Back to school Essentials FREEBIE blog hop

It's time for back to school and I am so glad to be joining my friends for another blog hop!  We have lots of ideas and some FREEBIES for you to have a great start to your school year.  These are some of my back to school essentials.  Most are items I just can't live without and some I could live without, but don't want to, so they are essential too.  Keep reading to grab a FREEBIE before you hop along to the next blog.

Please tell me I'm not the only kindergarten teacher who orders three sizes of pencils...

 I love Ticonderoga because the lead writes better, they are made in the USA, and I like having all my pencils the same color and style so that there are less issues around choosing which pencil to use for students.  Over the years, I have just learned that you get what you pay for.   Why three sizes?  My little people in kindergarten are just learning to write.  Every little hand is different and for some kiddos the big fatties are the best.  Others with tiny hands really prefer the regular ol' skinny ones.  The Laddie pencils are in between...  just right for others.  I want them to have what they need to become good writers.  So, three sizes it is!

These markers are also an essential supply for my classroom.  Not just because they are Crayola... which are the best.  But more importantly, it is necessary for kids to represent themselves and their friends as they really are.  I am always encouraging realistic drawings with lots of colors.  When it comes to people... peach and brown just don't cut it.  These are in our marker cups all year long.  I love when a child says "I need skin color"  and I hand them about 5 different choices.  Throughout the year, it always makes me happy to see pictures that have people of all colors in them.  #diversity #representationmatters.   Multicultural markers for the win! 


This is a VERY handy item.  I have been using these for so many years I can't even remember where I first found them.  This is a dry erase 22" by 28" poster.  I glued flat magnets to the back so it would stay up on my magnetic white board.  You could also just tape it up too.  I use this every day to write a morning message to my students.  It is an important part of our routine and it is a great way to teach and practice concepts of print, sight words, reading strategies...  lots of important literacy concepts.  It is also a GREAT way for students to practice reading in a low stress environment because we are all doing it together!  Yay!  Here is what one of mine from a few years ago looks like written out on the  board:

We were doing an ocean unit when I wrote this.  I like to draw little pictures for my kiddos when I have the time.  The known sight words are in green.  Sometimes after we read the message, I have students come up and find letters, words, chunks, or punctuation to review what we have been learning.  It's also easy to differentiate on the fly because you can ask students to circle different things depending on their level.   I get these at my local teacher supply store and they last me for 2-3 years.  You can grab one at Amazon with my affiliate link here: Trend Enterprises Notebook Paper Wipe-Off. Chart, 22" x 28" (T-1095)

And of course... BOOKS!  I am an admitted picture book addict, so I really think you can't ever have enough books in the classroom.  Here are a few of mine set up for BTS 2017! I have included an affiliate link to Amazon below so you can grab my new favorite.

You can see a mix of old classics with some new ones too.  This year, I got two new books... How to get your teacher Ready by Jean Reagan and Lee Wildish...

... and  School's First Day of School.  I LOVE this book!  The newly built school tells the story about the first day and it is so sweet!  I highly recommend it.  I am going to read it on the first or second day this year.  I still haven't decided.

I also think it is important to have a few things around your classroom that make you happy!  If it's flair pens, get 'em!  Colorful classroom decor?  Do it!  We work hard teaching little learners and it's important for us to have some things that keep us positive, make us happy, and help us to love our jobs even on those tough and tired days.  These are a few goodies I got for myself this year...

 I know I'm a little late to the washi tape party, but Oh my goodness, they are so much fun!  And these sweet planner stickers make this teacher happy!  So if there are some little things you want to brighten up your life for back to school, I say go for it!  For those of you that know me, you also know that shimmering little pencil is one of my essentials too!  They are a bit more expensive, but oohhh!  I just love them soooo muuuuch...  You can grab some too: 72 Pencils Total (6 packs of 12 count pencils)Dixon Ticonderoga Black Wood-Cased Black Writing No. 2 Soft Noir Pencils ,Holographic Design

My last tip is that  taking care of ourselves is essential!  Having a drawer somewhere in your classroom for some energy bars, chocolate, and other yummy but healthy snacks will help make those days at the beginning of the year easier.  You know that time of day when you need to stay another hour but lunch is gone and you just need a little something to keep going?  Sometimes there are unhealthy things in the teacher room calling my name...  That's when a nibble of organic dark chocolate, some nuts, or a Larabar hits the spot.  When you have a snack stash, it's there for you ready to go.

These are some products I have made to make my life easier for back to school.  These save my time and sanity during the first month of school, and I hope they help you too!  So learning letters and sounds is the first order of business in kindergarten.  There are many learning activities to help with this, but here are a few of my essentials:

These ABC Letter-Sound Picture cards help my students learn letter sounds and support us with many other learning activities.  We love to use these for games and sorting pictures by beginning sound.  They are also really helpful for making these little books:

This little book is so helpful for learning letters, sounds, and beginning reading strategies like pointing as you read.  Yay!  You can find it here: ABC Book!  Student made Emergent Reader.   Each day we learn a new letter and then students make a page for the book as a center activity.   Students can choose to draw a picture of something that they already know begins with the letter.  This reinforces a strong letter-sound association for him/her.  On letters that aren't yet known, the cards above come in handy with ideas for ideas to go in the book.  I have adults write the words so they are neat and legible.  This is the first book that goes into our book boxes and my little kinder students feel so successful reading it!


This is how I teach the letters to my students.   Each day we add to this Kinesthetic Alphabet chant with a new letter and then students make a page in their books for that letter.  The book above comes with a version to match this alphabet chant where kids can just color in the picture.  But, for kinder students I recommend giving them the choice about what to draw (for reasons above) as long as it begins with the right letter.

So... doing a kinesthetic alphabet chant is nothing new.  I have been doing my own version of this in one way or another since my very first year of teaching...  um...  20 years ago. (yikes!)  But, I have tweaked it over time and continue to teach letters this way because it WORKS!  It is visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.  It takes less than ten minutes to do the whole chant once it has been learned.  I also have a visual reference with these same letter characters on my wall, and on my alphabet charts that are always out for students when we are writing.  I also use these charts in my guided reading groups to review letters and sounds as needed.  They are ESSENTIAL!  and FREE!

You can grab them in my TpT store right here:  Alphabet Chart for Students  It also comes with a bonus blends and digraph chart too!

I copy them on colored paper and laminate them.  I put a word wall chart on the back with high frequency words needed for writing.  I hope these are a big help to you this year!

Hop on over to my friend Cristina Mc Crone over at Primary Besties:  Back to School Essentials #kinderfriends

Thanks so much for stopping by!

2017-18 Calendars are here!

Are you starting to think about next school year yet?  I hope not!  If you are a teacher, I hope that is the last thing on your mind.  But, honestly, this is the time when we reflect about went well, what we want to do better, and new things we might try next year...  or maybe you are thinking about vacation, baseball, and beating the heat. 

These calendars are the first thing I do each summer for back to school because I have so many teachers who depend on me to make calendars for their students each year.  We all use these for kids to learn and practice writing numbers to 30 in our classrooms.  This is an activity teachers have been doing for years and it is one of the few things I have NOT kicked to the curb since common core came along.

When CCSS came along, there were so many new activities to try, new curriculum to implement, and I felt like there was not enough time for everything...  especially in a partial day kindergarten.  There were so many old activities that just had to go.  But this activity is still my go to for monthly number writing.   There are so many concepts we work on each time we do this...  of course the actual handwriting of numbers, which is TRICKY for little learners.  And of course there is the rote counting and remembering the number order.  We also do a lot of work on the order of numerals in the two digit numbers.  We look at patterns that can help us remember.  Kids also learn to use tools in the classroom to help themselves.  Many students work on perseverance, focus, and time management as well.

Even though I really do like my adopted math curriculum, it doesn't give the kiddos as much practice with number writing as they need.  So this is an important area to supplement.  If I don't send them to first grade knowing this, then I have failed.  My friend next door teaching first grade still does this in her room every year too.   The kids benefit from fine motor practice and double digit number practice.  Did I mention that the families LOVE getting these at home each month?  I have parents comment on them all the time.  I even have kids tell me where they put the calendar in their homes.

OK, so... clearly this is a tried and true learning activity.  Are you doing these in your classroom?  If not, why?

Is it because you don't have time to think up an art project each month?  I've got you covered!  My calendar product comes with art ideas for the entire year with details about how we did the project.  I update it each year with new projects.  It also has links to my Pinterest boards so you can search for new ideas.  Is it because you don't want to have to buy a new download each year?  Got you covered there too!  My calendar product is perpetual, so you automatically get a new download each year.  Just go into My Purchases on TpT, find the calendar product and download again!  Easy Peasy!

So, if you own my Calendars for Number Writing ~Perpetual~  go download it and grab your new calendars.  If you don't have it yet, you might want to consider investing in it.  I have a commitment to make these calendars through 2028, and will probably make them well after that.  The price will be going up when the school year begins, so I hope you get it this summer to save.

Let's look at some adorable seasonal art and then I will show you the new calendar set for 2017-2018.

This apple is adorable!  We did an apple unit that year and we talked about the variations in colors even on apples from the same variety.  I thought it came out beautiful!

This baby jack-o-lantern is so cute.  This little guy didn't want to do lots of cutting, but I thought he was really creative with how he did the eyes and the tiny vampire tooth.  You can find more fun and funky jack-o-lanterns on this blog post: It's Pumpkin time!

This was a fun project for November!  We just did a construction paper collage on cut paper plates for the pie.  The napkin is construction paper too.  We glued on a fort to make it complete!

This is one of my favorite projects for December.  I always have several colors of paper available so kids can make candles any color they like.  That way we honor any family celebrations or lack thereof.  The greens are just ripped paper glued on in two shades of green.  You can do ripped red paper for berries, or glitter berries too.  The flame is gold glitter.

This is my new favorite winter art project.  We did these last year for December and they all came our just beautiful.  This was a two part project.  First, kids make a tissue paper collage on card stock using a glue-water mixture.  After this dried, they cut out triangle shaped trees and glued them on the dark background paper.  Lastly, they dotted on white tempera paint using cotton swabs to make snow.  Each one came out as unique as the child that made it, but they were all lovely. 

This project was a water color resist using white oil pastels on white paper.  Kids cold draw trees, houses, snow people, snowflakes, etc.  It was an open ended winter drawing.  Then they painted over the drawing with winter sky colors like blue, purple, etc.  It is always an experiment doing water color resist with young kids.  They have to press hard with the pastels.  I just loved the way this one came out.  I like the colors and how it isn't "perfect".  It is beautiful.

I just adore these love bugs!  They made great art for our calendars a few years ago.  I used Ellison die cuts for the hearts and circles.  I cut some of the circles in half for the wings.  We had lots of different colors available for our little artists.  We also used googly eyes and oil pastels for details.

This spring calendar was also done with Ellison die cuts.  We have the flower die at school.  I made lots of those in yellow and white and the kids used tissue to make the little centers for the flowers.  They are supposed to look like daffodils... even though they aren't really accurate, they are still pretty flowers for March.

OK, this is the last one...  Earth Day art for April!  This earth template and the little Everyday is Earth Day sign are FREE in my TpT store.  They are part of an Earth Day writing activity  You can grab them right here: Earth Day FREEBIE!

Oh my goodness... that is a lot of art!  So even if you don't use my calendars in your classroom, I hope you found some ideas that you can use!  Here are my Calendars for Number Writing 2017-2018:

Thanks for stopping by!
Happy teaching!

Eggcellent ideas for Spring and a GIVEAWAY!

 I have ideas for activities with eggs for you.  The #kinderfriends are doing a give away too, so be sure to enter! I also have a sweet freebie for you. Keep reading so you can grab it.

I love doing a mini unit on spring with my class right before break.  Part of that unit is learning about all the baby animals being born.  It is really fun to learn about how many different animals come from eggs!  That's why I made this sweet little emergent reader:

My kiddos LOVE this book!  You can grab it right here:  Emergent Reader: Oviparous Animals - What Comes From an Egg?   We really enjoyed learning about a new animal each day for the next page.   I did a Google search each morning to show the kids real images for the eggs.  I projected the images on the big screen in our classroom. 

I also had some great books to read to my sweet students on this topic.  You can find lots more ideas for books and other activities about eggs and spring here:  Baby Birds! Spring ideas from Mrs. Byrd   You can also grab some tips on coloring eggs in your classroom and grab a FREEBIE for spring word work with plastic eggs here: Coloring eggs in the Classroom .

It's fun to have your students design a colorful egg for spring.  This is my teacher example that I show my students as I explain the art project to them.  You can see how we made these eggs on this blog post: Melt Art Fun!  I had a cute little bird in my egg.  But, it's fun to let your students pick whatever animal they want to come out of the egg.  

It's also really fun to hatch real eggs in your classroom.  Last year, some kids at school found these little yellow eggs and we hatched  them in our room.  We watched them go from eggs to larvae to pupae and finally we had live adult ladybugs.  It was an adventure every day finding aphids.  I am so glad I happened to have a great little habitat for the buggies!  I posted pictures and videos about the ladybugs on Instagram.  I try to post something on Insta from my classroom each day.  You can find me on Instagram here:  @mrsbyrdslearningtree

This year a sweet parent brought in some tadpoles from her pond.  It's been a learning experience keeping them.  None of us had ever tried to watch the frog life cycle in a classroom before.  Thankfully another sweet mom brought in a great bowl to keep them in.  

I was worried about how they would do over spring break and I was THRILLED today when they were still doing fine.  Yay! 


 Isn't this little guy cute?

OK, it's FREEBIE time!!!
I wanted a fun little number, counting, and number word review for my class this spring.  So I put together this little math station activity.  It is FREE this week only!  Grab it by Thursday April 13th 2017.  It will turn into a regular priced item on Thursday night.  The link is below.

I have kids work collaboratively to put the numeral cards in order first.   Then they take turns matching the nests and word cards to the numbers.    This set also has two worksheets to reinforce the concepts.  One is to practice the number words and neat handwriting.

The other sheet is a cut and paste matching numerals and number of eggs.  It's a cute one:

I hope this is a big help to you!  You can grab it in my TpT store here: Spring Eggs Number Match

Don't forget to enter the #kinderfriends giveaway.  Some buddies and I are giving away some "EGGSTRA" special spring products.  One lucky winner will get all 7 packs!  Woo hoo!  Hope you win:)

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Happy teaching!

Spring is in the Air FREEBIES blog hop!

I am so happy to be joining my #kinderfriends for another blog hop!  This one is loaded with lots of FREEBIES for you to use this spring.  We are having a sale too!  Just search on TpT using #kinderfriends and you will find all of our special spring deals.  Make sure you read through this entire post so your grab all the freebies I have for you.

We just had our first warm week last week and I am so ready for the warm weather.  But this week is another filled with cold and rain.  Spring is here, but it may be a while before it totally kicks in.  Spring fever in my classroom has kicked in, though.  Oh my goodness, we have been working on behavior!  If you want to grab a free printable that I use in my classroom to help with spring fever, you can grab it right here: Spring Fever FREEBIE!

The kiddos are excited and I am too.  I am getting excited for the fun spring themes coming our way.  Flowers are popping up everywhere, so I made a little hands on center activity for subtraction practice.  It is FREE through March 23rd only!  Check it out...

It's a subtraction sorting activity.  Kids sort the leaves onto the flower with the answer to the problem.  My kids will have manipulatives to do the problems hands-on if they need them.  I will encourage mental math, but subtraction can be tricky for our kindergarten darlings, so here is an example of the additional support using manipuatives:

The problem on the leaf is 8-4, the child starts with 8 flower erasers on the ten frame, and then takes away 4.  She is left with 4.  Then she places the leaf on the 4 flower.  The ten frame in this photo is perfect for those little erasers that we all love to use as math manipulatives.  They are a part of a ten frame cards set I made to help with math and number talks in my classroom.  You can grab those right here: Ten Frame Number Cards 0-10

The subtraction sort activity has problems with answers 2, 3, 4, and 5.

It also has two cut and paste worksheets for students to do as homework or extra practice.  I hope this is helpful to you!  This subtraction sort is FREE until March 23rd only!  You can go  grab it right here: Spring Flower Subtraction Sort
Spring means active learning is more important than ever.  Subtraction is such a big math concept for kindergarten kiddos, we will need fun ways to practice for the rest of the school year.  So I made a fun little recording sheet to do subtraction bowling in your classroom.  I wanted to start with only 6 cups in the beginning because that's what my students needed.

 After making this for 6, I decided to make it for 10, 15, and 21 as well.  That way, I can differentiate for my class and my first grade friends will be able to have fun with this activity too.  I make double sided copies of this sheet and kids have them on clip boards while doing the activity.  I like to do this as a small group station.  Kids can write number sentences for every turn or just their own.  It is a fun way to practice math facts and solidify those subtraction skills.

This is another spring FREEBIE for you!  You can grab the number 10 recording sheet right here: Subtraction Bowling FREEBIE   If you want the recording sheets for all the numbers, you can grab it in my TpT store right here: Subtraction Bowling ~ Number Sentence Recording Sheets

Don't forget that we are having a Spring SALE through March 23rd.  Just search the #kinderfriends hashtag in the TpT search box at the top of the screen to grab some great things to make this your best spring ever!

Hop along to my friend Cara over at Kindergarten Boom Boom
for more FREEBIES and fun!

Thanks for stopping by!