Groundhog Day Is Coming Up Soon!

Groundhog Day is coming up fast. Crossing my fingers and hoping that the groundhog does not see his shadow. We are buried with over two feet of snow with this historical blizzard and more snow is on its way. If you are looking for some useful and FREE printables, websites, and videos , you may want to check out the official Groundhog website page

Here are some great links for Groundhog Day.

Variety of Videos,

Ages 3-14:

Fabulous passage and comprehension pack,

Grade 1:

I've found this groundhog activity that has been pinned on Pinterest by Mrs. Riicca's Kindergarten. This activity is very similar to the activity that I've been doing with my Kinders for many years in the past.
After reading and discussing Groundhog Day with the students, I have them color and cut out a picture of a groundhog. Students glue it to a popsicle stick and insert it into a styrofoam cup.  Students can use a green strip of paper and cut out slits to form the grass popping out. Instead of gluing the poem on to the cup, I have students copy it on lined paper using their best Kindergarten handwriting. This poem is sung to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot." 
You can grab a copy of this poem here

I did change the lyrics a bit to make it simpler for the kiddos to copy. Each week during literacy center time, I like to have my students do an art activity and I have them copy a poem to go along with it. Copying the poem is great handwriting practice for the kiddos as they learn to read and pick out many new site words. This can teach website has so many fun poems to choose from that go along with so many activities that you can use throughout the school year.    

Getting Ready for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Teaching young students about MLK Day is very important, yet it can be difficult to explain to students how things used to be long ago when there was segregation. Here is a great video made by young students that explains the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in a very simplified way in which kids will understand.

One of my favorite MLK books to read to students is "Martin's Big Words; The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." by Doreen Rappaport. This picture book brings to life Martin's powerful message in some of his own words.  It tells the story of his life and it shows how he was a gifted speaker and influential leader. After reading this book,  I love to show the video of it and have students be thinking about Martin's big words. We make a web on the board and students copy all those powerful words. 

Students can make their own "I Have A Dream" mini hand print booklets. It is important to have students be thinking about ways to make the world a better place for mankind and not about what they wish for themselves. After we are done making these mini books, I let the students read and share their thoughts with their classmates. 

During MLK week, Here is another great follow up activity that I enjoy doing with the students. Begin by teaching the students the song "With My Own Two Hands"  lyrics by Ben Harper. This video version is sung by Jack Johnson. 


Students brainstorm ways that they can make the world a better place with their own two hands and share their ideas with a thinking partner. They can practice reading the song lyrics on this worksheet and color in their hands using flesh tone crayons. Students will then write a sentence about how they can use their hands to make the world a better place.Students who want to share their writing piece with the whole class may do so when they are done. 


If you like these MLK activities, you can grab get them here.  What is your favorite MLK book or video that you enjoy introducing to your student? Please comment below. I'd love to hear any suggestions.  

Kicking off the New Year! ***Setting Goals with your Students***

        It was my first day back at school after having a full two weeks off for the holiday break. It was great seeing all the smiling faces as the students entered our classroom. I am sure going to miss the carefree days at home with my family, but it feels good to be back. Now it is time to get back to reality. I feel refreshed and ready to tackle the new year with my students. 

     The second half of the year with kinders can be exciting as the student's skills really start to take off. Students love showing off their reading skills as they conquer simple text in books all by themselves. As weeks go by, students become more fluent and have a great sense of pride. The kiddos begin to write sentences about a given topic using inventive spelling and their knowledge of the high frequency words introduced. Students are learning many strategies to solve math problems and are beginning to write number sentences to go along with number stories. Keeping all this in mind, during my winter break I did work on creating and updating a few products to continue to strive forward and build upon these skills to enhance student learning. If you are interested you may want to check out my teacher store to see my latest creations.  

     This is the perfect time of the year for students to start thinking about their own learning and what it is that they need to improve upon. Kinders do need some guidance with this as they start composing goals. They may not have the language skills to put together their ideas on their own. Begin by discussing with students some of the things that they feel that they are really good at and some of the things that they find challenging. 

     Students need to know that setting goals without a plan is only a dream. They need to be thinking about how they plan on attaining their goals. What types of skills do they need to practice to reach their goal and if they get stuck how can they seek out help? 

      Teaching youngsters to learn how to set goals is an important lifelong skill that is sure to bring your students some success. You can check out the charts I prepared for the students so they will be able to set goals and track their success. 

 You will receive charts for the months of September through June to track letter naming, letter naming for upper and lowercase letters, letter sounds, counting objects, writing numbers up to 20 or 30, and high frequency words. You will also receive Goal Met cards to laminate and attach to lanyards so students can proudly let your whole school know that they reached their goal and can ask about it. 


Anecdotal Notes~ A Great Way to Organize Student Observations

    Do you find it difficult to organize all the enormous amounts of paperwork and note taking that you take throughout the year? Keeping track of grade books, checklists and notes can be a huge challenge. We all have to take informal notes while making student observations. I've tried this simple system to try and stay on top of all the anecdotal notes that I need to keep. I used colored index cards and layered them into four different groups. I wrote students names on the top and layered downward. I stapled each group of cards on the left hand side and used mailing tape to secure each of the four sets of index cards to a clipboard. The index cards can be flipped open like a book for you to write your observations. You could group your index cards according to groupings you use for RTI or randomly select students you would like to observe for each day of the week. I like the colored index cards because it makes it easier for me to locate students quickly while I jot down notes. I used pink and purple for the girls and blue, green and yellow for the boys. The picture above just shows the index cards blank before I started the note taking for confidential reasons. Once the index cards are filled, I can file it away in each student's file and replace it with a new one. These index cards come in handy during team meetings, parent teacher conferences and grading students for report cards. These index cards include academic notes as well as notes concerning behavior and social interactions. Kids sometimes say the darnest things. They can make you laugh or make you want to cry. It is important that we try and capture these moments and not forget them. When a student uses an unexpected vocabulary word that is way advanced for his or her age or when a student tells a funny joke or takes something very literally, as kids often do, be sure to catch the moment.  Having a  place to quickly jot it down is important.

     You could make more than one clipboard to use for your classroom. Maybe you could make one for literacy and one for math. I made more than one clipboard with all my students and gave it to my para. This way we team up and record data on more students. At times, we compare notes and we tend to notice many of the same things. This can be very reassuring as it substantiates our findings. Other times, we may not notice something and it is great to have an extra set of eyes always on the lookout.
Our school staff is part of the Massachusetts Kindergarten Entry Assessment  MKEA  Districts in Cohort 3 and we have received training and are in the midst of Teaching Strategies GOLD. We are closely observing students in a variety of settings within the classroom and making documentations through note taking, pictures and video clips. Through observations, we will get a better sense of our student's development over time. Keeping track of each student's observations and how they are each performing in the areas of development and learning is a massive undertaking.  There are 38 objectives in which we need to place students on a developmental continuum. Much of GOLD is based on observations. It is important for us to seize the moment and jot things down as we watch the kids during playtime, literacy centers, math centers and daily routines. Continually uploading all this data for each student can be very time consuming. Having all these anecdotal notes on these clipboards has made it convenient and easy to find. No longer do I have notes of different students scattered all over my desk and becoming lost. Although, I find GOLD to be overwhelming as I spend hours and hours entering detailed data, I feel that these little index cards are helping me get through it.  Are you using Teaching Strategies GOLD in your district? How are you managing your time? What have you found that has helped you along the way with this process? Please share as I need all the help I can get.