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!  
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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!
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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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