January Brain Boxes are finished and uploaded to my TpT store! Today is the last day of my “End of the Year Sale,” so pick up January Brain Boxes for 15% off! If you haven’t used Brain Boxes as a “fun when you are done,” activity and want to learn more about them you can check out my blog post here. Check out January Brain Boxes by clicking on the picture above. Don’t forget to download the free answer document (click here to get it). Get your January Brain Boxes and anything else in my store for 15% off! Today is the last day of the sale! Happy New Year everyone!
I feel just awful about neglecting blog world. I have awoken from my mini hibernation and am energized and ready to go! 10 years ago, when I went back to teaching after being home with my girls for 5 years, one of my co-workers told me that I would be so exhausted I would sleep my entire break. Of course, I didn’t believe her. Then, break came and guess what I did….yep, I slept my whole break away. It is so tempting to fill up our days running around, but I think it is important to remember to rest so that we can go back and start the second half of the year with a renewed energy and sense of purpose.
Speaking of purpose, if I ever needed a reminder of why I love my job so much, I received a whole book of them from my class for Christmas. Again this year I was incredibly blessed. One of the moms in my room organized an amazing class gift and had the students all write a page in a cute little mitten book that she made.
This one just melted my heart.
This one made me proud. I have been working hard with this kiddo on silent final e. I will forever have a reminder that I just might be getting through to him!
This one made me laugh so hard!
I am so very blessed to have a job that I love. Every day that I wake up and go to school I feel that I am exactly where God called me to be.
I have also been working on some new stuff for my TpT store in the moments I haven’t been sleeping, cleaning, or shopping! To kick off the new year I am having a little sale in my shop. Everything is 15% off through New Year’s Eve. If you have had your eye on something, now would be a good time to grab it!
Here is one of the new products I have been working on. There will be more to come in the next few days!
When we get back from break we will be doing a little review of author’s purpose. I can’t wait to make the cute anchor chart I saw on pinterest. You can check it out here. Then we will use these task cards for some more review. Not sure how exactly I will use them yet, they are so versatile and there are so many options! I have included 2 pages of ideas for using the cards in the packet. Now I just need to decide!
This is exactly how I feel right now. I am trying ( and I feel like failing) to be super teacher, mom, and basketball coach’s wife right now. Not to mention, shop, decorate and prepare for Christmas. My life is C.R.A.Z.Y. In all caps. That feeling kind of inspired my latest product for my TpT store. This week’s skill in reading and writing is compare and contrast. So, here it is…..comparing and contrasting, 3 ring circus style. We started off our writing time today by getting a partner, randomly (yet in some cases strategically) picked by yours truly. I wanted them to get to know someone they might not ordinarily talk to. It turned out to be a GREAT thing. I found this gem in my turn in basket. Notice how in the middle of the Venn diagram it says, “I don’t like thise.” There is, of course, a story that goes with it. Two actually! First story. I happen to work with this kiddos mom. She called me after school to tell me that her son told her about this writing project they worked on in class. He said, “Mom, I wrote ‘I don’t like this’ on the front of the paper. But then, I kind of starting liking it and I forgot to erase it before I turned it in!” Gotta love their honest feedback of my hard work! Story 2: This same kiddo was working with his partner and they could not come up with anything that they had in common. I tried to give them some help. “You both have a parent that works at our school,” I said, “You could use that.” The young man then looked long and hard at his partner and said, “You have a parent that works here, I never knew that.” “Yes, her dad works at the school, think about who her dad might be.” Blank Stare “He teaches your P.E. class.” “Oh, that’s why you have the same last name. Hey, I bet you love PE too. That is something else we have in common!” This is why I love my job. They keep me laughing all day long! The venn diagram foldable and writing activities can be found in my circus themed Compare and Contrast pack. It also includes informational text to read and then write a compare/contrast paragraph about, along with other compare/contrast reading activities. All of the activities are common core aligned. Check it out (here) and let me know what you think. I will give away a FREE copy of it to my first follower who comments. I will also give a free copy to my first NEW follower. Just leave me your email in the comments! Happy Monday!
Our writing skill for the week was writing an explanatory paragraph. In the past, I have done “How to Make S’mores,” but we already did that this year with our Earth’s Layers S’mores. I have done, “How to Blow a Bubble,” which I love but so did a second grade teacher on my campus last year and I have 7 of her former kiddos. So, I was trying to find a fun idea that we could write directions for. I finally came up with this……
I saw a few things online, but of course I had to make it my own with this adorable scrappin doodle reindeer and a prewriting foldable! ( I LOVE foldables!)
Click on the pic above to download it for FREE!
I wanted my students to experience actually wrapping a gift before they tried writing directions for doing it. I wanted it to be an authentic experience. I also remembered reading blog posts last year about “Random Acts of Christmas Kindness,” so I thought why not combine the ideas and have them wrap a gift to give away. The big question became how to get gifts for them to wrap.
I have this amazing family this year and they are always asking what I need help with and if I need any supplies for my classroom (I am so very blessed!). They also happen to own a candy company here in town and they make the best candies! So, I emailed my rather large request and was so excited when I got a yes back! Thank you so much Cerreta’s for supporting our learning!
On Monday afternoon as we packed to go home I left my kiddos with this…..”Tomorrow we will begin something fun and exciting in writing….it involves candy and wrapping paper. Be here tomorrow if you want to find out about it!” They hate when I do that to them, but they are always so excited to come to school the next day!
We began our writing time the next day by wrapping our gifts. They were a little bummed to learn that the yummy Cerreta’s candy was not for them but they were so excited about the “Random Acts of Christmas Kindness,” idea.
These are our cute little Cerreta’s snowman boxes with our yummy chocolates inside.
After wrapping the gifts, we taped the “Random Acts of Kindness,” note to the front. The notes are included in the FREE download of my “How to Wrap a Present,” pack. Then we brainstormed people that we could share our gift with. They came back to school the next day so excited to share with us who they gave their present to. Our gifts were given away to a bus driver, a police officer, a worker at Chick-Fil-A, the lady working the checkout lane at the grocery store, a neighbor brand new to the neighborhood and the list goes on! They were so excited to be able to spread some Christmas cheer.
We then used the foldables we made to write down all of the steps that we took to wrap our present. The last step was taking those steps and writing them in paragraph form. I have to say that I think the lesson was a hit, they are still talking about it! And, I think that some moms will have more help wrapping gifts this year now that they are “experts,” at it!
I am so excited to be a part of the HUGE Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday + Tuesday sale! Everything in my store will be 20% off and TpT is offering a promo code to take an extra percentage off! Check it out and fill up your cart….now is the time to stock up!
I am also excited to announce that I finished my Christmas Literacy Centers just in time to get them uploaded to my store for the big sale! All 6 centers are common core aligned. Check them out and get them while they are on sale!
In other exciting blogland news, I woke up this morning to find 2 emails saying I have been nominated for a new blogger award! The hardest part of being new to blogging is getting yourself out there. Blogging is so much more fun when people are reading your blog and commenting. I love meeting other teachers who share my love and passion for teaching! So, thank you to Lindsey and Kathy for nominating me!
The Liebster Blog Award is given to up and coming bloggers by established bloggers (less than 200 followers), in order to recognize them, let them know that they are appreciated, and to spread the word about new blogs. The rules are:
You must post 11 random things about yourself.
Answer the questions that the nominators set for you.
Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
Choose 11 blogs you love (with less than 200 followers) and link them in your post.
No tag back, (but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so that I can learn more about you!)
So, here it goes…..11 Random Things About Me….
1. Feeding my family is a crazy thing. My husband, youngest daughter and I are all gluten free and my oldest daughter is vegetarian. Meals in our house are an adventure!
2. I LOVE reality TV. I wish that I didn’t, I am slightly embarrassed that I do, but it is what it is!
3. I think that the best part of waking up in the morning is drinking my coffee. I tried giving up coffee a few years ago. I decided that I really enjoy sitting down in the morning, enjoying a cup (or three!), and catching up on social media and emails.
4. I have a love/hate relationship with shopping. I love wearing new clothes but I hate shopping for them. I can never find anything that matches the picture I saw on Pinterest and now have in my mind!
5. I am the oldest of 3 girls in my family and we all teach…..I find that so interesting!
6. I am a Dance Mom….but not one of THOSE dance moms!
7. I love to kickbox. That is where you will find me most Monday nights….so if you ever meet me in a dark alley, don’t mess with me!
8. I think I am the only adult I know who does not own a smartphone. Hoping to fix that soon!
9. I used to be painfully shy…even into adulthood. I credit my husband for helping me break out of my shell.
10. My all time favorite movie is The Princess Bride
11. My family can quote just about every line from the movie Tommy Boy.
Here are the 11 questions Kathy asked me:
1. What is a recipe that you are famous for making?
Lately, it is my Southwest Quinoa Salad. If we have a BBQ to go to it is usually my Corn and Frito Salad. (Both recipes are gluten free and vegetarian!)
2. Why did you start a blog?
I started a blog because I was obsessed with a few teaching blogs I found and I thought it looked fun. I also love to share what I am doing in the classroom and it is a great way to meet other professionals and to keep parents and my own family up to date! I am having so much fun with it!
3. What is your favorite subject to teach?
I love teaching math. I think it is because I struggled so much with math when I was young. I love helping kiddos get over their mental block of thinking they are not good at math.
4. What is a favorite website that you use with your students?
Oh.My.Goodness. I am still learning about some of the great apps that are out there. My school just opened an ipad lab for k-4th grades this year. We get to take our classes once a week. There are so many amazing things you can do on those things! As far as a website, my students love to practice for spelling on SpellingCity!
5. What is the hardest thing about teaching?
Balancing school life and family life. I always want to be doing more for my students. The most important thing I have learned over the last 10 years is that I have to have a point at which I am going to be done and then I need to leave and go home and be mom. I work like crazy during the day, grading during any free second and I try to stay focused during my prep time so that I don’t have to stay too late!
6. If you could go anywhere, where would you go?
My husband and I have a list of college basketball teams that we would love to see play in their home arena. My husband is a basketball coach and I have learned to love the game!
7. Describe in a sentence or two, your ideal classroom?
My ideal environment is one that is positive and where kids feel safe enough and confident enough to try something new and make a few mistakes along the way.
8. What is a favorite teaching theme or bulletin board idea that you've used?
This year I changed my classroom theme. It is just black, white and red but I think my room looks very clean and classy.
9. Who is your favorite music artist?
Right now I am loving Taylor Swift. The girl is genius. She can take the most ordinary thing and make a fun song about it!
10. What is your morning poison? (i.e., coffee, tea, sugar, etc.).
Coffee. Hands down.
11. If money were no object, what one thing would you buy for yourself? For your classroom?
For myself, new furniture for every room in my house. Between the kids and my dogs it is time!
For my classroom, ipads and apple tv. Crazy the things you can do!
Here are the 11 questions for the blogs I am nominating: (Lindsey, since I didn’t get to answer yours I am passing them along!) 1. Why did you want to be a teacher? 2. What is your favorite subject to teach? 3. What's your favorite thing to do on your days off? 4. How does your grade level plan together? 5. What is your favorite blog for inspiration? 6. What are you afraid of? 7. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? 8. What is one teaching area you are working on improving this year? 9. What is your favorite vacation spot? 10. How long do you spend getting ready for work in the morning? 11. Do you pack a lunch or buy?
Okay…so I am a TOTAL rule follower and this is killing me…..but as I look around I am having THE WORST time finding 11 blogs that haven’t already been nominated! I guess that is a good thing. So, 7 rhymes with 11. IfI find more, I promise to add them to this post! I love that this is a way to get ourselves out there and maybe get some more people to check out our blogs! Thank you ladies for nominating me!
I just wanted to take a moment to wish all of those who have served or are currently serving our country a Happy Veteran’s Day! I come from a family full of Veterans and couldn’t be prouder of them and of all of our military personnel. Our NJHS at school sponsored a Veteran’s Day Breakfast on Friday and every year I am so moved by the sacrifices that so many are willing to make to protect our amazing country. This evening I am linking up for a “teaching tip,” linky party. You can click on the button below to go to Miss Kindergarten’s blog. Tip #1 I use secret codes in my room for just about everything. My kiddos love pretending that they are super secret agents when they are using their codes! Hey, anything to entertain them, right? Anyways…. 1 finger in the air means “I have something super important to say.” Two fingers in the air means, “I have to use the bathroom.” This signal is great because I never have to be interrupted during small groups, when I am progress monitoring, or working with a student. If I don’t see them from their seat they walk over to my small group table, flash me the signal, and I nod my head and they leave. Three fingers in the air is our “911,” it means, “I need help!” Students use this one when they are working independently and they can’t move on without help from me. Finally, holding their pencil in the air means that they need to trade in their pencil. Tip #2….”Show Me Boards” Each year before school starts I make a quick trip to Home Depot for individual whiteboards for my students. It costs about $14.00 for the large piece of board. Home Depot will then cut it into individual boards for teachers! Whenever I need to do a quick check for understanding, I will have my students answer a question, do a problem, etc… on their “show me board.” They tip the board on their lap and lean it on the edge of their desk so their neighbor can’t easily copy. After giving them plenty of think time, I count to three (we do this in various languages and they love it!) and say, “show me!” They all hold up their boards and I can see quickly who might need extra practice, who needs to be pulled for small group, and who is just not sure at all! Okay, lastly….Common Core. I know most of you have probably been here for a while, but my district is finally adopting them and I couldn’t be more excited! There are, of course, the grumblings from some about change, but I have found that most of the standards are things that we already do. I am excited to have more time to teach concepts with more depth. As I was reading through all of the standards, the speaking and listening standards really caught my eye. Several years ago at my school, we began working on teaching our students how to effectively dialogue and have conversations about their learning. I have compiled a lot of things that I have created over the years and put them together in this resource pack. The best part is that once students learn how to dialogue effectively you can use this across content areas. It helps them deepen their understanding of topics and you know as well as I do how much they LOVE to talk to each other! I’m off to watch Disney Channel with my girls, (I love that they are just about teenagers and still love to watch Disney shows!) No school tomorrow so we get to stay up a little later! Happy Veteran’s Day everyone!
I overheard the teacher across the hall from me tell a student a few weeks ago that November 1st marked the day that it would finally start cooling off here in the desert. Well, November 1st has come and gone and it isn’t exactly cool, still had to turn on the a/c in the car while I was grocery shopping. Hopefully it will get there soon. There are so many things that I have to be thankful for this November. I am happy that I can link up with Farley again for this month’s Currently. So here it is……
I am also thankful for the wonderful new blogs I have discovered and for the people who have discovered my little blog. I love that we can all share ideas and learn from each other.
I am thankful that I finally finished my Thanksgiving literacy centers! My kiddos had so much with the Halloween ones and have been asking if we were going to have Thanksgiving centers.
Oh.My.Goodness….You have to check out these pumpkins. Yesterday was the day that the character pumpkins were due. We finished writing our character descriptions and set them all up for display. Other classes, parents, and administration came to tour our amazingness. I was blown away by the creativity. I love projects like this because even the kiddos who chose the same character did it so differently.
I love them all! I will for sure be doing this project again next year. The kids loved it and I even had a few parents tell me that it was a pretty easy and inexpensive project!
In case you missed the free download, here is the link one more time. You can download it and hang on to it for next year!
I have said for years now that the day after Halloween should be a day off from school. With the sugar comas and lack of sleep it makes for a pretty unproductive day. Well, it seems that someone high up half listened to me, because today is a half day for us. We are sending the kiddos home at lunch time today. So, no checking lunch boxes for tons of smuggled candy! Yea for half days! Hope everyone in teacher blog land survives the sugar crash!