Thursday, September 29, 2011

Month Headers Freebie!

I am SO excited to be a contributor to the "Classroom Freebies" blog!

Classroom freebies
And today is the "GRAND OPENING"!

Head over to the blog to check out tons of freebies from the other contributors.

Here is mine... month headers! My first graders will be using these at a math workstation after they read a book about the months then they will organize the cards in order.

Google Docs really doesn't like Thistle Girl backgrounds, so this is a direct download that you won't be able to save in Google Docs. I did make the file preview in Google Docs but the February header is not black! :)

Enjoy! I'd love to hear a peep from you if you enjoy the file... and don't forget to head over to Classroom Freebies!


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Schedule Overhaul & Schedule Board Linky Party!

Fifteen days in and I'm making an entire schedule overhaul...

1.) We'll be having a PM Meeting instead of a Morning Meeting.
2.) Daily Five will be moving BACK to the morning even though it will be interrupted by a 15-minute recess, three times a week.
3.) Math will be after lunch and calendar will be first thing in the morning.
4.) The pic shows my typical "Wednesday" schedule where we have "Enrichment". This is a time where we have grade-level meetings and the kids go to the gym. The other days, we have our specials from 2:00-2:35. Anyhow, the new schedule will give me "overflow" time if I need more time for math after lunch... and if I don't need the extra time, I'll have 40-minutes a day for science or social studies... did you hear that? The one thing that gets shoved to the side to make way for "more important" things time after time will have a *potential* 40-minutes a day! That means I'll probably get like 25-minutes a day to actually teach some science/ss on a consistent basis! Whoot whoot!

I am excited about the schedule changes... we tried it out today and it went so smoothly! The cards off to the side de-note things we may do if there is time. Ha ha. I just went on and on about science and, yes, that card is off to the side. But only because it's Wednesday's schedule and we have that "Enrichment" time, which is 50-minutes.

I've done reading after lunch for the past two years and have been really wanting it back in the morning. I think having the recess interruption will be OK- especially in the framework of Daily Five.

What are some of your favorite scheduling times for different subjects? Do you have a picture of your schedule to share? That's ok! Link up anyway and share about your day!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sneak Peek from Last Week!


I remembered to snap a few pics of what we've been up to! :)

First of all... one of my 2nd grade sweeties brought me this portrait of myself this morning... I love it!

Second... here's a pic of our CAFE board so you can see our strategies so far!

Third... we've been studying butterfly life cycles and we made this project using paper templates that you can download below the picture, pipe cleaners, tissue paper, and beans. My kiddos LOVED making this!

Fourth... here's a fall poem we completed on Friday. I found the confetti at Hobby Lobby and knew it would be the perfect bit of pizazz to help us celebrate the first day of fall!

Last... click here or on the image below to download a great "Bucket Filling" guide which Marygrove College compiled from the results of their linky party! It's full of pictures and tidbits for success from other teachers.

And, truly last... have a great rest of your Monday!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Christmas Calendar Gift Freebie!

You people are on the ball! I've gotten a few e-mails asking when the 2012 calendar will be available on my site for family Christmas gifts.

I added one today, but made it fillable instead of me putting the dates. This way you can use it next year and just change the dates and you can add your own holidays or whatever you'd like to do!

Making all those text boxes in Adobe Acrobat is tough work! So after a morning of frustration, I'm happy to say it is completed! :)

You can find it on my class website by following this link to go to my "files" page! It's in the "C" section!


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday Sharing and Two Thumbs Up to Scholastic!

Well, my teammate and I did not win the goat milking contest... BUT... it was really good to see two teachers who used to work in my district and competed together for their new district! They didn't win either- the reigning champ from last year took the trophy home again! But I miss my friends and loved seeing them there!

I SO keep planning to add some pics of what we've been doing in class... we made super cute butterfly life cycle projects, wrote fall leaf poems and decorated with gilttery leaf confetti, and are at 20+ minutes of stamina for Read to Self during Daily Five. But, in the buzz of the day, I never remember to do it! Goal for next week: TAKE SOME PICS!

So, last week, I made my book order for Scholastic. And I made a mistake. And it was TOTALLY my fault. They were giving three free books with your order and I didn't realize that and I bought four of the books that I would be getting for free (three free from Lucky and three free from Seesaw). Well, I called them and they sent me four different titles that I chose to "make up" for the ones I had purchased duplicates of... AND let me keep the duplicates that I had purchased! So, I just wanted to give a shout out to Scholastic and their great customer service!

I got a set of "time" books in my order with books about days of the week, months of the year, am/pm, etc... It's a great little set! I'm going to put the days of the week and months of the year books into my math workstations this week, so I made days of the week cards for my students to arrange after they read the book.

You can snag them here! I don't know why but, for some reason, Google Docs doesn't like Thistle Girl backgrounds and they never show up right. I promise that after you open these in Adobe, the backgrounds will tile correctly!
I'm planning to make some months ones too, but I started and they are taking a bit more time as I have to (of course) add some clip art and change the fonts and such. But hopefully you can enjoy the free day ones!

I'm off to a bonfire tonight and looking forward to having fun with friends after a long day at school on Friday (PS- never announce to the world that one of your "sweeties" has been making great behavior choices... I SO paid for doing that on Friday)! I had to laugh at the end of the day because my kiddos were just a bit crazy! I was thinking there must either have been a full moon or a massive snowstorm coming my way because man-oh-man... my school was a nutty place on Friday!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Tally Giveaway Winners...

I had a great day at school today with a challenging kiddo who *I think!* has truly figured out how to behave in my classroom.

So, coming off my great day, I decided I couldn't just choose four winners for my tally items... so anyone who left a comment with their e-mail address included in it on that post, just got an e-mail from me with the four files!

They will be available on The Teaching Oasis soon for $1.00 each if you happened to miss out on the giveaway!

Hopefully I filled some buckets tonight! You all are the best... thanks for following my blog and leaving me lots of comments... I LOVE THEM! :)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Versatile Blogger Award!

Thank you so much, Patti, for awarding me! :) What a nice surprise! And Claire too, from Miss Toffee's Class blog... THANKS!!!!!!!

So... the rules say I have to divulge 7 things about myself...

1.) My husband and I started dating in high school in 1997, got married in 2004, so this November we will have been together for 14 years!

2.) Asparagus is one of my all-time favorite foods!

3.) I haven't seen a musical in two months... and I'm starting to freak out a little.

4.) I'll be milking a goat in the county fair for a contest on Saturday. This is my 5th year doing it... and once I won first place!

5.) I am obsessed with purses. Once my husband accused me of having five. HA! I'll let him keep thinking that!

6.) I bite my nails. :(

7.) I love to cook!

The 2nd part of the rules say I should pass this on to 15 more people! I'm going to be honest and say that, right now, I am so swamped! I'm not trying to get out of filling others' buckets... but I'll have to come back to that!

If you want to see some awesome blogs, check out the list of those that I follow over on the right. There are many amazingly talented and generous teachers out there... I love blog-stalking you all! :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's a Tally-stravaganza!

Happy Monday!

I have been going tally mark crazy this afternoon while trying to digest my fair food lunch before a grease-induced coma sets in! :)

So far I have three activities... a super cute "Star Wars" themed tally building game, a tally, numeral, one-to-one correspondence matching activity, and a dice rolling tally table activity. These will be PERFECT for my first graders' math workstations this week!

They will all be on the Teaching Oasis soon... but, I thought I'd share the love with ya'll before Ms. Winston uploads them to our site. Especially because I have over 900 followers! That makes me feel so special! :)

So... leave me any sort of comment below (please include your e-mail address!) and I'll choose 4 winners by random number generator on Thursday!

Feel free to share the tally-stravaganza on your blog too! If you do, leave a 2nd comment for a 2nd chance to win!

Here's a peek at a few pages of each item:

I actually hope to create a few more tally items by then so if I do (and that might be a BIG *if* depending on how the next few days go!) the winners will get a copy of each of them too!

If you didn't see my "tally freebie" yesterday, be sure to check out that post too!

On a side note, I just re-read this and am in shock over the sheer number of exclamation points I managed to sneak in to this blog post. Notice the use of a period there. And there.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Facebook Linky Party, Tally Freebie, 9 Days Down, and a Day Off Tomorrow!

First of all, living in such a rural area pays off every once in a while... tomorrow is "Fair Day"! I believe most (if not all) of the schools in my county are closed tomorrow so kiddos can go show animals and projects and enjoy the county fair! My husband and I live about 4 blocks from the fair grounds and he took tomorrow off too... so not only do I get to sleep in a little bit AND enjoy the "Golden Girls" in my pjs with my coffee and English muffin... but then I get to wander around the fair in the afternoon! Hooray!

Since I tackled the last item of my title first, I'll just continue in "backwards order"... so... 9 days down! They have been a great 9 days and here is why:

*I looped with half of my class from last year and what a huge difference that has made! They are such great kiddos and remembered exactly what my expectations and routines were the minute they crossed the threshold into Room 10 on the first day of school. I am so excited to have those kids again this year and get to know 10 new firsties too!

*Daily Five is going AWESOME! We were at 20 minutes on Read to Self within the first 7 days of school!

*I already started a science unit instead of cramming and jamming as the year goes on! Whoo hoo!

And the third topic of conversation... which is the second item in my title... a tally freebie!

My first graders will be doing this for homework one night this week. Hopefully you can enjoy it too!
Finally, the last thing...

The Lesson Plan Diva is hosting a "Facebook" linky party so you can see which other great blogger teachers have Facebook pages that you can connect with to keep even more informed about the wonderful "goings on" in other people's classrooms!

Click the button below to find my blog on FB!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

One Word Wednesday

Leave me a comment below sharing one word that sums up your day...

Mine is...

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I love you, Donor's Choose!

This summer I had four projects funded on Donor's Choose and the materials for three of them arrived today!

We got...

Geometry, measurement, and graphing activities for our math workstations!

The first two sets of "Math Start" books (for some reason, my picture won't load... so that pic is from the Lakeshore Learning Website)

And... everyone's favorite was this box full of classroom board games! So many kids haven't played "Operation" or "Guess Who" which were mainstays for me and my sister when we were younger! And what a fun way to develop social skills for my kiddos... what could be better than learning how to take turns and lose gracefully while pulling a plastic funny bone out of a man's elbow all while Linkbeing terrified his nose will light up and he'll buzz at you?!

My 4th project that got funded is for tons of "boy" books for my library! I'm hoping those will be coming any day now!

I have had 22 projects funded in all since 2008! You can check out my Donor's Choose page by clicking here to see some of the things I've gotten for my classroom! :) I currently have one project up for some science materials but I have tons of "points" left and would love to get something else up there. What things have you had success with? What are some of your favorites that you've gotten? I'd love to hear about it... especially if you have tips for funding! I have a very generous friend who greatly supports learning in my classroom on Donor's Choose... but I'd love to hear other ways to get funded too!

Monday, September 12, 2011

An *almost* normal day!

We had our first *almost* normal day at school today where everything I planned got taught, behaviors are coming together, and we even had a few minutes at the end of the day for some free choice!

We have switched from DIBELS to Aims Web testing this year for our benchmark reading assessment. Would you care to share your opinions on Aims Web? I'd love to hear what others think... so far I don't have much of an opinion myself. It seems pretty similar to DIBELS. I did a few of my 2nd graders today and they seemed to do well... I'm going to tackle the first grade tests tomorrow!

So, that's the scoop!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Sharing on Sunday- Number practice and Science Journals

What a week! I feel like a first year teacher again more this year than I did last year when I started teaching a split class! I was at school for 6 hours today and could have stayed for 6 more... AND brought a ton home to work on too!

But, I haven't been on the blogging scene much this week, so I just wanted to share a freebie that my firsties will be working on this week...

Have a great week... we're starting a unit on life cycles as my neighbor teacher just had some butterflies emerge from their chrysalis' today while we were in... so my plan is to add some pics of our activities and our entries into our science notebooks!

OH- one more thing I thought I'd share... here is the cover for our science notebook! Hope you like it and can use it! I cut them apart and we are going to glue them on the front of composition books.

Enjoy! I'd love a comment if you use either of them! :)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Giveaway Winner!!!!

Ok. After using the random number generator on "", the winner of my giveaway for the stuffed key chains is #13... JennRose from Back Hall Collaborators! And, she's going to use them as reading buddies for her kiddos!

I just have to say that I'm psyched that #13 won as my grandmother passed away in May and 13 has always been a special number to her... so maybe Grandma Rowe helped you out a little bit, Jenn! :)

Please e-mail me with your mailing address at and I'll get those out to you *hopefully* this weekend!

I am exhausted after day 2! I'm going to pop in my new mouth guard, not grind my teeth tonight (!), and go to bed... right now!

Happy Wednesday! AND... if anyone knows how to can copy and paste the image from the random number generator, please let me know! I want everyone to know I don't rig these things, but I can't figure out how to get the image of the thing!LinkLink

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

...and I might even go back tomorrow!

Business first:

Marygrove has posted a blog post by me about Bucket Filling. I hope you'll read it and leave a comment... I'll love you forever! They are also doing a bucket filling linky party. I'm not going to introduce bucket filling until I see what everyone who links up has to say about making the most out of it! So please head over and share your ideas!


What a whirlwind today was! It was the fastest first day in my six years of first days. Wow. My kiddos are great! I looooove having my first graders from last year again as 2nd graders and my new crew of firsties are pretty awesome too! One said today, "Do you want to know what the worst part about today is"? And... yes... I did because I thought it was going well! And she said, "The worst part about today is that we have to go home"! Love it! Anyway, it was a great day... and I might even go back tomorrow! ;)

Here's a rundown of the day:

*organizing mountains of supplies
*practicing classroom routines
*making necklaces
*taking cowboy pictures (They are super cute... we put bandannas over our mouths and noses and wore cowboy hats... I printed the pictures out and can't tell who is who!)
*making WANTED posters
*recess and lunch
*1 round of Daily Five... we did "Read to Self" for 3 minutes and could have gone longer but we had art!
*made our first Snazzy Snack
*went to music
*learned about the clip chart and HORSE folders

There is SO much more we didn't get to today!

BUT... we did name the gerbil! Her name is Lily as voted on by the kiddos.

Tomorrow's agenda...

*do something related to math
*write something!
*school-wide behavior expectations in each location of the school
*and making the "WOW SCHOOL!" class book which you can snag here!
*actually get to the calendar routine! What a bad teacher I am! I got home and my husband was talking to me about the weather and I realized we didn't do calendar today! Shame on me! AND none of my kiddos from last year remembered either!

I hope everyone else who headed back today had a good day too! And if you've been back for a while, hopefully it's still smooth sailing! Don't forget about my giveaway either! I do have a dentist appointment tomorrow that I forgot about until I got my reminder from my phone (thanks Evo!)... it's right after school, but 30 minutes away and then I'm having dinner with my friendie after that... so I'll do my best to announce the winner tomorrow as promised. BUT... if I don't make it home early enough it might not be until Thursday!

Ok. Enough rambling. I'm going to print out some things I need and veg out for the rest of the night!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stick a Fork in it... my room is DONE!

I went in today for finishing touches including fall garland in front of the window, taping down student name tags on tables, and setting up my new organization boxes from Lakeshore on the tables... here's a peek at my room from the door:

Just because I'm nervous like that, I'll be headed in tomorrow just to make sure... one more time... that everything is ready for the kiddos on Tuesday morning!

I hope you all are enjoying your long weekend and/or your last weekend before school starts!

If you didn't see it, check out my giveaway post for these cute keychains!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cutest Giveaway EVER!

Before I get to the awesome giveaway, I want to say THANK YOU to Janis at Caffeinated Conclusions, Mrs. Shepherd at Shepherd's Shining Stars, Elisabeth at The Adventures of Miss Elisabeth, Abby at Third Grade Bookwork, Mel D at Oh The Places We'll Go, and Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for listing my blog in their Top 10 Teacher Blogs! I was so excited to hear from them today... I'm so glad you all find what I have to say useful!

I have too many favorite blogs to do a Top 10... you can see the blogs that I stalk over on the right. Having only entered "Teacher Blogland" in June, I've been so amazed at the creative and generous teachers out there who invite us into their brains and their classrooms every day! Being a part of such a caring community of professionals who support one another all around the world is just one of the many things that make this the best profession on earth!

Now... for the GIVEAWAY!!!!

My husband and I spent the day shopping today and we stopped at Michael's where I found so much great stuff for my classroom on a HUGE clearance!

I got these puppets for $0.20 each!

I think I'm going to pair them up with books that have a dog, cat, butterfly, bee, or flower as the main character so my kiddos can do retellings!

Then I found these keychains for $0.14 each!

They are stuffed and fully plush and 3-D cuteness! I'm going to take the keychain parts off and then... I don't know.

And that's where you come in... and the giveaway too!

What you need to do is:
1.) Leave a comment letting me know how you would use the KEYCHAINS in your classroom (1 entry)
2.) Leave a comment letting me know you follow this blog or have just become a follower (1 more entry)
3.) Leave a comment letting me know you like my blog on Facebook (1 MORE entry!)
4.) Leave a comment and the URL letting me know you posted about my giveaway on your blog (1 MORE entry!)

AND, if you want an even better chance to win...

5.) Leave a comment letting me know that you like The Teaching Oasis on Facebook (1 MORE entry!)

So, you can enter as many or as few times as you wish... obviously up to 5. :)

Next week on WEDNESDAY (because who doesn't need a mid-week pick me up?!) I will use the random number generator to choose a winner and the winner will receive via snail mail... their own set of the same keychains that I bought for my classroom! That's right... a colorful set of 6 cute keychains for you to use however you desire... a dinosaur, snail, robot, lady bug, flower, and a turtle!

I think that's it and I hope you'll be excited about these too. I can't wait to hear how you'd use the keychains in your classrooms. I know you'll have some awesome ideas!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Bucket Filler Linky Party... please come share!

What an appropriate linky party for today. My favorite Marygrove College is hosting a bucket filler linky party and I hope you'll head over and join.

I say it's appropriate for today because when I checked my mail today, I had a package from Amazon. Now I order from there all the time, but my summer ordering finally all got delivered on Monday. I was racking my brain to think of what I might have been missing from previous orders but when I opened the package, I got a huge bucket filler from Lynne who sent me Enemy Pie from my Amazon Wishlist along with a very nice note thanking me for sharing! Thanks for filling my bucket!

THEN I saw that the wonderful bloggers over at Marygrove's MAT blog started this linky party and I knew that, after having my bucket so filled today, I had to join! The best part is that when the linky party expires, they are going to compile everyone's ideas into an "all-in-one" resource for teachers!

Please check out the linky party and add your best bucket filling ideas!

Here are mine...
One thing I struggled with in the beginning was how to keep the excitement of bucket filling continue after the initial "newness" and excitement wears off.

I find that one of the biggest ways to keep my kids interested in bucket filling is to make sure that I put a card in a few students' buckets each week. I also will say sometimes, "Wow, John, when you held the door for me without me even having to ask- that really filled my bucket. Thanks for staying back to help me instead of rushing out to recess". When they hear me recognizing another student and "explaining" to them how my bucket got filled, it helps remind them about bucket filling and also provides an example to them about how to 1.) fill a bucket and 2.) how to recognize when someone has filled theirs.

I have also been asked before what I do when a student's bucket does not get filled during the week. I usually try to watch and see that everyone has something in their bucket, but on the occasion that I don't have time or it doesn't happen, I try to use that as a learning experience for that student. I ask them what specific actions they did for others or if they made sure to write anyone else a bucket filler.

Bucket filling has definitely been a positive addition to my classroom community. I can't wait to see everyone else's tips and tricks on how to make it successful! I hope you'll head over and link up!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Help me spend some money!

What a long week it's been!

Teachers reported back on Monday for a week of Professional Development. It was a good week- yesterday and today we got "refreshed" on the ways we could use the awesome technology my school has. The way it was set up was like a conference where you could choose your own sessions... so each hour, three different 45-minute sessions were offered and you got to choose which one you wanted to go to and we (the staff) were also some of the presenters.

So, yesterday I presented a session on ways to use free web programs for students to "jazz up" their assignments and then I did a session where I shared about 15 cool websites for teachers. We also had a session on our interactive white boards, our Wiis, document cameras, digital cameras, Google Docs, Edmoto, and Ipods. I really enjoyed doing PD this way and think my co-workers liked it too!

Last night was Open House and it was awesome! It was so great to see my kiddos again and meet my new ones... I'm super pumped about starting school next Tuesday.

So, the point of my post today... I feel like I should treat myself to $25.00 worth of books from Amazon to celebrate the successful (but long!) week. AND... if I can find the books in paperback, I can do their 4-for-3 promotion AND get free shipping if I spend $25!

I would love for you to leave a comment to suggest your favorite picture book and what you use it for. It could just be a book you love to read because you love to read it. Or maybe it's one that lends itself to an awesome lesson. Or maybe your kids just love to hear it!

Two of my favorite favorites to read are: Love the Baby by Steven Layne and Who Hops? by Katie Davis. Love the Baby is just super fun to read and great for making connections, teaching voice, and showing some character development. Who Hops? has a very lively refrain and is very silly. My kids LOVE it. But I already own both of them, so that's where you come in!

Thanks for helping me fill up my cart and add MORE books to my library! :)
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