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Monthly No Prep Homework Packets: Preschool, Kindergarten & 1st Grade             
These easy to use, no-prep homework packets are intended to be copied and sent home with Pre-Kindergarten, T-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and/or 1st grade students during the month of February.

These packets (all 12 months are available) offer an opportunity for students to practice early learning skills that are typically being taught during the winter months with family members. However, you will also find the varied activies to be useful as center activities, targeted instruction, supplements for students at diverse learning levels, second language learners and more.

Parents and children love these easy to use packets and beg for more! The monthly nature of the packet offers great flexibility that fits the busy lives of families.

Subtraction in Kindergarten

I have just finished teaching the subtraction unit to my kindergartners this week, and this video pretty much sums it up.

If you are looking for more subtraction practice for your kiddos, you might want to check out these practice worksheets.


Sight Word Card Sets

 Are you looking for some great flashcards to supplement your Wonders Reading Program? This set contains 21 sets that can be used as flashcards, write the room cards, game cards, fluency cards, writing center cards, and on and on.

Contents Include

Star Word Cards
Basketball Word Cards
Apple Word Cards
Space Word Cards
Clover Word Cards
Pocket Word Cards
Piggy Bank Word Cards
Leaf Word Cards
Valentine Word Cards
Framed Word Cards
Fish Bowl Word Cards
Gumdrop Word Cards
Beehive Word Cards
Bathtub Word Cards
Little Chick Word Cards
Horse Word Cards
Lamb Word Cards
Mud Word Cards
Penguin Word Cards
Halloween Headstone Word Cards
Panda Bear Word Cards

The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers (NY Times Article)

This is my 22nd year of teaching kindergarten and consequently I have been able to see the fruits of my labor as I follow the lives of former students (of whom I all love, by the way)! I have seen my students become professional football players, businessmen, teachers, loving mothers and fathers, (sadly) prison inmates, and of course much much more.  

Was I able to predict what their future held for them in kindergarten? 

I love this article that was published in the New York Times on July 27, 2010, written by David Leonhart.  

The Case for $320,000 Kindergarten Teachers

How much do your kindergarten teacher and classmates affect the rest of your life?

Economists have generally thought that the answer was not much. Great teachers and early childhood programs can have a big short-term effect. But the impact tends to fade. By junior high and high school, children who had excellent early schooling do little better on tests than similar children who did not — which raises the demoralizing question of how much of a difference schools and teachers can make.
There has always been one major caveat, however, to the research on the fade-out effect. It was based mainly on test scores, not on a broader set of measures, like a child’s health or eventual earnings. As Raj Chetty, a Harvardeconomist, says: “We don’t really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes.”
Early this year, Mr. Chetty and five other researchers set out to fill this void. They examined the life paths of almost 12,000 children who had been part of a well-known education experiment in Tennessee in the 1980s. The children are now about 30, well started on their adult lives.
On Tuesday, Mr. Chetty presented the findings — not yet peer-reviewed — at an academic conference in Cambridge, Mass. They’re fairly explosive.
Just as in other studies, the Tennessee experiment found that some teachers were able to help students learn vastly more than other teachers. And just as in other studies, the effect largely disappeared by junior high, based on test scores. Yet when Mr. Chetty and his colleagues took another look at the students in adulthood, they discovered that the legacy of kindergarten had re-emerged.
Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.
All else equal, they were making about an extra $100 a year at age 27 for every percentile they had moved up the test-score distribution over the course of kindergarten. A student who went from average to the 60th percentile — a typical jump for a 5-year-old with a good teacher — could expect to make about $1,000 more a year at age 27 than a student who remained at the average. Over time, the effect seems to grow, too.
The economists don’t pretend to know the exact causes. But it’s not hard to come up with plausible guesses. Good early education can impart skills that last a lifetime — patience, discipline, manners, perseverance. The tests that 5-year-olds take may pick up these skills, even if later multiple-choice tests do not.
Now happens to be a particularly good time for a study like this. With the economy still terribly weak, many people are understandably unsure about the value of education. They see that even college graduates have lost their jobs in the recession.
Barely a week seems to go by without a newspaper or television station running a report suggesting that education is overrated. These stories quote liberal groups, like theEconomic Policy Institute, that argue that an education can’t protect workers in today’s global economy. Or they quote conservatives, like Charles Murray and Ramesh Ponnuru, who suggest that people who haven’t graduated from college aren’t smart enough to do so.
But the anti-education case usually relies on a combination of anecdotes and selective facts. In truth, the gap between the pay of college graduates and everyone else grew to a record last year, according to the Labor Department, and unemployment has risen far more for the less educated.
This is not simply because smart people — people who would do well no matter what — tend to graduate from college. Education itself can make a difference. A long line of economic research, by Julie Berry CullenJames HeckmanPhilip Oreopoulos and many others, has found as much. The study by Mr. Chetty and his colleagues is the latest piece of evidence.
The crucial problem the study had to solve was the old causation-correlation problem. Are children who do well on kindergarten tests destined to do better in life, based on who they are? Or are their teacher and classmates changing them?
The Tennessee experiment, known as Project Star, offered a chance to answer these questions because it randomly assigned students to a kindergarten class. As a result, the classes had fairly similar socioeconomic mixes of students and could be expected to perform similarly on the tests given at the end of kindergarten.
Yet they didn’t. Some classes did far better than others. The differences were too big to be explained by randomness. (Similarly, when the researchers looked at entering and exiting test scores in first, second and third grades, they found that some classes made much more progress than others.)
Class size — which was the impetus of Project Star — evidently played some role. Classes with 13 to 17 students did better than classes with 22 to 25. Peers also seem to matter. In classes with a somewhat higher average socioeconomic status, all the students tended to do a little better.
But neither of these factors came close to explaining the variation in class performance. So another cause seemed to be the explanation: teachers.
Some are highly effective. Some are not. And the differences can affect students for years to come.
When I asked Douglas Staiger, a Dartmouth economist who studies education, what he thought of the new paper, he called it fascinating and potentially important. “The worry has been that education didn’t translate into earnings,” Mr. Staiger said. “But this is telling us that it does and that the fade-out effect is misleading in some sense.”
Mr. Chetty and his colleagues — one of whom, Emmanuel Saez, recently won the prize for the top research economist under the age of 40 — estimate that a standout kindergarten teacher is worth about $320,000 a year. That’s the present value of the additional money that a full class of students can expect to earn over their careers. This estimate doesn’t take into account social gains, like better health and less crime.
Obviously, great kindergarten teachers are not going to start making $320,000 anytime soon. Still, school administrators can do more than they’re doing.
They can pay their best teachers more, as Pittsburgh soon will, and give them the support they deserve. Administrators can fire more of their worst teachers, as Michelle Rhee, the Washington schools chancellor, did last week. Schools can also make sure standardized tests are measuring real student skills and teacher quality, as teachers’ unions have urged.
Given today’s budget pressures, finding the money for any new programs will be difficult. But that’s all the more reason to focus our scarce resources on investments whose benefits won’t simply fade away.

What Should Young Children Be Learning?

Dr. Lilian Katz has certainly shaped me as an educator. I think I have read and studied everything she has written, and  I could listen to her words of wisdom all day long.  Following are but two bits of wisdom she imparts...

“If you do not build a foundation properly, it can be dangerous and very expensive to repair.”

“We must resist the temptation to start our students on the 3rd floor.” 

This video is lengthy, but well worth the time for all educators and parents of young children! Dr. Katz uses the analogy of structural engineering and foundational education.

Making Snowflakes

Although true snowflakes are hexagons, a square is the perfect way to help young children learn how to independently cut snowflakes!

And as everyone knows, all kids love to make snowflakes! In fact, they can go through a ream of paper in a very short time. If you are low on that precious commodity, kids are just as happy with newsprint, recycled paper, or any scraps that are readily available. They love to use magazine pages, newspaper ads, discarded homework, etc. 

By taking advantage of this natural enthusiasm for snowflake cutting and simplifying the activity, it becomes a great opportunity to review basic shapes, aid development of hands and finger muscles, and build student independence and confidence.

Students will also have the opportunity to be creative through experimentation and practice. 

So, cut a stack of various size squares of various types of paper, model "How-To," hang the instruction poster and let the scraps start flying!

If you are looking for some Wintertime activities, you may wish to check out these two quality products.


A Snowman Time of Year

Looking for a great Snowman unit that thematically includes  areas of literature, music, art, literacy, math, science, independent practice, creative writing, word wall, and guided reading? The activities in this unit are clearly written, easy to use, and need limited amounts of "one-time"  preparation. 

Table of Contents
 Literacy Activities:
Snowman Spill: Automaticy of Lowercase Letter Sounds
Snowman Match-up: Matching Letters and Sounds
Build a Snowman: Blending and Segmenting Words
Snowman Melt: Reading High Frequency Words
Draw a Snowman: Reviewing Early Phonics and Phonological Skills
Independent Practice
 My Favorite Things: Identifying Medial Sounds
Beginning Sounds: Identifying and Writing Beginning Sounds
A-Z: Fluently Connecting Dots From a-z.
Writing the Alphabet A-Z and a-z: Practicing Alphabet Letter Formation
 Math Activities:
Snowball Fight: Comparing Numbers
The Snowman’s Buttons: Decomposing Numbers
Snowman Sets: Joining Sets Using a 10 Frame Strategy
Snowman Sums: Making a Sum of 10 Using an Unknown and a KnowN Addend With Visual Representation.
Independent Practice
Symmetry Snowman: Symmetry Activity
Snowman Puzzles: Using Geometric Shapes to Construct a Snowman
The Tallest Snowman: Measurement
Snowman Number Hunt: Matching Quantity and Numerals
Math Journal Prompt: Joining Sets
Guided Reading Books
The Snowmen (Level B)
The Snowmen (Level C)
Writing Prompts/Word Wall
My Snowman
How To Build a Snowman
Snowman Word Wall
The Melting Snowman: Observing States of Matter
Science Journal Page: Why does the sun melt the snowman?
Art Projects
Snowman Gallery Art Show
Marshmallow Snowman
Shape Snowman
Painted Snowman Portfolio Sample
Five Little Snowmen
I’m a Little Snowman
Drawing a Snowman