Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bright Ideas for Clean-Up

It's that time again! I'm linking up with the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!

Has this ever happened to you? You're deep in a lesson, it's going great, kids are engaged, you're so excited you pick up a marker and start writing on the board only to realize you've grabbed a Sharpie! You barely stop your descent into cuss-word town and quickly grab a dry erase marker (because the lesson must go on of course!). At the end of the day you're looking at the permanent marker on your board and wondering if a) there's anyway to remove it and b) if there isn't is there some way you can incorporate it into a daily lesson so no one notices.
Well, even if this has never happened to you, chances are at some point one of your minions of Sharpie destruction darling students will at some point accidentally write with the wrong marker on a whiteboard. This is ok, because there is a simple trick to cleaning it up:
Just grab a dry erase marker - color doesn't matter - and trace over the permanent marker with it. then erase. Yep, that's it. Voila, it's gone!
(No trick photography was used in this tutorial.)

Simple right? Can you believe I was teaching for a whole year before I learned that?!

Ok, if you already knew that one, maybe this one is new to you:

This is one of my fabulous caddies! I've had this caddy for 5 years. The reason I've had it for 5 years is because a) it's fabulous and holds a whole table's worth of pencils, scissors, glue bottles, crayons and notebooks neatly, and b)I bought it at Walmart, it's now only available around BTS time (it's a shower caddy for all those youngsters heading off to college dorms) but it's hit or miss whether my nearest store will have them and in which colors. Therefore, these puppies have to last!
Unfortunately, the kids like to color on them. It doesn't matter how many times you tell them to color on paper, or how much paper you give them, eventually there will be crayon marks on them. It used to be that I couldn't figure out why all of my caddy coloring friends always ended up at yellow table each year (I rotate table groups frequently so you'd think all the caddies would have the same graffiti) but what I've since realized is that the crayon shows up much better on the yellow caddy than any of the darker colors. This encourages the kids to keep coloring, and makes the yellow caddy the graffiti center of our room.
Since I can't start the year with graffiti'd caddies, I have to get that crayon off somehow. I tried child labor with regular sponges with the green bristly side, but their weak little arms just can't scrub hard enough, sigh. Then I came across Mr. Clean Magic Erasers. Now my child labor is much more effective!
Each Magic Eraser cleans 2-3 caddies. They also work great on getting crayon marks off tables, walls, chairs - basically any hard surface!

Finally, the Magic Scrap Game. If you haven't heard of this one, you've been missing out. Basically, when your room is a wreck - after an intense craft session, Valentine's party, indoor recess etc. - you tell the kids you're going to play the Magic Scrap Game. The rules are simple:

1. You secretly designate one item as the "magic scrap". Once that item is picked up/put away/thrown out, the game is over.
2. Kids may not ask if they've found the "magic scrap". They may not ask if they're getting close, and they may not ask the category of the "scrap". It might be a craft supply, piece of trash, coat, backpack - whatever needs to be cleaned up!
3. The game must be played quietly and quickly. If the noise gets out of control the game is over. If the scrap is not found in a set time limit, the game is over. This encourages the children to put things away in a timely fashion, unlike my own children who can turn cleaning their rooms into a 3 day affair.

Secret Teacher tip: Don't actually pick your "magic scrap" until most of the room is already clean - this ensures that it isn't one of the first things picked up, thus ending the game with the room still a wreck. Generally I pick a "scrap" that is by someone who is actually working hard at cleaning. Sometimes it's a friend who may need a lift that day, or who rarely gets rewarded for good behavior etc. The reward for winning can be as simple as a high five and the announcement that "Wow, Johnny is a great cleaner, he found the Magic Scrap! Thanks for working so hard!". Sometimes I'll give a sticker or stamp, but I generally try not to make the reward too big. You also shouldn't play this game too often - save it for the big clean-ups!

Want some more Bright Ideas? Check out these!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rhyming Farm Books & Crafts!

I'm back from Vegas! I have to say, I was a bit disappointed because Sullivan did not seem to miss me at all. Seriously! He was asleep when I got home early Saturday morning so I waited anxiously for him to wake up. He cracked his eyes open, I cooed at him, and he just smiled and flipped over, ready to get his day started - like I hadn't even been gone! Don't get me wrong, I'm happy my husband and older children took such good care of him while I was away, but I'm thinking that maybe they could've fallen down on the job just a little, so Sullivan would have been relieved to see me - "Here's the woman that feeds me!" or "Finally, my butt will get changed in a timely fashion!" or "Well thank goodness you're back, I'm about to pass out from my own stench!" but noooo, he was fed, bathed, changed and played with so well that he could have cared less that I was gone...sigh....
 This is one of the pics my hubby texted me while I was away - that boy is g-o-n-e,  gone!

Today I'm joining up with Mrs. Jump's Class again for Book Talk Tuesday!

At the beginning of the year I always do a Farm Unit because we have a County Fair the first week of September and my students can go and see the free petting zoo with all sorts of farm animals. I like to try to tie our units to events that are happening in our community that they can access at little or no cost. At the beginning of the year I'm also focusing on the phonemic awareness skill of rhyming. Today I'm going to share several books that combine the Farm theme with predictable rhyming text and fun illustrations:
1st up: Sheep Out to Eat. This is a very simple book with a cute story about sheep who go out to eat, only to find that the lawn is what they want for lunch. With only a line or two of text per page, its also great for teaching one-to-one correspondence and directionality. Since there are 5 other rhyming Sheep stories by the same author, we usually read them all and make this paper plate sheep!

2nd:When Cows Come Home. This one has fun illustrations and a silly story about cows riding bikes and pulling sleighs. Each page has 4 lines and every other line rhymes. Here's a free paper plate cow craft that goes perfectly!

3rd:Big Red Barn. This book is also great for learning "big" and "little" and we always do a lot of counting of the eggs, the kittens, and the puppies! There's a free barn template here for a fun painting craft.

4th: Barnyard Banter . I think this book has my favorite illustrations! It goes through both common barn animals and more exotic ones like peacocks, all in the quest to find Goose, who is chasing a butterfly through the pages. This paper plate goose craft is simple and quick!

5th: Mrs. Wishy-Washy's Farm. Who hasn't heard of Mrs. Wishy-Washy?! I love how the animals go from not liking Mrs. Wishy-Washy to being happy to see her. The text is more complex than some of the other books, but there are solid rhymes on each page. Here's a cute Mrs. Wishy-Washy paper plate craft too!

6th:Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore! This book isn't actually set on a farm, instead the pigs invade a normal home, coming by boat, plane, bus and train. Be warned, while some pigs are from France, others are just in their underpants! Cue the hysterical laughter from students! This piggy craft is simple enough for young students, although I usually trace them myself.

7th:There's a Cow in the Cabbage Patch. I love the collage art in this book! All of the animals are in the wrong place "There's a cow in the cabbage patch, moo moo moo! She should be in the dairy, what shall we do?" and so on down through horses, pigs, roosters, sheep even doves and an owl! To go with this story, this handprint horse craft is adorable!

8th:Sixteen Cows. This is the story of two farms, each with 8 cows. One day a tornado destroys the fence seperating them and the sixteen cows get mixed up. Cowboy Gene and Cowgirl Sue each try to sing their cows home, to no avail. Luckily they fall in love and combine their herds! Since we live in Tornado Alley, this is a non-scary way to bring up tornado safety. Here's a tornado craft we do too.

9th: Barnyard Song. In this rhyming book, all of the animals catch the barnyard flu thanks to a bee and the farmer has to feed them all soup! This footprint bee goes very well with this story!

10th:Barn Dance! . The skinny kid can't sleep, so he goes to investigate "music honeyed up by the ol' scarecrow". He ends up dancing with the scarecrow and all of the farm animals in the barn, wearing a hole in the toe of his sock! This one has more text and more advanced language, so its a good idea to pull out some words ahead of time for a vocabulary study. Since the dancing is started by the scarecrow with a fiddle, this paper bag scarecrow craft is a must-do!

There you have it! 10 awesome rhyming books for a Farm theme! I'll be blogging more about our crafts and activities for Farm in September, so be on the look out for that! I'm also working on a freebie - looks like I might get it done for tomorrow so check back! Have a great week and don't check the calendar - summer is speeding by way too quickly!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hello from Vegas!

Hello from Las Vegas! I'm here at the I Teach K conference all week - my first time away from my family in 8 years! I told my husband I need proof of life photos every morning and evening lol! Here's what he texted me yesterday:
I'm trying not to cringe at the news that since I left Sunday afternoon my family has eaten at Panda Express, IHop, Braum's AND ordered pizza! Not only will we be completely broke by the time I get home, but they will all have gained 20 pounds! I can't really complain though since I told hubby all I wanted was for everyone to survive the week. At least I know he's feeding them right? (and heck, did we really NEED those college funds?! My family's just helping out the economy right?!)

I'm having a blast in Vegas - my team is with me - Terry who teaches K, Janie who teaches T-1 and DeMarsha who is actually moving to Japan to teach K in an ESL school for the next 2 years! How awesome is that?! To make it even more awesome, she got engaged last night! Talk about a conference to remember!

Speaking of remembering, there is SO MUCH I need to remember! I am taking notes and pictures like craycray because I have been inspired in each session I've attended! So far I've seen some of my favorite bloggers in action ~ Deanna Jump, DeeDee Wills, and Kim Adsit!
Here I am with Deanna Jump - isn't she precious?!

I also met my new bestest friend Dan St. Romain who is an educational consultant who is awesome! Seriously, he's my new bestest friend because I KNOW I will be contacting him this year to help me figure out some interventions for behaviors! I'm crossing my fingers that my district will bring him in to speak, because his message is inspiring!
 Finally found someone taller than me - Pete Harry!

 The best part of today was seeing Pete and Ryan Harry in action. What a talented family! I saw their sessions back to back and I was so impressed. My favorite quote was from Ryan Harry: "What will you do that you've never done before, to become a better teacher?" I have a whole new list of songs and chants to use this year!

I'm off to dinner, I'll try to blog more tomorrow! I am so thankful to Fund For Teachers for allowing me this opportunity!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Bright Ideas Blog Hop ~ Shower Curtain Rings and PVC.

I'm coming to you today with the Bright Ideas Blog Hop:

My idea today is for quick, inexpensive chart stands. In my classroom I had exactly 1 chart stand. There were no extra ones in our building or in the district's warehouse, so I looked into buying one. Wow, talk about pricey! Well my husband makes his own target stands out of wood and sometimes pvc, so I asked him if he could come up with chart stands too. My needs were simple - light-weight, easy to move around, able to be put on a table or floor. He ended up making them out of pvc since it was the simplest, most cost effective option that didn't need a whole lot of tools.

He used four t-joints per frame, and two elbow joints. He cut the pvc with a hack saw. I had previously bought 2 different sizes of pocket charts at the Target Dollar Spot, so he made the charts to fit those sizes. Of course it could be made bigger or smaller, depending on your own chart size. Coincidentally, we had just switched out our shower curtains and I had saved the old rings "just in case" (teachers never throw anything away, right?). Well they are perfect for holding up the charts! If you don't have shower curtain hooks on hand a simple s-type hook from a hardware store would work too.
Here's my first stand, just plain pvc. He made me three stands for less than $20 and I immediately took them to school and started using them. Then my husband said he could spray paint them, to make them look nicer. I loved the idea, but I already had them in my classroom, so I told him it was no big deal and we'd get to it whenever, I was just happy to have the chart stands as they were. That week, the week before Valentine's Day, we had an evening program at school. As we were leaving my husband grabbed the stands out of my room, told me he could spray paint them that weekend and they'd be ready to go Monday morning. I didn't think anything of it, until on Valentine's Day, I walked into our hotel room and saw this:
 How sweet is my man?!

Here's one of the stands in action, post-spray panting. It's the perfect size to fit on my table and when centers are over, the feet get turned sideways and it leans against the wall behind my big chart stand. Its light-weight enough that the kids can carry it to the table and set it up, but with the feet its sturdy enough that it sits securely on the table and we never had one fall off.

Well there's my idea for shower curtain rings and pvc, so now go find some more Bright Ideas at this month's hop!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Let's Talk About Books Linky ~ With FREEBIE!

As I was thinking of books to share with you this week, I was reminded of a day back in the spring. It was one of those mornings - woke up late because the alarm didn't go out, my boys were slowpokes getting ready and then the baby needed an outfit change right before we went out the door. In the midst of the chaos I ended up forgetting the book that I needed for my lesson that day. "Oh well," I thought, "I'll just grab it from the school library instead."

Unfortunately, when I went into the library, our sweet librarian had never heard of the book! I was floored, flabbergasted, dumbfounded! This is the sweetest book, that lends itself so well to the classroom! It's followed by another book that might even be better! I thought that it must be a popular, well-known book that we'd for sure have in our school library! Once I had enthused about the book to our librarian and got her to add it to her wishlist of books to be bought when we get money, I headed off to adjust my lesson plans. I ended up doing the lesson the next day (I packed the book in the car the night before this time!) and my kids loved it, as expected.

Anyways, because of that experience, I thought that maybe some of you out there hadn't heard of this book yet either, and I decided to share it for my linky book! How Rocket Learned to Read:

It's about Rocket, a reluctant learner. He's reluctant because he was just looking for a place to take a nap lol! But the little yellow bird assures him that he must be a student because she is his teacher - that's the kind of logic a dog can't argue his way out of!

The little yellow bird had hung a banner in the meadow, "Ah, the wondrous, mighty, gorgeous alphabet," she marveled, "Where it all begins."

The little bird starts to read a story, and soon Rocket is listening instead of napping. When she pauses at an exciting part, Rocket calls out, desperate to know more:

But the little yellow bird was gone! The next day, Rocket shows up early and asks to hear the rest of the story. The little yellow bird gives him a name tag and then begins to read. Each day she teaches him a new letter and then they start to sound out things like Mr. Barker's growl:
They do a whole lot of sounding out of words like F-A-L-L and R-E-D and WHOOSSHHHHH which is the sound the wind makes. The little yellow bird reads him stories about dogs, and about birds flying south for the winter. Then one day she flys away and reminds him "Words are built one letter at a time!"

Rocket spends the winter practicing his letters:

Spelling out words:
Spelling his friends' names:

Until finally it is spring and the little yellow bird returns! They read his favorite story, and then they read it again, and again and A-G-A-I-N!
Isn't it precious?! I love the illustrations and I love that Rocket spells out things in his everyday environment! Rocket was a hit with my students too, they asked me to reread the story over and over. The next book in the series is Rocket Writes a Story and is great for a writer's workshop!

I made this alphabet game that can go along with Rocket's story as a freebie for you! Just click the picture to go download it!

Now head on over to Mrs. Jump's Class for other book ideas!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Tuesday Book Talk with The Pigeon!

On the last day of school, at the very end of the day, I gathered all of my firsties around for one more read-aloud. Well, it was supposed to be one more. But, when it comes to Mo Willem's Pigeon books, well it's kind of like Lay's potato chips ~ you can't read just one! Even though we had read these books previously - me aloud and most of my kiddos individually - they were still so involved in the stories and enjoyed them immensely. I'm happy that was their last memory of their first grade year!

The Pigeon was on our mind because in April, Mo Willems came out with the 6th installment of the Pigeon series, The Pigeon Needs a Bath! If you haven't introduced the Pigeon to your classroom, you're going to want to, and if you already know and love the Pigeon, make sure you check out his hilarious bath time book! Look to your right and you'll see links to the Pigeon books on Amazon on the side bar, as well as some of Mo's other books - I've got almost every book he's written and I can say he hasn't written a bad one yet!

My kiddos loved this latest book and we did some fabulous writing - unfortunately I forgot to take pictures before I tucked those writing pieces into their cumulative folders. I was so tickled at the thought of them reading their stories in 4 years when they leave 5th grade that I forgot that I wanted to share them here too! Luckily I didn't forget to take pictures of our art:
In order to make these, we practiced drawing the Pigeon on our whiteboards first (Mo's tutorial is here) and then drew the Pigeon again on a plain piece of copy paper. Next we used the torn paper technique to cover our pigeons with blue and orange construction paper, and used a black marker to outline eyes, collars and wings. We added chenille stems for the legs and bent them to make the feet. I think they turned out super cute - and they were all so unique!

The best part about the Pigeon series of books is that they are so interactive - the kids respond to every single page. It is great to see them take on an authoritative role - and to hear them parrot the same phrases their parents probably use on them when they want to get out of going to bed or taking a bath!

The other great thing about the Pigeon series is that it lends itself to a class book so well! One year we made "Don't Let The Pigeon Be a Substitute Teacher" through Student Treasures:
I could go on and on, but why should I when I can send you over to Pigeon Presents, Mo's site that has a ton of cool stuff, including games, posters, coloring pages and teachers guides!

Now head over to Mrs. Jump's Class to check out what other bloggers are saying about books! She's having a fun linky all about books that you're going to want to read every week!
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