Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Giving Back ~ A Pajama Drive

During the month of December, my class has been bringing in pajamas to donate to our local homeless shelter. The idea to donate pajamas came from Scholastic Book Clubs.  They hold a Pajama Drive every year and match each donation with a book for children in need.

This is the first year my class has participated and I feel humbled and proud of my students and their families. Most of the pajamas donated were children sized so instead of donating to our local Aid for Friends, I made the decision to donate to our local Family Services Alliance for domestic abuse victims. They tend to have more children in need than our local homeless shelter.

I wish I could have taken my class on a field trip so they could have been a part of the entire process, but Christmas Break came WAY to fast!  I think this will become our class project every year.  I am definitely feeling the Spirit of Christmas now!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Parent Gift ~ Student December Craftivity

Every year I try to think of a creative, cute, and EASY crafitivity for my students to put together for their loved ones as a gift in December.  Every year after I finish the creative, cute, and EASY Christmas project I think "WHAT was I thinking! NEVER AGAIN!"  This year "we" made these creative, cute, and "easy" wreaths from tulle.  Incredibly cute, right?!

Adorable Student Craftivity!

All you need is a 3 inch ring (Any office supply store or HERE).
3-inch rings for wreath craftivity

Tulle (HERE or I found mine at Walmart) cut to 6 inch long pieces in any color you would like (it took 35-40 pieces).
Tulle choices for Wreath Craftivity

 And ribbon (HERE or Walmart again) of any size so is can hang.

Ribbon for wreath Craftivity
It will be so easy, I said...

They can tie knots, I said...

Student Craftivity ~ tying knots in tulle to make a cute wreath
It will be easy, I said...

They can tie double knots, I said... (They tie them in their shoes all the time!)

It might be easy, I said...

The "MESS" of making wreaths for a student gift

It will be so creative, I said...

It's easy?! I said...

Is that a wreath? Are those knots? Who tied this a 7 year old?!

I only have 22 to fix, I said...

What was I thinking!!! I said...

Ahh, it turned out so CUTE!! I said...

I think I'll think of something else next year. I said...

Kid Quote of the Week

Remember when you were a kid and you couldn't be bothered to get undressed one layer at a time?  Like pulling off your pants and underwear at the same time, and then your mom would get mad when they went through the laundry that way?

This week's Kid Quote comes from my co-worker's classroom.  After completing centers in her class she asked the students to pick up......

"Teacher there's UNDERWEAR under the table!!" Concerned Classmate

Wondering what her students were talking about she looked under the table and sure enough! Underwear!  They were clean, I'm sure they fell out of a students pant leg and (because it's 1st grade) they never even noticed.

We've ALL been in that awkward place; maybe it was a sock in your sweater arm, or the dry sheet in your pant leg instead.  But it can really start a conversation when it's underwear under the table!

Now I wonder what would YOU do with the underwear?!.......

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Kid Quote of the Week

Last week was a little crazy!  There are so many things going on this time of year and I had math curriculum training this week too! (More about that later... I'm really excited about it!!)

This week while writing during our class centers a group of kids were talking about older and younger siblings and how much they bug them......

"My little sister is SO annoying.  She invades my personal space!" Blake ~ Annoyed Older Brother

I really wanted to tell them that it won't matter how old they get, siblings (older & younger) will always be annoying.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Kid Quote of the Week

Some of my students have been reading and working on a book study of Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne. They all agreed that they would LOVE to have a tree fort, some of them were pretty disappointed in their parents.....

"My mom won't let me build a fort! It's just TORTURE!" - Sofia ~ Future Fort Builder

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Kid Quote of the Week

This week has been all about Thanksgiving and being thankful.  As a class we were working on writing all the things we are thankful for......

"I'm thankful for clothes because without them I would be naked.  Clothes are VERY important." Sofia ~ Miss Proper

"I like running around naked!" Carter ~ Rebel Rouser/Rule Breaker

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kid Quote of the Week

Our class has been working on feelings in our Second Step Social/Emotional curriculum.  There are many pictures of differnent situations that we look at and try to determine the best action/reaction to.
This week the picture clearly showed an angry child and Mylee had a great comment......

Just picture a finger wave, with a hand on a hip, and a head bob........
Hit me with your other bad mood!

"Hit me with your other bad mood!" Mylee ~ 6 Going on 16


I love my Math Journal Labels!

You can try them out HERE for FREE!

You can find Math Journal Labels for the entire school year HERE (That's 180 labels!), or find labels for each month here:

Let me know how they work in your classroom!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Math Journals

Math Journals are a quick 5-10 minute activity that I use in my classroom.  I love that it can be a quick check of my students understanding of the concepts I've been teaching and I can also add in new concepts that are a preview to things to come.

I looked all over Teachers Pay Teachers for labels that were already made, could be printed on to mailing labels, were core aligned, and made for first grade.  BUT NO LUCK! So... I made my own, and I LOVE them!!

Quick, daily math journal labels. Aligned with common core and perfect for 1st grade!

Each label is aligned to 1st grade curriculum and can be done in as little as 5 minutes.  I start the year by placing the first label in my students' notebooks. Each day that we work in our Math Journals I give my students a new label.  I just do a quick check, star their paper, and stick a new label on the back of their hand. My students are responsible for placing the next journal label on the next blank page.  (...... Sometimes the next blank page is really the middle of the notebook!)

Math Journal Labels for the entire year (180 Labels)! Core Aligned to First Grade Standards

You can find Math Journal Labels for the entire school year HERE (That's 180 labels!), or find labels for each month here:

I also have a FREEBIE if you want to sample my Math Journal Labels to see if they are a good fit for your classroom too!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Kid Quote of the Week

This week my favorite kid quote really made me laugh!  Kids are always listening to their parents talk at home......

"TEACHER!  Tallon called me a BABY!"

 "No, I said Bae.  Like Bae Bae.  Like my dad says to my mom all the time."  Tallon ~ Future Heartthrob
Kid Quotes: Tallon the heartthrob

That wiggly kid!

My last blog post got me thinking about all the things that I try to implement in my classroom to help those wiggly students.

Over the years I have tried MANY different things, weighted vests, weights for shoes, stress balls, bands on chairs, wiggle seats, etc.  It seems like every year I try something new because what worked the year before is not working or because every student has different needs.

This I have loved the exercise bands (surgical tubing) I have implemented.  I originally purchased a set of three exercise bands (for $17.00) from a local sporting goods store.  It had three different strength bands; heavy, medium & light.  The medium and light did not last very long! The heavy weight band has been great but expensive!  Check it out!
Exercise Bands to help those "wiggly" students or students with ADD, ADHD.

Because I have several kids this year that bands would benefit I was working on writing a grant to purchase more bands and balance cushions (I couldn't afford $17.00 per band!) when a dad of a "wiggly" kiddo asked what he could do to help his child.

I showed him the exercise band and told him I was working on writing a grant for more (as well as balance cushions), he had a great idea to use surgical tubing!  For less than the price of one set of exercise bands, he was able to make 5 surgical tubing bands!  AND they are much sturdier than the bands.  He simply measured the chair width, tied each end in a knot, made a loop and put a zip tie around it.  It works wonderfully!  (I found tubing HERE and zip ties HERE on Amazon for a great price; it would make each band approximately $2.00-$3.00.)
Surgical Tubing: A great alternative to exercise bands for your ADD, ADHD kiddos. AND it will save you $$!

This dad also brought in a balance cushion for his son as well.  The cushion has been incredibly helpful too.  It allows my student to wiggle without falling off of his chair and he gets the movement he needs to help him stay on task.
Balance Cushion: A great way to help those "wiggly" kiddos!

This is what his chair looks like with the balance cushion and band.  He carries his cushion all around the classroom with him because he knows it helps him to stay focused.

Using Balance Cushions and Bands to help your "wiggly," ADHD, ADD students.

It's been a great addition to my "wiggly" kiddo strategies.  I found them HERE on Amazon for $12.00 a cushion.  I have several students who could benefit from the balance cushions, I just have to get on the grant writing!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

That Kid

Dear teachers of my child and fellow colleagues,

That student in the back of your room, sitting by himself, silent, sullen, with an "I don't give a crap" look on his face; don't be fooled.  He's actually trying to understand the concepts you are teaching but has a hard time focusing because of the noise level and constant talking of other students around him.

I know.

You're using all the methods that your district keeps providing training on; Restorative Justice Circles, Common Core, Group Work, Unit Work, Performance Tasks.... the list goes on and on; but did you know it's actually very simple..... he's THAT kid!

An open letter to teachers about THAT Kid
THAT kid who needs a quieter environment to work in.

THAT kid that struggles to concentrate when the other students around him are talking (even quietly).

THAT kid who won't ask for help, not because he thinks you won't help him, but because he feels there are other students in the class that need more help than he does.

But I'll let you in on a little secret.....

He needs YOUR help.
He needs YOU to recognize that he isn't avoiding participating because he's too cool or uninterested, but because he feels like he's standing in the middle of a busy sidewalk trying to focus on what you're teaching.

He is only able to catch bits and pieces of what you say over the many other conversations going on around him..
*the chairs moving about..
*the student in front of him that keeps getting in and out of his chair..
*the sounds of your footsteps as you walk the room..
*the hum of the lights..
*the computers that students are working on..
*the tapping of a pencil, clicking of a pen..
*did he remember to bring his assignment for his next class...?
*he has homework from the class before that he really wants to finish...
*he's running the mile today in PE (he doesn't like running and doesn't want to fail)...
*will his friends make it on the bus with him today or will they have to catch the second one...?
*what chores will he have when he gets home...?
*what's for dinner (he's a growing boy after all)...?
*he really wants to catch up on some TV...
*how hard will this class be tomorrow......?

My son's lack of participation in your class has nothing to do with you or his ability to understand and do the work, but everything to do with his inability to focus when there is just too much going on around him.  Even with his medicine some days it's all he can do to understand just a little part of what you are teaching.

It's hard to reach out to the seemingly sullen, inattentive student sitting in the back of the class at times, but hopefully we can all find it in us to figure out each of our students and provide them with the best of us.

Kid Quote of the Week

Out of the mouths of babes.

As teachers we have heard it all, especially teachers of younger students. (Parents ~ if you think your younger children are not listening to you talk, you're so wrong!)  We know everything that is going on at home ~ the burned dinner last night, the older sibling who got grounded, the new pet, the pet that died, EVERY birthday, doctors appointments, did I mention the older sibling whose in trouble?....

I love to hear all the happenings in my students lives, it usually gives me a good laugh (that I have to keep to myself!) or makes me stop and think for a moment (mostly because I wonder if their parents really want the teacher to know ALL the things going on at home!)

So I thought I would start a weekly blog post with my favorite Kid Quote of the Week.

This week's kid quote is brought to you by Carter.  He was sitting by his best friend (totally the odd couple) ~ which is NOT suppose to happen as they talk to much during centers.  I asked them why they were sitting next to each other and Carter's reply was.....

"It's the only seat in the house!" (Picture arms thrown in the air and big six year old attitude!)

His best friend added....

"It's the best seat in house." (Picture a calm and happy kiddo to be sitting by his best friend.)

I didn't make them move apart that day, and they were very well behaved.  I decided to let them sit by each other, it's not worth the six year old boy drama! (Which can be so much worse than six year old girl drama!)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Desk Fairy

Have you had a visit from the Desk Fairy yet this year?!  I have found that a quick visit from the Desk Fairy, who leaves a small treat, helps my students keep their desks and the classroom cleaner.

Super Cute Desk Fairy Coupons to help students keep their desk and area clean.
The Desk Fairy simply looks for clean desks and leaves a little note of encouragement and a treat.
The Desk Fairy Visits!

The Desk Fairy Visits!

If a student's desk is not up to par the Desk Fairy skips over it!
Dirty Desks NO More!  The Desk Fairy to the Rescue!

Students are quickly motivated to clean their desk in the hopes the Desk Fairy will stop by again!  I have made these cute Desk Fairy Coupons that you can print and use in your classroom and the best part is they're FREE!  You can find them HERE in my teacher store.

Desk Fairy Coupons to motivate and give positive reinforcement!
I hope the Desk Fairy stops by your classroom soon!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Class Newsletters Just Got Easier!

Let's talk class newsletters!

I will freely admit that at times I have not been good at sending home a class newsletter monthly or even weekly.  In fact I use to dread the time it would take to sit down and grind out a newsletter, all the time checking dates to make sure I had every activity school wide down for the entire month (because who wants to do this every week!), classroom goals, I can statements, birthdays, parent volunteers, field trips..... Whew!  I would get it set up the way I wanted, cute as a button, printed and put into my students binders and then.... Date changes! Rescheduled events! Cancelled field trips!


I just sent everything home with my students!

Dang it!! I know I could just send a quick, impersonal email though our district system informing parents of the changes,  but I really dislike the impersonal look (read: "NOT CUTE"!) of our district email and I never really know if parents are getting my emails (unless they bounce back) and are actually reading them unless they talk to me personally about the topics in the email.  I know that with a paper copy it usually makes it out of homework binders and I at least know it made it home ~ somewhere.

One day, while cruising through Facebook I came across a sponsored ad for Erin Wing's Classroom Newsletters through    I was intrigued!  It was cute and it was an email with SO much more going on!  I could add links to our district parent portal to check grades and lunch accounts, I could link a direct email response, all the calendar dates could be easily added to any smart phone with just a touch!  I loved it!  
I don't know about you but anything that makes my life run smoother is a huge bonus and this new way of sending classroom newsletters has made them so easy and I don't dread them any more.  Now, I actually look forward to sending classroom newsletters weekly!

I love these emails (actually called campaigns) because not only are they cute, and I can provide direct links for parents to use (district home page, email, websites for homework, etc.), I can also see which parents are actually opening my emails (and I hope reading them) and if they have clicked the links.  I no longer am sending out a paper copy to any of my parents because the emails can be read on ALL smart phones, tablets, or any computer.

Here is the link to Erin Wing's website with a great YouTube video on how to set up an account with MailChimp and a link to her teacher store on Teachers Pay Teachers where you can buy her cute newsletters that are compatible with MailChimp.

I hope this can make your classroom newsletters a little less overwhelming and much easier to use! It has made such a difference in my communication with parents that I will be using it for years to come.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Starting a Blog...Oh My!!

So... I've wanted to start a Blog for a quite some time now but I worried it would be too complicated and do I really have something to say that others would want to read?!  After thinking about it FOREVER I decided to jump in (there's two ways to get into a pool right?! - one toe at a time or cannon ball).  So cannon ball it is and I hope the splash will be as big as the ball! Life is full of adventures and this is just the start of another one.....