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School's Out for Summer Part 3: Celebrate Learning!

I have one more day left with my kiddos this school year! Man, it has been a fantastic year. Full of lots of energy, growth, firsts, and amazing activities!

I wanted to finish up my School's Out series with ways that we celebrate and remember our learning form the year!

Does your school do Awards Programs? We do! Each grade level invites parents and we present awards such as A Honor Roll, A/B Honor Roll, Perfect Attendance, Most Courteous Boy/Girl, Writing Award, Reading Award, and so on.

It's a really nice program, every student gets recognized, and the parents get to see the kiddos walk across that stage proudly!

Back in the classroom, we do our own little awards ceremony for Accelerated Reader and brag tags.

I look at alllllllllllllllllll the data that AR has compiled throughout the year and assign kids awards such as Most Quizzes Passed, Highest Passing Rate, Most Certifications Achieved, and things like that. 
I also make certificates for the most brag tags or the most books read according to our reading logs. The kids eat it up. Any time they get to brag about their accomplishments is a time they adore. 

Grab a set of these blank, editable AR certificate frames {HERE}.

I like to send my students off to summer with a a few fun gifts. 

I don't know about you, but I take an absurd amount of photographs throughout the year. Like, thousands. For a while, I just kept them in a file folder on my computer. Forever and ever. Now (for the past 6 years), I put them into slideshows burned onto DVDs for the kids to take home! Then I delete the pics from my computer and start the process all over again. :)

And I'm sorry, I know there are so many Mac lovers out there, but I am truly a PC girl (though Windows is starting to change that......) and I can't give up my PC and move onto Mac just yet. Unless Mac users can fix my problem as outlined below. Let me know!

Well, SOMEBODY at Windows 8 and 10 decided "Hey, let's build laptops with DVD burners, but not create any compatible software to help users create DVDs. They can just upload it to the Internet. They'll love it!"

Uh, NO. That's not a very smart idea. What's the point of my laptop having a DVD burner if I can't burn DVDs with any software??? I am a teacher and literally only use the burner once a year and refuse to purchase third party software. I promise I am looking into this issue and WILL find a way to utilize my burner. If anyone cares. 

But I digress....

Thankfully, my school district has yet to update my school laptop from Windows 7 so YAY!!  

I use Windows Essential Movie Maker (which is downloadable to any Windows running PC HERE)

It's super easy to work. Just upload your pictures. Add music. Use an AutoMovie Theme for auto transitions and cool effects. 

 It really is super easy to navigate. I then take the Mp4 to Windows DVD Maker and burn it. 
Again, that program is super easy to use, but you have to have it. There are a few free alternatives but I have not checked them out yet so I'm not going to recommend them yet. 

I used Avery Design and Print online and a premade template they had. I typed First Grade and 2015-2016 on the label, printed, and stuck to the DVD. 

I also uploaded the video to YouTube as UNLISTED. This means, only those with the link have access to it. I made the link into a QR code and taped it to the back of the DVD case. 

One of my favorite things to do is make these AMAZING Memory Books from A Year of Many Firsts.

One of my sweet little kiddos had some nice things to say!

I like to bind them using my Proclick binding machine. I make copies, front and back, punch the holes, and bind! I put a bright Astrobrights color as the back cover for that added POP!

Another thing I like to do is send home some fun stuff to do over the summer! Many times my parents will ask for extra work to keep up what they have learned throughout the year. No summer slide here!

This pack has math and phonics and reading! It's got everything and it's adorable!

Finally, I send home my summer fun finder flip book, done in purple and gold obviously! 

Well that's it! I thank you for reading along with me and I hope I gave you some great ideas! Have a happy summer!

School's Out for Summer Part 2: It All Must Go?

Welcome to part 2 of my School's Out for Summer series, It All Must Go?

Do you have to pack up everything and take down everything just to unpack and rehang everything come August?

Yeah, me too.
(If not then I applaud you and I'm jealous of you!)

So after ten years of doing this year after year, I have developed some fast tips for myself that I would love to share with you!

First, packing up the kiddos. You've shared your classroom and your supplies and your ideas with your students for 10 months. This has resulted in a lot of stuff. There's writing portfolios and projects, craftivities, drawings, other artwork, etc. They've also collected things in their little desks or seat sacks or book boxes. Not everything will fit in their book sacks nor should it because they're 6 and they only have 6 year old backs and muscles. So we start to gather their things together in one spot.

I went to our local Trader Joe's and asked ever so nicely if they would consider donating 24 brown paper bags for my students and they DID!! I absolutely adore TJ's and they have the best staff around.
About a week before school lets out, I write student's names on the bags and then set them up against the wall. We start putting things in the bags like their writing portfolios, center folders, math folders, take home papers folders, etc. We also put any other art projects or writing samples or other things that need to go home in the bags. 

On the day of the awards ceremony, we send the bags home with the families. All that's left in the room are pencil bags because we still have some fun stuff left to do :)

Oh, the packing. Well, this is the fun part. NOT. We have to take everything off furniture like the shelves or the desks. The cleaning company removes everything from the classrooms to wax and buff the floors and if stuff isn't tied down, wrapped up, covered, etc. it will get lost. We are allowed to leave things up on the walls as long as there is no chance of it falling down.

My absolute favorite tip to give, is to keep things you know you will need the second you walk into your classroom post summer in a box. Labeled, ready for me to open up and get started. 

The things I put in this box: 
- scissors
- scotch tape
- mauvalus/duct/masking tape
- stapler/staples
- sticky notes
- sharpies
- pencils
- wipes for cleaning the dust that has collected over 8 weeks
- any trinkets that I don't want lost or broken (I have some Star War's Bobble Heads that are the bee's knees so not wanting to lose those!)
- Back to School To Do Lists (more on that below)
- any important cords for setting up laptop or sound system (for music to play while unpacking, of course!)

When I come back to my classroom, I grab this box first and open it up. Everything is there for me to get started with organizing for the new school year. 

Did you get moved to a new room or grade level or school???? How, like, where do you even begin?!?!

I am moving from first grade to Video Production! Yeah, huge jump and I'm pretty sure I've lost my mind but just in case I haven't I'm staying sane by packing smartly. 

Luckily, my new classroom is literally 10 feet across the hall from my old classroom :)
Unluckily, the rest of my first grade team is moving to a completely new building next school year. 
So the stuff must go. We started by packing parts of the room in boxes.

The math center was packed in boxes labeled MATH CENTER. 
Science/Social Studies center was packed and labeled SCIENCE/SS CENTER.
And so on and so forth. 

Yes, this took a lot more boxes and many more trips back and forth to the new classroom, but it so helps out in August when all you have to do is unpack that one box in that one place in the new classroom. No need to tote things around the room while unpacking only one box. 

When I moved from Alexandria down to Baton Rouge 3 years ago, I did NOT do this. And oh em geeeee was everything in chaos!!! It took me FOREVER to unpack and the boxes were heavy and things were lost. So I vowed to always pack like things together. Every May this is what I do and it has saved time and sanity. 

Packing up to move grade levels is definitely something for which I was not prepared! Apparently, 6th grade Video Production students don't really read a lot of Biscuit or Dr. Seuss or Pete the Cat books. 

I mean, really? So my library of carefully and painstakingly accumulated books has to be packed away foreeeevvvvveeeeerrrrr. Or until I go back to the classroom. 
What do you mean 6th graders don't read Gregory the Terrible Eater?!?!?

These books are coming with me because they are Star Wars and everybody loves Star Wars. Duh. 

It didn't all fit!!!!! This box was half full of books and half full of stuffed animal reading buddies so it wouldn't be heavy when carried. 

This was the last box and I was gonna make it all fit, with or without closing!!!!!!!!!

My car looks like this right now. 
This load is heading to my parents' attic. More went there this past Monday with my sister. I can't bear to give it away yet and I can't store it at my house. 

The book boxes are moving with me and I'll find something to put in them. 
This is my little corner of stuff in my new computer lab. I am keeping some reference books and Louisiana Books and Science Books for when we create video book reports or need to research, etc. 

These are the best boxes (from Big Lots) and I've yet to figure out what I 'm doing with them in Video Production. Suggestions?

Finally, I have my end of they year to do list! 

The end of the year comes with an unbelievable amount of things to do. My principal is so awesome that she gives us a list of these things in a nice little end of the year folder. 

However, ALL the info is in that folder. Things I need to do get lost in all the words and dates. So I highlight what is important to me and then sort it out. 

I use this handy little list to write down everything I need to know and do. 
Grab a copy that you can personalize for yourself {HERE}!

I put a few blank copies in my Start of Year box so I can organize my life then, too. 

I hope I have given you some tips for the end of the year to make life a little easier. Let me know what you think! 

Tune in tomorrow for Part 3: Celebrate Learning!

School's Out for Summer! Part 1: Last Days of Learning


Hi guys! This series has been a long time coming! I am so excited to finally begin! I don't know about you, but my school year is rapidly winding down. It is coming quickly to a close and there is still so much to do. I wanted to share my process for closing out the year with you as well as some ideas for the last day!

First up,

It's May/June. The kids are done. You're done. The school year is almost done. You are just trying to get everybody to dismissal and stay sane! Not to mention all the other stuff you have to do that comes from admin like data. So what do you do to maintain control while you finish up the paperwork?

I have spent oodles of time throughout the beginning of the year to get the kiddos trained in navigating the classroom centers independently. So by now they have it down pat and could probably do it in their sleep. So I put out reading and math centers from all year that the students can choose to do.

Some of their favorites have been time and money centers! They love to play with the money and "buy" things from each other and the plastic clocks to quiz friends on time.

These summer/June themed Time and Money math centers are available in my store HERE.

I also pull out all those worksheets and activity pages that I copied but never got to throughout the year.

All the copies! Sometimes I over copy but it's always good to have more than enough than not enough, right? 

I'll set this out in stacks and the kids can pick which ones they want to do. I've got grammar sheets, mystery pictures, word searches, cut and paste activities, etc. I notice some of my students playing "teacher" with their friends while they pass out and complete the worksheets.

While all this is going on, I'm finishing up with the DRA, end of year testing, diagnostic testing, filing IEPs, SBLCs, etc. There is so much to do it seems! But it must be done and somehow finished before the last day of school!

It's also time to get together end of the year gifts for your students. I've seen lots of fancy end of year gifts for students on Pinterest and they are TOTES ADORBS but I prefer to keep it simple. Especially at the end of the school year because it is inanely busy. So I made these cute little tags and found some sunglasses at the Dollar Tree. I cut them out with crafting scissors (because like I can even attempt to cut a round circle out on the lines at this time of the year!)

The crafting scissors make it look like I cut it that way on purpose.

And I did.


Click the pic to download the tags for yourself!

I also made this simple to put together flipbook for the summer! 
It's mostly editable. There are ideas for family fun, summer websites to keep learning fresh, road trip and summer bingo, and summer brag tags!

Find it for FREE in my TpT store {HERE}!

We try to keep the kids working until the last possible moment! The last three days for us are always early dismissal days so we have the students all morning. We do some fun stuff! Here's what's up for the next few days:
- Paper Airplane Race (teach kids how to make airplanes, or use Google to research!)
- Lego Tower (nothing motivates like trying to out-build each other's towers!)
- Quiz Bowl (make up review questions for the year, or just some fun facts!)
- Design Contest (give students a topic and have them make a design)
- Mystery Pictures (I LOVE First Grade Wow's extensive collection)
- Summer Bucket List (List things they want to do this summer)
- Letter writing to future first graders (Be experts and tell the incoming class what they need to know!)
- Letter to future teacher (tell your new teacher what they should know about you!)

I've also got some low prep summer activity sheets that I pass out for students to complete while we movie watch, because we WILL watch movies!! It's inevitable! How can we make it through the year without watching the Lego Movie? I mean, really!!

You can do all of these activities quickly and easily with little to no prep on your part. Just grab some paper, crayons, and your little friends and you're good to go. 

But just in case you want it already done for you, I've created an end of the year little prep time packet. Here are some pics of what's included: 

Paper Airplane Race Champ Certificates
Hats off to Glitter Meets Glue Designs for the AWESOME Glitter Paper Airplanes!

Race Comparing Sheets
Letters to Future ___ Grader (K-5)
Summer Bucket List
Quiz Bowl!
Brag Tags!

You can grab my Last Day Hooray pack for half off right now in my store!

Well that's it for today! Check back tomorrow for Part 2: It All Must Go? Packing up the Classroom.

Photo creds to Jewel Pastor.