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A Kindergarten Teaching Blog

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    I know you've been waiting. And waiting. and waiting. If you're like me you probably were worried that it would never happen. I have great news... the wait is finally over and we can all start filling our shopping carts!

    My ENTIRE Teachers Notebook store is on sale for 25% off from August 10-18. You don't need to enter a coupon code or do any extra work... just stop by and shop! Everything is discounted and waiting for you. This is a great time to stock up on those Back-To-School essentials.

    Teachers Notebook back to school sale

    Need a little shopping inspiration? 

    Here are some of my most popular items:

    I know you're already wondering if my Bundle of Books is marked down for the sale. 
    The answer is YES! The price of the Bundle is always a great value (you save about 40% off the cost of each individual book), but when you take another 25% off that amazing price, you end up saving... well, I'm not exactly sure but I know that you end up saving a LOT!
    Bundle of Sight Word readers on sale

    Ditch the Post-It notes on your classroom calendar! Keep your students informed of upcoming holidays and special occasions at school with Through the Year Calendar Holiday Cards. If you buy the set and need a card that's missing, you are welcome to email me with suggestions for future cards. Like the Bundle of Books, this set is updated often. You can download the updates for FREE!
    Teachers Notebook back to school sale

    The newest installment in my line of classroom calendar materials, Week of Monsters Daily Label Cards just might be my new all-time-favorite product. Look how stinkin' cute these monsters are! The full set includes two different sizes of name cards for days of the week, plus display cards that read "Today is," "Yesterday was" and "Tomorrow will be."
    Teachers Notebook back to school sale

    Of course my all-time best selling Decomposing Number hands-on activity sheets are also on sale!

    Teachers Notebook Back to School Sale

    Of course, I have about 175 more great products on sale as well. Hop on over to Teacher's Notebook and stock up while everything is on sale!

    What's in your shopping cart?

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  • 08/11/13--17:53: My Biggest FAQ... Answered!
  • It is no secret that I taught in my dream classroom last year. I loved my room and I know that many of you did too, because I continue to get fresh new comments on that old blog post. I also get a lot of questions, especially about my alphabet wall. Teachers love how pretty it looks and want to know more. What do I use it for? Where did I get the letters? Do my students do something with the board? 

    I am so excited to FINALLY answer all of your questions today!
    alphabet wall bulletin board

    This is how my alphabet bulletin board looks in the fall. Brightly colored and empty. (Keep reading to the end for an explanation of how I created my letters).
    kindergarten alphabet bulletin board

    Using the Alphabet Board for Instruction

    I do a Letter of the Week in my classroom. (Yes, we learn about a variety of letters all year long, every chance that I get to teach letters and their sounds.) The Letter of the Week just gets more attention than all the other letters that week. 

    I announce the focus letter on Monday morning. I remove the letter of study from the bulletin board when I introduce the letter and its sound to the class. Then we create a list of words that begin with that letter. I put a note in each child's letter that explains the new letter of the week to parents, along with the students' homework for the week. This part is really fun. Each child is responsible for looking in magazines or newspapers to find a picture that begins with the featured letter. All homework assignments are due by Friday. Typically, a few pictures come in each day throughout the week. During calendar time each day, I gather the students around while I open the envelopes and glue their pictures onto the letter for the week. 

    When we begin the Letter of the Week, each student receives an envelope labeled with his/her name and number. I laminate all of the envelopes and they hold up great for the duration of the school year. 
    letter of the week class collage

     I usually take a few moments to trim each picture down so I can fit as many as possible onto the letter. When a student brings a really BIG image, I usually glue these onto the back of the letter. If I run out of space before Friday, all of those pictures are glued onto the back as well. My students take it in stride without complaint. I also encourage my students to bring photos of themselves when we study the letter at the beginning of their first name.

    By the end of the week, my letter collages look something like this.
    Letter of the Week collage

    Putting the letters back in the correct location on the board is a breeze. As you probably know by now I am a teensy little bit on the fussy side. Actually, I'm an all-out fussy-pants. My letters are equally spaced apart and in a straight line. I want to re-hang the letters easily at the end of each study so when I set up the bulletin board in the fall, I mount all of the letters on a slightly larger white piece of construction paper that is stapled to the board beneath the brightly colored letter. The plain white letter is a great visual reminder to my students of what we are studying that week and it clearly marks where I need to re-hang the collage letter. 
    letter of the week bulletin board

    By the end of the school year, my completed alphabet board looks like this! It is a great visual reminder for the students of each letter and sound that we have learned together.
    letter of the week bulletin board

    How I Made My Letters

    My method for creating these letters can be summed up in 3 words: THE HARD WAY. My school has alphabet die-cuts that are about 5" tall. They were not big enough, but I loved the simple block style of each letter. So I cut out each letter on the die cut machine, then placed each one on the school copier and enlarged the image significantly. That created a whole set of black letters on white copy paper. I wanted a template that I could use year after year so I traced the black letters onto old file folders so I would have a stencil. Each year I trace the alphabet stencils onto colored cardstock paper. For a few years, I  used construction paper but I did not like how fast it faded in my sunny classroom. I have found that the cardstock holds it's color so much BETTER. 

    Lucky for you, I have learned a few tricks along the way. If you have a Cricut or a Cameo Silhouette, save yourself some work and let the machine do all the cutting! 

    If you still have to do things the old fashioned way, I created a set of Alphabet Wall Templates that you can download for free. Just print, cut the letters out and use them to create your own classroom alphabet. 

    alphabet wall templates free download

    *One quick note: these letters were created on my computer using the best font I could find that most closely resembles the letters on my alphabet wall. It is not an exact match. The letters in my template are a bit more narrow and less chunky, but again, It's a good start. 

    **Another quick note: Not every letter fit perfectly onto 8.5x11" paper. Some letters were too wide to fit on the page. For these letters, you will have to use your imagination (and hopefully a ruler) to continue the rest of the letters onto 12x12" cardstock. Sorry, but this was the best I could do!

    Take a Tour

    Want to see more of my bright and sunny classroom? Check out last year's blog post and see photos of the entire room.

    adorable kindergarten classroom

    Peek into My New Classroom

    This year I am moving to a new building and starting my classroom from scratch! The classroom is still in-progress but you can check out the "before" pictures!

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    Every once in a while, a new technological tool for educators comes along that's just, well... revolutionary. For me, Pinterest is one of those powerful and amazing tools. I'm a visual person and if I can see a photo or image of a really great idea, I feel like I truly understand. Watching at my Pinterest feed each day fill up with great classroom management tips, project ideas, and seasonal activities has helped and motivated me bring so much more creativity and innovation into my own classroom.

    The wonderful people at Pinterest have seen how educators have responded to their site and they have teamed up with many of your favorite Edu-Bloggers (or should I say Edu-Pinners?) to bring you Teachers on Pinterest. Pinterest has created a set of boards just for teachers that are jam-packed with classroom ideas. There are specific grade level boards for grades Pre-K-6, plus additional boards for education blogs, classroom decor, management and more!

    Right now all I can think about is setting up my classroom to prepare for a new school year. Thankfully, Pinterest has provided endless inspiration! I just LOVE all of these ideas!

    Use lanterns to enhance the classroom environment. 

    Cute spray painted cans for supply management. 

    Birthday cupcakes. Totes adorbs. 

    This pin inspired me to run out to Ikea and buy the same desk!

    Bunting, how I love thee. 

    Ribbon chandelier? Um, yes please!

    Perfect group shot for the first day of school.

    So many beautiful colors to inspire me!

    Right now I am taking all of my newly discovered inspiration with me to school so I can get my classroom ready for a new batch of Kinders. You can follow my inspiration as I pin to the Teachers on Pinterest Kindergarten board. Stop by, get great ideas, and repin! 

    Want to know more about my Pinterest obsession? 
    Check out my guest post for World Teacher Day on the Pinterest blog!
    Yes, Pinterest has a blog too!

    Happy Pinning!

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    It's that time again! You know, the time of year that we lose our minds as we sweat to set up our classrooms, toss and turn as we run through the things to do on our mental list, and brace ourselves for a new school year. That's right, it's time for back to school!

    I just love Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles. She was so sweet to let us use this goofy photo!

    Since everyone is so sad to see the summer come to a close, the gals over at Freebielicious are partnering up to share a laugh with all of you. That's right, it's a Back to School is No Joking Matter blog hop!

    Here is one of my favorite school-themed videos... what NOT to say to a teacher!

    Now that you've had a laugh and are feeling a little better about going back to school, I have some more good news for you! My ENTIRE store will be on sale at Teachers Pay Teachers for their HUGE annual back to school sale August 18-19. You can save 28% on all Kinder-Craze products. Don't forget to use promo code BTS13 @ checkout!

    Just in case you're wondering... YES! The Bundle of Books will be on sale!

    Now hop over to see Tammy at Live Love Laugh to see what makes her smile!
    Live Love Laugh

    What's your favorite back to school video?

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  • 08/23/13--04:00: Teacher Style Giveaway
  • Hello lovelies! As we all head back to school, it is time for us to give ourselves the royal treatment and celebrate our Teacher Style. I am pairing up with Adrianne from The Tutor House, April from A Modern Teacher, and (of course) Melanie from Schoolgirl Style to bring you a VERY special Teacher Style Giveaway.

    Teacher Style Giveaway

    Prepare to be amazed because these prizes are simply fabulous. I seriously wish I could keep every single one of them for myself. But then, that wouldn't make for a very fair giveaway, would it?

    The Prizes

    $25 worth of Paprazzi Jewelry.  You know how much I love pretty sparkly things and every teacher deserves some new jewelry for a brand new school year. The jewelry shown in this style snapshot is from their 5th Avenue line.  SO cute.  I am digging those bangles.
    Paprazzi Jewelry

    $38.00 Lula Roe Maxi Skirt.  Stylish and comfortable?  Every teacher needs like 5!  This one is super cute with the gold flecks around the waist.  It's been said they are more comfy than yoga pants...and they would be okay to wear at school?  Sign me up!
    Teacher Style Giveaway

    $145 Abby Lou Overachiever Bag.  I'll admit it. I love this one just because it's called the "Overachiever" bag. Delicious organization that looks cute on your shoulder too.  Think of all the stuff that could fit in there...So many colors to choose from too!(Although I'll admit, I am partial to the pink).
    Teacher Style Giveaway

    $100 DSW Shoes Gift Card. Every teacher needs to start the year off on the right foot. And why stop at one foot when you can a brand new shoes for both feet? For $100, you can probably get a few take home a few new pairs... I just love the discounted prices at DSW.
    Teacher Style Giveaway
    $50 Ann Taylor Loft Gift Card.  Comfortable, casual, and conservative...teacher style at it's finest! Bring your school ID to save 15% off your purchase... every day!

    Teacher Style Giveaway

    $50 Spa Finder Gift Card. Get yourself a pedi or manicure.  You deserve it!  This gift card is accepted at thousands of salons nationwide.
    Teacher Style Giveaway

    Can you believe these prizes?!  Over $400.00!  

    You know the drill....enter below!  
    Contest begins August 23, 2013 and ends 11:59pm  eastern August 30, 2013.
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    Ever since I shared the unboxing of my Erin Condren Life Planner with you, I have been eager to find another beautifully packaged item that is relevant to teachers that I could lovingly open and photograph for you. Today I had so much fun unboxing my new pair of Tieks by Gavrieli. 

    Tieks by Gavrieli unboxing
    If you don't already know about Tieks, they are leather flats that are rumored to be the MOST comfortable ballet flats on the market. With testimonials from the likes of Oprah, Jodi Picoult and Cosmopolitan magazine; I KNEW I had to try these for myself. With a starting price of $175, each pair of Tieks are certainly an investment in fashion and comfort. I searched the site for the most beautiful pair and instantly fell in love with the Lavender Snake style. Unfortunately for me, these were the most expensive pair in the "Boutiek." 
    Tieks website
    (Full disclosure: I ordered my Tieks on my own behalf, with no discount, promotion or compensation. I just really wanted to try them out and share my experience with you!)

    Fortunately, every pair of Tieks comes with free Priority Mail shipping (and free returns). After two days, my designer ballet flats arrived in the mail and I couldn't wait to open them! The average person would never guess the treasure that sat patiently inside of this plain white box.
     opening package of Tieks
    Once I gently slide a knife along the seal, I lifted the lid to reveal my first peak at the signature teal Tieks pagacking!
    Tieks teal box
    Tieks shoe packaging
    Seriously, how pretty is this box?!?
    Tieks teal box packaging
    Even the jeweled silk flower was beautiful. Just imagine how gorgeous the shoes must be!

    Tieks turquoise packaging
    I tenderly lifted the lid from my Tieks box to reveal a handwritten thank you note. 
    Be still my heart!
     It even looks like it was written with my favorite color of Papermate Flair pen. Swoon.
    opening of a Tieks box
    There is simply too much eye candy in these photos to process. 
    I am such a sucker for details.
    beautiful teal box from Tieks
    Tieks designer flats packaging
     My Tieks also came with proper care instructions.
    care instructions for Tieks designer flats
     Finally, my first glimpse of the actual shoes. 
    Tieks Lavendar Snake unboxing
    These flats were neatly folded and (just barely) fit inside of the box. 
    It took a strong tug to pull them out!
    opening of a pair of Tieks flats
    Tieks Lavender Snake flats
    In addition to a neatly folded pair of flats, the package also included a collapsable turquoise tote and small black carrying case for my Tieks. 
    Tieks Lavender Snake flats by Gavrieli
    Finally, I was able to try on my beautiful new shoes. I deliberately selected this pair because they had a fun print, but also contained neutral shades that would look nice with khaki pants. I love how cute my feet look in these shoes!
    Tieks designer flats for teachers

    What about the fit and comfort?

    I'm sure you're dying to know how my new shoes fit (and more importantly) felt on my feet. Tieks are only available in full sizes. I am usually an 8.5, so I followed the online instructions and ordered a size up. The shoes fit great! The comfort level is yet to be determined. The elastic across the top of my toes felt a little tight and put a little pressure on my big toenail. (This is a common issue for me when trying on flats). I am crossing my fingers and hoping that the leather just needs to stretch a bit to reach optimal comfort. So I'm not entirely sure what the fate of my new Tieks will be, but my goodness, they sure were fun to open! The free shipping and returns are a big source of comfort as well :)

    Do you own a pair of Tieks? 
    What are your favorite shoes to wear at school?

    What fabulous product should I unbox next?

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    I am so happy to finally share my BRAND NEW Kindergarten classroom with you! My school moved into a new (to us) building this summer and life at school has been interesting, to say the least! Kinder-Craze fans on Facebook have been begging me to share classroom photos. I hope it has been worth the wait!
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour

    The Story Behind the Classroom

    I was in LOVE with my classroom last year. It was sunny, and spacious, with high ceilings and plenty of bulletin boards. When my school purchased a beautiful new building, I was elated. Then I realized I would have to leave my perfect classroom behind. Needless to say, I got a little nervous. Fortunately, Melanie from Schoolgirl Style (a dear friend of mine) had lots of ideas and offered to collaborate with me on my new classroom design with exclusive first access to her upcoming Rainbow Chalkboard product line. It was an offer I couldn't refuse! 

    Before Photos of My Classroom

    As you can see from the pictures below, my new classroom had two defining features: a blue wall and dark brown wooden cabinet in the front of the cabinet. Melanie reassured me that there was plenty potential in this room and that the finished result was going to be gorgeous. I couldn't envision the classroom outcome at the time, but I trusted her to see beyond my bland, empty classroom. 

    My Beautiful New Classroom (After)

    Before we begin the tour, a quick disclaimer: The one and only sad thing about my classroom is that it is on the North side of the building and the sun never shines in through the window. Almost all of the ambiance (or lack thereof) comes from fluorescent lights. I'm ok with the lighting, but my camera cries itself to sleep at night. These photos are the very best I could muster and it took a LOT of fussing to get the colors bright, vibrant, and true. Please forgive the occasional shadow, glare, and off-tints that appear in the images. I managed them as best as I could :)

    My calendar area is just inside the door. I love the storage that the large cabinet behind the area offers. Pops of contrast and color come from my Domino Number Cards {Black Series} and the black tree with rainbow leaves displayed on the wall. All of the calendar pieces are available in my store on TpT and Teachers Notebook
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour
    domino number cards for kindergarten or first grade classroom with number word
    A standard set with a white background is also available for teachers that like to conserve printer ink. 
    domino number cards for classroom display

    The front wall to my classroom displays my Black Series Alphabet Picture Cards, calendar areas, Daily 5 charts (from A Year of Many Firsts), color words, and the all-important classroom rules
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour with classroom rules subway art
    alphabet cards for kindergarten classroom
    The alphabet picture cards are available with a white background too. 

    I am in LOVE with my classroom rules. The prints are available for purchase on TpT
    classroom rules subway art
    classroom rules subway art poster set for kindergarten classroom

    My teal chevron bookshelf survived the move into my new classroom, along with my favorite striped tins from IKEA. 
    teal chevron bookcase
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour

    My classroom library is without a doubt, the focal point of my classroom. It's the first thing you notice when you walk in the room. Books are arranged into themes and displayed in the rainbow bins on the lower shelves. Each student's book boxes for read-to-self time line the top shelf of the library area. The green bins are numbered to identify which box belongs to whom. 
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour
    rainbow labels on book boxes for read to self
    Image by BTW Photography
    The Expedit shelf from Ikea creates a perfect boundary for the library area as well as a comfortable seating option for read to self time. I often sit on the bench to deliver my Daily 5 lessons. 
    Ikea expedit shelf as bench in classroom library

    The beautiful rainbow pillows are from Ikea too!
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour

    Have you noticed the adorable children above my classroom windows? Each of these spaces was a white plastic material. I used packaging tape to attach the cloud print Fadeless paper and Bordette. Melanie had the idea to place silhouettes in that space and I love the idea. She sent me the silhouette graphics (which will be included in her upcoming Rainbow Chalkboard line). I traced each one onto black Fadeless paper, cut the pieces out and glued the onto the clouds. I found bright cardstock and used it for the bows, balls, and balloons that are accenting the silhouettes. 

    Rainbow pennants from the collection hang below each window and I created a faux-shade using Melanie's wide rainbow stripes and black Bordette.
    child-friendly decorations in kindergarten classroom

    child-friendly decorations in kindergarten classroom

    The black tree branch and boy on a swing were cut out of black vinyl and applied to the walls. Since I don't have bulletin boards in the front of the room, this was a fun way to add a pop of color to an otherwise blank canvas without damaging the fresh coat of paint on my classroom walls. 
    rainbow theme classroom library with ikea expedit shelf bench

    I decorated the back of a small bookcase in the library with the same fadeless paper and Bordette trim. Like the windows, these pieces were also taped into place. I created a banner from children's book jackets as a final touch to my classroom library. (I created a tutorial for creating book cover banners last fall. You can find the tutorial here.)
    book cover banner for rainbow classroom library

    Of course, another cute silhouette was attached to the side of the shelf. This little guy was cut from black vinyl as well so he will last a long time. 
    adorable kindergarten classroom tour

    The bookshelf creates a divider between my classroom library and the gathering space for prayer. My wonderful friend Meggan did the lettering on my chalkboard boxes. 
    child silhouette in kindergarten classroom

    prayer table and gathering space in a Catholic kindergarten classroom
    prayer table and gathering space in a Catholic kindergarten classroom

    In addition to an image of Mary, a children's bible, and a wooden cross, the prayer table also includes two printables that I created. The first is a prayer of blessing for our pastor, principal, and the head of maintenance at our school. Those three people worked so tirelessly all summer long to get the building ready for our doors to open this fall. Without their hard work and dedication, the students and staff of my school would be lost. We pray this blessing each morning after we say The Lord's Prayer. 

    prayer of blessing for a kindergarten classroom
    Image by BTW Photography

    The second framed print is a quote from scripture. It serves as a reminder that Jesus always welcomes children to join him in prayer and love. 
    let the children come to me bible verse
    Image by BTW Photography

    This scripture quote is available for FREE in my TpT store. Click the image below to download your free copy. 
    Let the Children Come to Me FREE print

    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour
    The color word signs displayed on my white board are available in my TpT store. 
    cute color word signs for the classroom

    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour

    The Rainbow Chalkboard labels aren't just for student materials! I used the editable files to organize my teaching supplies for each day of the week. Various materials are stored in magazine boxes from Big Lots on the lower shelf. I love this pretty method of disguises my files and supplies that would otherwise appear to be cluttered.
    cute rainbow chalkboard labels from schoolgirl style

    I created another banner with my name on it to hang above my desk. In addition to being a pretty decoration, it is a very helpful reference for students when they want to know how to spell my name. 
    love this name banner above the teacher desk

    My computer desk is from Ikea as well. It has another vinyl silhouette of a little girl, along with the Inspire print from Schoolgirl Style, and the usual desktop supplies.
    adorable teacher desk and rainbow accessories

    My desk also proudly displays a new Kinder-Craze subway art print that says "Too many blessings to count!" I created this to remind myself on those wild and crazy days in the classroom that my life truly is filled to the brim with blessings from the Lord. This free print will be uploaded soon to my TpT store
    cute blessings printable for a teacher desk
    This 5x7" printable is FREE on TpT and is the perfect size for your teacher desk. Just print, trim, and frame in a 5x7" frame to add a little style to your work area. I love that this reminds me of all the joy and goodness in my life (even on a particularly rough day in the classroom). 
    free classroom blessings printable decoration sign

    Of course, my teacher supplies wouldn't be complete without my coordinating binder cover from the Rainbow Chalkboard collection!
    kindergarten teacher desk in a rainbow classroom tour

     My classroom alphabet wall is also back with a new bold look! Find out how I use the alphabet wall during instruction and download free a free template to create an alphabet wall in your own classroom.
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour
    Although you can't see it well in the photos, my classroom number line is available in my TpT store. 
    cute downloadable number line for classroom display

    Student computers, typewriters, and toys occupy the back corner of my classroom. 
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour

    Wooden cabinets and bathroom door all display decorative accents that coordinate with my classroom theme. Not a single surface was left untouched in this room. 
    chalkboard idea for a kindergarten classroom bathroom
    cute child silhouette cutouts in a kindergarten classroom

    rainbow Daily 5 CAFE menu headers in kindergarten classroom

    Shopping Guide

    Paper Lanterns from Schoolgirl Style

    The following items are available for purchase from my TpT store:

    Expedit bookshelf, rainbow pillows, computer desk, and rainbow tins from Ikea.
    Pink chevron fabric from Hobby Lobby.
    Book bins from Big Lots and Really Good Stuff.

    Scalloped chalkboard wall decals from Target.
    Black vinyl from Jo-Anne but can also be purchased on Amazon.
    Teal chevron drawer liner from MacBeth collection on Amazon.
    Cloud Fadeless paper available on Amazon.
    Black Fadeless paper available on Amazon. 
    Bordette trim available on Amazon in a variety of colors. 

    I am head-over-heels in love with my classroom!
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour
    bright rainbow kindergarten classroom tour

    A Heart Filled with Gratitude

    So many people had a hand in the creation of this classroom, I'm not sure who to thank first! There would be no wonderful school or classroom without my pastor, principal or school custodian. Thank you to Father Mike, Maureen, and Mario for all you did to get things off the ground. A huge thank-you also goes out to Loveann (a school parent that helped me day in and day out to get all of the details just right). Thanks also to my Mom & Dad, Danielle, Meggan, and Jane. 

    Thank you to Melanie for all of your wonderful ideas and resources. I am in LOVE with your Rainbow Chalkboard collection and I can't wait to see it pop up in classrooms across the country. I couldn't have asked for a better person to collaborate with. Our creative juices were flowing together every step of the way and this was such an exciting partnership. 

    These photos were captured with the help of Brian from BTW Photography. He made two trips into school to shoot photos for me and had to witness the horror of me ugly-crying during a major meltdown. (Trust me, it was bad.) I was nearly defeated by technical difficulties after Brian's second trip into my classroom. But even in the absence of his own photos, Brian was able to save the day. Fortunately, he taught me the ins and outs of my Canon DSLR during one of BTW Photography's Summer Workshops and I was able to give a last-ditch effort to capturing photos of my classroom. He spared all of you from seeing my classroom via the lens of the camera on my iPhone. Thank you Brian!

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    Ever since my big classroom reveal, I have been getting dozens of questions about how I manage materials and use all the little spaces of my classroom. I am going to try to address as many of your questions as possible in the coming weeks, starting with how I manage my student name tags. 

    My kindergarten students each have a name tag that they wear whenever they go to their "specials" classes. I invested in high-quality safety name tags from Lakeshore. I love the idea of my students wearing name tags so the other teachers can remember their names, but it is always such a hassle to distribute them before each class. That's when the genius idea occurred to me: use magnets to store each child's name tag on the side of his/her desk. That way, the tags are easily accessed by students right before we go to a special class. This also has the added benefit of keeping the tags out of sight and reach during work time so students are less likely to play with them while not in use.
    student magnetic nametag storage solution

    Of course, I used cute magnets that coordinate with my classroom theme. I had the idea to create these cute flower magnets last summer and I made over a dozen by gluing a silk flower onto the top of every magnet man I owned. 
    Check out my tutorial on DIY Magnetic Flower Clips.
    DIY magnetic flower clips tutorial

     Neat and tidy name tag management makes this kindergarten teacher very happy!
    student name tag management idea with magnets

    Want to know more about my classroom routines, management, decor, or organization? 
    kindergarten classroom and library with bright colors

    Leave a comment with your question and I just might answer it in an upcoming blog post!

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  • 10/01/13--18:03: Lies We Tell Our Students
  • Are you ever so eager to manage your students' behavior that you tell a little white lie to help them follow the rules?

    My new school has security cameras installed in the hallways and my class has seen the monitor that shows all of the camera activity. They were FASCINATED by it. Ever the resourceful teacher, I used this newly acquired student-knowledge to my advantage. Instead of explaining that they are security cameras to help keep us safe, I dubbed them "principal cameras" and explained that the principal had the cameras installed to watch students in the hallway. In my defense, I don't make it sound like a bad thing. Instead, it sounds something like "Mrs. M might be watching her cameras. Let's show her our very best hallway walk." That way, it becomes a lie to motivate my students to do the right thing, rather than a lie that implies that someone is waiting to punish anyone that gets out of line (so to speak).

    little white lies teachers use in the classroom

    I recently confessed this little venial sin of mine on the Kinder-Craze Facebook page and asked readers to share their own little white lies from the classroom. I'll tell you one thing: TEACHERS ARE LIARS! I was cracking up as I read the responses. Here are a few of my favorites that you just want to add to your own repertoire of helpful white lies:

    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students

    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students
    funny lies kindergarten teachers tell their students

    What "little white lie" do you use in the classroom?

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    Columbus Day is coming up! If you're in need of a little inspiration to update and jazz up your lesson plans, look no further! I have a few great resources to help integrate this holiday into your ELA lessons.

    Christopher Columbus Interactive Sight Word Reader

    Help your students master sight word "is" with my newest Interactive Sight Word Reader, "This is Christopher Columbus!" This six-page emergent reader uses predictable text to share some basic facts about Christopher Columbus. For each page of the book, students cut and glue letters to spell "is" and complete the sentences.

    kindergarten emergent reader with sight word practice for Columbus Day
    kindergarten emergent reader with sight word practice for Columbus Day

    "This is Christopher Columbus" sells for just $1 
    emergent reader with sight word practice for Columbus Day

    Christopher Columbus Color by Number FREEBIE

    Looking for something quick, simple and easy that you can integrate into your lessons next week? Download my Christopher Columbus Color by Number for FREE!
    FREE Christopher Columbus color by number page for Kindergarten or First Grade

    This full-page printout divides into two smaller coloring pages. My students always do a better job of coloring if they have a smaller picture to fill in.

    In addition to a standard coloring page, this makes a great roll and cover activity when you add a dice!
    FREE Christopher Columbus color by number page for Kindergarten or First Grade

    Download your free Color by Number Christopher Columbus activity today! 
    FREE Christopher Columbus Color by Number activity

    Regular plastic dice make way to much noise for my sensitive ears so I bought a giant tub of foam die. Now my students have fun but my classroom remains quiet and peaceful. Many great foam dice products are available on Amazon. 

    The Bundle of Books

    Want to know more about my Interactive Sight Word Readers? My kinders just LOVE those little books, and I know many other classroom teachers have been signing their praises as well. One teacher said her class refers to my Interactive Sight Word Readers as "the puzzle books." How cute is that? Another recent reviewer said:

    "If you only buy one thing buy this. Of all the items I have bought on teacher pay teacher this one is the best!!! The children love them,the parents and I do too. Thanks for doing all your work. This is really well worth the money!!!"

    Bundle of Books Seasonal Interactive Sight Word Reader collection

    Currently, the Bundle of Books contains 87 Interactive Sight Word Readers and sells for $46 dollars (a savings of 47%! I update the Bundle OFTEN and all updates are free once you purchase the Bundle. The price goes up each time the Bundle of Books is updated, so buy now for the best value

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    This year my feet have been BEGGING more for comfortable shoes than ever before. My school moved into a newer (and much bigger) building this fall and I now find myself walking so much more each day than I used to. When school started in August my feet were sore for two weeks. Seriously sore. My first few steps out of bed in the morning during those weeks were rough. My feet would touch the floor and remind me that they were tired from so much walking. 

    I have finally adjusted to the change. I wear comfy shoes to school and now spend every day on my feet without issue. But those sore feet certainly got me thinking. I had always wondered about how much walking I do in a given school day. This time, I wanted to KNOW. I wanted to measure and calculate it. And feel better about the fact that I never have time to go to the gym and work out. So I hopped on Amazon and ordered the most popular cost-effective pedometer I could find. I set my pedometer to match my stride and began my week of walking at school.

    This post is titled "A Week of Walking" but of course I walk every day while I am at school. I wear the pedometer every day as well. The element that made this particular week special was that I took photos and made notes of my daily distance traveled as I prepared to share my findings with you. Now let's get to it!

    wear a pedometer to school. You'll be shocked by how far you walk each day! This teacher reflects on her experiences.
    wear a pedometer to school. You'll be shocked by how far you walk each day! This teacher reflects on her experiences.
    wear a pedometer to school. You'll be shocked by how far you walk each day! This teacher reflects on her experiences.
    wear a pedometer to school. You'll be shocked by how far you walk each day! This teacher reflects on her experiences.
    wear a pedometer to school. You'll be shocked by how far you walk each day! This teacher reflects on her experiences.

    Crunching the Numbers

    Holy cow, I walk a lot in a day! No wonder my feet were so tired during the transition into a new building. Over the course of 5 days, I walked over 12 miles! That's an average of 2.4 miles each day. Here is how it breaks down:

    Day 1 - 1.90 miles
    Day 2 - 1.91 miles
    Day 3 - 3.14 miles
    Day 4 - 2.30 miles
    Day 5 - 2.77 miles

    A Few Quick Notes About My Steps

    I'm a little particular (about everything) and during this experiment I was very adamant about only measuring my distance walked AT SCHOOL as part of my work day. I didn't count any of my steps at home or running errands in my daily totals. I kept my pedometer in the car when it was not in use. The minute I pulled up to school in the morning, I slipped the pedometer into my pocket so it could begin to calculate with my very first step in the parking lot toward school. Similarly, the pedometer was the first item I set in my car when I got ready to head for home at the end of the work day. I am not one to exaggerate or embellish. These are my actual steps walked at school. 

    You'll notice that the milage displayed in the photos of my pedometer doesn't match the total listed for each day. This is because I had to walk back to my car in the parking lot each day after taking the photo (and often do a bit more work in my classroom before I left for home). That extra traveling added more steps to my distance. 

    I measured my steps for a 5-day work week, not a full 7-day week because (of course) I don't go to work on the weekends. 

    Pedometer Basics

    If you've never used a pedometer, you may be wondering how they work. A bit of it is still a mystery to me, but here's what I know about my pedometer. I used the Omron Pocket Pedometer HJ-113. I selected it specifically because it was designed to fit in a pocket and had excellent reviews. It is a very slim model and fit nicely into my pocket without issues. It also comes with a clip and safety strap for attaching it to a belt or pocket. Somehow this handy little gadget senses motion and uses the motion to calculate the distance walked. It's also smart enough to distinguish between walking and other forms of motion. It does not count the vibrations that occur as a result of riding on a bike or in a car. 

    The pedometer came with a battery which needed to be installed before I could use it. I also had to calculate my stride length. (This simply required me to measure the distance I cover in talking 10 steps at a normal pace). The last step was to program the time, my weight, and my stride length into the pedometer. The entire process of battery installation, measuring, and programing took about 15 minutes. 

    Join the Walking Fun

    Have you worn a pedometer to school? Do you own one? Are you inspired to purchase one and discover how far YOU walk in a day? If so, please leave a comment sharing your experience! I would love to know how far my fellow educators walk in a day. 

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    Last month I shared the unboxing of my lavendar snake Tieks with all of you. This month I have something REALLY special for you! I am partnering up with the Tieks team to bring you a Step Out in Style Giveaway for your chance to win a $100 Tieks gift card.

    enter to win a $100 TIEKS gift card from Kinder-Craze

    I have been so excited for this giveaway for the past few weeks I could hardly contain myself! Now that the cat is out of the bag, let me fill you in on you why this is such an AMAZING giveaway.


    The Tieks brand is known for their AMAZING customer service. My shoes arrived with a hand-written card thanking me for my purchase. I'm a sucker for anything hand-written! 
    snake tieks by Gavrieli
    After I bought my lavender snake pair, I had a moment of indecisiveness and wanted a pair of Mustard Yellow Tieks instead. (I am obsessed with yellow and I thought the mustard pair would better fit my personality). 
    enter to win a $100 TIEKS gift card from Kinder-Craze
    I was ASTOUNDED to discover that it's standard protocol for the customer service team at Tieks to ship the new pair (free of charge) so I could try both pair on at the same time and make a careful decision about which shoes to keep. The return label arrived with my mustard Tieks so I could return the pair I no longer wanted at a later date. Never in my life have I heard of a company that ships an exchange item without first receiving  the initial product purchased. 

    Tieks customer service

    My new pair of Mustard Tieks arrived within a few days and were just as beautiful as the Lavender Snake pair I had previously ordered!
    mustard yellow Tieks in box
    I wore my new favorite shoes on a fun fall trip this weekend. Don't they look fabulous? 
    mustard Tieks for fall... love!


    I walk a LOT at school. So much, in fact, that I recently wore a pedometer to school for a week to see how much distance I covered each day. You can read more about that experience here. Long story short, teachers put a lot of miles on their feet each day and we NEED to keep our tootsies happy and comfortable. Hellllllllo, Tieks! People RAVE about how much they love these shoes. Even the iconic Oprah Winfrey has shared her fascination with these shoes. 
    Oprah loves Tieks quote
    Tieks and Oprah


     Every pair of Tieks is made with premium Italian leather and is hand-stitched. The Tieks website does a great job of explaining why every pair of Tieks is of highest-quality. 
    lavender snake Tieks quality


    I have a tiny little color obsession. I like colors that are bold, diverse, and add a fun pop of brightness to my day. Tieks come in every color of the rainbow. The online Boutiek has so much eye candy, it makes my heart flutter. 

    enter to win a $100 TIEKS gift card from Kinder-Craze

    The Giveaway

    Now that you are fully educated Tieks, it's time to Step Out in Style with a very special giveaway! This is your chance to win a $100 Tieks gift card. Use the Rafflecopter below for your chance to enter!
     (Due to the nature of this giveaway, the contest is only open to US residents).

    enter to win a $100 TIEKS gift card from Kinder-Craze

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    What pair of Tieks is on your wish list?

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    October is Fire Prevention month and I have some great ideas to share with you!

    The local fire department is an excellent resource for teachers. In past years we have had firefighters visit the school to speak with our students about the importance of fire safety. Another fantastic idea is to go visit your local fire station. Each year, my students walk to visit the fire station. It is my kinders' absolute favorite field trip of the year. They just LOVE seeing the fire trucks, the equipment, and the sleeping quarters.

    fire safety kindergarten classroom resources.

    My favorite part of the field trip is watching a firefighter put on all of his safety gear (complete with air tank and face mask). The guys at the station do such a wonderful job of educating my kindergarteners on the importance of fire safety and this demonstration teaches them a BIG lesson. Firefighters can look scary when they enter a smoke-filled house and are hidden beneath all their big, heavy gear. By seeing an actual firefighter put each piece of safety clothing on one piece at a time, my students learn that it really is just a regular person under all that gear. Ok, maybe not just a regular person. A hero, actually. A hero that is just trying to keep them safe. 

    visit a fire station during Fire Safety Month

    Looking for great resources to incorporate fire safety into your ELA curriculum? 
    Keep reading! 

    Firefighter Color by Number Freebie

    First up, a freebie! I created a simple Color by Number Firefighter page. We have already done a few of these in my classroom and my kinders are hooked! For a fun twist, each student is given a die and it becomes a roll and cover activity. It's also a great way to review color words. 

    FREE color by number firefighter

    FREE color by number firefighter

    If your day is as jam-packed as mine, I'm sure your instructional time is in short supply. I especially love this activity because each full-page printed sheet is divided to create 2 coloring pages. This coloring activity is short and sweet. (And so much fun!)
    FREE color by number firefighter
    This Firefighter Color by Number page is yours for FREE! If you love it, I would greatly appreciate your feedback on TpT. Click here to download your freebie!

    Firefighter Emergent Reader

    Of course, no unit of study in kindergarten would be complete without an Interactive Sight Word Reader! Our firefighting heroes are the subject of this book and I think it just might be my new favorite reader in the collection! This Interactive Reader is titled "Who is the Hero?" and features the sight word "who."
    emergent reader all about firefighters

    If you aren't already familiar with the Interactive Sight Word Readers, they are a huge hit with kindergarten and first grade teachers. Each page of the book contains a predictable sentence that is missing a sight word. The books also contain a cutting page with the necessary letters to complete the missing word. Students cut out, unscramble, and glue the letters on each page to complete the sentence. The best part? Once the book is complete, each child has a "just right" book that they are experts at reading. These are a perfect addition to our classroom book boxes for read to self time!

    emergent reader all about firefighters... perfect for fire safety week!

    emergent reader all about firefighters... perfect for fire safety week!

    Click to purchase "Who is the Hero?" on Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook.
    emergent reader all about firefighters... perfect for fire safety week!

    Of course, this title is one of 88 books included in the Bundle of Books (a huge bargain!)
    Click to purchase the Bundle of Books on Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook
    Bundle of Books... best TpT purchase ever!

    New! I just listed a Fall Fun Mini-Bundle of Interactive Sight Word Readers in my store. This set of 8 books is discounted 25%. Its is a great way to try a variety of fall-themed books. 
    Purchase the Fall Fun Mini Bundle on Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook
    collection of Fall emergent readers

     Do you do anything special in your classroom for Fire Safety Month?
    I would love to hear about it!

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    I am so excited to begin a two-week color word study in my classroom on Monday. I enjoy every moment of our color word study. We do fun activities, sing songs about the colors, even dress in special colors throughout the study. The kids have a blast and so do I.

    Each day over the next two weeks has a designated color. Monday is black day, Tuesday is brown day, Wednesday is purple day, etc. The schedule is announced ahead of time and students are encouraged to dress in the featured color each day. Over the course of the day, we do extensive word work dedicated to the color of the day. My kindergarteners are always buzzing about their favorite colors and they like to have reminders about WHEN we are learning about their favorite color. I created a set of color word reminder cards to help with this task. They have been displayed for several days already and  my students are pumped!

    adorable classroom calendar with FREE color word cards

    You can download the set of Color Weeks Calendar Reminder Cards for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers. They are perfectly sized to fit on your classroom calendar. I printed mine on white cardstock and laminated the cards to make them extra durable. (Most of the printable items you see here are also available in my TpT store.)

    Of course, I notify my parents about our color word study as well so they can help my students dress in the appropriate color each day. Readers often ask to see my note to parents so here is a snippet from this week's classroom newsletter:
    fun ideas for teaching color words in kindergarten
    As you might expect, some students in the class do not own clothing that matches our color of the day.  Sometimes parents forget as well. This is never an issue because the entire class receives a special accessory from me during our color days: a sight word watch. Annie Moffatt from The Moffatt Girls created an Ultimate Color Word Packet which includes her famous sight word watches. The set includes a watch for each color word. I copied mine on the appropriate color of construction paper, laminated, and cut to separate each watch. The watch collection is all lined up and ready for my students to wear during our two week color study.
    fun ideas for teaching color words in kindergarten
    You can buy Annie's Ultimate Color Word Packet on TpT. 
    ultimate sight word package from the Moffatt Girls

    We also have a lot of fun with music during our color word study. I play the song "Color Farm" from Dr. Jean's Sing to Learn CD each day that we learn about color words. Set to the tune of Bingo, the song assigns a color to different animals and spells each word. "There was a farmer had a horse and green was her name-o, G-R-E-E-N, G-R-E-E-N, G-R-E-E-N and green was her name-o." I can never get the song out of my head but neither can my students (and that's the whole point of it. )
    Sing to Learn CD from Dr. Jean

    Inspired by Dr. Jean, I created a farm-theme Interactive book and poster-set to reinforce the spelling of each color word. This packet is an oldie-but-goodie and is the VERY FIRST Interactive Reader that I created. 
    color word Interactive farm book and poster set
    As the title suggests, this printable set includes a 9-page student book (one page for each of the 8 basic colors plus a cover page) and a set of 8 coordinating posters to display in your classroom. I know how ink-conscious teachers are so the posters have blackline graphics for teachers to color themselves before posting in the classroom. 
    color word Interactive farm book and poster set... great for teaching color words!
    color word Interactive farm book and poster set... great for teaching color words!

    My own posters have been mounted on construction paper, colored, laminated, and are on display for next week! 
    cute resources and FUN ideas for teaching color words
    You can buy the Color Word Interactive Farm Book and Poster Set from my TpT store. 
    The above photo also gives you a peek at my Color Word Classroom Signs {Black Series}. These are also available for purchase in my TpT store! 
    color word classroom signs... love the black background!

    I also add a fun interactive center to my classroom for my early-finishers to explore. I used our school die-cut machine to cut laminated construction paper letters for spelling each coordinating color word. Next, I attached magnets to each letter. I place a the letters on small magnetic whiteboards in my classroom. My students love mixing up the letters to spell color words. Typically, the novelty of this activity only lasts about two weeks. At the end of our study, I pack the activity up and save it for next year! 
    fun ideas for teaching color words in kindergarten

     My students have also fallen in love with Color by Number pages. I think they will be especially excited to do these activities once they no longer need to rely on classroom anchor charts to identify each word. I have a number of Color by Number activity sheets available for FREE in my TpT store. These are just a few that you will find!

    FREE color by number birthday cake
    FREE color by number firefighter
    FREE color by number washington

    Now that you know how I teach color words, I would love to know what special activities you do in your own classroom!

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    Have you heard? Freebielicious turned ONE this month! This last year has been amazing and we are so happy with our Freebielicious family.  This little blog has twenty-five amazing authors…teachers with hearts of gold! Our only goal is to be a blessing to primary teachers.

    My life has changed for the better ever since I was invited to join this amazing team of bloggers and it's time to give a little something back to all of our fans. We want to help tech up your classroom with a pretty sweet giveaway. 

    You could  win a prize package valued at over $500, which includes an iPad mini! Sweet deal, right?!

    iPad Mini Giveaway from Freebielicious!
    You have three chances to win. Follow Freebielicoius on Pinterest, Follow Freebielicious on Facebook, and Follow Freebielicious Blog by email. Enter to win by October 30, 2013 at midnight. Winner will be drawn on October 31, 2013 and announced on Freebielicious. One entry per person and entries will be verified.

    Happy Birthday Freebielicious!!!

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    Today was blue day in my kindergarten classroom! We have been studying color words for over a week and today was dedicated to the color blue. I was BEYOND thrilled to discover that the royal blue t-shirts I ordered from arrived in time for my students to show off their uniqueness in a very special way today! 

    If you're not familiar with, you need to be informed! It is a wonderful website (run by the same team at that transforms children's drawings into a composite art collage on each t-shirt. Templates are provided on the website. For my kindergarten students, I used a set with pre-formatted ovals. My students just added eyes, a nose, a mouth and hair! I mailed the collection of drawings off to ClassroomFaces and eagerly waited for the fax of the t-shirt proof. Once it arrived, I signed off on the design so the shirts could be produced and shipped. 

    When our custom shirts arrived last week, I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. I had so much fun pouring over every single drawing of the kindergarten students. I personally sat with each student while they created the drawings with a marker, but there was something so much more special about seeing the doodles printed on a t-shirt! 

    adorable class t-shirt idea

    I never told my students or the parents about our special t-shirt design and I was careful not to spoil the surprise before they arrived home. Just like wrapping a gift, I lovingly rolled each t-shirt up and rubber banded the children's order forms along with a note encouraging families to treat their very special shirts with care. My students were not allowed to unravel the blue bundles at school... I wanted the families to feel like it was Christmas too!

    cute t-shirts for a kindergarten class

    Today was finally the big day! We debuted our new kindergarten t-shirts from and received SO many compliments. The other teachers at my school praised our awesome shirts every time we passed them in the hallway. My students felt like celebrities! 

    cute custom t-shirts for a kindergarten class

    I swear I have the cutest little group of kindergarten students ever this year and I wish I could show you their sweet faces. Fortunately, this picture provides a little glimpse into their adorability. They make my heart so happy! 

    adorable custom t-shirts for a kindergarten class

    If you want to order a set of Classroom Faces t-shirts for your own class, I have great news! Kinder-Craze followers can order a set of classroom t-shirts with black ink at a price of $10 per shirt. (The regular price is $13.) Just make sure you use discount code KINDER-CRAZE when you place your order. This code is valid for all orders postmarked by November 30, 2013 and is not combinable with the multi-class discount.

    classroom banner

    I really loved strutting around in my new t-shirt today! 
    CUTE custom class t-shirts

    Want to know more about my color word study and our various color day? 
    You can read all about it and pick up a fun freebie here

    I hope your week is off to a great start!

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    Whew! What a week. Halloween has left me completely exhausted, but boy did we have fun! Our Halloween festivities revolved around the theme of "Monster Mania". I am a little big obsessed with all things monster at the moment. There is something that is so perfectly kindergarten about monsters. It's a great non-scary Halloween theme that the boys and girls equally love. 

    Monster Milk Jugs for Halloween Treats

    The monster madness started earlier this week with Buddy Day! My students met their Seventh Grade buddies for the first time on Tuesday. We kicked of the Halloween festivities a little early by decorating  empty gallon-size milk jugs to hold the treats for our classroom Halloween party. The jugs are covered with crepe paper party streamers. Googly eyes and construction paper were used for the eyes and mouth. This is a very inexpensive project that always looks spectacular after it is complete. It is also the perfect job for 7th graders to help with since it would be too much of a challenge for my kindergarten students to handle independently. 
    monster milk jugs for halloween treats

    The handle of the milk jug serves as the monster's nose. This is the front of the jug. I used a box cutter to cut a large hole near the top on the "back" side of each jug. The hole is large enough for an adult's hand to easily reach in and out of the jug. Then we were ready to decorate! 

    The first step of the project is to cover the surface of the milk jug with crepe paper. It's an easy-to-manage and inexpensive medium for covering the jugs. Plus, it comes in a rainbow of bright and beautiful colors!
    monster milk jugs for halloween treats
    Skinny stips of crepe paper make great monster hair! 
    monster milk jugs for halloween treats

    Once the milk jug is covered with crepe paper and has sufficient hair, it is time to add embelishments! Googly eyes are always a hit. The students used construction paper to cut out and attach creative mouths onto their monsters. 
    monster milk jugs for halloween treats

    I love how adorable these monsters are!
    monster milk jugs for halloween treats
    monster milk jugs for halloween treats
    cute monster milk jugs for holding halloween treats

    All of the monsters from my classroom were lined up and ready to be filled with Halloween treats! 

    cute monster milk jugs for holding halloween treats

    With the monster milk jugs all set for Halloween, we were ready for the main event!

    Great Monster Read-Alouds

    No monster-themed celebration would be complete without the book Go Away, Big Green Monster! My students ADORE this story and so do I. The text is simple but highly engaging and the die-cut pages are ingenious. 
    Go Away Big Green Monster

    I was BEYOND excited to discover that Ed Emberley created the perfect companion book... Nighty Night, Little Green Monster! Seriously, this book is adorable! Just like the original, Little Green Monster is slowly constructed as you read and turn each page of the book. Then, the stars emerge in the sky and we say goodnight to each part of Little Green Monster (his green face, squiggly purple hair, blueish-greenish nose, etc). The tone is more subdued than the story of Big Green Monster, but this story is an equal delight!

    Nighty Night, Little Green Monster

    Musical Connection: Monster Spray

    I recently discovered the cutest monster song EVER. It's called Monster Spray and it was a great addition to my monster-theme Halloween celebration. Debbie Clement performs this song from the perspective of a child that's scared of the monsters in her bedroom at night. All of the problems are solved with her mother gets out the Monster Spray and gets rid of the monsters forever! The song is catchy and so much fun. You can purchase Monster Spray on Teachers Pay Teachers. It comes with printable lyrics and a few other fun printable resources. 
    Monster Spray by Debbie Clement

    Free Monster Spray Labels

    I wanted to give my students a non-candy treat this year (since they get so much of it when they trick-or-treat on Halloween night.) I decided to whip something special up to share with my students: Monster Spray! I found these cute little spray bottles at the dollar store and created "Monster Spray" labels to attach to each bottle. I LOVE how they turned out! 
    FREE monster spray labels

    You can download a set of FREE Monster Spray Labels from my TpT Store. The download includes labels with a black background or a white background (for those of us that prefer to conserve printer ink). All labels are formatted to print on Avery 5163 labels. Just print, peel, and stick!

    FREE monster spray labels
    FREE monster spray labels
    I debated filling the bottles with water, but ultimately decided to leave them empty and encourage my students to use a little imagination when they squirt their Monster Spray.

    These labels coordinate perfectly with my Monster-Themed Classroom and Calendar Resources, available for purchase on TpT!
    monster theme classroom calendar

    A Feast Fit for a Monster

    What kind of a party would it be without some yummy food? The wonderful parents of my classroom really went the extra mile to create the ultimate monster dining experience (inspired by Pinterest, of course!) Seriously, I cannot thank these women enough for their efforts. They made the day so special for my sweet little kindergarten monsters. 
    ideas for a monster theme Halloween party
    ideas for a monster theme Halloween party
    ideas for a monster theme Halloween party
    ideas for a monster theme Halloween party
    ideas for a monster theme Halloween party
    ideas for a monster theme Halloween party

    Food inspiration:

    Green Meanies (Apple Slices and Peanut Butter)
    Witches Broom (Cheese and Pretzel Treats)
    Monster Fingers (Cheese Sticks)

    Disposable monster party goods are from Oriental Trading.
    monster party supplies

    Want to find more great monster ideas?
    Check out my Monster Fun Pinterest Board!
    Monster Fun Pinterest board

    Happy Halloween to you and all of your little Monsters!

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    We are finishing up Fall and pretty quickly Winter is coming! Freebielicious would like to help you get through the winter season with this amazing deal with Educents! I am so excited about this Winterlicious Educents bundle... it has great winter items for your classroom from all of my favorite people! You'll even find a fall item in the set so you can start using your goodies right away!

    Freebielicious bundle of Pre-K-1 classroom resources on Educents

    The entire bundle includes 22 great resources from top teacher-bloggers, including my new Winter Mini-Bundle of Interactive Sight Word Readers. Eight emergent readers are included in the set with themes of snowmen, Santa, winter clothing, gingerbread men, and cold weather. Even if you don't celebrate Christmas or December holidays in the classroom, you are certain to find emergent readers that are perfect for your students.

    The Winter Mini-Bundle of Interactive Sight Word Readers is available for purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook. 

    There are 21 other products in our bundle to get your kids learning!  Literacy, math, science, social studies, and so much more!   Hop along to visit Lidia at Kinder Alphabet see all the goodies you will get!  

    Kinder Alphabet

    The deal won't last long so head over now!
    Freebielicious bundle of Pre-K-1 classroom resources on Educents

    Maybe this great Winterlicious bundle will help winter seem a little more cozy this year...

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    I have been in school for nearly 9 weeks, but the classroom improvements continue! 
    As you know by now, I am teaching in a new building this year and I am lucky enough to teach in a classroom that is simply stunning (it was a collaborative project between myself and Melanie from Schoolgirl Style.) As I settle more into the classroom each day, I continue to "fine tune" a few of the details in the learning space. This week's touch-up was a simple improvement of the bench in my classroom library. 

    use an IKEA bookshelf as a classroom library bench

    The focal point of my classroom is definitely the library area. With bright book boxes, yellow silk gerber daisies, and the silhouette of a child swinging from a tree, it is such an inviting corner. I purchased an Expedit bookshelf and Dröna fabric bins from Ikea to use as a bench in the reading area, topped off with a pink chevron cushion. 

    classroom library organization

    The bookshelf-turned-bench is stunning but it needed a tiny little something to give it some extra pizzazz. At a recent trip to Michaels, I checked out the ribbon aisle and had a revelation! I bought my favorite stitched grosgrain ribbon in black and bright pink and was ready to do a quick little DIY!

    I began by wrapping the black ribbon across the cushion and around the top of the bench, then securing the ribbon with a large bow. I did this 3 times across the shelf. It makes a bold statement and also keeps the cushion from sliding around as the students climb on and off of the bench to read. 

    use an IKEA Expedit bookshelf as a classroom library bench

    Next, I wrapped the pink ribbon across the top panel on the front of each fabric box. I used hot glue to attach each end of the ribbon to the box's side panels. This gave the bench the little bit of extra pop that it needed. 

    use an IKEA Expedit bookshelf as a classroom library bench

    I loved my library bench before, now I love it EVEN MORE!
    use an IKEA Expedit bookshelf as a classroom library bench

    Want to see more photos of my classroom? Check out my previous big reveal
    beautiful kindergarten classroom

    Have a great week everyone!

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    It may be November, but I am already preparing for one of my favorite springtime photo projects. For the past two years I have created a Kindergarten photo book that is filled with many of our favorite memories from the school year, organized in a very kinder-friendly fashion: THE ALPHABET! 

    kindergarten alphabet photo books created in Shutterfly.

    I create the books in Shutterfly. If you're not already using an online program for ordering and sharing photos, Shutterfly is a great way to go. It's free to create an account. You can upload and edit photos, organize them into albums, and create photo projects (like photo books!) as keepsakes or gifts. 
    More on that stuff later. First let's check out the photo books!
    kindergarten alphabet photo books created in Shutterfly.

    Both books are titled "A Kindergarten Alphabet." The academic year that the book was created is clearly displayed on the cover, title page, and book spine. 
    And yes, of course, they are both brightly colored! 
    kindergarten alphabet photo books created in Shutterfly.
    Title page in kindergarten alphabet book from

    Planning Your Alphabet Photo Book

    It can be a challenge to find a good word for each letter of the alphabet. I highly recommend brainstorming ideas ahead of time and start thinking now of photo ops for the less-common letters of the alphabet.

    Here are a few suggestions to get you started. 
    You only need 1-2 photos per letter of the alphabet. make them big and bold to make a big impact.
    Include a photo of each child and place his/her photo on the page that corresponds with the first letter of their names. Let's face it, some letters are downright difficult to think of a photo moment for. Here are a few ideas for some especially tricky letters:

    O: opening presents. Include a photo from Christmas or any other time that students open gifts in the classroom.
    Q: quiet (student with a finger over their lips.) If you do a Q and U wedding or fun activity that involves a question mark, these are great ideas as well.
    U: upside down. Take a regular photo then use the editing feature of the photo book to rotate the image so it is upside down. Your kids will love it!
    Y: yummy. Include photos from a particularly tasty treat you had in class.
    Z: zany. Add photos of students making silly (aka zany) faces.

    C page in alphabet photo book

    It's ok to include 2 consecutive letters on the same page. Here, you can see that E and F share a page with each other. One photo is provided for each of these letters. 
    E&F page in alphabet photo book
    Don't forget to add yourself to the book on the page that matches the first letter of your last name!
    M page in alphabet photo book... love this idea!

    U is always a tricky letter. I took a photo of the class making silly faces and rotated the image in the photo book editing tool so the picture is UPSIDE DOWN. This is always the student's favorite page to look at.
    U page in shutterfly photo book

    Z can be another tricky letter. I created a collage of all students in the class making ZANY faces.
    Z page in alphabet photo book

    Getting Started on

    Creating a photo book is easy! Simply create a Shutterfly account and click on Photo Books. Depending on how much time you want to spend (and your level of technical expertise) you can select from 2 options for creating your book Simple Path or Custom Path. 

    Simple Path is great for quick projects. You select the photos and the Simple Path tool arranges and creates a book for you (you can edit the layout and details if you wish to change the Simple Path suggestions). 

    Custom Path is the more tedious way to go, but it lets you decide every detail of your photo book's layout and appearance. From font size and color, to page background designs, to photo sizes and layouts... EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL is in your hands. It's great for the detail-oriented person (like me!) The process is web-based (so you don't have to install any software to your computer). The platform is user-friendly and easy on the eyes. 
    how to create a photo book in Shutterfly.

    The previous Kindergarten Alphabet books I created are in my classroom library. My students LOVE looking at the first and second graders that they recognize in my old books. Just imagine their enthusiasm when my students see the book that THEY will be a part of later this spring!  

    alphabet photo book from Shutterfly as a kindergarten class keepsake

    More Alphabet Fun

    Looking for Additional Inspiration for teaching the alphabet in kindergarten? 
    You will find more great ideas in this post!
    kindergarten alphabet picture collage

    Do you use photo books in your classroom? I would love to hear what you do with them!

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