Thursday, August 29, 2013

Exhausted & Positive Start

I can barely hold my eyes open to write this. But I wanted to share that I'm keeping my head above water this year. We're getting all new curriculum and have been swamped with trainings and PD. This year our school kicked off the year with a "vision" meeting. As skeptical as I was, I did take something out of it. I have decided to make myself have a POSITIVE attitude. When I'm frustrated that it's the 11th hour and I still don't have a schedule - I reflect that I'm thankful to have a job. When my class size is bursting at the seams (28/29 kindergarteners) - I'm thinking of the sweet ones that I'll get to influence and shape. When I'm sweating up a storm in my non-A/C building, I'm thankful that I remembered my deodorant.

Sometimes teaching can feel like swimming upstream and the obstacles are overwhelming if you let them become that way. This year I'm making a concentrated effort to see the POSITIVE side of things. That's my vision for the year!

Saturday, August 17, 2013


It's almost time for the big BACK TO SCHOOL SALE! It is going from Aug. 18th to 19th. My whole store will be 20% off but you can get up to 28% off if you use the code: BTS13 when you check-out! You might also note that TPT is not on West Coast time like I am so the sale ends a little early for the West Coast & Hawaii friends. I know I've been bummed out by waiting till the last minute and sales end on East Coast time.

I hope you find something you like in my store. Check it out if you're interested! I think my favorite item in my store are my sight word books. I use them with my kids and they LOVE them. Happy shopping!  :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Back to School Bulletin Board

I'm so happy with how my bulletin board turned out. It was a major pinterest fail earlier this week. All of our bulletin boards are painted to save us from using paper on the background - so it's painted a sky blue color. I started this board by stapling the crinkle border the the outermost edge (putting the staple as close to the outside edge as possible. Then I wiggled the green pieces inside and secured them with staples, last I added the pink and white dot border. This took a long time to do - no kidding, phew! I love the way it looks and I can leave it up for a while so I'm happy I invested the time. To make the jumbo cupcake I fan-folded the yellow paper base to give it texture - then I unfolded and popped out all the creases to make them pop outwards. Then I started folding tissue paper in 1/4s and then kind of did a "staple, poof, staple. The bottom blue part of the cupcake is lengthwise- 2 sheets. And it actually is double thick. I did the same thing for the green and other colors. I think the from the pink on up it's just one sheet long. I made a cherry by balling up red tissue paper and twisting a sparkly green chenille stem and stapling those up. My mini-cupcakes will have student pictures and names on them once school starts. I hope you like it!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Lesson Plan Template Tutorial

Here is a little tutorial on how to copy formatting in Excel to make duplicates of lesson planning pages. You should have some basic Excel knowledge to do this. Excel for beginners can be really frustrating, but it can do cool things once you get the hang of it.

First you need to find and make an excel document that meets your lesson planning needs. Here is a link to grab my planning template. It is on an old post and has good tips for grabbing the fonts. I've used the same format for many years and have to just move times around from year to year. So first, on your own make some planning pages - or use my template.  See the picture below on what mine looks like. You could just print it and be done - print them on the copier double sided week after week ... OR ... you could do it digitally and type them in. If you want to take the next step and try typing the plans in jump to the bottom of the post for how to copy the formatting from week to week.

Now here's the part that frustrated me for a long time. How do you copy and paste that format so it stays the same with fonts, times, and column sizes from week to week? Well, I figured it out. I work on a MAC so I'm sure things will be different on PCs (sorry I can't help you there). You can download this tutorial I made by clicking this link: Tutorial

Once you have your planning pages, you can just click inside the boxes and type away!

I hope that helps!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

September Journal Freebie

I know that we're all different when it comes to teaching students how to write. I always start off by giving students lined paper (yes, from the very first day). If you do it differently - all the power to you - this isn't the place or forum to try to convince me to do it another way. I know that writing develops and some people start with blank paper, but I always make writing fun and let students explore paper with lines from the start. I do a lot of modeled and interactive writing and let students "explore" writing on the page. Some students will actually use the lines on their first attempt while others are all over the place. It's all ok in the beginning! :) 

One of the first lessons I teach comes from Lucy Calkins (after a few days of exploring writing on their own) is this one: 
***I teach students how to use the guide lines by making a squiggle story. 
I tell a basic story and model how to use the lines to write a story from left to right.***

I say something like: It was raining...the rain came down really hard. (draw vertical lines). Then it stopped so I walked to the park (draw dashed lines). A dog barked so I got scared and ran really fast (wiggle lines). Then I saw a bee. It buzzed around and around (swirly lines). When I get to the end of the line I make a big deal about wanting to tell what happened next and then I teach the "return sweep" and how to use the bottom line to keep telling the story. (RETURN SWEEP). Then I walked some more (dashed lines). I had to walk through really tall grass (tall lines). Then I saw a rabbit hopping (bouncy lines). I was happy - the end (period).

After doing a story like this students will write stories with squiggles and lines on the writing lines. It's amazing how fast they pick it up. Later, we'll work on adding letters and labels into our writing. I usually take dictation and write it on the worm-line so that I can share student stories with parents and remember what all the squiggles mean.

If you would like to grab this Journal cover and pages (Cover, 15 pages, blank back cover) you can get it from my Google Drive. 


Monday, August 5, 2013

Back to School Teacher Appreciation Gift

I'm getting ready to go back to school - well in a couple of weeks. So the pressure is on to get all the "fun" stuff ready now so that when I'm back in the trenches I can have my nose buried deep in the new curriculum we're using this year.

I know that my co-workers love treats just like I do. So I made these cute little jars full of M&M's with a fun tag on them. I printed my tags on glossy paper from Office Max. Then I cut them out and used double-sided tape to stick them to the lids. I think they're cute and I know that I would LOVE getting a gift like this.

$4.97 for 4 jars (Walmart)
$1.42 for the tags (Office Max - I printed 8 just in case I want to make more)
$0 for the candy (My mom had a giant bag from Costco and offered to fill these up as I started making them)
Total: 6.39 which = when divided by 4 = about $1.60 per gift. Not too bad!

You can CLICK HERE to grab the tags.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

CVC Game Freebie

I just made a little CVC short a game freebie! You can hop on over to my TPT store to grab it!

It takes minimal preparation. Just print, grab a couple of dice and crayons and you're all set! The first game works on the at family and the second game is mixed practice of CVC short vowel A words. Enjoy!