Sight Word Sunday!

Hey you guys!!  HAPPY SUNDAY!  If you've been reading along this week, then you know we're still celebrating my birthday with a little birthday SALE-A-BRATION!  Tomorrow's the actual "big day" and I'm so excited to be turning 29....again ;)  

Now let's get right down to it and talk about what we're really here for...SIGHT WORDS!!!
As I was writing this post, I realized I had written a pretty detailed sight word post back on June 24th.  At the risk of sounding redundant, I'm going to repost here in case you missed it the first time.
I wanted to start with a couple of things I hadn't blogged about in the past.  Maybe you'll find these ideas helpful as you head into the new year!

I've talked about my Spelling Sticks in some of my conference sessions and frequently get asked if I have a copy to share.  These little sticks sit in a Lazy Susan in my sight word station close to the word wall.  They aren't anything groudbreaking or new, but a different twist on an old classic.  These are simply spelling tasks adhered to craft sticks including spelling choices and visuals to make the activity independent.  They were designed to  kids the opportunity to practice spelling their words (sight words, vocabulary words, spelling words, etc.) in different ways.  My kids even helped me create some to add to the bunch.  I love that!  I realized that giving my kids the opportunity to create activities for the class to use was a great way to reach my creative thinkers.  And I love that my kids felt a sense of autonomy when choosing their sticks.  They really helped the kids take ownership over their learning while reinforcing sight word recognition and spelling.

Speaking of old classics, sight word mysteries have always been a class favorite since I started teaching 13 years ago.  I was introduced to this fun concept by one of the teachers I student taught with and I've been doing it with my kids ever since.  I wanted to extend the activity and create something that related specifically to our sight word lists (we follow the Dolch Word Lists) and gave them an opportunity to take it one step further.  If you aren't familiar with mystery words, the kids have to identify the beginning sound of each word pictured and then combine all of those letters to make a word.  Once they solve the word, they stamp it, write it, and then write it in a sentence & illustrate their writing.

I keep a word study (aka:  Word of the Day) printable on my white board and this is a great anchor for introducing new sight words or reinforcing what's already been studied.  It's a great visual to display and use as a resource. 

The kids will often refer back to it while working on their independent sight word studies.  These little sight word studies were created for an additional intervention piece needed in the classroom, but they're also just great for introducing and identifying sight words as well.  I love that it really helps the kids to focus and break down the word, thus helping with retention!

One of the most frequent questions I get is all about how I teach sight words and what I do for the kids who continue to struggle with retention and application.  That's a tough one, isn't it?!  Especially when kids aren't developmentally ready to retain and apply what they've learned....but that's a whole different post.  Today, let's talk about some classroom tested and effective strategies and activities that are both great for introducing & reinforcing sight words as well as activities that are great for intervention. 

For my last couple of years in Kindergarten, my kids (as you know) would come to me at all different slevels.  Some of them knew a fewwords...several knew a lot...some could decode...some couldn't even hold a pencil.  During the first two weeks of school, I call each of my kids up to the teacher table for a quick sight word assessment.  I use this checklist to guide me.  I just write their names in the top right corner and then mark off each word as they read them (starting with list 1).

These words contain the 220 words on the Dolch list and they're organized by DRA levels & the time frame in which we introduce color and number words.  I just go through the checklist, point to each word, and give the kids about 3-5 seconds to say the word aloud before moving to the next.  Assessing them at the beginning of the school year helps me to determine the activities I'll plan for them in small groups, sight word center, and individually.  

Once I determine their word mastery, I write the words they know on their personal word walls.  These stay with them in their desks.  I write the words on the folder instead of letting them do it because their handwriting can be really large, unpredictable, and illegible at times and it's really important to me that they have a resource they can read.  

My kids also get their own personal sight word punch cards.  They LOVE these!!!  They keep them in a folder in their desks to keep track of the words they know and the words they need to learn and they don't leave the classroom.  When I assess their sight word mastery every Friday morning, they bring both their personal word walls and sight word punch card with them to the teacher table.  These punch cards have really helped motivate my kids to learn their words!

I'm SO sorry, but I don't have an editable version :(  Womp, womp.

When all the words on the punch card have been punched, I let my kids pick something from my treasure box or classroom coupon book.  When they master the first six lists, I get them a slush from Sonic (it's kind of a big deal ;)  When they master all 12 lists, I buy them a pizza lunch and they get to eat with me in the classroom :)  You're probably thinking there's NO WAY kindergarten kids could ever learn all those words and I'm here to tell you they ABSOLUTELY CAN!!!  Last year I had 19 kids.  Out of 19 kids, 13 of them mastered all 12 lists!!!!  It was awesome!  And definitely a joint effort between me & their parents.  

But what if there's no parent participation?!  What if they don't "buy in"??  Well...oftentimes they just don't.  Parents love their babies and  want them to learn, but crazy schedules and hectic households prevent them from helping the way they would like to.  It's up to US...the make sure our kids have EVERY opportunity to learn and practice.  We have to BOMBARD them with constant repetition and hands-on, engaging activities designed to excited them into learning, making connections, and ultimately reading fluently and without hesitation.

When I start introducing sight words, I give each of my babies a personal "Word Collectors Notebook".  It's just a simple printable bound into a book format.  They bring these notebooks with them to the teacher table for small group work.  When we're warming up with sight words before our guided reading lesson, I'll add a word to their notebooks.  They might each get the same word or I might even differentiate depending upon what I want them to know and what they've already mastered. These notebooks stay at their desks and they can use them whenever there's "down time" (haha...yeah right!).  These make great anchor activities (fast finisher), too.

I blogged about this Sight Wordle activity last summer.  It's one of my kids FAVORITES.  I like to have several of these available in the sight word center for my kids to search through.   They LOVE these!!!  Just another opportunity for my kids to learn and practice sight word recognition.

Of course, any kind of "mystery" is always fun for my kids and this activity is no exception.  These were super easy to create .  I just took strips of construction paper and wrote sight words on them using a white crayon.  I placed them in a basket along with a sight word checklist (in a dry erase sleeve) and then the kids would use markers to make the words appear and an expo marker to cross the words off the list as they were found.  As the year progresssed, I woul dmake 1-2 of my friends responsible for creating this activity for the center.  They loved it and it freed me up to make different things for them!

Sight Word Tic Tac Toe is another class favorite and an easy, yet effective, activity to help reinforce learning.  First you'll need to create a set of sight word word cards that will fit into a 3 column, 3 row table.  I created mine in Power Point, however you could easily create yours using paper, a ruler, and small index cards!!  Keep it simle!!!  Just make sure to laminate the table or place it in a dry erase sleeve for durability.  Each card has a diffferent sight word printed on it.  To start play, both players will need an expo marker.  Without looking, players will take 9 of the sight word cards from the deck and place them face down on the tic tac toe board.  Players can toss a coin or roll a die to determine who goes first.  Player 1 turns over a card on the board.  If he can read the word, he places his "X" or "O" on the board, and if he can't, then the card returns to the board face down.  The first player to get a tic tac toe, wins!  They LOVE this game!!!

I blogged about this game last summer, too.  Ready, Aim, Fire!!!  This is a great game for a team/whole group activity.  I love playing this either inside or out and the game pieces (sticky boards and ball) can be easily switched out with paper plates and a koosh ball or loofah.  Remember..keep it simple!   

Speaking of whole group, I LOVE making up the most ridiculous songs for sight word retention during our whole group time.  The songs are easy to remember (doesn't take a creative genius to do this!!) and are so catchy.  The really do stick with the kids!!  When my kids have trouble reading or recalling a word in print, I'll often just hum the tune of the song we made up for that word and they'll immediately remember the connection and say the word.  SO fun!

Another way I promote retention and repeated practice is through our fluency station.  The words on the fluency cards are SOLELY comprised of the dolch words on the pre-primer through 3rd grade lists.  They're organized by list and each of my kids knows exactly which list he/she should work on when they visit the fluency center.  Super easy to differentiate.  Not only are they practicing their sight word recognition, but they're also improving their fluency!!  Win/win!!!  You can read more about this center in detail HERE

In that post, I also mentioned how much I love this book of printables!!!  The activities in this book were great for both sight word recognition and fluency.  We added them to our poetry folders and my kids would read through them for D.E.A.R time quite often.  I loved having these as a resource for them to use and they made for great intervention activities, too.

I'm sure you're familiar with the sight word game, BANG!, but just in case you're not, here it is.  SUPER easy to play and every year..without's the first thing my kids request to play when they come to the teacher table.  In case you aren't familiar with this game, here's the gist.  
Make several copies of the words you want to use.  Place them all in a pile and then disperse the BANG cards throughout the pile.  While you're in your small group, show one student at a time the word on the top of the pile.  If the student can say the word, he keeps his card.  If he doesn't know the word, it moves on to the next person in play.  Keep going around the circle until the word is read.  If you get to the end of the group and no one can read the word, take that opportunity to discuss what the word is, how it's spelled, etc.  I like to tell them I'm going to place the word back in the pile and see who's the first person who can read it when it pops up again.  They love the challenge.  If students get a BANG card, they have to give all of their cards back to you.  It's truly a game of chance and I think that's why they all love it so much!!  

And our sight word chants are a class favorite, too.  These are perfect for whole group activities and transitions!!  I have two sets of these on rings in my classroom.  One next to my carpet/meeting area and one next to the door!!!  

There are a PLETHORA of sight word activities out there perfect for use in the classroom and the activities mentioned here are only a small tiny snippet of what we do in the classroom.  The key to sight word instruction is CONSISTENCY.  Kids should always have access to resources (word walls, sight word rings, etc.).   They should be engaged in sight word activities daily (whole group games, independent sight word centers, sight word studies, etc.).  They should be assessed weekly as well.  I firmly believe this is important as I have seen it work in my own classroom.  When I know what my kids know...when I know what they've mastered or what they continue to struggle helps me better to plan and differentiate my instruction.  And this is key when I'm communicating with my parents, too.  I want them to help and I want them on board, but I have to keep them in the loop.  

You can grab my sight word well as many others!!!...on sale today through Tuesday!
You can find more of those resources in my shop!

Thanks so much for celebrating with me this week!!  It's been FUN!!!

Have a BLESSED day!!!

Integrating Curriculum...Science Saturday!

This week of celebrating sure has flown by fast!  I meant to post on Thursday and Friday, but y'all...I was on VEGAS time.  Ha!  So I'm sorry that didn't happen!  I fully intend on circling back to both Thematic Thursday and Guided Reading Phonics Friday on Monday and Tuesday.  Since my actual birthday isn't technically until Monday I figured an extension on celebrating would be perfectly fine :)
So here's what the next few days will look like....

Speaking of Vegas, I had the absolute BEST time at the I Teach conference!  It's my favorite event of the year and this year's did NOT disappoint.  It's amazing to see so many teachers in one place truly excited about teaching and moving into a new school year.  And if you weren't able to make it to this year's I Teach conference, you can catch some of my favorite bloggers and presenters sharing some great tips and take-aways on video!  Kim Adsit at Kindergals hosted a FB live party after each full day in Vegas and she gathered together some wonderful presenters with great ideas to share with everyone who couldn't make it! Click below to check out a few things we shared!!!

I had so much fun with the FB live format! I plan on creating more videos in the weeks to come so that I can share tips and ideas for the upcoming school year.  If you're interested in catching them when they go live, just make sure you're following my FB page!  

Now let's move on with Science Saturday, shall we?!

One common recurring theme I continue to hear from teachers is, "THERE'S NO TIME TO FIT IT ALL IN!!!"  Do you ever feel like this?!?!?

So often, we as teachers look at our curriculum and see everything through compartmentalized lenses.  If we're teaching literacy skills, it must be done during our ELA block.  If we're teaching math, it can't go beyond that 90 minute time frame we have carved out for it.  And science and social studies?!?!  Well...does that even happen at all?!?!

But what if we started to look at those subject areas a little differently?!  Instead of seeing those concepts as impossible to "fit it", what if we used them as our starting points for instruction from which everything else is taught?!

I so strongly believe in cross-curricular instruction.  It just makes sense!  Not only is it easier for us as teachers to "fit it all in", but it helps our kids to create more authentic connections and recall and apply information so much faster!  When we take this type of approach to teaching, we're giving our kids an opportunity to increase their depth of knowledge and we're working smarter...not harder.  
And then everybody said, AMEN!

First we need to make sure that we start with the end in mind.

First choose your science (or social studies) content/standard/objective/skill and then ask yourself a few important questions before starting to plan a cross-curricular unit.

What do my kids know?
What do my kids need to know?
What are my kids expected to master by the end of this unit of learning?
What resources do I HAVE TO use (basals, district curriculum, etc.)?
What resources do I NEED to enhance instruction?
How can I integrate this science/social studies skill across the curriculum?

Once we answer those questions, we can get started.

I like to map out my science and social studies instruction using graphic organizers first.  Once I nail down my concept/theme, I can plan out everything else.  You can click here for your copy of this graphic organizer.

This just helps to give me the "BIG picture".  

Then I dive a little deeper into my planning.  Let's take April for example.

Our science skills that we had yet to teach were Life Cycles and Living & Non-Living. 
It made total sense to use the themes of Oviparous Animals and Insects to teach the concept of Life Cycles.  Plants and Earth Day were the perfect themes for teaching about Living and Non-Living. 
ALL of my instruction for ELA, MATH, and SCIENCE was planned using those themes and concepts.

It's SO easy to fit in both fiction and non-fiction reading using these concepts into our ELA block.  I can use these themes to target specific comprehension skills as well as many important text features with which our kids need to be familiar and understand (using a table of contents, index, etc.)

And for math?!  GOODNESS!!!!  Counting the legs on different insects and bugs and comparing how many more/less; using those insect/bug legs to create number sentences & equations; measuring different sizes and weights of eggs,....just to name a few!  Just remember that when you take this approach to teaching you have to keep in mind that incorporating everything on a cross-curricular level is more than just adding cute, thematic clipart to an activity.  

Here's what that looked like for us...

I can't tell you how much cross-curricular teaching has done for my kids....and ME!!!  I know how excited I get to teach on a cross-curricular level and my attitude about what I'm teaching will inevitably reflect in the way my kids feel about what they're learning.  It just makes sense all the way around!!!  

Science is definitely one of my favorite things to teach and OH SO manageable to "fit in" when we don't compartmentalize our day.  

Abby and I have created a set of cross-curricular science resources for January - May.....

And August - December will be released throughout the Fall starting with the release of August in  ***fingers crossed*** the next week/week & a half!

And you can grab these science resources...along with several other birthday sale items...for the next couple of days!!!

Write On Wednesday

It's Wednesday and the 3rd day in my weeklong birthday SALE-A-BRATION!  

Today we're talking all about writing...

I know I've blogged about my writing station several times before so I won't go into great detail about it here.  However, I do want to take a minute to tell you how much I love it.  I've always had a writing center, but I struggled week-to-week with planning writing activities that kept my kids truly engaged.  Keep in mind that my writing center is completely separate from Writer's Workshop.  While I love for my kids to choose what they're going to write about, when they visit the writing center I want them to have controlled choice.  I think it's important to make sure we don't do all the thinking for them...always providing them with prompts, sentence starters, etc.  I'm able to balance that by giving them structured writing opportunities (writing center) and then more of a "write from the heart" stamina building writing time during writers workshop.  
If you want to see more of my writing station in detail, you can check it out HERE.

In addition to my writing center, I also keep "write the room" activities available for both math and literacy.  These are mostly completed as "fast finisher" activities, but depending on the objective, I will also use them as an extension to an existing word work activity.  They love walking around the room, finding their work cards, and jotting down their finds.  I personally think the clipboards are the reason they love it so much ;)   

Earlier I mentioned that my writing center is separate from the time I give my kids for writers workshop.  I don't know what kind of writers my kids would be if I didn't give them time to develop their thoughts, plan their writing, and then write for an extended period of time.  Just like kids need time to build their reading stamina, they need time to build their writing stamina, too.  We have to give them the time to be able to do that. Trust me when I tell you that I don't think you're a terrible teacher if you're not implementing a writers workshop already.  I know time constraints, testing, and crazy schedules can make it hard to give our kids writing time...especially when there's so much else that needs to be taught/reviewed/practiced/tested.  I know the struggle!!!

I would love to encourage you to try implementing a dedicated time for writers workshop if you do have 25-30 minutes in your schedule that would allow for it.  It can be challenging to establish at the beginning because seeing where our kids start when we know where they need to be by the end of the year can be overwhelming and seem impossible.  I can tell you I don't think my kids would progress and write so much as quickly as they do without writers workshop.  It's amazing to be able to document their growth over time and share that with the powerful for them!
If you don't know where to start with writers workshop, or need some new ideas for a fresh start, here are my most favorite resources.  Such amazing reads for establishing and growing a writers workshop in your classroom!!!

And while we're talking about resources, I think it's extremely important we keep resources readily available for our kids to refer to when they're writing.  I keep my anchor charts posted around my writing center and my kids refer to them all the time.  We create these together during a whole group writers workshop minilesson and then display for use.

These are a few resources my kids keep in their desks.  THey're used specifically for writers workshop.  These checklists are great for keeping kids on task and helping them self correct/self monitor when writing independently.  The checklist on the very bottom of the graphic below is great to keep them on track during the writing process.  The first visual on that checklist is a light bulb.  I have the kids place a counter on top of that light bulb when they're thinking about what they're going to write.  Then they move to the little drawing girl when they're sketching, the boy with paper when they're writing, the boy reading when they're editing/rereading their work, and then finally the teacher/students when they're ready to share their writing with me.   I can walk around and quickly assess where everyone is in each stage of their writing and help where needed.

The writing checklist is laminated and kept in their desk as well.  I have them take these out when they think they're finished with their writing.  I want them to check for capitals, spacing, punctuation, etc. and this checklist has really helped them through the editing process.  Some of my kids will even keep this checklist visible as they're writing to self monitor as they go along.  The WWW.WHAT.HOW is just a mnemonic device I like for them to keep handy as a reminder to add all of those elements to their story.  If they can go through the list and check them all off when they reread their story, then it's probably time to share it with me.  If they can only check off a few, they need to write a little longer and add a bit more to their story.

As an extension to my daily news, I like to incorporate writing through something I called "daily dish".  During this time, I'd have one friend from the class come up to the easel and share his/her news.  We'd write it and then talk about the components of the sentence, then I'd have the rest of the class go back to their desks and write a letter to our "daily disher" asking him/her something about his/her news or writing about a connection they could make to the story.  The student giving the news would go back to his/her seat and write about the news in a little more detail.   I loved this time of the day and loved being able to give my kids additional opportunities to hone their writing skills.

In my 1st grade classroom, I had parents come in each week and help my kids publish their writing.  This was a pretty simple process and helped me give my parents something to do when they'd come to help.  The kids loved being able to read their stories to the parents...great audience they were!!  You can read more about our publishing parents, learn how to set up a publishing basket in your classroom,  and  grab your publishing basket letter HERE.

Here's one of my most favorite mini-lessons for those first few weeks back to school.  Marshmallow spaces!  My kids love this activity and I love giving them a tangible experience they can refer back to when they're writing.  You can read more about marshmallow spaces HERE.

Last but not least, I wanted to share with you a partner writing activity I share in my creative writing sessions.  Start and Finish partners!!!  Oh how I LOVE this activity to encourage kids to write creatively.  One partner starts the story, the other partner finishes it.  I've included a few start/finish scenarios below.  My kids love when I let them do this.  This isn't an everyday activity, but I'll have them work with a start/finish partner a few times a month and they look forward to it like you wouldn't believe.  This makes a great anchor activity (fast finisher), too!

Hope these ideas are helpful for you as you head back to school this year! Writing is so hard to teach and an area where I feel like my instruction can always grow so I know how helpful it is to find different and ideas and approaches to try out in my own classroom :)

And for today's SALE-A-BRATION, all of my writing resources (including those pictured/described above) are 20% OFF today !!!  And because I'm on Vegas time right now, ALL of the resources I've blogged about this week for my birthday Sale-a-bration will be on sale until Saturday!!

Have a GREAT day!

Back To School Ideas & Freebies!!!

It's "Time To Go Back" Tuesday!

Let's celebrate!

Today I'm talking all about my back to school favorites.  Tried and true ideas and activities that have helped me start my year off on the right foot.  If you're anything like me, you love to mix it up and try new things from year to year.  Maybe not everything, but some new things can be fun :)  I'm hoping this little list of favorites gives you some new ideas to try out this year or tuck in your pocket for the future!

Here's my favorite piece of encouragement for the new school year......


I think one of my most favorite back to school events is Meet the Teacher night.  There's SO much anticipation going into a new school year and that night is always such a great ice breaker for both myself and the kids.  SO much preparation goes into making that night a smooth one for me, but I always want to make sure my families have fun and leave excited for the new school year.  One idea I incorporated a few years ago came from my dear friend, Sarah Cooley (First Grader, At Last!).  READY CONFETTI!!! My most FAVORITE back to school tradition :)

Speaking of Meet the Teacher, these are my favorite student gifts.  Just print and hot glue the bouncy balls into the empty space :)  You can get the balls at Hobby Lobby or Michael's!  Easy peasy!  I like to leave these in my kids' mailboxes and have them find their boxes and grab their gifts before heading home that night.  Such fun!

You can download these...FREE...HERE!

While we're talking about Meet the Teacher, let me tell you about my favorite way to organize the night.  STATIONS!!!  I printed out these station signs to make the night easy to manage and free me up to answer any questions my parents might have.  They're editable and you can grab them FREE HERE.

My most favorite back to school keepsake is our first day of school self portrait.  Of course, anything with a handprint always ranks right up there on top, but there's just something about a hand-drawn picture that makes my heart flutter.  I have both of my boys saved from each year they've been in school.  As a mom, it's amazing to compare their growth and attention to detail over the years.  As a teacher, I LOVE being able to show my kids a side-by-side comparison of their first day/last week pictures.  I love to hear them say, "I DIDN'T DRAW THAT!!!" (referring to their first day self portrait).  It's so much fun to watch them beam with pride at how far they've come through the year.

Speaking of keepsake, these portraits go into their portfolios.  Their portfolios are binders with clear pockets on the cover.  I like to take a pic of them on the first day after reading the book, You're Finally Here!, in front of this little bulletin board.  I place the pic in the front of the portfolio and during the last week of school I follow up with a pic of them in front of the same bulletin board holding a sign that says, "SEE YA! I'm GOING TO _____ GRADE!"

Another keepsake I love are TIME CAPSULES!!!!  I help my kids fill out the printable, stamp their itty handprint in ink, and then measure them top to bottom with a piece of yarn. Once the yarn is cut, I roll up the printables & handprint and then tie it all up with the measurement string.  You can grab the printable HERE.

Back in 2011, my ridiculously creative friend, Abby, posted all about her Jitter Juice activity and after reading about it I rushed out to get my own copy.  It has since become my most FAVORITE back to school activity....for both me and my kids!!!  My very own two boys LOVE this activity, too!  In fact, they BEG for me to make it for them at home because "we're just SO nervous!"  They don't know I have them figured out...they will seize any opportunity to drink something other than water and milk!!!  Ha!!!

After getting out our jitters, we get to know each other through ice breakers!  Because it would be impossible to let every student have a turn in one sitting, I break these up throughout the course of the first week and alternate between activities .  They LOVE these!!!!

We like to sing a lot, too.  Probably too much, LOL!!!  I made up this fun back to school song that we sing and learn the first week.  I write it out on sentence strips and we use it to practice directionality, one-to-one correspondence, etc.  SInce they memorize it so well after singing it a million times, this becomes a perfect pocket chart/reading activity for the kids to do independently.  I also print out a copy for each student and then put them in their poetry folders.

I strongly believe in the importance of establishing a risk free environment in your classroom as soon as the school year starts.  So many times we have kids in our classroom who just don't feel comfortable taking risks.  I was always...and still am...that kid.  And I absolutely hate that my oldest is the same way!  He just doesn't want to be wrong...he's a tiny little perfectionist.  Gah!  But he comes by it honest.  Bless.  Keeping all that in mind, I really want to give ALL of my kids the support they need to take risks.  Even if it means making mistakes myself...just to show them we ALL err from time to time and it's A-OK to make mistakes!!  
I introduce my kids to "Miss Take" at the beginning of the year and this is my most favorite back to school lesson.  It's so powerful!  

Some of my most favorite activities for "morning work" are my exploration activities.  Fine motor is so important and a skill that is BEYOND lacking in our kids (thank you, handheld devices).  Having our kids engage in fine motor activities frees me up to greet any new students I might get as well as put out those first week fires that always happen at the beginning of the day :)

I strongly believe in starting out the year establishing routines and procedures.  Setting those expectations is crucial for a well managed school year.  I'd rather take two weeks focusing on nothing but routines and procedures than spend the entire year doing nothing but redirecting.  These are two of my favorite books for introducing our rules.

A couple of years ago I asked my Facebook readers for their favorite back to school ideas/tips/tricks.  These are my favorite!!!  Such GREAT and practical ideas.  Makes me wonder why I went so long without thinking about this on my own, lol!!  

And I think these ideas are proof that the best resources we have are right in our own backyard...the teachers on our campus!!!!   Utilize those resources and don't be too shy to ask your fellow teachers for ideas.  Brainstorming with your colleagues can lead to some really AMAZING ideas...two heads are always better than one!  Sometimes I think we hesitate to ask for help or admit we don't have good ideas because we don't want to seem incompetent or incapable.  Y'all...that couldn't be farther from the truth.  We're not idea machines!!!  I personally think team/staff collaboration makes us better teachers.  But that's just my two cents ;) 

SO let's continue the birthday celebration!   Here's today's SALE-ABRATION!!!!
Just click the pic!!!

When it comes to back to school resources, here are a few of my favorites.  
This printable packet for Kindergarten is played on repeat for a good portion of the first month and a half of school.  They're very basic activities that ease my new-to-school learners into our daily routine.  I can often identify my kids who struggle with fine motor skills right off the bat, so I'll even take several of these activities and use them for one-on-one intervention (tracing/cutting/etc.) and reinforcement.  

This printable packet for 1st Grade is great for the first few weeks back to school.  Morning work, centers...great or independent practice and review and gives me another opportunity to assess their skills.  I even use some of these activities as a B.O.Y portfolio piece.  

Here are the literacy & math anchor charts and printables that help me start my year.  The anchor charts will be displayed all year and the kids LOVE using them as a resource!  The printables in the ABC packet are a lifesaver at the beginning of the year for my Kinder kids or struggling first graders.  They really help me to assess understanding and provide intervention if needed.

Of course, I talked a little bit about these number anchor charts yesterday, but I need to mention them today too because they're a huge part of my back to school planning.  Not only are the number charts handy, but the printables and activities included really help guide my planning for those first few weeks of the school year.

These back to school math & literacy centers {with I Can cards} were the perfect way to start the year last year!  My kids loved them and I love that they're already prepped & ready to go for another year.  These were perfect for my Kinder kids and we used them for quite a while during the first couple months of school, but they were also an excellent resource for my 1st graders.  I loved adding these activities to their literacy & math tubs for the first couple weeks of school because they were easy enough for my kids to do independently while learning the expectations and routine of my center rotations.  Plus, they were a great way for me to observe and assess understanding and mastery so I could better plan my instruction.

Of course, the first few weeks are nothing short of crazy.  I'm always need a little something "extra", so I have a little survival stash of activities to help with that! 

My first graders LOVED doing these at the beginning of the year!  I even included a few in my little survival stash of goodies!  They were a HIT!

I know our fine motor skills will need some practice, so these letter booklets are usually introduced during the 2nd week of school with my Kindergartners and the first week of school with my first graders.

Our alphabet notebooks are one of my favorites and these swing into action the 2nd week of school.  Perfect for back to school learning and reinforcement!!

These are my two most favorite units to start off the new school year....

Say My Name!  Lots of hands-on, engaging name activities!!  I LOVE working with names!!! After all, their names are the most important word in their vocabulary :)  If you take a look back at my Yearlong Planning and Pacing Calendars for both K & 1, you'll see that NAMES take up two weeks of my theme planning.  I use all of the activities from this resource to plan those two weeks of instruction.  

Right after we learn about names, we learn about colors!  You'll see the COLOR theme in my Yearlong Planning and Pacing Calendars, too.  In Kindergarten, color words are my theme for 2 straight weeks.  In 1st grade, I only reserve one week for a color theme and do a "color of the day" type planning instead.  All of my activities for this theme come from this resource and they guide my instruction for those 2 weeks (in K) and color days (in 1st).  Sounds a little crazy, but there's a definite method to the madness!!

You can find these back to school resources...and more!! my store and they're all 20% OFF today ONLY!