1 Year Anniversary of Becoming The Teaching Zoo CELEBRATION!!

Well, it's official!  I've been "The Teaching Zoo" for 1 year!  I'd like to have a celebration for all of you to show how much I appreciate your continued support!  There will be fun stuff on each of my sites.  I will be having giveaways, freebies, sales and new products...with giveaways of those too!  Please make sure you check my blog, my Facebook and my TpT all this week!

On my Facebook page, there's a giveaway of my ABC Hole Puncher pack going on...it ends tomorrow - so enter now!

On my blog, I'll be giving away $20 to my Teacher's Pay Teachers store!  I usually do a Rafflecopter giveaway, but I'm going to try it with comments.  Just comment on this post for your chance to win!
The SALE on my Teachers Pay Teachers store begins NOW.  Everything will be 20% off for the next two days!!  Take advantage and grab some things on your wishlist! Happy Shopping!
Stay tuned for more...I have more planned!

Open House

I'm a little late...but a few weeks ago, my school had Open House at for Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grade.  I just want to share some pictures and FREEBIES of what I did in my classroom.  Click the images of the water bottles and the bookmarks to get the freebies! Enjoy!

When the parents came in, this is what they found on their child's place at the table.  Since I teach pre-k, we sit at tables instead of desks.  The smiley face note is for the parents to leave a little note for their child to keep inside their crayon box.  I read the notes to the children the next day.  For anyone who is unable to attend, I send the note home so that their child can have a note too.  I don't want anyone feeling left out!
Right inside the little folder in the picture above is this survey.  On the outside it has the Parent Survey and it is taped closed with a sticker.  Inside is the child version of the same survey.  You have the kiddos answer the questions in class and the parents answer it at open house.  After the parents answer the questions, they get to open up the paper to see if they chose the same answers as their child.  It is SO much fun!  I had the most fun with it this year because I have one little boy who changes his favorite color each day depending on what color shirt he is wearing.  His parents thought it was so funny when they got to that question!


I included this cute bookmark for my parents to use with their children.  I always encourage them to read to their child.  I also include a page in the folder that explains how much impact it has to read to your child each night and how the time adds up over the years.  READ!  READ!  READ!

I also gave out these cute water bottles with one of those flavor packets attached.  I think it's nice to have a little refreshment or snack for the parents to have while sitting in the presentation.  They always appreciate it!
I hope you find these ideas and freebies useful in your classroom!

Writing Centers for Kindergarten and Pre-K

I am constantly providing new ways for my students to practice writing their letters in our writing center.  Here are a few of the ideas that I have done so far this year.

I use these ABC Trace & Write cards with a dry erase marker.  My kiddos love this because they get to use the dry erase markers.  I use black socks as erasers.  They work great!  You can get your FREE copy by clicking on the picture.

This is another writing center I have used this year.  I wrote all of the letters on the chalkboard easel and my students rainbow trace them in different colors. Easy to set up and you can continue to use it until your letters start looking funky.  As you can see in the top of the picture, I also use black socks to erase at my chalkboard.

Here's another writing center I'm doing in my classroom.  It's actually on the lid of one of my sensory bins, so it became a multifunctional area!  I used cutout letters and shapes and laid them down on the table.  Then I put clear contact paper over top of them.  My students use washable crayons to write on top of it and it easily wipes away.  Washable crayons work the best.  I tried dry-erase markers, vis-a-vis markers, regular crayons and regular markers too but the crayons that said "washable" on the box or label work the best.
I'll add more writing center ideas as I make more in my room. 
I hope you can use these ideas with your students!

What Begins with C? {and 2 freebies!}

I'm a little behind on posting, but here's a look at what we did for the letter C.  I didn't focus on a theme this week.  We just learned about many different things that begin with the letter C.
Our craft for uppercase C this week was a cat.  C is for Cat.  Here's one of my cuties finishing her cat by tracing the words at the bottom.  Check back soon for a post that will show the whole alphabet.  It's in the works! 

Here's the completed picture!
For lowercase c, we did c is for clown.  I couldn't choose just one for this one, so I had to show 2 pictures.  For the nose, I used extra math manipulatives.  They are red and yellow on either side, so my kiddos could choose the clown's nose color. 

If you've been reading my weekly letter posts, this is the poem that we did this week for C. It is Caterpillar's Story.  My kiddos then made a caterpillar in the shape of the letter C.  A post is in the works for my poetry book too!

Colors begin with C, so we practiced all of our colors this week.  I created these clip and learn colors cards to use.  There are two different versions:  match the color with the matching star and match the color with the matching color word.  Two levels of learning so I could differentiate for my students. You can click the picture to be able to buy the color clip cards.

We also went on a color hunt.  Oh My Goodness...the kiddos absolutely LOVED this.  I hung the stars up in different spots in my room and they had to find them.  We checked them off on the list as we found them.  When we finished they asked if we could do it again, so the next day I hid the stars in new spots and we hunted for them again.  This activity was a definite keeper that can be reused several times throughout the year!  You can also click on the picture for this one to be able to buy a copy to use in your classroom. 
I've been trying to incorporate a graphing activity each week too.  Favorite colors graphing was perfect to go with our learning activities this week.  I chose 8 different colors (blue, green, red, orange, pink, black and yellow) and my students placed their name card next to their favorite color.  A graph pack is in the works too!  So many ideas...so little time! 

Another activity that I couldn't choose just one picture of!  They both chose different toppings so I guess I "needed" both pictures...  We read "If You Give a Cat a Cupcake" and we made cupcakes to go with the story.  See the next pic for directions to make the "icing" for the cupcake!  To make the wrapper, I took a strip of construction paper and accordion folded it and glued each side.
Click here to grab your FREE copy of the writing for the cupcake activity!
To make the puffy icing for the cupcake, you need to use equal parts of shaving cream and glue.  Then you mix in a few drops of food coloring.  Yes, it's just that easy!  It takes a LONG time to dry, so just make sure you let them dry long enough so that they'll stay looking puffy. 

Here's what the puffy paint looks like while my kiddos were painting with it.  They thought it was tons of fun!
We also read "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" and made torn paper cookies to go along with the book.  Tearing paper is such great fine motor practice and actually is one of the first steps to being able to cut paper with scissors.

To top off our color learning, we read Mouse Paint and made this color mixing chart to go along.  The kiddos had to mix their own colors to make the new colors that we read about in the story.  The hardest one to make was purple.  Just a little blue is all you need!!  Click here to get your FREE copy of the Mouse Paint Color Mixing paper.

Other activities that we did that I didn't take pictures of this week, because we do them weekly and I sometimes just forget (lol) are the ABC Interactive Notebook, Playdough Mats for the letter C, Little Readers for the Letter C, Letter C Crown, What begins with C Poster, Letter C Trace & Write, and more!  You can click the links to either read the blog post about it or to go to my store to learn more.
I hope you enjoy this week's freebies and ideas!  I'll be adding Letter D blog post this weekend too...so stay tuned!

Sweet Teaching,

ABC Interactive Alphabet Notebook


Are you using interactive notebooks in your classroom yet?  They are AMAZING! I'm teaching ages 3-5 this year, so I wasn't quite sure how I would make an interactive notebook fit into my curriculum or how I would go about using one, but then it hit me.  The littlest learners would benefit from using an alphabet notebook.  It's great because since it is the alphabet, it is so versatile and can be used with several different ages and grade levels.

I created this ABC Interactive Alphabet Notebook to use in my classroom with my preschool class, but I have also used it with Kindergarten students and First Grade RTI students, as well as students with exceptional learning needs and students on the autism spectrum.   I love that each week the students are able to go back and see what we've done previously, so it keeps their learning in a continuous loop.  There are a variety of activities for each letter, which provide students the opportunity to interact with the letters in a different way each day.  However, each week the activities are repeated so that students are able to get familiar with what they will be doing.  This provides an ease for learning.  It also provides a format that is easy for families to understand, since I send them home each Friday for the parents to see.  I'm also finding that my students are loving it as much as I do!  They get excited about using it every day and about taking it home to show their parents. 

I've been completing my Interactive Notebooks with my students in small groups.  I've also had feedback from some teachers that they use it as homework and others that use it as independent practice.  Here are some pics and a little explanation of how/when I do my ABC notebooks with my students.

This picture shows how I use the notebook on Mondays and Tuesdays.  On Monday, we complete the Letter Sort (close up in the pic below).  I do this on Mondays because in circle time (whole group teaching time) I introduce the letter and this letter sorting mat set as a group.  Then I provide the additional practice in small groups in their interactive notebooks.  Tuesdays we do the picture sort.  I do the picture sort on Tuesdays because I also do a letter sound coloring poster page with them before small groups, so that they are exposed to many different words that begin with the letter we are working on that week.


This is a close-up of the inside of one of the flaps for the letter sort.


On Wednesdays, we do the Find & Stamp the letter and Rainbow Write the Letter.  I like to use bingo daubers with my kiddos because...well...they think it's fun!  You can also just have them color it, use a sticker on the letter, etc.  Stickers would be fun too, but the only thing about that is that you wouldn't see the letter under it.


On Fridays, we Spin to Win!  We use a pencil and a paperclip.  This is so much fun for the kiddos because they think it's a game.  That makes learning EVEN BETTER!!   We skip Thursdays because that's when we do our poetry notebook (that's coming in a future post...stay tuned!)

I hope I've shown you how you can use ABC Interactive Alphabet Notebooks in your classroom!  I think you and your students will enjoy using an interactive notebook in your classroom as much as my students and I do.  You can get your copy by clicking any of the pictures in this post.

Bugs, Bees, & Bears - Oh My!

This will be a double post weekend...I was crazy busy this week and didn't get a chance to update my blog with what we did last week...and I have this week's activities to post too!  As you can probably tell from my pictures that I post, I LOVE getting crafty!  I spent most of my free time this week creating decorations for my friend's son's 2nd birthday.  I'll include pics of that stuff too...just because it's so cute!

Anyway, last week we learned all about the letter B.  I didn't do a theme necessarily this week.  It was just all things B!!  We learned about bugs, bees, bears, beavers and more!  I think the kiddos favorite part of the week was our bug sensory bin.  Here's some pics:

I got all of the "ingredients" for the bug sensory/discovery bin at the Dollar Store!!  I love the Dollar Store for sensory bins!  I bought 4 packs of brown paper shreds, 4 packs of bugs, 2 bug kits and a magnifying glass.  The bug kits were great because they also came with a net and tweezers.  The tweezers were great because they helped make this bin ALSO become a fine motor skill that the kiddos LOVED!
Here's the completed bin.
Here are some of my little darlings using the tweezers to pick up the bugs and put them inside the bug collector kit.  I let only 2 students at a time use the bin.
Of course, we continued on to letter Bb in our ABC Interactive Notebook.  I haven't done a post about these books all by themselves yet...but that's coming soon. They are AMAZING.  Can't wait to share it all with you.  This page shows our letter sort and sound sort.

This is the inside flap of the uppercase B letter sort.

Here's the page in our interactive notebook where they had to find and stamp the letter Bb. We used a bingo stamper from the Dollar Store.  They also had to rainbow write the letter.
This is the uppercase B craft and tracing/writing practice that we did last week.  The wings are made out of parchment paper and we didn't glue them completely down, so they look like they're flying!

This is one of my kiddos working on the lowercase b craft and fine motor activity for the week.  We glued different color and shape buttons to a lowercase b.

I think it came out so cute!
This week we also learned about beavers.  We had been learning about different types of homes that people live in.  So when we read about how beavers build their homes, we created a Venn Diagram to compare how people and beavers build their homes.  We went on a scavenger hunt outside to collect our items (except the toothpicks that are representing wood).  People use leaves, mud/dirt, grass, wood and rocks.  Beavers use wood, sticks and mud/dirt.  So, we put mud/dirt and wood in the middle because both beavers and people have that item in common.  It was a GREAT introductory learning activity to Venn Diagrams.  Finding and gluing real items onto the diagram really helped the students to understand what we were trying to learn.
We also practiced our tracing and writing skills for the letter B.  I didn't take a pic of my kids tracing in action...but still wanted to share what we did to practice the letter.  I just finished turning this into a printable pack too!  It has all letters A to Z with an animal on each page to match the letter.  You can grab your copy by clicking on the picture.  :)
 We also practiced our math skills this week with bears!  We used the bears to learn beginning addition and also to count and build patterns.  This pack will be going in my TpT store as soon as I reach 300 followers and it will be a FREEBIE!!!  I'm at 299 now, so just one more person!  Check soon to get your copy for FREE!  It has tons more pages of counting, patterning, and addition practice! :)

***UPDATE:  It's now available for free here.
I hope you've enjoyed reading and looking at what we did to learn all about the Letter B.  We had a week packed with fun learning!  I hope you are able to use some of the ideas with your students. :)
Sweet Teaching,