Wednesday, August 31, 2011


For the month of September, I am thinking of focusing on Literacy Ideas.  I LOVE integrating subjects and tying everything together.  Sadly, it seems as though the only way to be able to fit art into my schedule (with a jammed pack core and list a mile long of things to fit it...including my reading program Treasures) is to integrate.  Besides, lessons like these are great to have on hand for substitutes and S-L-O-W days!  I have a crate on my back counter with stories & activities just waiting to share with my class this year!
Starting with a back to school book is Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes.
From Kinder Kraziness is a free "What's in a Name?" download (1 page) or a 13 page Chrysanthemum unit to print out.

Great ideas, including these name cards from Teaching Heart.
I really don't know where this idea originates from because I found it saved on my computer without a website.  If it's you, please let me know and I will leave a link, otherwise, I had it saved HERE.  Love the compare/contrast idea though!
Crazy For 1st Grade has this great little print out, including a letter to send home to the parents explaining what you are studying.  What a great introduction/get-to-know-you at the beginning of the school year!
First Grade and Fancy Free has a name graph available to print for FREE.  Great way to incorporate that math!
From The First Grade Parade, I L-O-V-E this idea!  Before reading the story, talk about how every student is different and unique and how they all have different names.  Hand a paper heart to one student, and as you read the story aloud to the class, have that students take turn crumpling the heart each time he/she hears and unkind thing being said.  By the end of the story, the heart will look pretty tattered.  Oh my...such a cute idea and great way to start off the year with anti-bullying.  Check out her blog for more instructions and details!
First Grade and Fabulous has a TERRIFIC unit on Chrysanthemum to download for FREE if you are interested.  It is a must have!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Back to School Gifts

Holy-moly-guacamole!  Can you tell that school has started back up for me...along with my cheesy sayings! LOL  I forgot just HOW BUSY the months of August and May are for me.  I am sure whether or not you are a teacher, you probably can relate to the chaos of it all!?!  I know I can't be alone on this!  Anyway...I did have a few back to school ideas to share.  Not so sure if all of you have headed back to school yet.  If so, you can file these ideas away for next year.  If you haven't, then you are in luck! 
From First Grade and Fancy Free, there are 4 different ideas with the printables, making this idea just too easy not to use!  What a fun idea to have these on the students' desks for back to school night or for the first day of school!
2 Clever Blog has a great way to enhance a book given to the teacher.  On the inside cover of the book, trace your child's had and write a little about what you did over the summer.  The girl who gave this gift, fed the monkeys over the summer, so the mom glued a picture of that even inside and chose the book 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.  I love how personal this gift is!  So cute!!
The Crafting Chicks has several great ideas.  If you like the "fry" container, there is a template to make one!
And a tutorial for this little magnet board.  Perfect for getting those notes on the {teacher's} desk out of the way!
From What's the Buzz in 1st comes this simply idea.  Put some Lucky Charms cereal in a baggie and attach one of her FREE downloadable tags!
Good luck to each of you as you enter a new school year!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Great Room Parent Tool!!

When I first began this blog, my primary purpose was to reach out to room parents in hopes of helping them out, since I was new and clueless to being a room mom myself.  I had the hardest time finding ideas (door decorations, parties, and more) so I decided to create my own site to help others in the same boat. Since that time, 3 years ago, I have returned to teaching (1st grade) full time.  My blog still shares ideas and tips for room parents, but it also offers teaching ideas.  I guess that is why my header says "Room Mom 101...where you can find ideas for ALL your school needs".  Hopefully my blog has and does help people do just that.  I feel like it does by all your nice comments and great followers I have now!!  You guys are GREAT!  Anyway...At the beginning of summer, I had the great opportunity of gaining a sponsor for my blog. A representative from Volunteer Spot contacted me in regards to my blog. (You might have noticed the green button in the top right corner of my blog?!?)  She told me all about her site and how it could greatly benefit Room Parents everywhere.

Looking back on being a room mom, one of the most time consuming parts of being was scheduling parents for class volunteers, holiday parties, and conferences. Lost clipboard signup sheets, long ‘reply all’ email chains, and phone tag – ugh! Some room moms give up and end up doing it all themselves. DON’T!
Instead, save time {and sanity} and try out VolunteerSpot's free online sign up sheets – it makes coordinating parents simple and easy! Just a few clicks of your mouse and you can have your class volunteer calendar all set up. Email the parents the link (or put it on your class website), they click and sign up – choosing when they want to read to the class, help at table-time, or what to bring to the class party. Automated reminders help parents keep their commitments and remind you if a parent doesn’t have an email address. Parents can even signup on the go – from their smartphone! It’s so easy it feels like you cheated ;)
VolunteerSpot has terrific free eBooks including a new Classroom Party Guide – with fun ideas throughout the year!
Volunteer Spot has made life much easier for many room parents AND teachers.  Check out some of these comments:

"I'm a HUGE VolunteerSpot fan - we signed up over 350 volunteers and it could NOT have been easier!" ~ Allie, Highlands SummerFest, Atlanta, GA

"Wow! You have saved me hours and hours of emails and phone calls. Thank you, VolunteerSpot!" ~ Joyce F., Kindergarten Homeroom Mom, Farifax, VA

"VolunteerSpot has been the answer to my prayers for an easy way to have parents sign up for a parent-teacher conference!! It was easy to create and easy for parents to use. It really cut down on paper and notes back and forth." ~ Jennifer, 4th Grade Teacher, Apex, NC

I am so excited to have such a great sponsor! They have been great to work with and I absolutely LOVE the idea behind this site.  If this is your year to be your child's room parent, or if you are a teacher looking for a new approach to scheduling conferences, head on over and check out Volunteer Spot!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Magic Playdough

Last night I stumbled across the neatest 1st day of school idea from Jodi at Fun in First.  Maybe you have seen or heard of this idea before, but this was the first time I had and I thought it looked so fun!  It's called "Magic Playdough".

The poem reads "Magic Playdough, oh so white, I make this wish with all my might.  If another color does appear.  We're sure to have a GREAT school year."  Basically, you make your own homemade flour playdough recipe (or head to Fun in First for the included recipe).  Leave it white, but in each portion, add a drop or 2 of food coloring to the middle, but DON'T knead it.  When the student pulls out their playdough and begins to play with it, they will see it change color.  Can you imagine the look on some of the younger students' faces?!?  I swear they would all think I was magic!  LOL  This seems like it would be a fun thing to have on the students' desks at either back to school night or waiting for them on the first day of school.

Jodi also had some other great 1st and 2nd day of school ideas on her blog, including some printables for writing.  Super cute!  Thanks Jodi for being so willing to share!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

All About ME

So this post isn't really all about ME, but it is filled with "All About Me" get to know you activities for the first of the school year.

Simply 2nd Resources created this great "All About Me" foldable book.  Check it out to see just how fun it would be to use!  I totally love it!

Here is a FREE "All About Me" poster download from Step Into 2nd Grade with Mrs. Lemons.  She copies this poster onto an 11 x 17 piece of paper so that it is just like the ones you BUY at the store!  What a great freebie.  These posters are always a lot of fun to use around birthday times!

For older grades, you could make one of these All About Me paper bag books!  This ideas is from Mrs. Sloane's Creations.
Your students can create an "All About Me" doll to represent themselves. 
(This idea was found on Dresses N Messes.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

All Things PIRATE!

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my classroom's current theme is pirates.  This post has several great pirate ideas in case you have chosen to use that theme as well!  Other themes to come, but if you haven't checked out The Clutter Free Classroom before, she offers get ideas, pictures and suggestions for classroom themes!!

Frogs, Bees and Under the Seas has a whole post about a pirate classroom including some of my own pictures!  Some of the great finds included in their post are these great little printable name plates.
First Grade Blue Skies is using this door:
and this bulletin board which says "Arrrgh you ready for ________ grade?"
  LOTS of awesome pirate ideas, including book suggestions from Mrs. M.  I really think the pirate glyph is great and it is included as a free printable from her blog!  Look how cute these guys are!  Looks like a great first of the year idea.
Crazy for First Grade has a treasure hunt idea (with a how to make your own authentic treasure map), pirate book suggestions and some SUPER pirate writing printables like this...

AND from another pirate post of her' things like these:
Read the room for AR and OR words:
and fun looking math games like this place value one:
A few binder printables from Mrs. Jump
Also from Mrs. Jump, are these great pirate ideas found in her TpT Unit, which I might just have to get!

A FREE Word Wall download on TpT thanks to Frogs in First.

Pirate kid craft ideas from The Crafty Crow.
I Heart Crafty Things made a cute pirate paper plate project with her kids as part of story time.  Love it!
Cottage Industrialist hosted a pirate themed birthday party, but if you scroll to the end of her post, you will find lots of great pirate printables!

Sweet Peas and Bumblebees shows you how to plan a fun pirate playdate with your kids.  Including this clever pirate map pizza.

Some pirate ideas (more for a child's party), but still super cute from Katherine Marie Photography.

Oh course since The Clutter Free Classroom has done a lot on classroom themese, I can't forget to link up to all the great ideas and pictures she has included for decorating a pirate themed classroom!  Thanks Jodi.
WOW!  I think that just about covers it!  I know there are many great pirate units out there on Teachers Pay Teachers, but too many to go down the list.  If you have a fun pirate activity, I would love to hear about it!!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

First Day of School Activities

This one is for the teachers out there...
I have found some really fun 1st of the school year ideas that I thought I would share.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear What do you See? is one of those great early reader books that uses repetition to teach reading skills.  Melissa from F is for First Grade, created a free downloadable version of First Graders, First Graders, What do you see?  Such a super name/getting to know you activity!  Totally using it!
Mrs. Mac @ First Class with Mrs. Mac created the original version of this book adaptation and you can print hers too!  Love it!
If you aren't a 1st grade teacher, and reading this, you might be able to find a version that would work for your grade level.  If not, this gives you the idea to create your own!
Twisty Noodle has a variety of great coloring pages for the first day of school.  These are great to have on the students' desks as they come in to class that first day!

Need a printable alphabet chart?  No problem, Judy @ KinderTastic has you taken care of!
I LOVE this name recognition activity...again geared towards the younger kids.  Have your student write their name with a white crayon on a white sheet of construction paper.  Then have the kids watercolor over the "invisible" name and watch it appear!  This idea was seen at Dresses N Messes.
Babbling Abby has a fun name idea too!  Man!  I love her fun to read!
For older grades, HERE is a great venn diagram the students can use to compare and contrast their summer to another student's summer vacation.
or HERE for a printable Back to School BINGO.
I could see the following form used to decorate a bulletin board.  Have the students fill out this Guess Who I Am form.  As the teacher, tape a piece of black construction paper to a wall and using an overhead projector, trace each student's profile.  Have them cut out what you have traced and mount the black profile picture onto a different color of construction paper to make it stand out.  Attach the form to the profile picture and walaa!

 Something that I did last year in my class (that I will continue to do) is with my pirate themed class, we go on a treasure hunt.  Really, this is my way of giving the students a tour of the school, but it adds a little spice.  First I read a pirate story (any will do).  During lunch is when I set things up because it gives me time to get things ready and by then the kids really aren't expecting anything.  When the students come back to class after lunch, I tell them I found an envelope on my desk addressed to the class.  Basically it is a typed up note from a pirate named Boris, who tells us he has left treasure in the school for us, but that we have to go find it.  I have notes/clues taped up around the school (that I pray an older grade student doesn't move during lunch!) and we walk around as a class following the clues until we find the treasure.  I have a treasure chest waiting at the end of the hunt filled with a treasure of some sort for each student. Last year the treasure was some pirate fruit snacks and pirate silly bands.  This year though I found these great little pirate zip lock bags in the dollar bins at Target.  I plan to fill enough bags with some kind of treasure.  I was thinking chocolate coins, plastic money, (gold foil wrapped) Rolos or something else piratey (yes, I just made up that word!)

What ideas do you have for the 1st day or week of school??

Friday, August 5, 2011

Back to School Gifts for the Teacher

If you are interested in giving your child's teacher something small to start the year, here are a few suggestions:
Oops!  I Craft My Pants (by the way I can't help but smile everytime I read her blog title!) has an idea of giving a bottle of lotion with the saying:  "We hope your school year goes smoothly."  Interested in a label?  She has them all ready for you to use, just head on over!
Eighteen25 used a jumbo calculator (which the dollar store carries) and attached a tag saying:  "According to my calculations...this is going to be a good year!"  Yup, you guessed it, the tag is there and ready for you to print!
The Rachel Berry Blog made these cute pencil bouquets for the teachers.  I think these would be for at any point during the year though.
And finally, this last idea is just completely RIDICULOUS!  I saw this idea on Pinterest and thought about how completely AMAZING this supply cake looks, but seriously, I think you would have to L-O-V-E your child's teacher!!  It might be a fun gift for the PTA to give to the office staff or have as a centerpiece at a back to school lunch though!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Back to School Pictures

When it comes to heading back to school, you can't leave out taking pictures of your own children.  Something about the first day of school, makes me as a mom, want to capture every detail of my child; their outfit, hair style, shoes, backpack, missing teeth and more.  Unless you have a great memory or are quick to label your pictures, you run the risk of forgetting which year was which and they could start blending together.  If you have nodded along with any part so far, then this is for you!

Make and Takes teaches you how to make your own speech bubble...FUN for so many different settings!
Don't want to make one?  Why not use Living Locurto's suggestion and go off the Pottery Barn inspiration.  (Click the link to see how her pictures turned out.) 
Buy a mini chalkboard from a craft store and write your info. on it.
The Crafting Chicks have a great check list to get you thinking of what kind of pictures you might be after and how to best achieve it.  These were some of my favorites...

Dad and son heading to the bus dang cute!
Friends hanging at the bus stop...with the backpack picture!

Let's face it, pictures can start to be embarrassing if your child is heading to middle/high school, but if you could snap a picture like would be so cool!

Last year I had my kids write on a paper their grade so that I would be able to capture their handwriting at that particular age too.  I love being able to see all the changes from year to year and I  thought that was just one more fun element to remember.  I love taking pictures of my children as it is, but I love how fun and memorable all these ideas are!  So...what are you waiting for?  Grab your camera and go have some fun!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Back to School Door Ideas

I'm not sure when everyone else starts back to school, but yesterday when my daughter reminded me that I only had 2 more weeks before I was required to be back, I freaked.  I have known all along, but it didn't actually register until she made that comment.  So with that in mind, I will be doing some posts on back to school for the next couple of weeks.
Here are a few back to school doors I have discovered.  I tend to decorate my bulletin board instead of my door to welcome the students back, but if you are the opposite, then hopefully these can help you.
Bright Hub used the students' names to create a word search on the door.
Adventures of the American Mind's art work is amazing!  Check out a few doors she has used...

From Bulletin Board Ideas, here is an idea using crayons.
Scrap and Teach made created her bulletin board (yes, I realize it isn't a door, but it was too cute not to share!) using her Cricut machine and theme of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
Have a door or bulletin board you think I should see?  Send me an email with a picture or leave a comment with a link so I can find and feature your idea!