Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Library Dragon {Back to School Mentor Texts}

I'm very excited to be taking part in a special edition of Collaboration Cuties' Mentor Text Linky. Today is all about Back to School books. Yay!! I'm loving all the ideas I've already gotten today and Amazon is going to love me this week...

Since I am a little late on joining the party a few of my favorite Back to School books have already been "taken" and I don't want to be repetitive, so I'm going to share one of the first books I read for Reader's Workshop - The Library Dragon. 

This adorable little book tells the story of an elementary school that gets a new librarian, Ms. Lotta Scales. She is a little overprotective with the books and the children are missing their story time. It is full of rich language, beautiful pictures, and close encounters with the dragon kind! 

School for us typically starts back on a Thursday and the first two days we aren't into a regular routine, but by the beginning of the first full week I am ready to launch the workshop and I usually read this book on Tuesday or Wednesday. By that time everyone is really excited to check out books and it is a great lead into library procedures and caring for our books. 

I like that it is a playful way for me to show just how serious I am about taking care of the books in our classroom library. Throughout the year if we discuss taking care of our books and the library I'll make a reference to being a library dragon. I've even had kids do the same! 

What are your favorite Back to School reads? Head on over to Collaboration Cuties and link up. 

Don't forget to enter the Show Us Some Bloglovin' giveaway! The contest ends at midnight and I'll be announcing the winner of the $10 TPT gift certificate in the morning! 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Organizing Tips for Back To School and Freebies {Optimum Organization}

I'm linking up for the amazing Optimum Organization linky hosted by Fun in Room 4B and Ladybug's Teacher Files

I know some of you just got out of school and others, like me, are looking at going back around the end of July or beginning of August. I've already been thinking about those first few crazy days back at school and working on a plan to make them run smoothly! So today I thought I'd share with you a few little tips on how I stay organized during the rush of getting everyone settled in to a new year. 

First of all I have a Back to School Binder. I created this free binder cover for you if you'd like to create one of your own - just click the picture to download it.
Inside the binder I put a master copy of all the forms, letters, and information I give students at the beginning of the year. I like to keep digital copies of these as well, but when I go into my classroom at the end of summer I like knowing that I have hard copies of everything I'll need for the first few days already at my fingertips. 

I also like to keep a copy of any worksheets I give students to do as morning work, information/survey sheets I have them complete, as well as directions and printables for the activities we do on the first few days of school. 

This next tip has saved me so much time and headache at the beginning of the year!! Inside this binder I also have a stack of file folders, maybe 8 or so. Each file folder is labeled with a form that our district requires parents/students to fill out at the beginning of the year. 

When I get my class list I type my students' names into a numbered list and paper clip that list to the front of the folder. I even made a list you can edit in Word and use in your classroom, just click on the picture to download the file. (Okay, it looks all wonky in Google Docs, but when I download it the columns are even. Will you let me know if you try downloading the file and have trouble with it?)

I try to have these folders set up before our Open House because I do have parents who like to fill out paper work that night. Anytime a parent or students brings in paperwork all I have to do is put it in the corresponding folder and mark the student's name off the list. 

I also use that paper clip in the front of the folder to hold any extras I may have of that particular form. This way if I glance over my list and see that a certain child is missing a form I have it right there and can send it home with no searching effort at all. 

This system is super handy during the crazy first few days of school when we are all bombarded with so much paper work! Even if I leave the paperwork sorting for an aid or volunteer we all know exactly who still needs to turn in forms. 

How do you organize for the beginning of the new school year? 

Don't forget to join in the fun of my Bloglovin' giveaway. You could win a $10 TPT gift certificate! Click here to enter! 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

We're Showin' You Some Bloglovin'

Happy Wednesday!! It's out with the old and in with the new! I'm joining up with some amazing bloggers to celebrate making the switch from Google Reader to Bloglovin'. What better way to embrace change than with some amazing giveaways?!?

Just because Google Reader is going away doesn't mean you have to miss out on reading your favorite blogs. Head on over to Bloglovin' and create an account. Right now when you create a Bloglovin' account it takes just a few clicks to transfer all of the blogs you're following from Google Reader over to Bloglovin'. 
I'll be giving away a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate!! All you need to do to enter the giveaway is follow my blog on Bloglovin'. 
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I hope you'll take some time to click through the other amazing blogs that have linked up for this event! 
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Monday, June 24, 2013

Hay Day VBS {Monday Made It}

I've feel like I've been MIA from the blogging world these past few days because I've been very busy preparing for VBS! Since I did make a lot of the decorations for VBS I thought I'd share some of those with you today, so this post will not be school related unless your classroom theme is farm/western! 

We spent 12 hours at church yesterday  - it was an amazing VBS marathon! We had regular Sunday School and service, then a quick lunch, decorating after that, and then at 6:30 VBS officially started! 

I love directing VBS so waking up yesterday morning was like Christmas morning for me! I couldn't wait to get to church and get started having fun and teaching the little ones about Christ. 

Here are a few pictures from our decorations. 

Sorry about the glare. I guess foam board and high gloss paint will do that to you! I am loving the foam board and will for sure be using it for bulletin boards in my classroom this year! 

All of the goodies in this display were from our barn. As were getting these things out of my husband's truck our nephew said, "Why are we cleaning out Uncle D's truck?" It was adorable because these are all legit truck items for us and he knows it!

This might be my favorite part of the decorations! Just cardboard boxes spray painted and then cut into strips. I wanted to do our whole big barn this way but I think that might've taken a little too much time! 

We are having a ball this week at VBS, but I already have plans to be back next week for Monday Made It with my first school made it of the summer. I bought a fresh ink cartridge over the weekend and I'll printing and laminating all weekend. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

File Folders, Teacher Info Binder, and How We Get Home {Optimum Organization}

It's Saturday so that means another great edition of Optimum Organization hosted by Fun in Room 4B and Ladybug's Teacher Files. I'm loving all the great ideas I'm picking up to organize my classroom for the new year! 

As I was packing my room I took a look around and really asked myself what little organizational tricks helped me the most this year. I took a few quick pictures and then kept stuffing putting things in my closets! 

First up are these fun file folders I sewed together last summer. The original pin this idea came from had a lot of folders together, but I chose to do a few sets of just two folders together and place them in different places around the room. 

Here is the set that was right by my desk. These were perfect keeping schedules, calendars, and other things I needed quick access to but didn't want cluttering up my desk or bulletin boards. For most of the year I used the second pocket to keep extra spelling lists. This was so handy because if a student was working on makeup work and didn't have a list I had immediate access. 

Here is the pin I got the idea from. 

I chose to put mine together using glue sticks and then sew them with some pretty thread. They have held up great all year!

I've been seeing a lot of posts for teacher binders, so I thought I'd share a Teacher Info Binder I keep. 

In my binder I have dividers for the following info: Contracts/Evaluations, SOL Scores, License Renewal, Professional Development, and College Classes. I've used this system for several years now and it has been great! 

If I go to a professional development and get a certificate I can just file it away in here. I also like to keep my contracts and evaluations all in one place in page protectors. This binder really comes in handy when its license renewal time! 

Since I've been wanting to pretty mine up, I created a little binder cover freebie for you to download. Just click on the picture below to get your copy! 

Graphics by Amand Hughes and font from Ideas by Jivey.

Last up is a Pinterest creation from last summer that was so handy! 

Again, this was right near my desk, so if there was ever a question at the end of the day I could take a quick peek. I also like that it is easily accessible for substitutes. I don't remember where those adorable signs came from, but if you know please leave a comment below so I can give some credit! 

What are you favorite organizational tricks? Head on over to link up! 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

3 Strikes and You're Out Classroom Management {An Apple a Day}

My first ever giveaway is over and I'm so excited to announce the winner!! Yay! Congrats to Anne!
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I'm back again to link up with The Applicious Teacher for her summer-long Apple a Day linky party. This week's topic is all about Classroom Management. 
This year my team implemented a 3 strikes and you're out system for classroom management. This idea came from our principal because we had a group that would not do homework. 
Students can get strikes for not turning in homework, being disrespectful, breaking classroom rules, etc. It takes a lot for me to give a strike, so most of my kiddos didn't deal with this, but it was effect for our crew that constantly didn't do homework. If a child got three strikes in one week he or she was given a discipline referral and sent to the office.
I don't give a strike for every little thing either. If I see a child do something minor that warrants correction but not a strike I may take a few minutes of recess or something similar. 

The strike system on its own worked wonders for a lot of kids, but we still had those who were getting 2 strikes each week and there weren't a lot of consequences. Thats when I stumbled upon Laura Candler's Fun Friday idea. You can read more about it here.

Here is a picture of my strike sheet before starting Fun Friday. 

And here is the after sheet. I think its a pretty big difference! 
 At the end of the week students without strikes get to participate in Fun Friday. We let kids who didn't get strikes play games, watch movies, or go outside during a 30 minutes period on Fridays.  Students who didn't go to Fun Friday stayed in for a Study Hall and completed missing assignments or read. 
The benefits of the program definitely outweighed the lost 30 minutes of instructional time (on a Friday afternoon instructional time is sometimes not all that effect anyway - at least for me!). 

What is your classroom management system? 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bloglovin' and Giveaway

If you follow my blog through Google Reader please take just a moment to click on the button below and follow me through Bloglovin'. We will be saying goodbye to Google Reader on July 1 and I want you to still be able to get updates on my blog posts!

Follow on Bloglovin

Thanks for following my blog! Change is hard, but I'm doing my best to get adjusted to the change before it officially happens. 

Also, I wanted to remind you that there are still a few hours left to enter my 100 Follower Giveaway. The entries end at midnight so I'll be posting a winner early (well whenever I get up) tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

4th Grade Read Aloud Recommendations

I'm linking up with Mr. Hughes at An Educator's Life to share a few of my favorite 4th grade read alouds. This round-up is a great way to find some new books for next school year. I also like that Mr. Hughes has broken it down by grade level! Go over to his site and check out some great books! 

My all time favorite read aloud is Raymond and Graham Rule the School. Yes, I have blogged about it before. I will continue to blog about it until everyone has read it!! It is really that good!! Now run and get a copy!

If you are looking for something to hook your reluctant readers this is the one. The book follows two fourth graders as they enter what they think will be the year they will rule the school. I love this for my 4th graders because they are the "top dogs" at our school and can identify with the boys' thought process on that. 

Bottom line, this book is laugh out loud funny! After reading it more than 4 times I still laugh 'til I cry when I get to the part about the prunes! It is full of 4th grade humor. You've got to read this just to get to watch the expressions on your students' faces - priceless!! If you'd like to get a more info on the book you can read this blog post. 

Next up is a book I like to read aloud just for fun. I try to read something from the Bailey School Kids series just because I have a huge collection of them in my library. Every year after reading one of these books aloud I have students who read almost the whole series. 

Really, did I even have to show you which book from the series I would pick? hehe The kids like the element of mystery in these books and they are a quick, easy read for me. I can pick it up anytime we have a few extra minutes during the beginning of the year. 

What are your favorite read alouds? 

Remember, there is still time to join my 100 Follower Giveaway. Click on the picture below to get signed up to win a $25 Amazon gift card! 

Monday, June 17, 2013

No Sew Classroom Pennant Banner {Monday Made It}

I'm so excited to be posting my first ever Monday Made It!!! I've been loving this linky so far and my to-do list keeps growing every Monday!

Last week I posted some pictures of my classroom decor and I had a lot of interest in the pennant banner over my windows. The banner I made for my classroom was NO SEW!! I wanted to share a little more about that today and also show you the lastest banner I've created!

Our Vacation Bible Schools starts next Sunday and the theme this year is Hay Day - I live on a farm so we were thrilled!! Back in the winter I came across a remnant of some cow fabric that I snatched up for $1.70!!! I knew it would make the perfect little banner for VBS.

Now, on to the good stuff - how I created this no sew banner for the classroom!

Here is what you need:

Fabric - 1/2 yard will yield 18-20 7" pennants

Wonder Under
Stitch Witchery

1. Iron the wonder under onto your fabric pieces.

2. Use the tutorial from this pin to cut out your pennants. (This is also the tutorial I use when I plan on sewing the banners together).

3. Take the pennants, ribbon, stitch witchery, and an iron to school. Use the ribbon to measure out how long you want your banner to be. Then use the stitch witchery and iron to "glue" your pennants to the ribbon.

I used command hooks to hold my banner in place. 

I got the idea for my classroom banner from this pin. This is also where I got the wonderful idea of backing my fabric to keep it looking nice and crisp and to prevent fading! 

Have you entered my 100 Follower giveaway? Click on the picture to head on over to get in on the fun! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

100 Followers Giveaway!!!

Its time to celebrate!! I've reached 100 followers on my blog and I want to show my appreciation! I'm giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to get you started on some summer reading or maybe some summer playing?!?

Giveaway will run from today until Thursday, June 20. Help me spread the word! 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Covered in Polka Dots Classroom Decor {An Apple a Day}

I'm very excited to be linking up with Leigh from The Applicious Teacher for her Apple a Day Summer linky. The topic changes each week during the summer and I'm really looking forward to reading what other bloggers out there have to say about these topics! I like to classroom stalk...shhh...that'll be our little secret!

Last week I had my students create a brochure for the upcoming 4th graders. Check out the 4th star down on this one. Yup - that sums it all up in my room! Just in case my blog name didn't give it away! 

Even though I wasn't blogging last year I was hooked on Pinterest, so I tried a lot of new decor ideas for my room and even took some pictures. 

Here is the view into my room from the door. I am fortunate to have a room with a window (but the view is a cemetery-yikes)! 

I love a horse shoe shape seating arrangement...especially in the beginning of the year. I have very easy access to all my students and I feel like we are all closer together for talks. 

This pennant banner was my biggest decor project of the year and I LOVE it! It turned out great and really brings a lot of color into my classroom. 

I kept the banner theme going on my desk. I used the green and white polka dot border for the two bulletin boards in my room. 

Birthday Board - I'd already posted about this one but at least you can see it on the wall here. 

All the Pinterest ideas I could cram into one area! LOL This year I will be doing lunchbox and tray ribbons again, but I'm going to revamp the calendar. The four papers bordered with polka dots are page protectors with daily homework sheets in them. We never really used them because I had to write too small for the kids to see them from their seats. 

Library and supply shelf. 

New wreath I made last year and the adorable "When You Enter This Classroom" that was floating around on Pinterest last year. This picture had me confused for a second - I used green border with dots this year - so this picture was taken on the first day I worked last summer before I switched out borders! 

The wreath deserves its own shot because this thing took forEVER!! Don't start this project unless you have a lot of time and an unlimited supply of ribbon! I love the finished product though!

Cute welcome sign over the door and the worst iphone picture in the world! 

That's what I did last year and here are a few things I'd like to do this year:

1. Use the foam insulation to create a few bulletin boards. 
2. Come up with a storage/display idea for anchor charts from 3 different ELA classes. 
3. Get a new rug. 
4. Repurpose the calendar bulletin board pictured above. My students don't use the calendar the way I had intended so I think I can do better with that space. 

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