Wednesday, July 31, 2013

It's a Back to School Blog Hop Hosted by PA Bloggers

Yeah! It's a back to school blog hop with loads of FREE stuff! 

Are you in back-to-school mode yet? I am getting there! 

When my blogging buddies and I decided to try our first ever collaborative blog hop, I was excited (after I googled what a blog hop was). Anyway, I thought I'd 
"cutsi-fy"/fancy up some of my oldies but goodies for the new year. Lucky for you, you get two of them for FREE! Just click on the images below to pick them up in my TPT store.

#1 Poetry/Song book letter. This parent letter introduces our poetry/song notebooks. During the first week of school, I introduce a poem to my students. We focus on a skill (or skills), practice it daily (various ways), and by Friday, students can read this fluently (or at least more fluently than on the first day it was introduced). 

For the past 15 years, I've used some sort of notebook/folder where students collected all the poems/songs we learned throughout the year. At the end of the year, each child had a collection of many familiar poems/songs to keep. 
These notebooks are very beneficial for many reasons (fluency practice, fun, parental involvement, meaningful homework, etc.). 

I made this letter generic enough so you can use whatever kind of folder/notebook you'd like for your students' growing poetry/song collection (I personally like 3-ring binders). You can decide what songs/poems to put in. We focus on one (sometimes two) every week. By Friday, students are ready to perform it for "Fluency Friday", and the binder is sent home every weekend for reading homework. These binders work well to fill time, to pull out and reminisce, buddy reading, circle time, etc. Parents love them, teachers love them, students love them and hopefully, you will use and  love them too. 

#2 Survival Kit-Unfortunately, I do not get to meet my kids before school begins. But, they do get to visit the school with their parents a few days before the first day of school. Every year, I make a survival kit goodie bag for each child to take when they visit.  I collect everything I need (cotton balls, Life Savers, Hershey's Hugs/Kisses, pencil top erasers, band-aids, small stickers, stars-from craft store, shiny pennies-clean with vinegar and salt if they are grimy and birthday candles). From what parents have told me over the years, it helps to build that strong home-family trust/connection that is so important. Many parents make it a point to tell me how meaningful this survival kit is. 

Hopefully, I was able to give you something that you can use. What oldies, but goodies do you use at the beginning of every year? 

Now, don't forget to hop on over to Nick at 
Pure Rhyme & Sweet Reason (click on his button below) for some more FREE back to school goodies!

Friday, July 26, 2013

PA Teacher Blogger Meet-Up, Great Sites and a Freebie!

This past week, I met some wonderful teacher bloggers. What started as a tentative lunch date plan with a friend quickly turned into a PA blogger meet-up with 9 people! This past Wed., we met at a restaurant, located on the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, PA.  We had such a great time! I can't wait till the next meet-up!!! Will you be joining us? Roll call...

Andrew from Mr. First Grade (Andrew's awesome wife is right next to him-she's a middle school teacher)
Autumn from First Grade Teacher Lady (4th from left)
Jess and Kheila from Two Friends in First (Jess is 3rd one from left/Kheila is right in the middle)
Wendy from Read With Me ABC
Jen from That First Grade Blog
Nick from Sweet Rhyme - Pure Reason (his wife is next to him...she's a guidance counselor)

For a little treat for myself to celebrate nearly a year of blogging, I decided to change my blog design. My friend, Wendy, told me about Designs by Christi. For a minimal charge, I was able to change my blog design in the time it took me to go grocery shopping (literally). Christi and I sent a few emails back and forth, and it was done! And, if you knew just how much time I spent yesterday trying to learn how to make and then put a blog button (and grab box) on my blog, you'd really know how much I truly appreciate the simplicity of this blog design switch. And, the best part is that the price includes a mighty cute button!!! By the way, if you figured out how to make a blog button, and you want to put it on your blog (with a grab box), you have to check out Grab My Button Code Generator. It's free, and once I FINALLY found this site (late, late last night), I was able to do the whole grab my button thing with ease! But, now I have a new design with a cute new button that I didn't have to bother with. Sometimes I want to scream while learning all there is about blogging I love to blog!

I'm including a little freebie for you for reading this novel. Sometimes I just have diarrhea of the mouth...tonight seems like one of those nights (yeah for you). Just read to the end, and you can grab it. 
Anyway, some of us PA bloggers are hosting a Back-To-School Blog Hop on July 31st. You don't want to miss it! There will be lots of back-to-school freebies! Put this right on your calendar (and say a little prayer that my scheduled post goes live when it should)!

To get your freebie for reading this gigantic post, just click on the image below. It will take you to my TPT store, and you'll be able to download it for free. Currently, I use Words Their Way as the main approach to spelling. This spelling test sheet is simple, yet useful. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Help!!! I Need Something and Can't Find It!!! Reward offered!

I am in back-to-school mode (well, a little bit into it). Anyway, last week, I saw a Linky or a regular post about great school supply finds for teachers. Someone (has to be one of you) posted about plastic folders that have clear pockets inside (maybe 6-10 pockets). Also, the same person talked about clear, adhesive label holders bought at Michaels. Well, of course I didn't write any of that down, but I keep thinking about them. I've scoured all the blogs I follow, but I can't find this post. I've done internet searches of school supplies and ........nothing! 

Today, at Office Max, I thought I struck gold when I saw the folders. And, the best part was the worker told me they were $1!!! He had to go in the back to get me more. They only had 15, but he told me to come back later in the week since they'd be getting more. When I went to check out, imaging my frustration when they rang up at $2 something!!! I told the cashier how the guy told me they were $1. She rolled her eyes and called him on her little phone. She told me again that they were $2-something...not $1 (insert little red mad face here). So, I didn't get them. I am on the hunt for these bad boys. I need them...they'll be so great to store/organize my students' assessments. So, please, if you've spotted folders that look like what I've described, and there are $1-something, or if you know about the label holders, please let me know.  I hope I can get these items online since I can't stand wasting time in stores, only to get eyes rolled at me...
Thanks so much!
*As an added bonus, the first person who lets me know about either of these will get their choice of a product in my TPT store. 

Hurry Up...Flash Freebie!!!

*Keep reading, and click on the image below!

I'll be back to post more later, but I wanted to put this on here now. I just finished a 61 pg. Word Study packet that focuses on initial consonant sounds. I use Words Their Way, and my goal (for the past 3 years) is to make my own games/activities that would nicely supplement WTW instruction. I have lots more to do, but I started with this one b/c a lot of incoming first graders need review/instruction on initial consonant sound (beginning of Letter Name spelling stage). This packet will compliment your current word study instruction (you don't have to use WTW). Hurry up and grab won't be free for long! 
Click on the image below to grab it now!


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Blog Award and a Shout Out to A Super Science Teacher Friend

I am thrilled and honored that Jess and Kheila from Two Friends in First nominated my little blog for the Liebster Award. 

Liebster is German, and it means "dearest", "lovely", "cute", "beloved" and "welcome". I think that's a quite a word! Since blogging is about creating community, this award is an awesome way to spread the word about new blogs.

To accept the nomination you must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them.

Questions for Me:
1. Why did you start blogging?
I knew nothing about blogging until I taught summer school last year. A much younger teacher friend of mine, Hannah, mentioned that "Blogging is what all the teachers do now." I had no clue what she was talking about, but I had to learn more. I checked out some blogs, and I was intrigued to say the least. When I saw that my friend, Wendy (Read With Me ABC), started her own blog last summer, I decided then and there that I could do it too. Wendy and I have helped each other out throughout the year many times!  I've learned so much from blogging, met so many awesome teachers and I'm so happy I decided to do this.
2. Where did you go to college?
For undergraduate school (Elem Ed/Early Ch), I went to Millersville University of PA. I started graduate school (Spec Ed) at Bloomsburg University of PA, and I finished it at Shippensburg University of PA. I went back for my Rdg Spec  Cert at Cabrini College (that's where I met Wendy).
3. What advice would you give new teachers?
Three things came to mind immediately...
#1: Do not let negativity bring you down. Teaching is a hard, yet wonderful profession. Shut your ears off to negativity. There is no room for it in this profession.
#2: Don't let teaching take over your life. It's o.k. if something isn't colored and laminated. The world will not end if you don't have the cutest materials. As long as students are learning, that's what counts! 
#3: Stay current! Education is forever in a state of change. It is your responsibility to stay current on best practices and research. This will also keep you fresh and motivated! 
4. What superhero power would you like to have for a day?
When I was about 6, I wanted to be Wonder Woman. Imagine my disappointment when my mom finally caved and brought me to the local department store to buy Wonder Woman Underoos and all they had where C-3P0s (yes, I got the C-3P0s). Anyway, I don't remember what super powers WW had, but I remember she had a lot of gadgets that were pretty cool. I would like to have her invisible jet for a day or her powerful tiara...maybe her bracelets or her lasso.
5. Who is your favorite musical artist/band.
Madonna! I loved her in the 80s (had the lace glove and hair bow), and I still love her! I'm so blessed that I got to see her in concert. What a show!
6. What is your favorite sport and sports team?
I am so not into sports! My husband lives and breathes sports, so that's kind of funny! I like the Giants and Yankees by proxy. PHR Royal Blue too (the team my son played on). Also, baseball is my favorite sport because that's what my son  plays.
7. What are the sweet and salty snacks you can't live without?
I love pizza with regular chips and a Coke. Also, I smash up pretzels and put them on top of ice cream.
8. Do you have any children?
I sure do!
9. If you didn't teach, what would
 you want to do?
I would want to be a hairdresser. It's a job that uses creativity, and I would love to help people look and feel their best. I still remember styling my Barbie head (remember those?)...I cut her hair in a lopsided bob AND I gave her a tail!  I cut (and styled)my sister's Farrah Fawcett head too...and I got in a heap of trouble for that! 
10. What is your favorite clothing store?
I don't get a lot of time to myself, so I prefer to shop online instead of going to actual stores. The two I order from the most are Gap and Loft.
11. What is a famous quote you love? 
"The idea is to die young as late as possible."
 To me, this means to stay forever young, take care of myself and enjoy life to the fullest.

11 Random Facts About Me:
1. I married my high school sweetheart. We've been together for 23 years, and we've been married for 12.
2. I'm from Hazleton, PA. I now live in Harrisburg, PA (about an hour south of where grew up).
3. When I was 7 years old, I got hit by a car when crossing my street. As a result, I broke my right femur. It happened in May, and I had to stay in the hospital for 6 weeks (in traction). My 8th birthday party was at the hospital! I'm now deathly afraid of cars!
4. I have a cat named Mowgli.
5. I drive a really old Jetta (it's bought an paid for, and I can't justify buying a new car).
6. I love the 80s (the music, the fashion).
7. I love to read...especially professional books. I'm a nerd at heart!
8. Gardening is quickly becoming one of my favorite hobbies.
9. I like to workout at home.
10. My favorite show is Three's Company.
11. I have one sister and one brother.

My Nominees:
1. Lori at Mrs. Ross's Science Class (Lori is a friend and colleague who teaches science in our K-2 building-be sure to check her blog out)
2. Kristen at The First Grade Scoop
3. Kady at The Teaching Trap
4. Susan at First Grade Friendly Froggies
5. Cheryl at Cheryl's Classroom Tips

Questions for the Nominees:
1. How long have you been blogging?
2. If you've taught multiple grade levels, what grade level is your favorite? Why?
3. What is the funniest thing that ever happened in your classroom?
4. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
5. Why did you decide to teach?
6. What is your favorite food?
7. Do you have any pets?
8. What is your favorite song?
9. What was the last book you read?
10. Do you have any children?
11. What is your most memorable experience as a teacher?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Flash Freebie and Special Congrats to a Super Blogger Buddy!

Read and click on the linked Monthly Writing Prompt Menu Picture below to get my latest TPT creation for FREE!!! It's a flash freebie, so you never know how long it will be free before I remember to go back on TPT and slap a price on it.

I am starting to work on school "stuff" now that we are in mid-July. My school doesn't begin officially until the end of August, but after teaching summer school last week, I can't stop thinking about this upcoming school year. I just finished rereading Pathways to the Common Core by Lucy Caulkins. It's a little dry for my taste, but filled with some excellent information about CCSS!

 I am impatiently waiting these two books to arrive: 

  I love, love, love Daily 5 and CAFE-they are great approaches to literacy and classroom management backed by such great research and they make such sense. As one of the Daily 5 activities, my students work on writing daily (once routines are up and running). This past year, I created some writing prompt menus to help provide some support when they wrote independently. After teaching my students what they were, the importance of them, why we are using them, how to use them and modeled/practiced with them until I was using them in my sleep, these writing prompt menus were utilized by them daily. 

This is how I used them:
1. I used gradual release of responsibility model to teach my students how to use them ("I Do", "We Do", "You Do").
2. I laminated a set of monthly writing prompt menus and placed them in the writing station. Later on in the year, I copied one for everyone, and they put them in their writing folders so they would always have one (didn't have to walk to get one if need be).
3. At the conclusion of each round of Daily 5, we'd have our check-in. Any student who worked on their writing lined up with their writing. As soon as one other student was ready to listen, the first author read what he/she wrote. The class gave immediate positive feedback, and I helped each student set goals for the next time they are working on writing. We didn't wait for everyone to get cleaned up before the sharing began. Wow...such motivation to get everyone cleaned up, though! No one wanted to miss this-it was really quite adorable.

Of course, you could use them in any way you want too :)! Now, go on and click below to go to my store and get this packet for FREE! 

 Now, onto other news...
My friend, Wendy, from Read With Me ABC just got to the 100 follower mark, and she is having an awesome giveaway. Just click on the image to check out her cute and informative blog and to enter this amazing giveaway. I'm giving away my Nonfiction Text Features Notebook. 

I am also super excited to be nominated for the Leibster Blog Award by Jess and Kheila at Two Friends in First.  I'm running out of time kids are asking me to go to the pool. I will be back tomorrow with my Leibster info. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Picture Book Recommendations (Character Education)

This week, I am not late to Week #3 of this fabulous series of picture book linky parties. I enjoy learning about new picture books and refreshing my love for those well-loved classics.
Join Deanne, from First Grade and Fabulous, to share your picture book recommendations that teach character education. Just simply click on the image below:
I could have listed every book by Kevin Henkes, Howard Binkow and Julia Cook. They are awesome authors who write books that young children really connect with. I find myself quoting many of these books all year long. For example, from My Mouth Is a Volcano, I find myself saying, "Your mouth is erupting again.". It's awesome when a student will immediately be quiet because he/she remembers that particular book. 

Making friends, settling differences, showing kindness:

Awareness of bullying (what a bully is, what to do when someone bullies you or someone else, rules against bullying):

Listening Skills (what a good listener looks like, what a good listener does, importance of listening):

Accepting yourself, living your dream(s), breaking out of your shell:

Tattling/How to Be a Good Friend (what is tattling vs. telling, why friends don't like when others tattle):

I hope you learned about some new books. There are a ton of great picture book recommendations on this linky. Don't forget to click on the linky image above to check out all the book picks.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Math Book Picks

I know I'm a little late to the party, but I'm linking up with First Grade and Fabulous to share some of my favorite picture books I use to teach math concepts. From reading what other people have listed on their posts, I've learned about many new math titles that I want to add to the class library. So, join the party and link up (just click on the image below):

Too bad I am not in my classroom right now because I am sure I would have more titles. These are my top picks (kid-tested/teacher approved):
Counting/Number Concepts:
*The Doorbell Rang could also be used in the fraction category. 


Telling Time:

*There is a whole series of nonfiction money books by Mary Hill. I use them every year, and they quickly become ones my students choose for their reading boxes. They have been taped multiple times-I highly recommend this series. I got it from Scholastic a few years ago.

*Jerry Pallotta is, in my opinion, an awesome author. He wrote a variety of books for children, including some great ones about many different math concepts. My kids LOVE these books. He has a bunch of Hershey themed books.




What math books do you use?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

July Goals Linky

I joined the July Goals Linky hosted by Jess at I (Heart) Recess. Click on the link above to add your July goals! 

Here goes...
Personal: We all know negativity brings us down. And, at times, it's easy to be brought down...So, I am making a conscious effort to try and be more positive (at home, school, etc.).

Family: With three little boys (ages 8, 4, 2), I savor every minute of summer vacation. Yes, we can all get on each others' nerves at times, but it is truly a blessing to spend so much time with them. My hubby is also a teacher (middle school science), so he is home too (and we NEVER get on each others' nerves...wink, wink). 
We all need to cut back on the electronics usage around here...

Health: I just cannot get myself to track what I eat for more than 1/2 a day! I pay for WW online monthly, and that still doesn't motivate me to do it. I guess I am scared to face what I am really putting in my mouth! So, my goal is to track what I eat daily!!! I may not be happy with what I find, but I believe it's time to face reality and put less food in my mouth. But, I LOVE to eat...
I am doing pretty well with exercise, but I need to be more consistent about alternating cardio and weight training. 
By the way, I do not work for her company, but I highly recommend Cathe Friedrich at if you are a home exerciser. I've been doing her workouts for about 20 years now, and they are simply the best. She kicks my a**! And, she's not annoying. She has a great website, too. I recommend her a lot! 

School: This summer, I plan to sit down and figure out my whole year (starting with the language arts block). We have a new first grade curriculum that I helped to write, and it's all aligned to Common Core. I'm very excited to implement it this year!
Anyone out there use a math workshop approach when using Everyday Math? If so, I'd love to talk with you. I can't seem to wrap my head around it. Last year was the first year our school used EDM. Thoughts, anyone?

Blog/TPT: I have a few more projects in the works for TPT. My goal is to be done with 3 of them by the end of the month. As for my blog, I'd like to think of a weekly themed blog post. I'm thinking Daily 5 or CAFE...or both? Something that will be helpful for me and others. Thanks to Wendy at Read With Me ABC for giving me this weekly blog post idea (she does Word Power Wednesdays).

Outside the Box: I tend to eat the same things for breakfast (either oatmeal with honey, bananas and 1% milk OR 2 egg whites (or 1 1/2 eggs) with 1 piece of wheat toast, dab of butter and fruit.
A few weeks ago, by hubby and I bought a Vitamix for our anniversary (12 years). I have tried a few green smoothies, and they were awesome. I just have to get out of my breakfast rut and try different foods. 
By the way, the green smoothie I liked the best (a.k.a. I did not have to hold my nose while drinking it down) was made using this recipe:
green grapes (a handful)
1 banana
1/2 Granny Smith apple
a handful of fresh
a handful of kale
1/2 C water
a few ice cubes
* Actually it was very good! 

This was fun, now let's see if I meet my goals!!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Find New Blogs with a Blog Hop!

Now that I am officially thinking about this upcoming school year, I am in search of great blogs. With the switch to bloglovin', I found this great linky over at Tori's Teacher Tips. Just click on the picture link below and find tons of awesome teaching blogs right at your fingertips. You will also find very specific and simple directions here too (on how to sign up to use bloglovin').
Once you've signed up with bloglovin (for free, I might add), you can easily follow any blog you want. Then, you can customize your settings to receive an email (when you want) that has all your blog updates. You can also easily categorize your blogs into groups. A week ago, I was like, "huh?". Now, I am super glad I made the switch.
Go ahead and look around/link up.

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