Showing posts with label back to school. Show all posts
Showing posts with label back to school. Show all posts
Welcome to 2020.  The year of the pandemic.

And the year we decided to temporarily homeschool our 7 year old.  Homeschool was the right decision right now for us because it came down to the LRE--the least restrictive environment.  It's a term we use in public school for our special needs children.  And it was the idea that we kept coming back to as parents.  Which environment--in person, all virtual, or homeschool--will give Cooper the least restrictive environment.  And the answer every time was homeschool.

Since my 7 year old boy LOVES legos, our homeschool classroom theme became obvious!  And I think it turned out adorably.  Take a look at our lego classroom space!
{This post contains affiliate links which go to support my chocolate and Dr. Pepper addiction! :)}

Our upstairs playroom has the perfectly sized window jut-out area.  It has great natural light and is just the perfect size for a homeschool classroom.  

2nd Grade Lego Sign

The first thing we did is make our "2nd" grade sign for the window sill.  I grabbed these paper mache letters online since I wasn't going in stores, spray painted them black and hot glued random, extra legos to it.  The 2 is a 12" letter and the N & D are 8" letters.

The rest of the window holds our books we are reading that week.  Clearly, this week, we will be enjoying some Frog and Toad!

Lego Head Painted Jars

I ordered rainbow drawers to keep our supplies organized, but I also wanted a few supply jars out.  These lego jars were perfect!

I found a few extra small mason jars.  These are the 8 ounce sized jars.  First, I decided to use craft paint.

You can see that clearly didn't work well.  The paint peeled, and the more coats I tried to add, the worse it got...

So I bought some spray paint and problem solved.  It was so easy and soooo much faster.  I wish I would've done this earlier!

Then, my handy husband cut a 4" cube for me from a left over post scrap he had in his shop.  I did use craft paints to paint this blue and it worked great!!  It took 2-3 coats to get the coloring right.  I wanted it to look like one of the lego heads had a blue shirt lego block and I think it works well!

Aren't the adorable?  I had fun painting the faces and letting my 7 year old paint too! :)

Lego Drawer Pull

In the middle of a work-from-home, school-from-home pandemic, desks are a hot commodity!!

After 2 desk ordering fails, I finally found this desk and this chair at Walmart for under $50.  It's simple and basic, but that's what we needed for this kid space anyway!  (Rainbow drawers are from Amazon.)

I decided to add a drawer pull to it to tie it in to our theme.  

Cooper built a lego droid drawer pull (can you tell his other love is Star Wars??).  We used hot glue to attach it to the drawer, but that didn't last long.  Right now, it's stuck with Gorilla Super Glue.  Fingers crossed this lasts longer!

Lego Bulletin Board

If you have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know I LOVE a good anchor chart.  So having a place to post our learning this year was crucial!  I ordered this cork bulletin board and covered it in black fabric.  Then, I hot glued mega blocks around the border.  I bought this set of mega blocks and I had less than 10 left over so it worked perfectly with this size board.

I drew and cut out the light bulb, and made and printed the text for our big idea.  This is our big idea for the first nine weeks.  I've planned out 4 big ideas for the year!  If you have any of my integrated units, you know I'm a believer in a big idea to connect across all subject areas.  Homeschooling will be no different!

I love how this board turned out!  Soon it will be full of anchor charts and learning.  Follow me on facebook or instagram to see the progress! 

If you love this bulletin board, you can find templates, for 3 lego themed inspirational quotes in this bulletin board set.

I really love our little space and hope it makes for a successful year of 2nd grade!

Language is so basic and organic that sometimes I think we forget about how important it really is...

Anybody remember that there are actually 5 language standards with 23 sub points in our Common Core Standards.'s not just reading and writing, people.  Oh yeah, and there's a whole 'nother strand on speaking too. {How 'bout that Arkansaseese for ya?}  So, yeah...language is *kinda* important!

So let's get back to the basics with a few of my most tried and true language tools.

I'm linking up with my friend, #TeacherMom, again for some Back-To-School language tools!

From a teacher who taught for 9 years in a high poverty, high ELL school {and still teaches in a diverse school this year}, here are my tried and true language tools for building good language with our ELL babies! And {*psssst!*} works for everyone else too!

1. Ranch Hands
Since my room is western themed and all, it's only fitting that my star student/weekly helper/whatever you wanna call it kid is called our "Ranch Hand."  You may be thinking, what does a class helper have to do with language?

Wait for it.  Just wait.

Each year I handle ranch hands differently...some years I've done too much and felt stretched too thin, and other years I've not done enough and felt too guilty.  But so far, this's feeling just right.  It is of course, just two weeks into school, so we'll see how I feel in May.

Anyhoo.... I'm a big believer it making kids feel wanted and important.  I think kids gain confidence when they feel this way.  And confident kids become confident speakers. #language 

Also, when students are asked to be leaders and share with us about their family, who they are, what they like, and answer questions, they feel loved, appreciated, and included.  AND, they have to practice language skills.  #language

Here's a look at how I'm handling my ranch hands each week....
I never really had a good spot for my ranch hands to sit in my old classroom, so I was super excited that I was able to find a spot this year in my new room.... {it helps that I left my big ole' easel in my old room too!}  

This red desk has been with me since my first year.  My dad found it on the side of the road for free and I painted it red and glazed it.  In my old classroom, it sat out in the hallway, but this year I had a spot to bring it inside and use it for my ranch hand's desk!  My ranch hand gets to move in here for their special week....and, of course, wear the cowboy hat!

I stole the banners from one of my teammates from last year.  I loved how she personalized the alliteration for each kiddo so I decided to carry that on this year!  The chalkboard banners are from amazon and I laminated each pennant so I could reuse them each week.

Each day, we do something special to introduce our ranch hand.  I send parents a note on Monday telling them their child is the ranch hand this week.  It gives them a list of things to bring each day and what our schedule looks like for the week.

Monday: Meet the ranch hand....we introduce our new ranch hand and interview them with these questions to fill out their wanted poster.  Pretty much covering Common Core Speaking & Listening {SL} 1, 2, 3, and 6 right here. #language

Then, we hang the wanted ad for everyone to see {names marked out for privacy!}  At the end of the week, I add my own special note at the bottom to our ranch hand and send it home with them.

On Tuesdays, our ranch hand brings in 3 photos to share with us about their family.  They must say at least one complete sentence about each picture...building language skills again right here and covering those same ol' S&L standards!  Plus, you should see the grins on their faces when they get to share pictures.  They love it!!  The pictures get taped and added to our wall as well...and sent home on Friday.

Wednesdays we make a wordle describing our ranch hand.  Each student must think of one adjective to describe our friend.  And they must speak in a complete sentence.  We use sentence frames to help them...."Whitney is _____." or "Whitney has _______." etc.  I type it in to and make the wordle right there with the kiddos, print it out and hang it on the wall too!  I've done this one other year, but I quit for a few years in between because I was trying to print them in color and it was just too much.  So this year I decided to bring back the wordles with black and white only!  And I still think they look great!  All kinds of language skills wrapped up with this activity.  We get to talk about adjectives once a week so it's always on their brain, they have to speak in complete sentences {and later in the year, they have to write their sentence on a sticky note for our ranch just takes way too long at the beginning of the year}, and our ranch hand just beams the whole time.  I can't think of a happier way to practice basic language skills than building each other up.

Thursdays: Show & Tell.  The ranch hand tells about ONE thing they bring to share and must answer 3 questions from the audience about their item.

Friday: On the last Friday of each month, I eat lunch with all of my ranch hands from that month for some good ol' friendly conversations.

So, yeah, it's an oldie, but a goodie...featuring kids and letting them talk in front of the class about what they want to talk about and making them ask and answer questions is just the most old fashioned, but most organic way, to develop language!

2. Verb Tenses
Here's another language tool from my store...

Year after year, I use this chart and sort from my TPT store.  Yeah, it's a little bit a lot-a-bit old and needs to be updated {like from my pre-cute-cover days}, but it's got some good meat inside of it!
I blogged about this one in detail back in the spring.  Check it out here!

3. Productive Group Work
When kids work by themselves, they don't have to talk.   When kids work in groups, they are supposed to talk.  When kids work in productive groups and have to "share the pen," they HAVE to talk. #language

Here are just a few blog posts are productive group work in literacy and math...
>>>Main Idea {FREEBIE}

>>>Non-Fiction Feature Scavenger Hunt

>>>Math Fact Fluency Partner Work

It seems so basic, but language is just that...basic.

Now I KNOW I'm crazy!  It's 9:00 on the night before the first day of school and I've decided to go ahead and link up with my friend, #TeacherMom, for her's every Monday during the month of August and I was going to just skip out on this one, but...well...I caved.

Here are my must have teacher tools for a "successful school" year....

Teacher Tool #1: A Schedule

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a schedule and routine driven person.  I'm lost without a plan, people.  Seriously.  It's like angelic choruses go off when I finally get my schedule posted in my room! AHHHHHHH! {sung at the very top of my lungs :)}  You can grab my schedule cards here...and now they are updated with an adorable new look!
The colorful I can objective cards can be found here.  They are included in my Common Core Units if you already have those or you can get them all separately.

Teacher Tool #2: Whole Brain Teaching
I just love love love the whole brain teaching philosophy.  This is one of my favorites {above}.  Whole class rewards through smilies and frownies.  What I love is the echo they give back because it just gets their attention so quickly.  And it makes a negative seem a little more tolerable when we all get to act out our "oh no" sad faces and voices!  You can grab all of my whole brain classroom management "stuff" here.

Teacher Tool #3: Silhouette 
Ya'll!!! My mother-in-law has one of those Silhouette machine thingies and they are pretty awesome! They can cut out just about anything.  And, honestly, I didn't really care too much about it until I started setting up my room.  Finding die cuts that are in western theme can be difficult.  I have never been able to find horse shoe die cuts that are the right size...or sheriff badges.  So this machine made this a ton easier!

My sweet mother-in-law cut out these horse shoes to decorate my hallway.

I love how they turned out!  She cut them on self-adhesive vinyl so they stick perfectly!

I forgot to get a closeup of these, but she also made boots and hats out of vinyl too!  Love the flexibility with this machine and so thankful for a mother-in-law willing to help! :)

Teacher Tool #4: Chalk Markers
I'm really not sure how I survived without chalk pens.  They are just the greatest.  I love that I can write on pretty much anything with them labels, plant pots {a Fruit of the Spirit is on the front and back of each pot}....

And decorative chalkboards!  I had so much fun doodling one of my favorite Bible verses on this one for above my desk!
 which leads into my final Teacher Tool....

Teacher Tool #5: A positive attitude!
It's going to be a *great* year for me because I've decided it's going to be a great year.  And I'm choosing each day to see the good and admirable things in my students, my teaching and the people around me.

Check out more pics from my classroom on my Classroom Tour 2015 Blog!

And link up with your teacher tools for Back To School!

It's that time of year again...While many of my friends are casually making their way back to school to set up for the new year, I am frantically finishing...

As several of you may know, I accepted a new first grade position at a new school in a new district.

My new school is a year round school.  This means I just finished my week of inservice and kids will come back to school August 3rd.  I am super excited as a mommy of a little one to try out this new calendar schedule!

The fun part is that I was not able to get into my room to set up my brand new classroom until Thursday, July 23rd.  And my family was vacationing in Disney....So we returned from vacation Sunday, July 26th at 12:30 and I worked until 1:00 am or later Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to set up my room for our Open House on Wednesday....

PHEW!!!! I. Am. Exhausted!

All of that to's my new room.  Once I got past the exhaustion, it was a lot of fun setting up a brand new classroom.  And it's not 100% finished, but I wanted to go ahead a post before the first week with kids crazies start! :)  It was a new challenge and I love new decorating challenges!  So let's get to it!!

Yes...I stayed with the western theme.  I just love it too much AND I didn't want to have to spend the money on a new theme this year!

Cons of my new room:
1. No color.  I really wish I had taken a "before" pictures, but I was to frantic trying to get organized.  It's like a tub of gray paint exploded in this room!
2. No windows.  I am super sad about the lack of natural light in this room and the fact that I didn't get to use my curtains. #sadface

Pros of my new room:
1. I can use hot glue to decorate!!! #happydance
2. All those gray walls can be stapled into so bye-bye expensive tape! #doublehappydance

 I hot glued rope around my doorway and made some bandana and burlap swags to dress up the windows.  This is the closest I could get to curtains!

The swags are red bandana, burlap, and a black and white dot bandana.  I used one of each and cut 2" strips and tied around twine.  Super easy and super cheap!

The view from the sink corner of my room.  Yes I know most of my walls are bare.  That's how I like it.  I don't want stuff on the walls until we learn it together.  I strongly believe that the walls of a classroom should reflect the learning of our, naturally, our classroom starts out basically as a blank slate.

View from my desk/small group area.

View from my classroom library.  I told ya it was gray!

View coming in the front door.

Cubbie shelves. Love how much color the bandana and burlap squares added.  I just folded them over on twine and hung on command hooks.  Super easy. Super colorful.  Lots of bang for my buck right there!  Also...I *heart* my Turnbow painted pot I kept! #tear

The shelves made the perfect display for my art piece I did in college, my framed picture of my first class and my Listen to the Musn'ts poem {grab it HERE}.

Stealing my creative former teammate's idea from last year and having a special seat for my ranch hand this year.  I'm planning to go back to highlighting my ranch hand more throughout the week like I did a few years back.  I'll be blogging more about that later.  My name is up there because I am always the first ranch hand! :)

With only 1 official bulletin board, I had to get creative.   Here's where I'll post our big idea for our well as our "I can board." {which I haven't finished yet...told ya...still frantically trying to finish for Monday!}

I was super excited to find a way to make my Ladybug cart skirt work from before!

Thanks to a $14 mirror from Walmart, my kids can actually look at themselves in the mirror when they wash their hands!

Since there is only one bulletin board in this classroom, I had to make one from scratch.  But I love how well it breaks up this gray blob of a wall! {Grab word wall cards HERE}

New room, new set of black shelves.  I just love these shelves.  Best organization tool ever in my classroom.  This year, I'll be storing browsing boxes on them for my kids as well!

And my classroom library, aka "Reading Corral."  I am SOOOOO happy with how this turned out.  This area was so so sad with just the corral fence and no furniture.  I needed something with some height and to add some visual interest over here.  I had the idea of making a barn of some sort, but couldn't quite figure out how to execute that in a reasonable way.  Until my *genius* hubby suggested corrugated metal.  Y'all, he's seriously the best.  I talked to him about the idea Sunday night around midnight, he drew out plans Monday, built it late Monday night and installed it Tuesday night.  For realz...he just awesome.  I love that he puts up with my crazy ideas!

Aren't these perfect?  A little toilet cleaner and steel wool to age these and they're beautiful.  Later, I may come back and glaze over them to age them a bit more, but that's on the back burner for now! #priorities #keepinitreal

My classroom library shrunk when I moved because I had to leave many of my books, but it ended up being just the right amount for this space. {Grab the tub labels HERE) Thanks, again, to Walmart for a cheap, cute shelf!

Out with the old floor pillows and in with new pillows from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  I kept the same bandana accent pillows.

Calendar board and dry erase board...

Love the combo of the wavy burlap ribbon and chevron ribbon.  Both from Hobby Lobby.  When you have to completely decorate a room in 3 days, there is no time to order just the perfect border.  So, Hobby Lobby bailed me out with wide ribbon that worked beautifully!

Here's my guided reading and small group area.  Love that I was able to combine my desk and small group table in the same area this year.  Also...the jury is still out on a desk chair.  I told ya it wasn't completely finished!

My desk area.
 Chalkboard is from Hobby Lobby and blank because my chalk markers died.  Others are in the mail and on the way....again...#keepinitreal

Calm down spot...

Cooper has fallen in love with Telly the Turtle this summer.  He is going to be devastated when he learns Telly has moved back in with Mommy's first graders....

Thank goodness I sharpened 30 pencils before the last day of school last year...that's one less thing on my to do list this year!

I love this bandana lamp I made a few years back.  And I can see it so much better in its new home on my desk.  Just a cheap lamp from Walmart with a little hot glue, rope and bandana fabric.  Super easy to do!
Writing table...

Above my cabinets...I had have the upper cabinet space to decorate this year.   But I still love how cozy it turned out!

I am so excited about my new adventure in a year round school and can't wait to get started with kids on Monday!
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