Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

‘Tis the night before the first day of 2015, and I find myself wondering, “What happened to the month of December?” I remember running around each day attempting to be “ready”, but never achieving my goal! If anyone has a better way to prepare for the joyful holiday season, please share. I could use some advice!

With the holidays behind me, it’s time to think about getting back to kindergarten, kids, and winter ideas! As I teach in southern California, many of my kids have never played, touched, or even seen REAL snow ... until TODAY! Yes, it’s true! There was a small dusting of snow last night and we woke up to see white roofs! You can’t imagine the excitement that this rare act of nature sparks!

The kids can’t wait to go outside and attempt to make a snowball with the smallest amount of snow you can imagine ... just to throw it and announce, “Look at my snowball!” Giggles and laughter follows, and eventually cold fingers and toes too! 

Our snow doesn’t last long, but it’s enough to signal “hot chocolate and marshmallow time.” I grew up in Maine, and the thought of hot chocolate and marshmallows brings warm memories back to me of times playing in the snow with family and friends. This memory inspired my January Take-Home Calendar: A mug of hot chocolate!

Last year, the children loved making the calendar while eating a few mini marshmallows and drinking hot chocolate as a class! It was a memorable way to celebrate the new year together!

You can find the calendar patterns and directions at my TPT store: Kindergarten with Susie. For the first 24 hours of every posting my products are 50% off.

I’m looking forward to a bright and healthy new year filled with new friends and adventures! Thank you for sharing with me and keeping my spirits high with your encouragement.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

TPT's Cyber Monday sale is here!

For two days, 12/1 and 12/2, my entire store
 will be 20% off!


you can save an additional 10% when you 
use the code:TPTCYBER

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sassy and Sweet

“Run, run, as fast as you can! 
You can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread man!” 

It’s that time of year again, when Gingerbread Boys everywhere can be heard chanting this sassy rhyme. 

The children in my kindergarten classroom delight in the mischief this character may cause! Our Gingerbread Man runs away the first few weeks of school, then heads off to college, (to learn how to behave!) and returns for a visit in December with his new found friend Gumdrop! To highlight his return, the monthly take-home calendar is a large Gingerbread Boy! 

The Gingerbread Boy is one of the many adorable monthly CALENDARS that my students create and display at home. Parents are requested to help their children mark off each day, recite the days of the week, and count to 31 and beyond. Both parents and kids look forward with eager anticipation for the monthly calendar to arrive home.

This month I’ve also included Gingerbread Man calendar markers for your classroom calendar or to use in the pocket chart. 
One more bonus item that I’ve included in the calendar packet is a game board to play, “Can You Catch Gingerbread Boy!”  This is a simple game to play with 1- 4 students.

Each child chooses to be a character: Fox, Cow, Dog, or “Me”.  A child rolls the die. If he is the fox, he must roll a 6 to place a button on the fox’s row. If she is the cow, she must roll a 4 to place a button on the cow’s row, and so forth. The first character to fill the row with buttons, wins!

When a student plays individually, he colors a square each time he rolls the die. He does not need buttons. Example: If he rolls a 4, he colors a square in the cow’s row. If he rolls a 5, he colors a square in the dog’s row. The first row to have all the squares colored… WINS! You could have every child play individually and then graph the results! The kids love to see which character “CAUGHT” Gingerbread Boy the most!
You may purchase the Gingerbread calendar, calendar markers, and the game board, at my TPT store. However, to celebrate the “Season of Giving” … the Gingerbread Game Board is a Freebie! I would love for you to download the game and leave me a comment. My desire is to connect to a greater audience, build relationships, and discover ways that I may be of greater service to teachers. I hope you’ll share your thoughts with me!

Next month’s calendar is a huge mug
 of hot chocolate!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Season of Thanks

Season’s change quickly and life speeds ahead! 

Honestly, it seems as if my first day of teaching could have been yesterday instead of 38 years ago! 

After three decades, the outside of me has changed slightly .. ok .. dramatically, but my insides feel exactly the same!  I still love teaching young children with a passion that consumes me most of the time. 

So why haven’t I been blogging and posting the last few months when I have so much that I want to share?

Because ...”social media” ... is really, really, difficult for me! I’m so afraid of pushing the wrong button, or sending something to someone that I shouldn’t be sending something to, that I just stopped trying. 

Perhaps even more than my fear of doing something wrong, is my fear that I’m only blogging to myself!  
Is anyone really out there reading this? 

Last night, I was watching Shark Tank, and the sharks mercilessly critiqued one of the entrepreneurs. I was stunned that the participant didn’t run out of the shark tank and give up all hopes of succeeding in her business. 
But she had ... MOXIE.. as my mother always said, and she held her ground and actually got a shark to support her! 
Unbelievable! Way to go girl!

So, I’m back to try again! This is the season to be thankful and count all the blessings that have been bestowed upon me. There are many teachers that have encouraged me and validated my ideas! 
My heart is full of gratitude to each and every one of you!

This is a Thanksgiving Day Card that I have sent home to parents for many years. There is not a parent that didn’t LOVE receiving this card from their precious little one and treasure it for many years to come.

The detailed directions and the masters are free
at my TPT store. I’ve attempted to link the picture to 
my store to make it easier for you to find. 

I want to share my LOVE of children and teaching with other educators. If I make a difference to even one teacher, I will have succeeded.

Many thanks for your support and kindness.
Teachers really are very special people!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ready! Action! Day One!

It is difficult to believe.. it is IMPOSSIBLE to believe that the first day of KINDERGARTEN for many of you is only 2 days away!  It's still summer! It's hot outside and the days are still long!  Children are not ready to start school! TEACHERS are not ready to start school! Isn't that why AUTUMN was invented? Doesn't fall HERALD the beginning of school?

With only 2 days remaining, you have very little time to sleep, eat, chat, or catch your breath, let alone READ a blog! With that in mind, I want to TOSS OUT a few IDEAS for the first day that are not essential but just plain CUTE.

For the last decade, my first day of kindergarten begins with the story, The Kissing Hand. I am fortunate that the parents STAY with their children during the first hour, as it is ESSENTIAL to read this story when the CHILD and the PARENT are TOGETHER! After reading the story to the children and the parents, I quickly share an endearing personal story with everyone...

One morning, many years ago, I was leaving on a business trip to present several seminars in the Midwest.   My oldest son, Brian, a senior in high school, was backing the car out of the garage, and my son, Justin, a high school freshman, was in the passenger seat.

As I stood in the middle of the garage waving good-by, my eyes filled with tears, and in a quivering voice I shouted, 

"I'll miss you both so much! I love you 
to the moon and back!" 

Then something magical happened: Brian turned off the engine and jumped out of the car. My "all grown up", high school senior, ran to me, gently opened my hand, and KISSED  the center of my palm. He curled my fingers around the kiss, and said, "Mom, whenever you're feeling alone and missing us, press your hand against your cheek and remember how much we love you!" Then he jumped back in the car and took off for school!

To tell you that I was STUNNED does not begin to describe my emotions. Did my 18 year old son, just give me a "kissing hand?" Tears filled my eyes and ran down my cheeks as the love in my heart was overflowing. 

Honestly, as I'm sharing my story, most of the parents in the room, including the dads, have tears in their eyes.  But  then I exclaim, "Hey brand-new kindergartners,  give mom and dad a "KISSING HAND" and hurry back to the rug for a special TREAT!"

As I'm saying this to everyone, I'm holding a huge container of chocolate kisses ...  that I can only share when all the parents are GONE
The most difficult and emotional day of the school year is OVER! Now, I just need a WEEK OFF to get ready for DAY TWO! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Classroom Fairy

Surprise! Your room is ready for the first day of school!

Oh my!  What a trick it would be if we could open our classroom doors and walk into a "ready-made" room! The bulletin boards would be bright and colorful, the tables and chairs would be organized, the books would be neatly stacked on the shelves, and our teacher desks would be cheery and color coordinated! 

The room environment would be PERFECT, and we could begin to think about CURRICULUM and TEACHING STRATEGIES! Just think of all the TIME we would save!

BUT, we all know it's not going to happen! The CLASSROOM FAIRY is not going to wave her magic wand and make our classrooms ready to go!

And,  if you're like so many other kindergarten teachers, you want the "cutest" room ever! Perhaps you even have a color or classroom theme that you can't wait to show off!  You've been buying lime green and turquoise paper, chevron borders, and striped baskets, for the last few weeks! 

You are ready to create a masterpiece with or without a fairy to help!

But, wait a moment ..I would love to be your cyber WINGLESS FAIRY and offer you a few suggestions:

Go EASY on yourself! Keep in mind that as much as you may WISH that your room looked like the ones you see on pinterest boards, the fancy touches do NOT make a quantitative difference in the academic growth of your students.  

Kindergarten room environments should meet the NEEDS of your young students. They should be bright and colorful, but not over stimulating and busy.  Your little ones should have access to the majority of the materials and be able to INTERACT with TEXT on walls, posters, sight words, BIG BOOKS, and phonics materials. 

Although it is not always possible,the text should be LOW enough for kids to see it, touch it, and read it.  

Every year, for the last two decades, the characters from Brown Bear, Brown Bear, by Bill Martin, are on my wall.  The characters were created years ago, so the NEW KIDS have nothing to do with the creation of these characters. Does this mean that they have less ownership of the wall?  No way! Don't we all love a good chocolate chip cookie, regardless of whether we baked it or mom baked it?

My kids love interacting with this WALL STORY and I love TEACHING many of the kindergarten foundational skills from CCSS ...  beginning on day one!

Brown Bear Interactive Story Wall

After reading the book, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, by Bill Martin, I use the wall to model READING! I want my kids to see what REAL reading looks like.  Using the classroom reading wand, we practice reading from left to right and touching EACH word. (CCSS: word awareness) We also talk about "characters", sequencing, colors, before and after, letter recognition and letter sounds. By painting the title (later in the year, the kids will paint the titles) we can practice touching each word with the big reading wand! 

This interactive WALL STORY remains up for the first month of school. We "PLAY" with it EVERY day in whole group, small group, individual instruction, and especially during the kids CHOICE TIME. Everyone wants to "practice" reading the wall!  There is always a flurry of excitement happening around the wall. I can hear kids exclaiming, "My turn to read! Watch me, Mrs. Kane. I can really do it!"

And in reality, isn't this exactly what we want to happen in our classrooms? Kids choosing to practice reading while modeling concepts of print for their peers?

Maybe the CLASSROOM FAIRY left a little MAGIC after all!

Saturday, August 2, 2014


If you're anything like me, the anticipation of the first day of kinder, is beginning to keep you awake at night, and consume your thoughts during the day!

How will you ever be ready in time! What needs to be done for the first day and what can wait until the following week!

What materials do I need for the kids to survive, but more importantly what materials do I need for me to survive?  

After 38 years of teaching, you would think that I would be calm and have everything ready for a great first day! But I never do! Not once, not ever!

I'm so nervous on the first day of school, that  just before I open the door to meet the new kids, I'm feeling queasy and a little bit light-headed. 

Let's face it, over the years there's been a variety of precious children walk through my door. If I had to pick the most challenging, it would be the screamers and the extra loud criers. There have been times when I can't hear myself talking over the screams! 

And then, there's the year that one little boy ran home during recess but I never even noticed. Mom brought him back and told me to keep a better eye on him!  Are you kidding me, with 33 little kids, I wish he had taken a friend home with him! I would have been down to 31!

But, the most heart breaking .. are the little ones that come on the bus, on the first day, ALONE. No mommy, no siblings, no english. Just a tiny name tag with a name. One year, a little boy with a "Luis" name tag walked through the door. I tried to get his attention all day, but he never responded.  I discovered later that he's never been called Luis in his short life. He's Jorge. But mommy thought she should write his "BIRTH" name on the tag. 

And every year, there's usually one parent that CRIES as she's SQUEEZING her little one IN A DEATH GRIP, and telling her that everything will be all right. "Mommy loves you so much! I know you can be a big girl and stay here ALONE. I'll be back when YOUR TIME is over!"

So is it any wonder, that I'm a nervous wreck just before I open the door and see the whites of their eyes!  The lyrics from Disney's Aladdin sums it up, " It's a brand new world just waiting to happen..."


And just when everything is seemingly PERFECT, we say GOOD-BYE... until the new year begins again ..IN JUST A FEW WEEKS!
This is my First Day of Kindergarten Letter! My Countdown to Kindergarten packet on TPT has more ideas!

Friday, July 25, 2014


I can't believe it!

I actually have a BLOG!

And it's cute!  Thanks to Designs by Kassie!

So now I need to WRITE!

Not just anything .. but something profound!

Something that will make a difference in the world of TEACHING!

"I Love Teaching Kindergarten Kids!"

OK ... so it's not as profound as I had hoped for ... You're probably a bit disappointed, BUT.. remember that I've taught kindergarten for decades, so my vocabulary is closer to a 5 year olds than to an adults!

BUT .. my statement does make a difference .. in My World of Teaching!

It matters to my students .. because they know ...

I Love Them to the MOON and BACK!

I love this quote: 

"Kids don't care what you know, until they know that you care!"

So .. I'd like to make a difference for kids, by making a difference for YOU! 

After years of teaching, my brain is bursting with ideas on every kindergarten topic that you can imagine. So I'm hoping that you'll visit often to pick up an idea, download a document, or glean a bit of inspiration!

For today, I would like to leave you with a Free  
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom craft for the beginning of the school year. It is part of my Countdown to Kindergarten Survival Kit on TPT.  You can grab the Free craft by going to my TPT store and "following me!"

I would love to hear from YOU! This is a new adventure for me and I'm very excited to begin my journey!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Welcome To Your Blog!!

Just seeing what it's all going to look like...