Favorite Things

So a few of you may remember when Blog Hoppin' did that Thankful linky party a few weeks ago?  Where teachers were supposed to link up each day with a post about things they are thankful for, helpful stuff, activities they like, etc...  Well, I kind of dropped the ball on that one, and I never did get to post anything.  But I had taken some pictures in my classroom of some activities that my students and I love, so I decided to go ahead and write the post instead, a few days weeks late.  Oh well!

I can honestly say that my favorite thing to teach tends to change each year, depending on whatever I've decided to focus on that year, or the dynamics of my classroom, or changes I've made to my classroom.  But I do have a few things that I do each year that haven't changed, and a few things that I've started to do that I just love!

One thing that I have always loved teaching is calendar time.  It may be one of my favorite parts of the day.  My students last year loved calendar as much as I do.  They would cheer whenever I said it was time for calendar.  They loved being the calendar helper.  One of my favorite things about calendar is that it is a great daily review of math skills my students need to practice.  I do a lot of different things in my calendar time, and they change throughout the year.

Some of the skills we practice during calendar are saying the date, writing the date, and talking about the day of the week and month.  We talk about what day is coming next and what day it was the day before.  We make the number of the day using tally marks, tens and ones blocks, straws, expanded form, writing the hundreds, tens, and ones in each number.  We choose 2 numbers and write the fact family.  We choose the number of the date and write addition and subtraction facts that equal that sum or difference.  We tell time and play "What's My Number?"  There are other things we do, but those are some of the big ones.  I tend to introduce new activities every month or so.

Another thing I love doing in my classroom is poetry.  I like using poetry when I can because it allows students to practice fluency while having fun reading a poem.  One of my favorite places to incorporate poetry is during phonics.  We have 2 phonics sounds we cover each week, and I have a poem that goes with each phonics sound we learn.  The first day, I introduce the sound, and if we have a Phonics Dance chant, we learn the chant as well.  We read the poem and highlight the words that have that particular sound in it.  If it is a sound that can be found in a different part of the word (both at the beginning and end, just at the beginning, etc...) then I discuss that with the students as well.

On the second day, the students get their own copy of the poem to put in their poetry notebooks.  They highlight the words with the sound of the week in them, sight words, and draw a picture to illustrate the poem.  Whenever they finish, their assignment is to re-read the poems in their notebook and practice reading them fluently.  If most of the students at a table finish, they'll all sit there together and read their poems in unison.  It's really cute. :-)  Sometimes I have to warn them to whisper read their poems because they get too excited.  I love the way the students are practicing their fluency and phonics at the same time!

My next two "favorites" are newer activities I've added to my classroom in the last few years.  The first is Family Journals.  I wrote an entire post about how I use Family Journals in my classroom awhile back, so if you are interested in more information, that's where you can find it!  I started doing them last year, so this is the second year that I've been doing them.  I send home the journal every week with a different prompt that is related to something that we've been learning or something seasonal.  The student and a family member respond and the student brings the journal back.  It allows me to learn more about my students and their families, which I love.  :-)  I usually respond once a month, simply because I have 20 students and I don't have time each week to respond to all of them!  I do read each and every one though!   And I love love love when I read something that I can connect to- like the fact that this parent and I both had a Baby Alive growing up. :-)


My last favorite activity is the fact fluency assessments we've begun doing this year.  In the past, one of our special areas was our Math Lab teacher, and one of the things she did was a math fluency program, so in my classroom we did some math flashcards, but not nearly enough with fluency!

So this year, I've started my own little math fluency program in my classroom.  We all began with the 0's addition facts and are slowly working our way through the facts.  Twice a week, we take our fluency assessments.  The students LOVE it!  They get so excited for that timer to go off and begin their fluency assessments!  Whenever they pass their fluency assessment, they get a certificate to take home with them, and a set of flashcards to practice.  :-)   I will have to put together a post soon on how I work with my students on fluency in our classroom.  

So those are a few of our favorite things!  

Hopefully you will be right there with me on Monday stocking up on some new favorite things for your own classroom!  I know I already have a full cart and I'm trying to determine which things I really NEED versus which things I really WANT.  It's HARD.  I hope you won't have such a difficult time!  

I will have my store on sale tomorrow (Sunday) - Wednesday at 20% off!  If you've had your eye on something, now is totally the time to get it!  
Happy Shopping!

Five for Friday

I haven't done one of these posts in a LONG time.  It feels good to be back.  :-)

1.  My parents came down to visit me last weekend and do some work on my house.  I decided it would be fun to drop a cabinet door on my foot.  It hurts.  So I've been walking around all week with this giant bruise on my foot.  Ouch.  Doesn't that look lovely?  (Yes, I had to take a picture of it.  I couldn't believe how big it got!)  After I posted this picture, a friend of mine told me that she wants to wrap me in bubble wrap.  I think I just need a giant bubble to live in.

We also ordered these awesome red stools for my birthday gift.  We originally bought some awesome yellow ones from Target, but they were too tall.  So we ordered these from overstock.com.  Love them!  They just got here last night.  Thanks, mom and dad!

2.  We have been talking about Thanksgiving this week!  We are learning about the Pilgrims and how they lived differently than we do.  We also wrote about what we are thankful for, using this adorable Interactive Notebook activity from Tweet Music.  Clearly, I didn't use it in a notebook, but you totally could.  I can't wait to get them hung up!  What a slacker I am!

Here are my sweet kiddos writing about what they are thankful for!

3.  I also did this fun activity with my students this past week.  We have been working on fact families all week.  Most of my students finally get it!  So we made these adorable fact family turkeys from my Happy Turkey Day Math Centers pack.

4.  I felt like I got nothing important accomplished this week!  I spent most of my nights this week working on report cards and prepping some turkey-themed math centers for next week!  (I mean, I guess those things are important.  But nothing I wanted to do!)  I am so excited to use my Thanksgiving centers, though!  I know my students will love them.

I also worked on report cards this week.  Our report cards went home on Friday.  I seriously almost forgot to send them!  I'm so glad one of my students said something to me- I didn't even have them in envelopes yet!  It has been such a crazy week, I just forgot!  (At least they were completed and printed and sitting on my desk!)

5.  One morning this week during our morning meeting, I had my students share something they were thankful for.  In the past, I've had students usually share that they are thankful for their parents, or their friends, or their teacher, or whatever.  This year, I had a few of them share that they were thankful for Christmas because they get presents!  One of my sweeties, who is in the process of being adopted (along with his siblings), share that he was thankful for February, because he would get to change his name.  He will be changing his last name to their last name.  How sweet. :-)

While we were sharing, a lot of them also mentioned that they were thankful for their birthdays.  These were truly some strange responses!  So when it was my turn, I shared that I was NOT thankful for August because I would be 30.  One of my students yelled out "Are you going to die?!"

I had tears in my eyes from laughing so hard!

Well, that was my week!  I hope you had a great week last week.  I am excited because next week is only 2 days, and I won't be there on Monday because I have to go get a root canal.  I'm not excited about it, but I am glad that I only have 1 more day of work before 5 glorious days off! :-)  I can't wait!  I need a break!

Now I am off to go caulk, clean, and paint on this chilly Saturday!  :-/

Time Savers and Helpful Tips

So I had such GREAT intentions last week!  I was going to link up with Blog Hoppin's linky party and have some great ideas to share with you.  However, as you know, life tends to get in the way, and 3 nights last week, I fell asleep with my laptop on my lap and didn't finish a single blog post!  (I blame my computer- it was being slow!)

I decided that I was going to go ahead and post my ideas anyway!  I know I always like to read other teacher's ideas, especially about classroom organization, so I am sharing some of mine with you today.  Five, to be exact.

Tip #1:  Keep everything handy!
My favorite time saver tip is to keep everything handy.  I keep all of my supplies in labeled bins in the classroom.  I also have a ton of small dollar store baskets, yogurt/dog food containers, etc... hanging out around the classroom.  Whenever I am preparing for a new activity, I stick the supplies the students will need in those containers, so I can grab them and pass them out to partners, groups, etc...  It cuts down the time that I spend passing out materials, which cuts down on transition time and gives students more time to work!
These students were playing a math game.  The cards and the color tiles were placed in a basket, and then I just handed the basket to each student.  Super easy!

Tip #2:  Organize your learning targets.
Something else that has saved me a ton of time is creating these  "I Can" statements for each of the standards.  I keep them organized in a file folder box, with each strand in its own folder.  If I need a standard that is a Language standard, I look in that folder.  If I need a place value standard, I look in the NBT folder.  Etc... And then I hang them up.  Since they are already written out, when I go to put the standard in my plans, they are ready for me to just copy and paste into my plans!  Even if you don't have cute posters like mine, having a page with your targets typed up and kept on your computer or in your plan book would be very helpful!  

Tip #3:  Curb the paper monster.
As for organizing materials, I can tell you all honestly that I HATE paper.  The stuff ends up everywhere, and I can never seem to keep up with it all.  If it has a home, such as a binder or folder, great, but otherwise, I am tempted to throw all of it away!  But I like to have stuff prepared ahead of time if possible.  So last year I went to Hobby Lobby and bought these 12x12 inch scrapbooking drawers.  I actually made 2 trips so I could use 2 coupons!  I stacked them on top of each other, and made a label for each subject.  Then I can place copies that I have made in the drawer for the appropriate subject.  

In the past, I have tried color coordinated folders (yes, each of my subjects is color coordinated!), but those didn't work as well for me.  These drawers do!  I love that I know where my copies are when I need them, and that my copies are prepared ahead of time!  Such a lifesaver for me! 

Tip #4:  Find creative ways to store all those extra supplies!
I have a ton of school supplies that I purchase myself during the back to school sales, but I don't have a ton of storage space in my classroom.  I am so jealous of you teachers who have cabinets and closets!  I have 2 cabinets, but frankly, they don't hold as much as I would like them to.  So I made some milk crate seats for my classroom 2 years ago, and this past year, I made 5 gallon bucket seats for my reading table.  (I don't have a picture of my crate seats.  Can you believe it?!)  I love them, because they give the students a place to sit, and also allow me to store supplies such as glue sticks, composition notebooks, markers, and plastic baggies.  I don't know what I ever did without them! 

Tip #5:  Use rings to organize materials.
My other favorite thing is RINGS.  I have a special drawer just for rings in my little organizer.  I am always putting something on a ring!  I put flash cards and task cards on a ring to use at my Guided Reading table.  I made smaller copies of my "I Can" statements and use a ring to hang them on my Writing/Word Work containers.  I have the parents fill out a student information card on cardstock, then I stick those on a ring! I hang it by the phone.  Whenever we go on field trips, I grab the entire thing and put it in my backpack, in case of an emergency!  I am a little ring crazy, I guess, but I like things to be organized! 

I certainly hope this post helped out somebody!  I have a few more ideas, so look for a Time Savers and Helpful Hints (part 2) post coming up someday.  Maybe I should get more organized about my blogging... :-) 

I'm So Thankful! Blog Hop and Giveaway!

We are celebrating all that we are thankful for and that includes teachers!  We want to show all of you how much we appreciate you.  Teachers do so much and this is our time to give back and say thank you!  Thank you for following!  Thank you for participating!  Thank you for collaborating!  Thank you for sharing!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Join us by hopping through each blog and gathering lots of Thanksgiving and autumn freebies.  In each freebie you will find a picture of a pie with a word on it. That word will tell you something that teacher is thankful for.  Record all of the words on your recording sheet and follow each blog along the way so that you can enter the amazing giveaway at the end!

You may start anywhere along the hop, but if you would like to start at the beginning you may go here.  This is also where you will go in the end, for the giveaway!!

You have made it to blog stop number 10.

I am offering a freebie from my "Fall Into Fun! Math, Literacy, and Science Activities."  My Fall centers have 5 fun Fall Activities and 6 Literacy Activities, as well as a Math and Science Exploring Pumpkins activity!  The freebie I have chosen for you from this unit is an Autumn Number Ordering activity.  It allows your students to practice ordering 2 digit numbers.  I know I have several students who are struggling with ordering larger numbers, and this activity is great practice!

Here's your freebie!

Now hop over to the next stop on your journey:

Thanks for stopping by!

P.S.  After you finish the hop, don't forget to stop by my Facebook page for the November Facebook Frenzy as well!  More free goodies are available for you there as well!

Tutorial, Giveaway, and 2 Announcements!

I had heard that it was possible, but I didn't believe it.  I finally tried it one day, and my entire life was changed.  What is it, you ask?

Printing multiple pages of a PDF on one page.

And doing it is SO SIMPLE, I have to ask myself why I haven't been doing it for years!  Lately, I've been printing everything mini!  It's so much fun!

If you saw my posts on Guided Reading and Centers, you may have seen these pictures, where I mentioned how I like to attach the "I Can" Statement to the container or how I post them for each group so that nobody can say I'm not teaching the standards!  I simply printed multiple pages of a PDF on one page to make smaller versions of the posters to serve this purpose.

If you want to know how to print smaller versions of PDF files, I've prepared a simple tutorial.  And by simple, I mean, there are like 4 pictures total.  Ok, there are 11 in the basic tutorial and a few more if you want a few more advanced options, but I did it step. by. step.  I could have done it in 4.  Yeah, it's that easy.

I took it one step further and made smaller versions of my Reading Buddies posters to put in my group pocket chart too.  The large strategy we are working on can hang up in the room, but sometimes the groups are working on different strategies, so it's nice to have smaller versions of the posters for students to reference when they are at my table.  Plus, they can connect the Beanie Baby to the poster when I present them together.

So here is the tutorial.  I apologize because it's not the prettiest tutorial in the world, but my computer was being super sloooooowww and I was getting annoyed, so I just got it finished in the quickest manner possible.

(If you aren't printing the entire document, take note of the specific pages you want to print so you can enter them in the print dialogue.)

You can choose a range of pages, or specific page numbers, or print all the pages.  

This is where it gets tricky! :-)  NOT!

You will see a drop down menu pop up.  Click on it.

It gives you options, or you can choose a custom number on each page.

This is 2 pages per sheet.  This is the one I use the most.  It makes each page a half a sheet.

And that's it!

You can also customize how to print it so the pages fit better on the page. 

They were printing horizontally and in portrait mode, but look at all that white space!  What a waste!

I was able to make it fit much better!

Look at how great that looks!  And I can cut each of the "I Can" Statements out more easily because of the border.  Viola!

I also have a few announcements to make, and a giveaway!

First, the announcements!

I am taking part of a blog hop AND the Facebook Frenzy this weekend!  WOW!  I am so excited!  And I will have 2 different freebies available, one in the blog hop, and one in the Frenzy!  They are only available THIS WEEKEND so make sure you check back!  They both begin Friday at 8am and end on Sunday. :-)

If you aren't already following me on Facebook, make sure you are!  You must "like" my page on Facebook in order to get the Frenzy item!

I am also giving away my new Thanksgiving and Fall items from my Teachers Pay Teachers store!  

You can click on either picture to see the item in my store!

Included in my Fall Into Fun pack:
What's Included:


Autumn Number Order- putting numbers in order
Scarecrow Sorting- sorting numbers greater than/less than 10 and 20
Autumn Build a Number- adding and subtracting 1 and 10 to a number
Autumn Spin, Tally, and Graph- using tallies to keep track of data
Literacy Activities:
Leafy Syllable Sort- sorting pictures into categories based on the number of syllables
Pumpkin Patch Blends- practicing "r" blends
Squirrel Spin and Spell- blending sounds to spell cvc words
A Bushel of Sentences- determining which punctuation completes the sentence
Autumn Sight Word Bang!- practicing Dolch words through a fast paced game of Bang!*
Fall Sight Word Bingo- practicing Dolch words through Bingo*

Science and Math:
Exploring Pumpkins- Students will complete activities using their own pumpkin or a class pumpkin. Activities include measuring their pumpkin, counting seeds, using tally marks to count lines on their pumpkin, adding pumpkin seeds, representing a number using base ten, sink or float, exploring a pumpkin using their five senses, and a pumpkin life cycle activity.

Included in my Happy Turkey Day pack:
Fabulous Feathered Friends (Fact Families)
Fill the Cornucopia- Number Representations (tally marks, base ten blocks, expanded form, tens and ones)
Traveling Turkeys (Adding and Subtracting on a Number Line)
True or False Turkeys (Equations)
Turkey Trot (Slide to 120)
Gobble Gobble Bump! (Addition and Subtraction with 2 and 3 numbers)
The Base Ten Turkey (a Place Value activity or addition and subtraction activity)

You can enter this giveaway below!  It ends on 11/7 at midnight!

Good luck!