Saturday, December 5, 2009

Puppet Theatre

This Dramatic play center help students with their communication skills. The puppet theatre give student the opportunity to act out familiar stories and create their own!
I used a shoe rack as a puppet stand and organizer. This puppet theatre is made from a large box cut to this shape and covered with contact paper.

For an extra touch, chairs for an audience can be added.

Sand Paper Gingerbread Kids

This idea was given to me by Karen Marolt and I love it! Children trace and cut gingerbread boys or girls out of sand paper.
They paint or glue on features, then they rub a cinnamon stick against the sandpaper! They smell great!

I displayed them on a mini Christmas tree for a fun, good smelling decoration!

Twister words

I love to recycle! Especially when it gives me a new way to help my students learn. This game was super easy! I took an abandoned twister game and wrote a different sight word on each circle. I added an interesting, quiet and easy to toss ball (and one that won't roll all over the place). The object is for the student to toss the ball to a word and read the word. I store this game in a tub with a white board and marker so that the student can also write the word. Excellent practice!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Counting Backpack

This is the counting backpack. I used old floppy disk cases, stickers and bingo covers to create the counting boxes. I made boxes for 0-20. I also added some number cards for extra reference.
For the complete instruction in English and Spanish go to:

Sequencing events

I ordered these sequence puzzles through Scholastic book orders. They are self correcting sequencing cards. I added them to the work work station, after a whole group demonstration. This has been a great introduction to beginning, middle, end.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

November Quilt

This is the November art quilt. I alternated hand print turkeys with tube turkeys. Directions for the tube turkeys can be found under the celebrations section.

October Quilt

The September quilt alternates an autumn reflection art project with the gray squirrel project.To make the autumn reflection you need white construction paper, paint and brushes.
First help the students fold their paper in half. They will use the fold several times to make this project. Next each student paints a blue line along the top of the fold, then folds the paper to print the blue line on the other half. This is the lake. Next the each student paints 3 trees with branches on top the the lake and then folds the paper in half again. Last each student paints the colorful leaves on the tree tops, then folds the paper. When the paper is opened the picture is completed! This is a great introduction to symmetry.
Complete directions for the gray squirrel project and the corresponding song can be found under "reading ideas". I used cardboard tubes for painted gray for the bodies of these squirrels.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Bakery

During November the dramatic play center turns into a bakery where students can create different foods out of play dough.Aprons and chef hats help students dress the part.
I added different kinds of utensils, pots, pans and shakers.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Zero the Hero

Zero the Hero is a fun counting character used in Kindergartens all over the world. I put my own twist on this character. I ask a first grader, someone who had been in my class the year before to come in and be Zero the Hero. They dress up in the zero costume and bring in the bag of 0 activities. They wish everyone a happy _0th day and quickly depart. The first grader has an easier time doing this then Kindergarten students who tend to fee shy around their peers. And it is harder to guess the secret identity of the first grader.

Happy counting!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Apple Quilt

Along with our apple unit we made these apple hand prints. They are arranged on a bulletin board to look like a quilt. I will save them and use them in a memory book to be given out at our closing ceremony.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Cylinder Blocks

I have been collecting oatmeal, hot chocolate, Pringles and whey powder containers all summer. I added them to the block area this week and the kids love them! They can build castles and taller towers! All I did was leave the lids on and put some light blue contact paper around the outside. My students really enjoy building towers that are taller than they are! ( I even saw them take out the measuring tape and "measure" their towers). I really enjoy that they make so little noise when the towers fall.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly

There was and Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly is a wonderful repetitive text story. And now Scholastic Book Company has published a series of these stories to go with each season. It is simple, fun and a great comprehension skill to create story props in order to retell the story. I made an old lady prop out of a mini garbage can and drawing old lady features on the outside of the can making sure to position the mouth on the opening of the can.
I then made animal cards with pictures and labels for the old lady to swallow. The students take turns feeding the old lady. They love it! It is easy to modify this for any other "Old Lady" books.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by John Archembolt and Lois Ehlert is a popular first week of school/alphabet book and it is fun to retell the story though art. For years I have used this wonderful book and tried to get my kindergartners to trace and cut out their hand print during the first week of school. The result was, I spent a lot of time tracing student's hand for them and coaching the cutting process. I realized that there has got to be a better way to do this project without unrealistic expectations on the children's fine motor skills! After a bit of reflection I decided to try a new way of creating the leaves of the coconut tree. I already pre cut the trunks so that wasn't the issue and I want the children to practice cutting with a manageable project.
So, this is what we now do: Each child receives 2 small green square of paper for the 2 leaves.

The child then cuts the corners off the squares of paper. I demonstrate this first .

Then, if the child is feeling fancy they can add some "fronds" by cutting slits into the sides of the leaf. Viola! A simple and cool coconut leaf.

Millions of Cats

I love matching literature with phonemic awareness and art projects! I was given this idea from Sister Marybeth Schraml (an amazing teacher!)
When I introduce the letter Cc, I read the book Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag. We then create our own cats. I prepare a number of tracers for the body of the cat (shaped like the letter Cc) and the cat's head. The students then trace and cut the 2 pieces using wall paper. (Or any other kind of fancy paper you have available.)
The students can arrange the body and head cut outs in a variety of poses. This adds an element of choice to this project and gives each child a chance for self expression. The students then glue the pieces onto a background paper as desired. I like to use black because it really emphasizes the pattern on the wall paper. Then a face is added. I like to use this opportunity to talk about details in drawing, like whiskers and eyebrows etc.

Here are 2 examples of different poses.

The finished product is delightful and winsome. The children like to see what pose others have chosen.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Apples and Pumpkins

Here is a fun way to create 3 dimensional apples and pumpkins for fall units. You will need cardboard toilet paper tubes, glue (I like to use hot glue), red or orange paint and green paper for leaves. To prepare, glue 3 tubes together to form a triangle. Hot glue the quickest way to get this job done.Have the children paint their fruit the desired color. I usually write their initials inside the tubes for easy identification.

I put a photo of each child on their apples for an apple bulletin board. The great thing about working with tubes is that they are free!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Intro to take home activity bags

Homework for Kindergartner's is somewhat a controversial and tricky subject. I handle homework mostly through a series of backpacks that are sent home with each student that focus on a particular skill. The following are some of the backpacks that I created or made form ideas I received at workshops. I did my best to give credit where credit is due.

Here are some tips for creating and managing take home activity bags.
1. Make sure the bags are light enough for a child to carry.
2. Include a luggage tag on each bag so that if they are lost or left they can be returned.
3. Make sure that any items sent home are replaceable.
4. Make extra copies of the instruction sheets. They are most often lost or damaged. It is a good idea to protect them in a plastic sleeve or laminate them.

I keep a roster of which child took home which bag and when. This helps me rotate each bag fairly. I usually send home 3 different bags with 3 different students at a time so that only 3 bags are in the rotation. I check the returned bags as soon as the student arrives and check out their work and ask them how they liked the bag. I quickly restock and consumable materials so the bag is ready to go to the next student.

Unfortunately there are some students who can't handle the responsibility of take home activities. To prevent lost bags I use the following questions to determine readiness. Is the child's backpack emptied daily or full of papers and clutter? Has the family returned their forms in a timely manner? These give me a clue on the organization of the home environment. I also sent home the easy to replace bags early. If a child is late by more than 2 days in returning a bag or objects are missing, that child doesn't get to take home any more bags. If I can, I may ask a classroom volunteer to do the activities with the child so there are no hurt feeling.

Shoe Tieing Backpack

The objective of the shoe tieing backpack is to give young learners a bunch of different ways to practice the complicated skill of tieing a shoe. To assemble is backpack you need a variety of tieing and lacing activities such as puzzles or lacing cards and a shoe. There are quite a few books on this subject and it is always nice to include one with the backpack.
For the instruction page go to:

For the Spanish Translation go to:

reading buddy backpacks

The simplest activity backpacks to create are the reading buddy backpacks. All that is needed is a stuffed animal and books related to that animal. Shown here is a Clifford themed backpack but any stuffed dog and dog related books work.

ABC Backpack

The ABC backpack is great to use at the beginning of the year and then as extra practice for those students struggling with their letters. The entire backpack is made up of alphabet letters. These large foam letters are available at craft stores but you can make your own set of cut outs from construction paper or use magnetic letters. The backpack shown here has 1 set of capital letters only but it would be easy to change them out for lowercase letters later on in the year.

For the instruction page in English and Spanish go to:

Socks Backpack

The socks backpack is my favorite. The objective is to practice the skill of matching. This idea also originated with Shari Sloane.
All you need are a backpack, several pairs of socks with varying colors and patterns, a book about matching like A Pair of Socks by Stuart J Murphy and the instruction sheet found at

The M&M backpack

The M&M backpack is one of the children's favorites! I found this extremely cool M&M backpack at a garage sale but a standard backpack or tote bag works just as well. I included 2 M&M counting books, a baggie of paper M&M's in different colors, a book of graph paper, a box of 8 crayons and the instruction sheet. You can also include a snack size bag of M&M's.

The objective of this backpack is for the children to use M&M's (either the paper cut outs or the actual candies) to create a graph of colors and a pattern. Each child uses one page graph paper in the activity book to graph the colors of M&Ms determining which colors are most and least common. Then the child uses the M&Ms to create a pattern and draws the pattern on the back of the graph. If actual candies are being used the child can eat them when the activity is complete.
For the direction sheet go to:

For the Spanish translation use:

The Scissor Suitcase

The purpose of this suitcase is to give students practice cutting. You need a lunchbox (I highly recommend checking out your school's lost and found for unclaimed lunch boxes before buying any.), a pair of safety scissors and a cutting sheet,( You can make your own or I use a booklet of practice pages that I received from Fiskars. and direction pages.

The original idea for this suitcase comes from Shari Sloane at, check out her activity bags for the English direction page.
For the Spanish translation use the link below.

The glue suitcase

This take home suitcase is designed to help students practice glue control. You will need a lunchbox, small bottle of glue, direction sheets, a piece of heavy paper and shapes or pictures to glue on the heavy paper. I only load enough items for one child at a time and reload it when it is returned. This helps keep waste down and prevents any over gluing. The original idea for this suitcase is from Shari Sloane at where you can get the English direction page.

For the Spanish direction page use the link below.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Earth Day Project

This is a fun craft activity that includes a bit of science. Each student will need a coffee filter. I like to label each filter ahead of time with the student's name written in permanent marker. Create a solution of water and blue food coloring. Only a small amount of water is needed. Have each student use eye droppers to drop the blue solution onto the coffee filter until is is completely blue. Make sure to have something under the coffee filter because the food coloring will bleed through. When the filters dry, prepare another solution with green food coloring. This time fold the coffee filters into fourths and dip each corner into the green solution. Open the filters and allow them to dry. I like to mount them on black paper and have the student add a few gold stars. We also write a way to help the earth and mount that to the paper too.


Spring is a great time to learn about worms! Try this simple worm project. Give each student a cardboard tube, no need to paint them, they are already brown. Have the students draw body segments on the tube. I also like to add eyes, even thought real worms don't have eyes. We then talk about how worms "process" soil by taking it in one end and letting it out the other. Worms are so helpful!


During our seed unit I like to have my students observe the entire growth process of bean seeds. I buy a bag of beans from the grocery store and soak several overnight. When they begin to sprout we start by taking one bean apart and noticing all the parts of the seed. Next we create clear view planters by using clear plastic cups and paper towel. We get the paper towels wet and spread them around the inside of the cup. Then each student places a few seeds between the towel and the cup. To help keep the seeds moist we place a sandwich baggie over the cup.I usually have the student plant about 4 seeds, halfway down the cup.
Each student can watch their seed grow roots and sprout! We usually plant ours in soil after most of the seeds have sprouted.