Open House

Oh. My. Goodness. I am EXHAUSTED! I have been racing around like a crazy person all week long!! I am seriously thankful for my yoga class tonight! We had inservices on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and Open House on Wednesday night. Open house went great! I met almost all of my kiddos, and I think I'm going to have a good group this year! I keep forgetting to bring my camera to show off my classroom, but here's s picture taken on my phone right before the kiddos came.

Take note, friends. This is the cleanest my classroom will be for the rest of the year.... yeah, working on that... We're off now until Tuesday. The plan is to take a quick trip to the teacher store, do next week's lesson plans at home, go in for a few hours either Sunday or Monday, and enjoy our last weekend of summer.


Back to School Books Part 2

Blog Hoppin' is hosting a back to school books linky party!

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about some of my favorite Back to School books here, but I just got an awesome new book that I want to share with you.
This book is seriously amazing! It's about a boy named Pete that comes to a new class and immediately starts teasing his classmates. They explain to him that their class promised to be respectful to each other, solve problems peacefully, and that nobody would stand by and accept bad behavior. Pete continues to bully his new classmates, but the cool thing is that they continue to try to include him in their group despite his bad behavior! Then one day Pete squirts Ruby's juice box on her shirt, and she has had enough. She tries to get all of her classmates to gang up against Pete and ignore him for the rest of the year. But what happens? All the other kids all stand up to Ruby! They all remind her of the promise. After a while, Ruby apologizes and Pete starts to come around too. At the end of the book, there is a little blurb about bystanders and also gives The Promise that was mentioned in the book.

I've read other bullying books, but this one is just so different. I just LOVE the part about teaching and encouraging kids to stand up for each other. If a bully doesn't have an audience and if kids stand together against the bully, hopefully we can stop bullying in our schools. This is definitely a book to have on your shelf and to read several times a year.

One more day until I officially have to go back! We're off to the zoo tomorrow for our last hurrah! Have a great night! :)


Linky Party: Teacher Week--Therapeutic Thursday

I've been seeing lots of people linking up for Teacher Week at Blog Hoppin', but I've just been so preoccupied with getting my classroom ready to link up. Today's topic seems like a good one, since I'm taking the rest of the week off from my classroom. 

After a stressful day, these two faces sure do help!
This is from the Memorial Day parade. Aren't they CUTE??

Another stress reliever for me is ice hockey. I've been playing since I was 10 years old. Nothing like speeding down the ice, fighting for the puck, shooting, and SCORING!! Seriously, when I'm on the ice, all my stress vanishes. I can't wait for this upcoming season!

Culver's helps too... Culver's is a Wisconsin-based fast food restaurant, although I think they've expanded to other states. If you ever come to WI, go to Culver's! I like the cheese curds and the custard, specifically cookie dough, peanut butter cup, or a turtle.

And when all else fails... you can't beat a glass of wine and some mindless reality television! I like sweet white wines (riesling, pinot grigio, moscato...), and as for reality TV, the list is endless... Project Runway, Top Chef, Hell's Kitchen, Design Star, The Next Food Network Star, HGTV, TLC, ANTM... I have no shame.

What do you do to relax after a stressful day?


Sneak Peek

I have spent the last three days (and two days last week) in my classroom, and I was hoping to be done today so I could show it off to you...

I'm not done. 

Oh well.

I'm kind of ADD, so I have 15 projects going on, and probably only 3 of them need to get done before Open House next Wednesday. Yeah, that's how I roll. And I'm OK with that. But hey, I have all my reading calendars and birthday book pages done for the entire the year! My classroom library is completely reorganized and leveled, and I took everything out of my wardrobe cabinet and reorganized it. Because, you know, that's what's important to get done before Open House...

Anyway, here's a little taste of what's going on in my room:
THE LAMINATOR IS WORKING!!!!! JUMP FOR JOY!!!!! I wanted to hug the laminator repairman when I saw him fixing it yesterday, but he was kind of grumpy looking, so I refrained. I did, however, hug our secretary; I was just so happy! I laminated my hippo flags and hung them up today. What do you think?  Also note the newest planet... the clock between Earth and Mars! That always makes me smile :) Oh, and don't mind all my junk on the reading table.

Here's my new Daily 5 and CAFE board. I pinned this, and when I downloaded it, I found I could edit it. I'm obnoxiously color-cordinated and all things reading-related are green in my classroom. So I changed the shadow from blue to green. I also changed the font and the words to match the vocabulary we use at my school. Then I made the Daily 5 sign and all the station cards. You'll notice there are six... that's because I added a computer station to incorporate Compass into Daily 5. Then I mounted the cards on green card stock and laminated them. I don't have any strategy cards on the CAFE board because I put them up as I teach them. I also have the kids decorate them. This project is about 75% my creation :)

Here's my calendar area. Honestly, I'm not too big on calendar routines. I'd much rather go right into a subject area. I don't have a September name plate up because I have the kids make them. The white card (that's randomly at the top of the calendar) is used to mark the current date. The pig is new this year. I'm going to have my calendar helper put some coins on him every day and we will count them. I also added the white "Days in School" activity. I found it on Pinterest, but here's the direct link. I liked the idea of using expanded notation to reinforce the concept of place value. The yellow pocket chart isn't new to me; you add a straw for each day of school and regroup the 1s and 10s as necessary. I will share the "What's the Scoop?" and empty ice cream cone with you at a later time :)

I'm taking the next few days off because I deserve it. I'll be working at home on some things, but I'm not going in to school. Inservices start next Tuesday. Sad that summer's coming to an end, but excited to get back into the school routine and meet my new bunnies!


My Monday Made It... Sorta...

I missed last week's Monday Made It because my projects weren't quite done yet.  Fast forward to this week and they're still not done... Our laminator at school is down for the count :( I'm debating if I should hold out until it gets fixed or if I should go to the teacher store and pay to get them laminated. I'm kind of cheapfrugal, fiscally responsible, so I'm thinking about waiting for the school laminator to get fixed. I also worked on a little sewing project for my son and a crochet project for myself. Thanks to Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for hosting.
For my Classroom:
The awesome Cara Carroll at The First Grade Parade is sharing her schedule cards FOR FREE! My old schedule cards were super boring and definitely needing an update. Here are the new ones:

Academic subjects or classroom activities are mounted on blue card stock. Specials and special activities are mounted on red card stock. I don't know if the kiddos will notice that, but it makes me happy. Once they're laminated, I will put magnets on the back to hang them on the white board. Here's my awesome secret!! Use business card magnets like these instead of the magnet roll! Ugh, I despise the magnet roll!  They never stay on, don't lie flat, and they're too thick. Business card magnets, while more expensive than the magnet roll, are thinner, stronger, and don't come off. You can cut them to size or use it as-is. I have hung up full sheets of heavy poster board with just four business card magnets! Go get yours today!!

My second project is something decorative for my room. I have six windows on the inside of my classroom that overlook a common area we call the Breakout. After seeing lots of pins and posts about pennants, I wanted to make hippo pennants to spice up the windows. Surprise, surprise... they don't sell hippo scrapbook paper. So I just bought a few different patterned papers that I thought went well together and glued some hippo sticky notes I have onto some of the flags. Again, no laminator, so it's not quite done yet, but I'll be sure to share the final product when I hang it up in my room. I plan on tying them together with some light blue ribbon. This project only cost me $4! Sweet!

OK, last thing for the classroom. This is a black side table I bought for $13 at WalMart to put next to my reading chair on the carpet. I plan on putting my teaching supplies on it, so that I don't leave a pile of it on the counter behind the chair. It was cute, but it needed some pizazz, so I bought some argyle duct tape to spruce it up. See below:
I am seriously in love! I carried it around the school to show it off to anyone I could find LOL! Too bad I could only find about four people. But they were all impressed! I just bought another bookshelf that I'm going to put the argyle on, and I'm looking for more places in my room to add it.

For my Littles:
Going back to school for me means going back to school for the Littles. I realized that my son sleeps on a cot every day with no pillow :( So I bought him a travel pillow at WalMart, and he picked out some fabric so I could make him some pillowcases. When I went off to college, my mom (who is a fabulous quilter!) made me themed pillowcases... I had one for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentines Day... she even made me a hippo pillowcase (yes, this hippo obsession is not a phase. Hippos and I go waayyyy back!), so I thought it would be sweet to do the same thing for my son. Here they are!

They seem so simple, don't they? HA! It took me much longer than I had anticipated. Probably because I didn't have a pattern. Don't tell my mom. She's always hassling me about having a pattern, but no no, I don't need no stinkin' pattern... OK, maybe I did. Oh well.

For Me: 
The last thing I did has actually been in the works for months now. I LOVE winter accessories (probably because I'm cold all. of. the. time.), and last fall I was at Gap and fell in love with an infinity scarf. I did not love the price... $35 (remember the above-mentioned "fiscally responsible-ness?" Yeah...). I decided I would make my own. I found these super cute mittens, but there was no matching scarf or hat. So I went to Joann's and found some matching yarn for $4 a skein and started to knit a ribbed scarf. I kept dropping stitches and losing count; I think I might have pulled it out and started over three or four times! I gave up, so the yarn hid in the closet for 8 months until I spotted it last week. This time I decided to crochet it so I wouldn't have to think too hard. I used a basic double crochet stitch, and before I sewed the ends together, I twisted it just like the fancy schmancy Gap scarf. Here's how it turned out:
Yessss!! I have a skein of yarn left, so I think I'll whip up a newsboy hat to match it. Better get it done now before school starts!

Yikes! This was a long post!! Well, I'm off to my classroom. I have a mountain of books waiting to be leveled and sorted...


Today I went to my classroom for the first time this year!!  I walked in, and this was what I saw...
Oh boy. I have a lot of work to do. It's kind of hard to tell, but all my stuff is piled on top of the counter in between the windows. We have to stack all our stuff at the end of the year on the counter so the cleaners can shampoo the carpets and wax the floors.
Here's the view from the corner, where my wardrobe cabinet is. Sorry the pictures aren't all that great. I took them with my phone. Today my goal was just to put all that stuff away that's on the counter. I also wanted to organize and put away the random stuff I crammed on the shelves underneath the counter.

This view isn't so bad. I'm standing in the corner where my sink is.

And the last corner of the room. All those windows look out into a common area we call the Break Out. There are six classrooms around the breakout: three 1st grade and three 2nd grade. We have about 25 computers and tables for small groups to work out there. 

Today I did pretty well. I spent the first hour or two just staring at it, trying to figure out a new way to arrange the furniture. My new teammate was at school today too, and it was really helpful to brainstorm ideas with her. And when we didn't know what to do, we just went over to her room to problem solve over there! :) My goal was to put everything where it belongs. I'm about 90% done with that... just a few odds n ends that need to be put away. Tomorrow's goal is to hang up my posters and organize my books, desk area, and wardrobe closet. I'll post more pics tomorrow!

Writing Standard-Driven Lesson Plans

When I first started teaching, I would find a cute activity and build my lesson around it. And a "unit" consisted of a bunch of activities strung together. Yes, I was hitting my benchmarks and standards, but I'd find an activity and think, "Oh, that's cute. What standard does that fulfill?" 

It wasn't until a few years later that I was sitting in a professional development workshop and discovered that I was doing it all backwards. 
Rather than making cute activities fit your standards, this blog post teaches how to start with your standards, write lesson goals/objectives, and then build the lesson from there.


Monday Made It x2

Linking up again for Monday Made It. Today I'm sharing something I made for my classroom AND the things I (we... the hubby did help out as well) made for my son's 3rd birthday party.

There are SOOOO many things I need/want to do for my classroom, but I can't wrap my brain around it all just yet.  I will find out this week when I can get into my classroom, and until then, I'll just keep working on these cutesy projects!
I've been seeing Welcome Back gifts flying around Pinterest.  I usually give out pencils, which I have now deemed to be boring.  I was inspired by this pin to make this little Back to School gift. I created this 'O"fish"al Second Grader' label, mounted it on blue tag board, cut it out with funky scissors, and then stapled it on a snack-sized bag of Goldfish. Not super difficult, but still cute. I'm planning on giving them out at Open House.

I can't believe my sweet baby boy will be THREE YEARS OLD on Wednesday!  We had a construction truck themed party, per the request of the Birthday Boy. About a month ago, we went to another birthday party where they used a store-bought piñata. The 3 and 4 year olds tried with all their might, but the parents had to intervene with a golf club to bust this thing apart. So I decided to make the piñata for our party. I used 3 cereal boxes and a fruit snacks box and taped it together with clear packing tape. Here it is:

Then I papier-mached it. I used a mixture of 2 parts flour to 3 parts water and dipped strips of newspaper in it. The papier-mache was meant to seal where the cardboard pieces were taped, so that it wouldn't open until we wanted it to. It took FOREVER to dry. I may have used a hair dryer to speed up the process. Here's how it looked after papier-mache... notice the lovely plan I drew on it in step one is now completely covered... not the smartest thing I've ever done:

Next I cut up tissue paper into squares. I wrapped each square around my finger, dipped the end in glue, and stuck it onto the piñata. Shout out to the hubby (who was shaking his head throughout the entire process) for helping me out during this step! Here's the final masterpiece:

I just LOVE it!  Here are some photos from the party:
First we tried the foam baseball bat...

 Then we used a hockey stick.
Ultimately, my dad stepped in to break it. If I were to do it again, I probably would skip the papier-mache step and just use more tape at the seams.  It took me many hours to make, and I was a little sad when I saw my hard work being demolished, but the kids' smiles made up for it!

My husband was in charge of these. He used sticker letters to put the kids' names on the hats. He also spray painted treasure chests we got at the party store to look like lunch pails. He also put their names on them. We had stickers and construction truck toys in the lunch pails, and the kids also put their candy from the piñata in there.

We had a great birthday party!
Thanks to Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for organizing Monday Made It!  Have a great week!! :)

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