Sunday, August 13, 2017

Word Work & Spelling with Pool Noodles

Hands on word work activities
Have you seen them? Pool noodles are everywhere... especially Pinterest. I'm here to share my ideas on using pool noodles for word work, spelling, and sight word activities in the classroom or for your homeschooler.
Keep reading for my "oopsie" moments as well!
Literacy center ideas for Pre K, Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade
If you are wondering why pool noodles are all the craze, let me tell you why...CHEAP. QUIET. EASY TO FIND. TACTILE. FUN.
Seriously, pool noodles are my new favorite manipulatives because they are so inexpensive and don't make any noise! They are colorful, easy to manipulate, and perfect for fine motor skills. You can stock your literacy centers with pool noodles for building sight words, practicing spelling words, creating word families, or working on CVC/CVCe words for just a couple bucks. 
Literacy activities using pool noodles
I was cutting my pool noodles while my littles were napping. My cat was very skeptical. She couldn't imagine what we were going to do with all of these.
Independent activity for Word Work literacy center
As soon as my preschooler saw these, he was all over it. He wanted to build every word he knew! He started with his name and then progressed to some simple sight words that we keep on index cards. We worked together on this activity, but he could also work independently by using the sight word cards to build his towers. These noodle letters are great for building spelling words and word families too.
Literacy activities for homeschool, preschool, kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade 
Here is my #1 tip for teachers and homeschoolers who are planning to run to the Dollar Store to bring this activity to life for their kiddos... Think about which way you write the letters on the noodle pieces. When I first started writing with a Sharpie, I was writing them all sideways. OOPS moment #1. Here is my next tip- think about how you want kids to build the words. Do you want them to build towers like this? If so, a paper towel holder from the Dollar Tree is perfect. If you would rather them build the words horizontally, like they are written, you will want to use something like a dowel rod instead. 
Tactile, fun, cheap, DIY idea for elementary classrooms
This is my four-year old, Reed, when he first started building his name. He started with R, so he ended up spelling "deer." Oops #2. 
Tactile, hands on, engaging activity for preschool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade students
I'm loving pool noodles for hands on, easy, and fun additions to any Pre K, Kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade literacy center! I would love to find out how you use noodles in your classroom or with your homeschooler. Leave a comment and share your ideas!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Journal Writing: 100 Creative Writing Prompts for Kids

There are two kinds of writers in the world. The first have an endless assortment of ideas that magically pop into their heads when it is time to begin writing. The rest of us look like this...
100 Journal Writing Prompts for Upper Elementary
Frustrated. Annoyed. Defeated. Tired.
I don't want students to feel like this when it is time to write in their journals or work at the writing station, so I created a solution to this problem... 100 Creative Writing Prompts.
100 Writing Prompts for Kids
Here is the best part. I formatted them so they can be printed on 2x4 labels. So when it's time to start writing, and you have a kiddo that says, "I don't know what to write about," you simply let them choose a sticker label with a writing prompt on it. They peel it off, stick it in their journal, and get started! You can get a huge pack of labels on Amazon for super cheap. You could use these for an instant writing station. Just add some paper, journals, fun pencils & pens, and the writing prompts, and you are all set.
Fun and easy ideas for writing
If you don't want to buy labels, you can print the writing prompts on colored card stock. Laminate for durability, and then store them inside of an index card filing box. You can also hole punch them and put them on a metal binder ring. 
Creative writing prompts for journals and writing center
Quick and easy writing lesson for upper elementary
Writer's block no more! Happy Writing! Get them HERE.
Fun writing prompts for any occasion

Friday, August 4, 2017

Ten Frame Activities for Addition & Subtraction

Math manipulatives, ten frames, addition and subtraction
Ten Frames are awesome. Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade students can work on so many essential concepts including number sense, subitizing, counting on, addition, subtraction, basic facts, making ten, and more. I HEART TEN FRAMES, and I hope you will too, after reading this blog post! 
Fun, easy, engaging activities for math stations
Ten Frames are a part of many direct teach lessons, but I utilize them to spiral review in math stations, as well as small groups and tutoring. Ten Frames are concrete, and I like that we can swap out manipulatives to make it fun and engaging. Add tweezers, pinchers, and grabbers to make it even more exciting and fine tune those fine motor skills! DONUT HOLE MATH!
Fun and easy ideas for math small groups Kindergarten and 1st grade
Engaging and fun math ideas for K-2 students
I created four sets in this resource: Addition, Subtraction, Mixed Set, & a Challenge Set.
Ideas for storing the cards...
1. Laminate & put them in baggies
2. Index Card Filing Box
3. School Supply Box
4. Dollar Store Photo Album! 
(See video below)
My other favorite way to use these cards is for a class "scavenger hunt." When the students are at lunch or specials, I will hang a set of the cards around the room in random hiding places. When they return, I will give them a recording sheet and let them go hunt throughout the classroom to find the cards. It's such a fun and interactive way to practice the skills they need to be review. Math is so fun!
Fun and easy idea for math centers in Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd grade
Fun ideas for math centers and small group tutoring

Monday, July 31, 2017

Teaching Students to Color?

Back to School Activities for Kindergarten and 1st Grade
Do you teach your elementary students to color? I know that sounds like a funny question, but I'm serious! During the first week of school, one of the most important things I "teach" is how to color! My objective is for students to take ownership of their work. I want them to do their very best on everything. My other goal is to teach my expectations for taking care of their school supplies.
Do you teach your students "how to color?" It sounds silly, but it really is important to model your expectations!
When I saw these in the Target Dollar Spot, I knew they would be perfect! liked these cute rainbows because they were the perfect size... just enough coloring but not TOO much coloring where it would take all day. :) 
When I teach my kiddos to color, I MODEL, MODEL, MODEL. 
I demonstrate how you can outline with markers. I show the difference between pressing hard to make the color dark and pressing lightly. I show the students how I can color realistically or creatively. I demonstrate how to add details and use a variety of colors. As I'm coloring, we talk through using different colors and different supplies. I ask my students questions along the way. "Would it look better to color the entire rainbow blue or should I use several colors?" I show the kiddos how I can color in the same direction and then how I can color all crazy. I ask them "which looks better?" :)
First week of school activity- teaching students to color
This sounds so basic, but you can't assume your littles really know how you want them to color. More importantly, I want my students to take pride in their work. This is true not just for coloring but for EVERYTHING they will do in school.
This isn't a long lesson. It's a mini lesson we work on all week. We keep adding to the anchor chart that will be displayed in the room all year.
Then I want the students to have the opportunity to show me their VERY BEST WORK! Next, I give them TIME. I don't want them to rush through it. In reality, they are probably going to take a little TOO long coloring today, but that's OK. I want to set the precedent that I expect their best. I don't want them to rush to just finish. 
I also like to have coloring contests throughout the year. This works great the week before a holiday or vacation. You can find tons of free coloring pages on Pinterest for every theme and holiday imaginable. I give it to the kids at the beginning of the week and whenever they have a few extra minutes they can work on their coloring contest page. At the end of the week, I have a judge decide on a few winners, and they get a prize from the treasure box. Holiday weeks can be so crazy, so a coloring contest is a great activity to do during potential downtime. 
Back to School Fun and Easy Ideas

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Meet the Teacher Tips

Love these simple and easy ideas for Meet the Teacher night
Last week, I posted a video with 5 Tips for Meet the Teacher. If you missed it, you can catch it here.
After I posted the video, I thought of several other VERY IMPORTANT tips I should have mentioned. If you are a new teacher, please read these!
1. EAT SOMETHING before Meet the Teacher. If you are like me, you get to school super early, work through lunch, and try and get as much done as you can on teacher work days. Sometimes that means you forget to eat real food. Just be sure to eat something before Meet the Teacher or you won't have energy to meet all those kids and all those parents! :)
2. Don't drink too much coffee. LOL. Seriously, my first three years of teaching I think I kept Starbucks in business. Meet the Teacher is not the day to have a venti or you will be bouncing off the walls and then crash...or maybe that was just me!
3. Wear comfy shoes and comfy clothes, but you already know that because you are a teacher!
4. Try a classroom scavenger hunt. On your whiteboard or SmartBoard, you can have a scavenger hunt of things you want students/parents to do in the classroom. For example,
-Find your new desk.
-Find your cubby.
-Find our class pet. Write down a suggestion for what you think we should name him on the clipboard.
-Find one new friend and introduce yourself.
-Give your new teacher a big hug before you leave!
5. Have a folder for parents' to turn in their completed VIP papers. (See video above for details on VIP papers.)
You can grab this Meet the Teacher editable flyer in my TpT store. It's part of my Meet the Teacher Essentials which has everything you need to make Meet the Teacher a breeze! 
Editable flyer and template for Meet the Teacher night

Sunday, July 23, 2017

My Best Advice for New Teachers...

New teacher tips for Back to School
Effective classroom management is key. We all know you can't teach if you don't have your classroom under control. If you are a new teacher, and you found your way to my blog, I am so happy you are here. I have a classroom management solution that is SO EASY to implement, and it's a game changer. You can start using it in your classroom on Day 1. Drum roll please...
Back to School Tips and Ideas for new teachers
Classroom hand signals are a set of non verbal cues or signs that your students use to show you, the teacher, what they want or need. The teacher is able to respond with a nonverbal answer (nodding head YES or shaking head NO). Let's dig a little deeper.
You are teaching a lesson on double digit subtraction with regrouping. The students are about to have that LIGHTBULB moment when it clicks and they GET IT. All of a sudden, a sweet student raises his hand with a question. Unfortunately, this little darling doesn't have a question about double digit subtraction with regrouping. He wants to know if he can get a sip of water because he's thirsty. His untimely question interrupts the lesson and distracts the class. 
There are times during the day when students are going to raise their hand to ask for a new pencil.
They are going to ask to go to the restroom.
They will ask for water.
They will need to get up for a tissue.
They will need have a question or need help.
They will need to visit the nurse. 
Constant interruptions multiplied by 20+ students can make for a lot of lost instructional time.
Editable, printable classroom hand signals
My best advice for new teachers is to have a set of hand signals to reduce and eliminate these unnecessary distractions. If you are teaching and you see a child raising his hand with THREE fingers in the air, you know he wants to get up for a sip of water. If it's not a good time for water (like during the double digit subtraction lesson), I would shake my head NO. In the same situation, a child may have broken his only pencil, and I can see he's raising ONE finger in the air. I know he needs a new pencil to continue working on the lesson. I can nod my head YES, and he can go get a new pencil, and the lesson is never interrupted. 
You can download these printable signs/posters in my TpT store. The text is editable so you can make them work for your classroom. Hoping this classroom management tip will be beneficial for you!
Back to School tips and tricks!

Friday, July 21, 2017

First Day of School "Getting to Know You" Printable

Free Back to School printable for the first day of school
My sweet friend, Linda, who teaches PreK, asked me to create a printable that she could use with her littles on the first day of school. I thought this would be a resource that a lot of preschool, Kindergarten, and primary teachers might want to use as well so I've posted it as a FREEBIE in my TpT store
Free Getting to Know You Printable for Kindergarten and Preschool
The teacher will definitely need to do the writing on the 1st day of school, but it would be fun to see the students' self portraits and how they write their name. It will surely evolve quite a bit throughout the year. 
What to do with these?
-Make a Back to School Bulletin Board to display at Open House
-Add to students' memory books
-Give to parents at Back to School Night or Fall Conferences
-Add to students' end of year portfolios
Free activity for the first day of school Kindergarten, Preschool, First grade, second grade
Be sure to share this blog post or a link to download the FREEBIE with a fellow preschool, Kindergarten, 1st grade, or 2nd grade teacher who might want to check it out before school starts!

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.
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