Saturday, August 25, 2012

Open House and some Classroom Photos

Whew!  Teacher Work Week is over!  We had a week full of meetings, cleaning, decorating, planning, organizing, and a district-wide Back to School Celebration (complete with hundreds of teachers in a huge auditorium competing for a Spirit Award, dressed up as everything from Pirates to Alligators).  It's amazing what teachers will do for an ice cream party ;) 

Thursday night I met my sweet new kids, and I know we ALL say our "sweet new kids" at the beginning of the year, but I'm telling you this group of kids are SO S.W.E.E.T.!!  I am really looking forward to this year!  So, when I started this blog I did so with the intention of talking about life in a k-1 combo and I know that I haven't done that yet but I definitely will once school gets started!  I taught first grade last year, so it made me forget just how tiny a beginning kindergartner is!  I can't wait to get started!

So, onto the classroom photos.  I have been looking at some other people's classroom photos, and I will tell you that my classroom is NOT as fancy as some of the amazing ones that I have seen out there, but I love it!  I decided to go with an owl theme this year, and I have had so much fun finding and creating new owl resources!

Here is my hallway bulletin board.  It says "Look Whoooo's in Our Class".  Now that I am looking at the picture I can see that the top of the tree is not centered, so I will have to go back and fix that on Monday!
 The owls were SUPER easy to make.  I just made a little template and traced them on scrap book paper.  The bellies and beaks are just free-handed pieces of scrap book paper, and for the eyes, I just made two circles on the computer with an oval inside and printed them out.  Here's a closer look:
This is a view looking over the tops of the kids cubbies at my storage cupboards.  I put some favorite books in the cubbies above the counter to add some color over there.  I like the simplicity of it!  The cupboards above the books will soon be filled with vocabulary words that we find in our read-alouds.  I just photocopy the cover of the book and put the words we learned next to the picture then the kids keep a vocabulary journal all year.  (I'll post about it when we get rolling!) 

Here's my little corner of the world.  My guided reading table.  Nothing fancy, but soooo much learning happens here!
My school is transitioning to a PBIS model (Positive Behavior Intervention and Support) so we are using clip charts this year.  I made this little clip chart for the other first grade teachers on my team.  I read an AWESOME post from the Clutter-Free Classroom (check it out here) about having the kids add stars to their clip each time they end the day on outstanding.  You can read all about it over on her blog, but I am definitely going to give that a try!
Here are my science, math, and writing walls.  Again, not fancy but will hold so much great information.  I am all about having kids create (or help create) most of the things that hang on the walls, so they are pretty bare right now.  You can also see my (mostly empty) writing center and part of my listening/iPod/Nook center
My Owl Job Chart.  The sign and small owls were FREE from here and I made the tree from a piece of clipart that I blew up.
If you saw my classroom library picture from my last post, you will know that this is a HUGE improvement!  I'm going to try out a Pinterest-inspired book borrowing system this year.  The kids will take their clothespin from the cup and clip it to the box that they borrowed a book from so that they know where to return the book.  I hope it works because I strongly dislike sorting books!  It looks like there are lots of books available to the kids, but they are only allowed to take books from the shelves that are inside the red duct tape.  I will switch out the book boxes for the ones that are on the high shelves.
Here's another view:
And last but not least is my finished word wall.  I posted about the coffee filter garland in my last post, and the letter cards I made are available here.  My amazing assistant is working on laminating some yellow strips of paper to hang between the rows of letters so that the kids can take the words off and put them back on.  They use the words in their writing all the time and love to come take words off the wall.  The words will be stuck with sticky tack.  I hope it works!  I also have a step stool that they will use to get the top row words down.
Well, I think that's enough for one day!  I can not WAIT to start school on Monday!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Classroom Pics (Scary!) and New Word Wall!

I went in to work in my room today, and MAN do I have lots of work to do before my kiddos come on the 27th!  This is what the reading corner looks like right now:
YIKES!!!  I inherited a bunch of books from a teacher who moved up to 5th grade so I'm attempting to add them to my already huge collection of books and display in an attractive way.  Big job.  Notice the empty bulletin board in the background.  That is going to say "Reading is a hoot"  to go with my owl theme.  I'll hang reading-related material there, like an anchor chart for "How to Find a Just Right Book," etc.  I'd rather think about a cute bulletin board rather than the enormous piles of books!

Here is my work-in-progress that I'm super excited about!  I made new owl-themed word wall headers and cards, but I wanted a cute looking "Word Wall" sign and was dying for a way to use this amazing tutorial I stumbled upon here. (Check it out, it is awesome).  So, this was born:
Those are COFFEE FILTERS!  Amazing.  And it was so easy!  Here is a closer look, this picture is hard to read.

I'll have to add more pictures after I get my Owl Letters hung up.  If you're interested in the owl word wall cards, they are available here.

What are you working on for your room that you are super excited about???

Sunday, August 12, 2012

A Back to School project!

Today is my last Sunday of summer where the only thing I "have" to do is enjoy my church service and play with my darling children.  My district heads back for teacher workdays next Monday.  Along with that comes the Sunday afternoons that are filled with last minutes lesson plans and adjustments, answering emails, and so on. 

Of course, no teacher goes all summer without working on classroom ideas!  Here is my newest project that I am super excited about!  Of course, I had a perfectly fine system of having kids make lunch choices, but when I saw this idea on Pinterest, I just had to have one of my own!  At the bottom, I will clip pictures of the daily lunch choices.  My school usually has 2 or 3 choices, so I had to have a second cookie sheet.

The best part of this system (in my opinion) are the cute name magnets.  Here is a close-up:
Do you know how easy these are to make? (And cheap!!!)  I got a bag of clear "stones" from the Dollar Tree, slapped some Modge Podge on the flat side, cut out scrap book paper circles with the kiddos' names on them, some more Modge Podge on the scrapbook paper and voila!  When I get to school next week I just have to put some magnetic tape on the back and we are set to go!  And at the end of the year, they will have a cute little name magnet to take home! 

All-in-all, this project cost me so little.  The stones were $1, each cookie sheet was $1, the spool of blue ribbon was $1 (and I have oodles left over).  I had the scrap book paper and the letters already and I also have the magnetic tape so this was super cheap!  Oh, and the Modge Podge!!...Now, I may be one of the thriftiest people on the planet, so it would have killed me to buy a jar of $7 Modge Podge.  I just make my own by mixing half white glue and half water.  SO...CHEAP... and works just as well!

Fun projects like this just make going back to school so much more exciting!  What are you working on for your classroom???

Here goes nothing!

Alright, here we go!  As a self-proclaimed teaching blog addict, I have wanted to start my own blog for some time now.  I've gone back and forth and wondered if I would have anything worth sharing, what I would write about, would anyone read it....and so forth.  So at long last, here I am...going for it!  I'm still not sure about any of those questions I originally had, but I'll never know if I don't try! 

This is my 3rd year teaching, and I'm tackling a kindergarten and first grade combination class for the second time.  (My 1st year teaching was a k-1 combo).  I'm a little apprehensive about doing the combo again, but I should be a pro now, right?!?!  Last year felt like a walk in the park teaching just the firsties, so I guess I'm due for another challenge.

In this blog, I hope to share some of my successes and challenges, trials and tribulations, and overall ups and downs of teaching two grade levels in one classroom.  I'm also really hoping to connect with some other teachers who have taught combination classes.  So, grab an ice cold Coke (or maybe a glass of red wine) and enjoy!