I love literacy centers or the Daily 5 for students while I'm teaching guided reading.  One of my staple centers is a listening center.  It has evolved quite a bit over the years.

I started out with about 5 books and tapes that I got from Scholastic book orders.  I had one big tape player with multiple headphone jacks, so I had to hunt down a couple more copies of the books so an entire group of students could listen to one story all together.  I struggled with holding kids accountable and would have them fill out a response sheet, but they often didn't have time to finish before they had to move on to their next center.

I then moved to a new school and taught kindergarten - there was no way my 32 kindergarteners could handle a listening center at the beginning of the year.  I got a Donorschoose project for some Leap Pad interactive books and those were helpful for the next couple of years while my tapes collected dust.

I then moved back to first grade and wanted to bring out the tapes again.  There were some old walkmans in storage at my school that had been used for the Read Naturally program.  The great thing about walkmans is students can listen to the books individually, not with a partner.  They are more on task and can choose books that interest them.  The bad thing about walkmans is they eat up batteries.  I got a new Donorschoose project together for rechargeable batteries and I was set!

The walkmans and rechargeable batteries have been kickin' it for 4 years, now!  But the problem is, the walkmans are starting to break, the tapes are starting to wear out, and I'm starting to get annoyed that kids bring me their walkman everyday and say, "It doesn't work" and they only needed to turn around the tape!  So, I decided to bring my listening center to the 21st century with iPod nanos!

Messy listening center!
Enter Donorschoose, once again.  I have an old pink iPod nano, and two of my friends sent me their old nanos that they don't want.  That gives me 3 choices for kids.  My reading groups have 5 or 6 kids, so I wrote another Donorschoose project for 2 more nanos.  I figured that I might be able to find one more, or two kids can share with a headphone splitter.

Now, to get the books on tape to transfer to audio files for the computer.  I knew it could be done, but I wasn't sure how.  Google to the rescue!  I found that a free program for audio recording and editing, Audacity, could do it for me!  I only needed to buy one, cheap cord: a 3.5 mm stereo cable.

Audacity has a great help wiki (looks like wikipedia!) and the detailed instructions were so easy to follow.  You can find those here.

The plan is to upload 5 books on each iPod and change those out monthly.  Each iPod is a different color, so kids will know which one they have used.  If they get the pink one twice, they can just listen to another book, or *gasp* listen to a book again.  I even hope to start recording students reading some books and having those audio files available.  I can record them reading on my iPhone, or I have a mini microphone for my iPod touch.

And what to do with all those tapes??  Give them to the kids of course!  I'll keep the books, but let the kids take home a tape each.  Maybe they can even win a walkman!  I'm excited I won't have as much to physically store with this new system.

To kick off my new listening center, I decided to make my reading center cards available on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Click the photo below to go check them out!

Here are the cards in my chart.  The hanging sheet show what the centers are for each day of the week. My groups are just handwritten on strips of paper because I was in a hurry, but now that my new ink cartridge finally arrived in the mail. I can print out prettier ones (#islandproblems).

Do you use a listening center?  How do you display your center info for kids?

I'm linking up with Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle's Technology Tuesday!

Fern Smith's Thursday's Tech Tips for Teachers

I am joining one of my favorite bloggers, Tessa from Tales from Outside the Classroom and joining her Linking Up With Love linky party!

Bloggers I'm Loving

You already know that Tessa is one of my BFB's (Best Friend in Blogging!!) but I have a couple more, as well!
Another one of my BFB's is Jessica from Mrs. Stanford's Class!  She makes the cutest products, papers, and fonts!  And she is just about the sweetest person ever!!  I hope I get to meet her IRL one day!

Another blogger I love is Jen Ross from The Teacher's Cauldron.  She also teaches 2nd grade and her products are sooooo amazing!  She helps me out in my classroom almost daily, and doesn't even know it!  I'm obsessed with her Numbers Every Day product and use her stuff all the time!

Another blogger who I am loving right now is the one and only Lori from Teaching With Love and Laughter!  She teaches a continuous K-2 loop, so her products are so perfect for primary, since she has used each and every one of them in her classroom!  She is so sweet, but not only that, she is truly an expert teacher with years of experience to back her up!  She is one of my go-to gals for writing, phonics, and grammar lessons!  I just love her blog and shop!

Going Nutty!  In Mrs. Squirrel's first grade
I couldn't leave out my gal, Missy Squirrels!  She cracks me up on a daily basis!  Between her sarcasm, wit, and adorable classroom, we were destined to be friends   This is another blogger that I hope to meet IRL soon!

Things I'm Loving

Since I live on an island with not many stores, I have become the queen of online shopping.  One of my favorite places to save money online is Ebates!  All you do is go to the Ebates website, find the store you want to shop in, go to the shop through their link, and Ebates will send you a percentage of your bill back!  For example, I needed new Bare Minerals foundation (all this sun is making my skin tan - yay!).  I went to Ebates, searched for Sephora, clicked through to Sephora through the Ebates website, and Ebates added 8% of my bill to my Cash Back account!  They send out checks for cash back once a quarter.  It is soooo worth it!  You can even use coupon codes in the actual store's website to save even more!  Now, who doesn't love saving money? Huh?

Products I'm Loving

I haven't gotten around to making any Valentine's products yet, but I am really loving my new Mac and PC Keyboard Shortcut products!

As for Valentine's Day, I currently have this unit in my TpT cart.  I love all of April from A Modern Teacher's holiday packs.  They are sooooo much fun!

That's it!  Head on over to Tessa's blog to see what everyone else loves and maybe even link up yourself!

What are you loving right now?
I'm back with another linky party for Art with Aloha!

This week I'm showing you a project my class did at the beginning of the year.  I did this project last year in 3rd grade, too, and it went just as well!  

The project is from Mrs Brown's Art Class.  I LOVE her website - she has awesome projects!

Directions for this project:
  • Ask students to write their name in bubble letters in the middle of the page in pencil.  
  • Divide the paper into 6ths, with the lines all intersecting in the middle of the page.  I give the kids rulers to make a straight line.  
  • Outline the pencil lines with Sharpies.  Don't use Crayola markers, they will bleed.  I learned that the hard way!
  • Using oil pastels, color the name bubble letters within the fraction.  If you look at the second photo I posted above (second painting down on the right), the H in Haley's name is all red.  But only the part of the A that is in the same fraction piece as the H is red, the rest of the A is orange.  Color each section in rainbow order: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.
  • Using watercolors, watercolor the same colors over the entire section.  In Haley's example, the section with the red H and part red A, she painted red watercolor over the entire section.  
  • If you want, you can ask your kids to only use red, yellow, and blue watercolor and have them mix colors to make green, orange,and purple.
This lesson can be tied to color mixing, fractions (equal parts of a whole), symmetry, or even a personal history project of how students got their names or what their names mean.
Now it's your turn!  Show off your latest art project, craftivity, or just something colorful.  Let us see what you are working on!  Grab the button below and link up!
My school is lucky enough to have a K-2 computer lab.  However, our K-2 lab needed some work.  When I got here, it was a windowless cave with bulletin boards covered by sad, faded black paper and random staples.  After a couple of sessions with my kids in there and my trusty staple remover, I've made some progress!

This all started with a vision of posting keyboard shortcuts for students to reference.  I use shortcuts all the time and I wanted to have my students be able to use them, as well.  By posting them in a visual way like this, they can just look on the board to see them, instead of constantly asking me, "How do you print, again?"

But first, I had to make the computer lab presentable enough to hang my shortcuts.  I removed the old, black paper and left the blank bulletin boards.  I figured this was better than faded paper with tons of staples in it.  I added happy, polka dotted border to make it fun.

I taped the border to an old, green chalkboard, and since there was no chalk to be seen, I used my chalk markers and wrote the web address for the 2nd grade test we have to give each month, as well as my classroom website.  I want the kids to learn how to go to these sites on their own, so they can do it at home, too.  I'll add to this list throughout the year and also post websites that other teachers use.

You might remember this project from my Classroom DIY post.  I wanted to have pencils available in the lab, since my students have to take a monthly math test and I want them to work out the problems on paper to verify the correct answer.  We also use these math testing booklets full of allowable resources.
My classroom has 4 Mac desktops (refurnished and granted from Free Geek in Portland, OR).  I hung the page sized reference sheet for Mac shortcuts so students can refer to it to remember how to quit, print, even copy and paste!

If you are interested in hanging shortcut posters in your computer lab or classroom, you can check them out here!

Are you working on sprucing up any rooms in your school?  Maybe you are like me and have a computer lab in need of some love!  

I'm linking up with Katie from Queen of the First Grade Jungle!

Have you ever had a student who was so smart and had witty things to say, but you couldn't read their writing for the life of you?  I have at least one of those every year, that is why I have always added handwriting to my homework packets.

My daughter started learning to write letters in preschool and it reminded me that I should re-do my own handwriting packets to be TpT worthy!  Now we can practice them at home with a pencil, but I also laminated them so we can practice with a Hello Kitty dry erase marker (she wouldn't have it any other way!)

I even use this product in my 2nd grade homework - score for helping my children and students at the same time! :)

These are the pages I laminate for practice with dry erase pens

These are the pages I copy for homework practice

How do you teach handwriting?
My class LOVES art and I try to do at least one art project a week.  Sometimes it's a craft project with a writing piece, sometimes it's painting, sometimes pastels, and sometimes clay!  In Hawaii, we do have fine arts standards that I always reference.  For this quarter, my fine arts standard to focus on is: Describe different responses to the same work of art.

To kick start this, I showed the kids a copy of Claude Monet's Bridge Over Water Lilies painting.
We talked about the colors, the way the bridge arches, how there are plants in the water, but also reflections of the plants on the ground, how you can see hints of the sky reflected in the water, and also the style of painting: this painting doesn't look like a photograph, it's not realistic.

After our conversation, we did a project I found from The Crafty Classroom.

Using masking tape, you make a bridge shape on the paper, then using your finger, you dab on paint to create your picture.  We talked about which colors should be on the top for the trees and which colors should be in the water.  Unfortunately, I haven't gotten my new shipment of paint in yet, so I only had blue, red, green, and white for the students to use.  After the paint dries, you carefully rip off the tape to reveal a white bridge.
Here is my sample.  I did it quickly and didn't blend too well. That's ok, though, it's still cool!

If you have a great student art project to share, I'd love for you to link up!  Old and new posts are ok!  Just grab the button below, add it to your post, and link away!
Congrats to the winner of Stephanie from Falling Into First's Timeline Project.....

Julene!  Check your email, girl! :)
Adorable background by Sweet Times in First and frame by Tales from Outside the Classroom!
Thank you to everyone who entered!