The Hungry Thing

Just like I love using children’s literature to teach social-emotional skills, I actively use books to teach academic concepts! One of my favorites is “The Hungry Thing.”

When a Hungry Thing comes to town, he is very hungry! He asks for common food items using different beginning sounds, causing the townspeople to have to figure out what it is he wants. This book helps students develop a very important reading skill called phonological awarenessPhonological awareness is the ability to recognize and manipulate the spoken parts of words, including syllables, onset–rime, and phonemes. Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words. For example, the Hungry Thing asks for “shmancakes.” The townspeople wonder what are shmancakes?! They soon realize that “shamncakes….sounds like fancakes…sounds like pancakes…!”

Students delight in listening to this story over and over again! This naturally leads to many, many activities that help develop and strengthen students’ phonological awareness. We play listening games, like:

“Count the number of words in this sentence: The Hungry Thing Came to Town.” (5)

Or “Tell me what word is missing: He wore a sign around his neck. He wore a _____ around his neck.” (sign)

“Do these words rhyme? hamburger/shamburger?” (yes)

“Say Gum. What word rhymes with gum?” (mum, tum, lum…)

“How many syllables do you hear in pancake?” (two)

“Leave out a syllable. Say townspeople without people.” (towns)

“What is the first sound you hear in the word cereal?” (/s/)

“What is the last sound you hear in the word chicken?” (/n/)

“What sound is in the middle of the word gum?” (/u/)

“What word does this make? /wh/ /ea/ /t/?” (wheat)

“Tell me the sounds you hear in the word chicken.” (/ch/ /i/ /ck/ /e/ /n/)

“Let’s change some letter sounds. Say cookies. Instead of /c/ say /l/.” (lookies)

Another activity is feeding the Hungry Thing rhyming words. Students choose a set of picture cards that rhyme. They say the rhymes and then feed the Hungry Thing!

Students can then illustrate their own food item, but they have to change the initial sound when feeding it to the Hungry Thing! So pizza may become feetza!

For added fun, I created this quick art project. Students use one color marker and make a scribble monster. Then using a black marker, they add hands, arms, legs, and feet. I found these cute stickers that

the students use for eyes and a mouth. Look how fun their creations are!

The next step, to make the Hungry Thing relate to our lessons, is for students to choose a food item for their Hungry Thing to eat. Can you figure out what they ate?

I am beyond excited about how these turned out!!

This book, “The Hungry Thing” provided my students with so many different learning opportunities. Students looked at “syllable soup” to identify how many syllables each food item has. They also identified the beginning sounds of the food items!

You can play this game at home! Have your child grab a food item from the pantry and practice feeding the hungry thing on a stick (included in your Friday Folders this upcoming week.) It won’t eat cereal…but pereal. No bagels…but snagels!


First Days Read Alouds

Those first days of school can be filled with lots of teacher talking and procedure learning. Why not make it a little more fun by adding engaging read-alouds each day?! Students LOVE listening to a good book, and I LOVE reading a good book! Here are some of the stories I have or plan to share with my students:

1. “Don’t Hug Doug”

I use this story to introduce greetings, keeping our hands/feet to ourselves, and boundaries/consent. Each day, when they enter the classroom, students have the opportunity to choose from eight different greetings. Some of these greetings include a high-five, a bow, a micro finger wave, and a hug. The students let me know which greeting they prefer, and we start the day by honoring their choice.

2. If Everybody Did

In this funny book, we see the hysterical consequences of everybody doing their own thing. This read-aloud provides a great opportunity for us to begin exploring classroom expectations. What if everybody shouted my name because they needed help? What if everybody ran in the classroom? To keep students engaged during this read-aloud, I sometimes have them all try it out….”Everybody tell me your favorite color.  One, two, three…..” It becomes clear that if everybody talks at the same time, I have no way of hearing anybody!

3. “Boo Who”

This is the sweetest story that encourages inclusion. “Boo is new. And even if the other kids are welcoming, it can be scary being new, especially for a shy ghost who can’t play any of their games. (“You tagged me? Oh, sorry. I couldn’t feel it.”) Can Boo find a way to fit in and make friends with the rest of the group? From the creator of Rex Wrecks It! comes a funny story about feeling invisible — and finding a way to be seen and appreciated for who you are.” As we were reading, students brainstormed activities we could do that would include Boo.

4. “The Name Jar”

Names are so special and so important to who we are. In this story, a new student is struggling because her peers can’t pronounce her name. Having grown up with a challenging-to-pronounce first name, I am extra proactive in honoring pronunciations of students’ names. After reading this story aloud, students engage in many name activities.

Students make a name crown.

They graph the number of letters in their name.

They use a giant pokey pin to poke the letters in their name. This is great fine motor practice too!

Here is a link to the pins we use in class.

5. “Chrysanthemum”

This is another great book that celebrates unique names.

6. Elmer

“Elmer” is a must-read. I have read it the first week of school each year for the last 15 years!

“Elmer the elephant is bright-colored patchwork all over. No wonder the other elephants laugh at him!

If he were ordinary elephant color, the others might stop laughing. That would make Elmer feel better, wouldn’t it? David McKee’s comical fable about everyone’s favorite patchwork elephant teaches readers to be themselves and celebrates the power of laughter.”

After listening to this story, I walk students through creating a guided self-portrait using only a pencil. We then outline the image using a Sharpie. While I cut out students’ drawings, they glue colored pieces of tissue paper on white cardstock to make a patchwork background. Once dry, I take the self-portraits and glue them onto the patchwork creations, making a beautiful work of art!

Next week, I look forward to using literature to teach academic concepts….I will share more about this particular lesson soon!


New Year, New Learning Tools!

I just finished unpacking (and putting away!) ALL of the supplies I ordered for our upcoming school year!

Click the link below to watch me unpack!

I am very excited to begin using many of these learning tools. Take a sneak peek below:

Mini silicone tongs…these are super useful and a great help in strenthening fine motor skills. We use these tongs all the time during our Morning Exploring activities and during the sensory bin activities during Language Arts Centers. Because of the silicone, the mini hands really grip the item that the student is picking up, which means a lot less frustration since the items won’t fall out of the students’ grasp!

These markers are a brilliant invention for children who struggle to put on the marker caps. No more dried out markers or lost caps!

Pop-Its are well-loved in my classroom: students love to use them, and I love how hands-on they are. I ordered these ten frame Pop-Its that I know will be used daily!

How about these rainbow shaped alphabet Pop-Its?! I plan to have students use them during the independent learning activity during Literacy Centers. Using picture cards, students will pop the initial sound in words. For added differentiation, students will pop CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words and ultimately pop words with long vowels.

I am very excited to add a second light table to our Literacy Centers (and math centers too!) I ordered SO MANY light table manipulatives that will support a variety of reading and math activities. Transparent letters and numbers, pieces to build letters, transparancy film that I used to copy CVC pictures for students to spell…the list goes on and on!


I also purchased acrylic scatter that matches some of the themes we explore in kindergarten. These manipulatives can be used with the light table for solving math equations, counting syllables, mapping words, or building letters.

Oceans!         Dinosaurs!        Hearts!

On hiatus since COVID, I finally brought back the sensory table by creating individual sensory bins. Used as an independent center during Literacy Centers, I prepare five sensory bins so that each student in the group can have their own. I ordered so many fun bin fillers! The colorful straws are a two-for-one activity….students will first cut the straws into little pieces as a Morning Exploring activity that strengthens fine motor skills. Then, I will use the little pieces in our sensory bins!

Stay tuned for a blog post regarding the new books I purchased for the upcoming year! I have so many new things to share!

100th Days Smarter!

It’s hard to believe we have been in school for 100 days already! That’s 100 days of friendship! We created a lovely coloring book where each student wrote an adjective to describe each student in the class. Look how cute these turned out!

With 100 days of learning achieved, we of course had to celebrate this milestone! So, I set up six 100-themed centers!

Students stacked 100 cups.

Using stickers, students made a crown, placing ten stickers on ten strips of paper.

I LOVE how these turn out every year!

We love beading in kindergarten! At this station, students used ten different colored beads to make ten groups of ten for a fancy necklace.

The 100th Day is a perfect time to play with the 100 chart. I copied these on cardstock, laminated them, and then cut them up like a puzzle. This station was easy to differentiate, as I could make it more challenging by cutting the grid into more pieces!

Students worked to write 100 rhyming words….nonsense words are allowed!

Finally, students used 10 different colored polka-dotters to fill up a gumball machine with 100 gumballs!

Our school tradition is to have each student EK-4 bring in a collection of 100 items. Take a tour of the collections the kindergarteners brought in:

Here’s to 100 more! (Just kidding….we have about 65 days of school remaining!)

Dino Day 2023!

Dino Day 2023 was a roaring success! We started the morning by welcoming our families into the classroom to witness firsthand the kindergartener’s hard work throughout these past six weeks.

The student’s reactions to the classroom makeover were precious!

Each student’s research report was laid on each table, with their dinosaur sculpture, a dinosaur stuffie they designed and sewed, and an iPad so parents could watch their child’s final project!

Here are some examples of the finished projects:

We used the website PebbleGo! for the research portion of the project. I then snapped pictures of each student’s artwork, sculpture, sketches, etc., and uploaded those to an app called Shadow Puppet. Students decided on the order they wanted their pictures, and then they read the information they had researched. I just love how the final project turned out!

After we finished with the parent share part of the morning, we started our Dino Day learning centers. To be official paleontologists, students had a safari hat and a special badge!

I also prepared a packet for each paleontologist to use at specific centers.

As always, I created a visual organizer to help students find their way to each activity. Take a look at what we did:

For more details about each center, read on!

The dino craft station was dinosaur scratch art. The students ALWAYS love scratch art!

The Dino Dig center was nice and messy! Students chose a dino egg and then chiseled it away. After all their hard work, they unearthed a dinosaur!

Next up, students used pattern blocks to create dinosaurs. For an added challenge, they counted, tallied, and recorded the type of pattern blocks they used.

After that, students met with me to create dinosaur sticker stories. They each chose an entire sheet of stickers to create a story! Once the stickers were selected, students wrote a story. Any extra stickers were used to decorate their safari hats!

Lastly was the dinosaur toss, where students tossed bean bags through numbered holes and then wrote and solved addition equations. They had SO much fun with this center!

We ended the day with a herbivore and carnivore feast! Students watched each other’s presentations for the first time while snacking on veggies and dino nuggets.

There were big smiles all around! I have to say I was super impressed with the amount of veggies (fruits!) that were eaten!

We have just a week and a half more of this unit. Next, the kindergarteners will dive into learning about the oceans!


The kindergarten class is enjoying our third week of learning about dinosaurs! For Friday Fun, I prepared a fine motor-focused project that used balloons, water, mini dinosaur figurines, and pipettes!

The students LOVED it!

They squeezed…

and squeezed…


a little dinosaur “hatched!”

This is a quick and easy project you can do at home! Simply grab a balloon (full-sized, not water!) and blow it up. Hold the air in it for thirty seconds to stretch out the shape. Let the air out and then use your fingers to spread open the balloon. Push a small plastic dino figurine into the deflated balloon. Fill the balloon with water and tie it off. Place in the freezer for 24 hours or more. Then, remove it from the freezer. Cut a hole in the balloon and have your child remove the balloon. Provide a cup of warm water and a pipette or turkey baster. Then watch as the egg melts away, and the dino is revealed! The repetitive squeezing of the pipette is the perfect way to strengthen fine motor muscles!



Candy Land Day!

We ended our Gingerbread Literacy Unit with an exciting and engaging Candy Land Day!

Students visited Cupcake Creek, Licorice Lagoon, Lollipop Woods, Gummy Cave, and Gumdrop Hills.

Three of the activities were independent activities, while two were teacher-led.

Cupcake Creek was an independent activity where students matched a CVC word to a picture, and the end result was a bunch of yummy cupcakes!

At Licorice Lagoon, students had to construct a way to get the Gingerbread Girl across the lagoon without falling in. First, they planned and sketched their design. Then they built their contraption, and finally, they tested it! “Run, run, run! With a leap and a twirl! You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Girl!”

Lollipop Woods was a “write the room” activity where they walked around the room in search of incomplete sentences. Students read the sentence and then solved and recorded the mystery word. Here is an example:

Students wrote the CVC words cat and vet.

After Lollipop Woods was Gummy Cave. At Gummy Cave, students used dice and gummy bears to solve equations. This station was easily differentiated, as students could use multiple dice to add more of a challenge. They also could record their equations. But the most challenging part of this activity was using the gummy bears as manipulatives and not eating them!

The final stop was Gumdrop Hills! Students had to construct the tallest tower using toothpicks and gumdrops. I loved watching their creativity and building processes!

Once students completed each of the activities and “won” the game, it was time for a celebration! What better way to celebrate than with these adorable cookie pops!?

Such a fun learning-filled day!



Kindness Land

As part of our Gingerbread Literacy Unit this year, I decided to add more of a general candy theme. In fact, instead of having a gingerbread-themed party at the end of this week, I am planning a Candy Land-themed one! Over break, I started thinking about my favorite game as a child- Candy Land. I also was brainstorming how I could encourage kindness in our classroom. I came up with the idea of “Kindness Land!” I created a game board on a bulletin board with the hopes of recording specific acts of kindness.

I introduced the game to the students two weeks ago. Since then, I have read aloud a book a day that focuses on ways to be kind. Some of the titles I have shared include Finding Kindness, by Deborah Underwood, Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, The Smile that Went Around the World, by, Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Day by Emily Pearson, the 12 Days of Kindness by Jenna Lettice, and Kindness to Share from A-Z by Todd Snow.

Look at our progress:

The students do not know it yet, but once they reach the finish line, I have a sweet candy bracelet kit that they will each make and wear on Candy Land Day!

Busy Little Elves

In lieu of Friday Fun, students were surprised with the annual kindergarten Elf Workshop! When they walked into the classroom in the morning, each student had a special elf hat on their table..accessories always make learning more fun! Ms. Barker and I got into the theme as well!

After a quick tour of the workshop, we had no choice but to get right to work!

I organized the activities once again using our Smart Board.

And the busy elves were off to complete five activities!

At “Deck the Halls,” students had to match CVC words to pictures.

The “Gift Wrapping Station” had students wrapping homemade holiday gifts for their loved ones. This sweet gesture also is a great fine motor builder, so parents, let your children help wrap gifts at home! The folding of the paper, the manipulation of the sticky tape, the physical pressure the fingers use to complete these tasks help strengthen those little finger muscles!


“I Spy an Elf” was a reading activity, where students used a magnifying glass to read CVC words that were written in teeny tiny print, that even with the glasses and the magnifying glass, I still couldn’t make out!

The fourth rotation included puzzle building, where students assembled puzzles of mystery holiday toys/gifts and then recorded their findings.

Lastly, students met with Ms. Barker where they used unifix cubes to measure actual presents! (not really…I just happened to have a lot of boxes from Black Friday purchases that I wrapped and decorated.) But, what fun the children had guessing what was inside each box!

We ended our Elf Workshop with a well-deserved rest by the fire…..


while I get the classroom ready for the next event…Candy Land Day!

50th Day!

Our 50th day of school fell on the day we returned from break last week! I had prepared the classroom before we left the week before, and the students were shocked to see the transformation.

My favorite comment was, “Wow, it really does look like a shake shop in here!” Not only did they love the decor, but they enjoyed seeing the morning attendance on the Smart Board. We jumped right into our 50th-day activities even before the morning bell rang!!

I took pictures of each little greaser in front of the 1950’s car.

Then the rotations began! I made sure to organize the activities using the same method that we use daily during our Literacy Centers…that way students were already familiar with the flow.

During my rotation, students participated in a writing activity:

Students learned how to blow a bubble gum bubble in another rotation. Would you believe that five of the students were able to blow a bubble?! That is a new record!

Students also had to create something using 50 LEGO bricks. I loved their creativity!

The Word Work station had students identifying the middle sound in CVC words. Each vowel was on a bubble that the students then matched to the card.

Even during our daily PE class, the children learned about the 1950s when they were taught how to hula hoop!

Our day ended with rootbeer floats!

Parents were invited to join in on the fun!

It’s the month of special days! Next up is Elf Workshop!