Sunday, July 31, 2016

Make a Custom Banner for Your Classroom



I just wrapped up a huge classroom redecorating project last night (two days before our new school year started).  I'm not going to lie, there was lots of painting, reorganizing, and obsessing over various elements in the classroom.  There is a reason I do not redecorate very often, it's a lot of work.  Plus, it can be expensive.
One way I saved a little money was by making my own pennant banners.  I love the way they look and (as it turns out) are super simple to make.

Here's what to do...

First, decide what colors you want your banner.  I went with watercolor shades of rainbow colors.  I used digital paper, instead of scrapbook paper or construction paper.  (That way the computer does all your measuring for you.)
You can find digital paper online for free.  I got what I needed at teachers pay teachers.

After selecting your digital paper, insert a sheet on a power point slide.  (You can use any computer program that allows you to crop pictures into shapes).  I use power point for everything, so that's what I went with.



After placing the paper on the slide.  Crop it by selecting crop to shape and choosing the triangle (or whatever shape you want your banner to be).




After cropping the shape, it should look something like this:



You can adjust the size of your shape easily by setting the dimensions or dragging it to the size you want.

After creating all the shapes you need for your banner, print them.  Then laminate and cut them out.  After cutting all your shapes, punch two wholes for ribbon stringing purposes.


Next, string all the triangles onto a ribbon.


Once you've strung the triangles, you have an adorable custom banner for your classroom.


You can make your banner as long or short as you want.  You can make it with any colors or patterns you want.  You can even insert text to clip art.  These banners are really easy and fairly quick to make.  If you've been thinking about using this type of decoration in your classroom, you should definitely give making your own custom banner a try.
Have a great week.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bright Beginnings: Back to School Math and Literacy Centers

As you all know, teachers work during the summer.  We are gathering materials, revamping pacing guides, redoing classrooms, attending workshops, reading professional books, and hitting the Target dollar spot (hard).
Summer is the perfect opportunity to reflect on what worked and what didn't work.  It is a time to really think about how to implement a new strategy.
Yes, friends...teachers work during the summer.

One project I've taken on this summer is revamping many of my monthly literacy and math centers.  I've been using these centers for the past three years and loved having them as a resources.  But, now it's time for a little (and in some cases big) makeover.
I wanted to give you a peek at the progress I've made this far...
First up is my back to school math centers...


These math centers include practice with numeracy, counting, early addition, ten frames, tally marks, and more.  Below is a sampling of the updated centers in my Bright Beginnings {10 Back to School Themed Math Centers}.





The companion literacy centers, Bright Beginnings {10 Back to School Themed Literacy Centers} have been completely updated as well.


These literacy centers include practice initial consonant sounds, letter discrimination, cvc words, syllables, rhyming words, sight words, and more.





These center sets were created for my first grade class.  However, they would be great for beginning of the year second graders (that might below level) or perfect for high flying kindergartners.
If you already own these centers, be sure to download the updates.  If you are interested in adding these resources to your back to school collection, you can click here for more details.
I hope you are having a wonderful summer.  Thanks so much for stopping by.


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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Making the Most of Time During the Last Weeks of School: Ideas, Freebies, and Resources



It goes without saying, the end of the year is CR A Z Y.  The kids are off the chart excited (the diplomatic way of saying WILD).  There are grades and assessments to complete.  There are records and other paper work to be tended to.  There is a classroom to clean out, organize, and shutdown for the summer.  Plus, there are all those special, fun days that you put off until all the major testing is over.
Whew...I've been on summer break for about a week and I'm still breaking out in a little sweat thinking about the last few weeks of school. ;)

After 16 year is the classroom, there are a couple of tips I have for ending the school year with your sanity intact.
First, start working on all your extra stuff early.  Do not wait until the last minute to try to organize field day, put together end of the year gifts for your students, do grades, and finish permanent record cards.  Take care of as many details as you can before you hit the last couple of weeks.
My second tip is to keep your students busy, busy, busy.  You may have already covered all of your essential standards.  Your students may be struggling to fully focus.  But, you need to keep them moving ahead in their learning.  Plus, from my experience, students behave much better when they are engaged and have tasks to complete.

Here are some fun end of the year/summer inspired activities we did during the last weeks of school...
I love having student work on display.  I have a spot in the hallway where I hang student work and I also put display pieces in my classroom.  At the end of the year, it can get a little too hectic to change out student work, so I put together a simple summer writing craftivity that took little to no time to prep.
Students wrote about their plans or things they would like to do this summer.  They really got into this assignment.  In the end, we had a colorful display to remind us that summer break was just around the corner.


If you would like to use this writing craftivity with your students, it's free at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  You can click on the picture below for more details.



We also worked on some (hot off the press) literacy and math centers.  For the past couple of years, I've intended to round out my literacy and math centers with sets that are end of the year and summer inspired.  However, since the end of the year is the way it is...I have ran out of steam before I completed my project.
But, this year was different.  I stayed up late several nights and managed to finish up these long awaited resources.  To tell you the truth, it was pretty fun putting these sets together.  They 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.


These literacy centers (and nine others-there is a bonus 11th center as well) are part of my Excellent Endings {10 Literacy Centers for the End of the Year} packet.  The centers in Excellent Endings include work with adjectives, synonyms/antonyms, syllables, pronouns, verbs, sight words, vowel teams, contractions, and more.  You can click here if you'd like more details.



We also kept busy with the companion set of math centers, Excellent Endings {10 Math Centers for the End of the Year}.  Pictured below are a couple of centers from this packet.


There are a total of eleven math centers in my Excellent Endings {10 Math Centers for the End of the Year}.    (This packet also includes a bonus 11th center.)  The centers in Excellent Endings include practice with fact families, place value, geometry, time to the half hour, double digit addition/subtraction, fractions, and more.  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.



Besides keeping my kids occupied, (like I mentioned before) there are quiet a few responsibilities that get added to teachers' plates at the end of the year.  One responsibility we have at our school is to put together a little something for our classes during Awards Day.  
This year we had the option of doing awards with our students in our own classrooms, instead of in the auditorium with the entire grade.  We opted for doing awards in our classes and I went to work making some new superlative awards for my almost second graders.
It was nice to reflect back on the year and about my students' accomplishments, personalities, and interests.  All the students loved hearing about their special awards and why they are so deserving.  We had a great time.
I created the awards in full color and in ink saver, backline.  I went back and forth on which version to use.  In the end, I decided to go with the ink saver on some bright and colorful paper.


My End of the Year Student Awards are also available at my store.  They are editable and include girl and boy versions of all of the awards.  You can click on the picture below for more information.



Student awards and end of the year gifts are definitely tasks that you can get an early start on.  For this year's gifts, I gave each student a book and personalized bookmark.  
Scholastic books is a great resource when you are trying to outfit your entire class with the same book.  I was so excited to see this Ready Freddy Second Grade Rules on sale for $1.  #score


Many of my firsties were pretty proud to be leaving for the summer with their very own chapter book.
If you would like a free (and editable) copy of the bookmarks I gave to my students, you can click here.



I hope some of these ideas and resources are a help to you as you wrap up your school year.  If you get an early start on some of your extra responsibilities and keep your students involved with meaningful activities, the end of the year will way less stressful.
Thanks for stopping by.


Thursday, April 7, 2016

It's Raining, It's Pouring: Rain Themed Ideas and Freebies for Primary Classrooms



April showers bring...lots of indoor recess.  Rainy days are not always a favorite of teachers, but maybe it's time to rethink our feelings about rain.
One way to make the most out of a rainy day is with some great read alouds.  There are so many books about rain, storms, rainbows, thunder, lightning, and more.  Two of my favorite rain themed read alouds are Rain! by Linda Ashman and Raindrop, Plop! by Wendy Cheyette Lewison.
Both of these stories really lend themselves to activities with various comprehension skills.


One way we used these books was by doing little text-to-text comparison using a Venn diagram. For my first graders, I put together the Venn diagram printable pictured below, that includes cut and glue responses.  Not all of my students needed the cut and glue option, but it was really helpful to most.  Students completed the diagram on their own without glueing their responses.  Then, I went over the answers.  Students could make the changes they needed to and then they glued everything in place.  
Of course, higher flying students can come up with their own responses and write them.  Or, they can use the cut and glue option and then add some additional responses of their own.
For a FREE copy of the Venn diagram we used with Rain! and with Raindrop, Plop!, you can click here.


After reading and comparing these two texts, my firsties had lots of ideas about fun things to do on a rainy day.  It was the perfect time to make a cute writing craftivity to brighten the hallway outside our classroom.
Students wrote about what they would like to do on a rainy day.  They could also write about a rainy day they experienced in the past.  The read alouds really helped students generate some great ideas for their writing pieces.
Click here if you would like more details about this Rainy Day Kids writing craftivity.



Another rain themed activity that my students absolutely loved was Raindrop Adjectives (a write the room activity).
I printed 16 raindrop words on blue paper and cut them out.  I placed them around the room and gave every student a recording sheet.


As students rotated around the room, they wrote each of the words on their recording sheets.  After they had all the words on their sheet, they returned to their desks and colored the boxes that had adjectives.


I picked up all the raindrop words while the students were coloring the adjectives at their desks.  After a few minutes, we gathered together to discuss all the words and which words are truly adjectives.  We taped the adjective raindrops to our anchor chart.
While parts of speech are still pretty tricky to many of my students, they have come a long way in their understanding of these concepts.
You can click here if you would like a FREE copy of Raindrop Adjectives to use with your class.



My students also enjoyed some rain inspired math activities during center time and during guided practice.  This week we started work on telling time.  I put together this simple digital time/clock matching activity for students to complete with a partner.


Students matched the digital time card with the clock cards and then wrote the times for the clocks on the recording sheet.  They did a great job!
Click here if you would like a free copy of Time for a Shower (a time to the hour activity).



Rain doesn't have to spoil your day.  It can be a fabulous jumping off point for some thematic learning.  I hope some of these activities are helpful to you as you make each day count with your young learners.
Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

You Better Shape Up: Activities for 2D and 3D Shapes (Including a FREE Set of Anchor Charts)

Shapes are everywhere and we have just about worn them out.  
Over the past couple of years I've noticed a gaping whole in my 2D and 3D shape resources.  I've needed some hands-on centers for our work with shapes.  For whatever reason, I didn't have time to put anything together, until a few months ago.  
I started working on 2D and 3D shapes centers for my young learners.  I wanted to be prepared when our geometry unit rolled around again.
Here's a peek at some of the centers we enjoyed this year...

One of the centers my students completed was a real world/shape match up.  As you can see, student matched real world photos with 2D shapes.  They wrote their findings on a recording sheet.  They also had to find their own examples of shapes in the real world to illustrate and label.



Students worked on naming the 2D shapes and matching up their properties.  Most of the 2D shapes were super simple for my firsties.  However, they certainly needed extra practice with trapezoid, rhombuses, pentagons, hexagons, and octagons.



After a recent pattern activity, I knew some of my young learners needed additional opportunities to work with patterns.  I put together two pattern centers (one with 2D shapes and one with 3D shapes). The pattern centers served as a great review for many of my students and an opportunity for some remediation for others.



Of course we needed some anchor charts to reference.  I love 2 Super Teachers colorful shape friends clip art.  These clips were perfect for creating a simple anchor chart display.



I also put together 3D shape mini anchor charts.  I printed a set of these anchor charts and used them to label our class set of 3D shape models.
I highly recommend getting a class set of 3D shape models.
 I bought my set at Oriental Trading several years ago.  I paid about $20 (or so).  They have been well worth the cost.  It is extremely helpful to students to be able to put their hands on 3D shapes as they learn about these shapes and their properties.



My students used these shape models with almost all of the 3D shape centers.  They used them with the 3D naming and property matching center.



They used the shape models with the stack, slide, or roll center.  Students really liked testing if a shape could stack, slide, or roll.



In addition to labeling our shape models with the mini anchor charts, I also printed a second copy for classroom display.  (If you scroll to the bottom, you'll find a link to a FREE set of these charts.)



All of these activities and many more are available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store in my Shape by Shape {Hands-On Activities with 2D and 3D Shapes} packet.  Altogether the are eight centers with recording sheets, two sets of anchor charts, and a game of I Have/How Has? for 2D & 3D shapes.
You can click on the picture below for more details.



Besides all of our classroom work with shapes, we also read some great shape themed books.  Here are just a few of my favorites...


Captain Invincible and the Space Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy, Shapes That Roll by Karen Nagel, If You Were a Polygon by Marcie Aboff, Perfect Square by Michael, Circus Shapes by Stuart J. Murphy, Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns, Mouse Shapes by Ellen Stoll Walsh, and If You Were a Quadrilateral by Molly Blaisdell.
For me, there's nothing like books to hook students' attention and spark their desire to learn more.

Finally, for a free copy of my 3D Shape Mini Anchor Charts.  You can click on the picture below.  If you teach 3D shapes, these colorful little posters make a great reference display and do not take up to much space.
Click on the picture below for your FREE copy of these anchor charts.


Thanks so much for stopping by!
Best.