Almost No Sew Sit-Upons

Back to school is just around the corner here in Australia. I am excited about starting a new year and meeting my new group of kids!

This year, instead of a classroom mat, I have decided to make sit-upons for carpet time. Although I like mats, they can be a bit of a tripping hazard and I think the variety of sit-upons will add a nice pop of color to the room. As I am not much of a sewer, I have managed to make the sit-upons with the least amount of sewing as possible! I thought I'd share how I made them for any other stitching challenged folk out there ;)
The sit-upons are approximately 18" square. First I cut an 18" and a 19" square template from cardboard. I mixed and matched fabrics, tracing and cutting an 18" square of fabric for the top layer, and a 19" square of fabric for the bottom layer. I also cut an 18" layer of wadding.
At the ironing board I sandwiched the materials, with the top layer showing the good piece of fabric, then the wadding, then the bottom layer with the wrong side facing up and the good side against the ironing board. I centered the materials and then folded and ironed the bottom piece so the raw edge of the bottom layer was against the raw edge of the top layer. Armed with my glue stick, I then ran the glue along the edge, folding and ironing it to the top layer of fabric. This really sets the fabric in place and means no pins when it comes to sewing!
I then folded the corner and set with glue. I repeated the steps above along each edge - folding, gluing and attaching to the top layer (glue and fold) until all edges were set on the top layer. 
I couldn't avoid it any longer. I then needed to get the sewing machine and sew around each side of the sit-upon. This really was super easy as the glue meant that everything was fixed in place really well! Not nearly as scary as I anticipated!
And that is it! I'm really excited about these little sit-upons. I am thinking I will have each child 'own' one through the year so there is no fighting over them and they will need to take responsibility for their own mat.



Christmas Tree Craftivity and Freebie

Christmas really is my favorite time of the year! I love spending time with family and friends and showing my love to them through gifts. I also love celebrating Christmas in the classroom with Christmas Countdowns, Christmas Sight Words and this Christmas Tree Craftivity!
I love this simple activity for helping students write lists and think about others (not just themselves!) at Christmas. It also makes a beautiful bulletin board display.

 As a whole class, we discuss that while it is nice to receive presents at Christmas, it is also a great time to show our family and friends how much we love them by making or buying gifts. Then we brainstorm things that parents, siblings and friends might like as gifts. This is a great opportunity to read shopping catalogues and explore the value of money within a budget context.

Following this, I model writing a shopping list for friends and family using a sheet included in the download.

The students then view the Power Point (also included in the download), which has step by step instructions of how to construct the Christmas Tree Craftivity.

I think the end result makes a lovely Christmas display. Just remember to hand the trees to your students to take with them on their shopping trip! Click HERE for more details about the craftivity.

And for sticking with me until the end, a little gift for you! This Free Sight Word Print and Go is a great Christmas activity for your literacy centers! Click HERE to download.

Merry Christmas!


Term 4, No Chore!

Hello teacher friends!
Here in Australia we have just started our final term of school for the year. In 10 weeks I will be relaxing poolside in my hammock enjoying a good read! Before I can get to that though there's a lot of learning and assessing to be finished, report writing completed and cleaning done. It can be stressful and busy, but this term also provides lots of opportunities to have fun!
I have teamed up with some online Australian blogging friends to bring you some tried and tested teacher tips that you can implement now, or begin to plan for to make this term easy to manage and to find some nice opportunities for memory making amongst the classroom craziness! These tips are simple and relatively easy to implement.
After you have read my tip, please visit the other blogs in the link up below to find more ways to cruise through Term 4.
My Tip might sound crazing in October, but trust me! I know what I am talking about! Plan your Christmas Countdown now! After assessing and report writing, it can be hard to muster the enthusiasm to continue creating authentic learning opportunities and memory making moments. Do it now to avoid Term 4 burnout!
Find yourself 10 boxes from the dollar store (I was disappointed I couldn't find 10 identical boxes, but in the end I was happy with the result) and place an End of Year or Christmas activity in each box. At the school where I teach, I am allowed to teach the nativity story so I also divided the nativity story into 10 sections. As well as the activity or activities, each day a section of the nativity story is read to the class. By the end of the 10 days the entire nativity story has been read. If the nativity story is not part of your curriculum, you could easily adapt this idea to include Christmas Around the World information in each box.
I just love the Christmas tree display this arrangement of boxes makes! Decoration and countdown in one. Students love the suspense of revealing their activity each day, even if it is something they would have done anyway like wash the tables (life skills is counted as authentic learning, right?) or play a Christmas themed math game.
I hope this tip helps make this crazy term a little easier! For more ideas and time savers, don't forget to also follow me on Facebook and Pinterest. Find more tips for crusing through Term 4 in the link-up below:



End of Year Fun and a Freebie!

The End of Year comes around so quickly! While there are a million things to finish during this time, it can also be such a fun time in the classroom! Disguising education in fun activities is part of the role of a teacher throughout the year, and particularly as it comes to an end!

Putting one 'treat' per day inside these cute envelopes is a great way to count down to the end. In my experience, some favorites include:
  • Sit next to a friend for the day
  • Create a page for our class year book
  • Conduct one lesson outside
  • Reflect on your goals achieved this year
  • Write a letter to a kindergarten student starting next year (if you have a kindergarten class)
  • Eat lunch in the classroom
  • Trace around your hand, write your name inside and collect positive affirmations/memories from your classmates about you and your school year
  • Use the fancy pens
  • Create a scavenger hunt of your favorite classroom games for a friend/s, and play the game at each stop
  • Make a photo collage of the year
Rolling out the red carpet and celebrating student success is another favorite event at the end of the year! I love recognizing the individual through Awards, Crowns and Letters specific to their individual achievements and progress!

I've just created these cute Superhero themed awards. You can type your students' names straight on these the awards, and if none of the 36 awards suit a particular student, you can type a new award title on the customizable award. It's SUPER easy, promise :) I've created a little clip if you want to see just how easy it is!

And here's an OUT OF THIS WORLD freebie award for getting to the end of the post! Click HERE!


Teacher Appreciation Giveaway!

It never rains but it pours, right? Yesterday I shared with you an opportunity to win some wonderful resources from my sweet Aussie friends, and today I have another amazing giveaway for you from some of my blogging friends not quite so close to home.

If you're reading this blog, then I don't need to tell you that teachers work long hours educating our most precious resource - the children in our classrooms. So my friends over at the new iTeachKinder blog wanted to let you know that the work you do each day is so important and we value you! And to say thanks, we would like to give you the chance to win a gift card from Target, Starbucks, Amazon or TpT. 

So it got us thinking.....if you give a teacher a gift card what will s/he buy?

I'll be honest here. I am not much of a shopper. The bright lights have always dazzled me, the crowds have overwhelmed me and the mirrors in the change room - well let's not go there! However, give me a computer and a credit card and somehow the feelings of disorientation leave me and I am ready to shop! So for me, an Amazon gift card is where it is at! Yes please!

Currently I am returning to work after an extended maternity break, so I am working as a substitute in some lovely local Kinder classes. As I don't have my own copy card, I am wanting to print as few sheets as possible and then place them in these Write and Wipe Pockets. Kind to the environment and my pocket. Yes please!

And then there's these Write-on Wipe-off  Dice. I haven't quite worked out what I will use them for yet, but I need them  :)

For your chance to turn your wish list into your own, click HERE to enter at iTeachKinder. And to stack the odds in your favor, enter at iTeachFirst and iTeachSecond as well :) Good luck!


Swap, Share, Give Linky!

I am so excited to be participating in my first Swap, Share, Give Linky with a bunch of Aussie blogging buddies! I have learned so much from these talented and generous teachers through their knowledge and enthusiasm for the profession, and today you get the chance to win some of their amazing resources! More on that soon.


I was paired up with the lovely Sheri from Early Years With Sheri. I love her blog, and was excited to have the opportunity to choose a product from her resource collection.  

I chose Sheri's Animal Themed Math Centers as so many different concepts were included in this pack. My own kidlets had fun trying these out and learning as they played.

From addition, subtraction and number relationships, to fractions and time this resource is seriously jam-packed and then some!

My kidlets used many mental math strategies to sort these addition and subtraction cards into True/False categories. It may or may not have become a competition to see who could complete the task the fastest. I think they must get that competitive streak from their paternal side ;)

It was so interesting watching my Kinder kidlet as he balanced the birdie equations. Listening to his counting and watching him make connections was so wonderful!

Time and money always seem to be the hardest concepts for students to grasp. Well let's be honest, the management of time and money isn't the easiest thing for us adults to grasp ;) While this time matching exercise may not solve our work-life (or bank) balance, it will help your kidlets learn analogue, digital and spoken forms of time.

Problem solving is another area of math that many students struggle with. I was very impressed with the range of problems in this pack. There are both single step and multistep problems, covering a range of mathematical concepts from addition and subtraction to time.

Click HERE to find out more about this fabulous resource! And if you want to check out more of Sheri's resources click HERE to visit her TpT Store. Thank you Sheri for sharing this awesome resource with me!


Now it's time to share a freebie of my own. We thought it would be fun to share a seasonal freebie, but as this is a linky from Down Under, our seasons are of course upside down too ;) I've decided to go with my Northern Hemisphere friends and offer a Spring Freebie, even though things are starting to cool down where I am. 

I have created this Editable Sight Word Pack to cater for the many different levels in our classrooms. The same format and fun design can be used while students practice words specific to their needs. You just need to type the focus word in the spaces provided to generate your sheet. The sheet asks your students to read, find, rainbow write, color trace, count syllables, box, write and build each word. There is a cover page included too so you can make multiple sheets to create a booklet. And of course, I have included an alternative version for all my Aussie (and other) friends (colour vs color). Click  HERE to grab your free copy!

I know some are daunted by editable products, so I have made a quick little how to clip to show you how to edit the template. Super easy, I promise! I was very daunted making this, my first YouTube clip!


If you would like to win Sheri's amazing Math Centers as well as a copy of all the products swapped, enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to check out all the other amazing resources on offer!


Teaching Kindergartners How to Login

So you have survived the first computer lesson with your Kindergarten class and now you want to teach them how to login for themselves. It will depend of course, on how usernames and passwords have been set at your school as to how you approach this. At the school where I teach computers, the Kinder classes have a class username and password. For simplicity, the username and password are the same.
Before the lesson, I made some color coded login cards.
While in the classroom, the little learners practiced 'typing' on their login cards. We discussed the colors and order of the letters. We talked about uppercase and lowercase letters, said the sound and the letter names. We showed our partners how we could type our username and password. The little learners even searched for the letters in their own name. Who knew there was so much learning to be had with logins?
When we arrived at the computer lab, the little learners were ready to try typing their username and password on a real keyboard. After I demonstrated typing the username and password (and made a few mistakes accidentally-on purpose to introduce backspace), the little learners took their login cards to their computer. 
I'm going to be honest here. This color coded login card is not a miracle worker. It did take three adults 30 minutes to guide the class in this process. I did learn that next time I introduce a Kinder class to computers, I will spend more time on light and quick finger touches on the keyboard! But I will say that each little learner did login that day, and a month on the login cards continue to support the little learners as they become independent loggerinerers (that's totally a word, right?). Best of all is the smile on their faces when they have done it all by themselves for the first time! Priceless!
Want to make your own color coded keyboards? Click HERE or the image above to grab your copy!


St Paddy's Day Activities and a Freebie!

I am the daughter of one proud Irishman. My dad was a kind, generous, clever, witty (even though sometimes only to himself), sweet man, whom I adored! He was born and raised in Kilkenny. I have fond memories visiting Dad's hometown, listening to him retell stories from his childhood at each landmark. Many years later on a family holiday, I told those same stories to my own children as we walked Kilkenny's streets.

When St Patrick's Day rolls around, as well as talking to the class about the origins of the day, it's great to share personal experiences too. I have often had my own 'show and tell' in the classroom, sharing images like the one above that my hubby took of Kilkenny Castle. Having a life outside of school and sharing these anecdotes with our students, helps build relationship which underlies everything we do in the classroom.

St Paddy's Day lends itself to some lovely activities in the classroom. One of my favorite writing activities for this time of year is based around the idea of a Lucky Star. I encourage the students to use their imagination and dream big! 'If you could wish upon a star and make your dreams come true.....' But my absolute favorite writing activity encourages students to think about what they truly value. Using a planning sheet they draw or write things that make them feel lucky. They then write about it and create a cute pot of gold craftivity, perfect for the bulletin board.

While a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow would be lovely, I really do feel rich thanks to my family, friends, students I teach and creations I share. I'm so happy that you have stuck with me to the end of this post, so click on the image below for your treasure :) It's a few pages from my St Patrick's Day Kindergarten Math Print & Go Pack.



Introducing Computers in the Kindergarten Classroom

Warning! The first computer lesson in the Kindergarten classroom can be chaotic! Approach with patience and much planning! 
Here in Australia, our school year starts at the end of January. We now have about a month's worth of computer lessons under our belts, and the progress the little learners have made is remarkable! The majority of the class can now log in using a class username and password (which I.T. have not set to be particularly user friendly), navigate to the program required, complete some simple mouse applications and log off. This is quite a contrast to a month ago, when I logged each child in and out.
For that first lesson, I set realistic expectations of what I thought could be achieved, and then I cut that in half :) Here's what we did.
  • Upon entering the computer lab, the children sat down at the front near the demonstration computer and whiteboard. I introduced myself and an attention getter (of the clap, repeat variety).
  • I asked the children what type of technology they have used and they had an opportunity to share with the person next to them. 
  • We talked about how wonderful it is to use computers and how we need to take good care of them. Lab Rules naturally followed. I read them. The children repeated them. We acted out what to do. We acted out what not to do. You get the idea. Click on the image to grab your copy!
  • We looked at a computer and named the parts (monitor, keyboard, mouse, headphones and headphone plug, CPU). 
  • We talked about how some screens we use are touch screens, but the monitors in the computer labs are not touch screens! It has been close to a decade since I taught computers to Kindergartners, so this was the first time I had to give that instruction! 
  • We chatted about the CPU being the brains of the computer.
  • Demonstrated how to hold each side of the headphone plug as we plug the headphones in and out.
  • Showed how we use gentle fingers on the keyboard 
  • Investigated the mouse. As using the mouse was the main focus of the lesson, I made up a little song about using the mouse and it has stuck! The little learners want to sing it each lesson. I thought about videoing myself singing it, but I really couldn't do that to you! So here it is in word form. Think (and sing) Where is Thumbkin?
(With right hand, point index finger)
Peter Pointer, Peter Pointer.
('single click' once with index finger, then 'double click')
Click, click-click.
Click, click-click.
('click and drag' with index finger, moving hand as if to drag)
Click and drag, Click and drag.
(pretend to guide a mouse in figure of eight)
With the mouse, With the mouse.

During the investigation of the mouse, we identified the left and right mouse buttons. If you are able, it is a great idea to put a sticker on the left mouse button. Also important here is to identify any left handers in the class and arrange the equipment accordingly.
The little learners did so well listening and learning the rules. It does seem a lot to go through, but I promise it doesn't take that long! As the computers were already logged in (highly recommend for the first lesson), I then demonstrated a simple mouse activity, handed out the headphones and away they went. While our school has purchased a range of educational software, if your school hasn't there are a lot of great online resources for free. For example HERE and HERE

Next time, the fun really begins. Logging in....


Classroom Inspiration

A teacher is really never off duty, are they? While on a family holiday recently, inspiration for the classroom was everywhere! Unfortunately most of the snaps were taken by my aging phone, but these ideas were too good not to share, so please forgive the image quality.

Loved this idea for displaying animal facts at Auckland Zoo. It would make a colorful display or project for the classroom. I see flaps being added!
This simple idea of adding velcro to the back of a plate and attaching to the felt board made another great display! When the time comes to change displays, take the plate off and send it home :)

 Sunken tubs for markers. Need I say more?

This light box table at Auckland Museum would be great for fine motor, sight word practice and handwriting. One can dream, can't they?

Of all the awesomeness that I was inspired by, this one is my favorite! Maybe that's because one of my favorite things about being a teacher is sharing stories with my class! I can see this bookcase story chair being at home in any classroom where I teach!

I wonder how my engineer and handy hubby feels about converting some of these inspirations into realities....