Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Organizational Tools

Hi Friends!
Do you have organizational tools in your classroom that you just love
and continue to use year after year?  I know I do! 
I'd like to share a couple of organization tools that I've been using for more than 20 years.
The first one is my paper filing system.  I use the number system in my classroom.
Each student is assigned a number which they write on each and every paper, along
with their names, so that I can file their papers in their correct cubbie. 
Here's a picture of the paper filing system I use. 

I bought this unit at Office Max many years ago & it's still in good shape.
Instead of names, I use numbers so that I don't have to change them every year.
The next organization tool I'd like to share is simple, but effective.
I have 3 white tubs that I use to sort completed work, homework, and Thursday Folders.
My students learn very quickly where to put their work when it is completed.
They know exactly where to put their homework folders each morning when they come in.
They also know where to put their Thursday Folders when they bring them back on Friday.
Instead of sending student work or notes home every night, our district sends everything home on
Thursday in a special folder that parents must sign and date, so we know they saw it.
It's keeps student work and notes organized and easy to find.

Here's a picture of the tubs on my counter. 
post signature

Saturday, May 26, 2012

My Summer Fun!

Hi Friends!
Now that my summer vacation has begun, I will be doing lots of camping and fishing.
My husband and I camp and fish along the Mississippi River.  My husband has fished
the Mississippi River since he was a young boy.  I started fishing with him about 5
years ago and I found it to be very relaxing.  We fish for Walleye mostly.
We camp at a small campground with a beautiful view of the Mississippi. 
We have a very nice 5th wheel camper which means we're not roughing it at all.
It has all the ammenities of a small apartment.
It's going to be a very hot (in the 90's) Memorial Day weekend. 
Here's a few pictures...enjoy your weekend!!!
My husband & me at the campground.

This is our camper and one of our dogs.  I landscaped around our campsite to make it more homey.

The Barzeebo...and the Mississippi River in the background.

That's me with a catfish I just caught!

This is my husband deep frying fish.

post signature

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Last Day Gift

Hi Friends!
I'm done!  I'm done! 
Year 26 complete!!!
Today was my last day.  The kids were dismissed at 10:55 a.m. and staff at 3:00 p.m.
I had a sweet little girl in my class give me a goodbye gift today.   This was not
an ordinary gift, but one that was given by her...not thought of  by a parent, bought by a parent, wrapped by a parent or card signed by a parent.  She did it all.  You see, I work in a low socia-
economic school where 97% of the kids are on free lunch.  I rarely get gifts or cards, but
the ones I do receive are usually hand picked by the students from inside their homes.
I always treasure these gifts because I know the students themselves were thinking of me:)
Here's the gift I received today. 

Dear Mrs. Anderson,
I give you
a gift to say
(On the back it said...)
I will miss you!
post signature

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Writing: Author Sharing

Hi Friends!
Do you do Author Sharing as part of your Writer's Workshop?  I've been doing it for years
and believe it is an important part of my writing block.  My writing block always begins
with a short (or sometimes long) mini lesson.  Then I send the kids off to write.  While
they are writing, I conference with 2 or 3 kids and give each one support as needed.
The kids I conference with are the ones that get to share what they have written for the day.
Everyone moves to the carpet area and I call each child up to read aloud his work.  I use
a microphone and speaker so that everyone can hear them.  The author reads his piece
aloud and then shares his picture(s).  Next, the author asks the class if there are any
comments, questions, or connections.  The author calls on a couple of students and answers their
questions.  Then I take a moment to point out some of the good things I see that student
doing in his writing piece.  Finally, we all clap for the author.  You can imagine
how proud each and every student is when they have the opportunity to share their work and be
recognized by their peers and teacher.  I've been doing Author Sharing for over 20 years
now,  and I can honestly say that it's my favorite part of my teaching day.

Here's an author sharing her writing!

I use a karaoke machine for my microphone and speaker.

I have Author Sharing cards with names on them so the kids & I know who's sharing
from day to day.  All I have to do is turn the card.  The kids always cheer when it's
their day to share.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree

Hi Friends!
I've had a few questions about the Chicka Boom Boom tree that I have in my classroom.
My husband and I made this and it was actually pretty easy.  I used an old wooden
table and had my husband shorten the legs so it was about 2 feet off the ground.  I had him
make a hole in the middle of the table for the trunk.  I painted the table red and added a
festive plastic skirting around the edge and secured it with thumb tacks. 
 For the trunk, I used a 6 ft piece of pvc pipe and wrapped brown crinkled bulletin
 board paper around it.  Next, I added some sticky letters on the paper.  I put the trunk
in the hole in the center of the table.  Finally, I added some large leaves that I got at
Hobby Lobby.  The leaves were pretty pricey even though I got them on sale.
I was very happy with how it turned out.  My students really liked it, too!  
My Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree

Friday, May 18, 2012

Smart Board Steps

Hi Friends!
Do you have a Smart Board in your classroom?  This is my second year with one in my room.
When it was installed, it was placed over a chalkboard at the front of my room.
It looked like it would be just the right height for my first graders to use until I actually
started having them use it.  Most of them could reach the middle of the board, but that was it.
So, I used a step stool for them to stand on, but it only allowed them to reach certain parts of the board without stopping and moving the step stool over to reach another part.  I decided I needed something much bigger for my little ones to stand on and be able to move around and touch all parts of the Smart Board.  I discussed this with a coworker of mine who was having the same problem with her kindergarteners not being able to reach the board.  Anyway, to make a long story short, her
dad put together these really cool steps.  He purchased a "stair kit"(I don't know if that is the exact name.) from a local hardware store and then added some carpet on top of them. 
They work GREAT!!!  Have a look!

post signature

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Math Journals

Hi Friends!
I know many of you use math journals in your classroom, so I'd like to share what I use for math
journals and prompts.  I use composition books and add a label to the front.  I have the kids
sign their name and color the front with markers.  I tape a piece of yarn on the inside of the
back cover.  It is used as a bookmark throughout the year.  (I got that idea on Pinterest.)
For math prompts, I  usually write my own because I like to use my students' names
in the story problems.  Other times, I use math journal prompts that I've purchased on TPT.

Take a look:)

post signature

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Math Manipulatives

Hi Friends!
I am always on the look out for math manipulatives that my students can use for a variety of math activities.  I always seem to find something at the Dollar Tree. (Love that store!)
 I especially like the little erasers that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. 
Here are a few different ones I've picked up this year.

I have used these over and over again for all kinds of math activities. 
 My favorite thing about having my kids use erasers is that they don't make any noise!

I also like to use food as manipulatives.  My students are always more attentive when there's food involved!  Here is an example using fish crackers.

We used this for addition and subtraction story problems.
post signature

Monday, May 14, 2012

All About Me

Hi Friends!
Do your students like to know about your life outside the classroom?  Mine sure do!  
They love to hear stories about my life with my family and pets.
They are always surprised to learn that I am married and have two kids and three dogs.
They want to know everything about each and every one of them.
I do share pictures and information about my life.  I find that my students get to know me
not just as a teacher, but as a "real" person. 
At the beginning of the school year, I read a book I created to my class called
 All About Mrs. Anderson
Inside it is all kinds of information about me from early childhood to adulthood.
On the last page of the book, I tell them that I want to learn all about them this year.
After reading it, I place it in the classroom library.
Here are a few pages from my All About Mrs. Anderson book.

Ariel in now 22 and going to Chiropractic School and Austin is 19
and a welder. 

post signature

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Not School Related

Hi Friends!
I am off to Des Moines, Iowa, for an all natural bodybuilding competition. 
No, I am NOTcompeting because everyone would probably throw tomatoes at me:)
My daughter competed last year in the Figure Division and met her now, fiance, at the show.
He was competing as well.  He won his division and was Mr. Iowa!  He also got his pro card.
Here it is a year later and my future son-in-law is competing again in the pro division.
My husband & I are going there to support him today.  It's a 3 hour drive and so I'm off!
Here's a photo of my daughter, Ariel, & her fiance, Tim, at last year's competition.
They look really dark because of the spray tan they have to get to accentuate their muscles.
Good luck, Tim!!!
post signature

Friday, May 11, 2012

Shelf Clutter Cover Up

Hi Friends!
I am lucky to have built-in bookshelves in my classroom.  I have four of them along one wall.
I have plenty of materials to fill them up and then some. (I am sure all of you can relate!)
 I want to share one way I like to cover up my shelves, so that I don't have to look at all the clutter I've piled on them. I know this isn't a new idea for some of you, but it really works for me.
All you need is a tension rod, some great fabric, and fabric glue. 
(I have a mother who sews, so I didn't use fabric glue.)
I found that a larger diameter tension rod works best.  It's a little more expensive, but worth it.
There's lots of really cute school themed fabric available now. However, I chose one with dogs.
I had my mom sew a sleeve along the top to slide the tension rod through and a hem
along the bottom.  It was a pretty simple project.  I've had these up for 3 years now and
they're still in excellent condition.  Check out the before & after pictures!

Tension rod & fabric

post signature

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Writing Trait: Ideas

Hi Friends!
My computer has been down for a few days, so I'm trying to catch up on what I've missed!
Today I'd like to share a couple of ways to compile writing ideas with students.
I rarely give my first graders a topic to write about.  I really believe that they should
write about things they know about, care about, and have a personal connection to.
I know what some of you are thinking...what if they can't think of anything to write about?
Well, at the beginning of the school year, we spend time coming up with as many ideas
as we can to write about.  I record the students' ideas on a piece of paper and draw a
quick sketch of each idea.  (I am NOT an artist, but I always try my best.)
After compiling all the ideas, I copy the idea sheet and put it on the back of
each child's writing folder.  Then I laminate the folder.  I rarely have a student
that says he doesn't have anything to write about, but if I do,
 I remind him to look on the back of his folder for some ideas. 

Another way I have students compile ideas is to use an Idea Notebook.
I give each of my students a handmade 6"x4" blank notebook. 
They write "My Ideas" on the cover.  When they have a great idea they want
to write about, I tell them to go write it in their Idea Notebook & make a quick
sketch so they don't forget about it.  This is usually done in the morning when
they first get to school.  I don't know about you, but my students always
have exciting things to tell me in the morning like "I lost a tooth!" or "I'm going
to a birthday party tonight!" or "I saw the principal at the store!" or "I got
a new puppy!"  This is the perfect opportunity to say, "Go write that idea in
your Idea Notebook, so you can tell me all about it when it's time to write today!"
The Idea Notebook is kept in their desks, so it is always handy.
This is another place for students to look for ideas.

Happy Writing!

post signature

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Starbucks Anyone?

Hi Friends!
I didn't want to post today because I know everyone is over at TPT for all the
freebies, BUT my friend, Lyn, over at Mrs. Goff's Pre-K Tales is giving
away a $50.00 gift card to Starbucks in celebration of her 50th blog post.
Visit her blog to sign up for this giveaway until May 9 at 7 a.m.
Take some time to read some of her posts.
She always has lots of wonderful ideas to share!!
post signature

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Sound Muncher

Hi Friends!
I made this Sound Muncher when I taught kindergarten.  I saw lots of different kinds
on the internet and just had to make one.  If you've haven't seen one before, just
google it and you'll find lots of them. 
The Sound Muncher will only eat things that begin with a particular sound. 
If you are learning about the letter "t" then he will only eat things that begin with the letter "t".
(You could also do a middle or end sound.)
You can feed him picture cards, small items, or anything else
 that will fit in the his mouth.    
The kids really love the Sound Muncher!
I made him from a small plastic garbage can with a lid
that swings back and forth.  I spray painted it green, made a face, and
then added lots of sticky letters.  It was really easy to make.

post signature