How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Aw! Summer! Oh, how I love summer!

My family and I just returned from our annual trip to the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

Just because we were on vacation did not mean that the learning stopped. We just learned in a different way. We spent more time noticing our environment and taking in its beauty.  It reminded me of how learning should be organic; based on the need of the individual.

Equipped with this kid friendly guide, we explored. This became my son's daily outfit because, 
"Adventures are out there!"

We searched for raspberries and wild strawberries, collected rocks and insects, fished, and enjoyed the water.
All in all, it was a great family vacation.  How did you spend your summer vacation?

Here's a writing activity your students could complete to share about their summer adventures.

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Classroom Essentials

As you prepare for back to school, I thought I would show you some of my "must haves" for the classroom.

Books, Books and More Books!
This display holds our thematic books and teacher read alouds.  

Here is a small portion of some of our library.  I hope to replace these book boxes with some from Really Good Stuff.  Any suggestions?

Storage Containers
The numbered ones are from here.  They are the perfect size for most centers.  The colored boxes are scrapbook boxes that I use to organize some of my math manipulatives as well as to store centers once we've used them.

On top are my students' Grab and Go Boxes.  These numbered boxes keep some of their school supplies such as scissors and glue.  I like that they are portable and can travel with the student anywhere in our room.  On the bottom are our Book Boxes; ice cube buckets.

I can't imagine teaching without it anymore.  My classroom comes equipped with an Elmo and a teacher and student computer.

To make better use of our one student computer, this headphone adapter comes in handy. I was able to turn it into a instant listening center. I numbered the headphones and adapter to keep us organized.

Thanks to Donors Choose and a generous spouse, I have two iPads which my students can use.  I really hope to integrate this tool a lot more into my classroom.

Teacher Created Resources
Teachers are amazing, creative people who know and understand what kids need.  They have become my go to resource when it comes to planning.

They have also inspired me to create for my classroom as well.  This Parent Friendly Common Core resource is one of my favorites.

Our Future  
No classroom is complete without them.  It's amazing how each year I pour my heart and soul into my classroom for them.

What are your "must haves" for the classroom?  

From my classroom to yours,
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Creation Station

Have you ever wondered how to implement more art into your classroom?  
Today's guest blogger, Mrs. Coe will show you how.  

Hello Friends,
My name is Mrs. Coe from the blogs Little Miss Kindergarten and Little Miss Hypothesis. I was so excited to be asked to guest post for Mrs. Parker. When I first started blogging Mrs. Parker was one of the first blogs that I followed and I now have followed her for over two years. I am delighted to be able to blog here and share a little bit of my world with you.

Last year when I was setting up my classroom for school I made a little corner of my room that I called my Creation Station. It was very small. I wanted to be able to use this area as an extension of my writing center but at the time I was not quite sure exactly how I was going to accomplish that at all. Nonetheless, I set the station up and played with different ideas throughout the year. I also spent a fair amount of time just observing and listening to what went on in that little space in my own room. This is a picture of my Creation Station on the last week of school.

Throughout the year what I learned was that just like any other work space this has to have a proper introduction and time has to be devoted to that so that expectations are met and materials are used properly. Just like every other teacher, I struggled with time to devote to this. At times my wonderful intentions got lost to the pressures of the other subjects... However, I kept trying different things and learning along the way. What I learned was that with each guided project, the children became more comfortable with experimenting with materials independently. And with more experimentation, a lot of excitement grew for art. And this became a pretty hot spot in my classroom. And I have to say we did have some pretty impressive art come from such a little space in the classroom.
This kindergarten picture really inspired me. I remember who did it. I remember the conversation behind it and I remember the lesson that was given in order to achieve this...masterpiece. As I walked away from my classroom and headed towards summer break, I snapped some pictures to help me keep to my goal of creating a Creation Station that was fully integrated into my Kindergarten day. I knew the only way I was going to feel comfortable doing this is that if it were objective based and integrated fully with other subjects. And with all of those thoughts and wishes in my head I created...

This was created to help me answer the questions of "what" is going in the Creation Station and "how" I am going to fully integrate it! As a writing or word work choice it will be open during our literacy block and in the afternoon it will be open for free exploration of art materials! And the best part is that I can now honestly say that the art objectives will be taught through integrated lessons! But I still needed this center to be open even when a big project was not in the works so I came up with a few more options.

And I knew I needed books to go along with different lessons and art topics so I gathered my favorites and put them on my wish list so that I could order them as I needed them.

These are my all time favorites! And I knew I needed to supply my Creation Station with materials to use for the projects that we will do. So I made a list of the things I wanted and I am shopping around to collect what I need or want.
So many of these supplies are always on sale for Back to School.
Markers Bold and Bright and Pastels
Map Pencils
Construction Paper
Play Doh

Oil Pastels are my new favorite. I LOVE them for Kindergarten. These are not messy like you think. They outline everything and make a picture looked polished.  My other new favorite are Watercolor Pencils. What is not to love here?

And I was lucky enough to find these at a trip to Dollar Tree! These are perfect for an author study/art study on Eric Carle!

And I was super excited to find these at Dollar Tree too! These could be cute when used with a display of art!

So, what are your favorite art materials, books and lessons? Stop by my blog and let me know!

Thank you, Mrs. Coe for showing us how to incorporate more art into our classrooms.  This is a wonderful year long unit.
    Luckily, I've had a chance to use some of her creations in my classroom.  I hope you will too.

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Collecting Memories

Kindergarten is a special year in a child's life.  For years, I have struggled with how to collect and save children's work to share with families at the end of the year. I have tried several methods but none seemed to really work well.  When I saw this, I knew I had found the answer.

Kindergarten Memory Boxes

I purchased the boxes from here.  To create the top, I glued strips on construction paper onto the box to give it a pop of color.  Then, I made a picture collage of my class and copied it onto legal size paper.

Inside the box, families found pieces of their child's work from throughout the school year.

Each month, we would create a "craft" based on our unit of study; most related to social studies.  Due to storage issues, I did not assemble the pizza boxes until the last month of the school year.  Instead, I stored the student work in my teacher rolling cart.

With the help of my students, they filled their Kindergarten Memory Box.  It was a great way for them to "go down memory lane" and talk about what we had studied and learned.

This note was was the first thing that parents found as they opened up the box.

I liked how easy this was to do and that the student work was not limited to a certain size.   It did require some prep and planning but overall, it was a success.  I liked it so much, that I am planning on creating a Memory Box for my son.

How do you collect memories and keepsakes for families?

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