Thank You Parent Volunteers!

The end of year is coming to a close very quickly this week (can I get an Amen!) and I wanted to let my parent volunteers know that I appreciate all they have done throughout the year.  I wanted to give something girly, cute, useful, and inexpensive.  Easy, right?  Well, it took a while for me to come up with an idea but in the end I chose to give them strawberry and mint plants.  I made thank you tag plant sticks and I love how they turned out.  The cute ceramic planters come from Wal-Mart.
I also wanted to give just a little something to  a few of the teachers I work with that help me in so many little ways - potty breaks, switching lunch duty days, and always dropping everything when I stop in.  So, I gave them little bags of chocolate chip cookies with a special tag.
You can download these gift tags by clicking on the tag pictures below.  All three tag designs are in one file.

Lindsey at The Teacher Wife has a great blog post showing what she did for her parent volunteers and she is also adding links to other blogs that have cute parent thank you ideas too!  Click HERE to go to her post and check out more great ideas.

I am also linking up with Courtney's End of the Year Gift Linky Party.  Click on the picture below to check it out.
I would love to hear how you thank your parent volunteers this year.  Leave your blog post in the comments and I'll add yours to my blog post as well.
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How Do You Plan to Help Children Learn This Summer?

Michelle at 3AM Teacher is hosting a School's Out Summer Giveaway.  She has posed a great question:  How do you plan to help children learn this 
My summer plans revolve around my own children, 8 and 10.  With my 8 year old son, I will be reading books together and helping him continue to practice the cursive writing he learned this year.  With my 10 year old daughter, who is going into middle school, I will be teaching her how to type and how to write in cursive (she skipped in school so she missed the cursive year).  She will also be doing some advance math preparation with her dad (a middle school math teacher).  Isn't that convenient?!

For teaching typing, I have purchase "Keyboard Classroom".  It looks like a great program to me.  You can read about it yourself HERE.  I think the keyboard finger guides are really going to help her learn quickly.
I am linking up with Michelle's linky and giveaway because I want to find out what YOU are doing this summer involving children's learning.  Click on her name or either of the giveaway  pictures to join her linky and answer the question:  How do you plan to help children learn this summer?

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Classroom DIY

I have a blog post today at Classroom DIY for making an End of Year Scrapbook for your students to paste photos, drawings, get autographs, or anything else you would want to use them for in your classroom.  Head over to Classroom DIY to check it out.

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We Achieved our Reading Challenge!

We started a reading challenge on the hundredth day of school for each first grader to read 50 books or 500 pages (if they were a chapter book reader).  We met and passed our goal and had a class ice cream party last week.  As a class we read close to 1,000 books!  The second grade challenged their students read 1,000 pages each and they soared way past their goal too! 

I told the students that I would let them pick a book out if they met their individual reading goal.  I gave the students a selection of books to choose from to order from the Scholastic Book Club.  Today our prize books came!
We really enjoyed watching our stars go up to show our progress on the challenge chart.  It motivated the kids to bring in their reading sheets and read at home.  If you would like to use my reading challenge chart and forms for a reading challenge in your classroom.  You can get it HERE FREE.
How do you encourage your kiddos to read?
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Countdown to the End of School!

We are counting down to the end of the school year.  We only have 7 days left!  I was home sick yesterday and it game me time to see what fellow bloggers were doing for the end of school countdown and I stole a great idea from Lindsay at The Teacher Wife and Mrs. Gray at Here We Go Loopty Loo.  Click on their names to go to their blog posts.

They have put up balloons to pop each day with a fun thing to do to countdown to the last day of school.  I LOVE this idea.

Here is a picture of my room with the balloons ready to POP!  We only have seven days left of school so I only have 7 balloons up.  
Here are some of the things I put in the balloons:
Sidewalk Chalk
Painting Day
Puzzle Day
Boggle Day
Use Markers All Day
Bubble Gum
Special Animal Visitor

I am linking up with Tessa at Tales from Outside the Classroom and 3 Teacher Chicks End of Year Linky Parties.  Click on the pictures below to go to their linkies.
How are you counting down to the end of the school year?
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First Grade Gold Medalists Awards

Award Medal Ribbons 12ct 

I am starting to clean out my classroom and I came across a bunch of party favor gold medal necklaces that I had used during the Winter Olympics a couple of years ago.  It inspired me to create "Gold Medalist Awards" for each of my first graders, tying into the Summer Olympics coming up.  

Rather than celebrating specific academic achievements, these awards celebrate the "victor" in all of us to go out every day and give our best.  Here are a few examples:

Gold Medalist in Boxing - For hitting your goals out of the ring
Gold Medalist in Swimming - For always going the distance and giving your best
Gold Medalist Equestrian - For jumping into everything with enthusiasm

I am going to give a gold medal out with each of the certificates.  I think the kids are going to love it!

There are 9 different Gold Medalist Awards for boys and girls (18 total).  You can get them from my TpT store HERE and from my TN store HERE.

Do you give out end of year certificates?  I'd love to hear what you do.
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Teacher Appreciation Linky & Happy Mother's Day FREEBIE

Jena at Caught in the Middle is having a Teacher Appreciation Week Linky Party!  Click on the apple to head over to her blog and link up.  She is giving away some gift cards too!  She's a sweetie, so head on over after you read my post.

Teacher Appreciation Week has come to a close and I was spoiled and pampered by our PTO and my class families.  The PTO provided either breakfast or lunch for us Monday - Thursday and a 10 minute chair massage as well.  

In addition there was a week-long schedule for the kids to bring a little something each day.  A non-teaching staff member was assigned to each class so that they would get appreciated this week also.  

Monday - cards  My little ones all made their cards with sweet little notes telling me I'm  the best teacher in the world :).  
Tuesday -  favorite drink Mine is Diet Dr. Pepper, so now my little fridge is stocked with a DDP for each day until school ends.
Wednesday - favorite snack  I got fruit and varieties of chocolate - m&m's, junior mints, etc.  
Thursday - flowers The students each brought a flower to go into a vase the PTO gave each of us to make a bouquet. 

The PTO and my class families kindness and generosity this week was over the top! 

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mom's out there.  Get a little Mother's Day card FREEBIE below by clicking on the picture.
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Silkworm Life Cycle Wheels

It is week 7 of our silkworms life cycle observations and the worms are ready to be moved to a box to start spinning their cocoons.  

We will do one more observation in our lab book when the worms start spinning cocoons.  We made our life-cycle wheels a few weeks ago.  I love these because each one turns out so different.  On the back we wrote about each phase.  Here are some pics.

Click on the picture below to link to my Animals and Habitats Pinterest board where you'll find more ideas.

Did you do a life cycle project this year?  I would love to hear about it.

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Teacher Appreciation Gifts

We are celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week in a big way at my school.  Every day the PTO has either breakfast or lunch for us.  Plus, they have organized something everyday for the students to do for the teachers.  Each class was also assigned a staff person who might not otherwise get shown appreciation this week.  Today was bring their favorite drink day and tomorrow is bring a healthy (or favorite) snack day.

I made these labels to put on the drinks and snacks that my kids are giving their teachers and staff.  I think they came out really cute.  They were inspired by ideas posted on my Pinterest Teacher Appreciation board.

Click HERE to download the free labels I made.

How does your school celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week?

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My Sssssssuper Snake!

Today we made snakes.  We have been learning about animals and habitats and, as we live in Arizona, the desert.  For a fun project today, we made snakes out of ties.  We opened up one end, filled them with rice (I had two parent helpers - I recommend this!) and re-closed them, added red felt tongues, and googly eyes with a glue gun (parent helper again). 

Then the kiddos names their snakes and laid them out to measure them.

The students measured how many cubes long they were and compared their snakes with each others.

Here is their form they filled out as they completed their activities.

And finally, they were just fun to play with!

Do you have a fun measuring activity you have done in your class?  I would love to hear about it.
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We are learning about habitats this week and yesterday we made our ocean bulletin board and wrote about ocean animals.  We are also making an Animal Groups and Animal Habitats book to go along with our study where we are writing about the different attributes of animals groups and habitats.  We had  a lot of fun creating our ocean bulletin board.  There was tons of student creativity and it came out great.
I was so impressed by their originality.  I had patterns for about six different sea animals but, my very creative and independent class decided that they each wanted to make their own animals.  So, with sea animal books and kids all over the floor and tables in the classroom, they went to work and created an ocean masterpiece!  We even have a sea snake (I have one student who ONLY draws snakes).

What do you do for your ocean unit?
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