Thursday, July 30, 2015

Open House Night

Each year, we have an "Open House/Ice-Cream Social" a few days prior to the first day of school. The kids can come with their parents for an informal meet and greet.  They check out the classroom, meet the teacher, and drop of supplies {if they have them}.  Once they finish up in the classroom, they head outside to the ice-cream truck to get a treat.  Our open house only lasts 1 hour.  When I first began teaching 11 years ago, we had to do a big presentation in front of the parents.  I disliked it for many reasons.  One reason being that parents/kids would stagger in and miss parts of the presentation.  Another one being, the parents would often times have little children with them who would talk or cry during the presentation.  I am so thankful that we switched up our meet and greet to an informal, ice-cream social!  Today I'll be sharing some tips about running your meet and greet.

1.  Do not worry about having your room 100% ready!  Just be sure to have your students' names on everything because they WILL notice if you don't!  Don't panic if your room isn't fully ready.  The kids and parents won't know the difference.  Consider placing a treat and/or card on your students' desks to make them feel welcome!  I do a circus theme in my room, so I give out animal crackers and a personalized card.

2.  Carry a clip board with a class list and pen with you.  As soon as you meet a parent, ask them how their child is going home on the first day of school.  WRITE IT DOWN!  The last thing you'll have time for on the first day is calling a bunch of parents trying to figure out how Johnny is getting home. After open house, consider making tags for the students to wear on their book bags or shirts.  I have these transportation tags that I use.

3.  Think about how you want to deal with supplies.  It's going to be chaotic regardless.  People coming in, asking where to put their supplies, and not fully understanding what you're asking of them.  I display a power point slide on my projector that instructs parents on what supplies to open and place inside of their child's school box.  This is such a life-saver!  I remember my first year of teaching...I was scrambling around the room unwrapping 9,000 supplies as the kids colored.  I was pooped an hour into the day!  Then it dawned on me:  why not have the parents help?  I have found that they are more than happy to!

Now onto the additional {and bulky} supplies...What I've found to be the most helpful over the years is to have large crates or boxes lined up under my board at the front of the room.  On the outside of each crate, I attach a supply sign.  I encourage the parents to unwrap the supplies and place them in the crates.  **Keep a large trash can nearby!** This makes putting supplies away after parents leave a breeze!  I keep my overstock of supplies in this little red cart I got at Ikea a few years ago.  For the free supply signs for your tubs/boxes, click HERE!  


4.  Think about how you want parents to get all the paperwork you need to send home.  I personally use my Open House board that I created.  I print copies of all of the forms and place them inside. After I've met the parents and had them do the supply thing, I direct them to my board.  There, they take all of the forms and fill them out at school or at home {their preference}.  To check out the open house board in my TpT shop, click HERE.  I have a circus theme, but there are several other themes included for all different colors/themes!  *School* forms are placed on students' desks or in a stack near my Open House board.  

5.  Remember to be yourself!  It's easy to get overwhelmed.  Try not to spend too much time talking to one set of parents.  You will have many others waiting to talk to you.  If parents have specific concerns that they want you to know about, kindly ask them to email or call you.

6.  Make packets for those families that couldn't attend.  Meet and Greet is always unpredictable. Some years all of my families come, and other years just a handful attend.  After the meet and greet is over, I immediately pull out forms from my open house board and staple them into packs.  They go into the students' mailboxes who were not able to attend.  This ensures they fill out the necessary forms.    

I hope you found this post helpful.  Have a great year!



Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to School Essentials from Mrs. Wheeler

Hi, friends!  I don't know about you, but I have been working in my classroom getting it all set up for the new year.  Summer came and went in a blink!  As you know, I love to prep as much as possible in the spring...I run copies of many of my "back to school essentials" and keep them in folders so that come August, I can just whip them out and be ready to go!  As I was setting up my room this week, I found those gems in my desk drawer and let me tell ya-I was so pumped!  I want to share my favorite BTS resources with you on today's post.

Reading Logs-I love using reading logs with my little emerging readers!  They are a great way to encourage reading at home and they are also good for a little healthy competition among peers!  My reading logs include two versions with different levels of boxes {10 for the little kids and 20 for the older ones}.  There are logs for each month, with monthly toppers on each page.  I copy the year's worth {August-May} in the spring and store them in a file.  As each month approaches, I pull the logs out and send home.  I track who brought them back with the included, editable checklist. This can be displayed in the room for a little competition among friends or kept in your teacher records.  I use free restaurant certificates as prizes, but you can use treasure chest or any other ideas you have as rewards.

Data Binders-These are SUCH an important tool for my students, families, and I.  We rely on them as take home binders as well as data trackers that keep kids involved and parents informed.  I typically assemble them in the spring so I don't have to mess with them in August.  This year, my mother in law was in town and came to help in my room.  She put them all together for me!!!  To see more about how I use these binders in class, click HERE.


Making Memories-I LOVE this simple, but meaningful memory book!  Each year for the past few years, I have done this project with my students.  It's such a great keepsake.  Here's how it works: Every month, I photocopy a page for the month.  The students do the page together.  The pages are simple art projects {that I spice up with fun art supplies like glitter or felt}, student pictures {that I take}, or writing prompts.  I collect the papers and store each child's in a separate folder.  At the end of the year, the kids make a cover and I staple {or bind} the books together.  I distribute them at our end of the year poetry cafe or on the last day of school.  What I love about these books is that they are EASY.  No paint, nothing messy, and minimal prep on the teacher's part!  To see more about this fun project, click HERE.

Back to School Assessments-I seriously can not tell you how much this pack helps me find out where each of my firsties are when they come to me!!  It's been a blessing the past few years.  All assessments are in one spot.  I make a pack for each student and administer them at my choosing. Some I do one-on-one and others I do whole-group.  These give me great base-line data on my kids. I like to re-test them on some of the areas before conferences to show growth to parents. These assessments are also super handy for RTI and parent meetings.  To see more about how I use these in class, click HERE.  

Have a great year!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Birthday Board Freebie

I don't usually display the students' birthdays in my classroom due to lack of wall space.  I do display them on the calendar each month, but there are no names on the calendar pieces, so it's always a guessing game as to whose birthday it is.  I have seen "to-do" lists in photo frames before and decided I could make the same type of thing with a birthday board!  Just print the page out, pop it in a cheap frame from the Dollar Store or Walmart, and write on it with a Vis-a-Vis marker or EXPO marker. You can easily erase Vis-a-Vis with a wet tissue if you have kids move out or in.  EXPO erases with a tissue as well.

I have a circus theme in my classroom so I'll be using the circus birthday board, shown below.  I included a few other styles in this free download in case you want it!  Click HERE to get the birthday board freebie!

I also prep birthday bags ahead of time {typically in the spring or summer} so that I am not rushing around creating certificates or prizes/candy for my students' birthdays.  It's always so nice to have a bucket of bags to pull from when a birthday comes up.  This year, I'm excited to have my birthday board behind it to make it even easier!  To see my birthday bag idea, click HERE!


Friday, July 24, 2015

Birthday Bash Day 5

Hi and welcome to the last day of my blog's birthday party!  If you missed yesterday's giveaway, be sure to check it out now!  Today's final giveaway has 5 winners.  5 lucky friends will win $20 each to my TpT store!  AND I am marking my Guided Reading Bundle 20% off for you TODAY ONLY! Check it out below.  Best of luck!

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Below are a few activities you'll find in this 1,400 page product!  All activities broken down by skill for easy use and organization.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Birthday Bash Day 4

Good morning!  Today is day 4 of my blog's birthday party!  If you missed yesterday's giveaway, be sure to check it out now!  Today's giveaway is a gift card to Amazon! Everyone can use one of those, right?!  Complete the Rafflecopter below to enter!  Good luck!

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Birthday Bash Day 3

Happy Hump Day!  Back for day 3 of my blog's birthday party!  If you missed yesterday's giveaway, be sure to check it out now!  Today I am giving away a surprise goody bag with some of my favorite things!  If you follow me on Instagram, you will see that I love to shop! To enter, complete the Rafflecopter below.

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