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Oriental Trading Wishlist For Teachers

I am so excited that I have gotten the opportunity to partner up with Oriental Trading to show you some of their wonderfulness that I have found! 

I always put birthday gifts last as something I get ready for my kids for school. It's sad. It's pathetic. For some reason, it's always on the back burner and when an August birthday pops up the week after school starts, I'm scrounging around to find things. 

If you've been following my blog for awhile, then you know my classroom theme every year is a sweets/candy/cupcake theme. If you walk in my room, you'll see sweets and candy everywhere and I call my kids "the sweets". So, when I saw these rubber duckies, I went crazy for them! Seriously, how cute are they? And I know my kids will absolutely adore them. 

What I love also is there are many different themes of rubber duckies, so there might just be one that matches your theme too ;) There's superheroes, unicorns, actual happy birthday duckies, etc. Seriously, SO MANY.

If you decide that rubber duckies are the perfect birthday gift for your students, you can grab these free printable tags here. Or you can click on the picture below. You can print them on pretty, bright paper or you can print them in color. Both options are available. 

While we are here, I also want to show you these awesome center time seat markers. As you can see, I use them as my carpet area for whole group. My kids know to sit on the spot and to not move spot to spot. 

I also want to let you know that Oriental Trading has a new feature where you can create a classroom wishlist! You can share your wishlist with parents and families too. If you want to check out my wishlist, click here. Stay tuned for future blog posts because there are a few other goodies I want to show you from Oriental Trading that I haven't had an opportunity to use yet, but once I do, I will share them with you!

*I was provided these products from Oriental Trading for review purposes, but all opinions expressed are mine.

Our First Week of School

Well, I did it. Or should I say we did it?! We (my class and I) survived the first full week of school, plus the two days the week before. I am happy to say that this is the best first week I have ever had. It was full of the 3 L's: Love, Laughter, and Learning! 

I am happy to share with you all some of the things that we did too!

First, this is actually from before the first week of school. I recorded myself reading The Night Before First Grade and then provided a QR code for students to hear me read it on the night before our first day of school. I stapled it to the gallon baggie that I put all their papers in from Back To School Night. I will try to do a blog post on how to do this soon. 

We read The Crayon Box That Talked to discuss being proactive (habit 1 if you're a leader in me school) and how we all have to work together as a team. Then, we made these cute crayons. I demonstrated with mine first at how it doesn't have to be on solid color and that we could each make our own unique crayons because we are all unique. I am not sure where the crayon template came from, so if it's yours from a blog or something, please let me know so I can provide a link :)

 We read Chrysanthemum to discuss how to treat people and why kindness matters. We did the crumpled heart activity that I'm sure you have seen on many other blogs and through pinterest. I'll explain it though just in case you haven't :) I cut out this giant red heart out of butcher paper. It was all nice and pretty. I sat in front of the class and read Chrysanthemum. I passed the heart to the student sitting in front of me. With each mean and rude thing that was said in the story that hurt Chrysanthemum's feelings, they crumpled the heart and then passed it to the friend sitting next to them. However, if something was nice that was said, the student got to smooth out the heart. This is what our heart looked like! I wrote out the little part in the middle. The reason the white heart is crooked is because I let a first grade friend glue it on (because after all, it's our heart and our classroom, not just mine). 

We also did this fun (free) name activity from Brenda Tejada. The kids loved it and it was great review for vowels, consonants, and ten frames. Plus, they loved writing their names all fancy at the bottom. 

Then, we made these fun bracelets that are a freebie from Keepin' It Kool In Kinderland. Here's my sweet friend's sweet little boy modeling the bracelet :)

We also read one of my all time favorites, Officer Buckle and Gloria. The kids get a kick out of it and so do I, especially considering just a couple weeks before, I can't say I was always the safest when hanging up things in my classroom. Afterwards, we watched Kid President's Pep Talk for Teachers and Students. Then, it was time to discuss our Codes of Conduct. 

Codes of Conduct are like rules that we create together. Last year, I had three codes of conduct (Be Respectful, Be Kind, & Have Fun). This year, we have one. Anytime that a student is yelling out, I can point to the Code of Conduct and ask, "Are you making our day sweet?" Or, if a student is helping out a friend when he dropped his books, I can point to the Code of Conduct and tell our friends, "Look at so-and-so doing her part to make our day sweet!" Easy peasy lemon squeezy. I like Codes of Conduct more than setting "rules", although my kids understand that this is a rule and it covers all parts of the classroom. I also put it right by our clip chart as a good reminder. 

To decide on the Code of Conduct, I asked the kids what Kid President's message was for us. They replied that it was to "make everyday awesome." I asked how we could make that unique to our classroom (since we are the "sweets") and they came up with this :)

After I wrote our Code of Conduct on this huge piece of butcher paper, I laid it on the tile in our classroom and let the firsties go to town on decorating. Most of them drew "sweet" things to match our classroom and our Code of Conduct. 

We also learned a lot about how to take care of books, how to book shop, what to do with damaged books, etc. Then, we got to book shop! Eek! Best thing ever!! We sat in the library to talk about all these things. They were so excited! 

I mean, seriously... look how pretty. You can find these labels in my store here.

We also started Read To Self this week. We have a block of time after lunch for this, which is perfect. I've never had this time before right after lunch and I can't get over how perfect it works. We come back from lunch, read a chapter of Junie B. Jones, and then get right into Read to Self. I introduced it on Tuesday and as you can see from the picture below, we didn't make it very far... 32 seconds. On Friday, we made it 9 minutes 14 seconds. I was amazed. Our goal is 20 minutes, although when centers start up, I'm not sure if we will actually be able to have Read To Self for 20 whole minutes, but building our stamina up to that is a good goal. I told the class that I don't expect us to meet that goal for awhile, since we are still learning to read and learning to have self control. I was very impressed with 9 minutes though by the fourth day. Wow!

Here's a view of our entire data wall, where we are tracking our Read To Self stamina. There will be other goals that we track that will take up the top part of the board at a later time. To read more about Celebration Central, you can read my blog post here

We also did some of these printables from my First Week of First Grade No Prep Printables. I loved being able to use these as a quick assessment to see what my firsties remembered from kindergarten. This also let me see more of how they write their name, who rushes through their work, who attempts to read directions, etc. 

One of my favorite activities was this recess sorting activity we did which was part of the The Recess Queen activities from Michelle Hudgeons. I actually told my class that these were real life scenarios that happened last year with my class (and yes, they believed me). We did this activity right before recess. I wish I could say on purpose, but I just got lucky that we had just enough time to read the book and do the activity right before. Don't you love when that happens?

That's it! I hope it gave you some ideas for your first week of school (if you haven't had it yet) or maybe some ideas for next year even! 

Celebrating Student Success

One important factor of student success is setting goals. I know many teachers, if not all teachers, set goals with their students. There are many different goals that you can set- individual goals, classroom goals, grade level goals, school-wide goals, etc. As teachers, we know that setting goals is important for student success.

There are many different important steps in the goal setting process:
1. Find the need. Students ask themselves, "What do I want to work on?"
2. Set the goal by defining the time frame and the goal. Students ask themselves, "What is a reasonable time frame to meet my goal?"
3. Determine how to meet the goal. Students ask themselves, "What can I do every day to make sure I meet my goal?"
4. Track the goal. Students ask themselves, "How can I track myself while working towards my goal? What will hold me accountable?"
5. Meet the goal. Students say, "Yay! I met my goal!!"
6. Celebrate the goal. Students shout "Hurray!" because they meet their goals.

Do you ever forget a step? I do. I am embarrassed to admit that I always sometimes forget to celebrate. Forgetting this step is unfortunate because it's probably the most important step in the entire process.  We all know that students need praise. Think about it. Your child finishes all the vegetables on his/her plate, praise. A student gets a 100% on a spelling test, praise.

They are just like us. If I finish my vegetables on my plate, I need praise too. And a cookie. :)

Did you know that a "crucial benefit of celebration is its ability to overcome failure" (source)? So, even when our students are taking longer to meet their goals, acknowledging everything they are doing to get there is just as important as meeting the goal at the finish line. And as teachers, that's part of our job... To encourage and celebrate them along the way. You may have one student who set a goal to jump two reading levels by the end of the quarter. Maybe that student isn't going to jump two, but acknowledging everything he/she has done along the way is important. Maybe they've been reading 30 minutes a night compared to the 10 minutes they were doing before. That's success right there.

How to celebrate then? Well, in comes Celebration Central!

I am really looking forward to introducing my kids to Celebration Central this year. This is how it will work. Every Wednesday, we will have our class meeting. During our class meeting, we will discuss our goals, what we've been doing to meet those goals, etc. If anyone has met a goal, he/she will get to pick from the Celebration Central can. Inside the can are various coupons (such as "sit by a friend", "show and tell", etc.). The student can then turn that coupon in on a Friday.

Another way to celebrate my students' meeting their goals is through brag tags. Now, I don't use brag tags in my classroom. Praise all of you that do because I think it's a wonderful reward system! However, these brag tags are just for meeting goals. Once a student meets a goal, they get the corresponding brag tag and then he/she glues it onto the data binder sheet in their data binder. That way, students can showcase their goal brag tags in their data binder. Parents will be so happy to see these, I think!

Students can also wear "I Met My Goal!" badges. Or, when we set goals and have been working on conversing with others about them, students can wear the "Ask Me About My Goal!" badges!

I am so excited to implement these simple and easy ways to celebrate individual student successes in the classroom. There are a few other things up my sleeve that I will share with you as the year goes on. Click on any of the pictures above to take you to Celebration Central to check it out yourself :)

5 Little Things To Get Ready For Back To School

Hi everyone! I can't believe it's July already. Summer is flyin' by and now I'm starting to think of little things I can do so that I'm not rushing around at back to school time when I have a classroom to get ready, lesson plans to plan, and 20 new first grade faces to meet. Teachers report back August 15th for me, but you know I'll be in before then to get everything ready. Eek!

1. Make some sweet bookmarks for your kids!

You can find these bookmarks free here. These come in grades k-6. I already prepped mine by printing them on bright colored paper and cut them. I am ready to pass them out at the end of the first day of school. I did this last year and the kids went crazy for them. They love bookmarks!

2. Prep your back to school night treats.

Another quick and easy thing you can do is prepare your back to school night gifts. In the past, I've given different things like cookies, goldfish, etc. with a cute little treat tag. This year, I went a more healthy route and created these little pineapple tags and attached them with washi tape to a pineapple cup and a fork! 

3. Organize your classroom library.
 I've already talked about how I organize my classroom library here. I seem to organize my library every summer, but that's because I always seem to buy new books throughout the school year (insert hair-flip emoji here). Or, like in the case for this upcoming school year, my school has decided to go a different way with leveling so I need to make my classroom match that. Education is a neverending change, isn't it? ;)

4. Prep your back to school brochures.

I can't wait to use these name contact cards from my friend Katie at Simply Creative Teaching. I plan to leave these on student desks along with a brochure (see below).

One staple in my classroom is these back to school brochures, also from Simply Creative Teaching. Prepping these and the contact cards is such a good summer activity. I will wait until right before back to school night to print the brochures, just in case something changes, but for the most part they will be ready.

5. Print, cut, laminate. Repeat. :)

Now is the time to get all of that printing, cutting, and laminating done. Think about the different things you want to try this school year that maybe you thought about last year, but simply ran out of time because of the back to school craziness. It could be math vocabulary cards (that was me last year). It could be a really cute banner you wanted for your writing bulletin board. Shoot, it even could be Christmas math centers!

I hope you've enjoyed my simple tips. They're small, but they'll help when you're in that back to school crunch!

End Of Year Activity: Interviews For Kids!

Hi there! Don't hate me, but I have 12 days of school left. Well, 12 days with kids, 13 if you count the last day where the kids are already finished, but I'll be in my room packing my classroom away. I'm excited to blog about my favorite end of year activity. 

A few years ago, I noticed that I had some first graders who were very nervous about leaving first grade and entering second grade. I asked them what I could do to help calm their nerves. Then, all of a sudden, I had a million questions firing at me...

Do we get a bathroom break in 2nd grade? Will we go on a field trip? Will our teacher give us snack time? Will we have recess? What kind of stuff do we learn in math? Is reading hard? 

And then I realized, well... I don't really know the answers to these exactly. I mean, I could guess, but I didn't think it would really mean much from me anyway. So, that's how End Of The Year Interviews were born!

Every year, I sit my kids down and ask what their feelings are about next year. There's always a mixture of excited, nervous, scared, happy, etc. Then, we talk about those feelings and why it's okay to have so many different emotions about it. After all, I'm having the exact same emotions as well. I'm sad to see this class leave after we've spent 9 months together. I'm happy for summer. I'm excited to see what next school year brings. But, I'm nervous of course too. Explaining that I have the same feelings as them really helps too. 

Then, we talk about how we are going to interview the 2nd graders! There's a whole bunch of prep that goes into it though. 

We send the 2nd graders a letter to let them know we would like to interview them, along with a letter explaining how to prepare.

We prepare ourselves with a reader's theater to practice and by creating bubble maps, questions, and  interviewing each other. 

Then, when we feel confident and ready, it's time for us to interview!

I love seeing how grown up they become in these interviews. They take it very seriously, with their strong handshakes and precious smiles. 

Then, we write about our experience and what we've learned!

I have these interviews available for kindergarten, first, second, and third grade! They've all been updated this week too :) You can find them by clicking the picture below!

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My Favorite IG Snapshots {March}

Hi everyone!

Believe it or not, I'm here! March was crazy busy! Paul & I got married, honeymooned in Punta Cana, AND closed on our house (and moved on the 2nd of April). It's been Crazy Town here the past month, but I have never been happier in this mass chaos. It's been nothing but smiles and cheers over this way.

Because I love Instagram so much, I've decided to start blogging about my favorite IG posts from each month. I like to think I would normally post this at the end of the actual month, but as you can see... It's been a tad of Crazy Town here :)

Here's my top 10 of March:

10. Spring finally made it's way to us! Hurrah! Here's a picture of my resource,Tacking Topic Sentences: Spring Edition, in action. I love everything spring!

9. Here's the story behind this picture: I told my class when they hit pink or above on our clip chart ten times, they would get in the Clip Chart Hall of Fame and get a GLITTER CLIP. At the time (in January, when we started up the clip chart), I wasn't thinking of when a student would actually do this... I was just thinking I needed a motivator beyond getting on pink... So, did I have a clip chart hall of fame made?! No of course not. So, when it happened... Did I have glitter clips made?! No, of course not. So, this is what it looks like when you let your student made his own glitter clip.......... #teacherfail

8.We started learning about main idea in March. My kids went CRAZY for my friend Katie's (Simply Creative TeachingMain Idea Mysteries. Here they are digging through their main idea envelopes to discover the main idea. 

7. Our main idea unit happened to fall over St. Patrick's Day. Therefore, we practiced discovering the main idea with these free St. Patrick's Day Main Idea Passages.

6. I absolutely adore this picture that one of my firsties made to display at our wedding. I had all my kids made pictures for the wedding so that they could be apart of our special day as well. 

5. I discovered some Easter eggs in my tub full of spring stuff. I used washi tape and created some compound words for my first graders to put together with the eggs. I loved using washi tape because I can just peel it off without ruining the egg!
 4. Of course, I have to share some wedding photos! Our coordinator snapped this photo as we were walking back down the aisle. I love Paul's #lowfive here. The photo is a little blurry because I saved it from my phone. (Courtesy of Jillian at Berg Event Space)

 3. Sorry, but here's another one (#sorrynotsorry). Our photographer snapped this one. Can you believe it was 40 degrees outside? Or maybe lower?! I honestly can't remember because I was having so much fun or maybe because my brain had frostbite. Either way, look how happy we are! (Photo courtesy of our AMAZING photographer Erica from Turner Creative)

2. When I returned from our honeymoon, spring break was officially over (womp womp womp). That meant it was time for our leadership role applications! Woohoo!! You can find this free template here.

1. Here's my last IG post of March. My kids absolutely adored this center with the Easter eggs. I grabbed this free template from my sweet friend Kelly at Sweet Sounds of Kindergarten. You can grab this template here.

That's it! Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed all my fun pictures as much as I did :) Stop back by at the end of April to see my faves from April!!

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