Monday, June 22, 2015

The 10 Steals of Summer!

Well hello my little summer loving friends!  First day of summer {check!}  Now, we can officially go into summer slow motion!  To celebrate the start of summer I am teaming up with Hadar {Miss Kindergarten} and Lyndsey {A Year of Many Firsts} for the 10 steals of summer!  I decided to go ahead and list the 10 steals so you could plan ahead...also Facebook is so tricky about what they let you "see."  Well, no secrets here Facebook!!! HA!

Alright, let's get started!


Day one of the summer steals is 1/2 off day!  I have two packets priced at 50% off!  Up first is my set of 150+ easy readers!  This packet IS from the first grade reading bundle, but if you don't own that bundle this is an absolute steal!  Click on the image below to view!

On day one I am also marking down my Alphabet Practice Sheets!  This packet has five versions of letter name $3 yes, please! If you want to snag that one just click below to view!


Day two of the summer steals is: SLASHING PRICES!  Day two I will be slashing prices of two favorite bundles!  My guided reading mega bundles will be $20 off! WHOOP!  View below for links:

Kindergarten Guided Reading MEGA
First Grade Guided Reading MEGA


On day two I will also be slashing the prices of my Addition and Subtraction ENDLESS bundle!  This bundle currently has $46 in product, but is a at a bundled price of $20....with the slashed price it's $14! SAYYY WHAAT?  You can click on the image below to view!


Day three of the 10 summer steals is the SIZZLING GIVEAWAY! This giveaway will be hosted on my Facebook page so be sure to check in at 12:30 CST to see how you AND your BFF can win $100 TPT bucks to my store!


Day five of the summer steals: BUY ONE, STEAL ONE!  Lol!  Just love that name... on Thursday only if you buy my August Taking back packet you also get my Farm Literacy centers!  If you already own the August packet you'll be able to snag the freebie centers that day too by downloading your packet again!  Click on the image below to check out the August packet!

Also, on Thursday I will be bringing this wham bam special out again!  It was loved by so many last week so I thought I could offer that once again!  If you purchase the KinderPhonics bundle, you will get THREE notebooks for free! Click below to view the KinderPhonics Bundle!


Day five is all about more 1/2 off steals! Up first is my All About letters A-Z Bundle!  This is a bundle with an individual packet for each letter!  The packets sell for $52 total and the are bundled at $26 and half off is $13. WAIT, WHAT?  I total *steal*  You can click below to view the bundle!

Also, on Friday I will be placing my Early Finisher packet 1/2 off for $3!  WHOOP!


Day 6 of the summer steals is another slashing prices day!  On this day my Literacy and Math Centers BUNDLED for the year will be slashed $15!


*STEAL IT FAST FLASH freebie!  You'll need to view my Facebook page at 12:30 CST to see what the flash freebie will be for the day!

*Sizzling giveaway!  You'll need to view my Facebook page at 12:30 CST to see what the giveaway will be for the day!

*The BIG DEAL STEAL!  You'll need to view my Facebook page at 12:30 CST to see what the big deal steal is!

That's all I have for you....have yourself a merry summer day!!! :)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Puffy Heart KinderPhonics {free sampler}

It was about this time last summer that I finally put my foot down and told myself that I HAD to put in the time and effort to create a kindergarten based phonics curriculum that was rigorous, engaging, and FUN!  When I set out starting on what is now, KinderPhonics, I had no idea of just how successful it would become in my classroom.

Last summer I was thrilled with the final look of the unit, but I was still nervous since it was yet to be "kid approved."  It took all of about one classroom day to realize I had something!  The kids were engaged and they were having so much fun!  I had used Leap Frog Letter Factory in my classroom the previous years, but now the video had meaning.
I got even more giddy as I received emails and feedback from other teachers that were having the same success with KinderPhoncis!

"AMAZING!!!!!! If you are thinking of buying this and wondering if it I worth the price - without a doubt, YES!!!! Curriculums school systems give us are not near this and cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is going to be simple and effective. Thanks SO much!!!!!"
"The hand signals made learning the letters and sounds much simpler for my students."
"Ob. Sessed. I cannot tell you how much of a difference this resource has made in helping my kiddos master the alphabet. I work in a school where kids come in with few, if any, letters and usually no sounds. My babes love singing the letter factory song and I always catch them doing the movements when searching their brains for sounds. The "real" photos are a hit too! I will absolutely be purchasing the next packs!"

My niece doing the letter sound motion for the letter e!

Sooooooooo, what is special about this phonics program compared to what I am already doing? KinderPhonics is teacher created for teachers and kids! I was frustrated that big box curriculum companies thought it was completely okay to teach letter names one per week the ENTIRE school year.  I might be speaking out of turn here...but in my classroom most kiddos get their letters within the first couple-few months.  The other kiddos would be bouncing off the walls to continue learning letters for the ENTIRE year.  I also wanted a phonics program that connected to all learning styles.  I had seen over the years that when I added movement and songs to the content...students picked it up very quickly!

 This phonics curriculum is made up of three units; Letters A-Z {a quick run through of the alphabet- 26 days}, Sounds to Words {spending two days per letter of the alphabet focusing on that sound- 52 days}, and Sounds to Words {this unit shows students how to take sounds and turn them into words -60 days}.  KinderPhonics is well thought out and does not ask for unrealistic measures from the teachers or the students.  Below a more in-depth of the phonics units!  Also, once you've scrolled to the bottom you'll  be able to download two free weeks to view :) :)

Unit One: A brief introduction to the alphabet.  This unit dedicates on day per letter.  Phonemic awareness skills covered in Unit One:  rhyming, syllables, and single sounds..all covered under the RF.K.2 Common Core State Standard.

Unit Two: A review of the alphabet with a focus on handwriting and letter sounds.  Two days are dedicated per letter with a review day at the end of the week.

Unit Three:  An introduction of more rigorous phonics skills.  Dedicated one "week" per skill.  Skills include; short vowels, long vowels, digraphs, blends, and additional word skills.

Below you will find a few snapshots of the resources found in unit one! I will also explain the importance of these materials for the full scope of the units!

Letter Sound Cards - - Letter sound cards are used throughout the units, but primarily in unit one.  I will add one card to my stack each day as we learn a new letter.  I will then review my stack with students.  They will give me the action and letter sound for each!
Alphabet Picture Cards {3 per letter}- - These "realistic" picture cards are used throughout unit one and unit two!  In unit one you are introducing the letter along with 3 picture cards that match that letter.  Unit two is when you focus on the letter sound and you will sort these picture cards.
Dry Erase Handwriting Cards  - - these handwriting cards are used primarily in unit one, but you can easily place them into a literacy center basket or writing center.

Letter Sound Posters - - The prime real estate of my classroom consisted of these posters!!!  We added one poster to our wall after each letter we learned!  The kids constantly referenced back to these throughout the year!  
Here is a look at our wall...Aa-Gg! :)

The Handwriting Helper {printed and place into THESE 
reasonably priced sleeves}- -  We used the handy handwriting helpers a ton through the year as well!  First, we worked on our simple letter formation {see below}.   As the year progressed we went on to writing our simple CVC words and then big kid words!

Practice Sheets- -  each unit also has its own set of practice sheets that match the skill we are working on at that time.  Directly below you will see the practice sheets for unit one.  We are working on getting those letter formations down pat!

Below are the practice sheets for unit two!  We are again continuing to work on letter formation, but we also work on finding words that match our letter sounds.  {Sorry it's at the bottom of the page}.

Alphabet Charts {student and teacher versions} - - the student ABC charts are seriously my favorite part of the unit :P  My kiddos each had one in their writing folders!  Writing and sounds go hand-in-hand!  These charts help those sweet babes get sounds down for this BIG words they are writing!

Below is a snap shot of a kiddo using their ABC chart during our small group writing!

Anchor Charts - - Anchor charts are a huge part of units 2 and 3 of Kinderphonics! We make a new chart or review a chart each day!  The charts are a lot of fun because the kids get to lead!  I decided to let them draw the pictures themselves and it was so cute.  Okay, maybe Id did it because I REALLY can't anything....nothing!

Interactive Notebooks - -  Interactive notebooks are just another pieces of KinderPhonics!  Of course they are not necessary to the overall success of the units, but they offer great follow-up!  There are three interactive to match each unit!

KinderPhonics Unit 1: Letter Identification Interactive Notebook

KinderPhonics Unit Two: Beginning Sounds Interactive Notebook

KinderPhonics Unit 3:  Sounds to Words Interactive Notebook

I think the biggest part of KinderPhonics that is WONDERFUL ...would be that the lessons are complete for don't need to write out any additional plans, they are finished for you!  When I had a sub I would simply leave these plans for them and they would be good!

I know that I am a visual person so I wanted to leave you a link to try out units one and two for yourself! 
If you would like to read and SEE lots more about unit one and two, including; a scope and sequence for three units, sight word list, and more click below and click the free preview below!  

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A LOVE for Nonfiction!

Hey there!  I hope this post finds you in great teacher spirits! :) :)  This post is content based, but I just had to put a summer spin on it with the sea turtle!  I hope that is okay HA!  Onward.  I have to admit when I first started teaching I read VERY few nonfiction texts and rarely if ever did my students read nonfiction text on their level.  I didn't have anything per-say against just wasn't what was modeled for me, studied in college, and basically I just wasn't exposed to it.  Thinking's hard to do but I remember children's literature in college and we made thematic units based upon narrative texts.  However, we never discussed how we could easily pull in some nonfiction selections as well to pair with.

It really wasn't until two years ago when we started close reads that I understood what a DIFFERENCE nonfiction texts meant and just how POWERFUL they are for engagement.   I never, ever, never, ever thought that my student would be more engaged with a nonfiction text, compared to a narrative text.  Now, I'm not saying they don't l-o-v-e narrative texts as well...but there is something about nonfiction that draws them to the edge of their carpet squares.

I know, I there she goes jumping off one education lily pad to another. No. no. no.  I think we are now good judges of characters and realize that BALANCE is key in education.  So, a paired selection of nonfiction and fiction is perfect!  Anyway, I think it's great for the students to make connections across the genres!

 When I thought about this post and how to explain why I thought nonfiction was important I couldn't help but think of the "why" in the our students.  Let me explain it...

Today we will learn about frogs.
Student: Why?
Teacher:  We are going to learn about frogs so we can see how they grow compared to how you and I grow and change.
Student: Why?
Teacher:  Frogs are part of a life cycle that takes many steps.
Student: Why?
 It is important to know how we grow and change, but equally important to know other life cycles.

Do you see how nonfiction topics SPARKS the minds of our young learners...I feel that teaching nonfiction "forces" me to explain to students the WHY and allows for them to ask their own WHY questions!

Of course the experts will go to say that as adults we mainly read nonfiction and because of that it is so important to teach our young readers not only how to read nonfiction selections, but also how to love reading nonfiction!

I can go on to say and I'll explain it more later in the post, but after really incorporating more nonfiction into my classroom I realized how awesome students became WRITING informative selections!

Here is something also to ponder....some will say that young primary students first learn how to read before they can read to learn.  Do you agree?  Do you feel students have to have a firm understanding of reading before they can comprehend and apply their reading into knowledge?  Hmm.  I am under the impression that if a very young child can look at the McDonalds sign and say.."Mommy, look it's McDonalds!"  They are not only reading, but fully applying that knowledge into their lives! 

 In my classroom I first introduced nonfiction into my classroom through close reads.  It was kind of like the first close read cracked open the flood gate and then it quickly just busted open and flowed freely!  I no longer had to feel like I was "forcing" nonfiction into my just came natural to my students and myself as well.  Below I will take you through an example close read week that complimented informative texts!

Whole Group Reading:

Our close read used the Butterflies informative text from National Geographic, but you can see below the other nonfiction selections we used throughout the week for writing/content!

Adding in fiction and realistic nonfiction books in the week...

Below is a perfect example of how easily we can tie in the narrative and informative texts!

In the weekly close read I also post two essential questions we work on for the is more of a skill-based question and one more life and/or content study based!

No one can deny the importance of vocabulary study in our classrooms!  You of course can study vocabulary terms in narrative texts.  However, I've the the students REALLY enjoy the vocabulary words we get from our informative texts!

Experiencing it in Hands-On Ways:

I like to find hands-on ways for the students to experience our study for the week and these butterfly plastic figures were a hit!  For students that had never seen a caterpillar/chrysalis they could now see with their own eyes which will forever change their understanding.

To explain to the students about our vocabulary work, pollination, we used a hands-on exploration activity!  There is just a difference in my teacher telling me about something and me actually experiencing it!

We also had caterpillars in our room and released them once they were big and strong butterflies...I mean just icing on the cake, right? HA!

I admit that it is not always easy to integrate informative studies across the curriculum, BUT when we are to the kids are so into it! This week there just happened to be a text that fit our informative study and math big idea so we went went it!


Yes, I'll defend your art and crafts projects!  People... the kids deserve to explore their creativity! These two projects took maybe 15 minutes each of class time, but forever keepsakes and memories that will last a lifetime! :)

Just as important as the TEACHER reading me informative ME reading it too!  It took me last year to get my feet with with adding in more informative texts whole-group.  This year I knew that I wanted to get those same rich the hands of my kiddos!  I still remember the day I gave them the first one I was like I just fed them chocolate...they were all over them...pointing and chatting it up, and READING! Most of all...I saw the love and passion...right there! BAM!

Just listen to this little guy...

Here are some snapshots of the readers in action...

You'll notice that they have REAL pictures and labels for the kids to use!

 Each of the readers also have a fact check page for students to go back into the text and comprehend.

If you'd like to snag up these readers I have two sets!  The first set has 15 topics and the second set has 24 topics.  The topics don't overlap so they are 39 topics to choose from!


Just as important as reading informative to WRITE informative stories!  It wasn't that my students couldn't write informative stories pre-close reads.  However, now it is just so seamless and the connection between reading and writing is solid!

If we are studying butterflies and our writing focus is informative...BAM we have that in the bag!  Below are the nonfiction writing story booklets from the close read I mentioned above!

Each day we would read a new informative butterfly text during writing and students wrote additional butterfly facts.  I feel as if in the morning we were reading a story about boy who was having a very bad day...and then at writing we were writing about butterflies students would have felt disjointed.  Now it just makes sense!

Not only do we write informative story booklets {on select weeks} during our whole-group writing...students also write nonfiction booklets as a choice option during work on writing.  This is time of independence while I pull reading groups.  I started to see their love for nonfiction writing towards the end of the year and they would come and ask how to spell chameleons, octopus, etc.  So, I made these nonfiction topic cards!

I placed them in a basket and they could easily access them and select one and grab a blank informative writing booklet!

You can grab the topic cards, blank/editable story booklets, and pre-made booklets for 50 nonfiction topics in the packet below!


During small groups we also started doing some informative research projects!  I had the kiddos give me their topic.  I then searched the library for books that matched!

They took the time to dive into the books and record their facts.  Once completed the students put all of their facts into a topic pamphlet and they were able to present them to the class! :)

You can grab these research templates for FREE... just click below!

We had several opportunities to bring in great "life" experiences throughout the year and we have several more planned for next year!  It's just amazing to see the kids light up at these! 
We were were studying ponies we made a trip to a farm and saw REAL ponies!

When our teacher told us there were many colors of apples...we saw it firsthand and tasted them all!

When we learned that seeds needed soil, water, and sunlight to grow...we tested it out!  We saw that our grass didn't grow for an entire week because there was no sunshine...but them once their sun came did our grass!

I wanted to also share with you the themes I have planned for next year! Most are the same from this year, but a few have changed! Now not all of these weeks are we using nonfiction as our primary text selection.  Actually, 15/35 weeks fiction is our focus.  However, you'll notice that besides the fairy tale weeks...all of the other themes lend themselves to informative study!

Transportation/My Neighborhood
Fairy Tales {3 weeks}
Veterans/My Community
Five Senses
Gingerbread Man
Martin Luther King Jr./Diversity
Polar Bears
My Body
Seed to Plant
Tigers/Growing & Changing
Community Helpers/Careers
Mother’s Day


Now I'll be isn't always easy to include nonfiction in our weeks.  However, I try to see benefits of it and push through.  I will always try my best to make it easier for you to do this! Together we know what is best and we got it covered:)

I'd LOVE for you to use the following hashtag anytime you are prepping something with a nonfiction focus or as you work on a nonfiction study in your classroom!  It will be great to see all of your ideas as well!

 To celebrate nonfiction I am placing all of my nonfiction resources on sale through the week for 20% off!  Below is what's included in the sale :)

That's it for today...oh and hey, have a GREAT week!