Sunday, December 8, 2013

Donors Choose :)

Thanks to Kia, my project on Donors Choose is halfway funded. For $249 my kiddos could have an iPad mini and a set of 8 headphones! If you enter the code: DISNEY, Disney will match your donation dollar for dollar (until December 13th). So.... for a total of $124.50 we could have some incredible tools in the classroom! Can you spare a buck or two?
 Yes, I'm begging.  I am not too proud to beg for my kiddos. :)

Update 12/12/13: the Kia offer has ended. :( Please help the Munchkins.

Thank you!!! :)

Friday, November 29, 2013

Cyber Monday and Tuesday Sale at TPT
Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale!! 
My store is discounted 20% Monday & Tuesday.  If you put in the code "cyber"  you'll get an additional 8% for a total of 28% off!  So, when you're all worn out from your Black Friday shopping, go build your wish list on TPT and don't forget to enter that code when you checkout during the Cyber Monday & Extended Tuesday sales.
Thanks & enjoy!! :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thanksgiving and Stone Soup :)

This week is all about Thanksgiving & Stone Soup!  I am so excited!!  I think the kiddos are going to love every minute. 
We will be talking about several topics but they are all integrated into the unit for Thanksgiving & the fable Stone Soup.  Our topics include fables, coins (values & attributes), natural sources of water (hello ocean on which the Pilgrims traveled!), and the history of the first Thanksgiving.
Below are a couple special websites available to help us teacher this week.  The Munchkins will LOVE the virtual field trips!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Beginning Place Value

We are about to start the 4th week of First Grade and do you know how tired I am?!  I feel like we've been in school for ages!  I have the sweetest group of Munchkins, though.  One of my team members pointed out that I call them Pumpkin Heads more than I call them Munchkins.  I don't know how or why that has happened, but it sure seems to have stuck!  They are some seriously cute (and way busy) Punkin' Heads!
Through some baseline assessments, that I barely finished on Friday, I realized that the kiddos need some practice with using manipulatives as tools for learning, rather than just toys.  As much as they love to build things (and they will continue to build things all year long), they really need to use these tools to increase their understanding of academic concepts.  With that purpose in mind I put together this simple set of place value task cards.
There are 4 sets included in the bundle.  Three of the sets require students to use different manipulatives to build numbers up to 20, while another set has them building numbers up to 50.  This makes it fairly easy to differentiate your stations.
Print the cards, laminate them so they're pretty sturdy, and then have kiddos turn the sets upside down and take turns picking/building sets of numbers.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

First Week Reflection :)

The children & I have survived the first week of school for 2013-2014!!  I can hardly believe it.  Haha!  I have been so spoiled by looping with the Munchkins and keeping my precious babes for 2 years... I forgot what it was like to have a brand new crew!  Plus, we are a bit over-crowded.  LOTS of firsties this year.  I maybe should have opted to keep that 5th table in the room.    Because we are overloaded, we don't have enough folders, textbooks, planners, materials, etc... but we will work that out! That's an easy fix. 
I'll tell you what, though... they are crazy sweet, crazy smart, and LOVE to share everything that they know.  Once we get used to each other and get all of our routines firmly established, this is going to be an amazing year for all of us.  I am excited about the possibilities!
Some things that worked for me this first week of school:
Badges for Dismissal
Remember these lovely little badges I used for Camp Munchkin last year?  Well, they've saved my life again!  I don't have a picture of what I did, but seriously.. they are a life saver!
The first few days of school I completely stress over dismissal.  I am THAT teacher who wants to be sure all of her kids get safely home.  I am meticulous at finding out what bus they ride, what stop they get off at, and what daycare they attend.  But, it doesn't matter.  Something always goes wrong.  Bus numbers get mixed up, we get the bus stops wrong, somebody falls asleep on the bus and the driver doesn't see them, you know how it goes. 
Before they even showed up on Day 1 (because Meet the Teacher was the week prior) I printed their dismissal directions on Avery Labels, stuck them to a piece of cardstock, stuck the cardstock inside the badge, and voila!  They even wore them home!  Only 2 students didn't wear them back the next day.  Those odds are incredible!  :)  Of course, I had to edit a few with new dismissal procedures & bus changes and whatnot, but boy... this worked!
These labels are amazing for everything in the classroom. Click the pic to find them at Amazon.
Badges for Leadership Roles
Same badges as above only I stuck a copy of their Leadership Role (class job) in the badge and they remembered their responsibilities without me having to figure out who's what where and when! 
For the leadership roles I use in the classroom, clickety clickety here to go to that post where you can download a set for free.  The kiddos love them.  I need to get a little more creative and find more roles, though.  We will rotate role once a week.
Simple Bucket Rotation Before Stations Roll Out
I'm not at full station rotation just yet.  These guys are a lot on the noisy side and it's taking us a bit longer to get them independently working than I'm used to.  Again... I am so spoiled!  Right now we are up to about 4 minutes of quiet voices (oh my) and about 15 solid minutes of independently working without needing assistance.  That's not going to work when I need a good solid hour for small group guided work.
Using simple buckets with a variety of maniuplatives for word building, independent reading, and letter-sound correspondence is really working for training them to work cooperatively with others, remain in a station, and use soft voices to communicate with each other.  I have a feeling this will be my greatest challenge this year.


Big Schedule:
Please excuse my thumb & terrible handwriting, but this really helped.  It's not a complete schedule & things will get shuffled around, but it was a lifesaver.  I'm working on a picture/word schedule that should help us maneuver through our day even more smoothly!
 Some things that didn't quite work:
My Classroom Printer
Ugh!  It worked on Day 1 & now it's possessed with some sort of back to school monster.  I'm thankful for it all the same because at least it works part of the time.  Focus on the positive, right?! 
Gator Hour
Out intervention block is set for first thing in the morning.  Kiddos are not yet ready to work independently for any extended length of time.  This first week, we were supposed to be doing baseline assessments so that we would be ready to place kiddos in groups.  Well... give me another week or 2 and they'll be set.  :)

That's all folks!  What worked for you?  What would you change?  What would you do again next year?  Now it's time for a 3 day weekend full of rest, rejuvenation, and I'm hungry.  What's for breakfast?

♥With happiness,
Jen :)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Twas the Night Before! :)

Are you nervous?  I'm excited nervous!  I'm that kind of nervous that says, "It's gonna be great but man, I hope we make it through the first day!" 
I hope I have enough planned.  I hope the kiddos like me.  I hope they like each other.  I hope, I hope, I hope...
Night, friends!  I hope your first day is magical (and mine, too)!
With happiness,
Jen ♥

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Peek at the Details

I was so tired when leaving school after prep day yesterday, I didn't take a single new picture of my classroom!  I'm frustrated with myself for that. At the same time, after 2 weeks of prepping the classroom, attending trainings, and planning, planning, and more planning... I deserve a rest before the kiddos show up Monday morning.
So.... here's a little mini-peek into some details of my classroom.  Some of them are a little bit cuter now that all my labels are up, but of course I don't have pics of that!  I'll try to remember to get full classroom views up next week.
Wishing you a happy pre-back to school weekend! ♥



Sunday, August 18, 2013

TPT Sale! :)

Everything in my store is on sale for 10% off & TPT will discount it even more when you use code BTS13 at checkout.
My sale will continue through August 20th!  :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Daily Math Wall {Free} Printable :)

Last summer is kind of a blur for me.  After my sweet sister's death & a little surgery I was very much in a fog.  While it was difficult, there were several highlights that I will never forget!  My bestie and I traveled to Colorado and had the most amazing time driving around and spending great time with her {my unofficially adopted} family.

Toward the end of last summer, I started working on some Pinterest inspired projects. One of which was this "MathWall" that I absolutely used every single day of first grade.  You can see the post about that by clicking here. Looking at it now, it seems so goofy looking but honestly, we used it every day!
Since this summer has been one of serious renewal, relaxation, travel, time with friends and family, and just an all around FABULOUS summer, I have been anxiously Pinteresting all over the place these last couple weeks before school starts back up.  The Math Wall has now become the "Daily Math" wall & I typed it all up so that I could print it and glue it down on a fresh new poster board. 
Here's the one we used last year:
And Now the New & Improved:
I am so excited! 
Looking at it here I can kind of see little pieces that I wish were straighter or spaced better but whatever.  I'm still excited!  :)
For the Piggy Bank Money we take the # of the day (number of days in school) and use coins to build that amount.  Believe it or not we kept it going all year long.  I really think it helped the munchkins be able to count mixed coins more easily.  We just drew circles with the number identifying the amount of each coin inside the little piggie.  Worked like a charm!
I took off the "tally marks" and the patterning strips from the old version because thanks to this incredible blogger at Teacher Bits & Bobs, I printed an entire set of "Math Wall" posters for FREE to use alongside the new and improved daily math thingie bobber.  Click the link and check them out.  I plan to interchange them as needed.
I realize that you folks who love all these colorful patterned classroom tools will have issues with my black & white (with little scatters of pink & purple) version of this.  My thinking is that I don't want to be too busy with colors & patterns.  I printed them on white and stuck them to a black piece of poster board but that doesn't mean you have to. 
Print them on color, back the individual pieces with your favorite chevron scrapbook paper, or simply color some of them in with crayon before you laminate.  Whatever you choose to do, just make it yours & enjoy! 
Click the pic below to grab your free copy.  I hope you find it useful! 
With happiness,
Jen ♥

Friday, August 2, 2013

Everyone needs a job! *Free Printable*

I recognize that I am not like most.  I have issues with things being organized, cute, kid-friendly, organized, neat & tidy, organized, and did I mention organized?? ;)  I also really LOVE when kids feel a sense of responsibility in the classroom.  It's a space we share together.  We make decisions together, we support each other, and we all have responsibilities.  That's why everybody has a job!
I print out 2 sets of these little puppies on cardstock, laminate them, and then put one set in a pocket chart (it's really long and thin & has like 50 small pockets) stick the other set inside plastic badges that the munchkins wear until they start to eat them.
They will eat them.
Anyway, there's a variety of jobs here.  Many of them have to do with activities we only do once a day, but they are instrumental to our academic careers.  Other jobs are only specific to my current situation.  The "Caterer" is in charge of helping when our free breakfast in the classroom is served.
Of all the jobs here, Personal Assistant is by far the favorite.  This poor little munchkin is my personal helper for an entire week.  If I'm in the middle of something and lose my pen, guess who gets me one?  If I need to pass a note down the hall, guess who takes it?  This job is VERY important and they can get "fired" from this job and any other.  I really like to be all Donald Trump on them, too.... "It's not personal.  It's just good business."

We switch jobs on Mondays so that kiddos become strong experts at each job before moving on to the next.  Then I count on them to train & teach the next person about their responsibilities. 
I love this system! 
(The GPS job is the little system I put together that tells people where they can find us if we are  not in the classroom.  Print it, laminate, and stick Velcro dots in each little section that you can stick something to show your location each time you leave the room.  You'll find a picture link to that at the bottom of the page if you'd like a copy.)

Oh.... and the clipart is by the ever adorable DJ Inkers

GPS Sign for Outside the Classroom Door
Thanks so much for visiting!
With happiness,
Jen ♥

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reward Cards *Updated* & FREE! :)

I don't know how many of you have learned the wonders of these little beauties, but I'm so happy to have encountered them!  I just copy & cut a bunch of these, stick them in little keepers (I think they'll fit like a dream in those trading card holders), and use them to your little heart's content.  They absolutely eliminate the need for a treasure box! 

I have seen that some teachers just print one copy & put them in a plastic sleeve for students to choose their ticket rather than making copies.  Do whatever works for you, but I like that they are responsible for something.  They can't cash in their reward unless they have that little ticket in hand.  It's a life lesson for all of us. 
Here's how it works:  Kids get to the tippy top of the Behavior Chart, give 'em a ticket!  Somebody behave like a true leader all day long, let 'em pick a ticket!  Compliments in the hallway? Ticket! 
I promise.  It works.  I use a lot of them at the beginning of the year, and then I start to get super picky.  The tickets become seriously coveted.  Trust me, it works!
I save a few special ones for special classroom rewards.  For example, my lunch buddy ticket is reserved for special "Bravo Board" celebrations.  You can see that post here, but I have mainly used that Bravo Board for tallying up the cleanest or most responsible tables.  I love it!! 

This first page of tickets posted is what I used last year.  Their favorite was sitting with a buddy all day.  Big win for me!  This year, I've added a few new things:  eating lunch in the cafĂ© with a special placemat (I have yet to purchase this LOL), spending time with our new mascot Fernando, addressing students as King _____ or Queen _____ (you'll be surprised how many kiddos LIVE to be called King or Queen), and more....
So, click on the picture to download your free copy of the Reward Tickets with adorable DJ Inkers clipart.
Enjoy!  :)



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Attention Grabbers *FREE* Download :)

You know how every teacher has their little "thing" when getting the attention of the kiddos?  Some teachers do the clap & kiddos echo.  Others do the "Give me 5" and kiddos quiet down and hold up their hands?  Well, when I first started at my campus, teachers would say "listen" and kiddos would echo with "listen."  It grated on my nerves for awhile but I found it worked pretty well. 
So, I started saying "munchkins" and they would echo with "munchkins."  Then we'd say lollipop, or quack, or whatever silly thing popped into my head.  It was fun! 
Since this year is going to be the best year EVER, I'm thinking I need to switch it up a little after looking a little more into the whole brain teaching effect.  I think these attention grabbers will do the trick. 
This is a set of small cards meant to cut out, laminate, and stick on a ring for easy access.  Click the pic below to download your *free* copy.