Saturday, August 24, 2013

Five for Friday

Boy, has it been one whirlwind of a week, so I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their Five for Friday a little late.

{One}  Reading all of your teaching blogs about the activities you're doing with your kids is making me itch to start school.  Although, I'm also hyperventilating a little bit because school doesn't start for preschool for another three weeks and I feel like I have so much left to do!

{Two}  My preschool classroom just expanded into an all day program and they hired a new teacher last week!  This week has been spent finding furniture for her classroom, and after I got my room decorated, and everything just where I wanted it, I had to tear it all apart again to give her half of the supplies and manipulatives.  Then I spent some much needed hours yesterday back in my classroom to make labels for my cupboards so I don't have to spend months trying to remember where everything is!

I asked her what her classroom theme was going to be, since it's all about creating a theme these days, and she said she had never done one before.  The next day she came in and said she was inspired by this tree and the colors of the leaves...

This reminded me that I have a tree I plan to make in my room, similar to Deanna Jump's tree to coordinate with my Jungle theme.

{Three}  I realized this week that I didn't have any name tags for the kiddos, and I had two some or make some.  Though I would love to create my own, I don't have the time with the frenzy going on in my program right now, so I decided to find some on TpT (mind you, the closest teacher store is an hour away or I would have went to buy them).  I found Jungle/Zebra themed blank labels from Crystal McGinnis.  They are adorable and they're FREE.  Win win!

{Four}  I missed the $.01 teacher sale at Staples, (Oh no!!!) :( which means I've been hunting searching frantically around for two-pocket paper folders for my students to use as take-home folders.  I ended up buying them at Wal-Mart for $.15 each and paid about $3 more than I would have buying them at Staples, but would have spent more money on gas to go buy them anyway.

{Five}  After typing all of this out, it has really made me realize this has not been my week!  Who knew how eye-opening blogging could be?!  I will be spending today getting some much needed work done around the house because it has been very neglected these past few weeks...or perhaps it will be back to the classroom!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Teacher Week: Tips and Tricks

This is the last day of Teacher Week '13 by Blog Hoppin' and today we are sharing our favorite tips and tricks.

1.  My number one teaching tip is to show students that you are a human being!!!  When you make mistakes, raise your voice a little too loudly, when you are sick or feeling sad, tell them.  This provides the perfect moment to talk about how you deal with these situations and why they happened.  You can also demonstrate to them when it is important for them to focus on working hard and giving their best effort, and when it is okay to act silly.  We all act crazy every once in a while!  

Speaking of crazy, brain breaks are great if your students have the wiggles, and they only take a few minutes.  Just Dance Kids 2 on Youtube has some fun songs for kids, and my students LOVE it when I dance with them!!!

Harry Kindergarten has some great videos to keep students engaged while they learn too!

After several weeks of school, I give students three videos to choose from and they hold up that many fingers to vote.  They love having a choice and as their interests change, I introduce new videos.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teacher Week: Taming the WILD!

Hello!  I'm joining Blog Hoppin' this week for their teacher week linky party.  Today, we're talking about classroom management, and every teacher knows you cannot teach without mastering this skill.  I'd be crazy to say I have all the answers, but here's how I'll be managing my classroom this year:

I have seen behavior charts all over TpT and found this Jungle Themed Clip Chart with Chevron from Teaching Joys.  I used to use a pocket chart with cards, but like the idea of a clip chart better since my students can move up.  However, teaching preschool, I don't want to overwhelm my students with moving up and down the clip chart all day so I didn't use all of the pieces.  

Recently, I went to a Love and Logic seminar and walked out of there feeling like "I can do this!"  Love and logic is a behavior management technique for parents and teachers based on positive discipline and fostering relationships with children and families.  It teaches how to reduce stress for YOU in the classroom by teaching students how to be responsible for their choices, teaching you how to handle disruptive students, and focuses on encouragement rather than praise.

My favorite thing about the seminar is that you can walk into your classroom and try whatever works for you.  You can start with any strategy that you choose and add pieces of the program as you get comfortable with each strategy.  I am going to start with managing student arguing, which Jim Fay and Charles Fay suggest beginning by choosing 2-3 one-liners, or things you say to students when they say something to start an argument.  The idea is to go "brain dead," not to react to what was said, then you give them a one-liner (without sarcasm or anger).  Here are the one-liners I chose:

1. I'm sorry you feel that way.
2. I know.
3. How sad.

A conversation with a student may go something like this:
Student:  This is stupid!
Teacher:  I'm sorry you feel that way.
Student:  Why do I have to do this anyway?
Teacher:  I'm sorry you feel that way.
Student:  I'm not doing it.
Teacher (walking away):  I'm sorry you feel that way.

The idea is every time a child says something to "push your buttons" you reply with a one-liner, quietly and directly to them.  Eventually they will realize you are not engaging in their argument and they will stop arguing.

Love and logic also has one rule:  

I am going to try this as my classroom rule this year and see how it goes.  A lot of teachers object to just having one rule.  However, most of our rules are actually expectations (raise your hand, listen when the teacher is talking, keep your hands and feet to yourself, etc.).  I plan to practice, practice, practice how I expect my students to behave in the classroom, using a lot of role playing, and revisiting the expectations throughout the year, and we'll see how it goes!

For anyone that has tried this Love and Logic as a management technique, I would love to hear about what you think or how you use it in your classroom!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Classroom Digs & Organizing for Instruction

*** Classroom Digs ***

I spent almost all day yesterday trying to figure out how to get pictures of my classroom off of my phone, and I guess since it's not a smartphone, it is completely impossible!

In any case, I went into my classroom today to get a few more things done and take some pictures with my digital camera (which is probably for the best anyway!).  My first day of school with students isn't until September 16th and I have a new classroom this year, so I'm still working on the organization part.  But, I wanted to do the fun stuff first---YAY decorating---so here goes...

Welcome to my Jungle themed classroom!

View from the front door

Word wall - Pardon all of the books.  I have to wait for my bookshelf to be moved in.  The word wall letters are from Teaching Joy.

Writing center - The bulletin board to the left will have examples of things they can write about, such as fact books, recipes, grocery lists, ABC books, etc.

Book Corner - I separated a giant bulletin board into two smaller ones; one to place pictures of students reading, and the other for student work.  I had TONS of bananas left over from bulletin board sets I had purchased, and so I used them to make the word Bananas in "Bananas for Books."  It says "Spotted:  Great Work" above the other half.

A view of the other half of my classroom from the door.  I love all of the cubbies of materials with real life labels.

This bulletin board will be used to display student art.  The middle of the bulletin board will be used for a seasonal art display.  Work that students create at the art center will be displayed around the outside.  To create the animals:
1.  I hot glued clothespins to thumb tacks to hold up the artwork.  
2.  Since I didn't like the look of a plain clothespin, I glued on a jungle themed animal cutout to make them look more attractive.  
3.  The animals at the bottom are hot glued to a clothespin and then glued to the wall.
Tip:  Glue the thumbtack high up on the clothespin.  I discovered when I glued it lower, the animal tipped upside down! You can also use sticky tack instead if hot glue pulls the paint off of the walls. :)

This is my morning meeting area.  Everything is low so my students can access everything for the Read Around the Room center.

The area to the left is my Information HUT board to display  information parents may need to know.

I placed paper on the cabinet to the right, where I have my Jungle Behavior chart with chevron from Teaching Joys

Next to the chart it says, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Look who's HANGING OUT in our room!"  Here, I will place pictures of my students to display all year.

*** NOW Teach: Organizing for Instruction ***

The only organizational tip I could think of that some people may not have thought of was how I store my bulletin board posters and supplies.  When thinking about how I would pack up my room this year, I happened to look over and there it was: an "under the bed" box and it was empty!  I love that it has wheels and can easily be moved from place to place.  It stores a lot of items, and you can't see it very well in the picture, but the handles clip around the top so the lid doesn't fall off when you pick it up.  It is so much easier to carry this around than those giant, heavy storage bins!

Thanks for viewing my classroom.  Head on over to Blog Hoppin' to check out how other teachers get organized!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Let's Talk About Me Monday!

Hi all!  I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' as a part of their Teacher Week '13.  Here are 10 wildly wonderful things about me:

1.  I teach in a small town of around 3,000 people located in the thumb of Michigan.  If you hold up your hand, point to the middle of your thumb, that's me!  (How many of you just tried that? Haha!)

2.  I have an obsession with animal just keeps coming back into my life!  I had a jungle themed bedroom when I was in high school, and now I have a jungle themed classroom that I absolutely love!

3.  I have been married for 3 years this year.  My husband, Trevor, and I just had our anniversary on the 6th of this month, but we have been in a relationship for 10 years this year.

4.  Just about every room in my house is painted some form of blue.  It's my favorite color...what can I say?

5.  I have two cats and a dog.  I am definitely an animal person!  I almost went into a science field working with animals --- marine biology, veterinarian, zoology were some of the careers I was considering before I considered teaching.

6.  This is my last year of graduate school before I receive my master's degree in Early Childhood teaching.  I am also in the process of receiving my ECSE endorsement.

7.  I love watching period films and TV shows about history!  Pride and Prejudice is the first one that comes to mind, along with The Tudors.  There's something fascinating about the story of King Henry VIII, his many wives, and his children.

8.  Along that note, if I could travel anywhere in the world it would be Scotland.

9.  I love to play games.  Family game night will definitely be a weekly event once my kids get older.

10.  I love the smell of coffee, fresh cut grass, and after the rain.  I hate candles that smell like food because then I want to eat that food!

Thank you for reading, and I can't wait to learn more about all of you!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Liebster Award

I was so excited to view my comments to find out I have been nominated for a Liebster Award from Kaia at Kinder Colors!  The Liebster Award is for blogs with less than 200 followers in order to promote that blog, show appreciation, and hopefully draw more followers.

To accept the nomination you must:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

I nominate the following bloggers:
1. The Pre-Kinder Life
2. Fun in ECSE
3. The Kinder"garden" Teacher
4. Preschool Wonders
5. Flip Flops, Polka Dots, and Pre-K

The answers to Kaia's questions:
1. What's the best teacher tip you've gotten?
Practice, practice, practice procedures at the beginning of the year and be consistent. This will save you lots of stress in the long run if students know what to do and how you expect it to be done. They are less likely to get off track or misbehave if you spend more time on procedures at the beginning of the year.

2. How long have you been blogging?
Less than a month...I am definitely very green at this!

3. What is your favorite blog to read (teacher or non-teacher)?
My favorite blog is Lola at Preschool Wonders. I will be teaching my first year of preschool this year and need all the help, advice, and inspiration I can get!

4. What teaching-related professional development book can you not live without?
This summer I began reading Literacy Center Stations: Making Centers Work by Debbie Diller, which is highly recommended by teachers and now I know why!!! This will save me so much time from creating NEW activities for students to do during Centers every week if I use the resources we already practice together as a whole class or in small group. If students are engaged in the activity and learn a lot from it, why not make it something they can continue to practice for several weeks or until they get bored? Providing several activities they can choose from will also help them from getting off track as well.

5. What is your favorite movie or book?
My favorite movie is A Walk to Remember with Mandy Moore and Shane West, based on the book by Nicholas Sparks. I read the book several years before the movie came out and fell in love with the book too! I don't watch it often because it makes me cry, but it has such a good message.

6. What is your favorite comfort food?
My favorite comfort food is definitely chicken fried chicken with gravy, mashed potatoes, corn and corn bread...half of my family is from the south. Enough said! :)

7. What do you do when you're not teaching or blogging?
I spend time with my husband and son Noah, who just turned a year old in June. I also love to read books and work on craft projects, but these tend to get pushed off to the side during the school year.

8. What's the best kid quote you've heard (or can remember)?
A conversation with one of my students during Field Day...

Me: What would you like to do next? Would you like to get your face painted?

Student: I would like to keep my body just the way it is!

9. What time does school start/end for you?
We start at 8:00 a.m. and are done with school at 3:06 p.m.

10. Do you go to school on the weekends?
Not unless I have to! I try to leave school by a set time every day, get my highest priorities done first, and leave the rest until the next school day.

11. What is your favorite school memory?
I became a teacher because I had a teacher in middle school that removed all of the desks from the classroom, laid pillows on the floor, and decorated the classroom with green tissue paper and vines for our study of Tarzan. This inspired me to think outside the box and create an experience for my students that is memorable!

11 random facts about me:
1. I was born in Germany on an Army base (military parents).
2. My husband and I are high school sweethearts.
3. My favorite time of the year is fall...a new beginning, the colors of the leaves, Halloween, Thanksgiving...I could keep going!
4. I am named after Ashley from Gone with the Wind.
5. My cats are named after Disney princesses...Nala and Aurora.
6. Before I got married my initials spelled ANT.
7. I am addicted to Turbo Kick (any Turbo Jam or Turbo ladies out there?!).
8. I love to watch cartoons and children's movies!
9. I am currently finishing the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series of books.
10. My favorite TV show is Grey's Anatomy!
11. I was on the pom pon squad in high school and love to dance but have never taken dance.

And here are my questions for my nominees:
1. How long have you been blogging and why did you start?
2. When do you get into your classroom for the first time in the summer?
3. If you were not a teacher, what would your career be?
4. What children's book is your favorite to teach with and why?
5. What is the most embarrassing teacher moment you have had?
6. If you could eat one food every day what would it be?
7. What is your favorite classroom theme you have had?
8. What is your favorite blog to read?
9. What is your favorite subject to teach?
10. What color would you use to describe your personality?
11. What professional development book would you recommend?

Thank you for the nomination and I look forward to learning more about my fellow bloggers!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Five for Friday

I decided to join the Doodle Bug's Five for Friday weekly Linky party because I think I can come up with five exciting things you'll want to hear each week!  I know I'm a day late, but here goes:

1.  I'm new to blogging and can't believe how many teachers are out there sharing their ideas!  One of the blogs I am absolutely loving right now is Preschool Wonders!  Lola has some great ideas for preschool and since I'm teaching preschool this year, I'm trying to soak in anything I can learn from her.  If you have another preschool blog you love, comment below because I'd love to hear about it!

2.  My son, who just turned a year old in June, finally said Mama the other day!

I was so busy last year teaching kindergarten for the first time I didn't have as much time to spend with him as I wanted, so when I'm not getting things ready for my classroom, I'm spending as much time with him as I can!

3. I am excited to share with you a FABULOUS Giveaway from Polka Dot Kinders for reaching 400 followers!!!

I just discovered this blog, but who can resist a giveaway right?  So be sure to check it out!

4.  On Wednesday, I went to a Love & Logic seminar.  I really enjoyed the training and can't wait to start using the strategies I learned with my preschoolers this year!  My goal is to decrease my stress dealing with student conflict and turn more responsibility over to them.  We'll see what happens once school starts in September...

5.  My theme for my classroom this year is monkeys/jungle with a chevron flair!  One of the most popular pins on my Pinterest page right now is from It's a Jungle Out There.  

I love the idea of using a shower curtain to add some decoration and hide some of the materials you don't want to be seen!  Now I just need to find some that I love so I can use this idea in my own classroom.  :)

Sunday, August 4, 2013


I can't believe it is the beginning of August already...that means six weeks before B2S!!!  Yikes!  Why six weeks you say?  I'm a preschool teacher, which means I have two extra weeks to get things together for my classroom before I am invaded by children.  Yes, some of that time will be spent doing home visits and professional development, but having extra hands from my teacher assistant means EVERYTHING!

I am excited to start being a part of a linky party with Farley, which means I can post an item from TpT that I LOVE at the beginning of each month.  So, here's my Currently for August:

This is the first year in four years of teaching that I know more than two weeks before the beginning of the school year that I have a job.  So, I actually have time to organize in my brain what my classroom will look like, think about procedures, and lesson plan before the school year starts.  I am getting a little overwhelmed with all of the ideas running through my head, and can't wait to start designing my classroom!

I have already posted some ideas I have adapted from Pinterest in previous posts, and there will definitely be more to come once I am finished decorating my classroom.  So, let's jump down to B2S must haves:

1)  Magazine Files - This is my attempt to organize all of the papers I will use on a daily/weekly basis.  My goal this year is to be more organized so I don't spend the first two months of the school year trying to figure out where I put everything!

2)  New SHOES - Every year I go through my closet, throw out the clothes I have exhausted throughout the previous school year, and spend a few hundred dollars on new work clothes!  This is my gift to myself to "feel" like this year is going to be the best yet.  

3)  Teacher Toolbox - I have seen these all over Pinterest and just HAVE to have one!  This is the must-have that I have yet to get, but I have already found the labels I am going to use once I get the toolbox.  My classroom will be a jungle theme this year, so I decided to go with these from Hedrich's Hive:

Click here for the link
I can't wait to get them printed out so I can find everything I need in one place without having to spend forever digging through my desk drawers!