Beat the Heat Summer Sale Aug. 1-4!

Hi, friends!  I will be hosting a sale in my TPT store August 1-4.  My entire line of classroom resources will be discounted 20%.  If  you make a purchase on August 1st and 2nd, use the promo code BTSFRESH to get an additional discount!

My store will grow this school year!  Be sure to "follow me" on TPT so you can find out about my newest products for the classroom and save 50% the first 24 hours they are listed.
Store Link:

Teacher Printing Needs: HP InstantInk vs. Epson EcoTank

I finally made the plunge into investing in a new printer for my classroom. Why?  Well, my new school has a strict print limit, and I already know that will not work for me.  Also, I loooooove being able to print whatever I want exactly when I need it.  If we run out of recording sheets for a reading or math station...*BOOM*...instant recording sheets.

While you are reading this post, please keep in mind that I print a TON both in and out of the classroom. From take-home reading books from A-Z Readers to all of my reading and math station activities, I do it all.  I adore printing in color; especially if the items being printed will be meaningful for my students.  For instance, the ABC Sing, Sign, and Read charts, by Nellie Edge, that go back and forth every single day in the daily take home folders.  They would simply NOT be the same in black and white. Plus, I tell students over and over again, "Be sure you  practice your ABC sign language with your family tonight!"  How boring that would be with a plain, colorless page.  I'm sure you are catching what I am throwing your way so I will stop babbling on and on about it.  Check out the comparison below.

See what I mean???  Color is so much better.
For the classroom, I bought an Epson EcoTank ET-4750 for $399.00.  It came with four bottles of ink -- one to fill each color compartment the printer holds.  I have heard so many great things about the EcoTank printers through several Face Book teacher groups, and I wanted to see how the two printers compare. So here we go....

Click the image to view this product on Amazon.
I have had an HP Envy 5549 at home for about a year and half.  It is a part of the InstantInk program which means the printer tracks your ink levels and ink magically shows up in your mailbox when needed.  You choose how many pages you estimate to print for the month and pay a set price for this service.

I have had my ups and downs with the HP printer.  Much of the downs had to do with horrible internet connection and little to do with HP or the actual printer itself.  One of my tasks for summer break 2018 was to find a different internet provide.  Done!  We have lightening fast speed now (thank goodness).  Because of the spotty connection I had before I switched providers, the printer had a hard time staying connected. This is true of any wireless printer in building that has spotty internet connection. 

I paid $120.00 for the HP printer, and it came with 5 months of FREE ink.  I will be honest, the five months of free ink was the reason I purchased that particular model.  The ink voucher was totally worth it.  Once the free ink period was over, I started being charged $14.99 per month for 500 printed pages.  I was absolutely fine with paying for this service because I do print a ton.  I also know how much I have spent in the past on ink, and $15 per month was a drop in the bucket compared to what my color laser printer toner cartridges cost.  If I do not print that many pages, they roll over into the next month.  Most of the time, I use up my page limit and have to wait unit the account clears for the month before printing again.  There is no plan to cover more than 500 pages per month.  If you go over your limit, you a much heftier fee for the additional pages printed.  {FYI: I did notice that the HP Envy 5549 is now being sold for $59.00 on Amazon, but there is no free ink voucher included as far as I can tell.}

When I sat down to start my annual summer print-a-thon, I quickly ran out of ink in my HP Envy.  Rrrrr.  I had just placed a new color ink cartridge in it, and it was out again.  Because I have owned this unit for over a year, I know it can take well over a week for ink to be shipped to my house.  I didn't have the luxury of waiting every time the printer ran out of ink during my print-crazy summer, so I called them up to see what I could do about having extra ink sent to me before the printer runs out. They happily shipped me several more color and black cartridges.  Over the next week, I continued to blow through the 500 pages I pay for each month...and MORE ink cartridges.  I have estimated that I can print about 150 color pages, which also consumes some of my black ink, before the cartridge requires changing.  This is with my printer set on "ink saver" mode.  I have already changed both the tri color and the black cartridge during this month's 500 page count cycle (see image below).  Had I not planned ahead and asked HP to send extra ink, I would be sitting here waiting instead of printing and prepping for the school year.

Screen shot of my HP account page, as of today.
However, the Epson EcoTank kept chugging along.  When I finally stopped to check how many pages I have printed on the Epson within the same time frame, the number shocked me.  It says I have printed 2,540 pages total -- 2107 black and white and 433 color.  That's a TON of printing.  As of right now, this is what my ink levels look like for the Epson:

Epson EcoTank 4750 lets you see how much ink remains in the printer.
With this printer, you can literally see the ink levels, as well as view an estimate on the digital screen.  I have only used half the black ink and a quarter of the color ink!  That is amazing to me.  I love that I have not had to stop what I am doing with a project and wait for my page count to renew.  It prints faster than the HP, too.  This will make it a really great printer for my classroom. (Our school has strict print limits.)  This model takes the ink bottles marked "502" for black, cyan, magenta, and yellow.  A bottle of black costs $19.15 on Amazon (with Prime shipping).  The bottles of color ink are $40.25 for all three (with Prime shipping).  You can also purchase the color ink bottles separately if you run out of one color faster than the other.  They run about $13.50 per bottle.

This is not at all a slam against the InstantInk program. I love that they bent over backward to ensure I received  extra color cartridges for my summer printfest!  If you are printing very few copies per month at home or at school, the HP Instant Ink will probably do a solid job for you.  I simply can't justify continuing to spend a monthly fee for service that limits me and is not as responsive as I need it to be.

Has this been more cost effective for me?  Aside from the investment of the machine itself, the ink for the Epson has lasted way longer than ink for the HP.  Even if I have to buy a bottle of blank ink each month for all of my classroom printing needs, it's less than $20.00 without a print limit.  Plus, the machine itself prints a little faster than my HP.  I believe that the Epson EcoTank 4750 will save me money in the long run.  It will also save my sanity.  Keeping track of how much I print is not my thing.  I will be retiring my HP Envy after this billing cycle is complete.

What are your printing needs?  Do you print a ton?  A little?  Not at all?  Never in color?  Always in black and white?  Most kindergarten teachers I know print a lot.  I would love to hear how you are managing the rising cost of ink for classroom use.

A New School Year: Getting Organized & Ready

I took a B-I-G leap of faith this spring.  I wanted to work closer to home, and I made the decision to change school districts.  With that being said...I moved all of my classroom goodies out of the classroom.  Now my entire classroom is *crammed* into my house.  I was able to move the big pieces of furniture into my new classroom already, but the custodial staff asked that I not set up until they prep the room for the new year.  Fair enough!  Here is my current view in my home office. {YIKES!}  And this is just what can be seen without opening closet doors.  {Holy smokes!}


Believe it or not, I have actually combed through and discarded a ton of stuff.  I have recycled, purged, and given away.  But wait...there's more.  Did I mention my classroom stuff is also taking up an entire side of the garage? 
Gahhhhhhhhhhhhh!  This makes me nervous to look at and embarrassed to share with you!
You can imagine that the family is getting pretty sick of my stuff.  Cars that normally park in the garage have been in the driveway all summer.  We have to move a tower of junk good stuff just to get the lawn mower out of the garage.  It's a whole thing.  I am ready for the school year to begin simply so I can place my stuff where it belongs.  Which is my new classroom.

This building has TONS of '70s charm...and leftovers from the previous teacher!

This mural wall will soon be covered with six giant hearts full of heart words...just like in my previous classroom.
Since I can't get into my new room to set up yet, I decided to start prepping as much as possible at home. It has been a fabulous way to beat the heat.  I keep the A/C blasting, which keeps me working hard. Yes, even with the towers of mess around me, I have been working in my office.  All of those nitty-gritty tasks that suck the life right out of ya once the school year begins are getting marked off my to-do list!  I wanted to use a different alphabet chart for my writer's workshop file jackets this year.  Since I use Nellie Edge's ABC Sing, Sign, and Read Phonics to introduce letters and for my wall alphabet, I thought it would be nice to have the same chart for students to use during writing time.  I modified the chart in the image below so that it would fit the back of our writer's workshop file jackets, but you can download her original chart for FREE on her site:

I have added a list for important words this year!  Perfect for words that kids ask how to spell over and over again.
I purchased Tara West's nonfiction hands-on centers.  No, I do not *need* more centers for my reading station rotations.  However, I love the fact that this packet was FULL of nonfiction word work activities.  This center-style activity will be used during my small group reading instruction.  I can't wait to use them!  This will also be a great bundle of games for classroom volunteers to play with small groups of students. 

The front...
I made sure to number each set of cards and mats to ensure easier clean up.  {Numbering or labeling pieces of a set is actually a great tip for puzzle pieces, too.}  That packet of centers has several other hands-on word work games that I have already printed and laminated this week.  Here is a link to that bundle of centers:

...and the numbers around back.
Oh, and my two tall file cabinets have been part of a major overhaul this summer.  No more paper master copies of anything.  I mean it.  I ditched them in the recycle bin.  I moved to digital everything this year, and I am not missing the files and files of papers!  I have utilized the file cabinets to house my A-Z Readers leveled books (for take-home book bags).  I blogged about that last month.  (You can read that post here.

As of today. the file cabinets also have an entire school year's worth of interactive sight word books from Maria Gavin.   I own both bundles of books, and I use them in one of my reading stations.  Students choose from one of four books to create.  I swap the books every couple of weeks.  It's a student favorite!

You can find bundle 1 here:  

You can find bundle 2 here:

The numbered tabs represent the week of the school year.  I roll out three words per week and store the books in order of my roll out to help me stay organized.
The top draw of one of the cabinets is ready to stuff full of recording sheets, books, and whatever else will be needed each day from September alllllll the way through December.  If nothing else, it is a great place to store those upcoming lessons.  I did this last year, and it made my life so much easier those first few months of school.  Mainly, I love that there is a place for everything.  No more wandering through the room questioning where I placed that freshly copied set of _____ (you fill in the blank).  Once a week is over, I pull the empty file folders and place them in the very back of the drawer.  My goal for the upcoming year is to have a set of files for January through June prepped before the end of winter break.

Don't you just LOVE Post-It Flags????  I sure do.  I used them as date file tabs.
Are you relaxing this summer and not thinking at all of school?  Are you busy prepping for the year?  I have done a little of both.  As the year creeps closer, I find myself prepping more and more. I know myself well.  Doing all of this now will save my sanity come mid-September!  I hope your summer has been great!  I would love to hear what you do to get yourself ready for a new year.

Editable CCSS Kindergarten I Can Statement Cards

*** New Product 50% Off Sale 7/25/18 – 7/29/18 ***

I have *needed* these cards for the past two school years.  I milked my pre-k learning standard cards as much as possible, and they did fit the bill most of the time.  However, kindergarten state standards are very detailed.  I want this year's focus wall to represent that level of detail.  With that being said, here are the new CCSS Kindergarten I Can Statement cards!

My batch is fresh off the color printer...waiting to be laminated.  This was a labor of love, y'all!  There are 88 pre-written "I Can" cards, or you can opt to create your own with the editable PowerPoint I included in the download.

These 88 cards were created to help families (and school officials) decode and make connections with the reading, writing, language, and math standards used in many kindergarten classrooms.  The “I Can” statements let everyone know what it might look like when standards are met by kindergarten students.

The color-coded background helps keep the standards categorized on bulletin boards and pocket charts.  As the year progresses, I swap cards and replace them with our current overarching target(s). When I begin teaching a new target / standard, I make sure to introduce students to the card.  We refer back to the card(s) during our mini-lesson for the day.  This helps everyone in the room have a clear idea as to what our goals are per lesson.

Standards & Areas of Focus Include:
Reading: Literature = Red
Reading: Informational Text = Aqua
Reading: Foundational Skills = Orange
Writing = Pink
Speaking & Listening = Yellow
Language = Blue
Operations & Algebraic Thinking = Gold
Counting & Cardinality = Purple
Operations in Base Ten = Lime
Measurement & Data = Brown
Geometry = Emerald

Packet Includes:
- 88 pre-made "I Can" cards with CCSS standards listed
- 11 editable pages with select images (4 cards per page)
- 11 editable pages without images (4 cards per page)
You can download a product preview to see if this is a good fit for you and your students.  Just go to my TPT store and click the preview button.  Happy teaching!


Christmas in July Sale 20% Off!

Ready for summer break?  I am.  I have not stopped since the last day of school on June 22nd.  I am ready to s-l-o-w it down a bit, but that is not a reality for me this summer.  I am moving to a new school district, which means switching a lot of small stuff around.  Not to mention, I had to move my PACKED classroom from one school to another.  The new district was gracious enough to let me move all of the big furniture into my new classroom, but allllllllllll of the small stuff is in either my office or garage.  FYI: I have a ton of small stuff.  Welcome to being a pre-k or kindergarten teacher, right?  Gah!

Anyway, to celebrate moving to a new school, I am throwing a Christmas in July sale!  Everything in my store, including bundles and my new 120 sight word booklet growing bundle (30 weeks of shared reading), will be marked 20% off from July 11 - 14.

Life changes deserve a solid celebration.  Visit my store to see all I have to offer your students (and you).

What Do Writers Write? Writing Area Printable Poster {FREE}

This summer break has been so inspiring.  After Pinteresting my way through the morning, I whipped up this printable poster for my classroom! 

Click the image above to download this free printable file.
I love it. I printed mine with black and white ink on Astrobright cardstock (yellow, pink, ivory, and white).  Now I just need to add a little glue and laminate this baby!  There is a full color printable, as well as the black and white in my file.  Pick the one that works best for you.  This is HUGE once printed...38" x 9.5".  It will really make a statement in the classroom writing area!

Click here to grab this FREE printable poster!

Click the image to snag the FREE download!
I admit, I was inspired by someone else's work, but I could not find a printable file.  I am sharing my file for free...just to spread the writing area love.


Happy crafting!

120 Shared Reading Sight Word (Heart Word) Fluency Readers - Kindergarten

Click here to purchase this year-long bundle of fluency reading books!

This Bundle Includes:
* 120 books stating "Heart Words" for title and 120 stating "Sight Words" as the title (4 books per week spanning 30 weeks)

* 92 featured sight words (or heart words) 

* You choose between introducing these as “sight words” or “heart words. Both sets of books are included. (I call them heart words because students need to know them by heart.)

* Flexibility to choose any book to be used any time in the year!

Featured Words:
The sight words (or heart words) featured in the book are a combination of words utilized in both the kindergarten levels of ReadyGen curriculum and iReady testing. They happen to also be featured in many popular sight word lists used in most kindergarten classrooms. Use the books in any order you wish. Each week is marked with a week number and letter (a-d). As the week goes on, the books incorporate more featured sight words for the week. As the school year goes on, the books feature more text to help students learn to “round the corner” as they track from one line to the next, pause when they see punctuation, and read with expression to match the punctuation shown. Each book contains tracking dots…all the way through week 30. In some books, certain letters are underlined. This is a great time to point out digraphs & blends, uppercase vs. lowercase (as vs. As), vowel teams, etc.

I introduce several sight words per week, and these little books follow the roll out schedule below:
Week 1 (I, am, you)
Week 2 (a, see, end)
Week 3 (the, to, is)
Week 4 (little, in, my, love)
Week 5 (it, like, we)
Week 6 (he, she, me)
Week 7 (because, and, can)
Week 8 (are, look, for)
Week 9 (play, with, one)
Week 10 (two, three, four, five)
Week 11 (house, home, have)
Week 12 (from, by, them)
Week 13 (run, jump, big)
Week 14 (that, this, was) 
Week 15(they, has, do) 
Week 16 (yes, no, at) 
Week 17 (no, into, under) 
Week 18 (what, where, will) 
Week 19 (go, up, here) 
Week 20 (of, be, went)
Week 21 (come, said, did)
Week 22 (say, please, get)
Week 23 (find, make, there)
Week 24 (red, yellow, blue)
Week 25 (green, day, saw)
Week 26 (came, name, way)
Week 27 (out, our, down)
Week 28 (help, now, away)
Week 29 (funny, ran, ball)
Week 30 (ride, ate, eat)

Why Sight Word Fluency Readers?
These little books were created out of pure need.  As a school, we noticed students were not catching on to the concept of tracking words while reading.  Several teachers on my team, as well as our first grade team, noticed many students were also struggling with getting those tricky high frequency words to “stick”.
I began creating and using these fluency readers for use in my classroom.  Before I knew it, my team of eight utilized them four days per week.  We were blown away at how quickly students were learning sight words, routinely using critical foundational skills, and truly learning and applying reading strategies we all work so diligently to teach during whole group and small group lessons. All of this by just reading, highlighting, and practicing writing important words four days per week.  Practice makes permanent! 

1. Give each student a highlighter and a book. I do this activity (whole group) at the carpet. You could also use this as a table work activity. I demonstrate with a book that is on a clipboard. Other teachers use a document camera.

2. At the beginning of the school year, I always tell students the name of the book. Around February, most (if not all) students are able to at least attempt reading most of the title with me. 

3. I direct students to put their tracking finger (index finger) on the dot under the very first word…of the very first part of the book. Using fun pointers & monster fingers hooks them in for those first few days of reading!

4. Quickly read the sentence to students (beginning of the year), and then read it together as a group. Keep going! “Move your tracking finger to the first dot, under the first word, of the second part of the book.” I say this with a BIG exaggerated voice to make it funny and get the point across that we are moving on.

5. The first week of using these readers, we read together and practice tracking. In the second week, I introduce highlighting the words we know by heart (sight words). Week 3, we add in circling nouns, and drawing arrows from the word to the picture that matches. As the books grow more sophisticated later in the year, we circle verbs, adjectives (aka: fancy words), etc.

6. Once you have read the book together, flip to the back page. Read the “words you need to know” to students. Many will be able to read them with you. Have students practice writing those important words on the line beside each word with their highlighter. As time goes on, I let kids know their “super challenge” is to write each word two times. After spring break (or so), the super challenge rises to writing each word three times.

This shared reading activity is so much fun, and it is amazing to watch the confidence levels build in each student as they move deeper into becoming a reader.

Happy shared reading,
Heather Cacak
Kindergarten Teacher & Reading Specialist

Preview & Purchase Here: