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.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fairytale Book

Each year our kindergarten team does a unit on fairytales. I love teaching with fairytales. There are so many ways to incorporate math, science, and social studies along with reading and writing.

This year we had so much going on at the end of the year that I did not have time for all of the activities I usually plan. The activities I ended up using mainly focused on comprehension and writing skills. I hope to post the math, science, and social studies activities in the future.

I like to put my students' writing and art projects together into a book. They love getting their books at the end of the unit. They are so excited to look through the work they've done,  and share it with their friends (it's so sweet to watch them look through it with friends while they're waiting in the car line) and family.

After we read each story I have my students write about it. Then they create an art project to go with their writing.

I got the idea for this art project for The Three Little Pigs from Mrs. Hicks( The students chose whether they wanted to build their houses with  hay, sticks (toothpicks) or bricks.

They made a glass slipper and pumpkin to go with their Cinderella writing. A very sweet parent made these patterns for me several years ago.

They created the main character from Little Red Riding Hood for this page of their book. I would like to create a Big, Bad Wolf and Granny pattern to go with it for next year's book.

For their Hansel and Gretel page they made a gingerbread house. They used foam pieces that I had bought at Michael's (they were super cheap after Christmas) and paper pieces that I cut using my
Cri-cut.  This is another idea I stole  borrowed from Mrs. Hicks (

This is the art that they did for the Princess and the Frog. We watched the Disney movie, and read a storybook. The two versions were very different. I plan to include a compare and contrast activity with this story next year.

I have not done a page for Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs before. However, since my costume for our fairytale ball was going to be Snow White I wanted to include a page in their books. I came up with this art project at the last minute, and I really love it! My students loved making the sparkly apples (with the help of some super 4th and 5th grade helpers) too!

Up Next: Our Kindergarten Fairytale Ball

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Eric Carle Unit: The Very Hungry Caterpillar- Part 3

Throughout our Eric Carle Unit we study the lifecycles of plants and the different insects in the stories we read.  This is our activity for the lifecycle of a butterfly.

I have a pattern for the circle, which the students trace and cut out.  The different stages of the life cycle are on a strip of paper. I have the students color the pictures and cut them apart. Then they glue the pictures on the background paper. I punch a hole in the circle and use a brad to fasten it to the paper.



Up Next: Our Fairytale Books