Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Naughty Leprechaun

Oh friends, I am so, SO excited I get to celebrate St. Patrick's Day with my class this year! For the last several years we have always been on spring break when St. Patrick's rolls around.  In fact, the last time I blogged about St. Patty's day was 2012! You can read that post HERE, but I've come a long way since then! 

This year, St. Patrick's Day is the day before spring break! The perfect time to have lots of fun! We'll be leading up to the big day with a special story - The Naughty Leprechaun Story

We'll read the tale of the two brothers and learn all about consequences, making good choices, and having morals. The book focuses on creating your own luck through hard work and determination and not relying on random chance. It's full of beautiful, funny illustrations and I know my students will love it. Then for three nights, our classroom will get a special little visitor. 

Will it be Liam the good or Leyland the naughty? My  class will get to decide if they have had good behavior. Then, on the fourth day - we'll have our  celebration! And when our celebration is over - SPRING BREAK! 

The Naughty Leprechaun story came with a gorgeous gold coin with one brother on each side. We'll leave it out each night showing our choice of visitor. Here are some ideas for each brother: 

I am hoping that on the last night, my students choose a visit from Liam. If they don't, I'll certainly try to persuade them that way. He'll be leaving them everything they need for a classroom celebration - craft stupplies to make leprechaun hats to wear and rainbow stained glass art for our windows, a leprechaun movie, and a special breakfast snack of lucky charms and green milk! 

I'd love to hear how you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the classroom! 

You can find The Naughty Leprechaun Story - 

Would you like to win your own copy of the Naughty Leprechaun Story? Enter below! 

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

100 Days Smarter

100 Down! 80 more to go....

We kept our 100th Day celebrations fairly simple as my Kindergartners need high structure, and a change in routine can throw off our day. We did however, inject some 100th day fun into our normal schedule whenever possible. 

During reading we read "The Night Before the 100th Day" and my students shared their projects with the class. They had some amazing collections! These are just a few. 

We learned a poem about the 100th Day and added it to our reading notebooks. This is from Kindergarten Smiles' Poetry Pack. 

During writing we read "Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge" and my students wrote about what they might be like when they are 100. 

During math we played race to 100. This game is super simple. The kids took turns rolling the dice, counting how many dots they rolled, then we colored in that many spaces on our 100s chart, counting all the way up to 100. 

Finally, we made our 100th day Trail Mix. 

Our mix consisted of Cheerios, Chex, Froot Loops, Marshmallows, Raisinettes, M&Ms, Goldfish, Skittles, Gummy Bears, and Pretzels. 

I set up 10 stations around the room with paper plates. Each plate had a different snack on it. 

The kids each had a placemat at their table and in a 'controlled chaos' method, filled their placemats with ten pieces of snack from each plate. 

I set some ground rules first - no running, no crowding around plates or pushing to get near one, and you must return your ten items to your placemat before going to another plate.  They did AWESOME with this, even my room mom was impressed. They were super quiet - focused on counting out ten of each item and returning it to their placemats. 

Once they had their placemat filled, my room mom and I double checked that they had ten of each (and that they got all ten snacks, no doubles) then I wrote their name on a baggie, had them fill the baggie with their snacks, and then stapled the label on. Super simple! 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Classroom Reveal!

Friends, I have a confession to make. It's nearly February and my room STILL isn't done. It's come a long way from the empty room I moved into, but there's still so much I'm hoping to do once I have more time and money. Before I show you how the room looks now, let's take a look at where I started! 

In case you missed my post back in August, here's a look at the room as I inherited it.

The room is big, but it was EMPTY. This was my first time getting to start over with a blank canvas, since the last room I moved into (my first job) had stuff all over the walls, the closet was filled, etc. Now, there are obviously things about the room that can't be changed. Walls are tan, cabinets and shelves are burgundy/brown, and those things just can't be changed. But I had a plan to bring lots of color and lots of fun into the room!

I was so inspired by Maria's room at Kinder-Craze and I knew i wanted to start with a black and white backdrop and then add lots of fun pops of color.  I made this little mood board over the summer, sketched out a floor plan, and started collecting fun, colorful accents to add to the room.

I knew there was no way my room was going to be completely finished by the first day of school (or even meet the teacher) but it needed to be functional and inviting for the kids. The first thing I did was arrange the existing furniture. The tables, carpet, etc. I quickly set up the student tables and hung some of my bright decorations like the pennant flags, birthday balloons and the giant tree.

Next I used some sillhouettes from School Girl Style to add some sweet touches to my cabinets.

I made some quick, no-sew curtains to cover up the long shelves under the windows that would primarily house supplies and otherwise create visual clutter.

I took an old hand-me-down student mailbox center and spray painted new life into it.

I'm used to cubbies, but mailboxes work just fine.

I had my husband put together a reading bench and I used bookshelves to establish our library area. My mom sewed a cushion cover that I put over foam so the kids would have somewhere comfy to read.

It took me FOREVER to organize our classroom library, but it was so worth it!

Then, I set to work tackling the bulletin boards. I hung my calendar and word wall first.

Then I hung some banners and covered the existing bulletin boards with happy cloud paper. I have to confess to you that all the pretty layered borders weren't completely finished until mid-October! They look so nice but they take forever!!

Once the bulletin board were covered the room was looking a lot better - bulletin board paper makes a huge impact! However, there was still a lot of wasted space on the tan walls, so I got to work building three more "fake" bulletin boards. First I hung a big one with chalboard clips to hang student work from, then I created two long, skinny ones to go above my front board and word wall to showcase my alphabet and number line.


Here's what my room looks like today! 
It's not done, but we've been living and learning in it for five months now and it's been fully functional. As I take you on a tour around the room, I'll point out the things I hope to have finished before the start of next year. 

When my students first walk in my room, they place their folders and reading bags into baskets on the counter to their left. Their mailboxes and dismissal chart are also there to the left immediately after entering. 

Clip chart - Sweet Kindergarten, Baskets - Dollar Tree, Book caddy - Lakeshore Learning

Following along that wall you run into our listening center, math book storage, and baskets for supplies like extra crayons, scissors, and dry erase markers. 

Stained Glass Mitten Craft - Kinder Craze

book boxes - target dollar spot, Pink sign holder - Michaels

Continuing down that wall is our library. It's divided off from the rest of the room by our reading bench. The library holds my leveled books, theme books, and my students individual reading boxes. It's also home to our book buddies. 

Book Bench - Lakeshore learning, Pillows - Ikea

Reading Posters - A Year of Many Firsts , Focus Banner - Amy Groesbeck, Subject headers - Learning in Wonderland, Objective Posters - Crockett's Classroom , Pink Fabric - Hobby Lobby

Book Boxes - Really Good Stuff, Lakeshore Learning, Big Lots, Target Dollar Spot, Clifford - Kohls, READ letters - Michaels, Book Box Labels - Kinder Craze, Polka dot carpet - IKEA, Purple Tub - Big Lots, Bench - IKEA, Bench cushion fabric - Hobby Lobby 

Continuing around the room from the library you come to the front of the room where our main white board and carpet are. The front wall is home to our Fundations alphabet, behavior chart, calendar, and classroom rules. I used Chalkola chalk markers to do all the chalk writing in my room and they are amazing! They go on nice and smooth, dry quickly, and produce a bright result that always looks great! 

Color Words - Kinder Craze, Rules Posters - Kinder Craze, Frames - Michaels, Calendar Set - Kinder Craze, Chalkboard - Target

On the far side of the front wall (the opposite corner from the door) is my desk area. Immediately in front of my desk is my pocket chart and word work center.

Pocket chart - Scholastic, Lanterns - Michaels

and then back behind is my desk. It's your pretty standard set up with a computer, and document camera. I try to keep it relatively clear, but this is what it looks like on any given day. I also have a media cabinet back there with pictures and inspirational quotes sitting on top. It's my happy little corner.

Frames - Michaels, Blessings print - Kinder Craze

Continuing along the wall opposite of the window is my guided reading area. The giant tree on my wall was made from Maria's tutorial at Kinder-Craze and it's one of my favorite parts of the room!

Continuing down that wall is my computer center, with the word wall on the board behind it, and our number line up top. All of the word wall cards are mounted onto magnets so they can easily be removed if the kids need them. The door to the far right goes to my next door neighbor's classroom. (As does the door behind my desk)

Number posters, Word Wall Headers, Sight words cards - Kinder Craze , Reading Poster - A Year of Many Firsts

Turning the corner to the back of the room we have the student work board I created, with my student's backpack hooks under neath. I used Chalkola chalk markers to write my students names on mini chalkboards clothespins, and I LOVE the final look!

Chalkboard clothespins - Michaels, Chalk Pens - Chalkola, Catching Snowflakes craft - A Year of Many Firsts

The middle of the back wall is an alcove. My bathroom, storage cabinets, writing center, center board, Ipad Center and Magnet Center are back there. The bright lanterns that hang from the ceiling are one of my other favorite parts of the room.

Chalkboard decal - Target, Chalk pen - Chalkola

The chairs at my writing center are ADORABLE - for a jungle themed room. But they are first on my list of things to finish up. I want to paint them the same bright, happy colors as my rule poster frames.

Lanterns - School Girl Style

Sillhouettes - School Girl Style

You can see that I have some open storage up on top of the cabinets. I'd like to replace all of those crates with black crates (or attempt to spray paint mine black) for uniformity and less visual clutter.

Chalkboard - Target, Chalk Pens - Chalkola, Silhouette - School Girl Style

Magnet center activities - Kindergarten Smiles

One of my other projects to be completed is finding some kind of way to jazz up my filing cabinets. I'm pretty sure spray painting is out of the question but I'm thinking maybe magnet border would do the trick. Up on top of them is our class compliments board.

Behind the filing cabinet is our garbage can and lunch box shelf, which brings you all the way back around to the door!

And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed your tour! I'm looking forward to completing some of the projects I mentioned, and having my room ready to go in August next year. 

A HUGE thank you to Chalkola for sending me their chalk pens to complete my room. They added the sweetest little touches all over the room! They can even be used on windows! Always remember to test a small area first, and they should only be used on a Non-Porous surface.  If you'd like to get your own Chalkola markers you can use code CHALK20A to receive 20% off.

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