Five for Friday Classroom Reveal

Today is a super special Five for Friday! I am linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching to show you 5 areas in my classroom! 

I am really loving my new calendar area and math focus wall. It is helping my firsties to practice a lot of tricky common core concepts every morning, and they are loving all of the activities! I keep everything on magnets so I can move it for math lessons or interventions. Almost every piece of this wall is available in my store: 
common core calendar companion kit
mathematical practices signs
number cards 
calendar signs  
weather sign and pictograph 
addition to 10 chant

We have several areas for reading and writing. We have a writing area that also serves as an area for small group intervention. I made the giant pencil for the writing board from the roll that came inside my classroom carpet. I will display writing samples on this bulletin board throughout the year.
We use this area for our library center. My IKEA chair is perfect for reading books to the class, and two kids can fit together on it pretty comfortably for partner reading. I painted the giant books that hang from the ceiling before my first year teaching. They are getting a little worn, but I just can't retire them yet. 
We use the "book store" for shopping for our leveled books. It's easy to move around the room and super easy to maintain. Click here if you want to learn more about the system. 

We have a school wide positive behavior program, which is amazing! Our kids love it! I use a magnetic behavior chart on my filing cabinet. Each child has a magnet with his/her number and it moves up or down throughout the day to reflect his/her behavior. At the end of the day, they accumulate "rocket fuel," which is similar to tickets. We store them in a pocket chart, and then the kids can buy rewards from our prize catalogs, or they can buy tickets to reward events!

I adore the windows in my classroom this year! I hung some frames on the windows behind my desk and filled them with pictures of teachers who have inspired me or notes from some super sweet kids. I plan on changing what hangs in the frames throughout the year!

Have a fabulous weekend friends!

Wordless Wednesday with a SWEET FREEBIE!

Happy Wednesday Friends!

I finally get to meet my 24 new first graders today! Yay! #excited #nervous

I am linking up with Miss Decarbo at Second Grade Sugar and Spice again today for Wordless Wednesday, which is always fun!

I made these little goodies for my team at school and also for my son's teachers at preschool. I just attached them to a little bucket or a cellophane bag and poured in a variety of Hershey Kisses and Hugs...super easy!

These little gift tags are editable and FREE in my store, just click here

I love to keep a little something sweet in my desk! So my very important question for you...what snacks do you keep in your desk?

Have a sweet day!!

Why do I teach?

I am linking up again today with BLOG HOPPIN' for TEACHER WEEK!

"Why did I ever become a teacher?" I called my mom crying during my first week of teaching after an epic catastrophe of a day and asked that very question...despite a few bad days I really do LOVE teaching, and these are the Top FIVE Reasons why...

Number 5
Even if I try, I rarely stop thinking about school! #obsessed
Teaching is my job, but it's really more of my life. I think of lesson ideas in the grocery store, at the bank, on vacation, anywhere and everywhere. I spend my three months "off" making things for the upcoming year. I wake up early on the weekends to read teaching blogs, and now I stay up late to write one of my own. 

Number 4
Teaching is in my blood! 
I come from a very, very big family of teachers. My grandmother was a teacher, and she actually taught in a one room schoolhouse in the mid-west. She later married a teacher, and four of her children, including my dad, became teachers. Seven of my cousins are teachers or principals, and my sister-in-law teaches at my school! 

Number 3
I love office and art supplies!
I love loading my cart with packs of card stock, labels, crayons, glue sticks, markers...the list goes on and on. I also love that I can draw and color almost every single day at work! How many people get to say that?

Number 2
I love kids! #obviously
I have the BEST time with my little learners. Their innocence, humor,  determination, creativity, and brilliance never cease to amaze me! Spending a day with first graders is exhausting, hilarious, heartwarming, and unforgettable! 

Number 1
Teaching simply reminds me each day that the world is filled with hope!

Why do you teach friends?


Where do I teach?

I am linking up again today with  BLOG HOPPIN' for TEACHER WEEK to tell you all about where I teach. 

I am so lucky to teach at a beautiful school in Pennsylvania. When I got the phone call about my position, I was driving home from Slippery Rock University, and a rainbow seemed to be following me. The picture of that rainbow hangs by my desk and reminds me how blessed I am to have such an amazing career! 

My classroom has been closed all summer until today! I can't wait to set my iced coffee down on my desk and get started. I just love the anticipation filling a classroom in August. All of the ideas in my head are ready to come to life, and all of the projects and supplies that have filled my living room for 3 months find a new home. 

Here are just a couple bulletin boards and displays of years past....I am not using them anymore, but maybe they can inspire you! 

Please stop back soon friends to see pictures of my 2014 classroom!

Wordless Wednesday

I am teaming up with Miss DeCarbo at Sugar and Spice for the first time today! I have loved reading these posts so I am super excited to share one of my own! 

Next week, I will officially be able to get back into my classroom. As I excitedly open that door, I know an itty-bitty part of me will be frowning as I think about my own little kiddos. I have been spending this week preparing all of us and soaking up these sweet summer moments!

When our little guy started preschool, I remember dropping him off and thinking of the millions of things I wanted to tell the teacher....the list was endless.

I tried to make our communication with our sitter detailed but easy to follow. All of this made me rethink the questions that I ask the parents of my students. I have used the same parent survey for a few years, but I think I can do better! So...I actually have two questions for you. 

As a teacher, what questions are the most helpful to ask parents? 
As a parent, what questions do you wish teachers would ask?


make a DATE with your calendar

Let me introduce you to one of my favorite parts of my day....calendar! I call it calendar, because we do, in fact, begin by looking at the calendar but it is soooo much more. This is the time of the day when I squeeze in all those super duper important math skills that we need to constantly practice, but can't fit into our math block every day. The best part is that it naturally occurs first thing in the morning so kids are uber focused, I just finished my coffee, and no one has to go to the bathroom yet!

I know it's a bit old school, but I love having a "real" calendar wall in my room. I just can't get into using my Promethean board for this part of the day. There is something kids love about moving the pieces, and I really like that they can view the words and numbers throughout the whole day! I hang all of my calendar components on a chalkboard with magnets. Then I can remove the components and bring them to small group lessons, or the kids can use them at a calendar center. I attach Velcro to the pieces that change (days, numbers, etc) but you can use sticky tack or tape. 

We start each day by updating the calendar. I have used a few different calendars in the past. This is my current set from Creative Teaching Press. You can click here to view their website. We do all of those basic calendar elements you know: month, day, yesterday, tomorrow, etc. This is a great time to help build the confidence of some little learners who may be shy or who need extra support! 

Last year we started writing the date two different ways to meet some learning standards so we do the digital date and the complete date. You can get these signs for FREE at my store starting tomorrow!

Kids love talking about the weather, and it's a great way to tie in some tricky math skills. We describe how it feels and looks outside with words. Then we graph the weather for the week using a pictograph. I use the graph to review application problems! Some of my favorite graph questions sound something like this, "If you only like sunny and cloudy days, how many days did you like the weather this week?" or "If there were 3 more sunny days this week, how many would there be in all?" or "How many FEWER snowy days than cloudy days this week?" 

Of course, we also learn about the number of the day. We circle it on a hundreds chart. (I still love how every first grader thinks school will be over on day 100!) Then we build it with unifix cubes and talk about hundreds, tens, and ones. I used to use straws and then bundle a group of ten, but most of my little learners could transfer that idea to math when talked about place value. We also keep track of the number using tally marks, and we represent the number using coins. We say our money poems each day too!

A few activities are specifically designed to meet those common core standards. We make a number family each day. We repeat the families throughout the year, but it is good fluency practice! We also practice saying our doubles facts or we do our addition to 10 chant

Lastly, we do a counting card and/or game. The counting cards are 29 fun ways to practice counting forward or backward by 1, 5 or 10. The games are quick whole group activities you can use to practice too! I just put all of the cards on a binder ring and hang them on the board.

Phew!! That sounds like a lot, and it is (but it doesn't feel that way when you do it!) My little learners love calendar, because it's fun, and it moves quickly. They don't realize that we are addressing a laundry list of standards when we move across the calendar wall, but I notice it when I teach math!  The important things we do at calendar make my little learners smile and make their brains grow too...and now, we can take a bathroom break!
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