Coding in Kindergarten IS Possible


Kindergarten kids coding? What? Is that possible?

A few years ago I would have said no way!  In fact, about two years ago when I got an email from the district about teaching coding, I said to myself and out loud, “Now I have to teach kids how to code?  Are you kidding me?”

But, a funny thing happened.  I tried an app and I discovered all kinds of amazing things!

I was introduced to the app Kodable.  I took it home and gave it to my own kindergartener and she was thrilled to try it!  To her it was just a really cool game!

I even Tweeted the picture above.

That next week on Monday, I introduced this program to my students and they were hooked too.

This year, my teaching partner and I had a more solid plan of attack to teach coding.

Here is what we did:

First, we showed our students two videos from the Hour of Code website (  They were highly interested when we showed the Star Wars and Frozen videos that highlighted how creators used code to program the puppets and cartoons.

We then asked the students to “code the teacher” from the door of the classroom, to the rocking chair at the rug.

When we began, they simply said, “go forward.”  That led me to walk straight to my outside door and through the door.  The class erupted in laughter.  When students were settled down, they realized they needed a more specific plan.

Together they came up with this:   Coding a Teacher

Later that day, we then did some sandbox (free exploration) playing with the apps Bee-Bots and Kodable.  Students were given the opportunity to play and practice how to use the coding apps.

We were also able to invite our local library to our school.  They have purchased Bee-Bot coding toys.  The students had to work together to code the Bee-Bots.  They also realized the importance of working together as a team to problem solve.  When students realize that they need to work together to solve their coding problems, they soon discovered that they could solve the puzzle sooner and faster.

Once students played with the toy Bee-Bots, we showed them a bit more about the apps and how they worked.  Students also realized quickly, that when they are stumped, they can ask a friend for help

When I realized that coding also teaches problem-solving skills, I was hooked on the value of it for the kindergarten level.

So, my advice to you…try it!  You will also realize the high level of critical thinking skills the students have and how truly smart they are!

Beth Hatlen


Symbaloo for Organization and Safe Searching

One of the biggest challenges utilizing technology in the primary grades is information accessibility to students.

Let’s be honest, the internet was created for adults to communicate, connect, and share. Young adults have traditionally been the most frequent users of the internet.  However, according to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration “By the age of 10, young people are more likely to use the Internet than adults at any age beyond 25.” Internet users are the youngest they ever have been, yet much of the internet is not appropriate or accessible for our youngest users.

Teachers who integrate technology have difficulty teaching their students internet safety and responsibility while encouraging them to access information.  Symbaloo helps to partially solve this problem!

Using the Symbaloo visual bookmarking system, teachers can create a visual, virtual pin board of internet sites to share with students.

In our non-fiction unit, my students can access all of these National Geographic books on their iPads through the Symbaloo app.  Even better, I didn’t even have to create this page! Users can share their Symbaloo pages, which makes setting up multiple Symbaloo pages for teachers a breeze!

If you want to create your own Symbaloo page, follow these simple directions:


-Start by going to Symbaloo.

-Click on one of the empty tiles.

-On the top left, click “Save your settings. Create an account now!” To create your own account.

-Once your account is created, click the “+” to create a blank page.

-Click an empty tile

-Click “Create a tile”

-In a new browser tab, go to the website which you want your students to access

-Copy that web link from the link bar.

-Go back to your Symbaloo page and paste that link in

-Repeat the process on a new tile until you have all the websites you want included.

You can also create your own, based on topics that you want your students to research or easily access.  For my kindergarteners, I have a Symbaloo pages of all the developmentally appropriate websites I want them to have access to that do not have apps. They can access these at any moment, without having to type anything into to Google or the search bar.

Using a visual pin board such as Symbaloo helps students quickly access the content that is appropriate for them. Students who are not yet literate will not disengage because of spelling worries and teachers do not have to worry about typos leading to inappropriate content.

Symbaloo does not totally lock students out of browsing, as it does have a Google search option.  However, it greatly decreases the possibility of visiting inappropriate or unwanted websites due to the visually appeasing and easily accessible nature.

Post by Kirsten McGinnis


Digestive System Choice Project

After learning about the digestive system, students created a project to show their understanding of the path that food takes throughout the digestive process. Students were to pretend that they were a piece of food and write or speak their journey in the first person. The project was a student choice project meaning students were able to pick how they were going to show their learning. Many students chose to use their ipads and used iMovie, Keynote, Strip Design and many more apps.

This video made with iMovie.

Whitney Cavanagh @Mrs_Conboy

and Janice Conboy @WhitneyCavanagh

6th Grade Teachers

We Are Going On an iPad Shape Hunt… and I Am Assessing You!

My Kinders have been learning a lot about shapes and how to describe them.  My Kinders love to use their iPads in any way possible so all through our shape lessons we have been drawing, identifying and describing shapes on our ipads.   I decided it was time to assess my kiddos and see where they were at with all of their shapes and what better way to do it than on a shape hunt!

Each student was given a shape hunt recording form so they knew what shapes they were looking for around our room.

They were to find each shape around our room and take a picture.

Then edit the picture to isolate the shape.


Finally, the students used Puppet Edu to create a mini book  They selected each picture they took and then describe their shapes using the recording option in the app!




After modeling the process for my students


once, they were off! I did leave the directions on the board for my students to see in case they needed reminders but they did great! It’s amazing that 5 and 6-year-olds can complete all these steps independently!

After they finished their project in Puppet Edu they saved to their Seesaw portfolio. I was able to listen to all of my students recordings and see the shapes they took pictures of in about 15 minutes after school and I didn’t have to find time during our already busy day to individually assess each student.  I love saving time….there is just never enough of it in the day.  Now the other great thing about Seesaw is not only do I know if each student can identify and describe shapes but so do their parents!   No more waiting for report cards or parent-teacher conferences to give them updates.   Who knew that assessing for common core math standards could be so easy and so fun! There will definitely be more “hunts” in our classroom!

Kindergarten teacher Kristy Hopkins @HopkinsKinder

Are Primary Students Capable of Research?

“Can my primary students actually conduct research and write a paragraph on their findings?”

“Where do I (as a teacher) even begin?”  

“How do I guide my students?”

“Will they really be able to do this on their own?  

I was asked all of these questions when I met with a LRC teacher a couple weeks ago. She wanted to have the 1st grade students research an animal of their choice.  The project would require them conduct actual research, take notes and then write a paragraph that included a topic sentence and a wrap-up sentence.

My response…???… “YES! Of course they can.”

Let me start by saying, this teacher has wonderful ideas, welcomes collaboration and is always looking for opportunities to improve the classroom experience for her students.  For this particular project, as her Instructional Coach, we planned and discussed multiple instructional strategies that would work best for her various groups of students.  From there, we started planning her lesson using the Gradual Release Model: “I Do, We Do, You Do”.

  1. She modeled what the students were going to be asked to do: How to get to PebbleGo, select an animal, listen to the information, and how to choose a fact from what she heard/read. She wrote down a fact on a similar graphic organizer the students were going to use.
  2. In the “We Do” stage we all listened to the “Food” section of the book. Then we chose facts from the food section (shared as a whole group) and she wrote them down on the graphic organizer.
  3. The kids were asked to choose their own animal and write down a fact for each section of the book on their graphic organizer (You Do.) The students loved using PebbleGoto help them research. Several of them listened and read about other animals when they were done!

The following week we used the same model to show the students how they would use their facts to create a paragraph about their animal. We emphasized that their topic sentence had to have the name of their animal so their audience would know what they were reading about. Then the students turned their facts into a complete sentence and wrote a paragraph about their animal. They concluded with a fun fact about their animal. They were so proud of their writing and illustration…(of course) so were we!

Next year, we are planning to have the students type their story and record it in Book Creator. They will have the option to use the photographs provided or create their own. Some of the students have chosen to put their story into Book Creator already!

Interesting Read: Rapid Release of Responsibility-This model is focused on putting “You Do” FIRST then “We Do, I Do”


Instructional Coach Nicole Ring



Research with YouTube Kids & Symbaloo

One of YouTube’s best improvements for schools? The YouTube Kids app! Allow your primary age students to safely locate content through the app using voice search for all those non-readers!

Investigating nonfiction texts and learning about “real world” topics is an important part of early learning.  Combining nonfiction exploration and technology is easy with YouTube Kids and the search function.  Use a student-centered approach so that your students can learn about topics they are interested in and report out on those topics.  For example, some students may be interested in polar bear babies and others are interested in polar bear predators. When students search by voice on YouTube Kids, they will find many visual choices, peaking interest in either what they were searching for or opening the doors of inquiry. Students can watch videos and report out their findings in a journal, drawing, conversation, or report booklet.

Unfortunately, YouTube Kids is not available as a web application, but you can create a Symbaloo page with all the appropriate websites that you want your students to visit.

Just visit the Symbaloo website and click on a tile.  Here you can paste in a link from any website that you want your students to visit to create a graphic website choice board.  Share your Symbaloo with students to give them choice in the topics that they would like to research!

Symbaloo is a quick and easy way to help your students organize the websites that they frequent or that you would like them to explore.

Symbaloo pages can be created and accessed on iPads, tablets, and computers.

Kirstin McGinnis