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Growing in Pre K


Snapshots from my classroom

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Going on a Picnic

Posted by Eilis on September 8, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Remember how fun it was to play "I'm going on a picnic, and I'm going to bring a..."  Little did we know that we were working on our auditory memories when we used to recite all the things that people before us had named.  I have created a set of printables (including an 8x11 color emergent reader) based on the traditional game. I print the emergent reader and put the pages in page protectors in a binder.  After reading it aloud with the class a few times, children are anxious to choose it in the book center and read it to themselves.

 Clicking on any of these pictures will bring you my Teacher's Notebook shop where the 25 page file is two dollars.




Posted by Eilis on September 4, 2012 at 11:10 PM

Weather is a theme that I have been wanting to do more with in my classroom.  I found some good weather songs on CanTeach and added some clipart from KPM Doodles and my own "creations."  Yes, I made the "sun" myself....

The printable is available to download free by clicking on this picture:

Then, I made a set of weather themed activities.  The set is available at my Teachers Notebook Shop for $1.50.  

This file is 48 pages long!  And, I will send it free to the first three people who leave a comment here WITH A GREAT WEATHER THEME IDEA that works in a preschool or Pre-K classroom.  


Leap Frog Game

Posted by Eilis on September 1, 2012 at 6:30 PM

I have added a free printable game to my Teachers Notebook Shop.  You'll just need to add markers (two colors of plastic frogs would be fun)

and a die.  I use a foam cube with the numbers 1 and 2 written on it to keep play simple and extend the time it takes to reach ten.  If you print this, please make my day and leave a comment ! ! !

Just click on any of the photos to go to my Teachers Notebook Shop.

(While you're there...please make it one of your favorites...)

Here is the game in use in my classroom.  My students LOVE it.



Posted by Eilis on August 27, 2012 at 8:25 PM

It's the second week of the school year and I am anxious to begin some "directional art,"  but the scissors skills just aren't there yet.  Today, after reading Corduroy, one of my very favorite children's books, it came to me.  

I knew we could glue some brown and green circles and rectangles and come up with our own adorable bears.  (When I went to Amazon for a picture of the Corduroy book, I couldn't believe the great price of this hardcover book and plush animal boxed set.  I don't want to type it here since prices can change, but click on the picture if you are interested.)


I used my one inch circle punch to cut the 7 circles for the paws, ears,  and face.

I used my 2 1/2 inch circle punch to cut the head. 

The arms are a brown rectangle about 1 x 5 inches.

One green rectangle is about 3 inches x 2 3/4 inches.  Two are 1 1/2 inch squares.  The shoulder straps are 1 1/2 inches long.  (I just cut them free hand.)  Each bear needs one button and two small google eyes.  I finished the face with a a black marker.  (The bear in the photo has not been glued yet.)

Here are a couple of pictures I took while putting the pieces together:

Homeschool Creations has some free printables to go along with Corduroy HERE.

I'd love to hear your "Bear Theme" ideas.


Posted by Eilis on August 27, 2012 at 12:10 AM

I wanted to show off this welcome bulletin board outside my classroom.  I am a BIG believer in covering bulletin boards in the kids' own art, but obviously I could not do that for the first day of school.  The school had hung these new bulletin boards outside our classrooms over the summer, and mine was covered in owls - yeah!  So....I looked on Teachers Notebook and found this adorable owl welcome banner to print, cut, and hang. Here's the link to the shop where I found it.  I downloaded the black and white ones for FREE here.

And here are some of my beginning of the year Fine Motor Tubs.  The kids do these for a few minutes as they arrive and unpack in the morning.

 These are those foam cubes that the Dollar Tree carries.The goal is to use the chopsticks to build towers.  I have had the "training" chopsticks since my own kids were little.  I believe we got them when we ate Chinese/Japanese food at a restaurant.

  Most of these spinning tops came from the birthday party section at the grocery store.


I have wanted to do this  marble and bath mat activity that I saw on for a long time.  I saw the little ducks on clearance at Target this summer and knew it was time to stop thinking about it.  

Literacy Stations

Posted by Eilis on August 26, 2012 at 11:45 PM

I firmly believe in "Free Choice Centers" in Pre-K.  I want the kids to have plenty of time to choose their activities.  However, with blocks, dramatic play, art, puppets, the sensory table, and more available, I find that the abc center, listening center, and math center are often overlooked.  Last year, I remedied the math center problem by creating a set of math tubs and sending the entire class to math tubs during "Math Tub Time."  This year, I am adding a 20-30 minute literacy station time.  I have been reading about Daily 5 and pulling some age-appropriate ideas from it. I was very inspired by Lil Country Kindergarten's Daily 5 in Pictures.

I have ten students, so I set up 5 literacy stations (writing, abc work, listening, reading books, and working with the teacher).  I made a schedule so that two kids visit one station each day.  (I put folded name cards out so the kids know which station to go to,)  We are doing Literacy Stations when the students return from outclass, so I have a few minutes to set things out.  By the end of the week, everyone has been to all five stations. This worked REALLY well during the first week of school.  Here are some pictures:

Writing Station:  The students rainbow traced their names.  (I had written them lightly in pencil.)

Reading Books Station:

I LOVE my Tag Readers           

I have two readers and several books.  I have downloaded all my books to both Tag readers, so kids can use either one with any of my books.

ABC Station:

For the first week, the kids placed letters on the alphabet arches and after putting those away, they did alphabet matching puzzles.

Work with the Teacher Station:

The kids worked on the first page of "My Year in Pre-K" with me at this station.  You can print your own copy HERE. I purchased the mirror at The Dollar Tree.  The kids loved looking in it while they drew themselves.

We also have Listening Station - sorry, no photos.

I hope to add some more pictures over the next few weeks as the activities at the stations change and progress.

Lots and Lots of Brown Bear

Posted by Eilis on August 25, 2012 at 11:05 AM

Yesterday, I uploaded a free Brown Bear emergent reader to my Teachers Notebook Shop.

I just love using Brown Bear, Brown Bear activities at the beginning of the school year.


Now, I have uploaded many more Brown Bear themed printables.  The entire package is $2.  Here's a sample of what is included:





You will need your own colored buttons for the Button Sort.

The Black and White emergent reader is included in this set, but it is also still free to print at my Teachers Notebook Shop.


Just click on any of the printable photos to go to my shop.


Brown Bear's Friends

Posted by Eilis on August 24, 2012 at 7:50 PM has reached 500 Facebook Likes!  THANK YOU!

To celebrate, I have added a free printable emergent reader to my Teacher's Notebook Shop.  This little book is a perfect companion to the wonderful book

Brown Bear, Brown Bear.                             

I find having students color the animals is a great beginning of the year activity.  I just had to make this version when I saw KPM Doodles' cute clipart.


Just click on either picture to visit my Teachers Notebook shop and download it for free.  IF YOU DOWNLOAD THIS,

please, pretty please either leave a comment here or make my Teachers Notebook shop one of your favorites and/or Like GrowinginPreK on Facebook.




Germs Are Not for Sharing

Posted by Eilis on August 23, 2012 at 5:30 PM

Today was our fourth day of school.  I used my favorite back to school science lesson (with a few improvements).  We read the book Germs Are Not for Sharing.

Then we did the apple slice and germ experiment.

 I used those cool scienctific looking clear plastic water bottles this year.  The neck on them is almost as wide as it was on the glass jars that I used in the past.  I wrote clean (with a happy face) and dirty (with a sad face) right on the bottles with a permanent marker.  Then I sliced up an apple into ten small pieces. (I have ten kids and knew they would love each getting a turn.)  I had the kids each drop one slice using their clean hands into the jar labeled "clean."  For extra good measure, I had the kids rub their hands with hand sanitizer just before doing our experiment.  Then, when we came in from the playground, I repeated everything for the "dirty" jar. (Well...I did not repeat the hand sanitizer...)  I noticed a difference in the apples before I even left this afternoon!  We will be observing our "germs" over the next couple of weeks.  

First Day Printable

Posted by Eilis on August 19, 2012 at 8:20 AM

Here are a couple of free printables to use on the first day of school.  One is for Pre-K, the other is for preschool. Click on the picture you want to print.  The clipart is from KPMDoodles.

Have a great school year!


Hey Diddle Diddle Printables

Posted by Eilis on August 13, 2012 at 12:20 AM

I have added a set of printables for the nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle to my Teacher's Notebook Shop. The wonderful clipart is from

[email protected]

The set costs one dollar and includes a printable 8 x 11 book, pocket chart strips, puzzles, and both color and b/w versions of the emergent reader.



AND this cute little emergent reader is FREE to print at my Teachers Notebook Shop:  It could also be prnted on cardstock and used as sequencing cards.

If you stop by Teachers Notebook to pick up the freebie, I would love some positive feedback.



Math Chart

Posted by Eilis on August 7, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I have seen a couple of great math chart ideas on Pinterest.   Guess what - Lowe's is selling them for $4.95 !

Well...they don't know that they are math charts....

Actually, they are in the section with items for setting up a dorm room.  There are solid black ones, black and white ones, and one with some pastel colors in it.  They have a small cork rectangle and a dry erase/magnet board AND three pockets.  I added the magnets and dry erase marker.  They could be stored in the pockets.

AND... look what else you could do with the three pockets...

Add Popsicle sticks and you have a way to show place value (for kindergarten).  

Those are my ideas.... I bet you have some more...please share them!


Guidecraft Giveway

Posted by Eilis on August 6, 2012 at 9:25 PM

Vanessa at Pre-K pages is hosting a great giveaway of a Guidecraft Bookshelf.  Check it out and enter by clicking HERE.  (Or don't...I am going to win it anyway.)

Good Luck!  (But I'm going to win anyway...) Those shelves are going to look really good in my classroom....


Ice Cream Activities

Posted by Eilis on August 5, 2012 at 3:05 PM

I am very excited about an ice cream themed set of printables that I have posted on my new Teachers Notebook store.  The clipart is from

KPM Doodles. The set includes a class book cover, a black and white class book page, a color class book page, a pocket chart graph question, a number 1-10 puzzle, a pocket chart for shared reading, a set of color word matching cards, and the numbered ice cream cones pictured below. The set is available HERE The ice cream bowls and spoons pictured came from the Dollar Tree.  The "sprinkles" to count are tiny pom poms.





New ABC Centers

Posted by Eilis on August 2, 2012 at 11:25 AM

I am working on turning some great "pins" into some actual ABC center activities.  I just love this idea where the kids match upper and lowercase letters on the wheels of cars.  I changed the activity a little by purchasing cute car cutouts, adding alphabet stickers to the wheels, and cutting off one wheel.  The kids will be putting the correct lowercase wheel on the car with the corresponding uppercase wheel.  (Another option would be to cut the cars in half.)

I found the cars at my local teacher supply store, but they have them at Amazon.

I also made an alphabet stamping printable.  I have seen this on many different teacher blogs (including THIS one), but decided to make several printables to use and share them here.  There are both upper and lowercase versions.


Letter Stamping 1                                         Letter Stamping 2

Letter Stamping 3                                         Letter Stamping 4

Letter Stamping 5                                         Letter Stamping 6

Here are some stamps at Amazon:


And here is my favorite new ABC center:

I just put some colorful letter beads (one of each letter of the alphabet) and rice in an empty water bottle.  I will have the kids color in these alphabet letters as they find the beads.  Pretty tricky letter practice....

You can print the Alphabet Sheet HERE.  The printable is two pages (one uppercase and the other lowercase).

As always...if you print anything from here, I would love a comment or a Facebook Like.


Farm it Maybe

Posted by Eilis on July 27, 2012 at 12:20 AM

Have you seen this adorable youtube video called Farm it Maybe?  Some brothers and cousins made it about their lives on a family farm.  I am looking forward to sharing it with my students when we do our farm unit this year.

What 88 cents will buy

Posted by Eilis on July 24, 2012 at 7:15 PM

I stopped by the Back to School aisle at Walmart today.  All I can say is WOW.  I got each of the items pictured below for 88 cents!

The stamp says "Sign Here." 

And... I also picked up a few packages of washable markers for 50 cents each and glue sticks for 10 cents each.

I am a happy teacher.


We're Having Fun in Pre-K

Posted by Eilis on July 21, 2012 at 3:00 AM

I have been looking for a book to read to my students at the beginning of the school year.  I wanted something fun and simple that would touch on classroom routines and expectations in Pre-K.  I never found exactly what I wanted, so I made my own.  I used adorable clipart from KPM Doodles.

If you print this book, please leave some comment love - thanks


A few of the pages are shown above.  You can print the book HERE.

Here is another version of the book using the word PRESCHOOL instead of Pre-K.


Dr. Jean

Posted by Eilis on July 19, 2012 at 7:35 PM

I am one very motivated Pre-K teacher today.  Why?  Because I have just completed three great days of professional development at Region 4 in Houston.

 Dr. Jean was the speaker (ALL DAY) today!  Yes, I do know how lucky I am. (That's me in the picture with her)  I have always loved Dr. Jean's music, website, and more recently her blog and youtube videos.  I expected to enjoy today.  Dr. Jean's presentation completely exceeded my expectations.  She has so much energy and really wants to share her ideas with teachers.  If you ever have the opportunity to see her present, run don't walk.  

In the mean time, I am sure she wouldn't mind me showing you a couple of great ideas that she shared today.

In this picture she had us put a rubberband around our wrist and then put it around the pen or pencil in our grip.  It gives amazing support for kids who have a hard time holding a pencil correctly. She said that Silly Bands would actually be better, but we were working with what was available.  I will definitely be trying it.

And she also showed us a fun way to assess whether students know their shapes, colors, letters, etc.  She put a sheet of paper with the relevant information inside a zipper plastic bag.  Students move the zipper up and down stopping by the letter (shape, color, etc.) that the teacher calls out. How simple and fun is that ?!

Well, I am not going to give away all her wonderful ideas.  Be sure to check out her blog and website for the new ones she adds all the time.  But before I go...I have to show you my new, autographed Dr. Jean CD!

Color Mixing Bottle

Posted by Eilis on July 6, 2012 at 10:55 AM

Why would I spend $1.25 on one bottle of water at the grocery store?  Because it will be so cool as a discovery bottle.  The brand is VOSS and apparently the water is from Norway.  The bottle is 16.9 fl. oz. I tried it for a reusable yellow/red color mixing bottle that I saw here and wanted to make for my classroom. They used wax shavings or tempera paint.  I actually cheated and just used red food coloring in water for 1/3 of the bottle and canola oil (yellow) for another 1/3.  When shaken, the mixture is a pinkish orange. (If you just shake it gently, you see red bubbles in the yellow oil which is another cool thing for the kids to observe.)

I do like the bright orange color better and I plan to make one with paint soon.  As always, I will hot glue the lid on to prevent spills.  I am thinking about moving the contents of all my old discovery bottles into these VOSS bottles because they just look scientific. The two clear adhesive labels were very easy to remove. These plastic bottles will also be more compact to store.