Tuesday, December 8, 2015

No Time to Decorate Your Classroom for Christmas?

9 DAYS??? Can there really only be nine teaching days left before we break for the Christmas break? Here, in California, it doesn't feel quite like "Christmas" yet. The weather has been beautiful.

I took both of these photos just this week on my street.

And, Thanksgiving WAS just over a week ago. We are having a Christmas party in 9 days and my classroom looked like THIS the other day. Honestly, I don't know about you, but when class ended right before Thanksgiving, I WASN'T worried at that point about making sure the class came back to a room ready for Christmas. I love my class, they are a really kind and sweet group.....but they are 5 and have non-stop energy! So much so, that I love joking that working with them can be compared to what it might look like if one were to try to change the laundry right in the middle of the spin cycle. When we came back after the Thanksgiving break, my classroom still looked like this...


Immediately upon returning, only 3 days later, we hosted an Open House for prospective new parents to come check out the school. We were told we didn't have to create new projects for this, but I felt that with it now being December, I shouldn't have up all my Thanksgiving decorations, so what to do in such a short time?

I took a break from the academics in the middle of the day on Monday and Tuesday and got the kids all excited by telling them we were going to work like little elves to create some beautiful Christmas decorations for the room. They LOVED that.

We created the penguins from Deep Space Sparkle's website. You can see some painting their stripes in the foreground while others were creating their "anything goes" penguins with cut paper, glue, jewels, buttons, cotton balls, and any other scraps we have in the classroom. I love how each one of them turned out differently. After the students created their penguin iceberg with oil pastels, I had them glue their penguin to it and then both of those to their painted stripes background. You can not tell from the photo, but some of the paint was sparkle paint. I cut wavy lines around their creation and matted those against black paper to make the colors pop more.

We also made these cute Rudolphs in only one day. I did a directed instruction drawing lesson. They drew their reindeer with crayons and colored it in. They later painted a background with either blue or green watercolor paint. I added bottled, silver watercolor paint to each color so that the final product has a sheen to it (that you can't see in the picture).

I obviously need to talk to Santa about a drying rack. I made due with letting the masterpieces dry on our playdoh mats. We were literally working on these in any spare moments we had in between our academics. Thankfully, they dried fairly quickly, so I just ran my scissors around them in a wavy cut and matted them on red paper to bring out Rudolph's nose.

We also had a visit from our 4th grade buddies, so we worked together to make these angels. I have purple doors in my classroom, so these looked pretty nice on the back of our doors (which we do have to keep closed during the day for fire safety regulations).

The angels are a pattern cut-out from our Bible curriculum, but can be made easily by cutting out the 5 pieces from construction paper. The students decorated the lines on the angel gowns with glitter glue in colors of their choice and used star stickers in any design they wanted around their angel.

Some other touches I added: hung silver snowflakes on a wire across the room, silver garland and red and white lights above the whiteboard, a life-sized light up snowman, and numerous light-up snowmen around the room.

I didn't take the best pictures to highlight the decorations, but in only two days, they were able to make projects that transformed the room from Thanksgiving to Christmas. I do have one with my co-worker who teaches across the hall. We did Open House together in my room.

After the room was set, we put out "stations" for the parents to visit.



We also had a PHONICS and READING table too. The handwritten title placards were obviously an after-thought, so for our next one in a few weeks, we will print them. 

With so little space to display, I'd love to hear what you all do for Open House. 

I'd also love to hear about the ideas you have for your students to decorate your classroom in the next few days that you have together.

Finally, I'd like to thank Megan Favre at A Bird in Hand Designs for my new blog design. She put a lot of time into making it look so much better. Check out her site if you are interested in redesigning your blog.

A Bird in Hand Designs


Monday, September 7, 2015

LaborLESS Learning, Work Smarter, Not Harder

Hello everyone!

Main Graphic Laborless

It is Finally here!

Today I am linking with Laura from Where the Magic Happens, Krista from Teaching Momster, and Lisa from PAWsitively Teaching! I have joined forces once again with my bloggy friends to bring you the best, most amazing giveaway on this Labor Day weekend!
All of us have been thinking about  good ways in which to treat our readers and followers.   We thought hard, and I mean it! Really, really hard… and decided that  we can treat you to our best ideas to work smarter rather than harder… at school and home!
I know what it takes to be a great teacher, the stress, the time, the energy… I could go on and on! I also know that we crave time to ourselves and our families.

So here I go!


Some of you have not yet ventured back into the classroom yet. For some of us, we are already beginning our fourth week of teaching this year. In the spirit of Labor Day in which the country honors the American labor movement and contributions made by workers to this country, a number of your fellow teachers are bringing the LaborLESS Blog Hop to you! We've done most of the work so you you have LESS to do if you like our ideas.

Each of us is sharing a way for you to work smarter, not harder while teaching this year.

I have an amazing new co-worker named Eddie Moral this year. He has taught kinder like me for years and I am really excited about learning some new tricks of the trade from him. Most of the ideas I am sharing here have come from him. We do our lesson planning together midweek and can decide what we would like to put up on our boards.

One idea he brought is to have a "highlight" board for just about anything we teach in the classroom. Initially, it "may" be a little more work, but in the long run, everything can be saved for the next year. 

First, create borders for each board. I used my favorite KG Font and printed them this way and pasted them onto black paper to make them pop a bit more when I put them onto my boards. I chose colors that would go well with all the paper I put on my boards.

When school began, I didn't have anything hanging. As we learned, I had the students help us to think about the vocabulary and topics we we were learning about. I wrote each vocab word on a sentence strip and let the students share the word and tell what they knew about the word. If they could give me an example using the word, we went with that too.
Just add vocab words and anything else that can be a visual for what you are learning about.

Eddie's Math board

Eddie's Science board

my Science board

We then added those words to our learning boards. We added posters and anything we were working with that could be a good visual to remind us about what we were learning about for that day/week. 

Eddie's Phonics board

Two really neat things came out of doing our boards like this. 
One, as the students are leaving for the day, one of the last things we can quickly do is review the vocab that is on each board. That, coupled with the visuals, help the students to be able to remember what they learned. Hopefully, when they get into the car and someone asks them what they learned, they will be able to remember.
The other great thing that happened as a result of doing out boards like this is that now, when parents come into the classroom, they can SEE what their child is learning about in each subject.

Now, every week, when we change what we are doing, we can take down the sentence strip vocab words, examples of work we hung up, and anything worth saving like poster pieces and place them in a file for next year. Your new students can still generate vocab, but chances are, a lot of it will be the same and you'll already have some of it written.


I tend to get home REALLY late. I tutor after school most days. It doesn't leave much time for unwinding. At this time of the year, the clouds that never seem to drop any water on us in California put on a beautiful display, so I like to sit out front and check out the sunset at the end of my court.

On the weekends, I love to unwind by spending time with my family out in nature. My youngest loves to go places to shoot photos with his camera around the San Francisco Bay Area. He takes beautiful shots. These ones were only taken with my cell phone.


Now for some REAL LaborLESS work for you. I have created a number of items that we use in our classroom that I'd like to share with you for FREE!

This is a 22 page vocabulary development packet. It includes 5 pages of short vowel words to read, write, and draw. It also includes 5 pages of long vowel words to read, write, and draw. It includes 5 pages of short vowel words in a word bank that are used by the student to write a creative sentence and space is given to draw a depiction of that sentence. 5 more pages are included to do the same with long vowel words. 1 page includes all 50 vocabulary words used in the packet.

This is a five page compound word activity sheet. There are 3 sets of words on the first four pages. The last sheet has space for the student to come up with three of their own compound words. Each page has a word to read, a space to write the word, and a space to draw the word. The blank page can also be used to program compound words you may want to introduce or work with.

This is a 16 page journal style packet. It has a cover and 16 pages of writing prompts to be finished and space to draw a depiction of each prompt on each page. This would be a great book to keep for the end of the year Open House!

Top all these great tips and ideas  with these top-notch prizes!

A $100 gift card to Amazon

A $50 gift card to TpT


2 $25 gift cards to TpT

1 $10 gift card to TpT

Thank you for reading! And now don't be silly and get your hands all over this awesome giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hop on over to these other blogs. These teachers have all shared LaborLESS ideas to make this your most LaborLESS school year yet!

When you visit their blogs, enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win these amazing prizes!


Monday, August 3, 2015

Back to School Deals and FREEBIES!

If you haven't heard yet, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a 2 day Back to School sale. Tons of sellers are participating in the sale. Many of the sellers also offer lots of freebies in their store, so this is a terrific place to find tons of great products to use for your upcoming school year. 

If you head over to my store, I am offering 28% off of EVERYTHING in my store. Click on the picture above to check out my store. Remember to use the code BTS15 to receive your full discount. Below are a few of my best sellers and some FREEBIES for you too!

On sale for only $2.40
Sheets that help your student to learn how to work with 1/2 fractions include:
Coloring half a shape according to location (right, left, top, bottom)Identifying shapes that are divided equallyIdentifying shapes that are not divided equallyWord problems with 1/2 fractionsLooking at half a shape and completing the shapeIdentifying how many squares are in half a setThese can be completed as worksheets or laminated and used with colored whiteboard markers.Sheets that help your student to learn how to work with 1/4th fractions include:Coloring 1/4 of a shapeIdentifying shapes that are evenly divided by 1/4ths and ones that are notLearning to divide the same shape two different ways to still get 1/4ths with a circle and a squareIdentifying what area of a shape a 1/4th is located in (upper right, lower left)These can be completed as worksheets or laminated and used with colored whiteboard markers.Common Core Math Standard Geometry 1 G. 33. Partition circles and rectangles into two and four equal shares

On Sale for only $2.80!
52 pages total.
26 pages of initial sounds phonics morning work!
For each letter of the alphabet as it introduced:
Identify capital and lowercase letters.
Identify key words that begin with given initial sounds.
Color key word pictures that begin with initial sounds.
Write capital and lowercase letters.
Trace keywords for fine-motor practice.

26 pages of more morning work!
Each time you introduce a new letter in phonics, you can use one of these pages to reinforce the letter sound with a keyword and picture of that keyword. Students trace the initial sound letter, trace the word, and further develop their fine-motor skills through coloring a picture of the key word. All 26 letters have their own page.

On Sale for only $2.40!
15 pages of school memories to create. The packet begins with the student drawing their self-portrait in August and signing their name. Each month, there is a journal prompt for the student to tell something about the school year and a space for the student to draw it. In December, the student will again draw themselves and sign their name to show growth in both areas. The packet continues through June with the student drawing themselves and signing their page with their name one last time. Topics covered in the packet are:
Favorite things done, new things learned, favorite parties and field trips, things done with friends, favorite part of the school year and more!
This is the perfect packet to include in a year-end portfolio to show parents growth in both penmanship and fine motor drawing skills as well as newly learned attention to details and descriptive writing capabilities. It includes a cover without a colored background for those who want to save on ink or print the cover on their own colored background.


This is a 22 page vocabulary development packet. It includes 5 pages of short vowel words to read, write, and draw. It also includes 5 pages of long vowel words to read, write, and draw. It includes 5 pages of short vowel words in a word bank that are used by the student to write a creative sentence and space is given to draw a depiction of that sentence. 5 more pages are included to do the same with long vowel words. 1 page includes all 50 vocabulary words used in the packet.

16 pages of journal prompts about your children. Each page includes a space for the student to draw about their writing. 

It is my hope that some of the creations I made for my students can help to make your lives easier. I wish all of you a great BACK TO SCHOOL!


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