Tuesday, July 31, 2012

New (School) Year Resolutions

Hooking up with Teaching Maddeness again with her latest linky party New Years Resoltions.  I always have great intentions with New Year Resoultions (both school year and personal), but I always seem to end up failing at them. 

So maybe now that I have put my resoultions out here in bloggy land I will do a better job of it this school year.

#1  Being more organized
This seems to be on the top of my resoultion list every year.  I start off doing okay but then the students come with all their stuff, meetings, etc. and the organization goes out the window.  I'm sure by now everyone has heard about the Teachers Toolbox.  I have bought my toolbox from Lowes, and have my scrapbooking paper.  (Purple zebra stripes- my favorite color) So hopefully this weekend I will get that completed. 
I have two teammates that have super clean desks all the time.  So my teachers desk is the start of my organization.

So being organized leads into my next resolution.

#2 Putting everything away before I leave.
This will also help with #1.  So many afternoons when the bell rings I stand in the hallway and talk with the other teachers about our day.  By the time I'm done talking I look at the time and call it a day.  I tell myself I will clean up in the AM but that doesn't work.  So I have to make myself stay and tidy things up before I leave. 

#3 My Blog
Last June I started this blog.  My plan was to take pictures and blog about the activities that we do.  Well I didn't do a good job of that at all last year. 

#4 Try and stay positive
Last year our district/school saw many changes in Admin.  We started MAP testing with students for the first time last year, and have several Math changes too.  Yes, Math changes.  We started off the year with new pacing charts that were aligned to CCSS.  Then after 1st qtr. that was changed to something new called Complete Curriculum that didn't really fit our needs.  Now this school we year adopted My Math.  Hopefully math will go much smoother this year.
Now that is all in the past. I'm ready for a fresh start and dwell on what I can't control.

That should do it for my New School Year Resoulutions. Now that I put resoultions out here in bloggy land for all to read. That should help me to stick with them. 

I will be back later this week with a Back to School Freebie.  Maybe even some pictures of my classroom.  (Today I got word that my classroom has been cleaned and ready for teachers to come.) I didn't really want to go in until next week, but now that it is ready I'm not sure I can stay away.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A New Addition to My Blog

A few weeks ago I had someone suggest having things offered in Spanish.  Since I don't know how to speak let alone write in Spanish this isn't something I can do.  It seemed like a great idea. So I asked my friend Virginia Duran to come on board with me and create things in Spanish.  Virginia will be blogging here soon.  She has some great ideas to share.  Yesterday Virginia and I were going to take our picture to share on here, but I forgot all about it.  Since I was at Virginia's wine tasting party maybe that was a good thing.  I promise I will get a picture uploaded of the two of us so you can "Meet us".

In my general education classroom. I usually have about 5 families where English/Spanish is spoken at home, and there is usually a few that is just Spanish. Our school sends newsletters and things like that in Spanish.  But the things that I send home it's only in English. Usually an older brother or sister translate things for the parents.  Of course as a classroom teacher I always want all of my parents to read what I send home.

So now that I have Virginia on board I now have a back to school survey that I  send home.  Of course Virginia might have to read the survey's when they come back to me if they write in Spainish.

My Parent Brag Sheet is a two pages where I ask questions about their child.  This is the parents time to brag about their child; telling me about their child at school and at home.  You learn so much just from reading these.  I always tell my students this is homework for the parents.  They get such a great kick out of that.    I have to warn you though  you might need some kleenex when you read these. 

The second part I added to the file is a student survey.  This is for the students to fill out in class. (3 pages)

So between these two surveys you get a well rounded picture of the student/family.  If you are interested in purchasing this they can be found at TPT and TN.  I apologize if the thumbnails at TPT are not working. 

 In Spanish TPT   TN

In English TPT   TN

So what are some other suggestions that you would like to see in English/Spanish?  Any suggestions would be great.  Just leave a comment below and we will take your requests into consideration.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rockin' Resources

There are so many great linky parties out there in bloggy land. Rockin’ Resources is a great one for this time of year hosted by Kelley from Teacher Idea Factory (BTW- I also love her dad, Ron Browns CD’s.  I have a few of them and use them all the time. )

 I couldn’t resist linking up to this one.   I’m finding lots of great ideas that are on my wish list now. 

Well here at my Top 5 Rockin' Resources.  (In no particular order.)
#1  The Scotch Laminator
I bought this at Target for about $27 a few years ago with a gift card from one of my Christmas presents from a student.  Even without the gift card it was one of the best purchases I have made!  I keep this at home.  I actually like using this more than our school laminator.  Plus we don’t have to hear about how much laminating we used or how the laminator keeps breaking.  Which BTW the teachers can’t use anymore since we kept breaking it, but it still breaks down all the time.
#2  Dry Erase Boards

Dry erase boards are great to use with students.  I have one for each of my students.  I love how it saves on paper and it makes for a quick and easy assessment.  I use it every single day.

#3  Chair Pockets
Well you won’t find this one at the stores. My mom made these for my class.  I’m always telling her she should sell them.  There isn’t a lot of storage in the student desks, so this helps store light things like folders or spirals.  It also helps keeps the students organized. 
#4  Nametags

I love how you can reuse them.  I use them for student lunch numbers in the beginning of the year.  Also good for field trips.

#5  Paper cutter

I have one of these in my classroom and at home.  Our school is huge.  So when I need to cut some paper it isn’t always easy to make it down to the teacher’s lounge.  It makes it so easy to have in the classroom.

Well that's my Top 5 Rockin' Resources.  It was much harder than I thought to narrow it down to 5. 

Happy T.G.I.F.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What's Cookin' Good Lookin'?

Let's just say cooking isn't one of my hobbies.  I don't hate cooking.  It's just a lot of work for one person. Plus there is the clean up.  That's the part about cooking I dislike the most.  It is so much easier just to make a quick sandwhich, salad, or just eat out.  (Which this summer I have done way too much!!)

Well every once in awhile I don't mind cooking as well long as it is something simple to make.

 The other day I had a friend over for dinner so I thought I would link up with Susan from T.G.I.F.  Linky party it's her first linky party. 

I actually had all the ingredients for this recipe so I made it for the very first time.  (Minus the shredded cheese, but it was still good)

Taco Pasta

1 pound ground beef
8-12 ounces medium pasta shells or other small dry pasta shapes, cooked and drained
1/2 cup pasta water
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies, drained (if making this for kids, you might want to use just plain diced tomatoes)
1 packet (4 tablespoons) taco seasoning
3 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper
In a large skillet or sauté pan, cook the ground meat over medium-high heat until no longer pink. A few minutes before the meat is cooked through, add the chopped onion to the skillet. Add in the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the cooked pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water, and continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce a bit if it is still too thin. Toss in the cilantro right before serving. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and serve. 

Last year when I first started my blog I had a cooking linky party.  I believe I only had 3 people link up.  So if  you missed that you can check out the recipes.

Then during the past school year I had also posted another recipe.

Coming Soon to my blog-  I will be having one of my co-workers joining me.  Virginia is a first grade bilingual teacher. I look forward to blogging with her. Virginia has lots of good ideas.   So check back soon to meet Virginia.   

One more thing.  Courtney from Swimming Into Second is having a 1000 follower giveaway.  Today one of the items she is giving away is from me.  Check it out!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Construction Theme and Giveaway Winner

This summer our school is under construction.  Two new classrooms are being built, kindergarten classes are being redesigned, and a bunch of outside work.  So when our school leadership met to discuss a new theme for the 2012-13 school year Construction theme was the winner.

I've been trying to find construction theme ideas, but haven't found that many.  Most construction theme rooms are pre-k.  So far I haven't how I am going to decorate my room.  Usually by now I have my room planned out, things purchased, and ready to set up my classroom.

I'm starting to get nervous about what I'm going to do, and when we will be able to get into our classrooms.  On Thursday I did purchase my first 2 items for my construction theme.

 I purchased a blue construction hat.  (One of our school colors is blue.)  I'm thinking I might add a label to front- R.C. Hill Construction Worker or something like that.  On the first day I always take their picture so I thought this would be perfect.

I also purchased the fancy dangling construction cut-outs.   I know I still need to buy the yellow caution tape.  Other than that I am having trouble finding things that I like.  I guess it's time to be creative and make my own things.

And the winner of my 600 Follower Giveaway is  . . . .

Liz Langhoff  Congratulations!  I will be emailing you after this post to talk about which 6 free items you want and your TPT gift certificate. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


When I first started teaching 2nd grade about 10 years ago.  (I can't believe I've been teaching 2nd for that long.)  I started playing Homeworkopoly with my students. I haven't done Homeworkopoly in awhile since I changed to rewarding students with PAW tickets.  This was a part of our school wide PBIS program.  Students could earn PAW tickets for following the school rules.  One of the school rules was to Be Here Be Ready (which includes having your homework completed.)

So I did not want to compete with our PBIS school store so I put away my homeworkopoly board.  Well of course times change and PBIS is still part of our school, but now we can have more freedom to incorporate our own things. 

That got me thinking of bringing out my homeworkopoly board again for homework.  Then out of the blue I had a customer asking me about my homeworkopoly board.  So I got my old file out and I started to take a look at it.  Of course I had to revamp it.   There are so many more graphics out there I had to do some tweaking. 

Well here is a picture of it.  The picture is kind of dark since the board is sitting on my kitchen table.

A closer look at some of the spots on the game board.

Homeworkopoly is  a great way to motivate students to complete their homework and turn it in by Friday.  (I have weekly homework packets.)  I only played on Fridays.  Once the students got the hang of playing it really did not take a long time. I would do this on Friday mornings when students work on the morning journals. 

If you are interested in my School Kids Homeworkopoly Board Game you can purchase it for $8 at my TPT and TN stores.

No promises, but I hope to do a couple of themed ones as well.  It does take a lot of time to work on.  I'm thinking of a sportsolopy as my next one.

Of course if you enter my giveaway.  This could be one of the items you may choose.

Stayed tune for some an exciting news about my blog.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Must Have Picture Books

The Teacher Wife
I love reading books.  Every time I go to a bookstore, teacher’s conference, or blog hopping I’m always finding new books to purchase.  I swear the UPS man knows my address by heart for dropping off so many Amazon book boxes to my house. 

The Teacher’s Wife is having the coolest linky party I have ever seen.  Must Have Picture Books.  I’m sure this is going to cost me big time browsing all the blogs that over posted so far.  I see more Amazon boxes in my future.  It is hard to narrow it down to a few book here is a few of them.

Take Me Out of the Bathtub and other silly songs.  I found this on Mrs. Madden’s new blog. I just had to have this one I thought it would be great for poetry and fluency practice.

I Wanna Iguana .  I love this one for teaching persuasive writing.

Crazy Like a Fox- For teaching about similes. 

Roller Coaster- Great for teaching the trait "ideas "to student.  Students really see how to focus on just one topic.

A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue- A must have to help control the tattling in your classroom.

Well that was a hard job to do finding just a few books that I must have.

Don't forget about my blog giveaway below.  The giveaway ends Saturday.

Monday, July 16, 2012

600 Follower Giveaway

Well as I am writing this post I am one follower shy of 600, but I thought I would go ahead anyway. I'm sure I can get one more by the time the giveaway is over.

With back to school just around the corner who couldn't use 6 free items from my store and a $25 gift card to TPT.

I am using Rafflecopter again for my giveawy. There are many different ways you can enter this giveawy.

Contest ends this Saturday.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The next person who says . . .

Just had to share this.  I thought it was funny. My brother is always telling me how easy of a job that teaching is-that we do play all day and only work 9-3 9 months a year.  (It always makes me mad!) But I know we wouldn't last one hour in any classroom.  

Also this made me think of every time we go on a field trip and the chaperones at the end of the day always say how exhausted they are.  Usually these are the parents that appreciate what we do. 

Well hope you got a good chuckle out this also.

Hope everyone is enjoying their Sunday.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Target Finds

Lately I have been hearing a lot about all the great Target finds.  The last time I went to my Target the bins were empty, but they had tons of boxes that were ready to be unpacked. 

Well today was the day I went back to Target to see what great items I could pick up.  I’m lucky to have 2 Targets that are real close to my house.  So I just might have to visit the other one the next time I’m out shopping.  I’ve been reading on other blogs that some people travel up to an hour to go to their nearest Target.  I’m so sorry to hear that. I'm constantly going to Target. 

Starting from the front left
Foam Shape Buntings- not sure how I’m going to use this yet, but I’m sure I will think of something.  I always do.
Lint Roller-  This idea came from Comprehension Connections by Tanny McGregor. This is a great way to explain “Schema” to students.  The lint roller picks up stuff it comes in contact with because it is sticky.  Much of the same way we pick up stuff when we read.  Plus it came in purple so I had to get it.
5 Minute Quick Quiz- I got the Math Blast Addition and Word Fun Challenge.  I thought I would laminate these and use them for center activities.
Pop Up Box and Dotted Paper Pails- Thought this would be good to have near my dry erase boards to hold things like dry erase markers, magnets, etc.  I’m sure I will think of more uses for this as well.
Cell Phone Holder-  This was so cute I just had to have this one.
Purple Colander- I got this idea from a reading workshop I went to in the spring.  This is a great way to teach Main Idea.  When you read a book all the important ideas are sifted and saved.  The unimportant information is lost out of the holes.
Small Plastic containers- I might use this for some of my small math manipulatives like dice or other small things.

I'm also on a behavior theme clip chart streak this week. Today I finished a racing theme one.  It's on TPT and TN stores if you are interested.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Being Lazy and 2 new clip charts

Today I am just having one of those days where I just don't feel like doing much.  I think it was the lack of sleep I got yesterday that finally caught up to me.  I did have great plans to work on some new themed items (More information to come on that) and maybe even doing some cleaning.  Needless to say I haven't done much of either. 

Well anyway I was wide awake last night so I created two new behavior clip charts.  

Owl Theme

Space Theme

You can purchase these at

TN    and TPT

Well that's it for now.  Maybe I'll read or watch some TV tonight.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Paper Mache Globes; A Favorite Classroom Activity

This past May I wanted to blog about my Paper Mache Globes.  It is by far one of my favorite activities that I do every year. I know it is time consuming and messy, but it is well worth it.  Map and Globes is our last unit in social studies. So this makes a great end of year fun activity to fill up those last days of school.

The end of the school year is always busy, and I never got the chance to blog about my globes.  So when I saw Mrs. Madden’s Favorite Classroom Project I thought now would be a good time as ever to do blog on this topic.   You know I won’t have time next may either.

I wish I had taken the time to snap a few photos of the project.  I am really bad about remembering to take pictures.  This school year I plan to do a better job of that.

How to make Paper Mache Globes

Glue mixture (2 cups water to 1 part glue- I actually use a little more water)
Newspaper strips (I use old telephone books.) cut into 1 or 2 inch strips

Blue tempera paint/brushes

1.    Blow up the balloon. 

2.  Apply paper strips by dipping the paper strips into the glue mixture and place them around the balloon.  Continue until the entire balloon is covered.  (make sure the strips are not dripping wet)

3.  You may want to do another layer to make sure there are no holes/gaps.  (This is why I like to use old telephone books yellow strips one layer/white for the 2nd layer.)

4.  Attach a string labeled with the child’s name and hang to try

5.  Use a large paintbrush to paint the entire globe blue (for water). 

6.  Color and cut out paper continents.  Glue them onto the globe in the correct place.

7.  Label the continents and oceans.

This project is time consuming but it is a lot of fun.  We have found that it works well to get a couple of parent volunteers.  It is messy so please instruct everyone to wear old clothes.

 **If you don’t want to mess with the Paper Mache part.  You can use dark blue tissue paper to cover the balloon and cut out continents from green tissue paper.  This method is much faster but globes do not last very long.

This is always a favorite project of my students.  I even have students come back and visit years later and they tell me they still have their Paper Mache Globes. 
Here’s the link to the Continents that I have students glue to the globes.  Arthur’s Balloon Globe
Hopefully next year I will have some pictures to use in my blog posts about this fun globe activity.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

4th of July Flash Sale

I'm having a Fourth of July Flash sale.  Everything in both my TPT and TN stores will be 20% off for one day only.

Be sure to check out my current best sellers- Themed First Day Guidebooks and Themed Clip Charts.

First Day Guide Book

Behavior Clip Chart

Don't see your theme.  Just let me know what theme you are looking for.  This is the time of the year when I have time to work on themed items.

Some of my new items.

COPS resource for writing

Get to know your students- Includes both parent brag sheet and student survey

Happy 4th of July

I can't believe it's July already!  As a teacher I always hate it when the calendar turns over to July.  It seems that as soon as July comes the summer really goes by super fast. 

However I do enjoy the 4th of July and watching all the fireworks, and good food with family and friends.

In honor of 4th of July I have a freebie for a limited time.  So be sure to download it soon.  Click on the image below to download from Google Docs.

Have a great 4th of July!