What Are They Doing While I’m Testing?

It’s been a really busy week, so this blog is going to be a quick one!  We had our Wide Mouthed Frog  play on Thursday night, and it went really well!  But I’ll be telling you more about that next week.  My report cards are due tomorrow, and I did manage to get the comments and scores all into the computer system yesterday afternoon!  Now I just have to get the behavior “scores” in by Friday before I leave for home, and I’ll be all set to finish the year!  It feels great to have it all be so close to done.  Our class will be going on a field trip to the Los Angeles Zoo on Wednesday, June 8th, and then Thursday, June 9th is our last day of school.  I can hardly believe it!

Meanwhile, I thought I would share some of the things that I have had my kids do this week while I was pulling them out individually to finish up their testing.  Of course, this wasn’t all of it, these were just some of the more novel, fun activities that they liked the best.  Enjoy!

1.  Monster Doodles

When I was at the California Kindergarten Conference in January, one of the booths had a set of these “Monster Doodles" cards for sale,  and they caught my eye so I opened up the box to take a look.  I love to draw and doodle, and I know that kids usually do, too.  They also really love these types of friendly looking little monsters, so I figured it would be a winning combination!  So I snapped them up, even though the vendor was charging $15 for the set, and that seemed a little high to me.  (It was; they are just $9.99 on Amazon.)  My students have been loving them, though!

Monster Doodles is a set of 50 write-on, wipe-off cards that the children can doodle on.  They must read the directions in order to figure out what they are supposed to do to the card, though, and that is the only hard part.  Many of the children didn’t really care what the directions were; they just grabbed a dry erase marker and started drawing the features on the monsters, etc.  Others were really motivated to try to read the directions and kept at it until they figured it out.

Some sample directions are:
- Draw horns on the monster
- Draw a face and claws on the monster
- Connect the dots to make a home for the monster
- Draw a friend for this monster.
Etc., etc., etc.

The only bad thing about them is that some of the printing is in a rather small font, and they come with only one dry erase marker.  So if you want to use them with a group of kids, you would need some more fine point dry erase markers and erasers.  When I was checking to see if these were sold on Amazon, I noticed that the same authors also have a set called Animal Doodles and another called Christmas Doodles!  I ordered the Animal Doodles on right away.  They actually arrived yesterday!  I can’t wait to try these out now, too!

2.  Sight Word Splat

When I was having my students use highlighters on some of the Sounds Fun worksheets that I made for my blog a couple of weeks ago,  (Please note that though I am going to develop some worksheets like these over the summer, they are not yet for sale.)  I discovered how fascinated my students are with highlighters in general!  I would not have guessed it, but it does make sense!  They are bright and pretty, and new!  So I decided to put a big sight word in the middle of a page and invite them to decorate it with highlighters while I was testing individually.

I showed them how to trace around and around the edges of the word and change colors often.  The ones that took their time with it really enjoyed it and came out with a beautifully decorated paper!  I am including this very simple master as a free download for you today.  Hopefully it will be useful for some of you.  I am including a couple with some words, and a blank frame, too, so that you can put your own word on it.  Just try to spread out the letters, if you can do so on your word processing program.  That way your kids will be able to go around the letters more easily.

I realized that I had purchased two packs of “Smelly Markers” last August when all of the school supplies went on sale, and I had tucked them away in a cupboard.  So I got those out too, and the children were of course enthralled!  Anything novel helps keep them happy at this time of year, doesn’t it?  It’s fun to listen to them sing the sight word songs while they color, too.  So cute!

3.  Outside Fun

My class really needed a break this week after practicing for our Wide Mouthed Frog play, so I decided to take them outside and let them play while I tested.  I figured that it would work alright as long as I only pulled the children that were more cooperative, etc.  I carried around some three dimensional shapes with me and said, “What is this?”  As they identified them, I just marked them off on my check off sheet.  If was a little unconventional, but I am confident in the results!

And, every now and then, I pulled out my camera.  You can see the results in the wonderful pictures that I captured outside.  It sure feels good now and then to just go outside and enjoy the sunshine with the little ones!

4.  Watching Storybooks Online

About a month ago, I asked some Facebook friends if they knew of some great websites where I could find storybooks read aloud to children online, and I got a whole bunch of suggestions!  Since then, I have found it incredibly helpful to be able to put a story on our big screen and let the whole class watch it while I get materials out for a lesson, or put materials away, or even test a few children individually!  While the overwhelming favorite website suggested was http://www.tumblebooks.com/, that one does require a paid subscription, so I haven’t taken the plunge on purchasing it.  (But more on that below!)  My favorite website for this purpose so far is http://pbskids.org/lions/stories/.  Below here are a few more sites that I was given.  Please note that I haven’t had a chance to check them all out yet.  A few of them proved to take too long to load their books up (at least at my school) while the children waited, so watch out for that.  And some of them want you to sign up for an account, which can also be an annoying thing for kids to wait on, given the attention span of the average five year old!  I do recommend checking them out first!  But hey- we STILL haven’t made our way through all of the books just on the PBS website alone!


Subscription Required:

BUT.... I happened upon this link (http://www.lancasterlibraries.org/lslc/cwp/view.asp?a=3&q=467512) , which was listed under “Tumblebooks Free” and I clicked on it.  It took me directly to the Tumblebooks site and allowed me to immediately start watching one of their books online, which was fully animated and beautiful!  One of my Facebook friends had mentioned that many public libraries have subscriptions to Tumblebooks, and if you have a library card, all you have to do is inquire about it and they will give you a login ID and password.  Sounds great!

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  1. Try accessing Tumblebooks through your local library's website. That is how I get to it. Mine is www.wvpl.org

  2. I think you can also get to tumblebooks through the New York City Library. Our school purchased a license for it. Bookflix is one of my favorites (another subscription one, but you can get a 30 day free trial). I like it because it has fact and fiction books that go together. Speakaboos is another one. And I love pbskids! If you have an Activeboard, you can find Reading Rainbow books on Discoverykids- my kids love those. They also have Magic School Bus on there.

  3. Thanks, Heidi, for another year of sharing your wonderful ideas and free downloads. Your site is my best place to visit every week!
    ...another way to use highlighters is with Hidden Pictures. With all the testing and "academics" that has changed the Kindergarten atmosphere I joke with my colleagues, saying, "It saddens me when I tell the children to get their highlighters for Hidden Pictures - and they all shout 'Yay'!" This is, sometimes, the "highlight" of their day!

  4. Another great website for stories is www.storylineonline.net . There is no charge and you have access to many stories, read by SAG actors with the print below. We use it during Daily 5 everyday!

  5. Your idea for writing with the highlighters is what we call rainbow writing. I use it all the time with just crayons. I will put one or two of our stinker words on the board and ask the K kids to write rainbow write them on the back of their take-home book or worksheet. They are to use 5 colors and say the letters as they write. They don't realize they are practicing and they love it.

  6. That is our local library system:) Glad you could use it - across the country!!

  7. A great site for books on line that is free is Storyline Online from the Screen Actor's Guild. The URL is http://www.storylineonline.net/

  8. Heidi, thank you for this great blog! I have learned so much from you and your activities are always fun and successful. I have found it helpful when you have mentioned specific read-aloud books you use...maybe you would list more sometime either by month or by unit? Also, please tell more about how you teach the many routines and behaviors kinders must learn at the start of the year. Thanks so much!

  9. Thank you for all the links to the storybooks online. I will be saving these on my students computers so they can enjoy them next year!

  10. Another great site for hearing stories is www.storylineonline.net
    The stories are read by clebrities (my favorite is Betty White reading Harry The Dirty Dog). The kids can see the illustrations and there is a closed captions option. It also has related activities to do after the story. It's great for modeling reading with expression and it's FREE!

  11. Heidi -

    I must be doing something wrong - If I am correct, I should be able to find information so that I can purchase your singing books. Please help!

  12. Hi, Marta!
    Well, slap me on the hand for not making that clear! Sorry about that!
    Our website is www.heidisongs.com.
    The Sing Along Songbooks are going to be on every CD/DVD's page, except for the ones for the plays like the Wide Mouthed Frog, etc.
    So let's say you want to buy the Sing Along Songbook for Sing and Spell Vol. One. Go to this link:
    Now scroll down. WAY down.... past the Velcro books, etc. There you will see this:
    "Another Downloadable Project!
    Sing & Spell Vol. 1- Worksheets & Songbook"
    This is the printable Sing Along Songbook that you can use for a listening center.
    Now if you want the MINI Sing Along song books that each child can make for their own, that is on the same page, but don't scroll so far down. Look for this:
    "All New!!! Workbook, mini-songbooks, and flashcards to support Sing & Spell Vol. 1"
    Those are in the workbooks and you can easily print one per child.

    I am very sorry that the website is so difficult to navigate, and that we can't post a link that will take you directly to that exact product. We are working with a website developer that is hopefully going to build us a new one that will do just that. That way, I can "tag" each and every product so that you can click on it and get right to it. It will be FAR less confusing that way. We're working on it....

  13. yes you can find so many intresting story books here at www.storylineonline.net and i am sure your kids would love it ..


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