Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Showcase


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

A Kindergarten Teaching Blog

older | 1 | (Page 2) | 3 | 4 | .... | 12 | newer

    0 0

    Are you looking for ways to get into the Thanksgiving spirit without sacrificing any instructional time? Interactive Sight Word Readers are here to help!


    All of my Interactive Sight Word Readers are 6-page booklets that get students reading and using sight words in a way that is engaging, fun, and on their level! Let me walk you through a popular emergent reader for the Thanksgiving season: Here is the Feast!

    The cover clearly displays the title of the reader, and the featured sight word "here" is is large bubble letters for students to color and begin to visualize. 
    Thanksgiving themed emergent reader for sight word "here"
    A cutting page with scrambled letters is included in the download. The word "here" is missing from each page of the book. It is the job of students to cut apart and unscramble the provided letters, and then glue them in the correct order on each page of the Sight Word Reader. 
    Thanksgiving themed emergent reader for sight word "here"
     Here you can see a set of letters cut and ready to be unscrambled.
    Thanksgiving themed emergent reader for sight word "here"
    The letters are ready to glue!
    Thanksgiving themed emergent reader for sight word "here"
     Once glued, the book is ready for some color. The graphics are sweet, simple, and so inviting for children to color. 
    Thanksgiving themed emergent reader for sight word "here"

    Teachers love Interactive Sight Word Readers because they provide practical sight word practice, foster fine motor development, and are on-level for most kindergarten (and many first grade) students. Students love Interactive Sight Word Readers because they feel a sense of pride and ownership for the book that they helped create. Read what teachers have to say about Interactive Sight Word Readers. 

    I have offer several Interactive Sight Word Readers for each season of the year. Here are a few seasonal readers that will be a perfect addition to your fall/winter curriculum. 

    Thanksgiving themed emergent reader for sight word "here"
    Thanksgiving-themed emergent reader for sight word "this"
    Santa-themed emergent reader for sight word "do"
    winter-themed emergent reader for sight word "my"

    The entire collection of Interactive Sight Word Readers (91 books and counting) is available in a mega bundle! The Bundle of Books is my top-selling item on Teachers Pay Teachers. Buying the bundle will give you access to all of my Interactive Sight Word Readers at a savings of 50%. Buy the Bundle today!
    Bundle of Books - one customer said "Hands down my favorite download on TPT! I pick a book each week to have my kiddos do. They love it!"

    Free Religious Interactive Sight Word Reader

    Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the gifts around us and express our gratitude for so many blessings. As a Catholic school teacher, I remind my students that all of the wonderful things in their life are gifts from God and we need to take the time to thank Him for all he has to offer. You can download "Thank You God" for FREE
    FREE religious themed emergent reader for sight word "you"

    I wish you a heart filled with gratitude as we prepare for Thanksgiving!

    0 0

    Kindergarten and First Grade teachers have been praising my color by number pages. Have you found this gem yet? This Time to Feast page was one of the first color by number pages I created. It's an oldie but a goodie!
    FREE Color by Number Thanksgiving Feast page
    Stop by my TpT store to grab another great Color by Number Freebie!

    You will also love my "Here is the Feast" Interactive Sight Word Reader. It provides thematic, hands-on practice for the sight word here and the text is "just right" for young readers!

    Thanksgiving emergent reader for sight word "here"
    Thanksgiving emergent reader for sight word "here"

    Happy Feasting!

    0 0

    This year I have become a teacher on a mission. Last summer's book study of The Next Step in Guided Reading by Jan Richardson helped me to reflect on students with a pre-emergent reading level in my kindergarten classroom. It inspired me to find new ways and work diligently with those students so they could rise above their struggle with reading and thrive in my classroom as confident and enthusiastic readers and writers. I was particularly fascinated to learn that the implementation of a simple alphabet tracing book could help students struggling with letter recognition take giant leaps forward in mastering this important pre-reading skill. So I set out to create an alphabet tracing book that is ideal for my students. 
    help students master the alphabet with tracing cards

    If you are not already familiar with the concept of an alphabet tracing book, it is a very simple resource. An ideal alphabet book includes a separate page for each letter of the alphabet. Each page includes a capital letter, lowercase letter, and picture that begins with the letter. Jan Richardson recommends keeping any picture labels off the pages of the book to eliminate confusion for early readers. Students use a finger to trace both letters on each page, then touch and recite the name of object in the picture. The tactile experience helps to engrain the letter in the student's mind so it can be recognized more easily. Richardson also encourages the use of a tutor or other adult to work with a child each time he/she traces the letters to ensure correct letter associations. 

    alphabet tracing book with arrows to guide students

    Proper printing formation is a HUGE component of my school's curriculum and it was important that I use this opportunity to promote and reinforce proper formation while my struggling readers interacted with this book. Light blue numbered arrows have been included on each page to prompt students the proper order for tracing each letter stroke. Unlike so many other tracing books, the inclusion of arrows was exactly what my students needed. 

    alphabet tracing book with arrows to guide students

    I was absolutely amazed to discover the tremendous strides my students made in alphabet recognition after tracing the book for a few short weeks. The difference has been incredible. Truly astounding. 

    Creating the Alphabet Book

    Creating the book was a simple process. I simply printed each page of the Alphabet Tracing Cards, laminated them on my Scotch Thermal Laminator (this makes the pages EXTRA durable), and bound all of the pages into a book.

    I posted this photo on Instagram when I began the laminating process and and such a huge response. So many people wanted to know where the book came from and how to get their hands on it.
    alphabet tracing book

    Even my best friend (who is not a teacher at all) commented that she wanted a copy for her 3 year old daughter, Amelia. I actually LOVED the idea of sharing a copy of the book with a preschool student. As a 3 year old, Amelia isn't ready for formal printing instruction, but she knows every capital letter and is ready for a new skill. Finger tracing seemed like the logical next step. So I printed, laminated, and bound a new book just for my young friend and went to visit her at home.

    Tracing with a Preschooler

    From the moment she saw the book, Amelia was fascinated. She loved the letters and the bright graphics. It took a few minutes of page flipping before she was ready to start at the beginning and check out every letter.

    alphabet tracing book with arrows to guide students
    As you might expect, the numbers and arrows were less helpful to 3 year old than they are to a kindergarten student. Fortunately this little peanut was great at following my example. I traced the letters with my finger and she traced right along with me. 
    alphabet tracing book with arrows to guide students
    She was captivated by every page. 
    alphabet tracing book with arrows to guide students

    This was also Amelia's first time learning about lowercase letters. I kept telling her things like "this is a different kind of A" or "sometimes K looks like this". It was a lot of new information but she didn't miss a beat. She kept right on tracing and easily figured out the name of the lowercase letter by looking at it's capitalized partner. Such a smart little cookie. 

    You can purchase my Alphabet Tracing Cards in my TpT store
    alphabet tracing book
    Some students need consistency across multiple alphabet resources. My alphabet picture cards are the perfect size to display as your classroom alphabet. They feature the exact same images as the Alphabet Tracing Card set and are available in two background colors: Black Series or traditional white background.
    classroom alphabet cards with a bold black background
    classroom alphabet cards

    0 0

    My friend Doug from TeacherShirts is at it again. He emailed me to tell me about his new process for creating shirts that allows him create a t-shirt from any custom design. I have been dreaming about owning a Kinder-Craze t-shirt for months and he had me at the words "any design." I jumped at the opportunity to design my own custom t-shirt and WOW, just look at how adorable my new t-shirt is. I want to wear it every day. 

    Kinder-Craze custom kindergarten teacher t-shirt

    I even wore it to school! I love, love, LOVE my new shirt. 
    Maria Manore from Kinder-Craze

    You can save 35% on all non-custom t-shirts from TeacherShirts.com now thru Monday, December 2. 

    Doug is so sweet he even has a shirt to share with one lucky Kinder-Craze fan. 
    Since teachers are so dedicated to our profession, Doug is giving away a customized "I Love My Job" t-shirt from his store. 

    Use the Rafflecopter below for your chance to enter!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    0 0

    Hello, lovelies and Happy Thanksgiving! As you meet with your family and sneak a peek at all of the retail sale flyers, don't forget to shop for your classroom… the big TpT sale that you have been waiting for is almost here.


    Are you a Black Friday or a Cyber Monday shopper? Whatever your preference, I have a shopping plan that is perfect for you!

    Shop Black Friday for Classroom Essentials

    As you prepare your lesson plans for next week and have your eye on essential classroom products, shop ahead on Black Friday to save 20% in my TpT store
    Save 20% on Kinder-Craze products on BLACK FRIDAY

    BIG Savings on Cyber Monday and Tuesday

    If you are anything like me, you have a wish list FULL of great classroom products. Make sure you COME BACK to TpT on Cyber Monday (and Tuesday). That sale is the BIGGIE because my entire store is discounted 20%, PLUS you can save an additional 10% when you use the promo code CYBER at checkout. That adds up to a total savings of 28%.

    Build your Wish List
    Ready to fill your wish list with lots of goodies? 
    Here are some of my top-sellers and seasonal favorites!

    Reindeer Food Kit
    Santa makes a special delivery to my classroom each year and leaves the ingredients to make his magic Reindeer Food. Santa's Super-Special Magic Reindeer Food Kit has every printable you need to get started. You can read more about my special visit from Santa.
    Santas Reindeer Food Kit

    Interactive Sight Word Readers
    Stock up on my Best-Selling Interactive Sight Word Readers
    Several titles are available to accompany many winter themes for your classroom.
    Do you See Santa Interactive Sight Word Reader
    Christmas themed emergent reader for sight word "me"
    "Do You See the Gingerbread" Interactive Sight Word Reader
    What is on my Sweater - Interactive sight word reader for "MY"

    Winter Mini-Bundle of Interactive Sight Word Readers
    This Set of 8 Winter-Themed Interactive Sight Word Readers is a great way to get started building your collection of emergent readers without investing a lot of money up front. 
    Buy the pack to see what the buzz is all about!
    Winter theme MINI bundle of the best-selling Interactive Sight Word Readers

    Bundle of Books
    Don't forget the Bundle of Books. This set includes all 96 readers, priced at a 50% discount. It's a MEGA bargain when you save an extra 20%. 
    Bundle of Books… BEST TPT PURCHASE EVER!

    Alphabet Tracing Cards
    Do you have students struggling with letter recognition and proper formation? These Alphabet Tracing Cards are the answer to your prayers. Print, bind them into a book, and you have an instant resource that makes a HUGE impact in their letter success. Read more about how I use these cards in my own classroom
    Alphabet Tracing Cards….supplemental resource for letter recognition

    Numbers in an Instant Subitizing Unit
    Subitizing is an essential early math skill. This Numbers in an Instant Subitizing Unit is the newest item in my TpT store and it is already wildly popular. Help students read, roll, count, make, glue, and write their way to recognizing quantities. 
    Numbers in an Instant SUBITIZING UNIT

    Numbers in an Instant SUBITIZING UNIT



    HAPPY THANKSGIVING!



    0 0

    Do you have a classroom elf? I am so excited to have one for the first time this year. My students have already begun to talk about their elves at home and I think this is the perfect way to bring some Christmas magic into my classroom (and hopefully a little management magic as well!) I have made arrangements for my elf to arrive via "Special Delivery" tomorrow morning.  I have a fun freebie to share with you as well. You will find it later on in this post!

    This teacher had great ideas for using an elf in her classroom!

    Introducing the Elf

    Many of my students already have elves at home, but a few do not and I knew it was important to teach those students about the Elf's magic and his role as Santa's helper. I bought An Elf's Story DVD and we watched it as a special treat in class last week. 
    This teacher had great ideas for using an elf in her classroom!
    My students were ENTHRALLED. Even the ones that already own the movie! It was perfect because it taught my students all about the elf and his job. 
    This teacher had great ideas for using an elf in her classroom!
    Once the movie was complete, we wrote letters to Santa asking him to PLEASE send an elf to our classroom. One of my students started telling me all about how his elf at home made messes and kept getting into mischief. That sweet boy reminded me that I should write my own letter to Santa requesting a well-behaved elf for our classroom, so of course I did!

    Preparing for the Elf's Arrival

    As you probably already know, Santa's helper elves arrive in a special Elf on the Shelf gift box. This super-durable box is made to last for many years. The package includes a hardcover Elf on the Shelf book and cute little elf (available in boy or girl versions.)
    This teacher had great ideas for using an elf in her kindergarten classroom!

    Santa will be sending a boy elf to my classroom this year and he asked me to help him prepare a few fun twists as I kick off this new classroom tradition.

    Special Delivery Parcel Packaging from Santa

    When Santa makes a delivery, he makes a SPECIAL delivery, direct from the North Pole!
     I wanted this  gift from Santa to be extra-special so I added a little Christmas magic. 

    To begin, I wrapped the Elf on a Shelf gift box with brown parcel paper (available in the shipping aisle of most major stores - including Target). Instead of using tape, I glued the paper flaps together while I wrapped the gift. 
    Santa is magical, after all. 
    I'm sure he doesn't use tape on special delivery shipments. 
     FREE printables to use with your classroom elf

    Once the gift was wrapped, it needed a "Special Delivery from Santa" label. I printed and cut out the label then used a glue stick to attach it to the center of the box. You'll find a freebie for downloading a printable version in my FREE Classroom Elf Special Delivery from Santa Printable Set. 
    FREE printables to use with your classroom elf

    The gift from Santa was shaping up and almost ready for the freezer, but it still needed a little bit of Christmas magic. 
    Hellllloooo, glitter and spray adhesive!
    FREE printables to use with your classroom elf

    I gave the box a light spritz of Easy-Tack along the edges of the box and sprinkled a bit of white and gold glitter onto the adhesive. I didn't want to coat it in glitter, just create the appearance of a little North Pole magic clinging to the box. 
    FREE printables to use with your classroom elf

    My Special Delivery elf box is all wrapped up and ready to deliver. It is currently sitting in the staff freezer at my school. Tomorrow morning, one of the secretaries will deliver the box to my classroom saying it arrived direct from the North Pole. 
    FREE printables to use with your classroom elf

    A Letter from Santa

    When our classroom gift from Santa arrives, the elf will not be inside the box! 
    FREE printables to use with your classroom elf

    Once the box is opened, a typed note from Santa himself will explain that our letters were received and an elf has been sent, but he is already on duty keeping a careful watch over our classroom. I love how the letter appears to have a real signature from Santa. (Boy and girl elf versions of the letter are also included in the FREE Classroom Elf Special Delivery from Santa Printable Set.) Keep reading to find out more.
    FREE printables to use with your classroom elf
    fun ideas for using a classroom elf

    I couldn't resist taking a classroom snapshot of my new Elf friend.
    This is going to be so much fun!
    fun ideas for using a classroom elf


    Finding the Perfect Spot for my Elf

    I really want my classroom elf to remain secretly hidden until the package arrives from the North Pole (roughly an hour after our school day begins). I hunted ALL over the classroom trying to find a location that was visible, but somewhat hidden from my observant little friends. I think I finally found the perfect location. Can you see my classroom elf? 

    fun ideas for using a classroom elf

    This photo is taken from a student's seat. Can you see him now? 
    fun ideas for using a classroom elf

    What about now?
    fun ideas for using a classroom elf

    There he is! Hidden right beside the bathroom. 
    fun ideas for using a classroom elf

    Waiting oh-so patiently to be discovered. 
    Keep your fingers crossed that my little friends are tired and groggy tomorrow morning! 
    fun ideas for using a classroom elf

    FREE Classroom Elf Printable Pack

    Make preparations for Santa to send an elf to your classroom, Kinder-Craze style! Download my FREE Classroom Elf Special Delivery from Santa printable set from TpT. The set includes printable labels, a typed letter from Santa, and a writing template so your students can write letters requesting an elf from Santa. 
    FREE printables for the delivery of an elf to your classroom!

    Fill Your Cart for the Sale

    Don't forget the big Cyber Monday and Tuesday Sale kicks off tomorrow on Teachers Pay Teachers. Save 28% on my ENTIRE store when you use discount code "CYBER" at checkout! 


    0 0

    The Christmas season is upon us and I am having such a BLAST getting into the holiday spirit! My students recently created the most adorable Christmas tree window decorations and they bring so much holiday cheer into my classroom. I just had to share a tutorial of my newest holiday project with you!
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations

    If you're a Kinder-Craze follower, you probably already know of my long-standing obsession with tissue paper window decorations. The Catholic teacher in me loves how they look like stained glass windows. The craftaholic in me loves that they require only the simplest of materials to create. 

    For this project, I wanted to use traditional Christmas colors. I used green tissue paper (in two shades) as the filler of the tree but I wanted the red to pop in a big way. I took out my trusty star-shaped paper punch and started punching through red bulletin board paper (the cheap stuff your school probably carries that is red on both sides.) I love the bulletin board paper because it is opaque enough to stand out against the green tissue paper, but still allows a lot of light to shine through it. 
    (Also, paper punches do NOT like to cut through tissue paper.)
    star shaped paper punch
    I have had my star punch for several years and I am not sure where it came from but I found a similar star punch on Amazon.

    I always prep the work stations for the students in my class while they are away from their desks playing or out of the classroom at a specials class. The project is simple to prep - it just takes a little time. To prep, peel a sheet of clear contact paper (approximately 9"x12") and place it sticky-side-up on each child's desk. Place a black Christmas tree frame (download a free template) in the center of each contact paper sheet. Place tissue paper and star cutouts in containers that are easily within reach of all students. 
    That's it! The students do the rest of the work!

    Have students begin with the stars. My kindergarten students each put 5 stars on their tree. Once the stars were complete, the children filled in the rest of the trees with two different shades green tissue paper squares. 
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations

    There are always a few students that are in a rush and will say that they are finished while their Christmas tree is still half-empty. I tell those students that they need to keep adding more pieces of tissue paper until I can no longer see their desk peeking up through the tree. 
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations

    This student put the finishing touches on his tissue paper Christmas tree. 
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations

    Once the tree is completely filled with stars and tissue paper, I always "seal" the project by placing another sheet of clear contact paper sticky-side-down on the back of the tree. That way, there is plastic coating on both sides and I don't have stray pieces of tissue paper all over my classroom.

    Each student carefully trimmed the excess plastic from their own Christmas trees.
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations

    Student names are recorded on their trees with a black Sharpie and the trees are hung in the classroom windows with clear Scotch tape. 
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations

    I love, love, LOVE how cute and festive our Christmas trees look.
    Tissue Paper Christmas Tree Window Decorations

    You can easily make tissue paper Christmas trees to decorate the windows in your home or classroom too! Download a free Christmas tree template to get started!

    Happy Holidays!

    0 0
  • 12/05/13--19:47: A Visit from St. Nicholas
  • Hello friends! Tomorrow is St. Nicholas Day and I had such a treat tonight. St. Nicholas visited my church. No, not Santa. St. Nicholas. Complete with a staff and mitre. He has visited my parish a few times in the past and tonight was the first time I attended. What a wonderful presentation! The children in the audience were captivated from the moment he entered the church.

    a real, live visit from St. Nicholas
    This little girl was completely enthralled. 
    a real, live visit from St. Nicholas
    He stayed in-charater the entire time and taught the audience the history of St. Nicholas. He was wonderful to listen to as he shared his unique ministry with the young children of my church.
    a real, live visit from St. Nicholas
    At the end of the program, the audience was treated to a little fun with Jolly Old St. Nick. He discussed how the traditional bishop's clothing of St. Nicholas evolved into the current garb of Santa Claus. As he discussed the cloak, hat, beard, and staff; St. Nicholas slowly attired a boy from the audience in Santa's clothing. 
    a real, live visit from St. Nicholas
    Once Santa was fully-outfitted, he needed some reindeer! More children from the audience were selected to play this important role. The sweet cutie in the red dress just couldn't get close enough. She walked herself right onto the stage when Santa needed a Rudolph. It was precious. 
    a real, live visit from St. Nicholas

    About the Presenter

    By now, you're probably wondering who this wonderful presenter is and where he came from. (I know I was!) This particular St. Nicholas is actually a local Michigander. Based out of Livonia, Michigan; Fr. Joseph Marquis has over 40 years of experience portraying "Father Christmas." He previously served as the "official Santa" of the J.L. Hundson Thanksgiving Day parade (a Detroit tradition.) Today, Fr. Marquis runs the St. Nicholas Institute where he provides multi-day seminars to train others in the live portrayal of Santa or St. Nicholas. What a unique and special man!

    St. Nicholas Resources

    Looking for St. Nicholas resources to use in the classroom? You can download a FREE St. Nicholas Mitre hat craftivity or a special Interactive Sight Word Reader entitled "Here is St. Nicholas."St. Nicholas Center is another wonderful website that offers an abundance of resources and St. Nick themed activities for children. 
    "Here is St. Nicholas" FREE emergent reader
    FREE St. Nicholas Mitre hat craft

    I couldn't resist… I had to have my photo taken with St. Nicholas too!
    a real, live visit from St. Nicholas
    Have a blessed St. Nicholas Day!


    0 0
  • 12/08/13--09:00: Jo Totes Camera Bag Giveaway
  • As a blogger, I never know when inspiration will strike, so I bring my camera with me everywhere, When I used my iPhone as my primary camera, this was an easy task - I always had my phone in my purse. Things became a little more interesting last year when I upgraded to a DSLR camera (a Cannon T3i ) I LOVE my camera but it no longer fits conveniently inside of my purse. Especially since I usually carry an itty bitty purse. 

    My quest for the perfect camera bag led me straight to Jo Totes. They design stylish camera bags exclusively for women and I am in LOVE with every single bag they create. And I have great news for you! The Jo Totes team is giving away a $125 gift card to their online store to one lucky Kinder-Craze fan! 
    Enter to win a GORGEOUS Jo Tote camera bag

    I own the Rose Coral bag and my friend Marsha owns from A Differentiated Kindergarten owns the Gracie Mustard bag. I love anything feminine and girly and the pink tote with a leather rosette accent was the perfect bag for me. It is large enough to hold my camera, additional lenses, and my purse contents so I don't need to carry two separate bags when I leave the house. The inside has customizable compartments that can be arranged to suit any woman's needs. Here is a peek inside the teal version of my Jo Tote. 
    Enter to win a GORGEOUS Jo Tote camera bag

    A Little More About My Jo Tote

    I am obsessed with the rich coral color of my bag. As you can see, the stitching and and hardware details are all top-quality as well. 
    Enter to win a GORGEOUS Jo Tote camera bag
    I usually carry my Jo Tote as a purse and use two straps that are always attached. I get compliments on the bag EVERY single time I take it somewhere with me. Women are always gushing "I love your purse!" I always reply with "Thanks! It's actually my camera bag!" Seriously, what's not to love?
    Jo Tote Camera bag giveaway
    My Jo Tote also comes with a detachable shoulder strap. Women always seem to have so many bags to carry. Especially teachers. Sometimes the shoulder strap is a great alternative. This top-quality strap is made from the same gorgeous leather as the bag. 
    rose coral Jo Tote camera bag
    Rose Coral Jo Tote camera bag
    I love, love, LOVE my Jo Tote!
    love this Jo Tote camera bag

    Jo-Totes Giveaway

    Are you feeling lucky today? I hope so because you could win a $125 Jo Totes gift certificate. This giveaways is extra-special because my good friend Marsha at A Differentiated Kindergarten is also giving away a Jo-Totes gift certificate. Two separate giveaways means two changes to win! Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.  This giveaway is open to US residents and ends Friday, December 13 at 10:00pm EST. 


    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Now head over to A Differentiated Kindergarten for an extra chance to win a Jo Totes camera bag of your own!
    differentiated kindergarten button
    Enter to win a GORGEOUS Jo Tote camera bag

    Which Jo Tote is on YOUR wish list?

    PS - want to know more about my camera and how I learned to shoot with a DSLR? One of my biggest FAQs gets answered in a new blog post!
    "

    Say cheese!


    0 0

    You may have noticed that my little blog has undergone a few changes in the past year. In addition to having a new domain that is much easier to remember (kindercrazeblog.com), the photos and images I share in each post have substantially improved. When I first began my blogging journey, I relied primarily on my iPhone and a simple point and shoot camera. It was a good start and I was proud of my work, but last winter I upgraded to a DSLR camera and it brought my blog's content to a whole new level. Readers often notice the quality of my photos and inquire about my camera. Today I am happy to answer all of your camera-related questions!

    this blogger expains the equipment she uses to capture beautiful photos
    Before we proceed, I must stress that I am not a professional photographer. I am just a novice that learned the basics of a DSLR camera and found a way to adjust the settings to fit my aesthetic. I'll happily share the knowledge I have, but be warned that I am certainly not an expert. 

    I Heart My Camera

    Today, I shoot with a Canon Rebel T3i camera. It is a DSLR (the fancy kind of camera with detachable lenses). I love my camera. The quality, crispness, and clarity of the photos it captures astounds me every time I use it. I especially love that it has the ability to make the background appear blurry so your eye is drawn to the intended subject of the photo. 

    Cannon Rebel T3i camera

    Learning to Shoot Like a Pro

    Owning a quality camera is only half the battle. It is equally important that you know the basics of operating a DSLR. Any camera is only as good as the person standing behind it. When I first received my camera, I was beyond intimidated. I was scared of breaking it, the operating manual was like a foreign language, and I was completely overwhelmed. 

    Then I signed up for a 3-hour photography workshop.
    That single class changed everything. 

    I discovered BTW Photography, a local photographer that offered a 3-hour DSLR class for beginners.. I was taught basic camera terminology, how to adjust my settings to adjust the amount of light in the photo, and what all those crazy numbers on the display screen mean. I walked away confident and ready to put my new photography knowledge to use. I now shoot exclusively in manual mode and I never use a flash. (Purchasing an external flash and learning how to use it artistically is on my holiday to-do list). 

    I highly recommend a beginner's class for everyone that purchases their first DSLR camera. Whether you own a Canon or a Nikon, your camera will work so much better for you if you know how to use it properly. Unsure of where to find a class? Check your local community college. They frequently offer basic photography classes. Groupon and Living Social also offer occasional deals on local photography classes. (BTW Photography is a perfect example of a professional photographer that has offered classes through Living Social).

    blog photography tips

    Let's Talk Lenses

    Everyone that gets ready to purchase a new camera always wants to know what lens they need. Many DSLR cameras are available in a starter kit that includes a camera body and an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens. I have learned that this is a very basic starter lens. It's the lens that I started on and it serves many everyday functions. It's perfect for shooting around the home (or classroom) while you become accustomed to your new camera. This type of lens sells for about $200 by itself so I highly recommend purchasing a camera kit that includes a camera body and this lens.
    Canon 18-55mm/f3.5-5.6 lens

    Once you feel comfortable with the camera and the basics, consider upgrading to a new lens. My favorite lens is a 50mm/f 1.8 II lens. It let's you zoom in super-close and allows you to adjust your aperture to a super-low setting of 1.8 (in non-technical talk, this basically means that it allows you to let in lots of light and get the background of your images extra blurry).  This lens was recommended to me at the class and I love it! I use it 90% of the time when I take photos. In fact, i recently broke my 50mm lens in an unfortunate accident and had to RUSH to Best Buy to purchase a replacement. 
    Cannon 50mm/f1.8 lens

    Sidenote: Have you ever wondered what the inside of a camera lens looks like? 
    I don't. Not anymore. 

    A Stylish Camera Bag

    Every girl needs a fabulous bag to carry her camera in style.I carry a Rose Coral bag from Jo Totes. I love how it looks like an oversize purse (I always get tons of compliments) and is large enough to hold my camera, additional lenses, and my purse contents so I don't have to carry too many bags at once.
    Rose Coral Camera bag from Jo Totes
    With a pretty pink color and lots of feminine details, this is the bag for me!
    Rose Coral camera bag from Jo Totes
    If you're curious about Jo Totes and want to win a stylish bag of your own, be sure to enter my Jo Totes Camera Bag giveaway! The contest runs now until Friday, December 13 at 10:00pm EST.
    Jo Totes Giveaway

    With some basic information to get you started on your own journey into DSLR photography, I am hoping that your toughest decision will be which camera bag to add to your Christmas wish list!
    blog camera tips
    Say cheese!

    0 0
  • 12/15/13--06:56: Photos of my Elf in Action
  • As you know, I am hosting a classroom elf this year. My studenents watched An Elf's Story on DVD, then wrote letters to Santa requesting an Elf on the Shelf for our classroom. We had heard that some elves were naughty and caused mischief, so we asked Santa to send us a well-behaved elf that could follow all the rules. Our elf arrived via "Special Delivery" from Santa and we immediately named him Nicholas. As promised, Nicholas does not cause a single classroom antic. Each day, he simply found a new location in the classroom to keep watch while he collected observations for his nightly report to Santa. I snapped some photos of our friend each time he visited the classroom. Check out where he has been.
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf
    After a particularly difficult day of observing poor classroom choices, Nicholas returned with a warning from Santa…
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf
    I wonder where our elf will pop up next!

    If you want to know more about how I introduced the classroom elf and launched it in the classroom, be sure to check out this blog post. 
    cute ideas and fun photos for elf on a classroom shelf

    Don't forget to download my FREE Classroom Elf Special Delivery from Santa pack!

    Only 10 days til Christmas!


    0 0

    I love celebrating the Christmas season in my kindergarten classroom. Yes, the kids are wound up and excited, but it is such a joyful time of year. We talk about Santa, elves, and most importantly - Jesus. As a Catholic educator, Advent is one of my favorite seasons in the classroom. Especially in kindergarten. The little ones talk about baby Jesus with a sweetness and a reverence that melts my heart. I am so excited to share some of the resources I used in my classroom to help students interact with the Christmas story in a hands-on way. 

    resources and ideas for a Christ-centered Christmas with children

    Nativity Playset

    My first purchase was a nativity play set from Fisher Price. This 12-piece set includes figures of the Holy family, 3 wiremen, 4 animals, an angel, and a stable. I placed the set on my prayer table, right beside our Advent Wreath. My students LOVE coming to the table to reenact this blessed event. 
    Fisher price Nativity play set
    Fisher price Nativity play set
     If you noticed, the play set did not include any shepherds (I know, it's crazy). I also purchased a Fisher Price Lil' Shepherds set to finally get a shepherd. It was worth the extra expense. My kids really needed a shepherd!

    Nativity Sticker Books

    Next on my shopping list were a few copies of The Very First Christmas (Sticker Stories)
    The Very First Christmas sticker book
    This sweet book contained a blank scene on each page (perfect for teaching story setting!). Students added the appropriate characters and decorative elements to each page in accordance with the text on the page. My kindergarteners were completely ENTHRALLED. 
    Nativity sticker book for teaching about the First Christmas
    Nativity sticker book for teaching about the First Christmas
    Nativity sticker book for teaching about the First Christmas

    AMAZING resources and ideas for Christ-centered Religion instruction

    Nativity Stick Puppet Kit

    The hands-on fun continued with this cute set of stick puppets that I picked up at Michaels. Each box created 2 full sets of 8 characters from the First Christmas (16 puppets total).
    foam Nativity stick puppets

    The set included all materials to create the puppets (except assembly instructions). It was a little confusing at first but we did the bet we could and my students loved making the puppets.
    foam Nativity stick puppets
    foam Nativity stick puppets
    foam Nativity stick puppets

    Classroom Advent Wreath

    Even my Advent Wreath was hands-on. I use battery powered candles so that my students could help me "light" the Advent candles during prayer each morning. 
    precious ideas for Advent and Christmas in a Catholic classroom
    We always turn the lights off while we light the wreath. It makes the moment feel extra-special. 
    precious ideas for Advent and Christmas in a Catholic classroom

    Advent Calendar for Young Children

    Of course our class needed an Advent Calendar too! I bought the Fisher Price Little People Nativity Advent Calendar. I love how each fabric pocket includes a small plush piece to add to the nativity scene. The pieces attach to little velcro circles on the stable.  
    Fisher Price plush Advent Calendar
    plush Advent calendar from Fisher Price

    Kindergarten Nativity Pageant

    Of course, in the tradition of any Catholic elementary school, my students also performed in a seasonal Christmas pageant. They worked SO hard on the musical performance and I was so proud of them! All costumes were purchased from Oriental Trading.
    AMAZING resources and ideas for a Christ-centered Christmas with children

    Christ-Centered Parent Gifts for Christmas

    Even the children's gifts to their parents were Christ-centered. If you recall from last year's blog post, I recorded my students reciting lyrics to "Away in a Manger" and arranged their voices over an instrumental version of the song. Hearing to their voices gives me the chills and melts my heart every single time I listen to the recording. You can listen to last year's recording by clicking the link below: 

    This year's gift to my parents will be a similar recording featuring the song "Still, Still, Still". This song is actually a lullaby and it has a beautiful sweet melody that enourgages the listener to be still, sleep, and dream because it is "'the Eve of our Savior's birth". I searched for a version of the song with simple vocals so you could appreciate the lyrics. This is the best I was able to find. My class gift has an instrumental version playing softly in the background. 

    I always get so excited prepping and wrapping this project for my students to take home. 
    audio CDs of children's voices cute idea for parent gifts

    Integrating Literacy and Religion Instruction

    I was also thrilled to purchase a few Nativity books that were easy enough for many my kindergarten students to read. If you purchase many books for five year olds, you know how difficult it can be to find books with easy text. I recently discovered the adorable book Christmas in the Manger and it has been a great addition to my classroom library. My students love the sweet illustrations and simple text.
    AMAZING resources and ideas for Christ-centered Religion instruction
    12 books to teach the True Meaning of Christmas

    12 books to teach young children the True Meaning of Christmas

    Stock your classroom library with 12 great books to teach young children about the True Meaning of Christmas:
    1. The Very First Christmas (Sticker Stories)

    FREE Interactive Sight Word Reader

    Many religious products are available for FREE in my TpT store, including a Nativity-based Interactive Sight Word Reader called "Who is with Baby Jesus?". Help students master the sight word "with" while learning about the First Christmas with this free emergent reader.
    FREE Nativity-based Interactive Sight Word Reader

    Wishing you a very BLESSED Christmas,

    0 0
  • 12/26/13--08:55: Kinder-Craze Loves Educents
  • Pssst… calling all thrifty teachers! Have you discovered Educents yet? If you're not already familiar with Educents, you really should be. It's like Groupon for teachers. Educents offers amazing educational products for teachers and homeschoolers at a huge discount. The deals are always exclusive and always for a limited time only, which means you have to act fast.



    I just LOVE Educents. Every time the Daily Deals newsletter arrives in my email, I eagerly open it to see what fabulous products they are discounting this week. My first-ever classroom purchase from Educents was a new globe for my classroom. Globes are expensive and my globe was so old, it showed the USSR. Needless to say, I was thrilled to see that Educents was offering a deal on a high-quality, affordable globe last spring. I bought a new globe for myself and for several of my teaching friends that also needed a geographically accurate globe. My classroom elf recently decided to hang out on the globe for one of his visits.


    I'm not the only one that loves Educents. The girls at Freebielicious all love Educents too. In fact, we are so excited about Educents that several of us are each giving away $25 in Edubucks! A total of $450 in Educents credit will be given away and you do NOT want to miss out. That's right.. you could win $25 from each Freebielicious totaling $450 for Freebielicious readers!  Keep reading to enter and for more details!


    The giveaway is lots of fun, but I have even more great news to share! Freebielicious has teamed up with Educents to bring you an exclusive extra discount on all Educents purchases.  Educents purchases are already an amazing bargain, but if you use of our exclusive codes, you can save an EXTRA 20% on your total purchase!  That's a discount on top of an already great discount. Click the button below to start saving and shopping. Don't forget to use discount code KinderCraze20 to save 20% on all Educents purchases. 



    Earn Edubucks with Every Purchase

    And have you heard about Edubucks?  With Educents no good deed goes unnoticed.  So as you purchase items for your learners, you will earn Edubucks for future purchases.  You can also earn them through referrals so be sure to sign up and share with your friends!  It's a great way to earn free materials for your students!

    Educents Giveaway

    Educents has generously shared $25 in Edubucks with each of my participating Freebielicious friends $25 for an extra-special giveaway!  That means $450 in Edubucks will be going to Freebielicious readers!  Can you believe it?  So enter below for  your chance to win $25 in Edubucks from Kinder-Craze and then visit my friends for more chances to win!   

     a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Don't forget to stop by and visit each of the participating Freebielicious girls. They are also hosting giveaways for even more chances to win!



    Kinder-Craze loves Educents!

    0 0

    Hello friends! Now that I am finally back from my whirlwind Christmas, I am so excited to share a peek into my classroom Christmas celebration with you. Well, maybe more than just a peek. Several peeks. Thirty peeks and inspirational photos. Ready? Me too!


    First things first. Every great party starts with fabulous decor. I scoured the internet for the perfect party decorations. I wanted pieces that were a natural fit for my bright classroom environment and also brought holiday joy into the room. As it turns out, I had to look no further than Oriental Trading Company

    adorable Christmas party ideas for children
    I discovered the most adorable paper lanterns that look like holiday spiral hard candy. They had just enough pops of red and green to bring an instant festive flair into my classroom without clashing in the existing bright rainbow decor. 
    adorable Christmas party ideas for young children

     I purchased table coverscandy cane plates, and lanterns from Oriental Trading. The rest of my supplies came from Party City and Gordon Food Center. 

    I loved the sweet treats line of party supplies from Oriental Trading because it was the perfect backdrop for the main event of my class party: Frosted Christmas Trees! 
    Frosted Christmas Trees… MUST remember this idea next Christmas!
    If you are not already familiar with this instant holiday craft, let me be the first to inform you! It's an updated spin on the traditional gingerbread house, and it's perfect for kindergarten students. Rather than the self-torture of leading young children in the complicated task of gingerbread house construction, and then tearfully watching the sugary walls inevitably topple over, students simply frost an inverted ice cream cone and decorate the cone with small candies to resemble a Christmas tree. 
    So simple! And kindergarten students LOVE this project! 

    Setting up for this project was a simple task. While my students were at library, my troop of classroom volunteers helped me prepare the trees for decoration.

    The students were going to decorate their trees on top of inverted cup lids so we could easily pop an upside down cup on top of the tree for a convenient carrying case. 
    (Check out my new DIY Cup Carrying Case Photo Tutorial for more info).

    Green frosting was put into a pastry bag. We piped the frosting out and used it as glue to create an anchor for the ice cream cones. This prevented the cones from toppling over during the decorating process. To begin, a large dollop of frosting was placed directly onto the inverted lid and a round cookie was set on top of the frosting. From there, more frosting was piped around the top of the cookie. 
    Frosted Christmas Trees… MUST remember this idea next Christmas!
    An inverted sugar ice cream cone was placed directly onto the ring of frosting. This served as the perfect foundation for our frosted trees. 
    cute ideas for frosted ice cream cone Christmas trees
    frosted Christmas trees made from ice cream cones

    After a few minutes, I had an entire forest of ice cream cone trees waiting to be frosted. 
    Frosted Christmas Trees… MUST remember this idea next Christmas!
    Frosted Christmas Trees… MUST remember this idea next Christmas!

    My students arrived back from library while the classroom parents worked to set up a few finishing touches. This little guy was SO excited to start decorating his frosted tree!
    kindergarten Christmas party ideas

    At last, the students were able to begin! My kindergartners are very well-behaved but I wasn't harboring any illusions about their ability to resist the temptation of finger licking and candy tasting. With so many cold and flu symptoms going around this winter, I took measures to keep the germs contained. Each student was given his/her own plastic knife and personal frosting container. They could lick and frost to their heart's content without fear of spreading germs. 

    Candy distribution was handled carefully as well. The sweet decorating supplies were placed in cups and used as table centerpieces. Each time a child wanted to decorate with a certain type of candy, they would raise their hand and a parent would pour a little bit of the desired candy onto the child's plate. It worked perfectly and no hands came in contact with the candy supply.
    Frosted Christmas Trees… MUST remember these great ideas next Christmas!
    Frosted Christmas Trees… MUST remember these great ideas next Christmas!

    This little sweetie spent longer than everyone else decorating her tree. I think I know why.
    Frosted Christmas Trees… MUST remember these great ideas next Christmas!
    Frosted Christmas Trees… MUST remember these great ideas next Christmas!
    this blog post has LOTS of great ideas and photos for a children's Christmas party
    this blog post has LOTS of great ideas and photos for a children's Christmas party
    frostedChristmas trees
    this blog post has LOTS of great ideas and photos for a children's Christmas party

    The lids were prepped and ready to cover any completed trees.
    I purchased 20 ounce cups and lids from GFS. Similar cups and lids are also available on Amazon
    frosted Christmas trees… MUST remember to come back to this pin next Christmas!

    I just love how these completed masterpieces look inside of their special carrying cases. They actually look like Christmas ornaments. 
    frosted Christmas trees… MUST remember to come back to this pin next Christmas!
    frosted Christmas trees… MUST remember to come back to this pin next Christmas!
    And I love how well the lanterns accent our party theme!
    this blog post has lots of amazing ideas and great photos from a classroom Christmas party
    Once the tree decorating was complete, we opened presents while classroom volunteers cleaned up our sugary mess and prepared to serve lunch. I didn't have time to wrap the students' gifts all fancy, so I bought cute blouse boxes at Target and placed their gifts inside. The Dollar Store is also and excellent resource for inexpensive gift boxes. 
    this blog post has lots of amazing ideas and great photos from a classroom Christmas party

    Like any good teacher, my students received the gift of books! I got at great deal on Can You See What I See? Christmas Read-And-Seek. These books were perfect because they are SIMPLE emergent readers with lots of picture support. They also have the intrigue of an I-Spy format to search for hidden objets in the photographs. 
    cute book for Christmas!
    It was an instant hit!
    cute book for Christmas!

    this blog post has lots of amazing ideas and great photos from a classroom Christmas party
    Once the presents were opened it was time to return to our seats and get ready to eat! The Chrismtas party is my favorite classroom celebration and it always has the best food! We feasted on pizza, potato chips and a small dessert. The students drank water, but we made it extra fancy with raspberry ice cubes and these adorable disposable stemmed drinking cups. I purchased mine at GFS but they also sell similar party cups on Amazon

    this blog post has lots of amazing ideas and great photos from a classroom Christmas party

     Pizza and chips never looked so fancy!
    this blog post has lots of amazing ideas and great photos from a classroom Christmas party

    Each child's place setting included a cute little box with their dessert inside. My students were dying to open the box and peek inside. 
    this blog post has lots of amazing ideas and great photos from a classroom Christmas party
    We had Pinterest-inspired reindeer donut holes, similar to the ones featured on duhlicious.com.
    this blog post has lots of amazing ideas and great photos from a classroom Christmas party

    While most of the class was thrilled about the pizza, donuts, and fancy water glasses; one kindergarten student just wanted to admire the frosted Christmas trees. 
    this blog post has lots of amazing ideas and great photos from a classroom Christmas party

    I can't say I blame her. 
    Frosted Christmas Trees… MUST remember this idea next Christmas!
    Be sure to pin this image so you'll remember it next Christmas. 
    Be sure to check out my DIY Cup Case photo tutorial to see how I created these simple cases. 
    DIY carrying case for frosted ice cream cone Christmas trees


    Happy Holidays!

    0 0

    After sharing my Frosted Christmas Trees blog post, I have received dozens of questions and comments about the plastic cups I use as carrying cases. People see the cups and ribbons, but want to know a few more details bout how I created the cups. I am happy to answer all of your questions with a photo tutorial! 
    this blog post has a great tutorial for making cute and simple carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees
    If you missed the post about the ice cream cone trees we frosted at my class Christmas party, you definitely want to check it out.
    DIY carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees from plastic cups

    First of all… brace yourself. 
    I do not consider myself a handy person. I'm a laptop kind of girl and power tools frighten me. I had to use a drill to prepare the cups and I was a little nervous. The school custodian fixed me up with his drill, bit, and safety glasses. Once I had the proper equipment, I was good-to-go. 
    Maria Manore from Kinder-Craze… my favorite blogger!

    To begin the process, I gathered all of the necessary tools:
    clear plastic 20 ounce cups and lids (I purchased mine at GFS.)
    holiday ribbon

    this blog post has a great tutorial for making cute and simple carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees
    great tutorial for making cute and simple carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees

    After gathering my materials, I was ready to drill! 

    I drilled 2 holes into the bottom of each cup. 
    The goal was to place both holes near the center of the cup.

    Before long, I had a collection of drilled cups and bits of plastic debris on the table. 
    DIY carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees from plastic cups

    With the holes complete, my next task was to thread ribbon throughout the holes to create a loop. 
    DIY carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees from plastic cups
    This required a very specific and highly-technical tool...
     a paperclip.

    Ok, maybe it isn't a very technical tool.

    I opened one prong of the paperclip and kept the rest of it coiled so I could easily maintain my grip on the clip while I worked. 

    First, I used the paperclip to push one end of a 12" strip of ribbon into the cup. I pushed about 2" of the strip through the hole. 
    DIY carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees from plastic cups
    The next part was a bit more tricky. I reached into the cup and used the paperclip to thread the same piece of ribbon up through the second hole and back out the bottom of the cup. 
    DIY carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees from plastic cups
    DIY carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees from plastic cups

    Once the ribbon was pulled through both holes, I joined the two ends together and tied a simple knot. My collection of cups was ready for the party! 
    DIY carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees from plastic cups

    These cup cases were the perfect way to showcase and display my students frosted tree creations!
    DIY carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees from plastic cups

    Want to see how I managed this holiday project in my kindergarten classroom during our party? I wrote about it in my Frosted Christmas Party blog post.
    DIY carrying cases for frosted ice cream cone trees from plastic cups

    Happy Holidays!

    0 0

    I just love a New Year. It's a perfect time to reflect back on the past year, see the amazing work God has done in my life, and strive toward self-improvement. 2013 was simply amazing. I am honestly in awe all the good and sweetness that came into my life last year. This year I am going to make a more conscious effort toward taking better care of myself. Not just by changing one habit, but by truly living a better-balanced life, so that I can continue to fully accept God's gifts for many years to come. 

    As you might imagine, I am very passionate about teaching and blogging. I love both of my jobs and am always pushing myself to do well in both arenas. The work fills me with joy and I am often so focused on my goals that I forget to take care of my own needs for a healthy balanced life. I don't drink enough water. I don't take time to eat on a schedule so I end up eating less-than-nutritious meals because they are fast. I am not active enough and I certainly do not get enough rest at night. 

    Starting today, all of that changes. I vow to make a more conscious effort to give my body more of it's basic requirements for a healthy life. These are my goals:

    Drink more water.
    Take time to eat.
    Go for a walk.
    Get a good night's rest.

    Every day.

    FREE print for framing to remind you of healthy habits

    I have already dusted off my pedometer and am ready to start walking around school again. In Michigan the temps are seriously cold, so I will do my walking inside of my school building. I usually average somewhere between 2.5 to 3 miles of walking just during the school day. I'm going to attempt to take "the long way" more often at school with the goal of adding an extra mile of walking activity to my daily activity. You can read more about my original experiment with wearing a pedometer at school for a week. It really is a great way to squeeze in a little extra daily activity. You can buy a pedometer just like mine on Amazon. They cost less than $25.
    easy way to monitor your daily activity level… wear a pedometer to work

    I know how easy it is to let myself get swept up in my work and push each of those activities off for another day. To remind myself of my personal commitment and the work it requires, I made an inspirational print to display around the house.
    free print to download and frame


    You can download your own PDF of this print for FREE. It is formatted to fit in a 5x7" frame so your inspiration can look as fabulous as you will feel in 2014. 

    I know that I can do it! 

    Speaking of resolutions, I'm not the only one turning over a new leaf in 2014. My Freebielicious friends are joining together to share their goals and resolutions for 2014 with you too! We want you to be the most fabulous version of yourself so we've also added some freebies that may help you reach your own personal goals. 
    Resolution freebies from FREEBIELICIOUS
    Resolution freebies from FREEBIELICIOUS

    Lori from Teaching with Love and Laughter has another great freebie to share. 
    Stop by to see her resolution for 2014. 
    Happy New Year!

    0 0

    I have really big news to share today. Huge news, really. If you are a fan of my Best-Selling Interactive Sight Word Readers, this message is for YOU. Today I published my 100th Interactive Sight Word Reader and updated the Bundle of Books to include ALL 100 titles.

    Bundle of Books… best TpT purchase ever!
    One hundred books! Can you believe it? I am still in awe of the popularity of these little books. When I first created them for my own students, I never dreamed that they would become such an essential resource in SO many classrooms. The sincere and heartfelt praise I have heard from other Kindergarten and First Grade teachers about these little books has truly filled my heart with joy. Thank you.

    Purchase the best-selling Bundle of Books on Teachers Pay Teachers

    This day has been over a year in the making and I KNEW that I wanted the milestone to be special. I saved two very special books to be the 99th and 100th titles added to the collection. I am SO excited about both of these books because they are perfect for the season and will be incredibly motivating for young students. With themes to fit the Winter Olympic Games and the 100th Day of School, I know these are sure to be a hit. 


    perfect emergent reader for the Winter OlympicsPerfect emergent reader for the 100th day of school
    (And how fitting is it that the 100th book in the collection is about being 100 years old?)

    About the Books

    Just in case you have been living under a rock and have not discovered my Interactive Sight Word Readers, let me show you what you've been missing! Here is a peek at "When I am 100…"

    adorable emergent reader for the 100th day of school

    The title of each book displays the featured sight word in bold bubble letters. My students always color this word. I like that it makes them really pay attention to all of the letters while they color (the time this requires makes it a more effective method of studying the letters than simply tracing the letters).
    adorable emergent reader for the 100th day of school

    Each page inside of the book contains a predictable sentence with the very-important featured sight word missing from the page. See those boxes? Students cut out letters, unscramble them, and paste each letter into the boxes on the page. A cutting sheet with all of the scrambled letters is also included in the pack. 
    "When I am 100…" emergent reader for the 100th day of school
    "When I am 100…" emergent reader for the 100th day of school
    Once the letters have been glued into place, it is time to color. This particular book contains Melonheadz graphics so you just KNOW how fun they are to color.
    "When I am 100…" emergent reader for the 100th day of school
    Once the book is complete, it is the perfect addition to my students' book boxes. 
    Interactive Sight Word Reader for the 100th day of school

    Now, I know I promised you a HUGE announcement about these little books so I won't keep you waiting any longer…

    Coming Soon: An All-New Bundle

    I have decided to begin a new chapter for my Interactive Sight Word Readers. The Bundle of Books will be capped at 100 titles and a new bundle is already in the works. The file has been getting so enormous on my computer that I often found myself wondering how to handle the tremendous size and value of the original Bundle of Books. I have been thinking and praying over this decision for quite some time (nearly 2 months if you can believe it). The reasons for the change are numerous and complicated. A few of the big reasons are that the file size is enormous and my very powerful computer often struggles with opening and closing the Bundle file every time I add to it. With a savings of 50%, the value of the Bundle of Books is undisputed, but the price has been rising and I just can't bring myself to charge more than $50 for a single product. I'm a teacher too and I know how precious a teacher's income is. There are many other reasons for the change, but I will spare you the tiny details. 

    The good news about the upcoming bundle is that it will start with an INCREDIBLY low price and (just like the original bundle) it will come with the benefit of free updates each time new books are added to the set. The new bundle isn't ready yet, but you will definitely want to purchase it early while the price is low. 

    The NEW Look 

    PLUS, all new books will have an updated cover style so you can tell in an instant which bundle any individual book is located in. I am SOOOO excited for the new look. The style and formatting of the actual student books will remain the same. (Why change a classic?) Only the cover and teacher information pages are getting a facelift. 

    Ready to see the new look? 
    BRAND NEW Interactive Sight Word Reader from Maria Manore

    Exciting, right?!? I cannot wait to start filling my store with these new Interactive Readers. 

    An Extra-Special Freebie

    I know I have some very enthusiastic fans and posting this image was like dangling candy in front of a small child. I understand how eager you must be to get your hands on this book and I'm sure that some people have already decided to hold out for the new bundle (rather than purchasing each book book separately). As a special treat, I have decided to offer "The Builder has her Tools", my first book in the new collection, as a limited time FREEBIE. It will remain free all day today and tomorrow (Saturday). Make sure you grab it fast because this book will change to a priced item on Sunday, January 5. 

    Bundle of Books Giveaway

    I still have a tiny bit more news to share. I am so excited about this exciting new chapter for my Interactive Sight Word Readers, I will be giving away a copy of the Bundle of Books. That's right! I am partnering up with one of my blogging besties to bring you a very special giveaway.  The fun starts tomorrow so you definitely want to stop by and check it out. Even if you already own the Bundle of Books, you don't want to miss it because another HUGE item that I use in my own classroom is also up for grabs. 
    Bundle of Books
    Stop by the blog tomorrow and I will fill you in on all the details. 

    Share Your Thoughts

    The new bundle will be created with you in mind! 
    What would you like to see? 

    All-New sight words? Seasonal books? Non-Seasonal books? 
    Two separate bundles (one with seasonal titles and one with only non-seasonal books?) 
    Do you have any specific theme/sight word requests? 

    What about the original Bundle of Books
    Now that is it finally complete, would you like to see all books available in one giant PDF? Or would you prefer a zip file containing with 100 separate books? Or do you love the way it is currently organized?

    Leave a comment with all of your thoughts and ideas. Your opinion is so valuable to me!

    0 0

    You are not going to believe the fun news I have to share with you today. I am teaming with with the wonderful Marsha from A Differentiated Kindergarten to give away our most popular bundled products. After you read this post, you HAVE to stop by Marsha's blog for a chance to win my best-selling Bundle of Books
    win a copy of the best-selling Bundle of Books

    But don't go yet, because I have to tell you about my new favorite classroom resource… Marsha's Word Families Galore Bundle. I also have to fill you in on the details of this fabulous giveaway. 

    Enter to win 2 of TpT's best-selling bundled sets

    Word Families Galore

    I started teaching word families in my kindergarten classroom in November. We do a different word family each week and I am slowly making my way through each vowel sound. I knew I wanted to go more in-depth with my word family instruction and activities this year, but I wasn't quite sure where to begin. That's when I discovered Marsha's collection of Word Family Galore units. They were the answer to my prayers! 

    Thanks to Marsha, my class has a little bit of a word family obsession. This is what they choose to do in their free time. 
    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten

    And this.
    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten
    And this again. 
    I'm telling you, my students are OBSESSED with word families! 
    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten

    But I'm getting ahead of myself. Allow me to back up and tell you about these fabulous units. As her blog name suggestions, Marsha's specialty is creating differentiated activities and resources to meet the diverse needs of all kindergarten students. True to her reputation, the activities in her Word Families Galore units vary from the super-simple, to an average challenge, to activities that could easily apply in a first grade classroom. Each word family unit is approximately 50 pages long and includes worksheets, center activities, and full-color suggestions for implementing the resources in your classroom. She sells each word family individually, in smaller bundles grouped according to short vowel sound, and of course in a huge Word Families Galore bundle

    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten

    Each individual word family set also contains the exact same TYPE of activity. I particularly love this because I only have to introduce a new activity one time, then my students can do the same activity each week for the new word family we are focusing on. In a half day classroom, I am always strapped for time and I greatly value the fact that I don't have to spend too much time explaining instructions. 

     These units are packed with so many resources, I have only done a few different activities in my classroom. I love that there are still many different ways to use the skill that my students can grow into throughout the year. Work with word families can always stay fresh and exciting to them.

    Now that you know a little bit about the Word Family Galore Units, let me give you a peek into how I use these resources in my own classroom…

    Every Monday I begin with an introduction to our new word family. I print a 8.5x11" poster of the word family and cards that display all words in the family with coordinating graphics (these are included in the set). I introduce each word and display the corresponding card on the whiteboard. We talk about the onset letter and the rime that follows. As each word is introduced, students record it on their personal whiteboards and draw a quick sketch to illustrate the word. 
    kindergarten word work
    kindergarten word family activities

    I print, laminate, and attach magnets to these cards. They are placed on my classroom whiteboard for students to use, explore, and manipulate all week long. They LOVE touching, matching, and rearranging the cards.
    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten
    Day 2 of our Word Family study is a chance for my students to participate in interactive writing. I print a copy of the numbered picture cards (also included in the set) and glue them onto chart paper. I always write something like "Meet the -in Family" at the top of the chart. Students take turns labeling each picture on the chart. I ALWAYS use two different color markers to help my struggling students see that each word in the family has a different onset letter but the same rime.  
    kindergarten rhyming words
    My students love writing the words on our class chart!
    discovering word families in kindergarten

    Once our Word Family anchor chart is complete, we play a game! 

    The word family units include pieces to play a fun game. The rules are very simple: students pass around a container with word family words inside. They need to read the word in order to keep it. As the game continues, the children begin to form a collection of word family cards. 
    FUN kindergarten word family resources

    My kindergarteners think just reading the words is fun but Marsha also includes a few cards with a fun twist requiring students to put one card back, draw an extra card, or put ALL their cards back. (Strangely, this is the card my students always want to draw. They think it's so funny!) The game ends when someone draws the lucky card that makes them the winner. I like that the top reader may not be the winner of the game. It is literally luck-of-the draw. 

    Different fun cards are included for each short vowel sound. These are the short a cards.
     How clever are these cards? 
    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten
    It's no wonder my students play this game constantly when their work is finished. They love playing the game and I love that they are becoming better readers. 
    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten
    kindergarten word family game

    As much as I love hands-on activities for my little learners, I still use worksheets in the classroom as well. The papers help me to see who is struggling with our new words and which students have mastered the words. It's also an excellent way for my kindergarteners to practice reading and writing the words in a different way.

    If you're a Kinder-Craze fan, you know how much I love FUN and UNUSUAL worksheets. I like to keep my students engaged while they work on the necessary paper skills. Marsha does not disappoint! She has included the most fun and engaging activities in her Word Family sets. I have literally only used a few of the options in my classroom. These are my favorite activities so far.

    Students use a bingo dotter to find a path of all words in the -at word family. It is a challenge because the whole page is filled with short a words, but after all the interactive practice we have in whole group, my students are experts at this activity.
    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten

    This is one of MY favorite worksheets in the set. Students cross off pictures that they find on the top of the page, then write each word to graph how often each picture appears in the scene.
    learning about word families in kindergarten
    learning about word families in kindergarten
    Math and literacy meet come together for this activity. LOVE!
    kindergarten word family activities

    By the end of the week, my students are ready to write the room! Technically, in my classroom, it's "write the lockers." I attach copies of the same picture cards we use on the word family anchor chart to the lockers outside my classroom. A few students at a time get to go into the hallway, locate each picture, and record the words on their paper. 
    kindergarten word family activities
    Of course, because Marsha is the QUEEN of differentiating instruction in Kindergarten, she includes a few different worksheet options for this activity. 
    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten
    Students that do the most difficult version of this activity read the sentences to a partner after they completed each missing word. 
    kindergarten word family activities
    These two boys skipped all of the numbered picture cards and went right to the anchor chart. They used the sentences as CLUES to figure out what word was missing and used the anchor chart as a giant word bank so they knew which words to include on the page. They made their teacher so proud by giving themselves an extra challenge. 
    kindergarten word family activities

    I have just begun to explore all of the resources in Marsha's Word Family Galore sets. There are still SO many more great activities yet to be discovered. I can't wait to use the rest of the packet activities in my classroom later this winer!

    Now that you know all about Marsha's wonderful Word Family Galore activities, you are ready to hear about the giveaway. 

    Marsha will be giving a copy of her Word Families Galore bundle to one lucky Kinder-Craze fan. This mega bundle has over 800 PAGES of classroom resources and sells for $58 on TpT. This is the first time Marsha has EVER given her bundle away. Aren't you excited!

    Word Family Galore from a Differentiated Kindergarten
    Use the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Now that you entered to win Marsha's fabulous Word Families Galore bundle, it's time for another chance to win a best-selling mega bundle! (This is a Double Bundle Giveaway, after all.)
    Enter to win 2 of TpT's best-selling bundled sets

    Just like Marsha, I have NEVER given away a copy of my own mega bundle, but there's a first time for everything! Stop by A Differentiated Kindergarten for your chance to win the Bundle of Books

    win a copy of TpT's best-selling Bundle of Books

    PS- have you heard that a new bundle of Interactive Sight Word Readers is in the works? 
    It's true! Read all the details so you will be prepared to get it at a great price! 


    0 0

    Every once in a while a company reaches out to me to host a giveaway and I have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming. This is one of those moments! I have such a fabulous giveaway for you today, courtesy of Ellison Education. In true Kinder-Craze style, I have some ADORABLE project inspiration for you as well. More on that later. First, let me tell you about the amazing AllStar SuperStar Machine!

    Ooops! I already got a tiny bit ahead of myself. Allow me to back up a bit. You are probably already familiar with Ellison Education. They are a standard name in schools across the country because of the die-cutting machines they manufacture. Teachers would be lost without all of those adorable cutouts of animals, flowers, and alphabets and snowflakes we use all year long. They instantly make any paper craft a breeze. We have two Ellison cutters at my school and dozens of dies, which are used every single day in my building. 

    The Ellison AllStar SuperStar Cutting Machine

    I thought I knew everything there was to know about Ellison dies and cutters, but I was WRONG. I had no idea about their secret little UBER-amazing personal cutter: the AllStar SuperStar cutting machine. What makes this machine so amazing? Well, it's lightweight (yes, I said lightweight), portable, durable, and the perfect size for your home office or classroom. Did I mention that it's lightweight??!

    Ellison AllStar SuperStar Machine GIVEAWAY
    Ellison AllStar SuperStar Machine GIVEAWAY

    The AllStar SuperStar Machine is compatible with AllStar dies. I selected a set of Skeleton Part set of 3 dies for my project. 

    Ellison AllStar cutting dies

    The dies themselves are not very tall. They are fed though the machine foam-side-up and sandwiched between two clear acrylic sheets. 
    Ellison AllStar SuperStar Machine GIVEAWAY

    The die-cut sandwich (as I call it) is placed on the machine and a few turns of the hand crank draws the die through the cutter. 
    Ellison AllStar SuperStar Machine GIVEAWAY
    Ellison AllStar SuperStar Machine GIVEAWAY
    Ellison AllStar SuperStar Machine GIVEAWAY

    When the die emerges from the back, you can see that it has cut a distinct shape into the paper. This is the ribcage for my skeleton project.

    This isn't exactly a feature of the machine that they advertise, but I thought it was really cool that the cutter left an impression in the sheet of acrylic as well.
    Ellison AllStar die cut machine information
    After several cuts, the plastic looked like this. 
    Ellison AllStar SuperStar die cut machine information
    Ellison AllStar cutting die

    Ellison DieCut X-Ray Craftivity Fun

    Once I had cut enough materials, I was ready to begin my project. 
    Just to clarify: this was NOT a scary skeleton project. 
    It was an ALPHABET project.
    A letter Xx project.
    Actually, it was an X-RAY project. 

    Two of my favorite little friends came to visit me and help me out with this project. One is in Kindergarten, the other girl is a First Grader so we did two variations of this activity to double your inspiration and see how it could work for multiple grade levels.  

    I began by assembling the skeleton parts as a model for my kindergarten helper. The arm and leg bones can be a bit confusing so I showed her exactly how they went together. 
    X-ray skeleton project for preschool or kindergarten

    Once a model was created, my kindergarten helper was ready to create! She glued each skeleton piece onto a 12x18" sheet of black construction paper.
    kindergarten x-ray skeleton project
    kindergarten x-ray skeleton project
    kindergarten x-ray skeleton project
    We gave the skeleton a heart to add a little pop of color. 
    cute kindergarten x-ray skeleton craft

    This was a fun way to reinforce the sound of Xx and is a perfect, inexpensive project for a preschool or kindergarten classroom.

    Realistic X-Ray Craft

     To extend the skeleton craft, I used the same skeleton die cuts to create authentic looking x-rays with clear contact paper. (If you're new to the world of Kinder-Craze, you should know that I am obsessed with clear contact paper and I use it ALL the time for craft projects).

    To complete this project, I cut a sheet of contact paper that was approximately 9x18" long, peeled the glossy paper, and placed it sticky-side-up on the table. 

    My first grade friend assembled the skeleton directly onto the contact paper (no glue required!) 
    cute kindergarten x-ray skeleton craft
    cute kindergarten x-ray skeleton craft

    The bones alone would be enough to complete the project but I wanted it to be used as a literacy extension activity. We got a little silly and used our x-ray in conjunction with the book There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. In this case, we decided to connect it with the moment she swallowed a dog (you know… to catch the cat). I used my school equipment to cut a black dog silhouette, which we added to the stomach of the skeleton. 
    cute authentic-looking kindergarten x-ray craft
    I printed a line of text front the story and my helper cut the words out. 
    cute x-ray craft for There Was an Old Lady book extension
    This was added to the sticky bottom of our x-ray craft.
    cute x-ray craft for There Was an Old Lady book extension

    A fresh sheet of contact paper was placed sticky-side-down onto the project to seal all of the pieces and keep the sticky stuff contained. 
    cute x-ray craft for There Was an Old Lady book extension
    Then we held the x-ray up to the window to examine the evidence. 
    cute authentic-looking kindergarten x-ray craft
    Looks like she swallowed a dog!

    realistic transparent x-ray craft

    My Ellison All Star Super Star cutting machine and Skeleton Parts dies made these classroom projects a breeze!
    cute x-ray skeleton craft project ideas

    The Giveaway

    Now that you know all about the AllStar SuperStar, are you ready for the giveaway? Ellison Education is generously giving one lucky Kinder-Craze winner an AllStar SuperStar cutting machine and a few AllStar dies to get you started. This is a prize package valued over $200! Use the Rafflecopter below for your chance to enter. The giveaway will run now thru Sunday, January 19 at 10:00pm ET.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    0 0

    It's here! It's finally here!  I am so THRILLED to announce that my new bundle of Interactive Sight Word Readers, the Bundle of Books, Part 2 has been added to my TpT store.
    That's right!

    A brand new bundle means that the price is incredibly low (currently only $16) and includes 32 of my newest Interactive Sight Word Readers.

    Interactive Sight Word Readers Bundle of Books, Part 2
    Just like the original Bundle of Books, new readers will be added to the bundle over time. Each time books are added, the price will gradually rise, but customers that purchase the bundle early will get all new additions to the set FREE of charge! To access the new titles, just log in to TpT, go to "my purchases"on your dashboard and click the download button beside the cover image.

    If you aren't already familiar with Interactive Sight Word Readers, you are missing out! First Grade and Kindergarten teachers across the country are raving about these little books. My friends Caitlin from Kindergarten Smiles and Marsha from A Differentiated Kindergarten were are so excited about the books, they recently blogged about them and gave away copies of my original Bundle of Books.
    adorable emergent readers for kindergarten or first grade
    EVERYONE loves Interactive Sight Word Readers!
    adorable emergent readers for kindergarten or first grade

    About the Bundle of Books, Part 2

    The Bundle of Books, Part 2 currently contains 32 Interactive Sight Word Readers. In a recent blog post, I invited fans to share their opinions about the original Bundle of Books and make suggestions for what they would like to see in future books. I read each response carefully and am happy to report that MANY of your suggestions are already in-effect.

    The Bundle of Books, Part 2 features:
    Color Words
    Number Words
    ALL-NEW sight words
    More non-seasonal books
    More words from the First Grade Dolch List
    More Integration of Math, Science, and Social Studies themes

    With more books on the way, you can be sure to that additional number words books, as well as a book for sight word "purple" are coming soon. Additional seasonal titles are on the way too! I am SO excited about this new bundle. Click on any of the product covers to buy the books individually, or save big and invest in the Bundle of Books, Part 2.

    emergent reader for sight word "ALWAYS"  emergent reader for sight word "BEST"  emergent reader for sight word "BLACK" 
    emergent reader for sight word "COLD" emergent reader for sight word "FIND" emergent reader for sight word "FIVE"
    emergent reader for sight word "BY" emergent reader for sight word "FLY" emergent reader for sight word "FROM"
    emergent reader for sight word "GOING" emergent reader for sight word "GOOD"

    emergent reader for sight word "HER"
    emergent reader for sight word "HIM" emergent reader for sight word "LONG" emergent reader for sight word "MAKE"
    emergent reader for sight word "NOT" emergent reader for sight word "OLD" emergent reader for sight word "PUT"
    emergent reader for sight word "ROUND" emergent reader for sight word "STOP" emergent reader for sight word "TAKE"
    emergent reader for sight word "THESE" emergent reader for sight word "THEIR" emergent reader for sight word "TOO"
    emergent reader for sight word "TWO" emergent reader for sight word "USE" emergent reader for sight word "WALK"
    emergent reader for sight word "WASH" emergent reader for sight word "WISH" emergent reader for sight word "WORK"

    emergent reader for sight word "YES"

    A Freebie For Catholic and Christian Teachers

    I also have a little freebie to share with my friends who teach in Catholic and Christian schools! The Bundle of Books, Part 2 includes a secular Interactive Sight Word Reader for teaching the five senses. This week my students learned about how God gave us five senses to discover his creation. I love integrating Religion instruction across the curriculum, so I created a religious version of this reader for my class. I also uploaded the book my TpT store and am giving it away as a FREEBIE. Want to take a peek?


    Download "God Gave Us Five Senses" Interactive Sight Word Reader for FREE from TpT. Don't forget to leave feedback after you download the book. I love hearing what you think!



    I am always looking for great theme and sight word combos to create for future Interactive Sight Word Readers. What should I add to the Bundle next?

older | 1 | (Page 2) | 3 | 4 | .... | 12 | newer