Monday, June 19, 2017

Classroom Library Organization

Today I'm linking up with my friend, Jen, from Teacher by the Beach for a little look into our Classroom Library! Head on over to her blog to check out some other Classroom Libraries!


I'm going to take you on a picture walk back in time to let you check out my various classroom library systems and then I will reveal what my plan is for this school year.

First, for beauty's sake, let's take a look at my most recent classroom library. It was my library last year and the year before. See it below. One thing you will notice is that it is NOT labeled and/or organized in any certain way {GASP!}. I know, I know. Let me explain. For the past two years I have only taught MATH, so while my students visited our classroom library on occasion, they were primarily using their reading teacher's classroom library, which was organized and labeled nicely. For this reason, I chose to *not stress* over labeling and organizing - crazy right?! Hey, you pick your battles and organizing all those books was not one of them at the time. :)


Next, we have my classroom library from a few years back. I really loved how this classroom library was in the corner of the room and it was such a cozy little nook. The lamp light in the corner, the R.E.A.D. letters, the rug and the beach chairs made this such a happy little place. This classroom library was organized by A.R. level, because our school had a heavy emphasis on Accelerated Reader at the time. In fact, I organized by A.R. level for several years because of this emphasis. Now that I know better, I refuse to level my books in this way. From now on my classroom library will be organized by author or genre, never again by level. You live, you learn, you do better.

Every year I have my display book case with my monthly themed books or books we are using in science/social studies content. This is a pic of several of my Back to School books that we love reading at the beginning of the year. These books are a hands-off section of our classroom library until we have already read the book, then the students can re-read if they wish. But they always go back where they came from! I store these away when it's time to start a new month with fresh books.

Taking it WAY back, this is a picture of one of my first classroom libraries. Y'all, the picture quality on that old iPhone was so bad that I can't even make it bigger for you because it's too blurry {I'M FEELING OLD!}. You can see this library is organized and labeled by A.R. level. Read my opinion on that above. But you can also see that a recurrent theme in my classroom library are those Dollar Tree baskets! They are simply THE BEST - in ALL the colors! Ha!

Now for this year...
I can't really show you a picture of my classroom library for this year, because it's in a pile in the middle of my current classroom's floor. I haven't touched it yet - LOL! BUT, I have made a decision on how I will organize my classroom library for next year. I actually wrote an entire blog post about it {HERE}. This blog post also stresses the importance of having STURDY book baskets! You can see which ones I recommend at the link above.

In an effort to streamline my classroom decor and to tone down the brights, I *think* (subject to change) that I am going to switch out my brightly colored baskets for these Sterilite baskets. First, they fit chapter books perfectly and will actually hold MORE than the Dollar Tree ones above. Second, I'm thinking of going with WHITE baskets on my black shelves to tone down the color explosion in my classroom. Let me know your thoughts... I still can't make up my mind.


One thing I do know is how my classroom library will be organized! This year I will be teaching reading along with math, so I will need to have my classroom library nicely labeled and organized. I can't think of a better way than exactly how a library or bookstore is organized - by author. It will be easy for me, easy for the kids, and will help them to practice that real life skill of using alphabetical order. After I have made my mind up about which color Sterilite containers, I will decide on a labeling system. I'm thinking I will go with a plain, simple black and white label. This is completely the opposite of how my classroom has ever been, so I'm still debating on the color options. What do you guys think?

Don't forget to head over to Jen's blog where several others will be linking up to share their classroom libraries! Join me next week for a blog post on Managing Centers in my classroom. Thanks for stopping by! See you next week!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Top 5 Teacher Must Haves: #5

Each day this week, I have been sharing one of my top 5 teacher must-have items. These are items that make my teacher life easier, my classroom more organized, and my time more efficient. In case you missed the previous posts, you will want to catch up on items #1-4 {HERE}, {HERE}, {HERE}, and {HERE}.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: 2nd Grade Stuff is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. If you click on an affiliate link on this blog and purchase, Amazon will toss a few coins my way, at no extra cost to you, to help keep this blog up and running.

 #5 Cheap & Easy Center Materials
{Affiliate Links Below}

Math centers can become super expensive really quickly, especially if you switch them out often. This is why it's important to use some staple items that you may already own or that you can get for a fairly reasonable price that will work for the majority of your math centers. These items are also very durable and will hold up well over time. Most of them allow for EASY differentiation as well - so important!

First, I like to use a variety of dice. I purchased the bundle of dice shown below. This bundle of dice has many, many variations. You will find dice that are 0-9, 1-10, 1-6, 1-20, and MORE! This makes it extremely easy to differentiate your math centers. Students can use the set of dice that will have them working at their individual ability levels - EASY PEASY differentiation! You can find this gigantic collection of dice at my affiliate link {HERE}. They are well worth the money and probably my most-used classroom item for math centers.


You can always use regular dice with dots as well. They're great for subitizing with the younger students. The yellow foam dice are a teacher's dream for making math centers quiet! The blank dice are always a really neat option. You can write on stickers and then put the stickers on the dice to make them customized for whatever skill you need at the time. You can also write directly on the blank dice, which is nice. You can find these dice by clicking on my affiliate links below:
Standard Dice (100 pack): http://amzn.to/2rAjIJb

If you have lots of spinner games or centers, these transparent spinners are a MUCH better option than the paperclip/pencil method. As you can see in the picture, I like to differentiate my spinners with Astrobrights colored paper also. The students know which color spinner they should be working with when they come to the center - EASY PEASY differentiation again! You can find the transparent spinners at my affiliate link {HERE} and the Astrobrights colored paper {HERE}.


Also, let's not forget about regular old playing cards! They are super cheap and easy to replace. They also allow for differentiation. For example, you might have some students building 2-digit numbers to add together, while others are building 3- or 4-digit numbers to add or subtract. You can also pull out the cards you don't want/need the students to use. Once again, EASY differentiation of a math center! You can find a large set of playing cards at my affiliate link {HERE}.


Finally, to prepare math centers and/or cards quickly and easily, I always use my Swingline paper cutter. This one is durable and will cut through up to 10 sheets of paper at once. I keep one at home and one at school for convenience! You can check out the one I own shown below at my affiliate link {HERE}.

I hope I have given you some cheap and easy ideas for math centers. For your ease of use, I'm providing my affiliate links to the items above in a comprehensive list below. This wraps up my Top 5 Teacher Must-Haves blog series. Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to follow along with me on my Facebook Page and Instagram for more classroom tips and tricks!

{Affiliate Links}


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Top 5 Teacher Must-Haves: #4

Each day this week, I will be sharing one of my top 5 teacher must-have items. These are items that make my teacher life easier, my classroom more organized, and my time more efficient. In case you missed the previous posts, you will want to catch up by reading {HERE}, {HERE}, and {HERE} to see my other teacher must-have items. Join me tomorrow to see another item and how I use it in my classroom.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: 2nd Grade Stuff is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. If you click on an affiliate link on this blog and purchase, Amazon will toss a few coins my way, at no extra cost to you, to help keep this blog up and running.

#4 Sterilite Clip Boxes
{Affiliate Links Below}


If you follow me on Instagram, then this Teacher Must-Have does NOT come as a surprise to you! :) I recently purchased an excessive large amount of these clip boxes from Sterilite in an effort to streamline my classroom storage to a cleaner, more unified look.  However, I can't decide on the darker blue, the NEW aqua blue color (super hard to find), or the green which I already own a several of. 

The small clip boxes below are the perfect size for school supplies (pencils, markers, crayons, even small tablets will fit). Let me warn you, however, these aqua blue ones are extremely hard to find. You can find the darker blue clip boxes in this small size at my affiliate link {HERE}.




The medium clip boxes are perfect for larger school supplies or extra materials. They're the same shape as the smaller ones, but deeper so they stack perfectly! You can find these medium sized clip boxes at my affiliate link {HERE}.




The larger clip boxes like below are PERFECT for math or ELA centers/materials. They are big enough to hold the materials (dice, spinners, cards, game boards, etc.) as well as the recording sheets plus writing utensils, etc. They are easily opened and closed by the students and stack perfectly to create a nice, stream-lined place for your center materials. You can find the larger sized clip boxes at my affiliate link {HERE}.



Finally, Sterilite also makes a deep clip box that is deeper than the one above. It is perfect for storing your bigger math manipulatives. In the pictures below, I have all of my dice that we use in math stored in one. And of course, they are STACKABLE - YES! You can find these at my affiliate link {HERE}.




{Affiliate Links Below}
These links are all to the darker blue handle clip boxes. 

So there you have it! My obsession collection of Sterilite Clip Boxes! I plan to completely give my classroom a facelift and switch over to ALL Sterilite Clip Box storage! Wish me luck deciding on a color! :) Don't forget to join me tomorrow to see my last teacher must-have item! You can find me here on the blog, on my Facebook Page, or on Instagram. See you soon!


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Top 5 Teacher Must-Haves: #3 (FREE Download)


Each day this week I am sharing one of my top 5 teacher must-have items. These are items that make my teacher life easier, my classroom more organized, and my time more efficient. So join me each day to see another must-have item! In case you missed the first two must-haves, you can see them {HERE} and {HERE}. 

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: 2nd Grade Stuff is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. If you click on an affiliate link on this blog and purchase, Amazon will toss a few coins my way, at no extra cost to you, to help keep this blog up and running.

{Affiliate Link}


If you're anything like me, you will do anything to make life easier when it comes to making copies for your class. These dry-erase pockets have been a lifesaver in my classroom. My students use them every single day for multiple uses.

We have a short 15-minute time frame where the students are in the classroom at 8:15, but school doesn't officially start until 8:30. Students are rolling in anytime within those 15 minutes, some with breakfast in their hands. During this chaotic precious time, we do a morning work page that focuses on our number sense and also our language skills for the week with two sentences to re-write correctly. Well those copies would add up quickly each day! The solution is to slip the morning work page into the dry-erase pockets so that we can use and reuse again and again. Win-Win! You can download this Morning Work page for FREE right {HERE}. 

Let's talk recording sheets for ELA and/or math centers. Those copies can also add up quickly! I don't print or make copies of the recording sheets for each student for multiple days. That would take forever and use so much paper! I simply print 3-5 recording sheets (depending on the group size) and slip them into the dry-erase pockets and students use them over and over again. So easy!! These recording pages are from my Money Activities pack found {HERE}.

You can grab a 10-pack of these neon colored dry-erase pockets on Amazon (affiliate link) {HERE}! I have enough for every student to have one pocket for morning work and also enough for each of my math and ELA centers to use as recording sheets. They are super durable and such a time-saver!

I hope you join me tomorrow for #4 in my Top 5 Teacher Must-Haves blog series. You can catch it here on the blog, on my Facebook Page, or on Instagram. See you soon!


Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Top 5 Teacher Must-Haves: #2

Each day this week, I will be sharing one of my top 5 teacher must-have items. These are items that make my teacher life easier, my classroom more organized, and my time more efficient. In case you missed it yesterday, you will want to start reading {HERE} to see my #1 teacher must-have. Join me each day to see another must-have item and how I use it in my classroom.

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: 2nd Grade Stuff is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. If you click on an affiliate link on this blog and purchase, Amazon will toss a few coins my way, at no extra cost to you, to help keep this blog up and running.

#2 Sturdy Book Baskets
{Affiliate Links Below}


Book baskets for your classroom library can get VERY expensive, so it's important to choose wisely when spending your precious dollars on something that will be used (and sometimes abused) every single day. I have found that the more sturdy the material, the better! You want something that is going to last so that you don't have to continue buying new containers each year!

I have had many, many variations of book baskets in my classroom library. I had some super expensive baskets from a very popular brand that did NOT hold up well at all. They didn't even last me through one school year without the handles breaking off or the baskets themselves cracking. They looked pretty, but didn't hold up to the wear and tear of everyday book browsing.

Some of my favorite baskets have been the ones below. The small baskets for the chapter books are from The Dollar Tree several years back. The larger baskets are from Big Lots, also several years ago. They are very colorful and have held up really well over the past few years!


For this next year, I'm thinking about toning down my brightly colored classroom and going for more of a stream-lined look. I'm thinking about using the black Sterilite baskets below to organize my classroom library this year. {Affiliate Links} The small baskets are perfect for chapter books. The medium baskets are perfect for picture books. I think it's SUPER important that in any classroom library, students are able to see the covers of books in order to quickly find a book they might be interested in. This is why all of my books' covers are facing the front.

You can see below that the small baskets are perfect for chapter books. There are 28 Magic Tree House books in the far left basket. That gives you an idea of the storage size of the small baskets. You can check these out at my Affiliate link {HERE}. This links you to a 6-pack of small white baskets.

In the picture below, you can see that the medium-sized baskets are perfect for picture books. Even my bigger picture books will fit in this size basket. I just turn in sideways so that the book covers are facing the front. You can compare the two sizes (small and medium) below. You can check out the medium-sized baskets at my Affiliate link {HERE}. This links you to a 6-pack of the medium white baskets.

Another great feature of these Sterilite baskets is that they are STACKABLE. If you want to use them for storage of math manipulatives or other classroom goodies, you can save room by flipping the handles and then they STACK! Score! :)

{Affiliate Links Below}

Please join me tomorrow for #3 in my Top 5 Teacher Must-Haves blog series. You can catch it here on the blog, on my Facebook Page, or on Instagram. See you tomorrow!


Monday, June 12, 2017

Top 5 Teacher Must-Haves: #1

Each day this week, I will be sharing one of my top 5 teacher must-have items. These are items that make my teacher life easier, my classroom more organized, and my time more efficient. So join me each day to see another must-have item!

Amazon Affiliate Disclosure: 2nd Grade Stuff is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. If you click on an affiliate link on this blog and purchase, Amazon will toss a few coins my way, at no extra cost to you, to help keep this blog up and running.

This links to a 4-pack of drawers which is how many I use in my classroom.


These 3-drawer containers made by Sterilite are a life-saver! They are designed to fit 8.5" x 11" paper perfectly with room to spare. Let me show you how I use them in my classroom.


I have one drawer per subject area. I plan one unit at a time, so I put all of my unit plans, materials, and copies in the drawers. Then when it's time to use a set of copies or materials, I just pull them out of the drawer and down into the Monday - Friday bins. I will have a blog post about those later! ;) These colorful labels are from Learning in Wonderland and can be purchased {HERE}.



The larger size drawers are also the perfect fit for iPads or similar sized tablets. If you are able, you can also drill a hole in the back of the drawer for your charger cable to slip through! The smaller 5-drawer containers are also a perfect fit for iPods if you're lucky enough to have those in your classroom. Those can be found {Affiliate Link} HERE in a pack of 4 as well.



Lastly, I use the 3-drawer containers on my teacher desk to organize papers that need to be graded, copied, and filed. Notice that I left these transparent purposely so that I can see inside! It's easy to forget about papers when you can't see what's inside. This set stays on or near my teacher desk and helps to avoid stacks of paper sitting everywhere!

So there you have it! My #1 Teacher Must-Have item - 3-Drawer Sterilite Containers {Affiliate Link}! Join me tomorrow night here on the 2nd Grade Stuff blog, on my Facebook page, or on Instagram to see #2! See ya then! :)