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Getting to the Core

Do You need some Sight Word help for your kindergarten kids?  I've got some great ideas for you!  How about 72 pages of Sight Word Skill Sheets with my kid-tested, teacher approved system?  Students TRACE the word, WRITE the word, COLOR the word and then become ABCDe-tectives and "unjumble" the word, by CUTTING out the letters in their easy-snip rectangular boxes, ARRANGING them in correctly -spelled order, then GLUING them to their matching boxes on the skill sheet, where they can then READ the page! Students enjoy figuring out these simple puzzles and being detectives!

kindergarten sight words, word wall words for kindergartenDo one sheet each day, or choose whatever words you want from a 52 alphabetical sight word listing and make a booklet for your class to work on. AND for this week only 'til the 14th of October, I'm offering this outstanding 72 page book FREE! 

It may sound silly, but I'm giving you the Sight Word Book FREE in celebration of my successful cataract surgery! So enjoy. Just click on the link and print which ever sight words that you use in your class, or print the entire thing.  After the 17th of October the book will sell for only $1.99. There's a two-page tip sheet that lists other things you can do with the cards as well.

Besides the Skill Sheet Book I've also made Mini Flashcards perfect for little hands!  I'm sure you can think up all sorts of fun things to do with them.  A pack of 52 is only .99 cents!  Click on the link to check it out. 

Here’s Some Other Things You Can Do With The Flashcards:

  • Use the Mini Flashcards for games, pocket cards.
  • Run them off on different colors of construction paper and laminate them.
  • Rubber band them and make them into concentration-match games, and file folder games.
  • Stick a magnet or piece of Velcro on the back and use them on a flannel or magnet board.
  • Have children make sentences with them.
  • Punch a hole in the corner and put them on a split ring. Keep the ring of cards by your Story Time chair.  Play “Flash!”
  • "Flash” the card quickly and see who can “Flash” their hand up the fastest to identify what the word is. Give that child the card off the split ring to hold. whoever has the most cards at the end of a round of "Flash" is the winner.
  • Have a room helper make these cards up for you
  • Make non-laminated sets and send them home in a baggie for parents to help work on a word-a-week with their child. Have them post a card on the fridge.
  • Put them up on the wall as your word wall words. kindergarten sight words, word wall words for kindergarten
  • Use a flash light to spy them in the dark. Paint them with glow paint and they will glow in the dark.
  • I bought a big plastic laser during Halloween time and my students love using that to point to the words.
  • I have them play ABCDe-tective and I toss the words all over the room and they run around and find them. We sit in a circle and they have to identify the ones they found. If they can’t they hold it up and the first one to spy it correctly gets that card.
  • You can run them off on copy paper and glue them to seasonal die-cut shapes for each month. i.e., apples for September, pumpkins for October, leaves or acorns for November etc. and then display them in your room like that or decorate a tree that stays up on your bulletin board or wall all year.
  • Have your students sit in a circle. Put them in a brown lunch bag or lunch box. Tell your students you are going to Munch some words for lunch. (Crunch-munch a bunch of sight words for lunch!)  and pass the bag/box. Let the children pick one out and read it.  If they read it correctly they get a sticker or an “I’m a Sight Word Smartie!" (These are Smartie candies. Sometimes I give my students a Super Sight Word  “Kiddle” and I give them a Skittle!
  • Play a version of Musical Chairs. When the music stops they have to read the sight word on their chair, if they can’t they’re out.
  • Play “Hot Sight Word!” Children sit in a circle. Pass around 2 or 3 sight words. When the music stops the children holding the sight words have to read them and are out.
  • Play “What’s Missing?” Put a laminated circle in the middle of your circle. Put 3 sight words on the circle to start. Have the children close their eyes. Take one sight word away. Have them open their eyes and the first one to tell you which sight word is missing gets a sticker. Add another sight word to the circle and continue the game ‘til you have 10 sight words on your circle mat.
  • Pass out envelopes of your sight words to each of your tables. Ask each child at the table to hold up their sight word and identify it.  If a child cannot identify their sight word, move on to the next table. The table that identifies all of their sight words gets stickers. After all the tables have been given a try, have the children put the sight words back in their envelopes and exchange table envelopes, then play again.
  • Make some sentence strips up with the sight words and put those sight words in an envelope with the sentence strip. Have the children make the sentence with the words and then have them trace and write the sentence on a separate sheet of paper, or on a paper they can  eraser that you’ve laminated and also included in the envelope.
  • If you think of some other things, please share and I’ll add them to our list. Thanks in advance.
  • The possibilities of activities are endless. As always, I’d love hearing how you use them with your students and any way I can improve them or anything else you’re looking for. It’s truly my desire to help.

Finally, besides the  Sight Word Skill Sheets and Mini-Flashcards, I made two Easy Reader Sight Word Booklets. Your students will enjoy completing their booklet and then taking it home to share with their families! You can imagine how excited they'll feel when they can read it all by themselves!. My I CAN Booklet uses 10 sight words; My LOOK Book incorporates 20 sight words! They also use the READ, TRACE and WRITE formular to really get those sight words in their heads in a fun way.  I post new things EVERY day so please pop by often. It's my goal to write 8 more booklets. Click on the links to check them out. A little more advanced booklet incorporates shape, color and number words + 19 sight words. It's called My Look and See Shape Booklet.  I include traceable flashcards and 5 skillsheets for practice so that your students will be reading the booklet in no time.  It also include an ABCDe-tective progress-praise certificate.  Click on the link to check out this booklet that packs in lots of skills and standards in a super-fun way!

If you're looking for a Dolch Word List for Kindergarten, click on the link. I also have a Pre-Primer Dolch Word List that I also use for my Y5's. Click on the link for that if interested. If you teach 1st grade I've also compiled a Dolch Word List for first grade as well. Click on that link for a copy. Dolch Word List for 1st Grade.

The biggest bonanza is over 300 traceable flashcards and all the Dolch Word Lists all the way up to a 3rd grade Dolch word list in a book I call Dolch Word Help. Click on the link to view/print a copy.  I've included a Dolch noun list as well as Dolch noun flashcards and their Dolch Noun matching picture cards + a tip list of how you can use all of this! I even found a fairy tale online that includes all 220 Dolch words from ALL of the Dolch lists! WOW! Click on the link for this wonderfulf reebie!  FREE DOLCH WORD HELP BOOK

If you're looking for a fun read aloud to go with your kindergarten Dolch Word list I have just the thing.  When I was working on my Masters in Elementary Education one of my reading class assignments was to write something creative for a kindergarten class using the Dolch Word List.  I chose to write an ABC book.  I really challenged myself because I wanted to see if I could incorporate the entire Dolch Word list, not just the kindergarten Dolch word list but the first grade Dolch Word List AND the second grade Dolch Word List !!!  I also wanted it to rhyme and include all the vowel sounds.  I'm a big fan of Dr. Seuss so I wanted it to be a silly sort of book using his format that my students would enjoy hearing.  Wow!  What a job!  But so fun to create and my students LOVE LOVE LOVE this booklet.  Lots of giggle time.  So check it out by clicking on the link.  It's entitled Awake To Zleep and is a real tongue twister so prepare to have fun!

I've also compiled a list of consonant blends, digraphs, and long and short vowel words. They are in alphabetical order for easy reference with some tips of what to do with the word list, a song to help teach your students vowels, an art activity to help them sort consonants and vowels and finally, a movement-chant activity to help them conquer the concept of blends in a fun way!  Click on the link for a copy. WORD LIST

Letters make up words and words make up sentences and they all make up an Itty Bitty Alpha-bit Book that's fun for your students to make and collect!  What a great way to build a child's self-esteem on their road to reading bit-by-bit!  Click on the link to learn how. You will LOVE the versatility of teaching with these mini flashcard sets!  Learn number words with Numbits, and have a blast making Itty Bitty Number and skip counting books! Click on the link to see how you can join the fun!!

I hope these new sight words for kindergarten activities, and the Dolch word information, will help you and yours.  I designed them to be time savers for you as well as great fun and good self-esteem builders. Hopefully they will help promote literacy in your classrooms.

Happy Fall Reading!



How will you be celebrating Columbus Day with your students?

Columbus Day is celebrated in Spain and America. We celebrate on the 2nd Monday in October.

Columbus_pixA bit of history you may not know:

Columbus was turned down many times before receiving a thumbs up for his trip from Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain. They promised much-- including land,  10% of all the revenues from the new lands, and he was to be dubbed “Admiral of the Seas” and would receive a portion of the profits, to name a few things in a very generous contract.   They didn’t really expect him to return.  Perhaps this is why they didn't really honor the contract.  Instead,  he was later arrested in 1500! After Columbus died, his sons Fernando and Diego took legal action. They battled through 1511! Court disputes continued ‘til 1790, almost 300 years from the time Columbus first set sail!

Between 1492 and 1503, Columbus completed four round-trip voyages between Spain and the Americas, all of them under the sponsorship of Isabella. These voyages marked the beginning of European Exploration and the colonization of our American continents.  Columbus, however, always insisted, even though there was a great deal of evidence proving him wrong,  that the lands he visited were part of Asia.  His refusal to see otherwise, might be the reason that America was named after the explorer Amerigo Vespucci and not Christopher Columbus.


if you're wondering what to do with your students,  I’ve made up a few songs you can sing. You can also try, 3 Columbus Day Art Activities + an Easy Reader that’s sure to be a hit.  If you need to add a little geography to the day you'll want to print off  my Columbus Day Geography Book.  It's a Trace, Write, Cut and Glue activity.  Use it in class or send it home.  If you're looking for some table top skill sheets   to round out your morning routine, I've got just the thing!  A  maze, word find, an ABC skill builder sheet, a dot-to-dot (you choose how to count), a trace-to-pre-write, a pinch & poke, a match the columns, 2 dice games, and a ship spelling sheet!  To praise your students' efforts I also have a certificate.  Click on the link to check out this  42-page packet  Columbus Packet. This packet is free through July 2011 and then goes in the shopping cart for only .99 cents.

I save toilet paper, and paper towel tubes all year and have it on my "Save for me!" recycling list that I give to parents the first day of school, so when October arrives I have enough to make telescopes for Columbus Day. The children simply glue a pre-cut piece of brown paper on their paper towel tube.  We sit on our Circle of Friends carpet and look through our telescope and share what we think Columbus might have seen on the Ocean, and on land.  How was it different from what we see today. I bring in a real telescope for them to look in. 

Get Ready, Get Set, Read!

The_Ships_of_cBesides reading a few stories about Columbus (I have several selections from Scholastic) I show them books about astronomy and tell them that captains of ships used the stars to tell where they were going.  Two books I also show pictures from are The Ships of Christopher Columbus by Xavier Pastor. It gives lots of details about the ships and includes some good pictures to share with your students. How We Learned The Earth Was Round by Patricia Lauber.How_we_learned_the_earth_was_round It's also a great back ground book.  The author explains how people viewed the shape of the earth in early times, and describes the reasoning that led the Greeks to the conclusion that the earth was round.


I show my students a globe and pass around objects that are sphreres.  I explain to them that a lot of people didn't think that the earth was round.  They thought it was flat, and that if you sailed far enough you would fall off and die!  It was a very scary time when  people didn't know that others lived far away.  We take turns tossing a beach ball globe and sharing something that we are afraid of.   

Snack Time:

A fun snack if you have a parent who wants to fuss a bit, is to buy pears or peach halves.  Insert a tooth pick in a marshmallow and then into the pear or peach and you have a yummy fruit boat.

More Ideas:

To make a cute Nina, Pinta, or Santa Maria ship, Click on the link. Ships

To read a great synopsis of Columbus and view a neat slide show click on the link. This would be a wonderful computer center for the day.

To make a cool Spanish Ship click on the link.

For some outstanding Columbus Day coloring pages click on the link.  You can print them off and use them for your class or have students go to the site as a computer center and color them online!  My favorite is Columbus holding a scroll. I use it for name writing practice!   

So set sail today on your ocean of blue

and have fun making a voyage in 1492.



 Conferences are coming up soon,

so I thought I'd share some things that I do, that might be helpful to you.

  • parent teacher conferences, conference tips I keep all of my conference things in a box labeled “Conference Stuff” so I’m not searching for things.
  • I type up “conference signs” and laminate them and use them each year.  They go in the box.
  • To make things a bit more festive, I put a table cloth on a long table that I set up in the hallway.
  • I tie a medium size basket with fall-colored curling ribbon and crumble up some yellow tissue paper and put it in the bottom of the basket. Sam’s Club sells bulk dinner mints for $5 and I fill the basket with those. I put a sign on a Popsicle stick that says: “My Y5 Family’s are worth a mint! Enjoy one while you wait!” and stick it in the basket.
  • I display the laminated class books that the children have made as a group.
  • I display our class photo album that includes pictures of our daily activities as well as our fall fieldtrip to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch.
  • I have a poster that tells them to check the 2 hallways for their child’s artwork and our science, geography and computer wall displays.
  • If you are computer savvy this is a great time to set up a power point slide show and have it playing.
  • I set up 4 chairs for people to sit on if they want.
  • I have a sign that says: “Thank you for coming. Please sign in.” This is on a clip board with a pen TIED to it.  I also squish a pumpkin ornament on the pen and glue it on. People are less likely to take your pens.
  • I send a letter home that tells parents to CALL the office for an appointment. Our school does it this way. At the end of conference appointment calling, if a child’s parents haven’t called, I assign them an appointment with a note that says if this doesn’t work for them to please call and arrange another time.  I send reminder notes home the night before of their date and time. The note also says to jot down questions they might have, and to remind them to arrive promptly as conferences are booked back-to-back and are only 15 minutes long. If they are late their conference will be shortened.
  • I send a "Head's Up" note home to parents letting them know that I wll be assessing their child on report card standards and tips of how they can help their child review concepts at home. Click on the link for a copy of that letter which includes three helpful attachments: An "I love you gram" that helps their child practice writing their name in a fun way, a shape practice template, and a discipline tip sheet that I give to parents at conferences who have a child that's having problems.
  • I have a Form for my parents to fill out of how their child likes school thus far and any concerns they may have. Click on the link for a copy.
  • I also have an “I love you, and am proud of you.”  Happy Gram that they fill out for their child and take home. Click on the link for a copy.
  • I make the easy pre-made dough sugar cookies that you just slice off.  Sometimes they have a seasonal pattern in them like a pumpkin or leaf.   I put two in a baggie and tie them with orange and yellow curling ribbon.  I punch a hole in my poem, fold it and attach it to the baggie.  I put these in another fall basket and give these to parents as a thank you for coming and working with me as a team.  I have a poster in my room that uses team as an acronym: Together Everyone Achieves More.  Click on the link for a copy of the Poem. cookies
  • I have a laundry basket of toys on my Circle of Friends carpet as well as a basket of books that it is OK to play with if parents bring their child or younger siblings.
  • I also put up a tee pee tent in the fall and a princess tent in the spring. This keeps children occupied and contained.  I tell my student to keep an eye on younger siblings as they know the rules, and that these are the ONLY options to play with.  It’s amazing how some parents will let their children run amuck in your classroom and you’ll be left with either a very chaotic conference or a destroyed classroom that you’ll have to clean up later when you’re exhausted. Having these areas and things has really helped.
  • I keep a pleasant sounding timer at my table. As soon as a parent walks in I start it. It goes off one minute before they are due to leave so that I can tie things up.  I explain to them the necessity of the timer and that if they still have questions after the conference I will be glad to discuss things further on the phone or after or before school. I do this because it’s easy for me to lose track of time with some parents and 15 minutes goes so fast.
  • If you have a difficult child that you know you might need more time with, schedule a double conference for them, or schedule someone after or before them that you know will be a much shorter conference time.
  • I’m always prepared with a high school translator for my Hispanic parents.
  • I keep a week’s worth of papers that the children have done in class the week of conference time so I have examples of children’s in-class work.
  • I put papers, assessments, art work  and report card etc. in a file folder for each child and have the folder on my conference table.
  • My conference table also has a table cloth on it. I want my parents to feel comfortable so I don't sit at my desk, and we all sit in adult chairs.
  • Make sure that you figure in at least a 15 minute snack/supper/bathroom break into your conference time.
  • I see parents from 2:45-7:30 for 2 days.
  • I keep a bottle of water under the table along with those cheese and cracker snacks for a quick pick-me-up.
  • I keep another sign in sheet at my table in case they forgot to sign in on the outside table.
  • I make sure that I do the same format for each child so that I don’t forget what I have said, or miss something.  I have this set up in their folder so that I start and end in the same place. I have this in a check list that I keep next to me so that I don’t forget anything. This also keeps me within the 15 minute time frame.
  • Carefully think how you will relay negative comments; do so in a constructive, not critical manner. Give the parents tips of what they can do to help, and don't relate information to them in "teacher jargon."
  • I always end with the positive. Find at least 3 positive things to say about their child no matter how difficult they are. All children have strengths and abilities; parents need these encouraging words. Many of them seek your approval and worry that you might feel that they are bad parents or have poor parenting skills so reassure them.
  • I end with “Do you have any questions or concerns?” and thank them for coming.
  • turkey_birdI make little turkeys for my students that say: “My teacher thinks I’m Turkey-riffic!”  I give these to the parents for them to give to their child. This is for fall conferences. I make kites for spring: “I’m flying high with great work!”  “If parents don’t bring their child, most children ask them when they get home:  “What did my teacher say about me?”   This is another opportunity for me to build their self esteem. 
  • I make the turkeys on an Ellison die cut machine and attach a label.  Click on the link for the Turkey Labels.  I’ve also made a little Turkey Note for you in case you don’t have an Ellison. Here's a turkey certicate too.
  • Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the day before your conferences.
  • I try to plan the day time activities with my students to be filled with lessons that are less hectic for me.  I’m not introducing new concepts and standards that require a lot of work; and I try to have a room helper with me so that I’m not quite as exhausted at the end of the day as I am when I’m working alone. 
  • I tell my students that the work that they are doing that week is extra special in that I will be keeping it and showing it to their parents.  As always I want them to give me their “best effort”.  I think when I tell them this they do try a little bit harder. 
  • I notice that they are neater and that their coloring and writing samples are not as “scribbly.”
  • I also ask my students to pitch in and tidy our room up doing some extra cleaning and straightening at the end of the day, ensuring that everything looks extra nice for conferences.
  • I bring a change of clothes that are a bit dressier for conferences than my regular, more comfortable teaching outfit. Putting on a “fresh” more feminine outfit makes me feel better and more energized too.  My grandmother always said to splash on some perfume to give yourself a burst of energy.  It helps me; perhaps it will help you too.
  • Whatever you do, relax, smile, and realize that you have done your best.
  • If you have any conference tips I’d love to hear from you.
  • For another article with some great tips check out this link How To Ace Parent Teacher Conferences.
  • If you have ESL students that speak Spanish and parents that read Spanish better than English, they will appreciate important notes home written in Spanish. Click on the link for a site that offers 12 templates of important notes home. You fill out your information and click translate.  You can also print out an English version as well.  Included in the templates are a Parent-Teacher conference note, Homework note and a Progress Report. Casa Notes.


Hi Ho it’s pumpkin time don’t ya know! At least that’s what my Y5’s tell me when I ask them what month it is.  They come up with the cutest things! 


I like to teach several Nursery Rhymes each month so I do Little Miss Muffet, Jack Be Nimble, and Peter-Peter Pumpkin Eater  this month..  Did you know there really was a Miss Muffet?  Her dad was a doctor and he supposedly crushed up spiders and made a medicinal concoction to give his patients that was high in protein.  Maybe she was afraid of spiders because of that. Yuk!  I choose a student to play Miss Muffet and we act out the rhyme with a black spider puppet named “Inky”.  For Jack Be Nimble I make a pretend candle out of a paper towel tube, stuff it with some red, yellow and orange tissue paper “flames” and we take turns jumping over the candle stick.  I also make my students promise to NEVER ever play with candles, matches, lighters or fire!  It’s a nice lead-in to our fire safety week.  Finally we have fun with the Pumpkin shell skill sheet. Click on the link to print a copy.  I’ve also included answer keys to save you time.


 pumpkin crafts, pumpkin art project, fall art idea, pumpkin carving activityIf you’re looking for Pumpkin Crafts to do with your students check out my Arts/Crafts and Activities part of the blog for some great pumpkin fun. I’ve also got an entire book devoted to Pumpkin crafts,  and an entire unit on Pumpkins.  Click on the links.   A few of my favorites are “Peekin’ in a Pumpkin” and a  “Keepsake Pumpkin Bowl”.  They are really simple and the pumpkin bowls make a dynamite bulletin board. 

                  To make a “Peekin’ Pumpkin”,

  • Paint two paper plates orange.
  • Before hand cut a circle out of the center of one of the paper plates. 
  • This is a great project to do when you carve your class pumpkin. 
  • Wash and save the seeds and give some to each child. 
  • Have them swirl some paint mixed with Elmer’s glue on the non cut plate with a piece of yarn.
  • Arrange the yarn  and pumpkin seeds on the plate to look like “pumpkin guts”.
  • When the plates are dry staple them together. Staple the cut out “window” plate on top of the “pumpkin gut” plate so that it is inverted and 3-dimensional.
  • Insert a green rectangular strip of construction paper, punch a hole in it and tie a piece of yarn from it. 
  • Students can make a Jack-O-Lantern face on the back of their pumpkin with a black marker, or glue various shapes of black construction paper to make the face.  You could also leave the pumpkin plain.pumpkin craft, pumpkin art activity, pumpkin lesson,  
  • Suspend your pumpkins from the ceiling and watch them twirl in the breeze.

                   To make a "Keepsake Pumpkin Bowl"

  • Have students paint a bowl orange.
  • Trace and cut out a construction paper circle and glue it to the back of the bowl.  Children can make a Jack-O-Lantern face on the back or leave it plain.
  • Paint each student’s hand green and press it on a lighter shade of green construction paper, trim around the edges. 
  • Punch a hole in the leaf and the bowl and attach with a green pipe cleaner.  Twirl the pipe cleaner around a pencil to look like the vine on a pipe cleaner.  A bit of curling ribbon adds pizzazz.
  • You can mount your pumpkins on a pumpkin patch bulletin board or suspend them from the ceiling. 
  • If you put them on a b. board, twist pieces of green tissue paper to make a vine and attach them to that.  Make a field out of brown crumpled up paper or grocery bags. Burlap also looks nice as a different background. Blue paper for the sky on top finishes off the background.  Title:

Mr./Mrs. _____________’s Pumpkin Patch.

We Keep Growing In Knowledge Everyday!

Need more? Fall Fun also has some great arts and crafts activities in it.


costumes, trick or treaters, craft activity, Halloween activityI don’t know about your students, but mine are “all about the costumes!” and what they will be wearing to the party!  I designed a homework assignment around that topic where they DRAW a picture of what they will be for Halloween.  They bring it back and share it with the class.  This is a great substitute for regular Show and Tell that day and gives everyone a chance to practice their verbal skills.  This page also goes in their Keepsake Memory Book.  Click on the link to print a copy to do with your class.  What Will You Be For Halloween?

 I’ve even made up a song that we sing “Will You Wear A Costume?” along with several other fun October songs my students enjoy singing. . Click on the link to print them. 

October Songs Two of their favorites are The Farmer In October.  and Let's Go Trick or Treating. They both go to the tune of The Farmer in The Dell. This farmer picks a pumpkin, who picks some apples.  The trick or treaters see a cat, rat, ghost, monster, etc. you get the idea. Of course it's Halloween! 

I just finished a great activity booklet with a teacher's edition that matches the song Let's Go Trick or Treating. It's 28 pages long. Click on the link to check it out. It's perfect for Halloween Party Day! And if your school doesn't celebrate Halloween and you do a Harvest Time thing, the matching booklet The Farmer in October is for you!

On Halloween Party Day I take a picture of each one of my students just before our parade when they are all decked out.  I make a class book with their photographs in a spin off of Brown Bear What Do You See?  It’s one of my students’ favorite “Look At” Books. I keep every year’s books in a basket during October.  To make one, use any Halloween Clip Art for the cover with your name in the title: Mr./Mrs. _________________’s Class What Do You See On Halloween?  The inside verse reads: “Kitty Cat Kelli what do you see?” “ I see Princess Marah that’s what I see.”  “Princess Marah what do you see?”  “I see Police Man Jeffrey looking at me.” Continue ‘til you’ve gone through all of the children wearing their costumes.  The last page is: “Costumed children what’s all the fuss?”  “We see our teacher ________________ looking at us!” “ Teacher _____________________ what do you see that’s really keen”  “I see my students yelling Happy Halloween!” 


My students are less shy now.  I thought a great way to encourage verbal expression, as well as reinforce listening and recall, would be to tell them a daily knock-knock joke. I bought a spooky Halloween prop that looks like a door with a knocker on it.  When I tell a joke I let a child clank the knocker and a creepy voice spookily laughs.  It’s great fun.  They also get to press the doorbell which is also rather eerie.  Then I say the knock-knock joke and they repeat it twice so they’ve got it so they can tell it at home.  I send a copy of the jokes home so that parents can help prompt.    If you want to join in the howling Halloween humor, click on the link for a copy of the  Knock-Knocks.


 I’m now teaching secondary colors and read the cute book Mouse Paint.  A fun thing I do is give my Y5’s some “Magic Play-dough”.  They know that Yellow and Red makes Orange.  I do it as a math equation Yellow + Red = Orange.   I give them a little “lumpin” of yellow, they squeeze it to make a pumpkin!  I simply make up a batch of yellow Play-Dough, roll it into a small ball for each of my students,  make a hole with my finger, insert 2 drops of red food coloring,  cover the hole back up, and then put a ball in an individual snack baggie for each child along with the “magic poem”  On the bag I put a sticker that says” Squeeze your “lumpkin” to make a pumpkin!” click on the links for the “Magic Poem” and “Stickers”.  To make them into stickers, put a sheet of Avery mailing labels in your printer (30 labels on a sheet) and click print.)


Finally, “TRY IT! YOU’LL LIKE IT!” here’s your chance to try a few “pumpkin pages” from some of my brand new books. I just finished some more ABC activities and want to give you a chance to give them a try so click on the links and have some pumpkin fun. 

Pumpkin_slider_pixAll of my units have a slider included. They are a wonderful way to add a bit of art in your day or include as a center. Depending on what you want to review, you can make a letter, shape or number slider. Pictured here is an uppercase letter slider. “P” is for Pumpkin of course!   Free Pumpkin Slider

Free Pumpkin Upper and Lowercase Trace and Match comes from two alphabet collections. Each book has 31 pages. Students TRACE the uppercase/lowercase letter then CIRCLE the matching lower/uppercase letter underneath. For an additional activity and cutting practice, children can CUT the cards apart and sequence them. These are great for a substitute to plug in, something to do when students are done early, a great review, nice to send home as a practice skill sheet for parents to work one-on-one with their child when you need a homework lesson, or use them as an assessment tool. Uppercase Trace and Match BookLowercase Trace and Match Book.

The Upper and Lowercase Alphabet Helper Strip Book has strips for September – June. +  a collection of “What’s Missing?” skill sheets. Here’s what I do with them:

  • Cut one into strips, glue together and laminate. Display on the board as a sample for your students.
  • Keep a sheet whole and laminate it to use as a seasonal poster.
  • Students can look at their strips when they are doing ABC skill sheets.
  • Children can refer to their strip and point to the letters when they spell their name, word wall words, spelling words etc.
  • Use them to point to letters as you sing the ABC song.
  • Use the strips to play "I Spy a Letter." Give them a paper clip. Call out a letter and have them put the paper clip on the letter and raise their hand. That child gets to pick a letter to spy.
  • When you’re done using the strip, or after your students have made their strip,  have them use their fine motor skills to twirl it around their pencil so that they can easily transport and save their monthly strips.  When they need to look at them, they simply unscroll them to review their alphabet.  My students have nick-named their strips "ABC Twirlies"    Free Pumpkin Alphabet Strip Helpers

Finally, Monthly Skill Sheets TRACE, SNIP, & GLUE Matching Upper and Lowercase Letters,  is a great book that has your students exercising fine motor cutting skills by snipping “stems” and adding them to a themed object like a pumpkin! I suggest running them off on two different shades of colored copy paper, snipping off the bottom and giving ½ your students orange tops and green bottoms and ½ green tops and orange bottoms so that the “stems” stand out. Free Pumpkin Trace Snip & Glue Skill Sheets.

Whatever activities you decide to do, I hope these help you have a pumpkin-licious good time with your own little punkins! pumpkins




     I’m not sure where you are from, but here in Michigan the leaves have started to change color and it’s the time of year that I love taking my students on a nature walk for a variety of reasons. #1 As you might have guessed, is as a science exploration, #2 is to see our world in a mathematical way and finally #3 is to use our collections in art projects.

     We collect leaves, then we sort and classify them.  Which have pointy ends?  Which have round ones?  We have a tree book and we identify what trees the leaves came from.

     I like to teach my children the vocabulary word chlorophyll at this time.  I do this with my change bag magic trick.  A change bag is simply that. Something goes in and something else comes out; it changes.  We put a green leaf in.  It’s filled with chlorophyll.  We clap our hands and say: “It’s autumn. The leaves are no longer drinking chlorophyll.” And out comes a red, orange, yellow and brown leaf.  Check out the link for my Magic Videos and see how you too can easily bring a touch of magic into your class room! You’ll grab your students’ attention and teach all sorts of science and math vocabulary via the “magic words”. I use it to introduce and teach a variety of subjects!

     I do a simple “wow!” science experiment to show them how a plant “drinks” chlorophyll by purchasing a white carnation.  Cut off a bit of the stem and place it in a clear glass cup filled with water that has been filled with 10 drops of green food coloring. The carnation will “drink” the water and actually turn green!  My students are amazed.

     Besides SCIENCE, I also collect the leaves to do ART. One is a lovely leaf rubbing.  As you know I like to do at least one recycling project per month with my students.  Reusing broken crayons is one for October.  Peeling off the labels is a great fine motor skill and my students actually enjoy doing this!  We do it through out the year, so I have a terrific supply for the following season.  Send some home in a small baggie with a note as a “homework” assignment, or have children peel crayons when they’re in the Time Out Chair or as an activity when they’ve “Nothing else to do…”

    Here’s how to make a crayon cake:melted crayon cakes

  • Pre-heat an oven to 250º
  • Break peeled crayons into smaller pieces.
  • Spray inside of regular or mini muffin tin with vegetable spray. I use Pam.
  • Put them in a regular or mini muffin tin.
  • Fill tin to the top, but not overflowing.
  • I mix the colors and have them all different colors except white.
  • I do make an all-white crayon cake to use on black or navy paper for winter “snow” rubbings or black and purple “ghostly” rubbings.
  • As oven temps vary, keep checking to see how long the crayons will fully melt. This usually takes 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let stand ‘til cool, and solid.
  • Flip pan upside down and let gravity take over. They should plop out.
  • If they don’t, put in freezer for a few minutes and then try, or run the bottom under hot water, but not too long or the crayons will melt again.
  • I make a mini one for each of my students to take home, and a class set of large ones.

     Oriental Trading   sells  great templates for leaves, or simply collect a supply of leaves.  I tape the leaves and templates to a long table. Children lay a sheet of white copy paper over the leaf/template and rub the crayon cake over it. The raised lines will appear in the rubbing.  I demonstrate how to move their paper and select another leaf/template and rub some more so they have a collage affect.  They enjoy seeing their leaves appear.

fall leaf art project for kindergarten and first grade, nature face art project for kindergarten and first grade     Another thing you can do is make a Nature Face. Do this as an in-class project, or better yet as a home-school connection and send a plate home with a small bottle of glue and  give this as a memory-making homework assignment.  Click on the link for my direction letter home and my two sample photographs!  I blow up my students' school picture and glue that to the back of the paper plate with the caption: Kelli's (student's name) nature face, then hang them from the ceiling in the hallway!  They make an awesome decoration as they twirl and spin. Each one is so unique and adorable!

    leaf_bookMaking a leaf animal is also fun. Children select several leaves and glue them on a sheet of construction paper.  I read the book: Look What I Did With A Leaf by Morteza Sohi before I do this activity so they can get ideas.  My students love this book.  I have them guess what the leaf creatures are.  Because little ones are rough on the leaves with glue sticks and have torn them in the past, and they have not stuck, I have them use a Q-tip dipped in Elmer’s glue. I put the glue on small 8” paper plates.  I let them add details like eyes and a mouth with a black flair marker. They really turn out quite cute.  Some of them are "monsters" or "aliens" and that's OK too.

leaf_banner     I've also purchased rubber and foam leaf stamps from various craft stores through out the years. I recently checked and they are harder to find, but Oriental Trading has them. Click on the link:  Foam Stamps.  I teach my students how to “Paint Stamp” which is also a great fine motor skill.  I ask wallpaper and paint stores if I can have their old wallpaper books and most of the time they give them to me free.  On some occasions they say they will cost $1 to $3 which is inexpensive since it’s a gold mine of huge paper that makes a cool background for a variety of art projects!  I especially like the kind that is textured and not printed.  It’s perfect for my “Leaf Banners”.  Most of these types of “Decorator Stores” also sell draperies and have fabric swatch booklets too!  They are also perfect to paint stamp on.  Because they are cut with pinking shears they look great as a mini banner!

    The best way to make sure you have enough paint on a rubber stamp is to PAT it on, not brush it on.  Children then PRESS the stamp down and lift it straight up.  My Y5’s are so good at this; they don’t even have to wear a paint shirt to work at the center, and rarely have to wash their hands!  I do try to have an adult present to simply watch the table so children don’t get carried away stamping too many as they enjoy it so much, or mix stampers in the wrong color. Seeing how they place their stamps on the paper is interesting and many of them make a very unique design.  Sometimes I’ll let them sprinkle on a bit of glitter on the wet paint for a shimmering affect.

    If you don’t have foam stamps, you can do the same thing with the leaves that you’ve collected.  Simply let the children brush paint on the leaf and then lay a sheet of paper on the leaf and have them gently rub over it with their hand, being careful not to move the leaf.  They can paint more than one leaf, but they need to be careful when placing the paper so that they don’t place it on top of the leaf they already made.  I suggest only painting two at the most.  They will need to wear a shirt for this, as they will get paint on their hands.contact_paper_leaf_2

 crayon_and_rip_leaf   Another thing you can do with the fall leaves is to cut out an elm leaf shape and have each child choose 2 leaves and glue them to the leaf.  I then put a sheet of contact paper over the leaf. The children press down on all of their leaves under the contact paper, then they trim around their leaf cutting off the excess contact paper.  A bit of raffia tied on the end of the stem makes for a great finishing touch!  On the back of this leaf you can have them rip and tear  strips of red, yellow, brown, or orange paper to represent the colors of fall leaves and then glue them down, or you can have them use a crayon sharpener and sprinkle crayon shavings on their leaf.  Cover with a piece of wax paper and then press an iron set on low for a few seconds.  Peel the wax paper away and you have a cool affect. 

fall art project, arm tree art project, keepsake art projects,      Ripping and tearing paper is a super fine motor skill that I have my students do once a month. A great fall keepsake is to trace their arm and hand to look like a tree.  Have them rip, tear and glue fall "leaves" to their tree. For more leaf activities click on the link for my Leaf Unit. and to view a selection of other photographs.

     Finally, I take my students on a nature walk for MATH! We go on a Color Hunt, and identify colors that we see in English and Spanish and collect the colored leaves so that we can sort and count them when we get back.  How many yellow, brown, red and orange ones did you find?  We graph the results of our data. We also graph the results of which is your favorite colored leaf?  Click on the link for a Leaf Graph.

    While we are color hunting, we are also SHAPE hunting. There are lots of shapes in nature and we call out the geometrics whenever we see them.  I have a clipboard and I keep a tally list as we go so that we can refer to it when we get back to the room.  We count the sides to the shapes we see, we compare and contrast as we “spy”!  How is the stop sign different than the traffic light? Etc. Click here for 6 Tally Time Shape Sheets

    PATTERNS are another one of our report card standards so we’re checking for those as well. “I spy a flower pattern with that lady’s mums! She planted yellow, brown, yellow, brown ones!”  When you get back children can make leaf patterns with stamps, or they can stamp a group or set of leaves. I cut out huge black oak, maple and elm leaves and let my students stamp a set with gold stamp pads.  I put an equation on the board 5 stamps + 5 stamps again,  5 stamps + 5 stamps ='s 10 and then they stamp 10 leaf stamps and write the equation on the back.   I have patterns and a poem for this activity in my Leaf Unit. gold_stamped_leaf, oak leaf art project, nature walk art

    SYMMETRY is another vocabulary word I’ve taught my Y5’s.  I include a “finish the picture” in each one of my units so that you can teach bilateral symmetry even at this young age.  I simply draw a picture, cut it in half and show you only half of that picture. Children fill in the other half.

     Leaves, people’s faces, are symmetrical.  Cutting a leaf down the middle and then drawing the other half is a fun thing to do.  Does anyone spy an animal?  Most of them are bilateral!  Click on the link to print some great “Keep-it-folded-and-CUT” Symmetrical Shapes.

     If you want to do more patterning with your students click on the link for my Patterning Book, or if it's graphing you need, clink on the link for my Graphing Book.

     How many parallels to math do you think you can find in the real world today? How can you bring science and art into your classroom and make it hands-on, more interesting and fun?  I hope you’ve gained a few ideas from me, and if you have some to share, we’d love to hear from you!

 No matter what, no matter where... go on a nature walk and just get out there!

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