Organization & A Sale!

Today I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week.




Today's topic...ORGANIZATION.





I know I've talked to y'all a little bit about staying organized.  You might remember me telling y'all that I always start out the year organized and ready to go, but after the first day the wheels fall off and I usually don't find them until the last day of school :) 
 
Here are just a few of things I do & use to TRY and stay organized throughout the year.  TRY being the operative word.

 I keep all of my files in the plastic sterilite drawers labeled by month.  This has helped me a TON!!  When I was keeping everything in filing cabinets it seemed like it took me FOREVER to find things!  Now I know exactly where to go for my resources :)


To take it a step further, I keep ALL of my resources written in a little binder.   I have pages in my binder that are labeled by theme since most of my teaching is done thematically.  For example, on my "apple" pages, I have the activity written in one column, the author of the activity written in another {so that if any pieces to the activity are missing, I can quickly look it up & print it off on my computer without searching for HOURS}, and the location of said activity in the last column {monthly drawers, filing cabinet, etc.}  This is something I take with me to planning so that I know exactly what I have when it's time to come up with activities to share with the team!

Here's a little idea of what I do for math.  Again, it's all kept in my math conferring binder.  

The top picture is how I organize and plan math conferences.  I write out all of our math objectives {the ones from our benchmark assessments} on white labels and just place them inside of a file folder.  When I have students that don't master an objective on our benchmark assessments {every 6 weeks} I write their name on a little sticky and place it next to the skill...or skills...they didn't master.  When I go to conference with my kids, I know exactly which skills to target and this helps me plan A TON!

The bottom picture is how I keep my math groups organized.  The left shows my math groups {high, medium, low}.  They're color coded because of the way I differentiate my math tubs.   The right side is a breakdown of my cooperative learning groups...this is the group kids are in for their math stations/tubs.  They're grouped heterogeneously to help with peer teaching.

This is how I keep my literacy stations and tubs organized.  I implemented this last year and let go of some of my control.  I was SCARED.  But y'all...it was AMAZING.  The kids really loved the autonomy and it was stress free for me!  Basically, I just typed up each student's name on a sheet of paper & laminated it.  I placed each sheet in a literacy station/tub along with an expo marker.  The kids knew that only 2 kids were allowed to work at a station/tub at one time, but they had the choice to go to any tub they wanted.  When they got there, they used the Expo to mark their names off the list.  By Friday, they should have completed all of their tubs/station work.  I could quickly scan over the lists to see if any of my kids didn't go a station/tub if there names weren't crossed off the list.  This was a great little motivator for Fun Friday centers :)

There are plenty more organization ideas over at Blog Hoppin', so head on over to check them out!  

And here's what's on tap for the rest of Teacher Week...


And don't forget...Teachers Pay Teachers is having a ONE DAY sale TODAY!!!  Everything in my little shop is 20% off today.  You can use the promo code BOOST to get an additional 10% off of your total purchase.  Click on the "shop my store" link at the top of the page to stock up before the sale ends at midnight!



I just added my September Work on Writing packet to the shop!!!


If you purchased my Work on Writing Year Long Bundle, go back into your purchases to download this packet addition!!!  

Have a great day and happy organizing {and shopping ;)}!!





It's Teacher Week, Y'all!

Have y'all heard?!  It's Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin'!



Today's link up is all about the WHO.





I'm linking up with my girls to tell y'all a quick little bit about me.  Just a quick little snippet :)

{On a more random note, what in the world is up with my picture?  It looks like I tried a little Portraiture action on my face and I SO did not!!!  Why is it so hazy looking?!  I didn't use a filter...I mean, I need to, but I didn't!!!  HELP.}

And if you're anything like me, you like to try and plan ahead, so here's a little schedule of what we have in store for the rest of the week...




You can click on the "Meet the Teacher" tab at the top of the page to read a little more if you're interested!  

I hope to "meet" y'all this week, too! 


New Year, New Look!

Hey y'all!  Notice anything different?! 
 
A-hem {{cough}}.  

Anything SPECTACULARLY different?!?!?  

HELLO NEW BLOG DESIGN!!!!!!!!

I.am.IN.LOVE.

You can't see me right now, but I'm swooning.

It's a brand new year, so I figured it was time for a brand new look.  And I seriously couldn't be happier.  It's so ME!!!  The colors, the graphics...did I mention the colors??!!  I LOVE!

And I have Tenille from Designs by Tenille to thank!


She was AMAZING to work with and pretty much knocked this one out of the ballpark :)  

I'm even having her re-do my train wreck of a mess domestic blog...Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour.  I haven't been able to blog on that one in a while because it's so dang HIDEOUS.  Can't wait to see how she transforms that one, too!!! 

EEEEK!!!

Okay.

That's all.

Just wanted to throw that out there.

I'll get back to my regularly scheduled Saturday now :)

Thank you, Tenille!!!! I couldn't be happier!!!!!

A Little Tutorial

Yesterday I shared this picture on my Instagram.

I had a few people ask where I purchased and if I didn't purchase it, how did I make it?!  SO...I figured I'd do a teensy little tutorial for those of y'all that are interested.

I grabbed all the supplies at Michaels.  

Then I typed up my little list of doable chores for my boys.  I used KG Let Her Go Solid at 16pt.  My boys are 5 & 7 and we try *really* hard to make them as independent and helpful as possible around the house.  Their chores aren't insanely crazy, but they're just enough to give them a good sense of responsibility and make them helpful to me & Mr. Spouse at the same time.  

Chores/to-dos include....
Feed Lloyd, make beds, clean room, clean bathroom sinks, brush teeth {at least 2x's a day}, vacuum, pick up toys, put away games/electronics, rinse dishes, load dishwasher, unload dishwasher, laundry, put clothes away, put shoes away, clear table, set out clothes, clean upstairs, wipe toilets, pack lunch, help mom/mom's choice, help dad/dad's choice, take out trash, bring trash can back to house, & homework.  

We don't expect them to do ALL of these chores every single day.

My oldest son was BEGGING for chores.  My youngest?!  Notsomuch.  But they were SO excited when I told them I was making them a chore/to-do chart.  They're both like their momma...task oriented.  We love to physically cross things off our to-do lists :)

Once I typed up the chores, I printed, cut them out, and got started...

1.  Apply a thin layer of mod podge to the flat side of the crystal gem/rock.  You might want to use a smaller paintbrush.  This was the only thing I had on hand.

2.  Take your piece of paper and place it, face down, on top of the mod podge.

3.  Apply another thin layer of mod podge on top and along the sides of the paper.  This will seal it to the gem/rock.

4.  Hot glue a round magnet to the top of the paper on the flat side of the gem/rock once the mod podge dries.

VOILA!  Just like that, you have a magnet.  Sure.  It takes a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of patience, but it's super simple.  I knocked these out while I was watching season 3 of Breaking Bad.  {thank you, Netflix!!!  My husband and I are OBSESSED!!!!!!}

Now, I couldn't really find any magnetic surfaces on which to display these magnets that I really loved.  I mean, my boys have a really, REALLY small room and wall space is limited.  And the wall space they do have is consumed by their hand-picked decor and they really didn't want those coming down.  Bless.  

See what I mean?!  Not a lot of space.

SO, I bought a few frames and removed the glass and backing.  Then I hot glued several magnets to the back of both frames and decorated them with some fun little ric rac I found in the dollar bins at Michaels.  I also found these fun little chalkboard clothespins there as well and I broke the clothespins off the back to use as labels for the frames.


I took my little chalk marker and outlined the boards and wrote the boys' names on each then hot glued those to the top left corner of the frames.  

Just like that, two little chore/to-do charts.  Simple and practical and super easy for the boys to read and use.





I love that my boys are so eager to do their chores now!!!  We'll see how long that lasts ;)  They're very motivated by the thought of earning a little bit of money, too. 

Speaking of that, can I tell y'all a cute story?!  Bear with me because it's a proud momma moment.  We were sitting around the dinner table talking about their chores and earning money.  My oldest son said, "Mom.  I really think you need to buy us 3 piggy banks."  I was stumped.  THREE???  There are only two of them and I'm pretty sure our sweet pug, Lloyd, isn't contributing his helping paws. 

Me:  "Why 3?  There are only two of you."

Landon:  "Well.  I was thinking.  We need one to put in money that we can spend.  Then we need one that we can put in money to save.  Then the third one is to put in money that we can give to people who are in need."

Me:  {{{tears}}}

I hope his compassionate heart never changes!!!!


Anyway...I was thinking about how these can be used in the classroom.  You could totally use them as name magnets for attendance.  Each morning the kids could come in and move their name out of the frame when they arrive.  You could adhere the frame to the white board or a filing cabinet or create a frame using washi tape.

You could even create name magnets to use as center/station assignments.  Eeeeek!!!  The possibilities are endless.

Do you have any other ideas?!?!?

If you've been crafting anything for your classroom, don't forget that there are only a few more days left in the #create2educate #sweepstakes going on over on Instagram.  You have until 4 p.m. on August 15th to submit and post your craft for the chance to win a Michaels gift card!!!  Submit your back to school projects ASAP!!!  I can't wait to see what you've been creating!!!










A Few Little Tips

While everyone is headed back to school, I thought I'd share a few little tips that have helped my classroom setup TREMENDOUSLY over the years.  You might have already seen these before, but just in case you haven't, I thought I'd share them again :) Whatever helps....right?!?!!
Last year I added command hooks in all of my academic areas with the intention of storing my anchor charts for each of those subjects. I just attached the anchor charts to binder rings for hanging.  That turned out to be one of the best things I did for my classroom!  My kids were easily able to access all of our anchor charts so when they had a question about something, I'd just say "go use your resource to answer that." :)  LOVED it!!!

I've always taught in schools with walls that were beyond easy to staple.  I was stumped when I moved to my new classroom and had 3 cinder block walls and a partition wall that would only take the staple gun staples.  Totally stumped.  While I was in Hobby Lobby one day, it hit me!!  Add cork to the walls to create small and manageable bulletin boards!  The cork easily hot glued to the walls and stayed up beautifully all year long.  I just covered it with bulletin board paper like normal.  The cork wasn't very thick, but it held tacks and staples just fine.  This was such a lifesaver for me!!!  I loved being able to change out the kids' work each couple of weeks without damaging the paper!!  



For the one bulletin board I do have in the room, I quickly made these little clothespins.  Instead of stapling into the bulletin board each time I wanted to display work, I could easily hang things from the clothespins.  Adhering the tacks to the backside of the pins allowed for many mistakes and minimal damage to the board itself :)  



Remember earlier when I told you I was stumped when I saw those cinder block walls?!  Well, when I was first decorating the room, I kept hanging things with hot glue and then didn't like the way it looked.  When I'd go to remove those things from the wall, the poster/paper would rip and tear and the torn pieces were stuck to the wall and would NOT come off {without lots of elbow grease of course.}  SO, I started using painter's tape and ohmiword.  Answered prayer.  Just adhere the painter's tape to the backside of whatever it is you're going to hang and then hot glue on top of the tape.  When you go to remove the poster/paper, it will EASILY come off the wall and leave NO damage behind!!! 


Hope these tips are helpful!!  Happy back to school season!!! 

GoNoodle is Hoppin'!

In case you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a pretty happy person.  Life's too short to be ANYTHING but happy.  Don't you agree?!

I want the kids in my classroom to feel the same way EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.


When you think about it, many of our kids might be the happiest they'll be all day long when they're in our classrooms.  It's my job...my privilege...to make them feel safe, loved, and yes...HAPPY.  I may not always succeed, but I'll tell you what.  I try my darndest to make sure it happens!

When my boys get home at the end of the day, I pray they feel the same.  HAPPY.  I know their teachers worked SO hard last year to make them feel that way.  They're pretty happy kids in general, but it felt so good to know how happy they were when we weren't together.  I love that they were always so dang happy to go to school!

I want my classroom to be one of the happiest places in my students' lives.  I want my kids to LOVE to come to school.  I want them to be excited about the day.  I want them to go home at the end of the day with a head full of happy memories to talk about during dinner.  And I want them to wake up the very next morning excited to do it all again!!!


Last year, GoNoodle helped me up the happiness factor in my room TREMENDOUSLY!!!  My kids were flat out OBSESSED.  We were brain breakin' fools, I tell ya!!  

See what I mean?!?!?



Let me back it up just a bit.

Do you GoNoodle??  If you didn't last year...and if you've started without GoNoodling this year...you need to get on board.  I truly wouldn't tell you that if I didn't see the amazing things it did for my classroom environment last year!



GoNoodle is a FREE site just for brain breaks and it's SO easy to get started.

Like I said, you can sign up for free.  And you need to.  Trust me. 


Once you're signed up, you can add your class and then do a little demo to see what it's all about.  You'll want to do that, too.  



 You even get to pick your own classroom champ!  Each time you brain break, your champ gets bigger and grows as he travels through his little land.  One of our personal favorites??!?!?  FRECKLES SINCLAIR!!!  HA!
Remember that demo I was talking about?!  You CAN'T mess it up!!! You can try out different brain breaks to see if they'll work for your class and it won't mess up your class progress.  Cool, right?!

I about died last year when I saw how many options I had to choose from...
Koo Koo Kanga Roo was a class favorite last year....especially their Dinosaur Stomp and Happy Rainbows.  Not gonna lie...I smiled...and danced along...with each and every break we did.  How could you NOT be happy acting silly?!?!

And I swear brain breaking doesn't have to be a HUGE part of your day.  The good folks at GoNoodle already broke it down for us and categorized the brain breaks by time, subject, etc.  LOVE!
There's a brain break for EVERYONE!!!

We typically did our brain breaks at the start of every day.  Then during transition time.  After lunch was a must.  And at the end of the day.  I know that seems like a lot, but it didn't feel like that.  It was just what they needed.  And it made them SO HAPPY.  They BEGGED for brain breaks. 

It was amazing to see how much more focused my kids became after doing a brain break.  One of their favorite rewards was MORE brain breaks!  I personally think they loved watching Freckles grow :)  But hey...whatever works!!  

I loved that my kids weren't just sitting around all day working.  I loved that they were up and moving and exercising their little bodies and minds!!!  

I think Elle Woods said it best...

Hahahaha!!!


In all seriousness, I had such a happy classroom environment last year and I feel like I owe so much of that to GoNoodle.  I don't endorse anything I don't believe in and I can't say enough amazing things about this site!!  So if you haven't signed up yet, DO IT TODAY.  It's free.  And it'll make both you AND your kids happy!!!!

What are you waiting for?!

GoNoodle has generously offered to give away a little swag, so thank you GoNoodle!!!

Just head on over to GoNoodle, register for your FREE account, and enter to win!!!  You can earn more entries by following GoNoodle on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, too!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Now hop on over to visit my friend Elizabeth at Kickin' It In Kindergarten.  She's giving away some great GoNoodle swag, too!!!!  


Back to School Tips - The Readers Edition

I know at the beginning of the year I need all the help I can get.  I don't have all the answers.  I don't have the best ideas.  I never have and I never will.  I absolutely LOVE brainstorming and getting help from other teachers!  I mean, I'll take any help I can get to make my year start off smoothly!!!  Especially when SO many of you have such AMAZING ideas!!


About a month ago, I asked my Facebook readers to give me a few back to school tips and I got some great ideas!  These are the kind of ideas that made me go, "DUH!!!!  SO simple!!  Why didn't I think of that?!?!?"  Hopefully these will help you, too!

Love this idea for recess!   Involve your team and take pictures of each other doing the right thing and the wrong thing on the recess equipment and playing different recess games, etc.  Create a little power point/slideshow with your pictures and show it to your class after reading the book, "The Recess Queen".  Of course, if this book isn't available you can always talk about appropriate playground behavior, show them the slideshow, and then take them outside and review the rules!  Thank you, Erin!!!



Here's another excellent slideshow idea from Suzann!  Before the school year begins, take pictures of the "VIPs" in your school...principal, nurse, counselor, custodians, specials teachers, etc.  Have your kids brainstorm what their jobs are by giving them clues and then take them on a tour of the school for a little "meet & greet".  Love it!!!



School tours are always a must during that first week back, so why not do it with a little scavenger hunt.  Karyn suggested using your class theme/mascot as part of the hunt.  Print off symbols/pictures that represent your theme/mascot and place them around the places you want to visit on your scavenger hunt.  When you take your kids on the tour, have them hunt for those pictures and then introduce the important areas/people!  Love this one, too!!!


Lastly, and I seriously don't know why I didn't think of this the last 13 years, but split the bathroom procedures with a teammate!  Buddy up with a teacher on your team.  One of you take the girls and one of you take the boys.  Then take your group into the bathroom and discuss appropriate/inappropriate bathroom behavior.  SO smart!!!  Thank you, Phebe!!!


Have any tips you'd like to add?!?!?  I'll be back next week with another round of  "Teacher Tips---The Readers Edition"!  Can't wait to hear your great ideas!!!!