Saturday, May 23, 2015

Southern California End of the Year Link Up & Freebies

I am so excited to be joining my Southern California blogging friends to share a little bit about our ourselves and our lives in this beautiful state. We also have a few freebies and an incredible giveaway up our sleeves!!! 

My family and I LOVE baseball! If you follow me on Instagram, you know much of my life is spent on the little league baseball fields with my two boys. I am at all their practices and games scoring and cheering every bit of the way. BUT... this is another place I spend a lot of time in So. Cal- Dodger Stadium.

We just celebrated my husband's birthday on the field with the Dodgers during their batting practice! My boys got to meet Mr. Don Mattingly! Say what?! Yep! That's him!

They met Kiki Hernandez.

And we took selfies on the the field to document this incredible experience. As summer vacation is just a few short days away from beginning, I know I will be making many more incredible memories at the ball field. Thank you for letting me share a little bit about myself and my life in beautiful Southern California.

Now I have a little FREEBIE for you to help your students stay ready over the summer for the new school year ahead.
This is a LIMITED TIME FREEBIE and will only be available until my last day of school on June 4th! Make sure to grab it while you can and help your students avoid the summer slide! 

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Saturday, May 16, 2015

My Favorite EOY Tips and Tricks Link Up

It's hard to believe it, my friends, but the end of another school year is about to be put into the history books! All the kids and TEACHERS are counting down the days until summer. Although many exciting things are happening during this time of year, it can also be a bit stressful. I am linking up with my blogging bestie, Aimee from Primarily Speaking, to bring you some tips and tricks to help you survive the last few weeks of school. 

As we get to the last 2 or 3 weeks of school I bust out the countdown chain. There are many variations of this idea but I like to countdown the days until my second graders are officially third graders. 
Each colored ring represents one day of school. At the end of each day, I choose a student to tear off one of the rings. When the kids walk into the room and see this countdown chain for the first time, you should hear the squeals and chatter! They get so excited! However, my heart melts each time because there are always a few kids that are a bit disappointed to be leaving and want to stay in second grade forever! If you would like to make your own countdown rainbow chain, CLICK HERE, for a FREEBIE! I have created a cloud for each of the grades first through fifth. I hope you and your students love it!

Start prepping for next year! As soon as I find out what grade I am teaching for the new school year, I start prepping! This makes my summer SO much more enjoyable and I can roll into my classroom in the fall with ease and less stress. 
I make and print all my labels for student folders I will need. My students start off with an unfinished work folder, writing folder, and morning warm up folder. I put labels on all of these in spring. Once I get my class list with student names, I make name labels and put them on the folders too. 

I also prep all my interactive notebooks ahead of time. I glue the covers, tabs and envelopes for all the small pieces, so that when school starts, we are ready to roll! This is a huge time saver. I have all my math notebooks ready to go!

These All About Me books are copied, bound and ready to go for the first few weeks of school. This is the first year I have bound the books before the kids complete the pages. My theory is that I won't have a ton of loose pages I have to sort out and put together before Back To School Night. I am super excited for them to use these.  

I prep and copy opening letters and student information cards for the first week of school too!

I also create a summer review packet for my second graders to take home over the summer. I never want any of my teaching to be forgotten over the summer months! This packet does the trick. We start working on it the last week of school and then they finish the rest at home. This year's set is prepped and ready to go!
Each packet includes language arts, writing, and math skills that cover all of the second grade common core standards. I staple the pages together (answer sheets are also included) and send the packet home with a new pencil and chapter book from my Scholastic book order. This becomes part of their end of the year gift, as well. Click on the pictures below for more details.

We also spend some of the last days of school reflecting on the school year and all the things we loved and remembered about it. I use this packet from Aimee to accomplish that! The kids love writing about their top 10 things about second grade and so much more!
End of Year Activities for 2nd Grade-Common Core Aligned

I hope these ideas help make your end of the year easier and smoother. Head on over to Primarily Speaking and link up your ideas too! 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Together We Are Better: Parent Communication LINKY

I am linking up this month with some incredible bloggers to bring you ideas about....
I believe parent communication is VITAL to a successful school year. Every year I change, add, and revamp my parent communication to best meet the needs of my "clientele." Some years I have a group of parents that love email. Other years, I have parents that need paper reminders sent home. But there are a few things that remain consistent with my parent communication that I want to share with all of you. 

1. Weekly Behavior Charts: 
I use a color chart for behavior management in my classroom. Each day my students fill out their behavior chart with their corresponding color. Then, on Fridays they take their chart home. Parents sign the chart and the child brings the chart back on Monday. I reward signed behavior charts with tickets for our classroom prize box. 

Parents love knowing the charts are coming home. I love that they don't have to come ask me how their child is behaving in class. It's a win-win! 

Some teachers prefer monthly behavior charts. This way they can go into a folder and notes can be added if needed. It is important to find a way that works for you and that you can manage. I have created a set of monthly EDITABLE charts too.

2. Parent Conferences: 
Communicating with parents about their child's academic and social success is also a key part of parent communication. Before I created my Parent Teacher Conference Binder, I had different papers and information all over the place. Grades were in my grade book or on the computer, student work for their portfolios was in file folders, etc. 
After I created my conference binder, all the notes and information I needed to send out were in one place. I keep the master in a plastic sleeve and make colored copies of the forms I need to send to parents and put them into the sleeve as well. 

 My favorite form of all is this:
There are several variations included in the packet to meet your needs. I LOVE that it has boxes to check off and a few lines for comments. Everything I need to tell a parent about their child is right there at my fingertips. Just a quick glance and I can elaborate in certain areas, if needed. I make 2 copies of the form. One for my records and one for the parent to take home with them. 

3. Print and Go Parent Notes & Newsletter:
At the beginning of the year, there is so much information that needs to be sent home to parents. Forms from you, the office, parents etc. Being organized and prepared is so important. I use this packet of forms to help with that. I also create a monthly newsletter to keep parents informed of special events, projects, and things going on in class and at school. Parents then post it on their refrigerator at home or other special spot, so they know about early dismissals, events and more!

Have you ever needed a last minute note to send home with the kids to remind them and their parents about something for the next day, but you just don't have time to sit down and type it up before the bell rings for the end of the day? This used to happen to me all-the-time! I needed to put a stop to it and QUICK! So, I create my Don't Miss the Boat Parent Notes and Reminders packet. Now, I have all the forms I could possibly need in a notebook, copied, and ready to go at a moment's notice. This saves time and the parents appreciate the reminders too!

Be sure to join in the fun and link up your parent communication ideas too!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Weekend Warriors Link Up: Open House and More!

The Weekend Warriors are back this month with a whole NEW look and theme! Weekend Warriors is also inviting each of you to link up too! That's right! Just grab the image and monthly banner and create your own blog post about your Open House ideas and more and join in on all the fun!  There is a different theme the last weekend of every month.

We just had our Open House last week and there are a few things that I just LOVE about it. I love watching the kids show off all their learning throughout the year to their parents. I love the twinkle in the parents' eyes as they realize how hard their kids have been working all year long! I love the sense of community too! It's usually a night of overwhelming "warm fuzzies"!

 Every year I have the kids reflect on how far they have come since the first day of school. Sometimes I get it completed by Open House and sometimes I don't. This year I was clearly on top of things because they were on display for the BIG night! HA! The kids wrote about why their future is so bright and what they have to look forward to. You can grab the writing prompts and craft templates HERE.

When the kids brought their families to the classroom, they each found a pair of sunglasses with this little tag attached. You should have seen their faces light up and make the connection between their writing and the surprise! Priceless! Thank you to Molly from Lessons With Laughter for the adorable tags!

I also enjoy having the kids create self portraits of themselves. I did a directed drawing lesson with them and look how fabulous they all turned out! I decided to hide each student's name. Instead, I put a sticker that said, "Who Am I?" on the front. When the parents came into the room, they had to find their child among the portraits. It was so sweet to see the kids give clues to their parents. Some found their child on the first try! 

Each student also created their own Math About Me board to display for Open House. You can read a more detailed post HERE and grab a FREEBIE too!  The kids loved presenting their posters to the class and explaining the important numbers in their lives.

Even if your school doesn't have any event called "Open House", link up and share your ideas and pictures from Parent Night, Family Night, Back To School Night and more! I'd love to see what ideas you have too!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stress Free GIVEAWAY!

I am joining a FABULOUS group of bloggers to bring you a giveaway you won't want to STRESS out about because it is easy-peasy! This time of year is cray-cray and we are all stressed on our own without any extra help. So, we have decided to bring you a giveaway that will help your stress disappear!  

All you have to do is follow each of our TpT stores and you will be entered to win one of FOUR prizes: $75 Amazon gift card, $40 to Target, $25 TpT gift card, or $20 to Starbucks! How AWESOME is that? Now just sit back, relax and enjoy the rewards- STRESS FREE! Good luck!

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Math About ME

Open House was this week and I was so excited for my students to show off all that they had learned so far this school year.I have a TON of pictures to share with you, but that blog post will be coming. In the meantime, I wanted to share a project I had my kids do (with some guidance from their parents) for our big event! I call it MATH ABOUT ME. Each child gets a foam poster board and finds pictures of himself or herself. They decorate the board with the pictures and items that represent their personality. Next, they write captions using NUMBERS about their life. For example, one child took a picture of all 57 books they had in their bedroom. Another child smiled in a picture to show 8 teeth had already fallen out. The kids get very creative with the things they can show with numbers in their life. 
Here are a couple sample posters.
This student showed the number of people in her family, her birthday etc...

This student used numbers to show the number of teeth he has lost, number of friends, how much he weighs etc.
This student showed their favorite number is 102, their phone number, number of books they own etc.
I always look forward to how the kids are going to represent themselves on their posters. The parents and kids also love looking at the different posters at Open House. It gives them an opportunity to learn more about one another. If you would like the project directions and a copy of the letter I send home, just click HERE for your FREE copy.
I make sure to tell all the kids that the questions are just suggestions of ideas they can use. They don't have to answer all the questions. They can create their own questions and make it meaningful to them. I hope you guys have fun with this project and look forward to seeing what your students create. Enjoy!

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