Sunday, December 20, 2015

Caring, Sharing, and Preparing Linky Party #2

Welcome back for a second round of Caring, Sharing, and Preparing.  I am so glad you are here!

(If you missed the details on this linky party, feel free to check them out here.)

I am grateful to be under the leadership of a school district and wonderful principal who see the value in and prioritize character education.  We have 5 district-wide character traits: respect, kindness, responsibility, honesty, and perseverance.

We are currently focusing on kindness, which brings me to the topic of this post!  I want to tell you about some kindness activities we have been doing in our classroom lately, in hopes that you might find a book, video, or an idea that you will be interested in sharing with your students.

Let me start with some amazing children's picture books that we read and discussed in our classroom.  Each of these books correlate with the kindness theme.

Be Polite and Kind by Cheri Meiners

We talked quite a bit about how kindness has a ripple effect.  These videos are FABULOUS for getting this point across to young kiddos.

Color Your World with Kindness by A Better World

I have watched this video below so many times over the past few years and to this day, I cannot watch it without getting choked up.  (This is why Mrs. Unger randomly walks around the room and pretends to be busy doing something else when this video is played, hehe.)

Kindness Boomerang - "One Day" by Life Vest Inside

All About Kindness by Harry Kindergarten Music

Naturally, we are a bucket-filling classroom.  This picture was taken before school started, but now each of these buckets have a student photo on them.  My kiddos can show kindness in two ways: 1) by placing a "warm fuzzy" (craft pom pom ball) in someone else's bucket or 2) by writing them a kind note.  We use some freebie notes from Teaching Mrs. T, but there are SO MANY wonderful freebie notes on Teachers Pay Teachers that I am sure you can find the perfect one for you.  Just be sure to leave a kind thank you message to the creator!  :)

Of course, we also read all the bucket-filling books that Mrs. Unger owns:

How Full Is Your Bucket? For Kids by Tom Rath and Mary Reckmeyer

Fill a Bucket: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Young Children by Carol McCloud and Katherine Martin

One of my favorite kindness activities is called the "Compliment Car Wash."  Unfortunately, I only took a video (no photos) and said student names aloud, so I cannot share the video.  But basically, this is what you do:

1) Have the students line up in two parallel lines facing each other, but be sure they leave some space between the two lines.

2) One student at a time walks between the two lines, while the rest of the class randomly says compliments about that person.

Of course, all the students are talking over each other, but they truly LOVE this activity, which is evident by the smiles on their faces.  It feels good to know you are receiving so many kind compliments from your peers!

Now it is YOUR TURN!  Have you written a blog post recently that could fall under one of these categories below?  I am betting you have.  Be sure to link it up here as a way to share great ideas with others.

Grab the images you need and link up below!

As always, thank you for stopping by!  :)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Featured Teacher Tuesday - Week 10

Hey everyone! Welcome back for another week of Featured Teacher Tuesday. This week we are showcasing Melinda King from Tales of the Sassy Teacher. (

Melinda is married with 2 children who are 10 months apart. She has started her 15th year of teaching. Melinda has been at the same school for her entire career. She has taught 1/2 split classes for 2 years, 2/3 split for 1 year, 2nd grade for 2 years, K-2 reading teacher for 5 years, K-2 writing for 4 years, and this year she is teaching 1st grade math. Melinda’s dream is to teach Kindergarten or her 1st graders all day with all subjects.

Melinda has been on TPT since 2011 but has not really started selling until a year ago. She loves to create products that are not just for sales. She creates to get her students excited about learning.
Some of the products in her store that her kids love using are…


Thanks for stopping by!  :)  Be sure to check out these other fab first grade teachers by clicking the links below.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Caring, Sharing, and Preparing Linky Party #1

(If you missed the details on how this linky party works, please click here to learn about it!)

Welcome to the very first-ever round of the Caring, Sharing, and Preparing linky party!  Here is my contribution...

I have made several changes to our dismissal routine this school year.  During those first weeks of school, dismissal was the most stressful part of our day, so I have been tweaking it ever since.  I am getting closer to being in a "happy place."  I wanted to share these changes with you in hopes that you can pick up a tip or two that will make your dismissal less stressful.  Here is what our daily end-of-day routine looks and sounds like.

The first thing we do to get our dismissal routine started is that I pass out our dismissal clips.  I bought ours at the Dollar Tree.  We use the ladybug, frog, and bumblebee ones, but I have seen the alligator clips in the store, too, and they seem durable as well.
Each student gets a clip.  I write their names on the back with permanent marker.  They attach the clip to themselves right away (usually on their shirt / jacket collar or sleeve) so they do not lose it.  When we eventually get outside and they see the adult who is responsible for picking them up, they know to hand me (in my hand...not in my basket) their clip.  The purpose is accountability and safety.  I want to know, to the best of my ability, that my students are safe and leaving school with the correct person.  For the most part, my students are great about remembering to give their clips back to me.  This is one strategy I used in the past as a Kindergarten teacher and even those young kiddos remembered.

During those first weeks of school, I was passing out my students' homework folders, homework (sometimes multiple papers), notes from the office, classroom newsletters, etc. with the assistance of a few student helpers.  But most of our class was just sitting at their tables chit-chatting, which is okay for a few minutes, I guess, except they would get louder... and louder... and LOUDER!  Mrs. Unger was going bonkers!  I needed to figure something else out.

Enter these magical "mailboxes" (or at least that is what we call these hanging pocket charts).  I got this idea from one of my first grade teammates.

I bought them at a local teacher store, but you can order them online (example - Really Good Stuff).  They certainly were not cheap, in my opinion, especially when I had to buy four of them.  However, they have saved time and my sanity!  SO.WORTH.THE.MONEY.  I was lucky to have that pocket chart stand in my classroom already and it was not yet being used for anything, so it worked out.  But you could hang them anywhere within student reach really.

The most recent change to our dismissal routine is this song"Bye Bye Goodbye" by Super Simple Songs.

The song itself is about two minutes long, so when there are only two minutes left on the clock before the end-of-day bell rings, I play this song.  Not only do my students know they have two minutes left to empty their mailboxes, zip their coats, put on their hats, and so on... a calm also comes over the room.  The students quiet down and sing this tune.  They have even started making up their own gestures!  #totalcuteness

The last thing we do is say a see-saw chant.  In other words, I say a line, my students say the next line, etc.  There are many versions of this chant out there, but I have this one hanging in our classroom:

This freebie comes from Shannon at Technology Rocks - Seriously.  My students know there must be silence at the end of the chant.  This is my gentle way of saying, "Zip it!  We are entering the hallway."

If you are stressing out at the end of the day, try asking yourself, "What are we doing during dismissal that could instead be done during some other part of the day?"

I asked myself this question and then I decided to move the time in which we check out take-home books.  We were doing it at the end of the day and some days, my students would not get to check out books because we ran out of time.  Not cool.  Now we check out take-home books during quiet time.  Our quiet time used to be only about 5 minutes, which was enough time for me to take afternoon attendance, address issues that may have come up during recess and/or lunch, etc.  So unfortunately, yes, checking out books during this block of time lengthened our quiet time, but it is a much better option than the end of the day.

Okay, I have one more tip for you.  If your students go into a coat room or out in the hallway to retrieve their backpacks and such (like my kids do), I suggest having them bring everything into the classroom, instead of getting dressed out there.  Now this is coming from a Wisconsin teacher, so when I say "get dressed," I am referring to the jackets, hats, gloves, snow pants, and snow boots that my students put on.  This takes some time, especially if I am not keeping an eye on them, they start to dawdle and chit-chat too much.  Some of them struggle to carry everything back into the classroom, but they help each other and work it out.

Do you have any other dismissal tips to share that work in your classroom?  I would love to hear your ideas!  Please comment below.

Alright, now it is your turn - yay!  Do you have a recent blog post to share that falls under at least one of these categories?

If so, grab the image(s) above and the blog button below to include in your post, then link up below!

As always, thanks for stopping by!  :)

Friday, December 11, 2015

Join Me for a New and EASY Linky Party!

My new(ish) blog quote, Teaching Excellence by Caring, Sharing, and Preparing, got me thinking one day... "that would make for an easy-to-join linky party."  So then I contacted the fabulous Alexis Sanchez and asked her to design some linky party images for me.
Check 'em out!

So what makes this linky party so EASY to join?'s because you can link up just about any of your blog posts, as long as it falls under one of the three categories below.

What types of blog posts can be categorized as "caring?"  Here are just a few ideas that pop into my brain:

  • suggestions for picture books that focus on character education
  • ideas for teaching students how to resolving conflicts in healthy ways
  • tips on how you help students with extreme emotional challenges
  • ways that you make learning fun and engaging for your students so they want to come to school
  • suggestions on how to build a strong school-to-home connection
  • tips for how you build community in your classroom

Oh my word!  We teachers are constantly preparing... for back to school, Christmas projects, 100th Day of School celebrations, Parent / Teacher Conferences, extension activities for gifted students, weekly lesson never ends.  So if you have procedural tips, light bulb moments, ideas, or anything that will help others prepare as well, we would love to hear them!

I think this category is my favorite because I love to share!  I think my colleagues might believe I am a little crazy because I get excited when other teachers visit my room to browse and borrow from my over-the-top abundant classroom library.  As they say, sharing is caring!

If your blog post does not fit in one of the above two categories, I bet it will fit in this one!  Here are some ideas:

  • classroom management tips
  • free products
  • news that other teachers might find helpful
  • photos of your classroom organization
  • tips on differentiated instruction

I bet you are now thinking of blog posts you already write that you could link up here, right!?  You might also be wondering... what types of posts do NOT belong in this linky party?

Please DO NOT link up posts if you are just looking to promote and sell your products or anything like that.  If you are looking to get something out of this (other than the satisfaction of knowing you are helping others), this is not the link-up for you.  I really want us to stick to the selfless theme of caring, sharing, and preparing.  Any posts that do not fall under those categories will be deleted.  Thank you for understanding.

Okay, so let's talk logistics.  When can you count on this linky party being up?  That is where I would love YOUR feedback!  As much as I love to plan ahead, I can also just "go with it" (sometimes, haha) and this would be one of those times.  I was nervous about attempting to host a linky party at first because, of course, there is always the chance that it could be a big 'ole fat fail.  But I try to have a growth mindset, so I am just going with it!

I am going to post the first linky party TOMORROW and try to get the word out there as much as I can on social media.  Then I am going to follow whatever direction is given to me.  Thanks for sharing any feedback you have to offer!

So grab any of the images above to include in your blog post, be sure to mention this linky party, and join me back here tomorrow!  I am SO looking forward to reading all your brilliant ideas!

As always, thanks for stopping by!  :)

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Featured Teacher Tuesday - Week 9

Welcome back for another round of Featured Teacher Tuesday! This week, meet Sarah Hankinson from Learning is for Superstars!

Sarah and her husband, Josh, just had the adoption of their daughters finalized! They were foster parents for these girls for 414 days before they became a forever family.


2015-11-21 12.48.31.jpg

Sarah is in her fifteenth year of teaching in central Virginia and is a Liberty University graduate. She taught 8 years in fourth grade before moving six years ago to first grade. She has an interesting group this year - a combination of first and second graders! All of these years have been at the same school.

Even with the business of life and teaching a combo class, she loves to create whenever possible!  The most popular item in her Teachers Pay Teachers store is her money pack for first graders. It is full of counting pennies, nickels, and dimes individually and in mixed groups. There are picture cards with money amounts to sort and match, along with printables for each coin. Since Sarah teaches in VA, which does not have Common Core standards, this is designed to meet Standards of Learning for Virginia.

Another popular unit is her Benjamin Franklin pack, one of the famous Americans taught to first graders in Virginia, although the social studies standards change for next year! Included is an informational booklet, along with word/picture matching cards, word search, and comprehension questions.

Who doesn’t need a quick print and go, especially at this time of the year?! Look no further! Sarah’s Christmas print and go is perfect for your first graders! Full of 20 black and white printables, including labeling, beginning sounds, syllables, CVC words, writing prompts, alphabetical order, addition fact fluency, and word problems!

And for a winter freebie, which will last you past Christmas and into January! Children LOVE "I Spy" activities and this one reviews the ability to distinguish between long and short vowel sounds.

Want to follow Sarah? Use the links below!

As always, thank you for stopping by! :)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Trendy Teacher Linky Party - I Think!?

Hey all!  Soooooo - I am not really sure what has happened to the Trendy Teachers linky party.  Perhaps it is now a no-go?  I have been searching (for weeks) for the link-up without any luck.  If you have any info, please pass it my way!

Well, I had this post written up already, so I just figured I could share it anyway.  Here goes!

This outfit may not be trendy, but it is definitely a teacher outfit!  LOL  It includes an apple / teacher shirt, apple earrings, and a teacher necklace (which also includes an apple), haha!

Okay, this outfit is not trendy either, but I just had to share.  Check out my personalized school t-shirt that I ordered online!

I was nervous about putting the "1" on the back because I did not want people to think #1.  It is supposed to represent 1st grade (but I could not get the "st" in there).

black peep-toe flats - Nine West
black lace skirt - Banana Republic
pink sweater - Old Navy
necklace - local artists show (birthday gift from my mama a few years ago)

yellow shoes - Aldo
gray pants - The Gap
yellow button-down shirt - Ralph Lauren
vest - H&M

I kept my outfit simple and comfortable for my FIRST observation by my new principal in my new school district!  :)

navy blue polka dot ballet flats - Old Navy
wool pants - Banana Republic
button-down shirt - American Eagle
lightweight sweater - The Gap (I think)

Aren't the buttons on the shoulder cute!?

This was my Veterans Day outfit...festive, but not over the top.  (I told you I wrote this post up a few weeks ago!)

cream wedges - Aldo
navy blue pants - Banana Republic
cream cable-knit sweater - The Gap
cardigan - Urban Outfitters
necklace and earrings - Francesca's

Thanks for stopping by!  :)