Saturday, October 3, 2015

It's beginning to look like October!

Happy October!!  In Michigan, this week brought us from early September to mid-November!  The drop in temperature and bitter cold wind of the past few days has been a drastic change from mid-70's and sunshine!  It definitely feels like Fall has arrived....and just in time to turn the calendar to October!  It's beginning to look and feel like October in the classroom too!!

I make these spiders with my students every year.  I've gotten smart over the years and now always make sure to have a parent or two come in to help out.  These cute little guys require lots and lots of cutting, which is a challenge for some new-to-Kindergarten hands.  It's helpful to have another adult there to help.  My crew this year did a great job!  They turned out as darling as ever and they just make me happy! 

On Friday, we did a fun apple taste test.  Students tasted a slice of red, yellow, and green apple and then added their favorite to our apple poster....
 Later in the day, we analyzed our data and organized it into this graph so that I could tie in some of the concepts we've been practicing in math - graphing, comparing, more/less, greater/fewer.  Learning is especially fun when it's so delicious!!

 Each Friday, we do a directed drawing activity as a class.  Last week, we drew a pumpkin.  This week, my students got to paint their pumpkin drawings!  They turned out so beautiful!  I can't wait to pull out the watercolors again.  My students LOVED this calm, creative activity!

Caramel apples as a birthday treat from one of my sweet former students???  Yes, fall is here!!

Happy weekend!!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vinyl in the Classroom

Well, hi!!  

I'm so happy to be back on this little old blog!  I had such a busy and wonderful summer.  Posting here just hasn't been a top priority.  BUT...ready or started on Tuesday!  Our first week of 2015-2016 is in the books, and it was great!  My kids came home excited every day and woke up happy every morning.  My Kindie cuties are easing into a routine, and they worked hard this week!  I didn't lose my voice (for the first time in 13 years, I think), and I'm not exhausted this weekend like I was expecting to be.  All in all, it's so good!  Summer is amazing, but having a job that I LOVE is pretty amazing too.  I'm thankful!

I didn't get many photos to share of first week fun this week (not much time for a camera on days 1-4 of Kindergarten!), but I do want to share some of the fun ways I'm using vinyl in my classroom this year.  I had so much fun with my Silhouette this summer!

My teaching partner asked me to make this crayon organizer for her.  I used the same mini 5-drawer Sterilite that I used for my pencil drawers.  Didn't it turn out cute???  I hope it helps to keep those extra crayons nice and organized for her this year!

I don't have caddies on my student tables, but I do have two other tables in my classroom for small groups to meet and work at.  I like to keep caddies at those tables with pencils, crayons, glue, etc.  I decided to add some inspiration to the plain caddies!  
Since I teach Kindergarten, not many students are able to read these.  Of course I tell them what they say, but honestly....I love having positive words around to inspire ME throughout the day!  I think that a text-rich classroom is key for our little learners!

This was a bit spur of the moment.  This school bus clip art from Whimsy Clips was begging to be used! ;)  Nevermind that this cute vinyl is covered by my bus information sheet...  Still adorable!!

I've had these buckets on my desk for a couple of years.  They hold my markers, pens, scissors, etc.  I love that they are all uniform, but they needed a little something.  Aren't these Melonheadz kids the cutest???  I love the fun that they add to my desk!

At the last minute before school started, I decided to simplify my life a bit by labeling the drawers and cupboards that students have access to.  The blue words pop and make it easy for students to find what they need.

I also added labels for a choice time cupboard and the band-aid drawer. (PS about literally took me a decade of teaching to realize that band-aids are something kids can apply on their own.  Having to stop instruction to put a band-aid on totally disrupts the flow of a lesson!  In Kindergarten, kids need band-aids A LOT, and 9 times out of 10, it's not for anything that requires my assistance.  Teaching independence is a beautiful thing!!)

HOORAY for a successful back to school week!  Next week we dive into more instruction.  My kiddos are ready!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Monday Made It :: Pencil Drawers

It's a great Monday for a new Monday Made It!  I had so much fun with this one!  I love any excuse to pull out my Silhouette Cameo and I LOVE adding color to my classroom!

I've been using buckets for my sharp and dull pencils for the past few years.  You know, those adorable buckets you find in the dollar spot at Target?  The kind that I can't stop buying even though I already have more than I know what to do with?  Yes, those. ;)  

I wish I had a picture of what I used before, but I didn't want to drive to my classroom just for that.  My setup was very similar to this from Peace, Love, and Learning.  Even the same signs!
While they were cute, the problem I had with them was that they tipped over ALL. THE. TIME.  There were newly sharpened pencils and also dull, broken pencils on the floor every day.  My students were always good about picking them up, but it was messy and just became less and less practical with every tip of the buckets!  I needed something different for this year.  

I wish I could remember where I got this idea.  I know that I saw it somewhere before, but I can't remember where.  Anyway, I saw a teacher that used small Sterilite drawers for her sharp and dull pencils.  I loved that idea, so I set out looking for a drawer set for myself.

I actually was on the hunt for a 3-drawer set because that was the kind used in the photo I had seen, but the store I was at didn't have any.  They only had 5-drawer sets.  At first I thought that would be too many, but I quickly thought of other things I could use the drawers for to simplify my life at school.  I picked up a small 5-drawer Sterilite just like this one.

I started with this... 
...and then I got to work with my Cameo!  I designed and cut the words for each drawer.  I also added a star to each drawer just because they're cute!  I covered two words on the middle drawer because it gives away the name of my school, but you get the idea.
 The other drawers I added are things I have kept behind my desk before, but it will make my life easier for students to have access to them.
  The bright colors and practicality of this classroom addition just make me happy!
 Keeping pencils in these drawers will eliminate clutter and mess, and everything will still be just as easy for the students to access.  Win win.

Thanks to Tara for hosting Monday Made It!  Head on over to add your own item to the linky or to check out what other teachers have been up to!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Get to Know Me Linky

Hi there!

Just checking in quickly on this awesome Sunday because I stumbled upon this fun linky and found myself wanting to check out everyone's answers!  It was super quick and lots of fun!  Maybe you'll learn something new about me????

Thanks to The Tatooed Teacher for hosting!!

Head over to join the linky fun!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Must Have Monday Linky Party

The gals at Freebielicious are hosting a week of linky parties, starting with Must Have Monday.  I love checking out posts like these because I think it's so much fun to see what items other teachers love using in their classrooms.  I couldn't help but think of a few of my own Must Haves!  There are certainly things that make my life as a teacher easier or more fun, and I'm going to share some of them today!

I love love love Mr. Sketch scented markers.  I use them for everything, all the time in my classroom.  Seriously, just looking at this picture makes me smile!  Aren't they so pretty??!? :)  From anchor charts to classroom posters to marking papers to drawing on my students' hands (yes, I totally do that with these markers....they LOVE it!!), I have scented makers placed in several spots around my classroom.  Obviously they are not a necessity for teaching, but they make me happy.  And they make my students happy.  Win win! 
Then, last year, I discovered these...

Mr. Sketch Skinny Stix! So, so good.  I LOVE these for writing notes or making to-do lists or really ANYTHING that the bigger ones aren't the best for.  HAPPY!  They just make me happy. :)

A good scissors is a must in my classroom.  This is the pair that I love the most.  I NEED a good sharp scissors for cutting laminating.  Drives me crazy if my scissors doesn't work well!     
I keep my scissors far away from glue sticks and Go-gurt tubes.  If you're a primary teacher, I know you understand that! :)

Oh goodness, do I love my pocket dice.  They are SO versatile!  I find ways to use them in almost every round of math and literacy stations, which means that they are very rarely being stored away and are almost always in the hands of my students.  
These are the exact cubes that I have.  LOVE THEM.

Best ever.  They stack.  They close.  They look clean and organized and awesome.  Durable, sleek, and easy for the kids to open, close, and stack.  Best best best.  Love them so much.

I have two of these and use them both every day!  I LOVE this for the BIG visual it provides for my students.  It is so easy and clear for my Kindergarteners to read.  It's fabulous and I recommend it to other teachers often!  It's a bit of an investment for a timer, but it has been well worth every penny to me!  Love this timer!!  

This is most certainly a must-have for me in my classroom.  I love music -- it makes me happy, energizes me, calms me, centers me -- and I love incorporating it into my classroom for those very reasons.  Sometimes I play music for my students and sometimes I play music for ME.  I use Pandora to play everything from KidzBop to Disney Classics to Jim Brickman.  I absolutely love the energy and JOY that abounds in my classroom as everyone in the room sings along to familiar songs.  And I love the way my heart gets re-focused when I put on an instrumental hymns or worship station. One of the best pieces of teaching advice I've ever received is to play instrumental hymns or worship music in my classroom.  My students don't pick up on the tune, but I know the words and I use the songs to re-center my heart and find those moments of calm and peace, even with a class full of Kindergarteners!  I love to play calm music during our writing block or more upbeat music during snack time or morning work time.  I also love to have music playing when my students enter the room each morning.
I choose to pay for Pandora One so that we don't have to deal with commercials.  Totally worth it, in my opinion!

All this talk about must-haves makes me excited for another school year!  
After I enjoy the last weeks of summer, of course!! :)

Monday Made It :: Washi Tape Name Sticks

Happy Monday, friends.  I'm so happy to be back again today with another Monday Made It!  This one is super simple, but such a big part of each day in my classroom.

If you're like me, your name sticks are in a prominent location in your classroom.  They get used every single day, over and over again to call on students, put partners or groups together, etc.  They are a small, simple thing....but they make my life as a teacher so much easier!

I've tried several different types of name sticks over the years.  Most recently, I've painted one end....
...and used star stickers.
I LOVED the look of the spray-painted name sticks, but the reality of me painting sticks each summer just isn't going to happen.  Why?  I don't know.  I'm lazy in the summer.  Admitting that I'm too lazy to spend a few minutes spray-painting the ends of craft sticks is a little embarrassing, but it's the truth.  Grace, please.  

The star stickers didn't stay put.  Most of them fell off by the end of last year.  Also, I tried numbers on the sticks last year instead of names.  It was the first time I'd tried that, and I realized that I like having names on the sticks better.  Numbers would allow the sticks to be used from year to year, but made it less convenient to call on kids (especially early in the year when I was still trying to learn their numbers or when guest teachers were there).  I'll do names from now on.

Anyway, as I was brainstorming what I could use this year (planning to go back to the spray-paint), my stash of washi tape came to mind.  Washi tape is fabulous -- so easy to work with and so super cute!!  I had these three options in my collection that are wider - more the size of masking tape.  I knew that they would be a cute and easy solution, so I decided to give it a try for this year.
 I had these three colors to choose from.
 I thought that the orange didn't stand out enough against the wood of the stick.  I liked the pink and blue, so I tried them both in my name stick cup to see which I preferred.
This is the cup I keep my name sticks in.
I loved the way the pink tape looked, so I wrapped one end of 30 sticks. 
(Always make extras at the start of the year for those newbies that will come in throughout the year!)
 Pretty adorable in the cup, huh???
My student names will go on one end once my class list is finalized.

And that's that!  Easy (simple, actually), but they will be used SO MUCH this year!

Thanks to Tara for hosting this fun linky each week.  I love being inspired by all of the other teachers that link up.