September 4, 2017

Back to School- A Mini Classroom Reveal

Hello everyone!  Happy Back to School!  Have you started school yet?  We have started...and stopped (due to Hurricane Harvey)....and started....and stopped (due to Labor Day).  I will be so glad to get in the swing of things!  Honestly, Back to School is so hectic and stressful for me, full of paperwork and working out the kinks in the schedule.  I personally love October when things are just...well, rolling along!

I do have a few pictures to share of my classroom.  I realize that I have only posted a picture of my classroom before I started working in it on my instagram (@kindergartenbykatie).  Whoops!  I'm going to take care of that as soon as I am done here!

So here's the before...

All of my furniture was piled in the middle of the room.  See that filing cabinet?  It weighs more than I do.  It's full of books and thematic files that I use through the year.  I'm proud to say that I was able to move and arrange all of the furniture by myself!  I had to use a dolly for the filing cabinet, but I had everything moved and placed in under 2 hours.  

Here's the after...

The furniture was placed in 2 hours.  The rest, well, that took a while.

After 16 years with the same carpet, my parents insisted on purchasing a new rug for my classroom.  My original rug was a college graduation gift, so I was very reluctant to part with it.  But it found a new home in my friend Taylor's classroom- she's on IG as @piratesinprimary or you can visit her website at

I ADORE my new rug!  It adds to much color to my room, and hides a lot of my checkerboard floor tiles.  The kids love it as well.  I love that everyone has their own, well-defined space.

Here's a shot of my classroom library-

Last year, after 15 years of teaching Kindergarten, I FINALLY gave my kiddos access to every single book I owned.  I spent a few days leveling and organizing books, and each book has a small sticker label.  I used Maria Manore Gavin's Black Series Classroom Library Labels.  You can find that product here if you are interested.  It is editable so you can add your own categories.

After trying it out last year, I felt so guilty!  I should have done this WAY SOONER!  The kids do a great job of putting the books back where they go, and I assigned a classroom librarian to organize and reshelve books in our library if necessary.  She did a great job.  

This year, I had to move my Pete the Cat books to the front because they are very popular.  I have had to order some Pigeon books (by Mo Willems) because my kiddos have been asking for them.  PS- Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is $1 right now from Scholastic Book Clubs!  

The biggest highlight from my classroom is- OUR iPADS!  I was given an iPad lab at the end of last school year, so this year we are a 1:1 classroom!  We have spent lots of time learning about how to get out and pick up our iPads, as well as how to use them.  

I got an AMAZING idea from A Primary Kind of Life (@aprimarykindoflife on IG, go follow her, she's amazing and her fonts are GORGEOUS!!!).  I used washi tape to organize my iPad cart!  My kiddos were doing well with finding their iPads by number, but this made it so much faster and quicker!

The washi tape is from Michael's.  Before you make the trip to Michael's, do some digging online for a coupon.  I found a 50% off coupon for their brand of washi tape!  Oh, and did you know- teachers get 15% off of everything!  All day, every day!  Just show your teacher ID and ask for a teacher discount.

This makes my rainbow-order OCD heart so happy!  And it helps the kids to put the iPads back correctly, which makes it easier and faster for me to plug in the chargers.

I spent 45 minutes one Friday morning showing the kids where their iPads were, opening them, finding their apps, how to work with their apps, how to close the apps, and put their iPads away.  Time VERY well spent.  The kids are pros now and LOVE working on their iPads.

Here's a shot from that Friday morning-

100% engagement!  

So the next question is- how do you make sure your students are doing MEANINGFUL work on their iPads?  I discovered the most WONDERFUL app this summer (thanks to Shanon over at @OCDinfirst).  It's called Boom Cards.

This cutie is working on my Find the Colors Boom Cards Deck.  I am making my own Boom Cards decks, but not selling them.  YET.  That's next. 

Boom Cards ( allows you to make your task cards digital.  There are so many freebies and paid decks to choose from, or you can create your own.  As the teacher, you create a classroom and enter each student.  You can then assign your students different decks.  You can assign the whole class the same decks or individual students individual decks.  The students then click on their name, click on their assignment, and they're off!  They can work at their own pace and complete decks several times- this is up to you as the teacher!  As they complete their assignments, you can see how they did, which questions were correct or incorrect, and how much time they spent on each deck.  For me, this is a little-kid friendly version of Google Classroom.  Boom Cards will work for students of all ages, and there are lots of bilingual decks out there in case you teach students in another language other than English!

Let me just tell you- my kids LOVE Boom cards and are becoming pros at it!  I do model a new deck for my kids just so they know what to do, but then they take off!  Thank you Boom Cards for helping me to give my kids fun, engaging and meaningful "work."  They don't think it's work though...

A new addition to my classroom is the "This is our Happy place!" sign.  It was inspired by...okay, copied from Emily over at Polka Dots Please (@polkadotsplease on IG).

The kiddos love it!  After our 3 day Hurricane Harvey break, they could not stop telling me how much they missed me and how much they missed school and how happy they were to be back.  So it seemed like a perfect time to hang it.  It hangs above our writing resource posters and anchor charts.  Go check out Emily's-she put hers above some GORGEOUS windows!  I made mine using PowerPoint.

Our Math Tubs are off and running.  We are still in the exploration stage, but we should be moving on to real games and activities soon- hopefully next week.  My kiddos have come up with some awesome creations using the manipulatives...just look at this kiddo!  He was so proud!

Just in case you're trying to get your tubs ready for September, October or November, I just added my It's Fall Y'all Math Tub pack to my store this morning!  Click on the picture below to visit my TPT store and snag a copy!

Thanks for stopping by and reading....especially if you have read this far!  Happy Back to School, regardless of how long you've actually been "back!"

July 31, 2017

All About Math Tubs

Hello everyone!  I know, I know...I have ignored my blog since February.  I'm glad to be back.

I'm writing today to talk about one of my favorite topics- Math Tubs!  You might call it Math centers, Math stations, Math buckets, but really, they're all the same thing.  Do you use Math Tubs in your classroom?  I have used them for the past 16 years in my Kindergarten classroom, and I am dedicating this post to explaining how I use them.  Do you HAVE to use your tubs this way?  Of course not!  Do what works for you!

Why do I use Math Tubs?  They keep my kids engaged and moving through a lesson.  They give my kids the motivation to finish their independent work.  Once my students have finished their independent practice during each math lesson, they independently move to a tub. This gives me the opportunity to work with my students who need a little extra help, or provide small group or one on one intervention when needed.

In the picture below, some students are still working while others have moved to their Math Tub.

This is how I set up and run my tubs:

 The area circled in red are my Math Tubs.  We store them on top of my students' cubbies.  I use plastic dish tubs from Wal-Mart or Target.  I've had the same set for several years.  A quick wipe with a Magic Eraser keeps them clean and usable for several years. Any kind of plastic basket, box, or bin would work well too.  Store them in a place which is easily accessible for your students.  I label each tub with a number and a color.  This is for students who cannot identify numbers at the beginning of the year.  There are sooooo many cute labels out there, but I find they can be distracting to our young students.  Simple labels work best in my classroom.

Note- I KNOW it says Math Centers and not Math Tubs, but I was required to have Math Centers at my school a few years ago, but we still call them tubs.  I have a new chart this year, but I'll have to post a picture of it later.

As my students finish their work, they look at this chart to determine which tub to go to (I'm including two versions that I have used in the past).  Notice that the same colors and numbers are here.  

See how all of the labels match?  

I assign kids to the tubs, and they visit one tub each day.  I sometimes group the kids by ability level, kids that will actually work well together, a few quiet kids with a not-so quiet kid, or a few boys and a few girls.  The kids can spend anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes in a tub, depending on what is going on in our classroom that day.  I'll tell you how to prep your tubs so that your kids can be engaged the whole time a little later on in this post.  At the end of tub time, the kids place all of the materials back into the tub and put it away.  At the end of the school day, I switch the sticks- students in number one go to number two, number two goes to number three, and so on.  So by the end of the week ( or after 7 days), everyone has had a turn to visit each tub and complete each activity.

When setting up tubs, decide how many kids you can handle working in a group together.  When I have large classes, sometimes 5 kids end up being grouped together.  But honestly I prefer having 3-4 kids in a group.  Make sure you have enough tubs to fit your grouping preferences.

Decide where your kids are going to work with the tubs.  On each of my tables, I have the matching number and color so that the kids can see where the tub should go.  Some tubs are empty, and the kids are assigned to computers or iPads to work.  Sometimes I will put a picture of a computer or iPad on the tub as a visual reminder of where to go.

Now- onto the hard part (not really)-  What goes in the tubs?  

Do I change the materials in my tubs every week?  NO WAY!  Honestly, I usually change them once a month.  Sometimes the kids love a game or activity so much that they want multiple chances to play it.  One year, my kids loved a Christmas puzzle so much it stayed in a tub until May. If it's meaningful and engaging, why take it out?  

Before allowing your students to use a particular manipulative or game, MODEL MODEL MODEL!  Play it in class as a whole group if possible, or at least model how to play with a certain manipulative.  NEVER put something in a tub that you have never shown the kids.  Trust me- it will be a disaster!

For the first two weeks of school, we focus on Math Tub procedures- how to get the tubs out, how to figure out which tub you're in, how to share the toys, how to play with the toys, how to pick up the toys, and how to put the tubs away.  Since the focus is on procedures, there are toys in each tub.  Yep, I said it. TOYS!!!!  I put lacing beads and buttons, large bristle blocks, shape blocks, and linking shapes into the tubs.

After about two weeks, I start placing games and activities that mirror what we are learning into the tubs.  I try to also choose activities that may review things that we have learned.  There is always more than one activity in the tub.  One is a must-do, and then the students can repeat that activity, or choose another.  So for example, there may be a roll and color game which they must do first, but once they are done, they can play the game again or play with something else in the tub, such as linking cubes.  Does that make sense?  That's how you make your tubs last up to 30 minutes- multiple activities.

One of my tubs is almost always computer (the kids play on selected Starfall games) and another is almost always puzzles.  I put around 5-6 puzzles in this tub so that the kids can work independently or with a partner.  I allow this tub to work on the carpet so that they can spread out.

If you need some Math Tub activity ideas, be sure to visit my TpT store!  My Back to School Math Tub pack is available, as well as January-May packs.  I will be working on Fall/Halloween and Christmas Math Tub packs this fall and hope to have them up soon!

If you have any Math Tub questions, feel free to comment, or message me on Facebook or Instagram!

Don't forget- there is a TpT SALE August 1st and 2nd! Click on the picture below to be taken to my store!

I'll be back with a classroom tour soon!

February 12, 2017

Hooray for the 100th Day!

Happy 100th Day of Kindergarten everyone!  Have you reached this all-important milestone yet?  According to my students, it was the best day ever.  We did have a lot of fun, and we spread the fun and activities over three days.  

Day 1: we created our 100 hats. The 100 Days Smarter template is from The Candy Class and you can get it here.  My kids colored and cut out the hat template, and then I stapled it to a sentence strip.  I then also stapled 10 paper strips to the sentence strip.  My kids used stamp markers and made 10 stamps on each strip, for a total of 100 stamps. We started these hats 2 days before the actual 100th day so we could use our time for fun 100 things.

The badge and coloring sheet are from my 100th day Freebie pack, which you can get here.  

Day 2: Necklaces with 100 beads. For my first 10 years of teaching, my class and I made Fruit Loop necklaces.  Those are fun, but messy.  The past few years I have used pony beads and plastic lacing instead.  Less messy, but we still manage to get beads everywhere.  NOT. THIS. YEAR.  I am proud to announce that not one child spilled beads everywhere or turned over their almost-completed necklace.  How? So easy...TAPE the end of that string TO THE TABLE!  Like this...

Tell the kids to keep the whole string on the table the whole time.  Holy cow- this is life changing!  No beads on the drama!  It was great!  

THE BIG DAY: My kids made badges so that everyone would know that it was our 100th day!

Just clip to a shirt with a paper clip.  So easy!

So after we had our 100-wear completed, it was on to fun activities.  For the first time ever, I set up four 100-themed stations for the kids to rotate through.  Their favorite was the 100 Cup Construction Zone.  I put out 100 red plastic cups and let them go.  Honestly, they could have played for hours.  

Another fun station was the 100 Pattern Blocks station.  I counted out 100 pattern blocks and let them create whatever they wanted.

I also had a 100 Unifix cube station, but I did not get a chance to take a picture.  The three previous stations needed no supervision whatsoever, but the fourth station did, and this is where I worked during the rotations.

This was my students' second favorite station.  Using paint daubers, the kids painted 10 dots at a time, and then switched colors.  This sheet is also in my 100th Day Freebie.

After all that fun, we were hungry.  Some students create a 100 snack and count out all 100 pieces, but not my class!  We actually ate the number 100.  And it was so YUMMY!

Just in case you don't know what this is, this is King Cake- a wonderfully yummy Louisiana delicacy  that is made during the Mardi Gras season.  Think huge cinnamon roll topped with icing and sometimes filled with cream cheese, or bavarian cream, or chocolate...getting hungry yet?  For my little ones, I chose plain King Cakes.  The zeros are two small King cakes, and the 1 is one side from a larger King Cake.  Let me just say that I brought home an empty sheet pan, and it was the perfect ending to "The Best Day Ever."

Most of the activities you see above are from my 100th Day Freebie Pack. Click on the picture below to download it.  

Since the 100th day is over, it's on to the next holiday- Valentine's Day!  My Valentine's Day Math Tub Activities and Games pack is up and ready to go in my TPT store.  Here's a sample of one of the activities included:

The students spread out the mailboxes on the floor.  They then solve each addition and subtraction fact and place it under the correct answer.  The facts are addition and subtraction facts up to 5.  The little felt mailbox is from Target and sadly not included in my packet.  

You can see it in my TPT store by clicking on the picture below.

Happy 100th Day, and Happy Valentine's Day!  Hopefully I will be back soon with both Valentine's and Mardi Gras fun!

January 7, 2017

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!   I had a wonderful, relaxing Christmas break and I hope that you did too.  Honestly, I am happy to be back at school and back in the routine.  However, I do miss being able to sleep in every day!

Before the break, I decided to set up a scavenger hunt using my Christmas Ten Frame Scavenger Hunt pack.  The kids didn't like it.  They LOVED it!  They are already asking when we can do it again.  Here's how it works: first, you "hide" the ten frames around the room.  Each ten frame has a different picture and ten frame on it.  Then copy the recording sheet, and let the kids go! There are three ways to play: numbers 0-10, 11-20, or 0-20.  Your students will walk around the room to find each ten frame, find the matching picture on their ten frame, and then write the number of dots on their recording sheet. I gave each child a clipboard to make recording a little easier.

Here's the Christmas Ten Frame Scavenger Hunt, as well as my Valentine's Day and Mardi Gras Ten Frame Scavenger Hunts!  Click on a picture to be taken to my store.  St. Patrick's Day and Easter Scavenger Hunts will be up soon too!

Now- on to 2017. It is COOOOOOLD here in south Louisiana.   So adding a few snowman and snowflake activities into my math tubs is okay, even though we don't usually get any snow.  We did get some ice yesterday!

 I changed out all of my math tub activities to reflect the new season and the new skills that we will be learning this month.  I will do a separate blog post on math tubs sometime soon.  I have been using math tubs (or centers, stations, boxes, or whatever you call them!) in my classroom for 16 years, and my kids and I just love them.  It's a way for kids to still learn and play at the same time, as well as interact with each other.  All of these activities can be found in my Winter Math Tubs Games and Activities Pack (link below).

These are my Count and Clip puzzles.  The students count the pictures, and then place a small clothespin on the correct number.

This may be an easy or mastered skill for most of your students at this point, but this week I had a HUGE breakthrough with one of my kiddos.  He had been struggling to count and match one-to-one, and still has trouble identifying some numbers.  He had so much success with these Count and Clip Puzzles that I am going to make sure that I create a set in all of my Math Tub packs.

Next up is my Comparing Numbers game.  Students roll two dice, and write the number that is more by the big snowman, and the number that is less by the little snowman.  I use wooden cubes and write numbers on them with a Sharpie, but I have included dice templates in my pack just in case you don't have that option.  My kids love this game and are really good at it.  Since it is one of the skills tested on our report card, its a really quick and easy way to practice this skill.

This is my Penguin Sum Sort.  The kids line up the penguins from 0 to 5.  They then solve each addition problem and put it under the penguin with the correct sum.  In this picture you can see my little sweetie using her fingers to find the answer, and that is perfectly okay at this point.  By the end of the year, she will need to know these facts fluently, but this is a great place to start.

I always have one Roll and Color tub set up.  This is my Roll, Count and Color game.  The kids roll two dice, count the dots, and then color that number.  I also have an add one version, as well as a take away one version.

My Winter Math Tub Games and Activities Pack has these activities and plenty more!  Click here to see it in my store.

Will there be a February Math Tub pack?  Yep!  It's almost done, but I have to go add some Count and Clip puzzles to it.  

Now, this game is NOT in my pack, but I saw this idea on Pinterest.  Using an empty water jug, I created a snowman.  Each child has one die and rolls it.  They place that many cubes into the jug.  They each take turns and keep playing until the jug is full.  This does take a while, but they love this game.  When the jug is full, they dump all of the cubes back into the tub and start over.  Right now I only have one jug that the kids have to share.   I plan to add another jug soon, but I have to finish drinking the water that's in it right now.  

Here's the original pin on Pinterest if you'd like to see it.

Now, I promised that my 100th Day FREEBIE pack would be up soon.  So here it is!  These are just a few quick and easy activities to add to your 100th day celebration- a color sheet, badges for your kids to wear, and two activities for the kids to create sets of 100.  Click on the picture to see it in my store.  Our 100th day will be in early February.  Can you believe it's almost been 100 days already?

Happy teaching!  And stay warm!  

December 14, 2016

Christmas Craziness!

Hello everyone!  It's been a while since I have written a blog post, as Facebook keeps reminding me.  I'm sure that everyone else out there is just as busy as I have been the past few weeks.   How many school days do y'all have left?  I have 5 more...but I've heard that some of you are teaching all the way up to the 23rd!  

As I've told y'all before, I LOVE Christmas.  No, that's not accurate.  I LOOOOOOOOOOVVVVVVE Christmas!  I had my tree, door, and decorations up before the Thanksgiving break.  We've just been adding to them since Thanksgiving.  Here's what we have been up to, when we find the time to squeeze some fun in:

First up, my initial ornaments (on the left in the picture).  Each child has the first letter of their name hanging on our tree, with their name painted on it.  I do these 100% myself, although you could let your students paint the letters and write their names themselves.  This is one of my gifts to my students. 

On the right are our snowman ornaments.  I got this idea from A Cupcake for the Teacher a few years ago.  Click here to see how she makes her snowmen ornaments.  I promise- it's super easy.  I pre-stuff the plastic ornaments myself and let the kids draw the faces with Sharpie paint pens, but  Teri turns it into a class project.  

This is the first year that I have made this candy cane ornament.  These precious candy canes feature each child's name.  This was so easy for my little ones to do, plus it was a great fine motor activity!  I found the letter beads at Michael's.  One pack was enough for my small class, but I suggest getting 2 packs of letter beads because there weren't too many vowels!

We just painted these yesterday- Reindeer Thumbprint ornaments.  Each child made several thumbprints on their ornament.  When the paint was dry, I took some Sharpie paint pens and drew on the reindeer faces.  So cute and so easy!

Last, but not least, we have Scrapbook Paper Christmas trees.  I pre-cut the pieces and allowed the kids to arrange them from longest to shortest.  Perfect for finishing up our measurement unit.

Christmas time is fun, but usually it falls at a time when you are trying to assess students for report cards, end-of-semester testing, or even benchmark testing.  So sometimes you need something fun yet educational for the kids to do.  I just added this product to my store (click on the picture to be taken to my store):

It's a great way for students to review counting and number sense skills.  Last week, I attended a conference for two and a half days, and I left these as sub work.  So I know my kids were engaged while reviewing and practicing number sense skills.  It's a quick way to see who's got it, and who needs some extra help.

As for the conference, it was AMAZING!  I attended the Louisiana Computer Using Educators (LACUE) Conference to learn about the latest and greatest technology applications for the classroom.  If someone ever says to you, "Would you like to go to LACUE?"  Don't even think about it...just say YES!!!  While at the conference, I was recognized as LACUE's Region 4 Early Childhood Teacher of the Year.  What a wonderful honor and a great way to start a fantastic conference!

Hang in there y'all!  Christmas/ Winter Break is coming soon!