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Recognizing Student Achievement

I love recognizing the student achievement in my classroom. From hard work, a great attitude, to the most improved in a subject student achievement is important to celebrate.

There are many different ways to recognize students. Here is a small listing of a few ways I have used over the years in my classroom:

Phone Call Home
Calling home to parents at the beginning of the year is a great way to establish a connection with the families in your classroom. Random calls throughout the school year are especially important for families who you do not see on a regular basis.

Positive praise points
A simple kind word of recognition goes a long way to build character and encourage students in their learning. This is often the most effective and personalized way to acknowledge student growth!

Brag Tags
Brag tags are a fun way to recognize student behavior and learning in the classroom. Students can collect their tags throughout the school year or take them home nightly to share with their family! My students love earning these on a regular basis and it is a great motivator for helping in the classroom.


Students earn points through achieving learning goals or through positive behavior with classroom management programs like classroom dojo. Have students compete against themselves so that they see improvement and gains throughout the year!

Before or After School Chats with Parents
Children love it when they hear their teacher proudly share about all the great learning they are doing in the classroom. Parents know whether or not their child's teacher understands them and they love to hear about their child's growth. Instant feedback is a great way to do this!

End of the Year Awards
Student awards at the end of the year are one of my favorite ways of celebrating student achievement in a tangible way for kids to take home and share with their family the growth they have made throughout the year.

If you want to check out the end of the year awards I use to recognize my students click on the link below!

Kindergarten Fundraiser Ideas

We are always in need of a little extra cash for running our kindergarten program. Most of our fundraising goes towards our outdoor classroom. We are constantly finding new ways to make our learning environment more engaging and, to be honest, outdoor materials wear out a lot faster than our indoor materials.

1. Cupcake Sale
Make cupcakes as a class and sell them!

2. Art Gallery Fundraiser
Buy canvases of various sizes for students to paint at the Dollar store or local art store. Parents come to either purchase the paintings at a fixed price or auction them off. I've heard of action prices start at $20/piece. For a set price I have heard schools successfully sell the artwork for $25. At a fixed price, each parent can buy their own Childs art. Saying that there is more motivation to spend more at an auction.

3. Cookie & Lemonade Stand
Make some cookies with a favourite recipe or two! Make several drinks and sell them to the staff, school or parents at a special event.

4. Prepackaged Popcorn
Prepackaged popcorn is great for selling as there is no prep. Perfect for a nutrition break sale! You just need a place to store the boxes throughout the week.

5. Sell Popcorn to the School
Have a popcorn machine at your school? Put it to use!

6. Book Sale
Parents donate books they no longer need. Then, sell them to students and parents in the community. Students can learn lots by organizing the books!

7. Gift Cards
This can be done around the holidays or all year long. I've seen it successful at some schools and not work at all at other schools.

8. Basket Raffles
One for each class (allow each student in each class to pick a theme)
Christmas Basket
Easter Basket
* Be aware of local gaming licensing

9. Spaghetti Lunch
Make a meal together and sell a limited number of tickets. Looking for a staff meal for a Friday? This might work!

10. Label Fundraiser
Students always need to label their school supplies!

11. Bulb Sale
Perfect for organizing from January to March to help families prepare for the spring weather.

12. Cake Raffle
Our school loved this! The kindergarten teachers organized it and gathered parent volunteers from our kindergarten parents to help facilitate with the organization. We charged $1.00 for five tickets.

13. Movie Night
Although you cannot charge for watching a movie where I live, we can charge a minimal amount for pizza or popcorn. Although this fundraiser will not earn a lot of money, students and parents alike enjoy coming to spend time together at the school and be with friends! An average of $200 per night would be considered great.

14. Pizza Kits
This works best if it is sold to the whole school. Companies such as Little Caesars sell kits to schools!

What other ideas have you found work great for your school?

Welcoming Families To Kindergarten

Including parents in their Childs education is extremely important. Children feel more comfortable sharing about their school day when they know that their family understands what they area talking about! Parents feel more involved with the school and it becomes a more welcoming place.

I wanted to make a list of activities to invite parents in on a regular basis. Having something fun or exciting makes the activity a bit more engaging for families to want to participate. Our first invitation was for Stone Soup and we did not invite siblings as we knew the participation was going to be huge. Our suspicion was correct and our classes were bursting at the seams! In the future I will consider inviting younger siblings to help ease their transition into kindergarten!

The following is a list of the ideas that I would like to use in my classroom. Several of them I have used in my classroom already. I hope you find this list to be useful. As I come across new ideas I will be adding them.

Play Invitation
Invite parents to learn along with you as a natural part of the day. Some teachers do this quarterly, monthly or weekly. I know colleagues who have invited parents for the last 45 minutes of the day. Others invite them for the last block and I have even heard of a "drop in" style where parents are invited any time of the day to stay for 30-60 minutes at a time. "Welcome Wednesdays" and "Family Fridays" are two coined phrases I have heard of over the years to help parents remember when the visit days are scheduled.

Stone Soup
This is the very first family visit that we had in our class. Students bring in a vegetable and we made a soup together. During the last learning block, families were invited to eat with us and learn with us as we shared our soup! Click here to read about our stone soup experiences!

Games Day
Who doesn't love playing a game? Children love to play and harnessing this energy makes learning fun! Most games have many math concepts which support the math curriculum. Plus, the extra bonus of social/emotional development. Have families bring their favourite to play and swap for the afternoon with other families to learn a new game!

Puzzle Day
Families bring their favourite puzzle to school and build it together with friends. Share/swap with other families for a new challenge.

Math Event
Provide a variety of math games for parents to participate and learn along with their children.

Reading Invitation
Provide a wide variety of books from the library and invite parents to come in to read with their child a wide variety of books!

Baking Fun
Students bake something that they all can enjoy (we have many allergies in my classroom) and share with their visiting family members!

Class Concert
Practice a song or two and put on a concert for your families! Children love to perform and what can be better than an intimate concert? If you've already presented for an assembly, perform the same activity for the families!

Class Play
If your students have created a play, shown an interest in puppetry or love nursery rhymes this is a perfect opportunity to put on a show!

Inquiry Celebration
After an inquiry, students can show off all they have learned to their families!

Multicultural Food Day
Have families bring in a special food from their culture to share with others. Make sure they bring an ingredients list if there are allergies.

Build a Community
If your students have an interest in community helpers, 3D figures, maps or even treasure hunts this might be a big hit in your classroom! Have students create a community and show it off to others. This can be done with Lego, recycled materials or even as a mural that they create together. The options are endless!

Gingerbread Traps
The gingerbread man is on the loose in the school! Challenge parents to make a trap with their child in order to help catch him. When parents come the children can share how they created the trap with each other.

St Patrick's Day Trap
St. Patrick's is on the loose in the classroom! Challenge parents to make a trap with their child in order to help catch him. When parents come the children can share how they created the trap with each other.

Teddy Bear Picnic
Invite parents to a teddy bear picnic with their child. Bring your own food or make it a special event to share food.

Create Gifts
Teaching others to reach out to the greater community is a valuable lesson to teach even young children. We have hosted parents coming in to make crafts that we have donated to local senior homes in our community. Parents and children love to be a part of this and the seniors love to decorate their residence with gifts from our class! In the past we have made wreathes with patterned paintings of our hands and door hang decorations for during the holiday seasons.

Planning for Outdoor Learning in Kindergarten

I love collaborating with my other team members in our Kindergarten team and love that we can plan together for our outdoor learning. We have a team of 14 staff members so this is a big collaborative effort!

Our Outdoor Learning Schedule:
40 minutes of outdoor learning first thing in the morning with staggered entry for small group instruction.
40 minutes of outdoor learning at the end of the day.

This schedule provides less transitions in our day for students. They only have to undress once during the day and get dressed to go outside at the end of the day. We do not go outside for a recess but have two 40 minute nutrition breaks where students eat and then often do gross motor activities to help keep them focused for the day.

During outside learning each teacher has a "role" where we sign up for specific learning centres to engage students and others are floaters who help with runners, behaviour management and any students who may need bathroom breaks etc. All classes have two teachers, so we usually ensure that one team member is at a centre and the other is floating.

As a team we collaborate on a learning template very similar to what we use in our classroom. We try our best to ensure we hit as many learning opportunities that we possibly can based upon the interests that we notice while we are outside learning together. The following freebie shows a basic template that we use in our classroom and what we try to purposefully uncover while we are learning together. Click on the image to see it!

Learning Centres on our Plan
Science & Discovery
Paint & Visual Art
Gross Motor: Field vs. Tarmac
Fine Motor
Blocks & Building Materials

At first, one team member took minutes and we documented what learning activities were being provided and which room was responsible for it. This member would print the page and post it in our shed as well as post it in our school conference for all the team members to print.  We found this very purposeful but often found that we ran out of time for deeper collaboration together.

Google Drive To the Rescue!
In response to this need, we found it valuable to create a shared google document and all team members bring an iPad to add their ideas during our planning. This has allowed all of us to input our contributions quickly and we can all glance at the activities quickly and then are more purposeful in our discussions. Our meetings have been able to be more focused and we are all happy that we can go home quicker at the end of the day!

How does your planning differ? I'd love to learn how other teams collaborate together!

2D Shapes Videos

This list of videos is my "go to" for songs and activities to help teach my kindergarten students about 2D shapes. I hope you find it helpful! If you're interested in learning about a wide variety of 2D shapes and activities we use in our kindergarten class, feel free to check out this blog post here.

2D Shapes I Know!
Harry Kindergarten

Secret Agent Shapes

Shape for Kids
Jack Hartmann

Shapes are Everywhere!
Jack Hartmann

Sing Along Shape Songs

The Shapes Song

Getting in Shape with the 2D Shapes

Shapes Song

The Shapes Song

The Shapes Song 2
Kids TV 123

What Shape is it?

Colors and Shapes

Learn Shapes

Learning 2D Shapes in Kindergarten

I love exploring math through a wide variety of activities. Here is a sampling of many activities I have done throughout the years and a collection of other ideas from teachers I work with. Feel free to add any additional activities in the comments below!

Play Dough Stamping
Explore 2D shapes by comparing sizes of shapes, cutting them out with utensils and even try to see if the students extend this activity into patterning!

Play Dough Moulds
Have 2D shapes provided for students to see if they can copy them with play dough or to see if they can make a mould of it!

Building Challenge
Can you make a picture representation using a variety of different shapes?

Recycled Robots

Use recycled objects to build a robot. Host an art gallery when parents come to the classroom to show of their work. Share with learning buddies!

This is a What Game
In a circle, the shape is passed one child at a time. The teacher passes the shape to child one and says,
Teacher: "*Name,* this is a square!"
Student one: "A what?"
Teacher: "A square!"
Student one: "Oh! A square!"

Student one: "*Name,* this is a square!"
Student two to student one: "A what?"
Student one to the teacher: "A what?"
Teacher: "A square!"
Student one: "A square!"
Student two: "Oh, a square!"

Continue around the circle until everyone participates in the round. The teacher can vary their voice each time and students copy. It can be a lot of fun!

4 Corners - 2D Shapes Edition
Post images of 2D figures around the room. One student has their head down and the other students have 10 seconds to stand at a 2D shape. The student keeps their head down and calls out a 2D shape. All the students under the shape are out of the game and sit on the carpet. Then we have 10 seconds to rotate to a new shape. The game is over when either one student is left or a small number. I use the following activity to play:

Touch & Feel in a Mystery Bag
One student picks a shape from a bag. Using their senses, they can either describe the shape with what they know about it or the other students can ask them questions to try to guess what figure it is!

What Do I Have? 
In this whole group game, you need enough figures so each child and yourself has one and place them in the centre of the carpet. The teacher goes and takes one first and then the students do. The teachers is the "super shape" and students answer questions you pose for them. For instance, you may ask them, "How is your figure the same/different than mine?" Show your figure. Take turns, one student at a time, sharing how they are similar to your figure. (e.g., how many edges, points, is it curved, etc.)

Building Straws
What 2D shape can you make using building straws? Can you put multiple together to make something new?

Musical Shapes
Put a 2D shape into a bag. Play music and pass the bag around. When the music stops, students name the shape or some attributes of the shape.

Shared Reading
I love using poems to reinforce knowledge of concepts. It makes learning fun! This is the link to the poem I use:

Magpie Poem
We have a bird puppet who hides 2D shapes under a blanket.  We sing the following poem as the bird goes under the blanket to hide 2D shapes on the children.

 "A magpie came down my chimney one day. I wonder what he has taken away?"

After the poem is sung, the children have a chance to guess which object is missing! Add multiple shapes of different colours or sizes to change up the difficulty! We often have students who can easily figure out which shape is missing from a selection of 15 objects presented to them!

Environmental Shape Hunt
Look around the school with your classroom iPad and take pictures of objects around your school made up with different shapes. You can compare manmade vs nature outside. Print these images afterward and have a sorting activity with the images! You could even create a book with the images the students found.

2D Figure Puzzles
My students absolutely love puzzles. I have a variety of different puzzles of 2D shapes with images of everyday objects. Students match the shapes of the objects and then create the puzzles. These can be out as a provocation or provided as an art activity for them to glue and take home. Click on the images below to view:

Hide & Seek
Play a simple game where one shape is missing and hiding in the classroom. Can the children find it?

Name Change
Give students a sticker with a picture of a shape to wear for the day. That is their new name for the day!

Guess My Shape
Pair students together. One student has a label of a shape on their back and they can ask yes or no questions about the shape in order to guess what shape it is!

Mystery Item
Students can bring in a mystery item from home and the other students need to guess what the item is based upon simple questions about the shapes. For example, does it roll? Does it slide? Does it have six faces?

Straws & Pipe Cleaners
Add these to a provocation to see which shape the children can make on their own.

Plasticine & Straws
Create 2D shapes with plasticine. Add toothpicks as a provocation to see what shapes they can create by drawing int he plasticine.

Picture Provocations
Print out a variety of different photographs of various objects and buildings. Ask students what they see. Do you see 2D shapes or 3D figures? Which ones do you see?

Making Predictions
If you have access to an overhead projector, place a 2D shape based on the shadow. Use multiple shapes to make another shape or an image and have students guess which shapes are used.

Show & Share
After learning the shapes for a long time, host a special 2D shape day for each of the shapes you have learned! Students can bring something from home for each "special" day. For instance, on the "circle day" students may bring in a can lid, craft face or a sign! Then sort and compare objects that are brought in.

Can you build it? A Barrier Game
Provide a station for two students with a divider in the middle. Each child needs the same shapes. One student creates a picture/structure with their figure and then they instruct the second child how to build it. See if they can use the correct names or have them describe the shapes without showing the figures and only using verbal directions!

Snow Fun!
Use old recyclables or random objects to build and create in the snow (e.g., yogurt containers, applesauce containers, funnels etc.).

Stone Soup: Inviting Parents to Our Learning

This year we invited our parents to come and learn with us! It was a great experience and a way to build community.

We had read Stone Soup recently and decided as a class that it would a lot of fun to do this together. We ended up having so many vegetables donated to our class collection that we ended up making two soups. One was a potato leek soup and the other was a mixed vegetable soup. We made two versions to accommodate our students due to various allergies in our classroom.

I ended up borrowing my mothers food chopper. All hands were on deck to help out. From cleaning, chopping and adding the vegetables to our pots! The teachers cut the vegetables up into small manageable chunks and then students were able to press them into the chopper. 

We have three learning blocks in our classroom. Parents were invited to our third learning block. Students were learning at various learning centres and parents joined in. When they were ready to eat, they came and sampled our soup. 

The children were extremely proud to show off their learning. They showed of their learning portfolios and many included their parents in their play! Several students showed off how we do math talks to their parents, pretending to be a teacher as their parents participated in the learning as a student. 

Students and parents both enjoyed the experience and many parents were happily surprised to see their child eating and enjoying vegetable soup. We cannot wait to have more learning opportunities like this on a regular basis as we plan on doing this monthly!

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