Sunday, March 12, 2017

Meet Gerald: The Easiest Class Pet in Town!

Meet Gerald the Giraffe - our class (stuffed) pet!!  Isn't he the cutest?

Back in January, I got an "itch" to have a class pet for my kiddos - but I've been there done that years ago with a hermit crab and I didn't want a living class pet - it needed to be a stuffed animal - so after searching high and low for the best one, I found our Gerald on Amazon!

Throughout the post, you may find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon tosses a few nickels my way if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you, that help keep my corner of cyber-space running!

So, Gerald stays in our classroom during the week and on Fridays he rides home with a kiddo in his bag along with his journal.  

Inside the front cover of the journal, I have some directions for parents and then at the end of the weekend, the kids write about what they did with Gerald that weekend.  Hind sight is 20/20 - next year I'll do a better job of setting expectations for student writing in the journal each week.  I didn't want to make it another homework assignment, but we struggle to write complete sentences (all the time!), so I've got to make sure I set the expectations better next year!

The first weekend, Gerald went to Taekwondo with one of my sweet girls.  She fed him snack at Taekwondo and then they went to Applebees for dessert.  They had to go to their babysitter's house for a little while and then on Sunday she took him to church to learn about Jesus!

The next weekend Gerald got to go to the Park, Farmer's Market.  While at the park, he got to play soccer and Pokemon. Then he had to come back to school on Monday!

Yay!  We got pictures!  The kids are encouraged to take pictures of what they do with Gerald to add to the journal.  This weekend, he got to play at the playground with one of my sweeties and her little sister.  They played on the swings and the slide.  Gerald had a blast!

Now...this one is my favorite so far!  The family who was taking Gerald home this weekend was going to the NC Mountains to go snow tubing and have some fun in the snow.  BUT, my sweet kiddo accidentally left Gerald at home - so he didn't get to join in on the fun!  So instead of Gerald having fun snow tubing, mom emailed me that Gerald had a weekend with their dogs!

His journal entry made me laugh!

I had a bad time with Gerald because he was at home while I was in the cabin with my friends for my mom's birthday part in Boone, snow tubing.  
We felt bad for Gerald so we made him think he went with us.

Photoshop is an amazing thing!  The family sent down an empty snow tube for Gerald and then photoshopped him in when they got home!  I LOVE IT!

I manage all of my parent sign-ups on Sign Up Genius.  Directions and info for parents goes in at the top and then parents can scroll to the bottom to select the weekend they want to host Gerald.  Then on Friday, I check to see who Gerald is spending the weekend with and off he goes!  

This is seriously the EASIEST class pet in town and my kids enjoy seeing what Gerald does on the weekend.

On Mondays, when Gerald returns to school, we take a couple minutes during our morning routine for the child who took him home to share with us what they did.
What's Gerald up to this weekend?!?!  Well, we tracked out for 2 weeks for our spring break/track-out  on Friday, so today Gerald is jetting off to Florida with me and hoping on a Disney Cruise tomorrow! Can't wait to share pictures with the kiddos when we get back!


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Leprechauns Are Poppin' Up Everywhere!

Hi friends!!
Happy Birthday to 2 wonderful people - Dr. Seuss and my Grandma!  My grandma passed away in April 2013 and I miss her everyday.  But, she always treasured children and reading with children, so I think it is very fitting that she shares a birthday with Dr. Seuss!

Happy Birthday in Heaven Grandma!
Throwin' it waaaayyyy back!!  This is probably in 1990 or 1991 - my cousin Lillie, me, and my Grandma!

Now that Read Across America week is almost behind us, it's time for those little pesky Leprechauns to start popping up everywhere!  This year, I will be tracked-out from school during the week leading up to St. Patrick's Day, so I won't be able to do all the fun things that come with this famous green day, but that doesn't mean we won't be missing out on all the fun.

Throughout the post, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon tosses a few nickels my way if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you, that help keep my corner of cyber-space running!

This activity is perfect if you are studying money - something we started today!  With this fun 3-D craftivity, students are given a cloud with a money amount.  They have to use coins to make the amount on the pot.  Then, you use strips of construction paper to make the rainbow.  We did this last year and it was a huge hit and made for a very colorful bulletin board!

Up next is a new language arts and writing craftivity project!

Grab the book on Amazon!

There are lots of different activity sheets you can have your kiddos do with this project.  You don't have to have the book to do all of the activities in this set, but it definitely will provide your kiddos with some inspiration!

Then there comes the crafting part - my favorite part!  There is a head, feet, and hands included.  There are lots of ways to display the craft with your students' work.

Just the head and hands...

Or just the feet...

Or put both of them together!

Last up are March Math Centers!  Since we will be out of school for 2 weeks of March, we started our March math centers this past Monday.  February has been so long and the weather is looking and feeling like spring, why not start the next month's centers a couple days early?!?!

It's almost Friday - we can make it to the weekend!


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Math Tic Tac Toe Games

Back in January when I was stuck inside for 4 days because of ice and snow, I churned out a new project that I was pretty excited about!  I recently got them printed, laminated, and introduced them to my students and they LOVE them! 
What I love about them is that they cover most all of my 2nd grade standards for math and the kids are practicing the skills while playing a fun game that they like playing anyway!

Throughout the post, you’ll find Amazon Affiliate links, which means Amazon tosses a few nickels my way if you purchase something through that link, at no extra cost to you, that help keep my corner of cyber-space running!

Most days during my math block, I have math centers and use my monthly math centers that have a spiral review of skills.  Now that we are nearing the end of 3rd Quarter, my kiddos have perfected the math center routine and some have started breezing through their math center activity.  Well...I don't want them just sitting and waiting to come to Math with Teacher and they don't need more screen time - so they can quietly play Tic Tac Toe with a friend.  

Each Tic Tac Toe board contains directions at the top so they can grab any of the boards, a set of X and O cards, find a spot to play, and get started!  I think my favorite thing about these games is that I was able to include most all of my 2nd Grade CCSS as well as a handful of 1st Grade CCSS so my firstie friends could use this game in their classrooms as well.

A couple Fridays ago we had an Early Release, and a little extra time after creating our Valentine bags, so I introduced the new game.  I was so scared they wouldn't want to play because they had to do math - but as kiddos finished their bags, they rushed to find a partner and get to playing.

I keep the X and O cards in snack-sized Ziplock bags to be easy cleanup and storage.

These boys picked one of the harder games for their first Tic Tac Toe game - but I know they can handle the challenge!  They are adding 3 and 4 2-digit numbers - so they needed scrap paper to solve their problems.  In the game set, I have "work pages" included that you can copy for your students to use to show their work, but I always have a basket of scrap paper and that worked just as good!

Lots of gaming (and math discussions) going on!

Before a student can place their X or O on the square they have chosen, their partner has to agree to their answer.  So my boys above who were adding 3 & 4 2-digit numbers, both boys were solving them problems so they could check their partner's work!  I definitely believe that when playing games, in particular educational games, there doesn't need to be "down time" for one or more of the players - they both need to be working their brains the entire time.  So having both players agree on the answers is the way to remedy that problem of down time.

When it came time to prep these games, I was so ever thankful for my HP Instant Ink subscription...

because I wanted to print the games in full color!!  With HP Instant Ink, I didn't worry about how much color it would take because I pay each month based on how many pages I print and they send me more ink when I need it.  It's the most economical way to print and super easy!  You can sign up here for a free month!

I did print on cardstock for durability and laminated the games as well so they'd last me many years. 


If you don't want the full color games or don't have easy access to a color printer and color ink, I've got you covered!  I made a black/white version as well.  Now, some of the boards that include full color clipart, such as some of the geometry and money games will only contain the full color clipart.  But, they look great printed in Black/White on color cardstock!

My favorite colored cardstock!

You can find these games in my TPT store!
Math Tic Tac Toe Games

Happy Hump Day y'all!


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Flexible Seating - Managing Student "Stuff"!

Before I started flexible seating, all of my students had chair pockets that they kept their COLLEGE notebook, binders, bags of books, etc in.  So when I went to flexible seating and went to only having 4 normal chairs in my room - I had to rack my brain as to where I was going to keep all their stuff!

I know many other teachers have expressed the same concerns, so I hope this will provide you some ideas as to how you could streamline and utilize some shelves and things you may already have (or could purchase somewhat cheaply) to help your students.

Now, I am a VERY organizer person and I believe in teaching my students to be organized as well.  This is a life skill that isn't in Common Core, but I know that if they are going to be successful after they leave my classroom, they need to be able to keep track of their belongings in a somewhat neat fashion.

I do have a large cubby unit, 

that my students keep their bookbags, jackets, and lunch boxes in.  Each of the sections is shared between 2 students.  It isn't always the neatest looking thing during the day - but it fits their stuff!

In our classroom, we do community supplies.  Each table has a spinner caddy that holds pencils, scissors, crayons, and markers.  The cups are on the caddy with magnets so they can easily be taken off and moved around the table if needed (or cleaned!).  This is so much easier than each student having their own box of supplies - especially since I don't have individual student desks. 

Most recently we added this clear file boxes from The Container Store to each table.  When the students come in in the morning, part of their morning routine is to get their green & purple work folder and put in this box.  These folders are awesome because I took 2 folders and made it so they now have 4 pockets instead of just two!  They told me a few weeks ago they would like to have their folders at the table with them each day, so I happily obliged!

Since my students choose a new "home base" table each day, their folders couldn't stay only at their tables day after day.  So they are kept in these Ikea Trofast frame & buckets at the end of the day.  

The groups are organized by their classroom number, which is in alphabetical order.  Each green drawer is for 5-6 students to store their folders.

Also in these frames are bigger buckets for their bags of books.  Each students has 1 gallon sized bag to store their books they are reading in.  The frame/bucket on the left are for my students numbers 1-11 and the one on the right is for students numbers 12-22 - folders and books. 

I love how these drawers can easily slide off the tracks and back on - making it easy for them to pull out those heavy book drawers, dig around to find theirs and then put it back.

These frames are not super cheap, but it's Ikea so they are not overly expensive either.  When I first started planning my Ikea trip (since currently our closest one is 3 hours away), I wanted each student to have their own drawer (like the green ones) above, but I just didn't have the room in my classroom to make that happen.

Our students have home-school binders that we call COLLEGE binders.  Children Organizing, Learning, and Leading Everyday for a Great Education.  When my students had chair pockets, they kept them at their seats, but with flexible seating - that went away.  I cleared off a shelf on this black bookshelf and all the binders fit there.  

Each morning when my kiddos unpack they put their binder on the shelf.  If I need to put something in it - I can easily do that with them all in one place.  At the end of the day when we clean up to pack up, they all grab their binders and go to their seat.
Our Ready Common Core books are also store on the shelf below.

The last area of "student stuff" that I have is another Ikea Trofast frame for our different journals we use.  Each morning the Morning Work Journals bucket goes on the counter for students to grab their journal.  Then we have our Rooted in Reading Journals and Spelling Notebooks (for homework).

From time to time I do miss my chair pockets, as with those, my students had pretty much everything they needed right where they were.  However, I'm loving not having to wash those things every track-out and not having to get my mom to mend the holes!  It doesn't take me long to pass out notebooks when needed, and sometimes I have students pass them out which they LOVE to do!

If you have already implemented flexible seating in your room, I hope this might have helped you come up with an idea for how to store all your student's things.  If you have not, but have been wanting to - I hope I've inspired you that it can be done, you just have to get a little creative!


Monday, February 6, 2017

Do you LOVETpT?

Hiya friends!!

A quick post this Monday morning to brighten your day - because guess what?!?!  There's going to be a site-wide TPT sale starting tomorrow!!

You can save up to 28% off in my TPT store and many others by using code LOVETpT when you check out.  Don't get caught up in the excitement and miss the extra discount by using the sale code - trust me, I've done it!

28% off - that's weird - I know what your thinking!  My entire store will be 20% off.  Then TPT offers an additional 10% off the sale amount using the sale code - so it comes to a total discount of 28%.

How can you save even more money???

Today - while you are waiting for the sale, go check your My Purchases page and leave feedback for any products you have purchased and not left feedback on.  Leaving feedback on paid products will earn you feedback credits.  

Then, when you are checking out, use some or all of those credits to save even more money.  20 TPT credits equal $1 - so if you haven't left feedback in a while - RUN, don't walk, to leave feedback and rack up your credits.

Buy a lot of products on Day 1 of the sale and then come back for a 2nd dose on Day 2?  Leave feedback and save more money!

Now, isn't your Monday a little brighter?
A TPT sale has a way of doing that to people!

Happy Monday and Happy Shopping (and saving!)!!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

February Thoughts on Thursday - Things Teachers Love!

It's February y'all and LOVE is in the air - so let's talk about things teachers love!
I'm linking up with my friends over at Pelican's & Pipsqueaks and Tech & Teachability to share 5 things this teacher loves.

Can I get an amen?!?!  Target is just about a must for everybody - I love my weekly trips to Target on Saturdays.  It's probably a good thing there isn't a Target between my school and my house (just Walmart - boo!) so that it isn't as convenient for me to stop after school.  But I guarantee you there isn't a Saturday that goes by that I'm not at Target wandering around the Dollar Spot and the up and down all the glorious aisles!  When we had a snow storm hit last month and I couldn't get out of my house from Saturday through Tuesday - I was miserable because I missed my Target trip!

Next up, my Erin Condren Lesson Planner.  This is a major MUST in my teacher-world!  I take it with me to every meeting at school so any notes are here too.  I'm just a tad OCD so each week I type my lesson plans into a template and glue in, but a pretty planner just makes me happy which makes writing lesson plans a little easier!  Save $10 on your first order!

Now, every teacher needs a good cup and my Ozark Trail definitely gets some frequent flyer miles!  I have a large cup for my water and a smaller one for my morning coffee!  Staying hydrated is important and I definitely have to have my drink cold - and this does the trick!  Put ice in it in the morning and I still have ice when I get home - score!!
I use my Mr. Sketch markers for EVERYTHING - anchor charts, grading papers, notes to myself, etc - you name it!  They smell so yummy and last too!  I usually buy a set of chisel tip and thin tip at BJ's for less than $10 - and I have sets at home and school.  Like I said - I use them ALOT so I have them everywhere!

Last up, my Vera Bradley backpack!  This is the Campus Backpack style and in one of my favorite patterns - Midnight with Mickey (Disney nerd here!)  I love the pockets on the sides for my laptop charging cords and the zipper pockets on the front fit all the little things - pens, markers, etc.  It definitely saves my left shoulder from all the weight I used to put on it lugging my tote bag to and from school everyday.  This helps to distribute the weight and it much easier to carry and gives me a little more freedom with my arms - which means some days I end up carrying more in one trip (I like to try and be Rachael Ray and only make one trip)!

What are some the things you love?