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Growing in Pre K


Snapshots from my classroom

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New Blog

Posted by Eilis on July 4, 2013 at 10:00 AM

I am no longer updating this website.

New blog entries my be found at




Posted by Eilis on July 2, 2013 at 10:25 AM

I recently received three sample rolls of Smart-Fab to use and review for this blog.  I did not receive any compensation for this review beyond the free sample.  I have to say that I am very excited about this new product!

 This material is like felt and paper rolled up in one.  It is easy to cut, does not fray, and can be painted on, glued, sewn, etc. It is much thinner than felt, but still has the feeling of fabric.   There are loads of ideas of how it has been used on Pinterest. I am looking forward to using it on bulletin boards since Smart-Fab reports that holes do not remain when tacks are removed.  Sounds like a teacher's dream to me!  However, I will not be breaking into any locked school buildings to try it out this summer....

So my first very quick project was to make some pom-poms:

I simply cut a strip of Smart-Fab the width (48 inches) of the roll and then cut fringe.

Then, I rolled it up and added a rubber band to make the "handle."  For the second one, I decided to try two colors.  I placed the two colors one on top of the other and only had to cut once.

I plan to make a bunch of these for dress up, gross motor activities, etc.  I am going to try having the kids use them when they count syllables (instead of clapping) for a little variety.  We may even take them out with us at playground time so kids can be "cheerleaders."

There are lots more Smart-Fab ideas bouncing around in my head....

I will post them here as they become reality.

I have linked this up at Mop it Up Monday.


*** UPDATE - Check back here in the next few days - will be hosting a giveaway of Smart-Fab for one lucky reader***

Ocean Fun

Posted by Eilis on June 15, 2013 at 10:15 AM

I have been away from this blog for a while.  There are lots of changes in my life these days.  My youngest child graduated from high school in May and we are moving to the Dallas area this summer.  Packing up my classroom was a huge and sad job.  I had a wonderful group of students last year and it was very hard to say good bye.  Now I am busy making our house look like no one lives in it (for showings).... No small project when I have all the stuff from my classroom at home!  

Enough of that though.  I have finally finished a set of ocean themed printables which can be found at my TeachersPayTeachers Store.

Be sure to visit and download the preview so you can get the fish themed roll and color dice game for free.

Here's a picture of one of my students measuring the ocean animals with cubes:

Once again, I used Kate Hadfield's adorable art.

There are also pocket chart sorts, a lower case alphabet bingo game,  number recognition activities, printables to use with float/sink and estimating how many shells are in a jar, and more.... 

I will email the ENTIRE file for free to the first three people who follow my TeachersPayTeachers Store, download the preview of this set, and post a comment about it here.

While sorting out my teaching materials, I mailed a big box of books to  Moore Books for Moore Kids to help teachers trying to rebuild the classroom libraries that they lost in the tornados.   Check that out too if you might be in a position to help.

Have a wonderful summer!

Let's All Help Moore, OK

Posted by Eilis on May 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM


I donated my "Playing With Words" printables to this great effort.  For a donation of twenty dollars or more, you will receive an amazing amount of products donated by many talented teachers.  Check it out!  (Your printer will be VERY busy this summer.....)




Spring Stuff

Posted by Eilis on March 30, 2013 at 12:35 AM

I  have added a new file of Spring Printables to my  Teachers Pay Teachers store and my Teachers Notebook Shop. I just love working with Kate Hadfield's beautiful art .  My favorite part  of this file is an acrostic pocket chart printable for shared reading based on the word Spring.  There are also pieces for the kids to manipulate on a tree mat following the teacher's verbal directions, spring word wall words, action cards, two printable books (Color Words and a song about spring), and picture/word cards that can be used to play memory or for counting syllables.  

I will email this file for free to the first three people who comment with a great classroom idea to use for Earth Day (Monday, April 22, 2013).


Free Religious Easter Printables

Posted by Eilis on March 22, 2013 at 12:25 AM

I just discovered some great religious Easter clipart and immediately made up a printable file.  This file is FREE.  I hope you find many uses for it in the days leading up to Easter.  There are Word Wall Words, small color posters, coloring sheets, and an Easter Word Search.

You can find it either at my Teachers Notebook Shop or at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  If you download it, I would appreciate a "follow" and/or some positive feedback.  I also love comments here on the blog.  


Here are a couple of Easter books that I love:


And PreKinders has a great free printable Life of Jesus Cross HERE.



Posted by Eilis on March 3, 2013 at 10:25 PM

We celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday on Friday with some Green Eggs and Ham.  I'm happy to say that we really liked them....


By the way...Kohl's currently has The Cat in the Hat book and plush for five dollars each.  (They also have Horton)

I am also enjoying a new (to me) book about animals that hatch from eggs:

I have been working on a set of Bunny and Egg Printables.  They cover CVC words, color words, sight words, counting syllables, recognizing numbers, number words, tallying, and more.  You can download this set of puzzles FREE at my Teachers Notebook Shop:

  Just click on the picture.

There's much more in the complete file:


How cute is Kate Hadfield's clipart?


I'm printing the black and white number puzzles on pastel cardstock.  What are you doing related to eggs?  I will email this file to the first three comments on this post with great ideas for eggs in the classroom.


Texas Time

Posted by Eilis on February 24, 2013 at 11:10 PM

It's Rodeo Time in Houston, so we are doing all things Texas in our classroom right now.


Friday was Go Texan Day, so everyone wore their cowboy gear.  These two cowboys are playing the Cattle Roping game from my Round Up Printables. Are the kids adorable or what?!  They love the fact that in this game they roll the die and then decide whether they want to go forwards or backwards.  The goal is to land on a cattle space, so the player adds a cow to his/her ten frame.

We also made Texas flags from construction paper:

I have created some new Texas themed printables using wonderful clipart by Katie Dang. The set is $2 at my Teachers Notebook Shop.  It includes a poster of the Texas Pledge, Texas word wall cards, a Texas memory game, a Texas emergent reader, a Texas song, a pocket chart graph question.




You can print this puzzle FREE by downloading the Free Preview of my Texas Printable File.


Before I go...I want to share a Western style Cinderella story with you.  It's not a new book, but it is new to me and my class just loved it.  It is Bubba, the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman.



Playing With Words

Posted by Eilis on February 4, 2013 at 11:00 PM

I have finally finished my Playing With Words Printable set.

 It includes a pocket chart activity based on substituting beginning sounds:

CVC picture/word cards.  Students clip a clothespin by the word that matches the picture:

A set of rhyming mittens to match:

and an I have, who has game that combines CVC words with cute clipart pictures:

I used adorable clipart from several sources to complete this set.

The complete set is just $2 at my Teachers Notebook Shop during the month of February.  The price will go up in March.

AND you can download the complete mitten matching see for FREE by downloading the PREVIEW (I included the entire rhyming mitten matching set in the sample.)  Just click on an of the pictures to go to my Teachers Notebook Shop.


Pink, pink, pink!

Posted by Eilis on January 30, 2013 at 8:10 PM

 Does your class enjoy Pinkalicious as much as mine does?  I am putting together a presentation for the Houston Area Association for the Education of Young Children next week.  The topic is activities to follow up the read aloud.  These are some of the activities I use with  Pinkalicious:

I purchased a couple of sets of these adorable cupcakes at the Target Dollar Spot recently.  A package of six cost $3.00.  The muffin tins are from the Dollar Tree.


I use them introduce addition.  We add the number of cupcakes in one pan to the number in the other pan.  The pink cupcakes are also a prop with my "Pinkalicious" puppet.

    I made her out of a puppet from Oriental Trading.

       and added a skirt and tiara from Dollar Tree.  The skirt was too long, so I doubled it before hand stitching it to the puppet.  I used a couple of stiches to attach the tiara to the puppet's head as well.  I may add wings some day...

And here are some props that go along with the puppet:

  Dollar Tree pink tinted star glasses for the kids to wear!  (They can literally see the world through rose tinted glasses....)

   Dollar Tree pink flowers for Pinkalicious to blend into....

  and plastic green foods.  (The apple and bell pepper came from Dollar Tree.  The peas and pepper were in our play food.)

I use the props along with the read aloud, and then put them in the puppet center for the kids to use.  There is also a "Peter" puppet in the set of puppets from Oriental Trading.  We use him "as is."

Do you have a great activity that you do with Pinkalicious?  If so, please comment.

And....I am very grateful to have my laptop up and running again!  I hope to get the Valentine Exchange list out this weekend.  The response was wonderful as usual.  Sorry, the exchange is now closed.  


Valentine Exchange 2013

Posted by Eilis on January 22, 2013 at 4:55 PM

Wow - it's almost February!  I am going to organize the Pre-K Valentine Exchange again this year.  I have made some changes which I hope will simplify things (for me anyway...).

If you wish for your class to participate, please email the following information to me at [email protected] by Tuesday, January 29th.  PLEASE email your school name, your name, and school address to me EXACTLY as it would appear on an envelope addressed to you.  (If you prefer to use your home address, please do likewise.)  


          Sweetheart School

          Attn:  Mrs. Heart's Pre-K Class

          123 Lover's Lane

          Lace, TX 77777

 I want to be able to copy and paste your information directly from your email to my list.  Also, please send the email from the email address that you want to be contacted at, so I can simply "reply" to your email.  Please send one email per teacher/class participating.

I am going to put everyone on one giant list with the directions that your class should send one homemade paper Valentine to the twelve classes that follow you on the address list.  (If you fall towards the end of the list, you would include addresses at the top of the list until you reach twelve.)  I will try to spread different states around the list, but frankly my biggest response to the Gingerbread Exchange came from a few states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia so everyone ended up receiving lots of mail from those states.  I don't want to turn down people just because I already have participants from a certain we'll just have to work with what we have.  (Pre-K teachers tend to be experts at that!)

I will email the list to everyone by February 4th.  Please send out your Valentines by February 6th.  This should have the Valentines arriving by February 14th.  They should be "kid creations" and not include food or candy.  You can choose whether to include a photo of your class, whether to have your students sign it, and all those details.

And...Sorry that GrowinginPreK has been so quiet lately, but I have had complicated laptop issues that have prevented me from doing the things I want to.  I can't wait to get access to all my photos, clipart, etc. back.  Luckily it is stored in a "cloud" somewhere...but still not really available to me until I get my own computer back.



Preparing for Christmas

Posted by Eilis on December 7, 2012 at 11:25 PM

I love sharing the Christmas story with my young learners this time each year.  This week they illustrated their gifts for Baby Jesus:


and created these simple Nativities.

The printables for both activities are included in The First Christmas Printables at my Teachers Notebook Shop.

We also enjoyed some more visits from our elf, Mario.


And.... The Gingerbread Exchange Has been wonderful.  I have been very touched by the notes and emails I have received from so many delightful teachers.  Many classes from one school in Ennis, TX signed up.  It was tricky to put them all on separate lists (especially since Texas is already heavily represented in the exchange).  This picture of all the gingerbread men that they received (combined from all the lists) is AMAZING!  I hope they won't mind me posting it here.  Can you find one you sent out?


The Elf Adventure

Posted by Eilis on December 4, 2012 at 6:05 AM

Our elf arrived yesterday.  The package was very cold because it came from the North Pole.

 (This activity is helping me to feel like it is almost Christmas.  It is still hot here and doesn't feel at all like December....)

The kids are very excited and voted on the name Mario.  ( least he didn't get named Angry Bird....)  I went to the Elf on the Shelf site and registered our little friend.  I scrolled down to custom so that the word family wouldn't appear on our adoption certificate.  Here's a picture of Mario's first nightly adventure.  Who knows...maybe it will generate a little interest in this pocket chart which has been collecting dust in my classroom for three years.  It was hanging there when I moved in, and I keep thinking we will use it one of these days....Maybe the hiding place was too good...The kids NEVER found him!  They are usually a very observant bunch, but I guess the elf was just too clever... So calm searching was starting to turn into a frenzy...I helped them out before they started to dump out Legos, etc.  This is supposed to be helping with classroom  management as Christmas approaches....

He left us an elf report binder, so of course we filled in our first elf report.

I think he might show up somewhere much more obvious tomorrow...

Wait...did he change the number of days until Christmas? !

I have added  a couple more items to my Elf printables.  I have uploaded them as the FREE preview so that everyone can enjoy them.  One is a sheet for asking the elf a question (to answer during the night).  

The other is a printable to use if you would like to start a You've Been Elf-ed adventure at your school:

How fun to leave some holiday pencils, stickers, or whatever you please to a neighboring class. There are two pages.  One is for your own class when your elf leaves you a treat with enough to share.  The other is for the other classes to explain the game.  I suggest including extra copies so the fun will be carried on until winter break (or until all the classes have been elf-ed).

Looking for more elf ideas?  This is a very inspiring list and many of the items could be adapted for a classroom.

We also went on our sight word gingerbread man hunt today.  It is a FREE PRINTABLE at my Teachers Notebook Shop.

We read    and then brought our clipboards, sheets, and pencils to the library to search.  It was one of those amazing teaching times when everyone is focused, on-task, and happy.  I could not believe how much they enjoyed the hunt and how well their lists of "sight words" turned out.  A few finished early and were happy to help the others find challenging gingerbread men.  Once five or six kids had finished, I turned the paper over on their clipboards and told them to draw.  Again, this was amaziningly engaging.  Some days are just awesome....

    Look there's one....

I am looking forward to trying the number hunt in a different location at school.

AND LOTS of gingerbread mail arrived after school this afternoon.  My class is going to love opening the mail.  I think I will hold some back so we can open two or three each day.  


An Elf is Visiting our Classroom

Posted by Eilis on December 2, 2012 at 4:05 PM

I purchased one of those cute little Elf on Shelf sets to use in my classroom this year.


 THEN... I discovered just how many adorable ideas and printables there are for classroom elf activities on teacher blogs via Pinterest.  Here's one great  Link Up:  

Here's my take on it using Kate Hadfield's adorable art and keeping the concepts very simple for four and five-year-olds.  I stayed away from writing letters to Santa and put emphasis on the elf looking for good classroom behavior.



 My little printable set is one dollar at my Teachers Notebook shop (I need to fund my clipart and license expenses...), but I will email it FREE to the three best comments on this post 

FEATURING GREAT IDEAS FOR ELF VISITS in an EARLY CHILDHOOD CLASSROOM.  I will choose the best three tomorrow (Monday, December 3, 2012) night.

So...get your creative minds working (quickly) or you can always purchase it for one dollar :).

Update:  Sorry - the free offer is over...but please follow this link for updates on our

ELF ADVENTURES.  There are two FREE elf printables there.

Candy Cane Numbers

Posted by Eilis on December 1, 2012 at 10:35 AM

It's December!  I am supposed to be outside putting up decorations....but I had to add this new FREE printable first!  

Merry Christmas!

Click on the picture to take you to my Teachers Notebook Shop to download it FREE.  (Please follow my shop too.)

It is part of my Sweet Stuff Numbers 1-20 Printables which is $1.50 and includes an I have who has game,


a gingerbread number hunt,


and three December worksheets (patterning, addition with pictures, and cut and paste missing number).

This Pre-K Class is Headed to Space

Posted by Eilis on November 24, 2012 at 8:00 PM

I have been using the same themes for years now.  Thanks to the great ideas I find on other teacher's blogs, I have new and improved activities each year.  However, this year I am stepping out of my comfort zone and adding a new theme!  I went to a wonderful Preschool Summer Institute at Region 4 in Houston last summer.  We all went home with lots of great teaching ideas AND materials.  We were each given a Lakeshore astronaut costume and several space related items from Lakeshore.   So...when, while planning the year's themes with my team , we noticed that we have an "extra" week between Thanksgiving and December this year....  I decided that we had to do a space theme so I could use my cool new stuff.  ( I also have access to a second uniform since a friend who attended with me was willing to share hers as long as I share mine another week.)

But .. as the week approached, I got concerned.  I knew I could make a rocket out of a wardrobe box for dramatic play....but frankly I wanted something quick, inexpensive, and educational.  Then....I saw it....on PInterest of course.  Check out this amazing International Space Station at The Very Busy Kindergarten.  I barely got through cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  All I could think about was how to turn my classroom into a space station.  I had been worried about what the other kids would do while two dressed up as astronauts and had all the fun.  Then I saw those experiment boxes made from cardboard boxes, dishwashing gloves, and clear wrap.  I already have an "Is it magnetic ?" center that I haven't put out yet this year.  I also have some space looking linking pieces from Oriental Trading that usually collect dust at the back of the cabinet.  I was planning to use free cardboard boxes.....but then I saw these gray boxes intended to store photos.  They were sturdy and the just had "the look" I wanted. experiment boxes were not free ($7 each at Garden Ridge) plus about a dollar for the dishwashing gloves...but the good news is that I WILL use them to store my space stuff until next year....

I also splurged on a Solar System map for our Tag Readers 

I added head phones to each one and then two kids could easily use the mat at once:

Here's the link to my space board on Pinterest if you are interested.  I found some free printables photos of planets at Montessori Mom and phases of the moon also at Montessori Mom.  I used my home laminator to turn those free printables into sturdy materials for my students to handle.

    and of course the 10 cent laminating sheets from Amazon....


Now (drum roll please) on to the space station (or shuttle depending on imaginations)  that I made from a science board.  I turned my Little Tykes kitchen around so that just the white side was showing.  I decorated the poster board with Solar System posters from the local Teacher Supply store and added sheets of paper that had been run through our printer each time it tried to align because we had inserted a new ink cartridge. ( didn't really need to align all those times...but it thought it did and now I am glad I didn't throw away all the paper it wasted...).  Guess how I made the "switches?"  I cut strips of black adhesive foam sheets and folded them in half, letting about half of that stick together and using the other two quarters of adhesive to stick on my science board.  Not bad for a total of 99 cents...  I got really lucky on the chairs.  I had purchased them at Marshall's last year for independent reading places.  I had not brought them to my small classroom yet this year, so these students have not seen them and they are for all intents and purposes.....astronaut seats.

The silver on the seat is one of the Lakeshore astronaut uniforms.  Here's a student wearing one:

Here are some pictures of my progress on the experiment boxes:


This one is constellation cards with holes in them.  The student shines a flashlight in the box to see the constellation through the holes.  (One of the Lakeshore items that I was given last summer...)  I had to add a piece of black cloth for the student to work under to make it easier for kids to see the constellations in a small area.

The lower shelf shows some space themed easy readers for the kids to enjoy. 

I put some flour and baby oil in a plastic container as moon sand or fairy sand.  It does have an interesting soft texture and smells great.  I added this assortment of tiny astronauts: 

I am limiting this experiment to one student at a time since he/she will need to wash hands after playing.

Lucky again... my normal sensory tub and the gray closets behind have that "Space Station" look...

Here's a picture of me assembling the experiment which involves building with the Oriental Trading pieces:

Here it is in use with the cellophane taped over it:

After cutting two holes for the dishwashing gloves, I hot glued the gloves to the outside of the holes.

We also made constellations:

I demonstrated the Big Dipper, but let the kids be creative on their own constellations.

Everyone cooperated on a floor puzzle:


Since I found a bag of golf practice balls at the Target Dollar Spot, each child will take home his/her own pipe cleaner model of revolve/rotate.


I found this idea HERE.

Here's a link to my Space Printables ( $1.50) at My Teachers Notebook Shop.

The printables include the following:

Sight words on planets for a pocket chart game.



Class Book.

There is also an emergent reader about space:

and this Race to Trace Dice Game.  I found some ten sided dice at the Teacher Supply store.  If you don't have these, students will need the option of rolling one or two dice each time so they can get a one.

Lots and lots of educational space fun!

The First Christmas Printables

Posted by Eilis on November 23, 2012 at 10:15 PM

I am very excited because I have purchased a license from Kate Hadfield Designs which allows me to offer her wonderful graphics in items for my Teachers Notebook Shop.  I discovered Kate's beautiful art while searching for some great Nativity clipart.  Let me just say that I have found it!   This printable set is $2.00.


The advent calendar can be printed for individual students to cut and paste each of the first 25 days in December.  If you prefer to do the Advent Calendar as a class activity, you might want to print the numbers on a magnetic sheet and attach the blank calendar to a Dollar Store cookie sheet.


   For the gift printable, each student illustrates his/her gift for the baby Jesus and you add a piece of wrapping paper (taped on the top only)

   and a bow.  The "Help the Shepherd find his sheep" game is similar to the candy corn game I made in October.  It is a fun way for kids to 

   practice putting numbers in order AND deciding whether they need a particular number or should return it to the bag.




Gingerbread Sight Word Hunt

Posted by Eilis on November 21, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Here's a little FREE Printable for the Gingerbread Man theme.  Print out the gingerbread men.  You can either cut out the actual shapes or just cut each 8 x 11 sheet in half .  I do suggest cardstock and/or laminating for durability.  Place the gingerbread men all around the classroom. Give your students one of the two checklists.  On one, students just check off the sight words as they find them.  On the other, students write the words as they find them.  Click on the picture to take you to my Teachers Notebook Shop where you can download this file for free.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Update:  See this hunt in action HERE.


Delightful kids' crafts delivered right to your door. Shop Kiwi Crate! ››

Gingerbread Exchange Lists Have Gone Out

Posted by Eilis on November 15, 2012 at 6:00 PM

Over 150 classes are participating in this year's Gingerbread Exchange!  If you signed up, but haven't received an email with the list of addresses....please check your spam and then contact me at [email protected] 

One teacher from a previous exchange said that her class enjoyed using the Leap Frog Tag Reader U.S. map along with this activity.  ( I can't find her name.  If it was you please take credit!). Since I already have two Tag Readers, I decided to get the map for my class.

Sorry - I cannot accept any more classes for this year's Gingerbread Exchange....but I will probably do the Valentine's Exchange again in February.

Now I am off to whip up some green bean casserole for my school's Thanksgiving tonight...


Lakeshore Software Winner

Posted by Eilis on November 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM

The Winner of the Lakeshore Software Giveaway is Barbara C.


Also, we have over 100 classes participating in the Gingerbread Man exchange.  Tonight is the deadline to sign up.