Classroom Reveal 2014

2 weeks ago I walked in to my new classroom for the first time.. and man was it BARE!
There was very little on the walls and in the cabinets and 
I knew that I had a lot of work to do before the first day of school!

Here are some BEFORE shots:

 I took a lot of before photos but I won't bore you with too many.

Here are the AFTER photos!

The view from the door.

My SMARTboard and computer.

View from the front of the room.
I learned about the removable word wall and it was one of my favourite things in my classroom last year so I had to recreate it in my new classroom! I spent a small fortune on velcro.. but it's going to be worth it!

The word wall alphabet are a freebie from Little Minds at Work.
You can find them here.

My alphabet, daily schedule and book boxes.
Levelled books and manipulatives underneath.

I'm in love with my birthday board from Glue Sticks & Crayons!
You can find it here

Wonder wall for inquiries.
The kids' cubbies.

The number line is from Cara Carroll (love her stuff!)
You can find it here.

The sand/water table is on the left and the easle is tucked in between the sink and the cabinet.  We are not opening these yet and will slowly introduce these centres.

My environmental print wall is not finished.  But that's ok.
I have a morning EA and I'm hoping I can get her to help me cut them out
and tape them as the week goes on.

Colour posters are from Abby's "Color Me Kindergarten" pack.
You can find it here.

I will display the students "writing" on our Wow Work! Wall.
I just got two new students today so their names are still missing.
It's on my to-do list this weekend!

And this is my table for guided groups.

I have these amazing tubs to organize my manipulatives in.
I took a picture of the inside of each bin and made labels.
If you want them they are a freebie on TpT!
To see them click here.

Here is a close-up.

That's it!
I still have some finishing touches to do but for the most part I think it's ready!

This was the first time I had to do so much to get a classroom ready!
We start on Tuesday.
I hope the kids love it!


What I love to teach: WRITING!

Today is the last day of the Blog Hoppin' Back to School Linky and the topic is:

What do you love to teach?

I love to teach writing but it can be super tricky in the beginning of the year.

Most of my JK's come in without being able to write their name and the whole class usually needs A LOT of support.  Today I'm going to share one thing I do so that I'm not running around like a chicken with it's head cut off during writing time!


Last year I spent 30 minutes on writing.  

We spent:

5 minutes reading the prompt and think-pair-sharing
20 minutes writing
5 minutes sharing

So you might have guessed that some of the students wouldn't be close to
writing for 20 minutes, especially at the beginning of the year.
This was especially true for the students who could yet write their name.
So during writing time, their first job was to do their name tracing practice.

Students trace their name on the front and try their best to print their name on the back.  We use washable markers.  When they are done a teacher looks it over and if it is good we give them a wet rag to wipe it off.

Once they returned their cleaned name printing sheets they are given their journal and they draw a picture in their journal (adding labels if possible).

I don't have any pictures of the name tracing practice pages that I used last year so I made a freebie!

Click on the cover below to download it!

It is editable so you can add your student's name.
Be sure to download and install these 3 fonts by clicking on the font names below before you download the freebie so the traceable font shows up properly!

I laminate these and the students use a washable marker to practice their names.

After me or my ECE checks their work they get a wet cloth from us and they get to erase it and return the sheet.

Favourite Writing Resources:

Crystal from Kreative in Kinder has great blog posts on Writer's Workshop!
It is a MUST read!

Here is a link to the post about labeling and writer's workshop.
If you click on the "writer's workshop" tag at the bottom of her post
you can read all of her writer's workshop posts!


I am super excited about using Cara's Work on Writing Bundle this year!
I was an editor for her Back to School Edition and I was immediately hooked!
It is intended for first grade but there are lots of kinder friendly options.
And it's going to be like Christmas every month as a new pack will be added every month as the year goes on!  Click on the images above to check out the Year Long Bundle!

What are your favourite resources for Kindergarten writing?

Organization: A Full Year Calendar Freebie

It is day 3 of Blog Hoppin's Back to School Linky and today's topic is organization.

I try to stay organized but to be honest it takes a lot of effort.
I can use all the help I can get!

One way I keep myself organized is by making my own calendar and typing/writing
in all the days I already know will happen this school year before school starts.
That includes holidays, no school days, PD days, holidays we celebrate in the classroom etc.
That way I (almost) never forget special events and meetings!

Another thing I added this year is the "Big Ideas" column on the right.
I did this last year but I was constantly just writing it in by hand.
This way I can jot it in at the beginning of the month and it will help me plan.

I am going to print these calendars, hole punch them and put them in my teacher planner
so that I can quickly flip to it during the day

I'm offering these calendars for free!
They are August 2014 - June 2015.
I made them in black and white so it is nice and ink friendly :)

Click on the picture below to download the freebie!

Hope you can use it!

How do you stay organized?

Teacher Week: "All About Miss Naka" Book

This is the first year I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' and their Back to School 2014 Linky Party.  
I look forward to these every year!

Monday's topic is "Who".

First here is a little about me:

"10 Things About Me" template from Step Into Second Grade

This year, I wanted my kinders to know who I was right from the beginning!
I got the idea to make an "All About Miss Naka" book from Sarah at Yeehaw! Teaching in TEXAS.

I saw her All About Miss Taylor book about 2 years ago and finally crossed it off my to do list!  
To see her version click here.

And here is mine!

These are the pages I made for the inside

I made the pages in powerpoint, printed them out and put them in sheet protectors.

I'm hoping the kids will love it!

*I made this file editable and posted it to TpT! 
If you are interested click on the picture below!*

Have you ever made an "All About The Teacher" book?

Getting a Teaching Job: My Teaching Portfolio

This is my second post in my "Getting a Teaching Job" series!

Today I am sharing one of my favourite interview tools..
The teaching portfolio!

I am a LTO teacher.
This means that I have to interview for a new position every time my contract ends.
This year I have a contract for the whole school year but it will end in June 2015.

Then I will be back to interviewing for positions for the next school year!

Now I know there are mixed feelings about teaching portfolio's.
But I am all for them.

Here's are some reasons why:

1. It helps you reflect

I usually update my porfolio at the beginning of July (or whenever I finish a contract).
This allows me to reflect on things that went well that year.
I find it's like making a cheat sheet.
The process of making it helps you remember all the points that I will
want to talk about in my interview.

2.  Pictures speak a thousand words

Principals won't always want to see your portfolio.
But if you can integrate your portolio into your answers 
the pictures can clarify what you are talking about.

That being said, try to think of what kind of quesions principals might ask
and anticipate some pictures you could show.

Below I listed the pages I include in my teaching portfolio.

How I Use It:

I bring my portfolio with me and bring it in with me when they call my name.
Then I set it on the table so it is visible to the interviewer.
This way they are more likely to ask you to see your portfolio
and you have easy access when you want to reference any pictures in your answers.

A Peek Inside

Here are some pictures of the inside of my teaching portfolio!

I put a copy of the resume and cover letter I originally sent 
to take with me to the interview in the front inside pocket.
I also clip my business card that I've had since my supply teaching days.
When I was just starting to interview for positions I always mentioned that I would love to come
back to the school to supply and give them my business card at the end of the interview.

I also stick a thank you card in the inside pocket.
I always write a quick thank you note to whoever interviewed me after my interview.
I write it in the office after my interview and usually leave it with the secretary.
If I forget or the secretary is not there, I will send the principal a quick thank you e-mail instead.

My boyfriend thinks this is overkill
but I have been pretty successful with this strategy and it only takes a few minutes!

I create my pages in PowerPoint, print them out and stick them in sheet protectors.
That way it is really easy to reorder or add pages if needed.

One time a principal asked me to talk about a lesson that went well.
I talked about a lesson I did in teacher's college but talked about something that
I would change for next time as well even though the lesson went well.

After the interview he told me that he really liked how I was thinking of next steps
because it shows that I am a reflective teacher who is always looking to improve.

So I added some next steps in some of my categories so I can talk about
some things I want to try implementing.


I've heard some teachers using iPads or laptops and sharing their digital portfolio in interviews.
While I think that it is a great idea and you could show off how tech savy you are
(something a lot of boards are looking for)
I like the convienince of having it in a binder.
If I get an iPad though I might consider trying out a digital portfolio!

I hope this post is useful for anyone thinking of making their own teaching portfolio.

Do you have a teaching portfolio?

Do you include anything I don't?

*I now have an editable version of my teaching portfolio and a full sample available in my TPT store. Click here if you are interested in checking it out!*


Primary Polka Dot Teacher Toolbox

Last week I finally went out and bought materials to make my teacher tool box! 
I have been wanting one of these for about 2 years and finally purchased the organizer.  

The one I bought is the Stack-On 22 Drawer Storage Cabinet from Lowes.  
If you are looking for the same one, you can also find it online here: 

Here is the finished product!

These labels were the first items I posted in my TpT shop! 
The non-editable ones are free.
You can get them by clicking on the button below.

The editable version is $2.00.  Click on the cover to see it on TpT!

Have you made a Teacher Toolbox before?

If you have a blog post about your Teacher Toolbox leave the link in the comments!

I love checking out other people's toolboxes!


Getting a Teaching Job: My Road to a LTO

In Ontario, Canada teaching jobs are very scarce.

This is my first post in my "Getting a Job Teaching" series.

I often see many new graduates asking for advice on
how to better their chances for getting on school boards.
I am no expert by any means but I was invited for an interview
with my school board just 5 months after I recieved my OCT.

So below are some tips and suggestions for getting that elusive supply list and LTO interviews!

First here is a timeline of my last day of teacher's college to landing my first LTO.


1. Volunteer

Now I understand that not everyone has the luxury to volunteer as often as I did,
but I truly believe that it was one of the things that 
got me an interview with my board so quickly.

Volunteering is great because it helps you build connections with teachers
and administration and you stay in the loop about current board initiatives.
Also if your board allows admin and teachers to request supply teachers it can be 
great when you do get on the supply list because the admin will request you 
and you will already know the location and the majority of the kids at the school!

2. Apply to the supply list EVERY month

Some teachers I know told me they applied every month 
AND called the school board to ask about their application.
I didn't do that but did send my resume and cover letter by email every month.
I hear that if you apply every month your resume will always be near the top
and you are more likely to get an interview when it does come time to interview.

3. Keep your resume current

Make sure you update your resume often so it is always ready!
Also if you are not confident about your grammar or spelling
ask a friend or a teacher you know to read it over.

The "Teach In Ontario" website has a great section on writing your
resume and cover letter.  I used it as a guideline when I made mine.
Click on the link to check it out.

Here is what my resume and cover letter look like.
(This is just so you can see a template, the information is obviously not real lol)


1. Do a good job every time when you are supply teaching.
This includes things like going to the school a little early whenever possible,
executing the lessons plans left as closely as you can
and leaving the room neat and tidy at the end of the day.
I also always leave a detailed note about how the day went.
I will do another post about supply teaching tips and come back to link it here.

2. Keep up your Professional Development

And AQ's are not the be all end all!
*I did NOT have any AQ's on my resume before I landed my first LTO*

If you can't afford AQ's then take some free PD.
There are usually lots on PD Place.
Or I took the TRIBES Training before I got my first LTO.
I took it because I wanted to do some PD that summer but couldn't quite afford an AQ.

3. Make and bring a teaching portfolio

This is not a must and not all admin will ask to see this but it is good to have on hand.
It is best if you can incorporate it into your interview answers so think about
what kind of questions they might ask, think about your answers and then include 
lots of pictures that help demonstrate your answer.

The pages in my teaching portfolio are:

To read about my portfolio in more detail click here.


These are some common tips that I hear often from 
other teachers and administration to help you get an interview.

1. Get qualified in 3 divisions.

If you are P/J, get your I.  If you are J/I, get you P!
I only have P/J but I hear many boards, 
especially the ones that are very competitive 
won't even interview you unless you have a third division.

2. Do AQ's that are a board focus.

For example my board has been focusing on Math for a few years
so I took the P/J Math Part 1 AQ this summer.

Ask teachers or administration you know and find out what your board is focusing on!
You might also be able to download your board's BIP (Board Improvement Plan)
and read about the board's focus there.

An AQ that always comes up when talking about useful ones to have 
is the Special Education AQ.

*Again these are just some advice I have come across or that has worked for me.
I cannot guarantee that doing the above will work for everybody.

Good luck!