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Sound Strips Freebie

Do you love the Target Dollar Spot as much as I do. I mean at what other store can you spend 50 dollars before even passing the first real aisle?   I certainly couldn't pass up these cute little letter clips and knew I would find many ways to use them.  One of the activities I created were these Sound Strips.  Grab a FREE set of sound strips that can be used in preschool, kindergarten, and even the beginning of first grade for some kiddos. This activity also comes with an "I Can" card and directions. If you can find the clips, you could always just buy clothespins and label them with letters, or just laminate the cards and have your students use a dry erase marker to write the corresponding letter. 
Fill out the form below to grab this activity.  This will also give you access to future freebies and ideas through my newsletter.

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As we start this new school year I thought it was important, especially for teachers new to the field to talk a little about relationships.  They are at the core of what we do, how our year goes and how our students and families feel about school. They are definitely most important.

When I started teaching I knew exactly what type of teacher I wanted to be.  I learned early on in my education what embodied a great teacher, as my first grade teacher was an amazing example.  I didn't have to read published articles or books to figure out that relationships are what make you the teacher that your students love and remember.

The following are some ways I build relationships with my students and the people they love the most.

1. Get to Know Them
This may seem pretty darn obvious, but I'm not talking about a survey.  Before school begins I send a letter home introducing myself, my family and some things about our classroom. I let the parents know what to expect at "Meet the Teacher" night, a little bit about how the first day, first morning will go and give them some other important information. In addition, I have my parents write a letter about their child. I'm telling you, letters are the way to go.  When you send home a generic survey you are going to get back generic answers.  When parents are given the freedom to write a letter about their child, you will get so much more! I love reading the letters before school begins and having a connection with my students the first time they walk in the door.  Also remember that you can build relationships with many of them the year before.  Make an effort to get to know students in the grade below.  I loved getting to know many of the kindergarteners in our building when I taught first grade.

2. Invite Them
I know many teachers like their classrooms to themselves but inviting parents to join you in the classroom is important.  I taught first grade for 14 years, so I loved the help. I had parents help with center time, parents help during writing time and invited parents in to reading and writing celebrations.   Parents and grandparents were mystery readers in my classroom and I loved to honor them for Mother's Day Tea and volunteering at the end of the year.  I feel so passionately about building relationships with my student's families. So much so, that I still have parents help me in my new position, even though I haven't taught their children in years.

3. Love Them While Leading Them
In the first week of school not only do we work on procedures and rules a ton, but I also make sure that I get to know my kiddos and let them know how much I love them right away.  These are my babies for 7 hours a day and it's important they feel safe and cared for.  I really kill them with kindness right away. This way when you have to discipline, they know that while you may disagree with their behavior your not mad, but disappointed.  Little ones do not like to disappoint you.  Be firm when you have to, but make sure you are having fun with them too.  My kiddos often get nicknames, I know their likes and dislikes and respect them. I take the time to sit with them in small groups and one on one daily. Sometimes we are working on school stuff and other times we may just talk. Conversation with my kids is just as important as teaching them.  I can lay down the law and laugh with them all in the same minute.  When they love you and respect you, it's a lot easier to manage your classroom. 

There are many other ways to build relationships. I can go on and on, but these three are key.  Before you can teach them, you need to know and respect them.  It's then when you can really be the teacher they need.  

Below is an example of how relationships make all the difference. The sweet girl who dropped off this gift on my birthday this past May is now in college. When she was in my first grade class she was a cute little stinker.  And I mean stinker.  She was quite a talker and often not on task.  I wondered sometimes if I was too tough, but hoped that she always knew I loved her just as much as the kiddo who rarely had to be redirected.  I didn't need a gift, but knowing hat our time together meant as much to her as it did me, even 11 years later, means the world.  


Are you ready for the last day?

If you are still in school, then I hope your little teacher heart is still well and you are planning your last day soon.  I know we all love to teach, but God gave teachers summer vacation for a reason. Am I right?  So I'm here to help, if you need some fun activities for the last day. Even up to the final day, I try to keep my kiddos busy with academic activities.  So here are 5 things we do on the last day of school.  

1. Literacy Activity
 (Memory Book) 
This is such a fun and easy activity for the last day.  I don't like memory books with a million pages because I think they tend to get overwhelming and then my kids don't do their best work, so I created a simple book that can be started as the kids enter on the last day.  

2. Math Activity
(Lemonade Craftivity) 
I love this activity and it can be differentiated easily depending on the number you choose for each student.  I usually give my students a range they can choose from for the number they place on the straw. The number they choose to write on the straw is the number they will find combinations for and write on the ice cubes.  You can grab the pages you need for this activity HERE

3. Awards Ceremony
I love celebrating my students and one I do this is by holding a small awards ceremony on the last day.  I love recognizing each of students for their unique gifts.  I also love the Dollar Tree so creating awards that allows me to get creative, fun gifts for my kiddos was right up my alley.  
You can grab these awards by clicking below.

4.  Give out your goodbye gifts. I've included some fun tags that you can grab at the end of this post. 

5. Send home summer review. It's important to prevent the summer slide as much as possible. This pack I send home, is full of quick and easy activities that review all the standards you worked on all year.  My little guy is currently getting ready for second grade and he does a few activities each day.
You can grab these summer review packs HERE

I also created these cute little signs for a last day picture that you can email to your parents when it is all said and done.  I've included Pre-K - Third Grade. 

End of the Year Freebies


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Celebrating Reading

The NEA's Read Across America Day is coming March 2nd.  Every year we celebrate big the whole week! We celebrate with theme days, buddy reading, author visits,  contests and more.  Below are some ideas from years past.  

This will be sent home tomorrow.
Last year, students guessed the number of bookworms to win one of these two awesome reading baskets.  We had a primary and intermediate basket. This year we'll be guess goldfish for the book "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish".  

Students will also be caught all week reading.  Students caught reading will be reported each afternoon and one lucky winner will be chosen to win a 10 dollar Barnes and Nobel gift card. 
We also have a very creepy Cat in the Hat suit that our sweet counselor wears to greet the kids. 
 These are some fun activities we've completed during the week. 
Lorax Writing.
Truffala Tree Snacks.
Turtle stacking after reading Yertle the Turtle.
 Oobleck Experiments.
Wacky Wednesday 
Buddy Reading 
 And we'll also have a visit this year from Steve Harpster. He's one of our favorite authors and illustrators.  If you you haven't had Steve visit, you should. Not only do the kids love him, but he gives 30% of the proceeds of his book sales back to your school.   He's pretty incredible.  


Get Your Groundhog

One of my favorite people in the whole wide world was born on Groundhog's Day, so the day has always been special to me, but more because it's my sweet mommy's birthday.  My first grade team was looking for a new unit and I just happened to recently purchase Groundhog's Runaway Shadow, so here it is. A week of groundhog happenings.

I love reading nonfiction writing from sweet little people.  This activity includes a cute little craft. Check out the adorable first grade sweetie below. She was so proud of her work.  

In addition to this weeklong reading unit, here are some other fun groundhog resources.
Here is a great informational video:

Check out his adorable groundhog snack from Life is a Lullaby.

And here are some great shadow activities from Schooling a Monkey.

Here's to hoping the groundhog doesn't see his shadow and I'll see my flip flops a little sooner. 

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