Monday, August 27, 2012

The Writing Zone (and a little sneak peek!)

Wow! I am exhausted. Today was my first day of school. My students are PRECIOUS! I love each and every one of them. They all seem SO little!

I wanted to quickly share how set up my Writer’s Workshop in my classroom. This past summer I put together a massive Writer’s Workshop packet. I cannot wait to kick it into gear this school year! The Writer’s Workshop centers around two friendly writing helpers, Mr. and Mrs. Fix-It!

Here’s how I set up my Writer’s Workshop display in my classroom:






In previous years, we have not spent *that* much time on polishing our writing skills. I am really looking forward to using these “tools” to help make our writing the best it can be!

You can find all of the goodies you see above, plus LOTS more in my Writer’s Workshop Mega Pack.


Click on the buttons below to go directly to the Writer’s Workshop pack at my shops.

Also, my sweet friend, Hadar (aka Miss Kindergarten), posted these adorable Self Check Bookmarks awhile ago at her shop. These will be PERFECT for my students to have handy when they are writing. LOVE! I’m so happy I grabbed these little gems. Thanks, Hadar!


(click on the image above to take you to her shop!)

Before I go, here’s a little sneak peek at my space-themed classroom! I can’t wait to share a full class tour with you all. Be on the lookout!



Sunday, August 26, 2012

Don’t Be a Bucket Dipper!


Tomorrow is the first day of school! I am SO excited to *officially* meet my little first grade friends. Some of them came in on Friday for our school’s “Sneak a Peek.” Wow, they are DARLING! One sweet little girl told me, “When I saw I had you as my teacher, I kept saying ‘My wish came true, my wish came true.’” MELTS.MY.HEART!

This year, we are doing a school-wide character education program based around this sweet book:

It’s a wonderful book that encourages children to be positive, kind, and loving to themselves and others. It is a GREAT book for any age group!

You can read the book online here:

I’ve seen many different ways people incorporate this book into their classrooms. There are some seriously adorable ideas on Pinterest.


Here’s how my first grade team and I plan on using this book in our classrooms:

Each class has a bucket. Every time a student does something kind for someone else, we will add a pom pom to the bucket. When our class bucket is full, we will have a class celebration (board games, dance party, etc.). I know my kids will eat this right up!

I’ve created a few bucket filling activities to complete after reading the book. You can grab them below for free!



Also, here’s a fun song that helps reinforce the message from the book. Enjoy!


Thanks for always filling my bucket, Sweet Friends!

Have you filled someone’s bucket today?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hear-All Assessment Recorder Giveaway

Have you ever heard of the Hear-All Assessment Recorder? If not, you MUST check it out.
The Hear-All Assessment recorder is a small and easy-to-use technology device that records voice.
Some of my favorite things about the Hear-All Assessment Recorder:
-NO batteries are required; just plug it in your computer to charge
- it provides an extra pair of ears in the classroom (just press record)
- you can play back what was recorded on the device and on your computer
- the recorded voices are clear (not muffled or fuzzy sounding)
I plan on using this in my classroom during centers. I think this will really help hold my students accountable while I’m working with another small group or student.

I also plan on using it when conducting Running Record assessments and DIBELS assessments. I like the immediate play back option. It would be very helpful to play back a student’s assessment (in case I missed something a student said) and to use during conference time with parents.

So, here’s the big question: DO YOU WANT ONE? If so, you’re in luck. My friends over at Learning Resources are giving one away to one my readers (YOU!).

Start off your school year the right way!

Enter for a chance to win one below:

The contest ends at 12:01am on August 29th. Good luck!

Check out other products from Learning Resources by clicking on their logo below.

Monday, August 20, 2012

my teacher must-haves


Teacher Week over at Blog Hoppin’ has arrived. I am super excited to share my teacher must-haves.


1. Starbucks Coffee: Without a doubt, my number one teacher must-have is coffee! You will always find me in the morning carrying a cup of this…

2. Binder Covers: What teacher doesn’t LOVE binder covers to stay organized? These binder covers are my KEY to staying organized this year. My binders are all printed and ready to go.

Woo hoo!


3. Platypus Designer Duct Tape: Patterned duct tape (I like to call it teacher duct tape) has become a FAVORITE of mine. Platypus has the cutest patterns (and they aren’t too pricey!). Teacher duct tape is a must have…for sure!

4. Sarah Cooley’s Cheerios: This school year would not be complete without these “Cheerios” made by my sweet friend, Sarah Cooley. I bought these last year and my kids went absolutely NUTS over these positive cheers. You will LOVE them (and so will your students!).


5. Elmo Document Camera: Oh, Mr. Elmo….he holds a near and dear place in my heart. Mr. Elmo is my document camera. He saves me time, and makes learning OH SO EXCITING! I feel lucky I have him in my life.

6. Friends in First Packet: Of course, we can’t forget “The First Grade Experts” from my Friends in First packet. These experts are sure to make the first week of school a fun and exciting one for all!


What are your teacher must-haves?

Link up over at Blog Hoppin’ to share your favorites! And, don’t forget to join in on the fun this whole week. Hooray!

Blog Hoppin

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Teaching Blog Addict: Featured Teacher


Hi Friends!

I’m not here today. But, you CAN find me over at Teaching Blog Addict! Woo hoo! I’m their Featured Teacher today.

Grab these FREE Story Elements posters there:


and, these *updated* Comprehension Strategy posters:


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I heart cara carroll!

Cara Carroll is my HERO!

I was in my pajamas tonight when she posted about these little gems…


These things are seriously GENIUS! They are $1.00 book covers from Target, but can turned into CHAIR POCKETS!!!!


(above photos borrowed from The First Grade Parade)


So, I ran out to Target looking like a hot (not-so-much!) mess.

As I was walking through Target in my pajamas, I kept thinking about this card, and bowing my head in shame.

I always seem to run into families during these very unattractive moments. They all look at me like they are thinking, “Ms. Kuster, is that you? WOW, you look AWFUL!”

Thank goodness no one saw me this time.

Go check out Cara’s blog for a great mini-tutorial on how place them on your chairs. These are perfect for other non-sewers, like myself.


I finally was able to get some work done in my classroom. This summer I’ve gone back and forth about my theme. This is what I came up with: lots of color, lots of chevron, and a little outer space theme mixed in. I cannot wait to reveal some classroom pictures!


(above: border and scrapbook paper)


Here’s a little sneak peek at my nameplates. I had to mix-in a little Chevron love.

You can grab this adorable clip art set from Goodness & Fun.

Click on the link below to go to their shop!


I am off to cut out over 200 laminated pages. Not even kidding! This is just a small part of the pile!


How is your classroom coming along?

Add a link to your blog in the Comment section to share your classroom pics.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

hooray! back-2-school sale!

Hooray, Hooray! 

It’s almost the Back-2-School Sales Day.

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a GIGANTIC Back-2-School sale. These don’t happen too often, so make sure you take advantage of this one. I know I will be. Woo hoo!

On August 12-13th, everything in my TPT shop will be 20% off. You can get an additional 10% off at checkout with the code: BTS12


Check out some of products that are great for Back-2-School!

(click on any product below to take you directly to that item in my shop)






Enjoy shopping!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

math monsters and a friend’s super cute back-2-school craft!


Hi Friends!

I am really excited about my latest project. It’s my first math packet…hooray! I’ve been aligning it with the Common Core Standards, so it will pair nicely with your math curriculum.

Here’s a sneak peek:


Also, my very talented friend (and fellow teacher/blog addict), Tracy, just finished up THE MOST ADORABLE craftivity. It could be used as a back-2-school or end-of-the-year activity. You guys should check it out! She is amazingly talented and one of my favorite people!

You all will love this one…



So cute, right? Go give her a little love and read more about this craft at her blog:

I finally (sorry!) updated my TPT shop to include these editable cards. Grab them below by clicking on either preview. Enjoy!


Also, if you’ve e-mailed me lately, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten back to you yet. Forgive me! I’ve been super swamped. I’m going through my mail tonight.

Take care, you all!

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