October 3, 2017

Chalkboard Makeover

I have been SO VERY BUSY lately (hello testing, conferences, and report cards) but I am SO VERY EXCTIED about this that I just can't hold it in anymore!

So, I don't have whiteboards. I have two very large, very black chalkboards. They're magnetic (whooo) but other than that, they annoy me to no end. I don't like writing with chalk. It's messy! Chalk markers are EXPENSIVE and dry out so quickly... I feel like I've tried them all. And when I DO suck it up and write on the chalkboard, it's hard for kids to read. 

Then came the day a few months ago that my friend Emily from Munchkins, Inc. shared an image on her Instagram  showing how she covered her chalkboards with dry erase contact paper. I thought about it for a while... Hers looks so good that I just had to try it myself!! 

Here's the before...

... and here's the after!

I did the first half with the help of a friend, but did the second half on my own. I used a credit card to help me apply without leaving any bubbles!

It is white and so freshhh.
It's erases well, even after days.
I'm only using black Expos on it, though. I'm not risking any of those pretty colors!

I've already found myself writing on the board WAY MORE THAN I USED TO. I'm now able to make quick notes or illustrations for students to refer back to, and I'm able to create opportunities for the students to interact via the whiteboard! Life is good.

What do you think?!

I think I'll buy another roll to cover my other board!

You can find the roll of dry erase (whiteboard) contact paper here.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links comes at no extra cost to you, but I do get a small percentage back that I use for the upkeep of this blog and other School and the City communications.

August 21, 2017

The First Week of Third Grade

Third grade! Yay!

I survived the first two weeks of third grade and finally have the time/energy to tell you a little bit about it. I won't be going into total detail, so please leave a comment if you have a question!

The first read aloud for third grade was How to Be Cool in the Third Grade. It was great and opened up the opportunity for discussions about bullying, "being cool," and friendship. The kids loved it so much that they gave it a standing ovation when we finished it on Friday!

On the first day, we read The Crayon Box That Talked. Then students completed this (very challenging) team building activity that required them to build a tower of cups without touching them. Afterwards, we discussed kind and respectful language and made an anchor chart called "Meaningful Conversations." (See below.)

One of my favorite back to school books for teaching respect and responsibility for actions is called What If Everybody Did That? I find myself referring to the book ALL YEAR LONG by asking students that question in order to redirect their behavior.

After reading the book, students write on sticky notes how they might apply our classroom rules.

Two first week traditions that I continued were All About Me Four Corners and the Me & We Book.

I updated my four corners game over the summer so that it ended with this encouraging slide. Students read it with me and I read it to them because I wanted them to know - from day 1 - that they are so loved.

The Me & We Book is a tradition that I learned from my team during my first year of teaching. Students always love it! We turn the pages into a class book that they can read all year long.

We read The Important Book and talked about how our unique qualities make us important. This discussion ended with students writing autobiographical writing samples and gave them ideas for their Me & We Books. We also used The Important Book as our first mentor text for Jivey's mentor sentences.

On the first day that we switched for math classes, I introduced myself using my interactive math about me chart. Then, students made their own using a matching freebie by Create Teach Share called Figure Me Out. I allowed them to use sticky notes to make them look like mine, and I love how they look on my math board! They'll be perfect for parents to check out during Curriculum Night.

SPOTTED: Hashtag Headings
Later in the week, I introduced each of the Daily 5 centers. Practicing independent reading s=and building stamina is so important to start right away! The kids loved listening to "The Greatest" by Sia as they picked out books and found comfy reading spots.

Towards the end of the week, we set long term goals for the school year. (Look for a product coming soon to my TPT!) We talked about growth mindset by reading Giraffes Can't Dance and watching the Class Dojo "Big Ideas" series about the power of YET.

Other than those major activities, the rest of the time was spent teaching and practicing classroom procedures, organizing our supplies, and learning how my classroom runs. It was a great, smooth week.... but I am glad it's over! This group of students has figured out the routine quickly, which has made the transition to a new grade much easier for me.

Other books I read throughout the week:

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Chocolate Milk Por Favor

What If Everybody Did That?

The Juice Box Bully

The Important Book

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind

My Mouth is a Volcano 

*          *          *          *          *

What are your favorite activities for the first week of school? Let me know in a comment below!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links comes at no extra cost to you, but I do get a small percentage back that I use for the upkeep of this blog and other School and the City communications.

August 15, 2017

3rd Grade Read Alouds

I was moved to third grade this year, so I needed a fresh batch of read alouds.  After all, I have some former students in my class, and I didn't want to reread any chapter books to them!

After thinking back on books I loved as a kid and asking other teachers for recommendations, I purchased the following books for my classroom:

How to Be Cool in the Third Grade

Judy Moody is in a Mood

The One and Only Ivan

Because of Winn Dixie

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Witches

Those may last me through this semester, but I already have some great options lined up for the spring semester! The following books were recommended to me by other 3rd grade teachers that I totally trust. (A * denotes books I have read and completely approve of!)

How to Eat Fried Worms*

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory*

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy

Lemonade Wars

Lone Bean

The Wild Robot

Third Grade Angels

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing*

Did I leave any of your favorites off of my list?! Let me know in a comment below!


Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links comes at no extra cost to you, but I do get a small percentage back that I use for the upkeep of this blog and other School and the City communications.

August 3, 2017

Sneak Peek: Welcome to Third Grade!

I am completely exhausted but my heart is so happy. I survived Meet the Teacher today and I got to squeeze all of my sweet kids from last year!

As you may or may not know, I was moved (promoted?) to third grade, so I have a few of my students that were in my class last year. All of my other former students will be right nextdoor or across the hall, so I'll still get to see their sweet faces every day. Yay! They were a wonderful class and I miss them tons.

Anyways... on to the sneak peek...

When new students and parents first walked in, they saw my math about me chart, a photo area, and instructions on the board. (I also had fun music playing... #ambiance).

The YAY balloon is from the Target Dollar Spot, but I found a similar one on Amazon, found here.

Most students bring their supplies with them, so I have them sort them for me. My bins are labeled with my supply labels, free in my TPT store.

SPOTTED: pencil nametags, expectation posters, and team jobs

On tables, students found their nametags, important forms for parents, an envelope full of information to take home, and a quick gift.

I found the fun glasses at Target in the party section. You can read more about them here.

I printed on sticky notes using a free template that I found on TPT after reading some tutorials. It's easier than I thought it would be, and I love how it looked!

Here's the area where parents turned in the forms, signed up to volunteer, and viewed my classroom wish list.

Wish list tips: Make sure parents have something to take with them so they don't forget about it, and write your name on the back of it in case they have more than one child at your school.

I bought these acrylic display signs last summer, and they have proved so useful! I use them for sneak peek, curriculum night, and even during daily lessons to label centers or differentiated activities.

Last but not least, I set up my table supply caddies with the new supplies and I LOVE how gorgeous they look!

Whew! Now I just have to get ready for Monday.... First day of third grade, here I come!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links comes at no extra cost to you, but I do get a small percentage back that I use for the upkeep of this blog and other School and the City communications.

July 20, 2017

What To Do With All of Those Blank Books from Target

So you raided Bullseye's Playground and stocked up on some blank books for your classroom. Now what?

I love the blank books almost as much as my students do. I use them for almost every final draft writing project, and my students get so excited about "publishing" books. My second graders needed some help with organizing their books and making them neat, so I created some templates.

First I created some blank, lined templates with lines of various sizes. You can grab them here - free in my TPT store! With these templates, I usually pre-cut them for my students quickly with my paper cutter. It only takes a moment and cuts down on distractions.

Then I got excited and wanted to use blank books for ALL THE THINGS. Here are a few templates that I have created and used in my own classroom...

This poetry book can be used as a tool to teach your students about five different types of poetry: acrostic, shape, haiku, personification, and diamante. This product includes an example, a scaffolded prompt (You Try It!), and a blank space (Write Your Own) for each type of poem. 

One of my favorites is the VIP book. Use this book as a tool to have your students keep track of the historical figures that they learn about and have a keepsake to take home at the end of the year. Or, use it as your star student book. It's up to you!

When I introduce this book to my students, they are going to complete the first page about themselves.

Last, I made a few templates to help my students write informational texts about topics that fit with our content standards. You can click on each image to view the matching product description on TPT.



Have fun publishing!

July 15, 2017

Back to School with Oriental Trading

I got an exciting package recently - Oriental Trading!


that Oriental Trading has an entire educational line called Learn 365?

and that Oriental Trading's prices are really competitive, and cheaper than Amazon?

I was so excited to discover Learn 365 this summer, and had to make some purchases that I think my students and I will love.

First, I picked out some money dice. Counting and adding money is a big 2nd grade standard, and I'm always looking for more fun ways to keep my kids practicing. I thought these dice would be perfect for a math center - just roll, then add or subtract! Easy & engaging.

money dice: $4.49 on Oriental Trading

Next, I picked out a box of 10-sided Dice in Dice. Yes, they're expensive, but I've had my eye on them for a while and I think it's a worthwhile investment for my classroom. With these dice, the opportunities are endless. I see myself using them for quick addition and subtraction fact practice or to roll double-digit numbers. You know the kids will get so excited about the mini dice inside the big dice!

10-sided dice in dice: $36.99 on Oriental Trading

Okay, so I might have a thing for dice.... because I also ordered question dice! Asking and answering questions is another 2nd grade skill. I thought that these would be perfect for retelling a text, or for generating questions starting with specific question words.

question dice: $4.29 on Oriental Trading

I'm so glad that I saw these All About Me Posters on the website, because otherwise I would have forgotten to order a set for this year! I use these every year in my classroom. Last year, I got a great idea from my teammate: I sent them home as homework for the first week of school. Students brought them back, and I kept them in a file. Every two weeks, I would display one of the posters on a special spot on my bulletin board. That child was the line leader and teacher's helper for the time that his or her poster was displayed. I'm going to do that again this year!

all about me posters: $8.99 (set of 30) on Oriental Trading

image from Oriental Trading website

Lastly, I snagged some Glitter Puzzle Cubes. My school has a long dismissal, so the 2nd load and after school kids get bored and antsy. I let them play with Rubix Cubes and those metal puzzlers, and I thought these would be the perfect addition! They come in a set of 24, so you could use these for back to school gifts, Valentine's Day, treasure box... so many options.

glitter puzzle cubes: $13.99 for a set of 24 on Oriental Trading

I'm so excited to use all of the above in my classroom this year! What's on your shopping list?!

DISCLAIMER: Oriental Trading sent me the above products in exchange for an honest review. All images and opinions are my own.

July 9, 2017

This Year is Looking Wonderful!

Looking for an easy and fun back to school gift for students? I found these glasses in the Target party section near the tassels and plates. 

You can grab the tag (on Google Slides) here.


July 7, 2017

How to Make Pencil Nametags

Thank you SO VERY much for all of your compliments and kind words about my writing board.

I love it too - It's one of my favorite parts of my classroom for three reasons:

1. It's pretty so that makes me happy.

2. It's so easy to hang papers.

3. I'm going on year three without changing out the board. Can I get an AMEN?!

When I created this board, I hot glued pushpins to the back of clothespins. Then, I put hot glue on the back of the length of the clothespin before sticking it into and onto the board. They don't budge. They hold at least 30 papers throughout the year, no problemo. Yes, the hot glue will destroy the board when I try to pull them off... so I'm just not planning on doing that anytime soon! You know what they say... If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Many of you have been asking me how to make the pencil nametags. Keep reading:

1. Click here to download this free clipart from Melonheadz.

2. If you want to use the same font that I used, click here to download KG Blank Space from Kimberly Geswein. (Note: This free font is for personal use only.)

3. Place the pencil clipart in Powerpoint. My pencils have a height of 1.65". Then copy and paste until you have 5 pencils.

4. Add a text box and type in the first name. I used KG Blank Space Sketch, size 60. I also added a white glow behind the text to add some contrast so it is easier to read. (Highlight text... Format --> Effects --> Glow)

5. Copy and paste your text box into the other pencils, then change the names. For fast results, next copy and paste the entire slide so that you can just change the names on all of the other slides.

6. Print on cardstock, laminate, then cut. Ta da!

At the end of the year, I peel the pencils off of the clips and give them to the students to use as bookmarks. They love them!

Happy creating!