Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year, New Tips

Happy, Happy New Year! 2016 was a crazy year and ended on a very positive note. Cheers to 2017 and what this new year can bring.

Everyone hears the whole New Year, New Me saga, but it is a great time to start something new. I was terrible about blogging last year and I want to make it a point to blog and get my thoughts out there more often. My thoughts might be small and short at times, but it doesn't hurt to share. Sadly, before we know it we will be writing/reading end of school year posts and then Back to School posts. Time flies and we should document the great (and maybe not so great) times we have. I was writing over at the Kinder Tribe blog and I thought I'd share my ideas on organization to get the second half of the school year ready.

Organization can mean a number of things for you, your teaching BFF next door/across the hall, or the loud voiced teacher that needs to close her door because she gets so into her read-alouds (maybe that's just me?? LOL). To me organization is something huge and/or something tiny. Whether you're cleaning off a few papers on your reading group table from September (hey, no judgement) or completely revamping your classroom library so it makes sense for you and your kids...IT WORKS and you can make it happen.

Now, I'm still on Christmas Break for another week few days (where did the time go?! #Denial) and I cannot deny that thinking about school has been the last thing on my mind. I haven't touched my school bag and I probably have the start of some dust bunnies on my beautiful Erin Condren planner, but that's what break is for, right? I scroll through Instagram and I see so many teachers working on so many amazing things to get themselves ready to go for the second half of the year, which gets my wheels turning. Yes, they might only be turning between shopping trips and SVU episodes, but they're still turning.

A very simple organization tip that I do at the end of Christmas Break is get the new school supplies out of my tubs and ready for the kids to come back to. They do not get all new supplies, but they will get new crayons, glue sticks, and pencils/erasers. I KNOW I am not the only one whose kids end up with roughly 11 half-broken (possibly half-eaten) crayons by Christmas. I mean, half of my kids haven't seen their black crayon since about Halloween...possibly before then. During Back to School time, I purchased these crayon boxes at Walmart for $1.00 per box (link is not through Walmart).

These have been LIFE SAVING! They fit 24 crayons perfectly and they fit so well in my supply caddies for my table groups. I use the standard supply caddies from Really Good Stuff.

To make my life (and their life) a little easier, I realized the 2"x4" shipping labels fit PERFECTLY on the boxes. 
Add some clipart and a few cute fonts and VOILA, they're ready to go. There's nothing quite like the smell and look of fresh out of the box Crayola Crayons. 

What do you like to do to get organized?

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Math & Reading Workshop Goodies from Oriental Trading

Hey, friends!

When Oriental Trading asked if they could send me some goodies, I couldn't believe what I was reading.

First response: Seriously?! Oriental Trading has been the ultimate staple for party supplies and favors for my whole life!

Second response: YES, ABSOLUTELY! Where do I start?

When they said I could pick out whatever I wanted to review, I was in awe. How does one person choose just a few favorite things. I took a step back and looked at my math workshop and reading workshop centers to see exactly what my students could benefit from the most.

In math we were needing some quick and easy number recognition tools. Now, at the beginning of the year subitizing is crucial for number sense. My go-to subitizing tool is dice. I love that these number recognition dice have a ton of different ways to represent numbers and I love that it shows that to the kids early on. They have to see that number 4 is not always "Down and across and down once more...that's the way you make a 4"; that they see it as tally marks and dots and a number word. These are so beneficial because it goes right along with making daily number anchor charts at the beginning of the year

I was also looking for something very easy to use with my students throughout the year that would allow them to follow the different paths of the numbers 0-20. I feel like kids get numerals 0-9 fairly easily (obviously, there's always the exception), but 10-20 gets tricky--hence the tricky teens. The sensory numbers are perfect for those tactile learners who need some extra guided practice in small group or during independent centers.

In reading we use the Daily 5 model, so Word Work was my very first thought when looking to reading tools. We have alphabet letters and more alphabet letters, but I wanted something different to switch up the normal routine. Now, we haven't hit the point of the year where we have completely built-up our Word Work stamina, so we haven't worked with those tools, but here's what I received and here's my very simple plan with the Word Work tools.

When I saw the awesome alphabet bean bag letters, I knew I had to have those. They will be perfect for letter recognition, tossing at beginning and ending sound pictures, hiding them around the room as a scoot game...There are just so many possibilities.

Just like math, I was looking something for letter recognition for my tactile learners. Now, I have some kinder babies who do not know any letters and then some that are ready to soar onto letter sounds, but coming up with more letter ID practices can be challenging and I cannot wait to use sensory letters!

One word: stampers. I have been DYING to buy stampers for so long now. Stampers are something that I have daydreamed during my prep about and how amazing they would be for my kinders during Word Work. Of course when I saw these I had to have the Uppercase and Lowercase Stampers. When I said I'd daydream of stampers, I'd also have nightmares about stampers in my classroom. The thought of messy fingers from the stampers touching their clothes, the classroom, and heaven help us, other kids, I thought I was gonna just move onto the next idea. NEWS FLASH, y'all...These stampers have a plastic hand guard AND a HANDLE. (Cue the angelic singing) No need to continue thinking, put them in your cart...right now! :)

The last amazing tool I snagged from Oriental Trading were slinkies. Confession: Slinkies everyday during reading groups. I use them as a quick warm-up activity when we look at our new words in our new books or on their lists. I put slinkies in their reading take-home bags. I put slinkies at my back table. They're everywhere and the kids heart-eyes, L-O-V-E these things. These are the perfect segmenting tools to use when sounding out words in our guided reading books or just new-to-them words in general. I don't know what it is about those slinkies that makes the phonics lesson world go 'round in their eyes? Wait, who am I kidding...It's a toy, so of course they're going to love it! :)

The last thing I'd like to tell you about is the AMAZING wish list feature they have. You create your own wish list and this is a great paperless way to share with your PTO or parents exactly what you need for your classroom. I just emptied my own wishlist and I am in the process of creating another one! Head over to Oriental Trading to set your own wishlist up right now!

What items will you add to your wishlist?

Monday, May 2, 2016

I'm Currently...May 2016

This happens every year. It's May. I look at my blog and think HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?! I haven't blogged since January, y'all. I have a handful of "draft" posts. They're a hot mess and either have paragraphs of old news or one sentence. Yes, one sentence. (Why even save that as a draft?! #EyeRoll) When I saw that Farley was having her LAST currently, I knew I had to join the other fabulous bloggers and help her go out with a bang. :) These posts are so fun to read and also so fun to do. Maybe my currently post can help explain why I have been so busy and MIA. Maybe my blog should be the MIA (every few months) Teacher Blogger! Haha!

Here is my currently:

Listening: NOTHING. I don't know about you guys, but my class' volume goes from nada to 100 in about 2 seconds these past few weeks. When I come home, I literally sit in silence for a good bit of time before I am ready for noise again. Haha!

Loving: THIS is the reason I have been so crazy-busy. I am in the process of buying a house and it is the craziest, most drawn-out process of my life. I was not on the lookout for houses and was just being nosey when I went to look at this house. I loved the character and charm and was sold as soon as I saw it. I was so fortunate to live at home through college as I lived within driving distance to campus, so this is my first time going through this process. I have been crazy-busy spending time looking at the house, signing documents, signing more documents, getting carpal tunnel, and then signing some more. I honestly understand what my kinders feel like when they don't understand because I do not always understand all this fancy lingo they use when buying a house. Closing is the last day of school. I'm crazy, I know.

Thinking: (See last paragraph! Haha) On top of all of this, we have been reassessing the Observation Survey the kids took at the beginning of the year and it is a process, let me tell you! It is an AMAZING resource, but it can be very lengthy. 

Wanting: Northeast Indiana has not been kind to us this spring. We get a little taste of warm weather and then BAM! You're bringing the winter coat out again for recess. Just give us nice weather. We get out so early this year (May 20th!!!!) and I am definitely banking on some nice pool days in my future.  :)

Needing: Two words: Fountain. Pop. #NuffSaid

Truth: Haven't done it. Obviously I have things gathered, prepped, and ready for the kids, but I haven't take the time to write it down. Terrible decision on my part, but I haven't done much besides test the kids. I did take the time to write my plans! :) #GoMe 

What are you CURRENTLY up to? :)