Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New School Year Resolutions Linky!

I'm linking up with  Amanda of Teaching Maddeness to discuss resolutions today!


As the new school year looms closer and closer on the horizon, I am starting to panic a bit. I did not get nearly enough prepared this summer! Blame it on the sleeping late and lazy days, or the excessive pinteresting, either way, I need to get my butt in gear! Although I have been collecting tons of great ideas/files, I haven't been so good about actually printing them out, and cutting and laminating! So this linky is just what I need to focus my mind on the new school year! Here, in no particular order, are my resolutions:

1. Take 15 minutes daily to grade and return papers. Hopefully I won't have to do any more mammoth grading sessions this way! Honestly most of our "work" only requires a quick check and sticker, but I have a tendency to procrastinate.

2. Put things away right away, rather than letting them pile up. Often times I'll set something on my desk thinking "I'll file it later" or "I'll get that box out in a minute." and then get busy and never actually go back to put it away. So this resolution is to not put off until later what I can do right now. Hopefully this can help me keep my work areas tidy!

3. Do lesson plans on Friday nights so I have my weekends free! No more procrastinating until Sunday night and then trying to do everything to get ready for the week all at once.

4. LEAVE WORK AT A DECENT TIME! This one gets all caps because I am horrible at it. Some teachers are out the door at 4pm like clockwork. I know I'll never attain that standard, but leaving work at 6pm (or later) is ridiculous! So I plan to stay for only an hour after school each day. I want to be out of my classroom at 5pm, that way I can run home and get dinner on the table by 5:45! This one is going to be tough, so I'm going to tie it to another one.

5. Get my blog post up by 7:30pm so that I can spend the rest of the night OFF the computer - this way I can hang out with my kiddos, be part of their bedtime rituals and have some time with my husband too.

Okay those are my top 5. Hopefully by making them public this way I'll be more likely to stick to them! Head over to link up - I want to read about your resolutions too!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Made It!

I'm linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics again for another Monday Made-It! Today I'm featuring a few things that other people made for me! But don't worry, at the very end of this post you'll see what I made!

First up, I have to share what Kaci, from Mrs. Hoffer's Spot, made for me for our Okie Blogger Meet-Up:

It's a sticky note holder! Love it!

By the way, the meet-up was a blast! Only three of us showed up as various commitments prevented others from attending, but the three of us had a great time! We were there for over 3 hours! I was nervous that we wouldn't have enough to talk about, but we could have talked for many hours more if we hadn't all had a drive ahead of us to get home! Nichole from Who's on First? was there along with Kaci and I - she is hilarious and is having her first giveaway, so make sure you click over and enter!

The food was also spectacular, although I was the only little piggie who actually finished my cheesecake! But, in my defense it was Dutch Apple Pie Cheesecake. As a responsible person of Dutch descent it was my duty to finish every bite!

Here's a picture of the three of us:
 
Oh, I have to borrow a phrase from Miss Squirrels at this point: "What the Heck?!?"


Yes folks, that is a llama in the backseat of that car. A live llama, in the backseat of a car driving down the highway after the Blogger Meet -Up. I am still trying to figure out how they got it in there, and then how they got it to lay quietly. And boy, it is ever creepy to look down at the car next to you and see a llama staring back!

Next up, what my daughter made for me for breakfast this morning:
 Omelet with stuffed peppers, coffee and breakfast shake. If your child is thinking of a culinary career, encourage them! Then maybe you too will get yummy breakfasts in bed for no reason!

I have to admit, I did not do much making this week. I have been working on my behavior clipchart and it's finally finished! I made two different versions, just because I couldn't decide which one I liked better.


Here's what my daughter made me:

Isn't he cute? He's made out of a toilet paper roll, yarn, beads and some felt scraps we had left over from another project. She decided to make him all on her own - just cause she loves me :) I think I won the daughter lottery - she's creative and she can cook! Seriously, she's a big help in the classroom - she's my go-to- helper for classroom set-up and organizing. She also helps with my dismissal procedures because she usually gets off the bus about 10 minutes before my school day ends - so she comes down to my room and helps hand out papers and planners and entertain the troops for the last little bit!

Okay, here's my justification for linking up. I know it's not much, but I made it and that's a miracle considering how busy this last week has been! I made this simple sign with a variation on the popular "We do" word art. I had a ton of fun going through all my different fonts! Then I cut a piece of scrapbook paper to fit into my printer, printed the words directly on it and put it the frame. A little mod podge to stick my little monster to the front and voila! a fun "We do" sign that fits with my decor!


By the way, my bloggy buddy Jeannie from Kindergarten Lifestyle is having a 1000 follower freebie frenzy! She's got a ton of freebies for you - including one from me :) Head over quickly though because at the end of the week she's pulling the plug and those freebies will be gone!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Winners! Meet-Up & Assorted!

First up, the winners of my Donorschoose giveaway! I wish I could donate to all of your projects, you all have some great ideas for improving your classrooms! But, here are the three winners as picked by the rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I'll be emailing your giftcards to you shortly!


Next up, the winner of my mini giveaway on my water beads post! The official count was 381 water beads and jenbrett came closest with her guess of 375! Unfortunately there is no email attached to her account. Jen please email me at ingen77@yahoo.com to tell me your choice of anything from my TPT store! If I don't hear from Jen in 48 hours I'll go to the next closest answer :)

Today is the Okie Blogger Meet-Up. I am so excited! It felt like it was never going to come together, but it looks like we're going to have a good turn out and a fabulous time! I am definitely eating cheesecake! I am a little nervous about driving to the city by myself - cross your fingers that I don't get too lost!

Hmm this post seems abnormally short - I've been used to writing huge, longs ones lately!  Well, I'll just add this Melissa & Doug deal where you can get some great deals on items for your Home Center, like this wooden/velcro pizza set!

Also, please go vote for me on the Circle of Moms!



And finally, a little freebie for any of you with a Wild classrooms! I created my own version of the Noise level poster that is so popular!

Just click the picture to go download it for free on Scribd! By the way, the Scribd preview looks funky, but I promise the actual file looks like the picture above lol!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Playdough Center

It's Friday and that means it's time for another Center installment! So far I've covered Block Center, Sensory Center, and Science Center. Today's post is devoted to the Playdough Center! I was actually conflicted, had several ideas for which center would be next, then I opened up my email and found that From the Pond's Graphic Club's daily clipart bundle was playdough! Well, obviously that was a sign, right?

I love playdough! I love the smell of it and the feel of it squishing between my fingers. To me there's just something soothing about working a ball of play dough. At every marriage retreat we've been to, there has always been play-dough cotnainers on the table for those adults who like to fidget. You know if the Army spends money on it, it must be good!

Here are some of the benefits of "playing" with playdough:

Fine Motor Development - working the dough also works muscles and tendons! The same little muscles that are needed to hold a pencil, are also worked by playing with playdough! I have had more success in improving handwriting skills by sending home a can of playdough than if I had sent home 100 handwriting work sheets!

Stress Relief - There's nothing like squishing a ball of dough or poking at it to relieve anger and tension. Sometimes young children need an acceptable outlet for their feelings. If a child is very angry, handing them some playdough might help them get some of those angry feelings out without having a meltdown.

Imagination - playdough can be anything! You can make it into animals, people, pies and cookies. Anything a child thinks of can be accomplished with playdough. I've heard students acting out stories with playdough creatures, collaborating together to expand on an idea or reenact a story we've read.

Communication Skills - children at playdough center are rarely quiet - if they're not enacting some type of imaginary play, then they are describing their creation!

Self-Esteem - nothing makes a child more proud than to be able to show off something they've made! It's even better if you take a picture of them with their creation! Even if you have no idea what it is, the child is so excited that someone has seen what he has made - it tells him that you value him enough to stop to look at him.

Math - Children can make numbers, count how many objects they have made, or compare and measure what they've made "My snake is longer than Eric's snake!"  or "My tower is taller than Hailey's tower!". They can even form 2d and 3d shapes!

Literacy - children can make letters, spell out their name or cvc words or they can reenact stories they've read.

Okay, so now that we've reviewed the benefits of including a Playdough Center in your classroom, what do you need?

Obviously playdough! But, you can go with the ubiquitous yellow cans or make your own! I have to admit that I have not made my own playdough for school before. I've done some for my own kids, but hadn't incorporated it into  my classroom yet! This is something I'm going to work on this year as the different textures and scents you can add to homemade playdough will enhance the learning! There a lot of playdough recipes out there, I've pinned a few to my Playdough board on Pinterest if you want to take a peak.

Once you have your dough, you'll want some accessories to go with it (whoa, Laura Numeroff moment there!) Forget buying those pricy sets at the toy store - raid your kitchen drawers and cabinets, pick up a few things at The Dollar Tree (you know you're going soon anyways!) and then take a nature walk. Presto! You have almost everything you need for making your Playdough Center an engaging activity for your students!

I've made some cute little color matching cards with these adorable playdough graphics and bundled them with the above page in a free file on Scribd (I'll put it on TPT after the site stops being wonky!) I hope this gives you some ideas for improving or establishing your Play dough Center!


If you'd like some free playdough mats, be sure to check out Making Learning Fun which has a ton of great resources too!

I'm off to get some beauty sleep before the Okie Blogger Meet-up tomorrow! If you're in the OKC area meet us at The Cheesecake Factory at 2pm tomorrow :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A Little Bit of Fun & a Chance to Win!

Want to hear something funny? I was in such pain yesterday (dental visit) that I was popping acetaminophen and ibuprofen like it was candy and was still miserable. Then my dentist called to check if everything was alright, and what did I tell him? "Yes, everything's fine, thanks for calling!" For some reason I just couldn't admit to weakness lol. My face is still a bit swollen, but it's feeling a lot better. Hopefully I'll be 100% soon!

Recently I tried something with my kiddos that I thought might be perfect for my kinders! I had visions of doing a sensory center activity, but my kids showed me how we could go in so many more directions with it!
First up, science! We talked about the absorption of water:


Then we observed and described:


We had a bit of imaginary fun :


Then we hit some basic math skills:


We finished up with number sense:


Do you have a guess? Let's make this fun, the person with the closest guess will win their choice of one item from my TPT store! Just Rustle Up a Response below to play :) If you want to get your own beads you can check your local crafting store, or check out these deals from Amazon:


Speaking of TPT , my Christmas in July sale is extended through today - I don't have many seasonal units, but the ones I do have are 20% off today! Lots of other bloggers are having similar sales too!

There are a few giveaways I have to give a shout out to:


First, my Donorschoose giveaway ends tomorrow so make sure you've entered!

Next, check out Kerri's giveaway, you can win lots of great items, including your choice of anything from my store!

Lisa is giving away a bunch of gift cards so you can get some great things for Back-to-School for free!

Also, check out Lindsay's Blogiversary giveaway for a $20 Target gift card!


My Life as a 3rd Grade Teacher



Louanne is also have a giveaway for a gift card! Your choice of Target or Walmart and it's for $25!


Oh! I'd love it if you voted for me too! Apparently voting has been open for a while but I didn't know so I'm totally behind in promoting this lol! Better late than never though, right?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Story of Abby

I survived my trip to the dentist this morning - only by way of the nitrous oxide. I was white knuckled just during the cleaning, so when it came time to have my fillings redone I begged for the gas! As I was laying there, trying to remember to breathe normally, I thought about how odd it was that I freaked out about a dental visit when in reality I am not usually a worrier. I rarely freak out about anything - which led me to think about the one time that I almost freaked out and then recovered. It came to me then - while I was inhaling happy gas and the dentist was drilling away, that I ought to tell you all about Abby. Maybe someone out there needs to read this today, or maybe the happy gas just made me loopy, but here goes!

13 years ago, after Steven and I got married, I started hinting for a kitten. I am a cat person. My husband is not. I got pregnant with our daughter right away, and those pregnancy hormones were working over time, which means I was pestering him like crazy for a kitten! So one day, Steven takes off work a bit early (his SGT kept coming around my office looking for him so I knew something was up) and then insisted we stop at the mall on the way home. We went into the pet shop and as I oohed and ahhed over the kittens, he disappeared for a few minutes. I knew he had bought something, but it wasn't a live animal because it fit in his pocket. I was curious, but trying not to let on like I knew something was up.

We got home and Steven told me to wait in the living room while he went to the bedroom. I just knew I was getting a kitten! I was so excited! Then, this came out of our bedroom:


Yep. My husband had gotten me a dog! He had gone to the Humane Society and fell in love with Abby. She was mostly chocolate lab and about 2 years old they said. She had been abused before we got her - there were places on her back we couldn't touch because she was so bruised. When I took out the broom to sweep the kitchen she cowered in terror and peed on herself. Luckily none of her injuries were serious and she soon occupied a place in my heart as well. She was sweet and silly and a good little mother to all her little stuffed animals. That was back in the day when Taco Bell sold the stuffed chihuahuas and she had almost every one in the collection!

When our daughter was born, Abby was fascinated. She slept in Moira's room, and was always underfoot during 3am feedings. As Moira got more mobile, she was able to pull on Abby's ears and tug on her tail and Abby calmly accepted it. We were a happy little family of 4.

Then one morning, as we were going to work at 5am, I found 2 tiny kittens in the middle of our driveway. They were barely old enough to be weaned, sitting there all by themselves, crying. We adopted those kittens and Abby and Moira were thrilled with the new companions.

By this time Moira was almost 15 months old, still not too steady on her feet and she much preferred to crawl everywhere. Steven was deployed to Saudi Arabia for 6 months, the week before our 2nd wedding anniversary. Here's a picture of Steven and Moira on the day he left:


About a week after Steven left, the Monday of the 4 day weekend for Labor Day, it was dinner time and I was feeding everyone. The kittens had developed a little game that they played with Abby, just to pester her. As she ate her food they would dash up to her bowl, hopping sideways and swiping at her food. She would respond by snapping at the air, because they were too quick for her to catch. This was a nightly routine and they all seemed to enjoy it. I had just set Abby's food dish down and turned to refill the cat dish when I heard the usual commotion by Abby's dish, followed by the most eerie cry I had ever heard.

I turned around in time to see Moira putting her blood covered hands on the wall, trying to stagger to her feet. I realized right away what had happened: Moira had crawled up next to the food dish and Abby had snapped, probably thinking it was a kitten, and caught Moira right on the face. I grabbed Moira up and ran for the phone. Luckily I had just finished folding a load of wash and there was a clean towel on top of the laundry basket right next to the phone. I grabbed it and tried to stop the bleeding as best I could while I dialed 911.

Only, there was no dial tone! This was back in the day of dial up internet and I couldn't use the phone until I disconnected the internet connection! By this time I was nearly hyperventilating, Moira was screaming her head off and when the 911 operator finally came on the line I could barely make out what she was saying. I shouted my info to the operator, just a jumble of words. I remember saying "The dog bit my baby. I think it got her eye!" and then repeating my address over and over again. By this time I couldn't even comprehend what the operator was saying, but I heard sirens so I ran outside to the driveway.

I sat Moira on the trunk of my car and tried to reposition the sopping wet towel to apply more pressure to the wounds. At this point I realized that I was chanting "Oh my God, oh my God" over and over again. I realized that the last thing Moira needed was for me to lose it so I took a deep breath and made myself calm down.

The firemen were the first on the scene and as the truck rolled up to the curb I ran to them and thrust Moira into the arms of the nearest firefighter. They were able to look her over a bit more calmly and reassure me that the dog had not gotten her eye, she had missed it by millimeters!

Next was a series of questions as we waited for the ambulance. Was Abby current on her rabies shots? Yes. Where were her tags? On her collar. Where was her collar? Around her neck. Where was she? Still in the house. Would she bite if they went inside? I don't think so, she'd never bitten before and we'd had her 2 years! Two firemen went into the house to investigate. They came out and remarked "She's a really sweet dog, she's sitting on the couch and she wagged her tail at us!"

The ambulance came and we headed for the hospital. Thankfully I was in full control of myself by this point so I could tell them we needed to go to the military hospital and I was able to answer all their medical questions and try to get Moira calmed down a bit too. When we got to the emergency room, Moira was examined by a very nice, young doctor who told me that he could try to stitch her up in the E.R. or he could call in some specialists to do it in surgery. Umm, specialists please!

As Moira was wheeled into the O.R., I contacted my commander to report what was going on and asked them to send a message to Steven so when he called that night and I didn't answer the phone he wouldn't worry. Next thing I knew the commander was in the waiting room with me. He took one look at me, covered in blood, and called his wife to bring me some clean clothes. When she arrived I was able to wash off the blood and change in the bathroom, and then we waited and waited.

It took several hours before the surgeon came out. They told me they had stopped counting after 110 stitches. Moira would be alright, but she'd have permanent scars. They remarked that it was obvious that the dog had not bitten down, because the wounds were just punctures and tears were the skin was thin. Had she bitten down she would have torn Moira's nose off.

We ended up staying in the hospital for 2 nights. On the third day, we finally went home. During this time, I hadn't left the hospital to come home at all. This meant that the dog and kittens hadn't been looked after at all as I hadn't wanted to ask anyone to go into the house with Abby just in case.

I walked in the house and put Moira to bed right away. Then I went looking for Abby. I found her still curled up on the couch, her head low and her eyes worried. When I walked into the kitchen I saw that she had not eaten any of her food. Her bowl was still full.  She had not eaten for three days even though there was a full food bowl in the kitchen! It was obvious that she knew she'd done something really wrong.

Everyone advised me to have her put to sleep. They insisted that once she had tasted human blood she'd become a biter. I'll admit, it was tempting.  I had nightmares and couldn't turn my back on her. For about a week I watched her like a hawk, waiting for some sign that she'd turn into a slavering beast.That sign never came. She continued to show signs of remorse - bringing her stuffed animals and setting them outside Moira's door. She would sit and put her chin on my knee when I sat down, staring up at me. Eventually, when Moira was up and around again, I reintroduced them and they played as normal - if anything, Abby was even more gentle than before! Moira didn't seem to remember any of it and wasn't scared of Abby at all.

Abby went on to her reward a few years later, having never bitten anyone again. In the meantime she provided me with companionship and peace of mind while Steven was gone, and proved herself to be trustworthy once more.

Sometimes I think of Abby when I'm teaching those tough-to-love kiddos. The ones that others may have given up on. Who seem irredeemable. Like my little friend who got expelled from her former kindergarten. I try to give them a second chance, just like I gave Abby. And, almost always, they respond exactly as Abby did - fulfilling my trust in them.

I ran across a quote from Charles Swindoll last week:

"I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it."

Imagine, if we all took a moment to pause and reflect before we reacted. If, as teachers, we thought about how our reactions have a lasting impact on the children we teach. When they do the wrong thing do we condemn them? Do we label them? Do we give them second chances? How we react to them can shape their lives. And to me, that's the message I remember when I think of Abby.

By the way, Moira still has slight scars on her face, they've faded a lot as she's gotten older. She's not bothered by them at all, and though other kids were sometimes curious, she never got teased. I was told that when she was 12 she could think about plastic surgery. She's 13 now and has refused. She doesn't see anything wrong with her face. That's another message from this story - accept yourself and love yourself the way you are. I'm so glad she has that attitude!


I'm not sure why I felt compelled to share this with you all, but there you have it. Since TPT is still down, there doesn't seem to be much point in keeping my previous post from today still up so I'm hitting the publish button now and then I'm going to try to take a nap if these painkillers kick in. I hope no one else has to go through anything like that, but if you do, just remember to keep calm because the 90% matters way more than the 10%!

Christmas In July!

 I'm joining up with some fabulous friends to have a Christmas in July sale over at TPT today! It's a special one-day-only sale on my seasonal stuff! I even made a new Roll & Cover game just for the occasion! Check out these super cute gingerbread friends:


I'm off to the dentist this morning, they're having me come in at 7:40 for a cleaning! Yes, 7:40am! Don't they know I'm a teacher on summer vacation?! Actually, I have to go in that early because after my cleaning I have to get a new filling and get some old fillings replaced :( Actually, wait. That should be a :) because now I won't have silver fillings any more as the new type are clear!

Plus I get the happy gas which is absolutely wonderful stuff. I swear salesmen should secretly pipe that stuff into showrooms, they'd make a fortune. I say that because after I inhale the happy gas I always sign up for way more dental work than I meant to. The dentist will say something like "Oh! While we're in here we can always coat your teeth with that invisible gold enamel that will make your teeth .005% more sparkly for only $200! Just sign on the dotted line." And I happily sign away my first-born without a care in the world.

Maybe I shouldn't take my check book with me to the dentist....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How Many Linkys Can You Put In 1 Post?

All right y'all, I think that this might be the grand-daddy of all link ups!  In this post, I am linking up with not one, not two, but THREE make that FOUR linky parties! How's that for linky dedication?!

It seems that everyone is thinking about Back-to-School time. My daughter is literally counting the days and my oldest son told me last night he is so excited for the new school year to start! On everyone's blogs I see posts about how exciting this time of year is and how happy they are to be starting school soon.

All I have to say is:"You guys are all crazy!" I am loving my summer time! I would be content to have at least another month off! Forget about waking up early and being on a schedule! But, unfortunately, I cannot hold back the hands of time, so I will just make the most of it by linking up to all these fun Back-To-School type linkies!


First up, is this fun "Top 5 Teacher Must Haves" linky from Rachelle of Life is Sweet in Kindergarten! It also coincides with the "Rockin Resources" linky from Kelley at Teacher Idea Factory!
Here's my top 5:

1. Dry Erase Markers by the boatload! I buy mine at Staples - but I only buy them when they're on sale for $1 a pack!  Sometimes they put the Endura Glide brand on sale, other times it's their own Staples brand, but they all work just fine. I teach my kinders to put the cap back on until they hear the "click" but still, dry erase markers go fast! We use ours every day, so it pays to stock up!

2. Coffee! I am supremely lucky in that our cafeteria staff make the coffee every morning (and sweet tea and non-sweet tea in the afternoons!). It rocks being able to get into work and refill my cup right away! We all chip in by bringing in cans of coffee, creamer and sweetener. My day just does not go right unless I have at least three cups in the morning (one at home and 2 at school). Did I mention the cafeteria also washes our coffee cups and keeps a supply on hand in case we forget to bring one from home? Yep, my school rocks!

3. Harry Kindergarten on youtube! Love his songs! Here's one of my faves:

4. Speaking of music - anything Dr. Jean, Jack Hartmann or Stephen Fite is perfect for my room! We are constantly singing or playings music in my room! We also have scarves that we use to dance with - there's something about floating those scarves in the air that can turn any day magical! This year I want to try to get some rhythm sticks made up too - yet another thing for my husband to help with :)

5. Manipulatives like mad! I cannot get enough manipulatives! I buy all different shapes/kinds and then I buy those littel novelty erasers and use those as well! I also got this set of trays that is fabulous for patterning, sorting, graphing and classifying:

Next up, a "Preparing for School" linky party from 6th Grade All-Stars to help out all those brand-new teachers out there! This is Mrs. Crouse's first linky so go show her some love!
This one is super easy because it's just 5 questions:
- What grade do you teach? Kindergarten...at least I think so. Last year they switched me the day before school, so you never can tell for sure lol!
 
- What is the greatest advice you received during your 1st year of teaching? Be consistent and fair. Teach your procedures to death the first two weeks of school. It will make the rest of the year so much easier if you have that solid foundation! You should have a clear procedure for everything that goes on in your classroom - turning in work, going to the bathroom, answering questions, getting supplies etc etc etc.
- Do you have a checklist that you follow when preparing your classroom (include the checklist)? I do not have a checklist. That's something to think about for next year! I have my center signs so I know what areas I need to set up, other than that I just do whatever I think of as I think of it. Hmm, there's probably a more efficient way to do things - again something to think about!
- What are some must haves in your classroom that you cannot live without (ex. items, books, posters, management strategies)? Books, books and more books! I have a reading center, but I include books in every other center as well. I also keep books in their caddies on their tables. The more you have and the more accessible they are, the more likely your students will read! Haunt garage sales, used book stores and GoodWill to build up your supply! Oh and Scholastic $1 books are awesome - I always buy tons to give as gifts at Christmas, for birthdays or at the end of the year!
- What is something that all teachers should have in their classroom? A cozy reading space. I don't care what grade level you teach, you should have a comfy spot for reading - sitting in a desk to read just isn't the same thing.  Grab an inexpensive throw rug, maybe a couple of bean bags or crate seats and voila, reading is much more inviting! My first year I bought a plastic kiddie pool, filled it with pillows and that was our reading spot - the kids loved it!
Alright, last linky of the day - promise!
Rachel of Teaching with Z is going back to Kindergarten after several years and wants a few ideas for that first day of school!

My first piece of advice - and this goes for all grade levels - overplan! If you think it'll take 15 minutes, it'll probably only take 5. Conversely if you think it'll take 5 minutes, it'll probably take 15! Make sure you have enough to do, but also make sure that if you don't get to it all that it won't be a catastrophe - any must-dos should be tackled first (my school likes a first day writing assessment so I make sure to get that out of the way first!)

My first day (and really my first 2 weeks) is just procedures and familiarization. First thing - bathrooms - where they are and what the procedure is - including how to ask to go. Many of my littles are used to saying "I hafta use it!" at home when talking about the bathroom. So first up, I teach them that at school we simply ask "May I go to the bathroom? (or restroom)" I don't want to hear about them using it! Click here to grab my free power point presentation with 9 of my procedures - it's meant to give you a starting point to start thinking of how you will teach your procedures!

We also talk about food - breakfast and lunch time procedures. We practice holding a tray, walking with a tray and sliding it all the way onto the table! This is important to practice with empty trays before they get a fully loaded tray and dump it in the hallway!

Once we have those basic needs met we usually do a Scavenger Hunt. In the past I always do a Chester Hunt after reading The Kissing Hand, but I might switch it up this year and do Pete the Cat or maybe Max from "Where the Wild Things Are". There are so many great scavenger hunt ideas out there! This is perfect for introducing my kinders to the big scary school and all the new adults in a fun way. Plus, we get a treat at the end and what is kindergarten without treats, right?

Don't forget your camera too! I love taking pictures of my kiddos on the first day of school. I make a slide show at the end of the year and it's so much fun to see how they've changed in those 9 months!
I also teach them about using school supplies. The first day will just be pencils and crayons. We write with pencils and color with crayons in my room - that way I don't get crayon scrawled names that are illegible! My rule is "A good artist uses at least 4 colors!" I never stress about picking appropriate colors, to me if they want to draw red zebras that's just fine! I'll never forget hearing another teacher scold a child for coloring purple hair on a picture of a girl. She said "Real people don't have purple hair!" and made her redo the whole page. I casually walked over and asked the little girl about it a few minutes later (as she was coloring and sniffling at the same time) and she told me that her teenage sister actually did have purple hair!

Alright, that's it for now! I think this week I'll start working on detailed lesson plans for the first few days of school. I'll be sure to share what I come up with :)

By the way, don't forget about these two things:
My giveaway ends Friday! Click the picture to go enter :)

I'd love to see you at the meet-up this weekend! No blog needed!

Oh! and a big thanks to Mrs. Ehle of Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections who introduced me to Tagxedo via her blogpost  yesterday! I played around with it today and made this with the names of my family:
I printed it out, thinking about making something for Monday Made It next week and then my oldest son picked it up, and pointed out that I had completely forgotten his name! So embarrassing! Needless to say that one went in the trash lol!

Then I tried the names of my kiddos from last year to see what it would look like with a whole bunch of names:
Wouldn't this be great to display in the classroom?
 Yet another toy to play with :)

Hope you had fun visiting all these linkys with me! Make sure you head over and link up too :)

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