Earlier this afternoon I posted this picture on Instagram....
I received a few messages after posting regaring the containers I used for organization, so I thought I'd take a minute to break it all down in case anyone else is curious, too!
Storage containers, Sterilite drawers, and clear shoe organizers!!! Affordable and efficient!!!
I absolutely love the clear shoe organizer (I found mine at Wal Mart for right around $7) for catching lots of odds and ends that would typically end up in a drawer and eventually find themselves at the bottom of said drawer leaving me baffled and beyond frustrated. The visual piece helps keep things organized and easy to find!!!
These are the two containers I primarily use for storing my materials. They're both the *perfect* size for the materials I need to store. And they're at a really reasonable price point, too.
These are both Sterilite containers and I got them from Wal Mart.
The 6.2 qt. is great for storing papers, games, manipulatives, and just pretty much anything you have hanging around in your classroom. It's super verstatile, too.
What I love about this size is that it can be used with the Mainstays brand Mini StorageTrays & Rectangular Mini Bins for cleaner organization (also from Wal Mart).
The 6.2 qt. is great for storing games, activities, and papers. I like to use these containers to store my skill based math games.
My Making Math Fun games & activites fit perfectly into each container. I like to place each unit into a different bin and store them. Then when I want my kids to play a specific game or complete a specific activity, I'll remove the remainder of the games/activities, place them in an extra box, and then take the container and fill it with the items necessary to complete the activity and place it on the math shelf. The latch-top lid is perfect for keeping everything contained.
Here's my Place Value & Base 10 Block skill based game container. I placed 3 different activities in this container that require the use of the oversize dice, expo marker, base 10 blocks, and additional counters (in the blue snap top container). I can easily place this in it's entirety on the math shelf and my kids have all the items they need to successfully complete the activities & play the games in one handy little container.
This container is such a handy size! And for classrooms with limited space, they become the perfect little workspaces that can go pretty much anywhere you allow your kids to work. They're great storage for teacher resources and materials as well.
I love that they can be carried around to work with students one-on-one, used to store small group materials, and perfect to grab for whole group as well. Everything can be contained in one small space and then put back inside the closet at the end of the day. My classrom may look like a hot mess during the day, but it always makes me feel like I'm starting my day on the right foot when it's not a disaster! Being able to just put everything back inside it's container and then hide it away until the next day is HUGE!
If you're anything like me, you love collecting seasonal items to use as counters/manipulatives for different math...or even reading!...activities. The problem for me is always finding a spot to store them all. When I'm working in classrooms, I always suggest to teachers to give kids choices when choosing the counters with which they work. Sometimes this small release of control helps give our kids the sense of autonomy they need to feel successful. It also helps to change things up and make things more exciting :) The problem with giving lots of options is the lack of space we have to store them. I found these Sterilite divided cases at Target and think they fit the bill perfectly!
As you can see, they come with two long trays and 2 divided trays of 3. I bought several of these containers and just mixed and matched the compartments to use as needed. I like using the trays of 3 for my counters and using the long trays inside of a different container to house my crayons, colored pencils, and skinny markers. I love the idea of keeping my counters in one space making it easy for kids to access. Actually, I have several of these that hold my counters, but you get the idea! It's easy for kids too choose from, easy for me to store, and I know I can always find everything in one spot!
These storage containers are great for guided reading, too!
I have one container I use specifically for my guided reading tools (kind of like my guided reading toolbox!)...
Guided reading game containers are also the perfect storage solution! It would great to have a container for each small group you see. That way everything you need for that group is housed in one container and can be switched out quickly. We all know how precious our guided reading time is, so anything that helps with time management is a winner in my book!
The 2.7 qt. containers are perfect for storing manipulatives & anything else that's "small". I use these for math manipulatives, washi tape, glue sticks, dry erase markers, erasers, dice, etc. They stack up pretty well, too! I love a stackable container!
I *personally* think these containers are an excellent storage solution for any classroom. They're compatible to fit inside of most cabinet and shelving spaces, they stack, and they latch. Everything I want in a storage container without the bulk! And they're priced really affordably, too! Okay, so if they were more like $1 it would be ideal, but it's definitely better than some of the options without similar qualities.
There's nothing I love more than an organized space, even if it's only behind closed doors :)
OH! One more thing. If you're already shopping for next school year, or trying to find things to finish out the current one, Teachers Pay Teachers is hosting their sitewide Teacher Appreciation Sale today (5/9) and tomorrow (5/10). Everything in my store is 20% off and you can use the code THANKYOU17 to get an additional 10% off of your purchase at checkout.
The one whose weary body hits snooze 5 times before hurriedly rushing out the door to get to school on time.
I'm talking to you.
The permanently positive teacher who slides into the classroom on rainbows and dreads the end of the school year because it means having to say goodbye to your students.
I'm talking to you.
And all of you amazing teachers in between.
I'm talking to you, too.
To the teacher who doesn't like a classroom full of stuff and has opted for a more streamlined and calming decor scheme, IT'S OKAY. It doesn't mean you're not an awesome teacher because your classroom isn't gracing the homepage of Pinterest. Maybe it just means that a Pinterest worthy classroom just isn't your jam. Maybe you teach better in a classroom with less "stuff". Maybe you've opted to let your students do the bulk of your decorating. Maybe you don't have access to funds that would allow you to decorate like crazy. Maybe your administration has adopted the "less is more" motto in regards to classroom decor. Maybe you've decided to use your $$$ to decorate your home instead of your classroom. Believe me...IT'S OKAY.
To the teacher with the Pinterest worthy classroom, IT'S OKAY. It's okay to have a decked out classroom. It doesn't make you a better teacher than anyone else, it just makes you a teacher who loves to decorate. And that's okay. Maybe you've taken on an extra summer job so that you could decorate your classroom in a way that makes you happy. Maybe you spend 8+ hours a day in your home away from home and want it to feel less like a work space and more like your home. Maybe you love decorating and beam with excitement and pride at the prospect of decorating a classroom at the beginning of each school year. Maybe you just like well organized and aesthetically pleasing spaces. Sweet teacher friend, you do you. IT'S OKAY.
To the teacher who uses a behavior chart in your classroom even when everyone else is telling you to stop, IT'S OKAY. Behavior charts aren't always a bad thing depending on how they're used. It doesn't mean you're a mean teacher or even that you like to humiliate your students. Maybe you're using it in a way no one understands & you've found a ton of success doing so. Maybe it's the ONLY thing that works for you and your kids. Maybe, just maybe, you know your kids and the dynamics of your classroom better than anyone else and I trust that you do!!! :)
To the teacher who has decided to use an alternative method of behavior management that doesn't include a behavior chart, IT'S OKAY. It doesn't mean you have no classroom managment skills. Maybe you've tried to use a behavior chart and by day 3, you've forgotten to remind your students to keep track of their color. Maybe you've tried behavior charts before and you haven't found any success. Maybe the way you've implemented behavior charts in the past has been ineffective. Maybe, just maybe, you don't like the idea of behavior charts at all.
To the teacher who has opted out of including a flexible seating arrangement in your classroom, IT'S OKAY. There are so many new trends to implement & the thought of trying them all is daunting. Maybe the idea frightens you and right now you're trying to tackle one thing at a time, so flexible seating can wait. Maybe you're waiting to see if this trend is just a fad. Maybe you've decided against flexible seating options at the moment until you have time to do more research on it's benefits. Maybe your administration isn't on board. Maybe your school doesn't have the funds. Maybe, just maybe, flexible seating just isn't your thing.
To the teacher who has decided to include a flexible seating arrangement in your classroom even when no one else in your building agrees with your choice, IT'S OKAY. Maybe you love trying new ideas and are willing to try anything if it means it will benefit your students. Maybe you were lucky enough to be the recipeint of a grant and all of your flexible seating choices were fully funded (yay you!!!). Maybe you feel like flexible seating will help you with classroom management. Maybe you know your kids better than everyone else and you're certain flexible seating will help them become better learners. IT'S OKAY!
To the teacher who has decided to end the year with a countdown, IT'S OKAY. I don't believe that you're anxious to send your students to the next grade nor do I think you're dying for summer break to start already. We all get it...summer fever is starting to set in and we're all ready to turn off those alarm clocks!!! Maybe you're just excited about the progress your kids have made throughout the year and a countdown is a visual reminder to you of the great work you've done preparing them for the year that lies ahead. Maybe your countdown serves as a visual reminder of the time you have left with your babies and you want to make every day...every minute...every moment count. Maybe your students suggested a countdown because they're looking forward to summer and counting down is just plain fun! Maybe you've always ended the year with a countdown and want to continue the tradition. IT'S OKAY!
To the teacher who's decided to take down the countdown and end the year on a different note instead, IT'S OKAY. It doesn't mean that you're a better teacher than those who've decided to keep theirs up, but it's a personal choice you're excited about for the end of the year and that's awesome for you and your kids. Everyone sees this subject differently and no one is "wrong". Maybe you're worried about what a countdown says to your kids about the time you have left together. Maybe you can't keep up with a countdown and like the year to end when it ends. Maybe countdowns just aren't your thing. It's OKAY.
To the teacher who can't wait for summer break....it's OKAY. Your anticipation of a summer break filled with no alarm clocks, bathroom breaks on demand, flexible lunch times, and the occasional nap is totally understandable and quite frankly well deserved. Looking forward to a break doesn't mean you don't love teaching or that you're ready to say goodbye to your students. It just means you're ready for a break, and that's okay!!!! Every teacher needs time to recharge. Every teacher needs time to "miss" her/his classroom and then come back full force in August ready and raring to go. And let's be real....it's never really a much of a break anyway, is it?! LOL.
To the teacher who can't wait for the weekend....IT'S OKAY. Maybe you've had a tough week on a personal or professional level. Maybe you're feeling like you've failed in some way and you can't wait to step away from it all for a couple of days to recharge and refocus. Maybe you're traveling to see friends or family and you can't wait to see your loved ones. Maybe you're itcing to spend two days in your pajamas chasing around the tiny little humans your'e raising on the homefront. Liking or posting a "THANK GOODNESS IT'S FRI-YAY!!!" post doesn't make you a bad teacher. It makes you human. IT'S OKAY.
To the teacher with the case of the Mondays, IT'S OKAY. It's okay for you to be tired on a Monday and post...or like... a silly Monday meme on social media about the end of a fabulous weekend. It doesn't mean you loathe the idea of seeing your students or love your school week any less than anyone else. Maybe it just means you have a wickedly amazing sense of humor and Monday memes make you laugh. Maybe you just need someone to validate the way you're feeling and posting for some likes makes you feel less alone. Maybe, just maybe, you're finding the work week a little bittersweet as you kiss your own kids goodbye in a hurried rush to take care of your 26 school babies and you're wishing you had another 24 hours to be at home with them. Maybe it just means you're stressed and overwhelmed about the demands of your responsibilities of a teacher and a sarcastic meme helps to lighten your burdened spirits. IT'S OKAY.
To the teacher who slides into your classroom each morning on rainbows with a smile on your face & an extra pep in your step, IT'S OKAY. The world needs more happiness and we're glad you're spreading it like wildfire. Maybe you're just a happy person and you choose to go out of your way to avoid negativity. It's okay to be optimistic and encourage others to try to be optimistic, too. Maybe you're just a happy person and optimism comes naturally. Maybe you're experiencing heartache and positivity is the only way to block out the hurt in your life. Maybe you know that the only way you can live a positive life is by surrounding yourself with postivite thinking and positive people. Maybe you're just trying to fake it until you make it. IT'S OKAY.
To the teachers who occasionally vent about your disappointments & frustrations, IT'S OKAY. It's okay for you to be frustrated about the progress...or lack thereof...of your students. It doesn't mean you're giving up. It doesn't mean you've lost hope. Maybe you just care a whole lot about your kids and you want them to do better because you know they can. Maybe you're feeling like you're not enough. Maybe you're overwhelmed by the burdens of our ever growing responsibilities & cringe at the thought of adding "one more thing" to your plate. It doesn't mean you hate being a teacher. It doesn't mean you don't like your students. It means you're human and you need to talk to people who "get" you. There's only so much a significant other can hear about school until it starts to fall on deaf ears, LOL (just ask my husband ;) haha) We all need a sounding board and who better to relate to than a fellow teacher?! There's a difference between venting out of frustration and being negative for negativity's sake. Oh, dear teacher friends....IT'S OKAY!!!!
To the teacher who feels like you can't do it all, IT'S OKAY. You don't have to. And you shouldn't. It's impossible to be on 100% of your time in every area of your life. Sometimes you fall short and there's nothing wrong with that. We were never made to be perfect, thank God!!! As teachers, parents, friends, etc....we WILL fall short. It's inevitable. Allow yourself some grace, get back up, and keep going. IT'S OKAY.
To the teacher who seems like she has it all together, IT'S OKAY. It's okay that you really don't. The world may see a smiling face, perfectly coifed hair, great outfit, organized classroom, and the seemingly head-scratching way you are able to do everything "perfectly", but don't feel like you're any less because you can't live up to those perceptions. It's okay to be vulnerable and let your guard down. It's okay that you aren't as together as it seems. There's a wonderful freedom in letting go of those self-imposed expectations. IT'S OKAY. You are enough.
To the teacher who feels alone, IT'S OKAY. But just be reassured that you are NEVER alone. Even in a building where it seems like you are, you are NEVER alone. You have a classroom full of kids who need you. You are not alone. You have a community of teachers who FEEL you. You are not alone. Join an online community...participate in group discussions...find your person! IT'S OKAY!!! You are NOT alone!
To the teacher experiencing difficulty with a parent/parent(s), IT'S OKAY. This too, shall pass. Maybe there was a miscommunication. Maybe you can't live up to their expectations. Maybe you made a mistake. Maybe they just don't like you. IT'S OKAY. Parent/teacher relationships can be a beautiful thing, but sometimes they're downright hard. Each relationship is a learning experience and an opportunity for you to grow both personally and professionally. It's okay to cry about it. It's okay to worry about how it will affect you professionally. But don't let it get you down personally because in the end, IT'S OKAY.
To the teacher who had a rough evaluation, IT'S OKAY. You will survive and come out better for it on the other side. Maybe you were having a rough day. Maybe your kids were having a rough day. Maybe you froze up and forgot how to teach (hey, it's happened to all of us, LOL). Maybe your administrator was having a bad day. Maybe your administrator has it out for you. Maybe, just maybe, this is an opportunity for you to grow. A bad evaluation might seem like the end of the world, but it's not. It's really not. It will pass, you will grow, and next year you'll knock it out of the ballpark. IT'S OKAY.
To the teacher who loves implementing new and exciting ideas in your classroom in the midst of disapproval from your co-workers, IT'S OKAY. It's okay to be innovative and creative. It's okay to step out of the box and do something that's never been done before. Great ideas aren't born out of comfort. Just because it's always been done the same doesn't mean it always has to be done the same way. You're not bad teacher (or bad person) for wanting to try something different. Maybe you're tired of doing the same thing over and over and something new brings you a renewed excitement for teaching. Maybe you love trying fresh ideas and exciting things in the classroom. None of this means you respect or love your teammates any less, it just means you have your own ideas you want to bring to the table and THAT'S OKAY!!!!
To the teacher who hates change, IT'S OKAY. Change is scary! It doesn't mean you're a bad teacher, it just means you like the lane you're in and you'd rather not turn on your blinkers to switch just yet. If it's not broke, don't fix it, right?! Are your kids happy? Are they learning? Are they growing and progressing?! Well then, good for you! Maybe you're just a creature of habit. Maybe change is a terrifying prospect for you. Maybe you know what works and you prefer the path of least resistance. IT'S OKAY!!!
To the teacher who doesn't blog/Tpt/Instagram/Facebook, IT'S OKAY!!!! It doesn't make you less of teacher. It just means you're a teacher who has chosen to forego a social media presence and invest your precious, precious time in the things you dearly love instead. IT'S OKAY!!!
To the teacher who blogs/TpTs/IGs/FBs, IT'S OKAY! You aren't a better teacher because of your social media presence, but you are quite a bit busier. Busier isn't always better, but you've chosen to forge this path because it's an outlet you LOVE. You love being part of an online community and connecting with other teachers from around the world who "get" you. Instead of curling up on the couch with a good book at the end of a long day, you've chosen to bury your head in the computer creating resources for other teachers, sharing ideas, and staying connected with all things education. IT'S OKAY!!!! And it's okay when you go through seasons of silence, too :) Just like Ross and Rachel, everyone needs a break.
To the teacher who has decided to leave the classroom, IT'S OKAY. The teaching profession will miss you like crazy, but you've made the best decison for yourself & your family and that's perfectly fine. Maybe you realized you were being called in another direction. Maybe you had a string of bad years and need time to mentally recover. Maybe you've decided to stay home and raise your family. Maybe you've decided to go back to school. In any case, GOOD FOR YOU. IT'S OKAY!
I don't know much, but I do know that no matter who you are and how you teach, there will always be someone (whether it be an administrator, parent, co-teacher, or social media presence) who may intentionally or inadvertently make you feel "less than". Be it through a blog, Facebook post, Instagram picture, a quote, a photo, a pin, a conversation, a mass email, a team meeting, a parent/teacher conference....there are SO many avenues that open us all up to both give and recieve criticism. And depending on how you feel, it can be downright terrifying or empowering. It can make us feel inadequate or righteous. Just remember when you feel like you're on the receiving end, your value is not based on someone else's opinion of who you are, how you teach, or anything else.
No matter your belief or philosophy, for the sake of teachers everywhere, just remember that IT'S OKAY. You just go on and do you because that's what you know how to do best. And the only goal you need is to be a better version of the teacher/teammate/colleague you were the day before. Our profession receives so much criticism from people outside of our field.
As the end-of-the-year quickly approaches, we often find ourselves looking for exciting ways to engage our kids, keep their interest, and teach them all the way until the last day. Okay, okay....the last week(ish), LOL. So often Science and Social Studies take a backseat to the daily demands of math and literacy, but there are SO many ways to incorporate science on a cross-curricular level. Why not end the year with a BANG and incorporate hands-on science activities that include a literacy and math component as well?!
Abby and I created a year's worth of The Science Of...resources to meet the needs of science, but also incorporate literacy and math components. These are our FAVORITE resources(I know, we're biased), but we LOVE them!! And so do teachers and students across the globe!!
The end of the school year is a great time to teach about the ocean & ocean animals. A pretty great segue into summer, don't you think?! Two weeks worth of our science plans & activities focus on oceans and ocean animals. One of my favorite activities is "eating the ocean". We make little ocean parfaits and then write about the different ocean animals and ocean life that can be found in each level of the ocean. Ocean trioramas are always a school-to-home favorite, too!
My kids have always seemed to have an ocean animal fascination. Quite frankly, I do too! LOL. We only live an hour away from the beach, so I'll often take a day trip down to Galveston during this time of the year and have my boys help me collect artifacts to bring back and share with my kids. Shells, the occasional shark tooth!!!, sand, etc. We talk all about the different animals in the ocean, the foods they eat, how they protect themselves from danger...etc. My kids are always fascinated to see how small octopuses can be and the looks of disgust on their faces when they learn people eat octopus always gives me a little giggle.
Right now, Target is carrying these darling ocean animal erasers in the dollar spot!!! Aren't they great?! We'll be using these as counters for some of the ocean themed games we have planned.
Teaching thematically also gives us an opportunity to introduce rich vocabulary to our kids and prompt them to apply their learning to everyday activities. Little marine biologists, if you will :)
After ocean animals and ocean life, we move right into dinosaurs. Our babies sure do love dinosaurs, don't they?! And these activities are defintely engaging and hands-on!!!
Speaking of dinosaurs, Target is KILLING it right now in the dinosaur science department!!! Just look at all these dinosaur goodies I found at Target in the dollar spot! These would be such a great compliment to the activities planned for dinosaur week!
We've heard from so many teachers how much they loved kitchen chemistry week! Cooking & exploring physical and chemical changes sounds like a pretty great way to end the year. Anytime I can incorporate food into my lesson plans, I'm ALL in. My friends know this well :) #noshame
Abby and I also created a "sample" science packet focusing on the science of sunscreen...a pretty timely, and important!, concept heading into the sunny and hot summer days. And if you're only needing a week's worth of cross-curricular lesson plans....or want to see what "The Science Of..." is all about....this is a great resource to have on hand!
Here's one of our sweet homeschool readers proudly displaying his Science of Summer activities! I absolutely LOVE this pic!!! How precious is his work?!
Lots of talk about sunscreen....
How sunscreen works, sunburn info, and some fact & opinion fun, to boot.
I had my boys do these activites the first couple of weeks of summer last year because they're always fighting me about wearing sunscreen. Why?! LOL.
A couple of the experiments included helped them to visually see the kind of damage the sun can do if we choose not to keep our sun protected with sunscreen. In fact, I think I might have laid on the info pretty thick because they sure didn't forget to remind me when I wasn't wearing any, haha.
Alright...time to head outside. And no, I won't forget my sunscreen! LOL!!!!
Can y'all believe we're already (quickly) approaching the end of April?! WHERE DID THE YEAR GO?! Our babies get out at the end of May and you know how May goes. Everything sort of hits us at once. Cinco de Mayo, Mother's Day, testing, assessment after assessment, portfolios, cumulative folders, plays, musicals, field trips, graduation, etc., etc., etc. Try as we may to be on top of things, sometimes the inevitable just sneaks up on us! For me, that is usually Mother's Day. I always think I have more time to plan and prep. What about you?!
Well today I wanted to share with you some Mother's Day ideas so that this doesn't sneak up on you and leave you without a spare second to plan. Shall we?!
I always love introducing different concepts, topics, and holidays with a read aloud. Here are some of my favorite Mother's Day read alouds.
After reading a couple of different read alouds, we talk about different things that moms do. The responses always make me laugh, LOL.
Speaking as a mom, my favorite gifts I get from my kids are always the handwritten tokens of love. It's like a little piece of their hearts and thoughts on paper, forever frozen in time. I LOVE THEM. SO, I like having my school babies make the same type of gifts for their moms, or V.I.P's, too!! My mom kept all of these kinds of things my siblings and I made for her and I have a growing box of goodies my boys have created for me. Maybe I'm overly sentimental, but I seriously can't get enough. Here's just a little sample of some things we make for Mother's Day...
We create these as a guided writing activity during our guided reading small groups. Sometimes I'll even place some of the pages in the writing center throughout the two weeks leading up to Mother's Day...just depends on the class I have and how much time we have to work on them.
I adhere the cover to a piece of construction paper and the first two pages are an original poem and an "all about mom" page. The "all about" page is always my favorite, LOL!!! Then I use my 3-hole-punch & ribbon to tie it altogether.
There are lots of different pages within the book. Sometimes we have enough time to finish them all, sometimes we only have time for 3-5. It's a new ball game every year :)
Anybody remember this gem that one of my students gifted her mom back in 2012?!?! I DIE!!!! This is my favorite to date. Mom and I had a huge laugh over this one, LOL!!! Mom came up to school not long after this booklet went home and she and I could NOT stop laughing!! Out of the mouths of babes!
If you're interested in having your kids do something like this for their moms, I uploaded a freebie for you to use in your classrooms :) I was also sure to include pages that read "V.I.P" instead of "mom" should you have any students who need to designate an dad/aunt/uncle/grandma/grandpa/family friend as a mother figure.
I also have my kids send home Mother's Day coupon books that include coupons redeemable for things like hugs, foot rubs, house cleaning, naps, etc. My kids get a kick out of these!!! These are SUPER easy to assemble...just print, cut, collate, and staple! I'll often tie a ribbon around the booklets for a little something extra. Your kids can choose the coupons they want to include or you can choose for them :)
In addition to the Mother's Day keepsake booklet, I usually have my kids create Mother's Day simile books. I usually start with a mentor book and simile lesson to set the stage. Together we'll brainstorm a list of different descriptors to use in our books.
I go to the Dollar Tree, but a bunch of white or brown gift bags, and have my kids paint their handprints on the bag. Once they dry, they write "Happy Mother's Day" with a sharpie over their handprint. We place all of these keepsakes inside their gift bags to take home & instruct them to make sure that mom doesn't peek until Mother's Day!!!
And no Mother's Day is complete without some sort of craft! These are a couple of my favorites. I don't send them both home the same year...unless we have a ton of time!!!...but I'll alternate years and just kind of feel out which one is appropriate for the current school year. I love getting things like this from my boys!
How simple and easy is this craft?! "I love my mom because" flowers! You can take this a step further and place it in a clay pot decorated with their thumbprints :) That's for the ambitious teacher. I know this time of the year doesn't always afford us time! LOL!