February 28, 2016

Read Across America- A Peek at My Week ( & FREEBIE!)

Why do the weekends go by so fast? I swear it was Friday 10 minutes ago! I don't normally look forward to Monday but this week I am excited to get back to my classroom and dive in to Read Across America Week! You can learn more about Read Across America Week by clicking here.

This is one of my favorite weeks of the year and one of my favorite units to teach my kids. Every year when we celebrate Dr. Seuss's birthday and Read Across America, I am reminded how important read alouds are and how much my students enjoy them. It's sad that read alouds are often the first to go when we are trying to fit everything else in. Dr. Seuss's stories are the best for read alouds because they are silly, funny and full of tongue twisters. I can still remember my dad reading me Fox in Socks when I was a little girl. He had the whole book memorized by the time I was 5 years old. I used to make him read it over and over again. How many books can we say that about?

Here's a look at what I have planned for my week and what I have done in the past. A few years ago I decided I would focus on one book per day and try to plan activities that were based on each book. This year I am excited to add What Pet Should I Get? to my plans! Have you read it? My Nana and Poppop gave it to my son when he was born and we love it! We read it during bath time because that's the only time he sits still long enough to listen to a Dr. Seuss book. I whipped up a writing response sheet for a shared writing activity on Friday. You can grab it at the bottom of this post!

If you're teaching about Dr. Seuss this week, make sure you check out the Seussville website. There are tons of resources there and lots of interactive activities!   

Happy reading!


I'm kicking off our fun-filled week with The Cat in the Hat. Some say I'm crazy for dressing up like the Cat in the Hat tomorrow, but I really just like an excuse to wear all black. :)

Finger painting fun! We follow up this activity with writing in our journals. "If the Cat in the Hat came to my house, we would...."

Strawberry banana "hats"! This year I might make fruit & yogurt parfaits instead, the kids weren't crazy about the kabobs (go figure)! I saw some cute pictures on Pinterest of layering the berries with vanilla yogurt.


One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

On Tuesday we will complete a class graph! How cute is the blue jello with Swedish Fish inside? We will also discuss the parts of a book cover and make our book cover project. 


This book cover project is super easy! I just print out the cover of the book and have my students cut it up and label the parts: author, title, illustration, award. 


Green Eggs & Ham and Fox in Socks


Every year I show my students my copy of Fox in Socks from when I was a little girl. That "5" written in the upper left hand corner was from my days playing school and library. No surprise there!

My kids go crazy for this simple card game. We play a different version of it during every unit. It's quite simple. Pick a card, read the card, keep the card. If you draw Green Eggs or Ham, you lose all of your cards! I like having multiple versions because my kids are all at different levels. We play with letters, sounds, sight words and nonsense words. 


The Lorax

I know many of you save The Lorax for Earth Day, but I just can't wait. Here's a picture of my DIY Lorax costume! 


The Lorax craft is made from orange paper plates, yellow tissue paper and strips of orange construction paper! All of the supplies can be purchased at Hobby Lobby.


What Pet Should I Get?


Click below to download this freebie!

You can grab most of these activities in my Read Across America unit! 

Here is a preview of what's included:


January 2, 2016

How to Make Fruit & Cheese Kabobs- Writing Freebie!

Happy New Year everyone! Today I'm sharing an activity (and a freebie!) that I will be doing with my class this month as we continue to fine tune our sequencing skills and our how-to writing. I love doing a hands-on activity before we do how-to writing. I have some very concrete learners and it makes a significant difference when they can actually DO what it is that they are writing about. Making any sort of kabob is a good way to practice patterns, sequencing and fine motor skills. For the past three years I have had students with peanut allergies so this is also a great way to use food in the classroom without worrying about nut allergies. I always call home to my allergy parents to make sure they feel comfortable with the activity first. They have always been happy to have their child involved in a safe food activity at school, since those are few and far between for our allergy kids!

Whenever I do a cooking activity with my class, I try to prep all of the materials beforehand. For an activity like this, I suggest divvying up the ingredients onto plates or into bowls so each child has his or her own set of ingredients. Then you also avoid any sticky fingers from contaminating the ingredients. Yuck!

Depending on the level of your kiddos, you can talk about kitchen safety while you prep the ingredients. I always teach the kids about washing produce, knife safety and clean hands.

You can play with the food and make different kabobs to hone in on different skills and modify to match the needs of your class.
Here are some different ways I have used kabobs: 
  • For some learners, the fine motor manipulation of pinching the foods and sliding them on will be the bulk of the activity. 
  • Ask them to make a particular pattern (AB, AAB, ABA, ABC). 
  • Make it a listening and following directions activity. Tell them what order to put them in. After you are done, show them your kabob and see if their kabob matches yours.  
  • Ask students to verbally describe the pattern they made.
  • Ask students to describe someone else's pattern.
  • Have students work with a partner on giving directions and conversational skills. 

I hope your little loves enjoy this activity as much as mine!

To download the freebie, click the image below!

October 1, 2015

Fall Craftivities

Happy October! How does September go by so fast?? I suppose that's a good thing since it's the month I usually block out of my memory each school year. I have a wonderful new group of kiddos this year and I am looking forward to a great year together. This year I have 12 kids (yes, 12!) which is the most I have ever had. I finally have girls this year (woo hoo!) and I have an awesome new aide in my class this year. All in all life is good in our classroom. It's feeling like fall at home now too. This week the temperature has dropped a lot in Buffalo and the leaves are starting to change. Tonight my family and I went to get pumpkins and mums for the porch since it's officially October. My brother is getting married on Saturday so we are hoping for a beautiful October day for them!

Over the next two months our theme in the classroom is apples and pumpkins! We will take a trip to a pumpkin patch and we will have our Apple Investigation Day in a few weeks.

Here is a visual tour of the crafts we will be doing this month. Our October crafts are some of my favorites!

Paint Swatch Monsters
I love these little guys SO MUCH! We made them for the first time last year and they turned out so stinkin' adorable. Yes, Home Depot has a photo of me behind the counter for stealing so many paint swatches. I use foam pieces for the facial features and of course, googly eyes!

3-D Pumpkin Diagram
We make these fun pumpkins when we dissect a pumpkin and learn about the parts of a pumpkin. I got this craft from my sweet friend, Sarah, who moved to another school last year (wahhhh). I miss her and her creativity every day! On the inside of the pumpkin we glue that confetti grass that people use in gift baskets for the pumpkin pulp. 

Thankful Turkeys
As you can see, I wasn't kidding about my paint swatch hoarding problem. I love making these paint swatch turkeys when we start talking about being thankful. At the top of each feather the kids write one thing they are thankful for.

Thankful Pumpkins
This adorable craft came from The Moffatt Girls. It is so easy and looks great on display in the hallway above our cubbies! I always have parents tell me they used it as a centerpiece on Thanksgiving.   

Shape Witches
This craft came from my old teammates and is a fan favorite in kindergarten. Each of the pieces of the witch are different shapes and when it's assembled it looks like she is flying into the wall. The kids get a kick out of it!

September 1, 2015

Teaching Social Skills in an Elementary Class

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may remember that last year I posted photos of my weekly social skill lessons. I got a lot of questions about how I teach social skills so it's about time I addressed it!

Last year I started teaching social skills to my group of kindergarteners and first graders using the skillstreaming approach to social skills instruction. Skillstreaming is a method of instruction that contains four main parts:

1. Modeling
2. Role-playing
3. Performance feedback
4. Generalization

There are entire programs, camps and schools that are based on the skillstreaming model because it is research based and it works! My little version is a compilation of lessons and ideas that work for an elementary classroom with a limited amount of time! I set aside 30-45 minutes on Monday to teach social skills and we practice it all week for approximately 15 minutes per day.

To introduce and model the social skill of the week, my aides and I act out the skill together. Depending on the group, we can use a bit of humor and act out the WRONG way to do something (always gets some laughs!) and then act out the RIGHT way to use the social skill.

After the skill has been modeled, my students get to come up and act out the skill. This takes a bit of practice and modifications for certain students but they LOVE it! We practice role-playing every day that week to secure the skill.

Performance Feedback
After the students role-play, they are given feedback on their performance to show that they followed the steps of the social skill correctly. I give green points (Class Dojo) and a whole lotta enthusiasm to get them pumped up about their performance!

Generalizing the social skill is the whole idea behind teaching social skills! We want our kiddos to go out into the world and USE the skills, so when they can generalize the skill across all areas of their life it means that they have actually learned it. To encourage generalization, I point out that my students used a social skill and provide immediate reinforcement. For example, if a student asks a question appropriately I will say "You get a green point for using a social skill!"

Stay tuned for a YouTube video of me teaching social skills to my students in a few weeks!

Interested in trying social skills in YOUR classroom? You can get my social skills lessons for 30% off TODAY ONLY! 

August 2, 2015

10 Tips for Creating a Useful Classroom Website

Hey everyone! I hope you had a nice weekend. I meant to get this post out this morning but in typical 3 month old baby world, I am just getting around to the finishing touches on it tonight. Can you believe it's August? It's very bittersweet for me. I miss teaching and am excited to go back to work, but I also wish I could stay home with my baby all the time! We have had such a special summer. I went into my classroom this week to get a little bit done and I feel a lot better now. Since I was on maternity leave last year I did not get to pack up my classroom or do my usual end-of-the-year list of things to make my summer easier. I still need to go in and send copies out, get prepped and organized for my new class. At least my classroom is mostly set up now.

Tonight I'm talking about making a classroom website that works! Does your school require a classroom website? Do you get to choose what is on it? In my school we are required to have one but the minimum requirements are pretty minimum, meaning we have lots of room to make it our own. Here is a look at what I feature on my classroom website and how it works for my class and my parents. Since I am a kindergarten and first grade teacher, my classroom website is a tool for parents.

1. Homepage with Important Info At-a-Glance

When you enter my classroom webpage I include all information that a parent may be looking for. Telephone number, email, social media and a link to my "What's New?" page.

2. What's New?

In place of a traditional newsletter, I include the What's New page on my classroom website. It has our text reminders embedded into it, our Instagram photos streaming on it, and a list of upcoming events, themes and important information for parents to know. 

3. Meet Mrs. Hornung

I include a biography of me that helps families to get to know me better!

4. Meet My Team!

My students spend a lot of time with my paraprofessionals. I think it is important for families to be able to contact them and get to know them a little better too.

5. Important Documents

I love having important documents like this on my classroom webpage for anyone to be able to access. When I have families tour my classroom I always direct them to my website so they can read more about the way that I run my program.

6. Academic Information

I post links to curriculum information, our homework and grading policy and tips for parents. I also include suggestions for apps, websites and materials.

7. Classroom Wish List

Enough said!

8. Classroom Job Descriptions

9. Our Favorite Books

After we read theme related books I like to post the most popular ones on our website. I often have parents ask me what books their child enjoyed or if I have suggestions for books. 

10. Frequently Asked Questions

Having a FAQ section is a great way to answer a lot of questions or include a lot of information in one page.