Monday, May 25, 2015

End of the Year Part 3

 I am officially on summer vacation, but I know many of you still have days or even weeks to go... sorry #not sorry.  This is my part 3 and final portion of my end of the year posts.  If you are interested in reading here are links to Part 1 and Part 2.  Just a quick recap: for the last 10 days of school we did a balloon pop countdown.  This was my first year doing this type of countdown.  I previously taught K and we counted down the last 26 days to go along with the alphabet - A to Z and then only did fun things the last 10 days.  Here are the details on our final four days of the year!  

Day 4 was No Papers Day!  This should have been called No Worksheets day.  I planned a day full of hands on, engaging, and academic activities!  We played a spelling review game using the resource list I have utilized all year.
I saw this idea on pinterest and tweaked it a bit for my classroom.  I printed enough copies for my class and one for myself.  My copy I simply wrote a fact specific to each student and only that student.  Some I had were: "shares a middle name with Mrs. Evans" "races dirt bikes" "has a March birthday" etc. I cut my spaces apart to be used as the cards.  Then the kids wrote each students' name on a space.  We used my name too so it would be 20 spaces.
The smile on the faces when the class shouted their name was priceless.  This game was a lot of fun!!
For math we did a survey activity that I found for FREE from Shoelaces and Sugar Cookies!  You can find it in her TPT store by clicking on one of the pictures below.
 I demonstrated the directions of the activity then I distributed different surveys to the kids. It was more interesting not having the same survey!

 Day 3 was shaving cream day!!  No primary classroom can end their year WITHOUT putting shaving cream on our desks.  The kids reactions to the shaving cream are sooo funny.  We did some word work and then they got some time to free play with the cream.
Later in the afternoon we had fun with some parts of speech and math review.
This was a freebie sample from a larger pack compliments of The Classroom Key. You can grab the freebie in her store by clicking on the picture.
 This is one of my creations that is a fun way to review math skills with a summer theme!  This is another activity the kids love!  You can grab a copy by clicking the picture below to head to my TPT store!

Day 2 was field day!!  Our school only has field day for first grade and up.  Because I previously taught K, this was my first time running a game for field day. I found this idea on pinterest and made it work for us.  Sadly, I think I may have also jinxed field day because it was the coldest field day many of the veteran teachers can remember. My buckets of sponge letters were supposed to be filled with soapy water...I made the executive decision to cut out the water component.  Even without the water this game was extremely successful.  It also only cost less than $10!

Day 1 was autograph day! I really have no idea how the last day of school sneaked up sooo quickly, but we had A LOT going on and I didn't get a picture.  I usually purchase the kids an end of the year gift and wanted something new and creative. Each kid got a beach ball that I purchased off of Amazon 12 for about $9!!  They are $1 at dollar tree so cheap either way.  We rotated the beach balls around the room and everyone got to sign each other's beach balls.  Then of course we played inside for about 30 minutes and outside for about 15 minutes.  This was an AMAZING way to use our time the last day when the kids energy level is through the roof!  It was the perfect example of organized chaos.

Lastly, I wanted to share a great freebie I made to send home with the kids to try and prevent the summer slide!

Monday, May 18, 2015

End of the Year Part 2 {FREEBIES}

The end of the year countdown is no new thing, but I thought I would share with you some fun things we are doing and have included a few freebies along the way as well!
Free painting!! With the hustle and the bustle of school there is very little time to let the kids do creative projects.  I even had some asking "I can paint what ever I want?!"  It actually kind of made me sad that they are so over-directed.
Eat with the teacher day!!  This is one of the those days where you truly see how little it takes to please children.  They were ecstatic to eat together outside!
Ice cream day!!  I just told the kids there would have been a special treat....however....I think next year it would be fun to make up some clues to give throughout the day and have the kids make and revise predictions as we go along!
First Grade Fun Day!!  This is by far my most favorite day yet!  We made homemade play-dough...the ENTIRE FIRST GRADE!  We did some fun rotations where each class got to do an activity with each teacher.  Some tips I learned.....if you let the kids help add the ingredients you need at least 45 min. to an hour for this activity.  Without them doing the adding you can easily complete within 30 min.  Teach the kids to flatten their play-dough and then add a few drops of food coloring in a bowl-like fashion....this way most of the food coloring gets on the dough FIRST and not on their hands.  It will come off with multiple washes!
Click the pictures below for a FREE copy of our play-dough recipe!
Extra Recess!! I actually had a sub this day so I didn't snag any pictures but hey, we all know what recess looks like!
Bubble Day!!  After the play-dough, this is my second runner up for my most favorite day.  We did all things bubble!  
We had fun listening to POP by Meghan McCarthy and learned about how bubble gum was invented.  We then did a fact and opinion sort that was FREE from All Y'All Need!  Just click the pics below to take you to her TPT store and grab yourself a copy!
We also did some fun bubble art using black construction paper and pastels.  To top it all of we did bubble math using bingo daubers!  This is also a FREE download from Jessica Michele through her TPT store!  Click the picture to grab a copy!

Come back next week to see what else we are doing for our final week!

I leave you with another FREEBIE!  I made these quick gifts for my daughter's preschool teachers...she has five, so it is great on a tight budget!  Clicking the pictures will get you the link for the download!
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Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Worst Thing About Being a Teacher: End of the Year Part 1

I love my job.  I remind myself all the time how lucky I am.  How much I love the kids.  The true passion I have for creating lessons that include deep thinking and engagement.
But, do you want to know the ABSOLUTE worst thing about 
being a teacher.........
I spent my first year doing a long-term subbing position for a maternity leave and I always described the day like a roller coaster.  As soon as the bell rang it was like we were running around crazy.  Some moments were full of joy, some were full of stress, and others were just plain queezy.  Even when you remember the stressful days, it is the joyful ones that keep you coming back for more.  You can't be naive though.  If you get back on there WILL be more queezy days and truthfully, you never know when they will happen.
But what everyday has in common is time.  It goes by so incredibly fast!  Sometimes I am ok with that and other times I am not.  The life of a teacher goes by way to fast.  I wish everyday there was more time to slow down and not have that constant gotta go, gotta go, gotta go pressure.
SIDENOTE: I am a complete type A person and often have to provide myself with some self talk, affirmation, and positivity so I don't overload.  
You can read about me here: 11 Things Every Type A Person Wants You to Know :) 

Here are some of my favorite quotes that help me cherish each day; at school, at home, and in my personal life. 
You may have another year to re-do that lesson, try that great new technique, or fix your behavior plan but for the kids there isn't another kindergarten, another first grade, another second grade.  They get one year.  One shot and I am determined to make it worth it.  I push myself to make each day enjoyable, memorable, authentic, and above all meaningful.
This one in particular helps me get through the hard days.  Nothing lasts forever.  Everyday has the same amount of hours, minutes, seconds.  In the same respect, it is good to remember on the good days.  The ones where you really get to enjoy the kids' company.  Laugh at their adorable personalities.  Share their toothless grins. 
The plate of a teacher is always full.  Especially if you lead several roles in your life.  We are always striving for do you balance it do you stay on top of it all.....the secret is.....YOU DON'T!  There is no balance...except for off balance.  You have to do what works best for now, this moment, and your students, or sometimes your own children.  The hardest part...willing to accept that if your heart is in the right place, no matter what else, then you made the right choice.  Take those teachable moments at all costs.  Foster relationships and encourage creativity.

With the end of the year approaching I hope we share some of these same thoughts, and if not, hopefully now we do.  

DISCLAIMER:  If you're wondering about the adorable daughter and my niece :)
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Friday, May 15, 2015

Letter Writing Unit

We completed our letter writing unit awhile ago and I am just now getting everything organized to share with you!  We usually focus on friendly letters and thank-you letters.  We started the unit writing a letter whole group on the whiteboard and talked about the different parts of a letter.  We have morning message everyday in the form of a letter so they are pretty familiar.  

The next day I wrote six letters that were all similar, but also different.  I cut apart the different parts of the letters; date, greeting, body, closing, and signature, to where I had one piece for each kid.  Then they had to find people who would complete their letter.  The good part is there really is no wrong answer, except having two dates, two closings, etc.  The kids got together and glued the letters back together and labeled the parts.
Because this happened just after spring break, my letters to them were mostly about what I did over the break.  So for their first friendly letter I had them write me back.  They were mostly excited to be able to use my first name!
After they wrote letters to me we talked about thank-you letters and things that we are thankful for.  We wrote a thank-you letter together and then we listed all the support staff in our school.  The kids each chose someone to write a thank-you letter to.  I didn't grab any pictures of them - - sorry!

To culminate we wrote a thank-you letter to our parents and mailed it from the school to their house.  Seeing the kids adorable, first grade handwriting on the envelopes was sooo cute!!  They loved sending mail from school.
We also wrote a friendly letter to another first grade class in Florida and was hoping they would send one back, but have yet to here from them.  One more week till school is out...maybe we will still get one.

Here is an INCREDIBLE resource where all my FREE letter writing printables came from!  

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