Thursday, August 18, 2016


Rules and procedures.  Procedures and rules.  It seems that’s all we do in kindergarten during the first weeks of school!  But the remainder of the year is disastrous if not! 

We use manipulatives for our work with our adopted math program, Investigations, and before we delve into serious work, we introduce one material a day, let the children explore with it, and set up the procedures for math stations.  Each child then completes a page in their Journal for Math Materials, our KinderLit version of an interactive notebook.    

During our whole group instruction, we show the class the material for the day and go over the simple rules we have for using the materials: 
  1. Take care of the materials.  Do not throw them, put them in your mouth, or take them home. 
  2. Do not bother another child’s work. 
  3. Put them away in their correct tub and back on the shelf.
We discuss what can be done with each type of manipulative and then we give the children a chance to explore with it at a math station.  

We usually have 4 - 5 math stations during math time, at which the children work on specific tasks.  After an appropriate amount of time (about 10 - 15 minutes at the beginning of the year) we give a signal to indicate they are to clean up and stand behind their chairs.  They point to the next station and when everyone is ready, the groups move and settle in to work.  

The first material we introduce are pattern blocks because they are so colorful and fun to use!  Here are some children exploring with these blocks. 

Here’s our schedule for introducing these materials: 

Each day we begin at whole group time to discuss the rules again and then work at the stations. 

Day 1 - All stations have trays of pattern blocks and we give the children about 5 minutes to play with them.  Then we all line up behind the teacher with our hands behind our backs, walk around the room to inspect what others have done, and then return to our stations to continue exploring.  This “parade” will inspire new ideas to try out at their own stations again and is repeated each day!  

Day 2 - Half the stations have pattern blocks and half have the new manipulative of unifix cubes.  Half-way through the time, we give a signal and the children change places to work with the other manipulative. 

Day 3 - Half the stations have unifix cubes and half have the new manipulative of buttons.  Half-way through the time, we give a signal and the children change places to work with the other manipulative.  

Day 4 - Half the stations have buttons and half have the new manipulative of color tiles.  Half-way through the time, we give a signal and the children change places to work with the other manipulative.  

Day 5 - Half the stations have color tiles and half have the new manipulative of geo blocks.  Half-way through the time, we give a signal and the children change places to work with the other manipulative.  

After the stations are completed each day, the children get their Journal of Math Manipulatives from their cubbies and work on the appropriate page for the new item introduced that day.  

You can make up your own interactive notebook for math materials or purchase ours - we’ve done all the work for you!  Materials included are unifix cubes, buttons, keys, pattern blocks, color tiles, spinners, teddy bear counters, geo blocks, dice, dominoes, and a blank page to create your own.  And it's on sale for 20% off through Sunday, August 21!  

Each manipulative has two different formats as well as a page of clipart for the children to cut apart for their journal.  
Read more about this journal by clicking on this photo:


Pre-Kindergarten - 1st Grade Classroom Tools
Have you signed up for a free 60-day trial for ESGI yet?  If you sign up before Sept. 30, you will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to TpT!  Click on the above button and check it out!  You can read more about the benefits of using ESGI in our previous blog post by clicking here
In that post, we promised to give you suggestions for classroom management while you are working one-on-one with a child at the computer.  Here's just a few: 
  1. Stations, such as the math ones described above, keep the children working on a task while you are working with ESGI
  2. Many of our KinderLit books lend themselves to the whole class working on a page at the same time.  After modeling the collage for the page, you are free to pull one child over to the computer while the others work on their KinderLit book page.
  3. If you are lucky enough to work at a school that provides tablets to the teachers, you can use ESGI on it.  While the children are at recess, you can stand off to the side of the playground and assess a child in a minute or two!  Tablets are so portable - just don’t do it while you’re on recess duty! 
  4. During our station time, we often lead a group at our guided reading table.  The children love to do partner reading which allows us to take one of the children to the computer to work on an assessment on ESGI.  When station time is over, so is the assessment for each student!
Anyone have more ideas?  Please share your suggestions in the comment section below! 

Happy Teaching!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Your Newest Back-to-School Assessment Tool

Tired of spending hours and hours and hours assessing your students?  Then dealing with all those papers for each child?  And having to enter the results on a class tracker?  Use your computer mouse to do it all!
ESGI, which stands for Educational Software for Guiding Instruction, provides teachers with the greatest time-saving program for assessments.  Here’s how it’s done.

Spend a minute at the computer with each child and just use your mouse to record their responses to one of over 200 preloaded assessments.  Or create your own!  All you do is click on the Y or N and the software does the rest!
With one click of your mouse discover data such as which 
sight word is the least recognized by your class, which letter is the most recognized, or what percentage of your students can rhyme.  Plan your individual instruction or whole group lessons based on your reports. 
That mouse of yours will be indispensable to you!  Click and print out personalized parent letters in English or Spanish to send home as often as you want.  And don’t forget to print off practice cards, name practicing papers, name tags, and much more!
Your administration can track data with just a mouse for your entire grade level - a great help for determining class placement.
Why don’t you use your mouse right now and click on this icon to read more, watch a video all about ESGI, and try it free for 60 days.    If you sign up for the free trial, you'll be automatically entered into a drawing to win one of ten $50 TpT gift cards!  Just in time for those back-to-school assessments! 
Concerned about managing a whole class of students while you are working with just one at the computer?  Be sure to check our next blog for suggestions and ideas!
Lisa:  The students are coming!!!!  And my room is finally ready!  I started with this: 
And ended up with this: 
I have 21 students so far and 4 work tables with seating for 6 at each.  The tables are color-coded and the children call them by name.  Here’s a close-up of the “Green Table.”  
Can you see the red, yellow, and green sections on the far wall in the first picture above?  That’s our DIBELS wall for posting their progress in three different sections of the test.  Here’s what my DIBELS wall looked like during last school year:
The majority of my students do not attend any preschool so I have to start the year off teaching them to recognize their names in print.  That’s where my check-in cards come into play!  Each morning the children find their name cards and place them in the hanging pocket chart.  It’s also a quick and easy way for me to take attendance.  For the first few days they also wear the lanyards too until I learn their names.  Then the name cards become letters, words, numbers, etc. for them to wear!   

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if my room would look this neat every day?!!  
Start the new school year off by winning a $50 gift card to TpT!  Fill out this rafflecopter form for a chance to win!
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Happy Teaching!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Magic Play Dough for the First Day of School

Linda:  Last week my grandchildren and I made new play dough in my kitchen.  It reminded me of an activity I did with my kindergartners on the first day of school.  Each child received a small white ball of play dough which, when manipulated, would designate the type of year we would all have.  If the white changed to a color we’d have a great school year! 
Of course when I made the play dough, I poked my finger down into the center, added a drop or two of food coloring, and covered it up again.  Sometimes it’s just too easy to trick kindergartners!

Step 1:  Roll a white ball about the size of a ping pong ball.

Step 2:  Poke a hole with your finger and add a drop or two of food coloring.  Close up the opening and put the ball in a baggie with a copy of the poem. 

Step 3: The Children squish their play dough and watch it change colors!  

I added the short poem explaining the process so the parents would understand why their children were bringing home a small ball of play dough.  Click here to receive a free copy of the poem.

Lisa:  If you have never made your own play dough, check out our blog post from January for the recipe and photo directions.  I love this play dough!  My class uses it at centers and stations but I only have to make a batch two or three times during the school year.  Be sure to add the cream of tartar since it acts as a preservative.  

Have a fantastic first day!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Best Year Ever!

Lisa:  I’m writing this at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 31, my last day of summer break.  Tomorrow morning the teachers all head back to school here in our district in Phoenix, AZ.   Poof! There went summer!  
When I left for summer break, I snapped a few photos of my room and now this is what I have to look forward to in the morning!   Will post more photos at the end of the week when it’s all unpacked. 
It will take me all day just to move this furniture back!

I love all the shelving I have for separating large spaces.

I wonder how many other professions have to move all their equipment to one side of the room when they go on vacation?


Linda:  We are participating in TpT’s Best Year Ever sale on August 1 & 2.  Everything in our store will be 20% off and you can get an additional 8% off if you use the code BestYear at checkout.   Time to stock up!  

So often we are asked what KinderLit books we use at the beginning of the school year.  Here are the 6 books we use during the first few months of school: 
Colors Colors Look What I See (sadly our students come to kindergarten not knowing their colors)
Shapes Shapes Shapes (nor their shapes!)
Nursery Rhymes and Mother Goose (for introducing rhymes and beginning letter sounds)
Counting 100 Days of School with Zero the Hero (got to start counting on day 1!)
Kindergarten Keepsake Assessment Book (a beginning and ending book to show growth)

You can buy these individually or now in a bundle that can save you more than 20%!  And if you purchase them during the sale, you can get them all for only $15.14, or just over $2.50 each.  Click on this photo to read more about this new product! 

Have the Best Year Ever with the 
Best Sale Ever!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Christmas In July - Giveaways, Sale, and Freebie

We are participating in the I Teach K-2 Linky Party and we’re celebrating Christmas in July with the group.  


Our entire store is on sale from July 6th - 9th.  This is a great opportunity to get your Back-to-School products and save 20%

Click on this photo to go to our store! 
Sign up on the Rafflecopter form below and maybe you’ll be one of 5 lucky people to win!  Prizes include 3 $50 gift certificates for TpT, one $50 gift card to Target and a $100 card for clipart!  Good luck! 

It’s never too late to think about Christmas activities!  Here’s a cute FREE math craft for the children to take home to count down the days until Christmas from either Dec. 1st, the 10th, or the 15th.  Six different fill-in-the-missing number worksheets are also included.  Just click on this photo to download this brand new freebie! 

Young children may have a difficult time with the abstract concept of the passage of time, which they can’t touch, see, hear or taste.  They need lots of experiences with the relationship of time passing by as related to events such as Christmas, their birthdays, or vacations.  

During calendar work, we use 7 teddy bears for the days of the week which hang underneath.  We also have 3 little shirts for them in different colors labeled yesterday, today, and tomorrow. 
Not a photo of our actual bears!

After we complete the regular calendar work, we move the shirts on the bears over a day while we relate an activity for each shirt.  Here’s an example of what we say: 
“Yesterday was Monday.  Yesterday we had raisins for snack.” 
“Today is Tuesday. Today is our day for Music.”  
"Tomorrow is Wednesday.  Tomorrow we will go to P.E. so wear your tennis shoes."

If you live in an area where the weather changes from day to day, you can relate yesterday, today, and tomorrow to the type of weather conditions.  Remember we teach in Phoenix where it is always sunny!  

Use stories/books to explore the passage of time, especially these Eric Carle books: 
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - days of the week
Today Is Monday - days of the week
The Very Quiet Cricket - morning to night
The Very Busy Spider - morning to night

Happy Summer! 
And may your summer break 
time pass by slowly!
Linda and Lisa

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Sunday, June 19, 2016

A Chuckle and a New Book for You!

Lisa: We love children’s literature!  Did you know that we created our business name KinderLit from two words - Kindergarten and Literature?  When we started teaching together many, many years ago, we did not have a formal reading program and taught all the kindergarten skills through literature!  

Linda: One of our favorite books is Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.  It was first published in 1947 and is still a favorite of young children today.  Here’s a funny blog post at The Ugly Volvo by Raquel D’Apice in which she explains all the issues she has with the bedroom in this book!  Hope you get a chuckle out of it!  Just click on this cover to go to the blog post: 

A New KinderLit Christian Book!
We have posted a new Christian book based on the story of Noah called Two-By-Two - My Animals of the Ark.  The children create a cute ark cover which can be used as a bulletin board while they work on their book pages.  

We have included 4 different sets of pages to meet the needs of all students so be sure to check out this book on TpT and check out the preview to see all the pages and a photo of the the finished animal collages!  

Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Teacher-Student Photo Booth and a FREEBIE!

Lisa:  It was such a fun year but now it’s over.  I had a wonderful class and was fortunate enough to have in my class the son of my former student teacher who was also a teammate for several years!  
    We had our end-of-the-year celebration and want to share a new activity we did with our parents.  So often the children want to have their pictures taken with their teachers so we set up a “photo booth!”
    Using a large piece of white poster board, we cut a rectangle out of the center so there was about a 4” border left.  Each teacher decorated the border with her name and Kindergarten and the frame was hung on a chart stand.  As a child requested a photo, we posed inside the frame - a nice memory from this year!  
Linda:  Although summer is upon us, we like to leave for vacation prepared for the new school year as much as possible.  To build a sense of community with our new students in August, we make a class book based on Who Took The Cookies From The Cookie Jar? by Bonnie Lass & Philemon Sturges. Our FREE KinderLit book is called Where Are Our Cookies? and each student creates a portrait for the book.  
The children may not be able to read each other's names in the beginning of the year so we add a photo in the corner of their pages to help them.  We sit in a circle with our pages and play the cookie jar game while each one shares their page with the class.  What a yummy snack! 
     This book is an all-time favorite for the entire year and by clicking on the photo above or here, it can be yours too!  Have fun with it! 
Linda: We are participating in a give-away for 3 $25 TpT Gift Cards! Be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  Good luck!
We are part of a group of blogging elementary teachers so be sure to click on the links below to check out more ideas on their blogs!

Happy Summer!

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