October Favorites

October’s almost over!  Here are some of my favorites from this month.

How cute is the button?  It’s from a kit by Valerie Wibbens.

1.  Can’t make these often enough.  So so so yummy.  Stick them the batter in a mini muffin pan and you’ve got deliciousness in under 20 minutes.
2.  I'm reloving Loft.  I went in the other day because they were having a 50% off sale.  I noticed they had a basket of Loft Loves Teachers cards.  Their teacher discount of 15% always aggravated me because it was off full price items.  No thanks, people, I'll just wait for a sale.  But this time, they gave me the discount on top of the sale.  And it was awesome.  One of my favorite items was this floaty blouse.  I wore it with a gray cardigan, black pants, and my copper snakeskin Tieks.   Sassy!
That's a real life picture of me.
Okay.  That's not true.

3.  Loving these sweet girls.  This snuggle time never happens because the one on the right is a cranky old lady.  Bless her heart.

4.  Encouraging Wednesdays
Wow.  Wow wow wow wow wow.  Encouraging Wednesdays is a series brought to you by Jenny from French Press Morning.  Her work is so beautiful.  I want to crawl in her brain and have those ideas in my head, too.  That's not creepy, right?

Look how gorgeous:

She offers 4x6s as free downloads on her blog.  Want something bigger? Visit her store.  I haven't bought anything yet because choosing not the entire store is proving to be a little difficult.

And Then One Day I Taught Kindergarten . . .

I can’t even believe I’m writing this, but today I’m sharing some kindergarten resources I used recently.

For real.

I’m subbing this year and was asked to be a tutor at my school.  I said no because I didn’t want to commit to 4 days a week.  That kind of defeats the purpose of quitting your job to be more supportive of your family.  They hadn’t found someone yet, so I agreed to do it for two weeks.

That was on a Friday afternoon.  I started on Monday.  No biggie, I’ve taught 2nd/3rd/4th before.  Cruised through my attic and found enough stuff to make it for two weeks.

Favorite reading apps for kindergarten
Around 7:45 on Monday morning, I learned that one of my groups had been switched for a Kindergarten group.  I had zero point zero minutes to make an alphabet chart and site word cards, so I turned to my best friend-my iPad.  There are some seriously great beginning reader apps out there.  The upper elementary teacher in me is very jealous.

I’m sharing these resources in the same way that I share everything.  It’s just a hey, here’s what I found, not a statement of expertise.  I am the last person in the world that will claim to know anything about kindergarten.  I’m still surprised every time I type the word that there isn’t a d in it.  Anyway, here are some of the apps I found:

ABC Magic

Site Words


Sound Beginnings

I’ve also pulled some Joy Cowley books.  As wonderful as apps are, readers need to read books.  However, I’m loving these apps because they’re good and the kids are so engaged while we’re using them.  Also, there is one little boy who doesn’t make a peep outside of reading the book or saying a letter/sight word, but that sweet little face lights up when the Lakeshore app chimes and tells him “Great job!”  

Just a Little Post It

Some lessons take days worth of prep.  But sometimes all you need is just one little post it note.

Use just one post it to help your first grade writers keep their small moments small.
I worked in a first grade classroom last week.  I loved teaching writing and was excited the class was working on small moments.  I know two things that are complete true about first graders and writing.

1.  If you let first graders draw before they write, they will never get around to writing.
2.  If you let first graders talk, they will never get around to writing.

BUT, I also know these two things to be true.

1.  If you let first graders draw before they write, their stories will be more focused and detailed.
2.  If you let first graders talk, the telling of their story is a great rehearsal for their writing.

How do you work with these opposing truths to get your kiddos writing?  Because they're both 100% true.
Use just one post it to help your first grade writers keep their small moments small.
First, I started by sketching my small moment.  I sketched quickly, and in pencil.  We discussed how these are not masterpieces, but a way to keep our story focused on the moment.  We also noticed how I did not wake up and eat breakfast in the picture.  ; )

Then, I practiced telling the story to them.  This is an important step to connect to writing.  Kids tell great stories.  Then they write, "This is the time my dog chewed up her toy."  I told them that if you can tell a good story, you can write a good story because writing is just taking words from the air and putting them on paper.

After that, I wrote my story.  No pictures of that.  Oops.  The kids sketched and discussed their stories.  After that, it was voices off and time to write.  And you know what?  Everybody did.  There was no, "I don't know what to write."  I did encourage them to describe what they saw and add in thoughts or feelings.

How do you get your kiddos focused on a moment?

Five on the Fifth

I love teaching in October.  Everything is starting to {finally!} come together, and you're beginning to think just maybe you will survive this school year.  It's the fifth day of the month, which can only mean one thing on this blog.  It's time for . . .
If you're new around here, these posts show off the heart of teaching blogs-the sharing of really great ideas.  Five on the Fifth even has its very own Pinterest board.  You can follow it here.

Getting kids to move beyond "nice" and "mean" when it comes to teaching character can be challenging. I loved this idea from Teaching 3rd with Mr. G.  He got his students to thinking about characters as more than just a list of adjectives.  Which is pretty much impossible.

Mary at Fit to be Fourth will have you mad about taxation without representation once you see this activity.  I cannot imagine a child that wouldn't love this activity and have a meaningful connection to events that were 250 years ago.  Since it's probably illegal to collect money for fourth graders, she used Smarties instead.

I've been in rooms where this is a total nonissue and rooms where it has driven me crazy.  If your lamination has got a crazy glare going on, Melissa from Common Core and So Much More has a solution for you.  

I hate when I see really cute, simple activities that I never thought of myself.  You look at them and go duh-cute, simple, and kid friendly.  This happened to me at Collaboration Cuties.  I only taught weather for 8 years.  Dang it.

Kids need art.  I don't how much room your curriculum makes for it, but sneak it in anyway you can.  We are very lucky that our school district if very supportive of art programs.  Our superintendent feels that these are the types of programs that keep kids in school when they may not want to stay there.  He's kind of a smart man.  
I love this project that Kimberly from The Learning Tree shared.  Stop by her blog and see how she got her kids to not be perfectly matchy matchy and freehand something.