Monday, August 3, 2015

A Kindergarten Smorgasboard 2015-2016 CLASSROOM REVEAL!

You've seen my teaser pictures on social media.  You know I've been hard at work on this.  And today is the day.  I know you're all on the edge of your seat...waiting...anticipating...clamoring to see what I did with my new space!  

First of all....let me just say that I love my new space.  It's HUGE and....wait for it... it's a nice big square.  You see, my old room was small and shaped like a W.  True story.   So, I'm embracing my new large space.

Still doing no tables and no desks!  Of course.  EVERYONE Should be doing this!!!!  

So...without any more ramblings from it is!


Here are some special areas of the classroom!!!!

The Great Hall.  

I love that we have a hallway leading into our classroom!  This will make lining up so easy AND this will become an area dedicated to displaying student work!!  How awesome that when people walk into our classroom, they will have to wander through a hallway of our work!?!?!

The Great Hall is also where our math and literacy center tubs and baskets will be located!   Ah, the much sought after reading tubs!!!  

Our whole group area with our stage and Smart board!  

Notice the big comfy chair!!!   Ummm....I wanted a big comfy chair and I found this one for ....$20.  Yep.  I've ordered a slipcover for it so it will be a big comfy red chair!!

Guided Reading/Small Group Area

Notice how everything is red?!  Our school is color coded so I'm on the red wing...hence the red!   I actually had to search out a red table because mine was green.   Ummm this ain't Christmas red and green!!

The built in shelves behind the table are great for all of my teacher necessities.  Like the 456 packages of smelly markers, the 1,098,876 paper clips and my Sonic drink.  Sonic drinks are required in my classroom.

Here is our classroom library!  

I love that the library can now be in the middle of our classroom!  I like that it shows that reading is central to everything we do!  

I am slowly replacing all of my book bins with these white ice buckets from WalMart.  People...they are $1.68 each.  I need 8 more...because WalMart only has a few out at a time.  But I digress...

The plastic pool is back.  But I've filled it with all of our stuffed animals.   

And we have a new addition to the 'staches!  Meet the Norman the Gnome!  He hangs out in the classroom and will become part of our writing and other fun stuff!

The Word Wall

Here is our word wall!   It's magnetic so the words can be pulled off by the 'staches and used in their writing!   I also did not divide the word wall into sections this year!   Something new I'm trying.  I like the clean look...

 Above the word wall is an idea that I got from my sweet friend Lisa at All Ya'll Need!

It's a timeline!   I made mustaches for each month of school.  At the end of each month, we will add some pictures from the month to our timeline!   Then we can have memories of our year and hopefully we can even use this for some writing fun!

Since we have no tables/desks, we need spaces to work and be creative and brilliant!  We use bath mats from WalMart and Target.  Bath mats are great because they don't slip!    And they hold up well and they can be washed!  And sprayed with Lysol.  Lots of Lysol!

We also use clipboards to do our work!   I have 2 sets of is painted and one is not.  These are stored in laundry baskets under the word wall.  Laundry baskets are the perfect size for both mats and clipboards.  Who knew?!

And because we don't have desks or tables, we use community supplies!   I am a HUGE advocate of community supplies!   Why?   It fosters sharing, it fosters community and it makes a significant impact into how students treat supplies.  With community supplies, we have pressure from our friends to take care of OUR supplies!   I credit community supplies with making a big impact on the classroom community we build each year!

Here is our hippopotamus area!  This is where the 'staches check to see which hippopotamus/center/workstation they need to be at!  This is also where our sensory bin and lightbox will be located!

Now...if you notice, there is a lot of blank space in our classroom.'s not my classroom to decorate.  This space belongs to my 'staches so they get to decorate the space with their work!  
We have spots for our anchor charts so we can constantly have access to our learning!

We have our BECAUSE on display!  This a simple but very effective way to bring higher order thinking into the early childhood classroom!  My friend Jen Jones at Hello Literacy taught me this during a professional development session!  

This is new to the classroom this year!   Our growth chart.   I plan to take a picture of each 'stache in front of the growth chart on the first day of the month to compare our growth!

This is my fave!  It's our Instagram bulletin board!!!   I stapled the 1st Day letters on so we change the hashtag whenever we want!   This will be another fun way to display photographs of our year and incorporate those pictures into our writing!

Yep, I'm very happy with our new classroom!

I have to give a HUGE MEGA GLITTERY AND MUSTACHE-TASTIC shout out to my friends at Creative Teaching Press!!!!   

They are AMAZING to work with and love teachers!!!!!!!   And I am so lucky to get call them friends!!!!!   For real.  We're friends!   

They provided so much mustache goodness and rainbow goodness for my new classroom!!!  I love their new Painted Palette line of classroom decor.  And when paired with's amazing!!!!!!!   


Now,  check out this trailer of our classroom and click HERE to go to YouTube for a full video tour of the space!


JOIN THE GLOBAL CHALLENGE!   #happyclassrooms

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Kindergarten Smorgasboard Schedulin' Sunday!


Schedulin' Sunday returns for a brand new school year!!!  

While I am sad to see summer come to an end...because let's face it...getting out of bed every day and putting on real clothes and taking a shower is overrated.  But I am super excited for a new school year!!

I'm at a new school that is exactly 9 minutes from my house...with  a much larger classroom...and a different population of students!   This year is going to be EPIC!  

AND it's my 10th year of teaching!!!!!!!!!!!

As always, you can download my lesson plans each Sunday!   Just click the picture!

We start school Wednesday with a half day.  Thursday is a teacher work day and Friday is another half day!  

I try to run my first 2 half days like a regular day so we can immediately start to settle into our routines.

As the 'staches arrive, I greet them, chat with parents and make sure we get dismissal information.  MAKE SURE TO GET THE DISMISSAL INFORMATION!!!!!!

I have already placed carpets and clipboards with coloring sheets around the classroom.  Since we do no tables/no desks I want them using the carpets immediately.  I tell the 'staches to find a carpet and sit down and color.  (If they finish all of the coloring pages, they can draw on the back!)

Here is one of the coloring sheets we use!  You can lick the picture for a free copy!

I also give the 'staches a picture of Mr. Greg to color!

When it's time to clean up, I have the 'staches stay where they are.  I talk about our clean up song.  Then we play our clean up song.  It's Mustache (of course!) by the Funky Monkeys!

Then I model how to roll up their carpet.  And we practice.    And I model how to walk to the basket and put away the carpet and come to the carpet and sit criss cross applesauce!

Then I play the clean up and we practice.  

If we do a good job, we're ready for morning meeting.  If not, we practice again.  And again.  And again.  And...well, you get the point!

Then we have our first morning meeting.  I introduce myself and talk about our classroom and how wild and fun and glittery and messy we get to be in kindergarten!  

I always make a speech to the 'staches about how it's not MY classroom.  It's not MY stuff.  It's OUR stuff.  It's OUR classroom.  I want them to know immediately that this classroom belongs to all of us and everything in our classroom belongs to all of us. This allows them to take ownership of the classroom and materials immediately!   ( this.  Makes a huge impact and helps with taking care of supplies and materials!)

Then we have our greeting.  We go around the circle and we say:  "Hi, my name is...".  

After that I have the 'staches practice my name a few times.  Ya they don't call me teacher.  And they will remember who they belong to if they get lost....Just in case!

Next up, we sing!!

Then we talk about how we got ready for kindergarten and how Miss Bindergarten got ready for kindergarten!

Then we have brunch which gives us our first practice at lining up and walking in the hallway.  Insert lots of aimless wandering ....lots of stop and go...more aimless wandering.  

And then the stairs.  The dreaded stairs.  Just thinking about it makes my stress level go up.  

After brunch, it's more walking and wandering to the classroom.

We practice our name writing with a class chart and independent practice!

Everyone writes their name.  We cheer for each person.  Then I laminate this poster and display it.  (I will then do this again at winter break and the end of the year to show our growth!)

After we do our class chart,  Mr. Greg shows us what a pencil is and how we use it.  (Model holding it, writing with it, breaking it, scribbling with it...and discuss these things as they are happening!)

Finally, we get blank paper and practice our names!  This goes in the hallway as our very first piece of kindergarten work!

Then we learn what crayons are!   Mr. Greg models how to use them.  I model good coloring and scribbling.  We discuss this as I'm doing it.

Then I model how to color a soccer ball.  A soccer ball?!!  UH YEAH!  I chose a soccer ball because it has lots of different sections so you get lots of practice coloring in the lines and using different colors!

You can get your free soccer ball by clicking on the ball!

And we end our first half day with silly hats.  Of course.  You can't start the year with no silly hat.  That would be just wrong!!!

Who wants a free silly hat?!?!

And we end our first day of kindergarten with cookies!

MMMM Cookies!

We return for another half day on Friday.

We will enter the room the same way as we did on day 1.

Morning meeting will be the same.

We will practice name writing again.

We read First Day Jitters.

We make a predictable chart of how we felt on the first day.

We have brunch and specials so we have a much shorter day!

After we return from brunch and specials, we will have our first Foodie Fun Friday!

We will make First Day Trail Mix!
I found this idea on Traveling Together but I've tweaked it a bit for my classroom!

And can't wait to give it a try!

You need:
sunflower seeds
coconut flakes

Here's the recipe from Traveling Together:


We will have some Jitter Juice to go along with our First Day Trail Mix!

And that folks, is our first two half days of kindergarten!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is a great post with tons of ideas for read alouds for the beginning of the year!

And a great list of procedures for beginning of the year!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A Kindergarten Smorgasboard Mission: #happyclassrooms

People, prepare for a soapbox rant by Mr. Greg.   You have been warned.

We all know the conversation around education and teaching and teachers is very negative.   We've become a punching bag for politicians and others.   Test scores aren't good enough?  Blame teachers. Schools cost too much?  Blame teachers.    Behavior issues?  Blame teachers.   If it goes wrong with schools and teaching and education, blame teachers.

But the truth is this:   Amazing things happen every single day in classrooms all over this country and around the world.  Big things!   Huge moments!  Little things!   You know it because you see it everyday.  You know it because you're making it happen.  You know it because you've created a classroom where students are learning and loving each other and teaching each other.   Little amazing moments and big amazing moments are happening day after day.   You know it.

But our communities don't know it.  Social media doesn't know it.   Because everyone else is in control of the conversation about education.  That changes NOW.  

People, I am tired of the negativity.  I am tired of hearing how horrible teachers and education are.  I am tired of our hard work and the amazing work of our students being ignored.   

Today, that changes.  Who's with me?

Teachers, it's time we take back the conversation about education.  It's time that we turn this negative talk about teaching and teachers and education into the truth:  which is that amazing things are happening in our classrooms and schools every single day.     It's time we take over the conversation.  It's time we change perceptions and show the world what is really happening in schools and classrooms and in education.

So, I am teaming up with my inspiring friend Kayla from Top Dog Teaching for a mission and challenge.   We are on a mission to take over the conversation and we're challenging every single teacher out there to join our mission.

It's actually pretty simple to take over the conversation.  Since we are on the front lines of the amazingness we need to be showing that amazingness to the world.   We all know the power of social media, so why not use that power to change the conversation about teaching and education?

Here's your mission should you accept the challenge and I hope every single person who reads this will accept:    Each and every day post a picture (you don't have to show kids...) of something amazing that happened in your classroom.  Post it on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and use the hashtag #happyclassrooms    If you don't have a picture, tell a story about something positive that happened in your classroom.   USE THE HASHTAG   #happyclassrooms     

Thing about it.   There are 5,000 followers on this blog.   Imagine if all 5,000 of us posted a picture/story each day with #happyclassrooms.   That's an impact.  Imagine if all 2,000 of my Twitter followers did the same.   And the 14,000 people on my Facebook page did the same.  And the 14,000 followers on Instagram.    If we all did this every day, that is 40,000 positive stories about teaching.

Now, multiply those 40,000 people by their teacher friends.   Do you see how huge this movement can be?????   Do you understand the impact we can have????    

And multiply that by other bloggers.  Imagine if each blogger we follow and admire and who inspires us posts this mission on their blog or social media.  Multiply their followers and social media presence.   

And consider this:   what if the top 10% of sellers on TPT accept this mission and encourage their followers to join this mission.   Imagine if they share it on their blogs and social media with their tens of thousands of followers?!?!   

Imagine what we could be a part of.  Imagine what we TEACHERS are about to do.  

The impact:  EPIC and GAME CHANGING!

We're talking tens of thousands of people.  Sharing the amazing things happening in education.   That's a game changer.  That hashtag goes global and trends every single day.   With each os uf just posting  1 positive classroom moment a day, we've taken over the conversation and shown the world that teachers and education are amazing.  

I am begging each you to join this movement.   Please share this post on your social media pages.   Share the image for #happyclassrooms  created by Kayla.   Spread the word about our mission to take over the conversation and most importantly, accept the challenge.   

1 post a day on social media about good things in your classroom.  #happyclassrooms   and we will change the conversation.


If you would like to see me get a little fired up and here more about this movement, check out these two YouTube videos:

(fast forward to the 1:04:00 mark)

(fast forward to the 50 minute mark)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Kindergarten Smorgasboard Teaching With Intention Chapter 8

Can you believe we're approaching the end of our summer book study?!  

This chapter was all about the thoughtful use of time!   Isn't this one of our biggest issues in the classroom?!?!  So much to do and so little time?!?!  

I want to share a couple of quotes that really hit home for me...

"Learning by doing takes time..."

This year time is going to be a major adjustment for me because I am moving to a new school that has a shorter day!  My day will be an hour shorter this year so fitting it all in is going to be even more of a challenge!

  This sums it up so powerfully.   Our students learn by doing.  Hands on.  Engaging activities that challenge them to figure things out.  Not by doing worksheets or test prep packets.  But by doing with the their hands and this takes time.   We need to build this time into our day and not be driven by timers (GUILTY, Party of GREG!)!!

"Keep it simple..."

This is something else I'm really working on.  Not everything has to be big and fancy and Pinterest worthy.  In fact, it's those little moments in the classroom that matter the most.  This year my classroom has been simplified (as far as decorations...) which means tons of room for student work!  My center system is simplified for me (teacher friendly and easily managed) and the 'staches.  Kid friendly=independence=more time for me to do what they need me to do!


My big take away from this book is conferring!!!!   Not just talking to my 'staches, but talking with them, listening to them, and discussing their work with them to personalize instruction and build that all important relationship with each student!

And finally, this year I am going to work on making conferring part of my day!   I love the challenge that Debbie issues on page 119 of Teaching With Intention:   commit to one or two conferences a day for two or three weeks and you'll be hooked!   

So, let's challenge ourselves to making conferring part of our day!  Who's with me??

And finally, two quotes from the book that I hope you'll carry with you each day:

"Remember then that there is only one important time and that time is now."

"And remember, when you walk in to the classroom, you are a brilliant teacher, okay?"

Indeed.  We are all brilliant teachers.  And we are the cool kids and we are all the popular kids!

Next week, I will be speaking to Debbie Miller about the book and asking her your questions!!!!!  Stay tuned for details!

Be sure to link up your post about chapter 8!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A Kindergarten Smorgasboard of Tips For First Year Teachers (And reminders for us veteran teachers!)

Recently on my Facebook page, I asked for tips for first year teachers and got a tremendous response.  As I was reading them and compiling this list, so many of the tips hit home with me!  So, here are some great tips for first year teacher and veteran teachers like me, who might need some refreshers!

As you read through these, you'll see some themes:  patience, love, fun, and taking care of you!

And you're going to be exhausted.  EX-HAUSTED!  

Remember, if we're not at our best, we can't give them our best!  

And...CHOCOLATE!   You will not make it without chocolate.

Feel free to share these images on social media to help other teachers and remind us of those little things we might have forgotten!

And please comment with your own tips and advice!

Graphics:  Glitter Meets Glue, DJB Fonts, KG Fonts
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