Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyber Monday SALE!

Who doesn't love a sale!?! It's time for the Teachers Pay Teachers annual Cyber Monday Sale! Time to stock up your classrooms and save!

If you are looking for some holiday activities for your classroom, check out my store. I have added a bunch of fun holiday projects and activities.

It's Gingerbread Baby!

If you are planning a gingerbread unit for the holidays, check out my Work, Work as Hard as You Can! It’s a Unit of Fun with theGingerbread Man!  and Area and Perimeter Gingerbread House Project.

The Gingerbread Unit includes activities for each subject area so it can be used for a day of gingerbread fun, over a couple of days, or throughout a week. This unit contains the following five activities:
  1. Search, Search as Hard as You Can! Can You Catch the Gingerbread Man- This activity is played like the game Battleship and reviews using ordered pairs.
  2. Gingerbread Story Activity- During this activity students will read different versions of the Gingerbread Man (a book list is provided to help you easily find books). They will compare the different stories, and use planning sheets to help them create their own version of this classic folktale. Gingerbread publishing papers are included.
  3. Gingerbread Man Measurement- Students will use a Gingerbread Man cut out to measure different items in the room. A recording sheet is provided for this activity along with extension activities for early finishers.
  4. Run, Run as Fast as You Can!- The students join the Gingerbread Man Capture Squad during this science experiment, and explore what happens to their pulse before, during, and after exercise.
  5. The History of the Gingerbread Man- This activity goes over the Gingerbread Man's history and has the student practice their map skills.

This Area & Perimeter Gingerbread House Project is perfect for area and perimeter review during the holiday season. Use this project while teaching to reinforce measurement skills. During this project, students are asked to create a gingerbread house for their school's winter festival. While designing their house, they will include certain design elements and find the different areas and perimeters. A rubric is included for easy grading.

This project is aligned with the Common Core Standards and gives students time to work on their project independently. Use this during math instruction and watch your students blossom!

Christmas Around the World

If you are planning a cultural celebration, check out my Christmas Around the World Packs. I have activities for the following countries; EnglandGermany, MexicoThe Netherlands, and France. Each set includes: 

  • a presentation on each country, and their holiday traditions
  • one or two crafts for each country
  • carol sing-a-longs-a passport with passport stamps
  • a recipe for a traditional dish from each country
  • a word search for each country exploring the new words learned in each lesson

If you want all of the countries listed, I have a complete Christmas Around the World Pack.

Winter Math Games and Centers

If you are looking for winter themed math products, check out my Winter Olympics Multiplication and Division Games and Centers Pack, and my Measurement Winter Olympics Activities. These packs are full of fun math activities that make learning fun!

Happy shopping and Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Challenging Little Learners

I like to offer students choices in their learning. Giving my students the freedom to make choices makes learning meaningful to them.  Every student is unique and learns differently. Some students are musicians, artists, actors, authors, scientists, or engineers. I feel as educators we sometimes forget this. It’s easy to do when you are in the school year rush desperately trying to teach all of the standards before the dreaded state tests. Districts tend to forget this too and try to make us “cookie cutter teachers.” Which is ironic. We teach differently, just like our students learn differently. What works for one teacher may not work for another. We teach through our strengths.

That being said, it’s important that we challenge all of our little learners. We need to give all of our students a chance to grow.  I don’t know about you, but every school year I always have a group of kiddos that need to be challenged. Learning comes easy for this group and they need that extra push. Over the years, I have created different activities for them to complete when they finish their work. I try to make these activities meaningful for them, so they don’t feel like I am punishing them for finishing early.  I feel like I am always looking for activities that will keep those students engaged and deepen their learning.

Over the summer, I came across some great products from MindWare. If you haven’t heard about this company, you need to check them out.  They have amazing products that get children to use their higher level thinking skills and think outside of the box. Which is perfect for my classroom!  

This year I started using the Brain Builders and PerplexorsLet me tell you, they are game changers! They are perfect for integrating STEAM skills into your classroom. The best part is that my students absolutely love using these products!  I have students asking me if they can work on these activities all of the time.

My students LOVE logic problems, so I knew that the Perplexors were a perfect fit for my classroom. My students like the mystery aspect of these problems, and I love the high-level thinking that goes on during these activities.

I like to copy the Perplexors and place them in plastic sleeves so my students can use their dry erase markers and easily erase mistakes.  
The Brain Builders are my favorite. This product is perfect for challenging your visual learners. Brain Builders get students to change the way they look at solving a problem and are a great interactive STEM tool. Each Brain Builder set comes with 20 KEVA planks and a set of double-sided puzzle cards. The puzzles cards have a 2-D challenge on one side and its solution on the other side. When students are completing these tasks, they have to recreate 2D patterns into 3D structures. This is perfect for your visual learners! The 2-D cards show the design from different angles to challenge the students to see things differently. These activities are a perfect addition to any STEM-focused lesson.

When I first started using these products, I had the activities set up in stations throughout the room. Then I did a quick mini-lesson to demonstrate procedures and expectations. When I felt like my students understood these activities, I had them work with partners and complete center rotations. I wanted to make sure that each student felt comfortable with these activities so I could use them throughout the school year.  Now that the students are comfortable with these tools, I use them for early finisher work and problem-solving centers. I feel like these products help teach valuable learning skills for the next generation of learners.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Best Year Ever Bonus Sale & TpT Gift Card Giveaway!

If you missed the Best Year Ever Sale, you are in luck! On August 22nd TpT is having the Best Year Ever Sale part two! I'm giving away a $10 TpT gift card for your back to school goodies. This giveaway is for one day only so you can enjoy the sale. Use the Rafflecopter link below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! Now go load up your wishlists and get ready to shop for an amazing school year. Happy shopping!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Stock Up During the TpT Best Year Ever Sale!

It's time to load up your wishlists, and stock up your classroom! It's time for the annual TpT back to school sale. I love this sale! I have a bunch of great products in my wishlist ready to go for August 1st. I also have some great products in my store to make going back to school much easier.

If you are looking for easy to use writing centers for upper elementary students,check out my Write 'N' Roll Writing Centers. These centers are aligned with the CCSS and cover the four main types of writing; descriptive, persuasive, expository, and narrative. To do these centers, your students just need to write and roll!

This pack has 21 different centers that focus on the following skills...

-Writing a Paragraph
-Story Starters
-Vivid Vocabulary
-Writing a Friendly Letter
-Narrative Writing
-Writing a Personal Narrative
-Persuasive Writing
-Tall Tales
-Fairy Tales
-Opinion Writing
-Expository Writing- How-To Writing
-Descriptive Writing
-Informative Writing
-Creating Comics Using Figurative Language
-Informative Writing-Writing a Newspaper Article
-Persuasive Writing- Writing a Speech
-Writing a Book Review
-Play Writing
-Song Writing

If you are looking for some fun centers for your writing time, feel free to check them out! You can download a sample center on fairy tales for free here

If you are looking for early finisher activities, check out my Early Finisher Activity LotusThis product includes 32 weeks of early finisher work. Each week is set up as a lotus diagram and includes 8 activities. The activities are designed to meet the needs of diverse learners. This product was designed to take up minimal space in the classroom and use few supplies. All you need to do is print, display, and you are ready to go! 

Choice boards are one of my favorite learning tools. They challenge students and offer them a choice in their learning. I have to yearlong sets for both reading and math.

I hope you have a great school year! Now get your wishlists ready!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Back to School Gift Ideas

I like to give gifts to my students and coworkers at the beginning of the school year. This year I found two cute ideas that didn't break the bank! My husband will thank me later :-). 

For my students, I made these cute glow stick cards for Meet the Teacher Night. You can get a pack of 5 glow stick bracelets at Party City for $.99! I was able to get a present for all of my students for only $6! Which means more money for classroom supplies! Woo hoo! You can get these Glow and Grow Back to School cards for free at my TpT store. I made cards for kindergarten through fifth grade. Enjoy!

You can get these bracelets in tons of different colors at Party City!

I wanted to give my team something they could use. Maybe it's just the southern girl in me, but I think that thank you notes are a must! I found these adorable monogrammed thank you notes from the Christmas Tree Shop for $1 a pack. Each pack has ten cards to use during the school year.

I made labels for the cards using my Burlap and Barnwood Editable Classroom Decor labels. I think they turned out pretty cute. I can't wait to give them to my team on our first day back!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Organizing Your Classroom Library

I am loving my new classroom library!  I spent a bunch of time reorganizing my books at the end of the school year and giving my library a much-needed makeover! The best part is that this makeover didn't break the bank. I found these awesome clear tubs at the Dollar Tree. They are long and perfect for holding both chapter and picture books. I had to buy 26 tubs for my library, so I only spent $26! Woo hoo! I love a great deal!

Then I organized my books by genre. I know that there are many different ways to organize your library, but this seems to be the way that works best for me in my classroom. When I conference with my students I find out what genres they like to read. Organizing by genre helps me easily recommend new books for them to try.

I have a bunch of bright colors in my classroom, so I made these bright chalkboard labels for my book baskets. All of the fiction genres are marked in green and the nonfiction genres are marked in blue. I printed the labels out and used clear packing tape to attach them to each basket. For extra organization, I placed color coding dot stickers on each book to help students remember where they need to return their books. For example, fiction books have green color coding labels and nonfiction books have blue color coding labels. On each label, I wrote a short abbreviation for each genre and placed the same color coding sticker on my book basket. Here is the list of codes I used for each genre:

Fiction Labels (green) 
- Historical Fiction- HF  
- Family & Friends- FF
- Realistic Fiction- RF  
- Graphic Novels- GN
- Poetry- P  
- Animal & Human Relationships- AH
- Fairy Tales- FT 
- Legends- L  
- Tall Tales- TT 
- Mystery- M 
- Fantasy- F 
- Myths- My 
- Holiday Books- HB 
- Sports- S
- Scary Stories- SS
- Humorous- H
- Action & Adventure- A
- Animal Characters- AC

Nonfiction Labels (blue)  
- Social Studies- SS
- Science- S 
- Biographies- B 
- Math- M     
- Holiday Books- HB

You can find these dot stickers at any office supply store.  I found mine at Staples.
We spend a bunch of time learning about genres at the beginning of the school year. I have a bulletin board right next to my library so I created genre anchor charts to help my students remember each genre. The anchor charts have the same bright chalkboard theme to match the book basket labels. You can get these labels and anchor charts from my TpT store here.

What tips and tricks do you have for organizing your classroom library?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Light Up Your School Year With a Lightbox Giveaway!

I just got a Heidi Swapp Lightbox, and I'm in LOVE! I can't wait to put my Lightbox to use in my classroom. I've been busy thinking about all of the quotes I can use to motivate my students throughout the year. It's so much fun!

You can purchase kits from Heidi Swapp to make your Lightbox your own, or you can use vellum paper to print your own. In the picture above, I used vellum paper to print a sign for my class theme.

Now who's ready for a giveaway!?! I'm giving away one Heidi Swapp Lightbox to a lucky reader. This giveaway ends on July 23, 2016. So, go to the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win and light up your school year!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Two Books Every Teacher Needs to Read

Teaching is not an easy profession. During the school year, you are so many different things to your students; a parent, nurse, counselor, leader, role model, listener, data analyst, and above all teacher. You want to change the world, but it can wear you out! During the year you can get so wrapped up in your job that you sometimes forget to take care of yourself. Stop, breathe, and take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be all the things you need to be for your students. 

In an effort to take better care of myself, I stumbled upon two amazing books; Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Daring Greatly by BrenĂ© Browne. These books have absolutely nothing to do with education, but speak to your inner teacher. They give you the strength you sometimes need to survive this profession. 

Teaching is a creative profession. Teachers are some of the most creative people I have ever met. Meeting all of the educational needs of your students takes a bunch of creativity. Unfortunately during our career, some people try to take away our creativity.  I have seen too many AMAZING teachers leave the profession because they felt like their creativity wasn’t acknowledged. To be totally honest, I’m sure that we have all felt like that at times. 

One day I was feeling the creativity drain and stumbled upon the "Magic Lessons" podcasts by Elizabeth Gilbert. I don’t want to be dramatic, but it was like everything she was saying was speaking to my soul. I was so inspired by her podcasts that I read her book Big Magic. The book did not disappoint. If you ever feel like you are in a creative rut, you need to read this book. Big Magic helped me overcome my creative obstacles.  

Teachers are leaders, and all leaders need the courage to be vulnerable. I stumbled upon BrenĂ© Browne while watching her TED talk on vulnerability. If you haven’t watched this talk, you need to. It will change your outlook on life. After watching her talk, I was inspired to read her book Daring Greatly. This book will completely change the way you interact with people. In this book she explores vulnerability, how people handle their vulnerabilities, and how understanding your own and other’s vulnerabilities will help you become a more effective person. This book is one of my absolute favorites. I think that all teachers should read this book to better understand each another and their students. 

These two books have helped me deal with the challenges the teaching profession can bring, and changed they way I look at problems. Read these books, they will change you.