Monday, August 27, 2012

I Survived the First day of Kindergarten!


 Okay, so I have a whole new respect for kindergarten teachers.  Wow, I mean I seriously had NO IDEA how much harder they worked on the first day of school than all the rest of us.  See the picture above?  That's not me but it is a perfect depiction of how I feel.  The day started at 7am for me as I wanted to make sure I was ready before they started filing through the door.  Now I know that you can never TRULY be ready for a room full of 19 kinders, of which 6 speak little or no English at all.  I did not go to the bathroom until I got to my daughter's preschool at 5:30 this evening.  I didn't finish eating my breakfast until 3:30 this afternoon...yes I said breakfast.  My head was hurting so bad by the time I got home that I was completely useless to my husband.  Bless him.  He was so wonderful, he had a pot of coffee waiting on me as soon as I walked through the door, he fed the kids dinner and put both of them to bed so I could just sit on the couch and do NOTHING for an entire hour.   Now, it's time to get back to it.  Time to plan for tomorrow.  LOL!

I have to share one crazy story with you, one that I am sure many of you will be able to appreciate.  I had one little girl wander down the hall and into my classroom all by herself this morning.  I vaguely recognized her face from open house but certainly couldn't tell you her name.  I asked her what her name was and she mumbled something I couldn't understand.  So I asked again and I still couldn't make it out.  So I looked at the two remaining chairs without students and read the desk plate of the one closest to me.  I asked her if her name was "_______" and she looked at me and nodded.  We played a name game at some point today and when we got to her she mumbled something again that I couldn't make out and that was AFTER she  repeated it three times.  No one could understand her.  Don't worry teachers...I heard the alarm bells going off in my head...she needs a speech evaluation.  Anyway, at the end of the day I put the sweet girl on the bus that she was supposed to go on (according to the school list).  I was back in my room doing what the lady in the picture above was doing when I was called to the office.  Long story short; the girl did not know her own name so she let me call her by the other girls name all day long.  Hence, she was sent home on the wrong bus and the mother was calling the school ready to rumble.  Well since we were completely confused over the names the assistant principal told her that her daughter never came to school today.  Mother called the cops for a missing person report and the cops escorted mom to the school.  Oh boy. The truth was shortly unveiled but wow, I sure did feel like an idiot.  Lesson to self; when a new kindergartner comes into your room all by herself and can't seem to pronounce her name, make sure you take the time to VERIFY the child's identity.  Lesson to all parents: NEVER EVER EVER send your kid to school all by herself if she doesn't know her own name.

On a FANTASTIC note:  I reached 100 followers.  YAY!!!!  What a great way to end the day!  Now I am off to SLEEP and hope for a less dramatic day tomorrow. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Classroom Tour...Finally!

Welcome to Mrs. Ziegler's Kindergarten! 

Tonight's open house was a smashing success with 16 of my 20 students coming to meet the teacher.  Half of my class is hispanic so communicating with the parents was challenging on more than one occasion but overall it went rather smoothly.  I only had 1 hispanic family that could not communicate at all (and that includes the kinder of the family) and one little boy from China who has only been in the states for a few weeks and will only be here for one year.  I am pretty comfortable with the challenge of teaching to such a large group of ESL students but have to admit I am pretty apprehensive about working with the little boy from China.  Not only am I unable to speak or understand Chinese...but neither is any other child in the classroom or any adult in the entire school building.  How on earth do I deal with that on day one?  Any suggestions?    

I am however finally ready to share pics of my classroom.  Do you remember how bare it was the first time I stepped in and then how messy and disorganized it was while I moved in?  Well, all the hard work payed off because I absolutely LOVE my new room...

 View of the doorway entry from the hallway

View as you enter the room!

 Our Calendar Area.  I made all the cute calendar headings myself and am considering adding them to my new TPT store!

My BEAUTIFUL carpet:)

 My center-block word wall.  These letters are in my TPT store and they are PERFECT for this space.  I have to thank my best teacher friend (Mrs. Morgan from Asheville) for this inspiration!

Our Reading Center!

 Our Math Center.  The golden framed area will be for our math vocab words.

 One of my favorite parts of the whole room.  If you looked at the pics of my old first grade classroom you might recognize the blue and yellow pages.  I used to have them on our word family wall.  Now they will be used to help display student work.  Notice the super adorable banner hanging above?  That is all thanks to my amazing new assistant.  I was talking out loud about how I couldn't think of a cute or catchy heading for our student work and an hour later she had whipped out this adorable banana banner!  LOVE.
 My Corner.  Isn't it wonderful?  If you look REALLY close you can see my teachers toolkit peaking through the arms of the chair.

 This is the entry to our classroom bathroom. Also pictured are the backpack and coat hooks for the kids.

 This will be our block and games and puzzles station!   I still need to add labels and I wish I didn't have to keep my teacher resource bookshelf RIGHT's so ugly but oh so necessary!

So that's it, my new classroom.  I have worked super hard and now I'm ready to focus all that energy on teaching the sweet sweet kiddos that I got to meet tonight for the first time.  Hope you enjoyed the peak into my room!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Countdown Begins!


The title of this post is referring to a number of things: Less than 24 hours before Open House and the first time I get to meet my sweet kinders! Just 2 school days away from the first day of kindergarten! And finally....just 48 hours away from the BIG REVEAL.  As promised, I will share pics of my classroom very soon, I know that open house is probably the cleanest and neatest the room will be for the rest of the year so I wanted to wait until just before open house to take the pictures. I doubt I will have the chance to post the pics tomorrow night simply because I will be EXHAUSTED and the husband will be demanding my attention since he will be in charge of the kids all day tomorrow but  look for them on Friday.  The most exciting countdown of all?  I am only 3 away from having 100 followers...YAY!  I know it makes me a dork but I am so excited about almost reaching the 100 mark:)

Overall,  I am feeling pretty prepared for open house but majorly bummed about an announcement my principal made at the end of the day today.  Apparently we aren't supposed to send ANYTHING home with the parents tomorrow night.  Instead we have to save it all until the first day.  I'm bummed because I have always sent home a super organized parent packet with all kinds of great information about the class.  Most of the parents usually sit down on the spot to look through the packet and many fill out all the paperwork during open house.  It gives me the chance to address any questions about the enclosed information and it's a super easy way to make sure you get the paper work turned in.  I know, I know, waiting until the first day isn't that big of a deal but I would imagine it will make things harder to get things returned and there will be many unanswered questions from parents.  With this being said I just have to shrug the shoulders and roll with it.  All will be well.  Right?


On a different note I am overly stressed FOR my team members.  Of the four of us, I was the only one who had the chance to work in her room before the first workday on Monday.  Since Monday, we have all been in meeting after meeting after meeting.  My three new friends are all scrambling to get everything in it's place and presentable by 5:30 tomorrow night.   I wish I could do something to help but they are all at the stage where they have to decide how they want to arrange furniture and what they need to hang up.  I think I am being most helpful by just staying out their hair and trying not to distract them too much.  I am thinking ahead to lesson plans and LOVING my First Day of Kindergarten Linky Party.  I am so glad for that linky party.  For real.  Hopefully I will be able to get activities and everything planned out and simply share it all with the team, If I can help them by taking the stress of planning those first few days off their plates I am more than happy to do so!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Calling all Past and Present K Teachers...and a Reminder!


What do you do for homework? 

Okay blogging buddies!  As you all know I will be teaching Kindergarten for the first time in a decade this year.  What you may or may not know however is that I will be working with three other teachers who will also be brand new to Kindergarten this year.  One of which will be a first time teacher (EVER), one who has NEVER taught K and one who hasn't taught K in OVER a decade.  So as you can imagine...we will need some guidance from some FABULOUS and experienced K teachers.  Tonight I am coming to you to ask about your Homework policy.  I personally have very mixed feelings about homework in general.  I know about all the research out there that says homework is really quite useless, in fact it was one of the topics I researched and reported on in graduate school.  However, I am transferring from a school with a very high parent participation and I would argue that homework for those students did indeed make a difference.  My new school (from what I have been told) will be the complete opposite with little to no parent involvement.  So as our team sits down to discuss our plans for the year I would love to know what other K teachers do or don't do for homework. If you have a post on your blog already addressing that subject let me know or if you have more to say than what will fit in the comment box please feel free to email me at

I also wanted to remind you all about the fabulous First Day of Kindergarten Linky Party!  I know that most of you just had your first day or will have it within the next week or two so be sure to share your awesome plans:) 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

My First TPT product!

So when I sat down to work on my own word wall letters it was not with the intention of turning them into my first Teachers Pay Teachers product.  However, when all was said and done I thought "Why Not?"  So please follow my new TPT store, I have grand hopes of filling it with tons of goodies over time.  The first product is a freebie and I hope it will be helpful to someone out there.  I needed some letters for my new word wall and just couldn't seem to find what I needed even though there are already a TON of word wall letters available on TPT.  I needed small but not too small and I needed the vowels to be a different color than the consonants.  I wanted a cute font but not too cute so I went with good ol' comic sans.  The file is fully editable so if it looks like something that will be useful to you please download and feel free to change colors, fonts, and sizes!

BTW, I would love some great TPT tips as far as how to create things with all the adorable clipart, frames and fonts.  Any suggestions of a blog with great TPT tips?


North Carolina Teacher Bloggers: It's a Blog Hop!


I am having so much fun in the world of blogging and have really enjoyed getting to know so many marvelous teachers from around the country and a few from around the globe!  As I have seen a few fellow bloggers post about meeting up with teacher bloggers in their area I can't help but be a bit envious.  I think it would be LOADS OF FUN to meet up with some bloggers from N.C.  The question then is, how do you find who is close and who isn't without going to blog, after blog, after blog, and reading the profile of every single one?  Well, by creating a blog hop of course!   So if you are a teacher blogger in North Carolina join in the blog hop so we can all get to know each other.  Who knows, I might have a fellow blogger living right here in my own neighborhood!  Wouldn't that be somethin'?  Be sure to use the image above at the top of your own post sharing this blog with others and of course linking it back to this original post.  Also grab the inlinkz code at the very bottom for your own post. more thing; If you are in the triad area be sure to leave a comment letting me know where you are:) I can't wait to meet all my fellow Carolinian teacher bloggers!

This is a blog hop and has been linked up to the Teaching Blog Addict's Ultimate Linky Party!

get the InLinkz code

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sneak Peak

Well friends I met the goal for today!  I found a home for every unplaced item in my new classroom.  For the most part my room is ready but I will wait until it is COMPLETELY ready before the big reveal.  With that being said, I am so excited about an uplanned yet amazing accomplishment that I just have to give you a sneak peak...

Some of you may remember a post I made a couple of weeks ago about wanting to use the white board in the back of my room as my word wall.  Well I have since changed my mind.  Instead I have decided to make that white board the back drop to my small group reading table.  I will eventually put my workshop stations pocket chart on the board.  Above this white board are 3 super ugly metal strips for the adjustment of the board.  Well today, I was staring at those ugly strips trying to decide what to do about them when I had a "lightbulb" moment.  Earlier this summer I had purchased 7 green hoola skirts from the dollar spot in Target.  I had no idea how I would use them but I was feeling impulsive that day and brought them home with me.  Today I found out EXACTLY how I wanted to use them.  I cut the skirts in half to make them long strips and then hung them to cover the super ugly metal strips!

So here's the board in the back of the room.  See the super ugly metal strips?  Also notice the HUGE mound of unpacked boxes and tubs.  Those are gone now!

Waa Laa!!!  Ugly strips GONE!  But something is missing?  What could it be?  OH YEAH!!!  The super cute monkey's I bought for a hallway display.  Isn't it adorable? The green and blue ottoman seats from Five Below are also just perfect for this spot! 
I am so proud of this.  Mostly because it was very unplanned and a completely orginal idea.  It's so cute I think it's pin worthy...dont' you?  LOL

Hope you enjoyed the sneak peak.  Stay tuned for the Big Reveal.  Open house is next week for us so it will definitely be ready by then!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Shop 'til you drop!

Remember that $25 gift certificate I won to TPT store?  Well, boy am I glad I held onto it because it is going to be so useful tomorrow when I finally get to purchase the things in my cart.  I can not believe it has taken me this long to discover all the AMAZING things at TPT and Teacher's Notebook.  WOW.  Yet another thing I love about joining the blogging world; my eyes have been opened to a whole new world.  Sometimes I daydream about how AWESOME it would be to teach in a school with all my fellow blogging teachers.  Can you imagine that awesomeness?  A school full of teachers who LOVE to share and are incredibly creative.  Ahhhh...if only.

So back to my shopping cart.  It has been a week long shopping trip!  Every night this week I have been shopping on TPT and adding item after item to my wishlist.  Tonight I sat down and filtered through making sure I only added enough to my cart to stay within budget.  The goal was to make sure I didn't go over my $25 gift certificate.  Well, I almost met the goal.  I figure that once I get the added 10% discount that starts tomorrow I should only be over by $5.00 $15.00.  Yes, I am proud of the discipline I have shown.  So here's a look into my shopping cart, these are the items that will be downloaded tomorrow as soon as the transaction is complete!  I am crazy excited:)

From Nicole Lanier of Lanier's Lions I'll be the proud new owner of this great pack that will be a HUGE time saver for this "new-to-kindergarten" teacher!

Number Math Centers

From Jessica Standford of Mrs. Stanford's Class I'll be purchasing these super-cute monthly reading logs. I love how simple this will be for parent's, kids, and ME to keep up with!

 Home Reading Logs (per month)
These reading logs will fit into my Bee Binders perfectly!  Visit my post on the Amazing Mrs. Meacham for more information about Bee Binders...or just check out this great Bee Book packet from Mrs. McHaffie of Beg, Borrow, Steal.  I was so excited to find this product because now my BEE binders will be even BETTER than before:)

 BEE Book Binder

And I just LOVE so many products from Caitlin Clabby of Kindergarten Smiles especially this one:

Common Core Math Hot Seats (Kindergarten)

AND this one:

Our Daily Schedule Cards
Tammy from Live, Love, Laugh Everday in Kindergarten has some amazing things as well but I am MOST excited about these ten-frame number posters...great for subitizing! (this is one of my favorite words btw...I just think it is fun to say!)

Number Posters 0-20 {Bright Polka Dots and Stripes}

Marsha McGuire of A Differentiated Kindergarten has an UHMAZZING store and I had to be very careful while shopping her's like the Target of department stores.  Really, if I had the money I would probably download all her things.  But, again, I disciplined myself and picked my two favorite and what I predict to be the most useful items..

Top Bananas-A Letter Mastery Unit Aligned to Common Core

And last but not least are these great playdough mats from Tina Larivie of Laugh, Live, Love, Learn:

 ABC and 25 High Frequency Word Work Mats 

So that's it!  I can't wait to download all these wonderful new resources and put them to use this year.  YAY for gift certificates to TPT!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Teaching Sentence Structure and Tongue Twisters!

As mentioned in my last post, I have been spending some time updated my classroom webpage.  While fiddling around I began reading through our class blog (not this one but the one I do with my students).  I began a class blog about 3 or 4 years ago with my first graders. We started using it as a way to review our day, it was sorta like a "ticket out the door" kinda thing.  There have been some years where we have been very diligent about keeping up with our class blog and other years...not so much.  This past year was not a good class blogging year.  We had so much going on with the adjustment to our new science and social studies essential standards that we barely had time to have a read-aloud during the day, much less blog!  Anyway, while reading back through the blog I found myself smiling in fond memory and actually laughing out loud on a few occasions.  What a great way to record all the awesome things that happen in a classroom.  If you don't already have a student-interactive class blog, I highly recommend it! Along with the fond memories and laughter came a moment of surprise.  There was one particular post that has had over 600 viewings! It was a post with a video of my kids reading the tongue twisters they had written when learning about complete sentences.

Well, now that I know the tongue twister post was apparently helpful to MANY others I thought it would only make sense to share it here. The tongue twister assignment followed a week long focus on complete sentences.  I use this powerpoint to first introduce the five rules to a simple sentences:

We do some other shared writing activities together for a few days and then to end the study the students are taught how to write a tongue twister.  I read this book outloud before the kids begin creating their own tongue twisters:


The rule is (of course) that it has to be a complete sentence!  Each student wrote his/her own sentence and then got to type it out during computer lab.  They even got to choose their own font.  When the tongue twisters were printed I then used them to make a cute little display in the hallway, along with a sign challenging all teachers and students throughout the school to read each one three times fast.  I can't tell you how many times I would come out of my room to find someone standing there trying to say a tongue's hilarious!  So here's the video.  Hope you enjoy and that perhaps you can use it to inspire your kiddos to write their own tongue twisters!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sharing Common Core with Parents

As I was working on my classroom webpage tonight, I went on a search for some parent-friendly literature on Common Core standards.  Looking at the standards at can be a bit overwhelming for me, and like most of you, I have a trained eye for reading this type of document.  So imagine how it must look to parents who really just want a straight answer without having to read all the teacher jargon!  Well, I lucked up when I ran across the National PTA's website and their Parent's Guide to Student Success.   Short, sweet, and to the point it gives all the most important information (the stuff parent's care about) in parent-friendly terms and even adds some tips on how to work with the teacher to make sure your child is succeeding.  I copied and pasted most of the kindergarten guide as a link on my classroom website (I also made sure I included a direct link back to the site).  Have you found anything else that is a great reference point for parent's with questions about common core?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Caution: Enter At Your Own Risk!

Oh my goodness friends!  I have been one busy little beaver these past three days.  The moving-in process FINALLY started on Monday.  My husband and I showed up at the school  bright and early Monday morning, ready to begin the long process of hauling my 3 + pallets of stuff  from the receiving room to my classroom (did I mention that the school was nice enough to let me store all my stuff there until my floors were finished)? Anyway, I deem it necessary to point out that the distance from the receiving room to my room is a really, really, really big one when your pushing or pulling or carrying mounds of boxes!  So we were about thirty minutes into it when we saw a man coming our way from the far end of the hallway.  The man started waving at us and I looked at my husband and just shrugged, saying "I have no idea who that is", but as the man got closer my husband recognized him as one of his Sergeants!  Turns out that my dear sweet husband had recruited some help without even filling me in.  So the two super strong men cleared out the entire receiving room in about an hour!  It was wonderful.  We begged his Sergeant to let us buy his lunch but he steadfastly refused and just looked straight at me and said "Thank YOU for teaching our children!" incredibly sweet and amazingly refreshing to have someone completely unrelated to you or your profession take the time to give such a sincere thank you.  While moving and working hard, the sergeant shared with us that THIS had been his elementary school as a child.  I thought that was so cool!

So we finished moving things in on Monday but then spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying a delicious lunch-out.  It is VERY seldom that the husband and I ever have time alone together without our two kiddos tagging along.  So we took advantage of the day and made it into a lunch date.  I did go back later that afternoon on my own but spent about two full hours just standing in the room and thinking about where things would go.  I like to take my time when setting up a classroom and tend to be very methodical about every decision.  I have never been able to fathom how some teachers can wait until those work days at the beginning of the year and then come in and have their room all ready to roll in one or two days.  It ALWAYS takes me at least a week, and when moving classrooms, at least two!

So now two days later, progress has been made.  It is very slow moving as I spent ALL day yesterday and the majority of the today just cleaning out the cabinets.  The teacher before me had left quite a bit, some that belonged to the classroom or school and some that had belonged to her.  So I had to go through everything to decide what belongs in which pile.   I made a give-away pile, a return to supply closet pile, a move to storage room pile, a recycle pile and a trash pile!  The give-away pile is HUGE and continues to grow.  I hope people claim it all, otherwise it all get's trashed!

I have a few pictures to share to give you an idea of the chaos that is my room at the point:

Day 1: Most of what came out of the receiving room, now spread out in the classroom!

 Day 2: Let cleaning and unpacking begin!
 Table and assistants desk full of things that need to find a home somewhere in the classroom!
 Another new teacher came in to work on her classroom today and as she passed through my room she said "I feel overwhelmed just being in this have so much stuff!"
 But here was the highlight of my day.  My brand new carpet was delivered!  I was going to wait until I had everything in place before unrolling it but I just got too excited and curious about how it would look so...
Isn't is BEAUTIFUL!!!:)  

So tomorrow, I will return with the goal of having EVERY box unpacked by the end of the day so that I may spend next week on bulletin boards, wall displays, and organization things.  I'll be sure to keep you all updated!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

My Teacher Toolkit and Five Below Find

Just a quick reminder, as many of you will begin teaching your new kiddos this week or next, if you are a kindergarten teacher who has not linked up to the First Day of Kindergarten Linky party, click on the image below and join in!  We already have some FABULOUS postings, so even if you don't have time to link up, take notes and spread the word to all your teacher friends so they can do the same:)

Okay friends, here it is, my very own teachers toolbox....

After seeing all the wonderful toolboxes floating around on blogs and pinterest, I just HAD to do one of my own and boy, am I in love!  I love all things that are organized.  It makes me very happy.  I saved the word document that I used to print the labels on card stock.  If you're interested in a copy, let me know and I will add it as a google document for you.

In addition to the pride I am feeling after the completion of this incredibly easy project,  I am also feeling pretty proud of an awesome item I found at a great price while out shopping today.  This weekend is tax free shopping in N.C. (for all school related items) so I went out searching for shoes for my little guy. He is notroious for just waking up on random mornings with feet that are one whole size larger than they were the night before.  Anyway, while we were out we stumbled upon the grand opening of a new store in town called Five Below.  Everything in the store is five dollars or below.  I wasn't too impressed with prices overall but there were certainly a few items that could be considered a GREAT deal for under $5.  I just happened to find one of them.  I have been considering making the infamous crate seats for my new classroom but had put it on the "if I have time" list.  However, when I saw these collapsible storage ottoman's today my interest was peaked.  I loved the way they looked and I loved that they were only $5 but I was concerned that they would not be sturdy enough for students to sit on.  So I turned into the customer that all sales associates despise.  I opened the package right there in the middle of the store and put it together.  Then I got my little four year old (who is only a year shorter and lighter than my soon to be kinders) to sit and wiggle around on it.  I was sold.  I grabbed 3 blue and 3 green for a total of 6 and will use them for my guided reading table.  Here is a picture...

Tonight, I put one together again and tested it with my own weight.  I even wiggled around and bounced a little (yep, you can laugh now!)  I will NOT post my weight but as you can gather it is much greater than that of a five year old and the ottoman held up great!!!  I think they are going to work out perfectly and now I can cross one more thing off my to-do list.  Yay!