Sunday, July 5, 2020

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!: Ideas, Activities, and a Freebie for this Back to School Favorite

Last summer I added Mo Willems' The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! to my classroom library.  Of course, this addition was a no-brainer.  Willems' books are always super popular, especially Pigeon books.

Just as predicted, my students loved this book.  It is the perfect length for the beginning of the year, when attention spans are extra short and students need a little break from all the procedural training they are receiving.

Since I knew this book would be a hit, I decided to make it the centerpiece of back to school.  I created some basic "Pigeon themed" math and literacy activities, as well as a simple craft.  I used these activities intermittently during the first week and was able to glean some great info about my new students' basic math and literacy skills, as well as their fine motor skills and listening skills. 

One of the Pigeon themed activities was a number/number word/counting mini book. Students traced and wrote the numbers 1-10, as well as the number words 1-10.  Then students illustrated a picture to go with each number.  We broke this activity up over a couple of days.

Students took part in a listening activity.  Students had to complete a picture according to a series of questions/statements that I read aloud.  (If you've every made a glyph with your students, this activity feels really similar.)

Students also put together their first puzzler for the year. This puzzler focused on number representations. Students cut and glued the puzzler pieces to tell what number is represented in the box. By the end, students have a completed picture that they can color.  
I use various puzzlers throughout the year. This the Pigeon puzzler is a great introduction to how to complete a puzzler.

Students loved making their simple, one-page craft Pigeons. All that was required was the Pigeon pattern (I used white card stock), scissors, and glue.  The class Pigeons made a really quick and cute back to school bulletin board.

In addition to these activities, students worked on counting/cardinality, geometry, place value, number bonds, handwriting, the alphabet, rhyming words, sight words, and more. The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! is a perfect springboard for a variety of skills. 

For a math freebie (from the printables featured above), click on the picture below. This freebie provides practice with ten frames, counting, and number identification.

If you have not added, The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! to your classroom library, I highly recommend it. There are so many directions you can go with this book. More importantly, your students will love it and be totally engaged.  What a great way to start the year, by reading a book that students truly enjoy. :)

For more details about the all of the Pigeon inspired activities I used with my students, be sure to click on the picture below. 

Of course (like most), I'm not certain what this year's back to school days will look like. Whatever the setup, I know I'll be using The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! to help me kick off the year.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Please know that all of the recommendations on this site are authentic and come from personal experience.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Teacher Approved Classroom Essentials for Under $30

Well, it's been an interesting few months (to say the least).
Between early March and late May, I (like most of you) have not been allowed to step foot in my (our) classroom(s). I (we) have been teaching from home without the benefit of classroom materials and resources.
After everything wrapped up and we finished up our school year, I started thinking about some of those materials and resources. It was interesting to me that I could conduct "class" without most of my stuff.  Of course distance learning was (and will continue to be) a completely different experience than classroom learning. In distance learning, materials are definitely minimal. Onsite/classroom learning includes more teacher "must-haves" to keep things running smoothly.
With all of that said, here are some of my favorite classroom essentials. They are in no particular order.
The Time Timer
I love this timer. It comes in a variety of sizes. I use it in small groups. I use it during writing time, I use it during centers. It REALLY helps my students and me manage our time. The timer provides a perfect visual for students. The Time Timer is absolutely one of my favorite classroom essentials.
You can click here to check it out.

Paper Trays
I use these trays all the time.  I have about 20 basic ones and I have one set of colored trays.  I use the he basic ones to collect and sort student work.  You can also find them on my teacher desk for miscellaneous notes, handouts, etc.  I use the colored ones to set out differentiated materials for students.  The colors make it really easy students to know which materials to access for their specific assignments.
Click here for the basic paper trays.
Click here for the colored paper trays.

Paper Cutter
If you make centers, task cards, write the room activities, or crafts, a paper cutter saves a ton of time. I used to own one that did not have a guide wire for cutting. I upgraded to one with a guide wire a couple of years ago and it saves me even more time. I actually have one a home too for when I'm prepping activities away from school.  My paper cutters get plenty of use.
Click here for a link my favorite paper cutter.

Laminator and Laminating Pouches
I get so, so, so much use out of my personal laminator. I mainly use it for materials students handle, like centers and task cards. The laminate film is so much stronger than the big laminator at our school. Plus the convince of being able to laminate things whenever I need to makes a laminator (and laminating pouches) classroom essentials.
Click here for the laminator.
Click here for affordable laminate pouches.

Board Game Zipper Bags
These zipper pouches are an affordable way to store classroom board games and pieces. Let's face it, board game boxes do not hold up well and they take up a little bit too much space. Game board zipper bags are a great way to store and organize games.  
*It's important to look at the size of the bags and the measurements of your games. For larger game boards (like Chutes and Ladders) you will want the A3 size bag.
Click here for more details about board game zipper bags.

Ok, maybe not very thrilling, but they are super useful. I use magnets on my white boards, my easel, and my classroom door frame. I post student work, anchor carts, and posters with my magnets. I really can't have enough around. They just make life a little easier.
Click here for classroom magnets.

File Box and Hanging Folders
There are a thousand uses for a file box in a classroom, so you'll probably need a few. I have file boxes for student writing (that becomes individual portfolios at the end of the year). I have one that is my sub tote. I have one that I share with my assistant, where we store student information, notes, etc. 
I'm sure I'm probably forget one, but the point is...there are loads of ways to to use file boxes in a classroom. 
To go along with the file box, I really like colorful hanging files. I'm gradually replacing all of my old green hanging files. The colorful one do help me organize myself more easily and I like the way they look.
Click here for a basic file box.
Click here for colorful hanging files.

The EZ Grader
An oldie but a goodie for sure. These little slide graders have been around forever. EZ Graders are really convenient and easy to use. They are a teacher must-have.
Click here for the EZ GRADER.

Dry Erase Pouches, Dry Erase Markers, and Reusable Makeup Pads
If you are of a fan of saving paper, you need to get dry erase pouches. Handouts can be used over and over agin with these pouches. I do have individual dry erase boards in my classroom, but these pouches serve a different purpose. 
Of course dry erase markers are needed if you are using these pouches.  
In my class, students use makeup pads as erases for dry erase markers.  Every once in a while I bring them home and wash them.  Again, convenient, easy to use, and affordable.
Click here for dry erase pouches.
Click here for class set of dry erase markers.
Click here for reusable makeup pads.

Velcro Shapes
There are all different sizes, shapes, and colors of these velcro shapes. Some of these shapes have numbers or letter printed on them. You can also write on them or leave them plain. You can use them in so many ways. 
Currently my students have velcro stars assigned to them at our gathering area. I also use the velcro spots as makers for students' desks. Students tend to "drive" their desks around the room. The spots provide a visual on the floor, so that students know where their desks belong.
Velcro shapes are a wonderful classroom management tool.
Click here for velcro shapes.

A Megaphone
My megaphone stays in my playground bag. It get's 99% of it's use on the playground. I love it. Years ago we all brought whistles to the playground. Most of the time it would take quite a few white blasts to get students' attention.  
The megaphone is way more effective. While most of the time I'm just using it to announce it's time to line up, sometimes I'm using it to prevent an accident that might be about to happen. 
I think a playground megaphone really ups the safety factor at recess.
Click here for a teacher friendly megaphone.

There you have it, some of my favorite classroom essentials under $30. I hope these suggestions are useful to you.  Teachers must spend their money very wisely.  All of these recommendations are items I would buy again in a heartbeat, because they have either saved me time, helped me stay organized, kept my students engaged, and/or supported my classroom management. Basically they are teacher approved. :)

Thanks for stopping by and take care.

School Is a Happy Place is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associated Program, an affiliate program that allows this site to earn advertising fees.
Please know that all of the recommendations on this site are authentic and come from personal experience.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Make an Indoor Recess Cart for Your Classroom {Plus FREE Cart Labels in a Variety of Colors}

I have a super quick project that you are sure to find useful in your classroom.  It is an Indoor Recess Cart, customized to your own students' interests.
Not only is this cart easy to put together and compact in size, it also allows you to put to use items that you probably already have on hand.
The main reason I created an Indoor Recess Cart was for sub days. I've always had a variety of activities students could choose on the days that we couldn't make it outside. However, I had them tucked here and there in the classroom, way too much explaining to leave for a sub.  Once I consolidated the activity choices on the Indoor Recess Cart, it was much easier to leave for a substitute.

To create an Indoor Recess Cart, you will need a utility cart. Once you have your cart and assemble it, you will print your labels. I printed mine on cardstock and laminated them for durability. Finally, I glued the labels on the cart.
Click on the link below for a FREE set of labels for your Indoor Recess Cart.

After your cart is put together and labeled, next comes the fun part...filling it. 
I recommend not over stuffing the cart. It will be too difficult for students see what activities are available and too difficult for them to cleanup appropriately. 
You should discuss with your students the expectation for the Indoor Recess Cart. That way students are responsible for it and it doesn't become one more thing that you have to manage.

Below are some ideas for an Indoor Recess Cart.

Ideas for an Indoor Recess Cart include:
2.  a variety of simple games, like Memory, Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game!, Connect 4, and Hi Ho! Cherry-O
3.  jigsaw puzzles (I like to put mine in baggies and store in one shoebox size tote.)
4.  fun art supplies and drawing journals (Spiral notebooks I give students at the beginning of the year, that only come out on indoor recess days.)
5.  dominoes
6.  building toys, like Legos and Brain Flakes

After you loaded up your cart, you're finished!  You have a fabulous Indoor Recess Cart that your students will really enjoy. As the year progresses, trade out some of the activities, so that students will continue to be interested in the choices.

Thank you so much for stopping by!
Stay well.

School Is a Happy Place is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associated Program, an affiliate program that allows this site to earn advertising fees.
Please know that all of the recommendations on this site are authentic and come from personal experience.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Last Minute Thanksgiving Resources {Including a FREE Directed Drawing}

Happy almost Thanksgiving. :)
I love this time of year.  The holiday season is just getting started. It's not yet December, so my kids aren't too crazy yet. Best of all, some delicious holiday eating is only days away.
To help take advantage of this special time, I thought I'd share a few Thanksgiving themed resources. I'll started with a quick and simple Turkey Directed Drawing.

This directed drawing is a favorite of my students. They always seems so surprised with their directed drawing creations and this turkey is no exception. These directed drawings make an adorable display that students are sure to be proud of.  Plus, this drawing is super simple to teach.
Click here for your FREE copy of my Turkey Directed Drawing.

Another resource I'll be using, during the days leading up to Thanksgiving, is my On Point Leaning Journal for November.  I've used these print-and-go math and literacy activities in a variety of ways over the years (depending on my group of students).  
In the past, I've made my On Point Learning Journal into a booklet that students work on at their own pace (if they've completed all of their work).  This year, I've been using the activities in small groups for review and reinforcement of skills from earlier in the year. Having quick-prep and meaningful, seasonally inspired activities makes planning a snap.
Click here for more details about the On Point Learning Journal for November.

One final Thanksgiving themed resource I'd like share is my Perky Turkey Fact Family Scoot. I actually created this scoot a few years ago.  Originally it was a subtraction scoot.  Well, this year, my students are in need of a little extra practice with fact families.
I tweaked the original Perky Turkey Subtraction Scoot so that my young learners can have a chance to work with fact families.
Students will scoot to each turkey card and write the fact family numbers on their recording sheets.  Then, students will write a fact family with each set of numbers.
My students love scoot and write the room. I know they'll enjoy practicing fact families with this activity.
Click here if you would like a FREE copy of Perky Turkey Fact Family Scoot.

I hope these resources are a help for you in the weeks/days leading up to Thanksgiving.
Thank you for taking time to visit School Is a Happy Place.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Nonstandard Measurement: A FREE Resource

I love teaching nonstandard measurement in my class. There are so, so many hands-on ways to practice this skill. 
I put together a prep once and use multiple ways activity to take advantage of the variety of units students can use for nonstandard measuring.
Rainy Day Nonstandard Measurement is a set of activities that is perfect for springtime.  It features twelve measurement cards and an array of recording sheets that allow students to use different units of measurement.
Pictured below are some of the ways Rainy Day Nonstandard Measurement can be used.  The activities are in no particular order.

First off, students may measure the measurement cards with raindrops.  The raindrops are on the recording sheet.  Students simply cut them apart and line them up to measure each object.

Students can also use cubes for measuring.  Each student will need about ten cubes to complete this version of Rainy Day Nonstandard Measurement.

Next up is measuring with round counters.  (I tried to keep in mind what kind manipulative are generally available in most classrooms).  Students will need about ten counters for this version of the activity.

The final option features a unit of your or your students' choice.  Decide what kind of unit(s) you would like for your students to use.  You can put out a few choices for your students to pick from or you can assign a unit.  Some possible options are pennies (or any other coins), pattern blocks, paperclips, erasers, etc.  Students will write the unit they used near the top of their recording sheets.

For my class I printed the measurement cards four times on different colored paper.  During math small groups, students partnered and shared the cards.  Four sets worked perfectly for my groups.
On a side note, when printing multiple sets of the same activity, I like to print on different colors of paper.  That way, if a card accidentally gets separated from its set, it's easy to return it where it belongs.

It is no problem if you do not have time or resources to print and laminate sets of these cards.  You can always print the cards on copy paper and toss them when finished or let students color their own sets.

I really like this activity because I can prep my materials once and use them (well really) as many times my students need. If you would like your own FREE copy of Rainy Day Nonstandard Measurement, you can click here.

Oh, by the way...I also included a nonstandard measurement assessment in this resource as well. 

I hope you and your students enjoy this activity.  Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Listen to Reading {Why, How, and a Freebie}

Do your young learners spend time listening to books during the week?  
Not books read by the teacher or another adult (of course that type of listening is going on in class), I mean recorded books.

When I was in school, I absolutely loved when we listened to books on tape.  When I started teaching (back in the stone age), I bought a set of Scholastics listening library books/cassettes almost every month.  Later, Scholastic transitioned to books on cd's and I kept on buying them.  
I have quite a large listening library for my classroom.  But, it took a long time and a lot of money to build this resource.
I feel that listening to a text (read fluently) and tracking the words is a wonderful way to build fluency, accuracy, and comprehension in early readers.  Having access to a large listening library is critical for students to gain the benefits from Listening to Reading.  

As mentioned before, having a decent sized listening library can be really expensive.  However, Epic! has changed the game when it comes to classroom listening libraries.
Epic! offers many books with a Read to Me option.  The books are read aloud and the words are highlighted, so that students my easily track what is being read. 
Oh, I forgot to mention the best part...EPIC! is FREE for classroom use.  

After you sign up for Epic! and set up your class, you will want to consider creating and assigning collections for your students.  By creating a collection, you can customize the books your students will access.  
From my experience, the ability to create collections for your class really helps focus your students' listening time.  Without collections, students could spend way too much time "shopping" for books.

My students really enjoy Listening to Reading on Epic!  It is very user-friendly.  I love the variety of fiction and nonfiction texts that are available.
While I still use my traditional listening library, Epic! has been a great addition to our listening time.  If you are a teacher without a solid listening library, Epic! is a perfect resource for you.

If you are looking for a quick and simple way to hold students accountable for their Listen to Reading time, you may want to snag my FREE Listen to Reading Response sheet.  It can be used with traditional listening libraries and with the read aloud books on Epic! (or any other digital resource).
It's hard to tell, but this printable is actually a half sheet. Click on the picture below for your free copy of my Listen to Reading Response sheet.

FYI, I am in no way affiliated with Epic!  I have just really enjoyed having access to this resource and want to share it.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
Happy teaching!