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!

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!

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!

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