Thursday, September 1, 2016

5 Steps to Setting Up Your Classroom


It's that time of year again! The school year is quickly approaching (or has already begun for many of you)! Setting up a classroom is a lot of work, but I really do enjoy watching it all come together. Everything is clean and new and neat. I love to look around my finished room and appreciate all the work that went into it. It's ready for a new class of kiddies to enjoy for another year! 

Here are five of my best tips for setting up a classroom that it is inviting, organized, and child-friendly.

1. Map it out! 


I always sketch up a map of my entire room so that I can figure out the placement of everything before I even enter my room for the first time. You can also use the Lakeshore Classroom Designer, which lets you enter the dimensions of your room and add Lakeshore items, furniture, etc. First think about where you will place your meeting area and student tables, since these will take up the most area. Also think about where you will put your teacher table(s). Be sure to place it in a spot where you have a good view of all areas of the room. Then build around this. Above is a map of my room that I made last summer.

2. Set up your student tables.

  • This will take up the most space, so even if you don't know where you want to put anything else, start by moving the tables into place. You will at least feel like you got a lot done!
  • Think about how you want to group your students. Personally, I always set my students up in clusters to foster collaboration, but you may have a different configuration that works for you.
  • Use velcro for your name plates! To make seating changes simple, I always use velcro on the name tags. This way they can be swapped out in an instant. Plus, it looks so much neater and you don't have to worry about tape peeling! 
  • You may want to come up with table numbers or table names to make it easy to call tables to the rug, give out table points, etc. I hang a paper lantern above each table with the table names.
  • Create a system or place where you will house all the supplies for each table. We share all supplies in our classroom, so I place a caddy in the middle of each table. The colors of the table caddies coordinate with the names of the tables. For example, the blue dolphins, pink flamingos, etc. Some teachers keep the caddies on a shelf separate from the table, and student helpers bring them to the tables when needed. 
3. Divide the room up into learning zones. 

  • Each area of my room is dedicate to a particular subject area. For example, there is the reading area, where I have my small group table, classroom library, reading bulletin board, charts, literacy centers, and other reading materials. The math area contains my math bulletin board, charts, manipulatives, and math center tubs. You get the idea. 
  • Keep the noisy areas away from quiet centers like the library. 
  • Use furniture and shelf units to divide up the areas. I have a HUGE room, and I've found that using the furniture works to section off and define the different areas of the room. 
  • Label everything! Be sure to label each area and supplies clearly so students can navigate the classroom independently.  
4. Create an inviting, organized, and accessible library. 

  • Books should be well organized and labeled clearly. This way, students will be able to use the library independently.
  • Choose a system for how you will organize your books. You can do it by theme or by level. I do both. I organize half of my books by reading level and the other half by topics/themes. 
  • Label both your book bins and the books. I label each book with a small sticker that corresponds to the book bin where it belongs. Because of this, my students have never had a problem putting the books back in the right spot!
  • Buy some sturdy book bins. You don't need to spend a lot on book bins! I bought clear Sterilite shoe bins at Target for about $1 each. They have lasted three years so far and are still in perfect condition. Dollar Tree also has lots of great baskets and bins.
  • Create a book display where you can display books with covers facing out. I have a wooden book display where I rotate seasonal books and books related to our current units of study. I also bought some little book easels at Michaels for this purpose. 
  • Make it comfy and inviting! Add some cute decorations, lamps, beanbag chairs, and pillows!
5. Set up your bulletin boards.

  • Start out with very little on the walls. The bulletin boards do not need to be covered in posters and charts on the first day! Less is more. I start out with some bright clean backgrounds, a nice border, and a subject heading at the top. That's pretty much it! We will fill those walls with student work and charts that we create together during the first weeks of school. 
  • Keep it simple! I have a separate bulletin board for each subject area. I place the subject heading at the top of each board. Then I simply switch out the charts or student work during each unit. Old stuff comes down and only charts that are relevant to our current units are displayed. Too much can be overwhelming for kids, and it looks cluttered. 
  • If you're short on space, get creative! People ask how I got so many bulletin boards in my room. I don't really have that many. Here's my secret...a few of them are actually white boards. I use my easel for teaching, so the white boards go unused. I cover them with paper and use magnets to hang student work. This also makes it quick and easy to change out the work! I have also used clotheslines, backs of book shelves, pocket charts, and the sides of filing cabinets to expand my wall space!
  • Make them interactive! The great thing about using a chalk/white board or filing cabinet is that your bulletin boards become magnetic. This way students can actually USE them! They are not just for show, they are for learning. For example, students come up to the word wall in my room and take words back to their seats to use as they write. 
  • Fabric and wrapping paper make great bulletin board backdrops! 
Once you're done, take a walk through the room and think about how everything flows. Is there enough space to move around? Can you pull out the chairs without bumping into anything? Are the resources and charts accessible to students and visible at students' eye level? Does it look organized and neat, or is it cluttered? Are the areas of the room clearly defined? Most of all, does it look and feel like a place you want to spend your days for the next ten months? 

Below you can find all the products found around my room, including my chevron decor bundle, banners, name plates, labels, posters, and more!




*I am currently updating this product. It will be back up in my store shortly!




I hope some of this has been helpful to you! Good luck and have a fantastic school year! 

Friday, June 24, 2016

End of the Year Fun + a Freebie

Hi guys! I'm still here! What a crazy year it's been. Life with a new baby is a LOT of work! Don't get me wrong, it's amazing and wonderful, and being a mommy is the best thing that's ever happened to me. But it's exhausting! When I planned my maternity leave, I thought, "Great! Now I'll have lots of time to work on my blog while I'm home with the baby!" Haha. I was lucky to get a shower and eat half a meal most days. Now that I've been back at work a few months, things have settled a bit as we've gotten comfortable with our routines and I finally feel like I can juggle both roles with ease (most of the time, anyway).

In case you're wondering...yes, school is STILL in session here in New York City. Only two days to go! Since the year is coming to an end, I wanted to share some of the fun end of the year activities I have planned. Hopefully you'll find these ideas useful and inspiring, even if you're on summer break and school is the last thing on your mind (I'm SO jealous of you, by the way).

Our school has started a tradition where each class has an award ceremony at the end of the year. Since our award ceremony isn't until Monday, I'm sharing some photos from last year. I plan to do pretty much the same thing this year. I went to Dollar Tree today to get all the supplies and decorations. We are doing a Hollywood red carpet theme!


The kids have also been working on their memory books this week. They will finish them and take them home next week. You can find my Memory Book in my TpT store. The book has 31 different pages and includes both a color and black and white version.


I also put together some really simple and quick last minute gifts for the kids. I got bubbles at the dollar store and put together these labels to fancy them up a little. Click on the image below for your free Gift Tags.


And that's the end of our year! In just a couple days, I'll be saying good-bye to my kiddies and sending them off to first grade! As my co-teacher said to the kids, "We are setting you free to fly...just as we did with our butterflies." I like that analogy. It's a bittersweet ending. Of course, I'm excited to spend the entire summer relaxing with my baby girl. But at the same time, I'm sad to say good-bye to my kids, and especially to my co-teacher. We found out that we'll be teaching in different rooms next year. When the year began, I was hesitant about sharing a classroom with another teacher, but it has been my best teaching experience yet. I SO wish we could stay together forever! I guess, as they say, all good things must come to an end. But I'm so happy to have had the experience, and I'm definitely excited for a new year in kindergarten :)

Enjoy your summer!

End of the Year Fun + a Freebie

Hi guys! I'm still here! What a crazy year it's been. Life with a new baby is a LOT of work! Don't get me wrong, it's amazing and wonderful, and being a mommy is the best thing that's ever happened to me. But it's exhausting! When I planned my maternity leave, I thought, "Great! Now I'll have lots of time to work on my blog while I'm home with the baby!" Haha. I was lucky to get a shower and eat half a meal most days. Now that I've been back at work a few months, things have settled a bit as we've gotten comfortable with our routines and I finally feel like I can juggle both roles with ease (most of the time, anyway).

In case you're wondering...yes, school is STILL in session here in New York City. Only two days to go! Since the year is coming to an end, I wanted to share some of the fun end of the year activities I have planned. Hopefully you'll find these ideas useful and inspiring, even if you're on summer break and school is the last thing on your mind (I'm SO jealous of you, by the way).

Our school has started a tradition where each class has an award ceremony at the end of the year. Since our award ceremony isn't until Monday, I'm sharing some photos from last year. I plan to do pretty much the same thing this year. I went to Dollar Tree today to get all the supplies and decorations. We are doing a Hollywood red carpet theme!


The kids have also been working on their memory books this week. They will finish them and take them home next week. You can find my Memory Book in my TpT store. The book has 31 different pages and includes both a color and black and white version.


I also put together some really simple and quick last minute gifts for the kids. I got bubbles at the dollar store and put together these labels to fancy them up a little. Click on the image below for your free Gift Tags.


And that's the end of our year! In just a couple days, I'll be saying good-bye to my kiddies and sending them off to first grade! As my co-teacher said to the kids, "We are setting you free to fly...just as we did with our butterflies." I like that analogy. It's a bittersweet ending. Of course, I'm excited to spend the entire summer relaxing with my baby girl. But at the same time, I'm sad to say good-bye to my kids, and especially to my co-teacher. We found out that we'll be teaching in different rooms next year. When the year began, I was hesitant about sharing a classroom with another teacher, but it has been my best teaching experience yet. I SO wish we could stay together forever! I guess, as they say, all good things must come to an end. But I'm so happy to have had the experience, and I'm definitely excited for a new year in kindergarten :)

Enjoy your summer!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Memorial Day Sale!

I'm throwing a sale! Stock up on everything you need for the upcoming school year! My entire store will be 20% off Saturday through Monday. Happy Memorial Day!


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day! {Sale}

Hi friends! Wow it's been such a long time since I've blogged! As you may have guessed, my sweet little girl arrived back in November. Since then my blog has taken a back seat as my number one priority is being a new mommy. So, I've been taking a maternity leave from my blog and store to spend time with my girl.

Time is just flying! She will be six months old this week, and we are celebrating our first Mother's Day today. I never could have imagined the amount of joy she would bring me. She is just the sweetest, happiest girl in the world, and I am so lucky to be her mommy.

I have so much to catch up on from this year that I want to share with you all! I promise I'll be back soon with lots more freebies and fun stuff!

Head over to My TpT Store to save 20% on all items in my store today through Tuesday! Happy Mother's Day! <3

 

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)!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chevron-Classroom-Supply-Labels-2065715

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Polka-Dot-Classroom-Supply-Labels-2065719

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!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chevron-Table-Numbers-2064188

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!


https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chevron-Classroom-Rules-Editable-833849

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Polka-Dot-Classroom-Rules-Editable-565596


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!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Dismissal-Chart-How-We-Go-Home-2064281

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).

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chevron-Alphabet-Banners-A-Z-1299303

Classroom Library

I know I shared this last year, but the library is one of my favorite areas of the room...so 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).
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chevron-Classroom-Library-Labels-1256904

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.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chevron-Daily-Schedule-Cards-1263011


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.  

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Chevron-Drawer-Labels-Editable-2064452

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!

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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!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Reading-Writing-Toolkit-1763165