Friday, July 14, 2017

Meet the Teacher Gift Idea

Treat for students at Back to School Night
Meet the Teacher is one of the most important events of the entire year. Students are on pins and needles waiting to meet their new teacher. I know I've always been just as excited to meet my new group of kiddos as well. I always like to give students a little treat when I meet them. I know some schools don't allow candy, but POP ROCKS are awesome, and I'm a grown up!
What a fun Back to School treat for students from the teacher!
It's important to hug each and every single one of my students and tell them how happy I am to have them in my class. With that being said, I think they will appreciate the note and candy too!
Where to buy Pop Rocks!?! I actually looked at Walgreens, Dollar Tree, and 7-11 before the lightbulb went off in my head, and I ordered them on Amazon. They arrived the next day. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime! Ha! If you have a CostCo or Sam's card, I bet they would be super cheap there! I've seen them in bulk packs at Target and WalMart as well. The Dollar Tree lady told me that they always sell out around the 4th of July. :)
I've added this EDITABLE Pop Rocks gift tag to my Meet the Teacher Essentials on TpT. You can download the gift tag and a plethora of important forms to handout to parents, as well as activities to keep students engaged while their parents fill out paperwork. 
Meet the Teacher Idea: Give students a little treat and tell them how happy you are to have them in your class.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Phonics & Magnet Fun!

Easy activity for prek or kindergarten centers
My little is getting ready for PreK-4. He LOVES the alphabet and word work activities so we've been doing some fun things at home while little brother naps during the afternoon. Texas summers are HOT, HOT, HOT so we are staying inside and having some fun. Check it out.
Alphabet magnets
We've got tons of assorted magnets around the house (letters, animals, vehicles), but I saw these magnets in the Target Dollar Spot and had to have them. Of course, I needed the bright green, wooden caddy, too!
Classroom organization and supplies
I store our magnets in these Sterilite stackable tubs. The green caddy is the perfect addition. Easy access for the new magnets.
Word work activity
I set up our magnet board with seven "headers" for our magnet sort: A, B, C, D, E, F, G
My son is 4, but if you've got older kiddos, challenge them with a different sort, or let them create their own.
Perfect for centers and work stations in Pre-K and Kindergarten
 He got right to work! He wanted to count which letter had the most to see "who was winning." So competitive! :)
Phonics activity
Stepping back...Thinking hard...
Preschool and Kindergarten word work activity
That face though!  :) 
Here is a short video of my guy in action. It's so cool to watch the wheels turning in his head as he figures out where each magnet goes.
Skills addressed: Letter recognition, letter sound correspondence, matching uppercase and lowercase letters, sorting, initial sounds...
Extension: Have kiddos practice writing uppercase and lowercase letters on the easel or dry erase board. Students could also draw additional pictures in their journals or on the easel for each letter.
Easy preschool word work activity
Need a fresh idea for practice sight words? Check out these GLITTER sight word books.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Take Home Folders: Part 2

Labeling and organizing student homework folders
This is Part 2 in my series on Take Home Folders/ Homework Folders. If you missed Part 1, I talked about how to set up, label, and organize your folders. Check it out here.
Today's blog post will discuss how to actually manage the folders and the gazillions of papers that go back and forth from school to home. We live in a digital world, but papers are very much still a part of elementary schools. Having an efficient system in place will save you so many headaches. If you are a brand new teacher or new to the primary grades, I think these tips will be especially beneficial!
Step 1 Take Home Folders
This sounds like common sense, I know. First, choose the basket/bin/container the students will put their folders in. Also, decide WHERE in the classroom your basket will live. After you greet your kiddos in the morning, have them hang up their belongings and immediately take their folder to the designated spot.
Have students put Take Home Folders in designated spot in classroom.
If you are like me, you have 100,000,000 cute containers in your classroom, house, and car but you still feel the need to buy more. I just found this adorable wire basket on Amazon. I'm pretty sure it's made for your kitchen or pantry, but I love it, nonetheless. It's a great size and will match any classroom door without clashing. Here is a picture of the basket in my office/playroom at home. So cute, right? I got the large, industrial gray on Amazon.
Organizing Take Home Folders
I just typed up a little sign, glued it to card stock, and tied it to the wire basket with some twine. 
Get organized for Back to School: Take Home Folders and Homework Folders
Step 2 Take Home Folders
By 8:15 every morning, I personally check every single folder. I check for homework, reading log,  notes from mom/dad, lunch money, permission slips, signed papers, etc. I do NOT want kids handing me things individually. I want everything in the folder. You are probably wondering... what in the world are the kids doing while you check all those folders?!?! Great question! Kiddos are doing their morning work/bell ringer, reading an AR book, and listening to the morning announcements. Realistically, it only takes me a few minutes to flip through all of the folders so I only need them busy independently for a few minutes. It's important to get folders checked early in the morning so I make it a priority. 
Organizing and managing folders

I like to separate this from Step 2 because sometimes I don't have time to do it all at the same time so it's best to check ALL the folders first, and then stuff them all. One thing at a time. :)
The only thing I'm stuffing in the folder is a homework sheet or very important paper that needs to be returned to school- something like a permission slip, a test that needs to be signed, an envelope from the office, etc. My biggest advice here is to do this at the same time every day. Do not wait until the end of the day. It is way too crazy to be doing this at dismissal. Choose a consistent time when you can stuff folders every day- whether it be first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or during your conference period. 
Back to school organization
I've always used a traditional mailbox system, but whatever you have in your classroom will work (file folders, hanging file system, etc). Find a place to file the kiddos graded work, handouts, and classwork into a "mailbox" system. At the end of the day when it's time to get packed up, kiddos get their mail. At this time, I pass out the Take Home Folders that have already been stuffed with homework in the Return to School side of the folder. When kiddos get their mail, all of the mail goes in the KEEP AT HOME side of the folder. This includes graded work, classwork, papers from the school, art projects, book fair paperwork, PTA info, etc. These are the papers that you want to go home and never come back. :) 
Behavior Log for Take Home Folders to communicate with parents
I could write a novel on the behavior log. This is how I look at it. The child is spending 7 hours of the day at school. The parent should get some kind of information about how their day went (behavior wise). Realistically, teachers do not have time to write a personalized note in each child's folder every single day so you have to be selective. If a student had a really SPECIAL day, jot the parents a quick note about it. "Wow! Kacie was such a leader today. So proud of her!" On the other hand, small reminders can be a way for parents to start a conversation with their child at home. "Don't forget to raise your hand before speaking out." 
The teacher should walk around the room and complete behavior logs while the kiddos are getting their mail and packing up. I LOVE to pass out stickers for students to put on their behavior charts. If they've earned a sticker, it's an easy way to show parents they had a great day at school. If you use a color chart, you can have students use a crayon to color in their color on the corresponding day.
Communicate with parents through printable Take Home Folder Behavior Chart
Simple note. Follow up with a phone call or e-mail. 
Behavior chart for take home folders
Take Home Folders are an important part of the primary classroom. It's an integral way to communicate from school to home. It also gives students responsibility and accountability. Realistically, almost all correspondence could be done via e-mail/online but I think it's important for the children to be "in charge" of their behavior, backpack, folder, and homework, etc. #oldschool
Setting up, organizing, and managing Take Home Folders Video
Check out my video to hear more about organizing and managing Take Home Folders. Download the forms and labels in my TpT store.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Take Home Folders: Part 1

Take Home Folders/Homework Folders... Let's talk about how to set up, label, organize, and manage Take Home Folders
Tips and Tricks for getting your Take Home Folders set up, labeled, organized, and prepared for Back to School
Getting my folders set up is always a huge priority during summer break. I NEVER wait for students to bring their supplies to school on Meet the Teacher night because I want to have my folders set up and ready to go for the first week of school. 
I also want all students to have THE SAME FOLDER. I always choose green for my Take Home Folders because green means go.  These are the only folders that go home.  All the other folders stay at school. 
If you start shopping the Back to School sales in July, you can get a class set of folders for a couple bucks. In fact, do yourself a favor, and buy about 10-15 extra folders because undoubtedly you will get a few new students during the year or some folders will be lost or damaged. 
Some years I've bought the cheap folders (without the prongs) and laminated them.  I used an X-Acto knife to slice open the pocket openings. This worked fine, but I would usually replace the entire class set around Christmas. Other years, I've found awesome deals on the poly/plastic/vinyl thick, sturdy folders. Those really hold up a lot better in my opinion. Maybe your principal will even splurge and buy a class set of nice folders for you?!?! ::Fingers crossed::
Once you've found a class set of awesome folders, it's time to get them labeled. I put the kiddos name (and number) on the front of the folder. If you don't have your class list yet, just skip this step.
Behavior log for students' take home folder
On the inside of the folder, I put two sticker labels. The left side says “Keep at Home” and the right pocket says “Return to School.” Print these on 2x4 inch standard shipping labels.
Label student folders with Keep at Home and Return to School stickers to manage papers going from school to home!
Keep at Home Labels and Return to School labels for Take Home Folders
On the back of the folder, I have a label with my name and room number on it incase another teacher or student finds it in the hallway or on the bus. I also put my e-mail or phone number. This part is totally optional, but I figure it doesn’t hurt to have it on there. 
Label Weekly Folders
As I mentioned before, some years I've bought the folders with the prongs so I could use a sheet protector to hold the students' reading log and behavior chart. Other years, I didn't buy the pronged folders and just slid these papers inside.  :)  
Use a sheet protector inside of students' Take Home Folders to keep behavior log and reading log from getting lost in the shuffle
Insert behavior chart and reading log inside the sheet protector so it doesn't get lost in the shuffle.
Weekly behavior log for student folder. Great way to communicate with parents.
Here is an example of the reading log and behavior log to communicate with parents. 
Printable daily reading log to use in students' take home folders
Printable behavior chart for students' take home folders
Even if you don't use a color chart in your classroom, this behavior log could still work for you. Simply jot down a quick note about the child's day:
"Great effort today!" 
"Don't forget to raise your hand before talking out."
"Had some trouble in the cafeteria but otherwise AWESOME day."
"Thanks for being a leader today!"
Realistically, a teacher doesn't have time to write a personalized note to 25 students every day. That's when STICKERS come to the rescue. I can pass out a sticker to every student who earned one in less than 60 seconds. I don't want anything super time consuming, but I do like a way to keep in touch with parents. I think it also holds kiddos accountable for their day. #oldschool With that being said, if there has been a bigger issue at school, I would definitely call or e-mail the parents to touch base.
To learn more about the 5-Step System I use for Take Home Folders, check out Part 2 of this series. Please also check out my Take Home Folder VIDEO to get more ideas and details on setting up, organizing, and managing folders in the primary classroom. 

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Tips for Productive & Positive Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent Teacher Conferences can be overwhelming and exhausting! Check out this short video for 6 Tips for Productive & Positive Parent Teacher Conferences.  The tips in this video would also be beneficial for teachers implementing Student Led Conferences. 

This video is ideal for elementary teachers, principals, administrators, and new teachers, but the ideas could be adapted for any grade level. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

SNAIL MAIL: Creating a positive classroom environment

Raise your hand if you like getting mail!  
There is something special about getting a letter, a handwritten note, a birthday card, a catalog, or a package in the mail.  Now that I pay all of my bills online, checking the mail is even better than it used to be.  The mailman is basically a superhero to my kids at home.  They are obsessed with him, and they fight over getting the mail.  Using the simple joy of "snail mail" is a fun and easy way to build a positive classroom environment.  
I found this felt envelope in the Dollar Spot at Target.  
Recognize a student that may need a little extra love or a pat on the back for a job well done.  
Maybe they've met their reading goal for the month?
Maybe they have been a good friend?
Maybe they have shown improvement in behavior?
Maybe they have mastered their math facts?
A handwritten note from their teacher will be treasured by any students. 
You could leave the "snail mail envelope" on a different student's desk each day, or you could add some stationary to your writing center and have students recognize one another by sending their friend a note.  
The Clean Desk Award is something I like to give out a few times a month.  When you start noticing that your students' desks are getting messy, put a Clean Desk Award on top of the desk of the student in your classroom who has the neatest desk.  When the kids walk in to the classroom in the morning, they will immediately see that one of their classmates got the Clean Desk Award.  Without ever having to say anything, all of your students will be tidying up their space because they will want to win the Clean Desk Award the next morning! 
Don't give out the Clean Desk Award every day or it will lose it's appeal!  Maybe give out 2 or 3 one week and then wait a few weeks.  It's like magic! 
I saw this meme about getting mail and it made me laugh.  I just had to share it.  :)
Happy February! 

Sunday, January 29, 2017

100th Day of School Celebration

The 100th Day of School is a momentous occasion, and the students look forward to it every year!  I'll never forget my first year of teaching... One of my students said "Miss Campbell- I'm going to miss you tomorrow when I go to first grade."  Bless his heart.  He thought the 100th Day of School was the LAST day of school, and he would be leaving my class.  Today I want to share with you a few ideas for making the 100th Day of School a special day in your classroom.  

100 Exercises
In the morning, we brainstorm a list of 100 exercises we can do.  We make a list on the board and throughout the day, we complete 5 or 10 exercises at a time until we've done all 100.  It makes for the perfect Brain Break on a crazy, busy day.  It also gives the opportunity to count by 5's or 10's.

100th Day Hopscotch
At recess, we bring out the sidewalk chalk, and I challenge the kids to work with a friend or two to create a 100th Day Hopscotch.  Some sweet children will count by 1's and their hopscotch will be gigantic.  Other groups will count by 5's or 10's to create their hopscotch.  So fun & so easy!

100 Snacks
I know some schools don't allow teachers to give out snacks or treats, but that's just wrong!  The 100th Day Snack Bag is a classic.  I always use brown paper bags and the students create a list of what's going inside their snack bag.  They count by 10's until they have 100 snacks.  Suggestions for treats: mini marshmallows, M&Ms, pretzel sticks, raisins, candy hearts, chocolate chips, Chex cereal, yogurt raisins, Fruit Loops, Skittles, jelly beans, etc.
Download this {free} note to ask parents to send in goodies!
100 Math Manipulatives
Get some new math manipulatives or find some in your storage closet that you don't use very often and the kiddos count to 100.  Depending on the manipulative, encourage students to create patterns and skip count using a variety of colors.  I love these colorful stacker blocks from Oriental Trading because you can make towers.  They are similar to Unifix Cubes but something fun and different.  The kids always enjoy using the oval counting links to make chains as well.  
Write 100 Words.
Create a class list of 100 words or have students create a list in their journals.  If you want to do a class list, number a piece of chart paper or butcher paper from 1-100.  During center time or when students finish with their work, they can come to the list and add words that they know how to spell (sight words, color words, spelling words, etc.)  If students are writing individual lists, give them word family cubes to help inspire their lists.  
Mosaic Art 
The 100th Day usually falls pretty close to Valentine's Day, so have students tear 100 pieces of red, pink, white, purple construction paper and create a mosaic heart.  If your 100th Day is earlier or later, you could do a torn paper rainbow, shamrock, Easter egg, or abstract mosaic!  Isn't tearing paper therapeutic?  Love this idea for mosaic hearts from Teach with Kate.  
STEM Challenge
Have students build a structure using 100 blocks, pipes, Legos, MegaBloks, or whatever you have in your classroom/kids' closets!  These Jumbo Pipe Connectors from Oriental Trading are super fun with endless possibilities.  
Ready to begin...
Working towards 100 connected pipes!  
Ring Toss
Using a wooden ring toss game and a whiteboard, have students race to 100.  Players will keep track of their points on the white board.  The player to get to 100 in the least amount of throws is the winner.  Check Pinterest for DIY ring toss games.  :)
Who doesn't love ring toss!?!?!  
Oriental Trading has some great 100th Day of School goodies: pencils, stickers, buttons, necklaces, and more.  My favorite has to be the 100th Day of School slap bracelets though!  #90sbaby!
Oriental Trading has such a variety of teacher supplies, classroom decorations, manipulatives, games, and rewards/incentives/prizes.  You can't beat their prices and deals!  Love me some Oriental Trading!

Disclosure: TheHappyTeacher & Oriental Trading partnered for the purpose of this post. I received free samples of Oriental Trading products, but all opinions are my own and 100% honest.
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