Thursday, July 10, 2014

Wish you thought of it earlier?? Let's plan ahead!

My vacation just started less than 2 weeks ago, but I am already thinking about the new year! Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to my months of relaxation, but I LOVE setting up my classroom and organizing myself for the new school year (ask me again in October, though :D).
Every year, I think of things halfway through the year that I wish I had thought of at the beginning of the year. I figured, what better time than NOW to share ideas of things we want to implement this upcoming year?

So, if you share my enthusiasm for setting up and organizing,  here are a few ideas that may help. Please share your own ideas; I love learning new ways to make my life easier or my classroom more fun :).
  • CLASSROOM THEME: Pick a theme and brainstorm a list of associated words/ideas. Then, think about your classroom- reading and writing areas, word wall, poetry board, etc. See if you come up with ideas of how to incorporate the theme into these areas. For example, for a space theme, you may name your tables after planets, and your reading corner could be called ‘The Reading Orbit,’ your word wall may be labeled ‘Word Galaxy’ and your trash can could be the black hole :). I made a few themed lists and decided to go with a farm theme because I had so many cute ideas for it! Here is a look at one of my reading nooks- the garden of reading. 
    I wish I had more pics, but this year I will be amping everything up with stuff from my farm décor pack! If you also want a farm theme, click the picture to take a look- it’s on sale! The EDITABLE  newsletter template is a freebie.
  • ANCHOR CHARTS- I love doing anchor charts with my kids, but they are time-consuming to ‘cute-sify’ every year! So I laminate charts with just a border, heading and anything else that doesn't need kid input, then I fill in the meat of the charts with the students using dry-erase markers- cute and kids still have ownership because of their participation!
  • STUDENT PORTFOLIO/MEMORY BOOK FILES- I also keep a file folder for each student, with manila folders inside to separate items, such as writing samples, assessments, etc. This year, I also used this to store unit of study projects that they completed over the course of a few weeks, such as our farm study. Having it kept neatly in one place made it easy to send home undamaged at the end of our study. I also had my students work on a year-long memory book and placed their sheets in a folder till the end of the year, when I stapled them together to make their scrapbooks. Here is the scrapbook and a freebie !

  • TWO FILING SYSTEMS- My monthly files hold holiday and seasonal items, but I keep all my skills stuff organized by just that- skills. I used to organize by unit in program, or month we covered the skill, but we change programs so often, I was constantly rearranging my files.  

  • GARAGE SALE! Keep a bin for things you don’t need/want anymore. As the year goes on, instead of getting rid of them, place them here. At the end of the year, have kids earn bucks named after you (my kids earn Tejeda bucks) for excellent work and on the last week of school, host a garage sale in which you place all your junk. . . ahem, merchandise . . .on the tables for kids to ‘shop’ for! Very motivating when kids have checked out early for vacation!

  • PLANNING AHEAD- I always have an ‘extra time’ basket and a  ‘sub tub’ ready for whenever we may have 5-10 extra minutes, or even a whole extra period, if an event is canceled, delayed, etc. It helps to have plans for a sub in case you have to be out unexpectedly. I keep books and response sheets in there from my monthly read-alouds packs, since many can be used year-round and cover essential skills, as well as Scholastic News magazines with directions for pulling them up on the interactive board. Plus, I always keep things like a bus list, first aid kit, class emergency contact and allergy list, schedule, etc).
  • Make yourself a beginning of year to-do checklist that you can save for next year!

  • Use a notebook or Excel spreadsheet to track your expenses for tax purposes.
  • BIRTHDAY CORNER-This idea I got from a colleague, who got it from her 5th grade teacher! To make every birthday special, I wrap the cover and bottom of a big storage box (we reuse the same box for each birthday) that kids get to open on their birthday. I fill it with 3-4 little treats (bouncy ball, bubbles, pencil, etc) as well as A LOT of tissue paper (we actually make a joke out of it, since the box is so big and is mostly filled with paper :D).  I also decorate the back of my door with a big happy birthday sign and take the kids' pictures holding the box while wearing a birthday crown in front of it. 
  • CENTERS- Creating centers can be very time-consuming, so I love centers that are ‘reusable.’ For example, I keep a stack of reading response sheets that can be used with different books and kids just write in the title of their book at the listening center. Check out this awesome freebie from Krista Wallden. . . 
and I use my baseball spelling center, which can be reused weekly because kids just write in the new words. I also like sticker story center, because students can always use different stickers to make up new stories. You'll find a link to a free one in the writing centers freebie below, from my previous post, in case you didn't get it before: 

OK, so hope some of these helped you start thinking of things you want to implement this year! If you have any other ideas of things to start the year with, please share! Enjoy the rest of your vacation!


  1. Wow! Such great ideas! I especially love the anchor charts idea. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Glad it was helpful, thanks so much for your comment!

  3. These are great ideas! Thank you for sharing all of these wonderful ideas. This blog post gets me excited for next year!

    1. Thanks! Hope you have a great, organized year! :)

  4. Thanks for the great ideas, especially the birthday ones! I can't decorate my door (fire marshal rules), but I can do the wrapped box thing. We wear feather boas and/or Hawaiian leis instead of a crown, but I need to start taking their pictures. =)
    Light Bulbs and Laughter

    1. Oh, I love the boa and lei idea- how cute! Thanks for commenting and have a great summer!