Kindergarten Conference Part 2

I know I said last weekend that I would get this post up and running, but unfortunately I was sick most of the week and then with grades and yearbook deadlines looming overhead this post was put on the back burner.  I am sure you all know how that goes.

A couple weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the Illinois Kindergarten conference. was amazing!  I have never been to such a well put together conference with so many fabulous sessions.  It was hard to choose which sessions to sign up for because they all looked amazing!  I signed up for every session that Deanna Jump and Kim Adsit had available because I just thought I could learn so much from them.  I also attended two sessions from Shari Sloane and one session from Heidi Butkus.  There were a couple other sessions I attended, but they really weren't anything to write home about.

I went to a total of 13 sessions throughout the two days {this is including the Bloggers' Bash on Thursday night}.  I am not going to tell you everything I learned, because that would take days.  I just wanted to share some of my ah-ha moments with you!

My first lightbulb moment was in my very first session where Ms. Deanna Jump was presenting.  It was actually the very first thought I wrote down in my notebook:  ongoing assessments.  Now, you may be thinking well duh!  But basically what she said is why give the students a separate assessment at the end of the quarter.  If during centers you see they are able to understand rhyming words then mark it down.  I have never thought to "assess" the students center work in that way.  I was thinking "Duh, Amanda!" because I should have thought about this sooner.  I am going to spend a few minutes each week now going around while my students are doing center work to check the skills they are able to do independently.  This will be a real time saver when it comes to report card time.

My second lightbulb moments was in my second session with Kim Adsit.  It was titled "Yeehaw!  Wild About Numbers."  Now once again, this may be something you are familiar with, but it was brand new to me:  dot plates.  How have I never heard of dot plates before?  Here is a picture of some of my dot plates that I have started making for my classroom.

Basically, Kim had all these fabulous ways for students to learn many math concepts using these dot plates.  First students start off by showing students a plate with dots and have them make their plate look the same, but the students would use counters.  Next, you want to hold up a plate and you want to students to have instant recognition without counting the dots.  You are building mental images.  Then mix up the colors of the dots and use two colors on one plate instead of one and students need to do the same thing.  Then you progress with harder concepts like more and less, how many more to 5 or 10, and true or false questions: are these equal?  You can then use all of these same activities with five frames, ten frames, and rekenreks.  Kim also showed us how to make our own rekenreks using a piece of card stock, two pipe cleaners, and beads of two colors.  Here is a picture of the one I made during the session.

I plan on starting to do the activities with the dot plates first.  When we come back from spring break, I am going to do these activities for about 5 minutes at the beginning of my math lessons as like a warm up.  I will also have the materials readily available so I could always grab and do the activities if we have five extra minutes sometime during the day.  :)

My third lightbulb moment was basically just Heidi Butkus from Heidisongs.  I had heard of Heidisongs before this session.  I have seen Pinterest pins of Heidisongs, but I had never gone any further than that.  After listening to Heidi speak and seeing some of her fabulous songs, I realized that I needed to do MORE with song in my classroom.  I love teaching with song, but usually used songs for science and social studies content.  I am loving Heidi's sight word songs, letter and sound songs, math songs, etc.  Since coming back from the conference, we have started using some of her math songs during calendar time.  Boy does counting to 100 seem like a lot more fun when we sing and dance while we do it.  She has a great song called "What Comes Next?" which helps students to know which number comes after the 9 numbers like 19,20 or 29, 30.  Singing this song a few times a week has helped my students definitely remember "What Comes Next?".  :)  One more song I want to mention is Heidi's tattling song.  Now when my students start to tattle, I give them the motion she does in the song when she asks "Is it dangerous?  Is someone hurt? Is it an emergency?" and then my students quickly think about whether what they are going to say is a tattle or a tell.  Heidi has all the words and motions to her songs on her website for free.  I am planning on using all her sight word songs for the rest of this year and definitely next year as I introduce the sight words.  I think this will help my class immensely when it comes to sight word recognition.

I will do one last post on the conference in Part 3.....stay tuned!!  Also, I am working a few new TpT items that I am very excited about so check back to hear about those hopefully later in the week!  :)


  1. I am still so jealous that you got to go to that conference. I love the dot plate idea. You should check out the book Tattelin' Madeline. It goes along with those same ideas of tattling and telling :) Have a great rest of the week..glad you are feeling better!
    Kickin’ it in Kindergarten

    1. I plan on going to the library over break and getting some great books for the next few weeks of instruction when we come back. I will definitely be checking out that book.

  2. Hi! I just posted back to you on my blog, but just wanted to tell you I am your newest follower! So glad to be able to check out all your wonderful teaching ideas! ;-)

    Kayla Parker

  3. That sounds like an amazing conference, I'm so jealous!!! Thanks for sharing what you learned! Hope you are feeling better!

    Clearly Kindergarten

    1. Thanks Sarah! Feeling much better! Just in time for Spring Break. :)

  4. Wow! I so want to go to a conference like that! It sounds like you learned SO much!

    Kimberly Ann
    Live, Laugh, I love Kindergarten

    1. I truly hope you get the opportunity to go to a conference like that. It is amazing how much it pumps you up about your teaching and trying new ideas!

  5. I love all the stuff Heidi does. I teach pre-k and have all her basic cds. It is amazing what the kids pick up using those cds. The color words are a hit. Most of my class can recognize their color words just from signing the songs. I love her fight song. I use this to help the kids get along during center time. The trace, cut, and glue song have also been very helpful this year. As you can tell I use so much of her stuff and could go on and on about how wonderful she is. Of course we sing her potty song before we use the bathroom. I have 13 boys and 3 girls so it helps to remind everyone would I expect in the bathroom.