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!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Back to School Essentials: Freebie and Blog Hop with the #Kinderfriends


Back to school season is a little like a game of hide and seek - there's a countdown, and then, ready or not, here it comes!  It's that time again - at least it is in the U.S. - so the #Kinderfriends thought we'd help you out with some ideas, teacher essentials, tips, tricks, and freebies.

One of the kazillion tasks we have at back-to-school time is putting student names on everything.  Cubbies, notebooks, folders, mail boxes, grade book, desks, individual book boxes, attendance markers, class graphs, journals.... the list goes on and on.  It always seems like I think I'm done labeling supplies, only to remember there's one more thing to put names on!  Just when you think you have it all done, you get 3 new students, and have to scramble to find the supplies to make their names match everyone else.  Teacher tip #1: Make a list of all the places you've put student names, and save 3-5 extras of any special materials you used.  Put them all in a zippered baggie, and store them with your student files.  You'll be so glad to have these when those new kiddos start arriving!

I think everyone knows that setting up routines is a super important part of back to school time!  Our students need to know what to expect each day so Teacher tip #2: is to post a visual schedule.  Our preschool and kindergarten kiddos probably can't read yet, but they can understand pictures.  I've found that making a visual schedule that shows pictures for each of the blocks of time in our day really helps them to understand what's coming up throughout the day.  When will mommy get here?  After math time.  When is recess?  After we do morning meeting and reading rotation.  Whatever your schedule is, posting it will help your little ones know what to expect, and will cut down on some of their questions.

Of course, our kiddos also need to learn a multitude of smaller routines: like how to hold scissors, how to use and put away glue, what we expect for bathroom behavior, where to line up, how to put books back on a shelf, etc.  I like to teach those skills the first week, and even focus on one new skill each day until we've gone over them all.  Teacher tip #3: Setting up expectations for routines the first week will save you cleaning up those glue bottles, or fussing about line behavior all year long.

While we're getting off to a good start, we also need to be thinking ahead to the biggest challenges of the school year.  If you're expected to teach students 30 sight words by the end of the year, or how to write numbers to 100, you can't wait several weeks to get started.  The biggest, most difficult tasks become much more doable when broken down into tiny chunks.  Teacher tip #4:  Break down the biggest challenges into smaller parts, and get started right away.  

Remember, these are little people we're teaching!  Getting started on challenging activities doesn't mean boring drills and worksheets all day long.  You'd rather have fun, and so would your kiddos!  Teacher tip #5 Make it fun! Play learning games, read and write silly stories, incorporate hands on activities and interaction throughout the day.  

One of the ways I like to make reading fun, is  to use reproducible readers with my students.  I love that we can read them individually or in small groups at school, and that I can then send them home for more practice.  I tell my students that when they take their books home, it is their homework to read it to someone at home 5 times.  Each time they read it, they have mom/dad/caregiver/grandparent/sibling - who ever it is - write their name on the back cover.  When they have 5 names on it, they can bring the book back to school and I'll put a stamp or sticker on it.  You might have them store these books in an individual book box at school, or let them take them back home again.  

Since I enjoy using reproducible readers, I decided to make one free for you today! This one has predictable text and sight words, so even the youngest children can be successful readers - and this booklet gets you off to a good start with sight words: I, see, a, red.  Just click on the square image to go to my TeachersPayTeachers store and download it.  If you can also take a moment to leave feedback, it would make my day!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Emergent-reader-red-3327294
Here's what you get:









If you like this reproducible emergent reader, and you'd like more like this, the freebie is a small sample from:
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Color-Words-Emergent-Readers-for-Guided-Reading-2727117
The full version includes both b&w and color versions, plus a larger pocket chart version for each of the 10 major colors.  Each of the booklets has a different predictable text, and between them students practice 22 pre-primer and primer sight words!  You can find this, and many other great back to school resources in my TeachersPayTeachers store, along with 20 other free downloads!  I hope you find something to help make your back to school season wonderful.

Thank you for stopping by!  For more ideas from the #Kinderfriends, hop on over to:
The Barefoot Teacher




Monday, August 7, 2017

$75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card Giveaway!

Has school started for you yet?  If you're in the U.S., it either has, or soon will!   Either way, setting up and running a classroom can get expensive.  Every month a small group of teacher-authors gets together to make someone's day with a $75 gift card to TeachersPayTeachers.  You could use it for classroom decor, clip-art to put the finishing touches on the things you make for your class, time saving ready-to-go lesson plans, hands on STEAM activities or games for the classroom.  Maybe you aren't a teacher, but you'd love to give a teacher you know something (s)he'd love.  Either way, I hope you have an awesome school year, and that you'll join in and enter our giveaway - good luck everybody!

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  
Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card
Giveaway Organized by: Kelly Malloy (An Apple for the Teacher)
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter.  Giveaway ends 8/13/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Stressed? Here are 25 simple, free solutions


It's been a crazy few months for my family.  We've had 2 graduations, a wedding, serious illness, house guests, a couple of road trips, and business travel. We've been to California, New York and Texas for these life events, and in a week I'm helping my youngest son fly the nest and head off to college - also out of state.  It's little wonder that I woke up this morning feeling completely done for.  Just done.  No energy.  No oomph.  No get go.  Nothing.  Just done.  All I wanted to do was sit... or better yet, sleep.

Since I didn't have the energy to walk the dogs (which is why they woke me at 6 anyway!), and had no motivation to get to work, I ended up taking my bowl of cereal outside and just sitting.  I listened to bees and a hummingbird.  I watched my dogs sniff through the garden.  I admired puffy white clouds against an incredibly blue sky - and I realized that all those things were .... well... healing.

I started to think of ways to relax, to de-stress, and in turn to find my energy and drive again.  Here's what I came up with.

1.  Sit outside and be aware of nature.  Look.  Listen.  Breathe deep and smell the air.

2.  Meet a friend and chat over a coffee.  Or tea, or anything else.  Chat over the fence with a neighbor.  Make a connection with someone you care about.

3.  Escape into a good book.  Or a trashy novel.  Whatever works for you!

4.  Go for a walk, or a run or a swim.

5.  Snuggle.  If you have a spouse, child, or pet, snuggle up.  It's seriously therapeutic!

6.  Turn off your phone, email, electronics, everything, and just disconnect for an hour.

7.  Visit your library, museum or park.

8.  Go window shopping in a place that makes you feel calm or happy.  I used to go to the craft store and caress the yarn, enjoying the combination of soft yarn and soft music.

9.  Nap. 

10.  Journal.  Write whatever comes to mind.

11.  Practice gratefulness.  Make a list of the things you have to be grateful for.  Don't forget the small things, which are actually the big ones: walking, breathing, loved ones.

12.  Perform a random act of kindness.

13.  Phone or Skype someone you haven't connected with in a while.

14.  Exercise.

15.  Indulge yourself with a bubble bath.

16.  Putter around the garden.

17.  Plant something.

18.  Put out a bird feeder in a spot you can watch.  See who comes to visit it.

19.  Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

20.  Envision your favorite place or dream vacation.

21.  Take photographs - or pull out an old album and revisit old memories.

22.  Volunteer.  Try your library, museum, place of worship, shelter.  Someone needs you.

23.  Listen to music.

24.  Please your senses.  Wear perfume or light a scented candle.  Put on a smooth creamy lotion.  Enjoy a hot or cold drink.  Put on a soft fluffy scarf.  Soak your feet in warm water.

25.  What goes here?  What is it that rejuvenates you?  Each of us has our own way of doing things, our own favorite ways to de-stress, and only YOU know what is the best answer for you.  Whatever it is, I hope you find your calm, relax, breathe, and feel ready to tackle the world again.