Yo-Yo Valentines

I love giving my students nonfood Valentines, since they always end up with WAY too much sugar and treats.  Since my class always seem to be obsessed with yo-yos, I picked up a few packs from the Target Party Section for their Valentine’s gift!  I printed these adorable gift tags and they were a hit!

Click here to grab these free tags.

Click here to see more Valentine's Day fun for your classroom!

Ten Tips for a Successful Kindergarten Round Up

In my school district Kindergarten Registration (or Kindergarten Round Up) starts at the end of January.  Our school holds a special evening event to give parents a chance to fill out all the required paperwork, meet the teachers, and tour the classrooms.  Our Kindergarten Registration Night was a huge success this year as we had more parents and children attend than ever before.  I would like to share with you ten ways to help run a successful Kindergarten Registration event. 

 1. Advertise
When we asked parents why they had not attended previous Kindergarten Registrations, the number one reason was they simply did not know about it.  Advertising is key to a great turnout.  We made a special postcard to mail out to every family in our school.  As you well know, notes teachers send with students don’t always make it home.  Mailing the postcards made sure every family was aware.  We also distributed these postcards to local daycares and preschools, in an attempt to invite families who were not already enrolled at our school.  In addition to the postcards, we posted the information on our marquee, in the school newsletter, and on a huge banner in the parent parking lot. 

Examples of the post cards we made.

2. Decorations
Starting Kindergarten is a really big deal!  For some families it’s their first child leaving the home and going to school.  For others, it’s their baby that they are sending off.  Either way, it is a very exciting event and simple decorations will help make it more fun and help everyone feel more welcome.  We put up balloons and welcome signs at the office and in the classrooms. 

3. Meet the Teachers
The most exciting part of Kindergarten Registration is giving the children and families a chance to meet the teachers and see their classrooms.  All three of the kindergarten teachers at our school were at the event, sporting matching Kinder DreamTeam tees from Lipstick and Littles.  While matching shirts are definitely not necessary, it made it a lot easier to find one of the teachers in the crowd of people.  We also made a simple “Meet the Kinder Team” slide to project in our classrooms, so the families could get to know us a little bit.  If you don’t have a projector or the ability to create a digital presentation, a simple poster board would do just fine! 

Example of our Meet the Teacher slide.

4. Photo Booth
At the entrance of the classrooms, we had a big bulletin board set up outside for families to take pictures of their future kindergartener.  It was a huge hit! 

This bulletin board set came from Simply Kinder and was so easy to put together.

5.  Treat
As the new student and family came into the rooms, we greeted the child first and handed them a treat, welcoming them to our school.  This helped us make a personal and positive connection with each student before they even began the tour. 

6.  Free Book
In addition to a treat, each child with a completed registration received a free book!  We used our Scholastic Book Club points to purchase the book, “If You Take a Mouse to School”.  (We ran out of books and plan to purchase more for next year.) 

7. Kindergarten Information
Parents were given a folder with basic kindergarten information inside.  Keep it simple, the whole experience can be overwhelming.  More information is given at Meet the Teacher and Curriculum Night at the beginning of the school year.  The folders included a sample schedule of a day in kindergarten, an alphabet chart, a page showing proper formation of letters, a list of skills children should be able to do before starting school, and a note with activities parents can do with their child to help prepare them for kindergarten.  Our district also provided parents with an informational booklet, scissors, glue, crayons, and additional ways to help at home. 

8.  Music
Playing music in the background is another simple way to create a positive environment where children feel more comfortable.  We had a CD of Toddler Tunes playing in the background.  Not only does music create a more positive atmosphere, but it also helps avoid any awkward silence. 

9.  Student Work
Display a variety of student work displayed around the room.  Parents and children loved seeing a sampling of activities they would be doing when they came to kindergarten.  We also had a few student scrapbooks on display.

10. Activities
The children needed something to keep them occupied while parents were completing the required registration paperwork.  We set out coloring pages and a few manipulatives (pattern blocks, linking cubes, legos) for them to play with.  Children are curious and will explore, so be sure to put away anything you don’t want them to play with.

Do you do a Kindergarten Round Up?
What have you found to be successful?

Rainbow Christmas Tree

  • Construction paper in a variety of colors
  • Scissors
  • White paper
  • Glue stick
  • Pencil
  • Ruler 

What You Do:

  1. Have your child place the construction paper, one sheet of each color, in a horizontal, or landscape position.
  2. Then, set one sheet of white paper to the side in a vertical position.
  3. Ask him to cut strips of paper from the bottom to the top of each sheet of paper. The strips should be about 1" wide.
  4. Have him cut one small square for the base of the tree, about 2.5" x 2.5", and glue it to the bottom of the white paper.
  5. Encourage him to draw and cut out a star for the top of his tree. Set it aside for now.
  6. Ask him to lay out the strips of colored paper on the white paper, overlapping them to create the basic shape of the Christmas tree. Don't worry if the paper extends over the edges of the tree, it'll be cut down later.
  7. Encourage him to play with changing up the colors and various ways of slanting the rectangles, overlapping them to create his tree. When the rectangles of paper are in their final positions, have him use the ruler to lightly draw a straight line (not a diagonal) where the paper should be cut.
  8. Have him carefully lift up each edge of paper and cut it along his drawn line, then glue it in place.
  9. Continue cutting and gluing until all rectangles are adhered in position from top to bottom, small to large.
  10. Complete the Christmas tree by having him glue the star at the very top of the tree.
My kindergartners had a blast making these Christmas trees this year!  To adapt it, I pre-cut all the strips of paper and they arranged them in order from shortest to longest.  It was a fantastic way to end our measurement unit.  You can check out my Merry Measurement Unit here.  

This engaging and educational Christmas craftivity comes from Education.com.  

First Day Fun with Playdough!

Good Morning!

We all know the first day of school can be hectic for most teachers. 

At many of the schools I've worked at, we've had a “Meet the Teacher/Bring Your Supplies Day” before school officially begins.  However, there were a couple years when we didn't have those days and students brought all their supplies and met their teacher on the first day of school!  When the first day comes, with all the supplies to put away, it does get very hectic!  Instead of expecting children to settle down with a worksheet, I placed a Ziploc bag filled with play dough and some work mats on each desk.  This is a highly engaging activity that requires no teacher guidance - allowing time to collect and assemble supplies. In addition, it also provides the children with a fun activity to calm their back to school jitters!

When I used this activity in my classroom, I had each child practice making numbers and their name with the play dough. Then I had them make something to represent their favorite summer activity.  This became one of our first “getting to know you” activities.  Each child shared about what they made.

Click here or on either picture above to download the recipe and some fun work mats!  Use these work mats or create your own for your students.  Be sure to laminate them or cover with wax paper.  :) 

Some additional ideas for how to work the play dough into an educational/getting to know you activity:
-use the dough to represent a favorite hobby or food
-use the dough to mold elements from a favorite book or story, etc.
-use the dough to create letters or build their name

What ideas do you have for incorporating play dough fun with the first day of school? 


I have love sending postcards to my future students before school starts each year.  It's a wonderful way to start the year off on a positive note and to start building up that rapport.  My students talk about their postcards all year long!  It's so special to them!  

I originally saw this postcard over at The Teacher Wife, but it is no longer available.  I thought it was the perfect postcard for Kindergarten, so I had no choice but to recreate it.  And how cute is that font from Abby?!?  I am in love with her new fonts and have been using them all over my classroom.  :)

While you can certainly print these postcards on your own, I sent mine to Vistaprint.  The quality and price are excellent.  They always seem to have a coupon code for an even better discount.  If you would like to use this postcard to welcome your students back to school, click on the images above.  They fit perfectly on the standard postcard size.  

If you're looking for more postcards to use in your class, click here.
Happy Back to School!


Today I'm sharing one of my favorite classroom games over on Cassandra's blog.  Check it out!

I learned about this game two years ago, and it has quickly become a class favorite!  I love it because it can be used for ANY subject and ANY grade level.  It keeps everyone engaged, focused, and quiet.  ;)  

The Set Up:

Buy some foam pieces and glue magnets on the back.  I bought my set from Hobby Lobby.  Write a variety of numbers on the back of each piece.  Use whatever numbers work best for your class to do mental math with.  When I was in 2nd Grade, we used 2-digit numbers, mostly multiples of 10, with a few ending in 5.  This year, I have mostly 2-digit and a few 3-digit, ending with a 0 or 5.  My co-worker in 5th grade used more 3-digit numbers.  Whatever works for you!  Write an X and ZONK on a couple of them.  

The Game:

I like to play this as a review before a math assessment, but it can be used for any subject!  Prepare questions for your students to answer using worksheets, task cards, and/or whiteboards.  I play boys VS girls, and keep score on the board.  Put all the foam pieces on the board.  Display your first question.  EVERY student answers it.  I set a timer to ensure we get through the questions.  When the time is up, choose a boy or girl to answer.  If they answer correctly, they come to the board to choose up to three foam pieces, and record the score.  If they answer incorrectly, the other team gets a chance to steal the points.  If the second team answers incorrectly, I explain the answer and move on to the next question.    

The Rules:

A student can choose up to three pieces.  They can stop at any time.  If they choose an X, their turn ends, but can keep the points they have already chosen.  If they choose a ZONK, they loose all the points for that round.  If a student talks out, they lose 10 points for their team.  You can add points to a team if they are cheering for the opposite team.  Silent cheers, of course!  ;)

It really is our favorite game!  
So easy, engaging, and exciting!  
I hope you have a blast playing it with your kiddos!  :)

Shades of FALL

We've had fun this week working on shades of meaning!  This can be a difficult concept for many 2nd and 3rd graders, but I've created some fun, fall-themed activities to support distinguishing shades of meaning among related verbs and adjectives.  You can find my Shades of Fall packet here.

This week we started with identifying pairs of synonyms, and then decided which word was strong and which word was weak.  I gave each child a pumpkin card with one word on it.  Then, when I said go, they had to find their partner.  My class absolutely loves these types of activities, so we played a few times.  :)

Once everyone found their partner, we sorted the words into two groups - weak and strong.  

Finally, students completed an independent activity page.  This boy thought he was being so funny with his sentence...  How could I be mad when he did such an excellent job???  HA!  

On Friday, we did the candy corn activities from my packet.  We started by assembling candy corn puzzles.  Each candy corn was made up of three words that have similar meanings.  I cut them apart ahead of time, and then the groups had to assemble each puzzle.  

When they finished assembling the puzzles, they recorded their answers on the recording sheet.  

Finally, they chose one of the candy corn puzzles to create their own candy corn for.  They had to write a sentence for each word, showing the differences in their meanings.  

On Monday, I'll hang the completed candy corn craftivities up for an educational and festive display!  

You can find these activities and more in my Shades of Fall packet.

Fall In Love With Teaching

Since making the move from 2nd Grade up to 3rd Grade this year, I've been fortunate enough to meet some incredible 3rd Grade Teachers.  They have been so patient and helpful as I ask a million questions on a regular basis!  I am thrilled to be part of a wonderful fall blog hop with some of these amazing 3rd Grade Teachers!  I can't wait to hop along and learn more from these fabulous teachers.

I'm a summer girl by heart, but I absolutely LOVE fall in Arizona.  It's about 80 degrees and absolutely heavenly!  I do miss the beautiful colors of fall and the sound of the crunchy leaves, so I still like to pretend it's fall with plenty of fall themed activities.  

When I was in 2nd Grade, I made Shades of Spring - a packet to help teach the standard distinguishing shades of meaning among closely related adjectives and verbs.  I thought it was a tricky standard to teach, with minimal resources available.  But since using this packet, it quickly became one of my favorite units to teach.  I love all the possibilities and crafts and hands-on activities it provides.  And, of course, anything involving paint chips is my favorite!  :)

This year, I decided to combine my love for fall and my love for shades of meaning and create a brand new product!


This packet is packed FULL of fall-themed activities to help teach this 2nd and 3rd Grade standard.  I've come up with centers, worksheets, craftivities, bulletin board displays, and assessments for all the fun fall themes!  I've included apples, leaves, pumpkins, and candy corn.  

One of my favorite things about teaching shades of meaning is all the opportunities for students to practice working in groups and using non-fiction text features.  For most of the activities students work in groups to use a thesaurus to look up synonyms.  Once they compile a list of words, they write them in order of their intensity on paint chips, or other fun craftivities!  I don't have enough time in my day to do art projects just for fun, so I try to incorporate our curriculum into our bulletin board displays.  I've learned pretty much anything can be turned into a cute display!  ;)  

Tell me this isn't the cutest candy corn you've ever seen???  
I just love this little craftivity!  
This is just one example of all the fun you'll find in my Shades of Fall packet.  

I'm giving away this 80 page packet to one lucky reader!  
Just enter the Rafflecopter below.  

Or, if you'd rather buy the packet, it's on sale through the weekend!  :)

Now hop on over to Pam at Hedgehog Reader and see what Fall fun she has in store for you!  

In addition to our own giveaways, we have a GRAND PRIZE for you!!  We are giving away TWO gift cards to Teachers Pay Teachers!  This giveaway will run from September 26 - 30, so make sure you enter!  Good luck!  :)

How To Keep Parent Volunteers Organized

Today I posted over on Hello Sunshine about how I keep parent volunteers organized in my classroom!  Parent Volunteers can literally save your classroom.  I have had years with no parent volunteers, and years with more than I could possibly find a use for.  It really just helps the classroom stay organized and run smoothly if you know how to utilize them properly.  Last year I had so many that I just didn't even know what to do, so I came up with these systems to help me keep me organized.  Click on the picture below to check it out!  

First Day Fun with Play Dough!

Today I posted over on Hello Sunshine about one of my favorite first day activities!  This is a highly engaging activity that requires no teacher guidance - allowing time to collect and assemble supplies.  Click on the picture below to check it out!