Wednesday, February 27, 2013


This week I came to the realization that I am done with winter. I'm tired of cold, snow, wind, ice, sleet, and gray skies.  So I began a personal crusade in my classroom to get rid of every wintery image. Snowflakes, snowmen, blue decor, everything - GONE. My new mantra has become "if you decorate it, spring will come. Rainbows have become my official classroom symbol for all of the warmth, sunshine, and brightness that I am looking forward to. My kinders are on board with this plan as well.

Our first step toward inviting Spring weather: Rainbow window decorations made from simple supplies of clear contact paper, tissue paper, and construction paper.
"stained glass" window decorations made from tissue paper and contact paper

Rainbow window decorations made from contact paper and tissue paper


Like all previous classroom stained glass decorations, my students did nearly all of the work themselves. I simply had to prep the materials ahead of time. 

Here's what you need to begin: 
Black construction paper frames that are 7.5x9.5" with a .5" border (one per student)
Black strips of .5" construction paper that are 12" long (5 per student)
Clear contact paper sheets, approximately 9x11" (2 per student)
LOTS of 1" squares of tissue paper in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple
(I separated these into warm colors and cool colors to keep it simple for my students)


Choose a time when students are away from their desks. Place one piece of peeled contact paper sticky side up on each child's desk. Add a black frame into the center of each piece of contact paper and use a white crayon to record each child's name on his/her frame. (I did the writing for my students... kinders are not very talented at keeping their hands off the sticky paper while they write). I set everything up while my students were at music class - this made my life SO much easier!

Outline the Rainbow

Before we could add pretty colors, each child needed to create the outline of a rainbow. We did this task step-by-step and EVERY SINGLE ONE of my students was able to successfully create an outline with these three simple steps. 

Step 1: Place a paper strip in the center of the frame, tilted diagonally. Not vertical. Not horizontal. And not touching any of the corners. Just a little bit diagonal. 

Instructions for making "stained glass" rainbows with tissue paper

Step 2: Place two paper strips in the top section of the frame. Space them out and don't let them criss-cross the first strip. (I used this opportunity to teach my students the word "parallel." They loved learning a big new word.) 

Step 3: Place two more paper strips in the bottom section of the frame. Don't let them cross any of the other strips. (Another great moment to use the word "parallel!")

Add a Rainbow of Colors

From here, it was smooth sailing. I quickly informed my class that the colors in a rainbow have a special order. I wrote ROYGBV vertically on the classroom whiteboard and demonstrated how to fill in my own rainbow's spaces with tissue paper in the special color order. No additional explanation was needed. My students instantly began to create!

Rainbow window decorations made from contact paper and tissue paper
Once the tissue paper rainbow was complete, I placed a second sheet of contact paper sticky side down on top of the project to make a "rainbow sandwich". Each child used scissors to trim the excess plastic from the edges of their rainbows. 

Vibrant "Stained Glass" Window Decorations

I love how bright and springy these finished "stained glass" windows look in my classroom. There may be snow on the ground right now, but at least I can live in denial and think warm, sunny thoughts while I admire the view from my classroom. 

Rainbow window decorations made from contact paper and tissue paper

Rainbow Skip Counting

The rainbow fun didn't stop with our window decorations... It was the perfect opportunity to integrate a little math into our Springy day. We have working on skip counting in my classroom. My students have nearly mastered the skill of counting by tens, but counting by fives has proven to be more of a challenge. A 100s chart is always a helpful tool for discovering number relationships, but there are SOOO many numbers, it's easy for young children to lose their place on the chart. I created a Rainbow Skip Counting set to provide a visual guide and help students keep track of their place on 100s charts while they count. My students LOVE the idea of rainbow writing numbers and this has proven to be a very helpful classroom resource. 
Rainbow Skip Counting - a motivating way to learn an essential skill

Rainbow Skip Counting, $4
Rainbow Skip Counting can be purchased on Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook for $4.00. The complete set includes pieces to construct full-color large classroom charts, full-color student charts, and student recording sheets (complete resources for counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s). 

Here's hoping that my classroom rainbow crusade helps beat those winter blues...

Monday, February 25, 2013

I Think I May be Addicted

Hi, my name is Maria and I am addicted to cute classroom supplies. 

This weekend I stopped at Target to pick up a few essentials. On my way through the door, I did my usual quick trip through the dollar section. That's when I found these ADORABLE tins that match my classroom colors. For $1 each! Can you believe it?!?! My tape dispensers just made three new friends. 
cute tins for the classroom from the Target dollar section. LOVE!

Seriously, though.
They should make twelve-step programs for people like me.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sharing Lenten Love with Good Deeds

The Lenten season is well underway and my students have been preparing their hearts for Easter by doing Good Deeds. Their acts of kindness happen at home and at school and I have a great FREE resource to help you encourage Good Deeds within your own classroom.

At the beginning of Lent, we discuss the season, what it means, some Lenten symbols, and ways that we can remember Jesus and share his love during this time. I tell the class that we are going to do Good Deeds as our Lenten offering. Each child also receives a Good Deeds chart. The chart show the image of a large, colorless stained glass window with empty spaces. Each time a child performs a Good Deed, he or she colors a space on the chart. When Easter finally arrives, the completed chart shows a bright range of color that represents all of their Lenten acts of love.
FREE Lenten Good Deeds chart

General Guidelines for the Doing of Good Deeds

Of course, you know as well as I that children need guidelines before they begin any new activity. Here are a few of the rules I describe for my students as they prepare to share their acts of kindness with the world:

  • A Good Deed is not a chore. It is an extra responsibility you take on. Making your own bed, cleaning up your own toys, and other daily household/classroom duties do not count as Good Deeds because they are things you are supposed to be doing every day.  In contrast, making your parents bed, cleaning up a sibling's toys for them, and helping a parent clean up after dinner is a Good Deed because you are helping someone else to accomplish their job. 
  • We must always ask others if they would like our help before we begin to do a Good Deed. If we ask and the person says "no", we walk away and let them do their job on their own. I always read The Berenstain Bears and the Good Deed to help my class understand this concept. In the book, Papa Bear attempts to help several people and keeps making them angry because he doesn't understand what they want. It does a wonderful job of helping little ones see the importance of asking permission before you begin to help someone. 
The Berenstain Bears and the Good Deed... great book for Lent!
  • Your own work must be complete before you do a Good Deed to help someone else. This rule is mostly for classroom management purposes. Here is a perfect example: I have a few students that LOVE to help their friends pack up at the end of the day. They get their friends all packed up, bundled, and ready to go... but then make the class late for dismissal because we now have to wait for them to pack up their OWN belongings for home. This rule keeps everyone motivated to take care of their own responsibilities quickly and encourages the students that needs a little extra time to take steps toward independence before their friends come swooping in to help. It works out nicely for everyone.
  • We never lie about Good Deeds. Some students just love to color in the chart and can't wait to fill it up. So they will quickly color five spaces on the chart, but can't describe what they did to help someone else before they colored the spaces. I can always tell who really did a Good Deed because they are so eager to share lots of details when asked about their experience. I ward this problem off on the first day by telling the class that this is different from the coloring sheets they are accustomed to - it will take 40 days (the entire Lenten season) to color this particular chart. I then explain that each time a space is colored, it is like a prayer that let's God know how hard we've been trying to be kind to others. Most students won't understand that pretending to do Good Deeds is dishonest. Once I explain that each Good Deed and coloring space is a little prayer to God, it generally prevents any issues from arising. 

Good Deeds Chart Freebie

You can get a Stained Glass Good Deeds Chart for your own classroom! Just click the image below to download your FREE copy.
FREE Stained Glass Good Deeds Chart for Lent

Have a Blessed Day,

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Presidential Ideas, SALE, and Freebies

Tomorrow is Presidents Day! If you need a few ideas for classroom activities in celebration of the holiday, you have come to the right place!

Interactive Sight Word Readers

I have created two Interactive Sight Word Readers in celebration of the holiday: He is George Washington and This is Abraham Lincoln. These books have been selling like hotcakes! It may have a little something to do with the fact that each book is priced at only $1.
Interactive Sight Word Readers for Presidents Day. Only $1 each!
Shop Presidents' Day items at Teachers Pay Teachers
Shop Presidents' Day items at Teachers Notebook

Presidential Sale

If you've had your eye on any of my products, now is a perfect time to shop! All Kinder-Craze products will be on SALE on Monday, February 18 and Tuesday, February 19. This sale applies to my TpT store as well as Teachers Notebook
Save 10% on all Kinder-Craze products!
Shop to save 10% on Kinder-Craze products at Teachers Pay Teachers
Shop to save 10% at Teachers Notebook
Bundle of Books... 46 (and counting) emergent readers for $25

Yes, that's right... even the Bundle of Books is on sale! The set currently includes 46 Interactive Emergent Readers and sells for $25. New books are added over time and you can download updates for FREE! The Bundle of Books is available on Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook.

Presidential Freebies

As promised, I also have a few fabulous FREEBIES available to supplement your classroom activities.

Color by Number Washington

My Color by Number activities have been gaining popularity. I created a George Washington coloring page for the occasion and it's yours for FREE.
FREE color by number George Washington page from Kinder-Craze

Patriotic Headband Craftivity

Of course, no holiday celebration is complete without a fun hat! Students can don the Stars and Stripes of the American flag with this simple Patriotic Headband.
The template is yours to download for FREE!

FREE patriotic headband template from Kinder-Craze

 Wishing you a wonderful President's Day...

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I'm in Love!

This Valentine's Day I have been bitten by the love bug. It started as a crush from a glance  and has escalated into LOVE.

I'm just going to say it: 
I am in LOVE with my new tape dispensers. 

This post is not intended to be a product review. I have not been in contact with 3M (makers of Scotch tape) or any school supply outlet. I merely saw these adorable tape dispensers, had to have them for myself, and felt compelled to announce my love to the whole world. 
Love these colorful tape dispensers

How the Love Affair Began...

Like all great love stories, this one developed over time. By now you probably know of my great respect and admiration for my friend and fellow blogger Melanie Ralbusky from Schoolgirl Style. Melanie is also a consultant for Creative Teaching Press and shares her creative uses of CTP products on her second blog, Inspired in Style. I saw this beautiful blue tape dispenser in one of her photos from the Ed Expo last month. You can read the original post here
Dots on Turquoise line from Creative Teaching Press, photo from Inspired in Style

I know. Leave it to me to notice on the smallest detail of a bright colorful photo. 

The Thrill of the Chase...

I haven't be able to forget that blue tape dispenser. I emailed Melanie and discovered that it was purchased at Staples. I hadn't had a chance to shop at Staples, but I saw a pink tape dispenser that another teacher at my school recently purchased. She bought hers at Costco (on sale for $13.99 each) and it came with a LOT of tape. Three bright colors were available and (of course) the school supply fanatic in me had to own one in each color. I am officially over the moon for these lovelies. 
Colorful tape dispensers= perfect for my classroom

And yes, I now own a lifetime supply of tape. Each dispenser came with 12 JUMBO rolls of Scotch tape. They don't even fit in my "office supply" file cabinet drawer. 

Just look how pretty my new tape dispensers are. 
colorful tape dispensers for the classroom

Happily Ever After...

The pink dispenser is my favorite. I just adore how it looks on my chevron bookshelf. 
This truly is a match made in heaven.
LOVE this pink tape dispenser. Blog post includes links to buy one online

I looked on the Costco website and only found black tape dispensers online. If you have a Costco membership, you can find your nearest store here. Hopefully they have the colorful ones in stock at your local Costco. As I mentioned previously, Staples also carries these colorful tape dispensers. Pink and blue dispensers can be purchased online for $3.99. I'm not sure if they carry these items at all Staples stores, but you can look up your local Staples store here.

I've had a few questions about other lovely things in this photo:
I decorated the chevron shelf myself with shelf liner. You can find all of the details here.
The cute striped canisters came from IKEA.

Love at first sight really does exist.

Happy Valentine's Day! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Day Fever

With only two days 'til Valentine's Day, my classroom is buzzing with activity!
supplies and ideas for decorating Valentine mailboxes

Our Seventh Grade buddies came into the classroom yesterday to help my students decorate their Valentine's Day mailboxes. We covered shoeboxes with bulletin board paper and added LOTS of fun embellishments like doilies, stickers, paper hearts, foam squares, tissue paper... really anything in a Valentine color that seemed like it would make a fun decoration. 

A short while later, my classroom windowsill became filled with festive mailboxes just WAITING to be filled with loving messages and sweet treats!
decorate old shoeboxes to create VALENTINE MAILBOXES!decorate Valentine mailboxes from old shoeboxes

I painted red and white polka dots on my fingernails just for the occasion as well.
polka dot nails for Valentines Day

You may not have time to organize a shoebox decorating party in your own classroom, but I do have a few other fun ideas if you are still scrambling to find a quick and easy valentine activity. 

Valentine Bingo

You can turn any BINGO game into Valentine Bingo: just use foam (or candy) hearts as the Bingo markers and it instantly becomes a holiday-themed game. I love playing BINGO at class parties because the kids have a blast and it's a great way to review sight words or letters of the alphabet without students realizing that they are actually learning something.
turn regular Bingo into VALENTINE bingo with foam hearts

Need a BINGO game in a hurry? I offer several different games in the Kinder-Craze store. 
Class sets of 30 BINGO games

Shop BINGO Games on Teachers Pay Teachers
Shop BINGO Games on Teachers Notebook

Valentine Emergent Readers

I also created a few Interactive Sight Word Readers just for Valentine's Day. These are a great way to keep your students engaged in content while getting into the Valentine spirit. The best part? They only cost $1 each!
monster-themed emergent reader for Valentine's Day
Sight word practice with Valentine themed emergent readers
Shop Interactive Readers on Teachers Pay Teachers
Shop Interactive Readers on Teachers Notebook

Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Fabulous 100th Day of School

My class celebrated the 100th Day of School this week and it was a blast! The highlight of our celebration featured the fashions of 100 objects.
That's right... all students in the class created a special t-shirt for the occasion and proudly wore 100 objects on their shirt. Some students used markers or paint to create 100 images, others glued 100 objects onto their shirts... no matter the decoration, everyone was incredibly proud to show off their creations.
t-shirt ideas for the 100th day of school

I was able to snap a few photos along the way... we had everything from fuzzy balls to puppy prints, smiley faces, sports equipment, and even a monster with 100 google eyes!
t-shirt ideas for the 100th day of school
t-shirt ideas for the 100th day of school

The t-shirts were great and so thrilling for the students to share. 
But we didn't stop there...
 Each student also created a special hat for the 100th Day of School
The best part? Decorating the hat with 100 stickers!
super-cute hat for the 100th day of school
super-cute hat for the 100th day of school
super-cute hat for the 100th day of school

Once each child was properly outfitted in 100th Day attire, we had a FASHION SHOW! 

The students created a walkway through the center of the classroom and proudly showed off their fabulous ensembles. Project Runway has nothing on these kids. Tim Gunn should have been there to see it... nobody can "make it work" like these kids!
t-shirt ideas for the 100th day of school
I have received DOZENS of requests from teachers asking me to share my parent note which explains the t-shirt project to them. You can download a free editable template for this in my TpT store. The file also includes an information card that students complete at home and you can read during the fashion show. 
creative ideas and a freebie for the 100th day of school
FREE parent letter template for the 100th day of school

One of my students is known as our resident "animal expert." He proudly displayed his shirt with 100 animals. It was revealed during the fashion show that his favorite animal is the skunk and he challenged the other students to find it on his shirt.
 The class LOVED hunting for the skunk picture!
100th day of school t-shirt idea with animal photos
100th day of school t-shirt idea with animal photos

It was SUCH a wonderful day for everyone. If you haven't celebrated your 100th Day yet and need a last-minute project, check out my 100th Day of School Hat
It has been a hot-seller this month. 
great project for the 100th day of school
100th day of school hat
Buy 100th Day of School Hat on Teachers Pay Teachers
Buy 100th Day of School Hat on Teachers Notebook

UPDATE: Need more great ideas to help celebrate the 100th Day of School? You will find a TON of fresh photos in my 100th Day 2014 blog post! Come read all about it!
write 100 words to celebrate the 100th day of school
100th day of school hopscotch
build a tower with 100 cups on the 100th day of school
cute ideas to celebrate the 100th day of school

The best news... summer vacation is less than 100 days away!
(I hope the time passes quickly.)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Interactive Fun for Preschool and Kindergarten

My Interactive Readers have been generating a lot of buzz... even DeeDee Wills from Mrs. Wills Kindergarten is raving about them. My kinders love working on these books each week and I recently had a little fun with two of my youngest friends that had the special treat of getting a sneak peek at my newest creations.

Meet My Friends

I'd like to introduce you to Megan and Hannah.
(These are not their real names, I let these two cutie pies select their own pseudonyms for this post. You know how much children love to play pretend - those girls smiled smiled every time I called them by their imaginary names.) 
Having fun with Interactive Sight Word Readers and Interactive Alphabet Readers from Kinder-Craze
Anyways, Megan is a student in the full-day Kindergarten class at my school and she creates a new Interactive Sight Word Reader in class each week then takes the book home to read every night. The oldest of 3 girls, Megan is the family trend-setter. Her younger sisters LOVE reading the books after Megan's reading homework is complete and my Interactive Readers are their favorite reading material. I once told Megan a "secret" that I actually wrote those books and created them myself. Her response: "Well, I cut and glued all of the letters into the pages!" Needless to say, Megan was not impressed with my authorship.

An Interactive Reader for Valentine's Day

On this fun day, Megan worked on the word "for" as she completed the book Valentines For Everyone. This Valentine-themed book incorporates cute monsters and reviews color words. Megan jumped right in and was able to read the entire book without any help from me. Then she decorated the cover, unscrambled the letters, and colored the monsters according to the text on each page.
cut, unscramble, and glue sight words with Interactive Sight Word Readers from Kinder-Craze

Interactive Alphabet Fun

My preschool friend, Hannah, was in for a VERY special treat. Knowing how much she loved reading her older sister's books, I created an Interactive Alphabet Reader with her in mind. Hannah sampled my very first Interactive Alphabet Reader: My ABC Book. Instead of unscrambling words, the Interactive Alphabet Readers are created to help younger students make letter-sound connections. This 26-page book reviews each letter of the alphabet. The letters were cut out and glued onto the corresponding page in the book. Like all of my Interactive ReadersMy ABC Book features predictable text and picture support. The alphabet cutouts are nice and big for students that are still developing fine motor skills.
Cut and glue letters on each page of Interactive Alphabet Readers from Kinder-Craze
With 26 pages, My ABC Book requires more time to complete. Hannah started the book in my classroom and took the remaining pages home with her. Hannah was so in love with this book, she insisted on working on it until bedtime that night. The next day, she read the book continuously until her 3 year-old sister started on "reading" the book as well.

(Sounds like I need to create a new book for the youngest of the sisters.)

In the meantime, I am thrilled to offer Interactive Readers that meet the needs of Preschool and Kindergarten students alike!
Interactive Reading Fun for Preschool and Kindergarten

Shop Interactive Readers

Interactive Sight Word Readers and Interactive Alphabet Readers are available in the Kinder-Craze stores on Teachers Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers
Interactive Sight Word Readers, only $1 each
Interactive Alphabet Readers in Capital or Lowercase letters for only $3.50

My Newest Obsession

If you stalk Kinder-Craze on a regular basis, you may have noticed that the photo quality in this post has been kicked up a notch. I recently acquired a new-to-me DSLR camera and I have discovered my new obsession: PHOTOGRAPHY!
When I first got my hands on the DSLR, I was proud to figure out how to turn it on, but the rest of the buttons and features were completely unknown to me. Thanks to an Introductory Photography class with the very talented Brian Weitzel from BTW Photography, I am now comfortable (and obsessed) with capturing high-quality images on a wonderful camera.
BTW Photograpy

If you happen to live in the Metro-Detroit area, own a DSLR camera, and only know how to take photos in auto mode, I highly recommend the class. I am so grateful to Brian for all that I learned in my own introductory course.

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