Sunday, June 30, 2013

No-measure, no sew stool cushions and Currently

Wow, I cannot believe it's July already! In less than a month, I'll be 30!

Also, because it's the first of the month, I've decided to hop on the "Currently" bandwagon and share what's been going on in this super random mind of mine. Make sure to check out some other Currently's from some of your other favorite bloggers!

At this moment, we're sitting in a hotel room in Las Vegas about half way through our vacation. And what am I doing? Blogging of course!! I couldn't go without sharing a bit about our vacation so far! We just spent the last week in Colorado riding horses, riding to the top of the mountains, and playing in the snow (in June!!). Having lived in AZ for the last 6 years, it was the first time our 3-year old got to see snow up close and actually play in it. Not so sure she liked it though :)

The downside of lots of traveling? Lots of things going through my mind that I have to get to when we get home. *sigh* Thankfully we still have a full week of break left when I get home!

Now, being a Monday, I'm also linking up again to do a Make-it Monday project.

This project is one that I am super proud of. There was no measuring and no sewing involved at all (my favorite kind of project!) So, as usual, this project came as a solution to a problem I had... my OCD brain wanted my classroom to be super cute. As we all know, when you're classroom is super cute, the rest of the year will fly by drama-free ;) Anyway, I have a rainbow shaped table in my classroom that had mismatched chairs around it that were hand-me-downs from other teachers last year. I wanted to do something like the adorable little padded crate seats but opted for something a little different. Hence...

...Ikea! Eight, cute, sturdy little white stools later and a little experimentation with some fleece and I had a cozy, kind of padded little seat for my kiddos. I had one done and decided they were so easy, I would share how I made them so others could enjoy!

First of all, put your stool upside-down on some paper and trace around the outside. It doesn't have to be perfect. Then, because I have 4 legs on my stools, I marked where those legs were for cutting purposes later.

Place your circle on top of 2 layers of fabric. I chose fleece because it's soft, it doesn't ravel when you cut it and it can be pretty cheap if you watch for it in the remnant bin of the craft store. Make sure you have at least 4 inches of space on each side of the circle. However much space you have is how long your ties are going to be. It's much easier to tie long ties and trim later than to cut them short and have to wrestle with short ties.

Once the circle is centered on the fabric cut from each of the four edges towards the marks you made on your circle stopping at the edge of your circle resulting in 4 equal sections.

 Cut each of the 4 sections down the center from the corner towards the circle essentially splitting your fabric into 8 sections instead of 4.

Cut each of the 8 sections in half again making 16 sections.

Then cut each of the 16 sections in half giving you 32 total.

Your fabric should look like this (and your hands may be a little sore... sorry).

Next, take the 4 longest sections and gather them in the center so they don't get tied by accident.

Choose one of the 4 remaining areas to start tying. I usually just double knot them and I have had no issues with them coming untied. When you have that one section done, it should look like the picture above.

Choose two more sections to tie off and then you can trim all three sections to whatever length you want. I like to leave mine a couple inches long so it has that ragged look.

Next comes the stuffing. I chose to use 3 thin layers of quilt batting so it doesn't get bunched up inside. You could also use stuffing or even fabric scraps. If you're using quilt batting, use your circle as a guide to cut but make sure your batting is a bit small than your circle so it will fit into your cushion properly.

Flip the top layer of ties onto the top of your circle so they are easier to manage. Obviously your batting is not going to slide right in. You should be able to take the side of the batting that is going to be on the far side in and push it all the way in. Then you can just straighten the rest out. If using stuffing, this is obviously the party where you add that.

An inside picture once the batting is in (please excuse my manly hands ;)

Once the batting/stuffing is in you can tie up that last section (except for the 4 long ties) and trim it up.

Now that the rest of the cushion is trimmed, you can tie those 4 long sections and those will be what hold your cushion to your stool.

Simply put your stool upside-down on the cushion...

...tie one set of ties...

...then the opposite side...

... then the last two sides.


...and flip. Done!

Because I had 8 stools and my classroom is rainbow themed this upcoming year, I chose to do 2 blue, 2 red, 2 yellow, and 2 brown. Please excuse the mess. I still have 3 1/2 weeks until my kiddos come in for open house ;)

Hope this was helpful!
Katie Poyzer

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Small group time in Pre-K

Linking up for week 4 of Applicious Teacher's summer linky series: Small Group Instruction.

Our small group time is pretty simple in Pre-K. We typically have 4 centers (5 kiddos per group) that rotate. Yep, even my little ones are able to rotate (with quite a bit of practice of course). I have these wonderful signs I got from the Colorful Classroom set at The Hands-On Teacher. Not only are there enough for each group but they're also rainbow themed so they match my classroom!

All I have to do is switch the circles as a cue for the kiddos to clean up and then I ring my teacher bell so they know when to switch.
A lot of my centers are either games, papers in sheet protectors, or ready-made tools. Because I teach little ones, we play a lot of games like Memory and Go Fish with cards that correspond to what where working on ("Do you have the base ten blocks for 17?" "Go Fish!"). If there's a paper they're working on, I will put it in a sheet protector and give them wipe-off markers. This way, I only need to make 5 copies and they can be reused for each group. As for ready-made tools, I have sight word games and letter tiles among many other things that I use. I actually made a word building book that has beginning, middle, and ending sounds on the cards so children can flip the cards to build words. You can read more about it here or find the cover for FREE by clicking the picture below:
I hope that helps! What do you do during your small group time?
Katie Poyzer

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Today's the Day!

Remember that AMAZING giveaway over at The School Supply Addict that I told you about the other day? Well, today is the day that you can find one of my creations being given away. Two of them actually! Make sure you head over to their blog to check out all the goodies for today!

Good luck!!
Katie Poyzer

Monday, June 24, 2013

Yay! A giveaway!!

I'm so excited about the giveaway going on over at The School Supply Addict!! And it's not because I have some items in there of my own being given away ;) They hit 3,000 Facebook fans and 4,000 TpT fans and are celebrating with daily giveaways and freebies, today being the first day!!

So be sure to head over to The School Supply Addict to check out all the wonderfulness they have in store this week and make sure to follow their Facebook page to get updates directly from the source!

Be sure to enter EVERY DAY for great prizes!!

Katie Poyzer

Love Me A Good Anchor Chart!

I made something! So I'm linking up for my first Make-It Monday post!!

Like I said yesterday, with such a young group (Pre-K) I really need to keep my circle time interactive and have lot and LOTS of visuals. The problem I came across last year was my easel pad... I loved being able to make lists and graphs with the kiddos but, well, I didn't have an easel to put the easel pad on. You can about imagine how that looked. *sigh*

Anyway, this year I wanted something that was low maintenance, kind of pretty and colorful, and that I didn't have to hold with one hand while trying to write on it with the other. So I made a little trip to Walmart and found these goodies:

Yes, that's a curtain rod!!
With this madness and a lot of tagboard, I was able to do this:

I had the whiteboard but needed something to hold all my markers. I found a simple, cheap little holder in the kitchen storage area and put it up with some of those nifty little Command picture hangers. Works like a charm!

Then I put my curtain rod up and used 3 shower curtain rings to hold up the posters. My favorite part is that the curtain rod keeps the posters far enough away from the wall that they can be easily flipped to access any of the posters without having to take them off the rings. Plus, they're still close enough to the wall that I can use the wall as a hard backing to writing on!! No more left arm falling asleep holding it while good ol' righty does it's thing!

Finally, I had to make sure that I was getting the most out of my new venture. So, I made up a bunch of the posters that I use most (blank of course), took them to Lakeshore, and laminated them all. Now, when we're in circle time, I can flip to the chart I need, and it's already made and ready to go!! Cuts my prep time down to nothing!!

What anchor charts do I use in Pre-K? Well, take a look:

We fill out our KWL chart at the beginning of each unit (the K and W portion) and the L at the end. It will be great to have it laminated so the writing will stay in tact until the end of a unit instead of having to keep track of a piece of easel paper!

This chart won't be used until a bit further into the year, but at least it's made and ready to go! We start off the year talking about title, author, illustrator and the parts of a book in relation to cover, spine, etc. I want them to get that down before talking about the story elements.

This chart will be used when we want to describe something like an animal or a community helper, etc. There's a sentence strip on top where I'll write something like "Bats" or "Firefighters" and then we can fill in the spaces below!

Ah, the classic Venn Diagram. Once again, this isn't used until further into the year, typically around the time we start with the story elements since we use it a lot to compare stories.

I know, this one is kind of... blah. But, it will get used A LOT! This is my blank graph. Say we want to know the most popular ocean animal. We might write dolphin, shark, starfish, and seahorse in the spaces on the bottom and then the kiddos get to come write their name above their favorite. Then we can total them up and see which had the most votes! The reason behind the blah? Flexibility. Simple as that. I wanted to be able to allow them to write their name without having to line it up with a number along the left. But I also wanted to be able to use it with pictures or what not so I left it blank!

This A to Z chart is one we use each unit. The kiddos help me think of different theme related items for each letter in an effort to get something for each. It really helps them work on their beginning letter sounds!

The "Welcome to Pre-K" sign will only be used one time per year (sadly). I will have this up when we have Meet the Teacher and, as part of our scavenger hunt (more about that another day), they will have to come over to the poster and do their best to write their name. Then, as the year progresses, we can look back on their first name writing and see how far they've come. It's a great confidence boost even for those that did OK writing their name at the beginning because they can always get better.

Ok, so this chart isn't completely prepped (I know, tsk tsk). In my defense, all I need to do is add some velcro to the squares and it will be ready to do! If you noticed in the picture of my whiteboard, I used magnets with letters A-D to do patterning last year. All I need to do is take the magnets off the back and replace them with velcro and those will be set! Then, each time we talk about patterning, I can make some cute little themed pieces to use with the letters.

This poster is modeled after a paper I found here. You roll a die 5 times, once for each column and that gives you 5 brain breaks to do! My kiddos will love this!!

Each week until winter break, the kiddos will learn 2 new letters. Each time we introduce a letter, they'll help me fill out this chart. It shows how to write the letter in the center, whether it's a vowel or a consonant,  if it's small/tall/falls, and what words start with it. Also, if you saw the post yesterday, there's an alphabet booklet that each child has in their calendar binder. It has a page for each letter so each child can draw a picture of something that starts with that letter and write the corresponding word.

Also, in yesterday's post, we talked about number sense and the kiddos learning that there are multiple ways numbers are represented. This poster talks about those ways (numerals, number word, ten frames, base ten blocks, tally marks, and objects) plus it talks about the number before, number after, and some addition/subtraction problems using that number.

It feels so nice to have these premade and ready to go. I can start the year knowing that the basics of my circle time are ready!

Katie Poyzer

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Interactive Large Group Time... A Linky Party

Welcome to the third week of Applicious Teacher's summer linky party series! This week is whole group discussion, something that is extremely interactive when you teach Pre-K because, let's face it, it has to be to keep the attention of 20 4- and 5-year olds!

Every morning, we start our day with calendar time which obviously involved the kiddos helping me to update the calendar by moving the "Yesterday", "Today", and "Tomorrow" circles after the days of the week and by adding more numbers to the calendar. If it's a new month, we'll switch out the month cards which I let our Star of the Week do. It's super easy since they're up there with velcro. Then, I use one of my Wet-Erase markers to write the date (with the kiddos help of course) where it says "Today's date". Then, depending on the day, we'll sing either a "Days of the Week" song or a "Months of the Year" song. Finally, because they've been sitting for 10 minutes or so by this point, I have them stand and we do our Pledge of Allegiance, reminding them of course to look at the flag (not me and not their neighbor) and to keep their right hand on their heart. This is great left vs. right practice!!

Now, that may not sound very interactive but stick with me. Here's where the interaction comes in...
Click the picture to find the set!


This is the Calendar Binder I use with my kiddos. I know, I know... super plain on the front. Believe it or not, I meant for it to look like that. The first day of school, the kiddos get to decorate the front of their binder and make it their own. The spine says "________'s Group Time Book". Not sure if you can tell or not but I put a piece of packaging tape over the blank so, when I write their names on it with a Sharpie, I can use fingernail polish remover at the end of the year to remove the names without having to redo the spine labels! And  now for the insides...

The first page is a calendar page that is basically a miniature version of the one on the wall. The kiddos trace the word July when we talk about the month then trace the number up through the current day. As you can tell by the hideous shine on the right side of the page, I have it in a sheet protector so the kids can reuse the same page each day in July. I also have different pages for each month where, as the months progress through the year, less of the month and less numbers are provided so they have to learn to fill in the rest on their own. By the end of the year, The page is blank so they can fill it out on their own.

The second page requires the kids to circle the day of the week, write the days in the blank for yesterday, today, and tomorrow, and write out the date, all while we're talking about it as a group. Plus, there's a space on the bottom to circle the weather.

I also have a set of letter practice pages that, like the calendar pages, increase in difficulty as they kids progress. They start out with solid black letters to track with wipe-off markers. The other pages have letters that are gray, made of dots, and/or are missing letters so they can fill in the blanks.

Like the letter pages, there is a set of number writing practice pages that progress in difficulty using dotted, gray, and missing numbers.

I also plan to utilize this binders for assessments by having the kiddos bring them to small groups with them and calling out a letter/number to which they either trace or color the correct number/letter.

I also have pages in the binder to practice tally marks (kids make a tally mark for each day in school, one per box, and total them up in the total column showing that 4 groups of 25 make 100), counting to 100 (a chart where children color in or write in a number for each day of school to keep track of the days up to 100), and name writing (children practice writing their name each month and this serves as an assessment throughout the year). Because these pages require the kids to write on them with pencils/markers, I taped the edge of the paper and hole punched them to make sure they would stay put in their binders for an extended period of time.

Finally, at the end of the binder, there is a sheet protector with an Alphabet Bok and a Numbers book. These will obviously only be in here while they are learning their letters and numbers. The Alphabet Books were given to me by another teacher so no source is available (sorry). However, the Number book is available in my store and was created to accompany the number posters we have on our way. It's a great way for my kiddos to practice the multiple ways numbers can be represented and also provides them with an interactive book that they can take home when it's complete!

To find the book and posters, head over here:

The binder set can be found here:
Once we're finished with our calendar time, we typically have some sort of discussion question or activity that leads into our science or art activity for the morning. I really love my anchor chart display. There will be more on that tomorrow so make sure to stop back!

Also, be sure to check out the rest of the whole group instruction ideas over at the Applicious Teacher!

Katie Poyzer