FF Mrs. Kinder-hearted

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Free Letter & Sounds Assessment Binder for Kindergarten

Kindergarten is TOUGH, in all capital letters. If you're a new Kindergarten Teacher, brace yourself. If you're a returning Kindergarten Teacher, give yourself a hug and buy yourself something nice, you deserve it for re-entering the jungle by choice. I LOVE Kindergarten, and have dedicated the last four years of my life to mastering the art of Teaching the Little People. <3

With that being said, I've decided to let go of my deep passion for solely teaching Kindergarten and leave it for an even deeper love... teaching READING. An opportunity came open in my building to switch to 2nd Grade READING teacher. I am now readying a new room and new curriculum, but will never lose my love for creating resources for my first love, Kindergarten.

So, I'm here to share something with you all that made my life in Kindergarten MUCH easier. It never gets EASY, teaching Kindergarten, but things can always be easier. :) Assessing student knowledge of Letter & Sound Identification is time-consuming and stressful at times, so I created this resource to ease some of the trouble. This FREE Letter & Sound Assessment Binder resource will help you assess students, track their growth and compare their overall performance in a neat and organized fashion.

To get started, you'll need: 

Assemble Your Binder 

1.) Place your cover in the front. If you're like me, this helps your O.C.D. problem of needing everything to be beautifully labeled. If you're a normal person, you can save yourself some ink and skip this step. 

2. Place your whole-group monitoring sheet in the front of the binder. Fill in your student names. I have created space to accommodate 30 students. If you have more than that, Lord bless your soul. :D  I like to keep mine sheet-protected because I use it quite often. This saves unnecessary wear and tear. 

3.) Place Student-Progress Monitoring sheet at the beginning of each tab divider. You will date and record student performance each time you give the assessment. This gives you a quick over-view of each individual student and the specific number of capital letter/sound and lower-case letter/sound they have mastered. I like to have this view (rather than only a percentage) so I can discuss this info quickly with parents during conferences. This also gives me an insight as to whether the student has a better understanding of letter names or sounds. During my experience, many students catch on to the sounds of letters more quickly than the name.

4.) Make plenty of copies of the Student Assessment and Student Assessment Results sheets and store in the binder pockets.  Now, you're READ Y to assess!

Assessment Procedure 

When assessment time comes, grab your binder from the shelf and start tracking student performance. I would pull the Student Assessment Sheet from the front pocket and a results sheet from the back. 

In the beginning of the year, students will need your assistance in tracking the letters. Use a pen, pointer, colored-chip or any other tool to help them visit each letter. As they identify their letters/sounds, record the information on the results page. I like to use an X to signify that they do not recognize the letter/sound. This seems like a lot in the beginning of the school year, but as time passes, they will learn more and the X's will become fewer. At that time, you'll want to focus more on the letters missed and will be able to spot them more quickly. 

Store your dated assessment results behind the Student Progress-Monitoring page in your binder. This way, if you want to see specific letters/sounds missed, you can turn to the correct assessment and see quickly which were missed. As you can see here, on August 27th, little Jessica missed every Capital Letter name except for 3 (Q, J and V). She missed ALL Capital Letter Sounds. She went on to recognize 2 Lower-Case Letter names (j and x) and identified 1 lower-case sound (letter j). 


After assessing that individual student, record their performance on the student progress-monitoring sheet. After calculating the percentage correct, record this info on the Whole-group monitoring sheet. This sounds like a lot of work, but in the end, you'll be glad you did. You'll have a perfectly documented story of how that child performed throughout the school year.  As you can see, little Jessica had 100% mastery by January. If you didn't have this information, you might forget how little she knew in the beginning. Don't you love seeing student growth?!?! 

I also use a highlighter to mark students who have reached 100% mastery. This motivates me to work hard until each student has had their name highlighted. I would have demonstrated that here, but I'm on SUMMER BREAK (wooohoooo!!) and apparently don't own a highlighter outside of school grounds. Yikes! 

I love free stuff, but I especially love USEFUL free stuff. If you find this to be useful, let me know! If you see need for improving this product, let me know that too.  

If you need ideas of how to get these little people to be successful during this particular assessment, visit my most popular blog post, How to Increase Letter & Sound Fluency in Kindergarten. I've had oodles of positive feedback from really GREAT teachers. Be sure to check it out! :) 

Happy Kindergarten Assessment to you! I'll be in 2nd Grade this year, but I'll still keep all of you crazy Kindergarten people in my prayers as you take on a new group of angels.

God bless you and yours! 

Friday, December 30, 2016

How to Increase Sight-Word Fluency in the Primary Classroom

Many, many people have benefited from my "How to Increase Letter/Sound Fluency" piece that I posted almost two years ago. This was a simple strategy I used, but had no idea others didn't have access to. Now, I'm going to share some ideas I have used to reach the same level of fluency with Sight-Words. This is how I teach sight-word fluency in my classroom and for the past three-years, I’ve found much success with it. I use a combination of kinesthetic movement with phrases and the RAINBOW sight-word system to ensure my students are learning those infamous high-frequency words.

Sight-Word Motions

You may have noticed from my other posts that I am a very kinesthetic person. I like to move and I love to keep my Kinder-babies moving too. It helps them retain knowledge. I know there are tons of research behind this idea, but I don’t need any of it to recognize how effective learning through movement can be. That is why you’ll see that I have motions (mostly self-created, some borrowed from who-knows-where) for everything I teach. Sight-words included.

After realizing how helpful and effective it was to add motions to my letters/sounds I quickly applied the same strategy to my sight-word routine. When I say quickly, I mean that I introduced it mid-year. I’m always concerned about introducing new things after my students already have a routine down, but when I get great ideas, I always take the risk.

The idea behind sight-word motions (from my experience) is that you tie in a motion  that corresponds with a word. When students see that word, they may not recall the actual word itself, but their little bodies (most-of-the-time) can recall the movement that goes with the word. I witness my students recall these motions every-day. It is a natural occurrence.

Sight-Word Phrases

 I not only have motions for words, I also include phrases. I found that the phrase also scaffolds students to recall the word. It seems like a lot, but I pinky promise that it is a tool, not just extra stuff to remember. Sometimes I find that students will look at the word, recall the motion but still can’t get to the correct word without that phrase.  I promise, you’ll see it too when you use this strategy.

See it in action!

In case you are curious (like I always am) of how strategies actually look in the classroom, I had Ms. Kathy film our daily sight-word practice. I take five-minutes to review the color words we are working on every day. At the end of the week, I take an extra ten-minutes to review all former words. My classroom (at the time of this post) is currently on the BLUE list of words. (See more about this below.)

Rainbow Words

A saving grace in my classroom has been a Rainbow Word system that I created. As I mention in the video below, I found the idea on Pinterest. I bet you’ve seen it too. It truly works. If you are thinking about implementing it (even right now, mid-school year), I say GO FOR IT! You will NOT regret it! I implemented it in January my first year teaching and it truly helped motivate my kids.

You don't have to purchase my file! You can definitely create your own system, but I’m compelled to share with you something I’ve worked so hard on the last few weeks. For three years now, I’ve used a PowerPoint file that I created to create my Rainbow Words resources. It takes me hours every year to distribute my word lists through that file and to each resource. Thankfully, I just learned how to create a file that allows me to type my words in one time to appear throughout all the other parts. I AM SO EXCITED! TYPING WITH ALL CAPS AND IN BOLD TEXT DOES NOT EVEN BEGIN TO EXPRESS MY HAPPINESS! 

In case you’re new to the idea of Rainbow Words, it is a strategy in which you use colored cards to motivate students to learn their sight words. Each color represents a number of words. (For my system, there are 12 Red, 12 Orange, 12 Yellow, 12 Green, 12 Blue, 16 Purple and 16 Pink. 92-words total.) When a student masters a set of cards, the red for example, they go on to the next set. When my kids reach the top of the Rainbow, they get a certificate and set of Rainbow glasses.

As you can probably imagine, students are super-motivated to learn all their words. Some teachers don’t like data walls (and I understand why), but my district requires them and I find this particular system to be very kid-friendly in Kindergarten. Students are only in competition with the Rainbow itself, not other students.

Easy Assessment, Easy Feedback for Families.

A key advantage to my creation is that it makes assessment time simple and time-efficient. I barely get time to pee at school, so I’m always sure to use my time efficiently. My Rainbow Words Assessment Binder makes this happen.

Inside, I have a master checklist and a tab divider for each kiddo.

In each child's tab, I have their Assessment Log pages.. 

I also keep my Teacher feedback pages and rainbow cards close by for when I’m ready to assess.

I flash the cards, insert the data and complete the appropriate feedback page (pass or fail). I add the next set of cards if that student passed that day. I also allow students to place their picture up to that stripe (if they passed red, they go on the red stripe.) Repeat 26 more times (I have a big class!) and BAM! I’m done. 

Rainbow Display 

This is one of my favorite parts of my colorful classroom. I can also see the satisfaction in the eyes of my Kinder-kids when they get to move their picture up a stripe.

Here are some instructions in case you want to create this in your own classroom. 

Video Demonstration

Sight Word Tips

Here are some things I’ve learned (mostly the difficult way through trial and error) about teaching sight-words. I hope these save you some time and trouble.

-Introduce a few at a time. Don’t overwhelm your class!
-Avoid introducing similar words during the same week. (Like eat and ate.)
-Keep parents informed and use them to practice! (I send home a practice log as homework.)
-Review often. Even your brightest kids can forget words they once knew if they don’t practice them.
-They are still babies! Don’t overwhelm your class with too many words. I knew a Teacher in another district that required her Kindergarten class to know 150 words in order to pass on to First grade. This may work for some, but I personally feel this puts too much pressure on our little ones who aren’t developmentally ready for it.  I do cover 92 words in the school year, but I only require my students to master 80% of those by the end of the year.
-Have students with special learning needs? You can accommodate them by shortening word lists. I have adapted my percentage scores to help my special learners to feel successful. One of my students is only required to recognize 6 of the 12 Red words in order to pass. Same for other colors.
-Make it fun! Use songs, dances, motions OR WHATEVER you need to use to keep them engaged. YouTube has so many free resources available to you!

I hope you've found something helpful here today. That is my main goal of this post and all others. 

God bless you and your little ones! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

My BRIGHT Classroom Tour

You know what is sad? Super-duper-can't-believe-I'm-saying-this-kind-of-sad? I worked countless hours in my classroom over the summer preparing it for my Kindergartners... and have been down-right too BUSY to share it with my followers! That is what I call a crying shame. So, here it is, beginning of November (over three-months into school for me) and I'm just now getting around to it. I call that Kindergarten Teacher priorities.

So, here it is, a little too-late.. My fortress. My happy place. My home-away-from-home. My ( depending on the moon phases and student behavior) zoo-house. My classroom.

If you ask me the theme, as many have, I just like to make it simple and call it BRIGHT.  If I saw something bright, I threw it in there somewhere. :)

Here was a clear shot on the first day of school. Because of my deep, deep need to move things around pretty constantly, it actually looks quite different than this now. "Hello, my name is Toni and I like changing the layout of my classroom every few weeks." I know, I'm weird. Thankfully, my classroom helper shares in my strange addiction. :)

Here is one of the MOST IMPORTANT elements of my classroom. THE RULES! I plan to upload a video soon of my rule routine. This little line of posters can make or break my whole school year. This year, reviewing these guidelines is a priority routine. Nothing gets in the way of it and my kids know these rules better than any content I've ever shown them. Sounds like I'm a little crazy? Well, I'm also obsessed with classroom management. You can click HERE or on the image to see my rules on TpT. :)


I love my Whimsy Clips! I wanted to make my room more multi-cultural and these kids did the trick! 


My back wall is a mural and it is huge. And time consuming. Imagine me, locked in my classroom all summer, stenciling this baby on the wall. You were probably resting and enjoying some sweet peace while I was doing all of this. Who is the real winner here? You! hehe.Those are my favorite alphabet posters ever hanging up there. I went through quite a few sets before I finally learned to make my own! You can find a whole blog post about how they changed the Letter/Sound fluency in my classroom. Look right HERE and you can watch a nifty little VIDEO. You can also click on the image below. 

 As if my classroom couldn't get any brighter, I went all crazy with the AstroBrights and made this sight-word data wall. Remind me and I'll give you my whole system for Rainbow Words sometime soon. It was a summer project and it has saved me hours of time this year. P.S. MY KIDS LOVE RAINBOW WORDS! 

Here is a calendar shot from back in September. Yes, this too has changed but some components are still the same. The number posters up at the top have been a real game-changer for my little struggling learners during Math time. The picture and ten-frame combo help them locate numbers easier and apply it to their work. You can find them HERE in my store.


Here is my newest LOVE. Math Works Daily. I promise to have it in my store ASAP. I'm just swamped for now. :( I do promise you though, it will be worth the wait!

Want to add a little color to your classroom on the CHEAP? These banners came from Wal-Mart and they are 97 cents per pack! They add a great dimension to my classroom. They also have polka-dots and other patterns. Momma loves bright-colored CHEVRON! :D :D 

And of course there is the rocking chair that I never get to sit in. Any other Kindergarten Teachers notice how little we actually get to sit down? Only during Read-Aloud and money collection for me.

Then there is the fence that I love so dearly. That the man that I love so dearly so dearly installed for his dear wife. Yep, he works for me over the summer in addition to his own job. Any of your husbands know the feeling? Teacher-husbands need their own support group or something. I love my handy-man. <3 

I'll end with this first-day morning message. I like for those to be colorful too!

I hope you have enjoyed snooping around in my classroom. That is seriously one of my favorite things to do. Call me nosy, but I love stealing ideas. :)

I'll post again soon, promise!

God bless you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Daily Write-It: Dictated Writing Routine


So, after 18 SNOW DAYS in my district this year, I am doing anything and everything to keep from catching the dreaded CABIN FEVER. (It's spreading around Facebook like crazy. It is REAL!) So, I've been trying to stay motivated and remember that there is life out there beyond the walls of this trailer. I do have 26 little ones that still need to learn when all of this mess melts away. Plus, I've thoroughly enjoying this special time with my 6-month-old. She is a great buddy to be trapped with. :)

So, after contemplating about my students and their needs, this is what I have created. Daily Write-It, a dictated writing routine. This set focuses on Simple Sentences containing only Pre-Primer Sight Words and easily decode-able  CVC words. So, what is Daily Write-It?


 What are some of the benefits I expect for my students:


I love using my SMARTBOARD any time possible, but I also thought about those of you that may not have one. There are actually THREE versions of this product in the download:


One of my FAVORITE aspects is this dandy way to format the Student Response pages. I love laminated file folders for this. So handy, durable and of course, RE-USABLE. I loath print costs! 

Check out this video of me describing the routine. I tried to be quick and to-the-point. If you aren't accustomed to Eastern Kentucky accents, this may be ALARMING in some way. I hate the sound of my own voice but I'm proud of my mountain heritage. :)

 Here are some up-close pictures of some of the aspects described in the video. 

These are the pages you will project on your SmartBoard or Document Camera. I think the picture cue aids visual learners and also makes it a little more visually-appealing (or just down-right CUTE, you could say). 

At the end of the routine, you'll scroll down to this page. There are two versions, one with pre-written sentences for your students to compare their work with AND one without sentences so you can manually write it on the board. 

Don't be too jealous of my beautiful hand-writing and artwork. hehehe!!

This is a peek into the Student Response Folder. I love the sight-word reference sheet here. Students can circle words and compare when spell checking as I did in the video.


Like I explained in the video, this space is on the front of the folder and allows students to close up their sentence when they are finished and illustrate. I LOVE THIS FEATURE. It makes it easy to quickly determine who is finished and who needs more support.  

By the way, don't be too jealous of my beautiful artwork. hehehe!!

 I also love the self-check portion. After a few weeks of this routine, I know sentence revision will be a breeze for my little-bitties.


This product is available now on my TpT store. Just click on any image to check it out. There is a great preview file that gives even more info. 

I can't wait to hear what you think about this! Please share your thoughts with me and any suggestions you have that might improve this resource.

God bless you and yours!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Word Works Daily: See the Reading Skills Routine in action!

(This is a transplant post from my former blog, My Kindergarten Obsession. This was actualy written in July 2014.

 I remember so clearly the incredible sense of fear and happiness I felt when I found out that I was going to be a Kindergarten Teacher. I felt so blessed to be among the few people I graduated with that actually found a job that summer. I also felt a distinct need to grow a beard, obtain a fake passport and fly to a remote island to escape my fears of teaching a grade level I knew nothing about. It was weird. Bipolar moment for sure.


Where am I going with this? Bored of my yapping? Yeah, me too. So, the point I'm trying to make is this: It would have been nice to see some Kindergarten teaching in action. That is why, when I created this resource (WW Daily), I knew I wanted to demonstrate it for those newbies that may not know what in the World to do with something like this.

So, here it is. Me, my deep-mountain accent and six incredible kids that I taught at Summer school this year. This isn't a true representation of a full classroom (I had 27 darlings this past year) but it does show the routine. I definitely could have benefited from this when I first began!
Hope you enjoy! Leave me a comment and tell me what you think! :)