Finger Puppet Pointers
Finger Puppet + glue + dowel = very cute pointer. I found this idea at
I purchased this package of finger puppets at IKEA for about $5. I think I will leave the shark and turtle as finger puppets for the ocean unit. I need to pick up a couple more dowels for the other animals, but wanted to show you how many were included in the bag.
Room Parent Thank You Gift
End of Year - Field Day T-shirts
My school provides a budget of $3.00 per student for Mother's Day gifts. I am very happy with the results of these $2.50 flower pots from Walmart. I had the kids write and draw on them with Sharpie pens. The great part...mistakes are easily wiped off by the teacher using nail polish remover!!! I plan to add flowers before we give them to our moms (hoping to find some 50 cent flowers :)
We also completed and illustrated Mother's Day books. It can be printed here:
I like to print the cover page on card stock and bind the books with ribbon.
Table top trash cans
I use these little dollar store trash cans on the tables for paper scraps when the children are cutting.
My Latest Target and Garage Sale Find
The bins are $2.50 at the Target Dollar Spot (hoping to find one more....) The plastic rack was $1 at a garage sale!! It will need glue to make it secure enough for the classroom. Please ignore the mess. I have all my classroom stuff crammed into my house this summer...
Vistaprint.com offers an amazing variety of custom printed items. They have many discounts and even free offers.
Here are a couple of things I have made for my classroom using Vistaprint:
Below is how I made it through Vista Print. Above, I added clipart pictures before I laminated it.
Another new fun discovery: Paperbackbookswap.com
You simply list 10 or more paperbacks that you know longer want are immediately allowed to request two books from other members. The only cost is the cost of mailing your books to others when they request them. So far, I have mailed one book that I had an extra copy of, I have received one that I requested, and I have ordered another one today. Check it out!
Save a tree
I laminate dot-to-dot pages and mazes for students to use with dry erase markers. (You may need to check that dry erase wipes off easily from the laminating film you use. Some is better for this than others. I have been lucky with the Scotch 3M laminating sheets that I purchase at Target and Walmart and use with a personal laminator).
Open House Scavenger Hunt
I find that open house goes smoothly if the families have a mission. I send them on a fun scavenger hunt in the classroom with their student as a guide. This serves several purposes. It allows parents to explore the centers which are such an important part of our classroom. It gives the students an opportunity to show off their familiarity with the classroom. It keeps people moving around in the room. I have also discovered that older siblings make wonderful scribes!
Making Class Books
I do not have access to a laminating machine at this school, so I use page protectors in a binder with a clear front pocket. At the end of the year, I remove the students' pages from the page protectors and send them home in their "Me Books." I recycle the binders for next year.
100 piece puzzles
Sometimes I put out a 100 piece puzzle on a table that can be left undisturbed for a number of days. It makes a great activity for early finishers. It also provides a sense of "team" as everyone works together to do something bigger than they could do as individuals. I have a strict rule that no one should be holding more than one piece at any time. I also seek puzzles that are fun and do not have large areas of all one color...
I bought this one at the dollar area of Target last Christmas. It was perfect in our gingerbread theme.
The Little Things
I hang a clear shoe pocket bag over the door of the closet in my classroom. This makes it very easy to put my hands on paper clips, dice, popsicle sticks, clothespins, flash cards, and all the other small items that I need daily.
Keeping a lid on it
I got this idea from Maria Tamez at Region 4 in Houston, TX. The lids are held in place by Plaster of Paris and the student return the markers to the lids when they finish using them.
We play Koosh ball at the end of the day, when children are being picked up. I ask a question and throw the Koosh ball to one student. Only that student may answer. Sometimes I ask about something we learned today (Tell me something that starts with the letter B, What color do you get if you mix blue and yellow?, etc.) Sometimes it is just an opinion question (What is your favorite book?) The child tosses the Koosh ball back to me and I toss it to another child. It is great practice for taking turns, gross motor skills, and confidence building.
Self-adhesive foam sheets
After laminating paper matching activities, I back them with self-adhesive foam sheets (available at craft stores) before cutting them out. This makes them easier for children to pick up and helps them stay in one place on a table.
Stamping the Alphabet
I made these alphabet dough stamps out of wooden puzzle pieces. A few pieces were lost and it was time to throw out the puzzle. I attached wooden spools ($3 for 20 at Hobby Lobby) and made my own alphabet stamps.
The same result as the pricey word/letter window pointers: I used pre-painted wooden cut outs (59 cents at Hobby Lobby) and glued them to dowels.
Easy Two Dollar Phonics Phones
These are made from 2 inch pvc elbows. One piece cost about $1.60 and the other costs about 60 cents. Kids can really hear the letter sounds that they are saying when they hold this phone. I used to think that they were only for kids who were reading, but they are great for phonemic awareness!
I hot-glued die cut stars with the kids' names to clothespins. Now it is easy to recognize which is "mine."
Basket for Dice Rolling
I saw these plastic baskets for 50 cents in the picnic section at my grocery store. I bought them without knowing what their use would be. They are great for the kids to roll dice in. It cuts down on the dice rolling off the table onto the floor!
The worksheet shown is from the Mailbox Kindergarten June/July 2010.
Sally's ABCs has an interesting variety of materials to purchase and add to an empty water bottle:http://sites.google.com/site/sallysabcs/discovery-bottle-packets-bestseller
Packing Up for Summer
We have to empty our classrooms over the summer. I pack one box that I consider the "everything I will need for the first day of school box." I also roll up the over the door clear shoe pockets so that I can hang them up as soon as I come back and will know where the tape, staples, sharpies, etc. are.
Two sided foam counters
I wanted a few two sided foam counters for probability, patterning, etc. but was put off by the price for a large container of 450 of them at the teacher supply store. I remembered that I had a one inch circle paper punch at home. I cut circles from two sheets of self-adhesive foam and stuck them together. (The foam is not easy to fit into the paper punch, but can be done as long the foam is paper backed).
Plastic cake frosting container with lids are great to hold items when you want the kids to shake and guess what something is by sound.
I save the "how to draw" a certain character that sometimes appears in the back cover of the Teacher's Scholastic book order form. I put my collection in page protectors and a binder and leave it in the art center.
Make a Flannel Board for under $5
This is not rocket science, but since I needed to make a fresh one, I thought I'd post the pictures. I purchased a foam board at Dollar Tree and bought a yard of flannel for about $3.50.
I hot-glued a piece of poster board to the back to cover any messy edges.
Now go to: http://www.kizclub.com/stories.htm to print favorite story characters. Attach them to adhesive felt from a craft store, cut them out and you have great flannel board materials!