Thursday, July 5, 2012

Guest blogger ~ Jennifer

  Happy 1st Birthday Castles and Crayons!
Hello! I'm Jennifer from Herding Kats In Kindergarten. I'm thrilled to be guest blogging for Kelli today!

One of the things that I think is really important in kindergarten, is setting my kiddos up to see themselves as readers. Most of my students don't attend pre-k, so getting them to be readers is a long road! Of course we want to motivate them and give them small successes right from the start, so I've come up with a fun little book of Environmental Print. All of the images are common places or things that the children recognize, so they can "read" it right away! Once they begin to make that connection between print and speech, we start talking about how we represent different speech sounds with letters.

I plan to print and bind this as a book for our reading center, but I'm also going to cut up a copy and make an Environmental Print word wall that can be on display in the first few weeks of school - so I get two uses out of one file! Just click on the picture to download it for free!

Since I just finished a year teaching first grade, I'm kind of anxious about going back to kindergarten this year, even though it's my comfort zone. I keep imagining the first few weeks, thinking of routines that need to be explained, curriculum that needs to be taught, but most importantly, how am I going to make this a fun year? I think kindergarten is a vital year - if a child isn't engaged and doesn't come to see himself as a learner/reader/explorer then it will have a long lasting negative impact. So while I have to make sure I get that curriculum taught, I am determined to teach it in the most engaging way possible!

Thus, at a recent marriage retreat when my husband and I were told to write things that were important to us on river rocks with paint markers, my brain started going crazy! Forget marriage, let's talk kindergarten! We can write letters, numbers, cvc words and sight words! I immediately jotted "rocks and paint markers" on my perpetual Hobby Lobby list. The paint markers are so much fun to work with - I only used silver and gold this time, but I already have more colors on my horizon!  Here's a picture of some of my rocks:

 How fun would it be to practice word families with these rocks? I love that I had two colors so that I could differentiate between vowels and consonants!

 Here are the markers I used, as well as some sight word rocks. I imagine any brand of paint marker would do though.

Can you see the possibilities? I'm thinking these would be great for a Pirate theme - put them in a little wooden treasure chest and it'd be like pirate's gold! Alternatively, give each student a pretty drawstring bag and let them "keep" the letters/words that they know. Who wouldn't want a bag full of rocks to play with?!

I hope you enjoyed this little post from me, and I want to give a big thanks to Kelli for letting me come over today! I'd love it if you all stopped by my blog to say hi!

SO cute! I love the enviromental print book, Jennifer! Would be great for the beginning of first grade too! :) Be sure to check out Jennifer's blog!


Mrs. Cupcake said...

I love the river rocks idea!! Very cute!
A Cupcake for the Teacher

mcoop1125 said...

Thanks for the environmental print book! These pictures are nicely done and clear. I've used environmental print pictures taped (with wide book tape) to index cards and put on a ring. These Reading Rings go into our class library. Students may choose these for their Book Boxes for Read-to-Self time. Thanks for the new graphics!

Kelly said...

The kids will love those rocks! Great idea!

Kelly @ I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

Tori said...

I love the stone idea! So cute!!
Join my super fun linky!

Lisa R. said...

I love the cute ideas that you shared with the rocks!! There are so many things that you can do with those!! :)
Learning Is Something to Treasure

Busy Bees said...

Love those rocks. I have the rocks and the pens, now you have given me the motivation to get busy!!

AmberO said...

I love that even at a marriage seminar your mind was in the classroom:) Woman after my own heart...the rocks are SUPER!

It's a Jungle Out There! said...

I just awarded you two awards. Come by and claim them at :)

carriebeez said...

LOVE the environmental print book...I'm totally printing these out & adding them to my word wall for the beginning of the year. Thanks!

The First Grade Derby

Linda Nelson said...

I love using river rocks, Jennifer! I think I liked handling their cool smoothness when I was making them almost as much as the kids enjoyed using them. :) I've used letters and numbers on them, but not sight words - good idea!

Primary Inspiration

Anonymous said...

Can you please send me your monthly behavior chart? My email is

Anonymous said...

I Love what you have done thus far, i was wondering if i could modify this to help my dislexic husband learn to read, or if you had any other reading tricks and tips you have found that work with your class room that i might try with my husband

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