Thursday, April 9, 2015

There, Their, They're: Nail It!

How did I get my Firsties to master...yes, MASTER, the use and spelling of these homophones?  By using this handy "wheel" I made to practice, practice, practice!

After making a poster and learning the different meanings of the words, I hung up a simple chart:

Throughout the month of March, whenever I'd catch myself using one of these words in a sentence (through natural conversations) I'd ask a student which word I used and they'd put a check in the appropriate column.  Sometimes I would be the one who got to make the check if a student used a word.  Takes 10 seconds to reinforce.  Oh, so easy! This is our second chart and we've carried it over to April.  Why not?  Practice makes perfect!  The first chart had so many checks that it was impossible to add another.  Within a few days, lots of the kids were working hard to apply what they learned into their writing. 

The kids don't wait for me, though... They took it upon themselves to add to the chart during snack, free time, arrival/dismissal, etc.  Whenever they could! The only rule was that the kids had to justify their choices. 

Then I made the wheel and we practiced whole group style.  I'd say a sentence and they'd turn the wheel until they displayed the right answer.  They used their hands to cover the wrong answers which would automatically display the correct one.  Funny, every time they do this, I feel like it's one of those games on Survivor that test their memory of things tribemates have shared.  Know the game I'm talking about?  Using the wheels is FUN and allows me to instantly see who nailed it and who needs a bit one-on-one help.

Partner work was a blast and the kids LOVED it!  Each partner got a wheel and two sheets (different sentences)  that looked like this:

Honestly, my class rocked it this year.  Usually, I introduce these homophones and am lucky if a few kids "get it."  This year, the results are simply amazing. I'm continuing with the chart/checks to continue to reinforce,  Some of the kids shared that they use a chart at home for their families to use. That's music to my ears!

I made a packet for TPT if you want to check it out:

We're using the Chit Chat tomorrow.  I always love listening in on their conversations!  

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

An Adorable Spring Craft

I was looking for a cute Spring project to do with my Firsties when I came across an adorable craft using my clip art!  How cool is that?  I think I may have them make this for Mother's Day.  

You can check out MotherMessyMadness for directions and other cute ideas! Although our store has been around for a while, I haven't seen much of our work actually used in products yet so I'm thrilled to see this!

I've posted the flowers before but in case you want them and don't want to search, here they are:

John did add another History Set to our store this week:
The Founding Fathers

I'm on Spring Break.  How about you?  Whatever you're doing...


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Pretty Fabo "Newish" Yearbook Company

Newish to me, at least! This year, I'm Co-Editor of the yearbook.  Last year, I worked a little bit on our K-5 yearbook just to get my feet wet knowing I was going to be co-chairing this year.  (I didn't exactly want to work on the yearbook but sometimes you have to step up to the plate, you know?)

Last year, I honestly have no idea what company we used BUT I do know this:  It was TERRIBLE. Truly antiquated.  I honestly think it must have been the very first yearbook company out there.  Any picture that was used had to be "locked" down on all four corners.  And if you wanted to MOVE it? Well, unlock and lock again.  That goes for the frame too.  You know how may times you want to move things around?  It was a nightmare.  Not many templates, choices, etc.

This year, my co-editor, who was also brand new, wanted to look for a new "modern" company. Lucky for us, a PTO mom directed us toward TreeRing.  So Far, LOVE.  A lot!

(No, I do not gain free books or anything for mentioning them!)

Each yearbook is made from 100% recycled paper.  For each one sold, a tree is planted, and ALL sales are online.  Last year we lost $1.000 on unsold books.  This year?  Not possible.  They only make what's been ordered.  But the best part?  Each child who buys one (at the same price we charged last year) gets to personalize TWO pages!  So everyone's yearbook is 70 pages of the same, material and then TWO personalized pages with as many pics as you want. How cool is that?  You can upload straight from your computer, Facebook, or Instagram accounts. For families that want MORE than the two personalized pages?  They can pay more and get them.  So, you and your family really can be the star of the yearbook!  Isn't this genius?  My kids would have LOVED this option and certainly enjoyed designing their pages.

So far, it's been so easy to put together.  I mean "point and click" put together and the product SEEMS like it will be beautiful. (The sample book we saw was awesome.  Very professional looking.)  Like I said, I only got my feet wet last year but what I did ( few pages at most!) took me LONGER than to do half a book this year!  Really!  If you are looking for a new company or are intriqued...take a look at their site.  Our deadline isn't too far off.  So far, our sales are off from last year with the ONLINE orders only bit BUT we are hoping people are just waiting until spring break to sit down and order.  I'll update!  (And for the record, you do not have to add the personalized pages.  Can just purchase the yearbook.)


Here's a peek at John's latest clip art project:  The Wright Brothers! Yep, Orville and Wilbur Wright...Aviation Pioneers.  Some of his artwork will appear in the yearbook.  I just couldn't resist!

Have a great day!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Some Freebies! Happy Spring!

Happy Spring!  Freebies for you...

Blooming Garden Clip Art

Burst of Blooms Clip Art

A Fun Center Game OR use as Homework!
The Bunny Hokey Pokey for Binders or to hang up...

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Here's My Sunday Scoop! (And Yummy Soup Recipe!)

Thanks to Teaching Trio, I'm sharing my Sunday Scoop today:

Booking a hotel room is a must!  Sarah's accepted student day To Syracuse University is in April.  She gets to participate in "Own the Dome" and stay in the Carrier Dome overnight.  

How cool is that?  John and I hope to book the Sheraton on the campus.  Fingers crossed! NOTE: I've ALWAYS pictured Sarah at a much smaller campus...not one with a hotel on it and a 55,000 Sports Arena ON campus.  Hmmm...should be interesting!

Want an easy and amazing soup recipe?  Got it years ago from Better Homes and Gardens. It was their "Recipe of the Year." It is a "throw together" soup but everyone loves it.  I don't have exact measurements anymore, but trust me,  you can't mess it up:  

Tortellini Soup

1. Put two "boxes" of Chicken Stock into a pot.
2. Add two jars of Ragu Alfredo Sauce.
3. Pull all the meat off of a Rotisserie Chicken and add 4. Cook a bag and a half of tortellini (tri-colored)  
5. I put in a small jar of chopped up sun-dried tomatoes.  The recipe said NOT in oil but I use the ones in oil for sure.  Drain most of the oil.
6. After simmering for a short time, I put at least a cup of Parmesan cheese in and stir.  
7. Before serving, you can put in fresh spinach leaves.  (I usually don't.)

Really good.  Last for days.  YUM!

Quick Question:  Am I the only one who has lost 3,632 umbrellas in my lifetime? UGH! 

Okay- gotta go!  Matthew's first game starts at 8.  Thank goodness for turf after 5 more inches of snow on Friday.  Boo to snow.  Yea to soccer!

Want to link up?  Click on the button!  Looking forward to reading about your scoop today!

Have a great day!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Cute Must-Have Dr. Seuss App

This has been on my must-buy list for a year now.  A year!  

There's no better time than now since today is Read Across America Day. Took a second to download last night and I was happy to find it easy to use. (It cost $1.99) Matthew and John had a little fun and took these in about two minutes.

I'm looking forward to using it with my students today!
Have a "one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish" day!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Knock Knock Spring! Where Are You?

Happy March!  Was hoping to kick off the month with a little sunshine but was greeted with snow this morning.  Again!  Ugh!  At least I know whatever snow falls will melt quickly....I hope!  I have to keep reminding myself that Spring is just a few weeks away.

I just finished my March Open-Ended Questions.  If you want to see my previous entry about the value of these journals and how much I love them, you can read about them here and see responses from the kiddos.

After a fw people inquired if I'd be adding each month to my store (YES!) I decided to offer a growing bundle that will save teachers $10. Who doesn't love to save ten bucks?  It's like getting THREE months for free.  Free is good, isn't it?

Here are TWO free pages/samples from my March Packet.  One will be perfect for Read Across America/Dr. Seuss Day tomorrow.  Hope you can use them.

Have worked a little on clip art.  John finally finished a James Madison and the War of 1812 set.  I so wish I could do this! I love the picture of Francis Scott Key as he overlooks "the bombs bursting in air."  A lot of research goes into his historical sets and I'm thrilled they are selling well now.

 I did this freebie for my sister who needed a few balloons for a project.  Can you see the difference in talent???  Look hard!  HA! :)  Maybe you can use it?  It's free in our store.

Oh, I also have this SIMPLE Dr. Seuss song that you may want to use tomorrow to the tune of BINGO.  Honestly, I just put it together a few years ago to heave something but my kids love singing it.  (I think it has my old store name on it.  Either way, since it's Seuss, available here on Blog only...)

Good luck to all of you who are starting PARCC testing tomorrow.  Lots of families are opting out in NJ and I cannot say I blame them. 

Have a great day!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Sunday Scoop!

Happily linking up once again with Teaching Trio.  Who knew this little link-up would be a great motivator for me to focus on a few important tasks I had to- or simply wanted to- accomplish each week?

Taxes?  'Nuff said!

Stickers?  Okay, I've never been consistent with stickers but this year, my class actually asks for them.   So, I found a beautiful red box and put some cute ribbon on it and moved it to an area that THEY could access and get their own when deserved.  If left up to me, I'd never actually pass them out.  What's hot in my class?  Googly eyed stickers like this:

Because of their love of them, I instituted a little challenge each day, The "row" that packs-up the quietest wins a sticker.  I've been doing this for two months now and you'd think I'm handing out tubs of Lucky Charms or ice cream cones!  If you came into my room at 2:20 each day, what would you hear? NOTHING...for ten whole minutes! 

Now I admit I do like me some chitter chatter when unpacking in the morning.  It's a great time for them to interact, get to know each other and foster a sense of community.  But by the end of the day, well, I need it to be quiet so we all do what we need to do...  

I can't process why they're so set on winning a sticker but boy, they are so focused on that prize.  So, I am trying to kick it up a notch with the coolest, smelliest, glitter-filled stickers I can find.  Larger stickers truly seem to tickle their fancy!  Hey, whatever floats your boat, kids!

Downton Abbey is simply a fantastic show and if you've never watched it, I suggest you start at Season 1 and binge watch on your next snow day.  Amazing!  Here's some fun for you...what's wrong with this famous DA Publicity shot?  Answer at end of post IF you can't figure it out! 

I love The Good Wife just as much but it's been MIA for so long and doesn't come back until March 1.  Can I say how much I hate this newish strategy of shows taking long winter breaks?  Stupid. Annoying.  

I'm committed to using more of the recipes I find on Pinterest...not just Pinning and forgetting about them.  I found this recipe on Pinterest and used it for for both pork and chicken. My kids loved it.  Easy.  Fast.  The chicken was delicious.  Pork was okay.  (And I love pork!)

I think we are officially the last family in America to own a GF Grill.  It's not even new but it's never been used before.  It has been tucked away in my parents' house for years and I finally swiped it a few weeks ago. I'm not picky but I really just want to be able to grill super skinny pieces of chicken to put in salads for school.  Anyone know how to make a tasty thin piece of chicken like that?  Seriously, I'd so appreciate knowing and hope George shows me the way...

Okay, in the period piece DA photo above, there's a WATER BOTTLE in the picture.  When this happened, it was WATERGATE all over again. Who did it?  Why?  LOL!  Love the way the cast responded.

They linked up this pic to WaterAid, an organization that helps provide access to clean water all over the world.  Cool, huh?

Want to link up?  Click on button to hopon over to Teaching Trio's blog and find out what to do!  Hoping to read your Sunday Scoop today...

Have a super week!

Friday, February 20, 2015

"Make me a Star!" (Freebie!)

My friend texted me asking if I could make her a 


She's young.  She's hip.  I saw visions of Jennifer Lawrence.  Kaley Cuoco. Taylor Swift.


She meant this type...

Enjoy the freebie!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Accepting Only Their Best

Keeping expectations high is a must in the classroom.  I've honestly found that the higher my expectations are, the better the kids perform. I'm sure you agree.

But every once in a while, the kiddos get a bit lazy and forget that I won't except just any answer EVEN IF it's a right answer. My sweeties know I want them to dig a bit deeper.

Case in point:

During Morning Meeting today, (our 100th Day!) I asked the students to make a word using the letters in ONE HUNDRED.  Now we do SO much of this each week with my Make-A-Word Packet that I call them My Little Word Wizards. Well, this morning, I didn't get the responses I expected  Most kids looked at the chart, quickly went back to their desks, scribbled a word on the sticky I had left for them, and slapped it on the paper.  Want to know what almost every child wrote down? 


Now RED is a nice word.  Actually, I'm quite fond of the color. Truly.  My son even has red hair so I assure you that I have nothing against red at all. Promise.  

But I digress...

But how could almost every child go for the easy answer?  The LAZY answer.  Except this one:

Not sure if you can see the's UNDER.  Good word.  Much, much better than red, isn't it?

As I read off the responses,  giggles started to emerge when they realized that almost every answer was RED.  When I rattled off UNDER, I heard a gasp.  Then another. The class immediately knew this was a good word. A much better word.  I didn't have to say a thing.  The students did it for me.  "Mrs. Mullarkey should give you smart beads. (I did!)  "You put a lot of thought into your answer." (He did.)  "You challenged yourself." "I wish I could have gotten that word," said another.  

That's when I spoke up.  "YOU CAN! I want you to sit here for a minute and study the letters.  When you come up with a stronger word, go write it down." 

While they sat and thought, I quickly went around the room and put another sticky on each desk.

Were they lazy the first round?  Yep.
Was I? Yep. A little...

Say what? 

I didn't give them "think time."  I assumed they'd razzle dazzle me so I let "think time" slide and allowed them to get up immediately. Yep, I know that even giving students an extra 3 seconds of think time improves their responses.  Five seconds is even better.  I knew this and am pretty good about waiting it out but I took a shortcut today and so did they. 

Making them sit for just 60 seconds was rewarded by these words:

(WONDERED: Although not spelled correctly, I love the risk)

(Sight word this week!)

And there were more but my camera died. 

Much better, yes?  So, here's to a little wait time which always harvests better results. (And a kudos to my kiddos for raising their game!) 

Oh...and take a peek at our latest clip art.  Grab the butterflies for free!

Have a great night!