Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Very Hungry Bright Idea

I came across this bright idea a month too late, as our Eric Carle unit was finished. But you bet your bottom dollar I'll be making this bad boy next year--it's too cute not to! I found this lovely and incredibly easy idea when I visited my friend who had just had a baby. Her nursery theme was The Very Hungry Caterpillar and I about died when I saw this guy peeking up at me:
This would be super cute in a story pit or attached to the wall during an Eric Carle unit or even an Eric Carle-themed classroom! Simply glue green paper lanterns together with a red one on the end. Cut out felt or construction paper for the mouth and eyes, and hot glue thick brown pipe cleaners to the head for antenna. Slap the whole thing on a branch, and you've got yourself a Very Hungry Caterpillar! What a GREAT idea! Enjoy :)

For more bright ideas, please visit the link below to find grade-specific posts that strike your fancy!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas--No More Rummaging!

It's 10:00. Lunch is imminent. You are halfway through a math lesson, then you hear it. Pencils rolling around supply boxes, paper crumpling. The dreaded desk rummaging has begun.
Personally, if I had a dollar for every time one of my students was playing in his or her desk during a lesson, I could retire today a happy girl. Unfortunately, I am in the business of teaching 6 and 7-year olds and this is nothing but a pure fantasy. The reality is, rummagers will be rummagers. Have desk, will fidget.

Enter my super smart cooperating special education teacher, who introduced me to the greatest innovation yet in the world of teaching: The Box Top.

Sometimes, things are just so simple it makes me wonder why I never thought of it. The Box Top changes this:

To this:

Not only does this beautiful piece of cardboard keep hands out of desks, but it also allows for much better organization, in my opinion. Loose scraps, crayons, and supplies do not fall victim to the abyss that is a student's desk, and all of the materials can be accessed in one easy makeshift tray. This also eliminates the endless questions of "Where is my science notebook?" or "Where is my...?" because guess what?! Instead of sifting through a desk until the inside is unrecognizable, you can pull out this handy dandy tray and look in a more civilized fashion.

Easy solutions, people. This is what Bright Ideas and teaching is all about!

To check out another bright idea, please make sure to check out our linky FULL of ideas just waiting to be borrowed. Happy hopping!

Erin :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bright Ideas: Simple Guided Reading Organization

Guided Reading is a necessary evil. An enigma. A Catch-22.

I love guided reading and what it does for my students. I enjoy guided reading while I'm doing it, but I'll be really honest here. Sometimes, the anticipation of doing guided reading is enough to send me running and hiding.

This year, it's all about baby steps, folks. Bit by bit, I've slowly picked up the pieces of my guided reading chaos area and transformed it into a place I want to be. Perhaps the most pivotal transformation lies within this simple organizational technique that has, truly, been a lifesaver.

I picked up this little guy in the dollar bin at Target a couple months ago, but these can be found year-round at the Dollar Tree, Walmart, etc. Little did I know I was meeting my new best friend that faithful day in the Target timesuck aisle.

I LOVE that my school has a book room with filing cabinets full of leveled books, and I truly believe the woman who volunteers her time organizing it is an angel sent from earth to make teachers like me try their darndest to be a guided reading guru. What I DON'T love is that in first grade, I have about a baijillion different reading groups, with a bajillion different books and sometimes, I do REALLY awesome things with these books, only to forget about them the next day. Which is where this bad boy comes in:

Every morning, I take 5 minutes (seriously, no more) to fill out an index card out for each book I plan to use during guided reading (usually 2-3 books/groups, depending on the day). I quickly jot down the title, the level, frequent sight words that appear in the book, new vocabulary words, and any teachable moments I see from skimming through the book (making connections, predictions, using pictures for word-solving clues, etc.) Then, I slip the card inside the book until it is time to meet.

After meeting with the group, I slip the card inside the envelope in the correct slot and voila. I'm done.
Yes, I know there are probably neater and cuter ways of storing books, but I find great peace in the fact that further on in the year, I'm able to dip into a certain level and already have a book selection & mini-lesson all set up for my groups. It's the little things, folks!

Now, it's time to head on over to my friend Mary at A Classroom Full of Smiles to hear all about her BRIGHT BULLETIN BOARD IDEAS! You don't want to miss it :)

A Classroom Full of Smiles
Click HERE to check it out!

Also, you can search by topic using the link-up below and move along to any other blog on the blog hop!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Sunday Fun(?)day

The other day when I was stalking browsing Facebook, I came across this:

It was like the Facebook gods were speaking directly to me. If I had to recreate this meme, it would go a little something like this:
-I Honestly Don't Think It's Physically Possible to Get Out of Bed
-I Honestly Don't Think It's Physically Possible to Get Out of Bed 2.0
-Really. Again? This is Worse Than Yesterday.
-I Can See the Light! I Guess I'll Go to Work Today
-Free At Last!
-Life Is Perfect. This Feeling Can, & Will, Never Go Away

Now, Sunday. Sunday is a two-parter. If you're anything like me, you spend the better part of Sunday basking in the glory that is doing nothing. In my ripe age of 28, I've even started waking up as early as possible so that I can have as many waking hours of nothingness as possible (who am I?!). Life is great, coffee is wonderful, the couch is my oyster. 

Then, 4:00 hits. The witching hour. 

4:00 on Sunday is like standing on the edge of the high dive with zero swimming experience. Everything is fine and dandy, life is whimsical & lovely, and then BAM. All of a sudden, you've forgotten what it feels like to shower first thing in the morning, prepare 3(!) meals a day, and engage in social interaction. All traces of responsibility are nowhere to be found. 

If I'm being honest here, I usually spend 4:00 on wallowing in my Sunday depression, and wait until 5 minutes before my husband says he's ready for bed to fly into a whirlwind of activity. All of a sudden, packing lunches, doing a load of laundry, and laying my outfit out are of utmost importance, and WHERE ARE MY RAIN BOOTS. My tired husband is too nice to leave me in the dust as I wring out any possible remaining waking moments before I lay my sad head down on my pillow.

Finally, it is bed time. I stay on my phone as long as possible (surely there's something I must have missed on Facebook/is it too late for a freak snow storm to close school?/etc.) to avoid sleep. Because sleep=waking up. And waking up the day after Sunday=I Honestly Don't Think It's Physically Possible to Get Out of Bed. Repeat.

Disclaimer: This cycle has nothing to do with my feelings about my job & students (both of which & whom I love more than anything) & more about my inability to fully embrace adulthood. Maybe one day.*

*Maybe not.

Erin :)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Chance of a Lifetime (Or...Monthtime?)

Let's talk resolutions. It's a good news/bad news situation over here for me. Bad news first---I've been an awful blogger for the past week (maybe 2). Started strong, but had a relapse. My bad!
Good news--I have been doing a fantastic job keeping ahead of the game at school. So good, in fact, that I am all planned & ready to go for February. Yes, you heard me right! February, meet your match.
Because I am feeling so great about this, and because my blogging has been less than stellar lately, I have a special giveaway. Readers, I'd like to introduce you to my (and your!) new best friend:
Included in this beauty, you will find:
  • Literacy Stations
  • Math Stations
  • Word Wall Words
  • Morning Work
  • Interactive Poetry & Activities
  • Science Experiments & Activities
  • Read-Alouds & Activities
  • Classroom games
  • 100th Day Pack

To win this steal of a deal, simply enter the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! :)


Sunday, January 12, 2014

I Have a Dream...

I don't even know where to start with this post.

           Teaching about Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of my favorite things about my job, hands down. One might think that it would be a fine line to walk dealing with such young students, but in all honesty, it is their youthful bliss to ignorance of the past that makes this such a rewarding unit to teach. Every year, the kids are purely blown away and appalled at the laws and conditions that existed way before they can even fathom. 
           It's hard for them to imagine such social norms when they live in a 21st century world where race is becoming more and more insignificant. What they can fathom; however, is the atrocity of the inequitable laws that affected so many. I wish I could capture their faces, expressions, and questions every time I introduce them to the world pre-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The world (today and long ago) could learn a lot from these open-minded, innocent souls!
            Recently, I was tutoring a little one, and we were reading this Reading A-Z book about George Washington Carver. We came to multiple points in the book that highlight George's struggle to get an education based on his race, and this sweet little boy looked up at me with wide eyes and said, "I can't believe this actually happened! It's so weird!" It's so refreshing to witness such a blank slate at work, and it gives me hope for the generation that we are teaching. Brings tears to my eyes!
            With that being said, it is very important to me to use every minute & every second of our social studies block this month to communicate Dr. King's message to my students. We focus a lot on his "I Have a Dream" speech and use this opportunity to discuss ways in which they want to change the world for the better. This might be my favorite project we do all year:

While teaching in such a military-heavy community, this dream tugs extremely at my heartstrings. 

To create this project, I take photographs of the students and encourage them to show me their best "thinking pose" and snap away. Once the photos are printed, we cut along the outline (sometimes I utilize my fabulous parent volunteers for this task) and glue onto a piece of black construction paper. Then, I print copies of  this thinking bubble and the students write their dream for the world. Click below for  copy:

 I wish I had an entire album dedicated to the dreams of my students, but I promise you that if you do this with your own, you will be rewarded year after year. Enjoy and may peace be with you!

To download my entire MLK pack, please visit my TPT store here.

Erin :)

Credits: Thinking bubble from Krista Wallden; Font from Kimberly Geswein

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Go Mrs. Waters, It's Your Birthday!

Okay, so I will be the first to admit---I LOVE birthdays! I will also be the first to admit...I also love my own birthday. I have slowly trained introduced my husband to the joy of the celebration of birthdays, so it should be no surprise that I am gearing up for a blog-worthy birthday celebration as well! Because I am so fortunate to be alive on this earth for yet another day of birth celebration, I wanted to share the wealth with you all! Behold, my 28th birthday sale at my Teachers Pay Teachers store! This also doubles as a back-to-school blues sale, so it's all in all a great situation :)

I highly recommend you check out my most favorite item in my store, and also my best-seller. This little product has been an absolute life-saver in my guided reading groups. Check it out!

Happy birthday to me! 

Erin :)

01 09 10