Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - July 30th - Teacher Chair

It has been a week since I have blogged about anything!  It has been a little crazy of a week but I know it is only beginning with school starting up in a couple of weeks.  August is upon us....sigh.  I am linking up with Sugar and Spice for

I haven't been in my classroom to set up for this school year (we can't pick up our keys till August 5th) but I have been making some changes to my room.  One thing that I love is my teaching chair:  its a director's chair from Pier 1.

I love it because I can change out the color whenever I want to and give it a whole new look!  I had teal one year, last year was green and I am thinking I might be on a search for blue this year.  This chair is awesome because it is practically indestructible and it folds up when I need space/for storing over the summer.  I love that I can take the fabric pieces off to wash them so no worries about spills/accidents and all the other business that can happen in Kindergarten. Do you have a "teacher chair" and what do you use?  Can't wait to hear all about it!

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday Linky Party - July 23rd

I'm back for another Sugar and Spice  - 

I love looking at everyone's pictures!  Such a fun way to make connections and be inspired to try/make/learn something new!   I am on the make something new train today and I came across these clear pails in Hobby Lobby.  I have seen them on Pinterest (I try to avoid getting on there - it always turns into a 2-3 hour treasure hunt!) and decided to pick up a small one to see what I could come up with.  I ended up decorating it for my Poppin Kinder Sight Word game but I know that there are tons of creative ideas for these guys!

What do you use these containers for - either at home or in the classroom? What do you use to decorate them?

I can't wait to hear your great ideas!  Please feel free to add photos too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Monday Made-It: Tidy Blog Board

I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for another 
I have a million different things going on at once - the back to school bug has bitten and I am having a hard time finishing something before I start/create another "great idea!".  I hope that I am not the only one who does this EVERY single year.  But that's ok cause this year I created something to help me stop having 20+ things going at once and to concentrate on what I need to get done first.  Which brings me to my "made it"!

Last week I looked at my computer and I had over 20 items that I was working on at once.  Some that were just started, some that were half way and then those that I just needed to spell-check and they were ready.  You would think that I would concentrate on the spell-check ones and finish them up but I keep finding myself getting distracted! Something would trigger another idea and then I would switch gears and start "a new project" while it was fresh and the juices were flowing.   And so this went on for awhile...then I discovered I was having a hard time telling where I left off on a project.  So I started thinking how can I organize this hot mess and I happened to glance up at the wall above my desk and thought "a board!" - a visual so its all right there to keep me on track!  So once again the  juices were flowing (but I figured it was ok to get distracted this time cause I was fixing the problem!) and I created my "Tidy Blog Board".  I love it!  I haven't hung it up yet because I am painting my office but I couldn't wait to share!

Here is how I did it:
I bought a cork board at Hobby Lobby (you can get them anywhere - I just happened to have a gift card AND they were on sale - double bonus!).   I bought the big one: 36" x 36".  But you can get whatever size works for you!  The board came with a natural wood border and I am a matchy matchy girl so I wanted the board to match the rest of my office furniture....which is black.  And I already had left over black paint so it was an easy fix!  I just taped off the inside edge and painted the border black. Took about 30 minutes start to finish (including dry time!).

 After the paint was dry I removed the painter's tape and in comes washi tape - black again for me! There are a million different colors/patterns of washi tape so your options are limitless.  I used black to simplify the board - the labels I created had enough color for me. You can find washi tape pretty much anywhere - Target, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Jo Ann Fabrics, etc.  It is in the scrapbook section.
I knew I wanted a calendar at the top so I started there: I taped down a piece of scrapbook paper so give it some "pop" and then sectioned the middle and three areas underneath.

Now I was ready for the goodies!  I created some labels/organizers and you can download them for free here! Below is a preview of my "tidy blog board" pack.  Print what you find helpful. 

After I printed the labels I laminated them. I got a personal laminater for Christmas a couple year back - best gift EVER! I laminated some of the organizers too - the calendar, this week list, and today's list so that I can reuse them.  I use expo markers and then erase when I'm done.  Now I don't have to reprint and use all that paper every time a new day/week/month begins!

Now I thought I was being super smart using glue dots but that was a HUGE mistake!  See exhibit A below.   Those little buggers are so powerful they ripped my board! I am just thankful I only used them on two labels before I did the entire board! Lesson learned - don't use glue dots on cork if you EVER plan on moving something.  I decided to go with push pins instead...I am still looking for "cute ones" but these work for now (and they don't destroy the board!).
Exhibit A
How it works:
So this is how I use it but everyone has their own system.  I am sure I will make changes along the way but for now I'll share how my hot mess became organized chaos!  

I have a little notebook that I use to write down all of my ideas.  There is no rhyme or reason to it yet. I plan on tackling that next.  But for now I just write em down so that they are at least somewhere.  If I am out and about I write a note on my phone and transfer it to the book when I get home.

If it is something I want to create right away (for example new table signs for this school year) then I would copy it out of the book onto an "another fresh idea" card.  This can be found in the "Tidy Blog Board" packet.  I pin that card on the board under the section labeled "Fresh Ideas".  
My rule is no more than 8 "fresh ideas" at a time.  This forces me to finish up some of my "in progress" creations.  
Once I open a power point and start the "fresh idea" to gets moved to the "In progress" section.  
And once I spell check it and its done I use a "ready to go" button and can see quickly what is ready to go!  I categorized the buttons by subject so "table #s" would go under "other".

I am thinking I am going to put my ready to go buttons in a binder after I publish them so I can keep track of things.  Just a thought.  

I am also working on creating a "Linky Board" to keep track of linkys but I haven't finished that yet. The organizers and labels are included in the "Tidy Blog Board" as well. I printed and laminated them. I already had a smaller cork board and so here is what I am thinking of doing:

So if you are a visual person like me and want a "tidy blog board" don't forget to download your freebie here and get started!  I would love to see pictures of your board and how it works for you!

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Five For Friday - July 18th

Man this week went by fast!  It is time again to join Doodle Bugs Teaching for:

It was a pretty uneventful, relaxing week so let's see what I can think of.....

I went to Lakeshore and lucked out in the clearance section!  I found this beginning sounds fishing game and it was marked down to $19.99 plus an additional 20% off.   I was so excited!  I have been wanting this game for about 4 years!  I tried to make it once...epic fail.  It was the floor display but I checked it throughly, counted all the pieces and then checked it again.  Looked great to me so in my basket it went!  Whoop!  I scored AGAIN when I found foam letter dice.  I recently purchased Growing Kinder's ABC Centers For the Frugal Teacher Combo Pack and some of the activities call for letter dice.  I knew I had seen some at Lakeshore before but when I went they told me they were a clearance item only!  I must have looked like a deflated balloon because Jeenie all but ran to the clearance to see if they had any left.  And guess what!?  They had TWO!  I bought them both.  Last ones and on sale!  I almost felt like I should buy a lottery ticket on the way home....

I got to spend some girl time with Connie, my swim buddy.  We went to lunch at Salata (one of my new favs - I didn't know salads had that many options/combos!) and then shopped in a couple little boutiques.  I found a dress that I am in love with - I just think the back is so pretty!  I didn't buy it but when I got home and showed Greg the picture he wants to see it in person.  So who knows...maybe I'll end up buying it when we go back!

I finally went and bought all the supplies needed to create my "Clip Art" binder.  I've discovered that when I am trying to create something in Powerpoint I spend forever trying to find what I'm looking for.  I must open a million files before I find the one I'm looking for - ok...I exaggerate...It's probably more like 10.   But it is still time consuming!  I found myself wishing for a way I could quickly see the clip art and then it hit me - a clip art binder!  My plan is too print a small version of each clip art file, label where I can find them on the computer (no use in a binder full of clip art if I can't remember where to find them when its time to upload) and put them in a sheet protector so they will last forever (I can always hope!).  I am debating about how to do the binder sections though...by clip art artist, by what it is (paper, border, frames, clip art, etc), or both?  I will keep thinking on it.  If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them!! I have done 4 files so far so I can give you a quick preview of what I am doing.  I promise to show more when I finish!

It rained a lot here this past week so that meant some extra cuddle time with my fur babies!  We watched movies, caught up on some summer reading and played on the computer/kindle till the batteries died.  It is a rare thing for Izzy (the black dog) to cuddle but she can't stand rain so I enjoyed my bonus snuggles.  Miley (the weenie dog) is a champion 24/7 cuddler but she enjoyed sister joining us too.  

I am so excited to use my newest addition:  Hello Fonts by Jen Jones!  I have been offering to type up just about anything to be able to use them!  Here is my favorite creation so far! I love inspiration boards so I typed up what a teacher means to me.   I printed it, cut it out, glued it onto a piece of scrapbook paper and then framed it (8 x 10 frame).  This frame doesn't look as good as I thought it would so I am going to buy a new one when I go back to Hobby Lobby.  I will bring the inspiration paper with me so I make sure I get the right one!

Click here for your free download.

Thanks for stopping by and reading about my week!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why I Do What I Do - Classroom Library Organization

I am linking up with Bunting, Books and Bright Ideas for her "Why I Do What I Do" series!  This week is one of my favorite topics - classroom library organization!  Anything to do with organizing makes me smile.  I am famous for organizing things that are already organized!

My classroom library has grown bigger every year.  I just can't stop buying books!  But with more books comes more organization so the library doesn't turn into a heap of books on the floor.  It took  awhile to find what works for me but I finally found it and I am IN LOVE!  But I'll start at the beginning.....

The Early Years:
The problem was that I had a lot of books but I didn't really have a system that made the books easily accessible to the kiddos.  My books were organized by monthly themes in plastic bins I found at Target and stored in a cabinet.  Which worked ok...not great.  I  still had to sort through each bin every month to separate my teacher books from the kiddos books.  You know what I mean - those books you paid a little bit more for and will turn into Viola Swamp if a kiddo so much as holds it upside down.  So I would put the kiddo books on the book shelf and then have to find a place for my teacher books. What a hassle! Plus I had all these books just sitting in a closet, not being used 11 months out of the year! Crazy, right?!  Well then everyone started buzzing about "The Daily Five" and this crazy notion called "read to self".  That's when everything started changing....

The Beginning of Utopia:
 I became "Daily Five" obsessed: I bought the book, followed blog sites, talked to other teachers about what they thought and became a pinterest addict (who isn't on some topic or another!). When I went to school to set up my classroom I started with the library.  I knew I wanted more space for books so the kiddos could "shop" and a wall for the CAFE board.  So after an inner debate I cleared off a shelf I had previously used for workstations and added that to the library. 
 I was then able to put 14 book bins out at a time, plus my monthly theme shelf! I dubbed this area "library".  But then I had to find a place for their leveled books - the ones that are on their reading level.  So...I created a 2nd library in my room and dubbed that one "Read to Self".  The white shelf in the middle is to hold their individual book bins.

I named the libraries two different things to avoid confusion when I was talking about a certain type of book.  When I first started the "read to self" library I just used the colored sticker dots and wrote numbers on them for the leveled reader bins.  Then I labeled all the books that would go in that bin the same way - colored sticker dot and a number.  For example the first two green bins on the left are for reading level A.  All level A books were labeled with a yellow sticker dot with the number 1 on them.  This method made it easy for students to put their old books away and independently shop for new ones when it was their shopping day.

I finally found Utopia:
So I was trucking along with my upgraded 14 bin library and newly debuted "read to self" library when I started to realize that the kiddos were having a hard time putting the books back in the right book bin i "library"....and it was becoming a hot mess real fast.  I spent every day after school re-organizing the book bins.  So I went back to blogging and pinteresting and discovered book bin labels with matching stickers.  Genius!  My labels and matching stickers came from  Krazee For Kindergarten  but there are a million different designs/themes to choose from on the web.  

So my amazing mom came down to visit me and helped me sort, label and sticker every. single. book. that I own.  She is the best!  It took us three days - about 9 hours.  But the end result is amazing! Kiddos were reading books and putting them back in the right book bins immediately!  I added "2 librarians" to the job chart = at the end of the day they check 2 random book bins and make sure that the books are in the correct bin.

 All good right....well...almost. I adored my new library but I could only put 14 bins out at a time, so...... time to rearrange my room AGAIN!  I cleared ANOTHER shelf and donated my slanted library shelf to a new teacher.  I then moved the library to an area where the two shelves fit side by side and I still had a blank wall for the CAFE board.  It worked beautifully! I LOVE how this library holds 40+ book bins.  Now there is a plethora of topics for the students to choose from.  The white 4 drawer bin by the chair holds retelling props of stories we have covered in class.  The kids love retelling with a partner and the drawers keep everything neat and tidy.

I heart my library!

Read to Self Library with the new labels and individual book bins displayed.
How Both Libraries Are Used:
  • "Library" - where I house all of my theme/topic books.  Students go here for "Read to Someone" during Daily 5 rotations and are allowed to swap out two picture books for two new picture books on their book shopping day.
  • "Read To Self" Library - where I house all the leveled book and their individual book bins.  Students go here for "Read to Self" during Daily 5 rotations and they practice reading the books in their individual book bin.  They go here to swap out 3 leveled readers for 3 new ones on their book shopping day.  The green buckets that hold the leveled readers came from IKEA and the book bins are from Steps To Literacy.

 I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey to library perfection!  If you have any questions, just ask! Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wordless Wednesday Linky Party - July 16th

I am joining Sugar and Spice for:

Our big vacation this summer was to see Greg's (my boyfriend) family in Michigan.  Every time we go up there we go to Lake Michigan and have to stop by and eat at a little place called Pronto Pups.  Its more like a shack really - they have a little window where you order "pronto pups".  They make them right there and then you tell them what condiments you want (mustard or ketchup or both).  It is basically a corn dog but man are they good.  They are a "must have" whenever we travel to Michigan!

 What are your "must have" stops when you travel?

Can't wait to read your comments!

Back To School Weekly Linky - #1 Behavior Management

I am joining Miss V's Busy Bees and Mrs. D's Corner for their back 2 school weekly linky! I love how each week focuses on a different topic!
This week's topic is behavior management.  Always a toughy for new teachers.  Even those of us who thought "oh, we got this" we thrown for a loop our first year.  But I promise it gets better and when you find what works for you its smooth sailing!  Teachers are a creative bunch and  I LOVE reading what other teacher's do for behavior management - like Miss V's "party puff's"!  I am going to add that to my list this year!  Here are a couple of tips for behavior management.  Enjoy!

Couple Rules of Thumb:

My #1 (and I mean absolute must):  Be consistent with whatever you decide to implement.  You start it, you finish it and if it was horrible - chunk it after that year.  If it was amazing - keep it.  

#2 What works for one class might not work as well for another.  It all depends on the group dynamics and individual personalities.  Be open to new ideas and suggestions.  Sometimes outsiders have the best advice.

#3 When addressing a sad choice try to speak to that kiddo one-on-one to make sure they are focusing on you and not the fact that the rest of the class is staring at them.  This can be a challenge and sometimes I forget in the heat of the moment (we are human after all) but something to keep in mind.

#4  MODEL MODEL MODEL!! I can't stress this enough.  I always tell new teachers to pretend the kiddos have never done it before.  This may pertain more to the younger ones than older kiddos but, if you do this, I promise things will run smoother throughout the year.  Take the time in the beginning to lay down expectations and practice them before expecting them to follow them.  How are they supposed to know if you didn't teach it?  I have even confessed to kiddos that "It was my fault, I didn't take the time to explain what I wanted you to do."   Our class motto:  We all make mistakes (even Santa) so admit it, do you best to fix it and move on.

Some of the Management Tools I Use:

Clip System:  
The whole Kindergarten team uses this.  It is a chart that has 4 colored circles and a star at the top.  The colors are in descending order - green, yellow, orange, red. Each student has a clip with their class number on it (I don't write names so that it remains semi private).
Every day the kiddos start out on green (another class motto: new day is what I always say!).  They can move up or down the clip chart depending on the kinds of choices they make. 
Wrong Choice: They get two warnings and then it is a clip change.  I use the same language every time to make sure I'm being consistent. 
  1. First Warning:  Please don't (be specific about what you don't want them doing).  Let's make a better choice.
  2. Second warning:  Warning two.  Next time it's a clip change.
  3. Third time:  Got move your clip (they know to move the clip down only on color unless I say otherwise).

They also have the opportunity to move their clip back up the chart if they make better choices throughout the day.  So their clips can go up or down depending on their actions.  
The star at the top is for Superstar.  This is for going above and beyond what is expected.  I don't give these out a whole lot.  Typically one superstar per kiddo each 9 weeks (so 4 times a year).  Superstar is a HUGE deal in my room cause it is so rare - the kids all clap and congratulate the kiddo who earned it.  The superstar gets the title of "Superstar" the rest of the day, gets a superstar sticker, treasure box at the end of the day and is the first one to pick a social center at the end of the day.  Like I said...BIG DEAL!!!! 
At the end of the day we record what color they were on along with any notes (positive and explanations).  If they were on green they get one check on their treasure box sheet, superstar gets two checks.  They get treasure box every time they earn 20 checks.

High Fives:
This is a class based compliment reward system.  Every time an adult (can be a parent, teacher, aide, principal, etc) compliments the entire class, they earn a high five.  I just bought cute colored hands for the "high fives" and haven't set it up yet but here is last years.  The pocket chart is a Target Dollar Spot Find (I have seen a couple in the bins this year).

They work towards different goals:
10 high fives: Movie party (30 minutes)
20 high fives:  Stinky Feet Day
30 high fives: Extra Recess (20 minutes)
40 high fives: Stuffed Animal Day 
(they can bring a small stuffed animal to school - it has to be able to fit in their backpack)

I hope my post was helpful! Thanks for stopping by!