Saturday, June 29, 2013

Three Days, Four Dollar Trees!

As all you teachers know, the Dollar Tree is a great place to shop for school.  Well, I've been to four different Dollar Trees since Thursday!  On that day, I took my kids to visit my parents.  My folks live an hour northwest of my home, so we met up at a Culver's halfway between.  We talked, laughed, ate hamburgers, waited out a rainstorm, and then the kids and I headed back home, except that we passed a Dollar Tree before we got very far, and since there was a GameStop in the strip mall, my sixteen-year-old son was interested in stopping too.

I knew I wanted to get some type of big container for my "tables" (four desks pushed together) of students to put their scraps in, so I headed straight to the plastic container department.  I had seen another blog (can't remember/find it) where the kids used them... BRILLIANT!  I'm always teaching to the last minute of the day, and sometimes there is just NO TIME to pick up our cutting scraps.  My first year in first grade, the young man who cleaned my classroom for the district actually complained to his supervisor about me.  (Apparently it's the teacher's responsibility to pick up anything too big for the vacuum cleaner.)  OOPS!

Anyway, back to the plastic container department at the Dollar Tree:  So many colors!  So many shapes!  So many sizes!  I stood there FOREVER!  Here is what I finally decided on:

One set per table for projects that require cutting!

I also found these (4 in a pack) for our Top Dog classroom:
One per student to jot down ideas for writing.

My district follows Columbia Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, and they recommend a small notebook to jot down ideas for writing "small moments."  These will get passed out in October with a note to the parents explaining how I taught the students to use them.  They are kept in the students' guided reading bag that goes home every night.  That way, they go to and from school daily but can't fall out.  Putting them in folders did NOT work for me.

I got these three sets (8 per set) of cards, plus the set with the pug (that set is at school already).
I'm going to use them for birthday cards to my students.

I love dogs, which you may not have known, and the first dog my husband and I got as a married couple was a sweet puggy-wug named Peanut.  She was my baby!  She lived 13 glorious years.  Now we have two chihuahua rescue mutts.  What can I say?  My lap was cold without a dog, and the kids are WAY too big!  

Shammy and Trixie are VERY SMART!

Yes, I got more at the Dollar Tree!  You KNOW I did!  I also picked up four of these supply caddies for the "table" groups to share.
Why only four?  That's ALL I could find in this color! :(

If you have suggestions for how to use these for pencils, markers, crayons, glue sticks, etc., I'm all ears!  I was planning to label the students' supplies with their names and use this for storage, so kids aren't always digging in their desks.  See, at my school, one of the required school supplies EVERY YEAR is a clear plastic shoe box to keep art supplies neat in desks AND to carry art supplies to the art room once a week for instruction with our art teacher.  So usually the art box lid is UNDER the box, in the desk, and the kids can just lift the lid of the desk to reach in to grab what they need.  But there's a problem.  Some kids don't put things back in the box.  They just toss it into the desk.  I thought having a shared caddy out might prevent that.  Then when it's time for art, they will just pull their bag of crayons, colored pencils, markers, scissors, and glue stick out and put them in their clear shoe box to walk to art.  Does that sound silly?  It's only once a week, so I think it might be worth it.

For our school-wide theme of "Out of This World!" I found these, which have five of each shape in one package, which means 15 for $1.00.  You know what?  That deal is "Out of This World!"
Space-theme bulletin board decorations!

So, why did I visit four stores in three days?  Because when I got home with my "loot," I was showing my husband (yes, I know he won't be excited, but he loves me, so he looks and smiles), when I took the stack of six bowls apart and found that one of the bowls in the stack was cracked along the entire bottom!  Boo! Hoo!  Remember, this haul was from the Dollar Tree 30 miles away, on the way home from seeing my parents.  Should I drive 60 miles round trip to exchange a one dollar bowl?  No, there are tons of Dollar Trees in southeastern Wisconsin.  I'll just go to the one near my house and exchange it.  Except they didn't even carry those bowls.  In any color.  What now?  Wait until Saturday and stop at another one near the dermatologist's office after my daughter's appointment.  They didn't have them either.  OK, not a problem, we'll scoot off the highway on the way home and check another Dollar Tree.  NONE.  That makes four stores in three days, and I still need another bowl and two more caddies.  School doesn't start until September 1st around here.  Lots of time, lots of road trips, lots of Dollar Trees yet to be shopped.  Am I worried?  Goodness, no!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Word Wall Words

I've got several projects to work on this summer, and yesterday I took a look at the words I put on my word wall.  It seems that each year, I change how I choose them and use them.  For the last few years, I've been using the first 100 words on the Fry list of the most used words in writing.  The first year I used them, I organized them from shortest to longest, and introduced five words each week.  Last year my team and I decided to introduce the words in their order on the Fry list, most commonly used first, still in groups of five. We wanted all four of our classrooms have the same five words each week, as our classrooms often share twins.

Another issue, what to call these words?  We've been calling them NO EXCUSE words, with the thought that there is no excuse for spelling them wrong in your writing after learning them.  But, I know some teachers call them SNAP words, because you should be able to write them in a snap.  I think calling them No Excuse words is a bit negative, kind of harsh.  Snap words sounds positive and upbeat, so I'm going to ask my team if they'd be willing to rename them.

This year I'd like to go back to introducing the words from short to long, so that in the fall the kids are working on two-letter words with similar vowels, like in, it, if, is, instead of the, of, and, which are in the first five on the Fry list.   I have a set of word wall words that I bought as a set, and I keep them in an alphabetical accordion file.  I hate looking through all the words in each section for the five words for the week.  This year I'm going to buy a stack of 100 neon 3x5 cards and write them (with a wide sharpie marker in black) each week.  It will be SO MUCH  FASTER!  And since my word wall will be backed with black fabric, I think the words will really pop.

So I've rearranged the 100 words and made some word changes.  I took off the following words: number, water, oil, words, into, can, called.  I added:  me, should, why, house, friend, second, teacher, bus. 

Click here to view this google doc.

How do you choose word wall words?


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New on Bloglovin'

Hi all,

Bloglovin' tells me to put this in a new post to claim my blog on their site.  Since I'm such a newbie, I'm just going to give it a try.  Here goes:

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>



Hi everyone!  I am a first grade teacher from Wisconsin, and I've created this blog to share what's happening in my classroom with my teaching pals and bloggy buddies!  I have taught for over fifteen years, starting out in middle grades, where I thought fifth grade couldn't be beat, and then in first grade for the last seven years, where I have more fun than should be allowed :).   I was fortunate enough to take a seven year break when I became a mother.  Well, actually when my first child turned one, I took a one year leave of absence, and after that, resigned.   I have two children, a son who is 16 and a daughter who is eleven.  They are almost five years apart (both their bdays are in April).  I went back to work when my daughter was three and my husband's job was eliminated.  He became Mr. Mom for a year, and then began working part-time, which he still does.  Meanwhile, I got a job in fifth grade... for ONE year.   Then they needed me to move to first grade.  I was a bit nervous, but with my reading teacher's license, thought I could handle it.  Ha Ha!  And my principal said I could go back to fifth if I didn't like it.  So, I said I'd do it.

Well, I thought I'd die those first few months.  After fifth grade, it seemed like first graders couldn't do ANYTHING alone!  I don't think I really liked it until after Halloween, when they were becoming a bit more independent.  By January, I was hooked.  I laughed ALL THE TIME at the funny things they said and did.  And the hugs, let me tell you, the hugs are unbeatable!

Our school's mascot is the husky.  Last year, to help our introduction to PBIS, our PBIS team created a superhero husky named "Top Dog."  Hence the name of this blog.  Our phy ed teacher, a young man adored by all 500+ kids at our school, wore a headband with gray husky ears, a blue felt mask over his eyes, a blue cape with a red letter T on the back (electrical tape), and another T on his t-shirt.  The team made awesome videos to share with students about how Top Dog keeps his cubby neat and organized, uses a quiet voice in the bathroom, picks up his garbage in the lunchroom, raises his hand in class, etc.  You get the idea.  So this year I am going to do a lot of Top Dog work on my classroom.  I think the kids will love it!