Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Beginning of the Year (and FREEBIES!)

Hi! I am Carolyn Kisloski from Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together. Just like all of you, I imagine, I am gearing up for a new year!  I still have a few weeks left, because we start school the day after Labor Day.  BUT- we do go until the bitter end of June, so it's a trade off!
Does anybody else have this issue?  When I go back into my room after it is all clean and shiny, I just sort of stand in the middle of it and spin around thinking what to do first...

We always have a Kindergarten Picnic the week before school starts.  It's usually the Wednesday night a week before school.  Our Principal cooks hotdogs, and the children and families come for a picnic and a chance to explore their new rooms and meet the teacher.  One of my favorite parts (besides seeing their sweet little faces) is that it is a chance for the children to bring in their supplies, so they aren't loaded down with them on the first day of school.

Last year, my theme was "You are a Smart Cookie!"  I posted LOTS of cookie freebies that I found HERE in case you want to use some!

This year, I am thinking "Super Stars" OR "Happy New Year!"  Stars are easy to find, so I'm all set there.  I can package up some Starburst and be good to go!

I love using Starbursts on cutout stars to put on homework that the kids bring back. Our students read each night, but don't have "homework." So, if I do send home some extra practice, and they bring it back, they get a little extra reward- aka a Starburst or a silly band taped onto the paper.

After Christmas, I got some half-priced Happy New Year things, so I may go with that theme this year.

That is a happy one!  I just need to get some blowers, and I will be all set.

One of my favorite things to remember to do, is to put a picture of me in Kindergarten in my school bag. I always keep a picture of me at the age of the children I am teaching- so I never forget who I was at that age, what kind of teacher and friend I wanted to have, and my little worries and hopes.  Apparently I had just lost a tooth in this picture!  This was right before I started Kindergarten, in my all time FAVORITE little nightie. (I do actually have both arms in real life.)  Also, on a side note- my sister had long ringlets much like Goldilocks.  My mom kept my hair short to "thicken it up."   Having the picture in my bag to look at every once in a while helps me remember and think about how I wanted my teacher and friends to treat me in Kindergarten.


To start the year in the classroom, I LOVE LOVE LOVE using Whole Brain Teaching.  I made this Prezi to help explain the "why" behind the class rules, and to show some samples of WBT in action.
I changed the rules a little.  I use the parts that work best for me and my teaching style. I omitted Rule #3 because I use these rules mostly when we are on the rug. Mine are:

Rule #1. Follow directions quickly.
Rule #2. Raise your hand for permission to speak.
Rule #3. Make smart choices.
Rule #4. Hands in your lap. Eyes on the teacher.
Rule #5. Be safe. Be kind. Be honest. (Hands safe like a baseball ump. Hands hugging themselves. Hands over heart.)
(And then Rule #6 is a secret rule we whisper-  Make your dear teacher happy.)

It works like a charm and keeps the children engaged.

Barbara Gruener, from The Corner on Character,  wrote a wonderful book, called What's Under Your Cape, that's so great to read before you head back to school.  I finished reading it and had lists and lists of service activities, songs, new books, and lessons for my class to teach more Character Education.  I am so excited to put these into practice!  For me, creating a class family with real life values is number one.  Once that is established, everything academic falls into place so much easier, because the kids know you are on their team- and they are all on the same team.

This would be a wonderful book for a Professional Development book study! It's exactly what teachers want and need to read to keep inspired and keep remembering what the real "common core" is- the children!

I am  going to start the year off using Go Noodle this year. I didn't know about it at the beginning of last year, but luckily I found it! If for some reason you haven't found it yet, FIND IT! You will love it!
YA-HOO.  I posted all about Go Noodle here.  I can't say enough great about it.  It's a wonderful motivator and reward for the children.  And fun.  And free.  Win. Win. Win. Win.

I am also going to start the year assessing with ESGI.  I could say "obsessing" because I am a little obsessed with all that it offers.
Now, with the Class Management Tool added on, I can whip off my class lists- even name tags-  with no problem- on top of getting all of my data.
The kids actually can't wait to come up and be tested on their letters, sounds, numbers...  I am looking forward to using this from Day 1 this year.  Here is an  explanatory video if you haven't seen it yet, and this  Intro Webinar (17 minutes) that explains more about it.   If you want to learn more about ESGI and to get a  free 60 day trial of the software, click here. If you like using it and want to purchase the program (or have your wonderful district buy it for your team!), you can use my special PROMO CODE  B1119  and receive $40 off your purchase for the first year. The price is usually $199 a year, but with the promo code, it will be $159 for the first year.

I just had a class with all of the Kindergarten teachers from my district, and we LOVED ESGI.  We are all going to use it this year.  I made nine new tests that went right along with our report card to add to the ESGI test bank. (IF I can do it- ANYBODY CAN!!! ) We are going to try to go paperless with our assessments.  I can't wait!  

Dr. Jean and I got together and made some Kindergarten CCSS I Can Cards and activities for you to use in the classroom- free!  Each standard is written in "kid friendly" language, and is on a card that you can make into a flip book with a book ring to display as you work on that standard.

Dr. Jean has posted over 80 ideas to go along with the Reading Standards (Reading Literature, Reading Informational Text, Reading Foundational Skills).

She has them organized by each standard. She is AMAZING. Yes she is. That's not even all- now she has activities to go along with each Writing and Math Standard.

You can download the cards free HERE at my TPT store  and get her reading ideas HERE and her writing and math ideas HERE .

I made a Back to School Prezi that is FREE if you would like it! HERE is the US version. It has some fun back to school songs and stories, how-to videos about making crayons and pencils, and lots of patriotic songs.

 HERE is the Canadian version!
It is part of my Fun in Fall Prezi (which I also made for US and for Canada.)  This Prezi has lots of videos and links with everything to do with fall!

Meanwhile- I'm not ready for fall yet!

I also just updated my Kindergarten Letters and Sounds Prezi that I use all the time, especially in the beginning of the year as I introduce and reinforce those letters and sounds.  I got tired of searching for my "favorites" so I put everything together so it is handy and easy to use.

I hope you found a new tip or two for back to school!  Have a wonderful year, but enjoy every second of this glorious summer that's left.  I'd love you to follow me at my blog, Kindergarten: Holding Hands and Sticking Together and my facebook page. 
Thank you for stopping by!
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