Kindergarten Teacher


Toontastic App Is Now FREE


Google has acquired one of my favorite storytelling apps and it is now FREE (was $9.99)  If you don’t already own this app grab it and get those kids creating. Listed below are a few posts I have made previously about the app and you can read about the announcement here

Toontastic and MLK

Toontastic App 101

Toontastic Storytelling App


Another 50 Online Readers (with audio)

Here is another 50 readers from Unite For Literacy (find the first 50 here)

They work on the iPad, read to the kids, and are available in various languages.

Set 2 click here or click on the picture below

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50 Online Early Readers (with audio)

I found an awesome website that has over 100 early readers with audio! The site is Unite For Literacy and I took the first 50 of the books and created a Symbaloo webmix for my class. The best part is these books work on the iPad as well! I will make another webmix of 50 more books soon.

Find the Webmix here or click the picture below-> Unite For Literacy Books #1

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Classroom Terrarium: Insects, Gastropods and Crustaceans ! Oh My!


I have discussed on several occasions about having living centers in the classroom (read more here.) This year I found the best terrarium ever so I felt I needed to share it as well! It is made by National Geographic and already has been a major hit in the classroom (you can find it here.) I know it seems expensive but after four years of using about every type of enclosure out there I can say this one is worth the money (I purchased the 30″x12″x12″ size.) The light is separate but any LED aquarium light will work. I love the dimensions of this terrarium because it allows me to place it on a table and still leave room for the kids to work. Most enclosures this long are also very wide and tall and take up too much space. I found this one to be perfect. To set up any terrarium I suggest putting a thin layer of pebbles as a base and then at least 2-3 inches of potting soil. I also add a heating mat on each terrarium, typically I stick it on the back side like in the picture above. Add a few rocks and twigs or old wood and you are set. We keep just about everything we catch in the terrarium. This year it has mealworms, crickets, beetles, snails, roly polies, grub worms, a small gecko, a small frog, and a caterpillar. The easiest thing to start with are mealworms, snails, and crickets. Crickets and snails are the best in my opinion because they are always moving and give you plenty to watch. This year the first day of school we went outside and caught a bunch of bugs for the terrariums (we have three in the room.) The kids learn so much from watching these living centers. Feeding the creatures is easy, they all love fish food. I of course add various fruits and vegetables so that we can watch them decompose. These are easy to find in the lunchroom, the kids waste so much food! There is also a fake turtle in the terrarium. The kids are still trying to figure out if it is living or not. Most of them think it is fake but I move it each day so they aren’t quite sure. I do this on purpose so they can learn the correct science words of living vs non-living. Right now they all ask if it is real and I simply respond “it is really there.” Won’t be long until they figure it out!

Listening center at one of the terrarium tables.


Look at what we all caught the first day of school!


This is a mealworm and the beetle it changes into after a few months.








We even had a praying mantis for a few days. I was worried it wouldn’t survive so we let it go after two days.



iPod Listening Center Setup


This year I will be using an iPod for our listening center (any version of the iPod or an old iPhone will work for this.)  I have over 70 listening centers on CD and I hope moving over to the iPod will help me streamline the process and make my class more independent. The first step is converting all the CD’s to audio files and getting them into my iTunes library. If you read below I have the step-by-step process I used to do this.

Each week I plan to add one set of books to our listening center. This year I will be using wireless headphones from Califone and I will post a review about them after my kids have used them for a few weeks. Since the iPod is connected to the wireless headphone transmitter all four headphones will play the audio from the iPod. After they have their headphones they will open the iPod Music app and search to find the title of the book in our playlist (the playlist only has books.) There are 70 titles as I mentioned so I expect this to be difficult for them at first. As they get practice I know they will learn how to use the book to help them find the correct title in the playlist and hopefully learn about ABC order in the process. Once the story starts they can sit anywhere in the room and listen to the story!

Adding CD’s to iTunes and the iPod! 

Step 1: Open iTunes (without any device plugged in) and go to the music section. On the bottom left click the plus sign to create a new playlist. You can call the playlist whatever you like, I made mine classroom books.


Step 2: Insert a audio book CD. When I do this I get the following pop-up message. Click Yes. If the pop-up doesn’t show up see step 2A

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Step 2A: If the above step worked skipped this step. If you did not get the message above click import CD instead.


Step 3: Once the CD starts importing I always unchecked all the boxes except the first one. I only wanted the audio with turn the page signals which was the first file on every CD I imported. Some had other files as well. You can decide which files you want to download by checking unchecking them, just do it quickly before they all download. My main reasoning for only keeping one file is so that it would be easier for me to manage in the playlists. After the download was complete I then ejected the CD (red arrow)


Step 4: Add the book you just imported to the playlist you created in step 1. In the main search bar of iTunes (top right) search the book title or author you just downloaded. When found click the small arrow on the right side to get this drop-down box below. Click “Add to” and then click on the name of the playlist you created.


Step 5:Insert a new CD and repeat the process! See step six for syncing iPod once you have all the books imported.

Extra Tip: Two of the CD’s I entered did not have the title of the book automatically imported. This is easy to fix. Go to your playlist and click twice on the name of the book. You will be able to edit the title of any of the books. Also, many of the books had the title plus “with page signals” or other text in the title. I deleted all the that extra to make it easier for my class.

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Step 6: Plug in your iPod or iPhone to sync.

Red Arrow: click the correct device. Black Arrow: click music Blue Arrow: click sync music Green Arrow: click sync selected music Orange Arrow: click the name of the playlist you created Click Sync!



Photo Tour of My Class 2014

The first few pics are taken with the GoPro to get a wide-angle. If you have questions about anything just let me know.


The science shelf. Kids have access to the globe, hand lens, goggles, balance scale and various other tools any time.


We have seven classroom computers and two windows! I would give up the computers before the windows.


This is from the back corner looking towards the doorway


The view from my desk. The table that is closest to the camera is what I use for teacher table


The view from our doorway looking in


Every table in my room is assigned a color. The kids do not have assigned seats or assigned centers the colors just help for organization in general.

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Math tubs


The panoramic


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