Saturday, August 31, 2013

First Day of School!

Happy First Day of School!

Whether some of you have been in school for a few weeks now, or start after Labor Day like many schools in Minnesota, "back to school season" is here.

Our school started this past Monday, and I am already LOVING how this school year is going.  :)  Here is how the first day of school went.

To start the day, I took a tip from Clutter Free Classroom and made a little ball of play dough for each of my students.  Read about that project here.

The kids were a little apprehensive when they came in, but once they started poking and prodding at their play dough, they had so much fun!  It was such a great way to ease any nervousness and welcome my students into their new classroom.

For reading, we started Daily 5... I bought the book that started it all here.  This is my first year trying Daily 5, so if you have any suggestions of how you use Daily 5 in your room, I would love to hear them!  

We talked about Read to Self, and what it should look like, sound like, and feel like.  I put one bin of my classroom books on each table, and I let them look through and choose three books for their book bins.  Then we started practicing Read to Self.  We practiced a few times, checking in between each practice to share celebrations and things they felt they needed to work on.

Some chose to read at their seats, and some chose other places around the room.  I could tell that they liked getting to choose whatever looked interesting to them to read.

For writing, I read them the story First Day Jitters.  We talked and wrote about what "jitters" might be, and a time they have felt "the jitters".  

For math, we explored manipulatives.  I put a bin of mainpuatives at each table, and students got to explore them for five minutes.  After five minutes, they rotated to a new table and explored a new manipulative.  After they had visited all of the tables, we discussed the purpose for using manipulatives and what each one can be used for.

I had things like pattern blocks, unifix cubes, base-10 blocks, and fraction circles out for students to use.

As if our day wasn't busy and crazy enough.... It was about 95 degrees outside, which meant it was much warmer inside.  We have a small window air conditioner in our room, but it has trouble keeping our room cool enough.  We kept the lights off most of the day to try and stay cooler.  We also had a "code blue" (missing kindergartener who was found after about an hour), AND an unplanned fire drill (something had set the system off).   What a way to kick off the year!

Overall though, my first day with my new kiddos went great.  I am so excited for this year!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

"Monday" Made-It: Play Dough!

I recently read a blog post from Clutter Free Classroom about using play dough on the first day of school.  (Yes, even with third graders.)  I loved the idea so much that I decided to try it for the first day of school!  So.... the night before school started, I was busy making 24 little baggies of play dough for my kiddos.

Read about Clutter Free Classroom's take on play dough here.

If I hadn't run out of salt or cream of tartar, this really wouldn't have taken long at all!  But my extra trip to the store delayed my production time.

I got four small balls of play dough out of one batch.  To speed things up, I doubled the recipe to get eight little balls at a time.  I stored each ball in a plastic zip bag labeled with each student's name.

Pretty soon, I had 24 little baggies of play dough for my students!

Stay tuned for my next post about the first day of school and how the kids responded to the play dough!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Supply Donation

I have very exciting news!  

One of our 5th grade teachers' sisters works at a company called Delta Dental.  Well, she was talking to the CEO of the company, and he wanted to work with our school to donate school supplies!  The delivery was about a week ago, and I can not even describe to you how generous the company was!  There were many Delta Dental employees helping to unload and organize the supplies.  Once they were organized, teachers got a box and got to go shopping!  Then, the employees helped us carry all of our new supplies up to our classrooms!

This table had markers, crayons, glue, scissors, pencils and highlighters....... Keep in mind that these lunch tables are about 20 feet long!

That front table had kleenex, notebooks, folders, and notebook paper.

Here is what I ended up with after "shopping":

I was so grateful to receive these supplies!

The following week, a group of teachers brought treats to the Delta Dental offices to say "Thank You!" I also plan on taking pictures of my students using the supplies and having my students draw a picture to the company to show how thankful they are.   :)

BIG THANKS to Ms. Krizak for all of your hard work putting this together!  

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Peek into my Classroom!

Welcome to my 3rd Grade Classroom!

I settled on a "theme" for this year!  My color scheme/theme is teal, black, white, and silver STARS.  I made this display on the front window of my room (to the right of the photo is my classroom door.  The picture is taken from the hallway.).  For the letters and stars, I used my school's die cut machine.  I drew the bucket myself, and stuffed it with stars to look like it was full.  Each white star has a student's name on it.  I really like how it turned out!  I think it sets the tone for my classroom before you even enter.  :)

From the door, looking left, are my student computers and birthday board...

Looking straight in from the door is my carpet and board area.  I love having my meeting space up front.  So far, we've been spending equal amounts of time at their desks and on the carpet.

The birthday board is a bookshelf that holds our book bins (on the left).  That big black bulletin board was quite a project to install.... but I will save that for another post.  This bulletin board is covered in fabric, and holds my calendar area, a place to post content and language objectives for each lesson, and the area above will have individual student goals for reading and math.

My guided reading table is towards the back of the room.  That blank part of the bulletin board is going to hold reading strategies and story vocabulary.

In the back of the room is the students' hooks and my desk area.

Next to my desk area is where students will turn in work, as well as get supplies they might need throughout the day.

Further down the wall from the supply area is the classroom library.  That was quite the project this summer!  Read about it here.  To the right of the photo is the rainbow carpet in the front of the room.

How have you organized your classroom for the year?

Until next time, 
-Miss Woodward

Monday, August 26, 2013

Open House

I have had such a busy few weeks!  Teachers went back to school on August 14th, and since then I have been frantically trying to be ready for the school year.  Ha!  "Ready".... who ever feels ready?

Last Thursday was our school's Open House.  It was so fun to meet a few of my students!  Here is how I set up my room for the event.

On the front white board, I created a "Wish Tree".  Things like disinfecting wipes, kleenex, pencils, hand sanitizer, and white board markers are like gold in any classroom.  On the post-it notes, I wrote an item, and if parents were interested in donating, they could take the post-it with them as a reminder.

I used these magnetic pockets from Lakeshore Learning to hold my important forms.  I had a letter from me (also translated into Hmong), and some school paperwork.

In front of the white board, I placed two student desks.  I had some Jolly Ranchers and stickers out (yep... win them over with candy first), a sign-in sheet, and a 3rd Grade Welcome Packet.

I also had a Student Information Sheet (very similar to the school's, but for my personal records), and a classroom Scavenger Hunt to get the students comfortable looking around the classroom.

It was quite a long day, but it got me really excited for school to start!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Sunday, August 11, 2013


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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Game Organization

My game shelf needed a makeover.  Last year, I used a flimsy shelf and flimsy bins to hold my games.  Everything was always unorganized, and it drove me crazy!

I decided everything needed a place, and students needed clear labels to know where to put things back.

I used my old book bins (yes, I realize they don't match... I didn't want to spend any more money on new bins.)  I divided my games into "like" piles.  I put all of the puzzles together, all of the board games, all of the card games, etc.

I ditched the puzzle boxes, and put each puzzle in a bag.  I cut the front off the puzzle box, so kids at least know what the puzzle is supposed to look like!  :)   I put a label on the bag, too.

Now kids can pick a puzzle, and when they are done, they put it back in the puzzle bin.  I did the same process for my other games.  Matching labels on the games and the bins means (fingers crossed), that everything will stay organized and in the correct bin!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Writing Center Bulletin Board

How many of you have a writing center in your classroom?  But you are always hearing from your students, "Miss Woodward, I don't know what to write!"  Well, I found this idea on Pinterest, and I thought it would be perfect for my students!  I modified it to fit my classroom's needs.

My plan for the writing part of Daily 5 is to keep it open for students to write what they'd like.  Occasionally, we will do a more formal writing piece that they can also work on during Daily 5 writing time.

I have to say, it was my first time covering a bulletin board on my own, and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be!  I started by using the previous green paper as a template for my new black paper...

One edge was too wide, so I had to trim.

The other side was too short.  Luckily, my border will cover that bare spot!

I added a glittery silver border...

And voila!  
I used my school's die-cut machine to make the letters.  I printed off some "types of writing" labels and glued them to cardstock.  Each teal piece of cardstock will hold an example of each type of writing.  You can go grab the "types of writing" labels from my TpT store for FREE!

What do you think?  I hope this eliminates some writer's block!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Friday, August 9, 2013

Revealing.... The Classroom Library!

I am so, so, SO excited to show you my classroom library!  I love how neat and organized it looks.  I am so happy I bought all of the matching bins.  I started this project last week... read about that here.

I made cute labels and started taping them on my bins.  

Because these bins had holes on the sides, I also put tape on the inside of the bin.

I made sure the labels tell students what the Accelerated Reader level is, whether it's a picture book or chapter book, and a color dot, so they can easily tell where to put the book back.

For some books, I couldn't find an Accelerated Reader level.  I put these books in a "Special Interest" bin.  I also have a bin for Hmong/English books.  The kiddos love reading in Hmong.

I just love how this library came together!  Every time I look at it, I smile.

What leveling system does your school use?  How did you organize your classroom library?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Box Solution

Do you use book boxes to hold the books students are currently reading?  When I first decided I wanted to use book boxes, I found some nice plastic ones at Target for $3 each.  My idea was that I could use them for a few years.  It added up to get 30 of them!

Here is a MUCH cheaper solution!  I took a trip to IKEA, and found these cardboard boxes.  They came 5 to a set, for $2.  Let me just lay that out for you...

30 plastic book bins x $3 each = $90

30 cardboard book bins (6 sets) x $2 per set = $12

Yeah, I think I made a better choice.  :)  If you don't live near an IKEA, don't fear!  You can buy them online here!

They were super easy to put together!  Literally, about 15 seconds assembly for each box.

During the first week of school, I am going to have my students decorate them.  Then, at the end of the year, they can take them home!

Do you use book boxes?  Where do you get yours? Do you use them with Daily 5?  I am excited to try Daily 5 this year!

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Chair Clean-Up

Most of us have those dark blue student chairs that (luckily?) don't show much dirt.  I have six red chairs that I use at my guided reading table.  Let me tell you, they were nasty!  I could see dirt and grime on them that wouldn't come off with a disinfecting wipe.  I decided I needed a deeper clean.

The culprit?  Six GROSS dirty chairs...

The method?  Mr. Clean Magic Erasers... I bought a pack of four and it barely got me through the six chairs.

You just wet an eraser, squeeze out the excess water, and start scrubbing! It took some A LOT of elbow grease.

That's a dirty Magic Eraser next to a clean one.  EW!

Can you tell a difference in the chairs?  The one on the left is clean and the other is dirty.  So glad I took the time to clean these chairs up!

I spent most of the day today just cleaning all of the surfaces in my room.  Do your classrooms get dirty and dusty over the summer?  Doesn't it feel good to have everything clean?

Until next time,
-Miss Woodward


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