Monday, August 31, 2015

Classroom Organization! {FREEBIES}

I can't believe the summer is almost over! I'm so anxious to get started on my classroom and get organized, but I still don't even know which room I'm going to be in yet! So I decided to get a bit of a head start and create some projects from home to help me organize quickly and easily once I can get into my room. I hope you find some inspiration and enjoy some of the freebies below!

Supply Labels

I think it's so important to have a print rich environment that's also functional and accessible for the kids. With that in mind, I'm planning to label all of my classroom supplies with pictures and words. I know this will be a great way to support my students' early literacy development. They will feel like REAL readers since they will be able to "read" these labels without actually knowing anything about decoding. Best of all, these labels will help keep everything organized (hopefully)!

Table Signs (Freebie)

Of course, I've got to label my tables as well! I made these cute lantern table numbers last year, but never got a chance to share them. These are my favorite! I got the lanterns on Amazon HERE. You can get the labels FREE from my store HERE. I printed them double sided so that they look cute from every angle. They are currently only available in chevron, but I plan to add polka dots soon!

Classroom Rules

Another project I'm working on is my classroom rules. I love displaying my rules in colorful frames! This is such a simple and inexpensive project to do. I originally made these last year, but I'm re-doing a couple since they got damaged. I just started with some Dollar Tree document frames like THESE. Then I used acrylic paint to paint the frames in bright colors. They needed 2-3 coats to cover nicely. Finally, I just printed out the rules and put them in the frames. So cute and easy! I also updated my classroom rules to include a larger 8.5 x 11 version in addition to the original smaller size. Now they are the perfect size to frame!

Dismissal Chart (Freebie)

I've gotten lots of emails about my How We Go Home dismissal chart, so I decided to share a free copy in my store. It includes both chevron and polka dot designs. I just hung it using metal rings and some ribbon and then added clothespins with my students' names. This will be so helpful at the beginning of the year when I don't know where everyone is supposed to go at the end of the day!

Banners (Freebie)

I also use banners to label each area of the room. I have one for writing, reading, and math. You can download my free banners HERE. If you want to customize your own banners, you can purchase the banner kit below (also available in polka dots).

Classroom Library

I know I shared this last year, but the library is one of my favorite areas of the I'm sharing it again! As with everything else in the classroom, I always keep the library labeled with pictures and words so the kids can easily access and use it independently. The matching labels on the books are a must! This helps the kids put them back in the right bins (for the most part).

Here's another project I did this week. This one was super quick and simple, but I think they came out pretty cute! I just used some plain wooden letters and painted them with a couple coats of acrylic paint. I may add something more to them, but for now they are just bright and pretty and they match my classroom colors! Can't wait to put them in my library!

Visual Schedule

Yong children need a predictable structure to their day, and a visual schedule is a great way to provide that predictability. They enjoy reading the schedule each morning, and the schedule helper loves changing the arrow as we move through the day. I love how my schedule cards fit perfectly in this pocket chart.

Drawer Labels (Freebie)

Here's how I organize my books and materials for my small groups. I put the books for each group along with any other materials in the drawer for that group. You can download the free editable labels HERE.

I hope you find some of these ideas and freebies useful as you set up your classroom this year! I will be back in a few days with some back to school ideas!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Reading & Writing Toolkits + Freebies!

Hi friends! So this was actually a guest post that my colleague and I wrote for the Teachers College Literacy blog. I just wanted to share it with all of you because I thought it could be especially helpful as you're getting ready to head back to school. I'm already revamping my toolkits for the coming year and can't wait to use them again!


Conferring with readers and writers in ways that are powerful and personal is truly a challenge. It is such a tall order to teach in ways that guide our children to achieve high standards, yet also meet them where they are and provide them with the individualized attention they need right now.

 If you're like us, conferring with readers and writers might be the most difficult part of teaching! You never know what to teach, where those notes you took ended up, or where that great mentor text is buried! Conferring seems to come naturally for many teachers, but not for us! We realized we needed some help getting ourselves organized. So when we heard about toolkits, we were excited to create our own. Since then, we’ve been using our toolkits EVERY SINGLE DAY! They keep us organized and efficient as we confer with our students. Above all, they have made a tremendous difference in the impact of our teaching.

So, what is a toolkit anyway? It’s really nothing fancy or extraordinarily different from the tools that you’re already using with your students. In fact, a toolkit is really just a collection of tools that you’re probably already using in your classroom every day. What makes a toolkit really valuable is that all of your teaching tools are together in one place to help you meet the needs of your students as you confer and work with small groups. When all your tools are in one place, it’s easy to bring them along with you as you pull your chair up beside a child.

Okay, so you’re probably wondering how you can get your hands on one of these amazing toolkits! The truth is, you’re going to have to make it yourself. But the good news is that we can help you get started! Below we’ve shown some ideas and examples of what we’ve included in our toolkits. Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but these are the tools that we’ve found helpful as we confer with the readers and writers in our classrooms. What you include ultimately depends on your preferences and your students’ needs. For instance, we use a three ring binder for our toolkits, but you may find another method that works better for you. In any case, we hope these resources will inspire you to get started on creating your own toolkits!

I hope I've gotten you excited to start working on your own reading and writing toolkits! Many of the resources shown above are included for free in my Reading & Writing Toolkits Bundle! Get it HERE or click the image below to get started! See you all soon!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

I'm back...and I've got BIG news!

I'm back! Has it really been five whole months since I've blogged? Wow! This has really been a hectic year. Just a few weeks ago, I finished my first year teaching in the NYC DOE. As many of you know, I helped start up a brand new school this year. There are so many words that could describe this school year...exciting, challenging, fun, educational, exhausting! Mostly, it was just an amazing experience being able to start from scratch and build a school along with such an awesome team. We all work so well together and I hope that dynamic doesn't change too much as we grow and add new staff. I'm really enjoying this time off, but I'm already looking forward to our second year. We've got a new principal coming in and we are going to more than double in size. I'm excited and anxious to see what the next year brings us.

Here are some (belated) photos from our last day of school. We had an adorable red carpet celebration, inspired by Pinterest of course. The kids had a blast! I handed out a different award to each child along with a trophy. The kids sat in the audience and applauded for each other as they walked up the carpet to receive their awards. They even gave each other high fives with their little trophies. It was so cute! This was so simple to pull off...a roll of red paper along with some plastic cups, balloons, and tablecloths from the dollar store...and it looks like a million bucks! Parents donated the snacks and the cute little high five trophies. We had some awesome class parents this year! I'm sad that the year is over, and I am already missing those cuties!

I also graduated in May and received my masters in Literacy from Teachers College at Columbia University. FINALLY!!! It feels so great to be done! Although I will be receiving my Literacy Specialist certification, I fully plan to stay in the classroom with the kids. That's where my heart truly belongs. So don't worry, I'm not leaving you guys!

My husband and I at my graduation

And finally...the BIG exciting news. Drum roll...a new baby Ricca is on the way!!! I'm due December 8th! We are so excited and blessed to welcome this new addition to our family. Here are a few photos from our announcement photo shoot. All photos were taken by my husband or my husband + a tripod :)

As you can see, a LOT has been going on in my life! So, I hope you will understand why I haven't been more attentive to this poor little blog. I'm trying to get myself back into blogging more regularly because it's something I love to do and it's really become part of who I am. Plus I just miss all of you here in the blogging world! I'm working on a couple of other posts at the moment and I will be hosting some sort of giveaway very soon if I can figure out how to make that work! See you all soon <3

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Teen Numbers & SmartBoard Freebie!

We've been learning all about teen numbers in kindergarten! Teen numbers can be really tricky for young children. Luckily, I've found lots of fun ways (mostly through Pinterest and other blogs) to teach this concept to my kiddos. Here are some fun ideas and a freebie that I hope you'll find useful :)

Each day, we focus on one teen number. During our whole group exploration, the children build the numbers using cubes and ten frames. We used these free ten frame mats from Primarily Speaking.

Just a side note...these lessons were so much easier to prep since I started using math tool kits! I stole this idea from Mrs. Wills! I just put all the tools we need for the unit into the zipper pouches and hand them out to partners during the lesson. During this unit, their math tool kits included cubes, ten frames, and dry erase markers.

After the kids build the numbers, they talk to their partners to discuss: "How did you make the number (16)?" I want to promote different ways of thinking about the numbers and emphasize that there is more than just one right answer. The kids came up with great answers, such as:

-I made 10 and 6 extra ones.
-I made 15 and then added one more.
-I had 19 and then I took away 3. That makes 16.
-I did 10 plus 6 and that equals 16.
-I filled up the ten frame and then put 6 extra ones outside.

We also build each number on the board using these giant Magnetic Ten Frames.

We even build teen numbers on our life size human ten frames! I made these using a dollar store tarp and some tape.

I also started creating SmartBoard lessons to go along with each teen number. The kids loved these! They were so engaged in these lessons! You can download a sample SmartBoard lesson for FREE by clicking the image below. If you like this, comment below, and I'll work on finishing the rest of the numbers! If you have suggestions or feedback, please let me know that also!

We play some quick games to practice our teen numbers every day. We use ten frame flash cards for most of these games. You can purchase my flash cards by clicking the image below.

Ten Frame Flash: I simply show a ten frame card to the class very briefly, and then they have to write the number on their white boards (or just shout out the number).

Flash & Build: I show a teen number card and the kids have to build it on their ten frame mats. 

Find Your Match: Students get a ten frame card or numeral card and have to walk around the room until they find their match.

Concentration: Students match ten frame cards with numeral cards.

Race to 20: Students play with partners and race to 20. They roll a die and add cubes to their ten frames. After each turn, they have to say how many cubes they have. First person to 20 wins!

Finally, we watch these Harry Kindergarten videos every day. These songs are so fun and catchy, and they have really helped my kids understand teen numbers. The first song reminds students that teen numbers start with a one. The second song reinforces the idea that teen numbers have a group of ten and left over ones. Hmm, that sounds exactly like Common Core Standard K.NBT.A.1! Perfect!

That's all for now! I hope you enjoyed these activities and the freebie. Comment below if you're interested in the full set of teen number SmartBoard lessons!