Friday, June 28, 2013

Blog Lovin'

Thank you Anna Brantley for this supper cute button
Though I do not entirely understand all of this "techie" talk, but apparently as of July 1st Google Reader will no longer work. Instead, to follow your favorite blogs, be sure to find them on Blog Lovin'. I hope you will find us there. As a matter of fact, I hope I will find us there, lol because I am not sure I understand all of the changes coming. :)

Also, be sure to look for us on facebook unde "Pre-Kinder Kiddos".

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Our Classroom Family Rules

A few weeks ago, I posted about how Britton found a great painting of classroom rules on Pinterest. Unfortunately, the picture did not link back to anyone to give credit for the original idea for the "rules" or else I would love to link to their page and give them credit! However, I loved the rules so much that I sought out the SUPER talented Elizabeth of Lima Green Designs to create a personalized version of this to meet our classroom theme of FROGS (Fully Rely on God).

Original Pinterest Find

Photo: I am in love with Lima Green Designs! She took our Pinterest find and personalized it for our own classroom needs. I am so excited to be teaching in a christian preschool where I can openly profess my love for the Lord!

We love our new classroom "Family" rules for our FROGS (Fully Rely on God) themed classroom.
Super Creative "Lima Green Designs" Version for our classroom

                                     I love say the least!


Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I love when teachers share ideas for the benefit of all children! It really does take a village to raise the children in our SCHOOLS, not just the children in our class. And, in truth, aren't ALL children "ours", not just the particular ones that fill the seats within the walls of our classrooms?

All this to say that when I come across units that teachers have shared online I get excited! Whether it is material I purchase through Teachers Pay Teachers or find on a blog...I love seeing how others approach thematic instruction or a certain standard/skill in their class. And, it is especially exciting when a teacher is generous enough to share their unit for free.

Today, in preparing for a"Pirate/Princess" themed Summer Camp, we found two resources with some really good stuff in them! I would like to provide you with the links to their free downloads so if you are looking for some Preschool Pirate activities you can find some resources that have already been created! I will continue to post things we plan and find on Pinterest!

Please visit these two links to download complete Pirate Packets!

This image was found on Pinterest and is available through 2 Teaching Mommies - To download packet, visit their website here.

Here are some other favorites from Pinterest:

This image was found on Pinterest (linked back to

Here are some wonderful princess resources, including these great ideas from her ( website:

Please visit their website to download a great "Princess Packet"



Also, be sure to watch this youtube video: Backyardigans Singing A Pirate Says Arr  Then, visit Nick Jr to find free pirate printables of the Backyardian "Pirates"!

I cut them out and taped them to wooden sticks for our preschoolers to use.

                    Then, I preassembled the supplies for the little ones to make their own pirate ship.

Thanks to this blog for sharing the idea of the pirate ship and the Backyardigans!! Another great resource for Pirate planning can be found on Speech Room News.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Over Rover, Up Pup!

I have decided to venture out into the world of Teachers Pay Teachers with my first product listed for sale! After my first few years of teaching, I began to understand the importance of teaching calendar skills beyond days of the week and months of the year! I love teaching the calendar because there are so many different skills that can be taught through it! Many different tools and picture cards have been used in classrooms across school districts to help capture children's attention and engage their learning with the calendar. 

One particular method seems to really work with the students I have taught when it comes to teaching beyond days of the week and months of the year. An incredible second grade teacher in our district introduced me to Rover. Up Pup, Over Rover changed the way I taught calendar math each day! 

In my classroom, I have created my own version of Rover and the instructional cards I use with my students. I used this teaching strategy with second graders and will be using it for the first time this year with Pre-K 3 year olds. I will not use it with the intention of mastery but with the hope that it will engage the high flyers and begin to expose the children who are ready for it. I may discover that it needs to be modified a bit more for the younger learners but I'm willing to give it a try! I believe underestimating students can be the biggest limitation we put on them! So, we are going to give it a try with three year olds! Rover, get ready, it's time to run all over the calendar as we learn days of the week, months of the year and even coordinate points in preschool!! 


 To learn more about this packet, please visit my TPT store, here. Also, if you do decide to download this packet please let me know your thoughts through feedback. Here are some well known preschool calendar songs that I thought I'd share from YouTube: 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Discovery Place Kids in Rockingham, NC

The kids and I took a weekend road trip to visit family in Pinehurst, North Carolina. Between my family and my sister in law, Hayley's family, we have 5 boys under the age of 5!  The weekend was filled with activities to wear out little ones! One of our favorites was this gem - a museum in Rockingham, North Carolina.  Discovery Place KIDS is incredible! On this particular day we had the 5 boys and Hayley's two nieces. This museum was a treat for all ages in on our mini road trip from 17 months -9 years old!

I was as captivated as the kids were! Discovery Place KIDS is truly magical! The museum is split on two floors. The main floor showcased "The Rock"(Rockingham's Speedway)  by creating a pit stop where the kiddos could change tires, pump gas, and work on a Nascar-like  race car. The boys (of all ages) had tons of giggling fun doing what boys love to do- taking things apart and trying to put them back together!

Luke, Grant, Reid and Noah were hard at work!

I loved the creativity and thought that went into this exhibit! No detail was left out. All of the boys had a turn sliding under the car and working with the drill. They loved it! Many thanks to Therese for helping them all! Therese is working with Hayley's family as an Au Pair from Germany. She is a blessing!

Therese,  Hayley and her boys!

The museum is divided into 5 Themes based on the central concept of "I CAN". The themes of the museum are:
I CAN be Anything
I CAN be Healthy
I CAN Grow
I CAN Imagine
I CAN Wonder Why

The museum describes these different sections as:
I Can Be Anything: Role Play firefighters, chefs, veterinarians, farmers and more!

I Can Be Healthy: Get your heart pumping as you crawl through a treehouse, build a fort and paddle a canoe.

I Can Grow:(birth-36 months) Calling all itty bitties to develop curiosity, take risks, become persistent, imagine and explore.

I Can Imagine: Build with blocks, star in your own video or create a masterpiece in our Studio. Go with the flow or against the current at the air tubes and water table.

I Can Wonder Why: Test, explore and experiment with hands-on contraptions and real world science. 

The Rockingham Fire Department was another huge hit! The kids firemen bravely fought the fire by shooting big squishy balls through the burning windows!

The girls quickly found the Veterinarian's office and the Fresh Market. The boys later discovered them after fighting fires and changing tires!

The best part of the museum, for me, was watching the adults pretend, imagine and play with their children! That was part of the magic of the museum! It truly created a developmentally appropriate atmosphere with such a stimulating environment for the brain to blast off into the very limits of the imagination!

Aunt Hayley with her son Reid and nieces, Clair and Chloe. Together they work to create a circuit board!

The design and layout of the museum showed an extreme understanding of young children and families. In addition to family restrooms, there was a place for families to sit together and enjoy a picnic lunch or watch a puppet show!

 In the toddler area, only babies birth-36 months could play. It was a wonderful, safe environment for the youngest learners to safely explore independently or with a parent!

After exploring the main floor for several hours, we took a short walk down the road and enjoyed lunch at a local cafe! It was delicious and served as a nice rest for all! After lunch, we explored the lower level of the museum. 

Here you could build a tower, create a masterpiece or construct a super-soaring paper airplane.

Zach, opted to spend most of his time figuring out new and creative ways to soak his clothes in the water room! But, children of all ages really enjoyed playing in the water, as well!

 Here, the twins, Grant and Luke, are on a canoe trip in the great outdoors! In this section of the museum, the kids could swing from vines, paddle the canoe, climb through the "woods" or build a fort!

 This was the "heart" of the museum! Here we learned how we can stay healthy through play! We also enjoyed playing with the flow of air. We laughed and laughed as the air quickly sucked in and spit out soft balls and scarfs through the tubes.

Where are your favorite places to go with the kids? What cities near you have incredible children's museums or local favorites for the little ones?! We'd love to know! Leave a comment and let us know! And, remember, if you are ever in Rockingham, NC, there is a wonderful children's museum that you can't miss!

For more information about the Discovery Place Kids, please visit their website at

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Online Resources

My sister in law tagged this on  her facebook page and I thought it was a good list of sites! In our house we are BIG fans of Noah started learning how to use the computer around the age of 2. We would sit together and listen to the stories on of the ABC's. Now, at 4, he enjoys independently exploring the site. We still spend a lot of time on the site together but he really enjoys exploring it on his own, as well. For a small fee you can buy *more star fall* as a year long subscription for your home. I am looking forward to check out some of these other sites that I have not explored before! Leave a comment with your favorite website to use with young children!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Imitation is the Best Form of Flattery

This year my oldest son Noah had the most incredible dynamic duo as teachers! Mrs. Susan Kenny and Mrs. April Gordon created a truly magical 3 year old preschool learning environment, as so many of the teachers do at the preschool my children attend! Not only were they talented teachers, but they were passionate about their job as educators and extremely loving toward the children.  As a parent, who is also an educator, it was a blessing for me to see education at its finest! It was so special for me to see my son thrilled to go to school each day. Moreover, I was exuberant to see time and time again the level of excellence displayed by his teachers. They were truly inspirational and have influenced me as a parent and as a teacher.

Young learners are great at imitating others! For example, my youngest son, Zach (1 1/2), is quickly trying to do all of the things his four year old brother is doing!

 In college while seeking my degree in education, we spent a lot of time in class talking about "modeling" expectations for our students. But, honestly, I do not remember a big emphasis in school on finding exceptional models as educators to imitate! It was surely implied, of course, especially during student teaching. However, I think it is good to talk about it! Teachers learn from teachers!

As I return to the classroom after two years at home with my children, I am excited to have exceptional educators to imitate! I began my career in 1st grade in 2004. Then, moved to second grade in 2007 until    deciding to stay at home with our children in 2011.

 In my second grade classrooms, I sent home a weekly newsletter with homework, spelling words and a short paragraph of current classroom events and news. I am working to develop my weekly newsletter template for next year but am thrilled to have Mrs. Kenny's as a guide! As a parent this year, I was so impressed with the creativity through Arts and Crafts that Mrs. Kenny and Mrs. April did with the children! I kept many of the crafts that came home with Noah to hopefully use with my own classroom next year.

Above: Planning for Next Year! Be sure to visit Kim Adsit's store and Cara Carroll of The First Grade Parade Teacher's Pay Teacher's Store. Cara has incredible Agenda pieces for FREE! Kim has a lot of great activities for free, as well.

As I begin to prepare to go back into the classroom, I am thankful for model teachers who have laid some ground work for me to imitate! As an educator, I am thankful for other educators who are willing to collaborate and teach others for the good of all teachers and all children.

This Spring, after I committed to going back to the classroom, we had a training seminar that was done by the incredibly talented Kim Adsit of KinderGals. Kindergarten oozes out of her!  Noah's teacher, Mrs. Kenny, followed Kim's KinderGals blog and implemented many of Kim's teaching techniques in her own classroom. Those techniques impacted my son's learning which has influenced my planning as an educator...which I hope will soon impact the learning of my students. Thank you Kim for being a model teacher!

Much in the same way, I hope to continue to share my own ideas and inspiration through this blog and Teachers Pay Teachers. All this to say, we have so much to offer each other and we have so much to learn from one another.

Feeling inspired, 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Begin with the End in MInd

As the final bell rings this school year, many teachers are already thinking about next year! And...let's be honest, many teachers are breathing a huge sigh of relief for some much need and well deserved personal time or family time!!! Or just time to do whatever, go to the bathroom, eat lunch or sit down!

For me, I have had the incredible opportunity to have the last two years as a stay at home mom with my sons! It has been a blessing that I will always cherish. But, over the last several months I felt a stirring in my heart to return to the classroom in a way that allowed me to balance my love and passion for teaching as well as my family.

I remember my first year teaching in the public school. Just out of college filled with excitement and passion for doing fun and "cute" activities with the children. Of course, we would learn, play and have so much fun together! Well, we did those things...but I am not sure I fully understood the end of the year expectations and how to reach those goals with measurable, meaningful work.

As my parents helped me move into my first classroom just out of college,  my dad asked me for old time sake, if he could capture me with my "first students" that I began teaching so long ago as a child. :)

Moving into my first classroom in 2004

Over time (and tears) I began to learn how to merge passion, innovation, and creativity through creating standards based  activities, games and lessons with measurable results. The only way to achieve this balance is to know that planning has to START with the END in mind. Also, that planning is not only curriculum and instruction but, it is also creating an environment conducive to learning through integrated thematic instruction and classroom layout and design. No teacher is perfect at all of these things but I do believe that great teachers are always striving to do these things better each year.  That is my hope. I won't ever be perfect but I hope to always be getting better! As the saying goes, "When you know better, do better."

Clip Art found:

As I approach this new adventure in private preschool with little 3 year old kiddos, I have started to seek out resources that will guide our curriculum and instruction. It would be an easy temptation to approach this part time teaching position with the mind set of "what will be fun?" or "Is this a cute activity?". But the truth is "cute" without purpose and/or meaning doesn't create dendrite formation! Children's' brains need developmentally appropriate, purposed activities and lessons to stimulate brain growth and synapses!

Unfortunately, while some view preschool years as simply child care, it is among the most critical and formative years for brain growth and stimulation of new synapses between axons and dendrites in the brain! Here is a abbreviated "brain research" summary through a clever song found on this website.

Picture from:

                                   "The Dendrite Song"
(sung to the tune of "Clementine" sent in by Leah B., a graduate student in elementary education at Long Island Univ. Leah gives credit to Bruce Campbell for composing this song.)

Use your dendrites,
Use your dendrites,
To connect throughout your brain.
Take in info, analyze it,
Grow some new ones
Axons send out
To the dendrites all around
Across the synapse
Jumps the impulse
New ideas can now abound.
Is what the brain needs
To make dendrites stretch and grow.
New connections
Make us smarter
In what we think and what we know.
Use your dendrites,
Use your dendrites,
To connect throughout your brain
Take in info, analyze it,
Grow some new ones
All this to be said, where do we begin? In my research, I have found that specific pre-k standards are a little more difficult to find!  That being said, I was thankful to come across the Good Start, Grow Smart South Carolina Early Learning Standards for 3,4 and 5 year olds. On the Official website of the State of South Carolina, teachers can easily download a 124 page document filled with very clear and detailed learning expectations and standards. The document includes well organized, purpose driven, age appropriate learning standards.

The document is organized by:
 Introduction and Purpose
Approaches to Learning
Social and Emotional Development
English, Language Arts and Literacy
Physical Education and Health

Though this free document is going to exhaust your ink cartridges, it is worth it! I am in the midst of creating my standards binder which will hold my "Good Start, Grow Smart" standards as well as my rubric to show measurable results. Though this is not required at the preschool where I teach,  it is a teaching tool for me. These standards create a road map for my year long curriculum.  The standards will guide my planning and preparations to make the most of the activities we do! 

In addition to the standards document for the State of South Carolina, I wanted to see what other preschool teachers are using to assess their students' learning. On Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT), I found a free resource that can be used in and of itself or as a guide to create a standards based assessment for your own classroom. Teacher contributor, Jessica Rosace from North Providence, Rhode Island created a great FREE resource to assess your students' learning. Please visit her TPT store, through the above link to download your own copy. Another great preschool progress report is listed on TPT at by teacher contributor, Caylee Amott from Ft. Collins, Colorado. It is another great FREE resource to begin planning your next school year! For your free download, please visit Caylee's store here.

When I finish putting together my standards binder, I will try to upload a few pictures of it. Although this seems like an awful lot of work, it is not wasted. What is wasted is precious time spent on "cute" activities that are not purpose driven towards creating developmentally appropriate learning experiences that will continue to create synapses in the growing minds of these precious little children we are so fortunate to teach!

PS. I came across a interesting lecture (23 minutes) on brain research on this website,you can listen to the lecture online if you would like by visiting this link. 

                                                                                                    Until next time,


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Our Family Rules

Britton recently found this on Pinterest and sent it to me! I instantly fell in love with these short and concise classroom rules that have Biblical application!  After spending seven years in first and second grade as "thee teacher", I am beyond excited to now have "WE". We, Brittan and I, will be co-teaching together in what I hope will be the start of many years!