Tuesday, June 23, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge Week 2: Dare to Dream

This week's TPT Seller Challenge is to share our TPT dreams.  This one is tricky for me because, if I'm honest, one thing I've learned time and time again in my life is that my own plans and dreams always pale in comparison to the things God allows to happen in my life when I place my trust firmly in Him....and my TPT journey has been no different.  
That being said, my dreams looked different when I began selling on TPT 2 1/2 years ago.  Today, these are my dreams.  

Back when I started TPT, I knew that it would be a learning and growing process, but I didn't realize that the learning and growing would really be the HEART of TPT for me.  I have made some money, yes, but nothing like I dreamed I would back when I started.  That was hard for me at first.  It looks so easy from the outside, but the truth is that joining TPT does not instantly make you a success.  Even beginning to blog, or joining Facebook or Instagram....they all start out small.  When I first started blogging/selling I never thought it would take me this long to gain followers, and at first I felt disappointed by it.  But here's the reality that I've been reminded of so many times in my life....God's way are often different than what we can plan for ourselves.  And, always, they are better.

So this is my TPT journey now, and these are my dreams.  I want to continue to learn and grow as an educator.  Teaching is a part of me!  I love it, and I want to continually challenge myself in it.  TPT is part of that.  I have learned so much since beginning to blog and sell on TPT, and I have grown in my craft.  I have not grown much in my bank account ;), but I'm realizing more and more all the time that that is okay!  I don't post new items often and I try not to take time away from my family to create things.  I create as an outlet and as a way to make my own teaching more dynamic.  Sometimes my things make their way to TPT, and sometimes they don't.  

Knowing what I know now about the time and energy blogging/TPT requires would I sign on again?  YES!!  In a heartbeat!  I have met amazing people and  have grown so much as a teacher!  And it has been FUN!  I love blogging, creating, and building relationships with other passionate teachers.  That's the heart of it for me that I didn't dream about in the beginning.  Every teacher's journey looks different.  I'm thankful that mine has included this online world of support and FUN!  My biggest dream moving forward is that I would continue to remember to look for the GOOD in every step of this journey, that I would continue challenging myself, and that my dreams for myself will be in line with the fullness God has for me.  His ways are always better and, in the end, I want what He wants for me!

Monday, June 15, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge Week 1: Makeover Madness!

I've joined up with a large group of teachers and TPT sellers to work on challenging ourselves and improving our craft during the summer months. 

Week One challenge is to make over a product already in my store.  I was THRILLED about this challenge, because I have had this very thing on my to-do list for months (maybe since last summer???) and have never taken the time to sit down and do it.  

I especially wanted to update my Winter Write the Room set.  It's been my biggest seller, and it has needed a fresh look for too long.  It was one of the first products I made, and it was in desperate need of some love!
I updated the fonts and clip art and started from scratch with a new cover.  I have learned so much since originally making this way back when, and it felt so good to change it up for the better!

Click the AFTER graphic or CLICK HERE to head over to check it out in my TPT store.  I know that winter is a long way off (thank goodness for that!), but I'll have it on sale through the end of the week in case you want to plan ahead for next school year.  Or, if you already have it, go back and download the revised version!

Head on over to Third in Hollywood to check out the other sellers in the linky!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Summer Bucket List {Linky}

Hi friends!  My last day of school was last week Monday.  It was a terrific day with a fun last-day carnival and so many smiles and squeals and giggles from my super sweet class.  Last week I spent time finishing things up in my classroom, and did some curriculum work with my team.  Friday afternoon was the official end of my teacher responsibilities until the end of August, so this weekend has been the feeling of 

I'm linking up with What the Teacher Wants for this fun Summer Bucket List linky!  Here are the things that top my list!

1. Next year, my district is making the switch to Standards Based Grading.  As a grade level team, we spent a day and a half last week organizing assessments and planning out a scope and sequence for next school year so that we're all on the same page as to how and when we will complete assessments with our students.  We are off to a GREAT start, and what used to feel completely over-the-top overwhelming doesn't feel so overwhelming anymore.  I love when that happens!  I'll just have some finishing touches to add before the new year begins.

2. I read Debbie Diller's Work Station books for literacy and math a few years ago and implemented both practices in my classroom.  
This approach has worked better for me than any others I've tried.  
If you want to read more about how I run literacy and math stations in my classroom you can click HERE
Last year, I focused more on my small group time with students and want to continue pushing myself to make that time as effective for my little learners as possible.  I'm excited about this book to keep me moving forward in this area!

1. Last summer I got in the habit of waking up early, going for a run, and then coming back for some quiet/devotional time before the rest of my family woke up.  It became my very favorite way to start the day and I couldn't wait for summer so that I could have that time again (without having to wake up at 4:45 AM to make it happen!).

2. Of course there are house projects this summer.  I'm sure that I will come up with more projects as the summer goes on, but right now I am focusing on closets and landscaping.  Hoping to get started on organizing closets tomorrow!

3. Books, please!  I have never been an avid, book-devouring reader, but every summer I like to take some time each day to read "just for me" books.  I have a stack of books waiting and others on my mental list.  Quiet reading time every day is a summertime treat!

1. Beach time is a must every summer.  And every year when summer ends I wish I would have gone more often.  Weekly beach time this summer, please.

2. We are taking a family vacation to Hawaii this summer!  I am SO EXCITED to experience Hawaii for the first time...and to do it with my husband and kids!  We want to plan our days out so that we don't miss a thing.  We still have some work to do!  And I have to plan things for my kids to do on our long flights.  Hawaii is a long way away from Michigan!  We just can't wait for this fun family vacay!

3. I love creating things and have a whole LIST of things I hope to get done this summer.  We'll see how many I can actually accomplish :), but I do hope for some good creative time this summer.

Head on over to What the Teacher Wants to read other teachers' summer bucket lists!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Kindergarten Tips LINKY!

It's been WAY too long since I've posted here.  I have missed it, but sometimes other life stuff just takes priority.

BUT... I love a good linky party and this one is right up my alley.
I am finishing up my 11th year teaching Kindergarten (one more day!), and I am passionate about this foundational year of school.  Often, we are a child's/family's first school experience and what we do sets the tone for years to come.  A high calling and awesome responsibility!

Here are some of the most important tips I keep in mind each year.

Number One:  Set high expectations....and then believe that your students can reach them!  I think my expectations for my students get higher and higher each year, and each year they rise to the challenge!  It's such a privilege to challenge my students and set lofty goals, and then cheer them on every step of the way as they work to achieve big things!  Expect them to be readers, problem solvers, mathematicians, and scientists.  Expect them to be respectful in conversations, to treat each other with kindness, to use high-level vocabulary properly, and to take responsibility for their actions.  When you set your expectations high, and motivate and encourage your students along the way, they will amaze you every time!!

Number Two: An organized space is a happy space.  Have you heard the saying "A place for everything and everything in it's place"?  I follow that notion in my classroom.  I try to keep my space uncluttered and well-organized.  I expect things to be put away when they are not being used and we make sure that each activity is cleaned up before we move on to the next thing.  We clean our classroom tables and floors several times each day.  It definitely makes it easier for me to focus when things are in their place, and I also think it benefits my students to have an organized, orderly place in which to learn.  Of course they are children, and it won't be perfect, but I hold my students accountable for keeping our classroom safe and organized.
And labels!  Words can be tricky for young children, so pictures really help them stay independent.  Sometimes I use clip art, and other times I use actual photographs, but I have found that labeling things well, with pictures when possible, keeps us neat and tidy and saves me from a million "Where does this go?" questions.

Number Three: Consistency is key with kids in general, and this is so true with our littlest learners!  From daily schedule, to language in the classroom, to routines, to behavior expectations and consequences, it is SO important to be consistent!  Of course flexibility is necessary in any classroom.  I think that when you begin to master the art of remaining consistent while being flexible, you are really on to something as a teacher!  Kids thrive with consistency.  It's so important.

Number Four:  Teaching is FUN!  Keep it fun.  Smile and laugh every day.  Sing and dance and be silly!  Remember to find the JOY in what you get to do for a living!  It's a gift!  It's a privilege and a great honor to be entrusted with little hearts and minds.  Not every single moment will be fun, but there is fun to be had in every single day.  When you are having fun, your students will have fun too.  Make sure that they know how much you love spending time with them and that you think they are one-in-a-million!  They are!  I want my students to look back on Kindergarten and, above all, remember it as a fun and happy place where they felt loved and valued.  

Head on over to Sharing Kindergarten to link up or check out other Kindergarten teachers' tips!  

Monday, February 2, 2015

EX-STRAW Special Valentine's Day tag {FREEBIE}

Happy Monday!

We happen to be off today on YET ANOTHER snow day.  I'm looking out my windows right now and it is just a winter wonderland out there!  Lots of snow, very cold.....I'm happy to be snuggled under my blanket right now.

AND....I was happy that this morning I could take a few minutes to finish up my students' valentines.

I did some looking a few weeks ago for cute ideas that didn't include candy.  There is plenty of that already on V-Day, and I wanted to do something different this year.  I came across lots of cute sayings to use with fun twisty straws.  I've never met a kid who didn't LOVE a twisty straw, so I loved this idea!
This saying was my favorite...
You all know I'm a sap.  I've said this a million times before and I'll probably say it a million more times, but far above anything else my students learn this year, I want them to know without a doubt that they are amazing and talented and awesome and irreplaceable.  I want to build this into them every single day.  And so of course I loved that this cute valentine saying was just one more reminder to them that their teacher thinks they are EX-STRAW SPECIAL.  It's true.  I do.

I made this tag and printed six to a sheet onto cardstock.

It didn't take me long to cut them out by hand.  I did that on Friday night while I was watching Shark Tank because my Friday nights are THAT cool.  I was hoping to punch holes in the top AND bottom to help them stay on the straws better, but the straws I ended up getting were SO twisty and fun that it didn't work that way.  No biggie!  One hole at the top will do.  My students will rip them off right away anyway, right??!?

I'd love to share them with you if you want to use them for your students!  Just CLICK HERE to grab them from Google Drive.

Here's the link to the straws I ordered.  Amazon Prime is one of my favorite things in the world.  I can think of something, press a few buttons, and BAM!...it's at my doorstep.  Love. :)

Happy Valentine's Day prep, my friends!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Penguin Addition {FREEBIE!}

We are knee-deep in a penguin study in my classroom.  We've studied arctic animals in the winter before, but never penguins.  This year, I wanted to try something new, and.....I mean, penguins.

They are so cute.  So sweet.  So lovable!

My students are officially in love and obsessed.  My heart pitter-patters when I hear them use the words rookery, predator, or even regurgitate (that one's a favorite!) in conversation with their friends.

They talk about the different types of penguins like they are family!  Emperor, Adelie, Macaroni, Crested, Rockhopper, Little Blue.... so cute and so fun!

I wanted an addition practice page for my students, and I knew that if I included penguins they would be suddenly motivated.  And goldfish crackers?  Done deal.
Students rolled two dice and used goldfish crackers to build the groups.  Then, they recorded their addition sentences on the recording sheet.  Simple, but fun!  My class loved it today!
 These cutie pie penguins came from Deanna Jump's Penguin pack.  I laminated them with my new at-home laminator of course because I am in.love.with.it.
 If you'd like to use this page with your students, CLICK HERE to grab it from Google Drive!

Happy weekend, friends!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Hump Day Highlight :: Good Friends Class Book

Hi there!

I'm liking this Hump Day Highlight linky with Mrs. Stanford's class!  It's nice to check in mid-week.  Click the image to hop over and see what other teachers are up to this week!

The book we are focusing on this week in our reading curriculum is Farfallina and Marcel.  I love this sweet story about friendship.  

You know I'll take any chance I can to create a class book. :) We had a great discussion about friendship and it led right into this prompted writing activity that will make a super sweet class book.

 Isn't this just about the sweetest thing you've ever seen???  
So much wisdom from this precious 5-year-old.  Totally made my heart pause and think YES!  Exactly!  Never forget this!

Sometimes I think Kindergarteners should rule the world.

OR....maybe not......


Too much.  So funny.  I love my job.

And P.S. -- look out for this one some day. ;)

Just kidding.  He's sweet as can be.  It's a bow and arrow.  Just so funny that THAT is what he thought of.

The rest were just sweet...
 ...and touching...
 ...and funny too.  
This one is serious about his candy! Ha!

And the speech bubbles.  "Do you want gum?"  "Yes."  "Thank you."  Hee hee!

CLICK HERE to grab this page from Google Drive if you'd like to use it with your class.  It would be a great one to save and use close to Valentine's Day too when we're all feeling the love!!

Hope you're having an awesome week!!  Happy hump day!