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Monday 26 January 2015

First Days

Happy Australia Day to all my Aussie friends!  I hope you are celebrating with family and friends. We will be having a family lunch and a relax.  Down here we still have another week of holidays before we head back to the classroom but I know there are many teachers who will be going back to school tomorrow.
As we think about all those kiddos feeling nervous about their first day of school, I like to keep in my mind all of those teachers who also feel equally anxious and butterflies in their tummy.  I am one of those who always thinks their first day is going to be a disaster, even though I have been doing this for 16 years now.

So I thought I would put together my top 5 ways to make sure your morning runs smoothly.

1.  Class lists

Make several class lists with the ability to check off.  These can be used for a number of reasons, to check off items students have brought in, check off notes that needed to be returned on the first day, and to make notes that you need to remember.  I often have parents tell my little tidbits about their child that they didn't put on enrollment forms and I know if I don't write it down it will go out the window.  I also make a note of parents names as I meet them for future reference ( I know I can look it up on the school files) I like to have it close by for those times when you need to make a quick call or they pop in and you have forgotten their name.

2. Name tags

I like to have 2 large copies of names (for lockers, tubs etc) and 3 small copies of names on card and laminated.  We use these when we are making graphs or when answering questions among other things.  I also have blank templates for those surprise new enrollments that show up on the first day, these can be written on with a marker and then transferred to a digital copy later on when you have time to breathe.  Don't forget to make a name tag for yourself as well :)

3. Take pictures!

This is something I nearly always forget to do!  I like to take photos of my kiddos on the first day to use throughout the year on things like, roll call on the IWB, data and graphing, gift making, art and craft.  Some teachers like to make special photos with frames and props for the first day as part of a memory book or gift.  If you do not have help in your classroom and you would like to be able to take photos on the first day make sure you have planned an activity that will keep the kiddos engaged while you pull students to take the photos. Think about the backdrop and the lighting prior to the first day (speaking from experience).  I once had a classroom that had lots of windows and was lovely and bright but very few places for a decent photo to be taken without the backlight, subsequently all my photos came out looking dark.

4.  Busy work

Have some activities out on tables and the carpet.  I usually put out puzzles, drawing, a construction/building (lego), books and playdough. Of course these activities need to be altered to suit your grade level, the important thing is to always make sure these activities are not messy and can be quickly packed up.   Having something for the students to come in and immediately engage with means you are free to talk to parents and or kids as they turn up and it gives parents an opportunity to engage with their children in their new classroom in a positive way.

5. Bulletin Boards

Some people like to have their bulletin boards empty waiting for their new class to fill it with their amazing learning.  Personally I like to have some encouraging messages put on some boards as well as posters with classroom routines and rules.  One special thing I have started to do is to get my students from the previous year to write a letter to the incoming students letting them know what they can expect for the coming year.  This is also a great end of year activity for your students to reflect on their learning.  If you have a very young class you could get them to draw what their favorite subject, memory, activity for that year was.  If you would like a copy just click on the pic below or right click save as image.

This last one is not in my list but just a little reminder.  Remember to smile and breathe :)

I hope for all my friends heading back to the classroom in the next couple of weeks you are feeling excited and happy to be going back....and if you are just a little bit nervous, (or a lot nervous)

PS Don't forget you still have a chance to win a $10 TpT voucher by entering the Rafflecopter in out Back To School Bounty Giveaway. Just click on the pic below :)

Saturday 24 January 2015

First Five for Friday

I made it to my first five for Friday for this year!  Woo hoo!  Here they are :)

We arrived back from our holidays last weekend so I had a bit of a holiday hangover for a few days.  We spent 3 weeks in Townsville with my family which included my niece getting married, it was a very special day and I was so happy to be able to be there.
However arriving back from holidays means unpacking, washing and the letdown that there is no pool in my backyard.

We have had some very up and down weather here (which I hate!) sunny, gorgeous days and then windy, rainy days.  This beautiful double rainbow came out at the end of a rain filled day and just made me smile!

I put this helpful little freebie in my store this week.  Head over and download your copy by clicking on the pic below

Ice Creams by the seashore, a great way to spend an afternoon

My friends and I have gotten together to throw a little Back To School giveaway for all of the teachers heading back in to the classroom.  Make sure you pop in and enter the Rafflecopters to win either a Literacy Bundle, Maths Bundle or a $10 TpT voucher.

Thursday 22 January 2015

BTS Bounty Giveaway!

My friends and I have gotten together to commiserate celebrate heading Back to School! Even though the end of the holidays is met with sighs and "why didn't I do ..... on the holidays?" We have decided to cheer you all up with a giveaway!

My friends and I have teamed up to give you a chance to win 2 fabulous prizes!

All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Not only can you win these fabulous prizes above but you also have the chance to win a $10 TpT voucher by entering the Rafflecopter below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

But wait there's it is not a set of steak knives :) you also get a FREEBIEEEE!!  Just click on the pic below to get a copy of my Reminder Bracelets, an easy way to send quick reminder notes home.

If you are heading back to the classroom best of luck and look for my upcoming post on my 5 Top Tips for your first day in the classroom.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Back to work!

I have been MIA for a few weeks now as I have been on a family vacation up North in Queensland visiting my sister, her family and my Mum and Dad.   It was hot and humid and we spent many hours swimming in the pool which was a lovely change from the cold weather we have been having in Tasmania.

I managed to catch up with some teaching buddies while I was 'back home' which included 2 teachers who taught my kids when we lived there, it was so sweet seeing their faces when they saw how much my kids had grown!

While I was away I managed to unplug from the internet and the computer for most of the time so I am ready to start creating again and hope to have some items ready for uploading soon so watch this space.

I have been home for a couple of days now and am still unpacking and washing (do you think your clothes breed in your suitcase?) I'm still torn on which I dislike more...packing or unpacking?

I'll leave you with some photos of my holiday which also included my niece getting married!  I cannot believe I am old enough to have a married niece.  My son was one of the groomsmen in the wedding party with his cousin as his partner, lordy they were so cute together!  My daughter played the keyboard with a trio as the wedding party walked down the "aisle", she was amazing as usual!  My role included doing hair for the bridesmaids and the bride....I will point out here that I am not aiming for a second career in hairdressing in the near future.  I was the emergency replacement for the original hairdresser that had to pull out of the job at the last minute, no wedding is a wedding without some small dramas!

Soooo cute! These two are mischief together, a rare moment when they look well behaved, heehee

The happy couple

The musician
Hanging out in the pool, this was my second home while I was vacaying (yes I think that should be a word!)

Well I am back home now and it is time to get back to work before I head back to school.  Our state starts back to school quite late (as in Feb) so I still have a couple of weeks before I have to start thinking about what I need to do for the classroom.  For all of those still on hols, enjoy!  For those who have headed back into the fray....enjoy?