March 14, 2011
I'm loving these storage cubes (sold at Target stores). They are very inexpensive and can be stacked or laid down for filling. They come in all sorts of colors, which is a plus! So, it matches ANY classroom decor and what I love most is that you can stack them as high or as low as you like...which is great if you've been having issues coming up with ideas to divide certain areas in your classroom. You can store your book bins, your reading buddies (if you lay the cubes down instead of stacking them), you can use it to store materials and/or supplies. I am in love with these and I'm loving the price too. You can't beat it! A set of 4 cubes for $19.99. I thought this was an A-MA-ZING organizational tool with endless possibilities for keeping your classroom messy-free! What sorts of shelving and/or storage do you use in your classroom? I'd love to hear your ideas!
March 7, 2011
Lesson Plan/Unit Organization
Sample picture was taken from Learning and Teaching with Preschoolers
Be sure and check out the link above to see more samples from this amazing teacher! I'm sure you'll get loads of ideas for how to set up your binders! :)
I've read, seen and tried many different ways to organize my unit/lesson plan ideas. Every year I accumulate so many teacher resource books that my bookshelves are about to cave in from all of the weight and I realized today that while all of my teacher resource books have a gazillion lessons compiled in each when it comes time for me to do my lesson planning I can't seem to remember where I saw 'that particular idea' that I rake my brain trying to remember so that I can do it with the kiddles. So, here's what I've come up with as far as organization goes...
1. I absolutely LOVE to buy teacher resource books (and for those of you that know me or have met me you know that I am OBSESSED with The Mailbox). As much as I love these books and I love skimming through them I think that the best thing to do is to take them apart and place the lessons and ideas into corresponding theme/unit binders. Or, if you have the ability to do so... then leave the books as they are and just make copies of all of the pages so you don't take your books apart but I must warn you that it will take lots of time, effort and money to do this.
2. Purchase loads of 2" binders or 3" binders depending on the unit and the amount of ideas and activities that you have to put away for each... I know that sheets of paper look very slim when they stand alone but when you start adding them into a binder it's really quite shocking how quickly that binder gets fat! So, if it is a small unit you might be able to fit all of your ideas that you've collected over the years into a 2" but for the bigger units like "Nursery Rhymes" or "Farm" or "Bugs" you may require the 3" binders.
3. You can either use the Clear-View binders with the clear pockets in the front and back so you can create a cover sheet for the front of the binder or you can use the regular binders (they are cheaper) and then purchase some Avery labels and create sticker labels for the front and spine of your binders. Note: Be sure to make a label for the FRONT and the SPINE... you'll thank me later when you place all of your units on a shelf and all of your spines are labeled instead of blank!
4. After you label your binders, then you can either make copies of all of your resource books or you can take apart the actual book and place the pages pertaining to your unit into the corresponding binders. I know it takes more work, but you might still have to make some copies even if you take apart your resource books because some of the backsides of the pages may contain information of the beginning of a different unit. I know this seems time consuming, and it will probably take a couple of years of teaching to get everything in tip-top shape but eventually you'll find that when you have to plan a whole unit on bears, you won't have to look through a gazillion resource books, instead you'll just have to pull out your handy "Bears" unit binder and every single 'bear' resource you own will be at your fingertips.
5. To be EVEN MORE organized, you can even add some dividers (they usually have them in packs of 5 at the dollar store or you may even find them at the beginning of the school year super cheap! Target, for example, usually puts all of their leftover school supplies on clearance about 1-2 weeks after children have already started school. You can label the dividers so that when you are doing your lesson plans you can find the things that you are looking for easily instead of having to flip through the 200 resource pages that you accumulated for that unit: Some ideas for labeling your dividers are as follows: Subjects (reading, math, science, etc.), Songs/Poems, Stories (ideas that go with particular storybooks for the unit, flannelboard stories, story props, etc.), Reproducibles (templates, printables, etc.) and lastly Samples (here you can add finished samples so that when you use the activity year after year you will not have to keep creating a sample of it, you can just pull it out and share it with the students). I realize that the label "Subjects" is very general so if you find that you have a gobzillion activities then you should probably spend that extra dollar and get 5 more dividers for that particular unit and then go ahead and label each subject separately.
I know that this all seems like a lot of work, but I know that you'll be happy with all of it when its completely compiled. Just think of it, when you sit down at your desk to write up your lesson plans/units you can sit down with your laptop, a can of ice cold Diet Coke, your unit binder and your storybooks for the week and that's IT!!! How awesome would THAT be! I get chills just thinking about it! It is so stinkin' awesome!
Hope this idea helps you out with your planning or at the very least, that it inspires you to come up with your own organizational ideas. I would love to hear how you keep your lesson plans and units organized so be sure and leave me some comments!
Happy Planning All!
February 28, 2011
Milk Crate: Storage and Seating
I came across this fabulous idea that Stephanie @ Keeping up with the Joneses had posted on her site. The idea came from ProTeacher but she posted up pictures of the finished product. I thought it was an amazing organizational tip that serves two purposes. I don't have the directions on how to make these, but it seems to me that with a piece of wood (cut to size) to fit over the filing milk crates some batting, a staple gun and some cute fabric... you'd definitely have a hit in your classroom with these! Anyways, if anyone makes them, please let me know how you did it so I can add it here. Thanks and Enjoy!
February 21, 2011
These bookshelves are made out of Rain Gutters which can be purchased at most hardware stores, including Lowe's and Home Depot! I thought it was a very neat and organized way of displaying the "Books of the Week" in a classroom. It can also be used to display theme and/or unit books. I'm sure some of you may have seen this idea, but for those of you who have never seen it... I hope it inspires you to think outside the box!
Another idea, would be to use a smaller rain gutter (like the one in the first picture below, on the right-hand side) in each center to display books pertaining to that particular center. For example, in the Science Work Station center, if you are studying the life cycle of a butterfly you might place the book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle on the small rain gutter and a stuffed animal caterpillar. Or, if you have a Creation Work Station center in your classroom you might display a sample of the activity that the students are supposed to create on the rain gutter. Just an idea!
(Both images were found via Google images search: Rain Gutter Bookshelves)
Obviously, there are numerous ways in which this amazing organizational tool can be used in a classroom! Do you have any additional ideas? Please leave your comments, I'd love to hear about what you might do with rain gutters in your classrooms!