Blog Swap and Hop Guest Post: You Will LOVE This!

I am so excited to share my guest blogger today, Lori from Teaching with Love and Laughter.  I will be posting games and time fillers (perfect for the beginning of the year crazies when time doesn't work out *quite* like you planned!) over at Sub Hub, so please make sure to check it out!

I am so excited to be posting over here at Mandy's blog! We are participating in the Top Teachers' Blog Swap and Hop. What a great opportunity to find new blogs to follow and to get some great ideas and activities for the new school year. I am also guest blogging on one other blog. I won't tell you which one...see if you can find me!

First, I'd like to introduce myself in case you don't know me. My name is Lori and I am the author of Teaching With Love and Laughter. I am getting ready to enter my 18th year of teaching. And, I still love it! I teach kindergarten, first grade, and second grade writing, science, and social studies. This is me:

And, this is my blog: 

My post today is about integrating reading and writing. Since I teach writing and my teaching partner teaches reading, it is very important that I incorporate some of the stories she reads with our students in some of my writing assignments. To do this, I made some reading task cards for the children to use at stations, for independent work, and/or, for homework. If you would like to use these task cards in  your classroom, please click on the image below.

Other than printing, laminating, and cutting out the cards, there is no preparation. The children will respond to these tasks using plain white paper. Folding instructions are included on each card. I plan on adding more task cards in the near future, so, stay tuned! 

I hope you enjoyed my post and find the task cards meaningful and useful. If you are not yet a follower of my blog, I am formally inviting you to come over to my place and make yourself at home. Thanks so much for being with me here today. Enjoy the rest of your blog hopping adventure!

Thanks for having me Mandy!



Blog Swap and Hop!

Next Saturday, some friends and I are participating in a Blog Swap and Hop. We're all switching blogs for the day! There'll be a guest here while I'm posting somewhere else. You'll be able to hop through to check them all out. I'm sure there'll be some great freebies for you to grab as well. It will be a great chance to check out new bloggers- I can't wait! Check out the great bloggers who are participating:

Come hop through these guest posts by some of the top teacher bloggers!


Bulletin Boards- More Than You Will Ever Want to Know

Today I went back to school to finish up a few things.  For the most part, I am ready for camp on Monday.  Except for the whole I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-teaching-because-I-am-too-lazy-to-look-at-lesson-plans problem. I need to get on that.  At least for Monday.  I can plan the rest of the week after camp on Monday :).

I put up my bulletin boards today.   Of course it can NOT be simple.  I must over analyze this little task, too.  After reading The Daily Five and a few other brain based research articles I have tried to stay away from patterned fabric. It can be distracting to the eyes and make it difficult for the brain to focus on what is displayed.  Really, borders should also be plain (solid black was recommended).  I caved and bought polka dots, but I can tell it is MUCH more distracting.  I am thinking to off set the distract-ability of the borders I may mat everything I post in black to make it pop out.  I can't decide if I have the time!

 I chose blue specifically.  I originally picked out a coral and turquoise color.  I pitched that idea when I went to a professional development two weeks ago about how brain research can be applied to education. I can't remember the exact phrase but blue (and I don't think it was pastels- an actual true blue) promoted cognitive processing.  I was sold :).  I figure I need all the help I can get and if it is the color of the background, so be it!

I have a quick and easy tip. I know many people like fabric.  So do I.  It doesn't fade and looks great for a long time.  The problem with fabric is that it can be so dang expensive!  It never fails; I always pick out the MOST expensive  pattern. 

I read online somewhere that a great CHEAP fabric is the Wal-Mart flat sheet (make sure NOT to pick up fitted like I did the first time around).  They cover a good bit of the bulletin board. I like the twin size.

I picked up two in this blue color and it covered a bunch.
 This is the smaller board above the library.  I had a bunch left over.

I used another twin sheet for the dark blue.  It covered more than half of my long board.  I already had the pale blue fabric.  It was also a bed sheet!!!!!

This might give an idea for the amount of cork board the sheets cover.  I used two twin flat sheets and then part of a flat sheet that I had previously.  The dark blue could have gone further if I didn't have to chop it off for the smaller board.

The best part?  Each sheet costs only $5.00.  For fabric that is SUPER cheap!!!!  The total cost for my boards was about $15 (if I include the fabric I already had).  More expensive than it had to be; I chopped the fabric up to fit my odd sized boards.  I do have one tip- take the sheets home and wash them first.  Mine are ALL wrinkled because I pulled them straight out of the package and put them up.  I pulled it as tight as possible, but the wrinkles are still very visible.  I think I may bring my Downy Wrinkle Releaser, spray it all down, and cross my fingers!

I plan to use the far left board above the library as a math word wall.  The right cork blue board will display the CAFE menu and reading strategies.  The light blue is for me and my junk.  I wanted a place to hang pictures the kids made, schedules, notes and memos.  It is bigger than I need, but the dark blue ran out : ).  I am sure I can find enough stuff to fill it up!!!!


A Little Peek...

Today I went into my classroom and starting setting up for the camp I am teaching next week and also keeping in mind set up for next school year.  I am trying my best to kill two birds with one stone.  It is a BIG, fat stone and may kill me first!!  I am so proud of myself.  We (my co-teacher and I) really planned ahead when packing up at the end of the year.  It paid off because I got a TON of stuff done today!  I think it could possibly be the quickest I have ever set up a room. HOWEVER, I am still not done.  I have to go back in tomorrow and work on bulletin boards and making things "pretty."

So..remember, my room looked something like this to start with...
 and then this...
and now it looks like this...
I tried to go around the room clockwise.  This is a view from the front door.  All the boxes on the table are camp materials that may need to be sent back.  I didn't want to unpack them if they needed to be returned!

This is the writing center that is right by the door. We often sit in the black chair during mini lessons and the kids sit here often during independent reading time.

Sorry about the dark picture.  I have no idea why it is so dark!  This little alcove was a perfect fit for this shelf.  All of the student's book boxes with their independent reading choices.  Book character stuffed animals are on top!

This is the second meeting area in the back of the room. It has my easel. math shelf, and that small shelf is empty.  I *think* kids will put their lunch boxes on it and keep the estimation jar there as well.  The door on the left leads to a small bathroom for students and the door on the right leads to a store room.  I would love to take pictures of it, but I am afraid things may fall on me.  I will clean it up when my room is done! :)

Here is the classroom library.  Blue and yellow bean bag chairs are on the left.  I don't have all my books out- the shelves are too small.  I have them in storage and intend to rotate books in and out to keep things "fresh."

 Here is the beginning of my area.  This shelf has buckets with all my guided reading books sorted by level.  The post it notes have the level labeled on it so I can make pretty stickers : ).

Here is all my stuff behind my guided reading table.  I didn't take a a picture of my guided reading table.  It is still piled with boxes of stuff.  Sigh.

This is my desk set up.  It is very similar to last school year (many things are actually).  The student computers are to the right.  You can see my smartie pants on my desk waiting for a 3m hook!

We are trying tables this year.  We have 6 tables and I think we will sit 4, 5 at the most per table.  I bought these drawers at Wal-Mart today. We will put one set at the front of each table.   I *think* we will keep white boards in one drawer and folders/ notebooks in the others.  Of course I HAD to take a picture of the table that had not been wiped down yet!  I need to buy three more of these tomorrow... I really want to buy different color buckets from Really Good Stuff like this picture below to keep materials in.

 Here is a view from the back of the room look toward the front door on the right.

This is the view from the back of the room looking to the left.  I am totally putting up bulletin boards tomorrow- even it is just fabric and border!  That cork is killing me!

I will be going back in tomorrow and will have more pictures to share of my progress!

I was nominated for the Really Good Stuff (I know I referenced them above but it was truly coincidence, I promise!) blog award.  I am so honored!  The voting has opened now.  There are tons of fantastic blogs nominated.  Please make sure to check it out by clicking here.



I Had a Date

An absolutely fabulous week long date...with a mouse.  This mouse to be specific.

We spent a week in Orlando and spent most of our time in the amusement parks.  We took my 20 month old (how did my baby girl get so close to TWO?!?!) to breakfast at the Tusker House at the Animal Kingdom.   It was a character breakfast and she met Mickey, Donald, Goofy and Daisy.  I think this picture may be a favorite.  It was the first time she saw Mickey.

I about fell out when I saw this picture!

Here is a shot of her with Mickey.  She is stunned he is right next to her.

Later we say Pooh and that was equally as thrilling.  We waited for about 20 minutes to meet him.  About 3 minutes before our turn I got the twitch every mother knows.  That's right.  My little girl honored Pooh with a little poo on her own.  Yet again, I almost passed out laughing at the irony.  Luckily, we got it all under control and she LOVED him.

Now, back to business.

I have been on a sabbatical and have done very, very little school "stuff."  I am so sorry I have been MIA. It was well needed.  But now, NOW I am back and ready!  Tomorrow I head back into the classroom to set up for the summer camp I will be teaching the last week in June and intend to try to set up our new classroom as much as possible for the next school year as well.  I have tons of ideas floating around!  I will take lots of pictures and I am looking forward to sharing!

HEY!  Wait a second!  I am a little slow on the uptake here, but I just noticed that I was nominated for a blog award from Really Good Stuff.  Seriously. Check it out here.  Since I was out of town I am trying to go through the 1200 (no exaggeration) emails I received in the last week. Apparently, the email went to my junk folder (gasp!).  There is now way I will win (seriously, I am up against the First Grade Parade, Step Into Second Grade, Third Grade Thoughts, and Sunny Days in Second Grade) but I am just so honored! These are the people I want to be just like when I grow up! Whoever nominated me- thank you so much!  I am so touched!


Summer Organization

I am using this summer to get myself organized.  I have this great plan.  I have no idea if I will ever get said plan off the ground, but there is a plan.

I wanted to come up with a way to keep myself on track and organized.  I was going to make a calendar of sorts with a checklist.  I was browsing around and found this super cute FREE organizational helper. I know I have said before how much I love that delicious word FREE.

Nicole from

shared her super cute organizational freebie.  I am in love!  It is perfect, and I don't have to make it!  A wonderful combination!

Click here to download it from her awesome TpT store! Thanks, Nicole, for being so generous!

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