"I'm Done! What Do I Do Now?"

29 July 2011
I don't want to hear my students tell me "I'm done! What do I do now?"  I want my students to be self-sufficient and know what is expected of them.  I am sure, if you are taking the time to read this post, you are like me, and you enjoy a structured and well-oiled classroom environment.  I prevent the dreaded praise with a "What Do I Do When I'm Done" list. I hang the list above my center board and will just point to it when a student comes up to me.  I have even seen students direct their peers to the sign.  Once the routines have been established, we no longer need to refer to it.  I also create something I call a monthly "Bonus Packet."  The "Bonus Packet" contains all those "fluff" worksheets that you no longer have time for, bundled together, double-sided, and duplicated for each student.  The "Bonus Packets" are also great for indoor recess.  I make "Bonus Packets" a recess station (I will post on recess stations soon. Thanks for your comments on my photos from the Mr. Moo post!).  I have included these freebies as samples from my Back to School Organization Forms & More Packet and my Back to School Writing Prompts and Activities Packet.  Click {here} and {here} to check out the samples.


I previously posted about my Back To School Organizational Forms and More Packet.  I have since added more to this packet and it's preview download. To check out my previous post and grab another  freebie click {here}!

These graphics are from Scrappin Doodles.  Please, click on the link to check out their great graphics.

Mr. Moo Class Mascot and Classroom Theme Help Needed!

26 July 2011
First, I want to welcome all my new followers and thank everyone for entering the Back to School Bonanza Giveaway!  The response has been overwhelming.

Class Mascot
Now, on to the freebie!  Here is a packet I created for my class mascot, Mr. Moo.  Having a class mascot promotes the home school connection.  Mr. Moo, a cow, went with my classroom theme.  Click on the pictures below to download the file for free from TpT.

Perhaps, cows are not your thing.  Let me offer you an important tip for picking a mascot:  Pick a stuffed animal that you can purchase multiples of.  It will get dirty and not look the same after a year of use.  Webkinz stuffed animals work because they are small, not too expensive, and plentiful.

Classroom Theme Help Needed!
I have had a cow print themed classroom for the past 10 years.  I picked this theme because I found super cheap cow print contact paper.  Well, it just spiraled from there!  Despite telling parents that "my herd was full," I still got tons of cow knickknacks.  I am not a fan of knickknacks.  I like all animals but would not say cows are my favorite.  So this year, I want to change to a new theme but I cannot seem to decide on one.  The cow theme worked out great because black and white was easy to find things in and I was also able to find farm themed items.

The problem is I need a new theme, but I want one where I will not be getting knickknacks.  I also want my classroom to still look cute.  I love the way black bulletin board paper looks and would like to keep something like that.  I wish I could design my own boarders!  I love the color scheme of my blog but have not been able to find borders like that.  I thought about dogs and cats, since I do animal rescue fundraising, but I only found an ugly paw print border at Michael's.  So now I am on to polka dots.  Has anyone seen any cute polka dots borders that would go with black?  Or does anyone have any other ideas?   I joke that my new theme should be "money" because I would not mind if students brought that in!

Click {here} to see more photos of my classroom.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Back to School Activities - Free Sample and Whole Body Listening Download!

21 July 2011
I finally, completed my 71 page Back to School Writing Prompts and Activities packet! Click {here} to check out the packet on TpT.  I have been doing these activities in my classroom for a number of years now.  The packet contains 10 different back to school activities, an extensive back to school picture book list, and four file folder word walls with pictures.  The packet focuses on the first week of school and on establishing classroom rules and routines.  I am a firm believer in establishing rules and routines the first two weeks of school.  This packet reflects that, with over half of it dedicated to activities that will help create an effective classroom environment.  Lessons scaffold off picture books such as First Day Jitters, Know and Follow the Rules, The Little Engine that Could, Hands are Not for Hitting, Words are Not for Hurting, Listen and Learn, Mary Wore Her Red Dress, and Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal.

Have you heard of "Whole Body Listening"?  I have created an eight page free sample around the "Whole Body Listening" section of the packet. Click {here} to download the sample.  My school's exceptional speech therapist introduced it to me 10 years ago.  Our school, is home to our district's ABA program of four classes.  I am the consult/inclusion teacher for first grade and often the mainstreaming classroom for the first grade ABA students.  "Whole Body Listening" is based on an article by Susan Poulette (see below for mor info).  We use a "Whole Body Listening" social story at our school and we use the term for appropriate listening skills.  Social stories work well with ABA students (students on the autism spectrum) to explain appropriate behavior.  Social stories also work well with general education students.  For more information on "Whole Body Listening" download my sample.

*Susanne Poulette, a New York speech pathologist coined the term "Whole-Body Listening" with this article (click {here} to read it): Whole-Body Listening: Developing Active Auditory Skills, Susanne P. Truesdale Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools Vol.21 183-184 July1990.

The Hunger Games

19 July 2011
Did you know the number one selling unit of all time, on Teachers Pay Teachers, was created around a book called The Hunger Games.  The English major/certified English teacher in me had to check out the book.  I did and I loved it!  For the past three days, my life has been consumed with finishing the book.  It is that good!  The book is along the same lines as the The Giver in that it is set in a post-apocalyptic world.  The love triangle will remind you of The Twilight Series or even Wuthering Heights.  I highly recommend reading this book.  I am now on the second book in the trilogy and anticipate another late night of reading.
Click {here} to check out Tracee Orman's famous unit.

Back to School Organizational Forms and Free Celebrations Reminder Book

14 July 2011
I just re-uploaded my Back to School Organizational forms to TpT.  This packet is a 71 page download for $6.  This packet contains essential back to school forms that will make your new school year run smoothly.  Check it out by clicking on the picture below.

Included in this packet is an "Important Dates" organizational book.  It is very similar to the "Celebrations Reminder Book" that I am sharing with you below, with the exception of it having a school theme, rather than a party theme.  Click the picture below, to download your "Celebrations Reminder Book" for FREE!

 Commercial License for font by Lettering Delights
Original Artwork by Alice Smith purchased at

Dr. Seuss Items at Target's Dollar Spot

08 July 2011
Target is my $100 dollar store, because I always end up spending around that much when I go.  It has everything!  I love their large packs of Zone bars, sweatshirts, pet supplies, beach cover-ups, cleaning products, I could go on and on!  Anyway, you must check out these adorable, ONE DOLLAR, small, Dr. Seuss bins I got at the dollar spot at Target.  I plan on using them with Donna Glynn's Dr. Seuss Math and Literacy Unit.  I also grabbed these bookmarks and stickers.  I use the bookmarks and stickers with my Dr. Seuss Take-Home Bag.  They have cute small tote bags and pencils, too!

Click the picture below for directions to my Dr. Seuss Take-Home Bag.

Back from Vacation and States Needed for Postcard Exchange

06 July 2011

Hi Blog friends!  I have been away on vacation on the barrier beach island called Fire Island.  It is close to my house, yet you can only get there by boat, there are no cars on the island.  I stayed in a town called Ocean Beach and had a blast with friends.  I am back to reality for a bit. As, I had so much fun and made new friends that I will be going back again soon.  I will try and respond to all of your emails as soon as I can.

Postcard Exchange States Needed!!! 
Do you see your state?  Would you like to join a postcard exchange?  Mrs. Mathes and Cheryl Sauod are still looking for these states.  Click {here} to hop over to Primary Graffiti to join.
If your state doesn't appear on this graphic, you should link over to Barrow's Hodgepodge.  Mechele has started a second exchange. 

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