Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to School Bash Linky & Giveaway: Open House Ideas

It's the last week of our Back to School Bash Linky Series!  I've so enjoyed getting to know some teacher blogger friends through this process!

This week is all about Open House/Parent Night Ideas!  This year my motto for Open House was Keep It Simple!  Now that I am a parent, I try to think about what I would want to know from my son's teacher, what information I would definitely need to bring home for reference, and what is really not necessary!  I used to make these 10-15 page packets...those were such a stress to type, edit, put together, etc... and I'm guessing most of them were trashed soon after Open House Night!  This year, I bought an editable template for the brightly colored flip books below from Chalk and Apples. These were pretty easy to put together and gave my parents a very easy reference to take home with them.

As a school, we also all put out information provided from the county about math and our assessment schedule for the year.  As a second grade team, we put out our order forms for class shirts and "just right" reading bags, so that we can collect money and orders in one day.

I do present a Power Point during Open House, but it is more of a reference for parents, as after 10 years of Open House presentations, I have a pretty good handle on the typical speech/information.  I like for my presentation to be to the point, but still casual and fun.  I know that I hate sitting in a meeting and having a Power Point read to me...I like to be spoken to, so that's how I try to talk to my parents.

I offer many classroom volunteer opportunities during Open House and I like to simply have everything out for parents to hit at one time!

Here's a look at the WHOOOOOO WANTS TO HELP? form that I use! 

Finally, I do have finalized, typed copies of my students Important Poems from the first week of school, with the kids' first day of school pictures published and in the hall for parents to see.  This is always a favorite keep sake at the end of the year.  

We hope you will link-up with your Open House Ideas, too!  Have an awesome Back to School season!

Hootfully Yours,


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Back to School Bask Week 3: First Week of School Ideas and Plans

Whew!  Last week of school was my first week with kids...by Friday I was crazy tired.  I mean there is nothing, I repeat NOTHING quite like beginning of the year TEACHER TIRED.  I went to bed at 8:45 Friday night.  However, it was a great 1st week, and I have a challenging, but fun group of kids!

Here are a few of the activities and highlights from our first week of school!

So, I know the book First Day Jitters is a beginning of the year favorite, but I have found that many of my students have heard it several times by the time they get to me!  Some of my favorites are above!  After reading, Do Unto Otters, we work as a class to make a list of what RESPECT "looks like", "sounds like", "feels like" and "is not" in our classroom (sorry I didn't get a picture of that)!  We always read Sideways Stories from Wayside School as our first chapter book read aloud.  It is silly and engaging, and I have found it's just a great first read for the year!  Finally, I LOVE reading This School Year will be The BEST!.  My students then create their own imaginative pictures and sentences of what their BEST YEAR would include...these are often a HOOT!

A few years ago, I saw this idea of Class Consensograms from the Ginger Snaps blog.  It is such a cute way to get the kids up and moving, voting on their preferences with a sticker, and learning about each other.  I save these charts all year and then pull them out to create different types of graphs in math throughout the year.  You can use any survey questions you wish, but it is a great way to start learning about your students' interests, learning styles, and more!

We start Reading Workshop on Day 2 of school!  You can NEVER start building independent reading stamina too fast!  I use the plans from my Reading Workshop Launch Unit!  I ask students to bring their favorite book to school on the 3rd day of school.  Then we discuss our books and why they are our favorite and make a list of things we "notice" and have in common about our favorite books!  

Our first writing project is based around The Important Book.  We read the book and then we make a list of the Top 10 Reasons We're Important.  Day 2, I have the students fill in the scaffolded Important Poem Rough Draft Template about themselves.  I then type of up their final poems to display in the hallway for Open House!  This is always a favorite keepsake of my students' parents!

Finally, one of my favorite beginning of the year activities is to have my students create a transformation of a second grade 2.  Look how creative this "monster Pharaoh" is!

This is just a sampling of some of the parts of our first week together!  It was busy, challenging, but oh--so--fun!

This week we have a NEW giveaway for a TPT gift card...a BIG gift card!  Enter our giveaway below for your chance to win!

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I hope that some of you will link up your amazing ideas for the First Week of School!

Hootfully yours,


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Back to School Bash Week 2: Meet the Teacher Ideas

I'm so excited to be co-hosting Week 2 of our Back to School Bash Linky Series and Giveaway!  This week is all about Meet the Teacher Ideas.

For me, the lead-up to this year's Meet the Teacher afternoon (which was last week) was more stressful than normal!  Of course this year I decided to freshen up my classroom and redo a lot of my decor and organization...which was my own doing!  However, on top of that, we had all-day, off-campus professional development the DAY BEFORE Meet the Teacher, and I couldn't get my little guy from the babysitter and back to school before the building closed for the evening...

...SO, I figured that if I just got to school earlier enough Thursday morning, with the help of my amazing mom, I could easily be done with my to-do list before Meet & Greet (that's what we call Meet the Teacher) started at 2:30.  So I open my classroom door at 7:30 am, to find an entire bulletin board board, which had been carefully secured to the wall with extra tape 2 days before laying in a heap on the ground.  A child had been added to my class list at the last moment...after I had printed everything with adorable fonts at home.  No problem, I'll just create another name tag, etc. on my personal lap top, e-mail it to my school laptop (which has NO cute fonts), and print it from there.  Oh we have NO internet connection, the entire school server is down, and there is NOT ONE working printer in our entire school building!  Insert near panic attack!  Somehow, almost everything got done, and Meet & Greet came and went without anyone knowing of all the little snafus along the way.

Here's a peek at my Meet & Greet:

Student Treats & What's on Their Desks:
So who doesn't love balloons?!?  Each of my new owlets gets to take home an "owl" balloon from Meet & Greet!  I order and pay for my balloons (in the colors of my classroom) a few days before Meet & Greet and pick them up a few hours before the big event.  I then tape simple eyes and a beak to each balloon and VOILA! you've got a floating owl!  Seeing a whole parliament of owl balloons floating across my room definitely fills my heart with joy!  On each students desk, I place his/her name tag, basic student info cards for parents to complete, a gift Frisbee for students, which has an owl decal on the front and says "Thanks for flying in!" on the back.  They also get a labeled lunch bag with a homework tag.  This is their "HOOT about Me" bag, which is to be decorated and filled with pictures or small items which tell about the child.  I ask these bags to come in on the first day of school, so that student have an opportunity to share about themselves!

On the Board:
On the board, I had to hand write a note with directions for the parents and students...it wasn't my first choice, but as I usually type up a message on my class blog, and we had no internet connection, I had to flex at the last moment.  I also projected a copy, with visuals, of how I wanted students to unpack their school supplies--I didn't create this list, a teammate did--but I find it to be simple enough for my students to follow pretty independently, while their parents are filling out information.  I also put my class Wish List on the board, and ask for parents to take an owl or two to donate to our class!

Here's a picture of pre-labeled supply bins for our community school supplies.  

Here is a picture of how my table groups look with parent paperwork and student gifts and homework on them!  I like to go with the whole "less is more" mentality!

All of my new little owlets got their name on an owl on our bulletin board tree before Meet & Greet (above) and on the body of our owl on the door (below)!  I also pulled up my blog for parents to follow while they were in class--my desktops had sporadic internet connection!  I included a QR code with our blog link, that parents could simply scan with their smart phones, too!

Finally, I signed up this year for the FREE APP Remind!  It's a great system for sending text alerts to parents without them getting your personal cell number!  I've never tried this system before...but I'm excited to give it a whirl this year!  So, I downloaded the sign-up flier, copied it, and had it ready for my parents to take home!

Overall, it was a GREAT Meet & Greet!  My room looked the best it ever has before, and I felt so pleased with how smoothly everything went!  I look forward to reading everybody's awesome Meet the Teacher Ideas---so link-up with us this week!

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Also, don't forget that our giveaway ends at the end of this week!  You won't want to miss this TPT bundle of awesome resources!  

Hootfully yours,


Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Back to School BASH! Week 1: Classroom Set-Up and Organization

Welcome to the 2015-2016 School Year!  Wow!  I can't believe how FAST this summer flew by, but I've had a few days to get back into the swing of things during pre-planning at my school!  I'm so excited to be partnering up with some of my new blogger buddies to bring to you a BACK TO SCHOOL BASH Linky Series and Giveaway!

This week, we're going to share all about our Classroom Set-Ups and Organization!  Here's a peek into my 2015-2016 Classroom:  SPOILER ALERT---My Room is a WORK IN PROGRESS!  The past few years, I've made little to no changes to my classroom decor and set-up, as I was very sick after having my little boy, and I simply couldn't put together something new on my own.

This year, I wanted to keep with my owls theme, but make it brighter, more colorful, and just re-vamp my whole look for a fresher, more chic style.  Therefore, I recreated my own owl decor and added my 2 other loves:  burlap and bunting!  Here's what I've got so far:

So for my only true bulletin board in my classroom, I've used a beautiful avocado burlap on the back of my board with hot pink and brown border!  I love the pop of pink.  The tree in the middle is made of wood-grain contact paper.  It is to have bright, patterned leaves and little owls with my students' names on them!  I am in love with the burlap Writing and Word Study bunting banners my mom made as headers!  I *BIG PUFFY HEART* burlap & bunting!  Above my boards is my 0-100 number line and my brand new Bright Owls Alphabet--I bit the bullet and paid to print my new owl decor at Office Max and it was worth every penny!  The colors really POP and I didn't use 6 ink cartridges!

The heart & soul of my classroom is my library!  I am a BOOK hoarder...I mean this is a call A&E and sign me up for Intervention book buyer situation.  I am also very particular about how I organize and keep my books.  I am a teeny-tiny bit OCD, so I use a simple color-coding system.  Pink book bins = series books, green book bins = fictional books (leveled and non-leveled) and blue book bins = nonfiction books (leveled and non-leveled).  Since many owls live in trees, I simply had to use my huge IKEA leaves to create an "under the trees" feel when reading.  What you can't see are my bright, movable milk crate seats, which my students LOVE moving all over the room to read!

Here is my new math wall, game organization bins, and manipulative organization system!  My kids play A LOT of math games.  We do something similar to "Daily 5 Math", but with my own spin on it!  I plan to blog soon all about how I handle math workshop!  Below is a close-up of my math game storage!

This is half of my magnetic white board, which I have set-up with manipulative Fundations sound cards, a new area to turn-in work, and my math group assignments.  I have my new Bright Owls Ten Frames above my white boards!

Here is my small group area, with my guided reading materials in a shelf behind my chair.  Disregard the complete mess on the counter behind my table.  After I finish this section of my room, I'll post more pictures here!

Last but not least, I've included a close-up of my student writing supplies station!  This includes paper choices, construction paper for publishing, and all of our extra class supplies!

I hope to post later how I organize my teacher space and more, but I am so proud of how much I've gotten accomplished on my revamp in 2 short days!  It would not have happened without all of the help from my AMAZING family!

So, when I asked for some help co-hosting this Linky Series, I was blown away that so many teacher friends would want to help!  So, we decided to do a few little giveaways.  The first is for a BUNDLE of some of our FAVORITE TPT Products from our stores!  Get in on the Giveaway Action by entering below!  This giveaway will close on Friday, August 7, 2015!

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Please feel free to link-up with us and share your AMAZING Classroom Set-Up and Organization Ideas!  We simply ask that you follow these simple rules:
  • Save the images above and use them on your post to link back to our party!
  • Enter your link below and encourage your friends to do the same!
  • Be a friendly blogger--> visit other blogs in the Linky party and leave thoughtful commentary to the 2 blogs ahead of you and at least 1 behind you!
I'm excited to hear from all of you!

Hootfully yours,


Friday, July 10, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: Make Your MASTERPIECE!

So I'm a little late in posting my Week 3 Challenge:  Make Your Masterpiece, but I'm excited to be sharing with you what I've been working on!  Thanks again to Sparkling in SecondThird in HollywoodPeppy, Zesty Teacherista, and Teach, Create, Motivate  for hosting this challenge!

So, truth be told, I fell in LOVE with OWLS and chose an owl theme long before any of the major school supply companies developed classroom decoration items with OWLS on them.  So, when I set up my Owl Themed room several years ago, I pieced my owl "stuff" together.  Some I made in Word (GASP!) and some I bought.  Over the last few years, more and more cute stuff has come out, but it still didn't fit my colors, personality, etc. perfectly.  Then, my all-time favorite Clip Art Designer, Krista Wallden, designer of Creative Clips, started coming out with owl clips that matched her other bright colors, and I decided to start redoing my owl decor.  Thus, my Make Your Masterpiece Challenge!


So far I have created the following sets:

This set includes full-sized, owl-themed, alphabet posters & directions for printing 2 and 4 to a page!

This set includes 28 labeled class job cards, 4 blank job cards, and Owl Name Circles for assigning student jobs.  This works perfectly in a pocket chart or on your board!

This includes 14 different name plate options, each with a blank and lined version!  Editable tags coming soon!

This includes #1-20, as full-paged posters, but I did include directions for printing more to a page in a smaller size.

These Owl Themed Table and Center Sign Pennants will be perfect hanging from a paper lantern over your tables and centers! Included are Owl Table Pennants for Tables 1-12, Center Signs for 12 Centers, and 6 Blank Pennants. This is perfect for labeling and organizing your owl themed classroom!

This includes 26 circular Word Wall Headers and 6 blank owl circles for customizing your Word Wall and/or book bins!

Coming soon:  Bright Owls Welcome Banner, Bright Owls Calendar Set, Bright Owls Supply Labels & Editable Labels, and Bright Owl Schedule Kit.  After these additional sets are completed, I will also be BUNDLING the WHOLE owl decor set!

I know that there are many owl decor sets on TPT and in stores these days.  However, this set matches my style and personality, and is finally a cohesive, bright, and cheerful collection to tie my whole room together.  I am very proud of how it is turning out, and I'm so glad that I finally found the time and push to get it in the works!

What other items do you look for in a classroom decor kit?

Hootfully yours,

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Tell All Tuesday: Top 10 List

I'm linking up again with My Day in K and Teach. Talk. Inspire. for Tell All Tuesday! This week's post is a Letterman Style Top 10 List...Top 10 Things Teaching has Taught Me!

Here's my Top 10 List:

10.  It doesn't matter WHAT has been happening in your day.  You could have had the MOST engaging, well-planned and executed day of teaching in the history of education...you're administrator(s) won't walk in during those brilliant moment.  However, he/she will walk in after you've just finished, or when you've sat down for 2 seconds to respond to an e-mail, or when a student is in the middle of a mega-meltdown!

9.  It's true...you'll never make everyone happy!  It's an important lesson to learn.  Your choices, lessons, time, etc. will always upset someone...it's ok!

8.  Kids say the MOST hilarious things.  Some are stories about home that their parents would be mortified they shared...sometimes it's a wild tale from their imagination...sometimes it's a word/phrase/joke they misunderstood.  WRITE THESE THINGS DOWN!  On your bad days...it's nice to go back and reread these funny things.  My personal favorite...my students were discussing their Zodiac signs... in relation to constellations...one of my kids told me he wasn't a Pisces...he was a vegetarian!

7.  I mean it...never stop buying books and school supplies...especially books!

6.  Kids NEED to play, laugh, and create EVERY DAY.  Academics are important, but time to be a kids is just as important!  So PLAY, LAUGH, and CREATE with them!

5.  You know that kid who is so poorly behaved and challenging...the one who gives you headaches/sleepless nights/ and more.  Well, he/she NEEDS YOU!  So so a prayer for patience and guidance and give them your love and attention!

4.  Don't plan on making a last minute copy or copies...the copier will be broken.

3.  If you're like me, you probably spend more time at school than you do at home with your family most days... learn to love and get along with your teammate...they'll be the ones to help you get through your long, trying days!

2.  There truly is nothing better than seeing a child's light bulb moment.  Maybe, it's when a child reads independently, ties his/her shoes for the first time, publishes his/her first story, or becomes an independent worker/thinker---it's the best and it's why we do what we do!

1.  I have "kids" who are entering college this fall.  They were my first babies...the first group to enter my heart...and they're still my babies.  No matter how many classes and students come and go...YOUR KIDS will always have a piece of you and you will always have a part of them.

Hootfully yours,


Friday, July 3, 2015

Pick 3 Pinterest Party: July

It's time to grab some summer inspiration for the month of July, and there is no better way than checking out the Pinterest Pick 3 Party with Inspired Owl's Corner and Pawsitively Teaching.  Here are some of my favorite Pinterest Picks for July!

My first pick is from the amazing Dating Divas...my husband, son, and I will be leaving next Saturday to travel with my parents and nephew to beautiful Jekyll Island, which is about a 6 hour car trip.  I LOVED the good old travel games of years past, and found these free printables, to help keep us all busy and engaged on the way down!--Plus, it helps feed my competitive streak!

My favorite thing about being home during the summer is getting to be home with my handsome, curious, funny, little guy.  He is in the "getting into everything" stage of life...and although it can be exhausting, it is so much fun to see him exploring the world and figuring things out.  I loved some of the ideas found on this pin, for keeping him busy, learning, and excited about life!  I can't wait to try some of these out!

I can't wait to try out these campfire cones as a sweet treat on the beach!  I love that you can make individual "s'mores treats" with any ingredients you love!  I'm thinking peanut butter, dark chocolate, and marshmallows will be going into mine!

Don't forget to check out these other awesome blogs at the bottom of this post to check out what they have pinned for July!

Hootfully yours,