Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!

I'm a sucker for the promise of fresh starts.  How about you?  It motivates me!  Wishing you all the best in the new year!  My daughter just made these Pinterest inspired cookies. Edible confetti comes out of some of the triple stacked ones. Cute!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

SAT Humor

My son is taking the test as I write this. I'm 150 miles away and wanted to be sure he had everything set last night.  "Get out your calculator, ID and ticket." He texted me this pic.  At first, I almost flipped out when I saw that calculator in the tiny text...

Until I enlarged pic...Then I couldn't stop laughing.  
That's his third grade ID.  :)

Side note: See my lovely granite counter?  Well, it's a fake!  It was white Formica a few years ago until I bought a kit and "turned it into" GRANITE!  Unless you touch it, you can't tell!  Even the town assessor marked it as such until I told him it wasn't.  Not bad for $149 for my entire kitchen counters!


Thursday, November 5, 2015

Freebie: Thanksgiving Quick Write

Although I didn't take pics yesterday, this simple activity introduced my Firsties to using commas in a series and turned out adorable.  

After I modeled using this prompt, we brainstormed what we were thankful for.  Answers ranged from the color purple to popcorn to family.  My own answer was pre-made using AND between everything.  Then I rewrote deleting all my "ands" and inserting commas instead.

Cute results.

Once they got their paper to write, it took them 15 minutes from start to finish which included illustrating.  Honestly, so cute and they look great hanging up.  (I mounted on green paper.)  When I return to school on Monday, I'll snap some pics.

I hope you can use the freebie!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

DST Freebie (Open-Ended Question)

Anyone else simply stressed beyond belief?  Raise your hand!  Am I alone?


Daylight Savings Time does give me an extra hour which is good. It will allow me to start walking outside in the morning again since it will be lighter earlier.


I need to walk.

Anyhoo, maybe you can use this with your kids tomorrow?  I hope so.

I saw this up at our sister school...isn't it lovely?  The art teacher, Ellen, is simply AMAZING!  All of her displays look like they could be in Macy's window at Christmas. Her school is HUGE yet she manages to plaster walls/displays with such creative artwork.  This was mostly her work but I'll take pics of the kids' work soon.  It always knocks my socks off!  Kids and teachers love her!  They are surrounded by beauty throughout the wonder!

Here is to a stress-free Monday.  Fingers crossed!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Introducing...The Pony Girls!

Last week, I finally got to see my new covers for my latest chapter book series from ABDO: The Pony Girls!  It was like Christmas Day!  I HEART EACH COVER!


These are the companion books to Storm Cliff Stables. These characters are 8 while Avery, Esha, Bree, and Jaelyn were 13 in the original set.   (Working on Set 2 now!)

Thanks to Paula Franco, the talented illustrator who brought the girls to life!  I'm wild about the book design, too! SPOT ON, isn't it?  I have the fabo Candice Keimig, Art Director, to thank for that!  And to my editor who keeps me on track- Megan're the best!  I am beyond over the moon!  THANK YOU!!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

A Handy Writing Workshop Helper! (Freebie!)

This year I've used these checklists in my writing folders.  The kids have it out during writing and touch each word to make sure they answered the questions in their stories.  The visual reminder helps a lot. (Suggested by Lucy Calkins!)

 After the kids finish a story, they take the checklist, which is kept in clear page protector, and read story to a partner.  As they are reading, their partner touches each word.  If one of the key points wasn't answered in the story, the writer goes back and adds that particular detail.  The partnership takes practice but I have been modeling it every day and it's working. Working well I should add.  Their conversations have become much more targeted and their stories are proof.  Click the pic to grab your free copy.  I have a few different versions to pick from.  I hope it's as helpful to you as it's been to my class!  

Have a great Sunday!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Quick Review of Friendly Letters

Do you write your Morning Message in Friendly Letter format?  

I sure do especially since I know it'll jump start my Family Journals (Which I LOVE LOVE LOVE!) next week. 

We've only had eight days of school so far but they're already understanding what's included in a friendly letter. Because you know I love to make my Morning Message interactive, I did a fun (QUICK!) labeling activity today.

I had the labels ready and called on kids to pick one and label my letter.
(Oops! Should have used a darker marker.)

This was the end result but getting there was a bit tricky for a few of the kids.  After a part was labeled, I had kids do a Think-Pair-Share...was it correct?

After we finished, I asked the kids if a writer always had to use DEAR in the greeting.  Many shook their little heads and gave various examples of greetings I had already used.  One boy said, "You could say, "Hey there Cowboys and Cowgirls!"  Is that adorable?  I wonder if his Kindergarten teacher used that greeting? 

Can you guess what my MM greeting will be tomorrow?  :)

Monday, September 21, 2015

Freebie Apple Emergent Reader

Happy Monday, friends! I'm using this emergent reader today with a few of my little ones. Hope you can use this FREEBIE, too!

Apples is perfect to practice reading predictable texts and is a great choice for repeated readings at home and school which will help build fluency in your youngest readers while reinforcing color words.

There are actually TWO books in this freebie! In the second book, have students draw the correct number of apples.

Printer friendly! Two pages on each page. Twenty students = 10 copies!

If you download and use this freebie, please leave feedback.

The last four pages in all of my readers can either be included in the book or used after the book is completed/read. 

The “Write 3 Ways” refers to:

1. Rainbow writing the word (I ask them to say the word, trace over with one color crayon, and repeat the word. Then repeat the whole process two more times, using an alternate color each time.)
2. Use your finger to write the word in the palm of your hand or a friends’ hand
3. Use a dauber to stamp out the word on paper. Can use the large word I’ve included.

I uploaded three others over the weekend if you want to check them out. 

Here is the text for the book above:

Cover: What is it?
Page 1: What is it? It is a butterfly.
Page 2: What is it? It is a heart.
Page 3: What is it? It is a balloon.
Page 4: What is it? It is a flower.
Page 5: What is it? It is a tree.
Page 6: What is it? It is a car.
Page 7: What is it? It is a kite.
Page 8: What is it? It is a cat.
Page 9: What is it? It is a banana.
Page 10: What is it? It is a rainbow.
Page 11: What is it? It is...
Page 12. ME! (Painted himself on canvas)

Have a great day!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Getting Crafty! (Awesome Wall Mounting Find!)

I have a friend who teaches second grade and never does anything crafty at all with her kids. NOTHING.  Says it is fluff with a capital F.  UGH!   Is this fluff? Don't think so!

  My Firsties love all things paint and glitter (me too!) and although I don't have time for lots of "crafty things" I certainly make sure I do some.  Cutting, gluing and creating? A MUST for five and six year olds, isn't it?  These were finished in a snap, will stay up for a good six weeks and will look lovely in their memory books and on their fridges at home.  Oh, did I tell you how happy their apples and trees make me feel?  Especially the apple in the upper left-hand corner.  :) 

 I love how all of the trees look so different.  Unique.  

I gave the kids a strip of brown paper and told them to design a trunk. Below are the first three trunks that were finished.  They use the rest of the paper for their branches.  Fun to see how they form their trees.  If you are doing this activity, you only need a teeny tiny amount of paint.  I put this plate in the middle of four desks and it was way too much,


Beautiful!  Just like them!

Have you seen these Scotch tabs?  AMAZING!  No.  Seriously.  


I discovered them last year and I swear, NOTHING falls down. They are foam tabs. Double sided.  Easy to use.  They come right off and I can even reuse most of them again!  A must have. I have two on each tree and they won't come down until I take them down.  I got through our school Cascade order for $2.50 a box (480 tabs.  I see them on Office Depot site for $10.50 a box.  Boo. Glad I got through school order BUT I would $10.50 pay for these babies.  (Look at ratings and comments and you may, too!)  

Syracuse just won in overtime...  Wahoo!!!

Friday, September 4, 2015

Love Poetry? A Fun Addition to My Class! (FREEBIE ALERT!)

I've always wanted to make a POET TREE after seeing a few on Pinterest so I finally made one for my Firsties:

The tree was collecting dust in my basement. I knew it would find a much better home in Room B4. So I printed out the same poems that I use in my fluency binders, paired them with magnifying glasses, and let the kids read them.  They LOVE it!  But that's a no-brainer because we all know that kids love anything involving magnifying glasses! But the kids also appreciate being able to read the poems since they know them from their binders.  (When I printed them, I believe I clicked on 16 per page under multiple pages.  While they are small, my tired eyes can read them without the magnifying glass but I grab one anyway!)

Besides having them read them when they have "free time," how else can you use the Poet Tree?

1. How about looking for sight words?  (Use your MG to find the word "The" in a poem.)

2. Practice fluency.  I have students record each other with iPads while reading them.

3.  Encourage kids to create their own poems.  Type them up for them and place on tree.  Who doesn't love to see their own creations?

4. Make extras and have kids keep "A Poem in Their Pocket."  Challenge them to read it to five people that day.  

5. I've given each member of my lower reading groups a poem that we've already had in our binders. In one minute, I manage to do a quick review of skills: Use your MG to find a short a word.  A word that is the opposite of go. An example of alliteration.  

The possibilities are endless and it's just a another way to engage the class.

Thinking of making one?  Here are some free poems to get you started:

If you like the FREE September packet, check out my other packets such as the October Poems.

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Here's My Sunday Scoop! (And a FABO Smore's Idea!!!)

Hey there!!  Crazy busy around here but Teaching Trio's linkup helps keeps me organized!

First off, I want to congratulate Matthew for making the soccer team!  Here's a Junior this year in HS and if you have a high schooler, you know how intense tryouts can be especially if you live in a HUGE school district!  Although only officially a week-long, he's had "voluntary" practice five days a week since school ended.  We were confident he'd make the team again but he wasn't so sure with 50 cuts being made.  Gulp.  How confident were we?  When we left to pick him up from the last day of tryouts,  we hung up this sign so he'd see it as soon as he walked inside.

Buying a baby gift is always exciting!  Kaylee is about a month old and we get to meet her today for the first time.  A blessing for sure!

If you don't already know,  I write children's books.  I LOVE it obviously and am so lucky that I have an editor who supports me and a great company to work for so often (ABDO!) but it's stressful when my deadlines fall within the first few months of school.  I am writing a new series but still have to outline and submit the official proposal.  Deadlines for the chapter books:  October-January. One book a month!  DOUBLE GULP!  Educational publishing is ALWAYS that fast!!!  

Now...S'MORES!  Want to see a cute idea that was sort of Pinterest inspired?  I made this portable S'mores "stove."

I actually made five of them for Sarah's grad party this year.  A huge hit!  I lined them up and the kids were able to make lots of "Gourmet S'mores while they watched High School Musical on an outside Movie Screen. To make, get a tin bucket, fill half way with sand, put tinfoil over the sand (just so the rocks and glass pieces don't fall down in the sand, fill with rocks and glass pieces (from Dollar Tree) and get plop a can of chafing dish fuel in the middle.  I wish I had a pic showing the entire "smore's bar" from her party but I don't.  I found the menu online (and will edit to link to it when I find it again!) and put all the ingredients out in a fancy layout.  Looked amazing and kids really tried all of them!!  We are using them tonight.  Yum!  (You can't really see the glass rocks in there but they looked great when lit up.)

The countdown is on...Sarah leaves in just three days.  Wednesday is  fast approaching and I keep seeing us at the dorms saying goodbye.  I don't think my husband and I can do it.  I really don't.

Here she is with her boyfriend last week on her 18th birthday.  Sigh.

I want to end reminding everyone to get their yearly  mammogram!  My friend never missed an appointment and I believe her diligence saved her life.  Monday night we will be celebrating the end of her treatments.  

What are you up to?  Link up and let us know!!

Happy Sunday!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

My Sunday Scoop! (And a VERY cool history fact!)

Thanks to Teaching Trio, I'm sharing my Sunday Scoop today:

Do you send a letter to your kids to introduce yourself?  When I first started, it was via mail and I included a pencil.  My district paid for it.  Then, we were told email only.  Cheaper.  So, I've been doing that ever since.  

No pencil of course but it does save money.  I have the pencil waiting for them on their desk when they arrive.  I actually send the parents one letter and then email again and write "For My Fabo First Grader" in the subject line so the child can still feel the excitement of getting their own letter.  My kids used to LOVE getting their letters from their teachers. Now, it's all about their schedules!  Gotta know when lunch is and who's in your lunch period, right?

I've had this freebie in my store forever and a complete set of these are LONG overdue.  After today, it will FINALLY be in my store!  I've added a number line to the bottom and included subtraction.  My kids love to use highlighters so I think these will be a hit!

My walking has almost come to a screeching halt this summer.  Why???  I have no answer!  Most people can walk 10,000 steps to reach five miles.  Me?  Nope. I'm short so I need 13,500 steps before the five miles register.  From March-June, I walked almost 5 miles a day.  Often 7 miles.  I lost 12 pounds!  I'm annoyed and disappointed with myself that I slacked off.  Sigh.
Also added this to John's Store:

Interesting Fact: See the picture of Bell holding "something" over "someone" in bed? That "something" is a metal detector (which he created) and that "someone" is President Garfield who was shot. Bell was called upon in an attempt to help save the life of the mortally wounded President using his early version of a metal detector. Surely he could find the slug of an assassin's bullet with his new invention. But to his dismay, the bed Garfield was on was metal so Bell couldn't get an accurate read. He urged doctors to move him out of that bed so he could properly use- and locate- the slug. The doctors refused. Because of their refusal, Garfield died. Many believe if the slug had been found and removed, he would have survived. So now you know!!!

John and Matthew are going to see the Mets play today.  Sarah and I are going shopping...she leaves for Syracuse University in just nine days.  Sniff, sniff. Much to do!!

Want to link up and give us your scoop?  Click on the button!

Have a great Sunday!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Art Gallery! (And a Freebie!)

I finally finished my September Open-Ended Math Questions and added them to my bundle. Want to see these in action? Look at how my students answered some open-ended questions and grab more freebies here,  

Grab these two freebies and enjoy! 

I'm off to fill up my shopping much to buy!