Saturday, April 29, 2017

Getting Ready For The End of The Year

It's As Easy As 1, 2, 3 (or maybe 4):

1) Make A "Good-bye" Gift: 

(And a FREEBIE poem!)

My Crayon Candle & poem project is an awesome gift your students can easily make to give to their parents.  There is even a version of the poem for any children who might not be graduating. And the best part is that this is a FREE download!
Click the image above.

All you have to do is let the children break and unwrap their fat primary crayons and drop them into a glass baby food jar. Remember to label the bottoms of the jars with their names. I like to do this with masking tape because it is sometimes hard to read the names when this project is done, even if you use a dark colored Sharpie. 
Click the image above. 

After the kids fill their jar with crayons, slide a birthday candle into the center of each jar. This is a lot less expensive than buying candle wicks. It might take a little wiggling, but you can get the candles in. 

Last, after school, melt some paraffin wax and pour some into each jar. I like to use my home-hand wax machine. It melts the wax and I can easily ladle it into each jar. Let them sit overnight to cool.

I like to roll up this poem and tie it to each candle. My students gave these to their parents at the end of their graduation ceremony.

You can grab this FREE poem by 

2) Perform a Cute Song: 

For your parents or just for the school. This song can be sung to the tune of "It's a Small World".

Just print and glue to construction paper (12" X 18") to create a big book that you can use to teach your Littles this cute song
Click the image.

It is sung to the tune of "It's A Small World" which you can download (an instrumental version) from iTunes.  
Click the image.

I like to bind my big books at the bottom (landscape style) so all I have to do is push the current page down with my thumb and let gravity allow the page to drop, exposing the next page. Then, I'm not fiddling with turning pages while the children are singing. :)
Click the image.

You can grab this song by

3) Dazzle your class with a cute End of the Year certificate:

Click the image.
Check out these fun end-of-the-year certificates. These CUTE graduation certificates are Ready-to-Print for Pre-school, Pre-Kindergarten, Transitional Kindergarten (TK), and Kindergarten.

You even get a blank copy so you can fill in any special program you might have. 
Click the image.

You can grab your copy by


Perfect to serve at your celebration!
My students LOVED these!

Just cut bananas in half, cut a slit for the grape, add grapes and you're done!

I hope you like these fun ideas. 
Do YOU have any cute ideas that you do with your class? 
Share your End of the Year ideas below for our readers! 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Is "Play" Alive and Well in Your Kindergarten Classroom?

Are your students allowed to play in your classroom?

Communicate the Importance of "Play" with these cute & colorful signs:
Click the image.

These classroom center signs are perfect to justify the importance of play and to communicate the skills your students are learning at each center. 
And best of all, they are on sale right now for only $2.00!


I created 10 center signs with "Top of the Class" graphics by DJ InkersYou will fall in love with this adorable set of graphics! In fact, I'm giving a set away!
Click the image.

You can enter to win the entire set of 650 darling clip art images including school supplies, borders, award certificates, bookmarks, sayings, and a star alphabet. And, it includes a cute font, a school time scrapbook set, and lined writing templates!
This is just a sample.
To see more, Click the image. 

And... did you hear about:
DJ Inkers is so exited to celebrate 
Teacher Appreciation Week with YOU!
The fun begins on 
April 27 
with fabulous teacher FREEBIES 
and incredible SALES 
all week long!
You'll find adorable classroom clip art,
fabulous fonts, educational printable, and smiles...
ALL ON SALE for the celebration!

Tip #1:  {Click here to sign-up for their email list, so you won’t miss a thing!} 

Tip #2:  {Copy & paste this reminder to your iCalendar} 
(or write it with a pen on an old-school paper calendar):

Enter to Win:

You can win your own set of DJ Inkers' "Top of the Class" by entering below. 
The Rafflecopter will run from 12:00 AM on 4/20/17 - 4/27/17.
The winner will be announced on 4/28/17 on KFUNdamentals' blog and on KFUNdamentals' Facebook page

Thank you for entering this raffle.
The winner was 
Lori Olson.
Congratulations, Lori!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, April 10, 2017

Today, April 10, is the LAST DAY TO...

... 1.) enter the ESGI Pot of Gold drawing,

2.) get your extended FREE trial & a $40 discount on your 1st year of ESGI, 

3.) read the answers to your questions about teaching writing in kindergarten!


Here are the last questions & answers from my March 29 Webinar:

Emily, from Strasburg, Virginia stated: I love the shape books! Perfect for my Pre-K kiddos!

Thank you, Emily! I LoVe the Shape Writing templates too. 

My students come up with all kinds of creative ideas to answer the questions, "What is a circle?" or "What is a triangle?", etc. 
One child wrote, "A circle is a pancake."
Another child wrote, "A triangle is a Dorito." 
These made the cutest class books too. 
You can grab the entire set by CLICKING HERE.
Click the image above.

Or... you can get my Shape Writing as part of my 7 writing set flash drive which includes 71 templates for teaching writing! I'm offering the flash drive for $25 which includes FREE shipping. Just email me at and I will send you one. 
Here are some samples from the entire set:

Anika, from Las Vegas, Nevada asked: How do you get kinders to use sentence starters?

I meet with a homogeneous group of five students at a horseshoe table. This enables me to differentiate my techniques with each group and I might even differentiate within one group: 
1.) I read the sentence starter and we brainstorm ideas about how to complete the sentence. 
2.) I ask the students to trace the dotted sentence starter and illustrate their response on the blank area of their writing template.
3.) While they are tracing and illustrating, I begin by asking the first child how they want to complete the sentence starter. Depending on the level of the group, I either write it from their dictation with a wide-tip highlighter right on their template so they can trace over it, or I write it with a fine-tip marker on a lined Post-it (or with a dry-erase pen on my lined dry-erase mats) for the student to copy, or I help the student to sound/blend the words they have chosen and I might write the first letter of each work on their template so all they have to do is complete each word. Then, I move on to the next child and repeat the process.
4.) As children finish, I might ask them to add details to their illustration or share their writing with a partner until everyone in the small group is done. Then, we share our writing and illustrations with the entire small group.

Billi, from Robeline, Louisianna asked: I see tracing dots on the page.  Is this for the beginning of the year?  I will be looking on the blog for the answer. How long will the sign up be available? Are your assessments available to everyone?

Tracing dots are great for the beginning of the year, but some students need them as the year continues and I liked using them all year long with most of my students. I created enough to last you throughout the school year. You can always use the same writing prompt verbally and have your students respond on paper that does not have the prompt written in a dotted font.
The ESGI sign up is always available (for a 60 day free trial and $40 off of your 1st year if you use my code: KFUN), but 
You can sign up for FREE 
(You won't have to enter a credit card #.)
Yes, the assessments I wrote for ESGI are available for everyone who signs up for the free trial. They also have over 700 other assessments you may access too. 

Kayla, from Hazard, Kentucky asked: I’d like to know if she uses a specific writing program or if she uses this as her writing program/curriculum? Thanks!

No, I used my Instant Writing, Month-to-Month Writing, and all of the other templates offered in the bundle above framed with the red polk-a-dot frames. 

Lora, from Leitchfield, Kentucky stated: I have the same question about having them sound out the words...

I think the question was, "When do you expect them to sound out the words instead of just copying what you wrote from their dictation?"
It depends on the child and whether or not they are developmentally ready to encode. It is important to establish a foundation which includes verbally expressing a complete sentence, tracing or copying a complete sentence, and attempting to sound/blend parts of a complete sentence so we don't overwhelm them with too much at once. My students rapidly picked up on sound/blending and encoding when I would write the first letter of each of their dictated words on their paper. This also reinforced how to leave spaces between their words. They were able to stay focused on their sentence and they didn't forget how they meant to end their sentence because they had the first letter of each word to help remind them of what they were trying to write. 

A Shout Out:

I also wanted to include a "shout out" to 3 of my webinar attendees. I recognized three names: 
LeAnna Wolkis Goldstein 
Kaye Johnston
Faye Johnston
LeAnna is a fabulous presenter with SDE (Staff Development for Educators). If you ever get a chance to see her, do! She has so many great ideas and she is the sweetest person you will ever meet!
Kaye and Faye Johnston also work for SDE as event coordinators. You can find them at many SDE events and they will also be at "I Teach K!" in Las Vegas this July. They are both amazing and they really know how to run a wonderful conference! 

If you want more information about attending the best conference EVER, check out:

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Did I Answer YOUR Question?

Wow, so many teachers watched & asked questions. Have I answered yours yet?

Here are a few more:

Denise, from Tucson, AZ asked -where did you get that awesome mailbox? 

It's made by Melissa & Doug, but I found it at a garage sale. Before finding it, the students just clipped the mail they wanted to send to the center sign and the "Special Person of the Day" got to deliver the mail to the cubbies at the end of the day. 

Click on the mailbox.

Shanda, from Owasso, Oklahoma asked -I am loving all the templates. Is there a package that includes all of them instead of purchasing each?

Yes! I have bundled all 7 sets and I'm offering them on a flash drive along with FREE SHIPPING for $25. That's a huge savings! Just email me: and let me know if you want one and I'll ship it out right away! 
The bundle includes 71 templates: 

Karyn, from Portsmouth, NH asked -Can we share this webinar with others after the broadcast?

Yes, you should have gotten a link to the recorded webinar. I am also available to come to your school or school district to present a workshop for your teachers. For more information, just email me at:

Danielle, from Sacramento, CA asked -How do you cut the pencils?

I take them home and use a hacksaw. It looks like this:
Heather, from Clarkson, Kentucky asked ...such great ideas! Love to see how to extend this to my higher level first graders!

You can extend by having them add adjectives and by adding more detail to each sentence. You can also have them add additional detail sentences below their topic sentence to support their topic. They will need more room to write. 

Caitlin, from Sacramento, CA asked -At what point in the year do you let them sound out words on their own?

That depends on each individual child. If a child is capable of sound/blending at the beginning of the year, that's great! I would make sure that they can compose a complete simple sentence and then I would build on that and have them compose a compound sentence. After that, I would begin working on composing a topic sentence and then we would slowly add detail sentences to support the topic. I would do this over several days so they are writing one sentence per day. 
If a child enters K without any letter/sound recognitions, my hope would be that by this time of the year (April) they could write one simple sentence using inventive spelling. If you build a strong foundation with activities such as the one used in my Instant Writing or Month-to-Month Writing, they should be well on their way by this time of year. 

Rosalind, from Williamsburg, Virginia asked -What are the other children doing when you are working with a small group of writers?

This is the locket.They glue the letters of the sight word inside the locket.
That's a GREAT question! While I'm working with one small group, the other students are at their tables working on an independent activity like creating a sight word pocket watch or locket (from my Pocket Locket set). 

This is the pocket watch.The clock face is inside.

CLICK HERE to grab a set of 
Pocket Lockets. 

Or they are drawing and labeling 3 things that begin with a letter we are working on (from my Alphabet Dictionary Page set).
Students draw and label by using the cards below.

Students use these cards to draw and label the template above this one.

You can grab a set of Alphabet Dictionary Pages and cards for each letter by CLICKING HERE.

Or they are tracing, with a marking pen, the uppercase and lowercase focus letters of the day on my Alphabet Chants. 
You get 2 on a page so they are easy to copy and cut.
You can grab a set of Alphabet Chants by CLICKING HERE.

Or they can be creating an Onset Rime Wheel (not rhyme):
Click the flower.

Or you can have your students working at the tables on math:  

You can grab the entire set of number activities for the numbers 1-10 by CLICKING HERE

As students finish their independent work, they move to a center of their choice. When I'm ready to meet with their homogeneous group, I pull them away from either their independent work or their center to meet with me. 

Erica, from Joplin, MO asked -I would like to know how you move your K's from copying/finishing sentence stems to doing their own authentic writing.

I do move students from copying/finishing sentence stems to creating their own authentic writing in small homogeneous groups. At the first sitting, we illustrate the parts of a story we wish to re-tell. I use a red circle for the characters, a green triangle for the setting, and a blue rectangle divided into 
4 parts for the sequence of events from the story. I also have them attempt to label their illustrations. All of these shapes are made from sheets of 9"X12" construction paper. 

At the 2nd sitting, I have them briefly re-tell their story using their illustrations as prompting and support. . We start by establishing the characters and setting. Each child tells me a sentence that includes the main character(s) and the setting like, "Once there was a farmer's wife who made a gingerbread man cookie. (They don't need to name all of the characters.)  They use their circle and triangle graphic organizers for this sentence. 
On the next day, they create a sentence about the beginning of the story. Next, they compose sentences for two more events in sequence and one more sentence from the end of the story. You can do these 4 sentences over two days. 

Students may use a familiar story to re-tell, an actual story about something they experienced, or a fictional story. And since I'm working with only five students at a time, I can help them with sound/blending as well as any other skills I want to reinforce. 

Rebecca, from King of Prussia, Pennsylvania asked -Do you recommend kid writing or give them correct spelling?

It depends on the lesson. During daily journal time, I just want them to get their thoughts down on paper. They may draw, label, and attempt to write using their "kid writing" or inventive spelling. I use any teachable moment I can while I'm quickly going over their work with the built-in simple rubric to reinforce skills and talk a bit about spelling. I want to encourage risk taking and having them stretch to learn new words rather than encourage ultra simple writing like, "I like my mom." So I encourage, and I correct privately.

Theresa, from Pleasant Pride, WI asked -So you would introduce writing by having them copy versus having them sound out words independently first?

Yes, but at the very beginning, I would have my students "drite" (which is drawing and writing) on unlined paper. I would then have them tell me what they were trying to write.  
Then, after I modeled writing a simple sentence, I would give them a template where they can trace most of the words and then copy only one word (usually the last word). The FREEBIE set of 20 writing templates you got from the webinar has lots of opportunities to practice this. 
Later, they would copy a short sentence from a chart, the SMART board, or even from a sentence strip.
After that, they would trace or copy the beginning of a sentence and attempt to sound/blend and write the missing word (usually the last word) before attempting to correctly write a sentence on their own. The 20 FREEBIE templates are great for tracing and filling in the blanks by sound/blending too. 
If you missed the webinar and want the set of 20 writing templates, CLICK HERE

Lynn from Moline, Illinois asked -What is developmentally appropriate for K students to be writing at the end of the year?  A few words, a few sentences . . ?

By the end of the year, most K students should be able to write a complete sentence. Some districts require that they also be able to write a 3-4 sentence paragraph. In that case, I would split it up over a 3-4 day period where they write one great sentence each day. They are only five years old and the challenge of writing their letters correctly, spelling words, leaving spaces between the words, including punctuation, and gathering their thoughts and getting them on paper can be just too overwhelming for a child who has only been on this planet for five years. I think if they are able to compose one complete sentence correctly, we have given them a wonderful foundation for entering first grade. 

Julie, from Lynchburg, Virginia asked -Do you write what the kid said they wrote under their writing?

I do write what the child said under their writing on a writing assessment and on their daily journals so that when I show the parents, we all understand what the child was thinking and attempting to write. I also send their journals home, so their parents will be able to read their journals if I wrote the real words below their writing. It also gives the child a model of the correct spelling. Of course, this is done in a friendly, non-intimidating way. I might say, “Let me show you how to spell this funny word. It has letters in in that don’t even make any sounds.”

Laura, from Huston, Texas asked -We are writing persuasive papers/letters now, what would be a good way to explain the process to kinder?

Persuasive writing can be approached by teaching children how to write a topic sentence and then adding three detail sentences to support the topic. If the topic contains the persuasive idea, the supporting sentences should give the reasons to support that idea.
You can create all kinds of introductions such as:
~What would you like to get for your birthday? Give me 3 reasons why you want a ___________ for your birthday.
~Where would you like to go on vacation? Tell me 3 reasons why your family should take your there. 
~Which is your favorite game to play? Tell me 3 reasons why I would like that game too. 
~Would you like to change a school rule? Tell me three reasons why we should change that rule.

They can write a persuasive letter to Santa, The Easter Bunny, their parents, the school principal, etc. 

Becky, from Lowville, NY asked -Great ideas!! Would love to know how to start jumping in with this now. ??

Jump in with writing by using my Instant Writing. Students will  learn how to compose a complete sentence without having to be able to sound/blend and encode. You can find that set by CLICKING HERE

Jump in with ESGI this Spring by assessing your students on your Power Standards (the most important skills needed to move on to the next grade such as letter names, letter sounds, sight words, and writing a complete simple sentence). You can use the built-in tests or create your own with ESGI's test builder. Or... play around with your FREE TRIAL through Aug. 31 and customize your test dock with all of your school's specific tests so you are ready to begin the new school year with the BEST assessment tool you will EVER use! Trust me, you will LoVe it! Remember, to have your 60 day free trial upgraded to run through Aug. 31, and get the $40 off plus an entry in the ESGI Pot of Gold drawing, you must sign up by April 10.  So, CLICK HERE to get started. 

I'll post more answers in a few days. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Only 3 Days Left To Grab Your 5 Month Trial, ESGI Discount Code, & Enter To Win Their Pot of Gold!

And I have even more questions to answer about writing in K:

But first, here is the link to get your 5 month free trial, ESGI discount code for $40 off of your first year, AND get entered in their Pot of Gold drawing!  

Now, for a little Q & A:
Donna, from Milwaukee, Wisconsin stated -Mine isn't so much a question as it is a frustration in trying to fit in into my schedule.
I get it, that’s why integration is the key to success. So, while you are teaching science, such as “Sink & Float”, I would include a writing prompt such as the one below. Here, students illustrate something that sinks and something that floats and they complete the sentences. And there are lots of other writing prompts that integrate curriculum in the set from the webinar that is pictured below this sample.

And, students can write about national symbols, (social studies), about an addition or subtraction sentence (math), or even about the weather (science).
Click the image to grab this set. 

Kristin, from San Francisco, California asked -How do I get them to write independently? How do I move them through each stage of their writing?
Model, make it super easy so they are successful, and then celebrate them!
Model writing every day in a whole group setting.

Make it super easy by having them glue framed words onto paper to create a sentence, have them copy your sentence, or use my Instant Writing to make composing sentence easy and FUN.

Click the image to grab this Instant Writing set. 

Celebrate them by allowing them to share their writing in a small group (and later in a whole group) setting where the audience finds one thing they liked or enjoyed about their writing. 
I used the Writers’ Workshop model to teach writing one day each week and we practiced writing the other four days for about 25 min each day. 
If you want students to write independently, they must enjoy it. So, after using my Instant Writing lessons for about 6 days, I set it up as a center and students loved going to that center to write independently. 

As far as writing independently during a whole group writing lesson, once they have moved from copying my sentence or copying most of my sentence and completing it with their own words, I made sure that there was lots of help available for them in the form of sight word charts, a word wall, and “students you can ask for help” if needed. 

In terms of moving them through the stages of writing, I used ESGI to record where each child was based on the criteria I chose while creating my own custom test. Then, all I had to do was refer to the data to see which students need specific skills and I met with them in small groups to address the needed skills. 
Click the image to get the ESGI discount code.

Brittany, from Las Vegas, Nevada asked -How do I get a certificate of completion for these webinars?  I attended one prior and didn't get anything to use for my eval.
ESGI will email you your certificate within 1 week of the webinar, so you should get it via email by Wednesday, April 5. As for the prior webinar, contact ESGI and, if you registered for that webinar, they should have a record of it and they will take care of you. You can reach them through their website at and while you are there, register for your FREE 60 day trial which will be upgraded within a week to a 5 month FREE trial, you will qualify for $40 off your 1st year, and get an entry in their Pot of Gold drawing. But you must register before April 10. You can use this link: 


Pam, from Bangor, Maine asked -How do you share information with parents about their child's writing?  
Before I started using ESGI, I shared information with parents at our fall and spring conferences. But after changing my teacher-life with ESGI all I had to do was click on “Print Parent Letter” and voila, there was a user-friendly letter in English or Spanish which clearly reported which skills their child had mastered and which skills had not been mastered for this reporting period. The best part was that I could customize the letter to include specific skills or time periods and it was so much easier to read and understand than the report card! I could also print out a set of flashcards for each student that included all of the skills not mastered for each individual child! 
Here is a sample of what they looked like:
Click the parent letter.
Beth, from Tarrytown, New York asked -How do you support young writers that struggle with fine motor control not with the formation of ideas? Execution vs. creativity.
Sometimes, you just have to say, “Let’s not worry about neatness or mechanics today.” That’s OK, really, because even a professional writer sometimes just has to get their ideas down on paper and there will always be time for editing or re-writing later. So let’s not correct everything during the brainstorming lessons. Take time later for correcting, guiding, and using that teachable moment to reinforce skills in a private, friendly way so kids gain confidence and are more willing to take risks and use more challenging words. Otherwise, you will spend your year getting simple writing like, “I like my mom,” because they will be intimidated and afraid to use more challenging words. 
And, to encourage neatness and accuracy during the final draft lessons, ask students to come up to you to show you their best letter, word, or sentence. They will be so proud to share that with you and it will raise their level of awareness about the appearance of their final product. 

I'll be back in a day or so to answer even more questions.