Thursday, April 21, 2016

Woodland Friends Giveaway!

Over the years, one of the biggest things that I have learned as a teacher is that preparation for next year starts now. Yep, I know, we're all tired. We're counting down days, looking forward to the time off and more than ready to relax and recharge. The end of the year brings a TON of extra work - report cards, permanent records, end of year testing etc. To add to this just seems crazy, but trust me, when you're setting up your classroom next year, you're going to kick yourself if you don't do these simple steps now:

Label Your Boxes:
There's nothing worse than not being able to find something when you're setting up - or finding out that you put something breakable under a huge box of books. At my school, we have to take EVERYTHING down and pack it all up - everything has to be off the floor, in the cupboards or boxed up. Since we're a Summer Food Site and have different groups using our classrooms over the summer, any of our personal property that we don't want to walk off, has to go home with us. My garage is crammed full from the end of May until the beginning of August! If you're dealing with a lot of boxes, do a rough sketch of which boxes are where - you don't want to have to dig through the whole pile if you want to find something over the summer!

Figure Out Your Storage:

Where is your pile in your classroom? You know - the pile of paperwork that hasn't found a home yet - either student work, stuff that needs to be filed or the tons of stuff your get from administration. Look at your piles this year and make a plan to deal with them from the start next year. Over the summer you can shop for a storage system that will work so just jot down a note of what you want to look for.

Decide Your Decor:
Now is the time to figure out what your theme for next year will be. I'll never forget the year I chose a theme in July when at my local Teacher Store sale. Then I went to our Back To School meetings to find out that our principal had decided on a school-wide theme that totally did not go with what I had already purchased! There was also the time I fell in love with a decor set at a teacher store and bought it, only to find out that there were very few accessories that went with it! Before school ends, ask if there's going to be a school-wide theme next year, ask what your neighbors are doing, and figure out what direction you want to go in. You don't have to be matchy-matchy with everyone, but if you're the only odd-man out , people will wonder why you didn't get the memo.

This is where CTP's Exclusive Blogger giveaway can help! Today we're doing a big linky showcasing some of Creative Teaching Press' best decor themes - and debuting some exciting products that are coming soon! You can also enter to WIN on each of our blogs! There's nothing better than being able to save money at the beginning of the school year - and winning your decor set would be a great help!

My school is going with the very general theme of "Animals" next year. I love it, because we'll all be able to put our own spin on it! I'm going with Creative Teaching Press' Woodland Friends theme:
My over-arching theme will be "A Forest Of Knowledge" and all of the Woodland Friend characters and pieces will go with that! The Woodland Friends Welcome Bulletin Board set has so many fun pieces!
 These 9"x12" library pockets are going to be great for organization!
 How sweet will these Woodland Friends Reward Badges be for the first day of school or as an award for good behavior during the first week?

If you're like me, you're going to need plenty of coordinating borders to define your areas - I absolutely love the Patterned Pine Trees Border, the colorful Toadstools Border will be great for around my Writing Center blackboard, and of course the Woodland Friends Border is too cute with those adorable character faces!
 Who doesn't like stickers?! Use these Woodland Whimsy Hot Spot Stickers on student papers, to reward good behavior or to add a positive touch to a note home - there's 880 to a pack!
Need an individualized behavior plan? These Woodland Friends Student Incentive Charts can be used in so many ways!
 These 6" Toadstool Cut Outs are great for adding students' names throughout the room, labeling shelves or drawers or even better - use them to create fun Math games!

Do you love these adorable Woodland Friends as much as I do?! 
Then enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win everything I've mentioned here!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
For more Creative Teaching Press themes (and giveaways!) follow this button to the next Exclusive Blogger in the hop - Elisabeth from The Adventures of Miss Elisabeth!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

St. Patrick's Day: Traps, Magical Powder & More!

We had a blast with our St. Patrick's Day activities this week! We're on Spring Break this week, so we celebrated a week early. We had Silly McGilly visit our classroom and play harmless tricks like turning all of  the books upside down, putting gold and green gems in our Sensory Table and draping our SmartBoard in green scarves. One of my favorite things to do is have the children build Leprechaun Traps with their families - they always turn out so incredible! Here's some of the traps from this year:

I love this pipe cleaner ladder!

This trap used golden Easter eggs to try to lure the leprechaun!

Love that they used a real stick to prop open this trap!

The best thing about this trap was the surprise inside:

 It was filled with treats - enough for everyone in the class to get one of each item! Love this family!

 This mini trap was adorable - inside was a tiny lego chair for the leprechaun to rest on!

On Friday we set up all the traps right before recess:

 We sprinkled Lucky Charms cereal around the traps to attract the leprechauns.

 When we came back, all of the traps had been sprung, but we didn't catch a leprechaun :(
He did leave us milk, cookies and Magical Leprechaun Powder though!
(when we mixed the powder with milk it turned into green pudding!)

We watched the Roy G. Biv video on YoutTube and learned about the colors of the rainbow, and then created our own using scrapbook paper:

I put an arch of glue down and had the kids work on one color at a time, to simplify the process.
Here they are in the hallway, with our Torn Paper Paper Plate Leprechauns:
I had the kids cut out their own eyes, and since most couldn't do circles yet, they produced a lot of triangles, squares and rectangles! I love how it makes them even more unique!

My favorite part was turning my kiddos into leprechauns! I use this pattern to create the leprechaun hat and a beard, then took each child's photo in the costume. I printed out the photos and cut them out to display with our "If I was a leprechaun..." dictated writing.

In Math Center we used my St. Patrick's Day  Roll & Cover mats with lima beans that were spray painted green on one side:

And in Letter Center we used our green gel baggies with my St. Patrick's Day Alphabet Match-Up cards!

If you want to plan a leprechaun's visit to your classroom, check out my freebie on TPT: How to Plan a Leprechaun Visit!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Dr. Seuss Week

As every elementary teacher is probably aware, this was Dr. Seuss week. I've won the Best Door Decoration contest several years running, so I was prepared to bring it this year and decided to do my whole bulletin board for the contest! We did a little bit each day, and I planned to have it completely finished Thursday for voting on Friday.
This was last year's display, I made each child into a different Seuss character!

Then on Thursday I got a call from my husband during morning recess that Sullivan had fallen at daycare and he was taking him to Urgent Care for stitches. I had that moment of immense guilt - do I stay at school since my husband is already handling it, or do I leave and go be with my baby anyways? Yes, I actually considered staying at school when my 2 year old was getting stitches. I'm not sure if that qualifies me for the Worst Mommy award or the Best Teacher award. I ended up taking 15 minutes to prep stuff for the afternoon and then taking off. I swear, holding him down for the lidocaine shots and 3 stitches was the worst experience ever!
Look at this face! He's got the pathetic look down pat! He got a popsicle after the procedure, and that's all he took away from the whole experience - not the accident itself, not the blood or the 20 minutes of screaming bloody murder as he was held down but "The nice man gave me popsicle!" Ahh, the power of frozen sugar water!

After we got him home and calmed down, I snuck back to school for the last hour of the afternoon and then stayed until 7pm - prepping for a sub for Friday and finishing the bulletin board for the contest:

It's not exactly what I had planned, but I'm pretty darn proud of it anyways! I got the idea for the background with the window, curtains and silhouettes from Buzzing with Ms. B. It was so simple to do - the hardest part was scrunching the crepe paper for the top border lol!

We used apple cutouts for our Ten Apples Up On Top (and I cannot get the song version out of my head! LOVE it:

Some of my kiddos chose to just sort the apples and use one color, others did a random mix and still others made patterns:

We did handprint Things 1-20 for The Cat in the Hat:

On the bottom edge are the shoes we did for The Foot Book, we traced our feet on construction paper, colored them and cut them out, and then compared them. Our biggest and smallest foot were placed on the sign, and the others displayed on the bottom edge of the board:

My personal favorite part though, was the "Dr. Seuss" spelled out at the top - the kids laid on the floor in the shape of the letters and I took a picture from on top of a table. I colorized them on my computer and I love the way they came out!

On Friday I stayed home with Sully, so I had the substitute read Green Eggs and Ham and then I brought in Deviled Green Eggs and Ham Sandwiches as a snack in the afternoon.
I used food coloring to dye the mustard green, and to to dye the egg yolk mixture for the deviled eggs. Since I wasn't there to cook the eggs and ham in class, this was my compromise! The kids were cautious, but most ended up eating it - with several asking for seconds. Funnily enough, it was mostly the boys who were leery of eating it, the girls dove right in lol! 

Next week is our last week before Spring Break (yay!) so we're doing a ton of Leprechaun fun! Check out my freebie: How to Plan a Leprechaun Visit and then grab my free Lucky Leprechaun Graphing  and my Lucky Measuring Fun pack!
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