My First "Back to School" Purchases for My New First Graders!

About Me

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Welcome! I hope to use this blog to share some of the amazing things my class and school does to make learning fun! I have been teaching for 15 years already! I started teaching 3rd grade in a Parochial School, then I was hired to teach 1st grade for three years, was moved to 5th grade for 2 years, and then came back to 1st grade in the district where I attended school. I love that I'm able to give back the the school district that guided me to become the teacher I am today! I have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, certified 1-8; a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction; and my Administrator License Pre-K-12.

Blogs I Love!

Monday, August 29, 2011

First Day!

Oh my goodness...I have the cutest kiddos!  A little chatty....but I'll get that under control within the week! :)

Every year I forget about how much talking is needed on the first day...I think my voice is already a little crackly!  My cuties LOVED Abby Mullin's First Day Jitters lesson found in her "Fun with Firsties" unit at Teachers Pay Teachers.  The Jitter Juice was a huge hit and actually helped a few who really had the jitters about coming back to school.  If you haven't purchased Abby's unit, you might want to...I just love her units!  They are so creative and they really work in my classroom.

The day was over and I was on my way to my Principalship class before I knew it!  I'm a little overwhelmed by the requirements for this class at the moment so I'll probably be working on that this weekend!

And so the year begins!  :)  If you've already started your school year I hope it's off to a great start!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What a Week!

Oh my goodness!  This week was absolutely CRAZY!  District meeting, building meeting, open house...therefore, getting ready for open house, learning a new phone system, learning a new grade book system, organizing student supplies that were brought in at open house, finishing "The List" (the one I made on a previous post)...I couldn't even go out to lunch with the other teachers because I needed to get things done (which makes me feel horrible but I really needed to make use of every spare second)!  I woke up at 5AM today thinking about the hooks I forgot to label for their book bags!  And so started the next list!  :)

Needless to say, here I sit with my coffee and taking a little time to blog stalk.  I have absolutely loved going through all of the new ideas that fellow bloggers have shared.  Planning for the first week of school has been a lot of fun!  Can you believe that this thought actually crossed my mind: "I wish the first day was a little longer."  Yep...that's a huge sign that it's back to school time...and that I have tons of fun ideas to keep us busy this first week of school thanks to all of the freebies offered on blogs and the units I purchased from Teacher's Notebook and Teachers Pay Teachers.

I decided to start another blog more for my students.  You'll be able to view it here.  Once school starts on Monday you should be able to see some posts about what we're doing each's more for my families but eventually I want the kiddos to be posting and commenting on their own...but that's going to take a few weeks for us to get there!

Our Open House was Thursday night and let me tell you what...I have some cuties...some very quiet cuties.  I'm so grateful for everyone that was able to attend.  I think the tree was a hit!  It's always an overwhelming night for not only my new firsties and their families (there's so much paperwork to complete) but also for many new faces!  :)  I can't wait for our first day!  But I still have so much to do!  I have a family picnic today and I'm going to try my best to pause "school mode" and enjoy the day with family but then it's back to work!  There's a few things on my school list and then I have some things to work on for my principalship courses!  Oh!  And guess who's leading the children's choir at church with her sister...oh...yeah...that's me!  I'm pretty excited about this sister and I have a lot of ideas to make it fun for the children of our church!

Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I think my classroom is finished!

Well...I still have a few things to do:

  • Name tags for the tables
  • Name tags for students to wear (Our children wear a plastic name tag during the school day that has their first and last name, teacher name and room number.  It's also color coded to remind us of our zone when we do fire drills or have to evacuate.)
  • Put names on our word wall
  • Finish cutting the laminated take-home folders and other miscellaneous things (actually delegated this to mom...she calls it therapy)
  • Birthday posters
  • Bucket Filler Display
  • Design, Copy and Organize Open House handouts
  • Decide on one of the hundreds of "Welcome Back" treats I've seen through by blog stalking and make them for my kiddos
  • Create my lesson plan template
  • Copies, prep for projects
Geesh!  Now that I see it in a list format, maybe I'm not finished!  

Staff Days are Wednesday-Friday this week.  Wednesday morning is our district "Welcome Back" and union meeting and our building faculty meeting is in the afternoon.  Thursday is "our day" meetings but we do have to be at school for a normal workday and our building's Open House is in the evening...well late afternoon for me.  Our Kindergarten families visit from 3:30-4:30; First Grade Families visit from 4:45-5:45; and Second Grade Families visit from 6:00-7:00.  On Friday we get to learn the new grade book software! are some updated pictures of my classroom!
This is my outside bulletin board.

I know...CRAZY long!  But somehow we don't have a hard time keeping it full and festive!

My "Welcome" letters from Oriental Trading...kind of wishing they sold the whole alphabet.

I saw, heard, or read about this idea from someone somewhere this summer! 

At the end of each year I ask my students to write a letter to my new batch of first graders.  I posted a few in the hall.

I'm not 100% sold on my door needs a little something (other than a paint job).  Maybe just some student artwork.  My "Arrr Matey!" came from Uppercase Living...LOVE IT!

This letter cracked me up..."She can be tough..."  Needed this one to be on the front door-ha! ha!

View from the door.
 I took these pictures from the center of my classroom and tried to give you a panoramic view!  :)

I'm so grateful for all of those teacher blogs out there!  I got tons of ideas, purchased lots from Teachers Pay Teachers and just loved spending part of my summer mornings blog stalking!  

I am in love with Scrappin' Doodles!  I received an email yesterday about their Terms of Use for Teachers so I'm just spreading the word.  If you use their clipart, you might want to take a peek at their Terms of Use.  I'm not sure if I really need it, but I purchased two of the "Educational Freebie License" to post on my website and on this blog just to cover myself.  I would never intentionally misuse anything I find online and I always try to give credit where credit is due but I want to make sure I'm following the rules!  As a new blogger I'm still learning! 

Time to get to work...kiddos come Monday and the craziness starts tomorrow!

Saturday, August 20, 2011


My tree is finished!
I totally had to delegate the leaf making to my mom....I just had so many other things that I needed to work on to get ready for my kiddos.  I told her I wanted the leaves to be whimsical...but not like the palm tree from Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.  I purchased about 4 1/2 yards of two different shades of green felt and she brought her needle and thread and went to town.  The grass is just that "fake" grass carpet you can get at Home Depot.  I love it!  I think the kids are going to be totally pumped!  Here's a couple of close-up pictures:
Mom folded the felt in half so that we could cut two leaves at the same time.  
She then stitched "some texture" onto the fold.

The leaves were super easy to drape onto my funky branches.  She also made a leaf to fit around/on top of the trunk of the tree so it would look more realistic.

View from my door.

Gosh I love those limbs!

As I was cleaning and going through piles this week, I found a little STUFFED mouse that I thought would look cute on one of the branches.  I also found a caterpillar...he's in there somewhere too!
While mom was working on the tree, I was still organizing and labeling things.  Every time I turn around there's something else that needs a label!  I worked hard and consolidated my seven piles of piles into one pile!

One table of things to be laminated...

And one area full of storage containers...

Which reminds me...I went to the Family Dollar store and found these awesome wired baskets with handles FOR A DOLLAR!
I am totally in love with them!  I bought four white ones to store my cassette and CD players for the kiddos to use when they're listening to stories and I bought four red ones to store...well just about anything else!

I'd love to post pictures of the rest of my classroom but it's just not ready yet!  I'm aiming to have everything finished by Monday evening so that I can enjoy my last day of summer on Tuesday.  Our district and building staff days start on Wednesday!!!  Summer flew!  Oh!  And my final two principalship classes start on Wednesday too!  Busy week ahead!

Monday, August 15, 2011

'Tis the Season for Late Nights...

Well, this is the week of late nights at school!  I'm watching my nieces during the day and then heading into school at night to work on my classroom.  I got a few things done tonight...but still have a mile or two to go.  I'll post pictures, once things are more presentable.

I am a huge fan of music both personally and in my classroom.  I've been known to purchase an album based on one song...even a small snippet of a song.  iTunes makes things way too convenient for me but I love it and my Shazam app is a dream to me!  I listen to all genres and research proves that music does the body and brain good so we always have something playing in the background during the school day and I'm always looking for the perfect tune to teach a skill or two.  You can find some of our favorite albums on my website.  My nieces and I found a few cool albums on iTunes this morning that I think you might want to give a listen to...

Our first discovery was the group called "The Not Its" (Love it!).  They have three albums and I purchased their most recent album, Tag, You're It!  You can just google "The Not Its" to find the best deal!

We also discovered Wayne Brady's album for children, "Radio Wayne"...totally hip and so much fun!  Especially his "The High Low" song...definitely one that will get your toes tapping!  I only paid $7.99 on iTunes for it this morning...bargain!

Off to shop at Really Good Stuff to purchase more workstation baskets to store more Reading and Language Arts fun for my kiddos!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

We're Here!

We made it to Foxburg, Pennsylvania today and went right to Allegheny-Clarion Valley Elementary School to set up all of our goodies...well...most of them.  We still have a few things to do tonight at the Foxburg Inn but we're so excited to see everyone again!

My friend Megen Kania has been working on her new blog and I'm learning a ton of new ideas from her...and therefore am just dying to play with my templates, backgrounds, and buttons to spice my blog up a bit.  So don't be surprised if you start to see a new design in the next few days.  You can find her brand new blog over at Mrs. Kania's Tech Korner.  Be sure to check her out!  She's just starting...but has a ton of super cool ideas!

I'm going to be honest...I totally went blog stalking during our inservice yesterday (I still paid attention to our speaker) and found a ton of great new blogs!  I honestly don't know how I'm going to keep them all straight!  Thank God for Google Reader and my RSS Feed!

Headed to Pennsylvania!

I'm so excited for the next couple of days!
My colleague and friend, Megen Kania and I are heading to Allegheny-Clarion Valley School District, in Foxburg, Pennsylvania tomorrow morning for our presentation on Friday!  We have lots of goodies to share with our Pennsylvania friends.  One of the things we're going to do is talk about all of the amazing teachers who are blogging!  We're so grateful for all of the sharing...we just have to spread the word!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

VERY Productive Day Today...Thankfully!

Whew!  Today was extremely productive!  Woo-hoo for me!  :)  I crawled out of bed bright and early this morning to head to my parent's house to work with my dad on a few classroom projects.  The first project on our list was my 6 crate seats.  These seem to be the hot item this summer so I just had to have a set.  We headed to Home Depot, picked out a cheap but very sturdy wood and Dino cut it for us for free!   
If you're going to have them cut your wood for you, take your
 crate with you so that your measurements can be exact.

A Perfect Fit!

I found mattress foam at Ollie's for $6.99.

I was a little worried about whether or not it was too thin, but it worked!

I picked up a queen sized sheet at Target for $11.99.
You could probably get 16 covers out of one queen sized sheet.

We found a "Foam Board Adhesive" caulk that we used to glue the foam on.

We then placed the board in the center of our fabric and
wrapped it like a present.

Dad used his staple gun to attach the sheet to the board.

We had to hammer a few of the staples in...I think
Dad needs a new staple gun.

We then used Duct Tape on the material that was a little flappy.

And Ta-Da!  It worked!  :)
 One project completed from beginning to end!

Then we were ready to hang the branches on my tree so we loaded up the toolbox and headed into my classroom.  Talk about a lot of prayer...I was so nervous that it wouldn't work because I didn't have a Plan B for this project.  It worked surprisingly well and when we left around 12:30 all of the branches were still attached.  I'm sure I'll be having tree nightmares but I'm loving how it looks!

The next pictures you'll see is of a completed tree full of leaves and green grass below!  Hopefully next week sometime!

And yes...I did get some pool time this afternoon...but I felt so guilty with everything else I should have been doing!

Attending a district-wide in-service on our new observation system tomorrow!  I'll hopefully be able to multi-task again...or at least do some more blog stalking! :)

Monday, August 8, 2011

First Day of Meetings and More!

Today was my first day of back-to-school meetings!  As you may know, I'm in the process of receiving my principalship license and am in my second internship of my required classes.  One of the requirements is to collect 90 hours of observing other administrators and pretty much doing anything they ask me to do!  :)  I love the experience but I feel so frazzled between classwork, internship stuff and getting ready for my's just crazy!  Anyway, I was able to attend the new teacher orientation this morning and the technology training for the newbies this afternoon.  Gosh...I remember being that new and full of nerves!  Glad I'm where I am! :)

Now a confession...I was multi-tasking during the's kind of my thing.  I was actually helping my 2nd grade teacher friend create her own blog.  She's brand new to blogging but has a ton of cool ideas too...give her a few weeks to get herself up and running officially but you'll definitely want to give her a peek!  Here's where you can find her: Sumner's Crows Nest.

After our meetings I ran over to school to check in on my branches and I had four that were dry and ready to paint!  Here's an updated picture of two of them:

I also got all of my books organized and on my shelves...whew!  It was really hard to separate the books I use or might use from those that I probably haven't or won't used (if that makes sense) but I am bringing home three boxes of books to thoroughly sort = PROGRESS!
Of course I'm missing one of those little pieces that hold up the shelves!  :(
It has to be somewhere!
I also put up my outside bulletin board...well, it's partially up!

I found the idea of using caution tape from one of my new blogger friends so I can't take full credit for the idea!

I'm working on little signs that reference each of my students.  For example, a sign that says "Leanne's Great Ideas Coming Soon" to give it a little more personality.

I have so much to do but I let myself do a little blog stalking tonight and saw that the girls over at First Grade Fanatics are hosting a Back-to-School giveaway!  Make sure you visit their site so that you can join in on the fun!  They have some awesome goodies!

Well, that's it for tonight!  My technology teacher (and very good friend), Mrs. Kania and I are presenting at Allegheny-Clarion Valley School District on Friday!  We need to put the finishing touches on our presentation tonight so that we have time to add those last minute ideas that always come to us when we think we're all done and ready to go.  This is our second year presenting at ACVSD and we are so excited!  Oh!  By the of the teachers, Marcy started her own blog too! Check her out at SUNdling's BRIGHT Ideas!

Tomorrow's Goal:  Wake up early, be productive so I can have a little pool time in the afternoon!  :)  19 Days!!!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Another Linky Party! "Top 10 Reasons You Know It's Back to School Time!"

I found a new blog tonight!  Reagan, over at Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits is hosting a Linky Party!  You must go and check out her blog!  She created a "Teacher's Song" video that you just have to watch too!  It's hilarious!
The Linky Party part is to list your "Top 10 Reasons You Know It's Back to School Time" so I thought I'd join!
Jenn's Top Ten Reasons She Knows It's Back to School Time!
10.  My outdoor plants are starting to die because either I'm rushing out the door early or I get home late from school and it's too dark or I'm too tired to water them.  (It always starts to happen around the first week of August.)  Poor things.
9.  I'm blog stalking at all times to find the newest and coolest ideas for back to school.
8.  I comb through the Sunday advertisements and look for sales on back to school supplies.
7. I wander through the back to school aisles looking for those last minute supplies...and I kind of eavesdrop on conversations between parents and their children about what supplies they are choosing.  :)
6. My sleep schedule gets all out of whack!  I usually am tired when I get home so I head right to bed, but then I'm awake and working on things after about 4 hours.  I call it my nap schedule...except somehow I miss my afternoon maybe I survive on an average of 4 hours of sleep each night.
5. I'm due for one or two mild meltdowns before the start of the year...mostly due to the stress of getting everything done in time!
4.  I travel with my Mac, rubber cement, construction paper, catalogs, and my cutting board in my car so I can pull it out at any time, especially family dinners and work on anything I need to do.
3. I start delegating more to my family-crate seats, cutting my laminating...the tree!
2.  I have new accessories!  Laminating paper on my legs, staples and sticky tack stuck on the bottom of my shoes, and that lovely glistening look to my skin...don't get's not a new makeup...try sweat!  YUCK!  (I can't believe I just typed that!)  My classroom is so stinking hot!
1. I'm truly excited about meeting my new kiddos and their families!  It's going to be a great year!

Friday, August 5, 2011

So Much To Do!

So remember my earlier confession of loving all kinds of children's literature?  Yeah...well here's a few pictures of my addiction in full effect...

This doesn't include my classroom library and books on tape!

A little excessive right?  BUT...I have a plan!  Before they go on my bookshelves, I am really going to make sure it's a book I will use with my kiddos.  It has to have purpose!  Those books that don't "fit" will come home for me to sort through thoroughly, when I have time.  I have to make room for newer books somehow, don't I?  :)

So I worked a little bit in my room tonight and made some progress:
See how neat and clean it looks?  Empty shelves just waiting for something wonderful to be placed on them, baskets wondering what fun they'll be holding this year....ahhh...looks good!

Not so much:
Yep!  That's the rest of my chaos!  I'm breathing though...I still have 22 days until my cuties arrive!

Oh!  I also want to thank Dana Baker over at Love2LearnandShare!  I went to bed with 9 wonderful followers and woke up to 33 followers!  Being new to blogging, I was like, how did that happen?  What did I "say"?  Then I found out that she included me in a post about "2 cute new blogs that are worth checking out"!  What a nice surprise to wake up to new friends and new comments!  Thanks Dana!

I mailed my "Welcome Back to School" letters this week!  If you're curious, you can view them by clicking on the links below.
Welcome Letter
Supply List

Are you sitting down?  Prepare yourself...I'm thinking about getting rid of my large reading table.  When I meet with small groups I usually gather them on the carpet so that we can spread out and be comfy.  I use my table, but I think I can make better use of the space...I don't know what to do!  What do you think?