Wednesday, February 3, 2016

I Heart My Classroom Library!!!

My library makes my heart happy!  There's no other way to say it!  The collection is current yet has lots of old-time favorites, varied with all types of genres, levels, and publishers, a reflection of the kids' interests in my class THIS year, forever changing, and FUN! 

I so wish I could have all the cute accessories I see online: lamps, seats, benches, bathtubs, tree houses...the list goes on...but I can't.  My room is so small!  Too small.  But I digress!  Although small, it packs a lot of punch and is filled with books that the kids read all throughout the day...and night...and summer!  Yes, I let them check out books nightly (just write title in book with name and return when done!) and DURING THE SUMMER.  The thought of these awesome books just sitting on my covered shelves all summer makes me queasy.  I rather the books go home with eager readers than stay in my room.  Do I lose some?  Yep.  Some get lost, get left behind on planes, are forgotten at "the other house" from time to time when visiting divorced parents.  It happens.  If you really can't live without a book, don't lend it.  (Autographed books!  I have a big collection and lend them during the year but not over the summer.)  

A Book Hospital is a must.  Before I started using one, the books piled up on my desk.  I got these cute signs at Campbells Soup-er Store on TpT for FREE! 

I have some bins up on tops of a cabinet that are just for me to access.  Holidays, books I need for units, and some read-alouds that I want to read before putting back into "general population!  I had holidays mixed in originally but I simply ran out of room and needed the bins for other topics.  What happens when I need another bin spot?  Last year, one of my students realized we had a lot of Grace Lin's books and thought we should gather them up and give her a bin.  So, I added a "2" to each one of her books and placed them in #2 David Shannon bin.  Sometimes I cross off old numbers and write the new number but Nail Polish remover also works fine!

***Why don't I use pictures on bins?  If I had to upkeep pics and add to them, I'd never do it!  And bins are shared so it would be hard to have 2-3 pics on one bin. 

***Those top bins are so sturdy and awesome!  They are DISHPANS from Walmart and Target.  I paid $1.69 for each one.  The ones on the bottom were about $6.  

***Is EVERY book labeled in my classroom?  Yes.  With a number on back.  Quick.  Easy.  Not sure where a book belongs?  Have kids help you decide.  Vote.  When all else fails, I put in FABO FAVORITES.  (I have 4 bins that all have SAME number on it.  This way, the FABO FAVORITE book can go in any one of them.  I also have more than one bin for Chapter Books and HA HA Funny.  

***Most chapter books are in specific bins.  For example, I have Capital Mystery, A-Z Mysteries, and Andrew Lost all is SAME bin.  So all those books have same numbers on them.  When kids return them to the bin, they place with the others in series.  But like I said above, some random chapter books not part of series just go in CHAPTER BOOK bins.

Everyone has a different way of running their library.  I don't have time/patience for pockets and computerized lists but I know of teachers who have those things down to a science.  Kudos to them and kudos to all of us who have rockin' libraries!

Happy reading!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Return to School With Yummy Potato Soup!

Going back to school after break is hard, isn't it?  Getting back into the swing of things takes time but we don't have the luxury of time.  Nope. The kiddos are there waiting for us.  For an easier transition, make a pot of soup!

It will last the whole week.  I bring it every day and switch out salad and breads to keep it interesting.
(White soups never look too good in pics but I promise this is delish!)

Here's a tasty Potato Soup recipe from my friend Sue:

* 4 cups diced (unpeeled) Yukon Gold potatoes (Any will do but these will retain shape.)
* 1 stick of butter
* 2 cups finely diced onions.  (yellow onions are preferred. Sweeter.)
* 1/2 cup flour
* 1 box of chicken broth (I use sodium free since spices added later make up for taste)
* 1 and 1/2 cup potato flakes
* 2 cups heavy cream
* 2 cups milk
* 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (I don't like spicy but this is perfect)
* Salt, pepper, garlic powder and dried basil to taste.  (I add a lot of basil and garlic)

1. Cover potatoes with water and boil then reduce to simmer for twenty minutes.

2. Saute onions in butter for ten minutes.  Add flour and mix well until absorbed.

3. In different pot, heat broth.  Add potato flakes and seasonings.  Stir well.  Add this to onion mixture.

4. Add milk and cream and stir until smooth.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

5. Add potatoes.  EAT and ENJOY!

Click here for another great soup recipe.

Hope you had a great break.  I worked on a few products and finally posted them:



Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

I'm a sucker for the promise of fresh starts.  How about you?  It motivates me!  Wishing you all the best in the new year!  My daughter just made these Pinterest inspired cookies. Edible confetti comes out of some of the triple stacked ones. Cute!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Storytime with Miss Yumi

Has your class enjoyed storytime with Miss Yumi yet?

I discovered her site in August and I love it! She's a preschool teacher who does a great job reading and uploading clear pics of the books.  The video is set to soft music playing in the background which is soothing, never distracting.   Well worth a look!  Here are some of the books we've been enjoying from her YouTube Channel.


Honestly, I prefer to read most books to my class myself.  But after reading some of the above books aloud dozens and dozens of times, I'm more than happy to have Miss Yumi step in.  (Especially for the two Crayon books.  Reading some of the font choices in these books have been difficult on my eyes.


I'm so glad I discovered her channel right as she started it a few months ago.  My kids are too! There are already 33 posted books.  She adds new books all the time and takes requests.  Enjoy!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

SAT Humor and Half Off Christmas Clip Art Set

My son is taking the test as I write this. I'm 150 miles away and wanted to be sure he had everything set last night.  "Get out your calculator, ID and ticket." He texted me this pic.  At first, I almost flipped out when I saw that calculator in the tiny text...

Until I enlarged pic...Then I couldn't stop laughing.  
That's his third grade ID.  :)

Side note: See my lovely granite counter?  Well, it's a fake!  It was white Formica a few years ago until I bought a kit and "turned it into" GRANITE!  Unless you touch it, you can't tell!  Even the town assessor marked it as such until I told him it wasn't.  Not bad for $149 for my entire kitchen counters!

Did you know there are only 47 days until Christmas?  Grab these 45 png images for only $2 this weekend!

Christmas Kids Clip Art by Dandy Doodles
Half price this weekend! 


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Freebie: Thanksgiving Quick Write

Although I didn't take pics yesterday, this simple activity introduced my Firsties to using commas in a series and turned out adorable.  

After I modeled using this prompt, we brainstormed what we were thankful for.  Answers ranged from the color purple to popcorn to family.  My own answer was pre-made using AND between everything.  Then I rewrote deleting all my "ands" and inserting commas instead.

Cute results.

Once they got their paper to write, it took them 15 minutes from start to finish which included illustrating.  Honestly, so cute and they look great hanging up.  (I mounted on green paper.)  When I return to school on Monday, I'll snap some pics.

I hope you can use the freebie!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

DST Freebie (Open-Ended Question)

Anyone else simply stressed beyond belief?  Raise your hand!  Am I alone?


Daylight Savings Time does give me an extra hour which is good. It will allow me to start walking outside in the morning again since it will be lighter earlier.


I need to walk.

Anyhoo, maybe you can use this with your kids tomorrow?  I hope so.

I saw this up at our sister school...isn't it lovely?  The art teacher, Ellen, is simply AMAZING!  All of her displays look like they could be in Macy's window at Christmas. Her school is HUGE yet she manages to plaster walls/displays with such creative artwork.  This was mostly her work but I'll take pics of the kids' work soon.  It always knocks my socks off!  Kids and teachers love her!  They are surrounded by beauty throughout the wonder!

Here is to a stress-free Monday.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Introducing...The Pony Girls!

Last week, I finally got to see my new covers for my latest chapter book series from ABDO: The Pony Girls!  It was like Christmas Day!  I HEART EACH COVER!


These are the companion books to Storm Cliff Stables. These characters are 8 while Avery, Esha, Bree, and Jaelyn were 13 in the original set.   (Working on Set 2 now!)

Thanks to Paula Franco, the talented illustrator who brought the girls to life!  I'm wild about the book design, too! SPOT ON, isn't it?  I have the fabo Candice Keimig, Art Director, to thank for that!  And to my editor who keeps me on track- Megan're the best!  I am beyond over the moon!  THANK YOU!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Handy Writing Workshop Helper! (Freebie!)

This year I've used these checklists in my writing folders.  The kids have it out during writing and touch each word to make sure they answered the questions in their stories.  The visual reminder helps a lot. (Suggested by Lucy Calkins!)

 After the kids finish a story, they take the checklist, which is kept in clear page protector, and read story to a partner.  As they are reading, their partner touches each word.  If one of the key points wasn't answered in the story, the writer goes back and adds that particular detail.  The partnership takes practice but I have been modeling it every day and it's working. Working well I should add.  Their conversations have become much more targeted and their stories are proof.  Click the pic to grab your free copy.  I have a few different versions to pick from.  I hope it's as helpful to you as it's been to my class!  

Have a great Sunday!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Quick Review of Friendly Letters

Do you write your Morning Message in Friendly Letter format?  I sure do especially since I know it'll jump start my Family Journals (Which I LOVE LOVE LOVE!) next week. We've only had eight days of school so far but they're already understanding what's included in a friendly letter. Because you know I love to make my Morning Message interactive, I did a fun (QUICK!) labeling activity today.

I had the labels ready and called on kids to pick one and label my letter.
(Oops! Should have used a darker marker.)

This was the end result but getting there was a bit tricky for a few of the kids.  After a part was labeled, I had kids do a Think-Pair-Share...was it correct?

After we finished, I asked the kids if a writer always had to use DEAR in the greeting.  Many shook their little heads and gave various examples of greetings I had already used.  One boy said, "You could say, "Hey there Cowboys and Cowgirls!"  Is that adorable?  I wonder if his Kindergarten teacher used that greeting? 

Can you guess what my MM greeting will be tomorrow?  :)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Freebie Apple Emergent Reader

Happy Monday, friends! I'm using this today with a few of my little ones.  Hope you can use it, too!

I uploaded three others over the weekend if you want to check them out.  Here are the previews:

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Getting Crafty! (Awesome Wall Mounting Find!)

I have a friend who teaches second grade and never does anything crafty at all with her kids. NOTHING.  Says it is fluff with a capital F.  UGH!   Is this fluff? Don't think so!

  My Firsties love all things paint and glitter (me too!) and although I don't have time for lots of "crafty things" I certainly make sure I do some.  Cutting, gluing and creating? A MUST for five and six year olds, isn't it?  These were finished in a snap, will stay up for a good six weeks and will look lovely in their memory books and on their fridges at home.  Oh, did I tell you how happy their apples and trees make me feel?  Especially the apple in the upper left-hand corner.  :) 

 I love how all of the trees look so different.  Unique.  

I gave the kids a strip of brown paper and told them to design a trunk. Below are the first three trunks that were finished.  They use the rest of the paper for their branches.  Fun to see how they form their trees.  If you are doing this activity, you only need a teeny tiny amount of paint.  I put this plate in the middle of four desks and it was way too much,


Beautiful!  Just like them!

Have you seen these Scotch tabs?  AMAZING!  No.  Seriously.  


I discovered them last year and I swear, NOTHING falls down. They are foam tabs. Double sided.  Easy to use.  They come right off and I can even reuse most of them again!  A must have. I have two on each tree and they won't come down until I take them down.  I got through our school Cascade order for $2.50 a box (480 tabs.  I see them on Office Depot site for $10.50 a box.  Boo. Glad I got through school order BUT I would $10.50 pay for these babies.  (Look at ratings and comments and you may, too!)  

Syracuse just won in overtime...  Wahoo!!!