Sunday, July 15, 2018

Summer Share: Time to Catch-Up and 10 FREE Centers

Happy summer!
It's mid-July and my summer break is almost over.  I have about a week before teachers report back.  Like many of you, summer is to-do list season.  I have a short, but time consuming to-do list this summer.  A list that includes, "cleaning out" my Teachers Pay Teachers store (more on that task later in the post), organizing my basement (insert frowny face), sharing a little about my past school year, and (for the second summer in a row) moving classrooms.
While, I don't know if I'll ever get my basement truly clean and organized, this afternoon I have a few minutes to share a little about my past school year.
So, yay! for checking an item off my summer to-do list.
If you ever visit School Is a Happy Place, you've probably noticed that I have been conspicuously absent during most of this school year.  I'm not a prolific blogger but, I normally do not let months go by without a post.  That is, until this past year.
Rewind back to the end of last summer, I had a very last minute job offer at a wonderful neighborhood school that I had wanted to work at for years and is very close to my house.  When I say last minute, I mean hired Friday afternoon and teachers report back on Monday.  That weekend, I had to pack my classroom home, in which I had lived for 17 years.  I had to simultaneously move in and clean out a classroom of a 30+ year veteran teacher that decided to retire at the eleventh hour.  
My moving team, was comprised of my parents, my husband and my nine year old daughter.  They were awesome.  We loaded and unloaded and cleaned and purged and dusted and painted.  It was a crazy amount of work, in a super short period of time.  But, we did it.  We had my classroom ready for open house night in less than one week.
The move to this new school meant a grade level change.  I went from an established first grade teacher to a newbie third grade teacher.  Since my daughter had just finished third grade, I felt as though I had a good idea what I was in for.
Starting school in such a whirlwind was really stressful for me.  When I was hired years ago, everything was totally last minute as well.  However, back then I didn't know the difference between starting the school year prepared and organized and starting the year unready.  I was just happy to have a job.  
Now, I know how difficult it can be to start the year on the right foot, if you haven't had enough time to set up your classroom to your liking and to have big picture curriculum plans in place.
The beginning of the year was certainly not what I wanted it to be but, I reasoned that this season would pass and I would eventually find my footing.  However, as the year went on, the stress and the anxiety did not dissipate.  While I really liked the students and staff at my new school, I very much missed my friends at my old school. 
By the end of the first semester, I felt as though I had made a huge mistake leaving for this new opportunity.  By spring break, I knew I had to make a change.  I could not continue on with this "under water" feeling that I had.  I also felt terrible that my family had to live with a wife and mom that was overly stressed by her job.
Shortly after spring break, I learned that I had good chance to return to my old school system and back to first grade.  After lots of prayers, discussions, and deliberation, I decided to go for it.  Thankfully everything worked out.  I was rehired by my old school system and had a chance to go back to first grade.
Now you know why I've moved classrooms two time in two summers.  Fingers crossed that I will not have to move again for a good long while.

As you can tell, with the challenges last year, blogging was not a priority.  Hopefully this year will provide opportunities to share some of the goings-on from my classroom and it won't be another year before you hear from me again.

Now that I've shared about my past school year.  I want to share some centers that used to be available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.
Every now and then I add a free item to my store.  To keep the store from getting to "cluttered," I sometimes remove older free items or items that have been retired.  I still want to share these resources, so I've moved them here.
Below you will find a brief description of 10 free math and literacy centers formerly available at my TPT store.  You can click on any of the pictures to download.

Ten Frame Turtles is a math center that is part of my Bright Beginnings {10 Back to School Themed Math Centers}.  This center provides students practice with numbers to 20 and ten frames.

Ten Frame Apples Up On Top is a math center that is part of my September Smarties  {10 Math Centers}.  This center provides students practice with equations to 20 and ten frames.

Touchdown Turkeys is a math center that is part of my Thanks and Giving {10 Math Centers for November}.  This center provides students practice with basic addition facts.

Autumn ABC Order is a literacy center that was part of my Thanks and Giving {10 Literacy Centers for November}.  This center provides students practice with putting words in ABC order.
(This center is retired and is not longer part of the November center set.)  

Snowman Comparisons is a math center that is part of my Baby It's Cold Outside {10 Math Centers for January}.  This center provides students practice with number comparisons using > and <.

Hot Chocolate Blends is a literacy center that is part of my Baby It's Cold Outside {10 Literacy Centers for January}.  This center provides students practice with initial blends.

Time for a Little Luck is a math center that was part of my Oh So Lucky {10 Math Centers for March}.  This center provides students practice with time to the half hour.
(This center is retired and is not longer part of the March center set.)  

Reading Buddies is a literacy center that is part of my Oh So Lucky {10 Literacy Centers for March}.  This center provides students practice with irregular verb tense.

Being Green: Fraction Fun is a math center that was part of my Hop to It {10 Math Centers for April}.  This center provides students practice with fractions of groups.
(This center is retired and is not longer part of the April center set.)  

Carrot Loving Contractions is a literacy center that is part of my Hop to To {10 Literacy Centers for April}.  This center provides students practice with contractions.

I hope some of my experiences and some of these resources are helpful to you.
Alright, time to tackle some of my other summer to-do's.  Wish me luck. ;)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Last Minute Foxy Valentine Bag Freebie

Please forgive me sweet teacher friends.  It's been a LLLOOONNNGGG time since I've had a chance to share anything here at School Is a Happy Place.
Long story short, I moved schools (very last minute) and changed grade levels.  I'll save the details for another time.  Needless to say, change is a lot of work and much more consuming than I would have ever imagined.
But, today I carved out a little time to share a quick and easy Valentine's Day craft that your students will really enjoy.

It's My Foxy Valentine Bag.  Students make these bags to keep all of the cards and goodies they receive at our class Valentine exchange.
To make these cutie bags, I start by copying the various sized hearts onto colored paper (red or pink for Valentine's Day).  Students cut the pieces and assemble them.

It's really pretty fun to let students guess what they're going to make before showing them the sample.  
After students assemble their fox, they will glue it on their bag.  I print name tags for each student as well.
When the glue dries, the Valentine bags are ready to go.
If your students are like mine, they will love this project.

You can click here for a free pattern for this project.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have a happy Valentine's Day.


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Seesaw 101: Getting Started

Happy Summer!
I know by now most of you are on summer vacation.  While it's a great time to recharge, it's also a perfect time to evaluate classroom hits and misses from the prior year.
One hit for me this year was utilizing Seesaw with my families.  Read on to learn what  Seesaw is, why you may want to consider using it, ways to use it in your classroom, and how simple it is to get started.

There are many other uses for Seesaw other than the ones I highlighted.  I just wanted to share how I was able to make Seesaw work for me during my first year of using it.  There are features that make it way more interactive for students.  However, if you are trying Seesaw out for the first time, the tips and suggestions above should be helpful.
Btw...I am in no way affiliated with Seesaw.  I just really had a great experience with it during this past school year and wanted to share.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Aloha School, Aloha Summer: Ways to End the Year on a High Note

The last three weeks of family knows, it's go time.  And now that my daughter is older and is involved in extra curriculars, plus nightly homework, we are beyond busy during the last weeks of the year.
Taking care of all the loose ends at the end of school and keeping your students moving forward in their learning, takes some planning in advance.  Otherwise you will find yourself completely spent by the time you say your final goodbyes to all your sweet students.

One way you can help get yourself organized, is by setting up some end of the year totes during the last couple of weeks.

The totes I set up were complete, donate, put away, toss.  In each tote I placed items or notes for myself to deal with as soon as possible.  My goal was to take care of everything in the totes before going home that day (although some items stayed in the totes for a few days).  
But even if the tote wasn't cleaned out before I left for the day, having everything I needed to do together in one spot really helped me stay focused on getting my end of the year tasks complete.
By the way, if there was something in the tote I needed to complete outside of school, like getting gifts for the students, I took a picture with my phone to reference when I was out running errands.

This system really helped me get things accomplished before the last day of school.  And while I was  not able to walk out the door after our end of the year teacher luncheon, I had all my "have to's" finished and had a chance to work on some bigger organization projects.
Click here for a FREE copy of the labels I used on the totes.

If your school is anything like mine, there are a ton of special days and activities during the last weeks of school.  All this fun can make the class time a bit challenging.  
To keep my young learners focused, they worked with end of the year/summer themed literacy and math centers.  These centers served as a great review of many skills we practiced during the year.  I could really see how far my young learners have come.
Pictured below are a couple of the literacy centers students worked with during the final weeks.

 You can click here if you'd like more details.

We also kept busy with the companion set of math centers.  Pictured below are a couple of centers from this packet.

You can click here if you'd like more details.  These end of the year literacy and math centers offered a good deal of flexibility and quality skill practice during the last weeks of school.

In addition to our center work, another end of the year project I love is my Graduation Glyph.  We've made these glyphs for the past few years and they always turn out so cute.
Like with all glyphs, students answer questions to determine details about their project.

We used our glyphs for some data collection to help complete our end of the year memory booklets.  When we finished, students autographed each others' booklets.  (They loved this part.)
If you would like more info about my Graduation Glyph {A Fun End of the Year Craftivity and Memory Booklet}, just click here.

One item, always on my end of the year to do list, is getting students a small gift.  I usually go the book route.  Scholastic Book Clubs is a great resource when you are trying to outfit your entire class with the same book.
 Last year I added a personalized bookmark to each book.  I used the same book mark again this year.  If you would like to use these FREE bookmarks with your students, click on the picture below.

Another end of the year tradition is our class awards.  We used to do our awards is our school auditorium with the entire grade level together.  But, we've changed to a more intimate setting and do them in our classrooms with just our students (and of course their families).  I like this setup better, because I have a chance to speak about each student and give out personalized awards, instead of just grade level completion certificates.

For me, it's very meaningful to recognize each student for their unique abilities and strengths.  Having a class awards day is a perfect way to wrap up our year together.

For more details about the end of the year awards I used with my students, you can click here or on the picture below.

Not seen in our awards day pictures is a cute (last minute) banner I put together for our classroom.  Although I was trying to get everything cleaned up and organized for the summer, I thought we needed a little something to decorate with for the event.
To make this banner, I printed and cut the letters to spell congratulations.  I hole punched the letters and strung them together with yarn.  Then, voila! a banner for awards day. 

If you would like a FREE copy of the pattern to make this CONGRATULATIONS! banner, click here.

Finally, I'd like to share a gift tag I made for the cookies we gave to my daughter's special area teachers before she left for summer break.  After posting a pic on instagram of these gift tags, I've had several requests to share them, you go.
You can use them for a wide variety of sweet treats for friends, coworkers, teachers, and students.  These tags are also editable, so that you can add your own special message at the bottom.
If you would like a FREE copy of my Have a Sweet Summer gift tags, click here.

The end of the year is a time to keep your students plugged in, take care of loads of paper work (insert eye roll), make the people around you feel appreciated, and even schedule in a little fun.  Hopefully some of these ideas and resources will take a some of the work off of your shoulders.  Even if you are feeling overwhelmed with all things end of the year, remember you've almost made it to the summer break finish can do this!