Saturday, January 17, 2015

Bright Idea {Sit, stand...what's YOUR plan?}

Welcome to the very 1st Bright Idea Hop of the new year! How are ya?


We returned to school from Christmas break just two short weeks ago. The first thing we did was review routines and procedures, so I thought I’d share a quick classroom management tip! Have kids that struggle to sit in their chairs? Ants in their pants? Just can’t sit still….need to move? Then this is the bright idea for YOU!


Ever get that question from any of your students? I do….all.the.time! My answer? YES!!! If standing is more comfortable for you, then by all means… yourself! Not every kid is comfortable sitting in a hard chair or even wants to sit at all, lol! Rather than fight kid energy, I try to incorporate it into learning as much as humanly possible. My kids have a great deal of choice in their learning and being able to decide how they can best work comfortably is one of them. Sit, stand, lay on your tummy….as long as you’re being productive and not infringing upon another friend’s space, you’re free to decide how you’ll position your body for independent learning.

Side note: Adults entering the classroom should be forewarned to watch their step, there will be kids hard at work…..EVERYWHERE! LOL! =)


Having more than one type of seating also offers options. We have several different types of seating in our classroom too! Our ‘Read to Self’ chairs are GREAT for students who need to bounce and move while learning! I’ll take them bouncing and learning anytime over interrupting the lesson because of behavior. When we need to spread out, I split the class between the tables and the floor. Students understand that working away from a traditional seat does not equal play time. It’s designed to provide comfort in order to do quality work.


…and if you were to walk into our classroom and actually find us working at tables, students also have the freedom to choose where they will sit, depending upon what we’re working on. The choice gives them the feeling of being in control of their learning. It also makes for a happy teacher, because they’re busily going about the business of becoming independent learners in the way they’re most comfortable. Win. Win!

Students need to stand? Let them! Need to wiggle? Consider novelty chairs that will allow them to do so. Love the cool of the floor? Enjoy! Choice leads to engagement. Comfort leads to focus….=)

If you liked this bright idea consider following here, on the blog, or join me on Facebook or Instagram for more ideas to spark creativity and imagination.  For more bright ideas from a variety of awesome bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Five for Friday {First Week Back}

Hi Friends! How are ya? Did you have a great first week back at school? My kiddos and I had a busy week of review and catch up! We were all a hot.sick.mess during the weeks leading up to Christmas… we had to use our first week back to and CATCH UP! And by golly, I think we’ve done it!


I’m linking up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching to share our faves from this past week.

We skip counted through the week in math! Notice the typo on the 5’s chart? Ugh! Not sure what we were thinking…thank goodness for my eagle-eyed team mate! It’s all fixed scribbled over to say in instead of is now. When you teach syllabication in the morning, and skip counting in the afternoon…..BEWARE….you may end up with big words on your math anchor chart! =)

Simply [rote] skip counting is of days past. Now, our standards call for skip counting sets of objects….the day we worked on counting by 5’s we each traced our hands and lined them up across the carpet to count sets of 5 little fingers! Kiddos loved how long the line was and were utterly amazed when they discovered how many fingers there are in our classroom! After we counted them, 3 students worked together to label each of the hands in order beginning with 5 before I hung them up to use as a reference.


This week, Smart Art began on Thursday. What we were going to do, would take some time….so it just couldn’t wait all the way until Friday.

I absolutely LOVE using the book The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall to teach how the changing seasons effect plants. After reading it and discussing what happened to the apple pie tree during each season, we worked to illustrate what we had learned. As much as I love sharing an awesome book, I love tying in art even more…

On Thursday we worked to cut, glue, and draw details to illustrate winter and spring. On Friday, we flipped our little foldable over to illustrate summer and autumn.


The wonkiness of kids’ work adds character. No patterns were provided. I like seeing their personalities shine through their work. Each kiddo started with a blank sheet of paper and a model projected on the whiteboard as a guide to get started. Though we were all illustrating the seasons, each and every tree, leaf, and apple are unique because they were given creative control of the work they’d produce. Lots of happy smiles were seen among the mess of clips and snips of paper all over the room!


Wanna peek inside? After giving summer and autumn a little time to dry, we opened them up to prep for next week. One of our performance assessments is to observe and record the weather over the course of a week. Last week….seasons. Next week….weather. We’ll use our little foldable to record the weather and relative temperature each morning. On Thursday, during our normal science lesson, we’ll read Gail Gibbons’ Weather Words and illustrate the vocabulary. Lastly, students will illustrate their favorite type of weather!

Creating a display type foldable added a little novelty to our work. Foldables shouldn’t have to always be flat! I love using them, BUT I don’t want my kiddos to get bored with them by continuously using the same kind all the time. They watched me prep this one for them and absolutely couldn’t wait to get their hands on it!

Will your little meteorologists be making observations about the weather soon? Click HERE to grab the mini-pages we’ll be using. Check out some of the books and resources we’ll be using below!

Happy weather watching!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Holiday Flashback {I should be planning…}

Hi, Friends! How are ya?  It’s a c-c-c-c-cold, rainy day in our neck of the woods, so I THOUGHT I’d sit down to get a jump on planning for the first week back at school. Notice…I said, I THOUGHT……I’ve been staring at a blank screen for over an hour. If I look at it long enough, I’m sure plans will just jump onto the page, right? Mmmmm…wrong, so maybe a little happy flashbacking will get me in the mood to move forward. Wanna join me?


As we moved into the holiday season, all I could think of was having the time to enjoy working with my kiddos in a little more of a relaxed fashion. Music, fun, crafts and lots of memory making. This little project was one of our Thanksgiving favorites…

Anytime a craft is planned, I try to think of what I can do to help my kiddos be successful. In order to get these placemats made, I used a ruler to pre-draw the lines for them to cut through so they’d just have to concentrate on cutting and weaving the mats. Snip, snip, snip…..stop (at the line). Snip, snip, snip…..stop (at the line). Weaving the mats took quite a bit of concentration! The best part of making these mats and memories was having our AP’s come in to make one with us too. At our school, we have 2 and they’re both pretty awesome!


After reading to learn about the very first Thanksgiving, students wrote to share facts…..listened and followed directions to draw Squanto. Didn’t they do a great job?


Just as quickly as Thanksgiving, came….it went. And THEN?! Then, it was time for the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season. This year, we spread lots of gingerbread love throughout the entire 3 weeks leading up to the break. These activities were included in my little Gingerbread Literacy packet.


Homophones were a hit! I don’t know what it is about learning about them….my son talked about homophones for years after he completed 1st grade! Long after this lesson was done, my kiddos were still identifying homophones in stories and activities!


Parent gifts left our whole hallway smelling yummy! We used equal parts of cinnamon and apple sauce to create quick, simple dough ornaments for our parents. It was a LOT of fun to watch kiddos create these as a culmination of our gingerbread story week. It didn’t require any big measurements, just two plastic cups filled to the same point….mix, kneed, and cut. That’s it! Oh, and let them dry for a few days…. =)


Love is in the details…, we added a little touch of  love by sending them home packaged in a bag decorated to look like Rudolph. When we ran out of bags, unexpectedly, we folded a sheet of brown construction paper into a cone, flattened it and stapled it together to package the remaining ornaments….love my creative kiddos! Necessity is the mother of invention, right? =)


Week 2 brought about a little positive behavior incentive…..On Monday of that week, students completed an Elf Application. Our friendly, classroom Elf on the Shelf took them to the North Pole that night. As he returned each day, he posted 3 or 4 of them on our classroom door that Santa had picked to be elves. Students were selected to be an “elf” for the day to spread Christmas cheer by helping in the classroom and delivering Christmas RAKS to friends around our school. They absolutely LOVED it and couldn’t wait to see who would be selected as the Elves of the Day each morning as they entered the classroom. It was a GREAT behavior incentive that helped to control the chaos of those last two weeks!


Gingerbread Day was just too sweet! What’s to say….they had a great time making their houses!


Thanks for taking this quick trip down Memory Lane with me…I think I’m ready to get to planning now. I’ve really enjoyed the break! I wonder what my kiddos are doing?

Interested in seeing more of what we did leading up to the break? How about our elf shenanigans? You can find more fun in pictures on Instagram. While you're there...follow! I share more pictures there that may not always make it onto the blog.

Alright, alright....I'm gone...back to planning {maybe}. =)


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