Sunday, February 12, 2017

Swap Fun Friday cupcakes with creative curriculum extensions

The students expect it but it can be an automatic teacher headache. You know what I’m talking about…it’s Fun Friday! Even if you dedicate just 15 minutes to it at the end of the day you might be taking time away from instruction especially if you have recess in there too! Then, no matter what you need them to do after their “fun Friday”, it’s going to be 10x more difficult than it needs to be. {envision peeling students off the ceiling, desks flying and cupcake frosting smeared on the floor} Oh, is that just my class? {insert embarrassed face here}

My special needs self-contained kiddos work hard to earn the Fun Friday party aka fiasco every single week, but I tried something different this past month and I loved it! Swap cupcakes for creative and exciting curriculum extensions. Here is what I did.

Week One
This month we are learning about the 7 continents! Each week is dedicated to a different continent. We are using our beloved interactive pocketbook units and to enhance this, I found these Continents and Animal Sticker Scenes at Oriental Trading in their Classroom Crafts section. At the end of the day, the students enjoyed some quiet, but fun working time. The students were able to do this craft independently because the animals were color coded…which this Friday teacher tired girl like very much! The students were really excited to display these on their lockers when they were completed and not a single kiddo realized they didn’t get their “inner party animal” out at school this week. #teacherwin

Week Two
This week we exchanged our usual Morning Work routine with a fun and engaging writing station. I don’t know about your class, but mine will do anything to use dry erase markers! I really should use this to my advantage more often. Since we were still learning about the continents, I pulled out all of the Continent related prompts on these adorable dry erasewriting prompts with realistic photography which can be found in the Classroom Must-Haves section of Oriental Trading’s website. The students did not even realize they were working and expanding their writing skills while continuing to demonstrate their knowledge of the world during “morning work”. To make the morning even more exciting, we used these ridiculously cute googly erasers too which I brought out for the first time. Let’s just say we took writing to a whole new level on this day! #teacherwin

Week 3
As I mentioned, my students love unique and fun writing tools. Some of my friends are working on their hand strength and writing can be tiring. I know that I need to make it exciting for them so I had this in store for the last of my continent fun Fridays. We finished up our MEGA continent unit with learning about Europe. By this time during the unit, I think we were all a little Continent-studied out, but I can’t let them know that I am right there with them. Sitting on their desks, standing up and looking as inviting as ever was an Eiffel Tower pen that they could use during all continent related work for the rest of the Europe unit. Let’s just say that I was a teacher rock star on this day and this gift is the gift that keeps on giving because my students are still using these pens every day and I just cannot say no to them about it. They look so adorable sitting on their desks and if there is one thing that I know these kids won’t forget, it is all of the important information they learned about the Eiffel Tower. #teacherwin

Needless to say, we have reinvented the idea of what our students think of as “Fun Friday”.  No more pulling students off the ceiling before dismissal and no more cleaning up cupcake frosting off the floor every week. We will save that just for holidays and birthdays. If you have any other ideas we would love to hear them! The products in the blog post were sent to us for review from Oriental Trading and the feedback we have given is our honest opinion on the products.
As always, thank you for stopping by! 

Friday, February 10, 2017

Five for Friday!!

It’s Friday and it has us feeling all sorts of happy today! We’re linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching again for her Five for Friday post. This week’s five random facts from our classroom showcase our favorite Teachers Pay Teachers sellers.

Our first favorite seller is Krista Wallden’s Creative Clips.

We LOVE using her clipart in our products! Her style is so kid-friendly, it’s adorable, and her wide variety has SO many uses in our lives! We use her clipart for…
…morning work journal covers…

…and her artwork is featured in our new Weather Unit.
We love using Creative Clips in our products and in our classroom!

Another Teachers Pay Teachers favorite of ours is The Moffatt Girls.
We use her monthly No-Prep Packets as part of our morning work notebooks! Because our students perform at different independent levels, we’re able to differentiate their morning work notebooks because she has varying skill levels available in her store.
*Teacher hack: create morning work at your students’ independent levels so you can finish up last minute to-do’s in the morning. Or drink your coffee when it’s actually hot. J

Not only do we love The Moffatt Girls for our morning work notebooks, but we also love Second Story Window morning work! We usually alternate these TPT authors monthly. We love that Second Story Window morning work is directly related to Common Core Learning Standards. Second Story Window morning work requires no prepping and has clear, organized directions for our kiddos.
We’re surprised we haven’t mentioned Learning in Wonderland in previous blog posts yet. Her creations are definitely a favorite of ours! We use her products in both our professional and personal lives.
We use her classroom rules and behavior clip chart in our rooms!
We’ve used her flipbook template for numerous resources in our classrooms. This template has SO many uses! We’ve used it for Parent Night, student projects, novel studies, and back-to-school activities.
We love her products so much that we even use her calendars in our personal lives. They look adorable in our kitchen and we like typing our family events instead of writing them in by hand.
Our last favorite this Friday is our Black History Unit, which currently features Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. These new units follow our pocket book format, which has our students sticking with the routine and structure of this series.
Of course we’ve used Krista Wallden’s Creative Clips in our newest unit J She is a favorite after all!
Thanks for joining us this Friday for our favorite TPT authors! We’re looking forward to seeing other Five for Friday posts today!

Monday, February 6, 2017

#TPTBeMine Gift Card Giveaway Blog Hop

Have you heard? The secret is out! Teachers Pay Teachers is having a SALE ! Tuesday February 7th and Wednesday February 8th, you can grab resources at up to 28% off with the promo code #TPTBEMINE ! Our Wish list is already stocked full of sweet resources for our classroom as well as clip art for creating resources too! 

As if that isn’t enough excitement, we are having a TPT giftcard giveaway with some fabulous teacher bloggers! You have the chance to win one of eight $10 gift cards that you can use for the sale! Enter the giveaway through the rafflecopter below starting at midnight on Tuesday February 7th. The giveaway will last until Tuesday at 11:59pm. Winners will be announced on Wednesday! After you finished entering here, scroll to the bottom of this post to hop on over  for another chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Check out some of our Favorite February Resources below and you can grab them for 28% off during the site wide sale!

Our students have been having a blast with our math craftivities! We have them for every holiday and season. It is such a fun way to break up the week and incorporate some colorful, hands-on holiday fun while practicing math concepts. We love these using these in our classrooms because they look amazing on bulletin boards and hallway displays too!

Our students need organization and they thrive on the format of our pocketbook units so we are looking forward to using these two units on Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. this week and next. Each unit has embedded vocabulary words throughout it, beautiful colored posters and word wall cards, reading passages with comprehension questions in a workbook format, PowerPoint presentations, early finisher work and much more!

After our Mid-Winter February break (Yes, we have a Mid-Winter break in Buffalo, NY…the winter is THAT long!) we are using our  Extreme Weather and Natural Disasters MEGA bundle in our classrooms! The bundle includes a unit on Tornado, Hurricane, Tsunami, Earthquake, Blizzard and Hurricane! Each unit is also listed separately if you don’t need all 6. You can also get the Tornado unit for free by subscribing to our newsletter! A while back, we wrote how to implement this unit in your classroom in a blog post you revisit that post here for tips and tricks with using this!

As always, thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful week!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Five for Friday!!

After last week’s Friday Favorites link-up we decided we needed to participate in another one this week! Today we’re linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her Five for Friday link up! Today we’ve organized our five random facts…mainly because organization makes our hearts happy but we also thought the info would be useful to you all!

First up is an organizational tip. It’s no joke that we just love organization. We love color coding, we love our planners, and we love when everything has a place. This obsession has transferred over into our professional lives and we’ve learned that our students thrive in organization.

Back in May we wrote about how our students are so successful using our thematic pocket book series. First we choose an overall science or social studies theme. Then, we create weeklong units. These weeklong units each have one pocket in our binded pocket book. At the end of the mega unit, students take home a large portfolio of the science or social studies work they’ve completed! Check out these science and social studies themes organized into student portfolios below!
Extreme Weather Thematic Unit
This extreme weather pocket book above houses one pocket per weeklong unit.

This wildfire unit holds all the work each student completes during this weeklong unit!

This was our social studies thematic unit for December! Each pocket book follows the same format each week. And in case you needs a step-by-step visual, we attached our “How to Use” lesson plans below.

Next, we’re giving you a teaching tip this Friday! Recently we created morning work notebooks for our students and because we have varying levels in our classrooms, we of course differentiated these! Each student has the same morning work cover so they all look the same at first glance!

We also differentiated our class’ spelling workbooks. The words and activities inside are differentiated to each student’s level but the covers are all the same!

This most certainly is a teacher tip! Our students can feel embarrassed and have low confidence if they know their peers have more difficult work than them. We avoid such negative feelings with these sneaky covers. Ahhh we love little “teacher secrets” like this!

Because both teachers have a background in special education, “teacher tired” is a real thing. And “teacher tired” leads to burnout. Today we’re giving you a self-care tip.

The Double Dose of Learning authors are not only co-creators of TPT products, they’re teacher besties! Recently, one of the Double Dose ladies received a promotion to an administrative role. Although we miss each other SO much, we keep our teacher friendship alive though creating TPT resources! Creating these products together is a stress relief for us both! When we’re creating products we’re typically relaxing at home in our pajamas and with a cup of coffee. We love creating products after a tough day!

Our fourth tip is a behavior management tip. We started using brag tags in our classroom and our students (and us!) have been loving them! Because we could go on and on about these nifty inventions, we decided to write a post in the near future highlighting how our class uses them. Look for that coming soon!

We’re ending today’s post with a random tip! Something that gets the Double Dose ladies through the day is planning. And not just planning school-related activities, lessons, and events. What helps is planning activities outside of school in advance. We mentioned above that we love our planners…what we love more is putting something in our planner using a bright flair pen! This visual reminder stands out when we’re looking at our planner and gives us something to look forward to. These “outside of work activities” can be simple like having a girls’ night or grabbing dinner with a loved one, or they could be a bigger event! One of us just booked a trip to Florida in April and you can bet those vacation dates are circled, bolded, and highlighted in the planner! We SO wish we could post a picture of our planner but we keep so many personal things in them. However, we couldn’t resist a pretty planner picture!