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 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!