Saturday, August 11, 2012

How do you leave school freebie?

Whoa! Where has time gone? I've been suppppper busy, like all of you. I do have so much to share though.  I know many of you are starting soon (if you haven't already started) and since you've given me so much inspiration, I felt I needed to give back. So in between all the trainings, meetings, and time putting together my disaster of a room, I got to thinking about how I know which way my students will go home. So, I made Dismissal Cards:

I'm putting these in my 'Welcome to School' postcards I'm sending out. I'm asking for them to be back the first day and then I'll laminate, punch, and put them on a ring to hang by my door. Handy for a sub or for anyone in my room at dismissal time!

I'm going to put the change of dismissal in the parent's 2012 - 2013 folder that will go home on Curriculum Night. I'm hoping this will alleviate any random notes/E-mails/phone calls! I'm going to stress this as well with the parents.

Want them? They're yours: how I leave school and change in dismissal!

 How do you keep track of your students going home?

Off to go fill my cart even more in anticipation of tomorrow's TPT sale... I seriously think I'll be going broke! I'm in love with soooo much stuff!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday Made It

I'm finally linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It.  I've been for her Monday Made It.  I've been looking, eyeing, stalking for awhile now so I figure with one week before I have to head back I should actually make some of these items.  

Creation #1

Draw sticks. I love these. I have a set with zebra but also needed a set with some cheetah print on them. I put a student's name on each stick with a clear label and this is how I "pick sticks." The kids love being picked by sticks and not just random picture assigned by Smartboard.

Here's how I made them:

I cut tissue paper slightly larger than the stick. I bought my tissue paper at Hobby Lobby. I used one piece of tissue paper to make 26 sticks.

Cut tissue paper slightly larger than the craft sticks.

Then I applied Mod Podge to the back of it.

Apply Mod Podge to strip.

I placed the stick on the tissue paper with modge podge and wrapped it up like a present. Except, I didn't wrap the round edges. I learned last year these didn't dry very well and they were lumpy.

Wrap the stick in the mod podge. Do not wrap the round edges.

This year I cut the edges off so they didn't have to be folded over. 
Cut the edges off and round them so they match the stick.

Creation #2

Inspired by Jill over at Marvelous Multiagers, I made these Spacewriters! I think they'll help my little ones as we work on writing this year.  I found the large, color sticks and wiggly eyes at Jo Ann Fabrics. I just used my mod podge brush to put a little on the tip and then stuck on the wiggly eyes! 

I have so many of thosewiggly eyes left, I'm trying to think of what I can make next with them!

Creation #3

I stopped by my room last week and I found these green bins. Green is my accent color, but I didn't like the pink.  Since patterned duck tape is all the rage, I decided to use some to cover up those pink handles (no spray paint since I may want the pink handles again!).  Super easy and cheap! I just used 2 of the flat duck tape sheets and my exacto knife. I traced the handles on a piece of white paper to make a pattern.  I'm really excited about how these turned out. 

Materials I used.

Those are the pink handle I wanted to cover up.
I'm SO excited about the final results. So cheap. And I did it while watching the Bachelor Pad, so it doesn't take a lot of concentration to do!
Final Product

Close up of the duck taped handles on plastic baskets.

Now I'm off to make a few more projects! The countdown has begun! 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

App Happy.... Linky Party

Hope over at 2nd Grade Shenanigans is having an App Linky party!  This summer, I was fortunate to take an IPad App Class for K-2 teachers through our district. It was wonderful, and I found all these amazing apps!

The first app that I can't live without are the "green apps" as I call them... or the Math Tappers. Talk about amazing. They base the mathematical thinking off of the ten frames and arrays. There are so many versions, there will be one for your grade level.  Some of them are Finding Sums, Multiples, Fractions, Equivalents, and I think Time. The student love it. It makes a great app because students can track their own progress and as a teacher, you can track and print their scores. ThisI've used this as a first approach (tier 1) intervention for some of my kiddos.  It works! Did I mention, it's FREE??

I'll be teaching fractions to my little ones this year, and the app Pizza Fractions is awesome! It's very visual and the levels can be changed to suit the needs of your students. You just have to click on the small i to change the level (easy, medium, or hard). I believe there is a more difficult Pizza Fractions for the upper grades.

For writing, I am loving My Story. Students can create their own book... they start with a cover which they can design. For the pages of the book, they can type the text (it's helpful to have it prewritten because it looks weird, this is the unfriendly part of the app) and even record themselves reading it.  Just like the the cover, they can draw their own illustrations. This app isn't free, but it's not very expensive. I found this one this summer and can't wait to use it with my kiddos.

I saved the best for last... Rover! Rover has saved the day for me even outside of the classroom. It's a kidfriendly internet searcher like Google or Nettrecker but it allows you to watch FLASH videos on your Ipad!  Yes, I told you it was the best! Ohhh, it was wonderful watching our dog on the petcam while we were on vacation because of this App. 

I don't have a class set of Ipads, but we do have 20 in our building. I also bring my own Ipad into my classroom and let the students use mine.  I can't wait to find even more apps. Thanks for hosting this party Hope!

Friday, July 20, 2012

A little bit of this...a little bit of that...

It's been a busy week! I've been leaving the confines of the city and venturing out to the suburbs for meetings... that means one thing, August 15th is coming way too soon!   I did take some time out to meet some fabulous other Chicago area bloggers this week. I met some amazing women and teachers. Thank you to Nicole and Melissa from Lesson Plan SOS and Becky from Dots-n-Spots for hosting. Look at these adorable cookies Nicole made us!

Aren't these soooo adorable! Love!

I recently found these ABC alphabet cards on TPT.  Jessica is so sweet, they were originally Zaner-Bloser but made them D'Nealian for me. They are going to look adorable with my Wild About Learning theme.

Thank you Jessica!

Do you have a color day schedule?  Our building is on color day rotation... specials are on a color day rather than day of the week. To help my students and I organized, I color code a monthly calendar. I love this one from The Chalkboard. It's $5 and it's big enough to write birthdays and days off on it. The students love that they can see what day it is going to be in advance.  Yes, they're on their way to being self-directed!

I seriously could not get the picture to rotate properly. Ugh!!

Do you see that first color day? August 15th, yes, August 15th is when the students start. It's coming up so soon! All you need are some markers to get you started.

I also went to Lakeshore Learning. LOVE that store. Seriously. Slight obsession. I've had my eyes on these student work displays for 6 months and finally got them.  I can't wait to hang them up with all my little one's work! I'm now debating whether I should put them in my room or in the hallway!

I also found all these books for less than $2 while I was there. I think I'll be going back for even more!

My mom found me this pillow at Hobby Lobby for $1. She couldn't pass it up, and frankly, I wouldn't have been able to either. My dog is lovin it though... she keeps trying to pull it out of the bag!

I've also busy making my pattern block alphabet cards. I think these cards would be perfect for centers or even indoor recess. I am a firm believer students need hands on materials, and this looks perfect for my firsties. I know my fourth graders could never get enough with using pattern blocks.  I found them at Making Learning Fun. I just printed them out, cut them, put them on black construction paper, and they'll be ready to laminate when I go back to school next week. My teammate and I checked.... they match the standard pattern blocks. If you have older ones, you could have them make their own letters or shapes. This is a great geometry concept lesson. I've done this many times.  

I found these at the Dollar Store, but they don't go with my theme, so I just took a picture... super cute if you are doing bright colors!

And of course, I had to buy new shoes for work for myself. I couldn't pass up the first day of the Nordstrom's Sale!  I love boots, and I couldn't leave without getting myself a pair of these beauties!

I hope you've been having a great week.. and done a lot of shopping too!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Must Have Picture Books Linky Party

 Lindsey over at The Teacher Wife, is having  a linky party for Must Have Picture Books. I'm all about picture books so I thought I'd jump on in!

Here are a few of my favorites!

Love The Boss Baby! Marla Frazee does a wonderful job telling the story from the baby's point of view. It's a great book to show writers different techniques writers use when they write (i.e. point of view).  Not going to lie, all my friends that are having babies/just had babies are getting this book. It makes a wonderful gift!

A Bad Case of Stripes has been a favorite for years. I've used it so many different ways while teaching intermediate including characterization. For my firsties, I can see how the book will allow students to better understand how to better be yourself. Camilla is  just a darling character. It's a great read for the first week!

One of my favorites around Patriot Day (9/11) is The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein. It's a story about the Twin Towers, told from a different point of view - one of happiness. It does mention the towers are no longer there at the end of the book, but it's told in a way that makes sense to young ones.  Best part.... there is a version of the book on United Streaming and Scholastic.   I love having students hear not only me read, but others too to better understand reading fluency. The students love learning it's a real story, and I've shown them the "news feature" from youtube as well. They can't believe this really happened.

 I love using Snowflake Bentley for teaching questioning. Not only is there the fiction story, but there are the nonfiction aspects told on the side. It's a great book to read and show students how genres can be intertwined.  I always try and time it around the winter snow and also teach the students how to make snowflakes with it.

Thank you for hosting Lindsey! Now it's your turn. Link up with Lindsey!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Happy Birthday!!!

I love celebrating my students' birthdays! I try to make it as special as I can.  First of all we always sing... I'd post a video of me singing our songs, but you're actually going to be thankful that I didn't!  We all sing the traditional Happy Birthday song, and then 2 birthday songs that run in our family. I always teach these songs on the first few days of school... I'll pull in a specials teacher to practice with. Kids LOVE it. 

Then, the students write their name on the board, and I pass out birthday letters to the kids. Each kid writes a letter to the birthday student. It's the cutest thing ever... especially when you see your big tough kids beam when they see what their peers have written. It makes my day!

I have a few versions of the birthday letters for you... Kindergarten, Primary, and Intermediate.  I hope you can use them. The images are from KPM Doodles. She always has the CUTEST graphics. Love them!  

I also write a student a letter and give them a present.  It isn't much but the kids love them. Staples pencil box, pop a point pencil (found mine at Target for $1), birthday bookmark, and an eraser (from Staples). Target has super cute stars in their Dollar Section that would be perfect for this.  Next week at Walgreens those same boxes will be 39 cents!!

My birthday boxes.

I'm toying between getting these from Really Good Stuff:

Aren't they cute?!?! They come in sets of 32 for $8.99. Since I hate to buy anything that's not on "sale," I haven't made my purchase yet... just waiting on a coupon!

Since I'm going to first grade, I was thining about doing something similar to Rachelle's birthday bag over at What the Teacher Wants!  I like the idea of the students writing at home. My birthday is one of the first weeks of school, so I think they would have a good model.

What do you do for your students' birthdays?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sad Staples Day

I was majorly bummed to find out about the new "teacher amount" policy at Staples today. I'm so used to the 25 limit... and today I found out it's what's posted in the advertisement. If you want to get a class amount, you have to pay for it upfront and then you'll get refunded in Staples Rewards at the end of the quarter.

Majorly Bummed.


Sad day.

I love Staples.... Their 25 amount allowed me to save on gas when it's $4 a gallon because I didn't have to run to 5 different stores across the city and suburbs.

Now I have to, oh and drag my family members in there too. Lucky them.

I talked to the nicest manager though.... he was telling me how all the managers are upset by this and corporate didn't listen. He gave me numbers to call to relay my frustration. He was so nice! If you want the numbers, let me know!

I did walk out the door today with  $12 of loot.  I just have to go back about 5 more times to get all of those 50 cent slider pencil cases for my birthday packs.  I was hoping to buy and make them all tonight (I love getting something crossed off my GIANT list of something to do)!  Oh well.

I'm thinking tomorrow morning will be a major shopping day. I'm trying to decide on what theme... Wild About Learning (using zebra/leopard print) and using Melanie's designs as inspiration, or just sticking to primary colors... any suggestions/ideas/tips are wanted.

How have your shopping trips been?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

School Supplies Sale

Does anyone else get excited for the Back to School ads? I'm about to run to Staples (can you tell I LOVE that store?).... Penny Sales have started!! Penny Rose-Art crayons, Staples glue, and packs of Bic-Pens. Once again you need to have a $5 purchase, but there's a bunch of  25 and 50 cent, and $1 items, so it's no big deal. If you spend $30, there's a $5 off coupon. I have a feeling I'll spend $'s like Target, I can't leave without spending tons of money. The slider pencil cases are 50 cents this week... I usually get them for my "birthday boxes" that I give to students each year. I'm debating if I want to go buy them now or wait and hope they get cheaper....

Have you gotten your Back-to-school savings pass yet? I bought mine last week, and I can use it on the items I already mentioned!

This was just from my first trip to Staples... last week I had a coupon for 15% off anything I could fit in this bag (plus the bag was free!).

Office Max has some great deals too! 10 free folders after you spend $5!! They have primary and intermediate writing journals this week for 50 cents! A ream of paper is only a penny after their rebate and card discount (do you have your teacher card?). Plenty of $1 items like binders (no insert for a picture cover), index cards, generic post-it notes, sharpies, and generic dry erase markers.

Office Depot has some items, but they're buy 2 get 1 free (not bad but certainly NOT a penny!!).  They're not on my list right now!

Target has 50 cent poly folders (love them for the take-home folders!) and 99 cent Crayola items like markers and crayons. They have a much better sharpie marker deal - 2 for $1!! Target's own couponshave $3 off a clothing item - because I'll need some new clothes to teach in come August!

JoAnn Fabrics has a 50% off one item, and a good sale today. If you are hoping to make a pennant banner for your classroom like I am, it's a good time to go buy the wickie stick (use the 50% off coupon) if the fabric is alreayd on sale. Use your teacher discount card there for an additional 15% off.  $1 off ready to decorate letters too! I'm thinking of a Monday Made It project on my hands.

Happy Shopping!!! Did you find any other great deals? Tell me about them!

Disclaimer... this is all from the Chicago Ads. I know the sales vary by region. Actually, that's sometimes the best, I'll go in and show another region's ad, and they'll honor it... or it's vacation time - drive to find the deals - in another state!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Week's Worth of Work

Passing out papers can easily become overwhelming for a teacher and lack any meaning for the students. Plus who knows if the papers even make it home!! I never liked those conversations with parents about those "lost" papers, so for the past 7 years, I've established a routine that's easy to follow. I call this "Week's Worth of Work."  The title comes from an amazing teacher I studied under during my undergrad, Mrs. D!

The first thing I do is make a folder for each student. This is a 9 x 12 folder with a cute piece of paper  laminated (this way they last the entire year). My fourth graders have been pretty good with them.  These are ready for the first Monday - the day I have the students pass out the papers.  I've chosen Monday's because it usually gives me the weekend to catch up and on Friday, the papers get lost in the shuffle at home with the weekend. Here's what the folder looks like:

Cover Sheets

Then the students pass out all the papers from the previous week. Yes, the students. It takes about 20 /30 minutes at the beginning of the year and by the end 10/15 minutes. They get so good at it and here's the BEST part -  THEY LOOK FORWARD TO IT!

The most important part, is the reflection time and sheet. After all the papers are passed out, I have the students reflect using this reflection form.

 At the beginning of the year we review/brainstorm the possible learning targets from the previous week, and those are the targets they use. Sometimes the kids go back to a target we worked on in small groups or during a 1:1 time.   After they're done reflecting, I staple the sheet to their work, and they put them in their mailboxes. They return the reflection sheet the next day. Love it.   Get your sheets here and here.

I'm working on some new cover sheets - what would you like?

Now, as I transition from 4th to 1st, I could use some ideas on how to pass out papers to my firsties. Any ideas or suggestions? What's worked for you?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I'm Alive

I'm alive! I promise! I've just been, plain and simple... busy. I'm working on my Administration Masters and it's been time consuming to say the least. Then, I found out in May, I'm switching grade levels. It's very bittersweet...'m excited to go on my new journey (inspired by everyone in the bloggy world), yet scared to leave everything I know (I can't even remember how long I've been teaching fourth grade 7/8 years, whoa!).

Needless to say I'll need any tips/advice!  I'll be back to blog about how my new adventure is going!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Snow Day

It's been unseasonably warm for Chicago, and I'm not going to complain. Today, the midwest is getting it's first covering of snow. Of course, this meant the kids were going CRAZY!  Plus, it drives me nuts how long it takes them to get ready into their snow gear. Put anywhoo, I was expecting this today because of all the hype from the media:

 Me on Michigan Avenue during the blizzard
And yet again, myself  on the closed Lake Shore Drive

But it wasn't. Not going to lie, the drive home from the the suburbs to the city was quicker than a normal, but I could use a snow day tomorrow. I'm beat from the first four days back!
But back to the kids, one of the things I've done over the years on snowy days is have them have a snowball fight. They hide behind a desk, and take a minute to build and pack their own snowballs, and then for 30 seconds, we have a snowball fight. Best part - it's silent. It gets all the giggles and squirms out of the kids, and they have a ball. Try it. It's great. Trust me (plus you don't get wet!).

How do you keep your kiddo's engaged during "snow"?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sale Alert

I love shopping, but even more, I love me a good sale! I'm sure I'm like many teachers who spend countless dollars on their classroom (anyone else stop adding it up each year?!). So, when I find a good sale, I feel I must share.

Anyone else use the 9 x 12 envelopes? Staples has them on sale this week for $3 (regularly $7.99).  I use them for all sorts of things from storing assessments, centers, and even for my Monday Folders. They're sturdy and they fit all sorts of goodies inside.

Run, drive, walk, train, cab, whatever to your nearest staples!

And if you get in the store... there's a coupon for 15% off your purchase of $40 or more! Have fun!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Scientists Matter in 2012

School starts on Monday and we'll be ringing in the new year with some fun science activities. Our next science unit is Matter.  This is our first physical science unit of the school year, so we haven't done any experiments yet. In order to get the kiddo's ready, we'll be doing an experiment with skittles.  We'll start off by seeing what happens to a skittle when we put it in water (use clear bowls to be able to see this - plastic work great!).  Have you done this? It's neat!  After we do this, students will share their results and then we'll  change a variable and see what happens.  Kids looovvveee to use other liquids like 7-Up or even glue!  We'll be reviewing the scientific process as we do this.

I'll also be having the students discuss what they're doing as scientists and how these are characteristics of scientists. Then, they'll write about why scientists matter.  I'm going to have them fill out the sheet below.

I created three different levels. You can get them here with a banner! Free!  You know the construction kid cut out from Abby at The Inspired Apple? I think they'll decorate one as a scientist and voila - an easy bulletin board! 

Hopefully someone can use it!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


So of course, I've had the time to post, and what happens to my work computer? It becomes overcome by a virus/trojan. Blarg. I don't have any of my programs on my home computer so I'm out of luck working on my Bingo thing until next week when it will get fixed.

However, check out Tara's Math Bags over at 4th Grade Frolics. I LOOOOVVVEE this idea so much! It's just what I've been trying to do without the bag. I hope the Dollar Tree's in Chicago are ready for me tomorrow! 

For some more ideas of what to find to go in them check out the Teaching Blog Addict's site.  This site has been linked to many ideas I've found on Pintrest (what am I going to do once I go back to school next week?!). I love the Snake game I found on Love 2 Learn and Share.

If you started back today, hopefully it went well or perhaps you're lucky like me and still enjoying break!