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Back to School

Team Back to School Gift

Back to School

This year I decided to get my teaching team a little gift for Back to School. I am starting at a new school and am on a team with 4 other first grade teachers.  Target Dollar Spot has so many fun goodies I decided to make them a little treat bag with a few of those items.

The Dollar Spot has cute to-do list paper and binder clips. I love the ones that say – to grade, to file, to send home – so fun!  I also got the bright yellow bags and tissue paper from this area! I picked up some Ink Joy pens (not from the dollar section unfortunately) to share with them too!

So here is the final product! It’s just a little something, but a fun way to start of the school year with your team!

Do you do team gifts? If so, comment below and let me know what you do.

Books for the First Week of School

Back to School, Books

Please note Amazon affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience.  As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

So, I love picture books and I especially love picture books that serve multiple purposes. Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite books to use during the first few weeks of school.  These books can also be found on my Amazon List – Back to School Books.

First Day of School Books:

I always start the first day of school every year with the book First Day Jitters.  It’s a cute book that gets some of those nerves and jitters out of the way.  I also like that it shows that teachers are nervous too.

PIctures of Back to School Books - FIrst Day Jitters, The Night Before First Grade, First Grade Jitters, Wemberly Worried, Chrysanthemum

Be Kind Books:

Teaching social skills and life lessons are extremely important during the first week. These books are great for talking about being kind and respectful to one another.

Picture of books - Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, Peanut Butter & Cupcake, Have You Filled a Bucket Today, Thelma the Unicorn, Hooway for Wodney Wat

Classroom Management:

The first few weeks of school are full of learning about classroom expectations and procedures. I love using the books below to discuss some of those topics.  These books are also good to bring up throughout the school year if an issue arises.

Picture of books - I've Won, Ruthie and the Not So Teeny Tiny Lie, Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen, The Boy Who Wouldn't Share, Tattle Tongue

Growth Mindset:

Growth Mindset is such a valuable skill for kids to learn. I love using these books to talk about it in kid friendly ways.  It’s important for kids to know that it’s ok to make mistakes and that they won’t be perfect at everything on the first go – and these books do a great job of explaining that.

Picture books - The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes, The Most Magnificent Thing, ish

Those are some of my favorites. What are your favorite back to school books? Comment below…

Meet the Teacher Tip

Back to School

Back to School Season is quickly approaching!! Today I wanted to share with you a tip for Meet the Teacher.  Meet the Teacher is an event that takes place before the first day where the kids come in see the classroom and most importantly – meet you! Some schools call it Orientation or Open House – either way this tip will still apply to you!

Meet the Teacher can be a chaotic day.  You have all of your new students and their families coming in and they always seem to come in waves!  And of course they tend to all come at the same time.  I don’t know about you, but I do find it tricky to try to navigate this situation. You want to make sure everyone feels welcome, gets equal time with you, and gets the info they need for the start of the school year. This can be tricky!  It is hard to give everyone equal time when you have multiple families in there at once!  So definitely move around the room and make sure you touch base with everyone.

My tip though is to make sure that everyone gets the info they need for the start of the school year. As I mentioned, your time with each new family goes quickly! Families often want to talk specifically about their child and don’t always get in to the basic school details.  So, I play a PowerPoint during Meet the Teacher. It’s just a few simple slides that play on loop throughout the whole day.  These slides as you’ll see below have the basic info that every parent needs for the first day.  This also saves you from repeating yourself a billion times about some of those details….

Here are the slides I include:

As you can see this PowerPoint isn’t fancy, but it is useful!  Be sure to follow my Instagram and Facebook page for more Back to School ideas!



Friday Favorites – Community Building Activities

Back to School

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of August is focused on back to school.

Check out past Friday Favorites…
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids’ Favorite Series
Book Studies
Tech Apps

PBL Activities
Teaching Supplies
Back to School Books

I’m excited to share some of my favorite community building activities with you today! Many of these I actually did this past week which was the first week of school. I love team building activities and think it’s important that we really focus on building that community the first few weeks of school because it makes everyone feel more comfortable.

Bucket Filling – Such a great book and a great activity to continue all year long. This book talks about how we all have an invisible bucket above our head. When good things happen, drops go in the bucket and our bucket becomes fuller. When bad things happen or someone says something mean to you, drips go out over you bucket and your bucket starts to empty. It’s a great visual for kids. After reading, I always explain our bucket filling area. The students can write positive bucket filling notes to each other and put them in their buckets (Ziploc bags). Great way to promote positivity and kindness!

Find Someone Who – I don’t have a picture of this one, but there are many versions out there. This is a great first week activity that allows students to get to know one another and find things that they might have in common with others.  For example, find someone who has an older sibling.  Great activity for early in the school year.

Cup Tower Challenge – This activity is all over Pinterest. You give each team the same number of cups, a time limit, and their goal is to build the tallest tower possible with the cups. I love activities like this that focus on the kids working together for a common goal!

Dice Challenge – This is a Minute to Win It Game that I changed up a bit. This activity is again done in teams.  One student holds the craft stick while the other students stack dice on the end.  They have one minute to get as many dice as possible on the craft stick. At the end of the minute, the team with the most dice on the stick win! I will say I tried this out and it is not as easy as it looks! Requires a lot of coordination, but the kids had fun working on it!

Paper Chain Challenge – Another activity I found on Pinterest.  Again, students are in teams so it’s giving them a chance to work together and work on problem solving skills. Each group got one piece of paper, a pair of scissors, and a glue stick. The challenge was to build the longest paper chain using only one piece of paper! I was quite impressed with this group below – they made their chain quite long!!!
Snap Cube Challenge – I found the Snap Cube cards at Keeping My Kiddo’s and Kinder’s Busy… you can find them…here.  Then, I had students work with their team to build all 9 snap cube figures. They then had to take a picture of each creation. The first team finished with all 9 won! 
Thank you for checking out my favorite community building activities. Since Summer is coming to an end so is my Friday Favorite Blog Post Series – but stay tuned for many more blog posts and teaching ideas!

Classroom Reveal 2017

Back to School

I’m excited to share my classroom with you today! Many things are the same as last year, but I have added some things and can’t wait to tell you all about my room!  My room is prime real estate at my school because I have 4 windows! Yes – 4 good sized windows. I love the natural light. In addition to 4 windows, I have a great view of the Las Vegas Strip from one of my windows. I definitely hit the jackpot with classrooms!

Here is the bulletin board I have right outside my classroom. I typically create a simple bulletin like this for Meet the Teacher and the first week of school. Then, I turn it into my student work board. I use ribbon and hang the student work with clothespins. The clothespins make it super easy to change work out.
This is one of my favorite bulletin boards of all time – My Instagram Board.  I have each month of school on the board and then will put pictures from that month under the label.  I love this because it’s a great way to capture memories throughout the year and showcase them in a timeline of sorts.
Here’s the view when you walk in my classroom. As you can see, many windows (and you can only see 2 of them). I love windows because you can see out and don’t feel enclosed, but also because it provides a lot of natural light. In the afternoons, we’re often able to work with the lights off because of how bright it is from the outside light.
Here you can also see my desks. I currently have 15 students, but decided to use 16 desks and put them in groups of 4. I like students to be grouped together because I will often have students work with teams and partners and I want them to be able to collaborate.
I won’t show you the inside of my closet because it’s not pretty lol – but it is better since I cleaned some stuff out last spring. The plastic bags are my “buckets” for bucketfilling. Each child has a bucket that will hold positive notes.
Here is my back wall. Students use the cubbies to hold books, lunches, snacks, etc. They then hang their backpacks on the hooks. As you can see, I have my job chart back here and my Brag Tag display.
Here is my reading area.  From this angle, you can see the picture book section of my library. My bulletin board is blank, but that is on purpose. I use lots of anchor charts so this will become full as I make those with my class.
Here you can see the rest of my library. I have the books in bins divided by catagories – nonfiction, animal, Judy Moody, Cam Jansen, Mystery, etc.
Here is my Writing Bulletin Board. Again it is blank because I like to have the students help me create the anchor charts that will be displayed. I also have a section of this board called “Spotlight On…” This area is to spotlight student writing. I pick a focus area like adding details and then pin up student work that is strong in this area.
I love, love, love, love my white board kidney table. This is my small group area and the white board table makes life much easier!
The white board is where I list our homework. Students have planners that they copy the homework and due dates into.  The cards below are the Literacy Station Task Cards.
So, my desk area is a little messy – and it always is! I have a hard time coming up with a system that keeps it clean, but I always try to figure something out every year.
Behind my desk, I have some great organizational tools. I love using the 3-drawer Sterilite containers for storing my items for the week. It’s super easy and makes life easier when you have a sub. I also love my toolbox! This helps keep everything in it’s place!
I use this table to keep things that I’m working on with the kids that day. This table also holds my JustStand. I use the JustStand to hold my iPad and use my iPad like a document camera!
Here’s my main white board. We also have a projector which makes life easy!  I also have my word wall under the white board. I love that the students have easy access to the words and can take them with them to their desk when they need help with spelling.
I have a second white board table! This is also used for small groups. We are very lucky as we have learning support teachers who come in during small group time. They pull a group at this table, I pull a group at my kidney table, and the rest of the students are working on independent activities.
In this corner you can see my Essential Questions. I have these posted for students to refer to. You can also see the side of my math manipulative storage area.
Here is my math and supply area. Again the bulletin board has a blank space so that I can put anchor charts up.  I have my math manipulatives on one side and supplies (crayons, markers, scissors, etc) on the other. All are stored in containers with labels to make finding things easy.
Here is the last area in my classroom – we kind of made a little circle in this blog tour. I have many different things stored here. The top shelf has math and literacy games stored in bins by topics.  The second and third shelf have books that I use when teaching. These books are organized by topic and teaching area.  The fourth shelf has my writing station materials.  On the ground, which you can’t see, I store my math station bins.
That was a lengthy post, but thank you for staying with me. I hope you enjoyed a peek at my classroom/home away from home!

First Day of School – 2017

Back to School

I wanted to share with everyone what we did on our first day yesterday.  We had a great first day full of lots of fun and learning – mainly procedures and expectations, but we did start with a little math and writing today.

Check out what we did below….

Here was our schedule. It was weird writing all of this on the board again. I need to get back in all of the routines!
Our Morning Message during Morning Meeting was focused on things they’re excited to learn this year. As you can see, many are excited to work on division. They were not as excited when I told them we don’t go over that until January.
For Morning Meeting Activity, I always start with this Finish the Picture activity. Unfortunately there is no copyright so I’m not sure where I got it. I love starting with this because it gives the kids a chance to be creative and work on something with no right or wrong answers. They can turn the doodles into anything they want and then I have them share their picture with the table groups.
I did give a test yesterday morning. I’m going to be doing Math Rotations this year so lots of small group work.  For this, I’m going to be giving pre-tests before we begin a unit so I know where each child is at. I’m hoping this will help me differentiate more and meet the needs of all of my learners.
Of course we did a first day of school picture – although I’m kicking myself because I totally forgot to get a whole class picture. I decided to jump in and get a picture too. Although – this is not my first day of second grade lol.
In the afternoon, I had the students work on a tower building challenge. Each table group had the same number of cups and their goal was to build the highest tower. The winning group gets to pick our GoNoodle Brain Breaks the next day. Each day this week I’ve found a challenge/STEM activity that we’ll work on. I like these because it gives the kids a chance to work together, practice teamwork, and it’s great for me to observe them in different situations.
**The winning tower!

We did work on some other things but I was unable to get pictures of everything. It was a whirlwind of a day that started with a thunderstorm and rain and also had a solar eclipse!  Check out my Instagram and Facebook throughout the week for more first week ideas!

Friday Favorites – Back to School Books

Back to School, Reading

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of July is focused on technology and academic areas.

Check out past Friday Favorites…
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids’ Favorite Series
Book Studies
Tech Apps

PBL Activities

Today I’m excited to share with you some of my favorite books for the first week back to school! I’m sure some of these will be old favorites, but I hope to introduce you to maybe a new one or two as well.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg – This one surprises me every year. This is always the first book I read to students and I think it has been since I started teaching 11 years ago. Every year I ask students if they have heard this book before (I teach 2nd) and surprisingly the majority of the class says no.  Great book to discuss the jitters and nervousness that accompany the first day! It shows students that teachers also have some first day jitters too!

ish by Peter Reynolds – One of my favorite back to school books! This book discusses that it’s ok if things aren’t perfect.  As long as you are doing your best that is all that matters!

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein – This book is great for the perfectionist child.  I was one of these and am still one as an adult. It’s a funny story, but covers the important life lesson that it’s ok to make mistakes and no one is perfect.

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires – I use this book to introduce Project Based Learning. This is a great book that also focuses on growth mindset.

Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook – This book has been one of my favorite back to school books for many years.  Kids love, love, love to tattle. It does a great job covering what is a tattle and what is actually important to tell. It even has a cute little chant!

The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill – I love this book! This book is a great book to use when going over recess expectations. It covers sharing, being kind to one another, etc.

Don’t Squeal Unless It’s a Big Deal by Jeanie Franz Ransom – I use this book the first week to discuss tattling.  Tattling is a big deal in the lower grades and discussing it using picture books tends to resonate more with the kids.

And I got two new books that I haven’t used before…

Spaghetti In a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy – This book has been recommended by many teachers and I’m excited to use it the first week to discuss how we’re all different and unique in our own ways.

Back to School Rules by Laurie Friedman: I’m planning to use this book when we discuss creating rules during my Johnson Elementary PBL.  To learn more about that PBL project – click here

What are some of your favorite back to school books? Comment below….

Next week, I’ll be sharing some of favorite community building activities to use the first few weeks of school.

Friday Favorites – Teaching Supplies

Back to School, Organization

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of July is focused on technology and academic areas.

Check out past Friday Favorites…
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids’ Favorite Series
Book Studies
Tech Apps

PBL Activities

Today I’m excited to share with some of my favorite teaching supplies! I’ve always loved office supplies. Even when I was a kid I loved looking at all of the pretty pens and papers in the office supply stores. Maybe that was my early calling to be a teacher as we get to work with office/school supplies often! Below are some of my favorites that I use every school year….

Scotch Laminator – This is a must have and I don’t know what I did before owning one. Yes, you can use the school laminator, but we all know how that goes. There is a line, it’s broken, it’s out of film, etc.  Having your own makes life easier and everything always looks pretty laminated!
Image result for scotch laminator

Flair Pens – This is another must for most teachers I know. Flair Pens are the best pens in my opinion. They are bright and colorful and write so nicely! I love using them for everything at school and at home!
Image result for flair pens

PaperPro Stapler – This is one of the best staplers I’ve ever bought. A simple push makes it staple easily! Hanging things on the wall is also easier too, but you have to be careful because it opens up to staple on the wall in a funky way. But, once you get the hang of it, it works so well!
Image result for paper pro stapler

Ticonderoga Pencils – Best pencils ever! We have different pencils that we have to use at our school and they drive me crazy. They’re always breaking and take forever to sharpen. Ticondergoa are the best ones. And, they even have packages where they come pre-sharpened!
Image result for ticonderoga pencils

Chart Paper – I love to use Anchor Charts in my classroom and my bulletin boards and walls are typically covered with them. So, chart paper is a necessity! I know some people like the sticky post-it chart paper, but I personally prefer they regular good, old plain chart paper.
Image result for chart paper

White Board Kidney Table – So I know you can’t see the whole table, but this shows you how awesome it is to have a white board table. It makes pulling small groups so easy and the kids can do their math work, writing work, phonics work, etc right there on the table. The kids think it’s fun too!  They have different sizes and shapes.  I have a kidney shaped and rectangle shaped white board table in my classroom.

Post-It Notes – I use Post-It’s for everything! We use them to respond to our morning message, as bookmarks, to write notes, to do lists, etc. I can never have enough!
Image result for post it notes

Sit Spots – I had been a classroom rug user before, but after getting Sit Spots this past fall I’ve switched over to Team Sit Spots.  These are easier to keep clean than a rug and you aren’t tripping over them. I can’t tell you how many times my old classroom rug would get a bump in it or get stuck on something and I ended up tripping over it.  The Sit Spots are bright, colorful and you can position them wherever you want!  Love it!

Plastic Storage Containers – Oh Sterilite- with how many plastic containers I own, I should buy stock in your company. I know I’m not alone in the hoarding of storage containers, I know there are many teachers who join me in this obsession. And, you can never have enough! If you see them on sale, you have to buy them because you never know when you’ll need it. I have containers in all shapes and sizes and they are amazing for organization!
What are some of your favorite must-have teaching supplies? Comment below.
Thanks for stopping by and checking out my favorite supplies! Next week I’ll be sharing my favorite Back to School/First Week of School books.

Quick Tip – Student Computer Log-Ins

Back to School, Organization

For some reason…and I have never understood this…each computer program at school has to have a very different log-in for the kiddos.  Some are first initial, last name.  Some require half of the last name. Some require capitals and numbers etc. I have a hard time remembering my eight billion log-ins and I know it’s no different from kids.  Last year I started a log-in card system that worked beautifully! I’m using it again this year and it is a lifesaver!

I start out by printing out labels for each program we have. This year we have AR, MobyMax, Pearson Realize, and Spelling City.  I have one page of address labels per app.  I label it with the title of the app and leave a blank spot by username and password. Then, I fill in the eight million different user names and passwords on the labels and stick them to the cards with the student’s name label on it. Voila- easy access. I hang it by the front white board and students can refer to it as needed, take it to their seats, etc.  It has saved me a lot of time and makes it easier for kids to be more independent with logging in to the computer program.

Classroom Jobs

Back to School, Organization
In an effort to simplify my life and make classroom jobs easier to manage, I’ve decided to only change jobs once a month.  So each student has their job for one whole month!  In the past, I changed jobs weekly.  This was difficult for 2 reasons. 1 – I often forgot to change them on Monday, which would then turn into Tuesday and students only had jobs for a few days.  2. -The kids often forgot what job was their job and didn’t have that down until Thursday or Friday and by that time it was almost time for the new week and time to switch.
I saw many teachers on Pinterest and through blogging that change it once a month and I definitely see the perks! Kids have a chance to become really good at their job.  Kids know exactly what their job is and know it’s their job since they have it for a whole month.  And, it takes one thing off my plate every week since I only have to change jobs once a month.
Since I decided to do jobs differently, I also made a new job chart.  I made the headers/backgrounds in PowerPoint and then used a push pin to put each student’s name up there.
Here are the different jobs and what their task is:
  • Star Student – this will change weekly. Every child has a chance to be Star Student during the school year.  I pick a different child each week. This student gets to take home a poster to fill out about themselves and share it with the class during the week. This student is also my assistant of sorts who helps with any task that needs assistance.
  • Door Holder – this one is pretty self evident 🙂
  • Greeter – This student greets adults who come into the classroom and let’s them know what we are working on.  We often have visitors (staff, admin) and prospective parents and students on tours so a greeter is a great way for them to feel comfortable and know what we are working on in our classroom.
  • iPad Helpers – We are so lucky to have enough iPads for it to be 1 to 1 in our classroom. The iPad Helpers help with distributing the iPads, questions about them, and plugging them in at the end of the day.
  • Snack Assistant – The Snack Assistant goes around and distributes hand sanitizer to all of the students.
  • Lights Helper – Another job that is pretty explanatory. 🙂
  • Library Helpers – These students help keep my classroom library clean and handle returning books to our school library.
  • Homework Helpers – These students help me pass things out and help with organizing our homework bin in the morning.
  • Clean Up Helpers – Clean Up Helpers help make sure everything looks neat and tidy at the end of the day.
  • Cubby Patrol – Cubbies tends to get messy and kids tend to leave things in their forever.  So, Cubby Patrol monitors the cubbies every day so things don’t pile up.
  • Table Captains – There is one table captain per table group in my classroom. They are in charge of passing out papers to their tables.

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