Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Well I did it! I posted my first product on Teachers Pay Teachers! I've been contemplating doing it for awhile now. What made it happen? Two extra vacation days from the extreme temperatures that have been hitting the country. I am pretty sure we will go back tomorrow and I'm ready. For one, my kids are driving me nuts. They are bored and so wreak havoc. They are all into wrestling so most of the break since Christmas has been wrestling with figures, playing wrestling video games, watching wrestling on TV and on YouTube, and finally, holding wrestling matches in my living room. Ugh.

I'm kind of bummed that I won't be able to have my whole week for my Goldilocks and the Three Bears unit. I will probably just extend it into next week as well which was for bears in general. In addition to the theme, I've been busy making games and activities to use during play time. Pinterest: I love you and I hate you. So many ideas, so little time. I also follow several blogs that have great ideas too.

So I'm sure you are dying to know what I posted to TPT? Well, my freebie is ocean cards and my first paid item is animal cards. I ended up buying a subscription to graphicsfactory.com. I posted on the TPT forum of where to get graphics but everyone said on the sight. If I just needed one here and there for decoration, that would be fine but I don't want to pay $2-5 for a set that I might only use a couple graphics from, kwim? You've got to spend money to make money so I got the yearly subscription. I hope it pays off. 17 people had downloaded my freebie out of 37 who looked at it. I thought that was pretty good. We'll see...

I wanted to see what interest was there before I got any further. I have everything I want to put up there made already but with google image graphics. I can't use those because I don't "own" those graphics. So I'm just making over things I already have. Other things I'm thinking of doing (opinions welcome):

  • Theme words (pocket chart size words for kids to use when journaling or at a writing center)
  • Parent notes (notes that I've sent home that many other teachers could use as well)
  • An alphabet pack with ideas I've come up with over the years.
  • Animal homes game
  • Center signs
  • a dental health game
  • Ideas and printables for take home bags
  • pictures and questions for Question of the Day
  • Comprehension questions for popular stories
  • Classbook covers
  • Calendar cards
What would you like to see on TPT?

Have a great January!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Time is ticking down. I start inservice in two days. Part of me is ready and part of me is never ready.

I was thinking about all the teachers that were probably at school this past weekend. I was really glad that I wasn't! I've done all I can do!

I'm waiting for my step-dad to finish a couple shelves that I've had him work on. One is a bookshelf that has a side that faces the books out and a regular bookshelf on the back. It also has bins on the top. It is too tall to see over. So I asked him to cut off the sides for the side that faces the books out, and I'm going to use it against a wall for a regular bookshelf.

The other shelf is one that is divided into cubby holes. I use it for my science center. The insides are in good shape, but the outside looks pretty shabby. Also the back is popping off. He is covering the sides, top, and back with thin sheets of oak.

I went over to my parents' house yesterday to pick up my kids and checked on the progress. He hasn't started the bookshelf yet, but it isn't going to take long. He's got the science shelf all built and stained and just has to varnish it. It looks really great!

Inservice starts at 7:45 am at the high school which is in a different town than my school. I'm going to have to take my pets (two geckos and five fish in two tanks), my plants and hopefully the shelves to school the day before. We have open house at 2 and at 5 that day so I want to make sure it's all ready. And I can't leave the lizards in the car that long. So that will be my final trip!!!!

I'll take some pictures of the final product so I can brag it up!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Broke Down

I broke down and went to school today. I had some errands to run in that direction so me and my youngest two sons went on to school. My youngest, 6, is still pretty engaged by the preschool toys. My middle son, 7, doesn't like to admit it, but usually finds something to keep his interest. My oldest, 11, is way too cool for preschool.

I had gotten started on putting the furniture back in order. For them to clean the carpet, I push all the furniture to one side of the room before I leave for the summer. Then they clean that half of the carpet, push the stuff to the other side, and clean that side. So it is a terrible mess. A positive though is that I really like the room arrangement I used last year so I pretty much put things back where they were. I did get a new bookshelf and flip flopped switched where my desk was and where the book corner was so that was a difference. And the bookshelf I got wasn't what I thought it was going to be. This is what it looks like and it is huge!

And this is what I thought it was going to be.

Oops! I'm not sure if they will take it back? Plus I'll have to have it shipped back so I'll probably just make do.

I bought it to replace an outward facing one with bins on the top that is just too tall to see over. I'm having my step-dad shave off the angled sides so I can still use the back as a regular bookshelf. Never get rid of a shelf unless you have to!

I also have him on a mission to fix my science shelf. I LOVE the cubby holesdf since we are supposed to have so many things out for science, but the outside of the shelf looks bad and the back is falling off. I want him to make a casing around it to make it look better and be safer. We'll see.....

While at school, I got all the furniture back into place and did a few other things. I had cleaned out my old file cabinet and put my files into a larger, nicer cabinet that LOCKS! So I had to dump all the old stuff so I could save the file folders. I also made my horseshoe table my to do pile. It is growing. I put a few things away in art, dramatic play, and table toys. And I measured for the wall shelves I'm going to get to put up. I'm desperate for storage as I'm sure every preschool teacher is. I have some wall-storage but the rest mats take all of it up. I'm going to expand it on one side so I can put some teaching supplies/toys up there too. I do have a nice closet, but it is full!

Lastly, I washed up and put the crates in the bathroom back together. I labeled them, too. I keep extra clothes for the kids at school. They are supposed to bring some but you know how that goes. I organized them by size in the bins. I had a few sets of clothes that were left from last year, so I put them in another stack of bins and labeled them: A-G, H-Q, and R-Z so when I have to change clothes, they will be right there in the bathroom and easy to find! Yes, I'm an organization freak!

My husband is going to take the older boys hiking on a trail tomorrow but when he gets back, I'm planning to head back to school. I didn't get a couple of my errands done so I have to do those and since I'll be nearly to school...


Who says teachers don't work in the summer?

I told myself that I wouldn't be spending my summer at school. That I wouldn't go in till August. Well, I couldn't keep that promise. But I have only been twice. Once was to drop off things I had been collecting at home and the other was after the janitor called and said they were done with my room. I had more things to drop off and some things to pick up. So I wasn't there much BUT I spent most of June working on school-related tasks at home. I planned all my lessons for the year. Yes you read that right.

This is my summer routine for lesson planning: Before school gets out, I compile ideas of new things I want to try. In the past I've allowed myself to purchase a few teacher idea books, usually Mailbox. However, this year I've discovered Teachers Pay Teachers http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/ so I bought some things from there. I decide on my themes for the year, and I print off blank lesson planning sheets. These are just what I use during summer planning.
In past years, I have used this form for my official lesson plans. However, this year I am planning to use an online lesson plan tool where you put the activities on line and then plug them into the plans. I think it will be time consuming to do at first but worth it due to not having to write everything out year after year. This is what my plan sheet from last year looked like. I have the learning standards on the left and bottom and circled them each day.

After school gets out, I write the themes and dates on the sheets, blacking out holidays and other changes in our schedule. As I'm sure you do, I keep my lesson plan books from year to year and use them to plan. I plug in books, small group lessons, large group lessons, and activities for center time. I always leave some out that I'm tired of, didn't go well, etc. In those holes I put new ideas. All this usually takes me a couple of weeks.

Once I've decided what activities I'm going to use, I organize them by weeks. To do this, I use crates with hanging file folders. I have two folders in each hanging folder: activities and copies. I have 5 crates for the year, 36-38 weeks, depending on the year. I number the crates and also label them with the weeks they contain so it is easy to find things. All this takes me about another week.

After I get all this organized, I go through each week and make notes on what I have to do to get ready. I'll make games and posters, etc. This takes another couple of weeks, depending on how many activities I reuse from year to year. 

After I have completed this, I go through each week and complete a To Do/To Collect sheet. I put this sheet in front of the lesson plan sheet for each week in my lesson plan binder. This way, on Fridays I can see what I need to do or collect for the upcoming week. I try to do as much as I can ahead of time in the summer, but some things have to be done right before.

This is my way of keeping my sanity throughout the school year. I am a busy mother of three boys and planning lessons and getting all the hands-on  activities ready each week was just too much for me. Even just finding them in my black hole preschool basement is more than I have time for each weekend. So I work in the summer to keep my sanity during the school year. But I'm done. With my lesson planning.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Welcome to Pandamonium!

So I'm writing a blog. My favorite teacher encouraged me to write, and when she sees me from time to time, she always asks, "Are you writing?" And I feel guilty when I say no. But this is a way that I can write about my passion, teaching.

Why PreK Pandamonium? Well you can guess that I'm a preschool teacher. I have been for seven consecutive years and one other year in a previous life. Pandamonium? What does that mean? The Free Dictionary definition of pandEmonium says
1. A very noisy place.
2. Wild uproar or noise.
That reminds me of my classroom. Most of the time it is good learning noise but not always. So why did I make the E an A? The answer is I LOVE PANDAS. My other passion is for pandas. I don't know why. I remember my first stuffed bear. It wasn't anything special, but ever since then, I have collected them. I have a curio cabinet with two pandas only shelves. And my classroom is decorated with pandas. I guess that is my classroom theme though I didn't know that was what I was doing when I was putting up pandas on the walls and bringing in stuffed ones and figurines to display. I found that out when I noticed a fellow teacher's room had owls all over and she said it was her classroom theme. So there you go. I teach preschool in chaos and I love panda bears!