Back to School Organizational Forms and Activities

26 June 2012
I have updated my Back to School Organizationalpacket to include a link to an editable Word doc for pages where it would be useful to type in. You can check out the packet by clicking (here). My Back to School Writing Prompts and Activities packet was a big hit last year. You can check it out by clicking (here). I am sorry for the lack of images. I am away on vacation and trying to do this post on my IPad. I won't be able to update any products or respond to TpT comments for about two weeks. Enjoy the start of your summer and have a happy and safe 4th of July! I will miss it here in Italy! Ciao!

Two Days Left of School and Updates!

20 June 2012
End of the Year!
It is finally hot in NY!  Luckily we only have two days left of school.  We don't have AC in our classrooms unless there is a medical reason for a child to have it.  So, it has been a grueling last week.  I am changing classrooms rooms (not grades) and have been busy packing and weeding through all my cr*p.  I put a ton of stuff in a "Free Take Me" bin in our faculty room.  Someone actually took the actual bin!  No worries, it was tracked down and put back in the faculty room and jammed with my stuff and that of other teachers trying to streamline.  

I bought my students bug nets from Dollar Tree and insect themed books from Scholastic.  My friend Cara helped me out with this.  She suggested writing "Thanks for catching the first grade bug!"  You can download the tags by clicking the picture above.  

Look at this adorable pencil flower pot a parent made me!  She hand punched the flowers and glued them together.  Then she glued them on pencils.  It is nice to be appreciated!  I am happy with a kind note from a parent, but this was above and beyond!

Each year, I save all the kind parent notes with a Shutterfly photo book that I make.  I originally make the photo books to give to my two class-parents.  I tweak each one so that they are personalized for that parent.  It takes a long time to make the book, but the class-parents really appreciate it.  Once I am done, I put a generic version of the photo book on my Shutterfly site for the other parents to order.   I wish I could share mine with you, but I don't feel comfortable sharing my students photos on my blog without permission from their parents.  

My Primary Colored Polka Dot Classroom Labels & Signs Pack is done and uploaded to TpT.  Click the cover to check it out.  I am working on the coordinating packs and on adding more words to my bright polka dot word wall pack.  Click {here} to see the post on my bright packs and you can get an idea of what I will be creating.  Be sure to follow my TpT store and Facebook Fan Page to be alerted when I post the new items.  

I started a Learning to Listen Linky Party over at Blog Hoppin'.   Click the picture below to link up!

Personal Updates!

I just started Tweeting!  Click {here} to follow me. 

Look what came in the mail today!
I cannot wait to try it out.  I am sure I can do all sorts of things with my new Cameo!  If you look at the tags I made for the end of the year gift, I had to hand cut the circles, because my punch jammed up!  I am hoping that this beauty will eliminate that problem!  To see what the Cameo can do and get a discount, click {here}.   Leea over at Set this Circus Down has a great Pinterest board on the Silhouette ideas, click {here} to check it out.  

I became a Godmother for the first time!  My best friend since high school chose me to be the Godmother for her gorgeous daughter, Hayden.  She was christenend in St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in NYC.  It is the oldest Catholic Church in NYC and it was just beautiful.  Hayden was great the entire time, well until my mom tried to hold her.  She started wailing!  It was so funny.  I took a picture, but I think my mom will be mad at me if I post it here...haha. 

I will be going to Italy soon after school ends.  I won't be able to answer emails or blog from there.  So please don't think I am ignoring you!

Pet Updates!
It's boating season!  My pups are enjoying the nautical life. 
Sophie and Niles, pre-summer cuts
Sophie and Niles after their summer cuts and wearing protective clothing.  I don't want my babies getting sun burns!

My cat Ella got a summer cut, too!  I think she looks like a "Bobble Head!"  I am glad she is cool and not shedding all over the place. 

"The girls" are spending the end of June and July with a student and his family!  Can you say "THANK YOU" and "PTL" (Praise the Lord as my pal Abby woud say)!  I would not want my cousin to have to watch them too while I was in Italy.  

I hope you are enjoying your summer or last few days of school! 

Getting Students to Listen

09 June 2012

Teaching students to listen is no easy task. Sometimes, I feel like I am trying to herd a bunch of cats! I use a “Whole Body Listening” poster in my classroom.  The speech pathologists and ABA teachers at my school introduced me to “Whole Body Listening.”  They use a Whole Body Listening Social Story they created through Boardmaker to give the students an idea of what whole body listening looks like.  The idea behind the social story is based on an article written by Susanne Poulette (Truesdale) called “Whole-Body Listening: Developing Active Auditory Skills.”  As you know, many students on the spectrum struggle with eye contact while speaking.  I have found that through my years of mainstreaming, the social story worked well for all of my students.  It is a great way to remind students of what active listening involves.  I decided to make these posters to refer to when I wanted my students to actively listen.  The mini-posters can be cut laminated and taped down to students’ desk.  These are great for non-verbal cues.  Now, when I need students to listen, I simply say “Whole Body Listening.” Click the picture above to download my posters and class-made book activity for free.  

I have always used this book, Listen and Learn by Cheri J. Meiners as an introduction to listening in my classroom. 

Another adorable book is called Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen by Howard Binkow.

Through a bit more internet searching, I found this book called Whole Body Listening Larry at School!.  It was also inspired by Susanne Poulette's article.  I think this book would be great to read to your students on the first few days of school.  

Please, do not make "Whole Body Listening" a rule.  Most students cannot sit still for long periods of time.   In my own classroom, I allow students to stand to do do work as long as they push their chair in and stand behind it.  I find they like to stand during center time and while creating art projects.  I also ask my OT therapists to borrow "Movin' Sit Cushions,"  these help the especially fidgety children by letting them bounce or move a bit in their chair while still sitting down.  Another tip would be to place Velcro inside the student's desk.  He/ she can run his/her fingers along the soft and hard Velcro instead of playing with things in his/her desk. 

I hope these freebies help your students!

For more listening ideas and to link up with yours, go to Blog Hoppin' by clicking below.

Here is a link for an article about Susanne Poulette. 

*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 July 1990.

Bright Polka Dot Classroom Decor: Updates

06 June 2012
I am loving all the positive feedback I am getting on my Bright Polka Dot Classroom decor packs!  Thank you!  Thank you!  I actually first made them for my own classroom.  Last August, I decided to get rid of the cow print I had for ten years and go to bright polka dots.  Selling the packets on TpT has been an added bonus!  I thought I would let you know about some updates.  As always, feel free to Pin!

This picture from my Shutterfly site, is a big hit on Pinterest!  The organizer is actually a utensil organizer from CVS.  I hot glued ribbon around it and glued my table label to the front.  The labels can be found in my Polka Dot Classroom Labels and Signs packet by clicking {here}.

Here are a few other Pinterest fan favorites included in my Polka Dot Classroom Labels and Signs packet:

These two posters are  included for FREE in my sample for the packet!  Click {here} to check it out on TpT.  Click download the preview to get the FREE posters. 

This Whole Body Listening FREE poster was inspired by the speech pathologists and ABA teachers at my school.  They use a Whole Body Listening Social Story they created through Boardmaker to give the students an idea of what whole body listening looks like.  As you know, many students on the spectrum struggle with eye-contact while speaking.  I have found that through my years of mainstreaming, the social story worked well for all of my students.  So I decided to make a poster instead of social story to remind them.   Through a bit more internet searching, I found this book called Whole Body Listening Larry at School!.  I think this book would be great to read to your students on the first few days of school.  
The authors of the book linked the idea to an article written by this New York Speech Pathologist, Susanne Poulette

I had a lot of requests to add more words to my Polka Dot Word Wall Words.  I add a ton more words, the packet now has 360 words total.  Please, re-download the packet or check it out on TpT by clicking {here}.

The Word Wall Labels above (Aa, Bb, etc.), can be found by clicking {here}.  The "Word Wall" Punched out letters are from Frog Street Press, they are called "Sassy Fonts." 

These labels are available in my Leveled Library Label Packet (click {here}).

Another request I had, was to add "Look Who's Been Spotted in Pre-K" to my Door Decor Packet.  Click {here} to check it out on TpT!  I have also made this packet editable.

I tried to save myself some ink on this one and did not place a colored background behind or around the jobs.  Instead, I cut the jobs and mounted them on bright scrapbook paper. The color circles around the hands match the colors in my other polka dot packets.  I had  requests to add more numbers to the packet and more jobs.  I updated it, so check it out and/or re-download.  Click {here} to check out my classroom jobs packet. 

I am taking inspiration from School Girl Style and trying wrapping paper as bulletin board paper next year.  Check out these cool cheap finds.  

If bright colors are not your thing, hang tight!  I am working on a primary colored polka dot line of decor.   The primary labels and signs pack is out now, click the picture to check it out.  Be sure to follow my TpT store, so you are alerted when the coordinating packs are finished. 

First Grade Spring Exhibit

03 June 2012
This post is way overdue!  We had Spring Exhibit on May 15th and our theme was ants and plants.  I threw in a few other things, of course!

I hope you enjoy the photos and links.
Click {here} to check out this packet on TpT.  

For more information on making class-made books, click {here}.

The Spring writing can be found {here}, it does not include the bird art center.  Though, I think you should be able to figure out how to make the bird from the directions and the pictures. 

Click {here} to check out Miss Kindergarten's Garden Buddies and click {here} to check out My Seed to Plant Project.  
These flap books are in the Me On the Map packet (click {here}) by The Clutter-Free Classroom.

 These letters and projects are from Sarah Cooley's Pigeon Perfect packet.  Click {here} to check it out.

For my post on "Ants," click {here}.  To check out my ant packet on TpT, click {here}.

I hope you enjoyed my peek at Spring Exhibit!

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