Winter Books and Centers for Kindergarten

Winter is here and that means snowflakes, snowman, arctic animals and penguins.  January is always jammed packed full of frosty fun.  It is also that time of year when our kids start to really take off and we see that burst of learning and lightbulb moments.

Last week we read my all time favorite book, The Snowy Day.  Then we made this adorable art project.  I've been making this for years, so if you've been a follower, you've seen this before.  If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know that the template for Peter was this months Free download.
The Snowy Day art project using snow paint. A kindergarten art project.  Create snow paint by mixing glue and shaving cream together until it is thick use more cream than glue.  Than dab the mixture onto the paper making peaks as if you were covering a lemon merengue pie.  Let dry overnight or longer.  Add Peter the next day.#thesnowyday #ezrajackkeats
Books about Snow. Snow themed books for kindergarten and first grade.
The following section contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, to purchase the product or any other products from this website, I'll receive a commission.  I use the money to purchase items such as books, cardstock and lamination for my classroom

We've been reading a lot of snow themed books, I have collected quite a few over the years.  
Here are few of my favorites

For more Snow books check out these books 

Centers this month are from my Winter Math and Literacy Centers for Kindergarten.  There are enough centers in this resource to get me through the entire month of January.

winter themed centersWinter themed centersWinter themed centersWinter themed centers
Winter Themed Centers
winter center themes for kindergartenwinter center themes for kindergartenwinter center themes for kindergartenWinter center themeswinter themed centers for kindergarten
Leave me a comment about what theme you are learning this month; snow, penguins, polar bears???  Is there a resource you need more of?  I'm here to help.

 Have a great week.

Wood Slice Snowman Ornament Parent Gift

Do you need a quick an easy parent gift?  Every year I struggle with coming up with a parent gift for my students to make.  This year, we are making these wood slice snowman ornaments.  These are inexpensive and easy to make with small children.

snowman ornament parent gift easy
The following section contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, to purchase the product or any other products from this website, I'll receive a commission

Below are different options for wood slices.
    Supplies Needed:
    Wood Slices (See Above)
    White acrylic Craft paint  (Bought at Michaels)
    Craft foam sponge Brush (Bought at Michaels)
    Orange Sharpie Paint Marker  (Bought at Michaels)
    Black Sharpie or Paint Marker  (Bought at Michaels)
  1. Paint one side of the wood with white paint and let it dry. I wrote the name of each student on the backside before they painted.
  2. Using the black marker make two dots for eyes
  3. Use the orange paint marker for the nose
  4. Make the mouth with the black marker- making 6 small dots.
  5. Once the orange paint has dried.  Have students paint the backside white, then sign their name and year.
The wood slices come with the twine for stringing to hang as well.  Everything you need for a class set is less then $25.00

 Have a great week.

December Activities for Kindergarten Elves, Gingerbread Men and More

With Thanksgiving over we are on the countdown to Winter break.  In the next few weeks come so many of my favorite classroom activities and traditions. I just love this time of year.

Beginning December 3rd we will be having a visit from a very special holiday friend who will be bringing our class letters and encourage us to be kind to one another and perform random acts of kindness. 
Holiday Letters from an Elf Gingerbread Man Penguin Reindeer and Snowman
Here is a link to past activities I have done.
My favorite is the directed drawings of their elf.

We will also have a week of Gingerbread man fun.  All of are centers will be Gingerbread themed, we will end the week with a Gingerbread Man hunt
Gingerbread Math and Literacy Center BundleGingerbread Man Activities
Just look at that big cookie- you can find a link to the pan I use in my Amazon store below.
Gingerbread Man chase through the school.
For more Gingerbread themed items and books visit my
Amazon Store 

These are just some of the books we will be reading
The following section contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the product links, to purchase the product or any other products from this website, I'll receive a commission

This month we will also be making a few different ornaments for our families, I'll be sharing those later on.  Be sure to sign up for my Newsletter.  There you receive awesome freebies you can't get anywhere else.

I'm off to stock my cart for the Cyber sale and possibly buy a few more books on Amazon.

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.

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