Homeschool Ideas for Early Elementary During Emergency School Closures

Hello all! As a Kindergarten teacher my heart breaks that we will not be starting our school year in the classroom. I know that this is the best decision to keep our students and families healthy and safe, but it is still not easy. As a teacher and a parent, I can understand how overwhelming it can be to know what to teach or how to teach. My best advice is to keep things simple. Spending time with your family and keeping them safe and healthy is most important and keeping things stress free is best. Please don’t feel like you need to spend hours a day teaching your child. Enjoy the extra time together and have fun playing games, making crafts, cooking together, playing outside etc. Here are a few simple ideas of ways you can teach your child during this time.

Continue Reading

Activities and Games to Teach Sight Words

Hello! I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during the quarantine. Today I wanted to share some tips and tricks for teaching sight words to early elementary students. I am writing this from a classroom standpoint, but if you are reading this as a parent, you can certainly take the ideas and use them for your child.

In our school we teach the Fountas and Pinnell high frequency words. There are 25 words in kindergarten, 50 words in first grade and 100 in second grade. If a kindergarten student masters their word list before the end of the year, I will start to teach them the first grade word list. These high frequency words are important to teach students because they appear often in the leveled books they will be reading. If students are able to recognize some words, they can focus on sounding out the words they don’t know and still have some understanding of the text.

This post contains affiliate links.

Sight Words

1. Introduce Each Sight Word

I like to introduce 2 sight words a week. We discuss how many letters the word has and how many of those letters are consonants /vowels. I also ask students to use the word in a sentence. If a word has more than one spelling (for, four) we discuss any misuse of the word as it comes up. While flashcards aren’t my favorite, I do use them for a quick, daily practice the sight words we have already learned.

Continue Reading

Tips to Teach Toddlers and Preschoolers Letter Names

Over the course of 20 years kindergarten has changed so much and the requirements have increased immensely. Kindergarten isn’t just a time for students to learn letter names and sounds, but by the end of the school year they are also expected to put letter sounds together to read and write. As a kindergarten teacher, we spend the first few months of school reviewing letter names and sounds, but this moves at a quick pace. In general, students who come into kindergarten having some letter and sounds knowledge have an easier time later on when we begin to put sounds together to read and write.

Teaching toddlers and preschoolers letters is a great way to give children an introduction to letter names and sounds that will make kindergarten easier later on. Learning the alphabet can be fun and should be incorporated into play. By starting them early they become immersed in letters and sounds that will later help them be successful in reading.

This post contains affiliate links. 

Teaching toddlers and preschoolers the alphabet can be fun and should be incorporated into play. By starting them early they become immersed in letters and sounds that will catapult them ahead and set them up for a very successful education.

Start by teaching meaningful letters

Don’t worry about teaching letter names in order from A to Z as this is often not the best  approach. Picking one or two meaningful letters to focus on at first is a good start so your child doesn’t get overwhelmed. Once your child learns a letter, add another one to practice (but don’t stop practicing the first, you don’t want them to forget what they already learned)

Teaching a child the letters in their name is a great way to start introducing letter names. Connecting letters to something important to them helps get them interested and helps them retain the information. Other letters to teach when first getting started could be M for mom, D for dad, B for ball, S for Superman etc. Focus on what your child is interested in. Dawson is into animals right now so we have taught him E for elephant, L for lion and T for tiger. 

Dawson is 2.5 years old, so right now we are only focusing on uppercase letter names. If you are teaching a child that is a little bit older they may do well with learning the letter name and sound. For younger children I recommend starting with capital letters because they are a bit easier for kids to remember.

Alphabet Books

Part of our nightly routine is to read a book or two before bed. For the past week or so, Dawson has chosen to read his animal alphabet book. As we read each page

Continue Reading

8 Ways to Find Cheap Books for a Class Library

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer! I can’t believe how fast it is flying by. Today I wanted to share with you how to find inexpensive books. Whether you are looking for books for your own personal collection, or if you are a teacher wanting to build your classroom library. It can get pricey, but it is possible to build a library on a budget.

Click HERE and find out where to find inexpensive books to rocket your kids imaginations into orbit! Whether you're trying to build your home or your classroom library on a budget, this lists will surely give you the "book smarts" to fill your shelves with knowledge and stories alike.

1. Garage Sales

Garage sales are a wonderful way to find books for about .50 to $1 each. Keep your eye out for retiring teacher garage sales too.

2. Facebook Marketplace and Garage Sale Groups

I have found large bundles of books on Facebook Market Place that people were selling for cheap, although these can be a bit of a hit or miss. Because these  books are sold as a lot, they are often much cheaper than purchasing individually.

3. Library Sales

Check to see if your local library has any book sales. Both of our local libraries have large sales a few times a year where they sell old library books and books from the community. The larger library in our city has a permanent bookstore that is open a few days each week. I have found a nice variety of adult and children’s books for $1 each.

Continue Reading

What’s in my Toddler Diaper Bag

Hello! Today I wanted to share what I keep in my toddler’s diaper bag. Since my son just turned 18 months I finally feel like we are in full toddler mode. I’ve been through a few diaper bags and this Twelvelittle Companion diaper backpack is by far my favorite. It is the perfect size to fit everything we need (and more) and has just enough pockets to keep everything nice and organized. Click here to see a full review of the diaper backpack.

The essentials that I carry in my toddler diaper bag using the TWELVElittle Companion Backpack. #TWELVElittle #diaperbag #diaperbackpack #toddler

I keep all of my son’s things in the main compartment of the backpack. The bag is deep and holds a lot, but also unzips about half way down so things are easy to find.  The 4 pockets on this inside of the bag also help keep things organized.

  1. Diapers, wipes and Aquaphor-  When Dawson was a baby, I carried a diaper clutch that had all of his diaper and wipes in it. Now that he is older I don’t carry the diaper clutch anymore because it’s so bulky.  I rarely have to change his diaper in public, so I just tuck a couple of diapers and a small pack of wipes in one of the built in pockets in our diaper bag. The Aquaphor is a multi-use product and can be used for diaper rash or as a first aid ointment.
  2. Changing pad- I use the changing pad that came with the diaper bag because it folds up nice and compact. It fits perfectly in the “secret” pocket on the back of the diaper bag.
  3. Spare clothes- I haven’t needed to change Dawson’s clothes when we are out in a long time, but I know the second that I take them out I we are going to need them. I figure we will need them when we start potty training anyway. I make sure to keep a pair of socks too because he is always pulling them off in the car.
  4. Snack pouch- Having a cranky, hungry kid out in public is never fun, so I always make sure I have a few snacks packed. I like to carry a bib and a reusable placemat to use when we are at a restaurant. It is nice to keep the mess somewhat contained and to keep food off of the table.
  5. Water bottle for Dawson and one for me. The diaperbag has 2 decent sized insulated pockets on the sides.
  6.  Blanket- Michigan winters are cold. Sometimes I will use a blanket to cover him up in the cold car or the once in a while when he takes a nap away from home.
  7. Disposable diaper bags- These are nice to use to throw away a dirty diaper when we are at someones house. They can also be used for any wet clothes after an accident.
  8. Toys- I bring a couple of small toys to keep him occupied whenever needed.

The diaper bag has 2 zippered pockets in the front of the bag that I use for my “mom essentials.”

  1. Wallet
  2. Keys
  3. Sunglasses
  4. Hand sanitizer
  5. Small makeup bag- I keep lip balm, lipstick, bandaids and other small essentials
  6. Portable charger- I have a Mophie charger that I like to carry just in case my phone battery dies.

What are your diaper bag essentials for your toddler?




Continue Reading