Now Serving the...Star Table

After a couple of restless days with my class, I decided I needed to take a little action. We started a new, simple management idea called the Star Table. Here were the problems I was trying to address when we got started:
       1. noisy transitions
       2. school supplies everywhere (crayons all over the desks, scraps on the floor)
       3. lack of cooperation

Here's how it works...Every morning the star hangs on the board or on my lanyard. I keep my star on a clothespin so I can move it around easily. As soon as one table is unpacked and quietly working or reading, I hang the star on their table sign. The table signs hang low enough that I can reach them without having to stand on anything.

This is totally off topic...but...each table in my room is named after a vowel instead of a number. It's a great way to practice your vowel sounds, especially at the beginning of the year! "Please line up table /e/ and table /u/!" If you need more than 5 tables, try adding digraphs! It's a super easy way to add extra daily phonics practice into your day! back to our star...

The star moves throughout the day to the quietest table. When we are out of our seats, the star only stays at tables where the chairs are pushed in, the floor is neat, and the desks are clear. If none of the tables are up to par, I hang the star back on the board or clip it to my lanyard. At the very end of the day, the table who has the star gets to spin the star wheel. It has made packing up super quick and quiet!

I got this picture wheel from Target years ago. I used to use it as my center rotation sign, but my kiddos LOVE spinning it for a prize. It's like the Price is Right comes to my classroom every afternoon! Whatever they spin, they win! The whole table gets the same prize so we only spin once. 

The star table works beautifully for several reasons. It builds a sense of community among the children at each table. They push in each other's chairs, and they pick up any paper on the floor even if it belongs to someone else. The learn to communicate quietly and respectfully. (I LOVE seeing them point to the star to remind someone to get back on task).  

It helps me too! I am always looking for who is doing the right thing. That kind of positive thinking makes the day go more smoothly! It has added a little fun into our day too! I can dance around with the star while I am looking for a star table- my kids call it the "star ballet." I can stick the star on my clothes in a silly spot. (I have gone home with the star still on my clothes-oops!) Making it fun makes it memorable and effective!

Happy Teaching Friends!


Loving EVERY minute of your day!

I am so excited to be linking up the amazing Ashley Schroeder of Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and the awesome Angie Olson of Lucky Little Learners for their first ever #2getherwearebetter link up! I am inspired everyday by so many amazing teachers so this new link up is perfect for sharing ideas, asking questions, and finding inspiration!

Every school has different dynamics, different daily requirements, and different curriculums, but above all... you have to make the most of every day! I was originally planning on telling you all about my day, but it was just too much! I hope you don't mind just learning about arrival....

When I first started teaching, arrival time gave me anxiety....serious anxiety. The bell would ring at 9:00, and I was met with chaos and frustration before the morning announcements even began. Some of my learners eat breakfast in the classroom so we need a little transition time before everyone is ready to get started. Here's how I got the chaos controlled and made the most of our mornings... 

All of my students have a super simple keep/return folder. They take out anything that comes back in the return side and put it into our "paper pelican." I got ths guy from IKEA a few years ago, and he's perfect. Just open his mouth and drop things inside. No one should hand me lunch money, homework, excuses--everythng goes in the pelican! After everyone is settled, I just grab everything at one time. (Sorry, this is not the best picture.)

To help my learners remember to bring their folder and get it out, I occasionally do random folder checks. After everyone is unpacked, I walk around and see who got their folder out and checked it for papers. If they followed all of the steps, they get a reward coupon. I do this a lot at the beginning of the year to help them build that routine.

Another great way I have calmed the crazy is by eliminating a morning job. I know some people love morning jobs, but it just never worked for me. If it was too hard, I kept getting interrupted to help or reread directions. If they worked with a partner, it got too noisy. If it was too easy, I felt like I was wasting paper (and we are always trying to save paper at my school!) 

As an alternative, we have a DONE tray and a NOT DONE tray. I got this idea from the sensational Diane Romo of One Giggle at a Time. After we work on a job during the school day for an appropriate amount of time, my learners "Kiss a finger, touch your name, and put it in a tray." Work that is complete gets put in the done tray and checked. Work that is incomplete gets put in the not done tray and passed out in the morning. Grab your FREE polka dot or chevron labels here

This works well for my learners and for me. They never feel rushed on a job, because they know they will get it back. I know their paper isn't going to disappear into the blackhole in their desk if it's unfinished. If someone builds up a lot of "not done" work, I simply staple their pages together and they work on it during recess. (This rarely happens, but it's good to have a plan!)

If my kiddos don't have any unfinished work, they are required to do something at their seats "to help them grow smarter." These are some activities that have been teacher and kid approved this year: reading (of course), writing sight words or spelling words, writing sentences about a self-selected topic, drawing number bonds, creating a math quiz and answer key (My class LOVES math!), writing and solving word problems, and practicing flashcards. Activities that were not teacher approved include talking, drawing, stacking erasers, or connecting markers to make a sword--nice try kids!

While my learners are busy getting their work done or helping their brains get smarter, I can take attendance, send down lunch money, check homework, and read any notes from families. On good mornings, I can sometimes squeeze in a running record or make-up test too. After 20 minutes, we throw away our breakfast trash, put our papers in the DONE or NOT DONE trays, and get ready for calendar. 

Calming the crazy of our morning routine makes the whole day go more smoothly. **There are a few exceptions to this. Never ever expect calm the morning before winter break, when you move furniture, or any morning when you've done something different to your hair!

I hope some of these ideas may help calm the crazy in your mornings. I would love to hear what you do in your classroom to start the day right!

Remember to link up to with Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners too, because Together We Are Better!

Happy teaching friends! 

Back to Top