Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Spring Spell It Freebie!!

        So once again, I find myself back at my blog after a loooonnng absence.  This time, I have a really good excuse. :)  Here he is! This sweet boy has been keeping me busy.  Now that he is 10 months old and taking naps longer than half an hour :), I finally feel like I can get back to creating things for school and sharing what's going on with all of you.

Photo Copyright Jenny Kerola. 2016.
        Spring is here in Kansas, and I absolutely love it.  The daffodils are starting to bloom and so are some of the flowering trees.  So, I wanted to share with you a really simple, low-prep game I created a while ago to help students practice spelling words.  This simple game board can be used with any spelling words, sight words, word family/pattern words, etc.  If you use Words Their Way, this is the perfect game to throw into your weekly routines with almost no prep.  It is pretty much what that program refers to as a "blind sort," just with a game board to keep track of the number of correctly spelled words.

Click on the picture to download this freebie from my TPT store.
Click on the picture to download this freebie from my TPT store.
       Here's how it works.  Each pair of students needs one copy of the game board, a set of word cards, and two game pieces.  You print out (or have students write on index cards for extra practice) the words you want students to use to play.  Better yet, again if you use Words Their Way, you could just make extra copies of the word sort for the week and have kids cut them out to use.  This is a fabulous way to differentiate their spelling and word work practice, too.  Not all of your students have to use the same words!

        Basically, students take turns picking a card and reading it aloud to their partners.  Their partner spells the word without looking at the card using word patterns they know, from memory, etc.  If they spell it correctly, they get to advance to the next circle on the board. If not, they just leave their game piece where it was.  This continues until one player makes it from the bird to the nest.

       You could make this a new staple during your word study or centers time by just switching out the words each week, and you have a constant activity that takes very little prep or teaching time.  Once students know how to play, they can use the same game boards over and over again with different words.

       To add a little more fun and novelty to the game, I picked up some spring erasers at Target in the dollar section.  Students can use these as game pieces! :)

       I hope you can use this simple freebie to change up your spelling practice and keep your students engaged during this time of year when we all know they can get a little squirmy! :)



Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Made It- Daily Five and Burlap


     Hey there!  This week's post is actually a combination of some things I've worked on over the last couple of weeks because in reality, I spent the past week helping my parents **begin** to go through, sort, and pack up their house after living their for 20 years.  It's bittersweet as that's the house I pretty much grew up in.

     I've got a mix of things I've made for home and for school this week.

      For school, I had a request to make a Daily Five matching set to go with the Coffee Shop Daily Cafe pack I already have in my TPT store.  That pack includes headings and strategy cards for all of the components of CAFE- comprehension, accuracy, fluency, and expand vocabulary.  In my classroom, I used these like an anchor chart for my students to refer to after each strategy was introduced.  They loved it! It's a play on the CAFE menu metaphor and it really helped my first graders understand what the CAFE menu was because they could compare it to a menu like when they go to a coffee shop or restaurant with their parents. They understood that they could use it as readers like a menu to choose a strategy to try out.
You can click on the pic to check it out.
     So, I created this new Coffee Shop Daily Five Pack.  The Daily Five has some great ideas for how to launch the school year and help build independence in your students.  The Coffee Shop Daily Five pack includes all the basics you need to launch any or all of the Daily Five routines, with cute coffee shop graphics.  Here are a few sample pictures from the pack.  Click on any of the pics below to check it out.

     I also bundled The Daily Five and Cafe packs together so you can purchase them in one large file at a discount.  Check that out here or by clicking on the pictures below.


     For home, I got out some burlap and made a few lot of burlap flowers to embellish two plain white lampshades I have in our family room.  I read a few tutorials on Pinterest and then just tried a couple of different methods until I got something that I liked.

     For each flower, I used:
  • about a 2 inch white circle of felt 
  • a strip of burlap- 
    • I found that a little wider strip worked better- about 2 3/4 inches wide. 
  • hot glue 
     First I glued down a corner of the burlap in the center of the felt circle.  Then, I folded the strip in half and just began turning it around the circle, putting dabs of glue as I went.  Every so often, I would fold the burlap over and glue it down.  I ended up with something like the this-

    Finally, I glued all of the flowers to the bottom of the lampshade with hot glue.

     I still need to find some rhinestones or something sparkly for the middle of the flowers, but it's much less plain already. :)

     Hope you have a very Happy Monday!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Burlap Banners Monday Made It!

      I'm baaaaack! So, I know I haven't blogged in almost a year (yikes) but I am getting back on track and am so excited to continue as a I begin a new role this coming school year.  Last year, I moved half way across the country, taught a different grade level, bought a house, began updating the house, etc.  It was a busy time.  This year, I will be the literacy instructional coach/reading teacher for our primary grade levels.  I am so pumped to be able to work with the primary grades in such a focused way.  So, please stick with me as I begin yet another new journey.  Oh....I almost forgot.  My time away from the blog also included a trip to Hawaii to kick off my summer break. :) Ah. maze.  ing.

Me at a memorial site for a tidal wave.  The turquoise water was so beautiful.

        Alright, so something you may not know about me is that I have a slight obsession with burlap.  Not because it's trendy, but because it's natural and airy.  I have made a few burlap banners for different holidays to decorate around the house, but I wanted to make one for my new room at school.  To fit my new role, I made a "Read" banner in my favorite color. Although it fits my color scheme, I won't leave it on my mantel. ;)

     It's hard to tell in the pic but I added glitter to the polka dots.  Here's a quick recap of how I did it:

  • I cut out a template for the banner pieces with my Silhouette Cameo.  Then I traced it onto my burlap and cut out 6 of them.
  • I painted the banner pieces with acrylic paint.  This also helps to seal it so it doesn't continue to fray.  The color is called "Caribbean."  It reminds me of Hawaii- which I know is not in the Caribbean, but you get the idea. :) 
  • Next, I cut out letters using my Cameo again so I could stencil them on.
  • Once the aqua was dry, I used the hot glue gun to attach them to the twine.  I left a foot on each end to hang it from.
  • I cut off any remaining fringe pieces.  Then, I stenciled on the word 'read' using white acrylic paint and my card stock stencils from the Cameo.
  • I used a circle foam brush for the polka dots.
  • When the dots were still wet, I added glitter.  

    Without drying time, it took me a little over an hour to finish.  Stay tuned to where it ends up in my room as I begin to organize and put it together.  Happy Monday!


Friday, October 25, 2013

Five for Friday- Jack Frost Came

      TGIF!  I am so excited to be able to link up to the Five for Friday linky party...mostly because that means it's finally Friday. :)

Five random things from this week...

1.  Jack Frost came today!

So, as we did the weather today during morning meeting, one of my students was sharing how she noticed ice on the grass this morning.  The other kids filled her in that this is called frost.  

One of the little girl's in my class shot her hand in the air.  "Mrs. Kerola, guess what?  Something weird happens every time there is frost outside.  A visitor comes."  (She is so animated and cute!)  I asked her who visited and she said, in a very matter of fact, how could you not know this kind of way, "Jack Frost!"

2.  The Great Candy Corn Race

We started studying long vowels more in depth this week, and we focused on the long a sound.  Next week I'll introduce long i and I have a super fun, festive game for the kids to play.  I have updated the game and you can get it in my TPT store.  Click on the picture below to check it out.

Students draw a card and get to move their candy corn game piece around the board, trying to lay down their cards as they find words with matching vowel sounds (long or short i).  The person with the most cards at the end of the game wins!

3.  Pumpkin Math Freebie

I found a great freebie (that I did not make) to use next week on Halloween for math.  The kids have to measure the height in cubes, count the seeds, and count the lines on the pumpkin.  Thanks Hiba Mustafa for the free resource!  You can click on the picture below to get a copy.

4.  Frog and Toad Together- a classic.

We finished reading the chapter called Cookies yesterday, and my kids were so disturbed that Frog joined in and ate the cookies, too because he has always been the nice, responsible one so far.  Love us some Frog and Toad.

5.  Halloween costume- what should I be?

       Alright, I could use some suggestions.  My new school does a Halloween parade, and so I have to dress up at school.  I need something fun, easy, and cheap.  One of my team teachers suggested we go as dominoes.  What do you think? Ready....go. :)


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Our Schema's Like a Web!

       This week we had a very short week with kids because of conferences.  So, in reader's workshop all we had time for was to introduce schema and begin to think about what is already in our schema.  The book Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor has some great ideas about to introduce the concept of schema and is a really easy read. It also has lots of pics of charts. :)  Click on the pic below to check it out.

       I used her analogy of a spider web to help kids understand that our schema,or background knowledge, is unique to us based on our own experiences.  They totally got it.

       First we talked about what they know about spider webs....they are sticky, they catch bugs, and they can get bigger and bigger as the spider keeps spinning.  Then, I told them that that's just like our schema.  It catches everything new that we do and learn and it just keeps on growing!

       We added our ideas about what schema is to our chart (just the top half).


        Then, today I shared some things in my schema and explained that it's probably different from everyone else's because I have had different experiences.  They each got a sticky note to add one thing from their own schema and stick it on our web.  Here are two of my favorites.

"Dogs like to growl at loud things." 
(don't you love the phonetic spelling, especially when they can't make the 'th' sound yet?) 
"Bugs are gross!" (We are still working on sight word 'are').

I have no idea why those pictures do not appear exactly centered.  Grr...

         Finally, we decided to add a sentence on the bottom that would explain why there was a spider web on our chart for anyone that comes into our room.  

"Our schema sticks to our brain like bugs stick to a web!

Have a great night!


Monday, September 30, 2013

Math Monday 2: The Very Hungry Caterpillar

       Math Monday 2: Short and sweet.  Last week we finished up our first math unit, which was focused on counting accurately, solving story problems, and fluency with plus or minus one from any number up to 10.  Some of my students are still working on fluency and I am creating a couple of games to help them practice.  But, I wanted to share with you a few tidbits from our story problem work.

        The kids really came a long way in a short time.  Recording their work was really challenging in the beginning but many of them made huge gains in being able to accurately solve an addition story problem and show their work.

        One activity that we did that they absolutely loved was based on The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.  We read the book and made a list of all of the fruit that he ate as we read.

      Then, students were given the task of figuring out how many pieces of fruit he ate altogether.  We briefly discussed some ideas for tools they might use and strategies they could try.  Each student worked independently to figure it out and at the end of class we shared strategies.  A few students even wrote which strategy they used to show their work.

She started at 5 and counted on to 15!

She showed all of the pieces of fruit and counted each one.  She wrote, "I count all."

This one is from a student who could not accurately count a set of 20 objects at the beginning of the year.  When I asked him to draw 20 circles, he drew 36 and counted them for me and said there was 20.  He didn't have any one to one correspondence.  A few short weeks later, he accurately solved this problem and showed his work. :)

       When all of them finished, I put all of their work up on our bulletin board so that they could see all of the different strategies and ways to show their work.  This is part of that board.  Sorry about the blurry photo.  I took it quickly with the ipad.

            Alright, that's it for now.  We are now in our second unit which is on geometry.  So, I'll be back next Monday to share some of our work from that.

Have a great week!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Math Mondays: A Beginning Look into First Grade

       I have been thinking about doing a series for a while and so I'm excited to start one today called Math Mondays (super creative, I know). :)  I plan to post about anything that has to do with primary math and is Common Core related, so please check back each Monday to see what's new.

       Let's do a quick recap of the first 22 days of school.  Yup, I am so jealous of happy for all of my friends who didn't start until after Labor Day and have only been in school for about 10 days. ;)  Okay, so we started out the year just getting to know our different math tools and thinking about what math is.  We launched the year by thinking about what we already know about math.  Here's what my first graders came up with...some great ideas and misconceptions.

           The Post-its are hard to read but here are a few of their thoughts: math is fun, cool, learning about shapes, about numbers, 100, etc.  A misconception- math is letters.  It will be interesting to come back to this later in the year and see how their thinking has changed.

            They had time to explore the math tools and figure out how
we can use them to help us with math.

          The first few weeks we spent a lot of time practicing counting accurately and comparing numbers.  They played lots of games to practice these skills.  So, they are working toward Common Core State Standard 1.NBT.1- Count to 120, starting at any number and 1.NBT. and 1.NBT.3- Compare two two-digit numbers based on place value.  Obviously, the beginning of first grade activities are just laying a foundation for proficiency in these two standards.
         One of their favorite activities was re-creating the number line on a string.  I gave each student a number, and we put the number 0 and the number 30 on the ends of our number line as benchmarks.  Students had to tell where their numbers went on the number line and how they knew.  They worked hard on using the language greater than and less than when explaining their thinking.

        In the bottom picture, you can see that she was having difficulty figuring out if she should put 15 before or after the 12 that was already on the number line.  We took some time to think about the following as a class:  Is 15 larger or smaller than 12?  Does it come before or after 12 when we count? The life size number line is an activity that we will do over and over again because it is great practice in counting, ordering, and comparing numbers.  It could easily be adapted and used in many ways.  A couple of ideas for adapting the life size number line activity include:
  • counting by 2s, 5s, 10s
  • using a different range of numbers (i.e. 1-5 or 1-10 for kindergarten, larger numbers for higher grades or later in the school year)
  • providing different benchmark numbers each time 
  • solving a story problem whole group on the number line
       Finally, I introduced solving story problems in the last week and a half.  This meets standard 1.OA.1.  We started by orally doing a few problems whole group over a few days and then students solved problems independently.  At the end of each class where they solve story problems, we have a discussion about strategies.  Here is a chart we created together during one of the discussions.  I intentionally began by asking a student who counted all to share because it is the most basic strategy.  Then, I led them through the discussion by choosing students who used higher level strategies like counting on and making a ten.  As students share their strategy, I record their thinking on our class chart.

           Alright, I have more to share but I'll save it for next time.  I would love to hear about activities you do with your classes to help them practice counting and comparing numbers.