Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Organizing Your Pinterest for Teachers

Today's post is inspired by my co-worker who suggested that I write a post about my Pinterest. I had never really thought about it before. I am on Pinterest all the time, but I don't just use it for teaching, I also use it to find new recipes, for sewing tips, and keeping a fashion board. I also used it a lot when I was planning my wedding.

When I first started substitute teaching, I made a TEACHER TEACHER board and kept everything on it. It was loaded with art teaching ideas, management tips, and all kinds of things. It was a little hard to keep up with and find the posts that inspired me when I needed them. 

When I found out that I was going to be teaching third grade, I started pinning all this third grade stuff...but then when I went back to it, again, everything was all together on one huge board! It was too much to sort through, even with searching, so I decided to make boards for each 'topic' I taught. Math was one the biggest things I pinned, so I split it up into standards. Here are some examples - Multiplication, Rounding & Place Value, and Fractions.

I don't have any fancy covers for my boards or anything. I think that is just too much work and I like the way their why change it? I feel like I can still find what I want way more easily than before and that's what really matters to me.

Even though I started with everything on one board, it was easy to move everything into it's own category. Click the little pencil button on the top right of the pin to edit it, then either create the new board or select one you have already created. Even if it takes you some time, at least you only have to do it once and then it's easier forever!

I hope this helps anyone thinking about organizing their Pinterest boards! If you know of any good teacher boards or planner boards - I'd love to follow!

Love & Sparkles,

Miss Jones

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ancient Chinese Fireworks Craft

In third grade in Virginia, one of the biggest (and most fun) units that we teach in social studies is about ancient civilizations. We study Ancient China, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Rome, and Ancient Greece. The kids love learning about these cultures! They are fun to teach too because each place is interesting and unique! At the end of the unit we get to compare and contrast these cultures and use all that we've learned to create some fun projects. 

This is an example of one of the projects that we did in class to enhance our study of Ancient China. One of the Ancient Chinese contributions was that they invented fireworks. 

We used pipe cleaners, paint, plastic plates and construction paper to create these firework paintings. I took about 4 pipe cleaners and bent them in half. I twisted one side of the halves to make a handle and then put out each individual pipe cleaner at the bottom to create a pointed 'star' shape. We used the twisted pipe cleaners as a handle and dipped the 'star' shape onto the plastic plates, each one with different color of paint. I chose to only use red, blue, yellow, and white so that when the colors mixed, there would not be any yucky, neutral grays or browns. As more students created the project, the paint colors mixed but that made it look even better! 

This project went well with our Ancient China unit, but it could also be used to celebrate Chinese New Year! Students really enjoyed getting to use paint outside of the art classroom and making something so beautiful! You can see that some are simple and some chose to make more complex designs! 

This idea is all over Pinterest - I did not come up with it, I just found a way to incorporate it into what we were learning. :)

Love & Sparkles,

Miss Jones

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

FREEBIE Shoe Box Biography Project & Presentation

Hi Everyone!

We had President's Day yesterday and today - A SNOW DAY! We got a few inches of snow on President's Day and then rain that turned to ice over night! This morning we found out we had another day off so I spent it working! 

I have been trying to revamp my TeachersPayTeachers store and update some older products. This afternoon I have been working on my Shoe Box Biography Project and now it is done! I think it looks so much better!

Here is the BEFORE:

Here is the AFTER:

I've also been doing research about blogging, selling on TPT and being a teacherprenuer. The 3AM Teacher and Erica's Adventures have been super helpful! Utilizing the free resources for sellers on TPT is awesome! Love having so many fun borders, fonts, and clip art to use. Learning the ins and outs of crediting, copyright, and how to properly save products is a HUGE learning curve, but I know it will get easier with time. 

I appreciate this community and all that I can learn from everyone!! Please let me know what you think!

Love & Sparkles,

Miss Jones

Monday, February 15, 2016

FREEBIE Valentine's Day Thank Yous!

Hi everyone! 

Happy belated Valentine's Day!

I just created a quick FREEBIE for you to thank your students for their Valentine's Day gifts! 

In my class I received so many sweet Valentines, candy, and small gifts! While I am writing some personal thanks you, I also created this to print and give out to my whole class in a weekly folder that gets sent home to parents! 

It includes a half letter sheet thank you card that you can sign and copy, then cut in half to send home and a foldable card that you can use to write on the inside. There is a black and white and color version of each card.

Please visit my TeacherPayTeachers store to download the FREEBIE (Click on the picture or use the link above) and follow my store for more! 

Love & Sparkles,

Miss Jones

5 Minute Quick Draw

The two weeks ago, we had a historic blizzard! We had over 20 inches of snow come down over the weekend. We spent the weekend curled up inside, drinking hot cocoa (with a kick :P) and binge watching Netflix. This blizzard and the small amount of the snow we had the night before it started cause us to miss seven days of school, with two weekends in between, so a total of eleven days out, with only 1 full day of school in 14 days. 

That is a lot to miss after have a two week winter break only a few weeks before - and at the end of the quarter no less! We were scrambling to get everything packed in before report cards were due. Even coming back to school on Monday after the blizzard we had a 2 hour delay - talk about lacking routine! 

I knew that if it was that hard to me to get back into it, it would be even harder for the kids! I didn't want to just jump back into EVERYTHING that we had missed and needed to get done. We needed time to share and appreciate being together again! On Thursday before we went back, I sent a check in email to parents and asked them to send me pictures of their family having fun in the snow storm. I used all the pictures I got to put together a Google Slides to show the students - we had a lot of fun looking at each others neighborhoods and snow covered driveways. 

Normally on Mondays we do a quick weekend update and everyone gets to share about what they did over the weekend. However, with a 2 hour delay we do not have time to do a morning meeting, so instead, to ease back into learning we did a 5 minute quick draw. 

I gave each student a blank piece of computer paper and asked them to take out a black marker. I explained that they would draw a picture of something that happened over their "snow-cation" using only their black marker. They needed a title and their name and it needed to be done in 5 minutes. I set the timer and the room filled with the gift of silence and focus...ahhh...

After our 5 minutes was up, we hung our pictures on our clothes pins outside the door for everyone to see. It was a fun, quick way to get our focus back, get ready for learning, and share about our weekend. This type of activity can be utilized in lots of different ways, not just sharing about a weekend/vacation - do a quick draw about a subject you've been studying or at the beginning or end of a writing.

Love & Sparkles,

Miss. Jones

P.S. Be sure to share it with your school's art teacher - she will be impressed with their lovely, simplistic line drawings! Trust me ;)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Writing a Weekly Newsletter

Something that I have done since I started teaching is sending home a weekly newsletter with my students. I think it is so important to keep communication open with parents and let them know what is going on the classroom and how they can support learning at home. The parents love it and it makes them feel more connected with what their child is learning in the classroom.

My newsletter has evolved over time. My first year, I started out by writing a document in Microsoft Word, adding some clip art, proof-reading, and then printing out the copy and making 1 copy for each student to take home in their Thursday Folder. Thursday Folders go home with student papers, fliers from school, and other important forms and information.

My second year I added a question to my Open House form about how parents would want to receive a newsletter. The majority of parents preferred email, so I adapted. The information in the newsletter stayed the same, I just sent it out via email on Thursdays (and no more cute clip art). I created a 'Parents 2015-16' distribution list, now known as a Contact Group (I didn't know you could do this on Microsoft Outlook until my third year) and send it out as 'bcc' to respect everyone's privacy. It made emailing so much easier. 

Here is a general outline of what I include in every weekly newsletter - 


Quick Hello/Connect to something that's been going on outside of school or weather.

In language arts this week we.... Talk to your child about this that we've been working on...Moving forward we'll be working on...

In math this week we...Make a connection to how parents can help students use this skill in real life...Next week we'll be working on...

In science this week we...Ask your child about this...Next week we will be...

In social studies this week we...Work on/Look for/students need to know...Next week we will...

Any extra information about what is coming up in class (recorders, field trip money, forms, in class events, etc.)

Important Dates
Look at your school's website and add any important dates (PTA events)
Add any test dates
Add any holidays, early release days, etc. 

If you aren't already doing a newsletter, I strongly encourage you to start one! Parents will love it, it will create a stronger home/school connection, and it lets you reflect on and summarize your week.

Love & Sparkles,

Miss. Jones

Sunday, February 7, 2016

My Planner!

Today I wanted to share about my planner! I have always liked to keep a written calendar or to-do list. With so much technology, not many people like to do this anymore. I keep track of things better if they are written down and I like the satisfaction of physically checking things off of a to-do list. 

At the beginning of the new year I decided that I wanted to get a new planner and after doing some research, it turns out there is a BIG planner community! I had no idea. There were so many options. So many types. So many sizes. Vertical, horizontal, spiral, ring bound? What?! There's even a planner summit weekend - Geaux Wild New Orleans 2016...Intense!

After some research, I chose the Erin Condren LifePlanner. This planner comes in 3 different styles - horizontal weekly, vertical weekly, and hourly weekly. I got the horizontal weekly. 
It has been working really well for me. I also like that it can be used as sort of a personal, weekly scrap book. 

I received my planner about the second week of January and since then I have been loving using stickers and markers to make it my own. This is half of my Valentine's Day week. There are some sparkly dinosaurs, flowers, and hearts. All of these sticks are from Walmart. I'll share more about the stickers in another post, I bought some awesome ones from sellers on Etsy! 

What kind of planner do you use? Any fun planner tips for me?!

Love & Sparkles,

Miss. Jones