Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Today's Great Dollar Finds

I have to admit I really don't need anything for my classroom, but I can't seem to help myself.  The trunk of my car is full of things for my classroom.  I can't get in to bring them into my classroom yet and heavens knows I don't want to bring them in my house for hubby to see.  So I just keep adding to my stash.

Today I ran into Dollar General to grab a few things quickly.  (It is so much easier than those huge stores sometimes.)  I found some amazing things!  Even better they were only a dollar!  Check them out!
 All of these classroom decoration items from Art Skills were only a dollar each!  I like that they can easily be incorporated into many different themes.  The schedule chart is laminated and ready to use.  The super cute beehive even comes with cling bees ready to label and use.  The color words are great too!
 I love, love, love these Make Your Own Scratch Off Coupons!  You write the prize, then put the scratch off sticker over it.  I think the kids will love these!
 This little guy is so cute.  I am adding him to my calendar wall!
The dry erase board is great, it includes writing lines and a picture or "show your work" box.  It too is only a buck!

Just thought I would share these great finds. 

Monday, July 29, 2013

QR Codes and A Manic Monday Made It

Hello!  I have been busy making things, trainings and getting ready for school.  I have 2 weeks until I go back to work (or should I say getting paid to work!)  My ADHD has me all over the place.  I start something, have another idea and go off on that tangent.  I have so many projects started and not finished.  My goal today and tomorrow is to finish things!  I will try really hard not to start something else but, we will see....

All summer I have been meaning to join in the linky fun with Made It Monday!

I finally finished a project and thought I would share!  I turned these empty Pringles cans into my sharp and need to be sharpened pencil cups.  I have seen similar cups made with paper.  However, why use paper when you can use duck tape!
First, use yellow duck tape to cover the can.  I overlapped it to give it more of a pencil look.
Next, I took the pink duck tape and covered the bottom of the container.
 Then, I added the silver duck tape.  (My girls were amazed their dad silver duck tape!)  Then I added the pink for the eraser at the very bottom.
 Now for the pencil tip I used masking tape.  Folding it, I made it into a triangle and then taped it inside the pencil container.  I used black sharpie to add the lead. 
Of course the Pringles can is taller than pencils and falls over easily.  I filled the cans 1/3 of the way with dried beans.  This weighted them down a little and makes it easy to get the pencils out.  These were so easy and turned out super cute.  I am making another set for my daughter's teacher too!

I am excited to share a new idea and project with you that I actually started and finished yesterday! 

This year I am taking our hunt around school for the Gingerbread Man digital!  Not only will this make exploring the school fun, it will also teach the students how to scan and use the codes.  I plan to use QR codes quite a bit this year in class.

The activity includes a rhyming story I wrote to share with the class about the Gingerbread Man coming on a secret mission to visit our class with the Fox hot on his tail!  He is running around school looking for us and will leave clues as he goes.  He doesn't want the Fox to be able to read them, so he will use QR codes.

I will post the Gingerbread Man QR codes all around the school.  For added fun, I will make them a little hard to find. 
We will use and iPad or iPod to scan the codes.  (I haven't decided if I am going to do this whole group or with our buddy class.)  When they scan the code the clue will pop up.  It looks like this.
Would you like to take your Gingerbread Man digital this year?  Good news, I have done all the work for you!  You can purchase this activity at my TpT store.  Just download, print and scan to find the Gingerbread Man!

Now for a Manic Monday Freebie too!  I always start my year off with "all about me".  Here is a template for students to use as they draw their self-portrait.  (Don't forget to save them for their end of the year memory books!)  Click here to grab it free.

Looking for more freebies?  Check out Classroom Freebies for More Manic Monday Freebies!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Friday, July 26, 2013

Reading Focus Wall

School is coming quickly and I am beginning to stress more and more as I try to get a grasp on a new reading and math curriculum for this year.  We are going to McGraw-Hill Wonders for reading and Go Math for Math.

I made major progress with the reading series this week.  I have a focus wall in my room (mainly to keep me on focus...) for reading.  Normally I do this on one section of my board, but it takes up so much room valuable space.  It also takes time (usually Monday morning rushing) to write all of this information each week.  So with my new series (Wonders Grade 1), I decided to make focus wall posters for each week with the focus skills, words of the week and CCSS.  I have finished all of the weeks to accompany Wonders 1st Grade, Unit 1 Focus Wall and have them in my store.  You can click here to preview it with Unit 1 Week 1 Focus Wall freebie. 

So to solve my space problem I thought of this.  

It was so easy to make with 7 page protectors and clear packaging tape.  Just tape the page protectors together and it is ready to hang up.  I used a wooden stick to help support the top and keep it flat.  You can print the pages on any colored paper.  (Colored paper is way cheaper than colored ink!)  This focus wall will not take up nearly as much space as I have used in years pass.  

I also included in a sheet to send home with parents or put in the student binders with all of the words and skills for the entire unit.  This way I am not sending home a sheet a week, once every size weeks is so much easier.  

I am finishing up the remaining units for first grade.  However, I am trying hard to relish my last days of summer.  (Although it is hard with all that is on my mind.)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

QR Codes with Audio

My mind is spinning with ideas for the new year.  (I can't seem to turn it off!  It is my birthday, and I'm still thinking and working on school stuff.  I admit I have problems!) 

I know about QR codes and have used them a little in the past.  Mainly for parents to access various things.  I haven't really utilized them with my kids.  I have all kinds of ideas of ways to use them next year.  I don't just want the kids to scan them, I want them to create them and use them to enhance their learning.  This is tougher when you are working with firsties.  I really enjoy teaching these guys and integrating technology.  Things you would never thing they could do and pick up so quickly. 

Everyone knows you can link a website or video with a QR code.  Did you know you can also link audio?  Think of the possibilities!  First, I thought of many ways I could create audio QR codes to help students.  I could record myself reading the directions or questions for centers.  This would help them to work independently.

I got even more excited when I found this great website vocaroo.com !  It was so easy to record audio and generate a QR code; even  5 year old could do it!  I put these directions together and thought I would share, click here to get them free.

So this is what I am planning!  Imagine walking through the school halls and looking at student work.  Then you see a QR code by it, you scan it and hear the student explaining or expanding their work.  Think how much this would add to projects!  Students could do a research project, record themselves sharing what the learned.  Then students could scan and listen, learning from their classmates.  This is the ultimate way to easily incorporate the Common Core's speaking and listening standards.

So as my birthday present to you, I am sharing this info with you all.  I hope you are as excited about all of the possibilities as I am.  How will you use QR codes next year?  Please share in the comments!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Five for Friday

It is Friday, normally my favorite day of the week, but not today! When you are on vacation, the end of the week BITES!  But it is Friday, and this is my 5 for this Friday!

1.  Head over to Teaching Blog Roundup for a chance a to win a super prize from their authors during the Dog Days of Summer Giveaway!

2. I have had a fabulous week at Mexico Beach, Florida with my family. I have tried to work only a little, and cherish the moments I have with these two!

3. During my week at the beach, I played cards with my girls and Crazy Eights was one of their favorites! This inspired me to put together a Crazy Eights to help with Number Sense to play with my firsties this year. It will be a great addition to my STEM center. You can get it in my here in my TpT store for $1.95.  Even better, I am having a 20% off Dog Days of Summer Sale this weekend at my TpT store.

4.  I am in a giving mood and have a super cute NEW freebie for those of you thinking about getting your classroom ready.  Here is a new Alphabet Line!

5. Want more freebies and sales??  Teaching Blog Roundup is also hosting a freebie and sale link up.  Check out these links!  Have a freebie to share, link up to your blog post! 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Getting Ready for Back to School

It is hard to believe it is already July 8th!  I try not to focus too much on school during June, but start gearing up in July in hopes of a less hectic August.  (Of course this has not worked in the past, but I still hold out hope that maybe this year it will?)

We are using a new reading series next year, Wonders.  So far it all looks pretty good.  One of the biggest challenges at the beginning of the year is to figure out where your students are and what they know.  I normally do multiple activities and individual assessments the first week of school to figure this all out.  Well I think I have come up with an activity that will let me easily see where my students stand help me group them for differentiation.  It will also let me know where to start with the class as a whole.  I just completed this activity and you can get it in my TpT store.

This is a great activity to review alphabet knowledge and word work skills.  After reviewing the directions, I have the students complete the project independently.  Basically it is an alphabet book the students make sorting pictures by beginning sounds.  Then they label (or attempt to label) the pictures using phonetic spelling.  I can gather so much information about my firsties from this one fun project.  I learn about their ability to work independently, fine motor skills, handwriting, coloring, cutting & gluing ability, name writing, alphabet knowledge, following directions, and various phonics skills.  I complete the informal checklist regarding the observations while they work on this fun project, they don't even know they are being assessed.

The packet even includes the checklist you need.

I am also "filing" on my computer and ran across some cute class rules posters I made last year.  I thought I would share them with you on this Manic Monday!  Click here to download them.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1st Already??

Where did June go?  I can't believe how fast the summertime is flying by.  I am linking up with Farley's Currently.  This is one of my favorite linky parties.  I can get lost in blogland forever just clicking on the great blogs and bloggers that link up.  Right now there are over 350 blogs linked up.  Definitively a place to discover new and new-to-you blogs.

I am and have been listening to my daughters (12 and 9 years old) argue with one another all summer long!  I promise my Mom wished this on me when I was 12 and my sister was 9.  "I hope she has daughters just like ...".   I really do love my children and 90% of the time they are perfect, but that 10% boy oh boy!  Then to think I am staying in a hotel room with them for 5 days starting tomorrow...  I am sure in about 6 more weeks I will be ready to trade my 2 kids for 18 smiling firsties!

I am really LOVING that I don't have anywhere to be today.  Those of you who know me, know how rare this really is.  With 2 girls active in different sports and activities I often feel like I am stretched super thin.  But today nothing!!!!  Yay!

I am still trying to think where did June go and why aren't the items on my to-do list for June done?  I really wish we could add a 13th month to the year right before or after July, maybe Jugust??

I know it sounds crazy, but I really wish I could get in my classroom to work just a little.  If I could work like half a day, once a week maybe I wouldn't have to live there the week before school starts.  Especially this year with moving classrooms, what a mess!  Unfortunately we don't have access to our rooms :o(

I am in serious need of motivation to diet and exercise.  I really need to just add myself to my to-do list, I'm not even on the list.  Perhaps I should make some new list and put "ME" permanently at the number one spot!  (Look for this freebie soon!  I will share because I am sure I'm not the only one.)

As for tips, tricks or hints that is hard to narrow down.  I am starting my lesson plans for next year.  I love using Excel to do them in.  This way I have all of my plans in one file and can easily click from week to week using the tabs.  What program do you use to plan with??
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