It's almost July, woot woot!  Summer is in full swing and I'm linking up (a lil' early) for Farley's Currently.



Listening - I love House Hunters.  I'm not a home owner.  I'm not in the process of becoming a home owner.  In fact, I don't plan to own a home for a VERY long time!  But I LOVE House Hunters... and basically all the shows on HGTV.  I can't get enough.

Loving - I was just in Chicago with my sweet, sweet nieces, sister, and brother-in-law for the past week.  Today my sister, the girls, and I flew to my hometown (Rochester, NY) and we are all staying with my parents for TWO WEEKS!  Here are some pics of my beauties.
Fun with the iPad

"Let's get moving Aunt Colleen!"

Already 3 months old!

Hard to get a pic with this one... she's always on the GO!

Thinking - I should get to bed ASAP.  My niece Taylor, like all 2-year-olds, is an early riser.  Aunt Colleen needs to be rested!

Wanting - I really want a fancy digital camera.  I've wanted one for a while.  I've been taking more and more pics with my iPhone 5 because that has GREAT picture quality, but I want to take the next step in photography.  I've found myself taking more and more pictures, especially in the last year.  Between all the school pics I take and all the shots of my nieces, I need a good camera.  But they are EXPENSIVE!  I'm looking at a Canon and a Nikon.  Anyone have any good recommendations that won't totally break the bank?
  

Needing - Before leaving my classroom for the summer, I took a slew of pictures of how I organize in my classroom.  I am pretty OCD compulsive particular about my organization.  I LOVE to organize... and re-organize... and re-organize again.  I want to do a series of posts in July about my tips for organization.  So, now I need to get organized (haha) and get these posts ready!

Tips, Tricks, or Hints - Start your blog slowly!  You don't need to do it all at once.  I started last summer.  It was the perfect time to start my blog because I had extra time on my hands.  I planned to try and post every other week once the school year started.  I found that I was able to blog much more than that (especially after I figured out how to schedule a blog post... then I could write multiple posts in one sitting when I had the time!).  Also, get to know other bloggers.  Comment (meaningful comments!) on their blogs.  Email them with questions.  Everyone has been SO NICE every single time I've contacted a fellow blogger.  I heart blogging!!!

What are you Currently up to?
Have you checked out Bloglovin' yet?  Of course you have!

Bloglovin' is an alternative to Google Reader (which will be closing very soon!).  It's a great way to house all of your favorite blogs in one place.  Easy to read, easy to follow!  If you would like to follow me on Bloglovin, just click on the button to the right!

Want to check out some other bloggers on Bloglovin'?  I'm linking up with Tori's Teacher Tips for the Bloglovin' Blog Hop!


Are you lovin' it?!
This week another school year came to a close.  It was bittersweet for me this year.  I really had a particularly hard time saying goodbye to this year's class.  I just wasn't quite ready.  They were such a smart, sweet, wonderful group!

But said goodbye I did.  We laughed (and cried) on the last day as we watched our video yearbook.  I made it in iMovie and this year it was a whopping 25 minutes long.  EEK!  I just couldn't cut anything out.  The kids loved it!

After the kids left I started the loooong task of taking apart the room.  This year my classroom will be used for summer school, so I really had to tuck everything away and cover it up.  Luckily, our district gives us two and a half days to wrap up our classrooms.

I took these last few days to really look at my closets and classroom organization.  I was able to purge items I no longer use (ahh, breathe a sigh of relief) and rearrange my (large!) closets.  I also took some time to rearrange the furniture in my classroom.  In the fall, I will no longer have student computers.  Instead, I will have 10 iPads, woohoo!!!  There are several classrooms in my building piloting this new approach.  I'm so excited!  Stay tuned for blog posts about my iPads in the fall.

Getting rid of four of my six desktop computers, along with the bulky computer table they came on, has freed up A LOT of space in my classroom.  I was able to leave my classroom with a fantastically organized start to next year.  I took LOTS of pics and plan to share my organization strategies in a series of posts in July.

And, of course, I'm already thinking ahead to my new class!  In August letters are sent to our students letting them know who their teacher is.  Teachers can include a welcome letter and anything else they'd like.  I always send my opening newsletter, our supply list, and my "Tell Me About Your Child" parent questionnaire.

This year I'm going for a Rock Star theme in my classroom.  I bought a bunch of fabulous rockin' clipart.  I can't WAIT to start creating more materials like my newsletter below!

We try to keep our supply list fairly short.  This year we are trying something a little different.  We asked for two boxes of crayons and two of each kind of folder.  We plan to label the second set of these items and set them aside for later in the year to use as replacements.  I can't tell you how many times I tell students to ask their parents for a new folder in February as their folder is barely held together and a complete mess!  Usually it is WEEKS before the item is replaced.  By asking for two upfront, it will be easy to replace, and we don't even have to bother parents to make a special trip to the store!  


Lastly, I like to get some information directly from parents about their child.  I ask for this to be handed in during the first week of school.  I find it to be very helpful and informative.  It really highlights areas that I should look out for with my students.

If this is something you'd like to send to your parents, just hop on over to my TPT Store to download my FREE Parent Questionnaire.


{Click HERE to Download}


Even though many of you have been out of school for weeks, I can now OFFICIALLY post:

HAPPY SUMMER!!!

Happy Friday!  Today was our last Friday of the year with the kiddos... and it was a FABULOUS one!  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share my Five for Friday.  All my five events came from today!


Today we held our annual first grade "Camp Skeeter."  (Skeeter - as in, short for mosquito!)

Camp Skeeter is a day filled with camp-themed activities.  We spend all morning going from station to station as a class.  We have MANY generous parent volunteers at each station to help us out.  I am so grateful to work at a school with excellent parent involvement.  We couldn't do it without them!

Check out how much fun we had at Camp Skeeter!

1.  Crafts
We found these hats on (where else?) Pinterest!  (Click on the Education.com link to the activity.)  They were ADORABLE!  By far my favorite craft we've ever done.  I mean, who doesn't love a hat?  The craft was also very easy and allowed us to finish in the time allotted for our station (30 minutes).

2.  Nature
We have a wonderful grandparent who comes every single year to Camp Skeeter to teach us a little bit about pond life.  He even brings some of his pond friends with him!  Here is one of my sweeties about to touch a toad.  Yikes!

3.  Snack
After our first two stations we were certainly ready for a snack!  We made S'mores on a Stick.  Delicious!
Crushin' our graham crackers!


4.  Sing Along / Face Painting
Due to the rainy weather (shocker!) we needed to combine these two stations into one.  Usually we do both outside, but there were no complaints from my kiddos today.  We were having way too much fun to notice the rotten weather!

For the first time this year we had an old-fashioned sing along!  One of our second grade teacher's volunteered her talented son.  He was AH-MAZING!!!  Truly outstanding.  The kids went NUTS for him and he was so engaging.  We really jammed out!

In between songs we got our faces painted.  I went with the classic butterfly.

After our stations, we had lunch in the classroom.  What a treat!

Then, it was time for our "Mail Call."  Each parent had written a letter to their child as though they were away at summer camp.  We turned off all the lights and read our letters by flashlight.  Ooh la la!

5.  Movie Time!
By the end of the day we were wiped out!  We "camped out" and watched The Parent Trap (the Lindsay Lohan version... ahh, remember when she was a sweet little actress?!)  We enjoyed popcorn and water bottles sent in by a parent volunteer.  And this tired-out teacher finalized and stuffed report cards.  Phew.  Check it off the list!

What a fantastic Friday!  
Today was our first annual "Wet N Wild" day for our June Fun Calendar.

It.  Was.  Awesome!!!

Our team gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up.  Fine holiday fun.

We kept it simple this year with three stations that our first grade classes rotated through.  Students were asked to bring a change of clothes... and they needed it!


Drip Drip Drop
Based on the ever-popular Duck Duck Goose, this game is so simple.  All you need is a sponge and a bucket of water.



Water Relay
The goal of this relay is to transfer the most water from your full bucket to your empty bucket.  The catch?  The cup must stay on your head the whole time!  All you need for this station is four buckets and two cups.





Splash 7
A great small-group game!  All you need is a shallow bucket and a pair of dice per group.  Students take turns rolling the dice.  When the dice add up to 7, be the first to splash the water!





Set-up and clean up for these activities was minimal.  The first graders had so much FUN!  Definitely one of our new favorite end-of-year activities.  Four and a half more days, woot woot!
We finally finished our "All About" animal information books.  These babies are AH-MAZING!  I have blogged before about my very mixed feelings about Writing Workshop since we use the Lucy Calkins Units of Study.  I think there are many useful structures and ideas, but many of the Lucy lessons are completely over the kids heads.  Plus I don't think there is enough modeling or shared writing involved.

Then I found my personal writing guru... Susan Moran at T.G.I.F.  I have purchased many of her writing units, and this unit is BY FAR my absolute new favorite!!!  She has a fantastic way of guiding students through the process step-by-step.  The results are confident, engaged, and motivated writers in my classroom.  WIN!

Find it {HERE}


WARNING:  Photo bomb blog post ahead...


Our first day on the job... researching many different kinds of animals.  From there, we narrowed it down to three choices of animals we would like to write about.  I put the students in groups based on their interest.



Here we are writing down our Fascinating Facts.  They were so engaged in the research we ended up doing this for three straight days!




Our coveted Cover Page.  These look AWESOME!



Here are our Diagrams.  I was impressed with what body parts the kids chose to label.  There were some GREAT vocabulary words in there!



Here we are working on our Different Kinds page.  Our Library Media Specialist helped the students to find pictures of different kinds of our animals.



Here we are working on our Introduction page.  Our goal was to tell what kind of animal we were writing about (i.e. mammal, reptile, insect, etc.) and give a physical description of our animals.




Here are some of our GORGEOUS covers!  I don't think my class has worked this hard to make something look this pretty all year!








Here we are sharing our success with our third grade buddies.  We are SO PROUD!!!



Here is an example of a final product in its entirety.












This was such a wonderful writing piece to end our year with.  I can't wait for this unit again next year!
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