Sunday, March 29, 2015

Two Tips

Linda:  If you've been reading our blogs, you know that I am retired after teaching kindergarten for 35 years and living in Georgia to be closer to my grandchildren.  

Tip 1:

Last week my daughter-in-law was out of town and so I had my two little ones for most of the week -  a very exhausting week!

One day while the 4-year-old was in preschool, I took the 2-year-old to the toddler program at the county library.  As a shape review, we had a set of laminated shapes and a "fishing pole." 

My kindergarten students loved all my fishing games and I made the poles with yarn and a magnet hanging off the end of a dowel rod.  Each time we used them I spent most of my instructional time untangling the yarn or putting new paperclips on the fish!  I want to share this clever idea that the children's librarian did instead.

At the end of a 12" dowel rod, she put a piece of sticky-backed Velcro (hook side): 

Close up of  Velcro "fishing pole"

On the back of each game piece, she put a piece of Velcro (loop side).  The children had little difficulty picking up the "fish!"  

Shape pieces with loop side of Velcro

Although this may not be as much fun for the kids as the yarn fishing poles, it's a great table-top game!  No tangled lines, no missing paper clips, and no large floor area needed!  This is a great activity to reinforce all kinds of skills - letter identification, sets, numbers, colors, shapes, high frequency words and even addition/subtraction problems! 


Tip 2: What NOT to buy!

To keep my grandkids entertained, I wanted to purchase more sidewalk chalk now that the weather is warming up.  While I was at the store, I found a new product called sidewalk chalk paint.  It came in two varieties, rollers with paint trays and self-contained rollers on bottles: 

Here's what went wrong and why I would never buy these two products again. 

1.  The chalk paint was a powder and very difficult to mix up in the bottles.  There was a "fill" line for the water but when I shook the bottle, the water/paint all leaked out through the roller.  What a mess.

2.  The rollers were so poorly made that they came off the handle all the time.  Very frustrating for the children!  And very messy.

3.  The tray for the rollers had all three sections in one.  The kids mixed up the colors and argued over where to place the tray.  It would have been great to have 3 separate trays for them to move to their own work spaces!


4.  The yellow roller had squiggly foam along the side to create wiggly lines as you see in the above photo.  But those were the only lines the children could create before the squiggly foam fell off the roller.  

5.  The package with the rollers also had mini paint brushes but they also fell apart as soon as we used them. 

6.  The label advertised that these paints were "washable" but soap and water at the sink did very little to remove the color from our hands.  It took a long soaking in the bathtub to get rid of the color!  Fortunately the chalk paint did wash off my driveway with a little water from a hose! 

I think we'll stick to regular sidewalk chalk from now on! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Linda:  I'm so glad that the weather is finally warming up here in Georgia.  We're due to reach the 70's today but it probably won't last.  I'm so anxious to get out and work on my yard!

Lisa:  But here in Phoenix we're in the 80's - wish I could ship some of this heat to all of you who are still buried in snow!  We're getting ready for our Spring Break next week and have been busy prepping for the weeks following it.  I love to leave for a week knowing everything is ready to go when I come back!

To celebrate our favorite time of the year, we're having a Spring Linky Party!  Link 1 to 3 of your favorite spring products - free or paid!  Keep coming back to see what else is linked up here and don't forget to follow our blog for tips, activities, and more!

Party ends in one week on the 19th so link up now!

Sunday, March 1, 2015



Lisa:  I realized last week how far my students have come this year.  Our students enter school in August with few skills since 90% of them do not attend preschool.  But so many have mastered enough reading standards that we have had to change the way we do Picture Partners!  What a great feeling this is! 

Linda:  We introduce Picture Partners in the fall as a literacy station once the children know many letter sounds.  Their job is to spread out the word cards in a set of 6 partners, match up the correct photo to the word based on beginning letters, and then read the words to a friend or a teacher. 

Lisa:  This task has become too easy for some of our students!  So this week I changed the words to sentences!  I wrote sentences that incorporated our high frequency words on different colored sentence strips.  I laminated them and cut them apart to put in the baggie with the photos.  

The children love the challenge of putting the sentences together and reading them to a friend or me!  All the sentences in one baggie are the same except for the photo word which still requires them to match a word to a picture. 
 Look at what they can do now:

How do you differentiate your literacy stations?  Share your ideas below in the Comment section for others to read and try!

Linda:  Our very first set of Picture Partners was made using pictures from old math workbooks that the first grade teachers were going to throw away!  We have used clipart from the computer too but it takes too much time to search for just the right photo.  
             So now we have a product that has 80 pictures and word sets for you to cut apart and use.  We've done the work for you so you can spend more time teaching!  Here's a sample of one page: 
Click on it to see the product in our store.