Wednesday, May 8, 2019

When Mother's Day Sneaks Up On You... (a QUICK gift idea!)

Am I the only teacher who had Mother's Day TOTALLY sneak up on them????

If you're looking for a quick, easy, and oh so sweet project you can do with your students from start to finish TOMORROW... click the picture below to go to the blog post from a few years ago where I shared all about it!


There are still a few hours to save on the TpT Teacher Appreciation Sale too!  Use the code "gift4you" when you check out to save EXTRA money!

My new "Word Sort Bundle" is available on the cheap during the sale!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Short/Long A Word Sort *FREEBIE!*


Just a quickie today to say my HUGE Word Sort Bundle just got WAAAAY more organized and easy to use on TpT!

If you check it out and download the preview, you can get the short/long A sort for FREE!

All is on sale for 20% off until Tuesday too!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Relationships Matter!

Relationships matter.

We all know this.

"Kids don't learn from people they don't like!" is one of my favorite quotes from Rita Pierson.  Relationships matter!

And, even though we all know this, sometimes, in the heat of a stressful moment (or even just the stresses of the day-to-day!), frustration shows or we just can't hold that smile another second.  The relationship doesn't go away, but it gets strained or in need of repair.

I've been in education for a long time.  I've been the teacher for a lot of kids.  And I know relationships matter!

BUT- that was made so clear to me this week with one of my sweeties.

This is a little one with a personality very similar to mine.  We're both strong, independent, with a dash of sass and stubbornness.  It makes me happy for her, because I know she's going to grow up to be outspoken, confident, and able to make good decisions for herself.  But... sometimes, our personalities aren't in sync and we butt heads a little.

Earlier this week, we were sitting on the floor in our little math group.  Me, her, and a handful of other students.  The other students were working hard, pencils flying across their pages.  She was sitting there, book closed, singing.  And I was tired of asking her to follow expectations.  So, I just joined in with her song.

Her face lit up.  (Probably shocked her teacher knew the lyrics!  But, this teacher is hip.  And really in to music.)

She scooched a little closer to me and we just quietly smiled and sang that song while our other friends were working.   (Incidentally, it was a great song- "Talk" by Khalid.  What can I say?  The girl's got taste!)

The song ended.  The math round ended.  I gave the signal for all to pick up and transition to the next activity.  The day went on.

A little while later, she came to me and told me she was going to follow expectations for the rest of the day.  That, when we walked to the buses for dismissal, she wouldn't climb on "that black thing" (a bike rack) or walk in the grass like she usually does when I ask her to walk with our class on the sidewalk.  She said, "I'm going to listen to you for the rest of the day and I am going to follow all of the expectations."  I hugged her.  Told her that she should feel proud to for making such responsible choices.  I told her how I couldn't wait to see her following expectations tomorrow too.  And she said, "Yeah.  I think can do that!".

I'm already thinking about the next song I can sing with her so we can keep building that bond.

If you've never watched the Rita Pierson TED Talk, please watch it!  So powerful and so true.



Think of that kiddo with whom you may need a relationship boost.  How can you do it?  Something so small as noticing a new haircut, a sports rivalry (I had the BEST rivalry with some kiddos who are now in middle school!)... even joining in to sing a song because you just don't want to argue anymore.  Little things make a difference.  And little differences add up to big changes!

Never forget the power you have build that relationship.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

When Someone You Love Dies {Personal Post}

I usually like to keep things school related over here on the ol' blog.  But, this post is on my heart today- the 13th month since my dad has died.

My dad passed away last year in March, completely unexpectedly.  And, to say that the last year has been hard, is an understatement.  When someone dies, we naturally search for the "WHY"... knowing WHY this happens could at least help rationalize it.  And, when a death is unexpected, a WHY is even more important... especially when there absolutely isn't one.

I'm a reason seeker and a symbol holder.  I like to say I'm not superstitious or one who looks for "signs" everywhere, but I am and I do.

If you know me or my family personally, you know that the number 13 is kind of our "family number" and the number 413 is especially significant.

When my dad died last year, it was on March 13.  My dad liked to do things his own way.  He and I are very similar in that aspect.  I would never let him talk about him dying with me because, well, he was always going to be here- heck, he was only 61 years old.  Every time he would bring up any talk of this or want to talk to me about it, I would change the subject right away.  And my dad would always say, "When it's my time to go, it's my time to go."

So, him dying on the 13th, since it's our family's number... well, to me, it was his way of saying, "See?  I told you when it was my time, it was my time!"

Every month, on the 13, I think, "This is the __ month since my dad has gone," and I recently realized that on April 13, it will be the 13th month since he's been gone.

13 on 413.

You see, my dad's father was a prisoner of war during World War 2.  He escaped from the POW camp and was found and rescued by American soldiers on April 13.  So, this date (4/13) has always been significant in my family, started by my grandmother.  Her favorite Bible verse was Philippians 4:13, she wore jewelry with the number 13 on it, and took every sighting of 413 or 13 or any combination of those numbers ("Oh my!  Our dinner bill was $42.52 and 4 + 2 + 5 + 2 = 13!!!!!" <----- seriously, we all do it.) as a sign of love from God and her beloved husband.

So, this year, the fact that his 13th month gone falls on my grandmother's most celebrated day, 4/13, brings me more comfort that I can express.  There is no searching for a "why" when someone you love is gone.  There are no answers that can soothe the soul and no words that can explain away such a tragedy.  Nothing that stops the heart from aching or takes away that feeling of missing.  But for me, knowing my dad and how he always got the last word, the last laugh, and that stubborn smile... 13 months gone on 4/13 is just his style.  And it makes me feel a little better.

On this day, his memory burns a little brighter and the tears sting a little deeper.  But,  I think if he could have planned things like this, he may have.  He would have gotten a good smile out of it.



And, here's my tribute to him... he loved music.  He wrote it, sang it, played it... lived it.

So, last month on my spring break trip to Vegas, I got this for him.  The notes are D A D.


Here's to you, dad!  Love and miss you more than I can say!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Word Sort of the Week

Oh.  My.  Gosh.

WORD SORTS.

They have added such a layer of independence, hands-on learning, and review to my Daily Five rotations!

We start each week with a "Word Sort of the Week".  This is one tied to our ELA learning for the week.

Last week, we were studying ir, er, ur and so our "Word Sort of the Week" was for those sounds.


On Monday, I introduced the sort and we worked through it together.  It stays hanging in the chart for the week, and we review it daily.  Students can also take the cards out and sort them again when they finish their "must dos" for Daily Five.

At the end of the week, it comes down and becomes one of the sorts students can access when their "must dos" are complete.

I love seeing them spread out around room, saying, sorting, and analyzing their work!

You can check out my GROWING BUNDLE of word sorts and matches on TpT.  Right now, it has over 40 different sorts and matches.  If you download the preview, you can get a short/long A sort for free!


Thursday, March 21, 2019

ZONES of Regulation {freebie!}

How do you build emotional awareness in your students?  This is something I have struggled with since coming back into the classroom this year.  How do you teach someone to think about their emotions and then take steps to regulate them?  It isn't easy!

That's where ZONEs comes in.  We started doing ZONEs a few weeks ago in my classroom and it's making a difference every single day.

When students come in, they "check-in" to their ZONE each morning as part of their morning routine:


It takes them just a few seconds and gives me info that helps inform me on who needs a hug, who needs some space, and who is ready to learn.

During our morning meeting, a few kids share their zone, their feeling, and why.  This has sparked great conversation, helped build connections between kids, and is growing my students' empathy.

Earlier this week, I checked in on yellow.  My kiddos were so compassionate, asking if I needed a hug, how they could help, etc... later in the day, they asked for an update to my Zone and cheered when I moved myself to green.

I have heard them saying to each other things like, "Why are you in the yellow zone today," and "I need to go check in to the blue zone now".  Last week, one of my friends became very upset and started acting out.  Another student said to him, "It seems like your body is in the yellow zone now."  He immediately picked up a mess he had made and walked to our "Calm Down" spot to reset.

To see kiddos doing this on their own... it's pretty cool.


Here is our "Calm Down" spot.  Kids can go and sit on the pink rug, use the strategies posted on the wall to calm down, and then re-join the group when ready.  Just adding this spot to the room has been HUGE.  I have a friend who will leave the room when he is frustrated.  Since adding this spot, he has not left the room once.  He is totally utilizing this space and I am so grateful!


You can find this editable turtle set by "From the Pond" on TpT by clicking the picture!


Thinking about starting ZONEs?  I recommend checking out the book.  It comes with a CD with lots of printables.  Clicking the link takes to my affiliate page on Amazon, if you'd like to check it out.


I'm pretty particular about my fonts and graphics, so I re-made the main posters to my own liking.  I have my posters linked as a Google Doc that you can get for free by clicking the picture below, if you'd like!


Teaching kids about their emotions, how their emotions effect themselves, and others... it's the best way to develop emotional responsibility, empathy, and help keep things orderly in the classroom.  It's been a change to tell kiddos, "I can see your body is in the yellow zone right now," instead of just asking them to settle down.  Or, when a friend is moving slowly because they are tired, now we have a few skills we've practiced that can help them get their bodies back to the green zone so they are ready to learn.

I hope you will try it our... or share things that are working for you in the comments!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Abraham Lincoln Writing Paper Freebie!

A snow (ice!) day today (...#10) means I didn't get to use this Lincoln themed writing paper today, but we will be using it tomorrow after reading some texts and watching a Brainpopjr on Abraham Lincoln's life.  My kiddos will be writing what they have learned about him!

You can snag it for free on TpT by clicking on the picture below.



I know his bday is today... but it isn't too late to add this to your writing for the week!

Hope you're staying dry, warm, and ice free!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Student Valentine Gifts for a BUCK! {and a few freebies!}

Love is in the air and, thanks to this cheap gift, the money is still in my wallet!  I only spent a dollar per student for a great Valentine gift and you still have time to run out and make them!

22 kids for $22?  Yes!  It's true!

I just finished making my students' Valentine gifts and only spent one dollar per kid and I guarantee they are going to LOVE (with all the heart eyes!) these gifts!

I got clipboards from the Dollar Tree and personalized them for my students.  We use clipboards often in the classroom for write the room activities, writing, and other work times when students are not at their desks.  And now each kiddo will have their own clipboard to use during these work times!

Check these out...


Super easy.  The hardest part was unwrapping the cellophane around each clipboard.  Once that was done, this part was easy-peasy!

I had paint pens at home, which is what I used to personalize them, but Sharpies would work perfectly too!

I can't wait to give these to my kiddos on Thursday!!!

My kiddos will also get a Valentine brag tag.  You can download this freebie by clicking the picture.


Looking for an easy card holder?  Here is my favorite!


And... here's a quick bulletin board freebie too!



I may use my Valentine Hershey wrappers too and give them a candy bar... if I get to Target in the next few days.  And, let's face it, I'll definitely be at Target in the next few days!


Or, if you're looking for a non-candy treat that your kiddos will love, surprise them with a Valentine homework pass!

How are you celebrating Valentine's day with your students?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Word Sorts in the Classroom

Do you word sort in your classroom?

If you don't, you totally should.

We do a "write the room"activity every week which is a sorting activity, since the kiddos are walking around the room and categorizing words as they write them on a recording sheet.

BUT- I recently started doing hands-on physical word sorts and it's amazing.

Like seriously.

There's just something about seeing the kiddos actually manipulate word cards, hearing them saying words aloud and figuring out where to categorize them based on sounds.  And, the sense of accomplishment they have when they have sorted the cards... well, they get so excited!

So, I've been making sorts like a crazy woman, as my kiddos can't get enough of them.

I have them at my "Word Work" center.  When students finish their "must do" each week, they can choose a word sort to complete.

I cut a laminate the cards and put them in here.  I got it at Michael's.  On sale.  And then used my teacher ID to get MORE money off!

I print out the "header cards" so students know the categories.  Then print and laminate the sorting cards.



My students seriously LOVE doing this.  They either lay them out on the floor or sort them in pocket charts.  We love these magnetic ones from Amazon:



And I'm so stoked to let you know that I have TWENTY of them done and ready to share on TpT!

I am going to continue to add to this pack until my school year ends in June, as my kiddos seriously can't get enough.  You can snag this pack on sale at TpT now!  The pack also includes recording sheets for each sort so you can check students' work or use as fun assessments!

How do you get your kiddos interacting with words and literacy skills?

We've had three snow days in the past week with a big snow coming Monday and then below zero temps on Wednesday... I will definitely be adding to this pack next week if we get more snow days!

Happy weekend, all!

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Newest Classroom Projects {Clipboards and Class Store}

Second blog post of 2019... already  miles ahead of where this blog was at this time last year!

We were so excited on Friday when we had the first opening of our CLASS STORE!

Students were able to spend (or save, which only one of my kiddos did!) their Dojo points from the week for goodies at our store.

To make the store, I just went to Target because, duh, I'm there thirty times a week anyway, and scoured Bullseye's Playground for the best gear.  I may have bought a few things from Amazon too... but most of it comes from my other home away from home- Target.

I decided how much each item would cost, made up some "price tags", and put everything into a hanging shoe holder.

Easiest, peasiest contraption ever!


I'm only using 12 of the 24 shoe spots, so I just used some binder clips to hang the "extra" behind.  Once this week I used it to cover the front of the store so the kids couldn't see the prizes... but it looked so sad when it was closed up so we fixed that and hung it right back behind where it belonged!

Want to make your own store with this shoe holder?  Click the picture for an Amazon link!


I was also in need of some clipboards.  I hit up Dollar Tree and bought 10.  I had so much fun adding my name to them that I'll probably go and get 12 more so I have a class set!  How fun would this be as a Christmas gift for the kiddos?  Or maybe Valentine's Day since that's right around the corner!


Ignore the giant messy corner of my desk here!  I could just not share this pic, but I love how these turned out.  So, I'll just share and hope you don't notice the piles or other STUFF!


That's it!

Currently working on some simple sorts and matching activities.  I am excited to actually be CREATING again!  I'll share here when I've got them ready to go!
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