Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bright Idea: Monthly Theme Pockets

Hi Friends,
   Another month...another batch of bright ideas!!  Today, I'm linking up with a bunch of other bloggers to share some bright ideas that make our teaching lives a little easier.
  I don't know about you, but super messy desks are my worst nightmare. I just can't stand to see all the papers and things hanging out of them.
Not to mention how much work gets lost in the deep, dark depths of this mess.  Papers don't get turned in, and the loud cry of "I can't find mine" is heard 'round the room!

  Well, friends, I'm here to tell you about monthly theme pockets. Have you ever used them?  They are such a great way to keep student work organized.  Plus, they are super easy to make and keep up with... two of my favorite things. 
 Basically, these theme pockets are large sheets of construction paper folded about 1/2 of the way up and stapled on both sides. 

I make labels for the units we are doing in a given month. 
This month, it was plants, weather, 100th day, and winter animals.

 We typically focus on one unit per week, but there are some months with fewer or more pockets. This month just happened to have four.  During our unit, the kids place ALL of their related work in their pocket....crafts, worksheets, conference sheets, writing, anything we do or make.
At the end of the month, I put them all together to make a portfolio.
I line all the pockets up, staple them all together & use packing tape to secure the edges.
That stuff can really stick! Plus, it covers all the staples! You could use cute duck tape, too.
This is an example of the pockets put together before anything was added, but I wanted to give you an idea of how they're combined.

Of course, when the pockets are full of work, the portfolio is MUCH bigger.
That packing tape really holds it all together, though!

Then, I wrap another large sheet of construction paper around it.
I choose the same color as the back pocket, and just tape it to the back. It doesn't go all the way around, but when it's taped, you can't tell. It looks like a book!  
I print out cover labels, and the kids just glue it down.  This is the what the finished product looks like!

Here's another example of a pocket we did back in October. The kids just love these, and it's a great way to keep all that junk out of their desk.
Everything has a place.... just like I like it!

How about grading?? I either a) take up the pockets at the end of the unit & grade the papers, or b)take up individual assignments throughout the unit & when they are returned to the students, they are placed in the pocket.  

Not only do I love these things...and the kids, too...but their parents always love having these little snapshots into their child's learning.  Winning! :)

I hope you like & can use this idea. If you do, I'd love to hear about it.
Don't forget to check out these other bloggers and their AMAZING bright ideas. I always find something I can use in my classroom :)



As always, thanks for stopping by!
 If you like this idea, please check out my Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook pages!
Just click the little icons at the top :)




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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday: 100th Day Ideas!


Hi Friends!
Today was the 98th day of school for me and the kiddos, which means the 100th day is just right around the corner....Ours is Tuesday, and as I was writing my plans for the week, I thought I would do a little Throwback Thursday action with some fun ideas for the big day.
I'm really not sure when the 100th Day became a "thing". I don't remember doing it as a kid, but it's been something all of my students know is coming...and they're so excited about it!

This year, we're all dressing up like we are 100 years old, which I think will be so much fun.  We're also doing a bunch of other fun stuff, too!! 

Here are some of the activities we've done in the past that the kids have loved!  I set these up as centers that the kids rotate through during the day. Most years, we've had the centers going all week, so that helps with planning...and it keeps the fun going!
Hershey Kiss Counting: Kiss Your Brain!
I use these little dot stickers (Dollar Tree, Dollar General, Walmart), and stick one to the bottom of 100 Hershey Kisses. The kids have to pull out a kiss, and color the 100 chart the color of the sticker. They continue until they fill in the whole chart.  This year, I'm doing it with a 120 Chart to make it more Common Core friendly.  {The kids get a little baggie of kisses when they're finished, too!}

100 Cup Stack:
This fabulous idea came from Joyful Learning in KC. We've been doing it for a few years, and it's always a favorite. The kids get to take 100 cups, and build anything their little hearts desire. It's amazing what they come up with. I love seeing their creativity!

Sprinkles & Bubble Gum!!
What kid doesn't love cupcakes, sprinkles and bubble gum?! Not many. My firsties have to cut little pieces of paper  - 100 pieces - to create sprinkles for their cupcake.  I also have the bubble gum center where they use Q-Tips to make 100 gumballs for their machine.  They then "subtract" (i.e. cross out) any number of gumballs to create a subtraction problem.  Fun fun!!  Both of these are time consuming, but I love how they turn out! :)

Snack Time!!
10 items....10 of each.
The students count out 10 of each of our ingredients to create their own 100th Day Snack. I send home a letter asking for donations, and we use these mats to help with sorting and counting.  
Of course, this center is a crowd favorite...and a teacher favorite, too!

100 Art: What Can You Make with 100?
Each child gets a 1, and 2 zeros to create anything they want. This little guy made glasses, and I think it's so cute! It's always fun to see their little creations.{I can't find the original source of where I found it on Pinterest, so if you know where this idea came from, please let me know.}
Mr. George Baker:
Sweetness....pure sweetness. I absolutely LOVE this book.  We read the text as a whole group, then the children write about what they think life will be like when they are "old", like Mr. Baker.  Warning: This is a tearjerker, but such a beautiful story. 

Speaking of being old.....
This is my first grader's absolute FAVORITE thing to do.
Using The Aging Booth app, I take all of the kids pictures & then they magically transform to see how they would look when they are 100.  The app actually says it only ages you like 30 or 40 years (which is terrifying when I look at this picture), but the kids think it's hilarious....and their parents love it, too!!
Seriously, this pictures gives me nightmares!!

Here's one of my sweet friend's from last year....so precious!
You can download it to your phone or tablet, and it's super easy to use. I just print the pictures the day before, and bring them to school for the kids. They use their pictures to go along with their Mr. Baker writing & we hang them in the hallway. 

So, those are some of my favorite things to do to celebrate the 100th Day! What are some other activities that you love to do? I'd love some new ideas!

As always, thanks for stopping by....and just think, the 100th Day means you're over HALFWAY to SUMMER!!! Woo hoo!!

  


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Real Teachers are....Messy?!


It's confession time... I don't know about you, but while I'm blog stalking, I find myself comparing my classroom to all those that I see. Everything is so organized and perfect, and let's be honest, we all want that.  But, the truth is... real teachers can be messy. We have SO much stuff...and often, SO little space and SO little time.

Today, I'm linking up with Hilary at Second Grade is Out of This World for her new "Real Teachers of 'Blog' County" linky to show off confess to our dirty little secrets....the mess.

Yep, we all have messes. Some more than others, but believe me, there's one lurking in almost every single classroom...even in those classrooms you pin & admire.

 Here's what my classroom looks like from the "outside"...

Fairly nice and tidy.... most days :)
 Labels and tubs and boxes....just like I like it...
My "desk".... more tubs, more labels....but then there's THE CLOSET.

I pride myself on being super organized at school and I love for everything to have it's place... but my closet is the dark corner of despair in my room. It's where organization goes to die.
 "Just cram and shove" seems to be my organization motto for this spot.
I'm so embarrassed to even show this on here... it's worse than I thought!

 You can see where this closet started out organized.
Ahh... I remember the day well..yes THE day. One. Just one.
There were tubs. There were labels.  There was POTENTIAL!
But, alas, the real world of teaching took over, and I just started stacking and cramming as time allowed.
It's just awful & I have every intent to get this place all neat and tidy at some point.

Today is not that day, though... I'll just keep stacking and praying things don't fall out and impale me in my classroom.  Until then, check out these other bloggers and their dirty little secrets.....

Click {here} to head over to Hilary's linky! :)

As always, thanks for stopping by! 
Now, it's your turn....where do you hide all of YOUR mess??



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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I {Heart} Instagram: Top 10 of the Year!

I know, I know, I've been a terrible blogger.
New Year's Resolution: DO BETTER AT BLOGGING!! :)

But, rather than waste your time talking about my problems, let's take a look back at the year....IG style!  While I haven't been the best at blogging, I do love me some Instagram!  I'm linking up with Natalie at Teachery Tidbits to highlight my favorites pics from 2014....

This was one of my favorite activities I did with my kiddos last year. They loved making 100 Day Cupcakes, and they turned our so stinkin' cute. I should warn you, though...these things take forever! 



This is a two-for-one special! We worked really hard on our opinion writing with What if You Had Animals Hair and What if You Had Animal Teeth. The kids absolutely loved the books...plus, their writing blew me away!! I call that a win-win! :)




Noun Trains! If you can't tell - I love me some craftivities! I know there are some people that don't think there's time to do crafts anymore in first grade, but I am a firm believer that children learn by play and by doing....and by doing crafts that incorporate what we are learning, I think they are better able to remember what we have learned. 
Just my opinion. Rant over. :)


You can't study nouns without working on adjectives, too! 
My first graders had so much fun creating their own monsters...and I had so much fun reading their descriptions!



If you haven't heard or used the song "Sneaky e is a ninja" from the Electric Company, go now to YouTube, and search it.  It's okay... I'll wait.

Yep, now it's in YOUR head, too!  I've been singing it for weeks!


One of my favorite activities of the year! Using "tent cards" (notecards folded in half) & a looooong piece of string tied to  both ends of the room, the kids put the numbers 0-120 in order. 
It was mass chaos, yes....but super fun...and educational, too! :)


 I'm in awe sometimes of how much our little ones are expected to learn...
but, this activity was a fun one and  I do LOVE a sticky note!


Volcano Day....still referred to by some of my first graders as the "BEST DAY EVER!".
Yes, it was THAT fun!


I really loved my "back to school" door this year.
And, for the record, the balloons DID stay inflated...for several weeks! :)


And my favorite one...
This has been kind of a rough year.. I won't lie. But, things like this are what keep me going.
They kids were at their Working with Words station, and when they finished with spelling words, they made me this.
It made my heart smile :)

So, that's it for me, friends. If you don't follow me on IG yet, click the little picture logo at the top of my blog and follow me....so I can follow you, too!!

As always, thanks for stopping by and.... Happy New Year!!!!!
(this looks like my kind of year right here!!!)

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