Saturday, March 31, 2012

Teacher's Notebook, Grand Opening Sale, & Weekend Plans

If you've been reading (since the begining), you know that TpT was the website that I stumbled upon, joined, then in turn, inspired me to set up my blog.  I have had such a great time with TpT!  I love the community, I love posting products to share with other teachers, and I LOVE purchasing other products created by other teachers! 

(As a quick side note- one reason why I mainly love TpT is exactly what they say in their "tag line"...products FOR teachers, BY teachers.  Growing up, my mom and dad cooked a lot, and they often times came across recipes that either consisted of crazy ingredients or were just totally unrealistic (10 cups of flour?!?! what?!?!).  They always said, "I bet this book/recipe was made by someone who had never cooked a day in their life before!"  I TOTALLY think that applies to many teaching items that I come across, too!  Some worksheets or "activities" just make me stop, take a step back, and say REALLY?!  I bet many of the hot-shot companies have creators, designers, and marketers that were never even in the education field!  And so THAT'S why I LOVE TpT, because all the products are created by US, and we know what works and what does, what can be expected or pushed, and what's asking too much!)

So anyways, here I come down off my soap box, and back to the main post!  After reading others' blogs, I noticed that Teacher's Notebook seems to be another new site where teachers can go to buy, sell, and trade their things.  So me being me, I HAD to go check it out.  And yes, of course, I was drawn in and signed up for an account!

Do any of you all do Teacher's Notebook??  It is pretty different from TpT, and I will admit (although I don't LIKE to admit this...) that I struggled a bit listing my first item.  But, now that I've got the hang of it, I'm going to spend this weekend building my Teacher's Notebook store!  And while I do it, I'm throwing a GRAND OPENING SALE!  Everything will be 25% off!  It's kind of a reward for putting up with me while I slowly add everything on there! 

Other plans for the weekend include more of that lovely yard work....yes, front flower beds, I'm still coming for ya!  (slowly but surely!)  I've also got a list about ten feet long of things I want to put together to show you all and/or list on TpT and Teacher's Notebook.  First up, compiling all my Robert Munsch things!  I'm sure you're probably tired of hearing about it, but once I finish, I promise there will be more FREEBIES and GIVEAWAYS! 

So what are your weekend plans?  School stuff?  Personal Stuff?  Chores?  I know whatever it is, at least for me, chances of getting it all done are slim to none! :)  These weekends always just FLY by!  So make the most of it, and HAPPY SATURDAY!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Ugh! Should it REALLY Take This LONG?!?!

I'd like to preface this rant with a reminder, (to myself and to others) by saying that I REALLY do love my students.  AND I really AM so appreciative of the website 

I recently created a "project" in hopes of getting my class some better inside recess activities.  Right now, it's a little pathetic...we're playing with a few sad things:
  • incomplete puzzles (they started out with all the pieces, but I SWEAR my students must eat them, because where else would they go?!?)
  • incomplete checkers (ditto as can we REALLY loose plastic red and black shiny plastic'd figure they'd stand out on the carpet...someone MUST be eating them...or stashing them....)
  • Chutes and Ladders (this one isn't sad, but sadLY, my students don't really enjoy it.  Go figure.)
  • paper, glue, tape, crayons, markers, colored pencils (draw, create, color, etc.)
So, I went through all the steps to verify that I'm an actual teacher (even though somedays I feel more like a babysitter, and some days like a drill sargeant...).  Then, I went throught all the steps to create my project (creative name, blurb about your class, essay about your project, "shopping" for supplies, verifying your email again, etc.). 

BUT, there was one last step...the dreaded "class picture".  I don't know if any of you have done before, but there is a LONG list of "DO NOTS" when posting can I obey all the rules and still make it cute?!?

So here I am with all my creativity and eagerness, thinking to myself, "How charming would it be (since we can't show faces), if we did some sort of saying in front of our faces, but still took a group picture?!?!"  I mulled and mulled and finally came up with a saying with the correct number of letters so each student could get one.  I typed them up in bubble font, printed them out, and let the kiddos color their own.  Then, we cut them out, and glued them on RED paper (I thought this may make us stand out...). 

AND FINALLY, CAME TIME FOR THE ACTUAL PICTURE...(I put it in all caps, because I want to add the sound effects "dun dun duuun", but you can't do that through a blog).  So this, if you're wondering, is where my post title came from.  Ugh.  Yes, it really DID take that long.  I swear, no joke, it took us 10 different tries to get our picture right.  Not to mention the direction giving in between each "shot".  Not to mention that it was near the end of the day and no one was listening.  Not to mention that my classroom is a sauna, and heats up even more when I get flustered (yes, I know it's really just me, but I like to blame the a/c). 

Anyways, I thought I FINALLY got the perfect one, and I went to post it on the website.  See how cute?!
In case you can't see, it says "Hip "Hippo" Ray, We *heart* Our Donors!"
BUT UUUUUUGGGGHHHHH again!!!!  The website automatically crops it in a square, and since my picture was more horizontal, it cropped half my students out!  ARG.  Do you see my frustrations?!?! 

So another BILLION photos, with another BILLION problems....and in the end, we finally got the perfect picture.
A teensie blurry, but I'm not complaining!!! :)
You'd figure by 2nd grade, we could listen to directions and know how to "squeeze" for pictures.  You'd figure we'd know how to "kneel" or "squat just a little", but I guess I was wrong.  So future note to self (and others who are reading), when taking important pictures, ALWAYS allow for more time (probably 4 times as much!) than you originally planned. 

This leaves me wondering, though, how do the professional class picture people do it so quickly and effortlessly.....ugh (one last long sigh...)....okay, now I'm done with frustrations and moving on!

At the end of the day, though, our "project" is LIVE and ready for donations!!! (Woo-Hoo!!!)  So if you feel like giving, or know someone who would, by all means, head on over to:

I'll keep you posted and let you know if all the stress is worth the outcome!  Crossing my fingers for lots of donation success! :)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Robert Munsch-a-Palooza!

So, as I promised, here is some more of the wonderful Robert Munsch study that my kiddos have been so enamored with this week!  If you've never used him for an author study, I HIGHLY recommend it!  The students LOVE him and can easily relate and describe him...see?
Yes, I love my Anchor Charts!!!

So, here are our "Studying Robert Munsch" folders we created back on Monday to keep all of our Author Study goodies in one place!  They're REALLY fancy...let me warn you...I spent a lot of time and money on them....(not really, though, at all)...Yes, they're just a sheet of paper, folded in half and written on. :)  Simple, yet effective!

Inside the folder, we have our Robert Munsch Online Author Study from Monday, a few story element 4 squares from Tuesday and Wednesday, a morning message "reflection" page, and then our Venn Diagram from today!

This week has led us to describe similarities and differences of several works by the same author.   While I think reading Robert Munsch books is great, and I think filling out a "4 square" of Robert Munsch's Story Elements serves a wonderful purpose, Comparing and Contrasting Robert Munsch's stories is, by far, my favorite part of this unit.  It definitely allows students to THINK!  (If you or your district is big on Bloom's, this lets students move past "understanding" the story elements and moves WAY up to "analyzing" by distinguishing between similarities and differences!) 

We start by creating a class list of similarities and differences in the 2 Robert Munsch books we read on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Today it took a little while to "warm up" the ideas, but once they started, they were flowing!  (I normally find that kids find more similarities, but today, differences seemed to be easier.  Go figure.)  This "fancy" list is just a plain, straight forward T-Chart.  We write together, me in my Reading Notebook, and the students in theirs.  They come up with the ideas, and we record together.

Finally, on to Independent Practice.  Students can use their fancy schmancy T-Charts to guide them as they fill out their own Venn Diagram on their own.  Here's an example!

Tomorrow, we will be reflecting about our Robert Munsch Author Study.  I have a little worksheet for my students to complete, with lots of open ended questions.  AND, here's my favorite part...A STUDENT IDEA!  IF we have time, we're going to write mini-biographies about Robert Munsch!  (*gasp*) How exciting that they have so much interest and motivation to actually want to CREATE their own assignments and add EXTRA work!  Woo-Hoo!  My students never cease to amaze me!

So that's it for today, I'm off to spend a little time putting together my whole Robert Munsch Pack for TpT.  If I happen to get it all together by this weekend, I'll be sure to give you guys a free preview (and most likely giveaway one or two free packs!) so keep checking in!!! (AND if you have any suggestions or thoughts to add, by all means, let me know!  If you add a useful, new suggestion to add to my pack, I will send you a free copy of the WHOLE pack once I have it finished!!!)

Happy Thursday!  The weekend's almost here!!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Studying Robert Munsch!

Hi Friends!  It's hard to believe this is already Wednesday!  I feel like this week has flown by.  I'm sure you all have been just as busy as I have.  After all, it is getting to be that time of our Staff Meeting today, we discussed end of year textbook counts, our end of year "Teacher Self Report", and our end of year "Summatives" with our administrators. CRAZY.  This year has gone by like "that!" (Can you hear me snap?!) :)   Our lounge has a "countdown" banner-ish thing (like that technical term, there?) and there are 44 days left...FORTY FOUR!  NUTS-O! 

And it's going to go even quicker when I think that 20 of those days are going to be spent doing "Author Study" units!  We just began this week, but it is a 4-5 week long block in our curriculum, so by the time it's over, there will be just a little over 20 days left in school...(ok on to a new topic because I'm about to start panicing here...)

So let me tell you a little bit about our Author Study this week so far!  We began with Robert Munsch.  He's a great children's author, and it's an easy transition from Author's Purpose to Robert Munsch, because he clearly writes (most times) to entertain!  And did I mention that pretty much ALL kids love his writing?!
Monday, we began our unit by learning more about Robert Munsch.  After a short introduction, we went down to our library, partnered up, and completed our "Robert Munsch Online Author Study" sheet.  My students always have so much fun with this!  They love reading about ACTUAL authors, and it always cracks me up when they ask (because they ALWAYS ask) "So is Robert Munsch STILL alive?"  Yes, he was born in 1945, which probably does sound ancient to 2nd graders...

Here are a few pics of my sweet kiddos sharing computers.  After they researched all the information to fill in the sheet, they can actually listen to some Robert Munsch stories and poems from his site.  They have so much fun! 

Yesterday and today we read 2 different Robert Munsch stories, created a Robert Munsch folder, and completed some "Story Elements" sheets about his books (characters, setting, problem, solution, favorite part, etc.).  Our class has created a few anchor charts about Robert Munsch, which have lead us to discuss "who" Robert Munsch is.  This may sound silly, but sometimes it's hard for my students to realize that authors are REAL people!  Seeing his website, reading about him, and reading his "blurb"s on the backs of his books really help with that, though!  This also helps to see where he gets his ideas for writing from, as well as his purpose for writing.

I'll post some more pictures tomorrow.  I lost track of time this afternoon, and forgot to snap some quick photos of our anchor charts and Robert Munsch "folders".  They're cute, though! 

OH!  And lastly, leave me a comment if you want a FREE copy of this Robert Munsch Online Author Study.  For the time being, I will be more than happy to share!  I am (hopefully soon) going to compile all of this unit into one, big, cute file to post on TpT.  But, like I said, for now, it's yours for FREE if you just let me know where to send it! :)

Thanks for all the interest!  You can now visit my completed pack on TpT or TN! :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday, Monday, Monday

Man, I have a serious case of the "Mondays"...Crazy day at school, killer itchy and swollen ant bits from this weekend, meeting an over-priced lawn company for a name it, it's all piled into this one day!  AND my day's not even over yet!  I still have "outside of school" tutoring.  I put it in quotes, and I call it this because I had school tutoring for the kiddos in my classroom this afternoon after school...and now I have tutoring with another child for private tutoring tonight!  Busy busy busy...

Oh, and did I mention that my Monday began with a student throwing up, maybe 10 minutes into the day?  Yes, now you can REALLY see the "Mondays"....

BUT, onto the HAPPYs!  Mrs. Cook over at First Grade Smart Cookies is celebrating her 50 followers by having a giveaway!  Click on over to take a look at the cute little bag stuffed with goodies!  I can't wait to reach 50 followers, and have a giveaway of my own!!!  Here's a sneak peak of hers:

Lastly, I still have a few "spots" open to EARN A FREEBIE from my last post!!! Scroll down to read about my new Wonderful Word Work pack, and leave me a comment to earn your freebie!

Happy Monday!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Great Designer and New Word Work

Hey Guys!
Two nights ago, I stumbled upon this amazing designer/creator, Jaimee, through Jaimee creates SUPER cute doodles, clip art, digital scrapbooking supplies, and more!  AND, through today, she's running this fantastic special-- a "Mini-Access Pack".  For $20 you get to choose 15 of her products (most of which can be used for Commercial Use!).  It's an incredible deal, since I'm sure we all know that purchasing "cutesies" out of our own pockets can add up quickly! (To purchase this deal, you must visit Jaimee does have her own website,, too, where she has a blog and lots of freebies!) 

I took part in this deal, and actually used some of my new goodies to help put together my new "Wonderful Word Work Pack".  I figured it was time I took a few of my scattered ideas from my classroom and put them all together nicely.  So, I used some charming new products from Jaimee, and I made adorable cards for my chants and cheers (they used to be on laminated, plain notecards!), student activity cards (used to be in a plain binder), and I jazzed up a few worksheets, too!  Take a look:

I can't wait to get them copied (and/or laminated) and in use on Monday! 

I also can't wait to share the love!  So, here's my FREEBIE for the first 5 followers who leave a comment:  Share one awesome Word Work/Spelling activity or trick you use in your own classroom.  I know we'd all love to hear!!!  In return, I will send you one page from my new "Wonderful Word Work Pack"!  On your comment, be sure to let me know if you would like a page of chants/cheers, a page of student activity cards, or one worksheet!  (and don't forget to leave your email, too, so I know where to send it! :) )

Can't wait to hear about your spelling fun!!!

The End of Author's Purpose

Well if you've been reading, you know we've been working on Author's Purpose in my classroom this week.  I don't know what it was about this year, or who sprinkled the magic fairy dust, but my class just GOT it!  They absolutely ROCKED this unit-- they understood each purpose, they had great discussion, they gave great examples, and they asked great questions!  What more could a teacher ask for?!?!

So, to wrap it all up, I thought I'd share how the rest of the week went, with a few pictures, too!

(To quickly recap, Monday we learned "to inform", Tuesday we learned "to explain", and Wednesday we learned "to entertain".  The materials and posters below are from my Investigating Intent Pack on TpT!)

Thursday, we explored the world of persuasion!  My little investigators learned all about text written "to persuade"!  They came up with LOTS of great examples-- ads for toys, pictures and mailings from Sea World, posters to tell you to eat healthy.....AND they even mentioned the flyers in their "Tuesday Folders" (these are the folders that go home once a week with flyers for after school or weekend activities, order form for yearbooks, shirts, etc., as well as their graded papers from the week).  Didn't they do great with all the connections?!  At the end of this discussion, I read a Joy Berry Help Me Be Good book about disobeying.  The kiddos sat and listened to what Joy Berry was convincing us to do, and how (and why!) she was persuading us to do it!  Afterwards, they filled out a little notecard (then glued it on our poster) like this:
Some of them are quite funny, and others are VERY accurate!!!

On Friday, we discussed text written "to describe".  These are books or poems or basically anything that is well described and has a lot of sensory details!  Again, my class was awesome at making the connection that really anything could be written to describe, as long as the author included enough details.  So, to piggy-back off their thoughts, we "brainstormed" at our tables things that could be described in text.  Look how great they did:

Throughout the week, we also cut out our "Investigating Lenses" to use as a little mini-formative assessment....they cut them out as we learned each one, then paperclipped them in their Reading Notebooks.  Then, we'd spend about 3 minutes holding up different books or giving different examples, and the class would have to hold up the "lens" with the correct intent!  Super fun, super easy, AND a super reliable way to quickly see comprehension!

Let me just tell you, the lenses as eyeballs definitely did not start out as my idea....
So that, my friends, was my remarkable week!  Thinking back, I don't think I had this much fun with this unit last year...BUT I may have even more fun with it next year!  Who knows!  If you have any questions about my unit, or want to add any tips or tricks for everyone, please feel free to leave a comment!  I'd love to hear from you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Extra Paper Organization

Silly silly me.  Isn't it funny how the best ideas are always the simplest?  And these are also the ones when you kick yourself, saying, "Why didn't I think of that?!"

Well that's how I felt recently!  For almost 2 years now, I've been storing my worksheets, handouts, activities, etc. (basically any and all copies), in my hanging file folder rack behind my desk (and, unfortunantley, I must admit, in a few piles, too).  The year ALWAYS starts out SUPER organized, by subject, then by when I'm going to need it (since I like to have copies made in advance).  Over the year, though, it ends up looking like this:

I stuff papers in the files, and shove papers around them!  Extra copies that didn't get used generally get put right back in it, too, so if ever a student needs an extra (after making a mistake) or if ever I need an extra (for "redo"s), I'm left digging through this huge mess, which sometimes can be time consuming and frustrating! 

Well, long story short, I needed an extra copy of a sheet, and I could not find one anywhere!  I also could not find it saved on my computer, either!  So, I called across the hall to my lovely (and organized!) teammate to see if she had one, and she said, "Oh yea, I'll get a kid to grab one out of the "extra paper" bin and bring it to you!" 

Simple as that!  I quickly got a copy and was back in business.  Later that afternoon, I of course stopped by across the hall, to see what all this "extra paper bin" business was about!  (Even though I'm in her room nearly twice a day!!!)  But let me just tell you, it's the best idea EVER!  It's low to the ground, easily accessible to kiddos, and as long as things are stack on top each time, it's kind of in order!

So of course, instead of a sentence strip or desk plate, I had to make a cutesy label for my own!  Click on it below if you want to print yourself a free copy! 

Well needless to say, I totally felt silly for struggling with my "system" all the millions of times I needed an extra paper!  I would like to think, in general, that I'm pretty well organized, but I've learned so many tricks from teammates and from blogs that have come in handy! 

I'd love for you to leave me a comment about any other little organizational "tricks" you use!  I'm sure everyone else would like to read them, too! 

Tinkerin' to get organized (for today, at least!!)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Sale, A Giveaway, An Update, & Some Homework!

Whew!  What a long title!  I promise the post length won't mirror the title length, though!  I'll try to be quick and to the point, while I address these 4 topics!

#1- A Sale
YOU helped earn a 10% sale at my TpT store.  It is only a 1 day sale, though, so head on over to scoop up all your goodies at 10% off before midnight tonight!  And thank to all my new followers!  I'm so glad you're here!

#2- A Giveaway (maybe...)
We're going to try this again!  Be the first follower to mention my one-day sale in your blog, send me a comment with the link, and I will GIVE you any product from my TpT store.  Yes, ANY product!  (I tried this a few days ago, and no one took me up on it....let's see if I have any takers today!)

#3- An Update
Our Author's Purpose unit has been going so great this week!  My kiddos are having a blast working together to "investigate" the intents!  I even had a little boy ask if he could bring his long, black spy coat to school tomorrow! (SO cute!)

Here are some pictures of our progress so far:
"To Explain" from yesterday. 
Around the edges are student created "posters" of one book and what it explained!
And then today, we started "To Entertain"!  My colored "poster" went in the middle of the chart paper, and then around the edges, students investigated and searched for their own entertaining books!  On a notecard, they wrote the title, author, and one sentence why it was entertaining:

You can find the Author's Purpose: Investigating Intents Pack on my TpT store!

#4- Some Homework
Our Geometry Unit somehow fell with Spring Break right smack dab in the middle of it, so while we began before Spring Break (with 2D shapes), we were supposed to end after Spring Break (with 3D shapes, and our assessment over both 2D & 3D on Friday!)  So, before Spring Break, I sent a small "Shape Book" (through email actually) to each student and his/her family.  It was assigned as OPTIONAL homework.  (I stress the optional because our district and school have a no-homework over break policy!)  However, I do have both parents and students who ask for activities to work on over breaks, so I make them optional, and always add a little incentive if it is brought back, especially since it will keep the Geometry fresh on their brains over break.  I also don't give a firm "due date". 

So, I've had them trickle in over the past few days, and they have turned out GREAT! (A lot more effort put in than last year!)  Here are some examples if you'd like a peek:

You can also find this book templates on my TpT store-- AND for the rest of today, it's only $0.64!  What a steal! :)

As a discussion ponder, do you send any Geometry activities/homework home?  Besides identifying shapes, counting and comparing edges, vertices, faces, etc., what else do you have your kiddos work on with Mom and Dad?  I'm excited to hear your ideas!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Lovely Blog Award on Top of My "You Decide My Sale" Promo!!!

YAY!  I'm already so excited about the increased "traffic" and new followers, but NOW, here's the icing on the cake: 

An award!  And only after 2 weeks!

Thank you to Ashley over at First Grade Smart Cookies for passing on the One Lovely Blog Award to me!  This really made my day, and it gives me so much inspiration to keep at this new blogging/TpT endeavor! (Believe me, if I could make a background of fireworks and hurrahs, I most certainly would!!!)

And now,
The rules for this award are to:
1. Link back to the blogger who gave you the award.
2. Pass the award on to 15 other lovely bloggers.
3. Follow the person who sent it to you.

So, #1 & #3, check and check! 

For #2, I really put some thought and time into it for numerous reasons!  First of all, many of the blogs I follow are AMAZING OUT OF THIS WORLD WONDERFUL, and have already been awarded every award under the sun (and deserve it 100 times over!)  Also, just like me, I know there are many many new bloggers out there that have great ideas, contributions, and blogs—and they definitely deserves some credit, just as you guys have given me!  So here are my 15 nominated fabulous bloggers (some new, some not) I would like to pass the Lovely Blog Award on to:

Be sure to visit these fun and informative blogs above! 

AND remember, the “You Decide My Sale” promotion is still going on….as of now, there’s only 2 new followers (and no one’s taken me up on my giveaway from below!)….come on guys, I KNOW you can do better than that!!!  5 more hours left!!!  Who wants a BIG sale, and more importantly, who's going to take me up on my GIVEAWAY offer?!?!

I'll be back at midnight (hopefully :) ) to see how the end results turn out!  Keep following!