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!

LuLaRoe Review

Today I have the opportunity to write about a new obsession of mine.  I know I'm not alone when I say that I have jumped a board the LuLaRoe train and I couldn't be happier with my decision. As a teacher it is all about being stylish but comfortable at the same time.  Especially as a kindergarten teacher, I am constantly moving, sitting, and sometimes crawling on the ground (don't ask ;)).  When I clothes shop for my classroom attire I always look for things that are professional yet also allow me the flexibility to move and groove with my kindergarten kiddos. LuLaRoe clothing does just that. 

A few months ago I started to see the LuLaRoe attire pop up and it peeked my interest.  There is nothing better than a comfortable pair of leggings.  When I got my first pair I was stunned by the softness of them and how comfortable they were.  Not to mention they wash really well.  I was excited about my first purchase of leggings, but hesitant to try the other styles of LuLaRoe clothing because one, I'm always scared to buy clothing online because I'm never quite sure of the exact size and the thought of having to do the return shipping process terrifies me.  Not to mention, the variety of style names had me confused and I couldn't keep them all straight.

Luckily, all my fears were conquered recently when I connected with a fabulous LuLaRoe Consultant.

As I started to email with Nicole Amanda I quickly noticed how warm and personable she was.  She was patient as I rattled off a bunch of questions and gave me great sizing suggestions on the various styles.  She told me to not get hung up on being one size for all of LuLaRoe, but rather to look at each individual category and size according to how it fits.

For my first order I tried four different LuLaRoe styles and because of Nicole Amanda's great sizing suggestions I was happy with all my choices.

I love the flow of this dress and how you can easily pair it with a short boot or jean jacket.  I also like how it is shorter in the front and longer in the back.  

The Irma is my go to shirt to pair with my leggings.  I also love how it is shorter in the front and longer in the back.  Nicole Amanda recommended to go down two sizes when ordering the Irma and that was the perfect suggestion.  

I'm not going to lie I was skeptical of this dress when I was reading about it because of how it is described as a very form fitting dress.  Lets be honest, since I recently had a baby I don't gravitate towards any clothing that accentuates the areas I need to firm up.  Nicole Amanda suggested to go up a size or two when ordering this one.  I decided to face my fears and give this style a try.  I stayed safe though and tried a basic black.  I LOVE this dress.  I felt like it flattered my body well and I loved how it was the perfect length.  Not to mention I love how I decided to snag the basic black because I have many options when wearing it.  It is also light weight so I can see this dress being really comfortable to wear in the summer.  I will definitely be buying another Julia style.

I was happy with this style as well.  I like how it is flows, but is also more true to size. I like to pair it with a skinny pair of jeans.  It's the perfect Friday attire.  

And of course I had to throw in another pair of leggings for good measure.  A girl can not have enough leggings. ;)

Another small, but useful thing I liked that Nicole Amanda did with my first order was to write what I ordered and the sizes on a card.  Now I conveniently have that information by my computer so that when she uploads new clothing to her page I can look back to see what worked for me and order more clothing with ease! ;)  Something I love, but my husband may not, shhhh don't tell him!

Now the fun part, a chance to win two pairs of LuLaRoe leggings to either begin your obsession or add to it.  Simply click the Rafflecopter below and join Nicole Amanda's LuLaRoe Facebook group to enter.  

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

Happy Shopping!

Settling into the New Normal

As I sit here and watch my sweet little girl play on the last weekday of my winter break I can't help but feel a twinge of sadness about going back to work.  Now, don't get me wrong, I love my job and I love the students I teach, but ever since I started wearing the Mom/Teacher hat I find myself wishing even more that breaks went a little longer, and weekends a little slower.

I've been back to work a little over three months now and I'm not going to lie, and there is no way to sugar coat this, it is hard!  To all you Teacher Moms out there who make it look so effortless kudos to you, I am certainly trying to get into a groove, but more than half the days I feel like I am riding the struggle bus.  This juggling is one tough act. 

I thought I would take a few minutes to share what I have started to realize...

I would say every day I feel a little Mom guilt as I kiss my baby and walk out the door to work, but at various degrees of intensity.  It's normal and everyone feels it and it's okay!

I will say that although I miss my baby girl like crazy, my day is so busy and crazy that before I know it I'm back in the car driving home to cuddle with her.  However, there are those days when you are going to need to cry for a moment or two as you drive to work. Go ahead and do it.  You will thank yourself later.

The number one thing that helps me the most is knowing that she is in wonderful hands.

I'm constantly asking myself, am I doing enough for my students?  Am I meeting all my students needs? Am I running a smooth classroom that is both academically challenging and fun!  The questions go on and on.  When those questions start flooding my head I have to take a deep breath and answer, yes I am doing the best that I can, and I am a good teacher!

It really is, and if you find yourself questioning whether or not you are being a good Mom and a good teacher, odds are you are rocking both!  The ones who question are the ones who care and when you care you try your best.  

I stepped back into my classroom and I wanted to change and do so much.  I had had a whole summer plus my maternity leave to brainstorm and think of new ideas to try in my room.  I quickly realized I needed to relax and allow myself time to get my groove back.  I wrote down all the ideas I had for my classroom and decided to try to implement one new thing a month.   If there was a month I just couldn't do something new I took a breath and gave myself a break.  I'm quickly realizing it's okay to take things slowly.  There is no need to put additional pressure on myself.  

Finally, if you find yourself questioning whether or not you are doing a good job, I am here to tell you YOU ARE!  Go ahead, give yourself a pat on the back, you deserve it.  

Thank you for reading along with me as I typed out the thoughts that have been running through my  head as I rejoined the work world.  I couldn't be happier and I appreciate the fact that I can have a job that I love and concentrate on my family all at the same time.  

I've just realized that this year is all about embracing the new normal. 


Thoughts on Thursday: Resolutions

Hi Friends, and thank you for stopping by. 
 I've been contemplating all week about writing a post about resolutions so I was excited to see that my friends Jessica from Tech & Teachability and Kristi from Pelicans and Pipsqueaks were hosting a fun linky on this very topic.  

Call me crazy, or maybe you can relate, but I always feel if I write down my resolutions each year there is a stronger possibility I might actually complete them.  I am a visual person and lists are my jam so here we go...

1.  Worry Less
2. Be Present
3. Blog More
4. Moisture my Feet
5. Drink more Water

1.  Nothing like starting off with a BANG!  What is the saying, go big or go home?!  My first resolution is definitely a big one, but I'm going to really try and make it happen.  I'm a worrier, I worry about worrying.  I really want to take a few deep breaths this year and relax.  Over the past few years I've taken the mantra from Alex and Ani close to my heart, "Opportunities that are meant for you will not pass you by" as a way to put perspective and understand that worrying really does nothing...NOTHING.  It has helped to an extent, but I want to become even more zen and I think I've said a few times now, relax.  

2.  My next resolution has to do with enjoying the moment.  Now that I am a working Momma I feel like my time is even more precious.  I want to be my best as a Mom, be a good Wife, and do my best at school.  At times I feel like I'm pulled every direction, and that's when the worrying really starts to set in.  Am I doing enough at school for my students?  Am I giving my baby girl enough time? My Husband?  Is my house clean enough?  The list goes on and on.  I want to push those thoughts out of my mind and just enjoy the moments.  When I am at home I want to enjoy  my family, I want to put my phone down and just enjoy each other.  When I am at school I want to have fun and enjoy my students.  

I'm realizing more than ever that time goes by at a rapid speed and if I don't start to open my eyes and enjoy it's just going to pass me by. 

3.  Not to TOOT my own horn, but I'm excited that I am well on my way to accomplishing my third resolution by writing this post.  I love this little corner of the web that is all mine and I have been neglectful of it.  I want to try to blog at least once a month.  There is something about opening up my laptop and having some time to jot down my thoughts that is cathartic and relaxing.  Hey, this resolution just help with my first resolution. ;)

4. Okay, okay, now you might be reading this next resolution and be thinking what the what?!  In the winter time I am SO bad about moisturizing my feet and during those long winter months my feet turn into sandpaper.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen I have sandpaper feet!  (sorry if that is TMI).  I want to make a conscious effort to remember to moisture before I go to bed, even if I am deliriously tired so that I can avoid that from happening this winter.  

5.  Finally, I feel like whenever you make a list of resolutions this just has to be on it.  Perhaps it is the good luck charm that makes all the other resolutions come true.  

Well, thank you very much for allowing me to share my Thoughts on Thursday and put my resolutions into the blogisphere.  I hope everyone has a wonderful start to their New Year and if you feel like having some fun jump on over and type out your resolutions.  We would love to hear them!

Kindness in the Classroom

Good Morning and thank you for stopping by.  I wanted to take a few minutes to share a kindness idea with you that I have started to use in my classroom.  Please forgive me as I step onto my soapbox, but I feel it is so important to role model kindness and how to be a nice friend in Kindergarten.  Kindergarten is the starting point and I believe we have such an important job because we lay the foundation as they begin their educational journey. 

Each year I make it a mission to model, model, and model kindness in the classroom.  We role play, we talk about problem solving strategies, and I emphasize the importance of thinking before you act and to put yourself in someone else's shoes. 

When I came back from my maternity leave I noticed that my students were having a hard time using their words with one another and problem solving.  Students were feeling left out during recess and during other social activities in the classroom.  I decided to take my kindness goal one step forward and really spotlight it in my classroom.

On my bulletin board I displayed "Be Kind", two simple words with such a powerful message.  That is our classroom motto.  I then told my class that we were going to work hard to become a classroom community who cared and respected each other. 

I started a class meeting by teaching the heart lesson.  Please forgive me, but I do not know where I got this idea from, if you happen to read this and you know the owner tell me and I will give credit.  To begin the lesson you show the class a flat, unfolded, pretty much "perfect" paper heart. 

You talk about how everyone's heart looks like this.  It is not hurt, or broken, and everyone feels happy and loved. 

Then, you tell the class that when they use mean words or are unkind to someone that person's heart gets crumpled (at this point you take the "perfect" heart and you crumple it into a ball)

As you start to flat out the now crumpled heart, you tell the class that you can say sorry to the person you were unkind to, but your words or actions still stay with the person who you were unkind to and hurt.  They forgive you, but they also don't forget and they might still feel sad.  Their heart isn't as "perfect" as it once was. 

As I crumpled the heart my students mouths' dropped open and their eyes were big.  I think this visual really helps them see the damage unkind words and actions can do to a person.  Saying sorry definitely helps, but it's better to think about your actions first before you hurt your friend.

I leave the two hearts up on the board as a reminder and we talk about it often. 

I also tell my students to be leaders and stand up to others who are being unkind.  I give them the example of if they are at recess and they see someone alone, ask them to join in the fun, be a leader and show others how nice it is to be kind. Or if we are in line and someone is talking, be a leader and show the quiet signal without shouting at them to be quiet that way they are being a good role and others will follow them. 

It makes their heart happy and in turn makes their friend's heart happy too.

Each day I look for someone who is being kind to their friends and at the end of the day when we are wrapping up our activities I spotlight one student to receive the Kindness Certificate.  I then put their name on the spotlight on our bulletin board. 

If you are interested in this certificate you can download this freebie here:

I appreciate you taking the time to read through my post.  As my principal said at a meeting recently.  We can Google pretty much everything these days, but we can't Google how to be kind, have empathy, and be a nice friend.  That is where we come in, to role model and teach our students.  I want them to be able to carry this message with them for the rest of their lives.  After all kindness never goes out of style and will help them achieve all the goals they set their mind to. 

Have a great day and Be Kind!