Saturday, July 28, 2012

First Day Jitters Blog Hop

We all know that feeling. It's super early on the the first day of school (or the night before), and you are double checking everything on your list (and frankly remembering all the things not on your list if you are anything like me!) and your stomach is doing somersaults. Your throat tightens slightly and you look around and realize,

"Oh goodness! It's really the first day of school!"

In less than half and hour you will be bombarded with children, parents, school supplies, and paper work.

Are you ever completely ready for the first day of school?

Never. I have done first days of school for 7 years (I missed one due to changing jobs) and I have never seen it as just another day. Have you?

I am joining up with Ashley at Fierce in Fourth to add my two cents to her First Day Jitters Blog Hop and give the top three things that make me extra jittery for the beginning of this school year.

Fierce in Fourth

Here are my Top Three Jitters!

ONE -  Last year I had 28 students for almost have the year and very little assistance (I teach kindergarten mind you and they still need so much support, so I saw the situation as ridiculous) and I am afraid that the same thing will happen again. Frankly, I am still burnt out from last year's crop I don't know if I will handle it as well as I did last year.

TWO -  That I will never get my centers running in a way that truly works. I had so many issues with centers last year (the kids hated them, there were so many of them and I did not have enough materials, I had to fulfill certain criteria for centers imposed by my region, etc.) Everything that could make centers complicated happened to me last year.

THREE - That I will over do everything. I love extras! I am the queen of too much when it comes to decorating, planning, and expectations. This year I am hoping to curb that instead of enhacing it.

If anyone has any advice to calm my jitters please add it below! :/ 

Don't forget to join this excellent blog hop!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Hand Stitching and Another Lovely Award

I must be slightly nuts! I decided that I hated the ugly green curtains on a shelf I have at work so I should make new ones. Sounds simple right....well I also decided not to go for hot gluing (which is my tool of choice for fabric) and am hand stitching them... in the middle of the night....
Oh my lordy....and before you ask, well why aren't you using a sewing machine maybe I should give you some background about me and sewing machines. We don't click. I have had three different people attempt to teach me to use one and all I end up doing is wasting fabric and breaking the machine so when I sew, I sew by hand.

Since I think I am nuts for hand hemming curtains in the middle of the night I decided to take a break and give some over due thanks.

Being in the blogging world is definitely rewarding. I received a lovely blog award from two very lovely bloggers: Jackie at Crazy Daze in First Grade and Miss Pasqua at Miss Pasqua's Kinder. Thank you so very much for thinking of me for this award.
Here are the guidelines:
1. Follow the person who gave you the award
2. Link back to the person that gave you the award
3. Pass the award on to 15 people
Here are my awardees:

4. 1...2...3.. Teach With Me
5. The Silver Lining
6. Miss Kindergarten
7. Peace, Love and First Grade
8. Chalk Talk
9. A Cupcake for the Teacher
10. Just Wild About Teaching
11. Life in First Grade
12. Kindergarten is a Hoot
13. Sharing Kindergarten

(I know I am supposed to pick fifteen but once I started writing this blog I got sidetracked for hours reading through all these and other blogs that I found through these. I think I may need a 12 step program after all!!!)

:)  :)


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Rockin' Resources Linky/ Monday Made It and I Made a Button!!!

Maybe I should have started with how excited I am with the fact that I finally found instructions I could understand to create a button!!! So I can now say look to your right and GRAB MY BUTTON!
The Madness That is Kindergarten

Now that I have discussed my button, I am going to join in with Kelly at at Teacher Idea Factory with her Rockin' Resources Linky.

Here are my five things I could not live without:

ONE: Word Family Stories and Activities

I love to use this book in my small groups, the short word family stories as choral reading passages for my kiddos, the packets as home-learning assignments near the end of the year, and it has these pull tabs with all the decodable words from that family. It probably has more uses that I haven't thought of yet....we will see that this year brings. :)

TWO: Fabric and Felt

I have fallen in love with all the many uses in my classroom for felt and fabric. I use it to make decorations for my room, to cover bulletin boards, to do crafts with the kids, etc. I bought a ton of felt and have many things running around in my head to do with it. :) :) :)

THREE: Post It Notes

Like most of you I can not live without post-its. I am going to use them for centers. I use them to write sight words and letters my kiddos have to practice. I love them in different shapes, colors, sizes, with lines, without lines.

FOUR: Enchanted Learning

Love the cool pictures and arts and crafts ideas that I get from this site. I also love the read, write, and color books. Great resource!

FIVE: Blogs

I have come to love getting ideas from all of you out there in Blogland. Not only do I get great ideas, I also feel like I am not alone when I wonder about certain things. The support I had been missing for some idea I had or find someone who has had some of the same issues I have had. You guys are probably the best resource on this list. :)

Moving on to Monday Made Its  with Tara over at Fourth Grade Frolics.

I have been trying to carve out time to finish some crafty project for my classroom and here it is:

I made these clips to go on my wall by the front door of my classroom. I will add clips witht he kids' names or pictures so that I can keep track of how everyone goes home and am able to easily change their method of transportation. Saw a bunch of different ones of these on different blogs and on Pinterest but I really like how mine turned out. So happy in fact that I actually put the cute monkey circles on my TpT store. It's my first item up for sale though I will be adding a couple of more over the weekend. I have been working on quite a few things but am not quite sure of what to put up. Please give me any feedback!

I also made some more cushions!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Another Award/ Newbie Blog Hop/ Cooking and...

Hello all of you out there in Blogland! I am losing my mind in thinking about all that I haven't done to prepare my classroom but I am again in my lazy summer place where I spent most of my weekend hanging out by the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables and cooking in my house.
The water was sooo cool (it comes from an aquifer) which was great on a hot Florida day!

In one of my many trips to the computer I found out I had received another award! (YAY!) The delightful Cindy Smith over at Kindergarten Loves gave me the Liebster Award!This award is named for the German word "Liebster," which translates to "beloved" or "favorite," and it is given to "new and upcoming bloggers."
Thank you tons for the award! If you have not visited her blog you really should!

So here are the rules:
1. Link back to the person who gave it to you. (Did that above ;)
2. Post the award to your blog. (Did that too :)
3. Give the award to at least 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers.
4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have been offered this award.  (Did that too!) 

Here are five bloggers that I believe also should receive this lovely award.

Grade 2 Happenings

  Learning In Wonderland
lacy's Letters

Wild About K Kids

(I could only find four sites of the ones I love that fit the criteria. I guess that means I should spend more time looking through blogs!)

Now I am going to join the Newbie Blog Hop train. I hope I do this right but if I don't, oh well, I'll learn...
1. What state are you in?
I am in Florida.
2. What is your current teaching position?
I teach kindergarten at a difficult elementary school in Miami.
3. What is your teaching experience?
Well. I began by teaching 2nd grade my first three years. After that I took a very short break to be an Intervention Specialist (very long and convoluted story) I taught a 4th/ 5th grade combo for a special program named Highways to Success and dealt with some very special and at times scary children. They were overage for their grade and the program offered the possibility of skipping a grade. After the program got cancelled I was placed at the school where I am now in which I've taught second, then kinder, then first, and now I am back to kinder. I have changed classrooms A LOT!
4. When did you start blogging?
I officially started blogging November 2011, but have not had much time till this summer.
5. Share a blogging tip or resource.
Well for me linky parties are what have really made me excited about blogging. Being able to join in "conversations" that interest me and that I can contribute something to gives me a great feeling of commaraderie. I would say as you read through blogland and a linky party catches your eye definitely join in. I also think pinterest is a great resource for blogging because you can find new blogs through your interests. :) 

To top off all this sharing I spent my Sunday getting better acquainted with my slow cooker. I love to cook! But good cooking takes time, effort, and trips to the supermarket.... which I don't always have.

This weekend I did decide would be the day I pick a recipe and prepare it. The recipe for the weekend was Chicken and Dumpling Soup.
Chicken And Dumplings Soup

Mine looked a lot like the one in the picture with one big difference. I had never made dumplings before and well.......... my dumplings kinda disintegrated into the soup instead of cooking up. So I must try this another time with a different dumpling recipe.

I also quite proud of myself because I finished typing up the part of my classroom library list I had brought home on Friday. Now to go to sleep so that I can wake up nice a early and think of ways to sneak into my classroom again to continue trying to set up.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Classroom Library Set-up and An Award!

Well I finally received my cute primary colored baskets from Really Good Stuff so I went into my room hoping and praying the A/C was fixed (it was!) in order to work on my classroom library.

I love books but I have been horrible at organizing them, making finding them in the past three years or so quite difficult. I have tried organizing them by genre (not so great idea for me), by author (did not get through that), and by reading level (never enough of any particular level). My collection is also very eclectic, I have wordless books all the way up to Harry Potter. I have taught K, 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th so I have books for all these grades. I have also been through three schools, so I have lost books, given away books, and some have "walked" away (I have had many sticky handed students).

I have been looking through blogs and reading many people's ways to organize their libraries, as well as speaking to co-workers for their ideas. After thinking it over, I have decided to try it by author for the books I have for one author in particular and then by genre for general books. In order to keep all these books straight, I am also making up a database of my books so that I know what I have and where it is. So I spent two hours going through only 1 of my books bins (ignoring my chapter books that would not be taken out for my kinders) and I realized I have another large bin plus 7 smaller boxes of books!!! This may take me forever! (either that or I will have to start taking them home with me). Sigh... but I am determined.

On a happy note I was given a lovely blogging award!!! My first one!!! It was given to me by Brigid over at Brigid's Daily Lesson Log. Thank you very much! You are lovely to think of me. :) If you have not checked out her blog make sure you do!

Here is the award!!!

Okay and as I understand it I am supposed to give facts about me and nominate other awesome blogs!

Here are my nominated blogs:

Random Facts: (I don't really know how many to put but I will add in until I am no longer random  :)

1. I have not decided if I should get an Master's or not. (I know I should though.)
2. I am an American citizen but I was not born here. I was born in the Dominican Republic and became a citizen of the U.S. when I was 17.
3. I love true crime shows: Deadly Women, Whow the Bleep Did I Marry?, and The Nightmare Next Door to name a few.
4. I am also obsessed with Toddlers in Tiaras! (Yes, I know. The moms and dads are nuts to do that to their babies but it is adorable and super funny).
5. I love Harry Potter still. I re-read the seventh book every couple of  months just to remind myself that the series is really over.
6. I did not really like Fifty Shades of Grey, then again I also did not like the Twilight series. (I don't find obsessive love realistic or even attractive, but if you liked it more power to you.)
7. I live in Florida, but I don't really like living here....
8. When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer and then I went to a magnet school with a legal branch and then decided I would make a much better teacher than a lawyer. (In college, I did take a law class just to see if I could do it during my freshman year. I was good but I was bored.)
9. I have never fallen in love, but I really would like to someday.
10. I love teaching, but because I have been teaching primary for so long I don't know if I want to have kids of my own. (Don't get me wrong, I adore kids (way more than adults) but I don't know how to balance very well and I feel like I would either gip my own kids or my students.)
11. I can do a split. :)
12. I have 1 younger sister who works at a hotel in Times Square who I miss on a daily basis.
13. I have a very tough exterior at times but am way more sensitive to moods and experiences than people think I am.
14. I love the Autumn season and not just because my birthday is in October. I love the leaves changing color and the days getting slightly cooler. (Well not in Florida but in many other places.)
15. I am a Scorpio and I do believe that I fit all the traits both positive and negative of a Scorpio:

Well bye, bye for now. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

News and Craftiness!!!

Well I went to my school and found out that I will be back in Kindergarten this upcoming school year. (The letter said TENTATIVE but I am ignoring that). I will be in my same classroom so I will not have to move all of my stuff again (In the past four years I have had to chnage classrooms at this school 4 times!) and there are no words as to how happy I am about that!

And since I got the happy news, I have been sneaking into my classroom for the past two days. Yes, SNEAKING. My principal does not like anyone being in the school to set up until the very last minute but expects fully outfitted and functioning classrooms for the first day of school.  My school custodians, who I love, and my next door neighbor (classroom that is) are letting me in and helping me move furniture and clean up. All my shelves are where they need to go and I have started cleaning and doing some odds and ends meanwhile making sure that my principal does not find us there.

I don't like being subversive, but it takes me a while to decide on just where I want things to go and how that area feels. I am very big on that the room has to have a flow and a feel to it as well as be functional for centers, meeting area, independent work stations, etc. Last year, I didn't know what grade I was teaching till four days before school started and I had to change classrooms on top of remembering how to teach kindergarten. All of this in four days!!! I was not ready for anything and I will not go through that gain this year. I am going to be organized and happy in doing my job. :)

Added blue duct tape to the very wax-dirtied bottom of my bookshelves. It makes the white shelves really pop. Will be doing some shelves in yellow and green as well as blue when I go back in and finish my clean up job. :)

So I have also been making up some things to jazz up my room and finishing up some projects. :)

First up I wanted to jazz up my teacher chairs so I made some cute chair pockets. (I even made one for my author's chair but its missing something, maybe glitter....)

Then I decided that I hated the cushions my kiddos had been using to sit on at our library so I made some cushions using this adorable monkey colors print.
Materials I used to make the cushions! (Gotta love glue guns!)

How I glued the seam closed instead of hand sewing it. (Sewing machines and I do not get along.)

Three finished cushions! (Will be making more!) I LOVE the print!
I am continuing my craftiness tomorrow (Going through my  Ideas for Next School Year Pinterest board as I type...) and eagerly awaiting a package from Really Good Stuff with some beautiful new bins to organize my classroom library. Heaven help me that is going to take me a while, I don't even know how to best do the organizing now!!! I have them grouped loosely by genre, though I mean loosely and can never find anything. :( 

Ideas anyone???

Monday, July 16, 2012

My First Made-It Monday....

Well I am starting to get bit by the crafty bug (not to mention the idea that I need to start working on things for my classroom). I have been visiting many blogs and seeing all teh many, many and varied creations people are using in their classrooms this year and it is of course making me eager to share what I have started working on. So I am joining Fourth Grade Frolics in their Made-it Monday! :)
Okay so last October (or November I don't remember which), I went to a workshop given by the Bag Ladies who have all these amazing ideas to turn standards and lessons into projects and one thing they had that I loved and wanted for this year a Ziploc Quilt. It is exactly what it sounds like I put together 30 Ziploc bags and used almost 40 yards of red duck tape (I messed up and did the wrong side, which is why I had to use so much).

First 6 bags in the first row. :)

12 bags and I love the way the red pops!

The completed gridded side (When I realized I had put the grid on the wrong side :(. I was so upset!)

Finally completed the correct side and added the frame. It looks so cool!

Added a sign to the top with my name and the year along with the grade I was teaching.

So that's it! I will continue adding the things I am working on as I finish them. Next up cute chair pockets to refurbish my teacher's chair and dress up my author's chair. :)

My Favorite Picture Books Linky Party!!

I LOVE books. I especially LOVE picture books.  Lindsey at The Teacher Wife has a linky party related just to your MUST have picture books and since I love books sooo much I just had to add my two cents.
 Most of my favorites are right in the shelfari widget right next to my blog but I like a bunch more that I have not had the time to put up there right now.

Number 1: The Dot - I love the uplifting message this book gives about believing in your own power to create and have something worth looking at. I think this book allows children to see themselves as powerful. All just because of a little dot.

truly <3 this book

Number 2: It's a Book - With all the iPads and Nooks and Kindles and PS3s children have the uncanny ability to escape reading actual books and I love how this pokes fun at that fact while also creating the idea that books are interesting and more exciting than any handheld electronic device (though I am also guilty of loving some of these devices abotu as much as the kids ;).

Sooo funny!

Number 3: You're Finally Here! - This book is such a great beginning to the day or the school year and makes kids as excited to be there as you are. Fell in love with it when I first read it.

 Book for the first day of school. Sooooo funny!!!

Number 4: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus - I have read this book so many times that I have it memorized but no matter how many times I read it I still love it. My kiddos this year loved it so much that for some it was the only book they learned to read that year. It's also great for persuasive writing or teaching arguments.
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Number 5: Elemenopee - This maybe the most appropriate book on this list for kindergarten since it focuses on the alphabet. It is my favorite alphabet book and it is a pop-up book! It teaches my little ones the importance of not rushing through the alphabet and skipping over L, M, N, O and P. Love the illustrations and of course the pop-ups!!
Elemenopee: The Day L, M, N, O, P Left the ABC's
I could continue to add books but then I would never get started with any of my projects for the day. I <3 Books!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Beachy Weekend and Found a Great Giveaway

Hello Blogland! Spent most of yesterday around Miami Beach and then poolside so have not had much time to write or do much of anything except chit chat and relax.

But today I began my foray into shopping for the beginning of the school year and working on lovely !! I bought doutangs for my handwriting booklets, my poly vinyl home-learning folders, cute nametags for the first day and materials to create something I am super excited ziploc quilt (will post about the creation of that later, did not buy enough red duck tape, again will post about this later ;).

Also worked on a cool Bag Ladies project that I want to make for my kiddos to keep their sight words and writing word banks. I went to one of their workshops and bought a bunch of books filled with ideas for cool science and social studies themed projects, though most would be done by students in 1-5 grades (which can do more on their own or by following simple directions), but if I begin construction of some projects my younger kiddos should be able to finish them with directions and minimal assistance.
Back of portfolio pocket.
Front cover sight words with a design of their choice.

As I read one of my bloggy buddies I stumbled upon an awesome giveaway by The Hands-On Teacher. I love giveaways and though I never seem to win anything, it never hurts to enter and try.  Feel free to join and if you win SHARE!!! ;)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Classroom theme....Sigh....

I know so many people who think of classroom themes. The funny thing is though I have tried I have never been a big theme person (which I think is really weird because I looooovvee everyone else's themes in my school and wish I would have thought of them). I have loosely jungle themed my class a number of times. I love filling the spaces with animals and monkeys are my favorites. I even went completely overboard two years ago and expanded my jungle theme including elements of Horton Hears a Who. One of my more artistic parents made me huge versions of my own laboriously sketched Dr. Seuss characters to put up. I sketched out a scene from the movie and made it close to life size to cover these huge windows in my classroom. I also made jungle vines out of green felt and brown pipe cleaners. It was amazing!! (I kept it up for about a week and then took most of it down). The kids were so upset I had to think of something else for them to put up almsot immediately. Below are some pictures of my classroom from that Horton Hears a Who theme week.

My little monkeys chasing Horton and the speck. (Sorry but all these pics came from my Blackberry and are very fuzzy, I had left my camera at home that day :( I was so sad about that.)

The story characters and the beginning of the mural byt he windows.

Our favorite line from the story and my own version of Seuss's trees as illustrated in the book.

My jungle vines and our sign for the Jungle of Nool over my teacher led center table.

My kiddos writing on lesson from Horton they learned and their pieces of Whoville put together.

One of my kiddos modeling her Horton gear before heading home.
Sigh. Last year I barely had time to set up a classroom let alone think of a theme so I went for primary colors and added my monkeys and some vines. I didn't even take pictures when the room was finished because I ended up losing my camera at the beginning of the year.

I am thinking to go for a primary color scheme and then adding my monkeys but I am not quite sure it's what I want and the more I think about it the less I am sure that I want to do it. I would miss my monkeys if I didn't put them up (and one of the other teachers at my school might ask me to borrow them and I would forget and never get them back).

Any one have any suggestions? I could really use some guidance from any of you experts in classroom themes. :)