Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Time to get Blorganized!

I HOPE you are wondering what in the world it means to get blogrganized. I know I was and I did it and I love it! Blorganizing happens because of an AH-MAZING product created by Ashley at Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd! I honestly can't describe how awesome this product is. It is essentially a binder that you create where you keep yourself organized on all things blogging & Teachers Pay Teachers.

Ashely posted a picture on instagram of her teacher desk and right there on top, smack dab in the middle was this binder that read "Blogging/TPT Binder" on the front. UM HELLO. What is that and how can I have it? She commented back that it was her product and in her TpT store. I think 30 seconds went by between reading her comment and having that product in my possession.

I got it all printed out-- printer friendly pages too in black and white with adorable borders and Melonheadz clipart of course. I laminated the cover page and binder spine. Purchased my binder-- purple to match. And then gathered any other materials I might need while I sift through the pages and decide how this is going to work for ME.

I decided on using page dividers to put my binder into sections and clear page protectors to hold all of the pages.

I am so head over heels for this that I put together a video review showing you how I put my binder together. My apologies for the fact that everything to you is backwards in this! I recorded it using the camera on the Mac. But I think you'll still get a good understanding of what is included in this item and how you can use it to stay organized.

Thanks to Ashley, I am going to give you a chance to win your very own copy of the Blogging and TpT Binder for free! All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter below. A winner will be chosen on Sunday July 27th after the rafflecopter ends.

You can also head over to Ashely's blog to see how she set up her Blogging and TpT binder.

If you can't wait to enter, you can {click here} to purchase this from Ashley's store. It's time to get blorganized people! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Home Laminating Trick

Raise your hand if you have a home laminating machine. If you didn't raise your hand I'm going to strongly suggest that you go buy one! I had a "nicer" one from Staples that I used for some time. Until I managed to wrap laminate around the roll of it. I needed a new one before I had the chance to attempt fixing it or getting it replaced so I bought the Scotch laminator that Wal-Mart offers.

It works wonders. I would totally recommend it. It's really not a bad price either! And you can order your packs on amazon or purchase at Wal-Mart, whatever your preference is.

Okay, okay, now that we've discussed that, let's move on to the point of this post. Laminating at home is awesome. We can't live at school (although sometimes we think it would just be easier that way) so it's nice to have the option to laminate some items from the comfort of your desk chair...or couch..or floor..wherever you work best!

You have to use laminate pouches when using these machines. So you place your items inside of the pouch, and lay down the top layer. Then you have to pick your pouch up and slide into the machine--typically on an angle. Easy peasy right? YES! Until you have to laminate little tiny pieces. And ironically I prefer to do little tiny pieces at home because my home laminate is thicker than school laminate, therefore making my small items just a tad bit more durable.

They slide pretty easily when you're trying to move your pouch to the machine and forget it when you try to slide it in on angle. They will be all over the place. So I came up with a magic weapon.

Maybe you're thinking, "Erin, that's not really a secret. It's a gluestick." or "Duh, Erin, that's what I've been doing with mine forever!" Well there was a serious ah-ha moment when it dawned on me.

I put a dab of glue on the back of each picture then lay it down on my laminate pouch. It keeps the picture right in place, no sliding around while it enters in the machine.

Fill up your page with all of your pictures and then lay down the top of your pouch and it's ready to enter the machine. The other awesome part--you don't even notice the glue from the back after it runs through the machine.

And just so you know I'm not pulling your leg about the glue not showing through on the back.

Now if you hadn't thought to already do this on your own you're probably thinking, "Why didn't I think of that?!" So of course, that's why I'm sharing this idea. It is such a BRIGHT IDEA! If you're interested in more tips and tricks make sure to follow me on facebook and instagram.

You can also browse the link up below to find more bright ideas from over 80 awesome bloggers that spark your interest! I always learn so much from the Bright Ideas Hop!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Amazing Products for Back to School

Okay, okay, please take your fingers out of your ears and stop saying "lalalalala" just because I said "back to school". Unfortunately there's no avoiding it. It's on the horizon for most of us. I go back to work August 19th for teachers. WAH! 

BUT as much as we hate to admit that it's getting closer, we all love our summers for prepping new ideas for the classroom and/or brainstorming organization and decor ideas. I know one project I'm trying to tackle is my dramatic play area. I started a series of posts on it. You can read {part 1} here. I hope to have {part 2} coming soon.

Along with making classroom decisions, we're also shopping TpT looking for the perfect products to kick off our school year. Whether it's a product to be prepped for organizing, or activities to have planned for day 1. For me I've already purchased 2 AWESOME products to help get me organized for the year! 

The first is by Teaching Special Thinkers and the second, Schroeders Shenanigans in 2nd. I really think these 2 are going to be critical players in my organization for the 2014-2015 school year. Now, I just have to take the time to print the pages and decide how I want to set them up!

The next step is finding some really amazing products to start the year off right with! And so me and my girls at Freebielicious 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... you have to check it out!

I've included my Let's Learn Colors unit in this bundle. We're always tackling colors in the beginning of the year to see who knows all of their colors, who can match them, etc. Hopefully in a kinder room you have a decent amount of students who come in knowing all their colors. Which makes the included Bingo game a perfect activity for the start of the year!

I also love doing the Name that Color book with my students! It's a great way to assess what colors they know to see if they can complete the book correctly on their own or not!

Want to see what else you get in this bundle? Check out the photo below!

For a limited time it is $34.99 from Educents which is 68% 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!

To take a peek at all of the items included up close, check out the links below from each of the authors! Guaranteed to help kick your school year off to a great start!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Daily Schedule Cards

I really enjoyed sharing our daily schedule with you and it seemed like you all enjoyed hearing about it! I love using the pocket chart--it literally is perfect for our classroom! So I thought, I need to share these schedule cards with you too so that you can use this idea if you loved it as much as I do!

I've made the file editable just for you! This way you can call each part of the day whatever you like and add in your own times. I put 2 pictures on some of the cards just like I have, and I also broke them up into 2 in case that is your preference.

I also tried to think of additional subjects that you may need in your daily schedule that I don't use--and added those too! Such as therapies and specials.

If you need more than 1 bathroom to add to your schedule you will have to print 2 of that page. Each item is included only 1 time in the pack.

If you missed the post about our daily routine you can read up about it {here}.

If these cards would be the perfect addition to your classroom you can head to my TpT store to get your copy!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Daily Schedule... {This is How we Do It}

...I was only 7 when that song came out, but either way, you're now reading this title with the tune to that song. #missionaccomplished

I frequently get asked on comments or through messages what my daily routine looks like in the classroom. I love seeing daily schedules. When creating the perfect schedule and routine for your classroom, you need to bounce around some ideas and suggestions. And where else better to get those suggestions than from other teachers?!

In most grade levels you might not have as much wiggle room when it comes to creating your daily routine as we do down in pre-school. Your reading and math RtI times are set by your administrators and you've got to include 'x' amount of time in this subject and that subject. Some of the decisions are already made for you. But for me, I have full flexibility with my schedule. Even for lunch I can pick whatever time I want since my kids eat in the classroom, not the cafeteria with kindergarten.

I also am free to chose when I take my lunch and my paras take their lunch. It's awesome to have such flexibility! But that still doesn't make figuring out your schedule/daily routine any easier.

I usually end up with a few rough drafts on paper with various times and arrangements before making a final decision. My final copy is then transferred over to the classroom schedule and individual student schedules. A copy of it is also included in my welcome packet for the parents.

The next step is plugging in the students. I always, always, ALWAYS am tweaking our schedule after the kids start. Whether it's changing the order of something or adjusting the times, something is guaranteed to change. Usually by the third week, it's set in stone. Then I send home a revised copy to the parents. They probably toss it, but I like for them to have it just in case they have to pick their child up early one day, or make a doctors appointment-- they know what their child will miss.

For the 2013-2014 school year, this was our schedule. I may have tweaked our times by 5-10 minutes here and there, but didn't make new cards to reflect that.

As you can see I display it right by our carpet area. We re-group here following most transitions so it's a perfect location. You can also see on the job chart that there is a schedule helper. This person helps to move the clothespin down our schedule throughout the day. This pocket chart is so perfect for our schedule. I actually have 2 of them because I didn't think our full day schedule would fit. I was able to make it work though by combining some things (center time and clean up time) and doing just a dismissal picture for when it's time to get back packs. Because once they get their back pack, we don't come back to carpet, so we'd never move that clip down again.

And yes, I FORGOT to put a lunch picture on the lunch/bathroom part of our day. I kid you not, I left it that way all year #teacherfail I did at some point realize the picture was missing, I just never took the time to fix it. Whoops.

There is also a piece of velcro on top of the outside picture. This is for when it rains. I velcro a gross motor room picture on there. This is essentially a small gym right across the hall from our classroom.

I'm sure if I ended this post here I'd be flooded with questions about what we do in each part of day so I'll go ahead and elaborate on that for you. If you didn't think this post was already long enough, it's about to get LONGER! Go grab yourself some coffee or a latte--maybe even a snack!

I'm sure some of this self-explanatory, but everyone does things differently, so let's dive in! **Please note that outside and lunch should be flip flopped! I put the schedule back together just to snap these photos and just now noticed that mistake!**

Arrival/Bathroom: Students come in the classroom at 7:50. Upon entering they complete their arrival routine of hanging up their name tag, back pack, taking out their folder, signing in, and then completing the work box at their seat. After they finish their box, they put it away on the shelf. Then they are allowed to play at what we call "table time." These are specific toys and puzzles on 2 tables. This is the only area they can play in at this time. Or they can look at books on the book shelf, which is located in the same area. Students are sent to the bathroom one at a time after they finish their box and are at the table. At this time one adult will go the cafeteria to get our breakfast.

Breakfast: The schedule says 8:00, but realistically this wound up being 8:30. By the time everyone uses the bathroom and we get back from the cafeteria, we sit down for breakfast. Each child has an assigned seat at the table and a placemat that they made. Everyone gets germ-x, we sing "open shut them" and then they are told the breakfast choices. Every child must ask before they can have anything --whether it's with words or pictures. Some students are even served bite by bite to make them request more. Communication is the goal! Anything to promote it! As they finish breakfast, they go back the table time toys. Anyone who still needs to use the bathroom will go after breakfast. When everyone is finished, we turn on the clean up song to put away our books and table time toys. Then students transition to the carpet.

Greeting Time: This did not start at 8:30 either. More typically it was anywhere from 8:50-9:00 before we sat down. We do 3 things during greeting time and I have these 3 things on a small schedule that I move another clip down on so the students know the 3 tasks we do at that time. (Sorry I don't have a photo of this!) We start with our Hello Song. Each child is holding a name tag. We sing hello to each one and we practice spelling their name before they give me their name card. For some this might include the first letter, then gradually build up to their full name throughout the school year. Next, we do our message board. Messages are on the easel in our greeting area. Most often we have 2 messages, and on Thursday, 4 messages. Our standard 2 are "jobs" and "outside." We review who has what job, and then whether or not we will go to the playground that day. Following messages, we move on to the song book. Each day there is a child's name on the cover of the song book. That child gets to pick the song for us to sing as a group. They LOVE the song book! (That's another blog post in itself!)

Earn/Gross Motor: Following greeting time we have earn time. It says gross motor because in the beginning of the year that's where we go for about 10 minutes instead of the students making a choice between 2 earn items. We do it this way just to make the correlation between the yellow star and special activity. After about 2-3 weeks we will start counting our happy sticks and making an earn choice. We'll be here for days if I elaborate on happy sticks. I have another post about it here, although that's also due for an update because a lot of things were adjusted/tweaked with those throughout the course of the year. Once everyone has made their choice we set a 3-5 minute timer. When the timer beeps, earn is over and we go back to our spot on the carpet. Earn choices are typically small sensory items that they can play with in their spot. If we have bubbles they might move around some, or some messy goop they'll transition to the table behind the carpet for that.

Centers/Clean Up: Following earn time we are ready for centers. Halfway through the year I added task box schedules for the students before centers. I will probably adjust our schedule for this next year. (This is also another blog post in itself!) The students who have task schedules are given a picture to transition them to do their work. Following their work they can earn centers. Students choose a play center to go to at this time. During centers I may call students to work with me one on one on IEP goals, work on PECS exchanges with students, and all students use the bathroom again. Following a 5 minute warning, the song helper will turn on the clean up song when it's time to put away our toys.

Earn/Gross Motor: Again, same as above. We count our sticks and get our earn.

Large Group Time: This can be a variety of activities. It almost always starts with a story read aloud that's engaging. Students either have story boards to follow along with or a manipulative to hold on to and/or sequence along with our story. We may also sing a thematic song during this time too. While we are doing this one adult goes to get our lunches from the cafeteria. If we finish our large group plans before lunch arrives, then we turn on the smartboard for activities while we wait.

Lunch: Once lunch is set up at the table students will transition there. We follow the same routine as breakfast. After they eat they use the bathroom and then play with table time toys again. Once everyone has finished lunch they should all be at table time. We will clean up table time to transition to outside time. Because an adult gets the lunches for the students, we make our choices using this lunch book. This is excellent for your non-verbal students, but I use this for all of mine.

Outside: Weather permitting we go outside to the playground. We try to clean up our table time toys at 11:30am to line up for the playground. If we're running behind, we just extend our time once we get out there. We stay out for about 20-30 minutes. When we transition back inside we get right on our cots for quiet time. Typically a teacher has set up cots while students are eating lunch, or stays behind to set them up while we go outside.

Quiet Time: Some of you may be shocked that we're doing quiet time and wondering how in the world we do it. Don't give me any gold stars yet because I have a trick. It's called the Smartboard. We play preferred tv shows via DVDs on the smartboard during quiet time. The students don't sleep anyway and this is so much more calm and manageable than when I tried "quiet time baskets" with quiet activities. We have to have a quiet time to allow all the staff in the room to get their lunches. This is what makes it the most manageable. Quiet time will last for 45 minutes. Before the students get up a staff sets up for snack.

Snack: We turn the lights on to signal it's time to get up. Students put their pillows and blankets under their cot sheets and go to the snack table. A teacher puts away the cots. The snack helper passes out placemats and we proceed with snack the same as our other meals. However, now, when they finish snack they may go to any of the play centers. They do not have to play with table time toys. This is great since some students either do not want snack or finish snack early.

Centers/Clean-Up: This is the same as above. In the afternoon centers will run for about 1 hour. Again, I can pull students to do one on one activities with me and some students will complete a second task schedule for the day. We follow the same procedure for clean up.

Earn/Gross Motor: Again, same as above. We count our sticks and get our earn.

Dismissal: After clean up from our final earn for the day it's time to pack up. Students are sent to the cubbies to follow their pack up routines (in visual form for most) and then we sit down in our cubby. Our busses come the pre-k wing door and we can see the busses as they pull up from our classroom. As a bus pulls up I call those students to line up and walk to their bus. We do this 1 bus at a time. On nice days we will go outside and play on a small playground until our bus is here.

SHEW we made it to the end of the day! Are you exhausted yet? Teaching full day pre-k is LONG. I have done it for 2 years now and will start my 3rd year with all day in September. I LOVE it. I do have some students who will be with me for a half day though. They leave after AM centers. We will sing a goodbye song to that student(s) after we have cleaned up and a teacher will take that student to their bus and the other adult continues with the routine with the others.

I mentioned 2 things in here that I could elaborate more on in other blog posts. If you want to know more about ANYTHING, just comment below! I will definitely be doing posts at some point this summer on our song book and an update on happy sticks---that is so overdue! I hope you got something helpful out of this!

**Update: I have created {editable} schedule cards just for you! You can use these in a pocket chart like mine, or display them however you choose! Head to my TpT store to check them out!