Teaching Early Learners to Write and Spell Their Name & Names of Others

Are you looking for some great activities for children in the early stages of literacy development? 

The word cards and pictures are part of the packet: Names

If so, you will enjoy the 16 games and activities found in this early learning essential packet: Names.

Table of Contents:

Water Cap Names: Ordering letters in names and transferring knowledge. 
Name Puzzles: Building familiarity with alphabet letters and their function when spelling one's own name.
Name Cheer: (A variation of Name Puzzles): Identifying and sequencing the letters in names. 
Shave a Name: Using correct handwriting technique to write names.
Rainbow Names: Spelling and writing names.
The "Nameapillar": Ordering letters in names.
Trace A Name: Tracing names using correct letter formation. 
Name Fishing: Reading the names of classmates, then sorting according to beginning capital letter.
Name Dictionary: Alphabetizing classmates' names.
Names: A Guided Reading Book
Name Fun: Ten Additional Name Conquering Ideas
Name Game: Studying names of classmates
Name Chart: Studying names in a Morning Meeting routine
Mosaic Names: Spelling and writing names
Name Necklace: Spelling name
Spell-a-Name: Spelling own name and names of others.

Teaching Academic Concepts Through Music

My little granddaughter just turned 2 a few days ago, yet she can sing back to you any Nursery Rhyme that you request. It is remarkable how the human brain learns so easily through music.

Last year my kiddos were having a very difficult time learning the name Hexagon. In fact, I was about to throw my hands up in defeat when I ran across this gem on Youtube. Within two days 100% of my students not only knew the name of the shape, but adored the shape. They began to use the word hexagon in their play interactions. 

If you are looking for some great teaching materials, you will want to check out The Back To School Sale going on at Heidi's songs, July 31st - August 5th. They are giving a discount of 15% at checkout if you enter the code SCHOOL2015.  Beside the shape DVD and/or CD, I recommend the Alphabet and Sight Word Songs. I have been using them in my classroom for many, many years and I simply would not want to teach without them!

To see her great assortment of musical teaching tools, check on the link below. And, yep, you will be singing that hexagon song for days!

Learning Center Signs: "I Can Statements"

I love these Learning Center Signs that continually remind and inform not only myself, but anyone that comes into my classroom, what young children are learning in defined areas throughout my classroom each day.

Each sign has an "I Can" or "I Am" statement of learning written with a glimpse into the future of young learners who are encouraged to think, discover, explore, and create.

These signs are $5.00. Copy on cardstock, laminate, and they are ready to go.

Here is what people are saying:

"These are the cutest center signs I think that i have ever seen. And i didn't have to make them :) Besides that, there are sooo many choices and the descriptions that go along with them really help to reinforce the FACT that the kids are LEARNING when they play, to help the parentsunderstand this. All of my co-workers are jealous! Thank you!!"

ABC Center
Art Center
Block Center
Construction Center
Computer Center
Dramatic Play Center
Discovery Center
Eno Board Center
Fine Motor Center
iPad Center Center
Library Center
Light Table Center
Listening Center
Literacy Center
Math Center
Manipulatives Center
Mimio Center
Music Center
Music and Movement Center
Overhead Center
Pocket Chart Center
Poetry Center
Phonics Center
Puppet Center
Puzzle Center
Puzzle and Game Center
Reading Center
Read the Room Center
Science Center
Sensory Center
Smartboard Center
Social Studies Center
Table Toys Center
Teacher Center
Toy Center
Technology Center
Word Work Center
Write the Room Center
Writing Center
Write the Room Center

Don't see yours? Just ask!

Creating a Kindergarten Portfolio

A portfolio is the most authentic way to assess the growth and development of students.

Additionally, adding photos and memories to the portfolio make it a priceless keepsake!

If you haven't used portfolios before, or you feel like you could use some help with organization and/or production, here are a few tips.

I have tried portfolios in many different formats from dime-folders to digital masterpieces. I have found the binder style to be the most productive, easy to manage, and easy to store. I use these binders that I buy on Amazon. I have had students bring their own binders, but I like the binders to be uniform.
I like the Clear-View binders so that I can add a Cover and Endplate with the student's picture to make finding each binder an easy task. And they look professional and purposeful.
 The most important thing to keep yourself organized and on top of portfolios is finding the storage area before you begin. Plan to keep the portfolios in reach of students. (Even though I am the only one that adds pages, I have students bring the books to me and return on their own).

Also. don't get behind!!! I add the pages for the month at the end of the month.
If you are printing your own photos on copy machines in either color or black and white, invest in quality paper for those pages. I have found that paper makes all the difference. If I use the heavier weight paper, I use less ink.
If you are printing and then mounting photos, Shutterfly and other on-line photo processing areas offer many great discounts. Then for mounting, you MUST have the Scotch ATG gun. Using this tape  gun will keep everything secure! No more wasted time remounting photos!

If you have access to a color printer, the photos can be easily printed as a full sheet. I print a few of my pages at school, but I print the majority at home on my HP printer. The most important time-saver tip in printing, is to print the pictures ready to put in portfolios. I even organize my photos alphabetically by first name so they will come out of the printer collated, ready to slip in the portfolios.

 Start the year right! Take a picture at orientation, or on your first day. (I use the same photo to crop for the helper chart, dictionary, desks, etc).
Then, take your photo and print as photograph, or design a page on iWork's, adobe, powerpoint, or etc. (Remember to organize the pages alphabetically before printing).
 Design (or, okay you can purchase mine) a monthly divider that has purpose. This divider will allow an authentic measure of handwriting growth monthly. I print the divider on a color that matches the mood of the month or season.

Continue the beginnings of your portfolio by adding one or two pages that represent beginning of the year memories. I love these two, a takeoff on Brown Bear and another on Pete the Cat.
 Next add some beginning of the year measures that will be also produced at the end of the year for full year growth comparison.
Add a beginning of the year work sample.

Continue your portfolios by adding about 4-5 pages each month (A variety of photo memories, creative writing, work samples, etc). Think in terms of month when doing portfolios. Ask yourself, "What four (or more) pages will best reflect the month's learning in our classroom."

Here are a few of the pages I have used in the past.

Besides using journals, I try to place a minimum of two writing samples in the portfolio. I have found that parents love that everything is in one place, easy to store and preserve.

I also add a minimum of two art or other work samples each month.

 I add about four video samples yearly. I either add the video directly burned on a DVD, or on the page documenting the activity I add the link to a secure video on Vimeo, Youtube, etc.
 Be sure to have an end of the year section just as you had a beginning of the year section. It will keep the portfolios organized and bring the book to a feeling of completion.

You will love documenting your student's kindergarten year and providing a treasure to families. I actually had a couple of students bring their kindergarten portfolios for me to sign to celebrate their College Graduation! Yes, portfolios are worth it! 

Play is a Training Ground for Creative Thinkers

When I was a young girl I was raised on a dairy farm in the “Hired Hand” house. Consequently, we did not have a lot of money, and I certainly didn't have many toys, but there was one thing I had a lot of and that was opportunities for discovery, play and access to the “Bookmobile.”

I remember every Monday at 4 p.m. I would head for the Bookmobile that was located about a mile away. Generally I would ride my bicycle down that bumpy, gravel lane as fast as my legs could carry me.  I was so excited to get my next volume of Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, or any of the other special treats the librarian had tucked away for me. 

I would return home, read, and read, and then dramatize the book. Yep, I acted out the entire book using anything from dolls to pencils, or just my imagination.  From this reading and acting ritual that I developed at a young age, I did not realize that I was doing all of the activities necessary to become a fluent, comprehender of text. In fact, I learned about the world without one worksheet or test to tell someone what I had learned in a passive manner. 

Thank goodness that my life’s path has been that of a squiggly line. I am grateful for the opportunity to grow up on that dairy farm where I could be a rodeo queen one day, and a detective solving crimes the next. Thank goodness my mom couldn't afford the summer skills workbooks of today. 

Kindergarten Homework: No Prep and Developmentally Appropriate!

Are you looking for a Developmentally Appropriate Option to Kindergarten Homework?

Extend the learning at home by sending home monthly homework packets that are strategically linked to the Common Core Standards. Your students and parents alike will love the easy to use formats, engaging activities, and ease of homework management.

This packet includes contains all 16 Packets in our 
Kindergarten Series. And ALL 16 packets have two versions, English and Spanish Translation.

January Homework Contents

Table of Contents:
The Snowman A guided reading book
Snowy Lotto An alphabet game
Winter Delivery A sight word activity
Color Match Snowmen A color word activity
A Winter Wonderland A blending game
Snowflake Swirl A Counting activity
Snowman Clock A math activity
January Calendar A number handwriting activity

February Homework Contents
Table of Contents:
Little Valentines A guided reading book
Heart Bingo & Flash Hearts Sight word activities
Don’t Break My Heart A word segmenting game
My Valentines Using valentines to extend learning
Dragon Dance Alphabet Sound Fluency
Number Games Math Activities
February Calendar A number handwriting activity

March Homework Contents
Table of Contents:
Out in Space A guided reading book
Mr. Spaceman Conventions of Print
Letter Blast Off Alphabet Letter Sound Naming Automaticity
Race Through Space Alphabet Letter Naming Automaticity
Skip Counting Counting by 2’s, 5’s, and 10’s
Alien Planet Segment Words into Individual Phonemes
Decode it-Defeat it Reading CVC Words
Alien Snap Counting From any Given Number

April Homework Contents
Table of Contents:
The Pond A guided reading book
Slithering Snakes Alphabet sound fluency
Frogger A decoding game
Turtle Lotto A sight word game
Family of Ducks Word families
April Calendar A number handwriting activity
Frog Eggs Composing numbers
Easter Egg Delivers Plus and minus

May Homework Contents
Table of Contents
The Jungle A decodable, sightword reader
Roar! A decoding game
Safari Sights A sight word game
The Jungle A writing activity
Around the Zoo A comprehension activity
At the Zoo An addition game
Gorillas in Cages A subtraction game

June Homework Contents
Table of Contents
Capture the Butterfly A word family game
Mosquito Slap A sightword game
Flower Garden A sentence game
I Can be a Scientist A sightword reader
Lilypad Leap A number line game
Ladybug Addition An addition activity
Dragonfly Subtraction A subtraction activity
Across the Curriculum A collection of fun learning activities

July Homework Contents
Table of Contents
The Beach A sightword reader
Sand Castles A sightword game
Summer Celebrations A sentence game
Diving for Letters Alphabet recognition game
Shell Addition An addition game
Beach Ball Subtraction A subtraction activity
The Number Swim Writing Numbers

August Homework Contents
Table of Contents
Rhyme Book A book of rhymes
My ABC’s An ABC activity
Ride to the Park A color recognition game
The Shape of Things A shape recognition game
Number Flashcards A number recognition activity
Name Writing A handwriting activity
All about ME A classroom community building activity

September Homework Contents
Table of Contents
The Game Sightword reader
Football Flashcards A capital letter review
Kick off ABC Game An alphabet game
Name Cheer A letter recognition activity
Football Rhymes A rhyming game
The Team A number game
Huddle Up A number activity

October Homework Contents
Table of Contents
Haunted House A syllable game
Boo to You An alphabet game
Spider Race An alphabet activity
Monster Cookies Beginning sound activity
Dark Woods Math A number game
No Tricks, Just Treats A sort and graph activity

November Homework Contents
Table of Contents
My Bear A sightword reader
Time to Hibernate An alphabet game
Star Gazing A letter sound game
A Walk in the Woods An ending sounds game
Letter Trace A handwriting activity
Bear Math Various math activities
Number Bears A flashcard activity

December Homework Contents
Table of Contents
Christmas Time A sightword reader
Christmas Tree ABC An alphabet game
To the North Pole A rhyming game
Christmas Sounds A phonemic isolation game
Sound Train Alphabet Sound Fluency
Christmas Memory A number game
Letter Cookies A handwriting activity

Fall Intervention Homework Contents (Spanish Version also included)
Table of Contents
I like Books A guided reader
Alphabet Flashcards An alphabet activity
Capital Shake An alphabet game
My Letters A letter fluency activity
Beginning Sound Isolation Beginning sound game
A-Z Handwriting Handwriting
Number Practice A math activity

Winter Intervention Homework Contents (Spanish Version also included)
Table of Contents
Planes An alphabet sound game
Letter/Sound Fluency Practice sheets
Matching Middles A phonemic awareness activity
Find the Picture A blending and segmenting game
Handwriting Handwriting Practice
Sight Word Study A sight word activity
Color the Shape A math activity
Bingo 0-20 number recognition.

Spring Intervention Homework Contents 
Table of Contents
The Early Bird An Alphabet Fluency Game
The Hungry Lamb Sound Fluency
Rain Go Away A decoding game
Flower Garden A sightword activity
Bunny Hop A segmenting game
Word Riddles Phonemic awareness
Number Hunt Number recognition
Baby Lambs Addition

Kindergarten And Preschool Math and Language Arts Common Core Assessments

Are you looking for assessments that are authentic, strategic, and linked to Common Core Standards?  Are you looking for assessments that will lead you to be organized, effective, and powerful in your teaching.

These assessments gather information about the language arts and mathematic strengths and weaknesses of your students. You will be able to immediately use important information to guide your classroom instruction, strategically target intervention groups, and inform parents of individual student progress.

Additionally consider using ESGI, a secure assessment platform to digitally conduct your one-on-one tests, score, and report your assessments.  The digital and paper format are a great way for you to visualize your assessments and keep yourself organized!

You will love the ease that ESGI gives this assessment product. I have done the work for you; all of these tests are there: click, click, done. Simply click on the test explorer tab (within ESGI) and look for my name: Kathy Crane to find the correct tests. (Important: At the very end of the testing documents are screen shots of how to organize your tests on ESGI to correlate with the paper copy).

Even if you are not sure whether paperless testing and data retrieval is for you, you will want to take advantage of their free 60 day trial! Simply go to  https://www.esgisoftware.com/ESGI/ click on the orange button!

Please remember to enter promo code B7227 to receive $40.00 off the already low price.




August Homework Packet: Developmentally Appropriate For Early Learners

Because most kids are excited for the thoughts of new homework, welcome your new and eager learners with a "Developmentally Appropriate" Homework packet right away. This NO-PREP packet can be passed out at registration, orientation, back to school night, or even on the first day of school. The simple games and activities are fun, engaging and linked to standards. The packet is fun and easy for parents and child to complete together with nothing to return but a signed check off sheet.

These packets make homework a breeze! I copy the entire years worth of packets at the beginning of the year and place each in a ziplock baggie. I store these in a large plastic bin in my garage (keeping all months together). Then, when the new month nears, I simply go to the bin, grab the next month's worth of packets and take them to school. Some years I have simply sent these packets home in the baggies. For the last several years, I have used plastic homework folders. So, I simply take the returned folder, take out the last month's completed homework sheet, record it, put in the new month's homework, and then reuse the baggies.

As a bonus, all of the kindergarten-level packets come with a version with Spanish instructions. 

We offer all three levels for each of the 12 Months of a year. Additionally, we offer 3 Kindergarten RTI/Intervention packets for Fall/Winter and Spring with both English and Spanish instruction.


Managing Learning Centers: You Can Be At Every Center!

Have you heard of "Talk Boxes?" If you haven't, these are a classroom must have. With just a push of a button students can be independent at each center. If students can't remember what to do, they simply push the button to hear YOU give the instructions once again. What a great way to not only build student independence, but these boxes free the teacher to concentrate on guided reading/writing or math tables! Viola! With Talk boxes the quality of classroom life is improved instantaneously.

To top it off, there are many other uses for these devices. Children can quickly record their own voices providing opportunity for students to practice verbal and auditory skills. They can be used with games, displays, word walls, phonics practice,  information, etc.

These gadgets also come is a smaller version called "Talk Points."

Developmentally Appropriate - Child Centered Homework Packets: July

Tired of Worksheets? Are you looking for some great homework that is Developmentally Appropriate and Child Centered? You will love this NO-PREP option. These July packets will allow students to revisit important skills that should be mastered in order to be successful in the upcoming grade in school. This product is great from summer homework sent by teachers, parents looking to enrich learning in the summer, or homeschool parents that maintain a year round schedule.

Click on the links below to find these products at a low-price of $4.00 each on Teachers Pay Teachers.