Saturday, December 21, 2013

Merry Christmas!

It has been a LONG time since a post. Just wanted to drop by and say Merry Christmas! We had VERY busy weeks leading up to the break. We traveled to many countries to learn about holiday traditions, decorated gingerbread cookies, candy cane investigations and so much more!

The biggest addition to our classroom was a 3D printer!!! I just posted a video on my Facebook page. Make sure you check it out at If you are not following the page, start today!!! Lots of updates and freebies to debut SOON!!

Enjoy your WELL DESERVED break!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lightning Fast- Sight Word Style

Learning/teaching sight words can be a hair pulling task for some of our little words. We know they need to know these words but for whatever reason some just have the hardest time identifying these words. Some just need extra practice as school because sadly they do not receive it at home. Quite frankly, I have been getting tired of practicing sight words using dry erase boards, magnetic letters, play doh, singing/cheering etc. My kiddos (and me!) NEEDED something new.

So I began brainstorming so ideas for my kiddos to practice their sight words. I wanted something that would be easy for any volunteer to come in, grab and be able to implement without giving directions. I wanted something that I could easily add into my word work for them to work with a buddy. I wanted it to be EASY. So I have begun my sight word games. Each game I have made so far have  fun thematic graphics (thanksgiving, christmas, winter) but most importantly has the same format and rules. I have added fun cards that will get the kiddos laughing and learning and wanting to learn their sight words fast to win the games. (this is my hope! :))

Every game includes the same 100 words. This allows you flexibility to choose words your students need to work on during each "theme."

Now since it is the season of giving, I have 2 gifts for you! The first gift is: The Sight Word Gobble Game is FREE (for the next couple of hours!) Several of you have taken advantage of this gift since you are already fans of the facebook page! If you are not a fan yet, make sure you hop over so you know of all fan only specials!
Click here to get this game for FREE!

My second gift to you is: The Bundle Pack will be discounted for the next several hours! This pack WILL be updated with me themes...great time to buy at a low price and be able to get the updates!
Click here for the bundle!

Need additional words? NO WORRIES! I have included blank cards in each pack that will allow you to add more words. Do you have several words that you would like added? Leave a comment and if there are several people needed those words, I will add them to each game pack!

Happy sightwording!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Busy Time of the Year!

WHEW! September, October and November are some of my most favorite months in the classrooms but boy are they busy! The weather is getting cooler, full moons, Halloween and getting closer to Christmas makes for hyper kiddos and tired teacher aka less blog posting! BUT I would not have it any other way!

With the full implementation of Common Core, I feel like I am constantly asking questions and asking for more explanation on WHY. This is HARD for these kinders babies but I have to admit we are making headway and I am SO PROUD of what these little ones can do. The other day when we were working on fewer than one little girl was able to explain that 4 was 2 fewer than 6 because 4 plus 2 is 6. WOAH! I was impressed needless to say. And we always just have those funny moments and I want to share one with you! While we were working on 2 fewer in math, I ask of my kiddos to explain WHY she thought 5 was 2 fewer than 7. Her answer?: Because Mrs. Farr I KNOW 5 is 2 fewer than 7 because I am just SMART!. GOTTA LOVE IT!!!! It may feel like we are pulling teeth and want to pull our hair out when trying to get our babies to explain or even understand but just step back and enjoy the process. We are going to get it!

On another note. I am putting together a sight word game packet. Some of my kiddos really need additional help with their sight words and my hope is that I will have a bucket prepared with games easy to follow for volunteers in my room to work with them. Right now I have close to 100 words that will be included in this packet so be on the look out if you are needing some new sight word games!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Write on!

Today, I took a deep breath and introduced Work on Writing. My students cheered when I turned over and introduced a new choice. They were so excited to learn what this choice would entail and begin working. I, on the other hand, was a bit apprehensive and nervous to how my students would handle WOW. It is a big deal for a 5 year old to start putting thoughts to paper and forming a sentence. So I put on my big girl panties and dove in head first and boy did my students prove me wrong today!

We had so much fun talking about why Work on Writing was so important. They named some of their favorite authors and of course Dr. Seuss was on the top of the list. Many said they wanted to be famous just like him. This led to a great discussion of how Dr. Seuss became a famous writer and all the time and effort he took to practice writing. Now all of my students want to be famous just like Dr. Seuss. They were ready to put the pen to the paper and start writing! But where would I start them? And how could I help them become successful?

Thanks to my fabulous teammates, we decided starting our children off with SIMPLE writing prompts would be the way to go. This gave them some direction and allowed their thoughts to start flowing. Eventually, they will not need this.
So they had the choice of:
 I love....
My mom....
My dad....

We brainstormed lots of ideas and things we could write about. And boy were they ready to go. I was still way nervous to let them go. But we kept going and I let my students choose the speed. I showed them where the materials where, where to find their special Daily 5 journal and reviewed our working spots in the room. One by one, my students got their materials, chose a spot and opened their journals to start. I was FLOORED! I thought for sure SOMEONE would yell out they didn't know how to write. PHEW, maybe all those anchor charts and modeling and building confidence really worked this year!

The noise level was not appropriate work time and I was not going to allow that to continue so I quickly gave my signal and my students came back to the carpet. We talked about all of the awesome things I noticed and some things to work on. They were then begging to go back and finish. So what kind of teacher would I be if I didn't allow them to?

We gave the signal and my students went to work. We practiced a total of 3 times this morning and they built their stamina to an amazing 7 minutes! I was so proud of every one of them. Some did a great job writing a sentence and using spaces and some need some extra guidance but overall they did fabulous. I cannot wait to see how their writing grows throughout the year!

Did you try something new today? What have had to put your big girl or big boy panties on for?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Anchoring our Learning!

Who LOVES anchor charts?! I am all about a great anchor chart that my students will actually use! I just began my Reader's Workshop anchor chart product on Tpt. This product will be updated throughout the year as I introduce new concepts and as I hear from my teacher friends, YOU, ideas that you have! I love hearing new ideas because it may JUST be what my own students NEED. It is all about working together to best serve our students, right?!

Here is a quick picture of one of the anchor charts that is included in this product.

GREAT news, my WHOLE store is on sale for 20% off!! WOOT WOOT. Sale ends on the 24th.  Love celebrating new products. Do you have something specific that you would like added? Let me know!

Click here for my newest product! 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Enjoy the Journey!

The beginning of kindergarten is always a busy time of the year. Often, I find myself thinking where these sweet babies need to end up instead of where they have just been. This week, I came across a quote that I just have not able to shake. I do not remember it verbatim. but in so many words.."Stop thinking of kindergarten as almost first graders but instead just been preschoolers." I think as teachers, we get so caught up in the end result instead of enjoying the journey to get there. We are always planning with the end in mind. We know the ultimate goal. We know what their expectations are in first grade. But is this really a worry or stress to place onto our sweet children? If we constantly are stressing them out about first grade, will they even be able to enjoy where they are? This is not to stay, we take it so slow and not worry about if they will be ready. Instead, we need to step back and realize they are still babies. Many are 5 or just turned 6 years old. They are still very egocentric. For many this is their first experience in a school environment particular a full day of school. Most of our children are used to snacking, using the bathroom, and napping at times that are convenient to them. This is all very DEVELOPMENTAL! We CANNOT RUSH this process.

So I challenge to you to step back and enjoy the process. Our children WILL learn. We have the tools to teach them. We are all equipped with the knowledge to teach them while still being age appropriate. There will be days when an accident happens, they won't sit still, they will blurt out, they will share everything about their families, they will dig for gold, they will get so excited over the little things, they will make you special food in the dramatic play area, they will draw you pictures and write you notes. Allow them to be kindergartners because after all they are!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Building stamina and learning procedures!

WHEW! I am exhausted BUT loving my new sweet kinders. Thankful for this 3 day weekend!
Several other kinder classes in my building have been implementing Daily 5. We are still launching Read to Self but I will admit, this is the first year that I have felt that my ELA block is rocking strong! My kids are begging to read longer and are loving competing with other classes. (Side note: one of my sweet babies stopped a THIRD grade teacher and asked how their class was building stamina during Read to Self! I am loving them using the vocab and really "getting it!")

Here is an overview of the first 2 weeks of school!

We started the very first day creating anchor charts and reading lots of books! This was the very first anchor chart we created bright and early on the first day of school.  After coming to the carpet and reading a favorite, "Pete the Cat, the Wheels on the Bus'" we talked about what our carpet time should look like and sound like. I rephrased what they were saying with my expectations already pre-made. As they each come up with an idea, a friend would come to the chart and tape it to the poster board. This is how I like to create anchor charts that will hang in the room because my drawing and writing just cannot compare! This chart then works perfectly with the behavor clip chart system. Ready to Learn is where my children start everyday and before they were introduced to the behavior chart they were already learning the expectations. (I actually did not introduce the clip chart system for 2 more days and instead we really focused on what "Ready to Learn" looks like. (This anchor chart is from Kim Adsit's 1st Reading Unit.)

Click here to grab Kim Adsit's Unit!!!

One of the first read alouds I read is Brown Bear, Brown Bear which fits perfectly for the 3 ways to Read a Book. I showed my students this book and asked my students how can I read this book. Of course, one answers you read the story, DUH! (Gotta love our babies!) So I answered with of course you read the words on the page. (I then flipped to the book to point to the words on the page for that visual effect for our ESOL and visual learners.) I led to them to the Read the Pictures. They thought this was so cool! So we went through the book and Read the Pictures. They loved it! Then we went back and Read the Words. I taught Retell the story, the next day. Every book that we have read since making this anchor chart we always touch and read the part on the chart to show how we are reading the book. This really helped drive in home for my slowing to grasp learners and really build their confidence!  (This is a chart I made myself and is being added to my Reading Anchor charts. It will be for sale soon. If you are interested in it, please let me know and we can work it out! :))

Then the fun part began! I introduce my sweet babies to their very special book boxes! We practiced, practiced, practiced and then practiced some more on how to walk and get our book boxes and put them away. We did not touch any books just simply how to carry and put away. It is all about baby steps to get to the Big Goal. They were so excited about their book boxes so we then read the fun and favorite book, "Maybe a Bear Ate it." This is a perfect read aloud to teach how to take care of books. My kinders loved it and we still sometimes go back and read this book. They then helped me build this anchor chart to remind us how to take care of books and have visual in the room. We then practiced, practiced, practiced and practices some more taking books out and putting books back in their book box. We practiced each part A LOT and talked a ton about being a Book Lover! (I even tell my little friends, that in my old and dirty storage closet I have books that are torn and gross and known as boogie books. And if they cannot be a book lover they will have to have a boogie  book! They work really hard to not have a boogies book!

They were loving being book lovers, having their very own book box that now it was time to teach Read to Self/ We read, "Reading Makes you Feel Good." and talked about how much fun reading is. They were eating it right out of my hands. It is all about the delivery, folks!  They already had their confidence built to the clouds that they can read so they were ready to show me! We then created our I-chart for student-teacher jobs, what it looks like and sounds like and then created this chart to be our visual reminder in our room.  (This picture was taken before it got hung in it's special spot so please ignore the chart behind it.)

While talking about Read to Self, I always touch the Read to Self sign on my Daily 5 board. I want them to hear and have a visual of exactly what we are doing. They know this is something we will do every day but they are not aware of the other choices they will begin to learn. EEK cannot wait to share!!

We also been working on reading in our Reading Nooks. (I do not have a picture of this chart but will try to remember to take one.) Right now, I am choosing their spot but moving clothespins down to each picture of a spot in our room. But they do know that when they reach 10 minutes of  reading stamina that they will get to choose their very own spot. I am just LOVING our reading time!! I have been able to read 3-4 books every morning, focusing on 3 Ways to Read a Book and cover so many mini lessons. It have been a great start to the year!!

Now before I sign off, I don't want you to think we are not doing Math in room 117 because we ARE! I just do not have pictures and my Math block is not rocking as much as I would like at this point. I am going to have to work a little more with our afternoon schedule. However, we have created anchor charts for numbers 0-3, begun making a sticker book that will eventually have every number through 10, working on making is all about the Counting and Cardinality in kindergarten!

Next week, we are still building stamina, introducing Word Work, reading left to right,top to bottom, tracking print, demonstrating the difference between letters and words, charting numbers 4-5, organizing shapes largest to smallest and so much more. It has already been a jam packed year full of fun!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Getting Ready for the Big Day!

This past week has been super busy filled with meetings, final touches in the classroom, meeting my new kiddos and getting to know my fabulous new assistant!! It has been a GREAT WEEK! Our principal was so sweet with the help of others in the school and she asked some families and old students to come cheer us on as we came in for our last and big meeting on Friday! Just imagine walking into a meeting in a CHEER TUNNEL! It was so sweet and special! Those sweet children had to wake up bright and early to be at school by 8 on the last Friday of Summer. They loved it and we all loved it!

Wednesday was Meet the Teacher Day! I must say I am pretty sure we got the best little group of kindergartners! My assistant and I worked hard to get the room looking extra special for them. We want them to love coming to school every day!

Each student got to choose a green or blue balloon. Who doesn't love a balloon?! And it added to my green/blue classroom decor!
 I also made each student a sticker! LOVE making stickers for my kinders!! Working on first day of school stickers...! EEK!!

We finished the final touches to the frame on Friday Afternoon. So of course we had to test out how it would look in a picture and our lovely across the hall neighbor took a picture in her room for us! We are ready for Monday and can't wait to take our new kiddos picture in this frame!!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Snapshot view

I love just as much as the next teacher looking at other classrooms and getting new ideas. Here are some pictures and descriptions for your viewing. Maybe you will find something you like!

 This is next to my bulletin board (which I forgot to take a picture of, oops!) I love hanging the pennant on the wall, it gives a 3D element.. My wall space is huge and so I try to add a lot to make it less intimidating! I made little pennant attached to glittery pipe cleaners. Each pennant is holding a kinder's name. AHH so excited to meet these babies!

 My door leading to my classroom. My outside bulletin board reads "Hip Hip Hooray for a Kinder Carolina Day!" In the hallway, I am using the stick kids and I thought this would be fun to add on my door.

This is taken from my door and a straight shot to the back of the room. You will notice 2 reading nooks. One with the green chairs and one with the blue bean bags. That back door leads to our playground.

This is taken on an angle from my front door. You will see my tables, puppet area with reading nook, and our whole group area. These are the only pictures of my whole room but when I get back in I plan to take some from the back and art area. I am missing several elements.

 Here is a picture of my office that I am so lucky to have. The blue rug is new and it just brightens the area up. I still have some organizing to do but at least I can walk in here right now!
 These buckets are labeled by months.  I keep my thematic notebooks in each bucket  and anything else I need for the month. I LOVE this part in my office. It is so great to pull a bucket for a month and have my notebook of my plans, manipulatives etc

L-O-V-E!! This is how I organize my borders. I have been told I have bit of an addiction. ( I have more that are not in the picture.) I used a 3M hook to hang on the inside of my closet. Then just hung each border up. If the border has been opened then I just closed with a small binder clip and hung that on the hook. I have found if I use the mounting tape on the 3M hook  I can hang more border from each hook. I hang about 5-7 borders per hook. One side of my closest is more for style organization. My go to borders for classroom decor and the sparkly for double border. The other side of my cabinet is organized by season/theme for my outside bulletin boards.

 Here is an up close picture of my color balloons. L-O-V-E Last year a group on my team made these for our rooms and these are my favorite way to display colors. They are happy and fun. You will also notice my computers and headphones. I hang my headphone on a 3M hook. This keeps my counter from getting cluttered and the kids have a spot to put the headphone away. Win, Win!

This is an up close of my puppet area. I like having it close to whole group so I have the puppets for stories if need be and I can easily model how to use. Love these blue chairs for the "audience" and also serves as a great reading chair for Daily 5!

This is another reading area. Behind is the back of a cubby that I am doubling as a birthday board. I still have to  finish that part. On the top of the cubby are my two birthday hats (girls and boys) and my birthday balloons I give for their birthday. Kinders love celebrating their birthdays so I try to make that day extra special for them!

This is my table numbers. LOVE the birds this year! I did glue 2 birds together so when they turn and blow you can still see the number. I hung my birds from my paper lanterns!

These are the swirlies that I hung in my art area. (I will get a picture of that area later!)  These came from Party City. Just a pop of color without being overwhelming. No need to compete with the lanterns :)

Here is my Daily 5/CAFE board. WOOT WOOT! On the left for Daily 5 you will notice that all of the choices are not turned over. I will turn each choice over as we launch that choice..

That is all for now. I still have some finishing touches that will be finished next week. Can;t believe tomorrow is the first staff day back! Time to get ready for the sweeties and Meet the Teacher!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I lost 10 lbs. today!

WHEW! I am exhausted. Today was THE day. I entered my room and found all my furniture so nicely piled up on the tile floor. It was time to move everything to its spot. EEK! (This was day 3 in my classroom. If interested in the first two days you can find it here!)

All my nicely arranged stacked furniture

I just now needed to move and arrange my furniture to fit here!

Thankfully, I have some amazing teammates and we worked together to get our furniture moved. My legs, thighs, arms, pretty much every body part got a great workout. (eating a piece of cheesecake was well deserved!) Moving cubbies, bookshelves, tables, chairs, etc Someone could earn big bucks by starting a business aimed just for moving and setting up a teacher's classroom! My room is no where near being finished, (and far from many other classrooms found in blogland and pinterest) but here are some photos of what I accomplished today.

This is a view from my door looking in. I really like my classroom layout this year but it is hard to see with the piles of things on tables. Goal tomorrow: Unpack and Organize!
At the front you can see a few rows of my large carpet area. There is where I will do my whole group teaching, read alouds, and check in with Daily 5. The main thing you can see in this picture is my puppet stand with some adorable puppets. This was gift from a sweet friend who left kindergarten to spread her wings in 2nd grade. Super thankful for this puppet stand so Kelly if you are reading this, THANK YOU! The chairs will double as a viewing area for puppet shows and also as a great spot for Read to Self or Read with Buddy.

This is another favorite spot in my room. If you look at the previous picture you can see a tiny bit of this rug to the left. This is right when you walk in a just a cozy place to read. The orange table will double as a magazine table or author study, endless possibilities! Just another great spot for Read to Self or Read with Buddy. Are you sensing a pattern? I am working hard this year to create great reading nooks in my room!

This is probably my favorite spot in the room! You can see this as you walk in the room towards the back. What a great reading spot! Those "bean bags" are from Bed Bath & Beyond and were in their Dorm Section. (I bought them weeks ago so not sure if they are still there.) These are awesome "bean bags" because the filling inside is hard so I am hoping they will not plop down and get saggy easily. The board behind it will eventually highlight our classroom birthday. And yes again, I set this up with Daily 5 in mind. I am getting super excited about Daily 5!!

I will end with this picture. I L-O-V-E this banner. You can't miss it when you walk in the room and I really  think it sets the tone. It reads: WE LOVE KINDERGARTEN
What have you accomplished so far in your classroom? Share in the comments or leave your link if you have pictures!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The beginnings of "Nothin Could be Finer..."

That first day back to work in my classroom is always full of many emotions and expectations! I am excited to get in and get things moved around,  stress about getting it all done and bittersweet as I think about the memories made and the memories that will be made. I always have high expectations and think I will get way more accomplished then I always do. (I always wonder where did all of this stuff come from?!) To me the room says a lot about the classroom. I work hard to make a fun classroom environment that does not look cookie cutter so my students can "claim" their room. I want them to walk in and feel happy and that they are at home. I also want to walk in my room for 180 days and feel happy! It is a win, win!

This year I was even more ready to get in my room. Last year, I started summer earlier than expected due to my little man making an early appearance. So I was stressing a little this summer thinking about where everything was placed. (I had a fabulous assistant and long term sub who really did a great job of putting things away!) I know things were placed in buckets but its just getting in there and finding it. Then our school's roof had some issues so we were even later getting in the room. And even today I still cannot arrange furniture in my room so instead I have been working on bulletin boards, taking down old decorations (I just had them keep it up to make it easy) and organizing cabinets. I apologize in advance for the long post!

Day 1

Believe it or not this photo was taken after I did some work in my room! I moved some of my tables to the tile so those are not in the picture. Our carpets are going to be shampooed and cleaned so all the furniture that is still on the carpet will actually be moved. Hopefully soon all that furniture in the middle of the room will find its place!  Thanks to two of my fabulous friends we all helped knock out each others' bulletin boards. I don't know about you but I love a good looking bulletin board but I do not enjoy the tedious work it involves. In the background, you can see a green bulletin board. There I will place theme words, writing stuff really just a bunch of words! On the top of the wall you can see my large alphabet set.  I am going back and forth if I am going to keep that set or create a new one. Then a little below is my word wall alphabet. That set will be replaced because I am over the popcorn buckets. Still working on exactly what I will put there. 

This is my outside bulletin board that I finished (or may still be  a work in progress.) Our theme this year is "Nothin could be finer.." (It is our state slogan.) So on this board is the "title" and then on the wall I am going to place stick kids holding pennant flags with the kids name. I think it will look really cute and a fun welcome. I am trying to make a South Carolina Theme, kinder friendly! I am actually still debating if I will place palmetto trees or something else on the board itself. What do you think?
This is an up close of the border I am using this year. I L-O-V-E it! It is a bright happy chevron pattern and then I doubled it with shiny blue border! (I also have the matching rugs for this border, woot woot!) I am using this border outside (just for BTS) and then all my boards inside to give a cohesive look!
I was pretty pleased with how much I accomplished on the first day back in! I am getting excited about how my room will look  this year!

Day 2

I spent my morning in a math workshop learning about our new math adoption, Envisions. (Do you use it? What do you think?) Afterwards,, I just dropped by the school to see what the room looked like once they moved all the furniture from the carpet to the tile and this is what I found...

Things are piled everywhere! So getting into my cabinets was not going to happen, obviously! And please ignore my missing "D" above the cabinets. That should read LOOK WHAT WE DID! (Hoping it just fell on top of the cabinets.) Yes, I have mismatched chairs that would be the reason I bought chair pockets to cover that ugliness up. :) They are hoping by Wednesday we can get in to move all the furniture back how it goes. That will give me 3 days before staff starts back. (We go back Monday  the 12th!) EEK!! I will repeat, It will get done, it will get done.... :)

I did hang my super duper cute door hanger on the door! In case you missed my last post I ordered this from Charlie D's. You can find her facebook page here! Or visit her etsy store here! She has many different ideas and you can customize! Way cheaper than other etsy stores I found and the quality is fabulous!

Since I could not get in my cabinets I began hanging my paper lanterns.. As you can tell my main colors are blue, aqua (that color does not show well in my picture) and lime green.  I will finish hanging them once my tables get arranged. I also took down  a lot of my wall decorations. Still trying to decide about the pennant banner above my Promethean board.  (What do you think?) I will pull other bright colors through accents in the room. But this year it is about the blue/greens in room 117. :) I found these at the fabulous Party City! The board to the left that you see will be my Daily 5/CAFE board. (I am super excited about implementing this with my kinders!

On another side note while I was attending my math workshop I found out a great group of friends/donors rallied together to help fund my 7th project! (4th this summer) I am beyond blessed, overwhelmed and still speechless. I am excited about receiving playdoh and alphabet stampers to add to my word work choice for Daily 5! Plus, I know my kinders are going to LOVE IT! To pay it forward, it I am giving  away a $10 donation to DonorsChoose. If you are interested please visit my facebook page! If you have not visited yet please do. I love to give away flash freebies!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

School is in the Air

WOW! Today was registration day at school. It is a day where you can sense the excitement in the air. Students are excited to see old teachers and friends and cannot wait to find out who their new teacher is. They hope to maybe get to meet or see their new teacher and find out if their friends will be in their room. It is a crazy, fun day!

I had the fun job of door greeter. I L-O-V-E this job because I get to see everyone as they come in and leave. (and don't have to deal with the paperwork :) )I get to see all my old sweeties (and wonder how they have grown so much) and get to meet some of my new sweeties. It was so great to see my sweeties from last year since I left unexpectedly early on maternity leave. I love getting hugs from those precious kiddos but I know they will do great in 1st grade.

 The countdown is on now for Meet the Teacher! Meet the Teacher is the more formal day to go the classroom, get all that important info stuff and have a chance to get to know their new teacher. I can already sense it is going to be a great year. I just can't believe we start in 2 1/2 weeks! EEK!

Here is my newest 0-20 Number Posters. This set is ia fun green/blue chevron Pattern. It would go great with a chevron theme, blue/green classroom ,beachy theme and many others! Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Hello. My name is Katie Farr and I am a label-aholic.

I L-O-V-E to label everything in my classroom. It adds a pop of color at the beginning of the school year before all of the kiddos work is hung up. It makes my students take some responsibility to spell words correctly. AND it helps keep me organized. There is just something about a cute label that makes me more likely to put it back in its place.

Labels+CHEVRON=one HAPPY teacher! :)

I wish I had a cute picture to show you my classroom with all kinds of things labeled but that is just not possible. SC has been a monsoon state lately AND our roof was being fixed this summer so....there have been leaks and messes everywhere. We still have a couple weeks to go before school starts so I am trying not to stress yet. I am so ready to get my furniture in place and make the room feel happy. I believe that will make the pile of back to school paperwork a little easier. :)

So since I can't share pictures of my classroom. Here are the labels that I have created!

 Isn't this chevron so bright and happy?! I love it! There are 36 different labels included in this pack. Plus, I included a matching name plate!  Read the description and view the preview to see what is included. You can find this pack here!

 This chevron just seems so calm and relaxing! This pack includes the same labels as the pack above with just a different frame. You can get it here!

Can;t decide which chevron you like best? Or maybe you want a mixture of the two? Then this bundle is for you! I will also be updating this bundle with more chevron labels. So you will save big by buying this bundle and being able to constantly download the new files! You can get it here!

Who wants to join my label-aholic club?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

DonorsChoose Tips and Tricks

Are you a DonorsChoose junkie like me? Or maybe you hear all about it but just not sure where to start and how to fund? Well, one of my favorite tips to share with teachers is about DonorsChoose. I started the journey a year before I ever posted a project. Yes, a year before I ever posted!! I started an account and just watched from afar. I was in my first year of teaching and I just wasn't convinced I had time to devote to a project and to my classroom. Boy, how I wish I could go back and post a project as soon as I joined!

I have been fortunate to have had 6 projects fund in less than a year! (I finally posted my first project in August after a staff meeting!) This is a very small number compared to many others who have had hundreds fund! I am awe of those teachers!! So are you looking to start or maybe need some new ideas on funding? Then I have some tips for you!

Planning your Project

  1.   When you first join and start your account you will want to upload a photo as soon as possible. Use an eye catching photo! Use a photo that is relevant to your classroom. Make your donors identify with your classroom through your picture. Your picture just like your title is one of the first things a donor notices. Once you have gained lots of supporters they will recognize you by your picture. Make it good and eye catching!
  2. First think about your students and your classroom needs. Start small, try not to think of everything you need but something specific. This will make it easier to write your project.
  3. Search DonorsChoose for projects that are wanting the same materials as you. This will help you find the stores that carries the materials you need. It will also give you an idea of how others wrote a project with  a similar concept in mind.
  4. On the DonorsChoose website visit Partner Funding Opportunities On this page click on your state that you teach in. There are often many opportunities listed that companies will match up to 50% of your project cost! This drastically reduced the amount that you have to raise. Often you just need to tweak your project a bit or be sure to add certain words or phrases for your project to qualify.

    Writing your Project

    1. Write a catchy title. Use play on words from children's book, songs, rhymes etc. Your title will be one of the first things a potential donor will notice. Make it catchy so they want to click and read more!
    2. After you have created your title it will be time to shop! Take your time  when shopping. Visit several different stores and price match. Your goal is to create a project with a reasonable cost. You want your donors spending the least possible for each item. (Just like when we are BTS shopping and we look for the best deal!) Project that cost <$400 have the best chance of funding and those that cost <$200 have an even greater chance. Once your project hits $99 you have an excellent chance for funding!
    3.  Now you are ready to summarize your cart. This step is important because this is a line that your donors will see when searching for projects. (They have to click to read more about your project. Search projects on DonorsChoose and you will see what I mean.) Be specific with the items you need and why you need it.
    4. Now it is time to tell your story! There are 4 parts to this process.
      1.  Write your challenge: Again this will be one of the first statements that potential donors will see. You want to keep it less than 80 characters and draw your donors into wanting to click to find out more!
      2. Write about your students: Describe your students. Is this a literacy project? Write about how they are as readers; their strengths and challenges. Is it for basic supplies? Write about the challenges facing your students on why they cannot provide these supplies. Make it connect with your project!
      3. Overview of resources: Explain in detail how these resources will help your students. What will they be able to accomplish. What can they do now or can't do because of the lack of the materials. Make your potential donors envision or goal. Help them become passionate about your students and your classroom.
      4. Closing: In just a few short sentences reiterate the need and how their donation will help. How will it make a difference? Thank them for taking the time to read about your project.
         5.  Provide the final details. You will fill in details on what kind of resource your requesting, and what subject areas it will support. You will fill out how many students will benefit from this project and a few other easy peasy lemon squeezy questions.
  5. One of the last things you will do is select an expiration date. You want to give your project that longest time possible to fund. This gives you the best chance to receive a "Congratulations" email!!
  6.  Last, PROOFREAD!!!! Have a friend triple dog check your spelling for you, The last thing you want is to have an awesome project with an error and a donor decides not to donate.

Get this baby funded! PROMOTE!

  1. Congratulations you submitted a project and received an email that it is live, now what?!? It is time to promote, promote promote! Right now, DonorsChoose is offering an opportunity for all projects in the first 7 days of going live to have donations matched. You will give your donors the match code "inspire" and ask them to use when donating. You really want to promote during this time. Wouldn;t you rather spend $100 for a $200 project? So will your donors!
  2. A great way to get your project started it to be the first donor. Even if you just donate $1! With the match code that is $2 started on your project. It shows donors at first glance that 2 donors believe in this project (Some donors do not like to donate to a project that has 0 donors), and that the teacher who wrote the project believes in it enough to support it! We all buy so many items for our classroom each year that I am very willing to start off  my DonorsChoose project with a donation.
  3. Create an email and send it to friends and families.  I also send how a letter  home with my parents. I do not expect my parents to donate but I ask them to help spread the word to help their children gain necessary materials. They help me by sharing with their friends and families and sometimes businesses! The more eyes on your project the better chance for funding!
  4. Share your project on facebook, pinterest, twitter etc! Gauge  how often you want to share your project. I share sparingly on facebook because I do not want to clog up my friends newsfeed with requests. Instead I share when a project has posted, when match codes are available and when we are close to our goal. I tweet the project more often because I just don't feel overbearing there. But still usually once or twice a day. You decide how often you want to do this. Just reminder more eyes, more donors!
  5. Check out the DonorsChoose forum! You can find this on the left hand side when your are on your account page. Write a quick blurb about your project, connect with donors and other teachers!
  6. Connect with Giving Pages. Giving pages are a great community to connect with other teachers and donors. We work together to promote projects and donate to each others ($1) to help them out. Often Giving Pages offer contests to win cash for your project by just donating $1 to a project on their page. You want to try to get your project on 4-5 Giving Pages...more eyes, more donors! Check out the section below to find several Giving Pages on Facebook!
  7. There are over 20,000 projects posted at any given time. Be the advocate for your students and help your project get noticed amongst all of the others! 

Giving Pages

Regional Pages (Host projects from their region...but you can always be a member and support other regions!)
Southern Hospitality  : Page that hosts projects from the South!
Best in the Midwest : Midwest projects
Northern Lights :Projects from the North
Western Roundup :Projects from the West
Mid-Atlantic Projects for DonorsChoose : Projects from the Mid-Atlantic States
Carolina Girls On DonorsChoose : Projects for guys and gals from North and South Carolina

Some other great pages to check out:
Kindergarten Rocks!: This is awesome page that loves kindergarten but also focuses on other grade levels
Mrs. Kinder Owl :Another awesome page
Couponing For The Classroom :This page also give some great money saving tips!
Hand in Hand Giving Page : Helping projects in need
Memories and Milestones :Helping projects
Reading is FUNdamental :Helps projects with a focus on literacy
Music Makes Our Students Smarter :Helps projects that LOVE music!
Costume Box : A giving page that is part of Adam Lambert's Glam A Classroom campaign
FaerieFive  :Follow them meadow to meadow to help fund projects!

So whose ready to post a project? Or what tips do you have for teachers? Leave a comment with your project. We would love to see what other teachers are requesting! 

Teaching Heart Blog

Monday, July 22, 2013

Getting Ready for Back to School!

In exactly 3 weeks, I return back to school for first day of teacher workdays. And my students arrive in 4 weeks! EEK! To prepare I had a busy Monday to get some much needed things in order!

To start, I went to go meet this awesome lady who owns an etsy shop and she also happens to live super close to me, to pick up my new door hanger!

Now isn't that just the cutest door hanger you have seen? Just ignore the trunk of my car, I couldn't resist taking a picture as soon as I picked it up! If you are looking for a new door hanger check her out on her facebook page! She has lots of cute ideas that can be customized!

After picking up my door hanger, I took a bittersweet trip to a local daycare. I took sweet Andrew with me and we turned in his forms so he can start. Such a bittersweet day for me. It was just another reminder that summer is ending and school is beginning. I will miss spending all day with my sweet boy but I must admit I am also super excited to meet my new kinder babies! He will start next week to give me time to get some things done in the classroom and attend a workshop on our new math adoption. I can't believe the time is almost here. My last day of work was on April 18th so I have had a long extended summer break!

To further get ready for Back to School, I am excited to announce that my Back to School Forms are available on TPT! I am so thankful for all the hard working patient people that helped me sort out the issues on TPT. Here is a preview of all of the forms that are included!
Click here  to get all these forms!

As promised, I am offering one of my pages as a freebie!
  Click here to the freebie! This form is used to get all the necessary information for the 1st day of school. I have a longer more in depth information sheet in the packet that I have my families take home to fill out. I want my parents to have adequate time to answer the questions and provide all the information necessary and do not want them to feel rushed at Meet the Teacher to fill out those forms. So instead I only require them to fill this form and contact information out that night.

So what have you been doing to prepare for the BIG day? What do you include in your BTS packets?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

TPT challenges, Beach Trip, School Crafts...Oh My!

I promise I have not disappeared into  the summer sky. But that could be nice if it includes endless supply of sunshine and waves. Instead, I have been super busy. I have created several new items for my bright, happy, chevron classroom but to no avail TPT has not been cooperating with me. :( I have been in constant communication with TPT support and they have been awesome with helping my store get back to working order. So soon you will be seeing lots of new items and be sure to check back here because I will be sure to celebrate with a freebie!

Now for all of you wondering minds here is a synopsis of items I have been working on. I have  created several classroom decor items using my chevron patterns including: sharp/dull pencils, name tags, table signs, new number posters (slight twist to my previous ones). Can you think of additional items your classroom may need? Leave a comment and I just made add it to the pack!

I have also been working on my Back to School Forms. I know, I know we go BTS soon! First day for students in August 19th! There are so many forms that we have to fill out and parents have to fill out that in my mind it makes it worth it if they are at least cute. In this pack I have: student info sheet, parent contact sheet, parent volunteer sign ups, classroom party sign ups, student reading survey, info for first day and I might be forgetting one. Think of something else this pack needs? Leave a comment!

I am also working on my birthday balloons! Last year, I made balloons to be added to crazy straws for this kids birthdays. I plan to still do this but I am making these balloons with chevron! Wahoo for chevron!

I also just might have a few more things up my be on the lookout!

This post is getting long but I just have to share a little bit about our summer beach vacation. We went to Siests Keys (Sarasota) in Florida. My sweet baby boy turned 3 months when we were there! Where is the time going?! He did SO good. For the trip down, we broke the trip up into two days so about 5 hours each day. We met up with my parents my little brother and my oldest brother and his family at a hotel in Jacksonville so we could travel the rest of the way together.  We made great timing and it was so great to get to see my mom's whole family! There was about 30 of us in all that went! My mom is 1 of 6 children and then add their children plus there are now 2 great grandchildren on this side of the family. We had a large group but so much fun. I got my fair share of seafood, waves and pool time. This was our first family vacation of 3 (plus the other 30 people) and I would say it was a success. Here is a photo of the Farr Family of 3!