Back to School Toolkit for Teachers with Social Distancing in Mind

Back to school looks different this year! Teaching kids how to adapt to being back in school and social distancing will help make learning fun again!
Here are some helpful ideas to make the transition back to school a little less hectic. To paraphrase Theo, "Be prepared!"

Make a Checklist
üGather and organize classroom materials and supplies. (Include safety supplies, masks and hand sanitizer)
üDistance seats from each student.
üMake sure students know to bring a water bottle.
üCreate individualized bins for each student for supplies.
üPrepare student name tags and/or student desk labels.
üMake a list of activities for the fist week but don’t expect to get them all done.
üHave rules for the NEW social distancing guidelines if you are in person and think about Building Listening Skills.
üHave a classroom calendar and visual schedule.
üMake spots for forming lines.
üDecide Birthday Procedures and prepare for the first celebration.
üPlan Getting to Know You Ideas

Teacher Toolkit For Distance Learning
In order to help you with all the new social distance guidelines and distance learning, I got together with some of my favorite teacher authors to bring you some teaching tools you can use in this Back to School Tools for Teachers! This is exciting because some of these are resources are way too time consuming for teachers to create.  There are a few freebies in the mix too.
Here are the resources for your Distance Learning Teaching Toolkit:
Teacher Planning Tool for Digital OrganizationDistance Learning Animal Adaptations for Google ClassroomDistance Learning Coronavirus | How to Talk to Young Children About the Virus1/2 PRICE! Covid 19 Safety Posters and EDITABLE Desk Name PlatesBack to School Distance Learning Activity - Reading Interest Inventory SurveyPen Pal Packet for Distance LearningBack to School Getting to Know You Project for Distance LearningSocial Distancing Coloring Book EDITABLE | Classroom Rules Coloring BookMath and ELA Toolbox Distance LearningSocial Distancing Greetings | Posters | Craft | Mini Books

Best Way to Teach Guided Reading For Kindergarten

Teaching and structuring a guided reading lesson can seem overwhelming at first. Watching upper grade models don't fit well for beginning kindergarten readers.  Eventually, I figured out the best way for teaching kindergarten leveled beginning readers. My groups were rocking and rolling!

Every classroom is different and there might be something else that works best for you and your students, but overall, these are areas for guided reading, a time for teachers to help students read at a level that's not too easy or too difficult!

Setting Up for a Guided Reading Lesson

Supplies Needed:

  • table top easel to write on and/or create magnetic words, 
  • sight word cards learned so far, 
  • alphabet chart
  • highlighters,
  • squares to segment (or any small pieces of candy), pointer fingers, 
  • "spy" lenses, 
  • a quick game (a focus for phonological awareness or word work) 
  • something to hold all supplies. . I also make sure that I have the set of leveled readers for that group on hand. 
Structuring a Guided Reading Lesson
When students come to my table, I want them to be engaged right as they sit down so they reread; it's their warm-up!

Reading Warm Up

I have 3-5 books we have already read out on the table or from their "Reading Bags". They are taught to whisper read and to point to each word. Once they have one to one mastered, they remove their fingers and practice reading fluently.
I try to do running record at this time on a student. It’s not an accurate measure of their independent reading level but it lets me know what was remembered.

I also take notes about the "celebrations" that I see the students doing independently during this time. Once they understand what I am looking for I often have them tell me "What they did as a good reader."

Good Reading:

  • looked at the picture
  • reread because it didn't look right
  • reread because it didn't sound right
  • reread because it didn't make sense
  • started again because the words didn't match to pointing
  • said the sounds and made them touch (sounding out)
  • spelled the word (this helps beginning readers know sight words)

Word Work

We put our books away and do word work together. This varies based on each group’s reading level. 

If they are reading below A we read the alphabet book. Check out Teaching Beginning Readers to see how I use these books.

Once they have their letters and sounds solid and reading an A or about we do other word work. I base the activity on what I observed in the previous lesson.

Others Levels Word Work:

  • sorting alphabet letters in order
  • segmenting using sound or letter boxes
  • practicing sight words with games or finding them in the text 
  • writing a known sight word 3 times fast then reading it 3 times fast
  • practicing sight words
  • changing letters to make new words

Book Introduction

I introduce the students to the book. For example, “Today we are going to read a book about "The Little Red Hen." This is a fiction story that you may already know. Does anyone know the story of the Little Red Hen?” We would discuss what they know about this story?"
Then we look at the pages and try to find known sight words. 

I would prompt them to make connections and help them predict what they may read about as we take a picture walk through each page.

I would allow the students to share and introduce anything that might catch them off guard. We might even choral read a sentence that is on each page. 
I then set the purpose for reading by saying, “Now let’s read to see how this book is the same or different from the story you know. When we are done, we are going to tell what we learned.” 

I then have the students independently read the book aloud in a whisper voice. We may also use whisper phones.

I also listen to someone read and take a running record and record observations to celebrate. I keep a "Celebration" sheet as an anecdotal record. It really helps with report cards and IEP meetings.

Book Summary/ Comprehension Skill

After everyone is done reading, we discuss what happened in the book.

Sometimes we do this by doing a 5 finger retell, retelling with a simple beginning, middle, end retell, or by talking about characters, setting, problem, and solution for fiction books.  

For nonfiction, we talk about what we learned. 

We always look back through the book and support our thoughts with the words or try to make connections.This all just depends on their level.

You can check my 4 Fun Reading Strategies for a few ideas. 
I like to use my Guided Reading Resource Information to make sure I am targeting the right skills! Grab them FREE HERE.

Writing about Reading

We write about the book. We might:

  • write 1 sentence to tell what happened in the story
  • make a list of things from the story 
  • write about a connection made with the text
  • rewrite a sentence that was repeated 
I write on white board as a model. Depending on the time of year, we would do interactive writing (beginning), copy (once they have fluent handwriting), independent writing (end of year)

Students Take Book Home to Practice Reading

Each kiddo takes home the new book in their book bag to read at home. They can color it if they wish. They are taking home a text that I know they can read so they are successful even if someone in the family can't listen. I want them to enjoy reading and feel confident and successful.
Guided reading blog Teach Magically
After a few weeks of going through the routine guided reading will begin to flow and become easier. Structuring the guided reading lesson and keeping the routine makes it flow. 

It does take time and practice so don’t be discouraged!

I love when the kiddos say, “My favorite part of kindergarten was working at your table.” 

I hope this helps you with guided reading.

Here are few resources I use:
Emergent Readers
Alphabet Sight Word Poems

6 Best 3D Shapes Videos

Courtesy of
Math Jokes - 3D Shapes

I love teaching 3D shapes and I use videos, activities, and games to help introduce and reinforce that concept. So I put together a list of a few to help me remember and to save you time!

1. 3D Shapes  by Jack Hartman-Provides real world shapes in a fun song.

2. 3D Shapes Song for Kids by NUMBEROCK-Tells real world shapes with a cute song. Difficult math words are included.

3. Learn 3D Shapes for Kids- A story like video that teaches about sphere, cube, pyramid, cylinder, cone, triangular prism, rectangular prism, and hexagonal prism in an easy way.

4. The 3D Shape Song- A soft song using the words "I am a___." It shows sphere, cube, cone, cylinder, prism, and pyramid. Also shows length, width, and height.

5. 3D Shapes | First Grade and Kindergarten Learning- This is 20 minute teaching video that reviews the 2D shapes and then discusses the 3D videos.

6. How to Describe 3D Shapes- This 6 minute video describes what makes 3D shapes and links the 2D shapes.
Hope these help you teach 3D shapes!

How to Teach Blending the Right Way

What is successive blending?

Successive Blending is an instructional technique that provides a scaffold for students who are unable to sequence more than two sounds or have working memory issues. For example, a student who would benefit from successive blending might read the word “hit” as “hip”, “ip”, or “top”, among other possibilities. This suggests that the student is unable to remember all three sounds in order.

When using successive blending, children say the first two sounds in a word and immediately blend those two sounds together. Then, they say the third sound and immediately blend that sound with the first two blended sounds. Successive blending is less taxing on short term memory.

The following are the steps for reading the word “hit” using successive blending:
  • The reader looks at the first letter and says /h/.
  • The reader looks at the next letter and says /i/.
  • The reader blends the first two sounds together and says /hi/
  • The reader repeats /hi/, looks at the last letter and says /t/
  • The reader blends /hi/ and /t/ together to make “hit”

Why do successive blending?

Successive blending is less demanding on working memory and helps students blend words accurately.

It is difficult for many beginning readers to make the connection between a seemingly random string of phonemes (sounds) and an actual word. Because these sounds initially appear random, reproducing the sounds in sequence taxes working, short term memory.

When decoding and unknown word like“hit”, students might be able to identify the individual sounds as /h/…/i/…/t/. However, because they see these sounds as random, students are relying completely on his working memory to recall the sounds in sequence. 

Mistakes are made in various ways. For example, hit could be read as (it), sounds are left out, additional sounds are added (hist), or sounds could be out of sequence sequence (tip).

Check out blending and segmenting skills:
Blending Made Easy
Blending with Popsicles
Segmenting Snowmen

❤Debora from Teach Magically

How do you teach beginning readers?

kid reading Teach Magically Teaching beginning readers

Teaching Beginning Readers

Research has proven that students who enter kindergarten not knowing their letters are at risk. So if they learn their letters easily, the risk can be diminished. 

Jan Richardson collected data on students who enter kindergarten knowing less than 40 letters. She concluded that two instructional procedures have quickly taught letter names, letter sounds, and many concepts of print to students that did not know above 40 letters. They were:

  •  daily letter tracing practice
  • small group guided reading

pin Teach Magically teaching beginning readers


Students should daily trace an ABC book. The ABC book is designed to teach letter names (upper and lower case).
Students should say the name of the letter twice as they trace the letter in the ABC book because students with very limited letter knowledge are likely to become overwhelmed if asked to learn the letter name and letter sound at the same time (Lipson & Wixson, 2010, Successful Approaches to RTI ). 

I do this to begin a guided reading lesson until I have volunteers.

Once a student know the name of the letters add a sticker to the page or let them color that clip art.

When they come to a letter that is known, the student then has to say the picture clue and say the beginning sounds.

How do you teach with the ABC book?

I have found that using arrows and starting dot point to help kiddos trace has made all the difference.
Teach Magically Helping Beginning Readers B Bus Picture
If students know the name of the letter it will be easier for them to remember the sound of the letter since the sound for the letter is often embedded in the name of the letter  (Lipson & Wixson, 2010, Successful Approaches to RTI, p. 42).


Sitting next to the student, have them trace each upper and lowercase letter with their finger and identify the picture while saying the names (i.e. “A, a, apple. B, b, ball.”). It’s important for the student to use their pointer finger (not a pencil or marker) and trace from top to bottom because “the tactile experience is essential for building a memory trace,” says Richardson. 

If the student needs help tracing, only help with the letters that are necessary with the hand-over-hand method. 
Teach Magically Hand over Hand Helping Beginning Readers
If they can identify 10-40 letters, they will trace the whole book daily.
ADAPT-If a student knows less than 10 letters, just have them only trace the letters in their name until they are mastered.

other fun things I do to Help

Other fun ways to work with other phonological awareness skills. Here are a few ideas:
These activities integrate a variety of skills including early print concepts (Click here for free concepts of print handout)phonemic awareness, phonics, visual memory, visual scanning, letter formation, directionality, and using picture clues; students learn that reading makes sense. 

Catching readers early means we can close the achievement gap and prevent many of them from experiencing difficulty learning to read. 

Once they know a few letters and a vowel (I teach /a/ first) you can start teaching them how to blend. Check out How To Teach Blending the Right Way

Check out other games at Teach Magically Be sure to follow Teach Magically so you can check out new games and ideas to help children magically learn; plus it saves you time. 
Please connect  on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.
Make everyday magical,
💖Debora from Teach Magically

8 Easy Fine Motor Activities for the Classroom

You hear all these strange words of fine motor and gross motor along with how they are so important....BUT what are fine motor skills do you wonder? Check out gross motor here but read below to check out fine motor ideas.
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According to
"We use fine motor skills to make small movements. These movements come so naturally to most people that we usually don’t think about them. Fine motor skills are complex, however. They involve the coordinated efforts of the brain and muscles, and they’re built on the gross motor skills that allow us to make bigger movements."

Children benefit from experiences that support the development of fine motor skills in the hands and fingers. Children should have strength and dexterity in their hands and fingers before being asked to manipulate a pencil on paper but we start writing right away in kindergarten or even in preschool so many children miss the development that is so important because we push them to write...but we can still work on these skills!
Child holding Claw Pencil Grip

What are some Fine Motor Skills to develop?

ücutting with scissors-Free Cutting Reminder Page
üpushing and pulling building blocks Like Llego and Brickyard
ümanipulating play dough
üholding and maneuvering a pencil
ügetting dressed with zippers, buttons, and snaps
üusing silverware while eating
üopening and closing latches

Working on dexterity and strength first can eliminate the development of an inappropriate pencil grasp, which is becoming more commonplace as young children are engaged in writing experiences before their hands are ready so we work fine motor skills with kindergarten curriculum and call it fun! 

Different way to work and develop fine motor skills.

1. Play with Play-dough
Encourage children to squeeze, stretch, pinch and roll “snakes” or “worms” with the play-dough to spell words and create letters. You can even have children cut the play-dough with scissors. We like to make pancakes and stamp sight words from our rhyming posters.
Playdough words from Teach Magically

2. Tear Paper for Crafts
Paper tearing is an excellent way to develop fine motor skills.  The student needs to focus on using the thumb and pointer fingers to make "small" tears in construction paper. See ways to Teach Paper Tearing.
Pictures of Paper Tearing Teach Magically

3. Painting with Qtips
Different types of painting can help strengthen hand-eye coordination and manual dexterity. Finger painting gives kiddos an opportunity to use their hands...and to get messy. Painting with a q-tip helps kids learn to hold with a pincer grip. Encourage 3 fingered grasp of the pencil. Read how to create these Bumble Bees.
Qtips Painting Teach Magically

4. Cut with Scissors
Use scissors to cut simple shapes, Remember straight lines are easier. Curved lines are more difficult. I try to have the students cut shapes to help retell stories and poems. Check out Humpty Dumpty. Click to get Cutting Guide for reinforcement.

5. Copy Simple Shapes
Making triangle shapes can be difficult because of the diagonal lines. Once simple shapes can be made, pictures can then been seen. Drawing "myself" or mom is a perfect activity because "people" drawing includes many different shapes. Encourage 3 fingered grasp of the pencil. Then write and label the story! Rhyming Posters helps with writing of young readers or friends that have difficulty remembering how to spell.

6. Coloring within Lines
Teach how to slow down when close to the line. Sometimes help is needed to focus on the paper and the lines. Use the fingers for the movement of the crayon or pencils. Encourage 3 fingered grasp with this fun Bubblegum Game to learn letters and sounds.
Child Holding Highlighter with Pencil Grip Teach Magically

7. Paste and Glue
Using the glue and placing shapes in relation to each other to make pictures. We cut out rectangles to sequence Humpty Dumpty and retell the nursery Rhyme to practice working our auditory memory skills. Read other Humpty Dumpty Activities.
Child Pasting Fine Motor Skill Teach Magically

8. Connecting Building Blocks
Putting these blocks together and taking them apart works the finger muscles. The small blocks should be used as soon as the child stops putting things in their mouths. The Brickyard brand has an alligator that helps remove the blocks that is another perfect fine motor workout!
Kid building with connecting blocks Teach Magically

Check out other games at Teach Magically Be sure to follow Teach Magically so you can check out new games and ideas to help children learn.

Please connect  on FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.

Make everyday magical,
❤Debora from Teach Magically