3.29.2015

Easter Gift Tag FREEBIE

Happy Sunday! I know that some of you are coming off of or heading into Spring Break, but if you are like me we still have 4 days of school this week before enjoying Easter break! So today I am stopping by to share a little freebie that I made for my students and co-workers for this Easter!
I love giving gifts--it's one of my main love languages! I think it is so important for people to know that we appreciate them and even a small, thoughtful gift can brighten up anyones day! There are lots of great ideas for Easter gifts for students and co-workers out in Pinterest land, but I like to switch things up each Easter for gifts. So I decided to make a generic Easter tag this year that I can use it for any gift I decide to give both now and in the future! 

I LOVE getting good books into my students hands and even though I have done other treats in the past, I figured my precious first graders are going to be given a bounty of sugar this Easter so why not give them a gift whose sweetness will last after it's initial opening! My students adore the Click, Clack, Moo series--seriously who can't resist the charm of Farmer Brown and the antics of his scheming animals?! No teacher or first grader can! Duck is personal favorite! :) If you follow me on Instagram: Foxwell Forest (click HERE or on the picture to follow!) then you saw my Happy Day last week when my Scholastic Book Box arrived:
I was able to get a copy of Click, Clack, Moo for each of my students for $1 from Scholastic Reading Clubs! Plus I had points to use too!! So for me it was a no brainer Easter gift! I am so excited to hand these out to my students on Thursday before our Easter break!

For my co-workers I figured that getting them something to refill their chocolate stash at school is never a bad option, so when I found these Ghirardelli Easter chocolates at my grocery store, I snagged one for each of them! Yum! Now, I'm wishing I had snagged one for me! HA!
If you still need a tag for your students or co-workers Easter gifts or if you want to stash these away for next year you can snag this Freebie by clicking HERE or on the picture below! Consider it my little Easter Gift to you! :)

For those of you on break--enjoy! For those of us still plugging away this week--grab yourself some chocolate and remember that we can do it!! :)

Happy Easter! 

3.25.2015

Hundreds Chart More or Less Song and Freebie {Tricks & Tips for Teachers Weekly Linky}

{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}

This week's teaching trick/tip is: 

Music and movement are a powerful tool for our students to remember and understand concepts! I use them all the time in my classroom! So in order to help my students understand how to use the hundreds chart to find numbers that are 1 less, 1 more, 10 less, or 10 more I created the Hundreds Chart More or Less Shuffle song.
If you are a visual person and would like to see the dance moves and song, I recorded it one day while the class and I were singing it.  Please don't judge--I truly have very little dancing skills! Ha!
  

You may have noticed that I use different voices when singing--no I don't have singing schizophrenia! While it may seem a little crazy, trust me--it's intentional! While singing or even talking about the words "less" or "more", I use a high/small voice for “less” and a low/big voice for “more”. This is just another way to help my students remember the difference between more or less. They not only have the motions/movement, song, but also the varying voices to help them remember 1 less, 1 more, 10 less, 10 more. I want to use anything I can to help all my students be successful and I have found all of these techniques to help! But no pressure to use the different voices--the song will still be effective with normal singing too!

After teaching the song and dance/movements, we played the hundreds chart shuffle on our hundreds chart. We sang the song and did the dance/movements with our finger on the hundreds chart after learning the song. I'm all about ease of use and making things reusable! If you don't have a class set of hundreds charts laminated, I highly recommend that you laminate a hundreds chart for each of your students! I have a class set of laminated hundreds charts that I reuse year after year! This not only makes it reusable, but students can also write on them with dry erase markers.
 
I modeled how to use the hundreds chart to find 1 less, 1 more, 10 less, or 10 more. Then we practiced as a whole class with our laminated 100s charts by using the knowledge of our song and dance moves. I would call out a number and students would find and circle the number on the hundreds chart. Then I would say 1 less, or 1 more, or 10 less, or 10 more and they would put a square around the number. We would repeat this for multiple numbers. For independent practice I made up some task cards with a recording sheet. I called it the hundreds chart More or Less Mystery Shuffle. I put a task card on each students desk and students would shuffle or scoot around the room to each desk/mystery card. I really had students doing the shuffle as they went to each desk/mystery card! So much fun! Students would use their hundreds chart and dry erase marker to find the answer and record it on the correct letter of the recording sheet.
  
Teacher reflection--the pictures show my original/first draft with numbers on the cards and recording sheet. It was a little confusing for the students, so I have changed them to letters for you and for my future use--yes I have made this is a FREEBIE for you!!
 
When students finished they came to me and I would check their answers with an answer key sheet. When students solved all of the answers correctly I wrote “Case Solved!” on their sheet.  
This activity was such a fun way to learn and practice 1 less, 1 more, 10 less, and 10 more! Plus it was a great assessment to see which students understood the concept and which students needed more practice and support in small group instruction.The task cards could also be used for small group instruction or centers!I have put the Song Poster, 100 Chart, 120 Chart, Task Cards, Recording Sheet, and Answer Key all in a FREEBIE for you! Just click HERE or on any of the pictures in this post to grab your copy!I hope you'll join in for this week's link up!! I love reading your tips--it is so fun to learn and grow together!


3.19.2015

Tricks & Tips for Teachers: Hanging Student Work with Clothespins {A Weekly Linky}


{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}

I LOVE hanging student work! It is so important for our students to feel pride and ownership of their work! My mom used to always hang our work on our refrigerator at home, but since my classroom doesn't have a refrigerator, I had to create my own place to hang "fridge-worthy" work! I don't have much wall space in my current classroom, so I decided to use the middle bulletin boards on my closet doors to create a space to display student work.
I wanted an efficient and easy way to display my students work inside of the classroom. Stapling or making tape donuts is very time consuming--trust me I did it my whole first year!! While there is nothing wrong with staples or tape donuts--I still use them for other things, I knew that if I was going to change out my student work on a regular basis I needed to work smarter and not harder! So I said  goodbye to the staples and tape donuts and HELLO to clothespins! 
Clothespins are inexpensive (you can find a pack at the dollar store), they hang work like a boss, and they are easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy to use to change out student work! Work that used to take me 15-20 minutes to staple or tape donut can now be taken down and put up in 2-3 minutes! That is winning in my book! It also means that I will switch out my student work more often too!

My little trick to using clothespins to hang student work is to hot glue 2 thumbtacks onto the clothespin--1 thumbtack at the top and 1 thumbtack at the bottom. This allows the clothespin to be stuck right into your bulletin board and then all you need to do is open and close the clothespin to hang your students' work! Just to make it look prettier, I designated the hanging spots on the bulletin board by stapling laminated black cardstock paper to the bulletin board and then putting the clothespin with thumbtacks on top of it (see picture above).
What tips or tricks will you share this week? I can't wait to read them!


3.12.2015

Tricks and Tips for the Teachers: Organizing and Managing Listening Center {A Weekly Linky}

{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}

One of my students favorite centers to go to is listening center!! 

While my students are at their centers they are working on and practicing targeted skills in independence while I work with students in small groups. Time is precious in the classroom and interruptions during small group instruction greatly hinder learning when "small" issues arise at centers. It becomes imperative that for the classroom to run successfully and for students to be successful, that centers are organized and managed.

Today's teaching tip is on how to organize and manage your listening center!
I believe that every primary classroom should be equipped with a listening center! Listening center has so many benefits for our students as they grow as readers! Students are able to enjoy reading books that are above their reading level, it aids their fluency as they hear reading modeled (this is especially beneficial for our striving readers), it promotes their listening skills, and students are able to track along with the print as they listen to the story.

For the first couple of years of teaching, I had 2 old tape players with a well-loved stash of cassette tapes and books left from many teachers before me. While it felt a little 1980's to be using cassette tape players, I was SO thankful to at least have something to use for a listening center. Sadly after many tapes being eaten and destroyed by our tape players, by my third year of teaching the tape players were no longer working and it was time to lay them to rest.

Thanks to Donors Choose, I was able to receive a new listening center and upgraded to CD players! But with the delicacy of using CDs, I needed an organization system that would be easy for my first grade students to independently use! When my CD players arrived I searched Pinterest for organization ideas, but came up empty handed. So when Pinterest failed (I didn't know that was possible!) it was time to put ingenuity to the test! Thanks to teacher brain insomnia, I finally thought of a system to organize everything and it has worked so well!

I use color coding circle labels {found HERE} to organize the Cds and books. All of the CDs go into a CD Wallet {found HERE}. 
Each book is kept in a ziploc bag. This may appear a little OCD, but since the books are all different sizes it is easier to store them and the ziploc bags serve as protection and help the books last longer too.

Each book title receives a number and I write the number on four circle labels:
-1 label goes on the CD
-1 label goes on the CD sleeve (I put a piece of packing tape over it so it won't fall off)
-1 label goes on the bottom right of the book (I put a piece of packing tape over it so it won't fall off)
-1 label goes on the top left corner of the ziploc bag (I put a piece of packing tape over it so it won't fall off)

For example: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons is listening center book #29. When a student picks this book out of the listening center bin they then find the matching number in the CD wallet. Then when they are finished they put the CD back in the CD wallet by matching the number on the CD to the number on the CD wallet. The book also goes back into the ziploc bag and is returned to the listening center bin before the student picks out the next book to listen to.
I usually put 5-6 books out in the green listening center bin per week so that students are not overwhelmed by choices each week, but also have plenty of variety throughout the year. I store all of my listening center books not currently in use in my seat crates. 
Four students go to listening center at a time and they sit on the seat crates while they are listening. I want students to get right to work listening, so to help them get right to work and also to eliminate arguing I have assigned jobs at listening center based on the seat crate that students sit in. Students work in partners so that there are 2 students at each CD player. I use a Belkin splitter {found HERE} to allow more than one student to plug in their headphones to the CD player. 
The partner that sits on the dots is in charge of picking and putting away the books. The partner that sits on the flower crate is in charge of the CD player (getting the CD, putting it in, and starting the CD when they are ready) and of plugging in and taking out the headphones.
I have a sign at listening center to remind students of their job so that it limits interruptions while I am working with small groups. I just hand wrote the note and put it in an extra frame I had.

Each of my students has their own pair of headphones in our classroom that they keep in a labeled ziploc bog. Students keep their headphones in their table's headphone bin. The middle unlabeled bin on the bottom shelf holds a couple of extra classroom headphones as back ups and the unlabeled bin on the bottom right holds the CD wallets. I like having everything in one place for my students to be able to use. I find that when things are organized it makes things run smoothly!
I also have two important classroom jobs that help eliminate "small issue" interruptions during center time while I am working with small groups. I have a student that is the Center Manager and a student that is the Teacher Assistant {click HERE or on the picture for my classroom helpers packet}. 
The rule in my classroom is that if I am working with students at my small group table, the students who have a small problem or issue need to first check with the Center Manager. If the Center Manager doesn't know the answer or can't help, then they check with the Teacher Assistant. If the Teacher Assistant doesn't know the answer then they the rule is that they have to clean up the center and read quietly. 

Like anything in the classroom, students need modeling and practice in order to know how to use and be successful at listening center. Students also need modeling and practice on how to put things away at listening center. My rule is that if our classroom learning tools are not taken care of or put away responsibly that the tool, or in this case listening center, will not be able to be used for a little while. Students love listening center, so they work hard to be able to keep the privilege of using our wonderful learning tool! Students also need modeling and practicing on understanding big and small problems, so that they know when it is ok and is not ok to interrupt me while I am teaching at the small group table. 

Hopefully some of these ideas will help you as you organize and manage your listening center! I'm also including my listening center sign as FREEBIE for you! Click HERE or on the picture below to download it!

What tips and tricks do you have? I can't wait to hear!


3.05.2015

Tricks and Tips for Teachers: Black Sock Erasers {A Weekly Linky}

{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}

Happy Thursday friends! Or as I like to call it, Happy Friday Eve!

Let's jump right into this week's teaching trick/tip, shall we?!

In my classroom we use personal whiteboards every day! They are a wonderful {and copy/paper free} tool for learning in the classroom! Students love using them to show their work and I love using them to assess their learning! I love everything about personal student whiteboards except for one little big thing: 


Dry Erase Board Erasers

*insert cringe here*

These erasers and I are just not friends. Trust me, I've tried!! Here are some of my issues with them:

1. They are large and in charge--they don't fit easily into a pencil box and as a result get lost in the black hole that my students call their desk. 
2. They don't last year after year. They become pin cushions for my students pencil tips and fingers. Plus the felt part gets dirty quickly and then becomes a smearer instead of an eraser. 
3. At $2-3 a piece replacing them for a whole classroom quickly becomes expensive.

The problem is that a dry erase board without a dry erase board eraser is well...pointless. Personal student white boards are not a one time use board. Students need to be able to use and reuse them which ultimately requires some sort of eraser OR a class supply of Tide pens on hand for all of the sleeves that are used instead. So, I had to figure out another way for students to erase! 

I was at teacher heaven one day, aka The Dollar Tree, when I found my answer:
*insert angelic music here*

Black socks? How did I not think of this before? They are the perfect dry erase board eraser!

1. They are small and are easy to store!
My students just keep their dry erase marker right in their sock and keep both in their pencil box for easy access! They keep their pencil box on top of their white board in their desk so that they can pull it out and be ready in 3 seconds flat! No wasted time here!!

2. They last year after year--I'm on year 3 with these socks! 

3. They are affordable!
I was able to get 6 socks for only $1! Be still my bargain heart! OR you can always raid your family's lost sock drawer at home for free socks too!

The best part for my OCD heart is that they don't show their dirtiness like a white sock would or white felt on an eraser does! And when I do want or need them cleaned I can just collect them, take them home, and throw them in my washer machine! *winning*

This has worked SO well for our classroom! I will never go back to the dry erase board erasers for my students again! 

And if I can have a quick squirrel moment here---one thing I will say is that when it comes to classroom management of the socks and erasers, I hold my students to high expectations for using them and keeping them in the right places. If students are not using them correctly (goofing around with them or swinging socks in the air) or are not keeping them in their pencil box (for example, if I find a sock lying on the floor after we are done using them) they lose the privilege of using this great learning tool for the day and have to use scrap paper and pencils while the rest of the class uses white boards. My students LOVE getting to use their white boards, so it usually only takes one time of having to use a scrap paper and pencil during white board time to keep them motivated to make good choices with them! 

What tricks and tips do you have up your sleeve? I can't wait to read all about them!


2.26.2015

Tricks and Tips for Teachers: Reuse Disinfecting Wipe Containers for Storage {A Weekly Linky}

Happy Thursday!
{Collaboration and sharing is a great way to learn and grow as a teacher! Tricks and Tips for Teachers is a weekly linky party held every Thursday as a place for you to join in and share a post about a teaching tip or trick on your blog. Just grab the button above and link it back to this post. Then come back to this post and link up your blog post by using the linky tool at the bottom of this post. I can't wait to read your great tricks and tips and learn and grow together!}

I love this Thursday linky party! Not only do we get to share great tricks and tips, but Thursday also means that tomorrow is Friday!! We can make it friends! :)

This week's teaching tip is on Reusing Disinfecting Wipe Containers for Storage!
Let's just admit it--this picture pretty much summarizes how teachers feel about containers!

Lol -gotta love that baby face!

When I got my teaching job I was blessed to have lots of great math manipulatives, but most of them were in ziploc bags. Talk about teacher nightmare! They wouldn't stay sealed or sit or stack well in the cabinet. To say the least I was tired of playing manipulative spill pick up when ziploc bags came spilling out of the cabinet or weren't sealed properly! There was only one solution for this problem--I had to get some containers and get them fast! But containers also cost money and I'm always looking for budget friendly ways to get things for my classroom! And FREE is the best kind of deal, right?!

So I was looking around my classroom wondering, where can I find containers to store some of these manipulatives. In particular, where could I store the hundreds of play money I had lurking in those ziploc bags.

I remember using the last wipe in a Lysol container and just as I was about to toss it in the trash can had a light bulb moment! Insert Gru impression here:


These containers were just the right size to hold my plastic money math manipulatives! The top stays sealed, the containers can be stacked, and best of all they were FREE containers! I just took off the label, cleaned out the inside of the empty Lysol container, added my own label, and BOOM I had some new free storage!
I also liked that not only did the the tops seal tight, but they also are easy enough for students to open and close too!
Yes my friends, new containers are absolutely magical!!

Well, there's my tip for the week! Have a teaching tip or trick that you'd like to share?! It could be about creative storage solutions OR about anything teaching related! Just write a blog post with a tip or trick, include the linky party button at the top with a link back to my blog, and link up below!

I can't wait to read your tricks and tips for teachers!


2.24.2015

Teachers are Heroes Sale!! :)

Teachers are heroes! It's true!! Whether I look down my hall or on my blog roll, I am continually amazed by the talented and inspiring people in our profession!! You all are amazing! I know that teaching is not easy. Some days are harder than others. Some classes are harder than others. There's so much to do and not enough time. But the truth is that what you do each and every day makes a lasting difference in the lives of your students!! Keep it up dear friends, keep it up! :) 

I love that TPT is celebrating teachers with a special sale starting Wednesday, February 25!! I am excited to be joining in by putting my whole store on sale for 20%! Use the code HEROES at checkout to get an additional 10% off! :) 
Click HERE or on the button to shop! :)

I have lots on my wish list that I'm excited to grab for my kiddos!! The sale begins Wednesday, February 25!! Don't forget the promo code HEROES! I'm so excited to go shopping tomorrow! :)