Monday, June 29, 2015

Bingo Dauber Glue Sponges

Hi Friends!
   Today marks four weeks since my summer began, and as you probably know, I have been spending my time doing a whole bunch of...well, nothing.  Okay, I can't say that. I've been doing a whole lot of everything, but nothing school related. 
   Now that I realize my time is wearing thin, and I've got two weeks of vacation planned in the midst of my last four weeks of summer, it was time to light a little fire under my hiney and do something for my classroom.

   For the last few years, I have made glue sponges each summer to get ready for the school year. By now, you've probably heard about glue sponges, and honey, lemme tell you, they are one of the BEST things that have ever happened to me as a teacher.
If you don't know about glue sponges, I'll give you a little run down.  The original idea comes from Greg at The Kindergarten Smorgasboard.  Basically, you get some tight-sealing plastic containers, layer the bottom with white glue, cut & lay sponge on top of the glue, then pour more glue on top.  Seal up the container,and let it sit for a couple weeks for the sponges to really soak up all the glue.  
In the past, I've gotten some Glad Sandwich containers & the kids shared. This year, I decided to make these little individual ones for each student. 

To put these bad boys to good use in the classroom, the kids cut out their little pieces of paper, lay gently on top of the sponge (because all the glue has been absorbed by the sponge) and voila - glue on the paper AND there's NO MESS!  

Plus, it cuts down on the use of glue sticks, which apparently, my kids eat. Seriously, we go through about 200 before Christmas.  So, glue sponges have saved my sanity....and my money! :)

But...and this is a BIG BUT, my kids always have a problem when we use BIG pieces of paper.  We make crafts with pieces that are simply too big to put into the glue sponge container..even the sandwich ones.

So, my only option so far has been bottle glue..... which means that every kid's desk ends up looking like this. Messy and I'm sure you know what their paper looks like. Globby, runny, wet, and all stuck together.  Ugh.

This year, I wanted to try making something that would help alleviate the Glue Spill Issue, and still utilize the brilliance behind the glue sponge. 
I ordered some empty bingo daubers off Amazon, and set out to try my little idea.  {Note: the ones you buy at the Dollar Tree won't work - the tops don't come off. Just FYI!}. 

They were pretty cheap & they're perfect for what I want to do with them. Plus, their itty bitty -- perfect for little first grade hands.  I just filled them up half way, put the dauber on top, sealed them & done!

You just squeeze until the glue fills the spongy top & then "dab" onto the BIG pieces of paper that won't fit in the containers. You can also drag them if you need a little more glue, but no matter what, NO MESS!  Woo hoo!!! :)
 I'm in love with my new Glue Daubers.

You might ask, "Why don't you just use glue bottles?"  I know that makes the most sense, but seriously, friends, my kids get bottle glue EVERYwhere, no matter how many lessons we have on "Just a Dot, Not a Lot".  There are some that get it & do wonderfully with glue bottles, and then there are some that just like glue. 
A lot. A whole lot.

Plus, they think the Glue Sponges are cool, and I know they'll love these little daubers, too! Maybe your little ones will love them, too! :)

So, that's it for me, y'all ! I hope you're enjoying your summer & can take advantage of this little tip!
Thanks for stopping by! :)

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Quick Teacher Tip: Summer Notes

Hi Friends!
    I'm keeping it short today, but I wanted to share something I do every summer. 
It's a very small something, but it has a BIG impact.  
We're about halfway through the summer here in Georgia, and this is usually about the time I sit down and write each of my "last year" students a little note.  

It's not much. I keep it simple.  I ask them about their summer,and what they have been doing over the break. Then, I tell them one or two things I have been doing.  I end with telling them to come see at Open House or when school starts back and letting them know I have been thinking about them & how much I miss their smiling face.

It takes a little bit of time to personalize a note for every child, but it's so worth it.  Every August when school starts back, I have kids come by to tell me they were so excited to get their "REAL MAIL!".  
Come on, you know you love REAL MAIL, too!  

Not bills, not ads, but the real mail that makes you feel special and like someone thought enough to send you something through the Snail Mail. 

In this day & age of email & SnapChat, very rarely do children get something in the mailbox that is actually theirs...and is personalized just for them! 

Plus, it teaches them a little about note or letter structure, and how to actually correspond using proper capitalization, punctuation and sentence formation.  It's also a great real world connection to the content I teach in first grade.  

Not only do my kids love it, but parents do, too! They love knowing that their child still holds a special place in a teacher's heart, even after the last day of school. 

I mail them out & use the school's address as my return address. That saves any sort of problem with privacy or letting parents and students know where I live.  

There are some of my former students that I still send Summer Notes to - they have written me back over the years, and it's become a bit of a tradition. I love being part of my students lives, and letting them know that they always matter!

So, that's it for me. Just a little Saturday tip for maintaining those relationships and letting students know that they will always be "one of my kids".

As always, thanks for stopping by! :)

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Five for Friday: I'm a Nomad!

It's been a while, but I'm finally linking back up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday linky. It's one of my favorites, because I just love seeing everybody's random glimpses into their lives.  And summertime is the best time for random!
 So, here we go....
I've spent most of my summer on the road, driving up and down the interstate and on country back roads catching up with old friends, MB, my parents, and absolutely loving it. I'm only 3 weeks into my summer, and I've put over a thousand miles on my car! Yep, I'm  a nomad this summer!

 I started the week in the North Alabama mountains. This is Little River Canyon, which is basically a canyon on top of a mountain. That totally blows my mind!  You can drive all the way around the rim, visit the waterfalls, and even hike down to the bottom and go swimming!

 So, my next "drive" is to my 20 year high school reunion. I mean, 5 year reunion. Yeah, that's it!  It's funny how "old" is relative to your own age.  38 used to be old. It's not anymore, at all. 

  Seriously, I'm not quite sure how the last twenty years have gone by so fast, but I'm looking forward to going back to my hometown and catching up with old friends.  
This is my senior picture. Look at those eyebrows!! Wowza!

 Speaking of trips. I"m getting ready to head to Vegas for the TpT conference in July. Look at my SWAG!!  I'm so excited about my t-shirt (will blog about this soon!), and my awesome planner, and they were all waiting for me when I swung by my house to check the mail.  
Don't you just love coming home to packages??  YES! :)

 And, lastly, I have joined up with some other TpT sellers and bloggers for the summer Seller Challenge. This week, we were challenged to give one of our products a makeover. It was just the kick in the butt I needed.

I redid my Manners Unit...and not just the cover...the WHOLE thing!  New clip art, new fonts, new activities, and 18 more pages!  It's a full 10 days worth of lesson plans, complete with crafts, activities, task cards, graphic organizers and worksheets.  If you're interested in learning more, just click the picture and check out the preview.

I also bundled my Addition and Subtraction Fluency Tickets. I start these right away when we go back to school, and we use them all year. They're great for increasing that math fact fluency!  On sale now - just click the picture to learn more! :)

So, that's it for me! I hope you've had a fabulous week & you're enjoying your summer! :) As always, thanks for stopping by! :)

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015

I'm a Summer Slug!

What can I say? It's been almost 2 months since I've blogged. It's been 2 months since I've really had anything to say.  I had the hardest year of my teaching career, and when school ended May 29th, I just walked out the door and drove away. Honestly.

For the first time in 14 years, I left the school building with no box.....NOTHING. Just me and my keys.   I was outta there!

And you know what? It felt pretty darn good. 

Well, eventually it did.

 In typical teacher fashion, I got home that night and started feeling guilty. Thoughts like "I'll go back up there tomorrow and grab some stuff", "I should start my to-do list of what I need to get started on" and "I wonder when they'll let us back in the building" were swirling through my head.  But then, I just decided it was okay NOT to be in teacher mode ALL the time. 

It was okay to be a summer slug.  
 So I embraced it.

I went to the beach for a week with some amazing girls & had a blast.
I slept as late as I wanted to with no alarm.
I read books.... books that were sweet, sappy, scary and funny....books that didn't require any thinking or brain power at all.
I spent time with my family.
I spent time with my friends.
I went shopping.
I binged on Netflix.
I took naps.
I floated in the pool for hours.
And it has been fabulous.
What did I NOT do??

 I didn't spend hours on Pinterest looking for ideas for next year.
I didn't try to come up with a new theme for my classroom.
I didn't dream of data charts and RTI meetings.
 I didn't start making lesson plans for next year.
I didn't wake up in the middle of the night thinking about "school stuff".

 And one more thing.. I DIDN'T miss it. I DIDN'T feel bad.

For three weeks, I have been a summer slug, and I have loved every minute of it.

As teachers, we are always on "go".  And that doesn't stop in the summer (despite popular belief). Actually, more often than not, we are in hyper-drive during the summer coming up with all the stuff we want to do next year. We never stop thinking, planning, reading, researching, buying, making, doing.... and by the time school starts, we're already exhausted.

This year, I decided I was going to take a break from it all and just be.  
Nothing more. 

So, embrace your inner slug if you want to.  Or be in overdrive if you want to.
The key is do a little of what YOU want to!

 I have five more weeks of summer, and I plan to start easing back into teaching mode.  I can't just turn it off... I'm not sure any of us really can really pull the plug on teacher brain. ( I may or may not have already scanned the school supply aisle at Target....just saying)

But, I have learned it's alright to hit "pause" for a little while. 

So, that's it, friends.. I'm a slug...and I'm okay with that.

I hope you are enjoying your summer -doing whatever it is that makes you happy - and as always, thanks for stopping by!  

Promise to get my rear in gear & post more soon :)

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Sunday, April 26, 2015

The Primary Peach: Freebie Blog Hop!!!

Hi Friends!
  As y'all know, I am proud to be a southern gal & a Georgia Peach! I am so excited to be teaming up with about 30 other amazing elementary bloggers from this fabulous state in a brand new, collaborative blog.  Let me introduce you to....
For our very first blog post, we are all giving away a bunch of fabulous freebies!  Each blogger has something special for you & it's all geared for the end of the year.  We all know how crazy the end of the year can be - the kids are crazy and have summer on the brain....and you do too! Plus, if you're anything like me, you're always on the lookout for new and fun stuff to do in your classroom. Believe me there's some great stuff in this hop.

But, before I get to that, let me introduce myself....
My name is Kelly and this is my blog! I teach first grade right outside of Atlanta, and have been doing and loving my job for 14 years.  I can't believe it's been that long!  I love creating and crafting, and I absolutely love sharing ideas with you.  I am slightly addicted to Instagram and Pinterest, and simply can't get enough of all the amazing things that teachers do each and every day. I am so honored to be part of this profession, and to have the opportunity to share with all of you!

Now, how about that FREEBIE?
I just love doing crafts in my room, and my kids do, too!  My first graders are always so excited when we get out the glue & scissors, and I truly believe in making learning and engaging, that is!

We spend a lot of our end-of-the-year time practicing our writing skills....and the kids spend a lot of THEIR time telling me about their summer plans.  So, one of our favorite activities is this little writing & craftivity for Sailing Into Summer...

The kids write about their summer plans & make this super cute ship to go with it!  Here are some pics of it in action...

 The freebie includes all the templates for the craft.
 My firsties cut their own stripes for the top & I use a craft punch to make the portholes.

Time to write!

I just love first grade writing!
 Aren't they cute??
 Can't wait to get these hung up in the hallway!

So, that's it !  Super fun activity for the end of the year...and it's FREE!
Just click {here} to grab the templates and writing sheets.

Don't forget to check out the other bloggers for more freebies, too!

Oh, and we're not done yet.... wanna win some money to spend?  Head on over to The Primary Peach to enter a giveaway for some TpT $$$$!!  Woo hoo!! Money, money, money!!

Now, head on over to the next peach, my amazing friend Meghan of Keeping up With Mrs Harris & hop along with us. We're all so glad you're here!

If you like this activity, be sure to follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for a lot more ideas! As always, thanks for stopping by! :)
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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Bright Ideas: Magnetic Manipulatives & Shower Rings

I absolutely LOVE the monthly Bright Ideas Blog Hop & I am so excited to be part of it again this month! There are so many great ideas out there, and teachers are among the most brilliant folks I've ever met.

Saving money in my classroom is something I TRY very hard to do. It's not easy and I know I spend so much every year on things I really want...and of course, the items that I think my students can really use and benefit from.

One thing that I find to be so expensive are math manipulatives!  While I have tubs of them at school, the one thing I always want are those kind that I can use on my white board....the magnetic ones!!  They're pricey, though...and for most teachers, we have tiny budgets, big ideas, and long wish lists!

This year, I decided to make my own magnetic manipulatives with the help of these handy-dandy adhesive magnets.  They are super thin, very afforable, and they stick right to the back of anything you've got!
You can get 100 for less than $5, and if you search the web, you can get a bushel of them for super cheap.  
I love that they are so thin I can cut them to fit onto just about anything, like these Base Ten blocks!

Having magnetic Unifix Cubes has been a lifesaver in our math lessons.  The kids have their own sets at their desk, of course, but being able to actually use them on the board has been awesome!

We also use of lot of two-sided counters, especially in RTI groups. These really give the kids a great visual for composing and decomposing numbers.

My kids always love working with counting bears. They love making addition and subtraction stories with these little guys.  {Don't mind the messy board.... do white boards ever come completely clean??}

I have been sticking these little  magnets to just about everything. Having manipulatives that I can actually MANIPULATE with my students has been great!!

Another BRIGHT IDEA comes from Instagram. I'm not sure of the actual original source, so if it's you, please let me know!  

One more item I tend to sink a lot of money in to is binder rings for sight words,math flashcards, etc...
Those things are expensive...and my kids are always losing them.

I saw this fabulous idea and just had to run with it..... shower hooks!!
Not only are they crazy cheap - you get 12 for $1 - they actually work SO much better than those binder rings.  More cards fit on the ring, and the kids are able to move them around so much easier.

Genius, I tell you!!

So, that's it for me this month!! I hope you can use some of these ideas in your classroom. Don't forget to check out these other amazing bloggers and their ideas!! 

If you liked this idea, please follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for more useful tips for the classroom. Just click the icons at the top of the page!  Thanks for stopping by! :)
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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Introducing Build-A-Word!

Hi Y'all !
    It's Tuesday of my spring break, and I'll be honest, I haven't done  a whole lot of anything.  Which I'm totally fine with.  I've read a cheesy chick novel... I've watched some Netflix... I've gone to Target & Hobby Lobby...and Ive stayed up way past my bedtime. That all counts for SOMEthing right?! :) Either way, it needs to slow down.....I need the rest of the week to just creeeeeeeeeeeep by!

   So... on Friday for my Five, I posted a picture of my newest product - Build-A-Word! I wanted to share some pictures with you and give you a little more info about how it works.
Decoding simple CVC words, nonsense word fluency, and reading words with blends and digraphs are essential skills for any young reader.  Students with a strong foundation in decoding and word building are better able to read fluently as the level of text difficulty increases.

This packet is a great way to help students increase their mastery of word building, decoding, and identifying real and nonsense words. This pack is perfect for small group practice in guided reading groups, RTI pull out groups, one-on-one with specific kids, and even at centers for practice and review.

 There are word building cards for each short vowel. Each vowel set has several word families for children to use to build words.The lines can be used with dry-erase markers for students to write their newly created word.
 Each vowel sound has its own clip art-which helps with management and organization! I know my kids always work better with centers that have a visual to help them work with the activity...and it makes for easy-peasy clean up too!
Each set - cupcakes, gumball machines, muffins, ice cream & popsicles - also includes beginning sound cards for each consonant, blends, and digraphs. This helps differentiate the use of this activity & assist learners who need visual clues.

With lower learners, you can choose only basic consonant sounds to build words. With your higher learners, you can pull out digraphs and blends to increase decoding and reading ability.

There are also recording sheets for every word family, and one for each vowel sound (a, e, i, o, u).  Students build words, then write each one on their sheet.  They also color the words to identify each as real or nonsense.
I work really hard with my own students in identifying and differentiating between real and nonsense words. This helps increase their thinking while reading, and improves comprehension skills while still decoding words in text.

There's also differentiated assessments for each vowel sound, as well : Shorter words using simple consonant beginnings for lower learners, and more complex words with digraphs and blends for higher learners and those in need of a challenge.
There's also a sorting center for students to practice differentiating between real and nonsense words. My kids love seeing how fast they can read and sort these words. 

Kindergarten students are also doing wonders with this center,and it's awesome to see them sounding out words they don't think they can read!  You should see their faces! :)
 This pack is truly packed full of so much, and it's all stuff you can really use in your classroom.

 Click on the above picture to check it out. You can see more pages in the preview.
Thanks for stopping by & sticking around to hear all about the Build-A-Word! :)

Now, off to more TV watching & blog stalking...ahhh, I love spring break!

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