Saturday, September 28, 2013

What Exciting Lives We Lead

This week I realized that this Saturday (as in today) would be my only free weekend day with no plans for the next month. When I told this to someone, they asked what I planned to do with it. My response: make teaching things. (In my defense, I will be out for three days in October and I'm trying to get prepared.)

I thought I was weird - taking my one free day and spending it on work. Then, I looked at my Facebook page and saw statuses such as "Loading apps onto the kindle for my students." and "Cutting out lamination." I quickly realized that I wasn't the only teacher spending a Saturday night doing work.

I wonder - why are we so willing to bring our work home with us and even do it on the best day of the weekend?  I have no remorse about how I've spent my day. I've worked on a monster-themed base ten packet, watched a couple of movies, and even taken a bubble bath. Bottom line is, I still did work on my day off. I'm curious - how guilty are you of doing work on your days off?

And now onto a linky...
Last week was very busy. I started organizing things in my classroom and working on plans for the upcoming weeks. I will be taking a Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off for some personal stuff. I thought I was getting ahead by thinking about sub plans. Then it dawned on me that I needed plans for the week after as well because my plane will be getting back in town late on Sunday. So, my feeling good about things quickly turned to panic. A little organization and a very happy Friday with my kids has helped my panic subside.  I'll share some photos of my organization adventures later this week. I am quite happy with how things are turning out!
Finishing up my fall packet certainly helped my panic as well. This packet has printable center games and activities related to fall. All items are common core aligned with the standard on the instruction cards!
Next week holds more sub prep and a baby shower for my sister. I'm sure to be a busy little bee in the evenings as I prep for both. I also hope to have my monster packet finished and uploaded by Friday!
Speaking of being out...would anyone be willing to write a guest post or two for those days that I am out?  If so, please email me at!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Falling for Fall & Facebook Winners!

Introducing my new fall unit...

Click on the pictures to view the activities!

These would go great with the books I mentioned in my Fall Linky Party.

And announcing the winner of my Facebook giveaway....

Debbie Saffren Jacobson
You've won a free item of choice from my TPT store!
And as promised...freebies for Facebook followers coming soon!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy Fall Y'all & A Fall Linky Party

It's the first day of fall finally! The weather today is 78 degrees, which is a lot cooler than our 80-90 degree weather that we've had lately.

With fall starting, I thought I'd use it as an opportunity to introduce my lovely kiddos to a few of my favorite fall books. We're working on fiction and nonfiction currently, so the topic of fall is perfect for this!

The first book is Fall Changes by Ellen B. Senisi. We will be using this as our nonfiction text to look at how a nonfiction text is set up. This book goes through some of the changes and activities that come with fall.

The next book I want to share is Leaves by David Ezra Stein. This is an adorable book about a little bear that notices the leaves falling off a tree. He tries to figure out how to put the leaves back on the tree. Eventually, he ends up hibernating (by mistake of course) for winter and wakes when spring comes to the leaves growing on the trees again.  It is a fun fiction read.

The last book we'll be looking at this week is Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall. This is a realistic fiction book that looks at fall. I felt it would be an interesting one to talk about as we explore the properties of fiction and nonfiction. (I found this book in the August/September crate of books that my teaching buddy K and I created last year. When I went to Amazon to find a picture and link for y'all, I was disappointed to see that this book is apparently hard to find making the price incredibly high. I had no idea!)

I know there are a lot more fall books out there, I simply chose the three that I'm reading this week to highlight. We'll also be doing leaf writing, leaf word problems, and more with fall this week.  Keep an eye out for more about these activities!

Do you have a great fall lesson or favorite book list to share? Grab the button and link up below to share your great ideas!


Giveaway Ending Soon! & Guest Blogger Invite

My Facebook giveaway is ending soon! Make sure you get your entries in!

In a couple of weeks, I'll be away from my computer for about a week and would love to have a few guest posts to put up! 

Would you be interested in guest blogging for me?  If so, leave a comment or email me at

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Open House Time

Tonight was our open house at school. I love seeing the kids and their parents; however, I dislike the long day at work and how exhausted I feel at the end. I've been doing really well with exercising every night this week and I'm currently trying to work up the energy to exercise tonight. No reason to stop a good routine, right?

Anyways, back to open house. (My easy-to-be distracted ways are kicking in majorly tonight.)

Open house is done drop-in style at my school. It begins with a spaghetti dinner hosted by PTO to raise money and follows with a PTO meeting and a visit to the classroom.

I decided my second year of teaching to make Open House about the kids, rather than about the teacher. Meet the Teacher night is my time to host. Open House is the kids' time to host. They show their parents around and tell them about the room. I also typically have lots of student work on display (like our pigs that I posted about yesterday!). 

Parents start the evening by playing "Guess Who" and looking around the room to find their child's work. These were pages I created that the students filled in on their own today. This was probably one of the few times in the year that I'll tell them "Don't put your name on it!"

Then, the parents sign in and take a bag of popcorn as a thank you. On the back of the student work, there were directions such as "Have your child show you our centers." This allowed the parents and kids to interact while the students showed them around the room.

How do you set up Open House for your students and parents?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Big Pig, Little Pig

Here's a few snapshots of a last minute crazy idea I had today!

The first one is my example that I made as we went through the steps! This craftivity goes along with a short "i" writing assignment we did on big pig and little pig.
I thought you also needed to see some student examples to see how well they turned out!

All that tearing of paper and this is what my classroom looked like at the end of the day. What great little cleaners they were today!
Step by step instructions and more to come on this project!  The kids really enjoyed making their pigs. Even my principal thought they were cute!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wow! Thanks Guys! & A Freebie!!

So, I was browsing around bloglovin' when I thought I'd pop over to my Moments to Teach page and see how it was doing. On Blogger, I have about 45 followers, which excites me greatly! I'm beyond delighted to have gained so many followers in such a short time (less than 4 months).

So... Imagine my surprise when I saw that I was up to 117 followers on my bloglovin page!  I'm thinking we're due a major giveaway when I reach 150!!  Spread the word and help get that number up!

Thanks to each and every one of you that follows my blog.

Here is a freebie just for you!  This file contains some of the morning work activities that my kiddos have done in the first few weeks of school. I will eventually be bundling a bunch of these to offer on TPT, but for now my followers get 4 days worth for free!

How I use these:

First, I print them two to a page to save paper. Then, I run them front to back (ELA on the front, math on the back). Each morning, students complete one half-sheet. Early finishers are able to select from our early finisher activities (more on that in a later post!) I walk around and monitor their work, but do not grade these morning pages. (You easily could though if you wanted to!)

This week, I am trying out a new system - I'm giving them a set of these pages (different topics) for Monday - Thursday. On Friday, they are going to get to visit "silent centers." I'll keep you posted on whether or not this is a successful experiment!

So pop on over and get the freebie!  It contains 4 short a pages and 4 addition/subtraction pages.

Thanks for following and spread the word so we can celebrate with a giveaway!!!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Facebook & A Giveaway!

I am going to be improving my Facebook page in the upcoming weeks and offering more freebies and games over there. I currently only have 6 followers.  I would love to see that number increase.

So, I'm hosting a giveaway to promote my Facebook page!

The winner will receive their choice of one item from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  I will also be giving away choice of items on my Facebook page after the raffle has ended. You'll need to be a follower to be entered into that random drawing!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for being a follower!!!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Organizing the Chaos

Books are an essential part to the classroom. They are also one of the most challenging things to organize because there are so many of them and so many ways to organize them.

I have finally found a system that works for me and my kiddos and I'm super excited to share it.

I blogged about my individual book bins a little this summer. I didn't have access to my classroom so I had to improvise. I thought I'd revisit this topic now that I have real life pictures to share.

First off, I start by putting leveled books from our school library in the reading center:

Each basket contains one level of books and is tagged with the letter. There is also a letter in front of it to help kids put them back in the right spot.

So far, the kids have done great with keeping this area organized. The books that come from the library have a small circle label with the letter on it. This helps them put them back in the right basket.

Each kid gets their own book basket that stays in their cubby.

The book bin has their number on it as does their cubby. This helps them keep track of where the bins belong. You'll notice I used number words for the cubbies and numerals for the book bins. I did this on purpose to encourage them to match the numerals with their number words.

Each child gets to pick three books out at the beginning of the day from our reading center. They can do this during morning work. Then, when they have free time after working, they are able to get their book bin to read silently at their table.

We'll be adding reading beanie buddies soon to these bins and I'm sure that will excite them greatly.

The bins are simply ice tubs that I bought at Wal-Mart for about $2 each. I've used them for three years now and gave them a face lift over the summer with ribbon, hot glue, and card stock. They look great in the room now! These bins are super sturdy and have held up to the wear and tear of kids.

How do you tackle book organizing in your classroom?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Crafty Oops

So, I bought these lovely new bins to hold the leveled books in my reading area. After getting them, I created letter labels to use on them. The labels were cute with black polka dots to match my room. Imagine my disappointment when the labels wouldn't stick to the curved handle on my baskets. Enter the problem - how to label my bins?

After much deliberation and searching through my craft stuff, I found these nifty scrabble-like wooden letters with a hole at the top. A solution to my problem was born! And I must say, I love the way my reading baskets turned out as a result. The end result was better than my original plan in my opinion!

You can see how I still used the black dot labels to help with keeping things in order:

An up close shot of the crafty solution!

Like I said, I love the way it turned out. I'll be posting more about my reading center and how I utilize leveled books in the classroom later this week!

Have a great week everyone!