Saturday, December 31, 2011

Insane Sale!

So my retired teacher mom said "you did WHAT?!?!?!?!" when I told her about the sale I just posted on TPT.  I have marked everything in my store down to $2 or less!!!  Yes, even my $8 mega packs!!!  Everything will stay $2 until I get a free moment tomorrow to put it all back to original prices.  Enjoy!

Click here to go directly to my shop!


Friday, December 30, 2011

Winter Reading Incentive & A Freebie

I'm gearing up to go back to school on the about you?  As soon as we get back, it is time for my annual Blizzard of Books Challenge!  If you live in a place where you get snow up to your knees and temperatures that would scare a polar bear, you know how often your kiddos get outside to let off some steam in the winter.  They get all holed up inside playing the Wii or watching TV when we are praying and wishing that they would {just this once} read a book.  My Blizzard of Books has helped spark the love of reading in my students for the last 10 years!!!  Even if they only get fired up during the months of January and February, it is totally worth every minute!  And then, thankfully, comes March is Reading month to hold them over for one more month.  : )

Click on the picture below to find out more!

And for a little freebie for those of you who need a quick and easy math center for Chinese New on the picture below to grab it up!


Happy New Year!!!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cupcakes and Chinese New Year! {& My Top 3}

So cupcakes and Chinese New Year have nothing in common except for the fact that I have just added a Cupcake Contractions Activity and a Chinese New Year Activity Pack on TPT.  : )  Click on the pictures below to check them out!  : )

I'm pretty darn excited about my Chinese New Year Activity Pack because there is nothing similar on TPT.  I think it is due to the fact that there is NO clip art available for this theme.  I found a sweet girl from "across the pond" in England to make me some custom Chinese clip art so I could put this pack together.  : )  Gotta love Etsy!!!

Fern Smith is having a linky party for us to list our top 3 blog posts of 2011.  Here are my 3...

1.  My Common Core Standards Posters post...sadly I think this is the top post because it includes a little bit of blogging DRAMA.  People just love to read drama...right?

I'm currently sold out of these in my Etsy store, but if you are interested leave a comment in the comments with your email and what you are interested in.

 2.  My Secret Santa post...too late for you to benefit from this post this year, but you could tuck it away for next year!

3.  My Easy Folder Holders post...these have popped up all over Pinterest since my post.  Have you made them yet?  : )

Can't wait to see what 2012 brings!!!  Happy New Year!!!

Monday, December 26, 2011


Jen, I will be emailing you your prize pack!!!   Thanks to all of the donors and bloggers who played along!!!  I am so glad to have made so many new "blogging friends!" 

Friday, December 23, 2011

While You Are At The Store...

Today, the kids and I made cookies for Santa and our 90 year old neighbor, but we were missing one important detail...the SPRINKLES!  So...since I knew my hubby was already at the store, I called him and said, "While you are at the store, please pick up some Christmas sprinkles for the cookies."  I had to give him a little direction as to where in the world a store might keep sprinkles, but he agreed to the task.  (My husband is the type that doesn't venture into the grocery side of a store very often.)

So....30 minutes later, he arrives with THESE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The last time I checked, it wasn't Easter or the Fourth of July!!!!  My 5 year old even said, "Those don't look like Christmas sprinkles!"  I thanked the hubby for trying and we ended up with cookies that look like this:

Notice the "candy canes"... I managed to make them with the only sprinkles I did have on hand in the cupboard.
Pretty sad...but I know Santa won't mind and Mr. Morris, our neighbor really won't mind.  : )

If you have any Christmas craftiness left in your bones, you might want to give these guys a try!  Super easy and they don't require sprinkles!

Put the stick into a large marshmallow, dip in chocolate and lay them down on your already broken pretzel antlers.  Quickly add a red M&M for the nose and miniature white chocolate chips for the eyes.  Leave them laying on the wax paper until they are completely dry.  They are darling wrapped in a clear treat bag with a little curling ribbon.  I made these for friends at work, and they seemed to be a hit!

If you haven't entered my BIG giveaway yet, you have until midnight on Christmas Eve to do so.  You can click {HERE} to go straight there! 

I am sooooo looking forward to candle light service on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with my 5 and 3 year old babies!!!!  Have a wonderful Christmas!!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Let's Get This Party {Giveaway} Started

I am knee deep in emails, pdfs, links and units (and Christmas shopping), but I wanted to get this party started!  I recently hit 600 followers and couldn't be happier!  I have learned so much in my blogging journey and have become a better teacher by being an extreme blogstalker.  I have "met" some amazing teachers along the way and I am so excited to bring you this HUGE giveaway!

Eighteen (18) TPT sellers have donated a favorite item from their stores!  To enter, you will need to follow the blogs and TPT stores and leave a comment for each store/blog that you follow.  The giveaway will end at midnight EST on Christmas Eve (December 24th).  One lucky winner will be randomly chosen and their winnings will be sent via email shortly after Christmas Day.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE leave your email in your comments so I can easily send you your huge pack of units/games if you win!  Remember to leave a comment when you follow a blog or store (one comment for each).

Here we go....

1.  ME!!!  Follow my blog (to your right) and follow my TPT store (link to your right as well).

2.  Andrea from Stepping Into First Grade and her TPT store

3.  Deanna from Mrs. Jump's Class and her TPT store

4.  Jenaya from Lesson Plan Diva and her TPT store

5.  Rachelle from What the Teacher Wants and her TPT store

6.  Linda from Primary Inspiration and her TPT store

7.  Shelley from Teaching in the Early Years and her TPT store

8.  Karla from Life in Special Education and her TPT store

9.  Lisa's TPT store (no teaching blog)

10.  Heather from Hojo's Teacher Store and her TPT store

11.  Anna from Crazy For First Grade and her TPT store

12.  Donna from Peace Love Learning and her TPT store

13.  Amanda from A Special Kind of Class and her TPT store

14.  Michelle from Creative Classroom 123 and her TPT store

15.  Hilary from Rockin Teacher Materials and her TPT store

16.  Carolyn from The Wise Owl Factory and her TPT store

17.  Mel from Seusstastic and her TPT store

18.  Jodi from Fun-In-First and her TPT store

WHEW!!!!  Did you get all of them?  Isn't this amazing!!!  I am so excited to use this weekend to pick a winner!!!!  Thanks for playing along!!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Christmas Tree Snack and More!

Are you looking for a fun, but healthy snack for your holiday parties?  Try this one!!!  You will need a Styrofoam cone, red and green grapes, a star fruit and toothpicks.

It is fun to put it on a plate with some shredded coconut for the "snow."  What fun food do you have at your celebrations?

Remember this post when I posted our parent gift idea?  Well, here are a few from my kiddos.  I thought they turned out pretty darn cute!  My room smelled like a paint factory after school today...but it will be so worth it when they are good and dry on Monday morning.

And one more was like Christmas today in my room when a mom showed up with this:

A whole bunch of goodies for our classroom!!!!  I have a little "donation" display out on our lockers, and she fulfilled a ton of my classroom supply wishes!!!  I was soooooo excited!  If you are interested in my Sweet Donations pack, click HERE

5 more wake-up days and then a well needed 17 days off!!!  Can't wait!!!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12 Dogs of Christmas

If you have not heard of this Christmas book, you need to head on over to Amazon and get yourself a copy!!  It includes a CD of the song that is so fun to listen to!  This has been a favorite of mine (I have a habit of saying that every picture book in my library is a favorite of mine) since I did my student teaching back in 2001.  My cooperating teacher bought a copy for me and now every year right before the holidays, I play it for my kids.  They beg me to play it over and over again.  It kind of reminds me of the excitement they had when I first played Pete the Cat for them!!!  I tried to find a sample of the song on the Internet, but had no luck.  You will just have to buy it and hear it for yourself!!!

What is your favorite holiday book?  I think A Wish To Be a Christmas Tree comes in a close second for me!!  Polar Express used to be on the top of my list until the movie came out and ruined the magic that the book had on its own. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Parent Volunteer Gifts

Every year around the holidays, I like to give my parent volunteers a little gift to thank them for coming and helping in our classroom.  I have been known to send my poor husband into Home Depot on Black Friday (when in fact, he secretly loves to be sent there) to grab the beautiful poinsettias that are just 99 cents!!!  He says he has nightmares for days after of little old ladies shoving him out of the way to get their hands on the little red plants.

This year I have NINE awesome moms that come in once a week or once every other week to help with our intervention block time.  Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I have a parent in my room helping with sight word games or math intervention tubs.  I wish I could take them all to Hawaii...they deserve so much more than those 99 cent poinsettias, so I made them these:

You need a clear acrylic frame, scrapbook paper, cooridnating ribbon, ink pens and sticky notes to make these adorable sticky note holders.  A few glue dots or a hot glue gun wouldn't hurt to have on hand as well.  Trim your scrapbook paper to fit inside the frame.  Add embellishments inside or outside of the frame, which ever you choose.  Attach the sticky note pad with glue dots or a dab of hot glue so they stay on.  I also found a four pack of matching pastel ink pens at the dollar store that work perfectly!!!  Wrap in a clear treat bag and tie with some ribbon and you have got yourself a pretty awesome gift!!!  I am also making them for my kids' preschool teachers with a little bible verse "fancied up with embellishments" inside the frame. 

My coworkers tease me because this is type of a project is so NOT me at all.  Me + scrapbook paper are usually not said in the same sentence.  ; )  

What do you do for your parent volunteers?

In case you missed my post last {HERE} to see what my students make for their own parents for the holidays!

Saturday, December 3, 2011


I have watched tutorials, read blog design tips, looked at DIY blog articles and messed with HTML codes until I couldn't see straight.  I finally got rid of the pastel blue background, birds and butterflies, found a background to match my header, and installed it.  I think I lost a few strands of hair in the process...

And I have decided that HTML stands for this:

How in the HELL-O do
Make it
Look so easy?


How many
Thousands of
Monkeys did it take to make up this

I am not in love with what I ended up with, so I might play with it a little more later.  : )

I'm making my parent gifts this weekend and will post directions and pictures, soon!

Bound and Determined

I am bound and determined to do a little DIY blog makeover!!!  Please pardon the construction mess as I play with things...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Singing Penguins and Struggling Readers

What do singing penguins and struggling readers have in common you ask?  Keep reading...

Once every few months, my son is in charge of a snack for his preschool class.  Being a first grade teacher and wanting to make everything cute, I usually make a "creation" out of food for his snack.  I have made skeletons out of veggies, turkeys out of melons, cheese and grapes, Christmas trees out of Styrofoam cones and grapes, rainbows and pots of gold out of fruit and marshmallows, etc.  His teachers always tease me and tell me that it is ok to send in plain pretzels or goldfish crackers.  My friend's son also goes to the same preschool and she just rolls her eyes and wonders where in the world I find my time.  The time I brought in little penguins made out of olives and cream cheese, she said "let me guess, these penguins sing, twirl around and explode firecrackers from their beaks."  I just about died laughing!!! 

I forgot to take a picture, but I also had a cheese ball in the shape of an igloo for these little guys!

Hang on...I'm getting to the part where these penguins have something to do with struggling readers. : )

Almost every blog post I write, I feel like I have to come up with this "exploding with fireworks" post that is about glitter, cupcakes, and butterflies so people will read it.  Who wants to read the boring stuff (like the pretzels and goldfish) about struggling readers?  So if you are all about the fluff, stop reading now.  If you would like to hear more about the amazing day and information I learned about this past week, keep on reading!!!

I was blessed to have spent the day with our District Literacy Coach (if you have been with me for a while, you have heard of the Amazing Kate!).  We met to talk about what we can do about those readers who are stuck between DRA levels 3 and 4 (C and D).  WOW, did we get some awesome professional development!!!  We are now armed with some great mini lesson topics and conferring points for kids who are stuck at those lower levels.  Here they are (underlined headings are the big ideas and bullets are the teaching points):

How to Teach "Picture Walks"
• Readers use pictures to tell about the setting.

• Readers use pictures to tell what the character is thinking.

• Readers name the things in the pictures during their picture walk and make it sound like a story.
 How to Teach "One to One (1:1)"

• Readers touch under, not on the word.

• Readers touch under each word to keep their place.

• Readers use phonics to check for 1:1 using letter sounds.

• Readers know that spaces separate words.

• Readers know that words with more syllables need to hold their finger under the word longer/slide finger under the word until the word ends. (ex. The word umbrella would be held longer than pointing to the word is.)
 How to Teach "Look Through the Whole Word"

• The size of the word needs to match the word coming out of the reader’s mouth. (Ex. Umbrella is much longer than the word under.)

• Ending sounds must match the word readers try while reading.

• Middle sounds must match the word readers try while reading.
 Look at the Picture

• Readers name the things in the picture and check with the first letter in the unknown word to see if it makes sense.

• Readers recognize that pictures can have more than one name. (ex. Couch, chair, sofa)

• Readers cross check pictures with letter sounds.

If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed my singing penguin story as well as the not-as-exciting topic of struggling readers.  : )  I wish you all could meet Kate and enjoy her as much as my coworkers and I do.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Parent Gifts for the Holidays

This is an easy and fairly cheap project to do with your students to give as a gift for their parents.  We ask our local big box hardware store to donate the supplies and they are usually very willing to donate everything we need!

To make the decorative tiles, you will need the following:

6x6 white bathroom wall tile for each child
an assortment of fine and extra fine Sharpie markers
piece of fine sandpaper
clear lacquer spray paint

Lightly (very lightly) sand the tile (this is so the marker will "stick") and wipe it clean with a dry paper towel.  Give each child a piece of paper with a 6x6 square traced on it to use as a practice before they attempt the real thing...there is no turning back once a first grader is armed with a Sharpie!!!!

This is my attempt at making a practice sheet for the example.  Don't laugh at my artistic abilities!

Next, read the kids the riot act about not dropping the tile because the nice folks (over at the store that rhymes with Gnome Sheep-o) only gave us enough for each child to have ONE!  Have the nice little talk about how moms and dads won't be too thrilled if permanent marker gets on their clothes and how the markers are NOT smelly markers and that they should not put them anywhere near their nose.

When the kids are finished, I have them CAREFULLY place the tiles on a large sheet of butcher/bulletin board paper on the floor.  When they all go home for the night, I lightly coat them with the clear sealer.  (Make sure your windows are open and you warn the custodian not to be alarmed when he smells a strong odor coming from your room.)  You may want to clear your senses before you attempt to drive yourself home.  That sealer is wicked strong!!!

It is totally optional, but you can put tiny sticky felt pieces on the four corners on the bottom of the tile so it doesn't scratch tables and things.  Parents LOVE this gift and cherish it for years to come...except for the one single dad that emailed me 3 days after receiving it with a warning to tell other parents not to put it in the dishwasher.  It completely erased the whole entire image that his child put on the tile!!!  I didn't have the heart to tell him it was for decorative purposes only.  LOL

I found some red and green bubble wrap this year that I will wrap the tiles in once they are completely dry.  The kids decorate a white paper lunch bag to use as a gift bag, too!

What do you have your students make for their parents????

I will be back soon with my parent volunteer gift idea that is easy peasy and el-cheapo!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Amazing Sale!

Starting Sunday, November 27th, I will be holding a 20% off sale in my TPT store through Tuesday, November 29th!  If you shop on Monday, enter the code CMS28 to get another 10% off your total purchase!

Some of my more popular items include Mo Willems' extenstion activities for his Pigeon and Elephant and Piggie books, Santa Countdown Craftivity, Conferring Shortcuts, Reading Workshop Printable Sticky Notes, Sight Word packs and Nonsense Word games.

Click {HERE} to go directly to my store!  Happy Shopping!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Secret Santa

Does your staff need a little boost in the culture department?  Do you forget the true meaning of the holidays in the hustle and bustle of things at your school?  You need to participate in a Secret Santa Gift Giving activity!!!  We do this every year in our building and it is so much fun!  Each day you act as Santa to your recipient and give him/her a small $1-$2 gift for four days.  You have to get creative on how you deliver the small gifts so he/she doesn't figure out who you are!  On the final day (usually the day before break) we gather in the media center for a wonderful holiday breakfast before school starts and reveal ourselves to the person we have been showering with gifts all week!  We also give a bigger gift at this time, usually around $10.  Of course, not everyone participates, but it is still a blast!

I have cleaned up (and "fancied") the form that we use and have it as a FREE download for you if you would like to start this awesome tradition with your staff!  Click on the picture below to get your copy!