Stay Healthy In & Out of the Classroom

Ugh...during the month of December, what started as a pretty mean sinus infection segued into a bout of pneumonia. I felt like I was functioning in survival mode for the entire month...& ended up having to be out of my classroom for SIX days right before Christmas break. December was kind of a bust....the holidays happened. That's about all I can say about that. haha!

During the last two weeks of school, 25% of my kiddos were also out sick. Notice a pattern? Yeah....for all of our sakes, it's time to pay attention to staying healthy in & out of the classroom. I scoured the internet, & asked real teachers for their own tips & tricks....

1. Stock up on antibacterial wipes, Lysol, & even latex gloves. Make sure to check your district's policy on antibacterail wipes & hand sanitizer. Consider sending home a note asking for donations from families!
2. Declutter! It's much easier to wipe down a clear surface.
3. Lysol all tables, desks, & surfaces daily. Don't forget doorknobs, faucet handles, or cabinet handles!
4. Wipe down computer keyboards, headphones, & telephone with antibacterial wipes. Wear latex gloves when using antibacterial wipes...the solution can soak into your skin & kills the good along with the bad bacteria. Your body needs the good bacteria to fight off illness.
5. Use latex gloves when cleaning areas in your classroom....especially areas like student desks or workstations.
6. Place tissues & hand sanitizer in multiple places around the room, near trash cans, for easy access for your students' use.

1. Never use the same tissues as your students. Keep the community tissue box away from your desk. Put it in another area so that coughs & sneezes don't land in your area. Establish
2. Never use students' pencils, crayons, or scissors. Consider wearing an apron in which to store your supplies, or purchasing a lanyard pen.
3. Don't allow students to use YOUR materials. Your scissors, pens, markers, & dry erase markers should be OFF LIMITS to students. Keep a basket of dry erase markers near your easel or whiteboard for student use (just make sure to routinely disinfect these!)
4. Never touch your face during the school day. Don't rub your eyes, scratch your nose, etc. It's a hard habit to break...but so important to do!
5. Make sure to keep your water bottle or cup away from student areas. Don't bring it with you to your small group table where kiddos may cough near it!
6. Wear latex gloves when sharpening student pencils.

1. Teach kiddos to cough or sneeze in their elbows instead of their hands. The material will stop the spread of droplets, which contain germs. Since the inside of the elbow rarely touches other surfaces, the likelihood of spreading germs is greatly reduced. By the way...did you know that research shows when someone coughs or sneezes in their hands, germs can live on the palms for UP TO 3 HOURS?!
2. Modify morning greetings so that kiddos aren't shaking hands. Maybe a fist bump or a silly elbow shake?
3. Teach kiddos to keep their hands away from their nose, eyes, or mouths. When you notice a child touching his/her face, give a gentle reminder, & have him/her go wash their hands.
4. Make it a habit to have kiddos wash their hands any time they enter the room. Kiddos are exposed to a wide variety of items that have been touched by others in playgrounds, cafeterias, gym class, & other common areas.

1. Wash your hands often. Hand sanitizer will kill bacteria...but does nothing against viruses. A good old hand washing with soap & water will wash away viruses.
2. Wash your hands & arms up to your elbows with hot water & soap as soon as you get home. This will prevent you from bringing home germs that will make your family sick.
3. Change your clothes as soon as you get home so you don't spread germs from school around your home.
4. Drink plenty of water daily. Staying hydrated is crucial to your health. Just make sure to keep your water away from areas where it could be exposed to germs from coughs or sneezes.
5. Get plenty of rest! Getting enough sleep each night helps your body fight off those germs & viruses.
6. Consider getting a flu shot each year.
7. Take a good daily multi-vitamin.
8. Consider looking into essential oils. Many teachers swear by them & diffuse them in their classrooms and homes every day.

Any other tips or tricks? I'd love to hear them!!

I mustache you know about Movember?

Raise your hand if you already knew about Movember. (Seriously - leave a comment below!).
If your hand didn't go's some brief info about the Movember movement. Movember is an annual event involving the growing of mustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men's health issues like prostate or testicular cancer. The goal of Movember is to
"change the face of mens' health".

I'm super excited to partner up with Creative Teaching Press to raise awareness of Movember in the teaching world since Movember is an awareness initiative that hits very close to home for my family. My dad was a victim of prostate cancer and lost his battle with the disease five years ago. Prostate issues are often something that mean ignore - not seeking medical attention until the disease had progressed. By the time my dad spoke to his doctor about the issue, he was already at Stage 3. 
It's so important that men (& their families) be aware of their risks of these diseases --- one of the reasons I believe Movember is so important! 

My brother, husband, & son participate in Movember each year. In addition to growing mustaches to raise awareness, participants can participate on the Movember website to raise money for the cause. Take a look at this video that my brother (who works for Redbull) created for more information. Just click on the pic below to watch the video. And please share with your male family members & friends! 

Like I said, I was super excited to learn that Creative Teaching Press wanted to help raise awareness about Movember & men's health. As you can tell from the pics of my family...we've been having some fun using them to help promote Movember! We'll be posting more on social media all through the month. And look at all the goodies CTP sent me to help with the effort! 

Would you like to win a similar pack of fan'stache'stic CTP stuff??!
Just start entering down in that little rafflecopter & cross your fingers!!

Colorize Your Classroom! #colorizeyourclassroom

Ever wonder why many restaurants use the color red? Why many medical offices are green or blue?
Color theory and research tells us that that the color red heightens the sense of smell and stimulates appetite. Blue and green are calming....the reason why medical facilities use those colors.  Color has the ability to impact student attention, behavior, and

I've always been interested in color theory, and definitely keep it in mind when I plan out my classroom decor every year (It's a nice light blue.....I'm going for calming! lol). I hadn't really considered the impact the color of materials/supplies might have, though. But doesn't it make sense that if the color of the environment makes an impact, the color of the papers they use would too? AND - don't forget about the impact color has on adults, too. The colors you use for newsletters, notes home, etc. also makes a difference. I'm excited to partner up with Neenah and Astrobrights Paper and colorize my classroom! Who knew paper even came in so many gorgeous colors?!

I welcomed families back to school with this awesome flip book. It has all the important information families need to know. I used bright colors because I wanted families to notice those sections specifically. Notice how the Remind 101 is red? I really, really wanted families to see that & get signed up. I also specifically put the Homework tab in pink so that it would stand out as well. Another plus for using the bright colors? It's easier to locate! It'll definitely be easier for families to find once they get it home!

Look how engaging this interactive notebook page is! My kiddos were excited just to get them to add their notebooks! (How easy was that?!) Seriously. That's all it takes?! Just give them materials on some gorgeous papers and they are all about it! Happy! Happy! All around!

Not only were they excited to create the page in their interactive notebooks...they were equally as excited to USE it! That's a definite win-win!

We used yellow for these pages in their language arts notebooks. They're loving getting to use some beautiful colors, and I'm loving how excited they get about just doing the activities! It's amazing how much using color impacts my classroom.  Have you noticed the same thing? I'd love to hear how you use color in your classroom......keep the ideas coming!

Have you heard? Neenah & Astrobrights paper is actually doing a Colorize Your Classroom campaign. One winner from each state will win a set of Astrobright papers...& ONE lucky person is going to get a classroom sponsorship from Astrobrights!! Click on the graphic below to head over & find out more about it!

Set Up a Classroom FAST!!

 So -- my daughter finished her degree/certification in May and went on the job hunt. After a stressful, grueling (you know the feeling...right?) summer and a rather intense interview process.....

hApPy! HaPpY! OFF THE CHARTS EXCITED!  But the kicker? 
First day of school is only NINE DAYS AWAY!! EEK!

It happens a lot, though...doesn't it? Lots of times, people get jobs just days or even THE day before school starts. Heck....this year, my school actually hired two people AFTER the first day! Talk about whirlwind...right?! You've got to get the room set up, get your procedures in place, and don't forget the most important thing.....get your plans ready!!

The room needs to go up and go up FAST so you can get focused on those procedures and plans! We turned to our friend, Creative Teaching Press. They have complete & extensive collections of beautiful designer decor pieces for classrooms. It's like an awesome one-stop-shop for everything you need to get your classroom set up. If you know me, you know I LOVE my Dots on Turquoise...but Jenna chose the Black & White Collection for her room. She paired it with purple and I have to admit that I love the clean, crisp look!

Fabric on the bulletin board & the border goes up.

I love the look of the layered borders! It looks great with purple, but it would look great with just about ANY color!

She put the calendar and the math focus wall up in front beside the interactive white board. I'm a big fan of the bright, bold colors! Can you see the edge of the birthday wall over on the right? Love that big blue paisley cupcake! Jenna did something I need to do...She used the jumbo library pockets to store the calendar pieces right by the calendar. (I put all of mine in my flat file...then can't find them when I need them!).

Of course, you've got to have a goals & objectives wall.
And student self-assessment is oh-so-important. She used Adventures in Room 129's self assessment board. How cool is this?! (And how gorgeous is that border?!).

Awesome that the collections have so many coordinating pieces! It takes all the guess work out of making those decisions when you're standing in that teacher supply store! Here's her alphabet headers for her word wall, for instance. We just glued the graphics on Creative Teaching Press's Designer Cut Outs. Just gorgeous!

Of course, you need a job chart....
Check out those flowers to the right. The teacher before her had these neat sunflowers by the closet door and outside her classroom door. Jenna decided why not keep the vinyl up there and use the sunflower stems as the stems to her Black & White Jumbo Flower Cut Outs? Neat..right?! 

There were also vinyl flowers in vases up above the cabinets. The smaller BW Flower Cut Outs work there perfectly! Isn't that adorable?

And speaking of those flower cut outs...I love this little tweak. There was this empty VCR shelf under the mounted TV. Kind of an eyesore, really...but definitely distracting. Jenna bundled up some silk leaf garland and tucked in a few of those flower cut outs to help it blend in a bit. Super cute....right?!

We got this room set up & ready to roll in just TWO days...and that was just working on it 3ish hours each day! The designer decor sets and all the coordinating pieces make it SO easy to get your classroom set up quickly, easily, & beautifully!! Seriously. New teacher...right out of the gate...TWO DAYS! Gotta love Creative Teaching Press! She felt so relieved to get that part taken care of so she could focus on setting her procedures and start working on those PLANS!

I did tweak a few things just for her classroom to fit her color scheme. She has the Calendar Math Pack in purple & black...we also re-did the Classroom Number Line Posters in black & white. And, of course, the Animal Word Wall headers are there, too. 

Shark Week! FINtastic freebies!

EEeeeeek! It's Shark Week!!
Are you ready for some FINtastic freebies?!
All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love!

One way I help my kiddos get excited about learning is using games & fun activities in the classroom. I am a true believer in the power of games in learning. Honestly, sometimes it's almost like kiddos learn in spite of themselves! HA! They are so engaged, are so focused on winning....while they're strategizing they're really internalizing concepts. Look at that smart thinking over there on the right! Check out those combinations they've put together to make a yard! And the big plus...they're so engaged!

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My Shark Week freebie is a shark themed I Spy. I've had LOTS of people ask me to make these for subtraction, and this is my first one! If you haven't tried one of my I Spy's yet, you are in for a treat! They're perfect for workstations and really are print & go! Just add magnifying lenses & kids! Kiddos LOVE these....they use the magnifying lenses to search for subtraction equations. One the recording sheet, they have to tally the differences they find, then turn the data from the tally chart into a bar graph. I love that they're getting a little boost in creating tally charts, graphs, and interpreting data.

Click HERE to try it out!

Make sure you swim all the way through the linky party below. Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a FINtastic freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, August 17th  : )

Back to School Setting Up

Whew! Does anyone else have the B2S Stress?! I'm really feeling it here! My first teacher day & our Meet the Teacher Night is Thursday and school starts with kiddos on Monday! On top of son is getting married on Saturday (SO excited!!), & my daughter also is getting her very first classroom ready, so I've been helping her with that (bulletin boards went up tonight). That's her over there on the left.

Her color scheme is going to be different from mine, so I've been updating a couple of my 'gotta have it in my room' packs for her. Hopefully, I'll get them all uploaded by Tuesday afternoon, but I wanted to share some of the progress with you. Here are the 'gotta have its'.....

Calendar Math Pack. This one product has made a HUGE impact on my kiddos' learning over the past couple years. I developed this pack after reading Laney Sammons' first Guided Math Book. As she suggested,  I took a look at the Common Core Standards & thought about the skills my kiddos typically struggle with or need more practice in. Wow! Was she ever right! It's definitely a gotta have it for any classroom in my opinion! You can read more about it in my original post.

I wanted people to be able to match the focus wall with the room decor, so I the pack has lots of color options in it as you can see in the picture below.

But it doesn't have the colors she's using, so I've been working on a new pack. What do you think?

I'm also working on a brand new Classroom Number Posters Set for her room. Right now, I have Gingham & Pastel and Turquoise, Lime & Pink in my store. The new set is Purple & Black. It's going to be super cute! 

Of course, it's not all about classroom decor! We're also printing out some super easy to prep activities for her (& me!) to use those first few days. My kiddos always LOVE doing these I Spys....I love that they're learning, working on fluency, AND on graphing skills! I also love that you just have to print, grab some magnifying lenses, and you're ready to go! Over the summer, I bundled them all up so that they're more economical to buyers, too. And they're an especially good deal right now, because I am going to be adding to each of these bundles...and when I do, the price WILL go up! If you buy now, it's like getting all the additional packs FREE - you'll just have to download when the new ones are added!

Play = a Brain-Friendly Classroom

I love, love, LOVE this book! Silly Sports & Goofy Games by Dr. Spencer Kagan. Like most of you, I realize that play is important to kiddos. Sure it's important for kiddos' physical's also important for the brain and learning!

Here's the nitty-gritty: "As students play, even if it is only for a two or three minute game of quick tag, their heart rates and volumes increase, pumping more oxygen and glucose to the brain. Their respiratory rates and volumes increase as well, oxygenating the blood. With more oxygen and glucose pumped to the brain, students are more alert. Thus, Silly Sports & Goofy Games actually nourish the brain, aligning our classroom practices with how the brain learns best."

How awesome is that?! I had already planned on using lots of the games in the book in my classroom. My teamie & I have noticed that kiddos really just don't know how to play. When we go out at recess...out kiddos mostly swing or play chase. We actually are having a CAMP IN with our class tomorrow (yep-- roasting hotdogs, making s'mores, lots of fun stuff, and actually sleeping in the gym!), and are planning to teach them how to play some games so that they have a repertoire to pull from when they go to recess. BUT - now that I realize the benefits I'm actively trying to think of how I can build games into our day!

If you've read my blog, you know that I teach a 1, 2, & 3 Multi-age classroom...and I also team teach, so what we've really got going on is 54 kids -- 2 teachers. We really focus a great deal on being a TEAM - what it means, what it looks like, what it feels like. We try to do lots of team-building activities, which is what drew me to this book in the first place.

I really, really like that the games in the book are all divided into sections according to what skills they help kiddos develop. How cool is that?
You can actually take into consideration the skill your kiddos need to work on, & find a game that supports that!

So -- here are 5 ways to use play to create a brain-friendly classroom.

  1. Teach games to students so they have a 'toolbox' to pull from when out at recess.
  2. Use games that foster balance, coordination, & challenge when students aren't working well together.
  3. Provide some 'comic relief' by playing a couple rounds of tag, or some Goofy Games when the class has been working on a challenging activity.
  4. Some kiddos have too much emphasis on winning? Try some Silly Sports to emphasize the joy of play & deemphasize the outcome.
  5. Pull kiddos up out of their seat with a helper game to build empathy, caring, & mutual support.

We've had a lot of fun practicing the games here at home (so I know how to play by tomorrow night!)