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I heart January

Well.
That's not true.
I don't love January.  Especially when I have to deal with this..



There is so much snow...EVERYWHERE.
And word on the street is...we are getting more on Monday.
So no, I don't heart January. But my Weekend Warrior gals and I have come together to give you some great ideas.



But I do love February! And Valentine's Day is my FAVORITE holiday (My husband says I say that about all the holidays).

I love the candy, treats and most of all the love!!  But, although I love Valentine's Day...I don't have a single picture of my classroom set up on V-Day.  I have no idea why...but I'll be sure to take tons of pictures this year.

My most favorite part of celebrating V-Day with the kiddos...is how excited they are to share their cards and treats with all their friends and loved ones.  Since I started teaching, I always struggled with how to help my kiddos store all their goodies.

I've used tissue boxes.
I've used cereal boxes.
I even got desperate one year and just used Ziploc bags.
I just couldn't get it together.

And finally one year it clicked...
I'm not sure if I saw the idea online or if a friend told me about it but...
I started using gift bags.


Seriously.
Best (and cheapest) idea ever.

A few days before Valentine's day I give each kiddo their own bag and tell them to decorate it anyway they want.

Before I pass out the bags, I take a huge Sharpie and write their names as large as possible on both sides of the bags...I might even write it on the sides....This way, each student can easily see the name of their friends on the bag while their passing out treats.

Next, I give them stickers and sequins and glitter and buttons and let them go crazy.
But they have one rule:

You CANNOT decorate over your name.

The kids do a great job passing out treats with these bags.  They simply slip in their treat and move on to the next bag.

Then, at the end of the day I staple the bag shut and have them place their bags in their backpacks.
Easy peasey clean and easy.
I find the Kraft bags at Michaels for 12 for $6.99.

And if you're like me you download ALL the coupons you can before you go.

Organization Blog Hop

I am so happy to be a part of such an AWESOME group of bloggers.  Today we are hoppin' along to bring you some of our best organization tips.  I blogged about my how I organize my thematic units last year...but I added something extra special to help you out in your own classroom.  Check it out!




Today, I'm here to talk all about ORGANIZATION!

That word tends to frighten people.  It gets me excited!
I am regularly complimented about my organization...but at times I feel like I'm the LEAST
organized person ever!

I think the key to organization is to stay true to what works best for you.
If it isn't something you'd do...or a place you'd put things then DON'T do it!
It just makes things worse.
Also, it's important to know how you remember things.
Do you have to make list?
Do you have a visual memory?
Do you need labels and post-its everywhere?
Add those items into how you organize and it will make things much easier.
I'm a super visual and tactile learner.
I have to touch it and see it or I forget about it.
Which is why my classroom looks like this....







Not my proudest moment.
It really does bother me that all these bins are directly above where my kids put their personal items but...
I don't have the space to place them anywhere else..
AND
If they were locked away in some closet...I'd forget about what I had.
With the bins out in the open like this I'm forced to see them everyday.
I got the idea to organize my thematic units like this from Dee Wills.
She's amazing.
Seriously.
Check her out.
This organization system is just one of her MANY fantastic ideas.

The bins are only about $5 at Target and they fit tons of stuff.
I put EVERYTHING in these bins.
They are organized by thematic units or items I use regularly and need lots of storage space.
These bins hold center activities, books, books on cd, manipulatives, crafts and much more.
Beside each bin are poems or previously created anchor charts that go along with that theme.

Each time we work on a new unit or theme, I pull down a bin...unload all the necessary goodies and get to work!

Just so you know..
I didn't start my teaching career with these bins...or anything like it!
I can distinctly remember throwing away TONS of stuff I made/created my first two or three years of teaching.
When it finally dawned on me that I probably should be saving the work I made I started placing it in pocket folders.
I had (and still have) tons of folders filled with thematic work.
Then, when the folders got a little too overloaded I moved everything into a three inch binder.
I still have binders full of work that is too big for a folder...but too small for a bin.

My big tip would be start small.
Save EVERYTHING.
But make sure you weed through it every now and then.
Make sure you label your folders/binders/bins!

I want to make sure you can get organized as soon as possible...so I'm giving you your very own copy of my organization labels.  I made them to fit the needs of my classroom...so unfortunately they are not editable or personalized...however I included two blank labels so that you can make your own.
I hope this helps!  Click here to grab your freebie!




The Tale of The Tutu Teacher

Hi y'all...

Throughout my time in a tutu I've been asked,


"So...why did you start wearing a tutu?"

Some people thought I'd been wearing one my whole teaching career.
Some thought it was something I wore to help with my TpT store.
Others just thought I was weird.

I've never felt 100% comfortable telling the whole tale, but here it is:

The Tale of The Tutu Teacher

As many of you know, I moved from Texas to Massachusetts a little over three years ago.  It was 2012 and my then boyfriend now husband, had lost his job.  As we talked and talked about our next moves...I told him to find a job that would make him happy. A job where he would finally have the chance to do what he wanted to everyday. A job where he would be happy.  Although I never imagined leaving Texas, I encouraged him to find a job anywhere. As he searched and searched for the perfect job, I started to prep my friends and family for a potential move.  It didn't take long for my husband to find a job...in Massachusetts.  He accepted the job and we drove him up to the East Coast so he could start work.
Meanwhile...I finished my school year in Texas...searched for a new job...said goodbye to my family and friends and packed up our home.  

In July of 2012, we moved from Texas to Massachusetts.

I started my new job with five years of teaching under my belt. I was a pretty confident Kindergarten teacher and was prepared to accept the challenges of teaching in a new state, new school, with new people.
I wasn't prepared.

Not only did I struggle with missing my family and friends.  I struggled with meeting people and finding friends.
Don't get me wrong, people were friendly to me (not driving in their cars though...OMG Boston drivers are crazy).  They asked me questions about Texas and sympathized with me being so far away...
But...
I wasn't trusted. Or invited into conversations. 
I was often told "This is how we do things."
I lost my voice.
I didn't feel like myself.

Now...I'm sure I could have imagine much of this or I could blame it on hyped up emotions.
Either way, I didn't feel like Vera.
I could tell I was most effected by my interactions with my students.
I didn't feel bubbly or goofy or hilarious or silly.

Until Halloween.

I wasn't sure what I was going to be. I had some butterfly wings and I watched some tutu tutorials online and thought, "I can do this."  So I was a butterfly in a tutu for Halloween.  Nothing spectacular or creative...but it helped me feel more like the me I was in Texas.

And I thought, what if I wear another tutu for Thanksgiving?

So I bought more tulle and cut and cut and cut and made another tutu for Thanksgiving. 

And I felt even more like the Vera I've always been.
And slowly, I started to ignore the "That's how we do things" comments.
And slowly, I connected more with the people I work with.
And slowly, I made more tutus.

And suddenly, I was The Tutu Teacher.

It's who I've always been. And even if I stop wearing a tutu tomorrow (I won't because tutus are awesome and I love wearing them but IF) I'd still feel this happy.  I don't need the tutu to be who I am...but I helped me to express who I always was.  

So now...when I get frustrated or stuck in the routine of school politics and drama...I find zen in my inner tutu...and keep twirling along.