Tuesday, January 31, 2017


This isn't the first post I've written about play. Allowing children time to play is something I feel very strongly about. In this day and age of rigor (I really dislike that word) & testing many higher-ups have pushed play out of the school day. I am fortunate to work in a corporation that supports Kinders' need for play. More & more research is being presented on the importance of play. Which, when you think about it, it's crazy that play is even a topic of discussion. They are LITTLE KIDS for crying out! Why is their need for play even something that is up for discussion?? Anyway, today I was reading the current issue of Reader's Digest & found a quote by a psychiatrist named Stuart Brown about play. That quote plus the fact that my students are always asking me to take pictures of their block structures they build during playtime prompted this post.

If you follow me on Facebook you may have read some of the many articles I've shared on play. Click HERE to check out my page. Type "play" to search for some really good articles. 

These are our 100th Day cups. I left them out & they have been played with every day since last Wednesday. Today a little boy brought a stuffed dog named Roy to school for his reward. (We use tickets to help with behavior ~ ten tickets earn a reward coupon for things like bring a stuffed animal to school.) These cuties all worked together to create this home for Roy. 

I'm not really sure what this is supposed to be, and yes they aren't using these math manipulatives in the "correct" way, but what they created was pretty cool. I like the symmetry & the collaboration that went into making this. 

Block builders. These boys can be seen in the block area almost daily building all sorts of structures. This is the first year I've had kids combine Lego & other smaller building toys with the big blocks. They make different types of ships or rockets, etc. and then build cities for their ships.

My classroom also has a kitchen area, puppets, stuffed animals, puzzles, games, play doh, coloring books, and things like lacing cards & beads to string. During play time there is no technology ~ all play is kid powered. We play every day for about 20 - 25 minutes. It's a time that is as valuable as the time we spend on literacy & math. What about you? Do your students get to play at school?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

100th Day 2017

Yay! Today was the 100th Day of kindergarten! (And, it was the first time that it occurred on on the actual 100th day ~ no snow days to postpone it this year!) As always, the kids had a great time, but what was a little different was the fact that it wasn't as "party" as in past years. Today was late start Wednesday, and the book fair! Throw in the fact that our day is chopped up into a bunch of little slices of time didn't allow us time to have a bunch of parents in to run our activities party-style. But, as I said, the kids had fun. (Plus, they didn't know any different...) Here are some pictures of our fun day. 

I was impressed by by the cute, creative tee shirts the kids & their families created. lol I noticed the day count chart by the calendar still says "99!" This photo was taken before we had our morning meeting. 

The kids had fun creating structures from red solo cups. They were excited when I told them that we can keep them out for playtime. What a fun & cheap STEM activity!

What does 100 look like? It was fun comparing bags of 100 items. I enjoyed listening to the students as they described different aspects of each material. As an optional activity I asked parents to take a pic of their child with a collection of 100 large items. I put them into  a slideshow for the kids to watch as they ate their 100 piece snack.

Flash forward 95 years! The Kinders has fun imaging themselves as 100 year olds. Their portraits included glasses, gray hair, and even a few wrinkles. Once they created their pictures they wrote about what they would do when they are 100. They have some good ideas! 

Get this forever freebie in my store HERE.

It took a while, but the kids did a great job moving through the ten plates of snacks. They carefully counted out 10 of each item onto their plates. I stood at the end of the line and dumped everything into the paper lunch bag they had decorated for their special snack. This year I was able to find ten yummy treats that  were safe for nut allergies.Our school nurse gave me a list from "FARE" a website about food allergies. It's surprising how many good tasting things are available.

The kids had a great day & I'm super tired. :-) How do you celdbrate the 100th day of school?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Five for Friday


It's been a while since I've joined this fun linky, so I'm happy to be back with five things to share. This week seemed to go by so quickly, but I feel pretty good about all that we got done. And, I even remembered to snap some pictures!

First up ~ a bowl of my hubby's famous (and, should be award winning) chili. He doesn't use a recipe, but my oh my is it good. It's topped with cheese, chili flavored Fritos, and freshly made guacamole. A glass of Riesling isn't exactly the typical beverage to drink with chili, but it is my favorite!

#1b ~ every Friday my family (daughters, their husbands, and kids) come to our house for dinner. Tonight we had French inspired food based upon the French wine my hubby collected this week. Last Friday we had Italian wine & Italian food. Next week we plan to have Mexican and will serve something a little more authentic than Riesling. Maybe Margaritas.

I decided that this year is the year I work on updating older products. My "office" is our family room couch. Chip & Joanna are frequently my companions as I work. Check out my newly revised Cupcake Literacy Activities HERE.

Last week we had fun talking about snowmen & made a couple snowman crafts. The first is a Sneezy the Snowman craft from Deanna Jump. The shape of their snowman's head (round or melted) the the type of hat were determined by spinning & graphing information. So, no two snowmen were exactly alike. (But, when do any kindergarten crafts end up looking alike?)

Olaf is surrounded by little snowmen that were painted with Q-tips. There is something more fun about painting with cotton swabs than with brushes. My kids love to paint, but they really get excited if they get to use something other than a regular paintbrush.

Last week was Polar Bear Week! I really love having a theme to my week ~ especially if it's an animal. I think I have as much fun learning about animals as the kids do! We shared the pen (a Sharpie!) to complete this chart. I was impressed by their "kindergarten spelling." A couple of kids were spot on with their spelling!

We made two polar bear crafts this week ~ this glittery friend is from my Polar Bear Science & Writing set. (Purchase HERE.) This project took a while to create. First, the kids cut out & assembled their bears. Next they created a snowy background. Some, like the one in the lower left corner had seals & other Arctic elements. Of course, no frosty scene could be complete with a little (and in some cases, a lot) of iridescent glitter!

Our other polar bear craft was this cute directed drawing. I have come to really enjoy doing directed drawing with my students. It not only gives them practice listening & following directions, directed drawings give them a fun, creative experience. Like I said earlier, no two Kinder projects are ever the same. We drew onto gray paper, colored the bears white & used water colors to paint the background. I love how they turned out! They look so cute hanging on our hallway tree.

Dude! One of my Kinders' favorite literacy stations is the "Games" station. In this station I have a variety of literacy games & activities. One popular activity is clip cards. Get these in my Montly Literacy Stations bundle HERE. I got the cute green clips at Michaels. (Do you remember to show your teacher ID when shopping at Michaels? They give a teacher discount on almost everything!)

Thanks for visiting! I welcome your comments. :-) Hop over to Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Literacy Stations

One of my favorite parts of my school day is Literacy Stations. It's one of my Kinders' favorite times, too. They are disappointed if something prevents us from doing them. Over the years my Literacy Stations have gone through a series of changes & tweaks to get to where they are now. I'm pretty happy with how they run now.

Sorry about the quality of this picture ~ it's pretty grainy for some reason. I wanted to share how I manage my station rotations. I have cards for all of the stations that we are currently using in these charts (from Target's Dollar Spot). We do two rotations per day ~ the green cards are first. Students work in ability level pairs in each station except for my table & games. These stations have four students. Unless I change the student pairs the name cards stay in the same place. I move the cards down one pocket, with the bottom cards moving to the top. I know when it's time to change the activities at my table when the green Mrs. Phillips card gets back to the top. This makes it easy to keep track of where we are in the cycle. Download the cards for free HERE.

This week we are playing a CVC word building game at my table instead of our regular guided reading lesson. This game can be moved to the Games station once everyone knows how to play it.

At the Word Work table students have lots of choices of activities. Very few of them involve a worksheet. This one is from Mailbox.

This CVC activity is from my Serving Up CVC Words. You can purchase it HERE.

I still have a couple old-school CD players. I figure as long as they work we'll use them. I also have a "boom box" a couple iPods, and an old iPhone for listening.

In addition to traditional writing station activities I like to include some fine motor activities. Here, a student is writing sight words in "Magic Snow." (salt & glitter) I found the plastic tub at Target & put it on a cookie sheet to contain the mess. Grab the editable cards for free HERE.

Our games station has a variety of literacy games ~ here these girls are playing Roll-a-Cube from my January Literacy Stations set. Get the bundle HERE.

This week I introduced a polar animal sensory tub. I'm in the process of creating cards to go into this tub, but because we are learning about polar bears this week I wanted to bring it in to let the kids play with the materials. We usually use tablets at this short table (see it's before picture in this past post), but the kids have chosen this new tub over tablets every time. (Yay! I'm not a fan of kindergartners staring at screens.)

My Kinders really love literacy stations. I love them because they give me time to work with small groups. It's a Win-Win!

I'd be interested to hear about your literacy stations. Please leave a comment to share what you do.

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