so nothing on my to-do list is done...but....

Are you back to school already?! Not me! I haven't seen the inside of my classroom since the first week of June. Our school is closed to teachers during the summer so I have had lots of time to refresh and reflect! We just got back from our family vacation over the weekend, and now I am super antsy to start my school projects! 

I finally dug out my to-do list and to-buy list that I made the last week of school. If you know me, I'm not very good at keeping lists. (I should kiss my brain for not losing it all summer!) I started looking at my lists and the same thing happened to me that usually happens when I look at a list---I get a different bigger idea!

So I haven't done much on my list yet, but I have been working on some fabulous room decor projects #eeek! I finished up a new set of alphabet clipart, and I loved it so much I had to make my own alphabet goodies. (Keep in mind that the list did not include ANY alphabet projects- oops!)

I made alphabet posters and little alphabet cards with matching long vowels and digraphs. I hate when I get an adorable alphabet with no extra posters and then everything you need doesn't match! 

I even got the cards all laminated and ready for my word wall-- hooray for the kids taking long naps! Here's a good tip if you have extra chalkboard space-- put magnets on the back of your word wall headers and cards. The kiddos can walk up and remove a word if they need to see it or write it and you can adjust your headers as your wall of words grows throughout the year.

I just could not decide if I liked the black background or the gray polka dot background better so 20 pages of laminate later, I have 2 sets. That's a lot of letters!

My little helper enjoyed playing with the letter cards too! The size would be great for a flashcards, centers, pocket charts, or even your family's refrigerator! You can get any of these posters, cards, or clipart sets in my store--just click on the pictures.

Here's another project that was NOT on my to-do list--make new bulletin board letters! I went to an awesome teacher store at the beach #teacherlife I looked and looked for just the right letters, but I didn't find them. The good news is making your own letters is easy and perfect when you can't find exactly what you want. 

I used powerpoint to make my letters. I chose a chunky font (This is KG Second Chances Solid), outlined it with black, and filled it with white. I cut down some scrapbook paper to be 8.5 x 11 to fit into my printer. Then I printed just like I would on regular white paper. 

I cut out the centers of my letters once they printed. Then I just laminated them and trimmed around the edges. 

It really was simple, and it does not require a lot of ink like printing colored lettering. Feel free to pin this image so you don't forget the steps!

Throughout the week, I also worked on a couple other special projects. I will be sharing details about them soon...Next week, I get to set up my classroom so stop back to see updates and more pictures. (I don't know about you, but I could look at classroom pictures all day!)

Are you making anything new for the upcoming year or are you sticking to your to-do list?!


3 Tips for Busy First Grade Hands

Teaching firsties is the BEST! It's both exhilirating and exhausting! There is so much to do and so much to learn! There are also so many other amazing first grade teachers out there! I am thrilled to be linking up with the super sweet Jen from Sparkling in Second to share some First Grade Teacher Tips!

One thing you must know about first graders is that they have busy hands, like really, really, REALLY busy hands! Here are some smart ways to keep their hands busy and their minds focused! You can pin any of the tip images so you don't forget to try them!

Have you heard of fluency ears?! I LOVE them and so do firsties. They are perfect for guided reading or for reading as a whole class! Just place your hands over your ears like earmuffs and whisper read. The sound is amplified for you, but it does not distract anyone else. You can read at your own speed, and it gives your hands an important job too!

I always monitor my firsties as they read with their fluency ears. If you ever see me crawling around the carpet between kids and they have their hands over their ears- do not be alarmed, we're just doing fluency ears!

When you want kids to listen, ask them to use their hands! Here is my favorite attention getter, especially if it's really loud or we're really involved in something crazy! I start off loudly and then say each command in a smaller voice until I am whispering. You can add lots of other actions in the middle too (put your hands on your shoulders, put your hands on knees, etc) but I always start with clap once, clap twice...and end with ready hands.

If you want to grab these posters for your classroom, just click on either version to download for FREE! (Thanks to Creative Clips for the graphics-she's the best!)

If you really want your firsties learning, try keeping their hands busy. I love using manipulatives, but you know when kids see blocks, they want to build a tower. When they see dry erase boards, they want to spin them around and around (WHY?!) Here is a tip to keep their hands busy and keep you sane. Try doing "Busy Minutes!"

After you pass out a manipulative (even if you've used it like 29 times before), set a timer for 2-3 minutes. During that time, let your firsties build with the blocks, spin the spinners, make a train with the cubes, balance the rulers on their finger tips- whatever! When the timer goes off, those manipulatives are "TOOLS for learning-- NOT TOYS for playing!" In my experience, allowing them time to try everything out and explaining your expectation, eliminates the woes that come with using manipulatives. 

Thanks for stopping by friends, I hope these tips for busy first grade hands gave you some new ideas for your classroom. I am always looking for new things to try so I would love to hear what you do to encourage busy hands in your classroom!

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