Friday, December 30, 2011

Time to Shift Their Perspective

Although our mid-year doesn't technically begin until mid-January, I use our return from the holidays to shift my classroom's behavior perspective. I no longer call them "Kindergarteners", but instead they're "Almost First Graders".  When things start to get a bit tougher, like their reading and math assignments, I point to the sign and urge them to Get Ready For First Grade. I also go back to our reading charts from September and show them how much they've already accomplished. It's a long haul until Spring Break, and every bit of encouragement helps!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cereal Box Puzzles

This was so easy, and the kids tell me they're doing it at home! Have each child bring you an empty cereal box from home. You can get fellow teachers to donate some of theirs for those children who don't bring one. Cut off the front, then cut into "puzzle" pieces. Store in a plastic baggie. Keep the bags in a box for them to sort and pick from. (Hint: use a paper cutter instead of scissors. Much easier!)
Extra hint: later on you can re-cut the pieces into smaller sizes to increase difficulty!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Quick and Easy Science Lesson - Static Electricity

All it took was a simple balloon. I rubbed it on one child's head (make sure child has fine, longish hair so that it'll stand up.) I left the balloon out for the kids to play with during center time, and almost every child in class took turns standing in the mirror and doing the trick!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Quick and Easy Christmas Ornaments

We made these this year for our classroom tree, and to ultimately give to the parents. I would have loved to have put each child's photo in the middle of the trees (after glueing a backing on them), but the photos didn't come in on time.  Also, I used red ribbon to hang the trees after putting a gold star at the top. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Recommended Site! TEACHER TIPSTER dot COM

The site blurb reads "Are you a new teacher just wondering where to start? A veteran teacher that just needs a spark? We've got what you need at!"

You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.
Website located here.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Left vs Right

This sight has become a common occurrence in my room. When I tell someone to go in a particular direction (ex: "It's on your left.", "Put it on the right side of your paper."), they hold up their hands with their thumbs and forefingers held out. Why? Because the "L" hand is the LEFT hand!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Christmas Pickle

The last week before Christmas, we do a "Christmas Around the World" theme. We learned that Germany has a Christmas pickle tradition, so I took this a step further. Starting the first school day in December, I tell the class about the pickle, and tell them I will hide the pickle out in the open in the room. The first person to find it gets a treat. My class has been very enthusiastic about it!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Candy Cane Patterns

A great way to review patterning is to have the children make candy canes! After reviewing the different kinds of patterns we've learned so far (AB, AAB, ABB, AABB), each child gets a sheet of construction paper with a single black line drawn on it (for them to follow.) They also get a strip of red and a strip of white construction paper. They tear the strips into small pieces and glue them onto the pattern (fine motor skills!). When they bring their finished work to me, I have them identify which pattern they used.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Why Some Tools Work and Others Don't

I recently saw this math suggestion at another site, and my first reaction was, "COOL!". But then I realized this particular activity wasn't going to be worthwhile for my kids. Why?

First off, it has everything going for it. It has a seasonal touch. It emphasizes fine motor skills, plus one-to-one correspondence and counting. So what's wrong with it?

It has no verification. A child could put four buttons on that 7 snowman. And unless I'm able to catch his mistake, the child would learn nothing from doing this concept builder. And he would go happily on his way putting the wrong number of buttons on each snowman until he either tired of the game, or I rang the bell signaling an end to the session.

But there is a way to fix this!
1. Have the child work with a partner, preferably paired with an opposite. (Ex: strong with weak) That way the student with the stronger math skills can help correct errors as soon as they're made.

2. Have a fixed number of buttons. If there are, say, 5 snowmen to work with, and each snowman has a specified number of buttons to place on it, have that exact amount of total buttons in the bag. So if the child has to put 6 buttons on the last snowman, but there's only 3 left to use, he knows he miscounted somewhere and has to go back to find out where.

I'm very careful about using "open-ended" activities that don't provide a way to check/correct errors. If the students are supposed to get some good out of these cute centers, then there has to be some accountability to them.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Reaching the Wall Switch

Just had to share. Some of my Kinder kids are tiny. I mean shorter than a yardstick. Which means in many cases they can't reach the bathroom light switch. I solved that problem by keeping a ruler tied with a length of yarn and hanging it on the doorknob. So whenever one of my little ones needs to potty, they can turn on the light by themselves.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Poem

This is the month of December.
It's time for Santa Claus!
With jingle bells,
And Christmas trees,
And love for everyone!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Fun Fun Fridays!

We call Fridays FUN FUN FRIDAYS! Besides reading our readers backwards (excellent way to see if they can read the words instead of having memorized them), we do something totally unexpected.

Today, we spent all in-class time without our shoes.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A List of Nearly 50 Great and FREE Reward Ideas!

A List of Reward Ideas

Effort has been given to provide a combination of reward ideas suited for both primary and intermediate students.
1.        Sit at the teacher's desk.
2.        Take care of the class animals for the day.
3.        Have lunch with your favorite person.
4.        Have lunch with the principal.
5.        Join another class for indoor recess.
6.        Have the teacher phone parents to tell them what a great kid you are.
7.        Draw on the chalkboard.
8.        Be first in line.
9.        Do only half an assignment.
10.      Choose any class job for the week.
11.      Choose the music for lunch. Bring in a tape.
12.      Take a tape recorder home for the night.
13.      Use colored chalk.
14.      Do all the class jobs for the day.
15.      Invite a visitor from outside the school.
16.      Get a drink whenever you want.
17.      Use the pencil sharpener any time.
18.      No early morning work.
19.      Take a class pet home overnight.
20.      Be a helper in the room with younger children.
21.      Help the custodian.
22.      Help the secretary.
23.      Help the librarian.
24.      Stay in at recess to play a game with a friend.
25.      Use stamps and ink.
26.      Invite a friend from another class into the room for lunch.
27.      Use the teacher's chair.
28.      Work in the lunchroom.
29.      Take a class game home for the night.
30.      Choose a book for the teacher to read to the class.
31.      Move your desk to a chosen location.
32.      Keep an animal on your desk--stuffed or not stuffed.
33.      No homework pass.
34.      Lunch with the teacher.
35.      Operate the projector.
36.      Use the couch or beanbag chair for the day.
37.      Go to another class for lunch.
38.      Use the computer.
39.      Be the first to eat.
40.      Use the tape recorder and tape a story.
41.      Have a special sharing time to teach something to the class, set up a display etc.
42.      Be leader of a class game.
43.      Go to the centre or your choice during play centre time.
44.      Extra centre time or extra recess.
45.      Read to a younger child.
46.      Read to someone else.
47.      Get first pick of recess equipment.
48.      Get a fun worksheet.
49.      Choose a movie for the class to watch.
What would you like to add for number 50?

(Found here at CanTeach.)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quick and Easy Science Lesson - Which Ice Cube Will Melt First?

In four bowl I put an ice cube. One bowl had a plain one, one bowl had salt sprinkled on top, one was wrapped in foil, and the fourth was wrapped in the plain brown paper towel available at school.

We set up the experiment, then then I polled the class to see which one they believed would melt first. After about an hour, we checked the status of the ice cubes and made our conclusions. Then we discussed how and why some melted faster than others.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Wow! Neat Site for Songs!

Check out this neat sight of simple and easy piggyback songs you can use to help teach letter sounds and basic language arts/reading!

Monday, November 21, 2011

What Kindergarten Teachers Wish Parents Knew

Kindergarten is an exciting and critical time in your child’s development and growth. You can play an important role in this wonderful journey. Here’s what kindergarten teachers want parents to know:

1. Your job isn’t over when you drop your little one off at school; it has only just begun. Your child’s teacher wants to be your partner. Keep them informed about what goes on at home that might affect your child’s behavior or academic performance. Share with them how what they do at school affects your child at home.

2. This is not your grandfather’s kindergarten. Sadly, much of what happens in kindergarten is driven by high standards and preparation for standardized tests. The expectations of what children need to know when they enter kindergarten are closer to what used to be expected in 1st grade. To boost your child’s academic skills:
  • Talk with her about what interests her.
  • Encourage her to be curious and ask questions.
  • Point out letters and numbers when you see them in books and around town.
  • Support her in solving everyday problems.
3. The more self-control your child has, the more successful he will be in school. Children need practice in deciding how and when to express their feelings and needs, and when and if to act on impulses. Help him develop and practice these skills at home before he tests them at school, where the consequences are a loss of learning for him and for others.

4. Make yourself known. Come in. Look around. Peruse the textbooks and materials. Knowledge is power. When you know about the subjects your child is studying, you will be able to help her better and have a common understanding for discussion. Volunteering is a wonderful way to learn about what goes on at school and to show your child how much you care about what she is doing.

5. Your child needs lots of opportunities for play outside of school. Play is the way in which he learns about himself and the people and world around him. But more often than not, play has been squeezed out of the school day. Playing both alone and in small groups helps facilitate learning and allows your child to practice skills and concepts.

6. Reading to your child once a day is not enough. Try to read together at least three times a day. Books are the gateway to building vocabulary, learning about print, and developing listening and early literacy skills. When you read, talk about the book. Discuss the characters and setting, make predictions, and create new endings. Point out letters and words in the text, and encourage him to recognize rhyming sounds and words and to identify beginning and ending sounds.

7. Writing exploration at home is critical. Your child needs to have opportunities to use pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, and other writing instruments as she attempts to express herself in written form. She begins with scribbles and lines, moves on to letters and her name, and then to words and sentences.

8. Homework is an opportunity for talking, sharing, and listening. Teachers give homework to extend the learning of the classroom. It is a chance for you to find out what your child is studying and how well he is grasping the skills and concepts being taught at school. Talk with your child about his homework. It shows him that you care and value what he does at school.

9. Television and video games use up valuable playtime. Limit screen time. The hours spent with these electronic devices could otherwise be spent talking, reading, or actively learning through play.

10. First-hand experiences are another teacher for your child. Take her to museums, the zoo, the aquarium, the library, parks, arts performances, and geographic locations such as the mountains, beach, forests, and deserts. And do it often. She’ll grasp concepts and skills better if she has experiences with the real thing.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Our Reusable Easel

We don't have paper we can use for the easel, and this easel has a wooden backing. So I took a sheet of white bulletin board paper (the kind that comes in those big fat rolls), cut off two sheets, and laminated them. (One for each side of the easel. Now my kids can draw and color with markers or tempra paint. And when they're done, they use a wet paper towel to clean off and start over.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Q is for "Quilt"

Using old wallpaper books, each child made a "quilt square".
We'll "stitch" them together tomorrow to hang out in the hallway.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The 10 Bracelet and Number Sentences

Taking a cue from another teacher on Pinterest, I had each student make a bracelet out of pipe cleaners and 10 beads. In the past when we've worked on number sentences, we used manipulatives like unifix cubes or little bears, etc. But the children loved having their own bracelet they could keep in their cubbies and use for math time.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Ideas, games, activities, and all categorized by holidays, topics, etc. There's Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies... I could go on and on, but you check it out here!

As always, if you lose track of the site, I've included it on my list of teacher sites here on the left.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pumpkin Math

We figured out the circumference of our class pumpkin by using a length of yarn. Then we measured the yarn using several differnt objects such as pencils, popsicle sticks, paper clips, unifix cubes, and markers. After marking our findings in a graph, we discussed more, less, and figured out that the smaller the object, the more we needed.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Of Ghoulies and Ghosties...

Lay hand down on black construction paper, fingers closed. Trace hand with white crayon. Fill in ghost. Use black crayon to make mouth. Add googly eyes. Voila! A "spooktacular" piece of art!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Need Ideas for Great Science Experiments?

Go to for many quick and easy experiments, as well as videos! (I've also added the site to my list.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Witchy Fingers

I was having trouble with the students covering up the words they were trying to read, so I bought a bag of those witchy fingertips, and now my class is using them to help track words as they read!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Friday, October 14, 2011

New Recommended Site!

This unique site teaches math from grades Pre-Kindergarten through algebra. What I've done is put a direct link to the Kindergarten page on my classroom computers for my kids to click on when it's labs/centers time. And, as always, if you want to come back later to this page but can't remember the site name, I've added it to the Favorites side of this blog.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Check Out My Blog Roll!

Check out all the neat Kindergarten blogs I have listed on the left-hand side!
If you'd like to be added, just post a comment and your URL, and I'd be delighted!