Friday, December 13, 2013

Organizing Student Websites

I am just so excited for this post….For years I have been wanting to find a way to make student websites more accessible and easy for my students to open. It is hard trying to teach first graders to type a URL into the URL bar. They waste so much time trying to type the link in and by the time they actually finish they have wasted five minutes of their time. Well, I found an AMAZING and FREE website to help me organize all their websites. The website I am speaking of is called This website allows teachers to organize all the websites into icons (which look like app icons). It also allows you to set Symbaloo as your homepage, so that when students open the web browser, they are already logged into Symbaloo. They simply have to click on the icon of the website they wish to visit and WOOSH… off they go. Below is a picture of my homepage.

I have color coded my icon so the students know which section in which they should be working. On my page, blue represents websites that may be used during "center time." Yellow are the websites students use for homework. Red are websites students can use during math time or math center time. Green are websites students can use during indoor recess. Also, any websites that need a student login, I print out the login information for that site and tape inside their classwork folder so they always have their username and password available.

One other feature that is great about Symbaloo is that they have a Google search bar build right into your icon page. The students can simply search right from the Symbaloo page.

Now you are probably wondering… "What websites are you using?" Well below is a list of the websites I have linked into my Symbaloo.

Center Time Websites

Indoor Recess / Free Choice Time (Website Name & Link)
Now I am sure you are wondering… "How do I set up the icons?" Well… you will find the steps below.

STEP #1 - Copy the link of the website you would like to create an icon for.
STEP #2 - Click on a blank "box" on your Symbaloo page.
STEP #3 - Click on "Create a Tile"

STEP #4 - Paste you link and name it. Choose your tile color. Then choose your icon to represent that site. (Sometimes an icon is provided  OR you can choose an icon from the icon library. Below is what this part looks like.)
STEP #5 - Click "save"

There you have it. It is as simple as that. I hope you love Symbaloo as much as I do. Just give it a try!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The BIG Classroom Reveal

Well, after hours upon hours of hard work, I am definitely ready for this new group of kiddos. Here are pictures of my classroom.

Taken standing in the door of my classroom.

Each pod of desks is capped with these supply shelves. On these shelves are the students book boxes, markers, crayons, colored pencils, "garbage bowl," Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and sandwich size Ziploc baggies. I have also stored their science books on these shelves.

The classroom from another angle.

Other side of the room.

Here is my meeting area.

Listening Center

Work Space & Reading Couch

Behavior Chart & Rules

Bucket Filler System (very excited to try this out this year)

Classroom Library

Writing Center

Class Jobs

Birthday Chart

Work Zones (Each student is assigned to specific areas in the room. When I give them the freedom to work around the room, they must work at the work zone. It prevents arguing for some of the "favorite" areas in the room.)

I hope you enjoyed the pictures of my classroom. Good luck in your new school year!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

First Visit Back to My Classroom

Summer has flown by! I can't believe it is time to get back and set up my classroom. This year we have such a crazy professional development schedule that I had to go back to my classroom a week earlier than I usually have to report. Below is the "hot mess" I walked into.
Here is my classroom from the doorway.

This is walking in from the door and looking to the left.

This is the view from the opposite side of the room.

Luckily we were able to leave "stuff" on our walls. However, I think I am going to change up many of the things I have on my walls. The main goal of my first day back in my room was to get all my furniture in place. Let me just say... "HOLY COW!" I decided to have my meeting area by my Smart Board this year which threw my "usual set up" more difficult. I struggled for about an hour with one corner of my room. By the end of the first day, everything did come together. I will post my completed room within the next week or two. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

TpT Back to School Sale - Up to 28% Off

It's that time of the year again... BACK TO SCHOOL! My entire store will be 20% off on August 18th-19th. In order to get the full 28% off, you will need to enter the promo code BTS13 at checkout. Click on the picture above to be directed to my store. Happy shopping... I know I will be purchasing many items on my wish list.

**Thanks to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs for the sale logo.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm done! Now what? {Famous words}

We all heard our students say "I'm done? Now what should I do?" It is enough to drive you insane. You are trying to give your attention to the student who need it the most, but what about those students who work at a quicker pace than the rest. As teachers, we need to provide options for our students. They should be able to independently decide what should happen once they have finished their assignment. I know there are many different versions of posters and signs which display options for students to choose from, well here is one I created...

To purchase this product, click on the image below.

I will customize any activity choices you wish.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

New School Year is Approaching... Let the shopping madness begin!

The new school year is approaching quicker than I would like. I realized yesterday that I better start preparing some of my supplies for the year. I do love this time of year, but I honestly do not like all the money I end up spending. I try to find as much stuff as I can at any dollar store or dollar bin. Yesterday I made a quick run to Target. I was very disappointed with their dollar spot, however; I did dig until I found a few gems.

First I found these awesome ice packs. I always try to keep ice packs in my mini-fridge freezer. They are life savers. They seem to defuse any situation where students get a little bump or scrape. It is also nice to have when there are bigger boo-boos.

Another great find at the Dollar Spot at Target were these nerd glasses. They are perfect for read and/or write the room centers.

To compliment these glasses, I found a great pointer at the Dollar Tree. These squirt guns are awesome because they expand out (to almost 3 feet), which makes it easier for the students to actually reach the words they are reading/writing. 

**I cannot take all the credit for this idea. Leslie from Kindergarten Works shared "21 Things worth purchasing from the Dollar Store." Click on the picture below to check out more ideas.

I will be posting more of my purchase as the new school year draws closer. HAPPY SHOPPING fellow teachers!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Keeping Students' Desks Organized

Messy student desks drive me NUTS!! I have found a solution which has been effective year after year.   My students keep all their books, folders, white boards, etc. on the left hand side of their desk. I teach them to make a capital "L" with both hands. The one that is facing the correct way is their left hand. Eventually they learn the difference between left and right. They can also cheat and use their name tag. I always purchase the Really Good Stuff Desktop Helper, which has so much useful information for  the students to use throughout the year. Here is what the Desktop Helper looks like. (Click on the picture to go to the website.)

** I recommend the Deluxe Plastic version. Also, I do not just stick them to the desk. I Velcro them to the desk so that the students can clean under them throughout the year. 

Back the student desk... Here is a picture of one of my student's desks...

The biggest thing to keeping the students' desk clean is the small Sterlite basket. It hides EVERYTHING! You will have to measure to make sure it will fit in your desks. It fit perfectly into mine! Click on the image to go to the best deal I have found on them. 

12 baskets for $31.92. What is nice is that you will be able to use these baskets year after year.  It is worth the investment.

In these basket the students store their dry erase markers, scissors, classroom incentives (tickets, punch cards, etc.), dry erase board erasers, etc. These are the things that can make a desk look cluttered and messy. If you look at the picture of the student desk above, you will noticed I placed a binding ring on the basket. This helps the students pull their basket out of their desk more easily. 

Overall, the majority of my class has an organized desk. This is also due to desk inspections. There are two ways of doing this. One is having random desk inspections throughout the year. Before the students arrive at school, walk around and check each student desk. If it is clean and organized, they get a reward of some kind (candy, note, ticket, etc.). What ever your incentive may be. If it is messy, I "dump" their desk. I remove everything from the desk and place it on the floor under their desk. When they arrive at school they will have to reorganize their desk. To make this process go quicker, I usually ask other students (who keep their desk clean regularly) to help the students who had their desks dumped.  OR you can have the "Desk Fairy" come visit your classroom. Same concept as above (rewards for clean desk, desks are "dumped" for messy desks), but you pretend their is a fairy that actually comes to the classroom and checks the desk. The fairy may leave notes to the class or to individual students. You always play dumb as to what the fairy did. There always seems to be questions as to why their desk got dumped. I just tell them "I don't know. This is the way the room looked when I came into today. Maybe you should work a little bit harder at keeping your desk clean." The kids really enjoy it.

I hope these ideas will help keep those student desks clean.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fact Triangles

This past school year I was beyond frustrated when my students mixed my fact triangles sets together. I thought to myself.... "There just has to be an easier way to keep track of all these sets." That is when I came up with the idea that I would create my own fact triangles, which each had a different color and design. That way, if I find any random fact triangles lying around the room, I would be able to return them to the correct set. Yesterday I created a WILD themed fact triangle set.

Check them out here at my TpT store (click on the image).

These sets are divided by design and color. There are two different designs (giraffe & zebra). Each design has 8 different colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink & black). There are 30 cards in each set. There are 16 different sets in this pack. If you click on the PREVIEW button, you can see suggestions for how to make the most of this set.

I plan on creating a couple more different designs. I will probably work on those throughout this week.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dash N' Dots Doodles... My First Summer Project

Well....I finally got to start my summer vacation last week. I forgot how nice it is to do absolutely NOTHING.  Since I have had some extra time I decided to work on some of my Teachers Pay Teachers products. The first products I made were inspired by the popular demand of my first set of clip art called Dash N' Dots Doodles. There were many comments asking for me to create new sets. While I was sitting around last week I began to doodle and VOILA... here they are...

Click on the images to check them out in my TpT store

I hope you guys like them. Click on the images below to receive your FREEBIES!!!

From Dashes N' Dots Doodles 2

 From Dashes N' Dots Doodles 3

Friday, April 5, 2013

It's Raining Adjectives {Craftivity}

Spring break is almost over (depressing), so it is time to start thinking of what I will be teaching when I return. When looking at my word study plan I noticed adjectives is next in my curriculum plan. Since I have the time right now I wanted to plan something fun for my kiddos to do (plus start decorating my room for Spring). I created this fun craftivity. Check it out at my TpT store. (click on the image below)

Here is a sample of the craftivity...

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Spring Centers

Well, I have finally completed my Spring Math and Literacy centers. It seems like I have been working on these forever. In all honesty, I had all but one of the centers done at the beginning of March. Oh well... at least it is done now. I have created 10 different centers (5 ELA and 4 Math). Below is a list of all the centers that are included in this pack...

ELA Centers:
  • Signs of Spring (ABC Order)
  • Springtime Sentence Scramble
  • Buggy Beginning Sounds
  • Rain or Sun We’re Having Fun! (Distinguishing long & short vowels sounds)
  • Rainbow Rhymes
Math Centers:

  • Flower Power (Addition & Subtraction Facts)
  • It’s Springtime (Telling time to the hour and half hour)
  • Spring is Shaping Up (2D Shapes)
  • Sunny Solid Shapes (3D Shapes)
  • Itty Bitty Inchworm (Standard & Non-Standard Measurement)
Science Mini-Book:

  • Spring has Spring Mini-Book (w/ projectable book)

Click on the picture to check out this center pack.

Get one FREE center from this pack by clicking on the image below.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

100th Day of School

Well the 100th day of school has come and gone, and I am finally able to write my post. This year's 100th day of school was a major success. I have "tweaked" my centers over the years so that I can ensure that my students are fully engaged in each activity. Below you will find what special things I did for the students to celebrate the 100th day.

Welcome to the 100th Day of School!

Each student receive a 100th day treat!
Click here to get your FREE 100th day cookie label.

Thanks to my mom (who is a nurse) I was able to create these 100th day bracelets using old hospital bracelets. 

Now for some of the fun! Here are pictures of the centers my students participated in. It was truly amazing focused they were at each center. Each center was 20 minutes.

 100th Day Snack
Each student counted 10 piece of snack and placed them in a each circle. Once they reached 100 they poured the snack into their Ziploc bag. They were allowed to repeat this as many times as they could within the 20 minutes.

Click here for FREE sorting mat label.
Click here for a FREE download of the 10s circles. (just print on colored paper)

 100 Cup Tower
The students were given 100 cups to create whatever kind of tower they wished.

Write 100 Words
Click here to purchase this center from my TpT store.
The students searched around the room to find as many words as they could within 20 minutes. Some students actually got pretty close to 100.

Graphing 100 M&Ms
Click here to purchase this center from my TpT store.
The students were given a bag of 100 M&Ms. They had to sort them by color on their sorting mat. Then they had to create the graph based on their data. On the back of their graphing sheet, they answer questions about their graph. If they finished early, they surveyed other students in the class as to what is their favorite color of M&M. They then could create a graph based off of their survey.

Flip a Penny 100 Times
Click here to purchase this center from my TpT store.
The students flipped a penny 100 times. Each time they flipped the penny they recorded their results. If the penny landed on red they colored the square red. If it landed on blue they colored the square blue. They really enjoyed this center.

The students truly had an awesome day. They said, "this is the best day of school ever!" I know I hear this several times throughout the year but it never gets old. The 100th day of school is definitely a lot of work but it is so worth it.

If you are interesting in purchasing my complete center pack, please click on the picture below.