Meet the Teacher Monday

I am 26 and live in Las Vegas, NV.
I adore teaching, but besides that...
I have four dogs and a bird.
We love to play dress-up.

We love a good game night.
I collect Hello Kitty stuff. :)

I am an animal lover. I love pink AND bike rides with my 13 year old Poodle, Lucy.
My husband's a cyclist, too.
(Yes, that IS a Swarovski crystal bell.)

Photography is my hobby. Lucky for me, my dogs are models.

I love party-planning and crafts.

The End.
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Merry Christmas to Me!

I awoke to a surprise in my inbox: I have been awarded the Liebster Award from Team Johnson.

The goal of this award is to spotlight up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers.
The rules are:
{1} Copy and paste the award on your blog.
{2} Thank the giver and link back to them.
{3} Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blogs.

Here are my top 5 picks...
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2012 Calendars

Here is how this year's calendars came out... Without an aide, I had mommy helpers paint and stamp the hands for 12 days. Amazing dedication!
Here's the detailed post, here.

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Upside-down Candy Canes

When teaching handwriting for the letter Jj, I say Js are candy canes upside-down. I also incorporate the Lively Letters story, how Jack gets down low to jump over the candlestick. Just like the lowercase j is down low, under the writing line. Then, I have the kids get down low and jump.

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Word Cups Solution

My Word Cups center has had some difficulty this year. The children pull them apart, and even though they are color-coded, they can't figure out which cup goes where. SO, I used a brass brad loosely to hold the two cups together, so it could still spin to build a new word.

The original, vague post is here. Directions: Write the initial letters on the lip of the inner cup. Place it inside one other cup. On the lip of the outer cup, write the word family. The children rotate the cup and write the new word they have created. For example, -at. As you spin it, it becomes sat, fat, bat, hat, etc.
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Thankful Turkeys

I pulled this idea from our District's kindergarten teachers' forum. I especially liked the idea, since it required minimal planning ahead of time. I let the kids cut and roll the brown paper. I just had to make the copies for the feet and feathers.

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File Cabinet Labels

Dry Erase markers are great for writing on any hard surface, especially when they are helping me (and my mommy helpers) stay organized!

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Grade Level Gumball Goals

As a grade level, our goals are to recognize the capital and lowercase letters, produce 26 letter sounds, and identify CCSD's 50 sight words. If need be, we can add another gumball machine for the other 50 sight words, for a goal of 100 sight words. I made every kindergartner 3 gumballs with their names on them. We will staple the gumballs as they reach the goals. They don't move.
I used "vintage" flashcards from decades ago I found sitting in my storage room. I have a lot of useless flashcards, that are either missing letter cards or only include capital letters, so I recycled them. I used a circle punch for the gumballs and labels for the names. :)

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Sight Words

To practice sight words earlier this year, I have decided to send home flashcard lists based on the students reading groups. There are 13 word lists, totalling the CCSD's suggested 100 sight words. I put the cards in a bag, with the child's name on it and the parent letter below.

Lists will be sent home Monday and tests will be given Friday. A student will only receive the next list if he/she reads the list with automaticity. I'm not sure if I will also be doing "Spelling Words" this year.

When they know the first 50, they get a gumball for the goal board!
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New Computers

We received 3 new computers for our classroom!

We have a lot of passwords and logins for the computers (AR,, enVisions) so I used this canvas pocket "thing" to store that info and the iPod touches. We used the iPod touches when there weren't enough computers to share and the kids could play on educational apps.

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"Lively Letters" Works

I took a course over the summer that was recommended to me by the school's speech pathologist. She and the literacy specialist used Lively Letters as a Tier 2 intervention for last year's kindergartners. I took the course in hopes of learning some new strategies to help with any speech issues my kids might have, and phonemic awareness ideas.
The website is and I have used Lively Letters and Sight Words You Can See. Both programs are worth the money and time for the course!

Sight Words You Can See have mnemonic clues drawn on the flashcards. There is a story for EVERY sight word, so the students remember the story, too.

I have seen a tremendous growth in letter recognition and MOSTLY SOUND PRODUCTION. The growth far surpasses growth I have seen in previous years.

I bought a lot of the products, but to save the program as a Tier 2 intervention, I only use the letter cards and tell the story. Every morning with the children on the carpet, we review the letters we have learned and produce the sounds. I use Trophies' letter sequence and not Lively Letters. There is a a combined sequence, too.

In small groups, we use the letter tiles to blend and segment. Sometimes I set them on taplights and we turn on the light for each sound.

If you live in Las Vegas, there is a Lively Letters workshop Saturday, December 3rd at the Red Rock Casino!
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Small Group Instruction

I keep track of who has read what with me, so I can always provide a "Familiar Reading Book Basket." When students come to my table during centers, I usually have a few other centers I have to get started and I don't want my kids waiting around for me. I put out the basket and they can browse books they have previously read with me (or a parent helper) for the 2 minutes I am helping listening center, computers, or getting new paint for art center. Whatever.

When I had some time, I took every leveled reader I had a group set (6 books) of and entered them into a chart. The top of the chart has the centers groups' names, so I can check off the story that we read and discuss. With AM and PM sessions, sometimes I'll have to pretend to be interested in the same story 4 times. Now I can just skip around within the students' ability levels and change things up.

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Every month, I send home a Parent Volunteer Calendar, providing parents with an assigned date and time I need their help on. I schedule Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Mondays are usually days that parent helpers will read a leveled reader with the students one-on-one at a desk, in the hallway. I provide the parents with a basket and the following:
  • Two copies of the book
  • Class List to call students from. They check off next to the student's name once they have read together.
  • Stickers to reward the students for their effort
  • Before, During, and After questions to check for understanding
  • Guided Reading flipbook
  • Number flashcards
  • Letter flashcards
On Thursdays, the parents call students into the hallway to practice number and letter identification with flashcards. On Fridays, I ask for help with AR tests, assigning new reading books, filing, and checking off homework participation. I always include a To-Do list...

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Objectives and Standards

I printed off some quick, ocean-themed subject titles and laminated them with a magnet. I write objectives for Phonemic Awareness, Reading, Writing, and Math.
I bought from the ocean-themed Common Core State Standards for kinder. I plan on hanging them around the room. They are super cute!

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Halloween Parade

In lieu of a Halloween party, we took the last 15 minutes of each AM and PM session to trick-or-treat in the office. The office ladies were so cute and excited to have my babies stop in. Each time we came around the hallway, they would yell, "They're coming! They're coming!" Then they would run to their spots. This was the first time I asked that children wear their Halloween costumes to school. It went very well without any "accidents"! I carried the sign below as we marched through the halls. If a teacher had their door open, we would parade through. Then the grand finale was blasting our classroom surround sound as we marched around the kinder playground to show off our costumes to parents. It was a great day and I would like to do it again next year, since I was still able to teach at our regular schedule.

Of course, we had Halloween cupcakes for snack though!

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Halloween Author Reading

On Halloween, the AM class had a very special treat. Jarrod Meistle, author of Victor the Vampire, read his book and handed out stickers and pencils!

I talked about this book here!

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"Sea Goals"

Get it?! Like sea gulls?
Anyway, we are beginning a school-wide goal setting program. We are setting short-term student goals, class goals, and school goals. These Post-Its on my bulletin board are advertising a specific goal for each student to master. When the goal is mastered, they will get a new Post-It. These goals are checkpoints for the long-term goals listed in the Common Core State Standards. We advertise it because we are each others' cheerleaders and every one is working on something positive at their own pace. Our class goal is: we will learn the letter sounds. Once we master that, I printed the next goal on the back, so I can just flip it over. Sequentially, the second goal is: we will sound out to read.

Each child's goal is sent home on this form, so parents can help, too!

I have designated the first day of each month as "Goal Day," when we review our goals and if possible, set new ones. It took me about 30 minutes to set a goal with each child individually. I called one kid over and asked, "What do you want to learn?" Together, we decided on each goal. Below, is a calendar tag I'll put up on the first day for each month.

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Ronald McDonald

Ronald McDonald came to perform a magic show for our school. Shockingly, only one child was scared to tears by him, but she got through it. :)

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Lesson Planning

In the Clark County School District, we now use an online lesson planning tool to create and share our lesson plans. The lesson plans are time consuming but extremely thorough. When plans are printed out, there are around 10 pages for a week of plans. For an obsessive person like myself, I enjoy the ability to color coordinate, plan far ahead, and not require paper copies of the Common Core State Standards when planning. Standards can be clicked on and dragged to where you need them. When you click on the colored subjet, the detailed plans come up in a new window.

Another useful feature is sharing the plans. I am able to share lessons with the other kindergarten and special education teachers.

Victor the Vampire

My friend published his first children's book, _Victor_the_Vampire_, in his new series. We will be reading this book for Halloween and the author will also be coming in to read the story to my classes. The students of the week will also receive their very own copy this month, too!

Please check out Of course, Victor the Vampire is on Facebook and Twitter, too!

Fall Leaves

We have been learning about fall. We watched the video about fall and collected some leaves. The leaves aren't falling from the trees yet, since we live in Las Vegas.

I used my personal laminator.

We wrote about our "Leaf Art."

Here is the leaf bin I set up in art center for the centers to take from.

As usual in autumn, pumpkins sit on the student tables.
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Octopals and Crabs

We used our handprints to make these crabs and liven up this wall.

We also used our handprints to make octopi. Then, we named them and wrote about them. The students were very cute and creative when writing their octopus's name, likes, and a describing word.

Now that I have 47 students, I ran out of room on the bulletin board so I hung them from the ceiling, too.

I made the worksheet myself and it only took about two minutes using the LD Traditional Print Lined font, seen here.

I helped each child spell one-on-one, since it was so early in the year.
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Under the Sea in Room 3

Here is my new theme for my newly renovated room!