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 I originally made these last year, but I'm re-doing a couple since they got damaged.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!