Welcome to Paula's Primary Classroom! This blog is where I share ideas for teaching and learning with families, friends and other early childhood educators. Please don't use the photos or text of this blog without permission, but please do use any ideas you find useful. Thank you for stopping by!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Happy Holidays Kinderfriends Blog Hop

Welcome to the #Kinderfriends holiday blog hop!  We know there are many celebrations going on at this time of the year, and thought we'd share some fun ideas about ways to celebrate - and we're throwing in some freebies and a gift for one of you, because who doesn't like holiday gifts?!

Last week I saw a lovely idea for making a hand print menorah, but couldn't find the print out to use for it.  Not to worry, I put one together, and the children made their hand prints, drew on flames, and added a die cut shamash (the helper candle).  My sample isn't nearly as cute as children's hands are, but it will at least give you the idea.  :-)  Want a copy?  Here you go!
Would you like to play the dreidel game while you're talking about Hanukkah, but don't know how?  Today a friend pointed me to this awesome video tutorial - it's not for the little kids, but once you know how it works, you can teach them!  Over the years I've taught this game to many, many preschoolers.  They learn both math and social skills as they play: turn taking, putting one in the "pot", and how to take half: I teach the kiddos to do "one for me, one for you" to do this.  Did I mention the fine motor workout of moving small objects and spinning the dreidel?

I also love to read/sing the children's book version of Feliz Navidad each December.  The catchy tune and repetition helps the children learn at least the refrain in Spanish and English, and it makes great background music as we put together our pinatas.  (Paper sacks with colorful tissue paper fringe.)

I've made a lot of fun resources for Christmas, and some for Hanukkah; you may not have seen these new ones yet. If you're looking for some ready to go learning fun, please check them out! (They're 20% off for the next 3 days, and for more great resources, search #KinderFriends on TeachersPayTeachers!)



There's even a FREE video of Nine Little Reindeer - check it out!

Now, as promised, there's a gift!  We're giving away a $25 gift card to TeachersPayTeachers!  On the off chance you aren't a teacher yourself, enter anyway - you know a teacher who would LOVE this as a present!  (No, don't know any?  I'll take it! Pick me, pick me!) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for visiting my blog, I hope you'll hop on over and check out the next stop on our blog hop:

Wishing you the happiest of holidays, and a joyous and prosperous new year!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Stacked Stars Christmas Trees

Christmas is sneaking up on us, and you're probably planning the Christmas art projects you want to get to with your students - and some kind of year end celebration, report cards, shopping and cleaning and wrapping for your own family, juggling staff meetings and... you're probably short on time and energy, even if you have visions of meaningful lessons and carefully crafted learning activities.  If you have everything under control, please share your tips!  For the rest of us, I thought I'd share another simple holiday activity that takes almost no preparation.

As is so often the case, I found my inspiration via Pinterest.com.  Unfortunately, the pin doesn't go to the correct page on the blog, and it is in French... but here's the pin to show the idea.

To make this adorable stacked star Christmas tree you'll need some light card (I used manila folders), star shapes in several sizes, paint, beads, one pipe cleaner per child, and doodads to decorate with.  We used sequins, but use what you have on hand.  It's also helpful to have small pieces of styrofoam to use as a base for your trees, but florist foam would be another option.

On the first day (it's a 2 day project) the children painted their stars, and we let them dry.  Later I cut the stars out - my kiddos were 3-5 years old, and I guess I wanted the finished product to look a little more polished than it would with 3 year olds doing the cutting.  If you have the time and patience, and your children have the skill, let them cut them out.

To assemble our stacked star trees, we first put one bead in the center of a pipe cleaner, and folded the pipe cleaner over.  Twist the ends together a little, to make one strong supporting "tree trunk".  Make tiny holes in the center of each star, and have the children order the stars by size, from smallest to largest.

Next the children will alternate threading on the stars (from smallest to largest) and 3 beads - the beads separate the layers of stars and give height to the trees.  When all the stars and beads are on, stick the remaining end of the pipe cleaner into the styrofoam or florist foam base.  Have the children decorate their trees with sequins, pompons, or other shiny bits and bobs, then proudly display them until it's time to send them home!


 If you're also looking for some help putting Christmas learning centers together, please stop by my TeachersPayTeachers store and see some of my other holiday activities!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December $75 Gift Card Giveaway

Thank you for stopping by my blog!  As I often do, I'm participating in a gift card giveaway - I think it's a nice bonus for my loyal readers, a little something to say thank you for making me a part of your day.  Teachers and parents put so much into teaching and learning with their kiddos (our own, and those we share a year or two with through school), and finding beautiful resources on TeachersPayTeachers makes our jobs just a little easier.  If you'd like to go on a $75 shopping spree, read on, and enter below! 

Prize:  $75 Teachers pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher).
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 12/13/16 and is open worldwide.

And don't forget to enter our weekly $25 Teachers pay Teachers gift card giveaway as well!

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Rocking December with Rudolph

I love teaching the letters R and S in December - between Rudolph and Santa, there's plenty of awesome activities, books and crafts, and the children are so eager to do them all!  Today I thought I'd share just a few of our favorite Rudolph activities, besides reading the Classic book by Robert May and singing the Christmas carol that almost everyone knows.

Another fun song for the preschool and kindergarten crowd is a variation on Head and Shoulders: Hooves, Belly, Antlers, Nose.  I found an adorable video of children singing it here, your kiddos will quickly make it their own!  I like to add a red sticky dot to the children's noses when we sing this one - and it makes a really cute picture for their families!

You've probably seen the painted hand print reindeer included in my photo above, I recently found a version via pinterest that also included Santa in his sleigh - that's one to try this year!  While some children aren't eager to have their hands or feet painted, I've found that most do warm up to the idea, and then enjoy the tickly sensation of the wet paint brush on their hands.  It's a fun sensory experience, and a quick one on one time with a teacher - hand prints are one of our favorites!

I've also made the construction paper hand and foot print reindeers for... well, for ever!  I began making these with my preschoolers when my own children were tiny, and each year I still bring out these treasured ornaments - we have a slew of them, one for each year that the boys would still go for it, showing their hands and feet growing incrementally year after year.  These make fantastic gifts for parents, and trust me, even if they have had one every year since their children were born, they'll be thrilled to have another!  (Teacher tip: trace the children's hands a day or two before you want the children to assemble the reindeer, so you can cut them out.  Nap time is a great time to sit and prep for this!)

I wish I could claim the Surprised Rudolph idea as my own, but the idea came from a faithful attempt.  She in turn found her inspiration on Artsonia.com.  Have you met Artsonia yet?  Check out our school gallery, then look around at all the other amazing lesson plans that are there to inspire you!  This cute project not only looks adorable, but gives the children a lot of fine motor practice with scissors
 and glue,
plus tracing around a circle shape, and talking about squares, triangles, rectangles and positional words. 
That's a lot of learning for a holiday decoration!

Let me know if you have some other fun reindeer activities to share - I'm always on the look out for more fun learning ideas!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

A Quick and Free Sorting Center

True confession #1: I have a sweet tooth, and indulge myself with an altoid or 2 (possibly 3 or 4) when I'm driving.  So does my son.  Between us, we've accumulated a few of the awesome hinged tins that the breath mints come in. 

True confession #2: Since I'm using the empty containers for a learning activity, I can justify the candies... um, I mean breath mints.  I'm not having those for myself, it's for the children!

See?  Each empty tin makes a good place to sort 2 items, and 4 empty tins means 8 places to sort things.

My kiddos have always loved teeny tiny things - I recently blogged about our teeny tiny notebooks , and I've often mentioned our sensory bins full of all manner of items for the children to manipulate.  This tiny activity is one of my favorites, because it's a super easy, quick, FREE math center that engages young children for a long time!

As you can see, all I did was put a variety of seasonal items into a pretty dish, and put out the empty altoid tins with it.  In this case I've included plastic jewels, pompons, beads, jingle bells, and some small pictures.  I also like offering foam shapes, they usually come in a container with 6-10 different shapes, which are also usually 6-8 different colors, so we can sort by shape or by color.

(The pictures I used in this sorting tray are from a Christmas counting center that I just finished putting together, which is available in my TeachersPayTeachers store.)

One of the best things about this kind of sorting activity, is that you probably already have things on hand that the children can sort, and those tins?  You can use them over and over again, with any theme you want.  It's almost enough to make me eat more altoids! ;-) 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Teachers That Give

It's the holiday season, and in the spirit of giving, I'm linking up with a group of teachers to bring YOU some holiday gifts!  Presents before the holidays?  Why yes, yes indeed!

If you haven't had a chance to grab this forever free Christmas resource yet, I hope you'll check it out.
Christmas Sentence Picture Match is ideal for a reading or literacy center, and includes 12 sentences and matching pictures. Santa Claus, tree, star, gingerbread man, snowman, Rudolph reindeer and bells are included in sentences that focus on commonly used nouns, preprimer and primer words.

A forever freebie is a nice start, but you deserve something more this holiday season, so for this week only I'm making this resource free too! (It will return to it's normal price on Saturday December 2nd, so grab it quickly!)
If you download these resources and like them, the very best way to say thank you is to take a minute to rate them and leave me feedback on TeachersPayTeachers.  It absolutely makes my day to hear how the resources I create are being used around the world!

And now, for the final and best gift of all, I'm giving away a $25 gift card to TeachersPayTeachers!  I'd love for you to check out my store, but there are also millions of amazing teaching resources to choose from, made by many thousands of teachers, so you are sure to find something that you can use in your classroom! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more ideas, freebies, and gift card giveaways, hop over to these bloggers too!

Wishing you the happiest of holidays!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Torn Tissue Paper Poinsettias

Torn tissue paper poinsettias, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 As we approach the Christmas season, teachers everywhere are trying to teach children the skills they need to learn, as well as incorporating fun seasonal activities.  It isn't always easy!  Our students get more and more excited as the holidays approach, and who can blame them?  It's an exciting time of year!  Today I thought I'd share one of my go-to activities for December learning.
Torn tissue paper poinsettias, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 I always have a stash of used gift wrap tissue on hand.  Yup, used.  I remember as a child looking at all the beautiful tissue paper and wrapping paper, and wanting desperately to play with it.  I've always had this thing about paper. :-)  As a teacher, I try to remember what it was like to be a child, and to honor the spirit of my kiddos.  I also have to be budget conscious.  Reusing beautiful cast offs is one way to do both.  (After birthday parties and holidays I smooth out the tissue paper and fold it up, ready for the next craft occasion.  I've done it so long, my daycare parents know to set it aside, and often help with the folding and saving.)

Tearing is a great fine motor work out, and there is no wrong way to do it, so the children typically enjoy tearing red and green tissue paper into strips for their projects.

Torn tissue paper poinsettias, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Next they glue the tissue strips onto a plain white background, I usually use printer paper.  There's a trick to this: don't put the glue on the tissue paper, it will tear easily.  Rub your glue stick onto the background paper, then push the tissue onto the damp glue.  (Of course glue sticks are also another fine motor work out for young children, but don't tell them that!)  I encourage my kiddos to put down 4 - 5 strips of one color, then to make an AB pattern by inserting the other color between them.  We add a little crumpled yellow tissue in the middle of the poinsettia.

Trim around the edge of each strip of paper (I do this for my preschoolers, but first graders are pretty good at it), then have them glue the finished poinsettia onto a solid colored background. Ta-da!

Torn tissue paper poinsettias, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

This is a fun and simple center activity your students can do by themselves or with an adult, and makes a lovely art companion to one of my favorite Christmas books, The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Math Fun with Tiny Notebooks

Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten 
I've always had a few children who are fascinated by teeny tiny things, and you probably have too.  There's something about looking for and playing with super small - or super large - things that seems to feed a need in children.  Today I'm going to share a really inexpensive way to use things you might otherwise throw away to engage your kiddos in math. 

Here's what you'll need: whole, half, or quarter sheets of white and colored paper.  I used copy paper, but whatever you have around is great.  You also need a stapler, scissors or a paper cutter, and tiny stickers.  (Look at the stickers, you probably get them in the mail on free address labels that ask you for a donation to whichever fundraiser bought your mailing information.  I get a lot of them, so I cut off the address and save the stickers.  *** This part is important!  Do not separate all the stickers, there need to be at least 2 of them on each piece of paper for the children to peel the stickers from the backing paper.  Trust me, you don't want to deal with individual stickers. ***)
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Next you'll cut the colorful and the white paper to the same size.  I made full sheets, half sheets and quarter sheets - and the half and quarter sheets were some I "saved" from copier errors that didn't take up the full page.
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Staple the papers into booklets, and fold them.  You now have teeny tiny notebooks, which my students LOVE!  You can use these just as they are - I've made these available along with pencils and magnifying glasses for outside play, and saw some amazing drawings of the tiny critters that live on our playground. 
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

For a super simple math game with fine motor development, try offering a dice, pencil, stickers and notebook.  This one was made with quarter sheets of paper, so they're very little!  Just right for rolling a dice, showing the number with stickers, and writing the corresponding numeral.
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Maybe your kiddos are ready for some early addition practice.  Use two dice, and a slightly larger notebook.  (I used a half sheet of paper notebook.) 
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

The notebook I made with a full sheet of paper is great for larger stickers, or more information.  Here I'm using it for basic addition sentences.
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Have you used tiny notebooks or address label stickers with your children?  I'd love to hear of other uses - share your tips and tricks in the comments!
Math fun with tiny notebooks, from Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Helping Children Find their Calm

From now until Valentines Day seems to be a completely, utterly, exhaustingly, exciting time for our children.  There's Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year, Chinese New Year, and Valentines Day to start - and still more holidays and celebrations, depending upon your cultural background.  Holidays and celebrations so often revolve around families and friends gathering together, and when people gather, there's usually food.  Yummy, amazing, celebratory feasts, full of delicious things!  There's also a lot of excitement, lots of build up to each holiday, to having or being guests, to giving and receiving, preparing your home, and to recovering between holidays.  Are you exhausted just thinking about it, or excited with anticipation?

Our kiddos often seem to get "wired" this time of year, so wound up with excitement and anticipation that it's hard for them to slow down, calm down, wind down, find their focus.  If you are nodding your head, and thinking of a couple (or more) children who are really struggling with this, then this post is for you!
Helping children find their calm
With almost 25 years experience teaching early childhood, I've been through this holiday cycle a few times, and have found a few methods that have consistently worked to calm my students.  Here are some of my favorites.

Sing together.  Sure, you'll start out with the super exciting holiday songs the kiddos want, but there are only so many times you can sing Over the River and Through the Woods, Frosty the Snowman, or the Dreidle Song.  When the kiddos run out of holiday songs, or you run out of energy, it's time to tame the wildness in our children by singing something calmer and soothing.  If your students are young enough, try some nursery rhymes - it's difficult to bounce off the walls while singing Twinkle Twinkle!  The slower cadence of the music will help the children slow down too.

Are your kids too old for nursery rhymes?  How about songs made into books, such as When You Wish Upon A Star, Puff the Magic Dragon, Love Me Tender, or A You're Adorable?  (No, I'm not affiliated, just sharing links in case you are interested.)  Don't know the tune, or feel comfortable leading the song?  Try books on CD or look on Youtube.com!

Another lovely way to harness the power of music as you calm your kiddos is to play gentle music as they paint, or do an art project.  I love Eric Carle's I See A Song.  Most of the pages have no words, only pictures, and the book on tape (yeah, I'm old) is a great accompaniment to an art project.  There doesn't have to be a predetermined outcome for the painting/drawing either, this is great as an open ended activity, the part you are planning and working for is the calm that naturally comes with the art and music.

For many years I had a fish tank in my classroom, and still later someone gave me a plastic tank with plastic fish.  When it was turned on a light came on and a motor swirled the water, so the fish "swam" in the tank.  Both the real and the pretend tank were great for calming my class.  I would turn on the light in the tank,  have the children sit quietly where they could see it, and then turned off the classroom lights for 5 minutes.  We would just sit and watch the fish, and breathe.  Added bonus - I got to just breathe too!

Another suggestion is to read either Chipmunk Song or The Snail's Spell, both by Joanne Ryder and illustrated by Lynne Cherry.  In both books, the author has the children pretend to transform into the animal in the title, and she gently takes them through what it might be like to be that creature.  I always have my kiddos spread out on the rug, because they'll need space as they act out the story, and I set ground rules before we begin: they have to stay on the floor (no standing up), be careful not to hurt each other, and to be quiet so they can all hear the story.  Every group of kiddos I've ever done this with has ended the stories feeling much calmer than they began them!

My final suggestion sounds counter-intuitive at first: take them outside for some unstructured play time.   Yes, they'll probably run hard and play hard - that is, after all, what children are wired to do!  While at first they'll appear to be even more excited and energized, the great news is that by releasing that energy, they'll actually be much more likely to be able to contain themselves and to focus on your lessons afterwards.  The boys in the photo above are both high energy kiddos - but after letting off steam, they found a few quiet moments to just gaze at the creek.

I know there must be many, many other ways of helping kiddos calm down, and I suspect we are all going to need a few ideas over the coming months.  I'd really love to know what works for you - share your thoughts in the comments below.

Happy holidays,

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Teaching Math on a Budget

Teaching Math on a budget, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 Okay, right off the bat, I know we're pretty much all on a budget - who isn't?!  If you are teaching young children, chances are good that you supply a lot of the materials you use in your classroom, and it can really add up!  Today I thought I'd share a few ideas that I've used to make my own teaching resources for little or no money!

Large graphs for children to work on:
Teaching Math on a budget, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Materials required: a large piece of cardboard, approximately the size of poster board, a yard stick and a marker.  (You absolutely could buy poster board, or if you shop at a warehouse store, try asking if you can have some of the huge pieces of cardboard they use on pallets of cereal to separate the layers.)
Time to make it: 10 minutes tops
What to do: I measured and marked 1.5" intervals along each edge of the cardboard, then used the yardstick to draw lines between the marks.  I wrote numbers on one axis, and ta-da! One large graph.

Venn Diagrams:
Teaching Math on a budget, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 Materials required: a large piece of cardboard, a large bowl or plate to trace around and a marker.
Time to make it: less than 5 minutes
What to do: Turn your bowl or plate face down, off center on your cardboard.  Trace the rim with the marker.  Move the plate over to the other side of your cardboard, leaving a large area of overlap from the first circle.  Trace it again.

Sorting trays:
Teaching Math on a budget, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
Materials required: a divided tray, I got this one from a dollar store.  I've also used trays from fruit/vegetable/cookie platters, and those are free - you just have to remember to either save them yourself, or to ask your families to donate them if they use them.
What to do: nothing more!
Prep time: This depends on how long you browse at the dollar store!  ;-)

What about manipulatives: the small parts the children are working with.  We all know that those plastic dinosaurs and bugs aren't cheap. What can you do?

Save those lids, corks, bread ties, etc.  I keep a container in a cupboard in my kitchen, and every time there's a bread tie or a cork, I toss it directly in there.  Lids from food containers I put in the cutlery holder of my dishwasher first, and save them when they're clean.  You may also find some awesome lids in the bathroom or laundry room, just save them instead of tossing them out.
Teaching Math on a budget, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 Look in your junk drawer.  Okay, maybe you're perfect, and you don't have a junk drawer, but I'm guessing that somewhere in your home there's a catch-all spot full of amazing little things.  Parts to that one toy your kids had a few years ago, party favors they never even played with, assorted blocks, plastic bits and bobs, rings, craft supplies, tokens from that game place you never go to anymore...  Just be sure to consider the children who will be using these manipulatives, do you need to think about possible choking hazards?  Sharp edges?  Be selective about what will work for your students.
Teaching Math on a budget, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 You may also have (or know someone who has) a tin of buttons, or beads, or maybe an avid crafter with a lot of left over odds and ends.  Maybe there's a box in the garage with odd nuts and bolts, or old keys, or... go look!  Once you start thinking about and noticing things that are often considered throw aways, you'll find resources all over the place!

So how can you store all this stuff?  Plastic storage containers can be quite expensive, especially if you have a whole bunch of these collections going on!  Check your pantry and your recycling bin!  This is the container I keep in my kitchen to store those lids and corks - it originally had cashews in it, but when the food was eaten, the container got a new life, storing manipulatives.  Many foods come in resealable and reusable containers, everything from lunch meats to rice, fresh salad greens to soup.  If there's something in a useful container that your family uses regularly, you can save them and even end up with a matching set!
Teaching Math on a budget, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 Still not sure you can find a nice variety of things for your kiddos to sort?  Go outside!  Here are some leaves that are in my yard right now.  I see different colors, sizes and shapes.  How else are they the same?  How else are they different?
Teaching Math on a budget, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
 Okay, so maybe you don't have time to go outside and collect leaves and things for your children to use.  Not to worry, put the kids to work!  Here I've used a strawberry punnet as a collecting box for acorns.  You can see we found some in different sizes, shapes and colors.  There are acorns with holes, broken ones, whole acorns, acorns with and without caps, some that are still connected to each other, and some that aren't... there are so many ways we could sort, graph or put these on a Venn Diagram!
Teaching Math on a budget, by Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten
I hope you can use some of these ideas in your classroom!  If you have another tip for teaching math on a budget, I'd love to hear it!

Monday, October 10, 2016

No Tricks, Just Treats for Teachers - a #Kinderfriends Bloghop

How can it be October already?  Has the start of the school year zoomed by in a blur of craziness for you too?  Chances are good that right about now you are feeling like you are running a marathon, jumping hurdles along the way, and could use a bubble bath, some chocolate, and a massage.  (Maybe I'm just projecting, I know I could use a bubble bath, chocolate and a massage!)  I can't help you with those (not sharing my chocolate, I know you'll understand!), but I do have 3 super cool treats for you, because you absolutely deserve it!

#KinderFriends is getting together again for a blog hop, and we're sending you on a grown-up Trick or Treat mission - at each stop there is more for you to enjoy!  Scoop up these 3 treats from me, and then continue on for lots more.  I hope they're almost as good as that bubble bath, chocolate and massage I'm now dreaming of!)  Thanks for stopping by!

Treat #1: Enter to win a $25 TeachersPayTeachers gift card! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Treat #2: Enter to win $25 in resources from my TeachersPayTeachers store!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'll contact the giveaway winners on 10/15/16, but I think you all deserve a prize, so here's one for everyone!

Treat #3: Download my newest freebie: How Many Apples Tall Are You?  If you'd like to say thank you, I would very much appreciate you leaving feedback &/ rating it.

Is your trick or treat basket full yet? No?  Head on over to Class of Kinders for some more teacher treats!

Friday, October 7, 2016

What would you do with a $75 TeachersPayTeachers gift card?

That's a really hard question to answer!  My TeachersPayTeachers wish list is only about 7 pages long... there are just so many awesome teacher resources to choose from!  My favorites are clip art, because I use it to create resources - both to use with the kiddos I work and play with, and to post in my TeachersPayTeachers store.  If you're thinking about all the awesome resources $75 would allow you to download, you really need to enter this giveaway - somebody is going to win, and it might just be you!  

Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 10/13/16 and is open worldwide.
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck everyone!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Back into the Swing of Things #Kinderfriends blog hop

By now you are probably back to school and settling in for a new academic year - at least if you are in the United States.  It's a crazy time of year, with so many things to do, so many things to get ready, and it seems like barely a moment to breathe.  You've probably put student names on 20 different sets of things: locker tags, desk tags, folders, notebooks and more. I'm willing to bet you've already set up student routines and expectations, and are figuring out what ever new system your school has in place this year - there's always something!  You've met the new staff, and you're probably really ready for a nap.  Welcome to the back to school season!

This month the #KinderFriends thought we'd help you start your year with some tips to help you get back into the swing of things, tried and true methods we can share, one teacher to another. Maybe you have an amazing trick or tip you can share too - please leave your best ideas in the comments section below, because if it works for you, it might just help me out too!

One of the things I've learned to do with my students, is to start the complex and difficult subjects as soon as possible, and as simply as possible.  When I taught first grade, learning to count mixed coins was a doozy of a feat for the kiddos, and trying to do it in the 3 week window our math curriculum allowed for it was near impossible.  My solution?  I made it part of our calendar time, and taught it all year long.  Early in the year that meant we learned to count just pennies, then just nickels, and then put them together.  Throughout the year we took more and more baby steps in learning to count money, until the kiddos were experts.  I did the same thing with other concepts that challenged my students, transforming the biggest, toughest concepts into daily 1-3 minute lessons.

I've taken that same concept - breaking difficult concepts down into bite-sized pieces - and applied it to another student challenge: sounding out.  At the beginning of the year I found my students often had difficulty writing anything, because they were learning how to form letters and which letters made which sounds, so the prospect of writing even a complete sentence was overwhelming for many.  I broke the process down, and have my kiddos work on just a few words that all have the same initial letter.  The result?  Successful kiddos! 

Graphing daily with my students is another great way to routinely practice a variety of math skills.  I have a huge selection of graphing activities available in my TeachersPayTeachers store, but this one is designed for back to school season:

I hope this tip helps you to have an amazing school year!  If you are interested in checking out my back to school resources, I'm discounting them 20% from now until Thursday - just search #KinderFriends on TeachersPayTeachers to see all the great back to school resources from #Kinderfriends! 

Thank you for stopping by!  To continue the #KinderFriends blog hop, click here and head over to 1stGradeFireworks for more tips!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September $75 Gift Card Giveaway!

Labor Day has come and gone, and by now I think almost everyone is back in school.  It feels wonderful to back, but overwhelming too.  There are so many things to do, lessons to prepare, items to put children's names on, things to grade, things...!  Wouldn't it be nice if you could just have a couple of activities that don't need prepping? Or maybe you'd really like to enhance your science curriculum this year, but time got away from you. What ever the reason, sometimes it's nice to have another teacher help you out by creating just what you need.  Good news!  TeachersPayTeachers is a global marketplace, staffed with teachers just like you, who totally get what you do every day - and who've created millions of amazing resources that are ready to download and use!  Even better news! You can enter here for the chance to win a $75 TeachersPayTeachers gift card!



Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Co-hosts: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 9/13/16 and is open worldwide.

Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck everyone!