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!

Looking for a deal at Oriental Trading? Visit their coupon page for the latest in sales.

*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 :)

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