A Different Kind of Learner

Since I began teaching five years ago, I have taught fourth graders.  Now, I am teaching a different kind of learner.  Yes, I am still going to teach fourth grade this year.  What I am talking about is teaching my son, a two year old.  I'm used to teaching ten year olds, but my two year old is like a sponge, learning all kinds of new information.  So, lately we have done "school" at least once a day.  I'm not pushing it at all, but he has LOVED it so much and ask for "more shapes".  Here is my little student.
I cut out a triangle, rectangle, square, and a circle.  I put them down in one color (here it was orange) and I give him one purple shape and say what it is. Then, he matches it with the orange one.  He got this one down immediately!
Lately, he has been interested in numbers and we count things pretty so I did the same thing as I did with the shapes, but instead with the numbers.  In the beginning he had a hard time matching the number 7, but he has it now. 
And of course, we have to do a little victory dance when we match them all up!
The next activity has been the hardest one so far.  Matching the letters of his name.  He has a hard time with "a" and "n", although I'm not sure why because I don't think they look similar.  We start out with his name like this.
I always tell him "Now, look at it." before he puts it where it goes...

We have also been doing color flash cards!  He's done SO good.  He has a hard time with grey and brown, but other than those two, I'd say he has mastered a pack of kindergarten color flash cards.  This makes me one proud mama.

We also did a little fine motor skills activity today using pipe cleaners and a kitchen strainer. 

Are there any other toddler/Pre-K learning activities that you can tell me about?  These are not my "normal" lessons/activities that I am used to teaching!  :) 

Monday Made It

Good morning, y'all!  I am linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for another Monday Made It!  
I'm not sure where I orginally saw this idea, probably on someone's blog from Monday Made It or on Pinterst.  Yesterday while shopping at Target's dollar bins, I came across these award necklakces.  I purchased 5 packs, which gave me 10 necklaces. Using Microsoft Word, I created a circle the same size and added the text "Ask me what I made on Mrs. Geren's test!"
I orginally wanted to use patterned scrapbook paper but it all seemed to clash with the red, white, and blue so I chose to use red and blue scrapbook paper instead.  I think the kids will love wearing these.  I'm not sure how I'll implement it, but I am thinking it will be used for 100's, A's, and/or for those students who usually make C's or D's and they finally make an A and are so excited.
Next, I created labels for my baskets for my supplies.  I used my NEW HANDY LAMINATOR (can you tell I love it?!?!).

I also created four labels for my new book baskets. 
I am also linking up with Amanda at Teaching Maddeness for her New {School} Year Resolutions party!
Resolution #1:  Create and stick to a consistent small group schedule.  This is an area of weakness for me, but I am determined to do a better job this year.  With much more resources available this year, I am wanting to do a much better job with my small groups.

Resolution #2:  Stay organizded.  Since I am getting rid of my teacher's desk and working for my small group table, I think this will help me stay organized so I don't have a desk to pile papers on.

Resolution #3:  Keep school at school.  With this, I mean it two separate ways.  First, when I've had a bad day and Johnny has drove me almost crazy, leave it at the door when I come home.  Second, leave school work at school as much as possible.  When I am home I want to focus on being a mama to my son.  I don't want to be distracted by school work.

Resolution #4:  Figure out some plan to manage my time more effectively with my masters work.  I am currently getting my masters degree online.  I began last school year and did 90% of my work when Easton went to bed, which put me getting very little sleep most of the time.  I was exhausted.  I'm not sure how I will change that because I have vowed not to make this masters degree coursework take time away from my son, or as little as possible.

Pom Pom/Tissue Paper Flower Tutorial

After I posted my pom poms on a Monday Made It post a few weeks ago, I've had several questions on how to make them so here is a tutorial for you! 

1)  Get your materials together.  You'll need: gift tissue, floral wire, and scissors.  One pack of gift tissue will make one pom pom.  I've read that some people use bobby pins or rubber bands instead of floral wire.  I used floral wire to make all of mine, but I'm sure the others work too.

2) Spread your gift tissue paper out.
3) Start to fold the gift tissue accordian stlye.

4) Once it is folded accordian style, find the middle and add your floral wire (or whatever material you use for the middle).
5)  This step isn't necessary, but I think they look better if you do it.  Take scissors and cut the ends of the gift tissue so they form an arrow.
6) Once one side is cut into an arrow, fold it over so you can try to cut the other side at the same angle.  Don't worry about making it exact, you won't be able to tell but you do want the same or a similar angle.
7) I start out by holding one side like this.
8) Then, start pulling the other side towards the middle.
9) Once you pull a few pieces of tissue paper on one side, begin the other. 
10) Once you have a few pieces pulled out on each side, work on the middle.  Most of it will stay near the middle but you want to pull them apart as well.
11) This is what the side you just worked on should look like.
12) You will repeat the same process on the other side.  Begin with one side and pull out about 3 pieces of tissue paper.  Repeat on other side.  Then, your middle part should look like this.
13) Finish by pulling the middle pieces apart just a little.
14) And you're finished! 
I hope this tutorial helps!  They are super easy to make once you get the hang of it!  I think they are so cute to hang in your classroom.  They averaged me about a dollar each since each pack of tissue paper was $0.99.  I also bought floral wire that was $2.99.  I have made five green and five blue pom poms so my total project cost is around $13.  Let me know if you have any questions if you make them!

Working in my Classroom

Yesterday Easton (my 2 year old) and I spent about 3 1/2 hours working in my classroom!  Actually, I worked and he played.  For the most part he played by himself pretty good but the day pretty much went like this:  Organize/work, clean up Easton's mess, organize/work, clean up Easton's mess.  Bless him!

Here is a BEFORE picture, as in when I first walked in the door yesterday.  Note:  I worked in my classroom about 2 weeks ago so it's mostly set up.
Here is an AFTER picture, once I finished yesterday.  Unforunately, most of my pom poms fell down and half my posters fell down, too. 
I still have quite a bit to do, but I am definately getting there!  One of my goals yesterday was to get rid of my rolling book cart (which held most of my craft supplies and other random things).  This is what I had:
Now, all of my craft supplies are neatly organized on my new bookshelves. 

I've thought about how I would use my crayons this year.  I LOVE the serving bowl they are in, shown above.  But, I can just see kids picking through it to find the best crayon when asked to grab a handful of crayons to work with.  So, I bought these small bins at Dollar Tree and already filled them with crayons.  I'm not sure exactly where they'll go, but when it's time to color they are already filled and ready to go!  The serving bowl of crayons will be our extras or could be used in centers, small groups, etc.
I also spray painted a few more things!  Remember a few weeks ago when I showed you my bookshelf make-over using spray paint?  Well, this little wicker basket sits on top and holds all my CD's.  Yesterday I spray painted it green and LOVE it!  Doesn't it look great against the blue?
I couldn't end this post without showing you my sweet little helper!  He's all ready to learn!
Several people have asked if I'd do a tutorial on how to make pom poms.  Stay tuned, I plan to do that this week!

Monday Made It {treat bucket & writing prompts}

It's time for another link up with Tara for Monday Made It!  This week I didn't get a lot accomplished, but I was enjoying the last of my vacation in Tennessee!
In my last post, I showed you a green bucket I'd bought at the Dollar Tree.  I used my Circut and vinyl to make it my Treat Bucket!  I think it turned out cute. I used to have my treats (candy) in a glass jar, but I am using it below.
A while back I purchased, printed, and laminated 101+ Totally Awesome Writing Prompts from Katie at Dirty Hands and Lesson Plans.  I've been searching for something to store them in and since I got rid of the glass jar for the treat bucket, I decided to use it!

Alright friends, time to go work in my classroom today! 

Books & To Do List

Last week I bought....more books! Am I ever going to learn that I.don't.have.any.more.room. on my bookshelves?  I've been searching for the deals everyone is getting in the Target dollar spots.  Finally, I found a Target with most of it!  Almost all of these books came from the Target dollar spot.

I picked this bucket up at the Dollar Tree.  Check back Monday for Monday Made It to see what I did with it!

And finally, I found the dry erase pockets EVERYONE is talking about! 
I am also linking up with Lorainne at Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies for the To Do linky party!  I have really needed to make a to-do list so I am glad this motivated me to do so.  It's for sure a work in progress and I'm sure more will get added.
1.  Dust classroom easel
2.  Sort box of inside recess games & put in bottom of easel
3.  Unpack last box of materials
4.  Organize and sort new books
5.  New bookshelf?
6.  Check all computers
7.  Find a place for my radio, writing prompts, and treat bucket
8.  Finish re-do of stool
9.  Make multiple nametags with student names
10. Get white folders for students and label
11. Write names on nametags
12. Make graded papers folders for students
13. Put nametags on desks and in cubbies
14. Organize my new area (going desk-less this year!)
15. Make labels for FMJ's and other journals
16. Write birthdays on birthday poster
17. Make Welcome to 4th Grade brochure
18. Buy snacks and bags for first day gift
19. Put up class helpers and ambassador nametags
20. Decide introductory activity
21. Make class schedule
22. Finish borders throughout my classroom
23. Mail postcards?
24. Copy small group plan outline
25. Re-do "I'm Done. What do I do?" poster
26. Take tote of materials to school and put up

Oh mercy!  Time to get started on this to-do list! 

Helpers & Ambassador

On my last post, I had this picture of some goodies I bought at a teacher store and had some questions about what our ambassador does.  So, I thought I'd post today about that and my classroom helpers. 
I've tried several methods for classroom helpers. My first year teaching I had a clip chart sort of thing where class jobs were listed and student names were on a clothespin and I just moved the clothespins down each day so each child got a new job.  Last year (or maybe the year before that?) I thought I'd do a bulletin board on class jobs and have student names beside them with Velro so I could easily change them.
But, the Velcro wouldn't stick to fabric so I moved them to a storage door.  But, it just wasn't working.  Half the time I didn't manage them like I should have and jobs rarely got done.  
So I decided to SIMPLIFY (key word: simplify) the process of class jobs and now just have classroom helpers.  Two helpers per day, one boy and one girl.  I make name-tags for all the girls and all the boys.  I hang them where you see the class jobs above and use those 3M hooks.  I punched holes in the name-tags and tied ribbon around them to hang them by.  I have one set for girls and one set for boys.  My helpers do anything needed throughout the day, basically the same stuff as my previous classroom jobs.  At the end of the day, we just flip the name-tag to the next person.  I feel like my helpers feel a little more special this way because there's more to do and I guess being called "Helper of the Day" is a big deal to 4th graders.  

Now, the ambassador is something we implemented school-wide last year.  Each classroom has an ambassador.  I chose to make my ambassador stay the ambassador for a week.  I manage them the same way I do helpers (name-tags for all students, hole punch, ribbon, and hang on a 3M  hook).  When anyone comes in the room the ambassador walks to them, introduces themselves (unless they already know them), tells them what we are working on, and asks them to stay and visit/sit over there.  For example, here is how it might sound if a stranger walked in the room:

"Hi, I'm Johnny.  Welcome to our class.  We are working on fractions in Math today.  You can sit at the blue table."  

Or if someone they know walks in (like say, our principal) it might sound like:

"Hi, Mr. Haney. Welcome to our class.  We are working on fractions in Math today.  You can sit at the blue table."  

Ambassadors are often picked to greet adults from the community at events such as: Success Assembly, Lunch Buddy Week, or any special programs.  Most students LOVE doing it, but I did have one student last year who was super-shy and about crocked when it was her turn to be the ambassador.  We talked about it and she chose not to do it, which I respected and we moved to the next person.

Does your school have an ambassador program?
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