Monday, August 26, 2013

first day

The first day is over and I survived.

I was so very nervous because I was unusually behind this year. And I changed grade levels. And my own children each started a new school ~ one middle school and one high school. Talk about heart wrenching.

We had rainy day schedule.

On the first day of school!

Not fair.

My class is pretty sweet. I'm already liking the fact that I moved to 3rd grade. Right now my husband is dancing the I-told-you-so cha cha.

I had a nap when I got home. And I'm ready for bed kinda early.

That's all for now.  Pictures to come.


Saturday, August 17, 2013

back to school sale

It's time for the TpT back to school sale. I've been putting lots of items on my wish list and waiting not so patiently for this sale! Since I am changing grade levels I need to beef up my pool of resources.

On August 18 & 19 you can get 20% off all the products in my shop. Enter the code BTS13 at checkout for an additional 10% off from TpT.  That comes to 28% off the original price!

And just for you, I've extended the sale in my shop for a third day. But if you want the biggest discount, shop early.


Monday, August 5, 2013

parent communication

I went to school today to shove furniture around. 

This is what greeted me when I opened the door.

Hello stuff.

This room is different shape than my room last year so I had to do some figuring out and extra furniture manhandling to figure out where I wanted to put things. Our rooms are so, so small!

Today I managed to finish moving the furniture around (I think), but there's still so much more work to do. That's for another day. I couldn't take the heat any longer ~ no air in our building yet.

I recently came across a parent communication tool that I think is going to be really helpful this year.

It's called Remind 101. Using this free website/app you can send parents text/email messages. I know what you are thinking ~ you don't want parents to have your cell phone number. No worries, they never see your number and you never see theirs. 

From time to time a Monday rolls around and passes that I don't manage to get the homework packet copied and stapled. In these cases I tell the kids their homework is to read a little extra for the night. With Remind 101, I can send a quick message letting parents know not to expect a homework packet that night. 

I can remind parents about book orders that are due or other special events in our room. 

It's super easy to use. You can even schedule future message to be sent. You can use the computer or your phone to send the message. 

At our Meet the Teacher before school starts I'm going to give the parents our class code so they can sign up to get messages right away. My first message will be the night before school starts letting the kids know how excited I am for school to start (I'm working into that attitude.)

I think this is going to be a great parent communication tool.


Monday, July 29, 2013

math tub labels freebie

Last year was the first year that I organized math centers into tubs. Before the centers were in folders or envelopes and the kids were responsible for getting all the supplies necessary for the center. Why didn't I use tubs before?! It was so much better!

The only thing I didn't really love was the fact that they were a little bigger than they needed to be and didn't really fit on the shelf well without manhandling them. 

So I recently bought this kind of tub. Its size should work better with the shelf and free up some room for other things since my classroom is the size of a closet. Even though they are smaller, I will still be able to fit the the paper and other supplies necessary for math centers very easily.

I got them at Walmart and they were about $4, I think.

The labels for my other tubs are too big to fit on these, so of course I had to make new ones with a fun chevron background pattern.

They are made to fit right here specifically on this container.

Pretty right?

As I was taking the picture I realized that after I laminated these labels they would be too wide to fit, so I made the labels narrower in width. Each label is 2" high and 2.75" wide.

I put these labels in my TpT shop for you for free! Click on the picture to get yours.

You're welcome.

I'm thinking I need some more of these containers for English/Language Arts centers.

And then, I'll need more labels. . .


Wednesday, July 17, 2013

the one where i met my teaching hero

Have you read The End of Molasses Classes? I read it two summers ago when it came out. If you haven't read it, you must put it on your list to read read it right now! You will not be sorry. I'm going to read it again this summer. I might even reread his first two books. 

I am even such a nerd that I preordered the book and waited impatiently until I could read it. 

I found out at the last minute that Ron Clark would be speaking near me and there were still tickets. Several years ago he came and spoke to all of the teachers in my district in a large stadium. This time the venue, while impressive, was quite a bit smaller.

And I was going to get to go!

I called my friend, Alana, to see if she wanted to go with me. Oddly enough, she had just gotten tickets and was about to call me to see if I wanted to go. 


We got there right when the doors opened because I wanted a good seat. We snagged seats in the second row!

This man is full of energy - which made getting a good picture a little bit of a challenge. He never stopped moving. He engaged the audience from the very beginning of his presentation.

He walked around the auditorium and even climbed on chairs. If you know anything about him, you already know he likes to climb on the desks in his classroom while teaching. At one point he stood on the arm rests of the empty seat right in front of me and spoke for a while.

Right in front of me.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't just a little bit worried about whether or not he would fall.

Afterwards, Alana and I got our books signed and we got to meet him.

He did not sit behind a table and smile fake pleasantries as he signed our books. Instead he used a stool and small table to sign the books, but not before he got up and gave me a big hug when I walked up ~ like he'd been waiting for me to finally get to the front of the line. He genuinely asked about what grade I teach and followed up with a few more questions based on the answers I gave. He paid attention and gave value to what I said ~ just like we need to remember to do for our students.

And we got a picture! Awesome!

Yeah, we were pretty much star-struck by the whole deal.

Alana and I have decided that we are going to print this picture to hang it up in our class to remind us all year of the kind of teachers we are supposed to be.

All the groupie talk aside, hearing him speak was a fabulous inspirational boost that every teacher needs mid-summer when the ambivalent feelings of affecting little lives by teaching versus wishing summers would last forever creep into our thoughts. Even though I'm nowhere near done with summer yet, I know this next school year is gonna be something great, something worth watching!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

favorite pins fri(satur)day

I'm joining Cara at The First Grade Parade for Favorite Pins Friday.

Some of these pins are older than this week, so I'm breaking the rules just a little bit. 

T E A C H E R    P I N S

4mula Fun! has a fun Math About Me assignment for the beginning of the year. The students tell 8 facts about themselves in mathematical format - using basic operations but can include parentheses and exponents. This is for sure on my list of first week activities. Third graders will not typically be able to use much past addition and subtraction, but it will be fun to see what they will come up with. It can give me a snapshot about what they know about math already.

Teaching with a Mountain View has some great visual ways to help students understand elapsed time. Elapsed time can be such a rough concept for some kids. She shows several different ways to help them  grasp the concept. She also has a packet of differentiated work on TpT that looks great.


I pinned these chimichangas a while ago from My Fridge Food. I tried them one Saturday for lunch. They were so easy to make and tasted muy bueno! And they are a little health conscious because they are baked instead of fried. I've tried several recipes that I've pinned that have turned out to be disasters or just so-so. You won't be sorry if you try these.

I need to make these again soon.

Doesn't this Loaded Baked Potato Salad look good?

It has bacon.

Need I say more?

And this Country Club Chicken Casserole? Yum!

L E T ' S    M A K E    S O M E T H I N G

I'm keeping my owl theme next year, but the room will need a few fun updates, of course. How would this guy look? Awesome, right?

And since I bought some extra burlap, how about this for the front door. The tutorial for this is at Live a Little Wilder.


I cannot go without a little humor.

You know it's true.

See you in the schoolyard. Wait! It's summer. See you at the pool.


Friday, July 5, 2013

currently ~ july

Here we are in July. The fireworks have been lit and and we have celebrated the freedoms this great country hold dear.

It's also time for Farley's Currently.

Listening - We have a serious bird gatherings in our back yard. These funny little black birds with longish tail feathers will gather in the grass below one of the trees. They are always pointed in the same direction as each other and seem focused on the same thing. We joke around that they are having church. With lots of birds comes lots of chirping. We like it.

Loving - Oh how I love summer days. Oh how I do not like excessive heat warnings. Blech! Even though the heat is unbearable where we live for most of the summer, I am hopelessly in love the with idea of summer. Flip flops, sun screen, daylight for hours and hours, and a carefree lifestyle ~ what's not to love?

Thinking - I have not done much in a tangible way for my new third grade position next year, but I have been thinking about it a lot. I'm keeping the same classroom theme next year - owls - with maybe some new fun decorating additions. But I'm contemplating how I want to manage my classroom with learning centers, incentives, behavior plans, etc. What tried and true things do I want to keep, what do I need to change. I am likely to have a few of my kids from last year, so I also want to change up some of my beginning of the year activities/assignments. I'm for sure thinking of doing this one from A Cupcake for the Teacher.

Wanting - Recently, we were able to spend a week with some family and friends beach-side. The temperatures were mild and lovely. I miss that. I could use more of that in my life, even if it comes with a little extra sand everywhere!

Needing - Summer won't last forever so I need to use my lazy days a little more wisely. is summer.

Blog Advice - Don't let blogging take over your life. My prolonged absence from this blog and my family blog is proof that I follow that advice. :) Live your life & be present for the people in your life. Blogging is a nice extra. It will be here when you have time. That being said, I do hope to be around a little more often in the future with some good ideas and good stories about the sweet kids I teach.

What are you doing this summer?


Sunday, May 19, 2013

spreading our wings

We had some visitors to our classroom this spring.

They arrived in a little cup and got bigger by the day. The kids were enthralled with these little guys. Before we knew it they had formed their chrysalides and then emerged as butterflies.

I felt sorry for my kids because all of the big events just so happened to take place over the weekend.  They never got to see the caterpillars in their J formation just before forming the chrysalis. They never got to see the chrysalis wiggle wildly with the emerging butterfly and examine them as they dried their wings. For both big events, we came back to school Monday and "ta-da!"

And somehow, I forgot to take pictures of any stage past the caterpillars.

When it came time to release the butterflies, this was the first class I did not have to spend a lot of time convincing that letting them go was the right thing to do. They seemed to understand right away what we had to do. The letting go ceremony was very sweet as they cheered for all 9 of the butterflies as they left the the cage one by one. One butterfly didn't make it because his chrysalis fell and the wings never formed properly.

In the midst of all of this, we created the butterfly life cycle with these materials.

The pasta represents the various stages.  I still need to take pictures of the final product, then I'll show you how we did it.

This spring also saw the return of the science fair projects. Our previous principal did not support teaching science or social studies as separate subjects, so we haven't had the science fair project around for a lot of years. Second graders are not required to submit an individual project, but we were supposed to do one as a class. We tested various liquids to see which will stay mixed with water. The kids enjoyed it! They are looking forward to next year when they will be doing their own at home. I'm sure their parents feel the same level of excitement. Ha!

And finally today, in the theme of spreading our wings. . .

I'm moving to third grade next year. This will be my third grade level move in three years, but I'm most excited about this move. I taught 3rd grade once, many moons ago, during my second year of teaching. Loved it. Various events since then have prevented me from being able to go back to 3rd grade. But now, the time is right. 

I am staring a LOT of work in the face right now. I'm going to be moving rooms (again!) so there's packing to do. I have to decide what of my 2nd grade stuff and what of my 4th grade stuff I will possibly need in my room and what will come home to storage. This is the tricky part, because I am not familiar with the Common Core Standards for third grade just yet.  

We only have 11 student days left of this school year, then my little 2nd graders will be spreading their wings toward 3rd grade as well. I hope they are ready! I know that all eyes are turned toward summer and getting their attention is trickier than ever! Who are we kidding - my eyes are turned toward summer too.

11 more days.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

b or d?

Wow! This school year is simultaneously whizzing by and chewing up all of my time! It's been forever since I've seen the pages of my blog.

But now I'm on spring break and with a couple of house projects one house project finished and a serious dent in my Tivo list completed, it's time to spend a little time here. The kids don't have dance practice this week, so my biggest commitments are getting my hair done, renewing my driver's license, and going grocery shopping. The grocery shopping is already done! Is it a little ironic that I'm due for a hair appointment and renewing my driver's license in the same week?

I love spring break!  I wish we had it more often.

I've also been spending a little time working on new products for Teachers Pay Teachers.

The first one I've finished is designed to help students with b and d reversals. I have a few little ones who still really struggle with this. The activities are meant mainly for small group or one-on-one time, but could be put into a center once they have an almost firm grasp on b and d. Since repetition is the key here, all of these activities can be repeated again and again until b and d are solid.

To celebrate spring break, I'll give the B & Recognition Pack away to the first two commentors.  So leave your comment below.

If you are not one of the first two, I'm having a sale to celebrate spring break as well so you can grab this baby on sale.  My whole store will be 20% off! It will start tomorrow and run through Sunday, the 31st. We'll start the weekend early for those of you who are not on spring break this week.

See you around the school yard couch!


Wednesday, January 2, 2013

january currently

I know I'm saying what millions are saying ~ Is it really January already? Seems like this just happened for 2012. Well there's no denying it. 

It's time for Farley's Currently party! Between being lazy about the laundry and all the new clothes my little fashionistas got for Christmas, I'm currently climbing Mt. Washmore!

Loving winter break ~ need I say more. We get two weeks for break and we don't go back until the 7th, which seems to be coming faster than I want.

Two weeks is not enough time to accomplish all of the things on my to do list. In my head, I always plan way more than I can possibly get finished. Then, I get a little overwhelmed and do almost nothing. Case in point, I left the classroom with not a lesson plan written down. Um...still haven't done them. I'm sure they will get done before Monday. The upside to this is that I get lots of rest.

One Little Word ~ I'm stealing Farley's. It just made sense. I am always telling my students and my own kids that life is all about choices. Our choices go a long way in determining any outcome. What choices will you make?

What's up for January in the the classroom? We will be studying penguins and continuing our money unit. We will also be finishing our adjective unit. In second grade, January has been the month for penguins for quite a while, but I am looking to spice it up a little with some new activities. What are you doing in January?