Powered By Blog Gadgets

Monday, October 31, 2011


      I just finished my "Candy Canes and Cupcakes 10 Frame Game."  I was inspired by 2 things:
                 1) all of the Christmas decorations ALREADY in the stores and
                 2) my students who need more practice "making" numbers 10 to 20.
      Hopefully, this game will help my students and yours gain a better understanding of the teens as collections of tens and ones.  The type of game is a favorite in our class:  Try to get the most cards while avoiding a card that makes you return some to the pile.  It's a very simple concept that all of my students understand and enjoy (especially when I play and get one of those cards!).
      Be sure to download it now!  It's only FREE thru Thursday, November 3rd!!!  Click on the caption below the picture to read more about it and get the game!  Kindly leave a rating.
Candy Canes & Cupcakes 10 Frame Game
Thanks for following my blog!
Teacher Tam
Pin It!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Blog on Fire Award

First of all, I have to thank Kimberly at Science, Etc. for this award.  The rules are that I have to tell 7 things about myself and nominate 7 more blogs for the award.

Here are 7 things about me:  

1.  I currently live in Chicago, but I'm originally from eastern Kentucky.  They are about as different as 2 places can get.  I like it here (obviously), but a part of me will always miss home.

2.  I LOVE coffee.  I drink as many cups a day as I have children (my own, NOT the number in my class).  That's 3 cups a day.  It makes me happy and keeps me awake!

3.  I LOVE chocolate.  Any kind will do, although Lindor is a favorite. (Hint, hint, husband dear.)

4.  I'm really into preserving family memories, but I hate to scrapbook.  I like to do video interviews with family members and always encourage others to do the same.  (Yes, I know that it's annoying, but I want others to think about how important videos of grandparents will be after they pass away.)

5.  I love to laugh.  I think that's one of the reasons why I enjoy teaching preschool and kindergarten so much.  There is never a dull moment and the laughter of children is contagious!  I think it keeps me healthier--and definitely happier.

6.  I am an avid tv watcher.  My husband likes movies, but I prefer television.  I like stories that go on and on and on . . . "Lost" was my all-time favorite show.

7.  I originally went to school to become a marriage and family counselor.  My master's is in clinical psychology.  But, while working on my doctorate, I had to follow the school counselor around for the day.  I ended up in the first grade room cutting out bulletin board materials and decided to stay!

Here are 7 amazing blogs that I follow.  I am nominating them for the "Blog on Fire Award," as well. Take a moment and pay them a visit.

1.  Nyla's Crafty Teaching
2.  Terri's Teaching Treasures
3.  A Place Called Kindergarten
4.  Bee's Kindergarden
5.  Crayons & Curls
6.  Doodle Bugs Teaching
7.  Mrs. Ayala's Kinder Fun!
Pin It!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

It's Not Broadway, But It's Close Enough For Me

     I think I secretly want to be an actress.  Or, there's at least a little bit of an actress in there somewhere.  You definitely have to be one to be an early childhood educator, that's for sure.  I am reminded of that every day as I teach both my students and my own children.  You have to not only impart information, but entertain, dazzle, and somehow get them engaged enough to retain what they are learning.

     To entertain usually means props.  Children love props.  This week, my daughter was learning a little fall poem in Mandarin, so we made leaves.  Even her little brothers got into the act!  Nobody wants to miss out on something fun!   Learning that boring poem was easily made fascinating by the addition of a few hand-drawn, child-colored leaves.

     In our parents and tots class at Language Stars*, props are plentiful.  One of the props for this week was so cute and entertaining I just had to blog about it.  My son got excited when the chef puppet came out.  (Okay, I'll admit it.  I liked the puppet, too.)  What child (and child at heart) doesn't love puppets?

My son takes his cake from the entertaining chef puppet

     At the beginning of class every week, the little ones have to answer two simple questions:  What is your name?  and How old are you?  To help in the "how old are you" department, the teacher brings out a cake.  Each child gets the same number of pieces as his/her age.  My son is used to this routine by now, so when the cake came out, he was not interested in the least.  In fact, he turned away to look at something else.  That is, until the chef came out!

     All of a sudden, he was engaged and learning again, taking his 2 pieces of cake from the puppet.  And, more importantly, he remained engaged the entire time, watching as each child took pieces of cake from the chef.

     So I think I'll take a cue from our Language Stars teacher this week.  I am definitely going to purchase a new puppet.

Thanks for reading,
Teacher Tam

*As a parent blogger, I receive 50% off our Language Stars tuition.  This doesn't affect what I blog about in the slightest, though.  I really like the Language Stars classes!
Pin It!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Can Homework Be Fun?

      I was always hesitant to send things home with my little ones.  But, as kindergarten slowly became the "new first grade," it became necessary to a certain degree.  I have also had several parents ask me for homework or suggestions about academically-oriented activities.  Then, after I became a parent, I found out why doing a "homework" assignment or two doesn't hurt:  you're spending time together, helping them with necessary skills, and finding out more about their current skills and areas that need work.
     But, I do NOT like to send home worksheets.  I always send games,  fun activities, or books.  One example is my "Friday Fun Backpacks" (I'll have to start these again soon) filled with books and related activity pages.  These are usually packed around a theme like Dr. Seuss.  One pack is just a LeapFrog with 5 sets of books & tapes.  Even the kids that say they already have one love to take it home!  Right now, I have some great ideas for a dinosaur pack and I've collected some books and other WAY-cool stuff, but just haven't had the time to put it together.  (I'm waiting for some beginning readers with dinos.  I wanted to make some, but I'm so busy! Let me know if you find any cool dino printable books.)
     The majority of homework that I send home are games.  I have probably over 100 different games by now.  Some are out in my classroom, ready to send home.  Others are boxed at school and in my basement!  Here's what my game basket looks like:

My homework game basket

     Games are an easy way to differentiate instruction.  Each child in my classroom (while still doing most of the same large group work and center activities) is working at his/her own level and pace.  For example, I always have a few students who are working on letter sounds, so I can send related games home with them.  Another group might be working on reading 3-letter words, so they take these games home.  One more group might need to work on reading simple sentences or long vowel sound words.  When students need more practice on a certain skill, I make a new game!  Here are a few of my games:
I made this game so students could work on short vowel sounds.  

These are both reading games where the students read 3-letter words.
     So do the games come back?  I know you want the answer to this!  Most of the games do come back.  Parts and pieces, now that's a different story.  But, these small things are bound to get lost in the shuffle, anyway, whether they go home or stay in the classroom.  I keep a list of student names, keeping track of which game they have played (both to keep track of material covered and the game).  I also send homework tags with each game listing the date they are sent and  the homework to be covered (and any notes about which set of cards to use or other instructions about the material).  Parents sign the tag and provide simple feedback about the game (was it easy/just right/difficult?).  I give sticker chart stickers for signed, returned games.  

     Believe it or not, my students actually ASK for the games!  They really like the games with cool graphics and playing pieces like cars or animals.  They return the games because they want to take another one home!

     So, here are a couple of FREE GAMES from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  Be sure to get a copy for your class!  Click on the caption below each picture, go to the page and click "download."

A math game for greater than, less than, & equal to

A CVC Word Reading Game

Thanks for reading!
Teacher Tam

Pin It!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

My Mandarin Obsession

     Some parents are obsessed with football.  I see them painting their minivans with "Go Bears!" or, better yet, listing the name of their son or daughter and other teammates ALL over the windows.  (How is it even possible to drive that way?!) Some are obsessed with karate, taking off early from work to chauffeur them to class, rushing them out the school door dressed in a disheveled gi.  But, least I think for one second that I'm better than any of these parents, I must take a long, hard look in the mirror.  I'm obsessed with Mandarin class.

     This morning, I got the dreaded call.  Our classes at Language Stars* were cancelled.  BOTH teachers were sick!  This would be no big deal except that my kids are already signed up for classes 2 times a week, the most that our site offers.  And, even though they have a great make-up policy,  I don't want a make-up class in Spanish or Italian.  How would that possibly help a Mandarin-obsessed mom?!  So I got online and found two other classes at another center--one of which started in 20 minutes.  Could we even make it in time?

     Out the door we ran, carrying my daughter to the car with no shoes.  And my son was just thrilled with being rushed out the door because 2 1/2-year-olds just love a frenzied pace.  Not.  By the time we made it to class (relatively on time, thanks to my husband's amazing mental map of Chicago), I was exhausted.  But, my Mandarin obsession was safe.  Everyone was in class, including my reluctant, speaks-not-a-word of Mandarin husband.

     It might be difficult at times (obviously), but my obsession is paying off.  Every now and again, just when I get discouraged that all my effort is for naught, something happens to remind me that my children are learning.  This week, it was my daughter who showed me that she is making progress.  I bought her a wipe-off board to practice writing her numbers and letters (in English).  I just opened it and gave it to her, disappointed as I watched my art-obsessed, handwriting-avoiding daughter flip it over to the "plain" side.  Better luck next time, mom.

     Yet, when I looked again, it was a sight to make a Mandarin-obsessed mom proud.  She had used the "plain" side to practice her Chinese!

Working on her Chinese writing
As always,
Thanks for reading!
Teacher Tam
*I get 50% off classes at Language Stars for blogging.  But, all the opinions expressed are my own.  

Here's my latest product, on sale for 50% off for the next 3 days.  I made the princess set for my daughter.  While she can count in Chinese, she can't match the character to the quantity.  So . . . Check it out by clicking on the picture.

Pin It!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Great Fall and Halloween Projects Linky Party!!!


    This is my first time hosting a linky party!  Yea!  I hope all goes well and I can figure out how to do this.
     Here's my own idea . . .
     My class and I just made new fall scene glyphs to celebrate the first week of fall.  They turned out like this:

     My class really enjoyed making them.  When they were finished, the kids spent some time looking at each others', trying to figure out what choices their friends made, how old they were, etc.  We had a lot of fun with it!  The only thing I would change is that next year, I'm going to add some grass!  If you want the free pattern, click on the picture above or here.
     To join this linky party, grab the linky party picture at the top and add it to your post.  Blog about your project and add a link to my blog.  It can be anything fall- or Halloween-related.  It can be a free or priced product or just an idea.  It would be great if your product was on sale, too! Then, just add your link below!  If you don't have a blog, just add your link below and FB or tweet about the party!
     Ann Marie over at Innovative Connections is having a similar linky party.  You'll want to check out some of the links there, too!

Pin It!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Favorite Word Work Activity Linky Party!

     Over at "Rockin' Teacher Materials," Hilary is hosting a great linky party!!!!  I just had to join in!

     Here is my super simple, yet really effective favorite word work activity:  CVC word puzzles.

      Sorry, I don't have any pictures of my students using them, but you probably get the idea.  They help students who are just learning to merge the letter sounds to make 3-letter words.  Sometimes, I even cut the puzzles into 3 parts if the student is still struggling.  
      I use the puzzles during guided reading (and sometimes put them out as center work).  Once I have presented the word family, I have the student read all of the rimes (op, op, op, etc.) so he or she gets the idea that they are all the same.  Then, I  spread out the onset letters and let the student find the matches, merging the sounds to read each word.  When the student has completed all 5 puzzles, I have him/her read all 5 words again (to reinforce the pattern).  Then, I send the laminated set of puzzles home with the student as a homework activity.  

      A set of 6 word family puzzles is available in my TPT store for only $1.  Click on one of the sets of word family puzzles above or the link below to see the CVC word puzzles.  


Hope you are enjoying the weekend!
Teacher Tam
Pin It!