Learning with Mrs. Langley

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Classroom Water Bottles

Here is a cheap classroom hack from the Dollar Store to DIY and hydrate your kiddos all year long.

Are water bottles a problem in your classroom?
They are for me! I NEED my kiddos to be hydrated but the bottles from home can be a struggle. Some are too big, some are too drippy, some are too small and break easily (sounds like the three little bears...no one is ever happy!). So this year I decided I would take control and handle the water bottle situation so #1 everyone had one and #2 everyone had one that was the appropriate size. Easy peasy.

I started the first 3 weeks with the little sized disposable bottles. I just replaced them every week. Well....last week I decided enough was enough. I needed a permanent solution.

Enter Dollar Store...

My fears? They will break, they will spill, they will be hard to handle. I've was reassured from all of the blogs I read that this works so I gave it a go. We won't know until we try! Here are the bottles I purchased and put name tags on.


Here is a cheap classroom hack from the Dollar Store to DIY and hydrate your kiddos all year long.

Aren't they cute? I had to mix up the colors because I couldn't get all of them the same color (bummer). The mix is kind of fun though! Pink and purple for the girls and green and blue for the boys.  The nametags are simple clear shipping labels from Avery. Here is my affiliate link to the ones I used. If you purchase from this link I receive a small amount at no additional cost to you. 


Did it work you ask? 

Yes! 

Well...to be honest not exactly as I had planned. The labels were a bust, the printing came off of them right away but I (think) that if you had a laser printer they would be fine. 

But other than that they worked like a charm!! I just went ahead and wrote their names on the lids with a Sharpie and we were good to go. I sent them through the cafeteria dish washer once a week and my kiddos stayed hydrated and I didn't have a mess at the drinking fountain, or drippy bottles, or 72 ounce bottles bigger than their heads....you get the idea. 

*UPDATE: Did they last all year? YES!!! Well, we had a few casualties along the way. I have all tile in my room so if these were dropped they did in fact break. I had a couple do that right away and man oh man the rest of them were super careful. I bought a few extras and replaced them but once the extras were gone they were out of luck and had to use the drinking fountain. I think I had 4 using the drinking fountain by the last day of school. 

Will I do it again? Absolutely! I will look for water bottles during the summer though. Late August it was difficult to find a class set. 

What do you do to solve the hydration problem in your classroom or is it not a problem for you? We all have our "things" and this was definitely one of mine! Thanks for stopping by today! Save this post for later if you want to try this too! 
Here is a cheap classroom hack from the Dollar Store to DIY and hydrate your kiddos all year long.

Need/want/love more ideas for the classroom? 


What Are You Teaching? August 27 Plaidypus Lost


Just spent 6 hours in my classroom.....

Don't feel prepared.....

Welcome to the beginning of kindergarten!

Actually I do feel prepared, I just know there are a million things I would LIKE to do but we are not READY to do yet. It's hard to set your pace slow in order to get all of those procedures in place so we can FLY later. Patience is a virtue...patience is a virtue...

Here is what IS in the plans this week: 
Our word work this week is still focused on our letter of the week and new sight words.
Reading: This week we are adding in Read to Someone. I didn't really put that on the visual plans but we will use our group decodables and Reading Street Skills Buddy to introduce that routine. 

Centers: I am using centers from this Alphabet Centers unit I created last year when I had a few students who really struggled with alphabet recognition. They are still class favorites! 



Reading Street: Our RS unit this week is Plaidypus Lost. We have a really fun platypus to make at the end of the week that I am excited about. I am incorporating centers form this unit (click HERE) and using the book and Vocabulary Talks I created to introduce the Amazing Words. 

UPDATE: Here is a picture of that adorable "Plaidypus". They loved making these and marching out to the buses with them! 

Writer's Workshop: This week we are talking all about tools! Here are the books we are reading to talk about how to use our crayons correctly, when to use a pencil, and how to care for materials. (these are affiliate links that I receive a small amount if you purchase at no additional cost to you) 


Math: We are continuing on our Math in Focus journey. I am really enjoying this curriculum. It feels a little slow right now but thank heavens for that! We hardly have time to make it through our day so I am ok with a little slow routine building. A lot of talk about same/different and a whole lot of discovery with the numbers 1-5. I like that solid foundation. It has a fantastic calendar component as well and I am starting to get a good handle on that. Phew!  

Unit of Study: Alphabet  Our unit of study will become our social studies/science time once we are all done introducing the alphabet. For now every afternoon we use these activities to help us #1 introduce the alphabet and #2 introduce activities like cutting, gluing, listening to directions, coloring (properly) and writing. 
This week we are completing the letter H and I. That's all I could fit in! We will step it up with a couple more pages next week! 

That is our week. No eclipse this week, no days off to take my baby to college (I left that part out....this was me on Thursday)
We are smiling but we were both super nervous and ready to cry on the inside. She is doing great and starts classes tomorrow. I am so excited for her! 

So that being said....I am excited for a regular week! Have a good one! 

Save this post for later! 


Centers and Activities to go with the story Plaidypus Lost. Centers, posters for focus walls, standards aligned activities and a hands on craft each week. Take back your reading block!



Fine Motor Success

Fine motor activities for kids can help with handwriting, strengthen pencil grip, improve handwriting (which makes writing easier!) and it is just fun!  These ideas work great in a preschool, preK, kindergarten, or 1st grade classroom!

Do you ever read a blog post and then just think.....oh man, I need to do that! But then I think no, I don't have the time, when would I ever implement it, I'm sure it works for her but it won't for me....wait it's really cool though and I'm sure my kids would love it.......

Yeah, me too. The struggle is real!

I am an avid blog hopper and today's success is all thanks to Marsha at A Differentiated Kindergarten. You can read her post that inspired me HERE. It's all about fine motor morning work.

I read her post some time last year and thought to myself I should put those together because they would be great. Well...fast forward a year later and I finally got around to it! I am kicking myself because they are so awesome!  I followed her directions almost exactly to set up my fine motor drawers. Right down to the drawers I purchased at Walmart. I had most of what I needed from scrapbooking, craft time, and just random things I have saved over the years. I went to the Dollar Store and bought about $13.00 worth of materials to get started and I bought the bins at Walmart for about $56.00. That was the priciest part of the project. 

The idea of fine motor morning work is to get kiddos working with their hands to build those muscles. This was success and totally worth the money.  
Small beads and tweezers to build letters. 

Straws and scissors. Building those skills! 

Hole punches from my scrap booking days. 

$1 playdough set from the Dollar Tree. Win! 

We are working these in after our initial morning work every morning. As soon as they finish they are able to go to their bin and get to work. It is making our morning routine a super productive time! I didn't think I would have the time to fit these into my day but this little 10 minute slot is perfect! Now my fast finishers have something super productive to do and my slow bugs are motivated to get done! 

Here is an example of the morning work we use each day. You can see it in my store HERE
Right now they are all about introducing the alphabet and building routines. Later we introduce sight words, grammar skills, and sentence writing. 

Thanks for stopping in today! Again, check out A Differentiated Kindergarten for more great ideas for fine motor bins! I have just about all of her monthly sets now. They are amazing (and a great price too!)  Here are a few more things that will work great for these bins! 



Save this post for later! 
Fine motor activities for kids can help with handwriting, strengthen pencil grip, improve handwriting (which makes writing easier!) and it is just fun!  These ideas work great in a preschool, preK, kindergarten, or 1st grade classroom!

What are you teaching? August 21 We Are So Proud


It's here! Eclipse week! Are you ready? Are you in school? We are and we are doing all kinds of fun stuff but we aren't allowed to go outside unless we have approved glasses (I couldn't get my hands on any). So we will be live streaming from the classroom and doing a lot of activities. I'm excited! I hope it's not too overcast tomorrow! 

Here are our visual plans for the week: 
Lots of fun stuff this week! Here is a QUICK run down (it's my bedtime!) 

Morning Work: Unit 1, Week 2. We are building routines! After morning work this week they will go to a fine motor bin with a partner. This is my first time using these so I will let you know how that goes! 

Read to Self: We will be using our curriculum pieces during our Read to Self time this week as we build stamina. We are up to about 5 minutes of undisturbed reading time. That's amazing!!  Our story of the week is We Are So Proud. 

I am also using a new product I created this summer to introduce our amazing words and vocabulary for the week. They are VOCABULARY TALK CARDS that get the students talking about the vocabulary by looking at pictures. I did these last week with our story and I LOVED the conversations I heard during this lesson. Here is a little peek: 
They pointed and talked about the pictures and then we got together and introduced the words each picture showed. I always struggle with new ways to introduce vocabulary to little ones, rather than just telling them. This was perfect! 

Writer's Workshop: In WW this week we will be introducing our notebooks. Students will get a bright shiny new notebook on Tuesday and we will talk about taking care of it all week. We are reading a lot of my favorite stories this week! 

Math: Math is going great with Math in Focus. I am very excited about this new curriculum. It has been easy to implement and provides a lot of opportunity for rich math conversation in the classroom. 

Alphabet Book: This week we will complete the E (elephant), F (fish), G (gumball), and H (Hippo) pages. 
Thanks for stopping in today! Have fun where ever you are tomorrow watching the eclipse...or not...sorry if you are out of the viewing area! 

Save this post for later: 
Centers and Activities to go with the story We Are So Proud. Centers, posters for focus walls, standards aligned activities and a hands on craft each week. Take back your reading block!

What Are You Teaching? August 14

This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small amount of compensation if you click on the link and purchase at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my family and my blogging hobby! 

It feels like FOREVER since I've done a What Are You Teaching? post. It feels good to be back in school! Here we go for week 1 of a brand new school year!

I made a quick visual lesson plan so you can see all of the activities and books I am reading this week to introduce Daily 5 and Writer's Workshop this week. I'll follow with links and ideas.


Morning Work: 
After our morning meeting students go to their seat and complete this morning work.
This blog post is all about the organization and setup of the first real week of kindergarten. There are ideas for morning work, math, centers, and a fun school bus craft. #classroom #classroomactivities #kindergarten #classroomschedule #firstdayofschool

This is the 5 minutes a day I check their home/school folders, take attendance, and put out fires (aka help fix bad moods). I also use these to introduce the alphabet the first six weeks of school. We introduce the page and then students can work for a few minutes independently (baby steps!). When they are done they raise their hand (great procedure to get in place day 1) and I come by to check their work (include a little praise) and then they get to go to a fine motor station until every is done. I'm going to blog about my fine motor stations later this week, I'm still setting those up!


Read to Self:
This week we are introducing Read to Self by reading wordless books together. This week my job is to convince them that they are already readers! I think our first couple of days last week gave them a good start but I really want to hit it home this week. Here are some affiliate links to the books we will be reading this week. I blogged about how I use these HERE. This is truly one of my favorite lessons to teach in Kindergarten!  


Daily 5 Word Work Station:
We will introduce the simplest of centers this week to get our routine down. I add pictures to our center boxes so students can see exactly what they need to do in the center. I also include a white board and a dry erase marker so they can write the alphabet if they finish early. Here are a couple of examples of the pictures. All of our centers are just gobs and gobs of letter practice. 
 You can get this center HERE along with  some other great letter recognition activities. 

Reading Street: 
Our first story is The Little School Bus. I'm excited about our centers because I spent most of June revamping them. I made new activities to go with each story and some crafts too. We start pretty simply with some letter naming activities for A,B,C,D, and E, a little rhyming activity and a comprehension page to introduce character. Later in the week we will do the school bus activity shown here: 
This blog post is all about the organization and setup of the first real week of kindergarten. There are ideas for morning work, math, centers, and a fun school bus craft. #classroom #classroomactivities #kindergarten #classroomschedule #firstdayofschool
You can see this unit in my TPT shop HERE.

Writer's Workshop: 
This week we will be introducing the very beginning steps of Writer's Workshop. I will read Look! Look! Look! to get them looking at ME while we are at the rug. It's a great book for that! The next couple of days we read Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa Partners to talk about how we sit with our partner and share our story before we go back to our seats. I also read Too Much Noise, one of my all time favorites because it is really good for group participation. 


Math: 
I am really excited to start our new curriculum Math in Focus. I helped pilot it last year and our district just adopted it. It's really nice to get a fresh new box of learning materials and this one is especially good because it's not super overwhelming! 2 Teacher manuals, 2 big books, and some work books. It's very hands on and incorporates a lot of collaborative learning. I can't wait to see where it takes us! 

With any math curriculum you still need that handwriting practice in kindergarten. We will be using Daily Math Review as our warm up (or cool down) in between activities. It includes a lot of writing instruction for the numbers 0-5 in the beginning and then moves on to 6-10 and beyond. It also gives students a chance to count and solve problems in an easy 5 question format. 
This blog post is all about the organization and setup of the first real week of kindergarten. There are ideas for morning work, math, centers, and a fun school bus craft. #classroom #classroomactivities #kindergarten #classroomschedule #firstdayofschool

Phew.....almost done! 


Unit of Study: Alphabet
Our unit of study will become our social studies/science time once we are all done introducing the alphabet. For now every afternoon we use these activities to help us #1 introduce the alphabet and #2 introduce activities like cutting, gluing, listening to directions, coloring (properly) and writing. 
This week we are completing the pages for C,D,E, and F. 
This blog post is all about the organization and setup of the first real week of kindergarten. There are ideas for morning work, math, centers, and a fun school bus craft. #classroom #classroomactivities #kindergarten #classroomschedule #firstdayofschool

That is our week! We had 2 1/2 days last week that were mainly just a mix of trying to sit at the rug and taking bathroom breaks. If we can get more than that done this week we will be winning! 

First Day of Kindergarten and FREE labels!

What does the first day of kindergarten really look like? Be ready for the first day with activities, a name tag free file, craft, and reasonable expectations. Have a successful first day in preschool kindergarten or 1st grade!

Are you ready for back to school? I am! Actually, we already had our first day of school and we are just about in full swing. It was a great first 3 days of school and I know next week will be even better as we begin to build some routines. Here are a few of my favorite things from the first day. 

You are "of-fish-ally" in kindergarten! 
I had a spot ready for every student with a water bottle (super important!), gold fish, coloring page, and this year I added a little pencil box with manipulatives inside. It went great! I was able to answer parent questions, calm nervous kiddos, and keep everyone in their seat while we got our bearings in the first 15 minutes. Everyone enjoyed coloring this page from Creative Lesson Cafe and I am keeping it for their portfolios. Oh, they enjoyed the snack too! You can get the labels for free HERE!


Morning Meeting
I wanted to start the first day off right with a morning meeting so I could get that routine rolling. I liked adding this question to the end of our morning message. We read First Day Jitters first to show that even teachers can feel nervous on the first day. Most of my kiddos said they were happy or excited but a few were honest and said they were sad or nervous. We only had 2 cryer's this year, so most of them really were just happy or excited! 


What an actual first day of kindergarten looks like in the classroom! Ideas for first day crafts, organization, and how to introduce rules and procedures. You have your classroom and supplies ready, now plan for your students!


First Day Name Project
This is my FAVORITE back to school project! My mentor teacher showed me this about 12 years ago when I first started kindergarten and I still love it every year! This was the first year I got to actually take part because (long story) I've shared 2 half day classes with another teacher and she always did this with them but I got to enjoy the fruits of her labor. We went full day this year (no more sharing two groups) so I got to do it this year! It wasn't as easy as I remember! I blame it on a clogged glue bottle but the instructions are pretty simple: 

  • Trace each child's name on black or white paper in pencil. 
  • Prepare small pieces of rainbow construction paper. 
  • Trace the first letter of each child's name with glue and give them a red piece of construction paper. 
  • Students tear tiny pieces to cover the glue. 
  • When students finish their letter I have them raise their hand (good teaching moment on the first day) and I come by and trace the next letter with glue and give them the next color (orange, yellow, green, blue...) 
  • Have some bins with manipulatives ready for them to use if they finish fast! 

What an actual first day of kindergarten looks like in the classroom! Ideas for first day crafts, organization, and how to introduce rules and procedures. You have your classroom and supplies ready, now plan for your students!

I love the result! We hang these in the hallway and they stay there all year. We usually do white paper but went with black this year. I love how they turned out!

I have this activity and so many more all wrapped up in one happy package HERE in this Surviving Kindergarten post. 

Are you new to kindergarten? Feeling uneasy about the first day? Let me help you make the most of your first few days of kindergarten. This product has everything you need to create a positive classroom environment, introduce rules and procedures, and have tons of fun the first week of kindergarten!


Ok, last but certainly not least...I got this cute "Happy First Day" treat from one of my sweeties. It was SO GOOD at about 3:30 after the first day of school when I was totally exhausted and totally forgot I was on a diet. Oh well....every delicious calorie was worth it! 
What an actual first day of kindergarten looks like in the classroom! Ideas for first day crafts, organization, and how to introduce rules and procedures. You have your classroom and supplies ready, now plan for your students!

What are your favorite activities to do on the first day? There are so many options! Our first day went great, I hope yours does too! 

Here are all of our favorite Back to School Rules and Procedures to introduce in the first few days! 

And some FREEBIE labels too!

Save this post for later!
What does the first day of kindergarten really look like? Be ready for the first day with activities, a name tag free file, craft, and reasonable expectations. Have a successful first day in preschool kindergarten or 1st grade!