Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Organizing Your Classroom Library

I'm so excited to be hoppin' along with my Primary Powers gals for this super fun Organization blog hop.
I will be the first to admit, organization is NOT the name of my game. Observe…
OMG. Did I really just admit to this on the world wide web? Classic case of "Do as I say, not as I do" for my students.

Anyhoo, I do my best to keep all my students' supplies organized. One area that is a MUST for organization is my classroom library. I have 3 areas of books in my classroom for my students.

I have two display shelves that I switch out monthly. One of the shelves I use for seasonal books, and the other one has books related to the science or social studies topic we are learning about. I also put our class books here.
The shelves are looking a little bare because my kiddos have scooped up the books and put them in their book boxes :)
We use F&P levels at my school, so on the counter by my windows, I have a bin for each reading level in my classroom.
While my kids all know their independent reading levels, I don't what them to solely rely on their level when choosing books to read. Therefore, most of my books are organized by either genre, series or author.
The smaller black shelf has all of my chapter books on it. These bins I scored from Walmart several years ago, and they're perfect for chapter books!

I have two taller bookshelves that hold my magazines, fiction, and nonfiction books.
So how do I keep all these books in the right bins? I thought that my students would just know that a Magic Treehouse book went in the Magic Treehouse bin, but I was finding books all over the place! So last year I overhauled my entire library and numbered every. single. book. All I can say is THANK GOODNESS for AMAZING parent volunteers!! On the label of each bin there is a number, and I put a rummage sale dot sticker on each book to match the bin. So if someone finds a #14 book laying around, they know to put it in the #14 bin. Problem solved!

I'm guessing I'm in the extreme minority with a hippo themed room, so I've made my classroom library labels a little more generic as a freebie. It's an editable document, so all you'll have to do is type in what you want each of your bins to be called. The labels fit perfectly in the Really Good Stuff label holders, if you have them. For my bins that don't have these label holders, I just covered the entire label with clear packaging tape.

That's all for now! Hop on over to see Deirdre at A Burst of First for your next classroom organization tip!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

One Little Word for 2015

I'm excited to join forces with the Primary Powers' super girls to share my New Year's Resolution. One Word for 2015. Are you ready?
Aside from being Super Mom and Super Teacher, I have a lot of things I want to do: blog, create products, start an Etsy store… except there aren't 57 hours in a day. I can't do it all. So what's most important?

My family.
I posted something on Instagram earlier this week: accept that "good enough" is really good enough. I was surprised and encouraged by the amount of positive feedback I got. Let's be real for a second: we all work our you-know-whats off. I'm not going to bring 4 hours worth of work home every night anymore, and I'm not going to beat myself up for not doing so. I will work as hard as I can when I'm at work, and then I will come home to be with my family.
I don't want my kids to look back at their childhood and remember their mom behind a computer screen.

So, friends, you might not see a whole lot of me on this blog in 2015 (I do post frequently to Instagram though). It's not because I don't want to be here. In fact, I have a list a mile long of blog posts I want to write. I just want to be present with my family more. They're only little for so long. And I'm going to soak up every second.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

WW: Delicious December

Happy Winter Break, friends! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are relaxing and enjoying your well-deserved time off! The Weekend Warrior girls and I have decided to take a little break this month from school content to bring you some of our favorite recipes. I know that I like to use this break to organize my life, which includes finding new recipes! So without further ado, we bring you Delicious December!
A few things you need to know about my cooking "style." I can't cook. I'm really good at dumping food into the pan/pot (as you'll soon discover). I like recipes with ingredients I've heard of and that make the fewest number of dirty dishes.

We are BIG Green Bay Packers fans in this house, and with the Wisconsin Badgers heading to the Outback Bowl next week, we have a few "go-to" dishes we serve.

We always have some kind of soup cooking on Sundays. The hubs is the master soup maker over here, and while I begged and pleaded for him to share his turkey chili recipe, he insists it stay a secret. Fine. Be that way. Occasionally, he allows me to make my chicken taco soup, and it is SO tasty!
The recipe calls for garlic, but we just buy the pre-minced garlic in a jar instead of the actual cloves. It also calls for half an onion, but if you don't have an onion, onion powder works just fine too. When we make this, we usually buy a rotisserie chicken. You could buy a raw, whole chicken and cook it yourself, but I like to do things the easy way! :) We use the breasts to make something else (usually enchiladas), and then use the rest of the meat for the soup. If you want to use the whole chicken, then just double the recipe. Also, I use my mom's canned tomatoes for the tomato sauce. I'm not sure what the equivalent would be at the grocery store.

I also love this super easy chicken taco dip. 4 ingredients. Throw into crock pot. DONE!
I wasn't able to get a picture before the hubs and the littles attacked this! My kids don't like black olives, so I leave it out when I make it. 

Lastly, we do need to eat something on the healthy side, so we make this fruit salsa and cinnamon chips recipe.
I could seriously eat the whole batch by myself! It's got fruit; it's healthy, right? You can buy the cinnamon chips from some grocery stores (we usually find them at our local fresh food market, rather than a chain grocery store); however, we like the homemade ones best.
You can make the chips two ways:
1. Using Pam butter flavored spray. It's easier and not as messy, but not as tasty.
2. Using melted butter. Your kitchen will be a hot mess, but they taste SO much better. And I'm sure they're healthier too… (that was me being sassy!)

Click here for the recipes! I've included them in full 8x11 size or a smaller 3x5 for a recipe book.

I am noticing a theme with my recipes…. taco soup, chicken taco dip, fruit salsa and chips…. Yes we eat a lot of Mexican food in this house! My dad is from Mexico, so I grew up eating a lot of tortillas! YUM!!!

Make sure you check out the other recipes my Weekend Warrior friends are sharing this month!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Spectacular Secret Santa!

A few of my second grade bloggy pals and I teamed up this holiday season for a fun Secret Santa exchange!
I have made so many amazing friendships through blogging! I had just as much fun purchasing my gifts for my Secret Santa recipient as I did receiving my own package!

Since Marcy and I coordinated this event, we decided to exchange names so that we could keep everyone else's Secret Santa a surprise. And secretly, I wanted to have Marcy's name to buy for because she's one of my BBFs… Best Bloggy Friends! Some day I'll get to meet her and hug her in real life. Vegas 2015??? Please say YES!

I was excited to come home last Wednesday to a package on my doorstep. Unfortunately, UPS was not kind to my package :(
Luckily, Marcy wrapped it up really well and nothing was broken or wrecked!

Want to see what was inside??
 I am LOVING everything in my package!

Santa is Coming to Texas book: This one didn't make it to school. My own Wisco kids were AMAZED by the all Texas landmarks, especially the space center! We have seriously read this book about 10 times!
Fun sticky notes: You can never have too many sticky notes! And these have POLKA DOTS on them!!
A giant N cork board: I actually put this by my classroom door and hang parent notes on it. That way, I can't forget if Johnny is a car rider today! Marcy even drew me a hippo and stuck it on the board. You better believe that hippo is staying up there all year long! Click here to see it in action on Instagram.
Natural Touch lotion: This lotion is actually made by Marcy's family! How cool is that?! I'm always using lotion in the winter. My hands get so dry from constantly washing all the kiddo germs away, and it's hard to find a lotion that isn't greasy but moisturizes well. This is IT friends!! If you're looking for a new lotion, check this out!
Sour Patch Kids: no explanation needed. They were gone in less than an hour...
This is my "Uh oh, I ate those really fast. Now I'm going to get a belly ache..." face
Check out the link up below to see what my other friends received!

Happy Holidays, friends!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cyber Monday Blog Hop Stop #5

Hi friends! I'm teamming up with my Primary Powers' girls to bring you this AMAZING blog hop on Cyber Monday. We have teamed up with Go Noodle to bring you our favorite ideas for using GN in your class!
I am Stop 5 on our blog hop!
If you want to start at the beginning, head over to Molly's blog by clicking the button below! 
Today, I'm sharing how I use GoNoodle after recess. AFTER recess, you say?! You bet! We have a 45 minute break during the middle of the day for lunch and recess, and when that bell rings at 12:15 to come inside, my students are often still all wound up from their recess shenanigans. Especially during the winter months, when they're frantically taking off their snow gear and hanging it up in the hallway, they need some kind of relaxation activity to calm them down so we can get back to learning.

Enter GoNoodle!

Did you know that besides "wake me up" brain breaks, GoNoodle also has "calm me down" activities as well? Our ultimate favorite calm down activity is Flow. I've only explored the 2nd grade version of Flow, but there are grades K-7! There are lots of different options to manage stress and adjust attitudes. We personally like the one where you imagine you are holding a balloon. Here's a quick video of my kiddos in action. Don't mind my amateur video-taking skills :)
Empire State is another one we like. It's hosted by Maximo, and he is quite the funny guy! He leads kids through a series of stretches and balancing activities. Students definitely need to be calm and in control to do this activity!

Airtime is a fun one for kids to practice breathing in and out slowly. In this activity, you choose what state you want to start in and "travel" across the US. When you land, there are fun facts about where you land! There is also a space version called Airtime Space. Same concept, except this time you're traveling through outer space. I love doing this one when we are learning about the solar system to tie in our science curriculum. 

These are just a few of the calming activities we like to do after recess. There are lots more you can do too, so make sure you check them out! 

GoNoodle has generously given me a class set of GoNoodle stickers to give away to one of my awesome followers! My kiddos go CRAZY for stickers, and with the GoNoodle guys on them, they are a HIT! You can enter the giveaway through the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And because GoNoodle is SO awesome, we have one more surprise for you!
Starting on Cyber Monday, GoNoodle is also offering all Primary Powers readers 30% purchases from the GoNoodle Shop through December 8! Use the code POWERS30 at checkout to receive the discount PLUS a special gift from GoNoodle and Primary Powers. In addition to new t-shirts, tumblers, and other goodies for GoNoodling teachers, you can purchase affordable, pre-wrapped gift packs for students to bring a little GoNoodle love to your classroom this holiday.

Alright let's keep hoping! Each blog will have some more swag you can win, and at the end you can enter to win a year's subscription to Go Noodle Plus!! :)
Click the image above to head over to The Tutu Teacher!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

WW: Classroom Necessities - Nail Polish Remover

Hi friends! I'm back to share more great ideas with my Weekend Warrior pals!
Again, as I scoured my classroom for my "must have" to share with you, I tried to bring you a necessity that you might not have or know about.

Enter the Sally Hanson Nail Polish Remover.
Yes. It MUST be Sally Hanson. Why? I have no idea! Maybe it has something to do with the acetone. But the knock off/generic brands DO NOT work!

When I buy labels or name tags, I usually laminate them so I can use them from year to year. Then I write the students' names on the lamination with a Sharpie so it doesn't wipe off. But what happens at the end of the year, when you want the PERMANENT marker to come off so you can use it next year? I'm sure most of you have heard of the dry erase marker trick. Just color over the permanent marker with a dry erase marker, give it some elbow grease, and voila! Well, yes, this does work. But I have an EVEN BETTER trick! Just put a little bit of the nail polish remover on a tissue or cotton ball and wipe it off!

These are my birthday cupcakes. Before....
And if you really want to see how fast and amazing this is, here's a video:
I did do a little extra at the end to wipe up some of the liquid left over, but isn't this incredible?! Just make sure you're using this in a well-ventilated space :)

Check out some more must haves from my girls below! Happy Sunday!

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