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Surviving the End of the Year Craziness

Alright, let's chat!  The end of the year can be such a stressful time.  I feel like once I come back from spring break my mind starts going faster than it already does as I try to schedule, organize, and figure out how to get everything done by the end of the year. In fact as I'm starting to type this post I can feel the anxiety within me start to bubble as I start to think about everything I need to accomplish in such a short amount of time!  My fingers even started to pick up speed and type faster! (Just breath, right?!)

I was at a PD last week and the instructor said that it's almost as if April and May are one word "AprilMay" because they blur together so much and there is just so much STUFF!  If you are a teacher that teaches until June then you can lump all three months together because you are in the same boat. "AprilMayJune"

It's important during this crazy time of year that you take some time for yourself and do some self care so that you are able to stay focused and on top of all the extra fun and activities.  I compiled a short list of things that help stay sane and focused that I wanted to share with you.

One thing that really has helped me over the years is to make lists!  I LOVE lists!  There is just something about writing everything I have to do onto a piece of paper and then crossing them off one line at a time that just makes my heart pitter patter.

During this time of year I like to make lists, but I like to make shorter lists.  I like to give myself 3-4 goals to accomplish within the week and then as I cross them off I add new ones.  This helps me make everything more manageable and not so scary.  Because let's be honest, if we wrote everything we needed to accomplish these next few months it would be pretty darn long and overwhelming.

Classroom Management:

It's no joke that the behaviors are crazy style these last few months of school.  I don't know about you, but I feel like spring fever has hit really early this year.  It's important for me during this time of year to stay consistent with my behavior management and review expectations often.

I also like to throw in a few fresh ideas that don't tilt us off our axis, but help to freshen up the routine.

Staff Morale:
We are stressed!  Not only does everyone have so much to do in their classroom, but I also feel spring brings so much stress because of the unknown.  Will I be teaching the same grade? Is the team staying the same? What needs do the incoming students have? How big will the classes be? Do I have to change rooms?  and the list goes on and on!

I like to do things for teammates during this time, nothing big, but just small things to put a smile on their face and a little pep in their step.

I recently created these Teacher Notes Fiesta Style as a fun and quick way to print a cute note and write a message to a sweet colleague.
I know my day always starts on a positive note when I have a fun surprise in my mailbox or on my desk.
If you are interested in the Teacher Notes you can click the picture below.


Zen Zone:
I feel like our engines are running fast during these last few months and I like to take a few minutes a couple times throughout the day to STOP everything we are doing and just breath.  I put on calming music and they find a just right spot in the room and just sit and breath for a few minutes.  We turn off the lights and just relax.

It's amazing how it just kind of balances us and we are able to refocus and get back to business.

Lately I have been using this link from YouTube.  I safe shared it so there are no ads.  Feel free to click and enjoy with your class.

Zen Zone Relaxing Music

Self Care:
Last, but not least YOU need to TAKE CARE of YOU!  I'll say it one more time.  YOU need to TAKE CARE of YOU!

I think I might have already mentioned this, but this time of year is CRAZY!

It's important that you add some fun things to your calendar that you enjoy so that you can take a break and just relax.

Whatever it is that makes your heart happy, pencil in some time and DO IT!  It's so important and much needed and your self will thank you in the long run!

Well, I'm done!  I finished my ramblings and I appreciate you staying with me as I did.
I hope you found some useful ideas in this blog post and some ideas to help as you tackle the last few months of school.

Know that we are all in this together and we are here to support each other and anything can be tackled one small To-Do List at a time.

Using Writing Offices

If you were to ask me my favorite time of the school day, I would hands down tell you it's our writing time, and particularly our writing workshop time.  I just love the format of that block of time where I have the opportunity to teach a mini-lesson and then my students have the chance to go off on their own and try it using the writing paper of their choice.  My students are actively engaged and I feel like I have the chance to walk around and work with several students either in a small group or individually.  Not to mention, it is always exciting to see how far they have come from the beginning of the year to the end.  It's such a motivating time of the day.

In Kindergarten, one area my students have the most trouble with is having the confidence to stretch out the words they are trying to spell and write the sounds that they hear.  Often times I will have students come up to me and ask, "How do you spell?!"   Creating a writing office for my students has made a world of difference because they can use the tools inside the folders to help them.   I can't tell you how helpful these offices have been in my classroom, because not only do my students use the tools inside the folders, but they love having privacy and their own special space to write.  It's a win-win.

To assemble each writing office I do the following steps:

Step 1: I use two manila filing folders, regular size.  

Step 2: I put a strip of glue on the end of one folder and then place the other end of the second folder on top to overlap just a small amount.  Once it is dry I start to cut out the pages I want to use to glue inside my folder.  

Step 3: I glue the alphabet strip on the inside towards the top as well as the sight words in the middle. 

Step 4: I glue number words on the left. 

Step 5: I glue a vowels chart on the right side. 
Added Bonus: After I laminate the writing office, I adhere a pocket square from the Target Dollar Spot (I can usually find them at the beginning of the year or in January) and easily slip monthly words into the pocket.  This is a great tool to help build vocabulary.  

Step 6: Last, I close the folders together and glue the writing office cover to the front. 

To keep them durable and use year after year, I laminate the writing offices and store them in our writing workshop area.  

After I introduce all the supplies in our writing workshop area at the beginning of the year, the students know they can grab and use a writing office whenever they want.

Thank you for stopping by and reading about my favorite time of the day.  If you found this post useful and would like to try to make your own writing offices, you can click the picture below to grab all the writing pages you need. 

Happy Assembling and Writing! 

ABC Countdown TE

So many classrooms have an ABC Countdown for the end of the year.  It is fun for the kids to celebrate the last days of school together with something to look forward to each day. Why can't the teachers have their own countdown?

My friend Sarah from Mrs.B's First Grade and I had so much fun coming up with an ABC Countdown for teachers. We tried to include all of our favorite things, which are hopefully yours too! Keep an eye out on our social media for the days "S" and "T" for an extra special treat from us!

To celebrate with us, just click the picture below to download the PDF. You can fill in the date that each day falls on for your school. Hang up the countdown in the teachers lounge, email it out to your friends, or just keep it to yourself. Either way - have some fun with your last 26 days. YOU HAVE EARNED IT!

We would love to see pictures of your ABC Countdown in action. Use the hashtag #abccountdownTE when sharing on social media!

Count & Add Freebie

I don't know about you, but March is one of my favorite months.  The anticipation of spring and warmer days just puts a pep in my step.  Not to mention everything starts to get so colorful. 

Math centers is a great time to reinforce those important skills taught during whole group instruction.  I created a few March themed activities to continue to practice counting as well as adding numbers.  

Laminate the pages for durability and have students use a paperclip and pencil to create a spinner.  Then students can use the gold coins provided or counters you have to show the number and write it.



Another activity is to have students spin the two spinners and record each number.  Then they can use the space provided on the right to show their work and create a number sentence.  

I am excited to use these activities during the month of March.  

To download a set for yourself click the picture below.  

Bring on Spring and Green everything!

Literacy Centers

Literacy Centers in Kindergarten is such an important time of the day.  It allows your kiddos the time to independently work on reading and writing skills and you the time to meet with your guided reading groups.  I don't know about you, but small group time is my favorite time.  

With that being said, literacy center time can also be a nightmare time of the day if your students are unable to successfully complete the tasks given to them independently and constantly have to come up to you and interrupt your reading groups.  

I wanted to share a few ideas I have tried this year that have helped make my literacy center time more efficient and not to mention have saved my sanity along the way! ;)

Over the years I have tried many different charts and way to organize and schedule my reading groups.  One important tip I have found is that the smaller the group the better the chance of the group successfully completing the task.

I also try to strategically organize my groups where I have at least one strong leader in each group that way I know the group can stay focused and on task.  You can even assign a "captain" of the day to have that role in the group.  Students love and are always eager to have a leadership role during an activity.

I created this chart to fill in each week to help me plan out my literacy centers.  I have found it to help me stay organized because the activities are planned for the week, and I know exactly who is going where on each day.  To stay organized and prepared for the upcoming week I usually make my copies for each center and write out my schedule the Friday before during my prep.  That way when I come into work on Monday my groups are ready to go and I can focus on other items on my to-do list to get ready to start the week.

If you like this chart I included it at the bottom of my blog post for you to download and use.   

Another save my sanity idea I started this year was to organize my literacy centers in these bins from Target.  They are the perfect size to hold all the materials my kiddos need to complete their literacy center and I love how I can just hand the whole bin to the literacy center group and they can go to the table and get started.  No more counting out the right amount of papers each morning I assign the activity and scrambling to gather all the materials.

Click on the link to take you directly to the bins: Target Storage Bins

To try to limit interruptions during my guided reading groups I also include all of the materials a group could possibly need to complete the task. 

1. Pencils (so I know they are sharp and ready to go)
2. Crayons (in case the paper calls for coloring a certain color I don't have to worry about a student coming up and telling me they don't have a (insert color) crayon.  
3. Dice or any other manipulatives they might need
4. Actual center activity with several extra copies.  I have been putting enough for all of my students to complete the activity for the week.  Also, it prevents a kiddo to come up and say they made a mistake and need a new copy.  Mistakes happen and my students know that if they need to take an extra copy they can.  

Lastly, one more idea that has really helped this year are these dome lights. I turn them on when I am working with my guided reading groups.  My students know if the lights are on they can not interrupt us.  They have really come in handy when I am doing timed assessments.  I have found the visual to be really effective and my students understand! I've even overheard other students telling a student who is about to walk up to the table, not now, they are busy! ;)

I found this set of two at Menards and used a Sharpie to write on them.  

Added bonus: my students love to push the button before we get started.  They know we are about to get started on important business.


If you liked the literacy center scheduler I created above I included it, just click the picture below.  I am a use my flair pens and write it out kind of gal, but if you prefer to type I included an editable version as well. 

Thank you for stopping by.  I hope you found some ideas that you can use during your literacy centers.

100 Day Fun

100 Day in K is certainly a big celebration.  It is one of my favorite days because I love to reminisce and think about how far we have come.  Lots of hard work and fun has definitely gone into the first 100 days of school.  Our 100 day is right around the corner. 

One way we like to celebrate 100 day is by counting to 100. 

Students who want to can come up to the front and count to 100 all by themselves for the class.  We quietly listen and when they count all the way to 100 we cheer and celebrate together.  Anyone who doesn't feel comfortable counting for the class can count for me one on one.  

I give each student a certificate to take home to celebrate. 

Want to grab these certificates for your class? 
Click the picture below to download. 

Happy 100 Day and Happy Counting!

Syllable Center Freebie

I am always trying to find new ways to make my literacy centers meaningful, hands on, and engaging.  One way I like to do that is by incorporating different monthly themes with the skills we are learning.  This syllable counting center will be the perfect addition to your literacy centers this month. 

Students can begin by using the syllable cards pictured above.  
They say the word, clap the syllables and then mark the number with a counter.  I am obsessed with the Target mini erasers and so are my students.  We use them as counters for everything and I have found them to be very motivating and another way to keep centers fresh for my little learners.  

After they have gone through all the cards they can then reinforce their learning by coloring the number under each picture.

Click the picture below to download this freebie.  

Thanks for stopping by, I hope your students fall in love with this center!  

Happy February!