Teacher Inspiration~ DIY Table Organizers

Here is an idea for customized tubs to organize student supplies when you don’t have desks or cubbies to keep them in. I created these to house the materials I wanted to keep at my students finger tips. For us in kindergarten we needed bags of crayons and two sets of folders. Other supplies like glue, scissors, and markers I keep in caddies that we pull out whenever we need them.
I used:
Dish pans from Walmart
Small organizer baskets
Velcro dots

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The basic concept to assemble is simple. Use Velcro dots to attach smaller containers inside the larger container to create whatever size compartments you need. The Velcro holds everything in place but is easily reattached if need be. You could use different sized and shaped baskets or even a plastic cup for pencils. It is a cheap and easy way to help keep your students organized!

First day of Writer’s Workshop!

I love the first day of writer’s workshop. It is the beginning of something beautiful. The kids put crayon to paper and find a new voice, a new vibrant form of communication. Becoming a writer makes kids powerful! Today we read, When Sophie Gets Angry, Really, Really, Angry, and examined how the author, Molly, told her story. We learned that writing is a way of talking with our crayons and pencils and paper rather than our voice. Writing is a way of telling using words and pictures.
Here are some of our budding writers at work. It was a proud, proud day!

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Wednesday is Library Day!

Our class will visit the school ¬†library each Wednesday. Beginning next week, your child will bring home a new book each Wednesday which should be returned to school the by the following Wednesday. The children must return the book they checked out before they can check out a new one. If a child forgets their book, they may still pick out a book and put in on the “save shelf”. They can bring their overdue book the next day and check out the book they saved.

Friends and Family Display

Friends and family are an important part of our school community. Our class is creating a display of photos to honor our friends and family. Please send 1 or 2 photos ¬†(or copies) of your child’s friends and family to school by Tuesday, September 2.

Our Inclusive Community: Preparing the Learning Environment Together

One way our class is building an inclusive learning community is by sharing the role of setting up the physical environment. While a lot of that responsibility is only developmentally appropriate for me, there are many tasks the children can take charge of. When setting up the classroom this year I deliberately left certain areas of the classroom undone and set up a plan for how the children and I could create those parts of the classroom together. There was even a point in which I was taking items down off the walls to make room for the children to take charge.
On the first day of kindergarten, the children made their own name tags for their coat hooks using their table name tag I had made as reference and a little creativity. The children were so proud to find their own coat hook the next morning, many children making a point of telling their parents about making their own name tag. It was a powerful moment of independence and collaboration.

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On the second day of kindergarten we completed a more decorative project for the bulletin board above our SMART Board. This board is too high to hang learning tools for the kids to refer to, making it the perfect spot for a little beauty just for beauty’s sake. We read the book Shades of People and discussed the beautiful rainbow of people that made up our class.

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The kids then made their own uniquely beautiful creations to hang under the banner of “peace, love, and kindergarten”.

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The result was bold, graphic, and full of the whimsy of children’s art.

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One of my favorite song lyrics is a line that goes, “Keep my feet on the ground and my head in the clouds.” I’m thankful to have my head in the kindergarten clouds.

Teacher Inspiration: How Bare Walls Show Kids They are Important

The weeks leading up to the First Day of School are a whirlwind of activity. Organizing, cleaning, laminating, labeling, lesson planning…the list goes on and on. Each task is its own special joy. Teachers pour their love for their new students into these classroom tasks.
One task I propose teachers take off the list is decorating.
Decorating.
Really?!
Decorating is important, right? How can bare walls show students they are loved and important?
To me decorating your classroom, filling every bulletin board with cute teacher store cut outs and informational posters does show kids they are important. It shows kids they are welcomed and cherished guests. It tells kids, “Welcome to my classroom.”
My classroom, not our classroom.
It is okay for students to be welcomed, honored, cherished guests. Guests who are awaited with much excitement and whose departure causes the host great sadness.
But maybe they could be more. Maybe each school year could be a true collaboration where each person has a voice. Our school community could have less hierarchy and more inclusivity. As the teacher and the adult I have the responsibility, but I can share the rights. And also a few developmentally appropriate responsibilities.
Bare walls could be a first step.
Bare walls say, “There is room for you too.”
Bare walls say, “This place isn’t complete without you.”
Tonight, when my students come to see the classroom they will see open spaces like this.

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With a sign like this.

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For the last 7 years I have welcomed a new set of guests each school year. Guests who were cherished while they visited and missed after they were gone.
But this year, I don’t want guests. This year I don’t want the classroom to be mine, I want it to be ours.