Friday, December 7, 2012

On the Second (and Third) Day of Christmas...

I gave my students two snowflakes yesterday - one to make from paper, and one pre-cut from foam.  Their designs were amazing!  I'll have to get you some photos (sorry) tomorrow, but I found the perfect way to fold the paper to make even the worst scissor-user in the world a fabulous snowflake maker.  It was on Pinterest, and it's pinned to my winter board right here.  You'll be amazed, and your kids will ask you to fold more, and more, and more...add scrap-booking scissors for even prettier designs!

Today, on the third day of Christmas, I gave each of my students three holiday stories to read with a partner from fifth grade.  They absolutely loved this activity!  Some of my students were able to read with their cousins, brothers, and I was able to see my fifth grade daughter interact with my students, too.

We are working on a door-decorating contest for our hallway, and my kiddos love my Auntie Claus unit so much, we decided to do the whole hallway with elves, Auntie, the famous Santa Moon, and the snowy scene of the North Pole village as seen from afar, when Sophie landed from her elevator ride.  I cannot wait to finish and get you some photos!

Stay with me - I promise to take pictures on Monday!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On the First Day of Christmas...

It's here!  It's here!  We are officially down to twelve school days left before Winter Break.  On the first day of Christmas, I gave a key to each student.  We're reading Auntie Claus, by Elise Primavera, and have learned that Auntie's "key" to Christmas is, "It is far better to give than to receive, daaaahhhling!"  The "dahling" could be the reason I fell in love with these books, initially, because it's exactly how my Great-Aunt Chee-Chee says darling, and she's from my home town (none of the rest of us talk like that, including her sister!).  She's always meant Christmas to me, too.  When I was little, and we visited her house on Christmas Eve, it was the highlight of the entire season for us.

My students actually clapped when I finished our first reading of Auntie Claus yesterday!  If that's ever happened before, I can't remember it.  They immediately understood the book's theme, and were impressed enough to start doing things for other people spontaneously - like when one of the table supply buckets fell over, and six or seven friends came to the rescue!  So sweet!

Back to the key - I used a die cut to make plain white keys from card stock, and asked the children to write their own "key to Christmas" on their keys.  I went over each child's writing with Sharpie, so that we can add glitter (like the diamonds on Auntie Claus' key) tomorrow.  Yes, one of my sweeties still said "I get the most presents" on his key, bust most said something about spending time with family, celebrating Jesus' birth, or giving to those in need, and being happy with what we have.  We're also using my Auntie Claus Literacy Stations Unit as we enjoy each of the three books in the series over the next few days.  You can grab yours at my TPT shop by clicking here.  The keys turned out to be so cute that we are going to use them as a part of our school's door decorating contest!

Stay tuned to see what I give each of my babies tomorrow (two of something)...

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thank You!

I am so excited to have been nominated three times for the Liebster Award for blogs with under 200 followers!!!

Here are the rules:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot “tag back” the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see who you nominate.

Eleven Random Things About Me:
1.  I color my hair to match the season - darker in fall & winter, lighter in spring & summer - 'cause I need that tan to shine with some blonde streaks in the spring, y'all!
2.  I once bought a house that was the color of Pepto Bismal, in Omaha, Nebraska.  We had it painted almost immediately!
3.  Even though my Tigers lost last night, I still absolutely LOVE them with all my bright orange heart!
4.  My first job was scooping ice cream in brown elastic-waist polyester pants...nasty!
5.  My house looks like Santa and all his elves threw up all over it - we began decorating today, and after 12 hours, I have every single Christmas item I've ever owned all over the house, and I have the mantle done!
6.  I don't think I can stand one more Spongebob episode...but my sweet little Clare seems to be addicted, so I guess we'll see...
7.  I graduated from high school the year my next door neighbor teacher was BORN!
8.  No matter what, I'll never forget my first field trip, as a teacher, when one sweet little girl asked what time it was in Charleston, SC (we left from Greenville, SC), and if you could spend a sand dollar.  So innocent and precious!
9.  My mom told me not to be a teacher.
10.  I secretly (not anymore) wish I could be an event planner or an interior designer.
11.  Because my mantle is decorated, my clock is gone, and I've looked up at a wreath at least 45 times today to check the time.

My Questions for You:
1.  What grade is your favorite, and are you currently teaching it?
2.  What's your secret stash at school - you know, post-it's, tape, or colored pencils?
3.  If you have a favorite subject, what is it and why?
4.  How are you implementing the CCSS standards in your classroom?
5.  Post a picture of your room for us to see - I know, not a question, but the question is, what's it look like where you teach your babies?
6.  What holiday tradition is most important to you?
7.  Does your school have clubs, and if so, what and when are they?
8.  How do you teach guided reading?
9.  What blogger was your inspiration for beginning your own blog?
10. Be honest, we won't tell your husband - how much do you spend on school stuff?
11. What is your most memorable moment as a teacher?

My Nominations:

Congratulations and have fun!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Shoppin' & Hoppin' plus Currently

Lots of great Linkies out there this week, my friends!  First, I'm linking up with Blog Hoppin' to show you what I bought during the Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) sale...
This adorable unit features Jan Brett's version of Town Mouse, Country Mouse and Mo Willems' City Dog, Country Frog.  I added Aesop's City Mouse, Country Mouse and did a whole integrated unit on urban, suburban, and rural communities, using many of the resources in this precious unit!  We're still working, but I'll tell you, I've never had students literally beg to keep working, even though it was time for recess!  Bless their hearts - they loved all three books, and we did a triple Venn diagram to compare and contrast them.  The kids were so into it, it turned into a competition to see who could find the most similarities and differences, thus the begging to not stop working!
 My next purchase was just for me.  I love Erica Borher, and always think she has the cutest things!  If you saw the "My Purchases" section on my TPT account, you'd see how darling I really think her work is.  This resource book was over 100 pages long, so I waited until the big sale to splurge on it!  I am still feeling a little shaky about Common Core, Reading Groups, and a new reading series all at once, but much better than at the beginning of the year...still, I'm hoping Erica can help me out!

And now...Linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for Currently:
Farley's also added a "Block Party" by grade level, so I have to check that out!  

Have a great week, y'all...Tuesday, we'll be starting the 12 Days of Christmas in my room (only 12 left before winter break), so check back to see what we're up to!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday and Auntie Claus!

Surely y'all stayed away from the malls this past weekend, right?  Okay, really, who can resist a great sale?  I just can't bring myself to get up at the crack of dawn and drive myself to the mall in my pj's for the extra, extra 10% off, but, yes, I was shopping this weekend!

The next best thing is Cyber Monday - where I'm not embarrassed to shop in my pj's - and when Teachers Pay Teachers will be having a site-wide super savings sale (actually, it's two days long, but whooo's counting?)!  You can save up to 28% on almost every store, so get going, even if it's in your pj's!

Finally, after weeks and weeks, I have completed my Hugenormous Auntie Claus Series Unit!  Here's a preview for you:
At over 45 pages, it is comprehensive!  It was so much fun "chatting" with author Elise Primavera via e-mail, and even more fun putting together all the activities I've done with her award-winning books over the years, but lots of work to bring them up to par with the CCSS.  These books, as I've mentioned before, are a few of my faves to use in December, because I've never had a student say, "I already know that book!"  Not to mention, that I LOVE the stories and the artwork...You can pick up a copy on TPT at 28% off through Tuesday by clicking on the preview above!

Making Merry,

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Last Minute Thanksgiving Mini-Unit

With just a few days left before Thanksgiving Break, I am happy to share a new mini-unit with you!  This craftivity is adorable, and includes common-core aligned reading and writing activities, along with making either a Native American or Pilgrim boy or girl.  It features two of my favorite Thanksgiving non-fiction books written on a second grade interest level, The Story of the Pilgrims, by Katharine Ross, and Giving Thanks...A Native American Morning Message, by Chief Jake Swamp.  You can pick up this mini-unit by clicking on the picture here:

Have a wonderful holiday, full of peace, joy, thanks, and family!  All diets suspended until January 1, 2013, beginning now...
Many Thanks to You,

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gobble up some Freebies!

Y'all...can you believe it?  We only have 8 school days left before Thanksgiving break!  I don't know how in the world I'll even get through explorers and jump ahead to Pilgrims by then, but we're on our way.  I found a great video on today.  It held every single one of my babies' attention at the end of the day, after testing in the morning, and after a be-a-utiful recess!  It's called Animated Hero Classics:  Christopher Columbus, and does a really nice job of explaining the childhood dream of travel, the quest for funding the voyage, and the accurate portrayal of Columbus' discovery of the West Indies.  I'm telling you, my kids have never been more interested in history!  I'm planning one more day with a few explorers, and then moving fast to the English Pilgrims' arrival.  We've already studied Native Americans, and I've previewed the Cherokee Trail of Tears to my babies, because our focus in South Carolina is change over time in our local community, and the Cherokee are the most prominent Native Americans in the upstate of S.C.  They're hooked!  I think after Thanksgiving, we'll move forward quickly, again, to the Indian Removal Act.  I know, history buffs - I'm skipping YEARS of history, but I really like the idea of comparing the Pilgrims' arrival and relationship with the Native Americans to the continuous push westward, including taking over Native American lands.  Maybe I'm just a sucker for the dramatic, but the irony of our history intrigues me, especially given our nation's current policies on immigration!

So, I got a little ahead of myself!  I wanted to share some Pilgrim activities with you.  One of my favorite books is Three Young Pilgrims, by Cheryl Harness.  It's a little long for reading in one lesson, but is full of information about the Pilgrims' motivation to travel to America, chronicles the lives of three documented siblings aboard the Mayflower, has diagrams galore, and is a touching story about the difficult and deadly trip from England to America.  We use the book to make booklets similar to these pictured, and this anchor chart.  Although I found the booklets on Pinterest a few years ago, I can't remember who first posted them, so if they're your's, please let me know, and please know that I'm not claiming your work, but wanted to share the ideas, and a great resource for doing them!

We also make Pilgrims and write personal narratives about all that for which we're thankful.  They are so stinkin' cute - we use pink colored chalk on their little cheeks to blend in some rosiness, and then spray them with hairspray to "set" the chalk.  My kiddos are amazed to see chalk, and even more amazed to see it "set".  Their parents love these projects, too!  You can click HERE to get your pilgrim collars and hats, as well as our list of facts about the Mayflower for free.  Just cut big circles for the Pilgrim faces - I'll get y'all some photos soon - I can't find any of the ones we made last year :(

Happy Turkey Day!

P.S. Friends, I'm still working on learning about Google Docs, and only the first page of each of the above documents shows up, so for now, get those for free at my TPT shop.  Sorry!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Currently, Talking to Elise Primavera & an Election Day Freebie

Wow!  I filled out a "contact me" on Elise Primavera's website, you know the ones, that usually don't even get an answer, and she, personally responded from her personal e-mail address!  I feel so honored!  Y'all, she is one of my absolute favorite authors for kids' books, especially the Auntie Claus series.  I've used the three books for Y.E.A.R.S in December - most of my students don't know the stories, and I love having fresh holiday stories from which to teach.  Anyway, I thought with my new TPT store, I'd try to share my lesson plans with y'all, so I asked her permission to use her artwork.  Although she wasn't able to let me do that, I'll still let you in on the plans, minus the graphics.  I promise to put cuteness in, but you'll have to buy her books to get the full of my favorite things about her books is the illustrations, which she does herself.  Ms. Primavera is incredibly personable and sweet, at least via e-mail, and really wanted to know more about my lessons and TPT before answering, which makes me love her even more.  Be watching for my three-book literacy and math units to go with Auntie Claus, Auntie Claus and the Key to Christmas, and Auntie Claus, Home for the Holidays coming soon on TPT.

Thanks to Tori, at Tori's Teacher Tips, I finally know how to correctly hook up to Farley's Currently linky!  I'm kinda impressed with myself, but mostly with Tori's tip on how to make this work!  She's amazing, y'all, and I feel like she's my friend, even though we've never met.

Go to my TPT store today for your FREE copy of my best-selling Amelia Bedelia 4 Mayor Unit!  It's perfect for making the election come "home", or you can use it later when studying local government, idioms or contractions.  It includes all three skills, and, let's face it...everybody loves Amelia Bedelia!

Happy Elections - GO VOTE!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Scarecrows, and Apples, and Pumpkins...Oh My!

Our Halloweenish Porch
We just turned off the porch light at our house, declaring Halloween officially over.  Whew!  What a crowd. I L.O.V.E. living in a neighborhood that has so many children, and has lots and lots of trick-or-treaters.

My favorite chair
I've missed school for the past three days, with a very sick little one.  Truly, for the first time this year, I've felt fall in the breezes and smelled it in the air.  I can't wait to get back to my kiddos and hear all about their adventures tonight!
So pretty for a gypsy!

This week, we celebrate Scarecrow Day, a long-standing second grade tradition at my school.  I'm at least as excited as my kids - I even dressed as a scarecrow to answer the door.
Scarecrow Day 2012
This Scarecrow Day,
I came up with these two mini-units that my class will be doing during Scarecrow Day.  They are common core aligned, use apples and pumpkins, and include deep thought-provoking questions, estimations, and strategic problem solving, as well as incorporating measurement and graphing from CCSS.  I'm relieved I put them together just in time - Scarecrow Day is Friday!  You can click on the pictures to get your own copy of each.

Happy Fall, Y'all!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Dreaded Day After Halloween...Write All About It!

Halloween is upon us.  More importantly, the dreaded Day After Halloween is coming!  What do you do when 24 second graders are jacked up on candy, too little sleep, and "what were you last night" conversations?  I say roll with it!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, and no, it's not about the candy.  Truthfully, it's because when I was a little girl, Halloween was when they started putting out the Christmas decorations in stores (now that's around back-to-school time).

Kids are excited!  They want to tell everybody everything about Halloween!  Turn it into a great writing opportunity.  I always tell my kiddos, "If you can tell me about it, you can write about it."  So, toss your writing plans for the day.  Take advantage of authentic motivation.  Let students write what they dressed as, how much candy they received, how many houses they visited, how late they stayed up, and all the rest.  In fact, let them do what comes naturally...exaggerate!  That's right - make November 1st the "Official Halloween Tall Tales Day".  It's the perfect time to teach about exaggeration, personal narratives, incorporating adjectives, vivid verbs (I think adverbs should be outlawed - if you need one, you haven't used the right verb), and summarizing.

Here's another idea - let your students draw, rather than draft, their stories.  I adore the book From Pictures to Words, by Janet Stevens.  It's her own story of how she writes books, using pictures first.  Your jacked up, candy-high kids might not be all that into listening to it, but you can read it in advance, and teach writing the Janet Stevens way...use your pictures to spark your stories.

No matter what you decide, good luck, but seriously, let's work on getting that new holiday started.  Who do you call about declaring a national holiday, anyway?

On my way Trick-or-Treating,

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Whooo's Afraid of Common Core Math?

Halloween and the Common Core...SCARY!
My class is working on adding and subtracting within 100, using place value and operations of addition and subtraction.  We'll move to "within 1,000" at the beginning of November.  My main objective has been on having the students be able to analyze, solve, explain and defend their answers to word problems, using the following steps:

1. What information does the problem tell us?
2. What information does the problem ask us?
3. Will your answer be given in words or numerals?  How do you know?
4. What operation will we use to solve the problem?
5. What strategies can we use to solve the problem?
    (writing equations, counting on, counting back, using a number line, using a hundreds 
    chart, using manipulatives, regrouping, drawing pictures, acting out the problems, making 
    charts, etc.)
6. Solve the problem with one strategy, then use a different strategy to solve the same 
7. Check your work 4 ways:
        Is your answer reasonable?
        Did you get the same answer both times you solved it?
        Use the reverse operation to check your answer.
        Are all your numbers written correctly (not backwards)?
8. Explain, orally, or in writing, the step-by-step processes you used to solve the problem.

I have some very brainy second graders, who can mentally solve addition and subtraction problems, with regrouping, in about two seconds flat!  I've had to tell them every day, "I don't CARE what the answer is!  I want to know HOW you figured it out."  Of course, those brainiacs who truly are using mental math have a really hard time describing their process, but the students who need to work to get to the answers have just as hard a time.  So, this week, I told everyone, "I'm not teaching math right now.  I'm teaching writing.  Here's what I want you to be able to do:

  • Write a story problem to fit a given equation
  • Write a detailed description of how you solved mathematical problems"

Jaws dropped.  Silence occurred for maybe the first time all year.  I thought to myself, I have finally made a breakthrough!  I jumped on that chance to make an anchor chart, but didn't have my phone, so I've recreated it (sort of) in publisher, so you'll have an idea of what we did.  
Next, I whipped up a "Halloween Math Problems...what will we do?" mini unit.  We began working these problems with the process, NOT the end, in mind, and even my most reluctant writers (usually my best mathematicians) began to LOVE writing time, because, of course, they could choose to write about...MATH!

Happy Halloween,

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Little of This and a Little of That

Whoa!  This weekend, I bought a book called Who Switched Off My Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf, because that's how I feel about half the time!  Between teaching second grade, raising two precious girls, being a part-time wife (my husband travels a LOT), being a new blogger, running a new TPT store, learning the new common core standards, and having a new reading series, I feel CRAAAAAZY!  Is it a teacher thing, a mom thing, or just me?

Anyway, I have been working on some things to help me at school, and wanted to share them with you.  Of course, being the perfectionist that I am (A.D.D. + O.C.D. = DANGEROUS!), I want everything in my life to be just that...perfect.  A little overwhelming, to say the least.

First, thanks to Tori at Tori's Teaching Tips, I finally have a volunteer system down-pat (seriously, thanks, Tori!).  I have several moms who volunteer weekly, and others who come when they can.  Either way, I have something ready for them as soon as they walk in:
  • Editing Groups - these moms are wonderful!  They jump right into a writing lesson and either "wander around" helping kids, as needed, or they take a small group to my kidney table and formally edit their writing with them.  They use our word wall, our editor's checklist, and a "read it out loud" system, so that my kiddos will become proficient at this on their own, at some point.
  • Math Assistant - these moms are fabulous, too!  They take a group of students, be it higher achieving, or lower achieving, and work with them on problem-solving strategies, numeracy, and whatever our focus skill is for the lesson.  If you haven't watched the common core resource videos online at The Teaching Channel, you're missing out on some AMAZING work being done in England.  I've modeled my teaching around these outstanding instructors.
  • Reading Queen - I know, I am the queen most of the time, but I relinquish my crown to these special moms.  They take a group of readers into the hallway, or into the 2nd grade storage room (that sounds awful, but it has a nice workspace in it, too), to read their leveled readers and work on specific skills for literacy folders.  This allows me to have less kids in the room, work with a group myself, and keep others on task with literacy tasks that are finally becoming routine!
  • Filing - two moms come in specifically to put my graded papers in children's take-home folders.  I despise filing!
  • Copying - every once in a while, I have a mom show up, out of the blue, so I keep a "Needs to be Copied" basket with papers I'd like to have for the next few weeks, with specific copying instructions post-it noted.
  • Assembling - again, occasionally, I have some brilliant plan to put together some big, wonderful project and need help cutting, laminating (HA!  My school NEVER has any lamination film, and if by some weird chance we do, the laminator's broken) with contact paper, and putting together sets of projects for my kiddos

Next, I've been working pretty hard on getting a routine down, like I mentioned above, for Literacy Stations.  I have the standard, 2-pocket folder with "work in progress" and "completed work" labels inside.  You all know about those.  But, a friend shared her secret with me, and I'll share it with you:  her stations are stationary!  I LOVE it!  Each week, my students know they have to:
  • complete a vocabulary organizer
  • read a leveled book and take an A/R test on it
  • take a copy of the poem of the week to highlight rhyming words, with a different colored highlighter for each rhyme, glue it to nice drawing paper, and illustrate it
  • read another leveled reader and do a B/M/E organizer for it
  • complete two focus skill activites, and
  • meet with me
I have also included a Literacy Workstation Checklist table that students can fill in as they go, and made some signs to put on each station's container.  You can get a copy of those by clicking on the picture below.

I usually don't meet with groups on Mondays, because I introduce our main story, read it aloud to them, go over all the stations, and introduce the focus skills.  Every other day, I meet with two groups, unless one of my Reading Queens shows up, and then I meet with one group, she meets with one, and I get to observe and take anecdotal records (imagine!).

I have absolutely ZERO creativity, but some talent, so I've come up with some new spelling activities to add to my stations, beginning this week.  You can grab the whole thing at my TPT store.

Finally, we begin studying weather this week, so I have made a Weather Journal you can pick up at TPT.

Monday, September 24, 2012

P.S.A. & Froggies with a Freebie!

One of the first bloggers I began to follow was Hope King, at  Come to find out, she's practically my neighbor!  If you haven't seen her fabulous P.S.A math problem solving strategy folders, hop over to her site and check them out.  They are perfect for teaching strategic thinking, place value, word problem analysis, and numeracy.  Hope and I have teamed up to bring you two new fun units to use with her P.S.A. folders.

We hope you'll be hoppin' with success as you and your students have fun with problem solving!  Stay tuned for more P.S.A. units from me, and be sure to keep up with Hope - although she's pretty amazing, and tough to keep up with, it's worth a try.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Labor and Fun Friday with a little of Currently

Wow!  Everyone at my house is working today.  Labor Day means:
1.  Clean your room.
2.  Grade papers.
3.  Make lesson plans.
4.  Get creative for #4!
5.  Hubby's home - in the garage doing some project or another.
6.  Wash the PILES of laundry!
7.  Go to the grocery store - and this time, I mean it!
8.  Catch up on blogging - I can't believe I've left you in the dark for a week.
9.  Honor the holiday by staying in pajamas until the grocery store.
10.  Vacuum...ugh!

Seriously, when I was pregnant, my due date was Labor Day, and I thought it was hilarious that I might be in labor on Labor Day.  I had a c-section, instead, on August 26 last year, make that ten years ago - how did my baby get so old?

Two weeks in, and I'm so happy for a four day week, I think we should all take a vote and make them all four days.  Don't know about you, but my kids are DONE on Fridays anyway.  That's why I'm linking up with Kelly at for Fun Fridays!

We've had Fun Fridays for as long as I can remember, even during my student teaching.  This week, we have been talking about friendship and classroom family, as a prelude to a unit on families in reading and social studies.  We've read:
Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon A Rainbow of Friends Product Details this week, and made sunflowers with Molly Lou, rainbows with our friends, and for "Fun Friday", we started making friendship bracelets.  Good Grief, Charlie Brown!  I was in the 7th grade the last time I made one of those!  Wait?  Did I just say that out loud?  That makes me OLD!!!

Since it's Labor Day, and all, I thought I'd finally join Farley from for Currently, too; however, I have NO idea how to type in the cute box she has set up, as a fellow blogger pointed out for me (thank you!).  So:
Listening to:  It's Fun Baby (by me, to Call Me Maybe)
Loving:  Crazy Milktop Girl Font, by Kevin and Amanda
Thinking:  We should have four day weeks every week
Wanting:  to be at the lake
Needing:  groceries...ugh!
Favorite Things:  Hubby being home, my sweet girls, my new second graders, and my new iPad
Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Whooo Just Bought Something i??? and a FREEBIE for you!

WOW...was i ever surprised last night when my husband bought me an iPad!  i guess he feels kind of sorry for me, that i constantly search the Internet looking for an android version of Book Retriever, and come up with some app about dogs!  i'm all in a frenzy trying out all kinds of apps for my kiddos at school, and trying to find the very best uses for it before Tuesday.  i have a freebie for you, in celebration of my new toy...

Also, i've been working pretty hard this week on so many things my head's just about spun off:
1.  Learning a new reading series and the common core ELA alignment.
2.  Trying to teach place value, addition, subtraction, and strategies for all three at the same time to 7-year-olds, who have been in school for exactly 4 days.
3.  Recovering from a broken foot, which showed as sprained on the x-ray, June 30th, but broken with several torn ligaments and tendons in an MRI last Tuesday (the first day of school)!
4.  Trying to keep my head above water at home and school, when i'm an official member of the "single married mothers club", which i invented, and only means my husband works out of town most of the time.
5.  Still trying to perfect my schedule, classroom, and routines with my new babies (whom i absolutely adore, already).

i just completed a unit of games and a craftivity that i used to teach the commutative rule, as one of the strategies we can use to help memorize basic facts (a biggie in second grade).  It's called Flip Floppin' Math, and you can find it here on my TPT store.  My kids loved all the games and making their own flip flops.  i'll have to take some photos to post for you - they are all so cute!

And, by the way, GO TIGERS - yes, the Clemson ones, not the Auburn ones!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Back to School Books Linky Party & Giveaway

With my first week behind me, and my daughter's tenth birthday weekend finally over, I am excited to share a few of my favorite back-to-school books with you!

On the first day of school, I always read Chrysanthemum.  I love the story, and so do my students, no matter how many times they may have heard it before.  After reading, we make our own names for my word wall.  I print out each student's name in a big, open font, and they decorate it to represent how special their names are.  We talk about how this is a way of making a text-to-self connection, because we all have different names and they are all special.  We graph the length of all our names, as a math tie-in, too.

 I read Missing: One Stuffed Rabbit very near the first of school.  I have a bunny I made at Build-a-Bear Workshop, and a binder with his picture on it.  The bunny's name is Forest (after my school, Forest Acres Elementary), and each week, the Student of the Week takes him home one night and adds an entry about what they did together in the binder.

Judy Blume's The Pain and The Great One was my absolute favorite book as a child.  My brother (who's five years younger than I) was the Pain, and I was The Great One!  I absolutely have to share this favorite with my kiddos during back-to-school.  It's perfect for me to model text-to-self connections, as well as introduce myself.  I talk to my students about how my brother and I always fought over just which one of us was The Pain and which one was The Great One, just like in the book!  I have to admit, on my brother's fortieth birthday, I gave him a brand-new copy for himself.

What books are on your back-to-school list?  Link up at Blog Hoppin' to share a few, and enter the contest to win $50 in books from The Clever Teacher.  If you haven't found their website yet, you absolutely have to check it out!  Search by skill, genre, author, standards, and more, all by grade level.  You can purchase your finds right there, too!

Good Luck,

Friday, August 24, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday

Man, Thursdays have always been the most tiresome for me, as a teacher!  I've always noticed more discipline problems on Thursdays, and my own children seem extra whiney, too.  I think it must be because we're all pretty much "done" for the week, only it's not over yet, and it's not even TGIF!

For my therapy, I have monthly massages at Massage Envy.  My therapist there, Sheila, is incredible, and also serves as my personal therapist (really, she just listens to me gripe and sympathizes at all the right times), and is an expert on religion, so my massages actually serve three very important needs in my life!

Pedicures are second on my list of indulgences.  I don't have them often, but always take my girls with me for some Mommy-Daughter time.  It's priceless, and fleeting...soon, I know they'll leave me at home and go with their friends.  I'm getting in every hug and kiss, every cuddle and kindness while I can.  With my oldest turning ten Sunday, I already feel her slipping away from me way more often than I ever expected at this age.

I am an artist at heart, and try to make time to paint whenever possible.  I absolutely adore throwing pottery (on a wheel, not at anyone!), too, but it's tough to find places that offer that.  I've always wanted my own pottery wheel, since I was a little girl.  This is the latest painting I've done.  It's in Clare's room, which she wants redecorated in Chinese style.  I also LOVE to decorate, and wanted to be a store window merchandiser (like Rhoda from the Mary Tyler Moore show) until I realized stores in South Carolina don't really have merchandise windows, and my chances of landing the Macy's NYC window were pretty slim!

I love to cook, although it's a rarity.  Sunset Beach, NC is my sanity zone...oh, how I wish I could live at the beach!

Spending time with my hubby's always therapeutic, and when I'm really desperate for comic relief, I look through these photos I took with my phone at the airport recently - they're the funniest t-shirts I've ever seen!