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Flexible Seating Finds at Ikea

Well folks. I am jumping in! Simply looking at my students this past year and how they work, I've noticed that I think it's time I try a different layout in hopes to create an even more supportive classroom environment. So after reading a lot about the idea of flexible and alternative seating options and its benefits, I'm going for it!

I'm staying in the same room as I've been the last 4 years, and the layout hasn't changed much so I'll need to get creative to make it work and function, but I'm up for the challenge. I already did a Donor's Choose project and got a few wobble stools and some on the go floor chairs. Now I'm asking around, hopping around to garage sales, and limiting myself to no more than 2 Ikea visits!

Here's my plan as of now for working spaces:

  • I'm getting rid of most of my desks. I will keep some. Some I will raise up a little higher so they can be standing desks.
  • I'm getting 3 tables. At least 1 will be lowered to the floor for a sitting table. My goal is to have a "hard" space available for each student (at a table or a desk) at any given work time, although they might not all be used as some may choose to work on the floor with lap desks. 
  • I'm keeping some of my normal chairs, and hope to get some exercise balls. I also have some wobble stools and normal stools (which you will see below)

Here's what I got in my first visit to Ikea. I found that scouring through Pinterest and finding others who have made the change had had a lot of luck at Ikea and I found it very help to read those posts, so I'm doing the same. Plus I'm super jealous of all of you who have a 5 Below near you... the closest one to me is like 300 miles away. So Ikea it is! I took a screen shot of each of these products so you can see the name and price of when I bought it. Prices may change though remember, especially if it is in a yellow box.


I bought 2 of these lounge like chairs and 6 of the stools. I debated about the lounge chairs because they were a bit spendy. But I sat in them and they were super comfy! Another reason I got both of these types of seating is because they stack to make it easier to store when they are not in use. 

        


I also got these outdoor seat cushions. They can go on the seats or the stools, or on the floor. They are just thick enough to provide some extra cushion, but slim enough to store easily. They have ties so I'll probably hang them on our moveable curtain.. we'll see!


  

Since students won't have their own desks, we'll have to store materials differently. I picked up lots of those cardboard magazine holders. I'll find a use somehow. I also bought 3 of hanging trash cans. I saw a pin at Creativity to the Core on how she used them to store their folders... brilliant! Another awesome find was this green thing. What is it you ask? Well it is a 3-in-1!


It's a cubbyhole! And a shelf! And has hooks! And it was $4.99! So I bought two. It is supposed to be attached using screws (that are not included) but the swinging command hooks fit in the holes so I'm going to try that first before I try to ask my custodian to screw things into the wall. I'm picturing putting things like post-its in the cubby area, or whisper phones, or who know what else I'll discover that can fit!

Last of my finds, and some of my favorites, are these lap desks. Actually, the top part of the picture is a tablet stand. But I tested it out and it works great as a little lap desk. You can stack them (bonus for storage) and you can use them in 2 different directions. I used this also while standing and it was great. I also got 1 bean bag lap desk. These were a bit spendy again. But the bottom snaps off for easier cleaning. 


I feel it was a very successful first trip. I'm getting pretty set in terms of actual seating options. I'm on the hunt for some cheap yoga mats or rugs, and some exercise balls and then it's time to rearrange!

Any tips for making flexible seating successful? I'd love to hear them!



Books Teachers Love [June]

I'm back with the lovely ladies who bring you Books Teachers Love to get us through this last month of school!


Before you check out this month's book, you might want to take a peek at the last book I shared (and snag the freebie)


May to June is a great time of year... a time to begin to wrap up ends, but even more important, a time to try to push our kiddos to help them prepare for the next grade. The book I bring you this month can serve so many purposes!



I remembered being introduced to Chris Van Allsburg during my student teaching placement 5 years ago. My coteacher did a whole author's study on his books and I was amazed at how captivating and unique they all were.  Fast forward to this year and I've discovered also how amazing they are at teaching a variety of sentence structures... particularly with complex sentences.

One of my team's goal for writing in this last unit was to get students to use more compound and complex sentences. Jumanji is LOADED with complex sentences and even better, a variety of them. I took some of my favorites and put them on little cards. Then I wrote simple sentences that matched them and printed them out on strips.

After a lot of work around what a complex sentence is, what subordinating conjunctions are a part of them and when to use them, I noticed that students struggled with identifying sentences in their own writing they could change and upgrade. Prior to the activity I did with Jumanji, we talked about the parts of a complex sentence using the chart below. I then noticed that students didn't always pick the best subordinating conjunction so we did a little sorting activity. Nothing fancy or cute, but it got them up and moving. We basically just read a bunch of examples with missing conjunctions and realized which ones sounded right and why.

To then help them take one of their simple sentences and make it stronger, we did the activity using an old mentor text. So I had students take a simple sentence and go find a matching complex sentence from Jumanji. We then discussed how Chris Van Allsburg created strong, interesting sentences. Some things we noted were the use of subordinating conjunctions to create complex sentences (and where they were placed in a sentence). Others revolved around word choice of verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.

To help students and make the art of revising a bit more fun, I created these spinners to use. They had to pick a simple sentence in their fairy tale drafts and then spin the spinner. They then had to rethink that sentence to incorporate the part of speech they landed on. I hope to practice this a bit more, as I think they are finally getting stronger in this skill.

I really wanted these beautiful spinners that the Brown Bag Teacher uses, but I didn't want to spend $25.00 on 5 spinners.

Call me cheap.

But I wanted them. So I had an idea as I was trying to find an alternative on Amazon. I ordered spinner parts where you get 8 sets for less than $7.00.  Here's how I assembled them!


1. Materials needed: Spinner Parts, Scissors, Push Pin with Grip, Laminating Pouch that has gone through the machine.

2. Cut the laminated sheet into the size you want for spinners. I got 2 squares out 1 sheet, but you could cut strips and get more out of them... you just need enough space to hold the sheet for when you spin. Hang the square half way over the table and push the push pin through the middle to make a whole. I wiggle it a bit to make it bigger to make it easier to cut.

3. Cut out a small circle. It took me 3 tries to get the right size. You need it to go over the top part of the bottom part of the spinner, but not too big that it will easily slip out.

4. Put the sheet on top of the bottom part of the spinner. Then snap the top part of the spinner into the hole and...

5. Place it on top of the circle template you want for your game or activity!

I had two different spinners on 1 piece of paper to allow for differentiation. I can't wait to make more templates now for other games and activities. The spinner pieces worked amazingly! They spin beautifully and easily as long as you snap them together correctly (which I didn't at first but figured it out quickly).

What else did I use this mentor text for? Dialogue, setting, author's craft (foreshadowing) and comparing/contrasting... because yes, we did watch the movie as well. Gotta love books that are also movies!

Looking for a great text to teach into sentence structure and so many other things as well? You can pick this one and 3 others if you win our monthly book give away! Enter now!


And you MUST go check out the other posts and books that are loaded with resources and ideas to get you through this last stretch of the school year!




Words We're Working With: Week of April 18th


Hey! I wanted to share what we've been up to this past week through the lens of words and language- because let's face it... I love language! You'll notice that I love to use post-its! They allow us to be interactive. I'll explain more for each word wall display.

We started our mystery book clubs. With that comes responsibility around our book clubs and the actual genre study. Let's first see how we tackled some of the genre vocabulary.
I put all the words that I wanted to teach into on separate post its. Then, while we discussed/reviewed the story arc, we added them to the correct part of the story where we would most likely see and use these words. After, we also added a definition. You see that there are 2 more still off the chart. They still need to be added. We are adding them when we get to them in our classroom read aloud since these are two words that are pretty challenge for my third graders. 

I broke the chart down into the story arc as well as characters, since mysteries have a lot of different kinds of characters. When we are talking about our books, we can think about what part of the book we are at and what to pay close attention to. 


We also did this mystery vocab sorting activity from McDee's Busy Bees. They worked on it with their book clubs. I then taped them inside their case file folders for them to reference.
 In writing, we've begun our fairy tale writing unit. We used traditional fairy tales to start as we thought about adaptations. My kiddos used the many read alouds (both traditional and fractured) to discuss and notice why authors change tales, what they change, and how they change.


I was so impressed with what they noticed. When we adapt ours, we will make sure that our "how" supports our "why" when picking out nouns, adjectives, and verbs.


I used Ms. D's Corner's Earth Day lessons and LOVED them! Whenever we learned a new topic, we made a mini-word wall. [I'll update this with the other mini word walls- I Just forgot to snap pictures]. Even better, we practiced using our dictionary skills to define each of these and put it into our own words.


The pictures for this poster were included with Ms. D's pack. I created the other ones just by using Google images. 

So that's some of the words we've been working with this past week! What have you been up to?


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