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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Valentine Sharing and a Great Find

 
I am linking up with Denise from Sunny Days to 'show and tell' something for Valentine's Day. Here is a cute free font I made that will be perfect for your Valentine's Day projects!
 
You can download our 'Friday I'm In Love' font from our graphics blog by clicking on the image above.
 
You will find it, and lots of other free fonts, on the right hand sidebar:
 
 
Find lots more 'show and tell' items over at Denise's blog!
 
And speaking of Valentine's Day and fabulous bloggers - a few lovely bloggers from my Premium Club invited me to link up with them for a 14 day blog hop full of fabulous freebies! It all starts at Ms Beattie's blog - so stay tuned! You will not want to miss it!
 
 
I have wanted to make a cute little flip book for segmenting words for a long time now! I have had many daydreams about cutting paper, my spiral binder and lots of patience... well daydream no longer, as I stumbled upon this FANTASTIC little notepad at Officeworks this evening. My Aussie friends will understand my affection for Officeworks! Click on the image below to find them.
 
 
Inside the pages are already split into 3! Hallelujah!
 


I can't wait to put it to use in the classroom, for activities to teach segmenting words....
 

 

 
 
I have my first day back in the classroom for the year tomorrow, and am VERY excited! I am relieved to be working on a straight class, but if you have a composite this year, you will LOVE the posts my blogging friend Tania has just written on how she plans for these challenging classes. Head over to read about them HERE
 
......and look at these fabulous little cuties at Shanyn's blog, which are on my to-do list for the weekend! Thanks Shanyn!
 
 
I love this time of the year - so many great ideas and new ways to start a wonderful school year!
Thanks for stopping by, have a great Wednesday!
 


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Teach Kinder to Read on Day 1

 
What?!
 
Yes, you read correctly. I teach kindergarten students to "read" on their first day of school!
 
I say "read" as it is really just a lot of fun, and NO PRESSURE! The children get a huge kick out of hearing that they will learn to read and especially take something home and show their family that they have learnt to read something.We do it with lots of fun, enthusiasm and a little bit of silliness!
 
I cannot take credit at all for the original concept - a fabulous teacher I worked with about six years ago introduced me to it, and together we did it with our kinders that year. I added elements to something she had been doing for years, and updated some of her ageing worksheets and resources. We worked as a wonderful team on this and many other ideas and learning activities.
 
 
You will need word cards (if you print out my freebie at the end of this post - you will have them) - I sort all of my 'reading' word cards in an index box. It is one of my favourite and essential tools in my classroom. I can make that little box into a thousand lessons and activities!
 
 
 
And something I call a 'sentence maker' - really just a bit of wood with one or two grooves cut down the middle. I would love to say I made this, but my fabulous Dad did. It was not difficult at all. The grooves have a slight lean to them, so the cards angle back when you rest them in.
 
You could also use a pocket chart or the edge of the blackboard (do you still have one of those??) to stand your cards up.
 
 
Here she is from the front. Very well used and a little battered.. and a bit of black marker from when I used it as a ruler (oops)..
 
 
The grooves only need to be cut down a few millimetres. My dad cut me two, as he is like me, and always like to have a spare for everything (just in case) - but I have only ever really used one of them..
 
 
So after some lovely relaxed play type activities on the first day, I tell the students we are going to learn to read. They first look shocked but then excitement kicks in! I tell them they are SO CLEVER now and that part of coming to school means learning to read. I make sure they are settled, paying attention and reassure them that I will help them every step of the way.
 
I set up my sentence maker and tell them about the 'starting star' - which shows us where we start reading from and place it on the far left. Reinforce that the starting star shows us where to start (I use the starting star idea for the first term of kinder).
 
Then I get the cards out. I scratch my head a little, say 'I can't remember how these go" and read them as I place them in the sentence maker. I DO NOT try to teach 'sounding out' or word recognition skills at this stage. Your students will be first learning to read sight words by sight - they will see the WHOLE WORD and the shape of it. They will certainly not be up to looking 'through' the word at the individual letters, or thinking about the individual letters within the word. Some may, but most won't, and the focus of this activity is FUN! My students basically learn to read this by memory/rote, but pick up valuable beginning reading skills along the way.
 
So I put the words in random order and then tell them about the full stop (period for USA) at the end - and how it is her job to stop words from falling off the sentence.
 
I then tell the students that I will show them how to read. I make a big exaggerated effort to point to the starting star and say 'I remember we start here' and then point to each word reading it along the line. I then look at them with a very pleased look on my face, expressing that I am very clever that I have just read the sentence. They are normally laughing at this point, because of course my sentence does not make sense. I repeat a few times and eventually a few students will know what order the words should be in, and they come to help me.
 
 
 
 
We then have the words in the correct order and I again, do the exaggerated point and read it again. I then ask them to help me read and we read it together. I ask each child to come to the front of the class and point and read, giving them a huge high-5 when they 'read' for the first  time. They are always VERY excited.
 
This stays up in the classroom for the rest of the day. We practise on and off for the whole day - it only takes a minute, I will just say "oh boys and girls, help me to read again" and point to the words, and we are off again. The more times you get them to look and read the words, the better. I always sneakily mix them up and see if a student notices and can put them back in order, of course, reading it out when they have finished.
 
 
 
The students complete a little reading worksheet to take home with them. I tell them that they can show their family how clever they are and read to them. They write their name, and colour the picture to match their new school uniform. We then practise quite a few times, at our desks, reading the "I go to school" sentence.
 
You can download these worksheets for free from google drive, by clicking on the images below.
 
 
 
 
 
I spend the first whole week of Kindergarten (sometimes 2 weeks, depending on the abilities within my class) - learning with the "I go to ..." sentence structure.
 
You can begin to teach reading/writing strategies like spaces bewteen words, capital letters, left to right progression, full stops etc
 
After we have done "I go to school" you can use the sentence maker and cards to introduce other words, such as 'church', 'Mum", 'Dad" - and show them how easy it is to make a new sentence by switching one word out.
 
Please remember that this idea is carried out with lots of support, enthusiasm and it is lots of fun. I do not put any pressure of the students. It has always worked beautifully in my classroom and I never forget the looks of excitement and accomplishment on my students faces when they know that they have learnt to 'read' on the first day of school!
 
Later in the next few weeks, I of course, explain to the students that there is also more to learn about reading. And sadly, there will be one or two students that come back the next day and say "my mum said that's not reading' - but on the whole, it is a very positive way to start their journey at school!
 
I have also put together this little packet of writing activities, that incorporates using the "I go to school' pattern. I am working on a whole series of these weekly writing books/readers at the moment. I would probably only use the Day 1 to Day 3 activities in this packet, in the first week of kinder, but again, it would depend in the abilities within the classroom. It is also FREE for you!
Find it HERE




Wednesday, 23 January 2013

First Kindergarten Craft + Crunch'n'Sip


This week I am sharing some ideas for the first weeks of teaching Kindergarten. This little creation is an adaptation of something I have done for the last 5 or 6 years. Again, it goes very well with the 'school days' unit of work that we complete here in NSW. As part of the unit we talk about what makes school different from home, and part of that is wearing a school uniform! The first day of Kindergarten is the first time many of our students will have worn a uniform and it is always nice to tell them how wonderful they look and how impressed you are with the care they have taken to wear their uniform correctly.

This printable packet will provide you with all the templates for your students to make their own 'school kid' and create a uniform to match. You will need to implement a mini-lesson on discussing the uniform and how all our clothes look the same. Believe it or not, I have had some children that fail to notice. Not that it shocks me so much anymore, it is A-MAZING what our beautiful little people fail to see - they only see the important things!


Once each piece is cut and coloured...


It can then be pasted together... You can also use the writing template we have provided to turn this craft into a writing lesson. Students will practise writing their name and cut/paste an "I go to school" sentence.


In NSW schools, we participate in a Crunch'n'Sip program to encourage more students to eat raw vegetables and fruit, and sip water through the morning session.

We have included an apple, water bottle and additional writing activity should you like to turn this into a 'crunch'n'sip' awareness activity!


You can find this printable file HERE





Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Great Books to Read in the First Week of Kindergarten

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I am writing some posts this week about getting ready to teach Kindergarten.

Schools in Australia return around Jan 30th for the beginning of a brand new school year. That means many excited 5/6 year olds ready to begin their journey at big school... and perhaps a few nervous teachers, having Kindergarten for the first time.

My blogging friend Brooke, over at Teachable Moments is having Kinder this year, and her post tonight about books spurred me on to share the ones I read.
 
When I teach Kindergarten I like to take a "School" box of books, pictures and posters to work. They help to teach our "School Days" unit of work. Our unit of work runs for ten weeks and it is a great way to introduce the children to the formalities of 'big school'.

This box of books is more for story reading time, where the students can relax and just enjoy being read to, without any formal and structured 'teaching about text' that I would do with big books in our main literacy session. I read these as lesson breaks and before/after bell times.
 
I read LOTS! Books are a great way to settle students and also start to build a 'community' in your classroom. The children learn to respond to your voice as a teacher, and they provide a platform for lots of discussion, sharing of opinions and learning about boring things like school rules! "Shared experiences" are perfect learning tools in a classroom and a shared story is a simple, yet exciting experience for kinder children in their first weeks.

Here are some of the books I take OFF my daughter's book shelf and pack into the car!
 
 

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They include:

1. The First Day of School by Toby Forward
2. I Am Too Absolutely Small for School by Lauren Child
3. My Mum Goes to Work by Kes Gray (and we talk about how the children now have a 'fun work' to go to)
4. Kindergarten With Teddy Bear by Jacqueline McQuade
5. The Dinosaur Who Wouldn't Go to School by Michael Salmon
6. Grug Goes to School by Ted Prior
7. Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
8. Possum Goes to School by Melanie Carter (a favourite!)
9. Franklin is Lost by Paulette Bourgeois
10. Who's Behind the Door? At My School by Michael Salmon
11. The kinder Hat by Morag Loh
12. First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg
13. Franklin Goes to School by Paulette Bourgeois
14. Don't Eat the Teacher by Nick Ward
15. Please Play Safe by Margery Cuyler (great for talking about playground rules)
16. Kindergarten by Jacqueline Rogers
17. Eight by Lyn Lee & Kim Gamble (great for talking about feeling safe without familiar things)

Some of these stories are better than others, and to tell you the truth, if I see a book with 'school' or 'kindergarten' as the subject or title, I will most likely buy it to add to the collection.

I arrange them on a table-library in the classroom for a few weeks, so the students can look through during free reading time.

 
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The "Who's Behind the Door? At My School" book provides the stimulus for a wonderful activity I do with the students.
 I take them on a tour of the school and knock on each classroom door. We talk about the teacher, the classroom and take a photo! The teacher in the room says a few nice words to the children and we wave good-bye. The next day, I have ready, a hand made book, similar to this one in structure, with each page folding out to reveal which teacher is 'behind the door'. The children LOVE it and it is a great way to introduce them to all the new faces at school.
 
 
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I read books like "If You're Happy and You Know It" by Jane Cabrera - as they lead into movement and singing activities that are well known by the students. I also incorporate this song into my behaviour management by singing "If You're Ready and You Know It, Sitting Down" (clap clap).. "If You're Ready and You Know it Cross Your Legs" ".....eyes to me"... etc - basically singing what I want them to do. It works very well!
 
 
 Worksheets like the ones in our 'Back to School Worksheets' packet are great to use with these sorts of books in the first weeks of school.
With this printable file, you can create a booklet of 12 pages that will allow your students to draw or write some simple things about school.
Each page is clear, uncluttered and perfectly simple enough for kinders to finally start some big-school-work but not be overwhelmed.
For some of the activities, you may need to scribe some ideas for the students, while others have room for illustrations.

You can find it at
TeacherspayTeachers HERE
and
Teachers Notebook HERE
 
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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Starting with A - Teaching Kindergarten in the First Weeks

I had a lovely email through the week, from a lady that has been asked to teach Kindergarten here in Australia, for the very first time this year, when school starts on January 30. She purchased a few items from my website, but needed some more guidance. Where do I start? she pleaded asked...

Where to start with Kindergarten? Now that is a hard question! There is so much to cover in the first weeks, and really, it is best to take a relaxed approach in the first week at least, and just let the children get to know you. Start with lots of structured play experiences, so you can let the children play as they are used to doing in preschool, but also gently encouraging some classroom rules and structure. Remember, you don't have to have it all perfectly ready from the beginning - the beauty of introducing routines and procedures gradually, as it gives you time to prepare them and it can flow more naturally, as children develop them slowly and in response to a need in the classroom.

Have some basic worksheets and shared reading activities planned, as most students will be eager to start 'big school work' and will not settle until they have done some 'real school work'.

 I always start the year in Kindergarten with the short beginning letter sounds of the alphabet.

This had me thinking and got me very motivated to start something that has been on the From the Pond to do list since the very beginning. A letter-sound packet for each letter of the alphabet, including resources and activities to help teachers get through the week.

 I had never started these resource packets, as I could never find the clipart I wanted. I needed at least 6 images for each short letter sound of the alphabet. In my well-worn little 'ideas and to-do' notebook, is an entry for this idea, with 'drawing class' scribbled next to it, as I soon realised that I wanted to draw my own clipart, so it all had the same 'look and feel'. Seven years later, and I am finally ready. You may have noticed if you follow my graphics store on TpT that I have started making alphabet-themed bundles of graphics.

I have put together a bundle of resources that are perfect for helping you introduce the sounds of the alphabet to your students. Start with "a" ..... why? It is the most used letter of the alphabet. You can also begin some 'reading' activities very soon after you have introduced it, as you can tell your students it is also a word 'a'... then practise reading phrases
a dog
a cat
a pencil etc

I would follow the next week with 'm' as then you can start some work on blending, and show the students how 'a +m' will make 'am'.
Combine that with a few sight words, and you can get your teeth into some meaty reading lessons!

I am a dog.
I am a cat.
I am a pencil. etc.

Here is a sample of our 'Aa Packet'.

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My daughter and I had fun today completing a few of the activities.

A very simple astronaut cut and paste craft. This will help with having your students practise scissor control - nice big large fat line shapes to cut.


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The pieces have tabs for easy pasting.

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A little interactive reader is included. Students will need to cut and paste 'a' words and pictures to each page in their book. You will need to directly teach the sentence pattern "Look at the....".

Most kinder students in Australia are now coming to school with excellent school readiness and early literacy awareness and are ready to start basic level 1 readers like this almost straight away. However, if your students are not, this would make a lovely shared reading text that they could take home and use with their family.

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Also in the packet are word cards, worksheets, homework and  handwriting guide cards  to help teach phonics all week.


Here is a list of things I start to get organised each year, in my last week of summer break, to prepare for my lovely kinders. It takes the most part of a week.

This is a straight cut and paste ut of my Day Planner files - I keep it as a list in my planner and cross off each one as it is done. And the list ALWAYS grows!

It may help some of you start to think about getting organised.

Yeah - teachers and all those holidays!
To get Ready for Kinder
Write Program
Prepare Day Planner
Prepare Communication Book/Diary
Arrange Furniture in Room
Clean teachers desk, shelves, tote trays
Wash all toys and home corner clothes
Wash equipment tubs
Check labels on tubs and trays
Make Home Reading Folders
Prepare a Bumper Note/welcome note to parents
Prepare/Photocopy Phonics Sound Books
Prepare and display Word Wall
Prepare and hang Alphabet Frieze
Add Paper to all Walls and door for decoration
Make a Welcome Poster to welcome the children and families
Make a poster of photos of children & buddies
Gather resources for Starting School Resource box (books, posters etc)
Organise Kinder Parent Morning Tea
Make resources for Phonics learning (word boxes, bags, flashcards)
Prepare/purchase Pencils, Glue, Scissors, Trays for desks
Make Sight Word Flashcards and sort into order of teaching
Prepare Best Start Testing record sheets
Organise teacher desk & shelf
Make a Smiley Board Poster/Rules Poster
Label all text books
PHOTOCOPY
HSIE Books
Handwriting Booklet
Visual Discrimination
Sight Word Cards
Phonics Little Sound Books Letter Tiles - copy, cut and order in teacing order
Guided Writing
Student Of The Week
Write out Birthday Cards for the year
Copy Behaviour Slips
Phonics Activity Sheets
Book Covers
First Week worksheets
Play Group Stencils
Visual Arts
Well, there are a few ideas for direction in the first few weeks of Kindergarten. I have quite a few more blog posts ready to cover other aspects of getting ready for the school year, especially in Kindergarten, so stay tuned.
Have a great Monday!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Five Fab Friday Freebies (Fonts Edition)

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Each Friday we do a 'Five Fab Friday Frogspot Freebies' post to feature some great teacher resources we have found through the week.
 
Today I thought I would feature five of my current favourite fonts - that are fabulous and free!

Although these fonts are free to download, they may have special terms-of-use associated with them for commercial use, so check to make sure before you use them.

The "FSF" fonts can be found at our graphics blog, on the right sidebar for download
and the KG fonts can be found over at Kimberly Geswein's blog. I have the KG site on my favourites bar and check in daily!
 
Frog Spot Five Freebies

I would love to know your current favourite font - be sure to leave a comment and let me know!



Thursday, 17 January 2013

Owl Always Love You Printable Cut and Paste





I just made this cute little


 "Owl Always Love You"

printable paper craft - for no other reason than I have owls, hearts and craftivities on my mind at the moment - oh, and I need to entertain 4 little girls tomorrow that LOVE all things cut and paste....

....and the other half of From the Pond and I share a very special anniversary today - and I will definitely owl-ways love him!


It would be perfect for Valentine's Day in the classroom with students taking it home to surprise someone they love!


Download it HERE from Teachers pay Teachers.

Another thing I will owl-ways love is Mrs Wills Kindergarten blog! She has a wonderful 2 year blog birthday post happening - if for some reason you have not seen it (quite unlikely), head over to read it! Deedee rocks!

Ok, enough of the owl-ways already. Have fun my friends :)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Snow and Tell Tuesday

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I REALLY wanted to link up with Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade today for Snow Show and Tell Tuesday!
She has a winter theme for her linky today, and let me tell you, it's hard to think about winter here in Australia right now - we are having some of the hottest weather we have had for a few years.

This is a photo of the ONLY time I have seen snow. The photo (me on the far right) is with my beautiful mumma and sister. We visited a place in Australia called The Snowy Mountains, in July, many many years ago... It was one of my favourite trips. We did not have a grand lifestyle when we were younger, but my parents saved hard to give us a few very memorable vacations. On this one we stayed with a whole group of friends in share accommodation - it was so much fun as we always had lots of kids t o play with. Even though we were at the snow, we had very warm weather on this day, and I think the snowman may not have lasted much longer!

I have made this little set of Snow Fight cuties if you need some clipart to inspire your own winter themed resources. Find them HERE at TpT!

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Hop over too Denise's blog to find more great Show & Tell Tuesday links!

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Monday, 14 January 2013

Look Read Check Cover Write Read Check... Arrghhhh!

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How do you teach your students to WRITE sight words? I usually spend the first half of the Kindergarten school year concentrating on the READING of sight words. Of course, I expose the children to strategies for spelling 'tricky' words... but it is not until the remaining half of the year that I teach explicitly, how to spell sight words.

I have tried many different activities - especially multi-sensory fun things like finger painting, writing in sand, rainbow writing and making words with blocks and magnetic letters. We do all of these activities from the beginning of the year with cvc words and other phonetically regular words.

When it is time for sight words, you can't go much further than the old Look, Cover, Write, Check method - and as my blog post title suggests, I am often fumbling around trying to remember what it is called. At least I always remember that there is both the acts of covering up and trying to remember the letters... in order. 

Because, lets face it.. when you peel all the fancy, pansy, fun and fantastic games and activities away, in the end, it is the visual memory of the word we are trying to get children to create. I love trying to keep my sight word activities fancy and fun at the beginning of the week, but by Friday, we are looking at a black word on a white page, with no much else! That IS where we are headed after all isn't is?!

So, I am often found, rummaging around in my perfectly ordered, filled to capacity filing cabinets, looking for that master of the 'Look,Check,Write,Look,Thingy' that I used last year... and then end up giving the children scraps of paper and get them to 'cover' with their hand...

So, in a flurry of enthusiasm, I put together a little packet of 'Read Cover Write' worksheets that feature 100 of the most commonly used sight words. There are 5 words on each page.

You start by copying 2 pages, back to back. The worksheet, and a 'peek-preventer' page that goes on the back (this way, you can't see the words through the page) - there are little smiley faces, and words that say 'no peeking'. This page is optional, but it works great and I highly recommend it.
 

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Then fold over the edge along the dotted 'fold' line....see the 'no peeking' pattern on the back :)
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Fold back and cut along the dotted lines to create flaps....
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Fold all the flaps over to conceal the words...(after reading them of course)...
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Open one word at a time, read it again, cover it up, then WRITE it - using your wonderful visual memory!
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To make this a longer and more challenging activity, you can copy some additional writing pages to make a little pad to staple on the worksheet..
 
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Staple the pad over the lines on the worksheet, and ask your students to write their list of words 3 or 4 times for practise. The staples go down the bottom of the page.
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Too easy - now you can be all set for teaching the spelling of sight words! We have included a bonus blank page so that you can use the same format for any list of words you would like your students to learn!
If you would like to check it out, I am selling it at Tpt for $4,  HERE