Centers... and some new things on TPT

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Hey Y'all!
Back in the fall I started something new/ different and I have to say that centers are now a BREEZE! Our must do baskets and choice baskets really make it easy for me to get in small groups and differenate my instruction, and centers.

1). Must do Baskets- These change out every 6 days, but it's not all new items. Most of the time I'm moving things from blue to purple to green to pink baskets. There are somethings that my blue baskets aren't ready for and those items I keep in the magazine bins on top. The pink baskets are truly my high flyers and their baskets are just that, skills that are above the current skill level. For example, my little high flyers are working on ending sounds while the rest of the class are working on beginning sounds.

Most months I am only changing out for all new activities every 2 weeks. My high flyers get new things more frequently because their things aren't easily traded to another color group. Of course I can pull an activity at any time and replace it with something different.

2). Can do choices- This is what my kids do when they have completed the task that I need them to do. Each neighborhood has books, puzzles, and baskets. I also have things like listening center, sensory table, writing, and magnetic centers assigned to each of the neighborhood. I have spent a lot of time discussing/ training my kids to know that a can do center has 2 people working together. Or you can work by yourself. I do this to cut down on the noise.

Changing out can do centers was tricky for me at first. Getting activities that the children could do independently and not turn into free play proved to be a challenge. But we made it past that. These baskets I change out when I notice that the kids aren't "picking" to do that anymore or that they are turning it into free play.

Here are some of my choices for can do baskets:

Fine motor activities:

Spinner games that we have used in must do baskets but still need some practice with.

Open ended matching or ordering games:

Matchy matchy games: think memory, or matching of any type.

We also have a computer area, books, sensory table, and iPads in our room that children can use.

This week is spring break for me and I am working to put up in my TPT store LOTS of $2 center game files. Each of these packs have 3 types of cards and 3 recording sheets. In the letter and sounds packs there are upper case, lower case, and sound cards and recording sheets. When I use these in our must do baskets I use a recording sheet and the children pull a card out of a "bag" and find it's match on the recording sheet.  When I put these games into the can do centers, I leave them open ended so that the children can decide what to do with them. Sometimes they match them upper to lower, sometimes the put the cards in ABC order. It's up to the kids and that means that they spend more time working on that item. I am obsessing over these jen hart Designs letters!!! Aren't they super cute?!?!? My kiddos are going to loose their minds!


just Breathe....

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring Break and for once we are not traveling. This week is about slowing down, resting, and taking time to just breath. What a thought, right.... just breathe! When do we ever take the time to slow our roll and take in life?

If you are like me, the school year is a flash of things to do. There are lesson plans, papers to grade, parents to communicate with, professional development, and that all happens around what we were hired to do... teach children. I am exhausted just thinking about it all! LOL!  But in all of that we have to make the time to take care of us.

A year ago, I reached a place where I was so far from healthy that I wasn't sure what healthy was. And then I started down a path that I will forever be grateful for. It's probably the hardest, scariest, and most private thing I have EVER faced. And along the way I have learned SO much!

Today I want to share with you something that I do each day that honestly helps with all the stress and pressure of being in the classroom. My secret is to breathe! Don't roll your eyes at me... I'm being for real. Ok, hear me out...

For years I would literally hold my breath and pray that nothing went so wrong that I couldn't deal with it. I would cross my fingers and move through the day. I could feel the weight of the world on my shoulders and the elephant that sat on my chest. Then I started on my journey... I worked harder than ever. Meals- check; lesson plans- check; lower stress- un not check. It wasn't until recently that I was introduced to the idea of breathing.

Here is how it works, first thing in the morning before my head lifts off the pillow I breathe. I focus on the rise and fall of my chest. In goes life giving oxygen and out goes the stress. I fight it off before it can even attach me. One breathe in, deep, where I feel my chest push the sheets up. And as I exhale I focus on what I have to bring to the day. Not the negative talk that most of listen to, but the positive, self affirming "I can do it" kind of thoughts. When I started it was only 1 or 2 minutes at most. Let's be honestly, this kind of thing takes building into. Now I go as long as I need too.

This is the basic technique to meditation. The breathing that is. Many people  I have shared this with say that if they had to stay in bed that they would fall back to sleep and then be running late. You don't have to stay in bed. But here is my caution..... don't move far, ok go pee but come back don't start your day. Breathe first. Sit on the floor against a wall. Sit in a chair. Find a place that will be your place. This place will be where you go every morning to breath. Couch, chair, bed... I promise it doesn't matter where as long as it happens.

So this is how I start my day. Breathe in, breathe out, breathe in.... picture what you want the day to look like. Picture the calm... breathe in, breathe out, breathe in... focus on what it feels like. Feel the calm.  This is what I take with me into the day. The calm. I can't magically stop stress from happening but I can stop my reaction to it. I can wash myself in the calm of breathing. Picture it.... grades due, lesson plan check, parent on the phone for you, and your sweet class is struggling with talking because it's a full moon. Makes your heart beat pick up right? Mine too... only now I breath. I change my reaction to what is happening and I am healthier because of it.

Bottom line, breathing gives your body the life giving oxygen. It steadies a racing pulse and a racing brain. Starting your day this way, focusing on breathing and picturing your day, gives you a calm that you can call back at any time. I can be in a staff meeting and "feel" the air change because of the new what ever we are being asked to do... and I breathe, I breathe deeply. And I bring the calm back.

So why the soap box? I don't want another teacher to face another day not being able to escape the stress. That stress turned me to food to cope. I was unhealthy. I was killing myself to cope wth things that I couldn't control. Dr Pepper, pizza, Reese Peanut butter cups, cupcakes... I felt in control. I felt the calm... the same calm that I achieve now by breathing.  I am watching others loose themselves because they don't know or don't use this simple technique. I didn't. I didn't know how. So I am sharing my newest found coping mechanism. I hope that it helps you too.


New Puppy.....

Monday, March 20, 2017

A year ago we lost the most wonderful dog. Bailey was a rare find. She was the center of my world, and then she crossed the rainbow bridge.

My world seemed to end... and there was a day when I wasn't sure I would be able to fill the hole she left. But time races on... and holes get smaller. At Christmas, we decided it was time to think about a new puppy.

Only, there wasn't much thinking into it. Mid January we brought home Rylee, a black and white English Springer Spaniel. And oh my! She is a spit fire. She is our new baby! Here are a few adorable pictures!

And here is a picture of both of my babies when Bailey was the same age as Rylee. 

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