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Incentives? To Give or Not to Give?

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Do you give incentives? If so what do you give?

I believe motivation should come from within and if and when possible, extrinsic motivation should be eliminated. That being said sometimes kids do need a little outside push. Especially if you are working at a school where kids are mandated to sit for long periods of time and work on things that are truly not age appropriate.

If you do find yourself needing to give incentives here’s an affordable way to do it:


Make a sticker chart with all of their names. (or purchase one in bulk – comes with a set of 12)

Give clear expectations and start with something cheap and easy to attain. For example: When you get 5 stickers you can choose a prize. (Something cheap like a variety of small erasers.) When you get 15 stickers you can choose a prize. (Something a little better like bouncy balls.) When you get 30 stickers you choose a prize. (Something nice like fancy pencils/pens ) etc.


The idea is to start small so kids reach their first goal quickly. Then build on from there, delaying gratification each time. Since they have to work harder for each step, the prizes should also get nicer.


At the end of each day, kids can earn a sticker and put it by their name on the sticker chart.

After 5 stickers = Prize 1 (5 days delayed gratification)

After 15 stickers = Prize 2 (10 days delayed gratification)

After 30 stickers = Prize 3 (15 days delayed gratification)

This way you are able to give incentives on a budget and develop delayed gratification.

First Week of School

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First week of school can be tough. Especially for kids that are separating from their mom or dad for the first time. KG and Pre-K is supposed to be fun and engaging regardless of how policy makers would like to change that. If you are one of the lucky teachers that teach at a school where admin understand and support true play based learning, you can open all of your centers right from day one! There are many good reasons why you should open all your centers. The main one being, kids will be happy, excited, and engaged for sure. This is the ultimate goal and frees you up to help those struggling students.

Students approved floor puzzle! 

Here are some tips on opening centers from day one and making your classroom inviting:

-Don’t overfill your shelves with supplies and materials. For example instead of stacking board games on top of each other and having 20 games to choose from in the ‘board games’ shelf. Display 3- 4 games only. On the empty spaces left put books, paper, pencils & crayons. I think it’s important to have access to reading and writing material in all the centers in your room, not just in the library.

-Think about the mess kids can get into beforehand. A big part about teaching is understanding children, predicting what can go wrong and coming up with a plan to avoid if possible. For example, while I would open the art center, I wouldn’t leave out open paint to use on the easel. I can see the possibility of paint getting everywhere and making it really hard for me to help them when I have a crying student that needs more attention. Free paint is a great daily choice when you have gotten to know your students and have good expectations and procedures in place.

-When deciding on what you want to display in your centers, really think what would be exciting for the kids and try to tie those into your theme or unit. Below are some examples of center you can open and things you can display.

      • Kitchen / Housekeeping Center (Tie in – Pretending to be mom/dad/brother/sister. Learning about each other, our families and their roles.) I know some teachers are laughing and saying “What kitchen corner?” because of the new policies and shifts towards KG looking like 1st grade. If you are one of those teachers, you are between a rock and a hard place, but bear with me, and I will give tips on of how to open centers without actually having centers. Kitchen corner is a great one to open on day one, because kids naturally gravitate towards pretend play and don’t require any formal instructions on what to do (like a board game might.)

      • Art Center – (Tie in – Things I like) Generally kids love play dough. You can buy some or make some at home and bring it in. There are many recipes you can find and experiment with online until you find the one that you like best. To set up put play-dough, plastic cookie cutters and rolling pins on the table. This is another center that kids will gravitate toward and you don’t need to give a lot of instructions. Be prepared and OK with kids mixing the colors. If you purchased expensive play-dough and don’t want colors mixed, don’t set this out on day one. Put out something that you are OK with getting mixed and remember mixing colors is science! Great tie in to any unit!

      • Writing Center – (Tie in – Self Portraits or Things I Like) Kids like to draw, color, etc. Requires minimal instruction. You can say draw me a picture of something that you like, a picture of yourself or your family. This is very open-ended and anything and everything goes. To make this area more attractive set up the table different colored construction paper, oil pastels, crayons and colored pencils. I would stay away from markers, liquid glue and glue sticks on day one, because kids this age do need instruction on learning to close the caps correctly.

      • Sensory Table – (Tie in – My Favorite Color) While water play would be the most attractive, wouldn’t recommend it on day one for obvious reasons! Instead put a variety of different colored construction papers (pre-cut in half to make it easier for them to manipulate.) Put empty envelopes and scissors (patterned scissors) if you have it. Kids can cut their favorite color and put the pieces into an envelope if they wish. This is a good way to practice cutting skills and building fine motor skills. You can later use the cut up pieces in the art center.

      • Math Center – (Tie in – I am 5 / 6 years old.) Display bins with a variety of math manipulatives kids can use to represent their age. For example: “Lets make a cake! Lets put 5 candles and pretend to blow them out! Some ideas: peg board set, unifix cubes (my all time favorite, super math tool), container of calculators (cheapest at the dollar store), Lego (this is a huge hit.) Be prepared to have kids do other things with the manipulatives. It’s great to have the intention behind the manipulatives in your lesson plans, but keep in mind the most important goal, is to have a day where students are happy and engaged and this doesn’t always happen based on your own plans. Following the students interest is important for them to love school, their classroom and learning!

      • Block Center – (Tie in- I come to school by ____.) Put out different container with cars, trucks, road signs, wooden people, etc. Add a couple ramps in there and this is another instant hit. You can invite students to share how they come to school then let them explore if the cars / trucks go faster on a high incline or a low incline. I bought rain gutters from Home Depo and cut them in half, they are great to use as ramps!

      • Science Center – (Tie in – My favorite animal is ___.) Display containers with different animal toys and Magna tiles. (Magna tiles are one of my favorite must haves for every classroom. Kids love them and they provide hours of fun and learning.) For this activity, kids can build homes for their animals or anything else they would like. Just have your questions ready to help them engage with the activity but then leave it open-ended so students can take it in the direction of their choosing.

The possibilities are truly endless. Just keep in mind your end goal: Keeping kids happy, engaged, learning, and building positive relationships from day 1. The more options, the more chances everyone will find something they want to play with. Think of centers or activities with the least amount of direction needed from you. Self directed, independent activities will be your best friend always but especially in week one! Be super flexible! Sometimes all a kid needs is a good dinosaur puzzle to forget his tears and tell you all about the dinosaurs he has at home!

For those teachers that want to have centers in their classroom but are not able to because of school policies:

While your room might need to look very different compared to a play based KG classroom, you can still set up your tables in groups and put out different “center like” manipulatives for each group. For example, if you have 6 groups of tables with 5 desks, you can put out 6 different center ideas.

                  1. play-dough and manipulatives
                  2. construction paper with colored pencils, oil pastels, crayons
                  3. trays with construction paper, envelopes and scissors
                  4. three bins in the center of the table with stack-ables to represent their age
                  5. container with animals and Magna tiles
                  6. bins with cars and ramps or the rug area or floor puzzles

You can still get away with having a play based classroom, you just need to be extra prepared in explaining why the kids are doing what they are doing, support it with a well written lesson plans and handy research when needed.

Happy Teaching!

Observation Notes

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Do you have a hard time keeping track of your observation notes? Do you spend time after school or evening hours, transfering your notes from one place to another? Watch to see how using an Observation Clipboard can help you stay organized!

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Thanks for Watching!
The music in the background is by the very talented artist, Melissa. I LOVE all of her music and use it daily in my Kindergarten classroom. It helps create a very happy and relaxing environment for my kiddos. Thank You Melissa! Check out her addicting music at

Add & Find the Greater Number

By | Games, Math | No Comments

A deck of cards, plastic cups, bowls, or any small container (1per player + 1 for the middle) and cereal (cheerios or cookie crisps work well.)

Setting up…
Give each child a bowl and place one bowl in the middle filled with cookie crisps. Pass out 1 card per player.

The objective of the game is to have the greatest number. This game helps children learn and practice adding and comparing numbers.

Pass out 2 cards to each player. Everyone flips their cards and adds their numbers. Next they say their number out loud and whom ever has the greatest number takes a cookie from the middle bowl and puts it in his/her bowl.

You can either wait till all the cookies are done to see who won or they can eat the cookies that are in their bowls as the game moves along. (We usually eat the cookies in our bowl and everyone wins as they get a cookie from the middle!)
The game is over once all the cookies in the bowl are empty!

If you are playing this game with one child, he/she can be the one to announce who gets the cookie, so they practice figuring out which number is greater. If you are playing with more then one child, they can each take turns deciding who has the card with the greatest number!

Have fun!!

What Smells Good?

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Today we read the book: What Smells Good? by Maria Fleming. It’s a leveled reader. You can listen to the story in video above.

Good and Bad SmellsAfter we read the story, we talked about the things that smell good and not so good. We made a chart and listed things that smell good and bad. If you are doing this activity at home, your child can write the words on the list. (If age appropriate)

When doing this activity in the classroom, students can take turns to come up and write what they think. Another idea would be to give each student a 2′ by 2′ square sheet of paper. Ask half the class to write/draw one thing they think smells good and the other half to write/draw one thing that smells bad. Then students can take turns taping their cards on the chart.

You can extend the activity by counting how many items they came up with on each side. Which side had more/less items? Are there any ideas that were repeated? etc.


Darling Dogs Craft

By | Arts & Crafts | No Comments


Any color construction paper, scissors, glue, googly eyes, sequence, beads, buttons, pencils, crayons, markers, paint, and/or color pencils

Any item you have around the house that the children can use to be creative!

Paper Dog Craft2Directions…

Hold one end of the construction paper and fold it so you have the biggest triangle possible. Cut out the remaining rectangular shape. Place the already folded triangle on the table so the folded piece is on top. Hold the right edge and fold it down making another triangle (this will be the ear) Repeat the same fold using the left edge to make the other ear. Next fold the bottom edge backwards.

Decorate your dog by drawing, coloring or gluing on materials to make the face and skin. You can watch the video below for further instructions or to get a visual!

For all art activities you can adjust the project to the child’s age by assisting them with the drawings, cutting, folding, etc. The main idea is to spend time with your child and have fun! And remember there’s no right or wrong way of doing any kind of art. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! Enjoy the process!!!

Paper Boat Craft

By | Arts & Crafts | No Comments

Today we decided to make paper boats and sang the song ‘row row row your boat!’

And for a kid who doesn’t like that song.. (my 8 year old.. ) he had no problem joining in when my daughter and I sang it!


Markers, crayons, pencils, paint, cotton balls, glitter, confetti, sequence, straws, white or colored construction paper, regular white paper, and/or anything you have at home that the children can use for decorating

Paper Boats2Directions..

I used regular plain white paper, because it is easier for the kids to fold, compared to construction paper. (Colored paper works better if you have kids that don’t like to color)

Pre-cut a paper into a square by holding one end of the rectangular paper and folding it to make the biggest triangle possible. The remainder will be a rectangular shape. You can fold and rip this part out or simply cut it with scissors.

Open the triangle and give each child a square shaped paper and they are ready to begin.

1. Fold the square paper in half. (now you have a rectangle)

2. Fold the rectangle paper in half. (now you have a smaller square)

3. Hold the paper in your hand making it look like a diamond shape with the 4 single edges facing up.

4. Count 3 of the single edges and fold down to make a triangle

5. Fold the 4th single edge down on the opposite side making a triangle

6. Place your hand in the middle of the triangle (where the opening is after the folds) and fold that into a triangle. (this is hard to explain but hopefully the video will help)

7. Turn it upside down and pull apart from each side to reveal your boat!

8. Have the children color and decorate their boat as they please.

My kids decided to add a flag using a straw and some paper. Extend the activity following your child’s interest. Maybe they want to put people on their boat, or they can see if their boat sinks or swims? Have fun!

Making Puppets

By | Arts & Crafts | No Comments

Making Puppets - Materials


Paper Plates, Colored Pencils/crayons/markers/paint, scissors, construction paper, straw, beads/buttons/googly eyes/cotton balls, glue and tape

If you don’t have paper plates, you can use cardboard or a cereal box, something that will be sturdier than construction paper. You can use any arts and crafts materials you have at home for decoration.. pieces of pasta, rice, buttons, old clothing material, yarn, toothpicks, use your imagination. The more of a variety of materials the better. It is important for children to be able to choose and use their imagination and creativity!


Have all materials on the table handy and ready to go. Draw a picture of a few things to show your child how to draw and what kinds of things they can make. The drawings don’t have to be great or even good. You can draw basic outlines to demonstrate. I drew a butterfly, dog, cat, and a fish to show them.. And I used basic simple shapes for example a circle for the face and two triangles on top for the ears and tada.. you have a cat.. add on the whiskers and eyes and you’re done..

Encourage your child (depending on their age) to draw on the paper plate, the shape of the animal they chose.. they can then cut out the outline (or you can assist with the cutting if the child is younger). Next have your child color the animal and decorate using the materials they want.

After the glued on items have dried, tape a straw to the back of the craft and you’re ready to play with your puppets!

Making Puppets - ButterfliesWhat is your child learning?

There is so much learning going on with any arts and crafts activity. The most important thing, is that they get to spend some quality time with you. While making the crafts, you can talk about the animal your child chose by asking questions like: What sounds does that animal make? Where does the animal live? Can this animal be a pet? Why or why not? You can go to the library to extend the activity and read about that animal. Talking and listening to your child while making these crafts also builds their vocabulary. Another way to extend this activity would be to write a story using the puppets as a main character. Depending on the child’s age they can tell you the story and you can write it down for them, or they can write on their own! To help them come up with the story, ask them open-ended questions with no wrong answers. Remember in stories, arts and crafts, there’s no right or wrong! The sky’s the limit!

Some other skills your child is learning is eye hand coordination, building small motor skills, leaning how to hold a pencil, learning how to use materials, and much much more!

Above you will find pictures of the materials we used and how our project turned out! Hope you can enjoy this project with your little ones!

32Making Puppets

Behavior Intervention Log

By | Staying Organized, Teaching | No Comments

Keeping a Behavior Intervention Log is super important. Keeping a log can speed up the process it takes to get students the services they need.  It’s also a great tool to help keep things in perspective for teachers. This past year I had a good handful of students that were challenging to say the least.

Keeping a log also helped me reflect. Even though I reflect on my practice on a daily basis, things like when did I start this intervention, how many weeks have I used it, what were some of the responses from the student, can get foggy, especially if you have multiple students that need that extra support. I like to print about 10 of these forms and put them on a clipboard, so they are ready at a moments notice.

If you have a couple of student that you need to keep track of, you can use colorful post-its as tabs. I use students initials for privacy purposes.

Behavior Intervention Log

Behavior Intervention Log

You can download your FREE Behavior Intervention Log Here!

Kindergarten Writing Paper

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A strategy I learned from my mentor teacher during grad school, was teaching letter formation in a fun way. For example, when teaching how to write the lower case letter b, you could say something like: starts in the sky, down to the ground, frog hops to the middle and a little bit of belly. It’s important to model this as you say it on the board, than get the kids involved by writing the letter with their bodies before moving on to writing it on paper.

Some other fun places to practice letter formation: on your partners back, in the air, on the rug, on the sand tray, with play-dough, etc.

When teaching letter formation this way, having lined paper that shows the sky and the ground can be very helpful. You can purchase the journals that have the cloud and the flower images from Amazon. Or you can download for FREE the KGWritingPaperVarietyPack.

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