Monday, July 18, 2016

Christmas in July Sale!

Hi friends!  I am slowly getting my classroom together, and I am SO ready to get back into blogging!  I can't wait to share pictures of some new additions to my classroom!  In the meantime, I am joining my Blog Hoppin' pals to throw a little Christmas in July sale in my TpT shop--all this week!  (I will have more items on sale than shown in each picture--those are just a few examples!)

Sunday, January 24, 2016

It's Been Awhile...

Sometimes life throws you storms.  Just a few months ago, my hubs and I went on a much awaited date, while my mom was watching my kids.  We had just sat down to eat, when I noticed a missed call.  My mom's voice on her message didn't sound like her.  Her speech was slurred and she was trying to say she didn't feel well.  I immediately called her, and knew something was wrong, so we jumped in the car to head home and called an ambulance on the way.  Those moments were terrifying.  My sweet Emma was there (all dressed in her Doc McStuffins gear) to let in the paramedics--and they took my mom to the ER as we were driving up to the house. It was just a little while later we found out my mom had suffered a stroke.  Then the following day, as they were running tests, they left us shocked and broken-hearted when they said they found a mass.  On her lungs.

So, friends, it's been awhile since I've blogged or created.  Mainly because life has given us a storm.  I have spent everyday of the past few months worried about my mom.  Chemo has taken a toll on her, and she has been in and out of the hospital, fighting this disease with all that she has in her.  We are holding onto hope, and to God's promises.  He is faithful, even in the storms.  But it is still hard.  I love my mom.  I hate cancer.

After each round of chemo, we celebrate her being another day closer to kicking cancer--with a cupcake, of course.   

Anyway, I hope to get back to blogging very soon.  I have been finding some joy in creating again, and I can't wait to share some of the things that we have been doing in the classroom lately.

Please keep my mom in your prayers!  She is so precious to me.

Much love,

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Kick off the school year with Kevin Henkes

I don't think my beginning of the school year would feel right if I didn't have my Kevin Henkes books.  Starting day one, I always share my ultimate favorite--Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse--to help  introduce our class rules.  Lilly is awesome, because she is just like that "one student".  You know the one--everyone has one...personality and spunk for days, but mischievous and quick, too.

The mouse books are ideal for our "All About Me" unit of study--because we discuss character traits and describing words for each of the characters (which all have human characteristics and feelings)! After creating all of our character trait maps (see below), I like to have the students tell me which mouse character they think they are the most like.


This year during our study, I also plan on using my newest creation, The Mouse Album!

I can. NOT. wait.  The kids will illustrate each character in the album, and then reflect by responding to comprehension questions, making inferences, using vocabulary from the books, and writing and/or doodling their text to self connections. (Click the picture below to purchase.)  
Other Fun Things I Have Found {a.ka. I Have a Shopping Problem}...

I found these stuffed animals on Amazon last year.  The kids absolutely adore reading with them.  Sometimes I will even use them as a reward.  "Whoever is working super hard today will get to have Lilly or Penny sit on their desk!"


In related news, did you know that Kevin Henkes is releasing a new book this fall???  I have already pre-ordered my copy, because...well, I just HAD to have it!

At the end of our Kevin Henkes author study, I love showing movies of the stories to make the characters really come to life!


Thursday, August 6, 2015

A "Beary" Fun Meet the Teacher!

I met all 21 of my precious littles tonight.  And it was a whirlwind, as usual.  I spent all afternoon praying over my new class, and putting together treat bags filled with gummy bears.  I only ate about one million of them.  #truth  There are so many cute treat ideas, I couldn't decide what to do. #thankspinterest ....I almost did teddy grahams, but the gummy bears are more colorful.  Plus, I like to eat them...obviously.  

If you'd like the tags, you can download them here! (Sorry, I only have first grade tags, but I love you all!  I'm just meet the teacher tired.)  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Meet the Teacher Tips, Ideas, & Freebies

I love Meet the Teacher night, even though it STILL makes me a nervous wreck--and this will be my 10th year--HA!  (New teachers, sorry--even the first day of school still gives me butterflies.  I think it's totally normal.  Or maybe it's just me.  Don't know for sure.)  Anyway...

I love meeting my new students and their parents!  And, though I know the parents want to talk to me too, I try to focus most of my attention on my new little friends.  Those first interactions with the kids are SO important.  I want them to feel welcomed, excited, and comfortable in their new classroom.  I want to begin building trust--because, let's face it, MOST of the kids are going to be pretty nervous.  They are also probably wondering, "WHERE is my Kindergarten teacher? Who is this lady???" So I SMILE, lean down to their level, and ask them lots of questions--mostly about what they've been up to all summer.  If I am with an extremely shy little friend, I ask if they want to look around their new classroom, or I'll show them pictures of my family and my dog out of my autobiography booklet that I bought here.   (One of my most used and favorite TpT purchases ever!) I always get a smile when they see a picture of my pug, Teddy!  Basically, I just talk their little ears off, and I smile so much that my face hurts afterward.

I have a classroom blog, and I know many parents check it out before school begins.  I write a welcome note to my students on the blog, and then I try to follow it up with a few reminders about Meet the Teacher night for the parents.  Last year, I posted these informational posters on my class blog prior to the big night:

Tips to make things run smoothly!

Our class supply list with PHOTOS!  There was some confusion in years past about certain supplies we asked for--so I figured the photos would help when they are out shopping!

I also included my class wish list, which I put on display in the classroom on Meet the Teacher night, as well.  The wish list changes from year to year.  {I am so thrilled that many of these items are actually on our actual supply list this year!}

I haven't always used folders for meet the teacher--I used to just neatly lay out all the papers that needed to be filled out on each child's desk.  It got a little confusing, and parents weren't sure what should stay and what should go home with them.  I love using the folders because it makes the desks look clean and tidy.  The inside pockets of the folder are clearly labeled with items parents need to fill out and leave with me, and which items they should take home (I paper clip all the take-home items together as well).  I also ask parents to leave the folders so that I can reuse them the following year!

Inside the folder, I place a "Meet Mrs. Cooley" letter, and a sealed envelope (OH, the MYSTERY of it all!) that has a night before first grade letter/poem and a little baggie of jitter glitter!  You can download your free copies of the label and letter under my "freebies" tab!

Parents also fill out a student information form (really just home contact info.) and 
labels for transportation...which you can read more about below:

The most important information I get from the parents at Meet the Teacher is HOW their child will go home from school the first couple of days, and then the remainder of the year. The parents are responsible for filling out labels with their child's name and transportation for the first days.  I check, double check, and then triple check each child's transportation information on the first day of school. The last thing anyone wants to do on the first day is send a kid home the wrong way!  As a matter of fact, on the first day of school, I start prepping for dismissal about 35 minutes before the bell rings.  I stick the labels the parents filled out on each of the kids, check them against my list, and then do a practice line up and we talk about/model that no one should ever leave the dismissal line until Mrs. Cooley says their name, looks at their tag, and says goodbye.   I may be a little obsessive about dismissal.  It just stresses me the most out of anything!!!


Oh, how I love the school supplies!  One of the main tasks I have the parents do is help me to sort their child's supplies--it doesn't take them but a few minutes, and their help saves me oodles of time for the days when I need to be planning for the first day of school--and labeling every notebook in THE WORLD.  (Doesn't it seem like that?  Labels for days, I tell you!)  To help the sorting go smoothly, I have signs & buckets at the front of the room for community supplies, and then a PowerPoint slide showing which items should be placed inside their desks.

{Download your free copy of these supply sorting station posters here.}


And because Meet the Teacher is all about the kids, I make sure to have a little something special for my new first graders to take home.  

I gave out rock candy last year, and it was a hit!

 I matched the rock candy to the tiffany blue in my room--like the kids care--ha!  I thought it was cute, though. :)

I have seen so many amazing ideas for goodies to send home, and I can't decide what I would like to do this year--but here are a few ideas with links for you:

Mrs. Gilchrist's Class
Pop Rocks could be a little cheaper option than rock candy!  Dollar Tree usually carries them!

First Grade and Fancy Free
This is so cute.  And who doesn't love a Little Debbie cupcake!?  Yum.

Love that label!  And I bet one box of cereal would be enough to fill snack sized baggies for the whole class!

Last, but not least, I always have a few volunteer forms on display on the front board.  I keep it simple.  Basically, there are 3 main jobs parents can sign up for:

1.  Room Mom
 The last couple of years, I have been sure to add a list of some of the room mom responsibilities to the sign up page--I think some aren't sure what the job entails!  Some moms are hesitant to sign up because they have jobs or small children--so I always leave it open for several moms (or dads) to sign up to work together! 

2.  Class Party Helpers
Even if a parent isn't able to be a room mom or dad,  many are willing and able to send items for parties, or offer to help the room mom plan the class parties.  After Meet the Teacher, I just send that form home with the new room mom, and she can contact those parents when it is time to plan for the parties!  

3.  Volunteer at School
This form is for any parents who can come in one day (or even just a few hours in the week) to help laminate, cut, copy, etc.  I have only had maybe one or two years in which no one could come.  {It doesn't hurt to ask!}  Sometimes the room mom will take over this duty, as well.  These volunteers are incredible--at our school, many come in on Thursdays or Fridays and help get things ready for the following week.

Here are examples of the volunteer forms I use:


Well, that's how I tackle Meet the Teacher!  Our Meet the Teacher is this Thursday!  
I am so very excited to begin a new year, and see all their sweet little faces!  

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Grand Prize REVEAL!

Have y'all had fun hopping around to all 18 of our Bash Baskets?  If you haven't done that yet, please start HERE and make sure you do!  You only have until midnight on August 2nd to enter!  You may be thinking "Ohhh, I'm not lucky enough to win... I never get picked for prizes...There's just no way that my name will be selected!"  But, I would say:  YOU NEVER KNOW UNTIL YOU TRY!  So, go for the gold, folks!

Here's what you NEED to do FIRST... like RIGHT NOW!  We are doing an Instagram Hop with a secret message.  This secret message MUST BE entered on the Rafflecopter below or you will NOT be chosen as a winner!!!!  Look for THIS graphic on Instagram.  THIS graphic will start the secret message.   Hint:  You'll start with @stepintosecondgrade
You might want to grab a sheet of paper and a pen so that you can collect all letters as you are doing the Instagram hop because YOU MUST COLLECT THE SECRET MESSAGE!  Here are some tips for your Instagram Hop!
Don't have an instagram?  Well, sign up so you can enter the grand prize basket!!!  If you start in the right place and follow the order then all of your letters will nicely flow into one message :)  If you go out of order then you will have to unscramble the letters to make a word, and no one wants to do that!!!

So, let's talk about the Grand Prize!  This is the LARGEST, MOST AMAZING, INCREDIBLE Grand Prize ever... in the history of teacher giveaways!  
Your eyes are not deceiving you, that is a REAL Smartboard!  Whitlock (a Smartboard distributor) generously donated a Smartboard to our giveaway!  Isn't that amazing?!!!  Do you want to know all the details about the specific Smartboard and if it will work for you?  Look HERE!!

Whitlock will ship the Smartboard to the winner (continental US only!).  It comes with a projector and all software needed!!  The winner will need to have a way to mount the Smartboard AND will be in charge of maintenance after installation.  We want to make sure we lay it all out there before you enter :))  I'm sure that your school or district would be happy to help if you were the winner!
And, that's not all, y'all!  The winner will also receive a Silhouette Cameo and a One-Year ESGI Subscription!  OHMYWORD!!!

Once you have collected the secret code from our Instagram Hop, you can enter below!  You only have 24 hours, so don't delay!!!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Bash Basket #12: Carson Dellosa!

Today is the day! Our Back to School Bash is all kinds of ready for you to ENTER to win it BIG! We have EIGHTEEN {YES! EIGHTEEN!} amazing bash baskets for you this year! At each blog you will find a little bit of info about the prize that you can win, a Rafflecopter to enter, and a button to hop on over to the next blog! While you are hopping around, we would love for you to follow our blogs so that you will always be "in the know" about what's going on. You will even be able to pick up some pretty nice teaching tips as well throughout the year! So let's get this thing rolling! 

I am beyond excited about Bash Basket #12. If you are needing some new and wonderful decor for your classroom this year...this is the place to be! 

Bash Basket #12: Decor Bundle from Carson Dellosa! 
I mean, how DARLING is this set?  I am in love with those letters.  And I need those pocket charts in my life.  Does anyone else just get downright giddy when their catalog arrives in the mail?!   Be sure that you follow Carson Dellosa's Facebook page and Instagram! I love following them to check out pics of their new decor sets and bundles!  It inspires me!    
You can click on the pictures below! 

The winner of this Bash Basket will also receive a Whisper Phone Select which will be the most amazing resource for your small groups!  

And we're not done yet. Need some back to school resources? The winner of this basket will receive a link to a folder containing all of these resources below. 

Image Map

Do you wanna win? Enter right here! 
a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hurry! Hurry! Hop on over to Rachelle & Natalie at What the Teacher Wants to see what they have in store for you! 

Thanks so much for joining us for our 3rd year of back to school fun! And also a HUGE thanks to our sponsors for being so generous and so supportive of teachers! And you ain't seen nothin' yet! How is that for some grammar? ;) Seriously, the grand prize this year is out of this world! So make sure you check it out on Instagram on August 2nd! 


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