Ocean Sub Plans: A Home for Hermit Crab & More!



See if this sounds familiar . . . don't do as I do, do as I say. You probably heard your parent say that a time or two when you were growing up. When I worked with student teachers or new teachers, I often told them not to do what I did when I was a new teacher. There were so many things that I did the hard way the first few years of my career.  I wasn't necessarily doing them wrong, but there are easier, quicker ways of doing things in our profession that seasoned teachers don't always remember to tell the inexperienced ones.

Planning for a sub was one of these "hard way, easy way" lessons that I eventually learned.  But, I really wished someone would have given me directions to the easy way much earlier in my career!

Plan Idea #1: In the beginning, when I needed a sub, I wrote out step by step directions of what the sub needed to do during the day that I was absent.  Yes, this works but it is not an efficient use of my time.  

Plan Idea #2:  I typed up a generic sub plan and then added the assignments.  This worked most of the time.  But, what happens if you or your child gets sick in the middle of the night and you can't come in and write the assignments and prepare the lessons?

Plan Idea #3:  Emergency sub plans - One day of lesson plans that are generic so they can be used at any time of the year.  One of the schools that I worked at, required us to organize these in a folder and give them to the secretary.  This is a smart idea if your secretary has the room to store them.  

Through trial and error, feedback from subs and co-workers I finally found a system that worked for me.


I organize a Sub Resource Binder (original)  and Ocean-themed Sub Resource Binder.  This is the "how to" for the sub.  It explains all of the procedures for how I run my class.  It saves so much time and the subs love it! Have you ever been pulled from class at the last minute for meeting?  Maybe the meeting is only for an hour or so, but when it catches you by surprise, it is hard to think of all the details you need to put in plans for the sub who will be covering your class.  When this happens you pull out your handy dandy sub resource binder and give him/her the materials that are needed to teach the lessons.  Quick, easy and painless for you and easy for the sub! 

I organize my weekly lesson plans in a tub like this:

Click HERE to read more about it.

I have the following folders in the tub:  Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Centers. I put all of the papers, read aloud books, and other materials that I need for my lessons that I need for the day in the order that I will teach them in folders.  I show the special ed. teachers that I work with and a buddy teacher where I keep my stuff.  If there is ever a time when I am too sick to come in an organize my sub plans, I call one of these teachers who can pull out the day's folder and my Sub Resource Binder.  I know that my sub has all that he or she needs to have a successful day.



The procedure pages come in PDF format and EDITABLE in Powerpoint.


I think every teacher needs a set of emergency plans because you never know when something might happen.  My first 18 years of teaching, I made emergency sub plans and didn't need to use them.  It would have been easy to think that this was a waste of time to make them at the beginning of the year when I had so many other things to do.  But, then during my 19th year, my daughter got sick - really sick - in the middle of the night, my husband was out of town, and there wasn't any way that I could leave my daughter to go plan for a sub.  Luckily I had emergency sub plans.  


I think you have to look at emergency sub plans like an insurance policy.  You've bought car insurance for years yet you've hopefully not been in a car accident.  But, if you ever are in a car accident, you will be thankful that you not only have an insurance policy, but that you took the time to shop around to get the best policy possible.  Sub plans work the same way.  Take the time before school begins to make quality emergency sub plans.

I have two different substitute resource binder kits.  My original one is below.  
Click HERE to check this out.

I just finished an ocean themed packet.


Click HERE to check this out.

This kit has activities that are ocean themed including activities for A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle and Fancy Nancy Sand Castles and Sand Palaces.  Be sure to download the preview file so you can see what is included.

I have a little FREEBIE for you to thank you for stopping by today.


Click HERE to download the Hermit Crab freebie.






Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE

Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

FREE Morning Messages - Memorial Day


Memorial Day will soon be here!  Do you have any special lessons planned?  I just added a FREE Memorial Day packet.


I also have another freebie that you may want to check out.  Five writing prompts that can be used for any patriotic holiday.




Check out my A+ May Pinterest Board which has more fun ideas.

  
Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Hop over to her blog!


Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

What do you have planned for Memorial Day?

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.



Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.

Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

End of Year Ideas and FREEBIE


The end of the school year can be a crazy time.  With a little preplanning, it can actually be fun and only a little crazy.  

I am a BIG believer in a picture is worth a thousand words.  I love to take pictures of my students in action and put them on our class website.  I found that when I did this consistently, my parents consistently read the postings on my website.  I cannot stress the consistency part enough.  If you want your parents to look at your website, you have to be consistent with your posting. Pictures of their children are the perfect incentive for them to check your site. I usually uploaded pictures at the end of the week showing what we had done.  Sometimes my posts were just a sentence or two about what was happening in the picture.

Posting pictures is a great way to communicate with parents. If you haven't done this yet, I would encourage you to try it.  You will be pleasantly surprised at how pictures build positive relationships with your parents.  I tell my parents at Back to School night that one of their children's weekly homework assignments is to do "show 'n tell"  using our pictures.  Parents feel like they have a better understanding of what is going on in the classroom when they see all of the Kodak moments.

These pictures are also useful for the end of the year slideshow. I had a huge collection showing all of the fun stuff we had done that year.  Each week I chose a few of the best ones to add to my EOY file. Then in May, it was a simple thing to add these pictures to a slideshow. A few minutes each week adding these to my EOY file, made my end of the year much less hectic.  You can add music to the slideshow.  Some years I have added theme songs from movies.  Other years I have used songs that had special memories for my class.  One year I began the song with the instrumental version of the Van Halen song "Right Now".

Click on the picture to listen to this.

I invited the parents to join us for our "Hollywood Premiere" starring their children.  We ate popcorn, watched the show, and laughed at all of the happy memories.

Are you planning a Hollywood theme next year?  I have a Star Student packet that is editable and integrated with social studies, language arts, and other subjects that works perfectly with this.  One of the activities for the star student is to decorate a star for the class Hollywood Walk of Fame.  You could make a Walk of Fame if you want to do a Hollywood themed end of the year party.  Here is a free sample from my star student packet.

Click HERE to download this freebie.


I have some more end of the year ideas on my A+ May Pinterest Board .

  
Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Hop over to her blog!


Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  


How do you celebrate the end of the year?

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.





Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.
Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

FREE Fluency Center


Does your school use the Dibel's test?  After giving the Dibels, I found that I needed to strengthen my students' fluency skills. My schedule already seemed completely full. Where would I find more time to give my students practice reading so they could become more fluent readers?

One thing I found that helped with their fluency skills was making fluency centers one of my standard centers.  I knew I wanted this center to have the same format each week so I wouldn't have to explain the direction. This saves me valuable class time.  Plus, the center had to work with students on a wide variety of reading levels.

The answer was my Sentence Shuffle Centers which I have for reading levels K-5.  To honor our mothers, from now until May 9th, my Mother's Day Sentence Shuffle Center is FREE.  

Click on the picture above if you'd like to see more Sentence Shuffle Centers organized by reading levels.

Would you like to read more of my posts about fluency?
Post #1: Fluency centers are great for teachers with small classrooms.
Post #2:  Fluency with r-controlled theme.

Check out my A+ May Pinterest Board which has more fun ideas.

  
Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Hop over to her blog!


Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

How do you incorporate fluency lessons during your day?

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.





Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Morning Messages - Differentiated

Ready to change how you do morning messages? Looking for some new ideas?  I have written several posts about my system that is a spiral review of important reading skills.  It is also differentiated which works great when your class includes a wide variety of levels.

Post #1:  My morning routine which includes management tips.

Post #2:  Hectic schedule this year?  Set up morning messages as a writing center.  This post includes tips.

Post #3:  Improve your students' handwriting with morning messages.


Each of the thematic packets include ten morning messages.


Themed packets:

Each of the grade level packets include ten morning messages.

By request, I bundled my September - May grade level packets (links above) into a yearly bundle.

By request, I bundled two grade levels together.  There are 10 messages of each grade level in these packets (20 messages per packet).

Kindergarten - 1st grade
1st and 2nd grade
2nd and 3rd grade

By request, I am adding more grade level packets for teachers who do morning message daily.  You can follow my store or Facebook page if you want to be notified when I add more of these packets. I am selling Volume 2 (10 messages) separately and as a combo with Volume 1 (10 messages) so teachers have the option of having 20 messages.  Below are the ones I've finished so far.

Kindergarten

1st Grade

2nd Grade

3rd Grade

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Cinco de Mayo Resources and More!


May 5th will soon be here!  Do you have any special Cinco de Mayo lessons or activities planned?  I found a few resources that you can include and best of all they are FREE!



The History Channel has videos, articles with helpful information, and more.



FREE Morning Messages with a Cinco de Mayo theme.


  • Literacy printables
  • Salsa recipe
Click HERE to read more and get your copy of the freebie.

Check out my A+ May Pinterest Board which has more fun ideas.

  
Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Hop over to her blog!


Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

How do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.


Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.
Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Time Savers and Life Savers for Teachers


Time is something a teacher never has enough of, right?I have found a few things through the years that have saved me time and saved my sanity.

My morning message system was something I developed when I found out I was pregnant and preparing for a long term leave.  I knew how time consuming it was to write a morning message each day.  I knew my sub would be busy learning my procedures, talking to parents, and getting to know my students. I wanted to lessen this burden for her.

The nice thing about the system that I developed was not only did it save my long term sub time, I continued using the system after I returned because I loved having extra time, too.  Who doesn't need more time?!!!

Morning messages are a great way to enforce important reading skills. Students are successful and retain the skills because the skills are taught in a spiral throughout the year. I saw an improvement with my students' reading skills when my messages became more structured and I differentiated them.  

The skills are taught in a spiral.  While a skill might be a challenge during a lesson one day for Student A, this same skill was easier later when Student A saw it again.  I began to hear, "this is easy-peasy", after implementing this more structured approach.  It was a confidence builder.

I used this system when I taught kindergarten, 1st grade, and 3rd grade.  Differentiating with the cards below helps when you have a class with a wide range of skills.


This were some added bonuses to this that I hadn't planned on.  Parents liked the challenge their children received using this differentiated system.  This is one of things I shared at Back to School Night when asked how I was going challenge my students.  

The other bonus was the way in which this system built positive relationships with my parents.  Read my post about my morning routine so you can see how it happened. Parents loved seeing their child's messages and loved seeing their child's reading growth. The message worked as reading homework which improved their fluency which helped with Dibel's scores.  It almost seems like an version of If you Give a Mouse a Cookie, doesn't it?



This system can also be set up as a writing center.  Great for teachers who don't have time in their schedule for morning message each day.

Click HERE to read tips about setting up morning messages as a writing center.


This post has some FREE samples of my morning messages packets.  Try them out and let me know what you think!


Writing sub plans is one of my least favorite jobs.  It seems like it happens at the worst possible times, too!  I'm either sick, my child is sick, or I'm having one of those, "Oh-my-gosh, I-have-a-staffing-this-MORNING" day.  Do you ever forget those meetings that pull you out of class?  

If any of these scenarios sound familiar, then it is time to organize a Substitute Resource Binder.  When you pull out your binder, the heavy lifting for sub planning is already done.  You will thank your lucky stars that you spent the time making a resource binder the next time you have an OMG day.


Have you ever worked as a sub?  If so, you know the importance of learning students names quickly.  It is hard to have control of a class without knowing the students' names.  At the beginning of the year, I type my students names on an Avery template for address label #5160.  There are 30 labels per sheet. I print several copies and keep them in my sub binder.  My sub can use these for name tags when I am absent.  I always get nice notes from subs who appreciate having the name tags.


Read what other teachers who have used it have said about the resource binder.  Best of all it is EDITABLE in Powerpoint so you can personalize it to fit your needs.

How do you save time?


Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE. Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

Lesson Planning Tip: Save Time


It seems like teachers get less and less time to prepare for lessons today, yet we still have the same demands as before - if not more!  What is a teacher to do?


I personally subscribe to the work smarter not harder philosophy of life.  When I began to notice that more and more of my prep periods were being used for this meeting or that meeting, I knew that I needed help.

One of the biggest time savers to preparing for my lessons was the actual prep work involved with the lessons.  You know all of those hours you spend at the copier, cutting construction paper for centers, and other labor intensive work you do each week.  I thought that with a little structure and preparing on the front end, I could save myself time throughout the year.

I organize my lessons in a tub like the white one in the picture above.  I usually put a post it note on the front that tells the week of the month and overview of the topics.  I have a basic outline of my plans using these tubs with file folders for a month at a time.  I don't necessarily have everything written down and committed on paper until the week or so before I actually teach the lessons.  I usually know the overall topic/theme I plan to teach so if I find some interesting when I'm surfing the net or I find an interesting new book at the library, I add it to the correct tub.  This gives me a wealth of resources to use when it is time to actually begin writing my plans.

The first time I used this system was when I preparing sub plans for my maternity leave.  I was pleasantly surprised at how much time I saved when I compared a month's worth of planning this way vs. doing the weekly method. When I pulled folders and looked for resources each week, it was very, very, very time consuming.  Did I say it was time consuming?  Yes, extremely time consuming!  The added bonus is when life throws you a curve - which I found out happens after you have a baby, you already have a pretty good outline of what you plan to do for next week.  You save time and STRESS!  Plus, because you have the post it notes giving the highlights of what you plan to teach, you have a mental picture of what is coming up.  I found the quality of my lessons were better because when I was shopping or at the library or on the internet, I would spot something that would fit in with a future week's plans.

The next important step of this plan was recruiting volunteers to help with the prep work.  Some years I had one parent that came in each week, other years I had two moms that traded off weeks. 

I recommend making Thursday as a your designated volunteer prep day because school is not always in session on Fridays or Mondays. Usually by Thursdays, I know for sure what my plans were for the following week.  

My volunteer would come in on Thursdays and take that week's white tub and open each day-of-the-week file to see if there was something that needed to be copied or prepared (construction paper cut, mini books made, etc.).  


I also kept a small basket of supplies for the volunteer next to the white tubs.  Although our work room had most of the supplies that the volunteer would need, occasionally scissors would magically walk off and other supplies ran out.  I found there were fewer interruptions to my lessons if there was a tub of supplies ready to go. Plus, this made the volunteer's time efficient.

Do you have any tips to share?  I would love to hear them.

Don't forget!  April 20th is Public School Volunteer Week. Be sure and check out my Volunteer Pinterest board for more tips plus there are some freebies you can use to thank your volunteers.  Click on the picture below.



Fern has a few tips to share with you, too.  Hop over to her blog!


Each week, Fern and I will share a teacher tip. We love to read teacher blogs and the latest teacher idea books and hope you do, too!  Stop by Fern's blog and my blog each week for our latest tips.  We hope you will share your ideas, too.  

Looking for more ideas?  Click on the pictures below.





Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.
Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.

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