Classroom Planning A-Z ~ Helping teachers prepare for Back-to-School

Classroom Planning A-Z

It’s back-to-school season! There are SO many things for teachers to do during this time and SO much to remember. Last year, I made a Classroom Planning list with detailed notes about each item and links to some freebies and resources to help you accomplish the things on your to-do list. It’s a free resource on Teachers Pay Teachers. My listing there has it for new teachers, but I’ve heard from many veteran teachers who have found it helpful. I’m using it right now to make sure I don’t forget anything!

Birthday Bags for Students
One very easy tip is to prepare NOW for the birthdays that you will celebrate throughout the year. What will you do about summer birthdays? Are you giving each student a little gift? I’ve seen cute, simple ideas of just a giant pixie stick with a birthday note attached or a book (use Scholastic points!) is always a great idea. I put together little gift bags. I’ve made a video of what’s inside. Click here or on the picture above to watch the video on YouTube.

Click here to download the free A-Z Planning Guide for Teachers!

What do you do to prepare for back-to-school? What should I add to my checklist? Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

Birthday FREEBIE & Product Swap

I have to tell you that this has been a long, exhausting week – – and I still have Friday (the 100th day) to celebrate! There are some weeks that just have too many events! This week we had an Open House at school (showing off the student’s work), Groundhog Day (he saw his shadow! /floor ) and the 100th Day. Oh, and it’s my birthday today! I think I will spend the day sleeping once I finally get home. 🙂

I have a few freebies to share with you on my birthday. 🙂  The first 2 are birthday related items for your classroom. There are certificates (2 styles-2 files!) and a birthday bulletin board set where you can put the student’s birthday on the cupcake for that month. Click on the pictures above to download these freebies!

The next freebie is one that I put together for the Open House this week. The first graders had their Arctic reports on display. I used this About the Author page for the cover. I took a picture of each student holding a picture of the Arctic animal that they studied. I used the Arctic Animal Research Pages & pictures from my Arctic Animals unit on TPT. They turned out great and the kids really enjoyed working on this project. They get to become “experts” on the animal that they study!

I have also been participating in a product swap that was organized by Erin at Learning to Be Awesome.

Learning to be Awesome

I reviewed a product from Sharon who has the Teaching with Sight blog. She is a NBCT kindergarten teacher. I chose to review the Fantasy Guided Reading Unit. This product was designed for K-2nd grade students.
I used the story The Three Billy Goats Gruff for this review. I used it with my lower reading group. I was interested in this particular set of stories because it seemed like it would support my struggling readers and it had a writing component. Also, I have not used fantasy stories much so I figured we should experience more genres. It did work out well for my reading group. What I did not guess was my student’s reaction to the story. You’ll have to read to the end of the review to get the “student review”. 🙂
We started out by reviewing the vocabulary that would be used in the story. Sharon has provided the kids with words they need to know and a picture of the word. I had my students circle some of the sounds that we practice. These words also include their favorite sound – wa in water. I call it the baby sound and we make a crying baby saying wa-wa! 
We then read the story together. The picture clues were very helpful and it is written for beginning readers. It was so great for them to have a story they could easily read. We want to scaffold learning and keep the students going to the next level, but sometimes it is nice to just give them something they absolutely know and let them be super successful. It really helps to build their confidence.
Next, the students did a little re-write of the story. They wrote about what happened as each of the goats crossed the bridge. 

This story also has some comprehension questions (with a word bank), a place to write and draw about your favorite part and a place to write your own ending. Writing an alternate ending was definitely the favorite part for my students. It was interesting to hear their diverse reactions. Some said they would push the troll into the water. One said they would just swim across and avoid the troll on the bridge. And there was one who said he would be a friend to the troll. Maybe that is what that mean troll needs – friendship!

The best part of this whole experience was that when we finished the students asked if they could do more! They really liked this story. I was just going to use the one story in this pack because we have other materials for our reading group, but this was so appealing to them that I really need to use some more stories. This is a huge pack (over 100 pages!) and it has 12 stories in it. My first grader will be so excited to learn that we can do more stories like this.

Please visit Sharon’s blog, Teaching with Sight. I just found out as I was writing this blog post that she is not only a kindergarten teacher and ballroom dancer, but also that she is completely blind. There is a wonderful introduction video on her blog that shows her teaching. She is an inspiration.

Make sure that you visit the other bloggers participating in this product swap. Not only will you discover teaching materials for your classroom, there are many giveaways and special treats along the way.

Enjoy your weekend!


Happy Birthday to You – Classroom Freebie!

Kids love celebrating their birthdays in class!  Here are some of the things we do in my first grade class:

** 1/2 birthdays!  I know lots of teachers that celebrate summer birthdays at the end of the year with one big party.  I really like each student to have their own day.  Last year I had twins and I let them decide if they wanted to celebrate on the same day or different days and they actually chose different days!  It was fun!  One of them brought in cupcakes and the other brought in cookies.  As soon as I have birthdays, I google “find half birthday” and find a site that will let me enter a date and find the half birthday. is a good one.  I try to celebrate most birthdays on Friday.  Last year, I just assigned the students to a Friday and informed the parents of the date at Orientation.  I still had to remind most of them, but it worked out really well.  

I created these forms to track birthdays.  The first 2 forms are ones that I filled in and kept in my teacher binder for a quick reference.  The 3rd page is the one I included in the Orientation package for the parents.

Here’s the link for these forms: Birthday Organizer:

** I let the students decorate their desk for the day!  I have a birthday box with streamers and cut-outs.  I also have a birthday bear they keep on their desk.

** Of course, they get a sticker to wear so others know we’re celebrating their birthday!  

** They get to choose 4 items from the treasure box .  I put these in a bag along with a birthday certificate.

** A party isn’t complete without the food!   They bring in a treat (usually cupcakes) and we sing to them.  I put a candle in the cupcake.  So far, I’ve been able to get candles to stay in cookies or whatever treat they’ve brought.  Our room gets completely dark when the lights are out (no windows), so I always make sure I have a little lamp on.  Then we cut the lights and sing as only first graders can!  It’s a fun time!

******How do you celebrate in your classroom?******