Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Word Resolution

I'm big on New Year's Resolutions.  Super big.  I start thinking about my resolutions before Christmas even starts.  So I'm linking up with Primary Powers to give you my one word resolution!

I seriously have like 15 resolutions, but they all revolve around time.  I think time is my most important resource, and many days I spend that time reading about other people's lives on facebook or looking at their lives on instagram.  Don't get me wrong, both of these can be awesome ways to connect with others, but is that really the best way I can use my time?  Shoot no.

So I'm spending my time doing more this year for improve my life and stop reading about the lives of other people.

More time with the people that matter
More time reading my Bible
More time forming relationships with my kids
More time blogging
More time exercising
More time doing things I love

What's your one word resolution?  Feel free to link up or comment below!  Have a magical start to 2015!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween: How to Trick your Tattletales for a Treat

Happy Halloween...or the craziest day of the school year.  Either one.

I was Max today from Where the Wild Things Are.  Most kids thought I was a "Bunny King."  But it's amazing how much better students listen when you act like a bossy 6 year old in a funny outfit.  Maybe I'll wear fuzzy slippers and a tall crown everyday.

Besides dressing up like a Bunny King, the best thing I've done in the past month was come up with a Tattle Meter.  It's like the famed Tattle Monster, but just a little more advanced.

I've never used a Tattle Monster before, mainly because I'm too lazy to decorate a Kleenex box, but I imagine my kids would think it was silly and make fun of the idea of talking to a Kleenex box.

Tattle Meters are serious business.  Here's the deal:

1. I explained Tattle vs. Telling in my classroom.
tattle (v) [tat-tle] : 
1. When someone is not getting hurt. 
2. If someone steps on your foot, bumps into you, says something rude, etc. let them know the problem: i.e. "You stepped on my foot," "That hurt my feelings." If the other person apologizes, there is usually no need to tattle.  If the other person refuses to apologize see telling.

telling (v) [tel-ing] :
1. When someone is hurt, getting hurt, or could get hurt. 
2. When someone does not apologize for their actions after you let them know it hurt you or your feelings.

There are always gray areas in every tattling vs. telling speech like when someone says a bad word or when two children are constantly having the "That Hurt My Feelings" Talk.  My students have picked up on it pretty quickly, though, and it seems to be going well.

2. I set a goal.
Right now our goal is Less than 10 Tattles in a Week = Cookies for the Class!

3. I implement it.
Every time I hear a tattle, I go to the board and fill in up to the next number.  I use a dry erase marker on my laminated meter so we can restart each week. 

Last week: We hit ten tattles on Wednesday. :(

This week: I ran around like a chicken with my head cut off this morning because I forgot to bake my AWESOME class cookies!  Eight tattles ALL week, ladies and gents!  8!

I hear so many problems getting resolved from one student to another.  Students will come up to me often and start to tell me a tattle but then they'll quickly remember, cover their mouth, and walk away.

We aren't absolutely great at conflict resolution in class, but we're getting there.  Once we get the tattles down consistently, we'll work on making better apologies instead of, "Sorry."  Baby steps.

Anyhow, that's enough talk for a Friday night.  Here's some Tattle Meters for you to have for free!  Happy Halloween!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Reading Center Groups

Oh, hello there!  It's been what...a month since I blogged last?  Gee willies.  I'm terrible.

In other news - Reading Centers.  Reading centers are AWESOME!!  But they're a whole ton of work.  Really.  You can find me just about every Sunday night slaving away over laminating and cutting up cutesy little activities for the following week.  But that's not what I'm posting about today.  I'm writing about this:

How I organize my groups for centers.

I learned this from an awesome teacher I student taught with (thanks, Mrs. Lee! :)).  I've seen lots of teachers do this different ways, but this way works BEST for me.  I usually have one student of each reading ability level at each group (green, yellow, and blue).  This way, I call back one color (green for example), and the yellows and blues are working together at centers.

First, this cuts down on chit chat.  Every teacher knows the more students you have in a center, the more talking and misbehaving is going to happen.  Second, this makes sure I (generally) don't have two kids who have no clue what they're doing at a center.  If my low students need help reading directions or completing an activity, they always have a middle or high student there to help them.

It's not always fool proof, but it works for me!

Now, we are doing some AWESOME things in Science this week, so hopefully I'll have something much more interesting to blog about soon!  Thanks for hanging with me!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

My Simply Magical Classroom

Oh my goodness!  I forgot how hectic the beginning of the school year was!  We started school...oh about...a month ago?  And I'm FINALLY getting this posted!  Whew.  I'm still not done with my room - it's a work in progress. :)  But here's what the Simply Magical Classroom looks like for now!

Here's my Pinterest inspired UP bulletin board.  I couldn't find one exactly like what I had imagined, so I improvised. 
Here's my door!  I love Krista Wallden's work at Creative Clips Graphics.  Almost everything I make has something in it from her - like these chevron papers.  Hopefully I'll have these pennant banners on TPT soon for you!
Here's my behavior chart in action!  I give tickets according to what color the students are on at the end of the day.  One for yellow, two for orange, and three for red.  The kids LOVE it!  You can snatch up my Behavior Chart here.
Here's our daily schedule - again with Krista's papers!
ALL year long last year I tried to think of a way to hide our closet.  I tried everything imaginable to get these curtains to stay up.  My mom walked in this summer and within 5 minutes, she came up with this marvelous solution - bike hangers and a PVC pipe.  She's a genius.
Remember when I made those bookshelves this summer?  Here they are in action!  With an amazing library organizing system from Maria Monore at Kinder-Craze!

Here's the only Reading Centers organization chart that I think will ever work for me.  I'll post more on this later. :)
My Birthday Chart with adorable cupcakes by...guess who!  Krista again! And my Teacher's Pet puppy - the best (and simplest) Classroom Jobs Chart imaginable created by A Teeny Tiny Teacher.
And last, but not least, my hanging lanterns.  It's hard to describe how much this adds to my classroom.  I can't even take a good picture to describe it.  If you are allowed to hang things in your classroom, DO!  It makes life so much happier!

I still have A LOT more work to do to get my classroom where I want it.  But just like learning, it's a work in progress the whole year through. :)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back to School Sale

If you buy many things on TPT, I'd say you've heard about the Back to School Sale by now.  For the sellers who participate, many of their products will be the lowest they will ever be on sale.  And I really, really like sales.  So I'm giving you a warning here of insider ready?  I'm participating in the sale.  Woohoo!  Exciting, right? Get those products wishlisted and ready because the sale is Aug 4-5!

Here's a cute little graphic to get you excited.  If you're having your own sale, feel free to borrow for your own site!

And I created a banner just the right size for your TPT store.

Have fun shopping!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happy (Freebie) Friday!

It's Freebie Friday again!  I love having ways to connect to my students outside of school - even before they're my students.  That's why I created postcards to send to my students right before school begins.  Just handwriting them a short note that tells them how happy you are to be their teacher will get them pumped up to come back and learn!  I can remember one summer that a teacher of mine wrote me a postcard and sent it in the mail.  I was SO excited to get mail.  Guess what - kids today still get SO excited when they get mail!

Even if you don't get your class roll early, you can send your students a note just after school begins.  It'll still create the same excitement for learning even if they receive it after they're in your classroom!

These postcards are created for grades PreK-5.  Just click on the picture and snatch them up!  


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

New School Year, New Bookshelves

So do you remember those bookshelves I got at yard sales in this post?  They looked like this:

They were cheap and in good shape, but they weren't really appealing for a first grade classroom.  And they didn't match.  So to make them beautiful, we looked on Pinterest to see how to paint laminate.  For the record, Pinterest isn't always a completely reliable source...  Pinterest told us to paint them with primer (which took about 4-5 coats just to make it look consistently white) and then use colored paint.  The primer was still coming off through the paint, but overall it looked pretty good.  It took me, my mother, and my mother-in-law about 11 hours to do these shelves.  If it hadn't been for them, I would have spent DAYS painting.  This year we're going to have a big long discussion in my classroom about how to be gentle with the bookshelves - because I am NOT painting laminate again.

Here they are!  We used painters tape and Frog Tape to get the different designs.

And for the record, the princess shelf in the picture from the yard sales is staying just the way it is.  I just don't have the heart to paint over Belle and Cinderella - nor the energy.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Freebie Friday!

Get some superhero writers in your class with this freebie!  This freebie includes posters to remind your students of some of the most important pieces they need for their writing - from punctuation to writing formation.  This resource also includes posters for POW + TIDE, which is a great tool to use for responding to text through writing.  Check it out, print it out, and put it up!
 Click the picture below
Superhero Writing Posters

Sunday, July 6, 2014

She's a Beauty!

I am SUPER excited about this!! Just look at this fantastic looking blog right here!  Isn't it absolutely lovely?  Yes? I think so, too.  I could never ever do anything this amazing, but Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs is spectacular.  She seriously made all of my dreams come true in this blog design.  If you're looking for someone to make your blog look fantastic, check her out!
A Bird in Hand Designs

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Oh Snap!

Check this out!  You can go visit some awesome teachers at Blog Hoppin' and have a chance to win a Canon Rebel!  Isn't that just lovely?  I mean look at this thing:

I want it, and I'm pretty sure you probably do too!  You just complete their scavenger hunt by taking pictures of certain things and putting those pictures on instagram!  Sound like fun?  Yes it does! Check them out and find all of the more detailed instructions here: Blog Hoppin'.

While you're using your instagram and completing their scavenger hunt, you can just go ahead and follow me too by clicking here! 

Friday, June 27, 2014

(Double) Freebie Friday!

In celebration of Friday, here's a featured freebie of mine for you!  Excuse the not so cute design...I was still learning how to make products.  No matter how it looks though, I love how this product works.

I get really tired of sorting games being super simple.  Students can sort words that start with the blend "tr", but I never know if they're actually reading it, or just looking at the "tr" and putting it in the correct pile.  In a search to make an accurate assessment, I created this.  On this sheet, students have to look at the picture and say what it is.  Then they identify the blend they are saying and cut and paste it in the box.  For further connection, they can write the word on the handwriting lines.

I use the first sheet for beginning blends, and the second for ending blends.  This really helps me see who has it and who needs some more help.

For a double freebie, check out this great set of clip art!  It's by Krista Wallden at Creative Clips Graphics - my absolute favorite!  She's trying to reach a feedback goal, so don't forget to leave her some awesome compliments if you download it!

Have a magical year!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Why I love Yard Sales!

Some women have a thing for shoes.  Not me.  Others have a love for buying new clothes.  No, thank you.  What I love...well, actually there's two things: food and good deals.  There's no way to my heart quite like food, but today I'm going to focus on the "good deals" section of my love.

I think every classroom teacher loves good deals, because having a classroom is pricey!  There's books to buy, bulletin boards to create, and little details down to the kleenex boxes that are sure to run out right in cold season.

This is exactly why I love yard sales.  I can get SO many things for my little ones to use for at least half the price.  So far this summer, I've went "yard sale-ing" three days.  Just take a gander at this loot.

I have 2 closing cabinets, 3 shelves, 1 rack (with Disney princesses!), and a hot pink bean bag (not shown in picture).  Regularly, this would have cost at least $100 - if not more.  I know I bought a shelf this year like those on top for $20 by itself.  Ready to guess how much all of this was...c'mon guess.  Twenty-five bucks.  So for $25, I now have pretty much my entire reading center for this upcoming year.  With a little bit of repainting, these will fit right into my classroom.

So teachers out there, take advantage of this summer!  Go hit yard sales at least once every couple weeks.  Find them in the newspaper, look on Craigslist, or my favorite - just go out and follow the signs.  Your classroom will look fabulous and you'll have more money to spend on those shoes, clothes, or in my case - food.