Saturday, June 23, 2018

Kindergarten Classroom Management Summer Series

Hi friends!

Every summer, I find myself reflecting back on the school year and thinking about what worked well and what needs to be improved. If you're anything like me, classroom management is always on my mind! I love to spend time every summer scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest finding new ideas and tips to try (while I'm sitting by the pool of course!) After 6 years of teaching Kindergarten, I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on what works and what doesn't when it comes to classroom management.

So... this summer, I will be sharing a weekly blog post series focusing on classroom management in Kindergarten. Each Monday, a new post will be posted with lots of ideas for you to try in your classroom.

If you have questions you would like answered, you can email me at or DM me on Instagram @sweetforkindergarten by Friday June 30th, and I will choose the top 5 (or more) questions from each topic to cover!

Hope you enjoy this summer series!


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Behavior Goals

Do you ever feel as if some students are overwhelmed by the rules and expectations in your classroom? These students struggle with trying to follow all the rules and this sets them up to fail. If they were just able to focus on working towards one goal per day, they would have a much higher chance of succeeding. Let your students take responsibility for their behavior, set a daily behavior goal, and watch their overall behavior improve!

What are Behavior Goals?
The purpose of Behavior Goals is to have students choose one rule per day to focus on.
Once they decide what their behavior goal for the day will be, they get a card with a picture of the rule for their desk or add it to the Behavior Goals board. This visual reminds them of what they are working on for that day.

How this works in my classroom:
During Morning Meeting, my students sit in a circle and go around stating what behavior goal they will be working towards for the day. Usually I have them tell the class one way they will meet their goal. For example, Student #1 might say his behavior goal is Self-Control, and one way he will meet it is to keep his hands to himself. I hand them their Behavior Goals card and they go put it in the clear desk pocket.
Throughout the day, I will reference their Behavior Goals and have the students do a quick "self check" and think about how they are accomplishing their goal or if they are having any trouble with their specific goal for the day. At the end of the day, we come together for our short Afternoon Meeting and talk about whether or not they met their goal. Most days, everyone meets their goals and we cheer on each other and they add a sticker to their sticker chart! If I know a student is not making their behavior goal, I try to pull them aside to have a quick one on one. Together, we come up with ideas that will help them do better tomorrow. Then, they work on a thinking sheet, which gets sent home for their parents to see. That student would choose the same behavior goal the next day.

What might this look like in my classroom?
It is entirely up to you how you want it to set up in your classroom. You can use it for individual students who are having behavior problems or the entire class can make their own individual goal. Your class could also set a Class Behavior Goal, that everyone works toward for the day. You could pull this out right before a break when students start to get a little stir crazy, or go all in from the start of the year. You could decide you want a bulletin board to display their goals, or make it more private, like a sticky note on their crayon box. You could have full class discussions about behavior or one on one talks with students. It is your classroom and you know what will work best for your students.
Bulletin Board: 
Use a bulletin board to display the behavior goals. I laminated these Behavior Goals cards and had students write their names with dry erase markers on whichever goal they chose for that day.
Pocket Chart: 
If you don't have an entire bulletin board up for grabs, a small pocket chart would work too! Just write your student's names on an index card and have them place it next to their behavior goal for the day.

How it's working well in my classroom:
I started using behavior goals after a really bad report from one of the Specials. My students were out of control, not listening, and being disrespectful to the Specials teacher. When I thought about it, they were having more trouble than usual following simple directions, listening, and using self control that whole week. The next morning, I had my students make a list of what they were struggling with, and they came up with many of these behavior goals. Then, they chose just ONE to work on for the rest of the day and we wrote them all down, to hold them accountable. By the end of the day, I noticed a huge improvement in not only their behavior goal they chose, but their all around behavior. We started making this a part of our daily classroom management system. My students now take responsibility of their actions and work really hard to meet their behavior goal. In just one month, the number of notes going home has decreased and more of my students are earning rewards for their wonderful behavior.

If you are interested in trying Behavior Goals in your classroom, check out the product here:
I hope this helps your students as much as it helped my class!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

15 Easy Ideas for Elf on the Shelf in your Classroom

Every year, we have a special visitor in my classroom in December- Elf on the Shelf! December is a crazy month, so I will do any extra incentives that help my student's behavior. I won't go into detail of why I love the Elf so much, but pretty much it, 1. Is always watching and 2. Reports to Santa every night, so that means my students are very intent on making good choices to impress our Elf.
Having an Elf in your classroom is one EXTRA thing you have to do before you leave/arrive in the morning, but if you plan ahead, it does make it so much easier! All these ideas are either FREE and include things in your classroom or have a very minimal cost (like Target Dollar Spot pencils or a box of candy canes) I use this handy Elf calendar to "schedule" my Elf's creative hiding spots or mischievious doings. I even have a sample calendar you can look at for more ideas!

Here are 15 easy ideas to use the Elf in your classroom:

1. Put a big bow on the Elf and "camouflage" in a Christmas tree. This is how our Elf arrived to our classroom this year. My students didn't find it for over an hour!

2. Have the Elf put up Christmas lights in your classroom. The Elf gets tangled up in the lights while he's putting them up!

3. The Elf gets into your candy stash! We have a Kiss Your Brain jar and the Elf must've been a little chocolate hungry. I even smeared a little chocolate on his cheeks and my students thought this was the funniest thing ever. 

4. When your students have an awesome day and receive lots of great reports from specials, I always have a little something saved up for them. I leave it on their desk with a "Great job" type of note from Santa or the Elf. I usually find something small at the Target Dollar Spot. One year, they have Elf on the Shelf erasers, which were perfect! You could also do a piece of candy or a fun reward coupon to make it free.

5. The Elf leaves a note using magnetic letters. This is another way to announce a fun reward, or you can write a note from the Elf.

6. The Elf propels down from the ceiling! I made a paper chain, but you could also use ribbon, twine, string, yarn, or even toilet paper. Just be sure to tape him up there or else he might free fall in the middle of your lesson!

7. Uh-oh, someone touched the Elf! He had a rough flight back from the North Pole, hence all the band-aids and "DO NOT DISTURB" sign. This inevitably happens every year, because a curious or handsy student just has to touch the Elf. Usually this happens once and no one else dares to touch the Elf.

Here's two ideas you can do separately or together! 
8. The Elf makes a "snow angel" out of marshmallows. 
9. The Elf brings supplies for hot chocolate! This is usually what I do on our last day with the Elf. We watch The Polar Express and drink our hot chocolate that our Elf so graciously brought my students for their wonderful behavior.

10. Another great "hiding place" for the Elf! Make a big paper snowflake and hide him behind it. I've also seen teachers have the Elf decorate the classroom with paper snowflakes, so if you have time, go for that!

11. Here's a wonderful idea from Kristen at Kissing Our Brains in K. Have the Elf play in the STEM bins! If you don't have STEM bins, you could always have the Elf playing with the math manipulative bins. Follow her on Instagram here for even more Elf on the Shelf ideas!

12. The Elf brings a "new" book to read! It doesn't have to be new or it could even be a book you buy from your Scholastic rewards. I love having the Elf get my students excited about reading new books! (Idea from Raining Hot Coupons)

13. The Elf scales the window, or whiteboard, or wall using stick on bows! This is a new idea that I added to my Elf on the Shelf calendar for this year. (Idea uploaded on Pinterest here)

14. The Elf makes Christmas decorations using Play-Doh. This is another last minute, easy idea for the Elf. (Idea uploaded on Pinterest here)

15. The Elf has a candy cane scavenger hunt! Hide candy canes all around your classroom and have your students find them. Once they find one, they get to eat it or take it home. You could also attach a letter/word to each candy cane and have the students unscramble for a special message! (Idea from Skinny Mom)

Need more ideas?

Follow my Pinterest board: "Elf on the Shelf" for even more fun ideas to try in your classroom!

Follow me on Instagram or using the hashtag #sweetforkindergartenelf for even more ideas! 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Classroom Reveal 2017

This past summer I had to do the dreaded task of moving classrooms again. In my 6 years of teaching, I have moved classrooms or to a new school 5 times. Even though I do not like packing, just to unpack and set up an entirely new classroom, it does give me time to purge and have a nice, clean slate to work with. I finished my classroom with about an hour to spare before Meet the Teacher, so I was very relieved! I am still missing bits and pieces of my classroom, specifically labeling everything and adding a few things to bulletin boards, but it is ready for the first day!
This year's "theme" is tropical fruit! I always have the same color scheme every year- turquoise, lime, and pink, but like to change different themes each year. The bulletin board letters were made using Astrobrights Color Paper. I also used Tropical Punch Pineapples Border, Yellow Wavy Border and fabric from JoAnn's. 
This is my classroom door bulletin board, and I know I am lucky to only have 7 students so far! Last year I had 18, so the numbers do change a lot. Teaching at a private school definitely has some benefits. I used the Ombre Lime Green Scallops Borders because it matched this pineapple fabric I was lucky enough to find last year at JoAnn's. 
These are my displayed work bulletin boards. I use them to hang up work easily and not have to take out my stapler every time I want to hang them up. They are a lifesaver and so easy to change frequently. I used clothespins and hot glued them to colorful scrapbook paper and then printed out a little pineapple/circle and glued that to the other side of the clothespin. It is so much easier than trying to glue the thumbtack to the clothespin! 
Find what I used here:
Ombre Turquoise Scallops Borders
Pineapple Bulletin Board Kit by Apples & ABCs

For my Classroom Jobs, I will use a clothespin to keep track of which student has each job for the week. I used hot glue and ribbon, and then stapled it to this bulletin board. Find it here: Classroom Jobs by Sweet for Kindergarten

These are my new classroom "rules". I like to have encouraging rules to build our classroom community in a positive way. We repeat these every day and refer to them quite a lot, especially in the beginning of the year. Find them here: In this class... Classroom Rules.

Focus Walls are a great visual tool for your students (and YOU!) to focus on what you are learning for the week. At the beginning of the week, we go over what we are learning, and then throughout the week, we refer back to the board. My students will use it when they need help spelling a word, or if they forget the essential question. My school uses the program Reading Wonders, and you can find this focus wall here: Kindergarten or First Grade
So this year, I am trying something new.... No teacher desk! It has taken up so much room and I hardly sit at it anyways, so I am trying this out for now. I have a computer table and then will be using my small group table next to it. It does get a little cramped back there, and I had to find a home for my 10 million Flair pens and Sharpies (new home: in the rainbow cart), but so far it is working well! 
Here's a closer look at my organization behind the teacher table. If you are going desk-less, you have to figure out a storage/organization system that works! Thank God for this toolbox! Without it, I don't think I would have been able to get rid of my desk. Labels are from Teach Create Motivate, you can find them here. I use these turquoise and pink bins from Michaels for my daily plans. I have two 3 drawer storage organizer to store paper, copies, and things to prep. On top of the shelf, there is a To Copy paper tray because that is what I end up reaching for the most. 
I used these Rainbow Cart Labels from Miss West Best. They are editable and match my classroom perfectly! The days of the week labels are actually from this Calendar Set from Love and Lessons, I printed extra and they ended up fitting in the adhesive labels on the bins. Score! 
How cute are these Pineapple Clock Numbers from All Kinds of Special?!?! 
This next area is my Art Center. At the beginning of the year, we use this space to do Letter Crafts, and by the end they are doing long vowel crafts and flip books! It's amazing how much they learn in a  year. 
 I redid these crate seats this summer, because mine were gross. They looked like they were brown chevron, not the pretty rainbow chevron they once were. My fabulous sister (who is a 1st Grade teacher) showed me this idea of using a shower curtain OVER the fabric. So if there is a spill, accident, dirty hands, etc, you can just wipe clean. GENIUS! 
This is my Phonics board, where all the phonics crafts hang up to display. This little area under it is going to be my "Cool Down Corner". It's just two desks pushed together, and then I put extra fabric over it! 
Now...this is my FAVORITE area! My classroom library/reading corner! I use this chair to read aloud books, do our morning phonics lesson and our morning meeting time. 
 Here are the book bins with all the read aloud, sorted by holiday/theme. I find this the easiest way to look for a book. Library Labels by Natalie's Nook
I made this bench over the summer and can't wait for my students to get to sit and read there. The bookcases are from Target, I had one, so I just bought another and put them together. Once I saw this Pineapple Throw Pillow Case , I knew it would be so cute in my library area! These Chalkboard Posters are a freebie by Khrys Greco. 
These bins SAVE MY SANITY! When a student finished their work, they put it in the "Finished Work" bin. I can easily grab it the bin whenever it is overflowing starts to fill up and go through and check their work. If a student doesn't finish their work, it goes in the "Unfinished Work" bin. On Friday afternoons, I hand out all the papers in the unfinished work bin and students work on that. If they have no unfinished work, YAY!, then they get to pick a Fun Friday activity, like play-doh, STEM bins, or free draw. This really motivates my students to finish their center work!
Here is my Calendar area. This is the one part of my classroom that is not completely finished, because I add to it as the year goes on. The Calendar Cards are by Love and Lessons and the Calendar Inserts are by Extra Special Teaching. 
My birthday display is on the back of our cubbies this year! I am using whatever wall space I can get and this is the perfect place for birthdays. The apple border and "Best Day Ever" wall stickers are from the Target Dollar Spot. 

Thank you so much for stopping by to check out my classroom this year!