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!

Writing Centers are a staple in primary classrooms!  But in the past, maybe, just maaaayyyybeee my writing centers got a little boring.  #realtalk I mean, it can be difficult to keep that station fresh and appropriate for the whole year.

Let's talk about the lessons I've learned and ways to keep writing stations relevant and fresh all year long!

Setting Up a Writing Center

While some stations work well in a tub that kids can take anywhere, I like to have a set place in the room for my writing center.  Can it be a moving station?  Sure!  But I think it works best in one spot.

Here's a look at what my writing center looked like in first grade.

I had the writing station in front of the word wall or sound wall so kids would have that spelling support close by.

I also had plastic drawers with the materials and supplies for the station.  My firsties knew that the first draw had the response page in it.  The middle drawer had any supplies they needed to complete the station, and the bottom drawer had crayons in it.

I had a bucket on top of the drawers with special writing pens.

And I used the side of my filing cabinet to post sound charts, the I Can charts, and any examples of the activity they would be doing if needed.

Plus, cute painted stools or seats always make the space more engaging!

...One thing to note: This station worked really well even though it was smashed between my classroom library station and my computer station.  It helped to have the filing cabinet as a visual buffer between the stations and the computer station table was turned so the writing friends couldn't watch the screens! :)

Now that we've seen how I set this station up, let's talk about the different activities to have at this station and how they change through the year!

Making a List

In this activity, kindergartners make a list of things on a certain topic that is themed for the month.  Print out the word cards and put them on a ring to give kids an idea of things to write.  This helps our young writers practice looking and copying before they are able to sound out words.  Kinders practice the important skill of finding information they need and writing it down.

As the year progresses, have them use only 2 or 3 things from the rings and write the other 2 or 3 things they sound out and write on their own.

Or if you are using this is first grade, take away the word cards altogether!

Labeling a Picture

In this activity, kids label a picture by sounding out words.  Unlike the list activity, this time the kids do not have words to copy.  However, at the beginning of the year, it may be appropriate to hang a labeled picture at the station for them to copy.

Adding Details to a Story

This activity changes throughout the year!  At the beginning of the year, students add details to the picture given and then write to tell about the picture.

The writing part comes with options for a sentence frame (as shown) or just plain lines for more proficient writers.

The goal of this station is to help kids learn to add more details in their pictures and transfer that into their writing.  Now it's not just, "I can see a veteran."  It's "I can see a veteran AND A FLAG."

Starting in January, this station changes to Roll A Story.  The goal is still the same: add details to your writing.  But the activity is a little more sophisticated.

Students roll a die.  They use the chart to add details to the story.  The version shown below (which you can get for FREE here) has the exact phrase students need to add.  There is another version without the phrase.  This helps kids learn to fill in the correct "grammar" with the sentence.  For example, it's not "a mittens," it just "mittens."

For more proficient writers, or as the year goes on, have them roll a second or third time and add all of the details in one sentence...

Writing Prompts

In this last activity, students respond to a writing prompt.  Most of these activities come with word cards like the list activity. (January doesn't have word cards because it's asking about their new year goals...)  Students use the cards like a content word bank.

Just like in the list making activity, feel free to take these cards away for your more proficient writers.

Also, a word of caution: Often times, my lowest writers--especially my ELL babies--tend to just copy the words down that they see because they do not understand the task.  And for my ELL babies, it's hard for them to form a sentence they want to write so they just copy.  Their sentences end up looking like this...

"I can alarm stop roll extinguisher call drop."

I have found that for these kids, letting them draw the picture and then write without any cards is the best.  Sometimes without the distraction of the cards, they will begin to make a sentence that makes more sense.

And for those that just write random letters, that's okay too.  They are responding with their picture and during cleanup I make it a point to check this station first so that I can help them at least tell me the answer to the writing prompt question and write it for them.

You can find the Roll a Story activity for FREE here and an entire bundle of writing stations for the year HERE!

Phonics Stations are perfect in the primary classroom.  It give kindergartners a chance to work on their decoding, rhyming, sound sorting and syllable counting skills independently or with partners.  What activities work best for this station? And how do they grow and change as our kinders develop?

Let's chat phonics stations for kindergartners today...plus a FREEBIE!

Why A Phonics Station?

Thanks to the massive amount of research on the science of reading, we know that phonics and phonemic awareness are foundational skills that primary kids must have in order to become fluent readers. You can read more about the importance of decoding in this blog post I wrote earlier this year.

Whole group daily phonics instruction is a must have in the kindergarten classroom.  My routines last about 30 minutes in kinder and 20 minutes in first grade.  We use interactive digital slides that are engaging and fast paced!  It doesn't have to last forever to be effective!

Small group and independent practice for phonics are also important!  Phonics stations are perfect for both of these!  These phonics activities can be used as intervention practice in small groups.  Or they can be set up as partner/independent work for literacy centers.

Here's a look at the different kinds of activities for our phonics stations.

Decoding Station

This station starts out with upper and lowercase matching in August...

Then we move to listening for beginning sounds and matching them to their letters...

By November, we are ready for decoding practice.  Kinders are decoding CVC words and matching them to their picture.  This starts out with more support by using CVC words with only 2 different vowels.  This forces kids to focus more on the ending sounds.  By February, all vowels are used so the focus is more about reading all sounds in the words!  These puzzles increase in difficulty to include blends and CVCe words by May!

Syllable Station

In this phonemic awareness station, students are "reading" a picture and counting the syllables in the word.

Counting syllables starts in October.  In August and September, we are practicing letter discrimination and letters that look similar like b/d and n/h with sorting activities!

Letter & Sound Sorts

At the beginning of the year, it is important for kinders to differentiate between words and letters.  So we begin this station by working on sorting words by the number of letters they have.  If we haven't started stations yet, I use these for extra whole group practice and modeling how to do a station!

By October, we are ready to sort pictures by their beginning sounds.  We move from beginning sound sorts, to ending sounds and middle sound sorts.

In March we begin sorting by blends and by the end of the year, we are sorting long vowel sounds!

Rhyming Practice

In this station, we begin by matching rhyming pictures.

During the second semester, we match decodable words to pictures, like hug-tug.

Want to try out this station for FREE?  Grab this rhyming activity here.  Or get the whole year of phonics stations HERE!
Language Stations are perfect for kindergarten!  In these centers, kinders practice many of the language skills from the Common Core Standards.  What activities work best for this station?  And how do we set them up?

We're talking all things Kindergarten Language Stations today!

Setting Up The Language Station

I keep set up for this station super simple.  This station can easily be stored in a tub for students to grab & go to their desk or an assigned spot in the room.  I love mobile, grab & go stations because they are flexible in location... and let's face it: there's not a lot of room for extra "center tables" and such!

If you have a "stationary" spot for the center, just post the I Can signs there.  They are available in full color or black and white to print on colored paper.  If you are using a Grab & Go Station Tub, post them on the front of the tub.  

As far as what you'll need to keep in the Grab & Go station tub.  For the four activities, you'll need:
  • I Can Poster for each activity (I change it out with one activity each time)
  • Plastic folder with brads with clear page protectors
  • crayons
  • pencils
  • dry erase marker
  • activity printables, laminated
  • recording pages
For the language station tub below, I have the supplies for the handwriting activity and I printed the I can poster 1/4 it's size.  Watch this free video to see how to do it.

Handwriting Language Station

In this station, kinders practice letter formation while learning vocabulary words on a themed topic.

They use the dry erase marker to trace the words.  I just put the printed pages inside the page protectors in the folder with brads.  Don't forget to have the erase the page before turning to the next page! :)

Then, they will trace the words again and color the pictures.  This is a sample from the September station... during the second semester of kinder, the recording page has lines only and the kids copy the vocabulary word with the picture instead of tracing.

Opposites Language Station

In this station, kinders use the picture cards (with the words in small print) to match up opposite pairs.  Their are 10 antonym pairs.

First, they find a match.

Then, they record it on their recording page.

Have early finishers?  Have them turn over the opposite cards and play a memory game with their partner or alone...trying to find opposite pairs that match!

Things That Belong Station

During this activity, kinders match themed cards with things that go together.

First, the kids find a match of things that belong and tell their partner why they belong together.

Then, they record the pictures on the recording page.

During the 2nd semester, this activity becomes a noun and verb sort as the language skills increase for kindergarteners!

Have early finishers?  Have them turn over the puzzle cards and play a memory game with their partner or alone...trying to find pairs that belong together!

Category Puzzles

In this station, students put together puzzle pieces of things in the same category: school supplies, math tools, school lunch, etc...  Then, they record the items in the category boxes on the recording page.  There are 8 category puzzles!

Each month of language centers has one of each of these 4 activities and they progressively get harder throughout the year.  Try out one of the activities for FREE here.  And find the bundle of language centers here!

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