Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oral Language and Reading Fun with iPads and QR Codes

My classroom has been fortunate to have the use of three iPads. This is the first year that I have had this option. We have had so much fun using them!

One of the ways I have been using the iPads is to develop oral language for my kindergarteners. When we do the calendar during circle time, I let the students take turns being the "weather person". I let students be the "camera man" and use the iPad to video their classmates weather report. The weather reporter say their name, get to choose what channel they work for, and the time of the news. They then tell what today's weather is and put all the appropriate pieces up on the wall. They then "forecast" what tomorrow's weather will be like and put up pieces for that as well. One of my students is so shy, he was a bit uncomfortable doing this. I encouraged him to try and I helped him do his part. He was shy, speaking quietly, and wanted me to tell him everything he needed to say. He barely whispered his part. I then replay the weather report videos back to the class and they LOVED it!

Next, we used the app called Little Bird Tales. Using this app is a great way to make an interactive digital class book. To get the students familiar with how to use the app and manipulate the buttons, we made a collaborative shape book. I let the students choose whether they would like to drag and draw a square or a circle. They got to choose what color it was outlined in and what color it was filled in with. They then dragged the shape across the drawing space as large, small, skinny, wide, tall, or short as they liked. Then, using the microphone, they would describe their shape: "This is a large, purple circle with a pink middle." It was a simple way for them to begin to learn to use the app. Every time a new student made a page, we just added a page to the book so that the final result was a collaborative class shape book. We then played back and listened to the book. They watched each page and loved identifying who the author illustrator of the page was! My little shy guy was becoming a bit more adventurous and spoke louder with this project.

We then used the app called Photo Booth. I let the kinders choose what "look" they wanted to use to have me take their picture. The X-ray and heat wave look was very popular. I then took their pictures. I loaded the pictures into iMovie. I then had the students speak into the microphone. They said, "My name is XXX, and this is my friend, XXX." I adjusted the length of the audio so that as the student said their own name and introduced the next person, the next person's picture showed up. When you play back the movie, it begins with one student introducing themselves and then introducing their friend. It ends with the last student introducing me. They LOVED all the different looks their friends chose for their pictures. My little shy guy practically shouted his part for this project!! The iPad has truly given him so much confidence in developing his oral language. I am so thankful! He has a voice and he's not afraid to use it!

The most recent activity we have used the iPad for is to practice reading. I downloaded a QR code reader onto the iPads. I created a packet that can be purchased in my TpT store called "Scan & Read, Spell & Write". I created QR codes for vocabulary in the classroom that I use to introduce initial sounds as each new letter is introduced in my classroom during phonics using a QR code creator called QR Stuff. If you'd like to look at what I offer in the packet, please click on the cover page.

I have designed cards for all 26 letters. Below is an example using only 4 of the letters. The four picture cards are cut apart and placed in a center or in different places around the room. Students scan the QR code. Students then copy the word that shows up next to the same picture in the writing space. 

Or, students can use the worksheet below. They can attempt phonetic spelling on the top line. They then scan the QR code for the individual picture and check their spelling. If it is correct, they write it one more time on the lower picture. If it is incorrect, students correct their spelling on the second line.

I have also created the cards with the real vocabulary word under them. The vocabulary cards can be used as a matching game with the QR code cards. 

These can be used as worksheets and they can be laminated and used with white board markers in centers. The pictures are large enough to be colored, developing student fine-motor skills.

If you'd like to see more about how to use QR codes for reading, please visit this blog post I wrote awhile ago: Use QR Codes to Teach Reading.

I would love to hear how you are using iPads in your classroom!


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fun Letter Writing Practice

We use Saxon Phonics in our kindergarten classroom. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we do a "sound test" to see if the students have mastered the sounds and can identify the letters that we have introduced to that point. I put the letters that we have learned up on the board for them to refer to during the tests.

At the moment, we have introduced the letters, l, o, g, h, t, p, n, and a. Students take 2 file folders and place them, standing up on their desk to make "privacy offices" to work in. I do this so that students sitting next to each other can't just copy off of each other's papers. They are supposed to pull in their chair and slide their standing folders to the edge of their table. I have tried this for the last 8 years with little luck. Those little guys still manage to lean back and peak around the folders and copy the work of their friend. Outside of assessing them individually, (which I do), it gets tricky trying to see who really does actually know these letters. I have even tried to just have them use their hand to cover their work after they write an answer, but some still forget to do that too.

I finally came up with something that I love and so do they! A simple post-it piece of paper has made a great difference in so many ways!

I call this piece of paper their "secret note" and it adds an air of mystery, just because of the name. They stick the paper over the area they are writing on. When I ask them to write the letter that makes the sound that says, "/n/", they lift the post-it, write their answer, then let the post-it drop again. It REALLY helps cover the work they have done and hides it from their neighbors, so it takes away the copying problem!

While they are sitting their waiting, and possibly waiting more while I repeat the sound, they used to get off task. They have something to do now! While the students are waiting, they look at the letters I have put up on the board and can practice more writing by writing the letters or making words with the letters on their "secret notes". (Most of them haven't figured out how to make words yet, so they just practice writing the letters.)

They can earn a sticker for their chart if they participate. The stickers on their chart earn prizes, so of course they all participate. The bonus is that I then have another current rendition of their writing style that I can pull off their paper and include in their portfolio that I go over with parents during our fall parent conferences. I can show the parents whether students are creating their letters correctly or not. This exercise has definitely shown improvement in writing for many of my students!

Here is my newest favorite iPad app that I also use for letter writing practice!

It is a simple tracing app that WILL NOT let the student draw the letter incorrectly. We do write with a D'Nealian style in class, but this font is pretty good still. In the picture above, you touch the animal head and pull the animal head down to "eat" the food, or sometimes, a tractor picks up hay or a whale eats food or a crab walks too. It's fun and interactive. It includes tactile sound as well. You can use a free version or update to a pro version for $1.99. A really nice option for this is that you do not have to go through the entire alphabet. In my case, I can simply scroll across the screen to get to the 7 or 8 letters I am currently covering.

I have 3 iPads in the classroom, so when my students finish their morning work, they can go to the iPads to practice those letters we are working on. The writing in the classroom this year has really improved, thanks to these few changes I have made this year! We love it and hope you do too!

On Mondays, I use the page from this packet I have created for morning work:

On Wednesdays, I use the page from this packet I have created for morning work:

A final result of all of this letter writing practice has been that students are now creating their own "secret notes" for their homework. They are having their parent tape papers to their homework and they are bringing in little sheets of paper with extra letter writing on them! I loved it so much, I reward these with stickers too. I have not announced this as something to do, but students have noticed others doing it and now a lot of the kiddos are bringing these sheets in every morning!

What do you do for letter writing practice?

Enjoy the ideas!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Mind Games and More Free Math Games and Printables

Yara from Sea of Knowledge is hosting a great little linky party for you, full of lots of great math games. Hope on over to her blog by clicking HERE

Speaking of math games, here is a great one that I like to try to play with my kids. 
We call it, "Tic, Tac, Toe...Across the Mind". No materials are needed, so you can play it ANYWHERE:)

Two people play at a time. Each chooses whether they will be the X's or O's. Players take turns calling out their position choice verbally. Upon each choice, both players must REMEMBER the positions that each person previously laid claim to. The conversation could go something like this:

Player A: I put an X in the upper, right-hand corner.
Player B: I put an O in the lower, left-hand corner.
Player A: I put an X in the lower, right-hand corner.
Player B: I put an O in the middle of the right-hand row. And so on. Until one player wins or both tie for a "Cat's Game." We get ourselves crazy with trying to remember what spots were already taken and we usually end up laughing lots while playing this game.

Anyone know why it's called a "Cat's Game" when they tie?

For some more fun, free math, here you go!


If you click on those pictures, you can have the activities for free. Furthermore, if you click on the pictures and go over to my store, you can sort the items in my store according to price and all the free items will come to the top. I have lots of free math games and activities ready for you to download.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Free Morning Work Packets: Limited Availability

I just love that every class I have every year is so different from all the other classes I have ever had. I am really amazed by how the group dynamics change from year to year. Because each class is so different from all the others, I find that at this time of the year, I end up creating something special just for my new class. Below are some of the new products I created recently for my new class. They are for sale in my TpT store. If you are interested in them, just click on the picture to see what each packet has to offer. The morning work packets are sold separately AND as a combo for a slightly lower combined price.

HOWEVER, I am offering all of them for FREE to the first 10 people who comment to tell me about one thing that you like to do for morning work in your classroom. 

I am always looking for new ideas. I would love it if you wanted to follow my blog, but that is not a requirement. The first 10 people will receive my Community Workers packet, and both Fine-Motor Skills and Initial Sounds Morning Work packets. You MUST leave an email address that I can send these files to. They are zipped files and will need to be unzipped because of the number of pages in each packet.

Here's hoping you are off to a great new school year with your new class!!!


Monday, August 26, 2013

A Stock your Classroom Huge GIVEAWAY!!

Can you believe September is around the corner?! I 
know some of you have been in full swing for a while 
and some are just gearing up to meet your new little 
sweeties…. Which to me sounds like the perfect time to 
Stock Your Classroom!

I am teaming up with 8 of my blogging friends to offer 
an amazing giveaway package to help stock your 
classroom for the coming year.
Check out what is up for grabs!


Gain entries by following us on TpT, our blogs, and/or 
Good luck! The winner will be announced THIS Thursday!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 23, 2013

Phonics Show and Tell: Great Connection idea!

We finished our first week today! In my kindergarten class, we use Saxon Phonics. The first letter that is introduced is "L". It is followed in the second week by the letter "O" and the third week brings us the letter "G". The beauty of this introduction is that by the third week, students are feeling successful because they recognize they can "read" something: the word "log". The letters "H", "P", and "T" follow shortly, so you can see they have a number of words that can be put together for reading soon after school starts.

For years, I have tried to think of a way that makes sense for five year olds to connect immediately with the sounds that we are working with. I finally came up with something that both the students and I love!

It is called the "Show and Tell Your Letter" board. I laminated a posterboard and hung it on the wall. I then put border around it to make it a mini bulletin board. I laminated it so that I could write on it with a whiteboard marker. 

As each letter is introduced for the week, I put a little blurb in my newsletter about what letter we will be studying the following week. I ask parents to have their children bring in something that STARTS with the letter of the week. I tell them they can bring it in any day of the week. As we start our phonics lesson, I let students "Show and Tell" about the item they brought. They put it on our letter shelf and I add the word to the weekly word wall.

I am so excited by the events that this has already caused in only the first week. For one thing, students did WAY better with initial sound concepts with the letter than in any other year. On another note, students even began to use the words from the word wall in their own writing without my having even suggesting it. I LOVE that they are making real connections with the phonics concepts because of this. 

The other benefit to this activity is that it allows students to bring in toys that they are otherwise "banned" from unless it is their "Bear of the Week" time in which they are allowed to bring in items from home to share.

As we complete other weeks, I can come back to add pictures from items students bring in.

If you have any other suggestions for my board, please feel free to leave me a comment:)

Here are a few additions from the weeks after this was written:

For more tips, follow me on Facebook and Teachers Pay Teachers.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Excellent Back to School Resources

It is that time of the year again!! Many of you have already begun to welcome your new crop of students for the year. I had the pleasure of meeting most of my new students at our "Back-to-School" Night this past week. I really enjoy that time, as it gives me a few moments with parents to tell me about their children. I also get an initial impression on each child so that I can begin to plan for some of their needs as well as their interests!

In getting ready for the upcoming year, I have a number of "tried and true" supplements that I like to make sure to use each year. However, I ALWAYS love to shop at TpT's Back-to-School SALE to add something new to the new class. It is especially cute when my older students stop into the room and look around. They love to see replicas of a project they did the previous year. Then you see them look with awe at a new project and say, "Hey, we didn't get to do that!!!" They sure are observant!

Teachers Pay Teachers is hosting a HUGE Back-to-School two day sale on August 18th and 19th. If you click on the box above, you can be taken to the TpT Back to School SALE through my store. You can also go to their home page from my store to shop from the stores of other teachers. 

Be sure to add in the promo code: BTS13 to get up to 28% off of EVERYTHING in my store!

Here is my newest creation:

If you would like to check out some other really wonderful Back-to-School items, look at what these amazing teachers have to offer by clicking on each of their buttons! Be sure to check each of their stores. You will find many things that will provide your students with fun, interactive, and purposeful learning!

May you enjoy a truly wonderful new year with your new class!!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

An "All About Me" Free Writing Journal

Hello! It's that wonderful time of year again! Time to welcome a new class and learn about a whole new set of personalities. I used to get nervous at the beginning of school, until I realized that all the new people coming into my class, parents included, were nervous about meeting me too. 

I have a freebie for you to help you get to know all about the new students you will be having in your classroom! 

Just click on the picture above to receive 16 pages of journal prompts that are sure to be a great way to get to know so much more about your students! With nearly 3,000 downloads, this is a super popular project with both teachers, students, and the parents who receive the final product.

This packet includes 16 writing prompts with space included for drawings. One of my favorite pages is where the students write their names and draw themselves during the first week of school. I LOVE to keep these books and save them for the Open House at the end of school. I take the page that they wrote their name on and drew themselves and paste it onto a large colorful piece of paper right next to the same project that they complete during the last day of school. Most of the students will do two things: 1)Try to secretly change how they wrote their names from the first week of school and 2) flat out insist they never wrote their name like that or drew a picture like that. A lot of the kids think the project is hilarious. The parents are really drawn to it as a great visual for just how much the children will change in 9 months.

Good luck to everyone as you set up your classrooms in the days and weeks to come!


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