Sunday, August 9, 2015

{FREEBIE} Totally Transformed: Pez Dispensers {Updated}

Last summer I introduced a mini-series on my blog where I took everyday objects and totally transformed them. I really need to get back to this series this year because I absolutely loved it! 

Today I am throwing it back to one of my previously transformed items and adding in a corresponding freebie worksheet for you! Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to grab the freebie.

One of my favorite resources to use in my kindergarten classroom are CVC sliders. They really help isolate each sound and get across the blending action. I use all kinds of sliders but sometimes the paper ones just don't add that wow factor to hook my learners. In order to solve that problem, cue the transformation...

That's right! Pez Dispensers are my favorite way to use CVC sliders in the classroom! I can easily hook my learners by introducing different holiday themes or favorite movie characters.  I'm thinking this year these Minion themed dispensers would be a huge hit after the summer movie success! What little one would not be rushing to complete this center activity if they got to play with these adorable Minions? 

These are the easiest to put together and don't require spending a ton of money on ink and lamination. These are perfect for the kinestetic learner and you never have to worry about mixing up any pieces during a center activity. I always ask for Pez Dispenser donations from parents and purchase on after holiday clearance when I can get them for 25 cents or less. Here are the steps on how I made my CVC sliders. 

The words can easily be changed out whenever you want to mix it up. You can ever add the picture to the other side of the slider if you want to make it self correcting. This shows your students how you can make anything from their real lives into a learning experience. However, most of all, it makes learning FUN which is a must in my kindergarten classroom! 

I created this quick little freebie for you all that corresponds with the Pez Dispenser CVC sliders that would be perfect to use as a literacy center, during guided reading, or as a fast finisher drawer. 

To download this freebie, just click on the picture below.

The kids slide the Pez sliders out one letter at a time and write one letter per box. After blending the sounds together, they illustrate the word in the circle. 

I really hope you find this idea useful as it is a huge fan favorite in my classroom and I know it will be with yours as well! If you do re-create these, I'd love to see how you use them in your classroom! Be sure to tag me on instagram so I can see what you created!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#2getherwearebetter Bulletin Board Bonanza!

Can you believe that is is August already? Where has the summer gone? 
Two of my favorite ladies Angie and Ashley have this amazing linky party on the 2nd of each month that brings teachers together called #2GetherWeAreBetter.

This month's theme is all things bulletin boards. I don't know about you, but nothing makes me happier than getting back to school bulletin board inspiration! And can you believe over 100 people linked up! That's a lot of amazing inspiration! Thanks to this linky, this year I will create my best bulletin boards yet! 

Some of my teacher friends are already back to school: I don't envy you now, but I sure will when you get out in early May! I go back the last week of August which means I have not gotten the chance to set up my classroom yet this year. However, with that being said, I have 3 bulletin board tips from last year to share!

As a first year teacher, I had a love/hate relationship with bulletin boards. I wanted to create cute bulletin boards, but they were way down the list of must-dos for the year. These "wow work" walls were all the rage on Pinterest and I just had to create one. By adding one single clothespin on a thumbtack with some paper below, I was able to create interchangeable bulletin boards in seconds. It made my life a million times easier to just switch out a craftivity each month than having to change bulletin board paper and borders on huge walls. If there is one tip you need to add to your life, this is the one! Work Smarter Not Harder is my work motto!

If you have an ugly green tape covered magnetic chalkboard like me, you can jazz it up in seconds! There was so way I was going to keep that eye sore around that was completely unusable. Just hang some butcher paper and use a magnetic border to hold it in place. It will also add some flair to a magnetic white board without having to deal with creating tape border lines. I literally whipped up a whole wall length bulletin board in seconds! I purchased mine at Lakeshore last year but they are discontinued now. You can find tons of great options on Amazon by searching "magnetic borders". They are very affordable considering you can use them year after year!

I'm going to spare you the tip I wish I learned. Not every beautiful design you see on Pinterest will you be able to re-create and/or have it work for your needs. I saw the ribbon word walls on Pinterest and was so excited to try them out! It was such a pain in the neck to create, but once it was done it was beautiful! I was so proud of the word wall! Enter 30 kindergarteners and the wall was toast! It was an every day struggle to keep the cards sticking on the interactive wall, keep the ribbon hanging up on the wall as they removed cards, and having the ribbon not fray and fall apart in the process. I didn't even take an EOY photo because the wall was a mess and I couldn't wait to take it down. This year, I am definitely going for practicality over gorgeous looks. So as you are browsing through all these amazing ideas, just keep this tip in mind! 

Thanks to Mel from Graphics from the Pond for the adorable polka dot numbers used in the post!
I hope you found these tips useful when it comes to decorating for the year! I can't wait to see what my teacher tribemates have created! Stay tuned next month for the classroom reveal linky party! That is sure to be a good one!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

How is it August Already???

This post will be short and sweet because it is officially back to school month and I am in high gear getting ready to start in a new school this year. 

Come link up with Farley and join in on the fun! 

Here's to a fantastic school year!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

All About This Kinder Teacher

This week I'm linking up with my Teacher Tribe. I'm so thankful to have a linky with all my fellow K teachers in one place. It's part of the Kinder Tribe blog that I will be faithfully stalking this school year! 

Here is a little bit more about me!

I'm really excited to embark on my 2nd year teaching. What better time to be starting out in this profession than with all the best resources and collaboration at your fingertips!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dolch Word Mini Book Companion Freebie

Sometimes you stumble upon a product that makes your teaching a breeze! This year, I found just that in a FREEBIE no less! 

A huge focus in my classroom this year was on sight word recognition. I am not sure what the benchmark is for your district, but mine is 75 for kindergarten. With so little time to master all those words, one product was a lifesaver! 

All year my students were obsessed with their dolch word mini books created by Sarah from A Sunny Day in First Grade
They would constantly review their words and help coach their peers so they could earn their stickers and move up to the next level book. Sarah's product ranges from pre-primer to third grade words so differentiation was a breeze!

I am a big believer in parent collaboration in education so I wanted to send home weekly progress sheets with the students listing words to review. Out of necessity, I created an assessment sheet that corresponds exactly with Sarah's freebie, even down to the clip art!

It was an effortless transition for the parents, and they loved being able to see at a glance what words to practice. By including the date, you can easily see how students are progressing week to week.

After using the product in my classroom all year, I reached out to Sarah asking if I could share my assessment component and she graciously agreed. I just love this teacher collaboration network!

If you are interested in the two products, you can click on the links below to head to our TpT stores.

Hope they are as useful for you as they were for me!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Currently May

I haven't linked up with Farley for a Currently in months! Well, it is about time I change that ASAP! Here is what I have been up to this Month.

I have been scouring lists like THIS and THIS to finalize my EOY slideshow music. This is my first ever year making an EOY slideshow and I know it is going to take a lot of effort for the perfectionist in me to be satisfied. If you have any songs that are a must have, please let me know in the comments! 

After discovering that Revenge was going to be cancelled, I decided to find a new ABC drama to watch. I have really been loving Secrets and Lies lately. I'm hoping that this show doesn't get cut too because so many of my shows are coming to an end this year! 

Next week starts my EOY testing period. I want to make sure my littles are prepared to shine like the superstars I know they are! I have so much to get done and so little time! Thank goodness for ESGI! They will be my lifesaver! Click HERE if you want to read my blog post about why I love ESGI and get a promo code for $40 off your subscription!
I just can't get everything done in a 2 day weekend anymore. This EOY madness is really crazy! I had no idea how much administration piles on you and just how fast time flies! Can't every weekend be a 3 day weekend? 

My organization needs to get stepped up a notch. I am a HUGE piler, and as a result, I seem to be misplacing something the moment I set it down. I can't lose any of these important EOY papers so I need to kick it into high gear and make sure there is a place for everything, and everything is in its place! 

While I still have a long ways to go until summer, it is never too early to plan ahead. I know I will be doing some traveling this summer to tour colleges, but I just don't know where just yet. I guess that is part of the fun! I really am hoping to hear about my job for next year! As a first year teacher, you just never know what your fate will be from one year to the next! Here's hoping I find out early on so that I can prep for the year to come over the summer and not just a couple of days before school starts! While I really would LOVE to make it to Vegas this summer, it is not looking like it is in the cards. If only Vegas was closer to the East Coast! I want to attend this fabulous professional development and meet so many blogging friends!

Well, I can't wait to hear what you are up to! So many of you are so close to the end of the year! We just crossed into the 30's for our countdown! The snow this winter was brutal!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Five for Friday: Vacation Edition

It seems like forever since I have joined a linky party! I'm very excited to be back in action with one of my favorites, Five for Friday hosted by none other than Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching
 I have been very fortunate that this week springtime weather has finally arrived and I was able to spend my days outside enjoying the warm weather because I had spring break. Here are five random events from my vacation week.

This week I confessed my love for ESGI Software. Click the photo to read my full post.
If I had one teaching tool I couldn't live without, this would be the one! If you are a new subscriber, you can get $40 off your yearly subscription with the promo code B4155.

Nothing made me more excited this week than the announcement of the Fuller House spin-off. This show was my entire childhood! I can't wait to see the familiar faces and where they take the show!
Just when you thought Netflix couldn't get any better! 
(Source MTV)
In other TV news, I can't even with Grey's Anatomy this week. If you are a fan, you know exactly what I am feeling! Thank goodness I was on vacation this week because clearly I need to recover from this madness!

Right before we left for vacation we decorated the windows with some stained glass butterflies. We were looking for a little touch of spring for when we returned. I have done these projects each season as inspired by Maria from Kinder Craze. We just love how beautiful they turned out!
Subscription boxes are pretty much all the rage right now. They have boxes for clothes, boxes for pet goodies, boxes for make-up, boxes for healthy foods, it seems there is a box out there for everything and everyone.
(Image Source: NYU Local)
My question is, where can I find a box tailored for teachers? Like a box filled with smelly markers, stamps, stickers, books, and card stock? There are so many teachers out there that this has to be a product in the market! And if not, what are you subscription companies waiting for? If you know of one, please point it out to me! I'd love to subscribe!

Well that's it for my Five for Friday! Stay tuned to see what I am up to next week when I am back in the classroom! Hopefully I can keep up with this blogging trend once school picks up again! We are in the home stretch!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

ESGI - Can't Teach Without It!

As a first year teacher, I had a general idea what I was getting myself into going into the classroom. Teaching the alphabet and counting to 100. Navigating the troubles of lost glue stick caps and tattle tales. Lesson planning and grading.

What I wasn't aware of, was just how many hours I would spend testing and not teaching. It got so bad that some weeks I felt like I did nothing but test all day every day. I knew I was missing out and so did my little ones. My kinder kids were only five years old and deserved to have as much fun with hands on learning activities and not doing meaningless worksheets while I spent hours testing students one on on with a mess of flash cards and assessment papers to sort through.

Doing what teachers do best, I spent my "free time" after school searching Pinterest and reading teacher blogs. I stumbled upon a review of a site called ESGI and the tagline promoted saving 400 hours over the course of the year.

Doing a quick bit of math, I was appalled. In my school, 400 hours is the equivalent of 67 full days of teaching. 67 full days. Let that sink in for a moment. That is over a third of the year. What could you do if you had 67 extra days teaching your students? Imagine the possibilities! Enough said. ESGI had me hook, line, and sinker!

Well, now that I have hopefully piqued your interest, let me explain some of my favorite features as well as give you a deal that will save you $40 along with your 400 hours.

Perhaps my favorite feature is that ESGI does the work for you. Their logo says Click. Click. Done. and it is literally as simple as that.

Sick of sorting through flash cards and papers to make sure you have the right set for each child? 
They save each child's data so you only test what you need and it is just a click away when you need it. 
 All I have to do is hit the left or right arrow on my keyboard and it records all my data without ever having to lift a pen.

Constantly graphing the percent of students meeting each skill to show your administration?
No graph making for you! The graphs automatically update as each child is assessed. Your principal will LOVE being able to see all your data in one place constantly being updated.

Need a parent letter documenting a child's progress and things to work on at home? 
You don't even have to touch the keyboard. They have you covered! Just print and you are good to go!

So you've told the parents what to work on at home but they don't have any materials to do so?
Obviously ESGI has your back! Look no further than customized and dated flash cards for each child!

Spending hours analyzing all your different test scores trying to figure out what topic is least known that you need to review? 
Well it is already done in a handy little graph for each topic before you even realize you need it. 

Can't quite remember if you tested all your students with absences and pull-outs? 
A chart listing each child's name and every test you have created shows up highlighting the ones still yet to test. No more forgetting to assess a child because you forgot to add it to a post-it note. 

Now I know what you might be thinking. Well, it sounds great and all, but I have a very specific set of assessments that I am required to do so this site can't possibly help. Wrong! ESGI is 100% customizable so you can make it exactly suit your teaching needs.

In addition to the over 200 assessments they have built in, there is a text explorer that allows you to create all your own tests and even share them with other teachers in your school or across your district! I kept the generic pre-loaded tests that aligned with my needs like letter names and sounds to save as much time as possible. However, in one quick afternoon, I was able to completely customize and enter in all my district's personalized assessments. The best part, once they are done, they are saved forever (even if your account expires) and you never have to re-create the system.

Now, not everyone is super tech savvy, and ESGI has the best customer support library to help! They have webinar videos that walk you through each and every single step to create your own tests. Here is a little screenshot from one of the videos that I watched when creating my own tests.
They have a custom library with hundreds of items, shapes, colors, you name it! No test is too big or too small a job that ESGI can't handle! 

Now seriously, this all sounds too good to be true! I know! I never could have imagined I would find a resource this unbelievably lifesaving as a first year teacher. All I can say is I am so fortunate to have found it my first year teaching. Now I never have to live without it! For all you veteran teachers out there, it is not too late to join the party! Don't go another year suffering through the never ending assessment paper trail!

Whatever you do, don't delay on this invaluable resource! They offer a free 60 day trial to test it out and see if it is worth making the investment. All I can say is you won't need more than a week to realize if you could only have one resource for the year, this would be the must have. 

Try ESGI out for this last round of end of year assessments. The 60 day trial will take you to June which will be more than enough time to test out the program, get your assessments loaded and do everything you can to get your administration to pay for this resource for the upcoming school year. 

If you are a new customer to ESGI you can save $40 off the regular yearly price of $199 making a year of hassle-free assessment only $159! A true steal when you consider adding up the price of all those coffee's you drink to keep you functioning during the never ending assessment periods. Just use the promo code: B4155 to save today!

Here's to a hassle-free end of the year assessment thanks to ESGI!
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