Thursday, June 27, 2013

Literacy & Math Bags: Pack One

   After spending the last two days at the water parks with my two boys it is time to recoup my poor burnt knees indoors. I spent the evening putting all of my materials and activities for my Literacy & Math bags together. I am so excited about how they turned out. My bags, from Oriental Trading Company, are the perfect size to hold everything. And I found these cute vinyl polka-dot reusable sandwich bags that are perfect to hold a pencil, crayons, scissors, and glue and then Velcro close at the $1 spot at Target last week. The best part is that you get 3/pack!!!
   I have completed 12 out of my planned 24 bags. Each one of my bags has a parent/supply letter, activity directions, 3 or more fiction and non-fiction books, literacy and math games, writing journal prompt, and additional manipulative and goodies! Here are my first 12 bags...
 The Zoo
   You can get my Literacy & Math bags in my TPT store by clicking on the picture below. Now its off to work on the second half of these little treasures!


Sunday, June 23, 2013

All About Ants

   As I was out in the garden and noticing all the little insects crawling around I realized that I should post some pictures from this past weeks summer school session. During our writing block we learned all about ants. We spent Monday reading non-fiction texts about insects and ants. We filled in graphic organizers and colored an ant life cycle. On Tuesday we read the non-fiction ant story from my unit and labeled an ants body parts. The kiddos then began filling out their informational writing graphic organizer with four facts that they wanted to share about ants.
   On Wednesday, we used our graphic organizers to begin writing a paragraph all together. I was very excited that the kiddos remembered their sentence structure, transition words, and punctuation! One kiddo even gave us the closing sentence, "Don't you think ants are fANTastic?"
   Thursday we group edited our whole group paragraph. I thought I was sneaky making errors for the kiddos to find and edit. Those kiddos are too smart because they found a couple other mistakes that I actually made and forgot about!
   Here are some of my kiddos getting ready to edit our own rough drafts before writing our final drafts.
   We used the writing template from my unit to write our final drafts on. My kiddos used their fingertips in black or red ink to make ants and then colored in a background. We used construction paper to make a picture of ourselves "peeking" over our writing. We spent Friday making the snacks ants on a log. My kiddos loved spreading peanut butter onto celery stalks and then sprinkling dried cranberries (red ants) and raisins (black ants) onto the peanut butter. Each kiddo kept coming back for second and thirds.
   Now I have a few weeks to work on my literacy and math bags and centers before I head back for our second summer school session. The kiddos who were in the math group this session will be with me in July and I will get to teach all about ants again! You can get my unit in my TPT store by clicking on the picture below.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Day of Organization

   I spent the afternoon, after our summer school session, organizing all my math materials. Not teaching math this past year has left a toll on my poor math bins. I am pretty sure there was a cob web or two on top of everything. I have everything placed in labeled bins or in book bins (my favorite ever IKEA purchase).
   This is a look inside of my closet. I use the two top shelves to house my math manipulative. I have labeled pictures on both sides for my own sanity.
   This is a smaller cabinet above my writing center. The top plastic bin holds the manipulative I need for my small groups during Daily 5 Math  Teacher Time. There they white IKEA boxes. Love them so much. Each one is labeled with the math games and centers that fall within that concept.
   So while I was organizing my math materials I figured I would post a picture of how I organize my literacy games. I keep them all on a shelf behind my guided reading table so I have easy access during our Walk to Read rotations. Again, I use the IKEA boxes and place all of my games and their answer sheets in gallon baggies. They have to be the ones from Dollar Tree, because I cannot deal with writing, logos, or colored zips. The ones from Dollar Tree are clear from top to bottom!!! So I will be exchanging out a couple bags to make everything match. (I know I am crazy, but these are the things that haunt me in my dreams!)
   Each IKEA box is labeled with a theme or skill and all the gallon baggies are placed inside. Like my classroom library, this took a little bit of time to organize, but it makes lesson planning and finding something specific so quick!
   I also organized my word work cabinet during my cleaning overhaul. I switch out my word work activities every two weeks as my kiddos I see for Daily 5 are classified as intensive so they only get to choose word work once a week.
   When I close the cabinet you can see my green bucket fillers. I am still awaiting my class roster to put little name tags on each one. The TV on top of the cabinet just takes up space. Does not work. BOO! So I try to hide it behind my Pinterest inspired melted crayon canvas. You cannot see it from this picture angle, but I have a shadow image of a girl walking with an opened umbrella under the melted crayon. It looks like she is walking through colored rain!
   Well tomorrow is our last day of the June summer school session. We will be celebrating our ant informational writing success with a yummy ant on a log snack! I promise to post  pictures and our activities as soon as I take pictures of our final drafts and crafts. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Summer Makeover

   I know some might think I am crazy, but I cannot express enough how much I LOVE teaching summer school! My two teammates and I have volunteered our time for this week and a week in July. It is the perfect scenario. Three hours of small groups with kiddos that are excited to learn in an environment that is not as crazy and loud as the school year. We have three literacy rotations and then split our kiddos into a math or writing group. My writing kiddos have been writing an informational piece based on what they have learned about ants. We are finishing up our final drafts tomorrow so pictures and our activities to come soon!

   The other great thing about summer school is I have my afternoons to work in my room. And good thing we decided to have summer school because they decided NOT to paint my classroom. All of my bulletin boards, anchor charts, and decorations had to come down the last day of school. So I have spent the last three afternoons putting everything back up with a makeover. It's out with the camping theme and in with chevron and polka dots! Here is a look at my library corner to the left of my Promethean board before...
Wow! My walls actually look nice in this picture. Not so much in person. There are so many holes and peeling paint, but nothing a little decorating cannot fix!

Here is my classroom library with my Literacy Focus wall and in the corner you can see my Science Focus wall. I just realized...what is that pink box on top of the floor cabinets??? I will have to take a look tomorrow.
Here is my Science Focus wall that I am planning on putting our projects and vocabulary.
I know this picture is not the greatest, but the yellow sign at the top says "Our Focus" and then I have my Literacy letter circles hung with twine. The two green pocket charts will house our vocabulary and F.A.S.T. spelling words. The green sentence strip in the middle says "Anchor Charts". This is where we will hang all of our charts we make together.
The books in my classroom library are all in themed yellow bins on the outside shelves and black bins on the inside shelves against the wall. I worked on my library organization for weeks my first year teaching and it has paid off greatly three years later.
Each of my books has my name in the top left corner, the AR level (if applicable) in the bottom left corner, and a matching sticker to the book bin it belongs in the top right corner. I keep an index box with all of my library bin theme stickers in for easy access when I bring in new books.
Here is a look at the right side of my Promethean board. This is the wall that is so depressingly sad looking.
Here is my made over Math Focus wall. Just like my Science and Literacy wall the pink header says, "Our Focus" with my Math pennant and number circles on twine from 1 to 30. The pink sentence strip in the middle also says, "Anchor Charts". I am planning on using the sides to hang up student work or crafts. I have to confess that one of my teammates came up with the "Our Focus" sign in her room and I loved it so much that I asked her if I could steal borrow her idea!
Yeah! My new cubbies that I found a couple weeks back fits perfect against my desk to hide all of my computer and Promethean board wires and cords. I made a small bulletin board next to my metal shelf to cover all the holes. But, its a great place to hang pictures of my boys! It will house my homework and finished work baskets, bathroom sign-out (the clipboard on the side) and bathroom passes (these are the hand sanitizer bottles) on top.
This is my project for tomorrow afternoon. I call this the back of my classroom even though it is technically the front when you walk through my door. The color shelves right now are housing some of my word work and listening center. My mind is racing with ideas!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Take Home Literacy & Math Bags

   I have been wanting to create take home literacy and math bags for two years and decided this past weekend that I would start to create this massive project. I have so many multiple copies of books in my classroom that I want to put to use. I began by creating 25 themes that any fiction and non-fiction book could fit into. My plan is to have 25 themed canvas bags that will hold at least three fiction and/or non-fiction books, a writing journal, and various themed literacy, math, and science activities that my kiddos can take home. They will each also have a parent letter, list of materials, and directions for all activities. I will make labels for each bag and have a check-in and check-out system for the bags too. I am not going to expect this as homework, but more of an extended way for my kiddos to build their background knowledge and practice literacy and math skills with loved ones! I am planning on sending home a parent letter and permission slip at the beginning of the school year and then begin sending home the packs at the beginning of September. Because each bag will have various activities I want my kiddos to have plenty of time to explore each pack so they will go home on Thursday's and come back on Tuesdays. My plan is to finish all 25 take home packs this week so I can begin printing and laminating all of them next week after my summer school session. It will take a little bit of work to put all of the bags together, but I truly feel that it will make such a HUGE difference for my kiddos in and outside of the classroom! Here is a little sneak peak at two of my bags...

I will post pictures of the actual bags when I begin putting them altogether.