Thanksgiving Resources Your Students Will Gobble Up

It's that time of year where I am knee deep into assessments.  My planning game is whatever is going to keep them on task, quiet  and will keep them busy so I can assess.
November teaching resources for kindergarten
Thankfully I use ESGI to assess so I can move about the classroom with my iPad to hide find a quiet corner for me to hear the student.  If you haven't tried ESGI, you must. You can read more about it here.  You can also sign-up for a FREE 60 day trial.  Go ahead treat yourself, what are you waiting for?

Thankfully I do have two half days this week where I will have a sub so I can assess my kids.  This of course is never enough time, but sometime is better then no time.  I will be leaving a lot of independent work for my kiddos.  My class is challenging this year, I'm not going to lie.  Crossing my fingers that my sub shows, I've been out 4 times this year without a sub. Does your district have a difficult time getting subs?

This week we will be going all out Turkey and focussing on Past and Present.  You can click any of the pictures below to find out more about these resources that are available in my TpT store.  Some are for sale, others are FREE.
 The Long Ago and Today resource has an emergent reader and some sorting activities.
Long Ago and Today
The Thankful Turkey is a longtime favorite of mine.  The students will make a boy or girl pilgrim turkey they write about what they are most thankful for, after we discuss the true meaning fo what it means to be thankful.  
Thankful Turkey Writing Craft Activity
Because I need No-Prep in my Life
November No Prep Just Print
We will be making these Turkey Headbands for our Friendship Feast on Friday.
Turkey Headband Craftivity
Friendship Soup-letter to send home (FREE)
Kindergarten Friendship Soup for Thanksgiving
We will be Coloring a Placemat for our Friendship Feast (FREE)
Thanksgiving Coloring Placemat

It will be a busy week we Had Friday off unexpectedly due to the fires here in California, and Monday for Veteran day. We also have the entire week off for Thanksgiving.  Although I'm looking forward to the break, I'm not looking forward to trying to cram in all of my assessments before Friday.  It seems every time I try to start something happens, the phone rings, there's a problem I need to handle a bloody nose... Does this happen to you.

I'm hoping the week goes by without any issue and I can zip right through them.  May you and your family have a fabulous Thanksgiving, just in case I don't write another post.  Have a great week.

Parent Helpers in the Classroom: How to get them and Keep Them

When I first started teaching most of my parent volunteers were stay at home moms.  Times have changed and the odds of getting classroom help is slim.  However, if I do get help I need to do everything in my power to keep it.
Parent volunteers-How to get them, use them, and keep them
Often parents will volunteer one time and then they never come back.  These parents are either scared off or they were just checking in to see what was going on.  For the off chance that they really did want to help,  It is my job to make them feel valued from the minute they walk through my door.
Image result for help wanted
I hope I can give you some tips and tricks to help you snag some parents and keep them all year long.

I have several methods for securing parent volunteers for my classroom.  At Back to School night I have a sign-up sheet to ask parents if they would like to help in the classroom and to list when they are available.

I also post a monthly schedule of when I need parents to come in.  These times are when we have our center rotations.  I let parents know that they will be working directly with students at a center. 

parents sign-up to volunteer to help in the kindergarten classroom.  This lets the teacher know if they have parent help for center time.

When parents arrive/leave... 
I always try to acknowledge their presence and welcome them to our classroom.  As soon as possible I let them know what they will be doing.  I make a point to check in with them to make sure everything is going as planned.  Before they leave, I thank them again for coming and ask if they are able to come again to help.

Other Ways to Help
For parents who aren't comfortable working with children, there are many other ways to support the teacher in the classroom.
  • Making copies
  • Sharpening pencil
  • Collating and stapling
  • Filing paper
  • Mending books
  • Reading to/Listening to a child read
  • Helping with Book Orders
  • Organizing...

At Home Help
For the parents who can't come into the classroom but want to still help.  I leave a box outside my door with an envelope of prep work and directions.  The prep work often includes lamination that needs to be cut out or books that need to be stapled.
parent volunteers, volunteer box, parent helper box
Often it isn't that parents don't want to help, it's that they don't know how they can help or they are embarrassed that they might not speak English.  I encourage my Spanish speaking parents to volunteer.  I let them know that they can help even if their English is limited.  Often just having another person in the room to sit with a group of students to manage materials is helpful.

I hope I have offered a few suggestion on how you can get, use and keep volunteers for your classroom.  If you enjoyed this blog post, please consider subscribing to my email newsletter. Subscribers receive tips and freebies  from time to time. that you will find useful for your classroom.

Sit Spots A Classroom Management Tool and More

Do you struggle with classroom management basics?  Is lining up difficult for your students?  Do you find it difficult for your students to find their space on the carpet?  If you've answered yes to any of these questions= then Sitspots just might be what you are looking for. SitSpots is a great innovative classroom management tool.   SitSpots were created by a teacher for teachers, so they really do work. They are the original too, don't be fooled by the copy cat big names.  Joyce, the founder of this company has been working with teachers to create the best products possible.  I met Joyce many years ago at ITeach K and have been using her products since 2013.
Make lining up a breeze with SitSpots.  No more pushing and shoving or running to be first in line UIs SitSpots

Here is how I use SitSpots in my classroom.  I currently am using the number spots as a line-up strip.  Every student in my class has a designated number.  No fighting on which number they are to stand on.  This also helps to know who is missing in line and helps my littles learn numbers too.  Each week we have a new line leader.  That person stands on a sight word.  What a great way to get that sight word practice in.

I also have the Alphabet letter Spots.  At the beginning of the year, I scattered them about the classroom and played a game similar to musical chairs.  Students walked around the letters, then when the music stops, I'd call a letter.  If they were on that letter then they had to say "I'm on letter ______ ".  The kids love this game.  I like this version because everyone gets to keep playing.
Packs - Alphabet SitSpots

I also have the sight words.  They are scattered about the room.  I am currently using them as standing spots where students wait in line.  I love these because I often hear the kids say "No, you need to wait your turn and stand on the and".
Sight Word Circle Pack (Fry List 1)

If you think these are something you can use click on over to the SitSpots store, they have so many different kinds to choose from.  If you aren't sure if they will work with your carpet, you can request a sample spot too.

Back to School with ESGI

Back to School time means finding out all about your new little ones. The best way for me to do this is with the help of ESGI. This amazing online software tool allows me to quickly asses my students and find out exactly what they know or rather what they don't know.
ESGI comes with pre-made assessments, or you can make your own.  When our students arrived on the first day, they were placed into six groups: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.  Those six groups were then divided into 3 classrooms.  For example I had the red and yellow group to start with. 

For the next three days, each teacher completed the same activities with the students they had while our assistants helped to assess the students that were in our rooms.  During these three days,  the 6 groups were rotated and shuffled.  For example, at one time I had the green and purple, but later I had the red and purple, then the orange and blue groups.  We had three rotations a day, making it so each teacher saw every group at least twice, but most groups 3 times.

On the third day we printed out the assessment scores and ranked our students low, low/medium, medium, medium/high and high.  Next we pulled out students who appeared to be challenging students, or students who we could see should not be placed together in the same classroom.  We divided these students among the three of us teachers first. Then we started our selection process each making sure we had equal numbers of boys and girls in all academic categories. as well as trying to balance out the Non-ELL students.  Our school is a majority of ELL students.

We then reviewed our classes, made any last minute changes before we were ready for our mock class day.  Friday, was our mock class day.  After we took attendance our students were shuffled to what we hoped to be our permanent classes.  We met at lunch to discuss any changes we might need to make.  This year we decided they are all tired, we are tired and it is going to be a challenging year at the start.  At the end of the day every student went home with a letter and a sticker telling their parents who their teacher would be, beginning the following week.

I can't imagine doing the beginning of the year any other way.  In the past the office manager just placed kids on our roster and maybe you'd get lucky with who was in your room and maybe you'd be that teacher who somehow got every kid who had been diagnosed with ADHD and who had never been read to or held a crayon.  This truly helps to sort those students out and make the classes even academically and behaviorally. 

Using ESGI gives us the jump start to be able to tell parents after the first week of school this is where your child is academically and where they need to be.  It has so many great features like the ability to print flashcards and name tags and the parent letters in Spanish are amazing.  We even attach those to our report cards.

ESGI is forever adding new features and their customer service is AMAZING.  Literally on the first day of school minutes before school started I was on the phone with them trying to add a new student and their online support patiently walked me through the process. 

It saves so much time  Try the trial, show the data to your admin or the powers that be, I showed it to our assistant superintendent and I am so thankful she believed in me and so are the other kindergarten teachers n our district.

If you want to try ESGI for FREE for 60 days  Sign-up before September 30th and

  1. Save $40 on the purchase of a license when a promo code is used to start trial
  2. New trial users will be entered into a raffle to win one of ten $50 Amazon gift cards
  3. New trial users will be entered to win one Grand Prize of a $500 Amazon gift card

Fast Finisher Bins First Grade Edition

Happy Summer- For those of you who are now summer vacation- The weather here in Northern California has been really nice.  Now today I can't say that.  I'm finally ready to kick back and relax poolside and there is no sun to be found.

I know many of you can't turn off that teacher brain and some of you like to prep those big projects while you are binge watching Netflix.  I've been working on this project for a while.  I've had many requests for a First Grade version of my Fast Finisher Bins. 
Teacher I'm Don, now what do I do.  Bins for fast finishers

This resource is HUGE.  There are materials to create a total of 30 bins- 15 Literacy and 15 Math.  Your students will be actively engaged while the rest of your class finishes their work.  

These early finisher work bins are easy to prep and easy to store.  All you need are standard pencil boxes or containers of similar size.  Most bins require either dry erase markers, a pencil  or clothespins for students to complete the tasks.  
Early finisher work, Teacher I'm done,now what?
The picture on the top tells what is inside the bin
Open the lid and the picture-directions are inside.

and if you don't have my Kindergarten ones yet, you can grab those too.
Want both sets- you can SAVE money and Buy the Bundle
My next few weeks are super BUSY!!! 
I'm flying to San Diego to GYTO
I have always wanted to go.  Our school doesn't pay for conferences- so this is a huge treat for me.Then I'm heading to the Happiest Place on Earth with a few friends.  Gotta say hi to Mickey and friends.

I'll be back for a week then I'm off to...
Image result for guitar music city
I've never been to Nashville, but I'm going to a conference. My husband and I will go a few days early to do some exploring and of course we have tickets for
Image result for grand ole opry
I'm super excited to see it all.

What are your summer plans- are you going to be at GYTO? I,f so come find me and say Hey.

Kindergarten Mother's Day Tea

Mother's day will be here soon.  Having a mother's day tea is one of my favorite ways to end the school year.  Otten it is the only time the moms can spend time in our classroom.

Our tea isn't really fancy, but We do our best to make it special and I work on teaching the kids a few proper manners to make them feel grown up.  Last year we made paper wrist corsages our of pipe cleaners and coffee filters just like the coffee filter flowers we usually make for our moms.  The moms LOVED them and wore them with pride.

A few days before the tea we color in a placemat and make the flowers.  The flowers are basically coffee filters colors with markers.  Then I spritz them with  water and let them dry.  Later I wrap several together over a wooden skewer and secure with masking tape.  I stick four or five in a Dollar Tree vase on each table.

All of our supplies come from the Dollar Tree; plates, napkins, table cloths, gift bags, tea, cookies, juice.   This year I'll buy muffins as I will be having mine before lunch.

We have 2 set's of twins in Kindergarten that my teammate and I share.  in order for their moms to attend both, we decided that I'd have my tea before lunch and she would have hers after.  Also, I have ticket's to Taylor Swift that night, so I'm leaving at lunch.  So things work out all around.

If you are thinking of having a Mother's Day Te, you can get my easy invitations from TpT here.
I know your students and mom's grandma's aunts or who ever joins them will love it.  And if you have little ones without moms, have the dads come instead.   Also as a last note, I always invite support staff just incase someone doesn't come that way every child has someone special to attend to. 

Literacy Week with Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss week.  Celebrate literacy in your classroom with Dr. Seuss books and activities.  Make a fun Thing one and Thing 2 hat or make Oobleck. for a fun science experiment.

Like many schools across the nation we will be celebrating Literacy Week with Read Across America this week.  Our theme will be Dr. Seuss of course.

These books are always a favorite of my students with their crazy characters and tongue twister texts.  As a teacher, I like the fact that they are filled with sight words that my students can read.   I have multiple copies of books so my students can read together in groups.  I also have them available at our listening center too.

Each day we have something fun planned.
Monday- Crazy Hat day
Tuesday-Crazy Hair Day
Wednesday- Wear Green
Thursday- Red, White & Black Day
Friday- Crazy Sock Day

On Monday we will be making our Thing Hats.  You can grad a copy of my Thing template by clicking on it to download.  The band is just red construction paper and then I used 8 or 9 strips to make the top piece.

Make a Dr. Seuss Thing 1 and Thing 2 hat with this Free download template.  Great for Crazy Hat Day, This fun Dr. Seuss hat is fquick and easy to make.
We will also be do a directed drawing activity of the Cat in the Hat.  Here are 3 other blogs that have directions that are easy to follow.  
Dr. Seuss Week directed drawing in kindergarten
Thursday will be our school-wide Literacy night.  This is one of my favorite nights of the year.  It encourages families to spend time reading and playing reading games with their child. 

I'm hoping to squeeze in some time this week to make Oobleck with my class. 
For some science fun you can read Bartholomew and the Oobleck.  After reading the book make Oobleck and watch your students have fun while they experiment with this non-newtonian fluid.  It can be poured as if it were a liquid, but it can also act like a solid when a force is acting on it.
To make it, all you need are these simple ingredients
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups of cornstarch
  • a few drops of green food coloring
They will experiment with different objects predicting whether they will sink or float.  Then they will write about their experiences with the oobleck.  Grab this Freebie here.  It includes a writing template for our Crazy Sock day.
Read Bathalomew and the Oobleck and have fun with this science experiment for Dr. Seuss week.  Combine literacy and science during Read Across America week.

Have a Great Week Remember...
You're Never too old 
Too Wacky, too wild, 
To pick up a book 
And Read to a child

Free And Easy Teacher Valentines For Students

Teacher Valentines for Students- Free easy valentines with pencil to make and give to your students

Valentines Day is almost here! I haven't even had my 100th day of school yet and I'm already planning for Valentines day.  My students will be making their Family Box Project at home next week.  I know a lot of teachers go over board with their gifts to their students, but I have come to the realization that my kids are really happy with whatever I give them because it came from me. Therefor, a homemade Valentine with a pencil is what they get.

So, years ago I made a valentine for pencils and that is what I have been giving.  It only takes a little bit of time to put together, and is easy.  I watch TV while I'm punching and glueing. 

Of course if you don't have these exact punches these can be cut out.  I find my pencils at the Target Dollar Spot.  In years past the Dollar Tree has been another place to find them too.  I have even included two separate templates for larger solid shape punch a circle or a heart shape.  Just click the picture below to download your FREE TEACHER VALENTINES for students
Teacher Valentines for Students- Free easy valentines with pencil to make and give to your students
Now it is time to get your craft on.  

Valentines Day and Valentines Boxes

Free Valentines Box family project letter.  Have your students create  a fun Valentines Day box at home with their family.  At home projects are a great way to encourage families to spend time together.  This project is great for pre-school, kindergarten, first grade, second, thirds and upper grade students too.            #valentines #valentinesdaybox #valentinesprojectFebruary is a busy month for many kindergarten classrooms.  For me it means celebrating the 100th day of school one week and Valentines day the following week.  Oh, and Family Science Night is somewhere in the middle of all of that.  #tiredteacher.

I like Valentines day to be fun and STRESS FEEE.  I learned a few tricks along the way.  So, if you are a first year kindergarten teacher- READ CAREFULLY.

Do NOT give a student list of names.  No matter how much the parents ask you for one.  Your kids can't write them or read them.  It takes WAY TO LONG for kindergarteners to pass out Valentines with names on them.

Instead, I send home a brief note explaining to parents you will be celebrating, but to only send in cards with their child's name signed on them.  Then when it is time for the cards to be passed out, The kids simply drop a card into each students' box- easy peasy. Another trick is to line all the boxes up in a row across the tables so no boxes are missed.  I usually put on a movie and call up several kids at a time to pass out their cards.

Now for the fun part- We do a Family Box project. Each child is asked to create a box at home with their family.  Some families really get into this.  I also check in with my students to make sure they all have supplies.  If I find out someone doesn't, I send home a few sheets of paper, some stickers and a box.  I also always have a few extra pre-made boxes on hand just in case someone doesn't bring one.  We have the boxes due a few days before Valentines day, so anyone who doesn't do it on time, actually still has time to finish it.

I am always amazed at the creativity of the boxes.  The feedback I get from the parents is always great.  Many of the families tell me how much they really enjoyed making the boxes with their child.

If you would like a copy of my note just click on the picture below.
Free Valentines Box Project Letter,  This is a fun family involvment pojrct for Valentines Day.  Families work together to crate a Valentines day box. for their child.  The boxes are easy and fun to create.  The directions are in English and Spanish.
I can't wait to see what my families share this year.  I know they will be AMAZING!!!

How to Prepare the 100th Day of School

How to Prepare for the 100th Day of School, Time4Kindergarten, 100th day of school activities for kindergartenIt's that time of year when you look at your hundreds chart and think  oh no!!! the hundredth of school is almost here and I haven't prepared. What do I do?  Have no fear.  I've got your back.  It is a day that I love.  I think about it long before it arrives.  Each year our entire school celebrates and this year I plan for it to be bigger and better than last year.

I have taken a few ideas from my Pinterest board to create a banner. A I can hardly wait for February 5th.
100th day of school ideas on pinterest, time4kindergarten
We are a primary school, which means we are only K-2nd.  Each classroom celebrates in some form.  Most classrooms will be doing some sort of 100th day project either as a family project like I do or as an in class project.  School wide we also do a canned food drive for our local food bank. I like to turn this into a math lesson.  We group the cans by tens and practice our counting.  We like to make it a friendly competition with the other classrooms too.

This year to prepare, we will be make hats on the Friday before.  We will also be coloring in the numbers for our necklaces.  This will give us plenty of time to have fun, fun, fun on Monday.
100th day of school hat, time4kindergarten
100th day of school hat, time4kindergarten
100th day of school necklace, time4kindergarten
So, what do we do on the 100th day of school? We, make a 100th day snack using a ten frame.  After they place ten items on the frame they put their snack in the bag and move on to the next bowl and fill up their ten frame again and repeat until they have moved all the way through the line.  It works so well.
100th day of school, Time4kindergarten
100th day of school snack, Time4kindergarten
Last year I made labels for their ziplock bags ahead of time;  because you know someone always puts down their bag and then they have no idea where their snack is. You can get a copy of my labels here.  I use the Avery 8163 label to print on.  All you need to do is just highlight the part that says Name and type in your students' name.  You will not be able to change any of the other text on the label. Just change names, print, stick and done.
 100th day snack label, time4kindergarten, 100th day of school
Snack Sign-Up List 
We make also make a necklace. First they color in the numbers, then cut out the circles.  Next, using a ten frame card and some Fruit Loop type cereal they count out ten pieces of cereal, string and add the number 10, then repeat adding the number 20 and so on...
100th Day of school necklace,Time4Kindergarten100th Day of school necklace,Time4Kindergarten100th Day of school necklace,Time4Kindergarten
We will be writing our numbers from 1 to 100
100th Day math, write to 100, Time4Kindergarten
We will round out the day with some writing too. 100th day writing, I wish I had 100, Time4kindergarten
We usually end our day with a school tour of all the classrooms that participated in the 100th day project.  We have so much fun walking through all the rooms looking at all the creative and unique ways to celebrate our special day.

All of these ideas can be found in my Hooray for the 100th Day pack.  
Hooray for the 100th day, Time4Kindergarten, Celebrate the 100th day of school
We only have a few weeks until our big event.  How many days do you have?
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