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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Easy Name Activities

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Every year that I have taught kindergarten, I have always had multiple students come in not even able to recognize their own name. So it’s no surprise then that we spend a LOT of time our first few weeks of school focusing on names.

The activities i’m going to show you today do not take a lot of prep at all but are fun and would be perfect for Pre-K to 1st grade kiddos who need some name practice.

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This activity is probably not new to you, but it’s a staple in my classroom! I use these name puzzles in guided reading groups and I let my students keep them in baggies in their book boxes to pull out throughout the day.

If I have a student who is just beginning to learn their name, I only make one cut right in the middle of their name. As they master the puzzle, I cut more and more pieces until it is finally all cut apart!

If you are doing this as part of guided reading groups, it is always a big motivator to cut the puzzles at the table. My kiddos practice extra just so they can have the most pieces!

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I LOVE this rainbow names craft because it is SO easy but it brightens up our room beautifully!

I just write each kiddo’s name on the clouds and then give them enough rays to write 1 letter of their name on each ray (for some students, I write the letters). They have to put the rays in order and I check them before they glue.

I have this craft as a freebie in my store! If you don’t want to print the rays page on colored paper, you can also cut strips of construction paper.

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Another easy word work activity! All you need is a name and magnetic letters or letter tiles. I’ll find all sorts of different letters just to make this more interesting.

You can also take a picture of students at the beginning of the year and put it next to their name so they can easily pull out the right one!

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Along with those cards, I use sentence frames for students to practice reading.

Now, I know it would be easy to type these up and laminate them but, just being honest, i’m not likely to do that! I like easy, low prep!

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The last activity is this fun name craft! I like this one because it doubles as a name puzzle – students can take the crayons out of the box and put them in order to make their names.

This craft is very similar to the rainbow craft. The students cut out their boxes and I staple the sides and write their name on the front. Then they write 1 letter on each crayon and put them in their box.

I’ve just added options for longer names too! You can check that out here.

I hope you enjoyed these easy name activities! If you have any go to ways to practice names, i’d love it if you left them below!

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Little Readers: Whole Group Literacy for K-1 (Freebies included!)

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I’m not going to lie, i’m a little bit sentimental about the “birth” of this curriculum! It has been a LONG time coming!

Each unit contains everything you need to teach an effective and engaging whole group literacy block, including phonemic awareness, reading comprehension, writing, vocabulary, phonics, and crafts – all you need to add is the books!

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What does a typical unit look like?

Each unit contains 4 weeks worth of materials (except August/September which contains 6 weeks). Each week will focus on one text you will do a close read on as a whole class.

Why a close read? By focusing on one book a week, but reading it for different information and thinking about it in a different way, students really get to know the text and can really focus on the reading comprehension strategies they are practicing each week.

NOT every week will look the same, though! In the August/September unit, most of the weeks focus on the same comprehension skills to build a routine, but by the 6th week, the strategies change as nonfiction text is also introduced. In the October unit, students some of the comprehension skills will stay the same, but 1-2 will be different each week.

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Each week, you will have a week overview and 5 days worth of lesson plans. These lesson plans offer easy ways to differentiate for K/1 (or for your higher/lower students).

Each week generally contains 4 vocabulary words students will focus on and one day a week is generally dedicated to working with that vocabulary.

You are given two options for these vocabulary cards to make it easy for you! You may also choose to just print the picture and word card and let the students generate the definition using context clues in the text. For kindergarten, this is a skill I would introduce later on in the year.

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This is one of the fun phonemic awareness activities included for kindergarten! I can’t take credit for this idea, but I can guarantee that students LOVE this game!

 

These are an example of one of the comprehension skills covered – making predictions. You can see how the pages might be different for kindergarten or first, but the skills stay the same. If you have students at different levels in your classroom, you could also use these to differentiate their work.

 

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Each week contains one craft or extension activity. Above you can see an example of the August/September crafts, and below you can see examples of the October crafts.

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Phonics is also differentiated for K/1. In the August/September unit, kindergarten will focus on being introduce to the letters and reviewing the letters. In October, they will focus on reviewing letter sounds, working with beginning sounds, and learn medial vowel a.

 

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First grade will focus on all of the medial vowels and cvc words in August/September. In October, they will focus on word families. Their word work generally contains one paper activity or interactive board activity per day and a short assessment/check in for Fridays.

Interested but still not completely sure if this is for you?

Try the first week FREE for a limited time!

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I’m interested! Where can I find this?

Right now, August/September and October are available and they will be discounted to 50% off through Friday 6/23.

BUT you can also save a HUGE amount of money by getting the growing bundle! This bundle will be $25 (a $102 value) through Friday only as well. Right now it contains the first 2 units, but each additional unit will be added at least 2 months before the actual month.

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Gus the Plus & Linus the Minus

OH my goodness! Can you say long time no blog??  All I can say is it has been a crazy semester. But I’m back and ready to roll!

If you’ve been teaching for a while, or even if you haven’t, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Gus the Plus and Linus the Minus before. After all, they’re one of the cutest ways to help your students remember the plus and minus signs!

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We’ve spent the last few weeks becoming familiar with addition and subtraction and I feel like its *clicked* with most of my students.

That said, I feel like one of the hardest things for my students every year is being able to switch back and forth easily. They want to do just addition or just subtraction, and they tend to not pay any attention to the signs.

That’s where the idea of this craftivity was born! First, I introduced Gus & Linus. Then, we did a sort whole class. Yes, it looks rough but I literally had the spark of inspiration for this activity and prepped it all in my 20 minute lunch!

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Then, I walked my students through the steps of creating Gus & Linus and sorting the problems themselves. I chose to have already solved problems for them to sort because I wanted them to JUST focus on the sign, but if you choose to do this, I included a version where students can solve the problems too!

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They all ended up so unique and adorable! We will definitely require much more practice with mixed facts, but I LOVED introducing it this way.

This activity is FREE here. Just click the picture or click here to download:

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