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A Kindergarten Teaching Blog

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    Tomorrow we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr's birthday and I have the PERFECT supplement to your lesson plans for the week. Dozens of fans have been asking me to create an Interactive Sight Word Reader with a theme to fit Dr. King's birthday. I am so happy to tell you that I created one just in time for the holiday and that you can download it for FREE, exclusively on Educents

    FREE emergent reader for MLK day

    Grab Amazing Deals on Educents

    While you're grabbing your freebie, you might want to check out some of this week's deals of Educents. They offer AMAZING educational products at a huge discount. But you have to act fast because the deals only last one week. I just noticed a HUGE Preschool bundle. The entire bundle includes nearly 1,000 pages of classroom resources for a bargain price of $29.99 (that's a savings of 71%). 
    HUGE preschool bundle at a savings of 71%

    As if the Educents deals weren't enough of a bargain, you can save an EXTRA 20% when you use my exclusive discount code KinderCraze20 at checkout!
    use discount code "KinderCraze20" to save 20% on all Educents purchases

    Interactive Sight Word Readers Bundled Sets 

    If you download your free copy of "What Would Martin Luther King Say?" and you want access to more Interactive Sight Word Readers, buy the bundles. Two different bundles are available for purchase in my store on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

    The original Bundle of Books has 100 Interactive Sight Word Readers at a savings of 50%.
    Best Selling Bundle of Books on TpT

    The Bundle of Books, Part 2 is also available for purchase. It currently contains 33 books at a price of $16. The bundle will grow over time and as it grows, the price will go up! 
    Make sure you buy early for the best value. 
    Best Selling Bundle of Books, Part 2 ….AMAZING VALUE

    Happy Sunday, everyone! 

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    As my class prepares for the 100th day of school, we are working on number writing and recognition. Everyone is FINALLY over the hump of those pesky numbers in the teens and twenties. I swear, the numbers in the teens are the hardest numbers to learn in the whole series up to 100. They're called numbers in the teens, but eleven and twelve don't even have the word "teen" in them. And then there's thirteen and fifteen (not three-teen and five-teen which would just be so much more logical!)

    Needless to say, I have pulled a few tricks out of my hat to help my each and every one of my students  master these tricky numbers. We have been counting, writing, finding, arranging, and singing every day in my classroom as we work toward mastery.

    First on the list… number mazes! My students use bingo dotters to create a counting path on the paper. This particular number maze counts from 1 to 20

    number mazes to help students recognize numbers in sequence

    You can purchase Number Mazes in my TpT store. The set includes DIFFERENTIATED mazes that count up every decade to 120. 
    number mazes to help students recognize numbers in sequence
    My students LOVE working on their number mazes.
    great ideas for helping students learn their numbers up to 100

    Counting and identifying the correct numerals up to 30 is only half of the battle. Writing these numbers is equally important. Once the class finishes their number maze for the day, everyone practices writing their numerals. This is a page from my Count & Write to 120 pack on TpT (before my big revision and update). 
    great resources for helping students learn their numbers up to 100

    The complete Count & Write to 120 set is also differentiated. Three separate writing pages are included for each decade to meet the diverse needs of my kinders. 
    differentiated number writing pages for kindergarten and grade 1

     I also believe that independent exploration is an important facet of each student's development so I made a simple interactive number line on my classroom whiteboard. The line itself is just created with painters tape (because it will peel off easily when we are finished with the number line.) I laminated number squares, cut them apart, and added a magnet to the back of each piece so students could manipulate and rearrange the numbers as they work to learn their numerals. This instantly became such a popular area of the classroom!
    FREE download to create this cute interactive number line for your classroom
    FREE download to create this cute interactive number line for your classroom
    I love how each child has his/her own way of exploring content. This little guy used the number line to count by twos on his own. This is not a skill we have discussed in class yet. 
    FREE download to create this cute interactive number line for your classroom

    You can download the pieces to assemble this brightly colored interactive number line for your own classroom. It's a FREEBIE in my TpT store. 
    FREE download to create an interactive number line for your classroom

    While we learned our numbers up to thirty, we watched two wonderful Harry Kindergarten videos on YouTube: Numbers in the Twenties and Numbers in the Teens. The music is catchy, repetitive, and it helped my students learn their numbers! Best of all, my students were so busy having fun  they didn't even realize they were learning. 

    great ideas for teaching numbers in kindergarten

    You definitely want to pin both of these videos for future reference. 

    Now that my students have mastered their numbers up to 30, we are busy getting ready for the 100th day of school. I'll be back soon with an update on our progress!

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    With the cold, blustery weather in full-force this winter, I decided to bring some seasonal coziness into my classroom decor. Last week we made stained glass mittens to adorn the windows of my kindergarten classroom. By now you probably know of my great love affair with stained glass-style window decorations. This one is definitely my new favorite. I know I said that the last time, but now I REALLY mean it. 

    Tutorial for ADORABLE mitten window decorations
    For this project, each child made a pair of matching mittens. The partner mittens are displayed next to each other in my window. They look adorable in my bright kindergarten classroom  and are the perfect compliment to the Rainbow Chalkboard theme from Melanie at Schoolgirl Style
    tutorial for making cute "stained glass" mitten decorations

    Prepping the project was easy!  I selected a few different shades of tissue paper in five color schemes (pink, blue, green, orange, purple) and cut the tissue paper into 1" squares. These were separated into 5 different containers according to their color. Each child also needed two mitten frames. (You can download a free template for the mittens on TpT. Just print, trace onto black construction paper and cut out along with one 9x1/2" strip of black construction paper for each pair of mittens.)  This project also requires two sheets of 12"x18 sheets of clear contact paper per child.

    (Side-note: If you don't already know, I love clear contact paper. I use it for everything. I go through SEVERAL rolls of it each year and if you don't already have contact paper in your classroom, I highly recommend you go on Amazon right now and purchase a few rolls. You can thank me later.)

    It is easiest to set this project up while students are away from their desks. I usually prepare for the activity while my class is at a special or playing with toys on the floor. Begin by peeling the sheets of contact paper and placing one sheet sticky-side-up on each child's desk. Next, place two frames side by side on top of the sticky paper. Cut or tear the 1/2" strips of construction paper to create cuffs on the mitten. That's it!

    Students then lay the pieces of tissue paper into the mittens to fill the "stained glass window." Most students can complete this entire project within 15 minutes.
    simple and adorable "stained glass" mitten craft

    This particular window decoration was unusual because each child used a specific color of tissue paper.  I set up a separate station for each color around the classroom to easily manage the supplies. 
    simple and adorable "stained glass" mitten craft
    simple and adorable "stained glass" mitten craft for kindergarten
    simple and adorable "stained glass" mitten craft for kindergarten
    make "stained glass" window decorations with tissue paper
    make "stained glass" window decorations with tissue paper
    make "stained glass" window decorations with tissue paper

    Once the mittens were filled with tissue paper, I placed a second sheet of contact paper sticky-side-down on top of the project to seal all of the tissue paper inside. To complete the project, each student trimmed the excess paper from their mittens. 
    make "stained glass" window decorations with tissue paper

    With a little bit of scotch tape, these stained glass mittens were ready to display on my classroom windows!
    Tutorial for ADORABLE mitten window decorations

    You can download a FREE Mitten Template from my TpT store
    FREE template to make stained glass mitten decorations

    ADORABLE "stained glass" window decorations made with tissue paper

    The weather outside might be frightful, but my classroom is delightful!


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    Have you heard about Stitch Fix? If you've already tried it, I want to know ALL about your experiences. If this is the first time you are learning about Stitch Fix, get ready. You are about to be blown away by this amazing online service. 

    stitch fix box

    Before I fill you in on Stitch Fix, let me give you a little extra information about me and my feelings toward shopping. I have a love/hate relationship with this task. I LOVE new stuff, but I HATE the actual act of shopping. It kills me to spend time in stores because the whole time I think about all of the other things I could be accomplishing if I were not busy running errands. Amazon has been such a game-changer for me because I can order so many basic items for my apartment or classroom with one click. 

    Unfortunately, I am super-fussy about my clothing choices so I almost never go online shopping for clothes. Most of the clothes I try on in the store are promptly returned to the rack, never mind the items I blindly attempt to purchase online. 

    The problem with this is that I really love new clothes and I want more nice things to wear.
     I really, really want them. 
    It's quite the dilemma: hating shopping but loving it when I have new clothes in my closet. 

    Until now. 
    Because I have finally discovered Stitch Fix

    stitch fix logo

    What is Stitch Fix?

    Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service that hand picks a selection of clothing items to ship to its clients. When you create an account, you complete a style profile (which you can update at any time). You provide Stitch Fix with information regarding your height, measurements, and the parts of your body you love to flaunt (or hide.) A particularly fun part of the process is rating several photo collages of outfits during the survey and providing your opinion of each ensemble. It all helps the team of personal stylists learn more about your clothing preferences and comfort levels. 

    I recently received my first fix in the mail and I was dying to see what lay inside the box. I'm certain that by now, you are curious as well. Time for another Kinder-Craze unboxing. Here we go!

    stitch fix box
    sealed stitch fix box

    When I first opened my fix, a flap from the lid reminded me of how the process works. I was encouraged to try on each hand-selected piece of clothing with my own shoes and accessories to discover the pieces that work best for me. 
    opened stitch fix box

    This Fix had me at "hello".

    This was the first item I saw when I unwrapped my fix. A stuffing navy blue garnet tied with a bow. I didn't know what it was, but I am obsessed with pretty bows. 

    I unfolded this gorgeous blue frock and discovered it was a wrap dress. 
    navy dress in stitch fix box

    My second garnet was a pretty gray sweater with a cream neckline and sleeves. 
    gray sweater in stitch fix box
    gray sweater in Stitch Fix box

    Next up was a red Aztec-print blouse.
    red blouse in stitch fix box

    My fix also included a white cami, skinny jeans, and a black cardigan. 

    A personalized note about the items in my fix was gently tucked inside the box.
     It also included several cards with style suggestions. 
    stitch fix personalized card
    Stitch Fix personalized fix
    stitch fix outfits with styling card
    Stitch Fix styling suggestions

    How Much Does Stitch Fix Cost?

    I was dying to know so many details about the cost (as I'm sure you are too) and I am happy to answer all of those questions for you! Each time you receive a fix in the mail, you are charged a $20 styling fee. If you choose to return your entire fix, the service will only cost you $20. As a busy woman with NO time to shop, I will happily pay the Stitch Fix team to pre-select clothing based on my sizes and personal style. 

    Shipping is free! The $20 fee covers the shipping charge for your fix and includes a pre-addressed shipping envelope. Returns are free too. LOVE.

    The price of the actual garments in your fix varies a bit. When you complete a style profile, you will answer questions about how much you typically spend on items like jeans, dresses, pants, and sweaters. The Stitch Fix team tries hard to only ship items that are within your spending limit. As you can see, my entire fix was valued at $225.

    You are only charged for the items you choose to keep. 

    There are 2 really great twists that they offer when you purchase any of the items included in your fix. 

    1) Your $20 styling fee is automatically deducted from the price of any garments you choose to keep. If I chose to purchase the gorgeous navy wrap dress (priced at $68) my $20 styling fee would be deducted from the price and I would only be charged $48 for the dress. 

    2) If you choose to purchase all five items, you save 25% on EVERYTHING in your fix. 

    What did I decide to keep?

    Curious about what I thought about my first fix?
    I loved it. 
    I thought each piece of clothing was interesting and within my realm of style.
    (The red Aztec blouse was a stretch, but I'm willing to experiment with fun prints.) 


    Despite the best efforts of my stylist, I reluctantly returned all of the items in my fix. It really has more to do with me being fussy about how clothes look on my body than any poor choices on their part. Here is my Stitch Fix list along with my reasons for the return.

    1) skinny jeans - a tiny bit too big on me
    2) gray and cream sweater - wasn't flattering on my body
    3) red Aztec print blouse - a bit too experimental for my taste
    4) black cardigan - too big (I loved it though!)
    5) wrap dress - fit around the waist but was too big on top
    (I was so sad to return such an amazing dress!)

    Would I use Stitch Fix again?

    Absolutely! The experience was a huge time-saver for me and spared me the task of bearing the cold and actually going out to shop. Plus, it was fun to see the surprises that were included in my fix. My personal stylist will take the feedback I provided in a survey that followed my fix and apply that input toward my next fix. With time, I'm sure fixes that are a better fit will begin to arrive in the mail. I already have my next fix scheduled for February and I can't wait!

    stitch fix confirmation

    Try Stitch Fix for Yourself

    Want to try Stitch Fix for yourself? Sign up, complete a style profile today, and schedule your first fix. If you use my referral link to sign up (included throughout this post) I receive a credit when your first fix is shipped. 

    As an extra-special treat, I am also giving away a $20 Stitch Fix gift card so one lucky fan can try the service for herself. 
    enter to WIN a $20 Stitch Fix gift card from Kinder-Craze

    Use the Rafflecopter below for your chance to enter. This giveaway is open to US residents only. 

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    sealed Stitch Fix box

    Should I blog about my next Fix when it arrives? 
    I would love to hear what you think. 

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  • 02/01/14--14:00: Get Ready for SUPER Savings
  • Huddle up, everyone! I have some great news for you. In honor of the big game, my friends at Freebielicious and I are throwing a SUPER SALE over at Teachers Pay Teachers

    TpT SUPER SALE from Freebielicious

    For one day only, you can score a touchdown and save Save 20% on my entire TpT store. The fun starts at midnight tonight and it is sure to be a blitz. No need to worry about a false start… hop over to my TpT store right now and start filling up your cart for an easy checkout during the sale.

    The Playbook

    Need some shopping inspiration? Check out my playbook.

    The Bundle of Books Part 2 is the newest MEGA item listed in my store. It has been the #3 selling product on TpT for 2 weeks straight! Why is it so popular? This set of 40 Interactive Sight Word Reader is regular-priced at a savings of 50% and I keep adding updates! Each time I update the book, the price goes up for future customers, but fans who buy the bundle early get the updates for free. Purchase the Bundle of Books Part 2 during the Super Sale for extra savings!

    Interactive Sight Word Readers Bundle of Books, Part 2 from Maria Manore

    The Bundle of Books Part 2 was just updated this weekend. Previous customers received these books for FREE. All they had to do was go back to TpT and download a new copy from "my purchases." Check out what was included in the latest update!
    Interactive Sight Word Readers Bundle of Books, Part 2 from Maria Manore

    Of course, if you want a SUPER pack at SUPER savings, the original Bundle of Books is the way to go! This set of 100 Interactive Sight Word Readers is one of my all-time best selling products because it has 100 readers at an amazing value. With the Bundle of Books, there is no need to wait for updates. All of the books are ready and at your fingertips for immediate classroom use. Regularly priced at a savings of 50%, you can save an EXTRA 20% on the Bundle of Books during the Super Sale
    Interactive Sight Word Readers Bundle of Books from Kinder-Craze

    Big Savings for the 100th Day of School

    The 100th Day of School is right around the corner for many teachers. My playbook has several items that help students count, write, see, and understand numbers and quantities up to 100 and beyond.

    Count & Write to 120 does just what the title says! It gets students counting and writing their numbers from 1 to 100 one decade at at time. Early on, students simply write their numbers from 1 to 10. Next, they write numbers from 1 to 20, followed by numbers from 1-30, etc. By the end of the pack, students will be counting and recording all of their numbers from 1 to 120. This set is differentiated to provide 3 levels of support for students as they work to write their numbers. 

    Differentiated Count & Write to 120
    Click to purchase Differentiated Count and Write to 120 from my TpT Store.
    Differentiated Count & Write to 120 … great for the 100th Day of School

    Number Mazes are a fun way to foster number recognition for numbers 0 to 120. Students can use a crayon or bingo dotter as they follow a hidden counting path on their paper. Students start simple by finding their way from 1-20. The next maze requires students to find a path from 1-30, then 1-40, etc. This set is also differentiated to provide two different levels of support. 
    Differentiated Number Maze pages
    Click to purchase Number Mazes from 20 to 120 from my TpT Store.
    Differentiated Number Maze pages

    There's also an Interactive Sight Word Reader for the 100th Day. When I am 100 provides practice for reading and spelling sight word "when". Students cut out, unscramble, and glue letters to correctly spell "when" on each page of the book, then color the adorable images inside. When complete, all students have a book that is easy to read and the perfect addition to their personal book boxes. 
    Interactive Sight Word Reader for the 100th Day of School
    You can purchase When I am 100 for $1 in my TpT store.
     It is also included in the original Bundle of Books
    Interactive Sight Word Reader for the 100th Day of School

    What celebration in the early grades is complete without a cute hat? My 100th Day of School Hat is perfect because it has 100 dots for students to color (or fill with stickers) to instill a sense of 100 as a quantity. Plus, a great way to keep the little ones busy on a crazy day of school and the finished product is so stinkin' cute. 
    100th Day of School Hat… so cute!
    100th Day of School Hat… so cute!

    Rush to the End Zone

    With so many great deals, you definitely want to rush to my TpT store. Act fast because the fun only lasts one day and ,unlike the big game, this sale won't go into overtime!

    TpT SUPER SALE from Freebielicious


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    I love incorporating technology into my instruction, but a little piece of me has always cringed to see the chaos of technology carts, cords, and a jumble of devices. My latest project has been to tackle the technology in my kindergarten classroom. I successfully found a way to put all of those devices at my fingertips for successful instruction in a way that naturally fits into my classroom learning environment

    Behold the Teacher's Technology Station! 
    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom

    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom

    Classroom Technology: Before

    Initially, my classroom technology was kept on a portable cart. I shared an Elmo and projector with several teachers. I'm sure you have a cart just like it in your classroom. It is actually a nice quality cart and I was one of the lucky teachers with a newer model but I could not bear to look at this bulky thing that was bursting with cords in my beautiful kindergarten classroom

    The cart only resided in my classroom when I needed it for instruction. The moment I finished with the desired video, Prezi, or lesson using my Elmo; it was promptly returned to a neighboring teacher. This is one of the ONLY photos I have of the cart in my classroom. As you can see, it certainly is the eyesore of my classroom.

    classroom technology setup ideas. This is the before. You should SEE the after pics!

    The Teacher Technology Station

    I could not be more thrilled with my new and improved Teacher Technology Station! I now have my own projector and Elmo. Since my equipment no longer travels from classroom-to-classroom, I wanted a more permanent piece of furniture for the room as well. I found a double desk that matched my students desks in storage and repurposed it for this task. It is the perfect size for holding al of my equipment and leaves plenty of space for my laptop or any additional materials that I need during instruction. 

    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom
    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom
    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom

    I adjusted the height of my Teacher Technology Station so it sits a few inches above my student desks. (Yes, those are student desks pushed up to it.) 
    The height adjustment is perfect for 2 reasons:

    1) It provides a just enough space to neatly manage cords from all of the devices.

    2) The added height provides a clear boundary between student and teacher property.
     My most curious kiddo currently sits facing the station and he has never touched it. 

    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom
    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom

    I especially love how the Teacher Technology Station blends perfectly into my classroom environment.  Effective technology use should be a seamless component of instruction and this station helps me to accomplish that objective.
    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom
    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom

    The Next Phase

    Like any true perfectionist, I am always striving toward improvement. One feature of my existing technology station is the use of a wireless speaker. I used a few of my Target gift cards from Christmas to purchase a small iHome alarm clock with Bluetooth. It's perfect for showing YouTube clips at school without the hassle of dealing with extra cords. 

    I recently brought my old iPhone 4 (now a glorified iPod) to school, deleted all of the unnecessary apps, and I intend to transfer music from my classroom CDs onto the iPhone. This will allow me to wirelessly play music without the hassle of changing discs and finding the correct numbered track. 

    I can't wait to say goodbye to my old CD player and huge basket of compact disks!
    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom
    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom

    I am absolutely in love with my Teacher's Technology Station and it is motivating me to incorporate additional technology into my classroom instruction.

    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom
    how to create an attractive Teacher's Technology Station in the classroom

    Bright Ideas Blog Hop

    So many of my favorite teacher-bloggers are sharing bright ideas from their own classroom today in a huge blog hop. You won't find any product promotions today, just an abundance of inspiration for classroom instruction. Hop along to visit Lauren at One Bright Classroom (how fitting!) to discover her bright idea for a year's supply of classroom supplies! and discover even more bright ideas!


    Bright Ideas Link-Up

    No time to hop? Here's a quick list of all of the great ideas being shared today. If you don't have time to hop but want to find some specific bright ideas, you can skip to any spot in the hop!



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    Don't you just love TpT? This online teaching marketplace for has been such a blessing to educators across the US and beyond! My friends at Freebielicious are always talking about how much we love Teachers Pay Teachers and we decided to share some of our love with you… just in time for Valentine's Day!
    I personally love TpT because it is filled with amazing classroom resources for every season, unit, and holiday imaginable… even basic essentials like labels and classroom decor! I create and sell many of my own resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, but I don't have time to exclusively create my own materials. That's what's great about TpT. If I don't have time to make it myself, I know there are an abundance of stellar products created by other teachers with standards as high as my own. 

    Amazing Classroom Resources

    One perfect example of a classroom resource I use from TpT is the line of Reader's Theater plays from Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher. These little 2-person plays are adorable and so motivating for my kindergarten students. They are on my list of of all-time favorite finds on TpT. 

    I used Kristin's suggestions for gluing the plays onto matching file folders. The outside of the folder displays the title and each character in the play.


    The opened folder reveals the script. Each child's part in the play is highlighted to help students easily decipher when it is his or her turn to read. 

    This particular play is a special Valentine's Day freebie that Kristen is offering on Teachers Pay Teachers. Stop by and download a copy for your own classroom.

    Thats another reason I love TpT… the freebies!


    Teachers Pay Teachers Giveaway 

    Now that you know a little about why I love Teachers Pay Teachers, its time to share a little of the fun with YOU! All of my Freebielicious friends are giving away a $10 gift certificate to TpT so our fans can have a little shopping spree in our favorite online store. You'll also want to stop by the Freeblielicous blog for your chance to win a $25 or $50 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers!


    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    It's a Giveaway Hop

    Now that you have entered for your chance to win a prize from Kinder-Craze, you definitely want to hop along for more chances to win. This is a giveaway hop with 28 stops along the way. That means you will have 28 chances to win! Now head over to Fun in First to see why my friend Jodi loves TpT.

    Photobucket

    Stop by Freebielicious

    Don't forget to stop by the Freebielicious blog for a bonus chance to win a Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate for $50 or $25!



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    Last week our parent association treated all K-8 students in my school to hands-on science exploration from the COSI Center of Science of Industry. The science center is located in Columbus, Ohio and they provide traveling "COSI on Wheels" presentations that visit schools in the region. My school is located in the Detroit area (over 3 hours away from Columbus) but it wasn't too far for the COSI truck to travel. 

    Thank goodness, because this was hands-down, the BEST educational presentation that has ever come to my school and I am so excited to share a little of our day with you!
    hands-on science with COSI
    Disclosure: COSI did not contact me or ask me to share any of this information with you. 
    I am not being compensated in any way for this blog post. I simply observed their program at my school and I think the traveling science presentation is so outstanding that it deserves some special attention.

    An Engaging Experience for All K-8 Students

    As fellow educators, I'm sure you can relate to the feeling of uneasiness when I heard my kindergarten students would attend a school-wide assembly. With school assemblies, you just never know what you are going to get. Some are great. Others… not so much. The K-8 ones always make me particularly nervous because it is SO difficult to have a captive audience when their ages range from 5 to 14. I often find myself thinking of all the precious reading and math instructional time I am missing while we are at the assembly.

    Now, imagine my surprise when I walked into the school gym to discover props, science instruments and a flat-screen TV set up for the morning's presentation. WOW. 

    COSI on Wheels science assembly

    I especially loved that every student in the audience was given a colorful pair of plastic safety goggles for the program. They instantly assumed the role of scientists with this special gear. 
    amazing science assembly for students in the Ohio area

    COSI on Wheels offers a variety of themes for their traveling presentations. We were treated to the "It's Simply Chemistry" presentation. The assembly and hands-on exploration covered Physical Science standards relating to properties of everyday objects, motion, matter, forms of energy, heat and electricity. 
    COSI on Wheels Chemistry science assembly

    Amazingly, this assembly was s a one-woman operation. As the only COSI staff member at school that day, she oversaw the troop of parent volunteers that were assembled for the event, led the presentation, and provided instructions for students during their hands-on exploration time. 
    traveling science assembly from COSI in Columbus, Ohio
    amazing school science assembly

    Not only did this young woman lead a captive audience of 300+ students, she also drove the COSI on Wheels truck carrying all of the equipment for the day. Seriously, I am in awe.

    COSI on wheels truck

    Once the school-wide assembly was complete, students turned in their safety goggles and returned to their classrooms. This did not mean that the fun was over! Quite the opposite in fact. The presenter and troop of parent volunteers prepared for the hands-on portion of the day. For the remainder of the day, groups of students were invited back into the gym in 45 minute time blocks to discover chemistry with hands-on explorations.  Stations with 2-3 parent volunteers were set up along the perimeter of the gym.  My group consisted of approximately 60 kindergarten and first grade students. 

    Amazing school science assembly

    The presenter briefly spoke with the group and told the kids that they should travel to all of the tables to try each experiment. She also informed them that the big table in the back of the gym was the slime station and they needed to take time to visit the slime table before we left the gym. She chose approximately 8 students to make slime first and that was all the all the guidance they children were given. 

    That was ALL. 
    Students were not placed into groups. 
    A rotation system was not set up. 
    I was NERVOUS.
    I like structure and boundaries and (yes, I'll admit it) control. 

    Here we were in a open gym. 
    With tons of things to touch. 
    And a table to make their own slime. 

    To me, it was a recipe for chaos. 

    But guess what. 

    It wasn't chaotic. At all. Not even a little. 

    Those kids were treated like grown up scientists and given instructions and they peacefully moved from one table to the next. They went in any order they wanted. Nobody fought or whined or pouted about when they would make slime. They simply explored. And when someone reminded them to take a break and go make some slime, they happily wen to the slime table. 

    I'm telling you, it was AMAZING. 
    If I didn't see it with my own two eyes, I wouldn't believe it.
    But you should believe me. 
    Because I saw it with my own two eyes. 
    Amazing school science assembly from COSI
    Who wouldn't be engaged by these activities?
    hands-on school science from COSI hands-on school science from COSI
    hands-on school science from COSI
    hands-on school science from COSI 
    hands-on school science from COSI
    hands-on school science from COSI   

    Making Slime!

    All of the stations were so much fun for the students, but the slime table was definitely the main event. What child doesn't love slime? A team of parent volunteers supervised the process and helped each child to create their own slime.
    hands-on school science from COSI
    hands-on school science from COSI

    Each student measured, poured, and mixed their way into creating their own personal gob of slime.
    hands-on school science from COSI
    hands-on school science from COSI
    making slime at school with COSI 

    This was a day that my students and I will treasure and remember for a very long time!
    hands-on science with COSI

    Check out COSI for Yourself

    cosi logoWant to learn more about the COSI Center of Science and Industry? Stop by their website to learn more about their amazing museum and services for educators. It's not just for kids or teachers. I recently learned that they are currently running a huge Sherlock Holmes exhibit. I am a mega fan of the Sherlock series on Masterpiece Classic and I'm already planning a trip to Columbus so I can indulge my inner-nerd. 



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    Need some quick and easy resources for teaching about the presidents in your kindergarten or first grade classroom? Look no further! I have some great products and FREEBIES to give your lesson plans a fun (and educational) boost!

    First off, you do not want to miss out on a presidential Interactive Sight Word Reader. You can download "This is Abraham Lincoln" for FREE on Educents. Grab this one fast because it is only available for a limited time
    Perfect emergent reader for President's Day… FREE for a limited time only!
    Interactive Sight Word Readers are great for learning sight words. In this 6-page emergent reader, students cut out, unscramble, and glue letters to spell a particular sight word. "This is Abraham Lincoln"provides an opportunity for students to work on sight word "this". The completed book is a perfect emergent reader with simple, repetitive text for students to read over and over again. 

    You can also purchase "This is Abraham Lincoln" for $1 in my TpT store. 
    Interactive Sight Word Reader "He is George Washington
    is also available for $1 in my TpT store. 

    Perfect emergent reader for President's Day!


    Review color words in your classroom white teaching about our first president with my Color by Number George Washington…. available for FREE on TpT. Click the image below to grab your freebie!
    FREE color by number George Washington

    Happy President's Day!


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    Last week we celebrated the 100th day of school in my classroom, Kinder-Craze style. My students had a blast learning, counting and demonstrating their newly acquired knowledge of numbers and quantities up to 100. My camera was nearby throughout the entire event and I am so excited to share the day's highlights with all of you!

    On the 100th day, my students arrived at school dressed in style. Each child was given an at-home assignment to create a shirt decorated with 100 objects in preparation for the big day. This was a great way for the children to work creatively with their parents and express their interests. The children showed off their newly created t-shirts during our classroom fashion show. 
    100th day of school tshirts and fashion show… cute idea!

    Check out some of their great fashions for the 100th day of school!
    have students make tshirts for the 100th day of school, then hold a fashion show in the classroom
    cute tshirt ideas for the 100th day of school
    Ever since last year's blog post about the 100th day of school, I have gotten dozens of questions from readers wanting more information about these t-shirts. Specifically, fans want to know how I word the letter to my classroom parents, explaining the details of the t-shirt assignment. 

    FREE parent letter for the 100th day of school

    I always copy the 100th Day T-Shirt Letter onto brightly colored paper (so it is sure to grab the attention of my classroom parents). I also staple a 1/2 sheet of paper for the fashion show to the letter. Students work with their parents to complete the form explaining what decorations were used and why the student selected those items. Download a FREE editable template of my 100th Day of School letter to help you set up your own classroom fashion show. 
    FREE editable parent letter for the 100th day of school

    Need some ideas to inspire your students as they create their 100th Day t-shirts? 
    I've got you covered! Pin and share the image below for instant inspiration!
    tshirt ideas for the 100th day of school

    Of course, my students weren't just showing off their t-shirts on the 100th day. The kindergarteners also created hats at school that proudly proclaimed themselves to be "100 Days Smarter."
    this blog post has TONS of great ideas for the 100th day of school

    I copied the hat template onto white paper and mounted the pages onto brightly colored construction paper. The printable contains one hundred circles inside of the number 100. Students can decorate these circles with crayons, small bingo dotters, markers, or stickers. It's a great opportunity to work on fine motor skills while also helping students to understand 100 as a quantity. 
    cute hat for the 100th day of school
    cute hat for the 100th day of school

    My students looked so stinkin' cute in their completed 100th Day of School Hats. 
    this blog post has TONS of great ideas for the 100th day of school

    You can purchase 100th Day of School Hat from my TpT store.  
    cute hat for the 100th day of school

    Math wasn't the only subject covered in my lesson plans on the 100th day of school. The class also worked together to write 100 words. My students were on a mission to complete the entire list of 100 words. They got so excited, that the completed list had a few repeated words, but their enthusiasm was precious!
    write 100 words on the 100th day of school… this blog post has TONS of great ideas for the 100th day of school
    write 100 words on the 100th day of school
    write 100 words on the 100th day of school

    My students also tried to read 100 books! We didn't quite reach our goal, but our half day of school was action-packed. They worked hard and loved recording a tally mark each time a new book was read. read 100 books on the 100th day of school

    Each child in the class also write all of the numbers from 1 to 100. 
    this blog post had TONS of great ideas for the 100th day of school
    great product to help students learn to write numbers up to 100
    This was a major accomplishment that was several weeks in the making. My students gradually worked their way up to writing all of these numbers with the help of my Differentiated Count & Write to 120 pack. 

    great product to help students learn to write numbers up to 100
    You can purchase Count & Write to 120 in my TpT store. 

    The number writing pack pairs well with Differentiated Number Mazes from 20 to 120. Together, these two products help students count, recognize, and print their numbers up to 120 by focusing only one one new decade at a time. 
    great product to help students recognize numbers up to 100

    Of course, our 100th Day celebration wouldn't be complete without the task of building a tower with 100 plastic cups! I first discovered this wildly popular idea from Joyful Learning in KC. My students LOVED working together to build a structure with all those plastic cups. 
    build a tower with 100 cups on the 10th day… this blog post had TONS of great ideas for the 100th day of school
    this blog post had TONS of great ideas for the 100th day of school
    this blog post had TONS of great ideas for the 100th day of school
    this blog post had TONS of great ideas for the 100th day of school

    Our final activity for the day was an opportunity to practice skip counting and release a little pent-up energy. We played hopscotch in the classroom! 
    DIY hopscotch for the 100th day of school

    I created the hopscotch game on the back of a Twister mat.The grid was created with Scotch Expressions Masking Tape. The tape is perfect for the mat because it adheres to the vinyl surface but also lifts easily off without leaving any residue behind. 
    DIY hopscotch for the 100th day of school

    I printed and laminated multiples of 10 from 0 to 100 and used the same masking tape to attach the numbers to the mat. I like this temporary option because it allows me to easily change the spaces on the mat as we learn new skills in class (such as skip counting by 5s or 2s). 

    You can download Hop by 10s Skip Counting Numbers in my TpT store for FREE. 
    DIY hopscotch for the 100th day of school… FREE printable

    My students had an absolute blast as they hopped their way from zero to 100. 
    DIY hopscotch for the 100th day of school… FREE printable
    It was a very "hoppy" 100th Day of Kindergarten!
    this blog post has TONS of great ideas for the 100th day of school

    When is your 100th day of School? Do you celebrate in a special way? Please share your ideas in the comments… I'm already planning for next year's celebration! 


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    It's here! It's finally here! My newest fix arrived in the mail this week and I was literally counting down the days awaiting its arrival. I have become obsessed with Stitch Fix, the online personal styling service for women.  If you're not already familiar with Stitch Fix, prepare yourself. This site is amazing!
    this blogger tries Stitch Fix… online personal styling and shopping service for the busy woman

    How Does Stitch Fix Work?

    New customers begin their experience on Stitch Fix by completing an online style profile. The survey takes about 10 minutes. Simply provide information on your sense of style, sizes, spending preferences and clothing needs. It's fun, quick and easy! Once you complete your profile, you will be ready to schedule your first fix! A personal stylist hand-selects five pieces of clothing and accessories based on your preferences, then ships them direct to your door. I love this service because I don't have time to shop and I can try on all of the garments in the comfort of my home. Once your fix arrives, you have 3 days to keep the items you like and ship back the items that don't work. Returns are free as well. You will be charged a $20 styling fee each time you arrange for a fix, but if you decide to keep any of the items in your fix, the $20 fee is applied as a credit. And if you decide to keep all 5 items you get to save  25% on the entire fix. 
    stitch fix logo

    After you decide which items to keep, log in to your Stitch Fix account and complete a final survey to let the company know which items you wish to keep or return, and share any comments you have on each piece. Your stylist will use that information as they select the items for your future fixes. I loved the pieces in my previous fix (you can read all about it here) but the fit wasn't quite right even though they were all in my size. Based on my feedback, this new fix was AMAZING and I can't wait to show you what was inside. 

    Stitch Fix #2: The Big Reveal

    Ready to see what was included in my February fix? Here we go!
    Stitch Fix personal styling service

    Don't let the relatively small box fool you. It was filled with clothing treasures.
    stitch fix personal styling service for the busy woman

    Once the box was opened, the inside flap reminds customers of how the process works. 
    It's as easy as Discover, Decide, Check out! 
    stitch fix review

    An envelope is included in the box, reminding me that the items were hand-selected by my stylist. A personal note and full-color style cards with suggestions for how to wear each piece are also included with my fix. 
    stitch fix review

    Unwrapping the fix is just as much fun as opening gifts on Christmas morning.  
    stitch fix review… I love what's inside the box!

    Just like last time, all the items were beautifully folded and I was filled with suspense as I gently uncovered each new garment in the box. A chartreuse scarf from Echo looked just like a pretty bow atop the other items. 
    this blogger tries Stitch Fix… online personal styling and shopping service for the busy woman

    Unfolding the scarf revealed a gorgeous silk blouse with a bold ikat print. 
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!

    The style card for this blouse suggested pairing it with a cardigan and I liked the idea of mixing the blouse with brown accents. 
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!

    The most fun part of any Fix is mixing the new pieces with items I already own. I paired the ikat print blouse with brown boots and a tan cardigan from my closet. I love the richness of this look. 
    this blogger tries Stitch Fix… online personal styling and shopping service for the busy woman
    this blogger tries Stitch Fix… online personal styling and shopping service for the busy womanthis blogger tries Stitch Fix… online personal styling and shopping service for the busy woman 

    This was definitely my favorite piece in the collection. It was flattering and a fun print, and neutral enough that I could easily pair it with so many items. The blouse was also a beautiful stand-alone item that I could wear on warmer days. 
    this blogger tries Stitch Fix… online personal styling and shopping service for the busy woman

    Next up was a v-neck sweater with an interesting diagonal stripe. 
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!

    I stuck to the basics with this sweater and paired with black pants, boots, and a statement necklace. 
    this blogger tries Stitch Fix… online personal styling and shopping service for the busy woman
    this blogger tries Stitch Fix… online personal styling and shopping service for the busy woman

    The black pants that I am wearing in the photos also came in my fix. They too, were amazing. They were stretchy and super-comfy. Although the tag indicated that they were my usual size, the stretchy material caused them to sag a bit after a full day of wear. I'm hoping a belt will help to solve this issue. 

    The last few pieces in my fix were a teal tunic sweater, the amazing black pants, and of course, the gorgeous purple and cerulean scarf. 
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!

    The fit of the teal tunic wasn't exactly my style, but it certainly was a beautiful color. And the scarf! It was simply stunning. Unfortunately, I am a scarf addict and I have so many scarves stuffed into every available nook and cranny of my dresser and closet. I decided to use a little self-control and opt out of keeping the scarf. But it was a very tough decision to make.
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!
    Here is the complete collection of my Februrary fix. 
    Stitch Fix online styling service. I LOVE these clothes!

    Stitch Fix Giveaway

    Want to try Stitch Fix for yourself? Sign up, complete a style profile today, and schedule your first fix. If you use my referral link to sign up (included throughout this post) I receive a credit when your first fix is shipped. 

    As an extra-special treat, I am also giving away a $20 Stitch Fix gift card so one lucky fan can try the service for herself. 

    Use the Rafflecopter below for your chance to enter! 

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
    This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run until 10pm EST on Thursday, February 27. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to claim her prize. After 48 hours the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be selected. I apologize for all the rules… it makes me feel sad and awkward when fans don't claim a great prize. 

    Anxiously Awaiting

    After this month's home run, I'm already excited for my next fix. March 19 can't come soon enough!

    I wonder what treasures my third fix will contain…

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    Have you heard the news? Teachers Pay Teachers now has over 3 million registered users. To celebrate this major milestone, they're having a site-wide sale. The TpT 3 Million Teachers Strong celebration sale will run on tomorrow and Friday. My entire store is marked down 20%. PLUS, you can save an extra 10% when you use promo code TPT3 at checkout. 

    Save 28% on all Kinder-Craze products!
    My friend Lyndsey from A Year of Many "Firsts" made this adorable button. Her talent and creativity is astounding to me!


    Need some shopping inspiration? Here are a few of my best-selling products!

    Interactive Sight Word Reader Bundle of Books

    Are you a fan of Interactive Sight Word Readers? The Bundle of Books includes 100 different Interactive Sight Word Readers and has an everyday price that is a savings of 50%, but the the Bundle will be marked down by an extra 20% during the sale. Plus the extra 10% savings with a discount code. This really is an amazing bargain. Tomorrow is a great day to cash in your chips and save BIG on the Bundle of Books.
    Bundle of Books… 100 emergent readers at an amazing price!

    Bundle of Books, Part 2

    Of course, if you're looking for an AMAZING value, the Bundle of Books, Part 2 is the way to go! This set of Interactive Sight Word Readers contains 48 books (and counting) at a savings of 50%. The value is particularly noteworthy for this set because it is still growing! Each time I add new books the set, the price goes up, but customers who buy early get the updates for FREE. With a current price of $24, and extra savings of 28%, the Bundle of Books Part 2 is the best value in my entire TpT store. 

    Bundle of Books, Part 2… 48 books and counting!

    Color Word Mini-Bundle of Readers

    Of course, if you prefer to only purchase a few Interactive Sight Word Readers at a time, there are more great savings to score. Like my Color Word Mini-Bundle of Interactive Sight Word Readers. This printable features individual emergent readers for 10 different color words (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, and white). 
    set of 10 color word emergent readers

    Alphabet Tracing Cards

    Help students learn proper letter formation while they develop letter recognition with Alphabet Tracing Cards. This printable provides a great opportunity for kinesthetic learners to explore each letter of the alphabet. 

    Alphabet tracing cards

    Alphabet tracing cards

    Getting It Write Printing Practice Pages

    The Alphabet Tracing cards are a perfect supplement to my Getting it Write printing practice set. This handwriting practice set includes simple phrases as well as arrows to guide students in step-by-step letter formation. Two page sizes are provided (full and half pages) to meet your instructional needs. 
    Printing Practice Pages to develop proper letter formation


    Resources for Numbers to 100

    My math printables have also been SUPER popular items to purchase on TpT. As my students prepared for the 100th Day of School, we worked to master all of the numbers from 0 to 100. Thanks to some differentiated fun from my Count & Write to 120 and Number Mazes packs, every single one of my students has mattered their numbers up to 100.

    Differentiated Counting pages for numbers 10-120

    Differentiated Number mazes for numbers up to 120

    Subitizing Skills

    To help students master small quantities up to 10, my Numbers in an Instant set is perfect for subitizing. This packet is packed with printables for students to read, roll, count, make, glue, and write their way to recognizing quantities! 

    Numbers in an Instant Subitizing pack

    Numbers in an Instant Subitizing pack

    Save 28% on all Kinder-Craze products!

    With all of these great items for sale, why wait? 
    Go fill your cart and start saving! 



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    Last week my kindergarten students celebrated a very special event… the Wedding of Q and U! If you are not already familiar with this event, let me fill you in! It is a silly, fanciful, wonderful way to teach students the spelling pattern of "qu" in a way that is truly memorable. The wedding reinforces the idea that every time we write a word with a q in kindergarten, we always follow the q with a u. 

    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    We have celebrated the Q and U wedding for several years, but this time I pulled out all the stops and "Kinder-Crazed" the event! Keep reading to discover creative ideas, inspiration, and printable party accents available for purchase in my TpT store
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    Just like an actual wedding, our celebration consisted of two parts: a wedding ceremony and a reception. Our wedding ceremony was held in the gym, then we moved down the hall to an extra classroom in my school for the reception. I stayed at school EXTRA late the night before to set everything up. The pennant banners and printable goods are from my Q and U Wedding Party Printables pack. All of the table coverings, lanterns, and napkins are from Party City. 
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    The large Q and U figures are also available included in the printable pack. I took my image of the bride and groom to a local printing company and had them print two 24x36" posters of the image. One poster was cut apart to create props for students to hold during the wedding. The other poster was cut apart to create the large party decorations that you see on the table. 
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    I purchased black and white photo boxes and decorative ribbon at Michaels for the reception gifts. The pink ribbon was hot glued onto each photo box and lid (separately). I also printed and laminated the Q and U figures and hot glued these atop each of the boxes to add a little decorative flair. This created a coordinating set of gift boxes that can be easily opened during the reception and are durable enough to be used for several years. 
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    I'll fill you in on more of the reception details later. Let's get back to the wedding!

    Preparing for the Event

    Although the wedding is a quick event, we work hard to make it a special event for the Kindergarten students. Invitations are sent home to each students family, informing parents that they are welcome to attend. Four students are selected to have a special role in the event: one bride, one groom, and two flower girls. 

    A few days before the wedding, the class worked together to create a special "white carpet" just like in a real wedding. We unrolled a long sheet of butcher paper and each child decorated the carpet by writing Q and U with a dot marker. Here you can see the completed carpet as the kindergarten students anxiously await the wedding. 
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    Each student in the class also created a special hat for the event, which can be found in my Q and U Wedding pack on TpT. The girls' hats were made with white construction paper bands and the boys' hats used black construction paper.  I loved the traditional wedding color scheme of black and white. 
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    Q and U Wedding Ceremony

    The moment finally arrived! The bride, groom, and flower girls waited in the hallway while the other students took their seats in the gym.
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    The bride and groom each carry a large character print down the aisle. Doug from Printing by Johnson, a local print shop, met with me and helped me find the perfect paper quality and heavy laminate for the character prints. The bride and groom pictures were secured to  yardsticks covered with black and white duct tape. It was important to me that the printed characters not flap around while they were carried. The laminated prints remained tall and rigid during all of the festivities.
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    The school principal performed the wedding ceremony. It was very short and very sweet.
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    Once the ceremony was complete, the bride and groom let the wedding guests to the reception!
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    An Q and U Wedding Reception with Adorable Elegance

    Very few young children get to actually attend a wedding and I wanted this reception to seem every bit as special as the real thing. My students mouth's dropped when they saw the transformation of the formerly bland, empty room into the elegant reception hall for the wedding. 
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    A gift table was set up in the front of the room. The students gathered in front of the table and sat on the floor while they watched the bride, groom, and two flower girls open the wedding gifts. 

    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    Each child opened one box. The boxes contained items beginning with "qu"… a quarter, queen, question mark, and (or course) a quilt. If you don't have physical objects to place in the boxes, images for the gifts are included in the Q and U Wedding Printable Pack. Simply print, laminate, and wrap! 
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    A closer view of the treasures at the treasures on the gift table...
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    What's a wedding without cake? After the gifts were opened, it was time to eat! 

    As you can imagine, I don't have a lot of spare time for cake-baking. Fancy Cakes from Little Debbie were the perfect treat. Just the right size for my kindergarten students, pretty much mess-free, and (of course) they were fancy! 
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten
    Little Debbie actually has a product locator on their website. Check to see if Fancy Cakes are available at a store near you!
    Little Debbie Fancy Cakes
    The students had so much fun at their little reception and their parents enjoyed the sweetness of the experience!
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten


    Invitations, bunting, student hats and MORE can be found in my Q and U Wedding Party Printables pack. Check it out in my TpT store! 

    A huge thank you goes out to Doug at Printing by Johnson in Mt. Clemens. He was great to work with and didn't even bat an eye when I told him I needed decorations printed for a Q and U wedding. Once the posters were complete, he actually emailed me and said that "Q and U are printed, laminated, and ready to get married!" How sweet is that?
    adorable ideas for a Q and U wedding in kindergarten

    Do you throw celebrate a Q and U wedding at school? I would love to hear how you make the event special in your own classroom!


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    I have another Bright Idea to share from my kindergarten classroom! This is a simple trick I use when I review flashcards with my students so I can easily ensure that students are getting practice with the sight words that are most challenging for them. I make all of my classroom flashcards by printing sight words, addition facts, subitizing images and more on shipping labels, then sticking the labels onto index cards. Although this is a good idea, it's not my BRIGHT idea. This is what my students see when we practice flashcards. 
    how to make classroom flashcards more effective

    This is what I see.

    Make classroom flashcards more effective. Use a pencil to record the names of students struggling with the sight word or math fact on the back of the card so you know who to practice that card with

    The back of the flashcards displays the names of students who struggle with recognizing word or fact on the front of the card. If I notice a student struggling with a certain word, I use a pencil to write their name on the back. That way, when we do flashcards, I know who to call on to read the front of the card. I ALWAYS use a pencil to write student names on the back, so I can erase a name as soon as that student masters the sight word or skill on the front. 


    Looking for more bright ideas? 

    Follow the blog hop to collect dozens of bright ideas for your classroom! Stop by Danielle's blog, Crayonbox Learning, to see how she adds to her classroom library by reviewing children's books! 
    All of today's bright ideas are also listed in the linky collection below. If you don't have time to hop through everyone, visit the blog posts that best fit your classroom needs!



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    As a Catholic educator, I am always on the lookout for ways to integrate religion into other content areas of my classroom, especially into my literacy instruction. One of the biggest obstacles is finding quality children's books that are easy enough for my kindergarten students to read. That's why I am thrilled about this week's giveaway: a set of five "I Can Read" books bout the life of Christ, courtesy of Mardel!
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus

    If you're not already familiar with Mardel, you are missing out! Mardel is a chain of Christian gift and supply stores that also specializes in teaching resources. They also have a huge online store, with sections of their website dedicated to teacher supplies, homeschool, and kids

    When I received my set of five "I Can Read" books on the life of Jesus from Mardel, I was so excited to add them to my classroom prayer space. Several children immediately stopped by the table to make a selection when their work was finished. 
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus for a Christian classroom

    The scripture print of "Let the children come to me" was the perfect accent for these books. What better way to allow Christ into their hearts, than by sharing books with text on their level and engaging illustrations?
    adding Christian books to a kindergarten classroom
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom
    In addition to sharing unique and engaging stories, each book also includes different text structures and features, which I value so much as a teacher!
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom
    The story of "Jesus and his Friends" concludes with a glossary and pronunciation guide. 
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom

    The "Jesus Loves Me" book is based on the popular song. The text is simple and repetitive and the book features sheet music at the end. One of my students in piano lessons was fascinated by the sheet music. I love when they make connections!
    "Jesus Loves Me" I can read book
    "Jesus Loves Me" I can read book
    "Jesus Loves Me" I can read book
    "Jesus Loves Me" I can read book
    "Jesus Loves Me" I can read book

    These five "I Can Read" books about Jesus are perfect for my kindergarten classroom!
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom
    "I Can Read" books about Jesus in a kindergarten classroom

    Want to win a set of Christ-based "I Can Read" books for your own home or classroom? The collection includes a copy of each title:

    "I Can Read" books about Jesus
    Use the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win!
    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: Mardel sent me these five books as a gift in exchange for an honest review about the products. I am not being paid or compensated by Mardel in any way and this blog post reflects my honest opinion of the products.

    "I Can Read" books about Jesus


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    I have great news for fans of my Interactive Sight Word Readers! You can download a FREE reader for St. Patrick's Day on Educents this week. Unlike my previous readers listed on Educents, this one is SUPER-exclusive. You can't buy it on TpT or anywhere else. And once this deal is over, it will disappear forever. Follow the rainbow over to Educents to grab your newest treasure!

    FREE Interactive Sight Word Reader for St. Patrick's Day on Educents. This week only!

    Are you hooked on Interactive Sight Word Readers? 
    Save 50% when you buy them in a bundle! 

    The original Bundle of Books features 100 different Interactive Sight Word Readers at a savings of 50%. This collection includes books for every season in a wide variety of themes. Teachers are raving about this best-selling item on Teachers Pay Teachers. 
    Bundle of Books Interactive Sight Word Readers by Maria Manore… one of the best values on TpT

    Make an investment in your classroom's future with the Bundle of Books, Part 2. This growing collection of Interactive Sight Word readers is the sequel to my best-selling Bundle of Books. The set currently contains 48 Interactive Sight Word Readers at a price of $24 and it is still growing! The price will increase each time I update the collection with additional books, but customers who buy early get the updates for FREE! Purchase the Bundle of Books, Part 2 now for the best value. 
    Bundle of Books Part 2 Interactive Sight Word Readers by Maria Manore… one of the best values on TpT


    New on Educents: Educational Toys

    Did you know that Educents now also carries Educational Toys? They now have a page on the site dedicated to discounted toys. Right now they are featuring several great products from Melissa & Doug. These high-quality wooden toys are great for the little ones in your life. 

    Melissa and Doug toys on Educents… Save an extra 20% when you use discount code "KinderCraze20" at checkout
    Melissa and Doug toys on Educents… Save an extra 20% when you use discount code "KinderCraze20" at checkout
    Melissa and Doug toys on Educents… Save an extra 20% when you use discount code "KinderCraze20" at checkout
    Melissa and Doug toys on Educents… Save an extra 20% when you use discount code "KinderCraze20" at checkout
    Melissa and Doug toys on Educents… Save an extra 20% when you use discount code "KinderCraze20" at checkout
    Melissa and Doug toys on Educents… Save an extra 20% when you use discount code "KinderCraze20" at checkout


    Exclusive 20% Discount from Kinder-Craze

    Don't forget that Kinder-Craze fans save 20% on their total Educents purchase every day! Just enter discount code KinderCraze20 when you check out! 
    Save an extra 20% at Educents when you use discount code "KinderCraze20" at checkout



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    I recently shared a classroom photo on Instagram and was delighted to see the enthusiastic response from my fans. Kindergarten teachers don't miss a beat and I received so many questions in regard to my file cabinets and the child silhouettes that are displayed throughout my classroom. This blog post is dedicated to answering a few of those big questions!
    how to spray paint your file cabinets and answers to  other classroom decor DIY questions


    Spray Painting File Cabinets

    First of all, let's talk file cabinets! Teachers love to ask a lot of questions about my bright yellow cabinets. As you've probably guessed, they weren't always yellow. Some of my file cabinets used to be black. A few were formerly taupe. I spray painted all of them Sun Yellow using Krylon gloss spray paint. 

    sun yellow spray paint for classroom file cabinets

    If you have never spray painted before, beware. The work is tedious. And not intended for the impatient person. Long, slow strokes are the only way to go and you will feel like your hand and/or arm will fall off within 10 minutes. If you try to rush and use too much spray, your project will turn out as a disaster. I did not use spray primer when I painted my cabinets, but I probably will next time. Going from black to yellow required SEVERAL coats and moving schools chipped the paint in a few areas on my cabinets. I'm pretty sure primer would have helped to solve both of those issues. You will also want to purchase a special nozzle that fits on top of the spray paint can that turns it into a spray gun. This will make your hand and fingers more comfortable while you paint. A lot more comfortable, in fact. But make no mistake, your wrist and arm will still be sore when you are done. 
    spray paint can nozzle

    Proper spray paint technique is oh-so-important. My friend Mario (the school custodian) gave me a lesson the first time I spray painted and warned me about the consequences of painting too quickly or too aggressively. Since I can't send Mario to give you a personal lesson, I did the next best thing. I found the perfect YouTube video. It is short, sweet, and too the point. Take notes and remember to use long, soft strokes that go in a straight line when you spray paint! 


    Now that I have frightened you about spray painting, let me assure you: 
    IT IS TOTALLY WORTH IT! 
    I love my bright yellow cabinets and I would spray paint another one in an instant this summer if such a need arises. The work is hard but the result is simply stunning. 
    so many cute ideas for classroom decor!

    The brightly colored lanterns are also from Schoolgirl Style

    Classroom Child Silhouettes 

    Several fans also wanted to know about the silhouettes of children playing that adorn my classroom. I LOVE these images so much! The silhouette graphics are from Schoolgirl Style (my favorite source of classroom inspiration). I printed each graphics on my computer, then placed the computer printouts under my classroom Elmo and projected the images onto sheets of black Fadeless paper. This created enlarged versions of the graphics. I traced the outline of each image and set about the tedious task of cutting each one out by hand. 

    Yes, it was time consuming. 
    YES, like my spray painted file cabinets, it was completely worth it! 

    I then lightly coated the back of each cutout with Super 77 spray adhesive from 3M and positioned them on the cloud boards above my classroom windows. 
    love these silhouettes of children playing… perfect for a kindergarten classroom

    Vinyl Silhouette Accents

    A few (particularly observant) fans also noticed the black silhouettes attached to my spray painted cabinet and desk. As you probably guessed, those are not fadeless paper. They are black vinyl. Just like my paper silhouettes, I used my classroom Elmo to project the child silhouettes, but this time I traced the pictures onto the back of black vinyl sheets. I cut out my traced images, peeled the vinyl, and stuck the images of those sweet children to various surfaces in my classroom, including my teacher desk and file cabinet.

    how to spray paint your file cabinets and answers to  other classroom decor DIY questions
    adorable classroom file cabinets!

    I also placed a vinyl silhouette of a little boy on the side of a bookshelf that serves as a boundary for my classroom library. I love, love, LOVE the whimsical feel these silhouettes add to our learning environment. 
    adorable kindergarten classroom library!
    adorable kindergarten classroom library!

    Questions are Always Welcome

    Now that you've had a few of your biggest questions answered about my classroom, are you wondering about anything else? I am so touched to hear that teachers find inspiration from my own classroom and am always happy to answer your questions. If you haven't already, check out my initial classroom reveal blog post. It is loaded with dozens of great photos. 

    gorgeous kindergarten classroom

    Be sure to follow me on Instagram to get exclusive sneak peeks at all of my classroom antics. I always have a camera nearby and am eager to share photos with you!
    Maria Manore from Kinder-Craze… my favorite kindergarten blogger!

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    My newest shipment from Stitch Fix arrived this week and I am so excited to share photos of my fix with all of you! I am also EXTRA excited because I am giving away a $50 Stitch Fix gift card to one lucky fan. That's right! Fifty dollars!

    Stitch Fix personal styling service for women

    I'm sure your already excited about the giveaway. 
    You'll find the rafflecopter for it at the bottom of the post. 

    I have more details to share about the giveaway, but first let me tell you ALL about my fix!

    If you're not already familiar with Stitch Fix, let me fill you in on all of the amazing details. Stitch Fix is an online personal styling service. It's free to create an account and the sign-up process guides you through a series of questions to help you describe your personal style. You enter your sizes and answer questions about the type of clothing you typically wear (as well as what you would NEVER wear). The entire process takes about 10-15 minutes.

    Once your style profile is complete, you can arrange for a fix to be shipped! You will be assigned a personal stylist that carefully studies your style profile. She will choose 5 items (clothing and accessories) that she thinks will be perfect for you and the items arrive direct to your door! 

    Once the clothes arrive, you have three business days to try on your clothes. It is wonderful to do this in the comfort of your own home (and with full access to your closet full of existing clothes). Keep the garments you want, and return the items that don't work for you. It's that simple! 

    When my third fix arrived, I couldn't wait to dig in! The interior lid of the box provided a reminder about how the service works. 

    Stitch Fix personal styling service for women

    I also received an envelope containing a personal note from my stylist as well as style cards that provide suggestions for each of my 5 garments.
    Stitch Fix personal styling service for women

    It love the sticker that seals my fix with tissue paper. It always feels like Christmas to gently peel the sticker and reveal my hand-selected clothes. 
    Stitch Fix personal styling service for women


    First up was a pair of gray skinny jeans from Kensie. I personally love this brand and was so happy that my fix included a Kensie garment. 

    Next up was a black and white ikat print racerback tank. 

    I was also sent a white 3/4 sleeve button cardigan.

    And a navy boat neck cable knit sweater...

    And finally, a teal jersey knit draped dress. 

    I had to start with the black and white ikat tank. The print was so interesting and I loved the Ikat blouse they sent in my last fix. 

    I paired the tank with the white cardigan and gray skinny jeans. 

    I love, love, LOVE the black and white tank! 

    Unfortunately I did not love the skinny jeans. They fit perfect and were comfortable. But light colored skinny jeans make me uncomfortable. They show every undesirable bulge, bump and panty line. The pants were great. They just weren't ME. 

    Needless to say, I quickly changed my pants before trying on any more clothes. I decided to pari the navy boatneck sweater with my favorite coral polka dot blouse and a pair of white capris. (Can you tell that I'm dreaming of beautiful spring weather?)

    The sweater wasn't exactly my style. I don't usually like boatneck tops and the sweater was a little shorter than my preference. But it worked with my blouse and it looked very nautical with my white pants. I know that the nautical look is very IN right now so I decided to keep it! 

    I think my stylist must really want me to own a teal dress. She sent a teal tunic last time (I returned it). And I plan to return the dress as well. I think teal is a bold color to wear from head to toe in dress or tunic form. Also, this dress was jersey, and jersey is 100 times worse than light colored skinny jeans for showing bumps, bulges and panty lines. It was simply not flattering on me. Sorry, I don't have a fun photo to share of the dress. 


    Now that you've seen my latest Stitch Fix, are you ready for that giveaway?
    Use the rafflecopter below for your chance to win a $50 Stitch Fix gift card!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    You also want to stop by A Differentiated Kindergarten. My friend Marsha just received her first fix and you just HAVE to see what she got. Plus, Marsha is giving away a $20 Stitch Fix gift card! Yes, another giveaway!
    A Differentiated Kindergarten

    Do you have a blog post about a recent fix that you received? Come link up and share what you got! We would LOVE to see it!

    An InLinkz Link-up

    My bedroom is always a DISASTER after I try on my latest fix. Here is what my bed looked like earlier today. Please tell me this happens to you too! 



    Want to see my previous fixes?
    You can read all about them while I eagerly await the arrival of my next fix!

    Do you want to try Stitch Fix for yourself? Sign up for your first fix using my referral link (included throughout this post) and I receive a credit toward future fixes.


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    Spring has arrived and despite the abysmal weather (high temps for the week will only be in the mid-30s once again), I am determined to shake the winter blues from my classroom. I removed the oh-so-adorable stained glass mitten decorations that my students created in January and was ready for a replacement decoration that said "Spring is Welcome here!" After a lengthy debate, I eventually decided that kites would be the perfect decoration for our classroom windows.

    Tutorial for creating tissue paper kites with contact paper. A great spring craft for the kindergarten classroom.
    Like all my stained glass art projects, this craft required only 3 materials: construction paper, tissue paper squares, and clear contact paper. Students will also need scissors at the end of the project. 

    I wanted the kites to be BIG and make a bold statement in my classroom windows, so I cut the 1/2" frame for each kite from a 12x18" sheet of black construction paper. While the class was at library, I peeled a 12x18" sheet of clear contact paper, placed it sticky-side-up on each student's desk and gently set a black frame on top of each sheet of contact paper.

    When students returned from the library, I was ready for them! Each child was given verbal instructions for the project (a task that was easy because we have already made several stained glass decorations this year) as well as also cut 1/2" strips that were 18" and 12" to complete the inside of the frame. The children laid the two strips in a perpendicular way to connect opposite corners. 
    Tutorial for creating tissue paper kites with contact paper.
    Tutorial for creating tissue paper kites with contact paper.

    Once the perpendicular strips were in place, the students filled in the four kite areas with tissue paper squares. I wanted to have a unified look of some type with their kites, so the class was given instructions to use only two colors. Matching colors were to be used in opposite sections of the kite. Although the directions were simple, it was intriguing to see the variety of ways my students interpreted the instructions. The completed projects offered such a beautiful variety of colors. 
    Tutorial for creating tissue paper kites with contact paper.
    Tutorial for creating tissue paper kites with contact paper.
    Tissue paper kite decorations made with contact paper. So cute!
    Tissue paper kite decorations made with contact paper. So cute!
    Tissue paper kite decorations made with contact paper. So cute!

    Once the kites were completely filled with tissue paper squares a second sheet of clear contact paper was added to "seal in" all the pieces and prevent the loss of stray tissue papers.
    Tissue paper kite decorations made with contact paper. So cute!

    Each student then used scissors to trim the excess plastic from around their kites.
    kindergarten spring kite craft made with tissue paper and clear contact paper
    kindergarten spring kite craft made with tissue paper and clear contact paper

    The completed kites were attached in my classroom windows with clear tape. 
    kindergarten spring kite craft made with tissue paper and clear contact paper

    I LOVE how perfect these kites fit with my classroom decor and the decorations on display above each window. 
    adorable kindergarten classroom decorations


    kite "stained glass" window craft made with tissue paper and clear contact paper

    So now the big question: 
    Do you think these new decorations will finally bring spring weather to Michigan?


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    A few weeks ago, I hit the road and went on a little field trip. Not with my students… this fun trip was just for me. And for you too. I drove down to Columbus, Ohio to visit COSI (the Center of Science and Industry) and check out the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes, a traveling exhibit that COSI is hosting now thru September 1. COSI generously provided me with an exhibit pass for the day, as well as a four pack of tickets for one lucky fan… you can read more about that at the bottom of this post. First, let me fill you in on this amazing experience. 


    The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes is a traveling museum exhibit, currently housed at COSI in Columbus, Ohio. I am a mega fan of the BBC's Sherlock television series so when I heard that an entire exhibit based upon this classic fictional character created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was only a few hours away, I marked my calendar and started packing for the trip!  

    Before entering, a COSI employee informed me of the rules. My camera and cell phone had to be tucked away at all times while I visited the exhibit. I was given a small notebook for recording my observations of the "crime scene" that lay ahead, but was told that pens, pencils, and other items of the sort were not permitted. All necessary tools for documenting my discoveries would be provided within the experience. 

    Needless to say, I was intrigued. 

    I laid my camera into it's pretty pink bag and got ready to go. (Don't worry. I have lots of photos to share with you. COSI generously gave me permission to use their promotional photos of the event, courtesy of Robb McCormick Photography). 

    There were three distinct layers to the Sherlock Holmes exhibit. 

    A historic retrospective of the life, methods, and contemporary culture of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle set the scene for the adventure that lay ahead. Various artifacts and historical documents introduced visitors to advances in science and medicine during the time of Holmes' inception, in addition to the actual people that inspired the character of Sherlock. 

    Set in a dimly lit room with erie music, this brief historical overview included sinister evidence from actual homicides of the era and successfully captured the intrigue of Sherlock Holmes.  


    The second realm of the exhibition guided visitors through the streets of London in the 1800s and provided a cultural education in the era of Sherlock Holmes. Patrons are briefly "trained" in several forensic areas of the time: photography, news, cosmetics, telegraph, ballistics, and more. A visit to each booth in the room provided helpful background knowledge for unlocking the crime evidence that would soon unfold.

    Two telegraph stations in this setting taught visitors basic morse code. The stations were several feet apart from one another and guests were invited to send an actual morse code message on the telegraph to a friend at the opposite station. In our current world of technological advances, this provided a great retrospective on how far our communication tools have advanced over time. 

    Many cosmetics in the 1800s contained poisons. While this storefront display may seem out of place, it quickly became relevant to understanding the evidence in the awaiting crime scene. 

    My walk through the streets brought me to several other stations. 

    At each stop a lantern prompted me to collect data in my notebook. As promised, a pen or pencil were not needed. Instead, a simple push of a button stamped my notebook with information gathered at every  station. This was so ingenious. 



    A visit to the newspaper booth was a bit different. Instead of collecting a stamp, visitors rubbed a sample of an encrypted message, then had to decipher the code. 

    After becoming an expert in nineteenth century forensic science, I was finally ready to proceed to the third phase of the exhibit: the crime scene. 

    A turn of the corner led me directly into the home of the one-and-only Sherlock Holmes. Of course, the great Sherlock was not present, he left a recording on his Edison phonograph with a very detailed description of the crime in question and the evidence to investigate. Listening to the voice of Sherlock Holmes was a unique and creative personal touch that gave the exhibit a true air of authenticity.

    Of course I could not resist the urge to take a stroll around the living quarters of Sherlock Holmes. 

    There were so many details of his fictional life scattered about the scene. 
    A summary of the crime scene ahead was displayed in one corner of the room; another message from Sherlock to his visitors.

    The remainder of the exhibit was dedicated to solving a rather mysterious crime. 

    Behold, the crime scene: 

    After observing the crime scene and recalling the details of the case, patrons visited several stations (created by Sherlock of course) test various theories for the details in the evidence. 

    I don't want to say too much or spoil any surprises about the nature of the crime (or evidence), but just take a quick peek at a few of the stations for investigation. Each one of these contraptions was clearly designed for visitor interaction. Discovering the truth of what happened required careful examination of the evidence and an investigation of various theories. Solving the mystery of the crime was a completely unique experience and I was enchanted by the 19th century world that surrounded me every step of the way.

    Once all the evidence had been gathered and recorded in my notebook, I headed to "The Gazette" station to decipher a code in the newspaper. The code gave me instructions to head to a specific location on my journey, which was critical to solving the mystery of the crime. At that location, all was revealed!  

     Needless to say, the experience did not disappoint.

    The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes will only be at COSI until September 1. This is an event you do not want to miss.

    Enter to Win a 4-Pack of Tickets for Sherlock Holmes at COSI

    Now that you have heard how amazing the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes at COSI, how would you like to win a 4 pack of tickets? Get your family, pack your bags, get ready to hit the road and head to COSI in Columbus. But first, use the rafflecopter below for your chance to WIN!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Learn More about COSI

    The Sherlock Holmes exhibit may be a temporary event, but COSI has so much to offer! The entire facility is beautiful, interactive for children of all ages, and like nothing else I have ever seen. Visit the COSI website and start planning your trip to Columbus. 

    COSI On Wheels

    What's better than planning a trip to COSI? Having COSI on Wheels visit your school! My school recently came to my own school to deliver a hands-on presentation for K-8 students on chemistry. Read all about the amazing experience for my kindergarten students. 



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