Saturday, June 30, 2012

Classroom DIY: DIY Kinesthetic Shower Curtain Activities

Today I've posted how to make kinesthetic shower curtain activities on Classroom DIY. Shower curtain activities are great for any grade level, and nearly any concept you teach! I buy mine at the Dollar Store so that I can inexpensively purchase several and make different game mats.

You can check out the link here: Classroom DIY: DIY Kinesthetic Shower Curtain Activities

Need concepts/ideas? Here's a few to get you started...
1. Letter/sound identification
2. Number recognition
3. Shape recognition
4. Vocabulary/definitions
5. Math facts
6. Color recognition
7. Sight words/phrases
8. Jeopardy style games (if you are w/o the powerpoint or technology to make a techy version)
9. Trivia
10. Movement/Brain break choices

I hope you have had a chance to check out the Classroom DIY blog---it's awesome!! So many talented educators out there....I am honored to be a contributing author each month! Thank you all for your continued support and keeping up with us over there!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Home Away From Home

YAY! I am so excited....I'm working on making my own classroom decor set this year, and here's my newest project---welcome & name banners! I think these will be a great addition to my "sweet shop" decor theme. It makes me want to get in my classroom and get things decorated---but the 70+ degree weather makes me want to sit in the sun and read a book! I LOVE summer...and I love these little projects between chapters! 

Click photo to see this banner in my TN Shop! 
Here's my welcome banner in pink and lime green 
with an orange polka dot ribbon! 

Click Photo


Here's my name banner---in a matching pattern! 

Click Photo

I am excited to make use of these banners as a great big welcome to the students, parents, and staff that come in my room. As long as there is a sufficient learning/teaching in the classroom---there's nothing wrong with having things super cute and creating a personalized space that reflects your personality! After all, you are there at least 6 hours a day, and some weekend time usually--it's important to create a unique space that reflects who you are, your personality, and style! 

I love hearing when parents or administrators comment on what an inviting classroom I have created! It is one of my main priorities at the beginning of the school sets the tone and atmosphere for the type of learning environment that I want my students to have. Their comments confirm that all the effort into my classroom decor has made them feel warm and welcome from the moment they arrived---exactly how I want my students to feel---then, we can start making it "our space".

A classroom is a community, a family, and home away from home---I like to make it an aesthetically appealing place for me & my students to be! Besides....I love decorating, and it's downright FUN! 

If you would like these banners---please visit my Teacher's Notebook Shop
If you have a custom order for a banner---I'd be happy to hear your requests! 

Enjoy making your classroom your happy home away from home this year!  


Saturday, June 23, 2012

ABC Action & Musical Learners

I'm thinking about the beginning of the year, and starting right at the basics....well, just beyond singing the alphabet song! My Pre-K friends love to move around and use up as much space as they can. It's amazing how far they can stretch the block area, and inch their way around every possible point in my room. Luckily, I have the space! 

Here's a great ABC sequencing activity in which your little ones will need A LOT of space! These BIG circles can be put in order from A-Z, or a-z ---but tell them to "take it to the floor!". Work on the floor? YUP---it's right where they want to be...where everything is accessible, at their level, and they can crawl, walk, or scoot to grab their letters and put them in their place. 

This is activity is great for your visual / kinesthetic learner. But what about some of those other types of learners? You can set up the circles cake walk style----add some music---and voila! Your musical and auditory learners are intrigued as well. When the music stops...some or all of the children say the letter that they are standing on (or next to---if you don't want little shoes/feet all over your new game!). 

It may not always be easy to find an activity that focuses on a certain concept and includes a musical element for those who learn musically. That is the hardest learning style for me to incorporate into my classroom. I have no musical skill whatsoever---and it's definitely not MY learning style. But if you are's at least one way (besides all those great music/movement Cd's) that you can incorporate letter/sound identification in your centers/stations: 

Find a xylophone & add letter stickers to it!  You can only fit so many letters on each you may want to pick up a few of them! (you could also use these for number recognition!)

Have a musical day!! 


Friday, June 22, 2012

A Sweet Summer Freebie!

Go's Friday night---just click, download, print & enjoy! 

Have a fun weekend, everyone!


Summer always leaves me more time for exercising, which is great! I've been biking, walking, running, and registered for a 5K Color Run!! I am super excited! I think it'll be a great experience for my 9 (almost 10) year old---and something fun we can do together!! 

I've been telling my son that I really have to prepare for this 5K. I'm not a distance runner, and it doesn't come easy for me for a variety of reasons. Don't worry, I'll spare you my violin and pity party. But really, I'm not even at a 10 minute mile right it's time to practice, practice, practice. 

Tonight, we rode our bikes 4 miles. I wanted him to see how far the 5K will be. I figure if I keep practicing 4 miles, the 5K will seem easier. Anyway....yesterday I did a 4 mile practice RUN by myself (and it was brutal!)...tonight, the same loop on my bike felt so easy! 

I love biking, and it comes easy for me. I could ride a pretty good distance before it feels un-enjoyable, too hard, etc.

As I'm parking my bike in he garage after my ride, it occurred to me that biking vs. running for me is like reading for some of the children we teach. For the natural readers, it comes easy & it's enjoyable for a long period of time----like biking for me. For others, it may not be as natural, as enjoyable, and may not last long----like me on a run! 

You can see where this is going, and can probably infer that I've been reading this: 

So how does it all tie in---biking, running, and the Daily 5? Well....I'm reading this book and CAFE and liking what I read. It makes sense. I think the program may need to be tweaked for Jr. Kdg or Kdg., but overall---the gist of implementing A LOT of reading and writing time during the school day has won me over. I like the format, and the ways of building STAMINA! 

In the past, I've begun building my students' stamina from day 1 in preparation for literacy/math stations Debbie Diller style. Starting with 5 minute table rotations and working our way up to 7 minutes, then 10---and being in the full swing of stations throughout the room/hallway. Baby steps.

Daily 5 may be a new structure---but you essentially build stamina the same way. Little by little---starting with just 1 minute! In my case this summer---starting with just one mile! (I used to have a friend who had me running around our local lake (about 7 miles!)---don't think that I don't regret quitting that every time I get out there for a run these days! UGH! Back to baby steps. 

Just think...if I had kept up with running or even walking that distance, I would not be back to square one. I'd be comfortable going a longer distance---I'd have the stamina. So it makes sense that we start our students out reading to self just 1 minute, adding a minute each day if they can handle it, until the desired amount of time is accomplished. The children who are not natural readers, not easily drawn to reading to themselves, do not have a lot of confidence etc., need to be taught all the strategies, techniques, and given the tools & PRACTICE TIME to accomplish their goals (and your goals for them!). 

Don't be mistaken---I have always known that it takes time, effort, and practice to be a good reader. This is not news to me! But as a person that has always had it easy in the the area of ELA, and as a person that enjoys reading, writing, and cares about grammar, mechanics, and everything in between---it's easy to get removed from understanding how difficult and possibly unenjoyable it can be for some students. 

I'm going to spend my summer practicing to be a better runner, building my stamina (and hopefully maintain an exercise routine for good this time)...and spend my school year remembering that grumbles & moans that may escape from some students during ELA activities are just some students who aren't used to running the distance----YET! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vote for Classroom DIY

Hey everyone!! Classroom DIY, the blog I contribute to each month, was nominated in the 2012 Really Good Education Blog Awards by Really Good Stuff and is now a finalist in the Best New Blog category.  
Voting begins on Monday, June 18th and ends on Friday, June 22nd, 2012.  The blog in each category with the most votes will be the winner.
Winning bloggers get a $75 Really Good Stuff gift certificate, a unique badge for their blog, and a monthly column on Really Good Stuff’s blog, The Teachers’ Lounge.  

  Only votes received from 12:00am EST on Monday, June 18th through 11:59pm EST on Friday, June 22nd are eligible, so please start voting NOW (click the badge above)!!!! 

Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Monday, June 11, 2012

What's up for summer?

It's summer vacation....but as you all know, teachers never stop working! I'm already tossing around ideas, themes, and plans for next year. I bet you are as well! 

This is my first year selling items on TN and TPT....and everyone says the summer is the busiest time of all! I'm happy to see so many visitors at my shop(s) lately!! Thank you, Thank you! 

Here's something that I've recently created....and I have a few more *sweet* ideas up my sleeve! Keep checking in. 

What are YOU up to this summer??

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Packing for Summer

I don't know about all of you out there, but every year, I have to pack up my classroom---for a variety of reasons.
  • I share a classroom with the before/after school program and in years past, all the summer program students from all 5 elementaries were in my classroom all summer!! YIKES! Not ideal. This is the first year that they will not be in my room....and not in the it's nice to not have to worry about that this year.
  • Although I'm a contracted teacher like my other colleagues, I work in a State funded program, and thus they have their inventory and I have mine. We have to separate and inventory separately each year.
  • I've moved rooms every year (except for the current school year!--I got to stay in my current room 2 consecutive years)----so I'm typically just used to moving and figure it's bound to happen again! Roll with it! :)
  • ...And this year...the program I teach is changing, most likely to a part time position - and I would like to stay full that means possibly more changes and a potential move within the building for me! I really have no clue yet. I'll find out sometime this summer.  :)
I have a friend of mine in another district that has to move her classroom (all her belongings)---home every summer. It can't even stay in the classroom/building. I did that ONCE....I didn't know where I was going the following school year and my entire classroom sat on a flat bed trailer in my garage until August! I am so thankful I don't have to take it all home each summer! point teachers, moving and packing at the end of the year happens to all of us in some capacity. I have found a system that works really well for me as a PreK-K teacher with TONS of furniture, toys, and educational materials that I have personally purchased liked so many of us do! My system has made packing and un-packing pretty efficient---considering, packing and moving a classroom is no small feat----it's like a second home/apartment!'s my secret. Ha! Ready? Invest in these....LOTS of these.............

That's right...Rubbermaid totes. Of course, I like them all matching!
This is a small stack of what I have packed thsi year. Last year, nearly 1/2 a wall was stacked and lined with these. Did it cost the equivalent of my first car I ever owned? Probably. But, when you have moved as much as I have (even within the same building), it's been worth the investment! I am able to keep everything so organized. Why do I need so many? Well---that's the key to staying organized and being able to un-pack and keep track of everything so efficiently. Read on...

You will see that I have labeled the tote with my last name, and at the request of my administrator, to mark it "personal property" so that if the program changes, or my classroom location changes over the summer...maintenance will know where to move my personal belonging vs. the program inventory.

The MOST IMPORTANT TIP that I have for you is to use designate a tote to each area of your classroom. Some of my centers use up to 3 totes. I label the lid to correspond with the classroom center that it contains. Here are my centers & what I label my totes (as you PreK-K teachers will be familiar with!)
  • Math/Fine Motor
  • Art
  • Writing
  • Science
  • Dramatic PLay
  • Listening
  • Sand/Water/Sensory
  • Library
  • Calendar/Group Area
  • Blocks
  • Playdoh
  • ABC
  • Puppets/Props
  • Music/Movement
  • Puzzles/Games
  • Teacher Area (Desk/Closet stuff)
  • Teacher Resource Books/Theme Binders/Curriculum
  • ...and of course, there are always random totes for spare clothing, bins/baskets/containers, etc.
So---I have found that packing my classroom according to centers makes un-packing really easy! In late summer, when I come back to school, I set up my classroom floor plan. I decide where I want everything (my teacher work area, tables, centers, bookshelves---everything!) before I un-pack. Then, I take each tote and place it in the center that it belongs with.

Fianlly, I can easily un-pack one center at a time---staying focused on that ONE center/area of the classroom until it is complete and I move to the next. It really keeps me on task and not distracted my starting one box that goes here, another that goes there, and so on. And, when I open a tote...everything is already sorted so that items are not taking me to various parts of the room hopping all over like a 5 year old with espresso and a new puppy!

I hope that this moving tip makes your summer move or end of the year check-out go as smooth as mine do now!

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Friday Freebie!

I'm pretty glad it's the weekend! Not that I have much planned...but that is sort of nice, too. One of my favorite themes to use when I am teaching is a beach/ocean theme. If I could have a house with ocean front property, I would be in pure heaven! It's nothing compared to my little 'ol town, which is currently soaked with cold rain and dreary days. I so needed to get my ocean stuff out and update it for a little bit of hopeful sunshine and cheer.

Lucky for YOU, I am jonesin' for summer weather pretty bad! I might even wear my sunglasses in a silent plea for the sun to show itself around here! Until I get the real deal, enjoy this fun Friday FREEBIE!

Play a little sight word SPLASH with your students....a fun little way to practice Dolch lists 1-4. You can also find Lists 5-8 & 9-11 in my Teacher's Notebook Shop!

ALSO----my new math and literacy packet, Oceans of Learning, is available, too!

TGIF, everyone!

See you back here tomorrow for Super Organzing Saturday!