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!

Morning Exploring

We enjoyed our FIRST rotation of Morning Exploring activities today! These activities are designed to strengthen fine motor skills while reinforcing math and literacy concepts. They also encourage teamwork! I am just thrilled with how successful our first rotation was!

Take a look:

Students use their thumb and pointer finger to grasp very slippery water beads and sort them by color.


Working together, students place numbers in order from least to greatest. They use clips to clip the number cards in order.


Students cut along the curvy lines.


Using pop beads, students measure the pictures of school supplies to see how long each is. They record their answer.


Students roll two dice. They add the dice together. Using tongs, students place that number of frogs on the lily pads.


VERY CAREFULLY, students use a pushpin to make holes that follow each letter in their name.


Students use a hole punch to punch a specific number of holes on each page.


Pop beads are used again…but this time students use them to extend a pattern.


After Morning Exploring was complete for today, I overheard a student say, “I can’t wait to do this tomorrow!” These are words every teacher loves to hear!


November Morning Exploring Tubs

Though the month of November is quickly coming to a close, I wanted to share with you the November Morning Exploring tubs and the concepts they cover. The students could not get enough of these tubs…all of the little manipulatives were very exciting to them! The explanations for each tub are above the images.

Tub 1: Students choose a number from 0-20. The then link together the three different ways to show the value of that number. These ways include a ten or double-ten frame, tally marks, and pictures.



Tub 2: Using playdough, students fill in a ten frame to make a number. Then students must figure out how to complete the equation…who says kindergarteners can’t do algebra?!


Tub 3: Students use tweezers to choose a pumpkin. On the bottom of the pumpkin is a two digit number greater than 20. One student then spins the spinner, deciding on “greater than” or “less than.” Students must compare their numbers, and the student whose number matches the spinner gets to keep the pumpkins.


Tub 4: Students choose a High-frequency word and spell it using letter cards. They link the letters together to spell the words.


Tub 5: Students chose a number card and build the number using sunflower seeds.


Tub 6: Students follow the outline of the acorn with small stickers and then count up the total number of stickers used. The children LOVE using stickers and peeling and sticking is great for fine motor development!


Tub 7: Students choose a turkey container and count the number of glass beads inside. They record the two-digit number.


Tub 8: Students dig through a small sensory bin to find leaves. On the leaves are high-frequency words. Students read the word and match the leaves to their play mat.

I can not believe that in three short days, December will be here! It’s time to switch out the Morning Exploring Tubs!

October Morning Exploring Tubs

October is already half-way over, and I haven’t yet shared the October Morning Exploring tubs! There are some FUN thematic activities this month!


Tub 1: Students choose a number card. They then build that number in a ten frame using pumpkins. Read more about why the concept of the ten frame is important:


Tub 2: Students us a die or two dice to roll a number. They then build that number on the spider web mat using tweezers and flies…eewww! With this activity, students are not only strengthening their fine motor skills, but they are practicing several math concepts including addition and number sense.


Tub 3: Students identify a number on the candy jar and then fill the jar with that number of candy corn. Besides building fine motor skills, students are recognizing numbers and demonstrating both one-to-one correspondence and number sense.



Tub 4: Students count the number of pumpkins in each container and record their answer. This activity reinforces counting as well as number writing.


Tub 5: Students match a number to the correct ten or double ten frame and then clip the cards together. Squeezing the clothespin strengthens fine motor skills. Students are also identifying numbers, counting, and demonstrating number sense.


Tub 6: Pokey Pins! Students use a push pin to poke holes along the outline of either a ghost or a pumpkin, making this fun light-up design! This activity works on strengthening fine motor skills.


Tub 7: Students pick a pattern card and then use tweezers to make the pattern. They are working on AB, ABC, ABB, AAB, and AABBCC patterns.


Tub 8: Each student has a number book with teen numbers. They use a hole punch to punch that number of holes on each page. This activity demonstrates number sense and one-to-one correspondence and strengthens fine motor skills


Tub 9: Students use links to measure Halloween themed items. They record the number of links long each item is on the picture card.

Mornings are delightfully busy in kindergarten!


Morning Exploring, Spring Edition

We are enjoying the final few rotations of our spring themed Morning Exploring tubs. Besides strengthening fine motor skills, these tubs continue to build both math and language arts concepts.

Students use mini stickers to follow the outline of an umbrella. They then count how many stickers they used.

Students extend the cottontail’s pattern using tweezers.


Students use tweezers to locate raindrops in plastic grass. They then solve the word puzzles each raindrop makes.


Students use a bunny hole punch to illustrate addition equations.


Students dig in therapy putty to remove colored beads, which they sort and graph.


Students choose a number card and place that number of ducks in the pond. They then write the two numbers that come before their chosen number.

Students choose a container and sort the erasers by carrot and bunny. They count the number of each and record that number in the coordinating box, writing an addition equations. Students then solve the equation.


Students create raindrop number bonds.


Students play a game of greater than or less than when they choose a duck, read the two-digit number, spin the spinner, and compare their number to their partner’s number.

Subtraction: Dinosaur Style!

We began exploring the concept of subtraction last week using the song Five Green and Speckled Frogs. I had frog volunteers help me sing and act out the song. When it was time to jump into the pond, my helpers jumped back to their spot on the carpet. We revisited the song again today.

We also explored the concept of subtraction using a number line. I made a number line on the floor using blue painters tape and a sharpie. I wrote the numbers 0 through 12.

Next, I gave students a number on which to start and then a number to take away.  The students then had to walk the number line and solve the equation.

This was great practice for the independent Math Journal activity I had planned where students solved subtraction equations independently and recorded their answer.  To add some dinosaur flair, students used a plastic dinosaur to jump backward along the number line.

There was a lot of thinking going on!

Dinosaur Sensory Table

I rolled out the sensory table today. Thank you, Mr. Surber, for loading it on the U-haul truck and bringing it to our temporary classroom! I filled the table with a new item and thought it would be fun to have the students guess what that item was….

Beans! 50 pounds of beans! What better to dig in for our dinosaur unit, then beans! Today, the students dug in the beans to uncover double tens frames.

They counted the number of squares that were colored in and found the corresponding number on the worksheet.

November Morning Exploring

The new Morning Exploring tubs are a hit, with nine fall themed fine motor, math and reading activities for the children to explore.

Using playdough and a ten frame, students complete equations.

Students extend complex patterns using acrylic leaves.

Students build high-frequency words using links and letter cards.

Students match numbers, items, and tally marks, and link them together.

Students count items and record the number. This activity works with the teen numbers.

Greater than or less than….students choose a pumpkin that has a two digit number on it. They spin the spinner to choose greater than or less than….and then they compare numbers. The winner gets both pumpkins.

Pom pom counting: Students roll a die and use chopsticks to move the number of pom poms to their turkey bucket. The winner is the person who has more in their bucket.

Students choose a card with a number on it and fill in a tens frame using acrylic leaves. Next, they write the number that comes before and after.

Using tongs, students pull out leaves and read the high-frequency words that are on each leaf. They then match the leaf to their game board.

Terrific Ten Frame

In math this week, students have been exploring the ten frame. A ten frame is simply a graphic way for students to see numbers.


This ten frame shows the number eight.

We started the lesson with some fun activities on the Smart Board where students had to build numbers less than ten.

Then students had to look at a ten frame and identify the number of dogs in the frame.

As an extension, I asked students if there were five dogs in the ten frame, how many empty spots were there? Five of course! This paved the way for our next activity that I like to call Spill the Beans. Each student received a cup with ten beans that were white on one side and orange on the other. They were to shake up the cup and spill out the beans, sorting them into groups according to color. Students then recorded how many orange beans they had and how many white beans they had.  They colored in the number of orange beans on the ten frame. Finally, students wrote and solved the addition equation.

So what exactly does a ten frame teach? Ohhhh….so many concepts!

First, students learn number sense. It is through this number exploration that students learn the value of each number. For example, if numbers don’t fill one row, then the number is less than five. If the numbers fill more than the first row, the number is larger than five. Number sense is key to students’ success in advanced math.

Second, students look at numbers as sums including five. Students make the numbers to 10 and write them as composites of 5 and another number: i.e., 8= 5 + 3.

Third, students look at numbers in the context of ten. In other words, by using a ten frame, they figure out how many are needed to add to 6 to make ten. This will later help students decompose addition greater than ten: i.e., 8 plus 8 is 8 plus 2 plus 6, or 16.

In short, a ten frame can be used to build number sense, help students gain “mental math” fluency, and to better understand how to use the math strategies of “composing and decomposing” numbers, to complete operations over places (i.e., from tens to hundreds, or thousands to hundreds.) Go ten frame! Wait until you see the math centers I have planned for the students!

October Morning Exploring Tubs

With a new month comes new Morning Exploring Tubs! You might remember that these are a new addition to the kindergarten classroom this year. Each tub has a fine motor focus as well as a math activity. The best part is many of the activities can be differentiated to meet students’ levels. Nine new activities were introduced today.

Dig through the spiders and match the number to the tens frame.

Link the candy corn numbers in order from least to greatest.

Roll the die (or dice for a challenge) and add that number of flies to the spider web using tweezers.

Trace the outline of the pumpkin using small stickers and count up how many it takes to go all the way around.

Dig the eyeballs out of the putty and sort them by color.

Choose a container of pumpkins and count how many there are inside. Record that number.

Choose a number card and build that number using a tens frame, pumpkin counters, and tweezers.

Use a push pin to poke holes along the black lined design. Create a design that lights up when placed in a window.

Teen number punch: Use a hole punch to punch the number of holes listed on each page.

The The students absolutely LOVED these new activities!