Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Binder to Increase Interest in Books During Reader's Workshop {Clutter-Free Classroom's Clever Tips for Teachers} Tip #2


Are you looking for an easy way to get kids interested in books? I've noticed that my students are always eager to read books during our reader's workshop based on their peers suggestions, but don't always have time to do book talks or write reviews. I loved this idea when I saw it in the children's section of my local public library (one of my favorite places).

The librarians printed the covers and brief summaries of a collection of books and placed them into a binder. They also added a rating scale on each page. After reading a book, the child can add a star in one of the rows (ranging from 1-5) to show how much they liked it.

This is a great addition to a classroom where the readers are around the same reading level and often share the same interests. When using it in the classroom I suggest using small round stickers that the students can write their numbers on to show who rated each book and what rating they gave it.

Related links:




 



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Monday, April 14, 2014

Managing Dice During Math Workshop {Clutter-Free Classroom's Clever Tips for Teachers} Tip #1


I purchased these small plastic containers at The Dollar Tree. I believe there were 10-12 in the package. They are perfect for math games during guided math and math workshop rotations because they prevent the dice from rolling off the desks and tables and onto the floor. They also make put an end to tossing the dice high in the air (you know what I'm talking about). 

The students give the container a little shake and turn it over to see what they've rolled.



 



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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Easter Ideas


Please visit my Pinterest Boards if you are interested in seeing more ideas that I have collected and to read my comments and suggestions for using these.









Check out my Easter-themed Writing and Bulletin Board Packet. It is available a la carte or as part of my Spring Writing Pack 8-Packet Bundle at a reduced cost. Each of my writing packets are differentiated for grades Pre-K through 5th which make it easy to make modifications to meet the needs of every learner in your classroom.



The Night Before Easter is another one of Natasha Wing's spins on 'Twas the Night Before Christmas (I featured her St. Patrick's Day version last week). I like reading books with a familiar feel to kids. I ordered this from Scholastic for my son's first Easter and we still enjoy reading it each year around this time. The rhythmic language is appealing to little ones. The kids will have fun looking for the eggs on each page.



Oh Splat the Cat, how you make me smile. And I don't even like cats. :)
Where's the Easter Bunny? is an interactive book with lift-up flaps that will appeal to your younger students.  The book asks the readers questions which further engages them and they enjoy looking for the Easter Bunny hidden throughout.

My-oh-my I adore Jan Thomas' books (
Rhyming Dust Bunnies is my absolute favorite). The Easter Bunny's Assistant is way too fun! The Easter Bunny and his assistant skunk set out to explain how to make Easter Eggs...however, the excitement makes skunk do what it is that skunks do. This is marketed as a book for 2-5 year olds, but it is such a fun book to read to older kids and pair it with a process writing activity.


The Bad Easter Bunny is another good thematic book for older students. In this story, the Easter Bunny is feeling that the recipients of his gifts are not being appreciative.  This upsets him and causes him to get all kinds of mischievous. This book is a nice conversation started for a class discussion about gratitude.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 4: Repair Worn Items part 2-Spring Cleaning in the Classroom {A Mini-Series to Spruce-Up, Clean-Up, and Freshen-Up Your Space}


On Day 3 of the Classroom Spring Cleaning Series we made a list of the items in our classrooms that needed to be repaired or replaced. Today we are going to spend some time taking care of the items on that list. This is not meant to be a complete classroom redesign. Instead you should just plan to spend 15-20 minutes making the needed improvements. 

Set your timer.

Review your list.


Cross off the items on the list as you complete them. If time runs out, make a plan to complete the items on your list as soon as possible.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Day 3: Repair Damaged & Worn Items-Spring Cleaning in the Classroom {A Mini-Series to Spruce-Up, Clean-Up, and Freshen-Up Your Space}


This next Classroom Spring Cleaning task is actually going to be spread out over two days (with a weekend in the middle to gather anything you need) to complete the job.

Today we are going to start addressing the areas of the classroom that looked so great on the first day of school, but have started to look a bit tattered and torn as the year has progressed. 

Set your timer for 15-20 minutes.

Grab a piece of paper and something to write with and have a seat in the middle of your classroom. Divide your paper into three columns and label them as: Repair / Replace / Gather. 

Just like on days 1 and 2 we are going to start in one corner of the room. The difference is that today you are going to travel visually around your room instead of physically. As you look around your room identify items that could use a little TLC. Be on the lookout for:
As you identify these things categorize them in one of the columns on your paper and jot down what your want to repair or replace as well as anything you may want to gather to complete the job (tape, new bulletin board border, etc).

If you still have time you can remove the items that you plan to take down or take care of quick fixes (i.e. restaple a falling item or straighten a crooked poster).

Otherwise tuck your paper into your purse and head out the door (TGIF after all). Plan to gather anything you need to make your repairs or replace worn items on Monday while you are out running errands this weekend.  


Want more tips, photos, and ideas for organizing your classroom? Check these out:

 



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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day2: Put Things Back Where They Belong-Spring Cleaning in the Classroom {A Mini-Series to Spruce-Up, Clean-Up, and Freshen-Up Your Space}

Today's Classroom Spring Cleaning task is to put things where they belong.

Once again the goal is to only spend 15-20 minutes at the most to complete this task and I recommend setting a timer to keep you focused and on task. 

I also suggest that you make the job efficient by enlisting the help of a couple of "runners" to move things along quickly. Make arrangements to have some reliable students come in early, stay after school for a bit or even stay in and give you a hand a recess. They will be honored to help and it will allow you to get the job done fast.

Pick a corner of the room to start with and move clockwise around the perimeter until you return to your starting point. This time your task is to take anything that is out of place and move it to its designated space in the classroom. 

As you find something that needs to be relocated hand it to a runner and have them return it to the proper location. Once you have made it around the room you can work on the areas in the middle. If you have extra time and eager helpers you could ask them to assist in the following:
  • organize bins of manipulatives, art materials, and classroom supplies
  • test markers/highlighters and discard of any that are dry 
  • check glue sticks and toss the ones that are no longer usable or missing caps
  • sharpen color pencils in community bins
Now that you have put everything back into place be sure to maintain the organization by playing Find It and Fix It with your class each afternoon.


Looking for more classroom organization tips, ideas and photos? Check out...

 



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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day:1 Purge Surface Clutter Spring Cleaning in the Classroom {A Mini-Series to Spruce-Up, Clean-Up, and Freshen-Up Your Space}


Do you want to know the absolute easiest way to get and stay organized? Get rid of anything you do not need. In addition to my Clutter-Free Classroom Guide, I’ve also written several blog posts about purging and decluttering your classroom and even have several free products available to help you with completely decluttering your classroom.

However, for the purpose of spring cleaning we’re simply going to tackle the surface clutter. While I do encourage you to tackle your classroom as a whole for a take no mercy purging session at some point, the point of the spring cleaning series is to take only 20(ish) minutes a day to rejuvenate your space.

Today we are going to fill a trash bag and/or recycling bin with anything that can be removed from the area. 


  • Pick a corner. Any corner will do. 

  • Set a timer for 15-20 minutes.

  • Moving as quickly as possible, travel in a clockwise direction around the perimeter of your classroom and discard of anything and everything that does not need to be there. You do not need to open any closets, drawers or cupboards. Simply go after the surface clutter you see on tables, counters and open-shelves. 

  • If things are broken, torn or worn make a fast decision on if you can repair it, if you will replace it, or if it is no longer needed. If it is one of the last two options then I recommend getting rid of the damaged item as you make your initial rotation around the classroom.

  • Once you have made it all the way around and back to your starting point head to the center of the room and continue filling your bag or recycling bin with anything else you see that you can part with.

Do not get distracted by things that you want to keep but are out of place. We’ll deal with them tomorrow. 



 



Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.