Monday, August 17, 2015

A Peek at My Week: The First Days of School {FREEBIE}


Whew! The first week of school is in the books and this teacher is STILL exhausted even after a weekend to try to catch up! But I did want to share with you some of my favorite activities we did from the first week of school! Take a peek below into our first week of fun!

Even in the 3rd grade, we are all still a little nervous. In our school, the K-2 are on one side of the building and 3-6 are on the complete opposite side of the building. We call it the "Big Kids" side and the kiddos get a little intimidated in the transition over to this side of the building. So I began the day by reading First Day Jitters. This is a familiar book that they have all read before, but it's just so cute! I use it to ease their minds and let them know that even I, the teacher, has the first day jitters! We all get a good laugh and relax a little bit after the story. I use that time to introduce myself and then for the students to spend some time introducing themselves using the two activities above from my Back to School Activities Pack!

Next, we get up and moving around the room! I like to incorporate quite a few bodily-kinesthetic activities in the first week just in case any of the kiddos have the wiggles! We did two more activities from my Back to School Activities Pack where the students get to know their friends and the classroom environment.

Next, we start talking about our school-wide expectations! We begin with responsibility by reading Just a Little Homework. The kids can all relate to getting a little distracted and making excuses as he does in the book. We also tie this into the 7 Habits - Put First Things First.

We learned about obeying expectations by reading Miss Nelson is Missing. This is always a class favorite! We then talked about the playground rules and why they're important before we went outside for recess. We created a brochure for the Kindergarteners at our school to help them learn the playground rules as well! Authentic writing! You can find this writing activity in my August/Back to School Common Core Writing Activities

We spend a great deal of time talking about cooperation, because we spend a great majority of our school day working with partners and in groups. We read the story Swimmy and then the students completed the What Should We Do? activity from my Back to School Activities Pack. This activity encourages the students to really cooperate and synergize (7 Habits vocabulary) to compromise on a decision.

Continuing on with cooperation, we completed this activity that I saw posted on 4th Grade Frolics. Thanks for sharing, Tara! The students must "Save Fred"! Fred is the gummy worm and the cup is the boat. Fred is in the ocean and the students must rescue him by getting the gummy lifesaver around Fred and getting Fred back in the boat all without using their hands! They do have tools to use though - paperclips only! The students worked in groups of four to try to "Save Fred" and then we talked about how we had to cooperate in order to make it work!

Next we talked about keeping a positive attitude by reading Pete the Cat. Even though this is a very early elementary book, I just love the way that Pete has such a positive attitude and I love the message at the end! After we read, we worked with partners and toothpaste! The only directions I gave was to squirt all the toothpaste out of the tube and onto the plate with the help of their partners. The kiddos didn't have a problem with that at all - ha! Next, I looked at them and said, "OK, friends, now please put the toothpaste back into your tubes. Go!" *insert confused looks from all my kiddos here* They were all like "Mrs. Rector, that's impossible! We can't do that!" I look confused as well - hee hee! The takeaway from this activity: Choose your words wisely, because once they come out of your mouth, you can't put them back in! I do explain that you can clean up the mess and apologize (we threw the toothpaste away to symbolize this), but you can never put the toothpaste back in the tube. This led into a meaningful conversation about using kind words, having positive attitudes, and respect towards others. NAILED IT!

We ended our fun after the toothpaste activity with Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse where we had more discussion about respect towards your peers and your teacher. This type of conversation is what creates our family-like atmosphere in our classroom and I think it's KEY to having a smooth operating learning environment with mutual respect among teacher and students. 

We also talked about friendships and what it means to be a good friend. One of the stories, among many, that we read through the week was Rainbow Fish. I love the lesson learned in this story and it's just a great book that the kids really like! We followed that up with my FREEBIE Back to School Common Core Writing Activity about friendship! I use this piece of writing as a quick little assessment of their writing skills in the first few days. Click the link or the picture below to download for FREE!

Towards the end of the week, we needed to get some structure and routine happening so we began using my Perfect Paragraphs One Step at a Time: Back to School Edition to write about our favorite summer memory! The kiddos are doing great with this and the step-by-step approach is perfect! You can save over 20% by grabbing Perfect Paragraphs: THE ENTIRE BUNDLE! This product will absolutely change the way your students write paragraphs! It's been an amazing tool!

Finally, we used Blair Turner's Back to School Interactive Notebooks to get acquainted with our interactive notebooks: cutting quickly and efficiently, using glue without using a TON of glue, and placing the interactive pieces in our notebooks correctly! This was a fun little intro to so much more interactive notebooking to come!

So there you have it! Our first week is done, blogged about, and in the books! I am SO excited to continue on and make even more awesome memories with this great group of kiddos! Here's to a great school year, my friends!


Sunday, August 2, 2015

2015-2016 Classroom Reveal

Whew! It's been a week and a half of long nights setting up my classroom! I may or may not have stayed at school one night until 3:15 am - whoops! I like to go work in my classroom at night after my son and husband go to bed, because I feel like it's less time away from my family that way. I would rather lose sleep than lose family time, so it has been worth it! My classroom setup pictures have gotten a lot of interest and questions on my Instagram account, so I wanted to share my complete classroom reveal as promised! So here goes.... prepare yourselves for picture overload! :)

I will share broad view pictures first, then close-ups of everything with details and more information, so keep scrolling!

This is the view when you walk into my classroom and my favorite part of the room:

The front of my room:


The back wall and student desks:

The entire side wall:

Looking back at my entry door, hallway window, and computer table:


Now for details and close-ups!

The "Reach for the Stars" headline was made from a font by Kimberly Geswein called KG Geronimo Blocks. It's a free download for personal use {HERE}. The incentive charts are from Teacher Created Resources. This will be used as my student data board.

Close-up of the incentive charts - love them! The border is from Creative Teaching Press.

My small book baskets are from The Dollar Tree, the larger picture book baskets are from Big Lots and the paper baskets on top are from The Dollar Tree. The polka-dot lamp came from Dollar General. The black bookshelf is an OLD worn-out bookshelf belonging to my school that I painted black a few years ago.

My picture book display case needs a serious paint job (I soooo need it to be black and probably will end up painting it before school starts Aug. 11th), but it's loaded with Back to School books for the first few weeks of school. I change these out monthly.

This is my teacher area. I keep my desk up against the wall, because who has time to sit down at their desk during the day anyway?! It saves space in the classroom and is only needed during planning and before/after school anyway. The ROCKS poster was created by me and printed by our sweet librarian. It displays our school-wide expectations. To the right of that are whole-brain teaching cues from First Grade Fever, a FREE download found {HERE}.

The rest of my teacher stuff is kept in the bookcase beside my desk. The drawer labels with subjects are an editable file that I purchased from Learning in Wonderland {HERE}. The Monday-Friday labels are a FREEBIE from Ladybug Teacher Files {HERE}. The binders are in desperate need of spine labels - EEK! *Added to my to-do list.*

I've had a HUGE request for close-ups of these paper storage baskets and the labels on each. I have an entire blog post about how I organize my paper clutter using these baskets {HERE}. The labels are a FREE download from my sweet friend at Ladybug Teacher Files {HERE}. The baskets came from Really Good Stuff. The baskets are labeled Notes from Home, Papers to Pass out, Paperwork to Sort, Papers for Next Week, Extra Class Sets, and Extra Papers. You can read more about what actually goes in those baskets in the blog post linked above or {HERE}. The lime green and pink bins store my math manipulatives and came from Target several years ago. The buckets came from The Dollar Tree and the big storage container in the bottom right came from Big Lots. The calendar, birthday chart, and classroom jobs displays are from Creative Teaching Press.

This area is to the right of my bulletin board. The metal buckets hold supplies and the inspirational quotes came from my friend Hope King at Elementary Shenanigans in her Desire to Inspire pack found {HERE}. The curtains are from Target. The other small bookshelf will also hold other supplies and all of those containers also came from The Dollar Tree.

This is my small reading/relaxing area. All of the pillows came from Wal-Mart. The chalkboard posters came from Creative Teaching Press. The R.E.A.D. letters came from Hobby Lobby. Finally the smaller posters above with leadership quotes came from Lauren Bright at One Bright Classroom {HERE}.

Again, the chalkboard posters are from Creative Teaching Press, orange pocket charts came from Target Dollar Spot, Math Centers header made from the KG font I linked to above, and the leadership quotes are from One Bright Classroom also linked to above. {All links above}.

A close-up of my iPad and iPod storage system. Labels for the drawers are again from Learning in Wonderland {HERE}.


The black pocket chart is from Scholastic and will be used as my attendance and lunch count with student numbers. More leadership quotes from One Bright Classroom {link above} and our Behavior Clip Chart found in my Creating Superstars in the Classroom: A Tool to Promote Leadership pack found {HERE}.

Last, but not least, this is what you will see on the outside of my classroom door. I used a chalkboard poster and added one of Hope King's Desire to Inspire posters {link is above} to make a bold statement the moment you enter my classroom: "In this classroom you are important, loved, respected. You are part of a team. You are valuable, listened to, successful." Love it!

So there you have it, my friends! Many hours of hard work and still a little bit to do before school starts, but all in all, I'm pleased with how my classroom has come together. New classroom, new grade level, and new year - how exciting! Feel free to PIN anything you like from above! Wishing you all the best this school year!