Winter and Holidays in Kindergarten

Oh hey there! From the little world of Kindergarten! Where germs are a plenty! And, where I with my un-seasoned immune system was sick for, well, a while! But I'm alive and well!

I wanted to share with you all winter and holiday things that have been happening in my classroom. 

We celebrated the beginning of winter this week with all things snow - including these shape snowflakes that I designed to wrap up our math unit on shapes. 
A photo posted by Katie (@voraciousteacher) on

The Shape Snowflakes are a FREEBIE in my store until the end of my vacation so grab them now!

 We also did all things Gingerbread!

We started actually last week by reading Paul Galdone's book. Then this week we continued by reading Jan Brett's Gingerbread Baby, Richard Egielson's The Gingerbread Boy and Gingerbread Cowboy (I really wanted to use Gingerbread Girl too but it's not out yet! I may have pre-ordered it.). As we read each version, we discussed how the books were similar and different. Students then wrote their own page for the story to create our own class book.

Students made their own Gingerbread people using the Gingerbread Glyph from Little Red's Schoolhouse to have them create opinions about the text represented by which colors they chose to use in their gingerbread man (or woman in my case ;)). They came out super cute.

A photo posted by Katie (@voraciousteacher) on
We finished with a little science experiment testing to see if the Gingerbread Man would really dissolve if he fell in the water. He would! I loved hearing their justifications for their predictions and then hearing their observations when he was in the water.

Students created these little reindeer decorations for their families. Let's just say this was an 11th hour project idea (as in I was creating the model for it 20 minutes before they came back from lunch and realizing it left a lot to be desired)! Definitely wasn't quite as cute as I thought it would be but now I know for next year! 

Students filled up the Fuzzy Heart Jar and voted to trade it in for a Holiday Party where they could dress up (other options brainstormed included a field trip to Chuck E Cheese...I quickly explained that we'd have to justify the field trip for being EDUCATIONAL to the principal...sorry Principal for having you ruin all our fun!).

They had quite the list of things they wanted (a tree, presents, maybe even a visit from the man in the big red suit ... kidding.. kind of :p). 

Student: We should have a tree.
Me: Hmm...I could make a paper tree.
Student: No, like a real tree. To put presents under.
Me: Presents?
Student: Yea, the presents you're getting us. {Ahh! Thank you for letting me know!}
Me: So where should I get the tree? It's kinda close to the holidays and most places are sold out.
Student: You can bring in yours.
Me: Then what would I do for a tree?
Student: Buy a new one.

This is an exact transcript of a conversation I had during our brainstorming session. Gotta love kindergarten!
So here was my compromise: the tree we ended up with in the right corner. I called it a "Winter Tree" and their present was a new box of crayons {they are ROUGH on their crayons!}. 

They also read about the three holidays using mini books. I got the top too books from Reading A-Z and the bottom one I found on TPT. It was REALLY hard to find a leveled book on Kwanzaa that was at their reading level. Even this one I had to remove a lot of pages. We read the Kwanzaa book together on the carpet since it was above their reading level, before they went and read the other two books in partnerships. Then they chose a symbol of each holiday to illustrate and write about. 

For our holiday party they of course had to create the decorations. I had three stations  - paper chains, snowflakes and paper lanterns. One of my students is really talented at making lanterns so I had her help teach the class. I absolutely loved doing this for a couple reasons.

One, I feel like there isn't a lot of time in my regular everyday schedule for things like this. I know, I teach kindergarten. But the day is so structured that it's hard to find time for activities that allow choice and creativity - unless they're directly connected to the curriculum.

Second, I loved seeing how well they did rotating from center to center.  We even paused in the middle for our morning break and when we came back, they went right back to their station and knew which ones they had left to do. It's these opportunities for independence and student choice that I feel like I haven't been doing enough of in my classroom.

Third, I loved that the lantern idea genuinely came from a student. She was making one during reading (I mean, during free choice) one day and instead of being mad, I was really impressed! She said she had learned from a Youtube video. Being able to then incorporate it into something the whole class was doing and giving her the opportunity to teach others this skill she had learned was clearly empowering for her. I want to be able to give my students these opportunities a lot more often! I also wish there was more time where I could let them explore and demonstrate what they already know, beyond academics. Sigh, things to work on!

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And now I am officially on Winter Break and I am SO excited. I'm honestly a little surprised it's already the end of December - they say time flies only when you're having fun! All joking aside, I am having fun, it just takes a lot of energy and I'm looking forward to ten days with no alarms! 

Happy vacation!


Five For Friday 10-14-16

A photo posted by Katie (@voraciousteacher) on

Oh hi there. The dear lovely people who meander over to read my blog. Which I have not posted on in OVER. A. MONTH. I'm sorry. Really. Except I'm not. Because I've had very little time to actually think about you blog, or you dear reader. 

Because at the end of August, five days before Teacher PD Days began, and two days after I had officially declared my classroom decorating done, I got a phone call. From my amazing principal. Asking me if I was still interested in the kindergarten position I had applied to earlier in the summer. 

Um yes!

But SO MUCH WORK later (oh hello, brand new classroom to decorate and organize, and new curriculum to teach, and new assessments to administer and evaluate), here I am. Officially 7 {SEVEN!} weeks into the school year. 

When I get tired, I ask myself if I'm truly content (I am) and I remind myself that this has my dream for 13 years. HALF MY LIFE! So let's just say, yes, it's a lot of work. But teaching kindergarten is also amazing.

Since I switched classrooms, a big part of the transition besides the planning and teaching was decorating, organizing and cleaning my new classroom. I know we teach the kids that when you're done, you've just begun, but two classrooms to decorate = not as fun as it sounds. I'm still rearranging and organizing things in my classroom! 
A photo posted by Katie (@voraciousteacher) on

Friday I got inspired and instead of doing the things I should have been doing, I cleaned and rearranged my classroom. Amazing therapy, people! 
I also have been organizing my teaching materials. At night, my way of procrastinating is making pretty binder covers for them. I know only other teachers will understand this.

 One of the best things in kindergarten is that there are a lot of BRAND,  NEW experiences  for the kids {and for me!}. 
A photo posted by Katie (@voraciousteacher) on

This is my favorite quote from this week.
A photo posted by Katie (@voraciousteacher) on

And this is something I never realized I'd have to teach! Oh, kindergarten!

I received a grant for Osmo kits this summer and my students LOVE using them! It's so hard to find time for extra things like this during the week, but I try to remember to set it up during our dismissal time for kiddos to use. 

I also {somehow} snuck in a half marathon in September where I ran a PR of 1:47 (left), and a marathon last weekend where I ran a PR of 3:46 (right). I'm officially taking a break from training until the beginning of November and instead I'm focusing on recovery and cross training. 

My goal is to post at least once a month from now on out. Fingers crossed I do! Even though I taught technology for two years, in a lot of ways this year feels like my first year of teaching. 


TPT Giveaway Blog Hop!

So excited to be participating in a Blog Hop Giveaway! At each stop YOU have a chance to win a $10 gift card! I know there have been A LOT of last minute purchases I've grabbed from TPT recently and I want to help you out during this exciting but stressful back to school time! 

Click here to enter on Rafflecoptor! 

Click here to head to Laura at Enchanting Elementary for the next stop in the giveaway! When you get back to this post, you'll know you've entered at all the blogs! 

Happy Back to School! 


Five For Friday 8-12-16

I am definitely getting the summer blues! I go back August 29th for two days of teacher meetings then August 31st is our first day of school (which is also a half day - has anyone else had a half day the first day?? I never have and I'm curious to how it will go). I know that's fairly late and I've been super lucky to have such a long summer but it's so hard thinking of setting alarms again!! 

But I finally got up my mojo and went in to school a few times to print, laminate and cut all my decorations! 

Then I started to put some of my decorations up in my classroom! 

See the bench?? I pinned about how I wanted to create this in May! Now I'm deciding whether I want a cushion or not...hmm. 

I'm super excited to be linking up with Allie from The Gypsy Teacher for her birthday give away! (Happy Birthday Allie!). On Sunday, every half hour on her Facebook page, Allie will be sharing a Flash Freebie from a whole range of TPT Sellers! My Flash Freebie will be Sunday at 11 am EST! I cannot wait to celebrate Allie's birthday with these Flash Freebies! 

I have been updating some products and creating some new TPT products before the school year really starts. 
I'm super excited to have updated my Book Quotes! Grab it HERE. I used this when I worked in a middle school and it was one of my favorite parts of my classroom! 
AND I updated my STEM/Maker Space Challenges with a new cover, new instructions and 3 new challenges! Grab it HERE!
I also added a free Learning Goals sign! This product includes signs for specific content areas as well as for grades K-6! Super excited to use these in my own classroom and wanted to share with everyone else!  

I'm at the end of week 8 for marathon training...that means I'm halfway through training! I've had some slight foot pain but with foam rolling and yoga I'm determined to heal and continue training. The humidity though has been really hard! This past week it was RAINING and I was STILL sweating in the rain! 


Five for Friday 7-22-16

I created my Classroom Letter Labels and added them to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store! I'm so excited for this product because it is something I plan to use in MY classroom! And with 9 designs I'm all set for at least a few years! ;) Plus it's only $3 (and the product is 67 pages y'all!).

I also created a Classroom Number Labels set with matching designs…I personally plan on using the numbers for labeling the computers. Now I just need to decided which design will match my class decor this year.
And if you want BOTH and want to save some moola (I mean, me. I love saving money!) then you can grab the Classroom Labels Bundle I created for just $5.

I am SO excited to use Brag Tags in my classroom this year! If you haven’t heard of Brag Tags head to Lucky Little Learners post HERE. I first heard of brag tags from Angie from Lucky Little Learners and Ashley from Schroeder’s Shenanigans in Second. Since I’m a specials teacher, instead of having a necklace for each student, students will receive brag tags thought class then add their name under the larger brag tag on the Brag Tag display wall. I created this set of Tech Brag Tags to use in my computer lab as well as larger versions of the Brag Tags for my wall display and a “Brag Tags” letters for a sign. Grab them HERE from TpT!

A photo posted by Katie (@voraciousteacher) on
I finally spray painted my Teacher Toolbox! I bought this 
Plastic Storage Cabinet from Amazon way back LAST year.  I finally painted it using 
Krylon Black Spray Paint and it looks kind of dreary now but when I add the colorful labels I'm hopeful the black will look more neutral! Being a specials teacher, having community supplies has been a LIFE SAVER! The students take such pride in knowing where the supplies are and they are fascinated with all the little drawers! If I become a classroom teacher, I'm bringing this toolbox with me because community supplies are AWESOME!

I decided to do a check in on my Summer To Do's and here's how I'm doing so far!

 I’m rocking it with my decorations goals (plus I even did some extra things like turned some of my decorations into TpT products!). Hooray! Wait…Maybe I shouldn’t celebrate JUST yet.
Nope, you’re not mistaken. My Lessons and Curriculum to do's are: Exactly. the. same. Oh boy. I did read a bit of the Responsive Classroom book but I am NO WHERE close to my other goals. Let’s look at it this way: now that my brain has had a rest, and I was able to get most of my classroom decoration planning done, I can focus on my Lessons and Curriculum to do's! [But creating decorations is so FUN! Sigh].

 I'm five weeks into marathon training and I love looking at my paces for workouts now and seeing how far I've come. Something I wrote in my 
Believe Training Journal  recently was "Progress is possible. Progress is possibility." Sometimes I get caught up in the whirlwind of "where is this leading me? I'm putting in this effort. Is it even getting me anywhere?" I get too focused on the end goal and fail to see how each little bit slowly adds up to progress and that progress leads to possibilities I only dreamed of before. I think I'm reaching a point in my training where I've been tracking it for a while and I can look back and say "Wow. I've come far. Long runs, and speed work and cross training DOES pay off." And it's similar to teaching. Sometimes it can feel as if the daily effort being put in isn't leading anywhere but when I pause to look back, I realize how far I’ve come and how each effort lead to larger changes. Okay. Reflective rant completed. :) 


Five For Friday 7-8-16

donors choose, osmo, coding
My first Donors Choose project is up! I have wanted to use Donors Choose for a longggg time but it always seemed slightly intimidating. When I discovered these Osmo Wonder and Coding Kits I was fascinated but wasn't 100% sure I wanted to plop down the money myself and the money is definitely not in my school budget. I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to take the plunge and use Donors Choose! Head over to my project page HERE to learn more about the project. 
Oh! And the best part is until July 12th, all donations get matched by using the code LIFTOFF when you donate! If you can donate ANYTHING (seriously, even a dollar would be appreciated!), I would be so thankful!

differentiation, Choice Board, Early Finishers,
So excited to share this new product from my store with you! I created  the Choice Board for my classroom when I realized one of the classroom management issues I was having was when students would say “I’m done! Now what?”. Put on the spot, I would make something up for them to do. My second year of teaching, I wanted something more structured and that was a part of their routine. This product includes a header, a checklist for students to use before they consider themselves “done” (and is anyone ever REALLY done with their work?), and 13 choice cards (plus two blank cards) that I change throughout the year. The choice card options are largely technology based with some more generic choices. This product has been a game changer in my classroom which is why I want to share it with you! The choice cards also serve as a great differentiation tool as you are able see the types of activities students are drawn to and students are able to explore more deeply topics from past lessons. I included in this product two designs, one that I used last year and one that I am planning on using this year to match the rest of my classroom decor. Head HERE to preview the product and to buy it for your classroom!

I placed my Amazon orders with the supplies for my classroom decorations...and had it sent to my house..TWICE...before finally placing the order correctly so it got sent to my school address. Sigh. Definitely suffering from some summer brain!
A video posted by Katie (@voraciousteacher) on
I decided to go in Thursday and open up some of the packages. SO MANY! It felt like Christmas!
planner, Erin Condren
I also filled in my planner for next year and used the label stickers but haven't quite mastered the use of Washi tape!

Summer Reading

Last week I had the opportunities to read to kiddos at our local library and I had so much fun! It was neat talking to them and reading to them again!

I'm at the end of Week 3 of marathon training. So far it's going pretty good. The part  I'm most excited about is seeing how yoga, weight training and plyometric drills impact my form and make me a stronger runner. I've always been pretty much a purist when it comes to running and it's been exciting to introduce more cross training - and to actually be enjoying it!

Monday was the Fourth of July AND it was day 4 of the Olympic Track Trials! The Olympic Trials are to me what the Superbowl or World Series are to other people: I obsessively fan girl, attempt to make patriotic deserts and cheer like heck whenever a Oiselle runner is racing (Highlight from the week: Kate Grace was first in the 800 Finals!).

Happy Friday!


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