Since I moved to Hawaii this summer, I decided that my new classroom needed a rainbow theme!  I kind of had one last year, with the pom-poms, rainbow rug, and yellow, red, and blue book tubs.  But this year, I wanted the signs in my room to reflect the rainbow theme, as well.

In comes Crystal from Kreative in Kinder.  She made some awesome classroom decor theme packs.  The rainbow pack has over 150 pages and includes a word wall, calendar numbers, letter posters, center posters, name plates, a welcome banner, student of the week signs, and more!  She even created a few options in different colors for many of the products, which made it fun for me to customize my room.

Here are a few pictures from my room:
Word Wall bunting and letters
Yesterday Was, today Is, Tomorrow Will Be
Jobs sign
I love all of this so much, that I decided I needed to add a few more finishing touches to make my room complete.  I have a bulletin board right next to the door where I put my daily schedule, as well as a copy of the current homework or any other flier or notice that goes home and needs to be returned.  I created little buntings that say "schedule" and "news" to go in this area.  It matches the rainbow theme pack and makes my bulletin board look even cuter!  Thanks, Crystal, for the inspiration (and permission to share this as a freebie!)

My "News" sign is up! 

You can head over to Google Docs and pick up a copy for yourself if you are interested in doing a rainbow theme, as well!  Head on over to Crystal's store and snag the complete rainbow kit while you are at it!

My schedule cards are from Miss Kindergarten and the paper below the "News" bunting is an acceptable use policy for my classroom iPad and other technology that students have to sign and return to school.  It's a freebie from Soaring Through Second.

I am linked up to TBA's Open House Week!
Open House Week

What themes do you like to use when you decorate your classroom?

I'm giving away my "What To Do When You Are Finished" classroom poster set over at Mrs. Stanford's Classroom blog to celebrate her 1000 followers!  Check it out! :)

My new school does not have a social studies curriculum.  But the State of Hawaii has social studies standards.  What's a teacher to do, who is learning a new school, new curriculum, new standards, teaching a new grade level, did I mention mommy and wife?  Embed in another subject, that's what!

The ever wonderful April from A Modern Teacher has a fabulous writing unit called: Happy to be Me! An Autobiography.

In this unit, parents and children fill out a questionnaire at home about their lives as babies, preschoolers, and kindergarteners.  This part was so smart!  Tons of my kids would have been hung up and not known what to write, but since they had already talked about it with their families and written it down, they all were able to do it.  If I had tried to do this project at my old school, however, I would need this form translated into Spanish and Russian, then I would have needed one of the Russian-speaking educational assistants help me translate.  Even though 65% of the population at Lanai School is Filipino, all of the families were able to complete this part in English.  I was very impressed!  

One of my students looking at the parent questionnaire and writing the answers in his book.
Once students brought in the questionnaire, they started filling out their book.  It includes pages from their life as a baby, as a four year old, when they started school, what they like now, and what they want for the future.   
Most kids turned that cute bunting graphic on the page into the sun!
Since our social studies standards include "construct timelines to sequence events", I was so excited this project included a timeline.  They write about their life in the past, in the present, and in the future.  I had them glue it inside the front cover.

April is so creative and suggests using a silhouette on the cover of the book.  I used my projector to cast a shadow, taped a piece of black paper to my bulletin board, and outlined each student's profile with a white crayon.  They cut it out and glued it to the front of their book.

I made this title for kids to cut out and write their name.

Look at his cute little mohawk.  I had to include it in his silhouette!

Another social studies standard is "investigate the history of families using level-appropriate primary sources."  The parent questionnaire counts as an interview and even though the history we are investigating is their life and not that of their entire family, I think that it works.  And this has been a wonderful way for me to get to know my new students better.  Each morning I've had parents come in and talk to me about it.  Some had to explain some of the stories they wrote about.  Some are dying to see the book their child is talking all about at home.  We are going to share them tomorrow and I can't wait to send them home.  I know this project will be something many families keep forever in their child's school scrapbooks.

How do you combine subjects and make sure you hit as many standards as possible?  Have you found some fun units recently that help you get more bang for your buck?  Do tell!
Do you have a love-hate relationship with your pencil sharpener?  I had a hand crank one in my room that I completely removed because A. it didn't work well, B. it took forever to sharpen a pencil, and C. it was screwed into a weird spot behind my desk.  Electric pencil sharpeners are better because they sharpen so much faster, but if you let kids use them, they can break pretty easily.  At my old school, I had an electric sharpener, but I never let students use it.  Those things are so expensive - some can be around $50 and have to be replaced each year if the motor dies!  So, when Classroom Friendly Supplies offered to send me a free pencil sharpener to review, I was ecstatic!

When we moved to Hawaii a month ago, I packed one suitcase full of teaching supplies I would absolutely need for the first two weeks until our container of all our belongings arrived.  Unfortunately, we've been here 4 weeks and we are still sleeping on the floor on borrowed blow-up mattresses and futons.  I am so happy I brought that suitcase for my classroom!  In it, I packed cardboard magazine files from Ikea for book boxes, chimes for my attention signal, Kreative in Kinder's Rainbow Classroom Decor all printed out, laminated, cut, and ready to hang, a schedule pocket chart, a turn-in basket, black sheets and new trimmer for my bulletin boards, a good pair of scissors, a pack of Ticonderoga pencils, and my new pencil sharpener.

Here is a video of my son sharpening some pencils after school.  He's a pro!

I taught him how to use it first, and he would come in and happily sharpen pencils after school!  I just started classroom jobs in my room, so now one student does it.  I love that I can rely on the kids to sharpen pencils instead of being so worried that the kids will break the sharpener.  And at $24.99, this sharpener won't break the bank, even the frugalest of teachers.  If you order more than one, you get a bigger discount, too, so team up with other teachers at your school!

Tell me about your sharpener:  Do you have an electric one?  Do you allow students to use it?  Maybe you have students bring in those tiny ones from home? Or maybe you, too, have this amazing sharpener that is not only quiet, but easy to use!  I'd love to hear how you handle this conundrum!

I was given a pencil sharpener free of charge to review.  The opinions stated are completely my own.
I just finished my second week of school in beautiful Lanai, Hawaii.  But.... I just got internet at our house on Friday!  Yippee!  No more sad, lonely, neglected blog! :)

So, now that I am able to access YouTube (it's blocked at my school), I  can share with you this video of what my classroom looked like after the first day.  Not exactly where I want it to be, but a vast improvement from where I started out!  See my first video, then watch this one.

In the video, you will see several products that I used on the first day:
From my shop
Via Live, Love, Laugh Everyday in Kindergarten
Via Miss Kindergarten
Via Kreative in Kinder
What's in your TpT inbox? What does your classroom look like after the first day of school?

I'm linking up with Swimming Into Second!
I am throwing a 20% off sale in my Teachers Pay Teachers store on Sunday, August 12th and Monday, August 13th!

If you use this code: BTS12, you can get an additional 10% off, making your total savings 28% off!  What a great deal!

Here are some new units I just posted:

What To Do When You Are Finished classroom visual

My students are always saying, "Teacher, I'm done, what do I do?" (Even though I have told eight-one them times what they can do - they still ALWAYS ask!)  By choosing one of these four color schemed posters (with two different sayings), laminating it, sticking on hook-and-loop circles, and posting it on a bulletin board for the whole class to see, I can stick up activity cards for activities that the students can do when they are done.  There are over 30 different activities, including reading, writing, computers, and toys.  Since I've used this in my classroom, kids do not ask me anymore what they can do, because all I do is silently point to the poster.  It's a win-win for everyone! :)

I used this coloring sheet this year on the very first day of school.  I set it out on each student's desk and they got to color it and draw themselves sitting in their desk after they found their name tag, put away their backpack, and got settled it.  It was a great way for kids to stay busy as I met all the new students, chatted with parents, and took in supplies.  For this new Teachers Pay Teachers product, I made sheets that say "Welcome to Kindergarten," "Welcome to First Grade," and "Welcome to Second Grade."

What are you planning on buying in the Back to School sale?

I linked up with Miss Kindergarten!

I am so excited to share with you that I got to be a part of this year's Teacher Smart Back-to-School Must Haves!  This eZine is full of amazing ideas, products, and links from some of the best teachers in blogland - Deanna Jump, Miss Kindergarten, The Teacher Wife, and The Organized Classroom Blog, just to name a few.  I feel so fortunate that I got to be included, as well!

My section (page 23) is all the must have professional books.  I included all of my favorites:

  • Classroom Book Clubs by Laura Candler
  • Launch a Primary Writer's Workshop by Lucy Calkins
  • The CAFE Book and the Daily 5 by The Sisters
  • Reading with Meaning by Debbie Miller
  • Living the Questions by Ruth Shagoury & Benda Power
  • Bringing it All Together by Marcia Brechtel
  • Classrooms that Work by Richard Allington & Patricia Cunningham
It was perfect that I got to showcase these books, since I am so obsessed with taking graduate courses and doing professional workshops.  I love learning and love sharing new ideas with other teachers.  I hope to be a college professor some day and help train the next generation of successful and effective teachers!

Thanks to April from A Modern Teacher and Melanie from Schoolgirl Style for organizing, designing, and basically making this eZine possible.  I hope you all are able to pick up a few tips and do some back-to-school shopping! :)

I am so excited to share that I got to participate in Jessica's Product Swap!  Bloggers got to sign up and Jessica matched them up by grade level to swap products and test them out!  I was teamed up with Heather from Teach It Today - she is amazing!  So so so nice, and creates quality products, too!

Heather sent me her Instant Word Bingo game.  In this set, there are 100 sight words included.  She has a cute product cover, a teacher direction page, a Bingo card, and 4 pages of words.

I made copies of the Bingo card and a copy of the first set of words for each of my students.  They cut out the words and glued them in any order onto the Bingo Card.  I told them to make a unique pattern, so that when they get Bingo, no one else does!

Here are my students cutting out the words.

And gluing them down.  A couple little smarty pants decided it was faster to glue dots, then add the words.  Such problem solvers!

I then laminated a copy of the words and cut them up, storing them in an envelope.  These are my calling pieces.

Now, as I call a word, the kids put a little math counter over the word until there is a Bingo.  I give the winner their choice of a sticker for their book box.  I told my students that if we don't have to wait for kids who are talking too much and get all of our work done, we can play Bingo at the end of every day.  But, if there is too much talking and we have to wait, then there won't be time.  "The more we wait, the less we play" is what I tell them.  So far it's working like a charm!  They are keeping these bingo cards in their reading folders and can be taken out at the moment's notice.  I love that there are four sets of words, so we can graduate to harder words in a couple of weeks.  The kids should get really good at reading these words!

As another variation, I could spell the word as I call it, so then they would have to put the letters together in their head, or I could request that they spell the words as they read back Bingos.  I could also have them read and spell a row of their card to a neighbor before we begin the game.  I am so looking forward to using this during the year!  Thanks Heather!

If this looks like something you could use in your classroom, head on over to Heather's TpT store or Teacher's Notebook store and get a copy for yourself!  And the best news, it's only $2.00! :)