Wednesday, December 17, 2014


I wanted to pop in and share my quick, easy, and inexpensive parent gifts from this year. 

I bought the tile from Home Depot for about 15 cents a piece. I used red and green acrylic paint from Michaels for the kids to make fingerprint polka dots or lights {I let them choose which one they wanted to do}. My kiddos added the writing with a Sharpie. Then, we sprayed the tile with clear lacquer. This year I have one sweetie that is a Jehovah's Witness. For her, I let her turn her fingerprints into ladybugs so that she could still participate. I think they all turned out so super cute!

Today I finished wrapping the last of the tiles so that my kiddos could take them home after our class holiday party. I'm one of those people who likes to buy different wrapping paper every year, so I used  my leftover wrapping paper, bows, and tags from a couple of years ago on this project. Don't you just love when you can get extra use out of something you don't use anymore!

My school's focus this year is on improving writing instruction across the curriculum. One thing we have been encouraged to implement in our classroom is Writing Workshop. While I do love using it in my classroom, I often find that the one component that is the most difficult for me to keep up with is the closing. Silly I know, but by the end of writing I always feel like I am out of time and, while I know how valuable the closing to a lesson is, it's the one thing that I find myself leaving out. Does anyone else struggle with fitting it all in too? When I do manage to remember the closing, I choose two students who were working really hard to present their writing in our "Share Chair". Really it's just my chair that I usually sit in during read alouds, so they are always excited to be able to sit in the teacher's chair. I give them these visors to wear while they share to add to the novelty. When they finish reading their writing, the class gives them two glows {compliments} and a grow {a way to improve}. 

For Christmas, I used a reindeer visor that I found at Home Depot for our Share Chair. Oh the cuteness! I hope to find more for other seasons/holidays too!

What do you do to add novelty into your lessons?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Science Experiments in the Classroom

Do your kiddos love hands on science experiments as much as mine do?! Let's face it, our little learners love to play. Science experiments are fun! If you do it just right, kids think they are doing nothing more than playing. What they really are doing is experiencing learning with real world application. 

As much as I love doing experiments in class, sometimes they just.don' I don't have a hot plate to bring to school to melt my chocolate to show how matter changes from one state to another. I don't have an incubator to show my kiddos the life cycle of a chicken. I don't have tiny little race cars to show students the relationship between force and motion. So what do teachers do?... They improvise! If you ever feel like me and have that constant battle between wanting students to experience things in real life and having little to no materials to make that happen here are a couple of things I do instead...

Perform experiments at home and take pictures {or videotape yourself if you're brave}. 

I took these pictures at home, then created a quick Power Point to show my class. As I went through the Power Point, students recorded what they saw and made predictions of what would happen next based on prior knowledge they had. The kiddos were super excited {and surprised} to see me pull out the finished product for them to sample!

Use YouTube! Here is a video that I use to show how trees change from one season to the next.

Neither of these ideas are new, but are just some of the things I use in my classroom to!

Teacher confession: Sometimes it overwhelms me trying to figure out how to manage and gather the supplies. At my school, teachers don't get supplies for experiments. Anything we need to perform an experiment has to be bought by the teacher. I'm super lucky in that I have wonderful parents that are willing to donate supplies and/or volunteer their time to our classroom! I use SignUp Genius to help me organize my supplies. It is so easy to use and helps me to stay organized!

Now, I did have the opportunity to perform many experiments with my class. Thanks to parents for donating supplies and coming in to help us with our experiments, our week of matter fun went off without a hitch!

{All experiments come from Hope King's matter unit that you can find here.}

Monday, December 1, 2014

Retelling Fiction Text and a Freebie

Fiction text are so much fun to read, but when it comes down to having your little learners retell what they just read or *GASP* write a summary of what they just read, all the fun just gets sucked out! Am I right, or am I right?! Ha! 

In all seriousness, retelling and summarizing can be a daunting task for a first or second grader. By the end of our study, my second graders were rocking retelling, but that does't mean that there weren't a few lessons that I began to think there is no way they are going to be able to do this on.their.own. Independently and consistently are two words that come up repeatedly on our standards based report card. Those two words can be scary when all you want to do is give your kiddos guidance and support. 

So what do I do to help my kiddos master retelling and summarizing independently and consistently? 

Of course I start off with modeling over and over and over what the expectations are, but I know you already know that so here is one tip that I have to help get your kiddos off on the right track... Start small!

I always begin the year with questioning and I spend many a lesson on each of the six question starters {who, what, when, where, why, and how}. By doing this, by the time I get to retelling, my kids are use to identifying and analyzing characters, setting, problem, and solution. 

I also use a retelling rope to help my kids visualize this process. Here is my pirate style version. No reason for pirates other than this clip art from Creative Clips is just too.darn.cute! 

My retelling rope is next to the "I "mustache" you a question!" poster. 

This is one of my student's retelling ropes. The knot at the top symbolizes the problem and the bow symbolizes the solution. 

I also make an anchor chart to go along with it just in case some of my friends forget what each picture represents.

After reading several books as a class, I let my students choose books from their book bucket to retell on their own. 

First I let them work with a partner to retell their story aloud so they can listen to their retelling and self-monitor if they are missing any important information from their story. Then, I have them record their thoughts on a retelling graphic organizer.

If you'd like a copy of my pirate retelling rope, click here.

{Graphics: Creative Clips, Fonts: KG Fonts}

After my students have a firm grasp on retelling, we move into summarizing the beginning, middle, and end of a story. 

I just used a graphic organizer I had found from another packet, but you could always have your kids write their summary in their reading journal. 

If you'd like a copy of the BME chart labels you can find them here.

{Font: KG Fonts}

What do you do to teach your kiddos how to retell and summarize?

Sunday, November 30, 2014

BIG NEWS and a SALE!!!

Oh my, it's been awhile since I've visited this poor little ol' blog of mine. Sometimes life just gets in the way, ya know?! 

Some of you who follow me on Instagram may have already seen this, but we are so excited to announce that we are expecting our first little one {not of the furry kind} in May of 2015! We have so much to be thankful for and feel so incredibly blessed! 

After spending much treasured time with my sweet family over the Thanksgiving holiday, I did manage to get out late Friday night for a little Black Friday shopping. I *may* have went out yesterday for a little Small Business Saturday shopping as well. So, it's only fitting that I indulge in a little Cyber Monday shopping while I'm at it! Personally, I am looking to check everyone off of my Christmas list. {Yes, I'm that person who has to be finished with Christmas shopping three weeks in advance. I just love the way wrapped presents look under the tree, don't you agree?!} I'll also be spending some cash over at TPT. I know my wish list runneth over on clip art. IT'S AN ADDICTION! I guess there could be worse things to be addicted to right?! Ha! 

{Thank you to Jen Jones at Hello Literacy for the cute Cyber Monday graphic!}

My little shop will be on sale for 20% off Monday and Tuesday. That's right... two whole days of Cyber Monday goodness will be happening at TPT. Using the code TPTCYBER, you can get an additional 8% off your purchase! You don't wanna miss this sale! 

This how to writing product is one of my favorites and is my best seller. I'll let you in on a little secret, I will be updating this product with new graphics, fonts, and topics by the end of December. You may wanna go ahead and snag this one at it's original price!

My Noble Nouns product was the subject of my most recent product makeover and I cannot be more pleased with how it turned out! If you head over to my shop to check it out, make sure you download the preview file for a freebie!

As soon as we return from Christmas Break, I will be diving right into our fairy tale unit. I can't be more excited because it's one of my favorite units to teach. I will be using my Little Red Riding Hood supplemental activities to compare different versions of this classic fairy tale. 

This Early Finisher product has been so helpful for me and my students. I believe it is so important for students to reflect on their learning on a daily basis! I've received some of the sweetest feedback from buyers using this in their classroom and it could not make me more happy!

I truly love to blog and share various happenings in my life with others! I am thankful for all my readers and I hope to keep up more regularly with my little slice of the internet!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September Math Centers

I know, I know... the end of September is next week. This month really caught me off guard and flew by! I'm just now uploading my September Math Centers to my little shop, but if you're like me and are going to drag out your apple fun a little bit longer, head on over to check them out. 

Here students will choose one number from each basket. They will then subtract their smaller number from their bigger number to find the difference. I have also included one-digit numbers.

Don't the apple baskets make it more fun?! 

Here students will sort each equation by whether the difference makes the equation true or false. I also included simpler equations that I plan to use with my struggling kiddos.

I also included a place value center, a word problem center and a measurement center. Each center can be differentiated to fit the needs of your kiddos.

Head on over to my TPT shop to snag this product for 50% off! I figured that's the least I could do since I uploaded these centers so darn late! Ha!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Noble Nouns {An Updated Product and Freebie}

One of my first products got a MAJOR overhaul and I'm absolutely thrilled! Since we have been reviewing nouns, learning about collective nouns, and working on how to spell plural nouns correctly in our writing, I decided to give my Noble Nouns product a more modern facelift and try out my new and improved packet with my kiddos! I completely updated the graphics, fonts, and content of this packet. Let me tell you this update was way overdo and totally needed! I'm actually kind of embarrassed that I had the other one up in my store looking the way it did for so long. I know some of y'all can relate! Yikes!

If you already own the original, you can download the new one for free under your purchases tab. If you don't already own it, here is a little peek into the product.

Here is one of my kiddos using his plural noun notes in his language journal to help change a singular noun to a plural noun. This read the room activity can be found in my Noble Nouns product along with the plural noun posters. I took the posters and shrunk them down so students could glue them into their language journals. 

This little one is doing another read the room activity {I love having my kids up and moving! All the "centers" in my packet I use as read the room activities. You may certainly use them in centers though. :)}. She is reading the room to find collective nouns, then recording her collective nouns in a mini book I put together.

I did include a possessive noun activity in my packet, but I haven't gotten to it yet with my kids. Once I do I'll be sure to post that activity in action!

Head over to my little shop to snag this product! While you're there, check out the preview to download a freebie noun sort!

I'm leaving this product at it's original price through tomorrow. After that, it will go up to reflect the HUGE update {38 pages to 65 pages}!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Five for Friday

It's my favorite time of the week...time to link up for Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs!

This week we wrapped up our regions and rivers of Georgia unit with this fun edible map activity...

I had my kids use the candy and graham crackers to show the different regions of Georgia and blue gel icing to show where our rivers are. Learning is so much more fun with food don't cha think?!

 We also continued to work on the different ways to show a number. My kiddos completed this little craftivity to show their understanding of this concept...

This was my example. Theirs were on larger pieces of construction paper, so the scoops actually stacked on top of one another. I left today without snapping a picture of a student's work. Dangit! If you would like a copy of this to do with your class, you can find that here

Graphics by Krista Wallden
Fonts by Cara Carroll

This week we got a class pet.

Meet our Beta named Bubbles. He is hiding in the top left corner. Can you spot him? That's where he's been hangin' lately. Ha!

I'm putting my little shop on sale over the Labor Day weekend! You can visit my shop here for 20% off all weekend!

I just uploaded this seed ideas mini unit that I've been working on with my students the past couple of weeks. If you'd like a closer look, I did a blog post on it last night. You can find this mini unit in my shop and on sale!!

This weekend I'll be spending time with my sweet family. We'll be celebrating two family birthdays, so I picked up cupcakes from my favorite bakery today to bring to the party!

How good do those look?!

Have a great long weekend! Enjoy! You deserve it!