End the Year Strong!

Hello, my friends! Denise here from Sunny Days in Second Grade.  So we're heading into the home stretch and summer is in sight! I thought I'd share some resources and freebies that might help make your planning a bit easier. The first is my Summer Printable Pack. I swear I use every single page in this pack during the last couple weeks of school. There are a lot more pages in the pack, but here's a sampling, you can see more in the preview HERE. If you're required to send home summer work with your kids, this might do the trick!

We have a writing book that we are required to use through the year, but it's pretty much done by early May. Considering we're still in school for a couple of weeks in June, I get to use my  June Writing Journal! It does my heart good to at least end the year with some writing that we all enjoy. It's also a great resource to send home when parents ask what they can work on over the summer.

This next one is a long-standing favorite of mine. It's a literature companion unit for Last Day Blues. You can check out the book here if you don't know it. If you read First Day Jitters to start the year, you've GOT to close out with this gem. There's lots of fun stuff in this unit which will keep you rolling for a few days at least. You can find the unit HERE on tpt. Don't miss the freebie from the unit HERE.

And speaking of freebies, I hope you'll enjoy this one. My kids went bonkers over this last year and I'm excited to bust it out again soon. It would also be fun for a class party with a beach theme, or maybe even camp if you're working over the summer. You can snag it HERE.

And then there's my monthly freebie Bump Game, in both addition, multiplication and a blank board for you to do with as you please!

End of the Year Countdown: To-Do List

Hey guys!!! It's Katie from Little Warriors! Can you believe it's MAY?!?! Yes, May!!! How in the world did that happen?? Seriously!! So many of my friends are on the countdown. Let me just tell you...I HATE the countdown!!! It gives me severe anxiety!! Please don't yell "We only have 3 Fridays left!!" in my ear. Or "Only 17 more days to go!!!!" YIKES!!

Don't get me wrong...I'm totally looking forward to Summer, just like every other teacher on the planet!!! But, May is the craziest, busiest time of the year for me!! Soooo many things to do! So many projects to get done! So many things to remember!!! Ahhhhhhh!!!

Here are a few of the things I've been working on...

1.  Graduation

We make our own hats and tassels. I did a post on it a MILLION years ago! But, if you want to see how to make tassels, it does the job! Ha!!!! You can read it HERE
Our tassels are done...our caps, not so much!! We still have 3 weeks and nowhere to store them, so those will have to wait :)
But here's how our tassels turned out! I bought little graduation table confetti from Dollar Tree this year and we hot glued it to the 2016 to the tassels!!! SUCH a cute touch!! LOVE!!!!

We are of course, practicing our songs!! 
Here are a couple of favorites:

2. Thank you gifts for Parent Volunteers

I buy these plates at Dollar Tree and the little stands from Dollar Tree too!!! My friend Erin from Eberharts Explorers has a GREAT tutorial on how to make these!!! You can find it HERE!! $2 for these adorable gifts!!!!! Can't beat it!

3. Mother's Day: Mommy Spa

I LOVE this day!!! But, it does take quite a bit of work! It's soooo worth it!! The moments they share and memories they make are priceless!!!

We've also been working on these crafts/cards for our Mommies!!

4. End of the year Slideshow!!

Don't worry!!! I have worked hard on this one for the past few years! I think I have figured out how to make it really simple and super cute for you!!! Click on the button below! You will get a video tutorial, find out where to get adorable pre-made title slides, music suggestions AND a freebie!

 5. Bulletin Boards!

I have this bulletin board in my hallway right now!!

And, these little motorcycles are down my hallway along with their Summer To-"doo" lists. Ha! Love their little Doo Rags!! We are Geared up for Summer! :)

6. Keepsake Boxes

Kindergarten is an extra special year and we just have so many special projects and Keepsakes to hold on to that we make these boxes. We've been making them for several years now and we get the white boxes donated to us each year!!

7. Kindergarten Favorites Photos

I started making these a few years ago and Man, when I posted them, people just loved them! I did a little tutorial post about them HERE! But, they are ALL over pinterest now! So, you might be able to find other tutorials as well :)

8. Portfolios/Memory Books

I just LOVE these portfolio/memory books!!! They were one of the first things that I posted in my TPT store. I wanted something that could track their growth and progress throughout this very important year!! So, now, I'm busy sorting pictures and gluing every child's pictures in for each month. It's sooo worth it though! They are so adorable and such an awesome keepsake!! You can read more about them HERE! It's an OLD post. Sorry! :)

9. Summer homework Packs

I also just finished updating this Summer Homework Calendars pack that I created back in 2012!! If you bought it previously, make sure you download it again for the updated version and extra goodies! You can read more about it HERE!!
Time to start copying and putting these bad boys together!!!

10. Bubble Day!!

Gotta make sure we have all of our supplies ready to go for this fun day!!!! Another one of my favorites!!!! You can read more about it HERE!!!


All I can say is THANK GOODNESS for ESGI!!!!! Makes my live just a MILLION times easier!!!! Can I get an AMEN?!?
Not using ESGI?!? OMG!!! Get part of your life back! For real! It saves you soooo much time!!
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So, that's what my life looks like right now!!! Ha! Sooooo many projects to get done! So much work AND so much fun! I'm trying to get ahead for the first time in 12 years so I don't have an anxiety attack at the end of this year! LOL! So, you see why I don't like count downs? T minus 17 days until I have to have all of this done! Ha!!!! But, then.....ahhhhhhhh, Summer!!!! :)

What is flexible seating??

Hey Blog Hoppers! I am Kim and I blog at The Kindergals. Buzz words come and go so when I heard "Flexible Seating" I did a little digging. What did I find out? It really isn't anything new! Flexible Seating has been around A LONG TIME! Recently it has been given a lot of attention on blogs, Instagram and other social media platforms. It makes my teacher heart happy to see so many teacher embracing this concept! It's a concept that I embraced many years ago. 

Here's my "flexible seating" journey...

When I began teaching kindergarten...it was REALLY kindergarten. We ate snack, we took a nap, we had recess twice a day, we learned our letters, we played in centers, we finger painted...and we didn't have an assigned seat! It was the way I learned to operate a classroom, it was the way my mentors taught me to teach. The children moved around the room into different areas sometimes at a table, sometimes on the floor, sometimes on a couch, sometimes in a bathtub. The classroom was a place where learning didn't require a desk with a name plate for each child.

Times changed and we have slowly moved to a kindergarten where children learn to read, add, and subtract.When Common Core came out, many teachers gave up the things that had worked for them as they turned their focus to the standards. They moved to more seat assigned work, more directed instruction, more "sit and get" type learning--"sit there and I hope you get it". Teachers moved to more of a "print and go", reproducible, no prep type of instruction where the standards where written on the paper so it must be the best way to teach. 

Thankfully many teachers are now seeing that flexible seating doesn't mean you have a "loosey goosey" classroom where the teacher loses control. Instead, they see it is a place where rigor is evident in every lesson. It is a classroom with very specific routines and procedures. It is within this structure that children can be more selective as to where and how they learn. It allows for differentiated instruction, multiple intelligences, and Bloom's taxonomy to all occur not as separate lessons, but as the way the learning is delivered on a daily basis.  In today's classroom, the instruction might be a little different. The standards might be a bit more rigorous.  But the way children learn best hasn't changed!

What does flexible seating look like? It can look different in each teacher's room. Here are a few pictures of what it looks like in our classrooms. The true goal of seating it to maximize instruction.  Flexible seating is different kinds of seating for different kinds of instruction.

Flexible seating doesn't mean that you have a "tableless" room. 

As a matter of fact, I love my small group table. This is a table I use to meet with a small group of kids while the other children are working around the room. My kids know that this is the spot where we are going to meet together! It is also my desk! I don't have a teacher desk. This is it.

If I am doing a messy craft that involves paint....I would never want to do that on the carpet. I like to use my table for crafts, painting, cooking...things you would use a table for if you were at home! I also have a few small tables around the room. Here are a few that I have used over the years.

Sometimes I do my activity on the floor. Talk about excitement! Crazy, right? Just because we did our shaving cream writing on the floor they were super excited. Why did I do it? I wanted them sitting in a row instead of around a table. I wanted to be sure they were all seeing the word left to right! That is what flexible seating is REALLY about. After we decide what standard we are going to teach, we think about what resources we are going to use, which materials are going to be the most successful in helping our children achieve mastery. But, another decision that needs to be made, what seating environment while be most conducive.

Where's "Their" Spot?

My kids do have an assigned spot on the floor. To be honest, this is for my own sanity. I like for them to know where to get on the rug. This keeps kids apart that I just don't want together. It keeps all the kids in the right spot so that the instruction is most impactful.  It makes it where I can establish share partnerships with intention.

See those red bags? That is one of the smartest things I ever did as a teacher. It is their "carpet bag". This is where they keep all of the supplies that we use for large group instruction.  In the morning they get them out of the baskets and place them on their carpet spot. They stay there all day! You can read more about the carpet bags here. This eliminates the need for that desk to hold all those supplies! ALL, every single minute, of large group instruction is done with the kids sitting on the rug. They use a lap board for supporting their paper as needed.  With all the kids right there, I can easily see who is getting it and who needs to spend a little more time with me. It keeps the pace moving quickly as there is no need for me to walk around all those crowded tables. 

Why Did I Get Rid of Tables In the First Place?

To be honest, getting rid of my tables had nothing to do with any research! There, I admit it. Most of my decisions as a teacher are based on that "gut" feeling. That feeling that there has to be a better way. (It's only after I try things that I later find research to say it's a good idea!) I wanted to have the cute rugs, fun benches--the cozy places for kids to breathe! The problem--there wasn't enough room for the tables and the things I wanted! We hardly used our tables. So, one day after school I pushed a table to the workroom and put my name on it--in case I wanted it back! The next day, I pushed a second table. As you can guess, I never looked back. I kept two tables, one for me and one in case another adult was in my room doing a messy, fun activity with the kids! The rest of the room slowly filled with pillows, benches, clip boards, lamps, end tables, etc.

The Classroom is Your Day House

Now, my parents always ask at Open House where their child's desk is.  Here's how I explain it...School is our Day House. On Saturdays when I am home, I don't sit at my kitchen table all day...I would go stir crazy. Instead I move around my house--laying on the couch, sitting at the table, crawling around on the floor with the kids, swinging on the porch...different kinds of seating for different kinds of activities.

Pattern VS Novelty

We also know that the brain learns by pattern, but seeks novelty. So we divide our rooms into 5 zones. Each zone has different types of seating, different literacy centers, different math centers, different types of writing tools, etc. The kids visit one zone each day. The fact that they know the rotation, 1 zone each day of the week, establishes that pattern that the brain loves. But, the variety of resources and the different environment provide the novelty that the brain seeks.Within the zone they sit where they want! It depends on what they chose to do as to where they chose to sit...

...on their belly, leaning against the couch or using the storage unit as a table top! As long as they are working, getting the job done, being productive, working as a team, problem solving, then I'm good--sit where you like!

So that's it! Simple as that! Not a decision I made based on a research paper I read. Not a decision I made because it was the cool thing to do. It was a decision I made because I wanted to create an environment that was warm and cozy. A place where kids don't have anxiety. A place that I love to spend my Sunday afternoons.  A place where parents stick their head in the door and say "this is so cool".  A place where an academically rigorous curriculum doesn't cause tummy aches.


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