Monthly Archives: April 2014

Ten Frame BINGO

I don’t know about you, but we’ve been hard at work learning about place value and how to make numbers in the teens (10+__ = __).  I decided to get out my Ten Frame BINGO game so that we could practice recognizing quantities on the Ten Frames.

Ten Frame BINGOThere are enough mats for a whole class to play with completely different mats.  We use unifix cubes as markers, but you can use what you have.  I call out a letter and number and the kiddos have to find that combination on their mat.  Calling cards are included as well.  I’m giving one away free to a lucky someone who comments on my blog post–you may need to make your way to my blog if you’re reading this on Facebook or Twitter. 🙂


Planting and Composting

We planted some lima bean seeds last week to find out if they would grow using the lights in our classroom instead of the sun and if they would sprout and grow with no soil. I hung them on a clothesline near the ceiling.

Planting Seeds

We always write down the steps so that the kiddos can refer to them as they plant.  Planting Seeds

We also fed our compost worms this week:


We keep our compost box in our classroom and most of the time, you don’t even know its there! 🙂Compost


Glitter Boards

You may remember the Glitter Boards I made a few weeks ago:


You can see them here as well:


I use them as exit tickets.  I write down a sight word, math problem, science or social studies word, etc. and in order to be able to leave or go on to the next activity, the kiddos have to give me the answer or read me the word or tell me the definition. IMG_1849

Here we were using them to change beginning sounds in words. IMG_1850On this board, we were practicing our old and new sight words.  You can see where I differentiated for different learners.  I want to make sure all the kiddos have success so that they see this as a fun activity.

I usually keep one of these on my easel and one by the door.  When we have a few minutes after lining up, I write something on the board and either go down the line to get an answer or hold it up and tell the kiddos to raise their hand when they know the answer.

It cost me about $6 for all the materials–the frames are from IKEA for $3.00 each and I got the glitter paper from Stampin’ Up!  ( I sell Stampin’ Up! if you’re interested!) 🙂



Headbandz Game

My kids love the Headbandz Game!  We use it to help us learn our new sight words each week!

We choose someone to wear the Headbandz headband and we stick one of our sight word cards in the holder on the front.

Headbandz GameThe other children then give clues to help them figure out what the word might be.  At the beginning of the year, they were allowed to give letter names, but now that we all know most of our letter sounds, they have to only tell the sound that the letter makes.

The kiddos are allowed to tell how many letters are in the word, a word that it rhymes with, someone’s name in our classroom who starts with the same letter, and they can tell if a letter in a certain position is a consonant or a vowel.

I give written clues as the children give oral clues:

Headbandz Game

“The word has 3 letters”

Headbandz Game

“One of the letters is the vowel /e/”

Headbandz Game

“The first two letters together say /sh/”.

We play once or twice a week and we are not tired of it yet!  This would be fun as a station or a small group activity too!



Pond Sensory Tub

We are currently studying plants, ponds, and the animals and plants that live in and around ponds.  All year, I’ve been making sensory tubs when I can for our science area and I think this is by far their most favorite tub!

Pond Sensory Tub

I made the lily pads by cutting a thick green sheet of foam into lily pad shapes. I also got some stick-on foam flowers to add some color to them. Pond Sensory Tub

I purchased the plastic life-cycle set at Michael’s for about $7.00. Pond Sensory Tub

The eggs and the tadpole with back legs.  I got the green pebbles at Michael’s as well.  They were on clearance and are a greenish/clear color.  They are in different sizes and shapes, so they really do look like rocks in water. 🙂Pond Sensory TubThe frog on his lily pad!



We have been learning about plants recently…hoping that it will help Spring to make its way here a little faster!  It seems to have worked because its beautiful here today!

Here are some activities that we did to help us learn more about plant parts:

Plant Chart 1

Plant Chart 2

Plant Chart 3

Plant Chart 4

Plant Chart 5

Plants Chart 6

We also checked out different plant parts on different plants:

Plants 1

Plants 2

Plants 3

Plants 4

Plants 5

Plants 6

Plants 7

Plants 8

Plants 9

  Plants 11

Plants 12

Plants 13

Plants 14


Glue Sponges

At the Spring Blogger Meet-up, one of the goodies received by a teacher was Mr. Greg’s glue sponges.  I was so jealous!  I really wanted them!! 🙂  Seeing them finally kick started me to make some of my own, for less than $10 for my entire classroom.  We have been using them for a couple of weeks now and the kids LOVE them and I LOVE that glue sticks are gone!!  The kids were the ones to notice that we were using an awful lot of plastic tubes just to glue things on, so even they see how great the glue sponges are!!

Glue Sponges 1

I have to say that we are quite talented at using our glue sponges.  Here the kiddos are gluing larger sheets of paper into their science notebooks.  They were the ones who figured out that they should just touch each corner to the sponge to make it stick.  Glue Sponges 2I’ll be honest…I was a skeptic at first.  I thought for sure that we would have kiddos sticking their fingers in and pulling the sponges out, but honestly…not a problem so far.  I did introduce them in April, so we are almost done with the year.  We shall see how it goes introducing them at the beginning of the year next year.

Mr. Greg also suggested spritzing them with a Listerine/Water mixture each week to keep bacteria down, so I headed to Target and got a spray bottle and some Listerine…I’ll be squirting them down on Monday!  They will also smell minty fresh. 🙂

Give them a try…with good modeling and directions, they will become your new favorite thing too! 🙂



Sorry to be neglecting my little blog lately…I’ve been BUSY!!  The first week of April, I traveled to Boston to receive my Shell Science Teaching Award.

Shell Science Award 2014 1

I was presented with this rear bumper cover from the #22 car belonging to Joey Lagano.  It’s currently sitting in my living room waiting for me to take it to school and hang on my wall. 🙂

Shell Science Teaching Award 2014 2

Shell Bumper Cover 2014

I met some amazing people and did some great networking in the science world, so I’m excited to see where that takes me in the future!

Ira Flatow and Karen Labat Shell Science Teaching Award 2014

I was also able to attend the NSTA Conference while I was there and learned some awesome new science ideas to try in my classroom, so as I use them, I’ll be sharing them with you. 🙂

I also got to visit some historic sites…we helped to dump tea into the Boston Harbor, saw where Paul Revere lived, and checked out the Make Way for Ducklings bronze ducks–so cute! 🙂


Spring Teacher Blogger Meet-Up Blog Hop

You may remember me telling you about my amazing weekend with other mostly Indiana bloggers in French Lick two weeks ago.  We decided one of the things we wanted to do was have a blog hop, so you could get to know the bloggers that met up there! There are over 20 of us participating and we each have something to share with you, some tips to pass along, and some important information about a giveaway we are having along with our blog hop!

SpringHopButtonOne of the things we did at the Blogger Meet-up was to have a Teacher Tool gift exchange…I got one of my most favorite things….


The Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener!!IMG_7243It is one of my most favorite things in my classroom…and I don’t feel like I’m on high alert when the kiddos use it!  They can totally use this sharpener by themselves, its quiet, and I can move it where it needs to be!!

I also just found out that they now have a sharpener that will sharpen the “fat” My First Ticonderoga Pencils!! Perfect for those of us K teachers that are using those pencils–so I just ordered one of those. 🙂

Click here or any of the other links above to get one for yourself at Classroom Friendly Supplies. 🙂

Next, I want to share with you some new things that I learned from other bloggers at the Meet-up:

1) Phonto is my new favorite app on my iPhone!!!  It lets me add text right to my pictures and then publishes them to Instagram with just a few taps!  You have to download it now.  I’ll wait…seriously….go!!

2) I was also reminded of the importance of using Instagram to help followers get to know me on a more personal level.  After all, I am not a robot typing these posts! LOL! You can follow me on Instagram by clicking on the camera on the right.

3) I am guilty of this…but no more!!  Every time I take a picture on my camera, it assigns it a number and I just happily insert it into my blog post without a second thought…but what happens once that picture gets pinned on Pinterest?  There’s no way to search for it…how many times have you searched for IMG7994 on Pinterest—yeah…me either!  So by naming your pictures (yes…it takes 1/2 a second more!), my pictures will come up in a search, helping more pinners get back here to reading my ramblings. 🙂

I’m also going to work on figuring out how to insert a watermark on my blog posts and see about getting one of those cute little signatures at the bottom of my posts. 🙂  Everything is different about blogging over here in land. 🙂

As if all the goodies we received at the meet-up weren’t enough…there were several generous companies donated prizes to put in a raffle for each one of the bloggers…

My prize arrived today…These are all from Creative Teaching Press!!  I am SOOO excited about them and since I’m currently addicted to chevron…well…this helped to feed my addiction!! 🙂

Creative Teaching Press Prize 1

Check out this cute Apple Appeal bulletin board set!!  LOVE those chevron apples and LOVE the hexagons (another one of my favorites!!)Creative Teaching Press Prize 2

Do you see how cute chevron and hexagons are together?  These calendar numbers will be great for sequencing numbers and I can’t wait to use the labels on my book bins!! 🙂Creative Teaching Press Prize 3

Oh my word…check out the yellow (the pack is actually multicolored) chevron pockets!!  They are at least 5×7 sized!!  I think I’ll put some “What to do when I’m finished activities” in them!  There are chevron name plates and even stickers!!! 🙂Creative Teaching Press Prize 4I had to show these labels again…just can’t get over how cute they are!! 🙂

Okay, so on to the giveaway…

image photoONE person is going to win all these prizes (and MORE!!!). All you have to do is enter when you see the Rafflecopter!   It’s hidden on one of our blogs and when you find it, just follow the directions to answer.


Now hop on over to Nicole Swisher’s Blog…All Things Apple in 2nd to see her teacher tool, prize, tips, and to enter into the giveaway again! 🙂

All Things Apple in 2nd
Kristen 🙂

Letter Vests!

Were you able to guess what I couldn’t wait to show you last week??

Remember this picture?

Alpha Vests

Well, today I get to show you what it is! 🙂

The nice folks at Constructive Playthings sent me a box of these Letter Vests to try out with my kiddos.


We’ve had so much fun the last two days trying these out!  I’ve got lots more ideas on how we are going to use them, but I thought I would get you started with these…


First, I love these vests because they are made of durable, thick, coated paper.  I can tell they are going to stand up to the wear and tear of my Kindergarten classroom.  They also have a nifty slot about 2 1/2 inches long right through the top of the letter to help the kiddos take them on and off easily and without ripping the paper!Lettervests2

Second, in the box there are ideas on how to use the vests and an entire list of all the word families you could ever want to make using these vests!Lettervests3

Also, I don’t know if you noticed or not, but on each vest, one side displays the lowercase letter and the uppercase is printed on the other side!!  I also love how the vowels are a different color from the consonants!  In addition, there are several extra letters (for a total of 32) so you can spell those words that have double consonants or vowels in them!!  They’ve thought of everything!! 🙂


I immediately thought of our blending and segmenting that we have been working on during our phonemic awareness portion of our day.  I thought the kiddos might be more excited about the words if they actually got to BE the words!


First, about 1/2 of my class donned their letters.  I purposely mixed all the letters up so that the kiddos weren’t dependent on alphabetical order to help them make words. getting ready2


Here are some fine letters after they helped us make the word “lap”.

reading the word1

We then had a student point to each letter and we made the sound that the letters made and then we read the sounds together.


Again, here we are saying each sound and then reading the word as a whole.

To segment the words, I had a different set of kiddos come up with different letter vests and we again made some words.  After we made the word, and before reading it aloud, I asked the letters in that word to take one step away from each other, so they were separated a bit.  I then asked the kiddos to tell me what sounds they heard in that word.  For several of my kiddos who were struggling with segmenting, having the letters visually together and then separate, helped to cement in their minds what segmenting means.

*********************making make

I also know my kiddos love to read, but that we needed to add a new sight words game to the arsenal so they wouldn’t get totally bored learning them! I called one student to the front to be the pointer.  Her job was to point to the word that she wanted the kiddos to make.  The letters were supposed to come to the front and stand.  I didn’t tell the kiddos anything about putting themselves into the correct order, some groups did right away, and others (as you will see) left themselves scrambled.

reading make

Making the word “make” led us to a terrific review of the “silent e”.  What really helped the kiddos to see that there was a silent e, was the fact that the vowels were a different color than the consonants.  Even the child who was pointing to the words noticed it when she was pointing for us.  She pointed to the “m”, “a”, “k”, and then the “e”.  I noticed that she hesitated a second on the “e”, as she noticed that it wasn’t making a sound that fit with the rest of the letters!  One of my student suggested that there we a third color of letter “e” in the box, so that it could be used to represent the silent e.  Powerful learning moment!!

How easy would it be to also practice a few word family words this way too??  Just change out the beginning sound…

Or how about nonsense words?  Just call a few random kiddos up and have them stand in a mixed up order…how fun!!


Next, she pointed to the word “play”.


Here are the letters coming to the front…

silly letters

These letters aren’t quite in the right order…


One of my students noticed that as we were reading “play” aloud slowly, that it was difficult for her to separate the “p” away from the “l”, so we had a little mini review about letter blends.  How they are two letters that are more hooked together than other letters.  I no sooner had said those words than the moment below happened.


The little boy who was wearing the letter “l”, moved right next to the boy who was wearing the letter “p” and put his arm around his shoulders…to help signify that when we read these letters aloud, they should be read together. 🙂  WOW!!

switchingplacesOf course…there was lots of this taking place as we all tried to figure out where we belonged in our “new” sight words!!

One of the last things we did before putting the letters up, was to have everyone wear a letter and then I asked the kiddos to put themselves into alphabetical order so that it would be easier for me to find the letters next time we use them.

Thank you so much to Constructive Playthings for sending these my way and letting me try them out with my kiddos!!  We definitely have a fun new game to play to help us learn all our sight words!

Also, the folks at Constructive Playthings shared that they are doing an April Showers Giveaway.
Throughout the month of April, Constructive Playthings will be showering gifts on their friends and fans. To qualify, like their Facebook page and sign up with your email address. They will be choosing winners randomly two times per week. Click here to enter.

Make sure you “Like” them on Facebook for your chance to enter to be “showered” with gifts. 🙂 How easy is that??

Click above to enter the giveaway and then click any of the pictures or links above to go get some of these AWESOME letter vests of your own!!

What are some other ways you can think of to use these Letter Vests in your classroom??  I can’t wait to hear all your ideas! 🙂

Leave me a comment below and I’ll pick a winner in a few days to send a few of my Tpt products to. 🙂

Kristen 🙂

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