Friday, September 25, 2015

Clutter Jail

Okay teachers. Does this look familiar? Please tell me that I am not the only one. Do your students make little collections of junk inside their desks? Does the junk sometimes even sneak out onto desktops and fall all over the classroom floor? Sigh.

I saw this brilliant parenting idea for a home "Clutter Jail" on and decided that it could be easily adapted for classroom use! The original plan calls for a laundry basket. Parents collect toys and other clutter left around the house and place the items in the laundry basket clutter jail. In order for the clutter to be released from jail, the child must perform household chores.

I found the perfect classroom clutter jail at Five Below. These safes come in a variety of colors and you can't beat the price! I snatched up a silver one.

Then I headed over to Joann Fabrics and picked up one sheet of black Duck Tape. The sheets are so easy to cut, peel, and stick. You can probably find these sheets at most craft stores.

I cut the black Duck Tape into thin strips and made stripes on the safe. Then I used some puffy paint to embellish with the words "Clutter Jail". Here it is in my classroom just waiting to be introduced on Monday.

I also made these cards to be used with my classroom clutter jail system. Classroom clutter will spend the night in jail and be released upon completion of assigned classroom chores from the Clutter Cop (AKA: me). :-)

I am sharing these cards with you in case you do in fact have a classroom clutter situation like I do. There are eight cards in all, so hopefully some of them will work for you and your classroom. Click on the image below for a link to this freebie.
Clutter Jail Cards for the Classroom

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Constitution Day and Preamble Stretch Book Video Tutorial!

Constitution Day 2015 is just around the corner on Thursday, September 17th! Have you carved out some time this week to teach your students about the United States Constitution?

I know. This is such a busy time of the year. I am currently in the middle of a geography unit with my third grade students, but geography will take a back seat to the Constitution this Thursday and Friday. My lessons will focus on the Preamble.

I love to use this School House Rock video about the Preamble to kick off my Constitution lessons. It has such a catchy tune, and it always sparks a great conversation about the meaning of the words in the Preamble. The video is 3 minutes long. We always watch it at least two times. :-)

Click image for link to the YouTube video

Next, I read aloud this book by David Catrow. It has a terrific foreword and a glossary of terms that comes in very handy for interpreting the complex language of the Constitution for children.

This Preamble Match FREEBIE by Hooty's Homeroom is the perfect supplement to the We the Kids book. I made laminated sets for partners to match together the words to the Preamble and the word meanings.
Click image for link to FREEBIE from Hooty's Homeroom

Finally, my students will make a stretch book about the Preamble. After the above activities, they will be ready to illustrate all of the parts to the Preamble. I will teach them how to fold and assemble this special keepsake book.

Stretch books are somewhat challenging for beginning of the year third graders, but they are definitely possible with good step-by-step directions and some extra assistance. This will be my third time making the Preamble Stretch Book with third graders. I am always willing to take on the challenge because the results are so fantastic. Fourth grade students and older can usually handle the folds with guidance. I made this video tutorial to teach you how to make a Preamble Stretch Book. :-)

Click image for Preamble Stretch Book tutorial

Here is a link to the Preamble Stretch Book in my store in case you are interested!

Have a terrific week everyone! I hope you will spread some patriotism in your part of the country. I was feeling patriotic at the nail salon this weekend. In case you didn't notice in the video, here is a still shot of my fingernails. :-) I think my students will enjoy looking at them this week!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

First Week Snapshots

There is something magical about the first week of school. Even after all of these years, the excitement still feels the same. The smell of new books. The fresh boxes of crayons. The shiny new glue sticks. I love it all. 

Click image for BLOOM Bulletin Board FREEBIE!

Setting the stage for a new school year is so much fun to me. Every single item in my classroom is carefully placed and has a very specific purpose. Structure is the name of the game, but it is all wrapped up in a colorful package. 

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it is all a reality. I really have a career as a teacher. I really manage this classroom. I really have the opportunity to shape lives and make an impact on my community and the world. Truly, it is an honor and a privilege to walk in these shoes. 

My new crop arrived with much gusto this year. Each one so unique and special in his or her own little way. Each one filled with the kind of spirit that comes with eight years of experience at life. Each one ready to teach me some kind of lesson. 

Click image for a link to FREEBIE by Doris Young

Well, the paper bag books are underway.

Click image for link to paper bag books

The "getting to know you" games have been played.

And the buckets are already starting to fill.

Click image for link to book by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer

Important lessons about fairness and equality have been taught. My students learned that "fair" is not always "equal" and that everyone gets what they need in my class, even if it is different. I'm going to need a lot of those blocks this school year.

Click image for a link to picture

We wrote name poems. Everyone learned about the meaning of their name. We shared our needs and fears and loves. We celebrated the things that make us individuals.

We also spent some time preparing for parent night. This paper is folded and the back has a quiz for parents to take as they wait for my parent night presentation to get started. I wonder how many parents will be able to resist the temptation to flip the quiz over while they make guesses about their child's favorites. They always get a good chuckle out of this parent night quiz.

Click image for link to FREEBIE by Rachel Lynette

One of my favorite team-building activities for the first week of school is this cooperative group craft. With very little direction (intentionally), I lay out the materials and show my students a sample. They must work together to problem solve and assemble the parts. I learn volumes about my students while observing their approach to this activity. I discover my leaders and my thinkers. I find out about learning styles and motor skills. I get a taste of personalities and cooperative abilities.

The finished "icosahedrons" also look fabulous hanging from the ceiling in my classroom. The Astrobrights paper sure does give my classroom an added pop of color! Kudos to you if you can pronounce the name of a polyhedron with 20 faces. :-)

I am a little bit sad to say goodbye to the first week of school. I enjoy the flexibility and freedom that comes with this first week. Now I am off to plan for the second week of school, when curriculum comes into play and freedom slowly dissipates.

I hope you are enjoying your Labor Day weekend! Whether you are farther into your school year or just getting ready to jump in next week, treat yourself to something special today. You deserve it. :-)

Thursday, September 3, 2015

September Pick 3 Pinterest Linky

Hello Friends! Where in the world did August go? These last few weeks have been filled with all the hustle and bustle of a new school year. Today is my fourth day back to school with students. I must admit that I am tired to the core. :-) I'm popping in briefly for the September Pick 3 Pinterest Linky Party hosted by Pawsitively Teaching and Inspired Owl's Corner. Stay tuned for another post this weekend with some highlights from my first week of school.

Click on image to view the original Pinterest link

Why didn't I ever think of this before?!? What a great solution to the age old dilemma of lack of counter space! My classroom is small, so I am constantly searching for ways to maximize the space. Command hooks with baskets seems so easy!

Click on image to view the original Pinterest link

This will be my first seasonal craft of the school year. I like to give my students opportunities to be creative. I always leave a basket of craft supplies out for students to work on when they finish early. This craft will include some painting and weaving~ two fine motor activities that third graders really enjoy. Be sure to click the link and check out Cassie Stephens's blog for photo directions and many other gorgeous student samples. These are going to look so beautiful hanging in the classroom!

Click on image to view the original Pinterest link

Isn't this such a cute idea? The sign is a free download here from Nicole Bunt. I will be picking up some mints this weekend for my parent orientation night that is just around the corner.

If you are looking for some more September inspiration, check out what others have picked for the month of September! The September Pick 3 Pinterest Linky is open through the end of the month. All are invited to link up below to join in the fun.