Welcome to Paula's Preschool and Kindergarten! My class blog is the place I share information about some of the fun learning activities we are doing at school. I hope to provide parents with insight into what we are doing, and why, and to share ideas with 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!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Would you love to win 7 great spring resources? #KinderFriends Giveaway

Would you like to win some spring resources?  If you teach, the answer is most likely a resounding yes!  Who doesn't want awesome classroom resources?!  I know my students were always thrilled when I pulled out something "new" - even if it was just new to them. This month the #KinderFriends are getting together to giveaway 7 resources to make spring lesson planning just a little easier for one lucky teacher.

I'll be sending the winner my best selling spring resource:

Have you done tangrams with your students yet?  I like to introduce tangrams with the story:
In this gem of a book, a magician uses the 7 pieces of a tangram to become all manner of things, from a cat to a rooster to a tea set, showcasing just a few of the possibilities tangrams hold.  I've written before about how I use tangrams for Chinese New Year, but my students love them so much, I like to make them available throughout the year.  In my spring set you'll find both black lines (so you can see the answers, and younger students can match the shapes), and colorful outlines to challenge children and adults alike.

I can't decide if my favorite is the snail or the bunny!

Tangrams are so open ended, I love using them for morning work and early finishers.   How would you use these in your classroom?

Enter for your chance to win below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Stop by these #KinderFriends blogs to see more fun spring ideas:



Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Homeward Stretch, and April Gift Card Giveaway

It's early April, and if you're a teacher in North America, that means things are gearing up for the end of the year.  How is it that just when you need extra time to cover those last few challenging skills before testing hits, you also have to squeeze in field days, assemblies, field trips, another round of parent teacher conferences, prepping report cards, volunteer appreciation activities, budgeting and ordering for next year, and all the rest?  The last couple of months seem to whiz by, growing ever crazier as each day passes.  What's a teacher to do? 

Well, besides chocolate, caffeine, and dreaming of summer break - all excellent ideas - cutting your planning time by grabbing some ready to go activities that another teacher has put together for you wouldn't hurt.  To help you do exactly that, I've joined with a group of teacher-authors to giveaway a $75 TeachersPayTeachers gift card to one lucky teacher.  Read on to find out how you can enter!


Prize: $75 Teachers pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher), 
Co-hosts: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher),  A Plus KidsPlanet Happy SmilesJackie CrewsMs. KAmanda's Little LearnersIt's a Teacher Thing, Teachers CaravanHeart 2 Heart TeachingThe Chocolate TeacherReading and Writing RedheadSamson's ShoppeTeacher GameroomThe Literacy GardenPeas In A PodA Place of Story,Kathryn WattsMickey's PlacePaula's Preschool and KindergartenMM BilingualLittle Smarticle ParticlesPreK Kristin,Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love TeachingTeacher JeanellKamp KindergartenLeah Popinski, Momma with a Teaching MissionTrending Technology in Tennessee, and Teacher Gone Digital.
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter.  Giveaway ends 4/13/17 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

Sunday, April 2, 2017

How to Take the Pain out of Spelling Practice

This week a friend mentioned how painful it is to do spelling homework with her daughter.  She's tried a lot of things: writing the words, putting the words in sentences, flashcards, but nothing seems to help, and it's torture for both of them.  Sound familiar?  Well, I'm here to tell you that spelling practice does not have to be painful!  You can also use these fun ideas to practice sight words, math facts, or anything that needs to be memorized. 

1.  Write those words!  "Yeah, done that, hate it," you say?  I bet you weren't writing them in a layer of sprinkles on a cookie sheet!  How about writing them in chocolate sauce or honey on a plate?  (If When you spell each word correctly, you get to lick your finger.)  How about a layer or salt or flour on a tray?  Or using tic tac candies to make each word?  Once you start thinking about it, you'll come up with a lot of fun ways to practice!

2.  Text them.  Tell me your elementary age kiddos don't want to use their phones - or yours!  Have them sit with you while you're cooking dinner/ grading papers/ reading a book, and let them type and text those sight words to you or a family member.  Limited text plan?  Try emailing them!

3.  Learn the sign language alphabet and have your child finger spell their spelling words.  Here's a cute video to help you learn!

4.  Use magnetic letters to make the words on your refrigerator, a cookie sheet, the side of a filing cabinet... so many options!

5.  Write the words in shaving cream.  My kiddos LOVED writing and drawing in shaving cream, so we always did this to clean the tables in our classroom.  Simply spray a blob of foam on the table, then let the children smooth it out on the table top, then write in the it.  A quick hand swipe erases and resets the foam for the next word.  When you're done, your table top will be clean, the room will smell great, and that tricky spelling practice will be done!  (Your child may get some on her clothes, but it's basically soap, so it washes out beautifully.)

6.  Let your child write the spelling word with special writing tools.  Try markers, crayons, colored pens, that special pen on daddy's desk, scented markers... whatever it takes to make it fun.  Can your child write each word in all the rainbow colors?  (Yeah, you just got him to write each word 7 times!)  You can grab this rainbow writing page in my TeachersPayTeachers store, or just write them on regular paper.

7.  Is your child super active, or does he want to live in the backyard after school?  You hate to squash that healthy energy with homework, but it has to get done.  If you have a trampoline, try having your child write each word in big letters on  index cards, and hang them around the trampoline.  She can then jump and spell each word.  No trampoline?  Use sidewalk chalk to write the letters on the pavement, and jump from letter to letter to spell the words.

8.  Invest in a set of letter stamps and a pretty stamp pad, and have your child stamp out the letters.  For many children the lure of playing with rubber stamps will motivate them.  Can't afford rubber stamps?  How about alphabet cookies or pasta?  Or even a set of letters cut from junk mail or magazines?

9.  Grab an old game of Twister out of your cupboard, or at a garage sale, and write the letters on the colorful spots.  There are 24 spots on the game board, so put x, y and z together on the last spot, and then jump from spot to spot to spell the words.  Can't get a Twister game board?  Try making one on poster board!

10.  Play spelling tic tac toe, bingo, or dots, or whatever games your child enjoys, using a spelling word to mark your space.  Your child will read and write the words over and over in each game, enjoy some fun time playing with you, and you'll both agree spelling practice has never been so much fun!

11.  Write letters on toy blocks and build your words.

12.   Paint the words, or make the letters from play dough and spell them out - this feels a lot more like play, and a lot less like work!

13.  Use bath crayons and write in the tub.  If your child loves a long soak in the tub, washable bath tub crayons are the thing for you!  You can also write on the tub in shaving cream, just like I suggested in item #5 - and now your child is practicing spelling words and CLEANING THE TUB!

14.  Write on pretty paper.  Try colorful post-it notes, or fancy letter writing paper, or use regular paper and pop the finished list into an envelope and send it to your favorite family member. 

Brainstorm with your child for even more fun ways to practice spelling, and together you'll conquer those spelling test blues!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Spring is in the air #Kinderfriends bloghop

Wouldn't it be nice if there was an activity that would bring out the very best in your students?  Something that would get them excited about learning, behaving better, engaged in a writing activity, and eager to revisit their learning?  While we're wishing for so much, we might as well make it age appropriate, and good for their physical well-being.  And free, free is always good!  Let's aim for the moon!

So what free miracle activity is healthy for our bodies and minds, age appropriate, and exciting too?  It's really pretty simple - the simplest actually:  fresh air and nature.  This spring, I hope you can find a way to take your learning outside, to observe whatever plants and animals are available to you, and to incorporate them into your teaching and learning.

Step 1: Before they can concentrate and focus, our students need a chance to run, to stretch their bodies, and let loose.  Remember in the olden days, we had a thing called recess?  Students took a break from sitting and focusing on adult directed activities, and ran around outside.  By the time they were done they were hot, sweaty, thirsty, and ready to sit down and focus again.
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Step 2: Slow down and pay attention to the things around you.  Kids are inherently good at this.  Junior scientists from birth, they naturally observe and investigate the world.  I like to make notebooks, pencils and magnifying glasses available during our outside time, it still amazes me how often students choose to draw and write about what they see.  Stop and look with them - you won't be disappointed (although disgusted and freaked out are definitely possible).
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
Step 3: Take some "inside" activities outside.  If you can do nothing else, simply take a basket of books outside and sit together to read.  Maybe you could eat lunch outside...
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
...or take your sensory play outdoors...
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
... or explore physics for that matter!
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

Dig for worms, watch roly pollies, and compare slugs and snails.
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas
Spring is in the air #KinderFriends bloghop and outside learning ideas

I know for many of you, the reality is that you have to justify this kind of learning, to have paper and pencil grade-able tasks to show that learning is happening, and that you have a limited time to cover approximately 75,103 required skills.  Well, I know it's just a bandaid on a gaping wound, but I've created a free printable for your students to document what they're learning as you do hands on fun learning activities.

There are 4 pages, each with room for a drawing (or photo) of the activity, and room for students to write about the experience.  You can use the same printable over and again, and collect the pages in a bradded pocket chart to make individual writing books that will show the growth in students' drawing and writing over the course of the year.  Best of all, students LOVE to read their own books, or those of their friends - so they'll be motivated to both write and read about the activities you set up for them.  Field trip?  Write about it!  Cool bug on the playground?  Write about it!  Lost a tooth?  Got new shoes?  Did that exciting thing that you just have to tell your teacher all about?  Write about it!

Yes, eventually you'll have to go back inside, but you'll all be invigorated, a bit hot, sweaty and thirsty, and maybe even ready to sit down and focus again.  To help you be ready for those times, I've put all of my spring resources on sale for 20% off through 3/23/17.  Here are just a few of them, including one more forever freebie!





Just search #KinderFriends on TpT to find discounted resources just right for spring! 

Thank you for stopping by!  Now hop on over to my friend Pamela at Pocketful of Centers, to find even more spring ideas, inspiration and freebies!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Tips and Tricks for using Mystery Pictures in Your Classroom

Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 My students love mystery pictures.  No, not just a little bit, they really LOVE mystery pictures.  Do yours?  I'm all for anything that motivates my students to do skills practice, so I thought I'd share a few tips I've figured out along our learning journey.

1. For our youngest learners reading the color words can be a challenge - so start out by looking at the puzzle as a group, and have the children color over the words with a matching pencil or crayon.  This also ensures that they HAVE the matching color, and know where it is. 
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)

2.  Keeping track of which spaces you've colored can be tricky, especially if there's a long list of numbers.  I teach my students to color one space, then cross out the corresponding clue before going on to the next one.  They can even pick up where they left off after a break, because they can see exactly which clue to tackle next.
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)

 3.  Do you have a young perfectionist on your hands, the child that always turns in picture perfect work, but takes  f  o  r  e  v  e  r  to complete anything?  This trick will help you both stay sane:  teach your children to mark the color for each space, but not to color it thoroughly right away.  A quick scribble scrabble in each space will allow them to see how far each color extends, and to color the whole picture at once, rather than one space at a time.
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 I prefer to color one direction (for me that's up and down)...
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 ...and then to touch up the unfinished top and bottom with some sideways coloring afterwards.  It neatens everything up. 
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 4.  Those tricky edges!  You don't have to slow down to color all the way to the lines if you put your finger along the line and use it to stop your pencil. 
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 5.  Of course, you want to find puzzles with the right level of challenge for your students.  We all know that you'll never ever have a class with everyone at the exact same learning level, so you'll need to differentiate.  My hundreds charts mystery pictures come with 3 skill levels for each puzzle, so it's easy to find one that's just right.  The ladybug mystery picture in these photos is a level (a) puzzle:  the hundreds chart is numbered, there are clues for the picture itself, but no background (so fewer spaces to color), and the text is a little bigger.  Level (b) puzzles include a numbered hundreds chart with clues for all 100 spaces, and regular sized text, while level (c) puzzles come on a blank hundreds chart, so students have to fill that in before solving 100 clues.
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 6.  You don't have to limit mystery pictures skills practice to numbers!  You can find puzzles for letters...
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
 ...sight words...
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!) 
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
7.  If coloring this much is an issue, or if your class is just beginning to work on numbers to 100, try doing hundreds chart mystery pictures in your pocket chart!
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)
There are even pocket chart mystery pictures for double digit  addition and subtraction:
Tips and Tricks for using mystery pictures in your classroom (and 3 freebies!)

Not sure where to start?  How about some FREE RESOURCES?



Is there a skill or theme you'd like to see as a mystery picture?  Let me know in the comments, I'm always looking for new ideas for fun learning projects!