10 Ideas to Survive Your First Week

We are all excited for school to start - we actually have trouble sleeping the night before just like our students.  I wonder who is more scared of the first day?

So how do we get through this first week?

1.  Reduce your caffeine intake so you can give sleeping a good chance!  I'm a night owl but I know I won't be able to function with all the problems that will hit me during the week and there will be many.  So get to bed at a reasonable time!  If you're like me, my brain has a hard time shutting down.  Keep a notepad by your bed (not your phone, you'll be tempted to Google!)

2.  Pack your lunch with healthy foods and waters.  My new favorites are carbonated flavored waters so I can feel like I'm having a soda!
I love the Pink Grapefruit!  Very refreshing!  I got them at Pick n' Save.

3.  Be Organized!
  • Get your desk the way you want it!
    • Have a place for everything!
  • Make your copies and put them in a daily organization bin.
  • I love when my closet is even organized!!  Love my paper organizers!
4.  Wear comfortable shoes!  You will thank me for this later!  

5.  Don't plan too much to do on the first day!  Everything will take longer than you think!  Start your day off light with with a get to know you activity.
    • Beach Ball Questions:  Write questions on the ball stripes such as What is your favorite color? What did you do this summer?  Tell us about your family.
    • M&M Buddies:   Put a few kids in a group with a card with a question for each color of the M&Ms.  After they answer the question they can eat that M&M.  You can do this with Skittles or Starbursts too.
6.  Bring a snack for the whole class.  Many will forget to bring one and this will help them get through the long day!  

7.  If you're as unfortunate as I am to not have air conditioning, it always seems to get hot when we go back to school!  Let the students have water bottles, get drinks and take extra bathroom breaks - you do not want unwanted accidents. 

8.  Reward them with an extra recess.  They will love it and you can see them in a different environment. Provide some fun outside toys like hula-hoops, Frisbees, sidewalk chalk and bubbles.

9.  Take time to go through the rules.  Keep it short and simple but repeat it throughout the week.
I love this video that a principal did.

10.  Leave on time to go home to your family, friends or pets!  Give your brain a break!  You deserve it - you have worked very hard!

Have a great week back!
Share your tips for a great week!

Little Priorities Classroom Reveal 2014

This is a view to the corner of my room from the door.  I would love to have the TV taken down but they have no place to store all the unwanted TVs.  The only time it is used is after school by my own children to watch cartoons.  In the corner is going to be my guided reading and math area.  I have all my tubs available with hands-on games and much more.  I'm very excited to have it all together.  I'm not as organized as some of our fellow bloggers but it works for me.
The tall white tubs hold all my math games.  The small basket on the floor is the overflow!  I just bought another one so I can add more!  The pink tubs came from Walmart.  They hold my reading games.  The other three tubs are where I put the weekly math games for students to go to during centers.  I try to differentiate these activities.  The names will be on colored slips once I evaluate the class.
 This is to the right of my table.  I have my guided reading books in bags by level with the teacher guide included.  Then I have all my wonderful Lakeshore games!  I got most of these from a Donor's Choose project last year.
 This is a problem area.  These are my literature books that I teach with.  Last year I put them in bags to keep the same subjects together such as plants or nouns.  Update... I organized my books by months, science, social studies and mentor texts.  I think this will help me be able to find a book quicker!

Here are some of my math manipulatives.  I am in need of new labels!!

On the back of my guided reading cart I added pocket charts with velcro.  I am going to use this area during guided reading to make sentences and store their sight words.  Students will be able to remove the words to take to their desks.

 I love the pink and green together.  It's so cheery!  The baskets above were all from Dollar Tree.  I love that that the paper baskets are large enough for folders.  Currently they are holding everything I need to pass out to them the first week.  On the side are my new group supplies.  I haven't tried this for over 15 years so we'll see how it goes.  I'll keep you updated!

This is the back of my Writing Cart.  I have their sight words on rings.  Students use these to practice their words while playing games that I designed.  These words correlate to the Treasures Reading series.  Our district has also added in words that were not in the series.  All the words are introduced and need to be secure by second grade.  If you would like the set click here!  I will put the current game in the baskets.  They are hanging on peg board clips.  These were from Walmart for $1.  They had a lot of different colors. Update...my baskets keep falling off the hook!  I'll need a new and better idea.

These were also from Walmart.  They are holding the math tool kits for each table group.  I may also put their binders in here.

Finish "I'm Done" activities.  I purchased this from Miss Kindergarten Love.  I ran off all the copies in advance and put them in this file box so it's easy for me to change out when needed.  I love the file folder label stickers.  So much easier than those old plastic ones and trying to slide the label in!
Anchor Chart Holder:  This is a curtain rod I got from the Salvation Army for $1.  I used command strip clips.  I put it right on the fabric.  I then added four staples around it so it doesn't pull out.  This will help me have access since I don't have wall space to hang them.  Next to it is a pocket chart for vocabulary words for the week.
 I started using this board last year but I am going to be adding to it and using it from the start. Labels are from Mrs. Rhodes and the original idea and trees are from Dandelions and Dragonflies.  I'll probably need to add more trees but it's a start.
I'm going to be using this book:
Prefixes and Suffixes Resource Book
Click book for link.  It uses word walls and making words.  It's written for grades 3-5+.  However, I do not feel it is inappropriate for my firsties.  

Here's a photo wall of my children.  I need to put updated photos in the frames!  I should probably add my husband too! XXOO

These are my student mailboxes.  I've had them for awhile as you can tell my the remnant of labels.  Now look at it with duck tape over the labels!  Wahoo!  I tried Wasshi Tape first but it was see-through.

My desk
 I covered my icky mouse pad with fabric a year ago and it's holding up great!  I got a new fridge!  I'm so excited to have cold drinks available and a place to store some healthy snacks like cheese etc...
Window behind my desk!   
I love my new valance!!  I bought coordinating fabrics of pink and green.  I used my quilt fabric cutter to cut the fabric into 1.5 inch strips.  I bought curtain rods from GoodWill and my wonderful daughters tied them to the rods.  I used Command Strip Hooks to hang the rods so I can take them with me if I move rooms.    I've gotten a lot of comments from staff!  They look so cute!

View of my classroom from my desk.  My awesome 12 year old daughter helped me put all the name tags on!  She was so helpful.

My reading corner!  I wish all my baskets matched but I guess the books inside them are what's important!  My two daughters took my old beanbags that had rips and put the beans in the flat beanbags!  It was quite a mess - I'm glad I had them do it outside!!

 Word Work!  Love my pocket chart!  It's from Lakeshore!  I love that store!!
 I'm having the parents and students take a tour through the room on Back to School Night!

This bulletin board is outside my classroom.  Each student has their own spot where I have a tack.

We're going to have a WILD Year!!

 I wish you all a fantastic and productive year!


Before School Sale!!!!!!


Clip Chart Clips

 Sorry this photo is so fuzzy.  I was taking a photo of my new clips.  I decided to use numbers on my clips instead of names so I don't have to keep redoing them.  This will be a big time saver.  I also use numbers on my mailboxes.  Here is a photo but I'm planning on fixing up my mailboxes.  Wait for an update!

I clipped them to the top of a paper box and used spray paint that I already had in the basement!  After they dried I used Sharpie permanent markers that have a brush to draw on polka dots.  I tried a regular Sharpie and the color did not show up as well.  These are smudge and water resistant too. I did this to both sides and I added the numbers to both sides too.

Meet the Teacher Blogger Linky

I'm a veteran teacher now!  Boy how time flies!  I've been teaching for 21 years.  I taught kindergarten Title 1, special education for 5 years, second grade for 1 year and the rest has been in first grade!  I also teach for the University of Wisconsin - Whitewater in the EC program!  

I've also been married for 21 years to my soul mate!  We have 5 wonderful children that keep us extremely busy!

This is the most recent photo taken in Wyoming with our best friend, Julie! We've adopted her too! :)

Q: These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
Christian Music
Scrapbooking when I can

Q: If You Weren't a Teacher, What Would You Be?
Author - I love to write.  I've been published for a little article but I'd love to write a children's book!  Blogging fills that niche!

Q: Three Little Words That Describe You

On Bad Days when I wish my children were back in school!!!!: 
Frustrated, Grumpy, Impatient

On most days: Caring, Dedicated, Creative

Q: Finish This Sentence, "________, Said No Teacher Ever!!
"Please give me the new student, Said No Teacher EVER!"

Q: It's Your Birthday And You Can Invite Anyone To The Party. Who Are You Inviting?
I could ask famous people but in all honesty I would rather just spend time with my family!

Q: If Someone Wrote a Book About Your Life, What Would Be the Title?
It's Time to Leave the Building, Mrs. M

Q: You Get To Pick One Superpower. What Is It?
Could I make up a superpower to control children behavior?

Q: What's Your Favorite Quote?
You didn't grow under my heart but in it!

Q: If You Had to Sing One Song On American Idol, What Would It Be?

Blessings by Laura Story 
Overcomer by Mandissa

Q: Are You a Morning Person or Night Owl?

Both - but I prefer nights!

Q: What's Your Favorite Resource You've Created?

 I developed this plant unit and my brother made the Mr. Potato Head pieces!  I just love his work!  You can either purchase the whole unit or just the the pieces!

Q: Share Something We Might Not Know About You!

I'm going to try to stop drinking soda!  Ahhh what am I thinking?
I'm going to need help, strength and prayers to get through this.


A Peek into my day!

I completed my schedule for the year.  I'm trying something new.  If you look at the end of the schedule I posted the times for my reading block.  I'm not going to do mini-lessons.  I do not feel very effective with this method.  I'm hoping to get more in depth with the comprehension with a larger amount of time.

Click to get this document for free in

How do you break your reading block up?

House Rules! and How do you follow?

When we went to a ranch a few weeks ago in Wyoming these were the rules posted in the barn.
I believe these make excellent House Rules!  So I retyped them for the house!
Click on it to get it for your house!

Question:  How do you follow your favorite blogs?

I've been using Google+ myself and I'd like to know what most do.  Leave a comment!

Book Boxes

I love my book boxes.  I bought these from Really Good Stuff three years ago.  They are holding up very well.  They should for the price!  I love the colors!    

This year I numbered all the boxes rather than write their name on the box label.  That way I won't have to do it again next year!  Time Saver!  

This is what I put in their book boxes.
1) Phonics Phone 
  • Red ones are from Lakeshore Learning. I had a Donor's Choose project and had them donated to me.
  • PVC pipe
    • One large elbow
    • Two piece hooked together

2) Reader's Bag - 
  • Popsicle Stick for pointing.
  • Highlighter Plastic Bookmark
  • Retelling Hand Card
  • Somebody... Wanted...But...So...Then... Anchor cards on a ring (Smekens)
  • Index card with highlighter tape and post-it notes
3) Large Ziplock bag to hold paper readers that they get during small group.

4) Of course - Books!  I let them have 8 books at a time.  I have to monitor this.  They love to collect books! Especially if they are the new books or book of the week!

Free All About Me Booklet Page

I love making student books full of their own writing.  They are the most read books in the classroom library! I start out the year by making the first book about themselves.  After each child fills it out we attach their first day in First grade photo.  They choose their favorite color to mount it to.  I laminate each page and bind into a book.

To get your own click the worksheet.

 I've been making these books every year for over 15 years!  Some sadly have been so well read that I no longer can put them out for the kids to look at.  They love reading about their friends or siblings that used to be in my class.  They bring it up to me and say, "Did you know "Jane" was in your class too!"  So Cute!

The cover has the class picture.  Our pictures have changed over the year.  It used to be a snapshot.  I would then include a list of all the student names.  Now we get a composite photo with the names already on it.
I use a picture either I have taken or their class photo.  This pink one is about to go to the archives!

Have fun starting a long lasting memory!

Here are some things that you may find helpful to start your year out!
 Fun Game -  They'll ask to play again!
 Fun charts - put them on their desks or board.
 For the must needed data collection!

 Sight Word Games! A Big Hit in my Room for Word Work Time!

Great Homework for sight words!

Lots of goodies to help you out!
 Extra practice for the hard to teach Number Stories!

Attach the pencil bookmark to every desk.  A great reminder!
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