Monday, May 25, 2015

Problem Solved: Need a FAST Bulletin Board Idea? (Freebie!)

I love the look of a fresh bulletin board but dread actually making one...especially this late in the year.  Want to know my secret for a speedy quick (but quality!) board?  

A simple writing prompt.  From start to finish, this is up in ten minutes!  I love using simple prompts to tack up on my white board too at the top. I run these the whole length of the board.  Love my white board but am always needing something to break up all of that white, you know?  My go-to is always writing.  You can never have enough!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Problem Solved: Lunch Crate on Wheels!

Isn't this genius?

My school is K-1 only and is so tiny, we don't need crates on wheels. (Plus, we have stairs!) But, our sister school, 2-5, is next door and HUGE!!    Lugging lunch crates down to cafeteria and back each day was a pain in the neck.  So a fourth grade girl  invented a conversion kit for the "lunch lugger" baskets for the Invention Convention. She took the baskets home and retrofitted each basket and added a handle to make lugging the lunches even easier. 

Love it!  

Sunday, May 10, 2015

A Freebie for Mother's Day Only!

Happy Mother's Day to all the women who are rockin' it and doing what you do every day... Motherhood is by far the hardest- yet most rewarding job we'll ever have!

To celebrate, I'm giving away my First/Second Grade May Open-Ended Math Questions for Journals/Do-Nows/Homework. TODAY only. Leave me your email address by midnight tonight and I'll send it to you.  

Check out my take on the value of open-ended questions.  
You'll find a few more freebies there, too.


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Using Voice Memos to Send Messages to Parents

I used to use the Quick Voice App to send sweet greetings from the kids to parents in my class. But after they updated the software, I just couldn't get it to work with my computer at school. So I still use it on my Ipad to help my kids with fluency.  Now to send messages to parents, I use the Voice Memo button on my iPhone.  So easy to use!

It takes a minute to record a poem, get well wishes, or to record one of the kids reading a story and twenty seconds to email it.  So easy to do! Have you done it?  Good PR!

My latest recording was a Mother's Day message.  It consisted of two poems and one song. 1:36 total time. Whole thing took two minutes to record and send. From the immediate feedback I got from several moms, I knew how much they appreciated it.

Try it when you get a chance. Easy breezy lemon squeezy!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Problem Solved: Storage UNDER Desks

I LOVE my Math Tool Kits.  I've been keeping them in desks but it hasn't been ideal.  Manipulatives fall out, it takes up a lot more space than I planned, and they're not quite as easily accessible as I had hoped.  I sort of put up with the less than perfect desk storage thinking nothing else was a possibility.


One of my sweeties discovered that there is a "rod" under each desk.  The hook fits perfectly!!!  Once on the rod, the bags can be pushed to the side and they DO NOT get in the way of their legs.


Now that this extra storage was discovered and put to good use, I'm thinking about the possibilities of hanging a second bag under there that can be pushed to the other side.  Hmmm...a reading took kit?? My wheels are turning.

If you have a small room like me, check under your may find a little bit more real estate!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Still Need a Mother's Day Project?

Trust me, this was SIMPLE!  So simple in fact, that it can be completed in a day.  A DAY!  Yes, there's still time!

Here are a few close-ups:

The Back:



 *Watercolors (Crayola)
 *White Construction Paper cut 11.5 x 11.5 inches.
 *12 x 12 Colored Paper for mounting  (seen in group photo)
 *"I Love You Because Paper" from Wild About Teaching (Freebie!)

What to do:

Tell class to make a circle ANYWHERE but the middle.  Then add petals which SHOULD reach out to the edge of the paper. (Some kids did it, some didn't.)  They can add leaves if they like.  I told them to pick 2-3 colors and paint!  I suggested they didn't pick GREEN if they were going to make leaves. After they painted them, they sort of looked a little  But, like magic, once you outline in black marker,... BEAUTIFUL!!!!  (I did most of outlining to save time.)  We glued the paper on back and laminated them.  I was impressed!  My colleague Brittany did them a few days ago and I just had to follow her lead after seeing how they turned out.  This is a great project for any holiday!  Keep it in mind!

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!