Thursday, August 27, 2015

Chair Bags

I posted a picture of my classroom on Instagram last week, and I had a question about the bags on my back of my kiddos' chairs.  You can see pictures of my classroom on the post I wrote yesterday about my classroom setup.

Our chairs are about 12 years old.  Our building was completely remodeled (new furniture, paint, flooring, etc) my first year of teaching.  When I see pictures of other classrooms, I'm not sure I have seen many chairs like ours. They have a little handle on the back, and the backs aren't very wide, making them not real conducive to your typical "seat sack".

My first 2 years of teaching I taught third grade language arts.  I had 2 sections of kids, so my homeroom kids used the desk and my afternoon class used these bags as their "desk".  When I moved to K, I took the bags with me for my kiddos to store things.

Here is a picture of the bag on a chair.  The bags are about 15" long.  They are made from a thick fabric.  Mine have the polka dot fabric on the inside with a lining between the 2 layers of fabric.  A retired aide from our building made these (I spent all of my "fees" money on these my first year...we don't get that money anymore).  Another kindergarten teacher had her mom make them using duck canvas.  The handle is about 20" but doesn't hang that far down; that is just how long the piece of fabric is.  It is sewn into the bag a little bit as well.

Below is a photo of the inside of the bag.  This year my kiddos keep their home/school folder in their bags and their bag of independent reading books in there daily.  In the past I've included school boxes as well, but we're using community supplies this year.  I use binder clips (2) to clip their name tags to the bags.

These have held up very well over the years!  The only repairs have been because of human error.  My kiddos have to be reminded to hang up both handles so the materials in their bag don't pull on the bag (had to have some seams reinforced).  I wash them at the end of the school year in preparation for the next year, though they are easy to throw in the washer if needed throughout the year.

If you have any other questions about these or other things you've seen in my room, please leave a comment!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Classroom Set Up 2015

I want to share a few pictures of my classroom this year.  It is very similar to my set up from last year with the exception of where the computers are and my teacher table.  I also created more space in front of my chalkboard to make my word wall accessible to my kiddos.

This is the view from the doorway.  To the left (where you can't see) are my cubbies.  My teacher table (which doubles as my desk) is on the far wall to the right of the window you can see.  To the right of this picture is my library, writing center and word wall (see below).

This is the wall immediately to the right of the picture above.  The blue drawers are going to store math manipulatives.  Each table will have a set of drawers to try to cut down on the time it takes to distribute materials.  We are using Eureka Math (Engage NY) for the first time this year, and I understand there are a lot of manipulatives needed each day.  This is my attempt at solving that problem. You can also see my new word wall. The colored dots have upper/lowercase letters on the and the white circles are the picture cues that are from our curriculum.

This bookcase is serving as my "message center" and art materials storage this year.  My grandpa made it in shop class in middle or high school and it is easily 75+ years old. My brother tried to pitch it when he moved in July and I rescued it.  My kiddos drop their folders off for me to check in the morning in the basket, notes collected go on the top for me.  Tissues and markers are on the bottom shelf.  Additional art materials for students to access will be added in the future as they are introduced.  Glue bottles are in the two baskets on the floor.

This is my library update.  I added the additional shelf (small guy to the left) to give my kiddos more storage so it wasn't so crowded.  I think I am going to add framed pictures of readers to the top of the bookcase.  We'll see, but I know I want something with photographs. The blank chalkboard will be used to display student work.

I had a question about the bags on the back of my students' chairs.  I'll be back to write more about those soon.  Thanks for taking a peek at my room.  I'm happy with my space this year after a couple of days with the kiddos in the space!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday Letters {August 23}

I'm linking up with Michelle from Big Time Literacy to share some Sunday Letters.  My first day with kids is tomorrow, so much of mywriting today relates to that.  I'll be back to share more about my classroom set up this week.

Papers are from Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs and the font is Ray of Sunshine from KG fonts.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


Feelings can be such a hard thing for kindergarten kiddos.  They have very strong feelings and opinions about things, but don't always know how to appropriately express them!  Our second unit of the year (so in week 3) we start to focus on feelings for a couple weeks.  My kiddos really loved my fill-in-the-blank informational books last year, so I decided to start off this year with a feelings book.

Students will fill in the feeling word on each page based on the picture on the page. The feeling word is labeled for easier copying.  I think it is valuable for them to write the word themselves, which is why I created these as fill-in-the-blanks.  They will also draw in the facial features on a blank face to show that feeling.

A second version of each page is available where children have the opportunity to write a time they felt that particular feeling.  

Be sure to stop by Diane's blog: Spreading Joy...One Giggle At A Time and enter her giveaway for some back to school social stories to help your students establish rules and manners. Sometimes feelings can get in the way with these things too!

We start back tomorrow, but because we do conferences with each family prior to school starting, our kiddos don't start until next week.  I will have the opportunity to meet them beginning this Wednesday though.

How do you help your students learn more about expressing their feelings and understanding the feelings of others?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Made It {August 10}

I really thought I was going to be better about Monday Made It than I was this summer. The creative juices didn't seem to come until the end of summer, which is a bummer.  At any rate, here I am today linking up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics.

Our district adopted Eureka Math (Engage NY) this year.  We piloted Go Math last year, but obviously that didn't make the cut.  We were impressed with Eureka Math when we tried out a few lessons at the end of the year, but the prep work is no joke!  I've been working with one of my teammates off and on throughout the summer to get the templates copied and ready to go.  One of the things we needed were rekenreks.  We decided to whip up a set and have them ready to go.

Materials needed were: black pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, red beads, white beads and hot glue gun. 

We started by cutting the pipe cleaners in half.  Then we strung 5 white beads and 5 red beads on each pipe cleaner piece.  The next step was to wrap the ends of the pipe cleaners around the popsicle sticks.  We put 2 pipe cleaner pieces on each stick- this made 20 beads per rekenrek.  The beads didn't have a ton of room to move, but you could see the division between the 2 sets of beads, so we went with it.

In the picture above, you will see a pipe cleaner stick attached to 1 popsicle stick.  Another popsicle stick was attached to the other side by twisting the pipe cleaner around it.

The last step we did was to glue a popsicle stick over the top on one side to make them a little more stable.  It took 3 of us about 2 hours to create 65 of these.  We were working on a few other things in the meantime too (printing things and retrieving them mainly).  We are looking forward to using these in math this year!

I've made lots of baked goods too, but no photos.  Hopefully I'll be back next week with my classroom completed and ready to go.  We start next Monday (no kids yet though).

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back to Work

It seems that I've taken a bit of an unintended break through the month of July.  Other than writing about I Teach 1st back at the beginning of the month, I've kind of been on a hiatus. It has been a relatively relaxing month spent with family and friends.  I've had a little project in the back of my mind since school was out in May, and this afternoon, I finally felt like working on it.  It felt good to get it put together.

My kiddos love these little fill-in-the-blank books.  We used the animal characteristics books in the spring and the human body book last fall.  The seasons come up relatively early in our year, so I wanted to get this one done before we headed back.  Keep reading to try to a win a copy for yourself.

We work 2 days next week for some professional development then are off for a week before going back "officially".  I intend to get as much out of those last few days of summer as I can!

I made it with the option of having each season be its own book or put all 4 together in one book.  Have you used Kari Bolt's clipart?  If not, check it out; I just love her kiddos!

I'm sure you've probably heard; TpT is having their big back to school sale on Monday and Tuesday. Get your wish list ready to go; my shopping cart is full!

Comment below and tell me your favorite season and what you love about that season.  Don't forget to leave an e-mail address so I can contact you.  I'll choose a winner on Sunday night.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

I Teach 1st {Day 4}

I seems as if day 4 just kind of disappeared as it took me a while to write about it!  After leaving Vegas, we headed on a little vacation to the CA coast visiting Ventura and Santa Barbara.  My highlight was a gluten free bakery in Santa Barbara as I found out about 3 months ago that I have a wheat allergy that was causing all kinds of digestive issues.  We also visited Palm Springs and a quick day trip to the Grand Canyon before flying home from Vegas.  It was a whirlwind, but many happy memories were made.  Back to day 4...

I attended Jack Hartmann's session first thing that morning. I had the opportunity to attend his keynote 4 years ago, and this did not disappoint either.  It was fun to see teachers up and dancing/moving at 7:45am!  Two new songs I learned were "Connect with a Friend & Freeze" and "Pow Wow". I think my kiddos would love both of these.  I have the "connect" song on a CD I already own, so we will definitely be checking that out when I head back to school.  It reminded me how much fun my kiddos can have with his songs while still practicing some important skills.  I was reminded of lessons in sequencing such was with the Silly Rock Star Song or The Silly Pirate Song. I know that my kiddos would love to practice sequencing using these!

Silly Rockstar Song
I also attended a session with Shannon Samulski.  I had never been to one of her sessions, but they came highly recommended from other presenters, so I wanted to make sure I checked out at least one.  The session I attended was about connecting literature and math.  I loved her idea of a "math salad bar".  This way of organizing math manipulatives and materials was meant to give students the opportunity to choose their own manipulatives and tools to complete math work.

She spent a lot of time talking about performance tasks and how math isn't just about answering a simple question.  Many of these ideas were similar to what I heard Eliza Thomas talk about earlier in the week, but more resources and ideas were presented.  One site was Georgia's Math site.  Not only are there lesson ideas, but there are plans and assessments as well.  Using the free resources section of her website will give you many more ideas as well!

The rekenrek made from skinny dowel rods, popsicle sticks (fat ones) and beads used to count the coins Alexander lost throughout her reading the book Alexander, Who Used to Be Rich Last Sunday.

I hope you've picked up some ideas along the way and learn something new from my 4 days in Vegas at I Teach 1st.  It was a wonderful week of learning and chatting with other teachers, and I was so blessed to be able to attend with 2 teacher friends.  I would not hesitate to attend again!

Photo booth at the blogger meet up.  Holly and Rachel attended I Teach 2nd.