So excited!

I have a random sort of post for you today, but I can’t help myself – I just have to share!

Today I had new tables arrive for my classroom!

Now, my old tables were big, round and the spacing between the legs was terrible when I had to sit 5 or more kids on each one. Everyone was just a bit too cramped.

Slide1

I’ve had those old tables for 5 years and nearly got rid of them 2 and a half years ago before they ended up in my room again (and people, there were tears when they reappeared – they’re just not Prep friendly!).

And now…

ClassDesks

Now I have fun-coloured desks that work well in a pod and can be separated, too!

The kiddos were very disappointed they didn’t get to help unstack them this morning (when they arrived), but I promised they would be set up for tomorrow morning and they are!

If you could see me now you would see me bouncing up and down like an idiot! ❤

What’s your favourite piece of classroom furniture?

Sig_NewBlog2014

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Another peak in the classroom!

Hello, friends!

Today was my first day back for 2014 – a student-free day while the staff had meetings during the day. It was busy, but I did manage to get my Word Wall up today, which is very exciting.

I have an entire wall of pinboards at the back of my room – dubbed the Rainbow Wall because I covered it in different lengths of coloured cotton. This year I have decided to section off parts of it for permanent displays like a word wall and a Maths Focus Wall. (The maths wall hasn’t been finished yet – hopefully a job for tomorrow!)

However, the Word Wall is good to go and I wanted to share it because I’ve never (please contain your gasps of horror!) had a traditional word wall before.

WordWall

It’s quite large, but I figured if I was going to use it effectively, it needed to be large enough for my kiddos to use and find words easily.

At my school we use the Magic 100 Words program and I used all 200 words from this high frequency word program to add to the wall (because I have some Grade 1s this year who are working into the second hundred group of words). Each word is attached to a colour level, and I’ve copied the words onto corresponding colours.

Do you use a word wall? What’s your favourite activity for your word wall?

Sig-StefanieSun

P.S. Don’t forget about the awesome deal on Writing materials for K-2 classrooms on Educents! Click the link below to check out the day’s awesome deals!

TheWriteStuff

New School Year

I have one more day left of Summer Break before returning to work for the 2014 school year (Jan-Dec). 2 student free days, then my Grade 1s return on Thursday and the Preps commence on Friday for a half day.

Life’s about to get REALLY busy!

I’ve spent a bit of time in my classroom, preparing it for the new year. It’s not completely finished (I’ll have some late nights Tues/Weds finishing it up), but I’m getting there. I thought I’d share some photos. I’m still in the same classroom, so no moving around for me, but I do like to change things up each year.

2014_firstdaysign

This is (one of) my photo booth signs for the first day of school – the Grade 1 dates are in because they start back first. I’ll switch it out on Friday for the Preps. I’ll also probably take out the glass in the frame for the photos so I don’t get the glare.

2014_takehomereaders

This is the table by the door to the classroom – my reading groups will have a Very Hungry Caterpillar theme this year (can you tell?). Our take-home reader boxes will go here, plus the kiddos blue communication folders. I have some charts to track reading that will also be on display.

2014_CAFE

The black tubs underneath the big board are for all our workbooks (which we’ll keep communally this year) and the pinboard (doesn’t it look pretty!) will become our CAFE board this year. I don’t run Daily 5, but I am going to try and get better at consistently and explicitly teaching reading strategies this year. It’s a movable board because none of my permanent board space is near the front of the room where I teach Guided Reading. This was I can always have the board handy! (More pics to come when I finish setting it up!)

2014_wetday

Remember my post on Wet Days inside? Here are my little rainclouds (cute clipart by Graphics from the Pond) stuck on containers the kiddos are allowed to access. There’s about 12 different tubs all around the room!

2014_tables

3 (out of 4) class tables and the rainbow wall! The green and blue panels will be my Maths Focus wall. The bottom half of the pink/green/purple panels will be my Word Wall and the rest of the space will be used for student work.

2014_chalk

This chalkboard (given to me by my sister and her partner) hangs near the door. I decided to use it as a permanent notice board this year, even attempting my first chalk art! It’s only simple, but I like it. Now I can add last minute notices on it in the morning for parents. Plus, I also have a hanging pocket chart underneath it now, to hold spare notices and newsletters.

2014_pencils

My pencil tubs for the tables this year. I got these art caddies from Kmart. They’re really easy to pick up and move around.

2014_calendar

Another work in progress space. This is just above my teacher-computer station. My brand new calendar pocket chart! I’ll change up the theme of the cards each term, and I’m in the process of making some special event cards as well! Underneath I will add a ‘Days of School’ counting chart!

2014_writingwall

My new Writing display board. Using the Writing Center Starter Kit by A Cupcake for the Teacher and the awesome giant pencil from The Teacher Wife. I’ve also got a blank display chart hanging to block out space for our anchor charts. (I’m going to have the same space blocked out on my maths wall, too!) This way I can just clip up new charts and have everything in the one spot!

2014_IWB

My IWB, guided reading materials and seasonal book display. The carpet blocks out the space and is nice and bright and colourful!

2014_reading

Sorry about the lighting in this photo! This is my reading corner – one chair, two beanbags, a car mat and a whole host of classroom reading buddies! And BEYOND that you can see my classroom’s deck – which is huge and I am going to make a diligent effort to use this as a learning space more often this year. After all, who doesn’t love working outside!

And finally, here’s a few pics of my books. They’re a bit messy (forgive!) after last year, but I’ll get to them soon!

2014_books1

2014_books2

WOW! What a long post! ❤

Don’t forget, Educents has a fantastic Writing Bundle up for purchase for the next 12 days. PLUS, for this weekend only you can get 10% off all purchases using the sale code SALE10 at checkout! Click the picture below to check it out!

EducentsDiscount

What have you been up to this weekend?

 

What’s Been Happening?

It’s been positively AGES since I posted. At least, it feels like it anyway.

So, today I’m going to share with you a whole lot of things that have been happening over the last few weeks. Those of you who follow me on Facebook/Pinterest/Instagram have probably seen most of these already (but I’ll explain some, too!).

I apologise in advance for the load of pictures!

Ages ago I watched Mr. Greg’s video tutorial for making glue sponges, and made up one for each table in my classroom over the school holidays. Last week my Little Smarties used them for the first time. Oh, my goodness – can anyone say FANTASTIC idea?!

They’re such a hit, and my tables have been glue-free all week long!

Our school runs a play-based learning program (Investigations) three times a week for our Prep students. This semester I’ve been put in charge of the dramatic play and sensory activities (woohoo!) and my first dramatic play space to set-up was the Post Office. Take a look at my fabulous post office box! I’m very proud of it. One, repurposed cardboard box (and a few other box bits), some spray paint and a printed label and it’s all good to go.

I also added old stamps that my Mum was clearing out so kids could put REAL stamps on their postcards and letters, plus I found processing stamps for the kids to process the letters at the post office. All the classes decorated their own letter box and kids get to deliver them each day.

(You may see more dramatic play space set-up photos in the future. You have been forewarned!)

These are my new table names, made out of IKEA free-standing picture frames and decorated with washi tape!

One side has the table name – Pancakes, Lollipops, Cupcakes and Ice-Creams – and the other side has work options for early finishers!

If anyone’s interested in these signs, let me know and I’ll upload them for people.

So, I have a bit of a shopping habit. I’ve mentioned this before.

Anyway, I found those awesome notepads above – little laptop screens and keyboards – for only 83c from Target (which, if you’re from Australia, you’ll know Target RARELY sells anything for $1 or less!). I bought ten a few packets of them!

Then I spotted a boxset of Star Wars readers – 20 for $50. Since I would normally have to pay about $8-$10 for one, this was a bargain. Now the Little Smarties can not complain about not having enough Star Wars readers! (It doesn’t hurt that I’m a big Star Wars fan, too!)

Shopping habit. See? (Sadly, this is only the most RECENT arrivals… I have more incoming!)

I’m on a bit of a dice kick at the moment. Absolutely loving them. Found the clear dice at the local dollar-type store (5 for $2.50) – they’re about twice the size of a normal dice and very cool. Plus, the lovely Alison from Teaching Maths with Meaning kindly collected some Alphabet dice for me while she was in the U.S. recently.

And I’ve been inspired by the recent book studies going on, so I’m eager to get started on Talking, Drawing, Writing and The Next Step in Guided Reading. I’m also collecting fairytale alternatives for Term 4’s unit.

I’m also hard at work getting these two activity packs ready to upload onto TpT and TeachersNotebook.

There may be some giveaways going on later this week. Stay tuned folks!

Finally…

Wow, if you’ve made it to the end, I’m SO impressed!

On a completely un-related to school note: a friend of mine is raising the starting funds for his film writing debut (The Blind Truth). It would be awesome if you could stop by, have a read, and consider helping out!

Enjoy your weekend, my friends!

Five for Friday

… on my Saturday!

I’m sneaking this post in before I go get my nails done (yay!) and before I attempt to write out at least 8 mid-year reports this afternoon. I’m setting myself the goal so that my reports are done by the end of next week. Because our school has a crazy report-writing timetable.

Also because I won’t be home on Sunday to write any, being Mother’s Day and I intend to spend the day with my Mum!

So… on with the show!

#1

I tried my hand at colouring pasta. It started with a vision (see below) and I spent a good hour making a mess and making beautifully coloured pasta for the classroom!

#2

My vision – rainbows for ‘r’ week!

My 7 preps (plus 2 Grade 1s) made beautiful coloured pasta rainbows, while the 12 remaining Grade 1s made beautiful torn paper collage rainbows!

They were quite a hit with the kids (and the staff!).

They’re currently up on display in the room, and I’ll need to take  a photo once the display is complete!

#3

A selfie… although this one has become my new image for everything – Pinterest, Facebook, blogs, Google, etc.

We had ‘R’ is for Red Day (also rubbish-free lunch day!) and I bravely wore bright red lipstick to school. Lol! I also rocked a sparkly-red Transformer t-shirt that was a hit with some of my little friends. (What you can’t see are my red skinny jeans as well!)

#4

We made rock pets to celebrate ‘R’ week yesterday.

We had such a crazy, messed-up week, that craft options were preferable to my survival until the weekend. 😉

#5

We also took home our cress-head friends.

The Little Smarties were very excited to watch the seeds grow and change over the week. Many of them referred to it as their jungle or rainforest, which was so cute.

Now I’m off to (re-)print my activities for next week before I run out the door!

Have a lovely weekend! xx

Five for Friday

Does anyone else feel like their constantly treading water just to keep their head above the waterline?

Today was such a strange week, and I’m sort of confused as to what I’ve achieved, what I haven’t achieved and what I need to do. It’s very bizarre.

But, anyway, on to my Five for Friday:

5. Saturday day (and night) was spent laminating and cutting out signs and activities for the week. (Typically, I didn’t even get to the activities that I laminated. Can’t wait to use them, though – they’re a great set of pop-stick bundling activities by From the Pond!)

4. One of my very best friends is only a few weeks away from welcoming her first child into the world and we had celebrated at her baby shower on Sunday. Lots of great food, great company, and lots of baby stuff. My favourite part was decorating a onesie for the baby (see below) and giving lots and lots of gifts. (And I even guessed, within a centimetre, the width of my bestie’s tummy! Sadly I kept imagining a meter ruler and whether or not it would wrap around her – such a teacher!) Also… don’t you love the Minnie Mouse outfit! I saw it when I was in Disneyland and HAD to buy it (and a little Minnie Mouse plush) for baby!

3. I made these games 6 months ago after spotting something similar on Pinterest or a blog(can’t remember where, sorry!) and have had them sitting in my office for the entire six months! Finally bound them the other day and am ready to put them into maths rotations and an easy access place for students during wet (or hot) day timetables!

2. We (my Grade 1s, while my Preps had the day off) made these cute little iPhones for Valentine’s Day on Wednesday. I was fortunate enough a little while ago to win a copy of Foxwell Forest’s iHold You in My Heart pack. It’s such a great pack and my kids adored this activity. One of my firsties explained to me why she was making the Valentine for her brother – “Because his iPad screen is cracked and he can use this one instead!” Precious!

1. So, anyone who lives in Victoria knows about the industrial action being taken by Government teachers. Our school is lucky enough to be united in this action and we had our stopwork on Thursday. Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m the last person to get involved in politics, because I can’t stand it, but I do believe in standing up for your rights and at the moment teachers are getting a very raw deal from the State government. Sigh. I’ll leave it at that. Well… not quite. I do have to share with you one of the signs to our Premier, Ted Ballieu:

I wish I could think of witty things to put on signs, but alas I’m relegated to loving other people’s creativity!

So that concludes my Five for Friday.

How was your week?

Five for Friday & First Day of Prep/1

Joining in for another week!

1. Started work on Tuesday. Honestly, it was like I’d never left! However, it was great to be among the people that I’ve loved working with for the last 3 years, to learn alongside them and to have a fabulous lunch outing. We also had a great PD session on high expectations (which has really resonated with me and some of the other staff), and had a brief look at the Australian Numeracy Curriculum, and reassessed our whole school Numeracy planner.

2. Made my first day frame (below), which I love so much more than my frame from last year! Had lots of inspiration!

3. Had a wonderful sight as I left for work this morning – I saw not one, not two… but three beautiful rainbows on the way to work. The photo’s not great (never is with rainbows – sight!), but I had to share it anyway. This was the first rainbow I saw, as I walked out my front door.

4. This week (due to a lot of things happening in the school), I gained a beautiful little cherub in Grade 1 who requires a teaching aide – which is brand new for me. (Having another person in the room with me 10 hours a week will take some getting used to!) However, I met my teaching aide today and she’s so lovely (and a qualified teacher!), so I think we’ll have a brilliant term!

5. I prettified my laptop. This cheered me up after a full-on day!

In other, first week of school news…

Yesterday (Thursday) my 15 lovely Grade One students started school for the 2013 year. They were such sweethearts, and were so eager to do some reading and writing and singing.

Today (Friday) my 7 gorgeous Prep students started their very first day of school. They’re a beautiful bunch, too, and fit right in with their Grade One buddies. They only had half a day at school, but will be full-time on Monday. The Grade Ones were so precious, showing them how to draw pictures on the IWB, how to make shapes in playdough, how to build really long magnetic chains on the floor (and leaving me to find magnet pieces all over the place for the rest of the day!), and how to do really neat colouring in.

I couldn’t have asked for a lovelier class.

But, I will confess, that it was a stressful day for me. With confident Grade Ones, and nervous Preps (and parents!), I felt like my attention was divided ALL day. I had to give my attention to the Preps, who’ve never been to school, who don’t know to put their hand up to go to the bathroom, who finish activities in 2 minutes, who don’t like to sit down for longer than 5 minutes, and who are eager to share everything they know. Which of course meant leaving the Ones to complete activities with the attention of my very good colleague (and their art teacher) who was helping me for the morning.

I’m back to a balancing act, and I forgot how hard it is at the start of the year with a Prep/1.

But it can only get better from here.

I have to go in to work tomorrow morning to move a few things (borrowing a new bookshelf from my principal, so I have a bit more storage in my classroom), and to set up my new writing table and do general start of year organisational stuff, so I hope to take a few more photos of my classroom to share with you all.

How was your week?

Sale, Giveaway & Classroom Photos

TeachersPayTeachers Store // TeachersNotebook Store

To celebrate the Halloween season, I’m joining in with other TpT and TN sellers and having a sale in my store! Just click  on the links above to visit my stores and receive 20% off all my products!

Even though my Clustrmap is still waiting to catch up – I’ve officially had OVER 3000 visitors to my humble little blog! This is terribly exciting for me, and so I’m going to host a giveaway to celebrate (because who doesn’t love free things?!).

If you would like to contribute a prize for the giveaway, please send me an email (galvin.stefanie.s@edumail.vic.gov.au) with the following details:

  1. What you’d like to contribute
  2. Your preferred email
  3. Your blog/Facebook/Pinterest/Twitter (really, whatever you’d like included!)
  4. Your TpT/TeachersNotebook store

I really hope that there are a few people interested, because this could be amazing fun!

I’ll keep collecting contributions until the end of November 1st (whenever I get home!).

Inspired by this Pin

On Saturday my colleague and I spent a few hours making 8 batches of orange playdough to give our students as a cute Halloween treat this Wednesday. (I’m not a huge fan of giving out lollies and sugar to kids – especially when some of them will get lots of it ANYWAY!) But these Pumpkin Playdough treats turned out beautifully and can be stored and reused!

Inspired by Melanie from Frog Spot!

So, I totally stole this idea from Mel – because it was too darn cute, and Australian to boot! Plus, she had an adorable freebie writing template to use.

My kids had great fun designing their own Wombat Stew recipes (most choosing a combination of story ingredients and spooky additions!).

Thanks for the great idea, Mel!

Time flies…

… when you’re insanely busy!

The last month has just FLOWN by in a jumble of starting school, juggling Prep and Grade 1 curriculum, Prep Picnics, Parent/Teacher Interviews, Dr Seuss week and so many other things. (I’m ignoring the school photos happening on Monday!)

I’ve let so much slide – this blog, Twitter (so sorry, I’m coming back!). I’m just SO exhausted right now. Who would have thought teaching Preps and Grade 1s would be so tiring? Ok, so I knew some of what I was getting into – but I still feel like a bit of yo-yo constantly going backwards and forwards between the preps and ones.

That said, they all settled really well, and we’re working well as a class – and I’ve gotten such nice feedback on my students’ behaviour from specialist teachers. This is, so far, the most stable group of classroom personalities and dynamics that I’ve had. So, despite the yo-yo effect and exhaustion, I’m really very happy.

I thought I’d share some of the things we’ve done in class:

Because I’ve become shamelessly addicted to Pinterest and everyone’s super-fantastic ideas, here’s the credit for some of the above activities:

1. Love Bugs

2. O is for Octopus (Preps)

3. Let’s Generate Questions (Babbling Abby) and Question Words

4. Start Up Learning Program – What our classroom looks/feels/sounds like Y-chart

5. Days of School counters (Prep and Grade 1)

6. Door sign to my classroom (LOVE my Cricut machine for cutting out letters)

7. E is for Elmer, sentence sort (Preps)

8. Short A Real Word/Silly Word sort (Babbling Abby) (Grade 1s)

9. Grammar Pies (Grade 1s – made by my awesome team member, Alex!)

10/11. Ii is for Igloo (Preps)

12. Part of my reading corner and the Grade 1s’ book covers for Daisy All-Sorts (Pamela Allen)

13. Odd and Even street (Grade 1s, odd and even numbers)

 

I might have to do a second post tomorrow to share some of the activities we did last week – my Dr. Seuss themed week. It was so much fun!

 Also… totally missed this milestone – I’ve had over 1,000 visitors to this blog! How cool! Thanks to everyone who has visited!

Blog Action Day 2011 – Food, Glorious Food!

Today is Blog Action Day 2011, a day where bloggers all over the world write a blog post on a topic that everyone has in common. This year, the theme is food.

I thought I would share a little bit about how my (rather large) extended family share food as part of our family celebrations – for birthdays, Christmas, Easter, and any other get-together in-between that we can find!

Most recently my mother celebrated her 50th birthday, and we had a fantastic (and huge) birthday celebration for her. My mother comes from a family of 9 children, and her parents both emigrated from Italy and met here in Australia. As such, every family gathering is a big deal, and is traditionally known for large amounts of food over 3-6 unofficial courses during the day.

We usually start with nibblies as people arrive, progressing to more substantial finger-food. For Christmas and Easter, we usually then have a pasta dish, then a main course – which depending on the celebration can be seafood, meats, a BBQ, etc. Then comes dessert (usually a meal in itself!), then coffee and tea and cheeses.

(For my mother’s birthday we didn’t have ‘main meals’ as such, but the general idea was still there!)

And for all that it sounds like a lot of food, we are talking a crowd of 35+ people when we think about siblings, partners and children (and their partners). And we range in age from 6 years old to 70+ years old.

We also try very hard not to let any food go to waste – leftovers are collected by different guests and become lunch or dinner for the next day.

In essence, food plays a very big part of the way my family celebrates together – everyone contributes something towards the meal, either by cooking it, or purchasing it. Everyone takes turn hosting events, everyone helps clean up, everyone helps serve.

One of my university lecturers – for Phys Ed and Health – once said something that has stuck with me every since. We’d just finished a series of lectures on teaching healthy eating and lifestyles for early education, and at the very end she added:

“One of the most important things to do to support good mental health is to share food – like birthday cakes – with others. Food eaten in celebration with others is not considered ‘bad’ food.”

That’s something that I agree with!

Some photos of the nibblies and desserts at Mum’s 50th!

How do you celebrate with food?

What is your favourite recipe or meal?