Monday, December 17, 2012


Who doesn't love a great tasting snack that's chocked full of sugar on the last day of school before Winter Break? I know I DO!!! And it's even better to give it to them RIGHT BEFORE THEY GO HOME!!! (Teacher's secret revenge, right?)

This year's snactivity was a build-your-own snowman treat! 


  • graham crackers (half of one for each student)
  • large marshmallows (NOT the huge ones)
  • pretzel sticks (two for each student)
  • white frosting (two jars is more than enough)
  • chocolate chips (the smaller the better*)
  • paper plates (I had one plate for each pair of students)
  • spoons 

How To:

PREP: I put on a quick movie for the kids to be occupied while I loaded up the plates with the ingredients. I know, I know, parent helpers should've helped...however, they ALL seemed to have something else to do!

Spread a layer of frosting on top of the graham cracker. Place one marshmallow on top of the frosting in the middle of the graham cracker. Spread a small amount of frosting on top of the marshmallow to act as a glue. Place another marshmallow on top of that one. Place more frosting on the front of the marshmallows and place the chocolate chips as buttons, eyes, nose and mouth. Put pretzel sticks in between the two marshmallows for the arms of the snowman.

Super easy, fast, fun, and delicious!!!

* The store didn't have the tiny chocolate chips

Hope everyone has a safe and happy week!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

5 Finger Rule

This past week a parent, with whom I have a great rapport, approached me to talk about how her student was doing. She was worried because while reading at home, her student becomes very frustrated and throws tantrums. She said, "I catch her cheating and looking at the pictures! Then we get into an argument and I punish her."


I immediately felt bad for my student. Reading should never be an argument, and I know my student is fully capable of reading. She is a "bubble kid" know, a kid on the cusp of being at grade level. She can do it, but just needs a little more practice.

Like a doctor or a car mechanic, I began asking questions to further understand the situation:

  • What does she read at home?
  • Who reads with her?
  • Do you read to her?
  • What does she like to read?
  • How often is she reading?
  • Do you have a homework routine?
Turns out, the books she has been reading are books that she enjoys. However, they may be too hard for her. I was not familiar with the titles, but gave mom a suggestion for finding out if a book is too difficult or too easy for her student. It's called, "The 5 Finger Rule."

Have the student pick a book they like, and read a page (preferably the first page, but really, any page will do). On your fingers, where the student can't see, keep track of their mistakes. If the student makes 5 mistakes within that page (or paragraph, depending on the length of the book), the book is too hard. If the student makes zero mistakes, the book is too easy. If the student makes 2-3 mistakes, the book is "just right". 

I also let mom know that we do "picture walks" before we read a story. Looking at a picture is not "cheating". It is a sign that the student wants to comprehend the story. It is there for clues to words she may not know. 

I also showed mom how to do "window fingers" before reading the page. Mom can then point out any vocabulary or sight words that her student is unfamiliar with and have the student use her window fingers to find the words.

I took Mom through an actual reading lesson using a book her daughter will be starting on Monday so she can see it in action. We talked about high frequency (sight) words and the importance of memorizing them. I reminded her that reading to her will help. I gave her my website with many different resources to use.

Reading should not be a stressful topic at home. I asked mom if she felt better now that she has some tools to pull out at home. She said she felt bad that she wasn't doing things right and stressing out her daughter, but she will try them and see how it goes.

I wish her the best! Hopefully this will put her daughter over the top to be successful!
The Constant Kindergartner is celebrating selling 400 items on TPT and is having a linky party for Christmas stuff!
Come check it out!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Felf the Elf on the Shelf

Here's what Felf the Elf on the Shelf has been up to while I was in a training today...

Can you see him? 
If not, I took a closer pic...

I also caught him hiding in the ocean diorama of one of my students. This sneaky elf really enjoys his job!

Monday, December 3, 2012


I like going to trainings. Is it just natural for a teacher to want to learn? This week I'm in a three day training for our reading curriculum (Treasures). When I first heard I was going, I thought, "FINALLY! I've only been teaching this curriculum for four months now!"

When we would get something new at my last school, it was common to sift sort through everything and commiserate collaborate with your team about the "to do" list. It made life a lot easier. But at this school, that sort of time isn't scheduled into the daily schedule, so I was relying on my savvy "sort now, ask questions later" routine.

Although this training is meant for someone who has never even cracked open the spine of the teacher's manual, the trainer is well aware we're not total newbies, and she's doing a pretty good job of adjusting accordingly. I'm enjoying having the time to look at the website and see new and exciting tools to use in my classroom! I thought I'd share a few (in case you have Treasures, or just looking for new tools).

The first thing I have to warn you, is that I've clicked on my state (CA), so all the links are from there. Now that you have that info, you may want to start at the beginning with your state (click on the Treasures link above).

When you click on the tab for teachers, there is a link that says "Links for Professionals" if you scroll down. This is a great source of many nationally recognized sites for literacy. Most of the links work, I've noticed.

Under "Building Reading & Writing", there is a link called "Alphabet Songs". This has audio of alphabet songs in both English and Spanish.

On the left of the page "Teachers" tab, there is a sub tab labeled "Student Activities". The "Spelling and Vocabulary Activities" has online activities not only by grade level, but by the topic of study. VERY helpful! 

These resources are free and have re-inspired me. Now to find the time!

Speaking of free, make sure you check out Mercedes from Surfing to Success' HUGE Giveaway. It closes in 4 days. You can find my Christmas clip art along with 37 other freebies from other teachers! Several winners, so go check it out!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A HUGE Giveaway!!!

Whew! It's Saturday! FINALLY!

Anyone else feel like this past week has been one of the craziest yet? Between holiday program practice, birthday celebrations, a change in schedule, an elf appearing in my classroom, and rain all week, I feel like I've been picked up in a whirlwind and set down with a thump!

I changed my calendar yesterday after school. Sigh. Come Monday, I know that the Christmas excitement will take over and there's no turning back. Hopefully Felf will report back to me any upsetting news...I won't be there on Monday!!! *insert evil laugh here* 

 Hooray for curriculum training!

And hooray for giveaways! My friend Mercedes at Surfing To Success is have a HUGE giveaway to honor reaching 200 followers on her blog. That's quite an accomplishment, since she's only been blogging since the summer months!

She is offering quite a spread of freebies from her store and her followers (myself included)! I just counted and there are 38 different items to be won!!! Please stop by her blog and check it out!

Surfing to Success

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elf on the Shelf in the Classroom

Last week my son was visited by an Elf on the Shelf. We adopted him and my two-year old so lovingly called him "Happy Face". We call him "Happy"...because his full name is a little weird.

Happy the Elf just hanging out in my guitar!

Growing up, we didn't have an elf visit us. I didn't even know this type of thing existed until last year while I talking with my aunt (who babysits a family who has a yearly elf visitor). As we were chatting it up, my sister told us how her best friend in middle school had one. It creeped out my sister because she realized it had moved during the night. But her friend loved him! My sister doesn't like that we have adopted an elf for my son.

This, in turn, has caused me to start "Operation Creep Out Auntie". I post pictures of our elf so that my sister can see what she is missing out on. I don't think she would be creeped out by him if we had grown up with one. It would just be an accepted a grown fat man shimmying down your chimney late at night while you sleep to eat your dessert and leave you gifts in return.

Honestly, that should creep her out even more, because I grew up in a mobile home and didn't have a chimney! My parents gave Santa a key to our front door! That's right, a complete stranger with a key to my home! Luckily, Santa is a pretty honest man, and didn't steal anything. But then again, most of the good stuff he himself brought.

A parent donated an elf to my classroom today. Brand new, in the box, ready for a name. This got me to thinking...could it actually help my students behave better when that calendar switches over to December? Every year I dread that switch. As soon as they see Christmas on the calendar they think tomorrow is Christmas. They're first graders, can we blame them?

So...with my brain in the elf craze, tonight it has me looking up lesson plans on Google. Yeah...good luck with that. Seriously, try it.

But, Teachers Pay Teachers has once again made me a happy girl! When I typed in Elf on the Shelf, I got some great resources and many of them are free! Mrs. Goodwin from her store/blog I Live 2 Learn, I Love 2 Grow has a super cute activity where the kids create their own elf and the shelf he sits on!


Mel D from Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations has an Elf on the Shelf Classroom Management System freebie that I adore!

And my last freebie find is from Kinderpillars. They have a writing activity where students get to analyze the elf's daily behavior as well as their own!

I love that what I couldn't find on a well-renowned search engine, I was able to find on Teachers Pay Teachers. What a great community!

If you use Elf on the Shelf in your classroom, I'd LOVE to hear about it! Pros? Cons? Helpful hints?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My New Technology BFF

Since it is Cyber Monday, and I'm hosting a linky party about technology, I thought I'd continue the week with technology!

Last night my husband came home with a gift for me. I had complained to him earlier in the day that the cords from my Promethean board to my laptop keep falling between the two desks every night afternoon when I unplug them to go home.

He bought me a solution...and it was from the dollar section at Target! Here are pictures of it in action:

*sold in other colors too!

This little rubber device* has adhesive to the back of it, so it sticks to the desk. All my cords fit right in and look so nice and organized! I think the Organization Fairy would be proud! 

----------------------------------------CHRISTMAS LINKY INFO BELOW-------------------------------------

If you have Christmas items you'd like to share, pop on over to Primary Inspiration for her Candy Cane Linky Party! What a cute idea!!! I saw some wish list worthy things from other sites I'm loading into my cart.
Primary Inspiration

Monday, November 26, 2012

Happy Cyber Monday!

In honor of avoiding long lines, traffic jams, grumpy cashiers, and a mental breakdown, Cyber Monday was created. This, in turn, created sneaky employees wanting deals, less productivity, grumpy bosses (who are also probably checking out deals too, but play the grump card so you don't interrupt their shopping), busy delivery drivers, increased sales, and happy consumers.

Yes, the holiday season has more than officially started. Don't worry though. I've done some research for you if you're looking for some great gifts online.

  • always has great deals. If you haven't checked out their "Lightning Deals", then you are seriously missing out. It's like gambling and shopping all in one! 
  • Looking for something a little bit kooky for your friend/relative who likes things the opposite of you? probably has the perfect gift. Last year, I found a ninja iPhone case for my sister. In years past, she received sushi earrings. They are all handmade, independent products. And well made I might add. Yeah, it's that cool! And yes, they have gift certificates too!
ninja necklace  $12.50

Toast Scarf $140

  • is one of my favorite sites for hilarious gifts for the techie in your life. My brother-in-law was the proud recipient of a photo lens coffee mug, while my sister received an office cubicle door bell ringer last year. If you love bacon, this is the place to be! 
Impress your students with these bandages! $4.99

Shhhh....don't tell your principal! $12.95

  • has a great way to filter through gifts. You can search by category, or even by the recipient's relationship to you!
personalized shirts $19.99

grow your own tea & coffee kit $19.95

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Technology Linky (MY FIRST LINKY!!!)

My school is a magnet school for art, math, science, and technology. I have fully thrown myself into the technology aspect. Being on the laptop and the iPad the school loaned me are both a hobby and now a passion. I'm truly enjoying creating, writing, and sharing.

One of the things I was able to do was create quality board math on the Promethean Board with ActivInspire. To read the blog post, click here. To download it for free, click here.

So I'm hoping that more of you are interested in sharing too! Link up with me!

Your link must be technology related. It could be a story about how you used some form of technology, an anecdote, a link to a technology freebie in your store, or a link to a technology giveaway you are hosting. I'm hoping to read lots of great stories and get some good ideas.

Don't forget to stop by my stores this Monday for some great deals! I'm also hosting a Christmas clip art giveaway on Teacher's Notebook.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Grab it Button! (A link for a How To)

This week has given me the gift of time. I was able to finish some clip art, post it, pin it, give it away, use it in my classroom, talk about it, and even write about it.

But one thing was missing. I have been noticing that blogs tend to have "Grab it" buttons...and I didn't. I found out that these are a great resource for linky parties.

So I made it a point to find out how to do this and found a great resource. Unfortunately, I didn't see a grab it button on her blog, but I'm posting a link instead:
Code It Pretty Link Here

Don't forget, I'm running sales in both my TPT store and TN store. Join my Giveaway for free Christmas Clip Art!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Containers for Promethean Board (A How To)

As a relative newbie to the world of the Promethean Board, I'm always playing around with ActivInspire to learn new things. About a month ago, I was able to take a class to learn some new techniques for my board that I'd like to share.

The first one is the simplest in ideas, and quite useful, but can become tricky: Containers.

If you've downloaded a flip chart and had an activity that involves sorting, you've probably used containers and didn't know it. Containers are objects that you designate what can be "contained" in them. This allows for instant feedback if a student is sorting. The image being dragged will "snap back" to its original spot if the answer is incorrect.

Before you begin, be sure to click the orange box (see arrow in picture). This allows you to be in design mode. If it is in blue, you can still create, but it won't lock the objects like they need to be locked. Reserve blue for when students are using the board.

To create a container, begin by creating the shape you will be dragging a word or object into. For simplicity's sake, I made a large rectangle.

Next, I use the text tool to label the box of what the students will be dragging into it. Click the arrow tool. Then highlight the box with the label inside it. A menu should pop up at the top of the box. Click on the box with two green squares. This will connect (or group) the box with the label. The benefit of this is that if you need to move the box, the words will go with it. Grouping is one of my favorite features that makes life easier.

Now we want to create what will be going inside the container. You can type a word, have a picture, or create a combination of both. My favorite is to create a combination of both. This makes it easier for the students to drag them to the container. To do this, I create a rounded rectangle, then type a word over it. Then, group them together. We want some words to be correct, and others to be incorrect.

Now comes the tricky part: turning the large rectangle into a container. Click on the square and the menu will pop up at the top. Click on the picture of the words (looks like a file menu), and select "property browser".

Once you've clicked that, another menu should pop up on the left. Scroll down until you see "containers". Click the + sign to open up the containers menu.

A menu should drop down saying "Can contain" and then a menu bar. Click on that bar and select "specific object".

Below this, where it says, "Return if not Contained", select "True". This means that the object you do NOT want in the box, will snap back to its original position.

Next, select the object that is not allowed in the box. For this example, I will be clicking on "cat". When the menu pops up, select the file menu again and then "property browser" just as we did before and go to "Containers". However, this time, you are only going to select "True" in the "Return if Not Contained" section.

Now, to check to see if it works, click on the orange square at the top to get out of design mode. Make sure it's blue now. Click on the objects and drag them into the box. If it is the one you selected as an incorrect box, it should snap right back to its place!

Click here for a FREE word sort download from my TPT store to give you an example of how containers can work in the classroom!

Freebie Fridays

Coffee, Kids and Compulsive Lists
The Teacher Wife
Surfing to Success Tips and Tutorials

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanks for the Giveaway!*

Things I'm thankful for this year:

  • My husband found a job after being unemployed for the past four months.
  • My family is alive and well.
  • We have a fireplace. This is both beautiful to sit in front of, but also helps keep the PG&E bill down.
  • My son is still young enough to want to snuggle with me each night.
  • Having a family who cares even when times are rough.
  • Rain. We need it, even though it makes everyday life trickier.
  • My car that is in working order (not perfect, but it runs).
  • Night lights. They scare away monsters and allow me not to trip over our black cat.
  • My cat. He makes snuggling in front of a fire even more cozy.
  • My couch that has recliners (on each end) for my tired feet.
  • Wonderful friends. They make me laugh, cry tears of joy, and bring a smile to my face no matter where in the country they live.
  • My home. I fell in love with it the day we walked in. We've lived here for a little over a year and it feels like I've always lived here.
  • My backyard. It has beautiful trees, a patio area, birds, and my son's toys that I love watching him play with.
  • My husband. He cooks, he cleans, he helps raise our amazing son, makes me laugh every day, and is such a caring man. I LOVE that guy!
There is just so much to be thankful for, even when times are tough. This has been the most difficult year I've had in a loooooong time. It truly makes me appreciate the good times. 

*This Giveaway is currently closed

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

'Tis The Season for...Sales!

I'll make this short and sweet. I'm excited for Christmas. I'm working on some Christmas clip art that I hope to have done soon. I'll be participating in the Teachers Pay Teachers Cyber Monday Sale, so stop on by! Save up to 28% on items you buy! Look for this sign:

Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday Shopping Secrets...shhhhhh!

Like most teachers (and mothers), I'm always looking for ways to save money. With Christmas right around the corner, I don't want to be caught unprepared. I also don't want to find myself standing in an eight hour line to purchase my groceries, no... the hottest toy umm...anything.

Last year I waited until Cyber Monday to do some shopping...that wasn't fun either. As you know, Cyber Monday falls on a...Monday. And having a tireless toddler means Mama didn't start her Cyber Monday shopping until after said toddler falls asleep. This in turn, means the Tuesday after was a no-fun-day at school for teacher (or students, I'm guessing).

Since I pretty much missed out on Halloween this year, I wasn't going to let Scrooge get me for Christmas. I asked my husband if we can decorate the tree extra early this a few days before Thanksgiving. He actually said yes! I'm thinking it was the idea that he's going back to work soon and knows that having a toddler around makes everything trickier...or it could be the extra ice cream cone he had after dinner. Either way, I win.

Last night I was feeling pretty excited about having no school this week in honor of giving thanks, that the Christmas bug bit me pretty hard and wouldn't let go. How can I shop online to avoid stores, save money, and get all the presents before December even starts?

And then it hit me.

I checked my e-mail for any deals that might be happening this week. And sure enough....I had some Groupon invites. I also saw Amazon calling my name with it's "Gold Box" and "Lightning Deals". And even Living Social made its way across my screen. These are places that I rarely frequent, and after this epiphany, I'm wondering why?

I was able to buy a gift for my sister and her husband (to share), my brother (and 3 of his closest friends), my parents (to share), and my grandmother all for only $65! I am brilliant. I can make this holiday season stress-free and exciting! I was feeling so confident, that for an extra $8, I bought myself $16 at (one of my ALL TIME favorite sites). Tomorrow my mom will be watching my little man so my husband and I can head out to Walmart to scope out some deals for gifts from the "big guy".

So when you're feeling down about your shopping, start thinking outside the box to save money. Groupon and Living Social have experiences that usually are for two people, are local, saves the receiver space, and allows them to choose when to use it! It's a win-win-win-win situation!


In honor of saving money, Check out the cool free teacher stuff over at Classroom Freebies (I could spend hours on her blog)! The above clip art is yours free too!

Classroom freebies

Monday, October 22, 2012

Halloween...Evil or Good?

I realized today that I haven't posted in quite some time! I think I'm finally getting into a routine in my new school/classroom/grade level/curriculum/way of life. The ridiculously hot weather last week must've drained me physically enough to confuse me into thinking it was still summer!

And then it hit me...OH MY GOSH! October is almost over! This means...AAAAAHHHHH!!! Halloween!

Halloween is either one of a teacher's most dreaded holidays, or the most celebrated.

For some, it can be the perfect excuse to decorate the classroom in spooky ghosts and goblins, create lesson plans using candy, plan a unit on pumpkins, a safety lesson, or even take a field trip to a pumpkin patch! The possibilities for Halloween are endless!

For others, it means kids so excited about the possibility of 30lbs of candy, that the moment the calendar shows Halloween, it's all they can think about. This is a holiday without a conscience. Whether you are good or bad, you'll get candy. And then there is the issue of costumes. How are the students going to focus when a witch's hat is blocking their view of the board? What should I go as this year?

Where do I stand on this issue? I'm neither for nor against. Each year I feel whatever I feel. Some years Halloween excites me like I'm still a kid and I go all out. Other years it encroaches on me too quickly and I treat is as another day...with less patience.

This year, the latter is ringing true. I had full intentions on making a go at making October a fun-filled month...but I let all the other more important things get to me first. You know, standards, focus walls, observations, assessments, trainings, trainings, sub plans, and more trainings. A girl barely has time to sleep!

On which side of the Halloween fence do you sit?

P.S. Join me at Teacher's Notebook for my Halloween Giveaway. If you have a Halloween giveaway you'd like me to add to this blog post, comment below with a link!