Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The One Tool That Will Save Your Sanity!

Teaching can be a very stressful job.  I have discovered the one item that can save a teacher's sanity!(Or at least it saved mine!) If you aren't a teacher, but have a teacher in your life, then this is the one item that should be on your list this gift giving season! (Or really any time of the year!) 
The One Classroom Tool That Will Save Your Sanity, best pencil sharpener
After 15 years in the classroom and hearing complaints and grumbles from coworkers, I speak from experience when I say that sharpening pencils is one of the main stresses in the classroom.  Whether the students are sharpening their own pencils, or the teacher does all the sharpening, having a good sharpener is one thing that can keep a teacher from loosing his/her mind!

I used to dread having to sharpen pencils.  No matter which type of sharpener I bought, it would never get the job done. (Manual or electric, hand-held or mounted)  Either the sharpener would jam, or it wouldn't sharpen evenly, if at all.  But now, I'm in pencil sharpening heaven!  I no longer dread sharpening pencils and actually kind of enjoy it now that each time I take a pencil out of this sharpener, I'm granted the satisfaction of seeing a perfectly sharp pencil!  A few years ago, a fellow teacher introduced me to this amazing sharpener.

The most amazing pencil sharpener ever
Not only does this sharpener sharpen pencils perfectly every time, it is quick also!  I've clocked it at about 2 seconds for a dull pencil, and about 5 seconds for a brand new pencil.

I've had mine for about 2 years and it is working just as well as it did the first day I got it.  I don't let my Kinder students use it, but I think it will still hold up well if you teach older kids and they use it responsibly.

In my classroom, we have two canisters for pencils.  One is for sharp pencils and the other is for pencils that need to be sharpened.  Each student keeps two pencils in their school box, and when they need a pencil sharpened, they put it in the "not sharp" cup, and take one out of the "sharp" cup.  This way I'm not sharpening pencils all day long.  I can just sharpen after school.
Sharp & Not Sharp Pencils

Good quality pencils are also the best way to keep your sanity.  I love using Ticonderoga pencils.  The lead doesn't break as easily as other brands, and the wood sharpens the best no matter what type of sharpener you have.  (And when parents send in the PRESHARPENED Ticonderoga pencils, it's an amazing bonus!)
Ticonderoga Pencils

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Happy Fall Y'all!

The weather is starting to cool down a little here, so it's time to get things in the room ready for fall!
Here's what we've been up to and some things we will be doing later on this month!

We made Directed Drawings of pumpkins that turned out so adorably cute!
Pumpkin Directed Drawings

We also made turkeys out of construction paper.  I showed the students my example, and then just gave them brown, red, yellow, and orange paper to create their own turkeys. Each one is so unique!
Turkey Art

We cut letters out of magazines and matched them to the letters on our posters.
Magazine Letter Hunt, www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com

Magazine Letter Hunt, www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com

Our Fall Sensory Tub is full of leaves, sunflowers, acorns, mini pumpkins, gourds, and corn. (Most of these items came from Hobby Lobby.)  I also always include tongs, tweezers and spoons to scoop with to work on fine motor skills.
Fall Sensory Tub, www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com

We are working on knowing the difference between letters, words, and sentences, so we are using this packet to practice sorting them.

Let's Sort: Letters, Words & Sentences,  www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com

Pocket Chart Sort
Let's Sort: Letters, Words & Sentences,  www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com

Write Around the Room
Let's Sort: Letters, Words & Sentences,  www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com

Here's a preview of what is in this packet.
Let's Sort: Letters, Words & Sentences,  www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com

 Non-standard Measurement using turkeys to measure how tall everyone is.  The paper on the door says, "_________ is ____ turkeys tall."
Non-Standard Measurement with Turkeys,  www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com

I made this subitizing game to play at our school's Family Math and Reading Night, but it will also be in a center in our classroom.
Thanksgiving Subitizing, www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com

Here are some other Thanksgiving items you might be interested in!
 Thanksgiving Write Around the Room: Simple Sight Word Sentences, www.JustTeachy.blogspot.com    Thanksgiving Vocabulary Match & Write, www.JustTeachy.blospot.com    Thanksgiving ABC Order, www.JustTeachy.blospot.com

Curling up with a good book seems to epitomize what fall is all about.  So get comfy and settle in with one of my classroom's favorite fall picture books!
(affiliate links included)
Fall Favorites Book List, Great picture books to read aloud to your students or your own children this fall

1. The Night Before Thanksgiving, by Natasha Wing This is a sweet, rhyming story about preparing for the big day!

2.10 Fat Turkeys, by Tony Johnston My students love counting backwards along with these silly turkeys!

3.Leaves, by David Ezra Stein This is a simple story of a young bear's first fall.  Very sweet!

4.It's Thanksgiving! by Jack Prelutsky  My class loves all of Jack Prelutsky's poetry books!!

5.This is the Turkey, by Abby Levine Cute rhyming book about Thanksgiving Day with family.

6. Leaves! Leaves! Leaves! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace This informative picture book follows Mama and Buddy Bear as they discover trees throughout the seasons.

7.Colorful Leaves, by Maria Fleming This is a great nonfiction book about why leaves change color.

8. Let It Fall, by Maryann Cocca-Leffler Adorably simple rhyming book all about fall.

9.The Very First Thanksgiving Day, by Rhonda Gowler Greene A sweet story about the first Thanksgiving.

10.Fall Leaf Project, by Margaret McNamara When these students hear that in some states the leaves don't change color, they come up with a plan to share fall with other first-graders.

11. Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks, by Margaret Sutherland This is a great read aloud to accompany the children's writing about what they are thankful for.

12. Bear Says Thanks, by Karma Wilson Another "Bear" favorite!  We can't get enough of this bear and love this book about thankfulness and friendship.

13. A Plump and Perky Turkey, by Teresa Bateman Very funny read aloud about a turkey themed arts and crafts fair created to lure a turkey into town.  I like to read this one before we disguise turkeys.

14.There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves! by Lucille Colandro Our favorite "Old Lady" swallows all kinds of fall items and ends up making a scarecrow!

16.We're Going on a Leaf Hunt, by Steve Metzger Three friends go on a leaf-finding adventure.  This book can be sang to the tune, "We're Going on a Bear Hunt".  I like to read this book to my class before we go outside on a leaf hunt for leaves to observe in the classroom.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October in Our Room

October is here and so it's time to bring out some Halloween centers and activities!  Here are a few of things my students will be using this month.  (Some of these activities are close to 15 years old, and are in desperate need of being remade, but the kids don't mind, and they still work!)

 Fine Motor Center
This week, the students are using tweezers to transfer small plastic spiders into the pumpkin shaped ice cube tray which just so happens to also be a ten frame!  They can roll the die to see how many spiders to transfer.  I also have a second tray in this center so they can take turns rolling the die with their partner to see who fills up their tray first.
Fine Motor Spiders in Pumpkin Ice Tray (10 frame), counting, one-to-one correspondence, adding on

We also have this wire shelf that the students can lace the ribbons through.
Fine Motor Ribbon Weaving

Sensory Tub
Each month I add a new sensory tub for the students to explore.  This is our Halloween tub and it is full of pom poms, felt spiders, felt webs, mini erasers, witch's hats, ghosts, and witch's cauldrons.  I also always provide tongs, tweezers, and scoops to work on fine motor skills while picking up the items, and a tray to help contain the mess.
Halloween Sensory Tub, fine motor

Story Retelling
Each year, my Kinders cannot get enough of the "Five Little Pumpkins" chant!  I added the story pieces to our Story Retelling Center felt board...
Five Little Pumpkins Story Retelling

...and we also act out the story for each other with our pumpkin stick puppets.
Five Little Pumpkins Story Retelling, actingFive Little Pumpkins Story Retelling props

Morning Games
In our Morning Game basket, I have activities that might not really fit into a center.  Mini erasers are always a big hit!  I just set out a container of erasers along with a tray to try and contain the mess.  The students can use the erasers pretty much however they wish.  They usually sort them, stack them, or make different shapes.
Halloween Mini Erasers

This is our "Boo!" game.  Super simple, and it could definitely use a little face lift after all these years, but it is still a class favorite!  I just drew a jack-o-lantern face and cut out.  On the opposite side I wrote lowercase letters, but you could label yours with whatever your students are learning at the time.  A few of the jack-o-lantern have the word "Boo" written on them instead of a letter.  To play, the first player turns over a card and says the name and sound of the letter written on the other side.  If they get it correct, they get to go again.  Their turn is over if they can't identify the name of the letter and the sound, or if they get a "boo" card. 
BOO Game, letter and sound recognition

I have several of these Sight Word Board Games for different themes throughout the year.  Each one is programmed with different sight words that we are learning at that time of year.
Halloween Sight Word Game Board

Classic memory games are always a favorite too, and so easy to switch out with each new holiday or theme.  This one has seen better days, but still gets chosen over and over again!
Halloween Memory Game

Nonstandard Measurement
With each new month, I hang a new measurement chart on our classroom door.  The kiddos help measure each other against the pumpkins and then they record how tall they are on the paper next to the chart. The recording page says, "_______ is ____ pumpkins tall."
Pumpkin nonstandard measurement

Pocket Chart Activities
In this pocket chart activity, the students read the sentence, "I can see __ pumpkins." Then they find the card with the correct number of pumpkins and place it next to the sentence.
Pocket Chart, "I can see ___ pumpkins." sight words, number recognition, counting

This "hide and find" pocket chart game is one my Kinders beg to play each day.  I have different ones for different themes and concepts we are learning.  This "Where's the Spider?" game practices number recognition up to 20, and upper and lowercase letter recognition and sounds. 
Where's the Spider Pocket Chart Game, hide and find game

I choose which concept I want the students to practice, and place the cards in the pocket chart, hiding the spider card behind one of them.  The students take turns coming up and guessing where they think the spider is hiding by pointing to a card, saying the number, letter, or sound on that card and then looking behind the card to see if the spider is there.
Where's the Spider Pocket Chart Game, hide and find game

This file can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, here.
Where's the Spider Pocket Chart Game, hide and find game

 Writing Center
In the Writing Center, I have Halloween vocabulary cards and sentence starters.  The kinders write the sentence on a piece of a paper and choose a word from the vocabulary pocket chart to finish the sentence.
Halloween Writing Center

Counting Cards
 These Spider Web Counting Cards are great for practicing number recognition, counting, one-to-one correspondence and number order.  Here, my students are using the mini spider erasers from Target to add the correct number of spiders to each card.  If you don't have these mini erasers, you can always cut the ring part off of some spider rings to use instead.  I have included full page cards to use if you will be using spider rings.  Spider rings are bigger than the erasers, and this way the cards won't get too crowded.
Spider Web Counting Cards, practice number recognition, counting, number order and one-to-one correspondence

These cards are available on Teachers Pay Teachers, here.
Spider Web Counting Cards, practice number recognition, counting, number order and one-to-one correspondence

Hope you have a great October!!