Featured

Done is Better than Perfect

I am a perfectionist. Being a perfectionist has helped me, but it also has hurt me over the years. How could being a perfectionist possibly be bad you may ask? In the past, I have kept things to myself, or put things off because I simply wanted it to be THE BEST! This blog is a prime example.

I kept repeating the following thoughts in my head over and over…eventually I will create a blog, one day I will create a blog, I’ll learn how to do that someday. I wanted my blog to be perfect. I wanted to have perfect posts and photos to compliment them planned out. I wanted my blog to be aesthetically pleasing with an amazing color scheme and have all the buttons, bells and whistles of well known blogs. The reality is… if I waited to be ready and have all these things done… would I really ever be ready?

This weekend, I said to myself, why wait? I put the fear of it not being PERFECT behind me. This blog is FAR from perfect and I am still learning how to even use this website, but I DID IT!

Done is better than perfect. That is my quote for 2020! I will be posting blog posts for my past Instagram posts along with new content weekly. If you are unfamiliar with my Instagram, I will be sharing teaching ideas for school age kids, toddlers, babies, and more! I am really excited to begin this journey! Be sure to subscribe and follow Taylored to Teach to receive FREEBIES and new content from me!

STEM Toys

What is a STEM Toy? What is a STEM Bin? You may have seen me post about these on my Instagram page, or you may have seen them on Pinterest. You may be wondering, what is the hype about STEM? Read below to find out why STEM is awesome, not only in the classroom, but also at home!

What is STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

What is a STEM Toy or a STEM Bin?

You may be wondering, what is the difference between a STEM toy and a STEM bin. The answer is, not much.

Teachers generally call plastic containers filled with STEM manipulatives/toys, STEM Bins. These classroom bins often include task cards and building challenges for students.

STEM toys are basically the same exact thing. You probably already have some amazing STEM toys at home. The main difference is your STEM toys are probably not in plastic containers with directed task cards for your child.

What are the benefits of STEM Toys/Bins?

  • Enhance creativity
  • Develop hand-eye coordination
  • Require fine motor skills
  • Promote spatial skills
  • Encourage exploration
  • Require problem solving
  • Encourage designing and building
  • Develop life skills such as: perseverance, discipline, and resourcefulness
  • Promote social skills including: collaboration and communication

Ways to use STEM Toys/Bins in the classroom

  • Morning Work
  • Early Finishers
  • Incentives
  • Centers

Ways to use STEM Toys/Bins at home

  • Free Time
  • Brain Breaks (except they’re actually still learning)
  • Incentives

My Top Choices for Elementary STEM Toys/Bins

STEM toys are FUN but also have so many educational benefits! Which STEM toy pictured above would your children enjoy the most?

Digital Learning with Boom Cards

Things are currently a little different around the world when it comes to children learning and education. Teachers and parents are in need of digital activities for learning at home now more than ever.

Have you heard of Boom Learning? I discovered Boom Learning when I was searching for digital resources while virtually teaching my students. Boom Learning Cards are convenient, fun, and a lot of them are FREE!

Check out some FREE Boom Cards by clicking on the images below:

What is Boom Learning?

Boom Learning is an awesome website with digital educational games and activities. The resources on Boom Learning are created by teachers for students to use online.

The Boom Learning activities are called Decks and they contain various amounts of learning cards within each deck.

I love that these resources are digital, interactive, and self correcting!

What do I need to use Boom Cards?

According to the Boom Learning website, in order to have Boom Cards play properly you need:

  • Broadband Internet Connection
  • Chromebook/Netbook/Laptop/Desktop Computer: browser that runs HTML5 (Firefox, Chromium Edge, Safari, Chrome)
  • Kindle (Silk)
  • iPad (Safari)
  • Chromebook or Android Tablet (Chrome)

OR

Boom Learning does not work with Internet Explorer. Please check out Boom Learning’s Website for more specifications.

How do I create an account?

Parents

If you are signing up on your own without a teacher/classroom, create a free teacher account for yourself.

If you are signing up with a teacher/classroom, the teacher will provide a pin or other information for how to set up a free student account.

Teachers

You can create a free account if you have five students or less and you don’t plan to create your own learning decks. I would check out all of the account options on Boom Learning’s Website to see which suits you the best. They are very affordable!

Do I have to set up a classroom? 

Whether you’re a classroom teacher, homeschooler, or a parent, you will need to set up your own classroom.  

This video tutorial below is very helpful to get started! 

How do I assign decks?

Free and paid Boom Learning Decks will be available to assign in your library. 

You will need to purchase a deck before you can use it. You can purchase Boom Learning Decks on Teachers Pay Teachers or on Boom Learning

If purchasing on Teachers Pay Teachers, you will receive a PDF download with a link to unlock the deck. 

Please Note: You will have a PDF download with a link to access FREE learning decks from Teachers Pay Teachers also.

If purchasing on Boom Learning, they will show up in your library after purchase. You can simply add decks to your library if they are free.

Once Learning Decks are in your library you can assign them by clicking the blue action button. This will bring you a drop down menu where you can find the “assign” option.

You can find out more about assigning learning decks in the video below:

How do I check on student progress?

You can check out this video below to find out more about reports:

Wait, I still have more questions! 

Check out Boom Learning’s FAQ section or their YouTube channel for more helpful information!

I am LOVING Boom Learning! Let me know what you think of it when you try it out for yourself. Enjoy!

Let’s Get Ready for Kinder

Wondering what to expect for your future kindergartener in the fall? I’ve teamed up with several educational accounts to bring you information and resources to help prepare your child for the school year ahead.

Meet the kindergarten readiness team:

@eat_play_read has 6 years teaching experience (3 in Pre-K, 3 in K)

@kidsrcapable has 3 years experience as a child therapist (homeless shelter, domestic violence shelter & private practice)

@tayloredtoteach has 8 years teaching experience in grades K-5

@theitsybitsy.classroom has 6 years teaching experience in Deaf Education, Early Childhood, Kindergarten, Online ESL & Sign Language.

@sanderspeechsolutions has 7 years experience as an SLP in an elementary school and private setting

@taught.by.tatum has been teaching for 10 years (7 in K)

You can click on the pictures below to find out more about each topic from our #letsgetreadyforkinder series!

If you missed our #letsgetreadyforkinder video series on Instagram, you can find it on my highlight reel under PART 1 and PART 2!

Click here to check it out!

Fine Motor Skills

Erin from @taught.by.tatum gave us some extraordinary fine motor skills information and activities during our #letsgetreadyforkinder segment. Fine motor skills are very important for incoming kindergarteners! Read below to find out ways to help prepare your child!

What are fine motor skills?

Fine motor skills are coordinated movements using the small muscles in the hands and fingers. This includes things like zippering, buttoning, gripping a pencil, using scissors, etc.

Fine motor skills are good for self help and academic reasons.

Jessica touched on this earlier in the #letsgetreadyforkinder segment with self help skills. You can find a list of those skills here.

Hands on academic activities are important to help strengthen those small muscles in the hands and fingers.

Check out some ways to practice fine motor skills below:

Activities & Resources

Click on the pictures to find out more about the fine motor activities!

Math Manipulatives

Please supervise your child while they are using manipulatives or scissors.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Social and Self Help Skills

Jessica from @eat_play_read provided us with some great information about social and self help skills! Taylor from @kidsrcapable also gave us some great tips for dealing with separation anxiety. I think this information will be especially useful for your soon to be kindergartener this fall due to the current circumstances. Read the bulleted information below to prepare your child for school.

Social Skills Checklist

  • Sharing
  • Taking Turns
  • Waiting their turn to talk in a conversation
  • Listening to a story

Separation Anxiety Tips

  • Prepare students by reading stories about the start of Kindergarten
  • Practice loving, firm, and consistent “see you later” and goodbye
  • Practice calming down moments when child is not stressed.
  • Check out Go Noodle for calming activities “Bee Breaths” or “Bunny Breaths”

Self Help Skills Checklist

  • Getting dressed
  • Zipping coat
  • Putting on shoes
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Zipping and hanging up backpack
  • Hand washing
  • Opening snack/lunch items
  • Wiping nose

Counting and Numbers

Caitlyn from @theitsybitsy.classroom gave us some amazing information about counting and numbers during out #letsgetreadyforkinder segment. Read below for her tips on how to prepare your furture kindergartener!

Counting

Teachers would like students to have a decent foundation of how to count when entering Kindergarten. Maybe they miss some numbers, maybe they only make it to five, maybe they only make it to ten, but the concept of counting is a good way to start.

Ways to practice:

  • count things you see
  • count snacks, count toys, count flowers outside, etc.
  • count starting at different numbers, for example start at 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 or start at 3, 4, 5 ,6

Even if your child is not actually counting, model how to count. Children are always listening and absorbing information.

Eventually, your child will work on counting all the way to 100 or even to 120 during Kindergarten.

Counting Groups of Objects

An important skill when learning how to count, is being able to count objects in a group.

What does this mean? It means counting five objects and understanding the last number they said, five, is the number of objects in the group.

During kindergarten, children will use the skill of counting objects in a group to work on adding and subtracting.

Ways to practice:

  • count snacks, count toys etc.
  • elaborate that the last number they said is how many there are of that object

Number Identification

The first step when it comes to being able to identify numbers, is being able to determine a letter from a number.

After children are able to distinguish a number from a letter, it is then time to move on to identifying numbers 0-10.

Ways to practice:

  • point out things that are letters and numbers Ex. cereal boxes, signs, the clock, license plates, etc.
  • point out specific numbers 0-10 that you see

Most children can identify numbers 0-10 when they are in order, but they don’t always know that the symbol they are pointing to is that number.

Helpful Tip: Scramble up the numbers and make sure they know what the numbers are when they are out of order.

Activities & Resources

Click on the pictures to find out more about the number activities!

Please supervise your child while they are completing learning activities.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Speech and Language Milestones

Speech and Language Pathologist Erica Sander from @sanderspeechsolutions provided us with so much information about speech and language milestones during our #letsgetreadyforkinder week!

Find out what to expect from your soon to be kindergartener below:

Articulation

  • speech should be 95-100% intelligible meaning the message is understood by the listener 95-100% of the time
  • majority of speech and sounds have been acquired in all word positions (p, b, m, n ,t, d, k, g, f, s, y, h, sh, v)
  • may continue to produce later developing sounds with difficulty (l, r, sh, th, ch, z, s)

Expressive

  • use complex sentence structures, can connect two different ideas in one sentence
  • use simple past tense verbs -ed
  • produce more adjectives to describe what they observe
  • include pronouns (I, me, my , myself, they, themselves)
  • produce sequencing in their stories, they are more organized and cohesive

Pragmatic

  • demonstrates cooperative play skills with peers
  • play simple games and follow rules (Simon says, BINGO, Go Fish, board games)
  • participates in 4-5 conversational turns with a partner and will initiate and stay on topic
  • use language to discuss emotions
  • learning how to repair communication breakdowns and can rephrase or revise their message

Receptive

  • follow multi-step directions
  • understands comparative vocabulary (big, bigger, biggest) and location vocabulary (between, below, on top)
  • identify similarities and differences
  • recognizing simple rhyming words
  • understand simple concepts of time (yesterday, tomorrow)
  • answers simple concrete questions (yes/no, who, what, where)

Activities & Resources

Click on the pictures to find out more about the rhyming activities!

Letters and Beginning Sounds

Learning letters is very important, but learning the corresponding beginning sound that goes with the letter is even more important! 

What does that mean? Instead of just saying “this is the letter A”, try saying, “this is the letter A,  A says “ah” like apple”

Connecting the sounds to the letters helps to prepare children for learning how to read. 

How can you help your child with letters and beginning sounds at home? Check out some of these activities below!  

*Please Note: It is recommended to print all of my printable activities on card stock or laminate them for better durability.

Beginning Letter Sounds Clip Wheels

These printable Beginning Letter Sounds Clip Wheels are a great way for your child to practice their beginning letter sounds.

Tell your child what the letter is for the wheel and what sound that letter makes. Example: This letter wheel is for the letter A, remember that A says “Ah”. Can you find all of the pictures that make the “Ah” sound?

Your student will then clip all of the pictures that start with the A sound with a clothespin. This is great for fine motor skills!

You can find these clip wheels here: Beginning Letter Sound Clip Wheels

Self Correcting A-Z Puzzle

These printable puzzles are a great way to practice beginning letter sounds along with uppercase and lowercase letter matching!

These puzzles are self correcting with the animal pictures. Your child will be able to find the correct letters based on the animal pictures.

Remember to talk about the animal and the corresponding letter sound. For example: Great job putting the bear puzzle together! Remember this is the letter B, B says “buh”, B is for bear.

You can find these animal puzzles here: Self Correcting A-Z Animal Puzzles

Beginning Letter Sounds Puzzles

Here is another printable puzzle! This one is a two piece puzzle, but I also have a version that is three pieces (picture piece, uppercase piece, lowercase piece).

This puzzle is a little more challenging since the picture is on one piece and the letters are on another.

Children will match the letter puzzle pieces to the beginning sound puzzle pieces. You will definitely want to check their work on this one to make sure they matched the letters correctly. If they had a few mixups, be sure to talk about them and tell them the sounds those letters make.

For example: Great try with this one, but the car picture does not go with the letter K. Do you remember what other letter makes the “kuh” sound? Great job, you are right, it is the letter C!

You can find this puzzle here: Build & Learn with Puzzles {Beginning Sounds}

Letter & Sound Matching

I originally created this printable activity to be used with connecting links, but it is also a great activity without them!

Children will match the uppercase and lowercase letters and then find all of the beginning sound pictures that go with that letter. I have included over 150 beginning sounds picture cards. These picture cards include both the short and long vowel sounds.

I would only do a few letters at a time so your child does not become overwhelmed.

You can find this beginning letter sound activity here: Beginning Sounds with Connecting Links

If you choose to use the connecting links, you can find them here: Learning Resources Connecting Links

Memory Match

Memory match games are always a huge hit with my students. Any type of memory match game has great benefits for your child!

Memory matching games:

  • improve attention, concentration, and focus
  • use critical thinking
  • improve visual recognition
  • require spotting similarities and differences
  • use short term memory

This Beginning Letter Sounds Memory Match game is a fun way to recognize the letters and learn their sounds.

You can find this printable memory match game here: Animal Alphabet Memory Match Game

Play-Doh Letters

Kids LOVE Play-Doh, so why not build some letters using it? Print these beginning letter sounds play-doh mats and then place them into page protectors. Your child can then roll Play-Doh to form letters. Talk about the sounds the letters make. Example: J is for Jellyfish. J says “juh”.

You can find these printable Beginning Letter Sounds Animal Mats here: Build & Learn with Play Dough {Animal Alphabet Mats}

Coloring Letters

Coloring is always an easy activity, and kids always seem to enjoy it. These Beginning Letter Sounds Coloring Animal Alphabet pages are a great time filler.

Before, during, or after, talk about the pictures and the sounds that the letters make. Example: C is for cat. C says “kuh”.

You can download this freebie right below:

Books about Letters

Reading books about letters with your child is another great way to help them with their beginning letter sounds. There are tons of books that work on the alphabet and letter sounds, I bet you even have a few at your home already!

If you don’t, I really love the book A is for Apple. I really like this book because it is interactive with flaps and pictures but also tracks to trace the letters.

Letters in Names

The last letter related topic I am going to talk about is letters in names! It is important that your child learns the letters that make up their name. I wouldn’t even focus on the sounds the letters make when doing these activities, because that might get confusing for your child.

When teaching beginning sounds, I usually start with only the short vowel sounds. For example: A is for apple. After students master the short vowels I then move to long vowel sounds. For Example: A is for acorn.

If you want to talk about the sounds the letters make in your child’s name that is fine, but it is not necessary if you are just focusing on them learning their name and spelling their name.

Some fun ways to practice learning and spelling names include:

These are just a few ways to practice learning the letters in a name.

You can find my FREE editable and printable name practice mat here: Trace & Learn Name Practice Mat

Digital Beginning Sounds Activities

Other Resources I love for Letters & Beginning Sounds:

Melissa and Doug ABC Picture Boards

Melissa and Doug Alphabet Wooden Lacing Cards

Melissa and Doug Self Correcting Letter Puzzle

Learning Resources Alphabet Soup Sorters

Learning Resources Alphabet Acorns Activity Set

Learning Resources Goodie Games ABC Cookies

These are just a few ways to practice learning letters and beginning sounds! Be sure to follow me on Instagram @tayloredtoteach so you don’t miss out on any information from our #letsgetreadyforkinder Kindergarten Readiness Week! This information will be on my Instagram highlights titled “Kinder”. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

Check out my How to Get your Child Ready for Kindergarten Blog Post to get a FREE Kindergarten Readiness Checklist!

Please supervise your child while they are completing learning activities.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

DIY Picture Puzzles

Does your child love puzzles? Do you have any printed photos lying around? What about craft sticks? Learn how to make your own DIY picture puzzles below!

You will need:

How to make your puzzle:

1. Flip your picture over and see how many craft sticks you will need.

2. Trace the craft sticks so you will know where you will need to cut strips. I left a very small space between each line.

3. Cut out the strips

4. Attach the strips to the craft sticks with hot glue or double sided tape. I used hot glue.

Tada! Your puzzle is complete! My daughter is loving these easy and fun DIY picture puzzles, I hope your child loves them too!

Thank you to the Instagram page @missjaneofalltrades for this awesome idea!

Last Minute DIY Father’s Day Handprint Card

Do you need a last minute card for the special dad, father figure, or grandfather in your kids’ life? Check out this adorable, quick and easy editable Father’s day craft.

You can download the “Best Daddy Hands Down” freebie below.

You will need:

1. Download my Best Daddy Hands Down Craft

2. Make sure you have the most recent version of Adobe and also make sure you download the free personal use fonts:

3. Edit the PDF! You can change the name from Daddy to whatever you would like: Grandpa, Papa, Dad, etc and you can change the children’s names at the bottom to your own children’s names.

4. Print your customized PDF on cardstock

5. Add handprints! I use Crayola washable paint because it is non toxic and my kids make a mess!

I hope you enjoy this quick and easy last minute Father’s Day card!

You may also like my Hooked on Daddy Handprint Craft

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.