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Growing in Pre K


Snapshots from my classroom

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The Fabric U.S. Map

Posted by Eilis on November 6, 2012 at 8:50 AM

I keep getting great emails from teachers signing up for the Gingerbread Exchange.  Several of you have asked where I got the U.S. map pictured.  It is a fabric piece I purchased at JoAnn's Clothworld years ago.  It was in the area with the ready to sew baby quilts. I have also seen them on ebay and  Here is a link to one place on Amazon that has one.  I did not check shipping, etc. to find the best deal.  I do love the pictures that relate to the various states.

Also, I will be sending a Texas Pay it Forward package to Amanda at A Very Curious Class.  Amanda, please email your mailing address to me at [email protected]  I would love to send the Texas package to two more teachers, but you will need to have a teaching blog so that you can blog about it and the Pay if Forward Game will keep going.



Thanksgiving Printables

Posted by Eilis on November 2, 2012 at 9:25 PM

The Gingerbread Exchange is off to a great start!  In one day, we already have over fifty classes participating.  I love hearing from so many of you who read this blog, but are usually very quiet.  I am so excited about how many of you are looking forward to the exchange because your students and families enjoyed it last year.

I just purchased some adorable Thanksgiving clipart from Creative Clips (the same artist who did the cute monster under the bed graphics).  I created a printable little book to share with my own class.  It does include the words God and church, because I teach in a Christian school.  It is available FREE at my Teachers Notebook Shop.  I am trying to decide whether to add some religious printables for the upcoming Christmas season, so if you want more of these types of printables....please comment here to let me know.


This little book is part of a bigger Thanksgiving Printable which is also available at my Teachers Notebook Shop for $1.50.  Here's a peek:




Also included, is a printable where students count the correct number of turkey feathers to match the number on the turkey.  I have included printable feathers, but it will be much more fun if you add your own feathers.



Gingerbread Exchange 2012

Posted by Eilis on November 1, 2012 at 7:55 AM

I am going to organize a Gingerbread Man Exchange again this year.  

Here's how it works:

This exchange is open to Pre-K, preschool, and kindergarten classes only.  (Homeschoolers of the same age group are welcome).

If you want your class to participate email me at [email protected] by midnight Saturday, November 10, 2012.  I will ONLY be including emails that are sent to that address.  It gets too confusing to check my personal email, blog comments, etc.  

You MUST include your name, the COMPLETE address that you want other participants to mail gingerbread men to, and the email address that you want to be contacted at.  i.e. Gingerbread School, Attn:  Mrs. Dough's Class, Room 1, 123 Sweet St., Sugar Land, TX 12345.  If you are using your home address, please write (home) so I will know you are not missing school name, etc.

Around November 15, 2012 I will email you a list of approximately 15 classes that you will exchange with. I will do my best to include classes from different parts of the country on each exchange list, but in the past I have found that we cluster in certain areas.  If I notice two classes from the same school, I try to put them on different lists.

You will send one decorated paper gingerbread man to each class on the list.  Decorations might include, lace, stickers, paint, markers, foam pieces, etc.  Please do not glue candy or other food to the paper gingerbread man.   In addition you will send a short card or letter to the class telling them things like:

The name of your school

A city that you are close to (to help locate your town on a map)

How many students and/or boys/girls are in your class

Your school's mascot

Favorite books, activities, centers that your class enjoys

Something interesting about your town or state (Your baseball team won the World Series,  a food your area produces, etc.)

Why you decorated the gingerbread man the way you did.

A photo of your class is not required, but the children LOVE to see one!

The gingerbread men MUST be mailed out by Friday, November 30th.  This allows classes to enjoy receiving mail at the beginning of December before winter breaks begin.

Also,  don't forget to enter the Lakeshore Software Giveaway.

And... I am still looking for some blogging teachers to participate in the the Pay it Forward game.



Lakeshore Software Review and Giveaway

Posted by Eilis on October 27, 2012 at 10:55 AM

GrowinginPreK is having a Lakeshore software giveaway HERE.  Please visit!

Good Luck!

October Updates

Posted by Eilis on October 24, 2012 at 9:00 PM

I have had lots of emails about the Gingerbread Exchange.  Yes, I will be organizing it again this year.  I will post all the details on Thursday, November 1.  

I have also had lots of questions about the pumpkin growing project.  I am doing it in my own classroom for the third year in a row.  We have LOTS of sprouts again this year.,  I am going to try planting it in a pot this year.  I don't really have room, but I get so many questions about whether it can be done, that I have to find out and report for myself.  I will let you know how it goes....

I am anxiously waiting for the software for the Lakeshore giveaway.  I will post as soon as I receive it!

My students are loving the monster google eye counting and adding activity:


You can read about my Monster Printables Here.

I have opened a Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Please visit it, download one of my FREE printables, and leave positive feedback and/or become a follower.  

And...I have just begun working on a Thanksgiving Printable download.  I love to hear what you are looking for in your classroomsl   I will send the file for free to the first three people who give me a great idea that I end up using in the printable. (So far I have a turkey puzzle to cut and glue, an emergent reader about Going on a Turkey Hunt, turkey feather counting, and a beginning sounds activity....)


Community Helpers Printables

Posted by Eilis on October 20, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Wow - the GrowinginPreK Facebook Page now has 600 Likes!  To celebrate -I have just added some FREE Community Helpers Printables to my Teachers Notebook Shop.

There is an "I have..Who has..." game

and a set of word wall cards.  I plan to use the word wall cards to have the kids play charades during our Community Helpers unit.

I have some more good news.  GrowinginPreK will be hosting a Giveaway of some Lakeshore Software soon!  


Who Doesn't Love Getting a Package?

Posted by Eilis on October 19, 2012 at 7:50 AM

One of my favorite Early Childhood Blogs is Mrs. Goff's Pre-K Tales.

Mrs. Goff participated in a fun Pay It Forward activity where she received a package from a blogging teacher and then Mrs. Goff "paid it forward" by sending a package to three more blogging teachers.  The packages contain books and materials relevant to the place where the sender lives.  

Lucky for me....Mrs. Goff lives in Pennsylvania.  So, she sent me an autographed book by Judy Schachner:

  because Ms. Schachner lives nearby.

She also sent me lots of yummy Hershey Kisses (you guessed it ...from Hershey, Pennsylvania)  

and several more books, maps, and activities related to the Amish, the Constitution, and Pennsylvania.  

Thank you very much Mrs. Goff!  My class will enjoy the books and the kisses!

Now it’s my turn to Pay It Forward.


So if you would like to play AND are willing to pay it forward from your own blog, then here is what you do.


Leave a comment on this post stating that you want to play, and I will randomly choose three players.

You can be from anywhere in the world!!

The rules are:

• To the three participants I will send a fun package representing Texas - but you must be willing to Pay it Forward to three more people.  

• Comments will remain open until November 5th.

• If you are chosen you will need to send me your address so that I know where to send your package.

• After you receive the package you will need to Pay it Forward in the same manner on your blog.

Thanks for playing!

Update:  Please include the name of your teacher blog in your comment :)

I Put the Monsters to Bed

Posted by Eilis on October 15, 2012 at 9:30 PM

I got some great ideas for my Monsters Printable file from Debi, Robin, and Amanda who commented on my last post.  They were looking for opposites, beginning sounds, and counting (on the bed/in the closet).  I have sent the file to them for their thoughts.

There are also some "eyeless" monster mats for counting and/or adding with your own google eyes.  


The 89 page file is two dollars at My Teachers Notebook Shop.

(Do you love the plastic container?!  I bought that about a month ago at the Target Dollar Spot.)

Here's a little FREEBIE emergent reader for your kids to color.

I just love the monster clipart that I purchased at Creative Clips and the free font from Hello Literacy.

Well, I am off to our class field trip to a farm/pumpkin patch tomorrow.  Wish us luck!


Candy Corn Number Grab

Posted by Eilis on October 10, 2012 at 8:15 PM

Here's a FREE printable game to help young learners put the numbers one to twenty in the correct order.  Players take turns choosing a numbered candy corn piece and the first to fill his/her board wins.  There are two different versions of the board depending on whether your students will need to have numbers to match or not.

Just click on the pictures to take you to my Teachers Notebook Shop where you can download it for free.



I am currently working a big "monster" printable file.  The monsters are pretty silly looking - not scary. So far I have color word matching and a rhyming word emergent reader.  What would you like to see included in this set?  I will send the file free to anyone who gives me a suggestion that I end up using.


Cowboy Themed Printables

Posted by Eilis on October 7, 2012 at 9:45 AM

I have added a 69 page printable file to my Teachers Notebook Shop.  It includes loads of cowboy, ranch, or rodeo themed books, songs, games, puzzles, and more to use in your classroom.  

In the Cattle Roping Dice Game, students roll the die and decide whether to move forwards or backwards.  The goal is to land on spaces with cows on them, and fill the ten frames.  The playing pieces are cute cowboys and cowgirls which you cut out, fold, and tape or glue.  You will need your own die.

The entire file is $2.50.






And here is a FREE patterning printable.  Just click on it to go to my Teachers Notebook Shop and download it.


Loving Our Letter Vests

Posted by Eilis on October 6, 2012 at 4:00 AM

My school purchased this set of letter vests for our classroom this year.

They are really helping the kids grasp the concept of blending letter sounds into words. I have each child say the sound of the letter that he/she is wearing and everyone else tries to figure out the word they are making.  Once we have figured out "it" I will have someone come up wearing an s and we will read "sit."  Previously I had done similar activities with the kids using big letters printed on cardstock paper (laminated) with yarn so they could be worn like necklaces.  If you have read much of this blog, you know that I am all about making or finding inexpensive classroom materials, so it pains me to say this.... but, these are worth the $40 investment.  The kids love to use them and they don't flap them around like they did with the homemade ones.  I like the fact that vowels are a different color and each vest has both the upper and lower case forms of the letter.

I am taking pictures of my students making words out with the letter vests this year.  I put the pictures in a binder for students to read and to use with the magnetic letters. I find that everything is much more exciting if it includes photos of classmates.

 Dr. Jean has a fantastic idea on her blog using gardening gloves to make letters for building words.


The Best Things in Life Are Free

Posted by Eilis on October 4, 2012 at 4:25 PM

I have been a Shutterfly junkie for years.  Each year I set up a Shutterfly classroom share site for my classroom  families to join.  They choose their own passwords to see pictures that I upload of the students in action.  I am always hearing from grateful parents who tell me that they love this glimse into their childrens' school day adventures.  So much of what we do in Pre-K (science experiments, dramatic play, construction, and on and on...) doesn't go home in the weekly folder.  Parents also have the opportunity to purchase photos and other items from Shutterfly if they see a special shot that they really want.  Whether parents choose to order photos or not doesn't affect me in any way.  

Setting up a Shutterfly share site is very easy.  You can keep it very simple or customize it to exactly what you want.

I set up volunteer sign-ups on my class Shutterfly site. Parents can sign up from the convenience of their own computers.   I can upload documents such as newsletters if I wish to.  I also post links to useful websites such as Scholastic Book Orders and  Starfall.

And .... I love the price of having a Shutterfly website....FREE!

If you do not already have a Shutterfly account, follow this link to receive 50 4X6 prints for FREE!  

Shutterfly 50 Free Prints

If you already use Shutterfly, follow the link to receive 30 free 4 x 6 photos when you create your share site.


Pre-K Moments

Posted by Eilis on October 1, 2012 at 7:40 PM

I used to blog about things that happened in my classroom, ideas that worked...or didn't...  It has been a while since I have written that kind of post...but today was that kind of here goes.

I tried a dice game as a "math station" today.  I found the free printable HERE and my students really enjoyed playing it.  The funny thing that happened was that one student kept telling me that her "dice had no four."  She was supposed to be working independently while I worked with a small group.  I told her a couple of times that of course it had a four (four dots).  Joke on me...when I finally checked it did not.  She is a pretty bright kid...and I am impressed that when she wasn't getting any fours, she actually checked.

This morning was that wonderful first cool morning in Texas (this year).  The kids were so funny coming in wearing sweaters and sweatshirts and telling me how cold it was outside.  The low for today was 64 degrees, but bless their four year old memories...this was the coldest morning that they could remember.  So, at playground time, when the temperature was well up into the seventies....they were all anxious to put all their new cold weather gear on.  I assured them that it had warmed up by now and they would be fine without the sweaters and sweatshirts....but one little guy told me he "was going to get all sweaty if he didn't wear his sweatshirt."  (As  Willie Wonka would say..."Reverse that...")

I could go on and on...but I'd love to hear the funny things that happened in your classroom.  Please share.  I will send my pumpkin life cycle printables to the first three great shares.


Love Letters Charms, Hand-Stamped Sterling Silver Charms from Santa Barbara, California

Rhyming Pumpkins

Posted by Eilis on September 30, 2012 at 12:00 AM

Do your students love the book Rhyming Dust Bunnies as much as mine do?  My class just can't get enough of them.  

So...I was inspired to create a similar story about two pumpkins who like to rhyme.  Each page has pictures and words so the kids can "read" it to themselves almost immediately.


You can download this free printable HERE.


Your comments REALLY DO MEAN A LOT  TO ME.


Owl Calendar Number Printable

Posted by Eilis on September 28, 2012 at 8:10 PM

Yes, I'm cutting this a little fine....Monday is the first day of October...

I have uploaded FREE printable owl calendar numbers to my Teachers Notebook Shop.  

The owls are in three colors in an ABC pattern.

Have a great weekend!

Win a Year of Kiwi Crate

Some Free Treats

Posted by Eilis on September 26, 2012 at 3:55 PM

Here are two free treats (a little early for Halloween):

(1)Treat is offering a free greeting card (for any occasion) to everyone today.


Whether you need a personalized card for a birthday,  anniversary, or for any of the hundreds of occasions on Treat's site...or even just to say hello, you should check out this offer.


Head on over to Treat now and choose from one of their thousands of designs. Then personalize. You can change the text, the font, and the colors, add a picture or four, and truly make it your own. Then just use the code TREATXOXO at checkout to get it completely free (including shipping). You only have to pay if you choose to have Treat send it to the recipient ($0.45 for the stamp).


That's all there is to it. The offer expires tonight at 11:59pm PT so head on over now.


(2) I am offering a free printable dice game to use with the plastic spiders that are everywhere this time of year.  The ones pictured came from the Dollar Spot at Target.  A box of 150 (table scatter) was $2.50.  You can download the game  FREE at my Teachers Notebook Shop.


Who Loves Pizza?

Posted by Eilis on September 22, 2012 at 9:55 AM

I do!

Here's a new FREE printable that you can download at my Teachers Notebook Shop.  It is a bingo game to practice recognizing the numbers 1-15.  If you happen to have a 1/2 inch circle paper punch, it will be perfect for cutting out the "pepperoni" pieces. You could also just use the 1/2 inch punch on red construction paper.

Click on any of the pictures.  If you download this game, please make my shop one of your favorites.


I also added an alphabet version of this game.  There are several different sets of calling cards to use depending on the skill you want to practice.  There are uppercase, lowercase, and then color and black and white beginning sounds cards.

The set also includes a whole pizza/half pizza sorting activity (for a pocket chart or big math journal) and a printable book that counts the toppings on a pizza.  My students love it when I put these pages in page protectors in a binder and leave them in the book center.  The printable is two dollars and Teachers Notebook now accepts credit cards in addition to Paypal.





If you haven't seen some of my old posts on pizza, you can find them HERE and HERE.


Five Little Owls

Posted by Eilis on September 14, 2012 at 10:25 PM

Take away stories like the "The 5 Little Owls" are such a great way to introduce children to the concept of subtraction.  They are having so much fun that they don't realize they are learning.  That's my favorite kind of teaching.... so I have made a printable emergent reader of the 5 Little Owls.  Included in the printable is a Five Frame math mat so each student can manipulate their own five owls as they listen to the story.  There is also a roll and cover dice game and a pocket chart song.  The set is one dollar at my Teachers Notebook Shop.  I try to offer my printables at very reasonable prices, and your purchases allow me to purchase the clipart I use.  This clipart came from Cherry Clipart.




And here is a FREE PRINTABLE puzzle:

  Just click on any of the pictures to go to my

Teachers Notebook Shop.  


Pumpkin Life Cycle

Posted by Eilis on September 12, 2012 at 10:30 PM

A couple of years ago I added a little soil to a pumpkin pie pumpkin, it sprouted, and lots of you found this website/blog through Pinterest.  Here's the original photo:

  and here are links to that project:

The Original Pumpkin Post


The Pumpkin Project Revisited


So...I am very excited to offer this Pumpkin Life Cycle FREE PRINTABLE.

Just click on the picture or HERE to download it free at my Teachers Notebook Shop.

And....if you need more pumpkin life cycle printables...and who doesn't?....for one dollar you can download the same cards in black and white, some pocket chart strips to go with them, label cards, and BOTH color and black and white emergent readers in my Teachers Notebook Shop.


Here are some links to wonderful pumpkin life cycle books:





Posted by Eilis on September 10, 2012 at 12:35 AM

We do the "My Family" theme early in the school year.  I have the kids bring in a photo of their families and we graph how many people there are in our families.  Drawing our families can be challenging this early in the school year.  I thought it would be fun to give them stick figures to color to represent the members of their families.  I could not find exactly the clipart I had in mind, so I created my own.  I am pretty pleased with myself right now, since my previous experience with making clipart is limited to the sun I recently made for the weather unit.  I'm definitely keeping my day job, but had a lot of fun creating this.  There are two options for mom, two options for dad, two options in three sizes for sisters, two options in three sizes for brothers and a baby with and without a bow. (Yes, I was probably following a minivan when this idea popped into my head....)



I wrote a silly little song about families to the tune of the Addams Family.  I find that kids like anything sung to that tune....

 What Mommies Do Best/What Daddies do Best  and other books in that series go well with this theme.

I would love to hear YOUR ideas.  So....I will send this file to the first three people who post a great family theme teaching idea here.

Otherwise, it's just a dollar at my Teachers Notebook shop.  Just click on any of the pictures of the printables to take you to my shop.


Here's the link that Stacey included in her comment: