Saturday, May 14, 2016

Already Looking NEXT September (And a FUN FREEBIE!)

I know, I know...I still have five weeks left of THIS school year.  But I just can't help myself!  I'm already thinking about my classroom next year.  I've been getting out my go-to/must-have September activities like poems for binders and my Math Open-Ended Question booklets.  Are copies made already and tucked away?  Yep.  A lovely office helper had extra time so she made lots of copies for me so far.  (Rocket Math, BTSN Materials, etc.)  Jumping the gun? Nah.  Just getting prepared.  It helps take away some stress in August/September so and I can concentrate more on the teaching part of teaching instead of the time suck of prepping and wrestling with the copy machine.  I Hope to have my must-haves copied through November by the the end of school this year.  Wish me luck!

Now it's time to select ten projects I'm going to work on  that I saw on Pinterest.  I've selected one so far.  See these chairs?  I have six of them now and have created little seating nooks:

I want to transform them to something amazing and will use this lovely chair I saw on Pinterest as my inspiration!  (I tried to link it to site it came from to give credit but it says Account Frozen.  I will check back and link if it gets fixed.)

                                                                 Isn't is adorable?

I just finished a Freebie product for September/October: Word Wizard Make-a-Words! They are the perfect way to teach and reinforce sound/letter combinations.  It's a FUN and EFFECTIVE ativity that my students look forward to each week.  I hope you can use the packet and maybe even start YOUR OWN SEPTEMBER 2015 FILE NOW!  It's never too early!  Enjoy!!

Have a great weekend!!!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Retelling Woes: Problem Solved!

Some of the kids in my class have really struggled with retellings this year.  It's a scratch-my-head moment each time I see a child struggle because I've worked so hard to model them- oral and written-several times a week. Some tell a little of the beginning and basically jump to the end. What's the rush?  It's almost like the middles have been zapped away!  This is true for both written and oral retells.  

My struggling students weren't engaged in the retells at all. Were the stories too long?  That's what I assumed. So I've tried to have them practice with shorter stories with a clean, crisp story line like Ezra Jack Keats' books. Simple. Classic. Relatable. But I wasn't having too much luck with them either.  

So, I adapted my retelling anchor chart and made a retelling sheet that's fun to use. A Punch Card!  

How do I use it?  So glad you asked!  Partners each get a card and after retelling story to themselves to practice, (a must!) they get to tell story to each other.  As each one tells story, the partner punches the square as they say the words in the box and continue on with the details.  Ever since I started using them, the kid have rocked retellings!  Seriously.  Who knew a little punch would mean so much to them?  

Before I introduced the cards, I had them practice being MY PUNCHER as I retold stories. But PUNCHING is only part of their partner duties.  It's important for them to not only practice the punch part, but the other "P" part, too!  Yep- they are officially PPPs.  Punch and Prompt Partners.

Last week I read The Sandwich Swap to them and all the kids did a super job at retelling this lovely story.  Click here for a link to the video I found online.  if you don't have the book.

It's one of my favorite books with a great message on tolerance and friendship. If you want to watch it and try out the retelling above, click the retelling pic above.  It's a freebie that I hope you can use. If you have a different book you want to use, just white out the title and write the new title in.  No biggie!  I hope it motivates your little ones as much as it has mine.

So do you have any tips for retellings for me?  I'm all ears and eager to keep my kiddos on track now that they seem to finally have the knack for it.  All tips welcome!

Happy Punching!!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Milestone Celebration! Flash Freebie!

I'm so thankful for my milestone that I'm offering this fun Flash Freebie for the next week. It's also going to be featured/linked on the TpT Facebook page sometime this coming week.  Included are some partner/interactive activities.  Grab it and enjoy!

Kids love the wheel!  How do you use it?  See this post here.

If you already bought this from me, please send me your user name and pick out another one of these Practice Makes Perfect Homophone Packets...I don't want you to miss out on freebie fun!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Lions and Tigers and an Idea...Oh, my! (Problem Solved!)

Aren't these beautiful?

These are First Grader students with our Art Teacher, Jill Ward.  She is amazing and the kids adore her! I love seeing how the kids' projects turn out so differently.  I so wish I had an art teacher like Jill when I was a kid.  My Catholic School didn't have art, music, gym or any other extra teachers. Sigh.  

This is from a Kindergarten student.  So cute!

My idea to share?  In my school, most of the art is kept in the art room until the big show at the end of the year.  Some of it is displayed of course but there's way too much to display every single project, correct?  So why not ask your art teacher to borrow some to display in your classroom?  Can't think of an idea for your outside BB in March?  Problem Solved! Ask her (or him!)  for one of your kids' projects!  I'm grabbing some of these amazing lions for my windows in my classroom.  They sure will brighten up my room, won't they?


Saturday, February 20, 2016

Creating a "Zen Den" at School

One of our School Goals this year is Health and Wellness for students and teachers.  We've increased Brain Breaks, have Yoga at lunch for the kids on rainy days, have quick meetings while walking around the gym, etc. But my favorite move toward achieving this goal for the teachers?  The Zen Den!  It's a very small room (storage!) that's been transformed to a quiet, peaceful, reflective escape.

When you walk through the door, you're greeted by the soft sounds of some "spa" music from an iPod, a few dozen quotes and Power Words on the walls, a lovely Essential Oil Lavender aroma in a soft-lit room (lamps were brought in) and the sound of trickling water.  I had to put my flash on for these pics.  Quiet and peaceful.  A welcome change!


For our kickoff, we had three days of fruit/cucumber infused water, hummus and pita chips, veggies and some other healthy snacks.

Lotions, books, and a file folder full of quotes/words for us to take back to our classrooms... Candles are battery operated and truly added to the peaceful feeling.

I love these coloring pages and can understand why they are so popular at the moment.  I started this one day and someone continued working on it the next..,

We had comfy chairs around our table and off to the side was the massage chair. On Friday, teachers were treated to a visit from a massage therapist!  This was supposed to be a three day event but we are working on making it a permanent fixture in our school.  I visited during lunch all three days and during a few prep periods and truly felt refreshed.  I hope our Zen Den is here to stay!


Friday, February 19, 2016

A Friendly Numbers Freebie!

We're currently working on finding Friendly Numbers when adding.  This means we're trying to find combinations of ten OR doubles to help us add with speed and accuracy. It's just another tool students can choose to use.  I have six worksheets that I made for this week. Feel free to grab by clicking on any of the pics!  Two of the worksheets are perfect for a partner activity: kids make them to solve for a friend (Or you can plug in higher numbers!) They can be used over and over again!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Miss Yumi for my Students, Jane the Virgin for Me!

I mentioned a few posts back how much I loved discovering Miss Yumi's YouTube channel.  Have you visited it yet?  Does this preschool teacher ever sleep?  Look at all the uploads in the past MONTH alone:

One of my kiddos recently said, "The stories just make me happy, you know?"  So simple.  So sweet. So heartfelt.

Besides Storylineonline, any more suggestions out there?  Looking for sites that show pics/read aloud.  If you know of any good ones, I'm all ears!

Now for adult stuff...I just starting watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix.  Love, love, love, love, love, love...

LOVE!  Seriously, the show just makes me happy! It's super quirky but oh, so sweet.  I'm addicted already!  If you ever watched/loved Ugly Betty, than you'd love this show too.  I feel like Betty is about to pop up on the screen at any moment.  If you are looking for some lighthearted, a bit over-the-top fun, this just may fit the bill!

The stories just make me happy, you know?  :)

Any Netflix suggestions? Again, I'm open!

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Very First Squiggle Writer May Surprise You...(And Free Squiggles!)

I love, love, love Squiggle Writing with my kids!  Honestly, it always amazes me to see how differently each child in my class interprets the same squiggle. Let me introduce you to the very first Squiggle Writer:  Mr. Squiggle!

Yep!  A marionette from Australia!  Love his pencil nose!

My neighbor filled me in on the TV show that ran for FORTY years after she saw one of my daughter's squiggle writing assignments ten years ago.  Who knew?  Read more about it here.   I did see a clip once on YouTube and if you Google it, I bet you could see Mr. Squiggle in action!

Here are some of my students' squiggles:  (Lots of different ability levels and ELL represented!  I snapped pics even before they self-edited.)

I've been making Squiggles for a while now and have used them for Do-Nows, Morning Work, Homework, Fast Finishers, and in Writing Centers.  Kids love them!  I think they often surprise themselves what comes out of their crayons and pencils!  Mr. Squiggle would be proud!  Grab a few freebies by clicking on any of the three pics!

I finally collected all of my pages and posted this product on TpT.  For the next 24 hours, I'll have it available for only $3!  That's 100 Squiggles for you!  (Both handwriting lines included!) Grab it if you're looking for a fun way to get you kids' creative juices flowing!  Makes an adorable quick display, too.  (Posters/Optional Book Cover included as well.)

Stay warm....cold and snowy here in NJ!