Letters from Santa!

This is such a magical time of year...letters TO Santa...letters FROM Santa!! Magic!
It's not too late for your little ones to get a personalized letter from Santa

The last couple of years, I've ordered letters from Santa for my little from Educents, & I have been so pleased with the letters we've gotten! There's always just a little bit extra 'magic' packed in their envelopes. This year's is not exception! It comes in a special, large red envelope.....

inside, your little will find Santa's letter, reindeer food he's sent to be put out on Christmas Eve....AND a recipe for Mrs. Claus' Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies! So exciting.

I really, really like the way that you can personalize these letters: you fill out a document with your child's information (name, etc), AND three accomplishments. Potty training, wonderful job at your dance recital, helping a baby brother, doing great at swim lessons....I LOVE that Santa can specifically address your child's accomplishments! I'm telling you...that really makes the letter all the more magical!
It's not too late to order letters for your littles! You have until Thursday, December  17th to order! Just hop over to Educents, fill in the doc, place your order, & wait for the mail to be delivered!
Happy Christmas to you & yours!

Create More Wall Space!

Welcome to the Bright Ideas Round-Up! If you're looking for a way to maximize wall space in your classroom....I've got a Bright Idea for you!

Wall space is a hot commodity in my room. One wall is half window (yay!), the second is one-fourth SmartBoard (yay, again!), the third is all coat rack...and I completely opened the fourth so what could have been usable wall space is all gone! I desperately needed some additional space to post anchor charts, schedules, and the like.

I had seen this image on Pinterest, & was inspired to give it a try in my room. A quick trip to WalMart to buy the oil drip pan from the automotive department, & Command Strips from the hardware section, & I was in business.

I LOVE the added space that it gives me to post rotation charts, as well as the I Cans and the learning posters and charts that we're working on. If I decide to move it to another space (or heaven forbid...move to a different room! Gasp!)....it's as simple as removing the command strips! Voila!
BONUS!! It's also a dry erase surface!! How cool is that?!

What would you use this extra surface for in YOUR room?

Like this Bright Idea? Follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, & Twitter for more!

Halloween Math FREEBIE

"Halloween is Saturday this year!" And the teachers all shouted, "Yay!"
I'm not gonna lie...Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year...but it does make for a high-energy day in the classroom! Why not join in the holiday madness with a little academics? We made our Fact Family Haunted Houses. LoVeD it!! My kiddos had so much fun & it was a fabulous activity for them academically since we've just been sort of dabbling in multiplication.  Of course, you can also do them with addition!

They turned out super cute! I do have one little pumpkin who does not celebrate Halloween. Easy adjustment...different color for the house, and people instead of ghosts.

Looking for a super fun Halloween activity that's also academic? You can grab the FREEBIE-- just click the cover!

Happy Halloween!

Go Noodle!

Do you Go Noodle? We LOVE Go Noodle!!

Kiddos need to move...they need that physical activity to help them refocus & get those brains ready to take in new information. Not only that, but it really increases engagement, too! That's a big benefit! I love that you can find clips that are just two or three minutes....just enough time to slip in a quick brain break & regroup for the next lesson/activity.

And it fits in perfectly with Daily 5! At the Daily 5 Conference I went to last spring, The Sisters were very clear about providing kiddos with some sort of movement between each rotation: ring the chimes, bring the kiddos up for some kind physical movement, then go into your mini-lesson. My first thought? GoNoodle! 

GoNoodle fits in with D5 so nicely! After the brain break, kiddos are ready to sit down & participate in the mini-lesson. Works perfectly every time! Pop See Ko is an all-time favorite, but we also like Roller Coaster, Maximo (my personal favorite -- calming activities!) and like to be challenged by Cat Man, too! Do you Go Noodle? I'd love hear some of your class favorites!                                                                I actually got to meet Freckles Sinclair & got my very own Go Noodle shirt over the summer! Boy, were my kiddos jealous when they saw the pic! (It's pretty awesome to get to meet celebrities your kiddos love!) 
Do you Go Noodle? I'd love to hear some of your kiddos' favorites! 

Celebrate Differences!

It's a new year....new class.....
It's time to celebrate our differences & start working together as a team! We like to talk about how we are all different...& we love that we are different....but even with our beautiful differences, we are still TEAM.

That came together beautifully this year!
 Creative Teaching Press has these awesomely gorgeous Color Me Apple Cut Outs. I was so excited when I came across them.....3 different designs that my kiddos could design any way they'd like! See what I mean? All different & all beautiful!

I loved that I would be able to visually show them that......and that even though we're all different....we are all an important part of the team (in this case, an apple tree!)

After everyone had designed their apple, we put up a big ol' tree in the hall & added all the apples. Now, we just needed a terrific TEAM quote to tie it all together.....& came across this one:
"Strength lies in differences, not in similarities." ~Stephen Covey

How do you help your kiddos acknowledge & celebrate their individuality and realize that we need those differences in order to become a strong team? I'd love to hear your ideas!!
I'm really happy to be a Creative Teaching Press Exclusive Blogger....they have so many awesome products for the classroom....& teachers are so creative using them! You should stop by Georgia Grown Kiddos & see what Valerie's done with CTP products!
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Back to School Book Favorite! FREEBIE!

One of the first books I read to my class at the beginning of the year is No, David! by David Shannon. We are a PBIS school & focus on positive...believe it or not, No, David! fits right in!
After reading the book, we talk about being positive...about the problems David had & what we could say to David that he COULD do in our classroom.

Each kiddo writes & illustrates a page for our first class book: Yes, David! It's a great way to kind of peer teach & reinforce expectations: "Yes, David! You can walk in the hallway!" "Yes, David! You can raise your hand when you have a question!" It's always fun to read what they write about!

Just click on the pic to the right to download the writing paper from my dropbox. I hope your kiddos enjoy working on their own class book! 

Getting Ready for Kindergarten with Learning Resources

We're having fun this summer with what I'm calling "Piper & Catey School". Can you believe these two little darlings will be starting Kindergarten this fall?! Boy, time flies!

I'd already been planning our little Piper & Catey School when Learning Resources asked me if I'd like to check out one of their new "All Ready for _____" Kits. I love Learning Resources products & quality, so I jumped at the opportunity. We were so excited when the box arrived (can you tell from the picture?).

They've been having tons of fun with everything that's packed into this Readiness Kit...& there's A LOT packed into it! In addition to the Readiness Kit, we also got the correlating game, Picnic Party.
The girls are having so much fun, which makes my heart smile because I know that that's a fundamental step toward learning.

Of course, even though fun is important, you've got to have a solid base in foundational concepts and skills....and those are packed in here, too! (Which also makes my heart smile....because I want these girls to be ready for Kindergarten!) Check this out:

The activities support both Language & Math development, & I like that there are three levels for each activity, so you can move kiddos into the concept gradually....
Ready - a friendly little intro to the concept. If ready is too easy, move on the the next level. Ready seems a little too hard? Let your kiddos play with the materials awhile longer.
Set - move on to this step when your child is solid with the Ready level.
Go! - these activities are just a little more challenging than the Set level.

Here are some of my girls' favorite activities...
Picnic Party - One-to-one Correspondence, Counting, Greater Than/Less Than
My girls love this game! I love the math skills that they're acquiring! Check out all of those math skills that they're working on!

Pile of Leaves, Critter Pile Up, Measure Up!
Red Rover, Line Up!, Buggy Battle
More/Less, Beginning Measurement, Fine Motor Skills
Is it just me, or do kiddos come to you with lower & lower levels of fine motor skills? I really like how Learning Resources has built some fine motor skill practice into many of the activities in this pack. Kiddos have to use the Gator Grabber (otherwise known as fun gator-shaped tweezers) to pick up & move the bugs.

Line Up was a challenge....they had 10 seconds to move a group of matching-color critters to a leaf. Stressful! (not really --- but when you're under the clock.....) The we counted & talked about which leaf had more/less. You know, I'm a teacher..so I already think that way (poor kiddos! haha). Parents will love that directions are laid out explicitly: not just how to play, but also suggestions for conversations.

Shape Up!, Building Bugs, Home Run
Okay --- I'll admit my math teacher heart LOVES how this activity supports the mathematical process standard (I can see how numbers and shapes go together). It's also one of my girls' favorites because, lets. admit it....who doesn't love playing with & manipulating shapes? 
Match Game, Dancing with Letters, Lace-in-Line
There are many more language supporting activities in the kit, but my girls' favorites were any of the ones that used the lacing letters. There's just something fun about manipulating those colorful little letters. And when you get to string them? That's almost like making jewelry! haha

I'm loving how playing these fun activities are getting my girls ready for Kindergarten! Guess what.....Learning Resources has even more kits! If you've got littles, Learning Resources has a Readiness Kit that'll work for them....you may want to take a look at the Ready for Preschool or the Ready for First Grade Kits. 

Periscope! In the Classroom!

Have you heard the buzz about Periscope? It has just blown up in the teaching & blogging world world the last few weeks. If you haven't heard, Periscope is an app that streams live video. It's connected to Twitter, so if you're already on Twitter, you'll be able to feed your live video directly through Twitter. You also can broadcast and view live videos just on Periscope. My sweet friends Angie & Ashley have great blog posts about how to get started on Periscope and 25 Periscope Must Knows. Make sure you follow them both...they'll be posting lots more great content & tutorials about the app.

Periscope has proven to be a powerful tool: it's been a terrific way for teachers to connect, collaborate, & network. It's a wonderful way for us to be able to share in real time how to do something, specific tips or ideas. I feel like it's almost a way to get some fantastic PD! Just a few hours ago, Hope King (Elementary Shenanigans) was sharing how she uses music to engage students. In real time, peeps! How cool is that!?

Even cOOler?! Periscope is going to be just as powerful, if not more, in the classroom! I'd already taken note of how Kayla Delzer over at Top Dog Teaching has her kiddos tweeting on their class Twitter account. Love it! Periscope is going to make tweeting even more amazing! If you have any more ideas to add to this list, please let me know in the comments!

Before we dive into the awesome-ness of using Periscope in the classroom, let's talk about safety & privacy. If you've been on Periscope, you know we've had to block commenters a few times. Yeah...that cannot happen in our classrooms. We can still use the app in the classroom with a few safeguards:

        • Set up a seperate account just for your classroom
        • ONLY allow parents to follow
        • Turn off the location when you broadcast
        • ONLY allow comments from followers

1. Broadcast Games/Activities from the Classroom
How cool is this? "Today, we're playing a game called Mama Mia. We've been learning about equivalent fractions.....this is a great way for us to practice". Or just record their conversation as they work on a task. Imagine parents being able to take a peek into what their child is doing in the classroom via Periscope! Amazing...right?

2. Broadcast Presentations

A little caveat here -- I am not completely comfortable with kiddos broadcasting their faces....but you can broadcast a lovely presentation just by focusing on the artifacts being used: posters, models, manipulatives, etc. Even without faces, still a powerful way to both let kiddos share their learning & offer parents a glimpse into the classroom!

3. Broadcast Performances

Easy to get around the no faces issue with this one...most performances either require or use MASKS! Boom. Done. And think how dynamic this app is going to be for parents! An easy download on their smart phones & they'll be able to watch readers' theatres and plays right from their phones. Video stays live on Periscope for 24 hours, so parents can view broadcasts as they have time.

4. Create a Gallery

Working on a special art project? Kiddos can set up a gallery & broadcast live. In my classroom, we do lots of 'museum' type projects where kiddos set up displays & we invite other classrooms in. With Periscope, we can also broadcast our museum! Think about the speaking & listening skills we'll be developing & polishing!

5. Virtual Visits

Speaking of museums....how many times have you thought to yourself, "I'd love if my kids could see this?" Maybe you were at an event in your community, or a museum in the next town, or even just speaking to someone who has information you'd love your kiddos to hear. As long as you're going to be with your class in the next 24 hours, you can broadcast your visit or your conversation & then view it with your kiddos. Powerful? Yes!

6. Help with Homework

Record yourself running through an especially difficult problem, or perhaps even just explaining the assignment. Or better yet....have your kiddos record them! Families will be able to access the help over the next 24 hours. (No more "I didn't know what I was supposed to do"). My classroom is about 50% ESL...often, parents aren't able to help with reading the directions. A quick view of the broadcast should be enough for the child to remember what the task is supposed to be.

7. Conduct a Survey

LOVE this real life application for math! You know those assignments in math in which kiddos are supposed to ask others in the classroom their favorite snack or favorite animal? How super awesome would it be to have your kiddos Periscope the survey out? And parents (or even grandparents) can respond?! Wow. I can't even imagine how motivating that would be! They could even broadcast the data after it's all compiled! Personally, I can't wait to do this one!

8. Deliver the News

Got news to share? Event coming up? Need to send out a reminder for something to be turned in? Kiddos can deliver the news! Imagine how excited your kiddos will be to deliver their own newscast?! That's some real world writing application right there, peeps! Not only that....excellent speaking & listening skill building opps, too! (Pssst! Again - this is easy to accomplish without kiddos having to record faces...signs & pics will work perfectly!)

Interested in more ways to use Periscope in the classroom? Make sure you're following me (@fradyb1).....there are more to come! 
Enjoy this bright idea? Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, too for more great ideas!
For more bright ideas from other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting! 

Daily 5- What Do I Need to Get Started?

Welcome to Chapter 4! Are you loving Daily 5 so far? Ready to give it a try in your classroom, but wondering what you need to get it all started? Well this chapter is for you!

It's surprisingly simple. (I say that because I previously thought I would need to revamp the whole way I was doing things, but that's not so!) Here's what you need:

Quiet Signal - Chimes
In the last chapter, we talked about how a quiet signal is less obtrusive that a loud timer going off, or yelling loudly telling your kiddos it's time to move to the meeting area. Here's another reason for using a quiet signal: let's save our voices for instruction rather than management.

Chart Rack/Interactive Whiteboard
Covered...right? We're going to need a place to create those I-charts of expected behaviors. Done.

Tools, Not Toys
In other words: fidgets. Some kiddos are going to need extra support to build their stamina. That's where the tools, not toys come in. I bet you're already thinking of some of the things you can use for those tools. In fact, I bet you have some in your classroom or even at home:
  • Sand timers
  • Pattern blocks
  • Legos
  • Stopwatches for older kiddos
  • I Spy books, or World Record books
Book Boxes
Kiddos are going to need a place to house their books so the books are at their disposal. Each of your kiddos will need her own box. A note about the beginning of the year: take some time before the first day to fill book boxes (or bags) with a variety of books. During that important training time at the beginning, kiddos are going to need enough books to keep them engaged.

A Gathering Place & Focus Lessons
The most important components. You're going to need a space in your room large enough for your entire class to gather on the floor. Not a person who like to teach with your kiddos pulled into a meeting area? There are very good reasons to teach whole group in a meeting area:

  1. takes care of behavior management with proximity
  2. enhance deeper thinking with accountable talk with partners
  3. eliminate distractions (what's in my desk?)
I-Charts are an important part of Teaching & Learning Independence. You know those I-Charts you create when you teach the expectations for each of the tasks? You're going to need to keep those posted in the room. That's something that I need to work hard at. I tend to not want to keep them up all year. But kiddos (& teachers) need to be able to refer to that visible learning. "Disposing of it would [be] throwing away a connection to prior thinking and learning." Yikes! I've really got to fight the urge to take them down & replace with something else. I'll need to think where we can post all of the charts will be making!

Classroom Design
Does my classroom need a special design to be able to do D5? Not really...but there are some things to think about when designing your room. You'll want functional spaces for kiddos to do the work that's part of D5: spaces for Read to Self, Read to Someone, Work on Writing, Word Work. Desks & chairs aren't always the best places to do that work. Do you have spaces planned where kiddos can work on the floor, while standing, comfy chairs or even a love seat? How about area rugs for sprawling? Make certain you are planning different types of work areas for all the important work that's going to be happening in your classroom!

I'd love to help you get started with some of the things you'll be needing to launch D5 in your classroom! How about a fab prize pack filled with goodies?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Shark Week! Let's Hop!

It's SharkWeek! One of the most interesting weeks of the year..right? 
I always think to myself, "It's too bad Shark Week doesn't happen during the school year." Imagine how engaged kiddos would be during that week.....we could do shark everything! Of course, we won't let the fact that Shark Week happens in the summer stop us from engaging our kiddos with
awesome shark-themed activities, will we?

I've been working on some writing tasks for my kiddos over the summer. One of the skills we really tried to hit hard was citing evidence from the text in written responses. I've discovered that with practice, they were awesome at locating the evidence...but when it came to using that evidence within a written response, that was a different story. 

This activity guides my primary kiddos through the process. They highlight evidence, then use that evidence to write a response to a question. I've built in supports with sentence starters so that they can learn/practice the framework of a good response. I'm really excited about the difference this will make for my kiddos written text responses, & I hope you enjoy using this in your classroom, too! Just click the image to grab your copy. 
Make sure you click on the button below to head on over to Crayonbox Learning & snag another shark-tastic freebie!

Classroom Improvements #2getherwearebetter

I've been thinking about the tweaks I want to do in my classroom since the last couple weeks of school. I'm excited to be joining with my sweet friends Angie & Ashley for the month's #2getherwearbetter. I'm really looking forward to reading about everyone's ideas for improving their classrooms......you really get some great ideas that way! Here's what I've been thinking....

#1 Move Completely to Daily 5
You've probably already heard me say my school sent me to a D5 training with The Sisters in April & I fell in LOVE! Seriously...came back & started putting it into action the next day! I'm really looking forward to starting it up right from the beginning of the year! For anyone thinking about looking into it...it really is what we're already doing...just put into a framework that makes everything easier. I'm hosting a book study on the 2nd edition. Click the link to check it out a little closer. I promise you'll
love the framework!

#2 Daily 3 Math
Starting out with Daily 3 Math, too! I'm a HUGE fan of Guided Math & I don't think I'll ever stray
from that because it works so well for kiddos...but the structure of Daily 3 works so well as the management piece for the workstations kiddos are doing while I'm with a small group. It really takes away the need for figuring out who's going where when, creating rotation charts, & all of that. It just makes sense & streamlines all of that. I actually do more like a Daily 4. The Sisters' Daily 3 consists of Math by Myself, Math with a Partner, & Math Writing. I'm also adding Math with a Group. I'm also a firm believer in the power of games in instruction, so we'll be keeping that important part of our math instruction.

#3 Tweaking my Color Scheme
Love my Dots on Turquiose, but I'm ready for a a bit of change. You can see in the picture about that I currently pair the Paisley Border with Stitches & Stripes. Luckily, Creative Teaching Press has developed a wide range of products that all interchange & coordinate with each other, so tweaking it is easy! It all had to come down for some construction that's going on in my room, so it's a perfect time to change it up. I'm just adding a hint of lime green & keeping my paisley. Here's what's going up in the room...Playful Paisley & HexaFun Lime Green Mini Hexagons Border.

#5 New Room Design
Jury's still out on this one, but I have a blank slate to work with! I had to go in last week to pick up a book & I took a panoramic of my room as it looks currently....ScArY!
 Everything had to be taken out of my room for the construction, & there will be some small changes (a portion of the wall will be gone, old HVAC unit removed, & built-in shelves in its place). I'm not sure where I'm going to put everything yet, but I've got some great ideas! Stay tuned!

I'm off to check out what everyone else is working on tweaking for next year. Love gathering ideas!