Saturday, June 29, 2013

New Product and a Freebie

I have been working hard at creating new products for the upcoming school year.  I try to create things that will be useful and relevant to my students (and I hope that you find they are for you as well).  Today I was thinking about those first few days of school.  We all know we teach procedures over, and over, and over again.  Modeling those skills are super important and makes the year go much smoother, but I like to mix in a few back to school related activities as well.  One thing I like to assess the first week of school is each student's writing ability.  The students do not see this as a test, but it gives me quite a bit of insight into their writing mechanics.  This year I have created an All About Me back to school booklet.  There are two versions (boy and girl) and it includes a variety of questions that will help me get to know more about my students. Click on the image to download a preview file and see what you think, and while your there, become a follower of my TpT store to get updates when new products are added.

I have also uploaded a back to school coloring page FREEBIE.  Click the image below to download.

Check back soon.  I'll be sharing about how I plan to implement my new word study packet.


Friday, June 28, 2013

Five For Friday

I haven't joined up with Five for Friday in a while, so this week I decided to share a little of what's been going on around here.

I have been trying to take advantage of my summer BREAK and just spend some time relaxing.  In the summer, I tend to feel like I am on  a mission to get everything ready for school.  I'm one of those people that have to have my classroom organized and decorated way before school starts back so I can focus the last month or so on planning my content.  This week I did spend a few days away from all that.  One of my passions is reading.  I LOVE to read and can stay awake late into the night getting lost in a good book.  My selection this week is False Pretenses by Kathy Herman.  I have read all of her other book series, so I was excited to get the chance to start on another one.  It's a great read so far.  Lots of intrigue!

Another thing my family did this week to relax was spend some time at the lake.  I sat in the shade under a great tree, felt the nice breeze, read a little bit, and watched my kiddos as they played the day away.  It was wonderful and the first time in a while that I have felt true relaxation!

I also got the chance to take my boys to the movies this week.  I think I was more excited than they were.  Monsters Inc is one of my all time favorite kid movies.  I told my oldest son that I was super excited but also a little nervous because you never know how the second movie (even though this is a prequel) will compare to the first.  I must say that this movie was superb! We all enjoyed it and it may be even better than the first.  Take your kiddos and go check it out. We are now looking forward Despicable Me 2!

So I confess, I did actually spend some time working on school stuff this week.  I worked on my bulletin boards.  I like to get those up first before I place all of my furniture.  Makes it easier than trying to reach over tables and computers to staple up material and border.  I found a great fabric at Hobby Lobby that matches my color scheme.  I chose the brown background because my walls are all a sky blue color and the design of the room needed something to tone it down a bit.

I know everyone has seen this before.  A huge pile of lamination that I may never get through.  It felt that way, but I actually have almost all of it trimmed out.  I've been sitting in the floor and trimming while the rest of the family watches movies.

So that's a bit about my week, if you haven't yet - go link up with Doodle Bug's Teaching and let the rest of us know what's been going on in your world!


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

TAke-Away Tuesday: A Kindergarten Smorgasboard Guest Post: The Beginning Of The Year!

Hello!  I am Mr. Greg from Smedley's Smorgasboard of Kindergarten!  I am so excited to be guest blogging for the big kids today!  I have been teaching for 8 years and have taught 5th grade, 2nd grade and kindergarten.  My heart is kindergarten!!  I am famous (or infamous?!) for my love of mustaches, glitter and silly hats!

I have been asked to share some ideas on back to school.  Oh, have you seen the back to school commercials already?!  I've also heard rumors...but if it's on the internet it has to be true because they can't put anything on line that isn't true, right?!...that school supplies are replacing summer goodies in the stores.  Yep.  Already.  Now before you get all angry and throw things at me because I'm sharing some ideas from a kindergarten classroom, remember, everything can be adapted.  And it's always fun to see how the other half (the little ones) live!  So, here goes.  Back to school...

One of the first things that I do with my class over the course of the first 2 weeks of school is introduce school supplies.  This is important for Kindergarten because some of them have never seen school supplies before or been in a school setting.  This is important for all grades because these are expectations that students need to learn that will make your classroom run a bit more smoothly!  We also start off day one with crayons.  (Day 2 is the pencil because crayons are more familiar for most kindergarteners so we start off comfortable!).  I introduce the crayons, we talk about what crayons are used for and how we use them.  We talk about not breaking them, picking them up off the floor, and where the crayons belong.  Then, Mr. Greg breaks out his trusty Crayolas and proceeds to SCRIBBLE all over a picture of a soccer ball.  Yep, soccer ball.  Why a soccer ball?  I use a soccer ball to introduce coloring because it has so many different sections that it's great to practice using lots of colors and coloring in the lines.  After I scribble my soccer ball, we discuss my coloring.  The kids are not fans of my scribble scrabble.  We then discuss how to color better and I model how to color each section neatly with different colors.  After modeling, the class gets to color their soccer balls!

(Click the picture to download your copy of this activity)

This soccer ball idea could easily be adapted to older kids by turning it into an ice breaker game where they interview students and write 1 name per section until their soccer ball is filled up.  Or it could be used as an interview for 1 classmate and each section is a different question.

The other tip I want to share with you is one that is necessary for every grade level until college.  Especially if you have boys.  As a kindergarten teacher, day one presents a unique challenge.  I must instruct the 4 and 5 year olds on the proper bathroom use...and then I must have a discussion with the boys about making sure we don't mess or tiddle on the floor.  This is not easy feat for a 5 year old.  They're easily distracted.  Everything is a target that must be shot or destroyed.  Everything is a challenge:  Can I go that far?  Trust me, it's true.  I was a 5 year old boy once.  So how do you get 5 year old boys and 9 year old boys and 15 year old boys and 34 year old boys to not make a mess?  It's simple really.  All it takes is a spider.  SPIDER?!?!  Where?!  (I hate spiders!)  This spider will be your friend!

What I do is draw a spider in the toilet to give the boys something to aim at.  Seriously, as long as that spider is there, the floor is dry.  If the spider washes away=wet floor.  Here is my tip:  RUBBER GLOVES!  Duh.  And do this before the students show up so it's a clean(er) environment.  I also get down on my knees to get a 5 year old perspective on where to draw my spider.  I use a Sharpie (I'm a Sharpie addict!) and the spider stays for months.  Last year our custodian did scrub him off one time so I explained why the spider was there and all was good.  I seriously can see this working for older boys just as well.  Trust me!

I hope these two ideas give ya some insight into the strange world that is kindergarten and maybe gave you some inspiration for a new back to school idea to try out!

A HUGE thanks to Mrs. Allen for letting me take over her blog today!!!  And a huge thanks to you for putting up with a kindergarten dude!

I hope you'll come visit me in my digital spaces!

Add a link to your back to school ideas post. Looking forward to seeing more great ideas!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Made It

I'm linking up today with
My new favorite place to shop for classroom items is Hobby Lobby. I probably spent too much money in there, but I now have a lot of new projects for this link up in the next few weeks. Just look at all the stuff I bought there. 

Even my READ letters and all the items I used to make them with (from last week's Monday Made It) were purchased  there. This week's project is about my Welcome To My Garden sign. Of course the sign is already "made", but it didn't quite match my color scheme. I purchased it anyway and decided I could paint it the right colors. I needed to get rid of the pink and purple and add in some red and orange.  I also painted the blue bird to make it a bit brighter and to match the hue of the other bird.  I used acrylic paints and dry brushed small amounts at a time.  It now looks like this:

I think it looks nice hanging on my bright blue classroom walls. 

So if you find something that you really like, but it's just not the right color scheme - don't be afraid to add a little paint!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Blank Canvas Classroom

I haven't been to my new classroom in three weeks.  I went by one day and dropped off all of my school stuff, but that's it.  We've been busy the last few weeks with VBS and visiting family.  Earlier this week I decided to stop by.  Wouldn't you know it... my floor was covered in wet wax.  But that was OK! The custodial staff did a fabulous job cleaning and waxing the floors.  See that shiny floor reflection below. :) I was also given this teacher desk.

I've decided to pass on the teacher desk.  They take up so much space and usually get piled up with stuff. I'm going to try and set up a small teacher area around my small group table in the back corner. I LOVE organized and clutter free spaces, so imagine my reaction to seeing all that stuff on those wall shelves. Eeeeak! I couldn't stand it. So my first full day in my classroom was nothing but purging, moving, and cleaning. I was a mess (and ended up meeting friends out for dinner). I'm sure I was a sorry sight, but at least I worked up a good appetite! Here is what my room looked like when I walked out the door. I'm looking forward to begin decorating now that I have a blank classroom canvas. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Take-Away Tuesday with Guest Blogger...Kate Peila!

My name is Kate and I teach elementary school in Montana. I am passionate about teaching, technology, writing, and reading. I blog regularly about technology integration, tips for productivity, and teaching over at Purely Paperless.... I'm thrilled to share with you today on Mrs. Allen's blog- she has some great ideas!

The first few weeks of summer are always a little bittersweet for me. I am excited for the opportunity to unwind and recuperate, but I am always aware that there are some things that I could really improve on for the following year. As I sat enjoying the first few days of sunshine this year, I reflected on the fact that I could have done a better job communicating with parents this past year.

So began the quest for a resource to help facilitate that process....

I already have a classroom blog and website, but I wanted something that was more immediate... more "in your face," so to speak.

I am happy to report that I have found a potential winner for the upcoming school year:

Meet WDWDT....

WDWDT (What Did We Do Today) is an app for the iPhone- Android coming very soon- that creates a private messaging platform for teachers, parents, and even students!

Within the app, you can easily create a class by adding the parent's contact information. Parents will receive an email to join the class. If they choose to download the app, then they will receive push notifications on their iPhone with classroom information. If they do not have an iPhone, then they can still benefit as the application will send out the updates as emails.

So, how is this different than just sending out an email or updating a blog?

Glad you asked....

With this app, you can:
  • Send pictures
  • Send messages
  • Send timely reminders
  • Embed forms and surveys
And, instead of hoping that parents will see the blog in time, the app will send a push notification directly to their phone. Awesome! Personally, I know that I am far more likely to see something that is sent to my phone than to my email... especially if time is a concern.

This is a great way to share information about learning goals, upcoming assignments, field trips, reminders, and more... I really like that you can also customize the settings so that you can share with the entire class or just one parent quickly and easily.

Purely Paperless

Thanks for letting me share with you today and I hope that this is a tool that you will find useful as you start off the 2013 school year! Be sure to stop by my blog, Purely Paperless, for tips and tricks for integrating technology into the primary classroom.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Made It

Today I am linking up with...

So I saw these cute letters the other day and decided I would like to make a set.

I chose scrapbook paper that was close to my color scheme and got right to work. I used mod podge to glue the paper onto the letters. I wanted to make them look kind of scrappy to match my boho birds theme. Once they were finished, I decided the colors were not bold enough to match my other decor. I took some tempera paint and dry rubbed it on the paper to dye it a brighter color. Here is my finished product. 

My plan is to place these on the shelf with my classroom library.  A fun and bright way to label the books that students can check out of my classroom.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Take-away Tuesday... Guest post!

Hi y'all! I've never been a guest blogger before! Thanks, Chelsea for giving me a shot at it! I'll admit right away that I have no idea what I'm doing. :-)

In case you don't know me, I'm Crystal a.k.a. Foxy, from the LibraryFox. I'm a librarian at a K-5 school and I make clip art to sell on TpT as a hobby. My school schedule is CrAzY. I have 11 classes per day, 30 minutes at a time. I love it! My day flies by! However, planning meaningful lessons is kind of difficult. During that 30 minute library period we also have to check out books, so we really only have time for a 15-20 minute lesson. I'm also responsible for teaching drama.... So that's what I'm going to tell you a little about.

One of our favorite K-1 drama activities goes along with a little book called Not a Stick. It's about a piggy that uses a stick and his vivid imagination to pretend that he is all sorts of different things. After I read the book to my kiddos, we talk about the words props & improvisation. Then I get out a yardstick and we play our own version of charades. :-) There are 3 rules: 1. No violence. 2. Don't reuse anything that was in the story OR anything that your friends have already done. 3. It needs to be something that we can guess. The object is not to beat your classmates, but for you to be able to act well enough that the other students can guess what your stick is supposed to be! The kiddos beg to do this over & over again after we do it the first time! I imagine that older kids would like it too. There's a similar book by the same author called, Not a Box.

I'm not sure if any of you could use this activity in your classroom, but we sure love it in our library! :-)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Take-away Tuesday

Here's the first round of of my new linky party. Be sure to link to a post that gives tips, organization ideas, or activities for a great start to a new school year. Please copy and use the image below to link back to this blog post. Also, check out the other bloggers that have linked up and post a comment on the blog before and after your link. I'm looking forward to being able to "Take Away" some of your great ideas!

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Check back each Tuesday to link up and meet some FABULOUS guest bloggers as they share their favorite back to school tips!


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Exciting Announcement!

So... I am excited to announce my first try at hosting a linky party.  Every week of June and July I will be hosting Take-away Tuesday.  The purpose for this link up is to share your great tips, activities, organization, or summer planning ideas for Back to School 2013.  If you are like me, summer break is GLORIOUS, but you are already planning, purchasing, and creating for the next school year.  What better way to get new inspiration from others, while sharing your tried and true methods for a successful start to a new school year.

Plus, there is a BONUS opportunity to this linky party.  If you are interested in being a guest blogger on any Tuesday of June or July, please send me an email at and I would be happy to feature you.  I am excited to share and "Take-away" ideas from all the wonderful teachers in the blogging world!

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Currently June

I'm linking up with Oh' Boy Fourth Grade to bring you my currently June. So excited because this is the first time I've participated in this link up!