Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to School with Bic ... GIVEAWAY!

It's the final long weekend of the summer before we all head back to school on Tuesday.
What better way to go back than with a HUGE prize pack from Bic!
I was asked to review some of their products and, boy, am I impressed!
 
Look at all of these products that were sent to me!
I could hard wait to get my hands on them!
 
I absolutely love this stylus!  The yellow raised line in the middle of the stylus guides students to keep their fingers in the correct spot, as if using a pencil.
With a big push this year for using technology in the classroom, and the iPad being so popular in my class, I can't wait to introduce this stylus to the children.
 
This pen is great for the children, too, because it also has the yellow raised line for proper finger placement, but it allows you to peel and stick a label where you can write your child's name on it (as you can see by the picture, my daughter really loves this pen!)
 
These coloured Atlantis pens are perfect for colour-coding my Teacher Planner and Calendar.
I write so many things down for the month that it helps to have them in different colours.
 
My little guy will be starting JK next month (equivalent to Pre-K in the USA) and I love how this mechanical pencil teaches him where to place his fingers as he is still learning how to hold a pencil properly and write his name.
(I wrote his name on this pencil using the labels that come with it before my daughter could claim this as her own too!)
 
I have always used the Bic 4-colour pens because I love that you get 4 different colours on one pen.  So easy for me when I am planning for my students.
 
My ECE and I write a LOT of documentation notes in the classroom on a daily basis.
These Atlantis pens glide so easily that I can write quickly without having the pen smudge.
 
I can't wait to put these metallic pencils out at the Writing Centre this year.  I know that the students will love them...especially because they shine!
 
Want to win all of the above?
Here's your chance!
Simply enter the Rafflecopter below...but hurry!  Contest closes on Tuesday!
(***CONTEST OPEN TO US RESIDENTS ONLY***)
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 


Thursday, August 28, 2014

Classroom Setup...with lots of photos!

I'm done!!!
My classroom is officially ready to go for our first day back at school next Tuesday.
A few things have changed from last year (you can see those photos by clicking here) and I think the kids will just love it!
Let me take you around...
This is the view as soon as you walk in to the room.  The table straight ahead is our snack table.
The children can eat snack anytime they are hungry.  They just grab their snack, wash hands, sit down and eat.
Sometimes the table gets full.  I simply tell children that it's like a restaurant:  sometimes you have to wait for a table!
 
This is the side where the shelves and sinks are.  My sand and sensory boxes are there.  The classroom library is at the back corner (with a beautiful lamp from Ikea).
 
Here is my guided reading/writing area.  I house a lot of my books back here, and since I don't have a teacher's desk anymore (got rid of it a few years back), that white drawer you see in the background is now my desk!
Student portfolios are kept on the shelf behind this table too.  The children can go anytime to get them (they are the white binders you see).
 
Here's a closer look at the snack table.  In the centre, there is a glass Lazy Susan on top of a mirror.  I have a glass that holds scissors (so that the children can learn to cut their own snacks open and not ask one of the teachers) and cutlery.  Once they use something, they know to wash it and then put it on the drying rack (at the end of the day I always go back and rewash it before putting it away just in case!).  Oh, and I love plants so I had to add a small one there!
 
This is the newest addition to my classroom....and it's, by far, one of my favourite places in the room!
I plan on making it provocation table, or place interesting things that the children bring in.  Right now I am going to add my seashells that I found on my vacation to Jamaica (I already added my seashells book).
I found this table at Value Village for only $15!
All 4 legs on the table were a little loose so my husband had to fix those, otherwise, a quick cleaning and it was in great shape!
The wicker chair is from Ikea.  I have to bring the other one in next week so for now I just put smaller chairs around.
I also found the mirrors at Ikea last year and finally found a great place for them!
(Just like plants, I love mirrors around the room!)
 
If you remember my art studio from last year, I had it on the other side of the room.  This summer I read a lot about FDK classrooms and searched many pictures and realized that moving the art area to a place full of natural light would be much better.
 
Here's another view of the art studio (complete with a lamp and mirror too!).
I'll add various glass containers full of beads, tissue, glitter, sparkles soon too!
Don't you love the mirror?
Another Value Village find...$15!
 
The Dramatic Centre has always been a popular place in my classroom.  All of the children love role playing so much that I moved this centre to the middle of my class and made it the focal point (it's also the area that is the largest since so many children play here).
Stay tuned for all that this area becomes in the next few months - for more information, you might want to check out my Dramatic Play Centres - The Complete Set.
I added a new tablecloth, real cutlery and, of course, the ceramic tableware from Ikea.
Many people ask me if all of the glass and ceramic breaks in the room.  We spend a great deal of time the first few weeks of class teaching the children how to properly handle all the materials in the room so luckily we haven't had any accidents!  Also, my floor looks like hardwood but it's actually a soft rubber so even when things fall by accident, they don't break.
 
This area is the Writing Centre.  It's pretty much the same as last year, I just turned it sideways to add more room.
The children are invited to write in any way, shape or form so a variety of materials, including my Vocabulary Flip Books, are here.
 
It's a little hard to tell from this picture, but these are mason jars filled with water and food colouring.
I love how they look in the light.  Not only is this area aesthetically appealing, we always seem to discuss colours the first few weeks of school and the children enjoy colour mixing and talking about the various shades they see.
 
I made this area my Math Centre - I really want the children to experiment with different math manipulatives and I'm hoping to replace this carpet with the Learning Carpet.
 
My ECE works daily with small groups of children so I wanted to give her an area where she can house her resources/manipulatives and have lots of space with the kids.
 
The blocks are on these two shelves around the carpet area.
 
Here's a picture of the front of my room, where my Bright Links board is.  I also post my Daily Schedule so that everyone knows what our day looks like.
To learn more about our visual schedule click here.
 
This is our classroom library.  Although a little small, I know that this area will be comfortable and quiet.  I added the doll house here as well.
 
I can't wait to see how the children love their new classroom next week!
 
Stay tuned for a HUGE giveaway to help you kick start your school year...coming VERY soon!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Learning from Others

With just under a week to go until the start of another school year, I often find myself thinking and rethinking what my classroom will look like this year.
I have been in to school a few times already, setting up and beginning to plan for a fabulous year.
A few teachers have emailed me and have come to visit my classroom this week to discuss setup, routines, and the new FDK program.
I love that as teachers, we always strive to learn more, help each other and try new things.
This past summer I have discovered some amazing local teacher blogs that I wanted to share with you.
These teachers, although I have not met most of them, have touched my heart in many ways, and have brought me lots of inspiration.
Hopefully you will find that as well by following their journey.
 
I met Joanne Babalis last fall while taking Kindergarten Part 1.
Those 3 months were magical for me.  I began to see how transforming your classroom into a place filled with opportunities and dreams for children is so meaningful.
Her blog, My Classroom Transformation, has lots of ideas on setting up your classroom, introducing provocations to the students, and the use of natural materials as learning resources.
 
Elissa Iagallo has many beautiful pictures of students "playing"...building, writing, creating.
You can see more about how she uses documentation in her classroom by visiting her blog
 
When I discovered Kim Clark's blog this past school year, Beginning with Inquiry in Kindergarten, I was hooked! I love how she uses simple materials to create meaningful experiences for children.
She has a variety of ideas that highlights outdoor education as well.
 
This school year I plan on focusing on "I see...", "I think" and "I wonder" as we explore new inquiries and projects in our class.
Trista Dutt captures students' ideas, thoughts, experiences and wonders through her blog
 
I absolutely love the team-teaching happening in Jocelyn Schmidt's and Heidi Theis' classroom!
What a dynamic duo!
There are incredible photos capturing all the learning at various centres on their blog
 
Mrs. Hennessey documents student learning very well in her blog Mrs. Hennessey's K's.
I love the simple resources available for the students in her classroom and the things that they created using them.
 
You can really see how students think and create together to make beautiful things in Mr. Berberick's K class!  Be sure to look through all the photos highlighting student learning in his blog
 
There are so many wonderful teachers out there who share the story of all that is happening in their classrooms.  If you have a blog, or know of another FDK blog that has not been mentioned, please link up below.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A little shopping at Ikea!

I just love Ikea....I mean LOVE it!
It's a store that has so much, for not that much money.
Every year, before I head back to work, I spend all day a few hours shopping at Ikea for things I can use in my classroom. 
Here's what I found last weekend...
These paper lights are my absolute favourite!
I bought the ones on the right last year and have them in my classroom....guess how much....under $10!
I think I'm going to go back and pick up the light on the right too!
The students simply adore the lamps all over the classroom.
These small table lamps are perfect too - for just about anywhere in my class!
They add a perfect decorative element as well as being functional.
I found these curtains for only $5 (for a set of 2) and so I had to pick them up.  I'm hoping to hang them over my Dramatic Centre to give it more of a cozy feeling.
I couldn't resist these beautiful baskets....don't know exactly what I plan on doing with them but they will most definitely be used for something!
I think these $1 photo frames are the best find at Ikea.  I mean, who can't use these photo frames for just about anything...displaying student work, instructions, pictures, and so much more!
Baskets, baskets and more baskets....a teacher can never have enough, right?!?!
Last year, I started adding plants to my classroom, which gave it a feeling as if you were at home or outdoors.  I love how plants look and feel in the classroom, so, of course, I picked up a few more.
These small and large planting baskets were on SALE (what a great deal!) - not only did I get some for my new plants, I plan on putting the small blocks from the block centre in them too.
Just as I was leaving, I found these three books and added them to my cart...I simply can't have enough books!
 
I know I will be back to Ikea before school starts in a few weeks time.
 
If you'd like to see pictures of my classroom from last year, click here.
Stay tuned for updated classroom set up photos coming soon!


Sunday, August 03, 2014

Skill Building Take-Me-Home BUNDLE!

I am going into my 10th year of teaching.. all of which is in kindergarten!
I've noticed, year after year, that some students could benefit from extra practice with certain skills.
As much as you may work with them, there are always a few that require extra practice and time.
So that's why my teaching partner, Ann-Marie Parisi, and I created these skill-building take-me-home packs
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Skill-Building-Take-Me-Home-Pack-Alphabet-1333381
Here is the Alphabet pack - it's full of letter matching, letter-sound correspondence, beginning sounds and more!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Skill-Building-Take-Me-Home-Pack-Phonics-1333494
This one focuses on Phonics - spelling simple CVC words, beginning and ending sounds, CCVC words and  more!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Skill-Building-Take-Me-Home-Pack-BUNDLE-1335071
You can use these packs in so many ways!
We are getting ours ready to use as "Take-Me-Home" Packs - we will be sending them home with students who need extra reinforcement and can practice with their parents or siblings at home.
Best part is - all of the activities inside are hands-on!
(There are also worksheets included with each activity if you would like to use these as part of your assessment.)
You can also use these activities with your small groups to review key concepts.
I love that you can store them all in Ziploc bags and keep them handy for when you need them!
We keep all of the activities for each unit in a large zippered pouch.  We found these at the Dollar Store.  Each activity comes with a label to print and use for the front of each bag. 
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Skill-Building-Take-Me-Home-Pack-BUNDLE-1335071
Each activity (or game) is stored in a Ziploc bag.  We put the instructions page in a sheet protector. 
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Skill-Building-Take-Me-Home-Pack-BUNDLE-1335071
All of the activities then go into the zippered bag.
There is a parent sign-out sheet as well included with each.
You can use these packs in so many ways!
We are getting ours ready to use as "Take-Me-Home" Packs - we will be sending them home with students who need extra reinforcement and can practice with their parents or siblings at home.
Best part is - all of the activities inside are hands-on!
(There are also worksheets included with each activity if you would like to use these as part of your assessment.)
You can also use these activities with your small groups to review key concepts.
I love that you can store them all in Ziploc bags and keep them handy for when you need them!
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Skill-Building-Take-Me-Home-Pack-BUNDLE-1335071
We have 2 activities so far, but will be creating lots more!
If you are interested in purchasing the BUNDLE it's at a discounted price for limited time.
The price will increase as we add more to it.
Best part is...
http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Alessia-Albanese
everything in my store is on SALE for 20% off starting tomorrow for 2 days!
Don't forget to use coupon code BTS14 for an additional 10% off.
That's HUGE savings!