Communicating With Parents:
Parental communication is very important, but with so many tasks for a teacher to accomplish in a day, especially with the demands of very young children, how does one find time to dash off notes?
How do you reinforce positive behavior? Do you send home a note to parents?
Do you give your students a certificate of praise?
Likewise, how do you communicate with parents when they want to know how their child is doing when their disruptive behavior is being modified?
To make these tasks quick and easy, I’ve designed a variety of forms. My behavior modification techniques are checklists where a child is held accountable for their own behavior.
They decide which behavior they are going to work on for the day. During various parts of the day they can color in a smilie face or put a sticker on their paper.
For students that are working on a multitude of things, I can simply check all the boxes that apply at the end of the day, in less than a minute, and send that note home to be signed by the parent and returned.
I’ve put all of these forms in a 66-page packet that includes happy-grams, certificates of praise, and posters.
I've also included positive-reinforcement games, like Pizza Reward, Bubble Gum Challenge, Apple Puzzle & Classroom Cash.
There is a student contract, progress report, posters, classroom expectations, a neat desk award, and a promise pledge as well.
The forms help empower students, build self-esteem, help motivate, help students accept responsibility and be accountable.
They free the teacher up and make communicating with parents simple, easy and quick.
I hope that you will find something here that will help your days run smoothly.
Click on the link to go to Behavior Charts, Notes, & Contracts so that you can view/print/download them.
I wish you a marvelous month filled with lots of beautiful back-to-school moments!
An Old Favorite...
Author: Laura Numeroff
Amazon Price: $16.99
Offers - Buy New From: $5.50 Used From: $0.01
The Gist: A boy takes a mouse to school.
Why I like it:
- It's another fun book in a collection of "If you..." books.
- This book has more episodes than the previous books: "If you give a pig a pancake, she'll want some syrup to go with it."
- I, along with my students, enjoy this simple "cause and effect" story line.
- The illustrator, Felicia Bond, draws an adorable mouse, doing adorable humanistic things, like putting on tiny bib overhauls, drawing on the blackboard, sniffling, etc.
- The mouse and his auburn-haired boy sidekick are very endearing.
Story Telling Tips:
Make sequencing manipulatives for the story by printing off my master, laminating the sheets and then cutting them out. Pass them out to your students.
Make a blue jean cup to store the pieces in by running off a copy of the blue jeans on blue construction paper.
Cut out the jeans and place them on the front of a clear plastic cup using several glue dots. Cut out two 8 1/2 inch strips of blue construction paper and tape them to the back of the blue jeans.
Loop the "jean straps" over the cup and fasten them to the back of the cup with glue dots. Put 2 white reinforcement holes on the front of the jeans to look like buttons.
If you wanted to make a cute treat as a surprise for your students, these would make darling cups for them. Fill a snack Baggie with miniature chocolate chip cookies, or a medium baggie with one large cookie and then tuck it in the cup.
Students can make their own blue jeans and then take this home at the end of the day with their mouse (art project) tucked in the cup as well.
You could also read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie and compare both stories. If you do read both stories, you may want to add a math extension and graph which book your students liked the best.
When you pass the manipulatives out to your students and you come to that particular item in the story, where the mouse would want that "thing", the child holding that piece puts the item on your white or flannel board.
I put a pink pom pom, a scrap of brown paper, a wiggle eye and a piece of brown yarn into my change bag. The children clap their hands 3 times and say: "If you take a mouse to school..."
I produce a paper mouse. I ask my students if they would like to make one. Of course they say "Yes!" They then transition to their desks and make a mouse.
Art Project: Paper Pom Pom Mouse:
Run off the mouse on brown construction paper. Fold the paper in half. Remind students to keep their paper FOLDED. When they open it up their paper will be heart-shaped because they LOVE story time.
There is a message inside for their parents to read. Students sign the card and re-fold it, turning it into a mouse by adding a pom pom nose, wiggle eye, ears and yarn tail.
Writing / Reading Extension: Class Book If you give a mouse a _______________ he'll want a ________________.
Have your students fill in the blanks and illustrate their page. Collect the pages, collate your class book and then read it to your class. Set it in your class library so that students can read it whenever they wish.
The "Mice" activities will remain FREE for the month of September 2011. Click on the link to print them; after September they can be purchased for only .59 cents under Mice Activities.
I teach around several themes for September:
To get my parents involved in reading to their children, I have a RAH-RAH program. It stands for "Read At Home." Click on the link for directions, poster, bookmarks, certificate, reading logs and a letter home.
Each day we have a WOW Day. It stands for Wonderful Outstanding Word of the day.
It helps build my students' vocabulary. Click on the link for a mini-poster You can also get a mini-poster of ZIPPY to remind your students that it's time for reading and you need a Quiet Zone.
Whatever you're reading this month, I hope you and your students are able to "fall" into lots of good books!
I LOVE glyphs. They are the perfect activity for "listening and following directions!" Plus, a back-to-school glyph can really help teachers get to know their students.
No matter what the age group, students seem to really enjoy making a glyph. Glyphs are also a nice way to decorate a hallway wall and get other students reading to see if they can discover whose glyph it is.
Click on the link to view/print the back-to-school apple glyph.
Apple Tasting Mats & Graph:
The study of apples is one of our science units. One of the facts I teach my students is that apples come in three colors: red, green and yellow.
It's fun for them to taste the 3 different kinds of apples and then have them decide which is their favorite and graph the results.
I'm not only teaching science, but incorporating math and including snack time! What a great use of time as I cover a variety of report card standards and subjects!
One of the problems I had was that when I layed out the different chunks of apple, children couldn't tell which was the red, yellow or green one, so I designed a little mat for them to color.
This will reinforce listening and following directions, ordinal numbers, colors, that particular science fact and later, they can use it for snack time when you put their 3 different apple pieces on the mat for them to taste.
Click on the link for the apple tasting mat and graph.
Apple Pinch & Poke:
For those of you who use my themed-center activities, you know how important Pinch & Pokes are to me. My Y5 students transition from table top to centers.
Pinch & Pokes are one of my consistent centers. Students get a P&P, take it to the carpet along with a large tack or golf tee, and follow the pattern by poking a hole in each dot to make a picture.
If they hold their paper up to the ceiling and shine a flashlight on their picture they will see a "star print" on the ceiling at night.
P&P's are great for building upper body strength as well as increasing finger dexterity, finger and hand muscle strength and coordination and are a fun fine motor skill that students really enjoy.
Click on the link to view/print an apple pinch and poke. Run it off on red, yellow and lime green copy paper to reinforce the various colors of an apple.
One of the vocabulary words that I teach my students is spiral. Learning to cut on a spiral is a great fine motor skill.
Run these apple spirals off on red, yellow & lime green construction paper. Have students glue the top end to their white apple and let them dangle down from the ceiling.
They double as an introduction to autumn poetry/rhyming words, cover science, review the a & e vowels, as well as help students who are learning how to write and identify their name, + they make a darling hallway display that's sure to help build your students' self-esteem when they see their photograph and work displayed for all to view.
What a fun way to cover a lot of "stuff!"
Click on the link to see/print the Appealing Apple patterns.
Whatever arts, crafts and activities you're planning to do during the month of September, I hope they are simply apple-icious!
These activites will be FREE through the month of September and then they will be for sale in an Apple Activity Booklet for only .59 cents.
Welcome Back To School!
I know some of you have already started, but here in MI we start the Tuesday after Labor Day!
A big theme for many teachers is APPLES so I want to center my "kids in the kitchen & classroom" around that delicious and healthy fruit this month. Apples are also really big in this part of MI.
One of my favorite books to introduce the alphabet is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. Story time is in the afternoon and is often followed by our snack, so sometimes it's fun if our snack also relates to what we are reading and/or studying.
Author: Bill Martin Jr.
Manufacturer: Little Simon
Amazon Price: $10.99
Offers - Buy New From: $5.24 Used From: $1.99
Sometimes I'll ask several parents to supply the ingredients to a snack-activity so that my Y5's can make or create their snack. Click on the link to view/print the Chicka Boom snack letters home.
Making a Chicka Boom alphabet tree is a fun fine motor skill for your students. I was hoping that all the letters of the alphabet were in a box of Alpha-Bits cereal, but to my dismay when I dumped out the box, I did not find a good enough representation of the alphabet to make it a worthwhile activity for my students to try and find the letters in their name.
In fact, the letters G, J, M, S, U, & W were entirely missing from my box!
Instead, give a cup of cereal to each child and have them pick out 8 letters.
Later, if you want, you can give your students a graphing sheet and have them sort and then count the letters in their cup and graph them, then make a class graph of the entire box. Did you find any letters that were missing too?
Click on the link to print an Alpha-Bit letter graphing sheet.
You can also compare your results to mine if you want to do some more math extensions. Click on the link to view/print my results. TeachWithMe.com's Alpha-Bit graphing results
My husband came into the kitchen and wondered what on earth I was doing, as I had cereal spilled out all over the counter. (Our puppy Chloe was anxious hoping for a mishap.)
When I told him I was sorting cereal, he then wondered if anyone besides me even cared? I thought sorting, counting and then graphing letters in a box of Alpha-Bits was a great math extension; besides I really wanted to know if every letter of the alphabet was in the box. (The answer could not be found online.)
As you can see by my photo the ratio of letters in the box is way off, and the largest plate is the one with broken letters. Perhaps that's where the missing letters ended up.
Could the Alpha-Bit missing letter mystery be because those letters are fragile and simply break up in the package? This could make for a great discussion or writing prompt! Anyway, my husband thinks I'm crazy. Are there any other creatively crazy teachers with me? I'd enjoy a comment or two for back up.
I made two different kinds of Chicka Boom trees. One with chocolate wafer cookies (palm trunk) and raisins (coconuts) and one with pretzel rods and red grapes.
You can have both sets of ingredients available, and let your students decide which kind of tree to make, or simply pick just a few ingredients. I find with my Y5's, that usually 1/2 of them do not like raisins.
If you do opt for raisins, you may want to soak them in water the night before. It was my grandma's "secret" for making the best oatmeal raisin cookies, as the raisins turned out really moist, plump and juicy instead of dried out.
Ingredients & Directions:
- Granny Smith apples. (Cut apple in 1/2 and then in 1/4ths. One apple will be enough for 2 children's palm leaves. Each child needs 4 apple slices. 4 palm leaves.)
- Large bunch of washed red grapes. Each child will need 3 grapes for their coconuts.
- Large box or bag of raisins. Each child will need 9 plump raisins, 3 for each bunch of coconuts.
- 1-2 bags of long pretzel rods (Chicka boom coconut tree trunk) depending on class size. (I use 2 for each student because they LOVE them, but you could cut it down to 1.)
- 1-2 packages of chocolate wafer cookies depending on class size. Each child will need 2 cookies for their Chicka boom coconut tree trunk.
- You could get a package of wafer cookies that has 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 vanilla and give your students a choice of flavors. I find that my students will usually pick chocolate 3 to 1.
- I try to include giving a choice in as many activities as I can, because I believe it is a wonderful life-skill my little ones need to learn; however, I almost always limit it to only 2, at most 3 choices, otherwise things get overwhelming for them and they can't make a decision, or waste too much time.
- 1 large box of Alpha-Bits cereal. Give each child a cup full so they can choose 8 letters to climb up the trunk. This is a nice counting activity for them. They can simply eat the rest, or do the sort, count and graph activity above with them.
- large paper plates
- Children arrange their Chicka Boom edible alphabet tree on their plate and then eat it.
Munch and crunch away at your Chicka Boom alphabet tree today!
Remember to take some pictures so you can post them in your newsletter.
Grapple Juice: If you've never mixed grapefruit juice and apple juice, give it a whirl for a yummy and healthy fall drink.Ingredients
- 2 large apples (My personal favorite is Honeycrisp, but Gala is a close second, and then of course Granny Smith for it's sweet sourness.)
- 1 grapefruit
- Wash the fruit.
- Core and slice the apples to fit your juicer.
- Peel and slice the grapefruit.
- Juice and Enjoy.
Grama Lydia's Apple Crisp and Ice Cream
My sister and I were allergic to so many things that my grama was constantly trying to dream up things my twin and I could have as a dessert.
Here's a delicious one that tastes wonderful hot out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Drizzle some caramel on the top for an extra special treat. The cinnamon baking in the oven makes the entire kitchen smell yummy, and is one of my favorite fall fragrances to this day!
- 2 large Honeycrisp or Gala apples, peeled, cored and sliced
- 1/3 Cup all-purpose flour
- 1/3 Cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/4 Cup butter or margarine
- 1/3 Cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- Vanilla ice cream
- Caramel sauce
- Prepare apples by peeling, coring and slicing.
- Place in bottom of a small casserole dish.
- Add oats, sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and butter in a medium-size mixing bowl
- Mix together until crumbly. Break up any clumps.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.
- Serve hot out of the oven in small bowls with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- Drizzle with caramel sauce. MMM MMM delicious!
Apple Smiles With Marshmallow Teeth:
- White mini marshmallows
- Cream cheese
- Peanut butter
- Caramel sauce
- Red apples
- Plastic knives
- Small paper plates
- Cut a red apple in half, then in 1/4th's then into 1/8th's.
- Each child needs 2 pieces. (1 apple will make enough slices for 8 children.)
- These become the 2 lips.
- Give each child a small paper plate, a plastic knife, and a dollop of "glue" (either peanut butter, cream cheese or caramel sauce.)
- I used caramel sauce in the photo.
- Children could also have one side where they use one of the spreads, and the other half where they use the other kind of spread.
- Spread "glue" with a plastic knife.
- Place mini white marshmallows on top of the "glue" on the bottom slice so they look like teeth.
- Spread "glue" on the remaining slice.
- Gently press this top slice on the top of the bottom "tooth" slice so the "mouth" is now shut.
- Carefully eat. Mmmm Mmmm delicious!
Cinnamon Apple Rings:
For a yummy cinnamon apple recipe and adorable smile poem to go with it, click on the link. She made these for Valentine's Day, but I think her heart border still works for anytime.
I hope you enjoy these activities with your children/students. Remember... "An apple a day keeps the doctor away!"
because they are such a healthy snack,
so eat up, and welcome back!
Final Winner Of Our Back-To-School Button Bracelet Blog Contest
Drum Roll Please...
Congratulations to the winner of this week's Back-To-School-Bracelet BLOG contest: pre-school teacher Bridgett, from the state of Texas.
Thanks to everyone who subscribed, bought something, commented, registered, or told a friend.
For complete details about the CONTEST, click on the link.Our back-to-school contest has now ended!
Can you believe how fast August went?I hope everyone has their best year ever and that your students are terrific!
Fun First-Day-Of-School Treat Bags
If you have the time, and want to whip together something special, I designed a really easy, brown lunch bag-owl, which takes just a few minutes to put together.
If you own circle punches things will go even faster. Even if you don’t want to make these as a treat bag, they make a fun and easy art project for your students.
Have them stuff their lunch bag with tissue. Children could write: Whooo is wise? on the owl’s tummy. When they flip up the bag it can say: __________ (child’s name) that’s whoooo!
If you want to skip filling a bag with treats, but would still like to do something, you can buy some M&M’s, Reese's Pieces, or Skittles in bulk at Sam’s Club, fill the tiny Baggies they sell at Hobby Lobby etc. and staple the Baggie to my owl card.
I also found teachers that simply put an apple on their students' desks with an apple die-cut note attached that said: “WELCOME! You are the apple of my eye.” How about a golden delicious apple with a note that says: “Wishing you a golden year filled with delicious learning!”
OR… how about cutting out construction paper apples, punch a hole in the side, make a slit to the hole and slide a candy bracelet through so it looks a bit like a worm. Write your students’ names on the apples + “A sweet treat for a neat student!”
OR… how about an orange or a small snack Baggie with 3 candy orange slices, with a note that says: “Orange you glad you’re in _____________________ grade! Wishing you a sweet year!”
OR… a bag of peanuts (making sure no one has allergies) that says: “ I hope you’ll go simply nuts over all of the exciting lessons we’ll be studying this year!”
OR…a bag of microwave popcorn (They sell individual treat-bag size packages) attach a note that says: “Poppin’ by with a friendly first-day Hi, to wish you a terrific school year!” You could list that month’s popcorn words on the back.
One Florida teacher gives her students water bottles with flip up caps. They decorate their bottles with markers & stickers, and re-fill them for the entire month. They keep them in their desk so they stay hydrated all day.
Because my first science unit was dinosaurs, I had a basket filled with multi-colored dinosaurs sitting on the table.
My students got to choose one when they completed their tabletop lesson. That’s a big thrill for them, as well as an incentive to stay focused and finish their first day’s lesson.
Click on the link to view/download Owl Treat Bags
I also revamped a Lucky Charms note that was posted a zillion ways on the Internet. Simply buy a box of Lucky Charms for your kiddo's to munch & crunch and include this sweet note.
Click on the link to view/download Lucky Charm Treat Bag Note.
I also have a cute treat bag note that I made up for some easy and inexpensive treat bags.
Click on the link to view/download Treat Bag Note.
For other treat bag ideas, including bags for reading and writing, click on the link to download the Treat Bag Idea packet.
Whatever you decide to do, I hope your year is as sweet as the treats you give your students!
Thanks for visiting. Feel free to PIN anything you think others might find useful.
Hope you can stop in tomorrow for more back to school ideas.
"Tell me and I forget. Show me and I remember. Involve me and I understand." -Chinese Proverb
It’s In The Bag!
There are pro’s and con’s about giving students a treat bag on the first day of school.
I LOVE making up little surprises for my students.
They are 4 or 5 and I think if I have a little something waiting for them on their desk it makes school especially fun for them.
When I taught other grades I did treat bags. My students could read the note, so they understood the symbolism behind some of the things I tucked in their bags.
The adorable treat bag pictured above was designed by Amanda. Her back-to-school snack consists of: Captain Crunch Treasures, Vanilla Yogurt Dipped Raisins and M&M's. Click on the link to visit her blog.
I used to make up a Reading Survival Kit as well as a Writing First Aid Kit and tucked the Baggies in my 1st , 2nd & 3rd grader’s desks at different times during the beginning of the year. They were thrilled. I ordered some of the things in the reading kit from Fun Express.
Click on the links to view/print them.
I also made a very simple treat bag, with just a few things in it and tucked a brief message in the Baggie for them to read on their first day of school.
Click on the link to view/print my first day of school treat bag.
I also found a cute Lucky Charms treat bag online that many teachers were doing. There were several different notes so I revamped one and made it my own.
For a sweet and easy treat, simply fill a small Baggie with the cereal, fold my note and attach it to the outside of the bag.
Click on the link to view/print the Lucky Charms treat bag.
When I started teaching Y5’s I opted to do a treasure box for open house instead, because the first day is rather hectic when I’m all by myself with as many as 19 four-year-olds, who may want to rip open a treat bag, even when I instruct them to take it to their locker to open at home.
I’ve had inquiries about treat bags, so I wanted to write a blog article and give you some ideas. I did a little research and found a plethora of Google listings for treat bags.
I compiled an alphabetical list of goodies teachers have tucked in their bags, as well as the symbolism behind them.
Click on the link to view/print the treat bag list and then pick and choose what you’d like to include and design your own treat bag.
Some teachers fill a large cup with goodies, some tuck their treats in Ziploc Baggies, and others use colored lunch bags.
Then there are those crafty teachers who design extra special bags.
One creative person made cute busses and hot-glued white buttons on the black wheels. (Adorable!)
So if you've got the time to be crafty... Click on the link to check out her bus treat bag YouTube video.
Because I like to tuck notes and special treats into several of my teacher friend's mailboxes, I made up a little treat bag for them as well.
Click on the link to view/print the teacher treat bag note.
Be sure and check back tomorrow for my quick and easy owl treat bags made from a lunch bag, as well as some other quick and easy ideas to make that first day special!
Blasting Off To The First Day Of School
As I stated in the last article, counting down the last 10 days 'til school starts is a wonderful way to get children excited about going to school.
It also provides an opportunity to talk about this special time in their lives and dispel any fears or anxieties first timers may have.
Being able to actually SEE time going by helps a child. Unlike adults, children don't really have a concept of time yet.
This is why the paper chain that I hung up in my classroom is such a successful learning tool for children, as well as a terrific patterned decoration.
You may want to make a two-color, 10-link paper chain and hang it up in your child's room.
When they go to bed at night, let them tear off a link. When the last link is gone, they will be going to school the next day.
You can write a little note on that link and tuck it in their pocket or lunch box. "I love U" using a drawn heart for the word love is a great note, or simply a smilie face will recall the paper chain memories and time with you.
From my 1st class of Y5's, I always included a countdown page in my summer welcome letter.
Counting from 10 - 0 is one of our report card standards so I thought this would be a fun way to introduce that concept and get my students excited for their first day.
I designed 8 additional ones, so that you would have a selection to choose from. I tried to think of the various themes teachers cover in August-September that are popular with children.
There's an apple, baseball/bat, butterfly, caterpillar, crayons, dinosaur, frog and ladybug.
Click on the link to view/download 20 pages of Fun Countdowns.
Thanks for visiting. I hope you can stop by tomorrow for more back to school ideas.
Feel free to PIN anything you think others might find helpful.
"Keep your eyes open and your feet moving and ou'll find what you need." -Unknown
A Simple Trick To Get Kids Excited For The First Day Of School
I think that if students count down the days til school starts, they have an opportunity to get excited.
It's also a "teachable moment" for parents to work on numbers, counting, and introducing a calendar or how to keep track of time.
A fun and inexpensive gift that helps you do that, that you can quickly make and pass out at your Open House is something that I just dreamed up.
Our Open House is the week before school starts, which is wonderful, because it gave me a chance to meet my students and help dispel any fears they might have.
Whip these kits together and toss the Baggies in a basket.
Set them on a table with A Special Gift For My Students Take One sign.
Click on the link to view/print one.
Making these "count down necklaces" help students count, use their fine motor skills, review all of the basic colors, follow a color pattern, + get excited about coming to school as they count down the days!
My Y5’s also had to learn to count backwards from 10-0 as a report card standard. (I call this blasting off.) This is simply another fun way of doing that.
What a nice keepsake for them to have of this special time in their life!
Here's how to make the necklace kits:
- In a snack Baggie include 10 pony beads (one of each of the following colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, white, brown and black) and an 18-inch length of white yarn.
- Tape the end into a point, with a piece of Scotch tape, so that it is easy for young ones to string their beads.
- Include the following poem:
Click on the link to print the back-to-school necklace poem.
Thanks for visiting. Feel free to PIN anything you think might be helpful to others.
Be sure and check back tomorrow for another easy countdown idea that not only nails report card standards, but helps get your students excited about school, as it chases away any anxiety first-timers may be feeling!
"A teacher who is attempting to teach without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn, is hammering on a cold iron." -Horace Mann
Congratulations to the winner of this week's Back-To-School-Bracelet BLOG contest: second grade teacher Patti, from the state of New Hampshire.
Thanks to everyone who subscribed, bought something, commented, registered, or told a friend. Your name still remains in our drawing.
For complete details about the CONTEST, click on the link.
I will choose our last winner this coming Friday the 26th.
Happy "Getting Ready To Go Back To School!" and for all of you who have already started, I hope your students are terrific and that this will be your best year ever!