Organization Tips

Something that I always struggle with is classroom organization.  Like most teachers, I just have SO MUCH STUFF!  Today I stumbled upon Ladybug's Teacher Files and I loveee it!

Kristen has tons of inexpensive and ingenious storage and organization ideas like this white board holder.  She made it out of a magazine rack and two kitchen storage bins from Target.  I love how it keeps everything in one place!

Another amazing organization idea is her Leveled Book Bins and Labels.  I am sure that those kids know exactly where every single book belongs, and plus it is adorable!


On Friday, a little boy came running over to me during center time.  He had been sitting with a group of friends building habitats for small plastic ocean animals.  Very upset, he said "Ms. P!  So-and-So called me a sucker!"

I called So-and-So over and asked him why he was being mean to his friend.  His eyes filled up with tears and he explained "I.. was... just... talking... about... the things on the octopus' arms that help him catch his food!"  So cute!  I comforted the poor little guy and we had an impromptu lesson in octopus body parts.

Great Contest from 1st Grade with Miss Snowden!

You can win a super cute personalized classroom door hanger AND

a fabulous Jelly Bean math unit from Erica Bohrer!

All you have to do is
1.  Follow Miss Snowden's blog.
2.  Follow Erica's Blog and her TPT Store (which is packed full of amazing resources!).
3. Post the Contest on your blog.
4. Leave a comment for each step you do!

The contest ends this Wednesday, so hurry up and enter!

Cleaning the Classroom

Okay... I'll admit it.  Cleaning is one of my least favorite ways to spend my time, especially when I'm at work.  But it is so important to keep my classroom clean for the little ones.  Of course we have a custodian to sweep and vacuum at nighttime, but there are still quite a few things that we do ourselves.  Here are some of my favorite easy and disposable classroom cleaning products:

Swiffer Mops
 These can be used dry to clean up dust and hair, or wet to clean dirty floors.  They are great for "accidents" that the little ones might have because you just throw it right into the trash when you are done.  You can find Swiffer coupons here.

Cleaning Wipes

I love any kind of cleaning wipes because you just grab, clean and toss it out.  These Clorox green works wipes are compostable and smell great, so you don't even have to feel guilty at all about tossing them in the trash when you are done.  You could even do a little science experiment about composting!

Baby Wipes

Okay, so are you picking up on a theme here?  Quick, easy and disposable is what it's all about!  Baby wipes are great because they are safe for kids to use, too.  We have rest time every day in my classroom, and the kids use these to clean their mats on the days when I am not disinfecting them.  They also grab a baby wipe when they spill their snack, or make a mess at the art center.  You can never have enough baby wipes on hand!

I would love to know... 
What is your favorite classroom cleaning product? 

Skittles Math

I found this awesome Skittles Math activity at Erica Bohrer's blog. It has been one of my math centers this week and of course, the kids love it!  Who wouldn't love eating candy during math time?  I used the sorting mats and graphing page, and skipped the graphing questions page as a modification. I was surprised how naturally they grasped the concept of sorting and graphing their skittles.  I was also shocked that nobody gobbled their skittles up before they graphed!  After we ate up our skittles, we discussed the concepts of most and least, and compared and contrasted the graphs.  This is definitely an activity I will be doing again next year.

Quick and Easy Dinner Recipes for Busy Teachers

Let's face it... teaching is EXHAUSTING.  Some nights when I finally get home it seems almost impossible to make dinner.  That's why I was so excited to stumble across 6 weeks of recipe ideas from Kevin and Amanda.  Planning this far in advance seems a little nuts, but it could save tons of time!  I picked out some of my favorite quick, easy and heathyish recipes from this website and others to share.

 These porkchops were SO yummy!  I served it with a salad and the microwave mashed potatoes from the site.  I will definitely be making this again.

I loved both of these.  I made a double batch of the chicken nuggets to freeze and microwave later on.  They are so yummy with honey mustard or ranch dressing.  Unfortunately, "Mr. P" was not crazy about the chicken nuggets ("too vegetabley") but he loved the green bean fries.  I made those with seasoned salt instead of regular salt.  Yum!

 I made this ham exactly as the recipe says, except that I threw a bunch of new potatoes and baby carrots in the bottom of the pot.  It was delicious!  With the leftovers, I made...

Serve this with some rolls and salad... you'll love it.

Substitute Binder

This super cute Substitute Binder is a free download from Teachers Pay Teachers.  There are sections for lesson plans, procedures, etc and a great "While You Were Out" sheet.  What a quick, cute and easy way to organize sub plans!  

Disaster Relief for Japan

For every $5 that you donate, Living Social will donate $10 to the American Red Cross' relief efforts in Japan.  What a great way to double your donation, and you could even use this as an opportunity to teach your students about helping others.

Laura Numeroff Giveaway

Made for 1st Grade is doing a great Laura Numeroff unit giveaway.  You can enter here.  Anyone who knows me knows that I am completely obsessed with Laura Numeroff.  I have ALL of her books and did an author study project on her last year for grad school.  Good luck!

More Seuss

We just wrapped up the last of our super fun Dr. Seuss activities.  I made a quick and easy rhyming game using Cat in the Hat cutouts from the local teacher store for about $4.  I printed out some cute, colorful rhyming pictures from Mailbox Magazine online (but you could very easily make your own!), glued them to the back of the hats and laminated them.  Voila!  A super easy and fun rhyming game that the kids were crazy for.

We used it as a memory game.  Each child flipped over two hats.  If they got a rhyming pair, they kept the pair.  Not only does this teach rhyming, but it works on memory, turn taking and strategy as well.  You could also use these rhyming hats for writing prompts, creating your own silly Seuss sentences and more!


This is how our Cat in the Hat self portraits turned out... very cute, if I do say so myself!  I did a mini-lesson on drawing a face using multicultural colored pencils and crayons.  Then the kids drew themselves, and added a hat and a bowtie.  The sign above the display says "Oh, the faces you'll meet without leaving your seat!"  (This idea is from What the Teacher Wants).

You can download the sign here.  The font I used is Oh {Photo} Shoot.  Unfortunately it will not stay formatted in this document.

Dr. Seuss

Management Monday

Rachelle from What the Teacher Wants does a great segment called Management Monday with great tips for classroom management.  I totally fell in love with her idea for organizing guided reading groups.  On the inside of a guided reading folder she has a sticker for each reading level, with a strip of fuzzy velcro beneath it.  She then printed out each student's name and put a piece of rough velcro on the back.  This way, each time a child moves up a reading level, it only takes two seconds to change it, and adjust your guided reading groups if needed.  I love it!

She also has a great motivator called the Handwriting Fairy.  Be sure to check it out... it's SO cute!

What Lives in Water?

My kids have science twice a week as a "special."  During science yesterday, our fabulous science teacher Ms. R asked the little ones "What kind of animals live in water?"

One boy replied "baby beavers!'  A friend sitting beside him, very excitedly yelled out "And JUSTIN Beaver!"  SO cute, but I guess that we have a little schema building to do to distinguish a small creature from a teen popstar.

Messages from Dr. Seuss

We are celebrating Dr. Seuss this week, and reading a different Seuss book each day.  The kids have been thrilled to come in each morning to find that Dr. Seuss has snuck in at nighttime to write them a morning message.  Of course, the kids were dying to know how the message got there.  One theory is that he crawls out of his favorite books at time.  Why?  Because he's magic!  Another theory is that our life sized Cat in the Hat poster on the door comes to life at night, just like the toys in Toy Story. 

 We read this message together several times, sounding out words that we did not know.  Afterwards, the children identified and circled the rhyming words.  Then we made a list of all of the words in the "at" family.
 For this morning message, we read each sentence twice.  Then the kids thought of silly rhymes for each sentence.  They wrote the words on the blank with the whole class helping to sound out each word.  They thought it was super funny to write there is a star in my car, etc. 

We used this morning message to practice sight words, rhyming and to make connections to the text while building fluency.  I think that interactive writing is one of the best things you can do with Kindergartners, so I love this activity and they did too.  Next time I will have to remember to take an "after" picture!

Mr. Mix-Up

My favorite part of our math curriculum is Mr. Mix-Up, a lovable moose puppet who is always mixed up.  The kids giggle as soon as he comes out, because they know he will make a very silly mistake and they will get to correct him.  For example, when counting Mr. Mix-Up often says 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11 and the kids go wild.  He also has trouble with his shapes, patterns, colors, counting manipulatives... you name it!  I love this activity because it helps the children see common mistakes and enhances metacognition in a way that is fun and meaningful.

A few weeks ago we went on a great field trip to the Museum of Science.  In the "New England Habitats" wing, they were delighted to see an enormous stuffed moose on display.  "MS. P, COME QUICK!"  they yelled.  "WE FOUND MR. MIX-UP's DADDY!"  How cute is that?  Now, every time Mr. Mix-Up comes out during math, they ask him how often he gets to visit his Dad at the museum, and if Daddy Moose could ever come visit the classroom.

Horton Hatches an Egg

I just saw this super cute Horton peekover from Finally in First.  You can download the elephant pattern from the link.  I made my own writing prompt that is a little more appropriate for my K1 students.  I can't wait to do this activity with my little ones!