centers, Ideas for teachers, kindergarten, letters and sounds, prek, Preschool, Teaching ideas

Three Easy Steps to Make a Center Using Resources You Already Have

I have always been the biggest fan of using what I have to make learning fun. Several years ago I started turning worksheets into centers because hands-on learning gets me the engagement and mastery I’m hoping for.

This is the easiest way to make centers with things you already have!

Let me show you how I took one of my turkey worksheets and made it a fun sensory bin letter matching activity!

1. I made a few extra copies of the worksheet on colorful cardstock. I picked yellow, orange, and red for fall colors.

2. Cut out the items from the colorful pages. Leave the original page for a matching mat.

3. Add to a fun sensory bin! I like to use simple reusable sensory bin materials that are not messy. Fabric decor leaves work great for Fall!

Now, you have a matching game with fun colors and materials that keeps kids more engaged and giving them more practice than just a worksheet. You can even give them the worksheet as a closing activity to use what they practiced in the center.

I left the instructions on this worksheet so you can see how this page was intended to be used. I turned it into a numbers matching. You could even color the correct number of feathers on each of the pieces you cut out to add that counting skill in there.

I hope this gives you an easy idea to try in your own classroom!

Ideas for teachers, kindergarten, prek, Preschool, Teaching ideas


Children are social creatures at any age. That’s why recess, lunch, and group work has always been a favorite for students.

Don’t fret over a chatty class. You can use that to your advantage! 

I have 3 simple hacks for transforming your chatty class into an engaged class! 

kindergarten, letters and sounds, prek, Preschool

How to Teach Letters and Sounds through play and Games

I recently saw a kinder teacher asking how to teach kindergarten in a new way by using games to teach letters. That, of course, is EXACTLY how I teach letters and sounds. And, it works better than any other method I’ve seen!

The engagement is high for each student. Having a playful purpose makes kids want to practice their letter formation and their letter sounds. I have never seen kids so excited to participate, and I have never seen my most struggling learners catch on as quickly as they do with these programs and activities.

Here is a quick guide how I teach letters and sounds through play and games.

1. Letter-A-Day Phonics Safari

Grab Letter-A-Day Phonics Safari here:

This has a fun story for each letter sound. Students remember the stories, making them remember the sound so much easier. We add motions to match the sounds for even more memorable playful learning.

This also has a fun story for letter formation where students are helping our letter animal by completing the picture with letters as parts of a shape. Again, I have never seen kids more excited and willing to practice writing letters. With regular practice pages, it’s like pulling teeth. But, not with this set!

You can see some activities from this set in action in this video.

This Phonics Safari can also be used as a letter a week or a letter every two days depending on what your students need. In a normal year, we could easily cover a letter a day and have students retain the letters and sounds. However, this year we are seeing more struggling with learning letters and sounds, so we moved it to a letter ever 2 days.

2. Letter ID and Sound Games

I use games as a whole group cumulative letter ID and sound practice and review. This is where I see real progress with my students. I play these games once or twice a day. It’s always our closing activity for the day, but we play when we have a spare few minutes throughout the day and before we go to centers. I also make this game one of our Literacy centers. The kids know how to play it really well from our whole group plays, so they can play with a small group independently.

You can grab my Cat and Buttons Centers/Games set here:

Some other games we play as whole group, small group, and centers is:

If you have followed my teaching journey for long, you know how much I LOVE a good learning game for my lessons and centers! I hope this helps you get some ideas for making your literacy block more playful, fun, and engaging.

End of the year, Gifts for students, Ideas for teachers, prek, Preschool, Teaching ideas, Uncategorized



I love a little end of the year gift to let my students know I have enjoyed them this year, that I am so proud of them, and that I will miss them as they move up. 

My gift selection for the year usually depends on what I can find on a good enough deal to buy for the entire class. Here are some of my favorite end of the year gift ideas PLUS free editable tags you can download. {I will throw some links in where I can to make it easier to find everything you need. Some links will be my special affiliate links.} 


A book with a sweet note to your student is a great treasure for kiddos to keep forever. I love to talk about a special characteristic/personality trait they have that I have enjoyed during the school year. I also add in how I am so proud of them and how I know they will do big things. This is where I will mention something they are really good at, interested in, or want to be when they grow up. You can usually find good deals on book collections in the scholastic book orders or their website. I either pick a book that I think they will love, or I pick a book that we really enjoyed that school year. If you can’t find a book, a card with this note works just as well. I love finding sets like 5 Pete the Cat books for $21. You will have to connect to your school or teacher account to see that deal. But you can also find Pete the Cat sets 2 for $11 in the scholastic regular shop menu. Pete the Cat is always a big hit through the year, so I pick that when I can find it at the right price. Any book your kiddos liked this year will work though. 


Sunglasses with a Summer-y tag. I can normally find a class set of glasses for around $15 like these Neon Sunglasses and print the cute tag for them. Heart shaped glasses cost a little bit more, but they are super cute. 

You can download this tag below. I added text boxes where you can type in the two options I have made. I print on colorful cardstock.End-of-the-Year-Gift-Tags-for-Students-Sunglasses-EDITABLEDownload


This is one that I only do when I can find really good deals on sand pails with mini shovels. Inside I put some simple items like sidewalk chalk and bubbleswith tissue paper for looks. I usually take two pieces of chalk and tie them together with a thin ribbon. 

You can download the editable tag for this gift below.End-of-the-Year-Gift-Tags-for-Students-Sand-Pail-EDITABLEDownload

You may not have in-person kiddos this year thanks to the pandemic. There are ways around this. I drove around and hand delivered (or left on door steps) my end of the year gifts and binders last year. It took me a few days and several hours of driving, but was totally worth it to see my babies one last time for the year. You could always set up a school pickup line though. That would make it way easier on you. My kids’ teachers did this and it worked well. They just set an hour or two that they would be standing at the school entrance and we got to drive by, see their sweet teachers, and pick up gifts and belongings.

You may notice the binders I send home with students. Those are scrapbooks I put together throughout the year by saving a craft for each holiday or special day at school, plus I add the alphabet crafts we do so they have a special alphabet book to read through. I will put together a post for that one day. 

I hope this helps you find a good idea to send your students off with love this year! Summer is almost here!!

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Preschool Resources Collection


preschool cover

In addition to the many resources I provide for K-8 teachers, I have been adding some pretty neat preschool curriculum items to my collection.

Kiddos have a lot to learn in the early childhood years, and we as parents and teachers play a huge role in their development. I am currently developing 3 year old and 4 year old pre-k curriculum sets that will help preschool teachers and parents get their kiddos prepped for kinder. This preschool program will have many components that help children learn through play and exploration. I focus on character development, social skills, motor skills, math, reading, and more!

My preschool curriculum is a multidimensional approach to learning that effectively prepares students and their families for Kindergarten. My programs are custom developed using the most up-to-date educational approaches to meet the spiritual, intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of preschool aged children. This purposeful play based preschool program has a math and literacy-rich academic curriculum that is enhanced with hands-on learning in a small group setting. Specialized activities are included that incorporate movement, as well as monthly Mad Science days to build each student’s STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) skills. I believe that children should be taught in a variety of ways to reach every learner at their own level while being loved on by their teachers. I also believe play is a major factor in child development, and encourage free play as well playing with a purpose. My preschool programs are a great academic foundation for teachers, parents, and preschools.

I have a curriculum bundle for three year olds that has been super successful in my classroom and in my school. This is a collection of everything I use to teach math and literacy to three year olds. Lesson plans, printables, minilessons, and centers are included in this bundle of resources.

Here is a look at the scope for the year’s lesson plans:


I also have a full year bundle for four year olds and I just added my 4 year old literacy program AND my 4 year old math program. This already includes a full year of lesson plans and printables for learning numbers and letters, plus theme activites. A leveled reading program is in the process of being added with the level AA currently included!

IMG_1656 (1)

Here is a look at the year of learning for the year’s lesson plans:


AND to help you even more with your planning, I have attached a sample lesson plan for a week of learning. I like to build my lesson plan with my schedule so I can see times as I glance at it through the day.

preschool lesson plan and schedule

You can also find some really fun centers, games, and much more!!

Feel free to email me to request information or if you have special requests.

Email me at:  elementaryali [at] gmail [dot] com

Here are some simple FREEBIES that provide real learning for prek – kinder kiddos:

Letter writing Practice single line cover
Kindergarten Sight Word Sentences cover free