Interactive Notebooks in Kindergarten

When I first saw interactive notebooks, I wanted to do them in my classroom! They were like a worksheet but 100 times better, because they were hands on, engaging, and kids loved them. However, I was under the impression they would be "too hard" for Kindergarteners. I wish I didn't underestimate my Kinders ability and tried them years ago! After using them in my classroom for the past year, my students were the BIGGEST FANS of interactive notebooks! They practically begged me for more!
Interactive notebooks are an amazing tool for your students, because you can pack an entire year's worth of skills into one handy notebook! My students proudly displayed theirs for Open House, and the parents were impressed to see how far their student came in just a few months. There are so many options on Teachers Pay Teachers, and for every grade level/subject! We did a page in our Phonics notebook every Friday to review our phonics skill of the week. At the end of the year, my students were able to take it home and it had everything they learned for the year in one place.

There are so many benefits in using interactive notebooks in your classroom! All the cutting and gluing helps your students develop their fine motor skills. I have so many students that come into K, not knowing how to hold scissors or glue without drowning their paper in glue. Doing these notebooks allows your students to have lots of practice with cutting. At first, the notebooks may look like a hot mess, but that's okay because they are practicing these skills and learning along the way. By the end of the year, you will be surprised at how far they've come!

Interactive notebooks in Kindergarten can seem daunting at first, so I'm going to share some tips and tricks I learned along the way!

To get the most bang for your buck, buy the notebooks when they on sale during the back to school season. I think I got 50 for about $5 at Target! Another option is to put it on the student supply list if you are able to. Personally, I like the spiral bound notebooks because they are easy to fold back and flip the pages, but the black and white composition books work too!

 Don't want to use notebooks? You can use a piece of construction paper or Astrobrights paper instead!

To prep our weekly notebook page, I would pre-cut the edges. I used this handy paper cutter to do multiple pages at once. This alone saved my students time and only took me about 3 minutes. I would have all the pieces ready to go for more students and their notebooks in our notebook bin. We developed a routine starting the first day and stuck to it for the year.

Every Friday, at my small group center, we would review our phonics skill of the week using the interactive notebook page. Completing this in a small group setting, really helped my students get the hang of it. It was only a couple students at a time that I needed to help, and I was right there to help them if/when they needed it. Doing this activity on a weekly basis helped my students remember the steps and feel confident in doing it independently. After a month or so of doing this once or twice a week in small groups, I would have them do it independently at a center or during our phonics time. They were able to do this with minimal help by mid October!

I try not to "baby" my Kindergarteners, aka do every single task for them. Yes, I prep the pages, but they do the majority of the cutting and gluing! Teach them to do it independently. They CAN do it, if you give them the chance. I model how to put it together, step by step, SLOWLY, then help them along. By the 3rd time you're working on it, you will start to hear students say, "Oh! I know how to do this part! I don't need any help." Once you hear that, you know you've succeeded!
Remember: You are not looking for picture perfect. You are looking for two things: if they tried their best and they understand the skill being taught! This is what an interactive notebook looks like in Kindergarten and I think it's wonderful!

There can be A LOT of pieces when you are working on your interactive notebooks. We like to keep a "tidy tub" at the table. A tidy tub is a small bin reserved for scraps of paper. When students cut something out, they put the scraps in the tidy tub. Once the table is finished with the activity, one of the students goes and dumps it in the big trash can. I love using tidy tubs because their work space stays clear and students don't accidentally lose the little pieces that go with the notebook.

Almost all of my students were able to complete a page in about 15 minutes. However, if a student was taking awhile to finish, or we had to switch centers, I would just clip their extra pieces with a paperclip to the page that they were working on. They would have to finish it at some point in the day or during our Finish it Friday time.

Here's a free page for you to try out! All About the Letter Aa Phonics Interactive Notebook Page

Want to try phonics interactive notebooks in your classroom? Grab the yearlong bundle here!

I hope I helped you feel more confident in branching out and trying new, engaging activities in your Kinder classroom!

-Kristina

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my affiliate links. This helps support my blog, Sweet for Kindergarten. I only recommend products that I love. All ideas shared are my own.

My Experience Working with VIPKID

Hey there!

As you may know, I am taking a year off of teaching to stay at home with my new baby girl! I am so blessed to be able to do this and it's all thanks to Teachers Pay Teachers and VIPKID. Without those two companies, I would not be able to stay at home, and I am SO thankful!

I receive many questions about VIPKID, so I am going to answer most of them in this post!

•What is VIPKID?
VIPKID is an online teaching platform where you teach English to kids living in China. The company is also planning to expand to other countries in Asia in the near future!

•What is required?
All you need is a Bachelor's Degree and some form of teaching experience (babysitting and volunteer work count!) If you have an ESOL endorsement, that definitely helps as well.

•How does it work? 
The online classroom works like a video chat, so you can see/hear the student and the student can see/hear you, while they can also see the lesson. You can draw on the screen with a pencil tool, to circle and underline different parts as you go. Some lessons are now interactive, which means you can use your mouse to drag and drop certain parts of the slide. This is what the online class looks like.
•What do you have to prep for your classes?
Class prep is minimal! The lesson is preselected for your student based on their level. You just enter the classroom and click on the lesson button. The slides look and work like a Power Point. At the top, it shows the objectives for the lesson, as well as any sentences the student needs to be able to say. At the bottom, it has cues for the teacher to follow on each slide. When I first started, I would review the slides for about 5 minutes before the class so I knew what to expect. After about a month of teaching, I felt comfortable teaching the lessons without any prep.

•What supplies do you need? Do you need a "classroom"? 
VIPKID encourages the use of props and TPR (Total Physical Response aka hand movements) I am very simplistic when it comes to the props I use, because I find that using TPR and expressions is enough. I usually only use props for the lower level classes. Props can include flashcards, stuffed animals, food, pretty much anything you can find around your house that relates to your lesson.

Here is what I suggest that are MUST HAVES: 
-Mini Whiteboard
-Dry Erase Marker/Eraser
-Rewards System
-Sign with your name on it- Mine is "Teacher Kristina" I point to mine at the beginning of the lesson, so that the student can see my name easily.
-Headphones with microphone. This is the kind I bought:


Here is what I suggest you MAY HAVE:
-Puppet (to demonstrate when to answer questions)
-Flashcards ( I bought the dollar ones in the dollar spot at Target and those work great for teaching letters, sight words, animals, etc)
-Props that relate to the lesson. For example, one of the lesson teaches about healthy and not healthy food. You can grab an apple and a chocolate bar to show them healthy/unhealthy.
For my classes, I teach in our den in my little "office space", where I also work on my TPT store. This room also doubles as our "guest room", so when we have guests, I end up teaching in my daughters room. This is where the little TV tray comes in handy because I can move it anywhere! This past summer, we also took a last minute road trip and I ended up teaching my classes in a hotel bathroom! You can literally teach anywhere!

This is what my classroom looks like. I spent about $5 at the Target dollar spot!

•How much do you get paid?
Your first interview will determine how much you get paid, so definitely be prepared to do your best job! The minimum rate is from $7 to $9 per 25 minute class. If you show up to class on time, you automatically get a dollar added to that! If you teach 30 classes in a month, you get an extra .50 per class, and if you teach 45 classes in a month, it's an extra dollar! There are also incentives if book a short notice class or get a trial student to sign up. Pretty much, its about $19 to $21 per hour (two classes) you teach.

•Do you need to speak Chinese?
Nope! All I know how to say in Chinese is "Hello" (and only because we had Chinese class at the last school I taught at) Just like if you were teaching a non English speaker, the fastest way to learn is with total immersion. I speak English the whole class, just slower and with lots of TPR.

•What is the interview like?
The interview is made up of 3, sometimes 4 parts. The first is a simple application you fill out with your information and experience. Once you pass, you will be contacted to schedule a time for your interview/demo class. You will talk with someone who works for VIPKID in China. First, you will do the demo class, which is a shortened version of an actual class. They are looking for expressive people who use TPR and give lots of positive feedback throughout. I watched this video to prepare and had a few little props to help me. Then, they ask you a few quick and easy questions, and talk about how you did on your demo class. They also discuss your pay rate at this time, and the next steps in the interview.

After you pass the demo class, you will have to schedule a mock class with a VIPKID mentor teacher (someone who teaches VIPKID classes and helps hire new teachers). This is 2 classes you have to prep for- a lower level class and an upper level class. I watched this video to prep for this part and had a few little props as well. Once you pass that, you may have to do an additional mock class, if your mentor teacher thinks you need a little more practice. This doesn't mean you won't get hired! I was able to start teaching right after the first mock class.

Once you're hired, you will complete a background check, upload photos and a brief bio, and an intro video. The intro video can look like this video, short and sweet. I did mine in about 10 minutes and uploaded it. I know the interview portion seems lengthy, but honestly this was the most prep/work I've had to do with VIPKID. The classes are a piece of cake compared to the interview! I just tell everyone to get the interview done as fast as you can so you can get the hard part over with. Now, you can start teaching!

•Can you pick your work schedule?
YES! This is the absolute best part. Going on vacation? Don't open classes. Don't want to work on Sundays? Don't open classes. On the VIPKID teacher homepage, you will have a Bookings page. This is where you can open and close time slots. The hours vary depending on which time zone you're in. I usually open from 5am-6:30am on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and then usually one weekend (Friday or Saturday night) You open time slots about two weeks in advance, so you choose when you want to work. Once you are booked, you cannot cancel without a penalty (unless its an emergency), so make sure you are able to teach when you open the time slot.

This is what the bookings page looks like:
•How do you get booked for classes?
Usually on Sunday night, there is a "frenzy" when the Chinese parents book teachers for the following week. I wake up on Monday morning with some classes booked! Now, you won't always get every single slot you have opened booked, especially when you first start. I started during Chinese New Year, so I only taught 4 classes my first month. Once that passed, I was getting fully booked in March and April! Don't worry if it's slow to start, it will pick up.

•Can I do this while holding a teaching job?
Yes! You can either teach in the morning before school, depending on what time zone you are in, or weekend nights (Friday and Saturday). I was fully booked for two months during the school year and taught an hour and a half every morning, then would get ready for school and go to school. I did have to wake up super early, but I just made sure to go to bed by 9:30 every night, and I was fine.

Do you still have questions? Feel free to email me at sweetforkindergartentpt@gmail.com or message me on Instagram and I'd be happy to help!

Are you interested in applying? Use my referral link to apply, and I will be able to help you through each step of the application and interview process! Once you sign up, you will receive an email from me with lots of tips, videos, a free rewards system and more! My referral was a co worker and she helped me so much- whether it was a question I had, how to do certain parts of the interview, or questions I had about teaching the lessons once I was hired. I love helping others get started with their VIPKID journey!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase through one of my affiliate links. This helps support my blog, Sweet for Kindergarten. I only recommend products that I love. All ideas shared are my own. 

Classroom Management Series Week 4: Organization

Hey there!

Thanks for coming back for the final week of my Classroom Management Summer Series. This post will be all about organization! Yes, I know this week's topic is more classroom management for YOU as the teacher, however, your students will surely benefit if you are put together and organized.
As long as I can remember, I've always been a very organized, color coded, alphabetic order, "let's make a to do list" kinda girl. Clearly, organization is most definitely my strength in the classroom. Most people who walk in notice it right away. "Wow, you're organized!" is the most common compliment I get from new parents on Meet the Teacher day. Funny story, during my first teaching interview, I was asked the typical question, "What is your biggest weakness?" Being nervous, I kinda froze and blurted out "organization". Then, I had to tell them how I planned to become more organized (which was already what I planned on doing in my first class). Oh well, I got the job and that was definitely not my weakness my first year, but they'll never know.

Classroom Management Series Week 3: Behavior

Hi there!

Thanks for stopping by for Week 3 of my Classroom Management Summer Series, where I am going to be talking all about behavior management! This will be many of your student's first time in a school setting. They will not know how to sit properly, walk in line, or how to act in the lunch room. In addition to teaching them routines and procedures, you need to teach them how they behave at school.

Classroom Management Series- Week 2: Routines and Procedures

Hi friends!

Thank you for joining me on Week 2 of the Kindergarten Classroom Management Summer Series. Last week, I talked about how to set up and implement successful centers in your classroom. This week, I am going to talk all about Routines and Procedures!
Create a consistent schedule
Kindergarteners NEED structure and a consistent schedule. I don't know how many times something threw off our day- an assembly, fire drill, class party, etc. If you don't have a consistent schedule, ALL your days will feel hectic. Your first step is to create a daily schedule and STICK to it. Things come up, and it will all be okay. Your students will come to expect that schedule and will know if it's different or off. Some schools make your whole schedule for you, while other schools may give you the times for lunch, recess, and specials, but the rest is up to you. Once you have your schedule, you can create routines and procedures for your day.