Preparing for Fall Parent Teacher Conference in Kindergarten

Are you getting ready for your FALL Parent Teacher Conferences in Kindergarten? You will love this easy form that will make reporting to parents practical, authentic and a breeze!  You will be organized and ready to discuss student progress with all of the data right at your fingertips!

Bonus! This packet includes our Fall Homework Intervention Packets in both English and Spanish. Send these packets home with parents to offer additional support for their child's academic learning. 


Guided Reading in Kindergarten or PreK

Guided Reading is an important part of the literacy spectrum as it is a time to work with students of similar needs and abilities using material at their instructional level.  It is a time to introduce and practice important reading strategies, build one to one correspondence, and to practice the importance of rereading text, and more.

If you are like me and find the guided books in your basal series to be marginal at best, you need something more. I have been making thematic books for two decades now, and find they fit the bill for effective guided reading. I have several sets for sale at our on-line store, they are moderately priced. My students love these little books! I usually sent home two a week. Additionally, each of our 50 plus thematic units and 12 homework packets each contain at least one guided reader.

If you would like tips on using guided reading in your kindergarten classroom, click here.

Twelve Steps to Parent Reporting

Are you looking for a time saving report card option?

Are you looking for a Common Core based report card?

Are you looking for a wide variety of already made, time-tested assessments?

Are you looking for a report card that reports EXACTLY what you want to report?

Then look no further! Sign up for your free trial of ESGI today! Use code B7227 to save $40.00.

Want even another reason to sign up?


Teachers who sign up for a trial account using promo code B7227, are automatically entered into a raffle to win one of ten $50 TPT gift cards.


And to convince you further, check out how easy it is to print the parent report of your dreams!

 

* Note: This is a reprised post. Thanks to ESGI's new Test Explorer 2, organizing your test subject tabs and test are even easier now.


 

Print a Parent Report: 12 Easy Steps to Set-Up

Election Day Activites

Election season is here, and this one in particular will be getting a lot of attention in the media. Help your young learners understand the process by using great literature selections to help as you plan a thematic election unit.

To get you in the mood for thematic planning, check out our podcast interview with Mary Parry, author of Sadie McGrady, episode #24.

We want to make your planning a breeze!

We have for you a great cross-curricular packet that will not only offer students great academic skills practice, but also provides much more.

Contents include:

Literacy Activities

A Call From Mr. President: Alphabet Letter Fluency

Race to the Capital: Identifying Alphabet Letters and Sounds or Reading CVC Words

Washington and Lincoln: Reading and Matching Sight Words

Bear Country Voters: Writing Alphabet Letters

Patriotic Sounds: Isolating the Beginning Sounds in Words

Flags: Rhyming

The Flag: Sentence Tracing

Math Activities

Campaign Buttons: Ordering Numbers 0-12

Red, White, and Blue Party: Counting (or Adding) Objects

The Donkey and the Elephant: Comparing Numbers

Counting Stars: Counting Objects to Match a Given Number

Design a Flag: Recognizing Shapes Regardless of Orientation

Art Projects

Patriotic Art

Flag Construct

Social Studies

Let’s Vote

Campaign Buttons

Campaign Signs

Writing

Who Will Be Our President

If I Am President

Election Word Wall

Class Book: The Election

Guided Reading Books

The Flag

The Election

Songs/Fingerplays

The Three Little Colors

Washington and Lincoln

Mr. President


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Our find it at our TPT Store by clicking below.

Helping Young Children Become Writers

Young children can write and this writing should occur daily in the early childhood classroom. In fact, most students will write before they read! “Over the school year, students’ writing develops…with increasing levels of sophistication of vocabulary, syntax, and stylistic features” (Bailey & Heritage, 2008, p. 159).

Back 17 million years ago there was dinosaurs.

Back 17 million years ago there was dinosaurs.

Early in the 1990's at the beginning of my career, most early educators agreed that young children could not and should not write!" I pressed on and taught writing to my students covertly anyway. It was simply frowned upon to start any formal writing until second semester. And then you were only to teach modeled or structured writing.

Now-a-days, educators concur that reading and writing go hand in hand and are an “…interactive process. There is a dynamic relationship between reading and writing and each one influences the development of the other…” (McMahon & Warrick, 2007, p. 159).

As writing develops, teachers will clearly see knowledge of phonics rules as well as a demonstration of graphophonemic knowledge applied to writing, and by observing the writings, great insights can be gained. 

Students need to experience genuine purpose and different types of writing in a risk free environment. They must be empowered with confidence that they are capable of writing and possess the knowledge that their efforts are accepted and authentic. This happens when students are given the skills necessary to build independence. Students will flourish in a classroom where the physical, pedagogical and emotional environment supports literacy.

Research supports littering the environment with print and providing students opportunities to read and write  their surroundings. Young children can write! Consequently, writing in many forms should occur daily in the early childhood classroom!

If you want to hear more, check out episode #23 Guided Writing on our popular podcast here

 
 

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If you are looking for a great product to teach reading, please check out our best selling: "Writing in the Early Childhood Classroom." It is newly updated. It not only contains tips, strategies, hints, and secrets for writing success, but step-by-step lessons and 172 pages of writing prompt choices. Each prompt has three choices to meet your needs for only $3.00. Check out the preview below.

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Treating Children With Respect and Encouragement.

Today I heard a teacher yelling at a student and all I could think about were the words of William W.  Purkey and his 12 to 1 Ratio (Blue Cards: Positive --  Orange Cards: Negative). This system described below equates the handing out of blue cards as positive life experiences and the handing out of orange cards as negative experiences.

The incident brought back to my own mind the day "Mr. Black" karate chopped me so hard in the back of the neck that I peed my pants instantly in front of the entire class, because I walked on a corner of the grass instead of the sidewalk. I still fully feel the deep humiliation and shame that a small first grader should not have experienced. Still, 50 years later the experience brings tears to my eyes. 

We live in a perilous world. A world filled with disadvantage, sadness, and inequity. A world where a young child does not always go home to a clean house with warm cinnamon rolls and  loving reassurance from a caring family;  where blue cards (positive experiences) are freely given.

 I would like to remind every adult that works in any way with young children that your words and actions will affect a child's entire path in life. We must pass out blue cards  to the children in our care. 

According to Purkey's research, "Each person requires at least twelve blue cards for every one orange card just to "make it through the night." This ratio indicates the strength of orange cards and the actions needed to counteract them. to be fully functioning probably requires a much more positive ratio. When too few blue cards are received, or too many orange, the ratio falls "below minimum" and terrible things begin to happen. Individuals begin to lose self-esteem, optimism, and hope. This loss is coupled with the appearance of pessimism, hostility, and terrible anger. "Nobody likes me, respects me or cares about me, so I don’t like, respect, or care about others either." 

Teachers: Please give out the blue cards freely!

"The reason the blue and orange card metaphor is valuable is that it serves as a constant reminder that everything people do and every way they do it is either positive or negative, beneficial or lethal, inviting or disinviting." Paula H. Stanley Radford University, VA (Read her full article here).

Purkey reminds us further in his research that everything counts!  "The way a phone is answered, a letter written, a word spoken, an office painted, a colleague treated, a policy established, a program implemented is either helpful or harmful."

" Maslow (1970) captured the essence of the blue and orange card metaphor when he wrote: Let people realize that every time they threaten someone or humiliate or hurt ... or dominate or reject another human being, they become forces for the creation of psychopathology, even if these be small forces. Let them recognize that every man [sic] who is kind, helpful, decent, psychologically democratic, affectionate, and warm, is a psychotherapeutic force even though a small one."

Note: This post was written for T. 

Teachers please treat your students with the caring and kindness they deserve. Seriously if a child goes home and tells his mother you only made him cry once today, you need to think about how many orange cards you are handing out.

And thank you to the countless educators who are handing out blue cards to the point of exhaustion! A kind and caring teacher makes all the difference.

 

 

Free Books For Your Classroom

I LOVE using Familiar Fairy Tales and Folk Tales in my classroom. And my students love them as well! I have teamed with Hameray Publishing to bring a set of these great books into one lucky classroom!

Familiar fairy tales and fables will help you lead the way to real-world knowledge with Story World Real World paired texts. Each theme set pairs one traditional tale with three nonfiction books that are heavy on informational text features, to give them practice making connections and navigating informational content.


We're raffling off the Story World portion of the series—ten traditional tales at guided reading levels I–M, with bright, modern illustrations.

 Sign up today, and while your are waiting to collect your winnings, check out Hameray's great inventory of guided readers and big books here

 


You will want to check out these great Folk Tale supporting materials to fill your classroom with folk-tale fun! Our products are available here, or at our TPT store.

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Benefits of Mother Goose Rhymes

"Experts in literacy and child development have discovered that if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart..., they're usually among the best readers by the time they're eight."

-Fox, M. (2001). Reading Magic. San Diego, CA: Harcourt.

I love to use Nursery Rhymes and Traditional songs as a staple in my Kindergarten curriculum. One program I love to use is Singlish. I ran across this great resource many years ago at a conference in Texas.  I have found that it truly builds oral language development. Of course it does, because it is simply posters and music for nursery rhymes and familiar tunes. Teaching vocabulary through song!

With the technology available to young children, nursery rhymes are becoming a lost art. Twenty years ago, you would be hard pressed to find a kindergartner who didn't already know most of these great rhymes. Today's kindergartners come knowing very few, so it is up to the early grade teachers to bring this magic to their childhood. 

A great way to begin the school year is through the introduction of these great rhymes. I love using this unit in my kindergarten classroom, laying a foundation of rhyme that will carry throughout the school year. 

My students always enjoy the rhymes all year long. Nursery rhymes are even the focus of our class program!

My grandchildren as well (ages 2-6) love to play the games and activities in this thematic packet, because kids of all ages love Mother Goose. It is a great tool to use at home as well as school.


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Or head over to our TPT Store.

Or head over to our TPT Store.

Sensory Centers 101

The sensory table in my classroom is always a favorite of my students and a great companion to math, science, and literacy development as well! As children are able to experiement, discover, solve, estimate, explore and more, understanding of mathematical and science concepts are developed. When academic tasks are combined are placed in the sensory mix, students can expand even there literacy development.

Sensory tables are also a great place to develop cooperation, team-work, and social interactions as together students estimate, problem solve, and experiment.


What to Fill The Table With


Beads

Beads

Bird Seed

Bird Seed

Bubbles

Bubbles

Cooked Pasta

Cooked Pasta

Dish Soap

Dish Soap

Dinosaur Dig

Dinosaur Dig

Gemstones

Gemstones

Jewelry

Jewelry

Ooblick (Cornstarch & Water

Ooblick (Cornstarch & Water

Pebbles

Pebbles

Play Dough

Play Dough

Rice

Rice

Sand

Sand

Shredded Paper

Shredded Paper

Soapy Water

Soapy Water

Spider Rings

Spider Rings

Worms

Worms

Yarn

Yarn

Beans

Beans

Bottle Caps

Bottle Caps

Buttons

Buttons

Corn  

Corn

 

Dirt

Dirt

Dry Pasta

Dry Pasta

Ice Cubes

Ice Cubes

 
Memory Foam (Scrap Pieces

Memory Foam (Scrap Pieces

Pinecones

Pinecones

Pom Poms

Pom Poms

Plants

Plants

Rocks

Rocks

Seeds

Seeds

Snow (Real or Instant)

Snow (Real or Instant)

Slush

Slush

Vinegar & Baking Soda

Vinegar & Baking Soda

Wet Torn Newspaper

Wet Torn Newspaper


Tools For Exploration


Add into any sensory tables tools to further experimentation. I love to add measuring cups, measuring spoons, funnels, spoons, whips, rubber spatulas or other kitchen tools. Hoses, sifters, tweezers, or about anything else that makes sense with the property of the sensory table content.

 

To add an literacy twist to the table, add some magnetic letters or even sight word cards that have been laminated. You can add the plastic letters to either a wet or dry substance. I save the laminated cards for dry substances.

For a holiday flair, add some scent to the contents. I LOVE apple scented rice with small plastic apples in it. Throw in some alphabet letters and tweezers and you have a great literacy center game.

At Halloween, multi-colored beans with small plastic halloween novelty toys along with tweezers and other tools is alway a favorite.

And my students never get enough of the Arctic that we build with ice, snow, and plastic polar animals.

With sensory tables you are only limited by your own imagination (and the tolerance of your custodian). But if you train your students how to care for the contents, other than a few accidental spills, clean-up should be worry free.

If you want to get started with a sensory table in your classroom but you don't have an official one, simply purchase a plastic tote, fill it up with something and let the learning begin!


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ESGI Contest Winner

Congratulations to solheimjm!

Thank you for being the winner of the "Rate Our Podcast" campaign. You've won a free year of ESGI by leaving a review of our podcast on iTunes! Please contact us for your free ESGI certificate!

Want a second chance? Leave a review on iTunes and you will be entered to win our second-try giveaway. Winner will be drawn August 22nd! Remember to signup now for your 60 day free trial. Go to esgisoftware.com and use code B7227!

Best Ever Kindergarten Assessments

These “best selling” assessments offer both paper and digital options! 


These documents serve as organizational tools for gathering information about language arts and math strengths and weaknesses of kindergarten students. Using these assessment, you will learn more about your students and will more easily determine the focus of your instruction.

 

If using the paper version, one assessment form should be copied for each student. (I then place all of the assessments in an easy to grab binder). Due to the necessity of assessing students at regular intervals during the school year, the documents provide a space to record information for different assessment periods.

The first assessment is in a trimester format (with benchmarks provided). Following this assessment format is one that is generalized, to fit the format of varying school years.

The next pages of the assessment packets are student copies and examples of a checklist or report card that you may wish to use when reporting to parents.

If you wish to save paper and go digital, I have partnered with ESGI

You will love the ease that ESGI gives this product. I have done the work for you; all of these tests are there: click, click, done. Simply click on the test explorer tab (within ESGI) and look for my name:Kathy Crane

to find the correct tests. (Important: At the very end of the testing documents are screen shots of how to organize your tests on ESGI to correlate with the paper copy).

 Even if you are not sure whether paperless testing and data retrieval is for you, you will want to take advantage of their free 60 day trial!

Please remember to enter

promo code B7227

to receive $40.00 off the already low price.

ESGI Classroom Management Tool

Everyone knows that ESGI is a great assessment tool, but it also has a class management tool, that is a great time saver as well. Read more here about how to use ESGI for Assessments.

Simply click on the class management tool located at the far right on the top menu bar.

Add students names by clicking on add student. There are customizable columns where you can keep track of anything you want. Just use their categories, or delete them and add your own.

I especially love that now I have my names entered, I can print all sorts of name cards and activities with just a click using the blue menu bar on the right.

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Click, Click, Done.

Remember to get your FREE ESGI 60 day trial. Use code B7227. Then when you are ready to purchase, you will save $40.00 off your subscription!

AND

If you sign up now, you will be entered to win one of 10 $50 TPT giftcards.

Fostering Positive Classroom Behavior

We all have had those active classrooms with “behavioral challenges.” In fact, the trend is that instead of one “hard” student in the school (as it was early on in my career), it is expected that most classrooms will have several behavioral challenges that change the tone of the room.

Each time I see discussion boards swing to this topic, I am always saddened to see the listings of behavioral reinforcements (stickers, candy, extra recesses, on and on) that is used. Using these extrinsic rewards actually is compounding the problem!!! 

Rather than using monetary rewards, I would like to suggest that teachers focus on intrinsic rewards; teaching children to feel that natural sense of accomplishment that is being smothered with behavioral modification reward systems. I have found great success using this approach. Children thrive in an atmosphere of high expectations where a task is completed because of the sense of accomplishment that one enjoys from its completion. An atmosphere where the caring and respect for others and oneself is taught, modeled, and practiced. An atmosphere where children are taught how to make good choices and feel the differences those choices bring to their life.

In college I first learned all about the Glasser Circle and I loved its effects. Next, I was trained using the Tribes Learning Community. But for Kindergarten, nothing can beat “I Care Cat: Peacemaking Skills for Little Kids” or Wondergrovekids.com. I love both of these programs. They are simple and effective. As students learn how to self-manage conflict, care for and listen to each other, and be responsible, the climate of the classroom changes. 

Another thing that I always use is the “Turtle Trick.” This valuable tip to help children control anger, teaches students how to regulate and control their disruptive impulses and natural aggressions. I have seen the lives change in students that are given this tool! We must remember that children want to be good. 

So, before you hand out the stickers, I hope that you will take a look at other methods that actually fix the problem. Methods that give children the instruction and experiences necessary to function in our society.

You might also be interested in this post on my use of the "Behavior Tower." A quick method that allows children opportunity to reset behavior.

Sight Word NO-PREP Multi-Task Worksheets

Make the most of your student's sight word practice by providing them a great multi-task work page. Students are asked to color the word, trace the word, write the word, find the word, and then create the word as a puzzle. My students LOVE to do these pages. I have made them workbook style and used as single worksheet pages, they have loved them both the same. It is especially effective when I put the Heidi Songs Sight Word song on loop. By the end of the activity the majority of the students can spell and identify the sight word of the week.

This product includes 109 sight words. These words include the 100 most frequently used words as well as the Kindergarten words in the Wonders, Imagine It, and Journey's Reading Curriculum.


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Or click here to go to Teacher's Pay Teachers!

Or click here to go to Teacher's Pay Teachers!

Empowering our Students

The children of middle and higher income parents are busy shuffling their children from activity to activity.  They are chauffeuring their children to  art classes, music classes, cooking classes, STEM classes, gardening classes, drama classes, T-Ball, soccer, tennis, swimming and more. On top of that their families participate in family vacations, trips to museums, libraries, and zoos. These trips will reinforce, expand, and enrich the learning of these lucky kids.

But such is not the experience of our low-income students. It was not my experience either. My parents could not afford to give me these kinds of life experiences, but there was a gift they gave me that made up the difference. They empowered me. They gave me the strength of character to know that I was worthwhile and capable. The inner strength to laugh when the high school counselor told me that I shouldn't go to college because I wouldn't succeed and determination to go out and prove him wrong.

The kind of internal light that Mindy Kaling showed at Sundance when asked what drives her to continue, even when she knows their are roadblocks ahead.

As a classroom teacher, I know that my students will come with disparity of experiences. The best tool that I can arm all of the children who will be in my care is empowerment! Many years ago I attended a seminar that changed my thinking towards student academic success, and made me reflect upon my own personal experiences. I was taught that students from even the most meger of circumstances can thrive. I remember a video of a student of two alcoholic parents and devastating living circumstances that continued to flourish as a student in her classroom. How was this so? The student was empowered! 

So, how do we empower our own students? Here is my top 10 list:

  1. Teach children to think for themselves: to make positive and informed choices.
  2. Teach children how to solve problems.
  3. Teach children to feel good about themselves.
  4. Encourage laughter and foster a sense of humor.
  5. Allow children many opportunities to feel the benefits of intrinsic rewards, while limiting (or, my choice, eliminating) extrinsic rewards.
  6. Teach children how to ask questions.
  7. Teach children to be curious, discover, and to create.
  8. Teach children how to make informed choices.
  9. Set rules, boundaries, and have high expectations.
  10. Teach students resiliency: to be decisive and have stick-to-it-ness.

Students who become empowered, resilient beings, are able to overcome insurmountable obstacles. Our job as teachers is to lead them to that end. To fill our lesson plans with opportunities of character development and empowering opportunities.

Words From a Kindergarten Mom

I ran across this quote on Facebook from a special mom and I asked her if I could share it. Even when children have attended preschool, kindergarten is still the pivotal year of change. It is difficult for all adults involved. Taking your child to kindergarten, taking your child to college, two very difficult steps in a parents life. Don't worry mom. I will take good care of him!

Back To School Giveaway: Win ESGI

Who doesn't like free, especially when it is free ESGI,  the number one time-saver for early education teachers out there! So come on, and enter to save yourself 400 hours this school year. Remember to rate and review our podcast before August 7th. We will randomly draw a winner for a free year of ESGI! Meanwhile, sign up for your free trial using code B7227 and you will be ready to roll when you win! You can get going right now with those classroom needs like printing desk tags Using the classroom management tool. 

Because I love ESGI, and our readers, I have a second way for you to win. All those who sign up for a free trial using the code B7227 will be entered to win one of 10 TPT gift cards in addition to saving $40 off your subscription.

So if you are like me and your goal for this schoolyear is simplify, sign up for that free trial now, and head to itunes to rate and review our podcast!

Still not sure? Check out these previous post about ESGI magic.


Teach The Alphabet in Rythmn & Rhyme

If you know Kathleen Law, our contributor from Idaho, you know that she has always had tremendous success teaching her students the alphabet quickly. She is sharing her secret, The Alphabet Chant. This product has step -by-step directions of how to make an adorable book that will not only increase alphabet knowledge, is fun, but will be a treasured keepsake.

Enjoy this free Chant poster to get you going!


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Developing Fine Motor Skills and Glue Bottles

Developed fine motor skills are not only essential to complete everyday tasks such as eating, zipping, buttoning, and tying shoes, they are also necessary for the academic life of a early learner. Strong fine-motor skills are necessary for writing and cutting, and it is the job of educators to develop these skills.

One way to allow fine motor skills to develop is to use glue straight from the bottle. (Yes, I am anti glue sponges). Teaching students to use glue as glue should be used allows opportunity for independence, develops patience, and provides important strengthening of crucial fine motor skills that are imperative for hand strengthening and muscle development.

With opportunities for guided practice, young children can actually become very effective and efficient glue bottle users. And, all of the benefits that come with using glue bottle increases as hands develop and project advancement occurs. So, even though glue sponges may be less messy, (and in vogue), are these sponges helping in the development of young children? 


You can use any plain paper for gluing and cutting practice. If looking for something more strategic, the following product contains gluing, scissor and pencil practice for the young learner. It is great for glue bottle practice of "Just a Dot!" For developmental handwriting practice, you will love stick and curves!

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My First Days of Kindergarten Schedules

Each year I carefully plan the activities for the first days of school to make them not only productive days, fun days, but also  days that makes everyone want to return tomorrow! (Me included)

I have started the school year with many different themes. This year I plan to start the year with one of my favorites, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.

Following are my lesson plans for my first 5 days of school. *Note I have the first day twice because we have students A-L on day one and then repeat day one with M-Z before having the entire group for everyone's day 2. (My actual 3rd day of teaching). Confused? Well it works terrific!


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