Thursday, February 28, 2013

Great Giveaway!

Happy Thursday!  Make sure you head on over to Teaching and Tapas for an awesome giveaway she is hosting!  I donated a product to the 2nd grade group.  Head on over and check it out!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Tips - Guest Post from Miss Martin

Hi everyone!  I am SO excited to be guest blogging at the Kindergarten Pod today!  I am Miss Martin and you can find me over at Miss Martin’s Classroom.  I have compiled a few of my favorite teaching tips to share with you today.  I hope that you find some ideas that you can use in your own classroom!

Duct Tape Lining Up
This is such a simple concept, but it has worked wonders for me this year.  I grew weary of explaining to my students that I cannot, in fact, open the door while they are squished up against it in line.  To make it as visual and clear as possible, I decided to put a duct tape line on the floor.  But not just any duct tape, I thought…the most visually eye-catching duct tape that I could find!  I bought a sheet of this duct tape from Michael’s and now there is no way that my students can claim not to have seen it! 
(In person it looks like glass so my kids are always trying to get me to admit that it isn't really duct tape and asking if they stomp on it, will it break?  It makes me laugh, but hey, they are seeing it and using it!)

Drawer Labels
When I make something for my classroom, I want it to last, and to change with me over the years.  So putting sticker labels on drawers and items just won’t work for me – what if I want to use those drawers for something else next year?  I found a cheap solution that works so well for me.  

I bought these clear plastic ID badge holders from Walmart.  They come in packs of 12 and cost around $2 or less I believe.  I cut off the end where it can be hung, and taped them to all my clear plastic drawers and magazine holders full of teacher resource books with clear packing tape.  I love labels and this allows me to change them whenever I need!  I just slide in a new paper label and they are ready to go!

Here are the labels on my Weekly Drawers and my resource book holders:

Visual reminders taped to desks
I love using these because they are such a quick reminder to students!  If you have older students or those that are more concerned about what others think of him/her, these are especially helpful because you can discreetly point at them while they are reading without vocally reminding them.  Regardless, students will eventually start using them independently and will become more and more automatic with the rules.  That’s what I love!

Here are some of the visual reminders that I have taped to my tables in my classroom:

I have found that this is an incredibly common issue with children either just learning to read, or those that struggle with reading even when they are older.  This has been incredibly helpful to my kindergarteners, but even my 4th and 5th grade struggling readers admit that they get these mixed up all the time, and I see it when they are reading!

  •         small phonics posters (download here free!) My free phonics posters come 8.5x11 and 4 to a page for exactly this purpose.  This includes “2 vowels,” “bossy e,” “every word must have a vowel,” and “you never see a Q without a u.”

Here is my main reading table.  I just love how it turned out!

Foam or Wood Cubes
I purchased a few sets of these at Dollar Tree a few years ago.  My advice: if you see foam or wooden cubes, stock up!  I have found them to be an endlessly helpful resource.  Besides the obvious uses such as for counters and measurement, I have recently used them to make Word Building Cubes and what I call Math Cubes. It is as simple as writing on the sides with a Sharpie!

There are so many games and lessons that you can use these cubes for, and my students love when I pull them out.  The options are truly endless!

I hope these tips have been helpful for you!  Don’t forget to come back every Tuesday for new Tuesday Tips every week at the Kindergarten Pod!

~Miss Martin

Sunday, February 24, 2013

St. Patrick's Day FREEBIES

Hi All,

I don't know about you but I am feeling EXHAUSTED!  I know it's that mid-year hump but man I'm drained!  February always seems to be speeding from one big theme to the next. I am running a telethon for my school which is taking up SO much time (read lost prep every day!)  Then working on TpT products every night and trying to keep up with the blogging....boy do I need a major vacation!

Well I was working on some products yesterday and I was very unfocused.  I had ideas for certain things I would find useful for March but they didn't seem to have a general theme.....other than they were needed for March. Since I couldn't put everything together in a nice neat package, I decided to just offer everything as a FREEBIE!  It's really a mish-mash of stuff so I hope you can find something useful out of it :)

   * March calendar
   * March Word Wall cards
   * St. Patrick's-themed Math Printable
   * "Find the Pot of Gold" Sight word game
   * March Dibels practice - Real vs. Nonsense Words

Click on the picture to download your freebie :)

I hope you have a great week!


Friday, February 22, 2013

100th Day and A Lesson Learned!

Today we celebrated our 100th Day of School!  It was such a FUN day!!!!  This was probably by far my most memorable day with the kiddies.  Several of them came up to me and said, "this is the best day of school EVER!"

Okay, now for the worst teacher part......we were having so much fun, I didn't take a single picture :(  Not one!  I know, how can I possibly be a blogger and not have any pictures of our day?!?!?!?  I was driving home tonight thinking to myself I can't believe I messed this up.  I had fabulous ideas of posting how we ate 100....a pretzel stick and two Fudge Striped cookies, how we wrote 100 words and filled in our 100 charts.  We had a pajama party to celebrate.  We stopped half way through the morning to dance on the carpet.  How could I have done this!!!  But then I realized I didn't fail.  I actually shared in the fun with my kiddies.  I enjoyed every minute of our celebration today.  I loved taking a step back and seeing how FAR they've come in 100 school days.  Some of my little ones couldn't struggled with writing their names.  Now they are writing 100 words! 

And the absolute BEST moment of my year so far happened today.  Since the first day of school I've had a little bugger darling who is a screamer.  Whenever he gets upset or doesn't have things go his way he opens up and SCREAMS to the heavens.  You can hear him miles away!  Needless to say this has been quite the challenge for me.  I've worked endlessly this year to help correct this behavior.  Well today, while this lil guy was writing his 100 words, he asked me when we are done school.  I told him we were done in June then he asked what happens to him after that. I told him he would go on to first grade.  I watched as his eyes filled with genuine tears.  He looked at me and said, "but Ms. Hill, I love you. I don't want to leave." heart just melted!!!!  He ran over, cried in my arms and gave me the biggest hug!  I don't think I've ever had a sweeter moment with my kiddies.

So, as I was driving home I realized if I was caught up in "capturing those moments," I might have missed the most important moment of the day.  I might have missed the moment to finally connect with this little guy in a way we haven't before.  I'm pretty glad I forgot to take those pictures.  Maybe I'll post some next year :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Exclusive FREEBIE!

I am in the BEST mood ever!  My future hubby just got a job today!!!!  He starts first thing Thursday morning.  I couldn't be happier or prouder of him for not giving up.  I also received some good news on a medical issue today ...... whew!

I'm a rather reflective person. I like to count my blessings and be appreciative for what I have, soooooo I wanted to show all of you how much I appreciate you following my lil ole blog.  I just finished and posted a St. Patrick's Day product for Math, Literacy & Writing activities.  I decided I could offer you a free product out of that.  I created a simple word search activity that is St. Patty's Day-themed that  I want to give to you for free....just because you follow me :)

Now, here's the hard part.  I can't upload the freebie to TpT because then it wouldn't be exclusive to you.  So you can either leave your e-mail address in the comments or you can e-mail me directly at and I will send you the PDF.  I hope you enjoy :)

P.S. I have a feeling this is the first of many freebies :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Great Homework Debate & Saturday Centers!

I enjoyed this week SOOO much because I didn't have a single assessment to complete.  In fact, I can't remember another week this year where I haven't had an assessment to do.  We distributed report cards on Tuesday so really, there was nothing to assess.  YaaaaaaHOO!

Since it was the end of the 2nd marking period, I decided it's time to start providing differentiated leveled homework.  I know differentiated is a huge buzzword in Education these days but let's call a spade a spade.  I have some little kiddos who just aren't catching on as quickly.  And quite honestly, I don't find it "cute" when homework gets turned in and it is obviously completed by the parent.  I mean, c'mon, how dumb do they think we are?!?!?!  Your child spends the entire day with me and can't write their name correctly yet they can go home and magically write a full and complete sentence.......REALLY?

The point of homework in Kindergarten is to provide practice activities.  Our homework is minimal and is an extension of what we do in school. There is always a debate going on about whether or not homework is necessary or even useful.  To a certain extent I think it's both.  I basically have no say in the homework we give.  All of the Kindergarten's give the same exact homework packet.  This is where I disagree.  Not all of my kiddies are where the other classes are and vice-versa.  If I find my students are struggling with a certain skill, I would like to provide an extension activity on that skill.  On the flip side, our homework is benchmark related.  These are the skills the students should be able to complete based on the instruction they receive.  In my opinion, it's a double-edged sword.  You will always have your kiddies that breeze through it and aren't challenged at all, your kids who do "get-it", and the kiddies who just aren't there yet.  So homework is typically only benefiting a third of your class.  That is where I disagree.  But who has the time to create individual homework packets for each of 25 students?!?!?!  Certainly not me, so change will not come completely right now :(

Change will come for 4 of my struggling students.  I decided they are just not getting anything out of the homework I provide for the group.  They still haven't mastered sight words from September and are having a great difficulty with writing.  I decided to get rid of the traditional homework for them and provide printing practice sheets, sight words from the beginning of the year that we are also focusing on in GR, and basic Math printables.  I just finished creating my RTI Math for Kindergarten product which is pictured below.  I am including some of these pages weekly for these struggling kiddos.  Click on the picture to view the product on my TpT page.

This product has 5 pages of activities for each number 1 through 20.  It also includes activities for shapes and patterns as well as an assessment page and recording sheet.  It is designed to help students become secure in identifying each number as well as developing number sense.

Now for Saturday Centers!  In our classroom we are still focusing on those tricky teens to help students who still transpose the numbers.  We are also focusing on addition and ten frames. Here are my Math Centers for the week:

 I made these from a mug template I had.  I simply  inserted
2 tens frames to practice teen numbers.  Students place the correct
number of marshmallows on the "hot chocolate" mug. 

This activity can be found in my Valentine's Day Math Centers packet.
Students choose 1 pink ten frame and 1 purple ten frame to create
and complete an addition problem.  We are on a 6-day center rotation
so this is a carry-over activity from last week.
This is an activity from The Mailbox magazine.  I have wooden
cubes stamped with each coin image. Students roll the coin and
graph the results to see which coin they rolled the most.


This center focuses on building current and former sight
words.  These sight word mats are available for FREE by clicking here :)

We are still working on writing two sentences and adding more details. 
I prefer to allow the kids to use the whiteboards for this activity
instead of going through a ton of paper.  I provide a topic or
they can choose their own.
I created this poster to model 3-Star sentences & adding more
details.  This is the focus of our writing right now.
Hope you can get some ideas from these.  Where do you stand on the homework debate?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

February Activities

Gung Hay Fat Choy!  Happy New Year to you :)

We have been SUPER busy in Kindergarten!  Why is it that all of the holiday's fall in February?  We celebrate Dental Health month, Groundhog's Day, Chinese New Year, Valentine's Day, the 100th Day of School and President's Day.....whew!  I feel like I'm drowning in craft activities but it is a lot of fun.  And the crafts are sooooo adorable! 

Here is a picture that I blogged about last week.  The idea came from wherelse.....Pinterest.  I thought it was absolutely adorable!  I've seen it posted by several people but I can't find any link back to the creator (if you know who created this please let me know so I can credit them.)   How stinkin cute are these?  My kids really "got it" when we put the green string in between the "teeth."  One student even said to me, "I bet it gets really gross between our teeth!"  I think he will be flossing regularly from now on :)

"We need to dental floss our teeth and you need to
keep it clean."

"I have to brush my teeth because food gets stuck in dare." :)

We also discussed Chinese New Year.  This year is the Year of the Snake but I didn't have a cute snake activities so we went with the dragon.  The kids LOVE to make these!!!!  It's a little hard for them to cut out but they really enjoy playing with them when they're done!

We connect the head and tail with red construction paper and
 use colored pipe cleaners so they are moveable.

We also work on a project called "100 Acts of Kindness."  The whole Kindergarten participates then we display all of the hearts.  I have 25 students so each child gets 4 hearts. 

Finally, I realized I never posted a picture of our Hearts for Sandy Hook projects.  We worked on this when we came back to school after Winter Break. The kids did such a great job with them.  I plan to leave them up for the rest of the school year.

Hope you enjoy the pictures.  I will be posting our Valentine's work tomorrow.  We made cute little heart shaped.....thingy's, lol.  They may not have a name but they are cute!  Thanks for reading :)


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Centers

I hope you all had a GREAT week!  It was another busy one in my room!  I've been dealing with a lot of absences in my class.  I had 7 out on Monday, 5 out on Tuesday and 4 out on Wednesday.  It's really hard to move forward teaching new content when 1/3 of your class is absent!  I guess I will have to plan for a little more review time than normal. 

Here are my Math centers from last week:

We are working hard on learning how to use bundles to count.  This activity helps students to count on from a bundle.  I place teen number cards, rubber bands and craft sticks in the center.  Students choose a teen number card and count out that many sticks.  Then they have to bundle 10 sticks together then practice counting on to the given number.

Our district uses the Everyday Math Program. One of the features of this program are Activity Cards that focus on extending lessons.  This activity card focuses on exploration of coins.  I placed small pieces of paper, coins (real) and crayons in the center.  Students complete coin rubbings of each coin.  They absolutely love this activity and it helps them to identify and distinguish between coins. We will begin to focus a lot on coins in the upcoming weeks so I wanted to make sure we start to explore them in a fun way.

 I chose to leave the Geoboards in the Math Center for another rotation.  Some of my students are really struggling with teen numbers so I wanted to give some addition practice with this activity. Although it's not pictured, the cards also have teen numbers for the students to duplicate.

Stay tuned for a post this week showcasing our celebration of Dental Health and Chinese New Year!  Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tuesday Tips!

I can't believe I almost forgot it was Tuesday!  The last two days have been both hectic and fun.  I've had a lot of kids absent again (7 yesterday and 5 today) so it's been kind of nice teaching a small class of 18-20 students.  On the down side, marks closed today so I've been racing to get all of the assessments done.  For just this marking period, we assess
    1.  Letter Rec                                            
    2.  Concepts of Print                                
    3.  Number Rec                                         
    4.  Number Writing
    5.  Phonics - Beginning Sounds
    6.  Running Records
    7.  Twenty-three different math skills

Luckily, we don't have a writing sample due this marking period and our DIBELS testing is in two weeks.  Take all of the assessments above and mulitiply that by's exhausting!

Anyways, I've been scouring the internet looking for some good tips and here's what I came up with for this weeks......Tuesday Tips!

What a great idea!  Just glue a pom-pom or a cotton ball on the end of an EXPO marker and you have an instant eraser!

I found this idea at: Where the Mermaids Murmur (Click picture for link)
Now I don't think that I would use them exactly the same way but these would be GREAT for storing materials according to a given skill.  For example, I could make one binder of just number identification activities, one for letter recognition, one for identifying shapes, etc.  These binders / activities could be used over and over by multiple kiddies which also cuts down on paper.

The next tip is from "What The Teacher Wants." (click pic for link)
I don't know about you but I stopped using liquid glue all together because I only get to use about 1/2 the glue before it clogs up!  This is a great tip for keeping the glue running smoothly!

This one is an oldie but a goodie!  I have a computer that has wires dragging across walking space.  I use bread tags to tie them together and label them for easy reference.

If you have any great tips you want to share, e-mail me at  Thanks for stopping and have a great week!


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Sunday Super Sale!!!!

It's finally here!  Today is the Sunday Super Sale where you'll receive 28% off of EVERY PRODUCT in my store.  I have over 60 products to meet your needs.  Hurray, the items are flying off the shelf!

You will receive 20% off of my products, then enter the code SUPER for an additional 8% off from TpT!  This sale is too good to miss so get on over there!

Here are the links to just a few of my best sellers:
    RTI for Kindergarten:   
    Was $10.00     Sale Price: $7.20

    Kindergarten Morning Work - Part I  
    Was $7.50   Sale Price $5.40

    Kindergarten Morning Work - Part II  
    Was $8.50  Sale Price $6.12

    Arctic Animals Unit     
    Was $8.00      Sale Price $5.76

    Valentine's Day Math Centers   
    Was $6.50      Sale Price $4.68

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday Centers, Assessments and a Little Rant

Whew, what a week!  I feel mentally and physically drained!  Our report cards are due next week and I've been dealing with a lot of absent students.  I still get overwhelmed at the amount of assessments we need for each student.  It really doesn't stop all year.  As soon as I turn in this report card I will begin DIBELS testing, then begin assessing for the next marking period.  I typically only have 1 week between report card periods where I am not assessing.  Is it me or is than INSANE?!?!?!

We had a faculty leadership meeting this week and the frustration on everyone's face was clearly evident.  Everyone is tired of testing.  I don't remember chosing to enter this field because I couldn't wait to test the heck out of kids.  I wanted to enter this field because I love working with little ones, I love taking information and breaking it into pieces, I love watching those "light bulb" moments.  When did it all change?

I truly wish the powers that be could spend time in a classroom!  I wish they could see how much time, energy and STRESS gets placed on testing from students and teachers alike.  Maybe it's just me being overwhelmed but it's just simply exhausting!

Okay, enough of that!  We finished up Day 6 of our centers rotation yesterday which means it's time for new centers.  We currently work on a 6-day rotation of 4 centers per day.  We use center "maps" which are outdated were designed years ago.  I am not a fan of them at all.  On these center maps, kids visit the following centers:  Math, ABC, Writing, Listening and Browsing Box.  The Browsing Box is a reading bin full of leveled readers the kids have completed during Guided Reading.  If you do the math you'll realize we get approximately 13 minutes with each reading group and each group of students visits the same center 3 times during a rotation. 

The reason I am not a fan of this for Kindergarten is there is no room for exploration.  What happened to building blocks, Art, Dramatic Play, etc.?  In addition, the teachers have to play 3 different centers for each subject for each 6-day rotation.  The kids get confused over which activity to complete when they get to that center as well.  I plan to work on changing steps :)

This is my "solution" to try to make it a little easier for my kiddies to understand. 

I purchased these organizers for each center and labeled them 1-3.  If it is their first day at the center they complete the activity in drawer #1, etc.   I use the bottom drawers to store center supplies.

Last week our centers for Math were:

       #1  Geoboards:  I found these cards years ago for free somewhere.  (If they are your's please let
                                  me know so I can give you credit.)  The kids practice making numbers 1-20
                                  with rubber bands.  This is a good activity for fine motor and number

       #2  Roll and Record:  We just finished up our Arctic Animals Unit.  The kids roll the dice, add
                                   the numbers and cover the space.

       #3  Dominoes:  I place teen number cards in the center with the dominoes.  Students practice
                                 identifying the teen number and counting the dots on the domino to find a
                                 match.  This allows practice for number identification and one-to-one
                                 correspondence.  I have them ask a friend to check their work.

Over at the "ABC Center" I introduced a game that I usually complete during whole-group Shared Reading. The kids LOVE this game. 

             #1: "Mix and Fix."  The student makes a sight word on the cookie sheet, shows their partner 
                    the word then scrambles up the letters.  Their partner has to "fix" the word.  This is a
                    great activity for practicing spelling and reading sight words.

              #2:  Whiteboards:  I know this seems like a blah centers but this is SUCH a treat for my
                      kiddies!  They usually practice sight words but we are also working on taking our
                      time and forming letters correctly.

               #3  The last center is the "Sight Word Popcorn" game.  This is another favorite among my
                      kiddies.  I like the game because their are words we've already learned as well as
                      more challenging words.  I love that 5/6-year olds are so eager to help out their friends
                      with a new word. 

The Writing Center has our weekly practice sheets.  On the first day we practice writing our sight words in different ways (write them, trace them, etc.)  On the second day we practice previous sight words in fun ways (they can use colored pencils for rainbow writing, highlighters, markers, etc.)  On the third day they build sentences with sight words.  As you can see I forgot to take pictures of these centers.  I keep these centers in the same format both for consistency and because the kids really like them.  This is the center they really feel most independent with.

This is a "transition" week / rotation for my centers.  We just finished Arctic Animals and Groundhog's Day center and it's too early for Valentine's Day and the 100th Day.  Those will be the next center activities so stay tuned!  Sorry for the long post but I hope you enjoyed reading :)  Have a great weekend!!!

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