Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Winner Wednesday: American Indian Task Card Scoot

October flew by and I can't believe it is the first Wednesday of November already! I am linking up with Jennifer from A Day of Glue Will Do again to bring you the chance to win a product from my store for FREE! All you will have to do is enter your name into the Rafflecopter below!

Use these task cards to review the American Indian unit in your classroom. Along with these task cards are directions for three different activities your students can do with these question cards. This product includes two different sets of cards with 24 questions in each set. The first set is a fill in the blank set where students must complete the sentence with which region would make the sentence true. The second set of cards is a multiple choice set where students must choose between three options. Both sets have similar questions but it is up to you to decide if your class would prefer a fill in the blank or multiple choice answering method. 

This product includes:
  • Two sets of 24 questions each
  • Cards include questions about each regions land, climate, homes, transportation, occupations, tribes, and contributions
  • Student recording sheet for both sets of cards
  • Answer key for both sets of cards
  • Directions with details on three different ways to use these cards in your own classroom
This product focuses on American Indians in the Eastern Woodlands, Great Plains, and Southwest regions. The Powhatan, Lakota, and Pueblo tribe names are used in this product but I am happy to change these tribes if your school studies different tribes within these regions. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
The drawing ends at midnight tonight so make sure to enter right away! I will email the lucky winner a copy of this product on Thursday. 

If you can't wait to get your hands on this product, then check it out in my store!  

Also, feel free to follow me on Facebook or Bloglovin' for other future Winner Wednesday FREEBIES and giveaway updates! Winner Wednesday happens the first Wednesday of every month thanks to Jennifer's wonderful link up! Make sure to mark your calendars for December 2nd and check back here for my next Winner Wednesday! 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Productive Planning Time!

Balancing school and home life can be TOUGH! Our To-Do list can seem never ending and sometimes staying at school until midnight seems like the only way we could ever get it all done. For my own mental sanity I cannot stay in the school building from 8AM-8PM so I have a few tips that I have learned along the way to help me get out of the building at a reasonable time. 

1. Prioritize your "To-Do" list!

When preparing your To-Do list put everything that MUST be done for tomorrows lessons plans first! If interims are due by the end of the week and you know you need to do them at some point during the week, still put it on your list. But know not everything on your list will get done in one day. I always put my tasks that need to be done for the next days plans first so that I am prepared when I come in the next morning. Always accomplish what needs to be done for your kids and your lessons before tackling those other little teacher tasks because at the end of the's all about the kids! They need to have engaging lessons and activities ready to go! 

I love a good list because there is nothing like the satisfaction of checking stuff off!

2. Learn what's best for you: before or after school?

I quickly learned I was tired, and cranky by the end of the day. So I learned that going to school early was the best time for me to be productive. At the end of the day it is hard for me to concentrate and I need a break, breath of fresh air, and a few minutes to put my feet up. So getting things done in the afternoon just doesn't work for me. I like to get a few small tasks done like setting up our morning meeting message, tidying up around the room, making a few copies and then calling it a day. When I come in the next morning I have my "To-Do" list on my desk and I get right to it. For me, it helps me to be productive because I race the clock to see how many things I can get done before that morning bell rings. I have more energy to tackle my list but I know that mornings might not be the best for everyone. Just figure out when you feel the most productive and tackle that list then. Maybe before or after school isn't when you feel the more energized to get everything done, maybe it is lunch or your planning period. Just find your time and start checking things off that list!

3. Stick to a routine!

Once your find our best time of day to check those tasks off your list, stick to it! If it is morning then make sure you keep that morning alarm set so you are at school early and ready to go. If it is after school then make sure not to schedule a lot after the bell rings. Just like our kids, we need to keep a routine to be productive.

4. Organize!

Don't spend your planning time running back and fourth to the copy machine or running up and down the halls to find your library books and lesson materials! First, get your plans set and straight. Next, make a list of all things you need copied, a list of the books you need to check out, and a list of materials you need to gather. Then get all of those "errands" around the school done at one time.

5.  Know when to socialize and when to get busy.

When you are out on your "errands" around the school, know when it is time to socialize and when it is time to get busy! Yes, a quick conversation with a friend down the hall can be a great stress relief and it is nice to talk to an adult after talking with your students all day. But, don't go into their room, make yourself cozy in their rocking chair, and end up staying for an hour, wondering where the time went. When you are running your errands around the school, be on a mission! Chat it up with your coworkers by the copy machine while you are getting your things done or stop by your teammates room to say hi! Just don't stay forever because they want to get stuff done too!

6. Focus, school time is school time! 

As tempting as it might be do text your family during your time before or after school try to avoid your phone...or Pinterest! I like the think that anything I can do at home like get ideas off Pinterest can be done at home. Calling my Mom to check in on her can be done at wait! Keep your game face on and keep plowing through that to do list! 

7. Know what can get done at home and what has to be done at school.

I know not everyone likes to take home things from school and I get that. However, I like to do some things from the comfort of my couch instead of my guided reading table. Things that can be done while some HGTV or Modern Family is playing in the background help me make it out of the building before dark! I like to bring home grading, lamination cutting, or anything that involves folding/stapling/gluing. Taking some stuff home gives me a break from school while we eat dinner before I go to take care of the few things left of my to-do list. 

8. Be okay with some things not being done, but have plan so they will get done. 

Know that not everything can get done! We only have 24 hours in a day and I personally need sleep so I am not a grump in the morning. It can he hard, but you have to learn to come to terms with the idea that not everything may get done. BUT have a plan to finish it! Tell yourself that you will set aside 20 minutes the next day, night, or weekend to get it done. Even if you break a big task like getting writing interims into 4 days of 20-30 minutes blocks each night. 

9. Kids want to help!

I tried to do it ALL my first year teaching, then I learned my kids loved to help. My kids waiting for the bus to arrive in the afternoon like to help with those little tasks like sharpening pencils, getting our morning meeting area ready, and passing out papers for the next morning. It helps get those routine tasks done while giving them a sense of pride and ownership that they prepare our classroom too. 

10. COLLABORATE and find your teaching soulmate!

Find your teaching soulmate and COLLABORATE with them daily! I know that this won't happen for everyone every year but you will find someone that you enjoy working with. I found my soulmate my second and third year of teaching and it was amazing! We worked together on everything. This split our to-do lists in half because we planned together and prepped the same lessons. It was like we spoke the same language, we had very similar teaching philosophies and we pretty much completed each others thoughts. Collaboration was key when trying to be productive! 

I know that not all of these tips will work for everyone and some of these tricks you might already be using, however, I wanted to share with you things that have helped me along the way. We all work differently but I hope you will be able to take away something from this post to help you be a productive planner! If you have any tips of your own that have helped you be a productive planner, I would like to hear them, so leave a comment below.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Winner Wednesday: STEM Columbus Day Challenge

It's finally October andI am linking up with Jennifer from A Day of Glue Will Do again to bring you the chance to win a product from my store for FREE! All you will have to do is enter your name into the Rafflecopter below!  

This STEM challenge incorporates learning about history while challenge students to use their engineering skills! After reading a book about Christopher Columbus or the history of Columbus Day, students will be challenged to build a new, modern sailboat that can be powered by wind! 

This product contains: the engineering design process model as an anchor chart, the lesson plan, teacher preparation and tips page, the challenge, and a six page student lab book to use throughout the STEM challenge. 

You will need a few supplies in addition to this package. This includes: aluminum foil, plastic wrap, styrofoam cups, plastic straws, popsicle sticks, cork, index cards, and duct tape.

The drawing ends at midnight tonight so make sure to enter right away! I will email the lucky winner a copy of this product on Thursday. 

If you can't wait to get your hands on this STEM Challenge, then check it out in my store

Also, feel free to follow me on Facebook or Bloglovin' for other future Winner Wednesday FREEBIES and giveaway updates! Winner Wednesday happens the first Wednesday of every month thanks to Jennifer's wonderful link up! Make sure to mark your calendars for November 4th and check back here for my next Winner Wednesday! 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Whooo C.A.R.E.S.?!?!

I LOVE the beginning of the year because it gives me a chance to teach my students about character education and social skills. I teach my students about C.A.R.E.S. and I can integrate these themes into our social studies unit about citizenshipC.A.R.E.S. stands for Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-Control. If you miss my posted introducing CARES and covering the bulletin board that accompanies these five topics check it out HERE!
Using C.A.R.E.S. topics during the first few weeks helps build a positive classroom atmosphere, while teaching my students about our class expectations. I have created five lessons, each one covering one of the C.A.R.E.S. topics.  Each lesson introduces the topic and hooks students with a read aloud by Mo Willems. I like using Mo's Elephant & Piggie series because these two characters are in each book and show my students that a character can display each one of our CARES traits. There are other great books out there for teaching CARES traits but my students really enjoy the Elephant & Piggie series because they are kid friendly books with not a lot of language. The drawings in these books grab their attention and the simplicity of the stories allows me to get right to the teaching topic. 

In "Today I Will Fly!" Piggie wants to fly but Gerald isn't too willing to help. With the help of another friend Piggie shows Gerald that flying can be possible when working together. This makes for a fantastic read aloud when teaching cooperation!

"There Is a Bird on Your Head" is perfect for teaching assertion because Gerald becomes frustrated when two birds make a nest and lay eggs on his head. He doesn't know what to until Piggie suggests that he kindly ask the birds to go somewhere else. To Gerald's surprise speaking up solves the problem and the birds go find a new place for their nest.

In "My Friend Is Sad" Piggie discovers her friend Gerald is sad. She works really hard to cheer Gerald up because she understands that being sad is no fun! The simplicity of the story helps students to focus on the meaning of empathy while getting a good laugh at all the silly things Piggie does to make Gerald happy again. 

Gerald realizes he is getting cranky and the only thing to help him get out of his cranky mood is a nap! In "I Will Take a Nap!" Gerald teaches us that taking care of our self and being responsible is very important. 

Self-control is a theme displayed through out "Waiting Is Not Easy!". Gerald learns that surprises can be worth the wait even when it is hard to use self-control and be patient. I like reminding my students that waiting to be called on or waiting your turn in line can be challenging, but just like Gerald experiences in the story, the wait can be worth it. 

If these read alouds interest you and you are looking for some new lesson ideas to teach your student's all about C.A.R.E.S, click on the pictures below check out these lessons:

Don't forget, if you want all five lessons and the bulletin board, make sure to grab the bundle in my store and save $4! 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Winner Wednesday: Find Someone Who!

Wahoo! What an exciting week! That TPT sale was so much fun and I stocked up on TONS of goodies! There are some talented TPT'ers out there! I hope you were able to find a few great products yesterday! 

Today I am linking up with Jennifer from A Day of Glue Will Do again to bring you the chance to win a product from my store for FREE! All you will have to do is enter your name into the Rafflecopter below!  

"Find Someone Who" is such a great structure to use for a back to school activity to promote class community building while allowing students to get to know one another!

To play "Find Someone Who" students each recieve their own paper. They then walk around the room, meet other classmates, and talk to them to find out if they fit any of the categories or boxes. If a student finds another student who fits, he/she has the other student sign his/her name or initials in the box. The goal is to complete all boxes in an allotted amount of time. 

Lets play a few rounds! If you can say yes to any of the following categories let me a comment below!
  • Who loves math?
  • Who has a sister?
  • Who has a pet?

This is an editable product and you can open the file in PowerPoint to change my categories or make your own! Page 3 of this file is not editable and is ready to use if you do not want to create your own. If you like most of page 3, but would like to change some of the categories, then edit it on page 4 by clicking on the text. If you want to completely make your own edit using page 5. 

To use the same font that I have used download and install the font from these amazing font makers!

If you would like to enter to win this product for FREE please enter below:

The drawing ends at midnight tonight so make sure to enter right away! I will email the lucky winner a copy of this product on Thursday. 

If you can't wait to get your hands on this BACK TO SCHOOL product, then check it out in my store

Also, feel free to follow me on Facebook or Bloglovin' for other future Winner Wednesday FREEBIES and giveaway updates! Winner Wednesday happens the first Wednesday of every month thanks to Jennifer's wonderful link up! Make sure to mark your calendars for September 2nd and check back here for my next Winner Wednesday!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

All Things Bulletin Boards

I am linking up with Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Angie from Lucky Little Learners to bring you my newest bulletin board and a few bulletin board tips because #2getherwearebetter!

First up is my new bulletin board, just in time for Back to School! My new bulletin board focuses on social skills and character education. It is very important to me that I teach my students social skills early on in the school year. Since I follow a Responsive Classroom approach in my room, I always start the year off teaching my students that "Our Class CARES"! CARES stands for Cooperation, Assertion, Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-control. These five traits fit right into my curriculum the first month of school because we work so much on setting up routines, exceptions, and rules. 

When students enter the classroom the bulletin board looks quite bare because I want them to be part of the process of putting it up. I first start with just the banner across the top. As I introduce each skill we add the large word and definition to the bulletin board. Once we discuss a trait and fully understand the skill, we then add the “looks like” examples to our board. 

For example, when I introduce the meaning of responsibility we read the Mo Willems book "I Will Take a Nap!" After reading the story we discuss what it means to be responsible and how Gerald was responsible in the book. We come up with a class definition so everyone understands what responsibility means. Then we play a fun game called "Showdown" to sort through task cards with examples and non-examples of responsibly. After this activity students have a better understanding of this social skill and we add the "looks like" cards under the definition. We add to the bulletin board that responsibility looks like; following directions, telling the truth, working hard, completing school work, and keeping our school safe. 

If you are interested in the bulletin board and the 5 lessons that go along with teaching students about CARES click HERE to check out the bundled pack and save $4! 

Next up is a little information about my bulletin boards! I love to have bulletin boards in the classroom that we add to throughout a unit or subject. I usually have a reading bulletin board and then a science or social studies bulletin board. 

Just like with the CARES bulletin board, I will put up a header and then as we learn more about a subject we add to the board. My bulletin board is one large one, so I divide it in half to use it for two different subjects. The board on the left is for our focus on reading and understanding fluency, accuracy, comprehension and expanding vocabulary. The board on the right was from our American Indian unit in social studies. We were learning about Pueblo, Lakota, and Powhatan tribes so we compared their region, homes, land, and transportation. I used string to help divide the sections on this bulletin board. 

A finally, one tip for you! If you don't have too many bulletin boards in your room then get crafty, make some fun anchor charts, and hang them up with Command Hooks! I only have one large bulletin board in my room so in my reading corner I added 6 Command Hooks on the wall and hang three different anchor charts in this area. Using the hooks makes it quick and easy to replace the anchor charts. 

Thanks for checking up my new bulletin board and learning more about bulletin boards in my class. Ashley and Angie will be linking up the 2nd of every month for more #2getherwearebetter!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Beliefs to Actions Blog Hop!

I am happy to be hopping along with Whitney from With Love From Texas today to share with you my beliefs of education. I feel this time of year is always the perfect time to reflect on my philosophy of education, in order to prepare me for the beginning of each school year and get me back into a educational mindset after being off all summer!

My philosophy of education is to teach not only the knowledge that students need to know but also instill in them qualities that will help them be successful throughout their lifetime.  Through providing engaging activities where students can self-discover and work with other students I believe that they will increase their own understanding of content.  I believe it is very important for students to have multiple opportunities to explore and learn lifelong skills such as communication, collaboration, and problem solving. 

In my classroom I like to use Kagan Cooperative learning structures and techniques.  I use Kagan procedures to set up table groups in my classroom.  I do this by looking at students reading, writing, and math abilities and then grouping them so that students have the opportunity to work with other learners.  Once teams are set up in my classroom we often do many structures that involved students working with partners or table teams.  One of my favorite Kagan structures is ‘Quiz-Quiz-Trade’ because it allows students the opportunity to communicate with other students while actively reviewing content.

I also use a Responsive Classroom approach in my classroom.  With Responsive Classroom we have daily morning meetings where students practice greeting others, sharing, and listening.  It is an important part of our day because it sets the tone in our classroom that we will respect others and treat others the way we want to be treated.  I like using Responsive Classroom because I have learned to use reinforcing, reminding, and redirecting language to keep my students on task and focused.  Students also take breaks in our classroom and we discuss ways to regain control of our bodies through taking deep breaths, counting to ten and reflection.  These are all skills that will help them through conflict resolution as they grow into adults. 

When reflecting on my philosophy of education I am reminded of a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.”  I believe this to be true because I see education as an opportunity to develop one’s own self through practicing and obtaining skills that will help them through life.  I believe it is important for me to demonstrate my passion for learning and encourage my students to be lifelong learners as well. 
Thank you for hopping along to read about my educational beliefs! To continue the hop visit Whitney from With Love From Texas!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back to School Activities

Have you heard about Periscope?!?! 

It is taking the educational world by storm and these two wonderful ladies, Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Angie from Lucky Little Learners, introduced me to it! While they were in Vegas at the Teachers Pay Teachers Conference, and I was still here in Virginia, they broadcasted from the conference and it was WONDERFUL! It make me feel like I was there and they brought all of their TPT take away ideas right to me LIVE via Periscope. Thank you Angie and Ashley!

After the conference, everyone was jumping on Periscope and I thought I would give it a try! I joined 5 other great TPT sellers in a Periscope Hop hosted by Linsey from Primary Polka Dots and we spent a Tuesday evening hoping from one teacher to the next talking about our favorite Back to School activities! With Periscope your broadcast is only available for 24 hours, but I saved it and you can take a look here:


If you would like to try out any of these activities make sure to click on over to my TPT store to get ready for Back to School! 

I hope you enjoyed getting a few ideas to prepare you for that energizing first week of school! Check back next week to see which of these three products I will be giving you a chance to win for FREE! :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Make Your MASTERPIECE {TPT Challenge}

It's week 3 of the TPT Seller Challenge hosted by Third in HollywoodTeach Create MotivateSparkling in Second, and Peppy Zesty Teacherista! This week's challenge was to design a new product for TPT! 

With the start of a new school year just around the corner I wanted to design a new ice breaker for the first week of school! I love games that help my students get to know one another and build a sense of community in the classroom, so this challenge came at the perfect time! 
I decided to make "This or That" cards. Using these cards students can interact with other students to find out which item they prefer. Each card has two choices for students to pick from and topics include sports, school subjects, school specials, colors, foods, animals, pets, and many more! I have also included directions for using these cards with a whole group or you can change it up and use these cards in small group. This activity can lead to great discussion between your students if you ask them to also tell their partner why they chose one picture over the other. 

Find these cards HERE in my TPT store! Or you could win them by entering the Rafflecopter below! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

Must Read Monday: Cooperation

The Kindergarten Connection and Kindergarten Planet are hosting a great summer linky called Must Read Monday! 

I love finding new books that other teachers use in their own classroom so I am here today to share with you three books I love to use when teaching my students about cooperation and team work. I believe that cooperative learning should be incorporated into all subjects because it infused social skills into academic curriculum. Through cooperative learning students can develop important social skills such as effective communication, eye contact, active listening, and so much more. To help my students learn about effective cooperation we start the school year off with many picture books that display the importance of cooperation. 

Here are a few of my classes favorites:

First up...Swimmy by Leo Lionni

This story is about a little fish named Swimmy. The ocean can be a scary place full of danger until one day Swimmy teaches the other fish how they can all work together to keep danger away! It is an adorable story that really illustrates how a group of fish can accomplish something great when they call "school up"! 

Next up...Stick by Steve Breen

Stick is a frog who gets carried away by a dragonfly one day and he ends up far away from home. It takes the cooperation of many animals to help him make his way back. This book is great for young readers because the whimsical illustrations tell the story with limited text.

Finally...Duck & Goose by Tad Hills

Duck and Goose come across an extraordinary discovery (or so they think)! They both want to take care of an egg but there is a problem..Duck doesn't really care for Goose and Goose isn't too fond of Duck. As they begin to take care of the so called egg, they begin to work together and find out that they might just really like being friends. 

If you enjoy teaching your students about cooperation, stay tuned!!! I am working on something BIG for the beginning of the school year that will focus on collaboration and your students are sure to love the story that I have in store for this big surprise! 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

One Lovely Blog Award

I was nominated by the Jayme from Teach Talk Inspire for the One Lovely Blog Award! I love following her blog, she is such an inspiration! 

I am so humbled that my blog has received this award from Jayme because I had been dreaming of starting this little blog for about two years...but life got busy! Finally, back in December, over my school's winter break, I told myself it was finally time to get started and I am so glad I made that decision! This world of teacher bloggers it so friendly and I love connecting with teachers from all over the world to get great ideas I can use with my own kids!

To accept this award I need to give 10 facts about myself so that you can get to know this girl behind the blog!

1) I have wanted to be a teacher since I was in 1st Grade! I would make my babysitter play school with me each day when I got home AND I would even give her homework. I was a mean little 7 year old teacher!

2) I ran in the Nike Women's Half Marathon in Washington D.C. It was my first half-marathon and it was a beautiful run, not to mention the cute Tiffany's necklace they give you when you cross the finish line :)

3) I am obsessed with peanut butter and pickles...I mean not together. I have loved those two things (separately) since I was little. I ate PB&J sandwiches every day for lunch all the way through high school. 

4) With an A, with an A, with an A-L-P, with a P, with a P, with a P-H-A, with a P, with a P, with a P-H-I...ALPHA PHI! Yep that's right, I joined Alpha Phi as a sophomore in college. Any other Alpha Phi teachers out there?!?!

5) My first plane ride was not until I was 22 years old! Not because I am scared of planes, we just drove everywhere because the vacations we planned were always less than a 7 hour drive from our home. 

6) It rained on our wedding day BUT as you know, a knot that becomes wet is extremely hard to untie. Therefore when you "tie the knot" on a rainy day your marriage is supposedly hard to unravel so my husband and I are lucky!

7) I would move to to Waco, Texas just so I could have Joanna and Chip design my home for me. I love them! Any other Fixer Upper HGTV fans out there? 

8) My first trip to the west coast was for our first wedding anniversary! It was a blast and I loved California.  

9) I am TERRIFIED of snakes! I think 90% of my nightmares have to do with snakes! It's their fangs that really creep me out.

10) I really want to go on a hot air ballon! We tried to while we were in California on our anniversary trip but the weather didn't cooperate. 

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading a little more about me! I now nominate these wonderful and inspire blogs for the One Lovely Blog Award: 

Allyson from Going Strong in 2nd Grade
Jill from ABC's and Polkadots
Breanna from A Pinch of Primary
Amanda from A Traveled Teacher
Page & Cristy from Kindergarten Squared
Tess from The Krafty Teacher
Nicole from Why Pencils Have Erasers

To accept the 'One Lovely Blog Award' please comment below and post ten facts about you on your own blog. Then send the love to a few other bloggers that you love by nominating them!