Pre-Kindergarten Christmas Activities


Christmas and Five Senses

Christmas and Five Senses

During the month of December (when I was teaching Kindergarten) I incorporated the “Five Senses” theme in relation to Christmas.  The spirit of the season allowed for so many opportunities to incorporate this theme.  On my website and within the Christmas theme unit you will find ideas on how to incorporate the “Five Senses Theme”.


Incorporating Five Sense Into Your Christmas Theme



Christmas SymbolsIf you have followed my newsletters and blog, you would have discovered that I use and create many reproducible readers to offer my students an engaging and balanced literacy approach to reading in the early years.  Now that I teach grade one, this has not changed. Even though I have access to a variety of reading series, I still find myself creating little books that address the needs of my students better.  There is not one Christmas story within our reading series, so I created two.  In our Social Studies curriculum we are to introduce symbols that represent our community.  I thought I would introduce this concept by looking at symbols that are representative of Christmas.  I will use the reader below as a base to introduce this concept.  The students are to read, color and complete the interactive components of the reader.  Feel free to use these!


Christmas Symbols Reader – Easy Version

Christmas Symbols Reader – Harder Version


Christmas Traditions  Reader

Christmas Traditions Reader

New Christmas Traditions Reader and Follow-up Writing Activities

Another Social Studies outcome is for my students to identify different traditions practiced within their community.  I thought discussing Christmas traditions within our classroom would be a great platform to introduce this concept.  The reader “Our Christmas Traditions” is meant to help my students understand what a tradition is and lead to a discussion on different ones practiced within our classroom.  After, they will write about this, using one of the templates found in the links below.  Feel free to use these writing templates!  The reader is only available to paid members or individuals accessing the Christmas theme unit as it has been professionally illustrated.


Christmas Traditions Writing Template 1

Christmas Traditions Writing Template 2

Christmas Traditions Writing Template 3

Craft and Writing Activity

Craft and Writing Activity



I can’t wait to do this activity.  I did a similar activity when I was teaching Kindergarten but now my students are more capable (now teaching grade one).  My students are to convince Santa that they are deserving of his visit.  Within my school we focus on different positive character virtues.  We will reflect back on those virtues and discuss how they have practiced these and they must relay this to Santa.  I wanted to make this activity different from the traditional “Dear Santa” letter, where the students list what they want.  In this activity the students must convince Santa that they are worthy of his visit.  Template to complete this activity is found in the Christmas theme unit.

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Pete the Cat Activities

If you have read my previous blog posts, you will know that I love “Pete the Cat” and so do my students.  In my school we are required to always have an emergency lesson plan ready, which also takes stress off us in time of need.  I have created a plan based on the literature selection “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” written by Eric Litwin.  I have outlined my plan below.  The mini unit is Pete-Cat-Buttons-Unitfound in the link.


Pete The Cat And His Groovy Button Mini Unit


8:34 – 9:15   Morning Routine

-Put on shoes, get book bin and whisper read to self using the whisper phones (previous readers they have worked on).
-After everyone is  settled, they choose a partner to read to.


Read Aloud in Circle Corner

Read book “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin to the students.


Book Reading from (project on Smart Board)


Video of the Book


Shared Reading 
Project emergent reader “My Groovy Buttons” on the Smart Board.

-Read the title of the selection.  Do a picture walk of the selection and discuss what might be happening on each page and how it might relate to the story you just read to them, “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin.  Discuss what the interactive component could be (add facial features and buttons)

-Read the selection to the children modeling the reading process completing the interactive component as you read (add buttons and facial features to each picture).

-Read again, choosing different students to be the word pointer.


9:15 – 10:00  Developmental Centers and Guided Reading

Half the class goes to play (development) centers,  5- 6 students do guided reading with me and 5-6 students go to craft with the assistant (working on guided drawing activities).


Interactive Component

Interactive Component

Guided Reading

-students add correct amount of buttons on the shirt and complete drawing their facial features on the emergent reader “My Groovy Buttons” reader.

-practice reading the book to themselves, then read to teacher

-After, partner reads the book to another student.


10:00 – 10:15  Bathroom Break, Snack and Get Ready for Recess

10:15 – 10:30      Recess

10:45 – 11:15   Literacy Centers

I use activities posted on the link below:


Literacy Center Ideas

11:15 – 12:00  Writer’s Workshop
-Students write what they think of “Pete the Cat”.  Complete the pattern: Pete the cat is ____________.
-Share what they wrote

12:00 – 12:55     Lunch

12:55 – 1:55  MathColor-Number-Buttons
Review Numeral Identification

-Distribute small math manipulatives.  Display numbers found on page  7 and the children display that many.  After, can complete sheet found on page 8.

Introducing Subtraction
-Put the following subtraction sentences on the board.  After, each sentence have the students use their manipulatives to act out the sentence (start with first number and take away the other number).  Explain how this is related to the story you read this morning “Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons” by Eric Litwin

5- 3 =___,   4 – 2 = ___,   3 – 1= ___,  5 – 0=____, 5 – 2 =______,  4 – 3 =_____
Button-SubtractionAssigned Related Seat Work-  Complete the subtraction sheet.  The students cross out the buttons that need to be subtracted in order to find the answer.  May need to do this sheet together using the Smart Board.

1:55  -2:10  Recess

2:10 – 2:50  Switch Developmental Centers, Guided Reading and Craft Groups

Students who did not have an opportunity to visit play (developmental) centers this morning now have an opportunity to do so.


3:00 End of Day





A Balanced Literacy Lesson Plan

Balanced Literacy Model

Balanced Literacy Model

I have always been a big fan of integrating key learning concepts and subject areas in my language arts daily lesson plans.  This allows me to be more efficient in meeting the curriculum outcomes.  All my plans take a balanced literacy approach to teaching these concepts.  More information on a balanced literacy approach can be found in the link below:


Balanced Literacy Approach to Teaching Reading


Balanced Literacy Lesson Plan for November

The focus theme for November is on Pets and How Animals Prepare for Winter (Science Connection).  Outlined below is how I follow the balanced literacy approach to teaching reading.  Following this model makes my planning so much easier.Wanna Iguana


Read Aloud

This year I chose to use the book “I Wanna Iguana” as my read aloud to introduce this theme.  Within the theme unit (Pets Theme)  there are a number of suggestions but this is the one I chose.  This is a great book to use to understand the power of persuasion.  It also introduces the concept of the responsibilities involved in looking after a pet.  In the link below is a video reading of the book.


Video Reading of the Book “I Wanna Iguana”

The Best Pet Reader

The Best Pet Reader


Follow-up Shared Reading

I will be using the color version of the reader “The Best Pet” as a shared reading experience which is a follow-up to reading the book.  I will project it on the Smart Board for all the students to see.  I will introduce letters and their related sounds within the context of reading it  (Dd for dog, Cc and Kk for cat and Ii for iguana).  Any focus sight words could also be introduced.


Word Study

The Literacy Centers outlined in the link below all incorporate the the Word Study Component of the balanced literacy approach.


Daily Literacy Centers


Interactive Black and White Version of The Best Pet

Interactive Black and White Version of The Best Pet

Interactive Guided Reading

I use the interactive black and white versions of the readers (same one used for shared reading).  At this point, the students are still learning to track words and recognizing few sight words.  They absolutely love completing the interactive component of the readers and this adds a comprehension and fine-motor element to their reading.  The students are to cut and paste the correct pet that is mentioned in the text.  They can match the underlined word with the word printed on the picture.  This is a good visual discrimination activity.

Independent Reading

Once the students have read the reader during shared and guided reading, many of them will be able to read it independently.


Research and Vocabulary Development – Would An Iguana Be A Good Pet?

Since many of my students would not be a familiar with what an iguana is, we will need to do more research and add this to their vocabulary background.    I have used the videos below as a base for this research. This will help them to decide if they feel and iguana would be a good pet.

Information Videos About Iguanas


Modeled, Shared and Interactive Writing

I will model  writing what pet I would like or have as a pet.  After, I will model what the students dicate on chart paper.  As I am writing we often “share the pen”.  If they know a beginning letter sound of word that I am going to print, I will allow them to come forward and print it.


Guided Writing

Guided Writing

Guided Writing

After, the students will complete their own writing with guidance.  Could provide a template for this.

I want a __________ for a pet.

I have a ___________ for a pet.

I would like a ___________.


More Ideas for the Pets Theme

This is just a small sample of what activities you can engage your students in within the Pets Theme.  In the link below you will find more ideas.


More Ideas for Pets Theme


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Curriculum Based Lesson Planning

I have witnessed many curriculum changes over my 33 years of teaching.  I don’t stress about meeting each outcome but rather on developing exciting learning opportunties around a specific concept or theme that I wish to focus on.  In the video below I briefly discuss how I planned my lesson for the Pumpkin Theme that I will use during the week of Halloween.


Brief Video on How I Plan My Lessons


View Pumpkin Lesson Plan on You Tube


Meeting the Outcomes

After, I have completed my planning, I check off the outcomes that have been addressed.  I am always amazed at how many outcomes have been addressed in a single lesson.  If you are following the common core curriculum, you will find a checklist that can be used in the link below:


Common Core Checklist for Kindergarten

Down At The Pumpkin Patch

Down At The Pumpkin Patch


Importance of Incidental Learning

Introducing alphabet letters, sounds and sight words within a meaningful context offers many opportunities to introduce other skills that might crop up during instructional time.    While reading the emergent reader “Down at the Pumpkin Patch”, the students are being exposed to a number of sight words, the CVC pattern in the word “big” could be discussed, allowing students who are ready for blending sounds together to move forward. This allows for multilevel instruction.


Pumpkin Counting Emergent Reader

Pumpkin Counting Emergent Reader

Restructuring My Lessons to Meet the Needs of My Students

After, completing my Apples Theme lessons, I realized that my students still needed more practice in identifying and working with numbers 1-10.  I incorporated that into my Pumpkin Theme.  I created another version of the reader “Down At the Pumpkin Patch”.


Interactive Activities and Subject Integration

Interactive Component of Black and White Version of Reader

Interactive Component of Black and White Version of Reader

I always use the interactive versions of the readers.  In this version of “Down At the Pumpkin Patch”, the students are required to draw and color the correct amount of pumpkins as indicated in the text (numeral or word version).   This adds a comprehension element and also allows the students to be far more engaged in their learning.  I also try to integrate other subject areas as much as possible.  In this case, language arts and math were integrated.


My Final Thoughts

Remember to be flexible and praise your students regularly for the progress that has been made.  I have learned to not be obsessed about curriculum standards because I know all my students are progressing and that is exciting.  They amaze me each and every day at how far they have come.  The funny thing is, that most of them do meet the outcomes without me being so focused on accomplishing them and we have had fun along the way.


Halloween Related Activities

In the link below you will find more Halloween related activties.


Halloween Related Activities


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Free Worksheets and Resources

Math Resource Freebies

Follow-up Math Worksheet

Follow-up Math Worksheet

The Kinderplans site has many free resources that are available to the public.  I just wanted to make you aware of ones that would be applicable for this time of year.  If you are working with numbers, the link below you will lead to the page that has an animated number video with follow-up activities that can be used effectively to help students learn the numbers 1-20.



Animated Songs Number Video and Follow-Up Worksheets


Alphabet Activities Free Resources

Alphabet Picture Sorting Cards

Alphabet Picture Sorting Cards

In the links below you will find an animated alphabet video that is related to the “Alphabet Sight Word Readers” but it also contains other follow-up worksheets that can be used.


Animated Alphabet Video and Follow-up Worksheets


More Free Alphabet Activities and Worksheets


Free Emergent Readers

In the link below you will find free emergent readers which includes a reader about the changes that occur during the Fall or Autumn season.


Free Emergent Readers

Center Signs

In the link below you will find signs that can be used to identify your “Centers”.


Center Signs


Common Core Poster

Common Core Poster

Common Core Check List and Posters

Last year I condensed and modified the resources to help teachers meet the new common core standards that have become mandatory in many States.  On occasion, I receive an e-mail stating they want nothing to do with resources that relate to the “Common Core”.  Unfortunately many educators do not have an option.  The resources are designed to meet any curriculum outcomes.  Like any resource, it is up to the educator to adjust them according to the needs of their students and required curriculum outcomes.  They are generic enough to allow for this flexibility.

If you haven’t already accessed the common core checklist and posters, you can find them on the home page of the Kinderplans site.  You will need to logout of the member site in order to access the public site.  


Common Core Posters and CheckList


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Phonological Awareness

Important Skills for Beginning of Kindergarten or PreK

Training my students to hear beginning sounds in a fun and effective way can be a challenge.  I begin each year focusing on this skill as many of my students arrive lacking the ability to discriminate sounds heard within words.

Research has proven that phonological awareness, phonemic awareness and phonics plays a crucial role in children learning to read but the terms can be confusing.   The video below is an excellent source of information in explaining the differences.


Pre-Reading Skills Video


In this blog post I wanted to address a few mini-lessons that I have implemented that have helped my students to hear beginning sounds and apply this to the corresponding letter.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic Awareness Warmup

One of the learning outcomes in many Pre-K programs is for students to print letters they hear at the beginning of words.  However, many of my students arrive not being able to  distinguish the difference in hearing these sounds. Many do not understand the concept of what a beginning sound is.  During the first weeks of school,  I focus on phonemic awareness activities that will assist them in hearing sounds within words prior to introducing any alphabet letters representing these sounds.  I focus on the initial sound first.

1)  I have a puppet that I named “Slow Speaking Sam”.  Sam says the sounds within words (usually one syllable words) very slowly and the students must guess the word said.  If they can’t guess the word, it is said faster.

2)  I have three students come forward and assign each of them a phoneme sound they are to represent.  We blend the sounds together to say the word that represents these sounds.  We clap or stretch the sounds using an elastic band.   We also discuss the first, middle and last sound heard.  This activity has been invaluable in terms of my students understanding the concept of what a beginning sound is.  When the majority of my students are able to hear beginning sounds; I begin introducing the letters of the alphabet that represent these sounds (phonics).  We extend this activity to deleting and adding sounds.  Using the students to represent sounds assists visual learners with this skill devleopment.

Integrating Use of the Smart Board


Smart Board Sorting Activities
As a group instructional activity, we sort pictures according to what inital sounds are heard.


Phonics Component

Use of Paddle Boards

Dry Erase Boards

Dry Erase Boards

After the students have an understanding of hearing initial sounds in words, the phonics component is integrated.  I was fortunate to have a class set of dry erase paddle boards.  I use these contstantly in my “Literacy Centers” and class activities.  I dictate  words that begin with the focus initial letter sounds and the students must print the letter that represents the initial sound heard in the word.  This helps me evaluate each child’s understanding. This has proven to be an invaluable activity  but my only complaint is that I seem to be having to replace the markers frequently.  I haven’t found a solution to this problem yet.


 Use of Shared and Guided Reading and Literacy Centers


Connection to Literature

Many of the emergent readers are a simple retelling of a literature selection.  The focus literature selection for the upcoming week will be “Rainbow Fish”.  This is a great book to use to address the concept of sharing and to introduce the related emergent reader.


Shared Reading –  Rainbow Fish RetellingRainbow-Fish-Emergent-Reader

I project the color version of the emergent reader on my Smart Board.  First we do a picture walk and predict what the story might be about.  I read the book to them and after we circle and read the words together, reinforcing the use of pictures to give us clues as to what the text reads.


Focus Skills

The reader is not only meant to introduce the reading process but also key learning concepts.  The following concepts will be introduced during shared reading time: what a word is,  letters “r” and “f” and their related sounds, sight word “a”, colors and color words.



Guided Reading

I don’t exceed six students during my guided reading group time.  Since we have read the selection over several times during shared reading, many of my students are able to pretend read the majority of the book.  During guided reading they circle the words and color the pictures according to the text.  This not only adds a comprehension and fine-motor component but most students complete this task at varying times, allowing me to focus on one student at a time.  They read the book to me (tracking the words they circled) and after read it to a friend and take it home to read to their parents.


Printing Book – Group 1

Complete printing book “r and f” and stamp pictures beginning with that sound.  Printing book found in link below:

Printing Book

Sound-Soring-GameObject or Picture Sorting – Group 2

My students will be digging into the rice or soy bean tactile tubs for objects to determine if they begin with “Ll,  Hh,  Rr or Ff” sounds.  If I do not have enough objects representing a sound, I use picture cards laminated on cardstock instead (found in the “All About Me” theme).

I recently purchased soy beans from the “Bulk Barn”.  It was the cheapest I could find for creating another tactile tub.  My students really enjoy this experience.


Spin and Print – Group 3

Spin and Print

Students take turns spinning a top and printing the letters “r and f” depending on what picture the top lands on.


Alphabet Ordering and Matching – Group 4

I have all the alphabet letters in the correct order in pocket charts.  The lower-case letters are printed on poker chips.  The students must match the poker chips to the correct letter found within the pocket charts.  I have three pocket charts (2 students working at each chart). They are encouraged to say the name of the letter, if they know it).  Later in the year, I will have them put the alphabet letters in the correct order.


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Pre K Phonics Program


Printing Sequence

What Order Is The Most Effective In Teaching Beginning Letter Sounds?

This is a question I often get asked, “What order is the most effective in teaching beginning letter sounds?”  Since I introduce the correct letter printing formation at the same time as introducing the letter name and its corresponding sound, I try to follow the sequence our occupational therapist suggests.  However, this sequence does not necessarily start with the sounds that the students find the easiest to hear.

After experimenting with different letter sequences, this is the one in which I found to be the most effective in terms of learning to print and hear sounds more readily.  The first letters I chose were ones that we will use the most frequently in our daily writing.  The order I suggest is as follows:  l, b, h, r, f, m, n, a, t, p, s, e d, c, k, u, v, i, o, j, w, g, z, y, x and q.  The “Alphabet Program” which is included in the Kinderplans membership, was specifically developed to teach the alphabet and their related sounds effectively within a balanced literacy classroom.  More information on the “Alphabet Program” can be found in the link below:

Information About the Alphabet Program


Steps to Teaching the Alphabet and Related SoundsLibrary-Lion

Step One – Read Aloud

I start with reading the suggested literature selection which is associated with the emergent reader that will be used to introduce the focus letter(s).  If you do not have the literature selection readily available in your library, sometimes you will find an online version by doing a search.  For example, I will start the year reading “Library Lion” by Michelle Knudson that is associated with the emergent reader “Lion Likes to Read”.   You can also choose another literature selection related lions.


Library Lion Video


Emergent Reader Lion Likes to ReadStep Two – Shared Reading

I project the color version of the reader “Lion Like to Read” on the Smart Board and model the reading process (reader associated with the literature selection).  We do a activities related to the reader for a number of days.  I will introduce the names and and sounds of letters “l and b” within context of using the reader.


Step Three – Word Study, Phonemic Awareness and Phonics

We do a number activities related to the focus letters and sounds such as:

Alphabet Action Songs

Alphabet Action Songs

1.  Discuss names within the classroom and other words that begin with these letters and sounds.

2.  Discuss possible actions that could go with these letters and sounds.

3.  Sing the songs related to the readers that are found on the “Alpha Tunes” CD which is included in the membership.  I also sing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” but change the words to begin with the focus sound.

4.  Sort picture cards according to which ones relate to the focus sounds (alphabet picture cards included in your membership).

5.  We sort pictures on the Smart Board.  You will find a Smart Board sorting activity for letters “Ll and Bb” in the link below.



Smart Board Sorting ActivitiesAs a group instructional activity, we sort pictures according to if they begin with an “Ll and Bb” sounds on the Smart Board.  You would need access to Notebook software in order to download this activity.



Guided Reading and Independent Reading

"Ll and Bb" emergent reader

“Ll and Bb” Emergent Reader

During guided reading the students will be circling words and completing the interactive component which requires them to cut and paste the correct “b” picture that matches the text.  This adds a comprehension component to their reading.  After reading the selection a number of times during shared and guided reading, they should now be able to read it independently (pretend reading at this stage).


Literacy Center Follow-up Activities

The “Literacy Center” activities are an important component of the program as this is when the students practice what they have learned during instructional time.  In the link below you will find information on these Centers.


Ideas for Literacy Centers


Alphabet Bulletin Board

Alphabet Bulletin Board


The fabulous freebie for this newsletter is the “Alphabet Bulletin Board Picture Cards”.  These picture cards are related to the alphabet animated action video and the emergent readers.  As a member, you will have access to three different sizes of these picture cards. These picture cards are the medium sized version.  I place these in front of the room and refer to these regularly when reviewing the letters and their related sounds.  Removed on September 12th.



 Animated Alphabet Video


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Writers Workshop

What is Writer’s Workshop?

Writers Workshp in Pre-K

Writers Workshop in Pre-K

It is built on a framework that allows students the opportunity to write each day.  It involves the teacher giving a brief mini-lesson followed by practice on the skill taught.  The slide below outlines in more details what is involved in writer’s workshop.


Slide Outlines More About Writier’s Workshop


Weekly Plan for Writier’s Workshop

In the link below you will find a comprehensive plan for implementing “Writer’s Workshop” in  your Pre-K or Kindergarten classrooms.  It is one of the best that I have come across. I found the plans to be very realistic in terms of where many of the students are at when they arrive in our classrooms.  You can move through this process as your students become more competent in their writing ability.  I realize this document is a draft and refers to outdated standards but I feel it is still very current and can easily transfer.  I was very impressed on how the plans flow and how they are based on realistic expectations.


Implementing Writer’s Workshop


Realistic Expectations

Writing-Progression-pre-kIn my last blog post I discussed how teachers must be realistic about student expectations, regardless of curriculum standards.  It is not uncommon for students to enter our classrooms never having the opportunity to hold a pencil, cut with scissors or unable to print their names.  The first few weeks or even a month is devoted to addressing these concerns and writing expectations must reflect this.  Unfortunately, in the computer age many students are arriving with even more delayed fine-motor abilities than in the past.  This does not make our jobs easier in moving forward faster.

In the link below you will find a more detailed description related to the stages of a child’s writing.


Child’s Writing Stages



Hearing Sounds Within Words and Associating to Correct Letter

In lessons 20 and beyond the children learn how to use the alphabet chart and stretch sounds in the link I provided above.  Hearing sounds within words is a very difficult task for young children.  It is a challenge for them to hear beginning sounds in words and then associate this with the correct letter and now we are asking them to go beyond this.  We have to remember that this was an area that use to be reserved for grade one and has filtered down.  The majority of the children can do this task but not independently.  I spend up until the end of January focussing on beginning sounds but also introduce letters and sounds heard in the middle and end of words for those who might be ready.  The majority of my students cannot competently hear initial letter sounds and associate these with the correct letters until the end of January.   I would wait to introduce lessons 20 and beyond in the later half of the year.

In observing my students I also learned that they need a letter formation guide with a picture clue of what sound that letter makes because they forget when required to transfer this to a writing situation.  Lesson 20 is devoted to teaching the students how to use this guide (displayed below).  If you are a member, you can login to your account and find this guide under the heading “Alphabet Program” and scroll down to “Alphabet Pictures”.

Alphabet Writing Guide

Alphabet Writing Guide


Guided Writing

In the later half of the year when I see my students are ready to apply what they learned about letter and sounds and moving into more conventional writing practices, I often forego guided reading groups and replace these with guided writing.  When they are learning to stretch out words (Lesson 22) it is unrealistic to expect them to do this independently.  Small groups helps relieve frustration and fosters greater individual progress. It also allows me to assess their ability.


Writing and the Common Core

I feel the standards outlined in this document cover the “Common Core” except for W.K. 6, 7 and 8.  These common core standards refer to research and informational content.  These can easily met and incorporated during your studies later in the year which might include Dinosaurs, Plants, Ocean Life, Zoo or Bugs.  Once the students have gone through the acitivities outlined within this document, I feel they have a solid foundation for extending what they have learned into other areas of writing.


What are your thoughts on this issue?


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Developmentally Appropriate Plans for Kindergarten

Interview Joan Almon

Interview Joan Almon

Since the launching of the “Common Core Standards” in the U.S. there has been considerable debates among early childhood experts as to if they are developmentally appropriate.  According to Joan Almon, Co-Founder of Alliance for Childhood, teachers need to be aware of developmentally appropriate practices in accordance with the Common Core Standards.   Regardless, teachers are still required to meet these outcomes but they should be made aware of the shortfalls.  If you haven’t seen the interview with Joan Almon, I would encourage you to do so.  Click on the video or link below to listen to the interview, it is well worth listening to.

Interview With Joan Almon


The Biggest Shortfall With the Common Core Standards in Kindergarten

According to the interview, the biggest shortfall with the standards is that many districts and teachers have abandoned play-based learning, which has often been replaced with structure and worksheets in order to meet these standards.  She strongly encourages teachers to incorporate play within following the Common Core Curriculum.  She feels there is ample room within this framework to include meaningful play in your daily plans.  I totally agree with her.


How Can Play Be Incorproated Within A Common Core Classroom?Kindergarten Play

I live in Canada and our curriculum still includes a play-based model.  I couldn’t imagine my day without including a play component.  I have become very familiar with the Common Core and I do believe it is possible to continue a play-based model while still meeting the outcomes.  I know many teachers run their guided reading groups during Literacy Center time but I would find this very hectic, as many of my students still need my support during this time.  I run my guided reading group while half my class is at the play centers.  This allows few interruptions during this time.  On occasion, a social issue arises but my students know that I am busy and that they need to solve this on their own (which is what we want).  A group of six students are with me during guided reading, six students are completing a craft with my assistant and the rest of the class are at the play centers.  This structure works extremely well for me.


How Is My Day Structured?

This is a typical schedule of my day and how I incorporate play within a structured classroom.  I hope you find this information helpful.

8:25 – 9:15  Group Instructional Time

During this time I read to the students, work on related reading and writing strategies. I introduce the emergent reader that they will be working on during guided reading.

9:15 – 9:50 Literacy Centers

I run four Literacy Centers that are usually related to what the students learned during group instructional time.  They rotate to each center about every ten minutes.

9:50 – 10:00  Music and Movement

10:00 – 10:15  Bathroom Break and Snack

10:15 – 10:30  Recess

10:30 – 11:00  Gym or Writer’s Workshop

11:00 – 12:00  Guided Reading or Writing (with me), Crafts (with Assistant) and Play Centers

12:00 – 12:50  Lunch Recess

12:50 – 1:55  Math Group Instructional Time and Math Centers

The Math Centers allow the students to practice what was taught during group instructional time.

1:55 – 2:10  Afternoon Recess

2:10 – 3:00  Switch Groups for Guided Reading, Crafts and Play Centers

3:00 Dismissal


Possible Play Centers

In a previous blog post I outlined possible “Play Centers” that I feel would be acceptable even by administrators that may not readily value the importance of play.  I also outlined how my guided reading groups work.


Possible Play Centers and How Guided Reading is Organized


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The Tiny Seed Literacy Unit

Focus on Informational and Fictional Content Literacy Unit

Tiny Seed Literacy Unit

Tiny Seed Literacy Unit

In my last blog post I discussed how authors are combining fictional and informational content together, the literature selection “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle is a good example of this.  It takes the students on a journey of how a seed must overcome different obstacles before transforming into a plant.  This allows students to infer information from a fictional viewpoint.


A Gift for My Newsletter Subscribers – Access to “The Tiny Seed” Mini Literacy Unit

Tiny Seed Reader

Tiny Seed Reader

In this blog post I have also included a link to the mini unit I will be implementing in May related to the literature selection “The Tiny Seed” by Eric Carle.  This is my way of thanking my newsletter subscribers, Facebook and Google Plus followers for taking the time to read and post responses.   A modified version of this unit can be found in my TPT store (FREE).  A complete version is available to paid members in the “Plants Theme Unit”.


The Tiny Seed Literacy Unit (Modified Version)

Plants Theme – More Ideas

More related plant theme ideas can be found in the link below:


More Plant Theme Ideas



Emergent Reader – Simple Retelling of the Literature Selection

The emergent readers have proven to be invaluable to my teaching, I use them as a base to teach all early reading skills.  I will use the emergent reader “The Tiny Seed Retelling” as a follow-up to reading the literature selection “The Tiny Seed”.  I  project the color version on my Smart Board to use for shared reading.  I like to focus on specific reading strategies during this time (outlined within the unit).  The black and white version I use for my guided reading groups and as a home reading book to keep.


Tiny Seed Craft and Writing

Tiny Seed Craft and Writing

Follow-Up Writing and Craft Activity 

I will use the literature selection “The Tiny Seed” along with other books and videos to gather information about seeds and plants.   In the link below is an online version of the book.


Online Version of the Book


Literacy Centers or Stations

Literacy Center One – Rhyming Matching Game – 32 Rhyming Picture Cards

Rhyming Matching Game

Rhyming Matching Game

Using the rhyming picture cards (32 pairs) and large poster board, I created the matching rhyming activity displayed on the right.  There were three different boards, so if a student completed one board, they would exchange with another individual within their group.  There was also an answer key that outlined the correct pairs, this allowed the students to check their own completed task independently.


Litearcy Center Two – Identify and Print Review Game – Group of 6
Draw_-Print-Letter-Sound 2Place a plastic page protector over the printing sheet so it can be reused. This can be a partner or individual game.  Each player is given a printing sheet.  The players are also given a set of alphabet picture cards.  Players draw a picture card and determine which letter represents the beginning sound.  They must print the letter that represents the initial letter sound with an erasible marker.  If they draw a picture of a letter that has already been printed on their printing board, this is placed in the discarded pile to be used after all the cards have been drawn. The game is over once all the letters have been printed.


Litearcy Center Three – CVC Practice – 45 CVC Picture Cards – Group of 6Making-Words-Photo

In small baggies I enclose a CVC picture card, along with the word printed on bingo chips.  The students (partners or individuals) select a bag, stretch the sounds heard in the CVC word represented in the picture and place the letters in the correct order that make that word.  After, they print the word they have made.  The object of the game is to make 8 CVC words and print them.  After, I ask them come and read the words to an adult helper or me.  If they can read the words, they receive a sticker.  


Literacy Center Four – Alphabet Name and Ordering – Group of 6

Literacy Tiny Seed AlphabetThe students would take a tweezer to pick up a seed (great fine motor activity) and plant the seed on an alphabet letter name they can identify on the game board.  The object of the game is to plant all the seeds to cover the game board.


Literacy Center Five  - Planting The Seeds – Sight Word Game – Group of 6

Same as above, only the students would be planting the seeds according to sight words they could say.



The Tiny Seed Literacy Unit (Modified Version)



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