Cadeaux de Noël pour les parents (et un petit cadeau pour vous!)

Hi!

I have been super sick with a rotten cold all week, so I am just popping in with a quick post today! You would think after sleeping from 7:30 last night until 7:30 this morning that I would be all better, but sadly I am just about ready for another nap.

Parent gifts are a big topic of discussion this time of year, and if you are looking for a simple-but-cute idea, this post will show you a couple of things that I have done over the years! I really like making gifts with my students that require them to do as much of the work as possible - even if they may be less "perfect", I feel that parents don't really want a gift from me; they want a gift from their child!

I made this owl ornament with my students last year and the year before. It is a big hit and turns out really well! I get my students to flatten the dough, add the details, and fold it themselves. Once dry, I brought a cardboard box and some gold spray paint outside and we spray painted them right in the box. I suggest gluing the hanging ribbon to the back of the ornament with hot glue in addition to stringing it through the hole, as it does end up being rather heavy. Click on the picture below to see the full instructions:



The first year I did those, my students painted them themselves using liquid paint. They were cute, but it was harder to tell they were owls - ha! The spray paint allows for the details to still show through, and my students loved helping me with that part ;)

We used this kind of air-dry clay for them - I LOVE it! One tub was just enough for all 17 of my students.

Comment j'enseigne les mots fréquents

Hi everyone! As I said in my last blog post, today I will be taking a break from my centres series to go off on a little tangent about how I teach sight words. I hope it will be a helpful tangent, as student sight word lists can be very useful during centre time, particularly for any sort of word work centre that you would like your students to do!


Knowing a wide variety of sight words is SO KEY for primary students when they are learning to read. When your students are able to instantly identify key words without needing to pause and reflect, their brains then have more energy to decode the new words in their text that they haven't seen before. They are also better able to make sense of what they are reading when they don't have to decode every word, so they are better able to predict the new words that are coming up.

Knowing their sight words also helps your students big time with their fluency, as well as their confidence. Sight words make up a huge percentage of the words in just about any text (and certainly any text that your students will be reading in kinder). Once your students realize that they can string together whole sentences with the sight words that they know, they will feel like readers right away!

Also, certain words simply cannot be decoded in the French language - think est, et, les, etc. You can't just slide your finger under those letters, say each sound out loud, and come up with the right word! It is essential that our students memorize these high frequency words to help them start reading as soon as possible, and feel like capable, successful readers.


However, as important as they are, sight words can be quite the monster in kindergarten! Our students are alllll over the map - some learn sight words more quickly than you can teach them, while others take much longer to learn even the "easiest" sight words. Some students also find it easy to read sight words within the context of a sentence, but struggle in isolation - or vice versa. With such a wide range of abilities, how can you possibly teach everyone at their pace and make sure they are staying engaged? It can also be tricky to motivate students to memorize their sight words - how can you encourage them to practice their words over and over until they stick?

Comment mettre en place le centre de Lecture à soi

Hey everyone!

In case you are late to the party, I have been sharing how I run literacy centres in my classroom over the past few weeks. You can find out how I start centres in this post, how I organize them over here, and see ALL of the centres I have posted about so far by clicking here. Also, don't forget that you can access all of the freebies that you see in any of my posts by signing up for my Free French Resource Library - right HERE!

One great centre that is easy to set up and maintain without a lot of extra prep is the Read-to-Self centre (Lecture à soi). It can take a lot of modelling and practice up front, but the investment pays off - by taking the time to teach your students that they can ALL already read, you can help your students find joy and success in this centre. Books are magical! One of my favourite sayings is about how there is really no child who actually hates reading - there are just children who haven't yet found the right books. It is our job to help them learn how to find the right books, teach them that they can read anything they want, and guide them to discover the magic of lecture à soi!

Read on to see my suggestions for how to get started.

One literacy centre that is really easy to maintain with very little prep is the Read-to-Self centre. But how can you set one up before your students know how to read? This blog post explains how it works in my French kindergarten classroom.


First of all, consider doing whole-group practice in a workshop format prior to turning Lecture à soi into an independent centre. Some of your kindergarten students may know next to nothing about books - they may have never opened one before, they may not know how to treat a book with respect, they may not know how to turn pages carefully, etc. I generally base my lessons around the assumption that my little sweeties all know nothing about books, and teach accordingly (obviously many of them DO know about books, but this way all of my bases are covered).

For 3-4 weeks, I teach quick mini lessons, and then send my students out with tubs or baskets of books to use to practice what I have taught them. We usually do this before our two "normal" centre rotations - I tell them that it is like a centre, but everyone is doing the same thing. I always, always start our first lesson with creating an anchor chart about what it looks like to take care of books, and what someone looks like who is mean to books. I make sure that they know that our books are PRECIOUS, and must be taken care of! I plan to make a product for TPT that explains this more deeply someday, but my to-do list is very long at the moment! Here is an example of what kinds of lessons I would teach in the first week:

Comment utiliser votre tableau à pochettes comme centre d'apprentissage

Hey everyone!

In case you are late to the party, I have been sharing how I run literacy centres in my classroom over the past few weeks. You can find out how I start centres in this post, how I organize them over here, and see ALL of the centres I have posted about so far by clicking here

Do you have a pocket chart in your classroom? Are you looking for ideas and/or ways to use it during your literacy centres? Today's post is for you! I am writing all about how I use my pocket chart during centre time.



90% of the time, I use my pocket chart for what I like to call "Phrases fantastiques". So, most of this post will be about those! At the end, I will share a couple of other ideas that you can incorporate with your pocket chart.

Phrases fantastiques are a great way to build your students' vocabulary, work on their one-to-one correspondence, practice sight words, work on correct sentence structure in their second language, encourage them to start thinking about masculin vs. féminin, and get them reading and writing simple sentences en français. I am all about killing two birds with one stone and being as efficient as possible, and this centre kills so many birds with just one resource!

Here is how to set it up and get started:

C'est quoi le centre "Écris la salle"?

Hey everyone!

In case you are late to the party, I have been sharing how I run literacy centres in my classroom over the past few weeks. You can find out how I start centres in this post, how I organize them over here, and see ALL of the centres I have posted about so far by clicking here

Today I will be writing about my students' most FAVOURITE centre. You may not have heard of "Écris la salle" (Write the Room) as a centre before, but let me tell you - it is a HIT! I have run this centre in my classroom for the past four years, and it is always the most popular. I love it, too - it is easy to set up and explain, it keeps my students busy the whole time, and it gets them moving! You can also run it with very few materials - just a pencil, paper, and clip board for each group member if you want. Here is how to do it!



DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT YOUR STUDENTS TO WRITE
Sight words? Letters? Student names? Thematic vocabulary? Sons composés? The choice is yours! Écris la salle is essentially a scavenger hunt, where you send your students all around the room looking for whatever you like. When they find it, they write it down. What you want them to find depends on your particular group of students and where they are at. 

Trucs et idées pour votre centre de jeux

Hi guys!

In case you are late to the party, I have been sharing how I run literacy centres in my classroom over the past few weeks. You can find out how I start centres in this post, how I organize them over here, and see ALL of the centres I have posted about so far by clicking here

Our games centre is another student favourite! When I first started this centre, I really limited myself and was only thinking in the realm of "board games" and puzzles. While those are awesome, kindergarteners are so young, and it was hard to find engaging games that they were able to play independently. Also, board games are EXPENSIVE! Then, I realized that I could make and teach my own games, and/or adapt old favourites (like Go Fish and Memory) to fit my particular group of students. So, while I do still provide my students with some board games throughout the year, generally based on their interests, this post will mainly be about how you can teach your students games that touch on the literacy outcomes that they need to know.

Games are an awesome way to get your students reviewing important literacy, communication, AND social skills! Check out this blog post to read all about what the Centre de jeux looks like in my French primary classroom!

(Side note - I wrote another blog post last year explaining the WHY behind why I think that games are super important to incorporate into your day as much as possible, especially in French second-language classrooms. You can check out that post by clicking here.)

Here are my top tips for the best games centres! There's a lot of them, but each one is pretty quick!

Trucs et idées pour votre centre d'écriture

Hi guys!

In case you are late to the party, I have been sharing how I run literacy centres in my classroom over the past few weeks. You can find out how I start centres in this post, how I organize them over here, and see ALL of the centres I have posted about so far by clicking here

Today, I want to talk to you about our writing centre. I loove our writing centre! I love teaching writing in general because children are such natural (and hilarious) story tellers, and because writing is automatically differentiated without much extra work. Each child is able to work at their own ability, and progress naturally with time. In addition to running Writer's Workshop in my classroom (which you can read about here), I also have time for writing during centres. This gives my students extra time to practice and solidify what they are learning during Writer's Workshop, as well as exposure to other genres and ideas. Here are my best tips for starting a smooth Centre d'écriture in your classroom!

The writing centre gives students extra time to practice and solidify what they have learned in regular writing lessons. It is one of my favourite centres, and always a hit with students. Here are my best tips for starting a smooth Centre d'écriture in your French primary classroom!



1. START WITH WHAT THEY KNOW...again!
As I have stated LOTS of times already (starting here), it is so important to start with what your students can already do. In kindergarten, this might just be drawing, or colouring, or maaaybe writing their name. That's fine! You need to start with what they already know how to do so that you can teach them your behaviour expectations before pushing them out of their comfort zone and encouraging them to try something new. So, on the first day, I may just have a bin with blank paper, colouring sheets, and some crayons. I will talk to my students at the carpet for 5-7 minutes before sending them off to work, and on the first day of talking about the writing centre, we usually review voice level and/or clean up. With certain groups, I have also had to mention writing on your OWN paper - not your partner's ;) Once they have behaviours exactly how you like, you can move on to teaching them some new routines/procedures and exposing them to some new genres or things to try out.

Idées et trucs pour vos centres de motricité fine

Hi guys!

In case you are late to the party, I have been sharing how I run literacy centres in my classroom over the past few weeks. You can find out how I start centres in this post, how I organize them over here, and see ALL of the centres I have posted about so far by clicking here

This week, I will be talking about our Fine Motor centres! Fine motor centres are my favourites - and my students', too! They are lots of fun and allow my students time to play, while simultaneously working on those all-important fine motor skills. Don't feel guilty about including these - don't feel that they aren't "real" literacy centres. Children, especially at this age, NEED to participate in activities that help develop their little finger muscles if we want them to be able to cut, colour, and (most importantly!) write neatly and efficiently. Plus, they are four and five years old! They learn through playing - let them play! Read on for some tips and ideas for how to organize and incorporate fine motor centres into your centre rotation.

Fine motor centres are my favourites - and my students' favourites, too! Children NEED to participate in activities that help develop their little finger muscles if we want them to be able to cut, colour, and (most importantly!) write neatly and efficiently. Centres are a great time to fit in those kinds of activities. Check out this blog post full of great ideas!



I kind of touched on how I organize my fine motor centres in this post. Just to recap, I run two fine motor centres at a time - a blue (A) and a red (B). To help my students stay independent, the centre cards on my centre board are both the same colour as the bins they are housed in, and each have a picture with the corresponding letter (A or B). Twice the potential for them to find the right bins ;)

I always have three choices for each fine motor centre - three reds and three blues. Generally, all the red centres are different than the blues. Here are how they look on my shelf:

Des idées pour votre centre de pâte à modeler

One of my students' favourite centres is the play dough centre. I keep the play dough centre out *most* of the year (it is one of my 10 "core" centres), but it is one that I will occasionally rotate out. Students can work on lots of different literacy skills via play doh (especially letter formation!), and even if you just let them play, they are still building those all-important finger muscles that they need to improve their fine motor skills. Play doh is engaging and fun, and you can easily change it up throughout the year to keep your students excited! Here are my top play doh tips and ideas:

The play dough centre is always a hit! Students can work on all kinds of literacy skills using play dough - letter formation, spelling, sight words, etc., and even during free play, they are still building those all-important finger muscles. Here is how I run my play dough centre in my French primary classroom!


1. START WITH FREE PLAY
I talked about how you should be starting with centres that your students already know in this post. Play doh is great for this! In the beginning, I just put out a few containers of play doh and let them play how they want while I teach expectations. It is important to take the time to teach them exactly what you expect out of them - we talk about why we don't mix the colours, and how it should look after being cleaned up. I also take the time to teach them different techniques. I show them how to make balls, roll the doh into snakes, flatten it like a pancake, etc. This helps inspire them to practice the techniques they will use later to make letters and words during their free play.

You can also add toys if you like - rolling pins, plastic cutlery, play dough stampers, and so on work great. I purchased a fire house set inexpensively during Amazon Prime day this past summer and it was a big hit!

Comment introduire les nouveaux centres d'apprentissage

Happy Sunday! It is a rainy day here in NS today - fall has definitely arrived! A perfect day for curling up with a mug of coffee and writing my next post in my centres d'apprentissage en maternelle series. Today I would like to talk to you about my tips for introducing new centres and activities to your primary students.

Introducing new literacy centres in maternelle can be HARD!! Here are my tips and tricks for centre success in your French kindergarten classroom!

In my experience, introducing centres and activities GRADUALLY, one activity at a time, is the way to go, rather than trying to switch out all your centres at once every Monday. There are a few reasons for this, including:
- it is WAY less prep that you have to have done all at once
- if you didn't get everything prepped that you wanted, it's okay - your students can continue the activity that they worked on last time
- you only have to talk about one activity at a time, so your students only have to pay attention for about five minutes
- it leaves you lots of opportunity to also review with your students

I suggest teaching or reviewing one thing with your students before EACH centre rotation. I always bring my students back to the carpet before each rotation. We can regroup and discuss any necessary reminders, and then I move right into the one thing I want to teach them that day. I do two rotations, so I review/teach them something about centres twice per day. As I said in a previous post, I start the year with centres that my students already know how to do - things that require no explanation (blocks, lego, play doh, etc.). I teach only behaviour expectations (see this post for more details) and routines (see this post for more details) at this time. Once they are independent and doing what I expect, I add in our "real" centres gradually, once at a time, over the span of a couple weeks. Which brings me to my first tip!

Organisez vos centres d'apprentissage

Here I am... a day late! I forgot when I planned last week to blog on Monday that I would in fact be in Halifax watching the greatest hockey team in the NHL (the Ottawa Senators) kick some Toronto Maple Leaf butt. It was a belated birthday present and it was super fun! Go Sens Go!!!

If you missed last week's post, I am doing a little series on my blog all about centres and how I run them in my maternelle classroom. Last week I talked about how I launch them in the beginning of the school year. And now, without further ado...here is a post all about how I organize my centres/rotations in a way that allows my students to be completely autonomous (or as autonomous as possible for a group of 4- and 5-year olds haha)!


Keeping your centres organized makes life waaaay easier and really helps your students become more independent. Click to read about how I keep my literacy centres organized in my French kindergarten classroom!


Keeping your centres organized (and keeping your organization consistent) makes life waaaaaaaay easier. It also really helps your students become more independent - I very rarely have to tell my students where to go and what to do...I just show them where to look in order to figure it out on their own. As I mentioned last week, you only have 5-7 minutes to teach your students something new before each rotation. You don't want to spend all of those minutes telling your students what to do and where to go! Once my students are able to stay at their station for about 10 minutes and have behaviour expectations down pat, I move into teaching them about how our centres are organized. Here are my top four tips!

Starting centres... en maternelle!

Do you use centres in your primary classroom? I LOVE centres!!! They can be awesome. When you have centres in place that run like a well-oiled machine, you can easily pull small groups of students to work with, while being confident that the rest of your class is engaged and practicing important skills - independently. This helps you ensure that you are teaching your students EXACTLY what they need to know, and you're not wasting their time or your time. Centres can also make differentiation a snap, if you have different "levels" of activities for both centre time and time working with you.

I feel like by now, most teachers are aware of how valuable centres and small groups can be. However, centres can be a challenge to implement, especially in maternelle. They take time to teach and prepare, there is sometimes a lack of quality French resources, it can be hard to make sure your students are working responsibly and independently while you pull a small group, and it can take a lot of organisation. It has honestly taken me a few years of trial and error (lots of error haha) to get my centres running exactly how I want them. I figured some other teachers may be able to learn from my experiences and mistakes, so I will be sharing how I start and run centres in my kindergarten classroom over the next few weeks, along with some of the resources that I use!

Centres are a great way to keep your students engaged and learning while you pull guided reading groups. But, en maternelle (especially in September!), your students can barely sit still long enough to hear ONE center explanation, let alone a bunch. And they may not even understand French yet!! But, we all know it is important to start building stamina and routine from the very beginning. Here is how I start literacy centres from the very first week of school in my French kindergarten classroom!

Today's post is all about what to do in the first few weeks of centres - how to get started. But before I get started on this blog post, here are a few things you should know about my classroom centres:

Parent communication en maternelle

Happy Sunday!

I know that school has probably started for most of you (we started back on the 8th), but I wanted to talk about a super important topic today that is especially pertinent to the beginning of the school year - parent communication. Obviously, it is essential that teachers of all grades communicate with their students' parents, but I believe that this communication is especially precious and especially important in maternelle. Parents of kindergarten students are unique - for many, it is their first time having a school-aged child. For others, even those whose siblings you have previously taught, things may have changed significantly since their older children started school. At this age, you cannot count on your students to inform their parents of goings-ons or of your expectations, so it is important that you communicate clearly. New school-aged parents are often nervous, have no idea what to expect, and may not know about things that are "obvious" to teachers and parents who have had children at the school for a few years - through no fault of their own. Parents are like students - they can't be expected to know things that they haven't yet been taught!

Parent communication is so key, because it is how you can ensure that your classroom parents are aware of your expectations for them and for their child. It is also a way for you to make sure that they know what the school expects of them. I pride myself on being a good communicator, and have had many thanks and expressions of gratitude from my classroom parents in the past. Read on for some tips and ideas of how I communicate in my class!

It is essential that teachers of all grades communicate with their students' parents, but this communication is especially important in maternelle. Check out this blog post to see how I communicate with parents all year long!



BEGINNING OF THE YEAR
The beginning of the year is information overload for most parents. They are bombarded with forms, notices, reminders, and procedure information. It is essential that you have an organizational system in place for all of this info - you do not want to be sending home a form or two each day, only to have them lose the forms or forget to return them. You also want to be sure that you set a clear date for when you want that information read by, and forms returned by.

It is likely going to be overwhelming for parents to receive all this information at once no matter what you do. Here is what I do to make it as simple as possible!

Plans pour la rentrée 2016 (maternelle)

I cannot believe how close we are to the first day of school!!! Such an exciting time of year...but, let's face it, it's also a STRESSFUL time of year. I am actually feeling a little guilty for pausing in my preparations to write this blog post! My to do list is still longer than humanly possible...and time is running out. I figured that some of you may be feeling the pressure as well, and looking for some ideas to help your first few days run smoothly. La maternelle is especially challenging - most of our new munchkins have no idea about school/classroom expectations yet, someone is usually crying most of the morning, and everyone and their supplies are ALL OVER THE PLACE! Kindergarten is always exhausting, but never more than the first few days of school. Read on for some of my tips & tricks for first day planning, as well as a peek at what my first day plans look like!

Tips and tricks to planning the first day of maternelle, as well as a peek at my actual first day plans!


TIP 1: PLAN THE ORDER OF YOUR ACTIVITIES...BUT NOT THE LENGTH
We all have schedules with how many minutes we should be spending on each subject/activity. Once you know your students and their pace, these provide great guidelines. On the first few days...forget it. I plan the order that I want to complete my activities (and sometimes change it on the fly if necessary), but I try not to rely on them being completed within a certain time frame. I try to stick to the order as much as possible, but don't panic if one activity takes forever, or if another is done and over with in five minutes. Here is a photo of my plans for the first two days (don't judge my handwriting or my franglais, ha!):



You may notice that my first day plans are written in, but my second day plans are on sticky notes. Usually, I plan out my weeks via my pacing guide (see image below), and then write my daily plans the morning of in my planner. This way, if we don't get to an activity, or if we have extra time and start something I had planned to do the following day, I don't have to erase anything, cross anything out, or ruin my pretty planner with white out. It also helps me mentally prepare for the day to come, and ensure that I have everything ready. The first two days of school do not go into my pacing guide, so I planned on sticky notes first.

French rhyme time

Hi!

I have something exciting to announce tonight, just in time for back to school! As of today, I have officially decided to offer a Newsletter to all of my favourite people (that means you!). When you sign up, you will be the first to know about new blog posts, exclusive information, great deals, and occasional FREE downloads. In fact, you can get a band new, free download right now - just for signing up!

In getting ready for back to school, I have been compiling all of my guided reading games and activities (getting organized is my big goal for this year!). Last week, I talked about some ways that I practice counting syllables with my students. Another big skill that K and 1 students need to work on is rhyming. Students should be able to identify and produce rhymes, and figure out which words in a series do not rhyme with a target word. Like syllables, rhymes are another way to show students that words and sounds can be fun, and that we can be silly with them!


The game pictured above I call "Mots dans un bateau". Yes, even the title rhymes ;) It is so simple, but very effective. I use it during small group time, but I also turn it into a whole group game as well. The set includes six boats, each with a different image on the hull and four blank spaces.

Les syllabes - pourquoi sont-elles importantes?

Do you practice dividing words into syllables and putting them back together with your students? How about figuring out how many syllables are in a variety of words, and counting them? If you haven't practiced this with your students before, you definitely should start!!




WHY ARE SYLLABLES IMPORTANT?
Being able to divide a word into syllables is a VERY important pre-reading skill! As I'm sure you know, as students learn to decode new words while reading, it is much more efficient for them to read words in chunks, rather than stretching out each letter - especially when reading longer words. If you wanted to read "lavabo", for example, it is much easier to read it as "la-va-bo" than to read it as "llll-aaa-vvv-aaa-bbb-ooo" and then try to remember all of the letters you just said! It is so important for our students to practice “chunking” words like this, and to practice putting the chunks back together again, so that they are used to doing this when they begin to read. A great way to introduce this skill is to practice it orally. Reading words as syllables is no use if students can’t understand what word they have just read, so they need to be able to hold each syllable in their mind and then string them back together. Practicing dividing words into chunks and putting them back together in a relaxed, fun environment (like while playing a game), can help students transfer these skills to print when they are ready to learn to read. 

Comment utiliser les « billets de fierté » en maternelle

Bonjour!

As you many have noticed, I have recently added French Brag Tags (billets de fierté) to my TPT store, and have been discussing them a bit on my blog. I like to call them « médailles merveilleuses », but you may have heard of them under a different name. Basically, billets de fierté are a classroom management system, that help you teach and reward your students in a positive way as they learn, develop, and practice great behaviour and character choices. I wanted to write a little blog post today about how I use les billets de fierté in my classroom. As you doubtless know, I teach maternelle - and if you teach maternelle as well, you know that sometimes we have to do things a little bit differently!


Step 1 - Set up
Preparing and setting up your billets de fierté will take some time and work. I highly recommend picking a rainy day and setting up in your living room with lots of coffee and Netflix (or the Olympics if you get started this week!!). Just about any set of brag tags that you purchase will include many different options - especially if you have purchased a bundle of tags. The first thing you will need to do is decide which tags will work for you, and how many of each you will need. Which behaviours do you want your students to learn and show? Which are most important to you and your classroom environment? There is no need to print them all if they don't all work for you - and you don't need to print hundreds of each tag, either.

Changing up my clip chart - plus a freebie!!

Hi!

If you have been following my blog for awhile, you may have seen this post that I wrote last year about my clip chart. I have used a clip chart ever since I started teaching as a classroom management strategy, tweaking and changing it along the way. Please don't throw tomatoes...if you read my earlier post, you will see how and why I think that clip charts can be a useful tool, despite the bad rap they have been getting lately. But, because I am me and always have to switch things up, I have decided to do my clip chart a little bit differently again this year!



A few weeks ago, I read an AMAZING blog post that showed up on my Facebook page. It is called Why I'll Never Get Rid of My Clip Chart and is written by Sarah Plum(itallo). You can read her original blog post HERE. I have reached out to her and she is in full support of me adapting her original brag tag clip chart idea, and sharing it with you here, in French :)

6 uses for colour-coded student clothespins

Do you love washi tape as much as I do?? Use it to easily colour code student clothespins!! There are TONS of ways to use colour-coded clothespins in the French primary classroom - this blog post talks about 6 of them


Any other washi tape addicts out there? You know, the super pretty tape that comes on tiny rolls of gorgeousness and patterns? Two summers ago, I discovered washi tape and fell in LOVE... and bought a ton of it. A ton of it (see photo below of my "at home" collection)!!! And I wasted lots of time decorating unimportant things (like homework duo tangs for my students, pages in my planner, etc. etc.) and turning them into pretty things. Which is all well and good if you have all the time in the world, but less good if you don't. If you are like me and bought into the washi tape craze but are searching for something actually useful to use it for (aside from strictly decoration), or something where the benefits outweigh the time you put into it, this post is for you!



Have you seen any of those pictures on Pinterest floating around about colour-coded clothespins? And how to dye your clothespins using messy, stain-y food colouring and other dyes? Well, I loved the idea of colour-coded clothespins but hated the idea of staining my fingers...enter washi tape! Here is a peek at what I was doing yesterday afternoon:

CELEBRATE - TPT site-wide sale for Teacher Appreciation week!

Have you heard the news??


TPT is having a huge sale today & tomorrow! You can save up to 28% off in most stores (including mine!) These sales happen only 4 times a year, and I can't lie...I totally build up my wish list in anticipation for weeks before they happen haha. Then I wake up super early as if it's Christmas morning and check out ASAP. #tptaddict
Here are *some* of the great deals I snagged this morning!



Math Writing Strips and Fine Motor Mats from Tara West.
Tara West is an English seller, but I can still use both of these products in my classroom with no translation necessary #hallelujah Next year I am adding two Fine Motor centres into my centre rotation, so those mats will be perfect. The math writing strips I will add to one of our math early finisher buckets with a white board and marker. You can click on the images above to see them on TPT.

How & why you should use games in your classroom


Hi!

Anyone else out there who doesn't understand how it can possibly be the end of April?! I am currently recovering from an appendectomy/extra bonus surgery for a surprise post-surgery internal bleed, and won't actually even be back at work until the first of May. MAY! Two months left for me to fill my little munchkins' brains with as much as I possibly can! #cuepanicattack

This time of year is so bittersweet. Not quite the end, but so very close. I am never ready for my students to move on to grade one (Heck, last year I even followed some of them to grade one and taught them twice! And believe me, I've thought about doing it again next year haha). I spend all year getting them to this fabulous point where they basically run the show themselves and I can spend all my time actually TEACHING, rather than explaining routines and procedures, reminding them of my expectations, etc. etc. And then I have to send them on their way. I may be a bit biased, but I really think that Kindergarten is special...no other grade levels quite understand just how far these kids come from their very first day of school EVER. I know that by the end of June, I will be beyond exhausted and ready for the break, but I am not quite there yet, and the fact that it will be MAY in a week and a bit is really freaking me out!

Anyways. I didn't mean to go off on that tangent. This blog post today is not about the bittersweet moments of teaching - it is about using games in your primary classroom.

Children learn through play, and need to be playing even in the classroom. But how to balance play with learning a second language? This blog post explains how to use games to help your students improve academically and practice key vocabulary and skills.


There is a lot of research to support the use of games and play with young students. I am sure that you are well aware that children learn through play, and that play is central to who they are and should be encouraged as much as possible. The younger the students, the more they should be playing. We all know that! However, we also have a lot of pressure to get these kids to perform academically...and we are maybe even sometimes expected to get them to do things that they aren't really developmentally ready for. So, if your students don't get as much time to play as you know they should, don't beat yourself up - we are all trying to find that balance! One way that I try and find that balance is by teaching my students to play games that have academic content and review important skills as well.

Help your second-language students assimilate new vocabulary

Hi guys!

I was evaluating my students last week on oral communication for their report cards - specifically about whether or not they use new vocabulary and expressions in both structured and spontaneous situations. I thought that sharing some of the strategies I use every day to help them assimilate new vocabulary may be useful to my fellow second-language teachers!

(ALTHOUGH technically, I teach at a French first-language school...but let's be real, expectations are often far different from reality ;). Plus, even first-language students should be learning and using new words and expressions!)

So, without further ado, here are 5 ways to help your second-language students assimilate new vocabulary!


1. Teach new vocabulary and expressions explicitly.

Don't just expect your students to pick up on what you/others are saying and what they read in books. If you want them to use new words and expressions, it is important that you specifically tell them your expectations and take time out of your day to TEACH these words and expressions. I have an oral communication block built into my day, and try to spend 20-30 minutes per day just on teaching and practicing new words, and giving my students time to practice them (see number 4). I start this on the first day of school, when I teach my students how to answer the question "comment ça va?". Every morning, we all answer that question (and listen to our classmates' answers!), and we build on our answers all year long.
How do I explicitly teach these words? Lots of ways! While I don't specifically teach curriculum via themes, I do often have themes that fit what is going on in the year woven throughout our day. For example, Easter was a few weeks ago. Easter is a big deal to kids - I want them to be able to talk about their excitement and experiences with their peers. So, our poem of the week was about Easter.

Word wall hows & whys


Hi guys!
Just popping in today to talk about my word wall and why I love it - and why my students do, too! Before I start, I just want to clarify that I have always had a word wall while teaching K. I think word walls are extremely important and key to your young students' writing success. However, I used to have my word wall on a small bulletin board-sized white board in the corner. After my first two years of teaching, I knew that something had to change - my students couldn't reach the words, they were hard to see, and there wasn't enough room for all of the words we were learning. The only other space I had in my room that could possibly be used for a word wall thanks to fire marshall rules was my regular white board - the white board I wrote on all the time and taught from! This post is about why I decided to sacrifice my precious white board for an interactive word wall, and why I think you should, too!




Before I dive in, here is a current picture of my word wall. Before you look, just keep in mind that I didn't straighten out my words or rearrange anything prior to taking this picture ;) #reallife!


To create my word wall, I just used decorative masking tape for the boxes and black Sharpie to write the letters. I did plan out beforehand how many boxes I needed to fit on each row, and thought about how many words I planned to teach for each letter. For example, Ww & Xx and Yy & Zz each share a small box, because I have no words I plan on teaching that start with those letters. However, Aa, Ll and Mm all have big boxes and will be pretty full come June.

Centres & Sight Word Practice

Hi!

We ended up getting a bonus snow day from that giant blizzard, and in between shovelling ourselves out, I managed to find some time to finally finish up an activity that I have been wanting to use as a literacy centre for a long time. It may be of interest to you if you are looking for some new centre activities. Presenting... Mots fréquents mystérieux!



During centre time, I really want my students to be practicing as many skills as possible. I also need activities that are easy to differentiate and provide a challenge (but are also do-able!) for all of my students. I am excited to use this activity as part of our stamping station!

Currently at our stamping station, my students have just been practicing stamping their sight word lists. I have enough stations that we don't stamp every week, but it has definitely been in need of something new and engaging! My students also love playing pretend, and get super into any station that involves imagining they are something else (for example, our sand table is currently a paleontologist centre where they wear safety glasses and use oversized tweezers and paint brushes to search for letters of the alphabet. And it is our favourite centre for sure!). So, we will be playing detective for the next few weeks, magnifying glasses and all!

This centre will be practicing two things - identifying sight words of course, but also working on initial sounds. Most of my students are getting really good at identifying initial sounds, but I still have some strugglers. I am hoping this extra practice helps push them along.

Each worksheet contains multiple secret coded sight words. In order to crack the code and identify the words, students will look at the picture clues. They will stamp the first letter of each clue, left to right, and build the secret sight word. Simple! I have used the same images for each letter that we have on our classroom alphabet and alphabet homework rings, but for those who are still struggling, I have printed out another référentiel that will be placed with the stamps that students can refer to at any time during their centre. We use the same kind of référentiel in our writing folders, so my students are used to checking it.

If you don't have stamps but want to use this centre, you still can! Just get students to write their sight words with a marker, like this:


Or, laminate the sheets/place them in a page protector and get your students to use white board markers to write on them. Saving on paper is always a bonus!

If this pack looks like something you may need, you can grab it HERE in my TPT store. It comes with 20 different worksheets - 77 common sight words and 12 colour words for a total of 89 words! There are also four options for référentiels, depending on your needs, and an answer key.

I have so many more things I want to tell you about centres, including how I set them up, run them, and organize them. Stay tuned for future posts all about literacy centres! :)

Using French read-alouds to teach reading strategies & deepen your students' understanding (Close Reading)


Happy Chinese New Year! There is a big blizzard on its way here in NS, so we have a snow day. A great chance for me to catch up on my gigantic to-do list!

Before I get started on that, I wanted to pop in and do a little post about using read-alouds in a second language classroom. While in theory, my school is a French first-language school, well over half of my students come from French families/ancestry but do not speak French at home. Since I teach K, I have a handful of students each year who begin with little-to-no French skills. It can be a tough balance to create lessons that are beneficial to my strong French students, but that don't leave my language-learners in the dust! This year, I discovered "Close Reading", and feel that I have found a great way to use French read-alouds to develop my students' reading AND language comprehension, no matter their language level.



When close reading, the teacher selects a text that lends itself well to the strategies they wish to teach/practice. These books should be engaging, interesting, and not so long/complex that your students won't understand the big idea the first go around, but complex enough to provide students with many opportunities to deepen their understanding. Here are a few of my favourites: