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KINDER Games! {Letter Sounds}

Hello Teacher Friends!

Just wanted to stop in today to share with you about Kinder Games!  I know... I know.... you probably just came in from the pool, or the are NOT thinking about school.... but my brain can't shut off.... and I'm always prepping for something!

So.....  while I have only created this one pack so far, I do have my list handy of other Kinder Games packs that I will be creating..... but I did want to show you all about Letter Sounds today!

Now.... my FAVORITE thing about this pack (drum roll.....) it's ALL in black and white.  That's right.... time to save on some colored ink and bust out your Astrobrights paper!

This pack has five games that all address letter sounds.  These games can easily be used in small reading groups, morning work tubs, fast finishers, literacy stations, etc....  Where ever you see fits best!

Just to give you an idea of how I organize these....

I print each game on a different colored paper for easy identification and organization.  (All of game 1 is on blue paper, all of game 2 is on green, etc...)

I print the title page to match, paste it onto a large manila envelope, and tuck all the pieces of the game inside the envelope!

This simple organization easily allows me to see the activity/game from the outside without ever having to open it up and dig through it!  

Now.... for a look at each of the games inside:

Game 1: Match it Up!

In Game 1, students will simply match the letter to the picture that has the same beginning sound.  
You can also play this as a memory game where all cards are face down (pull out specific letters if you need to!) and select cards to find a match.

Game 2 - Same Sound!

In game 2, students will use the Same Sound mat and the letter/picture cards.  Students will need to place the letter in the top box and find the three pictures that all begin with that same sound.  

Again, for small group purposes, you can pull out specific letters that students are focusing on!

Game 3 - Roll and Cover!

In Game 3, you will need two (or more) players, dice, and different colored objects to represent each player.  

Students will roll the dice (one player at a time), and using the matching key card and board (key #1 with board #1), they will cover up a picture that begins with that sound. (use the key to know what number represents which letter.)

The first player to cover up four pictures in a row (like BINGO) is the winner!

Game 4 - Does it Match? 

In game 4, students will have two cards for each letter (one that matches and one that does not).  Students will have to sort the cards to the correct mat (yes, the letter matches the picture's beginning sound, or no the picture and letter do not match)

Game 5 - Clip the Sound

This station will need clothespins or paper clips.  
Students will identify the picture on the card and clip the letter that matches the beginning sound.

There is a card for each letter and I also included capital and lowercase letters so that students are exposed to both throughout the activity.

So..... 5 simple games... low prep..... and perfect for teaching/reinforcing letter sounds. 

You can grab this set on sale through tomorrow!!!

Just click here or on the picture below!

Happy Summer!

Jessica Travis
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Ten Frame FUN!

Happy Monday friends!

For those of you enjoying summer (like myself).... I hope you have your feet propped up with a good book or magazine in your hand (perhaps a yummy beverage!).... and for those of you still trucking through the last days.... you've got this!

Now... I've only been off a merely 4 official days... BUT.... I've already been thinking (briefly!) about next year!

I managed to get side-tracked on another project I was working on today and somehow I whipped up some new and fun ten frames for the beginning of the year!

Math is one of my ALL-TIME favorite subjects to teach.... but gosh it's a close tie with reading......


Number sense is SO important for our students.  I know you know this.... but I stress.... it is SO important.... and it has become one of my favorite things about teaching math.  There are so many tools that we can use and utilize in our classrooms to help our students with their number sense foundation, but ten frames are one of the most popular strategies in the classroom.

Ten frames help our students visualize in base 10.  It prepares them for place value, addition, subtraction, number patterns, and so much more!

It's not only a simple question such as.... how many are on the ten frame?

With ten frames you can ask:

1. How many MORE to get to 10?  (great for decomposing!)

2. Find two numbers that make 10 (great for using two different colored counters)

3.  Greater or less than 5?

4. Why do we need two ten frames?  (great for numbers 11-20)

5. Great for teen numbers (turn the two ten frames up and down to represent place value blocks)

So.... I created this back-to-school themed pack of ten frames that I can't wait to use with my kiddos!

The activities in this mini-pack are perfect for small group math, morning work tubs, fast finishers, and your math stations in the classroom.

Here is what you'll find in the pack:

You will find 1/2 page ten frames with numbers 1-20.  

These are great for students to pull at random (out of order), and students will represent the number using some form of manipulatives (erasers, cubes, counters, stickers, dry erase marker, etc...)

For this example.... I had some googly eyes which I thought matched the little characters perfectly on the card!

or... you can even bring out the play-dough! 

Also included are:

Sometimes... you just need to practice with your own numbers, so I have included these blank single and double ten frame template mats!  

You can call out a number and students can represent it, OR you can use the included cards:

They can easily be put on a ring as you flip through them out of order, they can be face down in a pile, or even placed in a bag or bucket and pulled out a random for the students to represent!

I've also put in two different printables that you may want your students to do.  They can be a simple print and go.... or you can place into a dry-erase sleeve or laminate and let students use a dry erase marker to complete.  

I can't wait to use these with my students when we head back to school..... and you can grab them too...  (On SALE now!!!!)

Just click on the picture below or HERE:

Alright..... now off to enjoy some summer (until the next project starts!)

Jessica Travis
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The FREE Calendar

Well I have officially been on summer break for TWO whole days now.... however on day one, we were in the urgent care with the youngest.... who kicked off summer with strep throat :(

BUT..... we are on the road to recovery so we can start enjoying the perks of summer now!


For the last two years, I have posted about the calendar that I use in my classroom and how it can all be yours for FREE!

So.... here is the calendar at a closer look:

I absolutely love this calendar set up because it allows me to include so many skills and spiraling in just a short time with my kiddos!

My favorite part.... the ten frames to help us count the days of school!!!

I use the little colored garage sale stickers to fill in the spaces, but other teachers use dry erase markers to fill in the circle, themed stickers, star stickers, etc....

During this time in calendar, I can easily incorporate number sense DAILY.... which is crucial for our little learners!

Things I do with the ten frames:

1.  How full is our ten frame? (what number?)
2. How many MORE to get to 10?  (hard skill.... but they catch on quick!!!)
3. How many tens do I have?  (how many full ten frames?)
4. How many ones? (how many stickers in the ten frame that is not full)
5. We count by 10's
6. We count by 5's - looking at each half of the ten frame


You will also find the weather, days of school template to help you after you complete the ten frames, as well as filling in the date:

Another part included:

All of the days of the week are included to help you fill in this chart above as well.   Each of the months are also included :)

I also have an abundance of little tubs and buckets (it's an addiction really!), but these little tubs from the Dollar Tree were the perfect way to hold my calendar pieces!

I attached them to my board using little Velcro dots.... and they worked perfectly!  If I needed to take them down to allow more student interaction I could.... 

This calendar set has been a freebie on my Facebook page for a while, but I get GOBS of emails stating that many people still do not have Facebook..... SOOOO.... the link below will get the calendar set for free as well!!

Just copy and paste into your browser :) 

Hope you have a relaxing summer :)

Jessica Travis
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Coming to an End....

By now you probably (most definitely!) have the exact number of days written down, whether on a cute little notepad, a paper chain in your classroom as you remove one each day, or just in your head.... of the exact number of days until you have your feet propped up enjoying Summer!

So many of us teachers are thinking "oh my goodness..... I can't wait for summer!"  or "Whew.... that was a rough year.... I don't know if I can handle another one like that".....    or perhaps even "How in the world did I make it through that year.... alive?"  

Whatever you are thinking..... add this into your thoughts:

So often we get so wrapped up into making summer come quickly (don't worry....  I am and I have been there too!)  but we often forget that many of our students are about to leave the most structured part of their life they have had for the last ten months.   

Your students may be counting down the days till summer too.... but for different reasons....
  they don't want to leave you!

I know, I know.... some of these students gave you a few extra gray hairs this year.... had you thinking about retirement..... maybe you used a personal day for some "me" time..... but you have heard that the most challenging students need our love and support in the most unusual ways.... usually by acting out or behavior. 

These kids are going to miss you like crazy!  

- - - - - -

So.... what will YOU miss the most about this school year?

You don't have to answer right away.  I just challenge you to think about what you will miss most.... because if you ask your students.... their answer will probably be YOU!

Don't get so wrapped up in wanting summer to be here.... savor the last few days with your students.... you were THEIR teacher.  They will forever remember YOU!  

Enjoy the moments.....

Jessica Travis
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Brain Breaks: We ALL Need Them!

Let's face it.... whether it's the first day of school or it's the last week of school... our students NEED a break at some point throughout the day.

Now I'm talking about lunch or recess... or even PE.  I'm talking about giving your students an actual break from structured learning while still in the classroom! Many of our students don't know how to independently take a break from working.... in our eyes, their "break" is when they start talking to other classmates, asking to use the restroom, or even getting up and wandering around the classroom, which then leads the teacher to thinking that the student is not following directions.


Take a child's age and add 2.  (example.... the child is 6, plus 2, your answer is 8)  Your answer is the maximum number of minutes that the student can be fully engaged in learning before needing a mental break!

IF a child has truly been labeled with an attention deficit disorder (ADD, ADHD, etc...), then you MINUS 2, leaving the amount of student engagement time even less!


Now think about your daily schedule.  How long are you having your students sit on a rug in the morning?  During Math?  I'm guessing it's for a MUCH longer time than they really need to be sitting!

This is where BRAIN BREAKS come in!  If you are not doing brain breaks in your classroom.... START NOW!  There are so many great things your can do so your students can have a break from structured learning and re-gain focus for better success!

Need some fresh (or even just need!) ideas?

I created a little pack just for brain breaks!

This pack has 36 different options that you can choose, ranging from 30 seconds up to 15 minutes, depending on the length of break you want to take!  You can choose one activity.... or up to as many as you like!

Here are some different options:

You can cut out the brain breaks and place on sticks (glue or velcro!) and simply just pull a stick when needing a break!  (You can have students pull as well!)

Select a few that you want to do throughout the day.  Place the cards into a pocket chart so they are visible for students.  Simply select (or let a student!) pick a card. This just lets them see the options for the day!

Want it to be a surprise?

Place all of the brain break cards into a bag and just pull a break out when needed!

These cards do NOT have to be the only breaks you choose from.  

You can use technology and pull up GoNoodle (which is also one of the choices in the brain break cards pack!) Set up a FREE account..... and you won't regret it!!!

You can also head on over to YouTube and search "Cosmic Kids Yoga" which has MANY different children-safe yoga videos ranging from 5 - 30 minutes.  AND .... each yoga episode tells a story!  My kiddos LOVE this!  It's also great for indoor recess!  

So.... it's not too late to start brain breaks.... and what better time to start than at the end of the year when our student's attention NEEDS to be refreshed often!!!!

You can check out the 36 breaks in the pack by clicking below:

Off to finish up some growing bundles.... plan for the week.... and enjoy the rest of Sunday!

Happy Teaching friends!!

Jessica Travis
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Teachers: You are NOT alone!

Dear Teachers Everywhere,

I know many of you are probably counting down the days until summer.  Don't Lie.  We've all done it.  Maybe this is the school year that has you questioning why you became a teacher.  You have THAT class this year.  Behavior problems.  Lack of parent support. Maybe lack of administration support.  You are up to your elbows in things to do and the list keeps getting longer.


We as educators have all been there (and may be there now).  You feel over-whelmed. Not all of your students are where you want them to be academically. Maybe you aren't getting along with a team member.  Your evaluation didn't go as planned.  You have a parent that just doesn't have a nice word to say about you.


Maybe you raised your voice more today that you would have liked.  You didn't have the *perfect* lesson today.  You ran around trying to make copies because you used your conference time to call a parent or went to an ARD meeting.  You forgot to email a parent or team member back.


Perhaps you have a student (or three) in your class this year that leaves you crying at the end of the day.  You can't quite put your finger on why their behavior is the way it is.  You haven't made that connection yet.  You don't how to make it better and your patience is fading quickly.


Maybe you are considering staying at home next year.  You have new baby on the way or  You have supplemental income that will allow you to stay home.  You don't know the best way to tell your administration or team in fear that they will be "mad" at you.  You're juggling with the thoughts of should you stay or should you leave?


Jealousy.  Tell me it doesn't happen in the workplace and I'll call you a liar.  It's sad....but it's there.  Teachers are trying to "out-do" another teacher.  Teachers are marching up to the administration to gloat about themselves or to make another teacher not look as good.  Teachers are bashing other teachers because they are jealous. Some teachers have yet to understand that by working together you could achieve more success than ever before.... instead of trying to compete against one another.


To the first year teachers..... I'm sure you are about to jump for joy after completing your first year of teaching.  and you should. You are in the greatest profession out there.  Give yourself a pat on the back because I know this year wasn't your easiest!


Guess What?!  Each and every single day that you step into your classroom... YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  You have a room full of students that absolutely adore you.  Many want to be you.  Some already think of you as the greatest influence in their life right now.  You were chosen to have this specific group students and you have to give them your everything!  A simple smile in the morning.  Greet them.  Let them share something special.  Look at them when they speak.  Acknowledge them.  It doesn't take much.  I know all of the stuff above happens in a school and sometimes we feel worthless.  We feel like we don't matter.  YOU MATTER.  You matter to your students.

I'll be the first to admit....Everything mentioned above is something that describes some point in my ten year teaching career.

So as you head into the last weeks of school.... the home-stretch I like to call it.... think of the reason we come to school each day.  It's not for the paycheck.  It's not to be overwhelmed or to see another teacher that we may not be the best of friends with.... it's for the kids.  Make every day count until the last day.

Just trust me when I say.... YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Teachers should support every other teacher.  We are the only ones who know how demanding, yet rewarding our job is.  No one else will understand a teacher.... except a teacher.  So teachers...... YOU GOT THIS!

A teacher who has been there before!
Jessica Travis
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Earth Day Freebies!

Can you believe that we are already talking about Earth Day?  Yes... the end of April will be upon us soon! 

Earth day is such a great opportunity to share all about our Earth, taking care of our Earth, recycling, and all things in between!  However.... some of these concepts can be a bit tricky for our younger friends!  

I wrote a post last year that has some Earth Day ideas for our younger students and you can check that out by clicking HERE!

Inside the post linked above you will find the freebie, as well as picture examples and ideas for your little ones!

Hope you had a great Easter!

Jessica Travis
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Main Idea (for our younger students!)

Let me just say..... we've officially hit Spring Fever down here in Kinder-World..... please tell me I'm not the only one.  Every.Single.Day feels like the first day of school all over again!  I'm telling you.... this full moon and end of year crazy vibes has the kiddos forgetting every.single.thing that they had learned about following directions and behavior!  Can I get an Amen?

With that being said.... we still have 6ish weeks left which is still full of content and learning for these kiddos!

Down in Kinder-Land... we are about to hit the lovely and favorite topic of "Main Idea" in our reading plans.  You know.... that Main Idea that pops up in every state assessment in the older grades?!  The Main Idea that has kids just guessing an answer because they ALL seem correct?  Yep.... it's THAT Main Idea!

A few years back our campus took a CLOSE look at our state reading assessments in 3rd and 4th grade and really wanted to hone in on what questions were most often missed.  Guess which ones were most missed?   Yep.... the Main Idea questions!

SOOOOOO...... the campus got together and really wanted to make sure that ALL grade levels were exposing their students to this main idea concept..... even the youngest of the young!

So...... what's the easiest way to teach Main Idea to younger students?

Our main goal for our younger students is to understand that there is ONE big theme with smaller components that fit within that theme.  We do NOT need to get technical with text just yet with our younger kiddos, at least not independently.  Whole group discussions are GREAT with your shared reading time allowing for students to hear and share parts of the text and to hear the vocabulary being used.

One of the best things I have found is to use what our kids already know!  THEMES they are familiar with!

I created these theme cards (Main Idea) with the smaller components (details) that fit with that theme that we can use and sort whole group and even independently!

The large title cards are the main idea..... the smaller cards are the details.  Each main idea has 4 detail cards that go with it!

Want to have a little fun or take it a step further?

Try this:

Students will have to find the two cards that do NOT belong with the main idea!  This is great for assessing, whole group challenges, or just a fun extension!

After using the sorting visual cards, students can use the templates/printables  to illustrate their own details.  They can choose to use the same four details from the sort.... or again, you can challenge your students to come up with one detail of their own that would also fit with the main idea theme. 

I have included a printable for each of the visual main idea/detail sorts as well as a blank one that students can use if needed! 

And last (but definitely not least!) if you are into interactive journals or want to spice up a literacy station.... I created two interactive templates that your students can do!

The pictures on the top of the flap are the details and students will be finding the main idea card to paste under the flap!  (2 different versions are included!)

Sooooo..... next time you get to Main Idea for your younger students.... remember:  it doesn't have to be so hard!  Visuals are key!  Getting our students to understand what Main Idea truly is.... will help them in the older grades when they do have to apply it with their text!

Want to grab all of this for FREE?! 

Just click the picture above.... or click HERE!

Happy Hump Day Teacher Friends!

Jessica Travis
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Spring Break Challenge

The first two words of this titled post.... describe the glorious week that has just begun!  That's right... this Texas gal is officially on Spring Break!

February was probably one of the craziest months for me personally as I felt like I didn't have a second to breathe or relax.  Both of my children were sick at some point, one ending up with hospital care, two funerals in the family, 10 presentations at two different conferences that I presented, plus still teaching full time, trying to be a wife here and there, and of course a mom!  Let's just say.... I'm pretty excited for Spring Break to arrive!

I know my students were just as excited for spring break to begin..... BUT... I also know that research says when a student misses a week of structured learning, that they will actually lose some of their academic knowledge (which we already knew!)

Sooooo.... I created a little Spring Break challenge for my Kindergarten Kiddos!  Now... this is completely optional for them, BUT, it does come with rewards!

I created a one-week Spring Break Challenge calendar that has three activities per day.  These activities are pretty simple, however their parents must sign that they completed them.  AND to make sure that students *actually* complete the activities (this may come as a surprise.... but parents DO sign off on things their children never did!) Shocking...I know ;)   I have included an activity that must be completed and TURNED in the week they come back.

So while they have three activities a day, only one activity from each day will have a turn-in activity.

When my students return the following Monday after Spring Break, if they have anything signed off, they will of course get a prize or reward.   BUT I have offered the Complete Challenge for students who DO complete the entire calendar and turn it in on the next Monday.

Each student that turns in a COMPLETED calendar will receive the GRAND PRIZE from me!

For me personally, I am doing a Lunch Party with ME!  We'll eat lunch in the classroom, have a movie going, and have FUN!

You can of course come up with your own Grand Prize that fits your class and students!

A quick look at the calendar:

You can grab your copy of this Spring Break Challenge by clicking HERE OR by clicking on any of the pictures above!

Now.... off to relax (and probably get some work done!)

Jessica Travis
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Planning for Small Groups!

Welcome to February sweet friends!  

Man.... January just slipped right in and back out again.  It seems like we JUST had Christmas!  

We are getting our feet pretty wet in the world of Guided Reading down in the world of kindergarten! We don't really start our full on guided reading until January, mainly focusing on small intervention groups during the first half of the year and building those important foundation skills to lead us into reading!

With different groups, different skills, and pretty much different everything for each set of students, I wanted a quick and effective way of planning and organizing this to help me run my hour of guided reading as smooth as possible!  (And I wanted to share this with YOU!)

Note:  This post is NOT about what I do in my groups as far as the activities, printables, etc...(that's for a whole different post!).... but this is just a quick overview as to how I plan for those groups!

I just wanted to share really quick these easy and effective printables/ideas to help you plan for your small groups.  

- Binder
- Sheet Protectors
- Post it Notes (I like a variety of colors!)
- The FREE printables at the end of this post!

My binder is definitely nothing fancy.... but helps me keep everything in ONE place for my groups!

When I open my binder, I keep all of the extra copies of reading logs, planning pages, etc....

I place sheet protectors in my binder to easily place the printables inside of!  

The first thing I will see is my group listings that show the group and what students are in each group.  

I place the sheet inside of the sheet protector, then place the post-it notes on top of the sheet protector.  Groups will definitely change throughout the semester and instead of having to complete re-write an entire group sheet, I can easily just change the post-its that need to be re-written!
(And.... adding a pop of color doesn't hurt either :)

Behind my group listing sheet, I will have a lesson plan for each group.

I place the sheet inside the sheet protector and use a dry erase marker to write the week and group number.

I place TWO post-its inside of the skills box, (1) for new words/vocabulary for the particular lesson(s)   and (2) for the skills that we will work on during the lessons.

I also write the book being used and level, and then I make notes after I meet with the group.

I can easily see each group throughout the week and the skills that will be used!  

Inside my binder you will also see RTI - Data sheets.  I place the sheet inside of the sheet protector and then I can write the student's name and subject (if you are doing reading groups, math posts, or just an intervention group!)

I have the page set up for 3 weeks, because after 3 weeks of intervention, we should be taking a look at our student's progress and making the necessary changes in our plans as needed! 

On the post-its, I write the skills that will be focused on (beginning sounds, blending sounds, etc...)  Then the bottom boxes will be for results (8/10, 70%, etc...)  You can easily write on the sheet to keep in student file OR use a dry erase marker and then take a picture for student files.  

***I do NOT do an RTI sheet for every student.... just those that are below level ***

While this is just a QUICK overview, (and I focused on Guided Reading)... you can easily use these for any subject that you teach in small groups! I do plan on coming back soon to share guided reading in much more detail!  

In the meantime... you can grab these printables (for FREE) by clicking on the pictures below!

Hopefully this can help you plan a little easier.... or just have some useful printables for what you already have in place!

Until next time....


Jessica Travis
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