Today’s Quote…

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living.”
~Dr. Seuss~

Quote/Thought For the Day…

“I want a classroom that is about love, laughter and learning from each other. One that’s full of struggles, smiles and stories; The kind where collaboration and creativity are just part of learning. THAT kind of classroom!”

Spring…ing into Writing

“The desire to write grows with writing.”
~Desiderius Erasmus~

With Spring right around the corner, we decided to do a “makeover” on the writing center.

We know how important writing in the Early Childhood classroom is because research suggests:

  • Writing promotes children’s phonological awareness, letter knowledge and letter-sound knowledge.
  • Writing and emergent spelling promote reading vocabulary development.
  • Orally composing a message that an adult transcribes and trying to write their own messages may help children develop print awareness skills
  • Teachers can use their students’ spellings as evidence of phonological sensitivity and alphabet knowledge in order  to tailor instruction

(“Developing Preschool Children’s Writing. ” Stephanie L. Strachan, Neil K. Duke (Michigan State University); William H. Teale (University of Illinois)

We are trying to give the students opportunities to draw/write daily, to develop the concept that writing has a purpose and provide opportunities for self-expression.

So after school on Tuesday we got busy moving things around and gathering up all of our materials for the students to use in the writing center.  Below is a picture of the writing center with a bookshelf to hold the materials and a table close by so they can choose their materials and have a place to work.  Having the table also can act as a natural way to limit the number of students in the center, if we want to do that.  We put the bookshelf out in the room, away from the wall, to try to create a cozier area for working.  Hopefully there will be less distractions that way.

After we got the furniture rearranged we started putting the materials together.  We selected Spring as our thematic unit, so we bought a lot of Spring items from the dollar store.

  Some of the items include various “fancy” pencils, markers and pens (notice the bunny pen), play dough to make words, a bingo dauber to stamp over letters and words.  Other miscellaneous items from the dollar store include a stapler to make their own books, scotch tape, lacing cards for fine motor development, various types of paper, a dry erase board, glue, scissors and envelopes.  We made thematic word cards for the word wall and the writing center (get a copy below).  My First Word Book ($4.99 from Marshalls).  We think a book like this is so important because it allows the children to use a reference book while they are writing.  Don’t forget to add picture books about writing.

Some of the activity choices in the writing center include words (high frequency or thematic) written big on manilla paper with thick black marker for the kids to either rainbow write over with different colored markers or stamp over with the bingo dauber, clip boards with write the room forms (grab our forms for Spring below) and napkin books.  Napkin books are a great (cheap) way to make individual thematic journals.  Buy seasonal napkins at the dollar store.  Cut paper the same size or a little smaller than the closed napkin.  Open the napkin, place the paper between the two pieces of the napkin, close the napkin and staple two staples across the top.

Another fun writing activity is to make a thematic interest basket.  We put bunny ears in the basket so the kids could wear them as they write a story or list about the contents of the basket.  Include another copy of the thematic word cards in the basket.

A popular choice at this center is the “story” starters.  You can make enough copies of one prompt per week and have them available in the center if someone wants to choose this activity.  (You can download copies of our Spring story starters below.)

To give the kids some vocabulary and background knowledge, read a nonfiction book about Spring and make an anchor chart with some Spring words during whole group time.  This is also a good time to add a few thematic words to our word wall.

We hope we have given you some fun ideas to make Springing into Writing meaningful and FUN in your classroom.

    (Click on the pictures to get your free copies!                  

Quote for Today

“I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a  telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

Today’s Quote…

Our job is to teach the students we have.
Not the ones we would like to have.
Not the ones we used to have.
Those we have right now.
All of them.
~Dr. Kevin Maxwell~

Hmmmmmmmm……….Food For Thought!

Nominated for Best Email of the Year…..
After being interviewed by the school administration, the prospective teacher said, “Let me see if I’ve got this right. You want me to go into that room with all those kids, correct their disruptive behavior, observe them for signs of abuse, monitor their dress habits, censor their T-shirt messages, and instill in them a love for learning.
You want me to check their backpacks for weapons, wage war on drugs and sexually transmitted diseases, and raise their sense of self-esteem and personal pride.
You want me to teach them patriotism and good citizenship, sportsmanship and fair play, and how to register to vote, balance a checkbook, and apply for a job.
You want me to check their heads for lice, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, and make sure that they all pass the final exams.
You also want me to provide them with an equal education regardless of their handicaps, and communicate regularly with their parents in English, Spanish or any other language, by letter, telephone, newsletter, and report card.
You want me to do all this with a piece of chalk, a blackboard, a bulletin board, a few books, a big smile, and a starting salary that qualifies me for food stamps.
You want me to do all this, and then you tell me……

Students Have FUN Learning; While Teacher Has FUN Watching Them Pass “The Test”!!! 

“If you want your children to be smart, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be even smarter, read them more fairy tales!”

Post from Susan:
In our school district, students must pass a High Frequency Word Test as part of their promotion standards that determine if they go on to the next grade.  The last few weeks I have been working really hard with the students who are struggling in reading and did not pass the first test administration given last November.  I am happy to announce that eleven out of eleven passed!!!!

What was the difference?  I stopped the “drill and kill” and put the flash cards and worksheets  away. Kathy and I came up with some FUN activities for the students to do.    Below they are playing Sight Word Dominoes.  They had to match the words and read them to be able to continue their turn at play.  They REALLY tried hard to remember the words that they missed on their first turn so when it came back around to them again they could make the match, read the word and continue on to possibly be THE  WINNER!  What they didn’t realize was they really were becoming winners – THEY COULD READ THE WORDS!

Sight Word Dominoes
Sight Word Dominoes

Click on the picture below to grab your FREE copy of dominoes for lists 1 and 2 .
Other activities that I used were our I Can Read Sight Word Practice books and High Frequency Word Scrambled Sentences. 
 I have to tell you when I decided to do things a little differently with these kiddos, Kathy and I designed these little practice sheets so they could see the word, write the word, find the word in a phrase or sentence and then unscramble the letters in the word.  We made a few pages to try them out with the students to see what they thought and if it was something they could and would do.  As it turned out they loved them!  (I think they liked the cut and paste of the scrambled words J).  So we asked them what the name of the books should be and they suggested I Can Read.   We added the name of the book and a few super heroes and ended up with a great activity for my little guys.

Super Hero Sight Word Book
For the High Frequency Word Scrambled Sentence game, they worked together to form the sentences and then wrote the completed sentence on their dry erase boards.  This really reinforced the concept of recognizing the words used in context rather than flashcard drills.

Scrambled Sentences
Scrambled Sentences

Click  on the pictures  to find the Bundled I Can Read Lists 1-5 or Lists 6-11  in our TpT store The Fun Factory. (The lists 1-11 are also sold separately in case you don’t need them all.)
I truly feel like these games and activities made the difference for my kids.
We also have a newly listed paid “bundled” product that  contains 8 individual products. 
We believe that by using these activities, there is almost no way  your kids will NOT learn these words too!
One last note….when one of my little girls was told she passed, she said, “Get out of town!  You sure you’re not pulling my leg??!!”  Soooooo cute.

Today’s Quote…….

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live it’s whole life believing that it is stupid.

Welcome to the Fun Factory….a Prekindergarten through 2nd grade blog for teachers!

“FUN IS GOOD” Dr. Seuss

First, we would like to thank Christi Fultz at for designing such a cute and FUN site for us!!

We are two teachers (Kathy and Susan) trying to make learning fun. We will share our individual, unique teaching experiences together on this blog. We began team teaching together many years ago and have been working together ever since in Houston, Texas.
We have been second “mothers” to each other’s children. In addition, we each have black Toy poodles, Tootsie and Toodles!

Susan was absent from school last week and it was very heart-warming when  her students heard she was not going to be there, they said, “Awwww, today won’t be any fun!” This just reinforced our plan to try our best to make learning fun.

In addition to our work with children, we are blessed to be able to share our ideas with Early Childhood teachers as we present workshops both locally and nationally. One workshop is based on Susan’s newest published book, Tunes for Teachers. (See below.)

As you can see, like most teachers, we are busy! Join us in our journey (by following us) as we share with you creative, FUN ideas, activities, pictures, quote for the day, articles, discussions and more.

Check out our Teacher-Pay-Teacher store, , for freebies and lots of Fairy Tale/Nursery Rhyme, Sight Word, Seasonal, Centers, Literacy, Math etc. etc. products.