Wednesday, July 30, 2014

First Day Plans

So the first day of school is right around the corner, huh? Ah! The excitement....the anticipation.....the fear is setting in, isn't it?! Hahaha!!! It's really ok! We've all been there. The first day of school produces a myriad of emotions. Many times we are bummed about summer being over. But we are all excited for the new beginnings that a new school year brings! So - what are you going to do on the first day of school? Here is the plan that I have used for years (yes I've made tweaks). It seems to work for me. I love getting to sneak a peek at others' plans because, even if I don't follow them, they help me think about what it is that I will actually do in my own classroom. So, I thought I'd let you see my FIRST DAY PLANS! duh da duh!!!! And I will tell you that I literally use these plans word for word (although like any teacher there are times when I have to make adjustments). Each year brings a new crop of critters and sometimes their attention spans are longer or shorter...But regardless, I use very specific, detailed plans for the first couple weeks of school until I get back in my "groove"! :) Do what feels right for you! Of and be very leary of teachers that tell you they just "fly by the seat of their pants". Obviously good execution takes good planning. :)  

First Day Schedule Layout:
Playing Dora music as kids start coming in....(it helps make those new kinders feel a little more at ease :).
7:40-8:20ish - Kids and parents come in and find backpack hook, go to their table spot, and play with play dough. Parents are good at helping them get stuff put away and getting the play dough out. Sometimes, I leave coloring pages and crayons at the tables instead.
Ask parents:
*How they go home - I have parents actually put the tags on their backpacks (one less thing for me to do and less chance of me messing up)
*Lunch - I need their lunch money or place their lunchbox on the lunchbox table.
8:30ish - Teach the students how to come to the carpet. Then, have them come to carpet (some kids may be slow to clean - play powervideo video - Franklin Goes to School - first day fears for ones at carpet until we all get there). Introduce yourself and tell them you will learn lots of new things today in kinder.
Practice a few times how to go from table spot to carpet spot. Praise a good job and raise clips. (I am simply letting them see me move clips up - I haven't explain why yet).
8:45ish - send kids back to tables ......teach children bathroom procedures (in small groups) while others at their table coloring (use community tubs).
9:00-9:30 - Boys and Girls, we are going to learn something new called Marshamallow Mouth and Toes. Do you know what a marshmallow mouth is or what marshmallow toes are? (Of course they think that's hilarious - laugh with them). Show kids a bag of chips. Who likes chips? Give them a chip or 2 to eat....Listen. Does it make a lot of noise when you eat chips? Crunch Crunch (emphasize the noise). Show marshmallows. Who likes marshmallows? Do you think they will make a lot of noise or not a lot of noise? Give them each a big marshmallow. Listen. Discuss the difference.
When we leave our classroom to go somewhere like the lunchroom we will use marshmallow mouths and toes. I’m going to pretend to put a big marshmallow in my mouth. Do you think I will be making lots of noise or not? What if I put marshmallows on my toes? Would my feet make lots of noise or not?
Use marshmallow toes poem. Teach kids how to line up at the door. Remind them to put a marshmallow in their mouth and on their toes. Practice a few times. Teach marshmallow mouth and toes (do actions). Walk to cafe and teach how to get tray.
9:45 -10:15- Return to class (at seats, arms folded and heads down). Call kids to carpet by table - teach calendar procedure. use counting HeidiDVD (#1 and #2 songs and counting to 100 song)
10:15-10:30 - Read Pete’ Rocking in His School Shoes. Read and let kids show off their new shoes. Later on play video.
LUNCH/RECESS - Before you leave room check to make sure you aren’t leaving any lunch boxes. Make sure to have kids wear orange bracelets or name tags on way to lunch...easy to identify on playground. Make sure to teach kids signal to line up.
P.E. - have kids wear badges so they are easily identified (for you and P.E. teacher).
12:15 Return to room (arms folded, head down) Practice coming to carpet. *Read No David - but just enjoy, no talk of rules yet. Be sure to use clip chart alot for positive want them to like the clip chart. No one clips down the first day. They all go home with a certificate celebrating their first great day even if it wasn't really so great. :)
12:30- 1:00 - Table Centers. Boys and Girls we are going to learn something new now. We are going to learn how to do table centers. On carpet show kids the 4 or 5 table centers we will do (legos, playdo, lacing letters, or inside recess items). Demo what we can/cannot do with them. We can do this......We cannot eat them or throw them. We must share and keep them on the table. Return to tables (arms folded, head down)..... Begin centers. If a child throws or refuses to share - they automatically go to carpet spot and put head down - NO WARNINGS. When you rotate the tubs after about 15 minutes - you rotate tubs, not stay at their tables and get new table center. If a child had to sit out - they may go back to table and try again.
During centers, I will call kids in hallways to take 1st day photo( I’ll use for center cards).
1:00-1:20 Word Wall - Sing regular ABC song and then teach the Alphabet chant. You will be doing this by yourself as they stare at you. Introduce the www “I”.
Phonics - Queen of the Day (me) - introduce my name on the name board (make my name)
  1. write name on sentence strip
  2. read and spell name
  3. cut apart and fix - use the name that’s not cut to match and check the one you are putting together
  4. kids do
  5. Rainbow write first letter
1:20-2:00 Writer’s Workshop - Model me drawing a picture and writing my name. --no writing, picture only. Kids will do this. If I can, I will begin testing kids’ letter id. If they can write their name have them do that... Don’t worry if kids fall asleep. :)
2:00 - Begin End of Day Procedure. Teach how to use behavior chart -  send all back to seat and color with green. Teach how to slide in folder. Get Backpacks and double check how we go home chart.
If I run out of something to do:
*read a book
*teach a song (pinterest - first week of school)
*do math tubs
*color bubble names
*inside recess games
*handprint puzzles
*Show alphatub toys under Elmo - we name the object
Math Tubs - Teach about unifix cubes. What they are called? (getting that vocabulary for the manipulatives - they need to know their names). What we can do with them/cannot do with them? Kids spend time exploring unifix cubes. Come back to carpet and discuss what you built or did with the unifix cubes.
In the end -- if all student get fed and sent home the correct way - it will be a SPECTACULAR SUCCESS! Breathe deep, stop by your favorite fast food place, go home and sit in the quiet and eat! Everything else can wait!! :)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Marshmallow Mouths and Toes (freebie)

As teachers around the country head into the classrooms with kiddos we have so many things ahead  to teach these little people. It's a big job, but someone has to do it! So, over the next few weeks I will share some things I use to get my students' year off on the right foot.....

Do you know what a marshmallow mouth is or what marshmallow toes are? This concept is how I teach my kiddos hallway behavior expectations. Last year I found an adorable poster on Pinterest called Marshmallow Toes. I loved it, but I wanted a poster that demonstrates that when we are walking in the hallways we not only have "marshmallow toes" but also "marshmallow mouths"..... so I altered this little poem (I have no idea who came up with this gem of an idea and I saw different versions of it. If you know who to give credit to, please let me know so I can give proper credit because it is super sweet! :)

This is the lesson I created to use on Day 1 to teach hallway behavior.....
Show kids a big bag of chips. Ask, "Who likes chips?" They will all quickly agree they like chips. (Seriously, show kids food and you will definitely have their undivided attention!) Give them a chip or 2 to eat.... Tell them to listen carefully as they chew. "Does it make a lot of noise when you eat chips?" Crunch Crunch (emphasize the noise as you model crunching the chips with your mouth). Wow! Those chips sure are noisy!
Next show them a big bag of marshmallows. Ask, "Does anyone like marshmallows?" Of course they will all agree they like them. By this time they are just waiting for you to give them one. "Do you think the marshmallows will make a lot of noise or not a lot of noise?" Give them each a couple marshmallows (I actually like the HUGE ones). Remind them to listen as they chew.......yep it's MUCH quieter chewing marshmallows than chips. After you establish that marshmallows are QUIET, show them this poster:

Now tell the kids "When we leave our classroom to go somewhere like the lunchroom, we will use marshmallow mouths and toes. I’m going to pretend to put a big marshmallow in my mouth. Do you think I will be making lots of noise or not? (Physically do this and cram your mouth with a big marshmallow and try to talk (silently of course:0).....yes it's silly but that will make it even more memorable for the kiddos!......."What if I put marshmallows on my toes? Would my feet make lots of noise or not?" (pretend to do this as well....:0) The kids will giggle and love you for it....They will also get the message that marshmallow mouths and marshmallow toes means we are being quiet.
Teach kids how to line up at door. Remind them to put a marshmallow in their mouth and on their toes. Practice this a few times.
After this initial lesson, all I have to do is remind them "marshmallows on" and they know exactly what that means! :0)
How do YOU teach hallway expectations??

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Back-to-School with Lakeshore

Are you in love with Lakeshore as much as I am? Seriously - that place is TEACHER HEAVEN! It also can be dangerous to one's bank account too....but who cares about that... ;) Honey - don't check the bank account... it's fine... really! ;)

I love the Lakeshore Learning Store near me. It has everything from teacher materials to classroom decorations to arts & crafts... just everything to make an elementary teacher happy. I've learned over time that it also makes my momma side happy too.... lots of cool toys for birthdays and Christmas - things that make kids use their creativity ---not just poking around on an IPOD.

Recently, Lakeshore contacted me about doing a review for them...something that teachers might be interested in for back-to-school. I was super excited to try something out. I chose the Stretch & Connect Builders for Reagan. They looked like a neat twist on legos and blocks.

First thing: Lakeshore ships so fast! I think we had these things by the end of the week. I was shocked at how quick I got them. Reagan, like any boy, was super excited to see them. As we say in Texas, "He was in hog heaven!" ;) From the moment he saw the package, I knew he wasn't going to let these out of his sight!

And I was right - he didn't! In fact, his older brother couldn't even resist these builders.
In fact, I nearly had to fight to get them to put the builders away and go to sleep that night. :) hehehe

I have to admit... I even got into the action as well... they were so darned intriguing. 
Here is what you get....

You get these big straw like things.... called connecters. They bend and twist and locked into these plastic pieces of different sizes and shapes. It even comes with wheels to make vehicles. Your mind quickly gets to thinking of all these things you could make with the pieces.

Oh man... I not only saw Reagan make such wonderful things ....but he was using fantastic vocabulary while doing it. Anyone who says..."We can't PLAY with blocks in my kinder classroom." -- YES YOU CAN! And if your principal says no - take in research showing how academic BLOCKS can be. Reagan was counting, making shapes (2D and 3D), problem solving, using vocabulary and creativity by the bucketful!! 

He was also having fun and.... to him, THIS was meaningful!

Look at some of the many things he did with these blocks.....

Great fine motor work for little hands!! Plus, he loved that he didn't have to be gentle with these blocks. He could be a rough and tumble boy!

Look at that intense focus!

 Looks at that cube!!     

YEAH - Helicopter!!

YES!! This is my favorite picture! What creativity and problem solving!! These blocks are not only wonderful at home. They would be ideal for a kinder/1st classroom. If you don't use blocks during your center time....think about recess! How many kids would love to create during recess time!

Lakeshore is an amazing company that really makes our jobs as teachers and parents easier. And, they are having a Back-to-School Sale (now through Aug. 31) at Lakeshore Learning Stores nationwide featuring doorbusters up to 50% off and special in-store coupons! Or shop online at!  


Monday, July 14, 2014

Freebielicious Partnering with Educents...AGAIN!!

Are you ready for Back to School? Yay!! NO? That's not possible! After all, you had all summer off to do nothing right?

BWHAHAHA!!! We know better than that! If you are like most teachers you have been reading and learning nearly all summer, preparing your new classroom (or at least planning in your head), and missing your kiddos from last year. Right?

I love this time of year! It's so exciting - for teachers and students alike. And kindergarten is of course the BEST grade EVER! As a mom and a teacher, I always love hearing what new kinders think of school. Check out this super cute video asking new kinder kids about their first day of school:

Yes - back to school is a wonderful time. However, it can also be a little STRESSFUL.... ooopsss - I said the "S" word! Don't worry. Me and my girls at Freebielicious have teamed up with Educents with some instant downloads for you to make your teacher life less "S" word!

Loaded with great products for back to school including book studies, craftivities, classroom prep, and content materials for back to school!  With 23 instant downloads... you have to check it out!  

You AND your kiddos will love my product that's included! It's one of my best-selling products.
And, yes! Your students CAN love a behavior clip chart. Why? Because it's more of a motivational tool! Kids love seeing how well they can meet expectations (thereby 'climbing the colors'). Everyday students start their day on green - Ready to Learn. According to their choices, they can stay on green, move down, or move up! I always have move students move up than move down. It's a great visual for young children to see how they are doing. And, even if they mess up and move down.....they can recover and move right back up -- which is really what we want...students correcting their mistakes and ending the day on a good note! Plus - it's also perfect for those that are required to keep parents aware of behavior and keep documentation.

For a limited time only,  all 23 amazing Freebielicious products are bundled at $34.99 from Educents --69% off!  Twenty-three products for your kinder and first grade classrooms and over 1200 pages of materials from some of your favorite teachers!  It's a bundle you are sure to LOVE!

Take a moment to take a peek at some of the other teachers featured in this bundle - what that have going on for back to school and what they are featuring in this deal too!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Making Lemonade

One of my favorite summertime activities is making lemonade with my kiddos.

One of the reasons I love this is because it's super simple. Plus, it's super refreshing - especially when it's HOT, HOT, HOT in Texas.

Here's what you need:

1.  Cut a lemon in quarters and remove seeds.

2. Place 1 or 2 quarters of lemon in a Zip-loc baggie.

3. Pour 1/2 cup of water in the baggie.

4. Pour 1 tsp. of sugar in the baggie.

5. Squeeze the contents of the baggie. Be sure to squeeze the lemon pulp really well!

6. Insert a straw and enjoy!

See?? I told you it was super easy! So, run out and buy a couple lemons and make your own fresh lemonade... :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teacher Appreciation - Teachers Rock!!

Ah....the one time a year we finally get some appreciation.... We work so hard for all those little kiddies all year long. We know how important our work is and how we impact the future is one of the most special ways. 

So, to make your life a little easier, enjoy a special discount from TPT. As teachers ourselves we know how hard you work and how much of your own money you spend.

We'll have a big teacher appreciation sale on May 6-7th (Tuesday and Wednesday). Be sure to make time in your busy schedule to take a look. You may even want to start preparing for next year if you like to prep over the summer. Also, be sure to add the code "TPTXO" at checkout to get an additional discount from TPT. ;)

Here are a few items that I have in my store that you may be interested in:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Farfaria Giveaway

If you are like me, you try to stay up-to-date on all the new educational apps for kids. It's a difficult job because there are so many amazing ones out there. There's so many to chose from, some great, some no-so great.

Farfaria contacted me about doing a review of the Farfaria app and I agreed. All opinions in this post are mine. So here goes:

Farfaria is an Ipad storybook app. There are over 600 stories - all fully interactive and 5 new stories are added each week. Can I say that is pretty incredible? I mean....I'm a good mom and we have a good size library for my little ones, but I certainly do not have 600 books in our library. So, right there....the fact that we have access to 600 storybooks at any given moment is wonderful. We don't even have to store them. They are already on my Ipad! Plus there's such a wide variety that my kinder kid through my 6th grader can find stories they love!

 Another great thing about Farfaria is each book is given a "level" which really helps kids choose books based on skill level. Children can choose books they can read independently. They can also read stories that are more difficult and use the "read to me" feature. The reader reads so naturally - no mono-tone, choppy reading. I also love how quickly you "turn the page" - perfect for teaching a young child how to turn pages like a real book.

I LOVE this app! I am totally sold on it! My little dinosaur lover was pleased that there were books he could read easily using his sight word knowledge and there are nonfiction books about dinosaurs, amphibians, insects, and more.

Look - he had so much fun! (ignore the painted fingernails... :) 
He had to try since mom and sister were :)

 Love the intense focus!

This app is a STEAL at $3.99 per month. I love to snuggle up next to Reagan for his goodnight story. He loves this time and he can be in charge of the story we read. In fact, another great thing I love about Farfaria is you can actually download the app and get a FREE story everyday without paying a dime!!! That's terrific!! But trust me you will love the app so much, you'll shell out the $3.99 to have unlimited access - totally worth it!

Check out some wonderful screenshots from this amazing app:

Check out the Farfaria app HERE!
Check out the Farfaria website for more info HERE!

Now here's the really fun part!! The Farfaria people are wonderful and are allowing me to have a giveaway so one of YOU can win a 6 month subscription to Farfaria for FREE!!! What teacher or mom wouldn't LOVE that?

Kelsey K won!!! Congrats!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway