Make any Screen a Digital Whiteboard

Love it or hate it, technology is here to stay. The opportunities to include technology in the classroom are endless, but not every teacher will or should follow the same technology program. Depending on available materials and devices, each teacher needs to decide what programs, apps, and options will enhance learning and make teaching a little easier. 

So, what is a good educational app? One that is fairly easy to use is Educreations. It can be accessed from your computer or i-pad. You can sign up for a free account (and download the free app on your i-pad) to try Educreations; a pro account (with additional options) costs around $100/year.

Educreations can be a digital whiteboard - you can “write” on your i-pad screen or use the mouse for your computer to write numbers, letters, or words. It’s great for displaying equations, spelling sight words, or writing anything that you would write on a standard whiteboard. Students will be engaged and even a little impressed by your “talent!” 

Educreations can also be used to make a simple slide show. You can insert photos or clip art, add text, and record information. Your slide show can be shown to the entire group, used by students in class at an independent center, or accessed at home as part  of a homework assignment.

If you aren’t familiar with Educreations, check it out. With some experimentation you may find that this is a tool that can help you engage students and enhance learning.

Dinosaur Thematic Unit

Are you wanting to fill your kindergarten classroom with dinosaurs? Here are three products you may be interested in trying.


But, if you do, be prepared for loads of Dino-Fun!

Reading Words in Kindergarten

Throughout the second semester of kindergarten, students work on reading words. For teachers, this emphasis on words can be a challenge. We need a variety of methods to keep word reading engaging and interesting. 

Try this approach to involve all students. Use large letters - magnetic letters on a white board or a set of flashcards in a pocket chart. Put the vowels in a column down the middle of the board or chart; use all or some of the vowels, placing them in alphabetical or random order.  Next have two or more students each choose a consonant letter. Arrange them before and after one of the vowels, then have the class (or an individual student) sound the word out. Continue with more students choosing letters for another vowel. With your guidance, letters can be arranged so you can work on CVC or CVCe words. You can also focus on digraphs or blends. If you allow students to put the letters around any vowel, you will definitely have a lot of nonsense words to read!

Your students will enjoy the variety of this activity and their added involvement in creating words. Give it a try for a fun word-reading experience!

Kindergarten: Let's Remember It's Purpose

Friedrich Wilhelm recognized that 5 year olds had unique needs and capabilities as he formed the first kindergarten. May Kindergarten Teachers across the nation hold strong to his concepts that kindergarten, through play and activity will serve as a social experience for children as they transition from home to school.  His goal: that children should be nourished in "children's gardens." 

Each child in our care deserves this nurturing devotion at his/her own developmental pace. My goal:

Every Child
Every Day
Every Way
Experiencing Success.

Building Fluency

Fluency is a skill that can be and should be taught. In 1997, The National Reading Panel which included guru Marilyn Jagar Adams stated, “... [F]luency is the ability to recognize words easily with greater speed, accuracy and expression...children gain fluency by practicing.

Adapted Fluency Probe
Letter Fluency Probe
Fluency can be taught using games, activities and fluency probes. The most important part of teaching fluency is to remove fluency from a skill that is not mastered at the knowledge level. For example, Joey knows only the letters A z O w X x and Y. So to help Joey become fluent, I would certainly not present him with the entire fluency probe as pictured, I would create a probe with the letters he knows (and add some upper and lowercase versions if they are the same such as Xx and Oo). Once Joey tastes the success of fluency, he will become faster and faster and happier and happier. As with any other skill, teaching at the zone of proximal development is key to the success.

Another way to increase Joey’s fluency is to add additional fluency activities such as lining up toys or other common objects and naming them quickly. Fluency probes with colors and other common objects also build fluency, confidence, and success.

So if you have a student that is struggling with fluency, try developing his/her fluency separately from the reading task (remember that fluency is a task in its own right). Practice fluency with a fluency probe that you are confident he or she can be fluent at. Let him or her feel success. Older kids also love to try color and object fluency probes or simple sight word probes. 

Another issue to remember is fluency is not speed. Have you ever heard a student read so fast that you can’t even understand him, and then worse yet, he can’t recall what he has just read? A great way to help students understand the difference between fluent reading and super-speed garble is to tape the student reading. Let him listen to the difference between fluent reading and speedy garble. 

If you are interested, here are a two 1 minute fluency probes you might wish to try to help your students on the way to automaticity.


Sight Words and Music

You can teach just about anything with music - math facts, science information, color words, letters, sounds...the list continues on and on. Not only does music surround us, but it touches our emotions and enhances our memory.

For students moving into reading, music is a great tool for teaching sight words. There are commercial songs available for numerous sight words (check out, however, you can easily make up your own songs for words that you are featuring. Just use a familiar tune and spell the word. 

For instance to the tune of Happy Birthday, sing: 
W-e-r-e, were
W-e-r-e, were
I can spell the word were
W-e-r-e, were

Sight word songs may seem a little silly, but they help students learn and remember new words. When paired with a sight word handwriting program, your students  will quickly build a bank of sight words that can be used in reading and writing.   

Here are some sight word products that will help build that important bank of words.



Alphabet Fluency

Automaticity is defined as fast, accurate and effortless recognition. And, that is exactly what I am working towards in my classroom each day; reading automaticity.

When students can recognize letters and sounds, and then sight words with little effort, that ease and confidence is quickly transferred to other, more complex reading skills such as blending, phrasing, etc.

If you too are working on automaticity and are in need of alphabet letter or sound fluency probes, check out this web site that generates them automatically for you!

And if you are looking for activities to build towards automaticity, our thematic units are filled with such activities.

Reader's Workshop in Kindergarten

Research shows that the more a child reads, the better reader he will become. Consequently, when Spring arrives in my Kindergarten Classroom, Reader’s Workshop goes full throttle. 
Students have "Eyes on Text."
My school uses an extravention model that allows me 20 minutes to work only with on-benchmark level students. This is a great time to empower these students with the joy of reading. Please keep in mind, that I begin this stage of the readers’ workshop during our 3rd trimester. I have worked my students to this level of independence through mini-lessons, strategy practice, and guided reading instruction the first two-thirds of the year. And of utmost importance to successful readers’s workshop,  I must continually know the exact reading level of each student on it’s fluid level.

To begin the process, each students needs a drawer, bin, baggie, etc. to call their own. I  currently use a drawer. I call a few students at a time (that are on the same level) read a book together using guided reading techniques and have them add it to their drawer. 

As their drawer builds, I am able to call students individually or as a group and listen to them read. If they read a book with no errors, and it is one that has been in their drawer for at least 5 days, I will them give the student a new book in exchange.

While I am working with individual students or small groups the other students are engaged in reading. I never tell students they must read individually or with partners, because children are cooperative by nature and I enjoy seeing them come up with unique ways to read together, or perhaps crawl under a table to enjoy reading alone for the day. I especially enjoy observing students helping and cheering on each other in the reading process. 

I have certainly found this to be the most productive way to reach the Fountas and Pinnell goal of instructional level D by the end of kindergarten. And, more importantly, allow students to experience the joy of independent reading.

If you are looking for guided readers that are at appropriate kindergarten levels, we offer several guided reading sets such as this one. 

Additionally, each of our thematic unit includes at least one thematic guided reader.