Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Stop the Pencil Madness!

Hi friends! Hope you are surviving the back to school madness. I'm stopping by tonight to share an easy tip that have saved my sanity over the last 2 years. I don't know about you but I HATE sharpening pencils. It seems like my students never had a pencil when they needed one or they broke them during a lesson. I never wanted to stop my lesson to sharpen pencils but sometimes it was necessary. I swear that there must have been a pencil eating monster in my classroom. I'm not sure where all the good pencils went.

So to save my sanity, I started a new pencil system. I found these Really Useful Boxes at Office Depot. (Affiliate link for the boxes on Amazon at the end of the post.)  I labeled the boxes with my students' numbers so I could reuse them each year.

On Monday, each student gets a box with 5 sharpened pencils. I also put a block eraser in there too. The student's responsibility is to keep up with all 5 pencils and the eraser, even if the pencils break. If the pencils fall in the floor, they have to pick them up so they have enough in their box. I do not provide any other pencils during the week. I feel like five is plenty. They could even break one a day and still be fine.

On Friday, I take up the boxes. If the student has all five pencils and the eraser, they get a small prize in their box for Monday. Prizes are usually either stickers, a small piece of candy, or little party favors. If less students have their five pencils on Friday, the prize gets bigger so all students will be motivated for the next week.
On Friday, I sharpen the broken pencils and their box is ready to go. Also, I do replace pencils that are beyond sharpening so each student has five pencils on Monday.

This system has entirely cut down on students not having a pencil or wanting me to constantly sharpen their pencils. If a student asks me to sharpen their pencils, I tell them that they should have 4 more in their box. I also keep my pencil sharpener hidden so the students have no idea that I have one in the classroom. (Keeps them from breaking it when I have a sub, which seems to always happen.)

If you are interested in the boxes, here's an affliliate link for them on Amazon. These boxes are really heavy plastic so they are going to last for a while.

Hope this quick and easy tip helps save your sanity this school year. What other tips would you like to see on my blog?

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Getting Ready for Back to School (FREEBIE)

Hi everyone! I head back to school next week (without kids, thankfully) so I've been thinking about getting myself organized. If you know me, this is kind of a joke because I am really not an organized person. But I think it's crucial to be organized for back to school.

One thing that I've been doing is getting some of my items printed and ready to hang in my classroom. My district has decided that we can no longer print in color so I'm just printing my color things at home. This year is going to call for lots of Astrobrights paper since I think color makes papers stand out to parents.

I went ahead and redid my arrival and dismissal procedure charts. These are probably my favorite thing in my room because my kiddos rely on them so much. Even in March, there are kiddos that just can't remember what to do in the morning or what they do after they get their backpack in the afternoon. It's always puzzled me why they can't remember but I decided to just solve the problem instead of letting it irritate me.

I've also been getting my teacher planner organized. I got the Happy Teacher planner from Create 365. I've been a fan of their regular Happy planner for a while. The teacher planner just makes me happy.

I've made these labels a freebie for you. Just cut them out and use double-sided tape to attach them. You can move them from week to week or print out multiple copies.
 Click here to download.

My school sends postcards to our kiddos to introduce ourselves to them before the first day. I found some great postcards on Erin Condren.  You can add your picture and a message to the back for free. Saves so much time!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Teaching Expectations in Your Classroom

It's almost time for heading back to school. (I go back next Monday!) 

Have you thought about the expectations that you want to teach in the classroom? I've been reading "Teaching with Poverty in Mind" by Eric Jensen and it's really challenged the way that I think about poor behaviors.

Amazon affiliate link

I've always thought that kids should know how to act before they come to my classroom and it's just not happening anymore. Instead of complaining about the lack of discipline at home, I need to refocus on how I can change the problem. 

So the biggest question is how do you teach your expectations? I believe in being consistent and timely. Here's a model that you can follow when teaching procedures.

So let's go over each step.
(1) Tell - Tell the kids what you expect of them. If it's no talking in the bathroom, let them know.
(2) Show - Model the expectation behavior.
(3) Practice - Have the kids practice the correct behavior. Practice often.
(4) Feedback - Give feedback on how the kids need and what they need to do better next time.
(5) Reteach as needed. After long breaks, you will need to reteach. When kids are acting up, reteach. 

If you are looking for some more help with setting those expectations, check out this website. I heard Amie Dean speak this summer and she was amazing. She has wonderful ideas for stopping those behaviors that interrupt your teaching and making your life easier.


How do you feel about teaching expectations? What questions do you have about teaching expectations?

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

May Carson-Dellosa Review

Hi friends. Today I'm stopping by to share some resources from Carson-Dellosa. First up is their Summer Bridge Activities book. I reviewed the book for students entering third grade.

This is a great resource if you have your own kiddos at home who need some summer review. This book pretty much covers everything. This book has 12 weeks worth of activities that can be completed in just 15 minutes a day. Definitely won't cramp your summer style! This book even includes flash cards, reward stickers, and a certificate of completion. I also liked that the book includes a recommended summer reading list for kiddos entering third grade. I know parents are often confused about books that their kids can read so this will really help. 

Here's a quick video detailing the Summer Bridge books.

The next book that I want to introduce to you is "Ready to Go: Infographics." I'm slightly obsessed with infographics. I love looking at them and learning fast facts.

This book will be a classroom favorite for sure. I love that the pages in the book are write-on and easy to wipe-off. It's like ready made learning centers and would be a great independent activity for students who finish their work early or need an extra challenge.

Watch this video for more information.

Last, I reviewed Spectrum Word Problems. I chose this book because my students always have trouble with word problems so I'm always been looking for anything that will help.

The skills for 2nd grade include:
  • Real world applications
  • Multi-step word problems
  • Adding, subtracting, reading, and writing numbers up to 100
  • Measuring lengths and plotting graphs
  • Time and money
  • Recognizing and drawing shapes
One of my favorite things that I just noticed on the website is the standard correlations. This is a small screenshot of the pages that cover certain standards within the book. This makes planning so much easier and you can tell that they've really thought this out.

Hope you enjoy seeing these products from Carson-Dellosa! Have a great day!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Neon Kwik Stixs Giveaway

The Pencil Grip, Inc. sent me a pack of neon Kwik Stix to try out. I loved the primary colored pack that I tried out last month but this pack was even better. I love bright colors and these were perfect! Look at these gorgeous colors.
So why use Kwik Stix? Here's a video showing them in use. So easy to use and not messy at all.

Here's a close up version of what they look like before painting. I had a hard time envisioning how these would work before I used them but no planning is really needed. Just open and paint! Perfect for those quick classroom projects.

Best of all, the Pencil Grip, Inc. is allowing me to choose a person to win a 6 pack primary set and a 6 pack neon set.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Top 10 End of School Ideas

(1) Use theme days. Kids love themes. I usually have the kids dress to match the theme. Some theme days that we have used are cowboy day, baseball day, and beach day. 

(2) Learn about the ocean. There is so much to do with the ocean and the kids love learning about ocean animals. I love using my "Dive on In" pack and focusing on a different animal each day.


(3) Keep them busy. I love the free coloring books from Krista. I have some free word searches in my TPT store.




(4) Remember your year. Have your kiddos complete a memory book to remember all the fun that they had over the year. I like to show them photos from earlier in the year with things that they might have forgotten. In second grade, they are constantly saying, "Today is the best day ever!" So the closest "best day ever" to the end of the year is the only thing that they seem to remember.



Check out my memory books for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades by clicking on the images above.

(5) Search for in-school field trips. We've had our local children's science museum come to do science lessons (and these might be free if you are a Title 1 school). We also had the zoo come to do a program. The kids love it and it gives you a break.

(6) Rotate classes. By this time of year, it can get hard to fill the day with fun activities and we all know how we need time away from some of our favorite students. So, get some of your team on board to rotate classes. In my team of five, I planned one activity to do five times with each class. It keeps the kiddos busy and keeps the planning time down. 

(7) Appreciate others. I love to have my kiddos appreciate their classmates. Usually, we write letters to each other and share. This year, I ran out of time so we did appreciation posters. We rotated around and wrote kind adjectives on each students' paper and then we glued photos from the year on the back.

(8) Use stations and hands-on-learning. Get the kiddos up and moving. They are bound to be active at the end of the year so active learning is crucial to maintaining your sanity. I also love using GoNoodle. On a recent rainy day with no specials, GoNoodle was the only way that I could stay sane.


I love using my Common Core review centers at the end of the year. My Summer Loving centers are pretty popular too.


(9) Raffle. It's a great time to get rid of things that you didn't use all year. I lay everything out and let the students choose what they want. This also provides some incentive for good behavior because I let the kids with the most DOJO points choose first.

(10) Clean up! I like to get the kids involved in helping me clean up the room. I let them sort the books in our classroom library to make sure where they need to be. We use shaving cream to clean the desks. It's fun for the kids and cleans the desks really well.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Win $50 to TPT: May Snap, Share, Win!

 Are you ready to win the easiest contest ever? All you have to do is share a photo of one of my products in action. It can be you prepping the product, the kids using the product, or something hanging on your wall. It can be anything that shows off your products (Just be sure to keep your kiddos' names faces away from the camera unless you have permission to share.)

Share your students signing my memory book product or you using my Dive on In pack to teach about the ocean. Maybe you have my anchor charts or phonics cards hanging on a wall. Be creative and enter often. (The pictures need to be different each time.) Be sure to tag me @swimmingintosecond and use the #maysnapsharewin.

You can enter once a day until midnight on May 31st. On June 1st, I'll pick a winner to win the $50 giftcard to TPT. Easy peasy! So snap and share away!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Earth Day Resource Roundup

First up, I have my Earth Day minilessons pack featuring three Earth day text-based minilessons. These lessons are so easy to use. The lesson plans are already done. All you have to do is print and teach.

Click on the picture to view on TPT.

I'm loving this new resource from Denise at Sunny Days in Second Grade. This is just genius! She has a freebie from the pack for Earth day. Check it out to get a taste of her pack.

Click on the image to view on TPT.

How about some math? This is a really fun word problem freebie from Kelley at Teacher Idea Factory.


Click on the image to view.
And here's another Earth day freebie from Kelley. So fun!

Click on the picture to view.

I love reading the blogs from Shannon at Technology Rocks, Seriously. She has always features lots of great tech resources for lots of different subjects.

Click on the picture to check out her post.'
My kiddos always love the art projects from Art with Jenny K. This Earth day one helps them practice teamwork and it always turns out really cute.
Click on the picture to view on TPT.
Hope you found something great to use for Earth day!