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Teaching Kids to be Kids!

I am so excited to be writing my first post on the Kinder Tribe Blog!!!! I love the unity that this tribe has brought me and the happiness I have gained from being able to be a part of such a strong, determined, and crazy (the good kind!) group of amazing teachers!!

I am just entering my second year of teaching and even though kindergarten is the only grade I have taught, I know it is where I am meant to be. There is something so magical and amazing about teaching kindergarten!!

Reflecting on my own experience in kindergarten, I remember how my teacher made me feel comfortable and always managed to make learning fun. She engaged us and let us learn while still letting us be kids. This is a concept that I try to incorporate on a daily basis.

Teaching a kid to be a kid. What a concept! I love the sound of it and I love depth behind it even more. Most of my little rays are five with the exception of two who recently turned six. Plain and simple, I teach CHILDREN. The last thing I want to do is take their childlike experiences away from them. I want them to explore, be adventurous, and silly. I want them to sing and dance and play with each other just like I did when I was in kindergarten.

What I do to keep my little rays excited to learn and remain the children that they are is simple. I teach them how to learn to be a kid. I teach them how to explore mathematics, literature, science, and all other topics with excitement and adventure. I take every opportunity I can to make a lesson an experience.

When whole group reading begins, I could just have my kids sit in their spots on the carpet. Instead of just simply sitting, we sing a song to get our bodies quiet and read to learn. When it is time to line up, I could have the kids line up quietly and leave it at that. To add some fun, once we are in line we giggle as we get those marshmallow toes ready for the hallway! Is it simple to make a transition more fun? YES! I even have kiddos who remind me if I forget! "Wait! Miss K, our toes haven't become marshmallows yet!!" When it is time to dance during our guided movement time, I get on the carpet with them and break out into Pop-See-Ko. I don't do it because I want to (lies: I TOTALLY want to!!) but I do it because I want them to see that it is okay to be silly. It is okay to let loose and be FIVE! They are so worried about getting in trouble or being told that they are doing something wrong that they lose their silliness. I never want to let that happen, rather, I want to ignite their inner child. I want to bring out the eagerness to learn and to grow.

When we started our unit on apples, we didn't have to do apple tasting. We didn't have to make applesauce. We could have stuck with the expectations and learned only about their lifecycle and read a book or two about them. It would be way less work, but would it be enjoyable?? Would my kids walk away from the week and be excited? Would they be talking about it in a few weeks? Nope. By making activities and opportunities for the kinders to explore and learn in multiple ways, they are BOUND to remember it.

In the end, it may not matter to some how their students learned. But to me, what is important is if they enjoyed learning it. If they were challenged, if they were encouraged, and if they were excited. As a kindergarten teacher, I want to make a difference. Not just in teaching my kids academics, but in teaching them what they need to know through being a kid.

It is my wish that every teacher remembers who they teach. CHILDREN. Take the opportunities to go above and beyond a simple lesson.

How is that for some Monday reflection???


What Worked Well Wednesday: Book Recommendations

Hey everyone!  This is Katie from Miss Kate's Desk.  Today's What Worked Well Wednesday is about something new I started this year and that is going great!

My school the past few years has had a big literacy focus.  We are trying to have students read on grade level and meet goals/standards but also to love reading.

I read a book this summer called "The Book Whisperer" and it inspired me to continue finding ways to give students time to read and read books of their choice.  It is written by a junior high teacher but I loved the book.  I wanted to try to do student book recommendations in the classroom but I didn't have the space for a wall of them.  Instead, I have a poster outside of our classroom door that features one student a week.

The student who is picked gets to...
* Have their picture taken with the book they are recommending
* Tell other students, school visitors, and whoever else may walk by our room why it is a good book.

I've had so many parents, other teacher, and other classrooms' students comment on our recommendation poster the past 5 weeks.  It's been great to show off books we love and to teach students how to give an explanation why and persuade others.

Here's a link to this *FREEBIE* poster.

I simply pick a student from popsicle sticks each Friday and they pick out a book, I write down their review (usually a couple of sentences or so), and then print out their picture.  I use sticky tack to attach the photo to the laminated poster that hangs outside in the hallway next to our door.

I hope this idea helps give you inspiration or makes you want to try this in your classroom!  It's an easy way to get students excited about reading and sharing what books they have enjoyed.

Growing Roots in our Students

Hey y'all!! Emily here, from Carnes' Corner. I found this quote on Pinterest over the weekend, and it was too beautiful not to share:

I love the fall colors, for one, and the words are just beautiful! I'm sure it could be read in many different ways, but I just love looking at it from a teachers point of view. 

As teachers, we are a HUGE part of our students lives (especially in kindergarten!)  It is super important that we stay in constant communication with our parents, so that all of us are on the same page.  I can only imagine the "roots" our students would grow if parents/teachers ALL worked together well!

This year, I'm not only sending out a weekly newsletter (via email) with important dates coming up, sight word lists, specials rotation schedule, etc., but I'm also using Shutterfly for my classroom website. It's been such a great tool!  I'm using it to share files (newsletters, homework calendar, etc.) as well as class photos.  My classroom parents can also share photos with each other of fun events.  I've absolutely loved it!

What are some ways that you are connecting with parents? Do you feel that you have a good relationship with your classroom parents?

Feature Friday Fun: Casey Harlan from Grow and Enjoy!

It's finally Friday! Not only are we all screaming TGIF {or maybe that's just me? :) }, but today's the day we feature one of our amazing Kinder Tribe members!

Today we are featuring Casey Harlan who wrote a fabulous post all about colors. This is an activity that is not only perfect for the beginning of school, but is extremely functional throughout the entire school year. There's nothing better than meaningful classroom decorations! Take it away, Casey! :)

Hello fellow Kinder Tribe members! I hope you have had a great start to your school year. My name is Casey and I am a second year kindergarten teacher in Kentucky. I also blog over at Grow and Enjoy. You can find links there to my other social media platforms and my TPT store.

Today I am going to share one of my favorite projects that is perfect for the beginning of the year!

I completed this project with my students for the past two years and it has been a huge success. The students love participating in a project that becomes a permanent part of their classroom.

The color wall project concludes a week long emphasis on colors. It is also part of the students' first homework assignment. Students work with their parents throughout the week to collect examples of different colors.

Some favorite things to bring in are magazine clippings, photographs, fabric, and food labels. You can tell from the pictures below that we get a wide variety of items!

The students bring their items in on Friday. We then sort them as a class onto the various posters. I cut the words for the posters out with a Silhouette Cameo.

Not only do the posters look awesome, but this project also teaches me a lot about the students. One student spent time with her grandmother searching through her sewing fabric. One student brought in clippings of all different color cars last year because he loves cars. Another student brought in Iron Man for the color red because that's his favorite super hero.

I love that each of my students have a little piece of themselves hanging up in our room (even if it is one of their socks!) The posters then become a functional part of our classroom known as "The Color Wall". Students use it throughout the year as a reference for spelling. 

Here is how our color wall turned out this year. I would highly recommend this project for all kindergarten teachers! Students practice color recognition, sorting, and immediately feel ownership for the classroom.

Thank you for the Kinder Tribe for hosting me today! If you would like to follow me elsewhere please check out Grow and Enjoy. You can also search for Grow and Enjoy on TPT or Pinterest  or @caseharlan on Instagram.


What Worked Well Wednesday: Fine Motor Skills

Hey everyone, it's Amanda here from Mrs. Pauley's Kindergarten with you today.

I wanted to share a quick idea that has been working well in my classroom to help my students develop their fine motor skills and handwriting strokes.

I have started hanging up white butcher paper on the wall and showing my students a particular handwriting stroke.  Then we practice it with our fingers in the air.  Next, I give students a marker and let them practice that stroke on the butcher paper on the wall.  They each make 5 - 10 strokes on the butcher paper.

Once we have each had a turn doing this on the butcher paper, we go back to our seats and then practice the same handwriting stroke on blank paper with crayons.

I'm sure you know, just like I do, that students think everything is more fun when we let them use markers or crayons rather than

What Worked Well Wednesday - Fine Motor

Happy Wednesday Everyone!
This is Kelly from My Fabulous Class.
I am so excited to be hosting another addition of What Worked Well Wednesday.

I get so excited when I hear teachers talk about what is developmentally appropriate in Kindergarten. So many fabulous teachers are talking about how they are bringing play back into the classroom. They are focusing on hands on activities and saying bye-bye to worksheets.


I know this is scary for some of you. 

I know some of you feel there is NO TIME for fun in Kindergarten! 

Common Core is intense. No Doubt.It can get stressful to balance an intense curriculum with play. This year, I tried to think about both of those when I created my fine motor centers. I think we can all agree that developing fine motor skills is a crucial piece of Kindergarten.

I made these dot letter cards to be used in a variety of ways. My students love using tweezers to place buttons on pom-poms on the dot cards. Another fun idea is to roll small play-dough balls and place them on the circles. I was surprised at how many kids could not do this seemingly simple skill. There is also a black and white version that is PERFECT for bingo dabbers. What kid doesn't love bingo dabbers? I love that they have beginning sound pictures on there. You may not be directly teaching the beginning sounds but they will start to make the association. When you ask them for a word that starts with d, they will hopefully day dog. You can find these HERE.

We all know the importance of number recognition and subitizing. These FREE number cards were a HIT! Again, we played with buttons, pom-poms, and play-dough. You can these HERE.

Clip-cards are another great fine motor activity. It may seem easy, but it takes some skill to squeeze and place. Teacher Tip- Don't buy them at the Dollar Store. They break much easier. They are only $1.50 at Wal-Mart and last longer. You can get these adorable Number Clip Cards FREE HERE. Be sure to let Kamp Kindergarten know how much you love them. The Beginning Sound cards come from my Beginning Sounds Mega Pack.

I LOVE these FREE Play-dough shape cards. Oh, my. I'm not sure what is trickier for Kinders- rolling balls or rolling snakes. Many kids are able to identify their shapes, so for an added challenge, I have them count the corners and write the number in the middle with a dry erase marker. You can get these FREE HERE  from Life Over C's. 

This little muffin tin is by far the class FAVORITE. Seriously. They ALL want it. I first saw the on Little Minds at Work. Yes, I know I could have made it, but I LOVE the little muffins. You can switch out the little circles to work on different skills. It has been a lot of fun to watch kids try to scoop up letters with the purple scooper. I added in the tweezers for a student who just couldn't scoop it. You get this on Amazon or, if you have enough points, snag it from Scholastic.

Looking for more ideas for What Worked Well for other teachers? Check out the websites below.
Do you want to share an idea that worked well for you? Link up below. Please only link up to your blog. Thanks!

Our Feature Friday Post: Stacey Brednich from Giggles and Glue Sticks

Happy Feature Friday! 

It's the day of the week that we feature one of our amazing Kinder Tribe members who will share some wonderful Kinder Wisdom with us!

Today, we are featuring Stacey Brednich who wrote a fabulous post all about apple activities. Perfect for September, right? She has integrated so many subjects into her apple theme and she has included the perfect FREEBIE at the end just for you! 

Tis the season for.... Apples!!

Hello, I am Stacey from Giggles and Glue Sticks and I am so excited it is September! Time to bring out all of our apple math and literacy centers and have some apple fun! I am going to share with you some of the activities we do in September all centered around apples! 

  I created this pack to have a quick and easy go-to for a review of muliple early literacy skills. For this month the theme is APPLES, of course!!! For each of the 6 pocket activities, there is a little song to go with it. Some days we have time for the songs, some days, we just go down the pockets and it gives me a quick assessment of what to work on more. But the skills covered are (1) letter identification (where is the worm hiding), (2) word counting/sight words, (3) beginning/medial/ending sounds,  (4) syllables, (5) rhyming words, (6) segmenting and blending. It has worked beautifully for a fun little practice and review!

 Another great apple activity is reading about Johnny Appleseed! And we love QR Code listening centers...such a great way for students to listen to a story multiple times to improve comprehension, vocabulary, and reading fluency!

We also do lots of reading and writing fun with apples! We read poetry about the life cycle of an apple, we write and tell stories with our apple cubes, and we practice letter fluency by reading our apple strips! If you do Daily Five in your classroom, this is a great set to implement apple science into those centers.

I really LOVE math for little ones. There are so many fun, engaging, and hands on ways to teach number concepts to young children! And apple themed games are the best! 

This set has so many fun games to practice early math concepts! Great for centers, small groups, guided math groups....

We LOVE our Roll and Race games! It is one of our favorite go to centers and it practices couting, graphing, more and less!! I had one commenter mention that she used these games for morning work! Brilliant. Such a fun way to start the day!

And last but not least....another favorite....and FREEBIE!! Our number line mysteries are great mental math games that help students practice counting and number order! You can get this freebie or any of the other activities mentioned by clicking on the pictures! 

I hope this has given you some apple inspiration for this new month! Happy September! 


What Worked Well Wednesday -

Hi Friends! 

Hope you all are having a great week! This week's What Worked Well Wednesday is coming to you from Kirstin at Hip Hooray in K

Since I have only had my kiddos for about week, we have been working hard at setting routines and classroom expectations. I absolutely LOVE this time of year, although crazy, it grounds you.

Yes, they will walk in a line someday and they will be reading someday, but today amidst the shouting, sleepy afternoon eyes, questions, and chaos they are just little ones. We expect so much of them, but they have only been on this earth for 5 years - isn't that crazy to think about?!

I try to remind myself if it is a little like herding cats for the first month, that's ok as long as I am setting up routines and procedures that help my little ones eventually be successful in our classroom and school. Here's a taste of some of my classroom routines and procedures that work for us!

I can be a Kindergarten star

The second day of kindergarten, we talk about what we learned the first day. How we walked in the hallway, how we raise our hands etc.  It's a great time to see who is recalling routines and who likes to participate in group conversations.  I create a anchor chart that is mainly pictures with five components that I want us to practice:

-Safe hands & feet
-Mouth, nice speaking words
-Bubbles, in our mouth and around us when we sit on the carpet
-Listening ears & thinking brain, we turn our ear volume up and are always good listeners
-Happy heart, we make good choices that make us and our friends happy

I leave this up as part of our focus wall for the morning for the first month of school. Not only am I helping our kiddos create routines but also introduce them to using anchor charts.

Bubbles & Breathing

Many of you probably use "bubbles" when you need your kiddos to be quite.  As in, "Alright everyone, catch a bubble in your mouth!" And your kiddos hold their imaginary bubble in their mouth in the hallway, while you are giving directions, etc.

I like to add in an important breathing component as well. When we are practicing catching our bubbles, we take three long breaths before we hold our bubble.  This is how I start training my kiddos to use their breath to calm down. Later in the year we will use breath much like in yoga to calm and recollect. When we practice letting our bubble go, we will use different techniques such as blowing the air though our nose, or out a straw, or even blowing our bubble as far away as we can! This doubles as a brain break! And its FUN!

Show Me Don't Shout It

I probably say this 23974978 times a day. We teach the kiddos to give us hand signals for everything. If the kids agree or want to say yes in a group setting, we nod or give a thumbs up. If we have to go to the bathroom, we pull on our ear. When my little friends shout out I always just remind them, "Let's say it not shout it!" And they immediately do so -well most of them :o). Teaching your kiddos that you can validate them easier when they show you helps manage the classroom as well as helps you get to more kids at once. When I ask for a hand signal and get one, I always give a responding signal back.

Take Home Tool Book

Part of our classroom routines include teaching my little ones to be responsible and intrinsically motivated learners.  We use our Take Home Tool Book as part of these procedures.  Students have a take home folder that is filled with resources they can use for their homework & extra practice, iPad passwords, and information for parent helpers.


So this is more for the parents, but our teamwork helps get the kiddos into a routine faster. Remind is a text messaging app. You send a message out to your whole class or just a group of parents and they can answer back without you sharing your phone number. Don't worry, you can also chose for parents not to text you back ;o)

This is key for us though. I will text things like, "Please remember to review the lunch choices with your student so they know what to order when they get to school!" So I am sending the reminders to the parents, but asking them to give some responsibility over to their child as well. You could also text Johnny, Jordan, and Jaime's parents specifically to remind them that field trip forms are due tomorrow. It's seriously great.

For the last week, those are the procedures that have worked well in our classroom. What are some procedures that you can't live without at the beginning of the year?