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Bear Says Thanks

Sunday, November 11, 2018
November is such a great time of the year. Good food, family and most importantly.... THANKSGIVING BREAK! I'm here to talk about my "Step Into Stories," series and hopefully this little unit makes your November a little easier. If you'd prefer the video explanation, then scroll down to find the video ;)

This series comes with everything you need to have a successful and stress free week of teaching. You'll get: 

Lesson Plans
There is a two page spread for you weekly plans which include the TEKS and CCSS standards.

5 Days of Scripted Lessons
These scripts are great for teachers that want more close reading guidance. These scripts also include which support materials to pull from the the unit. These plans have all the support you need for all your learners. It has real-life connections, support materials for ESL learners, academic vocabulary support, visuals for story elements, opportunity for student-centered discussions, independent practice, and closures for each lesson. 

Anchor Chart Pieces
Use all of them for beautiful anchor charts or just what you need. I also outline examples of how to put the anchor charts together.

Posters/ESL Support

These visuals are great for both SPEd students and ESL's as well as your regular ed student. They list the academic vocabulary and a picture example of the word to deepen their understanding.

Each week has four pictured vocabulary words to focus on and differentiated worksheets to practice applying the vocabulary words. If four is too many there is an option for just two words.

You have worksheets for independent practice for every day of the week. There are also a few extra worksheets not included in the daily plans for fast finishers or more differentiation.

Exit Tickets
These are put in the "small group" portion of the lesson plans. That is because this is used as a transition to small group and you can quickly assess the need for reteaching in small group. For example, you pull your guided reading group and do the "setting" exit ticket. Four out of five kids get it wrong. This lets you know that when you read in small group, you need to focus on the setting of the story and gives you the opportunity to reteach the academic vocabulary in small group!

The weekly lesson wraps up each week with a fun craft. There is an option writing sheet that can be added to the craft to turn this into a "writing" activity.

The wrap up of the week includes writing sentences. This can be done on the craft or on a separate writing sheet that is included. There are option mentor sentence that are Kinder-friendly to use.

This quick 4 question, 1-page assessment is Kinder-friendly and meant to be done whole group. It will test on vocabulary, story elements, details, and BME. 

Directed drawing
This is another fun way to end the week! The directed drawing has verbal instructions if you want to do a listening activity or step by step visual instructions. Let them use water-colors for added fun at the end!  If you made it through this post then you're in luck. I decided to list my bear directed drawing as a freebie for you!

It really is all-inclusive. I have included a video outlining everything you get if you want a more in-depth look at the weekly unit. Ignore the "uh's"... it's my first video so I apologize :) 

Bear Says Thanks from Michelle LeBlanc on Vimeo.

I'd love to know what other Read-Alouds you would be interested in adding to this series. Leave a comment below!

Center Storage Ideas

Saturday, September 8, 2018
Whew! Back to school is in full force and I'm here to share some ideas for how to store centers. I've been playing around with how to use all my left over HP instant ink boxes so I decided to make a post regarding ideas on different storage options.

Option 1:
Gallon Bags

This oldie but goodie is my go-to for storing my centers. I find that asking for these on the school supply list is an easy way to ensure I have storage for the year. Centers that have visual explanations are a bonus. I'm in the process of adding those to my previous packs so old ones should get revamped eventually but all my new packs will include these.

Option 2
Brown Envelopes

These are available at some Dollar Tree's and some schools have them in the office for free... so that's a bonus! You can laminate these for durability if you school as a big laminater but it's a bit time consuming so this isn't my go to option but it does make filing them in a filing cabinet much easier so that's a plus!

Option 3
Photo Storage Cases

These have been all the rage the last year. They are super cute but from personal experience, I find that the kids have a hard time opening some of them so even though I bought them for different center options, I will be using them as storage for small group activities that I have to open.

Option 4
Instant Ink Boxes

If you have wondered what to do with these then center storage is a great option. You will mostly likely have to scale down your centers and print multiple to a page in order to get them to fit in the box but has a double bonus, it saves ink and paper! Kid friendly? Well it has the appeal of being a box game so that makes the kids engaged but will they hold up through a year? That remains to be unseen and I'll let you know after some more use!

Hope you enjoyed these quick ideas on storing centers. I'll be added and updating pictures soon. If you have any great ideas, please leave them in the comments! I'd love to know!

Anchor Chart Tips

Monday, November 20, 2017

I don't know about anyone else but I love seeing beautiful anchor charts all over Pinterest. It's similar to the new crayon smell or warm copies off the printer. It's just one of those little things that make me happy. Unfortunately, I am not that talented when it comes to drawing beautiful charts off the top of my head.
Also, it takes FOREVER to draw and color a pretty chart only to have it thrown away after a lesson. My heart breaks a little. 
I have found a few tips that make my anchor charts look pretty but are also reusable in my classroom.

I made a few different basic backgrounds with some pretty border. These take forever to color which is why I REUSE them. I used a mix of markers and crayons. Then I use print outs and STICKY NOTES on the anchor chart. I'd like to say that I laminate them and have them all organized but that's just not the type of teacher I am. I print them on regular paper or card-stock as needed. The sticky notes work great. Here are some examples of what my anchor charts look like. 




These anchor chart pieces can be found in my Kinder Reads series. Click here to check them out.

A week of STEM: Force and Motion

I love science in Kindergarten! The excitement on their faces is the cutest because they’ve never seen these activities before. So, here’s some simple and fun force and motion experiments to have fun with your kiddos.

1. Ramps

We used tissue boxes and marker boards. Super simple. Each table got multiple boxes and boards to try and make them as long and/or y’all as they could. We tied yarn around the car to work on push/pull.

2. Pulleys

This activity required some yarn and a few light weight buckets. We also added blocks for weight and watched how it affected the yarn.

3. Pom Pom Poppers
These were much harder to make than I anticipated. I made them on my prep and let partners explore them by seeing who could pop their pompom the farthest. 

4. Catapults

We made catapults out of rubber bands and popsicle sticks. 

5.  Balloon race

I don’t have pictures of this one but essentially. Balloon, yarn and a piece of paper (or straw.) We got into groups and raced our balloons. Kids loved it. 

Christmas Party Games

Friday, December 16, 2016

Christmas Parties are surrounded by food and sugar. Not just Christmas, but I should say, ALL CLASSROOM PARTIES. The easiest thing to do for a classroom party is just load the kiddos up with fun and festive snacks and send them on their way. Well, my second year teaching was a challenge in this department because I had a little girl with diabetes. So, no sugar and I even had to count her carbs for each snack she had! It was difficult but I actually decided to focus more of some fun ACTIVITIES we could do versus just feeding the kids. I decided to do a center-type rotation with some fun activities and it was a HUGE hit. Here are some fun ways to spruce up your Christmas Party!

Here are 5 things from my Christmas Party which were a huge success.
1. Snowball toss.
I took an old toss game and covered it with poster and glued on some dollar window clings for a fun snowball toss.

I used foam balls for snowballs in th toss. It would up being a little hard for them even though they loved it so I also hung a wreath to toss the "snowballs" through so we had an easier and harder version of the game.

2. Crafting center
1$ foam gingerbread men and small lunch bags were decorated for the kids to put their parent gift in, which was a hand paint ornament. I added Christmas stickers and smelly makers to make this center even more fun.

3. Pin the nose on Frosty
This was 4.99$ at Party City. I wrapped it around a foam board and laminated the noses since they were just stickers. This let the kids reuse them over and over with a thumb pin versus only 8 stickers. If the blindfold broke (it only had one) I had a red dollar spot beanie on standby to pull down over their eyes. #alwaysbeprepared
4. Photo booth
Althoigh this wasn't set up as a "center." It was very cute and fun for parents to take pictures with the kids. I also snapped several to send to the parents that missed the party via class dojo and/or remind app.
(photo props are from Creative Clips on Tpt)

5. Facepaint
Kinders go crazy for face paint and all we did was a cute little Santa hat on their cheek which took a minute each. While waiting to get their face painted, they would sit down and eat a bit.

Overall, another great party that wasn't focused on sugary foods (although we did have that.) Fun easy games like this are perfect for taking the focus of food for kids that have dietary restrictions such as diabetes etc.

If you have any fun ideas from your Christmas party... I'd love to know. Leave me a comment!

Guided Reading Toolbox

Sunday, June 26, 2016

My newest post can be found HERE.

Small group is soooooooo important in Kindergarten. Some would say it's important in every grade and I agree. It really gives you time to work the with children and find out where their strengths and weaknesses are. I have decided to really step up my small group game this coming year. Last year, I was so disorganized with it that it didn't get done like it should have. However, I learn from my mistakes and will make sure that I plan and organize this year so that doesn't become an issue. I started by making this guided reading toolbox to help. Toolboxes are fun and help keep you organized which I feel like is really going to improve my small group instruction time. Here's how I put it together.

I got a storage container at Hobby Lobby. It was price at $8.99 but I used the 40% coupon so it wasn't that much. It was about $5.40 but its very deep and holds quite a bit which is why I got it. It also has movable trays on the inside so you can put the dividers where you need them based on what you are storing in there. It was very convenient. 
 I found some of these at Target. They were in the party section and some of these were at Hobby Lobby also in the party section.  All of the packages were 1.99-2.99 so it wasn't very expensive. I don't have witchy fingers but will be getting some when Halloween rolls around this year. :)

So how will I be using each of the items?

Cars- Letter Formation and Blending
Frogs- Segmenting and Sight Words (plan on flipping them into bowls with each correct answer)
Googly Finger Eyes- Reading and Pointing to words
Wands- Reading and as Pointers
Finger Lights- Pointing to Words
Finger Squishy Monsters- Reading and Retelling
Slinkys- Blending and Segmenting

I also have purchased a photo organizer to help me manage my small group which will have exit tickets and assessment task cards. 

You can find that post -----HERE------

9 Ways to Use Your Photo Organizer

Saturday, June 25, 2016

So I jumped on the bandwagon and decided to buy one of these rainbow colored photo organizers. It was so pretty and marked down from 39.99 to 23.99 at Michael's. How could I say no to that? Well I had a few things in mind on how to use them and I may actually buy another set because these containers are such a great size. I love that it is so compact and feels like a briefcase. Plus, let's face it... it's just so preeeetty! You can easily pull this out and only get which box you need for your activity. Here's a list of ways to use them in your classroom:

1.   Task cards- These are the perfect size to fit task cards and the color coded containers makes it easy to separate them by skill. 

2.   Craft supplies- These are perfect for washi tape, glue sticks, googly eyes, etc.

3.   Math Manipulatives - I use a ton of dollar spot mini erasers for my math manipulatives. The kids LOVE THEM. This would be the perfect way to store them.

4.   Exit tickets- 1/4 sheet size exit tickets will fit perfectly in here. Again the color coding makes it so easy to organizer.

5.   Guided Reading Tools- finger lights, mini slinky's, witches pointer fingers, etc. These are a great size for guided reading tools. 

6.   Anecdotal Notes- If you use sticky notes to take tons of anecdotal notes, these would be perfect for storing them. You could use to colors to organize by small groups or buy a couple of organizers and keep a box for each individual student.

7.   Organize Stickers- These are great for organizing your stickers! If you are a Kindergarten teacher like me then you can never find that pack of valentine stickers you bought a year ago and now it's Valentine's Day again! This would be a great way to keep them organized.

8.   Storing Classroom Labels- This would be great to store you smaller labels at the end of the year. Pieces of your focus wall, calendar, weather chart, bulletin board cutouts, even your letters that go on your bulletin boards would fit neatly into this organizer. 

9.   Center Storage- If most of your centers are printed and laminated like mine then this would be a great place to store them. You could put centers in each color and let your students get their box with the center inside to work on. Card matching games, handwriting practice, sorting, etc. 

So what am I personally going to use them for? I plan on using these for small group. I will be storing my task card assessments and exit tickets in here. We are changing over to 9 weeks so I haven't decided how I will break it down just yet but it will probably be by unit/skill.  Alphabet recognition, sound recognition, blending, sight words, addition, subtraction, composing and decomposing, graphing, coins are some examples of what I would use them for.  The reason that I may get a 2nd one is so that I have one for math and one for literacy. 

If you can think of other ways to use this organizer then I'd love to know. Leave me a comment below!

How to Run an Effective Library Center

Thursday, June 16, 2016

It may seem that the library center is a place that kids go to play in Kindergarten. Here's how my library center used to go:

Student spends 5 minutes going through books.
Student gets reading buddy.
Student finds a place to sit.
Student flips through book.
Student plays with reading buddy and whoever is in center with them.
Student goes to get another book.
Starts all over again.

Now, this isn't very effective and the students aren't really reading. What I decided to do was implement some accountability into this centers. I am a big proponent of recording sheets. All my centers have some type of accountability with them now. My tubs that are full of clip cards, puzzles, and matching games have recording sheets at the beginning of the year. Later in the year, I just use blank paper and show them how to record properly. Some teachers use journals and that is good too. My suggestion is to use a guided sheet for the library center. My answer is a book report.

They students must turn in this sheet before they get their next book. I also do the same thing with the listening center although, they are truly engaged during that center.

As far as the talking goes, that is bane of every teachers life but I have found that if I let the responsible kids read to each other, it motivates the rest of the class to ditch their "stuffed animal" reading buddy and upgrade to "read to a friend." So this is an incentive to do well in the library center and has worked well so far!

I also mentioned that students would spend 5 minutes picking out a book and leave a huge mess on my bookshelf when putting the books back. I decided to change up my library from a bookshelf to something much more kindergarten friendly. 

First, I bought these magazine holders from Ikea.

They were fairly cheap considering the colored ones from teacher stores cost me 14.99 for a pack of like 6! RIDICULOUS. These were on sale at the time for like 4.99 a pack. I bought a ton!

Next I labeled my holders with these labels and also labeled every single book in my library. This probably took the longest of everything. Partially because I didn't realize I need to print the book labels on avery labels. I cut them out and taped them on. It took FOREVER. Lesson learned. GET AVERY LABELS if you plan on labeling your books.

I looked on the seller's TpT site and it doesn't look like these are for sale anymore. Not sure why because I've enjoyed them thoroughly! I may change it up in the future just so I have a different and  more modern theme but not for a whiiiile because this takes a HOT MINUTE!!!

The seller is Mrs. Ricca's Kindergarten so if you are interested in these you may be able to contact her. Here they are in action:

I also saved space by putting these on top of my math center storage. Perfect for making the most out of my space. 

I used to dread when students went to this center and now it's wonderful. My class chooses this center often. I will be doing a post on how I manage centers in the future. My room is modeled after Greg Smedley of The Kindergarten Smorgasbord. I 100% believe in giving students choice in their centers as the primary means of engagement. 

So there it is... how to keep students accountable and your library organized. This combination makes for an effective libary center.

Any tips that you may have for keeping your library center running effectively, please comment below!

Trampolines in the Classroom

I was inspired by Greg Smedley of The Kindergarten Smorgasbord to get a trampoline for my classroom. I wasn't sure that it would be approved because... Well come on.... It's a TRAMPOLINE for Pete’s sake. 

But, there has been a very big push for Kindergarten this year and "thinking outside the box" styles of learning so I asked and well.....

Ask and you shall receive! Not only did it get approved but our whole grade level got them and I didn't have to purchase it myself.

Because we got the so late in the year, the main use for them was behavior management. We use a clip chart at our school (I know the ooooole dreaded clip chart.) Well, I rewarded my silver and gold students with 20 jumps for silver and 100 jumps for gold! It was great because all the kids would count together and watch. It was extremely positive motivation.

I would also give students 10 jumps if I just caught them doing something extra special. If they were nice, or being perfect in the all when others were pressuring them to do the wrong thing, then I would say, “Great job on staying quiet when your neighbors where trying to talk to you. You can have 10 jumps when we get back to class.”  It was a great way to give a reward to a student that may not have been a "silver" that day but certainly had moments deserving of a reward. It was fantastic!

I can't wait to think of other uses for the trampoline next year when I have more time with it.

I didn’t have very many students trying to mess with it or catapult off of it. I was a little worried that may happen but my kids were definitely more mature at the end of the year so this wasn’t an issue.

The beginning of year may be different. I will probably not take out the trampoline until we have our routines and procedures down for moving around the room so that this doesn’t become an issue.

Do you have a trampoline in your classroom? Any ideas on how to use it or how you implement it from the beginning?  I'd love to know!

Top 5 Tips For New Teachers

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My top 5 tips for new teachers.

Mostly this is my advice from mistakes that I have made.

Structure and Routine- Kindergarten students need structure and routine. In fact, all students of every age need structure and routine. Find something and that is researched based and stick with it. Don't change it up every 2 weeks because you think it isn't work. Research shows that it takes 21 days for something to become a habit. It's even LONGER with children in my opinion.

Don't stay until 9 pm every night! I did this for months during my first year. It didn't make that big of a difference. It doesn't matter how much you plan, most of the day will be spent winging it because the kiddos are masterminds when it comes to throwing your perfectly laid out lesson plans off track.

Get and stay organized. I planned so much time decorating and getting my "room ready" that I didn't think about how to organize for small groups, guided reading, parent contact... etc. Organize what you will be using daily. What you really need to think about is how can your organize with something that will make teaching easier. I didn't do this and I really wish that I would have. The triple border bulletin boards with hand painted apples can wait.

-Breaking the rules is okay. Saaaay Whaaaa? Are you tryin to get me fired? No no. What I mean when I say this is... don't panic if you are supposed to be teaching math but you need to let the kids outside to play for a little 10 minute break. If you and your kids are loosing your minds, put on some GoNoodle and dance it out with KooKoo Kangaroo (my fav.)  It is okay to not be perfect. I had it in my head that I would make sure everything was perfect. IT WILL NEVER BE PERFECT! But if you change your mindset, you will find that everyday can still be great! Even if you didn't get to everything on the lesson plan.

-Build relationships with parents. This can be intimidating for a first year teacher. I know that I didn't feel very confident and I thought that the more I talked to parents or asked for help, they would think I couldn't handle things and they would surely know that this was my first year and then they'd lose faith in me and it would be the end of the world as I knew it. So what happened? I ending up having to do all the parties myself, buy all the candy, plan EVERYTHING. It was truly a pain and had I just build some relationships and let the parents know from day one that I would need them to help make the year successful, it would have made my life so much easier.

So there it is! My top 5 tips for New Teachers.

Just breath and know that you will make it through this. Every year after this will be easier!

Teacher Appreciation Sale Link-UP

Monday, May 2, 2016
Hello Everyone!
It is that time of year again. The one time a year where teacher's get the appreciation that they deserve. TPT makes sure we feel the love by having their Teacher Appreciation Sale!!!  Now is the time to Celebrate and snatch up some things you've been eyeballing!!!

A big thanks for sharing the sale button Teaching in the Tongass!

Several of TPT Sellers are putting their stores on sale for 20% off.  You can save even more when you enter in the Promo Code CELEBRATE and you will get an additional 10% off of your purchase.
We want to make it very easy and convenient for you to find the stores of teachers participating in the sale. 

 I have teamed up with some awesome bloggers that are hosting a linky filled with teachers participating!!  Teachers participating should link up a blog post or their TPT store!!

You can click on any of the link ups below to shop or go to their blog to see some products they have on sale!
Here are some products we have on sale!!

Here is a template for you to share some of yours on your blog as you link up.

Here is What to Do to Participate in the Linky

1. Copy and paste the blank template into PowerPoint.
2. Put your product pics in the template.
3. Save your button AND our linky button.
4. Create a blog post using these images.
5. Link your published blog post up with us OR just link up your TPT store that will be on sale!