Sunday, July 24, 2011

I'm back!! :)

Wow! It has been a LONG time since I last posted and I am so glad to be back! I was blessed to take a BEAUTIFUL trip to Puerto Rico....mi isla bonita!! I love everything about Puerto Rico- the beaches, the rainforest, Old San Juan, the food, the music and the people that make my beautiful island a tropical paradise!

We had a wonderful week! I am so glad to have had the opportunity to take this vacation with my daughter, mom and baby sister. I hope to go back very, very soon....until then, the memories are going to carry me through many long Fall and Winter school days in Texas.

I have lots and lots to blog about....including my new blog design!! I {LOVE} it so much and have to give a HUGE
thanks to
Tammy Lee at

for an amazingly generous giveaway and the chance to give Curls and a Smile a FABULOUS makeover!!
She has a wonderful kindergarten blog and I think you are going to love it...make sure to check it out
(just click on her button)!

This adorable design is from the super talented

who allowed me to pick my design and even installed it for me! Thank you so much Alicia! You did an awesome job and have beautiful designs! I ABSOLUTELY LOVE it!!

So, I also have somethinng else to add to my list of harmless addictions:
Office supplies

and...drum roll please.....PINTEREST!!
I never realized just how much of a visual learner I am until I began blogging. Pinterest is fabulous because I can see everything that I have pinned very quickly and I don't forget all the ideas that I fall in love with as I surf blog posts and websites. The coolest thing about it is that when you log in, it gives you all sorts of suggestions from the friends that I follow. So, I end up with a TON of amazing new resources to check out!

Come follow me

Check out Michelle's Math in the Middle Linky Party! It is a FAB way to get lots and lots of great suggestions of people to follow and get your started.....happy pinning!!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Book Whisperer Book Study Chapter 4

Reading Freedom

"Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him."
Richard McKenna

IChapter 4 of The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller is enlightening. It so clearly states truths about what all readers do and how to foster a classroom environment that will develop life long readers. Here are some of the most important points that you will want to take away with you:

  • Have an honest discussion about the behaviors of a real reader. Have an open conversation about how readers choose books, steal time to read whenever they can to read and know when to abandon a book when it just isn't a good fit.
  • Create, through open classroom discussion, a reader's bill of rights to validate their habits as readers. Openly share your experiences with abandoning books, skipping pages, rereading and other valuable and key choices as a reader. Ownership of their reading behaviors will validate their choices and open them to a world full of amazing literary opportunity.
  • Getting students to read must include student choice. Even if we think that the books the students are reading simply, well, are not the best choices. We must let them take ownership of their reading choices and know that some reading is ALWAYS better than no reading at all. Validate their choices and encourage diversity in genres by finding connections to their interests.
  • Encourage students to have reading plans but remember to meet students where they are. Encouragement and many, many recommendation with help your readers make plans for their future reading by following favorite authors, reading a series or setting goals to read from a list of awarded books. Good readers have an insatiable need to read, and finishing one book generally feeds the need to start a new one. Most students are use to being told what to read but to truly foster the love of reading, the responsibility must shift to the reader.
  • Set the bar high. Mrs. Miller set the requirement of 40 books per school year with a variety of genres. She wanted to make sure that they read enough to catch the reading bug and by setting the goal a little higher than expected, students knew that they had to read everyday to stay on top of their requirements.  Unanticipated challenges fuel the fire to want to expand their knowledge text but there is also added benefits to adapting to certain genres.
  • Use read alouds to encourage students to branch out into new fields of reading. Exposure is key to growing readers.
  • Build background for different genres of books and encourage the appropriate common language that reader use when discussing books in depth. Use what students already know about the elements of characterization, plot development and setting to classify books and provide a wide selection of books to meet students interests and needs in each genre.
  • Encourage and validate any and all reading that your students and your children do independently.
  • Introduce and use a reader's notebook as a way to facilitate conversation about the reading habits of your students and to monitor growth and progress as a reader. This, paired with individual conferences, will give you insight to their ability to comprehend their reading and where their interests and success lie as they grow into self motivated readers.
 I have truly enjoyed reading The Book Whisperer and know that it has added value to my instruction as a reading teacher. I highly recommend and encourage all of you to add this amazing book to your reading plans.


Friday, July 8, 2011

Target Update!!

First and foremost, I have to say thank you to Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics
for the very generous giveaway!!
I had so much fun in the Dollar Spot with my $15 at Target!!

Here are some of my WONDERFUL finds...

then I went to our local Dollar General and picked up these super cute canisters....
which will be the home of two summer projects!
One of canisters, I will be filling with the craft puffs that I bought at Target and use them as a behavior incentive. I am planning a monster theme, so I was thinking maybe something along the lines of Monster Magic for the label.
The other one will be for the awesome Sight Word Chants from Growing Kinders!

I can't wait to see what I can find on my next Target trip!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I {heart} Books!

A linky party ALL ABOUT BOOKS!! 

I have always loved reading and adore everything that there is about books! I the thrill of finding a new fabulous books to read is phenomenal and I am driving to let my love of reading rub off on my daughter and my kids at school!

So here are some of my favorites! I can't wait to read the other linkies and add to the long list of books I want to read!!

Childhood Books
Some of my favorite childhood books were Amelia Bedelia, Berenstain Bears and Choose Your Own Adventures books. The best part is to see my child or the kiddos in my class and be able to share with them my own memories of reading those beloved books.

Classroom Favorites
There are too many to count!! I love to read as many books as possible and we are so lucky to have so many talented children's book authors. I love to start the year with some of my favorites such as Officer Buckle and Gloria, Hooway for Wodney Wat and The Monsters from Class 7. There are also several holiday books which are favorites every year, my favorite being Martin's Big Words about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr (which I love to pair with The Crayon Box That Could Talk for amazing classroom discussions!)

Read to My Own Beautiful Child
I will read any book that she asks. There is the understanding that reading is important and valued and I made sure that this was instilled in her from a very early age. I read to her from the first day she was born (in the hospital) and playtime always included book time. She also knows that I will probably say no to a new toy but I will ALWAYS say yes to a new book :)

Professional Favorites
These are books that you will most definitely find on my bookshelf for quick reference:
Anything by Debbie Diller 
Strategies That Work
Daily 5
Cafe Book
Continum of Literacy Learning by Fountas and Pinnell
501 Spanish Words for Teachers

Guilty Pleasures
Anything that I can get my hand on! I am huge about reading a book before watching the movie. Right now, I am reading Water for Elephants and Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. But I must say, getting a chance to read a good professional book is on this list too!

Check out 
Runde's Room
and join in on the linky party! 
I know that my list of books is about to get very, very long!

Classroom Helpers and Jobs for Everyone

Classroom jobs are essential to fostering a cooperative classroom environment. The students take ownership of their classroom and it become accountable to each other for their contribution to the class.  In my classroom there are several ways to participate and lend a helping hand. 

At the beginning of the year, I go to the teacher supply store and purchase several sets of small note cards. I place them on binder rings and then place those on a hook with the heading of the job. Each ring has a note card with each students name on a label (much easier than writing out each set of cards). At calendar time, I flip the note cards and assign the jobs accordingly. This system has worked out well because the children generally have a job everyday and the kiddos feel that it is fair. 

Our Classroom Jobs
Line leader-first person in line
Door holder-second person in line
Caboose-last in line
Lunch Kit Monitor- carries the lunch kits to lunch and recess)
Station Manager -help students that aren't sure what to do during literacy stations/change the station chart  at rotation time
Hand Sanitizer Monitor- Gives everyone a squirt before snack and lunch
Teacher Helper (2 students)- helps pass out papers/pick up papers
Calendar Manager- Makes sure that calendar is ready for the day
Pencil Sharpener- Makes sure that their are several sharp pencils for our class
Homework Helper- Checks to see if everyone has their homework and books
Hoovers- Help keep the classroom clean and tidy
Chair Checker- Stacks and unstacks chairs for their classmates

I am also planning to add Zoo Keeper to my long list of jobs so that all my reading buddies can make their way back to their home in our classroom library (Thanks Mel!)

As I have been getting ready for next year, I have come across some really great ideas! This classroom jobs chart was too cute not to share!


Drop by
to joi in on the linky fun!! Thanks Mel!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Top 10 Things About Me

 I love a good linky party and had to join in on the Top Ten List at Go Fourth! With Mrs. Owens . So, here is a little about me:

Top Ten Things to Know About Ms. Morgart

1. I experienced love at first sight when I saw my beautiful daughter for the first time. 
 My greatest reward in  life is being her mother.

2.I have the most wonderful, supportive, amazing family ever!! 

3. I have the sweetest 10 year old puppy in the world!

4. I have been working with children for 16 years. I am 34 and began teaching pre-k in college.

5. I love cooking homemade Puerto Rican food.

6. I am an avid reader.

7. I have natural curly hair (which I have learned to love the older that I get)

8. I love coffee and diet coke....I will have one or the other at all times ;)

9. I love my ipod, kindle, laptop....anything that has to do with technology. 

10. I am addicted to fonts, clip art and blogging!

So much fun! Make sure to stop by and/ or become a follower! I will be posting a couple of updates that I think that you will enjoy! :)

A Special Request....New Behavior Chart

I received a special request to add an orange level to the behavior chart that I posted about a few months ago....and I am happy to help! The original is still posted here but if you would like the new and improved behavior chart, just click on the picture below.

My sweet friend, and AMAZING first year teacher, Alyce will be sharing some pictures with me of a wonderful adaptation of this color chart. It is a portable version that can be shared amongst several people on a team. We are departmentalizing in the primary grades and so need to be able to share how are kiddos are doing in class and I think she did an awesome job! Here is a sneak peek......

She is fabulous and will be sharing pictures with us of how she made this ADORABLE clip board!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July...(and a freebie for spelling)

Happy 4th of July to everyone of my sweet friends out in the blogging word! I hope that you are having a fabulous time celebrating with food, friends and family! 

As a true bloggie, I just couldn't help myself to want to join in on the linky party at Teaching Blog Addict! There are some fabulous ideas and I wanted to share my version of rainbow words. Now, I have been using this for the last couple years but now that I am going to second grade, I will have to tweak these a little (our second graders start with 15 words and develop to twenty words towards the end of the year). This is meant to be copied front to back and can be used on any spelling list you may have :)

If you haven't heard of rainbow words, the kiddos just love them! I have come to learn that crayons or colored pencils work best. The kiddos write each word (with a color of their choice) and then continue to trace over it with the other colors chosen. So when they are done, their words kinda do like a rainbow! It makes spelling practice fun, colorful and independent......gotta love it!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Some of my favorite books for the Fall

I absolutely love a good read aloud! I have some books that I love to read every year, the tried-and-true read alouds that the kiddos just love! Here are a few of my favorites for the beginning of the year:

Great for teaching about rules and laws

Because don't we all feel this way on the first day of school?

The cutest little mouse with the most beautiful and unique name.
You will absolutely fall in love with this little guy!

A sweet book about compassion and kindeness.
(Click here to read more about how I use this with my students)
Wonderful book for teaching about following directions (this is also part of a series that is too cute for words!)

And this year, this little book will be even more special because it will fit right in with our classroom theme (not to mention one of my all time fave books! I read this one often because sometimes little ones need reminders.)

I am also planning to bring in the use of the Not-So-Scary Monster Series in a variety of lessons throughout the first few weeks of school.


Are they not the cutest little monsters EVER?!? These are just a few....

So, what are you reading? I would love to add to my never-long-enough list of books! :)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Organizing First Day of School Supplies

The first day of school can be quite the whirlwind! The best way to survive to tell about that first day each year is to follow the Girl Scout motto and "always be prepared."
A system that as always worked really well for me is the use of clear containers that have lids.
I have one container for each type of supply that I plan to collect and each container is labeled. I line these containers along the front wall of my room. I encourage the students to beginning bringing their supplies to Meet the Teacher (before school begins) so as to try to control some of the craziness that comes with the first day of school. When they arrive, the students and parents are greeted with directions for helping me with supplies. As they eagerly go through their backpacks and shopping bags, they  mark what they have brought to school on their check- in list and then begin sorting the supplies in the bins that I have placed at the front of the room.

It really is that easy :)

When I am ready to leave that afternoon, I put the lids on the containers and place them in the closet with the labels facing out so that I can see them and file their check- in lists. Now, my closet and their supplies are organized and ready. I also know who has brought their supplies, still have supplies missing, and who might need  a little help getting all their supplies before school beginnings.

On the first day of school, I take the containers and repeat the same procedure, except now the kiddos help me out. It has helped me every year and not only does it allow parents and students interact and become more comfortable in the classroom, but when the day is done, my supplies and my closets are organized. We are ready to start the year!!

Here are the updated and cute-i-fied labels and check list just for you! If you would like for me to send you a word document of the checklist, just let me know and I will send it to you ....just in case you need to tweak it a bit :)

This was shared on
One Extra Degree

Really Good Stuff....

Hello, hello!

I just wanted to let you know that voting has opened and you can now vote for your favorite teaching blog!! All you need to do is click on the badge below. You will need to vote for a blog in each one of the categories and include an email before your vote will register with the site.

Curls and a Smile is listed (along with soooooo many other wonderful blogs) and so is Teaching Blog Addict (under specialty blogs). I would really, really appreciate your vote as your favorite k-2 blog!