Sunday, October 23, 2016

What’s New?

Linda: Time is running out before the presidential election and since I’m leaving for a 4-day quilting retreat in the morning, I wanted to let you know about our newest product, Running For President!  

This One-and-Done product contains the instructions for the project, 6 choices for the recording sheet, an emergent reader, and a ballot for your class to vote for either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton.  
If you are not familiar with these one-and-done projects, they allow you to read one book one day, do one project, and you’re done!  In our regular KinderLit books we work on one page a day so a book may take you 5 - 10 days.  Perfect for a thematic unit but sometimes you just want a quick project and that’s where our One-and-Done products come in! Click here to visit the category in our store. 

Currently we have 15 projects based on pieces of literature and sell them individually or in a Growing Bundle.  This bundle will grow and the price will go up as new projects are added. So if you were to buy it now you will get the new, additional projects for free!

If you have already purchased our Growing Bundle of these projects, be sure to visit your purchases page in your TpT account to upload the new version with Running For President included in it. 

As much as I enjoyed teaching, since retiring I have found a new love in my life - quilting!  I’ve been actively quilting for the past 5 years and am so proud of my first entry in a competition, Barnegat Bay Sunset, which won a 3rd place ribbon!  
How do you relax when you aren't teaching?  

Just wanted to share something with you that’s more personal and not just KinderLit.  Keep coming back for more personal stories about Lisa and me!  

Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Legos, Letters, and Halloween

Legos, Letters, and Lots of Fun!

Lisa: After a long day of work recently, my students needed a break.  During the last hour of the day I put on the ABC Song by Funtastic TV on YouTube.  We danced and sang to the song before creating letters with our Legos.
We had so much fun and the children felt so proud of their creations!  Can you tell what letters these students made?

Another idea! 
Lisa just sent me this information about Lego cards that she printed off and set out as a Lego center for reading stations.  She found them at Wildflower Ramblings and are free! There’s a set for upper case letters and a second set for lower case.  Too cute! Click on this photo to go right to them:

October Fun!
Linda: Looking for some fun Halloween projects?  Be sure to check these out by clicking on the cover!  

Halloween Link-Up Party
Link up 3 of your favorite Halloween products below and be sure to tell others to come link up!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Writing Those Pesky Numerals!

So many of our students enter our kindergarten program with no previous school experience.  Writing numerals can be very difficult for their little fingers so we spend one day each week working on a numeral at our math stations for 10 weeks.  Here’s what we do.
Whole Group
We use Math Their Way’s method for teaching numeral writing with purple and green strokes.  Here’s a sample of 4: 
Purple is always written first and then the green line is written.  We made these large posters for 0 - 9 and use them in whole group to show how to write the numeral. The children practice with air-writing and then writing on each other’s backs.  
The first time we set up these stations, we go over each one carefully making sure the children know how to form the numerals, use the materials, and what to do when they are finished. After that, we do not have to take the time to go over the directions for each one. These are quick stations that take only about 5 minutes each and it's fun listening to them say, "Purple-green" as they work!  
1. White Boards
This is one of their favorites!  The children write the numeral across their boards with dry erase markers.  Erasers can be pieces of erasers, old socks, gloves or t-shirts, cheap washcloths, small pieces of felt, or purchased erasers for small white boards.
                                2. Salt Trays
Salt is a relatively cheap material to use and is easy to color, if desired.  You can put the salt in a plastic baggie, add a few drops of food coloring, seal the bag, and mix well. Old baking trays with a small edge are perfect and can be found at yard sales or donated by parents.  It only takes about a cup of salt to cover the bottom - don’t put too much in!  After the children write the numerals, they slide the tray back and forth on the table to make the numerals disappear to start again!  Make sure they understand not to lift the trays or salt will be all over the place!

                                   3. Windows
These “window” boards are from Math Their Way and use the “purple-green” sample above each space for the students to write in.  They use a piece of copy paper or newsprint to write as many lines of the numeral as they can.  These can be made at home or you can purchase them here at Math Their Way.
                              4. Play Dough Mats

Another favorite!  We purchased ready-made mats but you can also create your own with clipart.  The students make a snake from the play dough and place it on the numeral.  From these two photos you can see the difference in the ability levels of our children!  Need a free recipe for homemade play dough that lasts for months?  Click here!

5. Number Writing Cards

These number writing cards are also from Math Their Way and can be written on with Vis-รก-Vis pens or dry erase markers.  We put them in vinyl sheet protectors and have used the same set over and over for years.  Click here if you are interested in purchasing them from Math Their Way - maybe your PTA will buy them for you!
Have fun with these numeral writing stations!

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is one of our favorite books for October.  Recently we added a new One-and-Done project, My Wild Thing, to our store based on this book.  Every student can create his/her own wild thing! 
In the past if you have purchased our Growing Bundle of all our One-and-Done projects, be sure to go to My Purchases in your account to get the updated version that includes My Wild Thing.  

You can get all 14 One-and-Done projects for 20% off if you were to purchase them separately.  And every time we add a new project, you get to download it for free!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Are you ready for those first parent conferences? first round of testing/assessing (or more testing!)? first report cards?  Make it all easy on yourself and check out ESGI!  It’s the quickest one-on-one assessment ever developed.  You can use their preloaded assessments or you can add your own.  Try it for free!  Just click on the icon below, sign up for the free trial before Sept. 30 and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win one of ten $50 gift cards from TpT! 

Pre-Kindergarten - 1st Grade Classroom Tools

September 15 was International Dot Day, named for the storybook, The Dot, by Peter H. Reynolds.  In the story, in art class a little girl cannot draw and just stares at a blank sheet of paper.  Her teacher finally encourages her to just make a mark and see where it takes her.  So in anger she makes one little mark, a little dot which becomes the beginning of a beautiful journey!  

We also read the book, Ten Black Dots, by Donald Crews.  Our students created illustrations using sticky dots and wrote about their pictures.  We gave them a choice of colored dots rather than just black dots to encourage originality rather than copy the illustrations in the book.  

We collected their dot pictures and created a class book for our library.  You can get a free copy of the student page and the cover page by clicking here.  

Ten Black Dots also lends itself to lots of number activities.  One fun activity is to ask the students how many dots we would need to make 10 pictures, one with 1 dot, one with 2 dots, etc.  Most children will answer 10! 
To get the correct answer, we use small 1” blocks and count out 10 sets, with one block in the first set, two blocks in the second set, and so on until we have 10 blocks in the 10th set.  Then we put all the blocks together and count them to get the correct answer of 55!  Most children are amazed!  
We create an anchor chart of black paper dots that we have cut out on the Ellison machine.  Here is a small sample of the chart, which remains up in the room for reference.  Of course we have to count all the dots again because many children will still insist there are only 10 dots!
Do you have products for sale in your TpT store for numeral identification and/or counting sets?  Link up three of your products below!  Don’t forget to tell others to come link up! 

Thursday, September 8, 2016


Lisa: There’s a saying here in Phoenix about the seasons:   We have only three - hot, hotter, and hottest!  If we drive about 2 hours north, we can experience all 4 seasons in Arizona.  

Linda: Obviously it’s difficult to teach about the four seasons with our weather but on our school grounds we have a few trees whose leaves actually change colors.  So our classes “adopt” a tree in September and observe what happens to it during the year. 

Lisa: This activity supports our science strands for the inquiry process and for changes in the environment.  The project makes children aware of their surroundings while having them write and draw about what they observe.   

When leaves begin to change color, we adopt a tree by walking around the campus with the children to decide on one.  We tie a laminated label to the tree that will remain on the it for the entire school year.

Back in the classroom, the children receive their science journals, Our Class Tree, and complete the fall page by writing the title on it and then writing a sentence to describe their tree.  They decorate the tree with paper leaves. 

We visit our adopted tree during the winter, spring, and summer (or as close to the summer as we can get before the school year is over!).  The children work in their science journals each time with a different art project for the tree and take them home at the end of the school year. 

Get your free Adopt-A-Tree journal by clicking on this cover.  This product is not available in our store yet on Teachers Pay Teachers so get yours first! 

We hope your children enjoy adopting a tree as much as ours do!  And follow this blog to get more freebies, ideas, and projects!  

Enter our Rafflecopter contest between September 8th and 11th to win a $50 gift card to TpT!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

We are also a part of a K-2 Linky party so be sure to check out the blogs below for more ideas and freebies.  

Happy Teaching!

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!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Teaching!