Monday, January 30, 2012

New Toy!

I have wanted a file bag for-ev-er.  I was inspired by the Clutter Free Classroom Project (and a bit of the blues today).  I finally splurged and bought one!  Mine is dark pink and I think I will jazz it up with some fabric or flowers or something else pretty.


My thought is that I will put it on my desk and  put the papers I take home in the files.  Does anyone else chuck massive stacks of papers in their bag that they drag home and never touch?  It’s like all of my good intentions go out the window and I totally forget that I have things to get done at home.  Hopefully this baby will help me organize my things to take home and actually accomplish something when I get there.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


I can’t believe I have 100 followers!!!  Actually, 102 as of today!  Thank you to everyone who is interested in what I babble about every once and a while.  100+ followers means a giveaway!  I have a few things and just need to get them all together for a picture.  Hopefully I will have that up some time this week.

Not much else to share right now.  I finished my application for college and did taxes this week.  My husband is a self-employed dairy farmer, so it means a whole new level of complicated for doing taxes – at least for me, who is not so great at balancing the checkbook!  So, that has been about my limit this week.  Hopefully it is back to regular life now and I can think about more teaching things.  Well, I can’t forget about the baby shower I am planning for my SIL!  (If I weren’t a teacher, I would seriously consider being a party planner – so I go all out!)

On a personal  note, I am obsessed with lip butters!  I just bought my 5th one today (when I went thrifting!) and love them.  I think I need all the colors!  Revlon makes these great lipsticks.  They are lipsticks, but they are really smooth and go on like a balm, except they have the color and shimmer or shine of a lipstick.


These pics below are from  I have Red velvet, sugar frosting, crème brulee, peach parfait, and raspberry pie.  Love them all, except raspberry pie.  I have really pale skin, so the bright pink is not really great on me.  The peach parfait is the my go-to color.  I would really like the fig jam and sugar plum.  Most stores only carry a few of the colors, so I will have to search for them. 

Revlon, Lip Butters, swatches, Sugar Frosting, Creme Brulee, Creamsicle, Peach Parfait, Tutti Frutti, Candy Apple, Cherry Tart, Red Velvet, Fig Jam, Brown Sugar, Karla Sugar, KarlaSugar    Revlon, Lip Butters, swatches, Cupcake, Gumdrop, Cotton Candy, Strawberry Shortcake, Macaroon, Sweet Tart, Lollipop, Raspberry Pie, Berry Smoothie, Sugar Plum, Pink Truffle, KarlaSugar, Karla Sugar

Check them out if you get a chance and love make-up!

Have a great week!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Organizing Centers

I joined in on Lesson Plan Diva's Center Organization Linky Party! Check it out!


While I’m not sure that I have the best handle on organizing centers, I thought I would share how I currently store things.

I have a love-hate relationship with centers.  I technically do Daily 5 style centers, but love all of the beautiful center activities amazing bloggers share.  I have started to print and laminated some centers.  I use them more or less often depending on my classes and the time of year.  This year I seem to be sticking to the D5 routine, so most of my materials are stored in a way that gives the students access and is run by them. 

I will try to straighten up and take a few more pictures tomorrow.

Listening Centers:

I use MP3 players, the computer, and Leap Pads with my students.  I load cds onto my MP3s and store the books in a crate with hanging files organized by month.  I switch out the books, that are theme and content based, every month. I store the MP3s and earphones in a container like the one below and put a basket on top for the books.  I have 3 Leap Pads (well 2 actually – one was broken already) and about 20 books.  I store the Leap Pads in one of the totes below and the books in another.

image    image

Read to Self

My students choose their books from a leveled library.  The books are stored in bins and the kids keep their reading and writing materials in magazine boxes.  This system is pretty independent and compact.

image image

Word Work

I store two items for practice in each of the blue buckets on the bottom shelf. When students have word work time, they grab a bucket and go practice their words – either from their sight word list, their spelling notebook, or Words Their Way sort words. I change what I assign the kids to work on. I try to pair up one building activity and one writing activity, and I change them out every other week or so to keep the novelty fresh. The upper shelf holds our Dolch Sight Word Games. I color-coded the drawers and materials to match the list label on the outside. Some of the games are Battleship, Go Fish, Connect Four, Pig and Stop, Bang (or some variation of it), Roll, Say, Keep, bingo, and probably a few others. 



I wish I had a picture of my system at school!  In general, I have Sterlite storage tubs that are by theme and stored under my computer tables.  This year I covered the bottom of the tables with fabric to hind my storage.  I store any writing activities with the theme we are studying.  So, in the “Farm” tub, I have popsicle sticks with prompts, a calendar to use as picture prompts, word charts, and so on. When we begin a theme, I pull out the tub and any writing center items are put in a basket for students to use.

Math Centers

Right now, I have my centers stored in baggies in the rolling cart below.  I label the drawers by each topic we cover.  Any units that are really large like addition and subtraction, have an additional tub under the computer with activities.  I like the drawers, but they come off the track easily.  Game items and counters are stored in the drawer unit.

image   image

I hope these ideas give someone else a new idea.  I can’t wait to check out what other bloggers post!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Rules for Purging

Yikes!  I started my rules for purging last week and never posted it!  In my defense, I have been working on my application for post-grade school.  It has been so long since I have written a 5 page research paper with citations!  How did I do this in a couple nights in college? 

On a side note – I’m up to 98 followers! Wow!  I never thought when I started writing this a couple years ago people would actually want to check out my ideas.  It has been a great venue to learn new things, get ideas, and find resources I use (because I post things to the page, I can access them so much more quickly at school).


BLOG PROMPT for last Friday's Linky:

What is your plan for de-cluttering your classroom?

1. Book shelves

  • Weed book collection: home to storage, give away, closet storage, or bookshelf
  • Sort and label books with stickers
  • Label book boxes

2. Filing Cabinets

  • Clean out files
  • Sort drawers
  • Maximize use of space

3. Cupboards

  • Purge from cupboards
  • Create a system for organizing and labeling

4. Student materials

  • Purge games and centers
  • create system and label

5. Under Table Storage

  • Eliminate under table storage – sort, purge, and puut away materials

6. Organize my teacher area and resources

7. Computer Files

  • Purge file – eliminate old unit and themes
  • Create systems for new files and units
  • Create photo books with past years’ photos and erase from computer

8. Create system for student supplies

A little ambitious?  I am always moving things in my room around and always feel like there is an area to improve, so this project is not just about purging for me.  It also about making my room flow better than it is.

My thought would be to tackle one area at a time.  I can’t wait to see what challenges are coming to help wrap my brain around how this is going to be accomplished.  It is a year long project, so let’s just hope that I don’t have to move rooms!

Can’t wait to see other plans!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Currently Linky Party

Farley has the Currently Linky Party up for January. Check it out!



I really need to chill out a bit this year, so I chose relaxation as my OLW.  I know I have said it before, but this year is tough and I would REALLY like to have more of a life outside of work this year.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Clutter-Free Classroom Project…and Other Stuff

First – I am sooo close to 100 followers!!! I never thought I would get here!  I think I feel another give-away coming on.  Stay tuned!!!

Second – whew!  What a day!  I had a field trip, 2 trainings (1 during school and 1 after), bus duty, a roller skating party, and one of the trainings was at another building…and I only had 10 minutes for lunch between our return from the field trip and my training.  The kids were super excited for the trip and you know how the day goes when they are so excited about something.  I had a 3:1 chaperone ratio, but was still dealing with behaviors constantly.  That is another matter entirely.  Let’s just say this has not been an easy year for behaviors or, shall we say, adult supports. 

Thirdly, are you following the Clutter Free Classroom Project?  We just got the assignments for this week. 
Today I wanted to post about my “non-negotiables” for purging.
As a side story, I have to tell everyone that I was a reading teacher a few years ago and another reading teacher and I combined rooms in the old room of a retired teacher.  Our rule was anything older than me HAD to go!  Can I tell you there was a game from 1950 something?!?  We also found that she had literally copied class sets of entire books and FILED them.  We had copy paper boxes full of sets of papers we were recycling by the time we had cleaned out the room.  Then…a construction worker left the ceiling hatch open, it rained and flooded the hallway.  They had to shovel piles of disintegrated papers out of the hallway!  Amazingly, it was all cleaned up by the time I got to school.  Can you imagine?
Anyway, here is my list of non-negotiables.
  • Anything that I haven’t used in 5 years (that is how long I have been teaching 1st where I am).
  • Books from programs that are no longer used – I can’t throw them away, but I can put them in a nice little closet for someone to use, should they wish to)
  • Multiple copies of papers and books (other than books for listening centers).
  • Picture books I have not read in five years.
  • Odd items that I have bought or collected that are in a box because they have no other home.
  • Copies or files that I am never likely to use or ones that I do not have a place for.
  • Old units and binders full of resources that are no longer used…can I do it?
Hmm – I think that is about it for now.  I have mentioned before that I have very little in my room that I do not own personally.  So, I plan to put things that belong to the classroom or items I can purge for whoever may take my classroom in the future in a forlorn little closet that is blocked by my bank of computers.  Is that cheating?

What are your purging rules?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pinterest Tips

Pinterest Logo
Click here to go to my board!
Who doesn’t love Pinterest?!? I wanted to share a few Pinterest tips.
1. Finding pins from specific places – Did you know that you can find all the pins from the blog you love?  I love all of the charts that Babbling Abby at The Inspired Apple and by using a certain to the web address, I was able to pull up all of the pins that have been made from her site at once.  So much easier than going through the webpage.  Here is the address to see what has been pinned from my blog.
Here is the generic address: THE ADDRESS HERE
2. Printing a thumbnail page – Did you know you can see all of your pins at once if you print them?  I just printed all of my teaching pins so I can refer to them off the computer.  This is great for recreating an idea.  I am planning to rearrange my pins to create a board with all anchor charts – imagine, all anchor charts on a few pages. 
Can you imagine to potential of organizing your planning?  I think I am going to start taking a picture of the books, charts, and activities I do around certain topics so that I can see everything at a glance rather than going through plans and boxes and files.  I It suits my learning style so much more!
On a side note, I have mentioned that I really like to keep my blog separate from all of my personal stuff, but I found it tough to have a separate Pinterest page because I don’t want to switch between pages when I have a pin. I also have over 100 followers on my teacher board through my personal account.  Not sure what I am going to do yet, but I am feeling like my teaching stuff needs its own home.  I just don’t want to spend all the time moving it…

Sunday, January 8, 2012

A Few Random Things

First, is anyone out there in blogging land from NY?  I would love to get together with other blogger from Western NY.

Secondly, I thought I would share how I organize some of my math materials.  My goal is always to give students access to all materials and have them do prep work.  I am not a fan of prepping things unless I have to.

I store all of my manipulatives in a shelf like the one in the middle in the picture below.  I REALLY disliked the primary color bins.  When I inherited the shelf from another teacher, they had seen better days and I just did not like how they looked.  I bought  Sterlite shoeboxes to store manipulatives in and made labels for the boxes.  It looks all matchy-matchy and very clean now.

Then I made a few systems for the students to get all of their own pieces to play center games.  Again, I bought a Sterlite drawer container – I swear I must keep this company in business! I store dice and game pieces in the top drawer.  The game pieces are in little container I bought at the dollar store and are actually little erasers.  You can buy containers of them – like 100 in a container.  They make great game pieces because students have enough markers to play any game.

P1010287  P1010288

I the bottom drawers, I store cups I rescued from a teacher who was throwing them away.  I put about 20 counters in each cup to be used as manipulatives.

P1010289    P1010290

This system allows students to get whatever they need when ever they need.  Saves boatloads of time!

Thirdly, I am getting ready for Valentine’s Day!  I wanted to send home a project for students to make their own containers.  I usually do them at school, but need all the time I can get for academics this year and wanted to have the students do another project with their families. Snag a copy of my letter and a graph by clicking on the image.


Have a great Monday!

Thank You!

Thank you to Mrs. Smith for the Versatile Blogger Award! Check out her great blog!

  So here are the rules....
1. Thank the person who presented the award to you and link back to them.
Thank you so much, Mrs. Smith! I am so happy that other teachers find my random thoughts and ideas useful.
2. Tell seven things about yourself.
Check out my post, 10 Things About Me Linky Party, to find out more about me.
3. Pass this onto 15 newly discovered blogs and let them know they've received the award.
Okay, I’m cheating on this one…please check out my sidebar and other award posts to find some great bloggers!  I am trying to add more blog buttons on the sidebar.  This blogging gig is time consuming and I’m just trying to maximize my weekend time.

Thanks again to Mrs. Smith and everyone who reads my ramblings!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Go-To Books Linky Party

Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6 is hosting a linky party on Go-To Books! Check it out and link up!


Wow! Is this tough for me!!! I am a book collector!  I pick up every teaching resource known to man.

Comprehension Connections is my latest purchase!


Daily 5 and Literacy CAFÉ love!

Go-To’s for basic reading instruction – I have read these 2 books so many times that I think I have them memorized!!!


When I was a reading specialist and literacy consultant, I loved these 2 books!  If you have a specific skill you are working on or an area of weakness, you can choose that skills/issue and the books give several research-based strategies.  Very RtI friendly – my copies are pretty worn!

The Reading Teacher's Survival Kit: Ready-to-Use Checklists, Activities and Materials to Help All Students Become Successful Readers

I used to teach in a school where 6 Traits was the way to go.  Still love the foundation ideas, just not thrilled with how commercial the concept has become.  If you are looking for some solid foundation ideas for teaching writing, these 2 books break down writing into more manageable pieces.


I am crazy about math this year!  I have been writing the new curriculum for our grade level based on the new CORE and have loved working with these 2 books.  I discovered both on blogs and they have given me a new understanding of math.  Especially can’t live without the second book.  I use it almost daily.


These are some go-to books for centers.  I have them all in a file box marked “centers” so I can grab them when I need them.



I can’t wait to see what other books people suggest!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Leibster Award Love!

Thank you to Barbara at Grade ONEderful for the Liebster Award!

The goal of the award is to spotlight up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers. The rules are: 
1. Copy and paste the award on your blog.
2. Thank the giver and link back to them.
3. Reveal your top 5 picks and let them know by leaving a comment on their blog.
4. Hope that your followers will spread the love to other bloggers!

I am sharing this award with a few of my new followers and a few new blogs I just found! Here are the sites I am passing this award on to.

  Sweet Times in First  Classroom ConfettiThe First Grade Dream     teachers bag of tricks


Thanks again Barbara!