Saturday, September 6, 2014


School has been going strong for FIVE weeks now! I can't believe it.

My kiddos are super awesome <----sure that's grammatically correct.

We just finished our study on syllables and I wanted something for my kiddos to do in Word Work.  We have clapped and clapped and clapped until our hands were red. So I figured, why not continue the agony (not really) in a center.

I came up with this little diddy (Who now has Jack & Diane by Mellenkamp in your head?)

Kids can look at the picture and clap the sound. Then they put a paper clip on the number that they clapped. I did the paper clip so that they can remember what number they clapped. If they can hold it in their head, then you don't need the clip. Then they find the letter in the top left corner and find the corresponding letter on the recording sheet and write the number.

I am using the dry erase covers so they can be used over and over. You could also make several copies and have students fill them out and turn them in so you can check. I also made a few copies so that more than one student can use this center at a time.

I put smiley stickers on one set and rainbow stickers on another so that I can keep all supplies together.

You can check it out here:

They are loving this one. It's super simple and they learned how to play it fairly quickly. I hope your kiddos can have fun with it too.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

My Floor

I did something different with my carpet this year and I am loving it!

I am also kicking myself for never thinking of it before. 

I've always used duct tape to tape spaces on the floor and I never like my arrangement or the tape gets totally stuck to the floor and I'm having to scrape it off and it's just a mess.

Well, this year I used duct tape, but I didn't do little pieces to mark spaces. I made a GRID!

No, I did not live on the floor and mark out the squares to make them even. I'm not THAT OCD. I just needed a space for them to sit in. 
The best thing about this is that everyone has a square and they can turn in their square as needed. They can face the wall when we are using my projector, they can turn to the left to see my calendar, they can turn and face their partner for Turn and Talk. Anyway they turn, they never leave their square.
When we do GoNoodle or other activities (like playing Sight Word BOOM! <--- their absolute favorite game right now) they stand in their square and keep their feet and hands inside it.

This is working perfectly. My kids are in their number order. I was going to put numbers in their square, but they learned their places quickly so I'm not going to. 

I figured, later on, it can be use as a ten frame for practice. 

Cheapest "RUG" ever - since I can't have a rug in my room (I can't afford it if I could or not).

Have you used a grid before?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meet The Teacher

I'm a little tardy to the party, but here is my Meet The Teacher linky!

Hi All! I'm Laura and I'm the author here at Kinder Kraziness. I used to be pretty good at this blogging thing and would do it on the daily <---do people still say that?

But now, I come and go as a please. My time has been given over to my family.  
These two are my loves and my life and I know some of my readers miss me, but this is what's important.

You may also see the cat up there. That is Libby. She is mean and ornery and has a love/hate relationship with EVERYONE in the house. This includes my dog.

This is Jack. He's our Pit Bull and our big baby. Sometimes he's a bigger baby THAN the baby. 

If you follow me on INSTAGRAM  then you see these family faces more than you see my classroom. 

I have been teaching Kindergarten for 12 years and never thought that would happen. When I first started teaching, I DID NOT want to teach these young kiddos. Now I wouldn't trade it for any other grade in the world. That is unless my boss tells me to move grades (then I might FREAK a little)

So here's a little Q&A about me!


My Husband, My Kid, My Family
Church, My Friends, Taking Pictures, Memphis Tigers, Starbucks Coffee, My Cell Phone, Adult Music (this is in opposition to Disney Jr and Kindermusik cds being played in the car ALL THE TIME), Outlander, My Nook, Pizza, Steak, Sushi, Movies,  I could go on

A singer. I LOVE TO SING. And I'm not too shabby. I sing in a local cover band here in town. I tried out for Nashville Star when I was younger and though I didn't make it, I loved the experience. I was going to try out for The Voice, but the year they came to Memphis for auditions I found out I was pregnant a week before auditions.

Faithful. Optimistic. Hopeful.  


"I'd really love to tie your shoes...said no teacher EVER!!"


My Family and friends - which suddenly includes Hugh Jackman, Sam Heughan, Alison Krauss and Olaf the Snowman


 Mom and her Men 

 The power to change anyone's mood. Then we'd all be one big happy family and my kiddos wouldn't drive me batty with the whining and tattling - you know what I'm talking about =)


"You're Killing Me, Smalls!" 


Take Me For Longing by Alison Krauss and Union Station
I'm in a Bluegrass mood right now and she's one of my favorites. This song is pretty awesome. I love the fiddle and the bass booms in the back...not your normal bass, mind you but the great beat of the Upright Bass. HEART!


Night Owl! I honestly go to bed pretty early now. I never know when the kid will wake up so I sleep when he sleeps...luckily he's a good sleeper. If I didn't have to do that, I'd be up until 1 or 2. Sometimes I still am =)  


My Multiple Meaning Pack is my Favorite! I love that I used real pictures with it so that the kiddos can have real life connections with them. Yes there is clip art on the main page but once you look inside, you'll love it too.


My husband and I met when I was a waitress at a karaoke bar (my night job while still about tired). He was a tattoo artist at the shop in front of the bar. We were friends for 3 years. Started dating in the summer of 2008 and got married in March of 2009. I have 5 tattoos that he did before quitting.

So if you haven't linked up yet - and I'm sure you all have because there are TONS of peeps over there - Click the pic below to go see who else has linked up!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 Classroom Reveal

Almost 2 weeks ago I posted this photo of my classroom on Facebook.

I moved to a new school this year. My room looked a lot smaller than my old one, but after coming up with a plan, things finally came together and it feels bigger now.

I loved the comments I got, especially about the t.v. cart! Yes, I had a flashback to 1995 when we first got those in our room with a computer underneath and we thought they were the coolest thing EVER! Well, that t.v. is gone. It didn't have a computer on it otherwise I would have kept it. 

Also, my new school is very strict with the Fire Marshall code. Only 20% of the wall should be covered. So it may still seem kind of bare, but I was able to bring some color to it to make it feel inviting.

So here we go.
 This is the entry view of my classroom. My tables are in a U shape with the white board in front. I've done U shapes before, but they don't usually last long so we'll see what happens this year.

 This is the board at the front. The monkeys are on clothespins and I plan to put student work here. The cart underneath will house the listening center. The white board in the middle was not there at first. I got this from my grandfather in law and my husband came and put it up for me. I prefer white boards over chalkboards. The chalkboard at the end will hold our Objectives and Standards for the day/week.

 These are on each table for supplies. I put a sight word at each table and call the table by that sight word. When I change it out the words go on the Word Wall.

 This is my calendar wall. I'm having to revert from my Smart Board and it's kiiiind of killing me, but not really. After my writing training this summer, I learned that now, more than ever, writing in front of the kids is very important and a great way for them to learn the mechanics of writing. Calendar is one way to do that, along with Morning Messages.

 This is a rolling chart cart. It may stay here, it may not. My Secret Stories are at eye level with the kids so when we talk about one or a secret comes up in conversation, I can get to it easier to talk about it. On the cart is a story map that I like to use each week with our new stories. This is also the wall that my projector will go on. Yes, I do have a projector, so I'm not completely without technology.

This is one of my shelves that I love! These are all of my books that have a beanie or character to go with them. I plan to use these for Read to Someone before letting my students read to each other.

 This is the back wall that I turned in to my Literacy Wall. On the left, there is my writing area. I will show a close up in a minute. The middle has my word wall and the right has Reading Strategies. Underneath the board, are my books for my library. I did my system a little bit differently this year. And my small group table.

 Here are the Reading Strategies...I'm missing Tryin' Lion. I can't find him after my move and haven't bought a new one yet. If you'll look at the boxes underneath, they each have a number label and each book is tagged with that number. This way, when kids choose their books for D5, they'll be able to put them up on their own.

 My writing board...look familiar?  It's from A Cupcake for the Teacher. I plan on using the space underneath to add either student samples or more lists as we go over them.

This is my desk area. I may change a few things with it, but not sure yet. I need to respray my toolbox. The red does not match the blue and green. I've not had a desk for the past 2 years but I couldn't get rid of it. Oh well =)

So, that's the tour. I did the best I could. There still may be some things added here and there. But that's all for now =)

Here are some of the products I used.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Kindergartners can be Authors Too!

I thought about posting this Monday and taking a break this weekend, but I've been on a roll and Mason has been sleeping/napping well today so I have time to write now!

This is my last post with the Emergent Writing. I plan on taking pictures and posting more once the school year starts (which is one week away for me! Yikes!). I really want to be a better blogger this year. We'll see how it goes =)

As I have admitted, writing is my weakest subject. In my 13 years of teaching K, I have never felt that I do it justice. I have some decent writers at the end of the year, but I'm sure I could have more if I buckled down and stuck to a plan.

I am a huge advocate for Daily Five and I read the 2nd edition earlier this summer. When I saw the big change in its order of introduction, I knew I would have to change some things in my room.
The big change was that Read to Self was first as usual, but Work on Writing was now the second area to teach!


I usually start teaching writing after the 1st grading period. This way students have been gaining knowledge with alphabetic principle, phonics and learning sight words. So now, I need to bump everything up to the 2nd & 3rd week of school.

This is great though, because with what I've learned about Emergent Writing, students SHOULD be writing from the very beginning! So why not teach writing from the very beginning!

While teaching your kiddos about Read to Self, you can also begin mini-lessons with writing. If you've done D5 before, you know that the first few tries to build stamina do not last long. So this leaves plenty of time to do mini-lessons with your Literacy lessons and Writing lessons. 

After completing the Picture Task (where I take a picture of them and have them write about it) and assessing students writing abilities, I will be able to see where my main lesson needs to start and what I need to work on when we start breaking in to small groups.
The first thing I want to teach them is how to use the journals in the play areas. After that they I will go into more of a workshop type of lesson. 

This year, for my workshops, I'm going to use lessons from this great new product that
I had the wonderful pleasure of reviewing from my friend Crystal Radke.

Kreative in Kinder
Maybe you've heard of her??
She's pretty amazing and I'm so glad she gave me the opportunity to review her new writing unit!

This 147 page unit has tons of lessons and goes through the step by step process of how Crystal teaches writing in her room. There are even a TON of pictures and examples of just what she's talking about. She suggests starting after the first grading period like what I used to do, but her lessons can easily be adapted to fit into the first few weeks of school.

She explains the following in her unit:
- What is Writer's Workshop
- Time Management (using mini-lessons)
- Starting with Reading (love this because that's what we start with with D5 and she has great pictures for anchor charts to go with this!)
- What is Interactive & Shared Writing? (great for letting the students see you write, like what I talked about with emergent writers)
- Why do Writer's Write? (What is their purpose and what can their message content be?)
- Children are authors too! (Yes!!! Yes!!! Yes!!!)
- Steps in Writers Workshop
-Author Celebrations (sharing their writing with others)
- Utilizing the Writing Center (what do you have/need in your center)
- Writing Resources (different charts and papers to use in your center)

Doesn't this sound/look amazing?!
She also gives quite a few story ideas to help with some lessons. Many are new to me and are already on my Amazon list!

I can't wait to share how my writing lessons go this year. I'm finally excited about writing and I think that's been my whole problem. I've loved teaching my kiddos to read, but have never had a curriculum or unit that has excited me about writing! Now I have a great assessment and a great unit to follow and I hope you do too!

Here are links back to my 3 previous posts or you can search WriteStart.

The Importance of Emergent Writing
Emergent Writing Instruction
Emergent Writing Assessment

Friday, July 18, 2014

Emergent Writing Assessment

The Assessment I'm going to share with you today is by no means a rubric like you are used to seeing. 
Like the 5 Star Rubric, where students get a star for each part of the rubric.

1 for Capital Letter
1 for Punctuation
1 for Finger Spacing
1 for Neat Handwriting
1 for Making Sense

While this is a good rubric to use and one I plan on using through my Workshop lessons, the one I have to share with you goes into GREAT detail with each students writing. 

There are 4 parts to this assessment. While watching your students and their writing processes, you will look at their:
1. Form - what their writing looks like
2. Message Content - what is the meaning behind their writing
3. Intentionality - what is the intent of their writing
4. Directionality - How are they writing

Form and Meaning are the most important of the two. So I will only go into detail about those two. At the end of the post, I will have links to the assessment that describe the Intent and Direction as well. 

Before introducing each, here is the task that we were asked to do that we use this assessment on.
1. Take a picture of each child doing something on the first day of school or have a picture of something familiar to them.
2. Put the picture on a blank sheet of paper with plenty of space on the bottom of the page.
3. Have an example for you to do and show them first. "Do you see this picture of me, what am I doing? I'm going to write, "Mrs. Starnes is reading a book." The sentence you write, must have something to do with the picture.
4. Then show them their picture. Ask them what can they write about their picture. Do your best not to do any prompting.
5. Watch them write. When they are finished, ask them what they wrote. This message will be recorded as their message content. Dr. Rowe wrote their sentence in "adult print" after asking the child's permission to write on their paper. If they did not want her to, she wrote it on a sticky and put it on the back of the paper.

Pretty simple task. Now here's how to assess it.

There are 13 types that are graded from a 0 to 12. Below are two pictures showing examples of all 12 forms. This was the easiest way I could show the examples. Then below I will have a definition of the examples.

For the Assessment you would mark the student with one of the following numbers:

0 - No Marks - This is either because the child does not understand the request (usually ESL) or they refuse to either because they don't know how or because of the risk of failure.

1 - Drawing Only - When asked to write, the student draws only a picture. Where this might seem sophisticated to us, the student did not do what was asked of them.

2 - Undifferentiated Scribbles - This is where the student writes using a back and forth motion with their whole arm. It is one large unit.

3 - Scribble Units - This is different from 2. Students use their wrist instead of arm to make smaller units. These could possibly be "words" depending on the message, which we will discuss next.

4 - Individual Stroke Units - Student move from the units into writing several lines or circles. These are the beginning forms of handwriting.

5 - Personal Manuscript/Personal Cursive - Students move from lines and circles to actually making letter like forms. We know these are not actual letters through watching the student and knowing their understanding of print. Cursive is where they may have seen an older brother/sister writing and are mocking their writing skills.

6 - Conventional Letters plus Inventions - Students are beginning to write letters through handwriting lessons, but are mixing up some of their personal manuscript with it because they are only familiar with a few letters.

7 - Conventional Letters with No Letter/Sound Correspondence - Students are now familiar with several letters and are writing them even though they are not attempting to match them to sounds.

8 - Conventional Letters: Memorized Words - Students are familiar with a few sight words and may include them in writing or are using their resources, such as the word wall, and copying words.

9 - Invented Spelling: First Letter Sound - Students are beginning to take what they know from letter writing and sounds. They are putting these two together and starting what we love to see in kindergarten. They are sounding out words!! 

10 - Invented Spelling (Semi-Phonetic): First/Last Sound - This is honestly where I would LOVE my kids to be. They are getting that first and last sound in the words and are including sight words with actual meaning.

11 - Invented Spellings (Phonetic): Most Sounds Represented - Students are attempting to sound out most of the sounds in a syllable or word. You may see this with some at the end of the year and you should definitely be seeing this in first grade.

12 - Transitional Spellings - Using more spelling patterns, word family patterns and inflectional endings

When you are looking at form, you are just looking at their marks! Do not pay attention to anything else with their writing.


When you look at their message, you are asking them what their writing says. You do not look at the scribbles or the sight words they've written, you listen to their message.

0 - No Message - Child ignores adult questions, refuses to read his/her message, says "I don't know" or mumbles while reading

1 - Message Unrelated to Task - This is where the student reads a message, but it is not related to the photo content or to the writing materials, processes, or functions of the photo caption task. They may say something like, "I love my mommy." or "I went to dance class yesterday."

2 - Message Unrelated to Task:Other conventional message - Student reads message not related to photo or task. Only "standard" messages like "I love you." "ABCD..." and "Names of family/friends not in picture" would score here; otherwise, score as 1.

3 - Global Relation to Writing Materials/Writing Functions/Writing Processes - Students read message and describe their materials, "It is red" referring to the color of the pen they used. Or they describe the function, "I'm taking this home" or "I'll give this to you". Or they describe the processes, "I went around and around" when they scribble around in a circle.

4 - Global Relation to Image - Students message is related to items in the photo, but may not be the expected photo label. Ex. There is a picture of a child on the playground on a bike. You would expect them to say, "I'm riding my bike." Instead they say, "It says my class." There may be classmates in the background so it is about the photo, just not the expected response.

5 - Photo Caption: Word - Student says message as one word. For example, a child is playing with blocks. He scribble/writes something and says, "blocks". That is all. That is related to the task at hand and it's what they are doing. You may see this in ESL children who are still learning words.

6 - Photo Caption: Phrase - Student says message as a phrase (possibly an incomplete sentence). Example: There is a picture of a boy and his younger sibling playing on the playground. He says, "Me and my sister." He is telling you about the picture and who is in it, however it's not a complete sentence.

7 - Photo Caption: Sentence - Student says message as an actual sentence. It corresponds with the picture and makes complete sense! "I am swinging on the swing."

You will more than likely see 5, 6 and 7 more often in kindergarten. The others are usually found at the pre-school level. However, we all know we may have some special friends who won't understand that at the beginning.

For a brief description of all categories, click HERE for the google doc from Dr. Rowe.

There are 2 forms that you can use for the assessment. The first is a score sheet with the examples on it. This is great to use in the beginning, while you are still getting used to using the assessment. Click the pic for the link to download.

Then there is a short form without examples.

Again, you can see all of these documents on Dr. Rowe's Site HERE.

Missed the 1st two posts?
Emergent Writing Importance
Emergent Writing Instruction

Tomorrow we will look at Writer's Workshop and I can't wait to share my friend Crystal's new product with you!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Emergent Writing Instruction

Yesterday, I began a series on Emergent Writing. What is it, what does it look like and why is it so important?

Today, I'm going to go int what Emergent Writing Instruction should look like.
The first one is very simple, yet very challenging in today's classroom.

1. It should be Play-based
What? You mean, my kinders should be writing as a part of their play? Can you really do that?
Sounds simple enough, but when you have rigorous curriculum and not much time for play (outside or inside) how can this be accomplished?

I am a teacher who changes with the times. I dropped my dramatic play centers a long time ago. We either had 30 minutes of recess time outside or I had a few things they could do inside if it was too hot/cold or raining (blocks, painting, puppets, legos, playdoh, puzzles).

I seriously want to bring back some dramatic play just so they can write about it!
Have 2 or 3 journals set up with blank paper for each area and give each place a new name so that it sounds more appropriate for your principal
Blocks/Legos = The Engineering Dept.
Puppets = The Theater Dept.
Housekeeping = The Home Ec. Dept.
Painting/Playdoh = The Art Dept.
Free Writing = The Writing Development Dept.
These are free in my store just for 7/17. They are $1.50 after today! Click HERE to download!

You get the idea.
In each journal, students can write about what they did, what they made, who they played with, etc. They can draw pictures to go with it. 
Give them about 20 minutes of free play or what we like to call "Active Engagement Activities" then 10 minutes to write about it. 

This gives them a chance to write for fun! No pressure of the lesson in writing they learned today, but hopefully taking some knowledge that was taught and applying it to their journal entry.

2. It should be Developmental
In your actual writing lessons, be sure to stay within their ZPD (you remember that acronym from your college days, right? Zone of Proximal Development). That is to challenge them, JUST above their present mastery zone. If you push to hard, you lose them, if you give them just a high enough challenge that they can stand on their tip toes and grasp, you're advancing their development.

3. It should be Cross-curricular
Writing should be addressed with every subject! We know this, but do you do it?
Almost every Friday, we would do a Science Experiment. Guess what we did while experimenting? Wrote or drew our hypothesis then wrote or drew the outcome!
This is from Deanna Jumps Simple Science Volume 1 Click the here for the link

We all should be journaling in math DAILY! It's even a part of the new Daily Three from the 2nd edition "Math Writing". Easy!

Social Studies. Make a map book, do a book about your state, important presidents..etc. etc. I'm really going to have to work on this one because our curriculum just got updated on this one..yikes!

What are teachers talking about during this time?
1. Inviting children to write their own messages
This can be done in your play based learning and cross curricular

2. Accepting and praising emergent writing
Again, praise their scribbles and then praise again when it's moved on to inventive manuscript

3. Inviting children to read their writing
Choose a few daily for author's chair

4. Talking to children about their writing
Confer with them, ask them what their writing about and why they chose to do it

5. Responding to the meaning of their writing
Be EXCITED about their writing to keep them excited too!

What is should our actions be?
1. Plan meaningful writing activities.
These can be done workshop style or in 5-7 minute lessons during Daily Five time.

2. Observe emergent writers.
Actually pay attention to what they are doing and writing. Take notes for your records so that you can see how to help them in their next one on one conference.

3. Scaffold writing in the child's ZPD.
Again, keep lessons developmentally appropriate

4. Demonstrate writing.
This is a BIG one, especially in our technological age. I've been doing Morning Meeting Messages on my Smart Board for the past 2 years. I'm going back to paper this year so they can watch me write! AND I will write the message in front of them! Do not pre-write your message!
Write in your workshops/lessons to show examples.

5. Teach skills in the context of writing.
This is what we do every year. Capital at the beginning, punctuation, sounding out words, forming letters correctly, etc.

When I read over these, I thought some were pretty self explanatory, but I want you to really think about your lessons for writing. How do you prepare and plan? Do you demonstrate writing as much as you can? Do you observe what your students are doing and think about where to lead them next?

Tomorrow I will be introducing the assessment rubric that Dr. Rowe showed us. It will take a look at 4 areas of students writing. I think you will like it. It has really helped me with planning lessons for my kinders.

***All italicized text came from the PowerPoint we used from Dr. Rowe. You can click HERE to read about her research.***