Saturday, July 31, 2021

Meet the Teacher

 Each fall, our district does a "Meet the Teacher" event where families come to check out the school, teachers, and classrooms.  It's usually an hour or two long and and families can stop by at their leisure. I LOVE the fact that there is no formal presentation--We used to do that my first few years and I always hated it because I felt like no one paid attention.  We also encourage families to drop off school supplies, which is a tremendous help!  I sure don't miss the days of unwrapping the supplies of 20-some student's on the first day of school!  Today's post is an overview of how I run my Meet the Teacher event.  I try to keep things simple!

Tips for Success:

1.  Keep a clipboard and pen with you--Keep a transportation log on it so you know how every student is going home the first day of school.  In addition, keep some notebook paper on your clipboard.  This is for notes that families may share with you (behavior, medical, custody, etc...) This will help you big time after families leave!  You can refer back to your notes for important information.

In years past, I've offered these transportation tags to families in case they want to label their child's book bag or shirt on the first day of school.  These help adults in the building get children to their designated classroom.

2.  Provide Time for Families to Browse-Once I've checked in with families, they are encouraged to find their child's desk, peruse the classroom, and unwrap their supplies.  On the desks, students will see any workbooks, notebooks, a welcome treat, etc...they will use for the year as well as their take home data binders.  The binders travel to and from school each day.  

3.  Provide a Treat-I love placing a special treat on each child's desk.  I've done several things over the years...popcorn, cookies, crackers, lollipops, etc...You can grab the tags that I use by clicking below.

4.  Provide a Space for Supply Check-In-My favorite way to collect student supplies is to display the following signage and have families set up their child's school box.  I display the sign in the clear photo holders and place one on each pod of desks.  

In addition, I use my open house supply signs to make customized signs that match our first grade supply list.  I label large bins with the signs and place them at the front of my room.  Families follow the directions and open/unpack all supplies.  It's truly amazing leaving open house having everything opened and sorted.  It also really saves my hands and wrists! 

*I also put out a sign regarding headphones and markers near the large supply buckets as an extra reminder for families to label them with their child's name.*  

Teacher Tips: Place a set of student name labels near the marker and headphone collection bins.  Families label the marker box with their child' name.  Place a box of gallon Ziploc bags near the headphone bin.  Families unwrap the headphones, place them in a Ziploc, and stick their child's name sticker on the bag.  

*acrylic sign holder affiliate link above*

5.  Distribute Paperwork/Forms- As mentioned above, I place all of my student's paperwork on their desks.  Most families take the forms home to complete and return them on the first day of school.  However, I do give the option for families to sit and complete them during Open House if they choose.

*Although I don't currently use it, I used my "Meet the Teacher Board" for several years.  It's an editable kit that contains the pieces to create an open house 3-panel board, where you can organize paperwork for families to collect.  Several themes are included.

Best of luck with your open house!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Ice Shaker

Hi, friends!  If you've been around for awhile, you probably know that I enjoy sharing products that I really love.  I recently had the chance to check out some cups by Ice Shaker.  I was super excited to try these cups because it's pretty much a known fact that 1. Teachers never get to enjoy hot coffee and 2.  Teachers don't drink enough water.  It seems like we are always on the hunt for "the perfect travel cup for water" or "the perfect travel cup for our daily coffee."  As I was perusing the Ice Shaker website, the first words that caught my attention were "Ice cold.  All day."  I also saw that this product was featured on Shark Tank, CNBC, Forbes, and a few other well-known outlets.  I also noticed that there were a variety of cups to choose from...Shaker Bottles, Flex Bottles, Skinny Tumblers, and Skinny Shakers.  As I mentioned above, I am constantly on a mission to find good travel cups for water and coffee (both iced and hot), so I went with a Skinny Tumbler and a Skinny Shaker. 

The Skinny Tumbler comes with a straw but the lid can also be used for sipping if a straw isn't your thing.  Personally, I love straws, especially reusable ones!  The skinny, steel design is perfect for a cup holder and is easy to grasp.  Many of you know that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, and holding giant cups is quite painful and cumbersome.  The Skinny Tumbler also keeps hot beverages hot for over 6 hours and cold beverages cold for over 24 hours!  Insanely awesome.  Sold.  There were many designs and colors to choose from, but when I saw the tie-dye, I knew it was meant for me!  The bright colors are BEAUTIFUL and I love the glossy finish.  I've already received so many compliments on my cup!

What drew me to the Skinny Shaker was the carrying handle and leak-proof pop top lid.  I'm notorious for spilling my water in my car, so having a cup with a leak-proof lid will be amazing for my morning and afternoon commute!  Like with the Skinny Tumbler, the Skinny Shaker is also slim (perfect for a cup holder) and keeps hot drinks hot for over 6 hours and cold drinks cold for over 24 hours.  I decided on a white cup for my Skinny Shaker because the clean look is so sleek. 

comes with a removable rubber base for soft landing

I can't wait to carry both of these cups to school in the fall and I am excited to share a link to shop with you!  Be sure to sign up for emails from "Ice Shaker" to get $5.00 off your purchase.  Happy drinking!


Note: I was sent these products in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions stated on this post are my own.  This post contains an affiliate link.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Back to School Printables

Amazing to think it's already mid-July!  We don't go back to school until after Labor Day, but I know many of you go mid-August (or sooner).  Each year, I like to share one of my favorite (and most helpful IMHO) product for back to school season.  The beginning of the year is extremely busy and stressful and this year will be no different.  Although it's fun to decorate a classroom, head to the Dollar Spot every other day, and peruse Pinterest for the "cutest ideas," what's really important is your instruction and how you'll spend those precious first few weeks establishing routines and procedures.  I've taken the guesswork out of things for you with my Back to School Printables activity pack.  It is LOADED with everything you need to get you through those first few weeks of school.  What I love about this pack is that it incorporates picture books with the included activities.  There are sorts, writing templates, posters, mini-books, crafts, games, worksheets, and much, much more.  Everything is developmentally appropriate for first grade.  Many parts of this pack are appropriate for kindergarten and second grade as well!  There's a reason this gem is a top-seller in my store! 

Included is a list of suggested books to correlate with some of the activities.  I've linked them all in my Amazon shop HERE (affiliate link), but before I actually owned them, I requested them at my local library and borrowed them for free.  My teammates do that, as well.  

I hope you'll take a moment to check out this incredible resource in my TPT shop!  See what others are saying below.



Wednesday, July 7, 2021

6 Tips for Classroom Organization

Hello friends, and happy summer, for those of you on break!  I have been out for about a five weeks now and it's been glorious!  We took a trip to Florida and I've been spending a lot of time catching up with friends.  I'm trying to relax as much as possible this summer, but work will be sprinkled in, of course!  Which leads me to today's blog post:  "6 Tips for Classroom Organization."  We are not allowed into our school during the summer months, but I know many of you are.  I have seen some teachers working in their rooms already this summer!  I'm hoping that today's post will help inspire you with your organization journey!  Enjoy my top tips!

Let's face it: containers are expensive!  However, in my opinion, purchasing high-quality containers that will stand the test of time is a much better investment than purchasing cheap $1 containers that break after one year of use.  I've been there and done that.  Clear containers allow you and your students to see what's inside.  This allows everyone to find what they need quickly!  Personally, my favorite containers are the following:

Sterilite Latch Boxes-I love these for storing curriculum supplies and recess toys.  In terms of curriculum, I sort materials by skill and use the skinny latch boxes for skills I have a small amount of materials for.  For recess toys, I use these to store puzzles, animal figures, markers, Play-Doh tools and more.  They stack so easily and the lids are easy for little hands to take off and put on.  *These boxes come in a variety of sizes and latch colors.

Sterilite 16 qt. Storage Boxes-These are also fantastic (and a much better price-point) for storing curriculum materials.  I store heavier first grade skill content (think addition/subtraction, place value, sight words, etc) because I have many supplemental materials for them!  *The lids on these boxes are white.  Grab my skill tub labels by clicking the cover image below.

Sterilite Flip-Top Clear Boxes-These are great for manipulatives.  I have a whole cabinet full of these and each container holds a different Math manipulative.  The flip top lids are awesome!  The Math manipulative labels are from Cara Carroll.

Iris File Boxes-These large boxes are great for placing hanging file folders housing materials inside of them.  I use mine for holiday/theme materials.  I have one for every month and place games, centers, art projects, etc...that pertain to the month inside.  

Knowing how to organize your classroom materials can be overwhelming!  Store like-items together so you can quickly find what you're searching for.  Keeping materials that focus on a specific skill together will make it simple for you to grab what you need when planning a lesson. Personally, I love having separate tubs for my holiday materials as well, so as a holiday or special day approaches,  I can grab my tub and not forget to use what I have.

Label all the things!  If you're lucky enough to have cabinets in your room, stick labels on the outside of them so you're not opening every single cabinet when searching for something.  Label your bins.  Label your student supplies.  Hello, print-rich classroom!  Use large and clear font so you can see what's in your bins from afar.  There are TONS of great labels in a variety of fonts, colors, and patterns on TPT. 

Let's face it: many teachers are hoarders!  Hahaha!  We just can't pass up a good deal or something spotted on social media.  In the moment, the purchase sounds great, but after it sits in a cabinet for 3 years, we regret ever buying it.  Although it seems wild, purging your classroom every.single.year is well worth it and will make you feel so much better!  Laying out everything you have and looking through it is a great strategy.  I like to ask myself the "Have I used this in the past 2 years?" question.  If the answer is "No," it's not going back into my container/cabinet.  Making room for what you actually use will help you find things quickly and an added bonus is that you'll most likely feel much less stressed!  Clutter and excessive "stuff" can be overwhelming to many people.  

Most schools have a "free table" in their lounge.  Someone may want your purged items.  *If  YOU are the one putting the stuff on the table, you better not take anything!  Garage sales, FB marketplace, and Ebay are great ideas in case you wish to make a few bucks off your items.

Digital vs. paper is definitely a personal choice!  I've used binders, file folders, and bins.  I am a combo of both.  It's great to reference a hard copy of something when I pull a skill or holiday bin.  I am also a digital hoarder, so it's difficult for me to remember what I have!  Regardless of what you choose, having a digital backup is a great idea.  Cloud services and/or external hard drives are fairly inexpensive and so worth it!

Not everyone is uber organized and that is perfectly fine!  However, if you take small steps to work towards improving your organization, you'll notice that it becomes habit.  One small step you can take is to put items back shortly after use...This could be during the day while your students are working, during your plan time, or at the end of each day after students have left.  I keep a bin on my back counter that's labeled "to file" and it houses anything I couldn't put away immediately.  I try to empty it once a week.

I hope you found this post helpful!  Happy Organizing!