Friday, 30 August 2013

Design Flaws, aka What's Up with My Bulletin Boards?!

Happy Friday friends!  I had a long and busy week, ending with a 12 hour day today.  Needless to say, when I finally got home tonight I collapsed on the couch and haven't really moved from it, except to grab myself some dinner - a very healthy bowl of ice-cream! :)

I spent this afternoon tidying my classroom and displaying some of my kidlet's work on my bulletin boards.  My room has SIX doors, some windows and tonnes of oddly shaped shelving that take up heaps of wall space... so all but one of my bulletin boards have either a power outlet or a light fixture (sometimes both!) right in the middle of them.  Take a look:

Here's my Word Wall... with an outlet front and centre! Excuse the wonky words, the kidlets had just been using them (they're Velcroed to the board and they come and grab them for their writing). 

This board is currently displaying little astronauts to show who can independently use 'Spaceman Spaces' in their writing... oh, and of course is also displaying a lovely light and an outlet. I mean, really, what would I need to plug in at shoulder height?

This board is right above my carpet space, no light or outlet... but a huge air-conditioning unit.

What's up with my bulletin boards?!  It's such a pain to plan displays knowing that I'll have to work around those little interruptions.  And I haven't yet figured out a way to cover them with paper (not that the navy, purple and green felt isn't just lovely!) to make a cute background.  Any suggestions will be gratefully accepted. :)

Luckily, I had enough space on one of my boards to display the word family ribbons that I made using cards from Marsha's Word Families Galore packs.  All I did was hot glue them to a length of matching ribbon and now I have a cute way to display each family as I introduce them to the kidlets.  All I have to do it take out 1 pin and the whole ribbon will fold away neatly, ready to be unfolded next year, and it will be super easy to pin up the families that we still have to learn this year. :)

Of course, this board has a light fixture too (you can just see the edge of it on the left), but luckily it's not right in the middle.  My classroom was definitely not designed by a teacher. :)

Bed time for this tired teacher.  Hallelujah for a Saturday sleep in! 


Saturday, 24 August 2013

Five for Friday! 24/08/13

I'm so glad that I remembered to take some photos this week so I could link up with Doodle Bugs.  Last week I felt super left out - like everyone else had been to a great party and no one invited me. :)

1. Winter in Queensland is absolutely gorgeous.  We have had sunshine and warm weather for the past few weeks, perfect for beach walks!  I took these photos last Sunday, and it's looking like this weekend will be even nicer.  As soon as I finish this post I'm off for a walk to enjoy the sun. :)

2. We had a busy week at school this week, starting on Monday with our Athletics Day.  After all the fun and competition, these were the faithful few of my class who stayed 'til the end of the day. Needless to say, we had a quiet afternoon!  

3.  We celebrated Book Week on Thursday with a costume parade.  Everyone came dressed as their favourite book character.  The Prep team combined to become the gang from Alice in Wonderland - we had Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, the White Rabbit and the Cheshire Cat.  Here's me (as Alice) with a leopard and Wally. :)

4. My kidlets have been learning about the digraph 'sh' and yesterday we drew some cute sheep and painted them with watercolours.  I love directed drawing activities because every child can be successful while still creating unique work.  It's always amazing that the animals or characters they draw show so much of their own personality, even without their names you can tell who drew each sheep. :)

5. Two lovely surprises for me yesterday: the boss provided us all with a yummy morning tea and a 'thank you for your hard work' note and one of my kidlets brought me a big bunch of sunny yellow daffodils and an 'I love you' card.  After having them in the classroom all day I think it might be nice to have a colourful bunch of flowers on display all the time!

Happy Weekend everyone!  Thanks for stopping by. :)


Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Free Choice Fun!

Hi again all! Just popping in to quickly share about some permanent areas in my classroom that my class can enjoy during our 'Discovery Play' time.  

We have these play times scheduled in to the week.  It works really well, because the kidlets know that will have a chance to play (so they don't bug me!) and also that the activities will be the same all week (so they are much calmer in choosing an activity knowing they won't miss out).  The options for play include materials to explore a topic or concept that we have coming up (for example, water play with measuring containers in the weeks before we learn about capacity), sensory activities, fine and gross motor activities, imaginative play (dress ups, office equipment, dolls etc.), puppets, Lego/blocks/construction toys, computers or iPads and maths and literacy games/activities that we have done together that the kidlets can now complete independently. On top of those choices, there's 3 'corners' of the room that are permanent spaces and always an option for Discovery Play time (the others vary week to week).

Writer's Corner

Writer's Corner is simply a free choice writing desk, with lots of colourful pens, pencils and crayons to use with the stash of pretty paper, note cards, invitations and post its.  At the moment, letters are the most popular genre choice, usually sealed in an envelope and reverently delivered to the lucky recipient! :)

Creation Station

I must admit, I was nervous to let my Preppies unleashed on the Creation Station.  I kinda thought that letting them create whatever they wanted with the collage materials, boxes, paper, glitter, tape and glue would be a disaster waiting to happen.  Fortunately my nerves weren't needed, and I have loved seeing this area become the most popular free choice option and the gorgeous art projects (or giant cardboard robots!) that they make each week.  Bonus - they always clean up and leave it neat and tidy. :)

Home Corner

I almost had to get rid of my Home Corner because I was so pushed for space in my classroom - but just as I was carrying the stuff out to the shed I had an idea to put all the kitchen pieces against the wall, around a corner.  It's a bit of an odd shape but means that there's actually heaps of room to play without taking up too much space in the room.  I'm so glad I kept it, because I have a lovely group of 'mothers' who love cooking their babies dinner and some super keen coffee makers who deliver a cuppa to me approximately every 2 minutes... and then stay to watch while I 'drink' it. :)

Love this treasure busily cleaning her kitchen, using an empty spray bottle and cloth. 

The conversations that happen on this phone are hilarious!

I'd love to hear what options you have for creative/imaginative play in your classroom!  Please share so I can steal your lovely ideas. :)

I'm off to get my costume for our Book Week character parade tomorrow ready - our whole Prep team is going as the characters from Alice in Wonderland.  I'm super excited!


Friday, 16 August 2013

What's on Your Wishlist? B2S with TpT!

Guys, I seriously have the world's tiniest TpT store!  When I saw Head Over Heel's for Teaching's linky today I wasn't sure if I should join in - and then I thought, why not?  Although I only have a few products I'm very proud of all of them. :)

To join in, link up with the 2 top wishlisted items in your store, and 1 item on your own wishlist. :)

The most wishlisted items in my store are Dolch word card games.  I love to have a supply of sight word games in my classroom - and card games are so handy because they don't require any setting up so they can be played by kidlets independently, given to parents to take home for little ones who need extra practice, and grabbed quickly to play when there's a few spare minutes during the day.

Both of these are the Pre-Primer versions, but I also have these games using words from other year levels, too. :)

OK, onto MY wishlist!  I have so many products on my list that I have fallen in love with while blog stalking, but unfortunately I just can't afford to snap them all up when I see them.  My next purchase is going to be Mrs. Ricca's Down by the Sea! Math and Literacy Centers.
Blogger won't make this picture bigger, boo!

This pack is an absolutely gorgeous collection of creative and hands on maths and literacy activities based on a super cute beach theme.  I plan to have this printed and ready to go after my next set of holidays. I can't wait - my kidlets will L-O-V-E these!  Especially digging in a bucket to practice their phonics and fishing for sight words. :)

Don't forget to grab some of your wishlisted items on Sunday and Monday when TpT celebrates B2S with a sale!  The promo code is BTS13.

Happy Friday y'all!  I'm languishing on the couch today with a terrible cold, so it's back to morning TV and Pinterest for me.  


Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Monday Made It!

I've always wanted to link up with Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for a 'Monday Made It', but because I'm not super crafty I usually feel like my DIY projects will be embarrassed to be linked up with all the other wonderful made its. :) I'm sharing this one because it was super duper easy, and I know it could be a cheap-n-cheerful resource for other classrooms.

With a bread knife and some pool noodles, it didn't take me long to make a whole heap of these giant, soft beads! So far I've just used them during Discovery Play time and as part of our fine motor activities, but I've got plans to use them for patterning and addition/subtraction.  For lots of my kidlets threading these babies will be much more exciting than moving counters around, and because they will be laced together it will be easy to see and count each colour and the total.  (Don't you hate it when simple number stories aren't solved properly because a wriggly body has knocked a counter into hiding?)

I used 6 noodles in 2 different colours and some thin rope that I found in the storeroom (you could buy something similar quite cheaply from the hardware store). I taped a popstick to one end of each piece of rope to stop the beads sliding off and also popped a bit of tape on the loose end to stop the rope fraying.

There you have it folks, the easiest DIY ever!  Let me know if you found this idea useful. :)


Monday, 12 August 2013

Ouch Stories!

Last week, we wrote some super cute 'Ouch!' stories in our Writing Project group time. It seems that getting some kidlets excited to write is a never-ending battle, while some are so keen to get their ideas down on paper that they jump at any opportunity to pick up their pencil.  This activity was perfect for both of those groups, it gave the less enthusiastic authors great motivation and was a creative outlet for those who love to write. And of course, the illustration involving a bandaid person is pretty cute!

We spoke about the types of events that might deserve an ouch story, and I modelled my own for them.  We also practised acting out what we would do and say when we are hurt.  By the time it came around to independent writing, all of my kidlets were super excited to write their story! 

I fell on the road.  Ouch! I hurt my knee.

I was on my bike and I scraped my body.

I fell off my bike and I hurt my head.

I was going to the trampoline and I fell on a rock.  Something big came on my foot and it was a big pain and it really hurt my foot.

Now I know this isn't my original idea, but there's so many pins to many different sources that I couldn't figure out who thought of it first.  :)

I hope everyone's having a terrific week! 


Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Some Rotten Bananas for your Cheeky Monkeys!

Hi all!  Wow - this week has just flown by!  I have a camera full of cute photos and a heap of posts that I want to share, but it seems that just when I think I've got a spare moment to blog another task adds itself to my to-do list.  I'm hoping that on the weekend I'll have time to catch my breath and catch up with sharing some ideas with you all.

My cheeky Prep monkeys love playing games to learn and remember their sight words.  One of their favourites is called 'Rotten Bananas'.  It's a simple card game - kidlets draw a card from the playing pile, looking for yellow bananas.  If they can read the word, they keep it.  If they are lucky enough to draw a bunch of bananas they keep this as a 'freebie'.  Rotten banana cards are the ones to look out for - these bad boys mean all of their cards go back to the bottom of the pile!  The cheeky monkey with the most yellow banana cards at the end of the game is the winner.  

I've played this game in my classroom for years, but this week gave it a bit of a facelift and added the Dolch Pre-Primer, Primer and First Grade versions to my TpT store. This version is definitely nicer than the shabby old cards I had stored in an old yoghurt container! :)



First Grade

I hope y'all are having a wonderful week with your cheeky monkeys!


Friday, 2 August 2013

Currently August!

August already... can you believe it? :)  I'm linking up with Farley to share what's on my mind this month.

Listening: The TV options are particularly awful tonight... it was either this kids movie, cricket or football! I do love Jason Bateman though. :)

Loving: I stayed at school until almost 7 this evening, but left with everything planned for next week.  I'm so looking forward to a free Sunday afternoon rather than one spent in front of my laptop with my planning beside me.  The weather's supposed to be gorgeous this weekend so I'm hoping to get a walk on the beach in.

Thinking: Fairly self-explanatory! Although why I didn't stop on the way home to grab a bottle is not. 

Wanting: I need new gym tights, so I'm hoping that when I get to Lorna Jane tomorrow there's some sort of once in a lifetime 99% off sale happening!

Needing: Seriously, if you saw my house (apartment) you would think I'd just moved in!  I need a dining table and chairs, as well as an armchair and coffee table for a random empty space near one of my patios. I've got big doors leading on to patios at the front, side and back of my house which is great for sitting in the sun, but tricky for furniture placement!  I also have to buy stuff for the spare bedroom, but I'm not sure if I buy a bed... or a makeup table, floor length mirror etc. to turn it into a dressing room.

B2S Must Haves: We're just past halfway in our school year, but when January rolls around these will be top of my priorities:
1. The first thing I do each year is dust and clean every nook and cranny of my classroom.  I like to know that (at least for the first week or so!) things will be nice and fresh for me and the kidlets.
2. Gotta have a big stack of cute notepaper for all those back to school to-do lists!
3. Organisation doesn't come easily to me - I need to spend time almost daily making sure that everything is in it's place, otherwise things get on top of me and then my room looks like a disaster area.  It helps if I've decided where and how I'm going to store things right from the beginning of the year so I know where I can find things and where I need to put them back during the year.

There you have it, all the excitement of a new month. I hope your August has been just wonderful so far! :)