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Fall Themed Art: Whoooo’s ready for fall?

Who else loves teaching art? I don’t know what it is but kindergarten art is just so precious! They’re not worried about making things perfect, they’re just interested in getting it done and doing it their way. Even when I show them a model, they use their creativity to the max and I LOVE it!

Do you need a fall themed art project that looks awesome on your bulletin board? Read about the project I did with my class. Not only is it simple but it's super easy to prep!

Whoooo’s ready for fall?

I found this owl, fall themed art project on teacherspayteachers and I love how it turned out! This project is super easy to prep, has simple directions and the kids loved using feathers and googly eyes! If you’re in need of a fall themed art project, this one is for you!

Do you need a fall themed art project that looks awesome on your bulletin board? Read about the project I did with my class. Not only is it simple but it's super easy to prep!

Prep

Print out the master copies and pull the construction paper colors you need. I used brown, tan, yellow and orange.

Gather or purchase all materials. Here are some materials you may need.

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Directions

  1. Students cut out owl outline, tummy, beak and feet. I gave every piece to my students at once and displayed my model so they could see what piece goes where.
  2. Then, students glue their owl pieces together.
  3. I had students come to my table when they were finished gluing and choose 5 feathers. They had the choice to use different colors or all the same color.
  4. Students glue their feathers on and add googly eyes (use liquid glue).
  5. The owls are complete!

Bulletin Board

When your students are all finished with the project put their cute owls up on your bulletin board. Here is some inspiration!

Do you need a fall themed art project that looks awesome on your bulletin board? Read about the project I did with my class. Not only is it simple but it's super easy to prep!

You might like to read about another art project I do in the beginning of the school year: tissue art.

Give Students Responsibility: Classroom Jobs

My students absolutely LOVE to have responsibility. They’re always asking what they can do or if they can help, which is why I love my classroom jobs. Each week, students get a new classroom job where they can be responsible for a certain part of our class. Some jobs have a lot to do and others get little action.

Read how to give students some work around the classroom through giving them classroom jobs.

Classroom Jobs: An Overview

Each year, I try to come up with a job for every student to do each week. I like when everyone has a job, even if the job is “substitute” or “on vacation” because it makes it easier to switch and manage the jobs. My jobs are hung on a ribbon that hangs near the front of my classroom. I clip a clothes pin with each student’s name on each of the jobs to keep track of who is responsible for what job for the week. When it’s time to switch jobs, I simply rotate the clips around the job display.

Read how to give students some work around the classroom through giving them classroom jobs.

This year, my jobs include:

  • Board Eraser
  • Caboose
  • Calendar Monitor
  • Hand Sanitizer Monitor
  • King or Queen of the Jungle (which is our jungle equivalent to Star of the Week)
  • Librarian
  • Lights Monitor
  • Line Leader
  • Lunch Monitor
  • Messenger
  • On Vacation
  • Paper Passer
  • Place Value
  • Substitute
  • Table Wiper
  • Teacher’s Assistant
  • Weather Reporter

Items you might want for your classroom job system…

 

The Specifics

I’ve organized this list into jobs that have a lot of activity (busy jobs) and jobs that are more low key (slow jobs).

Busy Jobs

  • Teacher’s Assistant: This person helps out whenever I need some extra help. I have them do things like turn on my SmartBoard, help the paper passer and anything else that might come up where I need to pick a student to do a special job.
  • Star of the Week: Self explanatory, they are the star all week! Check out my star of the week Jungle resource here.
  • Line Leader: Front of the line.
  • Caboose: Back of the line.
  • Hand Sanitizer: This person gives each student a small squirt of hand sanitizer before snack and lunch.

Read how to give students some work around the classroom through giving them classroom jobs.

  • Librarian: The librarian puts books away. I have two purple bins that students put their books in when they are done with them. Each book has a sticker color that correlates with a color on a bin in the library. The librarian matches the book sticker to the bin sticker and places the book inside the bin.
  • Lights Monitor: Turns the lights on and off.
  • Paper Passer: Self-explanatory
  • Table Wiper: Helps wipe the tables off at the end of the day. No germs in my class!

Slow Jobs

  • On Vacation: This person gets to take a break for the week: no job!
  • Board Eraser: The board eraser gets to erase the board or SmartBoard after a lesson.
  • Messenger: This person delivers any messages or items to other classrooms or the office. Also, if a student needs help going to the office, they can bring them there.
  • Lunch Monitor: Checks to see if all lunch boxes are put away after lunch and before we go home.
  • Substitute (depends on if a lot of students are absent that week): This person does a job if a student is absent.

The other jobs are specific jobs to circle time so they are relatively busy since they have a job to do each morning, but their job is done once circle is over. Read about my circle time routine here.

Resources

Check out my bright chevron classroom jobs resource here. Of if you have a jungle theme like me, check out the jungle jobs here!

 Classroom Jobs

What kind of jobs do you use in your classroom?

Guided Reading: The Ins and Outs

Guided Reading

Guided reading is one of my absolute favorite times of the day! I love that students are broken into groups, working at their level, being independent, and getting the individualized attention that they need.

The Curriculum

My school uses the Fountas and Pinnel program for guided reading, but there are many programs out there, including some on teacherspayteachers. The program I have includes different leveled books from A – E (because I teach kinder) and an easy way to assess what level students are at.

Guided Reading

Read about how I set up my guided reading groups here.

Structure

I incorporate my guided reading lessons into our literacy center time. During centers, two groups meet with teachers (I have a full-time assistant teacher), one group does word work, one group does listen to reading and sometimes I have groups working at our sand table. Other center ideas I’ve used are work on writing, read to self and read to someone.

Guided Reading Literacy Center Template

Check out my literacy center calendar template here!

Centers

  1. Guided Reading (Leveled Groups)
  2. Word Work – I have a variety of centers that students can complete during word work. In the beginning of the year, we focus on letter recognition and letter sounds. Once we hit about October, students are working on sight words. During the second half of the year, we transition from sight words to spelling words.
  3. Listen to Reading – I use a program on the iPads called Raz-Kids. This program is awesome because you can put in students’ reading levels. It also has an option to read the story to them or for them to read it to themselves. As the story reads to them, it highlights the word, giving the student more exposure to sight words.
  4. Sand table – Students complete different activities sorting through the sand looking for either letters or words.

Guided Reading Lesson Plan Template

Guided Reading Lessons

  • Before Reading – I use this time to introduce sight words that will be in the story and any vocabulary that students might not know.
  • During Reading – I have students read all at the same time but not together. (This will take some practice and time to get used to.) As they’re reading, I listen to each student and make any notes on the recording sheet. I make note of their fluency, accuracy and anything else that might come up as they’re reading.
  • After Reading – Once students have read through the book multiple times, I stop them and we discuss the book. I ask them comprehension questions such as recalling what happened, why something happened and any connections they have to the story.
  • Once our guided reading time is over, students put their books in their book bags and pick a sticker for their sticker book. They can read the books in their book bags during read to self or read to someone.

Be sure to check out my guided reading lesson plan template here!

Resources

Click the picture to check out this guided reading bundle!

Guided Reading Bundle

You might also be interested in reading about how I create my guided reading caddie and what I keep in it!

 

Guided Reading

Transitioning to NGSS Science Standards: Tips and Freebies

Has your school adopted the new NGSS science standards? Mine has and this year, we are creating our own curriculum to fit with these new standards. My team has come up with ways we can best teach these standards in a fun and engaging way, without breaking the bank. We’ve combined a few different resources and come up with some of our own ideas to create a unique curriculum to teach our students.

Transitioning to NGSS Standards

What are the new standards?

Kindergarten topics:

  • Motion and Stability
  • Earth Systems
  • Energy
  • Weather and Climate
  • Living Things
  • Engineering Design

You can check out the all the NGSS standards through this website.

Transitioning to NGSS Standards

Teaching the Standards

I’ve pulled together a few resources to help in my transition to NGSS standards without spending too much money. The two main resources I’ll be using this year are Better Lesson and an interactive notebook that my team and I found on TpT.

  1. Better Lesson – This website is amazing because it has a TON of free lessons and resources. In searching this website, I found a teacher whose lesson plans I will mainly stick with this year. Her name is Joyce Baumann and she has 10 kindergarten science units all packed with experiments and activities. Check out her page here!
  2. Interactive Notebook – I’ll be using this interactive notebook as an additional component to the experiments and activities I found through Better Lesson. This resource is from The Barefoot Teacher and comes with 6 units that go along with the new standards.

I’m using a mix between these two resources along with some creations I’ve made to make this transition as smooth as possible. I love teaching science and I am thrilled with the change in standards!

Another free resource I will incorporate is Mystery Science. This website also has many interactive activities and experiments.

Transitioning to NGSS Standards

Example Unit

Check out my plans for my first unit in science! This freebie includes my overall plans, bullet points for each lesson, and interactive notebook pages that coincide with the experiments in Better Lesson.

My 5 Senses Curriculum Freebie

Other Resources

Transitioning to NGSS Standards

What resources do you use to teach the NGSS standards?

Transitioning to NGSS Standards

Give Students Responsibility: Clean Up

Do you feel like you’re constantly picking up after your students in order to keep your room tidy? Why don’t you get the students to help?! My kinder students LOVE to have responsibilities. It makes them feel like they’re adults and they love being helpful. I organize my room and supplies so students can independently keep things clean. That way, when I give them responsibilities during clean up time, they put things away to my satisfaction, eliminating the need for me to clean up after them.

Clean Up

Room Organization

My first tip is to spend some time in the beginning of the year showing students where things belong in your room. I set my room up in sections. I have a writing center, listening center, word work area, math area and of course a free play section. Having sections in your room make it easier for students to know what things belong where and where they can go when they need a certain material. Check out my classroom reveal to see exactly what my room looks like!

In the beginning of the year, I give a classroom tour. During my tour, I show students what they can find in each area of the classroom.

  • Writing Center: paper, markers, extra crayons and colored pencils and our sharp/dull bins
  • Listening Center: iPads, passwords, headphones
  • Word Work: word work center materials, extra whiteboard pens/erasers, whiteboards, magnets, cookie sheets
  • Math: math manipulatives, puzzles, any math centers we’re using
  • Free Play: toys, the kitchen, blocks, Legos, dress up etc (this center is always the toughest to keep clean)

Clean Up

Within each station there is a system of how students can independently keep things clean and organized without my help.

For example:

  • Writing Center: I have a sharp and dull bucket. Students know when they have dull pencils or colored pencils, they put them in the dull bucket. Then, students can grab a sharp pencil or colored pencil in this area.
  • Listening Center: Students keep their headphones in a pocket of a shoe organizer. The pocket has their name so they know exactly where their headphones belong.
  • Word Work, Math and Free Play: Everything in these sections are labeled with a picture of the real classroom item. This helps students know exactly what should go where and what they can expect to find in certain spots.

Clean Up

Storage Organization

My second tip goes along with the last bullet point: label, label, label (and with real pictures). It is especially important to label with pictures if you teach kindergarten because they likely can’t read yet.

I also try to put things in bins or boxes to make it easy to stack and fit as much as I can in a small amount of space.

Some things I have in my classroom that you might want to try for your storage organization:

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Classroom Jobs

The last tip that has saved me lots of clean up time is to give students classroom jobs that specifically help clean up certain things.

  • Librarian: The librarian puts books away (pretty obvious). I organize this by color coding my library. Each category of books has a color and the librarian knows where to put each book because the label on the book bin has the same color. Once students are done reading their book, they put the book in one of two purple bins. The librarian puts the books in the purple bins away whenever they have some free time.
  • Scrap patrol: This person is in charge of making sure all the scraps are picked up off the floor and tables. I make sure to tell this person that they do not have to be the person cleaning but they can give friendly reminders to their classmates and help out whenever they can.
  • Lunch monitor: We keep our lunch boxes in two blue bins. When it’s time to clean up, the lunch monitor makes sure every student has taken their lunch box. I’ve had too many students forget their lunch box in the blue bin and it stays overnight getting very yucky and stinky.

Check out my bright, chevron themed classroom job set by clicking the picture! Or click here if you’d like a jungle theme!

Classroom Jobs

These tips have helped my sanity in keeping the classroom clean but also not having to clean it all myself. Kindergarten students are very capable if you give them the right tools to be successful.

How do you keep your classrooms tidy?

Clean Up

The Benefits of Having a Class Travel Buddy

Having a class travel buddy is a special part of my kindergarten class. Nellie is a small stuffed cow that I had when I was a child. Now, she lives in a red barn and loves to document all her adventures with my students!

Class Travel Buddy

Class Travel Buddy

Each week, one student gets to take Nellie home and spend special time with her. Some students sleep with her, introduce her to their other toys, take her on playdates, some have even taken her on vacation! After the week is up, the student writes and draws about the time they had together. When the student returns Nellie, they share what they did with her and answer some questions that the other kiddos might have about their adventure.

Class Travel Buddy

Benefits of a Class Travel Buddy

  1. Students absolutely LOVE getting to take a buddy home. They feel so special when it’s their turn and the smile on their face is priceless.
  2. This activity is VERY low maintenance. Once I set up her book and make a schedule of when each child takes Nellie home, I barely even think about her.
  3. Families get involved in an easy way. Parents can help their child write about the fun time they had with Nellie.
  4. You get a glimpse of each child’s family life. You can find out what’s important to them and what they like to do as an individual or as a family.
  5. A travel buddy creates amazing memories for each child. Each student I’ve had loves Nellie so much! I’ve had some students cry when they have to give her back. Others have gone out and purchased their own “Nellie” stuffed cow. This year, one of my students asked about Nellie on the first day of school. I had his brother a couple of years ago and he remembered her and how much fun they had with her. As simple as this activity is, it is such a memorable experience to all (Nellie included)!

Resources

Check out this resource to help you create your own classroom travel buddy book!

You might need….

(affiliate links)

Do you send a travel buddy home with each student? What kind of buddy is in your class!?

Class Travel Buddy

How to Make Back to School Night Successful

Back to School Night is an important night because it’s one of the only times you have all parents (or most) in one place. Although I dread talking in front of an adult crowd, I’m appreciative we have this night so we can give all information out at once and don’t have to repeat the info to each parent. Here’s how I set myself up for Back to School Night success!

Back to School Night

Look the Part (both you and the room)

  1. You – Wear something comfortable that makes you feel confident!

I like to dress up more than normal because Back to School Night is an important night where you get to give parents essential information about the upcoming year. It’s also one of the first times you’re meeting parents and dressing up will portray professionalism.

  1. Room – Make sure your classroom is tidy and presentable!

The day of Back to School Night, I have my students help me clean the room by ending our free play a little sooner than normal. I tell students that they’ve magically become vacuum cleaners and their job is to clean every speck from the carpet. Students love this idea (who knows why?) and crawl around on the carpet and sometimes even make a vacuum noise (tell them they’re quiet vacuums).

Back to School Night

Once the room is clean, get it ready with any information or work you want to display. I like to put a blank paper out for parents to write or draw something for their kids that I leave for the students to find the next day. This is nice to have out as parents walk in because it gives them something to do while you wait for all the other parents. I also put an information packet and birthday form on each child’s table spot. Parents can take this home for their reference and return the form once completed.

I also set out a “mint” treat. Check out my Back to School Night Mint Display Freebie!

Hit the Highlights

I prepare a Back to School Night powerpoint as a guide to what I want to cover with the parents. I start out by telling parents my background and schooling and then move into curriculum. Next, I discuss each subject and a brief overview of what students will learn in kindergarten. Other topics I include are homework, projects, field trips, star of the week and Nellie. Nellie is a stuffed cow that students will get to take home for a week during our school year.

After I give my spiel, my room parents talk about volunteer opportunities for our school and classroom.

Once this night is over, I take a big breathe of relief. It’s one of the most exhausting, long (12 hour) days but with these tips it’ll be amazing! Good luck!

Resources

Check out my Back to School Night resources by clicking the pictures below.

Back to School Night Flip Book    Back to School Night Mint Freebie

What makes your Back to School Night successful?

Back to School Night

Beginning of the year Tissue Art

Tissue Art
This name tissue art project is hands down my absolute FAVORITE! It is a perfect beginning of the year art project and looks fantastic all year long. Each year, during our first art period, I show my students how to complete this tissue art and it hangs in my windows until the end of the year.

                   Materials for Tissue Art     Materials for Tissue Art

Materials

– 11 x 18 white or nude construction paper
– various colors of tissue paper
– glue
– dixie cups (or something to hold the glue) I like these because you can just throw them away when finished
– Q-tip

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Prep

This project is pretty low prep which is nice because sometimes art projects take longer to set up than for students to actually do. All you need to prep for this project is the papers with their names and tissue squares. I write the students’ names in sharpie but you could use anything because it gets covered up by the tissue in the end. You also need to cut squares of tissue about 1 inch by 1 inch. This prep could be done days before so you’re ready the day of. The day of, you’ll need to pour glue into dixie cups and put a Q-tip in each of the cups for students to use to spread the glue.
Tissue Art

Directions

I write my own name on one of these papers so I can model the art to my students. I start by showing them how to spread a section of glue on one of the letters in their name. Since I teach kindergarten, I mention that if you put too much glue on, it might dry before you can stick the tissue paper on. I tell them that they should only glue a little section, not the whole letter. Then, I show students how to crumple the paper and stick it on the letter. I really emphasize that the smaller they squish the tissue paper, the better it will look. I also tell my kids that they need to use the same color on the whole letter. Then, they must use a different color on the next letter. In the past, I’ve let students do multi-colored letters but it ends up looking a little bit jumbled and less like a name.

Back to School Tissue Art

After my students are finished, I trim the outside of the paper and glue a colored piece of construction paper as a background. I hang them in the window all year-long! Look at how beautiful this art is!

What is your favorite back to school art project?

Guided Reading Groups: How to Set up Your Groups in the Beginning of the Year

Guided reading is one of my favorite subjects to teach because I love that I can differentiate for each student to truly give them what they need to succeed. In order to have a smoothly run guided reading time, you must set up your guided reading groups for success. Groups are set up so that students with similar needs are put together.

Guided Reading

Assess What They Know

Before you can put students in groups, you need to assess what they know and what they struggle with. In kindergarten, it can be hard to assess students on reading because most likely, they do not read yet.

I like to assess my students on the following to get a good understanding of their overall reading and letter skills:

  • Letter recognition
  • Letter sound
  • Sight Word recognition
  • Reading and Reading Comprehension

I assess students in this order and move them on according to how they do in the previous assessment.

Letter Recognition

For example, I assess all students on letter recognition. If they miss only a few, I move on to letter sounds. If they miss half or more than half, I stop there and make a note that these students need to work on letter recognition.

Letter and Sound Recognition Freebie

Letter Sound

Next, I assess if students know their letter sounds. Again, if they know most, I move them on to sight word recognition and if they know half or less, I make a note that the focus for this group should be letter sounds.

Sight Word Recognition and Reading Comprehension

For my sight word recognition and reading/reading comprehension assessments, I use a program called Fountas and Pinnel. This program sets it all up for you which makes it easy on me. I have a set of 5 sight word lists and I start by asking the student if they know any of the words on the list. If a student knows most of the words on a list, they move on to the next list. When we reach a point where they no longer know majority of the words, I stop them and make a note. The program then tells me which guided reading level they should begin at according to how many sight words they know.

If a student makes it to the point where they should begin reading at a certain level in the program, I assess them with a running record. Most kindergarteners in the beginning of the year do not make it to this point because they are pre-readers but I do usually have a handful that are ready.

After all my assessments are finished, I look over my notes of which students need support in certain areas and I group them by similar needs. I try to keep my groups to 5 students or less so they’re getting a lot of individualized attention during our guided reading groups.

Click the picture to check out some of my Guided Reading Resources.

Guided Reading Resource Bundle

How do you group your students?

Read how to set up your DIY Guided Reading Caddie here.

Classroom Reveal

Welcome to my classroom reveal! I am currently going into my 4th year teaching so I’ve had a few years to figure out exactly how I want my classroom. I’ve learned what works and what doesn’t and I’ve arranged and rearranged countless times. I’m at the point where I am so happy with how my room is set up and organized and I cannot wait to share it with you!

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Welcome to the Jungle

When you walk in my room, I want it to feel welcoming with bright colors and obvious organization. I want my students to feel invited, like their classroom is their second home and structured so they can be successful. I chose a jungle theme because I personally love animals and it’s a very gender neutral theme. Plus, there’s a lot you can do creatively with this theme.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Student Tables

My students work mainly in two spots: their tables and the carpet. At their tables, they have everything they need in their chair pouch. I recommend the chair pouch because students can keep their supplies separate and they look a lot neater than the communal table caddies (personal preference).

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Rug Area – Circle Time

Our rug area is where students sit for circle time, whole group lessons or introductions and read alouds. We also use this area to use the SmartBoard and Elmo. I love that my carpet has individual squares because if I notice students spreading out or getting too close to their neighbor, I tell them to “tuck into their square” and everyone can check their bodies.

     Kindergarten Classroom RevealKindergarten Classroom Reveal

Library

My library is one of my favorite spots in my classroom! I made it a little bigger this year because as years go on I accumulate books upon books. Everyone wants to donate their old books to the kindergarten class and I can never say no to books! Doesn’t this area look so comfy?! I love the miniature couches and book buddies to read with.

Listening Center

The listening center is where my students take their iPads during Listen to Reading of our literacy centers. Here, students find their headphones, any passwords they might need and the listen to reading response sheet. This year, I’m organizing my students headphones in over the door shoe organizers! I just cut one in half and taped it on the wall – no more tangled mess!

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Writing Center

My writing center holds everything students may need during writing time. They have their pencils, colored pencils, crayons and writing folders in their chair pouch but this area holds all the extras. Behind this center I display my writing posters. I got these freebie posters here! As we work on a step in the writing process, I put up the poster.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Whiteboard

My main whiteboard displays our daily schedule, guided reading and math schedules and one of our behavior management systems, “Eye Like What I See”.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Guided Reading Tables

I am so fortunate to have a full time assistant teacher so when we do guided reading, two groups of students get to meet with a teacher while the rest are doing independent stations. My students meet at either my guided reading table or my assistant teachers. This summer, I DIYed some crate seats for my table! I also put together some guided reading caddies for maximum organization for our guided reading time.

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Free Play

The free play area is the space that I just can’t seem to get right. It is always a mess! This year, I bought new containers that fit better in the bookcase and labeled each lid. No matter what I do, students just don’t clean up the way I want… I guess that’s what I get for teaching kindergarteners! Any kindergarten teachers have a fabulous way to organize free play things?

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Storage

My room used to be the library in our school so my room is the only room that does not have a full wall of amazing storage. I do have three cabinets but I’ve had to be creative with this storage space as it is pretty small. One thing I’ve changed this year is making use of the space above my cabinets. I’ve used this space in the past, but usually I just shove things above it and it looks like a hot mess. This year, I decided the organize materials by season and cleaning supplies. I love how organized it looks (at least right now)!

Teacher Desk

This is my little home in the classroom to keep all my teacher things!

Kindergarten Classroom Reveal

Thank you for stopping by my jungle theme classroom! What’s your favorite part about your classroom?