20 January 2018

More Fun Valentines for Students!

Happy Saturday, friends! I am completely procrastinating on some other work I need to finish up, but it seemed like a great time to wrap up Em's valentines for her class. She picked out a box of Descendants valentines, but I always like to make a fun, small valentine for her to give her friends, too.

Emoji: This is the valentine I made last year, and Em just loved it! In fact, when she saw me pull it up, she asked for this to be her valentine again. Hey...what can a busy mom say? Of course! We found the glasses at Target in a package of 16 for $3. I wasn't too crazy about the colors of the sunglasses, but Em didn't mind. I attached the sunglasses using a little glue dot in the center. You can download a free copy of the template HERE. Since it's in Powerpoint, you can add a text box to personalize it, too!

Heart: This was the version I made 2 years ago, and it's still pretty cute, in my opinion! I printed out a few for Em to give to her neighborhood friends. You can down a free copy of this template HERE. Like the emoji one, you can add a text box in Powerpoint to personalize it. Love it!

Pizza: You can check a post back by clicking HERE to see these adorable pizza valentines I will be reusing this year, since I was lucky enough to fund the erasers again this year!

Okay, okay...I need to do the REAL work now, so I hope you all have a great weekend!

29 December 2017

Easy Valentine's Gift for Students

I know, I know...it's still December. But, in my defense, I have to get things done when I get time, and the time is now. I go back to school on January 2nd, and my master's program picks back up on January 4th, so there is no time like now get ahead wherever I can.

And that means...on to Valentine's Day!

I made these fun valentines for my class year, and I was able to find the exact same pizza slice erasers in the Target Dollar Spot a few weeks ago. So...why redo what was already super cute??? I will probably attach the erasers using glue dots like I did last year.

You can grab a copy of the tag HERE. It is an editable Powerpoint, so you can add a text box for your name if you like.

Here's to a new year of getting things done and not procrastinating!

19 December 2017

December Wrap Up!

As I type this, I am curled up on my couch watching a Hallmark Channel Christmas movie called My Christmas Love with my Christmas tree lit up and the fireplace going. Life is good for a teacher on Winter Break! I am also lucky enough to have a break from my graduate classes at the same time, so I finally have a full fledged break for the first time since March. So, I thought I would pop in and share some fun ideas from December.

Christmas Measurement Trees: This was a fun idea I modified for the classroom. The kids were each given a 12"x9" sheet of green construction paper. I guided them through most of the activity, showing them how to measure and draw the straight lines. I did a lot of ruler holding because the kids couldn't understand why their rulers kept moving when they were drawing lines! It was kind of funny. Anyways, once they had all their lines traced, they cut them out. I modeled how to fold the ends and glue from the bottom up. All of the kids did fine, and they all had a good time!

 The concentration on this one's face shows how focused they were on the trees.

They were all so proud of their different trees, and I loved how focused they were during the entire activity, especially since it was the hour before their party!

Rudolph Ornaments: Every year my class makes these ornaments. They are super easy and have changed slightly from year to year depending on the supplies I find. Usually we use brown glass bulbs, but I forgot that I bought clear plastic bulbs on clearance last year after Christmas. I had self-stick wiggly eyes and pipe cleaners, and I found the stick on gems at the Dollar Tree. I shredded up some brown construction paper, and then kids stuffed it in the ornaments. It was perfect for their little fingers! They wrote their names on the back and were done. Super easy!

Easy Team Gifts: I wanted to show my appreciation for everyone who has a role in my students' lives at school, but that can add up really fast! So, I bought these hand sanitizers from Bath and Body Works when they were 6 for $5, and made this fun tag to attach them to using Elmer's Glue Dots. Easy, inexpensive, and super cute!

And just like that, it's time for another Hallmark movie! I hope you all have a very merry Christmas!

01 October 2017

Easy Student Halloween Gift!

Yes. I was one of those people stalking the Dollar Spot in August waiting for the fun Halloween stuff to come out.

I admit it.

But...it paid off because I found these fun and cheap sticky skeletons that my students are going to love!

I actually found them in the Halloween section just after they started putting stuff out. They were 8 for $1, so 4 packs would cover my class and leave a few extras for my daughter to play with. You cannot beat that!

Then, I made this fun tag to go along with the little sticky skeletons. Since the skeletons are sticky, they stuck to the paper with no problem. I did assemble about 4 of them before I decided it would be in my best interest to wait and stick them at school, lest the become a jumbled, sticky mess in my bag.

The stick font is FriNally by Amy Groesbeck and the script is Chunky Monkey by A Primary Kind of Life. The bones font is called Cartoon Bones, and I downloaded it from DaFont for free.

You can download a freebie copy of this fun gift for your students HERE!

Updated on October 28th to include...this fun spider gift! These are adorable spider erasers from Target. The fonts are both by A Perfect Blend Teaching. The thin font is PB Bean There Dunn That, and the webbed font is PB Morning Witch Brew.

The erasers were from the Halloween section at Target. They were in a package of 8 for only $1!

You can download a free copy of this tag HERE.

Happy Halloween!

31 July 2017

Monday Made It!

Happy Monday, friends! The clock is ticking until school starts back up, and for me...it's ticking pretty fast! We officially reported back to school last Thursday, and it has been crazy busy.

It might seem like we go back to school early, but we have a great schedule. We have a two-week fall break in mid-October, a full week for Thanksgiving, two-plus weeks at Christmas, and a two-week spring break, and not to mention the snow days in between. Plus, we're still out by Memorial Day, so...I won't be complaining any time soon.

But...that early start means that there won't be many more Monday Made Its from me, but I managed to squeeze out a few fun things this week, so let's check them out! You can join in the link-up by heading over to Fourth Grade Frolics.

Coat Hook Labels and Name Tags: Usually I just post the students' names above their coat hook each year. I tried a number system, but then I could never remember which number was who, so I went back to names. Plus I think the kids like seeing their names up there! This year, I decided to be extra crafty and add pictures of each student with their name. It was pretty simple since I could see all the students' pictures in Infinite Campus, our attendance and grading system, and I was able to use these Editable Book Bin Labels by Learning in Wonderland to choose from hundreds of Melonheadz clipart kid images. I was able to find a different image for each kiddo, I added their names, and...voila! Cuteness overload!

And...I liked them so much that I decided to make a separate set to wear on the first day of school as a name tag. I just punched holes in the top and looped a pincher clip through for the kids to clip to their shirts. I like the clips, as opposed to lanyards, because they will be easier to see. I also thought they would be great to keep around in the event of a guest teacher or any other special visitors.

Desk Nameplates: I used to make fancy nameplates to put on each desk. But they always PICKED at them or PEELED the corners, and it made me crazy! Plus, when any standardized testing came along from our district, we had to remove them-lest they actually use that number line or any other useful tool on it when you actually want them to. So, last year I decided I would just write their names on their desks with a thick Sharpie. It worked, but when I wanted a kid to switch seats, it would be days before I would remember to scrub the name off and change it. So....

I came up with this brilliant idea for this upcoming school year. I made the nameplates using an editable template from the Happy Rainbow Collection by School Girl Style and laminated them. However, instead of sticking them on top of the desks, I put them on the front of the desks. Now-this probably won't work for everyone depending on your desk arrangement, but it is better for me because all of my desks actually face me. (If you are familiar with Teach Like a Champion, then this desk setup might ring a bell!) Now I can see everyone's names and they can't mess with them. Win, win! Plus it will be nice for when we have surprise guests, substitute teachers, or new students.

Oh! I also attached them with velcro from the Dollar Tree so they can be easily interchanged. I love it!

Miniature Dice Holders: So, this is a different version of last week's pill box turned dice holder. I ended up finding this pill box at the Dollar Tree, and I especially loved how it was only 3 compartments. (Not to mention the handy dandy carrying case!) I used nail polish remover to get the letters off, and then bribed my hubby to donate more of his miniature gaming dice to the cause that is my classroom. (It's one of the few perks of being a war-gaming wife.)

Here are some of my plans for them:

Place Value Practice: shake, write the number, and identify the value of a number in a specific spot. The kids could even turn the boxes to make the greatest number possible. For example, if you look at the yellow box, is 653 greater or would 356 be greater?

Addition Practice: This would be a great tool for addition with 3 addends. 6 + 5 + 3 = 14 Or you could combine boxes to make multi-digit addends. So, if I used the boxes below, it could be 653 + 552, or it could be 32 + 55 + 65. I can also envision easy differentiation for these activities, too.

The possibilities are endless!

Student Workbook Drawer Labels: Even though my students each have a desk, they do not actually use the inside of it. The desks actually lift open, so you can imagine how everything slides right off the desk anytime I ask them to get something out. And it happens every.single.time they open their desks every.single.day. It drove me nuts. You would think they would learn. But...nope.

So, enter these Rubbermaid drawers. The kids store all of their necessary materials-workbooks, notebooks, manipulatives-in each drawer. Four students share each set of drawers. Since everything stays in one place, there is none of the "I can't find my..." anymore.

So, long story short, I made these fun labels for each drawer using a "Hello My Name Is" free template from I Teach What's Your Superpower?. The kids really didn't have any trouble putting everything where it went, but I like the look of these labels anyways!

Well, that's it for this week! But here is a sneak peak at something I've been working on that I just recently finished up and posted on my TpT store. If you own my Light Box Bundle, head over and download the newest update that includes four adorable unicorn slides. You can see them all HERE.

Have a fantastic week!

24 July 2017

A Unifix Cube Behavior Management Plan

That's right, y'all. All it took was an old box of Unifix cubes destined for Goodwill to save my classroom.

It was a couple of weeks before Spring Break, and I was desperate to find something that would get us to that much needed two-week break without losing it.

It's not that things were out of control. But-there was just enough shenanigan-making to drive me nuts. It wasn't everyone, but it was enough that it was disrupting the entire classroom. I really wanted to acknowledge the kids who were consistently on-task and following our rules, but I needed it to be quick and discreet.

And that was when I saw it-an old box of Unifix cubes in the Goodwill donation pile on my dining room table, and the idea hit me like a ton of, well...Unifix cubes.

It went like this:

Each kiddo starts the day with three cubes. It's basically like three chances. They can lose them for a variety of reasons, and they can earn extra ones for a variety of reasons. At the end of every day, we counted up our cubes, and I wrote the totals in the grade book. After a certain amount of time, I would select a (not so random) number, and anyone who had accumulated that many cubes earned an incentive.

Losing Cubes

The kids can lose cubes for any reason. To be honest, I use it mostly as a behavior deterrent in that I notice the behavior, I move closer to the student (proximity), and I make eye contact, giving the student a chance to knock it off ALL WHILE I'M STILL TEACHING. If the behavior continues, I simply remove a cube from their stick and keep walking. No discussion, no stopping the lesson...nothing. The fact that they lost a cube tells them they were doing something that was not okay.

Now-do discussions happen later? Sometimes, if I notice the student getting all grumpy or sad. But it's a quick conversation that reminds them of the chance I gave them and why I took a cube. I also remind them of the multiple opportunities they have to earn more. But for the most part, the student changes their behavior, and it's done.

What if they talk back or argue when I take a cube from their desk? Well, my kids knew I would swipe another one, so it was best not to talk back or question me while I am teaching. However, if they felt they were treated unfairly, I did hear them out at an appropriate time. Usually it didn't help their cause, but sometimes it did. I also wanted them to know that I was willing to listen to them.

What if they ran out of cubes? This happened on occasion. In our school, students walk laps at recess as a consequence for behavior. They call them "thinking laps." If they went into the hole on their cubes, it was a lap for each time I had to correct behavior. Done.

What about serious behavior issues? Obviously the cubes didn't apply for serious behavior problems. Hitting, swearing, throwing things...those are offenses that are referred straight to the office. The kids knew that any behavior that earned them an office referral would also cause them to forfeit all their cubes for that day.

Earning Cubes

Students can earn cubes for ALL SORTS OF THINGS. Being kind, helping a friend, picking up trash they see in the hallway, working quietly, bringing back a school form...the list goes on and on. They also earn cubes for answering questions...even if they're wrong. It's about effort and focus and trying and participating. My participation level for group discussions go through the roof when I have a handful of cubes with me.

The thing to remember is that sometimes I do give cubes, and other times I don't. The kids know not to ask for them. I just trained them that way when we started the whole thing.

Earning an Incentive

This is the easy and CHEAP part. Usually the incentives revolved around something that didn't cost me a penny and required no work from me. Bring a stuffed animal to school, no shoes for the day, sit by a friend, pillow day, pajama day, crazy hair...you get the idea. When I felt super motivated, we would have doughnuts or cookies and milk or something like that.

But here was the important part-I was very purposeful in the "number" of cubes the kids had to have in order to earn the incentive. Sometimes, one of my toughest kids would only have 5 cubes total after a few days. Well, guess what the lucky number was...5! I didn't do that all the time, but I did want to get as many kids involved in the incentives as possible, and I wanted to reward effort when I saw it. Other times, the number would be 25. It really just varied as I saw fit.

And that's what is so great about this! You make it fit your needs.

I'm serious, y'all. This system worked so well that I am starting it at the beginning of this upcoming school year, and I have high hopes for it. I don't have to worry about stickers, or punch cards, or clip charts. It's such a weight off my shoulders to know that these little cubes can do so much to improve the classroom environment and requires little work from me.

Please let me know if you have any additional questions about how I made this system work for me. As with all behavior management plans, what works for one classroom might not work for another. And...just like what works for one class one year might not work with the next class the following year. But...it's definitely worth a try!

10 July 2017

Monday Made It!

Happy Monday, friends! I have been working pretty much nonstop on my graduate classes, but I managed to squeeze in some downtime and do some fun stuff! So, I'm linking back up with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics for another week of Monday Made It! Head over to her blog now and see some of the other fabulous "made-its" by other amazing teachers.

(Future) Coin Dividers: Okay, so this wasn't as much a Monday Made It as it was a Monday Did It sort of project. I wanted to use these pill boxes in the classroom to hold coins or for place value practice, but those days of the week on the lids stressed me out. I could've covered them, but I knew my quickest solution would be to figure out a way to just remove them. So, I used nail polish remover and cotton balls, and VOILA! They wiped right off! I can't wait to figure out how I will use them first. I'm think mini-dice in each compartment to practice place value, since it's the first unit we teach. But...we'll see!

Summer Postcards: I love sending happy mail to my students over our long breaks. We are blessed to have an amazing school schedule that includes a 2-week fall break, all of Thanksgiving week, 2-week winter break, and a 2-week spring break. We do begin August 2nd, but I'll take an early start to get all those refreshing breaks! Anyways, I like to send my students something through the mail during each break. Postcards are my favorite because I can use the cheaper postage. (#poorteacher) I will be sending these out on Monday, and they will be the last ones for this year's kiddos! 

You can download a free editable version of the summer postcards HERE. Just make sure when you cut them that you stay under the 4"x6" requirement for postcard postage. I posted a couple of the other postcards I've sent below...

This was from this past Thanksgiving. I downloaded the sweet little note template from Polka Dots Please and adjusted the size to make it a postcard.

This was from this past spring break. The little bugs are from Creative Clips (I think!). 

School Bag: My daughter picked out this fun canvas bus tote at the Dollar Spot for $3. I thought it would be fun to add her name on to it, and it turned out even better than I imagined! I used some scrap glitter HTV that I had on hand, and I used my t-shirt heat press to apply it. Now she is all ready for her (second) first day of PreK! (She missed the kindergarten age cut-off by 8 days, so it's another year of PreK for her!) The font I used is by Amy Groesbeck. 

Well, I felt like I did more, but I guess I didn't! Check back next week because I just got access to my class list, so I will start making personalized labels for the kids' cubbies and coat hooks. I'm also still waiting to find out the status of hanging things in our newly painted hallways, so I can figure out a fun hallway bulletin board. Until then, have a great week!