I cannot believe it is almost February.   Here are some ideas for February work stations (and a President's Day freebie)!

If you are looking for a variety of reading, math, craft, and party ideas, I have a Pinterest board with a ton of ideas!  

Here is a fun and quick craft that I like to do that incorporates sight words.  Students can decorate the heart and the arms and legs with sight words!  They look great hanging from the ceiling, but I put these on a bulletin board.  You can make the Valentine's Day Man with word families or even fact families.  

 

Here are some academic ideas from my Valentine's Day Pack.  This set includes math and literacy work station ideas for kindergarten and first grade.  


These are a few options from my No Prep Literacy Activities set.  It includes synonyms, antonyms, editing, and word sorts.  

This year, President's Day is very close to Valentine's Day!  I wanted to share this President's Day Freebie!!!





I'm always trying to find new ways that students can practice sight words.  I have lots of newspapers and magazines that have been donated.  As students find words, they add them to the flip book.   Usually, I put one to two flip books in the work station and all students add to it.  However, I have made individual flip books.  

Students love stamping sight words.  I trade out the stamps that they use and they think it is a whole new work station!  The wooden ones are from Michaels and the See and Stamp set is from Lakeshore.  

On the supply list, students have to bring index cards that are on a spiral.  I like to use this for students to create their own personal word wall.  As we add words to the word wall, they add them in their spiral.  This has been helpful during writing as well as for sight word practice.  


The Guess the Sight Word set is very popular!  Students have a key and need to figure out the sight words.  You can download a sample set for free!  


Making sight words with play dough is always fun! Here is a freebie you can download.  


 For boys that love trains, building sight words in the Pocket Chart station is always a hit!



At my school, we are required to have differentiated work stations.  Most grade levels split the work. For example, one teacher focuses on the benchmark and advanced students, one teacher is planning for the developing students, and another for the students that are intensive.  This has worked really well at my building.

Another way we differentiate is by the work stations students go to during the week.  For example, if someone is reading fluently, they may only go to the fluency station one time during the week.  However, if someone is really struggling with blending, they will probably go to that station four to five times.

We are also required to have I CAN charts at each workstation.  If you went to the sight word station, this is what might be on the I CAN chart:

  • Cut out my sight words from magazines and newspaper and make a collage.
  • Add to my sight word flip book
  • Practice with sight word task cards
  • Build it! Write it! Draw it!
  • Roll a Sight Word
  • Stamp my sight words

I'm not always having to change out activities on Friday, and I can always add more statements to the I CAN chart.  I will change out books at the comprehension focused stations and fluency stations and word lists (if applicable) on Friday.

At literacy work stations, I am focused on having students practice fluency, word building, and comprehension.  I keep my work stations in tubs.  It is inside these tubs where I differentiate the activities.

 I use envelopes inside the tub to help differentiate.  I place the name of the group on the envelope, so students know which envelope has their work.  This works great for sight word lists, word work words, fluency phrases, and more! In this picture everything the group would need is inside the envelope.


In this picture, the fluency cards match the color of the students group.  However, if I want to use an item for another group in a few weeks, then I don't color code them.  In this picture, these cards were going home, so it was ok to color code them.  

 I've also used photo storage boxes.  They easily fit inside the tub and are great for storing task cards.  




Last year in 2015, one of my resolutions was to plan a menu for the week on Sunday and then go grocery shopping.  In other words, not always be flying by the seat of my pants.  I also wanted to plan my outfits ahead of time, so I didn't always look like a wrinkled mess!!!   Finally, I wanted to establish morning and after school routines for my children that helped us leave the house happy (not stressed and grumpy at one another) and then have free time after school!

Overall it went really well.  They say it takes 21 days to create a habit, and I think it took me a bit longer, but a year later, I'm hooked :)  I shared some of these before I went back to school in August, but Jan 1st is also a great time to share ideas :)

In 2016, I want to continue to do these things, but I also want to try and find time to unwind!! I'm always worried about my To Do list!  My key word for 2015 is going to be PRIORITIES :)

Here are some of my tips to help you stay organized when you aren't at school!

Plan Meals Ahead of Time

I use my Erin Condren planner to plan weekly meals, but I use the Reminders app on my phone to keep track of my families grocery list.  I know they have fancier apps out their, but this is super easy for me since I am always using the Reminders app for other "to-do" lists.  I feel like everything is in one place.  Plus, the best thing is that my GROCERY LIST reminder is  a shared  list, so my husband adds things as well.
This has helped save me so much time.  We've tried the dry erase on the fridge, but if I'm on my way home from school and want to stop at the grocery store, I have the list with me on my phone.  Plus, there were mornings he would add things after we left for school, not realizing that I was going to the grocery store right when I left work.  I would miss seeing items.  This way is much, much better.

Two other apps that my friends like to use are:
GroceryIQ (free)

MealBoard (paid)

Plan Outfits for the Month (or Week)

I know what you are thinking :)  What if the weather changes or I don't feel like wearing something when I wake up.  That's ok...since you have a month worth of outfits planned, you can easily wear a different one.  This way, all your accessories are planned, and it makes it so much easier in the morning! You can download the Fashion Plan here for free!  I planned a month at a time last year, and I felt so much more together.

You can check out my Pinterest Styles for School board here!  Last year, by planning out my outfits ahead of time, I was able to wear Pinterest Inspired outfits most days!  I'm also a huge budget shopper!!!!  My closet is full of clothes from Old Navy, Kohls, or Target.  I love accessories, like scarfs, statement necklaces, and fun Kendra Scott earrings to jazz up an outfit!

You can also get these cool outfit planner stickers from Kittik Prints!

Get Everything Ready the Night Before

Our routine before bed looks something like this:
1)  Lunches are on the counter with all the non-cold stuff in them.
2)  Backpacks are packed by the back door and are all ready for school (and any other team/sport bag that will be needed for practice if we aren't coming home).
3)  Clothes are picked out.
4)  The shoes everyone is wearing are by the back door.
5)  I also have a checklist on the back door that my children check one last time before they go out the door.

The checklist on the back door is organized by day-of-the-week.  One reason I do this is that I cannot keep up with my children's schedule.   At their school, "specials" occur on various days and special materials are needed for those days.  For example, band occurs on Monday, Tuesday, Friday for 5th grade, and Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday for 7th grade).  On PE days they must have tennis shoes/sneakers. PE has a similar schedule to band, only on different days!   It takes me until November to remember their schedule!!!  So once I get their schedule, I make the checklist.

Have a Morning Routine

You probably all ready think I'm a little OCD.  Well it gets worse :) When my children get up, there is a routine they follow.  I also set a timer to help keep us on track.  If you could meet my son, you would see why I do this.  Every morning we leave the house happy and I haven't raised my voice or snapped at anyone :)  We've been doing this for 8 years now, and it works pretty well.  In the beginning, when they would go to bed, I would remind them of what I wanted the morning to look like.
1)  Get up
2)  Get dressed
3)  Do hair
4) Eat*
5) Brush teeth
6) Pack Lunch
7) Leave

I've done it multiple ways, but I have found that once my children are dressed, they move faster.  The potential problem is that they could spill breakfast on their clothes.

I set a timer, and at 7:15, everyone has to brush teeth.  I figure if worse comes to worse they can eat in the car, but they can't brush their teeth in the car.  Plus, my children don't like eating after they brush their teeth, so this order really helps keep them moving.

Before we walk out the door, we check the checklist.  Like I said earlier, you've never met my son.  He has actually gone to school without shoes on (he had on his socks), because I told him, "grab your backpack and hop in the car!"  Notice I never said, "put on your shoes!"  Even though you probably think I'm OCD, you probably should also think that I have lots of patience :)

Have an After School Routine

1) Our routine is always to do homework right when we get home.  As soon as they are done with homework, it goes in their backpack and then is put by the back door, so we know where it is.
2)  While my children are doing homework, I check folders and make sure everything I need to do for them is done at that time (permission slips signed, homework signed, etc.)
3)  Then it is free time!

Use Crockpot Liners

This is my final tip.  I don't love to cook (or even like it), so the crockpot is my friend.  Cleaning the crockpot used to be a miserable chore for me, until my friend introduced me to crockpot liners.   Crockpot liners make clean-up so much easier!!! You just throw away the liner, and your crockpot is clean!  I still wash it,  but there isn't any scrubbing or soaking needed!!!

One of my family's favorite recipes is chicken in the crockpot with salsa.  It cooks all day and you just shred the chicken before you serve it.  We put it on tortilla chips with shredded cheese and sour cream.

I hope some of these tips will help you in 2016!


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