Friday, August 30, 2013

Five for Friday with a Freebie Beginning the Year


Finally... it is Friday! It has been a long week.
Ooops. The freebie wasn't linked to the picture but that is fixed now - there is a pdf file with choices. This is just one. Click here.
1  Let's start with the Freebie. I wanted something for my kinders to practice numerals and cutting so I could observe their skills. This freebie has different versions. I decided to use the one with shapes. They cut out each shape, count the school supplies inside and trace the numeral. Then they put them in order on a sentence strip. When they are done, they read it to me and I pick one to have them count. I am making one with monkeys for a teammate who wants it to go with 5 Little Monkeys.
2 We started the week with 2 days of Conferences (and my own kids going to 1st and 3rd grade. oh my!) Then we had 3 staggered entrance day. They were back to back and with our larger class sizes, we used both days.
3 The students loved their Mystery Bags. Each day they shared something special they brought or if they forgot their bag from conferences, shared about something that is special to them. I'd like to incorporate this during the school year. As they grow, they can start writing clues to describe their object and even play 20 questions. I think it'd be fun to have them bring it from home so they can practice with their families. : ) Hopefully, connect to each other's cultures and customs.
We do a mystery bag for letters that way later on that becomes a literacy center. The students put an object from the letter tubs in the bag and give a partner clues to guess. Common Core listening and speaking & great Talent Development for critical thinking.
4. We did even more sharing on our staggered days. Last year, we did Free Write Fridays during breakfast for the second half of the year and the students LOVED it. I am not a big fan of drawing in black and white composition notebooks. I don't like drawing over lines. However, that is what comes in our supplies so we do. We take notes in them and solve Math problems as well. (I also make smaller books out of white paper for directed drawing on different topics so they go through the book process.) For our staggered day, they had to write their name and draw a picture of themselves doing something. This gave me great observations of their fine motor skills and writing stages as well as who is comfortable with it.
We took the time to sit in a circle and share! We did this to establish a positive climate and encourage risk-taking. It was okay if you weren't done. It was okay if you needed help to write your name or you didn't know how to draw clothes, or fill in the background or if you were already an established writer. Each one got a compliment and clapped for. We even learned silent clapping.  :)
5 Talk about beginning the year on the positive. We introduced PLAY or developmental centers with a tree map (where everyone learned that I can not draw...whooo glad that is out of the way). We started with 3 centers (kitchen, dollhouse and blocks). Did you know our dollhouse has the nicest dolls you will ever meet? Yep. They are kind and caring just like we want to be. I went over the materials and the students picked where they wanted to start. Then we cleaned up and met on the carpet. We made a map with our ideas. What good things did we see? What was hard to clean up and how can we change that? Then they picked a second choice, played and cleaned up. We revisited the thinking map. Then we tried two more centers (computer and playdoh). Every did these in two shifts and we used mats to form playdoh letters. We added them to the map. Finally, we needed to have frame because every thinking map has a frame. We talked about why it was important to know this information. I did not do full rotations on literacy centers yet. I started with developmental centers because they are more comfortable for most of my students to rotate freely.
What centers do you start with?

Freebie Fridays

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Made It Tea

Here’s to a

Tea-rrific School Year
Here is our link up for Monday Made It! I mentioned these Friday but here is a picture. My children and I made these for their teachers for the first day of school today. Their homeroom teacher gets the straw cup filled with drink pouches. The others are for other important teachers and adults in their school life. Each clothespin (that washi tape was harder to wrap than it looked) has a sign and 2 pouches of drink mix (one TEA and one other). My daughter has had 3 teachers so far and they all drank sweet tea. :-) 
Since we don't want to cause a ruckus on the first day, my daughter is delivering the clothespin ones to the office. Next year, we will have to take them with us to meet the teacher night to hand out. We've never given first day gifts before but as I made things for the staff at my was a duh moment. We all know how crazy the beginning of the year is and a little something to say that its appreciated is perfect
I was also busy making labels. If anyone knows how to make labels in PPT and not Word that fit Avery labels....
I made labels for our Me Bags. At conferences this week, the students will take home a bag to bring back on the first day with one thing from home. It is great for Common Core Listening and Speaking but also to help the students feel like part of the school community. They get to bring something from home (Can you say comfort? ) and they get the chance to share it with new friends (we do staggered days so only 7-8 kids). My son's first day of kindergarten included a laminated picture of himself and his sisters in his bookbag in case he got lonely. My daughter was in the same school as me on her first day. When we made the labels (so much easier than gluing on all the bags), we used Krista from Creative Clips' detective kids so we called them Mystery Bags.

So of course, I had to remake things in Owls for my pre-k teammate this weekend when I was making  my sign-in sheet and realized hers should have owls. For the owls, it was Pink Cat Studios. Check out this color it in certificate for the first day.

and mine for Kindergarten has STARs for our school behavior system. The border is made from stars in Kari Bolt's Bedtime Dreaming and the kids with stars are from My Cute Graphics.
Right click on the certificates to copy the picture. I printed mine 2 per  page. The kids will get to color them in at the end of the day while I get them all packed up for dismissal.
Have a great week!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Five For Friday Back to School

It is time for Sleep Five For Friday. We went back to school this week - lots of meetings and setting up classrooms. :)
1 - Wednesday, we had Meet the Teacher Night with Ice Cream in the courtyard. Even though we have kindergarten conferences coming up, several of my new students stopped by to see our classroom : ) and some of last year's class came for hugs and hellos. That is one of the perks of being in the first grade wing.
2 - We left our bulletin boards up at the end of the school year so the principal could take visitors on tours to see our class' work. The instructional assistants saw my poor board with its faded paper and decided instead of the roll paper, they were going to use small pieces of fadeless paper to cover my board. It turned out awesome. Now I just have to find a border that works (silver sparkle,
maybe? ) 
3 - I hung my calendar, hundreds chart, graph chart, number/shape posters and Math Talk board. When I was done, I had covered half my board and the back of the cubby shelf.  : )  We have a PYP/Big Idea board to focus on the unit concepts, texts and vocabulary. The kinders use the vocab in different activities but this year I am having another mini-boards as a wonder wall. I did this towards the end of last year and it was a big hit. The kinders could post focused inquiry or during their centers/workstations. They loved to post questions and answers. Do you have an inquiry board of any type?
4 - Math took over the week, too. We had a kindergarten Math training by our school district Early Childhood coordinator. Lots of great ideas for the beginning of the year and of course manipulatives we wishlisted. We also learned how our state assessments were changing. Then last night, it was off to DC with our PYP coordinator to see a presentation on Inquiry in Math. The ladies talked about focusing on teaching the concepts and incorporating Math into our central ideas.
5 -  My own children met their teachers and are super excited to go to school Monday. This is great because my first grader was getting very nervous and now he says he is ready to go back to school. We made labels and teacups for their teachers to welcome the new year. They also helped me make gifts for the custodians and secretaries at my school who worked so hard all summer.
One of my colleagues said today that she could work all night and still not be done...don't we all feel that way and everything goes well. :)
Have a great week.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Five For Friday and a Sale

School starts next week for teachers. We have lots of trainings and meetings awaiting. We also get to meet our Kinders Wednesday night. Thursday night, I am attending a speaking engagement in DC. It looks to be a super busy week.
1. I was able to get into my classroom this afternoon to make a mess set up. I moved furniture, set up the computers and document camera, took out my table containers and put up half my calendar area. Thankfully I left myself a start here note. :)

2. My table baskets and crayon baskets look like they lost a wax war. Somehow I put them away covered in crayon marks. It scraps off easily but that will take forever! So I test ran one of each in the dishwasher (fingers crossed).

3. See the drawer front I was decorating. :)

4. I worked on cutting 7 boxes of counting jewel strands for my team - with my little helper. Then I made a SmartBoard activity to go with them.

5. I made my student nameplates and locker tags. Now to laminate and cut them out!
I am excited about the upcoming sale. My store will be 20% off and my cart is ready including a set from this Creative Clips... How about you?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

All They Need

Classroom Management

There are so many styles that work for different people and classrooms. I wouldn't say that one specific system works for everyone. Over the years, my school district has gone from classroom based to school-wide systems so there is continuality in Cultural Arts, Lunch, Buses, etc... My current school utilizes several systems. We are a PBIS school with a clip chart and punch tickets for prizes from a treasure box. This is great for those students who know what to do but may need a visual reminder and those little moments of praise for getting it right. We are also a Kids at Hope school. The students recite an affirmation each day and learn about teachers and adults in all parts of their lives that they can not only use as a role model but establish emotional connections with. We recently became an IB PYP candidate school. PYP has its own version of character education which we have merged our older systems with. PYP talks about the learner profile attributes and attitudes. These are great for mini-lessons to connect not only to classroom incidents but to literature. It asks that every different community within the school collaboratively establish their own essential agreement (class rules). The cafeteria had one, each intervention group had one, etc... They all involve the students deciding on what that environment requires from them. In Kindergarten, our Social Studies curriculum uses the Second Step program which has direct lessons on feelings and dealing with our own feelings like frustration and anger. All the kindergarten and pre-kindergarten staff recently was trained in The Center for Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning (CSEFEL) program in which we learned about teaching/modeling for the students a toolbox of ways to deal with emotions and problems they encounter. This training was great for talking about how each learner needs different things (and for some it is space or a quiet place and for others tangible rewards).

What does all this alphabet soup and vocabulary mean to the daily lives of the learners in my class? It means I care. It means I model strategies. It means I sit them down at the end of a "rough" day and ask one on one "what do you think went well today?" The best classroom management is loving your students even harder when they struggle. It is telling them in the little ways and sometimes straight out ...I care about you. I know you are a good person. I know you can succeed. It is okay to make mistakes. It is okay to feel angry, frustrated and sad. There are better ways to deal with those feelings. We are a community. You have friends. You are worthwhile.

                                      Graphics on this poster are by Krista Wallden of Creative Clips.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


Ooops. I had an email nominating me for the Liebster Award and realized that I never published the post from the last nomination. So be sure to stop by these ladies:

My 11 random things can be found in my Meet the Teacher post from this week. :)
Here are the answers to some teacher questions :)

Here are my questions:
1. What are your "must haves" in your teacher bag?
I am always changing my bag and what is in it. As for my bag of tricks, love them all and love the ones that irritate you all the more.
2. Why did you start teaching?
My family is made up of teachers. I originally wasn't going to school to become a teacher but was lead to be a teacher even in other fields. I really wanted to work with small children so I got my degree in Early Childhood.
3. What's your favorite read aloud?
I have a huge closet of them so this is really hard. I will also love A Bad Case of Stripes (because I guest read it as a young adult to a class of 4th graders).
4. What is your favorite children's  movie?
Anything Pixar and the Curious George movies.
5. Do you have a class pet? Why or why not?
No, we don't. I am always lucky the plants survive when we grow them in the Spring. We do raise ladybugs, butterflies and tadpoles as part of our curriculum.
6. What was your favorite Teacher Appreciation gift?
Anything handmade. I did have a student from a previous year whose mother knitted me a baby blanket when I was pregnant with my first child.
7. Who are your top 5 favorite bloggers?
8. What kind of music do you listen to when you drive home from school?
My car doesn't have a/c or a radio. My husband picks up our kids because I get out so late and they gets the good car. :) I do keep lots of kids music (including Raffi & Jack Hartman) in the van.
9. What is your favorite easy schooldays recipe for dinner?
Discount pizza night.
10. Where would you like to vacation?
Anywhere with my kids.
11. What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your classroom?
This year when we went seining on a fieldtrip, I brought a camera to take pictures of my assistant in waders only to be the one wearing them and to realize on the way home that my id badge was filled with river water. :)

Organizing Jewels

I can't get in to my classroom to set up yet. So no classroom tour and I wasn't sure I'd get something up for organizing for instruction. However, I had a technology meeting with my principal and our jewel strands had come in. My teammate from my previous school had lots of materials from Math Their Way.

I had used the jewel strands before and put in a request for my new team. We ordered these from EAI Counting Jewels. You get 5 strands (each a different color) that you cut apart into sets. The read and orange do look similar. I cut the red strand into sets of 5, orange in sets of 4, yellow in sets of 3, green in sets of 2 and blue into 1s. To prep the jewels for our first lesson, I pre-bagged them. Each bag was organized by 12  (except reds): 12 blues, 6 greens, 4 yellows, 3 oranges and 2 reds. This made 13 bags to be shared in pairs for up to 26 kids. For blues and greens I cut them into sets of 12 first for less counting. : ) Organizing new Math materials as soon as the order arrives really helps.

My little helper.
Do you have a special way to organize your Math materials?
If you haven't used counting jewels, they are a great tool for students to show numbers in different ways. Instead of simply decomposing a number into two parts, the kinders find all different kinds of ways to represent the numbers (ie 3, 1, 1 as well as 3, 2). They can sort them into little piles. We have drawn circles on whiteboards to sort into. Math Their Way has a page with circles to sort into. I also made a set for the SmartBoard to go along with the actual strands. You can use them for number sense prior to teaching equations.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Meet the Teacher

It's Teacher Week! I am linking up at Blog Hoppin' It is fun to read all the posts there.

We just had a welcome email (we officially go back to school next week) asking us to bring French Memo Boards with things representing 4 areas: Education & Career, Hobbies & Recreation, Community & Service, and Home & Family. PANIC! Which leads you to...

So here is meet the teacher number 1 - I am terrible at taking photos. I just forget even when I have a camera with me. Plus I take blurry pictures - yep blurry. My grandparents recently gave me their old camera hoping for better pictures. :) Finding photos for those four areas may take a while...

And number 2 - I am not crafty.  I am good at stamping and coloring in stamps with pastels and chalks. Coloring books are my friends. Mod podge is not my friend. Sewing is not my friend.

And number 3 - I never learned to sew. My mother let me use her sewing machine when I was in middle school and I stepped on the peddle so hard she banned me (of course she did have an antique machine). Not to mention that my Home Ec teacher would shake her head every time I got the machine stuck in webbing. At least I wasn't the one to sew my fingers together. Nope, that was my friend. I did very calmly help her out of the machine and upstairs to the nurse. From then on, we sewed our projects by hand.

Which leads naturally to Number 4 - I love digital scrapbooking/graphics because they add that flair. I adore the artists that create the clipart & graphics I seem addicted to.

Number 5 - My grandmother was an artist. After a career in teaching 3rd grade, she took up painting as a hobby. My grandfather would go into the shop and bring her wooden delights to paint. She painted scenes on everything from oars to milk jugs. My grandfather was a craftsman. Therefore...

Number 6 - The smell of sawdust reminds me of home. Did I mention my father is a Shop teacher? He is a craftsman, too. Although he has taught wood, metal & plastics, he has taught graphics, photography, electronics, &  computers, too.

Number 7 - Sand and tar remind me of summer. We spent many a summer vacation with our cousins at the beach.

Number 8 - My husband and I took our 3 kids to the beach this summer...just a weekend...but they love the sand (and candy) and the baby got stitches on her chin. She loves sand and pools more than anyone. She plays every day in the mini sandbox in our backyard (except this week b/c well she has stitches). :( She is almost 2 going on 21. It is amazing to watch her grow everyday. :)

Number 9 - My oldest daughter is going into 3rd grade (teardrop). She loves playing with her sister and brother and drawing pictures. She doesn't like reading fiction (gasp) but she does like biographies and fact books. A recent favorite of hers Wilma Unlimited about WilmasRudolph. So loves sharing the things she learns :).

Number 10 - My son just finished kindergarten. He loves to help me make things for school. He likes to give his opinion on games and activities. He needs extra help with speech, language and social skills and his school has been great about it. His favorite color is blue! Is there any other color? He gets that from his parents.

Now I need 11 because I have to mention my wonderful husband. :-) He loves football and the Redskins. To be honest before we started dating, I didn't really watch football but listening to the game last night brought home that it is Back to School time! So here is a freebie for you.

Same style as Friday's freebie and similar to the editable FB freebie. I posted this freebie on Teacher's Notebook. I have started to posting more of my units on there again. I started with the recent bundles (take forever to upload :). I am holding a sale this week in honor of their Back to School Sale.


Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Friday, August 9, 2013

Cut and Paste Puzzles

It is Friday and that means it is time for a Freebie. :) I love puzzles and so do kids. I have made several different style puzzles for my classroom. One style is the cut and paste strips. This is ideal for sequencing and spelling. By sequencing the numbers or letters, the students create a picture (and the picture helps them sequence). In the second half of the year, I made these with larger numbers and skip counting in BW outline for my kinders to cut apart and glue onto paper as morning work. They then added a sentence to tell about the picture. For this freebie, I made colored puzzles using numeral sequences less than 10. You print on cardstock, laminate and put the puzzle pieces into a center. Add a couple magnet dots on the backs and put at a magnet center. Click here on TPT for the freebie.
This style is also great for name puzzles. These are editable so the number of pieces match the letters in the students' names and come in black and white outline to cut and paste.

and they just might be a limited time Facebook Fan Freebie to celebrate the beginning of the year.

The picture can also match the words created by the letters. If you take pictures of your students at the beginning of the year, you can print them out, cut them into strips, and write the letters of their name on each piece for personalized puzzles. Celebrate the beginning of the year by having the students draw self-portraits and do the same thing. Put all the picture puzzles in a names center so their classmates can match names to pictures. Back the pictures on different colored construction paper before laminating or use different colored marker to write the names to help sort the pictures easily. Sorting 3 kids on blue is easier than 24. Here is a sample - I made a table with the students' names already printed.

Later in the year, you can do the same thing with sight words and holiday themed pictures or CVC words and matching pictures. Check out my All Around Vowels. It is hard to see but there is a sentence about the picture. Graphics by Pink Cat Studio and Ashley Hughes.

Enjoy the freebies & come back Monday for another one.

Don't forget to visit TBA for links to more freebies. :)
Freebie Fridays

Monday, August 5, 2013

Magazine Boxes for books, folders, games & more

I made my Monday Made It on Saturday but did I take pictures, download them and write the post ahead of time...umm..of course not. So after driving to the beach and playing in the pool, my little one took a tumble and ended up with 4 stitches on her chin. Here she is cuddling with daddy and her poor chin.
Anyways better late than never. I love using cardboard magazine holders in my classroom. I have a mixed batch of designs from long ago, white ones from Ikea and some I found and snagged at Targets dollar spot. I use them as Math centers - they hold gameboards and pieces and are easy for the kids to move with. I have a gazillion and 27 books in them (and one day I will categorize them all).
This past year, I used them on my kinders tables. We had chair pockets but they were forever getting in our way and the chairs couldn't be stacked so the custodians could vacuum. So I put 1 white magazine folder for every 3-4 students (I have horseshoe, rectangle and round tables). In them, we keep our writing folders, journals and notebooks. But they were plain white...
So I traced and cut some 12x12 scrapbooking paper to match the sides. Be sure to trace opposite sides. :) Then I used spray glue to adhere the paper and some decorative ribbon to the bottom.

And because I just had to find out more about Washi tape, I bought a roll at Target and tried trimming the vertical edges (not pictured). I admit the tape was neat - a paper tape easy to line up. The roll I bought wasn't quite the right color for this paper but it gave the long edge a nice finish. It would work great to cover an entire box (the wider width). I'd also love to see how Scotch Duct Tape would cover. They had some great patterns, too.
You could make them in different colors for different tables or centers. They'd make a great teacher gift, too.