Saturday, August 31, 2013

Alphabet Fun!

Sorry all!  I really need to get the hang of this whole blogging and going back to school business.  I'm beginning to realize that I may have to actually plan my blog posts ahead of time and not just do the "by the seat of my pants" approach. 

My little owls will officially arrive on Tuesday.  I am all planned for next week and am looking forward to starting another school year. 

This will be the start of my 8th year and each year I feel like I get a bit better at the whole beginning of the year part.  I've learned that it is alright to slow things down at the beginning.  I'm really focusing on having my owls build their stamina and to really model my expectations.  Please make sure to hold me to this if you notice that I'm posting things that seem to go against this!

With this in mind, I have been looking through Pinterest to find simple alphabet activities that would allow all to participate even if they don't know all the letter names yet.  I came across this...

I love this!  What a simple way to get all the owls working with letters at the start of the year.  Click on the picture to look at some of the other ideas that were listed.
Now this activity is ideal if you have a circle table, which I do not.  I didn't want to give up such a great idea because of a lack of table, so I created my own version with posterboard.
For the letters, I simply used foam letters that I had laying around the house.  I wrote uppercase letters on glass beads that are used in vases for a decorative touch. 
I had my little man test out the activity!  He pulled out a letter glass bead, looked at the letter, and found its match around the circle.  He did really well and told me that it was "fun."
For my owls that already know their letters, I will have them tell me the letter's name before they match it.
I also made a set of uppercase letters using water bottle caps.  If this goes over well, I will change out the letters manipulatives to keep the activity fresh and exciting.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Classroom's Ready!

Hi all!  I'm stopping by quickly today to give you a peek into my home away from home.  I'm beyond excited with how my classroom turned out this year!

This is what you would see when you walk into my side of the classroom.

The other side and my new Smartboard!!!!!

I'm using every inch of my room this year so my metal cabinets are being turned into on the left a place for word work with magnets and on the right attendance.

The writing and art center.  The blue lid containers are for art and the green lid containers are for writing.  Cart to the side is for the organization of weekly materials.

My new and improved word wall.  I used washi tape to divide the letters.  I also put everything on with magnets, so the owls can come right up and take words off if they need to see them better.

This is the math center and the carts are how I organize literacy and math workstations along with my small groups.
Rotation cards for literacy (top) and math (bottom.)
Back side of  my carpet area with computer center, schedule, behavior pieces, and on the bottom drawers are my classroom helpers.
Carpet area with the classroom library and easel for whole group learning.  :)  Under the window sill are the ribbons for how the owls get home after school.
Calendar board and learning intention frames above.  Clipboards and dry erase boards are on the floor right next to my chair for whole group learning.
Well, I am off to go organize and prep some more for when the owls come on Sept. 3!


Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New alphabet activity and great finds!

I hope everyone took advantage of the TpT BTS sale!  I controlled myself and only purchased the things I have been wanting for forever now.  :)

This week was the first week we could really get into our classrooms, so I have been working there for a majority of the days so far.  Yesterday was the big layout change!  I'm so happy the way it turned out and even happier that it worked!  Pictures will happen (hopefully) at the end of this week once everything is put together.

My head is so immersed in school right now and it doesn't seem to want to turn off so I can sleep.  This might sound bad, but I was able to come up with a super fun alphabet activity that I cannot wait to use with my new owls. 

I made up a set of lowercase "cool cat" themed cards and taped them to some adorable stripped paper straws I found at Target.  To play, these card signs are placed in a pile in the middle of the carpet. 

The owls take turns pulling a letter and identifyting the letter.
If the letter is identified correctly, the letter sign goes into a shoe!  I had to find further use for my little man's shoes that he has outgrown.  ;)
Activity continues until all letters have been identified and placed into shoes. 
I'm loving this activity because it can easily be introduced whole group and since it doesn't have a whole lot to it, it can be placed into a workstation right away.
I also wanted to share some fun finds I found at Party City while I was out and about finding last minute things for the classroom.
Cute bug finger pointers for guided reading!
Crazy monster like pointers for guided reading!
Can never have too many pointers for reading, right????


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Something New, Something Free, and Lots of Sale!

Sorry for the lack of posting this week!  I was at a three day workshop on our Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards and the Mr. decided to break his elbow and cut his hand open last weekend, so my "me" time has been limited.  :)

I did manage to squeeze a little time in to post a new item and a freebie to my TpT store.

Click on the picture to take a look at some of the previews of what is included.  I'm really looking forward to using this in my classroom.  My owls last year loved roll and write workstations!
By now I'm sure you have all figured out that I am slightly obsessed with owls.  I could teach with owls all day long.  :)  I will be honest and tell you that the idea behind this game is nothing new.  I added owl clipart to add my own personal touch.  It is a super way to get the owls practicing letter recognition in a whole group setting or even to help fill in those seconds/minutes of downtime we have at bathroom breaks.  Click on the picture to download your own!  Feedback and comments are appreciated. 
Thank you Kimberly Ann from Live, Laugh, I Love Kindergarten for the adorable button.  She is hosting a linky for all who are participating in the sale.  Head over to look at all the wonderful stores/bloggers who are getting you ready for BTS.  :)
As you all probably already know, TpT is having its big BTS sale starting tomorrow!  I am so looking forward to this sale.  I have a wishlist full of items that I have been itching to get.  My store will be on sale as well during this time.  Please take a look around and grab yourself some great BTS items.  Click on the picture to view my entire store.
If you take advantage of this great sale, don't forget to enter the code BTS13 at the check out for additional savings!
Have fun shopping!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

You Know...That One Cool Cat!

I am in love with all things, Pete the Cat!  I will admit it!  I'm guessing most of you enjoy reading these super fun, sing song books with your class as well.  Please tell me I'm not alone. 

Anyways, I'm really grabbing ahold of this little guy and building him up during that first week of school.  I love how the owls pick up on the rhythm of the book and can start to "read" along with me.  What a great motivator and way to show the owls that they really can read!

I will be including this cool cat in not just my literacy time but will also have him pop up in some math workstations as well.  I put together a little freebie for you all to help your littles work on their number identification and counting with numbers one to ten.  Click the picture below to grab it!  Please leave some love if you do.  I love hearing that what I spent time creating is enjoyed by others! 

And don't forget I am running a Buy One, Get One Free SALE in my TpT store through next Saturday, August 17.
Click the picture below to take a look!  If you end up buying something, send me an email ( with your TpT name, product bought, and what you would like for free!  Super simple!
Enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Time for a little 5 for Friday!

Hi all!  I'm back today and ready to bring you my 5 for Friday, which is hosted by the wonderful Doodle Bugs Teaching.  So grab a coffee/soda/water and enjoy the journey!

 This is one of the few Fridays I have left before I'm officially back in school, so that means lots of classroom and activity prep.  In order to get most of this prep done, I enlisted my sister to help.  She came up last night and helped dig through what is suppose to be a basement and made sure I purged my "school stuff."  Basement is clean and you can now walk safely around.  :)
Today she helped with this
We colored rice for some fun literacy workstations that I have planned for the first weeks of school.  She pinned this for me so I do not have the original source.  To make- place 1 cup of white rice in a gallon freezer page, 1/2 tsp of kool aid, and 1 tsp of rubbing alcohol.  After everything is in the bag, carefully zip it shut and shake!
I had seen a few bloggers posting about gluing pom poms to the top of dry erase markers to act as erasers, so I did that as well today.
I painted and added some Washi tape accents to my K sign for first day pictures.
My little man wanted to hold it!  Yes, that is owl Washi tape!
Now for a couple fun randoms!
Sara from Polka Dot Kinders is throwing a huge 400 followers giveaway!  Click on the picture and look at all the amazing goodies you could win! 


I am having a TpT sale!  Click on the picture to take a look around at my TpT store.  Here are the sale details... When you buy something, e-mail me ( the name you use for TpT and what product you bought, tell me what product of equal or less value you would like, and I will send it to you within 24 hours. 

I think it's time to do some relaxing!  :)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom! Letter Recognition

As I'm getting ready for that first day of school, I have been combing through my ever growing collection of back to school books.  One of my all time favorite books to use is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault.

I love the sing song feel of the book, how easy the owls pick up on the repeated text, and the colorful illustrations!
Keeping this book in mind and knowing that I will read it to the point of memorization this year, I came up with a fun interactive letter chart to use with my owls to practice letter identification.
I made this with large poster board, green and brown construction paper, scrapbook paper for a fun color pop under the words, typed out words, and foam stickers.  I think it took a total of 30 minutes to draw, type, cut, tape, and stick everything together.  Super fast and easy!
How am I going to use this in my room you ask?  The chart will be laid in the center of our carpet with the owls around it.  I purchased oversized magnifying glasses at the Dollar Store, so a couple of owls will get one.  I will call out a letter or hold up a letter card and the owls will need to place their magnifying glasses over the matching letter.  The rest of the owls will have a coloring page to find and color the letter in so all are engaged.
I just added the letter cards (upper and lower case) and five differentiated recording pages to my TpT store.  It is priced at $3.00.  If you are interested, click the picture below.
If you have stuck with me this long, you are in for a treat!  I am having a little buy one, get one free sale in my TpT store starting today and ending next week Saturday, August 17 at 10 pm. 
background from The Clip Art Graphics Guy
owls from Pink Cat Studio
This is how this sale works...
After you purchase a product, email me telling me the name you use on TpT, what product you bought, and what product you would like for free.  (The free product has to be of equal or less value!)  Now if you are really looking to stock up for back to school, you can buy two products and get two for free.  Basically for every one product you buy, you get one for free!
Also remember to leave feedback and comments to earn those TpT credits!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Kid tested, Teacher approved

Hi all!  I'm offically in back to school mode.  My head is going in a million and one different directions all at once!  Love it!

A majority of my ideas right now are revovling around back to school literacy and math workstations.  I want my workstations for the start of the year to be pretty basic because we are working towards that independence. 

I'm super excited about this alphabet workstation! 

You will need...
any unsharpened pencils will do
some fun Washi tape (the patterned tape is to wrap around the pencils and the solid colors are to make the letter flags)
The finished product looks like this...
This is how I will be using these letter pencils in my classroom.  Since this is a beginning of the year sort of workstation, I would begin whole group modeling.  Each owl will get a coloring page (you will be able to snag it at the bottom of this post) to fill in while we are passing around the pencil cup.  An owl will pull a pencil, read the letter on the flag, and all will find the letter and color it in.  Super simple but tons of fun!
I tested this out with my little man and he HAD to find every letter!
I laid the pencil next to the paper so he could look back at it.  He was also allowed to pick it up and lay it next to each pencil on the paper to see if it matched.  He used that approach with the more challenging letters.
Click on this picture to grab a copy!
I hope that you are able to use this in your classroom this year and that your little ones LOVE it as much as my little man did!


Monday, August 5, 2013

We have a winner!

Thank you everyone who entered!  It was so much fun reading all the great things that you do with your kiddos on that first day of school. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congrats Doreen!  I will be in touch!

I will be back this week to tell you more about what back to school fun I have in store for my owls, but now my house is in need of a serious cleaning.  :(  Wish I could just snap my fingers and it would all be done!  Haha!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Flip Flop Product Swap

I am beyond excited to being linking up with Confessions of a Teaching Junkie for a fun product swap. 

Sara from Polka Dot Kinders had e-mailed me a few weeks back telling me about this linky and asking if I wanted to do a little swap-a-roo with her.  Sara and I had the chance to grab lunch and chat when she was in Chicago for a family reunion.  Let me tell you, this girl is Ah-mazing!  If you had seen us at lunch, you would have thought we have known each other for years.  Love this girl!
Sara has quickly become my go-to teacher for sight word advice.  She posted a few weeks back about her sight word routine that she uses.  Start here and then read through to the rest of the days of the week.

For this linky, I asked Sara if I could have her Write It:  Sight Word Puzzles pack.

In this pack, Sara has laid out the sight words that she uses throughout the year.  AWESOME! 
After you have introduced your sight words for the week, you would use the following pages to practice/reinforce the sight words.
I would hand my owls this page first and ask them to trace the words inside the popcorn with a pencil, crayon, or marker.  After they have had a chance to feel the word, I would have them use the puzzle boxes to write the words in.  This part would be in pencil to allow for mistakes to be erased.
After I look over the above work, the owls will get this page.  They can practice writing each word three more times.  I would allow colored pencils, markers, or crayons here.
I loved how these simple pages packed such a great learning punch.
In the pack, she mentions to run the above two pages back to back to help save paper.  Since I want to let me owls use markers that wouldn't really work, so I figured I could just turn them into little popcorn word books.



Simply cut construction paper the "hot dog" way, staple, cover staples with washi tape, and decorate as desired.

Inside include the necessary pages.  I was thinking of make a book for each unit in our reading series.  These books would be perfect for week five when we are reviewing the words from the unit.
If you want to grab Sara's sight word park, click here!
Don't forget to enter my 200 follower giveaway!  It ends tonight!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, August 2, 2013

Back to School Preparations and a Giveaway!

Now that it is August, I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that back to school is right around the corner.  I have been working on things here and there this summer but it has been such a tangled and disconnected mess that I really don't see what I have actually accomplished.  I admit that my summer organization has been less than perfect but I also will admit that I finally spent time with my family, which is AH-MAZING!  My family takes the back seat during the school year so it was nice to spend time with them. 

I want to show you a few things that I have worked on in the past week to help get my focus back on track.



In previous posts I mentioned how I share a room with another teacher and her class.  This means that I only have half of a classroom to work and teach in!  One of my big goals this year is to maximize my space.  I figured I would start with the owls community supplies.  I have always done community supplies and put everything on the tables in buckets or bowls.  However, this year, I want those buckets to not be a constant on tables.  I want the owls to put them off on a shelf when they are done.  I put together these crayon buckets for each table to use in just that way.  As you can see from the second picture, they stack wonderfully together.  Each bucket is the color of the table it will go on and the color word is on the lid of each bucket as well.  There are three, 24 count crayon boxes inside.  I bought the Target brand to see how they work.
I also gave each table toolbox a makeover.  I added pencil and scissor labels to the part where I want those supplies to be placed.  I am super OCD when it comes to supplies and dislike GREATLY when they are all mixed together in that larger section.
The last thing I did was revamp my literacy workstation signs and rotation cards.  I am in LOVE with these!  We are required to have five literacy workstations.  I break my work work into two stations and have a separate alphabet station.  The owls need that focused practice and it keeps the number of owls in each station down.
Last thing before I am off to get some more back to school work done, I recently hit 200 followers via Bloglovin.  Thank you so much to all of you who are following!  In honor of this quick leap of followers, I am having a giveaway from now until Monday, Aug. 5.  One lucky winner will receive a $10 Target giftcard, a $10 Starbucks giftcard, and an item of their choice from my TpT store!
So what are you waiting for....enter on the Rafflecopter below.  (Please let me know if you have any trouble with the Rafflecopter.  This is my first time using it!)