Holidays around the World with #kinderfriends

I am so happy to be joining my #kinderfriends for another blog hop!  We are giving away a $25 gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.  We are giving away some fun freebies.  We are also sharing lots of great ideas for the holidays in your classroom.  Did I mention we are having a sale?  Yay!

I always want my classroom to be festive this time of year.  It is a magical time for little kiddos and at times they are bursting with excitement.  So it's helpful to keep them active and busy with FUN learning activities!

In December, I usually do a folktales and fairy tales unit that includes The Gingerbread Man and all the versions that go along with it.  Gingerbread originated in Germany so it definitely could be included in a Holidays Around the World theme.  Here are a few fun ideas to get your gingerbread on in the classroom:

Mix it and fix it sentences are a great addition to our sparkly gingerbread art.  Loving this bulletin board right now!

This pocket chart poem can be sung to Pop Goes the Weasel.  It makes a fun shared reading activity that the kiddos like to do independently after it has been taught.

These little guys above were made with oven bake clay.  It's a great fine motor activity and I just glue a magnet on the back and send them home as a holiday gift for the family.  Too cute!  Even though we don't study holiday traditions, we do some gift and card making in our classroom.  Projects with a purpose are great this time of year.

This craft is an oldie but goodie!  Who doesn't want a hand print Rudolph reindeer from their little darling?  These are easy and inexpensive, but they are treasured by parents for years to come!  Just do a brown hand print on card stock, trim and laminate, then glue on eyes and nose, put on a ribbon and done!  Another adorable holiday gift for sweet little students to give to their families.

My class really enjoyed this writing activity from my time saving Print and Go! Gingerbread pack.  Print and Go! packs can be a lifesaver this time of year.   There are fun pages in here for homework, morning work, or independent centers in the classroom when you are up to your elbows in arts and crafts projects. This product is on sale through Thursday December 15th.  Just search #kinderfriends on Teachers pay Teachers to find all my special sale items. 

Now, it's time for a little gift giving from me to YOU!  I am sooooo grateful for the TpT classroom community and awesome teachers like YOU.  So, this year I have two special holiday FREEBIES for you.  Here is freebie number one:

It's a design page for kiddos to design and create the perfect cookie.  I did this as a homework project last year.  You could do this project in the classroom too.  It would be a nice activity during the last week before your winter break.

It's included in that Print and Go! Gingerbread product above.  This is a Mrs. Byrd's Learning Tree blog freebie.  Just click this link to download that cookie design page:  My gingerbread cookie design

And here is freebie number 2:

It's from my December Pretty Papers & Prompts .  That's another time saving product with sweet engaging writing papers for excited little people in your classroom.  You will find this on sale through Thursday the 15th.  Just search #kinderfriends on TpT to find special sale items.  This freebie is a letter to Santa with an old world St. Nick.

Like my letter to Santa this year?  It's actually what I want from my husband... haha!
You can grab this printable in my TpT store right here: FREEBIE - Writing Activities ~ December Pretty Papers & Prompts

Giveaway time!!!  Best of luck!  You can enter to win a $25 TpT gift card right here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep hoping along to my friend Elaine over at Kitty Kitty Kindergarten for more Holidays Around the World fun! 

Thanks for stopping by.
Happy holidays!

Treats for teachers! Giveaway with the #kinderfriends

I am so excited to be doing a fun blog hop with the #kinderfriends this week.  We are all doing giveaways on our blogs, so you can hop along and enter to win lots of great products and prizes.  We are teachers too, and we know YOU deserve a treat!  Friday October 14th is the last day to enter.  Here are my treats for you:

a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway

I hope you have a wonderful October filled with lots of learning and love in your classroom!  Hop along to my friend Cara over at Kindergarten Boom Boom for more giveaway fun.

Thanks for stopping by.
Happy teaching!


Back in the swing of things... with #kinderfriends

I am so happy to be doing a blog hop with the #kinderfriends!  We are giving you tips for a successful school year.  We are also having a SALE!  My tips are about staying balanced, healthy, and happy.  Taking care of yourself is crucial to having a great year.  Happy, healthy, teacher = good teacher!

1.  Breathe.
     Just sit and breathe.

Taking a few minutes out of your day to just simply sit and focus on your breath can make a huge difference in your life.  It helps get rid of the mental "clutter" and can make for more  peaceful and productive time with your students.  We practice mindfulness at our school.  When I say we I mean teachers AND students.   It is a secular practice that research has shown helps reduce stress and increases mental focus.  It also helps reduce conflicts naturally because it helps students (and grown ups) regulate emotions and impulses better.  It's good for us!  (I used the Buddha photo because I have been wanting to use it for something ever since I took this in SF at the Japanese Tea Garden two years ago.)  Again, mindfulness practice at our school is NOT related to any religion.

2.  Take your supplements!

Germs abound in the early childhood classroom!  Oh my goodness, we have students that are still learning how to blow their noses.  It is just a part of the job... we are constantly bombarded with pathogens!  Our immune systems need as much support as they can get!  These are my two must have supplements.  Those vitamins are AWESOME!  They help my energy levels!  

The other supplement is an amazing Chinese herbal formula to increase chi (energy) and mental clarity.  It is made up of several adaptogenic herbs that fight fatigue, build immunity, and increase mental function.  I just love the name "Vibrant".  My husband says every teacher should take it.  He is an acupuncturist.  You can only get that Evergreen Chinese formula from licensed acupuncturists.  I take these every day I teach and I sure notice the difference if I forget.

What supplements do you take to stay healthy during the school year?

3. Prep ahead!

I like to leave on Friday with my next week completely ready to go.  This tub has two weeks worth of big envelopes that hold my prep for each day.  Each afternoon, I prep for the same day the following week.  It keeps my stress levels down and allows me time to prepare and enlist help for big prep intensive activities. 

4.  My best tip for a successful school year is...

go to Teachers Pay Teachers and grab some resources to make your life easier!  Just search the hashtag #kinderfriends for some great deals on back to school essentials.  We all have items on sale right now.  My most popular back to school resource is Print and Go! Back to School Math and Literacy.  It has loads of  pages perfect for the beginning of the year in kindergarten.  But this is what's new in my store for back to school...

Writing prompts and pages perfect for September in kindergarten or first grade.  I will be making one of these for every month of the school year.  There are loads of pages in here that you can use for writer's workshop, your writing center, assessments, and just for fun during your writing period.  My kids love to write when the pages look FUN!  You can find it right here: Writing Activities ~ Pretty Papers and Prompts SEPTEMBER  It will be 20% off through Thursday September 15th.  Make sure you search the hashtag #kinderfriends on TpT for more great deals from all the fabulous bloggers in the hop.

Keep hopping along and go see my friend Cristina over at The Primary Besties for more great tips.  You can click on the link below her logo.

Hope you are back in the swing of things and have the best year ever!
Happy teaching!

Mrs. Byrd's Classroom 2016

I did some work in my classroom this summer because, let's be honest, there is a lot of pressure out there to have an adorable, perfect, Pinterest ready classroom.  After seeing all the gorgeous classrooms on Pinterest and Instagram, I was feeling a bit embarrassed about mine.  I teach in a VERY old building.  I have been in this classroom for over 12 years.  I am STILL throwing out things left from previous teachers.  So, before I tell you about my favorite spaces in my room, lets get a little perspective...

This is what my classroom looked like the day I walked in to get it ready for school.  The "deep cleaning" had been done.  Which really means that the carpets and rugs were shampooed, the tops of the shelves, and the windows were cleaned.  That's it.  There were still cobwebs.  There was still dust in all the shelves, and the old tattered boxes for storage were looking a bit sad.

It's funny because the one compliment I get from parents more than any other is that I am very organized.  But, I don't think you would have known it by looking at my classroom.  It didn't scream organized.  It screamed old and tattered, but she can find everything quickly.  It needed some love and attention. I had a teacher desk that collected piles. Something had to be done...

So, I did a "deep cleaning" of my own.  I was really hoping I could reduce the paper storage in my room to the point where I could get rid of the huge metal filing cabinet.  It takes up so much space and there really isn't a natural spot for it in the room.  I filled three huge recycle cans with old worksheets, thematic printables, outdated workbooks, and other stuff that just didn't need to be there.  I ended up keeping the file cabinet.  But I emptied two others that I was able to use in my...

Maker Space!!!  I am really excited about this new addition to my classroom.  It is in the space where my old teacher desk used to be.  I think it was a good trade.  My sweet hubby installed the shelf that all the bins are sitting on.  The drawers in the old file cabinets are for cardboard, plastic, paper, and odds & ends.  The space isn't finished in this photo.  I still need two small containers for trash and recycle below the maker space sign.  I also need to finish filling the bins.  I have tape, yarn, straws, craft sticks, and paper shapes in there.  I will be adding more and just need an afternoon where I can go though all my craft supplies to find goodies for STEAM.  This space is meant to be an open ended creative building space using easy to acquire recyclables and craft materials.  I am hoping to fund this with the donations I get from parents for classroom supplies along with donations of "stuff".  I will keep you posted on how this is going.  It will be an adventure and I KNOW management will be the key to its success.

You can see the big file cabinet in the corner of this photo.  It is tucked away behind my calendar divider in the classroom.  I made these cute shape posters because I like to have these up all year as a reference.  I wanted them to go with any color scheme in the future, so they are really simple.  If you want them for you classroom, you can grab them right here: Shape Posters 

This is the new big book cart my sweet husband made for me.  It has wheels on the bottom, but two of them lock so it's safe for kiddos.  This is tucked between the big file cabinet and shelving that holds guided reading books right below the shapes bulletin board.  It is part of the "reading space" in my classroom.  Kids are allowed to read big books every day as a choice in my room.   More on the reading space later...

These colors posters are an essential reference in the classroom.  I wanted these to be simple as well.  I want them to work in any classroom with any decor or theme.  You can find them right here: Color Posters.  I actually improved them for my TpT store, so those are even better.

The color bulletin board is on the other side of my classroom across from the shapes bulletin board.  This is part of a counter where my printer and colored copy paper live.  The white drawers next to it hold craft supplies.  My laptop sits on top of there most days charging when I am not using it.  So far, the classroom space is working just fine without a teacher desk.  I have gone back and forth on having a desk and not having one.  I am glad to be back to NOT having a teacher desk.  My classroom is small, so I really want every inch devoted to kid space.  When I need to work or plan in the classroom, I just spread out on the big back table right next to this area.  It works well and then I don't have a flat surface (my old desk) collecting piles.  It forces me to keep only the essential documents and get rid of the other paper that comes in the classroom. 

OK, so I LOVE my new orange clock.  It replaced the old original clock that was wired into some whole school clock system that had NEVER worked.  I had covered it with this old funky papier mache rainbow smiley face that I made in an art for teachers class when I was getting my credential.  It was old and dusty and  it just had to go.  This is such a major improvement!  This was another little project handled by my sweet husband.  He even picked out the clock.  Makes me happy to look at it.

Since I was going through everything, it was time to get my organization looking more uniform.  I really needed to use available resources, because I didn't want to spend too much money.  These were containers I already had just sitting around.  The tops on them were trashed, but the tubs were still good.  They are my new reading book containers.  I made labels for EVERYTHING like this so it all looks uniform.  I don't have matching containers in a color scheme all over my classroom.  I just try to make choices that are neutral so it all "goes".

This was another DIY project by Duane.  It has been in need of love for a long time.  It is the back of two shelving units that hold toys and wooden blocks.  Now it is a cute chalkboard surface and creates a sweet entry space in the classroom.  Those little banners have kiddos' names on them.

This is my favorite place in the room.  I expanded my library and reading space by removing some furniture and enough "stuff" to not need it.  I also got rid of books.  I know that sounds awful.  But I needed the space!  I am lucky to have so many books in my room that I get to insist on having ONLY  quality literature in the classroom.  I said goodbye to Clifford, Franklin, Disney and other cartoon related books.  Books that were falling apart had to go.  One of my criteria for keeping books was if it had won an award like the Caldecott Medal.  Those made the cut.  It took me half a day to go through all the books.  I did it quickly and was ruthless.  I still have tons of books!  These don't include the shelves of all my thematic books that I store separately out of reach from little hands.  We are truly blessed.  Books are EVERYWHERE!!!

Since that is the case, we needed a more comfortable place for reading.  This is a choice after academics every day in my classroom.  How cute are those marquee letters?  I just had to get some after seeing them in other teachers' rooms on Instagram.  The white dish washing tubs work great for book storage.  This space is being used just as I hoped it would.  I saw three sweeties on the cushions with a big book across their laps.  Adorable!  I am so glad my sweet students have a comfy, cozy space to enjoy books.  The kiddos love it when the lights are on too!  Yay!

This is what it looked like the day before school started.  I know it's not really Pinterest worthy, but it is a significant improvement.  It's the best I can do right now with the resources I have available.  I wish so much that I could get new tables and chairs... not happening.  I wish I could replace every storage container in my room so they are all color coordinated.  I just didn't have the time or money to take it that far.  The classroom is more open than it used to be, it has spaces that are functional and "kid centered", and it is tidy and organized to start the year.  Now we just have to keep it that way.

 So, that's it... just a few highlights from my classroom this year.  We are off to a good start.  Hope you are already having or about to begin your #bestyearever in your #bestclassroomever!
Happy teaching!

It's the Best Year Ever... SALE!

Hey there,
Just want you to know that Teachers Pay Teachers is having a HUGE site wide sale.  You can get up to 28% off using the promo code: BestYear.  Everything in my store will be 20%off.  Then you just use the promo code during checkout to get the extra 10% off.  It's two days only, August 1st-2nd.  Make sure you grab a few things at these great prices.

It is always so fun getting some new resources at the beginning of the year.  I have already been shopping and putting things on my wish list.  You can find some of my favorite products from my store and other TpT stores on my new Pinterest board: Best Teaching Resources Ever (#BestResourceEver)  Hope you have lots of fun shopping. 
If you are on Instagram, check out the hashtag: #BestClassroomEver .  There are lots of teachers showing favorite parts of their classrooms.  It is a great way to get some inspiration for your classroom this year.  You can find me on Instagram here: @mrsbyrdslearningtree

I am so excited to have the Best Year Ever!
I hope you are too.
Happy teaching!