Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Year Writing Project & Bulletin Board

Do you need an educational, but easy-to-use activity to do with your class when you return from the winter break? Do you have a bulletin board that needs updating? I have the perfect solution for you...

{This is a repost from last year, but the timing seemed right for an encore ;) }

This is a favorite New Year's Writing Project that I've now done a few times with my classes. 

This kit was created to be used by teachers in grades K-5. The materials are all differentiated for you and were designed to make modifications easy within your classroom. You can also use it year after year even if you change grade levels.

I recently completed this activity with my third graders in school as well as my first grade son at home. The differentiated pages and templates that are included made it a perfect activity for both.

This is a great activity for the month of January as it focuses on resolutions or as I referred to them with my class...goals.

After editing with the teacher, the students wrote their final copies. I always try to culminate our writing projects with a simple art project. These pages include adorable colored clipart, but I opted to print them in black and white, photocopied them and let the kiddos color them in. We then mounted them onto construction paper and glittered the edges (because I'm fancy like that).

Included in this 15 page kit you will find the following New Year's-themed items:



-a primary brainstorming page to collect ideas
-an intermediate brainstorming page to collect ideas
-a 3 detail web to organize writing
-a single detail web to organize simple paragraph writing
-primary-ruled draft paper
-intermediate-ruled draft paper
-primary-ruled final product paper
-intermediate-ruled final product paper
-a simple sentence activity page with space to illustrate for our -youngest learners





This year I hung them on my classroom door because I had some adorable owl writing to put up on my bulletin board in the hall. I displayed them as is, but the past few years I've done the board shown above using blowers and party hats. I've also taken photos of the students wearing party hats and using the blowers to display with their writing which is super cute too!

Happy New Year Friends!

Are you making any resolutions for 2013?keywords: classroom organization tips classroom organization ideas classroom organization supplies classroom storage classroom management classroom arrangement classroom organization skills organization ideas for the classroom organization ideas for teachers organization ideas for elementary classrooms decluttering a classroom declutter classroom kindergarten first grade second grade third grade fourth grade fifth grade sixth grade preschool 1st grade 2nd grade 3rd grade 4th grade 5th grade 6th grade easy bulletin board ideas projects New Year's back to school



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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.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Pre-Vacation Ditty for Teachers :)

For those of you who jumpstarted the winter break already...I'm jealous. 
For the rest of us who will head into the classroom tomorrow morning for one final, crazy, sugar-plums-dancing-in-their-heads kind of day before the vacation begins, I bring you a catchy little ditty.

Christmas in an Elementary School
( Sung to the tune of Winter Wonderland)

Children scream, they're not listnen'
When they go, we won't miss em',
In all of this pain, we try to stay sane,
Workin' in an elementary school.

Christmas comes they're excited,
Though our nerves they've ignited,
They're off of the walls; they run in the halls,
Workin' in an elementary school.

In the lunchroom we can hear them yellin'
And we know that they are really wound.
Someone hits, the other says, "I'm tellin'!"
And that is when our heads begin to pound.

Pretty soon we'll be restin'
Cause our nerves, they've been testin'
We're happy it's clear,
It just comes once a year
Christmas in an Elementary School!


 A few years ago, I changed the words a bit and took my class "caroling." You could have some fun with that tomorrow...



December in an Elementary School
( Sung to the tune of Winter Wonderland)

Children scream, we're not listening
these crazy days, you won't miss em',
In all of this pain, you try to stay sane,
December in an elementary school.

Christmas comes, we're excited,
Though your nerves, we've ignited,
We're off of the walls; we run in the halls,
December in an elementary school.

In the lunchroom you can hear us yellin'
And you know that we are really wound.
Someone hits, another says, "I'm tellin'!"
And that is when your heads begin to pound.

Pretty soon you'll be restin'
Cause your nerves, we've been testin'
You're happy it's clear,
It just comes once a year
December in an Elementary School!






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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Organizing With Pretty Baskets & Files {Coffee & a Clever Idea}

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Who knew files could be so visually appealing? I really like the combination of the pretty Lined Basket and the decorative file folders. Obviously, I wouldn't store all of my files this way, but a basket like this would be great of action items (to be filled out, copied, returned, corrected, etc) or for emergency sub plans or for daily copies and materials



Join me each weekday morning for coffee & a clever idea. 

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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, December 17, 2012

Classroom Organization Board {Coffee & a Clever Idea}


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I want this for my house. I want this for my classroom. I love one stop shopping and this board has it all in one central location. I'm also a huge fan of vertical storage and this fits that bill as well. It can be made super cheap and customized to match your classroom theme or color scheme.
Join me each weekday morning for coffee & a clever idea. 

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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Teaching Through Tragedy


I'm sure so many of you are trying to make sense of the Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy. 

It hits close to home because, as teachers in elementary schools, it is far too easy to visualize.  Despite feeling like we work in safe environments we know deep down that we are never entirely safe anywhere and this makes that feeling all the more real.

While my heart breaks for that community, I also feel an overwhelming sense of pride in our colleagues at that school.

In regards to Sandy Hook, Columbine and Virginia Tech each of the assailants were known individuals with a relation to the environment in which the tragedies occurred. Security measures (cameras, locked doors, id checks, etc) to keep outside intruders out of the building would not necessarily prevent the situations from occurring. From the limited information that has been released since yesterday it is easy to see that the faculty and staff at Sandy Hook had a crisis protocol in place, a lockdown procedure to follow, and a staff that was dedicated, brave and as prepared as they possibly could be. As horrific as the situation was, it appears that actions were taken that prevented it from possibly being much worse.

As I watched the news last night, I listened to a student speak about how bullets were firing around him and a teacher risked her own safety teacher to come out into the hall and pull him into her classroom.

I read about a teacher who locked herself and her class into a small bathroom or closet and refused to open the door for the police until they slid their badges under the door because she was afraid it was a gunman. 

Another teacher explained how she locked the door, pulled the shades and ushered her students to the furthest corner where she calmly read them a book and told them they were all together and they were safe.

Rockstars!  True heroes!

As teachers in classrooms around the country we will be feeling the aftermaths of this tragedy. If your school doesn't already have a lockdown procedure in place I'm sure it soon will. If it does, it will most likely be improved and tweaked.

Do you have ideas to improve the safety at your school? Share them with administration. Propose a plan in writing. Find a way to make a difference. 

We're also going to need to be sensitive to our own little ones when they arrive on Monday.

We have no way of knowing how much media coverage they will have been exposed to over the weekend.  

At home we are keeping the TV off and not talking about it in front of our 2nd grade son. I know that will not be the case in all homes which means he may get an earful when he arrives on the playground on Monday morning. For that reason, my husband and I are deciding what, if anything, we want to tell him ahead of time. Do we want to provide him with some facts so that he isn't overwhelmed by what he may hear from his peers and let him know that kids may be eager to talk about it without having the correct details? Do we want to just hope he'll be too busy playing innocently and won't catch wind of it?

That's unlikely.

A few years ago a trainer at Sea World was killed by "Shamu." I didn't even know about it. Yet, the next morning my class came into the room in a tizzy. Girls were crying. Boys were speaking "matter-of-factly" about the situation...except their "facts" were far from the truth. It came up again at lunch and that time Steve Irwin was brought into and then a new series of untrue "facts" were thrown around about him being eaten by an alligator (he was actually killed by a stingray). My point is that news often makes its way into the classroom and when it does it usually involves students who think they know the truth, students who drag everything related they can think of into the conversation and students who are wide-eyed, shocked and scared.

This matter is far more sensitive and "close to home" than Orcas and Alligators. We have lockdown drills at school. They know what it feels like to sit in a huddle in a silent, dark corner waiting to be told it is safe to turn the lights back on and resume a normal day. Like all of us, our students will be able to let their minds wander and picture themselves in a similar horrific situation. 

And our jobs on Monday morning will be to be prepared for dealing with it.

Personally, unless I am instructed otherwise, I do not intend to initiate a conversation with my class. But, I know it is naive to think it won't come up.

It will.

Most likely within the first 3 seconds of the day.

My suggestion would be to form a united front with the faculty and staff at your school. Send out an email over the weekend to administration and ask how they would like it handled. Decide as a team what, if anything, you will say to the children and how you will respond to their questions and side-conversations.  Encourage a staff meeting to be held prior to the start of the school day so that the entire faculty is on the same page.

Don't hesitate to contact parents during the day or immediately after school if you overhear a student saying something or if a child appears scared or concerned. Let the families know what you've observed so that they may support them at home.

Work as a staff to gather articles and resources to help parents cope with questions that may arise outside of school. Here are a few that may be helpful to you.


Please feel free to share any additional thoughts, ideas or resources that you feel would be helpful to other teachers in the comments here or on the Clutter-Free Classroom Facebook Page as a comment in the post related to this blog entry.





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Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Great Use for Holiday Cards {Coffee & a Clever Idea}

ORGANIZING YOUR PHONE CONTACTS


OK So this post isn't exactly a Clever Idea for your classroom, but let's be honest...when your this close to a school vacation your mind isn't exactly focused on the classroom anyhow. And this idea was far too fabulous not to share with y'all. 


I love, love, love when the Christmas cards start filling my mailbox. Even now when my friends' kids are plastered all over Facebook on a daily basis, I still heart seeing their adorable little mugs come out of a festive envelope. I love hanging the cards on the wall to stare at all month. I don't love taking them down. But, let's be honest it would seem odd to leave Christmas cards out all year.

That is why I find this idea to be brilliant. 

Use your phone to snap a pic of the pic and then use it with the sender's contact info. Then you can enjoy the cuteness all year long.



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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In Case You Were Wondering . . .


I've been away from the computer for a couple of days enjoying some much appreciated unplugged family time. I love being in my favorite place in the world with my favorite people in the world.

This was a bit of a spontaneous adventure.

My girls' school was closed for a conference day and I needed to take a personal day to be home with them. 

And then my gears started turning and I figured, "well, the twins and I will be home anyhow...maybe we should go to Disney for the weekend." 

It was beyond perfect.

I do have some fun things up my sleeve as we close out 2012, but mostly I am super excited to start sharing what is in store for 2013 with you when the ball drops and the calendar turns.  Needless to say, I've been filling my Blog Planner like crazy and am really looking forward to what the New Year will bring.

In the meantime, I'll be spending less time on the computer and more time with family enjoying the magic of the Holiday Season...mixed with the hustle and bustle of report cards and conferences  and present making for parents and trying to teach while sugar plums dance in their heads and the rest of the craziness that is December in a classroom.





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Sunday, December 9, 2012

SNOWMEN

In an ironic twist, this post is about books about cold and snow and it goes up I am enjoying being away from my home climate of cold and snow and am enjoying a couple days of sun and warm temps in the low 80s in Florida. Yesterday I shared how I like to include lots of Gingerbread activities in my classroom in the month of December because it offers non-denominational seasonal fun. The same is true for snowmen. There are so many fabulous crafts and writing ideas that springboard from snowmen. Like the Gingerbread, I'll soon be showing off what's going on in my classroom with a snowman theme, but I wanted to take a minute to share some of my favorite snowman-themed books to gather.


The Hawaii Snowman by definitely has a Christmas theme so if you are opting to include snowmen in your classroom in place of Christmas then this would not be the best choice. But, if you are OK with a little ho-ho-ho in the classroom or if you are looking to gift a book to a child, this is an option that should not be overlooked. The illustrations are breathtaking and the storyline is a springboard for great discussions on character and selflessness. This is an image from inside the book. Click on the book cover on the left to view additional glimpses into the book.


The Biggest Snowman Ever by Steven Kroll should win a "Too Cute Award." It's about mice who enter a snowman contest. The book lends itself to writing and math extensions.



The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg would complement a study of snowmen or mittens quite nicely. It's a delightful story about a little girls who makes a snowman and loses her mitten in the process. It takes us through her imagination of what could have happened to it and ends in a sweet way.



Have you met Sneezy the Snowman ? He's hysterical. This is one of those fun books with a refrain that has all the little listeners joining in during a read aloud. Sneezy is very cold and his attempts to warm up result in a puddle. But children rally around him and lend a friend a hand. 




 All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle is a great book to add to your collection if you plan to have your kiddos do any process writing about how to build a snowman. It's a simple, easy read, but will be helpful in building schema for those friends who may have never built a snowman.

Snowmen All Year by Caralyn Buechner is a follow-up to the other books in the series (Snowmen at WorkSnowmen at Christmas and Snowmen at Night), but this one is my favorite. It's about a snowman that doesn't melt and the adventures he goes on with his human friend. I'll definitely be having my students write their own stories inspired by this book. I see a bulletin board in my future.


Speaking of bulletin board...do you want to make a gorgeous and creative one? Snowballs by Lois Ehlert will deliver just the inspiration you need to get your little friends making collage masterpieces out of found objects.  

And of course writing about their work. Because that's how we roll.



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.

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