Monday, September 12, 2016

Back In The Swing Of Things: Homework Version

So how long have you been in school? We have been in for about 23 days now and things are just now starting to settle down!  My tip for this blog hop is all about Homework.  As a busy mom of 4 I really don't like when teachers pile "it" on.  As a teacher,  I believe it has its advantages when done correctly.....I am not going to go into the battle of to homework vs. no homework right now. For now I am just going to suggest a few tips to help you along your on journey.
1.  Be extremely explanatory to the parents.  Especially as a K/1 teacher. Some of your students may have never been to school or ever had homework so being able to explain what is expected of the students, the parents, and of your self well ahead of time can save you from answering MILLIONS of questions and feeling overwhelmed.  (True story!! Be's tough if your not!)

2.  With the younger kiddos, I strongly believe in keeping it light and fun.  Don't assign 4 different subjects in one night unless each subject takes only about 5 minutes for them to complete. The things you do assign should be things they have already done in class so that they have experience with the task that is at hand.

3. Keep the assignments engaging.  The last thing a busy parent wants is to have a kiddo who pitches a fit EVERY time they have to do their homework. (True story again...and I have 4 of them pitching fits! Can you imagine the talk going on??? "But I don't know how to.." or "Why do I have to do this..." I am sure you have heard a few of those types of statements also. The last thing you want to do is have homework cause grief in the relationships between the parents/guardians and the child.

4. Plan the homework "basics" before school starts.  Make sure you already have in mind: when you will send it home, when it will be due, when/how you will grade it, how much you will give, and relay those plans to parents immediately. (hence #1)

5. Like anything in my class, I like for my homework to be differentiated.  For example, if one of your kiddos is struggling with the Doubles Plus One math strategy, by all means send home an extra practice activity for that PARTICULAR CHILD.  If the others already have that concept down why make them do it again and again???

6.  ALWAYS expect reading to happen.  If nothing else get books in your students hands and have them read to someone or have someone read to them.  To support them at home, you should also send home a handy little "How You Can Help At Home" note that describes the strategies you use in class for decoding and for comprehension.  Parents sometimes have no idea what you mean when you say "Use Chunky Monkey". (hence tip #1) AND it helps extremely if the K/1 kiddos are hearing the same language at home that they hear at school.

If you like where I am going with these tips, you should check out my Homework Resources option pack on TPT.  It has many different homework options, manipulatives, menus, and a new homework game I call the "Homework Roll". You can check it out here:

I hope my little tips encourage you to think about the many sides of homework!
To continue getting in the swing of things, hop on over to my pal Pamela from Pocketful of Centers.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Directed Drawing and a Freebie

I am teaming up with my friends from the I Teach K-2 bloggers for another AWESOME giveaway and Linky.  This month we are talking about Fall and Back to School.

My Back To School "Fall into Fun" tip is really a request for you to take a look at your writing time. I get that their is a time and a place for mini lessons diving into Writing Workshop procedures, grammar, different genres of writing, finger spaces, punctuation, sentences, etc.  However, I am a FIRM believer in letting the kids be kids.  I introduced directed drawings to my class years ago. Then I started getting bogged down with my county saying, "you must teach (this)", rubrics, and data collection. I found that it was becoming more of a "must-do" than a "love to do" scenario. I hated that.  Which brings me to my next point. Let the kids be kids in each aspect of your school day.  I started bringing directed drawing back into my classroom last year and it was SOOOOOO worth it!  The kiddos begin loving to write about their characters and there settings because they were "theirs" in a more realistic sense.  When given the opportunity to draw a really good character through directed drawing, painting, using construction paper, or any other "crafty" way, the student's characters really come to life. The kiddo's eyes just burst with excitement and I can see those lightbulbs for creating more detailed stories flick on brighter than before.  My goal this year is to get back to "fun" and incorporate a directed drawing once a week (or at least once every 2 weeks) this year.  So I offer this to you...........are you willing to step out of the box and have a little fun from your normal everyday Writing Workshop routine?? It's worth it!!

In order to entice you over to the fun side, I am offering a free directed drawing with 4 writing prompt options to help differentiate your classroom needs. This directed drawing is based on Johnny Appleseed and would go great with any Johnny Appleseed unit.

Just click Johnny Appleseed Directed Drawing to get your FREE copy!

Now for some more fun! Enter the Rafflecopter below for your choice to win one of the 2 TpT gift certificates!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for visiting! Now click on over to see what other fun lays ahead!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pencil Sharpener

Before I get into this topic, I just want to say that I actually sharpen all of the pencils in my class for my kiddos.  It just makes management for transitions, lost pencils, and broken pencils so much easier for me.  By the end of First grade I usually allow them to venture over to my electric sharpener to start taking responsibility of their own pencils. Then I started hearing about this magical sharpener......So of corse I had to try it for myself! I mean sharpening 40 some pencils every Friday afternoon is not really my idea of Happy Hour! As I said before, I have heard wonderful things about this sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies from several of my coworkers and I couldn't wait to try it out in my classroom for myself.  I have to say that I am overall impressed with the quality.

There were several "pros" and "cons" that I found in this product.  I will start with the cons......

1.  When I received the sharpener I was SUPER excited, only to open the package to see it was damaged.  Not damaged with its inner workings, just on the exterior of the sharpener.  This really doesn't bother me too much but it may some people.  (I did not contact anyone about getting a replacement. I am sure that if I would have, they would have done something to fix the problem.)

2.  The price......$24.99.....That is a lot for my teacher pockets.
3. The sharpener did not come with any kind of manual or set up guide.  However, I did receive an email with a link for trouble shooting and other information.
4. This sharpener is not easy for little hands to just jump right in and go for it.  I teach in a K/1 classroom and there is no way I could just say go sharpen your pencil using this.  It would require a whole mini lesson at the beginning of the year modeling (several times) before they would be able to do it.  Some of there little hands are just not capable of the pinching, pulling, and turning that this product needs in order to work properly.  However you may always have those 1-2 kiddos you could show one time and they would be good to go! See below:

The "pro's":
1.  It is small and VERY quiet!
2.  It is perfect for 3rd grade and up. They could easily manage this piece of equipment on their own.
3.  It can attach to most surfaces with its little "hook" and if you are looking for a more permanent way of attaching, the company sells brackets that can do just that.

4.  It works very quickly.
5.  The pencils are the sharpest pencils I have every seen in my life.

Well, I believe that does it for my quick review.  Do you have a favorite sharpener? Love to hear about it if you do!!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tips of the Trade (Giveaway AND Freebie)

Back to school is always a crazy time of year for everyone.  I have teamed up with a few of my blogging buddies to bring you an AWESOME hop full of freebies and a HUGE giveaway.

My contribution to our back to school hop can help you get through Day 1 successfully. Here are a few Tips of the Trade that I have used over the years:

1. This tip is important all year long.....Hugs in and out of the door.  When I say this I mean you should always greet your kiddos at the door as they are coming in and leaving. It builds a sense of trust and a foundation for a good relationship between you and your kiddos. It doesn't have to be a hug. It could be a high-five, a hand shake, a thumbs up, eye contact as you squat down to say hello or will know your kids best. I often ask them which they would prefer to do. Remember, this may be the only positive interaction some of these kiddos have all day!

2. Don't badger them with all of the rules at once.  I start with only 2 rules in the class for the first 1-2 days. Be kind and raise your hand (mostly because I can't handle everyone yelling at me at once and constant tap, tap, tapping on my side.) I have found in my many years of teaching that focusing on these 2 concepts at the very beginning helps to build a classroom family that truly loves each other.

3. Go NOODLE!!! The first day of school we Go Noodle like 6 times. This process really relaxes the kiddos and gets those nerves out. The funnier you are dancing, the more the kiddos will respond to you in the future. It allows the kiddos to see you at their level, having fun WITH them!

4. Have a classroom scavenger hunt.  Give the kiddos objects to find in the classroom like the pencil sharpener, the bathroom, the glue sticks, the expo markers, the clipboards, etc.  Tel them they can work together or alone. Whatever floats their boat.  This activity will not only allow them to get to know their surroundings better, but it also encourages them to build trust and relationships with their peers.

5.  Tour your school.  By this I do NOT mean walk to each place then say, "Here is the cafeteria".  I mean to actually go to the area and actually explain and model what is expected from them and what they can expect from you or any other adult that might be around.  For example, if you go to the cafeteria, take them through the line and model how to say their name or student number. Introduce them to the cafeteria workers. Then proceed to the actual table they will sit at. At the table model quiet voices and proper manners.  All of this modeling is done through you talking and the kiddos sharing their experiences.  Places that I suggest you tour are: the clinic (they should say hello to the nurses), the office (they should say hello to the secretaries), the cafeteria, the bus loop, the playground, the car rider area, and the walker/biker area. Remember to model clear expectations at each spot. Allow the kiddos to model good examples and non examples.

This would be a non example! :0)

6. HAVE FUN!!!  This is perhaps the most important on the first day. As a teacher you want the kiddos to come to school to learn. As a student you want to come to school to have fun.  Learning can be fun and there is no better time to set the tone for that than the first day of school. Play, dance, sing, and experiment together.  A few of my favorites are leap frog, sight word back writing, magic play dough, jitter juice, and did I mention Go Noodle? ;0)

By putting the effort in at the beginning of the year it will create a learning environment that your students will feel successful, safe, and productive in after just a few weeks into the school year.
Hard a work during Readers Workshop.

My FREEBIE for you tonight is a set of teaching posters and book shopping cards.

If you like the shopping cards, I have a great  emergent reader that explains How To Shop for books using the shopping cards.  You can get it for only 1.50 in my TpT store.  Just click How To Shop In A Classroom Library

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Christmas in July means a HUGE Giveaway!!!

I am so excited to be apart of this SALE and GIVEAWAY.  There are 3 different ways to get great stuff during this event. First, from July 6th-9th my entire store (along with several other stores in this linky) will be 20% off.
Second, we are all linking up to share a FREEBIE. Just click on the picture below to grab my freebie. Then follow the other blog links (at the end of this post) to grab some more!

This freebie has 3 different letters to Santa for you to choose from. The letters focus on learning the difference between a need and a want.

Third, enter the giveaway below for your chance to win BIG!!

There are FIVE fabulous prizes!  We have 3 $50 TpT gift cards, 1 $50 Target gift card, and $100 to Teaching in the Tongass clipart! Her clipart is awesome. If you would like to preview it before entering, just click the link above!

Hurry up and enter!!! Good Luck!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Kwik Stix Give Away #2

I have another wonderful giveaway for you this week.  You can win  a 6 pack of Neon Kwik Stix AND a 6 pack of their Primary colors. Before you enter to win, check out my review of this fabulous product!
I love Kwik Stix and have reviewed them on my blog in a previous post. You can read it here.
My review is much the same as in my original post with a few new findings.

These are true tempera paints but in glue stick form. No water, no paint brushes, just the stick! This wonderful product comes to us by The Pencil Grip, Inc. I had the honor of testing these out  in my classroom with my kiddos. They are AWESOME and will definitely be on my supply “wish list” from now on.

  1. There is NO more paint tray mess. Students just remove the lid, use it like a glue stick, then put the lid back on.
  2. The colors are soooo much brighter as you can see in the pictures.
  3. There are NO more water spills because you don’t need water to activate the paint.
  4. The Stix come in a plastic tray that can help keep them from rolling around the table.
  5. The paint dries in 90 seconds.
  6. The kids LOVE them.
  7. They are super easy for Pre-K and K students to use.
The actual size of the Kwik Stix is like a glue stick.

**The only negatives I could find:
  1. The Kwik Stix are fat making it hard to get into small corners or circles in the drawings. This could easily be fixed by just rubbing the top of the Kwik Stix with a paint brush and then onto the paper. I have been told that since my last review the company has put skinny/thin tip Kwik Stix into production but there is no word when they will be available yet.
  2. You can get a 6 pack for 5.99. So to have enough for lets say 20 kiddos you would have to spend about $119.00 OR you could purchase their 96 pack for $96.00 (That seems quiet pricey to me.) - Maybe you could just purchase 4 of the 5.99 pack and switch out which teams get to use them.............
  3. They don't come in multiple skin colors. (Maybe that is something the company will add...)
I firmly believe that students should be learning how to use all different types of mediums when creating art so this will by all means not replace the watercolors and other paints in my classroom but it is definitely a fun new addition to our art tools.

You could have these in your classroom too! I have been given permission by this company to have a giveaway featuring their awesome product. The giveaway prize will include a 6 pack of their Neon Kwik Stix AND a 6 pack of their Primary colors. 
All you have to do is enter the Rafflecopter below! I just know you will love these as much as I do. Good Luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
If by chance you do not win this AWESOME prize, the company has given me a coupon to share with you. Just go to their site at The Pencil Grip Inc., load up your cart, and enter the coupon code below:

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Water/Field Day Ideas AND TpT 2016 Conference INFO

I wanted to share how we end the year in Kindergarten and First Grade in my school. We have always done a special Water Day or Field Day that lasts all day. For several years we have always done Field day in the morning before it gets too hot then took a break for lunch (picnic outside or in classrooms depending on the weather), changed into swimsuits, and then completed our day with water activities. Some activities for FIELD DAY that we have done in the past include: tug of war, musical chairs, the parachute games, crab soccer, three legged race, balance the egg on the spoon, bean bag toss, hula hoops and jump ropes, scooter relay, and ice pops. 

Then we would switch to Water Day and play games such as: side walk chalk paint, tons of little pools, bubbles with bubble wands, water squirters, Duck Duck Splash (stick a baby pool in the center of a circle of kiddos and play duck duck goose - they have to sit in the pool if they are caught), Polar Plunge Relay (fill a little pool with ice and water - they run to the end jump in to get their entire body wet climb out and run back to their team---this was hard in FL...the ice kept melting so the water wasn't very cold), water ball toss, and a sponge bucket Car Wash relay. All of these games were super FUN, however, it took a TON of planning and effort to get it put together. We have 10 teachers on our team so this task was huge.  We often had to double up in the stations and then it became hectic and not so fun.
The above pic was last years CRAZY schedule.

This year we decided to simplify it. We are combing the Water and Field day into one and completing the rotations in about 2 hours. We are also using this time to focus on some developmental gross motor skills while having fun. That is always the best, when the kids are having sooooooo much FUN that they don't even realize that they are learning. The rotations we are doing involve hula hoops, sponges, small kiddie pools, bubbles, ice pops, and water balloons. (side note, if you haven't tried them yet, Bunch-o-balloons are FABULOUS!!!!!)

If you would like to see our rotation, game descriptions, or to try some of these ideas for your own class, click End Of Year Water and Field Day Fun...........

NOW for the BIG news........Are you going to the 2016 Orlando TPT Conference??? I am AND I am hosting a fabulous Meet and Greet with several of my Florida blogger friends.  It is free of cost, has tons of giveaways, and over 500 Swag Bags (for the first 500 people to sign up) filled with goodies that you don't want to miss! The best part is that as of now, the entire TpT headquarters has RSVP'ed!  This is your chance to meet them if you haven't been able to in the past.  

It is called the Florida Welcome Social it is on July 12th at 6:30pm in the Dolphin Conference Room it is FREE to attend. If you would like to join us to click here and "join" the group on Facebook! 

That's it, easy peasy!! I hope to see you there!

One more thing before I go to help you celebrate the end of your school year, enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win 1 of 3 TpT gift cards. Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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