Back To School

It's August 25th.  For most schools here in Texas, today is the first day of school.  This is an event my boys have been anticipating for the last month.  Once all of our summer travels were over, they would excitedly ask, "when do we go back to school??!?!?!?!?"  

For the last few weeks ,the excitement has been building.  The boys met their teachers last week {they are all so PRECIOUS!!!} and they haven't been able to stop talking about school since they walked out of their brand new classrooms on "Meet the Teacher" night.  Excitement would be an understatement.

I decided to do a little something special for their first day back.  This was completely unnecessary and over the top, but every now and then I like to do things that surprise even myself ;)  And it was an added bonus that I didn't have to buy ONE.DARN.THING for this little special back to school breakfast!  Being a teacher with lots of goodies on hand sure has it's perks ;)

Like I said, I had everything on hand.  I randomly collect globes, so yes...I had those, too.  The only thing I really had to do was print out those little subway prints and put them in a few extra frames I had in my closet.  

Grant woke up in a terrible, horrible, no good mood {I'm blaming it on the nerves} and Landon was FIRED.UP.  He was SO excited about his special back to school breakfast.  Grant pretty much told me it wasn't that cool and refused to eat the blueberry muffins and fruit I woke up early to make from scratch.  So honey buns it was.  No time for arguing on the first day.  At least he sat at the table to eat.  We'll call it a success :)

After breakfast, Grant was in much better spirits.  Wait.  Let's back the truck up real quick.  He saw our neighbor outside and wanted to go say hello, but when he came back in he slammed his fingers in the door.  OUCH.

It took a while to calm him down, bless his heart.  But once he was calm and realized his fingers weren't falling off...praise Jesus...he was in MUCH better spirits.  He was even willing to take our annual first day pics.  Landon has started to do this funky I'm-smiling-but-I'm-really-not-smiling kind of smile and that's always fun to look at after the fact.  Bless.  Gosh dang I love these boys.  Fake smiles and all ;)

I made their little first day prints in the frames.  If you have kids going back to school this week or next, you can make these, too!  I created a little power point file with grades Pre-K - 5th and all you have to do is insert your info.  Here's the fonts you'll need...

You can download the power point and insert all of your own info.  Just click the pic below.

I know I told you this before, but I absolutely LOVE the boys teachers.  They are so sweet and so precious.  I know it's going to be an AWESOME year!!!!  Because I love teachers so much, I REALLY love to treat the boys teachers to little unexpected goodies throughout the year. There are a MILLION of these floating around out there, but I went and recreated the wheel because these are the "favorites" I wanted to know from their teachers.  There are lots of other teacher questionnaires out there, but they didn't have all these exact "favorites" included.  If this is something you think you can use, just click the pic below to download your copy...

Speaking of little treats, I made these for the teachers for their first day of school!

I LOVED putting this together!!  I got plain terra cotta pots {Michaels} and painted them with black acrylic paint.  They dry in about 2 minutes so this was a SUPER quick project.  Then I just took a white paint pen and wrote the teachers last names on the surface.  I found that great little leopard print burlap ribbon and Michaels and used that to tie around the rim.  I only needed one roll of the ribbon.  Our school colors are blue & white.  I found that polka dotted tissue paper in the party section at Target.  Then I just started piling all the goodies inside.

Here's what I included....

I tied little tags around each item with a little "blurb" about what it was for.  I did this BEFORE I realized it would've been easier to just type up a little something to put in the basket.  

If you want to create a little survival kit for your child's teacher...or your teammates...just click on the pic below for your printable download.

If you started today...or if you're just coming back from a very relaxing weekend after already putting in time with the kidlets...I hope you had a GREAT (first) DAY!!!!!!

A Look At My Day

Hey y'all!  It's Thursday and that means today's Teacher Week Topic is WHEN....

It's all about our schedules today!

I've taught for 13 years.  In those 13 years, I've taught at 4 different schools and in 3 different grades {K-3}.  Each year I feel like I have the "best schedule ever".  Really.  But I have to say, the schedule I've had the past two years just might take the cake.  Let's take a peek, shall we?!

Now let's break it down.

Our kids all meet in the cafeteria every morning.  That means no parent drop offs in the classroom.  Except for the first two days of school.  Every day after that, the kids get dropped off in the cafeteria for Morning Meeting.  This is where one teacher from each pod watches the kids and then around 8 am, our principals play fun and engaging music...typically Dr. Jean...and the kids dance.  Then we say the pledges, offer a moment of silence, and recognize and celebrate the kids who have a birthday.  This was started in an effort to decrease the amount of tardies and from what I've seen, it totally works!  I *rarely* have kids who are tardy to the party!

When the kids arrive in the classroom...most times before 8:20...they all come in as a group since they're coming from Morning Meeting.  We do a little "wake up work" when they come in.   This is typically hands-on.  Something to get the kids going.  We work on fine motor activities, out of the box thinking, and lots of other things.  

At this time, half of the class leaves for a specials class {science/social studies, library, computer, art}.  The other half stays for small group guided reading instruction and literacy tubs/stations.
So it works out to where I only have about 9-10 kids for an hour.  I get to meet with each one individually for guided reading while the rest of the kids work at their literacy stations/tubs.

At 9:30, the half of the class that left for specials comes back. Then the WHOLE class leaves for PE/Music and we have an hour for conference/planning.

At 10:30, we pick our kids up and bring them all back to the room.  Then the other half of my class who previously had guided reading instruction leaves for their specials class.  The half that was in specials earlier gets to stay for small group guided reading instruction & literacy tubs/stations.

Around 11:30, my half group comes back in and the whole class meets on the carpet for calendar concepts/morning message/daily dish.  

At 11:50 we go to lunch.  We walk the kids to the cafeteria and then we head out to shovel food down our throats as fast as we can :)  A "working lunch" if you will ;)

The kids get picked up at 12:20 and then we head back to the room for a quick brain break.  No time to be tired after eating :)  Around 12:30ish...give or take... we move right into Writer's Workshop.  Depending on the day, this lasts anywhere from 20-30 minutes.  A quick mini lesson and then independent writing.  I spend this time doing individual writing conferences as well.

Around 1:00 or a little thereafter, we start on Math.  Whole group and math tubs.  I'm really flexible with the timing here because some days lend themselves to a longer whole group lesson/longer tub time than others.  We spend between 15-30 minutes on a whole group lesson/game/activity and then the rest of the time is spent on working in math tubs.  I also do math conferences during this time.

We head outside for recess around 2:00 and let the kids play for about 30 minutes...give or take ;)  Because it's so hot here, the kids spend a good bit of time at the beginning of the year playing indoor for recess.  

When we're all back inside, we finish the day with "theme".  This typically involves a read aloud, thinking maps, research, writing, and craftivities...but not all on the same day, of course ;)    We end about 10ish minutes early to pass out agendas and end the day with a fun little read aloud or a quick "look at what we did today!!!".  Then it's backpacks and time for dismissal!

Dismissal happens around 3:30, but we have kids in our classroom until about 4:15-4:30.  That's usually when the last student leaves.  We keep all of our kids in the room until the parents and buses pick them up for the day.  The silver lining in that arrangement is that it gives us more time to pull kids for one-on-one intervention :)  We're not required to instruct during this time....there's usually a movie on to calm the masses...but it definitely gives us time to target the kids who need the extra help {if they're not one of the first kids to leave}.

Not too shabby!
That's what a day in my classroom looks like {in a nutshell}.

And just for my first grade friends, by request I created and uploaded a printable packet of back to school no prep math and literacy activities.  You can read all about it HERE or by clicking the pic below.

Have a GREAT day!

Organization & A Sale!

Today I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week.

Today's topic...ORGANIZATION.

I know I've talked to y'all a little bit about staying organized.  You might remember me telling y'all that I always start out the year organized and ready to go, but after the first day the wheels fall off and I usually don't find them until the last day of school :) 
Here are just a few of things I do & use to TRY and stay organized throughout the year.  TRY being the operative word.

 I keep all of my files in the plastic sterilite drawers labeled by month.  This has helped me a TON!!  When I was keeping everything in filing cabinets it seemed like it took me FOREVER to find things!  Now I know exactly where to go for my resources :)

To take it a step further, I keep ALL of my resources written in a little binder.   I have pages in my binder that are labeled by theme since most of my teaching is done thematically.  For example, on my "apple" pages, I have the activity written in one column, the author of the activity written in another {so that if any pieces to the activity are missing, I can quickly look it up & print it off on my computer without searching for HOURS}, and the location of said activity in the last column {monthly drawers, filing cabinet, etc.}  This is something I take with me to planning so that I know exactly what I have when it's time to come up with activities to share with the team!

Here's a little idea of what I do for math.  Again, it's all kept in my math conferring binder.  

The top picture is how I organize and plan math conferences.  I write out all of our math objectives {the ones from our benchmark assessments} on white labels and just place them inside of a file folder.  When I have students that don't master an objective on our benchmark assessments {every 6 weeks} I write their name on a little sticky and place it next to the skill...or skills...they didn't master.  When I go to conference with my kids, I know exactly which skills to target and this helps me plan A TON!

The bottom picture is how I keep my math groups organized.  The left shows my math groups {high, medium, low}.  They're color coded because of the way I differentiate my math tubs.   The right side is a breakdown of my cooperative learning groups...this is the group kids are in for their math stations/tubs.  They're grouped heterogeneously to help with peer teaching.

This is how I keep my literacy stations and tubs organized.  I implemented this last year and let go of some of my control.  I was SCARED.  But y' was AMAZING.  The kids really loved the autonomy and it was stress free for me!  Basically, I just typed up each student's name on a sheet of paper & laminated it.  I placed each sheet in a literacy station/tub along with an expo marker.  The kids knew that only 2 kids were allowed to work at a station/tub at one time, but they had the choice to go to any tub they wanted.  When they got there, they used the Expo to mark their names off the list.  By Friday, they should have completed all of their tubs/station work.  I could quickly scan over the lists to see if any of my kids didn't go a station/tub if there names weren't crossed off the list.  This was a great little motivator for Fun Friday centers :)

There are plenty more organization ideas over at Blog Hoppin', so head on over to check them out!  

And here's what's on tap for the rest of Teacher Week...

And don't forget...Teachers Pay Teachers is having a ONE DAY sale TODAY!!!  Everything in my little shop is 20% off today.  You can use the promo code BOOST to get an additional 10% off of your total purchase.  Click on the "shop my store" link at the top of the page to stock up before the sale ends at midnight!

I just added my September Work on Writing packet to the shop!!!

If you purchased my Work on Writing Year Long Bundle, go back into your purchases to download this packet addition!!!  

Have a great day and happy organizing {and shopping ;)}!!

It's Teacher Week, Y'all!

Have y'all heard?!  It's Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin'!

Today's link up is all about the WHO.

I'm linking up with my girls to tell y'all a quick little bit about me.  Just a quick little snippet :)

{On a more random note, what in the world is up with my picture?  It looks like I tried a little Portraiture action on my face and I SO did not!!!  Why is it so hazy looking?!  I didn't use a filter...I mean, I need to, but I didn't!!!  HELP.}

And if you're anything like me, you like to try and plan ahead, so here's a little schedule of what we have in store for the rest of the week...

You can click on the "Meet the Teacher" tab at the top of the page to read a little more if you're interested!  

I hope to "meet" y'all this week, too! 

New Year, New Look!

Hey y'all!  Notice anything different?! 
A-hem {{cough}}.  

Anything SPECTACULARLY different?!?!?  


You can't see me right now, but I'm swooning.

It's a brand new year, so I figured it was time for a brand new look.  And I seriously couldn't be happier.  It's so ME!!!  The colors, the graphics...did I mention the colors??!!  I LOVE!

And I have Tenille from Designs by Tenille to thank!

She was AMAZING to work with and pretty much knocked this one out of the ballpark :)  

I'm even having her re-do my train wreck of a mess domestic blog...Pearls, Handcuffs, and Happy Hour.  I haven't been able to blog on that one in a while because it's so dang HIDEOUS.  Can't wait to see how she transforms that one, too!!! 



That's all.

Just wanted to throw that out there.

I'll get back to my regularly scheduled Saturday now :)

Thank you, Tenille!!!! I couldn't be happier!!!!!

A Little Tutorial

Yesterday I shared this picture on my Instagram.

I had a few people ask where I purchased and if I didn't purchase it, how did I make it?!  SO...I figured I'd do a teensy little tutorial for those of y'all that are interested.

I grabbed all the supplies at Michaels.  

Then I typed up my little list of doable chores for my boys.  I used KG Let Her Go Solid at 16pt.  My boys are 5 & 7 and we try *really* hard to make them as independent and helpful as possible around the house.  Their chores aren't insanely crazy, but they're just enough to give them a good sense of responsibility and make them helpful to me & Mr. Spouse at the same time.  

Chores/to-dos include....
Feed Lloyd, make beds, clean room, clean bathroom sinks, brush teeth {at least 2x's a day}, vacuum, pick up toys, put away games/electronics, rinse dishes, load dishwasher, unload dishwasher, laundry, put clothes away, put shoes away, clear table, set out clothes, clean upstairs, wipe toilets, pack lunch, help mom/mom's choice, help dad/dad's choice, take out trash, bring trash can back to house, & homework.  

We don't expect them to do ALL of these chores every single day.

My oldest son was BEGGING for chores.  My youngest?!  Notsomuch.  But they were SO excited when I told them I was making them a chore/to-do chart.  They're both like their momma...task oriented.  We love to physically cross things off our to-do lists :)

Once I typed up the chores, I printed, cut them out, and got started...

1.  Apply a thin layer of mod podge to the flat side of the crystal gem/rock.  You might want to use a smaller paintbrush.  This was the only thing I had on hand.

2.  Take your piece of paper and place it, face down, on top of the mod podge.

3.  Apply another thin layer of mod podge on top and along the sides of the paper.  This will seal it to the gem/rock.

4.  Hot glue a round magnet to the top of the paper on the flat side of the gem/rock once the mod podge dries.

VOILA!  Just like that, you have a magnet.  Sure.  It takes a little bit of elbow grease and a lot of patience, but it's super simple.  I knocked these out while I was watching season 3 of Breaking Bad.  {thank you, Netflix!!!  My husband and I are OBSESSED!!!!!!}

Now, I couldn't really find any magnetic surfaces on which to display these magnets that I really loved.  I mean, my boys have a really, REALLY small room and wall space is limited.  And the wall space they do have is consumed by their hand-picked decor and they really didn't want those coming down.  Bless.  

See what I mean?!  Not a lot of space.

SO, I bought a few frames and removed the glass and backing.  Then I hot glued several magnets to the back of both frames and decorated them with some fun little ric rac I found in the dollar bins at Michaels.  I also found these fun little chalkboard clothespins there as well and I broke the clothespins off the back to use as labels for the frames.

I took my little chalk marker and outlined the boards and wrote the boys' names on each then hot glued those to the top left corner of the frames.  

Just like that, two little chore/to-do charts.  Simple and practical and super easy for the boys to read and use.

I love that my boys are so eager to do their chores now!!!  We'll see how long that lasts ;)  They're very motivated by the thought of earning a little bit of money, too. 

Speaking of that, can I tell y'all a cute story?!  Bear with me because it's a proud momma moment.  We were sitting around the dinner table talking about their chores and earning money.  My oldest son said, "Mom.  I really think you need to buy us 3 piggy banks."  I was stumped.  THREE???  There are only two of them and I'm pretty sure our sweet pug, Lloyd, isn't contributing his helping paws. 

Me:  "Why 3?  There are only two of you."

Landon:  "Well.  I was thinking.  We need one to put in money that we can spend.  Then we need one that we can put in money to save.  Then the third one is to put in money that we can give to people who are in need."

Me:  {{{tears}}}

I hope his compassionate heart never changes!!!!

Anyway...I was thinking about how these can be used in the classroom.  You could totally use them as name magnets for attendance.  Each morning the kids could come in and move their name out of the frame when they arrive.  You could adhere the frame to the white board or a filing cabinet or create a frame using washi tape.

You could even create name magnets to use as center/station assignments.  Eeeeek!!!  The possibilities are endless.

Do you have any other ideas?!?!?

If you've been crafting anything for your classroom, don't forget that there are only a few more days left in the #create2educate #sweepstakes going on over on Instagram.  You have until 4 p.m. on August 15th to submit and post your craft for the chance to win a Michaels gift card!!!  Submit your back to school projects ASAP!!!  I can't wait to see what you've been creating!!!

A Few Little Tips

While everyone is headed back to school, I thought I'd share a few little tips that have helped my classroom setup TREMENDOUSLY over the years.  You might have already seen these before, but just in case you haven't, I thought I'd share them again :) Whatever helps....right?!?!!
Last year I added command hooks in all of my academic areas with the intention of storing my anchor charts for each of those subjects. I just attached the anchor charts to binder rings for hanging.  That turned out to be one of the best things I did for my classroom!  My kids were easily able to access all of our anchor charts so when they had a question about something, I'd just say "go use your resource to answer that." :)  LOVED it!!!

I've always taught in schools with walls that were beyond easy to staple.  I was stumped when I moved to my new classroom and had 3 cinder block walls and a partition wall that would only take the staple gun staples.  Totally stumped.  While I was in Hobby Lobby one day, it hit me!!  Add cork to the walls to create small and manageable bulletin boards!  The cork easily hot glued to the walls and stayed up beautifully all year long.  I just covered it with bulletin board paper like normal.  The cork wasn't very thick, but it held tacks and staples just fine.  This was such a lifesaver for me!!!  I loved being able to change out the kids' work each couple of weeks without damaging the paper!!  

For the one bulletin board I do have in the room, I quickly made these little clothespins.  Instead of stapling into the bulletin board each time I wanted to display work, I could easily hang things from the clothespins.  Adhering the tacks to the backside of the pins allowed for many mistakes and minimal damage to the board itself :)  

Remember earlier when I told you I was stumped when I saw those cinder block walls?!  Well, when I was first decorating the room, I kept hanging things with hot glue and then didn't like the way it looked.  When I'd go to remove those things from the wall, the poster/paper would rip and tear and the torn pieces were stuck to the wall and would NOT come off {without lots of elbow grease of course.}  SO, I started using painter's tape and ohmiword.  Answered prayer.  Just adhere the painter's tape to the backside of whatever it is you're going to hang and then hot glue on top of the tape.  When you go to remove the poster/paper, it will EASILY come off the wall and leave NO damage behind!!! 

Hope these tips are helpful!!  Happy back to school season!!!