Wednesday, August 3, 2016

First Day of Kindergarten .. Soar!

The first day of school will be here soon, and it conjures up mixed emotions for many of us!  On one hand we dread the thought of the early mornings, the late afternoons, the exhaustion, and the stress of getting everything ready on time.  On the other end of the spectrum, we feel the excitement, the thrill of the first day, and our first peek at our new student’s names.

My First Bulletin Board! On day 1 the hearts are blank. On day 2 the pics are up!
At my school, on the first day of kindergarten the parents stay for the first hour. The parents and kids rotate through centers, making a raccoon hat together, a red painted hand-print, writing a note to their children, filling out a quick and easy information card, and touring the room and bathrooms. It culminates with everyone gathering around as I read the Kissing Hand story.  After all the parents have left the room, the kids and I have a chocolate KISS together!

A “daddy” helping to color a Raccoon Hat! I love watching the interactions between the child and the parent during this first hour.
Time to smile! Daddy and you did a great job! It’s a huge advantage having the parents stay and help!

There are 30 children in my kindergarten classes on most years, and yet this hour goes incredibly smooth considering there are usually 70 or more individuals in the room that morning. Each parent is given a clip board with this Letter.

It culminates with everyone gathering around as I read the Kissing Hand story.  After all the parents have left the room, the kids and I have a chocolate KISS together!


This is me reading the second book of the morning after the parents have left. It’s called Lizard’s Song. You can see the Chester Raccoon puppet, a red dish filled with chocolate kisses, The First Day of Kinder sign, and my beloved Mrs. Wishy Washy Big Book.

THIS IS EVIE'S "NECKLACE" FOR THE END OF THE FIRST DAY!



At the end of the day, the children proudly wear their Raccoon Hats and Badges as they are greeted by family! The First Day of School is exhausting but always a great success!



To see more ideas for the first day, check out my
"COUNTDOWN TO KINDERGARTEN SURVIVAL Kit!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Earth Day

EARTH DAY has come and gone, but I wanted to share this FREEBIE with you for next year! You can think of me as being a few days LATE or you can consider me a year EARLY!

Todd Parr’s, The Earth Book, is a non-fiction, and easy text, that elicits lots of questions and thinking with young children. It is printed in paperback and hard cover. If you don’t own this book, it is a good one to have in your collection. 


After reading and discussing the importance of Earth Day, we brainstorm a list of ways that we can make a difference. In addition, I place the following text in my pocket chart.
Earth is home for me and you.
There are mountains, lakes, and rivers too.
The planet needs us all to care.
Let’s keep earth safe for all to share. 



As an easy classroom activity that can be sent home that day, I created the mini book, “Planet Earth.” You can download it for FREE at my TPT store. After our discussion, every child “FOLDS” the Earth Day Book, colors it, reads it to three friends, and takes it home to share with family. I’ve included a color version of the Little Book as well as the black & white version. I’ve also included the FOLDING DIRECTIONS. The folding may seem tricky at first, but my kindergarten kids have been learning it for years. However, if you want a no hassle activity, you may want to fold the books the night before. I hope you enjoy this activity! Will you let me know?

Monday, February 1, 2016

February Homework


Does anyone struggle with finding homework that contains reading opportunities for young students, encourages the parent and child to work together, and provides a glimpse of our monthly study topics? 

I’ve always wanted to send home assignments that encourage communication between the family and the child. My desire is to REQUIRE (in a non-threatening way) that the parent actually work with his/her child!  Is this too much to ask?
To achieve this endeavor, I created my first monthly homework packet in September of this year and and the result was overwhelmingly positive!  Since then, I’ve designed a new packet for every month based on new suggestions and ideas from parents and teachers.

February’s HOMEWORK packet is my favorite of them all!  My students read & copy words and sentences, as well as sequence and write numbers. At the top of each paper is a place for a parent’s signature and a box to write the number of times the child reads the words and sentences. The pictures are fairly large and “simple,” making them easy and fun to color.
The content/format of each paper varies to provide NOVELTY and encourage THINKING!  February is filled with the Presidents, Groundhogs, and Valentine’s Day. To give you a glimpse of the format, I'd like to share these 7 sample pages with you. You can download them free at my Kindergarten with Susie store.

It is my hope that you, your students, and their parents enjoy these sample pages.  Creating materials for young children is my life-long passion and I hope to make a difference for you and your kids. Please share your thoughts with me.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Snowman Brace Maps!


My kids LOVE making new Brace Maps!

September was an APPLE
October was a PUMPKIN
November was a SCARECROW
December was a GINGERBREAD BOY

January’s map is .. a SNOWMAN!
After a few classroom maps, my students grasp the concept, and begin creating their own maps! They’ve shared Brace Maps of a penguin, duck, flower, and one of my all time favorites, an ice cream fudge sundae!

Individual and innovative brace maps will not always be “spot-on perfect” every time. Remember that the final PRODUCT is not as important as the PROCESS. 

As teachers we encourage our students to create a finished product that is ready for display or to share with parents and other teachers. “Look”, we might exclaim proudly, “Susie made an adorable map of an apple!”  Susie copied the example in detail and produced a map that looks very much like the sample.

However, the child that created a brace map of a watermelon might not have included all of the parts, and may have run out of time and never completely finished. Does it mean that this child learned MORE than the other child?  It DEPENDS on the level of engagement for each child.  In other words: Whose brain was growing today? The finished product is NOT always the determining factor as to the validity of the task.

Children that are encouraged to THINK ... LEARN new concepts, and INCREASE synaptic connections in the brain will create new understandings that lead to academic and life-long success! 


Children need TIME to develop a concept and the opportunity to “TEST” their ideas. My number one priority is to help my little ones ENGAGE in new ideas, FORMULATE new concepts, and IMPLEMENT their ideas!

Give children TIME to experiment with new IDEAS! The results will be amazing!

The Snowman Brace Map template is FREE on my TPT store. Just follow the link. :)

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

TPT is hosting a SALE!

Let’s get ready for the January SALE on TPT!  All of my creations are 20% off for two days and TPT is adding another 8% off!  That’s a 28% savings!  
Honestly, I try to keep all my products at a very low cost, as my goal is to have teachers and children interact with them! BUT, when a sale comes along, it makes ALL my “stuff” even more assessable! 

Many teachers have asked me to place my HAPPY CHARACTERS in a bundle with a discount. But, the TPT sale of 28% is lower than any bundle price!
There’s also hundreds of other stores that are participating in the campaign, so I plan to spend the day grabbing up some great products too!
Finally, if you don’t already have my Groundhog Freebie, I hope you grab it today! The kids love predicting if the Groundhog will see his shadow!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

January Homework

“Better late than never!”  Perhaps this may be my new mantra for 2016! It seems that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to complete all my projects when expected!

However, there is some GOOD news! January’s homework may be late for the 2016 year, but it’s 12.5 months EARLY for 2017! How’s that for being optimistic!

“FINDING” Homework has always been a struggle for me. There have been weeks where I have spent hours searching for homework that I feel is meaningful as well as reviews the class lessons. I’ve found a variety of homework papers that focus on phonic skills or letter recognition, but I want my students to actually practice READING at home. Plus, I’d like a little printing, coloring, and number practice to be included as well. DO YOU FEEL THE SAME?

It is because of this quest, that I’m excited to share my NEW JANUARY HOMEWORK! My students read & copy words and sentences, as well as sequence and write numbers. At the top of each paper is a place for a parent’s signature and a box to write the number of times the child reads the words and sentences. This is my favorite part! The pictures are “simple,” making them easy and fun to color. I feel so sorry for children that are asked to color teeny tiny pictures.

The content/format of each paper varies to provide NOVELTY and encourage THINKING!  January's packet is filled with content on the New Year, SNOWMEN, PENGUINS, POLAR BEARS, CHILLY WEATHER and DR. KING, There are 46 pages of READY to SEND HOME homework! Take a peek at the preview on TPT to glean a better idea of the content. :)
These pages are also perfect for “morning work” if you prefer. Your students complete the pages in class and take them home to READ to mom or dad. Mom and dad send them back with a signature and the number of times read. Either way, children are reading and writing!
I HOPE that these will boost your students’ reading and make YOUR teaching life easier! PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK!

I'd like to give away 5 FREE packets to the first five teachers that leave a comment with an email of where to send the PDF file.  I'll send them out tomorrow! 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Ice Castle Day!

Happy 2016!

Life brings us many blessings and joys, as well as trials and tears. The last few months have been challenging and I am thrilled to be back blogging, creating, and sharing! I’m wishing us all a FABULOUS 2016!

Let’s talk about SNOW!  There seems to be no PERFECT amount of snow in the eyes of young children and their teachers! For Southern California teachers, the majority of our little ones have only experienced snow in movies and books. Anytime that it rains or hails is an EXCITING DAY!  It ACTUALLY did snow ONCE, our entire school went out and played in it! WHAT A MEMORY! 

Don’t think that I don’t understand the other side of the snow debate, after all I was born in Maine! As a little girl I remember taking so long to put on my coat, mittens, boots, and hat, that recess was over before I finished preparing to go outside!


Whatever circumstances you find yourself in TODAY, snow is still fascinating for young children to explore. And what better way to investigate snow than with a unit on the WATER CYCLE! My kids love learning about evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. We study the water cycle for 2-3 weeks and culminate our unit by building an ice castle!



 After sending home a NOTE to parents, the children bring ICE to school in all different shapes, colors, and sizes! We build our castle as soon as possible, so we can OBSERVE it EVAPORATING throughout the day and keep a log of the progress!  When the next rain falls, we KNOW that a few of those rain drops include the water from our CASTLE!  Thus, we’ve witnessed the complete WATER CYCLE!  


If you DO decide to build an ice castle, be sure to bring rubber gloves! Each child “builds” the castle by adding an ice sculpture  one at a time. You can see me in the picture below: I guess you could call me the architect! Notice the shade umbrella and my sunglasses!




Another activity that the kids love making and sharing with mom and dad is the WATER CYCLE WHEEL. The kids color the sections of the water cycle, glue them on a blue circle, and move the WATER DROP around the wheel as they recite the water cycle song. 

Teacher's Sample. The children color their own. The child colors each 
triangle and writes the word in the box.

The Water Cycle Wheel is part of my Water Cycle Unit on TPT. The teacher's sample is above; the students' paper is below. The children color, print, cut, and glue their own wheel to take home.


Keep in mind, that after building an ice castle in 72 degree weather, there is nothing more important than hot cocoa and marshmallows to warm you up again! LOL!

Wishing you many BLESSINGS in 2016!