Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Wonderful Fundraiser

Hello ladies and gentlemen! I am stopping by to let everyone know that a good friend of mine is holding this amazing fundraiser! My friend Melissa from A Teaspoon of Teaching is participating in a fundraiser to raise money for the Make A Wish Foundation! She has put together 3 different bundles targeting 3 different age ranges!

Each bundle is comprised of different products put together by different teachers that teach those grades. (I donated a set of alphabet flashcards) The products, if purchased, total over $70 a bundle, but you can have each one for $25! The best part? All the profit goes directly to the Make A Wish Foundation! You can read more about the fundraiser on Melissa's blog @

or you can click directly on the picture of the bundle and it will take you to her store! This really is a for a great cause. 

There is a K-2 bundle. 

A 3-5 bundle!

And a 6-12 bundle!

Again, EACH BUNDLE TOTALS OVER $70 BUT YOU CAN HAVE ONE FOR AS LOW AS $25! (Have you bought a bundle yet? Cause you really should!)

I hope everyone has been having a great week!

Always remember, every moment can be a learning moment!

Sincerely from TK,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Top 5 Teacher Hacks

As a teacher I am constantly trying to streamline my day and make things easier. Managing a class while working with limited space and only so many resources can be a bit over whelming. Today I am going to blog about my top 5 teacher hacks that have made my teaching experience so much easier. 

1. Clear containers for construction paper

I know they're file containers but I use them for my construction paper. I can see exactly what I have!

Ok, so I don't know if this is so much a hack, as I discovered these awesome containers and I love them because I can store my 9x12 sheets of construction paper in them perfectly. I can see inside and know what colors I have, what I don't have, how much of each color etc. These babies have saved me so many times when I needed to quickly pull out some construction paper for a co-worker, project, or what ever I have planned. 

2. Salt/Pepper shakers for glitter

I filled them up about 1/3 of the way with a color of glitter. I have about 1 set of 8 per table. 

Now, I may be crazy for this one, but it actually works for me and my kiddos. Use at your own discretion! I found a bunch of small clear salt and pepper shakers at the dollar tree one visit and I snagged up as many as I could get my hands on. I bust these bad boys out on VERY special occasions so the kids can experience shaking and aiming their glitter on their glue. They have to share a color (I wasn't rich enough to get one set of 8 for each kid) between about 2-
3 kids. Now, I want to put out a disclaimer. I HAVE VERY RESPONSIBLE KIDDOS THIS YEAR! They have really gone above and beyond to show me they know how to take care of my things, their things, their supplies and the classroom. They know better than to waste glitter by dumping it on the floor, or dumping a whole lot onto their paper and then throwing the majority away. I trust them to use the glitter properly, and we use it so rarely that they know it is a treat. I have not had a problem with my kids this year...ask me again next year and it might be a completely different story.

3. Indoor drying rack

I use clothes pins to "attach" student work to the rack. SAVES SO MUCH COUNTER SPACE!

I cannot gush about this product enough. My sister-in-law bought me an inexpensive indoor clothes drying rack for Christmas and I have used it almost every single day in the classroom. It is a super easy way to have kids dry their work when working with paint or glue. Mine is collapsible, so I can easily collapse it and tuck it away in a cabinet or under a counter and then just as easily pull it out and set it up. It holds 22 8.5x11 pages easily with clothes pins, and depending on the size of the project can hold as many as 44 student work samples. It is light weight and I just love it. I no longer have to lose counter space (of which I have precious little). I have been working with my kiddos on how to use liquid glue properly and this has been a great tool. Before they didn't understand WHY a puddle wasn't ok, other than it was just a waste, now they can see that when they use too much glue their paper "cries" and some of the pieces fall off. It has really cut down on glue puddles and wasting glue. Also, I've had less messy hands because they are using the appropriate amount of glue instead of glopping it on all over the place. 

4. Gallon ziplocs

I label mine for the classroom Monday-Friday and then put my papers inside!

My team lead, and good friend, taught me this trick at the beginning of the year. She has little baskets that are about 9"x12" big (perfect for laying paper down flat in) and she uses one each week. I started out with a basket a day, but when you're planning 2+ weeks into the future it can get space consuming. To help get me prepped and ready for future lessons I turned to my friend and what she said CHANGED MY PREPPING LIFE! She takes a gallon ziploc bag and writes the day on it. One for each day and then stuffs all her prepped materials for the day into each bag. She then stacks the bags (Friday on bottom) into the basket. She can get 6 weeks of planning and prepping down to 6 baskets which takes up half of a cubby top for her! It is genius. I have been stock piling gallon ziplocs because I use them so much. She also showed me that I can prep out my guided art lessons and make a bag specifically for those that can be used year after year after year. Fill the bag with all your pieces and then restock as needed, the bag holds the extras so eventually you wont need to prep for that year/activity. Maybe I'm just behind on this trick but it really has changed my life. Because of this trick I was actually able to plan AND prep almost 6 weeks into the future, allowing me to focus on other things like my intervention groups. 

5. Colored stickers

I used smiley faces, stars, push pin and plain dot stickers to code my library.

Ok...this isn't so much a teacher hack as I just use these darn things for EVERYTHING. In particular, this year I have been having a hard time with my kiddos putting library books away in the correct areas. I'm mildly OCD and my library was the biggest expense to me to put together so I want my books to be taken care of and treated nicely. They also need to be put back rather than just tossed on a shelf. I started with the idea of just putting a colored dot inside the front cover, but that wasn't a visual enough cue for me to see without opening the book, whether or not it was in the correct place. I created color coded labels for my baskets (maybe one of my five should have been little dollar tree baskets) and then placed matching colored stickers on EVERY book that belonged in that basket. Now I have and organized library and I don't have to worry about going and rearranging every week. It's a beautiful thing. My kids kind of think of it as a game. They love to match the stickers to the color label and then show me what a good job they've done being responsible. This is especially helpful during our reader buddy time. Imagine 50 kids all trying to pick out and put books back...before my colored stickers it was a nightmare! Now, I have those 4th graders as well as my little TKs matching the stickers and taking care of our materials. It's a beautiful thing. I do still have the occasional student who doesn't care and just tosses a book where ever they feel like it, but between others "reminding" them about the stickers or others correcting the mistake on their own, I rarely have to do any super big reorganization of our library. 

These are my top 5 hacks so far. They have really worked for me to make my classroom function better or to help keep me more organized. I'm constantly looking for new hacks and creative ways to use products. Leave me a comment below to let me know if you have a hack that wasn't featured. I'd love to hear about them!

I hope everyone has been having a great time in your classrooms and homes. Always remember, every moment can be a learning moment!

Sincerely from TK,

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Welcome back!

Wow! Has it really been almost a month since I posted last?! Shame on me!! 

I was a super busy bee over the break. My first week I volunteered in a friend's classroom since I was out earlier than her. She was my second grade teacher AND my master teacher for student teaching block 2 (which I co-taught 2nd grade with her.) She is one of my biggest supporters and mentors and I just LOVE being able to be in her classroom and seeing how she does different things. Such a learning experience! 

The second week was crazy. Doctors did open heart surgery on my 82 year old grandpa and the whole family was very scared and nervous. He made it through surgery with flying colors and is on his way to a full recovery. (YAY!) After that I host a small Christmas party with  my side of the family on Christmas Eve, then went to Hubby's parents on Christmas day for a big party over there. The following Saturday Hubby was rushed to the ER (by moi) at 5:30 in the morning for kidney stones! I went to the ER the following Tuesday because I got bit breaking up a dog fight (I'm perfectly fine.)  After that it was prep time for our traditional New Years Eve party...and when we finally recovered from that, I was in charge of a last minute (like 2 days to throw everything together) engagement party on this past Saturday! 

I am so glad the holidays are more excitement for me. Thank you very much!

Anyway, today was the first day back with munchkins and we had so much fun!! I introduced the kids to the idea that water comes in different forms. We're going to be spending the next two weeks learning about water as a liquid, water as a solid, and water as a gas. To help the kids understand the concept of water as a solid I brought up the idea of ice (most kids are familiar with ice and that it melt into water) and asked them where they see ice outside. Many kids say that they saw ice in their cups when mom or dad gave them a drink, but a few of them said that they remember it hailing a little while ago and that hail looked like little pieces of ice. This led us into a discussion about hail, sleet, snow and icicles. I told the kids we were going to do an experiment later in the week and they were super excited about it. 

We're going to make a snow man (out of shaved ice from a snow-cone maker my co-worker is letting me borrow) and we're going to see what happens when we leave him out in our classroom vs. what happens when we leave him outside. Now today it was almost 90...I'm hoping it'll be colder outside for this experiment but c'est la vie and I'll work with what I have. Next week I'll toss a bunch of water onto a hot electric griddle or skillet and show them that when water gets really really hot it evaporates and turns into steam. Ta-Da! Introduction into the gas form of water! The whole thing is going to be a lot of fun. 

Anyway, I've kind of focused on snowmen and snowflakes for our "topic" of the week so for math we had to sequence the parts of snowman from biggest to littlest! Aren't they stinking adorable!?

The kids had to draw eyes, a mouth, and arms on their snowmen. 
Some of them got a little...creative with their buttons. 
And some you can't even see!!
Our letter of the week is Mm, and we are REALLY working on identifying beginning sound. So, as a whole group I let the kids come up with ideas of what words started with m. I think they did really well...once I really explained the concept!

Now, don't get me wrong, I still had A TON of responses that were incorrect, but by the end of the lesson/discussion time they were getting the hang of it! I'm really hoping this helps solidify our beginning sound identification. 

OH! Victory moment!! I sent out progress reports the Friday before break, along with a target work packet, and I had one little girl that couldn't identify a single letter (upper or lower case) and could only tell me the sound that x made. I reassessed her today...SHE KNOWS 11 SOUNDS!!! I just about cried when I counted up her stars! (They get stars next to the letter when they master the sounds.) I was very proud of her and all the practice and work she had done over break.

 Look at this beauty that I got for Christmas!!! My sister-in-law bought this baby for me for Christmas and I could not wait to try it out!! Fully loaded it holds 22 regular sized papers, and I only have 19 kids so it's perfect! 

I cannot wait to show you more of what I have planned for the rest of the month! It's going to be an amazing adventure. 

I hope you've enjoyed this first blog post of the new year, and always remember:
Every moment can be a learning moment!

Sincerely from TK,

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