Three for Thursday

Thursday, 30 April 2020 No comments
Here I am with my Kinder-besties, Mrs. McGinnis and Mrs. Fletcher!

It’s hard to believe it’s already Thursday!  This week has flown by!  Like all teachers, I have some favorite online resources that I use often and wanted to share with you.  They’re my go to—sometimes for my job and sometimes just for fun!  So here are three of my favorite things:

1)   My favorite online resource is Teachers Pay Teachers!  Y’all are amazing and the resources you put out are often a lifesaver to us all!  I love that when I have an idea, I can go there and search for it.  Sometimes what I need isn’t there, but I can usually find something that will spark my creativity if I need to create my own resource.  Sometimes I find exactly what I need and just click that purchase button and I’m ready to roll!

2)   My favorite app that I often use for flyers and announcements is PicCollage.  I’m sure there are TONS of awesome apps out there, but this one is my favorite and I couldn’t survive without it.  I use it for social media posts/reminders, flyers for school events (online and printables to pass out), and sometimes just to make a pretty graphic to catch someone’s attention online.  I can do it all on my phone, so it's always there within my reach.  This app is totally free (although you can upgrade) and can be used for so many things!  Here is an example of something I threw together recently to post on our social media pages for our students.

3)   The last of my favorites is going to be my favorite blog and vlog.  So, it’s actually 2 favorites……yes, I broke the rule and am actually giving you 4 favorites today.  You’ll soon realize that I am sometimes a rule breaker and that’s just how I roll. Haha 

Anyway, my favorite teacher blog is The Kindergarten Smorgasboard.  I have followed his blog for a couple of years and Mr. Greg has so many great ideas!  He has tons of awesome lessons, videos, resources, and just so much stuff.  If you have never checked them out, now is the time!  They often host online webinars as well, so it’s a great PD opportunity!

My favorite vlog actually belongs to a good friend of mine and is called Cori In Charge.  I have known Cori pretty much her whole life (I'm older than her) and she was actually a student teacher in my classroom a few years ago.  She is a preschool teacher and has such a fun personality--always having a good time wherever she goes!  She has lots of great videos about everyday life, so if you haven’t checked her out, visit her YouTube channel and subscribe!

Those are just a few of my favorites for you!  I would love to hear about some of your favorites, so feel free to share in the comments!  When you know about something awesome, the best thing you can do is share it with others!

Where It All Goes Down Wednesday

Wednesday, 29 April 2020 No comments

Teachers LOVE to see each other teacher’s classroom pictures!  I especially love that time of year right before school starts when everyone is creating new things and making their classroom better than the year before.  It’s always neat to see how people implement thing differently, yet it still works for them!  So, I figured today would be a great day to show you some things from my classroom! 

My classroom is mostly left behind remnants of the March Madness that kindergarten can bring.  It looks exactly how I left it on that Friday the 13th before we started online learning due to the Coronavirus Pandemic.  It’s not perfect or Pinterest-worthy, but it’s been an engaging learning environment for my Kinders this past school year.  Our classroom definitely has that “lived in” look, and I’m okay with that.  So, even though it’s not in perfect condition, I headed on up to take some pictures of some of the things I really liked about my classroom this year to share with you.

1)    Trade Books Unit Dividers
Every two weeks, I begin a new thematic unit.  I found some awesome dividers from Oriental Trading so that I could organize my books by units to find them quickly.  The kids know they are not allowed to get books from this bookshelf, so that helps with the organization.

2)    Reading Center
This is the reading center that the students are allowed to use.  The rug you see here is definitely getting tossed this summer because it has had a rough year! Lol I do realize the absolute mess on the bottom half of the shelf is probably freaking some of you out, but that’s some real life for you right there!  A few times a week I have one of the kids straighten up their reading center bookshelf, but obviously it didn’t happen on that last day.  The scoop chairs came from Walmart (I need to remove those stickers).

3)    Writing Center
This is my new favorite thing in my classroom this year!  It has really encouraged my students to write in so many different ways.  There is an awesome bundle from Deedee Wills on TPT.  Click to see the bundle here or you can buy one month at a time.  They are so great once you have them all laminated and cut out because it’s as simple as changing it out each month!  The prep work is pretty much done for years ahead!  Also, you can get the cute banner at the top here from The Unique Classroom.  It is editable!  The paper tray and pencil cups are all from Really Good Stuff!

4)    Morning Tubs Chart
When my students come in each morning and put their backpacks and folders away, they know to get their morning tub (I'll have a post about these later).  It's part of their daily routine to get their day started quickly. This chart shows each student what number tub to do that day.  Their partner stays the same for a while until I decide to switch things up.  I love these little picture magnets I ordered from Shutterfly (I got them when there was a $1 sale+free shipping!) because they’re cute and everyone can see their partner and morning tub number at a glance.  The number labels are editable labels I found here on TPT by The Creative Classroom.

5)    Homework Folder Baskets on the Wall
These awesome baskets came from Ikea.  When the students come in each morning, they put their homework folder in the basket before they can start their morning tub.  These are the perfect size for these folders!  It’s part of their daily routine and really helps keep our classroom organized.

Hopefully when this Pandemic is over and the dust settles, I will get to go back to my classroom for a fresh start.  And just maybe I’ll have some Pinterest-worthy pictures for you then!  So be sure to keep your eyes peeled this summer for new beginnings!

I’d love to see some of your classroom pictures, so please feel free to go to the Facebook page and post some in the thread for us!

Teacher Talk Tuesday

Tuesday, 28 April 2020 No comments
There are so many things swirling through my mind that I could post about today.  But I think the biggest one at the forefront of our minds is this Pandemic and how it has affected not only us, but our students (aka “our kids”) as well.

Our official school closing began March 16th.  It seemed sudden and nobody really had any idea what was coming.  We hugged the kids as they left school Friday, March 13th.  Told them we loved them.  We will see you in a few weeks.  They got on the bus, we waved goodbye, and the halls felt so empty!  It was surreal.  Everything felt out of place.  It was empty like they left for the summer, but we knew it wasn’t time.  So many things were left undone.  So many projects left behind (my classroom is still full of leprechaun traps we didn’t get to “set” the following Monday).  School supplies in their desk.  It’s sooooo sad. 😢

We started Non-Traditional Instruction Days (NTI Days) on the following Monday, March 16th.  We had no idea what was coming in the days and weeks ahead.  I felt so lost and confused that first week.  My NTI Days were already planned and scheduled to post on Google Classroom daily, so what was I to do with all that time?!  Mostly I wandered around my house lost and confused and unsure of what to do with my extra time.  I felt empty.  Of course, I had to answer the occasional parent question about logging in and such, but for the most part, they knew what to do.  I was so unsettled that I couldn’t even sit down and enjoy a good Netflix binge session! 😂

Luckily, I made it through that first week and got myself in gear.  I made some personal goals for myself and that helped get me motivated.  Then, I started thinking…..what else can I do for my class?  If I’m feeling this way, I’m sure all the kids are feeling this way.  How can I make this better for them?  And teacher mode kicked in.  I ordered a ring light from Amazon and started recording daily stories for them.  Although I was staying in contact with the parents through phone and messaging, I wanted to actually reach out to my students.  So, I started sending snail mail (such a lost art that they have thoroughly enjoyed these last few weeks!), video chats, Show and Tell on Zoom and Google Meet….anything to interact with them!  My school staff even pulled together and made an awesome YouTube video for our students, which you can watch here if you are ready for some TikTok entertainment!

I do not have all the best answers during this trying time.  Kentucky schools (that's where I am) are still "in session" and we are participating in Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) Days, which is basically Distance Learning, until May 14th (for my school district).  I have seen you guys doing so many amazing things out there and I commend you for that!  Those of you who are still being required to teaching actual lessons to kindergarteners (and all other grades) on Zoom and being observed and try to do virtual assemblies—you are truly amazing and I’m thankful I’m not in your shoes!  This hasn’t been easy on any of us.

On a positive note, I would like to share some of things that I have been doing that may help you out and give you some ideas to continue your student's learning.

1)   The Kinder Life on TPT has saved me!  I felt like the NTI (Non-Traditional Instruction) work I was assigning my students was becoming monotonous.  I knew they had to be getting bored and restless of the same things everyday!  I discovered this amazing FREEBIE from The Kinder Life-Amy McDonald on TPT and it changed everything.  My students were actually doing work!  It gave them some variety and fun activities to do with their families.  They were staying engaged.  I added a sheet of my own to give them some direction in the activities and some goals to work toward that would get them ready for 1st grade, but overall it made the NTI work a little more exciting and fun for them so they didn’t feel like they were being tortured at home.  Here is a link to that FREEBIE so you can check it out and see how you can use it for your own class.  I will also include an image of what I sent home with my students so you can see the work they actually did each day.
2)   Everyone loves receiving mail, so I started coming up with some fun projects to include in SNAIL MAIL!  I found some amazing mural art projects on Art Projects for Kids that could be divided into several pieces (like a puzzle) and printed them.  I mailed one piece to each student, they colored it and mailed it back to me, and then I could piece together our masterpiece!  I finally got the pieces back to update the picture, so here is what ours looks like!  So far, I've gotten all positive feedback and it has been so much fun!  Getting fun projects like this has my students so excited about getting mail that they are now writing letters and drawing pictures to each other!  So, it's a bonus to have them work on those writing skills!  Here is a link to the collage pictures so you can check them out.  There are some FREEBIES on this site as well.
3)   My most favorite project that I have sent home during this trying time is the Flat Teacher Project!  I’m sure most of you have read “Flat Stanley” and maybe even participated in your own project with Flat Stanley.  Well, I put a little spin on it and made a Flat Teacher that looks just like me! My students LOVED receiving it in the mail and doing activities at home “with me,” then sharing them on social media for the world to see!  I created a FREEBIE on TPT if you’d like to try this super fun project with your class!

It's so exciting to see all the adventures that my students and their siblings took Flat Mrs. Cassady on! 

I know today’s post was a long one and I have so much more I could say, but I'll save that for another day.  If you want to share some of your ideas that you have been doing with your class during the Coronavirus Pandemic, please go check out my Facebook page and comment in the thread.  It’s a great way for us to work together and share ideas!  Stay in and stay healthy!  We don’t want to spread the 'rona!

Meet the Teacher Monday

Monday, 27 April 2020 No comments
That time I got to hold a baby kangaroo! 😍

Hello!!!!!  Welcome to my new blog, Kinder Crazy with Mrs. Cassady!  I can’t believe I’m actually writing my first blog post!  It has taken me 2 years of thinking about it to actually do it (I know—totally ridiculous!).  But, I’m glad you’re here and I took the plunge!

So, let me introduce myself.  I am Heather Cassady (aka Mrs. Cassady to my Kinderbabies), I teach kindergarten, and am crazy about it!  I was born and raised in Kentucky where I still reside and bleed blue—Go Wildcats!  Teaching is my passion and what I LOVE LOVE LOVE to do!  I love kids and being around them and it makes me feel happy, whole, and complete inside!  Kids are so full of life and carefree that I couldn’t imagine a different group of people I would want to spend all day with! <3

Here's a little throwback to my own kindergarten years!

I have officially been teaching for 11 years and the past 10 of those years have been spent in kindergarten—my favorite place to be!  I have had experience with grades K-8 through other various positions including my student teaching, substitute teaching (several times I was a long-term sub for different grade level positions), and as an interventionist at the elementary level.  Prior to teaching kindergarten, I taught 5th grade for one year--talk about a culture shock when moving from 5th grade to kindergarten!  Whew!

Here I am dressed as Pete the Cat in "Pete the Cat Rocking in My School Shoes" for Character Dress Up Day!
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but as an adult I haven’t really found an outlet for that.  So, I’m hoping that with this blog I can write about doing the things I truly love!  I don’t claim to be the best teacher or know it all.  I just love to share ideas, collaborate, and get ideas from others—you know how teachers are famous for the line “beg, borrow, steal” to create their own lessons! haha I will also be sharing snippets of my real teacher life (because we are still people after all!), lesson ideas, crafts, and fun activities you can use with your kindergarten class (and that can be modified for other grade levels).

Thank you for following me this far and I hope you are as excited as me for more posts this week!  Be sure to put in your email and subscribe for updates.  You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and visit my TPT Store.  I will be sharing a freebie with you tomorrow, so stay tuned!