Book Talk Tuesday - The Chalk Box Kid

The school year is upon us so many of us are searching for a great book to start the year out right. I have read so many cute picture books with my students so far this year...two of my favorites are The Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk and Ish by Peter Reynolds. When I think of a great book for guided reading groups, however, I can't get past a tried and true classic - The Chalk Box Kid by Clyde Bulla What better way to share my thoughts on this story than to link up with one of the greats...Mrs. Jump's Class! This woman is AWESOME and I am so fortunate to have this chance!
This story is perfect for 2nd-4th graders and has a wonderful theme for the beginning of the school year. Many students can relate to the main character, Gregory, as he struggles to fit in at a new school. He finds sanctuary in an unusual place and where he is able to showcase a true, hidden talent. Your students will learn the importance of friendship and acceptance as Gregory's classmates, who once shunned him, find he has much to offer their new school. Each year that I read this with my students I am amazed by all that can be accomplished by handing each child a piece of blank black paper and white chalk (or crayon). Their imaginations run wild as they work to draw their "garden" or dream onto the page. I love this story so much that I have created a book unit to go along with it. It is has been used in my classroom with much success! Find it at my TpT store by following this link: Chalk Box Kid Complete Unit
This pack includes chapter by chapter comprehension questions, weekly focus skills with activities, end of book projects and a context clue game!
I love this story! There are so many great books out there, but sometimes oldies really are the goodies!

Monday Made It - Gutter Planter Box

I am linking up today with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics. I absolutely LOVE her blog and have found so many great ideas from her "Monday Made It" section.
My favorite "made it" from the last couple of weeks has got to be the adorable planter boxes that I have made for my classroom. With such a tiny space to work with, I had to get very creative. Two large (4 foot wide) windows seemed to be the focal point in the room, so I decided to go with it. This project was SO EASY and I couldn't be happier with the results. Here is what I used: - Rain gutters - I bought 1 rain gutter at Lowes (these traditionally come in 10 foot sections) - Rain gutter end caps (for the number of planters you need) - Silicone or hot glue - Floral foam (I found this at the dollar store) - Cute, whimsical flowers to match your decor (the flowers I used were on sale at Michaels) - Some type of covering for the foam (I used burlap to match my room, but there is also moss or so many options) - 3M/Command picture hanging strips After buying the rain gutters (which are incredibly light weight) I cut them to fit the size of my windows. You can cut these with tin snips fairly easily. Next, I attached the end caps with silicone. I also attached the floral foam to the insides with silicone, but hot glue would also work.
Adding the flowers was easy at this point. I just spaced them out and added them as I found looked best. To give it a more finished look you can add a covering over the foam. I found wide burlap ribbon that I wound around the stems to help tie the colors of my room together. As a final step I hung the planters directly below my windows. For this I used the 3M/Command picture hanging strips. I attached 4 of these to each of the planter boxes and put the corresponding pieces onto the wall where I planned to hang them. It was so easy then to press the finished boxes against the wall at the hanging strips and it instantly added a great pop of color to the space!

Surviving The First Week!

I have just completed my first week of the new school year! Yeah! There is such excitement in the air all around school. The new backpacks, supplies and stories to tell about summer have made getting back into the school routine a lot of fun. The first week is always jam packed with procedures, team building and getting to know you activities. Each year that I teach I begin to understand the importance of this time more and more. While the temptation is always there to rush through some of the "boring" rules and expectations...we have all learned that this only leads to disaster. I have also learned that there is nothing more valuable than finding time to learn about student's learning styles and interests. Through interest inventories and getting to know you games (bingo being a class favorite) we can get insight into how each student will best be motivated to learn throughout the year. This year I decided to do a learning style profile with each student online (since I will be working with students in small groups). Wow! This made the task more motivating for my students (who couldn't wait to get their hands on the school's new laptops) and so easy for me since the results were automatically calculated. I am sure there are many great online resources out there, but here is the website that I used: http://www.educationplanner.org/students/self-assessments/learning-styles.shtml To help celebrate this exciting time of year I made a quick freebie to share with you! This is an activity I used with my students to help get to know them a little better. Simply buy the individual packs of M&Ms or pass out a handful to each student and use the guide provided to learn more about each student. Getting To Know You Candy Activity
I would love to hear about some of your fun first week activities! Happy first week of school!

New year...new classroom decor!

There is something about decorating your classroom and getting ready for a new school year that I love! Maybe it is the anticipation of all of the good things that could happen, maybe it is the thrill and excitement of a fresh start...whatever it is, I LOVE IT! This year, however, I had a double dose of this fun! As I mentioned in an earlier post my classroom setup has been very unconventional this year. I had completely decorated and prepared my third grade classroom when I was offered and decided to take a position as a K-6 intervention specialist. This began my second decorating/organizing challenge of the summer. My new position, however, meant that I had to move from a large classroom to a small, closet sized office space. After downsizing and bringing home about 8 large bins of teacher materials I had a completely blank slate to work with. This is what the room looked like (this picture is actually of an identical office down the hall...you may notice later that it is facing a different direction than my room).
The space is SO small and the walls were so bare and white that I felt they were caving in on me! I am not claustrophobic, but this room was beginning to make me understand the feeling! I had to do something, ANYTHING, to give this room some much needed love. I decided on a nature/outdoor theme. Bright blue and burlap were going to be my primary colors, but I have added some touches of pink and lime green throughout. Here is what I have come up with so far (trust me...there is still work to be done!)
My room has 2 BIG windows in it (both are 4 feet across). They really seemed like a focal point in the room so I decided to use this to my decorating advantage and create flower boxes. To make these I utilized rain gutters to hold the flowers and wrapped burlap around the flowers to help give it some more visual appeal.
My lonely little white board also needed some attention. I decided to make add some texture with the flowers at the top and have also added my bright blue colored border around the room.
I do not have a traditional "desk" in my new room. I do, however, have some great cabinets that I plan to utilize to help me post the "I Can" statements for each group I teach. These will be held in the frames you see in the picture. So, there it is. I am so happy with how it turned out! I no longer cringe when I walk in the room and I can see myself having a fun and productive year with my students in this room. Another successful year decorating...x 2. It is a good thing that it is one of my favorite parts of a new year. What are your favorite things about a new school year?

My New Classroom...Almost

Ok, so this year's classroom reveal has been a little complicated. As all teachers do I worked hard trying to find the perfect "theme" and game plan for the upcoming school year. At the end of last year I decided to enlist the help of my third graders to get their input on what would make a great classroom. We had great discussions and students wrote some compelling arguments about their opinions. In the end it was decided that a "Hollywood/Movie Theme" would be best in the room. We worked together to plan and create the new bulletin boards (incorporating learning experiences such as math - measurement, area and perimeter and reading - researching some great topics in movie making). Below you will find some pictures of what we came up with. Some of these ideas were inspired by some other great teachers with some of our own little twists:
This picture includes a bulletin board where students will be posting writing works in progress to get feedback and ideas for editing. Also you can see my Hollywood sign inspired math board.
A "Star of the Week" or "Celebrity of the Week" idea is always something I enjoy doing. It helps so much with building classroom community and getting to know all members of our class. I tried to put all of my ideas and resources for this theme into a product in my store and I made it editable so that it could be meaningful for anyone who purchases! Check it out: Hollywood Themed Classroom Resource Pack Now, why is this my new classroom...almost? Well, midway through the summer I was contacted about moving to a new position at my school. I will now be an intervention specialist for my school. I am currently working on my new room (which is actually the size of a small office) and will post my progress soon!

Hello Blogging World!

Wow! I can't believe I have officially entered the blogging world. I am so excited to begin this new adventure. For the past 11 years I have been a teacher and I have to say that I have learned so much from reading great blogs and networking with awesome teachers. I can't wait to begin to share some of my ideas and some fantastic resources I have found along my journey. As teachers I think we sometimes feel like our lives are consumed by things that distract and take away from the most important part of our jobs...teaching and motivating our students...this is where the title of my blog and TpT store came from. There are not enough hours in a day and dollars in a teacher's bank account to complete everything we would like to do for our students. I hope to continue to grow as an educator and help more teachers find ways to step away from the "pencil sharpener"and give them some of their time back! I have just started on "bloglovin"... Follow my blog with Bloglovin


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