Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Year of Sundays

I can't believe that Chelsea and I have been doing this project since February and it is almost May! Remember, this photography project got started because Chelsea from 5th Grade Wit and Whimsy and I both shared a love for photography. We both love to capture small moments that get easily overlooked otherwise.  We never discuss the photographs ahead of time and our only guidelines is that it has to be taken on a Sunday.  I love this project because as I am looking through our older pictures, I know exactly what I was doing that day even though it was months ago.  If I wasn't taking pictures, I would lose many of these memories just due to our daily grind and distractions. My pictures are always on the left and Chelsea's are always on the right. :)

Sunday, April 13th:
Donuts and Poppies

Sunday, April 20th:
Easter Eggs and Frozen Yogurt

Sunday, April 27th:
Sneaky Bird and Doggie Blanket

Saturday, April 26, 2014

End of the Day Clean Up Routine

Because of budget cuts, our janitorial staff has been significantly downsized. We went months without getting vacuumed and we still to this day have to put our trashcans in the hallway so that the junior high students can come around to empty our trash during the school day. My teammates and I decided to come up with a system so that even though we weren't getting regular cleanings, our rooms weren't complete disaster zones.

ENTER the stickers.

I have seen these stickers floating around bloggy land for a while now and had never used them in my classroom.
We put an even amount of colored labels on all of the desks and then covered them with packing tape so they wouldn't get torn off or mangled.

Every color was assigned an end of the day job. We thought about the places that accumulate the most mess around the room and decided on the following tasks: straighten the desks, pick up trash off the floor, clean/wipe down the counters (including the larger small group table) and cubbies, and wipe down the desks with sanitizing wipes.

These jobs are easily changeable to whatever the needs are for your classroom.

A few minutes before the bell rings, I have the students start their clean up procedure. It is done quickly and quietly and every one has a job to do. It took a lot of training to get them to the point that they would be able to do this without constant reminders and supervision.  I have to be honest though that when a guest teacher is in my classroom, it doesn't go quite so smoothly...

As the year has progressed I have created some "special" jobs for my students who have difficulties, ummm, following directions to put it mildly.  You know little Jumpin' Johnny or Busy Betsy, you get the picture, just give them a job to do and keep it consistent (like wiping down the sink or erasing the learning targets, something, ANYTHING).

I absolutely love this routine! Not only does it give a structured, consistent ending to our day everyday but it also helps our classroom stay spankin' clean!

Here's a little freebie...

I made a little sign for my classroom so that the students will always know what their job is especially if we switch seats. We made little nicknames for each of the jobs so please don't judge our attempt at creativity.

Click here to download. :)

You can use these stickers for soooo much more too! Cooperative learning groups, accountability purposes by calling on a "color" to answer a question... the sky's the limit!

Do you have an end of the day cleaning routine? If you do, I would love to hear about it. Enjoy the freebie!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five for Friday

I am so so SO happy it is Friday! This week felt so long and I am pretty sure all weeks will until the end of school. Only 20 more school days left, people!

***Side Note: To be honest, this group that I have this year is so wonderful. They are my little sugar plums. I will probably be crying buckets on the last day of school.

Here are my top 5 from this week:::::

George and I ate at a waffle food truck last night. It was incredible. I can not even tell you all how amazing it is. I try not to eat sweets that often so this was in pretty rare form for me and I was definitely going to document it.  George got something called the Scoop and I got something called the Mellow.  If any of you live in Phoenix, you have to check out the Waffle Crush food truck.

I finally put up my gallery wall in my living room. It's not done yet; I still have a few more things to hang, but I am so happy that these frames are on the wall finally and not on the *ahem* floor collecting dust.

I went DSW and fell in love.  These shoes are perfect and make me smile! They don't make my feet smile yet though, but they'll come around.

We finished up our Reading AZAC tests this week and our kids rocked it! We take ours on the computers so the kids can see their score immediately which is a huge motivator for them. I love seeing how excited they get and celebrating with them. One kid almost moved me to tears he was so happy with himself and his progress.

I get to hang out with these cutie pies all weekend and nothing is better than that. :)

Be sure to link up with Doodle Bug's Teaching Blog to blog about your Five for Friday!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

State Testing Bulletin Board Idea

Don't you just love state testing?? The stress, the pressure, ah, just exhilarating! We just finished up our state testing a week ago and I am SOO glad it is over.
This is a little bulletin board that we whipped up last year and reused this year.  It looked a lot cuter last year because it got a little torn while being stored (note the sad little plate corner on the bottom left hand side).
You could easily recreate this, all you need is some butcher paper, die cut letters, aluminum foil, cotton batting, and some will power.

This has also been hung crookedly. Look past all of the imperfections. :)  Our parent volunteer made this for us last year and I love how huge it is. The kids were so excited to see it up and some of them had remembered it from last year.

On the fork is our team's last names which I thought was such a cute touch.

The cotton batting is just glued on to the butcher paper for a 3D effect of the whipped cream.

Last year, we made sprinkles and had each kid write a test taking strategy on one. So in the end, the top of the cake, whipped cream, and plate were all covered with words of wisdom. Some examples were like "eat a healthy breakfast the morning of the test" or "skip a question if you are stuck and come back to it later". It was really cute. I wish we had the time this year to have done that so I could have a picture for you.

Below is a template you can use for the sprinkles, however, I would recommend cutting them out of a cutting machine (like a Cricut or a Silhouette Cameo) other wise you (or your students) might be cutting for days depending on how many students you have. They are pretty big "sprinkles" but you have to remember that your cake should be HUGE! The bigger the better!

Click here to download the free sprinkles template.

What do you do to motivate your students for state testing? I hope you all can use and enjoy this idea!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! We are getting ready to celebrate all day long with our family and friends.  Since George's parents are divorced, we often have two different celebrations every holiday. My parents live in Texas otherwise we would be having three today! That's a whole lotta food (not that I'm complaining...).

I was in charge of desserts for the first stop on our Easter food bonanza. Here's what I made...

Frozen Key Lime Pie - find the recipe here. My limes look a little gross since they have been in the freezer. I will probably replace those with fresh limes when we leave.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Cupcakes - find the recipe here. I used a German Chocolate cake box mix for the actual cake part because I made homemade caramel sauce. I had to cut myself a break somewhere! I hope Martha Stewart doesn't read this.

I hope everyone has a fabulous day filled with love and happiness!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cute Teacher Gift

I am so lucky to teach in a wonderful community where the parents are very supportive and generous.  I have worked at a Title 1 school for many years previously, so I know how good I have it; trust me! My teaching partner got the cutest gift at the beginning of the year and of course I am just now getting around to share it (impressive, I know).

**Sorry in advance for the blurry phone photos.**

My teacher friend was gifted with this at the beginning of the year.  It's definitely was bought like this, but you could always take any glass jar, hot glue it to a cheap candlestick holder from a thrift store, spray paint it, and add a knob. Super easy! It came with candy, kind of basic, but just wait until you see what the parent does from holiday to holiday.

Every holiday, the parent sends in themed candy, a ribbon, and another decorative item to hang from the jar.  The ribbon and decorative item (if included) gets tied on the knob at the top and the candy goes in the jar.

On Halloween, she got this cute ribbon, the "EEK" sign, and Halloween candy (not pictured because, yeah, I am sure you can assume what happened with that...)

On Valentine's Day, she got these M&M's to put into her jar along with the heart ribbon.

What is so cool about this is that it really keep you guessing for what you will get every holiday and is very versatile.  This candy jar always looks so cute on display in my friend's classroom.  What do you think? I was hoping to do this over the summer and oomph it up a little and post about it. We'll see if that actually gets accomplished! Haha! Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Year of Sundays

I have been getting behind with my Year of Sundays project with the wonderful Chelsea @ 5th Grade Wit and Whimsy! We have both been so busy, but still trucking along with our year long project.  I was worried that I was taking too many plant based/outdoorsy pictures lately, but Chelsea made a good point that when we look back on these pictures they represent what time of the year it is and that is part of the fun! (P.S. Some might think the previous sentence is a run-on sentence, but I prefer to think of it as excited wordiness.)

Remember my picture is always on the left and Chelsea's is always on the right.

March 23rd:

March 30th:

April 6th:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spring Time

There is something so magical about Phoenix in the spring!  The weather is beautiful and the world is cheerful. Off to ride my bike, listen to music, and enjoy this gorgeous weather.  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!