Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop: Anti-Chaos Bag

I'm joining up with a whole boatload of bloggers to bring you the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!


If your house is anything like mine, it can be kind of always hectic in the mornings. Although my husband is usually around to help out, being a military man there are plenty of times when he is suddenly called to go do something and I'm left to get all 5 kids and myself ready for school on my own!

The oldest two are fifteen and twelve and you'd think that would make it easier, but you'd be wrong! My twelve year old son is not a morning person and has been known to collapse sobbing if his favorite shirt isn't dry when he goes to get dressed in the morning. The fifteen year old sleeps like the dead and will even talk in her sleep - so waking her up is a 20 minute ordeal - even if she tells you "I'm up! I'm up!" in her best peeved teenager voice, chances are she's sleep-talking and she'll lapse back into unconsciousness the minute you turn your back, thus missing her bus and requiring a last minute ride to school.

The middle two are ten and eight and chances are they might be dressed and ready and you might be thanking the heavens that at least they are on track. Ha! Don't be fooled! The minute it's time to actually get in the car, they suddenly can't find their backpack that they know they brought in the house last night (chances are it's actually hanging in your classroom) or they suddenly remember that they have to bring a canned food item or they left their homework upstairs on their desk - any little thing that delays leaving the house!

The baby is sweet and adorable and never does a thing wrong - unless it's to spit up all over himself the minute you strap him in the carseat, thus necessitating a complete outfit change. If his breakfast does stay down, chances are someone moved the Sharpie so you have to search for one to label his bottles, even though that is the designated bottle-labeling-Sharpie and no one is to touch it under threat of dismemberment, but somehow, it wanders off at least once a week.

In all of this chaos, it is a small miracle that I actually get to work on time and semi-prepared for the day. However, while I might be dressed and ready to teach, there are tons of times I get to school and think "Darn! I forgot ________!" or "I wish I had ______" Like the day when I forgot my sunglasses and got a splitting headache at recess from the glare. Or the day we had a windstorm during recess and my hair looked like a bird's nest afterwards. Or when a kiddo gets sick and I am calm and collected while dealing with it but then wash my hands 20 times in hot water trying to get rid of the germies and my hands get all chapped. Let's not even talk about those days I drag myself to work feeling under the weather because A) even a sick me is 10x better than a sub and B) even coming to work sick is 10x easier than preparing for a sub.

If even a portion of my mornings sounds familiar, then you might want to make yourself an Anti-Chaos Bag this weekend. I'm talking now, today, while you're thinking about it, because if you put it on a to-do list it will get put off and next thing you know you'll be at school on Monday thinking "Oh no! I forgot _____!"

Here's what mine looks like:
 Isn't that a beautiful pattern?? Don't laugh, it was the least garish looking bag I found at Walmart. It's an Anti-Chaos Bag, not a Haute Couture Bag people!

What do you put in an Anti-Chaos Bag?! Everything:
I've got lotion for chapped hands, hair bands so I don't have to resort to rubber bands, floss - not only for teeth but for replacing broken shoelaces in a pinch or at least wrapping around the frayed end so you can get it back thru the hole! Handy wipes and a lint roller (it's always the white cat that rubs up against my black pants legs as I'm trying to get out the door!)

A fuzzy sock filled with rice makes a quick heating pad when tossed in the microwave for a minute or two - great for cramps or muscle aches. Airborne is a must for when a cold is coming on, a tea bag for those stressful days when schedules are changed, tempers are frayed and someone says "Teachers, please remember to be flexible." Which is really code for "Suck it up and don't complain because it won't do you any good anyways!" Antacids and Midol....your students will thank you....'nuff said!

Extra sunglasses for when you forget your regular pair. Microwave popcorn for A) those days you forget your lunch but the cafeteria food is not appealing or B) those days you have to stay late but your stomach is trying claw its way out of your body to go hunt down its own food. An emory board so that snag doesn't become a painfully short nail. Mints because, let's face it, your coworkers will thank you!

You might also consider gloves/hat for winter months because you know the day you forget them is the day you have recess duty and it will be cold! I'm even tossing in $1.25 for those days I need caffiene and don't have any cash for the vending machine....

There you go - an Anti-Chaos Bag that guarantees that, even if your morning starts out stressful, you'll have everything you need to fix it! Stash this somewhere safe in your classroom - the next time you have a hectic morning and forget something you'll be glad you did!

Now head on over and check out other Bright Ideas!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Alphabet Freebie!

Hey all! I finally finished my Mega Alphabet Letter Sounds Pack! Wow, I think that was my biggest pack to date! It was worth it though, because I know I'll be using it all year long!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Alphabet-Letter-Sounds-Pack-1453354

I have some friends who have already turned 5, while some JUST turned 4 (the cutoff is 4 by September 1st and we've already had 6 birthdays - 2 that just turned 4 at the end of August and 4 that turned 5 in the first week of September!) As you can imagine, their skill levels differ wildly! My oldest kiddo knows all of her upper and lowercase letters and is just working on sounds. My youngest kiddos don't know a letter from a number and the kiddos in between are just that - some working on alphabet recognition, others have some letters/sounds already mastered. It's like teaching Pre-K AND K!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Alphabet-Letter-Sounds-Pack-1453354


(Don't you love it when they say "Can we draw on the back?" and then you see them practicing what they've learned?!)


So when I was making my Alphabet Letter Sounds Pack I knew I needed some simple activities for reinforcing letter sounds, but I also had to think up for my high group. I also wanted a mix of no-prep sheets that I could grab and go (or leave for a sub!) and some fun center activities that we could also do in small group as necessary. Almost every activity is available in black and white too, to help cut back on that ink bill!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Alphabet-Letter-Sounds-Pack-1453354http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Alphabet-Letter-Sounds-Pack-1453354

We tried out a few of the activities today, and will be incorporating the rest as we progress. We're on Day 23 here and after doing a lot of activities with their names, most of my kiddos are familiar with a handful of letters at this point. I'm doing a little bit of Handwriting Without Tears and introducing letters in their order, just to make it simpler for my pre-k kiddos. Can you believe I have 17/20 with perfect pencil grip?!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Alphabet-Letter-Sounds-Pack-1453354
Anyways, if you're interested in my Alphabet Letter Sounds Pack it's on sale for 30% off through Friday night. When I wake up Saturday I'll change it back to full price :)

And...here's your freebie! My kiddos were begging me for a chance to use glue, so I made a quick sorting set for them too. We'll use the letters/numbers sheet tomorrow! If you want to grab this little pack, just click the picture!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Alphabet-Letter-Sorting-Sheets-1454744



Sunday, September 14, 2014

Dear Future Me...

I'm linking up with Crystal over at Kreative in Kinder for a fun look into the future! So often we forget what the beginning of school is really like! Crystal's idea is to write your future self a note so you remember what back-to-school is really like! Here's mine:

Alright, now head over to Crystal's blog and link up with your own letter!
http://kreativeinkinder.blogspot.com/2014/09/dear-future-me.html

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What's Working in Our Class!

Hi friends! Just a quick post today to share some things that are working in my classroom!

Centers: We can now clean up all of our centers and be back to carpet in less than 5 minutes! Seriously! We're only 3 weeks into the school year! We did have 1 time when some girls at Math Center continued to play at clean up time. But since recess is right after centers those girls learned quickly that staying inside to clean up while everyone else goes outside to play is no fun at all! Since then everyone is quick to tidy up ;)

GoNoodle! We are on our 2nd avatar! We LOVE our brain breaks and I am loving Koo Koo Kanga Roo videos! The dance moves are so easy to do that even my two left feet can manage, and the tunes are catchy too!

Counting! We have 1:1 correspondence down pat! (Did I mention its only the 3rd week?!) Check out this video of a little friend doing a crayon resist sheet:

We're also enjoying Roll & cover games - some of my friends are working on the basic 1-6 so they get 1 dice, but I have some friends who can handle two dice already!

Shapes! We're pretty good at identifying the basic 4, and now we're working on pentagon and trapezoid. Check out this Roll & Cover Brown Bear game, just a few times playing this and not only are they remembering the names of the shapes, they can pick them out from amid other shapes, even with differing sizes and orientations!

Reading! I bought this fabulous apron at I Teach K! in Vegas this summer and I LOVE it! (I love a lot of stuff lately - I'm having so much fun in pre-k!) I purchased the pack that goes with the apron on TpT, it has sight words, letters, numbers and pictures. This week we're doing Brown Bear, Brown Bear so I made character cards to fit in the apron as well. Every morning as the kids come in they read a sentence or two each, then throughout the day as we're in line for the bathroom, going to lunch, outside at recess etc I ask a child or two to read for me. It's helping them learn 1:1 correspondence with words in sentences, and most of them have the sight words "I", "see" and "a" down pat now!
Sorting! We are sorting fools now! We finished up our week with sorting M&Ms on our Brown Bear coloring mats and the kids did so well - after they sorted they even counted and named the color they had most and least!

I know we're good at sorting though, because I find evidence of it in other places too:

Another thing I'm loving? This shirt:
  
This little guy was doing a fabulous job on his hallway procedures on Friday so I complimented him. He immediately stepped out of line to let me know that it was his shirt that was doing the good job. "It's my tiger shirt Mrs. Knopf. It helps me be good and follow procedures!" Hmm can I get that shirt for the whole class?!

 
How's this for cuteness? These two friends were at our Felt Board Center, lining up all of the outer space felt pieces, making them "hold hands". I asked what they were doing and they said "There's a fire drill so they all have to hold hands to get out of the school and cross the street!" We've had 1 fire drill and one occasion where we thought there was an actual fire ( a Kinder friend pulled the alarm without his teacher seeing). That time was way scary for us because we were at the bathrooms and had to hurry to grab hands and get out of the building and across the street without all of the usual extra people who come down to help the primary classes during drills. There was a fire truck and police cars and we had to spend about 30 minutes in the church across the street waiting for the all clear to go back inside! I was glad to see that these friends were processing the experience with the felt pieces :)

Here's my favorite conversation of the week, which occurred at lunchtime on Friday:

J: My orange has a bean in it!
Me: That's a seed, oranges have seeds.
J: And animals have diseases!
Me: Did you say diseases??
J: Yes! Farm animals have diseases!
Me: Umm, yes I guess some farm animals have diseases....
J: And farmers! Farmers have diseases too!
Me: Umm ok, some farmers might have diseases, but I think...
J: And wolvesez! Wolvesez have diseases because they're wild animals! Wild animals have diseases!
Me: Ok! You should finish eating, lunchtime is almost over! (making mental note to ask parents about diseases as I quickly move to a different table)

We're still working on colors, shapes and numbers and we'll be integrating Brown Bear, Brown Bear
I made a pack of  Brown Bear Ten Frames for math that we'll be working with. It's on sale until midnight Sunday!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Brown-Bear-Ten-Frames-Posters-Workstation-Cards-and-Worksheets-1434552

I think next up will be Mouse Shapes and Mouse Paint since I bought the cutest felt sets for those! Look for some freebies for those themes coming soon! Have a great week everyone!


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Humpty Dumpty & More

Have you ever wondered if maybe a different career would be a better fit? I learned, in putting together our Humpty Dumpty display, that I would not be a good brick layer. At. All. First I thought I would just paint lines on a red piece of paper (don't ask what I would have painted them with, or how I would have gotten straight lines.) Fortunately, before I could get out the paint and create a mess, my husband suggested that since the board was already black that I could just cut out the bricks and space them out so it looked like there was mortar between them. Ha! That sounded way easier than it was! This darn brick wall took me over an hour to do, and it still doesn't really look like a brick wall, unless you're feeling sorry for the artistically challenged. But, darn don't our Humptys look fantastic??

I am proud to say that most of my kiddos completed this with just a modicum of help. And, in a happy accident, my assistant mistakenly grabbed textured scissors when cutting out the arms and legs and I think it made them even cuter!

We used the Humpty Dumpty poster from my Nursery Rhyme unit, and the kids completed the emergent reader as well but you know I didn't get pics before we sent them home lol! We sang Hip Hop Humpty from Jack Hartmann about a billion times too.

Then we read Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again and the kids loved it! In this version a doctor fixes Humpty up but warns him against climbing "You really must be careful. I mean, for Pete's sake, you're an egg!"
Thus Humpty spends his time watching tv in his underwear (cue uproarious laughter from kiddos) until the Spider scares him out of his house. He ends up back at the wall where he climbs again to rescue the king's favorite horse - and then he continues to climb - wearing safety equipment of course!
I'm linking this post up to Book Talk Tuesday over at Mrs. Jump's Class - check it out for some more great book recommendations!

Finally, I have to share a cool new toy I found at the Science Museum this weekend too! I brought it in for our Math Center today and it was an instant hit -kids were fighting over who got to go to Math Center! I took this video of one of my kiddos  playing with it to show you - I'm a big fan of magnets, so this thing is enthralling to me lol! Ignore how many times I say "Good job!" I was nervous with the camera on I guess!



The Kid O 0 to 9 Magnatab is available on Amazon (pretty much the same price I paid for it at the Museum!) and there's an uppercase alphabet one as well as lowercase too! Those are going on my wish list! In case you can't tell, each number has the formation strokes and arrows to help kids form the numbers properly. They use the magnetic stylus to bring the little balls up, then turn it around and "erase" them back down - thus giving them more practice!
 
 I might have played with it a dozen times myself! 

I'm off to make more Brown Bear stuff - my kids loved it today! Just a reminder that my new Brown Bear Math Pack is on sale for 50% off until midnight!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Brown-Bear-Math-Pack-1426698




Monday, September 1, 2014

Schedule, Brown Bear & Crayon Resist Freebie!

Can I just say...I feel like an idiot for fretting over moving to a new room/new grade this summer! I am having a BALL in pre-k! And, sure, my room is still old and small, but we have filled it with so many neat materials and cute, precious personalities, that it is the most fun I've had in ages! I have not had a single day yet where I've gone home tired! Can you tell that teaching little people is my niche?!
Check out the adorable shirt one of my kiddos' mothers made for her!

Here's our schedule so far:
I have to admit, we break up our carpet times even more with Brain Breaks. We've started using GoNoodle.com and the kids are loving it. Our little avatar is named "McPufferson" and the kids are crazy about him! They've all gone home and told their parents about him and they get so excited to see his little growth bar fill up. We've gotten him to the 3rd level now and he now has 3 eyes - you have never heard excitement until you've grown a third eye on your avatar!

Last week we did Humpty Dumpty - and man is there a big gap in my class. I've got kiddos who are about to turn 5 who can recite Humpty while standing on their heads and twirling batons. Then I've got my kiddos who just turned 4 (our cutoff is 4 by Sept 1st) who still need tons of support to repeat the rhyme. We did a bunch of activities and the cutest craft and I meant to post about it this weekend but of course the building closed early on Friday so I wasn't able to get all my pictures! Don't you hate when that happens?! I'll grab pictures and post them tomorrow!

I had someone ask me in my TPT store for the sheet from this activity:
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Crayon-Resist-Sheets-1427202
I made up a little pack of Crayon Resist Sheets and its free in my TpT store here.

This week we're hitting colors and numbers big time with Brown Bear, Brown Bear and I made a Brown Bear Math Pack that is adorable! Its 50% off for the first 24 hours!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Brown-Bear-Math-Pack-1426698

I'm off to put Sullivan to sleep and get ready for my short week! Have a fun-filled 4 days!



Saturday, August 23, 2014

First Week Back! (Freebie)



Whew! My first full week is behind me! It was a BLAST! I cannot begin to tell you much fun it was!
 I have to admit that being able to get down on the floor and just play helps a lot with the stress! I've been caught in the midst of singing, dancing or playing with blocks more than once this week by other teachers, admin and parents. I'm not embarrassed at all, just loving having fun!

This first week we practiced procedures, a LOT. I mean, we went to centers, played for a bit, then cleaned up and came back to carpet to talk about it. Rinse and repeat. By the end of the week we were doing 20 minutes in a center and clean up is going well too! Except for block center. I'm still trying to figure out how to make cleaning up that center go well. The OCD teacher part of me wants all the blocks stacked by size and shape while the other part of me says forget it, that takes too much time, lets just dump them all in a bin. Which way do you store your blocks??

I have to say, we are aces at hallway procedure. Maybe because we are still haven't grasped walking and talking at the same time? I don't know, but goodness, my class is quieter in the hallway than any of the older kids! We are very proud of ourselves, and I know in time we'll also figure out how to walk on the correct side of the hallway - I'm thinking of going in this weekend and putting down masking tape. Do you have anything on your hallway floors to help keep a straight line?

One of our favorite activities this week was our "magic" water color name painting. We did this activity after reading Chrysanthemum and graphing how many letters were in each of our names. I had written everyone's name their paper with white crayon and they used the water color paint to reveal it. They needed a bit of help to really cover the page in color rather than just dab it here and there, but when they realized that letters were showing up they were amazed. I felt about 10 feet tall as they were gasping and giggling at each letter revealed!




We're also in love with our Pipe Builders from Lakeshore Learning.. Color me astonished, I had no idea that these little babies would be such a big hit. Some of my kids like to build straight up - building towers taller than they are, while some build convoluted mazes.




This week I received my gift from the Reddit Teacher 2014 Gift Event. I received a classpack of Crayola Crayons! I am so excited! How cool of a gift is this?!

Some other random bits of fun:

I loved listening to these girlies with their puppets. Right now we don't have our puppet theater out, and I only have our people puppets on display right now, so that the kids can ease into learning how to play at this center and tidy it up correctly. This proves the "less is more" theory - even with limited puppets, the kids have a blast and their conversations are priceless!

 Here are two of my sweet friends using magnifying glasses to examine the floor. Our custodian keeps it pristine, so they didn't find much, but I loved seeing them slither on their bellies as they talked about what they might find!

Here are two of my kiddos at Reading Center which only opened on Friday. I have to put the cds in and find the matching book, so I wanted to make sure the other centers were well established before opening one that would take some teacher help.

I now have proof that there is no germ like a pre-k germ! After 3 years of never getting sick, I have come down with a head cold! I'm talking fever, stuffy head, runny nose and general crappy feeling. And of course Sullivan caught it too! We're hoping its a quickly conquered bug!

Of course, this cold put the kibosh on my weekend plans of organizing my garage and getting things back in order after the BTS craziness. Not to mention I promised that we'd open our Sand & Water table center and I still haven't decided what to put in it first. I have all sorts of great ideas for it for throughout the year, don't get me wrong. I just haven't figured out a beginning-of-the-year-less-is-more-easy-clean-up idea for starting it up lol. What do you put in your Sand table first thing?

I'm hoping to be over this cold by tomorrow so I can share my plans for next week with you - I have a bunch of cool things I want to do, if I have the energy to get them sorted tomorrow!

Oh, and for those of you who were wondering about the ice cream game seen in one of the classroom setup photos I shared. It was a freebie I made a loooong time ago! I got the little bowls at the Dollar Tree, and had to make a game to match. 
Like many of my early freebies, I had it up on Scribd, but I just put it in Google Docs for convenience! You can grab it here.
 
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