Back to School!

Whoa! Thank goodness its September! I feel like a hamster that got caught on its wheel! August is always so crazy with back to school season!

This year I looped up from pre-k to K with most of my class. It made it so much easier to teach procedures and expectations, because 11 out of 18 kiddos already had our routines down pat and just needed a refresher! Of course, there is a down side to looping too - the kids have already heard all the songs, done all the dances, played with all the toys etc. So this year I really relied on Oriental Trading to help me change things up in the classroom! OT was kind enough to send me some products in exchange for an honest review - I've used everything in my classroom!

First up, an It's My Birthday Cape! In past years I've handed out the twisty straws with cute toppers, but I recently read that some of them can contain harmful chemicals. Rather than try to figure out which ones are okay, I opted to go with a birthday cape for the child to wear for the whole day. I had 3 birthdays during the 2nd week of school, and the kids loved the cape! It has a velcro closure, and sits low about the shoulders so it doesn't pull on their necks :)

ABCs Rubber Duckies - oh my goodness! Can they get any cuter?! Not only do I love them, so do the kids! I used these to help review the alphabet, then placed them in Letter Center for the kids to explore and they have had a blast trying to put them in ABC order, finding the ducks that spell their name and matching the ducks to different objects that start with the letter on the duck. I think I'll go ahead and buy a second set, so that we can use them to form even more words!

I love this All About The Number pocket chart! I added it into our calendar time, for a quick daily number sense review! The tens frame and tally mark part are dry erase, so each day I have students come up and fill them out according to our number of the day. One of the 1st grade teachers came in and saw it and loved it since her students last year struggled with "one more, one less" and this chart teaches that concept easily!

What makes playdough even more fun AND helps justify it to admin? Counting Mats! These are laminated mats so the play dough doesn't stick, and the kids love how colorful the mats are. These are also great conversation sparkers, so my students have been improving their vocabulary as they chat with each other about which mats they're working on!
For example, as this little sweetie was working on the #8 cookie jar mat, we talked about favorite flavors, times when we baked cookies and then worked on some number sense, counting how many cookies there were, how many were in the jar, how many were outside of the chair and how many would be left if some sneaky teacher ate 2!

Do you still teach 3d shapes? They took it out of our curriculum this year (which I found out AFTER I had gotten these 3D Geometric Shapes, grrr) I'm still going to use them, because while our Oklahoma standards only call for me to teach the 4 main 2d shapes, I feel my kiddos can handle more! These are great little manipulatives - and the box had more than enough for a complete set for all of my students! We're using them this week to learn sorting by more than one attribute!

And finally, this Following Directions Farm Game is perfect because next week we get to go on our first field trip of the year to the County Fair! It fits into my Farm Theme lesson plans so nicely, and I can use it in small groups and one on one! Not only is it great for the kids to practice following directions (put the cow next to the corn) it also helps them work on positional words! The thing I'm most looking forward to is getting my students talking after they have created their own scene with the cutouts. They're going to describe where they placed each figure and then practice giving each other directions based on the picture on the card!

Oriental Trading has definitely helped me start off the year on the right foot! I'm already looking at some more items to buy - my friend Kristen of Kristen's Kindergarten has been sharing some OT products in use on her Instagram page and has me saying "Oooh I need that!" lol!