Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Decorating

I love to decorate for the seasons and for all the holidays. Easter is coming up and so I put away all the St. Patrick's day decor and got out the stuff for my Easter Table Decorating.
Easter Table Decorating - I love all the spring colors and baby chicks and bunnies. Easter Table Decorating - I love all the spring colors and baby chicks and bunnies here on my kitchen table.IMG_9864 My Kitchen buffet has some new pictures and cute little eggs everywhere.   I always start my Easter decorating in the kitchen, and do the Easter Table Decorating there first. Gotta have a lovely Easter Dinner table, now dontcha? Next I go into the entry way and decorate the little table there. Those are  two

areas I fuss over the most.

Easter Decorating is about done at my house. Yay.

Easter Decorating is about done at my house. YayNext I do my formal dining room Easter Table Decorating. Next I do my formal dining room Easter Table Decorating.I got a new rustic, whitewashed table and these cute blue nailhead trim chairs. I We got a new rustic, whitewashed, dining table and these cute blue nailhead trim chairs for the formal dining room. We hardly ever use this room except on holidays.Formal Dining Room table. I love the yellow and green and coral decor in here. Formal Dining Room table. I love the yellow and green and coral decor in here.I love to decorate the entry table with these cute bunnies, eggs and chicks. I love to decorate the entry table with these cute bunnies, eggs and chicks.IMG_9830 This sad Mr. Bunny lost his eye in a doggie-bunny stand off. Our bad boy Bruce bit it off. We called him Brucifer THAT day. snicker...

Then I do the coffee and end tables. I have gobs of stuff. I have to stay away from Hobby Lobby! Eek  I do the coffee and end tables last. I have gobs of stuff. I have to stay away from Hobby Lobby this month! Eek!

I love this little bunny pair on my living room end table. It goes with the brown/neutral decor in there. I love this little bunny pair on my family room end table. It goes with the brown/neutral decor in there.IMG_9843 Darling little "Chickies" and bunnies. My grandkids love this light up Easter Bunny house.Great Room end tables have lots of baskets of my favorite Mercury crackle mirror eggs. Great Room table has some of the leftover doo-dads. My 3 Easter bins are almost empty! Woot!


The kitchen island always has some bright and cheery flowers of some sort. These have some egg pics along with the florals.IMG_9845 These mercury mirror glass eggs are my favorites. I used to have more of them. But since the know how that goes. :D

I think I'll add some Easter Egg picks to the greenery all over the house. Maybe there IS an excuse to go look at Hobby Lobby tomorrow after all!!
I'm getting ready to spray paint these old chairs and this cute bench. But for now, they are covered in stuffed animals for the grands to play with. I'm getting ready to spray paint these old chairs and this cute bench. But for now, they are covered in stuffed animals for the grands to play with.

Josie girl was 3 in this picture. 

Easter Egg Hunt last year at our house. I love my little grandkiddos and watching them hunt for eggs. 
Next I'll do the grandkids' two tables for Easter Sunday Dinner. I'll have my Chicago peeps here sometime around Easter. So I will need two tables for all the 6 grandkiddos to sit. And THAT will be such fun! Happy decorating!  And Happy Easter!


Classroom Management Quiet Classrooms

I was asked the other day to help a teacher who was stressed out Keeping Kids Quiet in Classrooms. Certain kids in her class who were wreaking havoc and she was trying so hard to manage a bunch of little kids and keep smiling in the process.

Classroom Rules and How to have good Classroom Managment. How to have good Classroom Managment - some new tips and tricks.

In 21 years of teaching kids I've found lots of ways of Keeping Kids Quiet in Classrooms or large groups, at school and at church. I have my favorites but I've used all of these, especially years I have had lots of students, some of which were unruly (my highest group was 30) or the years I have had wild squirrels. :D

1. Attention Getters. I have used bells, puppets who talk,  rainsticks, chimes, whistles, and clapping 3 times in different rhythms or counting backwords, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Rainsticks work well for attention grabbers because you can hear their unusual sound but it is not a loud noise to disturb other classes like a bell is. I don't use my rainstick that often, but it is a quiet attention getter that won't ruffle any of the other teacher's feathers. I had a neighbor teacher who beat a drum. That was NOT my favorite attention getter. haha.

An attention getter can just be a funny noise you make. One year when I bought my boys train whistles when we visited a train attraction at the zoo, I bought one for my classroom. I'm sure the other teachers within earshot LOVED that one. But it worked.  I also had a clicker I still use sometimes. It was very small and handheld and unobtrusive. All these things work for a while.  I also whisper "If you can hear my voice put your finger on your nose". That is a good one when there is pandemonium, and you need instant attention getters. I've always wondered why during art production it is always noisy and the kids just HAVE to stand up. I've never figured that out. lol.

When I've had very young kids a puppet walking across their desk works great as an attention getter AND a motivator. When I've had very young kids a puppet walking across their desk works great as an attention getter AND a motivator. I have 3 types of chimes; here are 2 of them. Situate them in different areas of the room, or just get some small metal bells to shake.

2. Team or Table Points. I have used tally marks on the board with table names to manage my classes. I also seen monthly charts with a picture (i.e. gumball machine and add sticky dots for the gumballs), or I have used Small, colorful Rubbermaid or other unbreakable containers with colorful pom poms  for warm fuzzy table points. Also you can use Cute charts with check marks.  Sometimes I put up the "Mystery Motivator" where a team earns a surprise by spinning the spinner after earning 20 points, and secret prizes are behind each one (free pencil and eraser, treat from treasure box, 15 minutes of free time, etc.).

warm fuzzies
Warm Fuzzies for Table Points.....use any kind of container. I use Rubbermaid with colorful lids. 

Behavior Cages from First Grade Nest.
Behavior Cages from First Grade Nest. Cute way to do table points. She must give out tickets or coupons of some sort.

Some years I have had to use all of these! And that is  because by the time you get to March, nothing you have used previously during the year, is working as well anymore. Just like when my own kids started to slack off on piano practice, I had to come up with new charts and motivations.

So when the tattle-tales start whining daily, I will pull out a "Getting Along" chart with stickers for any day we have no tattle tailing or fighting on the playground. When they get to 20 stickers, they get a party at the end of the month. Prizes can be as easy as popsicles or a piece of licorice,  or a popcorn party for whole class or  short Reading Rainbow movie. The Mystery Motivator can be used whole class toward the end of the year too. Using teams to earn things is less expensive though.  Just a tip. :D
behavior race
Charts for motivation are easy to make. This one is from The Teacher Wife  HERE. Other free ones I found HERE at Coloring Pages Co.

3. Whole Class Motivators.  I have used marbles in a jar for whole class and a prize when the jar is filled (something easy like a lollypop for each child). I have also used a giant Happy Face on the board where I add names inside who each get a prize. When you do this one, tape up a picture of the actual reward on the board. (bag of suckers, tootsie rolls). I have also used a big piece of butcher paper with something drawn on it that they are working towards (Cupcakes for recess for instance, or Extra P.E. Day). Sometimes I will have them work for things I would give them anyway like pots and seeds for planting,  or new rulers. I've done bubble parties; you could use this as a possible class reward party.

Bubble Party is pretty easy and cheap to do whole class. I have accumulated lots of bubble wands over the years to make it easy. Bubble Party is pretty easy and cheap to do whole class. I have accumulated lots of bubble wands over the years to make it easy.
IMG_9895 A Springtime Sidewalk Chalk party is a great motivator in the Springtime. That is also when you NEED something new to dangle as a carrot!

4. Individual Child Strategies. Individual behavior desk charts, Clips that go on up and down a Happy/Sad/Superstar Classroom chart, Quiet Critters on the desks, Strip of Care Bears that I tear off one at a time for infractions. Individual crazy rewards like sitting in the teacher's chair that they work for weeks to earn.
Mine is similar to this cute one from            It has the ability like mine (which is happy to sad faces) to go up and down all day long. Mine is similar to this cute one from It has the ability like mine (which is happy to sad faces) to go up and down all day long.

Sometimes having something on their desk like a chart with 15 -25 graph paper grids is for a real severe talker or yeller. Then anytime I see them quiet I walk over and put a happy face inside, or a punch, or a sticker. I have found the punch and sticker to be labor intensive, but the happy face they will cheat and draw on themselves, so choose your poison.  My Superstar chart works very well because they can go up and then down, and then up again in any given day. HERE at TPT is a free one but there are dozens just like them to print out if you type in "free behavior charts".
Individual behavior Punch Cards are easy, but you have to carry around the hole punch with you in a pocket. Freebie printable HERE at Individual behavior Punch Cards are easy, but you have to carry around the hole punch with you in a pocket. Freebie printable HERE at 1st for Everything.

Quiet Critters you can get little erasers from the dollar store in any kind of design from animals to spaceships to fairy princesses. Or you can use tiny beany babies or owls or frogs made from felt. They get their critter moved over to the edge of their table if they are noisy. But get it taken away if the infractions are repeated.  I have never tried this one. But it sounds cute.

Care Bear strips I've used for kids who just can't stay in their seats. It works wonders. If they have 3 bears left on their strip at day's end they get a treat. Tear off a bear every time they get out of their seat or yell out. Also kids that pinch, push or poke this works well to wear down and shave off the behavior. Usually they have poor impulse control, and this helps teach them how to recognize and manage it.

This is an idea for making Quiet Critters. They could also be decorated rocks or large erasers in the shapes of animals.
Quiet critters on desks might be a fun way to manage behavior too! 

This is an idea for making Quiet Critters out of felt that would be easy.  They could also be decorated rocks ( I picked up 30 a few years ago from Bear Lake Beach that were black and smooth that were perfect) or large erasers in the shapes of animals.  HERE are some easy ones to make.

The real hard-core chatterboxes sometimes need individual motivations. You just have to find out what they want. Dangle that carrot once you figure it out. One hard one I had loved pop tarts and soda pop. So I bribed him not to scream and cry for a whole day and he'd earn from a box of things like color books, comic books, and hot wheel cars. It saved my sanity.

You can also add free things like sitting by a friend for the day (sometimes backfires) or sit in the teacher chair, or go visit big brother's classroom for 10 minutes. These are  free and are heavyweight rewards. Think "bribery" and find positive things they might "work hard" for.

My lollypop tree. Kids love to come up and pick a Dum Dum Sucker.
My lollypop tree. Kids love to come up and pick a Dum Dum Sucker.

5. Distraction. Lastly, when nothing else is working on those days you have had snowy, inside days, or after a field trip, when kids are high as a kite, distraction is the thing that works best, in my opinion. Have a "clean out your desk break" or a "brain break" and do a short game, or push ups and jumping jacks for 5 minutes, if the problem is boredom. Or come over to the rug area and read a story book to quiet them down, or go out for an extra recess, or tell them what you did last night, or sing a song.

brain breaks

Get this freebie to use for one style of Brain Breaks HERE. I would change some of these to physical things like jumping jacks, and push ups.

Think of them as little toddlers that are about to touch the hot oven. Distract them with noise, change of scenery, a story, or some fun stretching for a moment. And remember, that your PERSONAL LIFE is always attracting for the kids to hear about. You have the power to change the atmosphere from moment to moment in your classroom by just the way you speak to them. Whisper some kind of instructions, or tell them to all put their heads down for 2 silent minutes, Write this word on your arm with a finger, Pat your neighbors on the back. Try distraction. It helps all day long.

This is one of my favorite videos on how to get the class on board with rules.

6. Consequences. If you have become a dog and pony show and you've tried your level best to do positive reinforcement in your classroom, remember that you can always try some consequences. My basic consequence is missing 2 minutes of recess or computer or p.e. It doesn't seem to be too harsh, but it gets them to think about their actions in class. I talk to them privately in the back of the room during this two minutes of quiet time,  getting a promise they will try harder to fix their offense.

Think time is  a good last resort, where they go to another classroom for 8 to 10 minutes and have to write a sentence on how they will change their behavior when they return, and a yes or no circled if they think they can do it. Sometimes just that agreement between two teachers to take on a think time child, is so helpful to diffuse an emotional situation where you just both need a break.

We made these buses out of egg cartons a few years back and wrote about our class rules. Then we took pictures of all our friends and chose a few to "ride our bus". We made these buses out of egg cartons a few years back and wrote about our class rules. Then we took pictures of all our friends and chose a few to "ride our bus". Check out THESE Printables  for consequence cards to use in a classroom.

7. Praise. There are all kinds of rewards you can give for good behavior. But the one that is the easiest and gets the quickest result of all is praise to the kid next to the misbehaving kid who you notice and praise. I will ask the class to give "happy snaps" for so and so who is sitting on their pockets with eyes and ears on me. Or sing the song "good job, good job, g double o, d-j-o-b, good job" just sing it in a sing songy tune. The kids start to join in and it is fun and delightful for the kid I'm singing it to.

Or just a simple "thank you for working so hard at.....I really like that Joey" looking right at the child at his/her level while you speak. It will work for a struggling child when they have shown progress for a few moments. I helps with whole class quietness during a lesson, it helps with a table that is particularly clean or orderly.

Easter Decorating is about done at my house. Yay.
Add a few of these ideas to your "BAG OF TRICKS" to help Keep Kids Quiet in the Classroom.

Hopefully with a Bag of Tricks at your disposal, you can improve your classroom management a little bit. I'm always learning new things and it is my 21st year. :D

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Weather Activities

Springtime Poetry and Kite art and Weather Activities. 
 Well, Springtime in my classroom means we do some weather activities.
We write about things that happen in the spring including flowers, sports, bugs, baby animals, and all kinds of weather! 

We sing the song below about Clouds to the tune of "Itsy Bitsy Spider". 
We will be starting our weather unit when we go back on track.
Spring is the perfect time to start since we get all types of crazy weather in springtime. 
Weather activities are really interesting and fun to kids of all ages. 
We will make some Cloud Flip Books and write facts underneath each type of cloud picture. Then we'll add the cotton balls to depict each type of cloud.

 Here are the cotton ball clouds and the name of each type of cloud.

 Cloud flip books...they turn out really neat.

This poem I typed up and we put one on the back of our Cloud Flap Books. I always do poems on the back of art for shared reading. It is so good for kids to practice those sight words while singing.  We will sing them to a familiar tune like ABC song, Jimmy Crack Corn, or Row Row Row your Boat. 
. Check out the Scholastic News website for great info and pictures on Clouds. I order the Scholastic News every year. A lot of times I save the science ones to use with my units.
For more Weather Activities we read this Cloud Choral Reading and these 2 books on Clouds and the Cloud Poem too! 
The Weekly Reader/Scholastic News have a product called Science Spin that I've saved over the years. I order that every year for an extra dollar or so  per student. I use them because I have no science textbooks. I also order a lot of science reading literature and always keep it at the SCIENCE CENTER. It is the most popular center most days. 
The Cloud Book By dePaola, Tomie

Cloudette By Lichtenheld, Tom 
I've accumulated quite an array of weather books over my 20  years of teaching. Here are a few. The two above are my favorites.
Some of the Weather Books and Scholatic News on weather we read during weather week.....
The next day we did some Water Cycle Activities. We Read a Weekly Reader on the Water Cycle that had a cool diagram.
We made these Water Cycle Wheels too...I like the vocabulary listed ...we test on two of these words; evaporation and precipitation on our weekly vocab quiz. A Cloud and Weather Vocabulary word sort can be found HERE  free at TPT.

I loved this water cycle activity pack that I found FREE from TPT. Check it out HERE. It was easy for my kiddos. The water cycle wheel I got from another teacher I believe she got it from a book.
Another thing I usually do is have the kids make a wind pinwheel  for an ART ACTIVITY as part of learning about tornadoes and hurricanes. It is just made with a square, and we curl up each triangle and pin it to the top of a new pencil eraser with a straight pin. Get a mom helper to go around and help with this for young kids

. Then we go outside on a windy day and watch our creations twirl. This one had some cute stars and swirls kids colored on it. Print up your pinwheel on regular colors of paper (not cardstock, too heavy to twirl) and let them decorate them.

I got this from another teacher, but I've done them just with a square too. You do the cutting before passing them out. 
Pinwheels are a fun way to start the day learning about wind and all the types of windy weather and the damage it can do.

Some free weather stationery is HERE. And HERE is a printable of all types of weather in a cute blackline from Scholastic that you could use to make your own magnet matching game like mine below. You do have to subscribe to Scholastic and pay a small fee to get these though. I bought my game below from a teacher supply store.
This was a  WEATHER center game I added magnets to the back. I have a magnet center made butting two filing cabinets together at the backs.  I left all the weather books at the Science Center along with this game. 

I'll also begin talking about taking care of our world and being a part of Earth Day which is coming up in a month. That will be our next unit. 
I have an auto harp I play and the kids love singing songs to the music. HERE was a water cycle song we sang to the tune of "IT'S RAINING IT'S POURING".  I also have  about 2 dozen types of instruments and some drums and xylophones so we never lose interest in singing to science texts.

Check out my store above to see some great deals on musical instruments. I especially love the blue boxed xylophone. It was only $20.00 and I bought 3 for my classroom. The kids love to get them out when we sing and 2 kids will pay them to keep the rhythm with bells. Here is a pack of freebies from TPT Check it out!
The Water Cycle poster I keep up while we are doing our water cycle wheels and singing our songs.

Here is another Water Cycle Song:
Tune: Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush
Here we go round the water cycle, water cycle, water cycle.
Here we go round the water cycle, each and every day.
The ocean water evaporates, evaporates, evaporates,
The ocean water evaporates and makes tiny drops.
The clouds condense to make a raincloud, make a raincloud, make a raincloud,
The clouds condense to make a raincloud, and some feel heavy!
The heavy drops precipitate, precipitate, precipitate,
The heavy drops precipitate, to make water accumulate. (puddles, lakes, rivers, and underground wells)
Then it's time to start again, start again, start again,
Then it's time to start again, the never ending Water Cycle!

 I have lots of books on the results of Wicked Weather. And Tornados and Typhoons come along right when we are discussing weather damage.
 This is a Tornado Tube. I put 2 empty 2 liter bottles together with one of them filled with water. The kids loved coming up and twirling it around till it made a tornado. You can get the Tornado Tube from Steve Spangler Science. I think it is about $3.00 plus shipping.

If we have time a fun weather puzzle with the 3 types of violent weather types (lightening, tornadoes and hurricanes) is lots of fun. We glue them down after discussing safety during each one.
I had the kids put together a page of  3 cool puzzles; tornadoes, hurricanes and lightening. This is what it looks like before .

The last thing we do is make a thermometer with paper. Check it out HERE. We talk about hot and cold, cool and freezing weather and what temperature each type of weather would be. (Hot 80 to 100, Cool 50 to 60, Warm 70 to 80ish,  Freezing 30 and below. Then I showed them lots of coats, sweaters, bathing suits etc. and asked what temperature each would be. They hold up the little pictures with the words hot, warm, cold etc.
We made thermometers and learned what temperature spring, summer, winter and fall weather would be....

A few more worksheets are at Superteacher Worksheets.. Then we did some temperature worksheets like these Here at We had a great time learning about WEATHER!

A weather crosswordHERE at Another one is HERE at  Some years I have them  write a story after reading Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.

Above is a fun WATER CYCLE SONG. A cool reader's theater script I found on the story of the water cycle can be printed free HERE at Grandview Library. It is from Enchanted Learning. It's cute and would make the kids use their imagination. These are some cool Youtubes I found that the kids like. I have a hard time choosing between them but I usually show one or two during the 2 week unit.

Weather videos from Youtube great for learning about Weather and introducing vocabulary for the unit. 

Water Cycle Youtube with some fun singing.
Another cute song....on CLOUDS! In the book CLOUDY WITH A CHANCE OF MEATBALLS there are lots of bad weather days, where food rains all over the city. It is fun to write funny stories about our favorite foods raining on our city in  Utah.
Some Weekly Readers and Language Arts writing we d0.... Some years I've done the I Can poem above. 
We used THIS STORY WEB to begin with problem, solution, setting and characters. A fun website that has lots of fun online graphics and activities is at Webweather's site.  
water vapor 
cirrus cloud
 stratus cloud
nimbus rain cloud
 cumulus cloud
 violent weather
Here were some of the WEATHER vocabulary words we studied for the week and added to our science pocket chart too. Weather is one of my favorite units to teach. The kids all love learning about it.

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