Just wanted to share a couple GREAT ideas!

On Constitution Day we learned about the Constitution, wrote our own (as a class), signed it, and made little self portraits to display by it.  Turned out pretty cool!

I believe physical activity is so important for kids.  Research provides a very strong link between physical activity and positive academic performance...  (if you want to know more about that, I actually wrote my thesis on it last year and condensed all the most interesting parts into a short little document and added in a bunch of practical fun ways for teachers to get kids moving in the classroom HERE!). I teach half day K this year so we're only together a brief time, but I still make sure they get 15 minutes of "recess" because I have always learned "play is children's work!"  Anyway- we like to get outside if whether permits, but when we're stuck inside on rainy days, we get out the trampoline and they love bouncing away!  It's the most popular thing!  You're probably saying- I don't have a trampoline- but just tuck this idea away and keep your eyes out for one and you'll find it ... I found this one at a garage sale for $3!  THREE DOLLARS!  I let them wear their shoes (to keep it simple) and they each gets  1 minute turn to bounce their little hearts out.  
 I taught them how to use the second hand on the clock to time for 1 minute... and my para also had this slick 1 minute timer form lakeshore so we've started using that, too.  Great for teaching turn taking, timing, and most of all- getting some energy out! btw, when we're not using it, I store it sideways behind a bookcase it it's not even noticeable.  

Do you have your emergency sub plans set?  Want to get a week's worth done just in the time it takes to make some copies???  My BEST SELLER on TPT is a wonderful week's worth of sub plans... do yourself a favor and check it out!  I put all mine together last week (see the picture below for some of them, all bundled up and ready to roll) and wow- it was so simple and such a relief to know that if I have a kid get sick in the night (I have 3 little ones so it totally happens), or if I'm suddenly not well, or even if I have a planned absence and don't have time or energy to make up something fabulous,  the last thing I have to stress over is sub plans!!  I have a binder that explains the procedures and basic schedule of my room and then these plans give the sub and students plenty of quality, meaningful, fun stuff to work on!  I feel SET for the entire year!

Listen to what other teachers are saying, just in the past couple weeks about these


"A GREAT way to work smarter not harder!!! Easiest emergency sub plans ever!!!!"

"As a parent of young kids, it is so nice to know I have amazing sub plans set up in case I need to be out. What a huge time saver. Thank you!!"

"Very thorough plans. I love that I can simply print and copy and I'm ready for a sub. I appreciate all the hard work that shines through this resource."

This zipped file will provide you with 5 entire day's worth of projects and educational activities that you can easily leave for a sub. These 5 days could be consecutive OR spread across the entire school year... it's just nice to have some activities laid out and ready to go if and when those last minute emergencies or sick days pop up. I always keep a set of Super Speedy Sub Plans in a folder on my desk all ready to go... just in case! It's a huge stress-reducer!

Plans are based around 4 popular children's books you probably have in your classroom library or you could easily find in your school library:
1. The Mitten by Jan Brett
2. Pinkalicious by Elizabeth & Victoria Kann (2 days worth!)
3. Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr.
4. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

Everything is appealing, VERY clearly explained, and spans across many subjects/skills: math, reading, writing, health, listening, art, teamwork, class books, and even games just for fun!

I've personally used all of these in my all-day K classroom with subs and they've been a huge hit! I taught 1st grade for 9 years and know these would transfer well to 1st grade, too. 

Okay, one more great idea worth sharing!  I got this from some super experienced pre-school teachers who I was teaching VBS with over the summer and I thought "Wow!  I can't believe I never thought of this!"  So here ya go!  Any time kids were cutting, they put ice cream buckets in the center of the table for them to drop their scraps in!  No excuses for not cleaning up and no need to walk all around the room.  It's a LITTLE thing (like I never thought having kids simply walk to the recoiling bin was a big deal) but it's actually really convenient and saves some time!
So far, I've just been using some little plastic containers and we call them the "mini recoiling bins."  Kids love it... works like a charm!  
one of our "mini recycling bins"
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Word Wallets and more!

The teachers at my school and I are LOVING the new Popcorn Word Power Packs!!  They come with everything you need for the entire year of teaching sight words!!  

And what are other teachers saying about it? 

"Thank you so much. A true time saver!"

"Great way to motivate kids to learn their popcorn words!"

"This is just what I was looking for. Can't wait to use it in my classroom!"

I did a lot of research to make sure I included all the most commonly occurring words- the ones that would be most valuable and helpful for little readers to learn first!  

Words are arranged in order... beginning with the most frequently occurring words first (including 78 of the first 100 Fry words and well over half of the beginning Dolch words). They come organized month by month so you can introduce 2-3 new words per week/10-11 new words per month.

Words included are:
month 1: I, am, a, at, an, go, to the, this, is my
month 2: see, me, can, we, up, look, and, like, will, you
month 3: do, it , how, has, had, in, on, big, be, his
month 4: run, as, would, are, here, come, have, one, happy, new
month 5: he, she, said, with, him, her, some, them, for, all, so
month 6: little, not, love, from, they, went, of, into, was, what
month 7: there, where, what, that, way, fun, play, time, word, but
month 8: then, put, make, out, over, more, use, other, if, were, about
month 9: two, by, many, yes, or, no, their, each, very, which 

One of the cool things that comes all ready to go for each month's words is a really fun little “word wallet” complete with “dollars” for each popcorn word.  We finally got these out a few weeks ago and my class was LOVING IT.  They couldn't wait to take their wallets home and practice.  It was also impressive how honestly they assessed themselves (putting the words they know on one side and words they don't on the other).  

Here they are reading words to each other/ helping each other.

Also included is:
* a bracelet for each week with the words of the week on it
* a trace, write, mix & fix, glue and color page to go along with each word (all of that on one page per word)
* a word search for the month’s words
* a word detective coloring sheet (see below... my daughter is a Kindergartener and she loves this- I think her teacher put out extra for the kids to practice if they want and she does it a few times per week!)
* a roll-a-word dice game (my class was SOOOO excited playing this- it was adorable- wish I had a picture of that!)

ALSO included, you get...
* several assessment options… 
* one you can send home to keep parents in the loop about their child’s progress… 
this is my daughter's hanging on the fridge... 11/11... yesss! :)

* and 2 different styles of helpful tracking sheets for you so you’re able to easily view & use student data to drive your teaching.  Here is an example from one of my classes... kind of messy, but it took about 2 minutes to look through their assessments and add check marks onto this grid.  I decided a check mark means they DON'T know the word.  So then I can really simply and quickly look and see who needs to work on certain words... I was surprised so many of them didn't know "at" and "this" so I'm planning some special things this week to focus more on those words.  I LOVE how easy it is! (sorry for the side-ways pic, but I think you get the idea!)

To get a sneak peek of what these look like, check out the preview!! :) OR if you REALLY want a good preview, download the first month for FREE! Click here to check it out!!

Oh, and I even made the cutest little emergent reader books to go with the first 2 months worth of words... they are AWESOME!!!  I'm just giggling every time I use them cause I love them so much (and the kids do, too)!  (see a picture in the previous post)

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All Ready to Read!!

Here's a list of the words I included! 
I'm back!  Over the summer I spent a long time creating a really awesome way to teach "Popcorn Words!"  I poured over lists and lists.. district lists, other school's lists, Fry lists, Dolch lists, on and on!  I came up with 93 of the most commonly occurring words, put them in a logical order and created all kinds of cool resources to use with them!  Assessments, word wallets (love these!), word finds, games, roll and write sheets, trace and color, mix and fix sheets, and other word work sort of activities so EVERYTHING is ALL ready to go!  For the ENTIRE YEAR! Interested?  Check it out here!  I'm even giving away the whole 1st month of school for FREE so you can really check it out and see if you like it (I think you will!). 

And then I got inspired to go even further and I created these SUPER duper cute little emergent reader books!  I made 10- enough to do 1/week for the first 2 months of school!  They're sold separately and  coordinate perfectly with the words I'm teaching in the popcorn word power packs (and even if you don't use the power packs, you'd still love the books because they are great for emergent readers and cover the MOST common words in English!)!

These are just a few of the books... fun!

They all have picture cues to guide little readers (if they're stuck on a word, they can look at the picture for guidance), the text flows, many even rhyme, and they all have fun endings!  The pictures are adorable (Thanks to KPM Doodles- my fave!), AND they're really slick and simple to run through the copy machine and have done!  I just run mine double-sided with it set to staple on the side... they come out of the machine, I slice them in half (there are 2 books to a page), and wah-la!  All ready to read!

This little guy wasn't quite done coloring, but see the butter on the popcorn words?!  :)
I have kids "butter" the popcorn words (highlight them) on each page, color the pictures, and then keep the books in their book box or send them home.  We did the first one this week and it was a HIT!

So I just wanted to share and make sure you know about the SALE!  Only $5 for 10 books!  Super deal!  Oh- and you can buy them individually, too!

I hope to get back on here later with some classroom pictures and more fun ideas!  Have a great school year everyone!

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More Classroom Library Inspiration... Get Organized!

Summer!!!  Yessss!

The perfect time to tackle those projects you've been putting off... things you've wanted to do, but didn't have time to... until NOW!  I'm totally with you!  I organized my classroom library last week and it was SO fun!  If you're in the mood to do the same thing, I'm sharing all the labels I used on TpT at HALF-PRICE (only $6 for everything!) during the month of June!  

The ultimate classroom library organization kit includes 106 different, 3 x 3 inch labels for your book bins, baskets, or boxes (however you arrange your books will work!  You can see I use a hodge-podge of different baskets, bins, and shelves... mostly hand-me-downs, misc., or $1 store stuff...), and 58 sets of different labels for your individual books that are 0.6 x 1.5 inches.

Here's a little snapshot of some of my library

I tried to include a lot of popular options so you'll have everything you need (you'd use most of them, but probably not all), but if there's something you would like to see included that I missed, please send me a message and I'll be happy to whip it up for you! :)

So here is what's included:

Book labels for:
General Topics:
Animals (if you like to think big, but if you like to be break it down, read on...)
Human Body
Books We Can Sing
Fairy Tales
Teacher Favorites
More Fiction (the catch-all spot for your leftovers that don't really fit anywhere else, but are too good to not include!)

I found these little plastic sleeves at a garage sale once... but sure you could buy them at an office supply store!   Or just plain ol' laminating or taping will work great, too for the box labels!

Seasonal and Months:
Spring Books
Summer Books
Fall Books
Winter Books
January Books
February Books
March Books
April Books
May Books
Summer Books (I lumped June, July, August here) :)
September Books
October Books
November Books
December Books

Favorite Authors:
Eric Carle
Robert Munsch
David Shannon
Laura Numeroff
Audrey Wood
Cynthia Rylant
Dr. Seuss
Kevin Henkes
Mo Willems
Jan Brett

you can see about how big the book labels are actually on the books... perfect size!   And actually, they're also just a  tiny bit less wide than a piece of packing tape, so they're extra easy to tape on with one quick piece.

3 x 3 inch box labels include ALL of the above, PLUS these popular series labels in a black bordered option or a color coded option (purple = authors, orange = series, and blue = general topics). I feel it would be redundant to label the following series books individually because they already all clearly state the name of the series and have a picture of the main character on the cover, (like I'm not spending time putting special Froggy labels on all the Froggy books that already have a great big picture of Froggy and say "Froggy" on the cover- ha!  I think even my tiny Kindergarteners totally understand that)...  but they definitely need a special place in your library if you have them, so here are the box labels:

Magic Tree House
Magic School Bus
Black Lagoon
Berenstain Bears
Fancy Nancy
Curious George
Henry and Mudge
Five Little Monkeys
Fly Guy
Little Critter
Amelia Bedelia
Junie B Jones
A-Z Mysteries
Calendar Club
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Judy Moody
Little House on the Prairie
Jack Stalwart
Ivy + Bean
My Weird School
Rainbow Fairies
Boxcar Children
Zac Power
Ready Freddy
Big Nate
Nate the Great
Jigsaw Jones
I Survived
39 Clues
Horrible Harry
Geronimo Stilton
American Girl
Harry Potter
Chronicles of Narnia
Encyclopedia Brown
Percy Jackson
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew

Please note that these pages are not designed to fit on a certain size of sticky Avery labels. IF you're a huge label fan though, you could easily print these on full-sheet labels, trim, and stick them on the books. 

I prefer to print on paper, quickly snip them up (everything is lined up so it's really quick and simple... you could totally recruit a parent volunteer to do this, get students to do it if they're old enough to cut neatly, or do it yourself while you're watching TV or something!), and then use packing tape to stick them on. Here's why:

When I have just used plain labels in the past, they wear or peel off and I always end up taping over them anyway. :) If you want to make it last, use tape! To give you an idea of how long it takes, once the labels are cut out, I was able to label a box of about 50 books in 10 minutes. Pretty quick and very rewarding!

I am SO excited about this project! If you love organization, you're going to LOVE your results! You'll end up with a gorgeous library with no more misplaced books... even the littlest learners can match pictures and learn to put books in their proper places. Thanks for stopping by!

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Kindergarten Graduation!!!

Looking for an awesome end-of-the-year crafitivy?  Make some graduation kids!  I designed this last weekend and loved making them with my class on Monday... they turned out SO cute!  You can get all my patterns and directions on TPT.  
First, I went ahead and cut out the gowns myself- it took only a few minutes cause I did about 5 at once.  The pattern for this is included in the TPT packet.  I did a variety of colors, but you could choose your school colors, traditional black, or anything!

I ran the copies of my patterns on colored construction paper.  I wasn't sure if this would work with black construction paper, but as you can see- no problem!
Side note-- I realized after we made these that mt head pattern needed some shoulders.  All my graduation kids enbed up looking a little football player-ish because the neck got buried in the gown.  SO- fyi, I adjusted that and fixed it in my TPT pattern so if you try this with your class, your kids will look even better!  :)  Ha!

I let them design their own faces and hair.  They attached their writing page to the front of the gown.  The packet on TPT has several writing options for each grade: preschool, Kindergarten, and 1st grade.  I used one with several blanks ("Kindergarten was ______!  I'll always remember ________.  Over the summer I plan to _________.") but several other options are included, too.

Enjoy these sweet examples.  I have them all hanging in a  line in the hall now and everyone is freaking out about how CUTE they are!    

btw, we are doing an end of the year author celebration where parents come and we share our autobiographies that we've written (I have a template for it here), sing songs, and share treats.  We're so excited!

I have done the "1st grade, 1st grade" song to the tune of New York, New York before and LOVE it... but I JUST discovered the Kindergarten graduation song to the tune of Summer Nights from Grease.  omg.  Have you heard it?  SO great.  I think we might need to start learning that one tomorrow!  If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out this video (not my class, but so inspirational for how I want mine to be!)

If you want to learn more about the autobiographies... they're turning out so great!  I just created a simple parent note to ask them for a little info about their child's birth, babyhood, toddlerhood, and pre-school.  Everyone returned it and we loved hearing and laughing about each other's little stories.  We used that info to guide us as we wrote these pages because the kids would have had trouble remembering details of those times on their own.

I let them do their own pages about Kindergarten, what they're good at, what they want to be when they grow up, who they want to thank for helping them get to where they are today...  they turned out SO cute!  You could have them just fill in the blanks in the book I created for them to write in and call it done!  But I took it one step further... my team bought these blank "bare books," I typed up the words and kids cut them out, glued them in and illustrated so they end up creating a nice hardcover book to keep forever!  Here are a few quick examples of a few pages in progress ...

Well, enjoy!  Happy Summer, teachers!  I hope this post gave you a few ideas on how to celebrate the end of the school year in Kindergarten!!

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JACKPOT! My FAVE collection of online brain breaks & educational, ad-free games! Just had to share!

Thanks for checking out my teacher blog!  But wait!  There's MORE!  If you visit www.HOWYWOOD.com, you'll find my collection of online treasures to use in your classroom with your students!   Under the "Math" and "Language Arts" tabs I've picked my favorite, high quality, AD-FREE educational games for ~K-1.  All kid-tested and approved!  They love it!
"Just for fun" is full of popular kid's sites... not necessarily ad-free, but they're familiar places like Nat Geo, Disney, Nick Jr, PBS Kids, LEGO, American Girl, and much more!  Be sure to look at 1HappyBirthday.com... they have free personalized birthday songs thousands and thousands of names! My class loves finding and playing the song for the birthday kid!

And now for my personal FAVORITE... the place I visit every school day- Brain Breaks!  There are so many good ones out there, right?!  I got tired of saving a few to my favorites and having to look them up- or googling what I wanted...  So I put them all in one place!  

I've also got a few iPad app ideas and  links to digital story books.  
I can't keep a good thing to myself- so I'm sharing and hoping you and your students can benefit from it!  Have fun! 

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Mother's Day Project Pack!

A collection of my three FAVORITE Mother's Day projects from the past 12 years! Guaranteed to become a timeless treasure for the special mom or grandma in your student's life! Everything you need to get started is right here!

There are so many sweet projects you can do with your little ones to help them show their love and appreciation for the special ladies in their lives! I’ve done these with Kindergarten and 1st graders, but I’m sure they’d work for a little older kids, too. You could choose your favorite or do them all… it’s totally up to you. The kids will love being able to do something special for their mom or grandma…. And every one of these is sure to become a treasure that she will keep forever.

I believe in giving teacher's lots of styling options (so you can choose why you like AND what works best for your kids!) so you'll see you have a couple different choices for what you'd like to print to go along with each individual project.

Here is a quick list of the three projects:

1. The “I love you to pieces” puzzle piece pin project (directions and photos to guide you through how to make this adorable craft... and also several printables you can use to display and give it.)
Check it out!  I'm wearing the pin here... made by my sweet baby, Elli!  

2. The CLASSIC “My Special Mother” fill-in-the-blank writing and picture project (Prepare to giggle over the things kids say for this and also the book project below! Precious... and oh, so simple for you.)  Did you make something like this for your mom when you were little?  I know I did and my mom still has it somewhere!  I just did this activity with my class today and here are a few samples for you to smile about.... AND I even added another line to my TpT file after we did this-- the latest version also lets them have a chance to say how mom likes to relax... lol. THAT could be funny!  :) 

This mom wouldn't even be traded for a monkey!  Wow! :)

LOVE this sweet artwork-- look at their shirts!

"She is as pretty as a bride!"

This momma couldn't even be traded for donuts!  :)

I wouldn't trade my mother for a penny.  Yesssss!

"She weighs a few pounds, I wouldn't trade her for a stuffed animal, and she's like a flower blooming in the Spring."  Oh- and look at their shirts!  "dodr" and "mom"  <3

"She is as pretty as a ladybug and I wouldn't trade her for a unicorn!"

To wrap it up, we just folded the page in half and put some words and hearts on the front...

3. The “All About My Mom” book project (Again, easy peasy to print and use! Kids fill in the blanks and draw pictures to finish phrases like "If my mom were a super hero she would be ________ because _______" or "If my mom were an animal she would be a __________ because ___________.")

Flip through them and see what would work best with your students and the time you have! Oh, and note that all of the projects come with pages that say "grandma" or "grandmother" as well as "mom" or "mother." Options for everyone!

Happy Mother’s Day! Thanks for stopping by!
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