Saturday, July 16, 2016

Classroom Rules--Keep it Simple!

In the many years that I have been a teacher, coming up with rules has always been a struggle.  I could never find rules I "liked" well enough to buy...  Kids would come up with about a million and one different rules...  I never had the same rules each year!

Last year, I had a big "ah ha" moment.  Why throw rules at these kids like they don't know what to do.  I mean, most kids KNOW how to behave-or know at least what it SHOULD look like, right?  I mean, when's the last time one of your little babes said, "WHAT?!" when you say you shouldn't run with scissors?!  Kids have enough to remember during the day, why add to it with a bunch of rules?

What we did:  Kept it simple!  TWO rules:  1.   Be Kind.  2.  Work Hard.  Think about it.  Doesn't ALL of those other minuscule rules fall under one of those 2 rules?
*Write your name on your paper:  Work hard (or be kind--to your teacher! ha!)
*Raise your hand to speak:  Be Kind
*Walk in the school: Be kind (I mean, if you run, you can hurt others, or even yourself and that's not kind!)

I created a quick, simple packet to include these.  These are actually rules I'll have in my classroom for TWO years in a row so far!



It includes the rule poster (as well as the font letters I used to create the other parts of the display)

It also includes a little pocket chart sort where you can work together (creating that caring classroom climate) sorting those many rules we had under the 2 BIG headings.  {Don't mind my electrical strip that goes down my wall.... off centered..}



As well as a few pages for the kids to work on during the first few days of school to review what our simple rules should be like!




Also included are sample letters we sent home to our parents last year.  We also include a clip chart in each of our rooms as we are to have the same system across the grade level.  I worded it in a way that the letter could be sent no matter what kind of clip chart you had.

Aren't using this across your grade level?  No worries!  I also included an editable template for you to create your own.  Of course you are free to use the wording I used too, since you'll receive that copy too.  I also added in an editable template for you to create other rules to sort in the pocket chart just because I know that I couldn't have managed to get every rule every classroom could possibly have had in my little ole packet.

Click {HERE} to grab this packet!  Please remember that if you do use this across your grade level, the packet is for one classroom use.  If you click and purchase additional licenses, you'll get those at 50% off!  Thank you so much for being considerate!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Cleaning Up Handwriting

I'm going to talk about a little thing today that is quite an issue in all of our classrooms.  Handwriting.  I have a love-hate relationship with it...  as in I just hate(d) it.  Coming from First and now in Second, I always thought that there was NO way I could correct bad handwriting.  They've been doing it for so long, right?!  Well, that all changed when I attended a conference at the beginning of the year on WRITING.  Yep.  WRITING.  Not handwriting.

Guess what.  Handwriting is to writing as math fact fluency is to math... or sight word recognition is to reading.  In order to be a good writer, you have to be a fluent hand-writer!  A huge lightbulb went off when I was learning/relearning some important facts of just handwriting!  I had to present at a faculty meeting afterwards and this was the handout I created.

Handwriting is a motor memory skill.  It's something that is automatic and they could do with their eyes closed!  {Do you find that your students are sitting and thinking about the right way to form a letter?!  Or can they write fluently-and legibly?}

What does that mean?  Well, I'm still not one to think that there is one right way to form letters.  (i.e. Zaner Bloser, D'Nealian, etc..) But I do believe that all should be able to write the letter in whatever way your district requires.  Kinds need lots of practice with fine motor skills, so even copying a letter that it's "the way you want them too" is still practicing handwriting and fine motor skills.

You can relearn how to do things, it just takes some practice.  Think of things you had to learn to do differently--possibly in your teaching.  Just like us, kids can "relearn" handwriting.  Teaching handwriting is also very active-ON YOU!  The final product isn't what we are to be looking for-but rather how they are forming their letters and the only way you can help is by running around.  {Now, this is one area I'm still struggling with-cause, I really don't have time to "teach" handwriting---but keep reading to see how I'm now fitting it in!}

How I'm managing:
I created pages that take very little time to complete, yet is giving students time to practice their letters.  {I actually have 3 different sized print.  Large-kindergarten/beginning grade 1; medium: first/beginning of second; small: second/beginning of third}  I told my students that I was very frustrated with their handwriting and that we are now going to CLEAN UP THEIR HANDWRITING!



What students will do:
See it.  It's important to see the letter on the page written correctly or at the very least-neatly!
*Trace it.  Students trace it.
*Copy it.  Students will copy the letter above.  I have dots for where their pencil should start the letter.
*In these 2 sections, students are encouraged to erase the complete letter if they make a mistake-NOT just PART of the letter that doesn't look right.  We want them to form the letter correctly from the start.



~Hide it.  Students will cover the top part of their page, so they cannot see the letter at all.  They will write their letter as many times it will fit.  Afterwards they will circle their best letter.  They will put a box around their worst-AND FIX IT.  NO ERASING HAPPENS IN THIS SECTION.  This is important for ME to see how they are forming the letters.  This is how I am making up for that time I don't have to run around and watch everyone making their letters.  I can easily see where letters were started.



~Close your eyes.  This is my students' favorite part.  I have students place their pencil point down towards the left of the page at the bottom and will tell them how many letters to make.  Then they will CLOSE THEIR EYES and make the letter!  This is where the motor memory comes into practice.



You do not need to have a specific program to do these activities.  However, I needed something to help me in the classroom, so I have created these packs if you are interested.


{This pack is perfect for Kindergarten or beginning writers! and possibly beginning of first for a review}





    {This pack would be great for end of first grade; beginning of second grade for a review}

{This would be great for 2nd grade-beginning of 3rd for review!}

{OR all 3 in one bundle!}


What's Next?!  I plan on making a D'Neilian and a cursive pack just like these.  You will also find numbers in the near future and I plan on creating "review" packs that will be sight words!  Right now I will have the 3 packs bundled with intentions of adding the numbers and sight words.  (Cursive will have it's own pack as will D'Neilian,  once I find a good font to use for those)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Math for Little Movers...

Winter is upon us... well.  I think it's coming anyway.  It's been unusually hot recently here--though I have recess duty on the first few days back, which are going to be unusually COLD!  Like in the 20's?!  Brrrrrrrr....  I want to share some fun things I do with math time in my classroom.

First, I used to do the math tub thing...  LOVED it.  Don't get me wrong.... it's the correcting of papers that I just can't keep up with this year with a large class.  If they were all doing the same paper, it would be much easier to manage.. (I like to grade 2-3 at a time, comparing the papers to speed up my process... with centers, I only have 1-3 papers per center, so it's a time killer right now)  I do love the differentiation of the tubs/centers and I have a lot of them for first grade.  I have a few for second grade that I was able to use last year with a smaller class and with the help of an aide to correct them.

My kids need to move.  I need to move.  Bodies are not made for sitting.  I like to hang things up around the room, give kids clipboards and let them loose.  Of course, what I created can be used anywhere... it could be a center, small group work, placed on desks and used as a little "Scoot" type activity...  It can be used as a teaching tool, reviewing lesson or even as an assessment.

Step 1:  Print and laminate.  I do this to have for YEARS so that I'm not always doing things last minute to prepare.

Step 2: Hang around the room.  TIP:  I always put mine in numerical order--and I always try to have it clock-wise... and if there are 12 cards, I try to pretend my room is a giant clock.... You know, just as an added teaching tool for the future when we get to telling time! ;)  TIP 2:  If you do these, or plan to do them often, put up stikki clips around the room so all you have to do is slide the cards into the clips instead of getting tape out each time.  {I haven't done that yet, but should... I just reuse tape each time.  I take the old card down when I put up the new one and put the tape on the new one}


Cards with skills like this are from my Rockin' Around the Clock.  I don't have pictures of this new pack in action yet.  (and these cards are not available yet.  As I created them, I switched my idea to Rock Around the Clock)



Step 3:  Students walk around the room and answer the cards.  Clipboards make it more fun!

THIS worksheet is still the same in my Rock Around The Clock set!

NOTE:  My recording sheets are always very similar.  I do NOT want to spend time teaching kids HOW to COMPLETE a recording sheet.  I'd rather them have the extra time to apply their knowledge to some new thinking.  Not all of my activities are ones that were actually "taught" from the book.  They have to take what they know and apply it.  They LOVE it!

I want to share one of the activities from my newest pack, that is snowman themed-with you because I just hit my second milestone on Teachers Pay Teachers!  TPT has changed my life.  I'm thankful for everything it has brought to me from meeting new friends to having a creative outlet again in a profession that is starting to grow uncreative thinking. ;)  It has brought me happiness in a career that has so many leaving and/or miserable.  That in itself is HUGE.  The extra money made is secondary to all that.  If you ever have that thought of "should I?"  YES!  You should!  You have nothing to lose.    And of course, I would have none of this without any of YOU.  I'm most thankful for teachers like you who email, comment and buy things from me.  It means the world to me and I will be forever grateful to you.

Click on any of the pictures below to see it in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!






This activity makes students think.  They need to decide whether the second number tells how many hundreds, tens or ones is in the first number!  My kids LOVED this one!


These cards have students locate the numbers in each place.  They will write how many 100s, 10s and 1s each number has.


This is my favorite activity.  Students will walk around and rearrange the numbers to make the largest number possible and the smallest, using all of the numbers ;)  They will also write another number it makes too.

This activity can be used TWICE in this pack.  I have 2 recording sheets with 2 different skills to practice.  The first one has students just writing what number it makes.  Notice that the number of 100s, 10s and 1s are not in order.  The Second activity has students writing the numbers in expanded form.


This activity has 2 versions.  The first version is for practice comparing numbers less than 100.  The second has students practicing comparing numbers greater than 100.  The recording sheet is the same for both-the cards they look at are different.


Thanks for stopping by and make sure to check back here soon for some exciting news!


Friday, January 1, 2016

'Snow Easy Snow Globes!

I cannot believe that it's the new year!  I have so many things that I'm thankful for in the past year and excited to see where the new year takes me!  I've recently hit my second milestone on TPT and am super excited and feverishly working on something to celebrate {though, with this short break of ours and the fact that THREE out of 5 of us had a stomach bug... including me... kinda had me on a standstill}

I wanted to share a quick and easy project for you to start when you head back to school... Of course, it hasn't been too cold yet or I would have taken the kids' pictures before school left out for our winter break... but Mother Nature had other plans... I mean-we were in shorts and short sleeves on CHRISTMAS EVE!  (in Pennsylvania!  And to give you an idea of our usual temperature... every year on my time hop app has shown snow on those days! lol)



Step One-gather your supplies.  You need construction paper, crayons (or oil pastels for fun!), hot glue, fake snow (I get mine on clearance at the craft stores after Christmas!  One or 2 bags will get you through a class)  and clear plates... WATCH OUT on the plates.  You don't want to get plates that have anything on the bottom.. you know that say "recycle" etc...  it needs to be clear.  I have always gotten my plates at Party City.. THIS year I'm getting the smaller plates since I have more students  than in the past and need to fit them all out on the wall.

Step Two:  Take student pictures wearing their winter gear...  Or have some for them to wear.  Have them strike a "winter" pose.  Print them out.  I printed a 5x7 for the large plates.  I'm thinking this year I'll print them in a 4x6 size.

Step Three:  Trace the plate onto construction paper.  Have students draw a winter scene.  If able, give them their picture so they will know what it will look like once they glue their pic on the paper.  They could glue it now too.  TIP: make sure to tell them to not draw IMPORTANT things at the edge.  The plate will cover it up. ;)

Step Four:  Laminate the paper-this will protect it from the hot glue you'll be using later!

Step Five:  Put a few handfuls of snow in the center of the picture.



Step Six:  Squirt a little hot glue on the edge where the plate will go and place the plate face down-QUICKLY before it gets hard!



Step Seven: Jam hot glue underneath the plate the rest of the way around.  Pay special attention to the bottom so that the snow will not fall out.




















Step Eight:  Have students write about it!  Use the following papers to help guide their writing!


{Click on the pictures to download the file!}


Step Nine:  Staple the paper to their projects and hang in the hall!




You'll be walking in a winter wonderland in no time at all!  Make sure to check out the other fabulous ideas from my friends in the i Teach Second hop!




Wednesday, December 2, 2015

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year... for classroom behavior?!

I want to share an oldie but goodie with you today and I'm linking up with my friends at i Teach Second.  One that I just absolutely love.  We do "bucket filling" at our school, but to do this, you don't NEED to be using it to be successful!

So, the biggest challenge going back after Turkey break--is the impending excitement of December.  I mean, what kid DOESN'T get excited about December, no matter what holiday they celebrate?  There's excitement all around, and in little bodies it's just harder to contain than in our bigger, adult bodies.  ;)

This is a quick, easy idea to get students thinking about others.  I created a little pack for filling STOCKINGS.  The pre-made recording sheet makes it simple for even the littlest-little to complete.  One extra step that I do is that I type up a class list of names for each student.  They circle their own name, so we know who's list it is when I find it on the floor it gets misplaced.

I realize that I do not have an example of the writing the kids did.  {I was out on maternity leave last year and didn't snap pics, obviously... and I'm unable to locate any from 2 years ago.  BUT-this pack is free, so feel free to download and decide for yourself if you think it's something you'd like!}  Click {HERE} or on the picture below to download your freebie!






Make sure to check out all my other friends' great ideas!




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