Bat Week!

I never knew how much I enjoyed bats until this time last year.  I had been seeing some great activities from my favorite bloggers, so I decided to jump in.  My kiddos last year ATE THEM UP.  They may has well have been bat experts.  I was so impressed by their engagement and fact retention.  When my principal and I had a meeting at the beginning of this year he asked me what is one thing that I am looking forward to this school year.  My answer... BAT WEEK! I knew that it had to be just as exciting as last year, but with a little extra.

I got our team of 7...yes SEVEN... 1st grade teachers all on board with me.  We all agreed the hallway needed to be a bat cave. I was inspired by Jodi from Fun in First.  My awesome hubby and I spent about 4 hours on a Saturday setting the stage to engage.  My other coworkers got their activities together and cut bats for the lockers, one took some of the pics for this post, and Mel D from Seusstastic created the amazing fact posters and spooky eyes.

 I seriously love him.  He has learned to just go along with all of my zany ideas.

Dream accomplished!

 The fact posters were created by Mel D.

We cut out about 250 black bats with a pattern.  So worth it!

Almost nothing sticks to our paint for some reason.  I had my husband put up about a million pieces of tape to keep the cave walls up.  We aren't allowed to staple anything, but there may be one or two staples.

The kids were in a quiet awe when they first walked down the hall Monday morning.  There were spooky bat cave sounds playing from my Bose bluetooth speaker.  I actually expected there to be mass chaos, but they were in so much shock as they entered the bat cave.  Perfect!

On Monday, I decided to do the same KWL chart that Jodi did.  I wanted to see what they knew before we began.  They basically knew that bats hang upside and eat mosquitos.  Boy did we have a lot to learn.  I also introduced them to the vocabulary we would be hearing a lot this week.  They were eating it up.  We also, read Fly Guy Presents Bats.  Such a cool book full of Bat Facts.

Pic from last year.  I forgot to take one on Friday I guess...

On Tuesday, I taught them some cool batty facts and we labeled the parts of the bat.  We read National Geographic Kids: Bats.

On Wednesday, we needed to use commas in a series.  So I turned things that make me batty into a writing assignment using commas.  We added them to these adorable bats from First Grade Fever. We read Bats at the Beach.  Such a cute book!

My awesome parent helper came and helped us assembly this craft and she even stayed to hang them up!

She also knows my love for EVERYTHING pumpkin and brought me this pumpkin themed treat.  Wasn't that sweet?

On Thursday, I had a substitute.  So they did a bat fact true or false sheet and made a bat from A Cupcake for the Teacher and added adjectives to the wings.  Then we read Bats at the Library.  This book is the same author as yesterday's book.

Friday was the day for me to add as much excitement as I possibly could.  Needless to say, we did not fit it all in and will be continuing on Monday. :)  Yay, Bat Week continues...

First, we made bat hats to wear for the festivities.

Then, we began our sunset paintings that I found from Reagan Tunstall.  I did this project last year and fell in love!  We finished the watercolor portion, and will finish the facts and the rest of the painting on Monday.

These are from last year.

Next, we got together with Mel D's class and found our bat families using our sense of smell.   We soaked cotton balls in 5 different essential oils (peppermint, lemon, lavendar, eucalyptus, and patchouli).  The kids were given a random cotton ball and had to smell others until they found what matched. What did we learn??? Humans definitely do not have as keen of a sense of smell as bats.  Thanks Queen of the 1st Grade Jungle and Holly Ehle for this fun idea!

The kids brought flashlights with them and read our huge collection of bat library books with them.  They thought that was super fun!

We ended with watching Magic School Bus Going Batty.

I'm looking forward to doing more bat activities on Monday. Hehe! Maybe I planned that!

Oh I almost forgot! On Monday, October 24th we are signed up to watch a bat webinar.  You can too (for free) by signing up at Field Trip Zoom.  I have never tried this before, but I am so excited to see what they will be sharing with us!


Fixer Upper Inspired Classroom

I left school in May with my classroom set-up for the start of the new school year.  All of my bulletin boards were done.  I even had switched all of my calendars to August.  I was in need of a stress free beginning.

Well.... somewhere around the middle of July I got the bright idea to create a fixer upper inspired classroom.  I actually think it all stemmed from my classroom library.  I was in need of new containers and new organization.  I began online shopping Amazon, Michaels, Walmart, Joann Fabrics, etc.  I needed a container that was neutral, but sturdy,  I saw a post by Amy Lemons about using wire baskets for her classroom library and I was SOLD.  The problem was I couldn't find affordable and sturdy.

One day when I was KID FREE, I went to a few of the places mentioned above.  I finally made my way to Joann Fabrics.  There I found some great wire basket options, but even at 60% off they were a bit pricey for my taste.  I literally left the store, but as I was walking out I noticed as Teacher Appreciation Sale of an additional 25% off and it ended that day.  I walked my butt right back in, grabbed a flyer, and the nearest employee to confirm I could get the deal on top of a sale. She confirmed that I was!  Seriously 60% & 25% off?! I had to get the baskets.  I also grab some HUGE letters to spell READ for the same deal.  I still spent $200, but I feel like I now have some long lasting containers that will stand up against little first grade fingers.

Does anyone else take pictures of things you want to buy and text them to your hubby? I sent him 3 different versions of the READ letters and the last one he sends a message back, "too serial killer". Oy!  You can see the baskets I purchased behind the D.  Both the letters and baskets are "Hudson" brand.  The closest thing I can find online to the baskets are at Target.  The large is $19.99 and small is $14.99.
After I found the letters and baskets I knew I couldn't stop there.  My classroom wouldn't look cohesive right?  I began shopping rugs.  My old ones were only 3 years old, but took a lot of wear and tear from 1st graders over the years.  I brought them home every summer for a good cleaning, but it was apparent to me that I would need to find something new this year.  

Since I was going for the Fixer Upper inspired thing I thought I should try to bring the outdoors in.  The best way I could think to do that was with green shag carpets to look like grass.  I found the perfect rugs at IKEA.  So of course, I coerced my hubby to pack up the 3 kids and drive me there.  It is about an hour and half away.  The rugs are normally $39.99, but were on sale for $29.99 with the IKEA reward card.  While we were there I also picked up some white cardboard book boxes (4 pack for .99) and a black work lamp ($32.99).

As I was bringing all of this decor in I realized my bulletin boards could not stay as they were.  I began shopping TPT and found this ADORABLE Farmhouse Classroom Decor pack by Tiffany Gannon.

My favorite pieces of the pack are the calendar area, number posters (WITH touch points), and number line.  I highly suggest checking this out.

My alphabet line was currently bright pinks, oranges, greens, yellows, and blues.  It did NOT go with my theme at all.  I knew I wanted a throw back look.  I found this perfect alphabet at United Arts and Education for $10.99.

I finally rounded out the whole look for some pieces made by me.  I added a clip chart, birthday display, student work display numbers, schedule cards, and a few other touches that you can find in my Shiplap Classroom Decor pack.

Are you ready to see the final look? These pictures were taken before I added my final touches.  I will be updating pictures soon.  The start of the school year was Monday and well..... enough said right?

This is how I felt on Friday afternoon.

Here it is...

This post contains affiliate links, but all reviews are my own honest thoughts on products and were not prompted from the companies.


Best Year Ever

I don't know about any of you, but my stress level and anxiety are THROUGH THE ROOF at the moment.  My summer break is quickly coming to a close and the start of the #bestyearever is about to begin.  I got the bright idea to do a mini classroom makeover, which includes reorganizing my classroom library.  I had ALL summer, but I, of course, saved it for the last two weeks.  Here are some pics of what I have been up to...

I actually have already been to my classroom once in JULY! I have never done any work in my classroom in July.  What is this world coming to???  I moved my desk against the bulletin board.  It used to jut out from the white board and I decided it was taking up valuable real estate.  I was then able to move my small group table to be next to my desk.  I see this being great for so many reasons!

The family and I also took a trip to Ikea.  We were on the hunt for rugs to go with my classroom makeover.  While we were there I noticed a ton of great choices for alternative seating.  I currently have Kore wobble stools, bean bags, crate seats, and Ikea stools in the classroom.

The biggest undertaking has been leveling and reorganizing my classroom library.  It has been quite the undertaking.  I am using arbookfind to locate book level and I am also adding the corresponding AR quiz number.  Then I am using a few conversion charts and labeling with the TRC level.  I haven't quite figured out how I will display the books yet.  It has been an eye opening project as I now see how terrible my lower level book selection is.  More shopping is in my future!

As with any good project I do it can never stay in one place.  I usually end up on the floor. Its just a better work area!

I am curious what changes you are making in your classroom this year?  Comment below to win a $10 TPT gift card remember they are having a sale on Monday August 1st and Tuesday August 2nd (oh and also please leaves some titles of your favorite beginning of 1st grade level books)!  Stay tuned for pics of my updated classroom.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Top 5 Toys Played with By All Ages

Hey everyone! It's summer time, so I obviously have been spending a TON of time with my 3 kids.  It has been glorious.  It has also made me realize how much s#*t we have.  I sat down after several visits with family from out of town and I realized there are a few staple items that ALWAYS get played with despite the ages of the children/adults playing with them.  This thought has seriously made me consider getting rid of everything else.  After all, my kids can have fun in a cardboard box, no lie!

So here are the top 5 toys in no particular order...

Play Kitchen and accessories

My kids got their kitchen for Christmas (VERY similar to the one above).  We invested in a wooden kitchen because we liked the look and hoped that it would be more durable.  We had a plastic one in the past that we picked up from a rummage sale.  It did the job for awhile, but the knobs broke off and stickers began to peel.

Along with the kitchen we also decided the wisest investment would be in wooden play food.  Melissa and Doug has many awesome play sets.  Learning Resources also has some very sturdy plastic sets that we purchased too.

Doodle Pad

I love this item because my 1 year old loves scribbling those preliminary marks, my 4 year loves practicing her name, and my 7 year old can write words and sentences.  I even enjoy challenging myself to draw a picture without having to erase.  We have a simple one that has one pen.  I know others come with stamps, but I know we would lose those quickly.

Drums & other musical instruments

We are a very musical family.  My husband was actually a professional touring musician for awhile.  I love to sing, but really can't carry a tune.  Hopefully my kids take after him. Haha!  We don't mind the noise, in fact, we encourage it.  EVERY.SINGLE.KID that comes to our house has to try their hand at the drums.  I love it!  Last week, one of my son's friends who also has CP was playing up a storm and even attempted to use the drumstick with his weaker hand!  I think our drum set has been instrumental at building my son's core strength.  The set above is the one my son currently has.

We are also big fans of other percussion instruments.  We love to turn the music up loud and sing and play along.  This was one of our first percussion sets.


I remember playing with my Barbie's for a LONG time.  My 4 year old has been playing with them for about a year.  Above is her latest addition to her collection.  Sometimes my son even joins in.  I love hearing them role play and create stories.

This one is probably the favorite.....
Inflatable Bouncy Animals

My sister-in-law came home from the Covered Bridge Festival in Southern Indiana one year and I was so upset that she came home with not one, but TWO of these LARGE inflatable bouncy animals.  I thought where am I going to put these in my teeny tiny house?!  Needless to say, I don't feel that way anymore.  They sit proudly in my living room (they are one of the only visible toys when you walk in-on a good day).  All of the kids that come play for hours on these silly looking things.  They LOVE them.  We have never once had to re-inflate them.  My husband and I have even been caught racing on them in our living room.  Haha!

So there you have it... my top 5 toy items that are sure to be a crowd please for those young and old.  Please comment below with any toys you feel have the same longevity.  I would love to replace my million dusty toys with some really awesome ones!

Thanks for letting me step outside the teacher box for a few minutes. :)

This post does contain links to my Amazon affiliate account, but these are products that I own, have had for years, and LOVE!
Back to Top