Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cyber Monday Linky Party and Roll & Read Mega Bundle


I didn't go shopping on Black Friday, but I am all about Cyber Monday! TPT is offering a Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) sale using the code TPTCYBER. All of my products will be 20% off and TPT will offer an additional 10% off. In the spirit of Cyber Monday I'm linking up with a few blogging buddies to offer some resources at additional savings too!

I've decided to bundle all of my Roll & Read games in one mega bundle and put it on super sale for the next few days.


This mega bundle will feature all 9 of  my Roll & Read bonus packs. Each bonus pack contains 26 games...that is 234 games to keep your kids rolling and reading all year! There are games for letter/sound identification, short vowels and long vowels. Any future Roll & Read bonus packs will be added to this mega bundle too.



So here is the math in case you really like to see what a good deal you're getting...
Each bonus pack is already discounted for $4 each. 9 packs x $4=$36. The Mega Bundle is on sale the next few days for $20. With 20% off my store and TPT's extra 10% that brings the price down to $14.40. That is over half off!

Happy Cyber Monday! Take a look at the linky party to find more greatly reduced items ON SALE for Cyber Monday and Tuesday.


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Liebster Award


I am finally writing a post to accept my Liebster award nomination. I have been nominated 3 times in the past month, so I figured the third time is the charm and I needed to get on it! Thanks to the following ladies for nominating me:


Be sure to check out their blogs!

The Liebster Award is given to new(ish) bloggers {with less than 200 followers} by fellow bloggers.  It's an exciting process that encourages connections between bloggers and is in the nature of "paying it forward."  

Better late than never, here are my Liebster answers to learn a little more about me!

WHY AND HOW LONG AGO DID YOU START BLOGGING?
I decided to start blogging at the end of last summer (2013). I was working as a K-2 reading specialist and thought it would be a great way to share some of the activities I was sharing with my the teachers at my school. I'd written a summer travel blog the last 2 summers for my friends and family that everyone seemed to enjoy, so I figured it would be fun to blog throughout the year about teaching.

But life always throws in twists and turns and I returned to the classroom as a first grade teacher in October. Needless to say my blog idea got put on the back burner and didn't actually start until December. Even then, I didn't really give it too much attention last year because I felt like a first year teacher again (even though I had 10 years of classroom experience!).

So the short answer is I've been blogging a little less than a year.

WHAT ONE WORD SUMS UP THE HEART OF YOUR BLOG AND WHY?
Practical. My blog may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it is filled with practical ideas. This aligns with my classroom. I am not a dog and pony show type of teacher, but my classroom is filled with practical and successful activities. I will throw in the disclaimer that fun fonts and cute clipart have definitely added some flair to my practical ideas :)

IS THERE SOMETHING YOU LEARNED LATE IN YOUR BLOG JOURNEY THAT YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN EARLIER?
I feel like I am constantly learning something new! Lately I have enjoyed easy linkups like Five for Friday and Currently. They may not be the most in depth blog posts, but they allow me to share a few ideas with my readers in a random format. I also love that random element where I can share something personal with my readers.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PAST TIME BESIDES BLOGGING?
I love traveling and running. I ran cross country and track in college and it is still one of my favorite hobbies. Running is a great stress reliever for teaching and I think a lot of my best ideas come when I am hitting the pavement.

My husband and I also enjoy traveling. We've spent the last 3 summers taking month-long cross country camping trips. We also take advantage of every break possible to go somewhere fun and exciting...major teacher perk!

HOW MANY HOURS PER WEEK DO YOU DEDICATE TO YOUR BLOG?
Not as many as I'd like, but more than I plan on.

Does that make any sense? I always have big blogging ideas for the week, but they usually get pushed down the to-do list. When I do find the time to do a "quick" post I always find it takes way longer than I planned.

WHAT CATEGORY OF BLOG POSTS DO YOU ENJOY MOST?
I enjoy getting new teaching ideas from blog posts. Even after 14 years of teaching I still like to change things up.

WHERE DOES YOUR BLOGGING INSPIRATION COME FROM?
My class and teaching friends! When something goes great in the classroom I am always excited to share it on the blog. If I share something with my teammates and they get excited I know it is probably something other teachers will enjoy too!

WHICH OF YOUR POSTS ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
Ohhh, that's a tough one. Since I'm still kind of new to this blogging thing I'm not sure any posts really stick out. I will say that I'm proud my blogging has been a little more consistent this school year!

IS THERE ANY POST THAT YOU ARE PLANNING TO DO, BUT HAVE BEEN PUTTING OFF FOR A WHILE NOW?
Yes...about a million of them! I've been wanting to do a sight word/high frequency word post for a long time. I'm really excited because I'm getting the chance to be a guest blogger on Adventures in Literacy Land next month. Yay! Can't wait!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ASPECT OF BLOGGING?
I really like all the teaching and blogging connections I have made. I know everyone says that, but it is true! It is really rewarding when someone leaves a comment thanking me or gives an idea I may not have thought of. It has been great to find other bloggers and teachers in Virginia since we are not a common core state. I also enjoy getting to know other bloggers better and learning that we share some of the same interests!

I'm paying it forward by nominating the following bloggers. Be sure to check them out!

Lynn from Camping Teacher
Lori from Teaching Tykes
Alexis from Laugh Eat Learn
Sebrina from Burke's Special Kids

To those who have been nominated, here are the "official" rules for accepting:

1. In your post, link back to the blogger who nominated you as a thank you and "shout out." (Follow their blog if you haven't already!)  

2. Answer the 10 questions given to you (the ones I answered above).

3. Nominate 5-11 blogs of your choice that each have less than 200 followers. Provide them with 10 questions to answer or have them answer the questions above.

4. Let your nominees know that they've been nominated and provide them with a link to your post so that they can accept.

5. Send your nominator a link to your post so that s/he can learn more about you as well! (You can just put your post link in the comments below!)

Have Fun!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Five for Friday


It's Saturday, but I am still linking up with Five for Friday because I survived the week. Which leads me to...
I survived the week. I survived report cards and half of my conferences. Enough said.

My listening center died. The second one for this year...and we've only been in school 49 days! I've been wanting to use an iPod for a long time and have been working on converting my cds to mp3s. This cd player death finally forced me to go completely digital. So I pulled out the old school iPod. My librarian asked if I wanted to try a third cd player and I told her I've gone digital and hopefully will never look back. Which brings me to #3...


Since I had been wanting iPod listening centers for long time, I wrote a grant for two iPod nanos last month. Our school system has THE MOST AMAZING local education foundation that awards educational grants twice a year. On Tuesday I found out I got my grant!!!!! Yay!!!


My kids were excited about the new iPods we'll be getting, but just as excited about the balloons! I do feel the universe is falling into place with my listening center! 

We had an in-school field trip this week from the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation. This is always one of my favorite programs! They bring a big trunk of artifacts from colonial times and let the kids play with them and dress up. It is total hands on fun! If you're in Virginia you should definitely check them out. They also have some great educational resources at History is Fun.


I love self-adhesive business card labels for my student book box names and thematic book bins that change monthly. I wanted more to organize my 10 drawer math center and word work carts so I could change the labels easily. I ordered these from Costco online at 8:30 on Thursday morning and they were on my front porch after school on Friday! Move over Amazon Prime! If you ever need random office supplies you might want to check out Costco online if you are a member. Their prices are low, they include shipping, and they ship quickly. I can't wait to work on labels for the carts this weekend (yup...organization nerd).


So that's my week in a nutshell. Overall, it was pretty successful considering I was dreading it! Link up to share what you've been up to!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Currently November

It is November which means we all survived Halloween! As far as Halloweens in the classroom go, this year was great! We had a half day and the day after Halloween fell on Saturday. I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for November currently.


LISTENING-I love The Nightmare Before Christmas, especially this time of year. It is the perfect mix of spooky Halloween and upcoming Christmas. 

LOVING-The cool weather the last few days has brought out a serious case of the snuggles in my cat. Gotta love kitty snuggles! 

THINKING-I ran a marathon in 2008-checked it off my bucket list and said I'd never do another. It wasn't bad, just took a lot of time for training. The city next to me is hosting a marathon in March. I feel like it is so close that I just must do it. Hmmmm, we'll see....

WANTING-We picked apples last weekend so I'm wanting to make a delicious apple pie. Of all the things on my to do list today, I will make that one a priority!

NEEDING-To survive....Report cards. Conferences. General classroom craziness. Need I say more?

READING-I finally joined the Gone Girl craze. I wasn't that into it at the beginning, but it has started to be hard to put down (just as things gets crazy and I have less time to read, fantastic).

Happy November everyone! Head over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade to see what everyone else is up to this month and link up while you're there.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Guess My Character Halloween Freebie

We always have a book character dress up parade for Halloween. One of my favorite activities is "Guess My Character". Fold the paper in half like a card. The students write three clues about their character on the front. Next they write the name of their character and draw a picture on the inside. I collect all of the clues and read them aloud while everyone looks around and tries to guess who it is. It is always a fun, easy, educational activity to do on Halloween. Click on the picture to download the freebie.


There are two versions-one for book characters and one for Halloween costumes. Hopefully this will help you survive Halloween with your kids! Lucky for me, Halloween falls on the end of the quarter so we have a half day! And the day after Halloween is a Saturday this year! Double yippee!!! Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall Favorites Blog Hop-Home Challenge Projects

Happy Fall! I feel like I can say that because it FINALLY is starting to look and feel like fall here! I'm linking up with some blogging buddies to bring you some fall favorites so get ready for some fall freebies, giveaways, ideas and just general fall fun!


Mid fall is when things finally seem to start clicking in the classroom. The rules and routines have been taught and everything seems to start coming together...most days. I love this time of year because I feel like I can start to implement new ideas and projects. One of my favorite projects to start in October is my home challenge projects.


We all have those kids that despite differentiation, small groups, and challenge work they still want more! Those are the kids that are always craving more learning and more work. I feel like I do a great job with classroom differentiation and challenges, but some kids just want more, more, more! I could spend all day just coming up with extra ideas for them. So here is where my home challenge projects enter. They keep those high fliers happy, keep the parents happy, and keep me happy because they are so simple to implement! It is the happiness trifecta...students, parents, teachers!

In October I send home a parent letter explaining how these projects work. I also talk about it at back to school night...you can just see the parents' eyes light up when you mention the "ch" word! Each month I post a themed project page on my class website. It has 5-7 choices for challenge projects. These projects are open ended and many promote higher level thinking skills.


If students are interested in a challenge project they complete it at home and return it to school. When they bring it to school I let them share it with the class and hang it on our challenge wall. I also write a note to the student about their project.



There are optional graphic organizers and experiment sheets for some projects. I usually post these as individual files on my class webpage for parents to access.


Students are free to complete as many projects as they wish. They also have the option of creating a new project idea that relates to the theme but is not listed. Some months I will post two project pages (November will have November projects and Colonial Life projects) for more student choice.

The nice thing about the project choices is how open ended they are. They allow for a lot of creativity and individuality. It is always neat to each student's take on the project idea.


The project choices vary and include ideas such as write, create, experiment, research, brainstorm and compare. This allows for students to choose projects that they are interested in and can excel at.

These home projects are open to all students. I love how the higher students are able to expand on project ideas and the lower students can find a project to experience success. And everyone is always excited to share! I've used these for 8 years in kindergarten and first grade classrooms and they have always been a hit (even when they were Times New Roman and Microsoft clipart). The projects are open ended enough that they would work for second grade also.

You can grab a mini version of my Home Challenge Fall products for free here to try them out.


The full Home Challenge Project Fall pack includes 3 themes-October, November, and Colonial Life. It also includes editable parent directions, student notes, challenge wall sign, and helpful tips.

'

I also have a Home Challenge Project bundle that will include all of my challenge projects. These will be added throughout the year. What challenge project themes are you interested in? Leave a comment below. I have some eager kiddos so I'll be looking for more themes to add this year!


And now for the fun giveaways and sales...Enter below to win $10 worth of my products (perfect for the Home Challenge Bundle!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And since it is a Fall Favorites blog hop, all of  my fall themed products and challenge projects are 20% off through Tuesday. Happy Fall Y'all! Head to the next stop to collect some more fall fun!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Five for Friday

I'm linking up with Five for Friday and it is actually Friday!!!

 

We've been working on visualizing. One of my favorite books to use is "Go Away Big Green Monster". This book is so engaging for getting students to listen carefully to the text and create a corresponding picture in their heads. I read the text first without showing the students the pictures and just had them listen and create pictures in their heads. Next I played the YouTube video of the book (audio only) over and over while they drew their pictures of the monster. (Disclaimer-at one point in the video the text says month instead of mouth. My kids were so excited they didn't really notice and I didn't point it out!)



Finally I read the book with pictures and let them watch the video. They had so much fun and I love their monsters! Such an easy, fun activity for visualizing (especially near Halloween!)


While we're on the subject of YouTube here is a Doubles Song that we have been loving this week. My kids beg me to play this one! I really like how it goes all the way up to 10+10 and has an annoying stuck-in-your-head-all-day tune ("uh uh, oh yeah!").


Wednesday I was at a VDOE SOL English Institute Conference. I felt like a read adult...a whole hour for lunch without having to run around and make copies and phone calls! Besides the relaxed lunch, there were some great ideas and inspiration, especially on using literacy across the content areas. I feel so strongly about this since there never seems to be enough time in the day! I can't wait to get a jump on some of the ideas and activities.

The hubby and I have escaped for a long weekend in Charlottesville. Today we picked apples which has been a yearly tradition since we've been married. I was super excited that Pink Ladies were available for picking already. Mmmmmmmm. Can't wait for the homemade apple pies in our future! Tomorrow's agenda is hiking in Shenandoah National Park.




Tomorrow I'm joining a group of blogging buddies to bring you some fall favorites. Check back on my blog Saturday-Tuesday for some fall tips, freebies, giveaways and fun! I'll be blogging about my home challenge projects and you can snag a fall home challenge project freebie as well as a chance to win $10 of products from my TpT store. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Five for Friday

I'm linking up late for Five for Friday. Even with the best of intentions it just didn't get done yesterday!



I started the week off with a weekend trip to Hatteras. If you've never been to the Outer Banks, NC in fall I highly recommend it. We had beautiful beach weather without the summer crowds. Everyone knows a teacher's brain never really shuts off, so while I was there I figured out how to organize my math workshop. I had not planned on doing school work on the beach, so all I had to write on was a magazine. Yes, this is how my crazy brain thinks!


The random beach brainstorming seemed to work because I FINALLY started math workshop this week! YAY! I've been wanting to do this for a long time, but never quite pulled it together. I'm still working out kinks, but my kids and I loved it! We've been doing Reader's Workshop all year, so the transition to math was an easy one! I still have a lot to figure out, but I am excited for this new classroom adventure.



We've been learning about animal characteristics this week. Ever since I used my cat's face in the Storybots app Math Racer, my class has been obsessed with my cat. I decided to make her the subject of a graphic organizer on animal characteristics. Her picture projected on the board took the engagement level of this lesson through the roof! The next day they completed the same graphic organizer on their pet or another animal. I totally forgot to snap pics of their work, but I was so pleased with how they turned out! You can snag this graphic organizer here (minus the SOL in case you don't teach in Virginia) for free. 



We made these adorable pattern snakes. Ok, technically we made them a few weeks ago, but I finally took them down from the hall and took a picture. They are made from a large spiral diecut and small pattern block diecuts. The snakes were super easy and my kids loved making them!



Did you all hear my screams on Wednesday night? I literally shrieked with excitement when I found out I won a Happy Jackson teacher kit from The Starr Spangled Planner. Jillian was celebrating 1000 facebook fans with a  giveaway and I won! This stuff is so cute and it matches my humor. I can't wait for it to come because I know it will add some smiles and laughter to all of those dreaded meetings!