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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Thanks for the Liebster Blog Award

It was wonderful to see that Jenny over at 

Mrs. Futch's Class

has awarded me the Liebster Blog Award:)

I really appreciate this and I look forward to passing on this award.

Here are the details of the award:
The goal of this award is to spotlight up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers. 
The rules are:
{1} Copy and paste the award on your blog.
{2} Thank the giver and link back to them.
3} Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.

So, here are my 5 picks:


Preschool Superstars

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Podcasting in the Kindergarten Classroom

Teachers want to help their students become life-long learners. Part of this task, is showing students that they are their first teacher. When I first asked my class who was their #1 teacher, they all said, "Mrs. Lembke". It is a shock to them to hear that I am not. I decided to use Podcasting as one of the means to showing students how they control their learning.

Each week, the students will be sharing their goals and activities in the classroom with their families. I will be helping the kids with the topics and comments for the first month or so, but I look forward to turning this activity over to them in the future.

I have embedded one of our first Podcasts; how we were preparing for our holiday program.

Please share any ideas for future topics. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Hoppy learning!


Monday, December 12, 2011

New Banner

I was visiting blog land this morning and I realized that I needed to spice up my own blog. The graphics on a teacher blog are very important. It is sort of like a first impression; appealing graphics entice the reader to stay.
I have used Adobe Fireworks before, however my experience is limited. I decided to create a new banner on my own as best I could.
Thanks to everyone who provides inspiration by applying colorful, fun, inviting graphics on their blogs!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunshine Award 2011

Thanks so much to Marlana at Lil' Country Kindergarten for the adding me to her list of blogs.

Rules for accepting this award:
1.  Thank the person who gave this award and write a post!
2.  Answer the questions.
3.  Pass the award to 10-12 fabulous bloggers, link their blogs, and let them know!

What is my....

  • Favorite animal?  Dogs: We have four!

  • Favorite color?  Green: Just check my blog!
  • Favorite number?  26: Our anniversary
  • Favorite drink?  Carbonated Water, Diet Coke
  • Facebook or Twitter?  Facebook
  • Passion?  Family, Friends, and Teaching
  • Giving or getting presents?  Definitely Giving
  • Favorite day?  Friday: Everyone is so happy and excited
  • Favorite flower?  Hydrangeas
It was hard to narrow it down, but here are some of my favs:

      Monday, November 21, 2011

      Fun with ebooks!

      Viewing my Google Reader account each day in the summer months took a lot of time. I found so many wonderful things! It is interesting to see the changes in our blogging habits when the school year starts. I am reading a lot less and posting only once a month. It is a bittersweet change!

      One item that I had found in a previous blog post was a link to Flipsnack. My kindergarten students were just starting a unit on change. We were discussing the past, present, and future. I had a difficult time finding resources. So, we decided to create our own book for this unit. Creating the book in a digital format was a great way to show how times have changed.

      I have heard of the kiddos using iPads to create the illustrations. I wanted to give my kids a little more drawing room, so I had them create the drawings on our SMARTBoard. Each student illustrated a page. We had written the text together as part of our group work. All that was left was to upload the PDF version of the document. 

      We had a great time. I hope you enjoy our ebook and have the opportunity to create one with your group. It is a lot of fun!

      Saturday, October 1, 2011

      Plagiarism in the Elementary Classroom

      I have begun my second masters degree program. I am attending Boise State University and working towards a technology integration masters. My first course has covered various topics, including plagiarism. Being a kindergarten teacher, I have not given much thought to the students' side of this subject. I use clipart that is free for educational purposes and site the resources when necessary. However, students should be taught about plagiarism from an early age.

      Since kindergarten students cannot/should not navigate through the internet on their own, I decided to gear my recent plagiarism topic towards upper elementary age students. I have created a short movie about plagiarism in the classroom. Feel free to view it if you feel it may be of interest to your class.

      This is an important topic, even for young students. Let me know if you have any thoughts or ideas!

      Monday, September 19, 2011

      I Like to Keep Things Simple...Namely Jobs and Centers

      I dislike clutter. This can relate to my house and classroom appearance as well as my schedule. I do not expect that others would feel the same way. To each his/her own!

      One item in my classroom that is 'clutter free' is my job chart...I don't have one! We spend the first month of school learning routines and jobs that need completing each day. Students volunteer for these jobs. They are also rewarded when they complete a job without being asked to do so. If I find that a student has not been volunteering, I will meet with them to discuss why. I have a busy life (as we all do) and feel that letting go of a circulating job chart is one way I can de-clutter my life.

      Another area of my classroom that I keep simple is centers/stations. My center routine is simple: students need to complete one blue-bin activity (there are several in each center) before moving on to a choice activity. In my opinion, centers are practice activities that should give students ownership and choice. By not assigning centers, my students can choose their center based on likes/dislikes as well as learning style and ability. I work with individual students as well as small groups during this time, based on formative assessments and student need. This informal style allows me to evaluate which centers children like and which were not a big hit. I find this feedback from the kids to be very important. If there is an activity of importance that I would like all students to complete, I would do this whole-group or in small groups.

      I have attached a picture of one of my kids with his blue-bin choice for the day (Froggy Football Writing). We complete reading and writing centers in the morning. In the afternoon, we have math and unit (science/social) centers. If a student seems to spend too much time in a particular center, I will find a way to get them to the other center(s). This is where I love student feedback. I ask for feedback weekly.

      So take it or leave it! This is not a scenario for everyone. I like to let go of a few items in my day so that I can make time for others. We all have to keep our sanity!

      Sunday, September 4, 2011

      Backgrounds are up!

      I dislike boring, plain walls. However, I do not want to send the kiddos into overload by filling every available space. So, I decided to make some display backgrounds for one of my walls. I purchased cheap scrapbook paper and added a glitter border. I have heard of people using the cute, new, duct tape as a border but I couldn't find some I liked. I added a post it and laminated the product. The kids' names are written on the post-it section with a dry-erase marker for easy re-using and a small binder clip is at the top to clip in student work. Easy peasy!

      Friday, August 26, 2011

      TGIF: Free for All Friday!

      I can't believe the end of teacher week is here! I am posting my 'Building Block Words' activity for free today. It is a Notebook file that allows children to build words out of 'lego' type pieces. You can find this activity and many more at my TpT store. Enjoy:)

      Wednesday, August 24, 2011

      Where it all Goes Down Wednesday!

      Here is my third post from the link party over at Blog Hoppin'. 


      Here is a quick look at my classroom. I can't wait to start looking at everyone's ideas. 
      Touring rooms is one of my favorite things to do on blogs! 

      Now I will be heading over to Blog Hoppin' to check out some classroom pics! 

      Tuesday, August 23, 2011

      Teacher Talk Tuesday

      1. Don't forget why you became a teacher in the first place. When topics of standards, funding, and testing start to wear you down just take a break. Have a little playtime with your kiddos!

      2. Prioritize: This will probably be on a lot of lists today. You have to be ready to put some things off. I like to keep a file (on my iPad with Evernote) of ideas or to do items. It can be refreshing to know that ideas are still there and you will get to them eventually. 

      3. Practice, practice, practice! Kids need those routines. It not only helps them, but helps other teachers who will be with your kids. Practice those basics to song to make them more fun. 

      4. Ask for help: I have asked my colleagues for help and built some good relationships because of my willingness to ask. Everyone has their strong areas of expertise and their not so strong. I know mine. This brings me to number five...

      5. Know you limits. It is okay to not know everything and use resources. 

      6. Keep the positive relationships in your building strong: Do not get involved in gossip or negative ideas. Surround yourself with positive people and show others that you are a positive person. 

      7. Things will not always workout and schedules will change. Show your students that you are flexible to help build their sense of security with change. 

      8. Family comes first: Don't forget to keep your home time your own. 

      9. Keep up with new ideas through blogs, websites, forums, and courses. Never stop learning!

      10. When anything starts to stress you and get your down, I find the best medicine is to play a game in the classroom. The kids cheer me up right away! 

      Monday, August 22, 2011

      Meet the Teacher Monday!

      Thanks to I'mBlogHoppin for hosting a great linky party! I hope to participate all week:)

      Tell us a little something about you...

      My name is Randi Lembke and I began professional blogging this summer at HoppyKindergarten. I am a kindergarten teacher in Barnum, Minnesota (near Duluth). My husband, Evan, is also a teacher. We have been together for eleven years and have two awesome children. Annabel is 9 and Gus is 6. We also have four dogs and two cats that keep our home life busy...but we love it! 

      How long have you been teaching?

      This is my eleventh year teaching; and my eleventh year teaching kindergarten. It was my first job and I was so grateful for the opportunity to be in K. I fell in love with the kindergarten classroom while student teaching. I had the most amazing supervising teacher and I realized that kindergarten is a place where real learning is valued. The five and six year olds in my classroom keep it simple. What could be better than that?!

      You might not know...

      I not only love teaching in a classroom, I love learning in a classroom. I am going back for my second masters degree this Fall. My Boise State program focus is integrating technology and I am really pumped to get going. 

      What are you looking most forward to this school year?

      I am excited to meet a group of students who are new to the full-day/every-day experience. The parents and students are always surprised to see how fun and worth-while the experience can be. 

      What do you need to improve?

      I will be focusing more on differentiated instruction this year. I do a good job of providing materials for students who are below the benchmarks. However, I do not always have the best materials for those who are well above the benchmarks. I need to provide an education that is fun and leveled for all students. 

      What teaching supplies can you *not* live without?

      Honestly, the only thing that is an essential part of my classroom is technology in general. My computer, Smartboard, iPads, LeapPens, and MP3 players are a must. I cannot imagine the day without them! 

      Thursday, August 18, 2011

      Math maps and vocab!

      Sorry for the lack of posts the last week, but I have been busy with trainings and workshops. Today I am at a math workshop mapping math vocabulary. It has proven to be a useful day. Today I am thankful for My iPad and it's fabulous apps!

      I am using my iPad to view google docs files with Connect

      Share notes with my home and school computers with Evernote

      And of course Blogging with Blog Press

      (sorry for the odd pics, I am in a rush)!

      Share any apps you love if you have the time!


      Monday, August 8, 2011

      Thank you Pinterest!

       Such a simple idea but it looks so nice when completed! Thanks to Pinterest for all the idea sharing that makes our classrooms look so appealing with so little effort. For $5 I have a nice file bin for my student portfolios. It looks way better than my gray file crate! 

      Thursday, August 4, 2011

      Wow, KinderCamp was a blast!

      We have finished our three-day KinderCamp in Barnum, Minnesota. The children come in for two hours each day for some time in the classroom. Our main goal is to have children as comfortable with the teachers and our school as possible before the first day of school. Things went great! If anyone wants to share about any pre-kindergarten, summer activities, please do so! Here is the sign we made to put outside the school for KinderCamp. 

      Tuesday, August 2, 2011

      Ice Cream Games!

      I found the cutest ice cream bowls and spoons at the dollar tree. I had to create an activity for these cute dollar finds! I will be posting Ice Cream Practice Pages at my TpT store as soon as the site is up and running again. There are pages for colors, letters, numbers, and quick words. Stop by and check it out! 

      Monday, August 1, 2011

      Story Map Headers

      I have seen a lot of great resources and ideas regarding story maps. I have been trying to think of a way to present maps in my classroom, year round. In other words, I want the map to be a permanent part of my reading center so it is used often. I have a white board in my reading center, so I have created some story map headers that can be laminated, attached to magnet strips, and kept on the whiteboard. I will either write the children's thoughts with a marker, or attach sticky notes. Use the headers if you like:)

      Saturday, July 30, 2011

      Yeah, My Vista Order Arrived!!!

      It is like Christmas morning:) My Vista order has arrived and I love it! Here is what I ordered...

      I love my new banner to hang above my doorway as well as the stamps for marking books. 

      Return address labels...cute design:)

      Here are my invitations to mail to my kiddos for open house and first-day conferences.

      These are the postcards I created for the postcard exchange I have joined. 

      I created magnets and business cards so parents have quick access to my contact information. 

      A great order! I will have to control myself and not do it again too soon!

      Friday, July 29, 2011

      My Daily Schedule...For Now

      I did some major restructuring of my daily schedule last school year. I found myself keeping all curricular areas separate for their time on the schedule. Personally, I like to see more of an integrated approach. So, I switched my schedule into a two-part block. We have a morning block and an afternoon block. Each block consists of a meeting (where I teach a new skill), centers (where students practice skills and have choice), and a wrap-up (where we bring that part of the day to a close and refine our skills). My main focus in the morning is reading, while my main focus in the afternoon is math and science. However, having only two blocks, I am forced to integrate all curricular areas to make things work. I also work with small, flexible groups during the center times.

      Take a look at my schedule, if you like. The activity labels match my daily schedule chart that is hanging in our meeting area. Please note that it is prepared for a substitute teacher to be able to take over my class, so things are quite detailed:)

      Wednesday, July 27, 2011

      It's the little things that make great ideas!

      I had purchased the magazine/file bins for $1 at Target. I love them, but I had a dilemma; I didn't want to tape labels to them and ruin the bins. I will be using them for students' journals, books, and leveled readers. So, I hot glued mini clothes pins to the back and will be putting frog name tags on those. Problem solved!

      Monday, July 25, 2011

      A TpT Store Giveaway! Hurry, it is only for 24 hours:)

      I have reached 50 followers and would like to thank all those who have helped me in the blogging community with a giveaway. This giveaway is for anyone and everyone!

      Please pay a visit to my TpT store. Feel free to find an item that you would like and send me an email of your choice (Email).  I will email your item ASAP for free!

      In exchange could you please...

      Blog about my giveaway:

      and follow my TpT store:

      Then just send me an email with your item choice. This giveaway is running for 24 hours (giveaway expires at 12:00 PM on July 26th).

      Here is a preview of some of my items:

      Building Block Words is a SmartNotebook game that allows CVC word building practice.

      Color Frogs and Flies allows children to practice colors while using a sensory table.  

      Froggy Football Writing can be laminated and used as a writing board. There are game pieces as well. 

      Pirate Word Families utilizes movement. Children sail the words to the X. They can take treasure pieces as they work and use the map if they need assistance. 

      Woodland Noun Sort allows children to sort nouns by person, place, animal, or object. If you would like different categories, please note that in your email. 

      The Verb Railroad allows children to use their verbs/action words to move pieces of the train across the room. 

      I hope you can find something you like. Thanks to all for the help over the last week!