Wednesday, October 15, 2014


This is me
and together with my bloggy pals, we are SUPER excited to bring you a brand-spankin' new blog:
I couldn't be more honored to be teaming up with some of the most AMAZING bloggers I know! Want to know who the other Super Girls are? Well, you gotta hop over to Primary Powers to find out!

Guess what else?! WE'RE HAVING A GIVEAWAY!!!!!!! (Said in my most obnoxious Oprah voice!)

The prizes are INCREDIBLE! 
Want to win these gift cards? Well you'll have to hop over to Primary Powers to enter the Rafflecopter! We also have a Facebook Page and an Instagram account, so make sure you follow us there too for more SUPER ideas, freebies and giveaways.

Oh, and one last thing… you must check out this FABULOUS Educents bundle, put together by some of the Super Girls. It definitely packs a punch!

What are you waiting for?! Head over to Primary Powers and enter that giveaway before it's gone in a FLASH!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How to Learn

I posted this photo to Instagram about a month ago:
This is a display I put up on my white board called "How to Learn." I can't claim the idea; I originally found it here. These are the reasons why I love this board:

  • It's a visual that shows students that learning is a process. Many times along the path of learning, we make mistakes, and it's completely normal to make mistakes. 
  • The arrows show the "backing up" when mistakes are made. Students need to figure out what went wrong and then fix those mistakes. 
  • I love the "get help" piece. It shows students that it's perfectly OK to get help from me or even another student; it doesn't mean that they're not smart. 
  • It shows that mistakes can be made multiple times during learning process, because the pieces and arrows are arranged in a circle.

If you'd like a copy, you can find it here in Google Docs or here in Drop Box. I've been told that the Google Doc file isn't always downloading, so if you're having that trouble, try the Drop Box. In the file I included this version in the photo, plus a smaller version. The one in the photo has scalloped circles, so you can imagine how long it took me to cut them all out...... So the smaller version has squares instead of circles to make it faster for you to cut :)


Monday, September 15, 2014


This post is a loonnnggg time coming, but it's finally here... My Classroom Reveal!

I actually snapped these pics about 3 weeks ago, but getting ready for the school year, a long term sub, and a brand new baby has put this blog on the back burner. I finally put the baby down for long enough to get this post written. We're going to start at the door and walk clockwise around the room. Are you ready???
Welcome!! All of my students' names are on chalkboard labels on the door. I also super love my new library book bin--the blue bin by the door. Thanks, Big Lots!
This is my mailbox area.
Guided reading table. I bought that purple cardboard organizer thingy (that's the technical term) to store guided reading supplies. It has six slots, so I'm thinking one slot for each group. Hopefully I won't have more than six groups.
Right next to my reading table is this little book corner. Last year I had this area on the other side of the room on my carpet, but I had a hard time seeing the kids from the guided reading table. So I moved it closer to the table so I can keep an eye on my readers.
 I'm currently standing in the reading corner. Just turned around and snapped a pic :)
 OK, let's keep moving along the back wall. Here's my one student computer... don't worry, there are 25 more right outside my door that I share with the other first and second grade teachers. This one is just for those kids who need to stay in the room. You know who I'm talking about :) On the back board is my "How to Learn" board {freebie coming soon!}, Friend of the Week board, and it's hard to see, but there is a white magnetic curtain rod that I plan to hang anchor charts on. Next year, I will be spray painting it turquoise! Just ran out of time this year. I also have all my Word Work supplies on the other side of the computer {magnet letters, snap cubes, letter beads, etc.}.
 Here's the Word Work table. I also have my word wall back here, which I LOVE! Kids can take the words down and back to their desks, and then return when they're done. What's the point of having a word wall if the kids can't access the words? I also have my Daily 5/CAFE board back here, and on the very end is a space for the Morning Message or if I need to write on the board while the students are on the carpet.
 Here's my carpet and calendar area. I love my chair I got last year from IKEA. Under the table are my $3 IKEA bath rugs for Read to Self. I also have a whiteboard easel for chart paper or writing on.
These bookshelves divide my carpet area into two spaces. It houses my classroom library. The smaller bins are from Really Good Stuff and the larger ones are from Big Lots. I just bought them this summer because some of the bins have a ton of books in them and I needed something sturdier. On the black shelf to the left are all my chapter book series. Books are sorted by topic, genre, author, and a few are called "favorite books." Oh, and don't forget to check out some of my stuffed hippo collection on the top of the shelves :)
 Here's my job chart. Last year I used clothespins for the kids names, but they wouldn't lay flat and were always flopping around when someone walked past. So this year, I just put some velcro dots on each card and made labels with student names. To the right is where students get their papers from {most are for Writer's Workshop}, and on top is where students turn in their work. I have them sort their work by subject to make my grading process easier.
 Along the windows are all of these storage shelves! The blue bins are for student book boxes. I also have math manipulative and other teaching tools stored on these shelves. The bins on top have books organized by Fountas and Pinnell guided reading levels. On most days, I allow my students to self-select their take-home reading book, and this system helps them to choose good fit books.
 OK, don't mind the mess in this corner... These photos were taken right after Open House, so here are all my students' notebooks for the year, and I didn't know where to put them LOL! We use interactive notebooks in 5 subjects in my class :) I wish I would've turned a bit to the left to show you what's on the other side of the table, but.... I didn't. There is a storage cart over there with math manipulatives and extra crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors, a stapler... all those fun supplies for those kiddos who've lost their green marker but need to color the grass.
 This is my "hang my head in shame" photo. After 5 years of being desk-less, I asked for my teacher desk back this year. *womp womp* I really don't want it at all, but I am a self professed Paper Queen, and I noticed last year that I was taking up space at student work tables and even my guided reading table with all my junk really important papers. So here it is...... boo.
 SMARTBoard and whiteboard. Like my neon green hippo? I love you, Hobby Lobby!
 Another angle of the front of my room.
 Icky desk, but I had to get this pic so you could see my hippo canvas basket that has all my clip boards in it. I wanted to make some kind of fun display for the front of my desk, but I ran out of time.
And we're back at the door! What do you think? It's too bad I won't be back here until November... really, I mean that! But instead, my long-term sub can enjoy it while I enjoy this little love:

Alright, I need to go pick up the baby and snuggle her now! :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Made It: Student Birthday Gifts

Guess what?


I will be celebrating with a Dairy Queen ice cream cake later tonight. Not sure if I'm going to share it with the rest of my family though... #sorrynotsorry. Hey, I'm 38+ weeks pregnant. DON'T JUDGE! :)

I posted how I celebrate birthdays in my classroom a few months ago {click here}, but today I want to share the super cute birthday gifts I made for my students this upcoming year. I've never actually given my students birthday gifts before. Not sure why... maybe because by the time I think about doing it, a few birthdays have gone by, and then some of my kiddos would be left out. My principal gives all kids a birthday pencil or pen, so I don't want to do that. And I don't want the gift to be some cheap trinkety thing that breaks or causes more problems than it does any good.

So I thought to myself: what is something that all kids need?


Yep. I will give my students erasers.

I found these gems at the local teacher store: 
These have holes in the bottom, so the students can put them on the ends of their pencils. I thought that some of my rough-and-tough boys (and maybe girls too!) might not want a cupcake eraser, so I got these too:
Then I picked up a package of those small bags you put candy in from Walmart and whipped up some cute labels. I used child labor this project as an opportunity for my children to hone their fine motor skills to help me assemble...
FREEBIE ALERT! Click {here} if you want these labels.
(For whatever reason, not all of the pages are showing up when you click the link. But if you click the download arrow at the top, they all show up!)

Today's post is brought to you by 4th Grade Frolics and the number 32!

Oh and one more thing... Today is the LAST DAY to enter my Oh Baby! giveaway.
 Want to win $20 to my store? Click {here} for the details!


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Idea: Using Visuals to Establish Routines and Expectations

Are you ready for another installment of BRIGHT IDEAS?! I sure am!

Setting routines and expectations is so incredibly important at the beginning of the school year. It will be an uphill battle for the entire year if you and your students aren't on the same page. I learned very early on in my teaching career to never assume ANYTHING when it comes to routines!

One thing we spend lots of time doing at the beginning of the year is set expectations for classroom and school routines. From transitioning to the carpet, transitioning back to desks, how to organize desks, how to use the pencil sharpener, how to find a book and put it away, lining up, walking in the hall, using the bathroom, hanging up back packs, and so much more, I can't stand the sound of my own voice by the end of the first week of school!

In order to set these routines, my students and I develop rubrics and use lots of photos to create anchor charts we can refer to throughout the year. The first kind is a 3-2-1 anchor chart. In my school, we are striving for 3s. This first chart shows students how to line up to walk in the hallway:
We start by making a list of appropriate lining-up behaviors. Then we practice lining up like a 1: YIKES! I take a picture. Then we sit back down and try it again; this time we are a 2: ALMOST... I snap another pic. We sit back down. Lastly we are a 3: PERFECT! Notice the colors too: red for 1, yellow for 2, green for 3. Green = good to go! After I get the photos printed, I will put the chart together and we review it again. It's hard to tell in the above photo, but the chart hangs right by the door to remind students what to do. 

The awesome thing about the 3-2-1 poster, is that I will hold up 3 fingers, 2, fingers, or 1 finger to signal to the kids where we're at. I also train my kids how to remind others around them to be a "3 Line." You know, because shouting at friends to be quiet and shushing them loudly is COMPLETELY counterproductive. So I teach them to tap their neighbor on the shoulder, give the quiet sign (putting a finger to their mouth, as if to say "shh"), face forward, and be a 3 again. I will change my fingers as we improve, and as soon as we're a 3, it turns to a thumbs up, and we are on our way! I also have green, yellow, and red cards on a ring that I will hold up when we are in super crazy situations, like coming in from recess.

The next one hangs in the hallway. Each student gets one hook, although each hook has two hooks, one on top of the other. So we talk about how backpacks need to be zipped and hanging up, with lunch boxes on the top shelf. As it gets colder, we also talk about how to hang up and organize snow gear. It's quite the balancing act, but it IS possible to hang up snow pants, winter coats, and backpacks on the hooks. And most kids usually have a tote bag too, to carry their snow pants and boots home. Does it require a bit of rearranging? Yes. But I want my kids to be responsible and take care of their belongings.
The second kind of routines anchor chart I have is a list-type poster. Last year I noticed a lot of my kids slouching in their seats or resting their heads on their desks or arms during learning time. So we came up with a list of what "Ready to Learn" looks like. Then we practiced, and I took some pictures of kids who were ready to learn.
I hung up this poster at the front of my room so that I could refer to it if I needed to. There was some serious competition to be in the photos! :) I've also made posters like this for what the Daily 5 stations look like, what math work time looks like, what it looks like to work at a computer/with an iPad, etc.

In case you're wondering, I do this with my class every single year. I do not keep these charts from year to year. I feel that creating these charts together helps students "buy into" the routines, plus I want to use THEIR photos, not photos of my class from previous years. Also, each class has different needs. Last year was the first year we needed to review "Ready to Learn" behaviors, but this year *fingers crossed* we won't have to do that.

If you liked this BRIGHT Idea, please consider joining me on FacebookInstagram or TPT. For more BRIGHT Ideas from over 100 bloggers, make sure you check out the link up below. Just choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

OH BABY! It's Giveaway Time!

I recently hit a blogging milestone (1,500 followers) and my birthday is 11 short days away, and I wanted to do something special to celebrate. I don't really have the time to put together a massive giveaway, so I decided to do something different: A Baby Pool!
 Guess the details of the birth of our Baby #3, and you could win $20 to spend in my TPT store! I've set up the baby pool here. It's free to join and to make a prediction. The rules and how to earn points are listed here, which THANK GOODNESS, because I have no idea how I would tally up who would be the winner! Sorry, giveaway is now closed! Will keep you posted on Baby's upcoming arrival :)

Some details you might want to know about my previous pregnancies:

  • We don't know the gender, although this pregnancy has been very similar to my daughter's.
  • I'm due August 31st.
  • My son was two days early and my daughter was one day late.
  • My son was 8 pounds, 9 ounces, and my daughter was 8 pounds, 1 ounce.
  • Both my kids were born with lots of hair: my son's was brown, and my daughter's was black.
  • I went to the doctor yesterday, and without being too detailed... this baby isn't coming any time soon :)
Out of fairness for those who participate, predictions can be made until my birthday, August 18th, and then I will be closing the Baby Pool. Good luck!!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Weekend Warriors Back to School BASH!

I'm teaming up with my Weekend Warrior girls to bring you a Back to School Bash!
I am SO stinkin' excited for the Teachers Pay Teachers Blast Off Back to School sale, it's not even funny. My cart is FULL and READY TO GO! Shhh.... don't tell the hubs :)

We are celebrating the TPT Back to School Sale this weekend with some giveaways. Each of us is giving away a B2S product from our stores, and the grand prize is $5 from each store PLUS a $50 Amazon gift card! Can I enter??? I suppose it would be bad if I did...

My B2S giveaway is so hot off the presses I just posted it to TPT last night! I've been working on this product for almost a year, testing and tweaking it in my classroom to make sure it was just right.

Drum roll please......
What I love most about this new product is that it combines number sense and word problems. Students  are given a Number of the Day to practice determining even & odd, counting and skip counting, and expressing the number in different forms (word form, expanded form, and with Base-10 block pictures). Then on the other side of the page, students solve a word problem, tell the unit, write a number sentence, and explain how they solved the problem. I tell my students "I just knew it" is not acceptable as an explanation for how they solved the problem.  Being able to explain their thinking is a critical skill in the CCSS as well as the Smarter Balanced test that's coming our way THIS YEAR! YIKES! Here's a little bit about how Daily Math Jump Start is set up:

Here are some close ups:
Booklet cover page from the August pack.
Here's what one of the pages from the August pack looks like.
Want to win a copy of Daily Math Jump Start for August? Enter this Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

We aren't done just yet! We're all giving away $5 to our stores. That would be $60 worth of products from these AMAZING bloggers/TPTers:

Oh, and a little something special to help you get ready for this upcoming school year:
Here's the Rafflecopter for the GRAND PRIZE:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to stop over at my bloggy friends' blogs to enter their giveaways too!

Alright, I gotta go and keep filling my TPT cart! WOOO!!!

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