Sunday, March 29, 2015

Springing into Spring



 
I am so happy to be celebrating with my dear friend Marissa from Inspired Owl's Corner. It's her birthday and we're celebrating with a fun spring themed linky!
 
 
I can't believe it's been a year!  I have been blogging and selling on Teachers Pay Teachers for a year this month.  I have been so blessed to meet such wonderful people along the way in this journey.  Many who have become such dear friends.  To celebrate, I'm having a sale in my Teacher's Pay Teachers store!
 
 
 
 
I am celebrating like it's 1999 over here because it's spring.  Holy smokes, it has been a LOOOONG winter. So long in fact, that as I type this blog post it is...snowing here in Massachusetts.  Yep. Snowing.  Therefore, I go my "craft on" to welcome spring.  Just in case it missed the memo!
 
 
I went to Michael's and bought a grapevine wreath, some artificial flowers, ribbon, and the white wooden letter.  For about $30 and 30 minutes, I have this cute wreath for our front porch.  Clearly, we will be adding powerwashing the house to our "to do" list this spring.
 
To make the wreath I used:
 
 
Use wire cutters to trim the stems of the flowers.
 
 
Push the flowers through the slats in the grapevine wreath. I tried to keep my clusters together so I didn't have gaps between flowers.
 
You can fill up the whole wreath or just one side. It's totally up to you!
 
Hot glue the letter to the other side. I needed to use a lot since the wooden letter was heavy. I have the burns to prove it.
 
Since I am "bow challenged" I took the easy way out and just cut large, medium, and small strips of ribbon, folded them in half with the edges in the middle and hot glued each piece with the edge side down. Then I layered the pieces on top of each other with the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top. Lastly, I cut the strips that hang down and hot glued them to the back of my bow.  I'm sure there are some talented gals out there that can fold a bow like nobody's business but...I am not one of them. 
 
I then moved on to my next project.
 
 
Spring in a Jar!
 
I have lots of mason jars hanging around because I have these high aspirations that I'm going to do all a lot of crafts with them.  Well...maybe in my next life when I have more time!  So anywhoose....I was inspired by my dear friend Tamera from Rusty Dreams who creates gorgeous, I mean- downright adorable crafts that she has begun selling.  Every time I visit her I end up emptying my wallet because I can't resist. You can find her at Rusty Dreams Primitives.This spring jar is her idea that I did my own version of because I got bit by the "crafty bug". So minus the jar, I spent about $12 at Michael's on these supplies:
 
 
It now sits on my window sill in my kitchen so I can look at it and not the snow in my backyard.
 
 
 
Spring is in full swing in my classroom too. Now that parent conferences and report cards are finished we are springing into spring resources! I'm looking forward to breaking out our close reading toolkits and getting to work on Close Reading: Spring (pictured below).  You can find it here.
 

 
The growth in reading that my students have made is just awesome!  We have been working on close reads all year and they are just soaring! 

We have also enjoyed some fun science experiments this month with wind.  This one was a favorite:


Students made predictions about whether wind would blow certain objects.  We then put our theories to the test by blowing on each item and recording our results.  You can find Windy Weather here.
Spring on over here to pick up a little freebie. Spring themed bookmarks will make reading fun!
 
Make sure to enter our giveaway and visit the other blogs listed below for some fabulous spring ideas, resources, freebies and more!
 
Happy Spring!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 15, 2015

pet linky




There are more pictures of my dog on my phone than my three children. There are several reasons for that:

     1. My children are over the age of 2.
2. I have a beagle.
3. We've had Bentley less than a year.
4. I have a beagle.
5. He doesn't argue, make a mess, complain about what I feed him, or need to be driven anywhere.
5. I have a beagle.
6. He's the cutest dog ever- he's a beagle.

By the way, did you know that a beagle won the Westminister dog show? Snoopy used to be the world's most famous beagle.




Now that title goes to "Miss P."


"Miss P" beat out 2,711 other dogs in 191 breeds to win the most prestigious award in the dog world.  Isn't she gorgeous?

Bentley knew all along she "had it in the bag."  Bentley is my "best in show".  He is a 2 year old beagle maybe mixed with something else but we just call him a beagle.

I know exactly what you are thinking.  He should have won.  I know, I know. I get it. I feel your pain.

My husband is a cat person. I'm a dog person.  It took me 4 years to convince him to get the dog I always wanted.  Wait for it......Yes, a beagle.

We rescued "B" from a shelter where we live in Massachuetts.  Apparently, he was a Canine Companion, raised in a prison by an inmate in Kentucky.  He is the best, most well-trained dog I have ever owned.

He's a beagle.  And because he's a beagle. He does this...


and this....


Oh...and this....
and of course this....

Once in a while Bentley is really useful and helps out around the house like this...


If you are looking for a mellow, quiet, lazy, sweet, cuddler a beagle is your best bet.  Bentley is an expert, professional sleeper and most of all...cuddler.

(once in a great while he manages to stay awake for Scandal).

When he is awake he's on a mission for one of two things:  bunnies or food. And he works every angle to force get you to feed him what is yours and give what he wants.




And if all else fails he'll make his needs known quite clearly (just like everyone else in this house)!






We aren't allowed to have class pets at my school so it's a good thing that Charlie isn't real.  He isn't real in the sense that he can breathe and eat but he's  every bit as real to us in room D156.


Charlie is our classroom mascot. I bought him from Amazon for about $15 and he is one of the best investments I have made in my classroom.

He sits with kids when they are feeling sad, happy, angry, and when they are "on task." He sits with kids when they are "off task" to help them regulate.  He is often visited by students in other classes who need a hug and a cuddle.  Have I mentioned that beagles are great for that?



Even the parents love him. All of these dog supplies were donated by a family who wanted to foster the gift of imagination.

  We read to him, talk to him, and even walk him when we need a break. He is in every way our classroom pet and we love him.


Sometimes the kids ask me if Charlie is real. My answer is always the same.  "To me, he is."



Over the years he has heard the kids talk about their weekends, their disagreements with peers or siblings, how their parents are getting a divorce and how awful that feels. He has given a struggling reader the confidence to read aloud for the first time. He has helped many a nervous and scared first grader on the first day of first grade. He has sat with a first grader and given them confidence when the work seems too hard.

I could go on and on.

Sometimes pictures speak louder than words...


Charlie's favorite spot is in our classroom library. We call this Peaceful Pet Place. Students are able to go to Peaceful Pet Place when they need a hug from Charlie, a quiet place, to take a break or to utilize a calming strategy.

In the past, I had a tool kit of sorts, for a student or students when they become dysregulated and I would break out the squeeze ball or the sensory bottle when it was needed. Over the years, I have seen the need to make these materials accessible to all of my students.

Are even your best classroom management strategies no longer working because the social/emotional needs of students is so significant it is robbing you of effectively running your classroom?Students are able to use the Peaceful Pet Place as a way to self-regulate, manage, and maintain their own behavior in the classroom as needed with less classroom disruption, leaving you free to be able to conduct the class as you need to be.

After modeling the care, use, clean-up, and storage for each of the tools in the Peaceful Pet Place the students are able to access the calming strategies as needed. 

And you know what I have found?  My students have become better students. When they know they have the ability to take a break when the need to, when they feel a part of a classroom where are feel safe, valued, listened to, and cared for….they actually work harder and more efficiently. They are invested and they want to do well.

Here are some of the calming tools I have in Peaceful Pet Place:

Teach kids how to self regulate their behavior


The sensory bottle is very easy to make. All you need is a Voss water bottle (available at most grocery stores). I used inexpensive V05 shampoo and marbles (since I had them in the house).  The Thinking Putty I found at a local gift store and probably paid WAY too much for it. It is available on Amazon in all kinds of varieties and colors.


Some other things you can include are:

Coloring books with crayons or colored pencils, an iPod with classical music, squeeze ball, bubbles, a variety of sensory bottles...the possibilities are endless and really depend on your class.

The calming cards and breathing box are great visual tools and strategies to help students pick a strategy that suits them well.  I keep these in the Peaceful Pet Place.

Here is a close up of what Peaceful Pet Place looks like:

The activities are meant to be short and calming and non-disruptive.  Here's some examples of a few of the calming strategy cards:


Another strategy that I have found effective for students to self-regulate is to write letters or maintain a journal. I have students that have brought in a special decorated notebook/journal from home for this purpose, or they have made one with our school counselor.  I have students keep a journal in their cubbies if they need one.

When a conflict arises, especially with another peer and it has been discussed and worked out but the student is having a having a hard time letting it go, sometimes I will suggest “Write it down and then leave it be."  This way, students who are particularly expressive or emotional can get their feelings out, write it down, and then.....let it go.(sing it now....)


Students often need help using words to describe their feelings. I love this activity to help them develop and review the language to express themselves.


Teaching students the vocabulary to express their emotions is important.  It can very enlightening for a 7, 8 or 9 year old child to learn more words beyond "I'm mad" to express frustration.

Equally important, is teaching young child to recognize what defines a good choice or a bad choice and why. Perhaps most important, is for them to understand how it makes them FEEL when they make these choices.  It is like their conscience and it will govern how they act or react in your classroom, towards their peers, and with you, as their teacher.


It is also important for students to develop empathy for others. Role playing social/emotional scenarios is enormously helpful, especially for younger students who are so concrete.  Morning meeting is the perfect time to role play one or two playground, cafeteria, or hallway scenarios.  Choose student volunteers and role play one of the thousands of conflicts you have heard, seen, and witnessed in your teaching experience (you know you have them....).


Here are a few to get you started...


What do you do to help your students who are struggling with stress, sorry, anxiety and emotional discord in your classroom?




I was walking through Barnes and Noble one Saturday morning and literally shrieked out loud when I found this book.


Because you know what I thought of.....

Charlie!  Could they look any more alike?!  Of course Charlie makes me think of...


Bentley! 


So of course I had to snatch up a few which has led to this collection of books all in honor of my dog our class pet mascot, Charlie.


The kiddos LOVE these books. I love how they are both read-alouds and leveled readers!

One of our favorite close reads is on...wait for it.....

BEAGLES!


We break out our close reading toolkits and enjoy looking for details in the text.

The close reading toolkit featured above is not my original idea.  I learned about it from Leslie Ann of Life in Fifth Grade.  Her close reading toolkit is a freebie in her store. It includes the close reading toolkit topper and close reading symbols chart. You can find it here.

I adapted the kit to fit my needs in my first grade classroom. Using Leslie Ann's topper and close reading symbols chart, I added a pen, sticky notes, highlighter, a fingerlight, a googly eye ring (well....because it's fun) and a dog themed bookmark to my close reading toolkit. 



You can find the dog themed bookmarks for FREE here.

If you are looking for a close reading resource on dogs (including the beagle reading passage above)you can find it and 7 other breeds including Golden Retrievers, Basset Hounds, Poodles, Great Danes, Huskies, Newfoundlands, and Goldendoodles in my Close Reading: Dogs product which is in my store and on sale this week.