Saturday, August 23, 2014

My Home Away From Home

Whew! The past three weeks have been CA-RAZY!! Going back to school, inservices, getting my room ready, meeting my new sweeties, and having a full first week back {who really thinks it's a good idea for the first day to be on a Monday??} have had me out of commission, but somehow everything magically came together and my room was ready for parent orientation. That was over a week ago, but I'm just getting time to finally show it off!
I don't really have a 'theme.' More of a primary color scheme, stemming from the chair pouches my grandmother made me. I call my tables by colors, so everything else is primary colored for the most part. 
Ready for a lot of pictures? ;) Excuse the lighting on many of them...I have great natural light in my classroom, but for some reason, it doesn't show in pictures!
Here's the outside area of my room...I LOVE my new rug from IKEA!
 Here are a few shots from around the room. The first is a picture from the door I snapped right before Open House.
View from the front of the room

 View from the back of the room

Now for the close ups...when you walk in the door, the writing table is in front of you
{Posters on the sides are from Lyndsey at A Year of Many Firsts and the posters and cards on the board are from Lori at Teaching with Love and Laughter}
This year, I decided to put three caddies at the center, so that each child had their own utensils. Hopefully, now I won't constantly be telling them to share ;)
Just past the writing table is my reading area. I also got this rug from IKEA and it is so soft! The bookshelf is one my granddad gave me my first year of teaching.
{Posters are from Lyndsey at A Year of Many Firsts}
Above my reading center, is my word wall. If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you may remember my ugly wall picture. I fixed it by buying a big piece of insulation at Lowe's, using heavy duty double sided tape to attach it to the wall, then treating it like a bulletin board. I'll use clothespins to attach our words. I love how it turned out!
In the closet beside this, is our house center. I love having an extra closet for this! It's nothing fancy, but it serves its purpose!
Beside that, I'm blessed to have a big sink area. Above it, is where I hang our "Wow Work."
On this wall, I have all windows, which is a blessing, but it looks out on one of our playgrounds. To solve the problem of my kids looking out all day, my sweet grandmother made me some curtains. It's hard to see, but they're black and white polka dots. Under the windows, is my art table. I love having a variety of tools for the kids to use and I'm so excited about the crayon jars I made! No more "I need a red!" The kids can just get up and get whatever color they've lost!

Next is my guided reading space and my desk area...I love my two canvas pieces in the windowsill {one was a Christmas gift and the other was a project done by the same sweetie's mom last year}. I'm working really hard this year to not let clutter take over!

{The banner is a freebie and my alphabet cards are in my TpT store.}
This little part of my desk area cracks me up! A mom gave this picture to me this summer that was taken during our field day...I guess you could say I get a little intense! That intensity and some motivated kids won that little trophy though ;)
A few more pictures of my desk area. I'm well aware that I have too many pictures of my child, but I can't help it ;). I love these stickers I got at Hobby Lobby...great for sprucing up a boring desk!

Past that is my whole group area...calendar, board, etc. My tubs underneath my board hold our workshops. When the kids aren't facing the board, they turn to the left and face my rocking chair/easel/teacher shelf.

I love having all my Pete the Cat books out to begin the year and I really love the little pails I attached to my easel with S hooks. They make it where I have everything I need when doing an example or making anchor charts.

Behind that is a big wall with 2 huge bulletin boards. One I use for work and the other I change throughout the year. In the middle is my birthday bulletin board. Our cubbies are underneath where the kids keep their backpacks and stuff. On the counter, I have my folder and snack baskets, and our files where we put finished work.
{Bulletin Board inspiration from Doodle Bugs Teaching}

And, last is this little area beside my door. It holds all my little trinkets I've collected over the years along with our emergency bucket. Beside the shelf is our how we go home chart.
All of my color, number, shape, and alphabet posters can be found here in my TpT store.
Sorry for the overload of pictures, but I finally feel like after 11 years, I've almost created my perfect teacher space. Now let's hope I keep it organized!
I *hope* to be back tomorrow to link up visual plans with Deedee..cross your fingers that it happens!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Meet the Teacher

Today I'm linking up with my sweet friend Stephanie to tell you a little more about me! :)
This will be my 11th year teaching - all in kindergarten! I knew when I was in elementary school that I wanted to be a teacher and after mentoring with an AMAZING kindergarten teacher throughout high school and college, I knew my heart was in kindergarten! I love seeing the growth the kids make every year and I love helping ease parents into the transition of leaving their babies at big school!
I have one little girl of my own, who is about to be 21 months {if you follow me on instagram, you're probably tired of being bombarded with her pics}. I am super close with my family and we are pretty much together all the time! This is us with my mom {we have strong genes!} and most of the time we're surrounded by my grandparents, aunt, sister, niece, cousins, etc.
 I love reading, shopping, smocked clothes {for EG!}, and coffee! Here's a little more about me!

I hope this helps you feel like you've gotten to "know" me! To find out more about my blogging friends, go check out Stephanie's linky :)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Welcoming Your New Parents

Today I'm teaming up with some of my favorite blogging gals to share some tips to help your back to school season go as smoothly as possible. In my district, teachers went back last Thursday, but we don't get kids until a week from tomorrow. Even though this will be my 11th year teaching, I'm still always on the hunt for good tips and tricks!
As teachers, we naturally spend lots of time getting our rooms perfect, and designing the *perfect* plans for that first week. However, sometimes we tend to forget about the precious people who are leaving us their babies {even in middle school, those hormone ridden kids are someone's babies!}. I've always tried to keep parents in mind, but it really did change when I had my own child and had to leave her with someone else!
When I meet parents for the first time at our school's parent orientation night, I want them to feel welcome and at ease in my classroom, and I want them to leave knowing that their child is in good hands. I try to do this in a couple of ways. First, I like to have a little welcoming gift for them {in my room, they'll be at their child's seat}. Does this cost a little extra and take a few extra minutes? Sure, but to me, it's worth it. I think if parents see we've taken the extra time to do a little something for them, they'll truly appreciate it.
I've done a variety of gifts in the past, and this year I'm going back to an oldie, but goodie! I bought a big bag of apples at Wal-Mart, found this cute chevron tulle ribbon on the clearance aisle at Hobby Lobby, and made a little tag to go with it. {This saying has been around forever, so I'm not quite sure who to credit it to, but I originally got this idea from my mentor in high school, Mrs. Shelley}. I think the parents will love it! You can get the tag here as a freebie.

Next, I try to make paperwork as easy as possible. At orientation, I have a folder for each student. On one side, I put all the FYI paperwork that does not need to be returned. On the other side, I put all the papers that need to be completed and returned. The parents can return the papers in their child's folder, which makes it easy for me to keep up with the gobs of paperwork we have.

{Normally, I type the labels to save time, but this is an extra I had left over from last year and I just made a name up and wrote a label quickly to have an example ;)}

{Notice I have a whole big page for transportation...I'm so paranoid about someone going home the wrong way!}
 I also include a magnet in this pack with all of my information. I want parents to feel at ease contacting me, and I want them to know that I love for them to be involved!

Last, since I teach kindergarten, I like to give the parents a little something when they drop the kids off with me that first day. It never fails that the parents are crying {while the kids are all, "See ya later, Mom!"} so this is my go to. I've also had this poem a loooooong time and don't know who the credit goes to - any ideas??. Buy some packs of individual tissues and tie a note to it - easy as that! {You can also get this tag as a freebie here}
{Frame - Graphics from the Pond, Font - Cara Carroll}

I'd love to hear how you make parents feel welcome at the beginning of the year! Share your ideas!
Now, hop over to Tanja's blog to read more great tips for back to school :)