Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Free Editable School Supply Lists!

Cross one more thing off your back to school to do list! I know that teachers everywhere are super busy this time of year. In order to make things a little bit easier for you, I've created these super cute editable school supply lists. There's one for every grade level, K-6!

Back to School Editable Supply Lists for K-6

Simply download the free file from my TpT store here.

Then open the file in PowerPoint, choose the list and grade level that meets your needs, click, type to revise the text, and print! Include the list in your back to school parent letter, or post on the front window of your school when class lists are posted there. Either way, make it easier for parents to know exactly what supplies their children will need to be successful in your classroom.

I hope you enjoy these! Have a wonderful school year!

See you next time. :)

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back to School Welcome Postcards

Welcome your new students before you ever meet them!

Back to School Welcome Postcards Western Theme

As an elementary school teacher, I found that new students (and their parents!) were often nervous about their (or their child’s) new teacher. I wanted to allay those fears as soon as possible, but how?

Class lists were a closely guarded secret until the Friday before the start of a new school year. At 5:00 p.m., the office staff would lock the doors, post the class lists, draw the shades, and escape out the back door. Anyone remaining inside the office could hear the angry buzz as parents realized that the ONE teacher (out of five or six at the grade level) whom they had carefully vetted and chosen as their child’s teacher, was not the one to whom their child had been assigned for the upcoming school year!

Class Lists Taped Inside the Windows at 5:00 Friday

The office phone began an incessant ringing, as a long series of furious parents demanded immediate meetings with the principal, in order to get their babies the “RIGHT” teacher. All the teachers knew from experience that our principal would make NO class changes for at least two weeks, in order to allow the dust to settle.

Parents Try to Move Their Children to the "RIGHT" teacher's Class

In the meantime, every teacher on campus knew that they would have at least a handful (often more) of parents who DID NOT want their children in that particular teacher’s classroom. Instead, they wanted their child moved IMMEDIATELY to the class of the teacher they had chosen. What were the teachers to do?

From experience, I knew I had to be proactive in order to improve the situation before these children (and their parents) entered my classroom on Monday! After much trial and error over the years, I came up with several things I could do to improve the situation, allay parents’ fears, and welcome my new students before the school year started.

Welcome Back to School Superhero Postcards

First, I sent postcards to my new students. As soon as class lists were released to teachers, I asked the school secretary to print out labels with the names and addresses of all my new students. I affixed these to welcome postcards, which I had already prepared with a message from me to each student. All I had to do was to write each child’s name in the greeting of their card, affix the address labels and stamps, and they would be ready to mail.

Welcome Back to School Postcards Terrific Kids Theme

On these postcards I invited students and parents to an informal “Meet and Greet” with me, in my classroom, over the weekend, as I prepared my classroom for the new school year.  I encouraged them to bring their school supplies, so they could drop them off in the classroom and have them ready for the first day. (This also allowed me to get a quick idea of which students could not afford supplies, so that I could arrange for school supplies to waiting for them at their desks the first day. J)

Welcome Back to School Postcards Detective Theme

I set specific hours on Saturday afternoon and Sunday when I would be available in my classroom, knowing that the school would be unlocked at this time, and the gates would be open. Many other teachers would be in their rooms, putting the final touches on their classroom environments and getting ready for the new school year. I put the completed postcards cards in the mail at the post office Friday morning, so that the cards would arrive to my new students’ homes by Saturday afternoon.

It's important to put the cards in the mail in time to reach your students before the "Meet and Greet."

Many parents and students stopped by my classroom during those hours. Many of the children held tightly to the postcard in their hands, a shy smile on their faces. I made sure to stop whatever I was doing and greet each child and their parents as they entered my room. I showed each child their new desk, with their nameplate and books. I encouraged them to take a look around, and ask any questions they might have.

Have student nameplates and books on their desks before the "Meet and Greet." Place a large Post-it note on the nameplate so that they can write any spelling changes they want for their nameplates. I gladly make these changes later, because I feel it is important to have preliminary nameplates ready for the "Meet and Greet." The few changes I have to make more than makes up for the positive feelings created in students when they see their names on their desks. The ones I have to change are even better, as the students come in the first day of school to the correct version of their names already on the desks. :) 

My new students often head straight to some interesting are of the classroom (such as the classroom library) and immediately begin to explore. Then parents are free to meet with me, ask questions, and begin to realize that I am an experienced teacher, and that I have the best interests of their child in mind. More than one worried parent has shared with me that the postcards I sent were the first piece of mail their child had ever received, and that they really appreciated the personal touch.

Students Curl Up with a Classroom Library Book

You can find welcome postcards at most school supply stores. I created my own, so that I only have to type the welcome message once. Then I handwrite each student’s name in the greeting to personalize his or her card.

If you are interested in any of my Back to School Welcome Postcards, you can find them in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Thanks for stopping by my blog! Next time I’ll write about the letter I send to parents at the beginning of each school year. J Until then!

Have a fabulous week!

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Saturday, July 5, 2014

Kitties! Kitties! Kitties!

I love kitties! Actually, I love all kinds of animals! So it is with great pleasure that I sometimes take care of my neighbor’s three kitties when she is out of town. J

Lucy from Here’s an Idea saw my July Currently post and asked to see these kitties. Once I received permission from their owner I started to create this post. This is Tukes. Isn’t he handsome? He’s a beautiful dark grey and black tabby.

When we first started occasionally caring for these three kitties (about a year ago), Tukes was kind of standoffish. He would eat the food, but didn’t seem to want any other attention. Now he “talks” to us, purrs, and loves to have his head and neck rubbed.

Here’s Ruby. She’s the beauty queen. 

Although she has been shaved for the summer, her gorgeous calico colors still come shining through. Ruby was the last cat adopted by her human, so she and Tukes sometimes have spats. Since Rachel installed a pheromone device called Comfort Zone, these two don’t fight so much.

Ruby Stalking "Mice"

Finally, here’s Mama. She's a lovely tortoiseshell color.

Mama is LOUD! She loves people, and FOOD! I have to be careful when I feed all three kitties, because Mama will gulp hers down, and then go after the food in the other kitties’ bowls. Mama would be one of those cats who weighs too much and waddles around on their bellies if you let her. She’s the reason that food can’t be left out for the kitties to eat as they get hungry. Mama is ALWAYS hungry! Instead, the kitties are fed at mealtimes only.

Mama is also the most affectionate of the three cats. Whenever my daughter and I come over to my friend’s home to receive a violin lesson, Mama is the one to jump into my lap and demand some love. There she stays until the end of the lesson, when she reluctantly vacates her impromptu nest.

Mama is always on my lap during my daughter's violin lessons. :)   

Of course, all three kitties get lonely without their human companion, so Rachel asked us to spend some time each day with her fur babies. Here they are on my lap as Tukes and Mama groom each other. Awww!

Mama Grooms Tukes

Tukes Grooms Mama

I hoped you enjoyed reading about these kitties. Please leave a comment below. I love feedback!

Have a wonderful week!

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Carol's Teaching Garden July Currently

Can you believe it’s already July? When I opened the front door this morning I was hit by a hot wave of sauna-humid air. The weatherman said that today would be a typical warm and humid July summer day. That means it’s time to join Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade for this month’s Currently.

Listening: “Rampart, this is Squad 51…” Do you know these words? During these dog days of summer we have started watching “MeTV” and the old-time shows on the channel. “Emergency” is a show from the 1970’s about paramedics. At some point during every episode the stars utter this famous phrase when they are talking to the doctors at the hospital about the patient in front of them on the street.

Loving: taking care of my neighbor’s three kitties while she’s playing violin for the symphony orchestra in AUSTRIA for two months this summer! I’ll be sending pictures of her babies to her, while she’ll be sending pictures of Europe to us!

Thinking: about the chocolately piece of gooey yumminess that is chocolate lava cake, which I ate AFTER two large pieces of pepperoni pizza. Oh, my stomach! Worth every bite, though. :D

Wanting: with all this hot, muggy weather, I daydream about being on an inner tube, floating slowly down a cool southern river.

Needing: with my children fighting over computer time on my laptop, I think I’ve been far too easygoing about letting them monopolize my machine. My son seemed to understand when I explained that TpT is part of our income, and I need to get back to work making products. My daughter on the other hand…

4th Plans: I don’t know. I would love to take the kids to one of the local fireworks displays on the 4th of July, but I’m not sure yet. Last year it poured rain from a summer thunderstorm, and we get a lot of those around here. Today is the first time in a week that we haven’t had a sudden downpour.

What about you? What are you doing on the 4th of July? I’d love to hear about it!

Have a wonderful week!
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