Monday, December 26, 2011

"Picture" this

Back at the beginning of the school year, I had a project funded through Donor's Choose. If you are unfamiliar, this is a website where teachers can go and select items and supplies that they can use in their classrooms. People can then go on the site and either search for a friend's or loved one's project or select a project at random to donate to (yes, I just ended that sentence with a preposition. So kill me). It is GREAT! I have gotten some great stuff through here, things that either I wouldn't or couldn't afford to buy myself.

This project included some dry erase boards, markers, writing paper and the best part...picture dictionaries! My kids LOVE them and I love how excited they are to look through them. They're discovering new words, how words are spelled, expanding their vocabulary, etc. The only down side is that I only ordered 6, thinking the kids could share them. Not so much. Now we have to take turns, which in Kindergarten can be problematic. I'm thinking of creating a "dictionary center" to incorporate into my language centers. Any ideas on how to make a center out of these??

Check out how cute they are:

(ok, I have to admit these pictures are staged. Part of the whole Donors Choose thing is that as the recipient, I have to submit photos of the supplies being used and make a thank-you package. I had forgotten about the photos until the last day of school, so had to quickly "pose" some kids with the dictionaries. But you get the idea! They really do look through these like they are the most exciting books ever!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011


I know, I know, I have been missing lately. I'm sure all of my readers in Saudi Arabia and Russia have really been missing me (p.s. how cool is it that I have readers over there? who are you? I would love to know who you are and how you found my blog!)

Things have been say the least. School is crazy busy, I've been prepping and stressing for my first formal observation (that basically determines if I still have a job), I'm feeling a little overcommitted with church and Junior League and to top it all off I have a new boyfriend. yay! So to say that I've been busy is an understatement.

Two weeks ago I was sick- nothing horrible, just really dizzy and had some sinus congestion and pressure. Enter Prince Charming to come and make me some chicken noodle soup and make it all better. Except that then I had about 158390 assessments to administer to my kids- individually!- and presents to buy for the custodians since I'm chair of our Sunshine Committee, plus the food schedule to create for our 3rd annual potluck, plus getting all 7 kindergarten classes organized for the school-wide sing along, plus tutoring after school and babysitting/housesitting for 3 days and leading a craft at my church's family craft night. And now I'm sick again.

Now that school is out I have time to slow down and reflect on things. Sort of take the time to reorganize and prioritize my life. I need to start taking better care of myself. I need to start working out more and eating healthy (doesn't everyone say that this time of year?). Most importantly, I need to learn how to say no and how to ask for help when I need it. Let's face it, teachers are not the best at asking for help. At least in my opinion. We're teachers because we like the control we have over our classroom and our students. And we don't like giving up that control.

But this Friday, I had to do just that- give up the control. I was up all night Thursday night with the stomach flu and knew at about 1:32am that there was no way I was going to make it to school for our last half day. So I put in for a sub. I did wake up at 6:35 and called my team teacher and told her I wasn't going to be there, but that's all I did.

I didn't stress about not having plans, I knew the sub would be fine. I didn't stress about not being there for our faculty Christmas potluck, I knew my committee members would handle it. I didn't stress about not giving my Secret Santa her last gift, she'll get it in the new year. And guess what? The world didn't stop! Everything was fine. So maybe getting sick was my body's way of saying, slow down Clare. You'll be fine.

I do want to continue this blog because I love it and I love sharing my love of Kindergarten with you (that's a lot of love). But just know that if you don't see or hear from me, it's because I'm trying to focus on what's really important. I challenge you to do the same.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just a quick picture of what I did yesterday with my kids. I'm thankful for the sweet 16 kindergarten I have! (even if they drive me crazy sometimes)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Counting on with magnets

A while ago, I found this on Pinterest:

They are great! I immediately printed them out and they have been a huge hit in the magnet center! I have a few sets of magnetic numbers (picked up from my local dollar store) that the kids use. It is really helping them with their counting. A huge part of math this year is being able to "count on". As in, start at 6 and count on- 6, 7, 8... My kids are doing so well with it! Here it is in practice:

I have some cookie sheets that I use in my magnet center. That way, the magnets stick AND they are contained in one spot. So much easier to clean up! If you click on the first image, it should take you to my Pinterest page and you can get your own copies. I recommend printing them on cardstock and laminating them, that way they can be used over and over again :)

Something different

I'm a big fan of doing things differently in my classroom. Anything that can get my kids moving (they have SO much energy!) but still learning, I am a fan of. So when one of my friends gave me a set of sidewalk chalk, I knew we had to use it at school.

We just went outside and I told them to practice writing letters, numbers, whatever they wanted. It was so much fun! (although very messy, sorry parents)
You can see in the bottom that some were doing a great job with forming numbers. Even for the kids that haven't gotten there yet, drawing with sidewalk chalk offers a lot of resistance that is great for developing all those muscles in our hands/forearms that we use while writing. If you haven't ever done this with your kids, I recommend it! My kids loved it and didn't even realize they were learning new things. They just thought I was a cool teacher because I let them be outside when it wasn't recess :)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

DIBELS practice

In my school district, all of the students are assessed using DIBELs. One of the biggest (and most important) test for Kindergarteners is the Letter Naming Fluency test (LNF for short- we're big on abbreviations in education). I'm not normally a huge fan of "teaching to the test"...HOWEVER, now part of my teacher evaluation is how my kids score on this test.

That being said, I decided we needed some practice. Less for the actual content and more for just getting my kids used to taking a "test." That is something they'll have to do for the next 12 years, so we might as well start now, right?

Here's what I came up with:
All they have to do is see how many letters they can correctly name in 1 minute. I figure I'll test the kids and then send the paper home, so parents can see how their child does and (hopefully) help them get better at home. If you want a copy, you can get it HERE.

Reward Store

At my school, we have a positive behavior system called Bear Bucks. When a kid does something good, they get a buck. There are a few parties during the year where they can go if they've earned enough money. But I needed something to serve as an incentive between parties. This, my Bear Buck store!

I got a shoe organizer from Walmart and put it on the back door to my closet. It's filled with little trinkets and various things the kids can "buy". Hopefully it will help them start working towards earning those bucks!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


This is my first post on my new iPhone! So far I'm loving it.


So many Kindergarten teachers get to to do super cute themes all year long. Because my school is a themed magnet school, we're somewhat limited by what we can do. I have 4 themes that I have to follow- one for each quarter. They are very time consuming (and very fun!) but don't leave a lot of time for outside themes.

However, this year I'm determined to squeeze a mini Thanksgiving unit in there. I was searching on Pinterest and found some super cute activities:

I thought they could write (or me write for them) "I am thankful for _____" instead of the poem. That way this keepsake has their own writing on it.

We did the letter T a few weeks ago, but this one is just too cute! They could add the writing "T is for turkey." Maybe as a center activity or something?

I'm also planning on doing a writing lesson on writing the steps to something. Of course we'll have to do the popular "How to cook a turkey" writing activity. Once these are finished, I'll be sure to post pictures of how they turn out!

So thankful for my 16 wonderful, energetic, enthusiastic, loud, sweet, loving Kindergarteners :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pumpkin Patch!

The week before Halloween, my class (and all the K classes at my school) made the traditional fall trip to our local pumpkin patch. We are learning about how plants, seasons, the weather, etc. move in cycles so this was perfect. This farm does a great job of really teaching the kids how the pumpkins start as seeds, then grow and then the seeds inside grow more pumpkins. They even learned why bees are important! Such a great trip. Can't wait for next year.

Here we all are. It's impossible to get 17 kids looking in the same direction, but this is the best shot. Check out little miss poser on the right :)

In the corn maze. They had places to do crayon rubbings of animal prints to see which animal had "stolen the pie". We never did figure out who done it, but I was just glad nobody got lost!!

In the pumpkin field, picking out their pumpkins.

And back in the classroom. It's hard to tell, but I'm weighing our class pumpkin. We also measured it to see how tall it was (7 inches) and made a "can, have, are" chart about pumpkins (sorry, no pic of that. but it turned out cute!)

And finally, carving the pumpkin and scooping the guts out! We started counting the seeds, but I cut them off at 100. Great moment to introduce the concept "more than." Our pumpkin has MORE THAN 100 seeds! It most likely 300-400.

I took the seeds home, washed them off and roasted them in the oven. The next day we did a little taste test. We made a graph and and analyzed our data. Turns out 12 kids like pumpkin seeds, 4 do not (1 was absent that day).

All in all, a great trip/series of lessons. There are so many fun things to do with pumpkins. Can't wait until next year!!

p.s. since I was roasting the pumpkin seeds, I figured I'd roast the pumpkin as well. Smash in the food processor for a while = homemade pumpkin puree! yum

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

stamp giveaway!

Hey everyone! Hadar over at Miss Kindergarten is hosting a giveaway for a free personalized stamp from Polka Dot Parlor. Check it out!

S is for...

SNAKE!!!How cute is this? A few weeks ago we studied the letter S and this was our "fun Friday" activity. (We did "M is for macaroni before this.) Look at the detail in this picture. The snake is eating a rat. Very realistic for a 5 year old.

Here's a group shot:
So proud of my sweet kinders! Can't wait to do more cute projects for our Letter of the Week.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My little scientists

Have you been wondering where I went? Well, let's the past few weeks, I have had to enter 11 grades per child per subject (11 grades x 6 subjects x 17 kids!) into a new computer grading system, I've been to Providence, RI to visit my sister and I've been to Jamaica for a much needed vacation!

But before all of that, I took my kids on a "learning expedition" to our local nature center. It is a great place that really does a fantastic job of introducing kids to nature. It's especially great for my little inner-city babies. They loved it!!

Here they are examining the frog pond:
I of course spent the entire time saying "don't lean so far! move back! not so close!" I was just convinced that someone would fall in. Luckily, we all stayed dry and even spotted a few frogs! We took a class picture in front of a huge sycamore tree that we'll visit again soon to see how it has changed with the season.

I am loving getting out and about and seeing what little scientists my kids are becoming! They are really exploring and discovering our world and I'm just so glad I can be a part of that.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

What's in my bag?

I saw a cute post recently on another teacher blog about teacher bags. I can't remember where the post was from, but I agree completely with the statement that teachers love tote bags. I have an entire closet full of tote bags. Seriously, I have a problem. But, I use all of them and they all have a purpose.

I have used several different tote bags in my short teaching career. When I was an assistant, I used my backpack because I was also in grad school at the time. Then while I was student teaching, I used a medium long-handeled tote from L.L. Bean. It was great, but a little small for what I needed.

When I started my real job, my realtor gave me a super cute tote bag as a "happy new house and happy new job" present. It is bright green and pink (my favorite colors!) but the sides are soft so it didn't hold its shape. This year I've been using a variety of old totes...until now

Enter, this beauty:
A large, long-handeled tote from L.L. Bean. A tote devoted solely to teaching. Thus, the "Ms. H" monogram. I am in love! This tote is awesome. It stays open and upright, the straps go over my shoulders for easy carrying, and it holds everything I need. What's in it? Well, since you asked...

the "orange basket" (turn in paper place) from my classroom, full of papers to be graded. The pink box holds my Mr. Sketch markers, great for grading papers because the kids love the smells!

A package of sentence strips. I've been using sentence strips a lot more this year, but usually only have time to make them when I'm at home. So I figured I needed to just keep a pack at home so when the mood strikes me I'm ready.

My lunch container (this day it was leftovers) and my water bottle. I go through about 2-3 bottlefulls a day.

Random laminated things that need to be cut out. These have been in my bag since the beginning of the year. I just hate cutting stuff out! But they're here if I'm ever in the mood.

A small notebook (holds my to-do lists), an umbrella and my personal clutch. All important things to have.

The only reason there isn't any more random crap in my bag is because it's new. Check back with me in a few weeks (heck, a few days) and there's sure to be some post-its, a few check stubs, a ruler, some pens, a hair clip and even more random things.

So there you have it! The secrets of my teacher bag revealed. What's in your bag?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

the A to Z's of Clare

I found this meme from a blog I follow, Wardrobe Oxygen. Since it's Sunday morning and I'm feeling lazy, I thought I'd share it with you. Here's all you needed to know about me, from A to Z:

A: Age: 26

B. Bed size: Full. It’s the bed I (and by “I” I mean my parents, lol) bought for my senior year in college when I lived off campus. Seriously considering upgrading to a queen, just waiting to win the lottery.

C. Chore that you hate: Unloading the dishwasher. Even though it takes just a few minutes, I always put it off.

D. Dogs: Biscuit, my adorable 2 year old miniature poodle. I love him!


E. Essential start to your day: a hot shower. I’m not awake until I shower.

F. Favorite color: pink

G. Gold or Silver: Silver. I don’t think gold looks good on me for some reason.

H. Height: 5’3.5” after my surgery I was 5’4” but I think I’ve settled a half an inch

I. Instruments you play: I took piano lessons for a little while when I was 9-10 years old. But it’s hard to play anything when you can’t really read music! My siblings got all the musical talent.

J. Job title: Kindergarten teacher extraordinaire

K. Kids: currently I have 17 (my students, lol)

L. Live: in my hometown

M. Mother’s name: Mom, Mama or Mommy. Usually Mama

N. Nicknames: Clare-Bear by most of my friends, Clara-belle by my parents, the Belle by my cousin, and my sister calls me Sister (I call her Sister too)

O. Overnight hospital stays: being born, brain surgery when I was 5, spinal fusion when I was 26

P. Pet peeves: cracking knuckles, people who aren’t on time, people who drive with their turn signal on

Q. Quote from a movie: I can pretty much quote Legally Blonde in its entirety, but my favorite is “whoever said orange is the new pink, is seriously disturbed”

R. Right or left handed: Right.


S. Siblings: Sister. She’s three years younger and probably my best friend. Although we still fight like we’re teenagers a lot of the time. Going to visit her in a few weeks and I can’t wait! (she’s a super genius and currently at Brown University getting her 2nd master’s degree) And my brother is 2 years old and my hero because he beat Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and is now in law school.

T: Time you wake up: my alarm is set for 6:02, but in reality that’s 5:53 because my bedroom clock is 9 minutes fast. It’s odd but works for me.

U. Underwear: I’m a VS girl

V. Vegetable you hate: raw tomatoes- I like them cooked, like tomato sauce and tomato soup, like ketchup but if you give me a sandwich, I will pick them off.

W. What makes you run late: Facebook and Pinterest

X. X-Rays you’ve had: Oh lord, I can’t even count how many x-rays I’ve had. I’ve had scoliosis since I was 5, so that’s 21 years of x-rays several times a year. Add that to several for my right ankle (sprained 6 times, never broken) and a few wrist/hand x-rays. I’m surprised I’m not glowing right now.

Y. Yummy food that you make: Where to start? Last night I made apple dumplings and chocolate-chip oreo brownies. Both got rave reviews. I also make a killer macaroni and cheese.

Z: Zoo animal: Flamingo. Because they’re pink!


my students at the zoo this past spring, standing like flamingos

So there you go! If you want to fill it out and share, please post a comment. I'd love to learn more about you!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I wish the title of this post meant that I'm back in marathon training. Not quite. I have started running, but VERY slowly and for short distances only. I was getting a little down on myself about it, but then had to remember that I had 2 metal rods and 22 screws implanted in my back only 4 months ago.! (p.s, I've been discharged from PT. woo hoo!!)

No, the title of this post refers to training my children. Not potty training (thank goodness!), classroom training. I had forgotten this year how hard it is to start a new school year. A new year full of kids who don't know my way of doing things. We have to start at the beginning...the very beginning.

I wanted to blog about this mainly to remind myself when I forget it in 45 weeks (that's how long until the start of school next year, fyi). And to remind myself that it does get better! My kids are slowly but surely getting the hang of things and learning how to do things my way. Because in my classroom, it's my way or the hallway :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

math journals

This week I introduced math journals to my kids. These are just some spiral bound notebooks I got at Staples for about $0.12 a piece. The kids got to pick what color they wanted and then decorated them with stickers! They were so excited. Here they are decorating their journals:

We have "worked" in our math journals twice now and both times it has been great. The kids love it because it's pretty much the one time I let them lie down on the carpet. They get 2 crayons to use (so I can distinguish between problems) and have shown some great creativity! So far it's just been "draw me 3 balloons, write the number 4, etc." type of problems. If you have any suggestions for using math journals in Kindergarten, I would love to hear them!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kitchen update!

A few weeks ago, I blogged about making curtains for my Home Living center in my classroom. Well, I finished them and was so excited to hang them up! They turned out so cute. I inherited some dress up clothes, so I hot-glued some clips to the wall and added them to the center.

What do you think?

The kids keep asking me when Home Living will be "open." But then one of them reminds the others that they haven't learned the rules yet. Once we go over the rules, procedures, where things go, etc. the kids will get to visit this center. Can't wait to see what they make me! (that's their favorite thing- making me food)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

My class

I just uploaded a bunch of pictures from my camera, including this one from yesterday. We were about to go outside for recess when I realized I had all 17 kids present AND I had my camera with me. Perfect photo op! I took individual pictures that I'll use throughout the year for various things, then of course had to get a group shot.

Here's our "crazy" picture:
For privacy purposes, I had to blur out their faces, but they are still pretty cute! This type of picture definitely shows their little personalities. Check out little man in the red shirt in the middle :)

Posting Standards

Have I mentioned already that I'm having to submit super detailed lesson plans? Ok, I know I have and I know I probably sound like I'm complaining about them. I'm sure in a few weeks, they won't seem so tedious and I'll get the hang of it.

One of the parts of this new lesson plan template requires me to list the standards that I am covering. As a way to remind myself what we're working on, as well as inform anyone who walks into the room what we're doing, I decided to devote an area of my whiteboard to the standards.

I decided to just post the English/Language Arts and Math standards, since they make up the "meat" of our day. Not that science and social studies aren't important, but at the Kindergarten level they are more about the process than the content. However, there is a little bit of extra room to the right (where the class rules are posted, those can be moved) so if I decide to add them I can.

So far, I really like it. I have the Common Core Standards we are addressing that week listed, as well as just a short list that helps me focus on what we're doing. I already feel like it's making me a better teacher. Time will tell!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Roll and Write

Whew, I am exhausted! I have to submit lesson plans on Friday for the week ahead (which means I can't wait until Sunday night to write them) and they are way more detailed that I'm used to. I know it's making me a better teacher, I just have to keep reminding myself.

I wrote my math plans for next week this evening, and came up with this cute game. I can't take total credit because I got the idea from my district pacing guides, but I did make the sheet that goes with the game. You can find a copy HERE. My kids love dice so I know they'll like playing this "game". I am thinking I will pair them up, that way they'll also practice taking turns. Maybe even turn it into a Bingo type game where the person who fills up the sheet first wins a prize? We'll see.
p.s. I got to use some of my fun new fonts! The words are "Smiley Monster" and the numbers are "MTF Cutie Patootie" (I had to switch because the Smiley Monster 4 is a pointy 4 instead of an open 4) Both are free online, just do a Google search.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I'm still here

I was talking to my friend Hillary on the phone tonight, and she was like "I keep waiting for a blog update but there's nothing!" To put it simply, I do not have any time. I am literally doing well just trying to keep my head above water. The start to the school year has been crazy: 20 kids (in a room designed for 15), new administrator, new evaluation process, 3 new team members plus that little part about having major back surgery only 3.5 months ago.

So yeah, I'm still here. My kids are doing much better but we have a LONG way to go. I promise I'll update soon with some pictures. And it's my favorite week of the year, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" week- so you know I'll have pictures of that.

For now, I'm off to bake some cookies for Open House tomorrow night!

Monday, August 22, 2011

What would your buddy do?

Well, the first full week of school is behind me. And let me tell you, I was EXHAUSTED!! I have a room full of 20, very energetic, very talkative kiddos. They are sweet and hilarious, but it is very hard trying to rangle them all together and get them to learn the school rules. Finally by Wednesday, I had to get creative. I went to one of the 5th grade teachers, and asked if her class would want to be "buddies" with mine. She agreed, so her kids came downstairs and walked my kids through the school.

I talked to the 5th graders before about how they are the leaders of the school, they set the example, etc. We also talked about how they could help their Kindergarten buddy. Here's what I got:

How sweet is that? They were so precious walking through the halls of the school. The big kids helped my littles tie their shoes, reminded them to be quiet, helped show them how to navigate the stairwell, etc. Eventually we plan on having them come read to my class and vice versa. But for now, I'll take walking in the hallway! And it helps to remind my kids when they are acting up in the hallway, "What would your buddy do? Would your buddy crawl on the floor and make cow noises? I don't think so!" (and yes, that actually happens)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Back to School!

Hello everyone! Well, we are officially back to school and the year has already taken off. Today was a half day (just for Kindergarten, everyone else had a full day!) but tomorrow we'll be jumping into the deep end. My classroom is all set up, thanks in large part to some awesome friends. I love how it is set up this year and the kids seem to like it too. Here's what I have going on:

our "policeman" to control the noise level:

calendar/circle time area. The books in the basket will change with the season/unit. Right now it has all my back-t0-school favorites.

Here's bookshelf #1:

And bookshelf #2. The books are labeled and organized according to author/type. It was a TON of work, but totally worth it.

And because I haven't taught the kids how to "use" these bookshelves yet, here's what they look like right now:
.Once they learn the rules, how to put the books away, etc. they'll get to "unwrap" the bookshelves. Until then, they are "under construction."

Have you started back to school? How did it go?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Another giveaway!

Teacher Tam over at is hosting a giveaway. Every person who enters automatically wins a product from her TpT store worth $5. AND you're entered for a chance to win her entire store! Head on over and check it out!


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Twas the Night Before Kindergarten...

In honor of school starting tomorrow, I wanted to share this poem with you. Happy reading! And for those who are starting back to school, I wish you a happy and wonderful school year!

Twas the night before kindergarten and as they prepared,
kids were excited and a little bit scared.
They tossed and they turned about in their beds,
while visions of school supplies danced in their heads.
Erasers and crayons and pencils galore
were stuffed in their backpacks and set by the door.
Outfits were hung in closets with care,
knowing that kindergarten soon would be there.
In the morning it came, school starts today!
Would the teacher be nice? Would they still get to play?
Faces were washed, and teeth were brushed white;
Kids posed for pictures with eyes sparkling bright.

Parents packed snacks and kids hopped in cars
As if they were boarding a spaceship to Mars.
Some kids brought blankets or their favorite stuffed bear;
in hopes they could nap like they did in day care.
Their parents exclaimed: "You're big kids. WOW!
Let us hold your bears and blankies for now."
The parents were worried their children would cry
if they left them at school with just a good-bye.
So they told their darlings, "If you want, we can stay
and make sure that everything will be A-okay."

The teacher then greeted each one with a smile,
and invited the students to stay for a while.
The room was all filled with toys, books, and maps,
but where were the beds for midmorning naps?
They colored and painted and played Simon Says,
then tumbled and skipped and stood on their heads.
They sang silly songs from beginning to end.
Within just a minute, each kid had a friend.
The children were happy. They loved Miss Clare
It was she who would show them a great deal of care.

When what to her wondering eyes should appear
but sad moms and dads who were holding back tears!
Their noses so sniffly! Their eyes red and wet!
This was the saddest good-bye Miss Clare had seen yet!
She gathered the grown-ups on the magical rug,
then sent them away after one final hug.
The children all waved from the door of the school.
"Don't cry Mom and Dad; kindergarten is cool!"

**not sure of the origin of this poem, but I know there is a book out there by Natasha Wing that is very similar. I did change the teacher's name to personalize it!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tax Free Weekend!!

This weekend in TN it is "Tax Free Weekend". That means that all school supplies, clothes up to $100 and computers up to $1500 are tax free. If you're a teacher, that makes a big difference! Especially when tax is almost 10%.

Normally for TFW I wake up super early and hit up Wal-Mart first thing Friday morning before the crowds get too crazy. But I was out of town so I had to settle for going at 4:30pm on a Saturday. It was nuts!! I found most of what I needed for my class, as you can see:

The sweetest part of the trip, however, was helping all the families decipher the school supply lists. Looking at my cart, it was pretty obvious I am a teacher (or some crazy person who buys 50 green folders and 16 pencil boxes). So people kept asking me questions. I was more than glad to help. I even abandoned my quest for green 3 brad folders to help a super sweet Hispanic family find the certain type of folder their list required. I had some nice conversations with grandmothers, fathers, and even a few kids. It was great! Once again, an experience that solidified the idea that teaching is what is meant for me. So thankful for my job! Can't wait for the kids to come on Thursday!!

p.s. stay tuned, pictures of my classroom are coming soon!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Books, books, everywhere!

**this is a guest post I wrote a few weeks ago and just realized I never published it here!

Hello everyone! This is Clare from A Day in the Life. For my guest post I wanted to share with you how I organize my classroom library. Even though it's only my 3rd year teaching (is that all? feels like much longer!), I have a TON of books! I've been collecting them for years- picking them up at garage sales, rummage sales, used books from the library, etc. And for the past 2 years that hasn't really been any rhyme or reason as to how they were organized. They were just flung on a shelf and I had to sift through them all when I needed a certain book.

At the end of last school year, my long term sub (I was out on medical leave) packed up my ENTIRE classroom. So when I opened all the boxes with books and saw they were all jumbled up, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to reorganize. Here's what I came up with!

These 4 tubs have my science/social studies books for our four "modules"- Community Helpers, World Cultures (USA for my class), Weather/Seasons and Animals.

This is a bookshelf I got last year through Donor's Choose. It's hard to see the labels, but the books are all sorted into categories: rhyming books, math books, ABC books, various Lang. Arts books, school books, books about feelings, and fairy tales/fables.

And here's my last bookshelf! It has all my author tubs as well as other categories.

Here's a close up of the labels I made. You can find some of them HERE on my Google Docs. Sorry I don't have them all to share, I can't find the other file (I made some 2 years ago and I guess I didn't save that file!).

The first day of school, the kids won't be able to see any of the books. The shelves will be "wrapped" in butcher paper, and as we learn classroom rules and procedures they'll gain book privileges. Last year I had to limit their access because they kept putting the books back in the wrong place, but I think this year with plenty of practice it'll work great!

Looking forward to a great school year and no more searching for lost books!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Secret Addiction

So first I'm a hoarder (see previous post) and now I'm an addict. A font addict. My name is Clare and I'm addicted to cute teacher fonts.

This has prompted a pretty funny (and long!) facebook thread on fun fonts. So I thought I would compile a list of my favorites to share. Keep in mind that this is as of 8:01pm August 1, 2011. I'm sure there will be many more added to this list! The best part is that these are all FREE! You can just Google them and download them in a snap.
What are your favorite fonts? I would love to add some more to this list!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hoarders: Teacher Edition

Have you seen all those hoarding shows on tv? These are people who collect mountains and rooms full of garbage, but insist that the items have meaning/purpose. These people are CRAZY!! They're like, "I can't throw away that mcdonald's bag from 12 years ago, it has sentimental memories." WTF?

Then the other day I was putting something away in my laundry room/closet when it hit me. I am a teacher hoarder. I collect random things that other people would throw away, but I can use in my classroom. Take a look:
I bet you don't collect empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Or old egg cartons.

Or old oatmeal canisters. You would throw them away. Or better yet, you would recycle them. Well, I'm doing my own version of recycling. What am I going to do with this trash? Well...

egg cartons- can be used for sorting, made into caterpillars for our insect unit, or used to hold beads
toilet paper rolls- 2 can be glued together to make "binoculars", 1 can be made into a harmonica, or a small rainstick
oatmeal canisters- used to hold extra crayons, small blocks (legos), possibilities are endless

So yes, I am a teacher hoarder. But, these things have not taken over my house! If they do, I'll let you know and you can come stage an intervention.

p.s. funny story- last year I was in Charleston visiting my friend (and fellow teacher) Hillary. We were out at a bar when I stopped to use the restroom. She asked me why I was laughing when I came out. My response: "you know you're an elementary school teacher when you want to steal the empty toilet paper roll from the bar!"

Friday, July 29, 2011

Here's a pointer

Literally that is! These are an essential tool in the Kindergarten classroom. I use one during my morning meeting to point out the words in our morning message. The kids use it when they lead the class in the "days of the week" song. I only had 1 of these last year, and wished I had more for when kids are reading the room. So when I was at Michael's last week, I decided to get crafty!
Ta da! 3 super cute, super cheap reading pointers! I have a rocket ship, bee and a frog. Each shape was 59 cents and the dowel I used was about $1. So for under $5 I have 3 new pointers. Can't wait to use them!