Sunday, August 23, 2015

My Not So Perfect Memorable First Day of School

first day photos, back to school
No matter how much planning and prepping we do to make the first day back-to-school special and memorable, something always seems to go wrong. It is the not so perfect moments that remain in our memories.  My morning started off with my my daughter forgetting to turn her alarm of at 4:00 AM  while she was getting ready for work, she was in the bathroom , the alarm in her room- you get the the picture.  I get up early because I know I have a ton of stuff to do. Just as I sit down to my computer the power goes out.  It comes back on, but I don't have tome to wait for my computer to turn on and load my programs and such now.  So I go to work, tired, frustrated and not feeling too well.  I'm just thankful I had already dried my hair.  So far the only thing going right that morning was my hair.
first day photos, back to school

So now that home was already starting my day off wrong, what more could go wrong? Well, remember we always remember those not so perfect moments.  That first bell chimed.  yes chimed.
Think chimes as in the movie Grease.  That is what our new bells sound like.  The bells chime and I open my door. Sure I remember opening the door to greet those eager kindergartners with their backpacks almost as big as they are.  I remember a few moms and dads snapping photos with cell phones, but I couldn't tell you which kid was first in line or who had the biggest smile.

What I can tell you is life happens and you just have to roll with it.  This year our staff was doing summersaults on our first day.  We have a brand new student information system.  There were a few hiccups.  This was to be expected.  We also had a surge of students move and others enroll.  All of this meant a late night for the administrators of shuffling class lists.  This was the first year that class lists were not posted.  Parents were notified by a phone call.  However, if they didn't answer their phone or had changed their number, they didn't no where their child needed to go on the first day of school.

I printed what I thought was the most current version of my student roster, put out my name tags and lanyards and opened my doors.  In walked my new class.  My roster had 15 students, but I knew that would change as some students weren't completely enrolled yet.  A few more arrived with post-it notes with their names.  We quickly grabbed some cardstcok and made them some not so fancy name tags.  For my co-workers who know me, they know how much this was killing me.  I like everything to match and be printed.

At recess time I realized I had forgotten my sunglasses-now this is something I MUST have with my vision. So there I was on the playground not seeing a darn thing.  Thank goodness my son was already  home from his 7:00 AM college class.  He quickly brought them to me. Phew- crisis overted.

When it came time to go to lunch, we noticed our kids who were eating hot lunch were having pizza from Costco- umm I want hot lunch too.  This year we are cooking food on campus.  OOPS, our ovens didn't work. I guess no one checked them during the summer.

At the end of the day all my kids made it to where they were supposed to go, so one cried or wet their pants, so to that made it a huge success.  With the help of a friend I was able to take a first day photo of every student. When the kids left, many said they had a really fun day.  So, although it was the perfect day that I had planned it was a memorable first day of kindergarten.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Time 4 Donors Choose

It has been over a year since I have posted a project on Donor's Choose. This year I decided that my project would be for a laser Printer to use in our classroom.  I have a black/white laser printer, but not one for color.  I take tons of photos and print them out at Costco.  How nice it would be to just print them out at school, the same day I take them.

For the next few day any donation made can be matched dollar for dollar.  To have your donation matched dollar for dollar, enter the promo code SPARK on the payment screen. This awesome match offer lasts through August 12.

And to make it just a little bit more enticing I will reward you with items form my TpT store.
donors choose
Hurry this offer expires when the SPARK dollar Mach Expires
Once you have donated, email me at  Be sure to put Donors choose in the subject line.  List the items you would like from my store.  Once I have verified your donation,I will send you the files.  Please Note: If you have already donated- this offer applies to you too, just email me.

donors choose

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Back to School With Sit Spots and a Giveaway

Sit SpotsAre you getting ready to go back to school?  Silly question I know.  Sometimes it is hard to turn off our teacher brain.  I will be making this short and sweet. Todays post is all about Sit Spots.

If you haven't heard of these, then this post is just for you.  Sit Spots are fun, educational and decorative spots to mark your carpet for student seating.  No more Duct Tape strips that the kids peel up or leave a sticky reside behind.   Sit Spots adhere to your carpet and stay there.  If you do need to move them, you just use a little pull and they come right up.  When the custodian vacuums your rug, they stay put.

Just look at the fun colors and shapes that are available.
Sit Spots in kindergarten
kindergarten seating

Now that you know how fabulous these are- let's have a giveaway.  I've teamed up with Sit Spits to give 1 lucky fan a $50 gift card to Sit Spots. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to School Sale with TpT

It's almost time to go back to school.  While teachers are running around trying to find that deal at Office Depot, Target and Big Lots for classroom centers and decor, we are also scouring Pinterest and TpT for the latest and greatest curriculum.  August can be a very $$$ month, so a sale of any kind is much appreciated.
I have been slaving working days and nights to finish some products just in time for the sale.  
All About Numbers is just that- I created this out of  necessity.  During the first few weeks of school I focus a lot on number sense with my kindergartners.  Most of my students come in not knowing much at all about numbers.  We will be using this set  several ways.  We will make anchor charts as I introduce the number and then keep the charts for review.  I'll keep a set in a pocket chart on my calendar wall.  and then I'll b shrinking some of the pages to use in our math journals.  
number anchor charts, calendar wall, number posters, number sense in kindergarten
Back to School Sight Word Search focuses on the first 200 words on the Fry list.  I started making these word searches at the end of last year, for the words my kindergartners were having difficulty with.  
kindergarten sight words, Fry word list, sight word search
Sort it Out focuses on sorting, classifying and graphing the sorts.  I've been working on CCSS for math this summer and knew that I needed to focus more on these skills.  
Last up is my Mystery Grab Bag.  It currently has 40 pages of odds and ends.  These are things I make throughout the year for my classroom.  I will continue to add to the bundle. the more I add, the higher the price.  BUT- if you purchase it now, you will be able to continue downloading each new version as I add to it throughout the year.
Mystery Grab Bag, growing bundle, TpT Kindergarten

I have a few more days before I officially report back.  For those who are already back- I wish you a terrific school year!!! If you are like me, enjoy your last few free moments. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Planning, Pacing and Prepping

This time of year most of us are busy, planning, pacing out our year and prepping our materials.  I can't believe I start back in just a few weeks.  I'm trying to refrain from entering my classroom and pretending I don't have to work on school stuff, but all those thoughts hit while I'm sleeping.  I had my first of what I'm sure will be many "back-to-school nightmare".  You know the ones, where you wake up in a panic only to realize it was just a dream,.  Mine was about meeting my kindergarten class the first day and they were all as big as second graders.  I hope that isn't some weird premonition that I'll be getting a last minute grade level change.  I've put down roots in Kindergarten and have no plans of leaving anytime soon.

I've been prepping at home, working on things, printing, laminating, you know the drill.  I haven't been able to really work in my room though.  It is one hot mess right now.  We aren't supposed to go in during July and when we do, they ask us to keep the lights and air off.  My building is old cinder block.  Those rooms cook in the afternoon.  As for the mess, there are holes in the wall where our clock and PA system used to be.  We're getting new digital clock.  not sure I like that.  I'll still keep a REAL clock  on my calendar wall.  There are also wires hanging out along our computer station.  We are getting a new wifi system system  and losing our hard plug computer connections.  We will be all wireless.  I hope there's a back-up plan if the wireless goes down.  In a pinch I guess I can use my iPhone as a hotspot.  A girl has to be connected …

So look at this beauty of a space.  This was my calendar wall, but we are getting flat screens so I had to mark where I want it.  Not sure if anyone will listen, but I had to try.  I want to decorate that area and get my calendar wall up, but I can't until they are done… and they haven't started yet.  If it isn't finished by the day before we start, I'll slap that fabric back up.  Sorry it's dark.  My windows are way up high and it is a paint open the curtains.
Here's where I Need your help.  I'd love some suggestions for this space. This is what it used to look like  The fabric is black.  I have a new calendar pocket chart it is black as are all my calendar wall pieces.  So do I put black on black or put nothing behind it and just frame the space with border.  My colors are black, red and white.  Would red be too much.  Should I add a new pop of color?  If yes, then what color?  It is a huge space.  It is 7 1/2 ft tall x 9 1/2 ft wide.
calendar wall
If you follow me in Instagram, you may have known that I finished my September Writing Center.  So if you had bought the bundle for the year- it is in there and the bundle is on-sale
writing center kindergarten, word wall cards
Please give me suggestions for my space.  I'm out of ideas.  Make sure to subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on TpT and bloglovin too.  I have some fun things planned for next week.  You won't want to miss it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What's Free From My TpT

Yep, you read it right, todays blog post is highlighting what I have free on my TpT.  If you were involved with my Teacher Facebook Friends group, then you know we've been talking a lot about WBT (Whole Brain Teaching).  I needed some posters of the rules to use in my classroom. Being that I'm ink stingy, I hate designing things with busy backgrounds.  Don't get me wrong, I love my chevron, polka dots and what not borders, but ink isn't cheap.  So with that in mind, I created these.   This also includes headers for a Super Improver Wall.
WBT posters
Next up is one of my favorite products.  This is a sample of my Number Naming Fluency Homework pack.  It is parent child-interactive.  Within a minute the parent knows if their child can recognize numbers or not.
Number Naming Fluency
Just in time for back to school.  If you were in Las Vegas, you may have seen these adorable Show and Tell Aprons.  This is a free set of cards to retell Brown Bear, Brown Bear.  Of course, you could also just use them in a pocket chart too.
Show and Tell Apron Cards
Need some rules for your iPads? Try these out. If they are too large to display, they are 8.5x11, you can change your printer settings to multiple and it will print two pages onto one.  I love that feature. 
iPad Rules
Last up, is my What Is It?  This is great to use at the beginning of the year, especially with those little ones who don't know the difference between letters, numbers and shapes.  It has pocket chart cards and an assessment page.
sorting in kindergarten
This time of year can be heavy on the wallet.  Just thought I'd share what I have available.  Make sure to sign up for my newsletter. I try to always send it out with a Freebie attached.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Using Plickers in Kindergarten

Hey friends today I'm handing over my blog to the fabulous Mary Amoson from Sharing Kindergarten.   She is an amazing presenter who is truly passionate about using technology in the classroom. She told me about Plickers last year, but I was apprehensive and I put it on the back burner.  I think she has me convinced to jump in and give it a try.  Read on to learn more about this fun and engaging assessment tool.

Hi friends! This is
I am so BLESSED to be given the chance to blog with you all about a passion of mine...
using technology to make our jobs easier and better!
Let me tell you about a FREE app I love called PLICKERS.

This is an easy way to have fun with your class and assess them at the same time.
Each student gets a paper clicker... called a PLICKER.

Then you ask your students a question.
They turn their card to show their answer.
THEN you open up your app and it turns on the camera function on your smart device.
Your camera "reads" their answer and records it!
You can read more about this app {here}.
This link takes you to my blog where I have a video
 to SHOW YOU how I set up my Plickers for little ones. 

How can I convince you to TRY plickers in your classroom?
Esp if you have little ones like Kinders...
I top 5 reasons to try PLICKERS!

You only need one smart device in your classroom to do this!
Why? Many of you guys are not one to one.
A lot of you guys don't even have a school purchased device.
But, you guys CAN use your own iPad and iPhone with this. 
And you are the only one who has to have a device!

All the info it gathers is stored online, 
so it doesn't take a lot of storage from you own device either.

The app is free.
The website you use to set up the cards and assign them per student is free.
You can even print the cards for free. 
There is NO COST.
You can even retrieve the data at no cost.

It is easy to prep these cards.
You can prep them ONCE and use them all year.
Just make sure you make a few extras... 
just in case a friend or two looses one.

 If you do use my Assess for Success Packs,
you can use these cards even easier and faster.

 One of the most important reasons to use PLICKERS
 is because it makes a game of giving pre and post assessments. 
Most of my students don't know I am actually figuring out what they already know about a topic...
or what they know about what we learned.

I also through in older games to make sure remember those skills!
When we play we giggle and laugh a lot.
Then we focus on the question I give...
then we show our answer.

This is also stress free for me.
I am plan ahead- OR I can fill in a few extra minutes of time with a quick game.
Sometimes I start asking my students questions about rhyming words,
but I quickly figure out I need to ask a new question or a follow up question, 

 And the most important reason your administration wants you to use this app...
It keeps up with the data for you. 
You get a really easy to read graph

Here are some examples I took from my data.
The top graph show you how many students answered the 
SUBTRACTION 29 question correctly.
I can see that we prob need to go over that problem again
 since only 58% of my students missed that question.

When I click on the question, 
I can see a detailed report of the question. 
On the far right, I can print the responses.
What you can't see is the detailed list it gives me of each students' answer.
I won't show that for student confidentiality reasons. 

As I scan the cards, I see instantly the same data.
Since this app keeps it for me, 
I don't have to write it down myself.

I have tons of Assess for Success packs ready to make giving assessments 
using this format so easy!
Check out this preview of the Initial Sounds Pack so you can see how the cards are formatted!
You simple hold up the cards and your students turn their plickers to give their answer.
And you can and will assess your whole class on initial sounds
 in MINUTES with one on one data!!!
 Here is a shot at some of the other titles!
You can see all of the topics in the series here.

I hope you decide to TRY PLICKERS in your classroom!
I know you will love it!

After reading this aren't you convinced that you just have to try it.  I know my kids will love it and the best part is they will be having fun and won't even know they are being assessed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Truth About Teachers When We Are Sick

when teachers are sick
You know these funny little pictures you see floating around Facebook and Pinterest, we see them and we laugh and nod our head.  Well I'm hear to tell you it is true and it really isn't a laughing matter.  Think about it- what other profession has to have a substitute when the employee is sick.  If I worked at an office, my co-workers would just have to pick up the slack, or my job just doesn't happen and all my work is still piled up waiting for my return.  If I worked at the grocery store, the lines might be a little longer due to one less checker.  When teachers are sick what happens.?

The truth about teachersStage 1 Denial
First we pretend we aren't sick. We tell people it's allergies.  We then say, I feel fine, I just sound terrible.

Stage 2 The Little White Lie
We tell people we aren't contagious.  We li and say,  'it's just a cold".

Stage 3 Admitting We Are Sick
There comes a point when we've gone too far.  Our body is shaking because we feel like we are in a freezer.  There is a loud pounding in our head as if we were at a Bon Jovi concert.  Finally we admit it. We say those 2 awful words every teacher can't stand to say... I'M SICK!

What happens next is so different for us teachers than it is for anyone else.  We can't just say those 2 little words and crawl into bed.
Stage 4 Panic
This is when we start to panic. We have to get a substitute teacher and prepare lesson plans.  Sometimes we even have to go to school and set everything up.  I've been there on a Sunday night in my pajamas, almost falling over because the world was spinning, but I couldn't let my kinder kids down. I had to leave plans. #thestruggleisreal

Now if you are lucky, you might have a regular substitute or two that you can depend on.  When I know in advance I will be out, I have an amazing substitute.  It has gotten to where I can literally leave her a post-it note.  I don't have to make special sub plans.  She knows my kids, my routines and how I do things.  To make it better, she even knows to grab my iPad and snap photos of what the kids are doing.

BUT… what happens when she can't come at the last minute.  This is usually when I relapse into Stage 1 DENIAL--I tell myself just go in you can make it through the day, because I know the alternative could be tragic.  Let me paint you a picture of a few options I have.  Option #1,  is me with my head on the desk, begging the kids to not write too loudly.  Option #2 THE SUB FINDER.  This is our system.  We get on the computer, check a few boxes and then it  begins calling the 5 people on our preferred list.  They of course either already have a job or don't want it.  Next, it randomly calls people on our district sub list until someone excepts the job.  

Stage 5 Anxiety
From the comforts of my couch I keep checking the system to see if the job has been filled.  My fear is that no one will take the job.  Then it happens a name appears and you feel even worse because you know your room will be destroyed, nothing will get done and your teaching partners will be texting you all day to tell you what is going on.

Before I go on and tell you my tragic stories of substitute teachers- I will say that I have a lot of respect for those who are guest teachers.  I used to be one, so I know how hard the job is.  After my very first day of being a sub, I went home and cried and said I don't want to teach ever again.  Now that the shoe is on the over foot, I also know how to prepare for a sub. I teach my kids to be on their best behavior when I am gone and I don't expect everything to go smoothly. I expect the sub todo their best to follow my plans, but most of all, take care of my babies.

So why do I worry when the sub job goes to a random stranger?  It has nothing to do with a stranger teaching my babies or being in my room and snooping through my drawers.  It has to do with the fear that my babies might not be taken care of.  Let me list some of the "Guest Teachers"  I've had in the past.

#1 Mr. Rubber Rain-boots and Piccolo:  Yes- the first thing he did was enter the room, take off his rubber boots and proceed to play the piccolo.

#2 Here's Jack: According to my colleagues he looked like Jack Nicholson from The Shining.  At one point he took one of my girls to the office and told the principal to talk to her about her behavior.  Of course my principal wanted to know who was with my class if he was in the office.  No one was with them they were just left alone.  Oh and my room has not windows and there is a lonesome hallway before you enter my door.

#3 I Don't Follow the Lesson Plans:  I'm not really a teacher, I just signed up to plat one; its easy money.  This person doesn't have any idea of how to work with kids, they just let the kids have free choice and hand out the assignments without ever explaining them.

#4 The Homeless Looking Guy: According to my colleagues they thought he was a grandparent because he was waiting outside the door with the kids.  He looked homeless and smelled a bit.  I know that at another school they gave him a t-shirt to wear and keep.

#5 Mrs. Zero Tolerance:  I'm fine for coming in strong, showing the kids you're in charge, but there is a limit.  You can't just farm all the kids out to my colleagues to make your day a little easier.

Stage 6 Acceptance and Healing
At some point after the bell rings we have to accept the fact that we won't be going in.  We have to put our phone on silent and ignore the texts and missed calls from colleagues and begin to heal.  If we spend our time worrying and checking in all day how are we going to recover quickly.  After all, the goal for staying home when you're sick is to recoup and make a speedy recovery.

I know I'm not the only one with crazy substitute tales.  I also know we've all been through these 6 stages of being sick.  I invite you to share your tales with me and my readers.

It's simple, Link up below and use the image to link back here.
the truth about teachers

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