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Sunday, July 19, 2015

10 Tips for the first 20 minutes of school

1.  Be Prepared for Parents

Ahead of time, ask your principal the procedures and rules for parents in the classroom.  Prepare the dialog with parents who want to stick around or follow your class to the classroom.  Many schools have adopted very strict policies for visitors to the school.  You don’t want to break any rules but you also don’t want to alienate any “sticky” parents on the first day.  Practice and rehearse a friendly dialog for parents who don’t want to leave their child at the door!

2.  Be Prepared for Communication
Every school is different in how they deal with parent/teacher communication.  I give my parents my cell phone number and encourage them to text me.  I tell them right away they I am only guaranteed to check text message at lunch time on a school day and if I don’t reply and it is urgent... they better call the office.  Make sure you know ahead of time what your limits are regarding parent contact... chances are you will have one parent who needs to know ASAP on the first day!

3.  Slap on that Name Tag!
Even if you *think* you know all of the students’ names from seeing them in the hallway the year before, place a name tag on each child as they enter the room.  Your brain will be fried, discombobulated and going 100 different directions... no matter how sure you are that you remember ALL the names, you won’t.  Trust me...nametags!  By the way, no matter what cute font or clipart you use... these name tags will be off 90% of your kids by lunch.   Thankfully by then your head won’t be as discombobulated!  (Teacher Tip...Find the kid who still has the name tag nice and tidy at the end of the day.  Chances are  this is the kid who will be the “If you have any questions ask ______” in your sub plans this year. :)

4.  Greet EVERY Student
This is SUPER important.  Take the time to greet every student and ask them some sort of question.  If you don’t you will find that those shy, reserved kiddos totally got looked over on the first day.  Speaking from experience... I have had totally guilty moments at the end of the first day (maybe even first few DAYS...ugh) when I realized that I haven’t had a chance to speak one-on-one with my shyer, quieter students.  Let them know how happy you are to have them in your class...cause we all know we love those quiet ones!  

5.  Supply Containers
No matter how you plan to divvy up your students’ supplies, have clearly labeled containers ready to hold student supplies.  Parents send supplies in so many different ways.... no labels, every single pencil labeled and.... well... also not supplies at all.  Have a permeant marker ready to label supplies.  Place the supplies in the container as the students go through.  Then sort through the supplies later.  I always start my kiddos out with their box, a pack of crayons, and a pencil.

6.  Supplies are Evil
Be prepared to have kiddos that come with no supplies and kiddos who come with the bedazzled school box from h*ll.  I always have at least 4 boxes of supplies ready to go.  Yeah I know it is a total inconvenience and a financial drain, but this is a MAJOR cause of stress for kiddos on the first day.  Seeing their faces when they don’t have supplies or they are missing a supply is heartbreaking.  Believe me when I say that you will be totally thankful to have those extra supplies on hand! 

7.  Ready to Work!
At every seat place a few sheets of independent work to start the day.  This will keep kids busy while you take care of all of those first day of school tasks!  Make sure these are lower level activities... coloring is a great!  This is what I used this year.. .a simple coloring page from Hello Literacy!

8.  Oh, You Extra Kids!
Prepare, prepare, prepare... for those kiddos who show up on the first day!  Your list may say 20 but you may end up with 16 or 18... or 24.  You can always easily take extra seats and prepped materials away but adding them in at the last minute is a huge pain... especially if you are dealing with parents or crying, nervous kids.  Place a few extra seats and busy work around the room just in case! 

9.  Never Too Early
It’s never to early to plan for dismissal!  Make sure you know how each of your kiddos go home at the end of the first day.   Keep a chart with you as you greet students.  Note how they came to school, (what bus?) and ask parents how they will get home.   I always have atleast one kid each year who comes to school one way and gets to school a totally different way!   I use this form below to prepare.  Click HERE to download!  

10.  Yeah It Sounds Bad...
Keep notes on your first impressions.  Are they talkers, low, high, quiet, SUPER EXCITED?  I know it sounds bad to take so much stock on first impression but they do matter.  You don’t want all your lower kids at the same table... they may need some directions.  You don’t want all your quiet kids together... they may need some spunk to get them excited for the year.  Whatever observations you make... use them to guide how you rearrange the room!

What tips do you have for the first 20 minutes for school?  Leave them in the comments below!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oh, Snap! It's almost August!

These are some great products that you need to grab up to prepare for August when most of us are getting ready to head back to school!

I created this back to school packet this summer because I needed some new ideas and getting to know you activities.  

It has tons of great printables that are easy to prep and great to have on hand those first couple of crazy weeks!  There are also games, getting to know you topic cards, and a cute little hat for the younger kids.

Another product to grab up and get prepped for the year are these Whole Class Writing Journal Covers.  I just gave them a MAJOR overhaul so if you have already purchased them, go back and re-download them!  They are so cute!

Another new product are these mini-math books.  Currently there are 11 books in the bundle!  Each book is easy to prep and use.  You just copy, staple, and cut.  These are great for supplementing your curriculum!

If you want to get ahead of the game and prep math stations for the entire year then you are in luck!  You can grab up these math stations which have a station for every first grade standard!  They can be used any time of the year!

Head on over to Teacher Deals and Dollar Steals to check out all of the other link-ups and find amazing new products for August!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Makeover Monday (July 6)

 One of my best selling products is the The Alphabet Pack.  It was long overdue for a cover makeover.  The product is all the same; however, your binder cover will look much better with this new look.

Not only did I change the cover look, but I also added our new blog logo.  I am still incredibly overjoyed that our blog looks this great!!

This packet includes an uppercase and lowercase sort for every letter of the alphabet.  This packet includes black and white images and fonts to save on ink.  The Alphabet Pack is helpful for preschool and kindergarten teachers to help with letter identification with their students.  The Common Core Correlation is K.RF.1.- Identify orally uppercase and lowercase letters in random order.
Here is some of the feedback that I have received over the years from The Alphabet Pack. 
 The Alphabet Pack will be on sale for Makeover Monday.  Link up your makeover product at the linky below.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Bright World's New App: Ocean Forests

I am so excited to be able to review a BRAND NEW app from Bright Worlds eBooks!  They are launching their eBooks with "Ocean Forests"  which is a non-fiction story-like book for kids 5-8. This app has so many great features for students!

I used this a app on my friend's kids who are often my "test subjects."   We were on a long drive to an amusement park and the kids were actually fighting over who got to use my iPad and this new app.  As one of the kids was yelling Harbor Seal facts from the back of the vehicle my friend commented "I think the app is a success."  Here they are using the app the next day to explore the 3D world... you can see there are 3 hands...they literally loved this app so much they couldn't wait their turn!

The main feature of the app is of course the story.  Students can choose to listen to the story, read it silently to themselves, or practice their fluency by reading aloud and recording themselves.  Students will especially LOVE that part because they can change the sound of their voice and then listen to it read the story back to them.

Another great feature is the vocabulary! Vocabulary has been a huge focus when it comes to instruction and test scores lately.  Exposure to vocabulary is a huge benefit and this app has it covered.  Students can click on the dictionary and then on certain words which gives them a detailed description and also uses the word in a sentence.

My favorite part is the 3D animation.  Students can actually explore the ocean floor environment moving their view with a swipe of the finger.  They can touch the many ocean creatures and elements of the ocean floor.  When they click on the object, it highlights it as it moves and gives the student more information about the object.  

Finally there is the game aspect of the app.  These games are fun, BUT they are also educational. They test the students' reading comprehension skills with a fun games.

You can purchase this Bright World Ocean Forests app for just $2.99 by clicking HERE

Make sure to follow Bright World eBooks for updates on their latest releases!   They will have even more great topics in the future!  I can't wait to see what they release next!

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