Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Proposed Rule by the Health & Human Services Department

While in Arizona earlier in July at the National Association for Family Child Care conference, I had the privilege of meeting and listening to Shannon Rudisill of the Office of Child Care. It was during this conference that I learned more about the proposed reforms to the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF). Below is a summary and link to make comments (comment period ends August 5, 2013) from the federal register website (

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) proposes to amend the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) regulations. This proposed rule makes changes to CCDF regulatory provisions in order to strengthen health and safety requirements for child care providers, reflect current State and local practices to improve the quality of child care, infuse new accountability for Federal tax dollars, and leverage the latest knowledge and research in the field of early care and education to better serve low-income children and families.

This proposed rule would provide the first comprehensive update of Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) regulations since 1998. It would make changes in four key areas: (1) Improving health and safety; (2) improving the quality of child care; (3) establishing family-friendly policies; and (4) strengthening program integrity. The rule seeks to retain much of the flexibility afforded to States, Territories, and Tribes consistent with the nature of a block grant.

The full proposed rule (all 56 pages) can be found at

From the Office of Child Care's briefing powerpoint presentation:

Dr. Ellaine B. Miller, PhD, is the Managing Director for the Family Child Care Partnerships program at Auburn University.
Miller & Rudisill at NAFCC Conference 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Freebie! Next Generation Science Standards

Hi everyone! This is Sue Cahalane from Science for Kids Blog, I'm here on the 29th of every month.

 Here is a freebie that addresses the Kindergarten Next Generation Science Standard (NGSS)

K-ESS2-2: Construct an argument supported by evidence for how plants and animals (including humans) can change the environment to meet their needs.
Click here or on the picture below to get your copy. 

 The Next Generation Science Standards were released in April of this year. The NGSS is a set of guidelines developed by scientists & educators from 26 states. They are the first broad national recommendations for science education since 1996.  States are not required to adopt them. 

The NGSS intend to:

1. Prepare students to be better decision makers about scientific/tech issues & to apply science to their daily lives

2.  Standardize teaching among states

3.  Increase the number of students who choose a science/tech major in college (which is extremely important for our nation's economic future!!)

4.  Do something in science class - not just memorize facts (YAY for Hands-On Science Programs!!)

5. Have students recognize the relevance of the 4 STEM fields (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) to everyday life

Teachers may cover less topics but dig deeper into topics that are covered. There will be more emphasis on critical thinking & less on rote memorization. The NGSS will require more science instruction in the middle grades and topics such as evolution and climate change will be covered. I have been re-evaluating my science curriculum this summer and I’ve added many things so we are in alignment with the new standards. I hope you can use this freebie and I hope you are having a fantastic summer! 

For other science activities and freebies, please check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Facebook page, Pinterest page & my Science for Kids Blog!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Differentiate With Beads? Yep! And A Freebie!

What little one doesn’t love beads?  Really!   They're colorful, they come in different shapes and sizes, and they literally can hold a kiddo's attention forever!   I don't think that fascination for beads goes away for a long time.  

In my own house of three boys,  this is the collection of the bead activities that have been completed just in the last two weeks and they are 5, 7 and 9. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love the idea of just PLAYING with beads, but if beads can motivate or engage a child to learn something they might otherwise find mundane, shouldn't we give it a try?  That's what I was thinking when I started using beads to differentiate my instruction.

Not only do beads provide fabulous fine motor practice for little fingers, but you can use them for counting and sorting and making patterns  . . . and they're fun!  So several years ago, I thought, if kinders like beads so much, how can I use them better and more effectively in my classroom.  Little did I know they would end up being one of my favorite tools for differentiating activities.   

Of course I'm going to give you a little review.  When we differentiate, we do so in response to:  interest, learning style or readiness.  

So beads can provide an engaging activity for students who might not otherwise be interested in spelling or word work.  Beads are appealing to students who are spatial and kinesthetic learners , who like to work with their hands and prefer to move.  

And finally, we can offer students activities based on their readiness levels by working with beads... It's true... and I'll show you how I do it.

I think the majority of everyone has letter beads of some kind or flavor laying around their room somewhere.  It doesn't matter really what kind you have.  Some are the small square kind with a letter stamped on them while others are shaped like the letter itself.  

I personally prefer the shaped kind and have become quite a collector.  

Here's why I love them so.  In my kindergarten classroom, letter beads can be used from the first day of class with activities like sorting...

to the last day of class with students using them to write digraphs.

In the beginning when I'm setting up my bead station, its mostly about those early activities that encourage exploring and building good routines and procedures with the beads.

We sort by letters in our name.

We sort by capitals and lowercase letters.

We match up letters.

And we use a ABC chart to match up letters and sounds (click on the picture to get a copy of your own).

These are very basic activities that will allow your students to practice the expectations of your bead station and the routines for taking care of it.

You'll want to set up a way to organize your beads.  I have used both a small portable plastic divided container 

and a more stationary container will pull out drawers.

I honestly prefer the smaller plastic containers, because they are very mobile and students can basically pick up an activity and move to any space in the room that is available for them to work.  They quickly set up their cookie sheet and playing cards and are ready to go in seconds.

The beauty of beads for differentiating, is that I can have several students using them at the same time, but they can be doing very different activities that at their readiness level.  While some students might be working on a CVC production activity another student can be working on a digraph activity like the one above.  

Providing 'I Can...' sheets and self-correcting playing cards, make it an incredibly independent station for my kinders.   

So if you're looking for new ways to engage students, consider the power of the differentiating bead!  

If you'd would like to see other ways that beads are used in my classroom, please stop on over to A Differentiated Kindergarten.

And stop over and grab your own free Bead Starter Kit.

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