Monday, June 12, 2017

I'm A FRAUD!

I'm a fraud...a faker!  My brand/blog name is so WRONG.  I'm definitely not Mrs. D anymore - I haven't been since 2013.......and now I won't be teaching my sweet firsties anymore, either!  Since my divorce in 2013, I've contemplated switching my blog name but got overwhelmed with the amount of time that would take.  But, now that I'm switching grade levels to Kindergarten, none of the parts of my blog name are true anymore.... I feel like it might be time to switch?  Maybe?

Nah...too much work.  You all won't judge, right?

Anywho, I've been working on all things LETTERS.  I know one of my biggest hurdles will be making sure all of my sweet Kindergartners learn all of their letters and sounds.  I have so many great letter identification activities, games, and centers (in my head).

Here's a little freebie for ya... just for fun.  I plan on using these for letter identification in my sensory bin.  You could use them as flashcards for beginning of the year assessments/data, for a write the room activity (when students are identifying letters), or add them to your alphabet anchor charts.... they're pretty simple and versatile! Enjoy!




Friday, June 9, 2017

Am I Crazy?


I've taught first grade for the past 10 years.  I've been lucky to not only be able to stay in the same grade level, but I also got to stay in the same classroom for that time.

BUT....I offered to move down to Kindergarten for the 2017-2018 school year!  Not only will I be switching grade levels after 10 years, I'm also switching classrooms.

I already moved all of my stuff down to my classroom.  Thank goodness for my little first graders who love helping.  They were like my little minions on the last week of school!   But, GEEZ, I didn't realize how much stuff I've accumulated over 10 years in first grade.

So...the idea of teaching Kindergarten KINDA gives me anxiety.  I'm confident in myself as a teacher, but the change freaks me out.  In first grade, I had the standards memorized...I knew what to teach and when to teach it - whether or not I had a pacing guide.  I knew how to differentiate all of the lessons and, with so many years of teaching the same topics, I was able to easily think on my feet and switch it up when things weren't working for my students.  I knew little tricks to teaching certain things.  I knew what worked for those little 7 year old minds.

I won't have the same experience with the content in Kindergarten - but, at this point in my career, I needed a change that scared me a little - which is why I offered to switch grade levels.  But, some days I'm like WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF!?!

Help me out - any amazing Kindergarten teachers that I should be following?!  Any awesome must-have Kindergarten resources on TPT?  Any advice from the veteran Kindergarten teachers??

Thursday, June 8, 2017

A Summer of HOUSE, HOUSE, HOUSE.

It's officially summer break!  I've spent it (so far) by working on my house.

Last year, I had the foundation on my house rebuilt.  Whew, it took all summer and was a WAY bigger project than I ever expected.  Three walls were completely rebuilt, everything was waterproofed, front steps rebuilt, and the sewer pipe was replaced.  With those GOOD things came a lot of mess - they "leveled" the front yard - they just spread clay dirt all over the front yard...ugh.  I didn't have any a/c, most days/nights I had a basement wall completely missing, no kitchen sink for a while, and no washing machine for the summer.   They also had to take down the brick from the side and back of the house because the walls were so cracked- it would've been dangerous to try to hold it up while they rebuilt walls.  So, after everything was finished, my dad and I had to put siding up on the side and back of the house.  No fun at all.

Since everything was torn up - all the flower beds around the house and the entire front yard, my boyfriend and I have spent the last few weeks making it all pretty again.  Thank goodness he's so handy!



Here are pictures from when they were working on the house... oh memories.
 No more front steps!  They also had to replace that patch of brick because it was so messed up.

 That's the corner of the house.... no front or side basement walls.  Thank goodness I live in a safe area because I slept without basement walls MANY nights! Hah.

 This is from the basement, looking outside.

 Enjoying the sunshine and breeze from inside the basement.  ;-)

 This is the front of the house... the part that we've fixed up this summer!

Oh boy....where are the basement walls?!

Now here are some pics of what we've done so far....:-) :-)
 Ignore the sidewalk covered in dirt and mud.  :-)


This little bed needs more mulch, but everything is planted.  Grow bushes, grow!

Next up: paint the shutters, get river rocks delivered for the side by the driveway, and then it's time to work INSIDE the house!

I'm having someone come out to measure for new kitchen cabinets this weekend.  SO.. get ready to see some fun pictures of the kitchen.  You'll love my current 1950's cabinets.  ;-)  Ugh, I can't wait to get rid of them.

I hope you're having a productive summer, too!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why I Won't Be Doing Flexible Seating Next Year...

Before you judge, I'll start by saying more power to you if you love flexible seating!  I'm not trying to put down how amazing it can be for learners - I'm just sharing why I, as a teacher, didn't like MY flexible seating.  :-)

I was lucky enough to get a DonorsChoose project completed for my flexible seating.  Whenever I do a project, I pick things as if I were paying for them - cheap and never enough.  I try to make the project lower in cost, hoping it will be filled.  I never really go overboard or include all of the things needed for the project to run smoothly (example - 10 of these awesome coding mice....but without the 30 necessary batteries...).  It's completely my fault - being cheap and not thinking things out completely.  Well, I did it again with this flexible seating project.

My classroom is already pretty tight and I chose seats that required space (yoga mats)  I didn't pick enough flexible seat options for all of my kids to have a choice (what was I thinking???).  Then, I never really thought about where my students were supposed to store their supplies in my already crammed room.   I put switching to flexible seating off as long as I can because of those things.  But, after months (and when the thank you package was due...haha) I was tired of looking at all of the cool things tucked away in my closet.

One day after dismissal, I just stacked 14 desks in the hallway and carried a long table into my classroom.  I was on a mission!  Oh, and by that time, I had purchased some other options so everyone was able to have a flexible seat.

Here are the different types of flexible seating options I have in my room:







Then I bought: 



I also purchased black seat cushions and crates from Target.  I tied the cushion onto the bottom of the crate, flipped it over, and that's a seat!  I also bought 2 black bath mats from Target .


My opinions on the seating: 
The pink stool is okay.

The table and chairs are WAY too small for first graders.

The yoga mats are not good for a crammed classroom (imagine kids jumping OVER yoga mats landing ON them, and going flying because they are so slippery....no matter how many times that I say !WALK AROUND THE MATS!")

The stools are okay - but cheap, one broke after about a week.

The bouncy bands are great because the kids are in chairs and at a desk when they use them.

The lap desks are a DEFINITE favorite, but I don't have something comfortable for them to sit on while they use them.  I used a foam ABC puzzle mat as a carpet.  It is so frustrating because the pieces come apart almost instantly and end up completely apart by the end of the day.  The lap desks are great though!

The cushions and black mats are not big enough alone, so they are put together as an option.  Those are also a favorite.

The crate seats are okay because they are sitting down at a table.  My students like them, but they would choose the other things before they picked the crates.

The yoga balls are a favorite - but the students get a little crazy when they are in :the zone" and bouncing.  One of my little lovelies accidentally poked it with his pencil on the first day we were using them....so we went from 3 balls to 2 realllly quickly.

Most of the options I have are fun and great for the students.  My students are okay with sprawling out on the floor, sitting on a crate, or even bouncing away on a yoga ball.  BUT...I can't take it!  I feel like I'm crammed and constantly trying not to trip, slip, or slide on things and kids on the floor. Don't get me wrong - it has helped improve focus.  My students wiggle, lay, squat, crouch, bounce, and WORK.  They got a little chatty when they felt the "freedom" of flexible seating.  But, they LOVED being able to move and pick a new seat.  I did not.  I didn't like the clutter and chaos (OCD...).  I got scared for myself and the kids while trying to maneuver around yoga mats, cushions, lap desks, and bath mats.  

So...if you're going to take the flexible seating plunge in the future, think it out!  Plan out where supplies will be kept.  Make sure your room is large enough to handle everything your're getting.  Maybe don't go crazy like me and get a TON of different options - keep it flexible, but simple.

There's always two sides and unfortunately, I'm not on the "I love flexible seating" side!

If you've tried flexible seating or are wanting to try it, I'd love to hear from you!

Monday, February 20, 2017

Sickness and Valentines

For real.  I always get some type of stomach bug or cold around February or March.  It happened again this year.... started out feeling like allergies, turned into a full blown cold, and then BAM...stomach bug.  It was not fun.  But you know what was so fun??

Valentine's Day!

Look at these sweeties sending a love message to their moms and dads!  :-)



We had a blast being all sweet and eating tons of sugar.  :-)  But, having a class party on a Tuesday is tough stuff!

While I was on the couch being all icky sick, I spent some time adding to my huge fluency card growing bundle!  You should check it out!  There are 19 different products in one!  It has word and sentence cards for long vowels, short vowels, digraphs, inflectional endings, vowel teams/patterns....it's a huge deal!  Click on the picture to check out this product!


Enjoy your week!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Grateful :-)

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher.  I used to play "school" in my basement when I was little - my tiny chalkboard hung up on the wall, making worksheets for my mom and sister to complete, and feeling that crazy JOY when I got new pens or markers to grade with.  :-)

I'm so grateful that I followed my childhood dream and was able to make it my adulthood passion!

I'm also SO grateful for DonorsChoose.org.  FOR REAL.  Since my first project in 2010, I've had over 20 projects funded.  I'd say that my students are extremely lucky because they are using and benefiting from the materials I received 7 years ago.

We had 4 more projects funded this year!
 
My class received a bunch of materials that will help make my Math Rotations run more smoothly. Side note - this is my first year doing Math Rotations and I LOVE THEM.  I've always done small group rotations for Reading...but, doing it in Math has helped my students tremendously!








We also got a lot of seating options because I will be switching to flexible seating very soon!  It seems overwhelming for me right now.  How can I have all of my students sitting at chairs and desks and then the next day come in to a room without those chairs and desks we're all used to?! I know my students will do amazing with the switch.  I'm more concerned about LITERALLY how I'm going to move out all of those desks.  ;-)

We also got a project funded that had tons of building/engineering blocks and activities.  My students use these things in the morning as part of their STEAM bin activities.  They also use some of them during inside recess.  They are OBSESSED with these things!


Lastly, we received these super fun coding mice and activity sets.  I need to get to the store for some batteries so these little guys can start moving around.  Here it is:Code & Go Robot Mouse


Anyway, I just thought I'd share some happiness and some of the things I'm grateful for!