Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Reverse Catch Up

I can hardly believe this year is already a thing of the past. I kept thinking that I would eventually get back to blogging....but here we are, and my last post was....well, last year!  I had an amazing year full of learning, challenges, and growth. I have implemented yet again new technology and utilized familiar technology in new ways. I'd like to begin with the end and work my way backwards through my year. If for no other reason than to help me reflect over the year's events and make notes to myself. 

We ended our year with a few earned "theme" days. We had a Read In Day and a Bring Your Own Center Day. 

These days were not only fun and engaging for the kiddos, but also allowed for teacher cleaning, organizing and packing up. Games are very educational. I did not allow electronic devices. I figured that these would be getting plenty of use this summer. I had one student who brought in cards and taught his friends how to play solitaire!  What a valuable game to know. 

How did we earn these days, you ask? We earned them with our class Dojo points!  This is an awesome app that is so easy to use and has had some pretty awesome updates this past year. My favorites have been their Big Ideas series. These have been a fabulously easy way to address growth mindset and the elasticity of the brain! My kiddos have truly embraced the power of YET!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hallway Fun!

At the beginning of the year when we are covering our All About Me unit, I had my kiddos make what I lovingly refer to as, "Hallway Heads".  I must admit that this was not my original idea--but what is when it comes to teaching?!  These "Hallway Heads" are above their cubbies.  It was originally tied to a lesson on how we are the same yet very different!  We looked in mirrors to compare our eyes, nose, cheeks, dimples, etc.  We looked at details like skin color, freckles, glasses and more.  We talked about the different colors in our own heads of hair!  Then we took time to make a "mini me" of sorts for the hallway.  I prepped them by letting them know that these would be important ALL year long and that we were going to give our very best efforts.  These 4 and 5 year olds did AWESOME!!  I provided a tracer for the head and had a few different hair shapes for them to choose from as well.  We had a draw along, while I talked them through each part of their face and showed them different shapes for eyes, lips and noses.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Gearing Up and Getting Set!

Tis that time of year again!  Time to think about all that went right last year and the changes you want to make this year.  I love how a classroom is like an open canvas! I absolutely LOVE setting up a classroom!  So I thought I would go through some ideas I have for this year.  I may be making some big changes this year....but, we'll see :-)  It's a good thing that I have my energy back and am feeling great thanks to MY Plexus Products!!  I cannot tell you what an impact on my daily quality of life these all natural products have made!  Do yourself a favor and before school gets back into gear and your health takes a back seat...choose health...choose Plexus! If you don't know what I am talking about, check out the video below:

My First Love!  Books!  Books! and more Books!

I LOVE Adore books.  I have quite a few but never enough.  I am always looking for great picture books to use with my lessons.  How do you keep them organized?!  I have tried many different ways from book boxes, baskets, cardboard dividers (not bad) to you name it. Well I was exploring a closet at our school when I happened upon this Brilliant system!  Paint Sticks!  So simple and CHEAP, I'm in love!  I think I have just found a nice way to organize.
This reminds me also of a system one of my special librarians used to help kids remember where their book came from on the shelf if they decided not to choose it.  She called them book buddies.  The kiddos would use a stick (plastic but I think paint sticks would work too) to mark the place on the shelf that their book belonged.  Take and give the book a "looksie" and if they wanted it, then they took their stick out.  But, if they didn't want it, they knew where to put it back!  Was she smart or what?!  How blessed we were to have her at our school:-)

Reading Corners:

Gotta have a few cozy places to read around the room!  This corner is a little bland but it still worked.  I like to keep a tub of "reading buddies" (aka stuffed animals) around for kiddos to take with them to their reading spots.  

Love the lanterns and colors in this cozy nook!  I have a beach umbrella that I plan to use.  I'll keep you posted!!  I love how the books are very accessible yet still organized in a simple, clean manner.  Instead of lanterns, I think I'd like to try these tissue paper pom poms.  Super cute, colorful, and great for the budget.  Check out the video for a "how to".

Work Displays:

I love using clips!  Whether they are attached to the wall or this fancy clothes line style pictured below.  Clips are a huge time saver!  No staples to remove and not stuffing INTO a page protector that doesn't always seem to be big enough.

Stations:  I love utilizing the low wall space for interactive pocket chart activities.  In my case, tables are hard to come by so we use the wall and floor!  Interactive pocket chart activities are easily changed out, cleaned up, and remain clutter free!  When your classroom has to share it's space with a church this is a huge time saver!  No storage--who wants to play with an empty pocket chart?!  My point exactly!

 Always need a special chair!  I will definitely keep my Dr. Seuss rocker.  The kiddos always love to sit and present in it and I like to sit and read to them in it too!  It adds a sense of warmth, pizazz, and comfort to the classroom.

Charts and Tools

My tiny birthday chart--great for jam packed walls.  I always hang it on my bulletin board near my calendar to ensure that I am on top of the birthday celebrations without having to take up an entire wall!

 I will also continue to use my lifesaving guided reading "cheat sheet".  This is a powerful reading instructional tool!  It helps me to be sure that I am meeting my reader's needs at the various levels.  Be sure to check it out at my TPT store!
And I cannot wait to use this beauty again....My Scientific Lab report!  I have been in PreK for the last year and had to let it go.  We would verbally use the scientific method--but there was no writing on their part.  I did blow it up and laminate it for our experiements though and that worked great!  I highly recommend it for the primary classroom:-) Check it out at my Store!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Reader's Theater, An Overlooked Powerhouse!

Happy Summer!  I hope that everyone is taking a little time to catch some R&R while summer is still going strong.  Above, I am dropping my soon to be 4th and 5th graders off at church summer camp (sniff, sniff)!  We have never done this before and I don't know who was more nervous me or them?!  Poor baby girl was heart broken because sisters aren't around to play with her...good thing mommy is!  I have played barbies, read a million books, and played beachball volleyball...all before lunch!  Good thing I am a Plexus Powered mommy, cause I wouldn't be able to keep up without it!  These all natural products give me the health and energy to keep up with the demands of life!

I am a huge proponent of Reader's Theater in the classroom!  It does take a little creativity and organization to fit it into the elementary day.  I committed about 10-15 minutes each week and it was WORTH every minute!  The pay offs are BIG!

Powerhouse Pay-Offs

-Kids are excited about reading!
-Parents get involved, are excited, and supportive too!
-Poise, intonation, ennunciation, and authentic fluency and voice are learned through practice, repetition, and peer demonstration!
-Kids are empowered and aquire greater self-esteem about their abilities as a reader!!

These are huge benefits because kiddos who believe they can read are more willing to take risks and push themselves to become better readers!  What teacher doesn't want that for every student who walks through their classroom door?!

How it works for me:

In my classroom I dedicate a roster strictly to keeping track of who is assigned to what script.  This helps ensure that NO one is left out and keeps track of what scripts I have used that year (I try REALLY hard not to repeat).  In the beginning, I try to pick scripts by flexible reading groups.  This allows me at least 1 initial lesson to go over my expectations of a Reader's Theater presentation.  It allows the group to learn to follow a script, ask questions, etc.  I initially did this with 1st graders and it worked just as beautifully with 2nd---I have not yet braved trying this with my preschoolers.  Not sure how it would go or how to modify.  If you have ideas, PLEASE share!!  Our initial lesson during group time would also give me a chance to go over intonation and voice with my kiddos.  We discussed how it was important to read through and understand what your character was like based on their actions  (super authentic reading lesson!!).  We would also discuss what props they might be able to look for at home to help support their role as this character.  (in my letter explaining the scripts to the parents it is noted that they are NOT to go out and purchase props.)  Props are a lot of fun and add to the experience, but I had many students who never got into that sort of thing and that was perfectly fine.  Props were completely optional. In my experience, as the year went on and the kiddos grew more confident, I saw more and more props.  I had to eventually make a rule, that if you brought a "costume", you had to be able to slip it on over your school clothes---no running to the restroom to change!  (great problem to have to solve in my opinion--kids so excited they are willing to go the extra mile to present their script to their peers.)

The Schedule:

So a typical week would have been that I handed out the scripts with explanation letter and part attached on Thursday or Friday.  This would give them the weekend to begin going over their lines.

The next Monday or Tuesday I would utilize 1 reading group time to meet with my theater performers.  This lesson is essential in the beginning to "set the stage" so to speak.  If you have high expectations, like I do, it is necessary to ensure they don't get up their and read like robots or stumble over all their lines.  I'm not talking perfection---but I AM talking practiced.  In fact, in my class I told them that if they could not read their lines then I would become their character.  No one likes to have to struggle in front of their peers.  (this only happened once or twice, Reader's Theater is a pretty strong motivator!)

Then depending on our schedule that week we would present to the class on Wed or Thursday.  I would take pictures that I would post to my website, there was applause and bowing, and then we would have comments.  I would call on 3 people from the polite audience who had a compliment for the group.  Then I would call on 1 person who had a thought for something the ENTIRE group could work on.  (this takes training...if your kiddos are new to this type of feedback sharing, I would let them do the complimenting and YOU do the "work on" part.  Eventually they're coming up with ennunciation all on their own!  Easy, right?!  

I have such fond memories of our Reader's Theater times!  Here are a few of the pictures I dug up from years past.
sometimes I would use the smart board to project an image.  Especially if we were doing a nonfiction Reader's Theater!  The kiddos LOVED this!

 Can you guess what we need to work on here?  If you guessed eye contact and not hiding behind your script, you are right!  Always an unending battle!!

 Before our first few presentations we would always review what appropriate "audience" behavior looked like and sounded like.

Eventually if I did not have an image that needed projected.  I would just project the stage template found in the images on notebook software.

I hope this helps to either affirm or inspire YOU to utilize the reading powerhouse of Reader's Theater in YOUR classroom!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Currently it's July, Happy 4th Y'all!!

I am jumping back on the band wagon and linking up with Farley at Oh Boy, 3rd 4th Grade!  I know, it's been a while!

LISTENING:  I am currently listening to my 3 girlies....NOT fighting!  I know, inconceivable right?!  Well, for some strange reason I have received a blessing from above and they have been delightful with one another today :)  

LOVING:  My Pink Drink!  Ever heard of Plexus?!  I'm here to tell you that it is an amazing ALL NATURAL drink that will change your life!
Check it out on my website:    If you are looking for a way to reclaim your health, your energy, overall feeling of well being, and lose some weight along the way then Plexus is the product for you!

THINKING:  Thinking about how much time I have let slip by without taking the time to keep my blog updated.  So, with this currently post I am attempting to jump back on the bandwagon and do a better job at updating regularly.  I have so many ideas I want to share.  

WANTING:  If I could jump up and down, stomp my feet, and throw an all out tantrum, I would!  I am so dying to get my hands on my newest niece!  My youngest brother had his very first sweet baby girl on....are you ready for it....Father's Day!! Can you believe it!  What a terrific Father's Day present!  Unfortunately, I probably won't get to get my hands on her until August! (if I make it that long!)  Just look at this sweet face!
I have a major case of newborn envy!  Almost makes you want to have another....I said ALMOST!!  Being an Auntie is the best deal. You get to love on them and then give them back : )

NEEDING:  To mow the lawn AGAIN!!  It hasn't even been a week and the grass is so long you can't even tell I just did the lawn.  Being on yard duty goes along with the territory of being a single summer parent.  Yep, the hubby has a job that calls for a bunch of travel in the summer months. So, Grandma, the girls, and I make do without a man around the house.  While the hubby is off building relationships with all those great kiddos on mission trips and summer camp, I get to mow the lawn and keep the household going. I really don't mind, but the tending to the lawn is NOT my favorite.

4th PLANS:  We got to celebrate WITH the hubby while he was home for 2 days last weekend!  Hooray!  We sat cozy on our blanket and watched the sky light up in a beautiful display of fireworks!!  So, on the actual 4th of July, we have a quiet day planned of hanging out at the pool and a possible bike ride.  (mostly because...yep, the hubby will still be at camp.---who plans summer camp on the 4th of July?!  Apparently, we do!)
We had so much fun celebrating together!  What a blessing family time truly is!!

That's all that is currently going on in my life!  Signing off for now, but reminding you to take some time to...

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Celebrating the Seasons of Life....Priceless!

I love photos!  A picture truly is worth a thousand+ words!  I guess that's why I love to give them as gifts.  At the end of the year I like to write a note to my volunteers, helpers, etc. to express my gratitude and give them a little something to commemorate their time with me.  I do this with a photo and usually a quote.

I take the photo from the back so that I don't have to worry about permissions and privacy, etc. The quote I chose this time is by Angela Schwindt:  "While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. "

I have used these photos by using glue dots to stick on the inside of a retro looking glass jar.  (easy enough!)  I have also used these photos to print cards to use throughout the year when a special thank you or note of recognition was called for.

I have also discovered printing on those Avery clear stickers!  Awesome!  You can stick these on to anything.  I have used those glass blocks from Home Depot or Lowes and yes of course my favorite, glass jars.  I like to buy mine at Hobby Lobby when they are half off!!

Recently, we had a flood of graduations to attend.  I quickly applied this same concept with a group photo of all the seniors at an end of the year celebration.  The great thing about this is, that while it costs little, the meaning is big!  Like I said, a great photo can be priceless.

On a side note, I have recently entered another season in my own life where I am reclaiming my health!  Fighting exhaustion and stress, among all the other things life seems to throw down along the way I have decided to give Plexus a try.  So many testimonials from friends that have had dramatic, life changing results.  If you'd like to know more about this ALL Natural Health and Wellness company, check out my website:

Signing off for now and reminding you to take some time today to...

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Don't forget Father's Day!

I did this creation for Mother's Day, but did not get it posted in, I thought it might be easily adapted for Father's Day.  Often schools forget about the dads and they get the short end of the stick.  As you think about wrapping up your year, think about wrapping a little something for the dads before you are through.

You will need the lids from as many coffee creamers as you have students.
I love a little coffee with my cream, so these lids are not hard to come by for me.  However, I am certain that they would not be all that hard to come by if you put the word out that you were in need.

Wash lids and open so that they stand up like little picture frames.

I printed pictures on my computer using a circle mask (a template that keeps the size uniform).  I measured my lids to be about 2.5 inches in diameter.  I cut these circles out, used masking tape to secure and viola!  Cute frames ready to decorate.

I then gave the kiddos some sequins and craft glue and they glued about 6-7 "jewels" around their frame.

Then because we were in need of wrapping paper, I had the kiddos decorate white lunch sacks.  We placed their frames into the bags complete with a homemade card (the best kind!) and called it done!

I don't know a dad out there who doesn't love a homemade gift from their kiddo!!