Tuesday, May 19, 2015

End of the Year Awards

end of the year award certificates Do you do end of the year awards?  Every year I  present my students with an award that is specifically chosen just for them.  Every child is good at something and they should be recognized for it.  I think about student and how they have grown from that first day of school way back in August until now, the end of May.  That child who never gives up, the one who completes all their work and is willing to redo something because they did it wrong the first time- that child has perseverance.  They deserve the award for Perseverance.  Then there are those who automatically jump in to help, they aren't hoping for a clip-up or a recognition, their willingness to help automatically is just who they are.  They receive the Teacher Helper award.

During the last week of school we have our awards day in our classroom.  As I announce each name the class claps for that child as they come up to shake my hand and receive their award.  I acknowledge each student as to why they are receiving their specific award.  I think it is really important to tell the student why I picked them for the award.  It also tells the other students the characteristics of what I consider to be award worthy.

This year I decided to change up my basic awards and finally created some fun end of the year awards to use in my classroom.  I made two versions one set is in color, the other set can be printed on color paper.
end of the year award certificates

end of the year award certificates
end of the year award certificates

You can get these on sale now in my TpT store.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

End of the School Year Tips and Tricks

end of the school year tips and tricks, how to pack classroom
Does this picture look familiar?  It's that time of year when teachers are running around fueled by caffeine and chocolate. You know who we are- We are the one's who have post-it notes everywhere as reminders, never ending lists of things to do and that dazed and sometimes crazed look in our eyes.  It is the end of the school year we may only have less than 3 weeks, but we have about 3 months worth of things we need to do and a never ending Pinterest board full of ideas of things we want to do.

Hopefully today I can offer you some End of the School Year Tips and Tricks to help you make it to the bitter sweet end.

If you are one of those unfortunate teachers who must pack your room up as if you were moving schools- Let me just say how sorry I am for you from the bottom of my heart.  I have had to move rooms 4 times in the past 20 years and it is a big fat PAIN.  So, having to do it each year, I'm not sure I could handle it.  In fact I know I couldn't-

Let me bird walk for a moment... Yesterday we moved our daughter home from college.  Having moved far too many times in my life as a child, I thought perhaps my daughter would have automatically gained those organized Tetris packing skills from me.- NOPE When we arrived, she had stuff everywhere, most of it in bags and the rest in large piles.  She was missing the main ingredient to packing-- boxes.  Somehow we managed; today we made a trip to Home Depot and purchased boxes for her to sort, classify and organize all of her belongings.  She won't be needing most of things she brought home until she lands a job and moves out, so in the meantime all of her stuff must be stored.
This is my amazing daughter.
Ok so now back to my Top 5 List of End of the School Year Tips and Tricks

Label your boxes.   Large Sterlite containers work wonders too.  Number each box and keep a short list of what is in each box
Box #1 Desk Contents
Box #2 Teacher Tools staplers, tape, hole punchers…

This is very helpful when trying to unpack and you need something right away you will know what box to look for.  You just don't have time to search 137 boxes for your staple gun and sharpie

Tip #2  Take Photos
Before packing up your room take photos of your room.  Make notes of things you really liked and what didn't work for you or what you might want to change.  I also suggest that you take measurements of your room, just incase you want to re-arrange for the next school year.  There are free on-line classroom design tools where you can play with room arrangements once you input your classroom dimensions.

Even if you don't have to pack up your room complexity, you might be like me.  I have to get stuff up off the floors.  So lots of it goes on top of counters and tables.  During the summer the maintenance crew comes in, usually they empty the rooms, clean the floors then do their best to put it all back.  This is why pictures are important.  I do leave a diagram on my white board of where the large pieces of furniture go.  This helps to get it into the general vicinity.  However, there are all those little odds and ends that still need to be put back into place.  This is when photos are handy to have.

Tip #3 Make a Back-to-School Box
When I leave at the end of the year, I always take home a box of things I will need for the first few days of school.  These usually include my Teachers Manuals, read-alouds and hopefully copies of things I send home to parents or use in class the first few days.

I also take home things I want to work on.  Last year I brought home my center tubs so that I could re-organize them.  A few year before that I brought home my entire classroom library for re-organization.
I also bring home any supplies I think I might need to make samples of projects.

Other items I bring home are the class scissors and table caddies.  I bring these home to disinfect and wash.

Tip #4 Make Copies Ahead of Time
If you know there are lessons you will be using the first few weeks, make those copies  now to avoid standing in line and wasting valuable time when you return.  There are certain things I do every year with my class, so I try to get those copies made in May and put them away for when we return in August.  This works out really well to my advantage, especially if I still have remaining copies left on our copy counter.  I try to use them up being that they don't roll over.

Tip #5 Organize
Enlist the help of your students to organize.  At the end of each year I have students help me organize our class library.  Every student takes a tub and makes sure all the books are in the right container.  If they aren't, then they are placed in another tub.  Then once all the baskets are back on the shelf, we put all of the misplaced books back.

We also organize the kitchen area, and choice time materials, wipe things down and clean out our chair pockets.

Tip #5 Change Bulletin Boards and Borders
If you already know what you want on your boards for when students return, change them out now.  Enlist the help of a parent volunteer.  I always change my calendar wall on the last day.  I usually give the calendar change to a few students.  They love to set things up for the incoming kindergartners.

These are my top 5 end of the school year tips and tricks.  I asked my Facebook friends to share their ideas with me.  Many shared the same as I have above, but here are a few more...

Take pictures of how things are set up that I like and play with rearranging things that I want to change. 
Put September/Beg.of year activities in front and do first month of lesson plans. 
I've already started sticky noting "don't forget about..." on my binders so that I can make sure to hit up all the important stuff for next year.

Pack backwards, end of the year stuff goes to the back and all Fall, school opening item as are ready to go. Pack that way and when you unpack, everything you need is right there. It helps you have the class ready in a jiff, especially if you have a limited time to set up your room!

Sharpen pencils, fill center buckets with things for September! 

I clean out papers that I won't need/have too many copies of before putting away. I also clean everything before packing it way. I would rather do it when it's cooler in June than sweltering in August!

And speaking of Facebook- have you joined my Time 4 Kindergarten Teacher Facebook Friends group.  It is a great way to ask questions, share ideas and make some new kindergarten friends.
You can find us hanging out here.  Come on over and share your end of the school year tips and tricks.
Facebook, teacher groups, teacher friends

I hope you have found some of these ideas useful.  The end of the school year can be stressful and our minds are thinking about far too many things.  I know for me, I am thinking about what I want to change for next year, what my classroom will look like and how I can add some of my new classroom decor items I just received.  I'll be posting about those items soon…

Hoping these tips can give you a little sanity from the craziness that occurs at the end of the school year.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

End of the Year Kindergarten Memory DVD

Every year I make my students Kindergarten Memory DVD.  It includes day to day photos of all the events and activities we do though out the school year in kindergarten.  I put it together before our Open House night and have it playing while students and families tour the school.  I continue adding photos up until the weekend before school lets out.
I use iMove and iDVD to create my video.  I have a playlist already set in iTunes that I import once all the photos are in place.  I begin the slideshow with the photos I took on the first day using my Large photo frame. with the letter K attached.  I end the slideshow with photos I take at the end of the year.  I use PowerPoint to create the text for the photos and then save those as images before importing into iMovie.
first day of school photo, kindergarten,kindergarten memory book
last day of school photo, kindergarten photo

Each year I add a personalized DVD cover to their jewel case.  You can download an editable version here.
end of school year dvd, memory dvd
I've been collecting songs over the years to use.  I've finally compiled them into a playlist that I can use for our Kindergarten Memory DVD.  
school dvd play list, kindergarten memory dvd

We watch the DVD during the last few days of school before we do our final writing project. I ask my students to write about something did in in kindergarten using the starting sentence frame In Kindergarten….   Once they are written, we illustrate them and then I make them into a book.  The following school year i read that book to the next group of kindergartners.

I can't believe how quickly the school has gone by. We only have a few weeks left and lots of activities to fill up the days.  I will be taking a ton of photos from now until that last wee to add to my end of the year kindergarten memory DVD.  I know this kindergarten memory DVD will be something my students and their families treasure for years to come.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week

It's Teacher Appreciation Week. I truly appreciate all the teachers I work with.  I work with a great group of dedicated teachers who give it their all each day.  I also appreciate all of my blog readers and social media followers.  In honer of Teacher Appreciation Week I'm joining in on the site wide sale over at Teachers Pay Teachers.
teacher appreciation sale
I've been working hard on updating some of my products.  If you already own my Interactive Calendar Notebooks for All Year, make sure you visit your purchase page and download the newest 2015-2016 version.  If you are thinking you want to try these out next year, grab them now so you can prep them over the summer.
kindergarten calendar time
I've also added the final month to my Kindergarten Homework for the Year 
Grab the bundle and save.  It is also great for morning work and bell work.
kindergarten homework, homewrok for kindergarten
Here are a few of my other Top Sellers you might be interested in.  My Fluency Homework packet is a great way to increase the home-school communication when it comes to homework.  It only takes a few minutes for the parents each night to check their child's fluency.  Teacher rave about these packets- 
"Very excited to have found this. We've been trying to give meaningful homework and this bundle is just perfect for all levels. Thank you!! Great job!"

DIBELS, fluency in kindergarten, homework, parent involvement
I know you are supposed to relax over the summer, but it's hard not to think about school.  I prep my homework folders when I'm watching TV or talking on the phone.
kindergarten homework folders, homework for kindergarten
I hope your Teacher Appreciation Week is fabulous and that your feel supported and appreciated!!!
Have a great week!!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

How to Throw a Mother's Day Tea on a Budget

For a few years now I've wanted to have a Mother's Day Tea.  But somehow Mother's Day always managed to sneak up on me and by the time I thought about it, it was too late.  Well, not this year.  I designed some invitations and RSVP cards then had the kids color their invites and address their envelopes.  We gave them to our moms last week.  I want to make the day really special for my kids and their mom's or grandmas.

We've been talking a lot about our moms and why we love them.  Most kids said things like "She takes care of me", or "She reads to me"  May favorite one really surprised me, this little guy said, "Because she is the best mom I could ever dream of".  Isn't that the sweetest and cutest thing you've ever heard?
Mother's Day Tea invitation for kindergarten
How to Throw a Mother's Day Tea on a Budget
Last week my co-worker and I hit up the Dollar Store for most of our party needs. We had quite a long list and needed to be as budget minded as possible. We needed to throw a Mother's Day Tea on a Budget.

 For the Table settings, we found these pink and green table cloths.  They are thicker than the usual ones so we just might be able to reuse them

How to Throw a Mother's Day Tea on a Budget
We also found these pretty napkins and paired them with just plain white dessert plates.
How to Throw a Mother's Day Tea on a Budget

This week we will be working on our presents for our moms and some fun extras for our event on Friday. When the moms arrive they will be presented with their Mother's Day Bonnet custom-made by their child.  We are using paper plates and bowls that we already have.  After the kids paint them, we will be decorating them with the flower leis.  I bought 3 3-packs of leis.  I'll take them apart and the kids can glue the flowers onto their mom's hats.   I don't have a tutorial for you because I left the bowls and plates at school.  But all you need to do is cut a hole in the middle of the plate,  large enough to fit over the bowl when it is upside down.  If it fits, then glue the two pieces together.  After the kids paint them, attach flowers, ribbons or stickers.

Paper Plate Hats and Bonnets
I also bought large white cups.  The kids will each decorate a cup for their mom using stickers.
Mother's Day Tea Cups

Another easy and artsy decoration will be the flowers the kids make to present to their moms.  Using coffee  filters and markers your can create beautiful flowers.  First, color the filters with markers.  Then  spray them with water and let dry.  You will want to lay them on a plastic table cloth or wax paper to prevent the ink from staining as it runs off and seeps through the filter.  Once they are dry attach them to skewers, straws or pipe cleaners.   You can add leaves with each child name to the stem if you'd like.    We will placing these in groups on the tables in vases.  I made a few samples to show you what they look like before we assemble them.
coffee filter flowerscoffee filter flowers
coffee filter flowers
coffee filter flowers
coffee filter flowers
coffee filter flowers
For the gifts, we are taking photos of the kids and attaching them to foam sheets- they were all out of the foam photo frames so we had to improvise. The kids will decorate the foam around the photo using sticky foam pieces.

The Food was easy as well.  We found boxes of fruit flavored tea, large bottles of iced tea, and packages of cookies.
Mother's Day Tea Party food

It doesn't take much planning, just a quick trip to the Dollar Store and you too can throw a Mother's Day Tea on a Budget for under $25.00

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Open House Night in Kindergarten

Open house Night in Kindergarten, kindergarten handprint flower, door decoration for open houseOpen house is always a big deal for me.  I don't put on the cart and pony show, but I do work hard to show off all of my students' hard work.

To get the parents and families to attend, I make sure to remind them when they are dropping off and picking up their children.  I send home a note and send out a Remind101 message.  I also post the information on my parent board outside my classroom several days before the event.  For many of my parents the concept of  Open House is new to them.  I have a lot of students who are the oldest or only child, so the idea of coming to school at night and looking at the classroom isn't anything they know about.  Our school also has a book fair during this time.  This too, helps to get parents to attend.
When the arrived, they were greeted with this door display.  My teaching partner found the idea on Pinterest.  I loved how it turned out.  I have moved it to an interior door i my classroom.  I love looking up and seeing it there.  I took a photo of each student yesterday in front of it; not sure what I'll do with them yet.  but they came out so cute.  Maybe I will use them in a mother's Day card.

I always make sure that I have at least one item from science, art, reading, writing and math out for parents to see. During this time, I also show a video slide show of everything we have done throughout the year.  My little iPhone gets a workout as I take pictures almost every single day.

On their desks, I placed the three life cycles books we made, their butterfly headband and their kindergarten memory book.  I saved all of their writing and art projects to include in their book.  For the cover, I personalized it with their name and used the photo that I took on the first day of school.   I will continue to add to the book until the last week of school.

Here is what our room looked like before the families arrived.
kindergarten Open House
This is our Parts of a plant quilt.  I gave each student  a background piece, then directed them piece by pice on how to create it.
plant quilt
parts of a plant
Our Earth Day projects were displayed in the front window.
Earth Day writing and art
Our Butterfly Mobiles were hung from the light fixture.  The students used water colors to paint each piece and markers to color in their title.
butterfly mobile, life cycles
butterfly life cycle mobile, caterpillars and butterflies
A few more photos of the butterfly headbands and books.
kindergaten parent night
open house, back to school night
 Isn't these butterfly headband adorable?
butterfly headband, life cycle of butterflies
During Open House night I also made sure to ask parent to sign-up for our A-Z Countdown to Summer.  We begin on Thursday April 30th.  you can read more about that here and grab your free editable A-Z Countdown information.
A-Z Summer Countdown

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Countdown to Summer

Yes, it is that time of year where teachers are beginning the countdown to summer.  For me it is 26 days of FUN!!!  When we begin, we are in celebration mode.  It is about making the last few weeks of school memorable, exciting and educational.  For me, the countdown begins April 30th.  I have created an editable document that you can use.  the activities are already designed all you need to do is add your own dates.  Please note that this is to be printed on legal 8.5x14 paper.
ABC Summer Countdown
To make the last few weeks not be another huge expense, I post a donation wish list for parents.  I ask for things like bubbles, donut holes, cookies, popcorn, and whatever else we will be needing.  I have a parent message board outside of my classroom.  This is where I post any important information or requests.
parent information board
On our last day, we do not have a kindergarten graduation or promotion.  We found that with 5 classes it is just too chaotic and the parents are truly disrespectful.  The last time we did it we kept having to stop and ask our audience to be quiet so they could hear the names being called. We asked them not to bring presents and gallons, but that fell o deaf ears.  Then we had the kids who didn't have anyone in the audience.  The look on their faces as they scanned the audience hoping to see someone there to congratulate them broke my heart.  

So last year we had a special movie day.  We did not tell the parents what we would be doing.  Instead we surprised our students with movie passes and coupons for popcorn and a drink.  We set up our multi-use room as if it were a theater and showed our students a movie.  We made a big production out of it and tried to make it a special event.  I'm not sure if we will do it again this year.  We have a team meeting Monday to discuss the end of the year activities.  It is sometimes difficult to get 5 people to agree without making anyone feel as if they have been pressured into just going along.

This week will be a super busy week for me.  Tuesday, my family will be coming over to celebrate my birthday.  Luckily my husband offered to cook and host the occasion rather than trying to go out to dinner with my family.  Thursday is Open House so Wednesday will be a late night getting the last minute details finished and doing a room clean-up. I have a gazillion things to do this week.  Is it Friday yet? This time of year just seems so busy and this beautiful Spring weather has given me Spring Fever.  

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