Learning the Alphabet {Part 1}

Back when I was teaching Kindergarten, one of my favorite things to teach was the alphabet.  I loved the daily routine of practicing letter sounds, letter identification, and letter formation.  I strived to find a way to make letter learning fun and interactive.

Here are some of my favorites!

This letter learning game is from a collection of learning games that I have in my TpT shop.  This is a student favorite!  The popsicle stick with the star is hidden inside the ice cream bar (the bottom is left open when assembling).  I hold up 4-5 target letters, and the children have to name the letter (and/or sound) to guess which ice cream bar has the star popsicle stick.

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These magnetic spinners are so fun! I found mine on Amazon.  These are fun and easy to use as a quick time filler because it takes hardly any prep.   Simply write a few target letters on your whiteboard and have children take turns spinning the spinner and naming the letter.  This whiteboard is portable so I would often hold it at the door during dismissal, and the children would spin and name the letter before they left.

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Alphabear is a fun sung that I wrote just to add a little more fun in the day!  Download it for FREE here!

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The Letter Factory is an oldie, but a goodie!  These were my absolute favorite to use everyday during our morning meeting.  We would warm up our brains using these cards and listening to the Letter Factory song.  I would also use Visual Phonics to help kids make a kinesthetic connection to the letters.  I am not sure if these cards are still available, I got them probably 10 years ago in a boxed set, but you can find the Letter Factory video here.image

This is just a simple twist on a “BANG” game.  I programmed letters on popsicle sticks and added a few “BANG” sticks in as well.  We pass the can in the circle and the child with the can pulls out a stick.  He/she reads the letter and/or sound and places it in the center of the circle.  By placing it in the center of the circle, it becomes a TEAM game rather than an individual game.  If they read the letter incorrectly, the stick goes back in the can.  If they pull out a BANG stick, all the sticks go back in the can.  The twist on this game is the SOCK.  It is a game changer! Kids can’t peek and pull out letter they know or search for that BANG stick!

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This game works the same was as BANG, but it’s called SNAP!  Children reach in the container (an empty dishwasher pod detergent container) and pull out a letter , they say the letter/sound and put it in the center.  If they get a SNAP card, they all go back in! You can find this game here!

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Bubble Pop is an ALL TIME FAVORITE!  We play this game in small groups, and it is played like the card game SLAP JACK!  The children absolutely adore this fast paced letter learning game.  Snag it here!

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If you’re looking for more fun and easy alphabet games check out this pack!

ABC Come Learn With Me! 8 Fun Games for the Alphabet

Meet the Teacher Night!

open house fixed

In our school district, we hold our open house/meet the teacher night before school has started.  Families have a time frame of 2 hours to come to school, look around, meet their new teachers and drop off their supplies.  I like to make it as quick and easy as possible for them!

When I first started teaching, I would have parents fill out ALL the paperwork.  I did this for many years until I finally wised up!  I realized that the only thing that was important to me that night was to know how their child was going to go home on the first day of school.

open house 6Parents fill out the bright pink form at open house and that’s it!  They can spend their time visiting with me and helping their child put away their supplies.

Inside the white folder are a variety of things that they can take home, read, and fill out for school the next week.

open house2Here is a breakdown of what is inside the folder.  It can change slightly from year to year, but this is the gist of it!

open house11.  Money bag – we like to use real money for our math explorations.  We ask parents to send in a variety of coins at the beginning of the year.  At the end of the year, we use this money for a little treat!

2. Donors Choose photo release – I write a variety of grants throughout the year, so I like to have this one done and ready to go at the beginning of the year.

3. Family directory form – I put together a class directory of contact information for families to plan play dates, birthday parties, and so on.

4. All About Me Bag – I love this activity from Kindergarten Squared.  Kids will bring their bag back throughout the week, and it is a great time filler for the first week of school.  We share a few a day.  It’s a wonderful way for children to get to know each other and practice those ever important speaking and listening standards.

5. Getting to Know Your Child -  I love this questionnaire from Growing Firsties.   It gives me a little glimpse into how a parent views their child’s academics.  We meet for our first goal setting conference in October, but this gives me a bit of an idea of how each child learns best.

I also include a variety of papers for families to keep at home.

I make a teacher contact magnet with information on how to join our class using REMIND, my e-mail, and my Twitter info.  I also put together an information flip book.  This includes the most important information that I think parents need to know right away at the beginning of the year. I also include the lunch menu and the student’s lunch number to practice before school starts.

open house 4While parents are filling out the transportation form, the kiddos start to empty out their supplies around the room.  I make a slideshow using Google Presentation with all the necessary information for families.  There are only about 5 slides.  I don’t want families doing too much because most have other classrooms to go to!

open house 5Most of our supplies are community supplies (like glue, markers, crayons, etc.) and they dump them in the labeled bins. 

The supplies that aren’t shared go in their supply drawers.

open house7My classroom has choice seating so children are constantly changing seats.  They keep the majority of their personal supplies in these drawers.  I was lucky enough to have these supplied for me in my classroom.

open house 8I really wanted kids to be successful and independent putting their supplies away so I put together a sample drawer.  Not all of these items stay in their drawers.  I just want them all in there at open house so I can label them with their names later on.  The only things that stay in the drawer are their pencil box, 1 binder, and 1 folder.  I add a glue stick, crayons, and an eraser to their pencil box.  The rest of their supplies are stored elsewhere around the room.

open house3I hope this was helpful to you!  I love meeting the new kiddos in my room, and having everything completely organized allows me to interact more with kids and families in the short time they are in my room.

Do you have any tips or tricks for open house?  Leave a comment below and share the knowledge!

The Old Kid On the Block

Whoa.  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I’m not going to apologize for the lack of blog posts.  Or not posting on Instagram.  Or even not making TpT products.  I took some time off.  A LONG time off.  I needed a social media break.  This whole blogging thing just got to be too much for me.  But, I want to rewind a bit – way back to 2010 when I first started this blogging gig.  I thought I might give you a little background as to how this all got started.

So, step into your time machine – here goes.  In 2010, I was teaching Kindergarten and working on my master’s degree.  My advisor wanted me to start thinking of what I wanted to do for my final project.  I had the brilliant (I thought) idea of starting a literacy blog.  My plan was to blog about my literacy teaching (since I was getting my master’s in Reading Education) and reflecting along the way.  I thought it was a great idea! My advisor did not. 

Well, by this time, I had already made quite a few blog posts, and had gained a pretty large following.  I was enjoying what I was doing – sharing with other teachers – so I kept going.  Pretty soon, I had thousands of hits a day.  I was amazed that teachers actually wanted to peek into my classroom.  I mean, I’m just an ordinary Kindergarten teacher from North Dakota – I was doing what everyone else was doing, right?

I started to make connections with other bloggers.  There weren’t very many of us out there at the time, so we all became pretty close.  Then this thing called Teachers Pay Teachers popped up on my radar.  So, I decided to give it a go.  Holy smokes.  People wanted to BUY what I was making? 

But, it got to be too much.   I had to take a step back.  I was spending too much time on my computer, and not enough time with my family.  In the time that I’ve been “gone”, I’ve changed schools twice, opened a brand new, beautiful school, and changed grade levels.  I’ve focused on my family (my girls are 15 and 10 now!) and the students that I have every day.

Now I’m back.  Ready to start again.  But,  this whole blogging world, and TpT has changed.  BIG TIME.  All of a sudden, we need to have “pin worthy” photographs, videos, Facebook Lives, Instagram Stories.  Hold up.  That’s NOT me. I completely respect and even envy the people that can do that, my life is too jam packed.  I don’t have hours in the day to spend doing those things – I work a full time job, and I have a full time family.  This is a side-gig!

I’m not sure if I’m doing anything in the classroom that you want to see, but I’m going to do my best to start showing you again.  I won’t have videos or pin-worthy photos.  Just simple, plain ideas.  So, if you want that, stick around – if you like what you’re reading, tell a friend!  That’s how this whole thing got started anyways – not Pinterest, not Instagram, not even Facebook! 

Thank you readers, for your support and kindness over the past 7 years.  I appreciate every kind word and message you have ever sent.  I will do my best to give you a peek into my classroom, and maybe make a few things along the way!