Saturday, August 17, 2013

Wow. That's just about all I can say. Wow.

If you've read Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, you've heard that line before. After a first week of school (yes, the WHOLE week) my kiddos and I were exhausted Friday afternoon! I've got 16 kids: 8 girls, 8 boys. They are sweet, well-mannered, good-listeners, and excited about reading chapter books! I'm loving them so far.

I wanted to take pictures of my classroom at the beginning of the year to show how I organize and decorate but every time I started to take a photo on Business Day I had a visitor, then would get side-tracked. This week was much too busy to even think about pictures!

First things first. My older sister has been teaching me how to use Photoshop (And by teaching, I mean me texting her a photo/question every time I get frustrated!) so I've been experimenting with coloring the borders I bought at Scrappin' Doodles over the summer.

I also bought several clipart cds/downloads from DJ Inkers, whose copyright states that I can't sell the things I make with it, only give them away. This means I get to share my cute One Minute to Go poster with you for free! You can download it from HERE, at my TPT store!
Here's a picture of my door on the first day of school. I've got my Shhh... testing poster ready to move to the front of the door as needed (got it from The Pinspired Teacher!), our lunch calendar, the back-to-school wreath I made, our end of the day checklist, and a bus poster we stick bus passes on. Pretty cute!

 The next thing I'd like to share are these amazing Quick Stick nameplates. I picked up about a million packages at the Carson Dellosa Warehouse sale a few years ago (for a buck each) but if you've never used them... go buy some RIGHT NOW! They are such a time-saver! They completely replace the contact paper cutting, did-i-get-it-even questioning I used to spend so much time fussing over! The best part is that it has everything my babes need. To start off the year I go with these simple ones, but will change them out for these once the kids start picking. The second set will have a number line AND a hundreds chart. I also like to start a nice discussion on taking care of belongings when I put on the second set, as they will last the rest of the year so the kids better not pick at them! Believe it or not, I've had good luck with it!

Third thing to share: I bought these items at walmart (a magnetic dry-erase board, enough magnets for each child, and some green tape... along with yellow spraypaint {not pictured}) to created one of those cute "I've Left the Room" boards that I've seen floating around Pinterest.

I painted my magnets yellow, so they would be cute, and cut the tape into smaller strips. I used a permanent marker to write on the board so it wouldn't come off, but can always remove it if necessary.
The kids so far L-O-V-E it! There is a terrible glare on this blurry picture (oops!) but you get the idea. I've got a spot for office, bathroom, nurse, errand, speech, tier 2, 3, 4, and computer lab. Right now it's mainly being used for bathroom (lol... I hate that part of the beginning of the year!) but as we begin our IE blocks and my kids are all over the place, we'll use it for that as well.

Here is my desk layout for the beginning of the year. I've got 4 sets of pairs, then two lines of 4/5 desks in the center. I never know what kind of kids I'll have, so I never know how to plan the desks. This is a great starter, though!

This is probably the best investment I've ever made for my classroom. I spent about a hundred dollars to buy super sturdy, brightly colored boxes to fit on my built-in bookcase. Then I labeled each one of them with something I teach during the year. I put them in order by how I plan to teach them, then pull down the books as needed. You can see my red and orange boxes are empty right now, since they had my "Back to School" and "Citizenship/Diversity" books in them. When the boxes get too full, I move them to a rubbermaid box I have elsewhere in the room (I have a tub of just Christmas books!) and keep the extras we find throughout the year in the designated section. Each math category has a section (money, time, probability, etc.), 100th Day of School and other holidays have their own boxes, and each of my unit study topics (American Indians, magnets, etc.) have their own as well. It's a GREAT way to keep track of the books I need for certain lessons.

Here is my calendar board, at the front of the room. The poster for what they fill out in their planners is a big spot, then I also have all the morning math pieces. The reporting/tattling posters I made were inspired from pinterest last summer!

Here's my cheesy back to school board I made for Business Day! Each students' name is written on a gumball.

Here is a wreath I made for our Computer Lab manager whose room is across the hall from mine. I'll write her name using a chalkboard pen I picked up at Hobby Lobby last week. 

And here is a wreath I made for one of my favorite people, our SPED teacher. Her room is right next to mine, too! 

 I can sum this post up by saying I had a GREAT first week of school. I hope to add a couple more pictures and link soon to a few more classroom activities we've done (like the cutest ever Lily and cowboy boot!)

I'll leave you guys with this picture of a weird beetle we found hanging outside of the door on our way to recess one day. We couldn't decide which side was his head and which was his tail!

Enjoy your weekend!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Google Reverse-Lookup for PICTURES!

This isn't directly school-related, but it is educational, and when reading it I thought "Wow! Everyone on Pinterest needs to know this!" By going to THIS SITE by some guys in New Zealand (yeah, call me 'Stalker'...) you can use it to find the original source of pins with broken links. If everyone fixed them when they found them, there would be none! I hate clicking on a pin to find directions or get a better look and it go to something random, or nowhere at all. I don't know if I'll be able to find all of my broken pins, but from now on I'll certainly try to keep a better eye out so I can pin from the original source! I hope you'll do the same! It may also be useful for some other reason, though I can't think of one yet. 
UPDATE: I thought of another reason!! When I see a weird bug outside I can take a picture of him and  reverse search to see if there are others of his kind. Then I can read up on him and know whether to let him live naturally in his habitat, or kill the invasive alien with something hard and flat. Either way, it will be useful!

Lego Crayons!

At the beginning of summer I ordered a couple of Lego molds off ebay that are made to use with heat (they'll probably say something about chocolate making) and found a pile of old crayons (the large ones, with 24 of each color) looking for a new purpose in life. I gave them one!

First, I sorted my crayons by color, then chopped them up into tiny pieces (you can use a knife to make big chunks for large molds, a cheese grater to make tiny pieces-but that didn't work well for me, or a food chopper like mine from Pampered Chef.)

I put some of the pieces into my lego block mold, and the rest went into a double-boiler to melt. I wanted melted wax to pour into the lego-men, since they have so many small pieces. After my first batch, I realized the chopped up pieces left too many air bubbles in their little heads and arms.

I cooked the block molds (on an old pan) for 30 minutes at 250 degrees. The double-boiler took about 10 minutes to melt the wax. I stirred it occasionally with a straw, then pour into molds!

Then I had to let them cool. I set them out for about 30 minutes, then once firm I put them in the freezer to hurry along. The whole process would be MUCH easier if I had more molds. If you plan on making a lot of different colors, I would recommend buying multiple.

Lastly, I carefully popped them out of the molds (oh how I love silicone molds!) and poof! I'm done. A few of my reds didn't turn out well (they didn't cool long enough) so that parts definitely necessary.

 I'm still finishing up the orange ones... Did I mention it takes HOURS to do this!? Waiting for them to cool is SO HARD! :-)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Fantastic Mr. Fox Book Study

Last year I had an unholy number of boys in my class (17, compared with 6 girls) so I was always on the lookout for silly games, slimy experiments, and disgusting-humored books to keep their attention. (My poor, precious girls, I know!) After seeing this dapper fox tie at, I decided to create a book study for Fantastic Mr. Fox.

I had read it to my fourth graders a few years previously, and remembered the gross descriptions of the farmers and the action-packed adventure of Mr. Fox... but knew there was no way my Seconds could do any of the activities already out there. So, Mrs. H., my partner-in-crime, and I went in together and purchased the tie for our awesome principal as an incentive to clear his schedule each day for about 20 minutes over the course of a week to read the novel to our kids in a big group. We weren't sure if our 8-year-olds would listen to our voices for 20 minutes each day, but knew they'd pay attention to the King-of-the-School (as he's affectionately called!)

I then created a full book study with questions for kids to answer each day (in Second Grade language) as well as lots of other activities (character analysis, a prediction piece, a fun cootie-catcher) so the book could take the place of our reading series for the week. There are 26 pages in all (we ended up running out of time some days, and we have a 90-minute reading block!) so you can pick and choose the best activities to fit the needs of your kiddos. You can get to my TPT site by clicking the link above. Here's a sample of some of what's included, and all the printables are black and white for convenience at the copier!

It was a lot of fun, and even my girls enjoyed listening and participating! I plan on doing this again next year, but will have to find another way to bribe someone to read it aloud! The pages include: Read-Aloud Sticky Notes and Foxy Facts Sheets so the book can be read aloud or students can complete written responses for the questions if reading independently (directions included), Book prediction/summary, "Not So Fantastic Farmers" character analysis, "Dig, Dig, Dig" retelling picture, "Burrowing Bandits" graphic organizer, "Rhyme Time" writing activity, "Fantastic Effects" cause and effect map, "Mr. Fox is Fantastic" descriptive writing, and a cootie-catcher style foldable with extension questions. All items were created with 2nd-3rd graders in mind, and each level of Bloom's Taxonomy is covered.

*Update! I revamped the graphics in my Book Study. Details are HERE.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Liebster Award and Nominations

My friend Jessica over at 3rd Grade Things nominated me for a Liebster Award! I love to blog but haven't really branched out into the blogging community, so now is my chance! This award is given to "up and coming" bloggers who have less than 200 followers (yeah, I've got 1! haha)

In order to accept, I must
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me (check the above link or look for her cute little owl button on the right side of my page)
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted by my nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about myself.
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees.
6. Contact my nominees to let them know I nominated them so they can restart the process!

So, in order of appearance on the checklist:
1. Click the link above or look for Jessica's cute little owl button on the right side of my page to see her awesome new blog that has great idea for more than just 3rd grade!

2. This is the hard one for me; I'm so awkward at making new friends! But here goes:

+Miss D'Amore at The Second Grade Safari has a cute blog with lots of craftivities for little hands to make! She posted a comment on another blog I follow, so I clicked her link, and I was super impressed with some of her idea!

+ The anonymous teacher at 4th Grade in Ya Face has some cute bulletin board ideas, even though my kiddos aren't quite old enough for them, but what I really loved (and why I pinned her to my 'school' board months ago) is her Volume Song she wrote for "Call Me Maybe." It's CUTE.

+  Another Second Grade blog I love is Teacherific. I've pinned some of her stuff before (like her math anchor charts!) and I love her take on the Daily 5.

This fabulous teacher at Confessions of a Primary Teacher has a ton of organizational tools. (Can I just say that I love her anchor charts, too! Are we seeing a pattern?)

+ Brittany and Melissa at Frugal in First have lots of freebies and even more great ideas. I love their Gus the Plus and Linus the Minus anchor charts!

3. My questions/answers from Jessica:

1. What is your most memorable "Kids Say the Darndest Things!" moment from your classroom? 
I actually have a list of these so I can look back and laugh when I need a pick-me-up. My very first year teaching all students in the county were required to write a report and present it orally for a grade. Members from a group that donated a lot of money to the school system visited some of the classrooms to listen to the reports. Of course that day I had one of those visitors in my class, and one of mine ended his report about dinosaurs with, "Now remember, if the dinosaurs ever do come back, you have to watch out for the little ones. They bite!" Everyone laughed and I made sure I mentioned loud enough for our visitors to hear me tell the student that I noticed his ad-libbing at the end! 
2. What is your favorite thing to do during the summer? 
I would say, "the internet" but for the last two years it's been specifically "Pin things on my Pinterest boards." :-) Check it out!
3. If you could go on a shopping spree for your classroom at no cost to you - which store would you go to? (You can only pick one!) 
Only one!?!? If it's at no cost, then Lakeshore Learning! They have such great workstation activities and dependable, sturdy resources. I only shop there when they're have a great sale and I can get free shipping, so to actually set foot in one of their stores and not have to worry about cost would probably be my heaven!
4. If you could change one thing about your school, what would it be? 
I love love love my school! Third time's a charm, right? To make it even better, I wish that it was built in a way that I would get to see more of what's going on in different grade levels more often. We are all in separate "wings" and I don't ever take enough time to go visit the Kindergarten and 4th/5th grade hallways. The trip is always worth it, though! 
5. Where did you graduate from college?
I graduated Roanoke College in 2007. Go Maroons! I wanted to be close enough to attend my home church on Sundays, but still far enough away to get the feel of living on my own. 
6. What is your favorite food? 
Chicken! Right now my favorite is Bojangles' Supreme chicken strips.
7. Who lives in your household with you? (Count your fur babies if you have any!) 
My husband and I have two beautiful miniature schnauzer pups, Tobias (black) and Elsie (white).
8. If you could spend the day with anyone - past or present - who would it be? 
I would love to spend a day with Apostle Paul... after his conversion of course, and preferably on day he wasn't in prison or being chased by an angry mob! I love reading the letters he sent to the new churches as recorded in the New Testament, and I think he was such a confident, well-spoken man who truly had a heart for God. He was humble, self-sacrificing, and inspiring to many people back then, as well as today, and I'd love to chat with him about his influence in the world.
9. Who is your favorite author? 
Tied right now between Mo Willems (Don't Let the Pigeon... and Knuffle Bunny are two of my favorites of his) and Kevin Henkes (I not-so-secretly want to name my firstborn child Chrysanthemum if it were a girl!)
10. How long and what grades have you taught? 
This year will be my fourth year in 2nd grade. Before coming back to my home county, I taught a self-contained SPED (Emotional Disabilities) class of students K-5 for three years.
11. What is your favorite thing to blog about, or to read blogs about? 
I love getting new ideas to make things, and I love sharing things that I've made.

4. My 11 facts:
I just have to say, "Wow. 11 is a big number."

-When I was really little I loved my dog, Arnie, and my older sister convinced me I could become a Black Lab (like him) when I grew up. I cried the day I realized I couldn't.
-After my first day of Kindergarten, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I spent many moments sitting in my classrooms throughout the years, visualizing what I would do differently if it were my room.
-Most of my friends today are people I've been friends with since middle school. I have zero friends from college. The rest are from work and/or church.
-Honestly, college wasn't that great for me. A lot of people say it's the best time of your life, but all I could think while I was there was "If this is as good as it gets, then my life is going to be terrible!" Luckily, it got better!
-I am the Children's Programs Director at my church, which means I plan all of the kid/youth events. VBS is my favorite! I also teach the teenagers' Sunday School class and love to poke my head in youth group on Wednesday nights... they hate when I play Devil's Advocate!
-My husband and I moved up to northern Virginia for his job. We stayed 6 months and I hated it. Sometimes, now, I wish we could go back. I feel like I "failed" that part of my life and I'd like a do-over.
-I am one of those teachers that a lot of other teachers secretly hate because of my control issues. I have no problem staying late and putting in extra time to make sure everything is perfect. I hate to admit that I'm an over-achiever. Even the janitor at school makes fun of me for it.
-I have a craft blog, Creator's Masterpiece where I post crafty things I make.
-The last 4 facts I'll throw into one paragraph:
My husband and I breed miniature schnauzers. We had the best-behaved child/dog, Sophie, and her most adorable mate, Alex, and decided they would make beautiful, smart puppies. (btw, we were right!) She had her 3rd litter the day after Christmas this past year, and one of the pups got stuck and the ER vet accidentally ripped something inside of her while getting him out and she died a couple of days later. Then, 8 of the 9 puppies died throughout the week, although we were bottle feeding them every 2 hours (luckily my husband and I were both off work, as well as my little sister, for the first couple of weeks). Unluckily, our male, Alex, was hit by a car exactly 1 week after Sophie died. I was SO mad at him for getting in the road- not a habit of his- but with Sophie gone I guess he had nobody to tell him not to do it! We decided to keep the one dog that did survive. We named him Tobias, which means "the goodness of God." We feel so blessed that he lived; it made the transition from Sophie and Alex much easier than it would've been. All of that happened the last week of December, and in February we bought Elsie, a white female. She is SUPER hyper compared to Toby's relaxed attitude, but they both bring joy into our lives and I can't even remember what it's like to not have them around. If they grow up to be healthy and well-behaved, we will probably try our hand at breeding again.

5. 11 questions for my nominees:
1. Why did you originally create your blog?
2. What do you enjoy most about teaching?
3. Do you have any pets?
4. What is one teaching supply you can't live without?
5. What's the best advice you've ever received?
6. If you could pick any grade level to teach, would you switch?
7. How much time to you generally spend lesson-planning?
8. What's your favorite book?
9. What's the best advice would you offer to a first year teacher?
10. Where is your favorite vacation spot?
11. If you were the captain of a pirate ship and your crew was made up of one type of animal, what animal would you want them to be?

6. Consider it done!

I hope you enjoyed this autobiography I seemed to have written, haha! And I definitely hope you go check out my nominees' blogs! 

Friday, July 26, 2013
Thursday, July 25, 2013

Back-to-School Wreaths

Today (well, it's already 1:30 a.m. so technically yesterday!) I made 3 new wreaths in the hopes of finding the perfect fit for my classroom this year. The pictures aren't very good (thanks to an iphone camera and an old house) but I love all of them! I haven't decided which one I'll use yet, or what I'll do with the other two. For more specific directions you can check out my craft blog, but here they are.

Wreath 1: My WM only had one grapevine wreath, so here's what I came up with.

Wreath 2: I used school-bus ribbon to wrap a styrofoam wreath for this design.

Wreath 3: This wreath base is made from pencils glued to dowel rods, with some simple yet adorable decorations to give it an eye-catching appeal.

I love making crafty things, and have a couple more wreaths sitting on my dining room table (not my craft room table?!?) waiting for a little more imagination so they can be finished. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Calendar Time Follow-Along

Last year I created a math board for my calendar time that included many skills I wanted to review with my kiddos throughout the year. I noticed some kids maintained their level of knowledge from month to month, whereas others seemed to lose information. To combat this problem this year (and know exactly what skills need extra practice) I created a follow-along (You can find it at my TpT Store) for my students to complete each morning. I had the pages copied, cut in half, and put in notepads so each day the kids could simply tear-off the page and either turn it in for my review, or put it in File 13 after going over it together ;-).

The skills to review include: writing the date in word and digital format, writing numbers in numerical and word form, identifying place value, odd/even, greater/less than, creating tallies, and counting money. There is also a space available to review another skill (ex. addition problems, fact families, word problems). 

Directions: Make copies for each student to complete each day before or during calendar time. After a few days of guided instructions students will be able to complete independently!
I've also included a sample walk-through of what you might say each day to encourage independent thinking. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Whole Class Journals

I created a set of 24 writing prompts for Whole-Class Journals (on my My TPT STORE) for only $3.00. Each topic can be glued to the front cover of a one-subject notebook so the whole class can have a turn writing their responses. I'm going to use mine as "I'm Done" work, but I included a parent letter so they can be sent home for homework, as well. I'm super excited about the kids having a place to write their ideas and can read their friends' work, while keeping all of their writings in organized books. There are prompts for opinion/persuasive writing, informational/explanatory writing, and narrative writings. I'm looking forward to implementing these in my class this year!

Update: Here are a few pictures of mine! I printed them on regular paper and used contact paper to attach them to the notebooks I found on sale at Walmart for 17 cents! SUPER EASY!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Few New Things

My husband and I were wasting time waiting for a movie, so we stopped in Michaels' Craft Store. They sometimes have some things different than the Joann's I prefer, but what caught my eye was their back-to-school stuff. I was able to get all of the things below (stickers, sentence strips, nametags, cubby labels, etc.) for a dollar each. And they aren't the usual dollar-crap things, either! 
 I also got $4 worth of foam shapes to put in a math workstation... either geometry sorts or patterns.
 And I found this cute little book for $2. It's an 8 page wipe-off boards of money activities, which will be great in a money workstation. Kids love anything to do with markers!
 They had their school stuff "buy 2 get 1 free" so I went ahead and stocked up on pencils and erasers for Dr. Seuss day (next March!)
 And on another note, my lego molds finally came in the mail! I'm super excited to make lego crayons with these! What 2nd grader would not want a lego-man crayon!?! Pictures once I make them, for sure!