Should We Assign Homework in Pre-K and Kindergarten?

Do you ever hear the word “homework”(especially for Prek and Kindergarten) and wonder what the right thing to do is? Most people have strong feelings about homework. Either you are really for it, or you hate it! There are a lot of conversations and research both for and against homework.


I would like to give you MY opinion about homework.

 I have formed this opinion after reading a plethora of research on the effectiveness of homework. Also, over the years I have assigned homework in many different formats. 

One method that parents seemed to like was making a packet of one math and one literature/phonics worksheet per day for Monday-Friday. Students had the entire week and weekend to complete the packet. That way if students had soccer practice or dance class during the week, they didn’t have to be pressured to complete the work that day. Here are some ideas for math or language no-prep sheets if you would like to use this method.



All of this is fine and everyone has their own ways and beliefs about what homework should look like. However, my opinion (and one that parents LOVED) was for students to be children first and enjoy the short time they have with their families during the week.

Working parents are stressed when they get home late, have dinner to prepare, lunches to make, clothes to wash, extracurricular activities etc. Children should be given time outside of school to have experiences that help them grow, develop, and have fun with real-life experiences. This includes applying and reinforcing skills they are learning at school in everyday situations.



Therefore, I started giving my prek and Kindergarten students a monthly homework calendar.

Each day the task is a hands-on, interactive activity that is done with an adult. 


Students check off the activities as they complete them. They don’t have to complete the tasks in order and it is optional whether or not they return their completed calendar. If they bring it in, they get to choose something from the treasure chest. I had 99% of my students bringing them in! 

You can have these calendars (which are FREE) sent directly to your inbox each month so you don’t have to remember to “hunt” them down. During the summer months, other activities are sent. 

Go HERE to tell me where to send your FREE monthly calendars. Just remember, if possible use your personal email address as some schools will send them to spam.

What are your thoughts on homework for pre-k and kindergarten students? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more tips for pre-k and kindergarten? Check out my post on giving assessments to younger students here. 


Top Tips For Assessments In Prekindergarten and Kindergarten

Assessments are an unavoidable part of education. These are essential for driving your instruction so you can track your students’ progress and identify areas they are struggling in that may require some extra attention or practice at home. 

Assessments in early elementary are a little tricky. Your students are young and can’t take a traditional test because they can’t read the problems fluently yet and identify the correct answer. Most of the time, we need to do assessments with our students so that we can properly determine where they are. 


Here are some of my top tips for assessments in PreK and kindergarten students

Phonological Awareness is the foundation upon which the other reading skills are built. It is the ability to notice the sound structure in words and is important as it is essential to learning to read. 

Research has shown phonological awareness to be a strong predictor of reading and spelling success.  Therefore, assessing where a child is on the continuum is vital to your instruction! Being better informed helps you instruct skills from simple to complex. It will help guide your small-group instruction and can address the missing skills for students.


While many groups of researchers show a slight difference in the continuum, these components include: 

  1. rhyming – hearing rhymes 
  2. rhyming – producing rhymes 
  3. alliteration – determines if the child can hear words that begin with the same sound
  4. words in a sentence 
  5. syllables 
  6. onset/rime

This resource includes a great phonological assessment along with the alphabet, sight words, and beginning math skills. This is perfect for seeing where your students are at the beginning of kindergarten and then assessing them mid-year, and at the end of the year. 


Similarly, this prekindergarten assessment resource covers literacy and math skills that are important for this age group. 


This preschool assessment resource is made specifically for 3-year-olds. It includes everything you need to assess their knowledge throughout the year.  


The Importance of Sight Words In Assessments 

Understanding and recognizing sight words is an important skill that should be checked often. I recommend testing at the beginning of the school year to find a baseline, the middle of the year, and the end of the year. This will make it easy for you to track their progress and identify areas for improvement. 

Assessing 4 Year Olds

When assessing students this age, there are some things to keep in mind. Even though a four-year-old is not expected to reach the top of the phonological awareness continuum, there are times when you will have children who are ready to move beyond the rhyming stage.  Using an assessment will take the “guessing” out of knowing where the child is and will give solid data to help guide your small group instruction.


After you have assessed your students, you can begin to use it to drive your instruction. 

Try grouping your students according to the results of your assessments. For example, if you have 3 children who do not know the letters ABC, you would put those 3 children in a small group to play games and do activities that will help teach them those letters. 

Portfolios are a great way to show the progress of each individual child. 

Portfolios can be used to:

  • show growth or change over time
  • identify strengths and weaknesses
  • track the development skills
  • showcase end-of-year/semester accomplishments 
  • measure student’s ability over time 

If you are interested in a bundle of assessments that includes everything you need for prekindergarten and kindergarten students, you can check out this resource. It includes all three resources mentioned above in a convenient bundle. 


What are your best tips for assessments? Let me know in the comments!

If you’re looking for more learning fun, check out my top tips for using scrambled sentences in elementary. 



How and Why To Use Scrambled Sentences In Elementary

There are many factors that go into reading comprehension. There’s decoding, vocabulary, grammar, fluency, and sentence structure, to name a few (check out my post here to learn how teach reading to follow directions).

Sentence structure sounds simple, but for younger students, it can be a challenging topic. They have to understand the components of a sentence and how to put them together in a way that sounds fluent and natural. That’s no easy task! 

Sentence structure is important because the way sentences are put together can make a huge difference in meaning. This is also a huge part of developing writing skills. When students understand sentence structure, they become better writers! 

scrambled sentences

One of the best ways to work on sentence structure is by using scrambled sentences. 

This is a pretty popular method, for a good reason! It works! Students will get practice with capitalization, comprehension, fluency, content, sight words, and punctuation. To do this, give your students parts of a sentence for them to arrange into the right order. 

I love using these in my classroom because they are so easy to use and versatile. You can base them around themes and can be used for small group instruction, centers, or for individual practice at a desk. 

In my experience, students LOVE trying to figure out how to arrange the words into sentences. 

Another reason these are so versatile is that you can base them on common, grade-level appropriate sight words that can be practiced over and over in context. 

Interested in trying them out for yourself? Check out my free Cinderella Scrambled Sentences Resource. 

scrambled sentences

This FREE themed sentence scramble has a total of 33 cards for students to arrange in the correct order to build a sentence and then write them. 

scrambled sentences

If you love them, make sure to check out the full bundle! 

You’ll get 13 scrambled sentences products with different themes. Halloween, Fairy Tales, Thanksgiving, Sight Words, Presidents Day, Martin Luther King, and more! 

scrambled sentences

All of these activities are perfect for first, second, or third grade students. I love these because they are effective and easy for teachers to prepare and organize for centers.

Are you using scrambled sentences in your lessons? Let me know in the comments!

The Importance Of Reading To Follow Directions

In first and second grade, students are starting to get the hang of reading. We spend so much time focusing on reading-level books and reading comprehension. It is so important! 

reading to follow directions

However, another important part of learning to read is reading to follow directions! 

As first or second grade teachers, we may be surprised to find that students didn’t follow directions. They continue to ask questions about how to do things even though the instructions have been explained and listed. 

Reading to follow directions is a skill that students need to learn. They don’t just naturally understand it when they learn to read. Their whole lives so far, they have learned what to do by being told or shown. This is a new way of communicating so it is important to focus on this in the earlier grades so they are able to use this skill in day-to-day life.

reading to follow directions

Here are some ways you can teach your students how to read to follow directions.


  1. Always list directions on the board. This may seem obvious, but it’s important so it is worth mentioning. Use big letters and a numbered list to help them understand the format. 
  2. Go over commonly used words in directions that they may not know. Something that can trip them up big time with reading to follow directions is words they don’t know or are struggling to sound out. Looking at instructions full of words they don’t understand can be overwhelming and discouraging for them. Going over those words ahead of time will boost their confidence. 
  3. Use worksheets that have instructions listed on them. Tell students that the instructions are on the worksheets so they can read it to find out how to complete it. 
  4. Make it fun with games! Create centers that focus on reading directions. In each center, include the instructions for a simple game that students have to read in order to play. You can also pair students up, and have them race to read their instructions to complete a task first. There are so many possibilities! 

Reading to follow directions is a skill that students will need for their whole lives. College assignments, job applications, instruction manuals, the list goes on! Practicing and perfecting this skill early on is vital and will set them up for success later on. 

Another great way to practice this skill is with this Reading To Follow Directions resource! 

reading to follow directions

This bundle comes with activities for every month of the year that will have your students perfecting their reading to follow directions skills.

Students demonstrate reading comprehension by simply reading sentences and coloring a picture to follow the directions.

They can read the sheet using many sight words and then follow the directions to color pictures. It’s fun and creative!

Try out some free activities with my FREE 120 Day of School Read To Follow Directions resource. 

You can also try out my Veterans Day Read and Follow Directions resource here! 



reading to follow directions

Looking for more back to school resources and tips? Check out my post here! 

Sand and Water or Sensory Table

Do you have reservations about using a sand and/or water table in your classroom? Do your parents and administrators think your students are JUST PLAYING when they are at the Sand and Water or Sensory Center? If asked, can you justify the objectives your preschool or Kindergarten students are learning at the center? Do you know what research says about the benefits of using the Sand and Water/Sensory Center?

Why Should I Use a Sensory Table?

Research shows that multisensory exploration-based activities are best for brain development.  It is the foundation of all the skills children will use in school learning to read, write, solve math problems and to explore science concepts. Some of the objectives/skills covered at the Sand / Water or “Sensory” Table Center include; (1) higher-level thinking, (2) problem-solving, (3) vocabulary building, (4) oral language skills– more/less, larger/smaller, (5) small motor development – scooping, sifting, and pouring, (6) exploration, observation, and discovery (7) introduces scientific concepts such as sink/float, and changes like dry/wet (8) measuring practice – full/empty, (9) social and emotional development– cooperative play and sharing.

Vestibular input is also an important reason to use sensory tables. Some children’s nervous systems are wired so that they do not efficiently process sensory input and this can contribute to behavioral and emotional problems. These are just a few of the many reasons to use a sand/water table!!

Some ways I have used the sand/water/sensory table in my classrooms.

Students “fish” for letters.
Students find letters to spell thematic words. Rice was used for this sensory bin.
Students match letters they “caught” to an alphabet chart.

Click HERE to see an awesome resource with task cards, recording sheets, and ideas for using a Sand/Water/Sensory table! You will be so happy you decided to add this phenomenal center to your classroom. It doesn’t have to be hard, I promise!

Dig for letters to make words or just to identify letters!

To allow administrators, parents, visitors, and students to understand the important concepts each center provides, take a look at these EDITABLE center signs!

Labor Day in the United States for Kids

Labor Day

We think of Labor Day as a signal that summer is over.  We think of having the day off from school and work. So what’s behind Labor Day?  Why is it a federal holiday? What do we teach our elementary students?

labor day

Questions to Ponder

Do your parents get weekends off from work? Do they have lunch breaks? What about paid vacation? Do they work for eight-hours? Do your grandparents have Social Security? Do you have to work at a job? You may not know the answers to any of these questions. Go home and ask.

If they say “yes” to any of those questions, you can thank labor unions and the U.S. labor movement for it. Years of hard work to make changes have resulted in many of the most basic benefits we enjoy at jobs today. Then, children do not have to work (besides going to school). On the first Monday in September, we take the day off to celebrate Labor Day and reflect on the American worker’s contributions to our country. How? Why?

Labor Day History

At the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked seven days per week for 12-16 hours a day. They had to do this just to make a basic living. In spite of the fact that some states had restrictions about child labor, children as young as 5 or 6 had to work in mills, factories, and mines across the country. Furthermore, children did not earn nearly what the adults did, even if they did the same amount of work.

People everywhere faced very unsafe working conditions. Many did not have access to fresh air or clean facilities and were not given any breaks.

Labor Day

Information About Labor Day For Upper Elementary

Take a look at this resource to help your third through fifth graders understand why we celebrate Labor Day.  The non-fiction informational book explains in their language what took place leading up to Labor Day being deemed a national holiday.

It is designed to provide basic information about how Labor Day came to be, what it stands for and why we celebrate. This resource is perfect for 4th and 5th graders but can be used with 3rd grade as well (it is a much higher level for 3rd.)  A FUNstress-free way to teach your students about Labor Day.

Language Arts skills are practiced while learning the history.  

If you are distance learning or prefer a digital copy, check out the Google Slides version of this resource here!

Labor Day

Fun Quotes About Labor Day (I LOVE quotes!)

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.”
Colin Powell

“My father taught me to work; he did not teach me to love it.”
Abraham Lincoln

“The problem is that those of us who are lucky enough to do work that we love are sometimes cursed with too damn much of it.”
Terry Gross

“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.”
John Wooden

“Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.”
Ralph Marston

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
Mahatma Gandhi

If you are looking for even more American history lessons, check out my American History Activities Series!

You’ll get 17 resources all about U.S. history, including the Labor Day resource! These activities will carry you throughout the entire year.

Labor Day

Included with this series you’ll get activities that cover:

  • Labor Day 
  • Christopher Columbus 
  • The History of the Pledge of Allegiance 
  • Constitution Day 
  • American Symbols 
  • Veterans Day 
  • Thanksgiving – The Real Story
  • Christmas Around the World, Holidays Around the World
  • MLK Build-a Sentence
  • Presidents’ Day 
  • St. Patrick’s Day in America
  • Memorial Day 
  • Critical Period 1783-1789 
  • American Revolution
  • Civil War Review 
  • Industrial Revolution

What are your favorite ways to teach about Labor Day? Let me know in the comments!

How To Use Mathematical Glyphs In The Classroom

Have you ever used glyphs in your classroom? Do you know what a “glyph” is?

glyph is “the specific shape, design, or representation of a character”. This representation is a collection of visual objects. These visual objects are collectively called a Glyph.

Glyphs are fun activities and worksheets that keep kids engaged, focused, and help students learn to decode data .

These skills are important in math, science, and social studies. Glyphs build skills, like counting, time, directionality, and practice reading comprehension. Students read and follow directions.

Teachers Love Glyphs Because:

  1. They are NO PREP.
  2.   They require students to use reading skills. It is especially helpful when the glyph legends used are written using sight words. That way students are practicing reading their sight words in context.
  3.  Graphing glyphs by different attributes each day means several days of lessons from just 1 glyph!


Students Love Glyphs Because:

  1.  They get to color, cut, and assemble. (Some glyphs are just color.)
  2. They get to post their glyph where everyone can see and they can see how many others are alike or different.
  3. Glyphs are interactive and the students change their glyph daily to graph for a different attribute.


How to Use Glyphs in the Classroom

So how have I used glyphs in the classroom? There are so many different ways that I could probably write a book! However, here are just a few ideas. Please note that these ideas are done over several lessons.



First, in whole group instruction, I  discuss what glyphs are and why we use them. Next, I draw a picture as an example on chart paper. Then I use the students to make a graph. For example, I line all the boys up on one side of the room and all the girls up on the other side. After that, we discuss the differences in mathematical terms.


“Which do we have more of, girls or boys? How many more ____ than ___? Can we make a math sentence to show this information?” 

Many times I use glyphs in my small group instruction. This of course depends on the level of students I am teaching. Other times I place the glyph in a center as a “Have-To” activity. Students can also complete their glyph as independent work and save them until math time when we begin to graph the results.

Depending on the month, I show students the glyph and explain how to follow the directions on the legend. Some months are “color only”, some are “color and cut out”, others are “color, cut out, assemble”, and then others are “color, cut out, assemble and complete a picture.”


After all students have completed their glyph, I choose an attribute for graphing. For example, “Today we are going to graph by the color of your eyes.” Each day I choose a different attribute from the legend. For about the 1st five minutes of math, we discuss the graphing information. Sometimes there is a class graph that we also fill out daily.

Depending on the level of students, I have them write statements with their data. For example, “I am a girl. I like school.”

Preschool and Kindergarten Students LOVE Glyphs Too!

Glyphs can be used with any age group. If you teach Pre-Kindergarten or Kindergarten, use glyphs in your small group instruction as a “listening and following directions” lesson. Then use title cards with pictures so they can graph their glyphs independently. I use painter’s tape so the paper doesn’t tear when they remove their glyphs.


In conclusion, here are some things to keep in mind when using glyphs:

  • Teach students what glyphs are and how to graph results
  • Preview the legend to be sure it is appropriate for the level of students you teach
  • Decide how you want students to complete their glyph – small group, centers, or independently
  • Choose an attribute each day to graph by
  • Discuss graphing results in mathematical terms – greater than, less than, how many more, how many less, half of the class, fewer than, more than, etc.
  • Depending on the level of your students, have them write statements about their data

NOTE: Unless the glyph is used as a center activity, I ALWAYS staple the legend to the back of the glyph. This is so that parents will see the educational value and not think the child is just coloring at school.

If you have never tried glyphs, grab your FREE glyph HERE!


If you and your students enjoy this, take a look to see glyphs for each month of the school year plus more! You can find individual months or you can find them all together in a money-saving bundle.


For another fun activity, check out my Fairytale Glyphs Activities and Centers here! 


For more fun in the classroom, check out my post here on how to make a game spinner!


For more fun in the classroom, check out my post here on how to make a game spinner!

How to Make a Game Spinner in 5 Easy Steps and a FREEBIE!

Stop Those Flying Papers!

As a teacher, do you get tired of papers flying across the room when trying to use a pencil and a paper clip for a spinner? Make this spinner and you won’t have that problem anymore!

Make This Game Spinner in 5 EASY Steps!

Step 1

Gather the following materials:

  • Your spinner – To make them last even longer, print on card stock and laminate!
  • 2 large paper clips
  • Masking tape or packaging tape

Step 2

Next, open one end of one of the paper clips. Punch the open end of the paper clip into the center of the spinner.

Step 3

Press the paper clip flat against the back and tape it down with masking tape, painter’s tape, or packaging tape.

Step 4

The paper clip will now stand up on the printed side of the spinner. Take the other paper clip and place it over the taped clip. Students hold the clip that is upright and spin the clip that is flat on the paper. No more flying papers!!


This spinner is from my Earth Day resource which can be found HERE.

Other great resources using a spinner can be found HERE. This is the bundle but the individual resources can be purchased also.

If you are looking for more information on Blends and Digraphs (with a freebie), go HERE!

If you made it this far, here is a FREEBIE for you!

If you have any questions or need help with anything, please email me at



Back to School for Teachers Social Distancing ~ Teacher Toolkit


This school year is going to be an ABSOLUTELY crazy back-to-school season. It will be like no other due to Covid-19.  In my groups, I have heard teachers that still don’t know how/when they will be teaching, teachers that are starting tomorrow, some 100% at home, digital, and others that will be doing both in-person and online! CRAZY!!! Teachers and parents are stressed to the max trying to figure it all out.

I imagine the best thing you can do right now is to try to get a jump start on classroom organization and prep for the beginning of school. We are here to help! Once you are in the classroom, these posters (diversity included) will help young children remember safety rules. EDITABLE name desk plates are included. Just type in the student’s name. Picture reminders are on their nameplate. Then there is this FREEBIE on how to talk to your children about the virus which includes handwashing songs your students can sing to help know how long they should wash their hands.

This All About Me resource for getting to know your students at the beginning of school is in Google Slides format as well as Printable format. To save you money, I also made a bundle with both types of resources for only $1.00 more than each individual resource. That way you can have it for online learning now and the printable version for next year.

Teacher Toolkit

In order to help you with all the new social distance guidelines and distance learning, a group of other teacher-authors and myself came up with an idea to help you as you struggle with all the uncertainty. We are bringing you some teaching tools you can use in this Back-to-School Tools for Teachers! This is exciting because some of these are resources are way too time-consuming for teachers to create.  There are a few freebies in the mix too.

Here are the resources for your Distance Learning Teaching Toolkit:

Another new resource for your distance learning. Telling Time Fairy Tale Math BUNDLE which is the digital AND printable version in one download.

This has just recently been loaded. Onset and Rime | CVC Drag and Drop in Google Slides!

Social Distancing Greetings | Posters | Craft | Mini BooksBack to School Getting to Know You Project for Distance LearningSocial Distancing Coloring Book EDITABLE | Classroom Rules Coloring BookMath and ELA Toolbox Distance LearningPen Pal Packet for Distance LearningBack to School Distance Learning Activity - Reading Interest Inventory Survey

These are just a few. More to be added!

Also, Check Out These Back-to-School Printable and Digital Resources:

Here are even more resources for your toolkit!

Teacher Planning Tool for Digital OrganizationDistance Learning Animal Adaptations for Google ClassroomEmergent Readers | Back to School Staying Safe School Rules BookletVirtual Learning Behavior Expectations Posters| Distance Learning| Google Slides

Enjoy and contact me at if there is something I can help you with!


The Fun Factory

Sun, Sand, and Savings!

Giveaways for Teachers

Every year in July, a group of Teacher-Authors joins together to help our teacher friends begin to prepare for back-to-school. We offer giveaways for gift cards to TpT, Amazon, and Target.

One Dollar Deals

Also, every Monday we offer $1.00 deals for 24 hours.

Starting at midnight tonight, here is what you will find listed for $1.00 in my store!

For even more deals, click HERE.

Two Dollar Deals

Tuesdays we offer $2.00 deals.

Today, these 2 resources are only $2.00. The Glyphs resource is a year-long BUNDLE! The graphing prompt cards can be used with PK through 2nd grade because there are picture prompts for your non-readers.


Digital Dollar Deals

This year (because of the craziness in our world), we are offering $1.00 deals for digital products. These digital resources are Google Slides, Boom Cards, Seesaw, and more!

If you go to The Fun Factory and see a resource you would like, I will choose someone to receive it for FREE if it is the resource placed on sale! Just email me at

I will update this post each week with my resources that are on sale.

Thanks for reading, have FUN shopping, and good luck on the giveaways!

Susan from The Fun Factory