Mrs. Wishy Washy

Will Mrs. Wishy Washy ever get old? Joy Cowely's timeless book! I have taught 20 years of kindergarten, 19 years of that were double sessions. Consequently, I have taught over One Thousand 5 year olds the joys of Mrs. Wishy Washy. If you have never used this book, go directly to amazon and do not pass go!

Our Farm unit has a couple of activities related to Mrs. Wishy Washy, you may want to check it out.

Creating Portfolios

Student portfolios are simply a systematic collection of children's work that depicts samples of typical daily work, or areas of growth and development. This collection serves as a documentation of development and provides authentic assessment of growth over time. 

Here are my portfolio binders ready to go for my new kindergartners. I simply use a 1 1/2 inch clear-view binder, add an end sheet and a front cover in the clear view, and they are ready to accept children's artifacts.

I love portfolios, my students love portfolios and parents love portfolios! I had two graduating seniors visit me once with their Kindergarten Portfolios in tow. Consequently, I would venture to say that even their children will love portfolios.

I have a few portfolio helps that might help you get started if you are new to portfolios or wish to gain new ideas to enhance your portfolios.


Also, most of our units provide ideas for portfolio pages that will document learning during a certain theme.

Writing Center: Quick Kit

Create a great writing center this year that is easy to use!

*You will love this kit! it includes everything you need to set up your classroom writing center (Art can be easily scaled to fit your space). 

   -Writing Poster (Why Write) Remember to make this poster size if you wish!

   -Writing Titles: Books, Stories, Letters, Lists, Notes, Cards, How To, Labels, Recipes, Alphabet Letters, Sight Words, Important Words, Poetry

   -Writing Samples Posters for every title.

   -I Can Poster Activity Instructions for titled categories of writing

   -Blackline Activity Sheets For Independent student work.(Can be used as independent worksheets, or scaled to fit into an interactive writing journal).

Teaching Rhyming: Common Core Standards

This packet includes four lessons and a worksheet to help your students understand the concept of rhyming.  The lessons vary in style and format. Some lessons are scripted, others are designed for independent practice. Some lessons can be used with small groups while others can be completed with a large group. All lessons can be adapted to support struggling students or to challenge high-achieving students.

Rhyming Pairs: Matching rhyming words
Rhyme River: Producing rhymes
T-Shirt Twins: Matching rhyming words.
Home Sweet Home: Producing rhymes
Match a Rhyme: Matching rhyming words.

Teaching Syllables : Common Core RF.2b

Learning to read is crucial to success in school. Through research, educators have identified many skills that impact the reading process. These skills form the foundation for reading. 

The Common Core Language Arts and Literacy Standards address these early reading skills in the Foundational Skills strand. This strand begins in kindergarten and continues through fifth grade. Areas that form the foundation for reading are: Print Concepts, Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Word Recognition, and Fluency. 

One of the goals of Phonological Awareness is to help students understand sounds found in spoken words. Syllable, rhyme, and sound identification activities help students notice, isolate, and manipulate sounds, preparing them for phonics work as well as beginning reading.

This packet includes six activities to help your students understand the concept of syllables.  The lessons vary in style and format. Some lessons are scripted, others are designed for independent practice. Some lessons can be used with small groups while others can be completed with a large group. All lessons can be adapted to support struggling students or to challenge high-achieving students. 

Off To see the Wizard: Segmenting Syllables
Family Fun: Blending Syllables to Make Words
I Can: Sorting Syllables by Count
Syllable Sale: Counting Syllables
Animal Sort: Sorting Syllables by Count
Counting Syllables: Syllable Worksheet

Setting Classroom Expectations

Today I attended a great back to school motivational workshop taught by author and consultant Dr. Anita L. Archer. It was a great reminder that the first few days can certainly set the tone for the entire school year.
Some of her tips include:

  1. Set expectations, tell students that they need to learn how to be your students.
  2. Allow students opportunity to practice the expectations. (Tell them, model, practice, repeat)
  3. Don't ever assume, pre-teach all areas that may need attention.
  4. Allow students (gentle) re-dos to fix problems with routines.
  5. Teach with passion and manage with compassion
  6. Always deliver instruction at a perky pace.
There was a lot more I could add, but instead I will send you to her site:
What a great start for a new school year. Thank you Dr. Archer.

Sending Your Child to Kindergarten

Sending your first child to kindergarten can be an exciting and nerve wracking experience. It’s new for both of you, and as a parent, you want to make sure your child has a good year and that he/she is nurtured and valued for his/her individual strengths. You want your child to be taught according to his/her unique needs and encouraged to grow in a way that will strengthen him/her, not only academically, but socially, morally, and emotionally as well. So how to you find a kindergarten teacher who can do all these things for your child? Here are some things to look for:

A Kindergarten Science Center
--Are their obvious defined areas of learning (i.e. learning centers)? Your child needs to be taught in a way that allows him/her the opportunity to grow and develop through play; the way children learn best. There should be areas in the classroom dedicated to science, social studies, writing, building, dramatic play, technological skills, math play, and reading. All of these areas should show evidence of hands-on learning materials, as young children learn best from participating with academia, they do not learn from hands-off lecture or rote style worksheet learning.

--Do you immediately see discovery based learning materials? When entering the classroom you should see things like puzzles, magnets, magnifying glasses, and manipulatives. Young children learn best through hands on learning where they can make discoveries about the world around them. 

--Does the classroom have areas that promote play? Research shows that play is the work of children. Academic performance is improved when learning tasks are presented through playful situations. For example, children can understand the elements of a story better (characters, setting, etc) if they are asked to dramatize the story. There should be a playhouse or a play area in your child’s classroom as well as a block center and a sensory table. Areas like this show that the teacher is dedicated to teaching in a research based, age appropriate way.

--Are there areas that create artistic expression? Is there an area for painting, cutting, gluing and creating? Art strengthens spatial awareness, motor skills, problem solving, and persistence. Think of the child who has to work out how to cut up pieces of paper and glue them together in a way that makes a picture, not only is that child building the strength of his/her hands, he also needs to learn patience in completing the task--a skill that he can transfer to other academic areas.

--Are there areas to display student work? Seeing his/her own work in the classroom shows a child that he/she is valued and that his/her accomplishments are worthwhile. It gives him/her ownership of the classroom and ownership over his/her own learning.

--Is the classroom littered with print? Children need vast exposure to print in order to learn to read. Your child’s classroom should have evidence of literacy everywhere. There should be words everywhere in the classroom as a friendly invitation to reading.

So what if you can’t find such a teacher or a classroom? First off, remember that public education is public because it belongs to you! Your local elementary school belongs to you and your neighbors and you can make a difference in the quality of the education there. Here are some ideas that can help improve the quality of your child’s kindergarten:

--Volunteer in the classroom and get to know the teacher. Teachers feel overwhelmed by the academic pressures that become ever greater each year. This leads many to think that they need to remove anything from the day that isn’t strictly academic. This is faulty thinking, by the way, research into the way young children learn shows that they will actually do better academically when taught in a way that reflects their need to play, experiment, and create. Teaching to the whole child actually leads to better results, but we live in a world of stressful academic pressures, and some teachers bow to it out of fear of poor test results. If you feel like the needs of your child as a whole are not being met, volunteer to spend time in the classroom filling in some of the holes. Do painting and art projects or play academic games with the students while the teacher works with small groups. Bring in experiments for the class to try. Your child’s teacher will be grateful for the help and the children will benefit from the added experiences. 

Kindergarten Common Core Thematic Units

As a beginning teacher my first professional development I attended was given by “Susan Kovalik & Associates” on Integrated Thematic Instruction. I was excited about the training and the idea of choosing a year-long-theme. Choosing a theme and plugging everything else into it seemed like a logical way to make sense of instruction; not only for myself but my students.
I quickly chose the theme “A Great Adventure in K” and began to plan my thematic teaching. Now, 20 years later I am so glad for my foundational roots planted deep in the tenants of early childhood and brain research. I am also very happy for my very first professional development arranged by a great principal, Jylene Morgan. I am very glad that I jumped in head first and went the route of thematic teaching! I would recommend to everyone to 1) Choose a year-long-theme and 2) Teach Thematically!
Before choosing a theme and plannning thematically, it is important to ask yourself, “Why?" What is your main motivation for thematic teaching? Is it to help children make links across different curriculum areas--to make learning authentic? If so..continue on!.
Following are the themes that we have developed and actually taught in our Preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st grade classrooms! We have found these themes to be exciting and engaging. Although all of the units are written specifically for kindergarten (with the exception of the 1st grade Polar Express Unit), they can be easily adapted for PreK and 1st. 

We have also sold these units to many homeschool parents. If you use these units throughout your child's homeschool PreK-1st experience, you will find everything you need to have a quality experience.

Welcome to Kindergarten Homework Packets: English and Spanish Versions

It is Back to School Time!

Start the year by establishing a fun and educational homework routine. Each month send home a monthly homework packet filled with active learning activities and games that are strategically liked to the Common Core Standards. These developmentally appropriate homework packets will leave your students and parents begging for more!

We offer 15 Kindergarten packets (includes intervention and Spanish versions) and 12 Preschool and First Grade Packets.
They will work for the described grade-level, but can also be use to differentiate the homework to match your child's current academic level.

Alphabet Lessons: Strategically Linked to the Common Core

These developmentally appropriate alphabet 

lessons are designed to teach early learners 

confidence with the alphabet.

The activities are based on reading research and national standards; they have been classroom tested by thousands of four, five and six year olds! The objectives, rationale, and/or language objectives are clearly stated for your added confidence. The material section is clear and concise to make lesson preparation a breeze! Remember to file all of the materials together in a file folder to make the preparation even easier the next time the lesson is delivered!

1. Building Letters
Objective: Students explore letter formation and analyze the similar features that letters share.
2. Write The School
Objective: Finding Alphabet letters in a familiar environment.
3. Bus Stop
Objective: Recognizing letters of the alphabet.
4. Letter Match
Objective: Matching uppercase letters.
5. Alphabet Relay
Objective: Naming uppercase letters at a fast pace.
6. Letter Treasure
Objective: Building toward automaticity of uppercase letters by playing an active game.
7. Don't Eat Pete!
Objective: Naming alphabet letters at a fast pace.

Assessing Common Core Standards: Kindergarten, Preschool

Assessing Young Children is one of the most important components of instruction. It is a means of determining what is occurring as individual students perform academic tasks. Assessments help teachers examine the strengths and weaknesses of developing minds and can pinpoint specific problems and highlight skills previously mastered. Ideally, the information and data gathered during assessments will guide and direct instruction, which in turn will lead to improved academic performance.

Kindergarten Kiosk has five great assessment options for Preschool and Kindergarten children. These assessments are well organized and very easy to use. Here is a small sampling of what purchasers are saying about these products.
“All I can say is thank you. So much time saved. This will be a plus for new and veteran teachers.” “Great!” Our whole grade level team is using this.” “Terrific!”  “Love it!”  “Love these!” “Great resource.” “Thank you for this wonderful creation!”

Check them out today. Be confident that you are preparing students for the rigors of the Common Core Standards.

Prepare Students for The Kindergarten Year
Prepare Students for The Kindergarten Year

Strategically assess Kindergarten Language Arts
Strategically assess Kindergarten Language Arts

This is not specifically linked to the Common Core. Rather, it is the basic reading foundational skills necessary for all beginning readers

Teaching: All About Love

Isn't this note adorable? Aside from the obvious assessment point that I should have focused more on question marks, this message says it all.

One thing I know from my years of teaching is that you cannot be effective without first loving your students. So, as I am preparing for the new year, I am trying hard to focus on what really matters. Yes, there are a million fabulous ideas on Pinterest that will make all of our classrooms adorable, and who doesn't want that? But what really makes the difference is not classroom decor, but loving our students and empowering them to be the best they can be.

Two things that I do in my classroom to foster the love I have for my students is my Star of the Week program, and My Student Portfolio System. My students love them, and I love that my students love them.

Teacher Pick-Me-Up Idea

Ok, so I will immediately give credit to my husband for this idea. Twenty years ago when I began teaching he told me to keep every thank you card that I was ever given by a parent, student, colleague, administrator, etc. and place them in a box. Then, when I was having one of those hard teacher days, simply pull out the notes and read a few. So, that is just what I have done.

I have spent this week finally putting them in a scrapbook binder, organized in a state they deserve. What treasures! Here is a picture of some of the sheets ready to go into the book, and of course my class photos.


If you are not doing this, start right now! You will love the results.