Category Archives: Classroom Organization

Classroom Organization. Everything from Teacher Organization, Classroom Design, labels, flexible seating, and organizing student materials. Here is where we find help in the “daily” activities of the classroom. Tips and Tricks help the classroom run efficiently and effectively.

How to Make CHUNKY CRAYONS for your classroom.

Have YOU ever made

CHUNKY CRAYONS?

ALL kids LOVE to draw.
They LOVE big, chunky crayons!
 
MAKE THEM!
 

Use the broken crayons from your classroom…

AND

BEG OTHER TEACHERS FOR THEIRS!

 
Teachers LOVE to get rid of broken crayons.
 
Then …start searching stores ( including thrift stores, Goodwill, etc )
for silicone shaped candy molds!
 
If not… my BFF…AMAZON PRIME!
You are NOT making food…
They can be “recycled” …wink , wink!

 

I found some snowmen, trees, and gingerbreadmen 
at Goodwill for $1.00 !!
 
Now what?
 
Have the kids…
YES THE KIDS
…take off ALL the paper wrappers!
 
DON’T  TELL  THEM  WHY!  🙂

 

 

 

Paper wrappers …I did them MYSELF!
 
Should have had kids do them…
they would have ENJOYED IT! 🙂

 

Gingerbreadman

 

Christmas Trees

 

Lots DONE… FAST…EASY
If you don’t have a LOT (it takes a LOT) of broken crayons,
ask for donations from other teachers.
 
Bring the unwrapped, broken crayons home.
 
Break up the crayons into LITTLE  chucks!
 
Put them into the molds…press them down a little.
 
Place molds onto a cookie sheet.
 
 Bake 60 minutes (1 hour) at 200 degrees.
 
Take them out & let them cool.
If rushed…PUT THEM IN THE FREEZER!
 
(Don’t POP them out…until they are SOLID.)
 
POP them out…
 
and   VOILA!
 
 
 
I also made them in the SUMMER.
 
Check out this blog post.
 
More fun making CHUNKY  CRAYONS!
 
Have fun! 
 
Let me know if YOURS work or not.

DESK Plates for student names…No Paper Needed!

This week’s theme…

Student desk plates.

Name tags. Desk Plates. Whatever YOU call them.

Do you have name plates on your student’s desks?

Do they
WRITE ON THEM?
 RIP THEM?
 PLAY WITH THEM..ALL THE TIME?
I have a SOLUTION!

PAINT PENS!

WHAT?
PAINT their desks?  NO WAY!
No …Not Paint their desks!
I use SHARPIE PAINT PENS…
(OIL BASED)

To write their names ON THE DESK!

Check out the CUTE Colors!

But…HOW DO I GET Desk Plate   OFF???

Shhh….don’t tell

BLACK EXPO MARKER & a Good eraser

will take off ALL PERMANENT Marker

and

Oil-based  Paint pens!

WHO KNEW?

Now…No papers on their desks.

No TAPE!

Nice…smooth…clean…

I LOVE IT!

Try it!

You can change it whenever you want!

 Add cuties for the changing seasons!

SO FUN!

And so easy the add or change

when a new student enters your classroom community!

Check out MORE  about

classroom organization.

YOU want to…P.P.Paint ????

Just hearing the 

“P A I N T”

word.

Sends shivers down my back!

I have nightmares of 

spilled water, ruined paintings,

our janitor YELLING ,

“NO!  STOP! NOT ON THE NEW CARPET!”

 Ok…NOT yelling…but  you know…”NO!”

So, I guess

24 …   6-year-olds

sitting at desks, 

painting beautiful pictures

was NOT was I thinking about!

AND

I SHOULD HAVE BEEN!

I admit…it was ALL about ME!

WHAT WILL  I  HAVE  TO “Deal With”?

And you know what?

NOTHING.

Every time we paint

(and I try to do it once a month)

THEY AMAZE  ME!

Clean, quiet, detailed, HAPPY!

They worked for about 45 minutes…

TOTALLY  ENGAGED!

(I wish some of MY lessons were SO ENGAGING!)

I start with my BFF…

PINTEREST!

I have some GREAT pins on my boards.

Check them out!

This months “painting inspiration”came from

Elyse 

@

PROUD to BE PRIMARY

And now we are…
ALL ready for JANUARY!

Here’s a few of ours!

They are sooooo cute!

AND

NO   SPILLS!

I think they are getting the HANG OF IT!

Duh…   you mean with

PRACTICE

we get BETTER!?

I wonder what wonderful teacher gave them that ADVICE???

Anyways…

we will PAINT!

And we will PAINT..a  LOT!

Next month… 

I’m thinking SNOW, and Penguins, and Nature Scenes.

Maybe some “still life”…    Hmmmm.

MONET!     DEGAS! 

Watch out WORLD OF ART…

HERE  WE  COME!

Check out pinterest for more ideas!

First Grade Writing – NONFICTION

First Grade Writing

So…we have taken the step  jump  LEAP into writing

NON-FICTION.

As a Title 1 teacher

with half of my class CELDT Levels 1&2 ( low English),

I am ALWAYS trying to give my kids more vocabulary, visual clues, and

FRONTLOAD information

…before we WRITE!

So this week…was

REINDEER  WEEK!

I was going for REAL REINDEER.

We read books, watched VIDEOS, did real research ( yes, ONLINE!)

We even attempted to watch the

REINDEER.CAM

Can’t show kiddos in my district…

TOO MUCH SANTA!

I know…don’t go there!

So …I kept it real!

ONLY REAL REINDEER!

I was going for NON-FICTION!

They did great!

As an adult, I felt they had mastered

 a LOT

of information!

What do reindeer LOOK like?

Where do they LIVE?

What do they EAT?

( One of our movies mentioned MUSHROOMS…

BOY did they pick up on that!)

And then…

what makes them different

 (special )

from

other ANIMALS?

Here are some of our writings…

(Don’t judge….we have NOT edited for CONVENTIONS..

Just  CONTENT!!  🙂

Sorry pics are turned…

Can’t get them to TURN! UGH!

No where…no how…

did I   MENTION

SANTA  or   RUDOLPH!

99%  of my students wrote

that the important thing about REINDEER is…

THEY PULL SANTA’S  SLEIGH

AND

THE LEADER IS…RUDOLPH!

And THAT is NON FICTION!

HAHAHAHA

But that is their

 PRIOR  KNOWLEDGE!

SO CUTE!

They brought it into their writing!

Let their VOICES be heard!

And so…

ADULTS  BE  AWARE!

The little ones WILL be HEARD!

I LOVE TEACHING FIRST GRADE!

They make me GIGGLE!

If you need some writing help…

WRITE  ON!

ENJOY!

Write On! Journal Pages with Support!

 

Toby Keith and his Red Solo Cup...what does that have to do with PAINTING?

Toby Keith, Red Solo Cups, and Watercolors

Red Solo Cups…
Oh, How I LOVE my RED SOLO CUPS!

Um…I’m talking about in my classroom LADIES & GENTS!
What DID YOU THINK…Hmmmm??? 🙂
My kiddos had a problem with markers.
No lids, mixing up colors, etc…
I needed a 12 step intervention. 

  QUICK!

Enter…RED SOLO CUPS! 
Toby Keith and Red solo Cups?
What does that have to do with markers & painting
in our first grade classroom?
Check it out!

( I hear the Toby Keith song in my head!)

What does that have to do with Markers?

Toby Keith and his Red Solo Cup…what does that have to do with Markers?

But… I need those Cups!

 

Here is our before… in a tub . 
ALL mixed up. YUCK!

 Enter my HERO!
RED SOLO CUP!
 RED SOLO CUP!
My firsties have become OCD about it!
ALL lids on! check
Colors separated! check
Markers standing tall! check
 
( RED SOLO CUP! RED SOLO CUP!
…sorry song stuck in my head!)
Thought I’d add some FIRSTIE LOVE TOO…
 
 
We never paint!
 Well, we haven’t until now.
So here is our gift to you!
 
EYE CANDY FOR GRADE 1 TEACHERS!
 
(Doesn’t take much to make us happy!) 
Enjoy!
The seven Dwarfs from Walt Disney.

Do You Have a PLAN for Packing up YOUR Classroom?

It’s THAT time.

Time to pack up my classroom!

Are YOU packing up YOUR classroom?

via GIPHY

WAHOO!  Summer vacation. The Beach. Family BBQ’s. R&R.

BUT, WAIT!  NOT YET!  First I need to pack up my classroom so I can find the things I need when we come back. Back to School is crazy enough without me NOT being able to find my MOST needed items! ( Where is MY stapler???)

Are YOU packing up your classroom?

download

What am I packing?

What is on my classroom packing list?

Here is my list:

Number one is first.

Number One

It’s ALL about ME!  What will I need the first week?

TE's and Lesson plan book

Teacher Editions and Lesson Plan Book

My Teacher Editions  & Lesson Plan Book. I need them to plan for the first weeks.

Mostly Routines and Daily schedules. (Work on THIS before VACATION!)

Multi Colored Sticky Notes

Sticky Notes

Sticky notes inside to remind my “aging” brain…what I INTEND to do!

What MATERIALS will I need to accomplish this? What lesson to focus on those first weeks? What went well? What didn’t?

USE THOSE STICKY NOTES INSIDE YOUR TE!

You will NOT remember months from now… what you are thinking about TODAY!

Use the next few weeks to make your NOTES!

How to Prepare for a Successful Reading Workshop in First Grade

Teacher's Desk

Teacher’s Desk

Don’t forget, in your TEACHER DESK…

hide a few water bottles, mints, chocolate, and Tylenol, sanitizer, throat lozenges,

for the first week back…FOR YOU!

Never know how that FIRST WEEK will go!

BE Prepared!

* “SUGGESTED” teacher MUST HAVES for the first weeks:

Number 2 is second

Number 2

Student materials ( packets, papers, journals, etc ).

Before packing up your classroom,  RUN THEM NOW!

( Nothing feels better than pulling out MUCH NEEDED things…ALREADY DONE!)

Stacks of copied papers, sorted and ready to go!

Papers copied, sorted, and filed!

Whew! SO glad I prepped these BEFORE school was out!!

Get some puzzles, games, blocks, etc. out.

It’s National PUZZLE Day! Do YOU play GAMES??

Classroom card games

classroom card games

THEY WILL NOT BE INDEPENDENT!

Have a few things ready so they can have “downtime”

while YOU are doing ONE-TO-ONE assessing!

You know you will HAVE TO…prepare for IT!

How do YOU FIT IT ALL IN? Balanced Literacy

Number three is third.

Number three is third.

As you are packing up your classroom with those MANY, MANY BOXES (for centers, games, things you need to go through) … DO THOSE LATER!

I know you NEED these,  BUT

You will “SURVIVE” looking at them LATER!

NO STRESS!

( YEAH, right!)

Read to SELF..LET THEM READ!

Prepare today… after a RELAXING Summer… the thought of coming back

and redoing everything in a day or two is

EXCRUTIATING!

Screaming child

Screaming Child

Breathe…relax…make your lists…stick to them…and PREP AWAY!

The payoff is HUGE!

Now…where did I pack that STAPLER?

black stapler

stapler

These posts might help “ease” the transition Back to School…

Polka Dots please flexible seating blog post.

Polka Dots Please blog post on flexible seating.

Polka Dots Please

Teacher packing up a classroom .

Teacher Stacking chairs

Packing Up Your Classroom

* PS…I just found out I have three weeks to pack up

MY ENTIRE CLASSROOM! I am getting NEW Carpet! I am happy…I think!

PACK UP 30 years of stuff? In 3 weeks? EVERYTHING?

Time to PURGE! Who needs the PD resource from 1999???

I think I need a LOT MORE BOXES!

boxes in warehouse

I may need ALL of these boxes to pack up my classroom.

Hi HO…HI HO…It’s off to pack I go!

                        

via GIPHY

 WENDY  – 1stgradefireworks

Teacher appreciation at graduation.

What is Teacher Appreciation? It might SURPRISE you!

What is TEACHER APPRECIATION?

I am a VETERAN teacher.

NO.

 I have NOT fought in a WAR.

I have taught in GRADE 1

 ( exclusively )

for over 25 years!

WOW!

( Never “graduated” to second grade..as my students tell me!) 🙂

Do kids appreciate their teacher?

Kids graduating from elementary class

I have changed my “VIEW” on teacher appreciation.

 We ALL want to be appreciated.

We want to be recognized for SOMETHING “GOOD”  we have done!

But…

things can get a little … OUT OF HAND!

I believe…

YES…

I believe,  there are

those who are

APPRECIATED

and those who

WISH THEY WERE!

Super Teacher

Super Teacher

I will say this ONE TIME…

IT  IS  NOT  ABOUT  TEST SCORES!

The teacher’s with the SUPER highest test scores

are NOT, always,

the teachers who are

APPRECIATED the MOST!

Now…disclaimer…teachers work WAY TOO hard!

I got that!

Some are SOOOOOO  focused on the “data”…

they forget, or can’t “document” the traits of the child the “data” came from!

Nowhere is there a box to check that says:

                                   ___  Didn’t have breakfast ( or dinner the night before ).

                                         ___ Couldn’t sleep because parents were arguing LOUDLY!

                      ___ No one would help with homework/reading

                            ( for the past two weeks!)

___  not in a good “mind set”  today.

REMEMBER –   these are kids!

This is life!

To attach a “number” to a student based on “today’s testing module”

is NOT

 what teaching is all about!

( Ok sorry…OFF my soapbox!)

So,

Teacher Appreciation.

Where? How? When?

Admin's appreciate teachers.

Administrator’s appreciate a teacher’s work.

Admin’s…

Please… I don’t need a new pen with my school name on it.

If YOU really want to show me your appreciation…

HAVE MY BACK during an IEP

when ‘the team” says

I NEED TO DO MORE!

By the time I have gotten to his stage…

I HAVE DONE ALL I CAN DO!

Take the stand that I AM DONE!

SEND ME SOME HELP!

Now I have great admin’s…

I know they have my back!

THAT’s  APPRECIATION!

If you want to “give” me something…

…TAKE MY RECESS DUTY!

…Take my class for an hour at the end of the day, if MY child is at home sick!

… Come in and do reading groups once in a while

( an extra adult doing centers is ALWAYS appreciated).

You see…it’s NOT about the “things”

it’s about WHAT you DO!

How do you know if your “team” appreciates YOU?
Do your working peers appreciate YOU?

Teacher groups working together.

Do you “share”?

Do you “follow through?”

Do you “care” about each other?

My “teaching partner”…

and I have taught next to each other

( rooms 3 & 4)

for 26  years!

We are going to retire together

the same year…in 3-4 years.

( We “pinky swore”…

..as long as nothing catastrophic happens before then).

Her mom worked in her room. (Before COVID)

I call her MOM!

Our student’s think we are

SISTERS!

Teacher friends appreciate each other!

Teacher friends

See the family “resemblance”?

In my heart…SOUL SISTERS!

We run homework for each other.

We share our students.

We laugh, we cry, we CARE about each other!

We are NOT the ONLY grade 1 teachers.

We have 1-2 others who teach with us.

( Depending on the year and student numbers).

We ALWAYS include them!

This is NOT a

CLOSE YOUR DOOR & DO YOUR THING!

NOPE!

WE DO!

Together.

Feel appreciated? YEP! Daily.

( I could have transferred to another school in MY district..many times!)

NOT LEAVING!

LOVE MY

CRAZY TITLE 1 school!

and then…

Your students…

Students appreciate the work their teacher does.

First Grade students celebrating with an appreciated teacher!

Finally, When do they make YOU feel appreciated?

When you are passing out report cards?

Is it when they forgot their homework?

Or better,  when they have interrupted you for the 1000th time that day?

Probably NOT!

It’s when that SAME little girl walks in EVERY morning

and says…

“Can I have a HUG?”

or

When the little boy who STUTTERS ( severely )…

asks if he can READ his newest story

TO THE CLASS!

( And EVERYONE cheers  for him!)

or

The “behavior problem” child

who knows ( his MAMA tells him a lot )

that he is a PROBLEM…

and he hands me a heart he made with a picture of me & him!

( Melts my heart..right before he hits another student!)

and last…

the “older students” who come back…

just to say HI!

Graduation Caps to tell teachers the are appreciated.

Graduation Caps

or…

“I got my driver’s license & I promise to be safe..just like you said!”

“I got a full-ride scholarship…to HARVARD!”.. yes it did happen!

“I want to be back in first grade so I can PAINT!”

“Thank you, Mrs. McCarty, for listening to me!”

Giggles, Grins, Hugs, & High Fives to 

ALL of YOU!

YOU make a difference!

Mary Poppins..A spoonful of Sugar

SPRING CLEANING

 

It’s time for SPRING CLEANING!

SPRING  CLEANING!

Not  your house..not your closets..

It’s time to CLEAN YOUR CLASSROOM!

Now I don’t mean put on the gloves and scrub down the walls.

( Might not hurt to have some rags & cleaners though. )

So where, oh where, to begin?

YOUR  PAPER  FILES! UGH!

I know…start here.

I have been called many things..

PACK RAT,

KEEPER of EVERYTHING,

A “Professional” Piler..etc..etc…

But it’s time…time to 

THROW  IT  AWAY!

Grab a JUMBO Garbage bag ( actually two )

and get started.

Here is my criteria:

If a paper can be printed from my computer

RECYCLE IT!

(I can always print another one!)

If I have NOT used it this year…

OR last year..I usually give myself two years..

TOSS IT!

 ( You won’t miss it..I promise!)

Clear out EVERYTHING..files, crates, BINDERS…

IT IS LIBERATING..and SCARY ( What if I need “that”? )

It’s on my computer..

that is NEXT!

Computer FILES!

I create file folders on my computer so I can find my documents fast & easy!

First I do  ELA  &  MATH

Then I do this:

ELA 

..Qtr 1

…August/Sept/Oct

…Aug> Back to School

…Aug> CVC

….Aug> Handwriting

etc.etc. etc

I create folders within folders.

This way I can go directly to BACK TO SCHOOL

OR

WHAT AM I DOING IN AUGUST?

I can also go directly to Johnny Appleseed…

Same with MATH

…Qtr 1

…August/Sept/Oct

…Beg Year Assessments

…Numbers to ten

etc..etc..etc..

Takes a little time…BUT SO WORTH IT!

Then when I need the masters ( because I already RECYCLED  them)

voila! 🙂

SUPER  SUGGESTION…

Back UP all of your files on a memory stick!

Better SAFE than SORRY!

MATH MANIPULATIVES!

UGH!

My nemesis!

OK…reality check.

Do YOU have math manipulatives

YOU JUST DON’T USE?

The little teeny tiny ones some publisher somewhere thought kids age 6 would 

LOVE to use?

( USE FOR WHAT? TEETHING..FLIPPING…THROWING???????)

BAG them, Pack them up, BOX them, STORETHEM AWAY!

I can teach most math lessons with a few cubes, white boards, & smartboard.

I don’t need 700 little beans!

GONE!

The “tissue paper” booklets SOMEONE thought my firsties would need to practice fact families!

(PUBLISHERS…little fingers need CARD STOCK!)

And so…away they go!

I try to keep this to ONE box.

Don’t want to store this either.

and LAST for today..

Classroom library!

Should be this…

Don’t let it go to this… 🙂

Can be messy!

Really take a look at WHAT KIDS ARE READING!

Old ones?  DONATE!

Torn ones?  FIX

Need to level? I suggest LEXILES!

( Redoing  mine this summer..We use DRA/Guided reading levels)

CCSS  is all about lexiles..

Learning As I Go! 🙂

And so ..a little cleaning will make your teacher heart happy!

There is MORE..under the cabinets, construction/ writing paper, the dreaded 

Storage drawers…I really don’t know what’s in the BACK of those drawers!

And so on & so on!

Enjoy the weather..spend a little time each day…recycling

and HAPPY SPRING CLEANING!

What does READ AT HOME really look like?

I am a BLOG STALKER!
I admit it.
 
I am ALWAYS trying to find the BEST, FASTEST, & EASIEST ways
to make my classroom run smoother & more effective while being 
academically successful.
I want my students to continue to practice their reading & writing skills and strategies 
AT HOME!

BUT..What does Read at HOME really look like?

 
Aren’t we ALL?
 
So each year I try to “change” a few things for the better.
NO THROWING THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER!
 
(  For YOU youngin’s…  Don’t get rid of the good stuff while trying NEW stuff! )
 
So here is something “NEW” ( or New to ME )  that I am doing this year!
 
I am NOT ( Ugh…),
NOT  
choosing the Student’s TAKE HOME BOOKS each week.
( Let it go! Let it go!)
 
I LET THEM!
The power is in the CHOICE. 

I thought if I chose reading books that were ON their reading level

THEY would MAGICALLY fall in LOVE with READING!

NOT!
I have RAH ( Read AT Home ) envelopes…
Purchased at REALLY GREAT STUFF
BUT ANY envelope will do!
 
Each WEDNESDAY and FRIDAY they bring their RAH folder back.
I have them choose 2 books…YES…2 books to put in their folder.
( I place a pile 20 or so, of books at each level …
 
*disclaimer…right now I have 5 Guided Reading groups..I group their 
PILES of books by the Guided Reading group level…
 

So they really are taking home books at THEIR reading level.

Just a little teacher “nudge” in the right direction!

 
They choose two books, put them in their envelopes, and put them in their cubbies.
They keep them for 2 nights..hence bringing them back WED. & FRI. 
We change them for two NEW books … and here we go again!
 

Some nights I add a READING RESPONSE page to their homework.

USE ONE OF YOUR RAH BOOKS!

( Your choice!)

 
You can get my READING RESPONSE Packet HERE  
Some nights I have them do a page or two from my
Book Reports.
Accountability?
I do have a paper…lined…for parents to sign each night.
DO ALL OF THEM SIGN IT?
 NO!
If YOU take a horse to water…Can you FORCE it to drink it?
NO!
Let it go! Let it go!
So then what?
If you have a parent who won’t support reading at home…
 READ, READ, READ at school.
 
YOU may be the ONLY adult who reads with “THAT CHILD”..
We ALL have “that child”.
 
Don’t fight it!
Don’t PUNISH the child.
IF he/she could read it BY THEMSELVES…..THEY WOULD!
 
They can’t.
So
Let it go! Let it go!
BUT…
I do REWARD those who make the continued effort to read at home
EVERY NIGHT!
 
When they bring their envelopes back, I check the paper.
IF the parent HAS NOT SIGNED…I highlight in RED that date.
 
At the end of the MONTH,
I give a reward (and a SPECIAL BRAG TAG ) to those who have read
EVERY NIGHT!
 
I know…NOT fair for “that child”
Fair is NOT Always EQUAL!
 
I want my kiddos who 
DO THE WORK
to know…
I NOTICE!
 
And so my friends…
I keep stalking.
 
LOTS of great ideas out there in 
BLOGGY LAND.
 
And PINTEREST  LAND.
 
AND  INSTAGRAM LAND.
 
If you need some ideas..
 
 
 
 
Happy  Reading my Friends!
 
 

I Needed a KICK IN THE PANTS!

I can tell it’s SPRING…

I’m getting

LAZY!

But I have FINALLY, updated one of my MOST Valued PRODUCTS!

BOOK CLUBS! 

HURRAY!

Now…I work 3 jobs…

I get up at 5:00 AM and go to bed at 9:00 PM.

I think I deserve some DOWN time!

BUT…

Then…I..get…really….complacent…

procrastinate…LAZY!

So every once in a while,

I need someone to give me a little

PUSH    SHOVE

KICK IN THE  PANTS!

Time to git ‘er DONE!

This has been one of those weeks!

So…

I have a packet I made that I use in my classroom

A  LOT!

If any of you already have this…

DO NOT FEAR!

Help is on its way!

Now,

MY KIDS LOVE THIS!

The packet is full of independent activities, comprehension questions, word work, etc

ALL related to the BOOK OF THEIR CHOICE!

I can use it with ANY book.

My independent readers can read a book

 and as a GROUP

( can we say COLLABORATE )

they can DISCUSS & complete the pack TOGETHER!

Now I don’t use it daily…maybe once every two weeks or so.

It takes them awhile &

I really want them to “get into it”.

Lots of rewards, positive notes, specials when completed.

It’s a GOOD THING!

BUT…

It’s OLD. Really OLD.

It was in need of “A LIFT” ( in all the right places ).

Sounds like me! 🙂 

I DID IT!

I GOT ‘ER DONE!

And here she is.

ALL gussied up and purdy!

She has grown from 14 pages to 44!

She is ALL GROWED UP NOW!

I added a booklet style because

PAPER & INK ARE AT A PREMIUM!

So now…less paper… less ink… more productive teacher & students!

My Little LOVE…

Book Club

 is available

at my TPT store

1stgradefireworks

You will  LOVE this!