Goodies Galore

Hey friends!

I'm dropping in really quickly because the first day of school is tomorrow. I've promised a few people on FB, IG and over on the Elementary Entourage's blog that I would post these goodies.

I've been setting up my classroom and posting an image or two here and there and people have asked for a few things.

My word wall letters are my absolute favorite thing right now! They are simply ADORABLE. They are a remake of something I made two years ago. I updated the kidlettes and none of them repeat each other. How cute are they? ADORBS!

My calendar area is a work in progress. This is some of what's currently up. I'm sure it will shift and change as the year goes on, but this is what I've got so far. The months are cut off in the picture, but they're exactly like the days of the week.

If you like what you see, you can click below to download the word wall letters, calendar files and the book bin labels. The book bin labels also include a blank editable file. If you don't have time to download, PIN it and save for later.

Please NOTE, this download will NOT receive ANY changes. I make this specifically for my classroom and not to sell. The colors will not be changed, I will not add anything to any of it. :-)

Pre-Kindergarten - 1st Grade Classroom Tools

Oriental Trading makes classroom donations EASY!

Hey friends!

So I have to be honest with you and tell you that I didn't realize that you could share a wish list. UM, yes! So I did a little browsing through Oriental Trading over the summer. They have SO many things that I want and knew my firsties would LOVE. I created a wish list which was EXTREMELY easy and then narrowed down what I would get from there. Everything else is still on the wish list for me to share with friends, family and parents during Meet the Teacher. Here's my wishlist to get a preview of what everyone will see.

Oriental Trading sent me these goodies to show you all in exchange for writing this post. I've linked to each of them for easy access.

I have wanted timers for the kids to time themselves reading since forever. I finally have some. I love that these came in different time increments and is big enough so we don't forget what each of the colors mean.

Yep. I have a ten frame stamp. This one I LOVE! WHY? I love that the handle is nice and long. There isn't a reason to get ink all over tiny hands... even though I know it will happen. 

It also stamps very well. I only pushed down hard on the top one. I didn't reink it either. To me, that's a good stamp. The ideas for this are pages long. My first thought was making ten. Kids could work on addition problems with making ten. If they pull a number. Place that many dots or color in that many, then they can finish the problem to make ten. This could also be used twice to make twenty and to work on those pesky teen numbers.

I bought these live photo stickers to put in our writing area. The students will be able to choose some stickers. I haven't decided what the limit is, but I used two. Then, write a story. It came with different rolls of stickers. Some were ocean animals, dogs, cats, zoo animals and so on.

How easy would this be for students that have a hard time thinking of something to write about? They could be inspired by a sticker! I think we may have a Sticker Story day as well when everyone chooses stickers to write about. I love reading stories that they make up.

How amazing is that sticker? There could be some awesome conversation made from these stickers. The students wouldn't realize that they're writing and would just have some FUN.

I also snagged these chalkboard clothespins. LOVE! *insert heart eyes* They are so cute! I already had some chalk markers and used those. I messed up one... or two or three and it wiped away easily with a paper towel and water. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to clean it with, but that's what I've always done on chalkboards.

I can't decide if I want to use them for my focus wall, BRAVO board or for student work. I think I may get some more and use them for all three. They are such a cute idea! I got the idea for the Coming Soon from Theresa at True Life I'm a Teacher.

Use any of the links above to take you to Oriental Trading to create your wish list. Then, you should see a SHARE button on the right side of the screen when you are viewing your completed wish list. Share it with whomever you'd like. It's that EASY.

If you have some awesome finds, tag Oriental Trading on your social media so your friends can create a list as well. I am going to add my wish list link to my parent information and share it in a few days for Meet the Teacher night. Hopefully, I get some things purchased. Have fun shopping!

Pre-Kindergarten - 1st Grade Classroom Tools

How to make parents love you

Yep. You read that exactly right.

Do you have a hard time talking with parents? Well, I do. I'd rather not talk to them on most days. It's hard to carry on a conversation since I'm not the type that starts conversations. It's even HARDER for me to write notes home or even CALL. I just look at them. That's sound so horrible, I know, but it's the TRUTH.

I hope I'm not the only one that struggles with this part of teaching. One thing that worked REALLY well for me last year was writing a note to each child every day. It was a very short note. It wasn't about how they misbehaved or what they could work on. It was a note to let them know how much I appreciate them or to thank them for having an amazing day. This kept parents "in the know" and it kept me from calling parents... which I totally hate.

Positive Parent Communication that works

I chose one child a day. Why one? Well, after they saw that I gave out "little love notes" each day, they worked really hard to get one. They never knew who it would be. It could even be the child that had a terrible day, but he helped someone pick up their crayons from the floor. It could have been a sick child or the child that gets overlooked. It could be anyone. I made it my mission to give out one each and every day. There was a rare occasion where I gave out two or three, but never more than that. I wanted them to always be working hard to get that note home.

Parents loved hearing and getting a little handwritten note from me. Here's what I did:

I printed off each of the notes which are 4/page except for one I made in March for St. Patrick's Day. It has 2/page. Then, I copied them on different colored sheets of cardstock (or colored paper). I cut them out and sorted into these cool little plastic accordion files.

They are the perfect size to hold these. It has 12 dividers. I happened to have three hanging around in my room since forever and put them to use with these. I got them from Target a few years ago, but have seem more this size at Target and Walmart as well.

Near the end of the day when I need one, I just pick a file, pull out a card and jot down a quick note. So easy. Then, I put it back on the shelf for tomorrow. How do you keep your parents happy and provide a positive form of communication?

End of the year gifts

In need of some quick and easy end of the year student gifts? I've got you covered. I went to one of my favorite places, Target, and racked up some goodies.

I found some really cute ideas that were really inexpensive. I grabbed a set of mazes, yo-yos, and SCENTED play dough. I didn't make a tag for the dough. I also had leftover bubbles from earlier in the year.

These tags go great with some bubbles! I have found sets of 12 in Walmart and a similar set in Target.
All you need is to print the tags, grab some double sided tape and a write your name. Easy!

These mazes are really cute and simple. If any of your kids like puzzles, this would be great for them. I spent a good while playing with this one, before I started taping them down. I also used double-sided tape to adhere them.

Seriously! The best little gift for little fingers. These are so much fun. I love that I have time to teach them how to use them after I give them their end of the year bags along with the rest of their things.

Just download here:

Editable DVD Labels? Yes, please!

Hey guys!

Do you create end of the year DVDs for your class as a keepsake? If so, this post is exactly what you need. Every year, I create editable DVDs for my sweeties and I just started working on this year's dvd. They are always so overwhelming. Anyone else get overwhelmed at the end of the year?

Well, I have one thing to help check off your list.

The cover.

I created the one in the middle last year and my kids LOVED them. I have a parent that has a dvd duplicator. I send him all of my dvds and just one that has the slideshow on it. He duplicates all of them for me. Then, he adds the covers for me since he is an absolutely FAB parent (from years ago at that).

I posted a picture of the one from last year on instagram and a few people asked me if it was available. Most of the things that I create for my class, I don't offer on TpT or here on the blog, but I thought this was something that a lot of people could use.

I added 4 more designs. The download is a powerpoint file. You will have to save as a PDF and then print on your Avery Label 6692. You can find the labels here.
I tried it out on several printers to see how the printout would vary. They all printed VERY similar. I made the image a tad bit larger than the actual label in case of shifts. You will be able to move the image over in PowerPoint if it doesn't line up.

I am SUPER excited that I got this part done for myself and for all of you!

The labels are two/page. After you've added your information either duplicate the design you want or just print off that page. SO easy.

Find them here.

Kindergarten Graduation Letter

Grab these free editable graduation or celebration letters! You can use these as an announcement or as the invitation. Copy on some bright paper and you're done! Simple to edit text and cute graphics makes for a great end of the year!

Hey friends! I posted a picture of me writing my letter to parents and guardians about our kindergarten celebration in a few weeks. Sidenote: I'm so excited to be DONE with this year. Anyone else? A few people asked if it was available and this happened!

If you're in need of a quick and editable parent letter, here's your choice of some easy ones. There is clipart already added with some wording on the side. This is a PPT download. Just edit the text and go. I even left our letter in there (after we changed a few of the words) for you to look at for an idea.

If you're looking for some certificates for graduation, I have some editable ones for you! Check them out here. If you're even looking at the post, know that you only have a FEW more weeks.

Write on until the 180th Day!

As the end of the year is coming closer and closer, I started to make a list of what all I wanted to accomplish in the next few weeks. I literally only have about a month with my class.

The number one on my list is writing. Hands down. I want them to leave being able to compose their thoughts, get out anything they want to say and to love writing. I have some amazing writers this year that don't like to show their writing. They would draw pictures for days or read until I make them stop. Writing?

Not a chance.

We started a little writing challenge first thing in the morning. I wanted them to be EXCITED to write and tell me something. I wanted their little hearts to beat. I wanted them to go home and talk about what we'd written about for the day. I wanted to have conversation starters.

What did I do? I planned out three easy steps for them each morning.

Step 1
I made up some short stories. By short, I literally mean three to four sentences. There weren't very many details to remember in each story. I wanted them to simply LISTEN. My kids this year have had such a difficult time comprehending what was read. I wanted us to take the first few minutes of each day just listening.

Here's a view of one of our stories.

Step 2
After the story, I paused. I wanted them to take the story in. They usually looked over at me wanting to know more. After a few seconds, I showed them a picture. Some days we discussed what could happen next. Some days, I showed the picture and we just thought in our minds.

Most days, I showed the picture and popped right over to the question. The first few days, I immediately wanted to know what they were thinking. I went around the room and listened to their responses.

Step 3
It was their "job" to tell me on paper their answer. Some of the questions asked what they would do or what they thought happened next. This was GREAT for their listening comprehension skills. Most of them were stuck writing I for everything. If a question asked what they thought a character was going to do next, they would respond with "I would." This was great in my opinion. It gave me time to discuss the fact that they are not and never was in that story.

These stories, images and questions also made them think. There wasn't an answer in the "story" to refer back to as there usually is. As they wrote, I liked to ask them to tell me why in their writing. One of my kiddos started writing WHY in his responses. It was hilarious.

Here's a few of my favorites...
This was in response to what would you do if you were deep sea fishing and a shark popped out of the water.
"I would be scared. Because it might bite you. Because sharks are dangerous."

"I would go put my fishing pole up."

"Yes, I will be scared because it had shark teeth."

I've made twenty of what I so perfectly call Listen. Draw. Respond. I included different recording sheets for my students because they are ALL so different. I have those they just like to write now and will continue writing on the back. There are those that are all about a picture and then, I have some that don't like the checklist anymore.

Each story correlates to a picture. In essence, there is three parts to each: story, picture, and question. I did not start this in the order that they were made. We picked and chose (well I picked) and they responded. Over the summer, I'm going to print these off 4/page and back/front (the stories and questions) and print the photos off either full page or 2/page. These will be perfect for days when I have a substitute and my computer is not at school for the sub.

Here's a look at the response sheets.
My kids have gotten so much better at comprehending what was read or what they have read. I always tell them that their writing has to match a story or picture AND make sense. We share a few of these everyday and they've gotten a better sense of responses that flow.

You matter.

This school year has been so hard for me to stay on top of being ME. I'm usually very happy, love to create new ideas at school, love creating things with my kiddos, change my door for any new theme, decorate the classroom and so on...

Not this year.

Lately, I've been feeling like "What's the point?"

Well, what is the point?

The last few years, it seems as though education has gotten so much tougher. I've only been teaching 8 years, but it was not this way when I began. I can only imagine how glorious it was years and years ago.

Parents blame us for everything. Kids aren't truthful. Politics run everything about how our school runs. Administration doesn't have a clue what we actually do. Outsiders think we play all day. Kids don't get enough recess. Aides are being laid off and we desperately need all the extra help in our classrooms. Special education is busting at the seams and everyone is screaming inclusion with ZERO help.

What's the point in going the extra mile? Who is it helping?


You know why it helps me? Because I matter. You matter.

I stopped doing what made me happy this year and I've been awfully grumpy most of the school year. I decided this morning that all of that needed to change. I have to live for me. I can't magically change personalities in my classroom. I can't change what families I am blessed with. I definitely have zero control over politics and things beyond my control.

However, I do control me. I have to work every day for me. I have to make me happy. I have to remember that I matter. Most of the time, I refuse to do things because of what others may do or think. If I think my kids won't get a craft or special activity that I LOVE to do, I've just skipped it. No longer happening.

I matter. You matter. If you're having a tough year, tough month, or just a tough week - just remember at the end of the day, YOU MATTER. Close your door and do what makes you happy. I actually do what I want with my door OPEN, but I know we don't all have that luxury.

I forgot that it should be all about me. I know what's best for my classroom no matter what anyone else says. My very small voice may not reach the ears of the movers and shakers in education, but it will at least impact twenty something students this year.

Head to school tomorrow with those two words in the back of your mind.


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