Friday, August 28, 2009

I went to another school today for a meeting and they had really cool artwork up in their library. Each grade level painted a picture of The Cat in the Hat using a different style:

Kindergarten - Pointillism

First - Collage

Second - Fauvism

Third - Cubism

Fourth - Pop Art

Fifth - Expressionism

I'm in charge of the Art Show and I plan to do something similar this year. I'll probably pick something other than "The Cat in the Hat" (even though he's very cute). The Art Show's in May, I'll post pics then.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Where is Everyone?

A great way to keep track of your students is to use a chart like the one in the picture. Every student has a clothespin with their name on it. The first thing they do when they come in, is to move their clothespin over to "I'm Here". This is an easy way to take attendance. If a student needs to use the restroom, go to the office or nurse, etc., they move their clothespin to that section on the chart. It's an easy way to keep track of your students.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book Hospital

I always have broken/ripped books that need to be fixed. They're usually all over the place. I decided this year to create a "Book Hospital". It's just a simple tub that I or the students can throw a broken book into. I also have packing tape in the tub, that way parent volunteers can check the tub and fix any books that are in it.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Justin Pierce Art Mural

I met Justin through some friends and immediately loved his work. He painted a mural at a friend's studio and I asked if he would be willing to paint a mural at my school. He said "Yes" and I was very excited. Justin started the mural today and will finish it on Friday. I took a picture of the finished results of Day 1 and I will post more pics tomorrow.

Check out Justin's website:

Follow him on Twitter:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Brag Board

Every month I send home a note to parents asking them to fill out the "Brag Board" paper for the month. The paper is then displayed on the bulletin board and at the end of the month it goes into the student's scrapbook (Scroll down to read about my scrapbooks). I try to make every month go along with the holiday of that month. Here is what I do:

August - School House or Crayon Box - The parents write a "Good Luck" message.

September - Apple - (Child's name) is the apple of my eye because...

October - Pumpkin - (Child's name) is my pumpkin because...

November - Turkey - I'm thankful for (Child's name) because...

December - Christmas Tree or Snowman - The parents write their child's
favorite holiday memory.

January - Penguin - Parent's write their child's New Year Wishes.

February - Heart - (Child's name) is lovable because...

March - Shamrock - I'm lucky to have (Child's name) because...

April - Ladybug or Butterfly - (Child's name) is as cute as a bug because...

May - Flower - (Child's name) blossomed in first grade because...

If your school does Character Counts, you could replace some of those and say - (Child's name) is Trustworthy because... and so on.

The children love this and they love when I read their parent's note to them.

I've attached a picture of my current Brag Board. Before and after I put their photos in the Fish Bowl.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Workshop is a different approach to centers. There are 20 tasks that the students need to complete, this allows the students to go at their own pace. I place the tasks on a bulletin board and number them 1 - 20. The first 8 tasks are on a worksheet:
  1. They write their name, date and day.
  2. Handwriting Practice, either a letter or word.
  3. Fact Family
  4. Alphabetical Order, they put letters or words in ABC order.
  5. Complete the Pattern
  6. Write how many days they've been in school in ones, tens & hundreds.
  7. Dictionary Word Find - They find 4 words in the dictionary, write the page # and definition.
  8. Pencil Illustration - Draw a picture using only a pencil.
Once they've completed the worksheet, they can do activities around the room. Here are the ones I use:

  • Read the Room
  • Calendar
  • Art Center
  • Listening Center
  • Finish 1 paper in their Work Folder
  • Practice Spelling Words
  • Phonics Center
  • Math Center
  • Journal Writing
  • A.R. Book
  • Clean Desk
  • Free Choice
You can choose any activities you want and switch them throughout the year. I usually do workshop 2 times a week. At the beginning, we go through the worksheet together and only do a few activities. As time goes on, the worksheet becomes easier and they become more independent.

I learned about workshop 6 years ago and I believe it's made by a company. However, I made my own and customized it to my students. I recently tried to locate a website for this, but could not find it. If you know of the company that makes "Workshop", please let me know.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Dado Cubes

Dado combines art and science as you explore architectural principles . . . proportion, balance, structure and color. A new twist on classic building blocks, Dado engages your imagination as the slits on each cube are interlocked to create an unlimited number of three-dimensional structures. Constructed horizontally, vertically or nested together, Dado invites visual spatial development and problem solving through design-centered, attention-grabbing fun!
  • Loaded with educational benefits
  • Developed, manufactured, and assembled right here in the USA!

Dado Cubes

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Getting Your Classroom Floor Cleaned Fast

By the end of the day, I usually have scraps of paper, pencils, markers, etc. all over the floor. A great game I use is called "Secret Scrap". I look around the room and find 2 or 3 items on the floor, I then inform the students to go find the "Secret Scrap". They love it and pick everything off the floor! I stand by the trash can and look at their trash and say "Thank you". They learn not to ask me if they found the "Secret Scrap" because I only say "Thank you" or "Put that where it belongs". After everything is picked up, the students go back to their seats and I let them know who found the "Secret Scrap". You can give candy, stickers, raffle tickets, etc. depending on your reward system.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

All About Me Poster

A great thing to have displayed for Open House is an "All About Me" poster of yourself. Your students will love seeing photos of you, your family and/or pets. I also attach a photo of myself when I was younger so they can see what I used to look like. After the first week of school, I start having the students complete an "All About Me" poster. You can either go in alphabetical order or go by birthdays (these seem the most fair). When my students are "Student of the Week", they fill out the poster and present it to the class. We then make him/her a "Friendship Book". Each
student writes a few sentences about them and draws them a picture. The student who is the student of the week, draws the cover. I then bind it and make it into a book! They love it! Also, when students are Student of the Week, I have them bring in snack for the week and something to "Show and Tell" on Friday. The posters I like to use are from Scholastic:

Monday, July 27, 2009

Meet the Teacher Night/Open House

Here are a few ideas that you can do at Meet the Teacher Night:

  • Scavenger Hunt - Have the students locate different areas in the classroom.
  • The students can decorate a bookmark or name tag that they will use during the year.
  • Have the parents take an item from your "Wish List".
  • Have the parents write a message in their child's journal.
  • Have an Estimation Jar, the winner gets to take it home on the first day of school.
  • Display textbooks and curriculum that the students will be using.
  • Have a large white sheet of butcher paper for the students to draw on.
  • Have a slide show running of pictures from past students and projects.
  • Have a Raffle Drawing.
  • Have a Volunteer Sign-Up Sheet for parents to fill out.
  • Give out small bags of popcorn saying - "Thanks for Popping In!"
  • Give out mints with a note saying- "Thanks for Coming, It "Mint" A Lot!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Great Ideas From Scholastic

I came across this website from Scholastic.

It has tons of great ideas, I posted one below.

Time Capsules

Submitted by Julie Brown (Grade 1 teacher, Vermont)

At the beginning of the year I take pictures of the students and make copies. We place one photo in a time capsule along with a writing sample and a string showing how tall they are at the beginning of the year. Then they fill out sheets about what they like and don't like, as well as a hopes-and-dreams card. Their hopes and dreams have to be something school-related, things they hope they will learn this school year. The students also get a special wishing rock that they make a wish on, which goes with their hopes and dreams. They put all this in their time capsules (which are paper towel tubes with tissue paper covering the bottom). The students decorate their time capsules with tissue paper, sequins, pom-poms, streamers, two wiggly eyes (the time capsules keep an eye on them all year), etc. We hang them from the ceiling and take them down on the last day of school when we redo the same activities for comparison. The students are so excited about seeing if their hopes and dreams came true, and they love to see how much they have grown.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Student Scrapbook

Here's a great idea for making scrapbook's for your students. When I first thought of the idea to make a scrapbook for my students, there wasn't anything out there that worked for me. After brainstorming several ideas, I came up with one and have used it for the past 7 years. Here are the directions to make the scrapbook:
  • You need 5 folders for each student, I usually get different colors.
  • Cut all the folders in half.
  • Each scrapbook will have 10 sides of each folder
  • Some scrapbooks will have pockets on the left and some on the right.
  • For the scrapbooks that have pockets on the right, place a piece of card stock on the front and bind together.
  • For scrapbooks that have pockets on the left, place a piece of card stock on the back and bind together.
  • You will now have a scrapbook that, when opened, there will be a pocket side and a flat side.
  • In the pocket, place student's work for each month.
  • On the flat side, place pictures and a note from their parents.
  • At the end of the year, you will have a finished scrapbook to give your students.

I have a crate with a folder for each student, every month I keep some of their work in the folder. At the end of the month, I have a parent volunteer come in and place the student's work in their scrapbook and attach the pictures. It's easier to have the same volunteer do the scrapbook every month. It's consistent and you don't have to explain what to do every time.

This project can be very expensive (folders, binding combs, picture developing
and double-sided tape). So, at the beginning of the year, I ask parents to donate money to the scrapbook fund. I make it optional and I make every student a scrapbook. I don't want to leave a child out because his/her parents didn't contribute to the scrapbook fund.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Guessing Jar

A fun math activity you can do on a monthly basis is a Guessing Jar! Depending on your grade, you can make it easier or more challenging. Each month, fill a jar with an item and have the students guess how many items are in the jar. This teaches them: Estimation, prediction, counting and skip counting. At the end of the month, count the items in the jar as a class. I usually start by giving each student 5 or 10 of each item. Pass out the items until they are all gone, then count them as a class. If every student has 10, count by 10's and so on. The student closest to the correct number can win a certificate and any left over items in the jar (if you use candy). I usually place candy in the jars and then the students can eat the candy after we are done counting. Here are some ideas for candy:
  • January - Marshmallows (snow balls)
  • February - Candy Hearts
  • March - Gold Coins
  • April - Jelly Beans
  • May - Gumdrops
  • June/July - Summer Break!!!!
  • August - Cereal
  • September - Gumballs
  • October - Halloween Candy
  • November - Candy Corn
  • December - Mini Candy Canes
You can also use any seasonal M & M's for a certain month

Ideas for non-edible items:
  • Beads
  • Buttons
  • Pasta (colored or plain)
  • Shells
  • Smooth Pebbles (Arts and Crafts stores have these)
  • Pom Poms
  • Math Counters (teddy bears, etc)
  • Dried Beans
  • Marbles

  • Here is a picture of my Guessing Jar at Open House!!!

    Wednesday, July 22, 2009

    Desk Set-up

    Another tough decision as a teacher is "How should I set-up the desks?". I have tried every desk configuration you can think of- rows (desks together and apart), U-shape, small groups & large groups put together. The one I like the best is a group of desks surrounding an empty desk. The empty desk in the middle can be used for supplies, books, a basket to turn in papers, etc. With the students all facing each other, they can learn to work as a group. I've attached a picture of my desks and a link that shows the importance of collaborative learning.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Awesome Bookcase!!!

    I really love IKEA and really love a bookcase they make. I have two at home and just purchased one for my classroom. I decided to use the bookcase in my Calendar/Library Center. I placed it horizontally and used baskets I purchased from Really Good Stuff. Inside the baskets, I placed books and items for the calendar. I've attached links to find the bookshelf and baskets. I've also included a picture of the bookshelf in my classroom.

    Play in the Classroom

    I've been teaching for 9 years and have always felt that play is an important part of a child's learning. Other teachers would call me the "laid-back" teacher because I let Johnny stand while he does his work or I let my kids "play" too much. Luckily, my principal understands my style of teaching and sees that it does work. I'm constantly watching my students while they play and interact with each other and believe 100% that they learn more through play than through worksheets. Of course, I still do worksheets and the required curriculum, however, I also let my kids play a lot throughout the day. Play to me includes anything that they choose to do (draw, puzzles, blocks, play teacher, etc). Giving them a choice in what they do is a huge part of my classroom. As an adult, I would never want to be told that I need to go put a puzzle together. Students need to love what they're doing, this builds self-esteem and a love for learning. I came across an article that supports my view:,_activity,_Brain-Based_Learning,_Play,Lesson_Upgrades.html

    Monday, July 20, 2009

    Teacher Wish List

    At the beginning of the year there are supplies that students are required to bring (pencils, folders, etc.), however there are items that teachers need or want, but don't want them to be "required". Here's a great idea I've used and still use - A Teacher Wish List!!!! Brainstorm some items that you need or want in your classroom. Then write these items on die-cut shapes. In the past, I've used apples and taped them to a tree I made out of butcher paper. I've also cut out shapes that looked like t-shirts & pants and hung them on a clothes line. If you're short on time, just tape them to your board or front door. When parents come to Meet the Teacher Night, let them know about your Wish List and invite them to "pick" an apple off the tree or take an "item" off the clothes line. Here are some ideas for your wish list:

    • Sharpie Markers
    • Ream of Colored Paper
    • Ziploc Baggies in various sizes
    • Plastic Utensils
    • Paper Plates/Cups
    • Band-Aids
    • Baby Wipes
    • Puzzles
    • Games
    • Gift Cards to Teacher Stores

    Sunday, July 19, 2009

    Spelling Tip

    I learned this tip a few years ago, not sure why I never thought about it before. If your students are struggling with the use of "wr" at the beginning of a word as opposed to just using the letter "r", here's a easy trick. Most words that begin with "wr" have to do with twisting/turning in some way. Examples:

    • wrist- your wrist rotates in a circle.
    • wreck- cars get twisted in a wreck.
    • wrench- a tool used in a turning motion.
    • wrestler- twists his opponent.
    • wreath- shaped like a circle.
    • wring- twisting
    • write - you must turn your wrist in order to write.
    Those are just a few examples. I hope this helps your students.

    Saturday, July 18, 2009

    Bathroom Pass Idea

    Here is a great idea to keep track of who is in the bathroom. Keep 2 objects by the door- One for boys and one for girls. I've used stuffed animals in the past. Before a student can ask you to use the bathroom, they have to see if the object is available. If it is, they can ask you permission. If you say yes, they go get the object, take it to there desk and go to the bathroom. I don't have the students carry an actual pass to the bathroom because the bathroom is full of germs. I remember one time, a boy came back, gave the pass to another boy and then let me know that the pass fell in the toilet. Yuck! Do you have any other great pass ideas? Let me know!

    Friday, July 17, 2009


    One thing as teachers we can't avoid is tattling. I have tried several things in the past to minimize tattling. The one that worked the best was to have the students write down their tattles and place it in a basket/box. At the end of the day, I would select a few tattles to read out loud. I would make sure to pick tattles that would not embarrass anyone. We would then discuss the tattle and what could be done differently in the future. I recently came across a "Tattling Turtle" in a Really Good Stuff catalog. He's really cute!!!! It comes with a poster, turtle, basket and index cards to write down the tattles.
    Check him out:

    My First Blog

    Hello everyone! I'm very excited to start this blog. There are so many ideas I want to share with you that I'm not sure where to start. Here are a few things I will be "blogging" about: Student Scrapbooks, Brag Board, Desk Set-up, Organization, First Day of School and so much more.

    Our school year starts August 3rd, so in the next few weeks, I will be in my classroom taking photos of what I want to share with you.

    If you have any questions, please leave a comment.

    Thank you,