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Planning a Classroom Halloween Party

Hello, friends! It's Rachelle from What the Teacher Wants.  October will be here.... TOMORROW! How crazy is it that it's already fall, the students are becoming more independent, and Halloween is right around the corner. Did someone say HALLOWEEN?

Oh yeah, Halloween! I always have a room mom who plans my party and gets volunteers, but I like to save her some time and give her a few tips.

I have 4 rotations-
I always have 4 rotations of fun Halloween themed activities with about 6 students at each station and at least one parent there to facilitate (so you really only need 4-5 parent volunteers).  I have them at each rotation for about 12 minutes.
1. Book
2. Craft
3. Snack
4. Game

1. Book

We love reading this book because it's so interactive! You can bring in all of the items to make the scarecrow (dang...I just ruined the whole book for you) and the students can help make the noises!

2. Craft
I mean, we have done everything from bat handprints to paper-plate scarecrows!  I have tons of ideas in my Halloween Unit, too!  There's also some fabulous ideas {here}.
This has to be the cutest Halloween Craft though:

3. Snack
Since I've been on my weight loss/get healthy journey, I have had my eyes opened to just how crappy I was feeding the kids in my class.  Every holiday has a treat, every party a donut, every reward a sucker! NO MORE!  I found some great and yummy Halloween treats online. 
Here are my favorites (click the pictures to go straight to the websites):

4. Game:
Last year we played a witch ring toss!  The parent brought in a witch hat and we tossed rings onto the hat. It was simple, but so fun!  We've also played "Don't Munch the Mummy" from my Halloween Unit.  There's also an "October Battleship" that is a good number game.  
One of the most simple but fun games we played was "Spitting Spider Race".  All you need is some butcher paper, straws, and plastic spiders.  The students start at one end of the table and have to blow their spider to the end of the other side. It's hilarious!

I always have something for my students to do if their rotation finished early.  A word search keeps them busy and it's meaningful word work. Click the word search to download for free!

Feel free to use this planning sheet when working with your room mom (or maybe you are doing it on your own). Click the planning sheet to download!

Smilebox -- A Creative Parent Communication Tool for Teachers


Do you spend your time and energy typing up weekly or monthly newsletters for your parents...

Just to find them STILL shoved in your students' folders, untouched and unread?

Are you looking for another, more effective (and perhaps more creative) way to communicate what you've been working on in your classroom with parents?

Let me introduce you to my friend...

 Smilebox offers the neatest "tools" that teachers can use for parent communication!  

Every week I make a "Smilebox" picture slideshow-video and send it to the parents so they can see what we accomplished during the week. 

Here is an example of one of my weekly slideshows, which I have permission to post.  (I have other "better" ones...but they include lots of student names, which I couldn't post.)

Click to play this Smilebox slideshow

Here is how it works:

1. Go to

2. Choose "slideshow" in the format options.  

3. Choose a slideshow style that you like.  (Most are free, but you may also choose to pay a small fee to access more options.)

4. Upload photos that you want to use.

5. On the template, you may insert your own photos and captions as you wish or choose the "instant" creation option and the site will do the work for you!

6. Save and Share! (You can choose the format you want to use to "share" your slideshow video.  It includes every option imaginable (Facebook, embed code, email, etc.)

7.  When you create an account (even a free one) you can even choose advanced options to "lock down" photos and control sharing options.  It has every security option you could desire!

OH!  And SMILEBOX offers many other fun communication tools too!  Check out this fun e-card I mailed to my parents during Superhero Week...

Click to play this Smilebox invite
Create your own invite - Powered by Smilebox
This digital invitation made with Smilebox

Take a  minute to check it out!  Even if you choose not to use it for your classroom, I'm sure you can find a way to use it with your family!

Have a blessed week!


Student-Led Conferences

Hey there, blog hoppers! This is Megan from Kindergals. This year I have a new administrator. I just LOVE her. She has decided to implement student-led conferences on all grade levels.. At first, I was very apprehensive! Now, my kids and I are SO excited.

Here is an excellent example of a primary grade student-led conference:

I have found that it has really made my kids excited about their learning. One of my sweeties said to me today, "Mrs. Merrell, I am going to put EVERYTHING I am good at in my conference folder."

I created a few things to make conference planning easier.

First, I sent these two notes home. The first note explains the idea of at student-led conference to the parents.

Then, we got to work actually planning what the students would share during their conference.

I created a binder to house all of there work.
Then, I created a divider for each child.
Next, behind each child's name, I put 4 different sheet protectors. In each sheet protector, the child will have their learning target and their work sample for that target. This is what they will actually share with their parents.
Right now, I have only made target pages for math, reading, language arts, and writing. We plan on adding science and social studies in the spring!
I can't wait to see how these go. I will be sure to let you know! Be sure to let us know if you have ever had student-led conferences before. I'll take any advice and pointers I can get!!


Well, hello!  It's Kelley from Teacher Idea Factory.  I'm coming to you today with a bit of a random post, but RANDOM just seems to be how September can in the teaching world.  It's fast and furious (case in point . . . it's already the 25th).  It's that time of year when you are finally getting your feet back under you and things really start to take shape in your classroom.  Well, this week was right along those lines for Ms. Dolling.

With this said, I am going to share with you a tip, a trick, and a story from my week.  It will be a quick read . . . I know Johnny prep is knockin' on your door.

My teaching partner taught me the most amazing tip this year.  It has totally changed my afternoons and has saved me oodles of time and a HUGE headache at the end of the day.  I used to pass out reading folders during the last five minutes of school.  I always pushed my luck and tackled this task with only five minutes to spare -- like "5 minutes to spare" as in the kids would have to spend the night at school if I didn't get 'er done and get my bum out the door.  Well, this made for a very persnickety Ms. D!  To make matters worse, the kids somehow always seemed to get all jacked up at this exact moment of the day.  I couldn't get the job done quickly as they were talking and goofing around.  I typically had to re-direct multiple times and it took FOREVER.  This simple routine usually ended in me feeling pretty stressed and a little hot around the collar.  Well, this teaching catastrophe has been totally eliminated by making one small change.  (You are a genius, Court).  I now put the reading folders out on the desks during lunch.  When the kids come in, they know to put their folder inside their backpack and come to the carpet.  Not only does it take care of a very important step CALMLY, but it also allows me to take roll without having to look around the room or call out names.  If a folder is left, I am missing someone.  BOOM!  Yup . . . this one knocked my socks off.  

If you follow me, you know that I am all about working angles.  I attempt to find a way to teach standards that "hooks" kiddos into what I'm dishin'.  I especially like to spice up the boring grammar and phonics standards.  It seems like SORTS go hand and hand with practice in these areas.  Don't get me wrong, a cut-n-paste ditty is just fine a lot of the time.  However, I like to change it up every now and again to make something really stick.  One way I do this is relay races.  You can turn any word sort into a quick and FUN relay race.  Here's how this rolls.  

Simply use laminated cards that you have typed up.  You can also use Sharpie to write words or sentences on foam pieces.  

Place your babes into teams of 4-5 and line them up.  

Place the cards at the end of the course and set up sorting bins for your kids to use as they play.

The rest of the game is played like a relay race . . . it just has the extra added element of sorting a word or a sentence before the next player in a team can tackle the course.  My firsties ate this complete vs. incomplete sort up yesterday. We played three times!  I include a lot of these in the packs that I make, but you can make 'em on your own too!!  It's easy and you can use relays for everything from math facts to sight words.

As Captain Question Mark made his way into our class this week (it's a crazy role play idea on how to teach question marks -- READ ABOUT IT HERE), the funniest thing happened.  The pirate hook was getting passed around and different kiddos were getting to play the part of Captain Hook.  Well, some little innocent sweetie yelled out, "Who gets to be the HOOKER now?"  The mother helper and I were dying.  Swoon . . . I love me some firsties.  

Here's to a wonderful rest of the week my friends.  Thanks for taking the time to visit Blog Hoppin' today!!!

Odd & Even Numbers with Freebies

Hey there, Hoppers!  
It's Alisha, The Bubbly Blonde.
 I have a handful of sweethearts that are still struggling 
with odd & even numbers.
We've honestly been using a handmade, no fancy writing poster.
I just can't take it anymore:)
Maybe if I *brighten* up the poster, 
my strugglers will grasp the skill.
It doesn't hurt to try, does it?!
 Grab them here.
We also need to throw in a few more odd/even centers into our math rotations.
I started creating this center while I was creating my new 
And then I decided to make the unit completely all about place values!
No reason for this center to sit on my computer and not in the hands of learners.
Head to my store to grab my Odd & Even Apples Freebie!

The Bubbly Blonde

Behavior Plans - Getting to Know Our Students

Hi friends!  It’s Stacy again from Mrs. Johnson’s First Grade.  I’m here today to post about a personal experience I'm having this year with student behavior.  Let’s face it....I think every year I wouldn't mind the class from the previous year even if I was so happy sending them off for summer vacation!  New classes definitely have challenges but this year is different for me.  I think more in a humbling way.

I started the year with a few students that struggled with their behavior which was also having an impact on them academically.  I decided to try a weekly behavior plan.  Yes it was a PAIN at first!!  Like I wasn't busy enough, right?  I sent it home every day and they would bring it back the next day.  Yes, it was an extra effort, but let me tell you how this humbled me as a teacher.

4 weeks into this plan, these students began to change.   I grew to really “know” these little ones.  One student’s father is out of the picture and his mom had brain surgery and is cared for full time by her mother.  Just by knowing this, it helped me adjust my teaching and he has blossomed so much that it brings tears to my eyes.

The second student also blossomed!  She started out very angry.  Well, it turns out she had her second surgery this past week to remove tumors.  She wasn't so lucky this second round and will need to start Chemo this week and won’t be able to return until January.  Breaks my heart!  She's six years old! 

As teachers, please get to know your students no matter the behavior.  They have lives outside the classrooms and it often follows them to the classroom.   They need us! 
I hope you will see the “good” in your students this year as I have!  
If you want a copy of the behavior plan I use, just CLICK HERE.  

Have a great week!!

Sub Plans Made Easy with FREEBIES

Just a quick, simple tip today . . .

I have a professional development day today.

Probably the worst thing about having to take a day away from class is making sub plans.


Although I simplify my day a bit when I have a sub, the plans I leave are always very detailed. I always have flashbacks to those days I subbed in classrooms where everything was very vague. Not fun.

But, as I've said a zillion times, I like things quick and easy when it involves the "management" of my work day. Sub plans are no different.

I have my sub plans saved on my computer. I use the same easy routine for subs (regardless of the content being taught each day). This way, all I have to do is change a few items on my sub plans, but the general routine and idea stays the same.

Since I keep my lessons plans digitally, it is very easy for me to take a quick glance at what I have prepped for the day and then type up plans that are easy for my sub to follow. (When I'm sick, I just email the plans to the office so they can give them to the sub. Easy peasy.)

The first page of my plans provide my sub with the basic essential information, including my behavior routine. The following pages detail the day by blocks of time.

I paperclip these plans to the front of my daily folder. The folder contains everything they will need for the day. I leave it all at the front of the room for them.

Excuse the horribly blurry picture! You can find the weekly folder labels {{here}}.

You can grab sub plans image (shown below) that I use on my sub plans by clicking {{here}}.

I also let my kiddos know that my expectations for their behavior for the day is SKY HIGH because being a sub is a ridiculously hard job - and I expect them to do their best to make sure the sub has a fantastic day.

If you are writing or typing out new plans each time, I highly recommend keeping a "sub plans" template on your computer that you can edit quickly for the day you need them. It saves SO much time and ensures you have something nearly ready to go on those days you REALLY don't feel like making sub plans - editing a few key points is much easier than reinventing the wheel each time. ***edited*** a few peeps asked me for a copy of my plans. You can grab a copy {{here}}.

Have a fabulous week peeps!

Good Vibrations (teaching sound) and a freebie!

Yo, it's about that time
To bring forth the rhythm and the rhyme
or to teach physics!

We just finished up our process skills booklets and now that we are officially trained scientists, we will begin our first unit on Monday...Sound Energy! What?! that doesn't sound exciting to you!?
Well, when I first moved to 2nd grade, teaching an abstract concept such as sound, well...freaked me out! How was I going to teach 7 year olds about things you cannot see!?

After weeks of Pinteresting, Googling, and reading (and teaching it always helps, even if I was confused most of the time!) I finally put together ideas and activities to teach all about sound!

Here's what I am responsible for teaching in 2nd grade physics
I know right!? crazy. But here's what I came up with!
But I promise it's not all that bad! Is it as fun to teach as my beloved mealworms, no. But it is better than a few other units I've had to cover! We use lots of hands-on activities and demonstrations for this unit. A favorite are the tuning forks! Those little guys are amazing! fyi-do not put it on your earring...just trust me!

here's some little bits testing out different pitches and volumes
sorry-these pictures are 4 years old! 

and here were are testing how sound travels-our room is beside the boys restroom on our hall-so we already have a good idea of a few materials that sound can travel through!
we use a yard stick and then wrap it with foil then slip the stick out to test just the aluminum. 

DO you have to teach sound energy? If so, here's the very first activity we use (and you will see it on my visual plans this week when I link up with Deedee!) We will be going on a little sound field trip around the school to kickstart a discussion on loud and soft as well as nice sounds and not so pleasant ones.

and if you need more...check out my Good Vibrations unit!

and I leave you with this...because I CANNOT look at this unit and NOT sing some Marky Mark!

Ahoy Mateys...Find Your Treasures!

{Thanks to Mel for the Ca-ute buttons!!}

Ahoy, me Hearties!

Stephanie and Deedee stopping buy to share a little treasure huntin' fun with you this weekend! Did you know Sept 19th is 'International Talk Like a Pirate Day'? To celebrate, a few of our scurvy Blog Hoppin crew wanted to give you the chance to score lots of pirate booty to use with yours!! These are also perfect activities to use for when you study some "AR" words in class later this year!

Each blog will have a different treasure for you to find. For example, here are some sneak peeks at the treasures waiting for you over on our blogs.

Be sure to hop over to ALL the blogs linked up below to snag your loot!!!

Happy Saturday!!

Early Finishers at Center Time????

Hey Guys!! It's Katie, from Little Warriors!
My Kinders are just finishing up their 3rd week of centers and things are really running smoothly already! It's so, so important to have a good centers system for them to run smoothly. You need a good management system and ALL materials ready (or readily available in case of an emergency (lost or broken item :) for your students at all times.

But, what happens when your students are all done at different times?? Oh, and it WILL happen!!! You will have little Suzy, who is done and finished with her center in PERFECT handwriting in five minutes flat. Then, you might have little Johnny who is still working on his second problem 20 minutes later :) That's just how it goes, that's life. Everyone is different, works at their own pace and learns at their own pace. Instead of ripping your hair prepared!!!

Here's what I do for my early finishers. Some may think it's a little much, or that I'm a little anal. But, I LOVE this system and it has worked wonders for me!!!!

This little system will help you avoid unnecessary chaos and prevent children from picking the same activity day after day, after day! It just helps keep things a little more organized AND the kids love it!! They love it because THEY get to CHOOSE the activity that they want to do, BUT, it is set up so that they have to pick a different activity every day!

I use activity cards to display the activities that the students can choose from that week. I hang the activity cards on mats that I have labeled 1-6 (or A-F if we are talking about Literacy centers). There are also a row of command hooks hanging across the bottom of the mats.

Each student has a laminated menu. The menu has numbers 1-6 (or letters a-h for Lit centers) on it. On the back of the menu is the students picture. Each menu has a binder clip on the top. When the student picks the Can-do center he wants to go to for that day, he uses a dry erase marker to X it out. Then, tomorrow he won't be able to go to the Xed out center again. He will have to choose a new one to go to.
As you can see, on the menu below, the student had picked can-do 5 on the previous day. It is marked out. So, today she is picking number one. she will mark out number one and hang it on one of the hooks with her picture showing so we can easily see who is in that center.

Here is what the can-do corner looks like. The orange side is Literacy and the black side is math. While we are doing Lit centers, we have the Literacy menus out. The math menus are tucked away on a shelf to avoid confusion...

Seem like a lot to handle and keep track of?? That's why I DON'T do it!!! We have a class job for that :) The "Center Patrol" Takes the tags down after every center time and switches the boxes out for us. At the end of the week, they also erase all of the X's off of the menus too :)

Do I switch the can-dos out EVERY week???? Yes and No. Some I keep the same, some I totally change and some I just change the graphics on the paper to make it "new" ;) Here are some of my favorites!!!!.....

Deedee's Super Sentences for your pocket charts
Growing Kinders' It's Calendar Time!
Growing Kinders' Fun in the Kitchen

My Can-do system has 50 different activity cards for you to choose from :) You can check it out HERE!!!