Wednesday, July 26, 2017

10+ STEM Bin Ideas for Kinders!

Me: "What is your favorite thing about school?"
Students: "STEM! (and recess!)"

STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?
(affiliate links included)

I had a goal last year to bring more STEM into my classroom.  I looked over my classroom schedule and realized it was near impossible to fit this in and still teach enough ELA and math.  The kids went to STEM for specials once a week, but it was something they were really interested in.  I decided to do a DonorsChoose project to get some STEM items I could use in my classroom.  My plan was to use these as "morning work" when kids were entering school between 7:15 - 7:45.  I would also allow them to be options if we got Free Choice time on Friday's or other days.

These STEM bins were a huge hit.  They arrived late April and that was the first time all school year that no technology was used during free choice time!  This is what the kids want.  They want to build, create, test, and revamp!  I sat back and just watched their minds work.

Here are some items that are kindergarten tested & approved for STEM bins!

STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

2.  Legos
STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

7. K'NEX
STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

8.  Trucky 3
STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

STEM bins have become a daily activity in my kindergarten classroom.  The kids love the hands-on learning that they can do.  They create projects and use their imagination.  I am so glad that I have been able to integrate STEM into the schedule at my elementary school.  My kindergarten students love #1 and even convinced their first grade teachers to get it!  What is your favorite?

I can't wait to make these more than just buckets in my class this upcoming year.  I hope to integrate these STEM bins into all of my subject areas! What is your favorite STEM activity?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Best Books for the First Week of School

I love the first few weeks of school.  The students always seem so well behaved, eager to learn, and are soaking in everything!  My favorite thing to do during the first week of school is to read LOTS of books.  These are a few books that I consider must-reads for the first week of school!

This list of read-alouds is great for the first week of school with your kindergarten students!  These books and activities will help fill your school day when you head back to school.  My kids favorite is definitely number 2!


(affiliate links included)

  • The Kissing Hand - Follow-up Activity: Create a chart with all the students feelings about coming to school 
  • No, David! - Follow-up Activity:  Sort different behaviors into either a No, David or Yes, David column (ex: throwing a ball inside vs. throwing trash away)
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom  Follow-up Activity: Create a large display in your classroom with a coconut tree - have students add their names to it.  Have students create individual trees where they stamp their names onto the tree.
  • First Day Jitters  Follow-up Activity:  Make Jitter Juice!  Mix green punch with some sprite & serve to your students!
  • The Rainbow Fish - Follow-up Activity:  Create a chart showing ways to be kind to one another, create an act of kindness jar & place pebbles in the jar for each act of kindness you see - reward the class when they fill the jar up!
  • The Book with No Pictures - Follow-up Activity:  Make a slime -call it Blork or Bluurf - have your students play with it before filling out a chart talking about how blork/bluurf  smells, feels, looks, and sounds.
  • My Mouth is a Volcano - Follow-up Activity:  Practice different noise levels for your classroom - practice whisper voices, silent voices, partner voices, group voices, etc.
  • Kindergarten Rocks - Paint actual rocks - place them in areas around the outside of your school to brighten peoples day!
  • Chrysanthemum - Follow-up Activity:  Have students count how many letters are in their name - create a class graph!
  • The Night Before Kindergarten - Follow-up Activity:  Have a former student come in and answer any questions your students may have about kindergarten!
What are your go-to books for the first weeks of school?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Ideas for Flipgrid in a Kindergarten Classroom

I love summertime.  It gives me time to relax and learn about new tools for the classroom.  This summer I learned about Flipgrid.  Flipgrid is this really awesome platform where you create video grids around a question or a topic.  It then can be shared with your students, colleagues, PLN, etc.  Those people upload video responses.  You can then respond to responses and so on.  It is GREAT!

So, with all these new tools and platforms, I always want to know how it would work with my kinders.  I know that my kids are capable of doing anything they put their mind to, however, there are some technology tools out there that really are not very kinder friendly.  This one, Flipgrid, is!

I have found a new technology tool that I love for my classroom.  Flipgrid is a digital video message board that you can use with other teachers, your students, or globally.  Check out these ideas for how to use flipgrid in your kindergarten or elementary classroom!  I will definitely be doing 1-3!

Here are some ways to use Flipgrid in your Kindergarten or elementary classroom!


  • Book Reviews - Students upload a review of a book they read (you can even create a separate topic for each genre if you would like: non-fiction, poetry, fantasy, etc....that would be good for upper grades!)
  • Weather Reports - One of our big science standards is to understand weather and how it changes over time.  My kids will submit reports on the weather.  I hope to collaborate with classrooms across the country or globe to have them submit weather reports as well.  My kids could really see how weather is different all over the world!
  • Culture Reports - One of our big social studies standards if to understand how cultures are the same and how they are different.  I hope to have people from my PLN and classrooms around the globe add videos to a Culture Grid.  Topics will include food, clothes, traditions, etc.  We can then look through videos and learn about many cultures!
  • Genius Hour Pitches - Use this as a place for your kids to pitch their ideas for genius hour
  • PBL - Use Flipgrid as a place for students to reflect on PBL
  • Math Word Problems - I am going to let me my kids be the teachers!  They will submit a response where they state a word problem they create.  Students can then access the grid and solve their classmates word problems.
  • Writing Process - Create a grid with a topic for each part of the writing process - have students check in after each step!
  • Individual Portfolios - Create a topic for each individual student.  Let that serve as a digital portfolio for that student.  They can share any work on their individual Flipgrid topic that they would like - writing samples, word problems, counting, book responses, etc.
How are you going to use Flipgrid in your classroom?

Monday, July 17, 2017

End of Year Dress

Don't you love Pinterest?  I remember seeing a teacher who let her students design her dress and I knew I had to do that for my End of Year Celebration.

This activity is a keeper for years to come in my kindergarten classroom.  This dress is created by my students.  They made my teacher outfit for our end of year celebration.  See how easy this DIY dress is for classroom teachers!

I bought this plain white dress on Amazon (last minute decision, needed quick shipping!!), and it was perfect!  I was nervous about a white dress being too light, but this was great.  It also was cheap enough that if I couldn't get the markers to work with my kiddos, oh well! (affiliate link)

So, I brought the dress to school and wrapped it around a cardboard box so that the fabric was not doubled up anywhere.  I pulled out plain old sharpies, of course the rainbox pack, and called the kids over.  My directions were "draw"!  That is it.  Use color, make it as big as you would like, draw me a picture that I will love!  I rotated the dress until all the white space was filled.

 This activity is a keeper for years to come in my kindergarten classroom.  This dress is created by my students.  They made my teacher outfit for our end of year celebration.  See how easy this DIY dress is for classroom teachers!

 I let it dry overnight (not even 24 hours) and rocked it the next day at our end of year celebration.  It was a hit!
This activity is a keeper for years to come in my kindergarten classroom.  This dress is created by my students.  They made my teacher outfit for our end of year celebration.  See how easy this DIY dress is for classroom teachers!

I have already bought a few dresses for the years to come!  I can't wait for this to become an end of year tradition for me.  I hope I can hold on to the dresses & wear them when my kiddos graduate from 5th grade!


The 3 Big "To Do's" before heading Back to School

Ahh, summer vacation!  It is supposed to be relaxing and refreshing for teachers, right?!

I have a hard time turning my teacher brain off - I think it will always be on, summer, fall, winter, and spring.  It is just who I am.  Summer is a time for me to check some things off my list that stay there all year long.  These are the 3 things that I think should be at the top of every teachers summer to do list!

Every teacher loves a summer break, but we all know that the classroom and school are always in the back of our mind.  Here are 3 things that help me prepare when heading back to school and allow me to be organized for my next school year!  Number 1 is relaxing to me!

Toss It.  Wash It.  Update It.

1. Less is more - toss it!

Less is more! Tidy up your classroom space with these 3 simple back to school steps.  Get rid of that junk in your storage space and other easy things teachers can do over the summer to help prepare for a new school year!

 I recently went into a storage closet at my school that was filled with stuff from teachers over time.  I have not been able to utilize the closet as a teacher at this school for 3 years because it was that packed with items from teachers who don't even teach at the school anymore!  I think we all have a weak spot as a teacher when it comes to tossing things out - "I can use those empty tin cans for something!"  "Don't get rid of broken crayons or pencils that are snapped in half, you can use them for something!"  The truth is, most of that stuff sits around, and accumulates, and just wastes space.  Less is more - toss it!  Go through your items: closets, shelves, storage bins, filling cabinets - if you haven't touched it in the past 2 years, TOSS IT!   If you have used it in the past two years or know something you will use it for this year, keep it.  Trust me, it feels good to get rid of stuff.



2.  Germs be gone - wash it!
Yuck - I know the items in my classroom have been loved and used all year long!  All that loving, leaves lots of germs.  I wipe things down and clean things off all year, but there is something to be said for a good cleaning.  Take your bins, baskets, scissors, legos, toys, buckets, etc. and put them through the dishwasher and get those items clean.  Clear off your shelves (see if there is anything to toss *step 1), and WIPE THEM DOWN.  Get your room and items clean.  It will feel great!


3.  Refresh the look - update it!
Check your website, social media, blog, e-mail, class page, etc.  Make sure your content is up to date, clear out info that is no longer relevant.  Add more recent photos.  Look at your files, what is no longer relevant for these kiddos, update it, find something that will work better.  Take the time to make those small changes and you will be all set for the new year!

What is your must do before heading back to school?