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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Best Behavior Motivation Ever!

December is always the hardest month to keep kids motivated. They are so excited for the holidays, that they're brains go on vacation weeks before the rest of them do! Behavior is the first thing to go, so this year I thought I'd use the holidays to encourage them to be on their best behavior. Of course I used the Elf on a Shelf, but the best strategy was my Christmas tree. It's actually just the top third of a tree I used to have at home. Every day, if they moved up on the progressive behavior chart, they got to pick out an ornament and hang it on the tree. You should have seen them trying! They went out of their way to help each other, keep the classroom clean, follow the playground rules, and walk quietly in line. I ended up buying 2 extra sets of ornaments because we ran out so quickly. During the last week before vacation, I was secretly taking ornaments off the tree and putting them back in the bucket so more kids could put them back on three the next day.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Thanksgiving Twist on Number of the Day

Number of the day activities are important to help build number sense, but they can get, well...boring. To shake things up a bit, we made number of the day turkeys. This idea was inspired by Susan Moran Jones. We'll be working on number sense all year long. During the first quarter we went to 30, this quarter we're going to 60. Of course, some kiddos are ready to go further, so I let them pick their own number for this activity. I used a turkey template I purchased my first year teaching (10 years ago!), but I can't remember where it was from. To copy this idea, you can download or make your own turkey patterns. For the tail feathers, I used some fun ways to play with the number as well as some skills to meet CCSS. I have a copy for 1st grade and 3rd grade. The first grade ones are shown below. My kids loved it!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

First Thanksgiving

I love November--the colors, the smells, the crisp air, and most of all the food! I just finished putting together my thematic unit on the first Thanksgiving which includes a recipe for Red Pickled Eggs. Check it out at TpT; just click on the link:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

New for October

This is my favorite time of year! I just finished decking my house out for off to my classroom. I have 2 different bat units on sale at my TpT store for October. The first is a literature unit for 1st grade. The second is a Layered Curriculum unit for 3rd grade. Click on the links to check them out!

I have also just added word lists for making words activities. Go to my reading page for the link.

While your here, take a look at my writing workshop page. Writing has always been my favorite subject to teach, and here I have some tips for starting your own workshop. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just a reminder...

2 of my thematic units are free, this week only--fall leaves and apples. Go to my TpT store to find them: Happy fall!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fall Freebies

Autumn is hands-down my favorite season! The colors, the smells, the weather, the holidays, and the fun thematic units!
(apple tree seasons--part of my Apples thematic unit)

To celebrate I'm offering two of my favorite early fall units for free...but only for one (school) week. The first day of fall is September 23 and Johnny Appleseed's birthday is September 26, so these thematic units will be free from September 23-27. They are designed for K-2 and include multiple activities in all subject areas. Click on the links to check them out on my TpT store:


Fall Leaves

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Welcome to 1st grade!

After a rough start to the week, things are finally calming down...marginally. Welcome to the world of first graders! Thank goodness for the helpful (and patient) teachers at my school showing me the ropes. I have owls all over the room from a set I bought from DK Coleman at TpT, so my kiddos keep bringing me drawings of owls to hang up. I thought I'd make my first bulletin board match the theme.

Monday, August 26, 2013

1st day of school!

It was a Murphy's Law kind of start with, I woke up at 2:30 this morning...and just stayed up, went running about 5:30, thinking it might give me a little energy to get through the rest of the day. I was wrong! Got my senior off to school okay, my 7th-grader missed the bus (or, the bus missed him)! They changed the bus routes without letting us know! So I drove him to the middle school while my husband attempted our daughter's hair (yikes)! Got back just in time to put on a little mascara and go, hair still wet, bags half-packed. (needless to say, I cried most of the mascara back off before the end of the day). Unsure of the procedures at my new school, half my firsties came right to my classroom, the other half wandered around the playground, making us about 5 minutes late to P.E. Thankfully, the P.E. teacher was about 5 minutes late also! A surprise assembly forced me to cancel my back-to-school read-aloud, and I only got halfway through my school required class meeting lesson. It took us 4 trips back and forth down the hallway to learn how to walk down a hallway without pulling papers off bulletin boards, tackling each other, or someone getting lost. My oh-so-cute owl bulletin board project that was supposed to take 30 minutes took and hour and a half, and my first sight-word lesson was completely cut, pushing the rest of them back a day. By the time all the kiddos found their bus or their parents, it was time to go, so no chance of regrouping and getting ready for the 2nd day of school. Oh's to another exciting, exasperating, exhausting, and completely fulfilling school year!
3rd grader

12th grader

7th grader

Friday, August 23, 2013

One of My Favorites

I just finished my school's open house. I had 20 firsties enrolled, and gained another two before the evening was over! Since I've moved back to 1st grade I dug out some of my favorite units and revamped them a bit. To celebrate back to school, I decided to upload my thematic unit on apples. It's on sale at my TpT store from now until the first day of school--August 26. I hope you have as much fun with it as I do! You may also like my letters and sounds assessment FREEBIE...

Click on the picture for the link to my TpT store.

Monday, August 19, 2013

I love surprises...but not this kind!

All summer long I believed I'd be teaching 3rd or 5th grade this year. A few weeks ago it was 3rd grade for sure. Just last Wednesday, I was switched to 1st! Talk about a change! Of  course, this is after my room was all set up for 3rd grade. It only took 3 days to take down everything and start over. All I'm waiting for is a reading group table, then I'm ready for the kiddos!

Here are some before and afters:
My room as I first got it. Yikes!
All ready for 3rd grade!
Calendar math wall

Carpet area--my wonderful principal bought the carpet at Home Depot for me, vacuumed the rug underneath, arranged the carpet, and then vacuumed the stray fibers! 

job chart


Something new for my reading strategy display. I've tried the CAFE in the past, and it just didn't work for me. I saw positive results with some kids, but not all. So I'm picking and choosing the pieces that work best for me. We'll see how it goes!

cute little tables instead of those big, bulky desks

another view of my tables

word wall

And I'm through!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Back to School Survival Kits

My official start of school is next Wednesday, when I get to go to meetings, and trainings, and more meetings before the kiddos come back on August 26. I've always made "survival kits" for my students to take home on the first day. This year I updated them with a super cute border from, but the first time I printed them off they were way too small! So I updated them once again. You can find them at my TpT store by clicking on the link:  See what you think...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Number of the Day

At a 2nd grade teacher friend's request, I've made Number of the Day activity sheets. All activities meet math CCSS for the Numbers and Operations in Base Ten domain. The 3rd grade version also includes a few standards in the Operations and Alegbra domain. Best of all, they're completely free! Click on the link for the grade level you want.

Number of the Day 1st Grade

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Back to School Menus

It's time to celebrate setting up a classroom, writing welcome letters, getting new class lists, and revised class lists, and more revised class lists, hunting down enough desks, decorating bulletin board, and all the other stuff we never have time to do. August just isn't long enough! To help you out a little, I have created a spelling and writing menu freebie for back-to-school fun. Click on the link to get a copy.

Back to School Menu Freebie          Back to School Menu Freebie


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Oops, another freebie!

Here's one I forgot. In an earlier post I promised to let you know how to get these classroom labels. Last year I had a small magnetic white board that I didn't have much use for, so I made it my daily schedule board with these labels. To get this look, just cut, glue to colorful card stock, and put a self-stick magnet on the back. I also have owl-themed labels on my TpT store.

Friday, July 26, 2013

It's That Time Again!

It's time to start getting ready for the new school year, and I don't even know which grade I'll be teaching! Can you say yikes?!

Even so, I've made lots of back to school freebies for my TpT store. Enjoy!

Owl Newsletter Template A blank newsletter template with the cutest owls I got from

Genre Reading Wish ListA reading wish list for kiddos to pick their favorite fiction and nonfiction genres with a cute border from

Literature Circle Posters red Literature Circle Posters (for some reason I couldn't center the circles, but they're meant to be cut out anyway). The circle graphics are from I love this blog!

Customizable Binder Labels Binder labels (yes, it is sideways). It is a Power Point Presentation. For some reason, switching from PP to PDF messed up the layout.

September Math Meeting My September math meetings on Smart Board Notebook software--these are completely editable.

And, of course, some fun clip art: Shades of Yellow Clip Art   Linen Polka Dots Clip Art

Check out my store:

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Classroom Set-Up

I wanted to keep a common theme for my whole room this year: owls with a lime green background and black border.
 My math wall has "kid-friendly" explanations of the mathematical practices, picture cues for the vocabulary, multiplication number patterns, and problem-solving strategy poster.
 Book buckets with bin labels found on Pinterest (as soon as I find the original creator I'll post it for you).
 CAFE wall with space for specific strategy anchor charts, word and idiom of the week.
 I made the schedule labels, and will link them for you as soon as I know how!
 In my word work area I have folder games, white boards and markers, magnet and stamp letters, and a phonics board game.
"Do You Have a Writer's Eye"--another Pinterest find. Again, I'll post the original creator as soon as I find them.


I'm brand new to the blogging world, and am so excited to begin! I've been teaching for nine years in 1st and 3rd grade. I hope to soon add pictures, documents, Smart Board activities, and lots of ideas.