I am super excited to share my Rock Star Classroom Bundle with you!  This little beauty was quite the labor of love.  Changing classroom themes is EXHAUSTING!  But I know it will all be worth it when my new batch of firsties rocks into first grade!

Each of my Rock Star themed products can be purchased individually, or as a bundle to save money.  Because who doesn't like to save money?!

One item that I was not able to incorporate into the bundle was my Rock Star Newsletter.  This is a PowerPoint file that is editable!  

This week I scored BIG in the teacher department!  I got my learn on AND got some awesome deals on supplies!

This week I attended a workshop at the Apple store in my local mall.  Last year I bought my MacbookPro from Best Buy, and while I've definitely learned a lot as I've used it, there is still A LOT that I don't even know about!  So I got online and started researching how to get some training on my Apple products.  While I know that you can get One-to-One support if you buy your Mac at the Apple store, I NEVER knew that Apple has FREE workshops in-store!  Seriously awesome.  They have workshops on just about everything... Macs, iPads, iPhones, iPhoto, iMovie.  I attended the iPhoto workshop, since I haven't been using iPhoto the right way.  I couldn't ever seem to figure out how to organize my photos, but the workshop cleared up all my misconceptions and now I'm an iPhoto pro!  Next week I'm taking the iMovie workshop, which will be awesome in helping me spice up my end-of-year video yearbook.  The class sizes are very small (no more than 5-6 people).  Summer is the PERFECT time to learn, especially since the morning session is from 8:30-9:30am.  If you want to learn more about your Apple products, check it out!

Then my bestie informed me that Staples now offers a $2 instant rebate for every old binder that you return.


SUCH a great deal!  For every old binder you return, you get $2 instantly towards the purchase of a new binder.  This was so perfect for me, because one of the projects on my summer to-do list was to streamline my binders.  I want them all to have a cohesive look.

I returned 13 binders, so that gave me $26 towards my 13 new binders.  Then, with my Staples Reward check, I ended up spending $18 on my new binders.  Did you hear that?!!  $18.  AH-mazing.

You need to gather your old binders and run to Staples RIGHT NOW!

Out with the old...

in with the new!  (The pretty purple one is going to be for my teaching/planning binder!)

I can't wait to whip up some cute binder covers and organize these bad boys!!!
Though it's only three weeks into summer, I am already gearing up for next year!  In years past I have had a Team Theme in my classroom.  I liked the aspect of "teamwork," but I'm not really a sports fan, so the theme doesn't really work for me.

This year I'm going with a Rock Star Theme!  I love the combination of aqua and green together, so I'm trying to coordinate my Rock Star materials with my favorite colors.  I'm adding accents of gray as well.

I've slowly been putting things together, and have completed my Rock Star Word Wall {Dolch} and my Weekly Dolch Sight Words.  I can't WAIT to print and laminate this word wall!  I bought some adorable gray and white chevron ribbon to hang from the letters and add the words on top as I introduce them each week.  

I'm planning to create more Rock Star materials, but I wanted to share what I've already finished!  I'm thinking when I'm finished with everything I'll bundle it into one pack.  I need to finish the job chart, table signs, desk nameplates, and editable newsletter.  Any other items you'd like to see in this theme??

First Grade ROCKS!!!

Game time!  Okay, well not exactly game "time," rather how I ORGANIZE my games.  In my last post, I talked about how I like to keep my games/centers in my file cabinets.  This post will give you a little more info on what, exactly, is in those drawers!

In order to keep my games long-lasting, I like to start with a manila envelope for storage.  I put the cover page on the front, and the directions page on the back (if there is a separate directions page).  I put a small piece of double-stick tape on the pages to keep them steady, then I send it though the school's laminator!  I make sure the laminator is on a very slow speed and it is very hot.  I send the envelope through bottom-first.  This way any air in the envelope is pushed out during the laminating process.

Once the envelope is laminated and cut around the edges, I take my X-acto knife and re-slit the opening to the envelope.  Be careful not to cut too deep and go all the way through the envelope!  I add a Velcro dot for closure.  Voila!

Prior to laminating my game pieces, I make sure to label them with a set number.  That way, when a random card is found laying on the floor (as they usually do!) we can easily find the set it belongs to.  I just lightly write the set number in pencil.  So easy!

I bag up my sets, and pop them in my envelope.  There is usually space in the envelope for any copies of a recording sheet that might accompany the game/center.  Now I'm ready to go!
"What's in My Pocket" game from Money Mayhem

I usually make 5 sets of any math games that I make.  Since I pair my kids up within my group, and my group never has more than 10 kids in it, 5 sets is just enough!  For reading games, I make 3 sets of each game, since I never have more than 6 kids in a reading group.

Sometimes a manila envelope just doesn't cut it when it comes to preparing games, because the games have a large amount of cards or other materials that won't fit into an envelope.  When this happens, I use a clear poly-folder.  It is larger and has the ability to stretch width-wise. 

At times I have games that do not need to be printed in color.  When this happens, I use colored paper to differentiate my sets.  That gives the game a pop of color, and keeps all my sets separated for easy clean up!
Ten Frame Top-It (Everyday Math)

It can be difficult to keep track of all the math and ELA games I have, especially when I'm planning lessons at home.  Then I discovered the Book Crawler app!  I LOVE using BooksApp to categorize all my read aloud books, but I didn't want to add my games into that app because I wanted them to be completely separate.  So I researched other apps that were similar and came across Book Crawler.  There is a free version, but it will only allow you to add up to 25 books.
Of course, it is time consuming if you have a lot of games/centers (which I do!) but taking the time is SO worth it.  Nothing like having information at my fingertips to help me plan more efficiently.  

Where the book title would normally go in this app, I put the title of my game.  You can also snap a picture on your phone and add that image in.  LOVE me some good visuals!
There is also a "subtitle" area in the app.  This is where I put the creator of the game.  Many of these centers came from a larger bundle of centers and I wanted to be able to easily go back into my computer and find the file so I could print any recording worksheets I might need.  Also, if a friend ever asks where I got the game from, I can easily refer them to the blogger and/or TPT product.

You can search within this app for your book "collections."  In the collection field, I put the skill that the game applies to (i.e. contractions, r-controlled vowels, addition, time, etc.).  So when I'm planning my Math Workshop unit on place value, I can see what games/centers I already have prepared.

There is also a section in which you can put the book's genre.  In the "genre" section I put the holiday or specific time of year (fall, winter, etc.) that the game correlates with.  That way, when Valentines Day is coming up, I can easily find the games that are Valentines themed.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about some of my organizational ideas!

Happy Organizing!!

I have a slight obsession with file cabinets.  My custodians laugh when I ask for "just one more."  I currently have SIX in my classroom.  Yes, you read that right.  SIX.  It's getting a little out of control.

I just can't help it.  File cabinets hold SO MUCH STUFF!!!  And, of course, nothing gets dusty.  Bonus!

I like the two-drawer filing cabinets best.  The tall four-drawer ones block my sight-lines.  And every teacher knows that if a student can't be seen, they will probably be up to no good!!!

I love having the books I read aloud in my file cabinet.  They stay so nice and new, and I can find any book whenever I need it!  (The only caveat is that I have found a small number of hardcovers that are just plain too big to fit in the cabinet.)  This year I began using the AH-mazing BooksApp.  You can read more about how I organize my read alouds in my BooksApp Blog Post.

Since I began Math Workshop this year I found myself preparing SO many more materials for math.  I need a place to store them that was convenient.  Both my Teacher Read Aloud file cabinet and Math file cabinets are right next to my desk.  (Sorry, should have snapped a pic of that set-up!)  

I organize my math materials by skill (i.e. Addition, Compare Numbers, Graphing, Place Value, etc.).  

Within each green hanging folder I store my Focus Wall posters (if I have any), vocabulary cards, and folders with master copies of worksheets for Math by Myself.  It's hard to see in the picture, but the folders are labeled Coin Identification, Coin Value, and Coin Counting.  I have a TON of mixed practice books, and I was finding that without grouping my resources together by like-skill I was missing out on some fantastic independent practice.   

These "beauties" house my Reading A-Z info, Holidays, and ELA Games.  They are hideous looking, but very functional.  Someday I'll get crafty and cover them with pretty scrap paper and Mod Podge like I've seen all over Pinterest.  Someday, haha.  

After the kiddos left this year I started re-arranging furniture in my classroom.  I was able to get rid of a computer table because my student computers are being replaced with 10 iPads in the fall, WOOHOO! So now none of my students need to access my current computer table.  I have two computers, one that is hooked up to the Smart board and one that is for my use.  I had the custodians jack up my table so I could slide three file cabinets underneath.  What a space saver!  Sorry the pic is so awful... clearly you can tell I was in the midst of room cleaning/packing by that overflowing garbage can.  Yuck!
Please forgive this sloppy picture!

I LOVE using Reading A-Z during small-group reading time.  The books are high interest, and have great follow-up activities.  Plus the kids get to keep the books when we are done with them in reading group.  It's a great way for first graders to build a library at home for nightly reading practice, especially since it is so difficult to find low-level readers at bookstores!

I have a section for each DRA Level.  I created folders for each story that I like, printed a master copy of the book for easy photocopying, and printed the accompanying practice pages so I could easily choose what follow-up activity I'd like to use with each book.  SO easy to prep my reading groups, which is great because I have five reading groups each day.  I see every single student for small group reading each day.  I love that I get that small group time with them!  Planning for 25 reading group lessons each week can be challenging, but if you are organized it makes it so much easier!!! 

Of course I have a drawer for Holidays!!!  It's getting full though... I may need another file cabinet soon, haha!

I have a TON of ELA Games.  I don't do Centers in my classroom since I follow the Daily 5 (Read to Self, Read to Someone, Listen to Reading, Work on Writing, Word Work) while I teach small group reading.  On Fridays in reading group though I almost always have "game day."  This is where I use my ELA Games/Centers to reinforce phonics and vocabulary skills.

I have one more organizational post for you this week.  I'll be delving deeper into these ELA Games cabinets to show you how I make/organize/store all my games and centers.  Of course I found an amazing app to help me!  Until next time...

Happy Organizing!!

I am so fortunate to have two VERY large closets in my classroom.

(I usually have curtains up, but the fire marshall has banned them from our school.  Apparently we need flame retardant ones... which I cannot find!  UGH.)

I have found that the best time to organize my closets is when I am done for the school year and I'm putting everything away.  That way every single item has a "home."  

My AMAZING custodians (seriously, we have the BEST ones, they will do anything to help us!) adjusted my shelves to fit the plastic drawers that I bought.  Plastic drawers are so helpful for organizing because they keep the dust out, and the materials are easy to access.   

In this closet I store most of my teaching supplies (clipboards, pencils, velcro, etc.). 

I also use this closet to store my reading/word work/Dolch materials.  This makes it easy to access my Word Work materials when I switch up my activities.

I got these plastic storage bins from Walmart and they were actually pretty affordable!

This closet is so deep, which is great, but the right-hand side is very difficult to access.  For this reason, I put smaller organizational bins there that I don't need to get to often.  I use these when I have extra materials for tables (i.e. special smelly markers, colored pencils) to share for a project.

This is my second amazing closet!  Again, I customized the shelf heights to match my storage materials.  This closet holds my construction paper, craft items, bulletin board items, and any other large items that can't be stored elsewhere.  Again, this closet used to have a pretty curtain.  Grr.  

This year I found that I needed more access to my construction paper.  This organizer is made from sturdy cardboard and held up very well!  I made sure to get the 12x18 sized one so I can store my large paper on the bottom and my smaller paper on top.  
The skinny shelf holds my posters and bulletin board supplies.  I bought several Deluxe Bulletin Board Storage Bags from Really Good Stuff.  So great for storing large, flat items!

Really Good Stuff - Deluxe Bulletin Board Storage Bag

Once again, every bin needs a label... preferably a matching one!  If you like my labels, check them out in my TPT Store.  
Click {HERE} to download

Happy Organizing!!
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