Easy, No Prep Card Center

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One of the best pieces of advice that I have received was to create centers that could stay the same throughout the year. Over the years I have added more and more centers to my rotation that require little to no prep and that has saved my sanity!

One of the centers that has worked super well for my class is the card writing center. It’s a favorite every single year! Since this station is in the rotation each week, the kids know exactly what to do when their group is assigned to this center. This means that I don’t have to explain how to do it and the kids don’t interrupt my group during small group time. The main goal of centers is to keep the kids engaged, working, and practicing while the teacher works with a small group of children on targeted skills.

The best thing about this center is that it requires no prep work! You heard that right. No cutting little game pieces, laminating, or sorting anything! All you have to do is copy new cards for the week and you’re done! You don’t even have to fold the cards for the kids. They can handle it without a problem.

I had been using the same template for the past four years and it was time for an overhaul. I can't wait for my kids to see all the options!

Easy no prep card center!

You can choose to leave the inside blank or add lines. This file includes three different sized line templates that you can use to add lines inside the cards. 

Easy no prep card center!

There are OVER 50 designs that are included with more to come! You can check out the video below to see more card choices. 



Helpful Tips: 

  • When you introduce this center, make sure to model it and practice completing cards as a class. It also helps to have a couple of samples in the bin (or wherever the materials are held) just in case they need a little refresher. 
  • Have lots of copies ready to go. I suggest two or three designs at a time. I let my kids make as many cards as they would like during their time in this center (as long as the work is neat and complete of course). In a period of 30 minutes, my kids usually make one or two cards. 
  • Designate a place for your kids to place their cards when they are done. I picked up a mailbox from Lakeshore and it works perfectly! Our class “postal pal” passes them out at the end of the week. 
My kids LOVE to write cards for their friends and family. I'm sure yours will too!

If you would like to pick up this center, just click HERE or the picture below:


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Product Updates for Brights Fans!

Some of my favorites have gotten some product updates! These updates have been on my to-do list for a super long time. I'm so happy to have them completed. Every resource below now includes over 400 clip art choices for you to choose from so that you can match up every one of your students with the perfect image!

1. Editable Mailbox Labels

This mailbox system makes my life so much easier! I collect work that needs to be graded and put it back into these bins.  Every Thursday I send home a week's worth of work.  So far I'm noticing that more parents are getting to see their child's work this way.  In the past I've seen that my kids have work from weeks ago in their backpacks!  I was looking for a solution and this seems to have done the trick.  I also put a folder at the bottom of each drawer to help me build an ongoing portfolio.  Now whenever a last minute meeting pops up, I can pull the portfolio and have lots of student work for the meeting. These also come in handy for parent conferences!  


2. Book Bins

These book bins are one of my kids' favorite things in our classroom! So much that at the end of the year last year, my kids asked their third grade teachers if they would still have their own book bin in third grade!

I am all about happy colors and these labels with these bins from Lakeshore were just perfect for us!

3. Skinny Name Tags

The next resource is something we use all the time! Long ago I learned that packaging tape was one of the best ways to attach name tags to desks. Well, I was using huge name tags and they used up so much tape! A couple of years ago I thought about how amazing it would be if I could attach name tags with one piece of tape. That is the day this idea was born! These name tags fit perfectly inside the width of packaging tape.  Just place the name tag on the desk and run a piece of tape over it. Voila! 

When I print these, I print a duplicate set so that I can make bookmarks. My kids ADORE them!


Are you a Target Dollar Spot fan? Well, a year after I made these, Target created these thin adhesive labels and guess what? My name tags fit in there! #targetforthewin I'm now using these on my student desks but when I run out, I'll be using my trusty old packaging tape! 

If you own any of these resources, please make sure to re-download them now! If you are interested in purchasing them, please check out the links below:



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Creating Photo Ornaments

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Hi there!!! I posted an IG story over the weekend about my class ornaments and I received tons of requests for detailed directions. I'm a total visual learner and I know that watching me do it all might be more helpful than reading the steps. This is how they look when they are done:


Before you begin watching, please note that I took pictures of my kids using a Snapchat filter. That is how I got the reindeer ears on there. Second, I worked a 13 hour day today and I sincerely hope that all my directions were clear...but it's been a long day (Christmas show at school). Please let me know if you need clarification on any of these steps. 

I used clear shatterproof ornaments from Hobby Lobby that measure 3.15 inches in diameter. Anything over 3 inches is super easy to work with. Depending on the size ornaments that you buy, you will have to resize the circles so that they fit. Just play with a sample until you get the sizing just right. 

Part 1

Part 2

Tips: 

  • Use regular paper instead of photo paper. Regular paper will uncurl better inside the ornament.
  • Use shatterproof ornaments. This will ensure that all your kids go home with their gift intact! 
  • Take the pictures against a pure white surface. I like to use my whiteboard. This will make the background removal so much easier! 

This is my go to gift every year! The kids and parents LOVE them so much!

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Progress Monitoring in the Primary Classroom

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Do you progress monitor in your classroom? If so, you might have run into the same problem that I was having: keeping my materials organized. I was SO tired of never being able to find my testing materials when I needed them.  I either lost my timer, my book, stickers, or got everything ready and didn’t have a pencil on hand! I knew I had to find a better way to manage my materials. This year I came up with a solution to my problem.
 I now keep everything together in one place! Life has been so much easier thanks to my new progress monitoring bin! I keep it right by my desk so that it's ready to go the moment I need it.

I posted the picture below and had lots of questions about what I keep inside my bin and the testing materials that I use. This post will go over those questions.

Several years ago, we were required to test our students weekly. Even though we are no longer required to do this, I found that data so valuable that I have kept testing my students ever since. Progress monitoring gives me a quick snapshot of my kids' reading ability. This data is crucial when forming and planning for small groups. Fluency is such a huge factor in reading comprehension, so knowing how our students are progressing with fluency is a must. Please note that when I say fluency, I don't mean reading as fast as possible. I mean reading at a rate that supports comprehension.

All the testing materials are from the DIBELS website and are FREE to download! If you need copies, you can go HERE and register to download the newest edition. If you don't mind an older edition (I use the 6th because it uses less paper) you can use THIS link instead.

So let's dive into this bin and see what's inside! 

1. Student Copy


This large book is the one that the kids read from. I would like to laminate the cover and spiral bind it one day, but this staple has worked just fine for the past few years.


2. Progress Monitoring Booklets

These books are what I use to mark student errors. I copy 30 at the beginning of the year so that I have plenty for new students. 
I added the color-coded sections with highlighters. A few years ago, I did some research while working on my M.A. and I found out that there is a minimum number that needs to be reached in order for students to comprehend. That magic number is 50 WPM in second grade. So anything under 50 WPM is what I think of as the danger zone. My goal is to get my kids out of that zone as quickly as possible. I do not tell my kids that they are in or above the danger zone. This is for my own reference. 

Progress monitoring resources for the primary classroom!
This is what the cover looks like when it's filled out. I love the graph because I can quickly see the progress that my kids have made. My students and their parents love to see these graphs too!

3. Timer

I have one designated timer for progress monitoring. I like to use this one because I can control the volume on it. 

4. Pencils

I keep two pencils ready to go just in case one of them runs out of lead or just stops working. I sometimes will test my students in other rooms (such as the computer lab or the library) and there have been times when we have gotten there and I didn't have a pencil on hand. Super frustrating! These are my all-time favorite mechanical pencils! I tend to press really hard and these can handle the pressure. 

5. Goal Notes

The notes are so important for parents. I quickly jot down their score and the student and I come up with a goal (the experts say to only increase it a few words at a time).  Parents like to see these notes so that they know how their child is progressing.

Progress monitoring resources for the primary classroom!

6. Stickers


My kids are obsessed with these stickers! When they reach their goal (the goals are pretty obtainable) they get a sticker. They love to show their friends and other teachers that they reached their reading goals!

Progress monitoring resources for the primary classroom!

7. Rewards/Treats


This is completely optional. I like to reward my kids for their hard work with some sort of goodie. If you are at a school where you can give out treats, Hershey's kisses work really well! I tell them it's a kiss from their teacher and they giggle for a bit about it! The Target Dollar Spot erasers make perfect rewards too and they only cost $1 for 60 erasers!


Many teachers requested that I share the resources I created for my bin. You can grab a copy below:


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Books, Conferences, and Pumpkins

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Sorry I've been MIA from this blog! I've been in the middle of moving for a few months and it's finally all done :-) Here are some things we've been up to! Affiliate links have been included for your convenience. 

First of all I had to share this book with you! If you don't own it and you are a k-5 teacher, you need to pick up a copy right now! It's about a little seed that goes through some rough stuff in his life and turns into a "bad seed". He one day makes the choices to be a better seed and his whole life changes. 

I have a few students that really related to this book. Especially one little boy. He seriously saw himself in this story. Could you believe that he was different after the day I read this? I was beside myself when he was making connections to this story from his life. Had us in tears. When he heard this book, he suddenly realized that he could change, just like the seed could. He is now one of my BEST students! Even my intern commented about this!  So, yes. I highly recommend this one! 

The Bad Seed
I introduced story elements with this book and used my flipbook! It went so well! 
Links:

October Books for grades K-5
October is one of my favorite months because there are just so many fun events going on. PLUS October has some of the best read alouds around! You can see some of my favorites up here! I'll have to put together a list of my must have October books for you one day.

October also means conference time. I know that conferences can seem overwhelming and intimidating but hey don't have to be. I look forward to them because it gives me a chance to brag about my kids to their families.

These conference reminders are my go to's! They are super easy to fill out and stand out to the parents right away. I started color coding them according to the days I'm meeting with parents and it's helped me become even more organized!
Parent teacher conferences made easy!

I also color code my conference reports. I like to focus on the positives first. (You should always start conferences with positives so that parents are more willing to listen to your advice about any areas of concern.) When talking about areas of concern, I like to list just a couple of top areas to work on. I noticed that when I gave parents a long list of things to work on, they often got overwhelmed and ended up not working on anything. Ever since I started narrowing down to a couple of areas, I've seen a big improvement.
Parent teacher conferences made easy!

On the day of conferences I send out these reminders and stick them right on my kids' shirts! This extra step ensures that parents don't forget their conference.
Parent teacher conferences made easy!
 All these resources are included in my conference resource bundle. I received a request for a sign in sheet so I included one for you! If you own my bundle, please re-download to get the updates for free :-)
Parent teacher conferences made easy!

October and November also mean it's pumpkin time! We are studying pumpkins and using my flipbook. I love using these mini-flips because they cover everything we need to learn about pumpkins and only use 1.5 sheets of paper per student! The best thing is that everything is in one place. My kids love sharing their books with their parents at the end of their study! 
Pumpkin study for grades K-5

So much to do in the fall! On to November! :-)

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Back to School Teacher Fun

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Hello! I think by now, everyone is back in the swing of things for this school year. I wanted to share this post earlier but I think you all know how tough the beginning of the year can be and I have been seriously #teachertired.

Here are a couple of gifts I put together for my team. I found these pencil pouches in the Target dollar spot and they were only $1 each! I used my Cricut to personalize them. My teammates have loved them! They take them to every meeting and it makes me regret not picking up one for myself! Hopefully Target will be bringing these back because they are the perfect size! 

I also found these paper trays in the dollar spot. They are much larger than the ones I've seen before. I knew they'd be the perfect size to hold all our teacher stuff! I love using mine when I laminate things. Papers of all size fit right in there! 



Do you own a lightbox? If you do, you can use these inserts I have in my shop for FREE! I made them for K-5th grades :-) My kids and I love our lightbox! I know it is too late for you to use it this year, but you can save it for next year :-) 


This is what it looks like when it's on. So cute!

I hope your year is off to a great start!



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Classroom Tour 2017-2018

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Hello! I just wrapped up my first week of my eleventh year teaching and wanted to share some picture of my classroom with you. This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. I am paid a small commission for referring you to the products I am recommending but you will not pay any additional costs.

My Theme
I get asked what my theme is all the time. I don't really have one. I use bright colors and lots of adorable Melonheadz clipart. The beauty of using Melonheadz is that it's not geared towards boys or girls, and it's not specific. It can go with everything. What I love most about the clip art is that it celebrates children. Each image reminds me of students that I have had in the past. I also love that my kids identify with the characters too. It's our room.

When you enter my classroom, you walk right into this area. 
I thought for years about getting rid of my desk to open up some space and I just couldn't do it. I needed to find a way to reduce the amount of space that it took up in my classroom. What I ended up doing was making it a shared student/teacher workplace. I put my kidney table right by my desk to maximize the usage of this area. There are so many benefits to having the table this way. 

1. The students are facing me only. They cannot get distracted by watching the rest of the class while we work. 
2. I can see the entire class while I work with my small groups. 
3. I can walk right into my room and put my materials down.
4. I can use my chair for both tables.

This has seriously been the best set up and I don't think I will ever change it!


Above this wall, I decided to place a quote that we can focus on for the year. It's always time to be kind! The inspiration for this quote is from @thinkgrowgiggle on IG :-) 
If you've been on social media, you might have noticed the giant flower trend. Well, I fell head over heels for it! I made some for my room and they added so much to this area. You can find free templates for large flowers HERE from The Happy Teacher's Palette.

Calendar Area:
I searched and searched for a super long time for the perfect calendar. I gave up searching and decided to create my own. I am in LOVE! It's bright, happy, and all my kids can see it from all areas in the room. It's pretty large! I got it printed as an engineer print at Staples for around $5. 

I get lots of questions about how my cards are being held up. Have you heard of StikkiClips? I found out about them last year and they have been game changers! Prior to this I was using Velcro but then the cards took up so much space and they got all bent. I no longer have to worry about that. I just slip them in and out when I'm updating the calendar. 
This is what the StikkiClips look like. You can find them at Walmart, Lakeshore, and Amazon. 

Links:

Desk Area:
Anyone else have a hard time functioning when their desk area is messy? I know I do! I use a few different containers to help me stay organized.

To Do Drawers
My to-do drawers are life savers! I keep my master copies for the week on the top drawer. Work that needs to be graded in the middle drawer, and papers I need to file at the bottom. Do you use this system? If you don't, you should give it a try! You can pick up these labels for FREE in my shop!

Teacher Toolbox
My teacher toolbox is right by my work area so it's quickly accessible. This is a teacher must have! All the items that would usually be all inside my desk are now in this labeled container. I no longer have to rummage through my desk drawers in order to find everything. This one container saves me so much time! This toolbox came from Lowe's and I spray painted with white. 

Links:


Right next to my toolbox are my tape dispenser, Stapler, and mini-lightbox. The brag tags are from @primarilyspeaking. The pocket chart is from the Target Dollar Spot. This is my first year using brag tags. My kids are super excited about them!

Student Work Display/Gallery Wall

If you look over to the left of my desk area, you'll see a student work display (the black papers) and my #bestclass gallery wall inspired by RCA. I love to display student pictures in my room. It makes it feel like home.
Links:
Front Wall
This is a whole view of my east wall.

And another angle into my south wall.

Library
My library is on the opposite side of my desk.

Close up of my library:
My shelving is new from Ikea this year. The bins from the Target Dollar Spot fit perfectly in each cubby.

These shelves are perfect for classroom libraries. They are low so they make it easy for my kids to reach all the books, you can display books along the top, and because of the height, you can easily see the kids when they are in the library. 

I often get asked about how I sort my books. There is no exact system in place. Some of them are sorted by genre, theme, author (or groups of authors) or topics. It's pretty flexible and I group them in a  way that makes sense to me and my kids. Each book is labeled so that it can be returned into the right bin.

 I do not level my books. The reason why is because my kids do tons of leveled reading throughout the day. When they choose books from my library, I want them to be books that my kids self select to read for pleasure. I try not to limit them. I do however use the Daily Five model and the kids select books that are the right fit for them. I would say that most of my kids do a great job of selecting books that are great for them. Some children need a little help once in a while and I'll choose special books that would be the right fit for them and slip those into their book bins with a special note. They love this!
Links:

Anchor Chart/Brag Tag Area
This large wall was kind of intimating and I was not sure what to do with it. I did know that I needed a place for our anchor charts. When I put up the charts, I realized there was enough room below for my brag tags! Perfect! 

Cubbies
If you look to the right of the teal wall, you will see our cubbies. There is storage above my cubbies and it looks messy. I decided to add some fabric up there but the solid black looked kind of bland. I found this pom pom garland at Target a few months back and had no clue what to do with it. This worked out perfectly! The book bins are from Lakeshore with the exception of the teal ones. The teal bins are form Target.

My kids place their books for Read to Self time in these bins. I personalized them with my book bin labels. My kids seriously treasure these bins and love how the little characters look like them!

The stuffed animals came from Khol's except for Pete the Cat and the bus. Those are from Barnes and Nobel. You can also get them from Amazon. 

Links:

This is the angle from my front door over looking the south wall.

A closer view of my south wall.

On the left side, you can see our birthday board from my friend Ashley @schroedershenanigans! I've never had a birthday display before and I'm excited to try it out this year!

Next to that is our focus wall.
When I created this wall, I wanted something that was easy to maintain. Prior to creating this set, I was using something that required me to staple individual pieces in place every week. Well, that meant that our wall rarely got changed out. Now that it's set up with the clips, I can change my cards out so quickly! This wall is so handy. We refer to these skills every day during reading time. I also use StikkiClips to display these cards. 

On the right side of the Smartboard, you will see my objectives board and math practices bulletin boards.

This objectives board is another time saver! I print up my objectives for the week and put them on the rings. Then I can flip through them to find the ones I need for the day. So simple!

View over to the corner.
We focus a lot on mathematical practices in our district. I like having them up the whole year so we can refer to them throughout math time. 

I am loving this new addition to our classroom! You'd never know it but behind the board is a nonfunctioning TV that cannot be removed from our rooms. My bestie found the PERFECT chalkboard from Amazon to cover up the TV!
My plan is to change it each week but this one focusing on kindness might stay up the whole month of August.

This is the TV it's hiding.
Links:
West Wall
Along this wall you will find our alphabet line, grammar wall, whiteboard, computer center, and our center rotation board.

Grammar and Writing
This is our special writing area. It's a great place to have our writing center. It provides a flexible seating option and I can call small groups back there too. The bulletin board above is from my shop. We teach grammar every day and we refer back to this board every day!

Writing Caddy
I have these items accessible for the kids when they need them. This caddie from Target was one of the best finds ever. I wish they would bring them back! If you have one from a few years ago in need of labels, you can get mine for free.
Links:

This is the view over to my north wall. I lost tons of storage moving back into this room but I still have a good amount of cabinetry.

Over at the very left:

Book Display
This book display is one of my favorite additions from last year. I used some Melonheadz clip art along with vinyl and my Cricut to create this. It's usually full of books but in between changes I like to leave it open to build some suspense for the next set of books I put in there. I love that it looks great when it's full and when it's empty.

I often get asked about what kind of Cricut I use and the kind of vinyl that I prefer. Here are the links:

Center Rotations:
My center rotation board is above the computers. I assign each child into a group and rotate the group cards through the centers. This makes it so easy to move them each day! We are required to have objectives up for everything we do. I could not find a center display that had space for the objective/I can statements so I made some that fit our needs. 

I wanted to have lots of space for student work so I created an extra space over here.

North Wall

This is the view from the desks looking over to our north wall.

Paper Organization
These bins are on my counter. I store my week's copies in the daily drawers and copies for future weeks are stored in the subject drawers. If you want more details about these bins, check out THIS post.

Monthly Bins
Another set of bins I like to use are my monthly drawer. I use these instead of a filing cabinet. I did have filing cabinet for years but I realized that it ended up collecting a lot of trash. This system helps me hold on to essential copies and materials I need during these months. It's perfect!

Links:

Centers Storage | Data Door | Desk Fairy 

Center Storage:
I picked up this cubby storage from Target. It's was perfect for my needs! Each bin is labeled so that my kids know what bucket they will need for the day and so that they can put it back in the right spot when they are done. The bins are from the Dollar Tree and the labels are going to be added to my center rotation board this weekend :-) 

Pencils:
I started using this pencil system a few years ago and I will never turn back! If you are someone that doesn't enjoy seeing a bunch of stubby pencils, this system is for you! 

Here is more info about how my pencil system works:
Kids never sharpen pencils and I do not allow pencil sharpeners in my room. I usually have a parent volunteer come in and sharpen pencils once a week or every other week. (They sharpen a lot of them at one time.) Those go into the sharp bin. I load the bottom drawer with new pencils so that my parent volunteer knows where to get the new pencils from. 

When a child needs a new pencil, they raise they hand with their pencil. When I see a pencil in the air, I know that they need to switch it out. If I say yes, they can get up and place their old pencil in the dull drawer and pick up a new one from the sharp drawer. Quick and EASY!

This pencil sharpener is the BEST! It's fast, quiet, and lasts forever. It even has a built in light that turns on when the pencil is sharp.

Links:
Data Door | Desk Fairy
The graphs on our door are a way for us to track whole class assessments. This year I will be tracking spelling and reading assessments. I like tracking these scores so my kids can see the progress that we've made throughout the year.  These graphs are not available yet, but will be posted soon in my shop. 

This desk fairy door had been on my mind for years! I didn't implement it until I found the perfect door on Amazon. A super realistic door is the trick for some magical buy in. 
At the beginning of the year we talk about how to keep our desks clean and organized. Well, I needed some fun reinforcement. In comes the desk fairy! The desk fairy checks our desks here and there and leaves a note and treat for the kids if they have clean desks. She doesn't come too often, just a few times throughout the year, but the kids love her and keep those desks clean for her. I could't believe how much they would grow to love her. My class last year wrote letters to her all the time! She would write back and tell them about her adventures traveling around the world. 

Links:

Back around to the entry way, you will see our bathroom door, clip chart, and the picture display I mentioned before.


This InstaClass poster from Teach Create Motivate is always a hit! It's such a great way to document what we are learning about each month!

Next to our gallery wall is our clip chart. I'm a firm believer of the clip chart, but I do need to mention that I focus on the positives and with that train of thought, my kids rarely clip down.

I found the cutest clips for the clip chart over the summer! They are from the Target Dollar Spot and came on a spool of 24 for just $3! I love the colors they included! (The clips are blank because this picture was taken prior to my kids using them.)
Links:

And we are back to the entry way. 
I hope you enjoyed taking a tour of our classroom! I tried linking all the resources and materials in this post. If I missed anything, please feel free to ask! I hope you all have a fantastic year full of fun memories.

Don't forget to pin this post so you can come back and visit :-) 
Learning in Wonderland Classroom Tour 2017-2018. Lots of great ideas for the primary teacher!



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