Friday, July 31, 2015

a VERY happy birthday & a birthday FREEBIE!

If you've been following my blog for a while, then you know that a year ago today, I gave birth to the most amazing little girl -- an amazing little girl who was born with half a heart.  Since that day, that sweet girl has had 3 open heart surgeries, one closed heart surgery, two ECMO cannulations (complete life support), a terrible run of endocarditis (infection of the heart), 6 cardiac arrests, 270+ days in the hospital, and *drumroll please* a heart transplant!  She received her hero heart May 7th and has been doing well.  She finally put on some weight and is hitting milestones like crazy. Her biggest milestone yet is today as we celebrate her FIRST BIRTHDAY.  I can't believe my sweet girl is one.  It has been a crazy year and we are so very grateful to the amazing family who shared their sweet angel's heart with us. 

To celebrate Sawyer and all of my readers who have loved, supported, and prayed for her throughout this journey, I whipped up a fun freebie for you!

I did the super awful, terrible job (HA!) of scoping out Target and Dollar Tree for some fun and inexpensive birthday gifts to give to your littles on their big day.  Then I whipped up these printer friendly tags to go along with them. 

Crazy Straws are $1 for a pack of 6 at Dollar Tree!

Glow Sticks are $1 for a pack of 8 at Dollar Tree!

This Scentos Play Dough is $5 for a pack of 10 at Target! 

These "magic" wands are $3 for a Pack of 10 at Target  They are great for your Read to Self Station, too!

Bouncy Balls are $3 for a pack of 12 at Target.  Who doesn't love bouncy balls?

These cute little handheld mazes are $5 for a pack of 18 at Target! 

Pick your favorite treat, buy a class set, plus some extra for kids who will move in mid-year, print your tags and VOILA. 

ORRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.... Do what I do and make yourself a Birthday GRAB BAG!  Buy ALL the fun goodies, throw them in a cute Birthday Bag, and let the kids pick their poison! 

I made a generic tag in case you want to do that! Otherwise, you could have all the tags printed and give them the right one when they pick their gift! 

Grab your  freebie tags below and thanks for helping me celebrate my Sweet Sawyer's First BIRTHDAY! 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

First Week of Kindergarten

So flash back to the end of the school year.  You were high-fiving and hugging your practically first graders and sending them off for some fun in the sun. You sent them off as readers and writers, scientists and mathematicians.  In that moment, it's difficult to remember how they came to you. When you met them in August, they couldn't read, write, add, tie their shoes, spell their name.  Oh, and they were short.  When do they get so tall?!?? The first few weeks, from what I can recall (since I block most of that stuff out) are... well... uhh... interesting.  Once or twice you might find yourself asking, "What was I EVER thinking becoming a kindergarten teacher?"  It's okay. You're not alone.  Hang in there.  It gets better... in fact, it gets SO good!  I thought I'd share with you what week 1 in Mrs. Kelly's Klass looks like.

Do you have a Meet the Teacher night prior to the first day of school?  This is such a good way to:

1. Get the kids excited about school.
2. Meet your students to help eliminate fear.
3. Open the door to communication with parents.
4. Get yourself organized before the school year starts.

Here's how Meet the Teacher works in my classroom!

Here are some of the forms families complete. I do my best to stay organized - get contact information in place, know what parents are interested in helping in the classroom, know how kids are getting home. These forms help me get all that information in order, and they go in a binder with copies of the kids' enrollment cards. 

All of the items for Meet the Teacher night are available alone in my Meet the Teacher pack OR as part of my HUGE First Week Pack that has everything you will read about next! (Don't get both! The forms are included in the First Week Pack!)

So then, school starts.  The beginning of the year is a chaotic but exciting time in Kindergarten.  We practice, A LOT. I set clear expectations from the very beginning and I enforce them from the very beginning.  But along with these expectations, I also like to kinda dive right in, so to speak.  I want the kids to start doing some of the things they will do all year long -- like printables and stations, sitting for read alouds, participating in whole group and small group activities, reading, all of it!  I like my kids to learn the rules, routines, and expectations in TANDEM with the actual things they will be doing for the rest of the school year.  I like them to learn what is expected of them by DOING.  I refuse to spend an entire week just talking at my kids about rules.
We do stations.


For the first few weeks, kids participate in stations that will get them acclimated to the materials we will be using all year {unifix cubes, snap cubes, pattern blocks, dry erase markers, clipboards, play dough, etc.)  I like to introduce a station whole group -- go over the instructions and expectations for using that particular material {i.e. snap cubes are NOT for building swords and/or guns and playdough is NOT meant for squishing into the carpet}.  Then EVERYONE in the class does the same station.  They get used to working in a group, and I don't have to worry about managing 5 different activities at the same time.  Next day, new station, and so on... until I've introduced enough stations to start an actual rotation! 

We do printables.

Kids need to get used to putting pencils and crayons to paper.  I don't expect them to be writing novels, but you have to start somewhere.  I can use this opportunity to teach them how to get supplies, what to do when their pencil breaks, where to turn papers in, how their mailboxes work, etc. 

We sit at the carpet! 

Two of my favorite books to read during the first week of school are Wemberly Worried and The Kissing Hand.  Perhaps it's because I'm a bit of a worrywart myself.  These books are so relateable and by reading them, whole group, at the carpet, we get to practice norms for read alouds.  

And we do whole group activities! 
These books make for great jumping off points for some whole group fun and small group fun! 

We will do a school room scavenger hunt after reading The Kissing Hand.  Students will search the school for clues left behind by Chester.  They get to find all the important places AND we get to practice hallway expectations. 

(This mini unit is included in my Beginning of the Year pack, but also sold separately!)

We'll talk, chart, and write about our feelings after reading Wemberly Worried. 

Developing that strong classroom community early on is so important.  When kids can relate to one another and open up about their feelings, they create a positive and welcoming environment.

We dance! 

Because they are FIVE.  Because they are nervous.  Because they have never been asked to sit still for this long.  Because they miss their moms.  Because dancing is FUN.  Because it's good for their sweet little brains and bodies! 

Above all, have fun and be happy.  If you're happy, they will be happy.  If you're welcoming, they will feel welcomed.  If you create a structure, they will fall in place.  You can pick up all the activities/printables/STUFF shown above in one nice pretty package by clicking the image below. For those who return to school next week, wishing you a happy school year! :)  Grab EVERYTHING you read about today all in one place by clicking here or the image below. 

OH, and if you missed it before... be sure to go pick up these Dismissal Tags for FREE! I blogged about them last week.  Click here to read and click the image below to download. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Don't Dread Dismissal

Oh, back to school. Whether you are a brand new teacher or a seasoned veteran, as we inch closer to school year, we all have those dreaded beginning of the year nightmares.  Maybe in your worst nightmares, you show up to school with absolutely nothing planned.  Maybe your principal comes in to do a formal observation on day 1.  Maybe you have a class full of rabid wolves.  My back to school nightmare consists of losing all my kids at dismissal. 
The bell rings, and *Poof!* they're gone and I'm left fielding calls from terrified parents wondering where their kids are and how I could possibly lose one in the utter chaos  super smooth process of dismissal on week 1. If you share those fears, I'm hoping this little tool can ease your mind just a little. 

Picture it now: the dismissal bell rings.  You have 6 kids head off for the car rider line.  Fingers crossed they make it to the right place and the appropriate person comes to pick them up at an appropriate time.  2 kids go off to the walker area.  1 kiddo stays after for YMCA and you're left with 20 some kids to head off to the gobzillion buses lined up outside the school. 

I want to introduce you to your best friend come 3:00 (or whenever it is that you get to hug and high five those little babies goodbye and sit down for the first time that day!) Dismissal Tags.  What is a dismissal tag?  It's a little color coded peace of mind.  There is a tag for each way a kid gets to their destination - Bus Rider, Car Rider, Walker, or After School (for a YMCA type program).  All you do is print them on different colors of bright card stock, fill them out for each kid, and laminate. Then you can zip tie or safety pin them to your kiddo's backpack for the first week, first two weeks, or even the whole year of Kindergarten! 

Each tag has the kid's name (because a shy studentmight not answer a random teacher when they ask them what their name is) and their teacher's name.  I put the teacher's name so that they can easily be contacted by any adult in the school regarding dismissal questions.  The bus tag also includes their bus number.  Each kind of transportation is copied on a different color for ease of visibility.  Those who monitor the car rider line can easily spot someone who is out of place and send them on their way to the proper place. It eases my mind knowing that any adult, or even older kid in the school can look at my little's tag and help them get where they need to be, should they become lost, AND they can get a hold of me to ask me questions or let me know what's going on. 

Something else we do for the first week of school is pair each of our littles with a 5th or 6th grader.  Their big kid helps them get off the bus and into the classroom in the morning.  Then they come back 5 minutes before dismissal and pair up with their little to help them get on to their bus in the afternoon! 

You can pick up the Dismissal Tags for FREE by clicking the image below! 

For a few more beginning of the year Kindergarten must haves, click through the images below! 

Thanks for visiting, and I wish you the BEST year EVER! :)