Monday, August 29, 2011

Math Work Stations Set Up

I worked in our classroom for a few hours on Sunday.  My main focus was setting up a system for the students to find their math work station.  Taking what I learned from Debbie Diller, I decided to use the same pocket chart we use for literacy work stations and just turn the pockets over and add a label for math work stations.  Below is a picture of what it looks like during our reading block and the literacy stations that the students rotate through.
Tanya glued the icons for each literacy station to a library book pocket.  At the bottom of the pocket chart, are the craft sticks with the student's pictures on them that we use to place in the pockets so the students will know which station they are supposed to work in.  We will use the same method for math work stations and it will look like this:
I turned the same pockets over and attached a label that has a 1-5 in a different color with  "Math" written in multi-color under it.  For example, there are 2 pockets that have the number 1 on them but one of the pockets has a red 1 on it and the other pocket has a blue 1 on it.  The same goes for the numbers 2-5.  This is the "Stations" chart behind my small group table.  The "Stations" chart behind Tanya's small group table has the same labels but the colors on her pockets are yellow and green.  This will make sense when you see the next picture.  We put 2 student's pictures in each pocket.  The students will take a look at the "Stations" chart and see what color and number is on their pocket.  Then they will go to this shelf:
We are fortunate that Tanya's very sweet father in-law built this fabulous cubby/shelf for Tanya several years ago.  She used to use it as a binder holder and cubby space for her students but it has been quite a while since she only had 20 students in her class. So, we found a new fabulous use for it!  Here is a closer picture so that you can see how the tubs are labeled to match the pockets in our "Stations" charts:
The students match the color of the number on their pocket in the "Stations" chart to the color of the number on the tub.  They will use the materials in the tub to do their math task.  Thank you, Debbie Diller!  Later when we have math work stations at the computer, pocket charts, or other areas of the room, I will label those areas the same way I labeled the tubs and the students will go there to do their math tasks. Right now, we aren't meeting with small math groups yet and we are still working on the procedures so the students are only going to one station a day.  We will teach them how to clean up and rotate to another station soon.  

The number 1 tubs have pattern blocks in them.  Last week the students got to freely explore the pattern blocks.  This week, I added  pattern cards that I found on   If you haven't been to this awesome website and checked out the "my printables" tab, you really should!!  The tubs labeled 4 have the play dough I made and shape cards for play dough that I also got from that great website.  She shares lots of free printables!  
The students also freely explored unifix cubes and counting bears last week.  This week the unifix cubes are in the tubs labeled with the number 2 with some pattern cards I made a few years ago.  Counting bears are in the tubs labeled with the number 3 with 1 to 1 math mats that I got from  
The math mats help with one to one correspondence.  The students have not freely explored our geoblocks yet, so that it what is in the tubs labeled with the number 5.  
The students loved the math tasks they did today!  We will tweak a few things tomorrow and keep on keeping on!!  Hope at least some of this made sense!  HAHA!  And, that someone got something out of it that they might like to try.  Today was our 13th day of school.  Only 7 more days until another visit from Zero the Hero!  Our students can't wait.  I am so pleased with how math is going so far.  Hope it continues!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Too Cute, Had to Share!

Our little "cowpokes" spent part of each day last week exploring math manipulatives.  So far, they have had the opportunity to explore pattern blocks, linking cubes, buttons, geo-boards, and teddy bear counters.  They have really enjoyed getting their hands on these materials and they have been so creative.
We love it when our students carry over what they have learned from one subject to another subject.  An awesome example of this showed itself to us on Friday when one of our cuties created what is pictured below.
This is our friend Carson, he was exploring the teddy bear counters and was proud to announce to Tanya, "Mrs. Wildman, look!  The bears are the class and we are in group time doing the morning message!"  Notice he used the lid to the tub that the bears were in as the SMARTBOARD!  How fantastic is that??!!  L-O-V-E it!!
We know he has been paying attention!  This made our day!  So glad I have a cell phone with a decent camera on it.  It was definitely a "Kodak moment"!  =)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We Are Going to Make Some Play Dough!

First, let me just say that we have had a fabulous start to our new school year!  We have a class full of little personalities and I don't want to jinx us but I think we have a pretty well behaved group.  We have already moved some little chatty Cathys away from each other.  So, hopefully we will start our new week with even better behavior.  AND, our behavior clip chart is working BEAUTIFULLY!!  Our kinders love wearing the stickers Tanya made from labels when they move to blue or purple. I am going to share with all of you this week.  Now, onto the topic of this post.  During the next few weeks, we will using play dough in our first math and literacy stations.  I have found some great activities out in blog world dealing with using play dough to make shapes, letters, numbers, etc.  I know our students are going to love it!  I spent part of this afternoon making home made play dough to use in the stations.   Here is a picture of how it turned out:
I made a double batch of the green and the blue. I am so pleased with how it turned out!   We are going to make another batch of yellow and another batch of red with our students as our first cooking activity of the year.  This is the recipe I used:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 cup water
1 tsp oil
food coloring
Mix all ingredients together with a fork until the mixture is smooth and one solid color.  Pour the mixture into a pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir until smooth and until play dough bunches up to form a ball.  Take it out of the pan and allow the play dough to cool.  Knead for a few minutes and store in an airtight container.
I got the recipe from  This website has recipes for all kinds of play dough!  This is just the traditional recipe.  
Looking forward to this week of Teacher Week 2011!!  =)  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More Classroom Pics and a Glance at Our Student Binders

Tomorrow is the first day of school!  Tanya and I are as ready as we are ever going to be.  Our classroom is all spiffy!  All the crayons, pencils, and supplies are in place.  We are looking forward to seeing all 41 of our new friends!
Another "Listening to Reading" station with our crate seats.

This is Tanya's small group table and stations rotation pocket chart.  You can see our behavior clip chart to the left.

Another view of Tanya's small group table area

This is our class library.  This will be our "Class Favorites" reading station.

This is my small group table and station rotation pocket chart. Our behavior clip chart is hung between our small group tables.  We meet with small groups while the rest of the class rotates through stations.

Another view of my small group table

We have used a binder system in our class for years now.  The following pictures show how we use them.
This is our "HORSE" binder.  Happy Organized Ready Students Everyday  Tanya got this from  It fits our western theme!

On the inside clear pocket of the binder, we will store their weekly behavior calendar.  This goes along with our behavior clip chart.  We used lot of ideas from all of you and tweaked it a bit.  The first folder in the binder is our "Communication Folder".  Any notes or money sent to and from school goes in this folder.

Anything that needs to be "left" at home goes on the left side of the folder, and anything that needs to be brought "right" back to school goes on the right side of the folder.

I added a house to the label to help our ELL families. 

I added a real picture of our school to this label.

Our "Homework Folder" comes next.

We put books, poems, "popcorn words" on spiral index cards, and math activities that we want the students to do at home in the pocket of this folder.  Each homework folder holds the child's reading log.  
In the back clear pocket of the binder, we added change of transportation forms on bright pink paper and the absence notes we found on someone's blog that was so sweet to share on blue paper.  This is the first year we have included these notes.  
 We showed the parents our binders Monday night. Tomorrow we will model how we use our binders and stress over and over to the students that it is very important to treat our binders with care.  Tanya and I have white laundry baskets on our small group tables each morning.  We teach the students to put their binders in the baskets each morning as part of our unpacking routine.  We give the binders back out at the end of the day with homework, notes, etc. in them.  The students take the binders home each day and bring them back the next day.  
Now, it is time to get ready for bed!  Tomorrow is going to be a LONG day!!  

Sunday, August 7, 2011


We will meet our new group of little friends tomorrow!  "Meet the Teacher" is tomorrow morning and "Parent Night" is tomorrow night.  Ready or not, the new school year is about to begin.  Tanya and I have worked our fannies off (wish that was really possible...) in our new classroom.  We are thrilled how it all turned out.  After being very cramped in a smaller classroom for 2 years with 40 students, we are more than just a little bit tickled to death to have such a big space to teach, encourage, and nurture our new babies!  Here are some more pictures of the finished project.
This is one of our "Listening to Reading" stations.  Two students will be at this station at a time listening to a book on a cd.  We are using some of  our awesome crate seats here.  

We display our "Giving Tree" during "Meet the Teacher" and "Parent Night".  On each apple, we have written something that we will need but was not on the supply lists.  These are simple things like extra snacks, electronic cleaning wipes, and card stock paper.  We ask parents to please pick one if they can and donate the extra supply.

We are very fortunate to have 2 closets in our classroom.  Tanya's very sweet husband and father in-law made these boards of hooks and hung boards with 21 hooks in each closet.  Above the hook, we attached labels with the student's names on them.  In our class, Mrs. Hutter's students are known as "yellow dots" and Mrs. Wildman's students are know as "green dots".  This is because when they go into the gym for PE, each class has a certain color dot to sit on while they are getting instructions for the day.  My class sits on yellow dots and Tanya's class sits on green dots.  On each student's name tag on their desk, there is either a yellow circle or a green circle.  That is how the student will know which color dot they are.  We put a large yellow circle over the door of one closet door and a large green circle over the other closet door.  The students with a yellow circle on their name tag will go into the closet with the yellow circle over the door and find their name over a hook and the same with the students with a green circle on their name tag.  Clear as mud for you??

This is the bulletin board outside one of the doors of our classroom.  Tanya did a fabulous job with her handy dandy Cricut!  Each horse has a student's name on it.  So super cute!  We love it!

This is on the wall in the hallway between the 2 doors of our classroom.  Another terrific job done by Tanya and her trusty Cricut!  This is where we will display the student's art work, etc.  We have already received lots of kind words about the display.  

On each end of our classroom, we have a set of cabinets and counter tops like this.  We are also lucky to have 2 sinks!!  We use the clear bins on the counter for the student's snacks. We have groups of desks set up like 5 tables.  Each group has a number hanging above it.  (you can see the number 1 in this picture)  Each morning we place the corresponding bin on the right group of desks.  In the bottom of the empty bin, we place a small trash bag or sometimes we use plastic store bags.  When the students come in and start to unpack their backpacks, they put their snack in this bin on top of the empty bag.  Once everyone is done doing that, we put the bins back on the counter.  At snack time, we put the bins back out and the students get their snack.  When it is time to clean up, they put their trash in the plastic bag that we placed in the bottom of the bins.  That way, we just have 5 bags of garbage and all 40 students don't have to make a trip to the garbage can.  We simply put each bag of trash in our large class garbage can.  Saves lots of time!!  We read to our students while they eat their snacks.

 This is the view of our classroom from our whole group area.  Notice the signs hanging over each group of desks.  Tanya made these with her Cricut, too.  We added the number and dots like on a die so that the students could count if they couldn't recognize the number at the beginning of the year.  We will call out the numbers when we want them to line up, or to give out praise, like "Group 4 is doing a great job working quietly", etc.  At each end of the large white board, we have our "Cowpoke of the Week" boards.  Each week we will draw 2 students names out of paper sacks.  These students will be our "Cowpokes of the Week".  These students decorate a poster, bring family photos, trophies, favorite toys, etc. and we display them.  We read about these students during snack and they get to be helpers in the classroom.  We start each year with Tanya and myself being the first "Cowpokes".  Our posters and family photos are displayed now.

We sorted through every book in our classroom.  It took a couple of days.  Most of them were already in a labeled bin but we did find several that were in bins that they shouldn't be in.  We made new western style labels using a really cute font we got from "Lettering Delights".  We have 8 or 9 shelves like this one full of bins of books.

We tried to place the bins in alphabetical order so when we are looking for a certain bin, it will be easier to find.  Some of them aren't exactly in alphabetical order because we had to use bigger bins for bigger subjects like "Christmas".  We are going to be soooo glad we took the time to do this!

This is our whole group area.  We are so excited about the SMART Board!  And that we will have room for all the students to sit on the carpet or floor.  The last 2 years we didn't have enough room for everyone to sit in front of the rocker at once.  
So, I may not get much sleep tonight due to nerves and excitement!  Is anyone else like this?  This will be my 12th "Meet the Teacher" and "Parent Night".  WOW!!  I guess it has gotten a little easier but not less nerve wracking!  

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like a Classroom!

Tanya and I have been BUSY!!  We finally have almost all our furniture in place.  We have cleaned out and organized EVERYTHING!  Tanya has kept her Cricut buzzing along.  Things are getting put up on the walls.  Tomorrow we will decorate the hall outside our classroom and we will start putting together our orientation packets.  Lesson plans will be made and name tags will be put on desks later in the week.  And, we will have the room all set up for meeting our new kinder friends on Monday and then having our parent night Monday night.  Here a just a few new pics of what we have been working on:

Tanya used her Cricut and the western cartridge to create our super cute "Birthday Buckeroos" wall!  LOVE IT!!
This is our calendar area. Tanya used her Cricut to make the words (they look like rope). I borrowed "Make Every Day Count" from someone on an awesome blog but, I can't remember which one.  I bought the calendar pocket chart and the "Counting the Days" pocket chart from Really Good Stuff.  I've never had one of these before.  I have always just added what I wanted to my calendar bulletin board.  I use the little pig next to the "Counting the Days" pocket chart as another way to count the days in school.  We add a penny each day and exchange pennies for nickels, nickels for dimes, etc.
"Chow Time" - lunch menu posted over the shelf that we will use for lunchboxes.  Love all the western fonts we found on Lettering Delights! 
More photos to come!