Clever Badge

Saturday, February 29, 2020, it's hard to get away from in this day and age.  I was born in the 70's so I grew up playing outside till the street lights came on and I have amazing memories of being outside playing all day long.  

I have what you would call a LOVE/ HATE relationship with technology - I love to hate it.  Just kidding, kinda.... I tell people I could write a thesis on how technology is the downfall of families and ruining society.  But that's for another blog post...

As a teacher I have to incorporate technology even when I believe some old school ideas work better, it's frustrating at times.  I get it - there are multiple ways to use technology today and in some ways technology has made my job so much easier for sure!

My mom taught when I was growing up and she couldn't type into You Tube letter a and have an amazing, engaging video pop us that includes a song that sticks in kids heads and helps them remember letter a.  

Research comes alive nowadays because kids can virtually see an animal in their habitat live and write about what they experience as if they were right there with them.

But when admin tells me they want me to use technology ( for much of the day ) when I know full well that some of my students are going home to watch You Tube and play Fortnight unsupervised for another 4 hours I just can't do it!  I can't sleep at night knowing my students have been in front of a screen for 7 hours in a day ( my time plus their time ) NO WAY will I ever feel comfortable doing this and being okay with it.

But with all that being said, it's inevitable that they will have some screen time at school and in my 11 ish more years of teaching ahead of me there will probably be more before I retire.  UGH! 

 My district has made my students' lives even easier by providing clever - a website that allows kids to log into all their different sites and accounts with one swipe of a QR code.  Remember the...

button?!!?  Yep well it doesn't get much easier than that.  The clever site is quite popular and many districts have decided to go with so their students have easy access to the sites they log into.  I created these badges for my students a few years ago and they have been a big hit!  So, I thought I would create some that you can easily use as well.  

clever badge

This pack includes directions on how to add your own school mascot, name and QR badge.  Click here to get a closer look:  

Hope you find it helpful...
happy teaching


Starbooks Cafe Dramatic Play + more dramatic play sets

Play is such an important part of formal and informal schooling!  The benefits of playtime are many and sadly it's losing its place in school. By shortchanging 'playtime' kids are losing out on some of the following life skills:  social/emotional skills, cognitive, and even physical skills.   It's a precursor to relationships, problem solving, and so much more.  Playtime actually works on children's neurological development.  Sadly, some children are spending as little as 4 hours a week playing outdoors due to the rise of technology and increased demands on the family/ increased expectations on school aged kids performances as well.

Here are some top benefits of play for kids:
* builds their imagination
* boosts a child's brainpower
* has been found to help children cope with stress
* increases happiness
* builds language and vocabulary skills
* builds self confidence
* allows children to express their emotion
* helps children be more sociable

These are just some reasons of many to promote play time in the home or school ( although much of the latter loss is directed by increased rigorous standards, etc. )

Starbucks is a familiar landmark among people of all ages ~ I mean you can find one on practically every I right?!?!  So this scenario probably wouldn't be a stretch for your young ones to engage in I'm sure.  Offer some tips and model some ideas for them and let them go at it being creative and silly and imaginative.  

You can bring in fake food, ask Starbucks to donate some cups        ( they have done this for me in the past ).  You can purchase plastic ice cubes that look like ice at the Dollar Store.  There are lots of options, white felt can look like whipped cream too.  White pom poms could be marshmallows...the ideas are endless.  You can probably find a green apron and visor from Amazon, thrift stores   
( of course always wash first ), or maybe you have a  family member that can sew.

 Here is a peek at this fun, dramatic play center in action...

Just print, laminate and set up.
Starbooks cafe dramatic play center
They will love pretending to eat and drink as well as scan a gift card or pay for an order.

Starbooks Cafe dramatic play

Signs will help them know where to go to do what...great for following directions.

Starbooks Cafe dramatic play

Teaching your students or child how to go through the order taking process and checking off items in their inventory would be fun and engaging for them.  

Starbooks Cafe dramatic play
AND just ADDED to my STORE:  BULLSEYE Dramatic Play Center ....same fun idea but shopping.  Who doesn't love shopping and coffee?!?!

Target shopping dramatic play center

Target shopping dramatic play center

Target shopping dramatic play center

Target shopping dramatic play center

If you are interested in having this play center for your home daycare, preschool or kindergarten you can grab it here:  

Here are a few more sets I've completed for your young explorers.

Turning your classroom into a detective/police play area has lots of fun options for oral language and creativity!

This play set is probably the easiest low prep/high yield set to use in your home or classroom.  Most of you already have lots of books, stuffed animals, puzzles etc at home to easily convert your fun area into a bookstore.  You're all set with this pack and some books and things you already have on hand for fun learning and exploring and role playing to happen.

Bring in a tent and create a fake campfire with art supplies and you are all ready along with the printables included in this pack to have an engaging center for your little campers.

For more fun ideas follow me on my social media by clicking the icons at the top of my page here.

Happy playtime for your little ones,


Sensory Bins

Thursday, February 6, 2020

I have ALWAYS wanted to teach kindergarten!  In fact, when I wrote my final paper for my credential it was all about my 'dream job' of being a kindergarten teacher.  25 years in, guess what!?!  I have NEVER taught kindergarten.  

I think I was so drawn to it because before I started my credential program and after college I had a preschool job teaching 4 year olds.  Oh my goodness y'all they were the most precious things ever!  It was that job that made this girl - BA in Psychology turn to teaching and go after her credential and masters in education.

My new position has me teaching 20 ish minutes of intervention for  kindergartners 3x's a week and I LOVE it!  I mean, ok, ok, let's be real.  I have ummm 6 kids in a small group in the hallway.  I don't have 20+ something kids that I have to corral and teach and do all the things with so I'm not really even close to the same playing field as my hard working, dedicated k teachers.  BUT, I still LOVE my time with them so much.  It's the highlight of my day for real.

sensory bin options

I have discovered sensory bins and bags and lots and lots of hands on stuff that I have fallen in love with and use all time.  It certainly helps that this little intervention group is super appreciative of anything I bring and begs for more time with me.  But the creative side of me is dying with happiness to work with them and create fun, engaging things for them to do.

I wanted to share some ideas you can do to create sight word bins AND they don't have to be #pinterestperfect ~ ~ I promise you will still get #allthelove.

I started with large containers - and large tupperware pieces to create my bins.   As I started to create multiple bins and running out of space I came to the realization that you can use just about anything with 5 year olds.  In fact - today I used my daughter's shoe box!  Yep, and they didn't even notice or care that it wasn't anything fancier.  So, save some money and save old shoe boxes.  If possible save shoe boxes, label them and keep the same monthly pieces in them so you can just pull them out next year and not have to move, re create or re do any.  #ideal

Also here's a list I created of all the things you can easily include in a sensory bin that you may or may not already have available in your home.

sensory bin winter ideas

sensory bin winter ideas

Valentines sight word sensory bin

*tissue paper for gift bags cut up
* rice ( even better if you dye it with vinegar and food coloring )
* beans
* cut up straws
* Easter grass
* gift filler ( shredded paper )
* beads
* buttons
* popcorn kernels
* pom poms
* cotton balls
* pasta
* styro foam shapes
* birdseed
* pet store fish rocks
* buttons
* water beads 
* craft beads
* split peas
* cornmeal
* coffee grinds
* oats ( which can actually be dyed )
* marbles
* leaves
* shells
* feathers
* packing peanuts
* chickpeas ( can be dyed )
* shredded coconut ( can by dyed )

*** WARNING ***  Many of these items are considered choking hazards.  Please keep your child or students supervised at all times if setting up a sensory bin.

Just add in some sight word flash cards, letters on seasonal shapes to spell out sight words or even cvc words you want them to read/blend.

I have had great success with using several of these items to create engaging bins that they dig through, or use tongs with etc. to hunt for letters or sight words.  Just remember if it's tactile and engaging A) they will  be more motivated to participate
B) often times engaging multiple senses will help things 'stick' for those kids that need to use multiple modalities when learning and exploring.

Have fun trying out new items and if I missed one that you love to use drop it in the comments below so we can all benefit from it.
Happy teaching...