Santa Gave Me a Coil Binder

Okay, Santa did not really give me the coil binder.  I squirreled away all of my Christmas cash others gifted me and purchased the binder on my own.  However, in the spirit of Christmas, I am going to say it was Santa since I did use Christmas cash to seal the deal!

Tah-dah!  My brand new coil binder sitting in the area of my office I lovingly call "the lamination station".

I have wanted a coil binder for a looooong time.  I actually own two comb binding machines that my husband found at Goodwill.  They are both nice, but they each have serious faults that cause me to keep both of the units on hand.  Also, they take up a giant footprint in my home office.  Oh, and unless I E-6000 (super glue) the comb teeth, pages pop out of whatever it is I have made for my classroom.  It's beyond annoying; especially when it comes to making books for my class library.  (I am so tired of re-comb binding books and work packets.)

After researching this topic to death, I ended up choosing the TruBind machine with an electric coil insert wheel.  It was less than half the cost of machines other teachers (and home school moms) are blogging about, and it seems to match most (if not all) the specs of the more expensive units.  I made sure to purchase several sizes of coil bindings while I was at it.  I chose 1/4",  1/2",  and 1".

My first two attempts at coil binding were successful!
I plan to get a lot of practice coil binding my entire world, and let me be the first to say, this machine will take a bit of practice before it isn't time consuming to use.  Watching youtube videos to gain tips and hits to bind more efficiently was a wise move, but I still need to practice before setting out to bind a classroom set of morning workbooks!  Lucky for me, the perfect opportunity for practice resides in my home office.  With a new round of grad school looking me smack in the face, I anticipate an enormous amount of paperwork ahead of me.  The first thing on my agenda was getting to work reprinting my "teaching calendar" and binding it.  It will be used exclusively for my graduate work.  Mission accomplished!  (See image above.)  The bound book under the calendar was my "trial run" book.  I basically yanked an old exam study guide out of a three ring binder for practice, which should explain why the paper features binder holes.

You can check out the coil binding machine and all of the specs HERE.  If you get one, be sure to buy the crimping pliers.  They cut and crimp the end of the coil all at once -- slick.

Smart Phone Tablet Counting Hands-On Math Mats 1-25 Low Prep (Pre-K to K)

Thanks for your interest in my Smart Tablet Counting Mats (1-25). This download contains four versions of my tablet/smart phone themed counting mats: color or b/w, with or without numerals (6 mats per version). Choose which version meets the needs of your students. There are 24 printable pages in all.

Students use transparent counting chips, puff-pom balls, beads, buttons, number tiles, or other small manipulatives to count and match one manipulate per circle or number on the mat. 



Click image to preview and purchase this printable download.

Click image to preview and purchase this printable download.

Assembly is super simple – no to low prep, depending on how you wish to use them. 

No Prep:
Black & white pages can be printed & used as counting mats, recording sheets, and coloring sheets for fast finishers.


Low Prep:
Print the counting mat pages (choose color or black and white) and laminate (or slide into page protector).

{Tip 1} If manipulatives are ending up everywhere but the mat, try placing the mat(s) on a large fast food/restaurant tray or cookie sheet for each student. That usually does the trick for students unable to figure out space boundaries on their own.

{Tip 2} I also use black & white copies as counting/number assessments.

Find more of my math activities HERE!


Click HERE to preview and purchase my Smart Tablet Counting Mats (1-25) math center activity!

Happy Counting!

Mrs. Wishy-Washy Sequence & Retell Activities

Teachers, one of my favorite and best selling teaching resources has received an upgrade!  My Mrs. Wishy-Washy story retelling cards, which happen to be inspired by Mrs. Wishy-Washy by Joy Cowley, now have activities and character crowns to match.

Click here to preview and purchase this packet.


Because I actually use the items I sell in my own classroom, I like to give my products a little face lift now and then; especially when I realize I have created another fabulous classroom tool that other teachers might love as much as I do.  This upgrade totally fits that mold.

I started off adding four character crowns for students to wear during story reenactments.  Why?  Because my students LOOOOOOVE these crowns, and they love acting out the story while wearing these them.  I wanted other teachers and students to have the benefit of using the crowns.  I typically wait until late in the year to introduce Mrs. Wishy-Washy to my pre-k class.  Part of the reason I wait so long is to protect my sanity {selfish!}.  Once kids are introduced to Mrs. Wishy-Washy, it is really challenging for them to let her go.  In other words, I have to deal with kids begging for all of the character crowns, books, and reenactment supplies loooooong after I have put it all away for the season.  As years went on, I decided to leave it all out for the remainder of the school year.  It certainly wasn't hurting anyone to leave the book on my classroom library shelf for an extended period of time.  At some point, I realized several of my non-verbal students were connecting with this book and reenactment activity when they really had not been motivated by much of anything all year.  Last school year, I literally watched one little girl go from non-verbal to verbal...while acting out the parts of Mrs. Wishy-Washy.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.  I had never heard her voice until she blurted out, "Just look at you!"  {It is a pretty magical book.}


I like to print the crowns on card stock and laminate them for durability.  A small piece
of Velcro makes the crown straps adjustable to fit a variety of noggins.

From there, I decided to add in a few sequence activities I have used the past few years.  Children love both activities.  The crown is awesome simply because, well, it's a crown.  I mean, who doesn't love a good crown?  Especially when it's a Mrs. Wishy-Washy inspired masterpiece to take home and show off.  The story retell necklace is a ton of fun to make.  Children color the pictures, cut them out, and string them with pony beads in between each sequence card.  The beads are optional, but they sure do make a difference in A) the weight of the necklace and B) keeping the sequence cards separated for story retelling.  I suppose they really do a great job of fancying up the necklace, as well.

I made each sequence activity in color and b/w.  You choose which will work best with your group of kiddos.

If you already own a set of my Mrs. Wishy-Washy inspired story sequence and retell cards, be sure to go into your Teachers Pay Teachers account (under the "my purchases" tab) and download the new packet so you can print your new sequence activities.  If you do not already own this packet, you can purchase one by clicking HERE.  :)

Ten Frames and Number Cards (0-100) Hands-On Math {SNOWMAN}

New product discount! 50% off until 12/13 at 4PM (PST).


Click to preview and purchase this download.
Thanks for your interest in my Snowman Ten Frames (1-10) and Number Cards (1-100)! These cards and mats are very versatile. Here’s how I use them in my classroom...

Number Cards: On card stock, print the number cards pages, cut along the lines, laminate, and place in your math center to practice number recognition and sequence. (I use plastic pencil boxes for number card storage in my math center area. They stack nicely and keep number cards in one spot, with a lid.) 

Ten Frame Mats: On card stock, print each ten frame mat and laminate. Students practice counting by placing playdough balls or small manipulatives within the ten frames as they go. (Puff-pom balls work great for this, but any small item will do!)

{Tip 1} I prefer to use my number cards on a magnet board...so I add adhesive magnetic business cards to the backs of each card.

{Tip 2} Try having students place number cards within the ten frames. Once the frames are laminated, they could also use dry erase markers to number each snowman within the frame.

{Tip 3} If you have a magnet board, try taping off a ten frame with painters tape for student use. (So much fun!)

{Tip 4} Print extra number cards to use with your classroom calendar & number of the day chart.

My students love to count! I see their confidence growing as we use the number cards daily for practice during our morning meeting’s calendar time. I hope your students love this hands-on method of counting as much as mine do.

Find more of my math hands-on activities HERE!

Find more of my winter products HERE!

Happy Counting,
Heather Cacak
Pre-K Teacher Heather

Christmas Tree Counting Hands-On Math Mats 1-25 Low Prep (Pre-K to Kindergarten)


Thanks for your interest my Trim the Tree Christmas Tree Counting Mats (1-25). This download contains four versions of my Christmas themed counting mats: color or b/w, with or without numerals (6 mats per version). Choose which version meets the needs of your students. There are 24 printable pages in all.


Click here to preview and purchase this printable packet.



Click here to see more of this packet!


Students use transparent counting chips, buttons, puff-pom balls , or other small manipulatives to count and match one manipulate per circle or number on the mat. 

Assembly is super simple – no to low prep, depending on how you wish to use them. 

No Prep:
Black & white pages can be printed & used as counting mats, recording sheets, and coloring sheets for fast finishers.

Low Prep:
Print the counting mat pages (choose color or black and white) and laminate (or slide into page protector).

{Tip 1} If manipulatives are ending up everywhere but the mat, try placing the mat(s) on a large fast food/restaurant tray or cookie sheet for each student. That usually does the trick for students unable to figure out space boundaries on their own.

{Tip 2} I also use black & white copies as counting/number assessments.

Find more of my hands-on PreK & Kinder math activities HERE!

Check out my other Christmas and holiday themed resources HERE!

Happy Holiday Counting,
Heather Cacak
{Pre-K Teacher Heather}

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Christmas-Tree-Counting-Hands-On-Math-Mats-1-25-Low-Prep-Pre-K-to-Kindergarten-2255070

Guacamole & Hummus {Recycled Containers}

Let's talk about guacamole and hummus; two of my favorite foods in the whole world!  Because they are two of my favorites, I must practice portion control.  Due to my level of laziness, I buy single serve containers of hummus and guacamole at Costco.  (They really do keep me from eating an entire batch of chips and guac by myself.  Also, they speed up the process of throwing a lunch together quickly!)

They look like this once you get them home and out of their respective boxes.

It did not take me long to realize the tiny little containers were beginning to stack up inside my recycle bin. At that point, I made the decision to begin utilizing them in my classroom as a sanity and time saver.  For instance, I use them daily for manipulatives of all types.  From alphabet tiles to spider shaped erasers, they come in handy to contain loose parts!

They fit into standard muffin tin cups if you have a need to group items.

I have found the containers to be a blessing when it comes to holding various manipulatives.
I really, really, really dislike washing paint containers.  These little cups eliminated washing.  At the rate I was collecting them, I could throw them away at the end of the day and still have enough to last me throughout a lifetime of teaching -- no washing required.  If I actually have leftover paint  or glue in the containers, they last days and days with a bit of plastic wrap draped over the top.  {TIP} I usually place all of the paint containers on one tray and cover with one piece of plastic wrap.  This allows me to get a bit more use out of each one before tossing it.

Here they are featuring liquid tempera paints.

And here they are holding solid tempera cakes.
{Side Note: Record player spin art is so much fun!}
With the exception of very few, most of my students last year were rather young and several of them had special needs.  Due to a combination of ages and situations, it became an issue to set out typical tempera paint cups at the easel.  When I resorted to using my tiny guac/hummus containers with a very small amount of paint, all of the paint easel and art project issues were instantly solved!

Perfect for a tiny bit of glue.
Perfect for controlled amounts of manipulatives in certain situations.
{Pictured: Numbers 0-100 Formation & 10 Frames Play Dough Dry Erase Mats}

You might have noticed the fast food trays.  Yes, they are recycled, too. No, I did not steal them from a local restaurant.  I actually found them at my local Goodwill for $1.99 each.  I have an entire stack of them, and I use them every single day in my classroom.  I have a few that still look new, so I make a point to use those for non-painty and non-gluey projects.  The others are caked with glitter and paint.  There is no hope for them.  :) 

I hope to chat about recycled items in the classroom a few times next year, which is only a few weeks away (scary thought).  Do you use recycled items in your daily classroom life?  If so, what items and how are you utilizing them?  

Mrs. Wishy-Washy Doll {Christmas Wish List Item}

Have you seen her? She is adorable, and she is on the tippy-top of my teacher Christmas wish list!

Click here to oogle and/or purchase a Mrs. Wishy-Washy doll for your classroom!
{Picture lovingly borrowed from AButtonAndAStitch's Etsy page.}
How stinkin' precious is she?  I have been drooling over this fun classroom addition for some time now.  She is handmade in South Carolina, and as her Etsy page states, she would be the perfect addition to any early childhood classroom.  I couldn't agree more.

I  do an entire Mrs. Wishy-Washy unit in the spring with my pre-k students, and I plan on bumping the time frame up to fall when I make the transition into kindergarten (someday).  Of course, I will also need a pig, a duck, and a cow to complete the set.  Believe it or not, I found the PERFECT little metal wash tub at Goodwill a couple of years ago.

I wanted to share because she looks like a ton of fun.  She will be the perfect complement to Mrs. Wishy-Washy inspired Story Sequence Cards, which will soon have a set of take home story sequence and retell activities added to the packet.  I am hoping to get that upgrade complete before Christmas (fingers crossed).  If you already own a set of these cards, the upgrade will be free for you.  I will keep you posted.  If you don't own a set already, here's a link:

Click here to preview and purchase my Mrs. Wish-Washy inspired story retell cards.