Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Quick Idea for Practicing Letters and Letter Sounds

I wanted to share this really easy idea for reviewing letters and letter sounds.

Each week I post a letter card with our focus letter on the door to our class bathroom. This gives the students an extra oppurtunity to see the letter throughout the day. It's really sweet to see them saying the letter name and sound before they enter the restroom.

This next part is so much fun! After the week is over, and I take the letter off of the bathroom door, I tack it up somewhere in the hallway. When we leave the room I tell the students to look for the letter. Since talking loudly in the hallway is a no-no, they are not allowed to say "I see it!" The rule is that they can point and say the sound that the letter makes.

I also post a letter outside our door. Each time they walk into the room they say the letter and it's sound.

The children really love this and I've noticed an improvement in some of my strugglers since I started doing this last month.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

1950's Number Matching Game

Each year our team celebrates the 50th day of school by learning about the 1950's. It's so much fun. I'll be doing several posts about our Fifties Day activities.

My students had fun with this number matching game. I cut apart the cards, and they had to match the number card with the picture card that had the same number of objects. I taught them how to play in small groups at my table, and will put it in a center next week.

Fifites Number Cards 1-10

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rock Science Mini Unit

I love to use rocks to teach the five senses. I know that you're probably thinking, "You can only teach 4 senses with rocks. You can't taste them!" If that's what your thinking then you're wrong! I'll get to the taste part later in this post.

I begin this mini-unit by reading the book "Everybody Needs A Rock." This book gives tips on finding the perfect rock. The tips encourage students to use many of their senses in their quest for a rock that is perfect for them.

After reading and discussing the book we go on a rock hunt.I give each student a plastic bag to put their rock in. I label the bag with their names. They have so much fun looking for their rocks. This year they found some really cool rocks.

When we come back inside from our rock hunt, the students draw a picture of their rock on the sheet below. They also finish the sentence "My rock is..." They have to choose a word to finish the sentence (we did this in late August, so I filled in the word for them), and they have to tell me which sense the word is associated with. For example if they choose brown they will tell me they used their sense of sight, and if they use smooth they have to tell me they used touch.
Rock Hunt Writing

I like to pull literature into my science activities. The story Sylvester and The Magic Pebble by William Steig goes well with this mini-unit. We talk about the ways that Sylvester's pebble is described, and what senses are used for those descriptions.

After we read the story I tell my students that I found some colorful pebbles, which I've put in a plastic bag. I tell them that we will be describing them with our five senses. They usually correct me by saying "Four senses Ms. Holzer. We're not going to taste them."

I pull one of the pebbles out of the bag. I hold it up and say "we're going to look at the pebble." Then I hit the pebble on the table, so it makes noise, and say "Then we're going to listen to the pebble." I run my fingers over the pebble, and say "We're going to feel the pebble." Next I hold the pebble up to my nose and say "We're going to smell the pebble." Finally, I hold the pebble up and say "Then we're going to taste the pebble." I then proceed to pop the pebble into my mouth and chew it up.

My students usually freak out. I get a lot of grossed out expressions. It is so funny.

Then I tell them that the rock was actually a chocolate candy, and they think it's hilarious. I give them each a bag of chocolate rocks to bring home. I tell them that their homework is to go through the five senses, and trick their family with the chocolate rock. They love this!

Before this year I hadn't done this activity for a few years. It's one of my favorites, but I had not been able to get to the store where I'd found the rocks. The realistic rocks are the heart of this activity.

 Last year a fifth grader, who I'd had in Kindergarten, was telling me that the rock activity had been one of her favorites. Not only did she remember the activity, but she could still remember exactly how I'd done it. This motivated me to go online and search for the chocolate rocks.

Amazingly, I discovered that they had them at my local Wal-Mart. Yay! I love Wal-mart.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

I have seen a lot of blog posts on Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. There are so many great activities to do with this story. I thought I'd share the things that we do in our class.

Of course, we start by reading the book.

Then we make our own Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Trees. My first few years teaching I traced all of the leaves ahead of time, since we do this the second week of school and I usually don't start teaching my students to use tracers until September. Thankfully, one of my teammates had the brilliant idea of copying the leaves on green paper (why didn't I think of that?).  It's a total time saver.

I used to have my students use foam letters to spell our their names. This year I let them choose their favorite letters. I think they came out really cute!

In the past I've had my students draw a picture of their favorite part of the story. This year I spiced it up a little bit by asking them to choose their favorite letter. They were so sweet about trying to figure out which letter they liked best. The first letter of their own names seems to have been a popular choice.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Favorite Letter Writing

After we finish I hang them in the hallway. They look so cute! When they come down I save them for the children's end of the year scrapbooks.

I also like to incorporate science into our unit. Since we start off our year learning about our five senses I incorporate science by having my students observe a coconut. We begin by observing the outside of the coconut.

The students look at the coconut, feel the coconut, smell the coconut, and listen to the coconut (we shake it to hear the milk swishing around and we hit it against our tables to hear the sound it makes).

We record our observations on a chart that is divided into 5 columns (one for each of the senses).
Unfortunately I did not take any photos of our chart. After making the class chart the students record their observations, using the sheet below. They draw a picture of the outside of the coconut, and complete a sentence that describes the coconut.
Coconut Observation Sheet

After this we crack the coconut open. My students look forward to doing this all week. In fact, this year they were very concerned when I loaned my hammer to another class the morning we were supposed to crack it open. I had to reassure them that we would get our hammer back.

After we crack it open we look at the coconut milk. Then we observe the inside of the coconut using our 5 senses, including taste. Then we record our observations on the class chart. Lastly, the students complete the bottom of their observation sheet by drawing a picture of the inside of the coconut and finishing a sentence that describes it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Five Senses-Introduction

I love teaching science! I have worked at two science centers (one during college and another during graduate school), and these experiences helped me to see how easy it is to make science fun and understandable for young students. I think Kindergarten is a great time to start getting students excited about science.
I like to start the year off by teaching my students about the 5 senses. I start by telling them that we are going to be scientists this year, and that part of being a scientist is making observations. I tell them that observations are exploring things using our five senses.

Then we go over each of our five senses. We point to our eyes for sight, our nose for smell, and our ears for hearing. We stick out our tongues for tasting, and we rub our fingers together for touch.

Then I read this book my Aliki, which is a great introduction to using our 5 senses,

I will be posting some of the five senses activities we do soon.

Monday, September 5, 2011

I Bought A Laminator!

I finally broke down and bought a Scotch Thermal Laminator. I have been dreaming about getting one for the past few months. Several of my co-workers have them, and they absolutely love them. One of my
co-workers let me use hers before school started, and I was hooked.
Making a Wal-mart run to purchase my laminator was the first thing I did after getting payed this week. I can't wait to laminate new center games, sight word cards, and classroom labels! I think I may need a lamination intervention by the end of the week.

I'll be posting Scott Foresman Homework for 1.3, 1.4, and 1.5 soon. I'm off to laminate now!. See you soon :).

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Scott Foresman Homework Unit 1 Week 2

This is the I used homwork for Scott Foresman Unit 1 Week 2. I am trying to work out a better way to post, because the handwriting lines don't seem to come through Scribd neatly. Any suggestions?

Homework. 1.2

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Scott Foresman Homework Unit 1 Week 1

This is the homework I send home with my students each week. The language arts homework goes along with the skills that we are working on in our Scott Foresman unit. The homework below goes along with Unit 1 Week 1 (we will be on Unit 1 Week 3 this week, so I'll be posting more soon). The last page is math and goes along with the skills we are working on in class.
Homework 1.1

Note: Some of the dotted lines don't come out right when I upload my documents to Scribd. If anyone knows how to fix this please let me know. Thanks :).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Class Handbook for Parents

After my first year teaching I went to a conference where Harry Wong was speaking. During his presentation he stressed  having clear policies and procedures in place for both students and parents. He also discussed the importance of documentation. After the presentation I decided I wanted to have a class handbook for parents.

I already had an introductory letter that I had adapted from a co-worker the year before. I used this letter as the basis for my handbook, and added more detailed explanations of my class policies and procedures.  I edit the handbook before the start of each school year.
Policies and Procedures for Parents

I include an acknowledgement sheet for parents to sign.
Handbook Sign Sheet

I put my handbook into a 3 pronged pocket folder. This allows me to put a copy of my class welcome letter and a student information card in the front and the acknowledgement form in the back. I put the handbook pages into page protectors. I think this looks nice and keeps them from tearing up. I also include a list of snacks and recipes that was provided to us by our school district.

I put a label on the front of the folder.

I send the handbooks home on the first day of school,  and ask that parents return the acknowledgment sheet and student information card by the end of the week.  I always make extra handbooks to have for new students who come in later in the year. It is nice to be able to provide them information about our class immediately, and I think it helps to make them feel more comfortable.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Welcome Letter

This is the letter that I give to incoming parents at our start of the school year social, which takes place the week before school begins. It provides general information about our class, and  gives parents an idea of what to expect on the first day of school.

Welcome Letter

On the first day of school I send home a class handbook with details about class policies and  procedures (I'll post a copy of that soon). I  also include a copy of this welcome letter with the handbook to ensure that parents who missed the social receive a copy. I think this letter helps set a nice tone for the school year.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Love Target's Dollar Spot!

For the past few weeks I've been seeing many teaching blog posts about great finds at Target's Dollar Spot. I've been stalking the Dollar Spot trying to find the stand up pocket charts I've seen on several blogs. I thought I was never going to find them. You can imagine my excitement when I found a bin full of them today!  I was so excited I just had to blog about it.

I plan on using them in my literacy and math centers. They will be super for my rhyming cards (click to see that post) matching activity. Did I say I was excited?  

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Money Collection Labels

In the B.E.E. Binders I send home each day with my students there is a pouch for money. The label on the pouch reminds parents that all  money  that is not going to be placed in their child's lunch account should be placed in an envelope labeled with what the money is for. I used to send home pre-printed money collection envelopes that I purchased at a conference, but I ran out of them a few years ago.

To make collecting money a little easier I created these money collection labels (my printer likes to eat envelopes, so printing on labels works better for me). I will place the labels onto envelopes and attach them to permission slips, book club orders, etc... I have put spaces on the labels for information I find helpful. I also put a place on the labels for my name. Hopefully this will help an envelope find it's way to my room if a student decides to take out the envelope on the bus (in the car line, at breakfast, etc...) to look at it, and accidentally leaves it behind J.

Money Collection Label
These are general labels that can be used for any money collections throughout the year.

Fieldtrip Money Collection Label
I will use these for fieldtrips. The envelopes are big enough for both the money and permission slips. Asking for both of these in the same envelope helps me stay organized, and reminds parents to send in both items together.

T-Shirt Money Collection Label
Every year each class on our team orders a different color T-shirt with the students' signatures on the back. The students wear these for fieldtrips and other special events. I included size on these labels because sometimes parents forget to write the size on the order form, and this will help ensure I know what size to order for each child.

Scholastic Orders Collection Labels
These labels will be used for Scholastic book orders.

Book Fair Money Labels
These labels will be used for school book fairs.

Note: These labels are formatted for Avery Standard, 5163 shipping labels.  .

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Letter Matching Activity

This is an activity that I adapted from the Rock Phonics activity that was created by Mr. Smith at If you have not seen his videos you need to check them out. He has a ton of really great songs and ideas. Plus, he is absolutely hilarious.

In his activity Mr. Smith wrote letters and word chunks on accent gems (the kind you use in flower arrangements) to use as word making manipulatives. I love this idea for a word making activity, and plan on doing that a little later in the year.

I adapted this activity so that I could also use it at the start of  kindergarten, when we are working on letter identification. I was in the Dollar Tree and found  bags of large and small gems. I thought that they would be perfect for an activity to match capital and small letters, because I could use the big gems for the capital letters and the small gems for the small letters.

I typed up a sheet of capital letters and a sheet of small letters. Mr. Smith wrote his letters on the back with a Sharpie. This works well with an overhead. I'm not going to be using these on an overhead, so I just typed the letters. If you write them with a Sharpie remember to write them backwards, so they show up correctly when you flip them over.

Letters for Gem Activity
(Note: There are some formatting errors that occured when I uploaded this document to Scribd, but it will still work)
After printing the sheets I cut out each row. I used a regular Elmer's glue stick on the back of the gems.  This seems to have worked well, but I had to make sure I rubbed the glue with a paper towel until it turned clear. I placed the gems over the letters and cut around the outside. Before I use them I will use Modge Podge to seal the papers onto the gems.

I'm going to place these in a literacy center. I plan on using these as a letter matching activity, and am also thinking about using them in a letter ordering activity. I think that my students will be really excited about using the gems. Thanks for the inspiration Mr. Smith!

Note: The camera and lighting caused a glare in some of the photoa, but they are easy to read in person.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Supply Labels

Each year our PTA hosts an ice cream social before school starts. This is a chance for students to meet their teachers and see their new classrooms.  This is also a chance for students to drop off their supplies before the first day of school.

This gives teachers a chance to organize their supplies before the first day of school. In the past I've had parents put the supplies into lockers labeled with each student's name. Since most supplies are used communally I would go back after they left and pull out the supplies to put away. This was very time consuming.

Last year Mrs. Hicks came up with a super idea. She labeled places on each of her tables with the names of different supplies, and had parents sort them when they dropped them off.  My other teammates and I followed suit. It was so much easier, and their were even parents who commented on how organized it was.

Last year I typed up labels with the names of each supply. This year I'm adding pictures to my labels, so that the students can help sort them. I'm going to tape the labels to the tables in front of a box or bin for each type of supply.

Supply Labels

I will still have them put personal items (i.e. rest mats, towels, extra clothes, pencil boxes, etc...) into their child's locker. I always feel that the more organized I can be before school starts the easier the first day of school will be. I would love to hear your tips about organizing supplies.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Absence Notes

Several years ago I bought a pad of absence excuse notes at a conference. The notes contained spaces for all of the necessary information. I sent a couple of notes home with each student in their first day packets. I also put one in their binder as a reminder if their parents forgot to send an excuse note when they returned from an absence.

This helped me to keep track of absences, and helped ensure that notes contained all of the information for the office.  I think this was also easier for parents, since they had the paper on hand. Of course, I ran out of these slips long ago. So, I decided to make my own slips.

Absence Note

I think I will be really pleased to have these on hand for the upcoming school year.

JP.S.  As I was getting ready to post this I saw a similiar letter on Mrs. Jump's blog. If you haven't already seen it, please check it out at

Monday, July 4, 2011

Fairytale Ball

At the end of our fairytale unit our entire kindergarten has a fairytale ball. This is so much fun. Everyone, including the teachers, dresses up as their favorite fairytale charactar. It is such a fun day!
This hand-made Pinochio costume was so creative!

Before starting the ball we parade around the school. The older students love seeing our kinders all dressed up. The kinders love all the cheers they get as they walk down the halls.

After the parade we all end up in the lunchroom for the ball. Our Kindergarten has over 120 students, so it takes a lot of planning (and a lot of parent volunteers and student helpers) to make this work. Over the past few years we've developed a rotation system. We divide the students into three groups (there are 2-3 classes in each group). Each group rotates through each of 3 stations. The stations each last around 20 minutes.

Station one is where the students get their pictures made against our fairytale backdrop.

They also get a cupcake and a cup of punch at this station.

When they're done with their cupcakes they can color a fairytale coloring page.

At station two the students decorate fun foam crowns. Mrs. Hicks ordered the crowns from Oriental Trading. The students have so much fun making their crowns, and they are a neat souvenir for them to bring home.

At station three we have singing and dancing. I've written story songs, which I perform with the students at this station. The songs tell an entire fairytale, with funny, rhyming lyrics. The song I used this year was The Three Little Pigs.
I choose students from each group to come up and act out the different charactars. All of the students join in during the part where the Big, Bad Wolf says "Little pig, little pig let me in."  I'm not a super singer, but the students never seem to mind J.

After we finish the story song we all dance the Hokey Pokey. By the time all three groups have come through the station I think I've burned enough calories to eat a cupcake. Lol.