Saturday, April 18, 2015

Five or Six Tips, Bargains, and Vids

I'm telling myself I am only going to post if I can do it in just ONE hour, as I barely have even one hour to spare this weekend. If not done in one hour I stop and rework it to send another day... so if you're reading, I set new time records today.

Happy Friday and here's five with the help of Doodle Bugs linky party.

1.  This was a very depressing sight on my laptop last Sunday morning as spring break came to an end.

Oh, well, all good things must come to an end. And oh. my. gosh. there were only nine more weeks of school before summer break... and that was last week! Today as I post, there are only EIGHT. Yikes! So much to teach, so much to do.... I'm gonna start to hyperventilate as I think of it. I take comfort in knowing teachers everywhere are in the same boat and just paddling as fast as we can to keep the boat on course. No matter how much we prepare there are just a LOT of things to take care of in the last months of school that can't be taken care of at any other time. Hang on for the ride!

2. I mentioned in earlier posts that I did some reorganizing at school over break. Just before the kids walked in, I finished hanging my poetry strips in their new location.

I always kept my poetry sentence strips in a long bin. However the bin was not quite long enough, so the ends always had to curl and that slowed down flipping through them. The bin also took up a large valuable space on a shelf. So I paper clipped the strips for each poem together, sorted my poems into five categories– loosely based on when I use them in the year, and clipped them with a giant binder clip. Then I hung them from hooks on the back of my back door. Ta-Da!

Storage for Sentence Strips

I used Command hooks on the door, and the clips hang very well. A week's worth of opening and closing the door and nothing has fallen down.

Now when I need a new poem I can take down the clip, flip through the poems, take the one I want, and hang it back up again. As I finish with a poem, I hang it again at the back of that group. So far, so good. Is this a useful idea for your poems or other like shaped items? If you have another way of storing, I'd love to hear in the comments.

I posted before about how I do shared reading of a poem each week, and how I use a pocket chart to display. Pocket charts have several advantages over other methods of display for shared reading material. You can go to the post by clicking on the photo below.

3. Artie Knapp, a children's author from Cincinnati, Ohio, stumbled upon my blog and contacted me to see if I would share with readers his new book, Living Green: A Turtle's Quest for a Cleaner Planet.  Given that we are just a few days away from Earth Day, this coming Wednesday, I think you'll appreciate hearing about it. The print book edition was a short-list finalist for the Green Earth Book Award.  The on-line version is a free resource on You Tube that your students will enjoy. You can see it here.

4.  My daughter, Sameulina, is graduating from university in just two short weeks. I was on campus this week and saw this interactive installation up in the Art School. The artist used Post-it notes to form wall size words that said "I FEAR THAT..." Passersby left notes on individual stickies with their fears. I snapped a few quick pics because I found it interesting on several scores.

Interactive Art Installation

First of all, I think this idea of words made of sticky notes could be used in elementary schools for a special event. I think the students would really enjoy leaving their thoughts and/or small pics on the sticky notes on the subject at hand. I'm passing it on to my staff. Maybe you can think of an application, too.

And second, the fears that were listed by the university students took me by surprise with their seriousness.

This was a relatively new installation and these comments were written on the sections I happened to snap. I did not filter–

I will never pay off my loans
I'll die before I get to grow old with my girlfriend
confronting the death of family members
my sleep deprivation will shorten my life
something bad will happen in the future
something will happen to my family members
our government doesn't care about us
I don't have time to be the person I want to be
I won't leave a legacy 


I am thirty years their senior and I have some of these same fears. Did I have these fears when I leaving university? Somehow I don't think so. What does this say about our youth? What does this say about our times? What can we do?

5. Lookee, lookee all Star Wars fans... well, surely you ARE a Star Wars fan! Star Wars, and I mean the original Star Wars movie, came out when I was in high school. I and my group of friends saw it no less than seventeen times in it's more than year long run. If we had nothing else to do, off we went again. We had whole sections of dialogue memorized. That movie caused quite a buzz and we LOVED it... And I was in love with Harrison Ford. *sigh* It's okay to say. Jonathan knows.

ANYway, a new trailer for the NEWEST Star Wars movie was just released this week. Cute new droids... and Harrison, too! Another reason to look forward to Christmas. See here:

6... 6??  Last but not least, I leave you with five, five, five Dollar Store finds!!!

1. These eight inch plates were in the baby section. More durable than paper, and such a nice size. Anybody see manipulative number bonds?

Perfect for Addition Math Manipulatives

2. I've had my eye open for bins of this size and dimension to use as scrap bins to leave on kids' tables while doing cutting projects. I have used other bins but they did not hold enough or took up too much table space. These are just right for holding scraps. I show the large bottle of Mod Podge to give an idea of scale.

Just right as a table bin for cutting scraps

3. There are new stuffed monsters. Four models in all. Just right to use for passing or tossing with monster math games. I show one by the basket for scale.

Cute new monsters at the dollar store

4. These are too cute to squash bugs with. Just right for playing slap games with letter, word, or number cards.

Bug swatter to plan Slap with

5. A cheap little fishing pole to use with fishing games. Probably not sturdy enough for the reel to last for long, but even just tying a string to the tip will increase the fun factor. Better than the pencils and dowels I've used before and way cheaper than the play fishing poles found in school supply catalogs. I mean, it's a buck.

Cheap fishing pole to use when fishing
for words and numbers

HOW did I go from scrambling to find five in an hour, to SIX in an hour... well, just over an hour. Never doubt the power of a blogger who is always collecting details of life... the teaching life and otherwise.

Hope you had some fun. Click on button below to head on back to the linky for more fives... or sixes :) Thanks, Kacey!

Thanks for stopping by. See you next time!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Five Fav Things to Share

Well, hello there on this Friday when I have Five Favs to share. Thanks to Doodle Bugs for the weekly linky.

1. I am just finishing a week of break, and what did I do? I went into school for some spring cleaning. Here is the before pic... well, actually, the during pic.

And yes, that fuzzy creature in the midst of the mess is Popeye. See her? She loves to come to school to "help." No matter where I moved a bin, there she was. I didn't even know she was there until I went to take the picture. sigh. At least I wasn't lonely.

There are four sections to this stretch of shelf where I keep math and science materials. These items are mostly those that go with a particular unit, so I only need to get something out every two or three weeks. I keep these shelves covered with a cloth curtain which I love because it cuts down on visual clutter and provides a backdrop for student art display. Here is a pic from a few months ago. The blog post about how I attached the display strip can be found by clicking on the photo.

Problem is, when I lift the curtain to get things out or put them away, I can see only one little section. Over time, I forget what goes where and because I never have enough minutes in the day I shove don't take the care I should in putting things where they belong... stop judging. You know you'd do that, too. Anyhow, pretty soon pet supplies are with a set of magnifiers, measuring tools are with a box of magnifiers, human body parts are with a few random magnifiers, and planting supplies are with a bin of, you guessed it, more magnifiers. And when I need magnifiers, none are to be found. ugh.

So I took everything off the shelves. Then I sorted and regrouped and rebagged and rebinned and matched one kind of item with the space that they needed, keeping in mind which items need easier access than others. And now it looks like this. Ta-da.

In my mind's eye these shelves were going to be full of matching bins all labeled with cute color coded stickers. What really happened was that so much of this stuff was of odd shapes and sizes it would have been really difficult to find matching bins to hold it all. To say nothing of the expense of all the lovely matching bins if I could have found them. And sometimes it will just be handier to pull an item off the shelf without taking out a bin to rummage through. The curtain is there to hide mix-matched stuff anyway, right? I won't win any classroom decor awards for these shelves, but they will do the trick.

The best detail of all might be that I made a little map for myself. It shows the four sections of shelves and what things are on each. I'll keep it nearby for easy reference. NOW things will stay neat and tidy forever for a while.

2. I hope you didn't miss my Monday Made It!

These are DIY math manipulatives that I posted earlier this week. They are great for lots of kindergarten math, and they also have a very satisfying feel when you slide the beads with just the right amount of pressure. They can also be used as a fidget for kids who need to keep their fingers busy to keep their mind engaged. They are easy and inexpensive to make and you can read all about them by clicking on the photo. Oh, and there is a freebie to go with it :)

3. I spent a good bit of break working on various school projects. One of the projects was searching for new center activities. Not just new kinds of resources on TPT (though I found some of those, too), but new activities that can be done repeatedly and which we haven't done before. And. I. found. one. I am most excited about this– the Message Center.

This idea comes from Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher. She has kids rig up clothesline between two chairs, then gives each one paper and a clothespin. The kids write messages to each other, clip them to the rope, then pull the rope across. Talk about incentive to WRITE!

My guys are gonna LOVE this. I can hardly wait! Kristin gives all the details on how she does the activity on her post, actually several posts. You can find all when you click on her button below. THANKS, Kristin. It's just the kind of thing I was looking for.

4. I gotta share... new FitFlops for me, again. Whoot, whoot! I don't usually post about clothes, but these shoes are less about fashion and more about comfort. I have bum knees that give me periodic issues... but not if I wear FitFlops. I wore FitFlop boots all winter, but as it started to warm up I needed a transitional pair of FitFlops before I could slip into their sandales. I chose the Shuv clogs.

No, Silly, they don't come two colors to a pair, and I don't wear them this way... though I suppose I could... I teach kindergarten, after all, and it's not like I haven't seen mixed up shoes before. While shopping for the black patent pair, which I found on sale, I also found the red patent ones, on an even better sale, so both went into the cart. I've been wearing them for about a month now and it is LOVE! I can wear them with socks, or without.

They have the same feel and support as any of my other FitFlops. Click on the pic of the boots to read about them in an earlier post.

I highly recommend checking them out. They have TONS of cute styles for summer. I'm contemplating the sneakers next... hmmm.

5. Pop quiz! What are these?

They are the most adorable little shovel spoons I've ever seen! They come from Orange Leaf– and I'm not talking about autumn foliage. Orange Leaf is a frozen yogurt spot. Really good frozen yogurt! Really low cal, low fat, good for you, good frozen yogurt. The entire place is done in ORANGE. Like, you could never think you were in any place other than an Orange Leaf when you're inside. It is orange to the nth degree– ours even has an orange Christmas tree inside... where did they find an orange Christmas tree?? I just discovered them, but they have been around for a little while.

And the BONUS for teachers are their little spoons. SO CUTE. I have no idea WHAT fantastic project I'm going to think up yet, but I'm definitely taking them to school. They'd be great fun in the sandbox for working small, or for digging something out of a sensory bin at a center, or for making finger puppets, or... or... I'll let you know when I figure it out. For right now, building my collection is the reason I'm going into Orange Leaf on a regular basis... okay, the spoons are another reason. If there is one near you, I suggest you check out the fro yo AND the spoons!

AND I'm not the only one who loves the spoons... I tell you, this place was made for teachers. They have a whole special page on their site about the SPOONS! You can submit pics and projects and stuff. Great fun. Click on the photo below to go there!

Whew. That seemed like a lotta stuff today. Hope you found some useful tidbits. Head on over now for more Five for Friday. Thanks, Kacey!

Hope to see you around next time!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Bead Sliders for Math and a Freebie!

Whoot! It's Monday Made It. Thanks so much Fourth Grade Frolics for this month's linky.

Bead Sliders Math Manipulative

My kids love these! We call them bead sliders. They are great to use in math to provide concrete practice of counting, number combinations, and composing/decomposing. You slide the beads over to separate them into two groups, like you do on a rekenrek. However, these bead sliders have an added bonus– they feel really great to manipulate. When you pull the bead to slide it along, it gives not-too-hard, not-too-loose pressure for smooth movement.

Here's how you make them. You'll need plastic gimp stringing lace– the flat kind. It comes on spools of 100 yards for about $3... you'll be able to supply your whole school with gimp :) You can find it in craft stores like JoAnn's or Michael's, and it comes in many colors. Click on photo below to see.

I use a different color lace for each bead slider of a particular number to make it easy to grab the slider I want. However, to save money, you can buy just one roll of one color. You'll also need wooden beads of about an inch diameter with a small hole.

Take two pieces of lace. The exact length depends on the size beads you use and the number of beads you want to put on. Use two long strands to start with and adjust as you do more. Knot the lace securely. I keep the lace smooth when knotting and use needle nose pliers to pull it tight. I haven't had any trouble with them coming undone. This is the knot I use.

Then string one lace through the bead in one direction and the other lace through the hole in the other direction. Pull the laces through so they are even and the bead is square to the knot. Then string the two laces through the next bead, in opposite directions again.

It is important that you keep the lace flat and not twisted when you string the beads. The beads won't slide as well if you don't. It's not difficult, just something to be aware of.

Put on as many beads as you want that slider to have. Then to end the slider leave about the length of a bead before knotting it off. You want there to be room to make a gap between beads so kids see two groups as they slide beads over. Knot securely again, and cut it off.

Students slide the beads over as they count/compose/decompose the same way they do on any rekenrek or counting stick.

Now for the Freebie! You can use these bead sliders for many math activities that you already have, but I put together two new sheets just for composing number families. Kids choose a bead slider, write the number of beads on the top of the list, then write the number sentences that match the bead groups as they slide the beads over one at a time.

You see the short list version in the photos, but I have a longer list if you want your students to find all the ways to decompose larger numbers. Both sheets are in the freebie. Click on the photo below to get it.

You can find another type of bead stick in last week's post. This chenille stem style is easier to make, but doesn't have the same tactile input when kids move the beads. I use both kinds for variety. Click on the photo to see post.

Hope your kiddos have fun while learning, and you do, too! If you liked these ideas and freebies, please PIN! Thanks.

Head on back to find more great DIYs for the classroom and life by clicking below. Thanks Tara!

Whew! Five posts in four days– how did that happen? And a freebie or two on almost every one. It's either feast or famine with me, I guess. If you've missed any of the last six posts it might be worth your while to cruise back and grab some easy activities. Thanks for stopping by! See you next time for Five for Friday.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday Scoop in April

I'm here linking to The Sunday Scoop this week. I've read the bloggers who linked up before me and am impressed by all we do on in a day or plan to do in a week. I am inspired every Sunday when I read through. I love getting a glimpse at others' lives.

This coming week I'm on spring break. The most important thing for me is that I feel accomplished at the end of break when I head back for the last ten week stretch of school. I find it so easy these days to be overwhelmed by all there is to do. People say to relax to recharge. My recharge comes when I get things done, and have a plan of action and less to do when we kick into full swing again. It will be a bonus if I can do that in a leisurely way this coming week. I'm almost happy to see many days of rain ahead in the forecast as it will help me stay busy inside and not be coaxed out. And with milder temps, surely we won't see any snow!

Click below to go back to the Sunday Scoop Linky. Thanks to Teaching Trio for this party.

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Read This Currently!

In my head:

Listening– No. Shoot. It's the dog's tags.

Loving– Who doesn't?

Thinking– Duh.

Wanting– All bloggers want this.

Needing– I'll try bribes incentives.

Name– Will anyone know what this post is about?

Wondering– Does anybody read this?

THANKS! Farley! 

Now click on Oh Boy button to go on back to linky.

Friday, April 3, 2015

April's Pick Three Pin Party

Well, can I post twice in one day?? Sure I can. It's been a crazy week with the arrival of a new ELL student who doesn't have any English yet, presenting district PD for K/1 teachers, and being flexible as our building is without guest teachers TOO often- the substitute teacher shortage is really peaking right now and we are all hanging on for the ride as we scramble to cover and lose our planning time. Yikes!

BUT the good news is today starts our spring break!. Bring. It. On!  One of my favorite things to do is write and post and that's how I'm gonna spend today– I even have a third post started but I promise to wait until at least tomorrow to put it up ;)

I'm linking up this post with Pawsitively Teaching and Inspired Owl's Corner's Pick 3 Top Pinterest Picks. I've already tried two of my three Pinterest finds this week at school, so you can gain from my experience.

This one is a Freebie from Kindergarten Smorgasbord.

Greg explains how he uses plastic eggs to make a match-up word game. I didn't use plastic eggs with my version. I colored two sheets of these eggs by hand– imagine! On one sheet I colored just the egg outline, and on the other one I underlined the words. My two sets of eggs give me two center activities– just a little variation and it's a whole new thing for the kidpeople. Then I laminated both pages and cut out all the eggs. I buried a set in a bin of shredded paper and had the kids go digging for egg words. When they found one they used a marker of the matching color to write it on my word list paper. They were to star the words that they could not read by themselves, then figure out what it said with the help of a tablemate. When their list was complete with ten different words, they were to read the whole list to three different tablemates. Each table partner put their initial in a "read three times box" found at the bottom of the list. 

My list paper is available for FREE in my TPT store. I have several versions of list papers in the set. The boxes for starring words and the prompts for reading the list three times are right on the paper itself. I use it all the time for all sorts of activities. At FREE, you really can't go wrong and there are lots of freebies at my TPT store.

Click on the photo below to go to the list paper, and click on the egg paper image above to go to Greg's original post to learn about his activity and grab his freebie while you're there. Thanks Greg!

This one comes from Liz's Early Learning Spot. She calls it Battling for Sight Word Treasures. You'll go to the post by clicking on the Pin photo below.

I saw this and instantly wanted to try it with my kiddos because I fondly remember the old Battleship game from when I was a kid. This version has dropped the war theme and added a reading component. Liz explains how to play on her blog post. I simplified it a bit for my kinders. To assemble the game I ran each copy on different colored paper and laminated with my home laminator to make it sturdier and completely encased in plastic. I hook two game boards together, back to back with paperclips– I found this cut down on cheating because it is a little less likely anyone gets a sneak peek while the boards are being moved around separately. We don't use the coins, but simply add up the number of words found.  I write the word wall words on the bottom grid with a Vis-a-Vis pen before I give the boards to them, changing it up as I see fit. And I give my kiddos an Expo marker to mark their guesses on the upper grid– an X for an empty square, and the correct letter when they guess it right. This means they can erase the board in between rounds while the vis-a-vis words stay put. 

Note where I put paperclips
at the bottom sides and at the top
All my kids love playing the game– so much so that one of my parents asked for the link to the game because her little guy talked about it nonstop. My better readers do a better job of playing, but even my lower readers enjoy guessing letters, though they find fewer words. I was most surprised when after just a few lessons with an adult they all got the hang of the grids and how they worked. When I got it out yesterday it was to a chorus of "Yaaay!" I recommend you give it a try. Oh, and did I mention it's free? Yep. Whoot! Click on the first image above. Thanks Liz!

My number three is one I'll do when I get back the week after next. In April I focus on taking care of the earth, which always includes the water cycle. I thought this evaporation activity would tie in nicely.

This little science observation comes from E is for Explore. You outline a puddle on the sidewalk with chalk. Then you come back later to see if the puddle has changed any. Where did the water go? Simple, yet powerful, I think. And unlike the experiments where you watch a glass of water over several days or weeks, you get pretty fast results if you make a puddle on the sidewalk on a sunny day. You can read the original post by clicking on the Pin photo above.

Well, that wraps it up for me. If you'd like to see what other goodies are on my Pinterest Boards you can click right on this Pinterest Profile button. You'll find lots of goodies and might even consider following. I like to follow teachers who follow me.

Now scroll on down to see lots more favorite teacher pins in the link-up below. And link your post, too. Hope you enjoy!

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