Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pets in the Classroom

My "Pets in the Classroom" Grant aquatic turtle

"Why have a class pet? Won't it just be extra work?" "Won't it SMELL?" 'What's the point?" "Not in my classroom!" 

These were some of the responses I received when I announced that I had won a "Pets in Classroom" grant and would be getting an aquatic turtle for my classroom.  

My reaction - "Why would I NOT want a pet in my classroom?" 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

I have always had pets since I was a kid. Granted, they were mainly cats and dogs (with a few rabbits thrown in the mix) and I obviously can't have dogs or cats as class pets, but the point is I still had pets. That thought got me to thinking about my students. I teach in a school that sees poverty (a pretty good bit of it) and I began to think about my students that don't have pets and what all they are missing out on.  

What are they missing out on you might ask? 

Well, LOTS! Pets give you a sense of responsibility and ownership - knowing that something depends on YOU to stay alive is an awesome feeling.  
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

By having a pet in the classroom, students are given an opportunity to be responsible for something other than themselves, and to gain respect for the life of other living things. By having a pet in the classroom, students are able to experience animals in an entirely different way! They are able to not only see the animal, but also touch and connect with the animal. 

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock

Students get the experience of owning a pet and learn the responsibility of caring for another living thing. Also, studies have shown that the presence of animals tends to lessen the tensions in classrooms (Can I get an amen?) and can also improve attendance

Now how in the world can having a class pet improve student attendance? Think about it! You have a student who isn't crazy about school and has parents who don't really care whether their child attends school regularly or not - if you have a class pet, that child now has a reason to come to school. The students take ownership of the pet and want to come to school to care for it. 
It's a win for everyone!
Photo Credit: Adobe Stock
If you are interested in getting a pet in classroom, I recommend visiting Pets in the Classroom and reading about the different types of grants that are available. It is really simple to apply and the response time is about 3-4 weeks. Once you are approved, you will be sent coupons to HELP cover the cost of your pet. (Disclaimer: Your grant will not cover the entire cost. I didn't realize that when I purchased my pet, so I wanted to make sure that you were aware.) You simply take the coupons to the store that you chose and get your pet! Easy peasy! 

If you have a pet in your classroom, I would love to hear about it! Please share in comments! 


Friday, July 1, 2016

Table Rehab: the BIG Reveal!



So, last year I decided to cover my tables with wrapping paper and Modge Podge. Great idea, right? Sure, if you plan on leaving them that way and you don't have picky kiddos who pick holes and pull up pieces of the paper. The little holes and torn places wouldn't have been such a big deal if I had continued to use the tables for station activities and computers, but I decided to get rid of my desks this year and use tables, so now I needed the tables for my students' workspace! Should be simple, right? Grab the Goo Gone and a scrapper and get to work! Easy Peasy, right?


Wrong! As you can see from the picture, Goo Gone didn't work. It seemed no different than just scraping the paper off dry, which is what I tried next.

My daughter, Rylee, helping scrape the table.
Again, no luck. At this point my goal was to just get the tables smooth enough to recover with chalkboard contact paper and hope for the best. I couldn't quite get the table smooth enough with only a scrapper to suit the purpose of a student work space. I mean, this is where handwriting, directed drawing, and coloring would take place and any bump or ridge just wouldn't do!

So, my next step was to try sanding the bumps and ridges off.


I loaded up the tables in the back of my truck and carried them to my dad's shop to use his air compressor sander. The sander would have worked eventually I think, but by this time my dad was helping me and he said he had a better idea.

My genius Daddy :)

He does a little bit of auto body work (mainly painting) and he wanted to try using some of his extra strength paint thinner-remover-stuff (sorry I can't remember the technical name) to see if that would release the glue enough to scrape it off. So he brushed it on and we let it set for a few minutes, then got to work scraping.

Photo courtesy of Rylee
Praise the Lord! It worked! We finally got all of the paper scraped off and then my dad went over it with the sander to get of the left over glue, and "Voila`!"


A nice, clean, smooth table! We worked and got the other tables cleaned off and moved them back into my classroom.


I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the way that tables changed
the entire look and feel of my classroom! It actually looks and feels like a kindergarten classroom. I can't wait to get the rest of my room put back together and share my classroom with you! 
Hope you enjoyed reading about my table rehab. 
What is something that you have fixed up to use in your classroom?





Wednesday, July 8, 2015

What is a Classroom?

The classroom. 
(photo credit: Dollar Photo Club)

If you are NOT a teacher, then it is just a place that teachers spend their day doing their job so that they can pay the bills. A place called "work" or "the job site". A place to send your kids to learn.

If you are a TEACHER, then it is your home away from home. The place where you spend the majority of your day. For some teachers, it's your "baby" (as Jennifer from First Grade Blue Skies says), your happy place, your escape from the ugliness of the world. 

And if you are a STUDENT, hopefully it is YOUR "safe place", YOUR home away from home, YOUR happy place, YOUR escape from the ugliness of the world. For teachers and students, the classroom isn't just another room. It is a magical place where you can be anything YOU want to be. A place where you can expand your mind and LEARN! A place where you can feel safe to express yourself in a variety of ways. A place where life-long friendships are born. A place where you feel LOVED and APPRECIATED. A place where you are greeted each morning with a smile and a "Good morning" by someone who is GENUINELY happy to see you.        

A place where you want to be. 

(My classroom on the last day of school)

I was asked the other day why I spend so much of my summer vacation in my classroom. 

My answer? 

I want my classroom to be a place where my students are excited to come to everyday. A place where they can be proud to call their own.
 I want my classroom to be open and inviting to parents, students, and other educators. 
I want my enthusiasm and love of teaching to be seen when you walk in my room. 
I want my room to inspire students to be excited about school and learning! 

At my school, most of my kindergarten students will have never been away from home (no preschool, no daycare). When they set foot inside my classroom for Meet the Teacher night, I want them to be excited to come back for the first day. That is important to me and that is why at least one day a week during my summer break I have been at school working in my classroom. 
Yes, it is a lot of work. Yes, it is dedication. Yes, some may call it unnecessary (not me!). But it is what I do and what I want to do. For me the summer isn't a time for rest and relaxation (I do a lot of that too!), but it is a time of preparation and planning for my new little darlings that will be coming to me in a few short weeks. 

For me, a classroom isn't just a a room in a building where students come to learn nine months out of the year. For me, a classroom is MY home away from home, MY happy place, MY escape from the ugliness of the world; a place where I work my tail off trying to help my "kids" become the best readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, historians, artists, explorers, creators, inventors, and kids that they can be. It is a place where I KNOW that I am making a difference, no matter how small. 

It is a place that I love. 

Does it mean that I have to work a little bit harder? Yes! Does it mean that the reward will be a little bit bigger? Definitely! Is worth it? For sure!  If it means that at the end of the day, week, month, or school year I have just one student who felt a little safer and a little more loved after coming to my classroom, then heck yeah it is worth it! Because let's be honest, that is the real job of a teacher. To create an environment where students feel loved and feel safe. If placed in a safe and loving environment with a person that truly cares, a child will learn. So if I have to work just a little bit harder to create that environment, then I am going to do it with a smile. Because that is what a classroom is - a place where children can go to feel safe and loved with a little bit (ok a lot) of learning mixed in.

Happy summer and I hope that you are having as much fun working in your classroom (or planning for your classroom) as I am!


Thursday, April 2, 2015

IT'S FINALLY HERE!!!!! And the BIG SURPRISE is....


That's RIGHT! You can now find my products on Educents! And it's not just the deals either. ;) Educents has opened up its very own marketplace for teachers, parents, and homeschoolers! You can find all of my best products for the primary grades in my BRAND-NEW EDUCENTS Storefront. {Click HERE to take a look around.}

Can you tell I'm a little excited??!!! I'm SO EXCITED, in fact, that I am offering a FREEBIE that is EXCLUSIVELY for Educents. This freebie is a sample of my newest FROG Close Read. 

Grab it {HERE}

It includes an informational passage and activity that is PERFECT for the primary grades. I am still adding to the entire pack so you are able to grab this FREEBIE before you can even buy the pack! Pretty cool, huh? And all because you visited my Educents Store. :) Happy Day to YOU!



I have also teamed up with some AMAZING blogger/teacher friends who are also launching their Educents Stores. All you have to do is enter the giveaway below by showing some LOVE to each of the wonderful stores! Easy Peasy!

Educents Marketplace $50 in Edubucks Giveaway #5 - Kindergarten Stores



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Seuss Week 2015.....and a special "good-bye"

Seuss Week this year was SO MUCH FUN! Each day was packed with different Seuss activities and the kids LOVED it! I love when we can get away from the "routine" and just have fun! (Educationally, of course!) 

On Day 1, we read "Green Eggs and Ham" and "The Cat in the Hat".


We ate green eggs and ham and then wrote about what we thought!


For the most part, everyone liked them!



I got the idea for these cats {here}


Don't you just LOVE our Things???


These cute hats came from {here}.


And you can't read "The Cat and the Hat" without making Thing 1 & 2 headbands! This year I let my kinders cut out their own blue hair. :)

Day 2 was dedicated to "Horton Hatches the Egg" and "There's a Wocket in my Pocket".

I made sure that we had some sort of "special snack" every day. Cadbury Creme Eggs and marshmallow eggs were it on Day 2!


We also "hatched" out of our own eggs! The kinders wrote what they would say as they came out of their egg.


Then we let the creative juices flow and made our own wockets! I gave each student three pieces of construction paper, googly eyes, and a cotton ball and told them to create! At first, they didn't really know what to do, but they caught on pretty quickly. :) I thought that they turned out pretty darn cute!

On Day 3, we read "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" and "The Foot Book".

A BIG THANKS to Vickie Plant at Primary Press for the ideas and activities we used with "One Fish, Two Fish". You can check out her blog by clicking {here}.



I also found this AWESOME idea of painting with corn syrup on Pinterest.



The kids LOVED it! I also let them cut out their own fish instead of just giving them a template. Some turned out looking pretty interesting! 

After we read "The Foot Book", we traced our shoe print and measured different things in the room.



Day 4 was a SNOW DAY (actually ice again). :(

Day 5 was a BUSY day! We managed to fit in most of the activities that I had planned for both Day 4 and 5. 
We read "Mr. Brown Can Moo. Can You?" and talked about onomatopoeia.

Again, thank you Vickie!




We read "The Cat in the Hat Comes Back" and made Cat in the Hat Magic Dough.



It was VERY MESSY but VERY FUN!

We ended our day/week by reading "Hop on Pop", eating POPcorn, drinking "pink ink", and watching Dr. Seuss movies on the big screen.



All in all, I think we had a pretty "SEUSS"tastical week!

And now for the "special goodbye".....

Our school (K-12) normally incorporates all kinds of different reading and writing activities throughout the week, but this year it had to take a backseat and all the school wide activities were cancelled. You see, on March 1st our school and community lost a very special man. Coach Doug Fuller, our junior high history teacher, suffered a heart attack and went home to be with the Lord. Our school and community spent the week mourning the loss of a man who impacted so many lives that it is unbelievable. I can only hope that one day I can make the kind of impact that he has made. 

Fly high Coach Fuller! I WILL see you again!


Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Lil' Bit of President's Day with some Valentine's on the Side

So the past week has been CRAZY with weather - snow and ice...mainly ICE.

 Last week was one of those weeks that you just survive. 

We were out on Monday for President's Day, out on Tuesday for weather (ice), school on Wednesday, delayed start (ice) AND in-house professional development on Thursday, and early dismissal (ice with a TINY bit of snow) on Friday.

Needless to say, all of the fun activities that I had planned for President's Day didn't happen. :(

We did, however, find the time on Wednesday to read the book Duck for President and talk about what we would do if we were President. (I intended to copy all of their ideas down onto a cute anchor chart to display, but time was not on my side!) Time did allow for a little flag craft and discussion!


We first examined the flag in our classroom and counted the stripes and stars.

Then, we made our own!



We added a little writing activity (of course!) to our flag and then displayed them in the hallway.
(I think he has the right idea!) 


So that is all that we accomplished for President's Day. 

Before I go, let me share some of our Valentine's Day boxes. I got the idea from Simply Kinder! You can check it out {here}. 

I have to say I was VERY surprised at how well these turned out! This was the first year that I have done anything like this. We usually just decorate white paper bags and call it a day. :)


All of them were WONDERFUL! You can tell that a lot of thought and time went into making them.

 Here are a few of my favorites:








I will DEFINITELY be doing this again! Thanks Jennifer from Simply Kinder!

One more thing....

can't leave out our BEE-utiful bees from Jennifer at First Grade Blue Skies!

I hope everyone has a Happy Monday! I will be enjoying yet another Snow (ICE) Day!