What Worked Well Wednesday: Math Tubs

Welcome to the first week of What Worked Well Wednesday from the Kinder Tribe!  This group has been such an inspiration to me and I'm thrilled to be a part of it!  You can link up (when you are done here of course!)  with something that worked well for you too! 

I OFFICIALLY report back tomorrow.  For this first WWW Wednesday  I'm going to go back to a great procedure I implemented last year that helped a TON during math time. 
 I made these math tubs out of dishpans from Wal-Mart (about $1.99 each).  I used Mod Podge to attach the numbers to the front to keep them organized on my shelf.  The numbers don't mean anything!!  Strange I know, but I like to know they stay in the same order and the kiddos have to put them back where they belong.
 After we finish our regular math lesson and partner work students go back to their seats to complete independent work.  When they are done they raise their hand to come see me at the  my small group table and I check over their work.  If it is really "done" (they GOT it!) I let them go to a math tub.  They get a tub and a rug and go find a place to work.  They can work on their own or with a partner.  I keep all kinds of things in the tubs like pattern blocks, ten frames, building blocks, and sorting materials (at the beginning of the year).  As we learn new skills I add them to the math tubs.  These are a great way to reinforce math concepts in the classroom!  

Bonus for me?  Those students that are struggling with the independent work get to come to the small group table and work one on one with me on the independent work.  I get to that important time with students and EVERYONE is engaged.  Perfect! 

I've created some games that I like to include in my math tubs.  These are a huge favorite in the classroom!  Lots of fun with a gameboard and dice! 

So that's my WWW Wedensday.  NOW you can go link up with Kinder Tribe!  Click HERE to see some other great posts from some great kindergarten teachers!

Monday Made It July 27 BTS FREEBIES

 Today is my first day back to school, ARG!  We are not OFFICIALLY back yet but I do back to school conferences with parents before I report back (super useful!).  I'm done with 30 at this point, only 18 more to go! 

So this Monday Made It was squeezed in, but I can't miss all the fun!
 I never do little gifts on the first day of school.  NOT because I don't want to but usually because I don't have time.  I didn't have to move classroom this year so I'm hoping to start this year off with some cute projects!  I don't have my goldfish to go with these yet, but I made a set (Kindergarten through 3rd grade) to get them ready for my kiddos next Wednesday! Click HERE to get your copy!
Along the lines of little gifts, I remembered I had these bubbles in my closet.  So I threw together this cute little note to have this out at Open House.  These will be waiting for them at their seats. Click HERE to get a copy of the note!

 I worked on this classroom set this weekend for my teaching partner. 
Click HERE to see it in my store.
I also created a ninja set for my friend's husband.  He is a black belt in TKD and wanted a ninja theme in his classroom! This one was pretty fun to create!
I think I have my classroom decorations out of my system now!  It's so much fun to create a whole new classroom right in front of you though, total therapy for me!  All my decor sets are only $5 and you can redo your whole room with them!

Thank you for stopping by today!  Don't forget to link up with Tara for MMI at 4th Grade Frolics!

{Week 1} BTS in a Flash! Teacher Faves

This week....teacher faves.  My favorite!
I have a lot of favorites, but these are my must haves for the school year!
 Honestly, it's just a sippy cup for grown ups!  They work great to keep on your desk though if you are prone to spills.  I AM!  I can't tell you how many times I have spilled a water bottle (or coffee...ugh) on my desk.  These don't spill.....ever!
 It seems to be all the rage but honestly Flair pens have been around forever.  Remember those red pens your teacher use to grade your papers with?  Flair pen!  Then they made black and eventually purple but now you can get the whole rainbow. I have a special cup on my desk just for my Flair pens, don't mix them!
 Every time I participate in a "favorites" I have to share this one.  Before I started teaching I had time to scrapbook and I was one scrapbooking mama!  I bought this way back then and now it lives in my classroom.  I can't believe how long it has lasted.  I probably need a new one!
 Did you know that Sharpie makes flip chart markers that DON'T bleed through?  I love me a good anchor chart and these are a must have to make them cute! 
I've always made plans as a word document.  I like the option of being able to cut and paste and change the colors but guess what? They take  FOREVER!  Every Sunday I spent hours going through my plans and making them when I could have written out on Friday before I left school.  So I'm going back to hand written plans and took the plunge and bought a teacher planner.  I have the life planner and love it, so this has to be on my teacher faves list....because I am anticipating loving it!

Are you thinking about taking the plunge?  If you use THIS CODE you can get $10 off a new teacher planner!  If you order now it will be here before school starts! 

Thanks for stopping by! Now head over to Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher to link up! 

I Like Kids' Books (and I can not lie!)

My favorite subject!  Books!  I have to say my favorite class in college was Children's Lit.  I loved it so much I took Children's Lit II even though I didn't need it.  I also participate in our monthly Teachers as Readers group where we just sit and talk and eat and discuss children's books.  See.....I'm not lying! 
I have LOTS of favorites but here is my declared "favorite" because it's always the first one that pops in my head when asked this question. 
I use Molly Lou as an example of enthusiasm, perseverance, and pure joy in the classroom!  I found her by accident when I was going to college many moons ago.  My assignment was to read a book to the class and discuss it, but I forgot to prepare.  On the way to school that day I stopped at the post office and Molly Lou was waiting for me, thank heavens for book clubs!  I'm a risk taker just like Molly Lou, I didn't even preview it before I read it aloud to the class (I aced the assignment!) I think this could be part of the reason she will always be my favorite!
My love for Kate DiCamillo's books came when I was teaching 5th grade.  I read The Tale of Despereaux to my class and fell in love with a little mouse who fell in love with a princess.  Since then I have made a point to read every book she has ever written and they are all my favorite!  I'm not a huge fan of the fantasy genre, but I love her whimsical look at life outside of the realistic.   Her books are a great way to introduce the genre! 

Teaching kindergarten I was happy to discover Mercy Watson.  He is a fun little pig that goes on many adventures (and loves toast!).  The kiddos love him too and they are perfect little "first" chapter books.  

And last but not least.....

On the very first day of Kindergarten I introduce Read to Self to my students as part of our Daily 5 routine.  I tell them they are going to learn to read in Kindergarten (shocked faces all around) and then I tell them they all actually already know how to read (jaws hit the floor).  It's so fun to introduce reading the pictures as a way to read and A Ball for Daisy is a great wordless book for that.  You go through a whole range of emotions with Daisy as she loses her beloved ball (to a bully no less) and then to find out the bully is actually a nice guy that replaces her ball the next day. Lots of fun and zero words.  It's a great way to introduce this skill!

I made this freebie a while back to go with the book.  You can get it HERE


Thank you for stopping by today, don't forget to link up with Primary Polka Dots for I like Kids' Books linky! You can click HERE to get there!

Kinder Tribe: All About THIS Kinder Teacher!

Good morning!  I am linking up with Kinder Tribe for a little get to know you activity!  I can't wait to find out more about my Kindergarten friends! 


Here's a little ALL ABOUT this KINDER TEACHER!
Hi!  My name is Heather Langley and I am going into my 11th year of teaching.  This will be my 5th year teaching kindergarten but only the second of teaching a half day program.  I'm still adjusting!  I absolutely CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT my Fiskar paper cutter.  I use it on a daily basis.  I can't believe it is probably over 10 years old and it still cuts paper.  I can't even find refills for the blade!

My FAVORITE SCHOOL SUPPLY is the ever popular FLAIR PENS!  Who can survive their school year without these at their desk?  Seriously, this picture makes me absolutely giddy!

My favorite first day of school book is Tiptoe into Kindergarten.  I love it because it really speaks to those kids that come in a little scared.  It helps ease nerves on the first day!

I'm a big fan of Mr. Greg at Kindergarten Smorgasboard and watch all of his live Youtube events and whatnot.  I also really love Deedee at Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten and link up with her for visual lesson plans every week.

 I have to say though, my first blog that I really watched and listened and yes....she may have been my homepage at some point....Jessica Meacham.  I was a jmeacham.com groupie before there was even such a thing as "following" a blog or TPT or anything social media related.  She held my hand (not literally, but she was a huge comfort to me) when I started teaching kindergarten 10 years ago.  I have implemented things in my classroom that I learned from her that I still use to this day.  I just redid my library and the whole time I was thinking about her blog posts about classroom library organization.  When she accepted my friend request on FB I was so excited!  I walked around on cloud 9 for days! 

Ok....enough fan girl gushing....back to the task at hand. :)

Why do I love teaching Kindergarten?  There are not enough words!  I have had the unique (maybe, or maybe not) opportunity to teach Kindergarten, leave it for awhile, and then come back.  I went back because at my school at the time it was the right thing to do.  We needed someone and I was up to the "challenge" so I went back to Kinder after teaching 5th and 1st for a number of years.  I have to tell you, after a few short weeks I remembered what I was missing! 

The sweet moments that you spend comforting the child that "misses their mommy" (daily during back to school time!)
Reading outloud......they hang on every word.
Hearing a child say honestly....."OH, I get it!"
Introducing a new concept for the very first time.....
Toothless grins :)
Songs that never end....
The little buddy that runs out of steam at the end of the day and naps under your desk.
Being their very first teacher ever. (I recognize, this isn't always true, but a lot of the time it is).

And last but not least.  Who was your kindergarten teacher?  Mine was Mrs. Shepard and I am still friends with her on FB.  Really!  No one, well, almost no one....ever forgets their Kindergarten teacher. I take that responsibility seriously and try my best every day to make Kindergarten the best place ever that they will remember forever!  THAT'S why I love teaching Kindergarten!

Monday Made It: "Space Man" freebie

Just in case you think I'm crazy, I know it's not Monday.  I was busy yesterday...but I have some cute projects to share so I couldn't wait all the way until NEXT Monday.  THAT would be crazy.
So let's get started!

I have seen a lot of people asking about "space men" on some forums I am part of.  I had some space men for writing a few years ago but I don't know what happened to them.  To be honest...I'm a firm believer in teaching "finger spaces" because our little writers will not always have a space man with them in life.  However, I thought it might be a good idea to get some for the start of the year because they are fun and teach the concept.  I didn't want to spend any money on them though so I came up with these....
I had the colored popsicle sticks and of course the mod podge, so I made the little fingers and tada!  Finger spaces!  I also color coded them so I could add them to our community supplies in the middle of each table.  Now everyone will have one if they need it! You can get the little fingers HERE, I used the cute finger clip art from Melonheadz. :) 
I made one of these for my door and for my teaching partner too! 
Haha!  Evidently "podged" is not a word and my handy dandy PowerPoint underlined it right when I went in for the screen shot.  Now you all know I was being lazy and didn't save it as a picture.....I'm not changing it, it makes me laugh! 

I had a big "L" hanging on my door last year and I couldn't find the same size to match so I made new ones that coordinate for both of us.  We have a shared space so of course they have to coordinate! 

That's my MMI!  I go back to school next week and the kiddos come back on August 5th.  For me that's the sad reality that I probably won't have any time for anymore MMI's this summer, but I'll try to make it one more week!  I've enjoyed linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics all summer, go check it out now to discover some great DYI projects from some amazing teachers!

AND....oh my lanta, there are so many cool things happening right now!  Our Kinder Tribe blog launched today, and there are a ton of amazing giveaways happening there.  If you teach Kinder you NEED to follow this blog.  It will connect you with like minded teachers EVERYWHERE!  Because honestly....no one gets a kindergarten teacher like another kindergarten teacher! 
Thanks for stopping by friends!

Library Organization: Getting ready!

My biggest project this summer?  My library!!!  I was a book hoarder long before I became a teacher.  Once I started teaching it just got worse. If there are books left in the lounge I always look through them (still!)  I have moved into rooms where the teacher before me left everything, and I rarely get rid of any of it (if it's a book).  LONG story SHORT....I have a ton of books! 

There are many ways to organize your books.  Believe me...I've tried them all!  There are a few key details that you need to keep in mind if you are getting your library ready for littles.  I (think) I have figured out everything you need to know to have a perfect library. 

How do I organize my books?

There are quite a few options, depending on your preference:
1.  Fiction/Nonfiction tubs organized by subject, author, and/or characters.
2.  Reading Level (if you use AR or another system like it, you may be required to organize your library this way). 
3.  By subject/author/characters

Once you start organizing you need A LOT OF SPACE!  Start sorting your books by subject (or level, or nonfiction/fiction) to see what you have.  This is a tiny part of my collection....
  The first time I had to sort through all my books I had them in every part of my classroom.  All 4 of my tables were filled and the floor too!  If you don't know what subjects you have you can't move forward.  I made the mistake of labeling my book boxes first one year (just from memory) thinking I KNEW what books I had.  Guess what?  I didn't know!  I had book boxes with a million books in them and others that were empty.  My kiddos couldn't find what they wanted because I didn't label them with them in mind.  Now I know better!
I organized my library by subject because my kiddos have all different interests.  I've tried all different ways but this is the best I've found.  They shop by interest at this point so I have all different levels of books in every bin.  As a matter of fact, I don't even pay attention to level when putting books in bins (or grabbing them from the "free" pile).  Every book is readable at this point.  We learn right away in kinder we can read the picture, the words, or retell the story.  My really high level nonfiction books are the favorites in the classroom! 

Labels have 2 different purposes.  One....to attract the reader.  You like bats?  We've got bats!  And there is an awesome little picture of a bat just in case you can't read the word BAT!  

Two....we need a way to make sure we know where to put them when we are done!  They might not realize that the BAT book belongs in the BAT bin when they are done with it next week.  In the past I have put stickers in side each book to make sure kiddos knew where to put the book when they were done with it.  It took FOR.E.VER to put all those little stickers in and every time I got a new book I had to find the file, print a new label, find the book, stick the sticker........you get the picture.  It was a pain.  

This year I labeled my library by interest with adorable pictures so my kiddos can find the books they want.  I added a NUMBER STICKER in a color code so they can find the bin and put it back!  No more Mrs.Langley putting back all the books on her own after they leave for the day.  (Yay!)  I have green, red, and blue bins in my room and all they have to do is look inside their book, find the number (and the color) and put it in the right bin.  All I have to do is put a little number inside each book (with a colored sharpie).  No more printing out labels and sticking stickers inside books.  Hooray!

THAT's what I did today.  All day....organizing and labeling!  It is such a great feeling knowing that my library is ready (minus 4 bins.....I have to find a way to find 4 large green bins otherwise my OCD will distract me).  Here is a little video I took of my library.  The last tip I have for you is to spread your books out throughout the classroom so all your kiddos are not on top of each other when they shop for books. 

I should have played music or something....sorry, I'm a video newbie.  I'm trying to get the nerve up to post on Periscope.  Not a big fan of being in front of the camera! 

If you are interested in my new labels I have them available in my store HERE.  There are square and circle labels in the product. I am very open to adding subjects if you need them, I tried to cover all the bases but you may have an awesome collection of books on something I don't have I can add it. 
Thanks for stopping by today for some library organization tips.  Do you have any tips to share? 

Alphabet Superhero: Learning our ABC's is an ADVENTURE!

I've been working on a product for the start of the new school year for a little while now.  OK, since Spring Break!  This was a massive under taking and there were moments that I wondered what I was doing.  I was not disappointed with the end result!

Alphabet Superheroes have everything you need to teach every letter of the alphabet.  Each set has letter recognition activities, hands on crafts and activities, and worksheets for extra practice.  There is a craft included for each letter (which I intend on saving and turning into an alphabet book!).

Here is a little sneak peek!


I generally don't do a "look at what I made" post but I'm just so excited about these! We have a half day program at our school and these activities will happen in our extention program.  I will also be using some of the activities in my daily centers.  

Thanks for stopping by tonight, I'll be posting my Monday Made It late tomorrow because I got busy today and forgot it was Monday!  I have a cute project though, I just have to put it together :) 
Until then, enjoy the sunshine! 

Teaching with Intention: Chapter 6

I am beyond excited to team up with Teaching with Southern Style and Jen Hart Design for Chapter 6 of Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller.   We are so excited to be hosting!  This chapter gets down to the nuts and bolts of lesson design and I had some major reflection going on with my own practices.  
Did you?

I really had to wrap my brain around all of the information that was presented in this chapter so I started with the lesson design template that Debbie introduced.  There are 4 key components on the first page to get you started in the design process.  I simplified them so I could process the process!

What is the focus of this lesson?  What do I want students to learn?  OBJECTIVE!

Do you post objectives?  We do in our district so I need to have them posted for each lesson throughout the day.  This is one of those things we started doing a few years ago and we have gone from really complicated objectives to kid friendly objectives and back again.  It seems we can never agree on what needs to be posted!  No matter what the format,  I do feel strongly that this is an important part of the lesson and an even more important part of the planning process.  Before you map out your lesson you should ask yourself this question, "What do I want students to learn?"

Why is this important?  How will it help students? PURPOSE!

This is HUGE (in my opinion!).....we use the word purpose in our classroom A LOT!  I'm a firm believer in making sure kiddos know why you are doing something.  I don't like being led down a road when I don't know where I am going and I don't think our students do either.  Think about the purpose of the lesson, why it is important, and how it will help the students become better readers, mathematicians, or scientists.  Regardless of the subject matter, purpose is always key.

How do I use this skill or strategy myself? MAKE IT PERSONAL!

If you are teaching students to read you are the expert in their eyes.  You are their role model and they look up to you (really, they do!).  Share your own personal thoughts on how to use the skill or strategy and that's really the only hook you need to get them engaged.  This is where the science and art of teaching come together.  You are the artist and a personal example of how you use the skill lets them know that you think this is important.  The science of teaching comes into the planning process to make sure you are ready for that!

What connections can I I help students make? CONNECT TO PRIOR LEARNING! 

Think back to other lessons that you have had recently or earlier in the school year.  What experiences do they have with this type of text?  This is a great place to list all of those ideas before you teach the lesson so you can have that mapped out ahead of time.  Don't leave this conversation to chance!

Once you have your plan started it's time to get down to the meat of the lesson.  How am I going to show students how to do all this great stuff?

Keep planning!  Don't just jump right in there (even though I know you'll be tempted....or run out of time....or get caught in the copy room with a jammed copier....) but seriously, take the time to map out what you want to do and the delivery of the lesson will be all that much easier.  Debbie asked early in the chapter, "How does everything just seem to come together?"  It's not happenstance, it's teaching with intention!

Showing Students How: Modeling/Think Aloud

List your materials (and gather them!).  Don't be like me and just KNOW that the book you want to use is right there in your teaching tub from last year only to find out it has gone missing.  Did I loan it out?  Is it lost?  Does a student have it in their book box?  Don't leave any materials to chance!

Showing Students How:  Demonstration

What do I need to have in place before I teach this lesson?  Have I already showed them how to do Think, Pair, Share?  Do they know who to turn to?  What if someone is missing?  Make sure those procedures are in place in your classroom EARLY in the year so you can rely on them all year long!

Showing Students How: Guided Practice

This next section gives you an opportunity to make a game plan.  Know what you are going to do before you do it.  Will I have them close their eyes and think about a book they have read?  When will they share with their partner?  How soon before I have them share?  Think about these questions and plan for them.

ANCHOR CHART!!!!!!  This was a big one for me!  Plan it, don't chance it.  I love to create an anchor chart with the students and I really believe this is the PURPOSE of an anchor chart.  It is our learning for the rest of the world to see.  My OCD gets in the way of this all the time!  If I don't plan it out ahead of time I run out of room, forget a heading, use the wrong color of pen.....you name it!  If you have an idea of what you are doing before hand you will create an authentic piece of learning for the world to see.

What's next?

You've taught the lesson, you are ready to let them go practice!  Plan for that too!
I love all of the choices that are included in Debbie's template.  First, those materials again.  Make sure you know what your students will be using.  For most of my reading lessons it will be their own books from their book box but there may be some other materials they need.   Then plan out what students will be doing and what you will be doing.  This will different for every lesson depending on what type of practice you need with the skill or strategy.

When your students have had their guided and independent practice it's time to come back together.  This is their time to Reflect, Share, and Teach.
 Plan out your questions for the students.  What did you notice?  I ask this one a lot, and I always get the same answer....."It was quiet....."  "People were working...."  We want them to be noticing things other than behavior (although that's always nice!)  Plan your questions to guide them to reflect on the skill or strategy.

Phew!  NOW you can go teach!  This seems like a mountain of information to process and it seems really overwhelming at first but once you start you realize it's the natural process we go through when planning (or just thinking about) a lesson.  The key to this chapter is that nothing just happens in the classroom.  It takes intentional planning to create a classroom community of learners.  A community that knows where they are going and works together to get there.
Reflecting on my own practices I realize that sometimes I have days that everything goes perfectly (because I planned it that way) and sometimes everything falls into place (because I am lucky).  If I want more perfect days I need to plan for them and not rely on luck because honestly I'm just not that lucky!  I plan on using this template to map out my first few weeks of Kindergarten to make sure I get off on the right foot.  If you would like a copy you can get it HERE or click on the picture.

I can't wait to hear what you have to say about this chapter!  Don't forget to visit my co-hosts
and the wonderful Greg at
and link up with your own thoughts here:

Monday Made It: July 13

 I used a lot of MOD PODGE for my MMI.  Did you know it is called MOD PODGE and not MODGE PODGE?  My smarty pants middle little told me that and I didn't believe her....until I read the bottle.  Sure enough it is MOD PODGE.  Lesson learned!  I'm so embarrassed if people have thought I was a dork for calling it MODGE PODGE!  Ok, I've hit my limit for using the words MOD, MODGE, and PODGE!
 People have been talking about these lately on social media so it inspired me to make a few for my back to school centers.  I was obsessed with these a few years ago and made them to go with everything in my room.  I've never made an alphabet set though! 

Here are the easy steps: 
1.  I cut my paper with a 1" circle punch to make it easy!  If you have to cut out a bunch of little circles on your own it gets a little tedious (believe me....I've done it!).  I got this little circle punch at Walmart.  There was a cute scalloped one too.  
I still had to trim a little bit to get the circles to fit, but the circle punch made the job a lot easier. 
2.  I added a splash of color to each piece of paper with a stamp pad (it was just something I had) but you could use any cute scrapbook paper or leave them plain white too. 
3.  I wrote the letters with black Sharpie.  You could also use letter stickers! 
4.  Coat the top of the paper circle with Mod Podge and also put a little bit on the gem.  I use a regular paint brush to "paint" it on.  Stick the circle to the back of the gem and let it dry.  I also put a coat of Mod Podge on top of the paper to help it adhere to the gem and smooth down any edges. 
5.  After they dry, you can attach a magnet to the back to make them a magnet. (I've done this to make gems to attach to my white board).

What else can you turn these into? 

I have used them as an attendance board: 
I made an attendance board a couple of years ago with my students pictures.  Every morning they would move their picture to show if they were eating lunch in the cafeteria or a lunch from home.  Any little faces left over were absent.  It worked like a charm.  Attendance is a breeze when they are responsible for it (Because I always forget!)

Ok, I told you I was obsessed with these right?  This was how we kept track of our Daily 5 stations a couple of years ago.  Students put the number of the station they were at for they day next to their name.  It was really easy to see who was completing what with this system! 

Monday Made It #2 is a solution to one of my problems from last year.  I could not find a way to organize my letter stamps that worked well for ME and my students.  (key word being ME!)  They were always a mess so I always ended up shutting down this center.  

Problem solved!  I turned a teacher toolbox into a storage center.  Coolest part?  I can hang this on the wall!  I'm not SUPER happy with the way the stamps turned out (my 1" circle punch wasn't quite big enough!) but I am happy to have all my stamps in one neat place.  I think this works for now!
That's my MMI for today.  I am STILL WAITING for my floors to be done so I can get in my classroom and it is getting frustrating.  I want to get going on getting my furniture arranged!  Hopefully this week it will get done and I can get started.  Don't forget to link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for MMI. 
Have a great week everyone!