Big Ideas for Little Hands: July 2015

Assess Me: Get to Know Me Linky

Hey guys! Today I'm linking up with Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher for a fun get to know me linky! Head on over to her blog to meet some new teachers. And scroll down to learn some facts about me in a fun assessment style!

Emergent Guided Reading

Hey guys! Today I am teaming up with my awesome group of #GuidedReadingGals that I have been working with over the summer to bring you an amazing book study! Now it is my turn to host Chapter 3!

Have I mentioned lately how much I love this book! It has me so excited to go back and start reading groups! Now I know in Kindergarten we don't start Guided Reading on the first day of school. But when we do, this time I will be ready! Chapter 3 is all about those Pre-Readers and beginning readers. Perfect for Kindergarten! Now Chapter 3 is a huge chapter and covers so much! So we decided to break it down into two parts so we didn't overwhelm you. Head on over to Marie's blog To read Part 1, Pre-A Readers.

Let's start with 3 things that I learned from this chapter. This is the hardest part for me because I have learned so many more things than just three but let's see if I can narrow it down to the three biggest things!

1. Text Selection - Selecting a text for these Emergent readers is crucial. Jan Richardson states that "books with repetitive patterns help students learn high-frequency words since the same words are usually repeated on every page." When selecting a book for an emergent reader, take the following into consideration:
  • the story makes sense
  • there is strong picture support
  • mostly familiar concepts
  • some repetitive phrases
  • some familiar sight words
  • one new sight word
Make sure the text does not have too many unfamiliar words or concepts because they may become frustrated while reading. But also make sure the text is not too easy because the children may memorize the pattern and not read the text. Using pointers may help students follow along with each word as they read instead of memorizing patterns in the text.

2.Sound Boxes -  I have used these in the past but usually in centers. I do not think that I fully utilized their potential in a small group setting. This is definitely one aspect I will add to my Guided Reading routine. Jan Richardson states that this is the most difficult activity for these learners. Students must hear some consonants and at least one vowel to be successful. This will take time for students to be able to complete independently.

There are many ways that you can use sound boxes. I wish I had more pictures for you so let me try to explain some ideas. Sound boxes can be done as simple as placing a sound box template in a sheet protector and having students write the sounds they hear for a given word in each box. Students can also use magnetic letters or letter tiles to place in each box for the sounds they hear. If students are not to write or use letter manipulatives, they can use three touch lights and touch a light while saying each sound they hear in the given word. We did a lot of sound boxes in centers with magnetic letters and the kids loved them! Definitely going to bring this to Guided Reading groups earlier in the year.

3. Guided Writing - Ok, honesty moment here. I never did Guided Writing during my Guided Reading time. I know, I know, teacher fail. I just honestly never thought about writing about the text during Guided Reading time. But after I read this book I was like, duh! Why didn't I add writing! So one goal for this upcoming school year, incorporate Guided Writing into my Guided Reading time. 

Jan Richardson states that "Guided writing provides the opportunity for students to write a simple sentence that has been carefully crafted to include some known sight words and other words that provide an opportunity for stretching sounds." Encourage students to take risks when they are spelling the words and write the sounds they hear. However, if it is a sight word that you have already taught, it should be spelled correctly. This is a great time for the student to show what they know and for you to see what needs to be worked on for the next meeting.

Now how are we going to use all of this amazing information in our classroom? Let me try to help and keep it simple for you. The first thing you need to do is get your materials. Make sure they are close by so you can easily grab everything without wasting valuable instructional time.

Now let's move on to the lesson plans. Jan Richardson maps out two days worth of lesson plans for your guided reading groups. I usually meet with my students two days a week so this is perfect. Occasionally I will have a chance to meet with them three days but I use the third day as a quick review, assessment, or fun activity.

  • Always begin your lesson with a quick sight word review. Jan suggests having students write three words that were previously taught. During this time, we do a 1 minute challenge where the students take turns reading as many sight words as they can in 1 minute and trying to beat their number from last time. They love it and get so competitive.
  • Introduce your story by stating the main idea then doing a story walk. Also use this time to introduce any new sight words or concepts.
  • Now it is time to read the story. Students should read the story independently, not chorally or round robin style. Guilty again, teacher fail #2. Teacher prompting is OK and talk students through unknown words.
  • This is the time when you teach the students a strategy to help them become better readers. Use strategies such as one-to-one matching, picture clues, get your mouth ready, cross check, etc.
  • Discussion prompt is not required but you may ask questions to deepen their comprehension. This is harder to do with easy readers.
  • Teach one new sight word using various games such as erasing a letter and ask what's missing, scramble the word and have students fix it, or write it with various tools.
  • Finally end your lesson with a quick word study. This can be done using picture sorts with beginning sounds, etc, word ladders, or sound boxes.

Day 2 is very similar to Day 1. We are building on what was done on the first day.
  • Review a different group of already learned sight words.
  • Have students reread the text independently. They may reread the text several times.
  • Review a strategy to help students become a better reader.
  • Teach the same sight word as taught in Day 1 but using a different game or method.
  • Have students write a simple dictated sentence using sight words already taught and words that require inventive spelling to help encourage students to write sounds they hear in the word.
Now I have found that trying to fit all of these activities into one lesson with my Kinders and keep their attention the entire time is very difficult at the beginning. We have to slowly build up to 20 minutes of Guided Reading stamina. Instead, I break these lessons into 3 days instead of two. I follow the same format except I leave the word study and guided writing for Day 3 and that is the focus of Day 3. My amazing friend Barbara made this super easy lesson plan template that has it broken into three days. She is letting me share it with you! If you would like a copy of this, click on the image below to download.
Earlier I said that one of my goals for this upcoming school year was focusing more on sound boxes during Guided Reading groups. To help me stick to this goal I created some sound box cards with pictures to use during Guided Reading groups. I separated the cards by short vowel sound so I could pull the cards for the sounds that I am focusing on. The cards are in color and black and white to help save on ink. You can check out the bundle here:
CVC Sound Boxes Bundle
You can also grab a freebie to try before you buy! The freebie includes 6 cards for each short vowel sound. If you download, I would love some feedback!


Now head on over to my other #GuidedReadingGals blogs to read more about Chapter 3!

Plan with Me Sunday: Stickers & a Giveaway!

I'm linking up with Meghan and Robyn again for Plan with Me Sundays! And this week is all about stickers! What teacher doesn't love stickers! There is also a freebie and a giveaway for an amazing Erin Condren planner!!!

Now I don't have a typical planner. I know, I know. I'm slacking in this department. But truth be told, I just haven't found one that I LOVE yet. I try to stay very simple when it comes to planner and most of the planners that I have found are full with great pages but it is kind of too much for me and a little overwhelming. So I am totally open to any suggestions that are simple, but still cute and fun. Because let's face it, if it's not cute and fun, I won't want to use it. So please, please, please, send me some ideas!!!

But until I find that PERFECT planner, I have fallen in love with Krista Wallden's Paper Collection Calendars. They are so cute and fun (just what I am looking for) and so easy to use! When I saw Krista add these to her store I knew I had to grab them. They are great to quickly see your week at a glance. I love how colorful they are!!

Ok, now on to the reason that you are here reading this post. Planning and stickers. Like I said earlier, I try to keep my planning simple. I was once told by an amazing friend that you should not spend a lot of time planning to plan. Majority of your time should be spent doing the activities and not planning your planner. I have tried to take that advice and keep my planner simple and quick to make each week. I can use do everything in less than 10 minutes!

Now this planner stays on my desk so I cannot take it with me, that's the ONLY downfall to the amazing calendar. So I keep the important events in my phone so I can look at everything at a glance. This is why I need a planner I can carry around with me!!! Ok, ok, back on track Julie.....

On this calendar, I keep important events, my gym schedule, blog posts, and cleaning schedule. I thought I would break the cleaning apart into different days because, honestly, who really wants to clean?!?!?! So I thought if I broke it up a little each day I wouldn't feel so overwhelmed and maybe would be able to keep up with it better. Can you believe that I already go back to work Monday!!!! Seriously, where did the summer go?!?!?!

Now with all of these things on one calendar, it can get kind of crowded and busy so this is where the stickers come in handy. I also keep my stickers simple. I don't want to spend hours planning, lining up, and printing stickers to match activities I am doing that week. That will definitely go over my 10 minute time limit. So I keep it simple and print a page of fun arrow and design stickers. I can use these every week with my weekly activities and just reprint the same page when I run out. Now how simple and easy is that! 

I use these fun arrows to "point" to the important events of the week so that I can see and notice those quickly and know the major points of the week. Everything else on the calendar is just the fun extras. If you want to keep your calendar/planner simple and easy you can grab my stickers for free! Just click on the image below. These images are from Krista Wallden

I printed these stickers on Avery 8164 labels and just cut out each sticker I used. If you buy the transparent labels then you won't have to worry about cutting them perfectly and that's a huge time saver too! Win!!! Hopefully these stickers will help jazz up your planner while still keeping it simple and fun!

Now head on over to find out more ways to use stickers in planners. Also don't forget to scroll down to enter to win an amazing Erin Condren planner! What better what to start the school year out than staying organized! Good luck!
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Five For Fraturday

Better late than never, right! I'm linking up for a super quick recap of my last week of summer break!!! Yes you read that right, I go back to work Monday!!! Where did my summer so! Seriously, I feel like summer break just got started. I a have very little crossed off of my to do list!! AHHHH!!! I'm not ready to go back!!! But in a way I am ready to start another adventure with a new group of kids. Now onto a recap of my last week of summer vacation Five for Fraturday style!


So this week, Haylee went off to camp for the entire week. Like sleep away camp where she didn't come home at night! So I had the house all to myself. Can we say quiet! It was nice for a little but then it was just way to quiet. I was so ready for her to come home yesterday! But she had a blast! She learned how to hunt, fish, drive a boat, and shoot a rifle. This was a seriously cool camp!

While she was gone, I got super busy in my classroom and I think it is almost ready to go. I have a few more finishing touches to put on it but overall it's ready to go. And this was the fastest I have ever put my room together! I think I am finally getting the hang of this decorating and setting up thing!

Now I did have a slight issue with a few flowers. But after my amazing supply clerk came to my rescue, I think they turned out amazing! Definitely will add some cheer into the classroom!

Since this was my last week of summer break I spent as much time at the gym as I could. Because we all know that once school starts back up, trying to do anything that is not school related almost seems impossible! So yes, I was that crazy girl at every class, morning and night, every day loving it!

While I was in Las Vegas, I met a new friend that used to teach at my school! What a small world! Well, she came to visit this week so we hung out a little bit on Friday. And what better place to hang out than at Mr. Greg's house for a Kindergarten SmorgasBOARD meeting! We had such an amazing time and met some new friends! We shared tips for back to school and just talked about teaching for almost 2 hours! It was amazing! And Greg and Jason were so awesome! Such a great time! We even got a year free of ESGI!!! Love!!!!

Last night, one of my very best friends that moved far far away cam to visit me!!! It was so great seeing her and catching up! We went out for dinner and dessert. And OMG that dessert was amazing! Just look at it!!! So sad to say goodbye again but enjoyed the short time we had together!

All About This Kinder Teacher Linky

Today I am linking up with an amazing new blog that I am happy to be a part of!!! This new blog is devoted to Kindergarten! How amazing is that! Head on over to Kinder Tribe to check it out! It's going to be amazing guys!
Today we are posting all about us! So scroll down to learn a little more about me!

Name: Yup, that's me!

Years teaching: My first teaching job was Pre-k and I taught that for 6 years. Now I am beginning my 4th year teaching Kindergarten next week!!!

I can't live without my: iPhone. I mean seriously guys, it's glued to my hand 24/7. I have to constantly see what is going on in the Facebook, Instagram, and now Periscope world. Guys these are so addicting and I am so loving this new Periscope app!!! I've only done two scopes but plan to do so much more when things calm down. Check me out at BigIdeasLittleHands.

Favorite school supply: Sharpies!!!! I think I have probably 3 or 4 of color ever made. I love the normal colors, the pastels, the neon's, the metallic's, everything! And I use them for everything that I can. I love my sharpies!

Image result for sharpies

Favorite Kinder book: Have you guys read the Elephant and Piggie books?!?!?! I knew about these books and never gave them a second thought. Then last year my favorite teaching buddy came and read one to my class and guys, I fell in love!!! She made it so amazing and exciting that me and my class absolutely loved it so what does any normal teacher do? They go out and buy every elephant and piggie book, lol. If you have not read these yet they are a must! 

Image result for elephant and piggie books

Favorite Kinder Blog: Guys, there's too many to name! I love so many!!! I think I stalk about 100 blogs weekly daily for fun ideas. Here is my top 7 and it was so hard to narrow it down to just that.

I love Kindergarten because: I love knowing that I have made a difference in a child's life. That ah-ha moment when a child figures out something they have been working on, that moment when they realize they can read, or write, is just simply the best feeling in the world. I love watching them grow and learn so much throughout the school year and I love making learning fun and exciting so they want to learn so much more! This is the best age ever!!!

Now head on over to Kinder Tribe to meet some more teachers!

Next Steps in Guided Reading: Assessment & Grouping

Hey guys! I'm teaming up again with the amazing #GuidedReadingGals for Chapter 2 of our book study The Next Steps in Guided Reading. This week the amazing Laura from Where the Magic Happens is hosting our book study. Go check out her page for a more in depth study on Chapter 2.

This week I want to focus on the assessment aspect. I know, I know. Assessment is like that dirty word in education. And believe me. I used to dread doing assessments. I felt like it took me forever to assess my kids and there was so many other valuable things I could have been doing instead.

Then one day after venting to a blogging buddy, she told me about this awesome program called ESGI. I wasn't ready to add one more assessment to my long list of assessments but I still gave it a try. And Oh-Em-Gee am I so glad that I gave this a shot! I was able to assess everything that I needed for our Kindergarten assessments! I was able to assess letter identification, letter sounds, sight words, and so much more! You can even quickly create your own assessments to fit what you need in your classroom. This has become a lifesaver for me.
The assessments are super quick and all done on the computer so you have no paperwork or flash cards to keep track of. After you assess your students you get these awesome pie graphs for the entire class and for each individual student. You can see what your students know and don't know at a quick glance without having to shuffle through thousands of papers or anything. Amazing right!

Ok, now what does this have to do with Guided Reading? Just bare with me. I promise I am getting there. Before you can begin Guided Reading Groups, you have to assess your students to see where they are and what they need to work on next. ESGI definitely helps you see where your students are as a whole and as an individual. Now here is the cool part. ESGI also helps you group your students and allows you to put your students into groups. I know, amazing again! Once you place your students into groups on ESGI, you can pull up just their data and see what they need to work on in small groups. Lifesaver!!!

Here is one of my groups from last year. You can tell from this chart that as a whole, they are pretty strong on letter identification and sounds but need more practice with sight words.Well, that is a little helpful. I know I need to focus more on sight words but we test about 120 a year!!! What sight words do they need help with!!!! Well, ESGI has you covered. They have charts to show which words the group needs to practice. Ok, you may now thank me and ask where this has been your entire life!

So I can tell from this chart that the words her, was, said, but, all, with, & this should be our focus. I can break these words into several days/weeks of instruction and choose 2-3 words to focus on during each meeting. I can also tell that only 1 person knew the words an, his, & had. I should also focus on these words during Guided Reading lessons. You can scroll through all of the tested words to see how many students in the group read each word correctly so you know what words to focus on during your Guided Reading time.

ESGI has been a lifesaver for me last year and especially in Guided Reading groups. It helps me assess my students quickly so that I am not losing valuable instruction time. I am able to group my students and see what specific skills each group needs to focus on. This is the perfect tool for help direct your Guided Reading time. I would be so lost without it.

Now head on over to Laura's page to read more about Chapter 2 and check out some other linky posts about Chapter 2 while you are there!

I am not being paid or compensated for my review of ESGI. This is my own personal thoughts and experiences with using the program.

Next Step in Guided Reading: Chapter 1

I am so excited to be teaming up with the #GuidedReadingGals for an amazing book study on The Next Step in Guided Reading!

If you have not grabbed a copy of the book yet, click here. Seriously guys, this book is amazing. It has totally changed my way of thinking and planning for Guided Reading Groups. I am actually so excited to get back to the classroom to implement these ideas. So grab the book, sit back, and check out our blog posts for the next few weeks as we go chapter through chapter talking and discussing.

Image result for next step in guided reading

Now onto Chapter 1, the set up and getting ready for Guided Reading. This is the most important part, the rules and procedures. Without devoting time to this, your classroom can fall apart and you will not be able to have a successful Guided Reading time. Now this part of the book I do differently only because I do not do traditional Literacy Workstations. Instead, we do Daily 5 in my Kindergarten classroom. I struggled with letting go control but once I finally did, I fell in love with Daily 5 and the students love the freedom of choosing how they learn.

I don't want to get into Daily 5 too much in this post because I plan to blog later about just how I implement Daily 5 into my Kinder room. So for now, let's do a quick overview that can be used with any literacy station rotation. Chapter 1 gives so many amazing suggestions for station ideas for the Primary Grades. Let me just talk about a few or we could seriously be here all day :)

Book Boxes - Now these are a must!!! Each student has their own book box and are responsible for selecting their own books for their book box. Now I do spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year talking about picking a "Good Fit" book and we practice this over and over before I let them go wild in my library. I'll go into this more in my Daily 5 post. I number each of the boxes so I can reuse them each year. These are the boxes I use and I am going on year 3 and they are still holding up great! Click the picture to go to the website.

 Buddy Reading/Reader's Theater - I do this together. I think this is one of my kids favorite choices. I have purchased the Reader's Theater packs from A Teeny Tiny Teacher. They are amazing and perfect for Reader's Theater and Buddy Reading. There is a script for each student with their reading highlighted to help them with confusion. She has them for a ton of levels. Click here to see them. Sometimes we even dress up :)

Poetry - I add this element 2 years ago and love it!!! We do a different poem each week and activities to go with each. The kids even have an interactive poetry notebook that we use daily. They are able to go back and read previous poems and interact with our weekly poem during Daily 5 time. We use DeeDee's poetry packs. They have everything you can imagine and are amazing. Click here to check them out.

ABC/Word Study - Each kid has their own sight word ring. Once they master the 4 new words, I add 4 more to the ring. This way each sight word ring is tailored to the specific student. I have a 10 drawer rolling cart with different activities each student can choose from to practice their words. Some of the activities are: building with magnets, rainbow write, bead lacing, write & decorate, stamp the words, and much more more. I try to change them out periodically to keep it fresh and new.

These are just a glimpse of some of the activities that my students are doing while I am in Guided Reading groups. I spend the first month practicing and reviewing the rules and procedures so that the students become independent learners and workers so that I can have a successful Guided Reading time with my small group. That is the most important thing. Teach your students how to work in Literacy Workstations independently so they are not interrupting your group time. I allow my students to choose their own activities and this helps to keep them engaged and excited about literacy time.

This was a quick peek at Chapter 1. Be sure to head over to The Literacy Spot to learn so much more about Chapter 1 and get some great information! Head over to the Facebook page for more in depth discussions.

The Literacy Spot