"Beary" End of Year Gift

Although I consider myself a "crafty" person, I rarely find the time.  So to celebrate the end of the school year, I decided to make a cute little gift for my kindergarten team.

As it turns out, this craft was also incredibly cheap!  I purchased these glass bear jars from Amazon for a little over $1 each, and got the pink grapefruit gummy bears for about $10 for a five pound bag!  With the tags that I purchased from Michaels (Martha Stewart tags), all in all this project was less than $30 for 12 complete jars!


The bear jars were also very quick to put together.  I only spent about 20 minutes from beginning to end!  First, I cleaned the jars out and filled with gummy bears (any candy will do).  Then I printed the smaller gift tags (link to my gift tags FREEBIE here), cut them out, and glued them to Martha Stewart tags.  I then used gold craft string to attach the tags to the jars.  Done and done!  Enjoy!  :)

Lift-Off Lemon Star Freebie!

I'm a Star! Craftivity

If you've been following my teaching journey, you know how much I love and use Astrobrights in my classroom.  Recently, I've been given the amazing opportunity to help celebrate Astrobrights 50th Anniversary by creating a project for my (current) favorite color, Lift-Off Lemon!  Currently, Astrobrights is having a sweepstakes where you can win a $500 AmEx gift card by simply posting your Astrobrights pictures on Instagram!  Read all about Astrobrights' 50th Anniversary Sweepstakes rules here.

I've been using Lift-Off Lemon for everything from homework, flash cards, posters, and craftivities the past few years.  For this special collaboration, I decided to create something new.

With the end of kindergarten and our Open House (a night where students and their families come to see and celebrate all we have accomplished throughout the year) coming up, I wanted to create something to honor their success.

I created a three-dimensional star craftivity (click here for the PDF), where students drew and wrote about what makes them a "star" at the end of kindergarten.  We brainstormed ideas that make us unique as well as new abilities (being a reader, etc.). 

To create the project, I first printed stars on Lift-Off Lemon Astrobrights cardstock and had parent helpers cut out three stars per student (I wanted to ensure they were cut out properly so they matched up when we glued them together).  We then wrote and drew on the three stars, then I helped each student fold along the dotted line and glue.  The best glue for this was regular Elmer's School Glue.  After they dried, I cut out string (I alternated between 1 foot and 1.5 feet of string per star) and attached the stars with paperclips and hung from the ceiling.

My students absolutely loved this activity, and I loved how they turned out!  I will definitely be keeping this project for all future Open Houses.


I'm a Star! 3D Craftivity

Favorite Spring Resources

Spring is such a fun time in the primary classroom!  It's a time when the students are so capable and it's so rewarding as a teacher to see all of the wonderful things students can do.  Below are some of my favorite resources that I use in my kindergarten classroom during spring.  Enjoy!  :)

Interactive Read Alouds: "Mae Among the Stars"

Interactive read alouds are my absolute favorite time in the classroom.  An interactive read aloud is a purposeful and meaningful read aloud of a book.

When you do an interactive read aloud in your classroom: students are exposed to complex texts, students are developing high-level thinking, students are deepening their comprehension, students are expanding their vocabulary, and students are developing a love of books and becoming life-long readers.

An interactive read aloud also allows the teacher to model fluency and comprehension.


I like to choose my read alouds for their theme.  One of the newest books in my classroom library is Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed.  This is a great read when talking about perseverance.  Last week I created an interactive read aloud resource for this book.  This includes a full lesson plan for the interactive read aloud as well as writing prompts and pages.  Click on the image below to check it out!


Favorite Rhyming Books

Rhyming picture books are big in kindergarten classrooms.  The ability to recognize and produce rhyming words is a large part of phonological awareness (the skills that include identify and manipulating language and words) and an essential skill for early reading success.

Because I'm a big believer in early education and reading to babies from the first day you bring them home from the hospital, I hope this pin is helpful to parents looking for quality picture books to read with their littles.

I love all types of rhyming books.  Many in my classroom library focus on specific word families that we learn in kindergarten, but many just have a poetry-like rhythm that my students can't seem to get enough of.  When I read books with rhyming words or rhyming language, I like to pause intentionally before the rhyming word so that my students can "predict" the word that comes next.  This helps students to organically produce the rhyming words while using context clues from the story and the pictures to predict the word.

Read below the pin to see why I love these specific titles.  The links are just to Amazon--no affiliate links or rerouting.  :)

This is without a doubt my favorite Halloween read and quite possibly tops the list of rhyming books as well.  It's just a super fun story about a witch and the friendships she makes when they ask, "Is there room on the broom for a dog like me?".  I also highly recommend the animated version (on Netflix and Prime Video).

A true classic.  Madeline is a simple story about a little girl living in an orphanage and her adventurous spirit.  My students (both boys and girls) always seem to relate to Madeline--even though most don't know about orphans and orphanages.

Bear Sees Colors is a read aloud that I read the first week of every school year, and during summer school when I teach pre-kindergarten.  It would be perfect for little ones when learning colors.  I also use it for predictions--they are pretty obvious (especially for those that can already produce rhymes), but helps to reinforce the concept of predictions and my students confidence in participating.

This is another in the "Bear Books" series by Karma Wilson.  It's follows the story of our familiar friend bear and his hungry journey after waking up from his winter hibernation.  Bear and his friends are always a fave for kindergarten students.

Sheep in a Jeep is another popular series for kindergarten-aged students.  It's a classic, and even I can remember this one from my kindergarten days.  I also love using it when working on word work--I include both the rhyming words and the /sh/ digraph for challenge work.

Ok.  I LOVE this one.  Mostly because it has so many different word families that I can repeadely use it during word work and building CVC words.  I also highly recommend the follow-up title, "Dog on a Frog?".  Both are hilarious and my students can't help but giggle during this read aloud.

The Very Cranky Bear is not only a great rhyming read aloud, but also a super cute story about friendship and helping one another.  I also love describing the word "cranky" to my kindergarteners.

Gerald the giraffe can't dance, and his jungle friends just make fun of him because he tries.  By the end, he finds support from his friends and finds just the right music to help him dance.

I love this read.  The text is incredibly simple, and the pictures are so detailed and artistic.  I love reading this in the classroom, but it would be such a great read for younger kids at home.  The story follows a little girl who acts up and compares herself to various wild animals. 

This is a recent classic that so many parents already have at home.  It's a perfect bedtime story about  a construction site going to bed.  I would also encourage parents to get their students involved in their read alouds; have them read with you, produce rhyming words, and track the words as you read.

This is quite a popular series with many sequels.  Most recently they came out with "How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read?" that I bought at our Scholastic Book Fair.  I love how this book rhymes while discussing "unexpected" and "expected" behavior at school.

I LOVE The Gruffalo.  It actually may be tied with Room on the Broom for my top fave rhyming book.  This story is about a trickster mouse who walks through the forest avoiding predators by warning them of "The Gruffalo".  Little does he know, he's describing an actual animal that he soon faces.  There is also an animated version on Netflix and Amazon Prime that is a must-see.

This is a classic alphabet and rhyming book.  I love this also because there are so many activities and crafts that can go with this read aloud.

I love this read aloud because the text is so simple that it can serve as a mentor text during writer's workshop.  The story follows a boy who explores animals around a freshwater pond.

I have read this book even in sixth grade when working on back-to-school "get-to-know-you" activities.  I love how it's a story about a boy sharing his summer vacation adventures that get just a little exaggerated.

Of course a rhyming book list wouldn't be complete with at least one Dr. Seuss read.  I wanted to only choose one, and this one is probably my favorite.  I love how the cover says this is a book "to read aloud to find out how smart your tongue is".  I always ask my students if they think Dr. Suess will "trick" my tongue.

And that's a wrap!  It was tricky for me to come up with my top faves--what are your favorite rhyming read alouds?

Sight Words

Sight words are words that cannot be "sounded out" phonetically, and are also words that occur most often in print (similar to high-frequency words).  Sight words are taught as a whole by sight, so students can automatically read and recognize the words in print.  When I introduce a new word as a whole group, I use the "read-spell-write" routine.  First we read the word together many times, then spell it.  As we spell the word, I tap under each letter for the students (if they had their own flash cards or words, I would have them do it on their own).  Finally, we "air write" the word together (holding our pointer fingers up and writing it in the air).  All of these activities can be easily done in small group or one-on-one.

There are many different lists of sight words out there.  Over the years, I have used Dolch lists (mostly pre-primer and primer), lists from my adopted curriculum, and lists from my district.  Currently, I use a combination of all of these lists when I teach sight words in my classroom.  I explicitly teach about 60 sight words throughout the year, and have extra lists and sets for students after they have mastered what I teach.

To stay organized with my sight word instruction, I created a filing system that is organized by word as opposed to activity.  This helps me greatly because I can easily find an activity for each word when I introduce them.  I keep the words in alphabetical order for easy access.  Of course I had to use neon hanging folders; I found some great ones at Office Depot.

Three of the resources I keep in my sight word bin are my Sight Word Practice Pages, my Sight Word Bracelets, and my Sight Word Mini Books.  I use all of these activities on consecutive days, and may not use all three given the difficulty of the word.  These resources all have different purposes.  The Sight Word Practice Pages are great when first introducing the word.  They have students practice reading, spelling, tracing, and writing the word all on one page.  I also added a sight word bracelet at the bottom of the page as an option.  The Sight Word Bracelets are for going on sight word hunts in the classroom and at home.  Students trace and rainbow write the words, then wear them on their wrist for easy access and practice.  Finally, the Sight Word Mini books are intended to reinforce writing the words.

Happy reading!  :)

DIY Letter Wands

My students always LOVE using pointers in the classroom.  We use them for concepts of print practice (pointing to different parts of the books/words/letters), to track words when reading in big books (these pointers are too big to point to words in regular-sized books), to go on letter and sight word hunts around our classroom, to point to letters and words in pocket charts, and to use on our SmartBoard.  I also like to call them wands--I just find that word more fun--and my students agree!

I decided to make letter wands to use when teaching letter recognition, letter sounds, and beginning sounds.  Because I want to use these for letter sounds, I'm using lowercase letters (when I have time, I'll probably end up making uppercase wands as well, and only use them for letter recognition).  The best part of this project is that the final product only cost $16 total!

To begin, I needed wooden letters.  My search began with looking for small(ish) wooden letter blocks that I would end up spray painting in neon colors.  I quickly realized this would be quite expensive and time-consuming, so I rerouted my search to wooden letter puzzles.  I happened upon these amazing wooden letter puzzles from Amazon (duh!) for $11.99 (no tax + free shipping).  They are the perfect size for kindergarten pointers and they are already painted!
For the "wand" part, I bought 30 wood dowels (1/4" diameter 12" long) from Joann's for $1.49 a pack.  I can't find them online, so here is a picture of what I purchased:
Attaching the wood dowels to the wood letters was easy!  I simply drilled a small hole (with a 1/4" drill bit) into the bottom of each letter, added a dot of wood glue, inserted the dowel, and allowed them to dry for a few hours.  That's it!  I definitely recommend using a drill bit that is exactly 1/4" wide; there is really no room for error.  Too small and the dowel won't fit, too large and the dowel will fall out.  The

I'm so excited to have these letter wands ready for the first day of kindergarten.  I have 24 students this year, so having 26 letter wands will allow for each friend to have their own wand (and a couple extra for Miss Morgan).  For the Letter Wands label, click here (I also included a "Letter Pointers" version).  The jar I put them in is from Target, and can be found here.  Enjoy!  :)