Pros & Cons to Distance Learning

Hi all! It’s been a minute since I’ve been on here and wanted to give a quick update on how distance learning has been going! There are pros and cons to this whole thing which I have come to realize! Here are a lists of my pros AND cons to distance learning! (I have also included these gold memes that have been a ray of sunshine in these times)!

PROS

  • Wearing sweatpants or leggings EVERYDAY – am I wrong? I really do not like dress pants and love that I can be comfortable everyday!
  • Working from home – It has been nice to work from home and have that few extra minutes to get in a quick chore or go to the bathroom whenever I want!
  • Not packing my lunch!!

CONS

  • Planning – need I say more? It has been very challenging to make learning FUN for 1st and 2nd graders online.
  • Not getting to see the kiddos – Let’s be real, this is the BEST part of the job! I miss those interactions with the kids everyday and getting to know them so well!
  • Staring at the screen – again, need I say more.
  • Trying to get young kids to use the computer!

Things are going well considering. I do believe this whole thing is going to make us so grateful to be back in person eventually! ? Check out my Pandemic Teacher Tag Video on Youtube and comment and let me know how you have been doing with distance learning!

Back to School 2020

Happy back to school my friends! I hope you have had a great back to school season, whether you are in person, hybrid or fully online. My school is 100% online which I have to be honest has been HARD!!! We have been in session for about a month, although our first week was canceled due to forest fires. So it was a weird start to an already weird way!

Starting at a brand new school, adjusting to the new amount of work, getting to know new students and a new culture is HARD!! I’m sure you are facing some really hard things also!

In some weird way I find comfort that EVERYONE is going through this hard thing together! Everyone is! We need to give grace to everyone! I have found that this situation we are all in has really bonded me to my families, which was one of my biggest concerns because I was going to a new school and didn’t know anyone!

We can do it and we will get through this year. If you need help, prayers, encouragement, reach out to me! I want to be here to support you! You’ve got this! Best of luck!

Mountain Decor Pack

I am so unbelievably excited to share my newest TPT product with you all! This has been a vision of mine for some time and a labor of love! Last year I wanted to switch up my classroom decor to be a mountain theme. I was inspired from a drive back home from Bend, Oregon and seeing the mountain range as we were driving home. However, I could not find something that met my needs (I didn’t want woodland animals included).

Anyway, that got my wheels turning! I had this vision to create a watercolor mountain pack and I finally have finished it! Here is a preview of the product (there is also a FULL video preview on the TPT listing).

I have included a Welcome to our Classroom sign.
Lastly, I include materials needed to create a birthday wall. I have two letter options for you to create a header and then a page for each month of the year! Quick tip! I love to take photos of the kids on the first day and then print wallet size photos of them for the birthday board. You can also use a Polaroid camera!

I hope you love it!! I would love to see pictures of how you use these products in your classrooms! Please take pictures and send them to my email me or tag me on Instagram! I would love to feature you guys using this product in real life!

Regions of the United States

As you know, I am going through the process of updating my TPT store! It has been so much fun to go back and vamp up these products I love so much! This weekend I was working on my Regions of the United States product. This product was actually an assignment I did for my student teaching experience in 2015!

This was one of my favorite projects in my undergrad because I got to learn so much about the different parts of the country! I grew up in the midwest and we had traveled on the east coast, but the Western half of the country was so new to me! So as I worked on this project I felt like I was able to travel to the west coast! My students absolutely loved these activities and they are great for pulling in nonfiction texts and virtual field trips!

Let me break down what a lesson would look like:

I would introduce the region we were studying. There were 5 regions and we spent 2 days on each region, so this was roughly a 2 week unit! We would complete a KWL chart either as a whole class on anchor chart paper or the students would do it individually in their notebook. Then we would gather information – this looked different for each region, because let’s face it…it would get really boring if we looked in books each time.

  • For one region, my partner teacher and I made a newscast video to teach about the region! It was super fun!
  • We may watch Youtube videos about it to learn more.
  • You could read books!
  • We had a WebQuest for one region (I am working on updating that and creating WebQuests for the other regions!)

After we learned about the region we would complete this worksheet.

Now I realize as educators you may want your students to find different information or may just want something else. So I did create an alternative worksheet that is included for all regions! Here is the alternative worksheet that is avalible:

Again, this is avaliable for all five regions. I love the emptyness of this because it allows you to be creative with it! Some ideas I have off the top of my head are for:

  • Students to draw pictures that represent that region.
  • Find pictures online or in magazines and glue them onto the chart.
  • Write facts about the region in each box (you could even give them specific things to look for).

There are so many directions to go for this! One thing I really like about this project is that it allows students to get used to looking things up online and finding credible sources! I made sure to have a research unit in conjunction to this so the students could learn how to find credible sources and use them appropriately.

You can purchase these regions as individuals, but If you purchase the bundle you will receive this awesome bonus product!

In the bonus product you will have 2 cover options to make packets (I love having a complete unit in packets for students!) You will also have 4 vocabulary picture cards with the terms used in the first worksheets and simple definitions for the students to reference.

As always, if you have any suggestions or want to share how you are using this product in your classroom email me or DM me on Instagram!

Happy teaching!

Summer Sale!!

Hello! I hope you are all having a great start to summer! I have been on break for 2 weeks now and it has been so fun! I got to visit the Oregon Coast with some family! We were at a beach house in Yachats, Oregon and got to spend a few days exploring other sights along the coast! Here are some pictures:

It was gorgeous! As I am looking more towards summer and I am wanting to update some of my TPT products and revamp my store! I am enrolled in Kayse Morris‘ Make Your Mark Course and have been motivate to make sure I am offering you all the highest quality of product I am able to produce!

As I go through and update these products I would like to give back to all of you and offer those products at a discount for a couple of days!

As you can see in the image above I will be offering updated products for 10% off for two days! I hope you will be able to snag some great products for the new school year. The first two products I updated are my Black History Month Report and CVC Word Clip Center, which will be available for discounted prices!

Make sure that you are following me on TPT for updates along with Instagram where I will post about products I am updating throughout the summer! Don’t forget that you can review purchased products on TPT to earn credit to purchase products!!

I hope you are able to find some amazing products for next school year and save a few dollars!

-Stacey

CVC Clip Center

Here is one of my favorite activities to include in centers with primary students. As a first year kindergarten teacher this year one of the things I quickly noticed was how students could not tell me what the beginning, middle, or ending sound of a CVC word was. This may not seem like a big issue, but when we got to reading they had a challenging time sounding out words. We played this game and similar games a lot!! I really don’t thing it is something you can practice too much!

Use a clothespin to have students identify either the beginning, middle, or ending sound of a word.
You can take it a step further and have students identify the beginning, middle, and ending sound!
These are the perfect size to fit in photo storage keepers.

PRODUCT DETAILS:

I kept this product pretty simple in terms of the clip art used. Students should not have a problem determining what word may go with the picture. There is also a black and white version included in case you are wanting to save your colored ink!

I have also bundled this product with 2 other center games. Purchasing the bundle actually gives you this item for FREE!

Don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for updates! You will also get sent my best-selling

End of the Year (Distance Learning Style)

The end of the school year is always my favorite! I love how we have our routines down, we have learned a ton, and then we are able to celebrate! It is filled with fun projects and events that are so special! I like to make a big deal and host several games and have fun projects during the last week! Since we are doing school digitally I have had to adapt. I thought I would share some of my end of the year must haves for distance learning!

I am putting everything into one large Point to screen share on Zoom. My co-teacher will manage the questions and hands while I manage the PowerPoint. I used backgrounds I got from Callie Danielle’s Happy Pack and they make the whole presentation so cute! It is only $5 a month and is totally worth it (I AM OBSESSED!!).

This is the slide they will see as they log into Zoom.
Background from Callie Danielle

Digital Memory Book: I love having my students put together a memory book at the end of the year! It is a great keepsake for them. Typically I pair this with a portfolio but the bulk of our work is done the last quarter of school (current day quarantine). I created this memory book as a digital alternative. Simply upload to Google Classroom, or whatever platform you use, and share so your students can edit their own copies! They can type in their answers! They can also print it out if they prefer a paper copy!

Slideshow: Cue the waterworks. I love looking back at pictures from the year and seeing how my students were BABIES and then all of a sudden they have aged a ton (in a good way!!) I try my best to take pictures throughout the year, not a strength of mine, and put together a slideshow in iMovie. I pair it with a song or two that we loved that year!! This year’s song is “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.” My students are Disney/Pixar obsessed and I cannot wait to see their reactions, or should I say the parents reactions…. The parents always LOVE the slideshow! I will upload it to YouTube as an unlisted video so parents can share the link to loved ones, a parent who could come, or just keep it! I so wish I could share my slideshow with you all, but obviously I cant.

Awards: These are not your typical awards. I like to focus on character qualities and things that make the students them! Last year was my first year having the kids vote on which award their classmates received and it was a huge hit! To adapt it to present day I created a quick form and then the kids submitted their votes. I used this pack this year (it’s free on TPT!!) This is another great pack (also FREE)! This year I mailed the certificates with a little confetti (sorry parents) to the students and they will open it at our Zoom Awards!

Guess Who – Baby Edition: This is a new game for this year! I asked the parents to email me a photo of their child as a baby and put it together in a slideshow. I am going to have them guess who each baby is and have some fun with it! My co-teacher and I also contributed our baby pictures!! I think it will be a lot of fun!

Mrs. L as a baby!

I hope these ideas were helpful as you come up with some ideas for the end of the school year! I cant’ believe we have done a whole quarter online! It is bittersweet ending the year like this, but I am grateful for the technology we have to still do some of my favorite activities!

I end our presentation with this adorable slide!
Background from Callie Danielle

End of the Year MUST DOs!

The end of the year is quickly approaching! For me, our last day is Tuesday June 9th. There are a few things I like to do every year at the end of the year! They help me to go into the next school year not completely overwhelmed by what I didn’t do at the end of last year.

  • Have a box of supplies ready for the next school year. I got this idea from Samantha Henry on TPT. You can download here freebie here. I also like to throw masters of handouts I have found that like to use the next school year as well as those things that I can never seem to find at the beginning of the year.
  • Password list – I can’t tell you how many times I do not remember my passwords! Make sure you write them all down (don’t forget your school computer password – this was a mess for me last year). If you don’t do anything else do this! Download my FREEBIE on TPT here!
  • Send out thank you notes to your families. I think this is a nice gesture and it is good for families to know that we appreciate them and are grateful for everything they have done. With the craziness of this year I think this is even more important! I even like to give a little token to those parents who have volunteered during the year.
  • Put away your last week of school things and organize all loose materials! you will feel so much better when you walk into a clean classroom next school year! I know it is not fun, but put on some jamming music, a podcast, or show and get busy! It will be worth it!

Top 10 Amazon Teacher Purchases

  1. Laminator – a must have for any teacher! I know many schools provide large laminators, however I often find that it pulls apart. My personal laminator has been way more durable!
  2. Paper cutter – like a fool, I waited to purchase this going into my second year of teaching. If you are going to be a teacher and can only buy one thing pick this! We have so many things to cut (especially primary grades) and this saves your thumb from aching!
  3. Door bell – weird but super effective for getting student’s attention. This is my signal each morning for the kids to come to the carpet for morning meeting.
  4. Sticky clips – GAME CHANGER especially if you do not have much bulletin board space. These stick to cinderblock and are removable and re-stickable.
  5. Carpet markers – my kindergarteners starting ripping up my rug we sat on for whole group time. I transitioned to these and they are amazing. They stick firmly on the carpet in my classroom and the best part is that the kiddos cannot lift them up at all.
  6. Clear pockets with binder holes – Okay, so I keep all my third grade science and social studies units in their respective binders. I had had the problem with task cards and vocabulary cards falling out of the inside pocket until I found these. These are amazing! Just slip one in your binder rings and store all your vocabulary cards or task cards without them falling out!
  7. Heavy duty pencil sharpener – let’s be real, we sharpen 100s of pencils a week. You need a heavy duty sharper so you don’t have to walk to the office/resource room/where ever your school pencil sharper is. This one is great and has lasted me a few years!
  8. “Teacher Toolbox” – If you have ever searched for teacher organization on Pinterest you’ve seen this, it’s a classic for a reason! It’s a great way to store all those little office supplies! TPT has tons of great labels. No joke I have purchased 4 different versions of these! This year I switched it up with this FREE one on TPT!
  9. Dry erase pocket sheet protectors – These were a game changer when I first found them. I like whiteboards, but these are something else! You can print off any sheet and stick it in there for the kids to write on with dry erase marker. I would primarily use these for station work or game recording sheets. You also save paper 🙂
  10. Photo Case Storage Box – These are great for storing those amazing large station packs primary teachers will inevitably purchase on TPT! I like the clear sets over the colored sets but both are amazing! Look out at craft-stores for these too!

What are some of your teacher must haves?

Distance Learning Tips

I am a solid 8 weeks into distance teaching and we still have 3 and a half weeks left!!! It’s crazy to believe that our whole 4th quarter (and then some) has been remote. Despite this time being so unideal I am grateful for the way it has helped me to grow in how I use technology in the classroom. Today I thought I would share some technology related distance learning tips with you all!

Keep in mind that I do teach two grade levels: kindergarten (math) and third grade (social studies and science).

Educreations App for iPad – Okay, so Lauren introduced this app to me and I am forever grateful! I’ve been able to use this app when I teach math lessons to my kindergarteners. I am able to take a picture of our math worksheet and work through it with them. Best of all – it records anything I say! It has been so helpful! You can also use it as a typical whiteboard.

Brain Pop – Brain Pop videos have been LIFE! They also are offering FREE accounts during this time! My students are obsessed with Brain Pop videos and I basically have one for every single social studies or science lesson.

Google Forms!!! – Google Forms are just great in general. I would use them to poll parents for certain events or to get some feedback. During the pandemic I have been using them as my assignments for every single worksheet/quiz we would typically have. Not only does it provide them with instant feedback it is also way easier than having the parents take pictures and send it to you. I will do another blog post later about some Google Form tips and tricks.

Zoom/Google Meet for Morning Meetings – Let me be the first to say I am not a fan of video chatting and when we were discussing teaching live over Zoom I was not stoked. My third grade co-teachers and I have been hosting daily Zoom morning meetings and they have been amazing! We keep it simple and really try and use this time to continue to build connection and have fun (no academics…gasp!) Here’s what our schedule looks like:

  • Prayer (I teach at a Christian School)
  • Opening question – We try and keep it fun and silly 🙂
  • We quickly go over the assignments for the day
  • Game/Activity – This has been the best part! We’ve done scavenger hunts, would you rather, never have I ever, Trivia, GoNoodle, dance parties, show and tell, and so many other fun things!
  • Last little bit to chat (aka chaos).

On teacher appreciation day I got a sweet card from a student telling me how much she has loved seeing her classmates! It is so worth all the technology hiccups and love/hate relationship with Zoom. I would highly recommend! They miss their friends and I learned that most of them don’t even have each other’s numbers!

Comment with what technology you have loved using during this time!