Friday, September 23, 2016

Using Whisper Voices or Not!

Have you ever asked children (in any grade level) the following questions?

1. What is a quiet Voice?
2. What is an inside voice?

Then all the marvelous little voices begin to "yell" all at the same time; what they think and know a quiet voice is! Yes, this happens to me every year and it doesn't matter how many times we "talk" and I "model" what an inside voice is and sounds like; outside voices are pretty much used 95.999999999% of the day!

Another overly used statement, especially the first few weeks of school is:

"Please raise your hand and wait to speak."
Followed by:
"But I need to say something." (while waving hand in the air as fast as they can)
Me: "Ok, what do you need to say?" 
Student: "we have kittens."

As you can see, the first few weeks can be tough for my students and me. There's usually anywhere from 19 to 23 students all trying to speak over each other, over the teacher, or anyone who walks into the classroom. Over the years I've thought and pondered on how to teach children the importance of speaking softly, using inside voices, and take turns speaking. I've modeled, we have had group discussions, chart our ideas, and constant reminders. Frankly, it's a struggle all year long, until now. This year I was determined to teach students about not just inside voices, but also about table voices, outside voices, six-inch voices, and whisper voices! Yes! I myself have learned about other types of voices not just my students. After learning about the different types of voices one can have, we chanted "SQUEEK-A-MA-DOODLE" all while using our different voices. The kids loved it and well, I'm pretty much a happy teacher who has taught my students all about our 6-inch voice!

I've learned that there's something about using stories that children can truly relate too; when we want to teach them certain concepts (like whispering.) This was evident during our readings; We sure learned a lot from Decibella, a little girl in school, who is learning when to speak loud, soft, and even whisper! Or Louis who's mouth is a volcano and always "Errupts." His tongue just happens to always push all his words out his mouth, through his teeth, and always gets in trouble! Even Lacey, who learns how to be a good listener, because she lost her voice and can't use it anymore. These books have taught both my student's and I important life lessons and are now part of my teacher collection and will be so for a long time!

  Books on how to teach children to speak softly                       Books on how to teach kids to use inside voices teaching kids about inside voices or whisper voices

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The Rules of the Classroom

As I'm writing this post, I'm thinking about how lucky I am, because every year I start school in July! Yes, it "cuts" into my "summer break" but that doesn't bother me, click here if you want to know why I start in July.
To top it off, this year is EXTRA special for me because my very own baby girl starts kindergarten. She also happens to be our baby, and has been asking for a whole year (really, I think, ever since she realized I am a kindergarten teacher) for me to be her teacher. This past year, while she was in pre-school, I thought and pondered about the idea. My husband and I talked about the pros and cons. I even asked veteran trusted teachers for advice and decided why not? So, for over a year we have been "prepping" her to be in mommy's classroom. We would constantly inform her, that if she was going to be in "momma's" class, she had to listen like every one else. We also made her aware, that mommy would share her heart and time with other children in the classroom; as expected she would listen quietly, ask why, and would finally nod and say OKAY, after a huge sigh and she always wanted a hug!
Honestly, up until last week I was somewhat worried. Last week was our first week together in the classroom and I was so impressed, surprised, and amazed by her! Her maturity, kind heart, and extrovert personality were far beyond my own expectations of her. I think my husband and I made a good choice, not to mention my amazing principal who also gave me the ok! Needless to say, tomorrow we start our second week together and I'm so looking forward to it!
I credit part of this success to some of my classroom rules, procedures, and expectations. It's cliché to say children thrive on boundaries, but it is the truth!
My first week with students, we play at all of our centers and practice routines and procedures. We read several first day of kindergarten/first day of school books and we sing many songs.
One the songs we sing and I also use to teach classroom "rules" comes from Mr. Harry Kindergarten Music  the rules of the classroom:

But before we even sing this song I lead the students into a discussion about my role as a teacher and their role as a student. We chart our ideas, and eventually all their ideas can be summarized perfectly into this song.  After I write down their ideas, I show them our posters for each rule, which look like this in our class:

Classroom Rules Posters

Classroom rules posters

Class rules for kindergarten

And we can never sing this song enough through out the year! Setting clear classroom rules and expectations will lead you to a productive school year! Add amazing little minds at work to that and it's even more so beautiful! Children will love learning!

If you would like a set for your own class here you go!
Rules for the classroom

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 New Year and Blog Hopping Fun!

Happy New Year Friends! This is what I'm currently doing on the first day of the year...

Listening to my washer spin as I blog away, I do not know why, but hubby woke up EARLY this morning and is doing laundry!

Loving CROSSFIT, exactly a month ago my sister took me with her to a free class and needless to say I fell in love with crossfit, Dear yoga, I will come back.... I promise!

Thinking... I am a thinker, always thinking, and this morning I woke up thinking about this upcoming year. My plans, my hubby's plans, our kids, we all have dreams, wishes, ideas, and thinking about how it will all roll out! Praying and Expecting a fruitful and happy year!

Wanting, Biscochos!!! No one made biscochos for Christmas this year and I have been craving them since then. I pulled up a recipe from online yesterday and they came out OK, they look pretty... taste, not what i was expecting, but still good. Check them out in my IG account here, I had so much fun baking them with my 4 year old daughter! "Mommy, it's like playing with play-doh!" Those are the moments I truly live for!

Needing COFFEE!! I thrive on Coffee, and it's still brewing. I love how it makes my kitchen smell. Now only if coffee tasted the way it smelled :)

One little word: LOVE, love God, love myself, love my family, love my job, and love those around me!  This is what keeps me grounded and rooted. Something we all need, especially in today's  society!

Speaking of LOVE, who doesn't love a good giveaway, especially a TPT $30 gift certificate? My friends Suzy, Amy, and I, from On the go Teacher Mama and Albuquerque Amy and Academics are hosting a New Year's Blog Hop, giveaway, and freebies.

1st: download my kinder freebie, even if your not kinder, share with your Kinder teacher friends, they might find it useful :) Feedback is welcome!

kindergarten counting activities

2nd: Enter Our Fabulous Give Away (3 giveaways, $30 TPT gift certificate, K-2nd bundle and 3-5th bundle) Good Luck!

3rd: Hop on to Amy's blog from Albuquerque Amy and Academics, for a fabulous freebie :) Only three blogs, with amazing products and freebies! When you get back to me, you are done! Best Wishes and lots of Love! #tchr888

P.S. If you want to join the "Currently" linky party go on to Farley's blog :)

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Winter Wonder Family Memory

I'm excited to announce a winter holiday freebie blog hop! In case this is your first time on my blog, my name is Laura, I am a kindergarten teacher in the lovely Southwest, the beautiful desert in New Mexico. Our winters don't get much snow, unless we drive northeast for about an hour and half, then we get to see a beautiful Winter Wonderland! Winter is always full of wonder and awe for me, I'm often busy with family and mega church productions that I love being part off, but today I will be sharing something near and dear to my heart! A winter wonder family memory and tradition!

One of my favorite winter wonders is baking cookies with my own children during the holiday break. Growing up, I watched my own mother, grandmother, and aunts, gather around the table and bake and cook for what seemed days, getting ready for La Noche Buena. They made tamales, biscochos, buñuelos, posole, and menudo! Then we would stay up till midnight (La Noche Buena) eating, laughing, singing, drinking champurrado (Mexican porridge drink) and telling stories! Then right at midnight we would open our Christmas gifts! A beautiful tradition that I still carry on dearly in my heart, and I'm passing on to my very own, as the years pass on! For this, I celebrate, and as a winter wonder memory, here's fabulous winter holiday freebie just for you, revolving around cookies and counting! May your days be merry, full of wonder and joy! XOXOXOXOXOX!

Don't forget: My whole entire store will also be on sale for the #TpTCyber Sale :)

P.S. Hop On for another Fabulous Memory and freebie!!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sight Words Practice

Hi everyone! I'm so excited to be sharing this post with you today. Over the last two weeks, my educational assistant and I have been implementing new and engaging ways to have our students learn their sight words. I think we have discovered some activities that have been successful and I wanted to to share them with you, so here we go!sight words

Magic Sight Words

The first activity is a #pinterest inspired idea! Mrs. Saenz, came up with this idea, it is so simple, yet magical! The kids were so excited to reveal the magic word, read it, then write it! I seriously haven't seen my kids wait their turn anxiously to go to our sight word center! I told the kids, "Today you will be magicians, on this white sheet of paper, you have some magic words that amazing readers and writers can read. All you have to do is color over the white box to reveal your magical sight word, then AbraCadaBra... read it, then write it! Hearing them talk with each other about what sight words they each revealed, was music to my ears! Here is all you need for this activity.

  • White Construction Paper
  • White Crayons
  • Paint or markers
Then have students do the rest, for variation, you can have students write the words themselves, trade with a partner, then their partner reveals the "magic sight word."

sight word activities

Read it, Build it, Write it

The next activity was one of those ideas you come up with on the fly! We recently ran out of copy paper at our school, so I couldn't make copies of my usual activities. I had to think fast, fast, as a snap and sometimes those ideas seem to be the most engaging with true authentic learning! Once again the kids loved this activity! The best part was hearing them sing the alphabet, to make sure they were placing back their letters in alphabetical order! 

  • Sentence strips folded up into 1/4 (write one word per section, then cut them out), then draw picture of a dice with numbers 1-6 
  • Regular sheet of paper folded into 1/3
  • Magnetic letters or letter tiles
  • Dice
  • Dry erase markers and eraser
  • Plastic Covers for re-use
  • Students roll a Dice, find the matching word with the same number.
  • Then they read it, build, and write it!

sight word activities

Forever Magic Sight Word Freebie

Since these activities have been such a success, I've actually created a forever freebie printable, to go right along with them! Enjoy, and may your students have a #magical experience learning their sight words! Here you go~  :)

Add caption

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Number Sense: More than just counting and writing numbers

number sense and counting

As children enter kindergarten, they bring with them many prior experiences, one of them being counting or what we know better as reciting number sequences. This is very similar to children singing the alphabet as it is easy for us to confuse this experience with numerical knowledge. Numerical knowledge has four interrelated aspects that help children develop early number concepts and number sense.

The Four Interrelated Aspects Are:

 number sense and counting

  1. Number sequence. The names and the ordered list of number words
  2. One-to-one correspondence: Counting Objects by saying numbers words in a 1:1 correspondence with the objects
  3. Cardinality. Understanding  that the last number word said when counting tells tells how many objects have been counted
  4. Subitizing. Quickly recognizing and naming how many objects are in a small group without counting. Young Children can recognize and name quantities of objects that are less than four without counting (Clements & Sarama, 2007)
These numerical aspects are crucial in the primary grades (Pre-K through 2nd grade), if students do not develop these aspects or number sense, they will struggle with addition, multiplication, and everything else that revolves around numbers. Therefore, we must keep in mind that, "Children must construct these ideas through a variety of experiences and activities. They cannot be forced. As Children work on each of these aspects of early counting, their understanding about counting is continually refined. For example, children will learn how to count  (matching counting words with objects) before they understand that the last count word indicates the amount of the set or the cardinality of the set. We can at the same time use subtilizing to emphasize the notion of cardinality and to help emphasize the notion that counting tells "how many." ( Van de Walle, Lovin, Karp, & Bay-Williams, 2014) So how do we develop number sense?

Number Sense, Developed by Building Number Relationships
Number sense is something that grows and develops over time, Howden (1989) described number sense as a "good intuition about numbers and their relationships. It develops gradually as a result  of exploring, visualizing, and relating them" to each other. Number Relationships also has four parts, that will be discussed in another blog post.  At a glance, they are:

number sense and counting

In essences math lessons must revolve around these 4 aspects and 4 relationships. If we give children these opportunities, they will develop number sense while acquiring a conceptual understanding of mathematics! What it may look like....

Number Sequence & 1:1 Correspondence

number sense and countingnumber sense and counting

After reciting numbers with videos, songs, dances, chants, poems, flash cards, give students the opportunity to explore, visualize, and manipulate what they just RECITED, SANG, etc..! 
Using number cards, students count up to that number while clapping or jumping once and only once.   Then they can build it using connecting cubes or any other manipulative. TIP: always start off with concrete lessons, then move on to abstract activities (i.e. worksheets) If you notice a student can't clap or jump for each number being said, they're most likely still struggling with the number sequence, and they will not be able to match counting words with objects, claps, or jumps (1:1 correspondence)
Here are more examples of more concrete activities:

number sense and countingnumber sense and counting

Again these 4 aspects are interrelated; they don't have to be practiced in isolation. Children can explore, visualize, and relate these aspects all at the same time. Cardinality & Subtizing may look like this: 
number sense and countingnumber sense and counting

number sense and counting

Give students activities where they "make the number." Making a number revolves around the "last number said or how many objects have been counted." 


Subitizing develops spatial relationships: "many children learn to recognize the dot arrangements on standard dice, therefore similar instant recognition can be developed for patterns in spatial relationships" ( Van de Walle, Lovin, Karp, & Bay-Williams, 2014). Eventually it will aid in counting on, or learning the combinations of numbers. When I first introduce this activity, I also let them "make the number." Simply show the dotted card for 3-5 seconds and they "make" the same quantity. Before you know it, they will just subtize.... quickly recognize the quantity without counting! Dots must be arranged in specific order and color to make patterns recognizable. (dot patterns for dot plates) 
number sense and counting

As children develop number sense, more than just counting, they will be be adding and multiplying numbers (in kindergarten) in the non-traditional algorithm way, and like me, you'll be amazed! When you see this happening, be assured that they are developing a conceptual understanding of mathematics! Van de Walle, et al, affirms, "that the principal tool children poses and will use as they construct these relationships, is counting, initially, then, you will notice a lot of counting,  and you may wonder if you're making progress. Have Patience! Counting will become less and less necessary as children construct new relationships and begin to use more powerful ideas." 


Van de Walle,  J., Lovin, L.,  Karp, K., & Bay-Williams, J., (2014) Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics. Developmentally appropriate instruction for grades Pre-K-2. 2nd Ed. USA: Pearson Education. 

Clements, D.H., & Sarama, J., (2007) Early Childhood Mathematics Learning. In F.K. Lester, Jr. (Ed.), Second handbook on mathematics teaching and learning (pp. 461-555). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

Howden, H. (1989). Teaching number sense. Arithmetic Teacher, 36(6), 6-11.

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Friday, September 4, 2015

Happy New Year!

For my family and I, the first day of school is always like New Year's Day. In fact we anxiously await, the first day of school, buy new clothes, new school supplies, and celebrate the start of a New School Year!

Back to school Tchr888

For me it's literally the start of a new year, even more so than January 1st! It's a fresh start for me as a teacher, and also for my kids and student's. I have butterflies in my stomach, I'm nervous, I'm excited, yet happy...

The days that lead up to the first day, we close our last year (as a family) and talk about summer favorites, our new goals, our new expectations, and family expectations. We talk about our excitements, and if we are going to try anything new or different, then bam, we hit the new school year running and our HAPPY NEW YEAR begins!

I don't know about you, but for me the months of August and September are busy, exhausting, crazy, and definitely a new beginning! For the first six weeks, my life is literally consumed with the new school year, no joke! If you are reading this blog post, I bet you feel the same way! For this reason, I'm having a #backtoschool and #laborday 2015 giveaway Beginning tonight till Monday 9/7 at Midnight (mountain Standard time)! Hard work pays off and Teachers definitely deserve the rest!

How do you celebrate the new school year with your family! Do you have any traditions? Anything your kids look forward too? Leave a comment below with what you and your kids do!
Don't have any kids? How do you prepare, do you have any childhood memories, you would like to share?

Now on to the giveaway:

One lucky winner will receive $50 in Educents Bucks and I have bundled my most popular K-1 items  for a total value of $61.50!

Tchr888 Bundle:
Scuba Counting 0-9: $3.50
Rhyming & Phonics Interactive Journal Activities: $4.00
Learning My Letters Alpha Activities: $4.00

New to Educents??? No Problem: You can sign up here: And Browse hundreds of discounted educational resources!!!! Prices Guaranteed!


Don't Forget to share with your friends and colleagues! Wishing you a Prosperous & Happy New School Year!!

$50 Edubucks and Tchr888 K-1 Bundle

Thank you everyone who entered, Wishing you a wonderful school year!! Jennifer is our giveaway winner! We have emailed you please, email us back! :)