Friday, July 3, 2015

July: Currently

I thought it would be fun to link up with Farly for the July edition of Currently!
Listening- I am up in Sapphire, NC with my whole family and let me tell you...we are loud! It's impossible to watch t.v. here, go to sleep at a normal time, it's even hard to get work done...but I wouldn't change it at all!! Love having family time!

Loving- I am loving summer! Who doesn't? I've been non-stop this summer, but I really can't complain.  I went to the Dominican with friends, went to the east coast of Florida with my boyfriend and his kids for Father's Day, and now I am spending time in North Carolina before leaving for Vegas.  How is half the summer gone?  
Thinking- I'm going to Vegas for the TpT conference! What? I can't believe it! I am really excited to meet everyone!! Let me know if you are going!! 

Wanting- I always online shop...Revolve Clothing and Shopbop are my favorite sites.  I rarely actually buy clothes though.  I just add them into my shopping cart and pretend like I'm going to. Haha.

Needing- I REALLLLLY need to get my memory book finished for next year and my Back to School Math Centers. Why is it so hard for me to get motivated? 

All Star- I think I am good at being kind.  This is something that is really important to me!



Monday, June 15, 2015

Starting Centers the First Week of School

I start centers the very first day of school, some may think I am crazy, but trust me--it makes life so much easier (and it makes the time go by faster)!! 
On the first day I already have the kids at assigned seats at different tables (I have 4 tables in my room). Their name tags are removable so when I figure out their behaviors I can always change their seats. I have 4 to 5 kids at each table.  
For one hour in the morning I do center rotations.  I have four different centers and I put the center activity at their tables.  So during the first rotation everyone is in their assigned seats. 
You can put anything at their tables--if you need to get school supplies organized and unpacked or first day folders checked, then put 4 independent activities at the tables.  If you have time to sit at one of the tables, then put something more difficult at that table.  

Here were my first day rotations this past year:
1. Unifix cubes- a completely independent center, but never a waste of time. Kids quickly figure out patterns, how to work together, how to clean up, where the unifix cubes go when they are put away, etc.
2. One page of their first week of school rule book. I leave my example on the board and all they have to do is cut and glue to assemble.  The lips were already pre traced. 
3. Monster Spin and Graph- This is the center I sat at. I had to sit here for the first couple of minutes until they got the hang of spinning, graphing, passing the spinner, etc.  As soon as I knew they could handle it, I left. I had to do this with each group/rotation.
4. Whiteboards- I leave my word work cards at this table and I instruct them on how to use the cards prior to starting centers.  They are only allowed to draw pictures if they write the word as well.  They did awesome on the first day! 

On the second day, my rotations were as follows:
1. Their first page in their memory book. They write their name and illustrate themselves. 
2. We did the second page of their monster school rule book. Again, I left my example on the board and all they have to do was glue to assemble.  Since I knew this wouldn't take much time today, I also introduced book bins to them at this center.  I took two book bins from our classroom library and put it at the center. I wanted them to see how they match the number on the book to the correct book bin before giving them access to our entire library.
3. Their third rotation today was blocks.  We have free choice at the end of the day; however, I don't give them free choice until I feel comfortable enough knowing that they know where everything goes and can clean everything up. So I introduce some of the free choice activities during center time this week.
4. They practiced their fine motor skills by coloring, cutting, and gluing back together this monster number puzzle.  
During centers, I set the bell for about 15 minutes; however, I keep an eye on each rotation.  Sometimes a rotation takes longer and sometimes they are all finished faster than 15 minutes.  If that happens I ring the bell and we move on.  When the bell rings I say, 'Simon says, clean up.' Followed by 'Simon says, stand behind your chair and Simon says, push your chair in.'  Then we do a quick round of 'Simon says' before I say 'Simon says, point to your next center.' This is key!! During this time I check everyones finger to make sure they are pointing in the right direction. If they aren't, I let them know so they can fix where they are pointing.  By the end of the week, they are all pointing the right way and they officially know how to rotate!!
You can also sit at a center during this time and test letter names/sounds or introduce activities like write the room that they will eventually do independently.  We did write the room the first week of school and my kids loved it! Some students only wrote 2 words the entire time and others filled up an entire page. But, they were all engaged and learning how to complete centers!

I use my Back to School pack the first week of school

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Writing Center

Ever since I opened up my writing center to 'choice' writing, my planning/life has been so much easier!! Every activity seen below I introduce to my students one at a time, starting the first week of school with write the room! I then move on to 'Write the Globe', 'I Can Draw and Write Words', 'Color Words' and some of the other easier activities.  As the year moves on I can start introducing some of the harder activities like 'How to' Writing and 'All About' Writing.
As each activity is introduced, it gets added into the pocket chart organizer you see below.  Then it is available for kids to use when they finish early!
I even added in some toy magazines that I received in the mail--the kids LOVE writing shopping lists!
'I Can Draw and Write Words' is an easy activity for beginning writers. They can use thematic word walls or books to complete.
I love the 'Dictionary Hunt'.  I really like the fact that they are getting used to a dictionary and know how to use one at such a young age ;)
'All About' writing has now become one of my students' favorites! They love writing all about me, or the principal, or I've even heard them interviewing each other and writing all about their peers. Love it!
They also use my portable word walls for their 'All About' writing.
'Write the Globe' never gets old with my kids.  They love discovering new places. Most of them have taken this a step further and are now writing letters to their parents telling them where they want to go on the globe and why.
I also ALWAYS leave cards and envelopes in the writing center.  They love making cards for their family members, peers, teachers, etc. 
I have now introduced all of the activities in the writing center and my students are able to complete them all independently.  Now that they are all hanging in the wall organizer, I don't have to plan anything for the writing center.  They go to the center and CHOOSE which activity they want to work on.  When kids have the 'choice' in their centers, they work SO much better!

All of these writing activities can be found in my store by clicking on the image below.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Writing-Center-Activities-168277
and the thematic word walls can be found here
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Awesome-Words-for-Inspiring-Authors-242261

Friday, March 13, 2015

Silly McGilly (Giveaway!)

Recently, I received an email from 3 sisters from New Jersey telling me all about Silly McGilly.  A little leprechaun who will help bring some fun and excitement (and learning) to your classroom during the month of March!
Well, today I received Silly McGilly and I was BEYOND excited to get started! Right away we opened the package and read the story. The story explains that the leprechaun we have is just a toy doll. But, if you place the doll in the window of your classroom at night, it is an invitation for a real leprechaun to come visit and play a trick!
After I read the story, I passed around our new leprechaun doll.  The kids loved him!!
 They were SO excited! Look at that face!
 Some of the children even wrote notes for the Leprechaun.  This one made me smile...'Do something that makes me laugh.'
Silly McGilly is now in our window.  I wonder what will happen when we arrive at school on Monday?!
You can head over to Silly McGilly's site to find sample activities and tricks that will enhance learning.
I am so excited to use Silly McGilly in the classroom this year and many more years to come!! Such a great idea!
If you would like to purchase your own Silly McGilly and his book you can HERE, or you can enter to win your own copy on my Facebook page HERE.  Good luck!