Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Classroom it or hate it?


So last night I had a dream that it was the first day of school, and I forgot my classroom keys at home. I couldn't get into my room, and all my students were waiting by the door. 

Does anyone else have these kinds of dreams right before the new school year? This happens to me every year, and I'm sure to have more before the first day of school, which is WEDNESDAY! 

Although the beginning of the year is stressful, I must admit that I LOVE setting up my classroom. I love organizing all my books and supplies. It's so fun for me to think of a new set up and a new theme.

And now I must stop and take a minute to thank my mom, my mother-in-law, and my husband who helped me tremendously and put up with all my control-freak tendencies! 

This year my theme is "Reading Around the World." I included lots of maps and postcards to decorate. And I have some awesome airplane material that I'm going to add up around the windows. 

It's not finished...but here's what I have so far. 

On my door are my students' names on tickets and the Earth. I added postcards from around the world.

My front bulletin board has a map of the U.S. and of the world. As we read, I want to put in pins to mark the settings of each book. My goal is to share read alouds from around the world.

My classroom rug just happens to fit the theme perfectly. That was a convenient accident! 

Part of my classroom library. I love organization and labels. It really is a fool proof system, I want to really train my kids this year to put the books back in the right places! A realistic goal??

This year I tried putting my computers in a quad instead of lined up against the back wall. I like the change, but we'll see how it works. And the bulletin boarder is just a big map that we cut into strips.  

Classroom mailboxes and clipboard holders. I scored on these mailboxes. Our old church was getting rid of them, so I snached them up for free! I put my genre posters on the heater.

I saw another teacher do this and I love the idea. The word wall is on the front white board. Since we use the smart board for everything, the white board usually just becomes a place to hang stuff. So using it for the word wall frees up a whole back bulletin board. Also I can just write the words on. I have these sticky words to start the year, but later on I can easily add new words. 

Here are my name tags. This is new for me too. I found the idea on pintrest. I HATE that the kids pick at all the clear tape that I usually put over name tags. About two months into the year they are destroyed. So I went searching for an idea and found this. It's a name badge that usually hangs from a lanyard. I just cut off the top, put in the name tag, and then stuck velcro on the back. 

I haven't stuck them to the desks yet, but the velcro we got was heavy duty, so hopefully they will stay put. But, if I do need to switch them, the velcro will easily pull off. Also (HOPEFULLY) the kids won't be able to mess with them as much.  

I found this idea via Pintrest, you can view it here. "New Student" bags. This is helpful for those times when a new student shows up at your door and you only had about a five minute heads up! (This seems to happen a lot at my school.) But it's also helpful for new students in general. Instead of running around tons of places to find what you need, just pre-stock this at the beginning of the year, then it's ready to go! I created five extra of everything to put in these bags and I KNOW they will come in handy! 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Thoughts on staying home with the kids

You might be a stay at home mom/dad if.....

You receive high fives and hoorays for going to the bathroom...yes our two-year-old watches us's good modeling! 

You are ridiculously good at building legos, train tracks, and towers

You know the names of all the characters from Cars and Cars 2 and can recite lines from the movies using the characters' voices. I do a pretty good Mater, not gonna lie

Your bed is unmade, the dishes are not done, there are crumbs on every floor in your house, toys litter said floors, and you step on said toys multiple times a day

There are half empty bottles and juice cups strewn all about the house...and sometimes you even find one about two weeks later...don't "ewww" me, I didn't leave it there...

Your legs, arms, and head double as roads for toy cars

You have not showered in two days

Your hair is crazy wild because of the whole showering issue

You get frustrated when you are trying to color and your kid keeps scribbling over your artwork

You sing the Barney song...enough said

You dance around in your living room and jump up and down on the couch

Your meals consist of pretzels, cheerios, apples, bananas, grapes, pb&j, chicken nuggets, corn and leftover scraps from the kids' plates

I could go on and on, but really, what I want to say is that being a stay at home mom is HARD WORK!

I love my kids and being home with them during the summers is one of the perks of being a teacher! However, my hat goes off to moms and dads who do this full time. They are incredible people and should be acknowledged much more than they are. 

My average work day is me in a classroom with 28 kids. Who would have ever thought that 28 kids would be easier than 2!?!?

As a stay at home mom, your ENTIRE DAY is devoted to the kids. Depending on their ages, you can't leave them alone for one second. My daughter is a human vacuum cleaner. That girl will put every stinking little crumb in her mouth. Leaving her unattended on the floor is not an option. I'm constantly digging in her mouth, trying to fetch out foreign objects. You are truly tied down every second that the kids are awake.

If you are lucky enough to get them to nap at the same time......YES!! CELEBRATE! But then snap back into reality, because this is the ONLY TIME YOU HAVE to get anything done. This time for me usually consists of showering (which is a luxury and sometimes I skip in order to get other stuff done), making the bed, doing the dishes (BY HAND, no dishwasher = sadness & torture), catching up on emails, homework, laundry, and cleaning up in general.

Stay at home moms & dads have to be the most SELFLESS people alive. While I'm glad to have this title for just a season, I honestly don't know if I could do it full time. Like I said, my hats are off to you!! You guys have one of the most important jobs out there!!

Now because I'm still finding out about the joys and frustrations of this all important job, here are a few suggestions that have helped me while being at home with my little guys.....

1. Say yes. I recently read this post by one of my favorite bloggers Casey Weigand. It is SO WORTH READING. It has really encouraged me to slow down and not worry about having an agenda.

2. Change up the scenery. Get out of the house! While it can be super challenging to pack up and travel with two little ones, I find it is always worth it! We love to go the the park and the library. If it's too hot out, we'll head to Springhill Mall where there is a great indoor play place. Getting out of the house gives all of us a good break. Side note: if you do go the the park, plastic slides produce awesome static electricity!!

3. Get together with other moms who have kids. It's so fun to watch your little guys play with others, and it helps them learn how to play.

4. Go get ice cream! I already mentioned Van's in a previous post, but seriously we love that place. Now we don't go there every day, but I would recommend once or twice a week.

5. Listen to podcasts, sermons, or audio books while you work. I am pretty fortunate that my kids usually do nap at the same time. When I'm working I love to put in my headphones and listen to a sermon. Also reading is something I love to do and wish I had more time for. AUDIO BOOKS are the answer. I also feel double the success when I'm working and listening.

So moms and dads, nannies, and other care givers....what do you do to make staying at home with the kids the BEST it can be? I'd love to hear your ideas!!