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Monday, March 26, 2012

Kindergarten Common Core Based Summer Skills Review Packet

     I am just soooo excited about my latest product that I have to share it with a few of you!  I finished it today and I can't wait to send it home with my kinders over the summer!  It includes 10 weeks worth of Common Core based math or literacy activities, as well as a game board with 5 different sets of cards (addition, subtraction, CVC words, sight words, & sight word sentences)!!!  Everything can be copied front to back except the game and cards.  Click on the caption below the picture of the title page to check it out!  SCROLL DOWN TO SEE HOW YOU CAN GET IT FOR FREE!!! (It's a $6 value.)
Sorry but the "contest" is closed!  Thanks to those of you who blogged about my new packet!  If you missed it, be sure to watch for more of these in the future!  


The pack includes addition and sight word practice.

Addition and CVC words

It has a cute cover page.  Family instructions go on the back.

Page 2 of the gameboard (It comes with 5 sets of cards!)
The first 5 people to share about this packet on their blog will get it for FREE!  All you have to do is include one or more pics of the packet from my post here, make sure there's a clickable link to my store, and leave the link to your blog post as well as your email address in the comment section below.   Sorry, but the contest is closed.

Thanks for reading!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mom Makes Progress, Too! (And a New Freebie in Mandarin)

I'm feeling pretty good about my Chinese these days.  Well, better anyway. While I am still in the infant/toddler (Parents and Tots) class at Language Stars*, I feel that things are progressing well not only for my children, but also for me.  I guess I was so busy feeling guilty about not having a lot of time to work on the language at an "adult" level that I forgot that everybody begins a new language the same way:  at the level of an infant.  

At first, I didn't understand anything at all.  I was completely lost.  It's not a good feeling, sitting in an infant/toddler class and still not understanding anything, let me tell you!  Then, my son and I learned a few words and two-word phrases.  We were rewarded for learning them by praise from the teacher and other parents (yes, even the parents are encouraged in the class!).  And, as in anything, you have to begin to understand a little about what you are doing before you can actually DO it.  So, for the most part, we were both listening a lot more than speaking the first few months.  

But every day I realize that we are making progress.  We both now seem to be speaking maybe 20% of the time.  I think we both understand probably more than 90% of what is said in class.  Most of the time, I even understand the little phrases the teacher will say to herself as she looks for something or prepares the next activity.  I think that's a really good sign.  

AND . . . we continue to work at home.  We read some books with CDs that we've purchased (see the Mandarin links page on the right).  We work on the coloring and writing pages from Language Stars.  And, most importantly, we try to speak Mandarin as much as possible.  I ask them questions in Mandarin.  I say even parts of sentences--whatever I know.  We work on the "extension" activities from class, like the finger plays. (Those are a GREAT way to learn the language, BTW.)  I also make some of my own materials.  Here's the latest FREE one I made.  If you're working on Mandarin at home or in your classroom, I hope you can use it!   You can play it several ways.  It comes with fruit picture cards and character/pinyin/English cards to match.  
Thanks for reading!  

*We get 50% off our tuition for blogging about our Language Stars experience.  But, opinions expressed here are still my own.  

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Check Out These Great Spring Resources!

       I am just sooooo excited about spring!  I just had to do something to celebrate, so I wanted to start a cool collection of products (both free and for sale) to celebrate!  I have seen some great stuff on TPT lately.   If you are a seller, feel free to add links for up to 3 of  your products.  All I ask is that free products have the word "FREE" in the title.  ALSO:  Make sure your links go to either:   1) a specific product on TPT (as opposed to your store) or 2) the page on your blog where a freebie is available.  
     Happy spring!!!

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Teachers Need to Imagine the Possibilities . . .

       As an early childhood educator, I realize that teaching little ones involves a lot of preparation.  Maria Montessori referred to it as "the prepared environment."  Many hours are spent before the child even enters the classroom, not only deciding which lessons will be taught and how, but every detail of the classroom.  Thought goes into which materials are placed on the shelf, their most advantageous placement, and how they might be used (the intended uses as well as the not-so-intended) by the children.  (It's this same "teacher think" that makes me cringe when others buy my children any sort of stick-like toy.  I can just imagine the possibilities . . .)
       This week, my "teacher think" allowed me to appreciate the preparation that went into the lesson in our Mandarin Parents & Tots class at Language Stars*.   Time spent watching another teacher is always enlightening.  I enjoy reflecting on how she/he teaches, on what I can take from the lesson, and on how I might use his/her strategies as a jumping off point to improve my own teaching.  It's kind of neat to be on the "let's-just-sit-and-watch-the-lesson" side of things for a change, taking a "breather" so to speak, using the time to mentally improve my own teaching (and my Mandarin, too, hopefully!).  So, when the teacher pulled out the play fruit and a cash register that had buttons to push AND made noise, I saw my son's face and knew it was going to be a good lesson!

      When I heard the cash register ding and saw every little face light up, hoping for a turn (in exchange for speaking--or attempting to speak--Mandarin, of course), I knew right then and there that this teacher was prepared!  Now, was it a complicated lesson?  No.  The little ones were just taking turns picking out a favorite fruit to buy at the "store," pushing the cash register button, and removing money as their change for buying something.  (Although, they didn't pay any money in the first place.  Now wouldn't THAT be nice?!)  Did it involve a lot of fancy props?  Not really.  The fruit was from different, mismatched sets.  The cash register was one I have seen many times before.  But the teacher KNEW that it wouldn't take much.  Squishy, fuzzy bananas, enthusiasm, & a cash register that made noise?  Now that was a winning combination!  Every child was completely engaged for the entire grocery store experience.

Pretending to buy fruit and veggies
Taking turns asking for their favorite foods 

     So, if I had to name the things I like most about Language Stars, I think teacher preparation would definitely be in the top 3.  To illustrate this, I wish I had taken a picture of the classroom (not closet, CLASSROOM) that they use to store all of their materials.  Never have I seen such a stash of the latest in junky toys (which children LOVE and moms HATE--think things with a lot of pieces or, for example, these little squeegies that blow air and shoot foam projectiles), props, and topic-relevant board games.  But, even as I look at that huge room full of toys that my son would love nothing more than to dig though, I know the preparation that goes into picking props to use and using them effectively.  I realize that the Language Stars teachers are using their own "teacher think" to imagine the possibilities . . .

Thanks for reading my blog!

P. S.  Watch for me to post some new Chinese stuff on Teachers Pay Teachers in the next couple of weeks!  

*We get 50% off of our tuition for blogging about our Language Stars experience.  

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