August 24, 2011

Early Childhood Tips and Tricks

It's been a busy week at home & school. If you are on Facebook, consider joining "Early Childhood Tips and Tricks". It's not a place to be negative and gripe. It is a place to share ideas. You do not have to a member to look BUT if you are looking- you might as well share your ideas, too!

August 20, 2011

Water Table Shape Match

This is a simple shape match that works well in your water table.
Get a clean foam tray (many grocery stores will give them to you free!). Cut shapes out of craft foam. Use a permanent marker to trace the shapes onto the foam tray. Place in the water table and let the kids put the shapes in the correct place on the foam tray.
It's fun, it's easy, it's learning!

August 19, 2011

Friday Funny: Troubleshooting Mom's Computer

I'm going to start lightening things up and offer a Friday Funny! Things seem to be stressful on Thursdays so I am going to brighten up your Friday morning with things that make me smile.
* Note some of these will not be related to education but hey- we have lives outside of teaching! :)
This one is dedicated to my husband. Not only did he have to replace my hard drive after my one-year-old dropped my laptop on the ground, he also worked on my mom's computer!

August 18, 2011

Syllable Count Graph

Create a graph to show how many syllables are in each child's name. After lots of practice clapping and counting syllables, give each child a hand shape. Have child write his or her name on the hand. Write the numbers 1-4 on hands and glue them at the bottom of a poster board. Each child tapes or glues their hand in the column with the correct number of syllables. The graph will be a springboard for counting and math discussion about "most", "more than" "least", "less than," and "equal".

August 17, 2011

Duck Shape Match

Your kids will "quack up" when they play this game! Purchase several rubber ducks. (You can get different styles through Oriental Trading or at your local dollar store.) Use a permanent marker to draw matching shapes on pairs of ducks. Place in the water table. Children chose two ducks to try to find a match. What a fun way to practice shape recognition!

August 16, 2011

Five Green and Speckled Frogs Prop

Use green trivets from the Dollar Tree (2 small ones for $1 or one large one for $1) to make these cute frog props. Fold a trivet in half and hot glue int he corners. Cut an oval out of green craft foam, a smaller one of white foam and an even smaller one of black foam. Hot glue to make eyes. Cut a strip of red and glue in for a tongue. These are perfect for acting out 5 Green and Speckled Frogs!

August 15, 2011

Alphabet (and Number) Strips

This is an easy-t0-make resource that will put letters and numbers right at the kid's fingertips. Place an alphabet sticker line (the kind that that you can put on desks) and a number sticker line on each side of a sentence strip. Make enough for each child in the class. Laminate for durability. Now when a child asks what a "J" looks like, encourage them to get an alphabet strip. They can point to each letter as they sing the ABC song to find the correct letter. It's a great way to teach them to use their resources.

August 14, 2011

Making Tracks

This is an oldie but a goodie! Run toy cars through paint to "make tracks". Look for toy cars, trucks, and other vehicles that have interesting tire patterns. Use a large sheet of bulletin board paper with dump trucks outside. It's quick! It's fun! It's art!

August 13, 2011


Have you discovered Pinterest? Get ready to be addicted! Pinterest ( is a virtual bulletin board that allows you to organize photos, websites, blogs, etc. that you find on the internet. You can use it for styles, home decor, or planning special events. I use it (mostly) for ideas for my classroom. The cool part is that you can browse through other people's bulletin boards and repin their ideas. You can create several (unlimited???) boards so that you are actually able to find what you need.
Pinterest is currently an invitation only site. If you need an invitation, I am a member. Let me know in your comments below. Also, please share your favorite ways to use Pinterest!
Happy Pinning!

August 12, 2011

Nursery Rhyme Quiz

Let's try this again! How well do you know your nursery rhymes? NO GOOGLING ALLOWED!
1) Who went up the hill?
2) Who called for his pipe, bowl, and fiddler's three?
3) Who received the tree bags of wool?
4) Who lost her sheep?
5) What was growing in Mary's garden?
6) What did Mother Hubbard give to her doggie?
7) What time did the mouse fall down the clock>
8) Where did Little Boy Blue sleep?
9) Who tried to put Humpty Dumpty together again?
10) What were the occupations of the three men in the tub?

August 11, 2011

Mini Cereal Box Book

Environmental print is the print all around us. It is usually the first print that young children can read, such as Wal-Mart or McDonalds. Children are naturally interested in this print so it is a great motivator for colors, shapes, letters, numbers, words, etc. Environmental print is easy and cheap (if not FREE) to collect!
I created a cereal box book. I used mini boxes of cereal. After eating the cereal (my son was super excited about this step!), I cut the front face off the boxes. I simply laminated them and bound them on the side.
Quick, easy, and very interesting to young children!

August 10, 2011

Teacher Mailboxes

My students are constantly making drawings, paintings, cards, and letters for me and my assistant. We needed a place to put these treasures so they did not sit in a pile & clutter up the room. I decided to make a set of teacher mailboxes.
I started with an old wooden letter holder (Hello, 1970's!!!) that my mom gave me. I cut tan cardstock into a circle and two rectangles. I used letter stamps and brown ink to print the word "mail" and our names on the cardstock. Then I attached the cardstock with heavy double sided craft tape.
It's perfect to go in the writing center or next to the student's mailboxes! And it is a way to "upcycle" something that might have been otherwise thrown away.

August 9, 2011

Border Book

Make a simple book out of bulletin board borders. This one is to teach the colors. It was super easy to make! I cut the border, laminated it, and bound it into a little book. It's perfect for little hands and one of my students' favorite books. You can make multiples for beginning of the year guided reading. There are many cute borders and you can even find them at the dollar store! Cheap and easy reading fun!

August 8, 2011

Salad Spinner Art

Looking for a fun way to paint without a brush? Try salad spinner art! You can get a salad spinner in the kitchen section of the discount store. Try to find one without holes in the bottom. Otherwise, the paint will leak out. If you have to get one with holes, make sure to put it on a tray! I use mini paper plates. They fit inside and I don't have to cut paper. You can let the kids use spoons or small squeeze bottles to put on the place. Encourage younger children to work with a partner. One to hold the salad spinner and one to spin. The plates turn out great! My salad spinner has spent a lot of time in a hot car going to workshops so it is a bit warped and all of the paint goes to one side. My students still like it and yours will, too!

August 7, 2011

Hip hip hooray!

Hip hip hooray! I found out that I have been accepted to OU-Tulsa's new Early Childhood Doctorate Program!!! I will start in a few weeks. Boomer! Sooner!

Howdy Book

Howdy, Friends! That's cowboy and cowgirl talk for "hello". That's what I teach my urban Pre-K students. I create a book with the students' name and photos. Glue a boot clip art or die cut to each page. (You need one per child plus one for the front cover.) Type and glue "Howdy, ____" at the bottom of each page. Type and glue "Howdy, Friends" & "featuring (Your name)'s (grade) class" to the front cover. Laminate and bind book. Velcro in photos and use an overhead marker to write the name. The book is ready to read! Pass out the photos and have children put it on the correct page as you read. Your students will say howdy to learning!

August 6, 2011

Party Math

This is an easy way to reuse extra birthday party decorations. I cut apart a Toy Story Banner from my son's 4th birthday. (He just turned 15 so I have had this game a while!) Tape numbers on the bottom. Use a theme appropriate manipulative for the children to count out the correct number. It's a fun way to practice making sets and reuse material that would otherwise be thrown away.

August 5, 2011

ABC Photo Book

This book is so easy to make but since the kids are the stars they will LOVE it! Place alphabet stickers in the bottom corner of index cards. Laminate and bind into a book. Tape in photos of the children under the appropriate letter. What an appropriate way to connect the children's names to the letters of the alphabet. It's learning with meaning!

August 4, 2011

Paper Strip Sculptures

This is an easy first of the year art project that my friend Janet showed me. (Thanks, Janet!) Cut strips of paper out of construction paper. Put out tape or glue and let the kids build. Encourage them to weave the pieces and make it more three dimensional. It's quick! It's easy! It's fun!

August 3, 2011

Kid Number Roll

This is a simple game that is perfect for the Math Center. I cut the kid pics out of a strip of bulletin border. (* Hint: Look in the sale room of the local teacher store or at the Dollar Tree for cheap border!) Then I wrote a numeral on the front of each child's shirt. After gluing it on a piece of construction paper, I wrote the number word under each child. Laminate and the game is done!
Roll one die and place a bingo chip, glass gem, counter, or other manipulative on the correct number. Keep rolling until all kids/numbers are covered.
Looking for ways to extend the game? Make the children wear the numbers 1-12 and use two dice. OR if you have more time, play the "never ending" version. The first time you roll a number, put a manipulative on. The next time the number comes up, take the manipulative off. Keep rolling until all the kids/numbers are covered.

August 2, 2011

Can You Find the Letter?

Can you find the letters? Your kids can with this fun big book and pointers!
The big book is easy. Type and print the words (below). Glue one set to each page. Laminate the words and several different die cut letters. Velcro the die cut letters into the book. As you sing the song, take off the letter and hand it to the child. Ask them to find that letter in the classroom.
Can You Find The Letter? (tune to "The Muffin Man")
Can you find the letter ___?
The letter ___?
The letter ___?
Can you find the letter ___?
Somewhere in our room
Build literacy even more by creating fun pointers. Child Care Land ( has a fun idea for using bathtub toys and sequins to make letter pointers. (You can also use a foam letter puzzle!) OR take inexpensive magnifying glasses (think Dollar Tree or Oriental Trading) and write a letter on each. Let the kids use these pointers to find letters throughout the room.
Cheap, easy, and full of literacy!

August 1, 2011

Homemade Tackle Box and Fishing Bobber Game

You can make this SUPER CUTE fishing game using an egg carton, pipe cleaners, and fishing bobbers. Start by getting a cardboard egg carton. Tie two pipe cleaners to create handles. Now you have a tacklebox. Write a number 1-12 on each of the fishing bobbers. Write the corresponding numbers in each section of the egg carton. You can also use letters or letters. What other ideas do you have? Post below!

July 31, 2011

Say Cheese Book

This book is a favorite all year long! Laminate these cute camera accents. (You can get them at your local teacher store.) Write the title, "Say Cheese", on the lens of one camera. Use a circle cutter to cut lenses out of the others. Tape a child's photo on the back of the camera. Bind the cameras at the top. I used paper reinforcers and metal rings. Flip through the book and read the words "Say cheese, (child's name)." Its a great way to help children recognize one another.

July 30, 2011

Parking Lot Math

This is a simple way to encourage math (or other curriculum areas) in the Block Center. Create a parking lot using a vinyl placemat. Use a ruler to make 8-10 parking spaces. Tape a different color of circle in each space. When the children are done playing with the cars at the Block Center, have them park them in the appropriate spot. If colors are too easy for your kids, write capital letters on the hoods of the cars and the corresponding lower case letters. Or try numerals and dots. Have other ideas? Share in the comment section below!

July 29, 2011

Magnetic Name Match

Here's an oldie but a goodie! Get a cookie sheet that is magnetic. Tape each child's name to the cookie sheet. Laminate each child's photograph and hot glue a magnet on the back. The children match the photo to the name. I start with the names in alphabetical order (the same as our name wall). Then I retape the names in columns with girls on one side and boys on the other side. Finally, I put them in random order. You can also add magnetic letters and let the children find the first letter in their names.

July 28, 2011

Center Basics

I get asked how I do centers in my classroom. I do not have a center rotation. First, I can not keep up with a rotation chart. What if little Sally is gone one day? Does she stay at the same center or does she not get to play at that center until the next week? Also, what if the child doesn't want to play at a certain center? If forced to, will they really be learning? I have a center chart. You will notice there is population control, or a limit to the number of children at each center. Otherwise, it is free choice. The kids can pick what center they go to and change as many times as they want during center time. The first week or so is hard- the kids want to change centers every few minutes. However, the novelty of switching centers wears off. I use actual photos of the centers so the kids know exactly where they are going. Last year, the centers/number of children were: Computer Center (2), Water Table (2), Sensory Table (2), Art Easel (2), Art Center (4), Puzzles & Games (4), Block Center (4), Pretend Center (3), Writing Center (4), and Reading Center (3). I have been moving my classroom around so the numbers might change a bit. The types of centers will be the same.

July 27, 2011

People Blocks

I am a crafter. (Although these days I don't have much time to do it so I am more of a craft supply collector!) I do stamping but I use unmounted stamps on acrylic blocks. When I order from some stamp companies, they send wooden blocks for the stamps. I hated to just throw them away. So I taped my kids' photos on the front. Now they each have their own block for the Block Center. At the end of each year, I can untape the photo and use it again.
In the blocks on the right, there is a drawn one. This is the one my kids had me create one for Baby Sylvia while I was pregnant. :)

July 26, 2011

Alphabet Crayons

I got some cool silicone trays to make alphabet crayons. After peeling the label off of a TON of crayons, I placed them in the trays (you can order them off Amazon). I decided to do multicolored crayons so I mixed them. I put them in the oven on 270 degrees for about 20 minutes. After letting them completely harden, I popped them out. Fun!
I have other shaped of trays to try- hearts, shells, animals, palm trees, & ducks. I can't wait!

July 25, 2011

Visual Agenda

Letting the kids know what will be happening each day is important in early childhood classrooms! In my school, we are required to post an agenda. To make it meaningful (and appropriate) for my Pre-K students, I create a visual agenda. On the 1st day of school, I take pictures of the kids doing everything- eating breakfast, sitting at group time, playing outside, etc. I create a "collage photo" for each of the parts of our day. You can order these for 29 cents at Walgreens. And you get to pick them up in about an hour! I post the pictures in a somewhat circular fashion at the kids' eye level. In my case, this is on the front of the big book stand. It's a meaningful way for the kids to see our day!

July 24, 2011

Child Care Land

Have you discovered Child Care Land ( If you haven't, you are missing out! They some great ideas and best of all, you can print some of them for free! I'm not talking about worksheets (if you know me you know my feelings on worksheets in early childhood). There are printables that the children can manipulate! You can print the letter squares, laminate, punch holes, and put them out with links- you know the ones that kids use to make handcuffs & lassos! Let the kids link letters, spell their names, or make sight words. Post your ideas below!

July 23, 2011

Little Red Box

My kids have always loved the Little Red Box song! I have sang it for years but it is also on Dr. Jean's CD, Silly Songs.
I decided to take it to the next level and add photos. I purchased the box in the party supply section at the Dollar Tree. (I love that store!) I put the kids photos in the box (these are their old center tags) and VIOLA! A perfect visual for their favorite song. Simply pull out a child's photo as you are singing the song and the kids will join right in. It is a great song and makes a good transition to centers, to line up, etc.

If you don't know the song, it goes like this...
If I had a little red box to put my (child's name) in.
I'd take him/her out and (kiss, kiss, kiss) and put him/her back again!

July 21, 2011

ABC Rocks

Sorry that I have neglected my blog! It has been busy with the kids' birthdays both in July and getting things ready for back to school. I promised to post my version of the alphabet rocks and here they are!
I wish I would have gotten bigger letters but the rocks and stickers are cheap enough to make more. I am going to make some with photos of my students to add to the block center. The kids LOVE anything with their photos!

June 30, 2011

I started prepping for some school projects today. Last week, one of my OU girls brought me a laundry basket full of drift wood. (Thanks, Holly!) It has inspired me to add more natural elements to my classroom. I picked up some river rocks from the Dollar Tree to create a rock alphabet.
I saw the idea on Sally Fowler-Haughey's blog, Fairy Dust Teaching. (If you do not subscribe to follow Sally's blog, do it! It is located at This is the picture from her blog. I will post my own pics when I make them next week.
I hope her blog inspires you as much as it inspires me!

June 29, 2011

Welcome to Kinder Friends Learning!

Welcome to Kinder Friends Learning! Kinder Friends Learning is an online resource for early childhood educators and families. This is not my first attempt at sharing on the internet. I have had my own website since I began teaching in 1999. The most recent, Kinder Friends, had information about my classroom and had lots of great ideas. However, during the last few years, family, work, and school have kept me busy. Rather than spend time updated a very out-of-date website, I decided to start fresh!
The plan is to keep the Kinder Friends website ( online for a few more months so that people can save the ideas. My focus, however, will be on the new blog, Kinder Friends Learning. As I prepare for a new school year, I will post what I am doing. Throughout the school year, I will continue to update what is happening in the classroom. I encourage you to sign up to follow the blog. I anticipate a LOT of great ideas!
I appreciate your support in this exciting endeavour!