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Enjoy a 20% off sale on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day!

Hoping for a Blessed Year for the Young Child and all that toil in their behalf!

Happy New Year: COMPLETE Thematic Unit

Although learning to tell time is not a math skill, and is not included as a Common Core Standard in kindergarten, the teaching of clocks as a tool for mathematical thinking is crucial. 

A clock is made of the numbers 1-12 laid out in numerical order. This alone makes the clock a handy aid when teaching counting and cardinality. Giving a student opportunity to work with clocks help develop number recognition, sequencing, and numerical order.

I think I have introduced clocks the first day back from winter break for the entire 23 years of my career (thank you Ruth Hepworth). Waiting for Monday morning, right at my carpet/calendar area, I have my little student size Judy Clocks ready to go and my copy of Hap Palmer’s, Paper Clocksready for the play button to be pushed. After we have manipulated the clocks to the song a couple of times, I love to have the students construct their own clocks to take home and show off their new skill of telling time to the hour. 


You may wish to check out our Happy New Year Unit that focuses on ways to measure time: Clocks and Calendars.


Creating Christmas Memories

I found this Santa in a box when I was cleaning this weekend. I made it in elementary school in the 1960’s, so it is 50 years old. It has brought back some great memories of the past. Here are a few Christmas school memories that I remember...

Decorating a classroom tree with paper chains and popcorn.

Drawing names and exchanging presents with my classmates.

Lining up to present our presents to the teacher.

Spending afternoons making crafts (like my cute Santa) and yes sneaking a taste of the paste.

Learning how to sing “Silent Night” in German.

Performing the Nativity as our Christmas Class Play.

Making a Reader’s Digest Magazine into a tree and spray painting it green.

Making a bowl out of clay as a present for my mom.

Obviously the things teachers take the time to do with their students at Christmastime will create lasting memories, mine have survived a decade. So as teachers work to make it through the exhaustion and chaos of the last week before the holidays, remember, you are creating memories that will not be forgotten.


Gingerbread Houses: The Christmas Kitchen

Looking for a special project to try before your Christmas or Winter break begins? Consider decorating graham cracker “gingerbread” houses! 

Recruit a volunteer to make the houses, make them yourself, or help your students put them together. Ask students to bring candy to share...tootsie rolls, kisses, hugs, m&m’s, dots, skittles, red hots, licorice, peppermint wheels, and candy canes are just a few possibilities.

If you make the entire house at school, it’s easiest to construct them during a center. Have the students work with you or another adult to put together the 4 walls. Next, join the 2 sections of the roof and set aside to dry. The roof can be attached to the house when everything is dry and stable. 

Whether you make the houses with the students or provide pre-made houses, the fun really begins with the decorating. Some students will cover the entire house with a conglomeration of candy; others will carefully choose candy and strategically place it on the house. Whatever the approach, the creations are beautiful and the students are thrilled with the results!

Although gingerbread houses are often associated with Christmas, you can decorate them at any time of the year. Use candy hearts in February or jelly beans in April! Culminate a gingerbread boy unit by decorating a house for him or make a special house for Hansel and Gretel as part of a fairy tale unit. Whenever you decide to decorate gingerbread houses, they will be a hit with your students! 

Check out detailed directions on the internet or find step-by-step directions in our Gingerbread Man unit.  Or try any of our Christmas products found on the side-bar of our blog. Have fun!

Children with Behavioral Issues Need Help, Not Labels

I feel strongly that, in the classroom of the young child, there is no such thing as a behavior problem. I do agree that there may be such a thing as a child who demonstrates negative behaviors.

Children at this age are experimenting with all kinds of behavior, some of the behaviors will be positive and some of them will be negative. Our job as educators is to teach children which behaviors are productive and which are not. I worry that as we smother our students with behavior charts, stickers, and contracts, we are taking away their chance to internally process what these behaviors mean. Worse yet, when children see their behavior chart constantly on "red", notice that they never receive stickers, or realize they never get a prize from the prize box, they will begin to feel that the behaviors that they have been demonstrating are a part of them, rather than an external activity that is fluid and can be changed. The child (and the teacher) will begin to believe that he/she is a "behavior problem" rather than a child who has a problem with behavior.

I feel the way we talk to young children about bullies is especially damaging. Instead of teaching children about bully behavior, we teach them that some children are bullies. Children will experiment with behaviors that exert some kind of power over other children. Unfortunately, if we have taught that children who act this way are bullies, instead of empowering them with the knowledge that the behavior is a bully behavior, we have taken away their chance to modify their actions. We have taken away their ability to change behavior and have attached a damaging label to the child himself.

This year I stumbled upon Wonder Grove Kids, a company that offers some great character building videos and supplementary materials. The Wonder Grove Learn Education Initiative covers eight critical areas of early learning that impact a child’s ability to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. The following is one of their videos:



Notice that the child in the video who is not keeping her hands to herself does not realize that the behavior is negatively impacting her friendship. This is something she has to learn. As educators, we need to spend less time dictating the consequences of behaviors to our students, and more time helping them internalize the negative impact that poor behavior has on their relationships. And we need to be especially careful never to label them, or allow them to label themselves as a "behavior problem". If we do, we have written their future for them.

Santa's Mail: Write-The-Room Sight Words or Alphabet Letters

Santa's Mail: Write-The-Room Sight Word or Alphabet



All students love to write the room! Especially when the writing involves Santa Claus!


This packet contains two Write-The-Room activities, one version for sight words (contains all words from Wonders, Journeys and Imagine It reading programs), and alphabet letters






















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Christmas Flashcards

Since Christmas seems to “take over” the thoughts of most children immediately following Thanksgiving, tap into this exciting time with holiday learning activities.  You can do this in a variety of ways - read holiday books, sing songs, plan some Christmas art projects, play number and other math games using holiday objects such as ornaments or bows, play literacy games featuring Christmas trees, Santa, and/or reindeer...the list goes on and on.

Christmas flashcards can add a touch of “fun” to your flashcards drills and activities. You can extend holiday learning beyond school by sending home Christmas flashcards. Use a set of letter sound flashcards at school and provide a corresponding black-and-white set for use at home to give your students an extra boost in recognizing and identifying letters sounds. 

By directing your attention to fun holiday activities, the next few weeks can become a time of productive learning. For holiday flashcards and other Christmas learning materials, check out these products:

      



Christmas Around the World: World Tour Mega Bundle

We have received numerous requests for a bundle of our Christmas Around The World products, and here it is! We are offering this for a great savings of $7.00, priced at only $18.00 for 370 pages of around the world cross-curricular fun for grades Pre-K, T-K, Kindergarten and 1st Grade.

Contents Include:

Christmas: A World Tour Part One

Part One of the “Around-The-World Tour” is filled with time-tested, quality activities that are strategically linked to Common Core Standards. It is divided into areas of literature, music, art, literacy, math, social studies, creative writing, word wall, and guided reading.

Part One Contents

Germany
Australia
Russia
Denmark
Spain
England
France
Africa
Canada
Greece

The activities include:

Literacy Activities
Australia: Surfing Santa: Segmenting Words
Russia: Land of the Sweets: Comprehension 
France: Le Reveillon: Rhyming
Greece: St. Nicholas’ Boats: Naming Sounds
Italy: Befana’s Toys: Changing Initial Sounds to Make New Words

Math Activities
German Advent Calendar: Solving Problems Using Mental Math Strategies.
Denmark: Nisse The Elf: Subtraction
Africa: Candle, Candle: Decomposing Numbers
Canada: Tree Delivery: Making Combinations for 10
Spain: Spanish Shoes: Writing Numbers
England: Stocking Stuffing: Counting Objects For a Given Number

Songs and Fingerplays
Germany: O Tannenbaum
Australia: Six White Boomers
Denmark: Ten Little Gnomes
Spain: Navidad

Art Projects
Germany: Star Christmas Countdown
Russia: Nesting Dolls/Nutcracker
Denmark: Danish Christmas Heart
Spain: Balthazar & the Wise Men
Africa: Candle Art
Canada: Strip Christmas Tree
England: Christmas Cards
France: Christmas Santons 
Greece: Christmas Fishing Boat

Kitchen
Australia: Pavlova

Writing
Country Word Walls

Guided Reading
Christmas Friends: Sight Word Reader
Class-Made Book: Around the World

Part Two of the “Around-The-World Tour” 
is filled with time-tested, quality activities that are strategically linked to Common Core Standards. It is divided into areas of literature, music, art, literacy, math, social studies, creative writing, word wall, and guided reading.

Part Two Contents
India
Sweden
United States of America
Bahamas
Peru
Israel
Mexico
China
Italy
Scotland

The activities include:

Literacy Activities
USA: Decorate Away: Blending Phonemes
Bahamas: Junkanoo: Using Common Nouns in Complete Sentences
Israel: Identifying Letters or Decoding Words
Italy: Befana’s Toys: Changing Initial Sounds to Make New Words
Mexico: Poinsettia Race: Naming Letters Quickly
China: Christmas Lanterns: Writing Alphabet Letters

Math Activities
India: Diwali Day: Identifying and Comparing Numbers
Sweden: St. Lucia Day Deliveries: Composing Teen Numbers.
Peru: Fiesta de Navidad: Classifying and Sorting Objects
Scotland: The Mischievous Elves: Identifying Numbers


Songs and Fingerplays
India: Little Clay Lamp
Sweden: Lucia Day
USA: Ring Your Bells
Peru: Fiestas de Navidad

Art Projects
India: Clay Lamp
Sweden: Star Hats, St. Lucia Wreaths
USA: A Gift for Mom & Dad
Bahamas: Starfish Santa
Israel: My Star
Italy: My Ceppo
Mexico: Poinsettia Construct
Scotland: Shape Elf


Kitchen
Australia: Pavlova
Peru: Panettone

Writing
Country Word Walls

Guided Reading
Around The World: Sight Word Reader
Class-Made Book: Around the World

Part Three of the “Around-The-World Tour” 
is filled with time-tested, quality activities that are strategically linked to Common Core Standards. It is divided into areas of literature, music, art, literacy, math, social studies, creative writing, word wall, and guided reading.

Part Three Contents
Eid
Kwanzaa
Hanukkah
Diwali

The activities include:

Literacy Lessons 
Eid: Reading Sight Words
Eid Variation: Reading Alphabet letters
Happy Kwanzaa: Reading Nonsense Words
Spin the Dreidel: Naming Alphabet Letters
Spin the Dreidel Variation: Decoding CVC Words
Follow the Lamps: Blending and Segmenting Words
Art Projects
Eid: Crescent Moon
Kwanzaa: Kinara
Hanukkah: Star of David
Hanukkah: My Menorah
Diwali: Rangoli
Writing

Scrapbook Pages:
Eid
Kwanzaa
Hanukkah
Diwali
Songs/Fingerplays
Eid
Kwanzaa
The Dreidel Song
Diwali is Here


Part Four of the “Around-The-World Tour” 
Allow students to keep the memories of their world tour by completing A Scrapbook or Passport Book, and then binding into an around the world memento. 

Part Four Contents
Two Scrapbook Cover Options: Color or Black and White
A Scrapbook Page for each of the 20 countries and 4 holidays Found in our Christmas World Tour Series. These pages are available at two levels.
A Culminating Scrapbook Activity to include in the scrapbook.
An original song adaptation of Let There Be Peace On Earth.


Part One Features:

Germany
Australia
Russia
Denmark
Spain
England
France
Africa
Canada
Greece

Part Two Features:

India
Sweden
United States of America
Bahamas
Peru
Israel
Mexico
China
Italy
Scotland

Part Three Features:
Eid
Kwanzaa
Hanukkah
Diwali


The Virtue of Gratitude and Young Children















Teaching young children the art of gratitude can be difficult, especially when they are naturally egocentric, but nurturing this character trait will certainly pay off. According to Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, genuine gratitude is the key to living a happy and fulfilling life. Here are a few tips for building gratitude:


Model Gratitude
Openly voice appreciation for the world and those who truly make it a better place. Use words of gratitude to increase appreciative vocabulary. Call attention to the kindness of others and show respect for efforts by using words like "please" and "thank you" in front of your children. Express gratitude for the child and how he/she make your life better.

Show Appreciation
Display genuine appreciation for a child’s efforts for assigned tasks. Never jump in and help them, but rather appreciate their abilities as you let them experience that tasks take effort. As this effort is experienced, appreciation for the efforts of others will evolve.

Be Patient
Allow your child to evolve the virtue of gratitude naturally. Reinforce constantly, and compliment each step along the way. Understand that children's egocentricity is common and natural, and that learning to be grateful is a process.


Create Opportunities
Allow opportunity for children to be generous. Create “Secret Helpers” in the classroom or home. Help your child/children to do small tasks for others in secret, to allow for the experience of watching the joy felt by others.


Don't Focus On Possessions
Remove material things from the gratitude equation. In the days of affordable toys, children generally have many possession they gained without any effort. I would call this lucky. “Wow, aren't you lucky to have such great toys?” But once you tag the need to be grateful for these toys to the equation, the child will not be able to truly discern what grateful is as most toys are gained without effort. Rather, focus on the gratefulness of food, family, love, caring, fun, time, events, fieldtrips, excursions, and other gifts of a non-material nature. Also focus on things of nature such as moisture, sunshine, day, night, stars, etc.

Document Gratitude
Create a classroom or family grateful journal. Assign a different family member or class member to record something he/she appreciates. Read the journal as a group once each week, reflecting on each new entry.

The Three Bears: Kindergarten Thematic Teaching

Bears Anyone?
This week we have been studying the great traditional tale, "The Three Bears."













If you would like to offer your students a wealth of "Three Bear Fun," check out our great Bear Themed products that are filled with cross-curricular learning and aligned to Core Standards!










Quick and Easy Kindergarten Assessments

Thanks to ESGI, the Amazing Online Assessment Essential, orally assessing each of my kindergartners to prepare for our end of trimester report cards have been a snap! Usually I use this assessment on my iPad, and call students over to my teacher table, but because I have had a student teacher, each have been able to come up to teachers computer, quite an exciting event for a 5 year old!


If you haven't signed up for your free 60 day trial! 
Simply go to  https://www.esgisoftware.com click on the orange button!

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And to compliment this great tool, don't forget to check out these "Best-Selling"Assessment Packets! As a bonus, all of these paper assessments are already loaded on ESGI, ready to go!

  








Portfolios: Authentic Assessment

Do you use portfolios? 

A portfolio is a great way to collect and save work throughout the year. It provides parents, teachers, and even students with a tool for assessment. It also serves as a wonderful keepsake of the kindergarten year.

What goes in a portfolio? You can include anything that you consider important. Some suggestions include writing samples, recordings of science experiments, and art or construct projects. Include a variety of other work such as periodic handwriting and math work pages to show the scope of your curriculum. To round out your portfolio, add a few photos. You may even want to include copies of report cards or testing results.

If you haven’t started collecting items for a portfolio this year, it’s still not too late to begin. Start simply, saving one or two selections each month. Collate the pages, punch holes in them, and place in a 3-prong folder. If you save three or more samples each month, you will need a binder for each student.


Students and parents will enjoy looking through the portfolios. They can show growth while preserving memories of the year. For ideas and templates, check out these products:

   

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