Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Unruly After Recess? Problem Solved!

I'm lucky that my students get a full hour for lunch and recess.  I firmly believe the kids need recess to run around and get their energy out.

Work hard, play hard!

I never bring them in to finish work or anything like that as I truly feel it is "their time." I need that time to recharge and they do, too.

That being said, getting them back in and refocused on work can be challenging. It's hard for them to turn it off and they have come in loud, joking, and a bit scattered. It doesn't help that my classroom is so small either.  We have a closet and it is stuffed...STUFFED with backpacks and their belongings.  There's little room to move in/around it and everyone seemed to get cranky after lunch trying to squish their way in/over to the area.  I tried everything: calling one row at a time, letting a few kids in room at a time, etc. This year, I found myself dreading the ten minutes after recess. No more!

NOTE: We practice Responsive Classroom where we are supposed to have a Quiet Time after lunch. It's supposed to be a time to refocus their energy after eating, playing and running around. I always felt like I was wasting time and eager to get the kids working.  Those ten minutes were stressful.  I felt like I was rushing to get their coats away, listening to complaints/cranky kids, etc.


Really.  My classroom management is strong.  I am organized.  Why was this ten minute time-frame such a mess?

I think I figured it out.  I needed to TEACH the kids how to be calm.  How to refocus. And I finally realized it needed to start BEFORE lunch!

Before lunch, I call kids (one row at a time) to get water bottles and backpacks to put on desk/chair.  We keep our coats in our backpacks to save space and help closet stay neater. So when recess is over, this is what I have the kids do:

1. REPACK coat, gloves, hat, scarf into backpack and sit down. They come back into the classroom without talking and into a room with soft music and lighting.  I use Spotify and play classical music.  Avoid songs with words because then the kids will sing and ruin the calm atmosphere/mood. For some reason, I found that Ode to Joy/Canon in D works well and the kids love the versions I have. They come in, take off coats and squish into backpack and sit and drink water/relax.  The key: no talking. I made up my own mix of Ode to Joy and Canon in D but also use this:

2. RELAX: drink water to rehydrate.  I used to call kids and tell them when to put water away.  I now let them pick when is best for them.  I am always surprised HOW MUCH they drink which tells me I wasn't letting them drink enough.  I swear I think drinking water calms them!

3. BREATHE! I lead the kids in some deep breathing exercises and they love it.  Many are joining in and several are doing their own "zen" activity.  All done very quietly.

4. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF: At this point, some kids are getting up WITH WATER BOTTLE AND BACKPACK to put away, get pencil, tissue, go to bathroom, write a compliment, etc.  It's usually a trickle of kids doing what they need/want to do.  Even having them be in charge of when they hang up backpack and put water bottle away seems to work better than when I told them to do it.

5. SET GOALS! At about 8 minutes in, I switch from leading breathing (although most kids continue to engage) and ask them to reflect on their morning.  We don't share out.  It's just to refocus them and reflect: What were you most proud of this morning? What activity did you enjoy?  Is their something that was difficult or frustrating for you? How did you persevere?  Then, I ask them to set a afternoon goal for math.  (That's the only subject we have left.)  I start off by naming MY GOAL for math.  It usually reflects back to yesterday's lesson.  For example: "My goal today is to explain the partner game better than I did yesterday.  What's your goal?" I give them a minute to think about it.  Then music goes off. Lights on. And I ask 3 kids to share goal with the class.  I am always amazed how their goal setting is so spot on for them.  And they are honest: "My goal is to be a better partner today because yesterday I didn't check to see if they jumped on the number line the right way."  Or "My Goal is to not ask to use the bathroom when I'm in a partner activity.  I'm going to try to wait for Math By Myself."

After the three kids share, I ask all kids to share out with partner across from them and then join me on the carpet.  Takes about 30 seconds.  Then, when all on carpet, we do one last 10 second deep breath activity together and then I say, "Hello, Mathematicians!" and they are ready and eager for math.

I'm not one to waste time during the day so to say I feel the ten minutes is worth it is an understatement.  I find that I actually SAVE time with the above schedule and make those ten minutes meaningful.

If you're not happy with the way your kids are coming in after recess, I hope some of my tips can help.  And if you have any tips for me, I'd love to hear them!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A Revision Finally Finished! (And a TpT Sale Treat!)

The summers usually provide me with lots of time to make new products for my classroom and TpT.  Last summer was not one of those summers.  Instead, I revisited my best-selling item, OPEN-ENDED MATH QUESTIONS.  I reorganized them into units!

Redownload if you've purchased!  I am still keeping the monthly packets available in the BUNDLED VERSION in case people rather have those. (You can redownload the, too as of today.)  I added over 125 new pages (lots of second grade!) and freshened up all the pages.  A labor of love that took many, many months!  (I split up Number Sense into First and Second Grade packets.  You can easily pull from both to help differentiate.

Haven't used Open-Ended questions?  See my earlier blog post (with old pages featured!) and decide if it's something you want to venture into.  I can't stress how much I love seeing my kids complete these pages. Much, much deeper thinking occurring in my room now!

NOTE: If you purchased all of my MONTHLY PACKETS, let me know and I'll send you the units.  So much easier to use.

If you plan on purchasing the above BUNDLE during the sale, email me after and I'll send you 3 Book-Its of your choice as a thank you.  Buying anything at all will get you one free Book-It if you mail me.  Just to say thanks for your continued support!

BTW: I have 3 FREE Book-Its in my store. I use one each week as part of my Tic-Tac-Toe reading program but they're so easy to leave for a substitute too!  Check out the freebies and grab one!  

What's up next?  Working on Open-Ended Math Questions for Third Grade!  Just finished the first unit!

Okay- I taped another Hallmark movie...off to watch it!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Freebie Alert! (Addition Bump!)

A bit random today but a random post is better than no post at all...don't you think?

Click above to grab.  Designed to be easy with numbers in order. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dot Day Fun

After starting out the year with making magical wishes using this fun Magic Play Clay activity,  I promised the kids it would be a magical year.  On Friday, I continued with the magic for International Dot Day!    (A global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration.)

I started off by reading the story The Dot by Peter Reynold's.  Then we watched the short video of the book.

I have a Book-It in my store so I used it as an opportunity to model the Pick-a- Prompt for them...no independent work like that yet. I also modeled retelling the story.

We then made words out of the letters in WATERCOLORS, too.  (We made 38 words and it was the perfect time to introduce plurals with that lovely "S" on the end of watercolorS!)

Next up: We colored in our "Dots".  Here is where the magic comes in!  I used the FREE coloring page from the Quiver App:

then used the App to magically turn them into 3-D!  (I took a screen shot of each one.)


I posted them on Twitter and then showed the kids.  They were thrilled to see the magic!  (I didn't tell them about the App or let them know why I was taking pics.)

So...did you participate in DOT DAY?  
Be Brave!  Make your mark today! 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Dollar Tree/Kohl's Find

I get tired of the same old birthday celebrations in my classroom so this year, I'm going to snap a picture with these Photo Booth Props and post on Twitter for the parents. Maybe the birthday child can pick a friend or two...still thinking!

I found them yesterday at Dollar Tree in the birthday aisle.  For just a buck each, a fabo assortment!  I think the kids will have some fun with them! (Nice quality!)

After the Dollar Tree, I ran into Kohls and grabbed Batman!  Wahoo!  Biscuit, Pete, and Pinkalicious were available too.  My kiddos LOVE to read to their stuffed animal friends but many of my animals lean toward the girls. So, thrilled to snag two Batmans.  Could more of these characters be far behind?  Superman? Spiderman?   A teacher can only hope!

I use them for Fluency Friends.  Grab this freebie here!  Hope you can use it!  Have a great day!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Update: MANUKA HONEY (Problem Solved!)

If you haven't read and filed this post away, please do it now.
Go ahead.
I'll wait.  It may just save your life one day.

A few minutes ago, I watched a segment on Good Morninig America about Manuka Honey which I talk about above.  Google GMA and MANUKA and you will see the article.  Happy to say, my Manuka purchases has been real honey BUT I saw the results of the TRADER JOE brand!  HALF THE PRICE!

A steal!

I quickly ordered 6 on Amazon for some family members.  As I ordered, I saw quantities go down, down, down and limits be reduced to 4 per person.  This was all in a matter of minutes.

So I suggest you check out Amazon (22 bucks for 8 ounces!) or get yourself to TRADER JOES ASAP.  When you read the article, you'll see why TJ will have to get approval next time.  All explained.

Bottom line:  Research it.  Watch the GMA video of the Drs. using it on infants.  Keep it.  USE IT!

That's my PSA for the day!

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

A Few Freebie Reminders...

Are you loading up your cart up for the TpT Sale?  I am!  Buying tomorrow!  Today, I concentrated on updating some products since I really can't make new ones yet. Here's one you should grab! Honestly, poems are a great way to kick off the year!  I start my poetry binders right away.

Poems are great for Daily 5, Binders, Fluency Reading, Buddy Practice...you name it!

I also have these freebies which I think you might like to have at the beginning on the year:

Have you seen my Book Its?  Grab these two freebies and check them out!  I love them for a few reasons.  The first being that sometimes you just want a FEW activities to support a book.  Not a full-blown unit.  Another reason I love it (and have been getting feedback about to!) is that each packet is TERRIFIC for leaving with a substitute!  Each packet provides three meaningful activities that could take at least an hour for a sub to cover in class:  After reading the book: Make words, Retell Story (oral or written) and my favorite, Pick-A-Prompt.  Seriously, my kids LOVE them and they are lifesavers!  Download the SANDWICH SHOP and HARRY THE DIRTY DOG and see for yourself.

If you haven't read The Sandwich Swap, please, please, please check it out of the library or watch on YouTube ASAP.  The perfect book to kick off the year with that reminds us all to be tolerant of others in all ways.

Here are two new ones I recently finished that I'm planning on using at the beginning of the year:

Here's a freebie that CAN be used for the calendar but I use in my counting centers.  Have fun with it!

Although this isn't free, I think you should check it out IF you are looking for a MONTHLY memory book.  We use this each month BUT then fill in several fun pages in June.  So, it's like a combination.  Why I love it: You can see monthly progress!  Seeing September vs. June blows me away...every year!
 Can see full preview in my store.

Gotta run!  Hope you see something that would be helpful to you!  Have a great day!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Come From Away (An AMAZING Play!)

Last Saturday, my family went to see

I'm at a loss of words to describe it!  But...I'll try!

Amazing, magical, spirited, refreshing, powerful, uplifting, joyous, emotional, effervescent, funny, heartwarming, thought-provoking, reaffirming....I could go on and on.

Come From Away had been on my radar since its opening in 2017.  Everyone I know who saw it has said it was one of the best- if not the best- play they had ever seen.  It's true!  If you are headed to NY or to any other city who is lucky enough to have this play, buy tickets NOW.  (Will open in London next year!)  The topic itself couldn't be anymore gut-wrenching and horrific (The September 11th Attacks) BUT this is UPLIFTING.  Truly!  Trust me on this!

Synopsis from Playbill:

Come From Away is based on the true story of when the isolated community of Gander, Newfoundland, played host to the world. What started as an average day in a small town turned in to an international sleep-over when 38 planes, carrying thousands of people from across the globe, were diverted to Gander’s air strip on September 11, 2001. Undaunted by culture clashes and language barriers, the people of Gander cheered the stranded travelers with music, an open bar and the recognition that we’re all part of a global family.

You will leave the theater a better person. With a sudden urge to be a better person. And an urge to visit Gander and meet the amazing wonderful people who live there.

Prefer the book? My daughter read it for her summer reading in high school a few years ago.  

From the back cover (on Amazon):
"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.

Roxanne and Clarke Loper were excited to be on their way home from a lengthy and exhausting trip to Kazakhstan, where they had adopted a daughter, when their plane suddenly changed course and they found themselves in Newfoundland. Hannah and Dennis O'Rourke, who had been on vacation in Ireland, were forced to receive updates by telephone on the search for their son Kevin, who was among the firefighters missing at the World Trade Center. George Vitale, a New York state trooper and head of the governor's security detail in New York City who was returning from a trip to Dublin, struggled to locate his sister Patty, who worked in the Twin Towers. A family of Russian immigrants, on their way to the Seattle area to begin a new life, dealt with the uncertainty of conditions in their future home.

The people of Gander were asked to aid and care for these distraught travelers, as well as for thousands more, and their response was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, a fellow law enforcement officer who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers staying at her school put together letters to family members all over the world, which she then faxed. Bonnie Harris, Vi Tucker, and Linda Humby, members of a local animal protection agency, crawled into the jets' cargo holds to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights. Hundreds of people put their names on a list to take passengers into their homes and give them a chance to get cleaned up and relax.

The Day the World Came to Town is a positively heartwarming account of the citizens of Gander and its surrounding communities and the unexpected guests who were welcomed with exemplary kindness.

NOTE: I got tickets for face value on Stub Hub but wanted to point out that they sell Standing Room Only tickets that stand right behind the first floor level seats (pretty close!). This play is only 90-minutes so it's totally doable for some people. Bottom line: If you get the chance to see this play, run! ENJOY!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Shark Lady: A Must Read

My husband (K-5 Media Specialist) always passes the best books on to my class.  Lucky me! I read Shark Lady, a biography of Eugenie Clark, a few days ago and my kids LOVED IT!  Honestly, I think it was one of my favorite books I shared with my class this year.

The story starts off with Eugenie visiting an aquarium....from that point on, Eugenie declared she wanted to be a zoologist despite everyone telling her to "Be a secretary!  Be a housewife!"  Eugenie is a strong role-model who is brave, tenacious, and bold!  She sets out to prove that sharks aren't the mindless killers people think they are and even is able to train sharks!  

It's well-written, flows effortlessly, and is a vibrant book on all fronts.  To me, it's on my MUST-READ list and should be on yours as well.  

Here's a trailer I found:

Click on pic if you would like to see this:

If you loved this book, another must-read book is...

What do they have in common?  They women were BOLD, BRAVE, STUBBORN and SMART (From Thank You, Sarah.)  Even though technically a Thanksgiving Book, please read it as soon as you discover it.  Truly a wonderful book on so many levels.  I do have a tiny packet that supports this book. (if needed.)

Happy reading! 

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Students Feel Like You Don't Listen To Them? Problem Solved!

In March of each year, we give a simple survey to our students.  Questions like, "My teacher makes learning fun" appear on the survey and the kids can choose a happy face (always), neutral face (sometimes) or a sad face for never.  Honestly, first graders are a pretty happy bunch so happy faces plaster the pages most of the time.

But not always.

One question that seems to have garnered mixed reviews in the past was, "My teacher listens to me."

My sweet student who appears by my side 1,000 times a day and asks, "Can I tell you something?" probably gave me one of the five/21 sad faces.  While I feel like I listen to her, she obviously felt otherwise!

I'm a talker who was always shushed for talking too much in school.  But I wanted to be heard.  Who doesn't?

But it's hard to listen to an entire class all the time, isn't it?  To make each child feel heard 100% of the time? Hopefully, this form I whipped up will help your students feel their voice is being heard just like it did with my class.  You can also use it for a "Worry Box" or some sort of "Reporting Box."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

More Georgia O'Keeffe Flowers: Perfect Parent Gift!

I seem to post these each year but I can't resist!  Aren't they beautiful?  I think it's the perfect Mother's Day gift.  Could be a lovely Father's Day gift as well!

I'm going to ask my two college-aged kids to make me one this week!  Seriously!  See the very last one?  He did that in less than two minutes.  Most took between 15-30 minutes.  So easy to do and the kids can really do 100% on own although I did trace the black lines this year to make it easier.

Wish I took step-by-step pics but I can at least tell you what I did.

1. Looked at these on Internet.  Thousands of them!
2. Gave out 10 x 10 white paper. 
3. Asked them to make the circle of flower somewhere on page.  Encourage them NOT to make in center but some did,
4. Showed them how to make petals go off the page...that's what you are supposed to do.  Some kids did, some didn't.
5. Talked about the design of the petals stating "Less is More" and showed them examples of such on ones I did quickly.
6. They got to work!  Took a few minutes to draw.
7. I went over drawings with black marker and erased any pencil marks that were left.  
8. Used water colors to paint.  I had them paint in groups of 3 at my desk area so I could monitor/help.  I gave them extra paper so they could test their colors out.  Some duller than expected.  I had several water color sets to choose from with different colors.  (Borrowed from art teacher.)
9. How did I help?  If child used too much water, I was there with a quick blot of a tissue so it didn't get that washed out spotty look.
10. Kids added a sweet message to back and then I had them laminated.

Honestly!  SO easy!  I did have 3 kids who didn't listen to the "less is more talk" and had so much decoration on them that they didn't resemble flowers.  They asked to redo theirs and I let them. 

NOTE: Each year when I do them, they kind of look like a hot mess after sketching. I'm always thinking, "Maybe I should make something else."  Once outlined and extra markings are erased (they try to erase but don't do a great job so I erase what they erased!) they look awesome!  It's not until the black outline that you can see the petals perfectly.  The kids always ask to draw hearts or smiley faces on them but I don't allow it.  Usually I saw your art work, your choice but for this, I wanted them to really look like flowers.  

If you make them, have fun!