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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!!!


  1. Got to love the comments that they innocently come out with. Great idea about the home readers. It is something I always forget and am passing out as the bell rings. It's the simple ideas that change your whole day for the better :)

  2. I love those envelopes. Where did you find them? :-)

    Growing Little Minds

  3. Kelley, I love your posts for two reason. Well, way more than two, but I'm going to tell you two. :) You always make me laugh. As in out loud. Snort my wine sometimes. Thank you very much. :) I love the tip about the reading folder. Oh my goodness, I feel ya! I have totally had those moments of, "I did this to myself. I am stressed because I waited until the last 5 minutes. Really Sarah?" Happy to hear it wasn't just me. Reason #2 why I love me some Kelley Dolling: you area always thinking outside the box. I love your trick you shared. Get those kids moving! I always find creative ideas from you. Thanks again my friend!

  4. Love the relay race - I can even use this in middle school with various grammar things and even roots! Thanks!

    Mrs. Spangler in the Middle