Thursday, March 21, 2019

ZONES of Regulation {freebie!}

How do you build emotional awareness in your students?  This is something I have struggled with since coming back into the classroom this year.  How do you teach someone to think about their emotions and then take steps to regulate them?  It isn't easy!

That's where ZONEs comes in.  We started doing ZONEs a few weeks ago in my classroom and it's making a difference every single day.

When students come in, they "check-in" to their ZONE each morning as part of their morning routine:


It takes them just a few seconds and gives me info that helps inform me on who needs a hug, who needs some space, and who is ready to learn.

During our morning meeting, a few kids share their zone, their feeling, and why.  This has sparked great conversation, helped build connections between kids, and is growing my students' empathy.

Earlier this week, I checked in on yellow.  My kiddos were so compassionate, asking if I needed a hug, how they could help, etc... later in the day, they asked for an update to my Zone and cheered when I moved myself to green.

I have heard them saying to each other things like, "Why are you in the yellow zone today," and "I need to go check in to the blue zone now".  Last week, one of my friends became very upset and started acting out.  Another student said to him, "It seems like your body is in the yellow zone now."  He immediately picked up a mess he had made and walked to our "Calm Down" spot to reset.

To see kiddos doing this on their own... it's pretty cool.


Here is our "Calm Down" spot.  Kids can go and sit on the pink rug, use the strategies posted on the wall to calm down, and then re-join the group when ready.  Just adding this spot to the room has been HUGE.  I have a friend who will leave the room when he is frustrated.  Since adding this spot, he has not left the room once.  He is totally utilizing this space and I am so grateful!


You can find this editable turtle set by "From the Pond" on TpT by clicking the picture!


Thinking about starting ZONEs?  I recommend checking out the book.  It comes with a CD with lots of printables.  Clicking the link takes to my affiliate page on Amazon, if you'd like to check it out.


I'm pretty particular about my fonts and graphics, so I re-made the main posters to my own liking.  I have my posters linked as a Google Doc that you can get for free by clicking the picture below, if you'd like!


Teaching kids about their emotions, how their emotions effect themselves, and others... it's the best way to develop emotional responsibility, empathy, and help keep things orderly in the classroom.  It's been a change to tell kiddos, "I can see your body is in the yellow zone right now," instead of just asking them to settle down.  Or, when a friend is moving slowly because they are tired, now we have a few skills we've practiced that can help them get their bodies back to the green zone so they are ready to learn.

I hope you will try it our... or share things that are working for you in the comments!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Abraham Lincoln Writing Paper Freebie!

A snow (ice!) day today (...#10) means I didn't get to use this Lincoln themed writing paper today, but we will be using it tomorrow after reading some texts and watching a Brainpopjr on Abraham Lincoln's life.  My kiddos will be writing what they have learned about him!

You can snag it for free on TpT by clicking on the picture below.



I know his bday is today... but it isn't too late to add this to your writing for the week!

Hope you're staying dry, warm, and ice free!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Student Valentine Gifts for a BUCK! {and a few freebies!}

Love is in the air and, thanks to this cheap gift, the money is still in my wallet!  I only spent a dollar per student for a great Valentine gift and you still have time to run out and make them!

22 kids for $22?  Yes!  It's true!

I just finished making my students' Valentine gifts and only spent one dollar per kid and I guarantee they are going to LOVE (with all the heart eyes!) these gifts!

I got clipboards from the Dollar Tree and personalized them for my students.  We use clipboards often in the classroom for write the room activities, writing, and other work times when students are not at their desks.  And now each kiddo will have their own clipboard to use during these work times!

Check these out...


Super easy.  The hardest part was unwrapping the cellophane around each clipboard.  Once that was done, this part was easy-peasy!

I had paint pens at home, which is what I used to personalize them, but Sharpies would work perfectly too!

I can't wait to give these to my kiddos on Thursday!!!

My kiddos will also get a Valentine brag tag.  You can download this freebie by clicking the picture.


Looking for an easy card holder?  Here is my favorite!


And... here's a quick bulletin board freebie too!



I may use my Valentine Hershey wrappers too and give them a candy bar... if I get to Target in the next few days.  And, let's face it, I'll definitely be at Target in the next few days!


Or, if you're looking for a non-candy treat that your kiddos will love, surprise them with a Valentine homework pass!

How are you celebrating Valentine's day with your students?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Word Sorts in the Classroom

Do you word sort in your classroom?

If you don't, you totally should.

We do a "write the room"activity every week which is a sorting activity, since the kiddos are walking around the room and categorizing words as they write them on a recording sheet.

BUT- I recently started doing hands-on physical word sorts and it's amazing.

Like seriously.

There's just something about seeing the kiddos actually manipulate word cards, hearing them saying words aloud and figuring out where to categorize them based on sounds.  And, the sense of accomplishment they have when they have sorted the cards... well, they get so excited!

So, I've been making sorts like a crazy woman, as my kiddos can't get enough of them.

I have them at my "Word Work" center.  When students finish their "must do" each week, they can choose a word sort to complete.

I cut a laminate the cards and put them in here.  I got it at Michael's.  On sale.  And then used my teacher ID to get MORE money off!

I print out the "header cards" so students know the categories.  Then print and laminate the sorting cards.



My students seriously LOVE doing this.  They either lay them out on the floor or sort them in pocket charts.  We love these magnetic ones from Amazon:



And I'm so stoked to let you know that I have TWENTY of them done and ready to share on TpT!

I am going to continue to add to this pack until my school year ends in June, as my kiddos seriously can't get enough.  You can snag this pack on sale at TpT now!  The pack also includes recording sheets for each sort so you can check students' work or use as fun assessments!

How do you get your kiddos interacting with words and literacy skills?

We've had three snow days in the past week with a big snow coming Monday and then below zero temps on Wednesday... I will definitely be adding to this pack next week if we get more snow days!

Happy weekend, all!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Newest Classroom Projects {Clipboards and Class Store}

Second blog post of 2019... already  miles ahead of where this blog was at this time last year!

We were so excited on Friday when we had the first opening of our CLASS STORE!

Students were able to spend (or save, which only one of my kiddos did!) their Dojo points from the week for goodies at our store.

To make the store, I just went to Target because, duh, I'm there thirty times a week anyway, and scoured Bullseye's Playground for the best gear.  I may have bought a few things from Amazon too... but most of it comes from my other home away from home- Target.

I decided how much each item would cost, made up some "price tags", and put everything into a hanging shoe holder.

Easiest, peasiest contraption ever!


I'm only using 12 of the 24 shoe spots, so I just used some binder clips to hang the "extra" behind.  Once this week I used it to cover the front of the store so the kids couldn't see the prizes... but it looked so sad when it was closed up so we fixed that and hung it right back behind where it belonged!

Want to make your own store with this shoe holder?  Click the picture for an Amazon link!


I was also in need of some clipboards.  I hit up Dollar Tree and bought 10.  I had so much fun adding my name to them that I'll probably go and get 12 more so I have a class set!  How fun would this be as a Christmas gift for the kiddos?  Or maybe Valentine's Day since that's right around the corner!


Ignore the giant messy corner of my desk here!  I could just not share this pic, but I love how these turned out.  So, I'll just share and hope you don't notice the piles or other STUFF!


That's it!

Currently working on some simple sorts and matching activities.  I am excited to actually be CREATING again!  I'll share here when I've got them ready to go!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

New Year... New Blog Design!

When I was a little girl, I hated my name.

Perhaps an abrupt way to begin a blog post, but in the end, it will all come together.

So, anyway.

The name.

Christina.

Hey, it was the 80s and everyone else seemed to be named Tiffany, Jenny, or Jessie.

"Christina" just didn't roll off the tongue.  It didn't sound fun or happy... to me, a little girl in mid-80s, it just sounded OLD.

It wasn't beautiful, it ended with a 'schwa' sound... you know, that ugly "UH" sound that you almost have to frown to make.  That was the complete opposite of the joyful, smiley, airy long e of TiffanY, JennY, and JessIE.

I vowed, right then and there that when I grew up, I was going to change my name.

I chose a name that was simply elegant.

I loved it more than anything.

And I just knew that, as soon as I was 18, I was marching to the courthouse to change my name.

No more "ChristinUH" with that frowny schwa at the end.

I came up with something beautiful.

Something to rival the Tiffany's of the world.

What did I love in the 80s... my My Little Ponies, of which I had an extensive collection full of unicorns and I loved the show "Jem and the Holograms", who had a giant star RIGHT in their logo!

(You are definitely going to want to Pin this blog post so you can remember this name for your future daughters.)

Are you ready?

So, naturally with my love of My Little Ponies and the truly, truly, truly outrageous Jem, I created a beautiful marriage of those two favorites, chosing the name Unicorn Starr, and adding the twist of Starr with TWO R's.

Go ahead, say it out loud.  Let it roll off the tongue.  The two R's are important, so draw out that last sound just a little bit.

Unicorn Starr.

And, at that time, my full name would have been Unicorn Starr Marie Rowe!

Seriously.  Until this moment, have you ever heard of a more lovely name?

I loved that beautiful name and dreamed of the day I would be able to call myself by my rightful name!

But then, one day I grew up.  I grew into my name.  I found out who I was and realized that I AM Christina.  My parents chose right!  And no other name, not even one was amazing as "Unicorn Starr" could suit me.

BUT... I have often thought back to all that time I spent wanting a different name.  And I have shared that story with lots of friends over the years... even the fifth graders I student taught waaaaay back in 2004 heard that story when we read a text about someone who didn't like their name.

Unicorn Starr has always been a part of my story and so, today, I have a re-designed blog that honors that fun little memory and "re-brands" me & this blog, now that I'm back in the classroom.  Yes, I got the opportunity to return to my passion, TEACHING!!!, in since September after two years as a principal, and it was time to turn "Bunting, Books, and Bright Ideas" into a new space on the web... in honor of Unicorn Starr, this blog is now "The Uni-Corner"!

I am hopeful that 2019 will allow me to find "teacher time" again to blog and share ideas from my 1st grade classroom and that you will join me over here at "The Uni-Corner"!

Gotta give credit to my girl, as I totally stole the phrase "Uni-Corner" from my dear friend and best Special Education teacher EVER, Bethany, as the name for this blog.  She has a love for unicorns as well and has a spot in her classroom full of all of her unicorn stuff, aptly named her "Uni-Corner"!  And super happy with the re-design from Kassie!

Please stay tuned and join me, Christina/Unicorn Starr, over here at The Uni-Corner!

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