Nonfiction Penguin Palooza FREEBIE & GIVEAWAY!

We just finished up our first nonfiction mini unit of our new reading unit, and I am so in love with how it turned out! Last year, we read a new text every one or two days, and I was really focused on my students being able to write the topic and one or two key details that they learned. I didn't really feel like any of them owned what they were learning. It was very fast paced, and the focus was on the product, not the process.
This year, I decided that I wanted to slow down a  bit and help my students really understand the power behind nonfiction. Instead of churning our response sheets as fast as we could, I broke down the unit into several mini units of study. I decided to start with my favorite animal… penguins!
This unit was structured around the recent nonfiction close read push, as well as a resource that I purchased from Hope King several months ago, Set The Stage To Engage. I felt that if my students were engaged and invested in the topic, the key details and other curriculum driven learning would come. Let's start at the beginning…
Even though there was plenty of arctic-like weather outside my classroom walls (thanks, CT!), I wanted to bring that feeling inside my classroom to get my students excited about what they would be learning. For next to nothing, I got some fun fur yarn and pillow stuffing, and was able to make snow and ice appear within the walls of my classroom! A little crafty Sunday afternoon, and my room felt transformed! My teacher heart was so happy when one of my kiddos walked in and said, "Woah! I can't wait to see what we're learning today!" I couldn't have asked for a better moment!
Throughout the next two and a half weeks, we completely immersed ourselves in everything penguin! We kicked off our learning with a penguin KWL chart
…watched a live penguin webcam
… had in depth discussions about the penguin text we were reading
…did a penguin blubber experiment to really understand why penguins need blubber
…tried to waddle like father Emperor penguins taking care of an egg
…used our nonfiction dictionaries and answered text dependent questions
…and watched all of our learning come together in these cute penguin flap books from One Sharp Bunch!
I could not have imagined that this unit would have gone as well as it did! My students were EXCITED for shared reading each day, and their learning extended across the curriculum! During Daily 5, students were searching for nonfiction penguin books to read on RAZ kids and reporting their new information to the class, students were creating penguin diagrams and penguin lego figures during indoor recess, and some were even writing informational pieces about penguins in their free write journals! You can't make this stuff up!!
Click on the image below to grab a FREE SAMPLE of Diving Into Nonfiction!

Looking for more penguin ideas and resources? Make your way through our blog hop to keep on reading!

Don't forget to enter to win my Diving Into Nonfiction resource AND tons of other penguin resources from my friends!
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It's Almost The... 100th Day!

Today was day 89, so we are ALMOST at our 100th day of school! Let's flashback to last year and check out how we celebrated our 100th day. Don't forget to read all the way to the bottom to grab a FREEBIE!

Happy Sunday, everyone! Have you had your 100th day of school yet? Ours was on Friday, and we had a BLAST!!! I thought I'd share a recap of our 100th day celebration as well as some changes that I will be making for next year! If you haven't celebrated your 100th day yet, I hope I can give you some great ideas!
My kindergarten team and I stayed late on Thursday night decorating for the 100th day. We hung streamers at the entrance to the hallway so that the whole school could join in on the fun. We also hung streamers in our doorway. I wish you all could have seen the kids' faces when they walked through the streamers! Who knew such a small thing could make them so happy!
We began the day by jumping for 100 seconds! {I am very embarrassed to say that when I woke up on Saturday morning, my calves were KILLING me!} This was a great way to review and reinforce counting to 100.
Then, we started our 100th day stations. I used Cara Carroll's idea of using a punch card for students to keep track of which stations they already went to. I created our own punch cards because we already had some activities that we wanted to include. Students were able to begin wherever they wanted. As they finished an activity, their job was to come and get me so I could 1) take a photo and 2) punch their punch card. This system worked out really well!
Here are some of the stations that we used:
^^  Build a 100 cup structure
 ^^ Dot 100 gumballs
 ^^ Hats with 100 stickers
 ^^ Necklaces with 100 beads
 ^^ Starburst 100 chart
^^ Build a 100 snap cube structure
We also made pictures with 100 pattern blocks and played roll and race to 100! At the end of the day, we enjoyed a 100 piece snack.
Are you ready to celebrate the 100th day of school? Grab this FREE and EDITABLE 100th day punchcard to help your students keep track of the stations they've been to! I like to hole punch them at the top and make them into necklaces so they don't go missing! Click the image below to download now!

Hop on over to my friends' blogs to read about some more fabulous 100th day ideas! Click on the images to visit their blogs!

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A Fresh Start in 2016

Happy New Year, everyone! We headed back to school on Monday, although none of us were ready for our winter break to end! Coming back from winter break always symbolizes a fresh start for me. I usually stop into school for a day or two to re-organize, rearrange furniture, and create some things that have been on my to-do list since September! As much as I enjoy a freshly organized and clean classroom, I need to remember that for some of my students, it's a really fresh start. Like, mirroring the beginning of the year, fresh! This year, I took a few days to re-establish our classroom community and reinforce rules and expectations.  Here's a peek into what our first few days looked like.
We started Monday morning by reading The Day a Monster Came to School. I like saving this book for after winter break because my kinders seem more ready to understand it and make connections. {You could always just read it again though!!} I got this copy from Kindergarten Smiles and LOVE it because it has pictures to go along with the story. Not having to create it saved me a lot of time! 

We talked about how the monster was misbehaving because he didn't know the classroom rules, and how he made good choices once he knew and understood them.  In the past, I've used the Whole Brain Teaching rules with great success. However, this year, my group of kiddos seem to need more concrete rules. {ex. Make smart choices wasn't clear enough for them, they needed to know that they must keep their hands and feet to themselves}. So, I decided this was a great time of year to scrap our old rules and create new ones! I gave each of my students a post-it note and asked them to use pictures or words to tell us one rule that they think should be on our classroom rules list.
(You can't really see it well, but his said "no hitting")
When they were finished, each student presented their classroom rule and stuck their post-it to our anchor chart. I took sloppy notes on our Promethean board so that I had a gist of the rules everyone created. I'll spare you from that picture.
We counted up our rules and found that we thought of 13 classroom rules. Boy, is that too many to remember! So, I told the class that I would take the 13 rules home with me and change them into the rules that I wanted diligently try to find a way to narrow it down to 5 or 6. Thank goodness I was able to do that! Here are the 5 classroom rules we decided on.

The next day, I presented the rules to the class, and we voted to make sure they were all a good fit for us. We then thought of motions to put with each rule so that we fit a little bit of that WBT in. Here's what we thought of (the motion for rule 2 is the same as in WBT):

Follow directions quickly.

Raise your hand to talk.

Listen when someone is talking.

Be the boss of you.

Keep your hands and feet to yourself.

We are spending the rest of the week creating our own "Monster School Rules" book inspired by Kindergarten Smiles. I used her idea and book cover, but changed the inside pages to fit our classroom rules. I am excited to have this book to reinforce our rules AND for the kids to take home and show their parents.

We will review our rules each morning just like we did with the WBT rules, and each time we are having trouble following one. Even just today, I was able to hold up 3 fingers and point to my ear when a few of my students were talking over someone, and they knew exactly what I meant! I can already tell 2016 will be off to a great start!
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