Thursday, August 30, 2018

Back To School Tips: Part 3

Setting up the best classroom EVER!

Here are a few time-saving, "make my life easier" ideas that I like to do at the beginning of the year:

First, I take a photo of each child when they come in for pre-testing.  I hang up some fabric and use it as a background for the photos .  Then, when I attach their photos to the inside of their cubbies, they all coordinate with the bulletin board above it and the red checkered theme I have in my room.

Photo spot.
We will write about our favorite sandwiches on a sandwich
template and pin them on the plates.
Their photos, with the checkered background ,
will replace the old photos inside the cubbies.
I print the photos in all different sizes to use in different ways.
One way is to attach a 2" X 3" photo to card stock, laminate it, and add a sticky Velcro dot to the back.
Then, we use them to graph all kinds of things on a huge graph I made that has Velcro in each square.

Front of graphing card.
Back of graphing card.

1st Day Certificates:

Next, I printed up our 1st Day certificates:
This year, I had to change my master to "first day of TK".
Click the image to get the certificates for K.

1st Day Photo for the Memory Book:

 We took our "First Day In TK" photos!  I am hanging the frame on the bulletin board and placing the individual photos all around it for Back-To-School-Night!

That's all for now.  
Hope your new school year is awesome!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2018

My Best Back to School Tips, Part 2:

Tip #2: 

This is part 2 of a 3-part series. 
You can view Part 1 by CLICKING HERE.

Plan Your "Day 1" Schedule & Activities:

Day 1's Schedule-
A simple, generic plan.

There are the classics like
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn. 
I liked starting my day with that book. 

But, keep these other two books on hand for later in the day:

I am Absolutely Too Small For School 
by Lauren Child
Click the image.
It's a cute book about how feeling 
not-quite-ready to start school. 

Or there is...
Harriet Can Carry It,
by Kirk J. Mueller
Click the image. 

 An adorable story about Harriet and her little son, Joey. She is a kangaroo who wants to spend a day at the beach. Harriet is asked by her friends to carry everything from a surfboard to a pair of swim fins. 
If you bring in a beach bag  this story can become an interactive activity as your students place graphics of the items Harriet is asked to carry into the beach bag. There is also a cute activity you can create with this kangaroo:  
Click the image to grab your FREE kangaroo & beach gear. 
Or you can have your students make their own beach bag out of a paper bag:
Click the image.

Think of Harriet as 
a summertime version of The Mitten. 

Rules/Logistics/Tour the School:
I keep my rules short & sweet:

1. We use quiet voices.
2. We listen with our whole bodies.
3. We walk across the classroom.
4. We are kind.
5. We follow directions.

I even made a little poem about it.
It goes like this:
(And there are hand motions to go with it.)

We raise our hands before we talk,
(Raise right hand up.)
We listen, 
(Right hand cupped to right ear.)
we always walk,
(Fingers of right rand walk along the top of your left forearm.)
We're kind,
(Touch both pointer fingers to the sides of your mouth as you smile.)
We follow directions. 
(Clap, clasp your hands, and place them in your lap.)

Teaching logistics is easy if you explain what you want the children to do and then have 1 or 2 students model it. 

Explain how to walk to the tables, how to create the table activity, and how to use the manipulative activities at each table. Have 1 or 2 students model moving to the tables and YOU model how to create the table activity and use the manipulative activities. By the way, I place the manipulative tubs on the tables and students may play with them when they finish their work. Each day of the first week I rotate the manipulative activity tubs to the next table. That way the children get to explore different manipulatives each day. 

Here are 3 of my 5 tables.
I move the manipulative tubs from one table to the next at the end of each day. 

And take some time to Tour The Classroom & School. Take a group walk around the classroom, especially if you have a restroom in your classroom, and stop to model how to wash your hands at the sink. 

A cute idea is to find your class mascot (mine was always Boomer, the dog) by the sink. Then, tour the playground and, if you can get someone to slip your mascot on a swing or the slide, find your mascot on the playground and model the rules like walking on the blacktop or going down the slide on your bottom. (Although I have been known to go down the slide, you can have a student model that one!) I don't tour the entire school, only the parts that are adjacent to my classroom like the playground and restrooms. 
Here is Boomer! We found him by my Show & Tell Apron!
If you want a teaching apron like this one, visit

Take-home Activity:
Something simple like this hat is perfect for the first day of school because they can wear it home. 
After they cut it out and glued on the red band and white star, I called them up to take their First Day Photo. I used this laminated hat for all of the photos. 
The words on the red band:
I had a superstar day in kindergarten!

1st Day Photos-

I put up a red checkered background for each photo. 
Or you can use a frame like this one. 

Recess & More Literature:
This classic book, Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready For Kindergarten, by Joseph Slate, can be too long to read on the first day. I just start the book, focus on the letters "A" and "a", and we look for those letters in each name as I show their name cards on my SMART board by using my digital camera. On day 2, we take this book out again and focus on the letters B & b. 

We list all of the names that have an "A" or an "a", count how many we have, and fill in the first page of our class Letter-Name Book:
Click the image to grab this Letter-Name Book. 

CLICK HERE to grab my Letter-Name Book. 
It is also part of my 
CLICK HERE to grab that bundle. 

2nd Table Activity:
Chick-Chicka-Boom-Boom, Welcome To Our Classroom! This activity stays at school to create a cute bulletin board. 

Give students the random letters or the letters in their name. 

Isn't this a cute bulletin board?

Here is a 2D version of this activity.
It makes a great page your your memory book too!

Lunch/Fire Drill/Group Activity:
After lunch, practice a fire drill and then do a group activity like a movement song or a game.

Literature & Daily Diary:
Annabelle Swift, Kindergartener, by Amy Schwartz is a great book to end the day with. 
Click the image. 

Then, have the class help you to complete the first page of your daily diary: This re-caps the day and helps your students remember what they did in school that day so when their parents ask them, it is fresh in their minds. 
Click the image. 
to grab your Daily Dairies for the entire year!
This set is also part of my 
CLICK HERE to grab that bundle. 

Have you signed up for your 
FREE trial of ESGI yet? 
Use my code, KFUN
to get $40 off of your 1st year 
and you will be entered to 
win one of 11 Amazon Gift Cards 
valued from $50 - $500!

Stay tuned for part 3 of 3 when I blog about making your First Day the BEST it can be tomorrow! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My Back To School Top 3 Tips:

Getting Ready For Day 1:

Here are my "Top 3 Tips" to help you have the best 1st day EVER!
I will post one tip each day for three day. 
Does this look like your school on the 1st day?
Tip #1:
Pre-Test Your Students:
If you can possibly meet your students prior to the first day of school and administer a mini pre-test, that would be PERFECT! 
My in-coming students LOVED testing with ESGI.

I can't emphasize enough how valuable pre-testing prior to the the first day of school is. Not only do you get to meet your new students individually, you get to meet at least one parent, and you have the time to test each student on the most critical foundational skills.  Most of all, you can quickly print up an assessment letter for the parents which indicates which skills their child answered correctly and which skills they need to work on:
Each letter is individualized for each student!
But that's not all! You can also print up a set of flashcards for parents to take home and work on prior to the first day of school!

Flashcards are labeled with the date tested, the child's name, and the skill tested. 

You'll be able to plan your initial groups, plan your lessons based on data, and your RTI will be up and ready to go on Day 1.

(I usually set up 30 min per student and I take their photo too!)

The Perfect Photo Op Time:
Set up a cute background and take a quick photo of each child. 
First, I set up a background for the photos. 
Then, I take each photo
in front of that background. 
I print each photo in different sizes.
This one is for our class graph. 

I stick Velcro on the back and
use these photos for our class graph. 

I also place one photo inside each child's cubby to help them find their cubby on the first day. 

But I know that not everyone can do this. If you can't, you will have to take some time from each day, for about two weeks, so you can pre-test each child individually during class time. 

I know, you are thinking, how can I EVER do this when I have so many needy students? Let me suggest a few tips:

Test one child while the others work around you at your reading table or at their work tables. 
The students around me are working on a simple activity while
I'm testing one child on just a few skills

 Print a class list and include a grid so you can enter scores in the boxes by each child's name.
The shaped were added after pre-testing and indicate which academic group each child is in.
The colors indicate which table each child sits at.
These can change as needed. 

If I pre-test prior to Day 1, this data is already done before the 1st day of school. 

Test only the most important skills: 
Letter names (stop testing if they miss 5 in a row), Letter sounds (consonants only)
Number recognition (0-5 only)
(This should take from 5-15 min. per student.)

If you have time:
Naming pictures of common objects. 
Naming the 8 basic colors
Visual discrimination (matching pictures)
Counting up to 5 objects
Reading up to 5 sight words 
(This can add an additional 10-15 min per student.)

-Record the # of letter names, sounds, and numerals correctly identified by each child's name. 
-Record the additional skills, if tested, with a ratio such as 5/8 for a student who named 5 colors correctly out of 8.

You might be wondering why I didn't record each individual color and when do I find time to test students while I'm teaching and managing all of my brand new students. That's because I used ESGI, an online testing site, who took care of all of the details for me!
Click the image to grab your 60 day FREE trial. 

All I had to do was show each student the screen of my laptop or iPad and click "yes" or "no" as my students identified letter names, sounds, numerals, colors, common objects, sight words, counted 5 objects, and matched pictures. 
The student identifies the word and I click "yes" or "no".

ESGI tracked which questions each child answered correctly and which ones they didn't. And just take a look at this bar graph. You choose from the tests listed at the bottom of the page:

Click the image for more info. 

If you click on the grey part you see the names of the students who did not get that question correct! Can you spell RTI??? There it is for you!

ESGI also tracks each individual student's progress. The grey circles turn green as each student masters the skills on each test. Your students LOVE to see their circles turn green, so they will often beg you to test them! 

Click the chart for more info. 

and begin your FREE 60 day trial. 
And... if you enter the code
you will automatically qualify for 
$40 off of your 1st year!
(There is no CC required for the FREE trial.)
Bonus: If you sign up before Sept. 30, 
you will be entered to win one of 
11 Amazon Gift Cards!
to get started.

Click the image for more info.
Now, if you can't pre-test prior to the first day of school, you can still call students up for 5-15 minutes each while everyone else is completely a simple table activity and exploring the manipulative materials you placed on each group table. 
I will be blogging about that tomorrow, so stay tuned 
for part 2 of this 3 part series. 
Tomorrow's post is all about 
My Day 1 Schedule and Activities!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Kindergarten Classroom Crayon Organizer for Tables

This Idea Is The BEST:

The 2 smaller boxes contain broken, peeled, blue crayons for adding background to their illustrations, and a glue sponge. Click the image to see another crayon organizer that's FREE! 

Grab yourself some popsicle molds, remove the popsicle holders (save them for your estimation jar), and you have the perfect crayon caddies. 

Bonus: They promote sorting skills, too!

They hold 4 jumbo or 6-7 regular size crayons.

I saw some on sale today @ Walmart for 25 cents!
Click the image for a FREE
crayon box organizer. 

Click the image for a FREEcrayon box organizer. 

Have a wonderful school year!

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

How To Teach Writing To Non-Writers + a Give-Away from DJ Inkers & a FREEBIE!

DJ Inkers Makes Writing FUN!

Students need so many skills before they can write...
Click the image to grab the set.

My last 3 years teaching was in a TK/K combo class where I taught 4-5 year old children how to write a complete sentence. 

I made writing tons of FUN by using the cutest graphics I could find: Graphics from DJ Inkers!

I'll explain how, but first, lets win some cute graphics from DJ Inkers & find out how to grab that FREEBIE...

Enter the Rafflecopter below and win a set of my favorite graphics from DJ Inkers, Kids All Year!

Win a complete set of 
Kids All Year:
Click the image above.
Here is a sample of what you'll get:
Click any of the images above. 

This set is a $39 value 
and it even comes with fonts!

I used graphics from this set to create
Rime Time!

It's a fun way to teach onset rimes. 
You can grab a set of 
21 Rime Time Flowers by

You can also grab a FREE mini set of 
5 Rime Time flowers by 

Here is the Give-Away!
Enter to WIN a FREE set of graphics here:
Winner will be chosen at 
12 AM Pacific Time on August 14.

The winner is: Kelley. I have emailed you. Please reply so we can send you your prize! 


So, How Did I Teach Writing to Non-Writers?

We started at the very beginning of the school year by composing a complete sentence verbally with the use of my Instant Writing cards.

How It Works:

Click the image above.

My Instant Writing kit consists of 48 labeled picture cards of character nouns, 48 labeled picture cards of verbs, 48 picture cards of nouns of places, a writing template page, and a complete list of directions. 
My students loved the 
graphics & fonts from 
Click the image.

Click the image. 

What The Teacher Prepares:

The teacher copies one page of character nouns on pink paper, one page of verbs on green paper, and one page of place nouns on blue paper for each student. 
Click the graphics to see more.

In addition, each child will need one copy of the writing template on white paper. (I always kept lots of these on hand.) 

I also made  five copies of the "extra words" page on yellow card stock and laminated them so they may be used in a small group setting for many years.

Day 1:
The teacher calls up a small group of five students and has them cut apart their labeled cards and place them all in a sandwich size zipper bag. Label the bag with each child's name. 
Click the image.
Day 2:
The teacher gives each child in a small group setting one white writing template and one yellow page of "extra words" to use. 

The teacher asks the students to pull out one pink, one green, and one blue card from their bag and glue them to the corresponding squares on their writing template.
Aren't the graphics adorable?Click the image above to see more from DJ Inkers.
The students take turns practicing their oral language skills by creating sentences with their three cards and verbally sharing them with the group. (Students may take this page home to practice composing sentences verbally.)

Day 3: 

In a small group setting, the teacher asks each student to choose 3 more cards from their bag, 1 pink, 1 green, and 1 blue, and to compose their best or funniest sentence to share with the group. 

Click the image.
As each student shares his/her sentence, the teacher circles any "extra words" that child may need on the laminated extra words page with a dry erase marker. 
Click the image.

Tip: It is often helpful if the teacher writes the first letter of each word that the student dictated on the writing template to help guide the student when copying words. Often, this is only necessary for the first few writing lessons. 

The students write their sentence using the words circled on the extra words list and the labels on their picture cards. 
Click the image. 

When done, the students share their sentences with the group and erase the circles on the extra words page. 

Here is a quick video of a 4 year old child writing with "Instant Writing" for the very first time!

Days 4-7:
Repeat the steps from Day 3 using new picture cards and a new writing template. 

After students have used all six pink, green, and blue cards, they are ready to try this activity as a center. 

The Writing Center:

This time, when you copy a set of character nouns, use pink card stock. Use green card stock for the verbs and blue card stock for the nouns of places. 

Cut apart and laminate the colored cards. 

Copy the writing template on white card stock and laminate it.  

Place one of the yellow laminated "extra word" pages at this center. 
Click the image above.
Students place one pink, green, and blue card on their writing template and, using a dry erase marker, they attempt to compose a sentence. 
Many students have become familiar with the words on the "extra word" page by now, but I also used cross-age tutors, parent volunteers, and para professionals to help students if needed. 
Click the image to grab a set.

I hope you like the picture cards as much as I do. 
The cutest graphics are from DJ Inkers!
Click the image above for more.
Best of all, DJ Inkers is having a SALE right now!
You can see all of their wonderful graphics and fonts by clicking on my affiliate link:
to see all that DJ has to offer!