Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Happy New School Year! Making Memories from Day 1

I am SUPER guilty of judging books by the cover!  Several years ago, I was in the book store and found a book titled "Happy School Year".  How could I not buy that?  Luckily, it turned out to be a cute book.  It talks about how children all over the country are waking up and getting ready for their first day of school.  The story tells about a school where all the kids and teachers get together and sing "Happy New School Year" then light a candle and make a wish for the year.  They all blow the candle out. 

I have made this a part of my first day routine.  In the afternoon, I read the story to my kiddos.  Then I take out one cupcake with a candle on top.  I tell the kids to think of a wish they have for the year - something they hope to learn or do.  I light the candle and on the count of three, we all blow the candle out.  Afterwards, we all get a cupcake - of course!  This is such a fun way to end the first day of school.  Of course they are going to go home and tell their parents how great their day was, they just got a cupcake! 

 Kids can also draw or write their wishes.
Download the FREEBIES! 

Do you have any special back-to-school traditions?  I would love you to share them in the comments.  I wish you all a wonderful new school year! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Celebrating 1,000 Followers with a $100 TpT Gift Certificate!

I am SUPER excited to be celebrating 1,000 followers!  Thank you SO much for following me, leaving feedback, and sharing my products with your students.  Good luck in the raffle.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Writing and Reading with aTake-Home Buddy!

Every year, I buy my class a new stuffed animal from Build-a-Bear.  They take it home every night and write about what they did.  Anything that gets my little guys writing and reading is worth doing!  They just LOVE this!

I usually get a "boy" character.  Girls still love it and boys like it more than having a girl.  I have had girl animals when my room was very girl heavy.  The characters come in a tote bag with instructions written on it.  "Please have fun with our buddy tonight.  Don't forget to write in the journal about what you did and read him a goodnight story.  Please return to school tomorrow."  Also includes all contact info - in case somebody finds him at the part or something.  I just used fabric paint on the bag to write the directions. 

Inside the bag there is the stuffed animal, a journal (I use primary lined composition notebooks - there is room to draw on the top of each page), and a small backpack (purchased from Build-a-Bear) which contains pajamas and a disposable camera.  I tell my kids that they are allowed to take TWO pictures each and a parent needs to help them.  When they camera gets full, I get the pictures developed and attach photos to the pages that are finished.  I have pictures of my animals getting worked on by our local dentist, in a jail cell, riding a horse, at the river, and SO much more.  I teach the kids to write on the right side fo the journal and save the left side for pictures.  This also works well if somebody uses a pen or marker that bleeds through the page- it won't ruin anybody else's writing. 

I write all the kids numbers (I assign them numbers before school starts).  As they take them, I circle their numbers.  Once everyone has had a turn, I make a forward slash through their numbers.  We usually have time to take him home at least 3 times each.  I do not send him home on Fridays.  It would not be fair for some kids to get him 3 days and it increases the chances of losing him and his belongings.  I tell the kids that he comes home with me on Friday.  He doesn't really!  SHHHH!!!  Don't tell them I lied! 

After lunch, the student who took him home read to the class about what they did and shows their pictures.  I give him to the next student at the very end of the day.  I do not send him home in alphabetical order or anything like that.  The very first time, you want to send it home with somebody who will do it RIGHT and set a good example for other kids to follow.  I choose somebody that I have had their older brother or sister or I try to find a mom so I can explain where to write and what to write.  I have had some goofy stuff come back and I don't want parents to think that is what it is SUPPOSED to be like. 

Once the year is over, each animal is retired.  They sit on a shelf with their journals and a class picture from their year.  Kids can read to them, but they don't leave my room.  It is really fun to see 7th graders come back to my room to see their old stuffed animal. 

This is such a fun program to do with your class.  Let me know if you have any ideas, comments, or suggestions about it!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Teacher Toys!

This post mysteriously disappeared so I will write it again.  Hmmm...
I found some fun stuff at the SDE conference last week.  I got these cool "teacher toys" from Helps 4 Teachers.  I love this alligator for teaching greater than/less than.  It actually goes with a book from the same company.  I am excited to use him with "Mr. Alligator" by Jack Hartmann. 
*Just to impress you with my photography skills - my right hand was in the puppet, my left was holding my phone, and I pressed the button with my nose!
I found these awesome spelling sticks!  The letters are burned into them so they won't smear or wear off.  I think she must have had the holders made just for the sticks.  They are pretty cool.  I bought 4 and am excited to use them for word work.
Last but not least, I found these great dice with THREE small dice inside.  I have TONS of dice (even dice-in-dice), but I didn't have any of these guys.  There are SO many fun options with them - ordering numbers, adding three numbers, place value...I have big plans for these little guys! 
Now I just need to find a place to put all of these treasures in my room.  If you saw my last blog post, you understand the problem.  YIKES!  So much to do and only ONE week left!!!  Better get busy! 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Getting Organized for the New Year

I have been going into school everyday trying to get things in place.  Teachers return on the 31st and kids start on the 5th.  I have really moved some things around in my room to make more work areas.  Last year I was able to get some really cool equipment for listening centers.  I got this cute "listening lounge" from Lakeshore to go with it. 
I am supposed to be getting a nice new shelf too.  It is MIA.  It was ordered over three weeks ago.  I hope it arrives soon!  Here is a picture of it: 
I have such a crazy assortment of cheap shelves in my room.  I think I am going to start replacing them one-by-one with quality stuff. 
My goal is to get my room together this week and then work on the "kid stuff" next week.  Want to see my current mess? 
There is SO much to do at the beginning of the school year!  I predict some long days and much iced coffee in my future.  Stay tuned for some great "after" pictures to be posted very soon!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Look out Vegas- Here I come!!!

I am leaving tomorrow for the SDE conference in Vegas. I have attended the conference every year since 2006. This summer I will have a booth as a vendor! I am so excited and nervous. My house has been jam-packed with marketing materials and products for months. It will be nice to clear that stuff out and get my house back! My husband just left today for the Marines. He served 13 years active duty then joined the reserves. He only has ONE YEAR left until he can retire. CRAZY! I have been so focused on this conference that I have not done ANYTHING in my classroom. I usually spend lots of time cleaning things out and getting ready for the new year. I will have two weeks between the conference and the start of school. It will be busy, but I can do it! If you follow my blog, you know I am not a good blogger. Next year, I will blog once a week. I have SO many cool ideas to share. I am actually excited about it! Oh, one more thing! This summer I have been having a "Frugal Friday" sale. Each week, I post one product that is discounted 50% for that day only. Follow my facebook to stay updated! Have a super week! - Autumn