Saturday, November 26, 2016

Christmas Books QR Codes

Feel free to grab these QR Codes for your kiddos.  I recently discovered The Carpenter's Gift (thanks to my Media Specialist husband, John) and I love it!  The other three are awesome, too!  Must shares in my classroom each year. 
Also includes a QR Code recording sheet to keep kids accountable and to hekp generate discussion at home.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 25, 2016

Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story

The last thing I did before leaving school for Thanksgiving break was put away my November themed books and displayed my December gems.  While there are so many good ones, if I had to pick my favorite, it would, hands down, be Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant.

From School Library Journal:

Grade 1-4. Full-page watercolor paintings decorate this warm, sentimental story loosely based on actual events. Rylant traces the origins of an Appalachian "Christmas Train" that travels through the mountains each year on December 23 to a rich man who wished to repay a debt of kindness he had received many years before. He faithfully returns and tosses silver packages from the caboose to the coal-town children who wait by the tracks. One such child is Frankie, who longs for a doctor's kit every year; instead he gets much-needed socks or mittens along with small toys. As an adult, he moves back to the town to live and work, having fulfilled his dream of becoming a doctor. With her clear, balanced, and well-paced storyteller's voice, the author builds the anticipation and excitement that the children and especially Frankie feel at the train's annual arrival. Although the heroic profile of this child-turned-man makes him more of a symbol than a real person, his story is well told. The illustrations provide panoramic views of the Appalachian countryside, with deep nighttime blues and wintry colors, strengthening the sense of place. A well-rendered reflection on the importance of giving and sharing.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The real Santa Train

At my old school, we used to collect toys for the very same train that would travel through the Appalachian Mountains.  We would have to hire a truck to fit in all the toys the kids purchased.  To kick off the service project, we read this lovely book.  We were lucky to have the illustrator, Chris Sonepiet, visit once!  I still can't get through the book without tearing up and it's the first book I read to my class each year.    

The book is PERFECT on its own.  You don't need to do anything else but read it and the great discussions will flow.  I extend a tiny bit with a few prompts, a retell (which they love to do!) and the make words using the letters in Doctor Kit.  Totally not necessary but just a small way I extend this book.

Book It: Retell It, Write It, Make It! (Silver Packages:An

Hope you have the book!  If not, share the video via the link above.  Let me know if you love the story as much as I do!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Gobble, Gobble!

Hope you all have a lovely day
with your family and friends!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Grab these How-To QR Codes

Hope you can use these for your How-To unit!  ENJOY!  Commercial free.  SAFE!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

EASY Turkey Craft with a Scoot Twist

Isn't this adorable?

Kids cut and made own legs and waddles (this one waddle-free!)
Next year I'll have them do own bodies freehand, too. 

Easily made with Bingo Daubers/Stampers!  Each student had one on their desk and stamped their turkey until I said Scoot.  Then we scooted to the right and did it all over again.  They loved it!  If the desk had a color you didn't want (most boys didn't want pink)  OR a color you already used, you simply got to repeat Gobble, Gobble until we scooted again!

If you haven't done a Thanksgiving Day Craft but wanted to squeeze one in, try this one tomorrow. Easy and fun! The kids will love showing it off at home.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Problem Solved: A Word Wall Your Kids Will Use!

The success of any word wall depends on kids actually using it.  Yep.  Sounds simple.  But it's not.  At least it wasn't for me!

Personal Word Walls have proven to be most effective for my class.

DID YOU KNOW: An estimated 65-75% of all words we read are made up of the 220 sight words on the Dolch list? Knowing that, I'm sure we all agree that quick mastery of sight words is a must.

When I first started teaching, my wall was up too high and on the closet doors...way back in the room.  Too far away for the kids to really see it and use it.  Looking back now, I sum it up as ACCESS DENIED! Too high.  Too far away.  Kids would crowd around it and jockey for position.  A time waster.  Result: rarely used.

Then I moved on to a much smaller version under the chalkboard.  Pretty much the same problems. Too many kids gathered around it.  Not an idea place to see it yet alone use it, etc.  ACCESS DENIED!

Moved on to "Portable Walls."  Had words on a ring and kids could borrow the ring, go back to seats, write word down, and, then put it back.

A time suck for my class.  Some kids spent more time up and down out of seats than writing.

So maybe, I thought, I could give each kid their OWN ring.  I know a teacher who uses this method flawlessly and I bow down to her.  I just couldn't keep up with making sure words were added to ALL rings.  

I finally made Personal Word Walls and I'm not looking back. I used the Dolch Lists, added about ten more words I knew we'd need, and printed two-sided.  Results?  BINGO! 


Kids highlight our weekly words so they can spot those first.  I debated allowing them to add more words.  They can if they want BUT I want to encourage them to tap out the words which they are really adept at doing! 

If you've been frustrated with your word and it's not being used, try a Personal Word Wall that can be kept in their writing folder and be taken out quickly when needed.  I think you may just like it and find it as useful as I do.

You can easily make one for your class.  If you rather have a pre-made one, just click on picture above.

If you make one, I'd love to see a picture of it!  Good luck!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Wait Time and a Fun Way to Call on Kids

I've worked hard on giving kids more wait time after I ask a question.  Did you know that just giving kids THREE extra seconds increases not only the amount of quality responses you'll get, it also boosts their confidence?  Of course you knew that!  :)  I watched a video once where the teacher started out each question with a child's name: Lisa, what is 4+4?  Ugh!  The rest of the kids got a free pass.  This was a ten minute lesson and she did it every single time.  Eek!  I posted about effective questioning a while back in my post about the book  Teach Like a Champion.  I so love that book! The No-Opt Out Method was one I implemented immediately and I've been a believer ever since.

I try to use a 50/50 combination of having kids raise hands and calling on them randomly.  My go to random method has been sticks in a jar.  But now...I finally downloaded the above app to change it up and inject some more fun into our day.  (I paid for it. The free ones I found weren't quite right/had too many ads, etc.)  I can't wait to use it tomorrow.  The kids will love it!

TIP: My Math Supervisor gave me this great tip a few years ago.  In case you haven't heard it, here it is and it does make a difference:  Instead of having kids raise their hands (where everyone else can see who knows- and doesn't know an answer) have them put hand on heart, give you the peace sign in front of chest, thumbs up, etc.  Much less intimidating for those that don't know the answer or are often stuck.  (I use on carpet when all facing me so they really can't see if most of their friends know the answer.)

Do you use a random generator?  If you know of an awesome free app like the one above, please leave me a note so others can see.  (Always good to save some money!)

Have a great day!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

A Visit from TpT Headquarters

Many months ago, TpT asked for volunteers to host TpT employees in our classrooms. I was contacted a few weeks ago and Michael spent half the day with us last week!

He brought me some cool TpT Swag!  Thank you!
TpT requires that every staff member visits a classroom each year so they can be exposed (if never a teacher) or reminded (if previously taught) of what it’s like to teach all day AND then go home and create materials for our classes/stores. After the visit, they ask employees to report back to their entire staff so they can get a feeling of how truly vast and diverse our schools are and to emphasize/reinforce there is no “one size fits all” approach to teaching, problem solving, etc. 

Michael joined us for Morning Meeting (where he actually won our POP Game!), math (where we were making combinations of 10 with Head/Tails Penny Toss) and Reading Workshop where he listened to lots of kids read to him. He was very hands on and the kids loved him!    A success!!

On to my personal life... Anyone else have a HH Senior out there?  Sniff, sniff! I just went through all of this two years ago with Sarah but I'm back in Senior mode with college visits and applications, getting ads for Soccer Media Guides and Yearbooks ready and trying to come to terms with my baby graduating this year! How did they get THAT old?  How did I?

It goes by way too fast, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Loved This Quote! (Feel Free To Grab!)

I loved every word that came out of Michelle Obama's mouth last night.
Totally inspired by her to be a better person and take the high road...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Sportscaster Camp (My son's very cool experience!)

Fun Happenings Around here last week!  John and I have wanted to send Matthew to the The Ian Eagle/Bruce Beck Sportscaster Camp at the ***Yogi Berra Museum in Montclair, NJ for a few years. Both Ian and Bruce are the go-to sports guys having won a zillion awards between them. A lot of their "campers" have moved on to TV/Radio Jobs.  A great opportunity.  Right after camp, Bruce was headed over to Rio to cover his 7th Olympics for NBC.  Can you imagine?

Matthew is all about 24/7sports and, as he approaches college application time, he knows for sure he wants a career in SOME type of sports reporting.  Lucky for us, we live within easy driving distance to Montclair State University (Where the Yogi Berra Museum is located) and he was able to go. Finally!

He loved it!  Most importantly, he's decided he'd like to puruse radio/sports social media rather then the TV side.  THIS IS HUGE!  Nice to know he's zeroing in a bit.  Of course I know it could change and on-air reporting could be in his future.  (He is a TV "pro" having auditioned for/getting a wee part in a David Letterman Skit a few years back!  He played a Boy Scout. He doesn't speak a word but that's besides the point! :)


See him in action! 

But I digress...

One take-away that he got from camp seems so simple but is a great nugget of wisdon: Say YES to everything that comes your way.  They had about a dozen well-known speakers come in during camp and he swears each one said something to that effect.  Be it calling play by play for a high school team or a a preschool baby crawling event, JUST SAY YES!  You never know where it will lead.

The highlight for him?  A Behind-the Scenes Look at Met Life Stadium (Press box amazing!) which is home to the Giants (his favorite team!) as well as their training center.  Seriously, a dream come true for him.  He got to look at their new museum and I'm sure his heart skipped a beat seeing these babies:

The Super Bowl Lombardi Trophies!!!

Hall of Famers...without looking at this player's name, I'm sure you reconized him!

Matthew with Jeff Feagles!

He got lots of cool pics especially of the players' (full) lockers at their training center but he didn't feel right posting pics of them because some of the guys had some pretty personal stuff in the lockers. (Framed pics/letters from families, etc.).  The week was a success!

On a fun fact note from long ago...

***My husband grew up not too far from Yogi Berra's house.  He and his friends would often ride their bikes the five miles to his house and Yogi and his wife (most his wife!) ALWAYS brought them out bottles of Yoo-Hoo! Although John has never been a Yankees fan, he's always had a soft spot for Yogi!  

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Worst. Commercial. Ever. (Teacher-Related)

This commercial really got a not-so-nice reaction out of me.  This is supposed to depict a teacher's first day of school?  Click to see.

Am I overreacting?  Maybe.  But seriously, do you know any teacher-on the first day- that arrives WITH the kids (I'm there at 6:15 for an 8:05 start time) and with that little bag?  

Does it annoy you as much as it does me??  Commercial FAIL!  Sorry Kleenex.

Now here's a throwback to one that makes me smile every year!

Image result for staples back to school commercial

I admit to feeling like that parent once or twice in my life!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hate to Iron? Problem Solved! (MIRACLE PRODUCT!)

Am I the last person on Earth to have heard about this AMAZING product?  Seriously?

I was down the shore for July 4th and needed to iron my son's shirt.  It was one of those shirts that is like linen (but not) and is a wrinkled mess even straight out of the dryer. 

If it were up to me, I'd give the shirt away because it's truly a mess of a shirt but he bought it with his own money stays.

Even the iron couldn't tame those darn wrinkles.  

After five minutes, I added water to the iron and RUST comes out of the holes onto the shirt!  

The only collared shirt for the restaurant.  I had to scrub the line of rust out and then attempt to re-iron again but with a towel placed between the iron and shirt to save from yet another rusty stain.  

Hey, I was desperate  Then my sister gets Downy Wrinkle Releaser out of a cabinet and a few sprays and tugs later, DONE!  

I was


It took less than a minute!


How to use?

Spray on clothes while on hanger, pull taut, and the wrinkles simply vanish! My sister said she has used it for years and it's never hurt her clothes.

I'm heading to Target tonight to get my own bottle and making sure I show Matthew how to use it next time he needs that shirt ironed!  :)

Here's hoping you have an iron-free day!

***Check out previous post to see my Deal of the Week!  
Only two more days! Don't want you to miss out!***

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hole Punch for Kids: Problem Solved!

I've been using these with my kids...

They are, honestly, horrible.  Okay.  Maybe MINE are horrible.  The "legs" are too far apart for little hands and often the punch isn't lined up with the bottom hole.  It's been hit or miss but mostly miss with my class using them.

It's been an increasing problem because I do way more activities that require using one like with these...

My kids LOVE using a hole punch to retell stories and, bless their little hearts, will put all their might into making the hole punch above work for them.  (Some kids took me up on the suggestion to simply use a highlighter instead!)  

BUT....a solution is here!  I went to Staples and found these in the CLEARANCE BIN for 50 Cents!  FIFTY CENTS!

They had HUNDREDS OF THEM!  Only in black but they are SO GOOD and EASY to use that I cannot complain or whine about the lack of colors!  The kids will have NO PROBLEM using these. They truly are perfect for little hands... The page below is updated in packet to say PUNCH or HIGHLIGHT the square.

And big hands!  Seriously, I feel like I hit the lottery!  Since I was overly excited, my husband said he wanted to test one out.  His verdict: "I need some of these for school, too!"  
Maybe I'll give him one of mine!  :)

Go get yours at Staples today before they sell out!  

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Free Duckie Pirate Calendar Set

Honestly, I'm so grateful each time I see a new follower on this Blog. Something must be in the water because I've had 26 new follower notifications in the last two weeks....not sure why but THANKS!  To show my appreciation, I'm going to put these Pirate Duckies up for free.

English and Spanish!
Numbers up to 50 so you can use in centers and for various activities!

I hope you can use them.  Enjoy!

Edited to Add:  I just made two three more sets.  Check them out in my store!


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Teacher Printing Woes: Problem Solved!

My printer has been on its last "print out" for about a year now.  Honestly, when I printed, I never knew if it would take a minute or twenty to print ONE document. 

Sometimes I had to turn my computer on and off.  Needless to say, it was stressful ESPECIALLY if one of my kids needed something last minute.  And my printer was LOUD!

But as of 45 minutes ago, I BOUGHT A NEW PRINTER (HP ENVY 4520) for only $69 at Staples. THAT WAS EASY!.  (GREAT REVIEWS!)

Its not just any printer, but one that would enable me to enroll in the HP Insta Ink Program that I just found out about a few days ago in the TpT Forums. 

As a teacher, I think it's IDEAL and I'm hoping I'm right!  Teachers rave about the program and I already foresee COLOR printing everywhere in my classroom including game boards and center activities where I often printed in B&W due to CRAZY color cartridges expense. (For those of you able to print in color at school, Lucky, Lucky you!)  


I signed up for the 300 (!!!) pages a month.  Yep- a lot of pages but since I "only" pay 9.99 a month and only $120 a year, I think it's a STEAL!  No paying for INK! (You pay for pages doesn't matter if in color or in BW)  It gets delivered to me.  I see lots of COLORED leveled books from Reading A-Z in my future!

Setup was a cinch: 20 minutes later, I printed a few documents from my computer and a beautiful picture from my phone!  Yep- all wireless with, HONESTLY, a click of a few buttons.  (I didn't even have to put in my wifi code!)

The Insta Ink program has been around for at least 18 months but it's new to me. Knowing I spent way over $120 on ink last year allowed me to make a no-brainer decision.  And I'm FINALLY going to start digital scrapbooking!  Yipee!

I'll check in after a few months (came with THREE month FREE trial period and let you know how it's going.) with a real USER review.  In the meantime, if you need a new printer and have a need to print out lots of colored photos and documents, I think it's worth looking into.  (NOTE:  you can pay 2.99 for 50 copies a month as well as a few other plans.)

Gotta run!  Off to print out some pics!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Already Looking NEXT September (And a FUN FREEBIE!)

I know, I know...I still have five weeks left of THIS school year.  But I just can't help myself! 

I'm already thinking about my classroom next year.  

I've been getting out my go-to/must-have September activities like poems for binders and my Math Open-Ended Question booklets.  Are copies made already and tucked away?  Yep.  

A lovely office helper had extra time so she made lots of copies for me so far.  (Rocket Math, BTSN Materials, etc.)  Jumping the gun? Nah.  Just getting prepared.  It helps take away some stress in August/September so and I can concentrate more on the teaching part of teaching instead of the time suck of prepping and wrestling with the copy machine.  

I hope to have my must-haves copied through November by the the end of school this year. Wish me luck!

Now it's time to select ten projects I'm going to work on that I saw on Pinterest.  I've selected one so far. See these chairs?  I have six of them now and have created little seating nooks:

I want to transform them to something amazing and will use this lovely chair I saw on Pinterest as my inspiration!  (I tried to link it to site it came from to give credit but it says Account Frozen.  I will check back and link if it gets fixed.)

                                                                 Isn't is adorable?

I just finished a Freebie product for September/October: Word Wizard Make-a-Words! 

They are the perfect way to teach and reinforce sound/letter combinations.  

It's a FUN and EFFECTIVE activity that my students look forward to each week.  I hope you can use the packet and maybe even start YOUR OWN SEPTEMBER 2015 FILE NOW!  It's never too early! Enjoy!!

Have a great weekend!!!