Saturday, July 28, 2012

Giving Three Away...

Now that I have my handy dandy clip art binder, making this for my TPT Store was way easier than it normally is.  Yea for that!

Want it?  I'll give 3 away to random people. Just leave your email here and I'll pick tomorrow morning.  Don't forget to download the FREE packet I made for September.

I hope you're having a great day!  Thundering here! A storm's a-comin'!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Clipart Chaos No More!

Raise your hand if you love clipart...
Raise your hand if you buy clipart at an alarming pace even if you don't need it...
Raise your hand if your clipart is an unorganized mess...

Okay- the first two I can deal with but the third has been bugging the heck out of me!

This is what I had: 

One folder on my computer that says Clipart.  So far, so good, right?
Then I had zillions and zillions of subfolders inside that one with individual sets.
For some holidays and themes, I've even managed to create more subfolders like Christmas and then moved all my Christmas clipart sets into it.  That's when it got out of hand!  Too much to look through to figure out WHAT was inside and making sure I actually put the stuff IN the correct folder.  It took me forever to find my Cat in the Hat clipart that was tucked inside "School."

So, I have spent the last *cough cough* hours organizing a lot of my clipart.  How?  By printing a major amount of hard copies. 

It started with a new binder and cover using art from Melonheadz.  Neat and tidy!  Yea!


What did I do??

I started by going to the sites where I bought the most clipart: TpT, Etsy, and TheDollarGraphicDepot.  I looked at all of my past orders under My Account and copied the group images.  I now have pages and pages (and pages and pages!) of this:

And when I got free images off of blogs, like this:
(I just grabbed these this week after discovering Nikki's site.)

I DID not organize them into subcategories like Christmas, Birthdays, etc.  That would have added on a lot more time.  I did, however, divide them into images, borders and frames, and papers. 

I'm now left with a book to flip through and WOW...I've learned tons from just glancing at the "finished for now" book. What did I learn you ask?

1. I haven't  used at least 3/4 of the art I've purchased or downloaded for free. Say what?  Sad, but true. 

2. I have a crazy amount of penguin clipart and I'm not even particularly fond of penguins.  Besides that, I don't think I've ever used ANY of it.  Oh, my!

3. I need to continue to be mindful for the need to buy clipart that represents diverse ethnic groups.

4. Two of my sets have arithmetic spelled wrong.  I've known this since purchasing but never contacted the company.  Must do that today.  (It isn't done on purpose, either.) 

5. I'm surprised to see that while I didn't think I had any FALL stuff yet (since I started purchasing in winter),  I do have some.  Even in sets that aren't really fallish, I found a pie that could be pumpkin, some pumpkins, trees, leaves, apple trees and apples, corn from a Native American set, etc. 

6. I have a total of nine sets with a sun in it and all of the suns are very different. Yet, I've continuously used the same sun whenever I needed one.  Same for schools.  That's just stupid of me.  Lazy?  Maybe. Really, who knew I had NINE of them?

7. I have several sets that I HATE for different reasons and know I'll NEVER use.  What was I thinking and why are they still taking up space on my computer???

8. Since I teach first grade, I have lots of cutesy stuff but it's o-v-e-r-l-o-a-d!!   Whenever I saw a "more mature" set, I welcomed it! A breath of fresh air!

9. I don't know if I've always thanked everyone who has given away free art on their blogs.  I THINK I have but I really need to be CERTAIN that I do. 

10. I know I'll add to this book AS I download art.  Upkeep will be easy breezy, right?

11. Renamed all clip art files to include seller's name.  So much easier!

12. Artists rock!  I am in awe of their ability!  (But I've always known that!!)

Mastering Sight Words...

If it's true that close to 75% of all words that we read in books, magazines, etc., involve just 220 sight words, it would make sense to have kids master those sight words in the appropriate grades, wouldn't it?

Quick mastery is a must for early reading success.  

When I first started teaching, I have no recollection of teaching sight words. 

I'm sure I did.  
I HOPE I did.  

Word walls didn't appear that long ago! Really!

I have  a strong committment to not only have the kids learn their sight words and apply them not only to reading but into their writing as well.

I've just posted this in my store.  I hope it bowls you over!  Very helpful, fun, and easy to implement! It's a fun way to build fluency and foster classroom community.  We sometimes use it during Morning Meeting too.

We often bowl during Morning Meeting to practice our words.  Try it!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Monday Made It on Tuesday...again!

I love, love, love all of the milk crate and bucket chairs I've been seeing all over Pinterest, don't you?  I've been dying to make some myself.  Here's my inspiration.

As seen on

As seen on wizardofboz.blogspot

As seen on polkadotteacher.blogspot

I decided to go with a round shape because I thought they'd fit under my reading table- which also serves as my desk- a bit better.   I like to have six chairs at my table but there's no way I can fit six because the legs of the chairs are so wide.  Crazy wide. Every time I researched making the seats, I became overwhelmed even though everyone gushed how easy breezy they were to make.  Soooooooooooo, I thought and thought and thought some more and came up with a new version that isn't particularly creative but, I must tell you that hands down, this version is so so so so easy that a two-year old could do it.  No kidding.

Ready to see it?  Okay, then!  Let's get started!!! 

1. Buy ottomans at Walmart for $18 each.  Yes, a little pricey BUT...these do have nice storage.  I could fit each reading groups' guided reading books and materials inside with room left over. Lots of room leftover!

2. Fabric?  Nope!  I went an even easier route: DUCT TAPE  or Duck Tape as the brand I used is known.  A quick 5 seconds to put it on and then another minute to add the ribbon with Velcro and voila!  DONE!

As a nice bonus, the tops can be turned over to provide a hard tabletop surface.  Good for oh, so many things in my space challenged room!

I grabbed a bunch of junk from my table and put it inside.  Even though there are books and several notebooks and workbooks, and you can see how roomy it is. 

What do you think?  Is it cute enough for first grade?  Will the tape last? 
Should I have waited for the red to come back in stock?  I'm usually a bright and cheery kind of girl and these look a bit more serious than I'm used to.

If the combo looks familiar, maybe you saw the table I "made" a few weeks ago:

Thanks for looking!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

100 Followers Giveaway!

Well, lookie, lookie here.  While I was away, I got my 100th follower!  To celebrate and thank everyone who has taken the time to read my blog (which I haven't been able to dedicate nearly as much time as I had wanted to!) I want to offer this freebie aimed at K-2 kiddos. I so love my poetry binders! Click on cover to get it.

I use them for my Poetry Binders, Shared and Buddy Reading, Word Work, etc.  Enjoy!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Problem Solved...At Last!

My classroom is itty bitty. 

Teeny tiny.


Hanging up my word wall has been a struggle for me.  Honestly, since I'm so tight on space, I hated giving up so much real estate for Word Wall Words.  I ended up putting them on four of my closet doors which frustrated me beyond belief.

FOUR doors. 

Do you know what I could have done with that space?  (and they aren't even big doors!)

My colleagues put them across their white boards.  Didn''t work for me since I used them for Boggle and such.

I saw a great pic showing them UNDER the white board.  I really love this! 

But again, after much thought, that really wouldn't be ideal either since I have book bins, carts, etc. that have to be against the wall.  (If I had the space, I would so do that!)   I saw portable ones and all sorts of clever "walls."  But my search is over and it's not rocket science. I just had a Responsive Classroom workshop a few days ago in a room with the words posted ABOVE the boards in that empty space. 

One of my pet peeves has always been when I see things hung up high with such tiny writing that it's useless and certainly not going to help/benefit the kids.  But the words above uses a  HUGE font.  This room is way, way, way bigger than mine and I was standing at the back and, even with my oh, so terrible eyes, I could easily see/read every word. They may not look big or words that can be easily read in the pic but they are.

So, this is my new plan and I am happy.
And relieved.
And did I mention happy?

One Drawback:  Since I add only 5 words weekly, this will require a ladder each week.  Since I am under 5 foot, I guess I'm used to that!

I always think meetings should be rotated to different classrooms so we get to peek inside.  Yes, we go to each other's rooms but when you are sitting in a long meeting, you really get to "see" the room, you know?

Other news:

1. My husband and I just handed in our first historical fiction novel today for ABDO.  A fun project and it was great working with John.  He's a fellow teacher having taught Middle School English for 15 years before becoming a media specialist in same district last year.  He's a HUGE history buff so he made it all run smoothly!

2. Heading to Maine for vacation tomorrow and so looking forward to it. 

3. I just ate a gallon, quart, pint teaspoon of Turkey Hill Yankee Brownie Sundae ice cream and wish I could have shared it with you!

Have a great day!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dollar Store Finds

What to do when you have about 30 minutes before you have to pick son up from soccer? 

1. Stay in sweltering sun and watch him play?

No way.

2. Go through drive-thru at Dunkin Donuts to get their Fabo Iced Tea?

Yes, please.

And then head next door to The Dollar Tree!  I had to move fast but I did get some things I needed...and a few things I didn't need but will find a use for.  Some highlights...

Yea for Butterfly Nets! I'm using them to "catch" some good stories floating around and
then putting the ideas into my pocket for later use.  Think of the fun you can have doing this!  Kids will love it!  I only got 3 because I'm afraid they'll be loving it a little too much and I'd have 20 sweeties waving these nets all day long!

Smart beads...10 for $1.00.  These tend to break pretty easily so I knew I needed some extras.  In the past, I've had these hanging up but I'm thinking I'm going to make a fancy bin/jar/can to store them in.  I'm thinking of letting kids wear them home this year and then returning the next day.  What do you do?  Would love to hear your system.

The hot item right now!  Will tackle birthday balloons soon.  Just not sure what lovely template I'll be using or if I'll design my own. I almost bought these at Target last week but they were 3 for $1.  Here: 6 for a buck!  What luck!

These are HUGE!  They had Birthday Girl and Birthday Boy which I put in my basket first.  But then I got to thinking...what if I had more than one kid celebrate on the same day and both were girls or both boys?  It's happened.  So I went with these. I'm going to allow kids to wear home and bring them back.  Maybe I should have picked up an extra just in case...

Aren't these oh, so cute!  I'm not sure what I'll do with them.  They're about 8 inches tall. Maybe BottleCap Letter and Number Storage?  Thinking, thinking...  They had black pinstripe and some other bright and funky color sombos as well.  They had hundreds and hundreds just waiting to be plucked off the shelf!

A good 30 minutes, yes? 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Words Of Wisdom Linky Party

I'm joining Deb from Fabulously First for a linky party that asks teachers to share words of wisdom with those just starting out in our profession.  I've been teaching since 1988 (minus a few years!) and love teaching just as much today- if not more- than I did when I started.  So, here are my thoughts: 

(It took me a while to figure out to print in the boxes! I had to remove the existing words or else font size was too small. Sorry!)