Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Week of Kindness... Five for Friday!

Kindness. Isn't it a lovely word?

We try to recognize and celebrate kindness every day, all year long, at our school.

But a week just for kindness? A chance to start each day asking, specifically, What can YOU do to be kind today? What an awesome opportunity!

Heart paper from Surfin' Through Second HERE on TpT
I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share about some of the kindness that has been celebrated around our campus this week as we participated in the Great Kindness Challenge!

I had the opportunity to meet Jill McManigal from Kids for Peace last year at a Character Education Workshop. My buddy, Barbara Gruener was there too--in full superhero garb! Drop by Barbara's blog, the Corner on Character HERE to read about the Great Kindness Challenge in Friendswood. And if you type "kindness" into the search box on Barbara's blog, you will need a second cup of coffee. I'm telling you: That blog is just filled with love and kindness and all things wonderful!

Jill is the perfect ambassador for The Great Kindness Challenge. Immediately after meeting her, I knew I wanted to join her in her desire to share the message that KINDNESS MATTERS! You can read more about the organization, Kids for Peace HERE, and about the Great Kindness challenge by clicking the picture below...

We emphasize one character trait each month through our character education program at our school. Then, any chance we get, teachers recognize when students demonstrate the identified trait and fill out a card commending the student. Knowing that The Great Kindness Challenge was coming, we chose Kindness as the word for January. An there were plenty of kind acts to celebrate this month!
Bucket Graphics by Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs found HERE at TpT

At the beginning if this week, we brainstormed all of the possible acts of kindness we could accomplish--both at home and at school--during the week of the Great Kindness Challenge. The students worked in cooperative groups--but they were more than willing to share their ideas with other groups--such kindness! We made a bulletin board with some of our favorites.


On Wednesday, the Student Council members went to an assembly at the high school along with representatives from all of the other local elementary schools. It was yet another step in our Great Kindness Challenge! I couldn't get a substitute to cover my class while I accompanied my kids to the event. I shouldn't have worried; my principal quickly offered to attend the event with the kids. Such kindness! The Council members were excited to return with their Kindness Matters bracelets (Another gift from Kids for Peace!) and they had lots of new ideas for generating kindness at our school.

I am so fortunate to work at a school where character education is valued. Each month, the students decorate the doors to their classrooms with the character trait of the month. At the end of the month, the principal brings her "Character Sleuths" around the campus and they celebrate those classrooms that have participated. I love the recognition for kindness that is now displayed on our door!

The students in my room decorated our door with "mini lists" of the acts of kindness that they had accomplished throughout the week. (Some students had completed a lot more than ten!) I am having the best time reading them... enjoying their goodness and the way they express themselves. I am thinking it might be an act of kindness to let them know that "lended" is not a "common" word in English (although, statistically, we may be skewing the occurrence!) And I love their efforts to be kind to the lunch lady (Most said thank you--but a few added compliments!

frame by Ashley Hughes HERE in TpT


I just had to share this kindness that was sent in my direction. I have some wonderfully sweet and kind kiddos in my classroom this year. I almost cried when one of them handed me this (And I DID cry later when I read the precious note that he wrote!). Sigh. Such kindnesses are long remembered...

I'm starting to think of some more ways to recognize and celebrate kindness at our school. It really has made our classroom a happier place this week. Knowing Jill, she is probably already formulating plans for the Great Kindness Challenge for 2016!  It's a wonderful (and easy!) way to focus on increasing kind act, ending bullying, using kind words, and just recognizing the good in people. I hope you will check in when the activities are closer to finalized, and that you will join us next year!

In addition, you might want to check out Kids for Peace. There are lots of sweet ideas there too! (And you can read more about Jill). Just click on the link below to read more.

And, it's always fun to check in on Doodle Bugs' Five for Friday. Click below to return to the link-up.

Hoping your week ahead is filled with kindness!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

A Bright Idea: Color-Coded Supply Organization!

WooHoo! It's time, once again, for the Bright Ideas Link Up... , a "commercial free" (no store links) collection of teacher-approved ideas for the classroom. I love the Bright Ideas Link Up--I enjoy spending Bright Idea Saturday morning sipping my coffee and gathering ideas to make my life easier!

I am always looking for ways to keep student supplies organized so that I don't have to run around saying "I found a pencil! Which table is missing a lime green colored pencil?!"

In my classroom, I have six table groups with six kids at each table, and there is a limited amount of space with binders, reading books, etc. We keep our textbooks on the bookshelves and we don't use the "inside" of the desks (The tables are turned around so there is no access). I don't like the way things accumulate in desks and I can't keep up with the organization necessary to support kids in keeping their desks clean. Further, we change seats throughout the day, so I need all of the supplies to always be available--no matter where students are seated for an activity.

So, we use a community supply box for the whole table. I have shared about my "dotted supplies" before...

Each table has a color, and the markers and colored pencils have dots on them. The box is dotted too! It makes things so easy to organize! (I don't dot the crayons.) My favorite time to add the dots to markers and pencils is on a road trip during the summer. It's a good way to pass the time, and the task is accomplished quickly while enjoying the scenery (I guess I should specify that this only works when I am the passenger!)

But the system is actually bigger and better. It's no secret that I am a little over-the-top when it comes to organization. (That almost makes my obsession sound like a positive trait.) You have to have matching scissors to make a system like this work. I've used a loop of paper with the dot on it... and I have chosen not to dot scissors at all. This year, everything just fell into place.

Here's what it looks like from the bottom to the top...

I use Rubbermaid snap-cases because they stay closed and stack easily. There is plenty of both lined paper and unlined paper in the bottom of the box. Kids rarely have to get up to get supplies if everything is right there within reach. (YAY! Happy teacher!)

There are six rulers. Some years I go with multiple colors... This year, I went with a one-color-per-box design. Obviously, I am going to be showing you the purple table box... Did you guess it is my favorite?

They have markers and crayons...

There are three glue sticks (partners share) a stapler and a tape dispenser. That "old fashioned film canister" (Am I THAT old?!) is filled with paper clips.

Finally, there are colored pencils and scissors. This is what the supply box looks like when you open it...

And here is what it looks like when it's closed.

Here is the "purple box." This sits in the middle of Table 4.

And here's why I love this system...
1. Everything is RIGHT THERE. We don't lose any time trying to find things. (No wandering necessary!)
2. It is SO easy to maintain. We have table captains that change each week. When it is your week, the last thing you do at the end of the day is check to make sure that your table box is organized. This is the time to refill the paper supply, or to ask for more staples.
4. Everything fits. One of our first "management lessons" during the first week of school is practicing the placement of items in the table box. We empty the box and work together to fill it correctly. Students now put things away without having to think about where each item goes.
5.  "Lost" items are reunited with their homes quickly. Kids know the box color for their table. I always chuckle (quietly, of course), when I hear a student say something like, "The green table is missing a ruler..."
6. It's pretty! I know that's not a very educationally sound reason for choosing an organizational system, but it does make my heart happy!
7. It has taught my kids self-management and cooperation. They know how to keep the supplies organized... and the communal nature of the supplies necessitates sharing. Table captains are responsible for passing out supplies for a lesson and keeping the box organized. And everyone gets a turn being responsible for the upkeep.
8. It works for us. I've used the same system for over ten years with very few adjustments!

Okay, that's probably more than enough gushing over matching scissors.

There are SO many Bright Ideas in this Link Up, you are going to need a second cup of coffee! Look at the little pictures below and choose by grade level or blogger or Bright Idea. I'll probably pass by you along the way.

Have fun! Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland in So Cal... A Blog Hop, a Giveaway and Freebies!

Hello from Southern California! I am lucky to hang out with a great group of BlogFriends--all from Southern California! In the summer, we joined together for a Blog Hop. And we had so much fun, we are back for the Winter Edition!

Shall we talk about the weather? The weather doesn't vary much where I live. In fact, Christmas morning looked like this! Eighty degrees!

Which is why I was so surprised when a few days later, we took a forty-five minute drive and saw this...

A surprise snowfall! I guess that's one of the benefits of Southern California: Just a little drive can offer a big change of scenery!

Of course, it's sunny again this morning, and I am enjoying my coffee and planning out the last few days of break before it's time to go back to work!

Even though I teach sixth grade, I've been helping my friend who has a kindergarten class. I've always believed this to be true: Teaching little kids is DIFFICULT work. You spend hours making stuff... and the activity lasts about three minutes!

To support my pal, I've been learning about ten frames... and I'm sharing one with you as part of our Blog Hop freebie!

I've had some technical difficulties with my TpT downlaod... so if that won't work, I hope you'll try the Google option!

In "real life," it looks like this...

And for those kiddos who need a little more support, I color-coded the first number red to match the red cups. I love the graphics from Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs!

But I am, after all, an upper grade teacher! (Thankfully!) So I made a freebie for my upper grade pals too! Click on the picture below to get a copy.

Two options for downloading this one too. Just click below!


We played Go Fish and Concentration at my house... but I am putting them in a center in my classroom on Monday for some of my kids who still need some extra practice.

And here's MORE great news! There is a giveaway in this Blog Hop too! TOO! Just follow the Rafflecopter directions at the bottom of the post for a chance to WIN! There are TWO gift cards up for grabs... One for Target and one for TpT! WooHoo!

Last--but definitely not least... My favorite part! Over twenty bloggers are participating in this Hop with a freebie on every blog! WooHoo! I'm ready to swap my Easter basket for a winter basket and fill it up with freebies! I guess I'm just a hopper at heart!

I'm a little star-struck because I get to send you off to Katie Knight at Teacher to the Core. She's one of my blogging heroes! If you don't know her, you will love her in two seconds. She's all sorts of goodness all squished into one person. Kind, funny, sweet, creative... Wonderful! And if you do know Katie, you are currently nodding your head in agreement (I just know you are!) Sooo... off to Katie Knight you go. Just click on her blog button...


And don't forget about the Rafflecopter... I really hope you win!

Happy Hopping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway