Every year I love teaching my students about Thanksgiving. I teach them songs and funny poems all month. We talk about traditions from the past that are still here in the present. Students perform for their families on stage or in the front of the classroom. We invite the parents to bring food in after the performance and share our classwork with them during the feast. After having many teachers ask me to share my play, I decided to write it out step by step to help them learn the program without having to have me right there beside them. I wrote every detail! It has sign language, poems, posters, programs, editable invitations, headbands for pilgrims, Native Americans, turkeys and so much more! It includes music by Jack Hartmann with his special permission. Check it out if you want your class to shine this holiday season!
Fall is one of my favorite times of year! Not only does the weather feel nice, but the fall activities for Halloween are so much fun for children and adults to participate in during this season. Here are some ideas for family fun crafts or classroom centers when you are celebrating the holiday. This is my sweet daughter sporting a spider hat she personalized with a bow. There is also a witch hat a child could add. I let my students go outside and gather fall leaves. Then they use the leaves to paint and press to drawing paper to make leaf prints. You can add writing to it to hit some more standards. Want some low prep or no prep simple centers? Check out the Halloween Centers Pack full of fun ideas like puppets, books, letter id games, pumpkin math, and so much more. Another fun activity is for the students to read Where’s my Mummy by Carolyn Crimi. You can find the story on You Tube, if you don’t have the book. Have students make their own mummy and use the printable to help them make a Text to Self connection after reading the book. It makes a cute bulletin board or window display for your parents to enjoy! No matter what have fun with the children!
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Primary students learn when best using all their senses. I always like to provide a hook for each math lesson. The hook can be a simple two minute video, a short puppet show, a physical object that connects the learner to the lesson and much more. Then, I like to get them moving before they have to sit and do an activity. Counting jumping jacks or hops supports the skill of counting while getting their blood pumping. In kindergarten, it is so important for students to have a strong foundation of numbers in order to prepare them for many life skills and their school future. Here are some fun and cute printables to help guide your students to understanding counting and cardinality.
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Teachers are gearing up for a great school year! I moved from first grade to kindergarten this year and had to move rooms. Well, after teaching for almost 20 years, let’s just say I had a lot of stuff. I threw out a lot and gave good stuff away to the new teachers. When I arrived to set up my new class, all my items were piled high in the center of the room. I had NO CLUE where to start and just stared at the pile for about 10 minutes. Then, I did a Facebook Live video and got lots of sympathy, which motivated me to make my room into a “Learning Oasis.” I don’t even know why those words came out of my mouth on the video, but they did fly out like a bee attracted to Grandma’s perfume! So, I’m going to show you my before and after photos AND offer you 20% ALL DAY at my Teachers Pay Teachers store on Labor Day, so you can start your school year off right! Thank you for teaching students (even the difficult ones.) You all inspire me to keep making new products. It’s because of all the dedicated teachers out there working hard that our society will expand into a caring community of self-motivated learners. Have a great year!
You can see my Interactive Word Wall under the clock.
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Making a great Open House for parents is actually pretty easy with all the tools and technology today. I like to use simple scavenger hunts for students to help show their parents around the room. Taking pictures of families helps keep you busy and not be too available for any “parent conference” type of conversations. I direct parents to the conference sign up sheets. I also don’t let volunteers come in the room until after Open House. In kindergarten, this helps the kids learn the routine without relying on parents. Some teachers create easy slideshows to show rules, routines or student’s pictures. I usually have a few All About Me items out, including an All About Me Journal where the parents are encouraged to sit and write a note to their child at the end of the night. Students make Mini Me Persons that I tape to their chairs that help the room look adorable! Smile a lot, and show off what you have helped their children learn in the short amount of time they have been with you.
Students in primary grade levels need all the help they can get at their finger tips. Desk name tags have always been used to help students discover how to spell their name with proper handwriting. I prefer to use tags that students can use in lessons as a reference. Tags that have the alphabet, numbers, colors and show right vs. left are some of my favorite useful tools to have at my student’s reach. We sing the alphabet and students point to each letter. We do the same with the numbers, colors and hands. I’m so glad that I waited a week to put the kid’s names on these tags because we were over-crowded and added a new unit in Kindergarten this year. What kinds of desk tags do you use in your classroom?
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Starting school for some students can be a rough transition. I have seen temper tantrums, full day crying episodes and disengagement from learning because they can’t stop thinking about home. These students do need some extra attention. To make the day smoother for all parties involved, I have a few tricks I’ll share with you to help ease the process.
- First let the student and parent know that these reactions and emotions are normal. Every student adjusts differently to beginning school. Also, let them know there are steps each person can take help make school a positive experience.
- A parent can try some role-play at home. Use puppets or stuffed animals and have them act out coping strategies. For example, “Lizzy doesn’t want to leave mom and go to school. What can she do to make herself feel better when she is gone? Maybe talk to the teacher or counselor.”
- Parents need to make their “Goodbyes” quick. This is the MOST important advice I give parents. If a child sees you are upset too, or hanging around the class window, it validates their fear.
- Parents should attend Meet Your Teacher events and visit the school for a tour prior to school beginning. Knowing your environment helps calms everyone’s fears.
- Teachers can also do role play and other activities to let the whole class know how to solve normal stress in school. Ask other students how they deal with being away from home. The first week of school, you can read The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. Then, I send a home connection activity where parents add a picture and personal sweet message to their child. We refer to it all year, as needed.
- Let children talk about their fears.
- Have a “Safe Place” in your class, where a student can go when they are upset. Have calming breathing exercises, or some stress balls there for them to focus on to distract them from their fear.
- Read books about other kids starting school. The Night Before Kindergarten or Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten are great books.
Do you want your students to SHINE this year? Children are so adorable when they are performing for others! This is a school play I’ve used with my whole grade level on our school’s stage. You can modify it to just your classroom. Whatever fits your needs. Jack Hartmann, one of my favorite musicians in education, has three songs in this play that your students can sing along to while making those parents snap photos! You can find his music HERE. If you are lucky to live in Florida, he will come to your school to perform. He is magical with students! There are 70 pages loaded with easy to follow step-by-step directions. You will also find signs for the students to hold, headbands, editable invitations, editable programs, poems, sign language and tips. It is nice to have parents stay after to eat lunch with their child. This way you can get them in to see the student’s classwork. It is loaded with suggestions to help you be successful. I hope your parents enjoy it as much as mine do!
If you like this one, I also have an ocean themed play I like to use at the end of the school year.