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Free Gift Tag!

Hi everyone! 

I posted this picture on Instagram last year and it recently has gotten a lot of attention from some different shares and such. I've gotten a lot of requests to upload the tag so here it is! 

I paired this tag with Reeses pumpkins for William's daycare teachers and will be doing the same this year too! Click the picture below to get the tag for free!

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Celebrating Apple Day!

It's September so that means all things fall! Apple Day is just around the corner! I like to celebrate Johnny Appleseed and teach my students about apples on our early out day that we get for Homecoming. It typically falls around Johnny Appleseed's birthday and since it's an early out, our schedule is completely messed up so it's the perfect day to have stations and eat applesauce. 

I wanted to share with you today some of my favorite apple-tastic activities, as well as some of my favorite books I use about apples and Johnny Appleseed.

You can see my last blog post about apple day here where there's a freebie too!

I love using this flipbook with my kids. Last year, I created stations around the room and the kids took their booklets around the room to complete each task. Students have an apple taste test, measure apples, make sink or float predictions, conduct a science experiment with different liquids, and graph the class favorite.

 Here's one of my students flipbooks when conducting float or sink experiments.

Here's our applesauce. I used to be that really awesome teacher who made it from scratch. And then I got really tired of my kids complaining about how gross it is because it was brown (from the apples). I decided peeling the apples and spending all that time the night before just wasn't worth it anymore! So, I buy jars of applesauce and put it in the crockpot with some cinnamon and call it a day... #sorrynotsorry

Here my kids are measuring their apples.

And filling out their investigations booklet.

And here's our experiment to see what happens to the apple when place in soda, milk, water, and red Kool-Aid. 
Red Kool-Aid apple! 

We also had a lot of fun making these Johnny Appleseed hats and book.

This is one of my favorite pages where the kids have to draw the setting. Fun way to tie in a comprehension skill too!

We have a great time celebrating apple day and Johnny Appleseed with these fun activities!

If you are interested in these activities, click the pictures below.

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School Shopping at Walmart

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Walmart.

The back to school season can bring so much excitement for us as teachers! I know that I get so excited to meet my new kids and their families, getting my room prepped and ready, and shopping for new supplies for my classroom. I mean, that new crayon smell... Everyone loves that, right?! However, I know that school supply shopping can be tedious and expensive for families, especially those with multiple in school! So how can we as teachers make the whole process easier and more affordable for our kids and their families?
Use Walmart’s School Supply List Feature:
I was so excited to find out that Walmart makes it so easy for both teachers and families! Did you know that you can upload your school supply list to Walmart? That makes it so convenient for the families entering our classrooms!
Why Is Walmart The Best Place To Shop For Supplies?
1. Did you know that parents can shop their kid's local teachers school supply list on or through the Walmart app? All the supplies that are on my grade level list are available through this tool.
2. Walmart has everything you need. I went multiple times within the past month, even during tax-free weekend when I expected to find empty shelves, and still found everything on our school supply list... including the primary journals that seem impossible to find.
 Look how stocked Walmart’s glue bin is!
3. Walmart has the lowest prices. I did some comparisons at Walmart compared to other places I also shop and found that I would save money at Walmart.
4. THERE’S AN APP. Who doesn’t love shopping with an app?! Even better, you can choose to pick up at the store, ship to store, or ship to your house. I personally think this is where families would really enjoy that convenience factor. It’s easy!
First, when you click SERVICES at the bottom, you can click School Supply Lists.

Then, find your school.

Find your list.

Lastly, find everything on your list! I love that you can click either or At Your Store to find the items. You can easily toggle back and forth.

Why Is Walmart So Great? 

William and I shopped for groceries and then made our way to the school supply section to shop for back to school supplies! We love how easy it is to get everything in one place!
For me, I already shop there for groceries, baby items, and the necessities, so why wouldn’t I shop for my school supplies there too?! I, along with many other people, am all about convenience... Especially with a toddler. So, being able to get all of my shopping done under one roof is a win in my book! That is why I love having our school supply list uploaded through Walmart. I know my parents valued the convenience of being able to browse online in the comfort of their own home. When parents came in to Back To School Night and said they couldn’t find the primary writing journals or folders with prongs, I directed them to the school supply list on Walmart and mentioned how I found everything on our list that way. They were very grateful (those journals are hard to find every year!).
These magical journals are difficult for parents to find every year! However, I can always find them at Walmart!
How Do I Make My List Last All Year?
This can be tricky. I do feel that my grade level teammates and I all do a pretty good job of making all our supplies last throughout the year. I think the key is to ask for as many glue sticks as your admin will allow you to ask for ;) I think of the smallest ways to make things last in big ways.
1. Keep all the glue caps. When a glue stick is gone, make sure to teach your kids to take the glue cap off and put it in a special place. Mine just put it in the glue stick drawer. That way, whenever a glue cap goes missing (you know it happens more than we would like to admit), you don’t have to panic that the glue stick will be wasted. You can just grab that replacement cap.
Once glue starts getting used, glue caps will also be found in here. Students know when they can’t find a glue cap to get one from this drawer.
2. We ask for two boxes of crayons. Students have one box of crayons until our winter break in December. Then, they dump all those old crayons in a bucket. They get their new box of crayons when we return from our break. However, there’s always lost crayons or broken crayons (even though broken crayons still color) and so students can get replacement crayons from the bucket. My current crayon bucket has crayons in there from over two years ago, so that means my school supply list from two years ago is still getting its use. ;)
Extra crayon boxes go inside a Sterlite container and won’t be pulled back out until December!
All the crayons kept from last year for this school year
I do the same thing with markers!
What Do I Love On Our School Supply List?
1.  The Mead Primary Writing Journal
The pages are perfect for first grade with primary writing lines and the picture at the top.
2.  Folders with Prongs
I use the blue one for a take home folder. I like having prongs because I attach sight word lists, readings logs, etc. in the middle (things that I don’t want shuffled back and forth between the keep at home and bring back to school pockets).

3. Sharpened Pencils
It’s the small things at back to school time and remember, I’m all about convenience right now. When pencils are already sharpened, it saves me so much time the day before school starts. I can just put the pencils in the pencil cup and call it good!
4. Colorful Post-Its
We ask for colorful post-its (not yellow) for reading. We use them so much! I give each kid a post-it pack to keep in their book bins throughout the year (yes, some of them will play the accordion with them... You have to teach proper ways to use post-its for sure!). We use them for all different reading strategies. For example, if I’m teaching a mini lesson on connections, I will give them a purpose during independent reading. I might say, “During independent reading, I want you to find a text to self-connection in one of your books. Write it on a post-it and stick it to the page where you had that connection. When we are done with independent reading, bring your book and post-it to the carpet to share with us.” We also use these post-its for graphing, voting, and more!
Walmart is stocked with colorful post-its!
And I am too! :)

What’s On My Personal Wish List?
Ask any teacher and I bet they have 50 million things they would love to have in their classroom. There’s a few things that I found at Walmart that would be perfect in mine.
1. Silly Scent Markers

These aren’t just on my wishlist; I bought them ;) I bought them for my art center for Fun Fridays. I think the kids will love being able to use special, smelly markers during our Fun Friday time. I also bought a pack for each member on my first grade team because what teacher doesn’t love smelly markers?
2. Crayon Storage Boxes
This display gives me all the heart eyes. I bought a couple to test out, but I think I need one for every kid in my class. We haven’t been in school long and we’ve already had ripped crayon boxes. Having crayons all nice and tidy in these storage containers is perfect. Plus, they’re $1.00!

I have so many of these crates; it’s unreal. Specifically, that icy blue color. Every time Walmart puts them out at back to school time, I snag one... Or two. Maybe three. I love using them to store things in my classroom. They’re also great for seating.
5. Even Toddlers Have Wish Lists
 William found some colored pencils he really wanted while we were shopping too ;)
I hope you’re as excited about back to school shopping at Walmart as I am! Make sure to check out the school supply list option and the app! Two lifesavers at back to school time! I hope you have a wonderful school year!

The First 5 Minutes Of Guided Math

Last year, I blogged about how I like to spend the first 5 minutes of guided reading in this post right here. I loved using this way to start guided reading and it really helped me get my groups going. I wasn't really in that weird limbo stage of what now when I began my groups.

But, you know where I was in that weird limbo stage? GUIDED MATH. Holy moly, talk about a place where I have literally no idea what I'm doing.

So, I realized I could start guided math the same way. It would help me get my bearings together, just like in guided reading. For some reason, the consistency of how I started these groups really made me feel better. 

With guided math, I knew Pop The Balloon would have to look a little different. I knew it would need to meet the standards of what I was teaching at the time- a lot like in reading, but more specific and skill set. For example, if we are working on shapes, I would pull out the Pop The Balloon: 2D & 3D Shapes cards. 

How do you play Pop The Balloon?
Each child in your guided group gets a card. I give each child a different card because 1. I don't want to make that many copies of the same card (that is a lot of paper and ink) and 2. I don't really want them to overhear the person next to them saying it out loud. Start at the bottom and read each bubble on the way to the top. My kids like to clap their hands and go, "POP!" when they reach the top of their card. If they got them all right, I give them another card. I usually have 5-6 kids in a guided group, so can I listen to them all at once? Obviously not. I listen to one kid, while the rest in the group practice and play at their own pace. 

I feel like adding Pop The Balloon to my guided math routine has really helped build skills, but has also built consistency in how I begin my groups. 

If you want to try out Pop The Balloon, you can try the b/d reversal set for free! Just click the picture below. 

If you are interested in Pop The Balloon for guided math, click the picture below.

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Inbox and Outbox Signs! Free!

Last school year, I posted this picture on Instagram at back to school time. 

This picture has been reposted a couple times this month and people have asked for the labels, so here they are! For free! Just click the picture above to get them!

I put these labels on my in and out buckets. Kids put their work in the in bucket and then after I grade it, it goes in the out bucket for the mail leader to put in mailboxes. Easy peasy! Cuts out the paperwork being everywhere and helps me stay organized! 

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Our Writing Center

Hi everyone! 

I am so excited to talk to you about our writing center today! 

During our reading rotations, I use something very similar to the Daily 5 rotations. I don't follow the Daily 5, but I really like the 5 different groupings and so I use them during guided reading. The five groupings are: Read To Self, Read To Someone, Listen To Reading, Word Work, and Work On Writing. 

I've struggled with the Work On Writing center for awhile. At first, my kids picked a prompt from my prompt jar that I made during my first year of teaching... Before I knew about TPT and I had actually typed out every prompt and then cut and glued each prompt on a piece of paper and then laminated that paper and then cut the prompts out. A lot of work went into those prompts. 

The prompts were great, but then I started thinking about how great it would be if this center reinforced the standards that I teach my kids throughout the year. Unfortunately, with such a big emphases on reading and math, writing gets pushed back a lot (which makes me sad because writing is my favorite). I still wanted them to have the chance to do creative writing, but also wanted to give them the option to practice what we are learning in class.

Our writing station has 8 different options. We practiced one option a day before diving into this center. 

The 8 different options are:
1. Writing Prompts:

2. Book Reviews

3. Lists

4. Eenie Meenie Miney Mo Opinion Writing

5. Picture This:

6. How To Stories

7. Informative Writing- KWL Charts & Research Writing

8. Story Starters

9. Notecards

I've been asked about organization... And let me tell you... It took a lot for me to figure out how to organize all these papers! So, here's some commonly asked questions and I hope my answers are helpful to you!

How do you organize the papers every month?

I bought this rainbow cart from Michaels. I made labels for each drawer. When I took this photo, I didn't have a label for notecards because I ruined it when putting them on there (insert face palm here). However, I have all the labels now ;) If you want these labels, you can get them here or you can click on the picture above.

Do you print all the papers for every week?

Nope. I pick one from each type of writing and print them and put them in the drawers.

How do your organize the materials after the month is over?

I bought these bins from Amazon (affiliate link) to store each month in. They're the perfect size to hold all the writing prompts, story starters, signs, and extra pages that weren't used.

If you're interested in the writing center, click the picture below! It includes writing centers for every month August-May!

That's how we use our writing center! If you have any questions, let me know and I would be happy to answer them!

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