Monday, August 25, 2014

Second First Day of School a teacher!

It wasn't any less exciting today, but it was definitely a smoother day than my first first day of school as a teacher, which was only one short year ago. I knew what to expect and I actually KNEW my schedule! You know how crucial that is. I wasn't constantly looking at the clock. I was focused on my students and didn't have to worry about all of those other first-year-teacher concerns.

It was a fun, laid back day! I got to school early and sipped my coffee and prayed over my room as I waited for my kiddos. I also posted this picture to Instagram:

Sorry for the blurriness! It's an iPhone photo. :)

Our day basically consisted of learning procedures and rules as well as a building tour and one or two (or three) fun activities! It was all very exciting! I LOVE being the very first teacher these sweet children have. If you are a kindergarten teacher, you know what I mean! It is the sweetest thing to be able to be the first one to foster a love for learning in each child. There is nothing else like it.

Onto my cute story of the day...
We pick up our students in front of the school the first several days as the buses drop off the children. I picked up all eight of my kids (we only have 1/3 of our class for the first three days) and we got back to our room. As I was talking to get their attention an hour after picking them up from out front after building tour, bathroom break, and going over classroom rules, I said something like, "All eyes and ears on Mrs. B." One of the girls sitting near me suddenly had bright, wide eyes and with excitement she said, "OH! YOU ARE MY TEACHER?!" I had to giggle!!! She had a huge lightbulb moment! It was so adorable :) Poor thing was oh, so confused for the first hour of her first day of school! She had no idea that I was indeed her teacher!

If you have any cute kindergarten ah-ha moments, please share in the comments! I love to hear those sweet stories! I will be back this week to share my room through pictures!
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Monday, August 4, 2014

Monday Made It: We are Family!

Are you singing that song now?!

We are family
I got all my sisters with me
We are family
Get up everybody and sing!

We definitely become like family with our littles throughout the year, don't we?! I know from the moment I had my first class last year, I wanted to take care of them and help them grow and learn and be the best they could be! I definitely felt a sense of family with them. I called them my kids all the time! And actually, I would sometimes call them my babies! ;) Some of them thought that was oh, so funny. But they were truly just my little kinderbabies. Ha!

So anyways, we feel like a family with our kiddos that's why when I saw this saying on a wall decal, I just had to get it for my classroom...

"In this family
we do encouragement,
we do fun,
we do laugh,
we do our best,
we do trust,
we do honesty,
we do mistakes,
we do forgiveness,
we do love."

Because we DO all those things throughout the year, am I right?!

I didn't want to stick the wall decal to my actual wall, since there is no guarantee that I will be in the same room year after year. I wanted to place it on something that I could take with me if I ever move rooms.

I thought a picture frame would be great, and then I found a canvas! Not just any old canvas, but a canvas made out of BURLAP. Now I don't know about you, but I *really* like burlap! I had to get it.. it was perfect!

So here is what I did:

I laid out my materials. 

I measured out my decal, so I knew where to place it.

I cut the decal in half, so the length would fit on the canvas.

I placed the decal on the canvas. It was a repositional sticker. So when I made the mistake of placing it too low on the canvas, it came up very easy and I was able to reposition it with absolutely no problem.

It truly was just that simple. I love it and I can't wait to hang it in my classroom. 

This would even be an easy and inexpensive teacher gift at any point throughout the year. Hobby Lobby has many different wall decals to choose from ranging from family quotes, to pictures, to scripture. If you use this idea, let me know. I would love to see what you come up with!

I'm now off to check out the other fabulous blogs that have linked up with 

Oh, and just in case you hadn't heard, there is a huge Back to School sale going on at Teachers Pay Teachers! My store as well as many other stores are offering upto 28% off your purchases!

Shop on!!
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

To Infinity and Beyond!!

No, I'm not talking about Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. I'm talking about how your students could potentially write this year! They could write...

Let me fill you in.

I just want to let you know that this was MINIMAL prep for me as the teacher! All I had to do was decide which prompts I wanted my students to use, print and hole punch the pages, and put them in a three-ring binder.

Each child gets his/her own binder. Here is an example of what the journal pages look like:

It looks like any other journal page, right? 

Not quite... This next photo shows Superhero Writing in the process and it has all of the components of great kindergarten writing!

1. Students write their name (I know... that one is pretty obvious.)

2. Students write the digital date. I love it when I can incorporate a little bit of calendar into our daily activities!

3. Students self-evaluate. Students can color in THEIR OWN checkmarks to evaluate their work against the Superhero Writing rubric. Each check mark colored signals a different component of writing that they have mastered! By the end of the year, students are able to see how much they have progressed, or in kindergarten language, how much smarter their brains are!

4. Students use a bookmark. I also included a Post-it as a book-mark, so I do not have to try and explain every week exactly what they page looks like that they should flip to. All the students need to do when they complete a journal page is gently remove the Post-it and stick it on the very next page! Voila! 

My favorite part of this whole resource is the Superhero Spacers to help the kiddos learn to use the correct amount of spacing between words...
They are shaped like a superhero flying to the rescue. I talked about them briefly here.

I also love it that students can get their own version of the Superhero Writing rubric. We have a community container for our student rubrics. I know you can relate all too well:
This scenario often plays out in our classroom....

"Mrs. B!!!!!!!!!! SOMEONE STOLE MY (insert school supply here)!"

Community containers alleviate that issue just a tad.

Here is the student version of the Superhero Writing Rubric, which is a shorthand version of our classroom rubric:

I like it that the students can just look at the picture cues and discern if they are including each component of the rubric in their writing...

We Can Write to Infinity and Beyond has oh, so many journal pages for students to complete. There is at least one journal page per week of the year. The journal pages contain a themed-picture related to the month.

Do you want your students to be a Superhero Writer?
Head on over here to get yours!

It will be FREE for the first 48 hours! Please leave feedback!
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Print.Cut.Trace. Flashcards

How do you get your students to learn high-frequency words? 
I imagine you use repetition in reading and writing. I do the same!

In addition to the repetition of reading the words, my students use flashcards that they make to help learn and remember those sometimes tricky words that just don't follow the rules of phonics. 

Have you ever tried to explain to a five year old why a certain phonics rule does not actually apply to a word? Bless their heart! SO difficult to understand. I usually just explain that the people who created our language made some words trickier to make our brains smarter and to make a us think harder...

If you have a better explanation, which I am sure you do, seriously let me know!

To include repetition in our high-frequency word learning process, we make these flashcards:

My littles LOVE making these flashcards because they are so simple to complete.

Easy task = boosted ego

So, here is what we do...

Step 1: I print off enough of our cover pages on white cardstock for our entire class.

Step 2: I cut apart each flashcard on the smaller dotted line.

Step 3: This is where the students get to work! They use their scissors and get to work exercising their fine motor skills while cutting out the dotted rectangular flashcard.

Step 4: Student writes his/her name on the flashcard and personalizes it using crayons. 

Step 5: I hole punch the flashcard and now the cover is complete!

Step 6: When I introduce the high-frequency word for the week, I complete step 1-2 above and print off the words we are learning that week. 

Step 7: Students cut out their flashcard on the dotted line, and then they trace the word.

Step 8: Attach the flash cards to the word ring.

Step 9: Practice, practice, practice! I send these home with my Baggy Books each week.

What I love about these super simple flashcards is that the kids are working their fine-motor skills by cutting out the flashcards and they are tracing the word to practice making the correct formation of each letter within the high-frequency word.

If you are interested in getting your own set,
I have a two kindergarten versions, and one first grade and second grade version (in the making).

We use Reading Street for our reading curriculum, and that is the version I use in my classroom.
You can get that here!

I also have a Print.Cut.Trace. Kindergarten Dolch flashcard set here.

Print.Cut.Trace. First Grade Dolch flashcard set (COMING SOON!)

Print.Cut.Trace. First Grade Dolch flashcard set (COMING SOON!)

Check it out and let me know what you think!
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Where, Oh Where, Has My Summer Break Gone?

Exactly... I know you are thinking it. Where is summer break?! We are going back a bit later this year toward the end of August, but I just can't get over that in one month and two days I will have my sweet, new littles. That means I need to start working on school stuff... and soon!

I have not bought anything new for my classroom the entire summer until now.

Can I just take a moment and say how much I like online shopping?  I double like being able to shop in my jammies! Here's what my sweet, little FedEx lady dropped off on my door step today:

Item Number One:

I've had a Scotch Thermal Laminator for four years now, and I use it all the time, which is somehow a complete understatement. I have always bought the Scotch brand laminating pouches, but these pictured above are the... generic.

Did you see that? Yep. It's true. I bought the generic pouches. Has anyone else tried them?

I've not yet, but I am hoping they are just as good as the Scotch brand. I just had to try them out since they are almost half the price! I just couldn't pass that up. I will, however, pass on how well they work when I try them out next week!

Item Number Two:

Aren't these adorable?! They are little rubber superhero toys, but of course I won't use them as toys. Instead I'm using them as writing spacers! I got these to use with my writing resource I cannot wait to finish up. I've been working on it since May, but I'm just now completing all of the odds and ends. I will share soon, but until then, this is just a peek into my recent project that I can't wait to share!

Item Number Three:

This made my teacher heart super happy. I have her life planner, and I like it, but her teacher planner is spectacular! I cannot wait to fill out all of the fun plans that I have in store for my littles this year!

I am linking up today with Miss DeCarbo at Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday!

I shared this gem on Instagram today...

Let's try to encourage one another instead of tearing each other down. It's so easy to get discouraged on our own little journey, but if we lift one another up and focus on each other's strengths, we can do great things.

In the comments below, tell me about the things you have created or purchased for your upcoming school year AND if you wanna get real deep, tell me about how you like to encourage those around you!

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Friday, July 4, 2014

FIRST Five for Friday

As I talked about earlier this week, this is my first week off from school and to say it has been amazing would be an understatement. There is just something about summer break that words cannot explain. Am I right?! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for my FIRST Five for Friday! What a fun idea. :)

I've done some DIY projects this week. Mainly the updates have been with spray paint updating what I already have. So far I've updated this coffee table. I painted the above table. It used to be a light brown table and now it is a gray-ish color. The above lamp used to be brown. And I also transformed a chair which is not pictured. It's incredible how you can transform things that are already in your home. Before my motivation dies, I hope to paint a room in my home.

#icannotputdownthisbook. But really, all hash-tagging aside, it is just so good. Francine Rivers is one of my favorite authors, and this book is such a great story about a girl's journey through life. If you want a great summer read, please go get this! Really.... go now...

Although it's been fun and games this week, I did manage to get some "work" done for next year! Kindergarten teachers, do you send out letters to your incoming kinderbabies? At our school, we do. We send home a letter to the parents explaining our phase-in schedule, a letter to the students, a school supply list, and then a schedule of our phase-in start. It is so fun to put the letters together and think about my incoming students. Something I love to do is pray over each child's name as I am filling the envelopes. As much as I love summer, I am excited for this next school year!

I am also sending home another letter to my incoming students. This one is full of pencil-paper/ cut-paste activities. I'm hoping that it gets them super excited for school. I got these perfect worksheets from Miss Kindergarten. You can get her adorable resource here. It was just what I wanted to send to my incoming students, and all the work was done for me! Seriously, it is worth every penny! I'll even be able to use these printables early on in the school year.
 Thanks, Miss Kindergarten! 

via Liz America's Host
And lastly, Happy Independence Day! 
Enjoy your long weekend. 

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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Summer Projects

Since this is my third day of summer break, I decided to get down with my bad self and...

do a DIY project!

Woo hoo! I was super excited with how it turned out. For $30 from Salvation Army, I found an old beat up coffee table that had scuffs, stains, and a wobbly leg plus two matching end tables. I thought this was a great deal! I am not sure what I will do with the extra tables for now, but I brought the coffee table home and used some elbow grease to fix it up. It went from bland to shabaam!

I am linking up with Christina from Sugar and Spice for "Wordless Wednesday" and I have already used too many words, so I will leave you with this picture that sums up my day...

What DIY projects have you done on break? Share your projects in the comments below!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy July!

I am linking up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade with what I am currently doing! Do some blog hopping to check out what others are doing on this fine breezy, summer July day.

Happy July, friends!! XO

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Monday, June 30, 2014

Surfin' Through Summer School

My lanta! Summer school has come to an end, and my SUMMER has officially begun! Although summer school was a blast and we had so much fun, I am thankful to have a break to get recharged! Does anyone else feel this way? Our summer school program is offered for three weeks in June and it is for kindergarten through fifth grade. Since I teach kinders throughout the school year, I taught the them in summer school, too.

I took pictures throughout our entire summer school. We had so many fun activities, but I wanted to save them all until the end to share. Here is our summer school summed up in a couple pictures...

We became scientists and used our senses to explore lima beans. Oh boy, did the kiddos have fun using magnifying glasses to help us better see the smaller features of the lima beans.

You May Be an Elementary School Teacher if...
You bring out the magnifying glasses and the students start to squeal! 

But seriously, I loved how excited they were to explore. I got these adorable observation logs from Fran Kramer with Kindergarten Crayons! Check out her product, because the kids ADORED tracking the lima bean growth! Everyday the first thing they would ask was, "DID MY BEAN GROW?!" Their eagerness to become scientists everyday was precious.

Every Friday the kindergarten and first graders had a fun art time. As an avid "pinner", I happened upon a pin that made me thrilled for our Friday Art Day! The original site can be found here. I cannot take credit for this cool (literally) activity, so please check out the link. All you will need to do is:

  1. Fill an ice cube tray with water.
  2. Fill each cubed section with a drop (or two) of food coloring. 
  3. Place a popsicle stick in the colored water.
  4. Freeze for several hours or overnight.
  5. When you're ready to have fun, grab some white cardstock, pop the cubes out, and PAINT away!
The water melts and it makes a pastel masterpiece that the kids were anxious to show off to the older students. Our kindergarteners and first graders both thought this activity was a fun alternative to the traditional water colors or finger-painting. Try it out even at home while your kids are home for summer break!  (If someone tries this at home, please try kool-aid instead of the food coloring, and let me know how it works!!)

Yet ANOTHER activity, that these kiddos went nuts over was this alphabet memory match! I cannot take total ownership over these cards, because I did not create them, but you can get them for FREE here from Stephanie Bosh! Stephanie is a kindergarten teacher at my school. This year she has become a mentor for me because she not only is so excited to teach and creates a huge love for learning in her students, but she is so patient when explaining all those new things a new teacher must know. Plus she has SO many great things she does in her classroom. Seriously, please check her out!

I printed these cards on different colors of cardstock. Since a capital and lowercase letter are one page, they will be the same color, which make them easier to match. Lay them all out face down on your carpet, and the kiddos try to search for a matching capital and lowercase letter. They MUST say each letter they flip over to reinforce their letter recognition. After they were masters at their letter recognition, I switched it up just a *smidge* and instead of recognizing the letter name, they had to recognize and say the SOUND. It was just enough of a challenge to keep them coming back for more. We played this game e.v.e.r.y.d.a.y. I am so thankful these sweet babes were anxious to play a LEARNING game!

Every day we did word work and writing and these little ones needed some help with writing, so I made sure to practice this everyday. They were AWESOME writers at the end! We used my Writing Picture Prompts to help brainstorm ideas. The kids thought these were pretty fun and their sentences were so creative! We also had some summer word fun with my Summer Shenanigans: Write the Room. And we built CVC words! These kids were such hard workers, I was so proud of their growth and progress. (These are finally activities that I can take credit for...)

On the last day, our amazing Summer School Director, planned a fun schedule for the kids. Each of the grade levels rotated to another grade-level teacher for stations. It was a blast! The teachers were in charge of their own activity.
We went on a Letter Hunt! 
Guys, I was so pleased that grades kindergarten through fifth enjoyed this same activity. Although I created this for "summer" school, you could use it at any point throughout the year, especially if you live in warmer climates. This is easily adaptable for indoor use, but I wanted these kids to enjoy the sunshine while learning.

They charged toward the letters sprawled out on the school yard and searched and found the picture that started with the same letter on their checklist. The kindergarten and first grade students probably enjoyed it the most and wanted to do more.

What is everyone doing on their summer break? This girl needs some fun ideas!

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