Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Summer Bucket List Linky Party!

SCHOOL'S OUT FOR SUMMER!!!!  Woohoo!  We had our last full day with the kids on Thursday and then an hour with them on Friday.  On Friday, I brought my kids donuts and juice and we had a big last day breakfast!  We also watched the iMovie I made for them with pictures from our year together.  The end of the year is always a bit emotional and saying goodbye to the the little ones that you spent an entire year with can be really hard.  Luckily, I was able to recover somewhat easily from those emotions when I realized I get the whole summer to rest, catch up on projects I've wanted to work on, be productive, and hopefully get a little tan along the way!  

On the last day of school, I sent home this letter with all my firsties (soon to be second graders!) to thank all of their parents for being supportive of their child's education.  It truly means so much to any teacher to have parents that are supportive and involved in their child's education and I was blessed this year to have parents who actively played a role in their first grader's academic life!

Now that the school year is over, I am excited to participate in my first ever linky party!  Miss Kindergarten is hosting a summer bucket list linky party, which is just perfect!

Let's get started!!  I've got a ridiculously busy summer ahead of me so first on the list is...

1.  Go to lots and lots of weddings!  I have a grand total of...wait for it...wait for it....TEN weddings to attend this summer!  What can I say?  I guess I'm at the age where people start tying the knot.  I'm super excited to celebrate and to see friends I don't get to see all the time but, needless to say, my bank account isn't quite as excited!

2.  I hope to work a lot more on my blog and TpT store!  I started my store before I started my blog and never had tons of time to really add more products and build up my store during the busy school year.  Hopefully I can use some time this summer to work more on my blog and on adding projects for the upcoming school year into my TpT store!

3.  Organize, Organize Organize!

I'm a pretty organized person and I like for everything to have a place.  Last year, I spent tons of time and money to make my classroom just how I wanted it color-wise (pictures to be posted at a later date). That being said, I still have little things I really want to re-vamp and I, of course, have found countless ideas on pinterest to help feed my obsessive organization problem!  Some of my many, many inspirations are pictured below!  The pictures link back to the original source for you to check out some amazing peeps' blogs!

 I'd like to put some pocket-type things on the back of a cabinet for my kids to grab graphic organizers from for "Read to Self" time.

My library bins and labels already match perfectly my blue, green, and pink classroom colors.  However, I'd love to organize my library so that each book is labeled with the levels and kids can easily find the book's home.  This way our classroom library won't look like it got hit by a tornado and then run over by a truck at the end of each week!  Wouldn't that be a beautiful thing!

How about these perfect storage bins for extra supplies?  I currently keep extra supplies in cabinets, but after lots of expectation setting I'm sure it would save a lot of time letting kids get their own glue sticks and erasers when they are all out!

Love these drawers with labels and most definitely will be doing something similar on my own desk!

4.  Am I the only person out there that becomes obsessed with looking up fitness-y things and healthy recipes only to not follow through even remotely with my "getting fit" expectations?!  This IS the summer!  I'm hoping to actually get motivated and STAY motivated to work out and eat healthy.  Well...at least on weekdays!

I found this awesome fitness website that I have been trying to follow lately.  She has amazing calendars for you to follow...even if you're like me and can't quite make it entirely through one of the days!

I'm sure I could think of only about a million other things I'd like to accomplish this summer but let's just stick to these four!  I'll blog again soon!  For all those fellow teachers who are out on summer break...enjoy!  And for all those who still have a little of time, HANG IN THERE!!!  Will blog again soon!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Classic "Run Out Of Time To Do Anything At The End of the Year" And A Little Rainforest Fun!

Hello, hello!

I think every teacher in the world can attest to the fact that it is nearly impossible to get any sort of academic work completely accomplished in the last week of school.  Between end of the year activities, assessments, and just all around madness it's so difficult!  But, nonetheless , I tried to capture a little bit of our learning to share!

At our school we call our social studies/science units "theme".  Our last theme of the year is rainforests and I always have the highest hopes for doing so many fun things and lots of rainforest-y learning and I always end up having zero time to do so.  The other day we had a little inkling of time to squeeze in some theme.  So I announced, "boys and girls today we are going to do theme," one of my kids says "Wait, Miss D'Andrea!  What's theme?"  I about laughed out loud.  Seriously? We've been doing theme all year!   It never ceases to make me laugh that some kiddos just don't grasp the routines until there's 3 days of school left and just in time to send them off to 2nd grade.  Haha!

To kick off our rainforest unit, I did an activity with my kiddos that I tried earlier in the year to kick off our weather theme.  When I saw how much the kids loved it and how much they rocked giving thoughtful ideas, I had to try it again!  

I covered all the tables in our classroom with butcher paper and tossed a couple cool rainforest pictures on each sheet.  I don't tell the kids what we are going to learn about...it's a secret and we have to be detectives! My class this year needs so much guidance to do activities in which we are up and walking around so after a TON (no seriously, a ton) of modeling we could get started!  They held markers behind their back and for about a minute we just walked around and silently looked at all the pictures.  After that, the kids got to walk around and stop at any pictures they wanted to write down anything they were thinking.  I tell them that they can write down things they wonder, questions, connections, comments, and so on.  We are all super excited to "get our brains warmed up and thinking."  Their job is to try to figure out as they are writing what our new theme is!  They LOVE this freedom and really create thoughtful responses to the pictures.


I've found that this activity really gets them thinking and helps them take their thoughts and put them into writing.  After we finished the activity, we gathered on the carpet and share our guesses about what our new theme is!  And guess we did!  The kids guesses ranged from wild animals to the jungle and nature, and hey, just for kicks, bugs!  Oh and in case you're wondering there were exactly zero pictures of bugs in our little picture walk activity so...that guess was intriguing.  But we finally discovered that our new theme was the rainforest  and then promptly ran out of time the remainder of the year to learn about them! 

I kid, I kid.  We did manage to squeeze in a couple rainforest layer activities but that's about it.  We watched the rainforest video on brainpopjr and had a discussion about the different parts of the rainforest.  We learned a cutesy song and dance about the rainforest layers which really cracked my kids up.  I have no idea where this song originally came from but regardless, I have uploaded my typed out version below for your use!  

After we learned our rainforest song, we made these perfect little flipbooks from Classroom Compulsion.  Click on the link to be taken to her TpT store!  This activity worked out perfectly!


This little guy even pulled out his rainforest layer flipbook later in the day when he finished his work early, plopped right down in the ever-comfortable and cozy spot on the cold tile next to the recycling bin (because why not?) and re-read over and over again.  They thought the layers were so interesting!

That's all for now folks!  I'm off to Milwaukee to go see my little sister graduate from college.  Woohoo!  Have a fantastic rest of the weekend!  Only four more days in my school year!!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

QR Code Math and Mother's Day Fun!

Hey Ya’ll! 

After spending my weekend at a bachelorette party in Nashville, I think a “ya’ll” is the only appropriate way to greet all of you who happen to stumble upon this little blog post.  My new blogging hobby got benched this past week because it has been crazy busy with the end of the school year RAPIDLY approaching!  I only have 9 days left with my first graders....what?!  WHERE has the time gone?

But don’t you worry…just because we only have 9 days left doesn’t mean we haven’t been working our little tails off getting ready for 2nd grade!  We’ve been working hard learning all about double-digit addition and subtraction without regrouping and making special gifts for Mother’s Day! 

After introducing my kids to double-digit addition/subtraction and reviewing the tens and ones place, I wanted to make a practice activity for them to work on in small-groups and in math stations.  Have you caught on to the QR code trend yet?  I sure have and my kids LOVE them!  I am extremely fortunate to work at an awesome school that provides our students with tons of technology to support learning.  I have 5 iPads in my classroom, and really wanted to try utilizing QR codes to motivate my kiddos with this math skill.  Which brings me to…DRUM ROLL….my first-ever freebie for you!  WOOHOO!!!  To use this freebie in your own classroom, all you have to do is download the QRReader app on your iPads/iPods and you’re ready to rock n’ roll!  The kids can practice solving the problems, scanning the code, and coloring the box  a color depending on if the code matches their answer or not.  If you're interested in downloading this file, you can click here OR just click on the picture below! :)

I also created an extension pack if you just LOVE the freebie as much as I do.  The pack includes one more double digit addition scan activity as well as 2 subtraction scan pages.  My kids have loved working on these in math stations and I'm just so sure yours will too!  If you're interested in taking a looksie at the entire pack you can click here or on the picture below!

The last thing I'm going to share is our Mother's Day projects this year.  In the past, I have had my kids paint their hands to make flowers into magnets.  Long story short, it turned into WAY too much work on my part and I was spending hours upon hours laminating, cutting, hot gluing, etc.  And, well, as much as I love spending my minimal free time hovered over a hot glue gun, this year I decided that I needed a totally new project and I think it turned out super cute!  We colored coffee filters with bright colored washable markers....

Then, we sprayed them with water (until the spray bottle broke, which resulted in my fantastic aide and I having to hold them under running water). We poked pipe cleaners through, twisted them, and put them into old coke bottles and...VOILA!  Are they adorable or what??  Love them!

(You may be wondering where I possibly managed to scrounge up 24 old-fashioned coke bottles.  My boyfriend's aunt is amazing and sends my class care packages and always gives me things she thinks I can use in my classroom.  In this case, she happened to have an old coke bottle machine and sent over all the extra bottles.  How perfect for our crafty little project!)

Welp, it's about time I hit the hay after a long, super fun weekend and with an even longer and super busy week coming up. Until next time, blog people!  Have a fantastic Monday!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Introduction Into the Blogging World!

Well, hello to all my hopeful and currently non-existant blogging friends!  

My name is Elyse D'Andrea and I am a third year, first grade teacher!  I graduated from Purdue University in 2010 (Go Boilers!) and was fortunate to obtain a teaching position my first year out of school.   I remember my first year teaching.  At the time, I was teaching 2nd grade and completely overwhelmed with the normal stresses that come with a first year.  I was spending hours upon hours working in my classroom (though I guess that hasn't changed much), endless amounts of time researching ideas and lesson plans and well, let's get real, tears of stress were shed on more than one occasion.  During one of my normal "it's way too late to be at school working when it's just you and the late night custodian" nights, I stumbled upon the blog of a fellow first year teacher who....completely blew my mind.  I know I'm not the only loyal follower of the teacher wife but SERIOUSLY how did this girl do it?  She was a first year teacher like me and had the time to blog about her unbelievable ideas?!  It was from there that I discovered some other remarkable teacher's blogs (The Inspired Apple, The First Grade Parade, Step Into 2nd Grade, etc...) and decided that this blogging world was something special.  

I found myself following tons of blogs daily and getting inspiration for my own classroom.  From there, I decided that blogging was something that I wanted to use to inspire others just like they had inspired me.  Though it wasn't as simple as I thought it would be and just figuring out how to get a blog template was completely mind-blowing, here I am!  I thought with teacher appreciation week rapidly approaching, it was the perfect time to share my appreciation for all my fellow teachers out there and hopefully initiate myself into this blogging community!  I can hardly believe that I only have 2.5 weeks of school left but I can't WAIT to start sharing my ideas and look forward to developing an addiction to blogging which, knowing myself, I most definitely will!

On a final note, I wanted to share this awesome blog post that I stumbled upon several days ago.  It is the perfect dedication to teachers everywhere and expresses so thoughtfully the appreciation that I and so many other people have for people in this profession.

Here it is:  http://jenhatmaker.com/blog/2013/04/30/dear-teachers-everywhere#.UYG-u05mu0Q.facebook

Ta Ta, blog world!  Until my next post! :)