we will learn the letters of the alphabet and their sounds, but we will also learn sight words and how to decode words.  I’m so proud to say that in the last couple of years the majority of my kiddos could read DRA level 2’s and higher fluently!  It is wonderful to see the joy on their little faces when they know that they are reading!  I can confidently say that because of TK, these students have a strong foundation as early readers going into kindergarten.

red #3Your child will learn to write.  Not only will your child learn how to form letters and numbers, but they will learn to write sentences!  Many of my TK students could independently write 1-3 simple sentences by the end of the year!  Many students were successful with our district opinion writing prompt at the end of the year as well.

red #4Your child will have a strong foundation in mathematics.  It is amazing to see the strong number sense foundation that my TK’s students exhibit.  They are truly grasping ten frames, tally marks, addition, subtraction with numbers 1-10.

red #5Your child’s fine motor skills will improve.  Students in my classroom have multiple opportunities to work with small manipulatives, blocks, and play dough to assist with strengthening their hand muscles.  They also have constant opportunities to use scissors and glue to create art projects.

If your child is lucky enough to qualify to attend a Transitional Kindergarten program–I don’t think that you will regret enrolling them!  I should also mention that all of my students are exposed to the common core kindergarten standards, but I do not expect mastery of these standards.  I for one am very excited to see the amazing academic potential of my former students, and as a parent of an incoming Transitional Kindergartner I want her to have a strong educational foundation for the future.  Wouldn’t you want this for your Transitional Kindergartner as well?

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Rodeo week fun!  

Our local city has a spring rodeo every year at the end of April and my class joined in the fun last week as we learned about cowboys  and cowgirls.  Here are just a few of the fun activities we completed. 

I started out the week asking my students what they knew about the rodeo.  Their answers were hysterical!  😂😂😂. A few students thought the rodeo was about singing and dancing.  I recorded their answers on chart paper.

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Then I told them what a rodeo really is and explained that it is actually a sport with many events.  We watched quite a few short clips of rodeo events from YouTube.  Here were some of our favorites.

Every Cowboy Needs a Horse Song

Rodeo Event clips–we just watched a few minutes of each event so students would get a general idea of what it was.  I don’t even think I played the sound for them!

Bull Riding Clip

Barrel Racing

Roping

Steer Wrestling

Saddle Bronc Riding

The boys of course loved watching bull riding!

We read a few fun “Wild West” themed books.  My class especially enjoyed reading Little Red Hot by Eric Kimmel.  This is a different version of Little Red Riding Hood and it is adorable!  We also read Pecos Bill by Steven Kellogg.  This tall tale is so fun to read because it talks about Pecos Bill invented the first rodeo. Here is a picture of our books we read.  We are also getting ready for farm week so those books are displayed as well. 

My class absolutely loved playing this sight word game called, “Yee-Haw!”  It’s very similar to bang.  You place the sight word cards in a basket, shuffled face down and students take turns pulling cards.  If they can read the word then they can keep the card, if they cannot read the card the. They have to put it back.  If they choose a, “Yee-Haw” card then they have to put all their cards back in the basket. The person with the most cards is the winner.    

We also sorted pictures by vowel sounds in a pocket chart.  This is a great activity to prepare us for our end of year testing that is just around the corner!


We brainstormed about things a cowboy and cowgirl may need and wrote about it. We used our Western themed vocabulary words to help us with writing.

 We practiced our addition skills with this fun wagon wheel activity.  I substituted wagon wheels for dice to make it a little easier for little hands. 

And we of course practiced counting and writing tally marks.  My class needs all the practice they can get with this!   You can pick up this tally mark activity for free here in my store:  Western FREEBIE

 The last activity we completed was a little Mustang shape art/craftivity.  These turned out adorable!   

If you are interested, all of the activities and more are included in my Giddy-Up Wild West Math and Literacy Pack.  Here are some more photos from this unit:

giddy up collage
I hope y’all have a rootin’ hootin’ hollering week!

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Some shamrockin’ fun!

It’s March!  Hurray!!!!  One of my favorite holidays is just around the corner.  I thought I’d share some of the fun things we’ve done in the past to celebrate.

We always read Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato.  I always try to read out loud with my best Irish accent (which I’m sure is ridiculous…😂).  Last year my class made these adorable potato people.    My class also completed these leprechaun directed drawings from First Grade Blue Skies.  They turned out SO adorable!!!

 We also worked on writing questions.  First we brainstormed some question words whole class and made a poster.  Then during our stations we worked on writing down the questions to ask a leprechaun.  I had this large leprechaun cut-out that I purchased from Dollar Tree.  I taped it to the door and had students ask the leprechaun a question.  Oh my goodness–this was SUCH a cute activity and I absolutely loved the questions that my students wrote in their leprechaun letters.  ask a leprechaun photo

I uploaded this fun activity as a FREE item to my TpT store!  Just click here to download.

Dear Leprechaun sample

We also had a little visitor at our house!  My kiddos were SO EXCITED!!!  He left little green footprints and shamrocks everywhere!  Here is a photo:

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The visiting leprechaun also left green milk in the fridge!  Ha!

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I’m looking forward to this silly little leprechaun visiting again (and I’m looking forward to Shamrock Shakes)!  We also have a little tradition of making green dinner that night.  I usually just tint some pasta and alfredo sauce and serve with broccoli–yum!  What do you have planned for St. Patrick’s day?  I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below!

 

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Star Wars Birthday!

My little guy recently turned 7, and let me tell ya–he is all about Star Wars these days.  I can’t say I blame him, because our whole family is strong with the Force.  HA!  It’s literally Star Wars everything around here.  His birthday party was so fun to plan!  Here are some of the photo highlights:

I had a pretty limited budget, so all of the party decorations were purchased at either Dollar Tree or Target.  I made the rebellion symbol out of form board from Dollar Tree.  I just cut out the symbol and then spray painted it to get the look that I wanted.

party decor

We kept the food pretty basic–Vader Veggies, Skywalker chips and Salsa and Padawan Popcorn–with treats of course!

cupcakes

The kids had an absolute blast with the games.  I made light sabers with duct tape, electrical tape and insulation tubes from the hardware store.  The kids played a game where they tried to see how long they could keep their balloons up with their light sabers.

balloon light saber game

We also played Pin the Light Saber to Darth Vader.  I found these giant sized coloring pages at Target that were perfect for this game.  I just glued the colored picture to some poster board I purchased from Dollar Tree then we wrote the kids names on colored labels–easy peasie!

pin the lightsaber

One of the party favors was a bubble wand that we turned into light sabers.  We just covered the handle with electrical tape and then tied thank you tags to the wands.  I’m telling ya–these wands were a hit!  My kids loved them!  And the best part is my son made the majority of them with minimal adult help.

bubble light saber wands

I found these fun character masks at Target and they were another hit with the kids.  So funny!

star wars masks

If you are interested the tags from the bubble wands are a free download from The Contemplative Creative.  The cupcake toppers were also a free download from Family Shopping Bag.

Check out my Star Wars birthday board on Pinterest if you would like to find more ideas:
Follow Barbara’s board Star Wars Bday on Pinterest.

May the Force be with you!

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Five for Friday!!!

So it’s been a LONG time since I linked up for this, but I’m so excited to share with you a little glimpse into my crazy life!  Ha!    This is what I’ve been up to this week!  

 

Ok here we go!  

 This past Christmas my hubby got me the best gift ever–a new camera!!!  I’ve been playing around with it a lot and I’m trying to learn how to use it 😜!  My girls played dress-up on Sunday and I was able to take some pictures of them! They certainly love to be girly princesses!  

     

 
  

 I raided the Target Bullseye playground!!! I’m seriously excited about some of the great finds I found and who doesn’t love to find treasures in the dollar bin right?    

 

So apparently everyone in Fresno could feel the aftershocks from the earthquake near Wasco this week–ummm…not me though.  This meme was too funny to not share.   

  

My kids had their annual Muffins with Mom at school Wednesday morning. So fun!  It was crazy town at the book fair, but my kiddos are so excited they got new books!    

The decor was too cute!  

  

I’ve been looking for some old pictures to share at my 20th high school reunion that’s coming up this fall (say what!  I’m not that old yet right!).  I came across this gem from back in the day & I feel that it’s especially fitting since this is the end of National FFA week.    
  

Have a great weekend everyone!
~Barb 

Pacific Coast Teacher Meet-up!

This past weekend I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Pacific Coast meet-up hosted by the amazing bloggers (AKA CA Fab Four) from Hooo-ray for TeachingVery Perry ClassroomTales of Teaching with Tech, and Teaching from Beyond the Desk.  I had an absolute blast!  Here are some of the photo highlights:

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We arrived!  My SIL Amy was my partner in crime for the event!

First stop–the steps of the Capital building where we all met.

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We went on a scavenger hunt in Old Town Sacramento–so much fun!  Some other wonderful bloggers invited us to join in with their group!  I SO loved meeting everyone and making new friends!

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After the scavenger hunt we headed to the Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner.  Everything was so beautiful and I’m telling you guys–EVERY detail was thought of.  There were a TON of prizes to be given away and the Swag Bags were AMAZING!!!  This was just a few of the amazing sponsors.

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Kate at Sprout Classrooms made these beautiful sparkly wine glasses for everyone to take home!  So pretty!  And…I actually won stuff from the giveaways!

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These amazing bracelets are from Trashy Crafter and they are made from recycled books!  So cool!  My bracelet is from one of my all time favorite books Make Way for Ducklings!

IMG_1454 editedI also won these beautiful earrings from Nickel & Suede.  They are absolutely gorgeous and they are so light!  It doesn’t feel like you have anything on your ears at all.  If you have never heard of Nickel & Suede you need to check out their stuff–it is amazing and so reasonably priced!

Oh and the swag bag was all kind of amazing!  I actually think that it deserves an ENTIRE post on its own.  My kids have been eyeing everything for the last 24-hours, so I will try my best to keep them away and take some pics to show you all of the awesomeness that was inside.

In all seriousness though, the free  stuff and the giveaways were amazing, but my absolute favorite part was just meeting other people.  Everyone was so nice and positive, I’m telling you it was contagious!  I am truly honored to be a part of this amazing educational community.  Teachers are an amazing group of people–we are a rare breed of kind individuals who are willing to go above and beyond for others.  It was a wonderful experience to be a part of something that celebrated teachers–I literally can’t wait for another meet-up!

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Summer Boredom Ideas for the Kiddos…

It’s Monday, and as my kids would like to call it, it’s Make Monday.  Like so many of us, I’ve been busy trying to keep my littles busy this summer with various projects and I thought I’d share a few of the projects we have completed.  All of my ideas I found on Pinterest, and I’ll share my original pins if you would like to visit the wonderful blogs that shared their ideas.

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First up, we made sidewalk chalk!

sidewalk chalk collage

So pretty much for the sake of my sanity and because we were using plaster of paris, I placed the ingredients in Ziploc baggies.  The ingredients are surprisingly basic–plaster of paris, washable tempera paint (what ever colors you want) and water.  I used whatever molds that I had at home.  From the picture above, the stars were an ice cube tray I picked up from Dollar Tree.  The muffin tin was from Dollar Tree too, and I think the silicone hearts were from Walmart.  I purchased most of the ingredients from Michael’s, but I bet you could find most of them at Walmart as well.  The project probably cost around $8 total to create, and I still have more plaster of paris left for other projects :).  Here was my original pin from Pinterest:

Next, we made moon sand!  This was so fun and a fraction of the cost that regular moon sand would cost!  The sand was moldable and easy enough for my little ones to make.  The recipe from the pin I found was only 3-ingredients too!  I seem to like 3-ingredient projects!  Ha!

moon sand collage

I actually had most of the ingredients for the moon sand, so this project was probably even cheaper than the sidewalk chalk–score!  I purchased a bag of play sand from Walmart for about $2.50 (now you guys know my secret–I’ve been hanging out at Walmart…:p).  Here is the original pin where I got the directions for the moon sand:

Last, but not least, I have to share the Father’s Day gift I made for my hubby.  He’s a HUGE Star Wars fan, so when I saw the pin below on Pinterest I KNEW  I had to make this project for him :).  I love how they turned out!

star wars hand prints

As you can see, it was a bit of a collaborative effort between me and my kids.  Don’t you just love their handwriting!

What are your kiddos up to this summer?  I’d love to hear from you!

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Hippity Hoppity…Spring Break is on its Way!

Whoa…it’s officially Spring Break!  I’m so excited, in fact, I just spent the last hour crafting some super cute chunky necklaces to match my little princesses Easter dresses and I’m watching Hart of Dixie on Netflix.  Life is good.  If you are interested in seeing my little crafty adventures, I’ll post some pics on my Instagram page later :).  Anywho, I guess that’s enough of my random ramblings, I did mean to post some pictures of some of the fun activities we finished in class last week.

We just finished a week of learning about oviparous animals and rabbits.  It was so fun!  We read one of my favorite Easter books, Max’s Chocolate Chicken by Rosemary Wells.  We made some bunnies, and I let students choose if they wanted it to look like a bunny, Max or Ruby.  I’ve also used this template in the past to make Peter Rabbits.  Here is a sample picture:

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I didn’t get a picture, but one of my colleagues had her students do opinion writing with their Max and Ruby bunnies and there were absolutely adorable!  What a good idea for using this book to teach opinion writing :)!

I also found these adorable bunny shaped eggs at Dollar Tree and made a fun sight word review activity for my kids.  They loved it!

little bunny sight word center pic

I actually made a couple of different versions, so if you are interested you can pick up the recording sheet and a few other things as a freebie from my TpT shop.  You can all get them here.

We also made this fun Bunny Peep snack from Pinterest:


We made this writing poster to sequence the steps for make the snack:

bunnies in a garden snack writing poster

And after we taste tested, we made this simple graph:

bunnies in a garden graph

This snack was easy peasie and super fun too!  My class really enjoyed it.  If you would like some fun sequencing activities I included them in my Hippity Hoppity Spring pack.  Just click the picture below to download a copy for yourself.

hippity hoppity Spring freebies

Happy Spring everyone!

 

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Little Red Hen and more…

Happy Monday everyone!  It feels like forever since I was able to blog.  Honestly, I just don’t really feel like I have the time.  Now that I four little ones at home, they keep me pretty busy!  I’m back to teaching kindergarten this year and we are having so much fun!  I am so very proud o the progress that my little ones have made this school year, I can’t believe that there are only a few months of school left.

This last week, we read a few different versions of the little red hen.  We watched this fun video of the little red hen available from Speakaboos on You Tube  

We also did little red hen directed drawings and discussed text to self connections that they made to the little red hen.  We then brainstormed things that students can cook, like pizza, cake, toast, etc and completed the sentence on the sentence prompt.  I love how each hen looks so different.  They turned out adorable!

little red hen photo 1

Here is a close up of one of their drawings and writing:

little red hen photo 2

If you would like the writing prompt, you can download it from this previous blog post here.

We also learned about the life cycle of a chicken  I was inspired by this pin on pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/28499410118466365/

I slightly changed the pattern, but here is our version.

life cycle of a chicken pic

Well that’s about all that I have time for now…my three year old is getting into stuff :p–hopefully I’ll be back soon!

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Apple Picking Time!

Hi everyone!  Fall is just around the corner and I can’t wait!  Seriously this 100 degree plus whether in central California needs to go!  Like now!  Any how, fall officially begins this week, right–and all things fall related are on my brain.

Last week my class learned about apples and the color red.  We had a great time and learned lots of new things.  I also updated my apple unit and added a couple of new things.

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There is now a black and white student version of the apple picking book.  This emergent reader is ideal for emergent readers.  It contains sight word based sentences in an easy and predictable format.

apple picking sample

 

I also added this fun ten frame number match for numbers 1-10.  There are three different versions of student worksheets to accompany this center. BOTH color and black and white versions of this activity is available.  Simply choose which version would better fit your needs :).

apple picking sample ten frames

 

I also added an upper and lower case letter match center activity.  Perfect for activity for your beginning of the year kinders :).  It also includes both color and black and white versions of the activity.  Two different versions of student worksheets is included for this activity.

apple picking sample letter match

 

These are just a few of the items included in my apple activity pack–it is full of some great activities!

Here is a list of the included contents:

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If you would like to check out this product click any of the photos above.  Happy fall everyone and I hope that you have a great week!

 

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