Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Target Dollar Find- Dry Erase Sentence Strips

Oh, Target, how I love you! And your conveniently located Dollar Spot right at the front of the store. I HAVE to look around, even if I am just going into Target for shampoo. I always end up leaving with some fuzzy socks, another metal pail, $10 worth of bins and those seasonal pencils. Well, I decided to make my Target finds a little more useful and share how I use them in my classroom!

Here is my first Target Dollar Spot find! Dry Erase Sentence Strips- $1 for about 30 strips.
(These are not the hard board ones- but the more paper-like ones)

I found these at the Target Dollar Spot this past summer. So of course, I had to buy 5 sets of them. They have really come in handy while doing word sorts, teaching my small group reading centers, and writing sentences to use. But my best idea for them came to me earlier this week. You could make your own using sentence strips and laminating them!

While I was looking at my {still bare} word wall, an idea popped into my head. I should use those erasable sentence strips for my word wall. I can add and erase words as I need to! This really comes in handy when we are working on writing and we need to spell a new word. All I did was cut them in half and staple them up! No more switching out words every month or quarter, and its super easy to change up. The students can even write words!

Here is what my new word wall looks like! 

A close-up of the words.

Just erase...

 And it's ready for a new word! 

Thank you Target! Reason #3125 why teachers love Target.


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Currently...October!

Writing "October" on the board today didn't feel real. I don't know where September went, but I'm glad October is here! Although it's "fall", it still feels like summer in Southern California. Thank God for AC in my classroom, so at least I can start wearing my cute fall outfits.

I am linking up with Oh Boy! Fourth Grade for her monthly Currently link up, so I am keeping it short and sweet!


Listening: Scandal is on! It is my must watch fall TV show. I LOVE Olivia Pope!

Loving: My go to Ben & Jerry's flavor- Salted Caramel Core... and really anything that is salted caramel {or pumpkin- you can never go wrong with pumpkin}

Thinking: After a few {many} disruptions today, I didn't finish my next week's plans like I normally do. Usually I plan a month at a time, but I haven't seem to catch up this year, between moving, new school, new curriculum, etc... So, I will be at school bright and early!

Wanting: This weather needs to cool down already! It was cool in June, but sweltering hot in October? I can't wait for it to cool down just a bit more. I know there's no fall here, but it will still get cooler than South Florida, so I am happy!

Needing: Next weekend I am going to Vegas! For the first time! (Well...except for the time we drove through Vegas, but stopped so I could play one slot machine in Caesar's Palace) I so need a mini vacation already, so I hope this week goes by fast.

Boo-tiful: I am the biggest Essie fan, and my 20 something collection is proof... My newest favorite color is Essie Ballet Slippers! It is a pretty light pink that goes with everything.

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

How to Boost Sight Word Fluency

Sight words, high frequency words, words to know, whatever you call them, is such an important part of Kindergarten and learning to read. They will always be one of the first steps to becoming a fluent reader. If you think about it, sight words are just a few letters, in a certain order that make a word that you can't "sound out", so you have to memorize it. Memorizing may be easy for some kids, but it is very challenging for others. If you are looking for new suggestions on how to teach sight words, especially how to differentiate sight words, then read on!


{Click on the picture to download Sight Word Bags for free!}

Every year that I have taught Kindergarten, I have used sight word bags. This idea came from a former teacher on my team, who also believed the whole "sight words are super duper important". It is just a sandwich size ziplock baggie with a set of 6 sight words.



I give them a set on bright paper to cut out to put in their baggie, and a set goes home to practice at home.



Anytime they finish their work early, or need something to do, they take out their sight word baggie to practice. If they don't know a word, they can "ask 3, then me". I have them practice them with a friend if we have 5 minutes to spare. They have even brought them to recess to practice there! Once they know those 6 sight words, they come to me for me to test them. I go through those 6, and they have to say them fast, or it doesn't count.  If they get them all right, (yay!) they get a sticker for a sticker chart, but if they don't they keep practicing them.


{I was gifted these sticker charts, but you can find them at any teacher store!}

Every student will learn sight words at a different pace and that's okay. All of my students are on different sight word lists right now, so I use a google doc spreadsheet to keep track. I pull it up every day, so I can write in if a student has mastered another list. This is a great way to differentiate your sight words every week, while still teaching the sight words the curriculum gives you.

Sight Word Cut and Spell is a go to word work center for my students. I have a set at my Teachers Pay Teachers store with an editable version, so you can put in your own weekly sight words. This helps them read the word and learn how to spell it.


{Click on the picture to go to this product.}

What are your ideas to teach sight words???



Monday, August 31, 2015

Teacher Week- 5 Fun Facts!

Today is my official last day of summer! I have been lucky enough to enjoy two extra weeks of summer due to moving... (more about that later) To celebrate/mourn the end of summer, I am sitting and relaxing ALL day by the pool.

 I am super excited to link up with Blog Hoppin' for Teacher Week!  

And since today is Monday, you get to read more about me! 

 My favorite place in the world is the beach! I have never lived more than 20 minutes from the nearest beach, so I consider myself very lucky.

I lived near Fort Lauderdale Beach until I went to college at Florida Gulf Coast University, which is located near Fort Myers Beach. I taught in that area for three years, then moved to California this past summer, where I live near Laguna Beach! Although the beach is different here, I am happy to be able to go there on the weekends, to enjoy the sun and sand.
Enjoying Laguna Beach!
When I get stressed, bored, or I'm looking for something to do, I turn to baking! I've always said that baking is my form of stress relief. I love to find a new recipe on Pinterest and tweak it to make it my own!
This is a homemade caramel apple pie that I made for Thanksgiving. So yummy!
A year and a half ago, our puppy, Jack came into our lives! He is a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel (a smaller version of a cocker spaniel) and was even born on Valentine's Day! It has been quite the learning experience training and taking care of a very highly energetic puppy! Here are some cute pictures of Jackers!


Elephants are my favorite animal! When I was very little, my favorite movie was Jungle Book, and I told everyone that I wanted to go to Africa to see the elephants! Ever since then, I have loved elephants. 




My second favorite place in the world is Target. I have a serious addiction to Target. I can't go in there and not buy $50 worth of things. I go in for shampoo and paper towels,  but come out with half the dollar spot, office supplies, and hey- something new to hang on my walls.

These accurately describe my relationship with Target. I am serious about creating a shirt that says #teacherslovetarget because we all know it's true.




Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Top 10 Tips and Tricks for a Successful Open House

It's that time again! Back to School time! And chances are you are preparing for your Open House to meet all your students and parents for the first time. (Or Meet your Teacher, Back to School Night, whatever your school calls it) So, of course, you want to make a great first impression!

{Click on the picture to go to my Pinterest Board- Open House to view ALL my pins related to Open House and find more ideas.}

Rewind 4 years ago, and I was prepping for my first Open House. I was working at a new school and they decided to have Open House a full week before school started! Yes, that year I had two full weeks of training... In the midst of all those meetings and PD's, I had to find the time to set up my classroom. And I had to prepare for Open House, all in less than a week's time! I was definitely NOT prepared for my first Open House.

Every Open House is different. Ours was a 4 hour block, when parents could come and go as they please. At some points of the day, I was juggling 5 different parents, asking questions about forms to fill out and what do I need to do next? I felt like a fish out of it's bowl, flopping around everywhere, not being able to talk to the parents as I needed. But sometimes, there was only 1 parent in the room, so I was able to give them my full attention. Lesson learned: Be Prepared with a Plan!

The next year, I started doing these 10 tips and tricks that I had learned from other teachers, bloggers, and Pinterest. Let me tell you, Open House does not scare me anymore! The past few years, everything has flowed so nicely and parents were happy. So, if you are a newer teacher and want to make a super first impression, read on!


These Open House signs have saved my life! When parents come in, they see the Sign In/Welcome Sign, which tells them to sign in and follow the signs until they get to the last one. While they are walking around the room, I make sure I go over at some point to introduce myself and meet the student. That way if I was talking to Johnny's parents and answering their questions, when Jimmy's parents walked in, Jimmy's parents would see the signs and start, instead of waiting around until I was finished answering Johnny's parents questions. They don't have numbers that way you can use it for what works for you. I am going to put a little cardboard number (from craft stores) next to each one. Click on the picture for a FREE download at Teachers Pay Teachers. 


Here are two ideas on how to use the signs from one of my former teammates, Venus! Thanks for sharing! 

You can put the signs in a cheap Dollar Store Frame on a table...


Or hang them on a whiteboard with magnets with the information forms.


I found this idea from Kreative in Kinder and love it! Have parents bring supplies and sort it into each tubs, so you don't have to take time on the first day or after the first day to sort. 

I also LOVE these labels from Christina DeCarbo, that you could use for the tubs! Click on the picture to go to her TPT store to download it! 



This was my #1 Back to School Tip that I shared more about here. It has saved me so much time throughout the year! These information packets are something you prepare for Open House, so take a few minutes to make extras. Plus I've gotten more than 18 on Open House and luckily I was able to pull out a packet for that parent! 
{I found this image on Pinterest, but I still can't find who to give credit to for this picture/idea. So if you know, please let me know, so I can give proper credit.}


This is a NEW tip I am going to try out this year. I read about it from Creativity to the Core here. She uses Google Docs for her forms and uses the student computers for the parents to type out their information in! No more trying to read illegible handwriting or not having the correct email address for the parents. It's already typed up so you can just print or save it to your computer!


Sharing Kindergarten has an easy tutorial on how to set up these GoogleDocs. Thank you ladies for this AMAZING idea!

I suggest doing a fun scavenger hunt to explore the classroom! Here is one resource I love that are Kindergarten/1st Grade appropriate! These are from Katie Mense at Little Warriors! Click on the picture to find both downloads.


But if scavenger hunts aren't your thing, here are some ideas to keep the kids busy.

ABC puzzles, Go Fish, matching games, coloring sheets, blocks, books to look at- Just make sure the kids tidy up before they leave. If they have an older sibling, I give them a book to read to their younger sibling.

I love, love this idea! And the parents love taking pictures! We weren't allowed to have parents walk their students into their classroom on the first day, which made many parents upset, especially in Kindergarten. This was a neat alternative that parents appreciated. I let them use an old digital camera on a stool and have photo props or a cute background to take a fun picture. Parents love getting a picture of their child with the teacher, so I can pop in and take a quick picture with them.

Here's an idea from Kindergarten Kindergarten. Click on the picture to read more about how she sets up her Photo Booth:


These are SO handy and I love them. They take some time to make, but are helpful (and color coded) for parents. Here's the one I use from Chalk & Apples. Click on the picture to go to her product!


We already have 20349832059 things on our plate, are running low on school funds, and need to utilize our time wisely. I see so many cute pins/ideas on Instagram of a cute Open House treat, but I like easy and cheap! Here are two ideas that I like to use as a "Thanks!" for coming to Open House.

{All you need is a bag of mints and this cute FREE sign!}

{All you need is a bag of Blow Pops and this cute FREE sign!}

{All you need is a 24 pack of water bottles and this cute FREE sign}


I was skeptical of making a donation station, but it has helped me get a few extra donations! I was worried that the parents would think that I was asking for too much, but it turns out they were happy to help! I usually ask for sharpies, card stock, ziplock baggies, snacks, colored computer paper, etc. Here are two cute ideas on how to set up your donation station. Click on the pictures to read more. 


{Lend a Helping Hand- by Head Over Heels for Teaching}


{Bee Kind and Donate if you can- by Buzzing Along in First Grade}

Every year, I create a "business card" for parents to keep on their fridge, or in their wallet. I give them two versions, one with a magnet attached and one without. I create a business card with all my information, print, cut them out, laminate, and stick a sticky magnet to the back! It's free and easy and parents are always impressed by this detail. This year, I am going to create my own and order from Vistaprint. They always run great deals and are fast with shipping! 

I have uploaded a FREE and EDITABLE version in my TPT store! Click on the picture to see the product! 

Thank you for stopping by to read about my Tips and Tricks for a successful Open House! I'd love to hear your ideas in the comments below!