Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Crafty Jars!

I love organizing... I also love containers.  Since I do not have the money to buy all the containers I would like, I have been repurposing some old jars from home. *Thank you Pinterest* :)   I have been using old glass jars as a centerpiece on our dining room table at home.  I put a little filler and a candle - so cute! Since this is not a blog about my house (wink), I will tell you how I am going to use old glass jars around my classroom!
I collected the jars I had lying around and dropped a little bit of paint in them.  I used enough so that I could rotate the jar and paint would cover the inside.     
Seriously, that is it!  I wiped the top so the paint was even and let them dry.
I am going to use the yellow one for my birthday pencils.  I will use the green and pink ones for pencil management (sharp, dull) and will use the blue jar to hold paint brushes.
I found these little birthday candles I had around my class and am going to write each kiddos' name and bday on one.  Easy-peasy!
** I had to buy some adhesive remover to get that sticky residue and paper off**

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Preparing for School

The last few weeks of summer can be insane.  I wanted to help get you going with a few ideas that you can take back and apply before the kiddos even arrive!

So this week I had set a goal for myself to accomplish some things and want to share my progress with you!
*Task #1: decide pics for first day of school
I love taking pictures of the kiddos on the first day of school.  It is so fun to post pictures with their work, use them in parent gifts and look back at them at the end of the year.  This past year for my baby's first birthday, we threw a Cinco de Mayo bash and I made mustache props for his party.

I have been so excited to use them with my students ever since.  I will take their picture with one of the 'staches and we can have some silly mustache-fun!  I just drew the mustaches for the props at his party, but you can click here for a FREE download of a template!

These were so simple to make.  I used kitchen skewers, glued a pompom on the pointy end, cut out a mustache from black foam paper and then glued on the 'stache!

*Task #2: figure out what to do with my name tags

If mustaches are your style, I made some fun and *FREE* mustache name tags I think you will like.  Enjoy!

I don't know about you, but I move my kiddos around more times than I want to buy new names tags.  So, I do NOT like taping them down.  It takes too much time, gets messy and is not conducive to moving kiddos around at a moment's notice.  :) 

I have been trying to work through this issue for a few years.  I know if is a weird personal issue, but I do not want to go back to tape.  Consider me a 'No Tape' kind of gal!  The first year I went 'no tape' I tried buying those clear sleeves - more work than they were worth.  The kiddos were constantly picking at them and it ended up being a bigger mess than tape.  The second year I attempted 'no tape' I tried doing absolutely nothing.  I just did a thorough job at teaching name tag responsibility and just let the name tags hang out on tables.  It went okay, but it drove me nuts when they weren't all lined up at the end of the day. So...  This year I am coming at it from a new direction.  Operation: No Tape just might be handled!

I attached velcro to the back of each name tag and the lined them all up on the tables!  Amazing!  Now the kiddos can move seats, take their name tags with them and I will have tidy tables at the end of each day!

Here is how I did it:

First I measure out my tables to find out where the middle of both the length and the width were.  Thankfully all of the tables have the same dimensions so I will only have to figure this out once! 

I marked the middle for both with a dry-erase marker.  It just wiped right off when I was done!

After I drew lines marking the middle of the table (which you cannot really see in the picture), I put the middle name tags down to see I liked the way the placement looked and then measured again.  I wanted to make sure the distance from both sides of the name tag to the ends of the table were equal.  I watch enough HGTV to know, "measure twice, cut once" - haha!

Okay, now that I know my measurements were correct, I measured the length of the name tag and cut a piece of construction paper to match. Then I marked each side of the paper about 2 inches and marked each space 1 inch wide - the width of the velcro!


Now I was ready to stick the velcro on!  I made sure I lined up the construction paper at the top of each name tag (check to be sure) and then stuck it on.

Just as soon as I stuck the bottom piece on, I put the top piece on so that I could place them on the table.

**TIP- make sure you are consistent with the way your are putting your velcro down.  Otherwise, you may end up with name tags that cannot be moved around with ease!

Now they are ready to be placed on the table!  I placed them in the cpot I have measured and marked earlier, pressed down and VOILA!  I picked the name tag up in the picture below to illustrate how I can now pick up the name tags and move them around!

Now I can easily rearrange your kiddos without the headache of moving name tags!

**ANOTHER TIP - laminate the name tags before writing on them or sticking velcro to them.  This way you can easily change the name when a kiddo moves.

So many things to do to prepare for those brand new kiddos!  The next item I will tackle will be an engaging activity for the first minutes of the first day!  So visit again for an update soon!
In the meantime, what are some things you have on your to-do list?

Freebie Fridays

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Back to School 2.0

There are so many things to do to prepare for the first weeks ofschool.  One of the things I have been workingon is my ‘Back 2 School’ letter.  Theletter I send home is pretty important – it is the first school-homecommunication I will have with families, it sets the expectations for the yearand it is the best time to lay out the inter workings of our class and day.  I usually start off with anintroductory letter.  I want to letfamilies know WHO their kiddo will be spending so much time with.  I talk about me, my family and give them alittle bit of my educational and career background.   The next few pages are all specifics aboutour class – our schedule, class expectations, rules and responsibilities,consequences, rewards, wish-list, blah blah blah!  If that packet was not enough for parents,this year I added a few new pages!    


Thesepages include a student info sheet (quick guide for me to have in the room), aparent volunteer form and a photo release paper.  I wanted to add the photo release paper so Iwasn’t posting any pics of my amazing kiddos and their work this year withoutpermission.  If you are interested inthis pack, I have bundled it for you HERE! In addition to those three sheets, I also included a quick-contact paperfor you and a daily behavior chart.  Ilike having the quick contact paper near my phone so that if/when I need to geta hold of a parent, I don’t have to mess around and waste time!  


What do you like to include in your parent letter? 

Thursday, July 12, 2012


I LOVE workstations.  I love everything about them.  I love building stamina with my kiddos for independent work, I love watching them have fun and engage in learning activities and I love listening to them help each other learn.  I am going to run to my classroom and take some pictures of my workstation chart and the system I use to build stamina so I can share with you.
I think my favorite workstation is the building words (Word Fun!).  I have this set of balls that contain and object and random letters that I got from a girlfriend who was retiring.  The ball will have a mug in it with the letters, m, u, g.  In this station, the kiddos say the name of the object, /mug/ and then say all the sounds, /m/ /u/ /g/.  After they say the sounds, they make the word using the letters.   The kiddos get so involved in sounding out the words.  They love opening the balls and seeing what object they will get. So FUN!  

A few weeks into workstations (since they don’t start at the beginning of the year in kinder, it was October) I realized this station was very fun, but if I wasn’t sitting right there with them, there was little accountability.   I got to thinking about ways I could get a hold of this.  So…  I created a set of worksheets to help manage my workstations and student accountability.  They loved them!  I also created workstation posters I can place around my room that have the station objective – my principal loved that!
I put them all together for some of the stations I have in my room.  Check them out!

I use this one on the right at the word wall.  The kiddos write a word in in space, read the word and then decorate the page to look like a quilt. This worksheet is also included in the pack with an objective poster!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More Sight Words!

If your class is like mine, you realize very quickly on the first day Meet the Teacher Night, that you will be doing a TON of differentiating.  I will have kids who do not even recognize their own name, cannot sing the alphabet and who have never held a pencil in the same class with kids who wrote me a nice note and read it to me on the first day. 
~putting a lot of pressure on myself when it comes to making sure my child does not qualify under the first three descriptors~
Since I am guessing your class IS in fact like mine, I also created this sight word pack that includes all the words from the Dolch Primer list.
I am really excited to continue the progress I made last year as a teacher and help this next bunch of kiddos launch into reading!
Let me know what you think!

PS  For some reason my laptop is not letting me take a screenshot of this wonderful pack.  Make sure you check it out at my TpT store through the link above!  Thanks!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sight Words

After an overwhelming response yesterday (errr…) I decided to start something else.  J 
In the past, I had some mixed feelings about sight words.  I was undereducated and thought they were all about drill-n-kill.  You know, how most people use a flash-card?!
Well, after some great meetings with my reading coach, I saw the light  ~insert choir music and beautiful beams of light... picture me with my hands in the air as well~
I understood how teaching my kiddos to recognize common words could help free up some space in those brains for the tricky words that need to be decoded.  Once I started putting a little more emphasis on sight word fluency, my kiddos’ reading fluency started to show improvement.  Who would have thought?!  Reading groups were actually moving and kids were feeling the success.  I was in love. 
Soooooo, I decided that this summer I was going to work on sight word activities that could be used daily – bell work, mini-lesson, small group, whole group or work stations.  I just finished making a pack of sight word activities for the Dolch Pre-Primer list.  I had a lot of fun creating it and I hope you will find a place for it in your room.

I am going to start working on the Primer list during naptime tomorrow!  Let me know what you think! 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Back to School Pack

I am getting ready to make a Back-to-School (BTS) packet to help out all my readers and the teachers I work with.  What do you think would be helpful to have in a BTS pack?
So far I have:
*student information sheet
*student GTKY
*photo release form
*parent volunteer form
*supply list with room for parents to mark what they can donate
*quick contact list for teacher

I know the front office takes care of some of this, but I always find it helpful to have it at my fingertips!

What else would you like to see?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Numbers FREEBIE!

As I get ready for the coming school year, I wanted to upgrade one of my math stations.  I love using these dice activities in all sorts of ways – small group, stations and whole group.  My kiddos seem to like them best when they work with a friend at a station.  They get a set of dice, find a comfy spot in the room and work on numbers!
At the beginning of the year, we focus a lot on number recognition, so I made an activity where they roll dice, count then number and write it down.  Dice games are a great way to help kiddos subitize (ha, sounds like scuba dive)!

As they get more comfortable with numbers, I have them write the number word as well.

Around October Break, when we begin talking about addition, I use the dice game in a learning station as well.  They love it!

I had to get the foam dice because regular-stylie dice were out of control!  Ah, much quieter!
Enjoy these fantastic math activities!

Who doesn't love a FREEBIE?!
Freebie Fridays


If only I were a lawyer, I would be able to count these as billable hours.  I would be rich.  I had another nightmare last night that the summer cleaning crew rearranged my entire room and it was HORRIBLE.  Not only did they move stuff around, but in my dream they took it upon themselves to throw stuff out.  AHHH! 
Uh, well, GUESS WHAT? 

I went into my classroom today to pick up a book and my nightmare came true.  Nothing is where it belongs.  Books are off shelves.  Furniture has been moved pushed aside.  Chaos, pure chaos.  If you knew me, you would know how absolutely mental this is making me.  I cannot stand it.  Now I am going to have more nightmares about putting it all back together.  Ugh!

I am actually thinking about calling my principal and asking if I can get in there and work this mess out.

Yesterday I was actually thinking that I might not have too much freaking out to do during -Back to School- week.  Uh, think again.
Even looking at these pictures is giving me anxiety.   Remember, I am the girl who enjoys cleaning, organizing and rearranging - I also enjoy things being cleaned, organized and in their place.  AHHHH!
Deep breaths. 1, 2, 3, 4...

I will have to focus on making new things for my TpT store!  I am working on a math pack that I think you will love!  Hope to post it soon!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Nap Time!

Oh, I love this precious hour.  This is the time when I can get the most done.  I am not chasing a lunatic baby around, making sure he does not injure himself, cleaning messes or changing diapers.  I can do whatever I want.  So naturally, I relax exercise read work.  Ha!  Summers off…  What a riot.  I am working on making some stuff legit and continuing to organize.  If you are trying to get your classroom organized, these free Binder Labels might be right up your alley.
Oh my goodness, I have been working so much on the computer lately that I think I need to get my eyes checked.  Blurry vision.  No focus.  

I am getting excited for this new school year.  I love the excitement this time of year.  I am eager to get back in my classroom and start prepping.  I am such a weirdo – I am even excited to clean and rearrange my furniture.  Oh my gosh, my girlfriend and I even make little models of our classroom and cut out ‘furniture’ from construction paper and spend hours rearranging.  Weirdos!  I love it!  

Added some pics of my binders at work!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Plannin' Time!

Alright, it is July… That means I only have a few weeks before I have to stop pretending to be a Stay-A-Home-Mommy and return to my crazy kindergarten life. It also means it is time to start planning and organizing.
Most people make resolutions at New Years, but as a teacher, I make mine in July. This (school) year I resolve to be a better planner and keep track of my life. I resolve to finally be a grown-up and use a planner and not rely on sticky-notes!

I found this great planner at Target – if I have to plan it should at least be adorable!
Since I can’t leave Target without browsing EVERY.SINGLE.AISLE. I also found these great little bands.  These bands will be great for data folders, homework collection and adding a little flare to my new planner!

What is your New *School* Year Resolution?