Monday, February 3, 2020

Build a Community Helper Town in Your Classroom!

Linda:  Every year we build a Community Helper Town in our classrooms as we study this theme and our students love this unit!  We work on the helpers for 3 - 4 weeks, depending on how many actual helpers can visit our classrooms. 

Lisa:  Fortunately one of our teammates is married to a fire fighter with friends in the police department!  We have been able to get the training fire truck come to our school with a crew.  It’s so much fun for the children to try on the uniforms and equipment.  We have even sprayed water onto the playground! 

Contact your local fire and police departments to arrange visits.  Most large cities will have community liaisons to help with the arrangements.  

Be sure to check with your fellow teachers and parents to find other helpers to visit your classes.  The husband of a teacher was enlisted and stationed at our local air force base.  What a hit he was when he came to visit in his uniform!  

What makes the unit “stick together” rather than be just a series of visitors and activities?  Try these two ideas: 

1.Build a Community Helper Town on a bulletin board and add to it every time you study another helper. 

In this first photo, we covered our bulletin board and then cut 2” strips of black construction paper for the roads.  The students helped us paint the white lines with small brushes or Q-tips.   
Create a Community Helper Town in your classroom!  Read about it in our blog.

In this photo, notice the thinner white lines created with small pieces of chalk. 
Create a Community Helper Town in your classroom!  Read about it in our blog.

We cut 6” squares and  8” by 4” rectangles from a variety of colored paper for the house and roof. The children used the scrap box to find small pieces for windows, doors, and embellishments.  The community officers were from a bulletin board set and the children tried creating buildings for them too! 

Here you’ll see a different kind of house made out of tongue depressors.  Our school nurse is very supportive of our work and orders special items like this from her budget!  The children painted them and drew the people who lived in their homes. 
Create a Community Helper Town in your classroom!  Read about it in our blog.

2. Have the children make a Community Helpers Flip Book! 
We offer this book for in our TpT store.  It’s called Community Helpers Flip Book with pages for the children to “dress up” as 11 different helpers.  The pages are cut so that their faces which are on the last page of the book show on each page.  They only collage the uniforms and you can choose which helpers to include in the book.  This is a favorite of our children year after year!  
In addition, this book has a writing journal with two sets of pages for differentiation.  And you can get a free emergent reader by going to our previous blog about community helpers!  Click here to get your reader! 

Be sure to check this resource out by clicking on this cover: 
Here's a student sample of his Community Helpers Flip Book!  Read about it in our blog.

Student sample

And on Feb. 4 & 5, 2020, this book will be part of Teachers Pay Teachers site-wide sale!  So instead of $6.50, it will be reduced to only $5.20, a 20% discount.  But even better you can get an additional 5% off by using the code FEBSALE at checkout.  That makes it only $4.88 for this resource, one of our best sellers! 
But that’s not the only item on sale!  Everything in our store will be 20% off on Feb. 4 & 5, 2020 with an additional 5% discount with the special code.  Click on the sale photo to go to KinderLit.

Happy Teaching!  Happy Shopping!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Halloween Freebie!

Here’s a fun activity to create a class memory book of Halloween!  The children are so cute in their costumes that you’ll want to take photos of each one.  

Print those photos onto the left side of the student page and then let them draw themselves on the right side!  A class photo goes on the cover and you’ll have an adorable book for your class library.  

There are two covers for the book, one labeled Halloween and one October.  

Click this link for the freebie!  You cannot get this freebie anywhere else but here!  Thanks for being a loyal reader of our blog!  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Activities For The Three Little Pigs With FREEBIES!

This is an updated blog post from November, 2018, with fixed links for the free activities.  

Our students love this story so much that we spend 2 - 3 weeks studying pigs, the -ig word family, and the elements of the story.  We can only share here a small portion of what we do but we hope there are some new ideas for you to incorporate into your own study of The Three Little Pigs! 

Getting To Know Pigs
We teach in a urban setting in Phoenix, AZ, and unless we take a field trip to the zoo or a farm our students have never seen a real pig before!  They only know about pigs from fiction story books.  So we begin our study of pigs by bringing in as many non-fiction pig books as we can find in our public libraries.  

On our first day of our study, we display all the books along a chalkboard and divide our students up into study groups of 3 or 4 children, putting the non-verbal children together in groups and verbal children in other groups.  We tell them that they will need to look through the books to learn about where pigs live, what do they eat, what do they look like, etc. 

Each group selects one book to share among themselves, looking through it carefully to learn what they can about pigs.  When they are done with one book, the group selects another book.  This technique requires them to cooperate in their decision-making and allows each student to speak.

By creating groups according to how verbal they are, the non-verbal students are forced to speak!  And the verbal ones must learn to compete against each other rather than monopolize the conversation! 
At a literacy station that day, the children complete the 3 Facts About Pigs page: 

Graphic Organizers
Every time we read a different version of this book, we add the elements of it to a large class graphic organizer.  Across the top of the chart the columns read: Title, Characters, Houses, and Ending.  We have this on display along with a heading that corresponds to a standard.  

We begin by reading many versions of this classic tale, including some unusual ones! Here are the covers of just a few we use.  Be forewarned that some have difficult pronunciations for the items in the book!  

Sequencing the Story
Our students love to act out this story and many others during the school year.  One day during free choice time, a group of children asked for some large paper to create the 3 houses.  We were able to find some poster board approximately 12” by 18” in the storage room and they became very busy creating these houses from the scrap box: 

Many other children became involved and we had a great “production” to share with other classes.  One great benefit was that even our non-English speaking children joined in!  Some held the houses and some just huffed and puffed!  But everyone was involved!  

The -ig Word Family
What a perfect time to introduce the -ig family!  We brainstorm words, both real and non-sense, and create a class list.  As the children are using books during the week, they come up to a poster taped onto the wall and write any -ig family word they find.  By the end of the week our poster is full!  Words can be repeated but as they add their word, they have to read the other words on the poster.
Here’s a fun activity with post-it notes and a recording sheet.  Use the smallest post-it note available, 1.5” by 2”.  We do this activity at a literacy station so only 5 or 6 children are wandering the room looking for the post-it notes at a time.  If you haven’t already done so, here to get copies of all the FREEBIES in this post!

Numbers and Pigs
Those funny little pigs even help us learn to put numerals and sets into correct order!  Here’s another FREEBIE for you, a counting song sheet.  The children cut apart the sets and numerals, glue them in order on a second page, and sing 
                 One little, two little, three little pigs. (or piggies)
               Four little, five little, six little pigs.
Seven little, eight little, nine little pigs.
Ten little squealing pigs!
The second time through we change the word squealing to an action such as hopping, jumping, tip-toeing, etc.  And then we sing it again doing that action!  If your students don’t need more practice in sequencing from 1 to 10, have them put the numerals in reverse order from 10 to 1.  If you haven’t already done so, click here to get copies of all the FREEBIES in this post.
KinderLit Books
Please visit our store to read about these two products we offer for the Three Little Pigs.  One is a collage book and journal set and the other is a One-and-Done project.  Just click on the photos to read more. 

 What ideas do you have for this classic tale?  We'd love to hear them! Just leave a comment below to share with others!

Friday, September 13, 2019


This blog post has been updated to fix the link to the free printable sheets.  Sorry for any inconvenience this has caused anyone!

We just created our first predictable chart and class book of the year!  If you have never created a predictable chart with your class, you’re in for a treat!

What is a predictable chart? 
This is a technique for shared writing based on the 4-Block literacy model by Patricia Cunningham and Dorothy Hall.   

Prior to beginning the group lesson, we decide on the sentence which includes the high frequency word we want to reinforce.  The teacher writes the first sentence to model for the students and then records each child’s sentence.  We like to add a small photo of the children next to their sentences. 

Why use a predictable chart?
We use these charts for discussing concepts of print ideas such as spacing, capitalization, punctuation, etc.  We use Wikki Stix to circle the high frequency word we have introduced.  
Once we are finished, we leave the chart hanging in the room for the children to re-read with a pointer.  They are very excited about these charts since they have contributed to it and their photos are on it!  
Our first predictable chart!
You can see that we have lots of children who have to wait their turns!  Sometimes we create the chart in two or three days, and sometimes we create it at our reading group during literacy stations.

Making a book from a predictable chart: 
Type up and print off the wording you need for the sentences.  For the sample we’re showing you here, we printed off a sheet of “I” and “am,” cut them apart, and put them in separate tubs on their work table at a literacy station.  We also typed up the students’ names and had them ready to go!  
Wording for our first book!
The illustrations for our first book are simple hand prints but for other books we have had the children draw their illustrations with a permanent marker and then let them use watercolors to paint the pictures. 

We used these pages first as a bulletin board:
A great bulletin board for Back-to-School Night!

Then we put them into a 3-ring binder for a class book.  We made the cover by printing off the word “I” in different font on different colored paper.  The children love going to the class library to read the “I” Book! 
Our first class book from a predictable chart!

Have fun with predictable charts! 

Thursday, September 5, 2019


Here is a revised post from two years ago about a fun International Dot Day!  We are reposting it in case you missed it the first time:  

September 15 is 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!

Have lots of fun with dots!!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

A Tutorial on How to Flatten Your PDF Resources With PDF Toolkit+ and Acrobat Pro

Linda: Are you new to the world of selling your resources?  Are you overwhelmed and confused about flattening your products that contain clipart?  If you are, then this post is for you! It's a tutorial on how to flatten your PDF resources with PDF Toolkit+ without having to change each slide in Keynote or PowerPoint to an image and reinsert them.  BTW, I am NOT an affiliate for this app and make no money promoting it.  I discovered it about a year ago and want to share how easy and painless it is!    

What is flattening and why must I flatten?
As you create your products and add clip art, there are different layers with different content.  You can’t see them but they are there and the clip art can be lifted out of the document to use elsewhere by the buyer, even if you have added a security password.  That’s why clip artists have Terms of Use that require you to flatten your products.
To merge the layers with this app, each page is changed into an image (png or jpeg) and then you can convert the images back to a pdf. 

Steps with PDF Toolkit+:

1. Create your document and save it as a pdf.  If you are just starting out with this process, you can make a copy of the pdf to try this process. I’m going to use a product for this example: 
My Math Journal For Counting
2. Open the PDF ToolKit+ app.  I purchased it through the Apple App Store for $1.99 - the best money I have spent for creating so far!  Notice there are different tabs at the top.  Click on Text/Images and choose your desired resolution and format at the bottom right corner.  I choose png with a resolution of 300 dpi’s but it does go to 600! 
3. Slide your product pdf into the large empty box and click on Convert.  You can select where you want to save the new images to. I have a folder on my desktop called Untitled and select that one. Hit save and sit back to relax for a minute or two while all the pages of your pdf convert to images! 
How to start converting with PDF Toolkit+
Save your pdf to a folder.

Let the PDF Toolkit+ app do your work for you!

4. When the app is done, you will see a list of all the png’s in the folder.  Select all of them and at this point, you can do one of two things.  You can right click on the highlighted area and open them with Acrobat Pro.  Or you can drag them into a new folder within your product folder to save first.  Why?  Because you can use these images when creating pins, IG posts, previews, etc.  I like to save them into a new folder inside my product folder and then open them with Acrobat Pro.  
Your png's will be listed in the saved folder.

Highlight the list of png's to select all of them for saving.

Save them into a folder within your product folder for use as images.

Right-click in the blue area to open with an app.

Open the highlighted list with Acrobat Pro.

5. Acrobat Pro will ask if you want to create one document from all the images.  Click on yes!  If not, you will get individual pdf’s opening on your desktop! 
In Acrobat Pro, click on Yes for all the images to combine into one pdf.

6. Depending on the size of your pdf, you may need to wait for a few minutes.  Take a break, get a drink, check your email!  When you come back your new pdf will be showing!  
Here's the new pdf but the numbering still labels each page a png.

7. Notice the thumbnail numbering system, Page 01.png, Page 02, png…. I decided that I didn’t want the pages numbered like that in case it confused my buyers.  So I found a quick fix.  First, save the pdf, naming it something other than “binder1” to your desktop.  This one I named “counting” since it’s all about that skill but later I will rename it the full product name.  Now open the Acrobat Pro app and select Create and then Combine Files into a Single PDF.  Slide the pdf into the gray area and click on Combine Files.  Don’t worry that you only have one file - it still works! And it works in the blink of an eye no matter how large your pdf is! 
Open Acrobat Pro and select Create and then Combine Files into a Single PDF.

Even with only one pdf in Acrobat Pro, it will combine files!
8. The numbering is correct now and you are all set to add your links to your pdf if need be and add security: 

I hope this tutorial will help anyone who is trying to flatten their pdf's! Although it appears at first to be quite complicated, you will be able to convert your pdf's in no time at all!  And you won't have to reinsert each png into a new slide in PowerPoint or Keynote.  Please post any questions and/or comments below and I will do my best to answer within 24 hours.