Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Organizing school supplies

I have tables in my classroom.  Each table seats up to 6 students, though since I have a max of 20 students each year, I usually put 5 per table.  I use community supplies, because it's difficult to find a place to put 20 crayon boxes when you have no cubbies in your room either!  I think the community supplies work out well, so I'm going to stick with them another year.

However, this year, I have a bit of a dilemma.  In years past, I have used crayon boxes and plastic slider pencil cases on each table.  Each table gets 2 crayon boxes and 1 slider pencil case, matched to my table colors.  It's a lot of work finding the crayon boxes in the correct colors!  I have a blue, red, green and yellow table.
The other problem?  I HATE THEM.  The slider pencil cases get on my nerves, and by the end of the year they are so destroyed that I have to buy new ones the next year.  The kids pull the inner plastic part out completely, then don't put it back correctly.  The plastic on the bottom gets bent, they no longer snap... a complete nightmare!  

I am also completely anal retentive when it comes to school supply storage.  It's probably more ridiculous than it should be, considering 6 and 7 year olds are using them, but I just have a need for all the pencil boxes and slider cases to be the same type.  Red table has to have 2 red crayon boxes and 1 red pencil case.  Blue table has to have 2 blue crayon boxes and 1 blue pencil case.  And on it goes.  The crayon boxes have to be the same design, or I go crazy.  Same with the pencil cases.  And all I've seen in stores this year are blue and pink crayon boxes.  That doesn't work at all.  (For the record, I have the ones from last year still, but they're all covered in crayon inside.  Eeewww.)

So I thought, maybe this year I'll do something different.  I've seen many teachers use table caddies to corral student materials.  So I went out and bought some caddies just in case.
I bought 2 different kinds of caddies to look at while I make my decision.  The ones I discard will go back to the store.  The black ones are from Meijer, and the colorful ones are from the Target dollar spot.

I realize that the black ones are all the same color while the Target ones are color coded by table.  I  thought an easy way to get around that was to add ribbon like Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle did in this post.  Too cute.  I already have several ribbon colors.  If I use the black ones, I can use ribbon colors like chartreuse or aqua instead of green and blue!  I think I'd much rather sit at the chartreuse table than the green table! :-)

More inspiration I found online was Erica Bohrer's table caddies made from a utensil organizer.  They are awesome!  I also saw larger cleaning supply caddies used as well.

So the other problem I have besides "which table caddy to use?" is "what do I put in them?"

As I stated, I have 5 students at each table that would need to share the supplies in each caddy.  The reason I had 2 boxes of crayons at each table is to make it easier to share supplies.  With 1 caddy, the supplies would have to sit in the middle of the table, making it more difficult for the students to share.  Then I thought about putting 2 crayon boxes in each caddy, which would barely fit and be a little awkward.  The Target caddies wouldn't allow it because 2 crayon boxes wouldn't fit.  I also need to store pencils in the caddies.  I bought small staplers for each table, though I haven't decided if I will put them at the tables or just hand them out when necessary.  I do NOT keep glue or scissors at the table, so the only things that really need to go in the caddies are crayons and pencils.  Possibly erasers.  

The Meijer caddy has 1 large opening, 1 medium sized opening, and 1 small opening.  The Target caddy has 1 large and 2 small.

I have been going over this over and over again.  I've looked online for ideas.  I could keep books in the caddies for students to read when they are finished.  Small notebooks to doodle in.  Erasers.  I am still mulling it over in my head.  Should I just go back to crayons and pencil boxes?  Do I try something new?  The question every teacher has every year!

So, that leads me to the question... do you have community supplies in your classroom?  How do you organize your supplies so your students can access them?  Any inspiration or help is appreciated!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Making a Rainbow

I am working on a project for my classroom... think you can guess what it is?

Once I finish, I will be sure to post!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Back to School Shopping

So my school doesn't start until August 21st, and teachers go back around August 17th, but I am still thinking about going back to school! I've even started doing some back to school shopping, even though I really don't need much this year. I'm really excited for that. :-) I was moved to a new grade level and a new classroom last year, so I decided on a theme last year and I'm going to stick with it again this year. Regardless, I can always spend money on my classroom, so I've bought a few things this summer that I'm excited about, and thought I'd share them with you!

My first stop was Meijer. While I actually stopped there for dog treats, I came across these cute butterfly placemats for $1 each and couldn't pass them up! I thought I could use them for placemats during math games so the dice wouldn't make such a loud noise on the tables. Or maybe as some sort of wall decoration. I haven't decided yet, but aren't they cute?

Then I went to the dollar store. I was inspired by another blogger who mentioned that they went to the dollar store and found those foam counting blocks. She mentioned using them as dice, or for word work, and I thought it was a great idea! So I bought 4 packs, just in case.

I also bought some subtraction reproducibles, which are subtraction worksheets (for homework) that are black and white. I just wish they had addition! (I'll just have to try another Dollar Tree!) I loved the giant money too- I can definitely use that in first grade!

This is a page from the reproducibles packet. Though it's supposed to be about subtraction, there were also a few pages about money and fractions!

Blue striped paper and green polka dotted paper. I haven't decided how I will use these yet, but I have a few ideas in my head! Possibly as backgrounds for student work or something?

Butterfly cutouts- I will use these to make number puzzles. For example, I can write a the number, then different ways to represent that number (tally marks, number sentences, etc...) and the kids can put the puzzles together. I have flowers at school that I can use for this too!

I took a class this summer that was all about parent engagement and involvement, specifically in literacy. We had to write an "Action Plan", and mine involved inviting parents in for Morning Meeting. I thought I could use these as the invitations for the students to write their note to their parents on.

I bought these 2 items at Hobby Lobby. The butterfly is a corkboard which goes with my "garden" classroom theme. The pink box is a toolbox.

You never know when you'll need tools in 1st grade! Seriously, my classroom has the worst placed, world's smallest bulletin boards ever. So I took a tablecloth and hung it on the wall and made my own! However, it is really difficult to hang stuff in the drywall, so I wanted a hammer to make it easier to hammer the tacks holding up my calendar pieces into the wall. The pink makes my eyes bleed a bit, but it was really cheap so I guess I'll put up with the pink.

The last thing I've bought for my classroom this year are these labels for my books. They are from VistaPrint, when they had 140 free labels in June. They are so cute! I'm just waiting for VistaPrint to have another sale like this so I can get some more!

I wanted to get matching postcards to send to my students at the beginning of the year, but you can only buy a minimum of 100. Since I have no more than 20 kids, that's 5 years of postcards- and there is no guarantee I will be in 1st grade for 5 years! I considered just putting "A Note from your Teacher" or "Welcome to Ms. B's class" on them instead. If I put "A Note from your Teacher", I could use them for positive postcards as well as welcome postcards. I am waiting for a sale on those too, so I guess I have a while to think about it!

So that's my shopping so far this year! Not very exciting, but it's still early! What have you purchased for the new school year?

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

First post

Hello, everyone!  My name is Erica, and I'm a first grade teacher.  This is my 5th year teaching.  I've taught 3  years in Kindergarten, and now I'm a first grade teacher.  This is my second year of 1st grade.  I guess you can say I'm joining the blogging world, even though I have another blog for my "real life."  :-)

My classroom theme for the past year (and this upcoming year, because I like it and I'm lazy) is a garden, thus the garden theme of my blog.  I'm really creative, ha ha ha.  I wanted to share some pictures of classrooms that inspired me, but I don't know how to link to Pinterest and have it show a picture.  I'm not in the mood to figure it out right now.  So... I'm not.  If anybody would like to help me out here, I'd like to know how to do 2 things:

1.  Link to Pinterest so it shows a picture and links to my board.  I swear, I've seen people do this!  I imagine I probably have to put the picture in my blog, then link it, but I was hoping there was an easier way so I can be lazy. :-)

2.  Link to Google Docs and show the preview of the document.  Though I don't have a lot, I do have a few things I'd like to share!  Maybe somebody else would find them useful?

Any help would be appreciated!


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