Making a Felt Board with My Cricut Explore Air 2



This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.

Who knew you could easily DIY a homemade felt board with (mostly) materials you already have at home?  I say easily because I still consider myself a novice Cricut creator, and the entire project took me about two hours from start to finish (including the design in Cricut Design Space!).  For this project, I used my Cricut Explore Air 2 and my Cricut StrongGrip mat.

Weeks ago, I found an old poster-sized frame that I have kept for nearly two decades.  In my teens, I bought it to display a poster of Johnny Depp.  Since then, it's had a few coats of paint and seen a few different pieces of art in a few different homes.  But this one is by far my fave.  Sorry, Johnny.

To start the project, I took apart the frame and spray painted it satin black.  It just needed two quick coats and was quick to dry.  I then recycled the glass to make the frame lighter.  For the felt backing, I used black (black is usually my go-to for bulletin boards and display areas) to make the letters really pop.  I found a yard of black acrylic felt on Amazon for relatively cheap.  For the backing, you really can use any felt of any color or material.  I cut the felt to-size right on the frame backing then attached it all together.  I love the monotone of the frame and the felt.

For the letters, I have read that certain felt works best to cut on a Cricut.  Of course, Cricut sells some made for the machines that would be best.  Second to Cricut, I've read that wool felt works well.  I bought a rainbow (duh) pack of wool felt from Amazon from Benzie Designs (also available on their website and Etsy).  I then cut the pieces in half, as I wouldn't be needing the entire sheet of felt for this project.

I designed this project in groups of four to five letters at a time to easily use different colors.  Although Cricut has a FabricGrip mat made specifically for fabric, I just used the StrongGrip mat and it worked fine (although the felt stuck to it, so I'm not sure how many more projects I'll be able to use it for).   To cut just one group of letters at a time (this would only be needed if you want to do rainbow colors), I hid the other groups as I cut (to the right in Design Space--click the eyes open or closed by each cut group).  I set the machine settings one notch beyond the "Bonded Fabric" setting and just used the blade already in my machine.  To my surprise, it all came out super easy and I did not need to use scissors or a knife to get any letters apart.

To finish, I lined up all of my letters in the center of the board using the hearts (included in the design) to off-set the groups with less or more letters. 

If you are wanting to make an alphabet felt board of your own, but don't have a poster-sized frame, simply edit the design in Design Space to make the letters and hearts smaller.  You can also use any felt board you already have or make a bulletin board out of felt directly on the wall.

I absolutely LOVE the way this project turned out and think it will make an amazing addition to any classroom, playroom, or home.  If you make one of your own, I would love to see it!  Tag me on Instagram @missmskindergarten.

Happy crafting!

<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://lnk2.io/yDjMwFQ" />




Kindergarten Summer Practice


As a teacher, the "summer slide" is always one of my fears.  We work so hard for ten months out of the year to get our kindergarteners reading, writing, adding, and subtracting.  And many times, our students do not keep up with their newfound skills over the summer.  This makes for a backward "slide" in reading levels and academic abilities.

And this year, I anticipate it being even worse.  The "COVID slide" is five months of missed classroom instruction; much more than the typical two months of summer.

So to provide my students and their families with meaningful summer activities, I created my Summer Kindergarten Handbook.  It includes 11 essential end-of-kindergarten skills to continue practicing during the summer.  In the beginning of each section, I included a parent instruction page that explains the skill, why it is important, how to practice it, and extra tips to make learning fun.  The skills included are: reading, finding just right books, sight words (Fry 101-200 words), writing sentences, digraphs, long vowels, reading CVC words, nonsense word fluency, addition fluency, subtraction fluency, and numbers to 120.

I printed these books, bound them, and delivered them to my students in a fun "summer swag bag" filled with various other fun things like Play Doh, bubbles, and books.

And this year, I had a lot of students that were loving writing at home, so I also created some Creative Writing Prompts to send home in addition to the handbook.  I added this to my summer HyperDoc for parents to print and use as they wish, along with my FREE Summer Reading Log for extra reading motivation.


Reading Wands

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cricut. All opinions are 100% mine.

https://design.cricut.com/landing/project-detail/5e755b7a738fc506a0f6c476

Learning to can be such a tricky skill, but there are so many ways to make it more engaging.  When students begin to read sentences in books, it's important that they "track" (point) to each word as they read.  This helps to slow them down and to focus on each word.

To help with this, I made some "reading wands" with my new Cricut!  The wands can be used in two ways: to track words, and for letter or word hunts!  To use for word hunts, the wands can be placed over words or letters (pictured above) as opposed to pointing to words.

They were SUPER easy to create.  I just used regular 8.5" x 11" cardstock that I had at home with the light grip mat.  

And the design is in Cricut Design Space for free!  Click here to access the reading wands.  

Enjoy!  :)

FREE Kindergarten Resources

I am sharing a variety of resources that can be sent home or electronically shared with parents during this difficult time of "remote learning".  Some of these resources are paid products that I temporarily changed to a freebie, and some are always free.  To check out my full library of free resources on Teachers Pay Teachers, click here.

This opinion writing unit can be done by most kindergarteners independently at this time of year.  I like to teach them how to answer both questions using the word "because" e.g. "Dogs are my favorite pet because they are snuggly".  

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Handwriting-Alphabet-Charts-4813792
 I love these alphabet charts because it shows students and parents the correct path-of-motion of the letters.  These can also be used as individual practice pages to practice all letters at once.  Homes without printers can also use this as a guide to practice on regular paper or notebooks.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/First-Grade-Sight-Word-Slides-5326519
I use these slideshows in the classroom to practice sight words.  They can be used just like flash cards, but without the paper.  Or play the slides and have students practice on their own.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/How-to-Read-a-Picture-Book-4680585
This is one of my favorite free resources.  I send this home and keep it in book bags in the beginning of the year, before my students are readers.  I have parents use this to guide their home reading of picture books.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Just-Right-Reading-Freebie-3176670
These bookmarks and posters make a great home reference on how to choose a "just right" book.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Can-Read-100-Books-Reading-Incentive-5326747
I just made this for my own students during our remote learning.  I'll have them bring them in when we return and celebrate all of the reading we did at home.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/3D-Shape-Worksheets-3135385

I use these practice pages to supplement my math curriculum when we learn about 3D shapes.  It also includes a 3D shape hunt that will be perfect for students to do while at home.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Teen-Number-Practice-Pages-3505995
Teen numbers are one of the trickiest math concepts for my kindergarten students.  I added this to my remote learning so students can continue working on their numbers.

I hope these resources help to make your new role as a "remote" teacher a little easier!  Be sure to follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store for more freebies, sales, and new products:



Favorite Thanksgiving Resources

Thanksgiving Resources
Thanksgiving in the kindergarten classroom is such a fun time of the year.  It's when we get to talk about gratitude and all of the people, places, and things we are thankful for (although gratitude is something we talk about often, it is more of a daily conversation in November).

Thanksgiving Place Mat
Without a doubt, my favorite resource is my Thanksgiving Placemat.  I print them on tabloid-sized (11" x 17") cardstock and my students paint with watercolor and draw their family in the middle.  They turn out so cute, and end up a family favorite.  This year, I also added a regular-sized (8.5" x 11") option for easier printing.  Before sending home, I laminate, roll up, and tie with ribbon.

Another resource I love to send home as a family project are my Turkey in Disguise Family Project.  Most families complete them and get so creative!  My students love sharing their disguised turkeys with all of their friends in class.  It's so cute.

Gratitude Books
New this year are my Gratitude Books that I made to easily fit in the Target Blank Books.  Each page has a designated topic to write or draw about what we are thankful for (people at home, friends, favorite animal, etc.).  If they don't get finished before Thanksgiving, we will just keep them and send them home before winter break--because gratitude is always in season. 

And finally, is it really even Thanksgiving in kindergarten if we don't do a turkey hand print poem?  Nope.  So, add that to the list.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

Favorite Back-to-School Resources

Kindergarten Back-to-School Resources



Out of all of the resources that I have made for my classroom over the years, these resources are my absolute favorite for back-to-school.  They have all come out of years of classroom experience, routines, and student needs.  I hope you find them all useful as well!


Following the success and enthusiasm I received for my Kindergarten Readiness Handbook, I decided I needed to make a condensed version that focused only on essential literacy skills.  Ideally, I hand out my Kindergarten Readiness Handbook in the spring when I meet next year's crew.  This gives them between six and three months to work through the handbook and practice all of the skills to help ensure kindergarten success.  However, not all of my incoming students come to our Spring Visits, and I have a large number of students who move to the area during the summer.  So I created this book for those students and give it to them the first week of school.  If I feel necessary, I will also quickly conference with their parents to review the goals and standards. 

The Kindergarten Back-to-School Handbook focuses on essential beginning of kindergarten literacy skills: letter recognition, pencil grip, handwriting, name practice, concepts of print, letter sounds, beginning sounds, rhyming sounds, and syllable counting.

 

Since I began student teaching in kindergarten over a decade ago, I loved creating pages for our yearly memory book.  And for the better part of that decade, my pages were all mismatched and poorly put together.  So this summer a big goal of mine was to complete a uniform yearly memory book for the upcoming year. 

I could not be happier with the result: my Kindergarten Memory Book.  When I shared it with my partner teacher, her enthusiasm was all I needed to know it was exactly what we were looking for.  What makes this memory book different is that it spans the ENTIRE year.  All together, it has over 80 pages with specific pages for all 12 months.  For each month, we have one self-portrait and writing page.  Those end up being my favorite pages, as it so clearly showcases how much my students have grown over the year.


Over the years, I have gone through more number posters than I'd like to admit.  And last spring, I created two sets that my students use more than I've ever seen before.  They are large, stand out, and easily accessible to all students no matter where they are in the classroom.

My Number Poster Cut-Outs are a set of zero through 20 posters that have the number word and corresponding stars to count.

My Number Handwriting Posters are a set of zero through nine posters that have the number word, corresponding stars, and path-of-motion numbers and arrows for students just learning how to write their numbers.

Both sets are large and come in both English and Spanish.

 

Proper pencil and scissor grips are always at the top of mind when using these skills in the beginning of kindergarten.  And it never ceases to amaze me the horrible (or worse--nonexistent) habits kindergarteners can get before stepping foot into my classroom. 

My Pencil Grip resource was created last fall when I realized that parents could not help their student's grip at home if they didn't know how it was being taught in class.  And we all know how incapable a five-year-old is at clearly communicating what their teacher actually said in the classroom.

My Scissor Grip resource was created after some great parent feedback for my Pencil Grip resource.  And lets be honest--scissor grips are even harder than pencil grips.  And as of this summer, both resources come in both English and Spanish and also include tabloid-sized classroom posters!


It seems like every fall I end up creating different handwriting practice pages.  And this fall is no different.  But in my defense, I have a brand new phonics curriculum and wanted my handwriting pages to correspond.  So enter my Phonics Set Handwriting pages.  I love them because they are quick-and-easy with lots of tracing practice, the path of motion, and can be cut in half or we can get through two letters at once.

For math, a few years ago I created these Number Handwriting Pages that have numbers one through 20, are differentiated for different levels, and also come in Spanish.  I still use them throughout the year in kindergarten.


A pet peeve of mine was students off-task and disengaged during word work.  I attributed this to the inability to write, and the white boards that were so enticing to draw on.  So I created my Rainbow Word Work Mats to eliminate both problems.  With the magnetic letters, students do not need to have the fine motor handwriting skills necessary to write.  And without a white board and marker, students are unable to draw on the boards.  And as an added bonus, they can use them to create their own words, to spell sight words, to practice ABC order, and more!  I love using them during word work, small groups, and even during my English Language Development block.

Organizing My Units of Study in Phonics Set

 

I love using the workshop model in my classroom, and I have been waiting years for Lucy Calkins to come out with Units of Study in Phonics.  Last school year, some amazing kindergarten and first grade teachers in my district took on the role of piloting.  And in May, I finally got my hands on the set.  I'm SO excited.

But while I'm the most organized person I know, the thought of organizing the set seemed incredibly daunting.  So I ignored it for over two months.  Business as usual.

As I'm now starting to feel the stress of back-to-school, and even more so, back-to-school with brand new curriculum--organizing the set has become a quick priority.

I've searched online and talked to friends who've already taken the task on, but I haven't necessarily been excited about what I've seen.  Everything shows five full-sized filing bins; one for each unit.  Makes sense, but selfishly I don't want to have to find space for five bins.  So I broke it down into two bins and a small tote for the small group resources.  The first bin has grade level resources, unit one and unit two.  The second bin has units three through five.

For the file folders, I went with my fave Pendaflex Glow Hanging File Folders (I needed four sets of 25 folders).  Of course any old file folders will work, and I probably could have found enough in my classroom to get the job done.  But I'm persnickety and {needed} neon.  Bonus--they match with all of my Astrobrights and neon sticky notes.  Winning.

For the bins, I ordered two generic black file crates and a mobile file box for the small group resources (to be portable around my classroom).  To enhance the portability for my small group resources, I found plastic file jackets in the same neon colors as the file folders.  Again...winning.

All in all I paid about $125 for the supplies I purchased.  Definitely not a cheap project, but most of these can probably be found around your classroom or school for free.

With the supplies I purchased, I used five different colors of Post-Its (pink, orange, yellow, green, and blue) and cardstock to print the sticky notes and bin labels.  I didn't use the file folder labels because it just takes too long to print and cut the labels to fit.  So I went with my File Folder Sticky Note Labels {you can find an editable version here}.  It's super easy--just print the template, cover with sticky notes, print the labels you need, and stick.  I also love how they are bigger and easier to find what I need.

To get my Phonics Set Sticky Note Labels for F R E E, click here!  

Once I received all of my supplies, it only took me about two hours to print and organize my entire Units of Study in Phonics curriculum.  So easy.  Happy organizing!