Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth!! (Don't forget to grab Patriotic Clip Art Freebie!)

Want to see the clip art we've been working on lately?

If you didn't grab our patriotic freebie clip art last week, please do.

Hope you have a great day!

Friday, July 3, 2015

Frame Worthy!

Two pins caught my eye from Dr. Justin Tarte
so much so that I had to share.  Enjoy!

Both are powerful, huh?  The second one made me think of my own kids' Back-to-School Nights.  I always knew when my kids got a great teacher because by the time the evening was over, I had already thanked my lucky stars that the teacher would be in my son and daughter's life for the next year and also wished I could have had a teacher like that or join the class at that very moment!

I think I may pretty them up and frame them for my wall next year.  Check back soon!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Refocusing on Handwriting

This year, I didn't do such a great job of supporting a few of my students who struggled with handwriting.  I'm usually pretty good starting handwriting out of the gate and keeping up with instruction.  For some reason, I felt I had "bigger fish to fry" this year and didn't spend nearly enough time as I should have on teaching correct letter formation.  I had about 4 kids who really struggled with their fine motor skills.  

My kids are such phenomenal writers but if no one can read your work and you can't share it because it's difficult for the child to read what he's written, writing workshop becomes...not so much fun. 

This summer, I've been looking for great blog posts and information on launching handwriting in the classroom.  We currently use a Zaner-Bloser program.  Eh. I've heard wonderful feedback from friends who use Handwriting Without Tears.  So, while I'm not looking at program delivery, I'm committed to finding best practices no matter what program is used.

The first post I want to share (thanks to Pinterest!) is Ten Tips All Teachers Need to Know When Teaching Handwriting:  

My takeaway: #6.  I used to sing all those little songs to give my learners auditory support. I need to get back to that.  If I need to make up a little song to fit the needs of the writer, I will.  There are other good tips, too.  Of course you'll know most of them but a reminder can't hurt!

Then there is this pin, Teaching Handwriting in Lower Grades,  that I noticed:

It was a guest post on Rachel Lynette's blog from Amy at Cahill's Creations.  My takeaway? Her hands-on activities (I'm going to create a handwriting bin with activities she lists and USE IT!) and how she immediately highlights the kids at the beginning of the year who need extra support and it!  :)  

Handwriting is hard to fit in but I'm recommitting myself this year.  If you have any tips or advice you'd like to share, please do!!

Have a great day!! 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Summer....FINALLY! (Freebie Clip Art, too!)

My last day of school was on Wednesday.  How can it be that I've been teaching since 1988?  Eek! Where does the time go?  Each year zooms by faster than the previous!  I feel like my kids and husband have been out forever. Sarah graduated from high school and Matthew was out a week early due to a concussion from playing soccer.  Scary but he's fine.  Three days in and what have I been doing?  RELAXING and planning a bit for next year. (And planning Sarah's grad party for late July!)

Part of my "relaxing" is helping John with clip art.  Here's what we've been working on these past few days.  The first is a freebie so feel free to grab it!  

and we've started BUNDLING some of our SS Sets.


A few grad parties today and working on some TpT products for my store...hope you have some fun planed on your agenda!  Happy Weekend!  (Soggy here!)

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sunny Days! (Free Clip Art Set!)

I'm so looking forward to summer!!  I'm still in school until June 24th but it will be here in a snap.  This is all I hope to see this summer!  Feel free to download!  Enjoy!

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!