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, 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!


  1. Such a great reminder to take the big concepts in baby steps! Thanks, Paula!

  2. I love the graphing activities! A quick and easy routine that provides a fun opportunity to review skills. Thanks Paula for sharing!

  3. Getting to Know You Graphs are awesome! Excited to add those to our unit! Thank you so much!

  4. The graphing activities are awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  5. It's such a great idea to introduce those hefty concept early. I love how you incorporate it into your calendar routine! Thank you!

  6. Hi! What a key concept! Starting early and making the learning understandable, with lots of practice, will lead to success. And your first paragraph cracked me up and stressed me out at the same time. You #nailedit! Ha!
    Kindergarten Planet

  7. Yessss! Strategies are not just for kids! "Teaching ahead" to prep kids for those more complicated skills/concepts is a super smart teaching strategy!! I find that it comes easier after you have been in a grade level for several years. Thanks Paula! Loved reading your blog!