Saturday, August 1, 2015

Back to School Round Up!

Back to school is always such a crazy time.  There is so much to do and so little time. Over the years, I have blogged pretty extensively ALLL about Back to School fun.  This post is a throwback, linking all the posts and FREEBIES in one place! Click on each picture to read the post.

Before School Starts:

This is a pretty long post all about how I have set up my rooms in the past, as well as set up a friend's classroom.

I loved an organized classroom!  This post has tons of tips for organize the classroom BEFORE school starts!

This is actually my most recent post.  It has tons of tips (and freebies) for Sneak a Peek (some call it Registration) when students and parents meet the teacher for the first time!


First Day of School:

In this post, I shared my first day of second grade lesson plans.  It has links to tons of freebies and activities that I used!


Procedures, procedures, procedures! Check out this freebie for a list of must-teach procedures and suggested order to teach them!


The first day I always created an anchor chart of expectations for the most important procedures- hallway, bathroom, lunchroom, and recess!  It made things much easier and smoother!



We didn't do this the first day- more like the first week.  This is a freebie with a "Guess Who" theme!  It is perfect to put in the hall for Open House.  

Establishing Clear Communication from the Beginning:

I sent home a parent handbook for parents to read. Kids loved the idea that their parents had "homework!" LOL!  This post has a free, editable parent handbook for you!


Every Friday I sent home a folder with weekly papers and information to communicate with parents.  This post has an free, editable cover for your folders!


This was the parent for parents inside the Friday folder. I liked it because ONE sheet of paper was used for the nine weeks.  I did NOT create the form- I just adapted it from the first school I taught at.  You can download a free, editable copy in this post.

I don't know about you, but Back to School is the season for incoming papers!  It seems like I am buried under all the papers! LOL!  Keep track of all the papers kids return with this free, editable checklist!!!


I hope these posts help!  I hope 2015 is your best school year ever!!!

Are you looking for more Back to School ideas?  Make sure to check out all my back to school must haves!







Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sneak a Peek/ Registration Freebies!

I have worked at two different schools and both had a chance for families to come in before school started to meet the teacher and fill in paper work.  One school called it Registration and the other called it Sneak a Peek. For the sake of the clarity of this post, I will refer to it as Sneak a Peek. It is such a cute name! LOL!



I always worked like a dog to get my room ready for Sneak a Peek!  It was the last day of pre-planning and I slaved to get my room set up and pretty in time.

Here is how I set my room up!  I usually did it the SAME way every year, just to make it easier on myself.


I always created a rotation system.  My desks were always set up into table groups.  I put any papers on the  desk groups.  I told parents as they entered to simply rotate to every table (including my guided reading table) in the room and they would get everything! 

This first rotation was the most important and was the table group closest to the door.   I labeled the picture to make it easier to explain!
a.) I always put a bucket for parents to return forms to.  This made it easy to organize and sort papers. I had one on each set of tables to keep the papers organized.

b.) I kept a basket of pens on every table group so parents would always have something to write on.

c.) I typed up a quick set of directions for each table and printed in on cute paper.  This was no frills.  I also TAPED it down so it wouldn't' get lost in the shuffle of papers.

d.) This was my parent contact form. Parents filled out the info at the top.

e.) This was a form for the whole class to show how students went home. It might seem redundant, but I liked to have the whole class on one sheet for subs and such. I put it on a clipboard because it did not have to be returned to the bucket. Parnet just had to write on it!

f.) This was just a sign in sheet.  We had to turn these into the office. I also kept it on a clipboard because it wasn't put in the retur papers bucket.  I felt like the clipboard made parents less likely to try to move the paper! LOL!


This was  the second set of desks to create a table group. This one pretty much focused on transportation.

a.) I always put a bucket for parents to return forms to.  This made it easy to organize and sort papers. I had one on each set of tables to keep the papers organized.

b.) I kept a basket of pens on every table group so parents would always have something to write on.

c.) I typed up a quick set of directions for each table and printed in on cute paper.  This was no frills.

f.)  through d.) Were all transportation forms. At the schools I worked at kids had a million and one ways to go home.  ti was mind boggling.  And they ALWAYS changed.  The first day, was different from the first week, which was different from the remainder of the school year.  So we were overly cautious and asked for LOTS of documentation!


Here are two different forms for the first week of school- both are for the first week, but are just a different format.  There is no need to give parents both!  Just choose the one form that best first your classroom! LOL!  You can click on the pictures to download both forms FREE!

Another important form is this itty-bitty bus tag.  You can attach these to bookbags the first day or have students wear them on a string or nametag badge.


This is a filled out version if you want to use it and it works for your school. 


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I also have an editable version so you can change it to meet your needs!  Simply click on the pictures to download your FREE copies!


The third table had information about (c) volunteering and then (d) a get-to-know-my-child form. Parents could return the forms to the bucket, or could take them home since the get to know you form took a bit to fill out.


This last table just had a bunch of information from the school.  Parents didn't need to fill anything out- they just took it with them!

I also had a few other, not as important, areas set up around the room.


The kids loved this one! I put a basket of candy (a great attention getter!) around stars with items I would love donated in the classroom.

I typed up this quick list!  It sticks with the sea creatures theme from above!


I made the donation requests really simple to cut apart. Just click on the pictures above to download this freebie!


I also liked to give parents a little gift.  I just bought microwaveable popcorn and stuck a cute little Avery label on it that said, "Thanks for popping in!" You can download the labels here free!


On the board I made some homemade business cards with my information.  I just die-cut a cute shape, stuck on an Avery label with my contact info, and laminated them.  Then, I cut them out and affixed magnets to the back.  This way parents could keep my contact info on the fridge for easy access!  I  also ordered some magnetic business cards from Vista Print some years! This was much faster! LOL!


Next to the business cards, I put little post its with reminders.  The reminders had information about our Open House.  I just hand wrote the day and the time.  Then parents could grab a post it reminder on the way out the door.

 I made these little slips if you would rather use them.  My friend printed them back-to-back.  One side had the supply list and the other had Open House information.


I made these editable so you can type in your own supply list and Open House information!  Just click on the pictures to download this freebie!


Are you looking for parent forms for back to school?  I have all the forms listed in this post for only $2!!!

If you liked the Sea Creatures theme in all the freebies, I also have it in the matching parent forms!
Here is a preview of what is in all the parent form packs! Only the clip art and titles may be slightly different to match the themes!!



Monday, July 27, 2015

10 Tips for Starting Interactive Notebooks


I went out to dinner with another teacher the other night. You guys know how it is, I am sure!  We started chatting, and OF COURSE school popped into the conversation!

She mentioned that a friend was entering her FIRST year in the classroom and had bunches of questions. So, this blog post is really a result of that conversation (love ya, Tina!). She wanted to start interactive notebooks, but wasn't even sure how to get started!

Here are a few tips and thoughts to help you get started on your interactive notebooking journey!


The first problem many teachers run into right out of the gate!  Maybe this one is already decided for you, simply by the supplies your students do (or do not) bring in.  There are pros and cons to both spiral and compositions notebooks.

Spiral  Notebooks:
      Pros- super cheap during back to school sale, have larger page size
      Cons- pages tear out very easily, the spiral can easily become "unwound"

Composition Notebooks:
      Pros- sewn binding so pages don't tear out easily
      Cons- more expensive, actual page size is a tad smaller

Really, it is up to you and what works best for your classroom and age of children.

If you do choose composition notebooks, you can get around the smaller page size by simply reducing the copy size to 80-85% on your copier ;).


Storage pockets are so handy and easy to create!  Either create a pocket by stapling together construction paper or cutting off the top of a clasp envelope.  Then have students glue it onto the back or front cover. 

 If students are unable to finish an activity, but the pieces are already cut out, simply have students store the pieces in the pocket!


"Turn to the next page, please."

How many times have you said this, but somehow your sweet cherubs end up turning a chunk of pages and have skipped about 30 some odd pages? Yeah, that is real life.

One way to prevent this is by hot gluing a thin piece of ribbon to the back cover in the top left corner.  Students can use it as a bookmark to help them find the correct pages. At the very least it will help them remember where they left off!

Another trick is to actually teach kids how to turn pages. I teach my kids to pick up a page and gently rub the corner of the page to separate any that are stuck together. It does help some kiddos!



Model, model, model.  Interactive notebooking requires kids to have good listening  skills and the ability to follow directions because they are multi-step.

Make sure you model what best effort should look like in your classroom? What lines do students cut or fold on? Where and which side do they glue activities on? Do they color?  How much?  Is coloring done at home? Will the pages be numbered?  Will you keep a table of contents?


Many interactive notebook activities require a great deal of cutting and pasting. I highly suggest that they jot down their classroom number, initials, or SOMETHING on the back of each piece to identify it.  This way if their work is mixed in with a neighbor's work, dropped on the floor, or mysteriously  found in the trash can, it can be returned to the owner. 

Just to make it as speedy and efficient as possible, we used classroom numbers in my second grade room.  This is what kids wrote on the backs of their pieces.


I actually am a fan of letting kids get up to throw trash away.  Honestly, I feel kids sit too long as is and need time to stretch and move. So I rarely banned trips to the trash can unless they were wayyyyy too excessive. 

 However, there were times when we did cutting projects where I wold place a basket at each table groups just to control the chaos.   This would be great for interactive notebooks since many of the activities do require a great deal of cutting.

You can use just a Dollar Store basket, or even those super cute mini trash cans that can be found at the Dollar Store!


Ah, the great glue debate!

So, should you use stick glue or white bottle glue?  Well, there are pros and cons of both.

Stick glue is easy to use and much cleaner.  However, the glue can lose its stickiness and the papers can peel off.

Bottle glue is a hot mess, but sticks for a long time.

I am always afraid my kids will look like this:



I guess the choice s yours.  I did use glue sticks and just asked kids to reglue lose pieces. You could also teach an explicit mini lesson on how to glue with dots.

Some people swear by glue sponges, but I haven't done that.


I love that it can be easy differentiate  activities in the interactive math notebook.  In the picture above you can see color coded folders. Each folder corresponded to a math group.  All the work in the pockets looked the same, but was differentiated for each group. Since all the teacher prep required is copying, this was super easy!


This is a tip for assessing.  If you choose to grade notebooks, just snip the top corner of the pages you have checked over.  That way you don't have to thumb through alllll the pages to figure out which is next.

I got that fabulous tip from Mary, at Teaching with a Mountain View.  Isn't it fabulous??!?!?!



Interactive notebooks are an amazing resource!  Students can go back and check their learning as reference.  

Want to make the most of using your interactive math notebooks as a reference tool?



Click on the pictures above to get a FREEBIE pack of math tools for students to add to their notebooks! The freebie pack includes a number line, hundreds chart, place value chart, coin chart, clock and MORE!

You can glue them in at the beginning of the year to teach kids how to cut and glue, or glue them in as each concept is introduced!

Are you thinking about starting interactive notebooks? I have a monthly math interactive notebooks exactly correlated to the second grade standards.  Do you think it might be a good fit for your classroom? Here are a few hints on why they are a FABULOUS classroom learning tool!


Interactive notebooks are actually more than just cutting and pasting. It is a system for leanring and organizing thoughts and practice during lessons.  Jennifer from 4mulafun.com is an expert at this!  She created the image above to show how one side of the notebook is for teacher directed material and the other is guided practice.


My monthly interactive math notebook packs are perfect for the output side.  The notebooks cover a variety of skills for students to practice their learning. 



My monthly interactive math notebooks are a great "quick and dirty" check of students learning.   They target specific skills and are  perfect for a check in.


And last, but not least, my monthly interactive math notebooks are FUN!  Kids LOVE working on them and I have been told by more than one person that their students actually REQUEST them!  For real!


Want to check them out?

Until tomorrow only (until midnight) all my math interactive notebooks are 20% off for only $4.40!!


My math bundle of interactive notebooks are ALSO discounted 20%  Get Aug though December for only 17.60!


And just because....I discounted ALLL my interactive notebooks 20%, too!  Check out my ELA, spelling, science, and social studies interactive notebooks!

And one last thing...did you guys see this awesome video, Molly from Classroom Confections made?  It is PERFECT for introducing interactive notebooks with students and getting them excited!  Love it!!