Teach Kindergartners how to identify and use Nouns


Teaching kindergarten isn’t always easy – especially when you see some of the new things we have to teach with common core state standards. When I saw that I needed to teach children to “use frequently occurring nouns and verbs,” based on the language standard in Kindergarten (L.K.1), I wondered how I might achieve this understanding with five year olds. I even had a student test into my classroom when she was just four years old.

Since that time, I’ve come to the conclusion that I not only think that teaching nouns and verbs is possible, but crucial to teaching kids grammar for building sentences. There are some things I use to help my kids learn the academic language. I’m happy to say, that my kids are able to identify and use nouns. They were even able to identify and tell another teacher about them!


Total physical response (TPR), used inGuided Language Acquisition Design (GLAD), is a must when teaching important vocabulary. We use Journey’s a curriculum in our school. So, what I did was teach using sentence frames (verbal) and using body language that to me gave children an idea of what nouns include and don’t include. It took a couple of weeks, about a month, before children were able to tell me what a noun is and to point it out in a sentence.

TPR is in parentheses for Nouns: We say that a noun is a person (straight hands down, like you’re directing traffic down the center of an isle in an airplane :), place (pointing in the distance), thing (pincher fingers like your picking up something) or an animal (two fingers behind your head to make rabbit ears – kind of look like parentheses). We reinforced this language by practicing this vocabulary during transitions.

Sort Nouns: Sort nouns into different categories. I just used google images on the internet and we had children sort at their seat on their cookie sheet (so children don’t lose the pieces). When children returned to the carpet, I drew names randomly and asked children to tell me which category their noun belonged and why it belonged there. This is a good activity, as we had a discussion about the picture of a house. We know that a house is a thing, but a home is a place.

Reinforce Vocabulary through Color-Coding: We use the color green for nouns. I had children look at different pictures and circle the noun in green. We did the same thing with our sight readers. Children circled the noun word and picture in green.

Extend Learning: Invite children to review by coming up with their own nouns. Have children identify whether or not the noun they brainstormed is a person, place, thing or animal. Every time you ask, use the TPR.

Create Classroom Noun Books: We also created books with pictures of the children in our class. We talked about how people are important, because they have a specific name. This is why their name is capitalized. The cover of the book was in green, to reinforce that vocabulary. I also made sure that I had photo permission slips by all students. Each student now has a copy of the book in their cubbies for writing letters, and notes to friends. We also created books for the other noun categories. If you would like an easy way to create a book that automatically resizes the pictures for you, you can find mine here. This is what we used! My kids covet their homemade books.

Check out the free preview here. Check out the full book product here.

So, how do you teach nouns? I’m always looking for new and inspiring ways to reinforce vocabulary! Please leave me a comment below! I’d love to hear from you ūüôā


Make Your Own Books!

editable pdf make a book preview

I’ve bought and made several sight word readers throughout the years.¬†However, what I also wanted was a way to also make quick readers for different subjects, classes, and students. This is an interactive option. I also teach many English Language learners and low language kindergarten students. Their learning needs are different than some of my other students. So, I wanted to be able to differentiate quickly.

These editable PDF books make this doable. All you need to do is click on the box to upload your picture and then edit the box below to add text that matches. I can even have my kids take pictures in the classroom and make their own stories with the help of older kids and parent volunteers!

I love editable PDFs because you can edit until infinity. I made tons of options that I’m so excited to use in my classroom. My colleagues already love them, too!

Check out the free preview here.

Check out the full book product here.

Counting to 20


Count to 20

Counting to 20 takes lots and lots of practice. Those teen numbers are tricky. Once you’ve got those memorized, the rest is understanding and practicing the pattern of 1-10.

Here are some of the ways I practice counting to 20:

  • Board Games (repetitive practice with rolling dice and moving on the board)
  • Counting around the room (kids sitting in a circle)
  • Strips of masking tape on the floor to represent a number line. Kids roll and move forward. First one to 20 wins
  • Uno-type games (you can find mine here)
  • Math Reader (First table to turn to the number said aloud wins a point) First team to 20 wins.

How do you practice teaching and making counting to 20 fun? Leave a comment below!

Hope, Faith, Growth Mindset and Metacognition

Teacher Growth Mindset


Whether we believe it or not, we all believe lies in our lives. It’s whether or not we choose to believe the lies or believe¬†in¬†hope. Faith is the substance of things hoped for and evidence of things unseen. An abridged version of what the Bible looks at, and a scripture that I think is so commonly misunderstood, misplaced or confused. If you’re not a fan of the Bible, or a Christian, please hear me out. There’s more to be said.

Hope means that a person, a thing or situation is redeemable. They aren’t lost forever. Nothing is lost forever until you’re dead. Faith is what we use to believe and¬†hope for people. We have faith that what we hope for will come true. Whether you’re a Christian, a fan of poetry or not, this scripture really provides a great foundation for teaching and parenting practices; it’s¬†how we believe about our kids and how and what we believe about ourselves that drives our direction.

Today’s Story

I’m writing this post as much for myself as well as others. You see, I’m a kindergarten teacher, but I’m also a single parent of two foster children. Both have been through significant trauma and with it, so much anger and sadness. With one of my kids, I feel like such a failure. He’s yelling, you’re the worst mommy ever, and banging on his door as I write this. He was asked to take a five minute break. I’ve had to remove everything from his room except his bed, clothing and stuffed animals. Anything else, he uses to try and hurt someone else (usually me), or ends up hurting himself. He tries to knock down and throw furniture. I’ve learned to duck very well.

Faith Poster

Click the picture above for a free Faith Poster

Tomorrow’s Story will Be

If we believe the lies and refuse to believe in hope, we can’t hope to make it past the challenges that life throws at us. We can’t even hope to wake up with happiness and peace in our hearts. This is a tough lesson I’m learning and one I’m trying to teach myself every day; it’s a lesson I’m speaking into existence as I type. I need to have faith that what I hope for will be a reality. This is growth mindset. It’s perseverance.

We have to know that what we believe, is often a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we believe in an outcome not turning out for the better, that there is better for you, then when the better comes you won’t recognize it. This is metacognition. I’ve recently written another scripture on my hand. It says to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. When we take captive every thought, we are in turn, making our reality change. We are changing how we perceive the world, so that when we respond, it’s not a reaction, it’s a response with love toward others and ourselves.

How to Change the Way YOU Think (Metacognition)

Be active. Be aware of your thoughts and write them down. Read them to yourself and think of how you would respond as if your best friend had written them. Then change them. Cross them out and rewrite them so that you write what you hope, as opposed to your perceived notions of a situation, person or idea.

EX: I think my son is never going to stop his rage.  I believe my son will stop his rage when he screams it all out.

For me to have hope, I needed to know the situation will end. And it will end when he’s done raging. There is always an end. The timeline will not be mind, but I know it will end. I just need that finality and that gives me hope.

As a teacher, I need to know that my kids will learn what they need to be successful.

EX: My kids will never know all their letter sounds. I believe my kids will know all their letter sounds when they are ready.

What hopes do you have for you students or kids?

No Fear

No Fear

We all need a reminder. Lately, I need many, many reminders. As I sit at home, sick from work, I’m reflecting on what it is that God has for my life and know that it is good. It’s so simple, but that is what makes God so great. It is in the simplicity that we get lost as adults. I made this poster to remind me of who I am, what God asks of me and to give me a spirit of courage and strength. I’m reminded it’s okay to cry, to allow God to heal and to stand firm without fear. Love is the wheel, and God is the driver.

You can find this poster for FREE here ūüôā And please leave feedback. It helps me to know what you find useful and helpful.

Kindergarten Collaborative Partners in 5 Minutes a Day



When I started teaching Kindergarten, I was in a daze of how to teach collaborative partners. When they come in through the door that first week of school (months, in reality) many students don’t know how to sit at the carpet, line up or how to go to school. On top of that, we are expected to teach so much and assessments take up the first month of school. In Washington we do WAKids assessments, which require 1-1 interviews with students. There are 36 different dimensions for 20+ students. That’s a lot of time.

I thought back to my social work roots. I needed a way to help children solve small problems on their own – both academically and socially. Our school fluctuates with free and reduced lunch, but it’s usually around 75-85%, and so I needed something that would work for the varying demographics and populations we serve. I also needed something functional, practical and something that would fit with my style of teaching.

Mustard/Ketchup Partners

When I create groupings, it is important that they are compatible. I think about their level of learning in oral literacy and their drawing skills. I partner children who are just a half-step above their partner or a half-step below. This means that they are not partnered with a high and low level student. I find that if I do this, one student dominates and the other steps back.

I look at their oral literacy and drawing skills in kindergarten, because I see it as a predictor into their ability to engage in collaborative talk, negotiate and problem solve. Thinking critically is such an important skill to learn in Kindergarten. However, to meet children where they are, it is important that they start with someone who is close to their level of learning.

Collaborative Partner Checklist & Scoring Guide

Collaborative Partner Checklist & Scoring Guide


My 4-Point checklist for Oral Literacy includes:

  • Do they use full sentences when they engage in conversation?
  • Do they place words correctly (grammar structure) when they speak?
  • Do they use pronouns properly (he, she, they, them)?
  • Are they reluctant or confident speakers?

I give students a score of 1-4 for each area and take some notes.

Oral Literacy Scoring Guide:

  • 1 – Needing intervention (low level of learning/understanding/not applying)
  • 2 – May use some features or have some understanding (applying some concepts)
  • 3 – Proficient, basic understanding and applies (adequate or meeting standard)
  • 4 – Above proficient. Consistently uses features, and uses more than expected

The idea here is that you know your population and the kids you serve. The rubric is generic, because it depends on the group of kids. But, it gives me an idea of how to group children for collaborative partners and a baseline of important skills.

Drawing Skills Checklist:

  • Do they¬†use proper pencil grip when drawing and/or writing?
  • Do they scribble in circles or use intentional lines?
  • Do they use colors that match the object or item as described?
  • Do they draw on-topic?

Drawing Skills Scoring Guide: (Same as Oral Literacy)

  • 1 – Needing intervention (low level of learning/understanding/not applying)
  • 2 – May use some features or have some understanding (applying some concepts)
  • 3 – Proficient, basic understanding and applies (adequate or meeting standard)
  • 4 – Above proficient. Consistently uses features, and uses more than expected

Then take your notes, personality considerations and group kids based on scores. Higher scores are more proficient. Also consider if a child is high in one area and low in another. That’s where professional judgement takes place. Those collaborative partners (mustard / ketchup partners) sit next to each other and whenever they have a question, they ask their mustard/ketchup partner first and then the ask their peanut butter and jelly partners if they still have a question.

Peanut Butter / Jelly Partners

Once you have your mustard / ketchup partners set up, it’s easy to set up your peanut butter and jelly partners. Peanut butter and Jelly partners are when you take two sets of mustard and ketchup partners together to make a group of four (peanut butter group and jelly group). The mustard and ketchup partners sit next to each other at the same table, and nearby or at the same table group should be peanut butter and jelly partners.

Teaching Kids to Collaborate

When you have your partners, teach kids that their resources are there in front of them. They should use the hierarchy to answer questions. First ask their Mustard/Ketchup partners, then their PB&J partners, and then if they still have questions among the four of them, then they can ask me. That also helps me know if I need to address a teaching gap. If one student has a question vs. four students having a question.

When you find that students run into interpersonal problems, you model the words. For example, a student would say, “They took my hook!” I remind them gently that it is our classroom community’s hook. Then I say, how could we solve this problem. If they don’t know, I say, “let’s find another classroom community hook where we can hang your belongings.” Setting up the classroom as a community, as opposed to individual possessions is so important. Children need that community to understand that they are not entitled, but that we share, take turns and care about one another.

There’s much more I do to help foster independent kindergarten students. So, keep checking in with my blog posts to learn how I foster and teach independence in Kindergarten!




Virtual With-it-ness & Differentiation FOR Teachers in 1 Minute!

Create Virtual With-it-ness in 1 Minute!

Each year, the demands of teachers are high-higher than the year before. The buzz word that will never go away, and continues to pop up in our school meetings is: differentiation. Principals, administrators and parents want to all know how you are going to differentiate for each child. Easy, right? Well, sometimes. Differentiation typically takes time, prep and a lot of thought. You need to know each child, their academic, emotional, social, and biological needs. That is something that I think comes innately to most teachers.

In Washington, kindergarten has WAKids conferences where we meet with parents before school starts. If you don’t meet with parents and students before school, open house is usually around the corner and we get a sense of each child’s needs fairly quick. What takes time is the creation of materials. We know what good teaching looks like, we know what it feels like and we want to do it. So, the question becomes how and when can we do this? Time is the culprit. There’s never enough time!


That’s right, I have to create materials for my classroom that are quickly editable, easily managed and changed for each student and for my needs. We focus on differentiation for the student, but we also need differentiation for teachers. We need to be able to have the same document have multiple functions.

When I buy products, I usually can only use them once or have to print them all out and find out which ones I want to use. Then, I have to sort them and label them by levels of learning. For me, that requires groups of low language learners (no figurative language activities for English Language Learner students), lower level directions (beginning of kindergarten has to be simple and straight forward), simplicity levels and¬†knowledge proficiency (what you have to know before you can accomplish the task and no assumptions on background knowledge). I also need to scaffold the worksheets so I know how the information will build. This is easily sorted and accomplished when I want to teach students how to write numbers. But, what about sight words? I’ve bought so many sight word worksheets and then they might have too many sight word practice sheets on a page or not the right words for that day. Each year is different.


Be simple and creative with what you already have. There are simple activities I do every day that are easily adapted for students. In early primary, my kids love to do games,¬†puzzles and anything that requires movement. So, my solution was to create interactive editable pdfs where all I had to do was type and print. For example, I have an Editable PDF Bingo¬†Game where you type the letters you’re working on and the picture and cards are generated automatically. This was amazing last year. For this time of year, my students have only learned letters A-E. For this reason, I can type these letters in the template and these are the only letters and pictures (initial letter sounds) generated for your students. I no longer have to use the bingo game for summative learning (although you can do that, too!), I could use it for learning in the moment and for learning goals that day. AND, it took me one minute to adapt and change for the needs of my students. Because the cards were automatically generated, I had the printed letter and a picture card option. For my new-comer ELL student, he used picture cards and the other students used the letters. Perfect!

I can type and print as much or little as I want. It also took very little prep. I could type something in and change the directions or activities or content quickly. It took me one minute to differentiate based on student content needs and I had four different printable worksheet/game options. This was helpful for me to show parents how I differentiate, but also for my principal. He could see how the learning target was slightly changed based on student needs or how the content was adapted to address the needs of students at their level. We call it VIRTUAL WITH-IT-NESS. This helped me to address the needs of each child quickly.


Assessments are a whole other beast. We have our graphs, our record sheets and the like. But, when my principal comes in for an observation (and for my own needs), I want to see if what I’m teaching is making a difference in the moment. I already know what I’m teaching, I know what levels I need for a rubric, but creating something that is easily changed out is another story. So, I created editable PDF rubrics that I could print quickly – not take my entire prep. Because, although those print and go printables are wonderful, they don’t always have everything you need for that day. So, I created an Editable PDF rubric that I can print and post easily.

So, I hope I’ve inspired you to create quickly adaptable and changeable documents OR, you can find the ones I’ve created HERE


Welcome Back Bundle Freebie Sneak Preview



Have you been wondering what the thirty days of September freebie is going to look like? Here’s a sneak peak at the Welcome Back Bundle for 2016. All you need to do is sign up for my newsletter. This way you can receive your special coupon code to snatch the items as they come daily. After the last day of September, this product will be posted at full price! It’s promised to be a good freebie, and my best one yet to get you started at back to school. So don’t miss out!


Sign up for my newsletter HERE.

10 Ways to Establish Rapid Rapport with Parents at your First Conference


This is my fourth year in Full-Day Kindergarten, and it’s that time of year where I start scheduling conferences with parents. We have conferences before school begins to talk about expectations for the year and complete a few assessments. It can be a daunting task, or at least appear to be a daunting task – especially in Kindergarten. To some parents, it’s no big thing. They may have children in school already. For other parents, it may be emotional because it is their first or last child going into Kindergarten.

One of the things I have learned from my social work background is to establish rapid rapport. Establishing rapport with parents in a short period of time is possible. Here are some tips for Back to School Night, or for me, Before School Begins:

  1. Know your demographics, but don’t assume. It’s easier to establish a rapport with your parents if you don’t assume anything. I talk about taking what I know about parents (perhaps you had a sibling in the past) and put it on a shelf. All children are different, learn different and circumstances change. So, take what you know and put it on that shelf in your brain to take down later if you need it.
  2. Assume the best intent from all families. The way you treat families will come from how you feel before you meet with them. This could be even positive feelings. Perhaps you had a sibling or know a sibling who is well equipped when they entered Kindergarten, but maybe this sibling isn’t coming in with the same skill set. This could be do to family situation or because the child learns differently.
  3. Smile. Coming in with a cheerful and positive attitude that shows enthusiasm about the upcoming year will help put your families at ease, even when they feel just as or more nervous than their child.
  4. Tell your families how excited you are for their child to be in your room and explain your teaching style. For example, I tell my parents that I’m hands-on, play-based and love to engage all my children through imagination. I also tell them that the first few weeks are tough in Kindergarten and to expect bumps. This way they aren’t surprised when I do call them. I also tell them that I will call to make positive reports, because it is such a special year for their child and for them.
  5. ASK families about their child’s strengths. Parents love to talk about their children and will love that you can acknowledge and validate that. Think about some ways you can use those strengths in the classroom. For example, if a child’s strength is using a lot of color in their drawings, tell families that their creative nature will suit their learning style well during writing. Let them know that they will be able to use those different colors to color-code new words.
  6. Let parents know when you will contact them again and how you plan to make contact. On-going connections with families is crucial. This could be a phone call, but it could also just be when parents should expect your first newsletter.
  7. Speak at their pace. If you talk too quickly or too slowly, families listening can become frustrated. If you talk too quickly (especially for families who speak more than one language), they may feel intimidated or unable to follow. If you speak too slowly, you could be sending the message that you don’t value their time. One way to prevent this is also to talk about how you value their time, and for this reason the conference will go from x amount of time to x amount of time. If you need to talk more, you will be happy to schedule another time to talk.
  8. If you are having trouble establishing rapport with a family, find some common ground. Talk about something that appears to peak their interest – usually, this is going back to the earlier question of talking about parents’ recommendations about how their children learn best and valuing this. Asking parents to talk about what makes their child upset and happy is always a good place to go back to when you feel stumped.
  9. Mirror Body Language of families. If the families are explaining something exciting, then you may want to smile with that family. If families are explaining concerns around a child and look sad, you may want to nod your head encouragingly and furrow your brow a bit as well. For American culture, this also means looking families in the eyes. For ELL families, this will depend on the family’s ethnicity and place of origin.
  10. Lastly, ask open ended questions when you are engaging families in conversations. Open-ended questions are questions that have a response that go beyond yes or no. For example: “Tell me about Suzie.”¬†This would be asked instead of a question like,¬†“Does Suzie like school?” If you have a questionnaire that you have families complete, this is a great way for you to also fill in the questionnaire for the families or get most of your information based around conversation instead of an interrogation.

Top 31 Read Aloud Books for the First Month of Kindergarten

TOP 31 Books for the First Month in Kindergarten

TOP 31 Books for the First Month in Kindergarten

I’m in full mode getting ready for kindergarten and a whole new set of kiddos this year. This is my fourth year in kindergarten and I looove this age! They’re bright, fresh, and so excited to learn. Here are some of the books I’ll be reading the first month of school. Although these books are used in my Kindergarten Classroom, they easily work for First and Second Graders! For homeschoolers, you too can rock these books!

In addition to the books below, I also introduce kids to learning how to cut and glue with glue sticks and liquid glue. You can find these procedure books, which are rhyming to help kids remember procedures at my TPT store.


  1. Teach Liquid Glue Procedure
  2. Teach Stick Glue Procedures (How to use and how to glue objects)
  3. Teach How to Cut (How to cut objects and how to use scissors)

With the addition of the books below, these three books have helped my kids learn essential skills in the classroom. We cut and paste (glue) every single day. I promise you that if you read and teach these books, your kids will better be able to master these skills, too!

P.S. ‚Äď These are affiliate links, but I‚Äôm not asked to promote them in any way. These thoughts are all mine.

TOP 30 Read Alouds for the First Month of School


  1. Miss Bindergarten gets ready for Kindergarten
  2. The Kissing Hand
  3. Llama Llama Time to Share
  4. Splat the Cat: Back to School Splat
  5. Pete the Cat: Rocking in my School Shoes
  6. How do Dinosaurs Go to School
  7. If You take a Mouse to School
  8. Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book!k
  9. How Will I get to School this Year?
  10. Chrysanthemum
  11. The day the Crayons Quit
  12. Too Much Glue
  13. No, David!
  14. David Goes to School
  15. Llama Llama Time to Share
  16. Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen
  17. Firehouse!
  18. My Mouth is a Volcano!
  19. Tattle Tongue
  20. Manners in the Lunchroom
  21. The Recess Queen
  22. When Sophie Gets Angry‚ÄĒReally, Really Angry
  23. The Name Jar
  24. Officer Buckle and Gloria
  25. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?
  26. How Rocket Learned to Read
  27. The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School
  28. Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun
  29. Mr. Wuffles ‚Äď working together (cooperation/teamwork/collaboration)
  30. May I please have a Cookie?
  31. Don’t Squeal, Unless It’s a Big Deal!

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