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Classroom Reveal.....Almost finished....

Hello Friends,

I met my "littles" on Friday. Even after all my years of teaching, I continue to get excited for a new year. All those eager little faces and apprehensive parents...... There is just something about the beginning of the year that is delightful and exciting.....

I thought I would share a few photos of my classroom. I am not completely finished; but really, really close!

I love this reading nook. I have had this beach umbrella in my classroom for many years. This summer, I ALMOST replaced it with a newer one, but the colors of this one fit so perfectly with this room, that I thought I would give it another chance and I am glad that I did! The letters for READ are simply KG Second Chance font in Power Point that I blew up REALLY big and then copied onto colored card stock. 

This is the first year that I did NOT do a complete overhaul on my classroom library. I am happy with how it worked last year, so there are no changes there. I think I purchased the black plastic shelves from Lowes.

Here is another little reading nook. This is where I will have my CD players set up for my kiddos to listen to a story.  You cannot see them from this photo, but I also purchased 6 scoop rockers that my kids can use when sitting in this nook or actually anywhere in the classroom where they are comfortable and not in the space of another child...... You also can see my "pile" of filing on the bottom right that I must get to before the first day of school.... sigh.... filing is ALWAYS last on my TO Do list..... :)

I moved my reading table/small group area to the front of the classroom.  I don't have it completely organized yet, but my splurge this year is my new teacher cart! I can't wait to have everything I need to teach a lesson right at my fingertips...  and by the way... that is not an outside door that I am blocking with the cart! :)

You can "kind of" see a table with striped place mats on the bottom right of the photo. This is my iPad table. I am hoping to give my kids their own space when using their device. We'll see......

 Here is my religion bulletin board and you can see the iPad table a little better in this photo...

  Here is another bulletin board... nothing really new, but it sure brightens up the corner of the classroom!

I love owls, so here is my little classroom collection of owls.

So... that's it for now, my friends... I need to scoot and spend some time with my family today....

Here's to a wonderful and rewarding year to everyone!

Until next time!


Back to School Decorating and Wish Lists with Oriental Trading

Hello Friends,

Oriental Trading contacted me and asked if I would be willing to do a review on some of their products.  They have a great link for teacher supplies, so I agreed. Here are my reviews...

The first item is this CUTE Chalkboard Safari Animal bulletin board set. I am using black/teal and chalkboard items for my decor and this set was PERFECT for adding some fun to my reading corner. It is not completely finished. I still want to add a little table on which to place a CD player for my kiddos to use for LISTEN TO A STORY. But.... I am loving this little corner and those cute animals, letters, and trim!

This bulletin board set is BIG! I used the extra animals to add some cuteness to my storage shelves.

And...... enough to add some decorations to my birthday door.... not finished, of course. After the circles are all up and once I meet my kiddos, I plan to take photos of them and attach to the circles.

I am also loving these poster sized chalkboard animals with their simple sayings - Be Yourself, Be Creative, Have Courage, Stand Tall, Dream Big, Be Yourself. They are large enough to put above my word wall (My word wall is not finished yet!) and my kiddos will be able to see them. Oriental Trading suggests that you laminate them for durability. I did not laminate them because the glare of lamination sometimes bothers me. Even without lamination, they still have a shiny surface.... :)

I like for my kids to wear name tags at the beginning of the year; especially to their "specials" classes. I also like to have name tags available for any subs I might have. In the past, I have attached name tags to lanyards, but the lanyards have always been too long for my kiddos and ended up being a "spin" toy, so I often stopped using them early in the year. This year, I found these chalkboard safari animal lanyards. I think they will be large enough to fit over the heads of my kinders, but also snug enough that they won't be able to spin them around their neck! (fingers crossed) I added these chalkboard safari labels to the end. I don't remove the backing from the label. Instead I punch a hole in the top and insert the hook. I created name labels by using an Avery template #18660. They are clear labels, so the animal faces show through. Laminating the labels will give them extra durability.
I am looking forward to trying these dry erase markers with ERASERS in my small groups. I like the fact that they have erasers attached. No more looking for erasers or using fingers to erase. Since I haven't used them with students yet, I am unsure as to how long they will last, but using them in small groups should lengthen their life.

I am working on putting together my birthday bags that I give each of my students for their birthday. I still have a few more things to add, but these birthday pencils and Pete the Cat birthday cards will definitely be a part of them. I also found these birthday crowns . I have always given my kiddos a crown to wear for the day, but trying to measure their head and then stapling the ends together has always been a headache... Without fail, I would have to remove the staples and try again causing numerous staple holes in the crown. BUT these crowns have a velcro closure! My kiddos can decorate their crown and when they are finished, I can easily fit it on their head. Yay!

One thing that I am going to try this year is a wish list from Oriental Trading. They asked me if I would like to try it and I said that I would. I was a bit nervous about how it would all work, but it actually is really easy. To create your wish list, you log in (or create an account if you do not have one). Then when you click on a product, you will see two choices - add to cart OR add to wish list. When you click Wish List your item is saved and becomes an online registry. Once your wish list is complete (or even before you are finished), you can click SHARE. A small box will appear. Click and choose "URL" and you'll get a link that you can share with parents or anyone that you would like to see your list. Easy peasey!

Here is my Wish List link. Feel free to visit and get some ideas.... :)

So that's it for now, my friends.

Until next time....


Just so you know.....I was provided the Back to School products featured in this post from Oriental Trading for review purposes. Please know that all opinions offered in this post are honest and completely mine.

Back in my Classroom and an All about Me poster - freebie

Hello Friends,

I have 3 weeks before I meet my new group of kinders. Yesterday, I spent the morning in my classroom. Basically I just stood in the middle of the room and looked at "stuff" that I THOUGHT  I had purged when I left in May. ...but sure didn't look like I had! Whew..... How will all that stuff in boxes and crates fit in my classroom? Ugh......

The GOOD thing, though, is that I really do enjoy organizing and setting up my classroom. I like to make little changes each year; keeping the things that work and revising the things that don't. I also like to look over curriculum from years past and do the same thing; keep things that worked and delete things that don't. It's the life of a teacher...... We can't wait to get it all put away in May/June and then get excited to put it up in August/September!

If you are like me, you are looking at some All About Me activities for the beginning of school. I just revised my packet. I took out quite a few pages that I felt were unnecessary. Because of this revision, I also lowered the price - A LOT!  If you previously purchased my All About Me pack, you should re-download it. I think you will like the changes. At the beginning of the year, I need resources that are simple and quick for my new kinders. I think I streamlined this enough that it can be used early in the year.

I also have a FREE All About Me poster that you can access as a Google doc. Please download it at home and not on your school server. MANY school servers will not allow you to download from outside the network. If you get a message to ask for permission from me to share this resource, try it from another server because the link is set for PUBLIC. :)

My classroom theme this year is going to be chalkboard. So, I am creating (and purchasing) everything chalkboard. I just finished my Alphabet cards. I added realistic photos to them instead of clip art. I LOVE cute clip art, but thought I would go for realism this year. There are large photo cards that I plan to hang up in my classroom, but also small ones that I plan to use in small groups. I also made a mini student black line book that correlates to the poster cards.

This resource took me ALL summer to complete. The librarians got to know me by name at the end of the summer! LOL! Tons of research has gone into its creation BUT that doesn't mean that I won't be revising it. I try really hard to stay true to current changes, so if anything doesn't seem quite right to you, PLEASE contact me and I will check it out!

You can try out a sample of ABC science HERE

So, that's it for now, my friends! Make sure that you enjoy these last weeks of summer - the first day of school will be here before you know it!

Until next time!


Ladybugs, summer trips and Five for Friday

Hello Friends,

It's Five for Friday and it is STILL Friday - Yay! It's the little things, my friends..... joining a Friday linky on a FRIDAY is a big deal to me! ;)

So here I go.......

 1.  First of all, I have to tell you that my daughter and I saw Adele in Chicago a few weeks ago! My husband gave me the tickets for Christmas last year. I was one of the lucky ones who got to see her. She was everything that I knew she would be.... What fun my daughter and I had!

2.  I found some pretty nasty aphids on some on my plants in my school garden. Do you see them in this photo? They are those yellow spots on my millkweed. So, I ordered 1600 ladybugs to see if they would stay around to chomp on those nasty bugs.... I am hoping that they will stay around and not relocate....

 3.  We took our annual trip to South Haven, Michigan last week. We usually spend this time with my parents, but unfortunately, my Dad wasn't feeling well, so it was just 4 of us. My oldest son and his wife could not make it either.... We missed everyone, but still had a wonderful few days.

 4.  Another trip I made was to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. We spent a wonderful afternoon enjoying the work of Kerry James Marshall. If you get a chance to see his work, go! He is absolutely amazing!

 5.  I am ALMOST finished with Part 2 of my ABC Science resource. I just completed "Z" today and now it needs to go through the editing process. If you purchased ABC Science Part 1, make sure that you have the latest revisions. I am HOPING to have Part 2 complete by the first of August... (fingers crossed!) Here's the cover prototype... It might change in the editing process! Don't click on it! There's no link yet! ;)

Make sure that you visit Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching!

My Take on The Next Generation Science Standards - Part One

Hello Friends,

I am currently in the middle of a Next Generation Science Standards class and I thought I would share some of the things that I have been learning.  I am truly excited about this change in the way that we teach science. My blog quote "If they cannot learn the way we teach, then teach the way they learn" aligns perfectly with the goals of the NGSS. The switch from content based teaching to hands-on learning is amazing. With the NGSS, students are allowed to test out a hypothesis in a safe environment. They are allowed to fail because failing is learning, too. Questioning the reasons that we fail can lead to more investigating which (hopefully) leads to a correct conclusion. The NGSS encourages kids to write, draw, create models, charts, and graphs. These experiences can become part of our ELA and Math time which causes our curriculum map to become more well-rounded and we are not stuck in a "We can only do this during our science block" frame of mind.

The NGSS encourages kids to ask questions and explore. The teacher is there as a facilitator, and the old "I talk. You listen" teaching has been replaced with a "Here are the materials. Use them and we will talk later" style. This You Tube shows this technique in Suzan Locke's first grade class. They are learning about plants.....It's short and worth the time to watch. :)

 There are 3 dimensions to the NGSS - Science & Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas.  It took me awhile to wrap my brain around what each one of these actually meant. Simply stated, science & engineering practices are the hands-on elements. Giving kids an opportunity to explore, learn, and conclude in their own way; rather in ways they are told to learn is such an exciting change for me. Our old way of thinking have given kids the knowledge first; then asked them to use the scientific method to come up with a conclusion. NGSS allows children to explore FIRST; even without the background knowledge. Children are allowed to form their own conclusions before background knowledge is shared. One teacher shared that instead of showing her power point presentation FIRST, she showed it AFTER her students had a chance to explore. She found that the discussions she had with her students become more lively when her students were given the experience before the knowledge. I read this quote in a Scholastic article: "If you are going to learn about worms and you read the text first, you have removed the wonder." For me, this is going to be a challenge. I have always introduced the topic first and THEN had my kids explore.... Giving this up will definitely be a challenge!

Crosscutting concepts allow students (and teachers) to bring in all aspects of science ...
1.  patterns 2. cause & effect 3. scale, proportion, & quantity 4. systems 5. energy & matter 6. structure & function 7. stability & change).

An example of a cross curricular idea was shared by a teacher/student in my class... It involves the relationship between speed and energy. In physical science we teach that the more energy a person or machine has, the faster it moves. This can also be applied to life science... The more energy plants receive from the sun, the faster the plant grows. This simple comparison illustrates how concepts can flow from one to the other. 

The NGSS also encourages teachers to ask questions that cross all subjects and core ideas. Studying plants can cross into social studies when we discuss how the changes in seasons affect how people and animals live. It can cross into math when we count the days from when leaves go from green to orange. It can cross into ELA when we read non-fiction text and write in journals about our observations. It can cross into technology when we research the types of plants that grow in our community.

Click on the screen shot below to find a WONDERFUL resource for building science lessons upon non-fiction text.

The disciplinary core ideas are the focus areas for each grade level. They are divided into 4 areas: physical science, life science, earth & space, and engineering, technology, & applications. In this link, you can click on your specific grade level and read the specific expectations for each core idea.

So.... this is a quick overview of what I have been learning. I will write more as I learn more.

Until next time,