Teacher Week: 5 Fun Facts

I just loveeee Blog Hoppin's Teacher Week!  I try to link up every year because it's just so much fun!

1.  I am super tall... 5'11.  My whole family is tall... my little sister is the shortest one out of all of my cousins, and she is just over 5'9"!  

I dated a few shorties in my time.  Well, not short exactly, but definitely not "I can rock my cute new heels" tall.  I was lucky to marry a guy who is four inches taller than me.  I can rock my heels anytime I want.  Here he is with my sister acting all tall and stuff.

2.  I have lived in three states in my life, and they all start with the letter M.  I was born in Michigan, moved to Maine when I was two, and went to college in Massachusetts and never left.  I love all three of my M states, but Maine is my very favorite.  This is one of our engagement photos taken by my very talented bff.  I guess if I ever move again, it will have to be Montana or Missouri, ha!  

 3.  I have always taught in an inner city school.  I student taught in two different inner city schools, and got my first teaching job at the school where I currently work.  I am so proud of my nine (yikes!) years of service to this amazing school, serving an amazing group of children. 

Our school community is lucky enough to have families from countries all around the world - Cape Verde, Central and South America, the Caribbean, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Poland and more.  I have students who have amazing vocabularies, and others who literally do not speak a word of English.  It is challenging and fun and exciting and rewarding all at the same time.  I wouldn't change it for the world
4.  I have a big, crazy family who vacation together in Northern Michigan every August.  They have been going to the exact same lake for over eighty years!  My grandpa first went up to "our" lake as a little boy, and our family has been going ever since.  I have been going since I was in my mom's belly, and haven't missed a year since.  It is one of my very favorite places in the whole wide world.
This is Lake Michigan.  Gorgeous, right?

 And this is our amazing lake.  This is an iPhone photo with no filters, no editing, no nothing.  Isn't it stunning?  It is so hard for me to leave this view behind every year, and even harder to leave my family.

5.  I am NOT a great dancer, but I don't let it stop me!  I love love love to bust a move.  I love to dance at concerts, especially.  I love a lot of music, from John Mayer to Juanes, but Beyonce is my very favorite performer.  The best concert I've ever been to was Queen Bey two years ago in Boston.  At one point we were only a few feet from the stage and I was lucky enough to take this video.  I cried like a twelve year old girl and danced until my booty hurt.  Ah.ma.zing.

I'll be back tomorrow with my favorite make ahead meals.

Teaching Names in Kindergarten {with Freebies!}

In my classroom, names are the first academic subject that we tackle.  It is a perfect topic to study for little ones who have a wide variety of letter identification and phonics skills.  The kids are always super engaged in learning about their own and their friends' names, and it gives me a peek into how much knowledge they have about letters and sounds. 

Here are a few of my favorite go to name activities from past years:

 I love this activity because it is easy for children to complete.  All they need to do is write their names (with or without adult help) and decorate their page with stickers or drawings.  It is SO empowering for little ones to realize that they are authors too!  This book is always my students' favorite.  They love it to the point of it falling apart and needing to be repaired a few times throughout the year. They can be heard "reading" it all together in the library almost every day.  

You can grab the whole twelve page class book freebie {here}.  This freebie is fully editable so that all you have to do is insert your kids' photos and print!

I am a sucker for easy peasy art projects at the beginning of the year.  The piece on the left is a Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree with stickers from Michael's.  I gave each student the letters from his/her name and allowed them to stick it on as they wanted.  You can see that Justin's letters are climbing up from the ground instead of hanging in the leaves.  That is the fun of this art project... they are bright and colorful, and everyone's looks different.  I  usually do not cut pieces for my students, but because this project takes place during the first week of school AND many of my students come in with little or no scissors skills, I do prep this one for them to limit frustration.  The second activity is even simpler.  I lightly write each child's name on a piece of white art paper, and they use do-a-dot markers to form each letter.

This is always a favorite in my class at the beginning of the year.  Just snag {this freebie} and print a photo of each child.  Easy peasy and the kids love it!  To see an updated version of this activity, keep reading!

Here is another super fun and easy freebie for you.  Just take photos of your kids' shoes, pop them into the freebie template and print.  Voila!  You have an instant predictable text that is highly engaging for little ones.  I often have a student teacher or parent volunteer take the pictures for me.

To snag this freebie, just like my Facebook page {here}, then click on the Fan Freebies tab.  You will be able to download it right away!

And here is my new FAVORITE name activity:
This is a very updated take on The Good Morning Song.  My district has been really pushing technology lately, which I think is great!  The kids are never more engaged that when I am projecting videos or photos during a lesson, plus my principal loves it.  Win, win!

While thinking about how I can use technology at the very beginning of the year, I came up with the idea of a name powerpoint.  I wanted the powerpoint to be simple, visually attractive, and to teach letter identification using children's names.  I also wanted it to be easy peasy lemon squeezy to put together.  We all know how absolutely crazy the first few weeks of school are!

This powerpoint has everything I need to create a fun and beautiful activity that will hold my students' very short beginning of the year attention spans.  I am using clip art kids in this blog post for privacy, but in real life I will be using photographs of my students.

Here is how easy it is to make each slide.  Ta da!

Pretty cute, right?  Can you just imagine a rug full of kids saying "OOH!  There's Alison!  Oh there's me!!!"  Not only will they be exposed to letters and sounds, their sense of self esteem and belonging to our classroom community will improve as well.

Here are some of the activities that I plan to do with this powerpoint:
Read the slides
Have the kids echo me
Have the kids read the slides
Say each letter of each name
Sing the slides
Chant the slides
Take the photograph off to see if students can figure out the name
Use as a warm up for guided reading
Print a copy for literacy centers so that students can build each other's names with magnet letters, write on dry erase boards and more
Print the slides to create a class book
Print the slides to create a poster for our writing area

 After my students have mastered the first version of the powerpoint, I plan to add some of our favorite story characters as well. 
These slides are an ode to a few of my favorites:  Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Pete the Cat and The Mitten.

You can do this, too!
If you would like your own copy of this powerpoint, click {here} to check it out.  It's on sale in my store, and I am pretty sure you'll love it!
If you're not savvy with PowerPoint, DON'T WORRY!  There are very simple step by step directions with visuals included.  
Happy back to school!