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Back to School ~ With a Freebie!

Back to School ~ With a Freebie!



Excuse me while I dust the cobwebs away on this little ole' blog!  I may or may not have had to look up how to write a blog post .... it's been a while :)

I'm not sure about you, but summer seemed to sweep right in and FLY by!  I officially go back to school tomorrow with students and I'm wondering how summer is already gone.

BUT.... this year is going to be different.  I'm at a new school.... in a new school district.... with a new team and I couldn't be more excited!  Another reason to be excited..... my OWN two boys will now both be with me at school.   That's right.... my youngest little mess ball is heading to kindergarten!  #watchoutworld

So I officially have a kindergartner and a 3rd grader in the house!  Woo Woo!!   While I'm a little sad they are both growing up so quickly, this will be the first time as a mom that both of my kiddos will join me daily on the drive to school (and stay at school with me!)

Now... it's been since June since I typed on this blog BUT I must say that with a new job comes new trainings and this gal has been pretty busy! I had a few PD conferences in June and July and then *maybe* 3 days of relaxation and then it was right back to work....

SO.... if you have been like me, spending the last couple of weeks in back-to-school trainings, in-service meetings, Meet the Teacher events, and setting up an entire classroom, then hopefully this blog post will help you with filling in some of your first week lesson plans!


The first week is always (and should be!) filled with lots of fun getting-to-know-you activities, constant exposure to classroom procedures and routines, and did I say FUN activities?  This first week is so crucial in setting the classroom community.... so FUN (while of course meaningful) activities are necessary!

We all have our favorite back-to-school books that we dive into with our students, some on repeat every single year and some books making their first appearance this week.   Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is always one of those books that is on repeat (for me!)  I know some teachers are probably Boom Boom'ed out.... and tired of reading this fun and up-beat book, but I still ALWAYS make time for it!

Sooo.... since we also are getting to know each other in the classroom AND doing a lot of name activities, it's an easy book to tie into a name craft!

I whipped up some coconut tree templates, letter boxes, and a little rhyme chant and now the perfect little craft is ready for this week!  (probably toward the latter part down in kinder world!)



When I said, "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom",
All the letters came,
Down the coconut tree,
To help me spell my name

This activity is a great literature tie-in and exposure to letters!   Don't have the book?  There are some great read-aloud versions on YouTube as well with the music and up-beat tempo!


You can click on the picture below  or (HERE) to grab your copy of this little free craft :)



Sooo.... when do you head back to school?  Are you already back?  

Hopefully I will not let the cobwebs build back up on here and I'll be back soon with some fun activities and a few new products :)

Happy Teaching!



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Jessica Travis
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KINDER Games! {Letter Sounds}

KINDER Games! {Letter Sounds}



Hello Teacher Friends!

Just wanted to stop in today to share with you about Kinder Games!  I know... I know.... you probably just came in from the pool, or the movies.....you are NOT thinking about school.... but my brain can't shut off.... and I'm always prepping for something!

So.....  while I have only created this one pack so far, I do have my list handy of other Kinder Games packs that I will be creating..... but I did want to show you all about Letter Sounds today!


Now.... my FAVORITE thing about this pack (drum roll.....) it's ALL in black and white.  That's right.... time to save on some colored ink and bust out your Astrobrights paper!

This pack has five games that all address letter sounds.  These games can easily be used in small reading groups, morning work tubs, fast finishers, literacy stations, etc....  Where ever you see fits best!

Just to give you an idea of how I organize these....

I print each game on a different colored paper for easy identification and organization.  (All of game 1 is on blue paper, all of game 2 is on green, etc...)

I print the title page to match, paste it onto a large manila envelope, and tuck all the pieces of the game inside the envelope!



This simple organization easily allows me to see the activity/game from the outside without ever having to open it up and dig through it!  


Now.... for a look at each of the games inside:


Game 1: Match it Up!




In Game 1, students will simply match the letter to the picture that has the same beginning sound.  
You can also play this as a memory game where all cards are face down (pull out specific letters if you need to!) and select cards to find a match.



Game 2 - Same Sound!




In game 2, students will use the Same Sound mat and the letter/picture cards.  Students will need to place the letter in the top box and find the three pictures that all begin with that same sound.  

Again, for small group purposes, you can pull out specific letters that students are focusing on!


Game 3 - Roll and Cover!



In Game 3, you will need two (or more) players, dice, and different colored objects to represent each player.  

Students will roll the dice (one player at a time), and using the matching key card and board (key #1 with board #1), they will cover up a picture that begins with that sound. (use the key to know what number represents which letter.)

The first player to cover up four pictures in a row (like BINGO) is the winner!


Game 4 - Does it Match? 




In game 4, students will have two cards for each letter (one that matches and one that does not).  Students will have to sort the cards to the correct mat (yes, the letter matches the picture's beginning sound, or no the picture and letter do not match)



Game 5 - Clip the Sound



This station will need clothespins or paper clips.  
Students will identify the picture on the card and clip the letter that matches the beginning sound.

There is a card for each letter and I also included capital and lowercase letters so that students are exposed to both throughout the activity.


So..... 5 simple games... low prep..... and perfect for teaching/reinforcing letter sounds. 


You can grab this set on sale through tomorrow!!!

Just click here or on the picture below!



Happy Summer!



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Jessica Travis
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Ten Frame FUN!

Ten Frame FUN!



Happy Monday friends!

For those of you enjoying summer (like myself).... I hope you have your feet propped up with a good book or magazine in your hand (perhaps a yummy beverage!).... and for those of you still trucking through the last days.... you've got this!

Now... I've only been off a merely 4 official days... BUT.... I've already been thinking (briefly!) about next year!

I managed to get side-tracked on another project I was working on today and somehow I whipped up some new and fun ten frames for the beginning of the year!

Math is one of my ALL-TIME favorite subjects to teach.... but gosh it's a close tie with reading......

anyways...

Number sense is SO important for our students.  I know you know this.... but I stress.... it is SO important.... and it has become one of my favorite things about teaching math.  There are so many tools that we can use and utilize in our classrooms to help our students with their number sense foundation, but ten frames are one of the most popular strategies in the classroom.

Ten frames help our students visualize in base 10.  It prepares them for place value, addition, subtraction, number patterns, and so much more!

It's not only a simple question such as.... how many are on the ten frame?

With ten frames you can ask:

1. How many MORE to get to 10?  (great for decomposing!)

2. Find two numbers that make 10 (great for using two different colored counters)

3.  Greater or less than 5?

4. Why do we need two ten frames?  (great for numbers 11-20)

5. Great for teen numbers (turn the two ten frames up and down to represent place value blocks)


So.... I created this back-to-school themed pack of ten frames that I can't wait to use with my kiddos!

The activities in this mini-pack are perfect for small group math, morning work tubs, fast finishers, and your math stations in the classroom.

Here is what you'll find in the pack:



You will find 1/2 page ten frames with numbers 1-20.  

These are great for students to pull at random (out of order), and students will represent the number using some form of manipulatives (erasers, cubes, counters, stickers, dry erase marker, etc...)

For this example.... I had some googly eyes which I thought matched the little characters perfectly on the card!


or... you can even bring out the play-dough! 



Also included are:


Sometimes... you just need to practice with your own numbers, so I have included these blank single and double ten frame template mats!  




You can call out a number and students can represent it, OR you can use the included cards:


They can easily be put on a ring as you flip through them out of order, they can be face down in a pile, or even placed in a bag or bucket and pulled out a random for the students to represent!



I've also put in two different printables that you may want your students to do.  They can be a simple print and go.... or you can place into a dry-erase sleeve or laminate and let students use a dry erase marker to complete.  




I can't wait to use these with my students when we head back to school..... and you can grab them too...  (On SALE now!!!!)

Just click on the picture below or HERE:



Alright..... now off to enjoy some summer (until the next project starts!)



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Jessica Travis
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The FREE Calendar

The FREE Calendar


Well I have officially been on summer break for TWO whole days now.... however on day one, we were in the urgent care with the youngest.... who kicked off summer with strep throat :(

BUT..... we are on the road to recovery so we can start enjoying the perks of summer now!

-----

For the last two years, I have posted about the calendar that I use in my classroom and how it can all be yours for FREE!

So.... here is the calendar at a closer look:



I absolutely love this calendar set up because it allows me to include so many skills and spiraling in just a short time with my kiddos!

My favorite part.... the ten frames to help us count the days of school!!!


I use the little colored garage sale stickers to fill in the spaces, but other teachers use dry erase markers to fill in the circle, themed stickers, star stickers, etc....

During this time in calendar, I can easily incorporate number sense DAILY.... which is crucial for our little learners!

Things I do with the ten frames:

1.  How full is our ten frame? (what number?)
2. How many MORE to get to 10?  (hard skill.... but they catch on quick!!!)
3. How many tens do I have?  (how many full ten frames?)
4. How many ones? (how many stickers in the ten frame that is not full)
5. We count by 10's
6. We count by 5's - looking at each half of the ten frame

SO MANY SKILLS!!!!!

You will also find the weather, days of school template to help you after you complete the ten frames, as well as filling in the date:


Another part included:


All of the days of the week are included to help you fill in this chart above as well.   Each of the months are also included :)


I also have an abundance of little tubs and buckets (it's an addiction really!), but these little tubs from the Dollar Tree were the perfect way to hold my calendar pieces!


I attached them to my board using little Velcro dots.... and they worked perfectly!  If I needed to take them down to allow more student interaction I could.... 


This calendar set has been a freebie on my Facebook page for a while, but I get GOBS of emails stating that many people still do not have Facebook..... SOOOO.... the link below will get the calendar set for free as well!!

Just copy and paste into your browser :)

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B3VxoRRAmuUaUGcyRWxnRnFlQ1k/view?usp=sharing 


Hope you have a relaxing summer :)



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Jessica Travis
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Coming to an End....

Coming to an End....


By now you probably (most definitely!) have the exact number of days written down, whether on a cute little notepad, a paper chain in your classroom as you remove one each day, or just in your head.... of the exact number of days until you have your feet propped up enjoying Summer!

So many of us teachers are thinking "oh my goodness..... I can't wait for summer!"  or "Whew.... that was a rough year.... I don't know if I can handle another one like that".....    or perhaps even "How in the world did I make it through that year.... alive?"  

Whatever you are thinking..... add this into your thoughts:




So often we get so wrapped up into making summer come quickly (don't worry....  I am and I have been there too!)  but we often forget that many of our students are about to leave the most structured part of their life they have had for the last ten months.   

Your students may be counting down the days till summer too.... but for different reasons....
  they don't want to leave you!

I know, I know.... some of these students gave you a few extra gray hairs this year.... had you thinking about retirement..... maybe you used a personal day for some "me" time..... but you have heard that the most challenging students need our love and support in the most unusual ways.... usually by acting out or behavior. 

These kids are going to miss you like crazy!  

- - - - - -

So.... what will YOU miss the most about this school year?

You don't have to answer right away.  I just challenge you to think about what you will miss most.... because if you ask your students.... their answer will probably be YOU!


Don't get so wrapped up in wanting summer to be here.... savor the last few days with your students.... you were THEIR teacher.  They will forever remember YOU!  

Enjoy the moments.....



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Jessica Travis
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Brain Breaks: We ALL Need Them!

Brain Breaks: We ALL Need Them!


Let's face it.... whether it's the first day of school or it's the last week of school... our students NEED a break at some point throughout the day.

Now I'm talking about lunch or recess... or even PE.  I'm talking about giving your students an actual break from structured learning while still in the classroom! Many of our students don't know how to independently take a break from working.... in our eyes, their "break" is when they start talking to other classmates, asking to use the restroom, or even getting up and wandering around the classroom, which then leads the teacher to thinking that the student is not following directions.

SCARY (BUT TRUE!) FACT:

Take a child's age and add 2.  (example.... the child is 6, plus 2, your answer is 8)  Your answer is the maximum number of minutes that the student can be fully engaged in learning before needing a mental break!

IF a child has truly been labeled with an attention deficit disorder (ADD, ADHD, etc...), then you MINUS 2, leaving the amount of student engagement time even less!

SCARY HUH?!

Now think about your daily schedule.  How long are you having your students sit on a rug in the morning?  During Math?  I'm guessing it's for a MUCH longer time than they really need to be sitting!

This is where BRAIN BREAKS come in!  If you are not doing brain breaks in your classroom.... START NOW!  There are so many great things your can do so your students can have a break from structured learning and re-gain focus for better success!

Need some fresh (or even just need!) ideas?

I created a little pack just for brain breaks!

This pack has 36 different options that you can choose, ranging from 30 seconds up to 15 minutes, depending on the length of break you want to take!  You can choose one activity.... or up to as many as you like!

Here are some different options:


You can cut out the brain breaks and place on sticks (glue or velcro!) and simply just pull a stick when needing a break!  (You can have students pull as well!)



Select a few that you want to do throughout the day.  Place the cards into a pocket chart so they are visible for students.  Simply select (or let a student!) pick a card. This just lets them see the options for the day!


Want it to be a surprise?


Place all of the brain break cards into a bag and just pull a break out when needed!



These cards do NOT have to be the only breaks you choose from.  

You can use technology and pull up GoNoodle (which is also one of the choices in the brain break cards pack!) Set up a FREE account..... and you won't regret it!!!

You can also head on over to YouTube and search "Cosmic Kids Yoga" which has MANY different children-safe yoga videos ranging from 5 - 30 minutes.  AND .... each yoga episode tells a story!  My kiddos LOVE this!  It's also great for indoor recess!  




So.... it's not too late to start brain breaks.... and what better time to start than at the end of the year when our student's attention NEEDS to be refreshed often!!!!

You can check out the 36 breaks in the pack by clicking below:



Off to finish up some growing bundles.... plan for the week.... and enjoy the rest of Sunday!


Happy Teaching friends!!


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Jessica Travis
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Teachers: You are NOT alone!


Dear Teachers Everywhere,

I know many of you are probably counting down the days until summer.  Don't Lie.  We've all done it.  Maybe this is the school year that has you questioning why you became a teacher.  You have THAT class this year.  Behavior problems.  Lack of parent support. Maybe lack of administration support.  You are up to your elbows in things to do and the list keeps getting longer.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

We as educators have all been there (and may be there now).  You feel over-whelmed. Not all of your students are where you want them to be academically. Maybe you aren't getting along with a team member.  Your evaluation didn't go as planned.  You have a parent that just doesn't have a nice word to say about you.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Maybe you raised your voice more today that you would have liked.  You didn't have the *perfect* lesson today.  You ran around trying to make copies because you used your conference time to call a parent or went to an ARD meeting.  You forgot to email a parent or team member back.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Perhaps you have a student (or three) in your class this year that leaves you crying at the end of the day.  You can't quite put your finger on why their behavior is the way it is.  You haven't made that connection yet.  You don't how to make it better and your patience is fading quickly.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Maybe you are considering staying at home next year.  You have new baby on the way or  You have supplemental income that will allow you to stay home.  You don't know the best way to tell your administration or team in fear that they will be "mad" at you.  You're juggling with the thoughts of should you stay or should you leave?

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Jealousy.  Tell me it doesn't happen in the workplace and I'll call you a liar.  It's sad....but it's there.  Teachers are trying to "out-do" another teacher.  Teachers are marching up to the administration to gloat about themselves or to make another teacher not look as good.  Teachers are bashing other teachers because they are jealous. Some teachers have yet to understand that by working together you could achieve more success than ever before.... instead of trying to compete against one another.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

To the first year teachers..... I'm sure you are about to jump for joy after completing your first year of teaching.  and you should. You are in the greatest profession out there.  Give yourself a pat on the back because I know this year wasn't your easiest!

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

Guess What?!  Each and every single day that you step into your classroom... YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  You have a room full of students that absolutely adore you.  Many want to be you.  Some already think of you as the greatest influence in their life right now.  You were chosen to have this specific group students and you have to give them your everything!  A simple smile in the morning.  Greet them.  Let them share something special.  Look at them when they speak.  Acknowledge them.  It doesn't take much.  I know all of the stuff above happens in a school and sometimes we feel worthless.  We feel like we don't matter.  YOU MATTER.  You matter to your students.

I'll be the first to admit....Everything mentioned above is something that describes some point in my ten year teaching career.

So as you head into the last weeks of school.... the home-stretch I like to call it.... think of the reason we come to school each day.  It's not for the paycheck.  It's not to be overwhelmed or to see another teacher that we may not be the best of friends with.... it's for the kids.  Make every day count until the last day.

Just trust me when I say.... YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Teachers should support every other teacher.  We are the only ones who know how demanding, yet rewarding our job is.  No one else will understand a teacher.... except a teacher.  So teachers...... YOU GOT THIS!

Sincerely,
A teacher who has been there before!
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Jessica Travis
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