Thursday, September 18, 2014

Class book ideas

We LOVE class books in my Kindergarten room.  We make several every year.  I especially love making them at the start of the year and sending them home for my students to read with their parents.  I know how curious parents are at the beginning of each school year.  They are anxious to know the other children that their kiddos are spending their days with.  Because of this, I always make a couple books with student photos in them.  I get great feedback from parents about these!  And, of course, the kids LOVE anything with their photo on it!!

To send the books home, I just put them in a gallon-size ziploc bag.  Typically, I add a label to the front asking that the books are returned the next day.  When I went to print my labels last week, I realized that I was out of the size I needed.  Sharpie to the rescue!  Not quite as cute, but it does the job. :)
(Oh, and please don't mind the glare in every picture in this post.  Laminated pages = glare.  I tried to avoid it, but couldn't.  Sorry!)

 I got the idea for this class book from my awesome teaching partner.  My students LOVE this book, and as soon as it's been to every home and finds it's spot in our reading corner, it gets read every single day.
 It follows the repetitive pattern of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear".
This is the first page.
 The middle pages look like this.
 And this is the last page.

I've made this next class book for years and years.  The kids complete their page during the first week of school.
They just draw themselves and write their names.  So simple, but so cute.

This last one requires some parent help.  This idea originally came from Doodle Bugs a couple years ago.
 I send this questionnaire home with each student sometime in the first week or so of school and ask parents to return it the next day.  Then, I have students cut them out with fancy scissors.  They think this is just about the coolest thing ever!
This questionnaire is available in Google Docs if you want to go grab it.  CLICK HERE!

Right now, all three of these books are going home with students daily.  They can't wait for their turn to come!  I love picturing my kidlets cozying up with dad or mom to share the book and discuss Kindergarten.

Do you have a favorite book that you make with your class?  I'd love to add more to our classroom library!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Star-shaped Crayons :: a tutorial

I had a thought last Spring that I would love to use all the broken crayons in my room and repurpose them into something fun for my students.  I saw the images of heart-shaped crayon valentines floating around Pinterest and knew that I could do something similar with stars that could be a really fun gift to give my new crew this year.  It really was so easy, and very fun!   
I ordered this star-shaped silicone mold from Amazon and it worked awesome!
I started with this tub of broken, peeled crayons.

For each new, star-shaped crayon, I chose which colors I wanted to use.  I tried to stay in the same color "family" for most of them, but a few I just threw in a random combination of colors.  Both ways seemed to work fine!  I chopped them into small pieces on a paper towel.
And then I filled the molds about half full.
I popped them into my oven which was preheated to 300 degrees.  I covered a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and them placed the silicone mold on top of that.  It provided a nice, firm surface for when I removed the melted crayons from the oven.  Most of the batches were in the oven for 8-10 minutes, but I just kept an eye on them and watched for when the crayons were completely (or almost completely) melted.
I let the hot, melted crayons sit on the counter for about 5 minutes before sticking them in the fridge to harden.  I left them in the fridge for an hour or so and then I took them out and carefully pulled the sides of the mold away from the crayons and popped them out.  Every one came out perfectly!  
So, so fun!!  My kids couldn't wait to check out each new batch.  No two crayons were exactly alike!

I set them out at my Open House had the students choose one to put in their pencil boxes as part of the scavenger hunt they did in the classroom that night.
I made this sign to put by the crayons.
It has been so much fun watching my students use these crayons at school during the first weeks!  They are big and chunky and will last forever!
This really was a super fun, inexpensive, and EASY thing to do!  Pretty sure I'll be doing it again and again...I want to check out different shapes too! :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

First week recap

I survived my first week back with kids!  And, actually, it went awesome.  As in, it really felt a little TOO easy!  My kids picked up on our routines and expectations quickly, and everything ran so smoothly all week long!  I enjoyed every minute, and am praying that it continues!! :)

This is a random recap of our week!

We completed our first day portraits.  These have already been laminated and will go in the students' memory books at the end of the year.

This letter goes home with my students on their first day.  I know that parents always want to know everything that happened that day, but all the students might remember is that they played outside. (Playing outside was a BIG favorite all week....of course!!)
We used a few pages from Nicole's Straight Up Standards for Back to School pack.  They were perfect for some formative assessing this week!  This particular page gave me a chance to teach expectations for using scissors and glue sticks as well.

 We celebrated our first class birthday on the third day of school.  I always let the birthday boy or girl choose a book from a stash that I collect throughout the year and I write a special note inside.  This year, I created this Happy Birthday tag to attach to the front of the book as well.

We always read Wemberly Worried on the first day of school.  This year, we did a sharing circle after we finished reading and we shared how we had felt that morning before coming to school for the first day.  Later in the week, we re-visited the story and completed this page for our memory books.
 These were my lesson plans by Friday morning!  Ha!  Pretty typical for the first week, I guess!
This sweet little note was delivered to me by one of my new littles on Friday.  LOVE.  And I know that I'm her first teacher ever, but I'll gladly take the compliment anyway!! ;)  

Happy weekend, friends!!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Calendar Wall.....updated!

You might remember that I went into the summer with the goal of updating my calendar wall.  I finally finished it last week.  Just in time for our new year!

This is how it has looked for the past several years.
But then, mid summer, I realized that the bulletin board was only attached by two screws!  So I took it down and opened up an entire wall to work with!
And this is how it looks today!  Ready for a new year!
 I also added this to my closet door in the same area.  "Be a Champion" is a theme at our school, and we'll say this with motions every day during calendar time.
 I used my Silhouette Cameo to cut vinyl for the wall.
 I finally have ten-frames on my calendar wall.  I've wanted them for two years now, but just never added them.
 More vinyl above the hundreds chart.  I made good use of Command hooks and velcro!
 My students will sign this when they lose a tooth.  We have a little "tooth chant" that we say for every child when they lose a tooth.  
 Calendar numbers, ten-frame dots, days of the week, birthday balloons, and a Vis-a-vis for the tooth chart all have a home here.
 I added shape posters to the top of the wall.
 And look at this sweet sign that I received from one of my new kidlets.  Love.  I thought it was perfect over by this area.

I am so happy with the way this space turned out!  I know that it will be more useful and will help make our calendar time even more meaningful for my students.

Ready or starts for us tomorrow!  Here we go!