Primary Chalkboard: Tips and Freebies
Showing posts with label Tips and Freebies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips and Freebies. Show all posts

Getting To Know Your Students

Hi everyone,

Valerie here from All Students Can SHINE! I'm only a few weeks into my summer break and I'm already planning my first week back! Today, I'm here to share some ideas for getting to know your students on that very busy first week of school. Starting over with a brand new group can be quite overwhelming because we don't know much about our students yet and that makes everything a little tricky. I have a few tips for you that I hope will help!

On the very first day of school, I like to ask my students lots of questions. Kids LOVE to talk about themselves so I use this to my advantage. Those little learners can come to you very nervous and shy but you can turn that around really quickly by asking them to chat about themselves. 

We usually go around the room, giving everyone a chance to share a small personal fact. I use this wheel and give each student a chance to spin it. It gets kids moving (which can be very helpful for those little guys who don't like sitting for too long) and makes it fun because we get a different question every time a student spins!

We also fill out an "all about me" page. This is an easy way to assess my students' coloring and printing skills, which will help me quickly get to know them as learners in my classroom. 

Finally, we play a scavenger hunt game. Students walk around the classroom to chat with their new friends and to fill out their "find a friend" page. 

By the end of the day, everyone has had the opportunity to share a few things about themselves and learn about their new peers. It's a great way to break the ice and start the new school year on the right foot. It isn't stressful and helps everyone feel welcome!

Don't forget to grab yourself a FREEBIE before you go. 
(You will need to download the preview file to get it)

If you are looking for more tips for the first week of school,
check out my post at All Students Can SHINE.

You can also check out more posts from our fabulous authors here at the Primary Chalkboard. 
We have loads of tips and tricks for K-6!

I hope some of these tips will help you and I wish you a great first day of school,


Birthday Bonanza!

Hi!  This is Autumn from The Primary Techie.  I am so excited to have joined The Primary Chalkboard.  This week is my birthday so I decided to celebrate with a birthday blog!  I must confess that I do not actually enjoy birthdays at school.  Have you ever had that 2:55-getting-ready-to-leave-"aren't-you-going-to-sing-me-happy-birthday" moment?  I know I have!  While birthdays are not my favorite thing, to my kiddos they are the most important day of the year.  My school day is not really about me, it's about them!  That means I put on my happy face and make the most of every birthday.

The Birthday Celebration
Many years ago, when I taught third grade, I had an "ah-ha moment" that changed the way I celebrate birthdays at school.  We had FIVE birthdays in one week.  Did every single one of them bring cupcakes?  You betcha!  Was it also the week of Valentine's?  Yup!  Did more kids bring in sugary treats for Valentine's Day?  You know it!  We were so sick of sweets!  A couple weeks later, another birthday and another two dozen cupcakes.  We were outside scarfing them down, when I noticed one of my little guys looking very bummed out.  I asked what was wrong.  He told me that he had never had cupcakes for his birthday and he never would.  The terrible part was, he was right!  This was a kid whose family had fallen upon hard times.  This was a kid who had a difficult home life and often went without.  This kid was not going to get cupcakes and that really bummed ME out!  So, I looked at the situation.  FIVE sets of cupcakes and NO cupcakes.  Ah-ha!  The teacher light bulb flashed over my head and the birthday celebration was born!

ONE day each month where everyone with a birthday is celebrated!  I choose the day!  I always tell parents and kids about this at the very beginning of the school year.  I post birthday celebrations on our classroom calendar (which the kids take home each night) and on my class Facebook group.  Parents coordinate it so that we don't have five sets of cupcakes, we have one set and juice boxes and carrots and strawberries and plates.  I have had several parents bring in a cake with the names of all the birthday kids.  One year, I had a kid literally hopping with excitement because he had never had his name on a cake before.  There are things that many kids take for granted that mean the world to others.  This is a way to even the playing field.

Here are the pros of monthly birthday celebrations:
  • Everyone is included!  We even have a celebration for summer birthdays.
  • I plan it!  Celebrations are always on a Friday and are built into my lesson plans.
  • We get a variety of treats instead of perpetual cupcakes.
Here are the cons of monthly birthday celebrations:
  • Some parents are not good at following directions!  If I get treats on a child's birthday (not the celebration day), I send them home.  Yep!  I am that firm!  It isn't fair to all the kids and parents who abide by the rules to let the ones who don't have treats.  This rarely ever happens because it is a part of our routine and I have lots of communication with families.  Those who send treats know they are breaking the rule.  
  • Sometimes nobody brings anything.  When this happens, I bring a treat for the class.  It is important to me that all students are celebrated - even if that means I have to be the one to supply the treats.  
To remind parents about this class rule, I send home a little note at the beginning of the month.  They can sign-up to bring something or decline.  Click here to print your own notes.  

So on their real birthdays they get NOTHING?  Of course not!  We celebrate that too, just not with treats.  Here are some of the ways we celebrate actual birthdays:

1) Reading Birthday Books
Have you read about how I love scanning books?  If not, click here to check it out!  I am passionate about  reading books from my board - the ultimate big book!  I have a folder on my desktop called "Happy Birthday".  I keep all my digital birthday resources here.  In this folder, I have another folder filled with birthday books I have scanned.  I have thirty birthday books.  To easily track which books I have read, I named the files with numbers.  For example "1 - How do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday?"  All of my students are numbered and I read the book with their number.  If Abby Armstrong is number 1, on her birthday we are going to read How do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday.  I am not going to lie, scanning 30 books and creating digital versions of them takes time.  I put the time in several years ago and have been reaping the benefit ever since.  It is worth the initial investment of your time.  If you don't already own birthday books, look for digital versions and save yourself the hassle of scanning.  Before I realized the joys of reading from my board, I had bought entirely too many books.  I could not justify buying digital versions of books I already owned, so I started scanning.  I can't talk about scanning without mentioning that it is only okay to scan books for your own use.  You cannot share digital copies of your books, sell them, or post them on the internet.  This is a copyright violation.  I don't want to give you a bad idea that could get you into trouble!

2) Happy Birthday Handwriting
Oh man, do I ever HATE handwriting.  SO important, but SO boring!  Kids hate it, too.  BUT, they love making things for their friends.  I made some Happy Birthday handwriting sheets.  They trace the happy birthday song and turn it into a card to give to the birthday boy or girl.  It is good practice and the kids work extra hard because they want to do a nice job for their friend. These sheets are always a big hit in my classroom.  Click here to download a freebie! FYI - I predicted that I would get requests for d'nealian and cursive, so I included those options.

3)  Birthday Themed Behavior Management
Remember that birthday file on my desktop?  It also has some of my Classroom Management Life Savers with a birthday theme.  To read more about Classroom Management Life Savers, click here.  These keep the class on-track and they are extra-special when we have a birthday in the house!  I hope I am not including too many freebies in this post, but I actually love giving things away and if you have never tried my Classroom Management Life Savers, I want you to try them out.  Click here for a Birthday Puzzle.  

4)  Smells Like a Birthday!
This one is silly, but I really love it!  The sense of smell is very powerful to me and is attached to memories.  In my classroom, we melt a birthday cake scented wax cube from Scentsy only on a birthday!  All day long, it smells like birthday cake in our room.  It is a fun and easy tradition.  The kids actually notice and remind me if I forget.

5)  The Birthday Bag
I have several take-home bags for my kiddos.  One of the most popular is the birthday bag.  When a student has a birthday, they take the bag home for the night.  Inside, there are several birthday themed books and a little birthday stuffed animal.  To make the bag, I just took a plain tote and used fabric paint on the front.  On the back of my bags, I use fabric paint to write "Please enjoy this bag tonight and return it to school tomorrow."  There is also a journal for students to write about how they spent their big day.  When they return the bag the following day, they share their page with the class.  To make the journal I used a three-ring binder and clear page protectors.  In the pockets at the back of the binder, I put enough blank journal pages to last all year.  For copies of my journal pages, click here.

For more birthday ideas, visit my birthday board on Pinterest!

Make those days special for the kiddos in your classroom!  Check out these other birthday resources created by some of my very talented, Chalkie friends.

I am celebrating my birthday with a sale in my TpT store!  Stop on by to save 15% off of everything in my store!

Do you have any special ways to celebrate birthdays in your classroom?  Share them in the comments.  I would love to read them!

Until next time,

Day 15 Advent Fun

Aloha friends!! It's Corinna from Surfin' Through Second.  I hope you have been enjoying our special posts for the month of December.

Today I have a freebie for you to help get through these last few hectic days before Winter vacation.

This is a simple easy to print bingo game using holiday symbols.  It's appropriate to use from
1st to 6th grade.  Students can fill in their own cards with symbols so no one has the same card.

I have another goodie for you today.  My Polar Palooza Math Centers will be 50% off for today only!

Mele Kalikimaka!!

Advent Calendar - Day 9 Gifts and Grabs!

8. MORE. SCHOOL. DAYS!  But who's counting, right?

Nicole here, from Mrs. Rios Teaches, and it's my day to share some holiday cheer with you.  :)

I am going to come right out with it y'all.  Monday was rough!  The kids were just having a hard time focusing, and I saw so many behaviors that we had worked so hard to control, popping out all over the place.

But, then I talked to my teaching buddy from across the hall, and it was the same thing over there. Down the hall in Mrs. S' room?  Ditto!  It was unanimous!  We were all struggling with the "pre-Winter Break Wiggles."

So, I figured we may not be the only ones.  Below are two FREEBIES that I came up with to help my class stay on task, and off of Santa's Naughty List.

The first gift targets MOTIVATION!  It is a Classroom Behavior Poster!  I created these as a spin off of my Editable, Differentiated Behavior Cards (Winter/Christmas Theme).  I just have  a student color a box when, as a class, they are on task and working hard.   Use it to motivate your class to focus on your group goals! Motivate them to fill up the chart in order to earn privileges, treats, read alouds, class party, or let's face it...whatever it takes! I've made one Holiday-ish, and the other more Winter themed, so that everyone can find one that works for them! Click on the images below to download your classroom posters.
The second gift targets MOVEMENT!  The kids need an appropriate way to release their excitement, tension, nervousness, or whatever it is that makes it so hard for them to sit still, and focus, at this time of year. This pack contains easy activities that gets kids moving and working together!

So hopefully, those help you get through December, and for my Deal, I am already thinking ahead for January.  

So, I have one more goodie for exclusive deal for you to grab! I have my favorite non-fiction pack, Polar Bear Plunge! on sale for 50% off, for today only! (Deal ends 9:00 p.m. PST 12/9/14)  Click on the image below to snag your copy!
Hang in there! And don't forget to check back tomorrow!


ChalkTalk: October Edition

You are cordially invited to our ChalkTalk Vlog Linky!


A series of videos that highlight our teaching tips and tricks, and we hope you all love it as much as we do! Oh, and don’t worry, it’s going to be paid product-free! Only IDEAS or FREEBIES will be highlighted!

Look for a new ChalkTalk at the beginning of EVERY.SINGLE.MONTH.  Hit us back up on the FIRST Wednesday of each month! Mark your calendars! Woo hoo!

You can find the links to ALL Chalkies videos on each of our own ChalkTalk vlog posts, as well as at the bottom of this post. Simple!!!

Because sometimes watching a blog post is way more fun than reading one J And who doesn’t love to FINALLY hear what your Chalkies actually sound like?! AND who doesn’t LOVE getting something for nothing??!!!

Just click on the Chalkie below whose video you want to watch! You will be taken to our own vlog post that gives an overview of our video, and then you just click on the video. Easy peasy!

We would LOVE to know what you think of our ChalkTalk, so please please please leave us a comment below! We love reading and responding to you!

 Happy Watching!!!!!

Parent Conference Tips

Hi y'all! This is Casey from Second Grade Math Maniac
Most of us became teachers so that we could work with children. We perform in front of large groups daily, but get sweaty palms when we have to speak in front of people over the age of 12.  

Parent conference time can be really stressful as we attempt to communicate with other adults and not look like idiots. This is particularily true for beginning teachers. Now in year 5, I am still barely comfortable in conferences. However, I've learned a few tricks along the way to help things go more smoothly. 

 Sign Up Genius is a totally free site that I use to organize parent conferences, as well as volunteers and sometimes school meetings. 

I have learned that it is important to make notes ahead of time for every single student. I use the plus/delta system, nothing fancy. This helps me maintain control of the direction of the conversation for those tricky conferences. It also helps to honor to the time of everyone attending, no random tangents for this girl.

One of the most difficult parts of conferences is having parents say things you don't want to hear. As teachers we are constantly reflecting and beating ourselves up about how we can make things better for our students. We spend hours working on engaging lessons and the last thing we want to hear is how we can do more. In my case, my parents are being informed about my teaching methods by 7-8 year olds. This can be frustrating. In all tricky conversations with parents it is important to take a problem solving stance and at all cost avoid becoming defensive. Many times there is a root of truth to whatever the parent is sharing with you. Even if the problem is that the parent is overreacting, it is your job to diffuse the situation as much as you can rather than making it worse with defensive statements. 

You can download some helpful Parent Conference Printables here.