Wednesday, August 20, 2014


O.M.G  TpT is having ANOTHER sale for back to school TODAY!!!!!  Eeekk!!  I felt like I shopped a lot at the last sale, but now that we are starting school, there are more things I need/want!  I am super-excited about this sale!  It's a one day sale, so you have to hustle to get your goods!  Here are a few things that I have to offer for back to school time!

I love my Back to School BBQ Centers!  These simple centers are perfect as an introduction to centers in your classroom.  They are available individually as a pack or in my First Grade Center Bundle {shown next}.

My First Grade Center Bundle is a bundle of 13 centers for the year!  Holidays, themes, and non-holiday specific center packs are included.

I'm excited about this Back to School Printables pack that I created this past summer!  I'll be using most activities from it this week, for my first week of school!  There are literature connections, writing, craft, and mini-books included! 

You guys know that I love to teach Writing Workshop!  If you are new to teaching or a veteran wanting to switch up your writing instruction, I recommend my Writing Workshop Resources Kit.  It has everything you need to start up your Writing Workshop.  If you are interested in detailed lesson plans, you can check out my Writing Workshop Bundle {shown next}.  The Writing Resource Pack is included in the bundle!

This is the mother-load!  9 writing units {all of my writing products} bundled for a discount.  This pack will get you through a year's worth of writing instruction!  Lesson plans, printables, paper templates, and more are included.  I love this pack!!!

These things and everything else in my store will be 20% off on Wednesday, August 20th!  If you use code ______________, TpT will also give you an extra 10% off!  Woo Hoo! 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


Hi everyone!  I am surviving my first week of school!  I am just popping in quick tonight to let you know that Schoolapalooza is going on NOW and you can snag my CCSS September Daily Sentence Editing pack tonight at 8:00 pm {Eastern}.  It will be free for only one hour, so be sure to set your alarm on your phone and stop by later!  Enjoy!

*Remeber that all this week, my friends over at A Class*y Collaboration will also be sharing one freebie with you!  There are multiple freebies each day, so refer to the collab blog to see what's free each day!  Happy Back to School!!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Open House 2014-2015

Each year we have an informal meet the teacher event a few days prior to the first day of school.  The parents and kids come and meet the teacher, see the classroom, and enjoy and ice-cream.  When I first started, we did a formal event, and it was always ridiculous because people would stagger in and miss parts of the presentation.  Babies would cry, kids would be all around the room, and there were never enough chairs.  Parents would miss important information.  We switched to the informal event about 4 years ago and it's been fantastic!  It's less stressful and less intimidating to parents.  In the past, I would have a million forms and papers laid out for the parents to take.  This year, I decided to make a few new things.  First was my open house 3-panel board where I placed all the forms I wanted the parents to take home and fill out/keep. Once I introduced myself to my guests as they came in the room, I directed them to the board.  Click HERE to check out this board on TpT.  I have many themes included!  You are not limited to a circus theme.

In front of the 3-panel board, I placed laminated transportation tags with safety pins attached.  I also laid out black Sharpies.  The parents could fill out the tags there {or at home} and attach them to their child's backpack on the first day of school.  This helps with the end of the day chaos.  If a child can't remember how they are going home, the adult can check their backpack.  *I have some extras laid out for the first day for those families who were unable to attend the open house.

Another tool I used this year for open house was my projector.  In years past, some people would bring supplies to open house, but most would send them with their children on the first day of school.  I have specials immediately after the kids arrive every day, so I would fly around the room during my 30 minute break frantically unwrapping supplies and trying to put them away.  I'd feel like I had just run a marathon and would be dripping with sweat when I went to pick my kids up.  This year, parents were encouraged to bring supplies to open house and I decided to have THEM unpack the supplies!  It was awesome.  On my projector, I put a PowerPoint slide showing them what items to place in their children's school boxes.  Let's not discuss the fact that I forgot the glue stick and had to draw it on.  That sent my OCD into full swing! Eek!

All of the extra supplies were put into labeled bins on the floor.  Most people opened the extra supplies but some did not.  That was ok with me because I had way less to unwrap!  *To grab the supply posters, click HERE.  There are all sorts of supplies included!

The parents and kids had as much time as they wanted to look around the room and check out their desks and data binders.

The students will start taking their data binders home each night starting on the first day of school! Remember last spring when I had help assembling all of the data binders?  It was awesome to open my cabinet and see them all shiny and ready! 

The students and parents LOVED their cards that I had on their desks for them!  I created this adorable cards on Treat, a site under Shutterfly's umbrella.  I was able to customize it with my photo on the front and a sweet message for my students inside.  I loved that the cards were more personal than the typical little certificate I leave on their desks.  I definitely recommend that you take a look around Treat's website!

Once everyone left I placed the supplies into my overflow cart where I keep them.  The cart was purchased at Ikea 2 years ago.

Needless to say, I was exhausted, sweaty and my feet were killing me!  I started the day looking cute but ended it a hot mess.  Literally!

Kids' first day is today!  Wish me luck!


Sunday, August 17, 2014


Hi everyone!  I'm here to tell you about an exciting event that me and my friends over at A Class*y Collaboration are having!  It's called "Schoolapalooza" and it's AWESOME!  A big thank you to my friend Kathy over at First Grade a la Carte for organizing this big event for us!!!  Each day this week starting tomorrow, August 18, stop by our collaborative blog and find out about scoring a freebie for one hour only! From 8-9 pm, you will have access to one product from each of us for FREE!  This is a great way to assess our work and fill up your digital files for back to school!  Everything we are offering is great for back to school/the beginning of the year.

One day this week, I am offering my "September Daily Sentence Editing."  It meets the CCSS Language requirements.  These are fun, daily printables that give students practice with sentence editing.  I have one for every month but tomorrow from 8-9 pm {Eastern}, you'll be able to snag the September one for FREE! It's a great way to try out this type of activity and see if you like it!  I have the sentence edits for September through June.

So be sure to visit the A Class*y Collaboration blog each evening starting tomorrow, August 18th!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Emergency Teacher Kit: A Bright Idea

Happy Back to School Season, everyone!  It's time for another bright ideas blog hop!  Today my bright idea is all about keeping an emergency teacher kit in your classroom.  Over the years, my kit has grown.  It seems like I always have a need for something...and if it isn't me, it's a teammate or someone in the building!  My teammates know that I have the "stash" so they come to me for meds and everything else under the sun! You just never know what ailment you might get while teaching!  I keep my things in a clear plastic tub so that I can easily see what's inside.  When I first started, I used a cosmetic bag but I would end up having to dump the whole thing out to get to the stuff.  I buy mostly travel sizes of the things in my kit so I can fit it all in there.

Here's a picture of my emergency kit:

Suggested items to include in your kit:

  • toothbrush
  • toothpaste
  • dental floss
  • chap stick
  • cough drops
  • ibuprofen
  • Excedrin Migraine
  • nail clippers
  • nail file
  • lint roller
  • gum/mints
  • deodorant
  • body splash
  • face powder
  • safety pins
  • tweezers
  • feminine products
  • hair ties
  • Shout Wipes or Tide Pen
  • hair spray
  • hand/body cream 

I hope you found this post helpful!  Now get to shoppin' those travel size items!  If you enjoyed my post, please consider following me via the social media buttons below!

For more bright ideas, scroll through the list below and check them out!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Classroom Reveal 2014-2015

It's time!  I can't believe it but it's time for a new school year!  It's always so much fun and exhausting at the same time!  I am excited to share my classroom photos with you today.  Hope you love them!

But first.........let me show you the massive load of stuff I my husband and I had to haul into school:

This was my "summer pile-" projects and purchases {three trips to Lakeshore Learning this summer. Whoops!} that I worked on/bought this summer.  Seems like just yesterday that I was working on those projects.  Oh yeah, it was.

Anyhow, on to the classroom!  When I left my room, it looked like this:

I'm OCD about getting it real organized in the spring so I don't have to spend crazy hours working in the fall. This year, with the help of my wonderful retired elementary teacher mom {shown below}, I have only spent 2 full days setting up.  I went in another day for a few hours to do some "finishing touches" and take pictures, but I didn't spend nearly the hours in my room as I have in years past.  I am a home-worker.  I like to do just about everything from the comfort of my home.  No distractions.  Food, drink, and a potty at my fingertips. You get the point.  This is the second year that I've had a circus theme in my room.  It worked nicely with my colors already, which is why I chose it two years ago.

The library.  I just love my classroom library!  I say it every year, but each fall I'm reminded how awesome it is to have these beautiful containers and TONS of books.  I've always had a thing for children's literature and it shows through this library!  I do spend my own money on books.  I of course use Scholastic points when I can but most of what you see below has been purchased with my money.  The library is my most prized possession in my classroom.

Small group area aka "the rug."  We spend a big part of our day on the rug so I keep all of my necessary supplies close!  Ain't nobody got time to be riffling' through desk drawers for a Mr. Sketch when the class is going bonkers!  I keep all of the kids' writing materials on that wooden stand.  It also holds big books.

Word wall.  This is also a favorite area of mine.  That tape job was a doozie a few years ago!  Luckily my super mom {who is also great with Math and all things measurement} helped me tape that sucker off.  I'd hate to see the sticky residue underneath that yellow tape!  And I know you are wondering-Yes, I put all of the words up to start the year.  I feel it's important to expose my students right away to all 100 words that they are expected to read and write by the end of the year.  Read more about how I use the word wall here.   The popcorn buckets hold kind notes that the kids' write to one another.  Our school implements a sweet system called PAX and these notes are part of it.  The students empty out their buckets every few weeks.  Seeing the nice notes they've written to one another really brightens their {and my} day!!

Classroom resources.  I am a firm believer in creating a print-rich environment for little learners.  I keep these resources up all year long for my kids and they use them on the regular.  I had to re-print a few months b/c they weren't rainbow order and it bothered me {and my mom}.  Hahaha!

Back counter.  This is where I lay out everything for my day, in order.  I do this routine each night before leaving school.  It makes me feel organized and eliminates unnecessary stress when I come in to school in the morning.  Read more about the use of this counter space here. 

Mailboxes.  I used to have a corrugated cardboard mailbox system but two years ago I got this wooden one.  I like it much better.  It's not flimsy {obviously!} like the other one.  I put numbered binder clips on it with a list of student names/numbers on the end.  I use the number system for the kids' cubbies, as well.

Student computers.  Yes, I only have 3 and yes they are outdated.  3 is better than 0.  We are working on getting more technology but that stuff takes money, 'ya know!  I bought some new headphones from Lakeshore this year.  I love them because they have volume control on them!  I made the crate seats a few years ago and each summer, I remove the fabric and put new on.  Click here for the instructions for the crate seats.

Door.  Lovin' these tickets from Trend!

Big board.  Obsessed with this!  I came up with the idea to make a shaved ice garland this summer and it turned out so cute!  One thing you'll notice about this board and all of my other boards is that they are all empty.  I wait until the kids come and we fill them up together.  This giant board is going to be kept strictly for student work!  I am so excited!

Poetry board.  I just love poetry!  This board holds our weekly phonics poems.  Click here to read more about poetry in the elementary classroom.

Math area:  So I'd reallllly love to have ALL of Lakeshore's Math manipulatives.  BUT, I can not afford them, so I took what I had, bought the containers from Lakeshore, and made my own little manipulative area!  I'm excited about this!  I love having everything within kids' reach!

Student desks.  Ahhh, shiny, clean, and free of snot.  Name tags in tact.  Love it!  On my students' desk, I include: a name tag, a number line strip {from Lakeshore}, a writing helper and a number grid.  Again, I'm all about giving my kids those resources they need!  On top of the desks, are the students' data binders, a snack for Open House, and an extra special note from me!

Speaking of the "special note from Mrs. Wheeler"--I was recently introduced to Treat by Shutterfly a few weeks ago.  I came up with the idea of having "welcome notes" on the kids' desks with a special message from me inside. I chose the card below.  I loved the black/white chalkboard theme.  I decided to put my picture on in black and white, as well.  It was so simple to upload my image and write a message inside the card.  I am so excited to make more cards on Treat's website!  They can actually put postage on the cards for you and send them to the recipients!  This will come in super-handy when school starts and I turn into a busy lunatic!! The kids are going to love having a special note from their teacher when they come to meet me!  Thank you, Treat, for this opportunity!

Cubbies.  This is where I store my "skill boxes."  I've used this method for many years now and it works like a charm.  The kids hang their jackets and bags in the numbered cubbies.  The labels and number cards shown are part of my Classroom Labels and Resources pack.  

The seasonal tubs shown below are kept near the cubby area.  I created this system two years ago and really like it.  To read more about it and snag the labels for free, click here.  

Guided Reading Area.  This is my gigantic kidney table.  It works great for guided reading, RTI, and just everyday activities.  I always have kids up at my table that I am helping.

I decided to put this colored cart at the end of my table this year.  The drawers will house guided reading supplies.  On the top I have some supplies that come in handy during groups.

Personal library.  Like I said earlier, I love children's literature!  This 4-shelf bookshelf holds all of my personal books that I use for read-alouds and instruction.  I used my label-maker to section off the books.  

Teacher desk area.  This board was actually in my college dorm room back in '99!  I kept it for my classroom after college.  I painted it and added some embellishments a few summers ago and I really love having it above my phone.

This is a long pocket chart that I have on the side of my book shelf.  I keep important forms in it {office referalls, volunteer forms, etc...}  that I need to have handy.

Teacher desk.  I don't sit here often, but when I do, I like to have a clean work space!  The desk is gigantic and weighs 3 tons.  I do enjoy the 4 huge file drawers!

Sink area.  Having a sink/drinking fountain in my room is amazing.  The school I teach in is 9 years old.  My first year of teaching I was in the old building and it was sick.  I am thankful to have had nice, new luxuries for the majority of my career!  I don't have to send kids to the hallway to get drinks or wash their hands.  I made the curtain below the sink a few years ago.  I just used no-sew tape and my iron.  I hide tempera paint and markers underneath it in crates. 

Wall resources.  The alphabet is part of the classroom labels/resources set I mentioned above.  The cute number word kids are from Creative Teaching Press.  I've had them for many years, so I'm not sure if they still carry them.

Finally, an overview of my room.  Thank you for taking the time to look at my room.  It's my home away from home, as I'm sure your classroom is, too!  I would love to hear your feedback.  Please consider leaving me a love note below!  Have a great year, friends!!