Monthly Book Bin Organization with a Freebie!

Let me start off by congratulating Steph on winning the "Pin-it to Win-it"  contest!  Check your email...I will be emailing you the {editable} schedule cards, {editable} reading focus board, {editable} word wall and the ten frame number posters!  

For all my other "pin-it to win-it" ladies you will also see an email coming your way and you can choose one of the products you pinned as well (if you pinned one product you will receive that one, if you pinned more than one than you can choose which one you want most!)  I am so excited to have these bright and colorful polka dot and chevron things up in my classroom that I simply want to share the love! 

Now, onto one last freebie to go with this polka dot and chevron theme.  I am linking up one final time with Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B and Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files for their optimum organization linky party!

One of the teachers I worked with my first year of teaching suggested I organized my read alouds by month.  When she suggested this my first year of teaching I didn't quite understand the purpose behind it.  As long as I had all of my read alouds in a accessible spot then I could simply choose the one I wanted, right?  Wrong!  

I quickly learned that if I didn't have my read alouds organized by month I simply couldn't fully remember if I read that book to students or not that year.  Sad, I know.  Years blend together and there are several books that I would find myself asking students, "Did we read this book?" If you are a teacher you know the kind of response that gets...exactly half of the students say, "Yes we definitely read this story!" and the other have half say, "No we never read it!!!"    So, I quickly decided to sort my read alouds by month (not an exact science but a rough idea...there are some months where I need an extra book so I simply pull from the next month...) and label them with post-its.  Here is the before: 

The post-it notes definitely served their purpose but with my love for polka dots and chevron I was ready to jazz them up a little!  Here is my after: 



To grab these monthly labels as a  freebie click here!  

A big thank you to Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B and Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files for hosting this fabulous linky all summer! I am sad to see this linky go as I learned lots of new tricks and tips each week!    Make sure to hop over and see all of the great ideas teachers are linking up with over at their blogs.

Happy Sunday!


2 Freebies on a Friday and a "Pin-it to Win-it" Opportunity

This past week I spent some quality time back in my classroom. I have been working on my "polka dot and chevron" classroom decor and it is wonderful to finally see the projects up on my walls!  They truly brighten the room and I know my students will love the fun colorful patterns.

It's Friday, let's have some fun...

“Pin-it to Win-it”

The rules are simple:
1. Pin any picture in this post of a product you would like to win
                    (if you pin 6 pictures of different products- you can win all 6!)
2. Leave a comment with the link(s) to the pin(s) and your email address.
3. Check back Sunday evening for one more polka dot and chevron freebie and to see the winner!

There are 6 different products and 2 freebies that I am excited to share with you let's get started!

1. Welcome Bulletin Board
When students come into my classroom I want them to feel a warm-welcome.  This year when my students enter the room they will see their names on my door using the display below.  After the first day I will then get their pictures on there too!

This product includes pennant and circle style words "Fabulous in ____ Grade!" and "Fabulous in Kindergarten."  There is an alternate saying just in circles, "Look who's been spotted in _____ grade!" and "Look who's been spotted in kindergarten!"     There are blanks circles included to add student names or pictures to your display.   To see a more detailed description on this product please click here or on the picture below.  

To get their pictures on the door I will do something similar to what I did last year.  I am going to have students hold up a sign that says "First day of 1st Grade."  To get the sign (as your first freebie) click here or on the signs below.  I made the signs for kindergarten-5th grade in both blue and yellow polka dots.


2. Days of the Week and Schedule Cards
Children enjoy routine just as much as many adults do.  In order to help my students know what specials we have each day I display them with the times on our wall.  Students not only use this to see what specials we have but I also often find kids using both the days of the week and the names of our specials during writing centers to help them spell the words.

This product includes pennant and circle style days of the week words.  The "specials" signs are all editable so you can add your own times to each poster.  The specials included are: gym, music, library, art, science, reading buddies, computers, and technology class.  Also included, is a blank sign so you can add your own special if needed. To see a more detailed description on this product please click here or on the picture below.  

3. {Editable} Reading Focus Board
Last year was the first year I did a reading focus board and I loved it! I changed it each Monday with  our new skills and strategies of the week.  Students referred to it often for their word wall words and phonics sound patterns.  It is in my reading corner, so when we were reading stories or students were reading independently I would often see kids look up at it on their own, to check a strategy, which made my heart very happy!

This product includes pennant and circle style words such as "Reading Focus Board" and "Reading Corner."  It also has headers including: story element, word wall words, vocabulary, genre, comprehension strategy, spelling words ect.  The best part is that this display works with any curriculum because it editable so you can make your own headers to fit your classroom needs.  To see a more detailed description on this product please click here or on one of the pictures below.

4. {Editable} Word Wall 
The word wall is a very important part of an elementary classroom.  Students use the word wall throughout the day and it truly becomes interactive as students are able to take words off and put them back on as needed.  Throughout the day my first graders refer to the word wall during reading, writing, fluency practice, and other literacy centers.

This product includes pennant and circle style words stating "Word Wall." It also has headers including each of the letters in the alphabet.  Each header has an uppercase and lowercase letter on it in a bold easy-to-read font.  There are two colored versions of the headers and in each the vowels are made to stand out.  The blank word wall cards are all editable.  There are several different sizes and patterns to help you find the one that fits best with each word.    To see a more detailed description on this product please click here or on one of the pictures below.

5. Ten Frame Number Posters (English and Spanish)
I have always had numbers up in my first grade room.  They are big enough so that students can use them in a pinch to add or subtract.   Sometimes, while in a center,  I will see a child pointing using the number posters to count on or count back on.  They are helpful.  This year, I wanted to make them even more beneficial and useful in my classroom so I created ten frame number posters.  

This product includes number posters in both English and Spanish.  Each poster has the number, number word, and ten frame on it.  They alternate between polka dot and chevron patterns-all odd numbers are polka dot patterned and even numbers are chevron patterned.   To see a more detailed description on this product please click here or on one of the pictures below.  

6. Birthday Display
Birthdays should be treated as a special day!  It is important to recognize each child on their birthday.  It is funny because my birthday was always over winter break (it is on New Year's Eve) so I was never in school to celebrate it.  One would think this would make me much better at remembering to recognize those birthdays that are celebrated over a break but it doesn't...I simply forget until the child reminds me!  This year I am going to really work hard on doing a better job of recognizing my "half birthday" friends too and I am hoping this display will help keep me on track!  

This product includes pennant and circle style words stating "Birthdays!" and "Class Birthdays!" There are headers for each of the months of the year in bold font-making them easy to read.    There are also  birthday certificates, a page to create a class book for your special student, and number cards for the students to hold for their picture, a birthday chart, and birthday badges! To see a more detailed description on this product please click here or on one of the pictures below. 

All of the students in the same month stand together.  Each student holds up the number of their birthday to display on our birthday display!  
7. {Freebie} “Fabulous ___ Grade Work”                                     
This year I want to make "fabulous" student work a focus in my classroom.  I want to display their hard work for everyone to see!  When I was putting things up in my room I left a big chunk of wall space for just that. 

This freebie is for kindergarten through 5th grade.  Proudly display student work on a bulletin board (or wall space!) using this bright and colorful chevron and polka dot prints.  If any of the other products interest you this is a great product to try for free because it compliments all of the other products listed above.  The product comes in both pennant and circle style letters.  To see a more detailed description on this product please click here or on one of the pictures below.

I know the wall space looks very blank now-but soon, very soon, it will be filled with bright colorful work from my first graders!  

Don't forget you can pin any of these pictures above for your chance to win!  The more you pin the more you can win! Check back on Sunday evening as I have one more polka dot and chevron freebie to give!  

A special thanks to Teaching Blog Addict for hosting a linky with TONS of freebies every Friday!  

Happy Friday!

Tune into Technology Linky: Technology Management & Organization

Time for our weekly Tune into Technology Linky! There are only two weeks left-so please link up any ideas you have organizing and managing your technology below or over with Kristin at iteach1:1.  

The management and organization of our technology has become an important part of our classrooms.  Since our students have access to lots of technology it is important that they learn, at an early age, how to take care of it.  We are always learning new tricks from others across our district and are excited today to learn new tips and tricks from our favorite techy blogging buddies!  

Things that are working in our classrooms: 

Laptop Cases:
Many of our students take home their laptops so it is important that they have cases (not just their backpacks) to carry devices back and forth.  Our cases have a strap that students are expected to wear across their bodies and have lots of excess cushioning...very important!  

Student Numbers:
All of our technology is labeled with each student's class number.  Their computers and headphones both have their number on them.  If a student misplaces his/her headphones students can all easily look for the number "5" to help their classmate find what he or she is looking for.   

Headphone Bins:
When students are not using their headphones I keep them in white bins.  This is especially helpful during centers.  Instead of students carrying their computer and their headphones from center to center they place their headphones in the bin and are only expected to carry their laptop.  The "hopper" for the day is responsible for making two trips and first bringing the headphone bin to the next center and then getting his/her laptop.  

Last year I had 4 guided math groups and 5 guided reading groups.  On one side of the white bin was a shape (triangle, square, circle, star) which were my math groups.  For reading they were simply flipped and they had color names on them (orange, blue, green, purple, yellow) to represent the reading groups.  When we are not in centers they simply rest on the tables and hold the students' headphones so they stay out of the way.  

Inside of the bin each student gets a gallon size bag to keep their headphones, IXL card, and password cards.  This helps to keep headphones from getting tangled and the baggy is then a "one stop shop" for everything students need for their centers.  

Laptops “45 Degrees:”
If we are doing multi-step procedures on our laptops I will often have students put their laptops at "45 degrees" to show me they are done with the first step and ready for the next.  It is a great visual for me as a teacher to see who is ready to move on.   It also shows me which students are listening and on task. 

Password Cards:
When we were little we were expected to memorize our math facts and spelling words.  Now, our little friends have so many passwords to remember on top of spelling words and math facts!!!  Let's be honest here-we certainly can't keep all of our passwords straight so it is hard to expect a 6 or 7 year old to remember all of theirs on a daily basis.  So we created password cards for each of our activities.  
Password Cards using paint samples!
One of my first grade teammates found this cute idea on Pinterest.  I went to the local Ace Hardware store to get paint samples.  They were super friendly and let me take as many as I wanted...for free!  I love this idea and will be using it again this year! These "password cards" are durable and it is easy for first graders because I can say "IXL is your green password card."  Plus, it was fun when I handed out a new color throughout the year...students would walk in and know that they would be getting to learn a new program that day and be super excited!  

IXL Notecards:
On programs like IXL, students have access to a wide variety of games and skills.  However, I didn't want students just playing a little of everything I wanted my first graders to focus on specific skills to help reinforce what they are learning in math so I began using notecards to help students know which skills they should be practicing.  

As students master skills they get a sticker and new skills.  Students have many skills to choose from at once covering a variety of our common core standards.  Students work at their own pace and get to choose from more skills as they continue to master the old ones.  

Laptop Background:
The first year we had laptops we allowed students to change their background which became a management disaster.  Kids were changing it during times when they were not supposed to (think centers) and some students were setting it to change every 10 minutes...super distracting!  So, as a team we quickly decided to have all first graders set their back to the original desktop background and said no more changing it!  

However, during a team meeting last year, while bouncing ideas off of one another, we came up with the idea of having our students change their background to our reading strategy of the month.  Every time students logged in they were expected to read the strategy to their shoulder partner.  It was great!  

Students looked forward to changing their background each month and they were practicing their reading strategy each and every day of the month!  We did allow students some choice as they got to choose the color around their reading strategy which they loved.  


This past year was also the first year that I put the reading strategy on my SMARTBoard as well.  Although I miss turning on my SMARTBoard and seeing a picture of my dog I do think having the reading strategy as a background (or something else educational) is beneficial to students seeing as they spend a good amount of time seeing this background.


Organization with Plastic Drawers!

I am always looking for new (and better) ways to organize my manipulatives and materials.  As a teacher it seems I am always collecting stuff.  I am finding that if I do not organize things right away it is hard to find things when I need them.  Several years ago I invested in these fabulous plastic drawers. They may look like ordinary drawers but they have lids!  Which makes them wonderful!

I ended up collecting 4 stacks of them-that's 28 drawers!  I put lots of my centers and manipulatives in them  Then, last year I ended up taking a picture of the things that were inside each drawer and putting it on the outside, making it easier to grab things quickly and for kids too to know what is inside each drawer.  

My kids can grab them easily and since there are lids on each one of them they pretty much make for no spills.  When we finish centers the students can easily put them completely away and back in the plastic drawer tower.  

Classroom Uses:
*Label each container and store extra manipulatives in each for easy grabbing.  
*Leave one set without pictures on them and place 7 of your reading and/or math centers in them each week for kids to easily grab them and put them away quickly.
*Put writing center materials for kids in each of the plastic towers.
*Label each of the drawers the different days of the week as well "to copy" and "to grade"  to help you stay organized with all of your papers.

Can you see why I invested in 4 of them  I say invested because they aren't super cheap. However, I have had them since my first and second year of teaching (I am now on my 7th) and they still are holding up fantastically.

I originally got mine from Target stores (and they did go on sale, if I remember correctly) but I tried and tried to search for them online and am having a difficult time finding them.  I remember seeing them at craft stores as well like Joanne's and Hobby Lobby.   It is difficult to tell by the pictures if these containers have lids-but if you have the option of getting the ones with lids they are totally worth it!

I think the Hobby Lobby Containers are the most similar to the containers I have and you can see those by clicking here.  I know I didn't pay this much for them, so they might have gone up in price but the containers are definitely something to keep an eye for if and when they go on sale!

While we are talking about plastic containers... I also love these:
I use these containers to take home papers and things.  I also use it to carry my laminated centers back to school.  They are great and also have a lid which makes things easier!  This would be a cheaper option if you only bought a couple and like the idea of lids, like I do!!! You could still put centers in here and label them in the same way and just stack them on top of each other.  

Click here to see these take home storage bins!

As always, a big thank you to Elizabeth at Fun in Room 4B and Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files for hosting this fabulous linky! I will be very sad to see this linky (and summer) go away!!!  Make sure to hop over and see all of the great ideas teachers are linking up with over at their blogs.

Happy Sunday!


All About Word Families with a Freebie!

Happy Friday! I have to say that I am still just loving summer.... :)

Word Families are a big part of teaching reading in the primary grades. I personally do a lot of practice with word families with my little friends because they need the nice repetition of words in the same word family. In my classroom, I'll do a variety of activities with word families including phonemic awareness practice with just changing the beginning sound, creating lists of words in the same word family, word family journals, practice with rhyming, use them in sentences, read books with word family patterns, etc.  I find that struggling readers tend to feel very successful with reading words in the same word family because they are really only changing one sound and they can usually get the pattern pretty quickly!

Teaching students how to read is a process.  Learning to read is also a process. Both can be very difficult processes! As a result, lots of different strategies need to be in place in order to help students become great readers.  I personally make sure that I am not only teaching my little friends how to read individual words but also am making sure they are seeing those same words in context and applying their reading skills to real sentences and books.

Common Core Alignment:

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.K.2a, RF.K.2c, RF.K.2d, RF.K.2e, RF.K.3a, RF.1.2c, RF.1.2d, RF.1.3b 

I am very excited to use my Word Families Bundle Pack to learn our word families this year! I have mini posters I'll be using to introduce each word family which we'll then use to create a list of words that rhyme with it and fit in that same word family. We'll then do our Word Family Journal which I have done now for a few years and found it very helpful as a tool for me to see who understands how to make words in the same word family and is great practice for my little friends. This is a great weekly activity which can be done after introducing a new word family. Basically, you say a word in the word family of the day, students say it, write it and then you continue this process for five more words. Then at the end, you say a word and the students go back and color the star next to each word. This provides practice with both writing the words and reading them!

Our Word Families Journal pages and mini posters.
I also have a variety of centers included in this pack which will be very helpful in practicing reading and finding words in the same word family. You can check out this pack here!

Matching word family words (CVC) to their picture. 

Finding words in the same word family and reading word family sentences.

Sorting words by word families.

...On to a Freebie!

I will also be using this freebie I created to practice fluently reading words in the same word family.  This will help my little friends work on reading basic words quicker and recognizing the patterns of word family words. You can download this freebie here!

I also incorporate writing into our literacy activities every day.  Reading and writing go hand-in-hand and it is so important that students realize that they can apply their ideas learned while reading to their writing! This can be done simply by having a literacy center be a writing center where students are using the focus words of the week to write sentences or a story. For example, the day we learn our new word family of the day, my little friends would be writing a story or sentences in their journal using the words that we made in our list together. Any little practice helps and this gives you an idea of who is able to apply their ideas learned in reading to their writing!

Thanks to TBA for always hosting such a wonderful Friday linky! Freebie Friday is the best!

Have a great day!


Tune into Technology Linky: Classroom Websites

We have been loving reading all the posts you all have been linking up with for our Tune into Technology linky! This week's topic is Classroom Websites and we are looking forward to getting some great ideas for our websites, so please link up!

Classroom websites are such a great tool for students and their families. They are such a nice way to keep parents informed on all things related to your classroom.  For today's post, we wanted to provide you with a list of what we consider essential items to include on your classroom website...we are sure there are some we're forgetting, but this will hopefully at least get you started! 

Contact Information: Parents need to know the best way to get in touch with you- always mention what your preferred method of contact is so parents will hopefully use that method first! 

Information about yourself: Just like I enjoy reading about you other bloggers out there, parents most likely also like reading about their child's teacher.  Include fun information about yourself as well as your educational/teaching background.

Daily Class Schedule:  It is important that parents know what specials are on which days and the general set up/schedule of your class.  I would include when your reading and math times are as well so maybe they will take that into consideration if they need to pull their child out for a doctor's appointment! 

Weekly/Monthly Calendar: People like to plan ahead-- provide them with information ahead of time by keeping a calendar up to date on your website!

Recommended Educational Websites:  Parents are always looking for ideas of what they can do at home with their child-- create a list of your favorite educational websites so parents can help their students learn at home too! Since we are constantly adding websites the organization of this part is essential.  Please check out our post here of how we use Draggo to organize our classroom websites.  

Tips for Home: Include a list of reading, writing, math activities, etc. that students can do at home with their parents.  Same with the websites, this will give parents an idea of what they can be doing to help their child at home.

Pictures: We LOVE pictures so we incorporate a lot on our classroom websites. We don't necessarily include student faces because some parents do not want that (just ask for approval beforehand) but even including your daily center activities, word wall, journal creations, etc helps gives parents an idea of what their children really are doing while at school each day.

Important Documents: These documents can range from something like Dolch Sight Word lists to field trip sign up forms.  Anything that is important that you want parents to access easily!

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