Friday, January 1, 2016

Five New Resources for the New Year

What better time to find new resources than at the beginning of the new year? Some will save you money, some will make you money, some are good to share with your own students. I think you'll find a couple of goodies today. Thanks Doodle Bugs Teaching for a favorite Five for Friday linky!

1.  The folks from asked me to check out their website, and share as I saw fit. Well, I checked it out, and I see a LOT fit... a perfect fit for preK thru first grade, ELL and special ed teachers. The site contains tons of FREE resources that help teach sight words, phonemic awareness, and counting. And it is fully EDITABLE– you can choose from Fry and Dolch lists, or create your own word lists. You'll find games, flash cards, videos, and reference charts– truly worth checking out. Click on their icon below. Oh, and did I mention– all the resources are free, with nothing to buy on the site. Whoot!

2.  Do you know about Ziggedy? If you don't, you want to pay attention here. It is an EASY fundraising site that raises money for you to spend on your classroom to help defray the out-of-pocket costs that teachers experience all the time. It's super simple– sign up your classroom, then send invites to your classroom parents, your own friends and family members. After that, every time they shop on-line, a percentage of their purchase amount goes into your classroom account. It costs you nothing, it costs them nothing, and it only takes a click through Ziggedy before they put items in their carts to send money your way. They can even get a button that pops up telling them when they are on a site that will donate to their cause. And there are many commonly used retailers who participate in the Ziggedy program– Best Buy, Sears, Macy's, Lowe's, Office Depot and Staples, Kohl's, Walmart, Walgreens, Groupon, even travel sites like Orbitz and Travelocity. Here are two videos that explain it from the teacher and parent perspective.


I have earned approximately $40 this quarter by signing up and having just a few of my classroom families, and my own friends and family members sign up.  I should note here that Ziggedy is not like DonorsChoose which asks your families and friends for direct donations. (That is a great site btw and I got a set of rekenreks for my classroom, though I didn't really like asking people for donations.) On Ziggedy, regular shopping that people do anyway brings in money to the classroom, with no one spending any extra. Why wouldn't anyone let their regular shopping bring in money to classrooms? Click below to go to my referral page to find out more. Whoot Whoot!

One last thing. I am always a little skeptical of things that seem too good to be true, so I did a little digging into Ziggedy. It gets high trust ratings from all the sources I checked. They have also been very responsive to any questions I've had.

3.  Teachers and kids love picture books but Dragon and Captain is no ordinary picture book.

This picture book is a type of beginning graphic novel. Two boys, one who happens to love his dragon bathrobe and another who loves his three cornered hat, go off on an adventure that only they can see– except they let their young readers in on it, too. Writer Philip Allabach and illustrator Lucas Turnbloom do a great job of capturing the boys' imaginary world so that we see both their world of adventure and the ordinary world they live in. And they use all those great comic book devices to tell the story- speech bubbles, sound words, storyboard style with multiple pictures per page- anybody see a new mentor text here?? I have been saving this goodie until after break because this is the perfect book to not only teach about features of print but also a whole new genre. I think they're going to love it. AND the end papers are MAPS! I don't know about your kids, but every year my kids fall in love with maps and map making. This is going to be a hot feature of the book.

Anyone who reads regularly won't be surprised when I say this book is from Flashlight Press, one of my favorite small house publishers. I love all their stuff and have come to eagerly await those couple of new books they put out each year. Check. them. out.  And then go get your hands on a copy– I know our school librarian is going to be all over it as it fills a unique niche for kids who love comics. Great fun.  You can see my other book reviews for Flash Light Press by clicking on the "Books" label on my right side bar.

Click to see Flashlight Press books.

4. Coding, coding, coding. It's the wave of the future. I know very little about it, but as a teacher, even a kindergarten teacher, I feel a certain obligation to learn. In my learning process I heard about the site where there are various coding games you can play as you learn to code. My favorite– yes I played them– is the Star Wars game where you get to program for BB-8 and R2D2 to do various tasks... which help the rebel cause, of course. There is a video that explains a bit about coding and then it teaches you how to code using a block system. Great fun AND learning for you your students. It is recommended for kids six and up as there is some reading of directions. I shared this site with families to try, think it is a great site for kindergartners to go to with their big buddies from older grades, and also provides good challenge for my advanced students. There are many games on the site, including some that don't even need a computer. Check it out by clicking on the picture below.

5.  Weekend News is my last idea to share on this New Year's Day because it would be great to incorporate on your first day back from break. My kiddos don't do "bell work." I know as teachers we want kids to "get right to work" when they come in the door, but seat work at this time of the day for the first minutes in the door has never made sense to me. What adult do you know walks into the office, goes straight to their desk, and starts working on the day's tasks without first greeting and sharing with their co-workers? People need the connection with other people before they can put aside life's distractions and get to work. So I allow my kids to talk and share with each other– share about their time at home, their trip to school, and what's on their mind. I encourage conversation over good books, too, because our first work of the day is D.E.A.R time. Each day I have a different collection of books out-  DK Books for factual reading, words and letter books, puzzle and search books, kid magazines, our collection of current read alouds and, of course, our own book baggies of just right books. I see this part of our daily routine meeting ELA, language, and social-emotional goals.

We break from our D.E.A.R. routine once a week, however. On Mondays we are always full of weekend news to share, so when kids come in they grab a Weekend Chronicles sheet and share with their friends as they write and illustrate what they did over the weekend.

I went to see if my friends were home. They were playing outside so we built, made a fort.

I collect these after we do attendance and job board rotation and bring them to the carpet for meeting. As I flip through the stack of papers I ask each child if they have one thing to report from the weekend. Even kids who don't comment much in meetings usually take this opportunity for a sound bite. I might comment on a paper, or ask a follow up question as I flip through, but it is all kept very brief. Our reports go home so that another goal is accomplished– parents get to see what their child's most current writing efforts are. We use Lucy Calkins' writing workshop model– which I love– and we do other kinds of writing throughout our week, but I found that parents weren't seeing their child's "out of my head" writing, as one of my little guys calls it, often enough. This written sound bite lets parents see what kids can do, and comment and ask about the weekend they just spent together. Kids, parents, and I all love our weekend reports. It is one more way for us to write, talk, and connect in our busy days. Whoot! (I don't have this as a freebie because you need to name your own class reports- but the form is easy to make.)

Click on back to Kacey and see what Fives the rest of us are sharing on this new year's day.

Thanks so much for stopping by today. Let me know in comments if you found anything of special interest to you. I wish you and yours a truly remarkable 2016!


  1. Hi Kathleen! Thanks for sharing these awesome resources!! I teach fourth grade, but think that the sightword site could really help our low friends and help the teachers with intervention materials. Also, I'd never heard of Ziggedy, will definitely be checking that out!! :) So glad I found your link! Have a very happy 2016!

    1. Glad you found stuff. Yep, Ziggedy is great and it gets high trust ratings when you check it out as an organization (I should add that to the post!) I don't know why teachers don't know about it too much yet. Kathleen

  2. Love the sample work from the students. Such great work.

    1. I enjoy the little insights I get into the kids' lives. I don't start weekend reports until November so more can handle the expectations/task. Thanks for stopping by. Kathleen

  3. Kathleen, I love your ideas! There are some great ones to check out. Thank you so much for passing them on. Happy New Year to you! <3

    1. Hey Carolyn. Thanks for the love. Happy New Year to YOU, too :) Kathleen

  4. Thanks for sharing your ideas! I hadn't heard of these resources, but I can't wait to check them out. I esp want to steal your weekend news idea. Love!

    1. Hi Amanda. The latest on the Weekend News is that parents are reporting their little people go through their weekend saying, "I think I'll put this in weekend news," or "I don't know which thing to put in weekend news!" Nothing like living the writerly life, always thinking about how we'll capture this moment! Hope it works well for your class, too! See you later. Kathleen


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