July 29, 2013

Monday Made It {Block Letters}

Some of you may get jealous by this statement: I don't have to take anything in my room down at the end of the school year.  Hearing about how some of you have to completely pack up and then unpack again...I cannot imagine! So, my room has technically been set up all summer. I've gone up a few times to make a few *tweaks* here and there. I have 2 bookshelves in my small group meeting area.  One of them has been completely naked of d├ęcor the past 2 years, except for the occasional spec coat of dust..  Last week I linked up with Monday Made It {for the first time, gasp!} and was inspired by another post.  I knew that it would be a perfect addition to my bookshelf while inspiring my students to "read" at the same time! 
So I took a little trip to my favorite craft store, Hobby Lobby, and picked up the following:
*cardboard letters (r, e, a, d)
*4 pieces of scrapbook paper
*black spray paint
*Mod Podge & brushes (this I actually had at home)
*spray glue adhesive

Step 1: Without the hubby's help {proud wife moment}, I set up a place to spray paint the letters black.

And without his permission, I went ahead and did so. He takes great pride in his yard, so I was very careful not to get any of his blades black.
I let the letters dry overnight and finished my project the following day. 
Step 2: I traced the letters onto each piece of scrapbook paper.

Step 3: I cut the letters out.

Step 4: I used the spray glue adhesive to spray the cardboard letter and stick the letter which I cut from the scrapbook paper on top.

Step 5: With a brush, I swept Mod Podge over the scrapbook paper and it's edges.

Step 6: I allowed it to dry. Mod Podge should result in a shiny coat once dry.

Finished product!
I cannot wait to see what they look like sitting up top of my bookshelf. Hoping they will give the coat of dust the added flair it needs! 
What did you make this week? Link up with Monday Made It!


July 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday {Planning Template FREEBIE}!

It's sad to say another summer Thursday has come and gone but get excited because it's time to throw-it-back! I met with my team over the past 2 days to long-term plan and look at our first few weeks. So I thought I would share a post with you about planning with a freebie!
Original Post: September 2, 2012

What an exhausting first week, to say the least! Exhausting just might be an understatement...my blogging is proof. This year, we are starting several tons of new ideas and programs. We have a new phonics program, writing program, and I am starting the Daily 5 for the first time (eek!). We also are having to do our own lesson plans instead of writing them as a team <sigh> which means I am now writing plans weekly along with making my own class newsletter. Good thing I don't mind creating things!  This year I am realizing just how G.O.O.D I had it last year as a first year teacher. Loooong story short, adding all this into the first week of school was a doozie! This week should be nothing less than another tiring week as we implement all of our programs and dive into the curriculum.  The first week is always fun getting to know the kids, doing fun artsy activities, and getting them back into the swing of school.

Enough of me being 'Debbie Downer'...I wanted to share with you both the lesson plan and newsletter templates I created.  Last year, I typed up (in detail) what I was going to do daily.  I REALLY liked the format I used, but this year I am going to try to combine all of it into a 2 page easy to read document {I like a "big picture" view}.  I created a template I liked from  to fit my custom schedule. I have used it for the past 2 weeks now and absolutely ADORE it!!! It is so easy to read and super easy to edit week by week.

 Did I mention you can download it AND edit it for FREE!
{Click on the picture to preview/download the lesson plan template if you think it will work for you!}

On Monday of each week I send home a newsletter.  This is the main way I communicate with all my parents at once to let them know what is going on in the classroom and inform them of any upcoming events.  I find that they are more apt to look at/read it if it is sent home rather than sent through email. On it I include the skills we are working on that week, our spelling and sight words, monthly birthdays, regularly scheduled activities, our specials rotation schedule, and important event reminders. Here's a peek at the one I sent home in this week's daily folder.

Praise the Lord we had a 3 day weekend after the first week...I don't know about you but I have taken a nap just about every day this weekend. Here's to a great 4 day week back with the kiddos on Tuesday AND a better attempt at blogging this week : )

Don't forget to head over to The First Grade Parade to check out more throwbacks from the past!

July 22, 2013

Time for a Brain Break!

Have you ever been in the middle of a well thought out lesson that is going just as perfect as you imagined it and as you glance out 10 minutes into it you get the "I'm totally NOT paying attention to you" glazed over look? Isn't that the most awful thing to see? Especially when you are just moving and grooving right along!

Sometimes we just want to keep going, but is that really the best thing for our students? We all know the answer is no. So what is a teacher to do in those moments where he/she needs to get his/her students back in the moment?

A brain break of course!

I found a set of brain breaks by Third Grade Thoughts. They look like the perfect way to stop and get that oxygen flowing back to the brain. They are super easy to make.
All you need are:
1. brain break printables (found here)
2. popsicle sticks
3. hot glue gun 

Of course I started off by printing the individual brain breaks out, cutting, laminating, and cutting again. Once that process was finished, I glued each break to the tip of a popsicle stick. 64 sticks later....

Brain breaks have many other uses as well.  Here are a list of ways you can use them in the classroom:
  • Before, during and after instruction time and work time
  • Before, during and after an assessment
  • Transitions
  • After recess to calm down
  • In the morning to energize
  • Group team-building
  • Refocusing for a student or group of students
  • A chance to include humor and fun stuff any time of day with no additional materials! Yay for quick, easy and fun!!
I'm linking up with Made it Monday! Head on over to check out other creations for the classroom!

July 21, 2013

A Whole Bunch of Random!

It's time for a post full of totally random things and that's why I'm linking up with Sunday Smorgasbord!
 This week I actually got to go and work in my classroom! This may or may not be a shocker, but sometimes during the summer I get down right bored being at home. There are times when I long to be back in my second home to work. Who ever thought that would be coming out of a teacher's mouth!? 
First thing I worked on was redecorating! I found these cutie patootie chairs at Target, added a rug from TjMaxx, and have a cozy new reading nook for read to self and read to someone!
I also worked on the dreaded task of cleaning out my files. PTL!! I.am.done.  I've only been teaching 2 years and felt the need to purge...uhhh what's wrong with that picture? Can we say hoarders??
I'm also part of a giveaway from Polka Dot Firsties!
Head on over to her blog by clicking the picture below to enter her birthday celebration and blogging anniversary giveaway for a chance to win some great prizes!!
Off to finish making some new crafts for my classroom. Does a teacher ever rest?? Head on over to Fabulous in First for some more great smorgasbord fun!

July 19, 2013

Student Jobs in the Classroom

 Over the past 2 years I feel I have done something terribly wrong in my classroom and am JUST now realizing it!! Tell me I'm not the only one who has ever had a "duh" moment?
Our school has adopted the Conscious Discipline model for behavior and one of the things the book suggests is for every student to have a job or a role in the classroom to help create unity and a family environment.
Before going to this training, I had 2 jobs in my classroom: leader and door holder. Both would change daily. The leader would lead calendar and if they were responsible, I would have them run any errands that popped up during the day. I know you just 'gasped' and I did too! It obviously wasn't a very fair or consistent role. So I finally came to my senses and created a job for each student!
Here is how I have the jobs displayed. Each student will be assigned a magic number the first few weeks of school.  They will be able to find their magic number and look at the job card behind it. That will be there job for the entire week. After the week is over, I will move each card to the next number making sure to keep the cards in order.
I have made 2 different sets of job cards. My classroom is decorated with safari prints, hence the safari style but if I had all the money in the world and redecorated it, I would use chevron print. You can see them both below.

Included are the following jobs:
water patrol (2), caboose, message carrier, table monitor 1-4, weather reporter, techi, materials manager, calendar cadet, line leader, trash collector, snack assistant, well wisher, door holder, light monitor, germinator, security guard, pencil monitor, lunch counter, brain break.
Starting with the first week of school, I plan to introduce 1-2 jobs daily. Once all jobs are introduced, the students will begin having weekly job responsibilities. If a student is absent, the teacher will assume the role.
If you are interested you can pick up both sets in my TpT shop!


July 18, 2013

Rulin' the School

Is there anyone out there counting down the days until you go back to work? Ok....I'm not either! But as a teacher, that doesn't mean that my mind isn't constantly thinking of what I need to do.  I mean, I'm already having trouble sleeping at night! Is this normal this early??
To try and put my mind at ease (and mark some things off my to-do list) I decided to get to creating. We all know that in order to have peace in your classrooms you have to implement rules starting day 1.
One thing I LOVE about teaching 1st grade is how fun you can make introducing things...even when they are as boring as class rules!
In my new packet "Becoming Peacemakers" students are involved in creating the classroom rules.

This introductory unit on classroom rules includes 2 crafts, a collaborative class book, printables, lesson ideas, and explicit instructions on how to implement it the first few days of the new school year.

It will be on sale in my TpT store through this weekend if you would like to check it out!


July 16, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY...to my students!

It's not my birthday. I really don't even look forward to my birthday anymore. No big parties. No lavish cakes (ok, maybe this part isn't true). I'm halfway past my way to 50 people! But, there are about 20+ littles that are going to become mine in about 1 month {BIG sigh} who are going to be totally *stoked* when their birthday's roll around!
So what is a teacher to do but make birthday presents!?

For my student's birthday, I put together a "birthday treat bag" that I have waiting for them on their desk the morning of their birthday. Here's what's inside:

 1. leopard print Ziploc baggies (Hobby Lobby find)
2. homework passes
3. birthday bookmark
4. pencils (dollar spot)
5. girls and boys tattoos
6. candy
First, I stuff the baggies with one of each of the items listed above.

 Then, I print out a label that says "Happy Birthday! Love, Mrs. Griffith".  Stick it to the outside of the baggie.

And viola...finished!
Get this; the total cost all together was less than $20. That comes out to roughly 75-80 cents per child! Total score!

24 birthday baggies all ready to go so I can celebrate and rival in the moment with each and every one of my kiddos!
One more thing checked off the list before school starts back up again!


July 14, 2013

Get Organized! {storing centers}

One of the keys to being a functional teacher (who has her head on straight) is being organized. If you are like me, everything has to have its place. There is nothing I despise more than "thinking" I placed something somewhere and going to that place to look for it and it NOT being there! Ahhh! Total bummer when this happens...it pretty much puts me into a complete panic!
For the last 2 years I have stored my centers in a binder where I put examples and printouts in plastic page protectors. My collection grew to 2 bulging 3" binders. I had had enough!
I came across some very cute monthly labels on Instagram and just knew I had found my new way to store centers!
Each month gets its own tub. I found these tubs at Target on sale for just over $3 a piece. Great steal!!

Inside I store ALL centers for that month, literacy and math. Right now, everything is just sorted into the tubs, but my plan is to take large manila envelopes and store the printables inside of them with the cover page of the center packet on the front.

Check out these Monthly Tub Labels by That's So Second Grade!
How do you store your centers?


July 12, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

I sadly missed out on all the fun last week when I was out of town. So I am definitely linking up with The First Grade Parade for Cara's fabulous party! The only rule is to pin like crazy during the week and post your favorite pins for all to see! Check out my fab finds from this week:

*Note: Some of the pins had broken links and therefore are not linked back to their original site.*

Favorite Teaching Pins

I love having a word wall in my classroom. I refer to it daily...but a portable word wall that the kids can use...GET OUT! I'm definitely investigating this idea from Miss Nelson!
 I'm not looking forward to my little friends and their forgetful minds. Here is my plan from What the Teacher Wants to help them out!

I love when another teacher, like Krazy Kindergarten Teacher, comes up with a simple AND cute way to arrange a center area in the classroom. Take a look at how creative this listening center is!
Favorite Outfit Pins
I'm all about comfort in the summer because in Texas, the heat is like none other.  One of the most comfy things to wear is a romper {I mean, the name is even cute!} and who could go wrong with neons!? Sadly, the link was a broken one.
 These pants scream comfort too! So darn cute. Wishing I had longer legs so I could pull these bad boys from Bocaleche off!
Favorite Foodie Pins
Do it Darling has a great recipe for homemade blueberry biscuits.  I have been on the hunt for these for awhile now. Grands use to make them in a can but I haven't found them in forever! These will do!
I'm a sucker for sweets y'all! And this twist from The Recipe Critic on my favorite cookies+hot chocolate will be awesome when fall rolls around!
Favorite Home Pins
Were you ever scared of the spring on a trampoline when you were a kid? I know I was. What a genius solution!!
Favorite Funny Pins
Come on, I can't be the only one who gets grouchy when a girl is hungry! I need my food! Designinspirations has me to a "T".
Don't we all!?!?

Head on over to Cara's party to see what other great pins were out there this week!