Wednesday, October 31, 2012

ALL IN ONE DRY ERASE BAGS {Coffee & a Clever Idea}



I heart finding ways to save time in the classroom. I also heart tips for staying organized. This does both. Put everything a student will need when using a dry erase board into one bag: board, marker, something to wipe the board (socks work well).

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

GET KIDS STARTED WITH BOOK TALKS {Coffee & a Clever Idea}


I find that the most challenging thing about getting kids talking about anything is getting them started. This seems like it is especially true with book talks. That's why I love this anchor chart. If a child picks one of these it should get the ball rolling and lead to some meaningful discussions.

This would also make a great bookmark.

Can you think of any other sentence starters you could include to get them talking about books?

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Monday, October 29, 2012

MAKE A DESK DIAGRAM {Coffee & a Clever Idea}


{view source}

Children will meet your expectations (usually) if you make them VERY clear. As in crystal clear. If you have desks it would be very helpful to provide a chart that outlines how you expect them to look. You may want to create desk size charts that can slip right inside for some of your messier friends.

Another option is to label inside the desk to spell it out even more.

A clean desk is a happy desk. :)
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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Preparing to Weather the Storm with Turkey Books and a Craftivity

I loathe winter and cold and ice and snow and frozen windshields and shoveling and all things related, but I do love me a good old-fashioned snow day.  If I'm being honest, I loved them more in my pre-mom days when it truly meant a relaxing day, but they are tons of fun with kids too. I love the excitement of "the call." I love lounging in pajamas, watching TV, making cookies, playing in the snow, etc.

But there are no snow storms on the immediate horizon and I am perfectly fine with that.

What we do have is a tropical stormish-hurricanish-thingy working its way up the East Coast. And it is supposed to make a grand appearance in my neck of the woods on Monday. The promise of torrential downpours, sustained high winds, possible power outages, and falling trees and power lines between the hours of 9 a.m. and midnight bring with it the possibility of a "storm day."

A storm day is very different than a snow day. 

Very different.

Please note that a good portion of my snow day fun revolves around electricity. 

And while I like to think that we lead a simple life and that my kids are relatively "unplugged," it doesn't take long for me to realize that Laura Ingalls Wilder I am not. 

And so, while only a small percentage of me thinks that school may be closed tomorrow, I am preparing for a day at home...with three kids...and no electricity. 

In a few weeks, I'll be reading three of my favorite Thanksgiving books about hiding and disguising turkeys and then presenting my class with an annual favorite...the Disguise a Turkey Craft and Writing Project. I did the project at home with my son last year and he asked if we could do it again this year with "the sisters." I figured reading the books and making turkeys would be a great way to spend some electricity-free time in the event that we find ourselves in that situation. So while my hubby brings in the outdoor furniture and checks flashlight batteries, I'll be doing my own storm prep...cutting turkeys and running to the craft store to buy feathers. :)

And if we don't get "the call," then the project will be all set to go on Election Day or Veteran's Day or one of the other days this month that there is no school...is your November calendar as choppy as mine?

These are the three books I read before I introduce the project.  I love them. You and your kids will love them too!

{click pic to read reviews}
Turkey Trouble is an adorable book with fun illustrations. My kids ask me to read this one over and over. The book description reads, "Turkey is in trouble. Bad trouble. The kind of trouble where it's almost Thanksgiving . . . and you're the main course. But Turkey has an idea--what if he doesn't look like a turkey? What if he looks like another animal instead? After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise to make this Thanksgiving the best ever!" 

{click pic to read reviews}


In Run, Turkey, Run! , it's the day before Thanksgiving and the farmer is searching for a plump bird to eat. I love reading this book to my own little ones at home as well as my third graders, because they all get so into it and join in by yelling, "Run, Turkey, Run!"  every time the text repeats. I love seeing 8 & 9 year old get that into a picture book. This book really lends itself to retelling and teaching the trait of organization.


{click the pic to read reviews}
They say you can't judge a book by it's cover, but I'm such a sucker for a cute cover and Dav Pilkey's, 'Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving lured me right in with all those adorable cartoon kids frolicking with the turkeys. The story is about a class that goes on a field trip to the farm and works together to hide the turkeys...see how it relates so nicely to the Turkey in Disguise packet? This is another class favorite year after year.

You can see more of my November Projects in this post. Here are some pics of last year's disguised turkeys (I usually send it home as a family project, but last year we completed them in class). 








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Thursday, October 25, 2012

PERSONALIZED BINDER CLIPS {Coffee & a Clever Idea}


I'm loving binder clips. Personally, I would pair this up with the Washi taped clips I blogged about on 10/9. I a little patterned color underneath and some text labels on top. Perfection! I could see these being awesome if you have a classroom aide or parent volunteers. You could simply clip them to the top and have them read: copy, cut, laminate, file, etc. It would also be handy to make them two sided ("to be graded" and "graded"or "record grades").

Bee-Tee-Dub...I have another binder clip idea to show you tomorrow. :)

What ideas do you have for labeling the clips?


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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

WHITE BOARD FOCUS WALL{Coffee & a Clever Idea}


Sadly this was one of those Pinterest "dead links" which breaks my heart because there is so much more I want to see. I love those "rules" above the board and am wondering if there are more around the room. However, the main reason I am sharing this idea is because I think it is purposeful and well-organized.

I have long been a fan of using electrical tape to section off a white board. It creates a clean, crisp line and peels off. Here are my tips for putting it up. Use a ruler (and admittedly I'm a bit OCD and usually also use a level) to draw a line on the white board in dry erase marker. Next just roll the tape onto the board using the line as your guide.

Next up, I really like the vinyl letters (stickers?) because it is uniform. The all black is really nice because the focus will be on the content of the board. Plus, it will be super easy to change out skills and info and easy means it is more likely to be used.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

PASTA SKELETONS {Coffee & a Clever Idea}



With Halloween fast approaching all of our little friends have spookiness on the brains. I thought this would be a fun little project that would feed their need for something "Halloweeny" without being too "Halloweeny." Since many children don't celebrate and many school prohibit Halloween, this is a nice alternative.

TIP: Ask parents to donate different types of pasta to the classroom.
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Monday, October 22, 2012

The Book Whisperer...So Far I'm Loving It

I am not an impulse buy kind of gal.

I used to be. There was a time when I couldn't walk into Target without leaving with a cart full of impulsive purchases. I've booked trips on impulse. Punta Cana anyone? I didn't even know where it was on the map. I bought a Honda Civic on impulse. At least that was a sensible impulse buy that I got many years and miles out of. Punta Cana...not so much.

And then I became a "responsible adult." 

Which really isn't all that fun. 

Anyhow, I don't know if this really can be considered an impulse buy since I have had it on my amazon wish list since the spring, but I impulse bought The Book Whisperer on Friday.


I was reading something online that mentioned it during lunch on Friday and I thought, "I've been meaning to buy that for months." 

So I did.

Along with everything else on my wish list. 

A whole big cart of dorky teacher reads and some books for my own kids. I live on the edge.

The books arrived on Saturday at 9:20 a.m.  How crazy is that? I heart Amazon Prime.

And I am totally loving this book.  It is exactly what I needed to read right about now. I'll have lots more to say about it soon.

Have you read it? What are you reading?

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NEW STUDENT BAGS {Coffee & a Clever Idea}



I probably should have shared this one with you back in the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer, but that's water under the bridge. You can either put this together now or file away this brilliant tip for next year.

Have a bag on hand (or bags if you tend to get  a few New Kids on your Block) with all the things you'll need for a new students. Think about things like nametags, cubby tags, classroom information, reading strategy cards, etc. I would also have a "Welcome to Our Class" card in there that you can have the other kiddos sign before his/her arrival.

What would you include in the bag?
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Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

CREATIVE NOVEMBER ACTIVITIES for grades K-5

It seems crazy to me that we are about to turn the calendar to November. Where is the year going? I don't know about you, but my month in the classroom is crazy-choppy. Between Veteran's Day, Election Day, Thanksgiving, Field Trips, Professional Development and Conferences,  all of my weekly routines go out the window.

It's for that reason that I'm really craving the need to plan ahead and map out all of my projects and activities for the next few weeks. I thought this would be a good time to look at the projects I've done in the past in the month of November, plug them into my plan book and make some space for a few new things I've got up my sleeve for Math Workshop and Reader's Workshop. I love the creativity and colorful projects we work on at this time of year. 

TURKEY IN DISGUISE: WRITING, CRAFT & BULLETIN BOARD:


{click to access and download: Turkey in Disguise}

This is a project I've done each November with grades K-3. It is a favorite with families because it isn't hard to do and they have a lot of fun working together. The end result is an adorable bulletin board. You can read my original post about the Turkey in Disguise Project here.

FAVORITE THANKSGIVING FOOD: WRITING, MATH & CRAFT

I always like to preface my talk of my Favorite Thanksgiving Day Food writing project with a warning: Do not make these before lunch. It's crazy how yummy paper food can look when your tummy is growling. These projects culminate a great descriptive writing piece. Don't they look super cute with the plastic utensils hot glued onto them? This packet also includes a great math component with graphing.

HOW TO COOK A TURKEY: A COOKBOOK WRITING ACTIVITY



This is a project that I've done annually since my very first year of teaching. Since then I have created these "cookbooks" with Kindergarten friends all the way through 3rd grade. I finally made it into a packet last year with differentiated pages so you can use it with PreK through 5th.

PILGRIMS & WAMPANOAGS: SOCIAL STUDIES PORTFOLIO PROJECT  {LAPBOOK}
This will be my 3rd year making Pilgrim and Wampanoag portfolios with my third graders. We are fortunate that we live close enough to Plimouth Plantation and are able to take a field trip each year. 

GOBBLE: A FREE SIGHT WORD GAME

Gobble is a free sight word game that I created to help my own son learn some of his sight words when he was in first grade. You can download it for free from my store.

QUICK SHOPPING LINKS:





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