Thursday, September 03, 2015

Teacher Week: Sanity Savers

It's Thursday already?!
When it comes to my classroom (and life in general!), I am often an overly-organized person. So having certain systems in place is key to my sanity! Here are three that I can't live without:

1. Washroom Cones
First of all, yes, there are only two cones. One boy cone and one girl cone (this works best for my classroom as, otherwise, there will be monkey business in the bathrooms!).
If a student has to use the washroom at any point during the school day (aside from snack, lunch, and recesses), they take the appropriate cone--male if the student is a boy, and female if the student is a girl--and place it at their spot on their table. This way, whether I am teaching a lesson, working with a small group, etc., I and the other students are never interrupted. Using the bright orange cone helps me to see who is in the room and who is out in a single glance. 

How they're made: All I did was buy two small pylons from Walmart (I found them in the sports section around soccer equipment). Then, I just printed a male and female washroom symbol off the computer and mod-podged the images to the cones. That's it! 

Yes, some stinkers will use the cones at the beginning of the year just because it's such great fun, but I find it only takes a few days for the novelty to wear off and they will use them only when necessary :P

2. Anchor Chart Solution
I like to "collect" specific anchor charts we make throughout the year and display them as a class big book in our reading centre for my students to read and refer to whenever they want. But wayyyyy back when I just COULD NOT figure out how to secure several anchor charts at one time AND allow students to easily flip through them without the use of a power drill! 
In the above pic I was using push pins to secure the anchor charts along the top. NOT good to have push pins constantly flinging out around your first grade classroom!
But then I remembered my love of  Command hooks
So off to Walmart I went and constructed this:
It's not exactly attractive but it works and I LOVE it!

How it's made: I stuck two Command hooks on the metal frame of my bulletin board and hung a $3.00 rod between the two:
Then I put my charts on binder rings and slid them on the rod. 
(I now also "fortify" my anchor charts around the holes by putting a piece of tape or two just above the hole to prevent the binder clips from ripping the paper...if you look closely enough you can see the tape in the picture below)

3. Literacy Centre Rotation Board
Click the pic below to download an *editable* file (directions included)!
So I made this *life-saving* SmartBoard file to help us rotate through our centres:
To rotate through centres, my Teacher's Assistant (which is one of my classroom jobs) moves the black bar down to the next activity each time I ring the bell. I typically ring the bell every 10 minutes or so. This works out really well for me because during this time I am pulling groups for guided reading. This way, when my Assistant rotates the centre board for me, the kiddies automatically clean up and quietly move on to their next centre *without me having to draw my attention away from my reading group once.* Love it. (This is one of the routines that takes LOTS of practice at the beginning of the school year to get everything running smoothly).

So anyways, each picture corresponds with one of our 7 centres (from year to year I might have less centres depending on how many kiddies are in my class, since I like to keep centre groups at no more than 3-4 kids). To help my little darlings remember where each centre is located around our room, specifically at the beginning of the year, I have picture and word labels at each centre:
(Sorry about the horrible image quality, I need to stop taking pictures with my phone!!!)
So above you can see the little label stuck above my Word Work 2 centre (the number beside the label is for my Math Tubs)

Here's another example of the label at my Listening Centre (see the black arrow):

Because the kiddies are walking around the room for my Write the Room centre, this label is just on a basket on the back counter where kiddies can grab their clipboard, worksheet, and pencil:

If you would like to download ALL of my labels for FREE, just click the image below!

I feel like I have way more sanity savers to share but my brain is still on Summer vacation! So maybe I will be back one day with another post of my favourite tips and tricks...if I ever remember them ;)

Until then, head on back to Blog Hoppin' to read about some other brilliant Sanity Savers other teachers can't live without!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Teacher Week: Classroom Tour

Day three of Blog Hoppin's Teacher Week!
I am on maternity leave so although it's bittersweet that I do not have a classroom to prepare this year, I get to spend my weeks with this cutie: 

But if you're new to my blog, here's a throwback to my last first grade classroom reveal:

*apologies in advance: I am horrible at remembering my camera so all of the following pictures were taken with my phone at 7:00 this morning. So the lighting is strange and the pics are somewhat blurry!*
Above is the view from my classroom door.
This is my little "where we are" information board located on the outside of my door:

To the left of the door is our command centre. This is where the kiddies put their communication folders, drink/food tickets, and move their star over to sign in. There's also a classroom "lost & found" bin, tissues and hand sanitizer, and bins labelled for "notes" and "work" to go home:

(you can download my FREE magnetic sign-in labels HERE!)

To your right when you walk in the door is our corner prayer table (not pictured) and the "welcome" bulletin board, which is currently featuring our class jobs and birthdays. Beneath the bulletin board is my behaviour management system (currently pictured is our old ticket system but I have since switched to a much more effective program). I don't use a clip chart or ticket system anymore and have switched to a program called 1-2-3 Magic! and the Zones of Regulation.
(If you would like my FREE class jobs labels click HERE!)

Next to the welcome board is our word wall and the Word Work 2 centre:
(Download my FREE blank word wall labels HERE)

Separating Word Work 1 and Word Work 2 is my alphamagnet "Read It, Build It" activity. This filing cabinet was just a waste of space last year--I NEVER use it. So this year I had the great idea of turning the drawers to the wall, and using the remaining 3 sides as a magnetic activity board. MUCH better! :)

If you keep moving along this same wall, you will find our writing/reading focus wall. Right now it is just showing off (from left to right) our Visual Writing Rubric, Writing Rules Checklist, our in-progress classroom big book which will eventually be moved to our reading centre, and our current writing focus (recount writing). Below this whiteboard fis the Word Work 1 literacy centre.

Last but not least along this wall is our reading centre/classroom library. That big empty space on the bulletin board is being reserved for our class-made big books. Right now my library is seriously lacking some comfortable pillows/seating, but I have been too broke to buy/make pillows :( ...One day!
You may have noticed the folders on the back of the blue bookshelf above. Those are fast finisher activities. I have not introduced this routine to my kiddies yet but I can't wait! Here's a closer look:
(Although they are not editable, HERE are my fast finisher folder labels--as seen above plus MORE!!--if you would like them!)

The back wall of our classroom is where we display all of our fabulous work:
In the centre of the counter (as seen above) is our pencil station. Here's a closer look at that:
(Grab some FREE pencil labels HERE!)
And beneath on the shelves are all of my math manipulatives and math tubs:
(Download my FREE math tub labels HERE!)

Moving to the other side of the classroom, you will find my guided reading corner:

Beside that is our "math" whiteboard and "math words" bulletin board. Beneath that is our listening centre, which also houses the laptop and Elmo for my SmartBoard:

Here's a bigger view of this side of the room taken from the reading centre:
(The coloured construction paper above the boards is my alphabet, waiting to be customized by my firsties! Download my FREE chalkboard alphabet labels HERE)
To the left of the SmartBoard (as seen above) is our "Morning Meeting" area. 
Here's a closer look at that:

...and looking from the reading centre to the back of the classroom and out the door:
Behind my desk, at the back of the classroom, is our writing wall (currently featuring all of the students' writing from the beginning of our "Recount Writing" focus until now) and writing centre:
Behind the chart stand, pocket chart, and "Morning Meeting" area, is our supplies station and the storage system that houses all of my math tub activities for each month. Opposite this area is the sink: 
(Click HERE to visit the post where you can download my monthly chalkboard labels for FREE!)

Here is a view from my desk (such a beautiful sunny morning!):

And last but not least, each of my tables has a coloured pompom and a chalkboard group number:
(Chalkboard labels are from my Chalkboards and Banners Decor Pack)

And that about sums up my classroom reveal. I hope you enjoyed the tour!

I can't wait to take a tour of everyone else's classrooms!!

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Teacher Week: Make Ahead Meals

Day 2 of #teacherweek15 is all about 
Ah, meal planning. This is not my strong suit! So about a month ago I made, printed, and laminated a meal planner that hangs on the side of our fridge:
(FYI: "b.c.c." is our code for broccoli, carrots, and cauliflower...usually with onions and/or zucchini or another veg.)

I also made and printed out some ideas if I'm ever stuck on what to eat:
And if you're wondering what a "Mix-n-Match meal" is (listed under "Dinners"), I made up this little thing to inspire myself:

So ANYWAYS, we plan our meals for the week on Sunday, then do all of the grocery shopping and prep work (cutting up fruits & veggies to keep in containers, making my favourite healthy pancakes & freezing them, etc.) that day to save time during the week.

My all-time favourite go-to lunch and the recipe I'm sharing for Teacher Week is Texas Caviar. It's SO easy, makes a TON, is so ADDICTING, and lasts for up to THREE WEEKS in the fridge...although it has never lasted more than a week for us because both my husband and I will have it for lunch every day almost every other week! 
On weeks we don't have Texas Caviar, our main go-to lunches are egg salad or tuna sandwiches (I make the egg/tuna salad part on Sunday and it lasts all week), and Greek pasta salad.

Click to download the Texas Caviar recipe:
(My modifications: I cut the sugar in half, sometimes skip the corn just because, and I sometimes use EVOO or coconut oil instead of canola oil. I don't use the multigrain Scoops because the regular ones are actually healthier! And I also like to add in half a fresh avocado to my portion each day.)

Want to use my meal planner too?! Click the pic to download it for free :)

I hope you love that recipe as much as I do! Head back to grab some more delicious meal ideas :)

Monday, August 31, 2015

Teacher Week: 5 Fun Facts

It's Teacher Week again over at Blog Hoppin' and I'm excited to be a part of it! Today is...
Here we go!

1. I love love love home decor. If you follow me on Intagram, you know that we recently moved into a new house. I have been losing sleep over planning every single detail of each room, from paint colours to all of the accents that I cannot afford haha will be a long road but seeing the "before" and "after" pics will make it all worth it!
This is a sneak peak of part of our new house. It's funny because when we were first looking at houses, I would cringe at any brown house. I HATE brown. ...and we probably bought the brownest house you could possibly buy haha But, of course, I already have big plans for the exterior too. Pray for my husband. hahah

2. For as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with anything tropical or beach-related. I have no idea where that came from but one day I WILL live among palm trees, sand, and ocean!
In the past I have visited Jamaica 4 times, Dominican twice, Cuba twice, Grand Cayman, Haiti, Vegas, Florida twice, Mexico twice (this picture was taken on my most recent trip to Mexico...check out that storm! Amazing!!) and I can't remember where else :P
Jamaica, so far, is my absolute favourite. Hence why we were hitched last year in Negril <3

3. You might already know that I danced for 16 years and competed all over Ontario as well as Las Vegas and Florida. What you don't know is that when I was younger I danced and sang lip-synced in a video production that was sold in China to help children learn English! (Excuse the horrible picture quality, I just took pics of the photos in albums!)
(These were all taken on set in various locations in Toronto. I'm the blondie!)
(The last photo above was our pointe group for "Full of Grace." Can you find me?! This is back when I had naturally blonde hair...that's me in the top middle!)

4. One of my favourite things about teaching is actually the "behind-the-scenes" stuff. I probably shouldn't admit this but if there was a job where I could do all of the planning, prepping, decorating, and organizing for a teacher, I would be ALL OVER that!! Plus that way the teacher could focus all his/her energy on teaching. I think that's one of the reasons why I *love* making resources for other teachers. Anyone want to hire me to be your personal assistant?! ;)
This was taken before my first year of teaching the first grade, three years ago.

5. I have a tattoo on my foot that's written in Hawaiin. It says something like "little starfish" ...or "starfish little" ...or?? Let's be serious, who knows what it actually says. I got it in university as a reminder of the Starfish Story--it has always been a favourite tale and is also one of the reasons I became a teacher. And it's written in Hawaiian because, you know, I've never been to Hawaii but for some reason I am obsessed. I now HATE the font, and wish it was smaller, but I still don't regret it one bit :)
This was taken right after I had it done over five years ago now!

There are a few versions of this story that vary slightly. This is my fav:

I hope you enjoyed reading my 5 very random facts! 
Head back to meet some more amazing teacher bloggers :)
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