Monday, August 29, 2016

Classroom Tour

Hey guys! I haven't ever put a full look at my classroom so I thought I'd let you have a peek this Monday evening!  It's a long skinny room so I have had things in a few TONS of different places before ending on this design that I've had for a few years.  The gal that was in the room before me wasn't fortunate enough to have the cabinets above the cubbies (but asked for them to be put in before he moved) so I reaped the benefit of that one.  I was able to get rid of a lot of the cabinets she had and really open up the space.  I also asked for the whiteboard to be removed and the chalkboard put up on the cinder block (painted over mural) wall that couldn't be used for bulletin boards or hanging things.  All of these changes were huge and I, most days, love my classroom set up.  

From left to right:  Restroom, computers and NEW BULLETIN BOARD! Yipee!, mailboxes, chalkboard, flexible seating, cubbies, play area, calendar wall. 

This is my version of flexible seating. At least at this point in the year.  I have a student of the week desk, two student desks, two tables with rocking/regular chairs, floor table and rug seating available.  This is where I do my whole group instruction.  Orange and green cabinets for storage which I organized last year which I posted about here.  Student cubbies hold their backpacks, coats, lunch boxes and the top houses their towel box for rest time.  The cabinets on top store more games and activities for language arts and math.  The very top of them is where I house all of my play and sensory activities. 

The opposite end is where I have my dramatic play center which changes approximately every three weeks, calendar wall with mountain math, sensory table and behind the partition is where my aide is able to work one on one with students for some time in the afternoon.  

Lastly, I have my desk and such.  The three shelves hold monthly binders, reading unit binders, books on cd, leveled readers and center supplies.  I keep my materials for each day in the colored drawers behind the desk.  I thought really hard this year about getting rid of my teacher desk but I just couldn't do it!  So, I downsized.  It's working well so far but I have to do a better job of staying organized so my table doesn't get stacked on! 

I hope you enjoyed this peek into my space! I'd love to hear your comments! 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Shakin' it up with Mrs. Shannon: Sensory Table

A few weeks ago I was a guest blogger over at Kindergarten Chaos and thought I'd share the info here too! 

Today we are talking sensory tables! We had always had two sensory tables available at my school but I had never really used them.  One had water and one had sand (that may have been there since I was in school). They got used usually once per year when I would do outside centers at the end of the year I would set up the water table.  The other kindergarten teacher used hers more, but still not tons. At the end of the 2014-2015 school year I knew I wanted to make some big changes for the 2015-2016 school year one of them being that I wanted to do a different sensory table each week.  I knew it was going to be a challenge (and costly!) to get it going but I knew with risk also comes reward.  


I loved it and more importantly the kids LOVED it!  

I based my sensory table off of my reading series (as much as I could) so the first thing I did was write out what each three week theme was and then see what each week specifically was. For example one might be How do things grow? as the overall theme but each week could be flowers, trees and farm.  So my sensory table was specific to the week.  I used the graph pages from my Erin Condren planner to write out what I wanted to do.  

These were either extra ideas or ones that didn't exactly fit a specific theme.  
After I figured out what specific ones I wanted to do I made a list of supplies I needed.  I was able to buy some supplies through school and asked for some from people I knew or parents that asked if anything was needed.  Yard sales and Goodwill were also great for a lot of it.  I also needed a way to organize allllll of the supplies I would have so I bought some totes for storage.  

Most supplies are in the smallest totes but some are in medium totes as well.
Here is a complete list of the sensory tables that I did:

  • Colors (red, blue, yellow, green)
  • Shredded paper with student names (match names to student picture)
  • Color Mixing
  • Nuts and Bolts (different sizes)
  • Attribute blocks
  • Bugs in shredded paper/ tweezers/bug box
  • Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer
  • Puzzle Pieces
  • Dirt with Flowers
  • Snow (instant or real!)
  • Valentine (flower petals, red, white, pink and purple "stuff")
  • Red, White and Blue (America)
  • Halloween
  • Straws
  • Flour
  • Lids
  • Kinetic Sand
  • Noodles (cooked or uncooked)
  • T-shirts

So you can probably figure out that I didn't get to do one every week, but it was close! And some weeks (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) were short weeks so I didn't do a new one then, but I am planning on adding more this year so I do have one for each week! I was really pleased with how it went since it was my first year implementing it.   

Some of the activities had true standards attachment... finding and ordering alphabet, and numbers, rhyming, cvc words, colors, color mixing, etc.  Others were just purely for exploration... kids need that too!!! 

Each group was given a pack of straws to cut up and then a couple days to explore and lace.

Red, white and blue with numbers 1-30.

Color mixing. Each student had 6 cups.  3 were filled and 3 empty and a pipette.

My sister-in-law from Dear Fav gifted me some t-shirt scraps so we just had some fun cutting and ripping (strengthening those hand muscles!)

Flour!  This was probably my (and several kids!) favorite.... not so sure about the custodian ;)


I obviously missed taking pictures of a few most of my sensory tables but again... something to work on for next year!  

I am so glad I decided to implement this into my weekly routine.  We often forget that these little people we work with are kids and need time to have fun.  This was one way I found it could be implemented.

Thanks so much for stopping by! If you have any questions please feel free to email me at

Friday, April 1, 2016

SPRING BREAK and Growth Mindset

I am so excited to be on SPRING BREAK!  This year is the first year we have two weeks (minus one day) for break and I think it will be wonderful! A much needed break for the children.... and teacher.  I am still doing a terrible job of remembering to take pictures of all of the neat things we are doing in the classroom but I promise you we have been doing fun things.  We had school on March 21 and with only one day we knew the kids would be excited and not want to sit still.  We did some of our regular routine but instead of doing Daily 5 in the morning we did centers, had an all grade movie (including 'Ice Pudding'!) in the afternoon and ended the day with an Easter egg hunt.  For the last day before spring break I would say it was very successful!

I'm now on my last day of break... my boys are napping and I'm finally getting to the things I wanted to. :) Better late than never.  We are working on some new programs for next year and I'm wanting to work on them. The first is working on implementing the 7 habits of highly effective people into our school and I personally am wanting to work on giving my kiddos (at home and school) a growth mindset.  

My littles all dressed up for Easter!

My husband reads everything, or listens to audio books of many different topics. He is interested in EVERYTHING.  Sometimes he wants to talk about what he has been reading or listening to and I pretend to listen, but this time it was different.  It made sense to me and I wanted to hear what he had to say.  The idea of a growth mindset got me excited for what I could do in my own life and in my classroom.  As a teacher I want kids to feel worthy and like they can accomplish anything. It's hard to make them feel that when I feel the pressure of getting them all to read by the end of the year it's hard to focus on the fact that they are 5 or 6 years old and I need to be giving them a positive start.  

The book he listened to was Mindset The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. 

Here are a couple of links to videos that give a brief explanation of it.

As a teacher, I just fell in love with the idea! I WANT my kids to love learning, and not shut down when things get tough! I WANT them to try new things and not take the easy way out! But I had no idea where to start... so this is it! I am going to work on adding the 7 habits into my classroom and working on a growth mindset.  I am VERY excited to get started and see what comes of it! 

I went to school over break and got somethings ready for the next couple of weeks! I've been working on creating somethings for word work and centers as well. Here are some sneak peeks into the next couple weeks!


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Dramatic Play in Kindergarten

This year I wanted to make a change in my classroom.  I actually made several, but my favorite was adding a dramatic play center (with purpose) back in.  I used to HATE my dramatic play.  It was a kitchen and NEVER changed.  It would end with me asking barking at the kids to pick everything up and put it in the right basket.  I was determined to make a change this year.  The first step for me was making a schedule... checking to see what would work with my reading series units.  

Most of the units were fairly easy to match up with a play center. but I have tons of extra ideas if I need them.

Our reading series has three week units so I planned on changing things out every three weeks.  A few of them only lent themselves to staying for a week or two but I was okay with that as long as the prep was minimal for those.  I also knew that the prep would be more for the centers I wanted to stay out for all three weeks.  I have found lots of sets on Teachers Pay Teachers (thank you Pocket of Preschool!) that have been VERY helpful in some of my set ups. I'll be honest, there have been a few times this year (including my current pet store!) that have taken the whole first week to set up.  So this just means they stay up for the remaining two weeks.  

Most weeks my students will visit during centers two days per week for three weeks.  My goal for this year was to incorporate a writing element into each center... let's just say there's some LOTS of room for improvement on this one! 

I've also been really bad at taking pictures of dramatic play this year so I'll add that to the list of goals for next year as well. :) I am planning on doing a post later in the year of all of my dramatic play centers so stay tuned to see those! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

AMAZING blog design!

Oh. My. Just look at this new blog! Doesn't it look awesome!? Many many thanks to Gabby Barba at Instruct and Inspire for designing it for me. 

Instruct and Inspire
She did a wonderful job and I am so excited to get back into blogging with this beautiful design.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Teachers Pay Teachers and my blog to get the latest info of happenings in my classroom and such!

Teachers Pay Teachers


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Spotlight Saturday

Phew! I don't know about any of you other teachers out there but I'm EXHAUSTED!  I have really challenged myself this year by revamping my whole curriculum to incorporate more play and sensory, new behavior management system, and new seating arrangement.  I went back to work after being on maternity leave for 6 wonderful months and trying to do it all is very tiring (especially getting a 2 year old and 6 month old ready each morning and out the door by 7:15) BUT I'm loving it!

That being said, I've taken a break from blogging for a few weeks but I'm back at it and glad to be linking up with Erin at Kindergarten Dragons for Spotlight Saturday! This week I'm spotlighting Pocket of Preschool's Question of the Day/Week.

Pocket of Preschool

I knew I was wanting to start doing a different way of taking attendance.  In the past I had a student be the attendance helper and they went around to check if everyone was there.  It just ended up being a social time for them, and not what I wanted.  So I put everyone's name on a label, girls went on pink paper and boys on blue, and they were then laminated.  I attached a magnet to the back and placed them in the bottom box on my chalkboard.  I made the boxes from Washi Tape.  Each question is placed in the top portion of the box and there are yes and no boxes as well.  As soon as students enter the classroom in the morning they put their bags up, grab their crayons and go straight to the board to answer the daily question.  Students have a different question each day.  We started the first couple of days doing color words and students caught on REALLY quickly! I even stopped answering the "What's the question today?" question, other students would pipe up and tell the answer!

I have bought all of the sets so if my calculations are correct I have 214 options for the year.  Since we go to school for 180 days I have more than enough options! 

Included in each purchase is a label for the bags/boxes you keep all of the pieces in.  You can also see on the top bags I have used small magnets on the back so they are ready to go.  I prefer the Lakeshore peel and stick magnets.  

Here is what my question of the day looks like.  Students come in and grab their crayon box and head up to the chalkboard.  Student names are kept in the bottom box (moved back to the bottom every day by my attendance helper), The question is housed in the top box and the yes/no boxes are in the middle. 

Most students don't have to be reminded to answer the question and often times it isn't me that does the reminding.  I was worried about having to read the question to each student but that hasn't happened.  I read it a handful of times as students are entering the room and those students that have answered then relay the message to students coming in later.  Since this particular question has dealt with counting I have had to help some students a little more than the previous colors question.  

All in all I'm loving this new portion of my day! It's a quick assessment too... I can tell who can count to 7, who needs assistance.... Who knows their colors, etc.  without it feeling like a test!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Winner Wednesday! Photo Album: Math and Alphabet

So excited to be linking up with A Dab of Glue will Do for Winner Wednesday.  I was thinking I wanted to giveaway some of my new products but wasn't sure how I wanted to do it and this is the perfect way!  So without further-a-do here they are! 

I am SOOOOOO excited about these products!  I saw in a picture (probably from PINTEREST!) someone was using a small photo album as a dry erase pocket.... and I thought GENIUS! So that is how these products were born.  Independent activities that students can do that can be reused.  Print multiple copies for small group use, individual copies for one student or have different books for different activities. I am already starting on my next set! 

Students can fill in the missing letter for upper and lowercase letters (right now I only have D'Nealian because that's what I use, but I'm working on Zaner-Bloser!) 

There are also 4 sets of alphabet pictures! Students can write the beginning letter for each picture.  I am planning on mixing up the pictures so students aren't just writing the letters in order! 

I also have Math Skills for the photo albums too!  These work on skills with numbers to 20. Except the 10 frame addition, that only works to 10. 

Fill in the number cards. 

Fill in the number of candies.

Draw the number of candies.

How many in the 10 frame.

Fill in the 10 Frame.

How many more to make 10? Addition cards.

I hope you all enjoy these products as much as I do! I am so excited to implement them into my classroom and I think the kiddos will have lots of fun with them too!  They will be perfect for centers or word work!

I will be giving away one of EACH product! So by entering your name once you have two chances to win! Good luck!!!