Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I LOVE Science!

 So, this year I joined our district Science Curriculum Writing Team and I am really excited about it. I am the K science person at my school because I love it. I never was a science guru growing up but in college I had a really great teacher and it totally changed my thinking process. I made our Science Journal and we are now using it for our district which I thought was totally cool!!

So, how do you teach science? I cover my back counter with all kinds of science stuff for the kids to explore as soon as school starts. It looks like this. I will have planting flower stuff, bugs, dinosaurs, magnets, ocean animals, an anatomy apron, magnifiying glasses, and other lots of other stuff.

I start by reading, What Is Science? It is a wonderful book that is totally worth buying. If you had the ELA Journeys adoption, you should have gotten the big book. Anywho, we read this book and discussed everything about science.
When we are done, I give each student a 1/4 sheet of white copy paper and they go back to their seats to draw “what is science” to them. They did a great job! We had volcanoes, stars, wind, a “crazy tornado”, butterflies, well you get my drift. I think our Interactive Writing chart turned out great. We put this in our Science center on the wall to reference all year. They love looking at their own work! J

Here is a closer view. Isn’t it cute?
Well, that's all folks...for now! What are some fun ways you teach science? We are starting our Science Journals this week so I will be posting the pics soon. Have a fantabulous day blogger buddies!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

First Week Fun!

Whoo hoo for surviving the first week of school! Last year was my first year at this school and I was a HOT MESS all year long!! The goal was always survival. BUTdun dun dunnnnn, this year is totally different. I feel like I can bring my “A Game” now that I have been down this road before. I don’t think it matters if you have taught forever or are just starting out, going to a new school is a whole new world and it is great to be somewhere that I can plant myself and grow!
So, here are my favorite things from week one!
Okay, here is a funny. A friend of mine posted this pic on facebook and I think it was how most of us felt, but now I am excited about being back. I just need a nap! J 
We make our rules chart together within the first two days of school. I read “David goes to School” and “How do Dinosaurs go to School” and we discuss how to make good choices at school. Then the students come up with rules and everyone signs it. I think it becomes personal when they choose the rules and it is more effective. J 
As soon as we get the rules on paper, we start word work with our names. We will make a name chart that we will reference all year. When I am teaching sounds, I will say what sound does ‘a’ make? ‘A’ as in Alice. This chart will be on the wall and I will make a mini version for the writing center and the group carpet location. It becomes an asset in teaching. J

The first day of school we read “The Kissing Hand”. The kids love it. They all say ahhhhh! Many of them can relate to the sadness Chester feels. We made this Interactive writing chart after we read the story. We talked about their feelings and then made a kissing hand of their own. You can check out my 57 page Kissing Hand Unit on TPT for $6 at 
I was trying to find a new way to teach my students how to walk quietly in the hall when I found this cute poem on teachers pay teachers from Castles and Crayons. I love her blog! I took the poem and added a foot so my kids could glue on marshmallow toes. The loved it! I try to keep a few marshmallows in a baggie in my pocket or on my clipboard so when we are in the hall, I can give one to the student with the quietest toes. J 
On Friday, we reread The Kissing Hand and Chester left us a note in the back. We went on a Chester Hunt and it was so much fun. We followed the clues around the school and his paw prints too! The Chester Hunt cards are available in my Kissing Hand Unit too! J

When we made it back to the room, Chester had left us a surprise kissing hand cookie. Yummy!!

Thursday was my birthday and I got flowers! What a nice cherry on top of an already sweet week. A parent sent me flowers from my class too. That has never happened!! My birthday is always within the first three days of school so it usually gets overlooked, especially by me. Who has time to get older when it’s the first week of school? LOL! J

Thanks for reading. I love your comments!! More to come soon. Have a wonderful day! J

Monday, August 29, 2011

New Look for a New Year!!

OMGoodness! If you don’t know the greatness that is Alicia at Dreamlike Magic, you totally should! She has given me this fantastic blog makeover and I couldn’t be more excited. I FINALLY have a button so grab it friends! My K team is doing a jungle theme but I wanted something that was zebra meets color and she rocked it. Yep, I am excited! Tell me what ya think.  I hope you had a happy Monday. J

And, P.S. WELCOME to my Jungle!!

Meet the Teacher Night


Meet the Teacher was a week in a half ago but I haven't had a chance to post this yet. :)
Before Meet the Teacher, I label cubbies, put name plates on tables, and make parent information folders. I think by using a folder, I know that they each pick up what they are supposed to. Last year, I just layed all the papers out that parent were supposed to pick up but at the end I had all of one sheet gone and only half of anotherdidn’t make sense. I staped instruction to the folder. I had so many parents ask me if they had to fill out the paperwork that night. Finally, I kindly made an announcement that the sheet attached to the folder said that the paperwork was due on Monday. They all laughed!
Sorry, I can’t get this picture to turn for some reason. This is the folder that I put all of the information for parents in along with a list of what their responsibilities are. J

 This is a small table outside of my door. It will have the information folder, the scavenger hunt sheet, and cutesy stuff. J

I like to put an easel outside of my door too with big books. I think they kids really like them!
Here is my table. I put “Adventure Annie Goes To Kindergarten” and “Peanut Butter and Homework Sandwiches” on the table too because they are books I will read the first day of school and the kids like to look at them. Fran at Kindergarten Crayons suggested them this summer. I bought them and LOVE them. So did my class! J

When parents enter the room, we ask them to get the “Kindergarten Safari” sheet that has a scavenger hunt on it. This is a fun way to have parents help their child to find their cubby, table, bathroom, computers, etc. without consuming all of your time. I will also put little instructions on it, like where to put your supplies. J

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Kissing Hand

I just posted my Kissing Hand Unit for your purchasing pleasure on TPT. You can check it out here.
As always, I am attaching a little free nibble for you to download. I will be posting pictures from the first week later today.  Your feedback is always appreciated! This unit is a whopping 57 pages for $6. Have a great Sunday and take a napI insist!!
<>< Crystal

Kissing Hand Unit Preview

As always, scribd looks a little funny but when it downloads it will be normal. J THANKS!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teacher Talk Tuesday

Teacher Talk Tuesday!
Dear sweet, exhausted, excited and scared on mean parents new teachers! Congrats on getting a job! It’s a tough job but so rewarding. So, here is my tidbits of advice for you
Be organized. Keep a notebook with lesson plans, copy of work, and notes for each week so you can look back next year and you can tweak, add, delete as necessary.  Understand that you will have to do a lot of work up front to make your life easier in the future. Last year I started in a new school and I was overwhelmed. I felt like I was a constant hot mess. Luckily, I did keep a gigantor notebook and it has made this week so much easier. Don’t sweat the small stuff.  It is impossible to always get everything done but there is always tomorrow.  Take time to do lesson plans ahead of time and have materials ready BEFORE the children get there. A lot of people just wing it but it will be so much easier for you when you are prepared.  Get your SUB notebook ready now because there will be a day when you can’t make it.  Don’t forget to tell them about emergency plans, kid allergies, etc. all the things we always forget but they need to know. Make friends! Teacher buddies are the best! Ask questions and for help if you need it. We all need help.  Focus on the positives and work on the negatives. And lastly, HAVE FUN! Your kids will love school if you do. If you aren’t happy, they won’t be either.  Every day is a new day so if it goes downhill, start over tomorrow. Everyone has a bad day but that doesn’t mean you aren’t good at what you do. Sometimes the best thing to do is fall back and regroup.  Best of luck sweet teachers!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Meet the Teacher Monday!!

Testing, testing 1,2,3! Is this thing on? Is anyone reading this thing? LOL Just kidding!
Meet The Teacher
I try to be a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious kindergarten teacher by day and Super Mom and wife by nightyou can call me CRYSTAL!! J I will turn the BIG 31 on Thursday..Yasp, EEK! J I am looking forward to celebrating my 10th wedding anniversary this December, whoo hoo! I love love love my husband. We met in high school and the rest is history. We have three great kids, James, Joseph, and Grace, all in middle school this year, which makes me COL (Cry Out Loud).  My kids were not born from my body, but born from my heart. God gave them to us seven years ago and I am blessed to be their mom.  (For those of you with the puzzled look on your face, we adopted through foster care.)  I live for God, family, school, and everything else I can squeeze in. I totally should be skinny for as much as I squeeze into every 24 hours!!
<-----my babies!!

Teaching is not what I do, it is who I am.  All things crayola, art, reading, laughing, counting, etc. ooze from within me. I heart the little people!  I admire teachers that work with older kiddos. I don’t think I could handle it and they get pretty funky after PE. LOL
This year I hope to work on organization and time management. I can be chatty so I need to work on that. Note to self: must plan gossip, I mean chat time, with friends.  This is my first school year with blogging so I am hoping to put it on the regular schedule. Oh, did I mention that I am in grad school? How could I forget all that homework too!! I am working on my Masters in Educational Technology. I just got an iPad so I hope to figure out all the things I can do with it. I wrote a grant for classroom iPod touches (is that spelled right? Lol) so I am working on ways to use it in our class too. I hope to overload my TPT with all kinds of goodies also. Lots of good stuff and if I can accomplish half of it, I will be doing great!
What can I NOT live without? Chart paper, all colors of markers and all kinds too. I LOVE interactive writing, it’s my fav! I must have my iPod docking station for all the good ole music and signing that will be flowing from my room. I am a diet coke addict but since my lap band surgery this summer, I am trying to not drink sodasBOO! Which leads to my newest addiction, SPARK! It’s a vitamin energy thingy you add to your water. It has replaced coffee and soda so I think I will make it.
I am totally pumped about this year. You all make me want to be a better teacher and definitely provide me with great support, encouragement, and lots of laughs! HAVE A GREAT YEAR blogging buddies. I heart you the most!! Feel free to leave me a comment. They brighten my day!
<>< Crystal

Friday, August 19, 2011

An APPLE for the teacher!

So I'm totally exhausted after meet the teacher tonight when I get home to see a sign on my door saying "follow the apples." There was a trail of apples and arrows leading me to the living room and a card which read "Happy Birthday!" behind the card was a new iPad 2!! I am so excited not to mention impressed with my husbands creativity. So my bloggy buddies, what apps are best? What do you use at school? I had heard there was an app for doing assessments, is there? I am in need of iPad boot camp and you are the peeps toturn to!! Thanks for Any advice or suggestions!!

Meet the teacher went well too. I have 24 on my roster right now. I will post pictures tomorrow of how I set things up for MTT. I'm so excited about this yr. :)

P.S. I am totally blogging from my iPad! ;) Also how do you upload pics to your blog from an iPad? I'm trying to but it won't let me. :(

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Classroom Pictures Posted!!

I am knee deep in sheep getting ready for school to start. How about you? This year my K team is doing a jungle theme. I have embraced it and found love in the zebra prints. I rearranged my room and I think I am going to LOVE it!! So, here it goes. Brace yourselvesit’s a long post!
Here is my door. I think doors should be a preview of the excitement inside. My BFF did this for me thanks Andrea!! J
 Here is my group location. It used to be at the front of the room but then I decided that I wanted my student tables closer to the word wall so I moved it.

I decided to have a focus wall. This isn't a bulletin board...just fabric stapled to the wall. I use the big pockets to clip the letter, number, sight words, color, etc of the week on the outside so we remember to go over them every day. We count the days, chart the weather, do calendar, and I will add money too. Don't pay attention to the cubbies, they still have junk that needs a home in them. :)

These are the books that I will read during group time. I have the library on the other side.

I use this bulletin board (which is my favorite) to put my resource charts on. The first week of school we will make charts for names, colors, numbers, and shapes. I will keep them posted all year which is great because I don't want to climb up there and change it. I just used black and white butcher paper for the zebra stripes and then crumpled brown paper on the side for vines.

Here is my writing center. Along the sides are different things that you can write about. I got them from another blogger but I can't remember who at this moment. I try to have clipboards available for writing the room too along with other matierals for writing (blank books, newspapers, etc.).

Next to the writing center I have these nifty cups I got at Ikea really cheap. I am going to keep markers, highlighters, pencils, etc. in them. The shelf will have clipboards and magnadoodles for writing the room or to use in the writing center.

My word wall is at the front of the room. It says Wild About The Word Wall. I still have to put the letters up.

THis is the left wall. I have my desk against the wall this year and my teacher table (where I do guided reading) in front of it. I decided that this was ok because I spend more time at my teacher table than desk. I will use the bulletin board behind it for ELA stuff. I have all my guided reading books on the shelf next to my teacher table with all my guided reading supplies, which is great.

View from My teacher table.

This is my ABC center. I change it out regulary. You can get a paint tray at any hardware store or Home Depot. Screw it to the wall or a shelf and you have an instant magnetic center for letters and sight words and the kids love it. It is on the floor so kids can be away from a table and get the sensory stimulation with movement.

Here is the inside of my library. I had two extra shelves so I just turned them on their side and filled them with books. Then, I put posters on the back of them or a pocket chart. Every space is used for something! I bought this big leaf for $10 at Ikea and it really adds a cute touch! It gives the kids more of a feeling of seclusion even though I can see them from anywhere.

Here are my math munipulatives. They are kinda organzied. Please excuse the brooms and pile of junk in the corner. I haven't set up  my home living center yet so it is in a pile.

I use part of my back counter for my Science center. Right now I have something from every unit out so kids can just explore what science is. After the first two wks of school, I will put it all away and just bring out what is relavent to what we are learning along with either the noodle tub or the bean tub...some sort of sensory exploring.

I used this pocket chart for my environmental print for now. It is near where the home living center will be so they can use it for writing menus, etc. Here is my art easel but it will be moved to a table for centers.

The letter museum is where the letters live. I refer to it during guided reading and writers workshop a lot.

This says Vocabulary Vine. I will put the class vocab here and color code it (math, science, ss, etc).

 THese are the fabu reading posters I got from Mrs. Jump. LOVE!

On my Math Center shelf I have my writing the room pointers and the famous Mr. Potato head. Can't get ready of an oldy but goodie!

I got this handy dandy shelf from Ikea (yes I love that place!!) for $30. I use the white trays for Math centers and the green ones for Literacy Centers. They are deep, thick, and durable. LOVE!

I was having a major storage issue so I bought these shelves..yes you guessed it, at Ikea this summer and they took the place of four larges shelves. I don't have a ton of storage so this helped me sooo much! I also got the 1,2,3 baskets that I use for Math Centers. They are super great and super cheap. I will cover the openings of these shelves with fabric before school starts because these aren't free for all shelves but for me to pull stuff for centers each week.

Here are my lego tubs and my birthday box. I keep everything for my birthday celebrations (certificates, hats. books, songs, stickers, etc) so I only have to open this box for an instant celebration and it keeps it very organized.

I am not sure what fabu blogger I got these labels from, but I have my listening center bags, my grab and go readers, and my homework folders in these baskets on top of my shelves. THey will be super convenient to to get to and keep organized. I will also have my journals in a tub. I do journals/folders for: morning journal, scrolling, science journal, poetry journal.

Here is my lunch box tub...nothing fancy but it will do!

I love my mailbox! I have a mailman as a class job. This is how I introduce new letters, numbers, etc. The cards will come in the mail. The kids love it. I will put it in the hall outside our door once school starts.

Here she classroom...a gigantic work in progress! Almost ready for the invasion of little people. If you saw my pics from my room last year, I have changed a ton of stuff and it looks like a whole new world. I think I am in love.

Still to come...I have to put together my kitchen and add my home living center. I will post pics of that later along with what my wall outside my classroom looks like. I am also ordering the pockets for the back of the chairs. Even though I have small cubbies, I think having their folders and supply boxes on their chairs will make things easier. I found them on super cheap.

Anything else you want to see or know about right now? I LOVE comments...please feel free to leave one. Have a great day and to those of you who are back to school this week...I hope it's going great!!