Monday, July 29, 2013

Brain Boost!

Last year, when I was putting together my weekly schedule for school, I found myself with two blocks of 15 minutes every week that I wasn't sure how to best fill.  They were smack dab in the middle of my morning, and I wanted to find a great, simple, academic way to fill that time.

I came up with "Brain Boost".

Actually, last year, I did not call this activity anything cute like "Brain Boost".  I just typed up pages of activities that I knew my students needed review on, or things that I wanted to quickly introduce whole-group, and I didn't make the pages cute or anything!  Gasp!  Not a clip art image to be found on ANY of them!  Double gasp!  

It was NOT acceptable for such an awesome teaching tool to look so UNawesome, so I spruced it up!  

The pages cover a wide variety of math and language arts skills...everything from patterns to skip counting to beginning sounds to punctuation.  And lots more!  Just imagine a sprinkling of Kindergarten concepts and you've got the idea.

I've bundled the first 20 pages into a pack on TPT.  In my classroom we complete these twice per week, whole-group with clipboards at our carpet area.  So, 20 pages will last us the first 10 weeks of school.  I'll keep creating as the year goes on, so that I'll end up with a full year's worth.

I created a sample page so that you can check it out for yourself and see if you think it could be useful for you in your classroom!  This time with my students each week seriously became one of my FAVORITE teaching times of the week.  I loved expanding concepts, teaching new things, or reviewing important skills in this short window of time.  The variety of topics kept everyone engaged.

Click the image to check out the Brain Boost sample.

The pack will be on sale in my TPT shop until Sunday if you'd like to grab it!  Click the image to check it out.

I'll also be giving a set away!  I'll select the winner on Saturday!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It:: name sticks

I spent all last week on vacation in southern Ohio with my entire family (18 of us).  We stayed at a cabin in the Hocking Hills area.  Who knew that Ohio was so beautiful??!?  Some of the places we saw were just breathtaking!  Caves and waterfalls and was gorgeous and grand!  God is a masterful artist!

Between laundry and unpacking, I completed a fun little project for my classroom over the weekend, so I'm linking up with Tara for Monday Made It!

I have always kept my name sticks in this cup.  I use them to call on students and put together partners, groups, etc.  

A couple of years ago, I came across this photo on Pinterest.

I thought the idea of painting the sticks was so clever and would be a time-saver when I was needing to pull sticks for something.  I had a can of green spray paint already at home, and I decided that I could accomplish the same idea by painting just one end of the sticks.  I did this last year, and it worked great, so I knew that I wanted to do it again for this year's class.

I just set up a piece of plywood that we had in our garage (oh, who am I kidding???  I don't know what plywood is!  I think it's plywood???? Any sturdy surface where the sticks don't move around would work.), like so. 

Cover everything except the end of the stick that you want to paint.

Spray, spray, spray that pretty green (or whatever color makes you happy) onto your sticks!

Let the paint dry, flip them over, and paint the other side.
When you're finished, your husband will probably lecture you about how spray paint kills grass and you really should have been smarter about how you set up your little project so that you wouldn't get any paint on the lawn.  You will nod your head and apologize.  But secretly, you won't believe him and you will watch that area of grass like a hawk over the next few days so that you can prove to him that spray paint doesn't in fact kill grass. (Or does it???)

While my happy little green name sticks were drying, I decided to cut some vinyl to make my cup a little cuter.  Turns out that it made it waaaaay cuter!!  YAY!
(I have been waiting to use that adorable polka dot apple shape.  Love it!) 

Here is the finished product, ready for a new crew of kidlets!  A huge improvement over the boring cup I used last year for sure!

The names go on the opposite end of the stick.  The green ends show students that are waiting for a turn.  Once they have been called, their stick gets flipped.  Then, when I have gone through all of the sticks, I flip them over and start again.  Works great! 

My list for next year is at 24 right now, but I painted 30 just to be on the safe side!  Always smart to have a few extras ready to go just in case!

Head over to Tara's blog to check out what other teachers have been making!!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Liebster Award -- how FUN!!

You may have noticed the Liebster Award popping up in bloggyland lately.  This award is given to newish bloggers like myself, and it feels like a great big HUG from the blog community!  I've actually been nominated by 3 different bloggers.  How SWEET!!  
Thank you so much to Sara from Polka Dot Palace, Tiffany from One Fab Teacher, and Brittney from Teacher Inspired for nominating me!  What an honor!! 

Here are the "rules" for this award:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 readers
3. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees
6. Contact my nominees and let them know I've nominated them

My nominations are:
Holly at Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Connections
Jaimie at Kinderworld
Jennifer at Teaching with Grace
Danielle at Carolina Teacher
Leslie at First Grade and Flip Flops

I'm only going to be answering Sara's questions, since she was the first person to nominate me.  The questions are all so fun, but I just don't have that much time! :)

Sara's questions for me:

1. What is my favorite childhood memory?
My dad is a farmer, and I have the best memories of riding around with him in his big red feed truck.  The seat was really squishy and I remember bumping all over the place as we drove.  That time with my dad is a great memory from my childhood.

2. Tell about your least favorite teacher in school.
I can't say that I remember a least favorite teacher, but one of my least favorite moments was in Miss Morris' chemistry class in high school when she gave me a detention for talking too much in class!  Ha!  I had to come to school early the next day to clean beakers!! :)

3. What is my dream teaching job?
I love, love, love what I do, so I would say....exactly the job I currently have, only maybe 4 days a week instead of 5 and the ability to use the bathroom when I need to! ;)

4. Would I ever want to be an administrator?  Why or why not?
I don't feel any push to become an administrator.  I LOVE my kindies and can't imagine a better job for me!  BUT, I am SO thankful for all the administrators out there who are fabulous at their jobs (mine is!!).  They make our job as teachers so much more enjoyable and they inspire and challenge us to be better.  YAY for great administrators!!

5. What was my first car?
My first car was a 1994 two-door, red Chevy Cavalier.  I started driving in 1997.

6. What was the last movie I saw in the theater?
We saw Monsters University as a family last week.  It was great!

7. How did I come up with my kids' names?
My husband liked the name Trey.  I remember him mentioning it all the way back when we were dating in high school!  I liked it too, so it was a good fit when we found out we were having a boy first.  Trey's middle name is Matthew, after my younger brother who passed away from cancer when he was 16.

When we found out we were having a girl, my first choice for a name was Hayden.  My hubby didn't love it, so I mentioned the name of a sweet student I had taught my first year in Florida.  I loved sweet Rowan, and John agreed that it was the perfect name for our daughter.  Her middle name is Caroline, a name I have always loved.  It also happened to be John's grandma's name, which made it even more special.

8. Tell about a lesson that went wrong.
The first one that comes to mind is from when I was student teaching.  I was using plastic rulers to teach vibration in a 2nd grade classroom.  I didn't do a good job of setting expectations and the kids were going crazy with the rulers!  They were using them as swords, drumsticks, magic was awful.  AND I was being observed by my college supervisor.  I left school that day and cried all the way home.
I actually have used plastic rulers to teach vibration with my kindies and it's been great.  A little management goes a long way!!

9. What do I do to relax?
I love spending time with my friends, chilling with my hubby and kids, watching reality TV, and blogging/journaling.  I love having the house to myself, since that never happens.  I also love baking, especially if music is playing that I can sing along to!

10. What is my most memorable vacation?
I love travelling, and have been on many memorable vacations, but the one with the dearest place in my heart is the trip I took to Kenya for an African safari.  It was my brother's Make-a-Wish trip only a couple of months before he passed away, and it was unbelievable.  I can't wait to be able to travel back to Africa one day.  It's incredible!!

11. Am I a Coke or Pepsi gal?
I am not a big pop drinker at all.  I don't really care for juice, either.  I don't drink coffee, and I don't love milk unless it's on my cereal.  Soooo...that leaves water!  Lucky for me, I loooooove icy cold water!  I always have water with me - the colder the better!

11 random facts about me:
1. I grew up on a chicken farm.  Like, LOTS of chickens.  Thousands.
2. My favorite color is green (more specifically, kelly green or granny smith apple green).
3. I get anxious about driving at night.
4. I don't have a spleen.  It was removed when I was 10 because of a blood disorder that I have called Hereditary Spherocytosis.
5. I tend to be a loud talker and a fast walker.
6. I don't really like to talk on the phone.
7. I love the show House Hunters.
8. I always play instrumental hymns during the independent writing block in my classroom.  I teach in a public school, but my students don't know the words.  I do, though, and it serves as such a source of encouragement in my day.
9. I have a stone-age phone.  No data package.  No iPhone.  No Instagram.  Text and talk only.  I know that it keeps me "behind the times", but I do it intentionally.  I know that I would LOVE an iPhone and all of it's fancy features, but I'm not sure it would be wise for me to have all of that with me, all of the time.  Stone-age it is for this gal!
10. Breakfast is my favorite meal.  Love, love, love it!
11. I prefer vegetables over fruits.

Questions for my nominees:
1. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
2. What is your favorite type of music to listen to?
3. What is your favorite subject to teach?
4. Where did you go to college?
5. Do you prefer sweet or salty?
6. Name 5 things that are currently in your purse.
7. Where is your favorite vacation destination?
8. How long have you been teaching?
9. What is your favorite children's book?
10. Do you prefer the mountains or the beach?
11. Name one special thing about the town you live in.

Thanks again, girls, for this fun honor!

Monday, July 8, 2013

My first Monday Made It!

I actually accomplished one of the items on my school to-do list last week, so I'm excited to be able to link up with Tara for my first-ever Monday Made It!

I blogged last week about the pom pom Expo marker idea that I've been wanting to try.  Soooo simple to do, and very clever I think!  I'm hoping that it works well.  If not, it's back to plan B....hubby's old socks!  Ha!

I grabbed my markers and craft pom poms last week when I stopped by my classroom.  I had a bag of assorted pom poms, and picked out the size that I liked best for the ends of my markers.

I also grabbed my hot glue gun.  I have one at school, but not at home.  I use this guy SO MUCH at school!

Here was my work station after I had finished a few.  All set up in front of the TV so that I could watch Say Yes to the Dress while I worked. :)

It took no time at all.  Once I knew that they were all dry and set, I put them back in the tub I brought them home in to deliver back to school.   

We use our Expo markers all the time in my classroom, so I'll be able to tell early in the school year if this works as an eraser solution or not.  My fingers are crossed!   

Head over to Tara's blog to check out lots of other fun Made Its!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Star Spangled TPT Sale!

Happy 4th of July!

To celebrate, everything in my store is 20% off today only!

Click the cute graphic to take you there!!

Thanks to Fluttering through First Grade for the graphic!

Wishing you a safe and FUN holiday!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Polka Dot Palace giveaway

A sweet bloggy friend of mine has reached 100 followers and is celebrating!  She has a big giveaway going on until next week Monday night.  She's giving away four different prize packs with lots of great resources.  

Click the image to head over and check it out!