Bustin' Out Letter Monster

I am probably a *little* too excited about this, but I can't help it.  My heart is deeply devoted to early childhood education.  When I see a group of kiddos highly engaged while learning...and BEGGING to learn more, I love it!  Letter Monster is one of those things.  I am telling you, Letter Monster is such a hit with pre-k and kindergarten friends, I can hardly wait until I introduce him to my kindergarten friends Thursday!

I found the idea of Letter Monster on Pinterest several years ago.  It was a very simple printable that happened to be free.  I printed him on Astrobright paper, laminated him down to an old hot chocolate container with clear Contact paper, and used en X-acto knife to trim out the mouth.  Clearly, Letter Monster is nothing fancy, but my students adore this activity.  Here's how it works.  We all say the chant together, and it goes like this:

Letter Monster, Letter Monster
Munch, munch, munch
What letter will you eat for lunch?

Then, one of my kindergarten friends must choose a letter.  They find both the upper and lower case version of the letter.  (They are spread out on the table or floor in front of the group.)  From there, that friend holds up both magnetic letters, says the name of the letter AND the sound it makes, the group repeats the name and letter sound, and the friend holding the magnetic letters FEEDS THEM to Letter Monster!  After that, we all write the upper and lower case version of that letter on an individual white board.  I am able to differentiate the level of difficulty for each group of kiddos I am working with at the time.  For instance, I used Letter Monster with a very young 3 year old preschool class, and I had children simple name the letter.  When they popped their letter in Letter Monster's mouth, he let out a big, "Yum, yum, yum yum yum!"  Of course, that sent my group of 3 year olds into a fit of laughter each and every time.  I love that this is a group effort activity.  It is a great way to build community and learn letter names and sounds.  If any child ever needs assistance, they can either ask a friend or me.  Sometimes they even ask Letter Monster.  Go figure!

My sweet husband cut my whiteboards for me.  He rounded each corner so my little friends would not get maimed in the process of learning to write.  He also drilled holes in the corner of each board so I could use a book ring to attach a BLACK men's tube sock, which we use as both an eraser and a house for a dry erase marker.

Notice I said black tube socks?  Yep, that is because white socks, or pretty much any color other than black, look TERRIBLE by the end of the school year.  I have used the same black socks for several years, and I have not had to replace a single one.  I do make a point to wash them at the end of the year...just because.  I mentioned above that one marker lives inside each sock.  This makes it super easy for my friends to simply grab a board out of the basket I use for storage, move quickly to their spot on the carpet or at the table, and get to work.  We are not messing around with crinkly gallon Ziploc bags or felt scrap erasers.  Of course, I teach and re-teach the marker saying DAILY so my markers last much longer than they once did.  "Give the cap a clip or the marker will get sick."  We do not want our markers to dry out because we loooooove using the white boards, so they are very well cared for by most of my kiddos.  Notice I said most and not all.  ;)

Do you have a favorite activity to do with your class?  One you just love bustin' out year after year because it is such a hit with students?  

QR Code Listen to Reading Book Rings {FREE}

I must brag about a free printable I found on Teachers Pay Teachers because it is PERFECT for those of us who are not as iPad savvy and techie as some teachers.  Meghan, from Meghan's Pad, posted a FREE printable to help the not-so-techie teachers of the world {ME!}.  I downloaded the freebie, downloaded a free QR code reader, tried out a few of my favorite books by scanning codes directly from the PDF on my computer screen, and promptly began the printing and lamination process.  No kidding. These are totally worth printer toner and laminating pouches!

Printed, laminated, cut, and ready for the hole punch!

I sorted the cards by category and added them to book rings.  I am considering making a cover page featuring a simple graphic/icon representing each set so my pre-readers can easily recognize the category.

So far, I have not found a code that does not link me to the featured picture book.  Meghan does warn us that some of the videos have been removed from youtube and/or may no longer work.  In my opinion, that is pretty much nature of the beast when it comes to anything online.

The videos open up in safeshare.tv, which eliminates ads and the ability to hunt for more videos.  (Yes, many kindergarten children know how to search for videos on youtube!  I certainly do not want this happening in the classroom.) Anyway, the QR codes are a brilliant way to have children independently access a "listen to reading" activity.  I placed mine on a binder ring and will add them to my listen to reading center once I finally get my own classroom again.  (Grad school is really bustin' my teacher groove right now.)

Here's to Meghan!  I do not know her, but she has a special place in my teacher-heart right now.  She has inspired me to add to this already amazing collection by making a few cards of my own!  :)

Here is a link to Meghan's Pad blog post:

Here is a link to Meghan's Pad QR code printable on TPT:

Teacher Home Office ORGANIZING Day

I wish I could get paid to organize my home office.  As often as I go through these motions, I would be a bazillionaire by now.  Instead, I keep buying more and more and more and MORE stuff for my classroom.  I do not have a classroom right now due to being in a full time graduate program. With that being said, my little office is bursting at the seams!  I literally have an entire classroom worth of goodies in my office.  (Note the Rubbermaid totes under my work space, and that is only the TIP of the iceberg.  Not optimal!)

My most recent solution was to buy a couple of large file cabinets, as well as an office grade metal bookshelf.  It really did help me get organized and sort through what I have, as well as create a wishlist of what I need.  {That's right, more shopping and creating is in store for me!}

Ahhhhhhh!  I love organizing.  I wish I would have snapped a "before" picture.  This space has been totally transformed by adding the two file cabinets and black bookshelf behind my comfy chair.  :)

I finally have a place for my Guided Reader units and Guided Reading leveled readers (by Deanna Jump and Deedee Wills)!  Those binders are so huge, but they are SO WORTH IT!  Organize them JUST like Deanna says to.  Trust me.  It works.  (Get the binders at Goodwill if possible.)

Tah-dah!  A million file folder games, alphabet match ups, super-fun math stuff, and a so much more resides inside of those 8 drawers!  *TEACHER BLISS*
I am not quite done yet.  I am finalizing permanent homes for each of my files, but there are really only so many places I can shove things.  With that being said, I placed sticky notes on the drawer fronts so I could move and re-organize as I loaded and sorted.  I want to leave them there a few more days before making my final labeling decision.  I know, super classy, right???  They will most likely fall off between now and the time I actually get around to making real labels, and then I will have to start all over again.  I often feel as though my entire world revolves around fallen stickies.  :) 

Enough feeling sorry for myself.  The BEST part of this office re-do is...it cost me $50.  I bought the file cabinets on Craigslist from a dear, sweet elderly man who was shutting down his business after 40+ years!  He kept telling us how the cabinets are HON brand, which are "the very best money can buy".  I believe it!  They are HEAVY DUTY file cabinets.  Moving them upstairs was a cross-fit session, for sure.  And the metal shelf, which weighs about as much as one of the file cabinets, came from the Goodwill Outlet for $10.  If you are not familiar with the outlet, otherwise known as "the bins", you must watch the Thrift Store video from Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.  You will pretty much find anything and everything at the bins, and you will be sure to take someone's grandpa's style while looking for a "come up".

Back to laminating I go, friends.  I will write more about HOW I chose to organize all of my stuff once I finalize my thoughts on the matter.  Thanks for reading about my exciting holiday weekend.  School starts Wednesday morning.  Wish me (and all 24 of my kindergarten friends) luck!