Kinderactive Notebooking!!!!!!!

Hey guys! I am sooooo happy right now typing up this post. I want to talk ALL about interactive notebooks and to let you in on a little secret. Within the next week, I'll be starting a series of post all about interactive notebooks!

If you don't want to miss ANY of these posts, look over to the right and put your name in the box right above FOLLOW BY EMAIL. You'll be emailed all of my tips, tricks, freebies, ideas and so much more! I am so excited to finish up those posts. Can you tell the excitement?!

To keep the excitement up, I want to tell you how I'll be teaching my letters this year. As most of you know I obsess over certain things.

The color PINK.

Word families.

Interactive notebooks... you get the picture. Well, let me give you a little back story on where this idea started. Last school year, I focused on math inbs and science/social science inbs. I loved doing both of them so much, but didn't have anything for my kids to use for literacy. So maybe around December, I started just making a few random things. I didn't save any of this to be used later (not a very smart idea). However, I figured out what type of things that I wanted to focus on when it came to reading. Our major focus at the beginning of kindergarten is obviously letters. I loved the ideas that were coming out, but I had so much going on during that time that I just quit.

Well, thankfully, I have some amazing friends that keep me on track. Since I finished my Learning my Letters bundle, I knew I needed some interactive notebook activities to go along with that. I got to work and this is what I decided on.

What kid doesn't love spinners? I bought some spinners to use in our centers this year, but these will be super easy to use. I'm thinking that I will add a piece of yarn and attach it to a paperclip. INSTANT spinner in a notebook.

This was one of our favorite sorts from one of our science interactive notebooks, so I used the same template to create a sort for letters and pictures. The great thing about interactive notebooks is that I can easily copy their pages on colored paper and save some time for coloring. However, if I need more time, I can copy on white and give them time to color in the pictures or letters. They place a letter either on top of the flap or under and the picture in the other place. They will be able to use this to refer back to again and again throughout the year.

*I have a lot of favorites* I love this one as well. The students sort pictures and figure out if it begins with that letter or not. Here's where your kids will LOVE this one... I teach my kiddos how to staple it on. We used this same template when sorting living vs. nonliving. When I told them I would teach them how staple, you would have thought I said we were all going to the candy store. They did an AMAZING job keeping their pieces in place while they stapled. A few of them were so good at it, that they were able to go back and help other friends.

Uhhh... memories. I sure am going to miss those babies and the thought of starting over is making me so sad.

Quick and easy rainbow writing to the rescue. I'm going to let them use the rest of the page to practice writing that letter. This is one of those that I will do at the beginning of the introduction of the letter. When introducing this, I'll probably do this in small group to make sure they are forming each of the letters the correct way.

Another favorite. I am MOST excited about this little baby. All my kids will do is cut out each of the words with its picture and stick inside the bucket. We will refer back to our Bucket of W words throughout the week and throughout the entire year. My kids will end up with over 100 words to use during their writing time in addition to the tons of other words that we have. LOVE... I'm so happy I added this one in. If you head back later within the week to check for my blog series on interactive notebooks, I've got a tip about how to keep those from falling out. It's a kid-tested tip as well.

Anyone love riddles? Each of the letters has a riddle. This is meant to be used during small group or whole group. I didn't write the riddles for my kids to read. However, if I end up with a brainiac this year...I may have a different opinion. After reading the riddle, I'm going to walk them through the alphabet and we decided if each of those letters fit the description. It will be so much easier after we've gone through a few letters. I'm also going to wait until I've introduced at least 5 or six letters before we use this one. It would be WAY too easy if they knew it was the letter we are learning.

This is a super quick and easy spot the correct letter. I'm going to keep this one fun by changing what they use to find each of the letters. We may use highlighters, crayons, markers, colored pencils, daubers or q-tip some paint on one day! Simple little activities such as this one will help them remember these letters. I'm all for trying things in different ways to help my kids learn.

Here's my tentative to-do list in regards to reading interactive notebooks.

I'm going to focus on making these throughout the year and I'm sure I won't get finished with that entire list, but at least I have a plan.

If you've read ALL the way down here... I chose the letter W for WEDDING. My sister is getting married this weekend. In celebration of all things happy, this interactive notebook will be greatly discounted until Sunday night. WHOO HOO! I'm hoping that her wedding is full of laughs, zero drama, and happy tears!!!

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Differentiating Interactive Notebooks in the Primary Grades

How to differentiate interactive notebooks

Let's discuss how to differentiate interactive notebooks. I know that interactive notebooks can be overwhelming, but once you've got it down what you want to do, how you're going to do it, and when, your next step is to make interactive notebooks work for all your learners.

Since I teach kindergarten, my experience is working with the younger kids. I've got a few tips on how to differentiate interactive notebooks in your classrooms!

Differentiate the tasks' outcome

There are so many ways to differentiate activities in your interactive notebooks. One way is to differentiate the task that you assign to each child. This is what I think is the easiest way to differentiate. Every student will have the same activity. As the teacher, you will change what each outcome will be.

This is one of the activities that I am able to easily differentiate for my students! This six flap can be used for a variety of lessons. This particular one is used during my living things unit. After we've discussed what a living thing is and how it survives, we need to think about how different types of animals survive. I have six animals listed. Some students can write what each animal needs to survive. If you have a student that has difficulty writing, allow that student to draw a picture. Some students love putting their thoughts into a sentence. Let those students write a sentence.

This kiddo was one of my ELL friends and I LOVE being able to differentiate for them. I always try to make learning fun and engaging, but on their level. We all have the same flap. He was able to write one word for each of the animals. He could write more, but in the time restriction that we were under, I was happy with one. I have two of my non-writers draw me a picture. They are still completing the task by thinking about what the animal needs to survive, but answering in a different form. My kids that were well into writing, wrote their answers in a sentence under each flap.

Do I check spelling? Definitely not. Do I correct their notebooks? I usually do not as long as things are glued in the correct place and it will be fine for them to refer back to later and have correct information. If you teach upper grades (or higher than kindergarten) and the focus is spelling, I would definitely correct their spelling. Their interactive notebook should essentially become their reference tool or 

With this 3 flap, I can allow students to paste a picture that I give them under each letter, draw their own picture causing them to think of a picture that begins with the letter, or write a word. There is 3 quick levels of the exact same flap that can be used. You can use this for ANY grade level. Students can even paste a picture that is given to them and write the word. It all depends on the ability level of your students. Extend their learning and push their thinking to the next level with so much ease.

Differentiating the task can range from how many addition problems to the way they answer or show their answers for those addition problems. It will help you to learn how to teach your kiddos better!

Differentiate activities through their interests

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be graced with one of the sweetest boys! I've had a lot of sweet boys, but this one had a few extra quirks about him that I just LOVED. He was in obsessed with DINOSAURS. He knew the names of every single kind. He pronounce them each perfectly. He could tell me ALL there was to know. Did I know anything about dinosaurs? Goodness NO!

I had the hardest time getting him to read that year. He seemed attentive. He was never talking when I was teaching. He played all of our math games. He sat quietly when I was reading, but he was missing something from me. I couldn't figure out why he wouldn't get excited about anything. Then, one day I pulled out a book about dinosaurs. He ASKED so many questions about that book that day. From that day on, I made sure that whatever his task was that the outcome would relate to dinosaurs in some way.

For example, when we were learning about subtraction, I made his story problems all about dinosaurs. He was more excited to write subtraction stories about 5 dinosaurs than he was about 2 puppy dogs. The entire class is working on the same skill. However, I've made his learning interest be reflected in his work. This didn't ALWAYS work in my favor, but when they thought was planted in my mind, it was always there as a go to option to make sure that he would be as engaged as possible.

This KWL chart is one way to engage students through their interests. As they're reading books of interests, allow them to use the same chart to show their pre-reading knowledge, questions that they have and to show what they've comprehended and learned. You may have 5 KWLs on frogs, 2 about unicorns, 6 on spider monkeys and one on dinosaurs. Is the task complete? Yes. Did everyone do the same type of thinking? Yes. If the outcome different? Yes and that's okay. This wouldn't work in instances where you want the students to learn a particular topic.

Differentiate the pace of instruction and assessment

The pace is also easily differentiated. I can easily change how quickly I need to assess a student. If I know that 1/4 of my students have learning something new, I can informally assess them through their interactive notebooks. When I want to assess a very small group of my students even though we will all be using the same activity, I place them around the room so that they are essentially working alone. I can easily tell if they are applying their new information by what is in their interactive notebooks.

This type of differentiation also drives my instruction and guides the pacing of my lesson plans. I can quickly flip through each of my student's notebooks at the end of the day or when they finish. At an eye's glance, I can tell whether I need to reteach or move on to the next topic. If my kids are confused and not getting the content, I can slow down my instructions. Sometimes differentiating has nothing to do with the students and has a lot to do with my teaching. As teachers, we can also change our instruction to meet the needs of our students. At the end of the day, it's so much easier to cater to each child instead of reteaching over and over again.

How to keep interactive notebooks manageable when differentiating...

The biggest problem that I have in the life of teaching is that paper problem. You know the one.

When you have piles.

Upon piles. Upon piles.

Yeah, that problem. Well, when I'm ready to differentiate my interactive notebooks, I like to test them out. One of my most valuable and well thought out systems that I use with interactive notebooks is my preview/plan book. This is not my lesson planning notebook or anything like that. I have a composition notebook that is strictly for notetaking and INB making. If we're working on number sense and I have some inbs for that, I would print off two or three of that one part (just for me) and find ways to differentiate them. When I'm working with a small group and they're adding things to their notebooks, I'll already have my notebook made and know exactly what I want each group of students' outcome to be.

I have three of these. I am so random that sometimes I forget to bring it back to school or take it home which has caused me to have three. One is pretty full. This is the EASIEST way to manage what you already have available. Even though you can look through your digital files and "see" the flaps and the folds, you see it in an entirely different way when it's glued in a notebook or when you can feel the fold in your hand. I suggest that every teacher that uses interactive notebooks in their classroom, start a "preview" notebook.

This is one of the pages from my notebook. I make sure that when I print something off it:
- fits in the notebook
- is large enough for my kinders to manipulate
- is easy enough for my kinders to cut (I like large cuts that have corners.)
- is meaningful and worth their time
- can be referred back to

If I am okay with the activity for all of the above reasons, I use it with my kids. When I make it first, I figure out how they should hold it when gluing in, which piece they should glue, and many other things. It helps me when I introduce a new flap or a new way to write out our learning. Next year when I get ready to teach living things or five senses, I can open up my notebook and use the one that I've already made to show my kids. This will also help in my planning. I can look back at what I did in years' past and either use it again or try to improve an activity. I also write on the back of each activity if something did or didn't work. I like to write how my kids' responded in some of their notebooks as well. For instance, if we're working on sorting objects by the number and my students mix all of their sixes for nines, I will write that down to go over reversals more the next year.

The preview book is essentially my Bible for interactive notebooks. My kids make their own throughout the year to refer back to and I make mine to refer back to every year.

Those are my THREE really simple and easy tips for differentiating instruction, plus a HUGE managing tip for you to keep it easy. If you have some ways that you LOVE using with interactive notebooks, let me know! I'm always looking for more ways to help my students through interactive notebooks. Thanks so much for checking out this post! Here's a freebie to get you started with some editable science notebook covers.


Learn Like a Pirate: 21st Century Skills

First, I'm so sad I missed last week. I have to go back and read that chapter. Vegas had a hold on my life and I didn't get ANYTHING done last week. However, I'm back for chapter 7. This chapter, was VERY eye opening for me. I love the fact that I had to realize that twenty-first century skills are actually related to technology for the most part. Did anyone else come to this realization?

I love the fact that Paul speaks about thinking his job meant he was supposed to just teach content standards. Our jobs are so much more than that! For me, as a kindergarten teacher, I have to teach many of the skills to help get them through the day without being dependent upon me. Paul discusses the four C's from an organization called Partnership for 21st Century Learning. This organization focuses on creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication, and collaboration. Are those things that I could easily incorporate in my day to day? Of course.

Paul also includes some key points from Habits of Mind. He came up with 24 skills in eleven categories. For five and six year olds, I think the most important skill may be communication and collaboration. This is the time in their life where they learn how to speak to each other, learn how to apologize, learn to share, learn to get their thoughts out in a clean fashion, and learn to work together. As I read this chapter, I realized that I should focus on collaboration. The years when I've worked really hard to get them to work together have been the easiest years for me. When my students are successful as friends and collaborators, it makes my life easy because I'll be able to know that a group can work without distractions.

The other skills that Paul discusses is:
Creativity and Innovation
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Reflection and Awareness
Flexibility and Adaptability
Initiative and Self-Direction
Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
Productivity and Accountability
Leadership and Responsibility
Information Literacy
Media Literacy

For myself, I really like the idea of focusing on just a few of these a year. As an educator, I am always reflecting on what works and what doesn't work or how I can make something better. After the year begins, I really want to focus on creativity as well. In the past few year, my incoming kiddos have had the HARDEST time with their imagination. Why is it so hard for kids to pretend or see images in their heads? Does anyone else think it gets tougher every year in this area?

Chapter 7 has added a good little list to my routines/schedule to try to incorporate without it really being a "thing" to add in.


Oh Snap! It's Almost August!

Hey friends!

I'm super excited to be joining up with my friends over at Teacher Deals and Dollar Steals. If you haven't heard of TDDS, we bring you daily dollar deals. However, starting this month, we'll be bringing you a monthly linky to get you ready for the NEXT month. Luckily, we're linking up with tons of August resources and hopefully, some BTS ideas/things for you.

I've got a TON for you all! Everything that I've got in this post will be 15% off for the next three days. 

First of all, I absolutely LOVE decorating my classroom. Here's a few of my decor sets that you can pick up. I've got Ocean, Chevron & Birds, B/W Polka Dots, and more. I've going with the Chevron & Kids like I had last year. I. LOVED. IT!

If you're in need of some super easy printables to spice up your room, I've got writing process, alphabet lines, colors, and shape posters as well.

My absolute favorite beginning of the year resources happen to be my Make Way for Kindergarten centers AND the Learning My Letters Bundle.

I cannot wait to laminate all of these goodies for the beginning of the year! I am so excited to have something that can be out all year long or that I can pull for small group. This entire set focuses strictly on letters. There is zero emphasis on sounds. I always have kids that just need practice with the letter name, formation, and identifying uppercase from lowercase. This pack covers it ALL. I just uploaded it as a bundle and each one separately. Here's what's included:

This resource includes three sets of cards. The kids will either match uppercase to uppercase, lowercase to lowercase, or uppercase to lowercase. They can use a dry erase marker to practice writing the letter on the card and use a clip, counter or some type of manipulative to show their chosen answer.

There is an optional recording sheet for each set of cards. Students will write the letter that they are working on. After they finish, you also have an optional QR code to check answers. Super easy! The kids will be engaged will you are working with your small groups.

Alpha Finders includes 52 letter mats. 26 are with the same letters (upper and lowercase). The other 26 has more than just the letter that they are looking for. This will help to differentiate for your students.  Allow them to either use counters or a dry erase marker to circle the letter that they are searching for. You can switch it up and tell them which letter to look for on the mats that have the same letters in each star. This is going to be one of my really quick getting started activities during guided reading. After they get the hang of it, I know they'll be able to quickly search for letters if given just one mat.

If you place this in a center, you can place more than one mat.

Kiddie ABC's involves matching lowercase letters to the uppercase letter. Students will match the boy to the girl. After matching all cards, there is an optional recording sheet. They will write the missing letter which can be either an uppercase or lowercase letter.

The optional QR code will take students to the answer key to check their work.

Puzzled Alphas is just that! PUZZLED. This game should be reproduced on colored paper or card stock and laminated. After you cut the puzzle apart, it will be a game that can be used OVER and over again.

Case of the Alphabets is a letter sorting game. You can place the uppercase and lowercase signs on a bucket or students can sort on the floor. They will sort the uppercase letters to the uppercase bucket and do the same for lowercase letters.

Match it uses the same cards from Case of the Alphabets. Students have a mat to sort their cards on. The recording sheets allows students to cut and glue letters into the correct column. The recording sheet has an option QR code to scan to check for correct answers.

Alpha-bear-tize has two sets of cards that are both available in b/w or in color. The two sets includes a missing letter before and the other set works on missing letters after. There are two recording sheets to match each set of cards. The student can use a dry erase marker to write in the missing letters. The recording sheet can be used to write either the uppercase, lowercase or both letters in the blank. There is an optional QR code to check answers.

Sticks and Curves is a game that I think is always so important at the beginning of the year. Students have a hard time realizing that everything isn't a curve. This game allows students to sort letter based upon their formation. There are three mats included: straight lines, curves, and straight lines & curves. You can print the letter cards on white or colored paper to fancy it up.

This is something that I will use during small groups at the beginning of the year.

Choose Me is the last of the bundle. It may be my favorite! This game includes 52 mats for identifying lowercase and uppercase letters. A dry erase marker can be used to circle the correct answers. You could also use counters to cover up the correct letters.

Two optional recording sheets are included. Uppercase letters can be colored, circled or daubed blue. All lowercase letters should be marked with red. An option QR code is included for students to check their answers.

My back to school resource. It had a beginning of school hat, necklace, first day of school sheets and a few math and literacy centers to get the year started. NOW?! OH. MY! I CANNOT WAIT TO PRESS PRINT when I get to school. It went from 96 pages to 170 pages. Can you tell I got VERY excited while creating?

I totally redid my sounds centers! I changed it to Sound Smash. I cannot wait to play this game. Every letter has a card, but the teacher only chooses a few. Let's say 4 letters to play. The teacher also pulls out the corresponding pictures for those 4 letters. The kiddos make 4 playdoh balls to go under each letter and then pull from the stack of picture cards. They have to figure out which letter makes the sound on the picture. When they find it, smash down a ball.
I have a game included where you need letter cards or a mat to sort pictures to. LOVE the newer version. I am going to cut the letters apart and have the kids to sort under the picture. That wash tape has my heart!
My directions page is even PRETTIER! The others were pretty bad!

There is a chalkboard and white version of alphabet and number playdoh mats for the beginning of the year or these could be used anytime during the year.

This is SOME of what is included! I am super stoked about this.


Viva Las Vegas!

Vegas! If you follow me on instagram or over on my Facebook page, you would know that I was in Vegas for an ENTIRE week! Well, I'm teaming up with my blogging besties at our collab blog, The Elementary Entourage for a HUGE Vegas linky!

My recap is going to be a tad extended simply because I was in Vegas for the I Teach K as well. This is going to be mostly a photo overload. I won't be sharing anything that I learned because I don't think it's fair to the presenters to share their info or to the people that paid to go. :-) Here's how my week started...

On the 4th of July, my sister and I got in the car and headed to the Atlanta Airport. The fun was just a plane ride away!

We enjoyed the strip Sunday and Monday night. We even went ZOOMLINING! It was so worth the wait.

She left Tuesday night. :-( BUT I knew I had tons of excitement coming my way on Wednesday.

Monday rolled around and I enjoyed my first day of sessions and the Educents Meet Up!

Um, how crazy is this crowd trying to get t-shirts?

I saw some friends in the Exhibition Hall! Chad, Chris, Stacy and Elizabeth.

More exhibition hall fun! Vera, The Guys of Primary, and chatted it up with my friends from Creative Teaching Press.

Tuesday night I had dinner with the AMAZING people from Educents. I absolutely love how down to earth they are and can't wait to chat it up again with them next year. I got to sit with these lovelies at the dinner. It was an entire room full of amazingly talented people.

On Wednesday, my babe Melissa, Mrs. Dailey's Classroom,  FINALLY got to Vegas! This was our 'We're in VEGAS' shot! I had to get some action from Chris as well. He is SERIOUSLY so funny. Love him.

The Teacher-Blogger Meet Up was more insane than ever this year! Like seriously. Something funny is that in almost every session, meet up or whatever, we ended up smack dab in the FRONT! Love my EE pack. During the meet up, I met ALL these wonderful ladies. Oh and Dianna, my roomie, and I at the Elementary Entourage lunch.

AND I MET TARA WEST!!!!!!!! We were so golden I had to made it B/W! BOO! This may have been one of my happiest moments. It's so weird to meet someone that you use and LOVE so much of their creations. She has the most simple, yet useful and engaging resources. It's always like, really? Why didn't I think of that. She's super sweet and I'm so happy she came!

I worked the GoNoodle booth on Tuesday. All these teachers hung out to do Yoga! So much fun!

I saw Freckles Sinclair later that day and was representing with my new SWAG!
I met Melissa who I'm in a FB group with in one of my first sessions. How cool is it to meet people you're in groups with?

Photo cred for these pics belongs to the wonderful Melissa! Thanks girl!

A few of the EE kindergarten crew.

Me, Alex, and Chris

Dianna, Brittany, Laura, Jessica, Alex, Melissa, Me

I was so excited when I saw Peggy (Primary Flourish) the day before. I think some tears formed, but I couldn't cry! I talked about (ahem) someone else crying the day before. This is seriously one of the SWEETEST bloggers that I know. LOVE THIS WOMAN!

Alexis (Laugh Eat Learn) found me buying some yogurt the day before and this was literally my face when I first saw her. She's my blog designer and she's AMAZING if you can't tell! LOVE HER!

It's ALWAYS such a great time to see and talk to Jennifer from First Grade Blue Skies.

So this happened! I made the Happy Hour slideshow!

Dinner with some wonderful ladies!

At the Primary Pack Meet Up

I also met this super cute chic Bridget from Hardcore Teacher Resources.

I seriously have a TON more pics, but I'll save those for another time! I had SOOOOOO much fun meeting so many people. I'll leave you with this one!

If you were in Vegas for the TPT conference, feel free to link up with us!

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