Monday, August 26, 2013

My Classroom is in Scholastic Instructor! :D

I'm excited.  Like... super duper WAY excited!  I can finally share with you the video shoot that Scholastic Instructor did in my classroom last year!  It's on their website now in a brand new segment on Classroom Organization.  Here it is!
 The full article with two other classroom video tours (who are colleagues of mine with awesome classrooms!) can be found here: How To: Organize Your Classroom . Mine is the video in the middle, the "Super Organizer".  I'm going to watch that every time I feel disorganized, LOL. :)
Scholastic Instructor's editor sent me an email today to let me know that it was posted and that the print article featuring our classrooms is in the current issue of Instructor Magazines that is in the mail and on its way now! I haven't gotten to talk to Jen or Sven yet since they were posted in the late afternoon today but I'm sure they are really psyched, too.  So there is my Classroom Reveal #2!
By the way, I'm not currently on Facebook, as I took a much needed break last summer and never went back - (I feel like I've gained hours!) - but Scholastic Teacher also posted the videos there, so feel free to "Like" or comment here or there:  Scholastic Teachers Facebook Classroom Tour .
I was nervous about seeing the final product, but Scholastic are masters! Let me know what you think!
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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fun Stuff For Firsties and Friends!

The week before the first week back is so awkward, isn't it?  That's where I am now.  We start school right after Labor Day, so it's still a week away, but I am feeling jittery and unprepared, like I always feel at this time of year.  I know the actual beginning will be exhausting, but I will be glad to get back into the routine ~ I think the anticipation is killing me!  Lol...
I've been trying to keep myself busy when I'm not in the classroom or shopping/playing with my own kiddies.  I've mentioned before that my school uses D'Nealian handwriting and I have a D'Nealian practice pack in my TpT store, but that one includes uppercase and lowercase on the same page.  To start the year, I need to focus on lowercase, so I set to work making a new handwriting book for my grade level.  It took a loonnnnngggg time this week (I have to confess, longer than I had hoped; fortunately my family is patient with me!) but it is finally finished!  Here it is:

Student cover page

A page for each lowercase alphabet letter

Includes number, color, and shape words
and sentences
That's just a few pages, it's a 40-page pack.  I'm so happy with it.  I hope my grade level buddies love it, too.  Our old handwriting pages are so blah!  Yay for cutening things up!
While I was hard at work on that, I was also spending many many hours in my classroom this past week (some of which you saw in my last post), another very good friend of mine who teaches third grade stopped in and showed me some cute things he had picked up for his new classroom theme of SOCK MONKEYS!  Oh my gosh... just click and drool:
New Sock Monkeys Collection from TREND
I am telling you, I should just work for TREND or at least get paid for how much I promote their adorable stuff!  Lol.  Anyway, I told my friend I'd make him a Sock Monkeys SMARTboard Attendance file.  I am nothing if not true to my word, so here it is!

No more monkeys jumping on the bed!  Hehe :)

Ok, now I'm headed OUTSIDE for a picnic with my family.  Time for a breath of fresh air as the weekend comes to an end!  Hope yours has been a restful one, especially those of you back in school already!

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Saturday, August 24, 2013

Classroom Reveal....Part 1

Hi guys!  I've been sort of MIA in blogland this week because I've been in my classroom setting up.  You know how all-consuming that is!
Last year, I changed my classroom theme from Busy Bees to Wise Owls, and I did a lot of redecorating.  This year, I'm continuing the change and adding some new owly touches.  Today's post is not exactly a classroom reveal (I still have next week and I need it!  Lol) but here are some sneak peeks of my work-in-progress!  This pic is from last year:
I wasn't teacher blogging last year, so I don't have a ton of purposeful "before" pictures, but here is a little peek at my old desk area and the black bulletin board beside it (if you can see it, all covered in papers). I had a black and red apple theme going on there to kind of separate it from the bright colors in the rest of the room.  Why?  I don't know.  Grown up space?  Lol... anyway... I redid the bulletin board, here it is now:
So much brighter!  I love it.  Someone showed me the amazing trick a few years ago of buying fabric to cover my bulletin boards instead of awful butcher paper which gets all wrinkled and never comes out the right size even though you thought you cut it perfectly.  So now I have my blue cloth background, which I will just take home and wash at the end of the year and re-use next year! (I have been doing this for a while, it doesn't even fade!  It's a bulletin board miracle!)  The border is from the TREND Owl-Stars Collection (I got it at a Lakeshore teacher store):

Owl-Stars!® Trimmers and Borders from TREND
Click here for more TREND Owl-Star products on their website
So cute! I am in love with their products; their owls are cute, colorful, and quirky.  I also have their job chart:

T-8360 Owl-Stars!® Job Chart Bulletin Board Set
Click here for ordering info
.. along with their notepads, charts, stickers, weather chart, calendar... tons of their cutie patootie owls.  No, I don't work for them or get kickbacks (lol), I just really like their stuff!

I also added these to my new teacher board:
Can you see them?  They are little owl clothespins!  I got them on a trip to Michaels, where they had a whole owl display:

Seriously.  I wanted it ALL.

But I only bought these.
I used my trusty hot glue gun to glue thumbtacks to some of the clothespins:

And then I added some of Lakeshore's magnet dots to the back of a few and stuck them right next to my teacher board on my whiteboard.  I will stick one of those to our metal doorframe when we go outside with a little note to let people know where we are. I'm using the owl craft in that picture for one of the first days (depending how hard it turns out to be) and the sleep mask will be for pin-the-tail-on-whatever at class parties.  Yay!
Here are a few more great finds... from Michaels' 70% OFF BIN!!!! WHAT!?!
I almost died when I saw them.  The kiddie chair is really small, so not sure how I will use that yet, but the stepstool will replace the plain white one my kiddies use to reach the higher parts of our SMARTboard.  The stuffed owls are actually supposed to be bookends, they are surprisingly heavy.  So they will be decorations.  But 70% off, people!!!
And then there are my new teacher drawers, which I am LOVING, thanks to Learning in Wonderland's Owl Be Organized Teacher Toolbox, one of my favorite TpT purchases from the BTS sale!
I can hardly contain the cuteness where there used to be plain drawers with white labels that I wrote on.  LOVE!!!
Next, I updated my book boxes, which used to look like this:
... but now look like this, thanks to Carson Dellosa's owl name tags.  (I have a TON of their owl products, too.  Again, I have never been sent samples or asked to endorse a product.  I just buy stuff.  And love it.  Hehe).

I have also been updating my letter/number/sign language posters, since they put up my SMARTboard a while back and suddenly blocked the view of my old set:

This is a summer pic, not a finished classroom pic.  See how my letters are blocked?

So I made a new owly ABC poster set, mounted it on construction paper (consonants in brown, vowels in pink):
On my carpet, waiting to be cut
I also made new number posters and sign language fingerspelling ABC posters, and then my lovely older daughter helped me cut it all!

 Here's what the alphabet looks like now:

Happiness!  Now my kids can actually see it!  Lol.  I know the letters are hard to see in the picture but they aren't in real life (hopefully the close up above shows them better).
So that is what I have been up to so far!  Lots more to do, but it's getting there.  My class just got their teacher assignments this past week and I got an email from one of my cutie patooties just saying hello and introducing herself.  Soooo cute!  I am definitely excited about the new year!
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Monday, August 19, 2013

The Evil Opposite of a Classroom Reveal and a FREEBIE!

I know I'm not the only one who has been in denial about setting up my classroom, right? I have bought things and laminated and cut (and cut and cut and cut) things for my classroom this summer, but I've sort of had this lovely fairy dust notion that the classroom would get done after our vacation.  Which just ended yesterday.  And so.
Today I was at a meeting about first grade math curriculum in which THINGS WERE ACTUALLY REMOVED from our curriculum.  It was like The Twilight Zone.  Apparently in aligning our curriculum to the Common Core, which has been going on for a while now, the powers that be realized that we actually might be teaching too much. 
Too.  Much.  The people with the big admin pens actually said it.
Yes, we do teach more than the Common Core, and we will continue to do so.  Of course we won't be leaving money out of first grade even though it doesn't have standards.  But there were some things that they felt could GO. (Like removing thirds from our fractions unit, woohoo!).  So that was positive and happy.
And the meeting even ended a little early, which was also unusual and positive and happy.
So I decided to zoom on over to my school with my little bit of extra time and take stock before I pull my first full setting-up day tomorrow.  And here is what I saw:
Empty, bare, stuff all piled on shelves, boooo!

Where everything gets piled for summer cleaning - my coat closet.
Stuff stored everywhere... NOTHING LOOKS CUTE!

They took out my tv.... and left a mess of wires...
The front of my room.  Looking bald and sad. Needing School Rogaine.

My old letter and sign language signs, soon to be replaced by the Mod Owl versions in my TpT store. Can't wait!

Plus lots of labeling with these, which you can get together as a FREEBIE set HERE.

I also made a new lil SMARTboard attendance file to match:
I'm not gonna lie, I kinda wanna cry.  But my room will get there.  It always does!
The good news is, my fishtank did get a nice sprucing up...
Before - Plants all eaten, old things inside all chipped 
Bright, new plants (fake though) and a cute lil fish house. :)

Onward and upward tomorrow! :)
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Friday, August 16, 2013

Teacher Week '13 - The Finale! (Where Things Get Tricky...)

Happy Friday! What a great week! Thanks so much to Blog Hoppin' for hosting this fun and informative Teacher Week blog hop.  I don't know about you, but I've discovered new blogs and LOTS of great ideas. Kinda bummed it's ending, actually, lol. 
Today the hop is all about teacher tips 'n tricks. This is one of the best parts about following other teacher blogs, the amazing "why didn't I think of that?" tips that work wonders!  So here is my #1 tip for a great start to the year:
Do something special that bonds your class right from the start.
In my class, we make class shirts during the first week of school.  I wish I had last year's shirts to show you, but I am on vacation and only have my personal laptop - the newest pics are on my school laptop.  So I will show you my class' cutie patootie owl shirts in a few weeks when this year's kiddos make them!
In the meantime, I did manage to find pics of the shirts we made before my theme changed to Wise Owls, when my theme was Mrs. Brooks' Busy Bees!
This one is actually unfinished (like I said, not many pics here)... I always write the class name and the child's name and school year on it. 
Here's a super quick How-To:
(ps - It's VERY helpful to have a few parents in to help! Fabric paint doesn't come off of clothing, so I station a few parents at the painting table, and a few at the sink. I usually ask one to walk a painty child to the sink to be sure that nothing gets touched en route! It's also a great way to incorporate parents right from the start, I make a lot of good relationships that way!)
1. I ask my students to bring a white or very light colored shirt with their beginning of the year school supplies.  I make it clear that we will be painting on it and it will be a class shirt that they get to keep. I always run to the dollar store and grab maybe 5 plain t-shirts in case anyone forgets.
2. I go to Michael's and buy the colors I need of fabric paint.  For Busy Bees, I used brown for the hive and yellow and black for the bees. I also pick up a black fabric marker for smaller details.
3. Be sure to Sharpie student names on the shirt tag before painting.
4. Slide a piece of cardboard inside the shirt before painting. The paint can go through to the other side.
5. For this beehive design, we painted large-bubble bubble wrap and pressed it onto the shirt, then let it dry for a day. Don't skimp on drying time!
6. Then I had the kids fingerprint with yellow paint.  Another day of drying time.
7. Finally, I added black dots (for flying trails, maybe you can see them in the pic if you squint lol), antennae, and the words with black fabric marker. You could also do this with paint, but my kiddies didn't want to wait to bring their shirts home! :)
My Curly Jones making her own Busy Bee shirt! She was only 5 at the time, so you can see it's easy!
We take a few individual and class pictures right off the bat in our cool new shirts, and the kids bring them home. I encourage them to wear their shirts on school spirit days, field trips, etc. and then again on the last day, so we have really sweet pictures as well as a nice "bookend" experience as a group.
*Note: Always keep supplies on hand for new, incoming students.  My district is highly transient, so I can easily get 5 or more new students as the year progresses, and lose several as well.  Our shirts help the ones who leave feel like they will always be one of us, and help the new ones to feel like they belong with us right away!
I can't wait to show you the owl version, they are totally different than these!  Link on up and share your own teacher tips by clicking on the button at the top of the post! :)

Here is something new I will be using in my owly classroom this year:

Don't forget the TpT sale August 18 & 19! 
You can get up to 28% off with the TpT discount code BTS13!
Click here for the Forever First Grade Store.
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