Image Map

Penguin Fun!

Hi friends, it's Amanda here from Mrs. Pauley's Kindergarten with you today!  I wanted to share with you today some of my favorite penguin activities to do with primary students.

It seems like every time I talk about the unit we are working on I always say, "This is my favorite unit to teach!"  I love a lot of the thematic units I teach in my classroom, but I really love teaching about penguins.  

The first activity is something we do outside.  We talk about how the penguins in the rookery huddle together to stay warm.  Then we go outside and put it into practice.

First, we stand all by ourselves and then huddle together and see if we are any warmer than before.  I snapped this cute pic of all my kiddos huddling together.  Best part was then today at recess I heard a couple of the kids complaining they were cold and another student said, "Let's huddle together like the penguins then.  That will keep us warm."  And they did and it was adorable!

The second activity I like to do is with oil and water.  I put some water into a gallon baggie and then added some oil.  The students tried their hardest to mix them up together, but they realized that oil and water just don't mix.  We used this experiment to talk about preening and how the oil on the penguins' feathers helps them swim in the water.

It was so fun to see them working so hard on this and trying to figure it out.

I also had the students just dip a finger into the oil by itself to see how it felt.  That way they understand what the penguins feathers feel like.

The last activity I always do on the last day of our unit.  PENGUIN RACES!  It is so much fun.  The kiddos have a blast.

We pretend to be emperor penguins and the students try to get from one side of the carpet to the other with keeping their "egg" on their feet.  I used yarn balls for the "eggs."

Lastly, we had just a plain old penguin waddle relay race.  They thought this was hilarious.

I have some pretty good waddlers in my classroom!  ;)

If you would like to see more ideas like these, you can check out my blog, instagram, or Facebook page.  Have a great rest of your week!

Feature Friday- Kindergarten Down River

Howdy, Friends!
A special Texas welcome to all of those joining me from the Kinder Tribe! I'm Laura from Kindergarten Down River. In this new year, many teachers are looking for exciting ways to keep students engaged in learning as the next semester begins...and some teachers have set goals to move more...also known as, the E-Word: Exercise. This strategy, the Magnet Game, as I have dubbed it, will achieve both goals: engagement for students and movement for teachers and students alike...great for the heart and the brain!
Before you use this simple eight-step strategy, you must have a question you want the students to ponder. In a bit, they will move around the room as they think about their response and then share with a partner in a fun, exciting way!
You can discuss "good movement spots" such as, the rug or walking spaces behind desks and "bad movement spots" such as behind the teacher's desk, the classroom library, computer center, or any other unsafe spots for movement.
When I first teach the movements that corresponds with this cooperative strategy, I use a basic question: "What did you do during Winter Break?" Or, "what was your favorite Christmas gift?" Then, as I use this strategy throughout the year, I use academic questions, "How did Lizard feel at the end of the story?" Or, "explain how you would change the investigation?"
Teacher can turn on music to cue the movement or tell students "Think and Walk." Students should begin moving around the room staying in their own spots as they meander around the room. It is important that when teaching them what to do, you emphasize some basic rules which will save you some stress when implementing this strategy: Stay in your own space, stay quiet, and keep thinking about your answer while you move.
My favorite part: If you...touch somebody, follow your best friends around the room, or talk, the consequence is having to sit out of the game. Muah, muah, muah. No kid wants this to happen!
Teacher Tip: I use a track I have downloaded on my phone. It makes it fast and easy for me to cue the music and the students know that it is special when we have some music.
This allows students the opportunity to look around the classroom without the pressure of partnering up right away.
Students face back-to-back while teacher ensures all students have a partner. It also discourages talking!
Finding their closest partner encourages students to team up with students whom they may not normally chose to talk to which builds relationships in the classroom and promotes risk-taking.
This is a great time for formative assessment. Select students whom you are working closely with and monitor their responses. You may select students with special needs or English language learners. You can assist them in producing responses by giving the students a sentence stem. For example, "Lizard felt __ at the end of the story because ____." My students use their "question hands to repeat the question to their partners; this is just another way for them to engage in practicing the language...learning to speak in complete sentences and use inflection in their voices.
Students ask their partners the question again before composing their answer.
Probably one of the greatest pieces to this game is having the students turn back-to-back. It is great for the teacher to know when the majority of students have finished their conversations, but it also controls the students' urge to talk to one another during this time! Genius, I know!
You can use this step if you want students to practice multiple times with other partners. You could also change the question and start a second round of the game. If you are short on time, you can students return to the rug or their desks and continue learning.
I hope this cooperative learning strategy becomes a part of your teaching toolbox. I'd love to see it in action in your classroom. Take a picture and tag me @kinderdownriver.
Happy Teachin' Trails from Texas!

Alternative Seating in Kindergarten

Wiggly bodies are just part of the day in Kindergarten.  A 5 year old is not built to sit still, or in a chair, or really anywhere for more than a couple of minutes.  To enhance our learning environment we have a variety of options available to keep our room humming!


One of my favorite (cheap) ways to change things up and organize the chaos is by using rugs to create alternative seating in the classroom.  During our reading time, Writer's Workshop, and math centers students always have the option to grab a rug and find a spot in the classroom.  They work on their own or with a partner.  The rug helps contain their materials and gives them a comfy spot to sit. 
I get rugs for free from our local carpet store.  They give me the old samples and I've had pretty good luck finding them when I need them.  A set usually lasts about 2 years.  


I fell in love with crate seating a couple of years ago.  These benches create a perfect little nook in the classroom for a listening station or just a nice place to sit.  They double as extra storage too! 

 I replace the fabric on the chairs each year.  Yes, it has to be done. They are pretty dirty after a whole year of use.  I buy cheap sheets from Walmart to cover them with so the cost is pretty low! 

One Footed Stools

If you have a handy person in your life these are a super alternative to regular seating too!  My dad created these one footed stools for my extra wiggly friends.  I do not suggest using them on tile, but they work great on carpet!

Kore Stools

I really wanted some Kore Stools to add to our alternative seating options in the classroom.  The catch?  They are pricey!  I recently wrote a project for Donor's Choose and it funded in December!  We received our stools last week and my kiddos were really excited to use these at our small group table.  They are fantastic!
Of course we have our usual tables and for the most part about 50% of my students still choose to sit at a table during our independent or partner work time.  Having the option of alternative seating helps with management (they are not all crowded at one table trying to work...less chatter) and it gives my kiddos that would rather lay on their bellies to write the option! 

What are your favorite ways to add alternative seating arrangements in your room?  We would love to hear ideas.  Thank you for visiting Kinder Tribe today!

Feature Friday ~ The Kindergarten Press

Hello, all! I am Carlee Van Ness from The Kindergarten Press. Today I want to share with you some fun and effective strategies I use to teach addition!

I have seen on other blogs that many kindergarten teachers begin teaching addition much earlier in the year. However, at my school, we use the Common Core aligned EnVision Math series (which I LOVE,) and we usually begin addition in January right when we return from winter break.

Along with the interactive videos and work pages that come with our math series, here are some manipulative activities I do to help my kids grasp the concept of addition:

1. Part-Part-Whole

I begin teaching addition with Part-Part-Whole activities using unifix cubes and styrofoam plates broken into two small sections and one big section. The kids really begin to grasp the concept of addition when we take two small groups of unifix cubes (the parts) and then bring them together to make one larger group (the whole.) Once they are able to do this pretty fluently, I begin with a whole group and have them break it into smaller parts so they can see that there is more than one way to get a sum (i.e. 3+2=5; 1+4=5; 5+0=5.)

2. Magnetic Ten Frame Paddles

This year, my school purchased magnetic ten frame paddles and counters for our students through our Title I grant! They are SOOOO fabulous! These are definitely my favorite addition resource. I begin using these by telling the students story problems and having them solve the problems using the ten frames. This activity helps them to visualize the number sentence even before they learn how to write it. I love that they can see the whole number sentence right in front of them simply by looking at the ten frame! I believe our Title I Director purchased ours through EAI Education, but they are also available on Amazon. 

Before we purchased the magnetic paddles, I did things the old school way using ten frames I made myself and laminated along with foam counters. 

3. Writing Number Sentences on Whiteboards

Once the kids have the process of addition down, we move on to writing number sentences on whiteboards as we solve problems using our ten frames. It is so exciting to me to see their little minds figure out such a complex concept!

4. Number Lines

The last addition activity I introduce (which we haven't gotten to yet this year) is Number Line Addition. I give each child a 0-10 number line, and they solve addition story problems by moving a bear manipulative along the number line. They really love this activity, and eventually they use the number lines to solve addition problems using dominoes as math centers!

I hope you find some of these addition teaching strategies useful! If you'd like to see more of what goes on in my classroom, please head on over to my blog or follow me on instagram

Happy Teaching,


Feature Friday: 1/08/16: Adventures in Kindergarten

Hi, I'm Mary from Adventures in Kindergarten.  Thank you, Kinder Tribe, for letting me take over for Feature Friday!  I am here today to talk about how to plan an amazing field trip.

I LOVE field trips.  My little ones get SO excited to go on the trip and always come back knowing so much.  I also kind of sort of think that field trips are hard.  Hello, Stressville!  I am always keeping my fingers crossed that nobody wanders away, climbs into the pig pen at the farm or has an allergic reaction to a furry friend at the petting zoo.

Here are my tips for making field trips as fun and easy as possible for everyone (even the teacher!).

This will vary a lot from school to school depending on your policies.

Funding and Discounts
Many museums or other cultural institutions give free or reduced cost field trips to schools.  Take the time to do some internet searches to find out if any of your local attractions have school discounts.  For example, the New England Aquarium gave my students and chaperones free admission this year in exchange for me participating in a teacher training.  It was fabulous!  Also, a local farm run by the Audobon Society agreed to give my students scholarships, which amounted to a huge discount on admission.  This was huge, and allowed our low income urban school to take a visit to the country.  I would also recommend school based funding resources such as the PTO, or the amazing website DonorsChoose.

Family Payment
After you have priced out your admission cost and busses, determine how much you will need each child to contribute.  Let parents know about cost far in advance.  Even though $5 or $10 does not seem like a lot, some families require advanced planning to set it aside.  My team tried something brand new this year.  Instead of asking for $7 for this field trip or $9 for that one, we asked our families for $25 for the entire year.  I am THRILLED with how it has worked out so far!  You can read more about this and download a freebie of the letter we sent home here.

This is the part that I DREAD!  But I have learned the hard way that filing all of my paperwork early is so much less stressful.  This includes sending home permission slips.  I send them home about two weeks before our trips, which has saved me time that I used to spend calling or emailing parents to remind them about the trip, or scrambling last minute for permission.

Once all of your chaperones have committed, you can strategically plan which children you place with each chaperone.  Of course, any of my trickiest little friends stay with me.

This idea from Sailing into Second is pure genius.  She threw all of the essentials in a ziploc bag and voila!  A complete chaperone kit for everyone.  It even has the schedule for the day and a list of students that each person is in charge of.  I tried this on our farm trip last Spring and just loved it.

This might seem self explanatory, but it is SO important for the safety of the kids and your own peace of mind.

First Aid Kit and Meds
I always stuff a first aid kit and all of my kids EpiPens and inhalers in my trusty backpack.   Of course, always check with your school nurse about which medicine to take.  I also always grab hand sanitizer, kleenex and baby wipes because those always come in handy.

Make a Plan
Create a plan with the other teachers who are going on the trip with you, and be sure to share it with your chaperones.  If anyone was to get seriously injured on a trip, our plan is always to call 911 first, then inform our team.  Personally, I always give the chaperones my cell phone number in case they are separated from the group when an emergency happens.

Safety Necklace
I have used these little puppies since my second year teaching and they have saved me so much worry!  The front of the necklace is a cute sun, and the back has a label on it with the following information: My name and phone number, and our school name, address and phone number.  I train my students that if they get lost or separated, they are to show their necklace to an adult who works at the field trip location.  Thankfully, I have never needed to use it but it gives me so much peace of mind! 

To make the necklace, simply label the back of your sun, laminate it, punch two holes and string through with yarn to create a necklace.  I like to use soft, thick yarn that is plenty long to avoid any "Oops, I strangled myself" incidents.  I also suggest making a few extra because they have a tendency to get lost or damaged on trips.

This is my most favorite part about preparing for a field trip.  I love to teach my kids as much as possible about where we are going and what we will see before we get there.  It is incredible how much more they gain from a field trip when they are already knowledgable about a topic.

Here are a few fun ways that we learned about the ocean before visiting our local aquarium:
I made a YouTube playlist of age appropriate videos about a variety of ocean animals.  We watched a few together on the projector, and then our research groups watched more during center time.  Each group presented facts to the group about the animal they researched. 

Vocabulary is crucial!  I love to use mini word walls in my writing center to help my little ones write independently.  Before our visit, we made predictions about what we would see at the aquarium.  First we did this as a whole class during shared writing, then children completed a writing prompt independently.

After our visit, children wrote about what they actually saw at the aquarium.  This was a fun and engaging way to check our predictions.  It sparked tons of conversation... I just LOVE hearing my little ones use their new vocabulary correctly!  You can find the word walls and writing prompts in my Ocean Words unit.

Take a moment to take it all in and enjoy yourself.

Seriously!  You have worked hard and you are totally allowed to have fun with your kids!  I always take about a gazillion pictures to help us reflect when we get back to school.  This is where my trusty portable phone charger comes in handy.

Happy field tripping!

Adventures In Kindergarten