Sunday, February 28, 2016

Read Across America with the Primary Pack!

Greetings from our colorful box of bloggers!

The week ahead heralds the integration of all things Dr. Seuss-related in classrooms across the U.S., and we thought it would be fun to link-up our best ideas in one convenient place for you!

Wonderful rhymes, favorite books, sensational snacks, creative name it....we've collaborated to provide you with a round-up of resources that will surely make your classroom learning celebration the best one yet!

Once you've hopped through each blog post, scooped up any freebies you find, and pinned all of our great ideas, be sure that you are following The Primary Pack on social media!  You don't want to miss any future events, freebies, and fantastic blog posts!

As always, thanks so much for your continued support and patronage!
Stay colorful!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Motivating Readers with Sight Word Money (Freebie Included!)

We all know that when children are learning how to read, sight words are a very important part of the process. These words are a big part of the reading material we use in the classroom, but many of them do not follow the basic phonetic rules, therefore they can't be sounded out. Some children learn their sight words quickly and others have no interest at this time. So we were looking for a fun and engaging way to motivate our children to WANT to learn their words.

So we talked and talked and thought about many different ideas and came up with sight word "money".
Who doesn't love money? Who doesn't like to earn something for their hard work? 

Seriously, best ever!! Our children are so excited to learn their sight words and earn their sight word money! They are excited, they are motivated, they are learning, AND they are reading!!!!

We teach many sight words throughout the school year, however, we have a list of 50 words that are assessed on our Kindergarten Literacy Assessment. These are the words we chose to track for the school year. We made 50 "dollar bills", each one with a different sight word shown. We also added a back side to the money for the children to write their name and the date they earned it.

We decided to make them black and white so the children could color their money and give them their own personal touch. We want them to show their pride in a job well done!

We also made a "Sight Word Wallet" for the children to store their money and to keep track of the words earned. We put the list on the back of the "wallet."

One of the great things about the Sight Word Money is the ability to differentiate expectations based on the child, the marking period, or any other criteria you would like to use. Our goals are based on the words taught during that marking period as well as what the child's reading level is. We highlight the words for each marking period using a different color highlighter. When the word has been mastered, we check off the word and the child earns their dollar.

We like to "try" (haha) to be organized at the beginning of the school year and get as many things copied as we can. We run off a class set of the money in the beginning of the school year and cut them apart. We don't cut them out completely, we let the children do that part. We found the most perfect storage folders at Target. You will need a few of these to store you sight words if you do many words like we did. They are easily accessed and they were stored best in ABC order.

In addition to receiving their money, we also reward the children in other ways. We want to keep them excited and keep them learning also. Some of the different incentives we use are:
brag tags
terrific ticket
free book
special snack with teacher

We also give them a brightly colored and adorable certificate when they read all 50 sight words!

We asked the children what they thought about the sight word money. Here were some of their answers:
"I love it!"
"I think it's awesome!"
"It's cute!"
"It makes us rich!"

How true that last statement is! It makes them rich in so many ways!

These proud faces say it all:

Lastly, we have a special treat just for you!
We are offering these Sight Word Money templates to you for FREE!! Oh, and they are editable! This way you can personalize them to your class!

They will only be free until February 29, 2016 so don't miss out!
You can download your freebie here or by clicking on the picture below. We hope your students enjoy earning "money" as much as ours do! Thanks for stopping by! Have a great day!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Swimming to 100!

The 100th day of school is such a fun time! I love to watch all their faces as they move from 99 to 100. It seems that, with that extra zero, they have entered a new world. There are so many fabulous 100th day ideas out there, but my kids wanted to make up their own! Here is a fishy set of ideas that you can pull out any time of the year to get your kids collaborating and counting by 10's...
We have a little pond in our backyard and my kids are head over heels for the goldfish, so we made up a little song about 100 little fish. My daughter is still working on learning all her color words, so I threw in the colors. You can get your free copy here. In case you don't know the tune of "Found A Peanut", my kids and I decided to record a copy of our song! You can hear us screeching loud and clear over on my blog!
I think that it would be a lot of fun to do an activity with the fish in the classroom. Break your kids into 10 groups. Each group will get a strip of 10 fish, 1 pond, and they will be assigned one color.
Each group will be responsible for coloring their 10 fish. 
Kids can color the fish with crayons, markers, or even bingo dabbers.

It can be used to count by 10's to 100. The ponds can be laid loose around the room, or glue them to a mural.
I've included numerals 10-100 in the pack. After all of the ponds have been created, the groups can help counting by 10's until they have counted all the fish. The kids in each group can place or glue the numerals next each pond.

I've included 2 extension worksheets that you can use after the group activity. Kids can count, color and trace 
 OR count, color and record the numerals.
 We had a lot of fun counting up a rainbow of fishies! We counted up 100 goldfish crackers, too!!
 Hopefully, you have a wonderful 100th day of school with lots of learning and tons of fun!  And don't forget to go enter The Primary Pack Giveaway that is running from  February 7-14th. 

You can also head over to the link up with TONS of February resources. 
There are freebies and a bunch of must-have fun!

Until next time,

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Our Heart Belongs to Teachers Giveaway!

Valentine's Day is one of my favorite holidays during the school year. I love making valentines with my students, putting together valentines to give them, and of course binge eating all the chocolate! The Primary Packers wanted to do something fun for Valentine's Day too. I created a little play-doh valentine to share with you, in case you are still looking for the perfect idea for your students. Check it out, and then check out the giveaway to win some "doh" for your classroom from The Primary Pack!

You can snag the printable by clicking on the image below. Just trace the bottom of the play-doh can, cut out the hole, and pop it right in!
And now for the giveaway! We at The Primary Pack want you to know that our heart belongs to teachers! So we are having this giveaway in honor of Valentine's Day--just one more way for us to spread some love to you. We are giving away a 100.00 gift card to TeachersPayTeachers. That's a whole lotta "doh!" Just enter below!
The giveaway ends on February 13th at Midnight. The winner will be announced on Valentine's Day by Ashley of One Sharp Bunch! Good luck, and Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

5 Ways to Ultimately Destroy Your Author Celebration

Hello friends!  This is Cara Taylor from Creative Playground and I'm so happy to be learning and sharing with you today!  Since we're at that half-way mark in the school year, many of us are at that point when our kiddos are nearing the end of publishing a writing piece.  If you have or are planning to hold an Author Celebration or Publishing Party, make sure to keep reading to discover...

We could go on for days talking about how to create a positive celebration experience, but I've narrowed it down to a few ways I've learned over the past 18 years to have it be somewhat of a success. (insert wink here!)  I need to clarify, that when I'm speaking of a celebration or party today, I'm talking about the kind that you invite people from the "outside" world of the school building; you know, those people that have no idea what we do every day!
Friends, if you really don't have the time to have a celebration, don't do it.  If you don't have the time to PLAN it, don't do it.  If you don't know how, find out first before having a celebration.  If you're having parents, families, community members come to your classroom, don't you want them to see your room at its best?  Especially because it's YOUR room, with YOUR name on the door!  So really take the time to carefully plan out every aspect of the party as much as you can and know how to do.  

Everyone's arrived at the party and seated at 10 am for the first author to read.  Please don't forget that some of our students like to write a little and some like to write A LOT.  Don't let students that write novels present all their material; the audience will be asleep by the time the first reader is done reading!
A few ideas for curbing the sleeping audience monsters are:
~Having students choose their favorite parts of their piece.
~Reading one line from a paragraph or just showing the illustrations and discussing them instead of reading their piece.
~Have the audience do a gallery walk of your room to visit each author to talk about their writing instead of having them read it.

Not all our students are excellent readers either.  Please don't put Lizzy in the spotlight with a 5-page story and less that average reading skills, WITHOUT some kind of support system.  It's not fair to Lizzy for one.  Trust me, Lizzy knows she doesn't read well, so let's give the girl a hand here to make this a successful experience because the purpose of the celebration! 
Here are some things you can do for struggling readers:
~Provide a microphone, especially for those students with low voice volumes.  
~Allow students to present with a partner, to ease some of their anxiety.  
~Show their piece on the document camera for the audience to follow along with, while the student is reading.

This one can be a hard call!  You definitely want to have ENOUGH time for all the students to share with someone.  Their little hearts would be devastated if they couldn't be the star for at least a moment during the party!  And don't plan for TOO MUCH time without something for everyone to do.  
~Arrange your party so that the audience members can leave once they've heard a few readers, commented on a few pieces, had a snack, etc.  You don't want people just sitting around doing nothing.  
~Always have something for the audience to do.  You know what it can get like when you have down time in the classroom and nothing for the kids to do!  Agghhh!

By this I mean try to think out of the box and make your even different and fun for everyone!  No one wants to come and just sit and hear kids read and that's it.  Search the web, look on Pinterest, ask your peers about what they do to jazz up their celebrations; just don't make it plain Jane style.
~Think about where your celebration will be held.  Maybe you could have it outside in the school garden!  Or what about in the decorated Library?  Think somewhere other than the classroom!
~Have a theme for the party.  Maybe the students could dress up as one of their characters.  Or perhaps all the students' stories relate to a certain genre and the theme can revolve around that!  Make it fun!
~Publish some of the pieces online ahead of time.  Have them on your classroom blog or school website for parents and relatives that can't come to the celebration to be able to read as well!

I'm sure we all have an idea or two that we could talk about having an awesome party or celebration for days!  I hope you learned something or I made you think a little about how you could make your next Author Celebration even better!

If you're interested, I have a new product in my store that will assist you in many things I didn't talk about today, like invitations, posters, name tags, and more!  

Check it out if you have a chance and it's currently half-off in my store!  Just click on the image above!

What are your special ways to celebrate your authors in your classroom?  Let's start a conversation!  Comment below and share your ideas!

Until Next Time,

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Using QR Codes to Email in the Classroom

Ahhhh the relaxing month of February is upon us... said no teacher ever! I mean you have black history, dental health, Groundhog Day, 100th Day, Chinese New Year, my birthday (hahaha ha you all celebrate it right?!), Valentine's Day, President's Day, Leap Year... you get the point. At this point in the year I'm trying to keep the kiddos on their toes and manage to get to everything I intend to cover. Easier said than done, right? That's why it's great to multitask and kill two birds with one stone. 

At my school we have been working hard on building writing skills the last month or so and dying to tie in our iPads with it. This is where this idea popped up. A teacher across the hall came up with the idea and I ran with it.  The month of love notes is upon us, right?!?!

QR codes that link to your email! We downloaded a free QR reader app on our iPads and I used to create my QR codes. It was super easy. You choose email address on the first step for 'data type' and then enter your email or the email you would like the code to lead to. For today I projected the QR code on my board, but you could aways print them for their tables or folders.  

Bada-bing bada-boom, it immediately opens an email as soon as they scan it. 

My kinders then took out their morning writing page and typed it up (corrections and all) and sent it to my email.

They loved getting to send me special mail and this teacher loved that they were building keyboarding skills!

They couldn't have been more proud of their work and loved asking me if their email made it to my Apple Watch for me to read! 

Just one simple activity brought a days worth of teachable moments:
-Writing rubrics also apply to typing.
-How to capitalize and punctuate on a keyboard.
-Finger spaces are just like tapping a finger on the space.
-Why does a squiggly red line come up under my word?
-Hitting the spacebar twice adds a period and a capital for me.

This activity would also be great for: 
-students to email their parents for incentive of good behavior
-students to email spelling lists or sight words home
-student pen pals 
-students to email about upcoming events
The possibilities are ENDLESS!

What would you use it for?

Don't forget to check out our February Resources

If you haven't yet I'd love for you to check out my blog:
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