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About Me

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I am a first grade teacher who has rediscovered a love for firsties this year. I have taught pre-k, kindergarten, first grade and even second over the past 16 years. I have been married for 17 years to my wonderful husband and have been blessed with 2 very active boys.

Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K Back to School
Pre-K Back to School

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy
Pre-K/Kindergarten Literacy

Phonics Games

Phonics Games
Phonics Games
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Calendar Math for Primary Grades

Calendar Math for Primary Grades
Primary Calendar for the Year
Classroom Organization

Classroom Organization

Are you an organizer by heart or does the term ORGANIZE make you twitch? Well either way, organization can help keep teachers one step ahead of the students so let's see what we can do to make our school year run just a little smoother!


Have curriculum prepped and ready to go ahead of time.

I try to make it a point to prep as much as I can in the summer and organize it in a way to make it easy to find when I need it! Parent volunteers can also be a great resource to help you prep materials ahead of time and stay at home parents love the option of prepping from home for the classroom too.  The 12x12 bins are ideal for centers and games that I can pull in a moments notice like Math Activities for the Year.


Organize your classroom supplies.

I print labels with matching pictures to that not only does each material have a home, but my youngest learners can identify what is on the label for easy clean up! Pocket Labels are my go to and I stock up as soon as I see the clear, plastic, adhesive pockets at Target!


Teach your students how to stay organized.

Our students  already know that all the classroom supplies have a place to be stored, so why not teach them how to store their own belongings?  At the beginning of every year, I use Picture Name Tags so every student is given a picture symbol that is associated with his/her name throughout the classroom.  You can read more about Picture Name Tags HERE. This is a quick and easy way to take the guess work out of "Where do I put my ....".


Keep Families Informed

There are so many options we have with keeping parents informed.  There are monthly newsletters, weekly newsletters, school wide agendas and even online apps such as Class Dojo.  I use A Peek at My Week half page newsletters along with Class Dojo for daily messages/pictures. There are so many ways to Make Meaning Connections with parents and the children are the ones who are the winners here!


Utilize a Planner

Teacher planners are amazing and can help keep you organized in a BIG way!  I use my planner for yearly planning, monthly calendars, weekly lesson plans, to do lists, student checklists, grades and the list goes on and on!  The key is TO USE IT! Summer is the perfect time to find a planner that works for you and set it up so you are organized and ready to go from day one of planning!

And... I am so glad you are still with me here! 
Drum roll please........

All you have to do is enter the Rafflecoptor below for a chance to win the Erin Condren Planner pictured above!    The planner even comes with an interchangable cover!!

Winner MUST be in the contenential United States for shipping purposes.

Good luck!  A winner will be selected on Tuesday, July 30th at 12:00am. 

                    Pin It!

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Mrs. Wathen
Getting More Use from Your Alphabet Posters

Getting More Use from Your Alphabet Posters

Its so exciting to select the perfect alphabet as we set up our classrooms, but how much use does it actually get?

 Alphabet Posters are a a great visual for students to use throughout the day as the posters hang above your board in the front of the classroom.  That being said, students need to be exposed to the alphabet in a variety of ways!

Alphabet Posters can be  be used as large flashcards during circle time.  I print them 2 to a page so they are large enough for all students to see from any place on the carpet! Depending on the size of the classroom, the smaller size can also be used above the board in the front of the classroom if the larger posters won't fit!

Are you looking for center ideas?  Print the Alphabet Cards with six to a page and they are the perfect size for students!  Students can alphabetize the cards, use them for letter or word writing at the writing center with dry erase boards or Magic Boards, or  they can be used for a matching game when you print two sets of cards !

I print out a few additional sets with sixteen to a page.  I use one set for alphabet headers on the word wall.  I laminate and cut the additional sets and add them to a ring for alphabet practice.  You can leave the cards in alphabetical order or differentiate and mix them up.

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    Are you looking for alphabet charts for writing time? You can cuttomize the pages per sheet with six by five for alphabet charts for your students! There is no need to purchase an additional product.

    The best news it students will be more likely to use the Alphabet Posters when they work with the letters and pictures in a variety of forms.  Children will be confident and fluent with alphabet order and recognition as engage in these alphabet activities!


    Would you like to grab the Alphabet Posters to use in your classroom? They are my gift to you for signing up for The Resourceful Apple Newsletter.   I am looking forward to connecting with you!

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    Mrs. Wathen
    Small Group Literacy Activities in Pre-K

    Small Group Literacy Activities in Pre-K

    Small group rotations is one of my favorite times of the day!  It is the time of our day for explicit instruction in literacy and math with students... YES, even in pre-k!  The best part is, with the careful planning for hands on activities and games, students grow and thrive while playing!

    Small group literacy includes activities that focus on name recognition, phonological awareness, letters and sounds, writing  and prereading skills!

    Note:  This post contains affaliate links to products I love using in the classroom!

    Most children come into pre-k at the age of 4.  There is nothing more important to them as themselves!  That also makes their names important to them so this is the perfect introduction to letters and sounds! Not only are they interested in their own names, but soon they become interested in their new friends' names as well! 

    Bottle Cap Letters are a FREE resource in my store!  It is an easy way to personalize each child's name with mats and letters.  I also trace each letter with with glue and let it dry to add a tactile experience with letter tracing!  Start saving your water bottle caps and encourage your students and families to help out too.

    Picture Name Cards are perfect from little learners. Once children learn their symbols and the symbols for their friends, they recognize the names and the possibilities are endless: salt trays, playdough names, writing their name, stamps, stringing letter beads and just about any letter manipulative is ideal for name practice!

    Letter stamps are perfect for name practice.  At the beginning of the year, we stamp the letters into playdough.  As the year goes on, we move onto stamping with inkpads and paper.  Either way, it works on letter discrimination and the kids love it and collaborate throughout the activity! That's a win-win!

    Am I the only one who collects magnet letters?  I have the traditional ones for the beginning of the year, but then we add in letters with faces, animal printed letters, bottle cap letters and pretty much any letters I can find!  I do this for two reasons... 1- Novelty is key in pre-k!  If I can keep their attention and interest, they are more likely to learn! 2- Letters always look different in the world around us!  There are so many fonts that children need exposure to in a variety of print.  Magnetic letters help them recognize letters in a variety of forms.

    Check out this post on The Name Book!  It was so much fun to make it and honestly, it is a book my kids race to get to ALL YEAR LONG!  Why? Because it is a book that EVERY CHILD CAN READ!

    I introduce letters and sounds simutaneously.  I have read the book, No More Letter of the Week, and with that we work on letters and sounds in all that we do... like morning message, introducing stories, names, games, hands on activities and Poems with Rebus Pictures, 

    Alphabet Letter Mats provide fun and fine motor practice with the most bag for your dollar!  The materials can be inexpensively changed out to include playdough, pom poms, gems, and mini erasers to name a few.  Just about any small manipulative can be used on Alphabet Letter Mats!

    I love finding materials that can be introduced during small group instruction but then moved to other areas to integrate literacy during center time!  These Alphabet Blocks are perfect for letter and name practice and are the perfect stacking addition to the block center after they have been introduced.

    Interactice Alphabet Activities are always fun as the letters are interchangable for what we need to target during a given lesson.  We have used them as file folder activities with velcro and as magnetic pieces on the cookie tine.  When we are done with small group, I then add them on our classroom door (which is magnetic) or the dry erase board so students can play with them a center time.  They love playing teacher with these!

    Shaving cream is perfect for small group time.  It can get messy real quick so supervision is advised!  I started putting it out on tables, but soon figured out the trays keep the shaving cream contained and make for easy clean up! Our rule is "pointing finger only".  They love this sensory activity!  Gel bags are a great substitute if you have any friends who don't like touching messy things!

    Commercial and teacher made Alphabet Puzzles are great once children start recognizing some letters.  I add a letter at a time at a time into pencil boxes for easy storage and organization.  This is perfect for my kiddos as it doesn't overwhelm them.  Alphabet Puzzles comes with three puzzles for each letter so I have three different pencil boxes to keep each set stored separately.  Clear as mud?

    Phonological Awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate units of language such as sounds,  syllables.  These activities are oral and the written print does not come into play.  In most the the activities we use, I include pictures for student interest and engagement.  These pictures are NOT needed to practice these skills.

    Swingables are introduced during small group and include a "swinging" componant that reveals the answer.  The Compound Word Swingables are used to self check syllable addition with compound words.

    Alphabet Swingables start with two pictures that begin with the same sound and students need to identify the beginning sound/letter and then self check.  These are fun to introduce during small group and then move to centers or an independent or partner activity.

    Teacher Task Cards for Phonological Awareness are an auditory activity where chldren listen to the teacher's prompt and then answer.  Again, pictures are added for our visual learners, but it is an auditory activity.  These cards include counting words in a sentence, counting syllables, syllable blending, syllabledeletion and rhyming words.  They are a go to after we have practiced during whole group but they group needs additional practice or I need to assess.  

    Writing as a skill includes name writing, letter formation, beginning sounds, storytelling and stringing letters together to make words. We introduce these activities during small group and integrate them with authentic writing activities.

    Magic Boards provide a medium that allows me to scaffold writing for young writers.  Some children need to trace as they develop their fine motor muscles as they trace letters or their name before writing independently!  This helps them with a model and then provides the confidence when the sheet is removed! When they are ready to write independently, this will still be a go to activity!

    Write the Room with Pictures is ideal for young learners as it provides choice and movement all while practiving letters, sounds and writing.  Sudents can "read" the words with the help of picture clues on the words hanging around the room.  The matching pictures on the recording sheets allow children to "read" back what they have written!

    Authenic writing, such as thank you notes for our Donors Choose sponsors or making cards for holidays or birthdays, has the most meaning for our friends!  This is REAL writing, just like the adults in their lives do.  This is meaningful work!

    Journal writing also has to be real and meaningful to beginning writers.  I encourage students to draw a picture, tell me about it and then label the picture.  We start journal writing after Christmas vacation at the beginning of the second half of the year.  In order to give their best, students need to have a say in what they are writing and drawing about.  When they are ready, students will begin to string those sounds together to make words...and then sentences!  It might not happen this year, but we are laying the foundation for all that is to come.

    Sight words can be one of those controversial topics in pre-kindergarten.  In the county I teach in, we introduce 15 sight words to help in preparation for kindergarten.  Many students will master these and excited to learn more, and some children are not ready and this is merely for exposure,

    Sight Words For Pre-K is a FREE download that contains fifteen word cards, a parent note and an assessment that can be used.  I print several sets of these cards and use them with differnt activities such as salt trays or magic board writing.  The trays are from the Target Dollar Section and came with lacing beads in them.

    Sight Words Activities for Pre-K come in Winter and Spring Editions.  They include sight word mats, word building cards and write the room cards. 

    All the activities can be enhanced with a variety of manipulatives as with the Alpahbet activities.  Bottle cap letters can me made and color coded for easy organization! 

    These Write the Room cards can also be used as a word building activity with alphabet manipulatives.  Alphabet Cookies are a new favorite in our room!

    Small group activities have been a game changer for instruction in our pre-k room.  It is a time that allows me to specifically target skills while differentiating between groups. The small group setting allows students to better concentrate and practice the skills introduced in whole group lessons.

    Make sure to pin this post for easy reference for small group literacy planning
     and follow me on Pinterest for more classroom ideas!

    Happy Teaching!
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    Mrs. Wathen
    The Name Book

    The Name Book

    Back to school learning begins with student names. After all,  what is more important to them than their own name? Be sure to stay with us until the end of this post for a free download to make this book!

    We start this project with a little fine motor practice at the art table.  Students learn how to hold scissors and cut on a line.  We then take cutting a step further and students learn to snip the  strips of paper they just cut.

    Glue sponges are next on the list of early lessons.  Glue sponges are a life saver in my pre-k classroom!  You can google glue sponges for your pick of how to videos and posts. Students then put one piece of paper at a time on the glue sponges, tap it lightly and add it to their letter that has been written on a quarter sheet of construction paper prior to the activity.

    We, as in my para or I, then take the letter after it dries and cut around the letter leaving a small border of the colored construction paper.  We add the letter to the sentence frame and laminate the pages along with a cover and back page. I also added a picture name tag so my students have a little extra help reading the names at the beginning of the year! You can read more about picture name tags when you are done HERE.

    If you have are still hanging here be sure to grab this FREE download so you can make your own Name Book HERE. I have added another cover option that has the title, The Name Book. I think next year that is what I will go with!

    Be sure to pin this post for easy reference to this freebie! You can follow me on Social Media too!  Check out the links at the top of this post!

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    Mrs. Wathen

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