Thursday, June 30, 2016

#anchorword RECHARGE

It's been far too long since my last post! Oh, blog how I've missed you.... well sort of... 

The end of the school year hit me like a ton of bricks this year. Everything seemed to be moving at break-neck speed and the moment one task was checked off of my list, five other pressing tasks magically appeared. The moment that school was out and I was officially on summer break, I sort of disappeared from the Internet and social media. The 'to-do' list of tasks continued at home for the first weeks of break and I absolutely didn't feel like I had rested or recharged my batteries - which I'll need when I head back to teach summer school in July!

It took me a little time, but I retreated from the 'to-do' list at home too and have finally settled into a holding pattern of doing as little 'real work' as possible, spending time with my family, reading, drinking iced coffee on the porch, going to the pool, visiting family, barbecuing on the grill.... It feels nice... but now I have less than a week before I'm back at summer school. If only time would slow down a little... 

How do you #recharge your batteries and relax? Seems like it shouldn't be so hard...

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Craft Store Score: Ten Frame Box

(affiliate links included for your convenience)

Last year, on one of my frequent strolls through the craft store, I found this plain little plastic box in the beading aisle (I don't even bead, so I'm not sure why I was even in this aisle in the first place!).

Ten Frame Box
Most people would be rather unimpressed with this little plastic craft supply storage, but I'm positive any teacher of young children will notice immediately why I was so enamored by it... It has 10 pace and is a real-life hands-on ten frame! Perfectly aligned with common core just as it is! (And I didn't have to make it myself, modify it or pay a ton of money for it at a teacher store!)

I promptly bought one of these magnificent little boxes and tested it out in in my classroom. My students absolutely loved counting little objects into the box and it worked perfectly for my students who struggled with fine motor challenges - the items stay in their spaces baring completely knocking the entire box off of the table!

Ten Box Counting
I did end up modifying the box just a tiny bit by using a little hot glue to affix the dividers securely in the box, but otherwise, it was perfect just as it is!

Initially, I kept the box in my circle time basket and had each of my preschoolers (this was a special education preschool classroom) choose a type of manipulative to count into the box to practice the number of the day. Each student took their turn while their peers practiced waiting, watching and listening to the students before him/her. The repetition and hands-on nature of this activity were perfect to reinforce counting, one-to-one correspondence, left-to-right object placement, order, organization, active looking and listening and more!

A colleague observed the little box in action and asked to borrow it to see if her students responded as well as mine had. I dutifully lent it to her, and never saw it again! Her students loved it just as much (maybe even more) than mine did. I bought another box and it too disappeared after lending it to another teacher in my building. I'm now on to my third or fourth box...

Recently, in my new classroom, I got brought the box out again and made some ten frame cards that fit almost perfectly under the box. The cards show the numeral and number word on the left and indicate which boxes should be filled to create the proper quantity.

I set it up as one of our Math works for March... I'll be changing out the manipulatives for Easter next week!

March Math Work

You can get a FREE set of ten frame cards HERE if you'd like to try them out in your classroom.

The actual box that I used can be found at Michaels Stores or online HERE

Amazon has similar pack of three Bead Boxes that are a little smaller in size (maybe easier to store if you need more than one of them).

Ten Frame Math Center

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Easter Math Center FREEBIE!

(Affiliate links included for your convenience.)

My students loved the self-checking St. Patrick's Day clip cards that I made a couple of weeks ago - so much that I made another set for Easter!

The set includes clip-cards for numbers 1-10 and have been carefully designed to be printed double-sided to create a self-checking center. 

I absolutely LOVE that my students can check their own work - and they love it too! I've put them up in my TpT store as a FREEBIE

Prep for this center is pretty easy - all you need to do is print (double-sided if you want them to be self-checking), laminate & cut. You'll need some kind of clips for students to mark the number - you could even use a dry erase marker or crayon if you wanted to! 

Skills: one-to-one correspondence, matching set of objects to numerals, counting to answer "how many?"

Aligned with Common Core standards: K.CC.A.1, K.CC.B.4, K.CC.B.5

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

#anchorwords - BALANCE

The concept of 'balance' in the life of a working mother feels pretty much impossible. Despite the effort that we put into seeking that idea of balance, we never seem to get there and it never feels balanced enough regardless of how hard we try. *sigh*

I'm absolutely positive that I'm not alone in feeling like true 'balance' is just about impossible to achieve.

I've recently come to the understanding that seeking balance on a daily basis probably isn't possible, but looking at the bigger picture - like by the week or month - a different type of balance might actually be possible. I've adjusted my expectations of what and how much I can do in any given day and have started focusing on finding balance during the week.

During a given week, I attempt to balance how much I work with how much time I'm spending with my family, I balance housework with being a vegetable on the couch, healthy food with junk food... you get the idea. I figure if there's some semblance of balance in these things, I must be doing OK - right?!

"Happiness is not a matter of intensity, but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony" Thomas Merton

I also consider 'balance' in my classroom - as a teacher focus on balancing direct-instruction with student-led activities, academic work with fun activities, high-energy with calming activities etc. We can't expect our students (or ourselves) to constantly engage in highly academic, teacher-led activities - that's just exhausting for everyone! Striving for balance in the classroom aims to maximize the potential for student learning and enrich their learning experience without making us teachers completely bananas!

How to you approach the idea of 'balance' in your life?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A Few of My Favorite Books: Gail Gibbons

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Author: Gail Gibbons 
I absolutely LOVE books by Gail Gibbons! She writes and illustrates amazing non-fiction picture books for young children on a wide variety of topics. I love these books so much that I have my very own personal collection of Gibbons’ books that I rarely let my students or my son touch.

you might be a teacher if... 
I especially enjoy her holiday books that simply explain the origin of the holiday and associated traditions. Some of her other books delve deeply into a single topic such as Bats, Recycling or Weather and provide a great deal of detailed, but child friendly information on the topic. Her books appeal to a wide age range from early childhood through early elementary school. I have found Gibbons books to be a rich supplement to early childhood and elementary school science and social studies activities and they align easily with the non-fiction literature common core standards (bonus!).

Here are a few of my favorite Gail Gibbons books for Spring:

From Seed to Plant

Monarch Butterfly


The Honey Makers



St. Patrick's Day