Saturday, August 16, 2014

How to Save Your Stations (And Your Sanity!)

It's confession time. I am awesome at making stations. Math, literacy---you name it. I'm even pretty good at remembering to print, laminate, and cut them in time for their debut in the classroom.

Storing them? That's a completely different story. When it comes to saving my station materials in a nice, orderly manner, it's rather embarrassing. Shoving them all in a box is just SO EASY, you guys.

But you know what's not easy? Having to remake half of my materials the following year, and the year after that, because I was too lazy to find a suitable way to organize.

You may be asking, "Well, Erin, what about plastic bins?"
"Have you tried file folders?"
"I looooove using shoe boxes to store mine. Have you tried those?"

Yes. Takes up too much space, pieces fall out and get lost, and nobody has enough shoe boxes for my classroom needs. But thanks for the suggestions! 

At long last...PROBLEM. IS. SOLVED. Introducing, the super organized, only s-l-i-g-h-t-l-y time-consuming (3 steps, people!), station storage solution:

It's as easy as 1, 2, 3. Really:
1. Put pieces in large Ziploc bag.
2. Line left-hand side of bag with duct tape, folding over so both sides are covered.
3. Triple hole punch that bad boy, stick it in a binder, and voila!

This works well for flat pieces, and for stations that require extra materials (dice, markers, etc.), I just attach a tag to the bag for easy assembly. 

This is AWESOME because now, my stations aren't randomly strewn throughout my room AND the binders can be sorted by month/theme and neatly stored on a bookshelf. The trick to this is starting from DAY 1 so you can establish healthy habits for the year. 

I don't remember where I first heard of or saw this idea, but if I ever meet the person who is the brains behind this operation, I will hug and kiss them all over.

Here's to making life easy! Visit the links below for even MORE bright ideas that are sure to save you time, effort, and headaches.

Bright & Organized,
Erin :)

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Shark Week FREEBIE!

All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love!

One way I love to keep my kids engaged in the first grade classroom is to keep things competitive and group-oriented. We all know how those first grade attention spans can wane!

Slide 10.png

My Shark Week freebie is an old-school game of cat & mouse. Sharks & Minnows is a nostalgic pool game that pits predator against prey. What better way to celebrate Shark Week than to bring this game into the classroom! Students will race from one end of the sea to the other, answering math facts in order to escape the hungry jaws that chase them! 

Click on the picture to download this fabulous freebie!

Be sure to go for a swim in the linky party below. Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a fishy freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, August 17th  : )

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Back-to-School LIFESAVER


 I am so excited to announce that is having a HUGE back-to-school blowout sale and I am going to be featured in one of the curriculum bundles! From July 30 - August 2 (Wednesday - Saturday), they are bringing back all of their favorite and most popular bundles for INSTANT download at up to 77% OFF! There is something for everyone and it is their BIGGEST sale of the year!

First, check out our bundle for ALL GRADES that includes classroom essentials for decor & organization--a must-have for back to school room setup! It is normally $46.00, but it is on sale for 10.99---Seriously, you can't beat that!

Management, Decor & Organization Bundle - 76% OFF


I use quite a few of these items in my room, and had a lot of success with the Attendance Binder I began using last year. It is an awesome way for students to self-manage attendance, as well as practice sight words and math facts at the same time! Check out how we used it in our classroom:

Students use the targeted math fact or sight word as their "password" to sign in every morning. All I have to do is see who hasn't signed in to finish my attendance!

Take a peak into what else is on sale! Tell your friends, because there is something for everyone who teaches children in PreK-8th grade!

Preschool Full-Year Curriculum Bundle - 72% OFF


Kindergarten Full-Year Curriculum Bundle - 75% OFF


K-2 The Write Stuff ELA Bundle - 68% OFF


First Grade Literacy Bundle - 74% OFF


Don't Miss It!

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 :)

01 09 10