July 01, 2015

Easy Fill Water Balloons

My littlest girl, E, turned 2 this weekend.
Where has time gone?
I saw ads for those easy fill water balloon sets 
that promise to fill and tie over 100 water balloons in a few minutes.
As a teacher and mommy, this sounds perfect!
We wanted to try these for E's birthday since it is in late June.

I went to my shopping BFF Amazon to find some options.

I order these two types:

$15 and was Prime. 
(Free 48 Hour Shipping if you are a Prime Member.)
$10.48 including shipping. 
There was a PRIME option for around $16
I was very interested to see how these would work for our house
and for school.
We love some water balloons at school, but we hate filling them!
So... welcome to my video called
Sharing Kindergarten Shares... Balloon Filling!

June 28, 2015

Stitch Fix is Awesome!

I hope you all are enjoying your summer break!
I am LOVING all the time I get with the girls.
My to do list is always soooo long and I believe I can get all this stuff done.
Then, the real world hits and I can do almost NONE of it!
Who else feels me?
But the "none" crossed off the to do list means I did tons on the mommy list.
We went to the pool, caught frogs outside, make apple pie and donuts,
visited my grandmother and our neighbor,
invented a new game, made up a new language we refer to as Spanish,
put together countless puzzles and read numerous books,
went to the library for Story time, the park to play,
and had countless dance parties just because.

It also means I work the night away,
but this is the life of a happy wife and mommy.

One thing I don't have to do is CLOTHING SHOPPING.
I hate it.
I honestly do.
Well, I have no figure and it is very hard to find my size.
Most stores start at the next size up from mine.
Which doesn't help my shapelessness... 
And for some reason everyone wants to get married and 
have events over the summer. 
I don't want to dress shopping with the girls!
We got more important, FUN things to do!
I don't think taking a 6 year old and an almost 2 year old to any store with me
would actually be productive.
I sometimes grocery shop with both of them and that is scary enough.
I can't imagine an attempt at the fitting room.

So once a month THIS shows up at my door.

 And when I open it I find 5 items selected for me!
Just 5.
And just for me.
Who knew I was so special.

I MAKE myself open the card first.
Even before I peek at the clothing.
It is hard. But I do it.
 Each card has a note from my stylist and
a style guide to help you match up the clothes they give you
to items you might already have.
I keep all my guides because I am 100% sure
 that I will not remember what they tell me later on.

 I also love how they write you a note to tell you
WHY they selected certain items for you
and what from previous fixes you can MATCH these new items with!

So I am a few Fixes behind.
So let me show you several of my StitchFix boxes.
Here was one of my views from the side.

And here are the 5 items laid out.
There was a red and white checkerboard skirt.
A navy and teal dress.
Some kind of 80's style shirt.
and this off white and gray striped shirt.
The last item was the silver necklace in the middle.

I will be honest.
I put that red and white shirt on and took it off.
I would not even allow Hubs to see me in it.
I hated it.
It just wasn't me.
I am not a picnic table.

The teal dress I loved!
I had some job interviews lined up and it was the perfect modest length.
It is also lined so I knew it would be comfy.

The 80's style shirt was bad.
bad bad bad
Not me at all.

And I can't pull off the shell top.
No figure remember.

I didn't even take pics!
Will you forgive me?
{Hubs wasn't in town either, so that was that.}

I kept the dress and the bracelet.
And one thing I loved...
I had the matching earrings from a previous fix!
They knew I bought them and I commented on the checkout form how much I loved them.

I did have to ask them to tone down the patterns.
I am not huge on patterns.
I like plain clothing a little more.

 My next fix was...

Here is what was included in this fix...
a purple dress shirt...
a bright blue tank dressy tank
a light teal tank
and a white thin sweater.
I think there was some jewelry in this one too!

What did I think?

The summer fixes seem to be cheaper and I really liked the colors this time.
They are very easy for me to mix and match.

Here is a picture of me
the earrings from this fix,
the blue tank top,
and the bracelet from last fix!

Do you see the simple design on the bottom?
It makes me look dressier than I actual am.
And this shirt did well on my mommy stains too.

I actually wore the purple shirt today and forgot to take a picture!

I knew that white sweater would be the best thing ever
for I teach K in July too!

I need to wear nice clothes,
but layers help because I am always cold
and they run those AC units in the hotels.

I will post pics of that asap because it is an awesome sweater.

Then, my latest fix was awesome too!
Again they listened to me and gave me solids.
My stylist reminded me that they would gladly give me a pattern or two whenever I was ready.
{Then flashbacks of the red and white skirt and 80's shirt reminded me...

Here is that side glance.

 and the clothing spread...
I got a bright blue dress shirt like my purple one from before
a light purple shirt
a pink long shirt
a teal tank
and some kind of arm bracelet.

I am not a fan of gold so my first thought was NO to the teal tank.
But I tried it on...
and I loved it.
Thanks for taking me out of my comfort zone.
I needed your help... again. 

Here is S and I out on a lunch date...
at Waffle House...
because she picked it...
with my teal shirt.

I wasn't a big fan of the light purple shirt...
But S loves it.
She says it is stylish.
So it was a keeper.

I LOVED this pink shirt!
I love the color and the length!
 I paired it with one capri black leggings,
a drop necklace...
My newest clearance Disney Shoes hubs scored for me.

I can't figure out the bracelt thing...
so if anyone is coming to I Teach K,
will you help me figure it out?
It was the one thing with no instruction
and I don't think it goes around my wrist.
I think it is like an upper arm thing.

I got all the items from this fix too!
Each item priced out to be less than $25 so I think that is a huge WIN.

I hope you choose to check out Stitch Fix for yourself
I have included my referral code in this post and here:
In case you choose to try it for yourself.

And I def think you should try it out.

And check out these other fabulous bloggers and their Stitch Fix Posts!

And please enter below to win a $20 Stitch Fix gift card.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

June 27, 2015

Camp Go Noodle Linky

Do you guys remember my post a few weeks ago telling your about
the FREE Camp GoNoodle?

Camp GoNoodle is a free online program for kids to stay active
and be creative this summer!
If you already know and love GoNoodle for the classroom,
which who doesn't because it is awesome and FREE,
you’ll love Camp GoNoodle -
 a summer extension of the GoNoodle experience kids love at school.

And remember 
over the summer.

Camp GoNoodle starts Monday June 29 with a set of 5 adventures.
You assess this my going to their website at http://camp.gonoodle.com/
Each adventure uses GoNoodle.com’s active videos and games for inspiration,
and challenges kids to use their imaginations, get moving, and be outside.
Picture building your own DIY jetpack, 
creating an obstacle course race, 
or making sushi with things you already have at home.
And they have Sing alongs!
 Each week includes two brand new camp songs to inspire creativity and movement.

I will be sharing our adventures on my Sharing Kindergarten Instagram 
using the hashtag  

Another cool thing is the encouragement along the way.
This is something I strongly feel GoNoodle is great at!
Each week, Campers of the Week are recognized as all-stars
and earn exclusive Camp GoNoodle prizes.
Earn badges!
Complete each week of adventure by printing the weekly badge to hang up, loud and proud.

The following Monday, there will be new adventures with a new theme!
July is going to Camp GoNoodle AWESOME!
Please sign up now, 
remember IT IS FREE!
If you do it now, you will be ready to go for Monday!

June 26, 2015

10 Steps to Center Success

FLASHBACK to my first year teaching:
The thought of center time raised my blood pressure.
I was flat out scared to give my children even a small bit of control in my room.
It was 100% MY FEAR and 0% developmentally okay.
Looking back, why did I think that 4 year olds in PreK could do this
 and my own 5 year olds could not?

So I finally, relentuantly did center time
{Shame and embarrasement is my emtion of admitting that...}
How did my first round of centers go?
Just fine.
Those kids were most likely so happy I stopped talking to them and let them play
they would have done just about anything!

My second year teaching we went to open choice centers the first day of school.
And every year after my first year...
 center time was a huge part of the first day of school.
In fact, center time went from being my most fearful time of the day
to my absolutely favorite time of day.

I am also blessed to be a presenter for SDE
and one of my most popular topics...
CENTERS again.
Each time I present on this topic I get to take attendee questions
and try to get in their minds to help them even more.
So here is my
10 Steps for Center Success to get you and 
your students on the road to a successful center time as well. 

When you are teaching your student all about Kindergarten
don't be scared to let them go to centers from the start.
You are teaching them about procedures, expectation, and routines.
We all know this is going to be their favorite time of day.
The need to know why they are working so hard...
We have a saying in my room,
"Work hard to play hard."
All my preK students expect to play in Kindergarten.
Many will ask for when they get to play.
This is extremely important for them.

Your job as the leader in the classroom is to
plan for how to make center time work in your classroom
and how to set up your students for success.

I highly recommend using a center clip chart.
Here is a picture of the chart I made for my classroom.

 To make this you will need:
- a large, firm piece of poster board
-lots of clothes pins
-construction paper strips and circles
-Velcro pieces to match poster board like these black squares
- center time images or pictures (you can find my pack here)

I select all the centers pieces I need in my classroom
and print out only those pieces.
Here is an image of all the center pieces I printed out. 
I lay them visual centers cards out on the poster board,
 then cut out little paper circles and glue them down to the card before I laminate the pieces.
{The circle let my students know how many friends can be at that center at a time.
If a clip is on the circle,
they can grab the clip.
If the circle is empty, that clip is out.
I only have to do this one time for several years,
so it is worth the effort.

Now I have to make the clothes pin to match.
When I cut out the colored circles,
I also cut out strips of the same paper to glue to the clothes pins.
I clip a clothes pin onto a basket to hold it up and
use Mod Podge to glue down the paper and seal it.
I usually have to remake these clips year after year.
The Mod Podge helps keep the paper on the clip amazingly,
but my little ones usually ruin the hinge part of the clips before anything else happens.

I also make several extra clips in each color so if a colored clip breaks,
I can easily replace it with some extra ones I have stashed away. 
 Since I put the colored paper on both sides of each clip,
 attaching them to a basket is a huge help and time saver
while the glue is drying.

Lastly, I use Velcro pieces to attach the visual center card to the board.
I don't open the year with all the centers open.
I usually open with just 6 TABLE centers.
{My tables are color coded so they would be the
Yellow Table, Orange Table, Red Table, Purple Table, Blue Table, and Green Table.}
I like to be able to add and take away centers as needed.

After I have a plan on how to manage center time,
 I have to model exactly what I expect to see from my little ones during this time. 

1. I model how to go to centers. 
I show them the right way and the wrong way.
I also explain WHY we have these rules.

2. I model how to change from center to center. 
In my room, we return to the clip chart. 
Then we put our current clip back to its home, 
then we chose another colored clip. 
I also model how to clean up each station as they go. 

3. I model how to complete centers. 
I expect them to clean up after themselves.

I also give my students time to model for me.
They show me what I expect.

And if we ever have a few friend join our class, 
we model all over again.
Honestly, it is a good idea to model expectations and procedures as often as needed.
If you find yourself reminding several friends how to do something during center time,
it might be a good time to remind everyone.

After you set them up for success and model,
LET THEM GO try centers.

You don't know what you forgot to tell them 
or maybe how awesome they will do with centers
until you let them go.

I bet you will be impressed with 
how great they do with the independence
you have given them.
And the ability to play.

As you let your little ones go to centers,
your job to 
watch them,  
monitor them,  
observe them.

I like to start off the year standing close to the clip chart to help them exchange clips.
But my eagle eyes are all over the room.
I like to see who clean up, 
shares their toys with others, 
takes turns, 
angers easily, 
walks away from situations, 
talks it out, tattles,
and even who prefers to play with who.
I can usually identify leaders in the room easily during this time.
I can also identify pushovers and bullies. 

{I say that nicely.
 I need to know who doesn't know how to stand up for themselves yet 
and those who will take over for them.
These are areas I need to work on with friends in the room.}

Sometimes I discover friendships I never would have expected. 
And I always find out who can play with anyone and who no one wants to play with.

I should say this. 
I am blessed beyond measure to have a TA in my classroom most of the day. 
But I do not socialize with them while we have students in the classroom.
I am too busy WATCHING and LEARNING.
I ask my aid to do the same thing. 
She usually hangs out around the tables during this time to keep students at the right color table 
{table colors match clip colors}
 or she sends them to me to change out their clips.

If my students do something wrong,
I calmly remind them or show them what I want them to do,
and ask them to try it again.

If I see someone doing something I think is AMAZING,
I ask them to try that again for everyone else to see.

Kinders need repetition.
It is good.
It is healthy.
It is how they learn.

And if center time doesn't go great the first time you do it,
guess what my advice to you would be?
Tell your class in a nice way what was good or not good 
and ask them to TRY IT AGAIN with you.

Remember how I said I start centers 
at the beginning of the year with colored tables only?
Well, I also have a LOFT in my classroom and 
an art center and lots of other stations my students
want to get into. 
Once we can handle transitioning from center to another, 
I know we are ready for a new center.
So I open each fun station one at a time station to another
When we open the loft up, 
I give the directions for that station.
Then I make sure each student gets to go to that station before anyone goes twice.
I keep a class list with me to make sure.
I make sure each student does the right thing in that station.

Once we have learned that center, 
we move on to another center like sensory table or art.
My students know a new center will be opened as their behavior 
and ability to follow the rules continues.
I also let my students choose which fun station they want to open next.

I can not and will not clean up after 20 students.
It is not my job to be their mothers
{not that I clean up after my own 5 year old... I do not.}

I make it known, 
if you don't clean up a center then it will be closed tomorrow.
It is amazing how clean they can make a station if they really want to play it tomorrow.

When your students ROCK center time, 
And they will do an awesome job, 
so act like they just won The Noble Peace Prize.

Even if everything is going crazy, pick the one thing you loved seeing...
and praise it. 
You will see more of it.

Have you noticed all my centers have been play centers?
You have to let them play.
Play is how they learn.

I start center time off with only play centers.
They can play with math manipulatives and learning items
but PLAY should be in their classroom. 

I always start to add "work centers" around the third or forth week of school.
I make them fun and interactive so they never mind going to them. 

I also give my class 6 work stations a week,
but buffer them with FUN centers so my class 
can and does PLAY every day.

If you need some ideas for centers,
I do a weekly blog post dedicated to centers called

Need some more center help?
Check out these posts by some of my friends.

http://sweetsoundsofkindergarten.blogspot.com/2015/06/managing-centers-in-kindergarten.html       http://kreativeinkinder.blogspot.com/2015/06/using-centers-to-create-learning.html http://mrshoffer.blogspot.com/2015/06/centers-in-kinder.html

June 20, 2015

Have You Seen a Five Below?

Warning- I hate shopping so if I am sharing a store with you,
you know it is a cool place to try!

My town got a store called Five Below a bit ago.
I *thought* it was going to be a store with "cold weather stuff" like 
what you wear if it is "five below zero."

Yeah... I am that dumb.
It is actually a store dedicated 
to items that are $5 or less.
{Think Mary... Think!}

They have some really cool stuff there.
And it is honestly a MUST CHECK OUT
for teachers looking for some classroom deals.

{Or for 6 year olds looking to spend that $5.96 left in her purse
while she is with her mother who hates to shop.
I mean, that scenario could actually happen right?}

I snagged a few pics from this past week you might want to check out.

1. Marble Run Type Game- $5
I didn't buy it because I already have several sets in my classroom, 
but this caught my eye because of the price.
I paid a lot more for my sets so this looks awesome.

I use these sets when we cover motion. 
We also use it for STEM activities.
We build "water slides."

And these are am awesome game to have for free centers.
I highly recommend these games for your classroom.
Your students will love it and never get tired of playing it.
Even the older teacher kids come in my room and play with these sets.

2. Science Kits- $5

I saw a ton of these science kits:

Solar Power Boats
Flying Disk
Potato Clock
Salt Water Spider
Solar Penguin

I doubt these kits will stand the test of time, 
meaning work for years and year...
But I am confident you could convince 
a parent or two to grab some of these
for your classroom!

3. Plastic Shot Glasses- $1

I use these all the time in my room.
I love to use them for measurement activities and as cups to count items in, 
especially for the 100th day.
 My favorite way to use them is in our light table.
Here is a picture of one way I use them...
but you can click here to read all the actual details 
about how to make these and use these in your classroom.

This store just has tons of items you can use in the classroom.
I hope you check it out and see what good teaching materials you can find for your classroom.

June 18, 2015

Moving Your Classroom

Anyone moving their classrooms this summer?
School getting renovated or the floors getting waxed?
Changing classrooms?
Or changing schools?

A few years ago my whole classroom had to be moved 
and placed in the gym for storage
while our school was renovated.
But my "stuff" was in a section along with 40 other teacher's stuff.
Materials did get mixed up.
Problems occurred.

I learned a few packing tips and tricks I want to share with you.
Especially since... 
it is obvious...
I am moving my classroom again this year...
to another school!

This was my classroom last summer... 
{We have carpet so I can leave furniture down and set up.}

Well, this year it all has to go!
That's right...
I am moving!

Here are my 
to Moving Your Classroom.

 Trick #1
Store your stuff in smaller, manageable tubs.
I store all my "unit" materials in these smaller Rubbermade Roughneck Totes
I love how they latch on the sides.
And they hold a TON of files, games, hands on stuff, and more.
And since I use one per week,
I have around 40 of them.

Here is just one of my tubs for Map Week.

Additionally, I love how easy it is to lift them and move them.
Some of those larger tubs get seriously heavy!
And the files and materials are harder to keep organized.
Papers get wrinkled.
Game and center parts get mixed up.
And moving them, even to get the materials out
can cause some back pain.
These bins are usually kept on a shelf.
 And are super easy to use!

 Tip #2
Label Everything!

To avoid getting my materials mixed with another teacher,
or lost along the way...
I labeled every.single.thing.

My bins are already labeled with their contents
but they were lacking my name.
When moving your classroom,
adding your name and grade is very important.

I don't have time to hand label my name and grade on every singe one of them,
so I went to my computer and printed out a simple sign.
Then I made 200 copies. 

I attached this paper to each and everything I moved.
I left a line in case I needed to write anything one it.
Plus, once this label was on that box, 
I knew I had looked through it
and it was ready to go.

I didn't want to pack up anything that wasn't mine to take.
And we know that school stuff can get a little confusing.

Tip #3
Group Like Items Together.

One way to group items is with baggies.
 Once I take posters, number lines, word walls, and decorative materials off the walls,
I want to store them in a way that will help me keep them together AND put them back up easily.

I organized my wall decorations in order and placed them in baggies together.
When I put my number charts up, I can easily start with zero.
My ABCs are in opposite order which is just as easy.
I will flip the stack over and pull A off the now top.
My word wall pieces are also ready to go.

I also took my FAVORITE classroom took...

Here is a picture of the hooks holding art work up.

I bought these 10 years ago and put them up all over my ceiling.
I hang up student work, esp close to our art center to display work.

When I took them down,
I wound them up and placed them in a bin together.
Set up will now be simple and easy.
 I didn't think these would hold up as easily in a baggie,
so I put them in a small tub.

Since all my materials were grouped together on shelves
so I left these materials together in boxes.

I put all my math manipulatives and games together.

 As I packed, 
I left the boxes open and ready.
That way if something stray was in the room somewhere, 
it could still be placed in the right box.

 When everything was ready to go...
I taped up the boxes.

I did place post it notes on them until I had a change to label them with the papers.
{Plus I kinda grabbed these boxes for a co worker's hallway once she moved into our school.
I was 99% sure she was done with them, 
but I wanted to MAKE SURE before I damaged the boxes...
and yes she was fine with it.}

Do you see things left on the shelves?
Those are the items I can't take with me because they were bought by the school.

Tip #4
 Store large Charts so they don't get bent
One thing I learned from my reno move was 
charts and large items will easily get bent or lost.
They are loose and so large that they are just hard to manage!
My solution?
Place the larger charts, wall decorations, and materials in a LARGE BOX.
Lay the box down on one side and load it up.
I found this Home Depot box fit perfectly for lots of my charts and decor.

Some of the items were still too large, my my poster size Center Chart.
Once all my other items that do fit went in the box,
I added the even larger ones to the top.

It worked out very well!

 My old classroom had carpet, 
but the halls were the tile floors.
And the wax had already been applied.
Therefore, I was asked not to roll anything onto the hallway floors.

When materials were packed, labeled, and ready to go...
I stacked all my materials by the back door for easy loading and moving. 

{Yes, there is tile there too, but that is what I was asked to do.
My custodians have always been great to me, 
so I follow all their directions.}

Move Materials... The Smart Way.

I had to rent a U-Haul. 
There was no way around it.
With gas prices and the distance to my new school, 
it would have been a chore to do anything else!

You might not need one,
 but don't be scared to look into rentals for larger moves!
The truck was around $30 a day then $0.77 a mile!
I was able to rent it for less than $85.
I did spend an additional $15 on gas,
bringing the total cost to $100.

The time it took to move diminished.
This truck allows us to move the classroom in a few hours.

I refused to actually drive the U-Haul though 
since I am pretty sure I would have been in a wreck.
Good thing for family! 
My father in law was willing to drive it for me. 

So once I got word that my father in law was on the way with the truck,
We moved all the stuff to the curb by the ramp.
My sister, my daughter, my niece, my nephew, and myself worked hard!

Once the U-Haul arrived, it took 45 minutes or less to load it up.
The hardest thing to move was my filing cabinets.
We had a hand truck and dolly, but they are FULL and very heavy.
Plus we couldn't use the front door, 
so we had to go across some grass with them.

We made it happen.
Here is a glimpse at my old classroom and how I left it.

All the furniture I left belongs to the school so I can't take it with me.
That means I have to leave even my awesome lower black shelves that I love!
This new owner is getting hooked up!

When I had to move my furniture before, 
I labeled my tables with paper and masking tape.

I also taped my chair stacks together. 
Since my chairs are color coded,
Or I would have lost my mind.

Back to this move...

Here is the U-Haul my new principal saw when I arrived...
 I thought she was going to fire me on the spot.
I think she seriously started to reconsider my employment.
To say she was shocked that I had so much was an understatement..

But here I am, truck full and at my new school.
We unloaded the materials and waited for the direction to place them.
My new school has two floors... 
and I will be downstairs.
Those floors were being done so I had to place
 my crap 
my stuff 
I mean
 awesome student materials
in an empty classroom upstairs.

It was so easy to wheel these materials down with hand trucks, charts, and a dolly.
then quickly organize everything on shelves.
And in piles.
 Ready to go.

When my new principal saw this room...
I think she saw the organization of all the materials. 
She was impressed with how together it all was.
{Thank goodness... right!}

She also LOVED the wobble chairs!
They are on the far left.
She said she was a little worried they would disappear if I didn't hide them.
And she def wants to look into getting more for the school.
I am not allowed in my new school yet...
I have to wait for floors to be done.

Am I stressed that all my things are not ready to go?
Am I ready to go set up a new and awesome classroom?
Can I do anything about it yet?

And we all know I am not patient.
So I am trying to be.

Now, I am not giving out more details of my new school 
just yet.
As I unpack, I will post more
and take you along on my wild ride!