Monday, July 30, 2012

New {school} Year Resolutions

I am HORRIBLE with New Year's Resolutions, honestly I haven't even bothered to make them since 2005... it was just depressing to realize that I cannot commit myself to a goal.

However when I saw this great linky party I thought maybe, just maybe I would give resolutions one last chance.... maybe I will surprise myself and really follow through.  I am an adult, I can do that!

So I am linking up with Amanda at Teaching Madness with my resolutions for the upcoming {school} year.

Resolution 1: Piles, piles, and more piles... no more!  My kinder team is AMAZING and between the 3 of us copies are made well in advance throughout the year... however this means I am holding onto things for a while before I need them and my filing cabinet is not large enough to hold a whole class set of everything that is copied (since a class set for my am and pm classes is at least 40!).  I am going to do better about sorting the copies and storing them in my paper bins on my back shelf... behind a curtain and not on my desk and guided reading table!  

Resolution 2: BALANCE!!!  I say this after I have spent an entire weekend on the computer making things for school, typing blog posts, and catching up on fellow bloggers...  I have an addiction!  But my 3 kidlets need time with me and once school starts that time has to quality, because it cannot be quantity... so I am going to save blogging and work for after 8pm... the hours from 4-8 are going to be just for my fam! 

Resolution 3: Simplify, as much as I love cute and adorable things, I have to let some things go... it is okay that my write the room pictures are from years ago and not the most adorable... my kids are getting practice at the skills they need and I can go home at a decent hour!  Simplify.

Resolution 4: Have Fun!  I sometimes forget to just enjoy my job, my kids, my husband, my church callings.... etc.  I get so busy I just go into overdrive mode, I get it done but I am not enjoying myself.  Today it is raining and I put down my projects and just had fun!  I need to do that a lot more... turning 30 has made me so serious~  

Those are my resolutions... let's see if I can follow through?!?  Thanks Amanda for making me set some goals... it is good for me!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Behavior Management

Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher was gutsy enough to post about her behavior management system, that is NOT a clip chart.  I too was thinking that I must be the only teacher out there NOT using a clip chart to manage my kidlets behavior, she inspired me to take the risk and share what my kindergarten team uses to manage those little sweeties we teach.

Our system (and I say our because my entire kinder team uses the same system) is very similar to Kristin's gold tags.

The Setup:
We use blue sticks and red sticks.  Now blue and red sticks are simply cut from blue and red cardstock.  They are placed in pocket charts, I purchased 2 of THESE (because I have 2 kinder classes)
Pacon 20360 Behavioral Pocket Chart
Now you do not need or use the cards, so use those for something else, flash cards, game cards, etc. 

 I also thought the header was a little retro so I made this to top my pocket charts:
Each of my classes has a different color, my AM class is yellow and my PM class is green.  I of course backed the labels on yellow/green to clearly differentiate the classes and laminated them to sit in the top pockets of my pocket charts.

Then I use labels to put each kiddos name on a pocket.  

Cut out a TON of BLUE cardstock sticks (skinny little rectangles)  and a few  RED cardstock sticks.  If this overwhelms you to do free hand I have made a template for you here.  Just copy onto red or blue paper and cut.

You are set and ready to GO!  

Now onto implementation:

Earning Blue Sticks:  When kiddos are following rules, listening, helping, etc. etc. etc. I pass out blue sticks!  At the beginning of the year, just before Christmas, after a long break, etc. I pass out TONS and TONS of blue sticks, anything to keep them motivated and remember expectations.  

When someone earns 5 blue sticks they trade them in for a prize from the prize box.  How do I keep up with prizes you ask??  I ask for donations.  Parents donate items from the dollar store, old kids meal toys, stickers, etc.  I ask people from my church to donate old small toys to my prize box, I raid my own kiddos toys and instead of donating them to Goodwill, they go in my prize box.  I rarely have to purchase prizes.  The kids are super excited for a silly little prize, they don't have to be amazing things.

My kids LOVE to earn blue sticks.  Once the blue sticks start coming out they pay attention!  As far as interrupting teaching time, if we are at the rug, or in small groups they just hold onto their little sticks until a transition time.  They cannot choose prizes during direct instruction, they have to wait until we are moving to our seats, etc. easy peasy!  

Want to make blue sticks even more effective?  Insert bell.  
If the class is getting a little noisy, or chaotic, (it happens... often) I ring the bell.  In years past the bell ringing was to remind the class of expectations and notifty them that they are NOT on task.  Now instead of reprimanding the offenders, "blah blah blah, quiet voices, blah blah blah, walking feet, blah blah blah, this is not recess..." I choose one lucky boy or girl to give a blue stick to.  They learn VERY quickly that when that bell rings someone is getting a blue stick, and they are silent... wishing and hoping that I am about to say their name... all attention is on me... I do love that.  

Now that blue sticks are understood, let's chat about red sticks.

I HATE HATE HATE taking away something a child has earned, hate.  So I just cannot in good conscience take away their hard earned blue sticks... CANNOT.  It breaks my heart.  However we all know that kids at times need to be reprimanded, they need a consequence, they {{gasp}} break the rules!  When this happens you HAVE to have something in place... solution: red sticks.

I use red sticks for those times when a consequence is needed.  I start with a verbal warning.  After a warning the next step is a red stick (and if needed a removal from the current activity, some might call it a time out).  This usually corrects misbehavior.  However I am a believer in second chances, repentance if you will, hahaha.  So if my offending kidlet is trying his darndest and I know he feels super sorry, he can EARN BACK that red stick!  Since my kidlets are only here for half a day (2 sessions of K remember) I rarely have a student earn more than one red stick in a day.  I have had years however when one 'special' little dear earns multiple red sticks in a day... every day!  In that case we set up a special system... 3 red sticks then a time out in the office, upon return you start over... you get the idea.

If a child earns a red stick and it is NOT earned back they go home with a red note.  This lets mom/dad know that we had an issue today.  Both student and parent have to sign the note and send it back the next day.  If they don't then the next day the kiddo has to call from school to tell mom/dad that they got a red stick yesterday, why, and that today will be a better day (this just ensures a little responsibility for behavior). I have the kiddo make the call and talk to mom/dad, if mom/dad want to talk with me after that is fine but I do tell them that I am in the middle of class and cannot explain specifics with other kidlets in the room, we can talk more in depth later if they would like.  Click HERE for a copy of my red stick note.

I keep track of red sticks in my log book: (click the image below to see the log book pages)

I have to say I have loved this system.  I am sure that it wouldn't work for some but thanks to Kristin I was gutsy enough to share an alternative to clip charts... thanks for reading.

On an unrelated note I am having some serious issues with my "follow me" section on my sidebar... well with EVRYONE's following sections.  They are not showing up for me AT ALL ANYWHERE!  This function has not worked for me since Friday, is anyone else having this problem???  I have tried everything I can think of to fix it.  If you have ideas/suggestions I would love to hear them!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why Thank You....

Thanks to Sarah at Mean Mommy Academy for making this adorable graphic!

I am not one for big speeches and lots of of oohs and ahhs but I would like to take this moment to thank the little people.  You know who you are, you inspire me to do what I do, to spend money that I shouldn't spend, and to stay up later than I should making and creating items that will help you learn.  I have dedicated my last 9 years to you and without you, my little people, I would not be blogging.  SO really this one's for you...

Haha!  Really I want to thank Mrs. B for this lovely blog award.  I was thrilled with the recognition.

In order to accept this lovely award, which I gladly will, here is what I must to do:

1.  Follow the person who gave me the award.  Check!
2.  Link back to the person that gave me the award.  Check!
3.  Pass the award on to new bloggers and let them know they have received the award. Check!

And so without further ado, the nominees are..... in no particular order...
Those are my nominees... did you see a theme?  With back to school I am kinda stalking my fellow kinder friends (and they are all amazing)!  Well I have LOTS to do on this lovely Saturday so I am logging off!  Have a marvelous day!  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Freebie Friday

Freebie Fridays

It is Freebie Friday and I am linking up!

Since I have been cooped up in my interactive whiteboard class for the past 2 days I am sharing a freebie I made for our common core academy class in June.  A sweet kinder teacher in my group was in need of a book to teach positional words, it HAD to be about a bear, since the rest of her lesson was based off of this great book (classic).
Bears in the Night

She wrote up a marvelous lesson HERE that is aligned with the new Common Core.  (I realize the spacing is COMPLETELY messed up, something about downloading it off the wikki site... to my computer... yikes, sorry!  But I think all the info is there).  Thanks to Jane for letting me share her lesson idea.

And here is my freebie to go along with it, just click on the picture below to download the document.

(This book was inspired by this great book from Can Do Kinders.)

So there is your freebie, next friday I plan on linking up with my Subtracting with Pirates Lesson from Common Core Academy, the hubsters and I had a LOT of fun making up the game to go along with the lesson!  Happy Friday!  Oh and don't forget my 50th follower giveaway... enter in the rafflecopter in yesterday's post!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Classroom Progress and a 50 Follower Giveaway!

Yesterday I headed over to my classroom to get a few more things finished... with the help of my five year old we got a lot done in an hour and a half.

 Look at how organized my cupboards are, moving all of my stuff (again) is really forcing me to decide what I need and what I can recycle... I recycled a ton!  Oh and do you see my cute new plastic bins over on the right there... I go them at the Target dollar spot, I am way excited to have a place to keep magnets, my projector remote and interactive whiteboard pen, and my markers and eraser!

I am getting my center chart ready for a new year, I had to re-make all of my titles for my back wall, the old ones were just too faded and didn't survive the move.  My new titles are all sitting in a giant pile to laminate, but I will post pictures when they are all done.

Room in progress, so much still to do but it is starting to look complete... I am excited for my new word wall, I have had to be super creative with a smaller space and putting it above my cabinet was my sweet daughter's idea, I LOVE it!

I have seen a lot of posts lately about birthdays.  I give each kidlet one of these cute bags and a birthday crown.  I make them all during the summer and then keep them in my cupboard to pull out when needed.

My final big project this week, I am getting my first day kits put together.  I actually give them to parents at their child's kindergarten testing appointment so that they have the kit for the first day.  That way they can log onto Barnes and Noble Storytime and listen to the story The Kissing Hand together.
Now that you are all caught up on what I have been up to.... the giveaway!  While I was sitting in class today I reached 50 followers!  I am so very excited and can hardly believe that in 3 weeks I have reached 50 followers, I have to say I have loved joining the blog world.  There are some amazing teachers out here in the blogosphere and I feel lucky to be a apart of it!  So without further ado, my very first giveaway!  I am going to give three lucky followers a copy of  My Picture Word Journal.  Just enter the rafflecopter below.  Remember to follow my blog and leave me a comment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer is nearing its end...

I start my advanced interactive whiteboard class tomorrow, I remember signing up for it in May.  I told myself, "Well that will be the end of my summer!", after my class I will have to get my room set up, copies made, books bound, assessment letters mailed off, meetings to attend, and then school starts... Eeek!  The list making has begun...

The kids start August 15th, it will be here much too quickly.  I love teaching I do, but I LOVE summer!  I love sleeping in (as much as my kiddos will allow) taking time in the morning to make a real breakfast, cuddling on the couch, reading teacher blogs, naptime!  I got the dreaded back to school letter yesterday from my principal...

 time to kick it into gear and get that room together.  With my move to a smaller classroom this year I am having to be super creative as to how to fit all of my favorite kindergarten items (like my puppet stage and sand table) into my teeny tiny space... "I think I can, I think I can!" (Little Man has been a bit obsessed with the Little Engine that Could lately, my apologies.)

One of the many things on my to do list is to copy and bind this:

{click HERE to go to my TpT store}

  As well as our Zero the Hero Books, one of my all time favorite TpT purchases, from Kathleen at Growing Kinders

 I even bought the extension pack, LOVE.  I linked the PDF pages into my interactive whiteboard calendar with a link right to the page that corresponds from our hundreds chart, we can look at the page together on the IWB before they go to their seats.  Switching from my traditional calendar to my IWB calendar was  a HARD change for me, but it saves me SO MUCH SPACE and I have to say being able to link music and PDF's is a nice option.

Well hubby will be home from work soon and so maybe I need to wake the kiddos up from naps and ummmm... shower, don't judge these days will soon come to a close and I will be up and showered before the dawn!

Happy list making!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Birthday Utah

We are taking the day off to celebrate!  It is 'Pioneer Day' here in Utah and every year we have a cute little celebration in our little town.  It kicks off with a sweet little parade, here are my kidlets in their red, white, and blue, and ends with good food and fun at the park!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tell Me More, Tell Me More!

I am linking up with Mrs. Lemons for a little get to know you party... I love learning a little more about my fellow bloggers out there.  So here are a few facts about me:

I come from a small family, just me, my parents, and my big brother.  I ALWAYS wanted a younger sibling, not to be... I am even the youngest in my hubby's family!  I used to pray at night for Heavenly Father to send me a little brother or sister (preferably a sister, if that was possible).  To this day I am super jealous of all of you with little sisters!

I met my hunky hubby while attending college at Southern Utah University, we worked together at a local hotel while going to school.  I had just gone through a nasty break-up and he was there to help me pick up the pieces, he quickly became my best friend.  I knew I wanted to marry him the day we were driving in my car (an adorable Honda Civic) on the freeway and we hit a deer!  I completely FREAKED, he was so calm.  He was the one driving and  steered through the accident like a pro, pulled over to survey the damage.  I am a blubbering, shaking, mess (mess is a HUGE understatement).  He walked over to me and held me in his big strong arms, he made sure I was okay and looked at the damage.  Reminded me it was just a car.... cars can be fixed, that we were both okay.  I knew I needed him in my life FOREVER!  Anyone that can deal with my drama like that was a KEEPER!

We were married in 2003, in the St. George Temple because we are Mormon.  It just happens to be the first operating temple of the church and is incredibly beautiful and full of some amazing history.  My hunky hubby happens to be from St. George so it meant a lot to him to be married here...

I graduated from SUU (Go T-Birds) and we moved to the hot sunny desert of St. George so I could begin my teaching career.

For some unknown reason I have NO-ZERO-ZILCH pictures from my first 2 years of teaching?!?!  I know, seriously!  But I did find ONE from my third year of teaching, Here I am teaching my class of firsties on their very first day, I am just days from giving birth to our first child (can you tell... hahaha).  BTW: Yep you heard that correct I left on maternity leave just days after school started!  I have never been so stressed! Leaving the training of my classroom procedures to my long term sub!  Lucky for me she was amazing!

Now that hubsters and I have been married almost ten years, TEN YEARS!  Our life is crazy busy with the addition of these 3:

Don't you just love the way my little man is glaring at his sisters and my poor baby girl is getting a little too much love from her bigger sister!  This pic is one of my favorites!

This little darling is starting Kindergarten this fall and I am beyond excited to have her with me all day!  She gets her GORGEOUS curls from her Daddy, I wish I had her curly locks and long lashes.  She is our little social butterfly, I don't think she has ever met a stranger.  She loves dresses, lip gloss, and The Hulk?!?  (I don't get it either).

And this little man just turned 4!  He thinks he is big stuff now that he is finally four and gets to go to pre-school!  (He has been watching big sister go to pre-school for two long years and is thrilled to finally go to school and get his very own backpack!)  He loves monster trucks, legos, and puzzles!

Finally, our sweet baby girl, who is not much of a baby these days!  She is my most loving kidlet, maybe I finally had my parenting figured out by the time she came along.  She loves babies, anything squishy, and snuggling!  She turned 2 last spring although she seems to think she is as big and as able as her older siblings, there is NO SLOWING her down, she is fearless!

That is me.  My sweet family.  My life.  Hope you learned a bit more about me, thanks for reading.  Now go Link up!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Newbie Bloggers

Summer is the time for blog hopping, making new things for our classrooms, and maybe even a little chatting... some get to know you time!  So, I am joining up with a great blog hop from Third Grade is the Place for Me, to get to know a few of my fellow bloggers a bit better.   Since I am a newbie to the teaching blog world here is a little more about me:

    1.  what state you are in
    2.  your current teaching position
    3.  your teaching experience
    4.  when you started blogging
    5.  share a blogging tip / blogging resource

1. I live in the beautiful desert of Southern Utah, just a couple hours from VEGAS!  (It is HOT, HOT, HOT here!  But incredibly beautiful, just a few minutes from Zion's National Park.)

2. I am a Kindergarten Teacher (which is where my heart is) but I have also taught fifth grade, first grade, and reading recovery.

3. This is my ninth year of teaching (man that makes me feel old).

4. I started a family blog in October of 2007.  We were expecting our second child and our oldest daughter had just turned one.  I wanted to keep family and friends current on the happenings of our growing family.  I later started a classroom blog when I went back to teaching full time in August of 2010.  My teaching blog was only started this month, I am a newbie.  

5. Ladybug teacher files always has great tutorials she was heaven sent a couple summer's ago while I was setting up my classroom blog.  

Hope you learned a little more about me, it has been fun getting to know all of you a little better!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Teacher Must Have's

I am linking up with my top 5 teacher must have's~ DO you realize how hard it is to choose just 5!?!?  Soooooo hard!

First on my list, a good teaching easel.  I have taught first grade, reading recovery, and kindergarten and could not have functioned without my easel!  (I never used or needed one in fifth grade!)  If you are teaching primary grades you NEED an easel, preferably one with some storage and hopefully a place to hang a pocket chart from time to time!

Storage Containers... I am a little obsessed with storage and probably have more containers that the average teacher.  However container obsessed or not you do need to contain all those classroom items.  My first year the budget was tight so I looked at the dollar store, Target's dollar spot, I always checked the 'giveaway table' at the beginning of each year, old teachers were always getting rid of stuff.  But another great resource is your staff developer (or the equivalent at your school) we would get new books, teaching manuals, etc. etc. and they would often come in cardboard book holders or magazine file (type holders) etc. It is easy to spray paint, modge podge, etc. to make them match your classroom decor and they are FREE!!!

Gallon Size Baggies!
I use baggies of all sizes in my classroom but Gallon is my most used size by far!  Each term I send home flashcards, book marks, ABC charts, letter tiles, etc. and ALWAYS put them in a gallon size baggie for parents to hold onto and store the items.  I use them for listening centers, etc etc. etc.

Baggies are ALWAYS on my donation list and we go through them like crazy!  Stock up!

Speaking of bags, I ALWAYS keep my grocery bags, I store them in my closet and whenever a kiddo happens to forget their backpack (which is at least one kiddo each day it seems) I pull out a bag!  We put their stuff inside and then hang one handle on each shoulder, just like a backpack!  It works great and prevents their papers and take home books from getting lost on the way home!

My last MUST HAVE is... my planbook!  A great planbook is essential!   Click on my links for free downloads of my planning calendar and planbook pages.  Hope this helps and 'Happy Teaching!'

Friday, July 20, 2012

It's Freebie Friday!

It is Freebie Friday and I am linking up with my alphabet line freebie!   This is the alphabet line I use in my classroom, except that mine has a green border.  I hope that you can find a use for it in your classroom.
Speaking of classroom, we start back to school in just over 3 weeks... gulp.  I have so much to do!  My classroom is still not even close to ready but they are waxing the floor outside my hallway and I have been forced to stay away... while being ousted I discovered Downton Abbey on Netflix, have you seen it?  Total addiction!  I watched all 8 episodes in 48 hours... I probably shouldn't have just admitted that!  I should be deep cleaning and getting my house ready for the neglect that is soon to come in say 3 weeks anyone else live, sleep, breathe school  those first few weeks?  I have never been great at multi-tasking, I have a tendency to be all or nothing.  So before I start watching season 2 on Hulu maybe I should go tackle the kids bathroom and sort some laundry.   Wish me luck! Now I am off to check out some Friday Freebies.  And then maybe tackle some housecleaning... maybe.  Just keep me away from season 2 of  Downton Abbey!  (Did you know there is even a Christmas Special!  I have a serious problem!)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Picture Books Link Up


I am linking up with The Teacher Wife for her picture book linky party.  I (like many of you) have a picture book addiction.  Narrowing it to a top five is, well, impossible but here are 5 favorites:

"A group of dust bunnies rhyme all the time--well, everyone except Bob. Much to the other bunnies' frustration, Bob can never get the rhythm right. Then he saves everyone from a big scary monster that's wielding a broom. Can Bob save them from the next attack?"

 "Leave it to Molly to transform all her 'faults' into marvelous talents.. . . #Catrow's# pictures fill the pages with wild perspectives, goofy-looking kids, and hilarious details. . . . Leaves readers with the feeling that anything can be accomplished if you are the best person you can be and make the most of your gifts."

Anything by Mo Willems 

 "Clever text is coupled with delightful illustrations sure to send kids on a journey into their wildest wishes--where no matter how silly the requests may be, there is one day a year when children receive positive answers."

Just What Mama Needs

 "Household chores are wondrously transformed into magical activities in this imaginative Mother's Day book that showcases the days of the week and celebrates self-esteem."

So there are 5 favorites but let's be honest I could easily add 5, 10, 15 more!  Happy book buying I can't wait to see everyone's favorite titles!