Book Character Day

Hey guys! Halloween can be such a fun time in the classroom. At our school, we don't let kids just dress up, we do a Book Character Day! This is one of my favorite days of the year!
My teaching partner/bestie {Primary Scribbles} and I like to make our costumes go together. The past couple of years, we joined 3rd grade to add to our mix!
Our neighbors around the hall, 4th and 5th grades always kill it with their costumes too! 
Our first grade teachers are a little more creative than everyone though I think! Miss Spicer will not tell ANYONE her costume until she shows up that morning! The kids can't wait to find out what she will be every year. 
For the record... The Cat in the Hat was actually for Dr. Seuss day, but it would have been perfect for book character day too! 
Almost a month in advance, we send home a letter for parents giving them a heads up for when our Character Day is going to be. The letter explains that students must have the book, and be able to tell about their character from the book. They have to send in a slip that states the book and character for the teacher to allow. 
The morning of Book Character Day, we have a school wide parade so everyone can show off their costumes!
I love that Book Character Day allows the kids to dress up at school while still being educational. After the parade calms down, I have my students show off their book and tell us something about their book to show they have actually read it before. I do the same with mine! 
Book Character Day is always right around Halloween time so costumes are easy to find. We also talk about how to be safe while Trick or Treating. This infogram from {Andy Mohr Kia} gives great tips to help you get the conversation started!

From Trash to Tables

I had one of those horseshoe tables in my room for the past 5 years. I never, ever, ever used it! I like to sit on the floor or use a chalk board table I painted last year. I finally decided to get rid of the horseshoe! In place of it, my super sweet husband made four small tables for students to use! No more than 4 kids can comfortably be at these tables. They are perfect for groups, flexible seating workspace, and for keeping clusters of kids from forming around that stinking horseshoe table! 

I saw on a yard sale site that these tires were up for grabs, totally free! I grabbed Phillip and off we went. When I got them back home, I washed and washed them. I even put some bleach on them just to make sure whatever they were used for before was gone.
When they were dry, I took my two favorite colors and sprayed them. It took a couple coats to cover the old color, but I love how they turned out! 
From Home Depot, we got two sheets of plywood and had it cut into 4th's. From there my husband attempted creating circles. They may not be perfect circles, but they are a zillion times better than I could do myself. He made two circles for each tire, a top and a bottom. 
From there we had to attach some legs to keep the tire from caving in when kids leaned on it. We already had a 2X4 so he cut some legs from it. Each tire has 3 or 4 stands inside it.
This is the close up of how the legs are attached. 
The tire slips right over the legs. Then we put glue on top of the legs and put the other top on. The glue was to help know where on the top we needed to drill the holes to attached the other circle. 
Once it was screwed on, my husband attached wheels to the bottom. You could also put a hinge on a side of the top and have the top open for storage if you liked! 
Lastly, I used chalkboard paint for the tops. I love that they not only are functional as tables, but also as workspace! My goal is for students to sit on the floor to use these tables. I have pillows, rugs, foam pads, and a rug to make it a little more comfy for my kiddos! 


Top Teacher Tools from IKEA

Y'all, I talked my husband into taking me to IKEA and I found all kinds of goodies! There was ONE main reason I went to IKEA in the first place....
PENCIL PILLOWS! I just love them! They are pretty tall (long?), and absolutely adorable. I wish I would have gotten two, one to decorate with and one to let the kids ruin, I mean, use. They are also just $14!
My goal for this year is to make my room more homey for my students. Fake plants are great for giving a space a cozy feel. I grabbed 3 fake plants, and I don't even have to worry about watering them! #bestpart

I'm sticking the plants in these metal tubs, but these would also be amazing for pencils, markers, pens, clips, anything to help organize your classroom! They are also just 99¢! 
Another of my favorite finds was the Torsby frame! They are only $1 and so versatile. I spray painted mine to match the colors in my classroom. Some I am using for posting directions for groups (and open house), others I am taking out the plastic holder using a loose leaf ring to hold flash cards. Students can easily flip through the cards for practicing our sight words. 
OHHHH this was a great find! These chair tops (SNILLE) are like scoop rockers for bigger kids. I actually got these for our 3rd grade teacher, but they are too awesome not to mention. They were $6 and feel very sturdy and durable. The only part that isn't my favorite is the white color. I'm sure with the group we are handing up, they will have very pretty crayon decorations through the year. ;)
Book boxes! These are 4 for $1. They are so cheap so you won't even feel bad letting students decorate their own and then taking it home at the end of the year! 
This is another storage tub that I just love! They are adorable and come in different sizes. I can put these in cubbies, on the counter, bookshelf, or use them on my desk to help keep me organized! 
These markers were just the coolest! They are stamps, and could be used for younger grades for patterns. For 2nd, we can stamp out our spelling words with fun shapes. We can make addition and subtraction pictures with them. There are so many possibilities! 

If you have an IKEA nearby, GO, RUN, NOW! I got a cart full of things, and still spent less than $100. Even if you don't want to buy anything, go look around, it's worth a drive. 


Using Google Forms for Calendar Time

When I taught first grade, calendar is a HUGE part of the day, like a whole 15-20 minutes every. single. day. What is today? What was yesterday? What will tomorrow be? and so on and so on. When I moved to second grade, calendar didn't go away, but it did not need to be a big part of the day. I have been searching for a way to keep calendar time part of the day without making it too first grade-ish. 

Now that we are 1:1, I have set up my calendar time on {Google Forms}.  It is part of our daily morning work routine. Students are able to reach the calendar form through a {QR code} that is in the room. Students are required to tell their name, day of the week, how to write the date, weather report, and a daily question to start the day. This one is set up for the first week of school when we practice procedures. 

Are you new to {Google Forms}? They are very easy to set up! I use them for all kinds of things around the room. At the bottom of {this post} I have a video explaining how to set up your form!

<3 Aimee

Top Teacher Tools from Five Below

{Five Below} is a store that is similar to Dollar Tree. Instead of everything being $1.00, everything they carry is $5.00 and below! (Five Below-get it?!) There are not very many {locations}, but they do have a website! The nearest one to me is about an hour away, but it is well worth the trip! Here are my top teacher finds from Five Below. It is such a fun store! 
1. Memory Foam Mats
These mats are probably supposed to be used in some college dorm bathroom. They are soft, and so comfy...but are amazing to write on! These mats can be a fun change in the word work practice routine. They just swipe clean after the word is written. No other items are needed, just the mat and fingers! 
The same goes for these fun "mermaid" pillows! These smaller pillows would be great for PK and K rooms for letter and number practice too. 

2. HUGE Dice
These dice are HUGE! (I mean, check out my arm!) This dice specifically is like a Magic 8 ball. It has yeses and nos. It has a maybe and a try again later. I use this dice for those questions kids ask and it really doesn't matter either way! "Can I read in the hall?" Usually I don't care one bit! I do sometimes get annoyed being asked, and say no anyway... Now the kiddo asking can just roll the dice, and we can let the dice speak! This is a fun way to help make decisions! 
There are also number dice. Obviously these are great for math groups or math activities, but have you ever tried them for whole or small group reading?! Assign each number a category.
1. girls
2. boys
3. tie shoes (any kid with tie shoes on has to read)
4. Teacher (they love having a teacher category)
5. Blonde Hair (any kid with blonde hair has to read)
6. Short Sleeves (any kid with short sleeves on has to read)
You can make the categories whatever you want! They roll the dice, and those students who fit the category read the passage, paragraph, or sentence together! 
3. Emojis
Oh those silly faces! I love Emojis as much as my students! Five Below has a whole Emoji section!
Hello Treasure Box! But my favorite thing I found in this section was large Emoji stickers! These are perfect for papers or just handing out at random for classroom management!
I love that they have letters too! This can be used to make a fun word work game!

4. Camping Light
How many of you have seen {Lucky Little Learners' Camp Read-a-Lot}? Kids would love to get under a cabinet, desk, or inside a tent to read with these LED lights! LED also lasts (or is supposed to) a LONG time! 
There are also SO many decorative, fun pillows for kids to use around the classroom. Cuddle up with a pillow, a book, and a camping light! Minutes of entertainment! HA!

6. Ice Trays
For holiday's, I like to make crayons for my kiddos from ice tray molds! Peel the crayons and break them into smaller pieces. Put the pieces in the trays. I use aluminum foil on a cookie tray and then put the ice trays on those to catch spilling. Heat your oven to 350, and leave them in for about 20 minutes. Once they are all melty, carefully take them out and let them cool completely! When you bust them out, you have multicolored crayons in fun shapes! Cheap and super easy gifts are totally my favorite.  
7. Baskets
There is such a variety of basket sizes at Five Below. There are also separated organizers too! They have my favorite blue/green color, but you can always spray paint them too!

These are only $5.00 and really last! I have 5 that I use in my own room and they have been perfect all year so far! Some stores also have purple and pink colors! 

9.  If you are one to one or even just have a few iPads, these stylus pens are awesome! We use Google Classroom for so many things. Sometimes I have the kids type, but sometimes I want them to practice writing on the iPads too. They are also great for drawing pictures in apps. Oh did I mention they have the rubbery tip...that is so fun to pick off!? It's nice to find styluses that are cheap and not so painful to replace! 

10. Timers
This timer is one of those sand timers. It lasts two minutes and would be more fun than just the timer on your phone. It's also a great visual of how much time is left!
11. Gummi Candy
This gummy candy is LETTERS!!! Hello making words! 
12. Play-Doh
I use Play-Doh at the beginning of the year to entertain the kids while I deal with school supplies. I also like to make words with the Play-Doh. These are also great gifts for young students. 
13. Where's Waldo
I just LOVE Waldo! This would be a fun way for kids to get to know their new classroom. Find Waldo! Tell where he was and what could do there. This could also be a fun writing activity to use similar to an Elf or Leprechaun. 
14. Bean Boozled
WARNING: These are DISGUSTING. I would not use them in my room...but they sure are entertaining! {Two Teacher Friends} have a writing activity they use with these oh so gross jelly beans.  
I would suggest borrowing other trash cans and placing them in easy to reach locations all around the room before playing! 

Whew! There are just too many good things at Five Below!

Workout While You Work!

I love to fit in my clothes. I won't say I love to workout, but I am a teacher! I cannot afford to buy new clothes all the time, even though I argue the opposite to my husband every chance I get. Between the 26 birthday parties at school and the yummy treats in the lounge, it's hard to make good choices! So I just try to work it off later. In the summer, I am outside CONSTANTLY. I'm moving, sitting, swimming, laying out, whatever I'm doing: I'm doing it outside. 

Now that it is cold, I can't just go outside and move around like I need to. To keep active in the winter,   I got this Surf Shelf from Amazon so I can take my work with me on the treadmill! (Disclaimer: I am not part of the Surf Shelf Company nor do I benefit from blogging about it. I'm sure there are similar products that do the same thing, this is just the one I have!) My laptop sits right on the shelf and a velcro strap helps keep it in place. It looks like it would be too tall, but I am 5'4" and it's perfect! 
I can type, create, and work all while getting my steps in! It keeps my mind from thinking about all the walking/running I'm doing and helps me to not get bored. My husband, who works from home, loves using it for typing his reports too. 
I paid around $35.00 for the Surf Shelf on Amazon, and it is worth every penny! Now I don't have to put my computer down when I need to go workout! The company say they fit on almost all treadmills, and the shelf could also be used for grading, like a table! It is one of my favorite things in the winter to keep me active in this cold weather! 
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