Friday, July 31, 2015

Five for Friday 7-31-15

Happy Friday!! Many of you are headed back to or already back in the classroom. I hope your beginning of the year goes as smoothly as it possibly can!!

It's Friday, so that means I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her amazing linky party 5 for Friday!

This link up gives us a chance to share 5 random things from our week! It's neat to get a chance to see what everyone has been up to!! Here's my 5 for Friday!!

If you are a kindergarten teacher you really need to join the Facebook group Simply Kinder!  This is a really great group run by the blog of the same name. Jennifer Kadar is an amazing kindergarten teacher with so many awesome tips and tricks to share!!
Besides all of the advice and idea-sharing between kindergarten teachers that this page offers, Jennifer puts together some really amazing ways we can connect and help each other!
Recently she created an event called 'My Favorite Things' where she paired up kindergarten teachers, and each teacher was given the name of another teacher and their address. We put together a package of our very favorite things to help us with teaching, either at school or home, and sent it to our partner. 
My package came!!!!!
The teacher who sent me this package is also named 'Erin', how crazy is that?? She sent my package from Minnesota, and I've never gotten any mail from there before!! She found some really adorable sticky note pads. I love the ones that look like loose-leaf paper. There is also a notepad in the shape of an 'E' and star stickers that say "_____ is a Kindergartener!". They are going to be so cute to send home with my Dragons on their first day!
There have been a lot of amazing packages being shared on the Simply Kinder Facebook page, it's been really neat to look at all the pictures! I loved getting my package, but I had even more fun putting it together! There are rumors another exchange like this will happen around Christmas time, and I really hope that happens!!

If you've been involved with social media lately, chances are you have heard of the organization NAEIR. This organization offers many products to teachers/schools and other non-profit organizations at some seriously low prices. I mean, like ridiculously low.
If you haven't checked out their site, you really need to. You have to apply,  and to my knowledge they'll check your school's website to see if you're listed as a teacher in the school you say you are. If they can verify it, they will probably approve your application.
Once approved, you can then order different supplies from their site. Sometimes in a single quantity, other times with multiple of the same to a box (like pens). 
I just got approved to become a member, and I have no idea what to order. I've been looking at their site and picked out a few things, but I haven't met the $25.00 minimum for shipping yet. If this is something you're a part of, what are some things you have ordered? (I already have a laminator)

I need your help, teacher friends!!! This year, for the very first time ever, I have purchased an Erin Condren Teacher Planner.

I debated with myself for two years on whether or not to invest in one of these, because it is an investment. These babies aren't cheap!! I had been looking at them online and stalking different bloggers who had them, but still wasn't sure if I wanted to make the investment or not. Then one of the first grade teachers at my school got one and showed it to me, as well as how she used it. She said it helped to keep her organized and on track, and it was so pretty too!!
After getting to see one up close and personal, I was hooked. I ordered mine during the Teacher Appreciation Sale, and have been excited to use it ever since!!
I ordered a few extras with my planner, like the band and a laminated To-Do List divider. I had so much fun shopping around on her site, and getting to choose my own cover was awesome!!
For those of you out there who are EC Planner Veterans or Newbies like myself, I'd LOVE for you to tell me how you best use this awesome organizer! Leave me some tips in the comments, I'll be ever so grateful!! :-)

I have been bit HARD by the creative bug!! I keep getting all these ideas, which I then furiously jot down on lists everywhere. I have been trying to compile everything and get some new activities created. I am having a great time working on new resources that I can use with my kinders. 
I used to work on crossword puzzles with my mom, and those memories were the inspiration for my newest creation!!
I created simple crossword puzzles for the different CVC word family words we work on throughout the year. There are several different puzzles for each medial vowel sound, and a set of puzzles where the medial vowels are all mixed up in one puzzle.

I had a really fun time creating these, and I think my kinders are going to have a great time using them!!
If you're interested, you can go to my blog post HERE and enter my Rafflecopter drawing to win one.
OR you can head to my TPT Store and get the pack for 50% OFF until midnight EST tonight!!! It's the cheapest price it will ever be!

Each week I share with you how I am doing with my self-appointed Freebie Feedback Challenge. A few months ago I challenged myself to leave feedback on all of the freebies I had downloaded from TPT. I have sporadically left feedback on freebies, but challenged myself to do better. I needed something to hold myself accountable, so I created a fun graphic that I share with you all each week!

I'm on a roll friends!! I'm getting closer and closer to reaching my goal of feedback for all my freebies!!

Well, that's my week! What happened with you this week? Tell me in the comments or link up below!

Don't forget that tomorrow is Spotlight Saturday! You can link up for a Teacher's Show and Tell where you can share with us your favorite resources, products, activities, tips, tricks, ideas, and anything else that makes classroom life easier or more fun!!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Summer Share and Prepare: CVC Crossword Puzzles

Happy Thursday everyone! I am linking up with the super-sweet Marie from Once Upon a Classroom: A Teacher's Tale for her Summer Share and Prepare link up!

With this link up, we get to share all sorts of different resources we use in our classrooms. Then we get to hop around to everyone else who linked up and prepare for the upcoming school year! I have been having a great time with this linky, sharing many of the Write the Room activities I use in my classroom!! This week I'd like to share my newest creation!

This is something I'm going to use during our Word Work rotation times. As I introduce each new word family, we will use the sheets in this packet to help practice.

Working on crossword puzzles was one of my mom's all-time favorite activities, and I used to love helping her figure out the different clues. My mom was the inspiration for this newest packet.
I wanted my kinders to be able to complete crossword puzzles, but I knew I had to keep them as simple as possible. I thought the best way to do that was to use CVC words and pictures, since these are familiar words and there are only three letters to write per word.

 I made sure to cover every medial vowel and as many word families as I could find clipart for! There are at least five puzzles for each medial vowel, and then at the end of the packet are puzzles with all of the vowels mixed up. The image above shows all of the different word families that I created puzzles for.

The clues are pictures of the CVC word. Each clue is labeled with a number and an arrow. The top box are for clues going across, and the bottom box are for clues going down. Students should find the matching number and arrow combination on the puzzle and write the CVC word for each picture.

I'm going to use these puzzles during Word Work rotation times, but they would work perfectly as morning work or homework. You could even leave them for a substitute as a quick and easy activity for your kiddos to complete!!

Would you like to win a pack? Just enter the Rafflecopter below!! I'll choose a winner this weekend!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't want to wait to see if you've won?? You can purchase this pack in my TPT store for 50% OFF today and tomorrow ONLY!! If you win a pack and you've already purchased one, I'll send you a product of equal or lesser value!!

Swing back over to Once Upon a Classroom:A Teacher's Tale to see who else has linked up, and get yourself prepared for this upcoming school year!

Don't forget that it's not too late to link up for Spotlight Saturday! This link up is a Teacher's Show and Tell to share our favorite resources, products, activities, tips, ideas, tricks, and anything else that makes our classroom lives easier!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What Worked Well Wednesday

Happy Hump Day everyone!! I know many of you are headed back to school (if not already there). I hope you have had an incredibly amazing start to the school year!!

I have had so many amazing opportunities to meet some really amazing people through these social media platforms. One of the best things I've done so far is to find my #teachertribe.  I am a proud member of the #kindertribe and am so excited to have found a group of people who are more concerned with building each other up than tearing each other down. I'm so grateful for this group!! A Facebook page was just a start for this tribe, we soon branched out into a collaborative blog. 

The blog is mostly run and taken care of by the administrators, who will create different posts for the blog. There are two days a week other kindergarten teachers can link up to the blog. On Wednesdays we get to link up for 'What Went Well Wednesdays' and share something that went well during our week. I'm not back to school just yet, but I would love to share something that worked well for me last year!

I really like how I handled student supplies last year. I purchased a carton of these zipper pencil pouches from The Dollar Tree (in our district, teachers/schools are responsible for providing student supplies). I numbered each of the kiddos on my class list and then used a Sharpie to write the number of each student on the pouches.

Inside the pouches are all the supplies my kinders need during the day.

I purchased these really awesome 'soap containers' from The Dollar Tree. They came two to a pack and the lids are able to lock on. Not only that, but they perfectly hold an entire box of 24 crayons. How sweet is that?? I also numbered their crayon boxes.

In each pouch there was also a sharpened pencil, pair of scissors, and a glue stick. (I use glue sticks and glue sponges) These three tools are like the Holy Trinity in kindergarten, aren't they??

Also in the pouch is a dry erase marker and a piece of square felt to use as an eraser. We do A LOT of work with whiteboards in our classroom and we go through A LOT of dry erase markers during the year!! We have to spend many days in the beginning of the year practicing the proper way to use these markers, including not banging them on the boards to make dots and not using them for drawing or coloring on paper, as well as not to use them for drawing and coloring when we're using them to learn!

This is how I handled classroom supplies last year, and it really seemed to work well. The pouches from The Dollar Tree are super cheap-o and don't hold up well to kindergarteners, so I'm glad that I bought the whole carton so I can swap them out throughout the year. This year I am going to make stick-on labels for the crayon boxes, and I might change the way I label the pouches. I think this year I'm going to write the names of my kinders instead of a number. Honestly y'all, it was hard for all of us to remember who had which number! Being OCD, I definitely had a list, but it got to be a pain having to constantly check it. I think names are going to be much easier.

How do you handle classroom supplies? I'd LOVE to hear from you in the comments!!
If you head back over to the Kinder Tribe blog you can see lots of other amazing tips and tricks from teachers this week!

You can still link up for Spotlight Saturday! It's a Teacher's Show and Tell to share our favorite products, resources, activities, ideas, tips, tricks, and anything and everything else that could make our classroom lives easier!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Assess ME Week 1

Thank goodness for Instagram!! Do you think people actually say that?? Well, today I'm grateful because I learned about another awesome link up that I found out about on Instagram.
The Tattooed Teacher is hosting a really fun Back To School Get to Know You Link Up called Assess Me. As teachers we're super used to assessments, both giving them and taking them. As teachers, we're not always fond of the assessments we have to give but this linky is a way to make assessments fun!
This is a link up that will last for several weeks, and each week there will be a different way for us to share information about ourselves with all of you!
Week One is all about answering Yes or No questions. I had a great time answering these, they're really fun questions. Check out my Yes or No Assessment!!

1. Not only do I talk to myself, but I will often answer myself as well.

2. Of course I'm superstitious, I'm Irish!!

3. I know it bugs so very many people, but I've been cracking my knuckles since middle school at least!

4. I'm not hungry 'cause I just ate!

5. Yes, my TV is on. Watching 'Treehouse Masters'. I want Pete to come build me a tree house paradise!!

6. I had my wisdom teeth pulled out a few years ago. It was my very first time getting a tooth pulled, and it was not fun at all. Ugh.

7. I haven't showered yet today. I'm a shower-at-night type of girl.

8. I went to Disney for a week when I was 7 years old. I would say it's WAY past time for me to go back!

9. I have worn glasses since elementary school. When I got to tenth grade I was finally able to get contacts and have worn them ever since. I'm really seriously considering lasik surgery.

10. I was born in Jersey and spent a few year there while my dad bounced around from one Air Force Base to another. I stayed with my grandparents in New Jersey so I could experience stability. When my dad was discharged from the AF when I was five we moved to Maryland, and have lived in the same house ever since.

I hope you had fun reading my assessment and learning even more about me! Head on over to the link up and see who else is sharing more about themselves!

Don't forget that you can still ink up for Spotlight Saturday!  It's a Teacher's Show and Tell where we can share our favorite products, activities, tips, tricks, resources, and ideas with all of us! I get excited each week to learn about new things I can do in my classroom!!

Must Read Monday: Just For Fun Books

Today is Monday, and I know that many of you are back for your first day today! I hope you are able to get some work done in your classroom while you're attending your PD sessions and staff meetings!
I have a few more weeks left before I have to head back. Don't hate, there are teachers that go back even later than I do!! :-)
I am linking up today with Kindergarten Planet and The Kindergarten Connection for their incredibly awesome Must Read Monday linky party!!

This incredibly awesome weekly link up allows us to share our favorite books based on a given topic! At the end of this post you can find links to my other Must Read Monday posts to check out more of my favorites!
This week the topic is Just For Fun Books!!! I had a lot of tun going through the inventory I am working on of my class library. Whenever I came to a title that made me smile I added to my list! Then, of course, I had to narrow that rather extensive list down some for this post!! There's no such thing as having too many books, right?? :-) These are some of my favorite books that are guaranteed to make my kinders laugh!!

Aliens Love Underpants is ALWAYS a huge hit in my classroom. I can't even read the title or show the cover without causing a serious case of giggles in my kinders!
This silly story starts off with aliens on their home planet expressing their love for underpants. They love all shapes, sizes, colors, and styles. When the aliens invade Earth, they aren't here for world domination! Oh no, they just want our underwear!! The aliens love underpants so much that they happily steal several pairs and wear them on their hands, heads, feet, and everywhere else they can fit them! This story is so much fun, right up until the aliens head back to their home!
This story can lead to fun writing activities, as well as patterns, colors, and sorting.

Another book that starts the giggles off just by reading the title is Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems. This book is a huge hit in my classroom, and let's be honest. Is there a Mo Willems book that isn't awesome???
In this story Wilbur the Naked Mole Rat is unlike any member of his colony. He actually WANTS to wear clothes! He LOVES clothes!! Like, walk-in-closets full of clothes loves them!! He has clothes for every occasion, from going to the beach to going skiing to visiting the moon! However, wearing clothes is just not okay in Wilbur's family. Everyone in his family and his colony attempt to talk some sense into Wilbur, he was supposed to be naked. After all, it was in their name! No matter what anyone said, Wilbur couldn't stop wearing clothes. Things get interested when Grandpah, the oldest, wisest, and most naked Naked Mole Rat ever, finds out Wilbur's secret!
This book can lead to very interesting conversations about family and how it feels not to fit in. Wilbur was different than everyone in his family and they all wanted him to change, but Wilbur sticks to his guns. This can also lead to a discussion about how important it is to be yourself, not who other people want you to be.

Waking Dragons is one of my all-time favorite books. With my obsession being what it is, I compulsively snatch up every book with the word 'dragon' in the title. This one I was even more excited about because I got it from Scholastic accompanied by the CD. That means I get to put it out at my Listening Center and my kinders can enjoy listening to it!
In this story, a young knight is responsible for waking up two young dragons and helping them get ready for school. Most of the humor comes from the incredible size difference between the knight and his young charges. The knight is smaller than each dragon's head, so he has to get creative when helping them to get ready for school. From catapulting waffles into their mouths to using a fire extinguisher to cover their toothbrush with tooth paste, the laughter continues as the pages turn. 
This is a great book to talk about the importance of schedules and routines, and can lead into a discussion or activity about how your kiddos get ready for school each morning. 

The Monster Who Lost His Mean is such a cute story about a young monster who doesn't know where he fits in!
In his world, Monsters were supposed to be Mean. It was your one-of-a-kind-M, and without it you're just an Onster. But this little monster doesn't want to be mean and scary. He wants to help others, cook fun meals, water flowers, and do all sorts of things real Monsters aren't supposed to do. The other Monsters make fun of him so much that he is determined to find his M and be a real monster. His attempts are hilarious, and the lesson he learns about being yourself comes from a very unlikely source!
This book is great for discussions about staying true to who you are and not allowing the thoughts, actions, and opinions of others to influence your own actions. Great lesson in such a funny story!!

Little Pea is such a sweet story! I love getting the chance to read it to my kinders each year!
There is a strict rule in Little Pea's family. If you don't eat all your candy and sweets for dinner, than you are not allowed to have your dessert of vegetables. All of the Peas eat cakes, cookies, candies, and every other sort of sweet and yummy dessert items. Little Pea, though, isn't like all of the other Peas. He isn't crazy about all that sugar. In fact, he'd rather eat fruits and vegetables all day long instead. It is quite the ordeal to get Little Pea to eat his sweets. There is much complaining, arguing, and whining. Little Pea takes the teeniest bites possible from his cookies and cakes and tries not to gag as his parents make him eat more. Will Little Pea ever get to eat the yummy vegetables and fruits that he craves??
This story is so funny! It's such a great twist on kiddos who have a hard time eating their vegetables! Many kids can relate to how Pea feels at dinner when he is given something he doesn't like. It's a great way to start talking about food preferences and the importance of healthy eating!

I could go on and on and on talking about my favorite Just for Fun books!! I hope you've been able to learn about a new book! Here are the links to my previous Must Read Monday posts.
Must Read Monday Friendship Books
Must Read Monday Math Books
Must Read Monday Cooperation Books
Must Read Monday Compassion Books
Must Read Monday Rhyming Books

 I can't wait to read everyone else's book choices, and you can too by clicking on the image below to head back to the link up!

It's not too late to link up with me for Spotlight Saturday! This is a Teacher's Show and Tell of our favorite products, activities, tips, tricks, resources, ideas, or anything else about classroom life that you want to share!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Sunday Scoop 7-26-15

Ahh, Sunday. The day of the week widely known for relaxation and taking it easy. I'm currently relaxing on the recliner and using my laptop. What's your favorite way to relax on a Sunday? Personally I would love to be at the beach, but there' always next year!
Since it's Sunday, that means that I am linking up with The Teaching Trio for their totally fun Sunday Scoop linky party!

In case you're not familiar with this link up, you get to use the popular 3-2-1 organizer to tell us about your upcoming week. 3 things you HAVE to do, 2 things you HOPE to do, and 1 thing you're HAPPY to do.
Here's a peek at my week!!

1. It is beyond past time to organize the files that are on my computer. My clipart is pretty well organized, so it's all the other files that need work. All of the different activities that i have downloaded as freebies or have paid for. Things sent to me from others. Honestly y'all, I don't even know what all I have on my computer anymore!! I need to weed things out and figure out what exactly I have so I now how to best use the resources that I've already saved!

2. I am getting really, really good at walking around using my walker. Next step is for me to start practicing standing up on my own two feet. I'm not quite ready to walk without the aide of the walker; it's still pretty painful to put weight on my ankle and my lower back ends up seizing up if I try moving without having the walker to lean on. However, I can usually stand up on my own. I'm practicing getting up from the couch and then just standing on my own two feet. I'm telling you guys, never ever ever take the simple stuff for granted!! Who knew I"d be almost 35 years old and having to re-learn the whole walking thing!!

3. Tomorrow is Round 8 of the laser surgery treatments on my ankle. I like the treatments not only because they are helping me, but because I get to get up and out of the house on 'doctor days'. I'm looking forward to a grown-up lunch and a trip to Target tomorrow!!! When you've been laid up on the couch for 7 months, it's the little things you start getting excited over!!

1. I've been trying extra hard to create some new activities for the beginning of the school year. I need to get them finished up and posted to TPT. I'm one of those creators who needs to finish what I'm working on before I can start something new, otherwise I'd never get anything done! Gotta buckle down and crank out some creations!!

2. I'm headed back to school in a few weeks, and it's time to start making those seemingly never-ending lists of things that need to be done. Shopping lists, classroom set up lists, student lists, lesson idea lists...the lists go on and on! Lots of lists to write, so I should get started!!

I am very happy to figure out all the different ways I can use the incredibly amazing Pal that Lauren from Polka Dots and Pals created for me!!
Do you see this awesome creation?!?! I am so in love with how Lauren incorporated my obsession with al things dragon into my Pal!!! I'm also holding my cup of ice water, which I carry around with me everywhere! I am just so much in love with this Pal!! She does such an awesome job! You should definitely check out your own Pal! Lauren will be creating more Pals around Christmas time!!

Now that you've had a peek at my week, head on back to The Teaching Trio and see who else has linked up for Sunday Scoop!

Don't forget that it is not too late to link up with me for Spotlight Saturday! This link up is a Teacher's Show and Tell, where you can showcase your favorite products, activities, tips, tricks, resources, ideas, and anything else that is fabulous about your classroom life! Share your Spotlight with us and learn about some new must-haves by reading who else has linked up!