Thursday, July 31, 2014

What's in my backseat? School supply shopping and ideas!

It's getting to be that time of year!!!!  I posted this picture on Facebook a couple days ago

Yep... that's just the beginning of my shopping trip.  It's Lisa here, from Second Grade Stories.  Aside from the usual crayons, scissors (I always pick up a couple extra pairs each year to replace those old yucky ones), etc... I also got a TON of containers. (Ignore the box of cereal in the back... it happens when you shop with teenagers...)

I thought it would be fun to share some of the things I bought and tell you how I plan to use them.  Maybe you'll get an idea for your room.  Here we go!

What's in my backseat?? (and trunk... and front seat...)
This picture is a re-post from my latest Five for Friday post.  This staplers is simply A-MA-ZZING!!  It is lightweight and easy to use - and the entire bottom comes off and attaches back ANYWHERE you want to staple.  I probably should have bought two of these.
(I got it from Amazon - click HERE for the link.)

Also in the box with the stapler are these things
That's the updated version of The Daily 5.  I have been doing Daily 5 in my room for about two years now and I love it.  I have not, however, been able to figure out how to get CAFE (the comprehension piece) up and running.  The new D5 book talks about how to integrate both - and there's a section on Math Daily 3.  I haven't read it yet, but it's next on my "to do" list!

I also got some erasable gel pens.  Or should I say, I got some MORE erasable gel pens.  I NEED colorful pens to do my plans.  These are retractable, too.  Colors are my friend - they help keep me organized.  Oh, how could I forget about these!
Need I say more?  My addiction has been revealed. At least, one of my addictions...

Ok, next up - folders and journals.
These will be for interactive grammar notebooks.  (GReen for GRammar.  Easy to remember.)  I have used interactive notebooks for a while now and I love them.  The grammar notebooks are more like reference books for students to use when they need to remember something.   I also have math and reading notebooks (both interactive), which also have pages for journaling, drawing, etc.

I decided to try something new this year and do interactive science notebooks.  Now, since we don't do science quite as much as the other subjects (just not enough time, people!), I didn't want to add yet another notebook in their workbox.  So... each time we focus on a science unit (life science, earth science, etc) I will put loose leaf pages in their folders and we will use them for gluing the interactive pages, drawing and writing about what we observe, etc.  After we're done with the unit, I'll take them out, staple them together and send them home.

Now that the basics are covered - on to the good stuff!
I go SOOO lucky at Big Lots!  These containers are really hard to find - they sell out so fast they're hard to come by.  But - I found them!  I was inspired by this photo from Kindercraze and her post on classroom library organization.  

I loved the colors!  I'm going to use the tall ones for my teacher binders, manuals, etc.  The other shorter ones I'm not sure... and the bigger one I just HAD to have - it has HANDLES!!  I'm sure I'll find many uses for that one.  And the container addiction doesn't stop here..
These are from Dollar Tree and are EXACTLY what I need to redo my classroom library.  It really needs an update and those colors were just calling to me... There are 3 sizes - one is longer and not as wide which will be great for chapter books and the next to it are taller and wider for picture books.  The ones on the left kind of ended up in my cart somehow....

And since we are getting organized, I finally broke down and bought one of these ten drawer carts (which I bought online from Target and then found at a CHEAPER price at BJ's in town..argh!)
This will be for my Daily 5 (word work and writing) and math centers.  I used trays like this last year and they worked well, but they had to be stacked on top of each other on a shelf and even though that seems like no big deal,  when you are seven years old and putting things away apparently it can be too much to ask... 

Oh - found just one more thing in my trunk
Also from the Dollar Tree.  We do The Mixed-Up Chameleon as a story to start out theme on being yourself and these make a great nonfiction partner piece.  I already had a couple and I'm on the lookout for more!  Unfortunately, the Dollar Tree by me is the bargain basement of Dollar Trees and does not usually have anything decent.  These came from a store half an hour from me.

Well, there you have it!  Whew!  I actually ended up getting just about everything I need.  Just one more trip to the teacher store for labels and borders and I should be done.  Unless of course, I find some more containers... or pens... or post its...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Literacy Bags: {Centers and Common Core Meet!}

Hello there!  It's Tamra and Sarah from First Grade Buddies!  As teachers, we know the importance of small group instruction during our Language Arts block.  But we also know how hard it is to manage the classroom during this time…what are the other kiddos doing?  We wanted to share with you our solution to this problem!  

In addition to using Daily 5 in our classroom, we knew we needed a system that…

1.  required very little prep (we were tired of changing centers every week)
2.  required very little printing (especially in color)
3.  required less teacher help and interruptions to answer "what do I do" questions
4.  allowed for independent practice of rigorous CC standards

We've been using a system that did just that for Math (Math Bags) but wanted a similar set up for Language Arts.  


Grab a FREEBIE Sample Here!!

To read more about MATH BAGS, CLICK HERE!

Have a great Beginning of Year! 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Back To School Blues

Well, its that time again. We are seeing signs everywhere informing us that our summer is coming to an end. For my blog post this month I've decided to spread a little hummer to all those teachers who are experiencing the "Back to School Blues" like I am. I can't think of a better way to convey my conflicting emotions of returning to school than with a serious of reaction gifs. Hopefully some of these will give you a little chuckle while we watch our summer come to an end. 

Quick Reference:
MRW = My Reaction When
HIFW = How I Feel When
MFW = My Face Ween 

MRW I see BTS sales when i'm trying to find a nice summer dress for a wedding
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MRW when I walk into my classroom to see that it is completely moved around and I cant find anything.
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HIFW all my recommendations on are all office supplies and toys (especially since I dont have kids)
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HIFW my Erin Condren Life Planner arrives, it is super cute, and my fiancee does not appreciate its amazingness.
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The Preschool teacher warning me about the new kids coming into kindergarten. 
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MFW a parent tells me they wish they could have me as their child's teacher again this year.
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MRW my fiancee interrupts my morning routine of coffee and watching the news by telling me that I only have a few more days left of these lazy mornings. 
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HIFW as an adult, I get to go back to school clothing shopping.
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MRW I get too invested in choosing children books to read this year.
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MRW my aid finishes one of my BTS bulletin boards and it's incredible! 
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MRW sitting in a meeting and the administration discusses changes for the new year. 
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My expectations of the first day of school with my new kindergarteners. 
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MRW I spend an exuberant amount on items to make my room cute for this year at Lakeshore
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MRW even though we have a stressful roller coaster of emotions job as teachers, I am doing what I love - making a difference. 
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Well I hope this help cheer some of those teachers up who are having the "Back to School Blues" like I am this summer. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Why didn't I think of that???

Hi everyone!  It's Debbie from K is for Kinderrific.  I know some of you just started your summer break a few weeks ago....while others may be getting ready to go back as we speak.  My first day of school will be August 4th so I'm starting to prepare myself to get in 'back to school' mode!!

Have you been on Pinterest lately?  Ha ha that's a rhetorical question.  If you're a teacher, of course you've been on Pinterest, right?!?!  :-)  I love looking at tips, ideas, and ways to make my life easier.  Over the past several weeks, I've found lots of neat things and most of them have had me shaking my head and saying "WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THAT?????"  LOL

Take a look at some of the tips I've found!  Just click on the picture to go to Pinterest & read more!

1.  Use sticky hooks to create a portable word wall.  
Most of us have word walls in our classrooms.  But how many of us have portable word walls? Not me....well, not yet!  I think this is such a great idea because it makes the word wall a tool and not just something kids look at on the wall.  Having the words on rings, allows students to take them back to their seat and use them in their writing as needed.   

2.  Tape + ribbon = bookmark for notebooks & journals.
How simple is this???  For years I taught my Kinders how to flip through each page in their notebook  until they come to the first empty one.  I'm pretty sure this bookmark idea would have made my life (and theirs LOL) a whole lot easier!

3.  Have parents write their address on an envelope at registration or orientation.  
Then send a note home during the first week of school to each student.  How excited would they be to get that in the mail???  I love this idea and it would save you from having to write all those addresses yourself!

4.  Create a 4 pocket folder!
Combine a 2 pocket pronged folder with a 2 pocket folder (with no prongs).  Simply fold the 2nd folder inside out and hole punch the open edge of the folder.  Then fasten it into the pronged folder as shown.  Easy Peasy!

5.  Use colored dots on desks.
If your desks are grouped, then this tip is for you!  When you need someone from each group to do something....just call for a colored dot.  Example:  green dots collect the papers from your group or pink dots come pick up snack for your group.  The possibilities are endless.  

6.  Take pictures of anchor charts before you take them down.  
If your room is like mine, there's not enough room to leave every anchor chart hanging around the room all year.  But wouldn't it be nice if students could still access the information??  Problem solved!  Take a pic of the anchor chart, then file it in the corresponding folder as shown above.  Then students can grab one whenever they need a refresher!  

7.  Make a sturdy, small envelope from a plain folder.  
With a little cutting and some velcro, you can make an envelope to store all sorts of things!  I'm thinking about making some for my students to keep their sight words and vocabulary word cards in.  Click on the picture and follow the pin to get more directions and pictures.  

8.  Use fabric and elastic to make a lock cover for your door.  
Fits over both door knobs and will allow the door to close without locking.  If you need to lock your door for an emergency, simply unhook the elastic from one side and shut the door.  No more fumbling for keys!!  You can buy them pre-made online, but if you're handy with sewing you could definitely whip up your own.

9.  Make a birthday cape!
Students would LOVE getting to wear a birthday cape on their birthday!! 
 I'm not handy with sewing, but I bet this could be created pretty easily!

10.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar 
Ok so this one's not really a tip LOL.....but man oh cute is this????  

I know that when school starts back, I won't have as much time to browse all my favorite Pinterest boards.  But right now, I'm just enjoying my last few days of summer break and finding lots of neat ideas for my classroom!

I hope you've gotten a few ideas for your classroom!  
If you need more, you know where to find them! ;-)


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Creating a Classroom Theme

Are you trying to get ready for the beginning of the year and can't decide if you should do a classroom theme? I know there has been an article going around about whether classroom themes are distracting and that classroom don't necessarily have to be "cute". I LOVE having a classroom theme. In my opinion, having the same colors throughout the room really unifies the space and makes everything flow. I used to hate how one bulletin board would have apples, the next was numbers, etc. I changed bulletin boards and decorations monthly to go along with holidays. Having a classroom themes saves me time because I'm no longer switching everything out. I keep the bulletin boards and decorations the same all year. 

My classroom is decorated with polka dots and in black with bright color accents (hot pink, purple, bright blue, lime green). My kids know me as the "polka dot room". One kindergartener got lost the 2nd day of school and when another teacher asked her who her teacher was, the little girl said "I don't know, but I'm in the polka dot room":) She found us! 

My Classroom

The view when you walk in
The kids are holding cupcakes with the day of their birthday on it. I love having this visual of when their birthdays are. My students enjoy seeing who shares their birthday month or whose birthday is coming up soon.
I attach circles to popsicle sticks and then put them into these library pockets. They are easy to take in and out whenever I need to change my job helpers. 
You can't tell, but the name cards are velcroed to a piece of construction paper. I just move their names down to the next center at the end of each day. {click the picture to see these literacy and math center cards}
My word wall is interactive, and the kids really liked using it! I simply attach the words to the ribbon with paper clips.
Love using this idea to easily move kids clips from one ribbon to the other if they change their dismissal for the day. I'll also attach he note to their clothespin so I have a big reminder of it when I walk out the door.

These can be found in my Polka Dot Themed classroom packet, which has over 150 pages of materials to help you get your room ready. 
Not a fan of polka dots? No problem! I have 13 different classroom themes. Click the picture to see all of them. 

What are your thoughts on classroom themes? Do you use a theme?