Monday, December 30, 2013

Rejuvenate Your Room: Turning Over a New Leaf

This break has been SO needed, both personally and professionally. It's frustrating when I hear how "easy" it must be to be a teacher, because we all know that isn't true. We earned this break! As much as I needed this break for personal reasons, all of us teachers know this isn't a complete "break"--meaning, we still spend a lot of time thinking about our classroom, kiddos, and the like. This, my friends, is what makes us teachers---amazing teachers, at that!

Time to turn over a new leaf, my teacher pals! Thumbs up if you've been thinking about some classroom structures that need rejuvenation. Oh, you have? Me too! But, let's be honest--who really has time for a classroom upheaval mid-year? Not this girl! 

Since we teachers are helpers, my friends and I put our heads together to find a way to help fellow teachers during this mid-year slump. May I present to you, a classroom management makeover! These items will help you make an effortless, easy, seamless transition into the new year for you and your littles: 

Before you run and hide at the thought of classroom stuff, you HAVE to check out this pain-free and pocket-friendly solution!! I am so excited about this bundle because it includes new management techniques, behavior interventions, decor, forms, and all sorts of other organizational must haves!  It's only $10.99 and includes over 600 pages of items that can be quickly and easily implemented when you return to your classroom! I, personally, can't wait to get moving on these bad boys!

One of the things I feel have really helped to smooth my classroom routine is an attendance check-in binder. The kids sign in every day using a "password" or "question" that pertains to our unit of study. Every morning, once my students put their belongings away, they head to the back desk to pick up their Early Bird (morning work) and sign in. Sometimes, the sign-in requires a sight word to be copied next to their name. Other days, the sign-in requires a question to be answered; for example, "what is 2+7?" 

I LOVE this method, as it is an easy check-in method for me, since we log attendance every day via our computer system. This binder MUCH quicker than an oral role call and I love it! To account for human error, I also employ an "attendance helper" as one of my classroom jobs. I have a fantastic classroom job chart courtesy of Tale of 2 K Teachers that includes attendance helper. Following announcements, this student circulates around the table groups and reports back to me about any missing students. A quick cross-reference to the attendance binder lets me know who is not with us on any given day! Error proof and easy :) 

But this is just one product from the bundle.  There are 14 others!  Here's a quick peek, but you can surely click on an image to read about each one!

It's only for a limited time, so you won't want to miss out!  

I don't know about you all, but when I get this down time I really like to catch up on work things!  So much easier to do now when I can give up an hour here or there than staying an extra hour after work.  Not to mention the mental exhaustion!  

Here's to a smooth, stress-free transition and hoping you all enjoy the rest of your holiday!

Leave a comment below about one thing you want to change in your classroom and be entered to win one additional product from the listed participating stores!  {Oh, and you can pin something too for an extra entry!}

Erin :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

On the 7th Day of Christmas...

On the 7th day of Christmas, The Watering Hole gave to me:

But first, here's my answer to the 12 Holiday Questions:

1. What's your favorite Holiday song?

This is a tough one, but I'm going to have to go with Silent Night. On a serious note, it is such a beautiful song, and I have fond memories caroling when I was younger.  On a not so serious note, it reminds me of our Christmas Eve service at church every year. My brother Colin never fails to disappoint, as he dresses to the nines for the service and always sings in a high falsetto voice during the candle-lit version of Silent Night. We take turns every year sitting next to him, as it is a major exercise in self-control.

2. What's your favorite holiday memory?

Funny story. I was the oldest of four kids, so I believed in Santa WAY longer than is normally acceptable. My 5th grade (!!) teacher spilled the beans, and it took me a few days to process before I admitted the faux pas (and my new-found disbelief) to my parents. One night, I told my dad we needed to "talk," and, based on my expression, he ushered my into the living room behind closed doors. I very seriously told him, "I don't believe in Santa anymore." With a huge sigh, my dad said, "Phew! I thought you were going to tell me you were pregnant." Funny guy, that Bret Bevis is.

3. What's your favorite holiday indulgence?

Appetizers! Every year on Christmas Eve, we feast on appetizers before we open presents. Mozzarella sticks, spinach dip, shrimp cocktail, cheese & crackers--you name it, it's there! Mmmmm, I can't wait! Bring it on, calories!

4. What's your favorite holiday food?

I could say "see above," but in the interest of redundancy, I will say that my favorite holiday food is the peppermint ice cream that hits the shelves every December. I couldn't eat it it all year round, as it would lose its charm, but it definitely holds a special spot in my freezer (and my heart!) every holiday season. Stuff is DELISH.

5. What's your favorite holiday craft?

Funny you ask! I am up to my elbows in Pinterest crafts for gifts. I can't reveal them just yet, but I do highly encourage you to check out Pinterest when in need of gifts. It is my FAVORITE! For student holiday projects, please see #9 :)

6. What's your favorite holiday tradition?
Oh gosh. This is a toughie! There are a ton to choose from, and this one might seem insignificant, but this really is a special one for me. Every day after Christmas, my mom and I go to Pat Catan's (craft store, for you non-north-easterners) and load up on clearance Christmas items. I'm all about sales, but I'm even more about my mom, and we just have a b-l-a-s-t. Lots of hemming and hawing ("Do I really NEED this?") and just a great time overall. For those of you who aren't privileged enough to know Pat Catan's----I'm sorry. I am so, so sorry.

7. What's your favorite holiday movie?

Does Home Alone count? I can't get enough of this movie, and look forward to its return every holiday season. There's something about the way Kevin McAllister eats cheese pizza, applies aftershave, and defeats criminals that just gets me every time. Keep the change, ya filthy animal!

8. What do you get your class for a holiday gift?

Honestly, I change this one up every year depending on my kiddos. One year, I created personalized bookmarks based on their interests. This year, my class is obsessed with this plastic pointer we use for big books, so I'm thinking a trip to the Dollar Tree is in order so I can wipe out their entire selection. Easy and fun!

9. What's your favorite holiday thing to teach?

Christmas Around the World! I have my own 1st grade teacher to thank for this. Mrs. Gerard helped us make the CUTEST wreaths featuring all of the holidays we learned about. They were so wonderful, in fact, that my mom still hangs mine every year and to this day, it is my favorite Christmas decoration :)

10. What's your favorite holiday book?
As cliche as it sounds, I love How the Grinch Stole Christmas. To be totally honest, I am SO not a fan of Dr. Seuss books for read-aloud purposes, as they are very word-heavy and confusing and LONG. Phonetically, they are great. With that being said, I love, love, love the Grinch for its message it sends. One of my favorite reading/DRA-related themes to teach is the author's message, and this book is amazing from so many angles, even if your little ones don't celebrate Christmas!

11. What's your favorite holiday product?

I'm loving my monthly interactive poetry notebooks this year, and the December notebook is no exception! I love writing poetry, so not only is it a creative outlet for me, but it also is fun for the kids! I love the combination of poetry, task cards, and activities for each poem.

12. What do you want Santa to bring you this year?

TPT gift cards, of course! This is not just a plug, it is the truth. For proof, here is the Christmas list I sent to my mom:
I just realized how teacher-heavy my list is! On that note, (ahem, Santa!!) another snow day or two wouldn't hurt, either ;)

And now for the giveaway...enter below for a chance to win my best-selling Guided Reading Gurus Fiction & Non-fiction packs!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the spirit of Christmas I have also included a freebie just for you! Click the image below to get my Doubles Fact Puzzles:

If you haven't checked out the previous giveaways make sure you go enter to win: Simply Kinder, Melonheadz, A Tale of 2 K Teachers, Clever Classroom, and Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten!

Don't forget to come back on day 14 for a chance to win EVERYTHING in the giveaways hosted by all of my lovely blogging friends!

Happy Holidays!

Erin :)


Sunday, December 8, 2013

It's Here...13 Days of Christmas Extravaganza!

Get ready for the 12 13 Days of Christmas Giveaway brought to you by.....
13 Amazing Bloggers!

So here's how this is going to work...

Everyday, a new blogger is going to post a blog entry about their giveaway AND a FREEBIE just for you!

They are also going to answer 12 fun questions about their holiday favorites - feel free to ask your own questions in the comments.

Then, they will give you directions on how to enter their own giveaway!

But that's not all...on day 14 there will be an opportunity to win ALL of the previous 13 days' prizes in one big giveaway! How exciting!!!

ALL WINNERS will be announced on day 15!

Get excited because this is going to be one great giveaway frenzy!

To give you a heads up, make sure to head on over to Simply Kinder tomorrow where all of the fun begins!

Happy Sunday, have a great week!

Erin :)


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Letter Larry

Writing letters is a huge staple in our first grade classroom, not to mention one of the most FUN activities we do! This year, I have really focused on upping the fun factor in my classroom--not to say it hasn't ALWAYS been fun ;). I am really into creating songs and characters to help ingrain skills in my students. One of my favorite ideas so far this year is a close friend of this guy--remember him? Well shortly after Sam came to play, we had the pleasure of meeting Letter Larry:

Larry is a letter carrier by day, and a letter-writing guru by night. He is SO into letters, in fact, that he dons a special letter outfit every day to remind us how to write the perfect letter.

Introducing the students to letter-writing was a multi-step process. First, we talked about reasons we can write letters (to say "thank you," to ask a question, etc.). Then, we talked about who we can write letters to. This was so much fun! First, we made a class list of people in and out of school to whom we can write.

Then, the students created their own address books. They wrote the names of other students in the building and the names of their teachers. This got them so pumped to start writing! Click below for a free copy of the address book we used:

You will have to copy these lovelies back-to-back and do a little finagling to get them in the right order. It's so worth it! My kids keep these books in their year-round writing folders and often use them in our newly-anointed letter-writing station. It's a hit!

Perhaps my FAVORITE part of our Letter Larry unit is the song I created to teach the parts of a letter. 

And there you have it, folks. As much as I LOVE sharing my singing with the world (please, sense the sarcasm here), what I really wanted to do was post a video of my kiddos singing. However, it would infringe on their privacy and the sound quality wasn't the best with 22 voices at once. We also incorporated Head, Shoulders, Knees & Toes movements that correspond to our head, neck, body, and both feet that showcase each part of the letter (see Letter Larry for reference). It is a blast, and they LOVE to try doing it as fast as possible. Great fun for them, an even greater workout for me ;)

Similar to Star Sentence Sam, we also use a rubric when we write letters. It looks like this:

Click on the rubric to grab your free copy!

It is definitely text-heavy, but the visual aspect of it (the side-by-side sample letter) seems to work well with all levels of learners in my classroom. I love examples!

A sweet story to share--for those of you who do not know, my husband is a third grade teacher in the very same school (how that came to be is a story for later). One of my little boys wrote Mr. Waters a letter, and later in the day, we had a surprise visitor from this handsome postman--
who looked suspiciously like my sweet husband ;) In any case, the kids got a huge kick out of his giant "mail bag" (AKA the recess equipment) and my little letter-writer got a very special delivery---a response from Mr. Waters! The look on his face was priceless :) Up until now, the kids were thrilled to be writing letters, but when they realized that a letter could also warrant a response----they went WILD with the letter writing. Thank goodness for a good postman ;)

If you love the idea of Letter Larry, head on over to my TPT store where I have a full Letter Larry pack that includes a fill-in mini-book about writing letters, various letter-writing templates, and much more! Also, be sure to check back later to find out what happened when Sam & Larry teamed up and sent our classroom on quite the letter and sentence adventure!

Thanks for visiting this little blog--I hope you stop by again soon!


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Currently... is December 1st, which means another link-up with Farley! Check out my current musings via her fabulous "Currently" link-up image:
Also, speaking of December, just a reminder to visit the TPT sale tomorrow and Tuesday (12/2 and 12/3!) to load up on some SUPER sales. TPT will be giving 10% off with the code CYBER and I will be adding an extra 20% off to all of the items in my store. I highly suggest you check out two of my most favorite items:

Happy shopping, friends! 

Erin :)

Design by Laugh Eat Learn // Theme by PipDig