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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

First Day of School Tips With a Freebie to Help Implement!

There is so  much to explain and go over the first few days of school, you NEED to be able to get your students' attention quickly and this is the best way I've found how to do just that....its kind of like a NO FAIL management technique because the students LOVE to do it as much as I love the results. 
You have to show them how to do a monkey face:
  • they need to pull their ears out (not off like my boy above seems to be doing!)
  • and blow their cheeks out like a "quiet" monkey (I know it's hard to believe, but these little monkeys WILL, without a doubt, try to make monkey sounds with their lips closed tight)The "Monkey Face" makes them stop touching anything AND makes them stop talking, so it is a must-do for any primary grade teacher, especially in the first few days.  I also use it to walk down the halls for the first few weeks, until it is engrained in their brain that we walk down the hall quietly and without rubbing the walls (uh, gross).

One of my other favorite tips to begin the year is the use of stop signs for stopping points in the hallways.  My school is really big, so all of our specials are quite a walking distance, so I put stop signs at different points along the way.  The line leader needs to stop there so we can regroup, make sure everyone is with us and prepare to embark to the next stop sign.  I shared my stop signs a long time ago, but I am relinking them just in case you'd like to give this management technique a whirl as school gets back in session!  It really helps with getaway lines, gaps in the lines, and any other malfunction that could possibly go wrong in a line (ha ha--now that could be an endless list!)
My last tip for the day is to OVER PLAN your first few days.  You can never have enough stuff for them to do and will probably never get to all of it..but, not knowing your incoming students, you are making plans that may not work for this particular group and you need to be sure to have a back up plan ready to go at all times.
Going back to school can be overwhelming for even the most experienced teacher.  Every year, I fret over making the first day memorable, successful, as well as exciting for the children.  I have found what works perfectly for me and put them neatly into a kit for new first grade teachers whose plates are overfull or for veteran teachers who want to get out of the rut of doing the same thing over and over each year right here.  EVERYTHING you need is packed neatly into this kit of lesson plans that will allow you to put your energy elsewhere and RELAX because your first day is planned!  It includes individual work, whole group lessons, hands on activities AND simple, baseline assessments all related to first day of school books I recommend(but can certainly be done without these particular books!).  I want to give this gift to exasperated teachers who deserve to spend time focussing on jsetting up their classrooms, getting familiar with their curriculum and getting to know their new students rather than planning meaningful, academic activities...Relax and consider it done! And, honestly, you will find that by thte time you add your must dos and setting up your expectations, these plans will get you through WAY more than your first day.  It includes:
*reading lesson and follow up activities
*writing lesson and follow up activities
*math lesson and follow up activities
*art activity
*extension activities
*beginning AND end of year SIMPLE baseline assessments
*Brain break ideas and activities
*bulletin board letters to create headings to display work completed from this kit
*MORE directions than you will ever need
*video links to recommended first day literature
and MORE!
This purchase will buy you more than lesson will buy you peace of mind AND time as well.  You can relax knowing that you are ready to roll with extensive first day (week!) plans all READY to GO!  I also have a set like this for kindergarten:


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Simply and Frugally Preparing Student Birthday Gifts A Year in Advance {freebies, too!}

Summer is the time we say we will get all that "extra teacher stuff" done and, if you are like me, summer is half gone and you've gotten little to none of it done.....for good reasons, of course! Trips to Vegas, spending time with our families and friends and RELAXING!  Just when I start to relax and think "ahhh, its summer" all these thoughts, ideas, and "must dos" come rushing to my brain and I come across a BARGAIN that will totally allow me to quickly, cheaply check one of my to dos off my list...(I LOVE bargains and they totally inspire me and get "stuff" done)
my birthday bags!
I (okay, who am I mom) prepares my birthday bags for me every summer.  I  (she) make(s) enough for the whole class, plus some of course for those students who enter later in the year. That way they are ready to go and I don't have to panic when a child enters my room with their brand new birthday outfit and button singing, "it's my birthday!" and I've totally neglected to remember that day was any different than the rest.
So, I've done the same thing for years now because it was easy, the kids love it and it didn't cost very much! Go ahead and click on the link and you can read all about's great, it works....
Click here to read this old post and grab these student birthday freebies!
At Toys R Us, these chalk sets are on sale for 38 cents (from .99) BUT they are also B1G1 1/2 off!  Even better, I went to, ordered 24 sets (for a little over $8!) on their site to store pick up, paid with Paypal and then picked them up at my leisure later in the day right at their customer service desk. Woot woot!

Then I had to get cracking on some "chalky-type" birthday labels....and this is what I came up with:
You can grab the google doc to print them onto Avery Shipping labels 10/sheet here or just
print onto paper and use clear mailing tape to attach to the chalk!
 While you are at it, you might want to consider purchasing this bundle exclusively from Freebielicious girls sponsored by Educents to get ready for school!  It is 73% off original prices and includes over 1200 pages of Back to School here for more information about it!
Click here to get more information!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Checking Stuff Off My Back To School To Do List (and freebies so you can, too!)

Okay, it is so hard to believe that we are talking about Back to School, but it is time to face the reality folks....we are going back to school which means early mornings, no freedom to use the bathroom as we please, specific times to eat AND back to late nights planning.  I absolutely love my job, so it isn't that I dread going back to school...I just dread the loss of freedom to do as I please, when I please and being caught up on my sleep, spending day after day with my babies and all the summer fun that comes with it....
So, I haven't done a lot to prepare for school because my  focus has been on my Vegas trip, but there are a few things I've already prepared for school that may benefit you as well:

1. Labels!  I'm sure everyone does this, but it has been a HUGE timesaver for me as school starts up. I've printed a page for all of my students (and two pages of my name!) to label EVERYTHING: math and writing journals, cubbies, coat hooks, MONKEY Books, on the picture below so you can do it as well and check this off your back to school list (it's FREE!):
2.   WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER!  I have also printed off my calendars for the year (freebie from Jodi at Fun in First).  This year, I am going to print the whole year's worth off, 3 hole punch them and put them in the students' MONKEY Books, that way I am not scrambling to get them in their binders at the beginning of every month because they are already there! I will go through and write in days off and known special events throughout the year, as well as put a circle on each day before copying (a spot that the children record what color they are on at the end of the day for their parents).  If you want these cute, already made calendars, click here.
This is just an example of how you can take someone else's free offering and configure it to work for your classroom.  I took Jodi's calendar that she made editable in powerpoint and added my circles for students to record their end of the day clipchart color!  Students always keep this hole punched one in their take home binder, but I always send home another, updated version with current upcoming events in the school and classroom to hang on their refrigerator.
3. Math Facts! I have really taken it upon myself to really understand and figure out the best way for students to gain automaticiy with their addition and subtraction math facts.  In doing so, I've started reading the book Mastering the Basic Math Facts in Addition and Subtraction , preparing for a book study that I am hosting starting later on this month! is soooo eye opening and obvious that the authors GET how children learn, taking into consideration their developmental abilities which is so often disregarded in this educational race to learn these days.  If you don't have this book, there is still time to get it before we get started.  It comes with a CD that has over 450 printable pages to make implementation and planning SO EASY. 

The last thing I can say I've done to physically prepare for school so far this summer is photocopy my Journey through the School Year books.  It is something I know I need for the first day of school, so it is something I can easily check off my list.  It is simply a recording of each students' academic growth throughout the year.  You can literally see their gains unfold on each page of the book and it is such great assessment tool for you and couples as a gift for families at the end of the year.  The students draw a portrait of themself and write their name on the first day of every month.  For first grade, I would have them write a sentence about something they learned or did over the past month (to capture their writing skill growth as well).  You can read more about them here and grab a simple beginning/end of year assessment while you are there as well!

I've also been compiling the very best Back to School items to make going back so much EASIER and more ENJOYABLE for both me and my students.  My friends at Freebielicious and I were thinking "What could we do to make our readers lives easier this summer?"...since we are all about giving, we came up with this:we have teamed up with Educents with some instant downloads for you! Loaded with great products for back to school including book studies, craftivities, classroom prep, and content materials for back to school! With 23 instant downloads that will have you prepared in NO time... you have to check it out! 

My product of Journey through the Year (as mentioned above) will be included and surely be loved by both you and your students along with MANY, MANY easy to implement products from my Freebielicious colleagues!
There are pieces in this product to make it appropriate for PreK, kindergarten and/or first grade!

For a limited time it is $34.99 from Educents which is 69% off!  Twenty-three products for your kinder and first grade classrooms and over 1200 pages of materials from some of your favorite teachers!  It's a bundle you are sure to LOVE!
Take a moment to take a peek at some of the other teachers featured in this bundle - what that have going on for back to school and what they are featuring in this deal too!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

SuperBowl Sale - Score a Touchdown HERE!

Hi Ladies, Here's the Super Bowl button. Please let me know if I need to change anything! Thanks! :)
It's SuperBowl day and the Freebielicious girls are celebrating by throwing a sale for all of you!
My entire store is on sale for 20% off which can make for some really great deals for all of you.
My top selling 100th Day Family Project Kit is down to $4 for today. Read all about how people all over the country are celebrating with this new twist on 100s day collections idea here!
Here are all of our 100th day capes!
We made 100th Day glasses with 100 stamps to go with our 100th Day capes! Thanks for the idea!
Our 100th day capes!!!!
Or my (and my students FAVORITE contemporary literacy center (or station...whatever it is they want to call them now!) DRAW IT NOW (with a literacy response!)...bought separately they cost $16, bundled together and with this sale, t
they are only $9.60
now THAT is a steal (do they do steals in football???) if so, that would be a perfect way to justify this sale!
If not, just go shopping and check out all of my other friends' sales from Freebielicious
 as well!

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