Thursday, December 26, 2013

Thirteen in '13 Linky Party

Today I am joining the Thirteen in '13 Linky Party.

2013 has been a year full of transitions for me. My husband's transfer meant leaving the town I had lived in since high school, one of my adult sons, a Pre-K teaching job I loved, a house I considered perfect, and many wonderful friends.  We moved one day after dropping our youngest child off in her college dorm on my fiftieth birthday!! 

I made a conscious decision to "bloom where I was planted."  So, four months later our home feels homey, my kids all managed to come for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and in January,  I will be teaching kindergarten at a school I have been subbing at.   God is good!

For some reason, this also seemed like a good year to change my blog to  I had added a blog to my original site,, but got tired of the very old technology on that site.  So, I plan to leave the old site up indefinitely, but anything new is posted to

Now, I am going to attempt to fit my 2013 into these topics...

13. Favorite article of clothing:

I treated myself to this black coat a few weeks ago.  Funny- it's longer on me than it is on the model.   It is cold here a lot more than it was in Houston, so I deserve it :).

12. Favorite movie you watched:
I watched Despicable Me 2 on dvd with my family last night -  fun!

11. Favorite TV series:
Downton Abbey

10. Favorite restaurant:
Gloria's (Mexican)

9. Favorite new thing you tried:

Recovering a chair seat - I also painted this thrift store find with chalk paint, but I had done that before.

8. Favorite gift you got:
Santa brought me a Nikon camera.  As much as I love taking pictures, I have never had a "real" camera.  I am looking forward to learning how to use it!

7. Favorite thing you pinned:
How do you choose just one?!

This is the next thing I plan to make for my classroom:

This is one of my favorite pins for home:

I want to create a gallery like this on our stairs wall!

6. Favorite blog post:
While I continued to organize it, I didn't actually participate in GrowinginPreK's Gingerbread Man Exchange this year (since I didn't have my own class....).  Several great teachers sent me photos to use on the blog:


I loved seeing what they did with the Exchange in their classrooms.

5. Best accomplishment:

Presenting a session on read aloud activities at the Houston Area Association of Early Childhood Educators.  (Once upon a time I was deathly afraid of public speaking.)

4. Favorite picture:  My kids in our Christmas card photo

3. Favorite memory:
My mom's eightieth birthday party - so many special people in one room at the same time

2. Goal for 2014:
To make a great transition from teaching Pre-K to teaching kindergarten.

1. One Little Word:


Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Little News

Here are a few more wonderful Gingerbread Exchange 2013 photos.  Thank you Angela and Drea for emailing these to me!

Love, love, love this idea shared by Sarah from North Carolina:

A little background on how we share:
We get our gingerbread mailbox and sing: "We just got a gingerbread, we just got a gingerbread, we just got a gingerbread, let's see where it's from!"  (like the song from BLUES CLUES - "we just got a letter").
Then we open our gingerbread mail, pass around the gingerbread boy/girl, and then find the place where the gingerbread came from on the fabric/cloth map. Later, Ms. Nik places a gingerbread sticker (as a marker) on the laminated poster map and a matching gingerbread sticker on the gingerbread received to be displayed.

Leah and Sue and Debi also emailed me some great photos:

I also have some news.  I will be teaching kindergarten in my new city starting in January!  So... I look forward to participating in the 2014 Valentine Exchange with my new class.  I will put the information here in mid January.

It seems appropriate for me to change the name of this blog slightly.  It will now be called GrowinginPreK and K. The link to it will still be



Friday, December 13, 2013

Gingerbread Exchange Photos

Thank you very much to Jeanne  and Jess for emailing me some photos of this year's Gingerbread Exchange.

 I'd love to add some more here if you will email them to

Looking for more gingerbread activities?
The FREE printable gingerbread man sight word hunt that I created last year is still available at my Teachers Notebook Shop.

Hope everyone has a wonderful last week before Christmas Break!


Monday, December 9, 2013

Dinosaur Days

I've been stuck in the house for most of the last four days because the roads are too icy to drive on.  This gave me some time to finish up the Dinosaurs Days printable for my Teachers Notebook Shop.  Here's a sample of what it includes:

Word Wall Cards

 Cover and student pages for a class book

A reader for students to color and a full size color version for the teacher

3 Number Puzzles

Calendar pieces in an ABC pattern.

Add your own cubes for this measuring activity.

Once again, I am using Kate Hadfield's adorable art.
These activities would go along very well with some favorite dinosaur books:


There are more dinosaur ideas at my old site.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Thank You for the Amazing Response to the Gingerbread Exchange

We have 126 classes participating this year!  The 2013 list is now closed.
I plan to do the Valentine Exchange again.  Check back in January for more information.
Be sure to follow this blog or Like the Facebook page so you will be notified in time to sign up.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Time for the Gingerbread Exchange!

This year the Gingerbread Man Exchange will take place in a "pay it forward" style.  If you want your class to participate, please email the following information to me (by Friday, November 15th) at

School Name
School Street Address

i.e.  Cookie Cutter School
      Attn:  Miss Flour's Class
       123 Sweet St.
       Sugarville, FL 12345

Please use the above format so that I can just copy and paste directly to my list.

If you wish to have the mail sent to your home address, please add (home), so I will know that you didn't forget to write the school name.

Please send me one email per participating class. Please only use the above email address, so I can keep track of this year's participants.

If two classes from the same school wish to participate, each teacher should send me a separate email.  If you have two classes (T-Th and MWF), and want each to participate separately, please send me two separate emails and differentiate the addresses in some way (so the mail will go to the right class).  This makes it much easier for me to keep an accurate count of addresses and email addresses.  Also, if you want to mail 24 gingerbread men and receive 24 gingerbread men, you can email me as if you have two classes.  Send two separate emails and add "part 1" and "part 2" to your address.  Ex:

First email:  Cookie Cutter School
                 Attn:  Miss Flour's Class  (Part 1)
                 123 Sweet St.
                 Sugarville, FL 12345

Second email:   Cookie Cutter School
                      Attn:  Miss Flour's Class  (Part 2)
                     123 Sweet St.
                     Sugarville, FL 12345

This will allow me to put you two places on the list, so you're not sending a gingerbread man to yourself and/or getting two from the same classes.

I will make one giant list of all the classes that wish to participate.  I will spread the addresses geographically around the list as much as possible.  Please understand that I usually get a large number of participants from Texas, Florida, etc. so you will probably be receiving more gingerbread mail from those states.  I don't want to turn anyone down just because I have a large response from a given state.

I will email the list to everyone on Monday, November 18th.  Please send one paper gingerbread man to the twelve classes that follow yours on the list.  Your class will in turn receive paper gingerbread men from the twelve classes the appeared above you on the list.  There is no set size for the gingerbread men.  I find that the ones that are attached to a card with the letter inside are easier to keep track of.

Your students may decorate the gingerbread men with markers, crayon, lace, ribbon, stickers, etc.  PLEASE NO FOOD OR CANDY.  You may add a photo of your class if you wish.  The kids love to see other classes!  Please include a brief letter with some interesting facts about your school, class, state, why you decorated it the way you did, etc.

All the gingerbread men should be mailed out by Wednesday, December 4, 2013. This should allow enough time for all the gingerbread men to arrive before Christmas breaks begin.

This exchange is intended for Preschool, Pre-K, Bridge, and Kindergarten classes.  Homeschoolers are welcome as long as they have students in this age group.

Again, the last day to sign up is Friday, November 15th.

I don't have a class myself this year since I recently moved cities. I would LOVE it if you share some photos of the gingerbread with me via email!



Monday, October 7, 2013

Gingerbread Exchange

I have had a few emails asking whether I will be organizing a Gingerbread Man Exchange again this year.
The answer is "yes."  It will be in the form of a "pay it forward" exchange like I did with the Valentine exchange last year.  That means I will put everyone on one giant list.  Your class will send a paper gingerbread man to the twelve classes that fall below you on the list.  Your class will receive from the twelve names above you on the list.  This worked very smoothly last February.  I will try to spread the various states evenly around on the list.

Sign up will begin on November 1, 2013.  I will create a special gmail address for you to use at that time.
The Exchange will start right after the Thanksgiving break.  Full details will be included on Nov. 1 as well.



Wednesday, July 31, 2013

IKEA Puppets

I went to IKEA yesterday.  My plan was to purchase a cardboard puppet theater/store that they have advertised.  Once I saw how beat up the display one was, I changed my mind.  I'm sure it would hold up better under classroom supervision, but somehow it just didn't seem sturdy enough to bring to school.  It only seems to be available at retail stores.

 I also looked at a circus tent that they are advertising right now, but since I don't do a circus theme, I was able to leave without it.  It does seem to be available online if you would like to purchase it.  It might make a good reading place if the bright red isn't too stimulating for your class.  I wish they would bring back the igloo tent I bought there a couple of years ago.  It is a wonderful quiet place for kids to read in the winter months.

I did buy two adorable puppets though.  They  are both very soft plush and seem like a great value.  The owl cost five dollars.

I am kind of an owl junkie.  I have a hard time walking by anything owl.  Wouldn't this be great to use on the first day of school with a song like:

I am Owl, I am Owl,
Who are you?
Who are you?

He could even be the class mascot.  "Who's following the rules?"
                                                       "Who's here today?"
                                                        etc., etc.

The other puppet I bought is a friendly looking dragon or dinosaur (no wings). It was a little more, I think seven dollars.  I will use him when reading aloud books on those topics.

I'd love to hear about your back to school finds!


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pink Crayons !

Crayola must have heard me (and lots of other early childhood teachers)!  Guess what I found in the school supply department at Walmart today....boxes with a variety of PINK crayons.   They were 78 cents and yes... I stocked up.

They also had other color specific boxes.  I plan to use the "sand" colors to fill in some missing spaces in my Lakeshore People Colors box.  I purchase these myself and the kids know they can use them when drawing people, as long as they return them to the box.  These popular colors do tend to wear out though...

These little paper hole punches were 98 cents each.  They will be great for one of my fine motor tubs.

This metal pencil box was about 4 dollars.  I love these for storing magnetic letters and having the kids make words on the front of the box.  There were several bright colors available.  The orange and black combination would be fun in October.

These Scholastic dvds were in a 5 dollar table.  The Pigeon one includes Knuffle Bunny!  The Magic School Bus one includes three body related programs.  No.... I do not show a lot of dvds to my class, but there are those emergency times and I like to have really good quality educational ones available when those times arise.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ABC Pretzels

I came across a fun, inexpensive, edible manipulative today in the chip aisle at H.E.B.

These were "store brand," so if you don't live near an H.E.B. grocery store, there may be other store brands of them available.  I was pretty impressed with how well the uppercase letters were shaped.

Of course, there are the usual precautions to consider if using a food as a classroom material.  I would probably only use them in small groups and I would wear disposable gloves so that I could hand children the letters to make their names, help them sort letters according to straight and curved lines, etc.  The kids would definitely want to eat some at the end of the activity!

Parents at home could have a great time with games like if you can name the letter you may eat it...

What would you do with them?


Thursday, July 4, 2013

Picture Books to Help Teach Math Concepts

I am joining in on First Grade and Fabulous' Picture Books to help teach Math Concepts Linky Party.  Many of my favorites have already been covered (10 Black Dots, The Shape of Things, etc.).  I love to combine math and literacy through wonderful read alouds such as these.

Here's one that I don't believe has been covered yet:

100 Days of School is a fun book to share around the 100th Day of School.  Four and five year old kids just love the riddle format, the number 100 and the idea of 100 toes! This book also touches on the concept of 100 pennies being equal to a dollar.  It is a fun and quick read as well as a great introduction for any 100 activities you have planned.  One quick one is to have ten students count off their ten fingers.

Hope you're having a great summer!

Free Printable Classroom Suppy Labels

I have added a FREE printable file to my TeachersPayTeachers store.  It is a set of 18 printable labels to identify the school supplies in your classroom. 

Dollar Deals

I love scouting for dollar deals over the summer break!  Look what I found at Dollar Tree this week:

Shapes & Color Bingo
Even if you have something similar in your classroom, this affordable 
game could go in a take home literacy bag.

Tactile Letters
 (The paper is lighter weight than you would find at a teacher supply store, but still quite a find for a buck!) 

 Paper clock with moving hour and minute hands.
This could be used on a calendar wall.  I have also seen classrooms on Pinterest where the times for lunch, recess, and dismissal where displayed on the wall with similar clocks.

Monster Time card matching game.
The clocks reflect hours, half hours, and quarter hours.
This game is labeled for first and second grade, but I know kindergartners who could play it.

Happy Shopping,