Write the Room Literacy Center - FREEBIE!

My students absolutely LOVE the Write the Room literacy center!
They have such a great time getting up and moving around the classroom, searching for words everywhere and recording their answers!
It's such an easy to set up center and just about runs itself.
Hide the words around your classroom.  Your students choose from a variety of differentiated worksheets, attach one to a clipboard (with the pencil already attached to it by yarn so it doesn't get lost!) and there you have it!
I keep everything in my room easily accessible to the students so when one of them wants to try this center out, they can get all of the materials independently.
This is how I store the differentiated worksheets.  I usually have 2-3 out at a time and rotate the rest over the couple of weeks that one set of themed-words is out.
I like to hide these words all around my class so that students really get into finding them!
Here is an example of one worksheet that a student completed last week.
Would you like to try a Write the Room Literacy Center activity for FREE!?!?
Well, as many of you know, I live in Canada, and many of my students have been asking lots of questions these past few weeks and want to learn more about our country.
So I created this pack.
My very good friend, Lori, from Teaching with Love and Laughter, taught her students all about Canada last week for Field Day using this activity!
You can try out this literacy center by clicking on the picture below and downloading the activity.
I have also included a mini book with the download which has a lot of background information about Canada, including definitions for the words included in this pack.
If you like this Write the Room, you might want to try out these ones too!

St. Patrick's Day...freebie!

Well, today is the last day of my March Break.
Where did the week go!?!?
I had so much fun with the kids this week....we went to a toy sale, watched The Lego Movie, and went to Medieval Times!
So tomorrow when I head back to work I planned something fun...all about St. Patrick's Day!
I start by reading this book.  It's a rhyming book and simple enough for children to understand.
Then I want to introduce some important symbols and meanings for St. Patrick's Day so I created this little pack which I'll show on the Bright Links board.
Click on the picture above to get your free copy.
These symbols are all found in my St. Patrick's Day Write the Room Literacy Center which is already up around the room and ready for the students tomorrow.
I've also prepped this cute craft!  This is a picture from last year.
I put both of these items ON SALE until midnight tonight!
What am I doing after St. Patrick's Day?
Well, since spring is just around the corner (although the weather certainly doesn't feel like it!), I'm going to be using my new NO PREP Spring Has Sprung! Ready-to-Use Math and Literacy Centers...just print and go...which is also ON SALE until tonight!
Now I'm off to enjoy the last little bit of March Break with my family...it's so hard to see it end!
Happy Sunday!


Daily Writing: Do it! Display it!

I am so excited to be a part of the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!
There are so many fabulous teaching ideas out there that I can't wait to follow this hop to learn more!
This year is our first year with Full Day Kindergarten.  It's a "play-based" program, meaning that learning happens during play.  My students self-regulate during the day:  if they choose to build with blocks, they go to the carpet area; if they would like to paint, they go to the easel; if they are hungry, they eat at the snack centre.
Well, the challenge for me this year was to integrate writing into all of this hands-on playing!
I took a course this past fall with an amazing kindergarten teacher, Joanne Babalis.
You can visit her blog, My Classroom Transformation, to see more incredible ideas.
She inspired me to create a Daily Writing Wall where my students are accountable for posting a piece of writing that they do at some point during the day.
When I moved into my new (and much bigger!) classroom in November, it was the perfect opportunity to implement a Daily Writing Wall.
The picture above shows a variety of different writing the students can do:
1.  Make a Book
2. Make a Plan
3. Draw a picture and a sentence. 
4.  Draw and label picture.
5.  Make a list.
6.  Mail a letter (or card).
7.  Create instructions (procedure).
I've been focusing on various kinds of writing each day.
For example, last month we celebrated our DECE's birthday and I showed the class how we can write our friends a birthday card.  That sparked students learning and they wanted to know how to write a postcard and mail it too!
This month, our Dramatic Centre has been turned into a grocery store, so we have been writing many lists!
I love that there are examples of what kind of writing we can do during the day.
I take samples of students work and post them often here so that we can discuss them as a class and refer back to them during lesson time.
Each student also has a place to display his/her daily work.
I made these using half a file folder per student, laminated it, inserted a picture of the student holding his/her name on a dry erase board and I have thick yarn strung across for easy clipping with a clothespin.
Here's a close up view of a student's personal writing display area.
I placed the photos inside a clear sleeve so that I can reuse these year after year (and I don't have to take them off the wall and start all over!).
This is what the wall looks like when students display their work.
I have these up on the wall right under my Bright Links board at the front of the class near the carpet.  I love how I can always refer to this area during whole group learning and remind students to post something on their space at some point during the day.
Here is the sign for our writing, made by a student.
Students love this writing wall.  They are always creating (yes, even during play!):  while they build they might be drawing their creation; many of them enjoy writing around the room; we have a large dramatic centre where they write lists and items to help them play, and so much more!
Not all work has to have "words" on it - some children are still exploring different drawing techniques (such as working with a variety of tools) and writing techniques (such as labeling and writing our names).
Having our Daily Writing Wall has truly made writing fun and engaging in our class!
Be sure to click the button below and hop over to Whitney Rippy's blog, The Crazy Schoolteacher, to read all about keeping students engaged and thinking during read alouds.


Let's Go Grocery Shopping!

March Break officially begins tomorrow for me....well, tomorrow is a PA Day for students (teachers still have to go in) so it's kind of like it's already started!
As many of you know, it's our first year as a school teaching Full Day Kindergarten - with a focus on "play-based" teaching.  It's a little different than what we are used to doing in the past so our team decided to turn our attention to an area of the classroom that the students love to play at!
We really wanted to make our Dramatic Centre a place to build literacy and numeracy skills, through conversation, problem solving and working together.
We had SO.MUCH.FUN this week at our Dramatic Centre.
We turned it onto a Grocery Store!
I set everything up using the labels I made and the children just brought in items from home to contribute.  I asked them to think about things that would go in a recycling bin and wash them out first (we don't want any unwanted guests at our store!).
The best part was how neat and tidy they kept it!
There were different roles the students could play....some shopped with either a grocery cart or basket, others decided to be a manager (and made sure everything was organized and there were happy customers!), 2 students could be cashiers, there were stock clerks who put the groceries back in their proper places and we even had cart attendants who put the carts and baskets back!
Here is a student having lots of fun shopping!
We kept it at a 5 item limit so things wouldn't get out of hand!
This student wrote a shopping list before she started and is going around checking everything off her list.
Here are the different areas of our Grocery Store:
This is our puppet theatre.  We moved it closer to the Dramatic Centre so it could be used as the fridge (on one side) and the freezer section (on the other).
Can't wait until we get back from March Break and the students will see that I've added a few new food items (in the Produce section)!
You can find all of these printables in my new Let's Go Grocery Shopping! Grocery Store Dramatic Play Center!
Click here to come check it out!
Coming up this weekend....I'm so excited to be a part of this blog hop.....
Check back soon!

Guided Reading FUN!

Guided Reading is my most favourite time of the day!
I love working on important reading skills with my small groups and watching the students reading skills develop is probably the most rewarding part of my job!
Guided Reading starts after about 6 weeks of school.  I take the first 6 weeks to really get to know my students...and test them on their letter/sound knowledge and sight word recognition.  This allows me to place them into groups more accurately.
Not everyone starts with Guided Reading right away.  I teach a JK/SK combined class (Pre-K/K) and many of the JK students just are not ready for a book yet.  To reinforce their letter/sound knowledge, I will work with them on one letter at a time by reading an Alphabet Reader and then having them colour in the pictures in their own book which they take home.
We play lots of games too!
Students are asked to find upper and lower case magnetic letters, circle a specific letter on each page, sort out small manipulatives with the same beginning sound, or go on a hunt around the room for something that starts with that letter.
I am so impressed with how quickly they learn their sounds!
I have A LOT of things I use for Guided Reading.
This cart is my absolute favourite for holding everything!  I bought it years back with my Scholastic bonus points.
You can't tell by the picture, but the back side is great too - it has a mini pocket chart and an area to hold larger books.  The top easel comes off too!
My books sit on a large shelf my husband made for me.  I don't know about your classrooms, but I always find that there is never enough storage space!
Each group is named by shape and has a plastic book bin to hold everything including their reading logs, books, and sight word rings.  One group, who is reading above grade level, has Guided Reading Workbooks which go home weekly to reinforce specific skills we are covering in class.  That is also found in the book bin.
Extra books are found in the red and yellow baskets underneath.  I also keep extra notes to parents in case of a lost book, book report pages, and paper there.
Sometimes Guided Reading time gets interrupted and disrupts the group.
When I wear this flower necklace, the students know that I am reading and unless it's an emergency, I don't like to be interrupted.  They can ask Mrs. Petrone, the DECE, or another friend in the classroom, for help.
Works like a charm!
My students who are ready for Guided Reading usually read with me anywhere from 3-5 times per week, depending on their reading level.  I keep track of groups, document their progress and record which books they have read in my teacher log book.
The students have their own log as well.  It's a simple pouch...the front is a letter to parents explaining Guided Reading time and when the books go home, and the back is a log of all the books we have read.
Each student begins the year by creating a sight word ring.
They are made with white cardstock and are attached by using a metal binder ring.  The students write their name on the first card and decorate it with stickers.  Each time we encounter a new sight word that is a little tricky, we write it on a new card and attach it to our ring.  I keep these in the book bins and we review these words at the beginning of each Guided Reading lesson.  I don't send them home for fear that they won't come back!  If a student moves groups, the sight word ring goes with them, into the new book bin.
Guided Reading time isn't just about reading the book (yes, that's very important, but understanding what is in the book is too!).
Here are some games we play before we get started on the book:
A great way to reinforce sight words is by playing the 'slap-a-word' game.  I bought these fly swatters at the Dollar Store and printed my cards.  I choose words to focus on that are in the story and have students 'swat' the word when they see it.
I'll mix up a bunch of letters and have students unscramble them to form a sight word we are focusing on.  There is another picture of the sight word ring too.
Tip:  I keep my magnetic letters in a fishing tackle box (it has so many dividers) so that they are easy to find.
Students roll the sight word die and read the word.  Sometimes I'll tell them that I want to see if they can roll a specific word on it and they love that too!
Teaching CVC words has never been so much fun!  My students love the Word Sliders!  They always ask for them!
I love that they show the student one letter at a time, we say the sound it makes, and then I reveal the next letter.  It's a great way to teach them about blending sounds to form a word.  Then they check to see if they are correct by looking at the picture.
In my Guided Reading FUN! pack you will also find other ways to teach CVC words...
Have students use their finger or a small counter to point to each dot while saying the sound until the three sounds are blended, forming a CVC word.
You can have students use magnetic letters or word tiles to build CVC words on their own!
As the readers progress with difficulty, the focus changes and you might find that there are a lot of words that become challenging for the students.
Bossy "e" words (i.e. rake, bone) ask students to say the long vowel sound.  To reinforce this concept, I created cards with pictures on them.  After introducing vowels and the two sounds they make, I'll have my students write the bossy "e" words on dry erase boards.
The group of students that is reading above grade level is ready for a challenge.  I use these blend place mats and cards to teach those tricky blend sounds (i.e. br, gl).
I might have them record their answers inside their workbook or write them on dry erase board.
I don't do all of this in one sitting!
I'll choose a specific focus for that day (ie. sight words -> the, come, here, little, our) and take about 5-7 minutes playing games and working on them.  When it's time to actually read the book, students love to use various pointers to help them track the print.
The witch finger is by far the most favourite!
(You can find these at the Dollar Store around Halloween.)
Working on comprehension is very important!  There are students each year who are such proficient readers, but then they can't remember anything about what they just read!
I like using these comprehension cards after we have read a story to see if the students are on track.
So there you have it!
All about my Guided Reading time!
You can find the Alphabet Readers here (both in colour - teacher copy, and black and white - student copy).
And you can find all of the other activities featured above as well as LOTS more in my new