We’re Moving!

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That’s right, we’re moving websites! Well, kind of. All of this current content will stay here at Collaborating In Kinder for ease of access, but all NEW content will be at my new website:

Natalie Lynn Kindergarten

I am so excited about this brand new adventure! Here’s a peek at 2 of y most recent blogs over there:

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This post will give you easy step-by-step ideas for teaching guided writing that you can implement TODAY!

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This post will give you an in-depth look at my Editable Sight Word Centers for December and how you can keep your students engaged once the snow starts falling!

I hope to see you over there!

9 Easy, Hands-On Word Work Ideas

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We know that kids learn best when they’re engaged in hands-on learning, but it can be hard to think of new ways to keep them practicing the same word work skills! That’s why i’ve come up with these easy STEM-based ideas that use items you most likely have in your classroom already!

These activities are perfect for centers, morning tubs, early finisher activities, whatever you need!

You may be thinking… can my kids handle these? YES! As long as you set the procedures and expectations and then follow through with your management, then yes, your students can handle these centers. In fact, i’ve found that kids are less likely to misuse materials when they’re engaged in the task at hand!

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Students can use the hashtag building blocks from Target to build words.

This is the only item that most teachers might not have, but if you visited Bullseye’s Playground this summer, there’s a chance you picked these up! These are the $1 hashtag building blocks, but honestly, there are MANY different building materials similar to this online!

I used the sight word cards from my Morning Tubs pack, but you could use words on index cards, spelling lists, letters, anything you want your students to build!

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Students can use geo-boards to make letters.

Geo-boards are perfect for making letters, numbers, or shapes! I do suggest getting some smaller rubber bands (like they small ones you can find in the hair styling aisle) if you want your students to be able to make shorter links.

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Students can make words using mini-erasers.

Mini-erasers are such a fun way to build words and you can keep this fresh by switching them out seasonally! I get my erasers from Target’s Bullseye’s Playground every season. I also like to add in a fine motor component by having students use tweezers to pick up each eraser.

You can have students free-form words from a word wall or word list, or you can use pre-made mats. I often use my sight word playdough mats for this activity!

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Students can use connecting cubes to form letters or words.

Using connecting cubes to build letters and words is an activity that never gets old for my students! These cards are from my September Morning Tubs for Kindergarten, but you could make this even more challenging by simply having your students choose a magnetic letter and build it without a model!

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Students can use playdough to form words.

Playdough is one of those mediums that teachers either love or hate, usually depending on what type of flooring you have. I have tile floors so I LOVE using playdough! This is such a great way to build up students’ fine motor muscles!

Students can form letters or words by rolling the playdough into “snakes” and then twisting it. Also, a good alternative to ink pads and stamping is to have students stamp into playdough! I show an example of this in my 8 Fun, Free Letter Review Activities post.

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Students can use tangrams to build letters and words.

Tangrams are great to build letters and words with and you can incorporate math by having students identify the shapes they used and counting how many they used of each one!

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Students can use tweezers and pom-poms to form letters.

This is one of my FAVORITE fine motor activities! Similar to the mini-erasers, students can use tweezers to pick up pom-poms and use them to form letters or words! In the winter, I swap in white pom-poms to be “snowballs!”

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Students can use base 10 blocks to build words.

You can easily integrate word work into math with this activity! Students will make words using rods and cubes. You can extend it by having them identify how many ones and tens the word is worth. In kindergarten, I will often have my students use just the cubes and then count them.

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Students can use plastic links to make letters.

I’m sure by now you’ve caught on – i’m just taking any manipulatives and using them to make the same activity feel new and exciting! Here students will use plastic links to make letters or words.

Do you have any more fun, hands-on word work ideas that I didn’t list here? Let us know down below!

Also, I am now on facebook! Come connect with me there:

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Kindergarten Math Made Easy! (Plus, a Flash Freebie!)

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Have you ever struggled with how to teach the required math standards.. but still make it fun and – most important – at the right level for every one of your students?

I’ll admit it. I have. I developed these math units after struggling to make our big box curriculum meet our needs and finding I needed to supplement a whole lot. These units have been classroom-tested and kid approved. I’ve used these units the past 3 years and my kids have never loved math more – or had better data!

I’m even more excited about them now because, by popular demand, I am currently working on adding differentiation options to each unit! I just finished Unit 1 Numbers to 5 and I am in love. I have included below level/intervention and enrichment options that is going to make it so easy to just TEACH!

Let me show you what’s included:

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Isn’t it gorgeous?! So what’s included in each unit? Well, each unit contains or will contain: lesson plans, differentiation options, anchor charts, and an end of unit assessment (I am currently working my way through updating each unit).

The lesson plans include: a number sense warm up, a teacher-directed activity, a partner game or activity, independent practice, and a home extension.

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This is an example of one of the lessons. Everything is laid out for you!

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Then you have your differentiation plans. You can use these in small groups or during the lesson! Either way will work.

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Each lesson contains a partner activity. For this lesson, students are playing number bump with the numbers 0-5. For below level, students will be playing with JUST the numbers 0 and 1! For enrichment, students will use subitizing cards instead of the number die. They’re very easy changes to make to support each of your kiddos!

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Some of the subitizing cards are pictures above.

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I have also included extra practice sheets for those intervention groups (although nothing says you can’t use them with ALL students! 😉

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Each lesson also contains an independent activity. For this one, students will be matching all of the pictures that represent the number 1 to their number page.

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I have also included a home extension for each unit. I know many teachers who use these as exit tickets or morning work instead of home extensions! You can use any piece of these units however you need to!

I have put the curriculum bundle and the first 4 units only SALE through 7/18 only!

If you’ve stuck around to the end of this post, then yay! You get to hear about a special flash freebie I have to celebrate all of YOU!

These book bin labels feature real photographs perfect for our ELL babies, and book stickers to help students build independence! These labels with only be free for the month of JULY but if you download them now, you will have access to them FOREVER!

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Kindergarten Math Intervention Made Easy

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I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of time in my day. As any elementary teacher knows, you plan and teach every subject, but it doesn’t end there. To meet the needs of all your students, you may need to plan activities for intervention too. It can feel overwhelming! What do we do today? Do I have time to get it prepped? Is it really targeting the areas my students are struggling in?

I needed something I could print and prep once and then grab every time I met with students for intervention. That’s why I developed this math intervention binderIt meets all CCSS and all I had to do was print it, stick it in a binder, and add manipulatives. I made the activities reusable by sticking them in page protectors so I don’t even need to make copies anymore!

Best of all, all of the activities are hands-on and engaging. I’ve had so many students tell me that math small groups was their favorite time of day! Here’s a peak at some of the activities included:

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I’ve included multiple activities to work on number identification and number sense because these skills are SO important and can be such a struggle for young learners. Using fun counters like these mini-erasers keeps it exciting!

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Just add magnetic numbers! Don’t have magnetic numbers? I’ve also included printable number tiles you can use. My kids love this activity so much they’ve asked for it to become a center!

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I love these transparent spinners, but if you don’t want to purchase them, a paperclip and pencil makes an easy spinner!

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I like to sneak in fine motor work as much as possible. We often use tweezers and pom poms in place of counters!

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Cubes are perfect for nonstandard measurement!

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Not only do we work on recognizing shapes, but we also compose new shapes!

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If you put your pages in page protectors, you can easily write on them with dry erase markers and then wipe clean!

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We cover multiple addition and subtraction strategies because you never know what’s going to stick with a student!

Want to check the binder out for yourself? Find it here:

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How I Teach Sight Words in Kindergarten

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Every year that i’ve taught kindergarten i’ve changed up how I teach sight words because i’ve never been quite happy with my routine. This year I took what worked in past years and tweaked what didn’t work, and I think i’ve found my perfect sight word routine!

To give you some context, we just ended our first quarter yesterday and i’ve taught 19 sight words so far. I teach a class of 29 students, many of whom came in knowing almost no letters, with high poverty and a large ELL population. 20 of my students can read all 19 words, and these don’t include the color words we’ve learned. My lowest babies can read at least 5 each! I’m seeing this growth extend to their reading and writing as well!

So what am I doing this year?

I’m a big fan of Mr. Greg from The Kindergarten Smorgasboard and i’ve used elements of his Sight Word 60 routine for the last 3 years now. I’m still using most of his routine, but i’ve tweaked it to fit our needs.

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This area of our board is part of the “Command Central” of our classroom. I can’t show you the rest because it has student names, but our focus words stay up here all week. In his routine, Mr. Greg introduces 4 words a week, but I have been sticking with 3 words because that seems to be the “just right” amount for my kids. The first couple of weeks I only taught 1-2 a week as we got used to school, and some weeks I use as a review to cover the words from the week before if most students are struggling with them.

I don’t really have an order to introduce words. I’ve been introducing words together that can make a sentence and that seems to have helped. If there is a word we haven’t learned yet that students keep asking me about during Writer’s Workshop, i’ll make sure it’s one of our words for the next week.

So on Day One, we introduce the sight words as part of our morning routine. I use the words in a sentence and then students give me sentences with the words. We review them every morning.

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We do interactive writing together daily using at least one of our sight words in each sentence. This is a separate time from Writer’s Workshop. On the first day, i’m not concerned about using capital/lowercase letters correctly because I want them to focus on the words. The rest of the week, I will correct them.

For interactive writing, I tell students a sentence and draw a line for each word. We “read” the blank lines a few times to make sure we remember the sentence. Then I have one student at a time come up to write the sight words. When we get to an unknown word, I help students stretch it out. Sometimes we only get down 1-2 sounds, but we are working on the -at family this week so students were able to write these words themselves.

In addition to Interactive Writing, we also do Writer’s Workshop when students are writing independently and guided writing as a part of guided reading groups. Writing is one of the best, best, BEST things students can do when learning sight words because if you can write it, you can read it!

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Excuse the blurry picture! We also do shared reading daily and I make sure our poem contains as many of our sight words as possible. Usually I use a real poem, but this week I just made up the simplest poem possible because I wanted it to have our sight words and -at family words.

We use this poem for so many things! We read it together every morning and students LOVE to be the “teacher” and use the pointer to lead the reading. We use the poem to count words in a sentence, identify rhyming words, clap syllables, and find sight words.

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Every Friday, we search in the poem to find and circle our sight words. If they find the word inside of a larger word, I let them circle that too because it helps them begin to see chunks in those big words and, honestly, i’m just excited they’re finding them!

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We do a different hands-on activity daily, and I absolutely love these ones from DeeDee Wills, but one of our favorites is roll and write! We always do this on Day Two, but i’ll also use this if we have an extra five minutes between transitions.

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For a die, I use this dry erase die from Dollar Tree. I do NOT use dry erase marker on it, though, because it wipes right off! Instead I use a permanent marker and then erase it later with hand sanitizer and a tissue.

Students take turns rolling the die, reading the word, and then writing the word on the board. They get so excited to see which word is winning!

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Many of our literacy centers for the week are focused on sight words, but these are some of my favorite low prep centers that i’ve found keep students engaged!

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The first is making sight words with magnets. I found when my students were supposed to be matching letters/sounds here, they would usually get off task and start making sight words or their name anyway. I decided to just go with it and make it a center!

I have a metal AC unit in my classroom, so I just wrote on the sight of it with permanent marker. I’m hoping and praying it comes off, but it you weren’t this brave (or dumb), you could always use dry erase markers!

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Another favorite is playdough mats:

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Of course, we love to use these with playdough and that is one center choice, but I also like to mix it up sometimes and break out the tweezers! You can have students make the letters with pompoms, base ten cubes, or beans and they will be thrilled!

I’ve also just updated these mats so that their are two versions included. One just has the sight word, and I have updated the font, but the second version has the word to trace and write as well so they can make it, trace it, write it.

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On Day Five, we take our focus words and add them to our word wall. We make this a big deal with drum rolls and applause (and they think it’s hilarious to see me climb the AC unit to hang up the words).

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Please ignore the mess there! #realteacherlife. I have a huge space for my word wall this year, but it’s not as close to the kids as I would like. Because of that, i make the words as big as possible. I write them with a Mr Sketch marker on 3×5 index cards. I’ve switched marker colors now that we have quite a few words up so that they stand out more.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how i’ve been teaching sight words this year and maybe got a few new ideas to try in your classroom! If you have a highly effective sight word routine, I would love to hear about it below!

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How To Make Your Own Rekenreks

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If you know me, you know how much I value spending time explicitly teaching number sense. Rekenreks are a GREAT way to build number sense in students and provide hands-on support for beginning addition and subtraction.

I really like having a class set of rekenreks for whole group math talks, but I really don’t like spending a lot of money. This set cost me less than $10 and a wonderful parent put them together for me in one evening!

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For student rekenreks, I just cut cardstock in half and laminated it (I don’t think laminating it is necessary, but it has helped them last me 2 years so far). Then I punched two holes on each side. I put a pipe cleaner in each hole on one side and knotted them together. Then I put 5 red beads and 5 white beads on both pipe cleaners, strung them through the other side, and knotted.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

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You can use foam boards for durability, they just cost more and require more cutting power than I was willing to put into it.

My teacher rekenrek is made out of a foam board, but another teacher was kind enough to make it for me. 😉

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Want to make these yourself or send home with a parent volunteer? You can download the directions for free by clicking here or the picture above!

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Kindergarten Portfolios and Memory Books

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When people ask what I love about teaching kindergarten, one of my first answers is always the growth that happens each year. Students come in not knowing their own name or having held  a pencil before and leave first grade ready.

One of the best ways to show that growth to both students and parents is through portfolios. Portfolios are a place to keep writing samples, work students are proud of, and to track data and goals. And at the end of the year, they become a wonderful memory book to send home to parents!

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I keep my portfolios in individual binders because it’s easy to quickly insert pages. However, you could just keep each student’s pages in a file folder and then bind at the end of the year.

I start collecting work samples from the very first day of school. Each month has it’s own section. Instead of buying dividers, I have students make a simple craft on construction paper, which is slightly larger than printer paper and makes the perfect divider. As you can see in the picture above, the construction paper is slightly taller than the binder, so if that bothered you, you could trim them down.

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At the beginning of each month, students also draw a portrait of themselves and write their names. I love to see how the pictures get so much more detailed throughout the year!

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I also have them write their uppercase and lowercase letters and fill out a calendar to show number writing. At the beginning of the year, this is rough, but again, the growth is always amazing to see!

Throughout the year, students choose some of their work samples that they are proud of to put in their portfolio. I also choose work that I think represents them as a students and I have a few seasonal writing prompts that I give the whole class.

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Finally, I have one of my FAVORITE sections in the portfolios: Data tracking and goal setting.

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Students help me track their data – sometimes by coloring in what they know and sometimes just by discussing it with me. I let them set their own goals, usually just one or two at a time, that they want to work towards. When they achieve it, they get to add a page to the binder celebrating  the achievement.

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I have students (or me depending on time) use different colors each time I assess so I can easily see where they started and how much they grew each time. This is also very helpful to have on hand during parent teacher conferences – you can just pull out their child’s binder and show how much they’ve grown from the very beginning.

You can find everything you need to easily put together your own portfolios here:

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8 Fun, Free Letter Review Activities

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If you are a kindergarten teacher, you know how important it is to teach and review letters until it feels like you’re in a real life version of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. It can get old, fast to us and to our kiddos.

Thankfully, it’s SO easy to spice things up a little bit and keep those letters interesting to both us and our students! All of these activities require little to no prep and if they use materials, it’s probably something you have already in your classroom!

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I don’t think this activity is new to anyone, but it’s a staple. I know some teachers absolutely despise playdough in the classroom because of the mess, but really, I say the bigger the mess the more learning is happening!

This activity is awesome for for fine motor and it helps students really see the lines and curves of each letter. Win!

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Another playdough activity! Just like some teachers despise playdough, I despise ink pads. I’ll admit it – ink covered hands touching every important paper and surface is my kryptonite.

As an alternative, I let my students stamp letters in playdough! They just pick a letter, find the stamp, and stamp it in the playdough. As an added bonus, this stamp set has each letter on printed on the tray so students have to match them when they all accidentally on purpose get jumbled up. I just got it on Amazon.

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This is another activity that is great for fine motor because students have to really work to manipulate the pipe cleaners just right. Eventually, I let them make sight words using pipe cleaners too! It’s always a favorite.

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This activity I just thought of on the spot, but I LOVE it! Students pick a letter and then have to find the matching letter in the bag of letter beads. Then they string them onto a pipe cleaner.

This is another activity that could also be used to practice sight words! Just have students string the letters to make each word onto the pipe cleaners! How easy it that??

The next few activities are meant to be done whole group or in small groups and would be great for when you have an extra 5 minutes to fill.

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For this activity, you will think of a letter and give students clues to guess what it is. You can use features such as “It has a circle then a stick” or sounds “Bear begins with it.”

Once students get the hang of this, they can be the ones to think of the letters and give clues!

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This game practices beginning sounds. You will say a letter and a word that begins with that letter (b balloon). Then you will go around the circle as students say words that begin with that letter (ball, bear, bee). When they cannot think of any more, that letter ends. You can make it a competition by seeing which letter they can think of the most words for!

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For this activity, you will need a bowl of letter magnets or tiles. You could make it really interesting by getting a plastic cauldron around Halloween time! You will stir the pot while saying,

Letters, letters, in my stew. Pick a letter just for you!

A students will reach in and grab a letter. You can differentiate by having them name the letter, say the letter sound, or name something that begins with that letter. If you want to make it REALLY hard, you can have them try to guess the letter by feel before they take it out!

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This is probably not an activity you have room for in your classroom (and if you do, i’m jealous!), but it would be fun to do outside or in the gym.

Students will work together in small groups of 2-3 to form letters with their bodies! They can do this laying down or standing up, but some letters will be much easier laying down.

I hope these ideas were useful to you! These letter review activities are a bonus included in all of my Little Readers Whole Group Literacy units, but i’m also offering them as a blog exclusive FREEBIE here:

Letter Review Activities FREEBIE

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Make the Most of the TpT Sale!

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It’s that time of year once again – time for the TeachersPayTeachers Back to School sale! I spend all summer putting items on my wishlist and filling up my cart in anticipation of this sale because it’s one of the BEST ways to get the most bang for your buck!

Today, i’m going to show you some of my tips and tricks for saving BIG during this sale every year!

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Many sellers want to make this time of year a little less stressful for teachers so they offer up TpT gift cards through giveaways. These giveaways cost you nothing (except some time) to enter, but can save you a lot! I’ve actually won a few of these giveaways and i’m someone who never wins anything, so i’m a big fan of the giveaway!

I’m giving away a $10 TpT gift card on Instagram right now! All you have to do is be following me and like and comment on the picture. How easy is that?!

Click here to enter:

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Ok, this is probably something you already know, but it’s worth mentioning again. Did you know you can earn FREE resources by leaving feedback on past purchases? No catch!

Every time you leave feedback, you get credits equal to the dollar amount you paid ($5 = 5 credits). Those credits become dollars you can spend on future purchases. Every 100 credits is worth $5, but you don’t have to wait until you have that many credits! You just need a minimum of 20 credits to redeem them.picture31.pngBundles are an item that are usually a great deal, but during the sale they’re a STEAL. Sellers generally offer bundles at 20-30% off the price if you were to buy all the items within individually. During the sale, most sellers will also put those bundles on sale with the rest of their store for an extra 25% savings. If a bundle was 20% off, it now equals out to a 40% savings. I’m going to be buying a LOT of bundles during this sale!

BUT you can save even more – by purchasing growing bundles during the sale. Growing bundles only contain some of the products they will eventually contain, and they are offered at a deep, deep discount as products are being added into it.

For example, my Differentiated Math and Literacy Centers for the Year will eventually be worth $110, however I am currently offering it for only $20 as I add in months. During the sale, it will only be $15. That’s a HUGE savings!

 

My Themed Writing Center for the Year will also eventually be worth $117, but it is currently only $15 as I add in centers. During the sale, it will only cost you $11.25 to have everything you need to keep your writing center engaging all year long!

My Guided Readers and Guided Math Curriculum are also growing bundles, although the math curriculum is almost complete, and they are also going to be greatly discounted during the sale! You can get a whole year’s curriculum for very little money.

The first unit in the guided math curriculum is Numbers to 5. The unit contains lesson plans, whole group activities, partner games, follow up worksheets, and home extensions. Here are some pictures so you can see some of the activities included:

 

I hope these tips were helpful to you! For all my teachers going back to school  (or who already went back!), good luck!

How To Differentiate Your Centers in Kindergarten

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I talked previously about how I managed my differentiated centers last year in this post. However, i’m in a new school this year and i’m not sure i’ll have all that space!

I wanted to show you an EASY way to differentiate your centers and then give you a peek into HOW I differentiate them. It doesn’t have to be a lot of work!

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I have different colors for below level, on level, and above level. I wish that yellow folder was purple but beggars can’t be choosers! These are normally at least $4 at Office Depot, but I got them when they were 2/$1 plus I had a coupon making them around 30 cents each!

So in each basket center, I would have 3 folders. I spend a lot of time at the beginning of the year teaching my students how to get out THEIR color. If you assign students centers, you could have 1 basket at each center and that basket would hold the 3 folders for any students who go to that center so you don’t have to change it out.

You could also just have one basket hold all the blue folders, one hold all the pink folders, and one hold all the purple folders for students to choose from if you want to give them more choice. It cuts out a lot of space!

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What I LOVE about these folders are the pockets! I can keep the recording sheets and instructions in the zipped pocket and smaller pieces in the little pockets!

I promise this isn’t an ad for these, I just really wanted to show you because I am SO excited about that feature. 😉

So then the activities as that center are very similar, but at different levels. To the students, it looks like they are doing the same center or almost the same center, but I know each student is getting what they need.

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This is the below level sight word center from my September pack. Students are matching sight words to sight words. They are just working on recognizing the word in print.

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This is the on level center. Now students are building the sight word and working on spelling it.

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The above level activity is, again, very similar but now students have to unscramble the sight word. This requires them to use higher order thinking skills.

I differentiate my math centers in the same way.

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Oops! Notice the mistake? Even teachers have trouble subitizing. 😉

I change it up by what numbers are used and sometimes by the task. So for the subitizing center above, my below level students are sorting up to 5, my on level students are sorting up to 10, and my above level students are sorting up to 20.

You can get all of these differentiated centers by month in my store, or you can get the growing year-long bundle right now! It is a STEAL right now as I add in the months and it’s guaranteed to make differentiating your centers easy!

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