Sunday, August 28, 2016

I've Got This!

I've GOT This! Some words of encouragement to help teachers get back to school.

I'm trying to muster up all my courage and all my stamina, because I'm about to run a marathon!

After a fabulous summer with lots of rest, relaxation, and good times, I'm going back to school.

I'm looking forward to seeing my colleagues again, and I'm really excited about my schedule this year!

Plus, I get to meet my kids tomorrow night at the Open House!

And I get to have them in my class starting Wednesday!

This year will be tough (they all have been, in some ways!) but I'm trying to be positive and look forward to the year. 

After all, I can't be on summer vacation forever! 
(But I sure will miss staying in jammies until noon!)

I've been giving myself a lot of "coaching"... kind, encouraging words.  I thought perhaps you could use some, too.

This is from my Dad, the football coach. I say this to myself often!
I've GOT This! Some words of encouragement to help teachers get back to school.

Every time I get stressed about how much we have to teach and how little time we have to teach it: (the visual works for me, too!)
I've GOT This! Some words of encouragement to help teachers get back to school.

As above, I do get stressed! (I suspect we all do!)
I've GOT This! Some words of encouragement to help teachers get back to school.

Being a fan of the arts, I love this quote from John Steinbeck!
I've GOT This! Some words of encouragement to help teachers get back to school.

This is my own quote. You could sort of say it's my mission!
I've GOT This! Some words of encouragement to help teachers get back to school.

Just a little reminder how important it is to build bonds with the children!
I've GOT This! Some words of encouragement to help teachers get back to school.

This is also my own quote. It's something I remind myself frequently!
I've GOT This! Some words of encouragement to help teachers get back to school.









Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Oh No! Can you forgive my mistake?

I made a mistake about the recent Teachers Pay Teachers sale, but I'm willing to make it up to you.

I came home from my camping trip, and realized I'd made a mistake!

Well, other than thinking this was a camping table.  
Not a camp table

I really do have a little bag that's a camping table, but this little blue bag held a chair I hadn't see in about 20 years!

Not a camp table

My daughter is 23 now. I haven't seen this chair since she was little!

But seriously, while I was "unplugged", I thought I'd set my Elementary Matters store at 20% off for the Teachers Pay Teachers Bonus sale, but apparently I hadn't!

I feel bad! Maybe people wanted to buy stuff at a discount the day of the sale!

But I'm ready to make it up to you!

I've set my store at 20% off for this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. (August 26th - 28th)

Hopefully that will give everyone a chance to get ready for Back to School.

But there's something extra: If you purchase at least 2 resources (more than $3) during the weekend, I'll give you one resource $3 or less for free.

All you will have to do is email me at elementarymatters@gmail.com , tell me what items ($3 or more) you bought this weekend, along with your buyer name, and let me know what item less than $3 you'd like for free.

You can start filling your cart now HERE!






Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back to School Resources to Make Life a Little Easier, Plus 6 Freebies!

This post has 16 different resources that will make your life a little easier at the beginning of the school year. Plus, there are 6 freebies!

Want to make your life a little easier at the beginning of the school year? There is just so much to organize, and no time to do it! Before I get to the freebies at the end of this post, here are a few resources that will make your life a bit easier:

Writer's Workshop Starter Packet: Everything you need to start Writer's Workshop!
I've always been a big fan of Writer's Workshop, and try each year to come closer to perfection. I haven't quite got there yet, but here's what I use:  Writer's Workshop Starter Collection

This resource has tons of tools for every subject! Plus, each subject can be purchased separately: Tools for Learning: 


These are my lifesavers those first couple of weeks: fun and easy for the kids, valuable review for everyone, and no prep! 
Back to School No Prep Printables

I hope you're not sick of the Olympics yet... these task cards review important first grade math skills! Plus, I teach my second grade task card procedures with these: Academic Summer Games Math Task Cards

More Olympics fun, and more no prep review! Life is easy with these fun printables! Academic Summer Games No Prep Printables


I teach game playing procedures and routines with this game: 
Back to School Get to Know You Game With Brain Breaks

This will be taking up most of the first couple of weeks of school... and I'm very excited about this new resource! See THIS BLOG POST for more information about this one: Strategies for Success: Team Building and Character Development

I'm a big fan of clip charts, and a big fan of using the sports theme in the classroom: Sports Themed Clip Chart

More sports, and learning responsibility with classroom jobs! Classroom Jobs with Sports Theme

Doesn't everyone love music? Music Themed Clip Chart


Doesn't everyone love learning responsibility? Classroom Jobs with Music Theme
Need help organizing Guided Reading? Here's everything I use, including ways to organize the kids that aren't working with the teacher: Guided Reading and Literacy Center Management Resources


Loads of helpful forms, checklists, and ideas for that first week: Back to School Essentials

If you're anything like me, the day is so packed, it's tough to fit in the fun stuff: These printables will make your life MUCH easier, and fun for the kiddos! Science and Social Studies Printables for August/ September


Speaking of bundles, this has pretty much everything! Back to School Supreme Teacher Bundle

There are also some freebies that can help you out:
I can't get enough of the Olympics! Academic Summer Games Freebie

This set which accompanies the book Your Fantastic Elastic Brain by JoAnn Deak has some great beginning of the year activities to help children understand how their brain works and how each brain is different and unique: I Can Stretch My Brain

We can't have enough Brain Breaks, can we? Social Studies and Science Brain Breaks

This set has a taste of one of my most popular resources. I start working on Math Fact Fluency at the beginning of the year. This set is based on brain research, and you can't miss! Fact Fluency Freebie

Here's a little taste of one of my favorite fall resources: Science and Social Studies for August and September Freebie

Seasonal Brain Breaks... always a hit! Back to School Brain Breaks

Monday, August 15, 2016

My "Not So Cute" Classroom

My "Not so Cute" Classroom: I don't have the talent, eye for design, or money for materials that we see in Pinterest worthy classrooms, but my classroom has just what it takes!

They're all over the internet this time of year: Those sweet, adorable classrooms with perfectly matched accessories and delightfully painted shelves, and cleverly decorated bulletin boards.  I admit, I love looking at the pictures of the "Pinterest worthy" classrooms, and imagine what it might be like with one of those classrooms. Seriously, if I win the lottery, I'll use some of the money to hire a decorator for my classroom.

My classroom doesn't look like these. First of all, I don't have the "decorator's eye" that these teachers have. Second of all, I don't have time to sand, paint, and decorate all the furniture in matching colors.  Nor do I have the money. (Did I mention I was a single parent, still recovering from sending my daughter to college?) Third of all, I just don't have the time, since I'm busy teaching!

My classroom is real. 
It has furniture I have inherited over 39 years of teaching. 
My "Not so Cute" Classroom: I don't have the talent, eye for design, or money for materials that we see in Pinterest worthy classrooms, but my classroom has just what it takes!

Here are a couple of my chairs, both held together with duct tape. The top one is usually hidden by my desk, where I rarely sit, but couldn't live without, since it's where I pile everything! The bottom chair is a classic. It's one of the few adult chairs where my feet actually reach the floor. It looked great a couple of years ago when I covered it with duct tape. And over the years, it has earned the nickname, "The Drop Chair!" Seriously, anyone who sits in it eventually drops stuff!
My "Not so Cute" Classroom: I don't have the talent, eye for design, or money for materials that we see in Pinterest worthy classrooms, but my classroom has just what it takes!

You can see a corner of my desk here, nothing fancy. I went out and bought these cheap, plastic, white shelves, and have several throughout the classroom. They're not very sturdy, but I need the space. (I'm not completely unpacked yet, these are usually much more crowded with "overflow" from my desk!) Thankfully, these white shelves lighten up the classroom, and offer plenty of space!
My "Not so Cute" Classroom: I don't have the talent, eye for design, or money for materials that we see in Pinterest worthy classrooms, but my classroom has just what it takes!

Speaking of shelves, most of mine don't match. At the top, are some second hand metal shelves. Yes, they make noise when the kids bump into them. No, they're not all the same color. But if you look closely, you'll see all my kids' book boxes match, and I've got tons of great books!
My "Not so Cute" Classroom: I don't have the talent, eye for design, or money for materials that we see in Pinterest worthy classrooms, but my classroom has just what it takes!

My file cabinets. 
No, the green one doesn't lock. 
Neither do the others.
But they hold my stuff!

My "Not so Cute" Classroom: I don't have the talent, eye for design, or money for materials that we see in Pinterest worthy classrooms, but my classroom has just what it takes!

The door doesn't work on my closet. 
When you turn the knob, two metal pieces just clang together. When I shut it, I have to tuck it in.
But it still holds my "job chart" just fine! 

My "Not so Cute" Classroom: I don't have the talent, eye for design, or money for materials that we see in Pinterest worthy classrooms, but my classroom has just what it takes!

My rug was in another classroom before I got it. 
It has holes from pencils, and "permadirt". 
But it's still a comfortable place to sit and listen to stories and lessons.
My easel is new to me this year, but not new to the school. I have yet to get the 3 legs even. It's probably the only whiteboard easel in the school that is NOT magnetic. But it holds chart paper!
My "Not so Cute" Classroom: I don't have the talent, eye for design, or money for materials that we see in Pinterest worthy classrooms, but my classroom has just what it takes!

My desks don't match. They are covered in "permadirt" and scratches. The chairs don't match and aren't all good sizes for the kids I have. The legs aren't adjustable, so some kids will have legs swinging and others will barely fit their legs under their desks.
But I have enough desks for them all!

My "Not so Cute" Classroom: I don't have the talent, eye for design, or money for materials that we see in Pinterest worthy classrooms, but my classroom has just what it takes!

I have a number of shelves and tables throughout the classroom. None of them match, they could use a good sanding and painting or staining. But luckily I have plenty of places to put games, books, supplies, and, of course, children.

I'm still working on my classroom, and it's going to look a whole lot better than it does now. But I've learned not to compare my "hand me down" classroom with those "Pinterest worthy" classrooms. 

Why?

Because that's not what it's all about! Teaching is about the kids. We make the best of all we have, and my focus is always on the kids. I plan to keep them so busy learning and having fun that they won't even notice that our furniture isn't the best!


Saturday, August 6, 2016

Back to School Olympic Team Building

Back to School Olympic Team Building: Use a Summer Games theme to review skills from last year, work on team building skills, and have some fun!

At the beginning of the school year, there are certain things you want to do in your classroom:

  1. Have fun.
  2. Get to know the kids.
  3. Have the kids get to know each other.
  4. Help the children learn to work with one another.
  5. Help the children learn how to use the classroom and the materials.

I have found that using an Olympics theme is a great way to start the year. How convenient, the Olympics are going on right now!

Goals for Olympic Team Building:
  1. Have fun!
  2. Give the kids a taste of what the Olympics are like!
  3. Give the children some experience with some of the different countries all over the world.
  4. Review skills from last year!
  5. Liven up these days where a big focus is procedures!
  6. Promote teamwork and positive feelings.
  7. Promote individual self esteem
  8. Grab an opportunity for some Project Based Learning.
  9. Did I mention having fun?

Here's my plan:
  1. Form groups of 4.  Those students will choose a country to represent, design a banner to represent that country, make a flag for that country, and pick a color to wear on the days of "competition".
  2. We'll start with a "parade of athletes" around the school. Each "country" will carry its banner and flag, and will proudly display their colors.  
  3. When we come back to the room, we'll make a big circle with all the countries. Each academic athlete will touch the Olympic flag while we recite the Olympic Oath and the Olympic Creed. (In the freebie below, I copied these almost word for word from what they use at the Olympics, with a few slight changes. I added the word "academic" in front of sports, and I left out the part about performance enhancing drugs.)
  4. After the Oath and the Creed, all academic athletes will shake hands with each other and say the words: Let the games begin!
  5. Then we'll hold a number of "events". I'm thinking a few scoot games, like these, perhaps a "read-a-thon", brainstorming contests (How many nouns can you think of in 60 seconds?), math facts contests, a S.T.E.M. project (something to do with water that can be done outside?), physical contests (How many jumping jacks can you do in 60 seconds?)
  6. After each ceremony, hold a "medal ceremony" for the winners.  I'm thinking some events will be group events, and some will be individual events. Yes, I actually own a CD of national anthems, so I'll play the one that goes with the country they represent, while they display their flag/ banner.
  7. If necessary, I'll come up with my own events, to make sure everyone gets an opportunity to be a winner. (Most people wearing purple?)
  8. Send them home with smiling faces and stories to tell.
Click the images below for links to CDs of National Anthems at Amazon:

           

Brain research tells us that emotions play a big role in memory. Contests and competition get the blood pumping! Brain research also tells us that the social part of learning is essential. This will include quite a bit of movement, music, artwork, and opportunities for everyone on every team to show their strengths. According to brain research, this will touch on many important points.  
    Here are some books with Olympics themes: (Each image is a link to Amazon for more information.)
                                                       
     
    Academic Summer Games
    This freebie contains what you see in the picture, which are some fun activities and ideas to get you started on your own Academic Olympics. 

    Click the image or click HERE for your Academic Olympic Freebie!

    Olympics
    For a more complete resource, click HERE.

    For a set of Olympic Themed Literacy and Math Printables for second grade, click HERE.


    For a set of Math Task Cards that review First Grade Math Skills, click HERE.


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