Back to School Read Alouds: Read alouds are one of my favorite things in the whole world. Here is a list of my best picks for beginning of the year read alouds.
How Do Dinosaurs Go To School
I really love to read this book. My students roar with laughter as we read about the dinosaurs that don’t know how to act at school. My freebie for this book is HERE on google docs.
All Are Welcome
I *love* this book and the message that it shares. ALL are welcome here (at school). For some kids, school may be the only place they feel welcome. The book is compiled of short rhyming verses so it’s fun to read, too! For this book I created a little coloring page using MelonHeadz clipart (there’s a blank page for them to draw themselves and their friends, too). You can get it HERE.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates
We really shouldn’t eat them, should we? The story is about a sweet little dinosaur on her first day of school. She learns to make friends and learns the lesson to treat others how you want to be treated.
David Goes to School
I introduce David with No! David. Kids love him and the universal message of being told no. Usually I will read it and then the next day I read David Goes To School. We discuss rules in terms of natural consequences and what would you do? scenarios. We usually do a David Directed Drawing(free, just click link) and also the David writing page below that you can find HERE.
Angie Neal also has a great little craft and writing set you can find HERE.
Giraffes Can’t Dance
This is THE BEST book for goal setting. The Brown Bag Teacher has an awesome post about this activity and the “power of YET.” We discuss our goals for the year and then chart the things we can’t do…YET!
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
This is an old favorite and the rhythm of the text makes it a book kids love. I usually pair it with a simple craft from Deanna Jump’s Names pack. I use cut up sheets of letter stickers for the alphabet that the kids add to the torn paper coconut tree.
This is another activity from that pack that I do every year:
Too Much Glue
This is a great book for obvious reasons. A dot of glue will do! I use real glue in my room right from the beginning which means we HAVE to discuss the best way to glue things and not make an “ocean of glue.” FREEBIE-LICIOUS has a freebie for glue practice.
Pout Pout Fish Goes To School
The message of this book is that may not be able to do everything YET, butt hat’s ok. You aren’t supposed to, that’s why you’re coming to school. We will al learn together.
If kindergarteners or any child needs a reminder at the beginning of school, it’s to try not to interrupt. Note that I said “try not to” as opposed to “not.” It’s a skill that can take a lifetime to learn. I found this adorable free activity by Mrs Wheeler’s First Grade Blog.
Fun story sort of like A Bad Case of the Stripes. Anya wakes up with a tiger tail on her first day of school. She learns that we should celebrate the differences between us. I made a fun printable for the book on google docs.
My favorite books for the first day of kindergarten:
Robot Close Read and Crafts: Can you believe I started this unit back in 2014? A lot has happened since then and obviously it got placed on the back burner until now. But I finally finished it and I am super happy with how it turned out! This Robot Science unit is finally here!
That year we went to the science museum and I wanted my students to have some background with robots before we visited the museum. Here is the robot bulletin board we created:
I cut out the pieces for the craft (blackline template included in the unit). I made little tags for each stack. In the past, I have also given the kids the template and let them cut out their own pieces. They could assemble the pieces any way they chose.
Here’s a collage of many of the pages from the unit:
Directed Drawings Writing Page: Yes, we all know directed drawings are my jam. I also have two daughters that love all things kawaii, think Japanese Cute. After seeing all their cute doodles, I created a pack of directed drawings with all things kawaii. Expect to see unicorns, llamas, pineapples, alpacas, and more. These are some of my favorites from the new pack.
In addition to the new pack of directed drawings, I added several writing pages for those of you that want to “beef up” the cuteness.
Hysterectomies, Changes, and Mourning: This entire post may fall into the category of TMI. I like to write about what I am going through, it can be therapeutic, can’t it? Maybe I should start with the most recent facts. I have had a love/hate relationship with my uterus for about 5 years. I have repeatedly battled anemia, culminating in iron infusions last fall. It was like a cruel joke, the older I got, the worse it got each month. I always thought as I got older, they would just fade away? On top of that, I apparently also had fibroids and Adenomyosis. Neither of which is a good time and all of it could last another decade until I go through menopause. My gyn suggested a hysterectomy and so it was scheduled for last week. I kept my ovaries, thankfully, but everything else is outta there. I had a robot assisted total hysterectomy and have four smallish scars on my stomach to prove it.
Why is no one waiting on me?
Everyone says to take it easy, and I am trying. I had this vision that everyone would be waiting on me and helping me, but it seems a lot like any of the three times I came home with a baby. If I need or want help, I have to ask, which is not something I do easily. And when I do ask for help, I feel guilty. So I sit here, two days after my surgery having just swept the house and picking up after everyone. Such is life.
And then came the mourning
The other issue I am dealing with is this sense of loss that I had heard my come to visit. I am not sure it is actually about babies. I do love babies and think every time I see a Pampers commercial that I want/need another one. It’s simple for me to mentally recognize that as I knock on the door of 45, that time is over. My husband has had a vasectomy and I had an ablation, so it isn’t like it was even possible. But this removal, this emptiness is real. If getting your period was a beginning to your “womanhood” then is this the ending (in a way)?
Or maybe it’s about something more than becoming a woman or not, maybe it’s more about life and death. I was young once. Youthful and entering life without any idea of what it was actually about. Now I have passed all that youthful experience, I was a person before kids. Then I was a new mom. I was 20 and then 30…and then I was 40. I know there will be a point at which I look back and think how young I was still when I was 44. But I am not there yet. Where I am is a point at which I have a physical reminder, scars, that show me I cannot carry a baby ever again. That time has passed and I enter a new point of my life, as I get older. I am not elderly, by any sense of the word. But what I am is different than I was.
Change is confusing
It’s ok for things to change. It’s ok for me to change. Sometimes change is good. Sometimes change is necessary. There are times when change is both, good and necessary, but is also a little sad. That’s how I feel now, in addition to the physical pain I am feeling. I feel a bit confused over being sad. I feel fortunate to have had three great kids. Life is confusing like that. I appreciate what I have experienced, but that same life experience tells me I have no idea what’s really going on…any more than I did when I was 20. Life experience teaches you that you very rarely know anything for sure. I am not ignorant of how fortunate I have been to have the opportunity to carry and have three wonderful kids. I know I am. But I also feel a bit empty, too, right now.
Scholastic Teachables Giveaway: I am so proud to announce my partnership with Scholastic Teachables (formerly Scholastic Printables)! There is a special section where featured teachers have created exclusive printables that are not available anywhere else. Find my new Scholastic Teachables HERE.
The reason I love Scholastic Teachables is because at the spur of the moment I can login and immediately have access to hundreds of printables for terrific independent practice, group work, or project ideas. Hard to believe, but I don’t always have it all together. Cue your “Gasp!”
The other day I needed an activity for my kids to work on in pairs while I was at my guided reading table. Within a few minutes, I had printed out these mini-books for them to create, complete, and read together. There are literally 27 pages of mini-books! With your membership, you have access to all of them and so much more! Of course as I prepare for the never-ending report card testing I am positive this won’t be the only time I need Scholastic Teachables!
Soft Dice Sentence Builder Station: My kiddos have moved beyond abc’s and simply blending sounds. They are ready to start building and reading sentences. I created a literacy station using soft dice to motivate and entertain my students. The sentences they build are simple to read and can be silly. I also included color mats that correspond with the correct order of the sentence. The color of the trim matches the mat. For advanced students, don’t include the mats. You can find the Sentence Builder Pack on TpT.
Kids work alone or in groups to roll the three dice. They put the dice in an order that makes sense or matches the color 1,2,3 mats. Next they write the sentence that was built onto the recording page.
If you’re looking for the soft dice, you can find them here: (affl link)
I also added recording pages, one full page and another that’s half page.
My kids LOVE the station, kid tested- kid approved! Find it here.
Assessment in Kindergarten: ESGI- I won’t lie, assessment isn’t my favorite thing int he world. I like getting information about where my kids are and what they need, but the time it takes…AHHH! The biggest issue in kindergarten is that it isn’t as simple as upper grades where you can give them a paper and pencil test and (most times) you know generally what they need. In kindergarten, assessment is a one on one thing…for everything. In addition, you have to keep up with all the data and then make sense of it. I know I may be late to the ESGI party, but I FINALLY gave in and decided to give it a try. It was LIFE CHANGING.
I love that I have a quick and easy way to assess my kids. It’s simple to create assessments and share them with other teachers in my school and district. The assessments are specifically tailored to our report card. I ask kids to come up to my desk during transitions or down time and run through an assessment quickly. Immediately am given feedback about how they’ve improved and the percentage correct. I can click to see my class data, percentages and items correct. I can immediately print flash cards that are unique to each child and their incorrect answers.
The other thing I love is that when I revisit a test with a child, I am given the option to assess ALL the questions or just the ones they missed the last time they took the test. Wow!
And there are no flash cards to keep up with or paper copies to organize. It’s all at my fingertips, immediately with zero prep (once the tests are created). There are tests created by your favorite teacher bloggers like A Differentiated Kindergarten, Mrs Wills, and Dr. Jean. You know if Dr. Jean uses it, it’s worth a try!
If you are interested in giving ESGI a try, click HERE. Sign up using the code: BLUESKIES for a HUGE discount!
No, WAIT! Did I mention ESGI is having a Spring Fling??
Sign up for a trial using the code: BLUESKIES before May 15th, you get:
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2. $40 SAVINGS off of 1st Year Purchase Price
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This t-shirt makes me want to sign up all over again! In LOVE!!
Cue Infomercial music: “But wait, there’s more!”
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Just a few of the reasons you should try ESGI for free until August 31st next year:
To share progress with your administrators and parents before the end of the school year.
To show your colleagues how ESGI can save them SO MUCH TIME!
So you can get it set up & be ready to go for next school year!
Here’s the thing, I don’t promote things I don’t use or believe in. ESGI has truly changed the way I assess my kids. It saves me time and energy allowing my data to be immediately and easily available. Give it a try, you won’t be disappointed!
The Three Billy Goats Gruff: The third of my fairytale book companion and STEAM packs is my favorite so far. Included in the pack is a troll craft, STEM activity, writing activities, and more. My students love fairytales! You can find this Book Companion on TpT. Here are some pictures of activities from the week:
The trolls came out so stinkin’ cute, I just can’t stand it! We also worked on sound words:
For our STEM component, our challenge was to build a bridge that would hold 1, 2, and then 3 goats! I provided materials fo the teams and they designed, built, tested, and then revised their bridges.
I bought the goats on Amazon (affiliate link)
These are some of my favorites of our trolls, each one is unique and special.
And if you don’t speak fluent kinder, that says “get dry clothes!”
St Patrick’s Day Activities: St Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays to celebrate at school! There are SO many fun activities to do with your class. I am going to share my top 5 favorites!
1. Leprechaun Directed Drawing
My first directed drawing I ever shared and it’s a freebie! Included are simple, child-friendly directions AND a video. You can find the directed drawing freebie on TpT.
2. Leprechaun Craft
This is a craft that takes a bit of prep, but is worth it! The leprechauns are so stinkin’ cute and kids love them! You can find these cuties in my St Patrick’s Day pack on TpT.
3. Silly McGilly
I bet if you asked my former students what their favorite activity for St Patrick’s Day was, they’d say Silly McGilly! It’s a super cute story that comes with a doll that magically comes alive. Each year, when we go to lunch I have office staff come down to my room and add some leprechaun silliness! Last year, there were sticky notes on our door, green and orange streamers spread around the room, gold coins at each table, and pennies on the floor! It’s prime, so you could get it in plenty of time and use it over and over for years to come!
4. Torn Paper Rainbow
This is a fabulous activity from Kindergarten Smiles from her weather unit, but I feel like it would be perfect for this week! My students love torn paper activities.
5. Hat Headbands and beards
The beards are optional, but the hats are always a hit! Cut them out of green paper and staple to a sentence strip, easy and quick! You can find the hat and beard freebie on Google Docs.
My favorite read alouds for St Patrick’s Day (click on the pictures to find them on Amazon affiliate links): . . .
100th Day of School Ideas, you can never have too many! Our 100th Day of School is January 31st. I can’t believe how time flies and how every year my kids think school’s out after 100 days. I keep trying to tell them we have 80 more days to go after those 100! One of my favorite bulletin boards is the one below. I use the 100th Day bags from Really Good Stuff to send home with a letter asking parents to fill it with 100 items.
I also send home a letter to parents asking for donations. Wile they are at PE, I take handfuls of each snack and place them into baggies, all mixed up. Kids work during our special snack to fill a 100’s chart. Once filled, they put the snacks back into the baggy and feast! No, this is NOT the only way you can enjoy your 100th Day snack, it’s just the way I do it =) . If you would like a copy of the letter, it’s your lucky day! Find it HERE.