Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Apple Shape Craft

This super simple apple craft is perfect to get those kiddos cutting, reviewing shapes & colors and following directions at the beginning of the year.  Bonus... super easy prep for teachers (should I say more!).

My class last year LOVED crafts... They were my go-to every Wednesday afternoon (our no prep, no leaving the class for anything kind of day....ahhhh!).  Coming up with a craft every week was a bit of a challenge.... major pinterest/TPT browsing and a little creating of my own.  This one is super simple but gets kids cutting (circle practice...) and reviewing basic shapes.  

To make this craft extra easy to prep you can simply print the patterns onto colored paper. There are so many amazing colors & shades of colored paper (that just zip through the photo-copier) to choose from these days! 

The only color I had trouble finding was brown...   I trimmed a sheet of astro-brights construction paper to fit through my printer & it worked great.  Other options would be to print the stem on white paper & have your students color it brown or trace the shape onto brown construction paper if it won't go through your printer.

I do suggest using card stock or construction paper for the background to make it nice & sturdy.  I thought the black background made the craft really stand out but any color would work.

Once the pieces are all prepped and ready to go students can get easily grab the shapes they need and cut & paste away!  To add a little extra learning... students record the color of their apple and count the shapes they used.  

Want to try this craft with your class?  Click the image below.

Saturday, 8 October 2016

Five for Thanksgiving

Five For Thanksgiving 8/10/16

I'm linking up with Doodle Bug Teaching for....

Today is the beginning of our Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend.   We have many of the same traditions as in the United States.... turkey, pumpkin pie and football.   However, it is more of a harvest festival (hence the earlier date....end of November in Canada is winter!) and not so much about pilgrims, the Mayflower etc..

This week was all things turkey!  So of course we had to label one....  I find modelling invented (phonetic) spelling really encourages my students to do this independently in their own writing.  The students got sooo excited helping me sound out all the words on this chart.  We sounded like a bunch of wild turkeys with everyone shouting out sounds & letters but so much good learning was going on!

We were just wrapping up our review of numbers to ten when some pesky little turkeys kept covering up some of our numbers!  

What is Thanksgiving without a turkey craft!  These little turkeys helped us review our shapes and colours and were so darn adorable......

Turkeys aside.... my favourite part of Thanksgiving in the classroom is talking about all the things we have to be grateful for.  Here are some of my favourite books about being thankful:

We also made our own little Thanksgiving sight word booklets.  These are included in my Thanksgiving Printable Pack.    

Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian friends!

Friday, 16 September 2016

Five for Friday Sept. 16

Five For Friday 16/09/16

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for....

I am back to work after a two year leave and so excited and happy to be back in the classroom BUT so tired....   

OK....I actually just finished week 3 but I'm still feeling it!

Math work station training is happening in my class right now.  I try to start right away with free exploration of materials and an emphasis on the routines.  These are the 3 rules we start out with...
This is a hard for some of our students... especially when one of the stations involves play dough and you aren't at it!!  We talk a lot about how we will all get a chance to try all the stations but we must stay at the station we are assigned.  I acknowledge that it is hard but that I know that they can do it!  I can't say it better than one of my students did today "Stay at your center and be happy about it".

I try to avoid negative rules but I know from experience that the first thing children will do with a nice tub filled up with buttons or pattern blocks or unifix cubes is to dump them all out.  Really...why wouldn't you!  Except for the fact that it makes a huge mess and takes forever to clean up and your teacher will cancel math work stations for a week (at least)!  Not one tub dumped this year...yet!

Even without dumped tubs cleaning up math work stations is a big job and we all have to help out.  Enough said...

Next week I will introduce...Work Quietly.  This is important for when I begin to pull small groups.

Soon I will introduce some more structured tasks at their math stations but for now they explore...

For our last period on Friday we have... Fun Friday!  This of course includes some free choice play time but this year I am starting it out with a story and quick follow up activity.  To keep it "fun" I have been using this time to read those popular books kids just seem to love... you know what books I am talking about!  I love using books to teach all sorts of concepts but reading just for pure enjoyment is important too (and truthfully the only thing you will get away with on the last period on a Friday afternoon).  For the last two weeks it has been all about Pete the Cat and the follow up has been simply a colouring sheet. This week we read Bears New Friend and did this follow up page. Click >>> HERE to download your own copy.   

After a busy week who doesn't love Friday! It is family movie night in my house....which isn't complete without some popcorn surprise and a diet coke!

Hope you had a great week! 

Friday, 19 August 2016

Interactive Notebooks In the Primary Classroom

Nervous about trying out Interactive Notebooks with your young students?  Don't be!  All it takes is a little training and organization to get your students Interactive Notebooking away (it's a thing) ......

Start Slow
I know you are excited to jump right in and get your students filling those notebooks but this is a time to go slow ....  Make sure you have all the supplies the students will need organized and ready to go. Try a sample first in the type of notebook the students will be using so you can see where everything will fit on the page.  Introduce things slowly... one step at a time. Give your students several chances to practice with your support before expecting them to complete pages independently.  And this is important to know..... there is a good chance your students will be slow too!  This is where I think some teachers give up because it seems too time consuming.  Stick in there... they get quicker, I promise!

Start Simple
Interactive notebooks come with all sorts of fun pockets, flaps, tabs, trifolds... but it is best to start out with something a little more simple.  Look for fewer pieces to cut and glue, easy shapes to cut and a simple, repetitive layout.  

Step by Step
Follow the lead of New Kids on the Block (my musical references give away my age...) and literally go through the whole process step by step with your students.  Here are some things to think about when introducing the steps.
*What do you want them to cut out first, second & so on?
*Where on the page do you want them to place each piece?
*Where do they apply the glue to the back of each piece?  This is especially important with flaps.... I was so stressed about flaps but my first graders LOVED them.  The first time we made them & they realized they opened and closed a few kids actually clapped (and I joined in when I realized not one student had glued their flap closed).  
*How to glue or print something so it is hidden under the flap.
*What supplies do you want them to use?  Glue sticks or White glue?  Crayons or Markers?  

Tips and Tricks

*Highlight the lines you want students to cut.  Most students will only need you to do this once or twice and they will be on their way. 

*Have a spot for students to put their pieces while they are working so they don't get mixed up with their neighbours.  A small bowl, dixie cup, or recycled fruit cup with their name on it works great.

*Keep students from losing pieces if they don't complete in one sitting. Attach a ziploc bag inside the back cover of their notebook to hold loose pieces.

Don't be afraid to change things up to make them work for your students. 
*You don't need to do everything included. 
*You can have your students glue things in a different way than suggested.  
*Add some additional activities of your own. 
*Differentiate for individual students

My TPT best seller is a set of Sight Word Interactive Notebooks and I get lots of questions about how I use them in my classroom.  Even though I designed them I don't always use them exactly as suggested!  I will be writing a blog post about this soon.....

Don't Forget to use them as a Reference!
I have to admit when I created my first Sight Word notebook I didn't even officially know about "interactive notebooks".  All I knew was that we were doing a ton of worksheets to practice our sight words and it was too much paper, too disorganized and probably just hitting the trash can when it got home.  I loved the idea of having everything together in one notebook and .... this is important... a place for them to revisit and practice.  No matter what kind of interactive notebook you do: alphabet, math concepts, science or sight words make sure to build in the time for your students to "read" their notebook and reinforce those important skills.

Interested in giving them a try? Click here >>>> Sight Words Interactive Notebooks.  The preview has a free sample to download and try out.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Three Simple Name Activities for Back to School

Names are the perfect place to start at the beginning of a new school year! Using names is relevant and familiar to our kiddos and an awesome way for students to get to know each other and build community. 

1. Name Printing Mats
Most primary kiddos can use a little practice with their names when they start a new school year.  Whether they are learning to print their name for the first time, need practice with letter formation or have the "all CAPS" bad habit, it is an essential back to school skill. These name printing mats are quick and easy to make and can be used as long as your students need them. 

I made mine in Word and simply typed each student's name twice at the top of each page.  I centred my text and then typed each name once in black and once in yellow.  The yellow is great for tracing without needing a fancy dotted line font.  Use whatever font you like best, making sure it has a letter formation consistent to that used in your classroom.   The font I used is called KG Primary Penmanship.  This font can be found in Kimberly Geswein's Store on TPT and is free for personal classroom use.  CLICK for link.

That's it..   Print and they are ready to go!  To make them a little more "fancy" I printed mine out on some bordered printer paper that I bought at my local stationary store.  Make sure to look in the discount section.... I got a large pack that I has lasted me for a few classes of name mats.

To make them reusable simply laminate or slip into a page protector and use with dry erase markers.  With my kinders I always laminated them because they got so much use throughout the year.  Once they got their own name mastered they loved to try printing all their friend's names too!  I would stick them in our writing center and they would be used all year long.  With my firsties I tuck them in page protectors because they are only used at the beginning of the year.  Once their names are mastered I take them out and let them print their names with "special" markers in their very neatest printing and take them home.  

2. Name Pocket Chart Sentence
If you can get past the fact that this is totally a run on and on and on.... sentence, this little activity is a great way to get students reading classmates' names and learning a few sight words. The fact that is does go on and on is precisely why kids seem to like it so much and it can't hurt to have the sight word "and" mastered in the first week of school!  For our kinders often their name is the only word they know and they love seeing and hearing it as part of a lesson. All you need is a sentence strip and some index cards to whip up this name sentence. I love using neon index cards for the student names.... they totally pop.   

Ways to use it:   
*Have students add their names to the pocket chart in the morning for attendance.
*Read together at morning meeting.  Add Good Morning to the beginning.
*Choral read together.
*Add to centers for students to assemble and read independently.

This is easy to put together on your own with some sentence strips and index cards (no printing and laminating needed!) but... if you want to print and laminate... CLICK for the word cards I used above.  

3. Class Name Book
I LOVE class books and the first one I do each year is a Name Book. All your kiddos (and you!!) print their name & draw a picture of themselves.  This book is super easy and SUPER popular with the kids.  I is sooo fun to look at your friends and read their names!!  It also makes a great keepsake from the first week of school.  Just take the book apart at the end of the school year and send the pages home with your students.

You can simply give your students a blank piece of paper to create your own Class Name Book... I did this for years and it turned out great...but for a FREE printable version click below.

Class Book Freebie
I hope one of these ideas will work in your classroom! What name activities do you do at the beginning of the school year?

Friday, 24 June 2016

A Teacher's Summer To-Do List

Now that school is out.... what is on your to-do list?  Here are a list of my favourite summer time to-dos!

1. House Cleaning
I know what you are thinking.... the first thing on the list is house cleaning (ugh)!!  Most of this list is not in any specific order BUT... this is actually the first thing I do every summer.  I don't know if you are anything like me, but other than the basics, my housework is pretty much neglected during the school year.  I'm usually in the groove after cleaning out my classroom and keep on going when I get home.  Doing it right away suits me well because it really takes me awhile to be able to relax after the busyness of the school year anyway.  I would just get jittery if I tried to jump right into relaxing.... Plus I like to get it out of the way and be able to enjoy my home for the summer!

2. Pamper Yourself
This means something different to everyone...massage, haircut, spa day etc.  After all that housecleaning I am usually ready for (and need) a mani/pedi.  Even with the best of intentions it can be hard to fit "yourself" into your busy schedule during the school year.

3. Exercise
Keeping up with a regular exercise routine during the school year can be a real challenge. Summer is a great time to take long walks, check out a new class or go bike riding with your kids.  I like to establish a bit of a routine that I will hopefully be able to carry over to the school year.

4. Cook
I have to admit..... I don't really like to cook that much.  But I also like to eat healthy and am usually feeling a little malnourished from eating cereal and take-out during the last weeks of school!  Plus cooking is more fun during the summer when you have time to plan and try new things.  I usually try to find a few new school night recipes that I can add to my repertoire for the fall.

5. Go For Lunch
Hey, you can't cook EVERY meal all summer and there is something liberating for teachers about going out for lunch!  I guess it depends on your teaching assignment and grade level but I eat lunch (or attempt to anyway) in my classroom, with my students, most of the year.   I have to admit this is my least favourite perk?! of the job.  I prefer to eat sitting down, perhaps at an actual adult sized table and even better if someone else is cooking.  In the summer I like to go for lunch with my husband, girlfriends (the ones that have jobs where they can go for lunch all year long), kids (my own kids NOT the kiddos I lunched with all year) or teacher friends.

6. Read
I am one those people that has a slight panic attack if I don't have a book on the go. However, my school year reading routine goes pretty much like this: Read for about 5 mins....fall asleep.  It seriously takes me months to finish a book.  During the summer I can stay up late to finish those last few chapters or spend the day at the beach with a trashy novel.  I try to fit in some professional reading too but I always start with the fun stuff!

7. Netflix
This one is pretty much a no-brainer..... catch up on your shows!! 

8. Spend Time with Friends & Family
This is a little embarrassing...... but my husband says I'm nicer during the summer.  When I take off my teacher hat and have more time just to relax and spend quality time with my family and friends I am truly a happier person.  The struggle of balancing it all is tough and in the summer I don't balance, I just have a chance to focus on being a wife, a mom and a friend.  And apparently be nicer..... 

9. Nap
Remember at the start when I said I have a hard time relaxing at the beginning of the summer.  Well, somewhere at about week 2 or 3 I get REALLY good at it.  I mean, "having a nap every afternoon" good at it!  I can count on one hand the amount of naps I have during the school year but come summer... ZZZzzzz you can hardly keep me awake after lunch.  

10. To Plan, or Not To Plan?!
This is one that I have struggled with through the years.   Some summers I spend a lot of time prepping for the upcoming year and other summers... not so much.   Some summers I have had a rough year and I need the break... the whole break.  Some years I have spent the entire summer prepping just to find out I am changing grades or classrooms. Some years my teacher partner & I have met regularly throughout the summer to plan our program. Some summers I am really into it and others I am not. Sometimes my exact position is pretty much guaranteed for the upcoming year, other times there is the possibility of last minute changes. Some years I can get into my classroom throughout the summer and other years, only a few days before school starts (why do they always clean my carpets last!!).  So I guess planning NEEDS to be on the list but I will keep it down here at number 10..... to be tackled sometime at the end of August!

Enjoy your summer!  Read lots of books, take lots of naps & go out for lunch while you still can.....

Friday, 23 October 2015

Five for Friday (Oct. 23)

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday. Here's a peek at my week.....

While most people are still enjoying fall it is already winter up in my neck of the woods!  Where I live up in Northern Canada winter starts early..... and this year it has come even earlier than normal:(   We can always expect some snow by Halloween but this year we have had snow off and on all October.  The little pond behind my house is already frozen over!

Even though it is winter outside I am still embracing the fall season inside!  The girls and I went and bought pumpkins this week.  Obviously, there is no pumpkin patch around but my girls had fun at the grocery store picking out the perfect pumpkins.  And who could pass up on a bunch of fall flowers? Not me.... I just won't look out the window!

Chores, chores, chores.....   My girls were supposed to be doing them but it was turning into a fight lately and nobody could remember who did what and they were still getting their allowance (bad mom) and not really doing anything for it.  Ok, you get the idea!  I finally (after threatening for ages) made a chore chart.  We may still be in the honeymoon phase but man this thing is working like a charm!  The deal is they can do their chores whenever they want but they must do everything on their chart by the end of the week in order to get their allowance.  This morning they were fighting over who got to empty the dishwasher!  Last night my oldest daughter offered to take the garbage out and did it without rolling her eyes (tweens!!!).  So far so good!

This week I updated the very first paid product I made for TPT!  It is a Halloween Pattern Pack so it was able to hide in my store for a long time without much attention.  With Halloween coming up I needed to make a decision whether to just delete it (it no longer represented the quality of the products I have in my store) or give it a face lift.  I was tempted to just let it go.... Halloween only comes once a year and on top of that it was specific to patterns.  As I looked back at the file I remembered it was this product that really got me hooked on being a TPT seller.  I had only signed up as a seller on a whim and really had no expectations that anyone would ever really buy anything I created.  I was working on patterns with my class. It was Halloween. And so my first product came to life!  And...this was the part that was amazing... it sold (and more than once!).  The success of this product gave me the confidence to continue creating and sharing my resources.  Just thinking about it makes me sentimental. The Halloween Pattern Pack had to live on! 

I updated something old and made something new!  I had so much fun making these simple puzzle and printing activities.  Kids get to cut, paste, print and colour....great fine motor control practice and learn some seasonal vocabulary.  Watch out for some more versions.... coming soon.

Have great weekend!!!