Monday, August 29, 2011

100 Free Tools to Make Teaching More Entertaining!

Not sure how I stumbled across 100 Free Tools to Make Your Teaching More Entertaining, but I did.  Check it out... has come amazing resources you may not have seen yet!  My favorite... Kidpedia!  Kids love it!  Lots of twitter applications, interactive websites, and other professional resources.  Hop on over to see!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Do You Still Have a Crier?

Do you still have a crier?  Here are some ways to deal with it!

1.  Love, love, love!  Some kids just need love.  Make them feel special and wanted once they do get calmed down so the next day they have not anxiety over being at school.

Head on over to Simply Kinder to see the other 6 tips for handling tricky kids!


Colors Everywhere!

So this week we have started our color unit!  That's right people, not all kindergarteners come to school knowing their colors!  (Said with love of course, but we early childhood teachers often have to justify why we teach color.  Especially now that it is not a explicitly a part of the Common Core.)  So we are considering colors vocabulary, adjectives, as well as the precursor for sorting which is still a standard.

So here are some fun ideas for colors!

1.  Class Books!  We make a class book for each color.  After we make our Circle Map of all the things for a particular color, the kids pick their favorite and make a page for our book about.  "A ____ is red."  I will quickly go around and write in what the student has drawn.  I then bind these pages into one book and place it in our library.  The kids will read it all year!  I have placed a free copy of these on my TpT account for you to enjoy!

2.  Another activity I do that the kids are growing to love is our Color Tree Maps.  Here the kids sort pictures if they are that color or if they are not that color.  I have all 10 colors also available on my TpT account.

3.  Another really fun thing my new school does as a part of tradition is has the entire community dress up in a particular color on certain days.  I LOVE THIS!  On red day, EVERYONE wore red... students, teachers, and even parents!  It really pulled us together as a group and I just love it!  During class we have sorted each other by who is wearing the color and who is not and we have counted how many people have red shirts or socks.  It has really lent itself to so many fun activities!  Here are some labels I created for my students to remind them what color is tomorrow!  I print them on Avery 5160 and then mark that color on the labels quickly before I stick them on the students!

Please enjoy and share any activities you may do for colors!


Friday, August 26, 2011

Confession Friday!

This has been week #2 for having kids but only week #1 for the kids I have because of teacher changes.  Ugh!  I have so many confessions for the week!  Where do I start?

1.  I cried this week, several times over lots of things that were really unimportant in life and useless and petty!  Starting a new year at a new school is ridiculously hard!  I try to assume positive intent all the time but with some people but that does not always work out.  (And that's all I have to say about that!)

2.  I confess, I missed my duty this week!  Ooops.  Not used to the whole 6 day schedule thing!  I also almost  missed my special which our very nice music teacher called to remind me when I was only 5 minutes late.  Can you believe she did that?  So nice!

3.  I was asked to be less efficient this week... like seriously.  I confess, if that is all you can come up with that I am super efficient, I am totally cool with that!  I am not going to mess up just to make someone feel more comfortable or happy!

4.  I have a classroom with 10 languages in it!  That's right 10!  I confess I am only used to two languages, English and Spanish!  I confess, I keep speaking spanish to kids who speak Bosnian or Arabic!  So I met with some parents and asked them to give me key words so I can learn their language too!  (Sort of excited about that one!)

Anyone else feel the need to confess anything... please join in!  (And have  a great weekend everyone!  Relax a little!)


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sure Fire Ways to Win Over Parents!

Having parents on your side is probably the most important part to building a positive learning community with your kids!  Here's some easy tips to help you get the year started off right with your families.

1.)  Always smile and make small talk!  

2.)  Always have your kids blow kisses and wave to parents you may see on campus.  "Wave to Sara's Mommy."

3.)  Take the time and do something extra for your families the first day of school.  This year I sent home bags of popcorn that said "Celebrate ___'s first day in kindergarten."  Cost me $5 for a classroom set of microwave popcorn.  Head on over to my TpT to see the certificate!

4.)  Make a big deal about sending supplies in.  Parents spend their hard earned money buying crayons and pencils, so let them know you appreciate their donation even though you may not need any more crayons!  I send home thank you notes that I have pre-made where I just have to write the student's name.  

5.)  Also make a big deal about the first time the parent does something nice for you.  Just yesterday I had a parent come in 15 minutes before school was out and I had her stuff my backpacks.  Did she have to do that, no... she could have spent time with her own child.  But instead, she helped me!  I really do appreciate that and I want her to know that!

6.)  ALWAYS make the first conversation you have with a parent a positive one!  Even if the child was bouncing off the walls or whatever.  Chances are, that if that child is having issues, they may just know know how to act in school.  Find something positive to share with the parent.  (By all means, don't tell them they were prefect, but tell them they really listened during a story or really did good writing their name.) 

7.) Always make the parent feel as if you are on their side.  Stand up for what they believe in even though you may have to go to bat with whoever.  Parents are should be considered one of our customers and it is our job to provided them the best experience with the school as possible.  In order to foster that trust, you have to make the parents feel as if you are 100% on their side.  (You can explain to them school policies etc, but never make parents feel as if they don't have a choice, because they do!)  

8.)  I am a firm believer in COLLABORATION!  Parents need to feel as if they are a part of the team and you have the power to foster this relationship!  Do whatever it takes to make them feel included.

A fellow teacher recently told me that it is the parents' job to get involved not our to involve them.  I could not disagree any less than 100%.  

Bottom line is... every parent does the best they can with the cards they have been dealt and WHY NOT help them along if they need it?  In the long run it's only going to help the student be more successful in life!  And I don't know about you... but I won't participate in anyone holding anyone else back in life!

Hope everyone is having a great school year so far!  Things are settling down for me so I should be a little more present!

Have a great day!


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Before and After Classroom Pictures

Many blogger have linked up to share photos of their classrooms (and couple readers contributed too which is exciting!)  So here are my official before and afters!  This is what I started with...

And here is what I will start the day with tomorrow!  I literally am down to the wire, lesson planning this evening, putting out name tags tomorrow!  I have NEVER been so down to the last minute but getting my room in order took a long time!  So here they are:

Almost a full shot.

 My literacy center (with a tub not put away... oops.)

Notice no SmartBoard.. tear!

My carpet area.

Then here is my bulletin board that I do every year and LOVE.  I do it during Meet the Teacher night while parents are filling out paperwork.  It gives me a good indicator who knows colors and can write their name.  

Overall my room is very colorful... even though it does not look that way from here.  There is also another yellow and pink bulletin board I did not post.  If want to see other rooms (both before and after pictures) stop by the linky party... right here at Empowering Little Learners!  (Click below to be directed there!)

I am really excited about my little sister's room!  She just graduated from ASU and is going to be teaching second grade.  Her classroom is all racing themed... even down to their jobs!  It's absolutely adorable.  I will link her pictures up soon too!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Planning for Patriot Day - Book, Song, and Class Handprint Flag!

That's right people... Patriot Day this year is just around the corner. I know ALL of us are busy planning the beginning of the year, but if you take a few moments right now you will find some amazing ideas to help the discussions of 9/11 in your classroom.

I want to start by sharing some amazing work with you from Debbie Clement.  Debbie is an amazing singer and author and she has done just that for us!  First is her amazing song called Red, White, and Blue.  This song is simple enough that our little learners will catch on quickly!  Here is a video of her during a staff development singing with teachers!

She also authored a book by the same that just won an Indie Award - HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT!  This is a picture book that is again very appropriate for little learners.  It really is am amazing story itself and an amazing story how she created the concepts for it.  Be sure to head to her blog Rainbows Within Reach to read all about it!

She is giving away 11 signed copies of the book that include the CD of the song.  Visit these sites to enter for copies!  

So one patriotic project I did that I now vow to do each year and mail to the troops is a class flag!  This idea came as I was responding a to post on The Organized Classroom Blog about patriotic bulletin boards (from Kristen).   Starting this year I am going to make a class flag and mail it (somehow) overseas as a thank you from my class.  I really think this will help have a general discussion with my little learners that if fun and not too heavy in content.  

It was very simple to make, just a cut piece of fabric, tempra paint, star cutouts, students, and time!  The red lines were simple, just try to keep them straight.  The blue starts I taped tagboard stars to the fabric and continued with blue handprints.  

I hope that you will stop by Rainbows Within Reach and take a liking to Debbie Clement as much as I have.  And also maybe that you will be inspired to do a flag like I vow to do and mail it overseas!  

Also head on over to Sunny Day's in Second Grade for other patriotic activities!


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Please join the discussion!

So I am leading am Early Childhood discussion board at  It is a brand new venture for the website and me.


I have posted four topics thus far....

Literacy and Math Ideas - it's going to be a running list of nothing but great ideas to use with our little learners!  Stop by and leave a your favorite idea or link to a post or idea on the internet!  These are my very first two posts in the board and they will be open and active 24 hours a day!

1 Word 4 Quality Teacher - All this beginning of the year teacher prep has really had me thinking about what a quality teacher really is.  What is a quality early childhood teacher to you?  I will do more one word discussions in the future... but always feel free to leave more than one word!

Do you feel the pressure? - Let's be real and talk about it!  Please keep it constructive, but let's tell the educational world what we as teachers face in early childhood!  Why are certain things ok or no ok.  What really happens?  What do you see your peers do that may or may not be OK?  Sound off and be heard on a bigger level!

Charity Preston from The Organized Classroom and Teacher Blog Traffic School is also heading up a group.  She is AMAZINGLY brilliant and you will definitely want to join her group as well!  Her group is discussion board on Primary Grades.  Another must see for great ideas!

Thanks again for your continued virtual friendships!  I have only been in this crazy world for about two months and I have learned so much about teaching and learning from all of you!  I heart you all!


Monday, August 8, 2011

Music in Class! (You may have never guessed!)

So I my favorite song to use in my classroom is one you may not think for a kindergarten classroom!
But it's true, my favorite song to use in class is Ain't No Mountain High Enough!  What a great message for kids to learn!  Believe it or not... they will be singing it on their own!  (And even at the end of the year, you can't not sing the song with a pretend microphone dancing all crazy!)

Another artist I love is Jim Gill!  His songs are shorter than some of the other artists for little learners!  Here is a song I love from him!  It's an alternative to Tooty Tah that the kids just love!

And one more artist I just found that I am excited to use this year is Debbie Clement!  Her songs are so bright and just scream sunshine!  I can't wait to sing this one with my kids!  Be sure to visit her blog Rainbow's Within Reach... she has so many fun things for her readers!

Learning Ahoy is having us link up to share our favorite classroom songs!  Stop by to see other blogger's favorites!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Back To School Freebies!

So I have been busy setting up my room and getting ready for the upcoming year.  I officially start tomorrow with my planning week and get kids on the 16th!  I am excited to be at a new school and have some creative control!  So I wanted to share a few items with you for the start of the year.

And one last freebie I already posted but you want just now be wanting to snatch.  It's my student of the week activity.  Again, totally free on TpT.  Print these on legal size paper, and again, feel free to change if you need to!

(Blogger is not allowing me to link it, but it's in my TpT store... the link is just to the right!)

I wish everyone a great school year.  More to come as I settle into a routine!



Monday, August 1, 2011

V is for Volcano! (And a few other letters too!)

I have several favorite letters of the Alphabet!  Here's what I do to make them fun for little learners!

V is for Volcano!  I take a styrofoam up and form foil over the top of it so that the hole in the cup becomes the part of the volcano that erupts and the foil is the mountain.  We don't paint it or anything, the kids get it!  I place a few spoonfuls of baking powder in it and then pour in some vinegar and wait for it to erupt!  Add some fun with food coloring or glitter!

P is for Popcorn!  You would be amazed how many kids don't know that popcorn actually is corn that pops!  What better way to learn this than popping popcorn with the top off.  We put sheet on the ground, sit around the edge, and let the kernels fly!  While we are waiting for it to pop we say /p/ /p/ /p/.  Then we dig in... well I distribute into small cups so kids don't step on it.  Popcorn makers are under $20 and you can use them throughout the year for a fresh snack!

S is for Spaghetti!  I burn it every year... I seriously do!  Spaghetti can easily be formed into an S shape!

X is for Xray!  Kids love this because I show the kids x-rays of my teeth.  (Dentists are probably the easiest place to get copies of your x-rays!)  The kids then

Head on over to Learning with Mrs. Parker to see other fun ABC activities!  If you are not on her schedule for a letter she said it's still OK to link up!

Have a great day!