Pocket Chart stations have been around for AGES in kindergarten.  And even with the introduction of all that technology in the classroom, pocket charts still stay!  Why?  Because they are a great way for kids to interact with skills they've been learning.  And let's be honest... kids LOVE pocket charts because it makes them feel like a teacher!

Today we are chatting about fresh ideas for your kindergarten Pocket Chart station and I'll be giving you a freebie too! #winwin

Setting Up Pocket Chart Station

Pocket Chart station is mostly a "set" station in my classroom.  Meaning.... it's not mobile.  Kids don't take it to their desk or a special spot to do.  It hangs on my wall and kids come to the station instead of the station coming to them.  However, last year, when I did a long-term sub job in kindergarten, the kids moved the pocket chart to the open carpet area because their pocket chart was on wheels.  So, it's up to you on how you want to do it!

Since I'm currently on a mommy break with my twins, what it looks like in my preschool Sunday School room will have to do for a picture of it!  All the supplies are kept in the pocket chart for this one because it frees up my floor space.  But you can certainly keep them in a tub nearby if you prefer!

Word Building Puzzles

One of my favorite pocket chart activities is word and letter building puzzles!  At the beginning of the year, this starts off with letter puzzles.

Later in the year, we move to building words with the beginning, ending and then middle sounds!  They LOVE these puzzles!

By the end of the year, they are adding "e" to words to build CVCe words in kindergarten!

Word Sorts

In this activity, students sort words by the first, last or middle letter!  There is no "reading" in this one as much as it is just paying attention to the letters and print.  In our phonics station, we practice decoding words with the same skills!

Later in the year, we sort CVC and blend words as real or wacky words to practice our decoding and comprehension skills.

Story Sequencing

This activity focuses on building sequencing and comprehension skills which helps with retelling stories with a beginning, middle and end.  This station starts out photo heavy.  Sentences are included at the bottom of the photos to help those who may be reading, but they can absolutely be sequenced without reading the sentences!

Starting in March, the sentences and the photos are separate.  Kinders sequence the pictures and then find the sentences to match the pictures.

Sentence Matching & Ordering

In this traditional pocket chart activity, kinders match the sentence with the words

And starting in March, they build the sentences without just matching words to a sentence.  You can find a sample of this activity in this FREEBIE!

You can find all of these activities in this year long bundle of Kindergarten Pocket Chart Stations!

About 2 years ago, my then 5 year old Cooper started having night terrors.  They. Were.  Horrible.  As night terrors go, he would "wake up" (seem awake, but really still asleep...eyes open and all!) screaming or crying at the top of lungs...talking out of his mind and pacing in his room or even walking out of his room (SOOOO scary)!

The silver lining in night terrors is that kids don't remember them.  And he didn't.  But there were a couple that were so very bad that we couldn't settle him without completely waking him up.  And he was absolutely terrified with what happened to him when he woke up.

Y'all, it got to the point that he was scared to go to sleep because he was scared he would have another night terror (even though he wouldn't remember them!)  Crazy, right??  It was.  And it was also heartbreaking.

In no way could I tell my son, "Don't be scared.  There's no reason to be scared."  Because his feelings were absolutely real.  And I had to validate his feelings.  But I also couldn't allow him to live in his fears...and sleep with mom and dad every night!! :)

One of my favorite Bible verses ever is Philippians 4:8.

We started speaking this verse over him every night.  We prayed this verse.  We repeated this verse.  And this verse was the last thing he heard before he fell asleep each night.  It became Cooper's Bible verse.

Along with the verse, we also made a list of 3-5 things that made him feel happy and safe.  When he began to feel scared or upset, we taught him to literally grab hold of that thought and throw it up to God, based on the verse, "Cast all your cares on Him, for He cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7 (and thanks to a friend who told me she used this when she felt anxious).

Once he had thrown his scary thoughts up to God, he repeated his 3-5 things out loud.  Sometimes, his list was longer and sometimes he repeated the same 3 or 4 things over and over.

"Sharks, Mommy, Daddy, dinosaurs, and trains. Sharks, Mommy, Daddy, dinosaurs, and trains.  Sharks..."

He was literally fixing his thoughts on good things.  Just like Philippians 4:8.  As he called out the good, you could actually see his face change from scared to a sense of safety.  We would quote Philippians 4:8 and kiss him goodnight.  

We did this for a solid week without fail.  And in the meantime asked some people to pray for him.  And praise the Lord, God chose to heal Cooper of his night terrors!  And he hasn't had one in over 2 years after having them every single night for several weeks.

We learned a lot during those weeks of night terrors.  And the main thing was how to handle negative emotions in a healthy way.  That's one of the reasons I felt so strongly about adding this lesson into my Kindergarten Sunday School unit on health.  ALL emotions can be healthy within reason and God created us as emotional people.  So, it's important to validate them and not dismiss them.  But we do have to CHOOSE to deal with them in a Biblical, healthy way.  

We can honor God with our emotions by reacting in a healthy way.

You can grab these response sheets for FREE here.  They are also included in my Christian Health unit along with the lesson and 5 other lessons!

Listening Station is a staple center in kindergarten and first grade.  When I first started teaching in 2006, I had the CD player, headphones and books....actually I used the old Basal readers because I wasn't using them for anything else.  The basals came with a CD and it was a cheap way for me to have an instant listening center! #teachertip

But thanks to technology, by the end of my 10 years in the classroom, we were using kindles for our first grade listening station.  Here's a look at what this listening station looked like in my primary classroom.

Let me make a disclaimer: In a kindergarten classroom, I do not recommend using anything but an actual book for those kinder babies to hold. When I did a long term sub job in kinder, we used real live books and no technology for this station except for a CD player and headphones. Why? Because kindergarteners are developing concepts of print and need practice holding a book the right way and turning pages on their own correctly.  That's why my kindergarten listening centers link to actual books to purchase. In fact, I can think back over my years of first grade and think of one or two classes that I would still use real books with because of their low reading skills--at least for the first nine weeks of first grade.

Now that we all understand that disclaimer... :)

Setting Up A Kindle Listening Center

Listening Station must be a "stationary" center if you have a plug-in CD player.  It can be a "Grab & Go" station if it's on an iPad or kindle.  

But I do like to have a special sitting spot for this station.  At least to have the wall space.  I like to post an example of the listening station on the wall to model how to write the title of the book and give them the sentence stem or show them how to trace the sentence stem.

This was my listening station.  The blank wall is where the I Can posters and examples of work go. (This was a before school picture.)  I post those with the kids as we learn this station.  The white tub with ribbon holds the recording sheets.  The CD player sits on top (or Kindle if you go that route.) And under the cart skirt are all of the books and materials needed for the entire year.

Here is the I Can poster I put on the wall.  Each listening center in my packet has two options: Full color or black and white so it's ready no matter what kind of printer you have.  Print the black and white version on bright paper for a colorful, ink-saving option!

Materials I have at this station or in the station tub are:

  • iPad, Kindle, or CD player/Book (for kinders)
  • two headphones (if you do partners)
  • headphone splitter (if you do partners)...find what I use HERE
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • recording sheet
  • Kindle version of the book

NOTE: I use these cheap headphones in the classroom for two reasons.  1) They're 5 bucks each. And 2) WHEN the kids break them (because it happens a LOT no matter how well we go over procedures), it's cheap to replace!  I mean, I tried the more expensive ones and they break too, so.... :)  In fact, I kept a few extras in my closet so that when one broke, I wouldn't have to wait for another pair to come in.

If you want to use the "old fashioned" books in hand (which I 100% recommend for kindergartners to help them build concepts of print and page turning skills!), then you will have a stationary place for this center and a hard copy of the book.  All of the books used can be found with their CD at the link in my listening center resource!

Setting Up Your Kindle

On the kindle, I use the free time app.  When it is open, the kindle will always stay in this and the only way to exit it is by password.  Yay!  Within free time, there are books, apps, videos, games...but only what you add!  So, when I am using a kindle for listening station, I only have the books part available.

Here's how to add or take away books

1. Exit free time by going to parent settings.  You will need to put in your password.
2. Click on "Manage Content & Subscription."  You may need to put in your password again.

3. Click "Add Titles to **** Library."

4. You will see a list of items.  Click the down arrow on the selection box so that you only see books.  Then, just simply check or uncheck the books you want to show up.  You can also go in here and make other videos, apps or games disappear by filtering those in the drop down selection box.
NOTE: Books will only show up if you have purchased the kindle version of the story.  Just purchase the kindle version of the book on Amazon and choose for it to be sent to the device you use for listening station.

And that's it!  When you change out the story, just go in and add that book again and take away what you don't want left in there!

Listening Station Routines

When students come to this station, they get the kindle and find the story we are reading.  My son's book section looks like this with lots of books....

He has lots of books, but when I used this for listening station, we only had 2-3 books in there at a time.  I kept the book we were currently listening to and 1-2 other books they could read if they finished early.

I use a headphone splitter so that partners can use the same kindle and listen at the same time.

After they listen to the story, they grab the recording sheet and write.  The beginning of the year kindergarten response sheets have "favorite" part prompts.  Later in the year there are beginning/middle/end and problem/solution.

They trace the sentence starter and finish writing their sentence.  Then, they illustrate a picture to go with what they wrote about.

For each story, there are 4 options: two different sentence starters, no sentence starter and a blank template with no title.  That's a great option if you have another book on the same topic you'd rather use!

All 4 of those versions are available in this listening center FREEBIE!  Also, find a year of listening centers here.
Have you ever spent hours cutting booklets, ordering page numbers, stapling them....times 20 or 25 kids?

And then, if you're like me, at least one kid has a page missing or out of place... #forreal

Last year, I introduced my decodable readers and blogged about why science tells us that decodables are a MUST in the classroom and I blogged about our routines too.

But the downfall to doing decodable readers with the whole class each week is a HUGE prep commitment!  I mean, I did it last year (READ: a copy mom did it for me!), but it sure would've been nice to have a better way.

Now, we do!  I've made all of my decodable booklets print, fold, and staple friendly!  That's it! No cutting and ordering page numbers and making mistakes any more.  If you have my decodables and are like me, you need visuals.  And step by step instructions.  Because, let's face it...I'm spatially challenged! :)  Let's chat about the easiest way to put together decodables!

Printing the Booklet

The first thing you will need to do is get all those settings right on your printer and Adobe Reader.  I'll walk you through it step by step in this video...

A few things to note:  Not all printers are created equally.  That means, not all printer settings are created equally.  Your 2-sided setting may be in a different place, or you may have to click the "advanced settings" button in your print dialog box.  The important part is that you choose double sided printing with it flipping along the short edge!

Chances are you can't print directly to your school copy machine.  If you can... COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS!  I taught for 10+ years at 3 schools and only one of those years I was able to print to the copier and it. was. magical.  No, really!

Where were we?  Oh yeah, you will probably need to print to an actual printer first and then copy the number you need.  So...follow the printing steps in the video and print your booklet.  Then, take it off the printer AS IS!  Do not reorder the pages!

Fold the Readers

It's that simple.  Just fold it.

No, but really.  Take the papers off the printer--as is-- and line up the pages.  If they've printed correctly you will have page 5 on top page in the top right corner, then page 7, then page 9.

You will fold the booklet from left to right.  That is, so that page 4 folds on top of page 5. Once you've folded the booklet, it will look like this...

Staple the Booklet

Yep, again...it's that easy.  2 staples...3 staples...whatever your preference is!

And that's it, y'all!

Ok, But Can the Kids Do It?

Yes, they can!  If you have taught your kids how to use the stapler, this is super easy for kids to do!

Have your kids put together their booklets first thing in the morning as part of their morning work.  Last year, we did our decodables starting on Wednesday, so this would be my Wednesday morning work.

Leave the stack of decodables by the door or in your "morning work" spot.  Have them grab their booklet stack as they come in.

Then, they fold and staple and put it in their phonics folder so it is ready to go for phonics or reading time!

Don't want your kids doing it?  Don't let your kids use your staplers?  Just have a copy mom do it.  Or have an early finisher you trust do it for you!  Or take the extra 10 minutes and do it yourself.  Seriously 30 seconds TOPS to fold and staple one of these booklets, ya'll!  You can totally do it!

Find the entire year of decodables here.

Last week, we started our brand new unit on prayer and my preschoolers are LOVING it!  When I was planning out activities for this unit, I struggled because I couldn't come up with anything super creative and hands on and fun that was developmentally appropriate for 3, 4 and 5 year olds.  I mean, when you are learning about prayer, the best activity is practicing praying, right??

So I went with two boring activities and thought, "I'll give it a shot and see!"  And guess what ya'll?? I put on my best actress face, gave it 110% and my kids are in absolute Heaven with these "plain Jane" activities! Here's a look at these two simple, meaningful activities that anyone can do!

Can We Pray About It?

I joked with my husband when I planned this activity that it was so plain, that I didn't even have a cute name for this activity!  Each card has a kid with a particular emotion on it.  It also has two sentences: "I am _____. Can I pray about it?"

So, of course, I named this activity, "Can I pray about it?" LOL!

But seriously...

To prep, I cut out the cards and laminated them.

At the end of our first lesson on why we pray, I got the stack of cards and held one up at a time.  This is where I really played it up.

When I held up the "grumpy" card, I said in my grumpiest voice, "My mom had to wake me up for church this morning and I didn't want to get out of bed.  I'm GRUMPY!"  I crossed my arms and sold it as best I could!

Then, in my normal voice, I asked, "Can I pray about it?"

Quickly the kids catch on and yell, "Yes!!"

I add, "Yes!  I can pray, "God, help me get rid of my grumpies so that I can feel your joy!"

Then, we literally repeat this for each of the 11 cards!  So many giggles and excitement during this activity!  The sillier I am, the more they laugh...and more importantly, are engaged!

Yes, it's a silly activity...but it is important concept for kids of ALL ages to learn:  God wants us to talk to him about EVERYTHING from our grumpies to our happiness!

Prayer Requests Board

I've always wanted to have a place to keep track of our answered prayers, but it just didn't ever seem doable with preschoolers.  I mean, most of them can't read, so what was the point?

But with this unit on PRAYER, I was determined!

To make it Pre-K friendly, I used body part cards.  I made several copies of the cards so I would have enough for all those boo-boos!! :)  

After our Bible lesson, we always have prayer time...no matter what unit we are working on!! :)  We transition from our lesson to prayer time with this chant.  (This video is from several years ago...with my baby faced boy...cue the tears!)

After our chant, I typically name each person in our circle and ask them if they have a praise or prayer to share.  But during this unit, we are going over our chart first!

This was our second week.  I started by going over last week's prayer requests (in red).  I asked each person about their prayer request.  For example, "Colton, how is your thumb?  Did God answer our prayer?"  He said, "Yes!" so we moved his card from the "Prayer Needs" side to the "Answered Prayers" side.

As we moved it, I had the kids say with me, "Praise the Lord!  Our prayers are POWERFUL!" and we showed our muscles on the word powerful.

We continued this for all 5 of the prayer requests from last week...which were all answered!  Then, I continued with our normal routine of asking each kid, one at a time for a praise or prayer.  Some of our kids didn't have any thing to pray about so we said, "Praise the Lord!"

For each prayer request, I chose the appropriate body part card and put a colored dot on their boo-boo. Then I wrote their name below so I'd remember who it belonged to...because we all know they'd claim them all if I didn't remember!! :)

As I added each new prayer request, we all said together, "We will pray for you!"  

So far, my preschoolers are loving keeping track of our prayer requests!  And I have a feeling by the end of the unit, our answered prayers page will be OVERFLOWING!

You can find these plain Jane, but meaningful, activities in this unit along with all of the Bible lessons, booklets, verse activities and more!

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