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.


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!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Our Number of The Day Routine {AKA- One Proud Teacher!}

So yeah.  It's been about 6 weeks that I've been back in the classroom and this little blog has been neglected as I've been adjusting to being a teacher again.

Can I just say that I love it?  And how much I missed being in the classroom?

I loved being a principal too... but nothing beats having your own little group of tiny humans to connect with and love.

We complete a daily number routine that helps us build our math thinking skills and our automaticity.  I've been noticing lately how AMAZING my kiddos have gotten at understanding how numbers work and I had to come on and brag...

Don't mind the messy handwriting, but check out their subtraction sentences from yesterday... and remember, these are FIRST GRADERS!

A friend had something similar in her classroom at my previous school and so I created this and sent the file off to Office Max, where they posterized it and laminated it for me!  We just use a Vis-a-Vis marker and wipe it off at the end of each day.

We go through this routine every morning as part of our daily calendar activities.  We can get all of this done in less than 8 minutes now and I love hearing their confidence grow each day as their math fluency grows!

You want to print this out at Office Max too?  Just save the image below and upload to their site.  Mine is the 24" x 36" poster and here it is hanging from my easel to give you some perspective on its size:

Open this and save it to use to make your own Number of the Day poster!

Have a great rest of the week!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

My BIG News...


It's been a while on this blog.

As a building principal, I didn't have too much to blog about.  You surely didn't want to hear my stories about Kindergarten lunch, or a student who was having a rough day, or that awesome classroom observation I did.

But, I have BIG news.

This blog is about to come back to life.


I have decided that I miss being a TEACHER, so I'm going back to the classroom!

Yesterday was my last day in the principal's office.

After a tearful day and some silent moments in my office, by myself, at the end of the day, I closed the door on that chapter, literally, and left the school district that has been my home for the last seven years.  It was a bittersweet day.  Leaving the friends, students, and memories behind wasn't easy.  BUT... my heart has been calling me back to the classroom for a while and, when I got an opportunity to teach less than 10 miles from my home, I could not pass it up.

So, starting Monday, I'm teaching FIRST GRADE!

It's been a crazy week trying to get the room ready while wrapping up things in the principal's office.  But, it's done and I'm in love with my classroom.

Want to take a peek?

Come on in!

Gotta do Brag Tags!  I loved these when I was teaching before, so this was one of my first projects when I got this new job.

Here's the view from behind my desk!

Small group table...

View from the back...

View of the front!  We'll be doing a math routine daily.  After seeing a teacher friend with a similar poster, I knew I needed one for my firsties.  So, I created this and the good folks at Office Ma blew it up for me!

Side view...

Dollar Tree for the win with these book boxes!

Of course... D5!

And my favorite spot in the room... the library/rug area.  I do SO much teaching back here and am simply in love with my new rug from Way Fair!

Get ready for new posts, freebies, and TpT creations... teacher Bainbridge is back... and I am ready to go!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Valentine Bulletin Board- Freebie!

This is an oldie, but a goodie... from my last year in the classroom!

Just click the picture to download!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Jazz Up Your Holiday Party {You need these hats in your life!}

I know, I know... it isn't even Halloween yet and I'm posting about Christmas.

But, trust me.

You want to read this post and I want to get it to you early so you can order these hats!!!!!

You need these hats in your life!

Exhibit A- these metallic cone party hats from Oriental Trading:

Click the picture to view the hats on Oriental Trading or HERE for all party supplies.

Your standard metallic party hat, right?


These hats are the canvas for the most fun your students will ever have at your holiday party.

The good people over at Oriental Trading sent me 300 of these hats... one for each student in my elementary school.  We are going to use them to create the "costumes" for our Holiday Music Program in early December.

Of course, as soon as these arrived this week, I could not WAIT to put the vision in my head for these "costumes" into reality.

Cue the glue gun, cotton balls, pipe cleaners, craft pom-poms, tape, and ribbons!!!!

A few short minutes later, I had created the most adorable hats for my kiddos to wear for our music program!  (Ok, I didn't make all 300 in a few short minutes.  But I did make one of each with the help of some of my little elementary friends...)

We have a Santa hat that just needed a few cotton balls...

A girl elf hat- just add ribbons and paper ears.  The ears were super easy to make- it's just a heart that I cut in half!

Yellow = REINDEER!  This took three brown pipe cleaners and may be my favorite hat of all.

Ok.  I lied.  The green is my favorite.

Blue is a boy elf- ribbon and ears!

And the silver make the perfect candy cane... just add some colored tape!

Here they are... all in a row...

I love them.  Like, seriously love.

I am so thankful that Oriental Trading helped make this possible for our school holiday program.  But, as a former classroom teacher, this would have made the PERFECT station at my classroom Christmas party!  I was THAT teacher... with organized stations and crafts at the party... and this would be the perfect one!

I know you have three thousand craft pom-poms, a variety of pipe cleaners, and miscellaneous ribbons in your storage bins in that closet right now.

Dig them out and order yourself these metallic party hats!  Your kiddos will LOVE making these hats at your holiday party.  Don't miss out on these other holiday finds at Oriental Trading too!

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