Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sandy's Coming

Well they say the storm is coming. My plans of blogging and updating/making new things for my classroom have gone out the window ... Replaced with putting away everything that's outside and getting the house ready for the storm. Laundry is being done, rooms are being cleaned (yes I want a clean house for the hurricane what can I say?!?) and all of my electronics are being charged. They are saying the storm surge can be as high as 12feet and the winds can be gusting over 70 miles an hour.

Thankfully the mayor realized the severity of this storm and as of 11:30 this morning school was canceled for tomorrow. My daughters nursery school already closed for Monday and Tuesday and there is a rumor that our town will reschedule Halloween for Saturday. Power outages are expected to be in the thousands and of course the ten flashlights I own are currently hiding or as I like to say I put them away in a VERY safe place!

Last year we were hit by hurricane Irene which took out two huge trees on my property. One of which crushed my daughters swing set and the other tool out the cable and power to our house and blocked the whole front of the house. Thankfully we weren't home. With no large trees on our property I hope we will make out better this time.

On that note it's back to preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. To all my fellow east coasters I hope you stay safe and dry during this storm. I will "see" you all after the storm!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Writing Time...

Last week our 'lead' Kindergarten teacher informed us that our next unit in writing was non-fiction writing! PANIC!!! That's exactly what I felt when I heard this... really? Non-fiction science writing in November?!?! Seriously how am I going to teach this??

Well I took a deep breath and pulled out my handy Curricular Plan for Writing written by Lucy Calkins, ok confession time, I've had this handy book sitting on my shelf for an entire summer and did nothing about it... WELL boy do I REGRET that?!?! I read the first few chapters including the one about the unit we will be beginning and boy was it eye opening. I am actually SUPER excited to start this new unit but also SUPER STRESSED because I am sooo not ready to start this unit. I've got a ton of prep work that I want to get done to make sure my kids are going to get this unit 100%! Ironically I've been prepping my kids for this unit and I didn't even know it. With all the inspiration out there in the blogging world I started making so super cute charts with my kids based on some of the non-fiction books I've been reading to them and guess what, the majority of them were on trees and leaves! As the characters in one of my daughters shows exclaim when something works out "TRIUMPH!"

So now my brain is going a mile a minute... What do I need to do:

  1. Create a scientific word wall based on the non-fiction books I've already read to my kids... ok I can't create the wall yet because we are supposed to build it together as we are learning, BUT I do want to get ahead of the game and create some word wall cards with images that include all sorts of important words involving trees (anyone out there have these cards already made and would like to share?!?!)
  2. Read alouds - I need to collect a lot of read alouds about trees and leaves! I want to immerse my kids in as many books as I can to help them really learn a lot about this topic. My kids loved the few books I read to them about trees and I NEED to find some more books that are engaging and bright and colorful and chocked full of information that is age appropriate... Any suggestions??
  3. Book Basket Books - I need to go through my entire library and make four table top bins with lots of tree/plant books that are a good combination of easy readers as well as "look books." 
  4. Magnifying Glasses - somehow I need to get my hands on 26 magnifying glasses! I wish the magic school supply fairy would appear in my room and generously give us these! That would be such a wonderful gift!
  5. Colored Pencils - I need lots of colored pencils for this unit and since those weren't supplies we asked for in the beginning of the year I'm not sure exactly how I will be handling this, maybe that magic school supply fairy will bring them to us too!
  6. Sketch Pads - While I'm not in need of these I do need the time to MAKE these! I have all the paper but they need to be folded and stapled and put together into sketch pads - Anyone available to come help me tomorrow at 7am? 
  7. Scientific Collections - Since I didn't do all my homework, yes that is my fault and I have learned my lesson, I need to take my kiddies on lots of scientific walks and gather lots of scientific evidence related to trees... I'm thinking that this may also be a good homework assignment to get my kiddies talking about trees at home. Tomorrow at some point we will go outside together and gather items from trees and make some collections. I will have to figure out a good way to store and organize these items but I do love the idea of the kids collecting and examining the items they find! I think this will really get them excited about this unit, I know I am not excited...
So as you can see there is lots to be done and well, I have about an hour and half in the morning to get it all done... that's because I get in to school that early! 

Ok I have one last question... at the completion of each unit HOW do you organize cleaning out your kids folders? I always find this to be messy, time consuming and just unorganized. I give each kid a baggie with their name on it and they put all their writing into that bag, however, I often have to help them or do it for them because it is hard to get all their papers into one bag in a somewhat neat fashion. So let's add that to my list for tomorrow also... empty their folders!

What are you doing in writing this month??

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Where Did September Go?

Does anyone else feel like this school year is going by way to fast? Ironic, I know... usually I can't wait for my summer break so I can spend every day with my little princess. But for some reason this year seems to be flying by, I cannot believe it's already the end of October! I feel like there is just way too much I want to (and need to) do and I just don't have enough time!

I decided over the summer that this would be my year! A year of change for me... for the past 5 years I've been set in my ways at my school. Following the same old routines as I always have and, well, I needed to shake things up! I want to make a name for my self (so to speak). I'm full of ideas and I never speak up, I keep them quiet. Well that's just not going to work for me any more! I want to share my ideas, I want my ideas to take me places so this year I'm speaking up and shaking things up. I've been working hard to get out of my old routines and trying new things in my room. Simple changes like doing Math in the morning not in the afternoon, to larger changes - joining teacher support teams. I'm speaking up and sharing my ideas more. Here's what I've done so far:

Right now I'm in the midst of trying to get a class set of iPads for my kinders to use throughout the week. I've spent the past month and a half researching apps and writing proposals explaining why I think my class would benefit from having iPads and how I would use them in my room. Thanks to many of you and your blogs I think I was able to make a strong case... Nothing has been set in stone yet so I don't want to get my hopes up, but I think having iPads in my room can be a great tool! Do any of you use iPads in your classrooms? How do you use them? Do you have any suggestions? I have some great ideas of how to use them in small groups but what about whole class? I'd love your input!!

I also joined our new Learning Leaders team. This team is headed by our new A.P. and consists of five teachers (including myself) grades K-3. We are currently working on revamping and organizing our Math curriculum. We are using Investigations, which personally I love, but there are some gaps in the program according to our standards and we are working to fill those gaps and make the program work better for our school.

I've signed up to join a technology team in our building. There are so many teachers in our school who love finding and using technology in useful, productive and creative ways in the classroom but we have never had an outlet to share our ideas. My hope is that this team will allow teachers from K-8 to join together and share and collaborate on ways we are currently using technology and ways we wish we could use technology. There is so much potential out there and I know that collaborating will open all of our eyes up to new ideas! Now I haven't been officially accepted onto this team and I'm not sure that this team will be developed this year, but I signed up and I'm waiting to find out.

So you can see that I've been quite busy...well apparently not busy enough because on Wednesday at the end of the day my A.P. approached me and asked if I would join yet another team of teachers... of course why not! This final group is working on math videos. We are trying to continue to build our home-school-connection and we think that these videos would really help with that. I'm actually really excited about this idea and I can't wait to get started. Most of the teachers on the team, there are four of us, will be using an app on their iPads to make the videos but I'm not sure if that is going to work for me. Almost everything we do in Kindergarten is hands on I'm thinking I need to come up with some creative ways to make some videos....

Well, as you can see I've been just a little busy... SO I appologize to my loyal followers and I will do my best to start blogging again. But please know that I wish I could be on here every day sharing all the fun that's going on in my room. I'll do my best to start blogging more again! Photobucket

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Vistaprint -It's a Love/Hate Relationship (so far)

So I kept seeing all of these awesome products that teachers were getting for their classrooms from Vistaprint for AMAZING deals and thought to myself, I HAVE to get in on this. So I scoured the internet until I found a Groupon for Vistaprint. If you paid $17 you got a $70 voucher for Vistaprint - not a bad deal I thought... to sweeten the deal even more since I had never purchased anything on Groupon before I got a first time buyers coupon that saved me $15. SO in the end my Vistaprint voucher cost me $2. The fine print said that if I didn't use my $70 voucher by December I would still get $17 to spend on Vistaprint products... so for $2 I thought I made out pretty good! THEN I tried to order product. OY VEY!

I got a great email that offered me tons of free products, little did I know that if I wanted all those products for free I couldn't use my $70 voucher - NO WAY! So then I sat down and figured out the what it would cost me for all the free products (and a few not free products) without my Groupon - with shipping I would have spent $40.70 - not that great of a deal I thought. Yes I saved over $100 but still, who wants to spend $40 on stuff? Then I redid my shopping cart and used my Groupon. First I spent almost exactly $70 and found that I would have had to pay $35 or more for shipping!?!?! Now that is CRAZY!!! So then I went back and got a few other things so I spent $25 addition to my $70 that were free and now shipping was free. Once tax and all that was done I ended up spending just about $30. So I'm not really sold on using Vistaprint so I thought I would be spending almost no money and spent $32  (counting my Groupon)!

BUT I am excited for all the stuff I got and can't wait to see how it looks.... of course I have to wait the 14 days to get it all which is a bit of a bummer since I am impatient and want all my stuff NOW! But here is what I got:

First up.... a new personalized pen! It was free so I thought, WHY NOT, plus I love the pattern its green and pink polka dots!

These are magnetic business cards. They were originally free with the email but not free with the Groupon offer. I did get them for about 50% off and since I needed to spend $70 I got them. I bought 25 and will hopefully give them out to the parents at our meet the teacher, that is if they arrive in time, otherwise I will be sending them home as a special treat!

These are simple folded cards. They just say my family's name on the front. I got 10 of them for $1.89. These were also a freebie originally but with the Groupon they were not. I also got 140 matching return address labels - they were originally free, but with the Groupon cost me $1.48.

I got 10 of these little note cards for free. 

These are small car magnets. Originally the one on the right was free, but with the Groupon it cost me $1.89. But I was offered another magnet for free so I got the one with the flower.

This is a small lawn sign. It was free but using my Groupon it cost me $2.23. I plan to hang it outside my door since I still don't have my name up outside my door. 

This stamp was free!

These are my "business" cards. I put all my teacher contact information on them and plan to hand them out to parents. I got 250 of them for free... figuring I have about 25 kids in my class each year these cards should last me 10 years! I didn't put my grade or room number so I could use them year after year!

These are probably my favorite item! I did pay for these because I purchased 50 of them and wanted it colored on the inside. I put a cute saying inside them and now I'm all set for when my kiddies bring in something special for me! I can't wait for these to come in! These were my most expensive purchase: $8.84!

These flat invitations were also free originally but with my Groupon they cost me $1.47.

The final thing I purchased were these rack cards. They were originally FREE but I had to pay $4.99 to have them printed in color on the back. BUT with my Groupon they cost me $3.78 in total... I know it makes no sense to me either! They were $2.83 for them and an additional $.95 to print them in color on the back. I think they look really cute and I hope they print as good as they look (mind you this picture is terrible!). They are the "Beanie Baby Reading Strategies." 

So in the end I purchased 13 items. I paid for 8 of them and got 5 of them for free. The original total was $137.89 minus all the discounts and my Groupon my total came out to $25.90. Shipping would have been another $22.18 but since I spent $25.90 shipping was free... then with tax my total came out to $29.95 instead of $163.76... I saved $134.17! I'm still not 100% sold on all of this since I still had to spend an additional $30 and I really thought I would get stuff for almost nothing, but I guess you really can't get anything in life for free these days! I'm excited for my stuff to come in and see if I love them as much as everyone else does. Navigating their site was pretty easy but they don't make it clear that some deals can't go together, BUT their customer service representatives were very helpful and patient with me. 

Have you gotten anything from Vistaprint? Do you love them? How do you use your Vistaprint items in your classroom?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The First Week - Oh My!

I forgot how TIRED I would be after the first full week of school! It's really exhausting trying to get back into the swing of working and balancing my 3-year-old's schedule! BUT I survived! I got through the first week and now I have a long weekend to enjoy the holiday with my family and relax a little.

So how was your first week? I tried a few new things this year and I have to say they were AWESOME!! The first new thing I tried this year was A License to Glue from Krissy over at Mrs. Miner's Kindergarten Monkey Business. I LOVE IT!! The kids did such a good job. I've NEVER used liquid glue the first week of school let alone the second day of Kindergarten. The little poem and the activity sheets were awesome. The kids had such a good time with it. Now I only did one page with them because my time was limited, we skipped the page where they had to cut out the shapes and glue them onto one another, but even still... they seemed to REALLY get it! I did learn that because they put a GLOB of glue on their paper I could not use my art drying rack to dry them (the pages bent in half and the glue "poured" onto the floor, oooopppsss!)

The next new thing I did was I started using parts of Whole Brain Teaching... OK I'm not expert on WBT at all. I have watched a few video and read some blog posts but I liked what I saw and thought I'd try it out. Now I honestly only thought I was going to use the rules and the "class-yes" response. BUT I ended up introducing a few more aspects of WBT. I started with a great set of rules that I got from Michelle over at Inspired by Kindergarten. I LOVE these rules and so do my kids!! We made up hand movements to go with each rule, some of the movements I got from watching WBT videos and others I made up on my own. The kids are really starting to own the rules! I love her way of keeping track of how the kids are behaving using the rules, but I have not yet incorporated that into my room. Once we established the rules I introduced the "class-yes" response. It's taking a little while for me to get used to using this response, but it does seem to do the trick. Honestly I think I could have done any response but I like that this is short and quick. I often find myself attempting to grab my kids attention with other words and realize that they aren't listening, then I remember to use "class-yes" and poof their eyes are on me and they are listening! The next aspect I taught was "hands and eyes" I think this is the one they are having the hardest time with, but so am I. With our curriculum and how we teach its hard to figure out when to use this since I feel everything is important! BUT I'm sure we will work through this together. After teaching these few things I found myself teaching the scoreboard. I wasn't going to use the scoreboard but I'm loving it! The kids are getting it and on Thursday we had the best day ever!! They were so excited that they beat me. Because of WBT I'm find that I'm trying to talk less and get the kids to tell me what I want them to do. I'm also introducing some small hand movements for certain aspects of our day... Like I said, I'm not doing 100% WBT, I don't think that's possible in my class with our curriculum BUT I am using it in some ways and LOVING it!!

The last thing I want to share with you is a really cute patriotic project I did. *OK I CANNOT FIND THE LINK FOR WHERE I GOT THIS IDEA - SOOO IF THIS IS FROM YOU PLEASE LET ME KNOW SO I CAN GIVE YOU CREDIT!!!* I printed out a large heart onto computer paper. Then thanks to Krissy's great "License to Glue" activity my kids used liquid glue and glued pieces of red, white and blue tissue paper all over their paper hearts! Once they were done I covered them in more glue to seal the tissue paper. Once they dried I cut them out and used a small amount of oil on the backs of them to make them more see-through. I LOVE them!
This is a picture of what they looked like as they were drying BEFORE I cut them. I did learn a few things. Next time I wouldn't have the kids put dots of glue down to attach the tissue paper. I would have them (or myself) "paint" the paper with the liquid glue. I found that for the few kids I did this for, the tissue paper stuck better. It also made it easier for me to cover the tissue paper with glue at the end. I would also wait a little longer to put the glue on top so that the tissue paper didn't crinkle up as much. As for the oil - less is more... it seemed to take a long time to dry and it never really dried completely. But they are hanging up in my room so maybe after a four day "weekend" they will be dry! I'll get some pictures of the finished ones later this week.

Thanks for stopping by... I promise to post some more stuff soon!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

First Day of School and a Winner!

I did it! I survived my first two days... and not only did I survive but I LOVED them!! My class is sooo adorable and wonderful and all kinds of good that I'm super excited. I have a few students that I already knew... One of which is the little sister of a boy I had my very first year at my school! I remember when she was a teeny tiny itty bitty little baby sitting on her mommy's lap during conferences and now I have her in my class!!

I'm sure a lot of you know that no matter what you plan for those first few days of Kindergarten NOTHING seems to go the way you expect! That's pretty much what happened to me. First off one of the wonderful Paras in our building wasn't assigned a "home" yet so she joined my class and what a HUGE help she was... but since I had the extra set of hands I decided I had to revamp my plans for the first half day. Usually I do a lot of activities at the tables so I can collect and organize supplies... WELL with my wonderful helper I was able to teach and do fun things all day and she amazed me by collecting, labeling AND putting away ALL of the kids supplies! Every paper towel, baby wipe, baggie, folder, notebook, etc. was either placed in their spots in the closet or into the bins for the next day! It was AMAZING!!

I broke a few of my rules that first day and didn't teach my class rules or use any real behavior management system. I haven't done anything like that since my first year of teaching, BUT the difference this time was I did it intentionally and had a plan for the next day. My first year I didn't teach any of those things because I was very overwhelmed and didn't have a good plan. Instead on the first day of school I read Miss. Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten. I LOVE this book, and so did the kids. This year they really seemed to get that I had to set up the room just like Miss. Bindergarten did in the book. We did the name tag game I mentioned a few posts back - I don't think they came out that great and I ended up using traditional name tags the second day again. While the children worked on their name tags I began to work on their portfolios that I will be trying this year. I'm super excited about them. I purchased them on Teachers Pay Teachers at the end of last year from Katie Mense... you HAVE to check them out! (Click the title of the picture below to go to her store and see what I'm talking about!)
I only had them write their names on the September page... hey it was the first day and we only had a half day! I could only get some much done in one short day. My plan for Monday is to get the Alphabet writing done, ok started, and hopefully by Wednesday I can move on to the number writing page.

I decided against doing a full tour of the school on the first day. Instead I just took the kids in the hallway to see where the boys bathroom was. They did a great job learning where it was and the boys were able to go by themselves to the bathroom without myself or my lovely helper having to take them. I didn't have to show the girls where the bathroom is because the girls bathroom is in our room. At the back of my room is a bathroom that joins with the class next to me. It has 3 stalls and a sink... since it has three stalls and is shared with another room we couldn't have the boys and girls share the bathroom, that could have caused some major trouble!

We also did a mini math lesson... I introduced the calendar routine, our weather routine and counting the number of days in school. We added 1 straw to our ones, tens, hundreds pocket chart and the number 1 to our 100s chart. This year I am going to build the hundreds chart by adding one number each day until we get to 100. I like this because the children will be practicing counting different ways every day. With the hundreds chart we will be counting by ones every single day until we get to the 100th day of school. With the ones, tens, hundreds pocket chart we will be counting by tens and ones (after the 10th day of school of course!).

Towards the end of the day I had my wonderful helper read First Day Jitters and I took their first day pictures. I always take a picture on the first day of school, but this year I made a really cute bulletin board AND I had the kids write their names on small white boards. The pictures came out really cute.

 Isn't this a cute picture??? I love how this little one "wrote" her name! Every one of my kids wrote something on their boards whether it was letters, lines or dashes! Here is what the full board looks like without anyone in front of it.
I have a bunch of apples that I will be writing my kids names on this weekend and adding magnets to, YUP, this board is magnetic!!! I will probably take another picture of each kid without the board in front of them to use for my attendance cards. I am hoping to get some leaves, snowflakes, flowers and who knows what else to use to decorate this tree each month. I may and that's a BIG may put the number of days in school up there once a month and take a picture of each kid... its a good thought, but who knows if I'll remember to do it each month. I'm going to try really hard though! 

By the time we finished the book and taking pictures it was time to go home. The kids had a GREAT day and so did I!!! Now the only problem is how tired I am.... I have to get used to these crazy hours again! 

Before I go for the night I wanted to share the winner from my Clipboard giveaway! 
Entry #157Kerri S.
Congratulations Kerri! Let me know what theme/style clipboard you want!! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Classroom Reveal (Sort Of...)

Today was our first official day back at work. I have to say the day went really smoothly and I got a lot done. I arrived at school about 2 hours before I had to be there (I wasn't sure how much time I would get to work on my room during the day). We had a full breakfast, I mean scrambled eggs, hash browns,  fruit salad, rolls, juice and coffee! It was delicious! What a way to start the school year. After a lovely breakfast we had about 2.5 hours of meetings and then we broke for lunch and to work in our rooms! I was psyched!! I was able to spend almost 4 more hours in my room cleaning and decorating. It's ALMOST done!! I thought I'd share some pictures with you because so many of you have been following my progress and asking me what it looks like now.

 This is my front board. The far left is an empty hundreds chart which we will build together as we count the days in school. The yellow pocket chart under that is my ones, tens, hundreds chart. The next board has my calendar, the "Who's in School?" Pocket chart, and my LOVELY months of the year from Tabitha at Flap Jack Educational Resources. Under that in the square open space is supposed to be my weather board BUT for some reason the glue isn't holding the ribbon on in one spot so it keeps falling. I tried a stronger glue today and left it to dry over night, we'll see if that works! The next board is my Word Wall. I divided it in half (although it don't look exactly in half now that I'm staring at the picture) with yellow duct tape. There are tons of magnets on the tape trying to get it to stick better to the fabric. We will have to see if that works, otherwise I will be breaking out the hot glue gun!! There are sample letters on the board from a while ago that I never took down. I also have my behavior clip chart hanging on the board for absolutely no reason, except that I'm still trying to decide where I'm going to hang it! The chair that's under the boards will be moved. The white wires need to be taped down so the kiddies don't play with them. The shelves with all the colorful baskets will be used for our math centers. 

This is the other side of the carpet right across from my rolling dry erase easel (at the far end of the front boards). This is my math center. I still have to make labels for all of the bins BUT it's a start! I had this great shape poster set that I used blue painters tape and stuck to the window shade.... unfortunately the word "trapezoid" decided to take a vacation... I hope it returns soon otherwise I will have to make a new sign! You can also see the back end of my HUGE printer that prints AMAZINGLY! And my "media" cart that houses the projector for our ELMO system and other electronical equipment.

This is the wall of closets I have in my classroom. I hung my brand new "Handy Helper" classroom jobs chart. I'm going to do something with the kids names on the other door so I can move them in and out of jobs easily. I'm not sure how or what I'm going to do just yet - any suggestions? Next to that is my writing center. The black stacking shelves hold different choices of writing paper. The colored bins will be for their writing folders. The round table will be where I hold conferences. 

This is the side of my room. My library (which isn't set up yet, I know, I know the kids start on Thursday I have to get a move on it!) backs up against my math center. The three colorful shelves hold three different sets of bins. The bottom bins are for our shared reading folders, the next set is for our art journals and the top ones I'm still trying to decide what to use them for. 

I was thinking of creating 4 different binders. One binder for my teacher stuff, one binder for math conferences, one for writing conferences, one for reading conferences, one for ????.... OR my other option was to create one binder for teacher stuff, and then make four binders for the whole class. I would divide my class list into 4 equal parts and put 1/4 of the class in each binder. Any thoughts? Whatever I decide I think I'm going to get each binder to match the color of the bins... wouldn't that look nice?!?!

My final picture for the day is my HUGE green boards. I LOVE THEM!! They are covered in green fabric and I added the pink boarders today! I'm going to use them for first day of school pictures. I wish I could move the phone... but I can't so I will have to think of something to do with that for the pictures, but I bough really pretty letters that I will punch out and write "My 1st Day of Kindergarten!" I think the pictures will look cute!!! 

Tomorrows projects are to cover my last two boards with fabric and hang all the boarders. I also have to finish putting the yellow duct tape on the word wall and need to set up my library. My room is coming together really nicely and I'm excited to see it when it's all done. I have to also figure out where I want to hang my schedule but I have some ideas for that - You'll just have to follow my blog to see what I decide to do!

Don't forget... Only 2 days left to enter to win a custom clipboard! Click here to enter to win a clipboard! Photobucket

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Operation Clean Room - Day 4 and Some Other Stuff

Ok first up - pictures.... I owe you some pictures of my classroom....  As you know I've been working really hard on my classroom. On Thursday I tried something new - I used liquid starch (which I was able to find at Walmart) and fabric to cover my bulletin boards. Check out these before and after shots!

I am LOVING this purple!! It looks soooo pretty. The middle board turned a bit brown unfortunately. Under the fabric is a peg board and, well, let's just say its not exactly new. I'm thinking that I should have primed the board before I put the fabric onto it, but I'm not really sure I'm allowed to paint anything so I just let it be as is. I did hang a few things on it already - my attendance pocket chart, my calendar and my weather board that I made (no I did not get pictures, sorry!)

So those are the before and after shots of my front boards (and you can see the mess is almost gone!) Now check out my two side boards....

Isn't this green fabric AMAZING?!?! It looks like an old school green chalk board! I am in LOVE!!! You can see some of the old tape marks but once the boards are decorated I figure you wont see them any longer! I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this board just yet... but it looks really pretty and I bought really nice pink boarder paper today to finish it off. I also bought some fun letters to write across the board - My 1st Day of Kindergarten.... How cute will the kids look standing in-front of this board for their beginning of the year pictures!

I also remembered to get a picture of my walk in closet:
There are shelves behind the door. Those shelves now house 6 remaining baskets of books and all the extra/duplicate phonics pieces. The shelves that would be right ahead of you if you were walking into the closet are going to be all my art supplies. You can see some small bins on the second shelf down with yellow post-it notes on them - that is the beginning of my organization plan! The shelves to the left are going to be a place to keep all the supplies the kids bring in... now this picture was taken at the end of day 3 and I have to say at the end of day 4 this closet is 3/4 of the way done! I'm super excited, but unfortunately it's crunch time so I have to put my closet renovation/organization on hold so I can get the rest of my room done.

So I have one last "project" to share with you... today I was busy busy busy out doing lots of fun things with my little one, but also getting some supplies and items for my classroom. At one of my many stops today I had to laminate ALL my new stuff...
That my friends is 51 FEET of laminated items that now all need to be cut out... so what are you doing tomorrow? Want to come over and cut out what looks like a million different items?!?!? I do have to say that it only cost me $14 so I'm not complaining, but I wish they had a drop off service so someone else could cut everything out.

Ok my friends I must say goodnight for now... but I promise to post some more fun stuff soon and I have a few items I'm working on for my store that should be done soon!

Don't forget to click HERE and head over to my Back to School giveaway to enter for a chance to win a hand crafted clip board! Photobucket

Friday, August 31, 2012

Operation Clean Room - Day 3

So let me start by saying - I am much calmer... ok not completely but at least I am calmer. I got a lot done today with the help of my mom AND my grandma!!

All but one of my boards are covered... what a HUGE project that was and I think they look amazing. Of course I forgot to take pictures today, sorry, I promise to have lots of updated pictures tomorrow. My mom and I used liquid starch and fabric to cover my boards and I LOVE them... well, there is one board that I have a funny feeling I will be re-doing tomorrow. Unfortunately I think my peg board didn't take the fabric very well, the brown color from the peg board actually came through the fabric and changed the color of it. I used purple fabric and LOVE it, but I might just go get a nice brown, or black or dark blue fabric and try again! I'm going to see what it looks like tomorrow and then decide.

My grandma was awesome today and helped go through lots of bins in my large walk in closet... apparently I didn't purchase enough $1 shoebox bins from my local Dollar Tree (even though I did buy ALL of them!) So another trip to the Dollar Tree is in order ASAP!!! Right now all my bins still have post-it notes on them, but one day I'll make pretty labels for everything. I actually found really cute labels from Print Candee called Playful Polka Dots Labels (click the title to see them) that I think I'm going to use! I just LOVE these!!

You know its really funny, I planned on having a red, blue, green and yellow room --- but what did I do? I purchased a really nice purple fabric for my front boards and a pretty shade of green for my side boards! Umm, yeah, so I guess my color scheme is out the window!! Which is a problem because now I don't know what I'm going to do about decorating and the kiddies come Thursday.

Anyways, my closets are looking great - my big closet is about 1/3 of the way done. My furniture is finally where it belongs, but I think I want to purchase some shelf/contact paper to cover the tops of some of my shelves. They are looking a bit run down and since painting is not an option (and wont hide the chipped/splintering wood) I think if I can find some pretty contact paper to cover the older bookshelves it would make things look a bit more inviting!

My mom is very crafty so I'm trying to convince her to transform my "teacher" chair (which is really just a big kid chair) into a work of art - ok not really a work of art. I would love for her to make a slip cover for my chair and add a cushion to it... although if I make it too comfy I may never want to get out of it! But how cute would that look vs. a boring old "old school" "big kid" chair?!?!

Ok it's late and I should really be asleep since I have one last day to get my room ready - although my posters and charts aren't laminated yet, but hey that's what Tuesday and Wednesday are for right? Going in extra early, sitting through PD and working through lunch and a few hours after school! back to the old routine!

Stop by tomorrow to see the pictures of my almost finished room!
Don't forget to click HERE to visit my giveaway and win a fun clipboard!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Operation Clean Room - Day 2

As the hours and days are passing quickly my high hopes of a successful start to the year are becoming filled with high anxiety. I've never had to do so much work in my room before, I guess that's because I had been in my pervious room for 5 years and had plenty of time to make it my own... now I know what I want my room to look like so I want it done before school starts!

If you read my post yesterday you saw that my friend and I dumped neatly emptied three large closets in my room and started to put everything back inside. Today we went and continued to work on the piles of items all over the room. We did get a lot accomplished, but there is just so much left to still do!

This is what my closets look like now... the whole left closet is full of books! LOTS of extra books that don't fit into my library. I put the books into plastic bags and labeled them by theme/topic. Then I placed them into baskets by themes. Each basket has a large index card on the front listing what types of books are in each basket. I'm going to bring my label maker in tomorrow or Friday and make small labels for the front edge of each shelf to list what books are on each shelf. The baskets are two deep so it's hard to see whats in the back baskets - by adding the labels right onto the shelves everyone (that is any teacher that comes in to borrow books) will know where to look AND where to put things back! The very bottom shelf (currently blocked by one of my small kiddie chairs) has some of our assessment tools as well as our phonics program. The very top shelf is designated for my friends stuff... it kind of got a little messy today but I'll fix that up another time to make it look neat.

I'm not sure what I want to do with the middle closet just yet... right now it has some randomly placed games, puzzles, and phonics activities. I'm thinking I might place items for centers in this cabinet... but I'm really not sure what I want to do.

The cabinet on the far right is my "teaching" cabinet. The very bottom is construction paper, I have to add another shelf above that which will house printer paper and some supplies. Then I have my "office" shelf which has extra folders, labels, sheet protectors, card stock, paper clips, notebooks, etc. Above that are most of my binders and books, and above that are extra pencils, index cards and other supplies. I'm hoping to store all the extra supplies from the kids on the top two shelves so they can be closed away!

As you can see we got A LOT done... but there is still so much to do. I will be working on my walk in closet tomorrow. I will also be attempting to use liquid starch to attach fabric to all of boards - fingers crossed - I've NEVER done this but I've read a few posts and everyone says it works like magic so I hope it works well. I really hope tomorrow with the help of my mom and possibly my friend and grandma we can get the large closet re-organized and my boards covered. It would also be nice to be able to move the furniture around and set that up... right now I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed because I feel like my to-do list is just growing and growing and it's never going to end...

Since I can't work on my room any longer today I'm off to get some fun crafting projects done instead! :) That should cheer me up!!

Don't forget to click HERE to visit my giveaway and win a fun clipboard!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Operation Clean Room - Day 1

OH MY!!! That's all I can say... so I went in to my room at around 12 today and was kicked out left at 4pm. As some of you may know I switched classrooms this year. Thankfully I moved into my good friends room (she moved up to another grade) and before the year was over she gave me a "tour" of her closets and supplies and left me a TON of wonderful Kindergarten goodies, the only problem - I had no idea where everything was!!!

Todays mission: empty out the three large double door closets and throw out re-organize all of the hidden treasures that were in them. With the help of my friend and my little princess we managed to empty all three closets...

Aren't these closets pretty? I'm really excited, they are HUGE and have lots of room.... As you can see in this picture I started to put some stuff back in. The very top left shelf holds my friends book club books. I'm planning on using that entire closet for all my extra books that don't fit in my library. I can rotate them in and out easily. I'm not exactly sure how I'm going to store them in this closet so they stay neat but that's my plan.

I have no clue what I'm going to do with the middle closet yet... the far right closet will be my teaching supplies closet. I forgot to take a picture of what I already put in it, but so far I have bins for pencils, expo markers, as well as stacking trays for all different kinds of labels and sheet protectors. Then I made a whole shelf with my binders (minus my teaching binder I want to try out this year) and all of my teaching idea books, ok almost all of them. Oh and see that little pink post it on the door? My friend who's room it used to be left me all kinds of happy notes all over the place! Every time I turn around I find another note. She is so sweet!

So here's my dilema, after 4 hours of working our behinds off emptying and cleaning these closets I didn't make much progress in the area of organizing and putting away. At 4pm when I was asked to leave my room I had to leave all this behind:

WHAT am I going to do with all this stuff?? Oh and see that door in the picture above, the one right next to the pretty yellow board? That is another huge walk in closet with TONS of stuff!!! Can we say overwhelmed?!?!?!? I can't even begin to think about decorating my room and making it look cute until I get all these closets organized and everything away. 

Since I can't think about decorating my room maybe some of you can help me! All the bins in my room are red, yellow, green and blue (see the bins on table in the picture above.) I have two boards (one bulletin board and one chalk board) next to the door to my classroom. Then I have three boards across the front of the room (you can see them in the first two pictures of all my tables covered with stuff) - there is a large chalk board, then a peg board and then a bulletin board. This year I was thinking of trying to use fabric dipped in liquid starch instead of bulletin board paper. Since I can't staple on to the two chalk boards and the peg board but I cannot decide on what color(s) to do them in. I don't know if I want to do one color up front and a different color by the door... any thoughts? The large chalk board in the front of the room is my word wall. The peg board is going to be part of my math wall - I'm not sure what the bulletin board in the front will be... probably part of my Math board but maybe so class rules or something. I was thinking of using the boards by the door to display student work. I'd love to hear your thoughts on what color(s) I should use on my boards!!

Oh and before I go... don't forget to enter into my Back To School giveaway to win a personalized clipboard!!! (Click the green words to go right to my giveaway!)

Thanks for visiting me today... check back tomorrow for more updates on how operation clean room is going!


Monday, August 27, 2012

Second Day of School Plans AND Monday Made It

It's Monday now and I have one week left of my summer break, sort of! I'll be heading in all of this week to be working on getting my classroom decorated and organized before all my kiddies come in. We officially start back on Tuesday after Labor Day with 2 days of PD and then the kids come Thursday for their first day!

I've been a busy little bee FINALLY trying to get everything cut out, laminated, hot glued, and decorated for my new room (and I am NO WHERE near ready!!) I just have to keep reminding myself to breathe -- in through the nose and out through the mouth, slow and steady... I always manage to get it all done so why would this year be any different. A few days of long hours in my room and I know it'll look perfect. I promise I'll get lots of before and after pictures to share with you.

One of the things I have accomplished so far is to make tentative first day plans. I realized I have some wonderful resources from all these great teacher bloggers out there I better start thinking about how I can plan to use their goodies in my classroom, and why not start right away?!?! So without further adue here are my plans for the second day of school. They are pretty tentative since I'm not 100% sure when my lunch will be or my preps so I planned my second day assuming my lunch was the same time as last year and that I have no preps (which I really hope is not the case! But better to be over planned than under planned!)

** Note, anything in green is a link that will take you to either a product or blogpost!**

Day 1: What I Do on the First Day of School head there to see what I plan on doing the first day of school!

Day 2: So assuming my day has no preps (fingers crossed this doesn't really happen!) My day will be broken into 2 chunks - the morning is from 8:45-10:30 (That is, assuming lunch is the same time this year as it was the last 2 years)... then we have the afternoon which is 11:25-3:05, it is a HUGE chunk of time, 4 periods and with kinders not having a prep during this time can make them really restless!

I don't have my schedule so I don't know when I should technicially be doing reading, writing, social studies, etc., but I'm hoping that the second day I can follow the plans I already made for myself without any trouble!

*All times listed are approximates and in hopes that all activities go smoothly and all the kiddies are happy!

8:45 - Pick kids up
9:00 - Line up outside of classroom and do a quick greeting
9:05 - Go to seats and introduce unpacking routine (where does everything go). Call kids a few at a
          time to unpack slowly.
9:30 - Go to carpet
     - Do pledge
     - Review 'Magic 5'
     - Morning Message
     - Review the daily schedule and the flow of the day
     - Introduce clip chart behavior plan (that is if I can get it made in time for the beginning of the year!)
     - Read a book ~ any suggestions?? I'm reading "Miss. Bindergarten" on the first day and all the
          "Chester" books the second week.... I'd love some ideas!
     - Introduce circle talk and do a circle talk about the book
10:00 - Do Cafeteria Expectations Craftivity from Roudy in Room 300
     * I'm really excited about this craftivity!! I recently found it (it's free which makes it even better!)
          and I really think my kids will enjoy doing it.
10:20 - Review line-up procedures and get ready for lunch
10:35-11:25 Lunch
11:25 - Pick kids up and review walking in the halls
11:35 - Sit at desk and review how to put away lunch items
11:45 - Go to carpet and introduce 'Brain Breaks' (I've found a lot of different ones from many different
          authors, I'm compiling the ones I think will work best with my kiddies and will share as well as
          tell where I found them once I'm done. I thought this would be a good time to introduce 'Brain
          Breaks because the kinders don't usually get to run around the first few days they have lunch, so
         they are full of energy and need to let some of it out.
12:00 - Introduce the 'Glue License' Activity, another great FREEBIE I found, this one is from
          Mrs. Miner's Monkey Business. I've never tried this one yet with my kiddies, but I think they will
          love it and I think it will be a great way to teach them how to use glue! (Incase you were
          wondering I plan to do the morning craftivity with glue sticks.)
          - I'm also going to have the 'Backpack vs. Lunch Box' cut and paste activity for the kids to do
          once they get their license! Good practice to "prove" they really are allowed to use the glue! This
          one came from First Grade a la Carte and is another FREEBIE!
12:30 - Self-Portrait
     - Introduce what a self-portrait is and show examples.
     - I am using a 'Yearbook' this year which I purchased from Katie Mense on TpT, so I am going to
     have the kids do their self-portraits on the first page and write their names. (I will not be putting their
     books together before school starts, there just isn't enough time to get everything copied, I will put it
     together piece by piece.) I'm in love with this packet and with Katie! (Ok that might have come out
     wrong... tee hee, what I mean is that I needed some things altered to meet my schools calendar and
     diversity and she did it for me! SHE IS AWESOME!)
1:00 - Math Time
     - I will introduce our Math routines and my brand new weather tracker (my Monday Made it!! Scroll
     down to see it!) We will also do the first lesson in our book.
2:00 - School Tour
     - I figure by now the kids are probably ready to get up and move!!! So we will go on a tour of the
     school, I might do a game/activity with it but haven't decided on that yet.
2:30 - Snack
     - While the kids eat their snack I will read one of our 'Star' books. (I will post more about that
     another time, this post is getting WAY too long!)
2:50 - Clean up the room and introduce pack-up routine and dismissal routines
3:05 - Say goodbye to my little kiddies!

So that is a VERY detailed explanation of what I hope I can accomplish on the 2nd day of school, it will be exciting and fun to see what I actually get done! :)

NOW on to my Monday Made It!! I'm super excited about this and have to say that I am in LOVE!!! I cannot believe that I made this... ok my husband helped a ton and so did the nice people at the home improvement store, but still I love my Monday Made It!

I downloaded Primary Inspired Weather poster (another great FREEBIE!!!) and made my very own weather chart.

Don't you just love this?!?! We went to the local hardware store and purchased a small piece of very thin wood (similar to plywood). I had the store cut it to 9" x 11.5"unfortunately when they cut the wood because it was so thin it splintered a lot. While trying to decide what to do about this dilema I saw this BRIGHT yellow tape and ding ding ding I knew exactly how to cover up the rough edges. When we got home I printed the poster and laminated it. My husband painted the wood white for me (the board was a half inch bigger than the paper all around so I thought it would look nice with a white boarder. However, once we spray glued the weather chart down and added the fun yellow tape you couldn't see the white boarder - oh well. I then cut some purple ribbon and hot glued it onto the back a poof I had a great hanging weather chart! I still need to make the clothes pin clips for around the chart but I'm in love with the way it looks and so is my little princess. She has been running around the house with it all day reviewing the weather with anyone who will listen! Guess we will be making another one for our house!

So that my friends is my MONDAY MADE IT!
I know this was a SUPER long post - thanks for hanging in there and reading it! If you're still with me don't forget to check out my Back To School Giveaway!

Rainbow Conferences

When I first started teaching Kindergarten I had a wonderful mentor teacher, Mrs. S. She taught me so much that first year and I'm fortunate enough that she is willing to continue to mentor and guide me whenever I need some help. One of the things we talked about was the importance of scheduling reading and writing conferences.

You see when I first started Reading/Writing Workshop I found that I was constantly conferencing with the same children over and over again, which unfortunately meant certain children weren't getting enough conference time with me. Mrs. S. suggested that I figure out a system of keeping track of which children I conferenced with each day. I loved this idea and I sat down to figure out a way to keep track of my conferences.

My first year I created a simple calendar grid that I used to track my conferences, but over the years I developed it to become what I now call my "Rainbow Conferences." So what is "Rainbow Conferences"? It's a two system method of keeping track of whom you conference with and when.

The first part is a monthly calendar.

I make one monthly calendar for reading AND another one for writing. I think it is very important to maintain two separate calendars. The calendars are color coded to help you keep track of which days during the week you are supposed to conference with each children. For example - if Samantha's name is in row 1, then I know I conference with her on Mondays so any box that is red means it is a day I am supposed to conference with Samantha. It looks more complicated than it really is, I promise! The bright colors help draw my eye to the correct boxes to help me keep track of my conferences. 

For reading and writing I use similar keys to help mark my conferences. I always mark a capital 'C' if I had a regular conference with a student. I mark a 'G' or write the word 'Group' across any boxes I may have held a group conference with. I also keep track of any assessments I do with the students as well as if a student is either out of the classroom or absent for the day. I find that by keeping these calendars all together I can quickly glance and see when I did an assessment with a student last and if I need to do another one. I keep these in my teacher binder. Below is an example of how I would mark my reading conferences:

The second part of my conferences is a poster I created that is also color coded. I print and laminate these posters and hang them on my wall. I fill in all of my student's names on the correct day of the week so I can clearly see who I am supposed to conference with. 

I really love this system for keeping track of my conferences, they have helped me over the years make sure I get to all of the children in my class as much as possible. 

Now I'm sure you are wondering, "How do you decide which children to conference with each day?" Well that one was actually very simple for me. Since I teach Kindergarten I don't have a good judge of what levels they are on so for the beginning of the year I set up my calendars in alphabetical and reverse alphabetical order. For example if my reading conferences are alphabetical than my writing conferences would be reverse alphabetical. I may swap around a few names if I have too - I ALWAYS make sure that I am not conferencing with one person for reading and writing on the same day! That is very important to me!!! 

As the year progresses I group my students (whether it be formally or informally) and use these groupings to help organize my conference days. In reading I organize my students by their reading levels. We use colors and letters for our reading levels - so I schedule all my "red dot/level A" readers for the same day, if there are more than 5 students on the same level then I schedule the remainder of the students on the next consecutive day. Some months I just line my kids up on my calendar from beginner readers all the way to advanced readers. Other months I make my groups based on their reading levels and than randomly assign a day of the week for each group. 

For writing, again, in the beginning of kindergarten I don't have a good judge on their level so they are just simply scheduled alphabetically. But as the year progresses, similar to reading, I schedule them in groups based on their ability. 

The reason I group my students and then add them to my calendar is to help make my conferences run more smoothly. If I know I'm meeting with all beginner writers on Monday I have the option of 1) pulling them as a group and working on a skill they all need to improve on or 2) have my "bag of tricks" ready with activities and lessons for beginner writers and meet with them one-on-one. I find it a lot easier to be thinking and focusing on one level of writing (or reading) rather than meeting with a beginning writer, followed by an advanced writer, and then some average writers thrown in too. The skills they all need are so different and having to change gears so often during conferences is not very easy. 

So that my friends is what I like to call my "Rainbow Conferences!" I hope you enjoyed a glimpse into what they are all about! If you are in love and want to learn more about them, including some tips and tricks, plus get an entire set of 2012-2013 school calendars for both reading and writing already mapped out for you then head on over to my Teachers Notebook Store or my Teachers Pay Teacher Store and pick up your copy today! I'd love to hear your thoughts on this system or how you organize scheduling your conferences!!! 

Thanks for stopping by today :)


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to School Giveaway!

I can't believe the summer is coming to an end... many of you have already went back to school and some of you, like me, will be starting soon. It's hard to say goodbye to summer... BUT there is something exciting about the beginning of the year. Decorating my classroom, new school supplies (yes I love new school supplies), and meeting my new group of kindergarten kiddies! As sad as I am to see summer come to a close I'm excited for this new adventure... 

This is a big year for me, after 5 years in my classroom watching it go from a small room to being fully rebuilt to a very large full sized room I am moving next door to a new classroom. I am taking over my good friends room since she is switching grades. This "new" classroom has so much potential in it and I  can't wait to get started with organizing and decorating it!!! I'm still teaching Kindergarten so I'm super excited about that. My little princess is also starting school for the first time this year, I know she is going to love it and although I'm a little sad to see her growing up so fast I'm so happy and excited. She asks every day to go to school and she loves doing "homework" (a.k.a. workbooks). I know she is going to love it and that makes it all the better. 

To celebrate the beginning of the school year I thought I would give away one of my clipboards. (Please be patient with me, this is my very first giveaway and I am sure there will be some hiccups along the way..) I made them last year for all the teachers on my grade and they LOVED them!!! You can choose from one of the designs I already have or request a color/theme and I can do my best to accommodate (I don't have a Silhouette Cameo or other cutting machine, although they are on my must have wish list! So keep that in mind if you are a winner, everything has to be either hand cut OR I have to find awesome scrapbook paper!)

Here are the clipboards I made last year:


Now here is the best part... I currently have 16 followers! If I hit 25 followers by the end of this giveaway I will give 1 clipboard away, if I hit 50 followers I will give 2 clipboards away, if I hit 75 followers I will give 3 clipboards away, and so on!! So the more you share my giveaway and the more people who follow my blog the more clipboards I will give away! The possibilities are endless, and so is the amount of clipboards I will give away!!

After you enter don't forget to leave a comment on my blog with your email address!! I need a way to contact you incase you are the lucky winner :)a Rafflecopter giveaway